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InsaneStar

InsaneStar
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Member since: 10.04.2009

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      21.06.2013 23:16
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      I think I'll stick to my usual waxing system, Veet is easy to apply but not easy to get off!

      I'm a BzzAgent, which means I get sent products for free, as long as I test them out, talk about them and give my honest opinion about them.

      So you can probably guess I was sent the Veet Easy Wax Roll-On Kit to try out.

      I'm not a waxing newbie so I didn't think I'd have any issues with this kit... I was wrong!

      On my first attempt: the instructions says it takes 20 minutes to heat up to be ready for use. I waited 20 minutes but it didn't roll out onto my leg. I gave it another 5 minutes, still no luck. After waiting another 5 minutes it was just about working but I wasn't prepared to wait any longer and by then I was in too much of a rush to bother!

      On my second attempt: I was more patient, I waited around 35 minutes for the wax to heat up and roll out smoothly, then I was off! The applicator made it really easy to apply to my legs, even over my knobbly knees! And, although a bit painful (which is to be expected), I managed to rip those hairs out of my legs with no bother. However, the starter kit only comes with 12 waxing strips which wasn't quite enough for me, especially when it came to cleaning off the residue. You have to use a strip to get rid of it as the after care wipes don't remove it, and it will not wash off.

      I was taken back to my first ever waxing experience when I was 17: I'd never done it before and I'd gotten wax stuck to my legs and was unable to remove it so I resorted to using a disposable razor to 'shave' the wax off. This time, I had no clean Veet Strips left to use and no amount of scrubbing would get it off so out came a disposable razor but even that struggled to get the residue off. My poor legs ended up red from scrubbing, not from the waxing!

      Compared to my usual waxing system (Moom Wax), this just seemed a lot of bother and too time consuming.

      However, if you do decide to buy Veet, it costs around £30 for the kit (when sold at full price), about £10 for wax refills, and about £3 for packs of replacement strips. I think this is fairly reasonable priced when I compare it to Moom (which is slightly cheaper but isn't electrical and doesn't come with an applicator like Veet).

      It contains beeswax so it's not suitable for vegans. The company claims not to test on animals "unless required by law" Hmmm...

      Now I've used all my strips up, I'm not sure I'll bother buying a pack of replacements because this experience has put me off. If I do buy some, I guess now I'm a bit 'wiser' I will make sure I keep a strip aside to clean up residue at the end of the waxing session.

      As for the results: it does what it says on the tin! It removes hair and keeps your legs (or wherever!) smooth for a couple of weeks :)

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      12.05.2013 15:57
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      If you've not got overly sensitive skin but are prone to dryness, this might work for you.

      As a BzzAgent, I was given a bottle of the new E45 Nourish & Restore Body Lotion to try out then give my honest opinion of... which I'm doing here!

      I've never used any E45 products before, mainly because they're not vegan (they contain lanolin, from sheep) and because the company's animal testing policy is a bit wishy-washy (they say they won't test on animals unless they have to - make of that what you will!).

      As I was given the bottle, I checked Superdrug.com to find out the price, and at the moment (May 2013) it's £2.66 for a 250ml bottle and says it normally costs £3.99 which I think is fairly good value for the size.

      Appearance: it comes it a sturdy plastic bottle with a flip-top lid and the brand name is clearly visible. The cream itself is pure white and opaque, it also looks the right consistency.

      Texture: rubbing it between my fingers, it feels soft and luxurious but with a slight greasy feel too.

      Scent: this lotion, unlike the original E45, is 'lightly fragrance' which means it doesn't quite have that medical/clinical smell that E45 normally has. It smells a bit floral but there's still that trademark E45 smell underlying it. However I think it smells nice enough not to worry.

      Using: I applied liberally as the bottle suggests and found it soaked in fairly well, it left me a bit shiny but didn't take ages to soak into my skin. My skin certainly felt soft and refreshed after using but within a few hours my sensitive skin areas (the tops of my arms and my knees) started to feel a bit itchy. I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt, and continued to use it for a whole week. Unfortunately the itching continued after each use, maybe the fragrance that has been added is the cause?

      Conclusion: It definitely nourishes the skin but I wouldn't say it 'restores' it because of the slight irritation I felt. I think I'll use it occasionally, like a dry skin First Aid treatment, but it's not something I will be using regularly.

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        14.04.2011 16:09
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        York Alternative B&B is a really chilled and relaxed place to stay for the ethical traveller.

        When I decided I wanted to stay in a bed and breakfast in York the first thing I did was a Google search for "York vegan B&B" because it was important to me that they'd be able to cater for my diet (there's no point paying for bed and BREAKFAST if you can't have the brekkie!).

        The place that showed up regularly in the results was this one, York Alternative B&B, their website is:
        http://www.yorkalternativebandb.co.uk/

        After doing a bit more Googling I decided this place would be worth a try so I sent an e-mail asking if they had a room available on the nights I needed and in less than 24 hours they gave me a phone call to confirm they had. I didn't book straight away as I wanted to organise my coach/train ticket first to be sure I could actually get there for a reasonable price but they were happy to reserve the room for me for a few days.

        The actual booking was really straight forward; I just phoned back then sent a deposit for £32 (the cost of one night's stay) and let them know when I'd be arriving. They sounded really friendly on the phone and checked that I knew how to get to them and that I wanted vegan breakfasts.

        Using the directions and map links from their website I was able to find the place easily, taking just ten minutes to walk from the train station. However, as you can see from the photo, York Alternative Bed and Breakfast is a house that's been converted into a B&B and it's not obvious that it's a B&B as there's no sign outside and it was hard to see the house number due to the garden being a bit overgrown. I don't mind 'natural' gardens but I would've expected a house number on their gate so travellers can clearly see they're in the right place.

        On arrival Di Hennell, the person who runs the B&B with help from her husband, gave me a warm greeting, an information pack, a quick tour of the place and asked if there was any specific information about the city I wanted or if I needed anything.

        I was staying in the 'lizard room' (I've called it this because it was decorated with lots of lizard models, pictures etc.) which contains the two single beds. I felt there was plenty of space for two people to share this room although I was travelling alone. It had a real 'home' feeling to it (as does the rest of the B&B) with knickknacks on shelves, books to read, a TV, spare blankets, bedside lamps etc.

        There was tea/coffee making facilities and soya milk was provided for me although I made more use of the filtered water as I'm not really a hot-drinks-person! As the water was just stored at room temperature it wasn't cold which didn't bother me but I know many people prefer water to be colder. There was also Original Source bathroom products (shower gel, shampoo, and conditioner) for me to use during my stay which is fantastic as they're vegan, cruelty-free and smell great!

        Each visitor is given a laminated card on which to mark their choices for breakfast and asked to leave it outside their room by 10pm the day before. I really liked the sound of the cinnamon toast so I chose that for my first morning.

        I was given a key to the house so that I could come and go as I pleased during the day but I wasn't given a key to my room which did make me a bit concerned about leaving my belongings there. However as the B&B only has two guest rooms and is quite small I thought that it would be too risky for other guests to steal my stuff so I put my trust in Di and her hubby, and I wasn't disappointed - my things were safe all day.

        Overnight my bedroom wasn't too hot or too cold but I could've opened a window or popped an extra blanket on the bed if I'd needed to. The bed was comfortable and I had a wonderful night's sleep.

        I stayed for two nights so enjoyed two breakfasts as well! I enjoyed the cinnamon toast so much on the first morning that I chose it for the second one too! Di used a homemade seeded loaf to make it and it tasted lovely (I'm now trying to recreate it to have at home!). There were also different cereals to choose from as well as toast and fruit. It was all very tasty and great not to have to worry about checking ingredients labels or asking lots of questions about what was vegan as Di had sorted it all for me.

        I met Hoover the cat on my second morning (there's a whole page on their website dedicated to him!). He was really friendly but Di warned me that he can act all friendly one second and then suddenly nip. He must've liked me because I left with nip-free hands! Considering a cat is in residence, there were no noticeable cat hairs or the typical 'catty' smell you sometimes get.

        The bathroom had a bath with an electric shower attached, toilet and sink, and is shared by everyone staying in the house. It was clean and airy with plenty of space for dressing and has a towel-drying rack too. I'm normally one of these people that has to ask others how to use a shower when staying with friends or family but I managed to figure out the B&B's shower easily so it must've been simple to use!

        On my departure I settled my bill and handed back my door key. Di said I could use my room for a bit longer if I wanted to leave my bags there while I went for a walk before my bus was due but I declined as it was just easier to take them with me.

        Overall, York Alternative B&B is a really chilled and relaxed place to stay for the ethical traveller (all the products they use are environmentally friendly, locally produced or homemade when possible, not tested on animals, fair trade and organic!) and it feels just like staying at a relatives house as there are photos, pictures, knickknacks, plants etc. all over the place. Some would say it was cluttered but I really liked it as I love looking around at what people have on display in their homes (my house is just as 'cluttered'!).

        When I go back to York I definitely intend to stay here again and am going to recommend it to any of my friends/family who will be visiting York, five stars! It's an 'alternative' to all the other B&B's out there and that's definitely a good thing :)

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          27.09.2010 21:40
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          If you've tried everything else then this is definitely worth a go to help you drift off.

          I've suffered from insomnia all my life so I'm always willing to try something different to help me get to sleep. I already have a mood light and often listen to music to try and drift off but I thought this product was interesting as it combined the two.

          I spotted it on PrezzyBox.com for £14.95 when I was browsing their online catalogue (I had a voucher to spend there) so I thought I'd give it a go.

          It's really easy to use, just pick the setting you want on the base then press the top of the pyramid to activate. The only annoying thing about the buttons being on the bottom is they're not easy to get to if you want to adjust the settings once you've turned the main bedroom light off.

          There are five different sound settings:
          - Chirping birds
          - Croaking frogs
          - The sea (with the occasional seagull!)
          - A babbling brook
          - Nature sounds (a combination of the birds and the water sound).

          Each of the sound options are on a loop which I thought I'd find irritating but the constant repeating sounds is actually quite comforting. I find that the individual bird sounds bug me but I'm a fan of the ocean sounds, I guess everyone likes something different.

          There are three main settings: On, off and 30 minute timer. It's a shame that the timer on it is only for half an hour, I would've liked an hour but it's handy that it does actually have a timer on it. I also really like that you can choose between light and sound together or just light or just sound, it means I can pick the settings that suit me best.

          You need three AA batteries for this product but they seem to last well because of the handy timer. It's not too big so it comfortably sits on a bedside table without taking up too much space.

          The big question is: does it actually help me get to sleep? The answer is a big YES! I wouldn't say it's a miracle cure for insomnia but it certainly helps me get to sleep a bit quicker than I normally would. I'd recommend this product for people of all ages that find drifting off to sleep difficult.

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            16.09.2010 16:20
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            A very well written book with excellent characters, it kept me gripped to the end!

            I was sent 'The Left Hand Of God' by Paul Hoffman free of charge from the publisher (Penguin Books) because they wanted me to read and review it for them. It's taken a while but I've finally got around to it!

            However if you want to buy it the RRP for the large paperback is £12.99 or you can buy it for as little as £4.60 from Amazon.co.uk (ISBN 978-0141042374) although the cover is slightly different to the one pictured here on Dooyoo.

            The book focuses around a character called Thomas Cale; he arrived at The Sanctuary as a young boy and knows no other way of life. The Sanctuary of the Redeemers is a horrible place: it's a like a huge monastery but all of the Redeemers (monks) are violent and cruel towards the boys to force them to believe their doctrine and to prepare them to fight in the war against the Antagonists.

            Cale and two other boys manage to escape but the Redeemers desperately want Cale back and will do anything to get him. They make across the arid Scablands to the corrupt city of Memphis but the Redeemers won't give up without a fight...or even war!

            I really enjoyed this book; I found a dark humour to the story which softened the harshness of the boys' experiences. I found myself liking the central characters and wanting them to succeed. Hoffman gives some insight into their thoughts and feelings but not too much so you still end up feeling intrigued, especially about the mysterious Cale.

            There's mystery, plenty of action and even some romance in this story. I'm not keen on love stories but Hoffman manages write about the relationships without it seeming overly soppy. There are a few parts that are not for the squeamish!

            The plot contains some twists, a few were expected but that didn't spoil my enjoyment. It leaves quite a few unanswered questions and the ending was left in a "to be continued" style which is why it only gets four stars; it really annoys me when authors leave you wanting more. The copy of the book I have says nothing about a sequel but I've done a bit of online research and it turns out this story is going to be a trilogy, the next book is titled 'The Last Four Things' and is out in January 2011. I'll definitely be reading the next one to find out what happens next!

            Here's what the blurb says:
            "'Listen. The Sanctuary of the Redeemers is named after a damned lie for there is no redemption that goes on there and less sanctuary.' The Sanctuary of the Redeemers: vast, desolate, hopeless. Where children endure brutal cruelty and violence in the name of the One True Faith. Lost in the Sanctuary's huge maze of corridors is a boy: his age uncertain, his real name unknown. They call him Cale. He is strange and secretive, witty and charming - and violent. But when he opens the wrong door at the wrong time he witnesses an act so horrible he must flee, or die. The Redeemers will go to any lengths to get Cale back. Not because of the secret he has discovered. But because of a more terrifying secret that lies undiscovered in himself."

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              15.09.2010 17:50
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              If you want to know their history check Wikipedia or listen to this CD for free online!

              I had a voucher for Zavvi.com so I searched their website and discovered a CD called 'Maximum Evanescence' for £5.95. I decided to take a chance and buy it.

              When I ordered this CD I didn't know anything about it; the description on Zavvi didn't say it was a biography (in fact the description didn't say anything!) and the track titles made me think it was a music album (see below for the track listing). It's an unauthorised biography and it's interesting but in my opinion most of the things it discusses won't be new to any true Evanescence fans. It comes with a mini-poster (slightly bigger than A4) which features Amy but I wouldn't say it's the best image of her. It runs for about an hour and after listening to once I probably won't bother listening to it again which makes it a bit of a waste of money. It does contain actual interview clips with the band but it doesn't feature any of their music, all the background music has been written by someone else although it does compliment the presenter well.

              If you're a new Evanescence fan then you might like to listen to this to understand the background of the band but if you're a die-hard fan then I wouldn't bother, you could probably find all the information contained on this CD online if you know how to use a search engine!

              Track listing:
              1. Intro/Staring At The Sun
              2. The Immortal Friendship
              3. Away From The Light
              4. Connections
              5. Bearing Fruit
              6. The Band Without Fear
              7. Spreading The Darkness
              8. The Christian Controversy
              9. Masters Of The Stage
              10. The Faerie Queene
              11. The Dark Rebel
              12. Fortune Favours The Brave

              ISBN: 1842402382
              Published by Chrome Dreams www.chromedreams.co.uk

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              16.08.2010 17:36
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              I don't think any good book collection is complete without these original tales.

              I got given this book as a birthday gift and at first glances I wasn't that impressed but after having a flick through I realised it wasn't quite the traditional girly fairy tales that I had expected!

              You can buy this paperback book from Amazon.co.uk for £6.49 (RRP £9.99). The ISBN is 978-0099511441.

              I'm only halfway through this book but I feel I've read enough to review it anyway. The reason I'm struggling with this book is that it contains 279 short stories, some of which are quite similar; I feel this book is more for dipping into than reading the whole lot in one go. It gets boring if you just sit and read one tale after another so instead I've decided to read one story per day. It definitely makes great bedtime reading, it almost takes me back to my childhood of having a story before I went to sleep.

              Even though I've said it can be boring it's not actually a boring book, it's just too much to read the whole lot in one go. The book starts with an introduction by Jack Zipes who translated all of these folk tales. It's quite long but worth a quick skim read at least because it's interesting to learn about the history of the Brother's Grimm and how they collected these stories.

              There are several pages of contents but this makes it very easy to find the exact story you're looking for and, just in case this doesn't help, there's also an index.

              The tales are split into eight different categories including complete tales, religious tales for children, omitted tales and published tales. You really couldn't find a more comprehensive book of traditional fairytales if you tried!

              I found the tales very entertaining; some of them have obvious morals to them while others aren't so clear in the lessons they're trying to teach. Many of them are quite dark, violent and twisted, certainly not the sugar-coated Disney versions that everyone knows about these days! For example, at the end of Rumpelstiltskin he gets so angry he tears himself in two and in Cinderella her stepsisters chop off parts of their feet to try and fit into the gold slipper. They're gruesome but somehow fascinating too.

              This is definitely a book for adults although a parent/guardian may decide to read their children a few selected tales if they feel they wouldn't get nightmares from them! If you're the sort of person who tends to be a bit morbid or you enjoy traditional tales then I'd definitely recommend this book to you.

              Here's what the blurb says in case you need anymore convincing:
              "Wolves and grandmothers, the seven dwarfs, a goose made of gold... the folk tales collected by the Grimm brothers created an astonishingly influential imaginative world. However, this is also a world where a woman cooks her stepson and an evil queen dances to death in a pair of burning shoes. Violent, funny, disturbing and wise, these stories have intrigued both children and adults for generations.
              The only complete edition available, this collection features the 279 stories in an acclaimed, modern and unexpurgated translation."

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                19.06.2010 18:39
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                I would say this is an essential hair item for those with problem scalps.

                I popped into Lush looking for a shampoo bar that would deal with my dandruff. I'd previously been using a store-brand bottle but it just wasn't working and my scalp was getting itchier every day. After browsing the products in store a friendly shop assistant asked me if I needed any help so I asked her which product was suitable for my problem and also vegan. She pointed out the Snake Oil Massage Bar and explained that you use your warm fingers to melt some of it then rub it into your scalp, leave for a few hours (or overnight for some really good results) then wash your hair as normal.

                I had my doubts as I've used Lush massage bars in the past and found then to be very oily and was worried my hair would be really greasy after using it but I thought it was worth a try.

                It costs £4.15 for a 55g rectangular block; it's pink with a large S on the top. It's not very cheap considering you can buy some anti-dandruff shampoo's for half the price but it does last a long time (I've used mine about four times now and it barely looks used!).

                It contains essential oils that address the problem of dandruff in a natural way, the ones you can smell the most seem to be the lavender, tea tree and peppermint. I find the scent to be both refreshing and quite calming at the same time.

                I have really long nails so I thought it might be awkward to apply this to my scalp but it seemed to melt fairly easily on my fingertips (despite my hands always being cold!) and it was simple to massage under my hair. Each time I use it I spend about half an hour applying it and then wait around 1-2 hours to give it time to work.

                It washed out of my hair effortlessly using a normal (non-Lush) shampoo and when I dried my hair it wasn't oily at all like I expected, I was really pleased with the result. As for my itchy scalp - it remained itch-free for a few days so I just re-applied it again and the problem was solved for a few weeks.

                I now regularly use my Snake Oil Bar about once a month to keep my scalp healthy and flake-free. I highly recommend this.

                As a last note, I did try using my Snake Oil bar as a shampoo block to see how it'd work and it was rubbish so it's definitely better off as a massage treatment.

                Ingredients:
                Cocoa Butter (Theobroma cacao), Shea Butter (Butyrospermum parkii), Alkanet Extract (Alkanna tinctoria), Peppermint Oil (Mentha piperita), Lavender Oil (Lavandula angustifolia), Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia), *Geraniol, *Limonene, *Linalool, Perfume.
                *Occurs naturally in essential oils

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                  19.06.2010 17:31
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                  Worth a try if you like sweet scents and don't mind a bit of cleaning.

                  The Lush Honey Bun bath ballistic is limited edition and usually only around at Easter. Can it still be called a 'ballistic' if it's in the shape of a rabbit?!

                  If you buy one it'll cost you £1.90 which is a bit cheaper than some of the other bath bombs. I decided to treat myself to one after smelling it in the shop; it has the sweet smell of vanilla and fudge with a hint of honey, mmm!

                  Despite having the word 'honey' in its name this bunny is suitable for vegans, check out the ingredients list if you don't believe me!
                  Ingredients:
                  Sodium Bicarbonate, Citric Acid, Perfume, Gardenia Extract (Gardenia jasminoides), Sweet Wild Orange Oil (Citrus sinensis), Bergamot Oil (Citrus Aurantium bergamia), *Limonene}
                  *Occurs naturally in essential oils

                  I plopped this rabbit into the bath and it took quite a while to fizz away. It produced that lovely sickly smell during fizzing (maybe it's too sickly for some but I love these sorts of scent) but it seemed to fade very quickly once it had dispersed.

                  The bath water turned a vibrant yellow colour. The reviews on Lush's website say it's like wee but I don't think it is at all, it reminds me of sunshine yellow. It was darker at first but the colour did fade after a while.

                  On the downside this lovely colour left a bright yellow ring around my bath which was quite difficult to clean off and, when I got out, even my skin seemed tinted slightly yellow, like I was a bit jaundiced!

                  My skin did have a sweet scent to it afterwards and felt lovely and soft, but not overly moisturised (some bath bombs make my skin too greasy but this was just right).

                  However, it just didn't keep me in the bath long enough; I think maybe worrying about the cleaning of it afterwards!

                  Overall it's a lovely smelling product which may not appeal to everyone and colouring is a bit annoying. I still might buy this for a friend as an Ostara (Pagan Easter) gift if they don't eat chocolate.

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                • First Experiences / Discussion / 115 Readings / 109 Ratings
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                  15.04.2010 18:02
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                  Sometimes a 'first' is important, sometimes it's just another ordinary life event.

                  I have quite a bad memory, especially about things from my past so I thought long and hard about these various 'firsts' to try and give you the most accurate answers possible.

                  *FIRST TIME YOU HAD YOUR HEART BROKEN*
                  I had my first 'proper' long-term relationship when I was 16 although it was a bit of a long-distance relationship. We only managed to see each other about once a fortnight but spoke on the phone almost every day, sent several texts every day and even wrote each other letters. Things seemed to be going well between us except in the bedroom department because I just wasn't ready. I thought he was understanding but suddenly he started to act cold towards me on the phone and didn't end with the usual "I love you, bye!" I asked what was wrong but he wouldn't say. Then a letter arrived in which he dumped me! What made it worse was that the post had arrived just as I was leaving for college so I'd grabbed the letter on my way out of the door and was sitting in the library when I read the news! It felt like my world had fallen apart. Of course I got over it eventually but I still think of him with a mixture of longing and hate.

                  *FIRST JOB*
                  My first unofficial job was baby-sitting, or "Bobbie-sitting" as the girl called it (that was her name!). It paid well and was great fun as she was really well behaved. Plus I got the chance to watch Sky TV once she'd gone to bed, something I didn't have at home!
                  My first official job was as a DJ assistant for a mobile disco, the sort that plays at weddings, parties etc. This was a fantastic job as I got free CDs, free drinks, the chance to dance and really good money! Unfortunately the job ended when the man I worked for died in a car accident.

                  *FIRST LOVE*
                  My first love is the same one as mentioned earlier. He was about a year younger than me and we met at a PGL holiday! He'd jumped out of a bush with a wooden stick in his hand saying he was going to stake me for being a vampire! A few weeks after I got home I had a letter from him apologising, saying he really liked me and didn't know how else to get my attention! We corresponded by letter for quite a few months before meeting up and, as they say, 'getting it on'!

                  *FIRST TIME YOU GOT DRUNK*
                  Unsurprisingly, I don't really remember this! I suspect it was with my drama group friends as many of them were twice my age and often buying drinks for me when I was still 16. I used to do quite a good job at sobering up on the walk home!

                  *FIRST TIME YOU CRIED AT A FILM*
                  I was a horsy-mad little girl so the first film I remember crying during is Black Beauty, and I think I cried several times too! It's been so many years since I've seen the film that I can't remember the exact moments that made me cry but it'd probably still have a similar affect on my today; I cried the first time I saw Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron when I was 22!

                  *FIRST TIME YOU LOST SOMEONE SPECIAL*
                  I've had grandparents die when I was young, but the first one I remember actually grieving for was my granddad on my mum's side. He'd been ill for a while but it was still a shock to me because, as I was 8 years old, the adults hadn't been telling me the truth about how ill he was. I wasn't even allowed to go to the funeral and had to go to school instead. I spent most of the day in the school library, not able to cope with lessons. My Granddad Tom was one of those granddads who was always ready to have a laugh or tell a joke.
                  I previously mentioned that the man I worked as a DJ assistant for died in a car accident, even though he was much older than me we became good friends through work so naturally I was very upset when he died and his was the first ever funeral I went to. I managed to stay composed throughout the ceremony until they played his trademark DJ song, then I burst into tears and had to be consoled by my mum.

                  *FIRST CAR*
                  I don't drive but I helped my ex-partner buy our first car together. It was a white second-hand car, I think it was a Ford Fiesta but I'm a bit clueless about cars! A white car isn't very Goth so we used to call it 'skull white' and the inside was filled with Jack Skellington (from the Nightmare Before Christmas) stuff like seat covers, stickers etc. Unfortunately it had to be scrapped right at the beginning of our first ever road trip: we were at Stonehenge and it wouldn't start. The RAC towed us all the way back to North Yorkshire but it was just too expensive to fix.

                  *FIRST FIGHT/HEATED ARGUMENT*
                  My sister and I always had blazing rows when we were growing up; we're both very different people (she's a bit of a chav and I'm a bit of a Goth!), with very different outlooks on life. As she was bigger and older than me she always tried to end the arguments by hitting me and it'd work. Although I'd be sneaky and get my revenge by doing something nasty like dipping her toothbrush in the loo! I don't remember our first ever fight, I barely even remember what some of the really heated ones were even about!

                  *FIRST TIME YOU WERE PROMOTED/SACKED*
                  I've never been promoted or sacked; I've never really stayed in any job long enough for either to happen! I was once let-go from a long-term supply teaching position because they'd found a permanent teacher and the reason it upset me was because it was only two days before my birthday! I was planning to go out for the night with my work colleagues but once they found out they suddenly all had 'other plans'.

                  *FIRST TIME YOU REALISED YOUR OWN MORTALITY*
                  I guess I've always been quite aware of my own mortality, I used to play in the local graveyard as a child and death just seemed like a natural thing to me. When I was about 12 years old I told my mum I wanted to die because I was so unhappy, she replied with "you don't really mean that" but I really did, I understood what death meant and, at the time, it felt like a better option than living. Even now I'm not scared of death; I know it'll happen at some point so I just think of the afterlife as the next adventure in my life!

                  I've given this review three stars because now my brain aches from thinking so hard! Plus thinking of some of these 'firsts' has brought back joyful as well as painful memories so it can't get five stars.

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                    29.03.2010 12:20
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                    They're handy to have around but not something I'd buy all the time.

                    Ricola's sugar-free drops come in various flavours (like lemon-mint, elderflower and cranberry) and this is my review of the Original flavour.

                    You can buy them in Holland and Barrett, Sainsbury's and a few other shops but they're often hard to track down. In Sainsbury's they cost £1.24, their price tends to vary from 99p to £1.50 depending on where you buy them.

                    I've found that the original flavour is often available in health food shops but not always supermarkets.

                    Each packet is 45g and you get approximately 18 individual drops per box. The box is a bit like a slim cigarette packet so I find they easily fit in pockets and bags for taking out and about. The sweets inside never get stuck together although if they've rattled around a lot some of them may be a bit chipped.

                    You can also get the original flavour in a roll packet where each sweet is square-shaped and individually wrapped. I think the ones in the roll packet taste slightly better, maybe the wrapping keeps them fresher for longer or maybe the ingredients are slightly different, I've never checked!

                    These herbal sweets are made in Switzerland (which is why I bought lots to stock up while I was visiting Switzerland last year!) and they claim to have a unique mixture of 13 different herbs (I'm not sure what Ricola's special blend of herbs includes but you could try to guess from the pictures of plants on the box!).

                    The Original variety is suitable for vegetarians, vegans (the caramel colouring in the ingredients is vegan so no need to panic!) and are produced in a nut-free environment.

                    The packet warns against excessive consumption which may produce laxative effects (e.g. don't eat more than 10 drops in 1-2 hours).

                    The picture of the sweet on the outside of the packet is more or less the actual size and each one has an R printed on both sides.

                    When you open the box you can instantly smell a slight cough-sweet type smell, that'll be the menthol!

                    They're an unappetising brown colour, darker than the one on the outside of the box (shown in the Dooyoo picture) but they're shiny so that helps!

                    As soon as you put one in your mouth you can taste the menthol and peppermint flavouring straight away, then the menthol starts to get stronger and begins to overpower the peppermint. I don't find these sweets to be as strong as other cough drops, they're quite sweet but they just don't have enough peppermint for me; I'm not keen on the taste of plain menthol.

                    They certainly freshen your breath though and help you to breathe more easily. I definitely recommend them if you have a mild cold or a stuffy nose. They also make your throat feel a bit cooler too.

                    So you can use them for colds, coughs, blocked noses, stomach problems (the peppermint is helpful for soothing digestive problems) or just as an everyday breathe freshener. The best use I've found for them is to ease travel sickness so I always have a packet in my bag for long journeys.

                    Nutritional information:
                    (per 2.5g drop)
                    Calories - 6kcal
                    Sugar, Fat, Saturates, Sodium - 0g

                    Ingredients:
                    Isomalt, extract (1%) of Ricola's herb mixture, black colour (plain caramel), sorbitol, natural flavours (menthol, peppermint oil), sweeteners (aspartame, acesulfame-K).

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                      28.03.2010 21:08
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                      Avoid if you're a Phan, avoid if you're not. Just avoid!

                      The front cover says it's "the compelling and haunting sequel to 'The Phantom of the Opera'." What utter rubbish! This book is neither compelling nor haunting!

                      As you can guess, I didn't enjoy this book at all! It took me only 2 hours to read and now I wish to burn the wretched thing!

                      And this is the book that 'Love Never Dies' the musical sequel by Andrew Lloyd-Webber is loosely based on...oh dear oh dear! As I'm seeing LND this year I thought I'd better read the book, now I wish I hadn't! I want to scrub it from my memory!

                      The blurb says:
                      "After his failed attempt to kidnap his beloved Christine, the beautiful young opera singer, and a harrowing escape from the hands of an angry mob at the Paris Opera House, the Phantom was never seen again. Until now...
                      In 'The Phantom of Manhattan', we learn of his daring journey to New York where he has begun life anew as a lonely, secretive and wealthy figure.
                      Unseen, he watches over all as he plots his crowning achievement - the creation of the world's greatest and most glittering opera house - a grand palace that will set the stage for a fateful reunion with Christine, now a world-famous and celebrated diva. The final act in this haunting tale of unrequited love and obsession results in an explosive culmination of triumph and tragedy."

                      The book starts with a long preface where Forsyth basically says that the original book by Gaston Leroux was crap and badly written. He says it was clearly a work of fiction but then goes on to contradict himself by discussing how and where Leroux got his 'facts' and why they were so wrong!

                      And Forsyth certainly shouldn't comment on other people's writing skills, his is appalling! To me the book read like a children's book with a few long and complicated words thrown in here and there (and often repeated in quick succession like he doesn't own a thesaurus!), and he describes things which really aren't important. For example, he gives the complete history of one character which really isn't necessary for any of the plot. And we also get to read two and half pages of a Latin lesson, Yawnsville!

                      Each chapter is written from a different characters point of view, we even get a few chapters from Erik Mulheim, the Phantom himself! Although he's nothing like I expected the Phantom to be, he seems very 'matter of fact' and not the tortured soul you'd think he'd be.

                      The story overall just seems very unrealistic, and if you think the book sounds awful so far, I haven't even mentioned the stupid devil-worship parts or the conversations with God! Darius, Erik's servant, worships a money demon called Mammon. I thought I could just ignore this chapter as a hashish hallucination but when I reached the chapter where a priest has an actual conversation with God I thought Forsyth must've been the one on the hashish!

                      I'm just so glad Sir Lloyd-Webber only used this book to inspire his new musical and didn't just use the story as it is!

                      I must admit I'm a bit of an obsessive Phan (Phantom fan) and I really dislike what Forsyth has done with the characters but even if was wasn't a Phan I'd still hate this book, I really don't understand how such rubbish got published! Avoid like the plague!

                      However if you choose to ignore my review, you can buy this book from Amazon for only 1p (used)! The RRP is £5.99 for the paperback. ISBN: 0552147192.

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                        28.03.2010 21:01
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                        A great book that I'm sure teenage boys would really enjoy.

                        This book was recommended to me by a friend quite a while ago and I actually own two copies of it; I bought a copy from a charity shop then forgot about it and bought another copy in Border's closing down sale!

                        I'd never heard of Sam Enthoven before reading this but now I'm definitely going to keep any eye out for any other books he's written.

                        The blurb says:
                        "The creature had reared up in its true form, a frozen man-sized explosion of pink custard-like stuff. It wobbled and shook. Big bubbles formed and popped on its skin, belching out words.
                        'Fresh!' it burped, 'Fresh meat! Fresh meat!'
                        'Whatever,' said Jack - and sighed. Yep, he thought, gang up on the new guy. In some ways, when it came down to it, Hell was pretty predictable..."

                        The front cover also entices you in with this interesting phrase:
                        Hellish demons, vomiting bats, world-class martial arts - what *more* do you want in a book?

                        And that phrase does sum it up very well! It's definitely a book for older children/teenagers and I think it's mainly aimed at boys but as a girl I still thoroughly enjoyed it, so much so that it only took me about 4 hours to finish! And not because it's a small book either, it's about 480 pages long.

                        The basic story is this:
                        Jack and Charlie are two ordinary boys but somehow Charlie always seems to be much cooler than Jack. After meeting some strange cult-like people, Charlie wakes up with a black tattoo on his back and various abilities like Kung-Fu and flying! Once again, he's beaten Jack on the coolness scale! Until Jack learns that his friend is actually possessed by a demon and it'll take a trip to hell to sort it all out.

                        The book is written in the third person and mainly from Jack's point of view. He's just a typical teenager and really not the sort of person you'd expect to be a hero at all.

                        I really liked Enthoven's vision of Hell and the universe in general; his description made Hell sound like an awful but very realistic place. Well, as realistic as any fantasy place can be!

                        And I knew the book would have a happy ending but I had no idea how it was going to happen - I didn't find the book predictable.

                        Overall this book held my attention right to the end with the fantastic characters that I could empathise with (some of Jack's lines about things being "typical!" reminded me of myself) and a strong storyline that entertained and amused me. And I can't fault the writing style in anyway either!

                        The RRP is £5.99 and you can currently get it from Amazon for £4.49 (ISBN: 0552553581).

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                          13.03.2010 23:55
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                          They're something a bit different to everything else out there.

                          Ricola's sugar-free drops come in various flavours (like lemon-mint, elderflower and original) and this is my review of the Cranberry flavour.

                          You can buy them in Holland and Barrett, Sainsbury's and a few other shops but they're often hard to track down. In Sainsbury's they cost £1.22, their price tends to vary from 99p to £1.50 depending on where you buy them. I got this particular packet on special offer for £1 at Sainsbury's.

                          Each packet is 45g and you get approximately 18 individual drops per box. The box is a bit like a slim cigarette packet so I find they easily fit in pockets and bags for taking out and about. The sweets inside never get stuck together although if they've rattled around a lot some of them may be a bit chipped.

                          These herbal sweets are made in Switzerland (which is why I bought lots to stock up while I was visiting Switzerland last year!) and they claim to have a unique mixture of 13 different herbs.

                          The Cranberry variety is suitable for vegetarians, vegans and are produced in a nut-free environment.

                          The packet warns against excessive consumption which may produce laxative effects (e.g. don't eat more than 10 drops in 1-2 hours).

                          The picture of the sweet on the outside of the packet is more or less the actual size and each one has an R printed on both sides.

                          I thought that the sweets had a very slight sweet smell to them but I couldn't smell the cranberries.

                          As soon as you put one in your mouth it explodes with cranberry flavouring, both the sweetness and slight bitter tang that you get with pure cranberry juice. They really make my mouth water while I'm eating them, it's almost like I've taken a sip of cranberry juice! They do have a slight herbal taste to them, I'm not sure what Ricola's special blend of herbs includes but I'm guessing there's some menthol in there. The ingredients say they contain black chokeberry which I'd never heard of so I Googled it and discovered they have great anti-oxidant properties!

                          There doesn't seem to be much of an aftertaste of cranberry, just that herbal flavouring, and immediately my mouth wants another one! They're not more-ish, just very refreshing.

                          They may not be the cheapest sweets around but they make a great treat and something a bit different to all the other sweets around.

                          Nutritional information:
                          (per 2.5g drop)
                          Calories - 6kcal
                          Sugar, Fat, Saturates, Sodium - 0g

                          Ingredients:
                          Isomalt, citric acid, cranberry juice concentrate (0.6%), extract (0.5%) of Ricola's herb mixture, black chokeberry concentrate (0.2%), sweeteners (aspartame, acesulfame-K), vitamin C, natural flavours.

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                        • iLogic Sound Hat / Headphones / 49 Readings / 47 Ratings
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                          13.03.2010 23:35
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                          Despite its flaws I still think it's a good product for certain situations.

                          In some shops and online stores this product may be called an "I-Hat" or an "I-Pod Sound Hat" rather than an I-Logic Sound Hat. When I bought mine only the classic black colour was available but now I've seen them in white and baby pink (I'm still happy with the black, you wouldn't catch me dead in white or pink!).

                          So what is it? It's basically a beanie hat with speakers where your ears should be so that you don't need to wear headphones while listening to your I-Pod or Mp3 player! I saw it on IWantOneOfThose.com and thought that I didn't just want one of those, I NEED one of those! They're £14.99 from IWOOT but I've also seen them for sale on Amazon for various prices from £13 to £16 so it might be worth shopping around. (You can earn 75 iPoints if you buy it through IWOOT).

                          The hat is the same colour all over with a stitched line going around it about halfway up and across the top in a cross shape. There are little equaliser logos on either side over the top of the speakers.

                          It's 100% polyester and it only comes in one size so if you have a particularly large or small head you might want to bear that in mind. I must have an average size head because it fits me perfectly, and the speakers fit exactly over the top of my ears (it's good to know my features are all in the correct place!). Because it's made from polyester I find it's excellent for keeping my head and ears warm, although sometimes a bit too warm if I'm wearing it while being active.

                          It comes with a 98cm wire and a 3.5mm jack that is already attached. I personally would've liked the wire to be a couple more inches longer just so that my I-Pod will go into my jacket pocket without too much tension on the wire. The jack will fit most Mp3 players and it fits my I-Pod Nano snugly as it should.

                          The label warns you to hand wash in warm water only, do not wring, do not bleach, line dry, do not iron and do not dry clean. Oh and to remove the speakers from the hat before washing. That's one of those daft common sense warnings but the makers need to put it on the label because it's actually not that obvious - because the speakers are stitched into the hat! So if you've been for a jog, got a sweaty head and want to wash your lovely hat, you'll have to cut the stictching open to do so. It won't ruin the hat completely because you can cut it on the inside and the speakers will go back in and should still stay in place but it's something you would've thought the makers might've considered and maybe used velcro instead?

                          The sound quality you get through the speakers is very good, I thought it might sound odd coming through the hat lining but it doesn't. It's not very personal though - You can either have the music on very quietly so you can just about it hear or turn the volume on your I-Pod up and actually be able to hear what's being sung...but then so can everyone else! But then they are speakers and not headphones. So it's definitely not ideal for the bus!

                          Despite the various negative things I've mentioned about this hat it still gets three stars because the concept is brilliant. If the weather is cold and you're the sort of person who uses over the head earphones then it means you can still listen to music while keeping your head warm. And if you go jogging or do any other active sports outdoors then you don't have to worry about headphones falling off or out of your ears. And if are a jogger then you can have the volume up because you won't be stood next to anyone long enough for them to complain about the racket!

                          Overall it's a clever idea but needs some improvements.

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