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I am a big fan of Cadbury's Fruit & Nut but also a fan of the smoothness of Galaxy chocolate, so when I saw this bar of Galaxy Raisin, Almond & Hazelnut I thought I'd give it a try. Plus, I've not made it to my five a day yet so the raisins must count for something towards that surely!
The packaging follows the Galaxy tradition with a light brown outer paper sleeve overprinted with dark brown text and an inner foil wrapper. It differes from the standard chocolate bar in that the light brown seeps into a violet colour on the right hand side of the sleeve and the foil is also a violet colour rather than the usual bronze. It's different without being unmistakenly Galaxy.
I bought a 120g bar, well two actually as they were 2 for £2 in Asda. The chunks are thinner than those I am used to in a Cadbury's Fruit & Nut bar. The chocolate is as smooth as I expect from Galaxy but somehow it doesn't go as well with nuts and raisins as creamy Cadbury's chocolate does. My main gripe however, is the lack of raisins. I cannot fault the quantity of almonds and hazelnuts (although I am not a big enough nut fan to be able to distinguish the two once crushed and enveloped in chocolate) but Galaxy has definitely been mean on the raisins. No hope of meeting my five a day quota here!
For the figure conscious;
100g of this will set you back 533 kcal, 33g of fat and 51.1g of sugar.
Contains nuts! (and milk and gluten).
Ironing is a task that I endure rather than enjoy. Should I ever win 'big' on the lottery this is the first chore that I will pay someone else to do, but until then it's me, on my todd, ironing for seven. With such a large family to iron for I'm willing to try anything that says it will make the task easier. Over the last few years I have taken to using a steam press for most of my ironing, but the sleeve on that currently needs replacing so I'm back to my hand iron for the next few weeks. At least I can put the ironing board infront of the telly and catch up on some DVDs.
I'm not sure what drew me to the Comfort Vaporesse initially, I think it was probably on a promotional stand in either Tesco or Asda, but somehow it made its way into my trolley and I have been using it for the past week. I'm sure the 'Easier Ironing!' statement emblazened across the label probably encouraged me to purchase it. As I tumble dry the majority of my washing I am used to fighting with creased jeans and crumpled T-shirts so the idea of 'easier ironing' seemed a statment to put to the test.
What is Comfort Vaporesse?
As there is no requirement to list the ingredients on this type of product all I can say is that it contains 5% perfume, methylchloroisothiazolinone (which Wikipedia tells me is a preservative with antibacterial and anti-fungal effects effective against gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, yeast and fungi) and methylisothiazolinone (which Wikipedia tells me is a powerful biocide and preservatice - which, rather scarily, is a neurotoxin in rats).
How is it used?
Comfort Vaporesse comes in 1 litre bottles with a screw top lid and pouring spout much like that found on liquid washing detergents. The liquid is clear and looks like water but feels a little thicker than standard tap water. The liquid is poured into the water reservoir on a standard steam iron (this product is not designed for steam generator irons). It is important that the iron is descaled prior to first use (as per your iron manufacturer's instructions). Provided your iron is scale free, you simply add this liquid to your water reservoir and iron as usual.
Performance of Comfort Vaporesse
Using this product does seem to make ironing a little easier if it has been tumbled bone dry and left in a heap in the ironing basket for a couple of days. However, for ironing carried out on just dried clothes I found no vast improvement in ease of ironing. The Vaporesse has a strong floral fragrance, so strong that it initially set me off on a sneezing fit. I have not found this to last on our clothes, but it does make the house smell nice whilst I am ironing.
Currently on offer at Asda for 60p per litre.
I have had my new washing machine for almost a month and I decided from the start that I would take greater care of this one than I have of previous models. Admittedly I do not live in a hard water area, but my kettle, baby bottle warmer and iron do scale up over a period of time (particularly annoying in my iron) so there is room for improvement even with my supposedy 'soft' water.
With prevention rather than cure in mind I made sure I purchased some limescale prevention tablets before my first wash in the new machine and have endeavoured to use them every wash since (My partner is not as diligent however). I initially looked for these tablets among the washing detergents in Tesco and was surprised not to find them there, instead they were located in the cleaning aisle. I had several brands and types of limescale prevention products to choose from, gels, powders, expressball tabs and tablets. I am familiar and comfortable with the tablets so decided to follow my mother's lead and use an easily dispensed tablet. Comparison of prices made Tesco's Limescale Prevention tablets preferable to Calgon tablets with prices coming in at £3.43 for 40 Tesco tablets (currently on offer 2 for £6) and £4.22 for 15 Calgon Expressball Tabs. As I live in a soft water area I was prepared to use the cheaper version on a regular basis, perhaps if I lived in a very hard water area I might use Calgon occasionally as extra insurance against limescale.
Why use limescale prevention tablets?
These tablets prevent the build up of limescale in the mechanism of the washing machine therefore extending the life of the machine, making it more energy efficient, preventing limescale marks on clothes that have been washed in the machine and reducing the amount of detergent required to clean your clothes. Limescale prevention tablets also help keep clothes soft and I have not used any fabric softener in my new machine at all.
How to use the tablets
One tablet should be used per washload. Simply unwrap the tablet and place on top of your usual detergent (powder, liquid or gel) in the detergent drawer. Programme machine as usual and walk away.
My experience of using the tablets
My new washing machine has only been in use for 25 days but has done over 40 washes in that time. The inside of the machine is still gleaming and I have had no problems with limescale residue on any of our clothes. One thing I have noticed is that the detergent draw has not required cleaning yet. The drawer of my previous machines required regular cleaning due to detergent build up, the fact that this one remains so clean may be due to the machine design or it may be due to using the limescale tablets. I don't know, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
I should begin this review by stating that I have a 'male brain'. This can be assessed by looking at the left hand palm side up, if the ring finger is longer than the index finger then the brain is 'male', if the index finger is longer than the ring finger then the brain is 'female'. My ring finger is longer than my index finger, hence 'male brain'. And the relevance of my 'male brain'..... I don't read instructions. The significance of this for my review is that most of what I'm about to write is the story of using this machine, rather than the information from the handbook.
I accepted delivery of my Hotpoint WMD960P Ultima machine on August 5th and it has been in constant use since. I have the polar white version and not the silver one shown in the Dooyoo picture. It has now completed over 40 washes (I know this because I put a limescale prevention tablet in every wash and I've just finished a box, my partner almost always forgets the tablets so the few washes he has done don't count in the 25 day wash figure!). With a family of 7 to wash for it's a heavily used machine (I actually considered buying an industrial washer), I never do half loads so every wash it does is crammed to the brim. Probably the reason why this is my third washing machine in ten years.
My last machine was a Hotpoint too and I am happy with the make. Admittedly that machine died after two and a half years, but I must confess I did not even attempt to get it fixed so it could have been an easily replacable, cheaply fixed part that went due to the continued use of the machine. Instead of calling out Mr Appliance-man I surfed the internet for machines better suited to my needs. The last machine was an emergency purchase made by my extremely generous mother-in-law-to-be when my Zanussi washer-dryer breathed it last when littlest HonestBob was 5 days old. I could not get out of the house to look at new machines, nor did I have time to surf, so she simply called me to tell me Argos were on their way with a new one. Lord I love that woman!
However, it was an emergency purchase (and a wonderful gift) but, if I had had the time and energy to do some research I would have looked for some assets that were not present in that replacement machine, hence I return to my reason for buying a new machine this time rather than having the previous Hotpoint fixed.
The reasons why this machine is better than my previous Hotpoint:
* It has a child safety lock - anyone with a mischevious toddler will know their love of buttons and knobs. This machine has an extra button which can be pressed once the machine has been programmed and started which then prevents any further reprogramming once the the child safety lock is on. Initially my partner simply said that littlest HonestBob would switch the child safety lock off just by pressing the button along with all the others, but, the child safety button has to be held down for a couple of seconds and littlest HonestBob simply hasn't got the patience for this! So, my washing no longer spends whole days going round and round being rewashed because littlest HonestBob got to the machine before I did!
* It has a digital display telling you what programme you have selected, what rpm spin it will go through (800, 1000, 1600), the wash temperature (30, 40, 60 or 90 degrees), coloureds or whites, type of fabric (synthetic, cotton, wool, silk) and how long the programme has left - I love this feature! Having a male brain (as explained earlier) I do not read instructions, so this has been a Godsend. I just press the programme buttons on the front of the machine until the programme I want appears on the display, put my detergent in the drawer, press the on switch, set the child lock and walk away. Bliss!
*The buttons have easily recognisable pictures beside them so (when I'm not quite so precious about my new machine) it will be easier to teach my teenage children how to set the programmes. For example, Cottons has a T-Shirt symbol, you just press this button until the digital display gets to the temperature that you want (40, 60 or 90 for cottons), add detergent (and softener if you use it) press start, follow with the child lock (if required in your house) and walk away (I like the walk away bit best).
*There is a Bed & Bath programme for bedlinen and towels. No messing with this one, just one press, follow with detergent, start button, child lock and walk away even quicker.
* The machine spins at 1600rpm. My last machine had a max spin of 1000rpm and towels came out soaking wet. I have definitely noticed the difference that the extra spin speed makes. To cut my drying time even further I sometimes add in an extra spin, particularly for bedding and towels.
* This machine is super silent. Yes, reallly it is! After almost a month of constant use I still find myself returning to the machine to check that it is actually running. It's that quiet. As I do a lot of my washing when littlest HonestBob is in bed I find this feature a particular plus. The only time I'm actually aware that the machine is on is if it is going through a 1600rpm spin, then I can hear it churning away, but that is to be expected considering how fast it is going. Even at that spin intensity however, the machine cannot be heard throughout the house and it stays in position. It hasn't walked out into the utility room yet!
*It has an 8kg maximum load capacity. Apparently (having just glanced at the instructions) the maximum load for synthetics and fast washes (one at 30 and another at 60 degrees) is 3kg, but as I wash everything as cottons or bed & bath this has no effect on me. My previous washing machine had a 6kg maximum load and the washer-dryer before that was even smaller. With such a big family (due to increase further in March) the more washing I can get in per load, the better. The only drawback being that my tumble dryer can only take 7kg (and does of course work more efficiently with less creasing if I reduce the load) so I often have a backlog of wet washing waiting to be dried (Northern British weather being infrequently conducent to line drying)
Other features that may interest you but that I have not used
*Eco wash - cuts down on energy usage by not heating the water. Instead it uses an intensified wash action and water optimisation to get the clothes clean. I really should give this a try. My fuel company has just reassessed my monthly direct debit and as electricity and gas are now costing me a whopping £214 per month I need to start looking at ways to cut back our fuel usage.
*Time saver - this button reduces the duration of the wash cycle and is one that I will definitely be using. How much it reduces the time by I have no idea since the handbook (yes, I'm finally browsing it) does not give any indication of time.
*Reduced creases - this keeps the drum slowly turning once the wash programme has finished. I doubt I'll bother with this as I try to get to the washing as soon as I hear the 'all done' beep (which may I add goes on just long enough to let you know that the washing is done but not so long that you want to take a hammer to it).
*Super wash - uses more water so with my utility bills I'll be avoiding this one.
*Mini Load - I haven't used this so far, but when I get to the stage that I only have one pair of maternity trousers for work that actually fit me (I'd say this will be mid December) it will be on every night.
*Easy to read digital display
*Large 8kg load
*Fast, effective 1600rpm spin
*Very quiet running.
*Easy to install - OK, I'll be honest, I paid for it to be installed when it was delivered, but it looked easy!
*Simple button layout and easy to read display make this machine easy to use even with the tons of features.
*The 8kg load is more than my tumble dryer can fit in during one cycle.
*In an ideal world I would be able to pre-programme the machine to do everything I want it to do without having to return to it. For example, littlest HonestBob has horrendous eczma at the moment (all advice re creams gratefully received) so I am running his clothes through an extra rinse followed by a 1600rpm spin. This entails setting the first wash programme, returning to the machine once this has finished to programme it to rinse and then returning again after the rinse to set it for the extra spin. The machine has a 'Memory' button, but even after reading the instructions I cannot make out whether it is possible to programme the entire sequence of events for littlest HonestBobs clothes. I guess I will have to have a fiddle when I next wash his clothes (probably tomorrow) and I'll add an edit point to this review if setting such a memory programme is possible.
How much and where from?
£309.00 from Appliances Online (there is a delivery charge or you can take out a subscripton to Which? Magazine and the charge is waived). This was the cheapest that I found it and delivery was quick and at a time convenient to me. Even with the delivery charge this was the cheapest outlet for this machine at the time that I made my purchase.
Firstly I've no idea why Dooyoo has put this as an 'outdoor' toy because if you kept it outside you'd be certain to ruin it! I'm sure someone in their wisdom will move it to a more suitable category once they've read the review.
The story behind the purchase
We have had Brandy for at least 6, possibly 7 years now. I think I bought her for my daughter's 4th Christmas, but it could have been earlier than that, and my daughter is now 11 years old. So I can certainly say that this rocking horse has longevity. It takes pride of place in our playroom and I consider Brandy to be an heirloom piece. A toy that I expect my grandchildren to enjoy as much as their parents did/do.
My daughter had spotted Brandy in the window a local nursery shop several weeks before Christmas. She instantly fell in love, but as I am an early Christmas shopper I had already bought (and wrapped) the items on her letter to Santa. Brandy was also much too expensive. I think she was about £200, more than I spent on any of my individual children for Christmas and probably close to the total I had to spend on all of them. Daddy took one look and said a very firm 'No'. Mummy looked into daughter's eyes and saw love, but explained that Santa had already filled his sleigh for Christmas that year so she would have to ask again for her birthday.
Needless to say Mummy ignored Daddy and arrived home late on Christmas Eve with Brandy stashed in the boot of the people carrier (I'm so glad I have a Fiat Ulysse). My daughter's face on Christmas morning was a delight, I definitely cried when I saw her astonished expression (I'm welling up now!). It's the best present I have every given any of my children and has been worth the hefty price.
The rocking horse
Brandy has a short copper brown fur coat and a carved wooden nose. Her seat height is 76cm which, given the recommended age for this rocking horse is 3-6 yrs, is quite high and younger children should always be supervised whilst riding. She sits on a wooden swing stand which gives a forwards and backwards glider effect rather than a rocking effect. This feels much safer than a standard bow shaped rocker and I have never had the fear that the horse might tip too far forward or backwards. She does require quite a bit of space, particularly for taller and more eager riders. I would say 1.5-2 metres clearance should be allowed to ensure safety.
When we brought Brandy she came with a burgundy and cream rosette a bridle with reins and a soft paddled saddle with adjustable stirrups. After years of use by my five children and their various friends the saddle is no longer attached. I am told that Mamas and Papas can provide a replacement saddle (at a cost) and I am going to look into this as littlest HonestBob (aged 2.5 years) is keen to ride her on his own and I won't let him ride without an assisting sibling until he can be secured into the saddle (once we have the saddle he will still have close supervision but will be able to ride alone rather than in the arms of an older sibling).
Great things about this rocking horse
Despite some rough handling and lots of use (probably near enough daily for 6 or 7 years) Brandy still looks good:
Her coat has flattened, particularly where the saddle was, and her mane does not look as perky, but there are no bald patches or heavily worn areas on her body. She still glides smoothly (although I really should oil the glider as she has developed a squeak - must be old age).
The wood of the glider polishes up to a beautiful shine, as does her wooden nose.
I expect to get many more years of use out of her:
I'll be keeping her here for my grandchildren to stop my kids fighting over who gets her.
I think that it was getting Brandy that lit my daughter's passion for horses:
She is now a keen rider of the real thing (has been having lessons for the past 5 or 6 years) and she wants to run her own stables AND be a vet.
The 3-6 years age range is deceptive:
My daughter is 11 now and still rides Brandy regularly. Admittedly she is a shorty like me and (unlike me) does not weigh much, but this horse would go beyond 6 years for any child. I would say 3-9 years would be a better age range.
Not so great things about this rocking horse
The initial financial outlay is hefty:
I have had a quick surf and found her priced at £249.99 in Argos. The average price comes in at £250 but prezzybox.com is currently selling her for £219 (plus £3.95 delivery charge). However, she is an investment, my children have had years of fun with her. I doubt I will ever part with her (I have to have something to entice the grandchildren to visit!)
She does require a fair amount of space during use:
Before I donated my dining room to the kids as a playroom she was stored in the corner of my daughter's bedroom and pulled into the the centre of the room whenever anyone wanted to ride her. This wasn't great, but my daughter wanted Brandy close to her so didn't mind the inconvenience of shuffling things around when she wanted a rock.
I received this perfume as a Christmas gift from my mother-in-law to be and to be honest when I realised she had bought me a perfume from Avon I was not impressed. I'm a Chanel girl through and through. I like the reliability of a good quality (expensive!) fragrance that I know will stand the test of time and, most importantly, will last all day without me having to carry around a heavy bottle.
I also remember Avon from my youth, fond memories of surprises my Mum would present me with, often kids perfumes, and one in particularly, a bottle emblazoned with Daisies, stands out in my memory. I definitely associate Avon with little girls and old ladies.
This perfume was packaged in a large bronze coloured box and sited on a silky cloth within the box. Quite luxurious looking considering it is from Avon. My Eau De Perfume came with a body oil in the same fragrance. I haven't used the oil yet so this review is of the eau de perfume only.
The perfume comes in a heavy bottomed thick oval glass bottle with a non-descript globule shaped plastic lid. Considering my Chanel bottles are fairly plain this bottle is fine by me but I appreciate that other women may prefer something pretty. It's not a bottle to bother keeping, although once I have finished it I will shift it to my undies drawer minus lid to perfume my smalls for a little longer.
The fragrance itself smells strongly of alcohol when it is first applied but this is quickly replaced by a heavy vanilla scent. I do not like vanilla fragrance so am not desperately keen on this perfume, however it is not distasteful enough for me to throw away (I just wish the bottle would hurry up and run out!). The Avon website sells this as oriental and woody but I simply find it sweet smelling and a little like cheap icecream. This perfume is both too young and too old for me as I associate the sickly sweet smell with young girls and old ladies.
Thankfully the perfume does not last very long at its full fragrance. It settles down after about 2 hours to a light scent. I use this as my work perfume, keeping my Chanel for best, and by the time I have arrived at work the scent of vanilla is no longer choking me (I only us a squirt on each wrist to begin with). I will be glad when this bottle runs out. The 50ml bottle I have has lasted almost 6 months but there are only a couple of millimetres at the bottom now.
I have never been fan of liquid laundry detergent but I am a firm fan of a bargain and as this Surf Small & Mighty was recently on offer in Tesco AND I had a money off token (double whoopie!) I thought I'd give it a try.
This liquid detergent smells very strong in the bottle and almost made me sneeze when I first took a sniff. However, it produces a fabulous clean fragrance throughout the house when clothes are tumbling (I've got the tumble dryer on now and it's drowning out the smell of teenage boy!) and smells even fresher when clothes are dried on the line outside. The fragrance stays on the clothes in the drawer or wardrobe for days and it is a pleasure opening the airing cupboard to fetch clean towels.
This liquid is promoted as being effective at 30 degrees so that is what I did most of my washing at when first trying this out. At 30 degrees most of the stains on the washing were shifted but it did leave behind a little curry residue on a couple of white school shirts (will the kids never learn where their moutns are?) . It also left mud splatters on pale pink trousers after the first wash but lifted them at 40 degrees on a second wash (the trousers were worn in a heavy downpour on a country walk and were caked in mud splatters from an old quarry so very heavily soiled).
My youngest son suffers from moderate eczema and this biological washing liquid did cause a flare up on his skin after a week of use and I have since returned to non-biological detergent for his clothes and bedding. The rest of the family have suffered no ill effects.
Best used for
Bedding and towels as the smell is wonderful. I find the Bergamot fragrance particularly relaxing and it is lovely getting into fresh, clean bedding with a fragrance that gently wafts me off to sleep. Indeed, a little research has informed me that Bergamot essential oil is said to help counter a cold, decrease the effects of PMS and help de-stress. This detergent works effectively on lightly soiled clothes at 30 degrees but check for potential stains first as these may not lift at this low temperature.
Usually retails in the £2.80 region for 730ml but currently on offer in Sainsbury's for £2.00 until Mid Spetember.
I have tried dozens of body lotions and body butters, many of which I have received in christmas gift sets and these are generally fruit themed. For some reason my family members seem to think that I want to smell like a strawberry. Sorry folks, strawberries really clash with Chanel Chance perfume. My personal preference, and the body butter that I return to time and time again, is this Clinique deep comfort body butter.
The packaging is simple, a screw top heavy bottomed glass jar if you buy the 200ml body butter and a cream coloured plastic tube if you are lucky enough to get a freebie during a Clinique Bonus Time give away. At the moment I'm using a freebie and I prefer this packaging to the glass jar as it is easy to squeeze a little portion out onto various bits of my body. The glass jar does look nicer on my shelf though.
The cream itself is thick without being gloopy. It rubs in easily and well, feeding my thirsty skin. Initially there is a feeling of greasiness but after a few minutes this disperses and I'm left with soft, supple skin. Any feelings of tightness are banished and my skin feels protected against the elements (but be warned, this does not contain UV protection).
The greatest plus of this body butter for me is that it is 100% fragrance free. There is a mild 'cream' odour to it, but no actual scent, and the 'cream' smell does not last more than a few minutes (I'm sniffing my hands now and can't smell anything!). Too many body lotions and body butters are heavily fruit scented, some overpoweringly so, and if I'm wearing a quality perfume I don't want to use other body products that may clash with it.
I recommend using this body butter in association with a body exfoliator, Clinique Sparkle Skin is particularly good, as the body butter seals in the softening effect of exfoliating plus using an exfoliator first means you can use less body butter yet gain the same moisturising effect.
This is particularly good for dry areas such as elbows and knees but is not rich enough for medical dry skin conditions when a pharmacist or doctors advice should be consulted. I'm currently using it to try and prevent new stretch marks during my current pregnancy (yes, number 6 littlest HonestBob is on her way!) I don't know how successful this will be, but I can but try!
As I'm using this body butter on a daily basis (and getting more body to put it on!) a 200ml jar is only lasting me a fortnight, but I am using a fair amount on my midriff. With normal usage a jar generally lasts about a month. At £20 per jar this is quite expensive so I recommend buying during Clinique Bonus Time at Boots or large department stores when you will at least get a few other goodies when you part with your cash.
I've been a fan of Clinique products for 20 years now, since I discovered dramatically different moisturiser in my teens and have used many products in the range. I decided to give 'Sparkle Skin' a try after using Clinique deep comfort body butter and loving it. I thought Sparkle Skin would be a useful addition to my body care routine. I'm not getting any younger so I like to take care of what I've got (as the groaning bathroom shelves well testify to).
I've noticed that as I get older the skin on my knees and elbows is getting more leathery and sometimes I'm not confident wearing short sleeved tops, so my main hope for this body exfoliating cream was a softening of my elbows. The body butter does a good job, but I needed something to take off the roughness before moisturising as I find that a good exfoliation makes a body butter or lotion more effective. It also means that I can use less body butter for the same moisturising effect. All good when I want my body butter to soak in quickly so that I can get dressed and move on with my day.
This Sparkle Skin body exfoliating cream comes in an aquamarine coloured plastic tube making it easy to squeeze out every last drop. The MoneySaving Debt Free Wannabe in me has also seen me cut through the tube to scrape out the last crumbs of exfoliator so that there's no wastage at all!
The cream itself comes out of the tube in a thick aquamarine worm, mirroring the colour of the tube. It smells distinctively of menthol, something that I initially found offputting as it reminded me of foot cream. However, once applied to the skin, rubbed in and then showered off I do not smell like a tube of toothpaste. Good job really because I don't want the exfoliator to influence my perfume.
The exfoliator itself is full of tiny particles which buff the skin as you massage in circular motions. The particles are not gritty like some exfoliators so do not scratch at the skin. They leave my thighs feeling glossy and slightly tighter than they were before exfoliation and they leave my elbows and knees feeling much smoother. After an application of body butter to seal the effect I'm actually drawn to stroke my elbows, they feel that smooth!
I use this exfoliator once a week and sometimes more if I'm going on holiday. It costs around £15 for 200ml but I generally buy it during Clinique Bonus Time so that I get a few extras to burden my already overladen bathroom shelves a little more. One tube last me a couple of months but I only use it on my legs and arms, basically all the bits that are on show and get the most weather battered, and less frequently during the winter months when I hibernate in trousers and jumpers.
I recommend this for women (and men) in their late 20's onwards. It's quite a thick exfoliator and therefore can cope with older more weather worn skin. A little goes a long way so although it is pricey, it does last a long time. Washing the cream off can be quite time consuming and I often find particles lingering on the back of my upper arms and have to spend a little extra time ensuring they are all gone, but I think this is a sign that the exfoliator is good quality and does not simply wash away with the slightest bit of water before I've had chance to buff it around a bit.
In my quest to beat the ageing process that seems to be speeding up across the backs of my hands I have tried countless hand creams and lotions. I have granny hands, until the discovery of The Body Shop Hemp hand scrub they looked at least a decade older than the rest of me, but even with the help of the scrub I have still not reversed the tide of time completely. In between applications of the scrub that I consider a godsend I am still trying to find the perfect hand cream. The solution to my prampushing aged hands. This 'healing, soothing handcream' is NOT the solution.
For the benefit of readers I have performed a little self-sacrifice and I am typing this review after applying Lush Helping Hands handcream. My hands feel as if I have dipped them in cold chip pan oil. There is an obvious layer of grease covering my hands, my fingers are slippy and I can't wait to go and wash it off. This product is truly awful. Made with linseed oil, almond oil, shea butter and cocoa butter it sounds like it will be effective, but I can't stand the greasy feel on my skin. I'm also concerned that I will leave greasy marks on anything I touch (I've just handed the phone to my daughter and she wasn't impressed!). I don't like the smell either. I think it is the linseed oil that dominates the fragrance but there is an overall smell of oiliness that I just don't like.
With regular use this cream might soften my hands, but I find the feel of it too disgusting and I cannot leave it on my skin so I'm going to wash it off right now and put £5.50 worth of cream in the dustbin (It cost £5.94 and I think I may have persevered with 44p worth of it!).
The motivation behind trying the product in the first place
At 38 years young I have old lady's hands. There is no denying it, when I do the pinch test on the back of my hands the skin peaks in small mountains and no longer springs instantly back into shape. On top of that, the skin on my right hand is worse than my left and looks a little like alligator skin, I can see individual scales. It is depressing. My face has stayed relatively line free, for which I am grateful to my mum's good genes, but my hands tell the tale of a working mother of five (and a bit!). Nature versus Nurture, and nurture is winning in the battle for my hands.
Years of pram pushing have taken their toll, as has endless bowls of washing up and, more recently, an increase in handwashing to stave of swine flu (I'm not obsessed, I'm just careful!). I should have used sunlotion on the back of my hands, but honestly, who thinks about the damage the sun can do in the middle of a British winter? But it does damage, look at the backs of the hands of any woman who regularly pushes a pram and you'll see the results of sun damage, even in the middle of winter.
I've used dozens of hand creams and lotions, I've even forked out on Elizabeth Arden hand cream and I don't spend that much on my face! But the scales stay put. Yes, the skin gets softer to the touch and my hands smell lovely, but visibly there is little difference and what there is doesn't last long between applications. I really do have very dry hands.
How I discovered The Body Shop Hemp Hand Scrub and what to do with the product
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Old lady hands might seem like a very small complaint, but it really was playing on my mind. Approaching 40 is a big thing for me (I was awful as 30 loomed!) and having hands that look a decade older than me plays on my mind, particularly when driving and the damn things are in full view on the steering wheel infront of me. So a couple of months ago while browsing The Body Shop (on a mystery shop!) I took the sales assistants offer of 'help' up and outlined my general complaint to her (yes, it was all part of the mystery shop but I elaborated the scenario and I wrote a fantastic report about her afterwards!). The sales assistant took me to The Body Shop Hemp range, showed me the hand scrub and offered to test it on me. She placed a tiny pea-sized blob on the back of each hand and gently massaged it into my hands and wrists, rinsed it straight off with warm water and let me dry my hands. Instantly my hands felt smoother and the scales had gone!
What is The Body Shop Hemp Hand Scrub and why does it work?
The Hemp Hand scrub is a creamy exfoliator made with crushed hemp seeds. Apparently Hemp seed Oil has a very high concentration of essential fatty acids and these restore moisture, smoothness and suppleness to the skin. I can certainly vouch that the exfoliator is effective. I'd never considered exfoliating my hands, assuming that the procedure would be too harsh for the delicate, thin skin I have on the backs of my hands, but I was amazed at the difference after applying the Hemp Hand scrub.
How frequently should you use it and how much does it cost?
The sales assistant told me I should exfoliate my hands once per week at the most and I have found once every ten days to be sufficient to maintain a scale free appearance. There is still a difference between my right hand and left hand (about 5 years I'd guess!) but the back of my right hand no longer looks scaly and sore. The Scrub costs £7.80 per tube. I've used it 7 times using two pea-sized blobs with each application. There is very little missing from the tube so I expect to get a couple of years use out of it. Very good value in my opinion.
The only drawback to this product is the smell. Hemp has a very dodgy fragrance! As a teacher I do worry that students might get a whiff of my hands after I've used this product and think I've been smoking something I shouldn't have been. For that reason i use the scrub on weekend days. There is definitely essence of Hippy about it.
Other than the fragrance I can find no fault with the product. It works, simple as that. It is long lasting and good value for money. My hands have had a decade knocked off them and almost match the rest of my body.
Warning to other pram pushers
Apply a good sun lotion to the backs of your hands, no matter what season of the year it is. Pregnancy MAY give you stretchmarks, unprotected prampushing WILL give you granny hands.
Where is it?
Located on the site of the old Sutton Manor colliery, this stunning sculpture can be observed for miles. New on the landscape, it can be seen by people passing junction 7 of the M62, midway between Manchester and Liverpool. The Dream is signposted along major roads from the motorway.
What is it?
Opened to the public on May 31st 2009, this piece of artwork was commissioned and delivered by St Helens Council with support of Channel 4, Arts Council England and the Art Fund. Local people were consulted on the design of the sculpture and the decision was made not to have a piece that depicted the mining history of the location but to have a forward facing piece, something I feel has been captured in the purity, hopes and dreams on the face of the nine year old girl represented here.
Designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, the sculpture stands 20 metres tall. It is made of concrete and Spanish dolomite. From a distance it looks pure white, up close you can see flecks of grey dolomite. The surface is smooth to the touch. On my recent visit to the sculpture many people 'hugged the dream'. We set off in glorious sunshine, picnic packed and arrived (after a 10 minute drive!) to grey clouds soon to be accompanied by heavy rain. Yet the weather did not put people off. Many continued to climb the loose stone path to the sculpture, despite getting soaked through. Those that had already ascended remained for a few minutes longer to gaze at her beauty (having given up trying to gain shelter from her chin!).
The statue is located up a fairly long loose stone path. Situated at the top of the hill the path is, inevitably, steep in some places. I saw plenty of people pushing prams up the hill, but I assume pushing a wheelchair would be harder, but not impossible. People with mobility issues that do not require a wheelchair may find the climb difficult. Elderly people requiring walking aids would have a particularly hard time.
The statue itself is reached by climbing a series of stone steps on the plinth beneath it. There is no ramp up to the statue itself.
Parking is not great. The forestry commission car park is tiny and the drive through gates were locked to the site on the day that we went. There is a pub beside the car park, where it may be possible to park if you also patronage the pub.
Admission to the site is free. There are no amenities on site. We took a picnic (and ate it in the rain!). There are a few backless benches around the sculpture but the plinth is surrounded by loose stones, not grass, so take portable seating with you, if you intend to picnic, as a blanket on the ground will offer no comfort.
It's a sculpture on the top of a hill! The pleasure is in the walk up to the sculpture, observing the sheer scale of the sculpture and looking at the views below. It's a free afternoon out spent with family plus a little bit of local education acquired through reading the information notices located on the site telling about the history of the location and the sculpture itself.
I think the site could do with landscaping a little more. It has the potential to be a lovely picnic spot but really needs grass laying around the sculpture for picnickers to enjoy the site in comfort.
The sculpture itself is beautiful and very simple. I like the idea of 'hugging the dream' and that dream can be anything you want it to be. There is a locked door in the back of the sculpture and I'm curious to know what's inside. I'd like to know what a 9 year old girl has inside her head! We will be returning again soon and hopefully the weather will hold so that we can venture around the location a little more. There are several footpaths leading away from the sculpture so I think there's the potential for a little wildlife investigation with the kids. We took a short walk last time but didn't get far as the paths wre overgrown and we were ill-equipped.
The website www.dreamsthelens.com is currently under construction.
I love hot chocolate, especially with whipped cream and marshmallows, but my waistline has other ideas, hence I am on a mission to find the tastiest low fat chocolate drink so that I can continue to treat myself to a chocolate indulgence without wrecking my recent hard earned weight loss (see Cambridge Diet review for more information on that one!).
This mission has involved me sampling a range of Hot Chocolate drinks in different flavours and from different manufacturers.
This is a review of Options Double Choc flavour. One of my least favourite taste tests.
Making the Hot Chocolate
This is a simple 'Add hot water' chocolate drink so there is no fussing warming milk. If you use the jar of Hot chocolate you will need to add 2-3 heaped teaspoons of chocolate powder to a mug before adding boiled (not boiling) water. However, I use the single sachets so my chococlate is pre-measured. These work out more expensive, even when on offer, but I find them more convenient (and easier to hide from the the kids than a large jar!).
I have found this chocolate quite fussy to make as the powder does not dissolve well and despite stirring for ages with a spoon and whisking with a fork there are still small lumps of undissolved powder floating on the top. I am fussy about lumps so have to sieve the hot chocolate into a fresh mug. This entails more washing up and surface mopping as I always spill some whilst sieving.
The hot chocolate drink is quite bland with very little chocolate taste to it. It is thin, watery and the predominant taste is of overpowering sweetness. I am glad I did not invest in a jar as I do not enjoy this hot chocolate at all. The only benefit I can see is the low calorie count (35 calories per mug) but this is outweighed by the quantity of E numbers required to get the calories so low. At £1 for 4 sachets in Asda it also works out quite pricey.
The Jungle is an indoor play area catering for children up to 4' 9" tall (around 8-9 years of age is probably the age limit although none is actually specified).
Play takes place on three levels. At ground floor level is an area for under 3's. This soft play area has has a low padded wall and consists of a few large foam shapes, a low climbing platform decended by a slide and a few punch bag type foam balls hanging from the climbing platform. Baby toys are also available here and it's an idea safe area for smaller children to explore.
Stairs lead up to a mezzanine floor with another baby play area. The stairs are safety gated off but are still a little steep for my liking, especially when carrying a small baby. This area is usually quieter however and much better for meeting up with other new mums if you want to be able to chat whilst sat on a comfy sofa.
We don't use the baby areas nowadays as at 2 years and 4 months littlest HonestBob deems himself ready for the over 3's area (he's been dragging me into this area for months actually). This area covers all 3 levels of the building and consists of a sizeable ball pit, various obstacles, padded areas to climb, rope nets to scramble over and rotating poles to squeeze through, culminating in either an enclosed curly slide or a four lane wavy slide. This area is certainly challenging for littles HonestBob and I wouldn't let him go through the entire play area on his own (what would be the fun in that?) as yet, but I do feel it's OK for him to use this over 3's area with close supervision.
For those with children who let them sit down whilst at The Jungle, Sky Sports is available on selected days (posters are put up advertising football matches for Dads press-ganged into weekend childcare). The Jungle Express Cafe provides a range of hot and cold beverages, sandwiches (paninis etc..), soups, jacket potatoes and cakes. The children's meal deal is particularly good, consisting of your choice of sandwich and cup of orange or blackcurrent squash and two further items from a list of fresh fruit, yoghurt, biscuits or crisps (we go for the grapes and find this a very generous portion). This costs around £2.50 and is much healthier than stopping off at the golden arches down the road.
Our favourite part of this indoor play centre are the trampolines. On the bottom level of the over 3's play area are two fully enclosed rectangular tramplines. These make a change from simply dashing about and climbing stuff and are working wonders on littlest HonestBob's co-ordination, balance and stamina. I just wish adults were allowed on them! Despite there only being two trampolines there is rarely a queue of children waiting to go on them as every child (during the schoolday at least) just hops on and bounces for a couple of minutes or so before coming off and heading for a different activity.
As well as the usual indoor play stuff The Jungle also holds Messy Monkey sessions (painting and sticking arty stuff), Tiger Tunes (songs, action rhymes and instruments), Sleepy Snakes Story Time (speaks for itself!), Funky Fitness sessions (stretch & have fun exercising). There is also a jacappella musical programme available and baby massage. All of these events are timetabled for different days so it's best to check out the website www.thejungle.uk.net to ensure that you get the right day for the activity you want to attend. We like messy monkeys (the mess stays there rather than on my carpet!!).
As with all indoor play centres, the venue is available for Birthday Parties. We haven't been to one here so I cannot comment from experience, but I'm pretty sure HonestBob would love to have his third birthday here.
Opening Times from 10-6 every day.
Admission Prices: £4.50 for members and £5.00 for non-members.
Little cubs sessions (under 5's term-time) from 10-3 are £4.00 for member's first child and £3.50 for additional children, non-members pay £4.50 and £4.00 respective.
Babies under 1 are free
On Mondays twins and multiples are only charged for the first child.
There is also a reduced rate for Childminders on production of I.D.
Groups discounts are available if you regularly meet with other mums (I'm guessing this will work like the school discount at £3.50 per head for 10+ children.
Membership (Jungle Explorer) is free on completion of a brief form and comes with benefits including reduced admission prices, a free gift (sorry, never got around to collecting ours!) and advance notice of events.
One word of caution, sometimes they spray the wavy slide with something(?!) to maintain its slippiness. A notice warning about this would be nice since the speed at which you descend it increases significantly in the days after it has been sprayed. Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeh!
In April of this year I had a life/wardrobe crisis. After a half-term of overindulgence on Easter Eggs I tried on my trousers for work and discovered that only one pair of trousers fitted, and even they had a button missing, a hem hanging down and gave me a really attractive muffin top. To cap it all they were a size 22, the largest I have ever been. I jumped (with great enthusiasm.... not) onto the bathroom scales and discovered I had reached 16st 2.5lbs. That's a stone heavier than two years ago when I was 9 months pregnant with littlest HonestBob (and he was 9lb 9.5oz of that!).
Clearly something had to be done. This wasn't just a wardrobe crisis, this was a life (or death) crisis. Weighing that amount at 5ft 1.5 inches is plain stupid. I know the dangers of obesity. I am not a stupid woman, so why had I let myself pile on so many pounds?
Pondering over the reasons why was pointless, this situation required action, and urgently. I could go out and buy new trousers (size 24 :( no thanks) or I could pull up my socks, bite the bullet and commit myself to dieting. I chose the latter.
I'd been feeling rough for a while. Walking up the stairs at work left me breathless, my knees were killing me, I had dreadful heartburn and even putting my shoes on was becoming an effort. Plus I was finding it difficult keeping up with littlest HonestBob, and that's just not on.
So on the 15th of April (2am to be precise) I sent an email to the lady next-door-but-one, who just happens to be a consultant for the Cambridge Diet. I'd spotted an ad on the rear window of her car a month or so previously and actually spoke to her about it.... saying I would never go on the Cambridge Diet. I'd tried it 22 years ago and it was foul, the shakes only came in 3 or 4 flavours at the time and they were lumpy no matter what way you made them. Funny how attitudes change isn't it!
My email explained that I was now quite desperate and it was the Cambridge Diet or surgery. I'd turned down an invite to a school reunion because I didn't want to be the fattest there and I didn't want to become a social hermit just because I couldn't fit into my clothes. I was also having nightmare visions about fitting the seatbelt on my next flight to London, so much so that I'd booked a train ticket instead.
On the 17th of April I had my first Cambridge Diet consultation. My weight was stilll 16st 2.5lb. I thought I'd be embarrassed having my neighbour weigh and measure me, but actually it was a relief. Getting those numbers down on paper (OK, yellow cardboard Record Card) heightened my resolve to do something about it. She measured my waist, hips, chest, arm and a thigh (oops, wore a skirt to that consultation, but have worn trousers ever since!). She usually takes a photograph during first consultations and presents that to the dieter but I didn't need one, I had a particularly 'attractive' shot of me taken at a gig a week or so before (all part of my wake up call).
After weigh-in and measurements she explained the Cambridge Diet to me and gave me a couple of pamphlets to read at home. I'd already researched the diet on the website www.cambridge-diet.co.uk so had he gist of it in my head already. She then helped me select my 'food' for the week and I also bought a shaker to mix the shakes and soups in. I booked a consultation for the following week and then left for home (a whole two doors away!). The whole first consultation took about 30-40 minutes and each subsequent consultation has taken 15-20 minutes.
There are six steps to the Cambridge Diet, with the first step being divided into A and B:
Step 1: A Sole Source:
This consists of 415-554 calories acquired from 3 or 4 shakes or soups per day (depending on how fast you want to lose weight, your gender and your level of willpower). No other food is consumed although you should drink a minimum of 2.5 litres of water.
Step 1: B Sole Source Plus:
This consists of 615 calories and involves either 3 soups/shakes plus a 200kcal meal OR 4 shakes/soups plus 200ml of skimmed milk.
Sole source should be followed for a minimum of 1 week and a maximum of 12 weeks as it is a very low calorie diet (VLCD).
This consists of 810 calories and requires the dieter to consume 3 shakes/soups plus additional protein rich foods, skimmed milk and some vegetables.
1000 calories from 2 shakes/soups plus skimmed milk, breakfast, salads for lunch and dinner.
1200 calories from 2 shakes/soups plus skimmed milk, breakfast, lunch and dinner.
1500 calories from 1 shake/soup plus skimmed milk, breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack.
Step 6: Maintenance
1500+ calories from healthy diet plus your choice of using shakes/soups or not.
I am currently in week 9 of A Sole Source. I am chuffed to be able to say that I haven't 'cheated' once (oh OK then, I 'forgot' and licked the spoon whilst making cakes for the kids on two occasions.......... that confession feels good!). I had one day (the London work trip) when eating normal food was unavoidable, but I discussed it with my counsellor first and she told me to stick to salad and chicken if possible (I ended up with ratatouie and salad) and I still managed to lose weight that week.
The Cambridge Diet is a primarily a liquid diet consisting of shakes and soups. I won't lie to you and say that it's tasty. Some of the soups are, frankly, disgusting, and some of the shakes are much too sweet, but it is tolerable and my tastebuds got used to the flavours after the first week. It is trial and error as to which flavours you may prefer. I have tried most of them apart from banana flavour, which I despise in all things. As well as the shakes and soups there are two porridge flavours, plain and cinammon and apple flavoured. Apparently these are really popular, but I found them very floury and too thick so I just stick to the shakes and soups. There are bars too, but I have yet to try these. I'm worried that eating chewable food may set me on the path to ruin so will resist these for a while yet.
Shakes can be mixed with hot or cold water. I prefer mine as hot drinks. The flavours I have tried, with my own preference ratings are listed below:
Chocolate 4/5 If left too long this gets a thick skin on top which is not nice.
Cholcoate Mint 4/5 Also develops a skin. The mint is very subtle and quite artificial in flavour.
Chocolate Orange 3/5 Much too sweet.
Strawberry 3/5 Best cold. Very sweet but no mistaking the strawberry flavour.
Butterscotch 2/5 Much too sweet and smells artificial.
Cappucino 2/5 Like many of the shakes, very sweet. Apparently this is better made hot and mixed with coffee. I haven't tried this though as I don't take sugar in coffee.
Spicy Tomato 4/5 takes a little getting used to. Has herbs added but I sieve these out. I like my soups either smooth or with big lumps of veg in so the herbs just irritate me.
Cheese and Broccoli -2/5, Yuk, yuk, yuk. Smells like baby posset and doesn't taste much better either.
Vegetable 3/5, quite creamy but has a strange artificial smell. Blindfolded I would not know this was vegetable, but am not sure what I would think it was either!
Lactose free Leek and potato 3/5, this was my favourite but now when I have it I am overwhelmed by the saltiness. Mut be a sign of my tastebuds changing.
Chicken and Mushroom 4/5, this comes with tiny slices of mushroom in it. I sieve these out for the same reason I sieve out the herbs in the spicy tomato.
I'm sure I've missed some of the flavours out, but you get a general gist.
As well as the packet soups and shakes that you must mix for yourself (add hot or cold water) there are also tetra boxes of ready made shakes. These come in Banana, chocolate and strawberry flavours. I take chocolate and strawberry tetra boxes to work as it saves the hassle of mixing and sieving during my lunch break. These are slightly different in flavour to the shakes that you mix yourself. They are thicker and smoother and it is recommended that you increase your water intake if using the boxes. I certainly find them less filling that the packet shakes, but that is partly because there is less in them than the shakes I make at home.
Only the 'food' is charged or. There is no membership or consultation fee. Consultants can set their own prices but there is unlikely to be much variance. My consultant charges £1.80 per soup/shake packet, £2 for porridge and £2 for tetra boxes. I pay around £39 per week. Yes, it's more than I would pay for 'normal' food per week, but it's a hell of a lot cheaper than buying a wardrobe full of size 24 clothes would have been.
At my last consultation, after 8 weeks on the diet, I had lost 38lb. I'm wearing size 18 jeans (and they are loose). I've lost 14.5 inches from various bit of my body (not just my boobs for a change!!). After an initial surge of weight loss (7lbs in the first week, 5.5lbs in the second week) I have settled in to losing a steady 3lb per week.
* I have food dreams nightly, even lettuce dreams!
*My breath is foul beyond belief. I brush my teeth half a dozen times a day and chew gum (not recommended on the diet though) and suck breath freshening mints constantly with little relief. This is a consequence of Ketosis. The diet works by placing the body in ketosis so that it eats away at its fat stores. Do not use the Cambridge Diet if pregnant, or planning to become pregnant as research shows that prolonged ketosis can cause mental retardation that may not appear until the child is 2 years old.
*Socalising is a nightmare. Any meal consisting of 'normal' food has to be planned for. I'm going out for a three course meal in ten days time and am doubting my digestive system's ability to deal with that quantity of solid food after such a long time on liquids.
*This diet should be undertaken under medical supervision and only by those who are severely overweight where the risks of the diet are considered in relation to the risks of remaining morbidly obese. It should not be seen as a long term diet but as one to kick start weight loss or to rapidly reduce BMI where there are considerable dangers associated with remaining so overweight.
*I still have no trousers for work.......... only this time it's because every pair I have swamps me :)