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Jenny_Summers

Jenny_Summers
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Member since: 18.09.2012

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      15.03.2013 16:02
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      Poor excuse for refuse sacks that are not fit for purpose

      On a recent trip to Asda for essentials I realized to late that I had left my purse on the side next to my computer. We had ran out of bread and milk and were in desperate need of bin bags. Luckily I'm one of those people who puts the odd bit of change into their pockets and always has a few coins floating around the bottom of their bag.

      I decided the bread and milk were priority and to see what I had left for the bin bags. I had just under £1.20 to spend, not enough for my usual brand, so I opted for the Smart Price bags instead. They seemed like decent value for money with 45 coming in just short of my £1.20 budget.

      I soon discovered that these bags were pretty naff. The minute I took of the Smart Price sleeve and began to unravel the first bag I realized how flimsy they were the bag felt very thin in my hands and when I got it off the roll and opened it out I could see that it wasn't great quality as the bag was not the usual thick dark plastic that my usual ones are but instead a lighter almost translucent and stretched looking.

      When picking my kitchen bin I opted for one that was smaller so that black bags would have a nice big overlap, so when I empty the bin the bags are never anywhere near full capacity. Even when the bag was just under 2/3 full of normal household rubbish (no bricks or anything) it seemed to strain under the weight. The 'sharp' corner of a cardboard box managed to poke through and make a small tear in the side of the bag and I decided it would be safer to double bag it just in case. Since this first instance I have used 2 bags in place of one just to be sure it wont split on me. They really don't seem such good value when you double bag them as it becomes just under 22 bags for £1.20 and even doubled up they aren't perfect, I've had problems with the perforations, and the bags not splitting properly which results in holes in the bottoms.

      Needless to say I wouldn't buy these again and in future, should I make the same silly mistake of forgetting my purse, I'd rather go home and get it than buy Asda Smartprice bin bags.

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      15.03.2013 14:58
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      A good product that makes decorating speedier, but it won't last forever

      When my husband and I moved into our home there was a lot of work to be done.. With me being due to give birth in 2 weeks time we had to get it done fast. We knew with a small baby to look after neither of us would have the time to do the vast amount of work that needed doing!

      My mother and her partner had offered to lend a hand, being an ex painter and decorator Steve (my mum's partner) had plenty of useful tools in the garage to help the process of decorating run more smoothly. The wallpaper scrapers however had seen better days, with paint and plaster caked onto them they were pretty un-usable. So, we decided to grab a few new ones when we went to the local Wikes for other bits and bobs.

      At first I had picked up a couple of generic cheap scrapers but they were soon replaced with 2 Silverline cb35 heavy duty scrapers instead, they looked a lot more professional and were reduced to around £3.50 which Steve said was a decent price. They are nothing like the old fashioned wooden handled scrapers with the big flat 'blade'. Silverline heavy duty scrapers have a very long metal handle with a comfortable rubber grip at the end. At a glance they could easily be mistaken for something used for scraping ice off a car windscreen. The blade is angled and looks more like a razor type blade rather than a dull metal plate. They aren't so sharp as to be particularly dangerous, although I wouldn't leave one lying about, but the thin end is perfect for getting under the layers of paint covered paper, or as was the case in our bathroom scrapping off old textured paint.

      Once home we all stared working immediately, being heavily pregnant I was on relatively light duties and set about using one of the new scrapers and a steamer to try and shift the textured paint from the bathroom walls. The tapered edge of the blade was particularly helpful when trying to get under the paint and chip it off although I was a bit weary of applying too much force in case the blade snapped, something you don't have to worry about with a 'proper' scrapper. The length of the handle was also of great advantage to me as ladders were a no go and I am somewhat vertically challenged. The long handle gave me some extra length probably around a foot or so. I didn't, however, feel able to use the full extent of the handle, although it is around 20cm the usefulness of the scraper diminishes when you hold it right at the end as it becomes somewhat wobbly feeling and you can't get good purchase on the walls.

      I definitely believe this scrapper made the bathroom an easier job and it performed wonderfully at scrapping paper in the hallways and even at chipping away gloss paint from a piece of textured glass in the living room. The only issue I have had with this is the amount of wear and tear it suffers. Unlike a regular scraper blade, the Silverline heavy duty scrapper is somewhat less rugged and after having used it on 4 different rooms it has some nicks and chips in the blade. Although these don't seem to greatly affect the functionality of the scrapper it does make me wonder about the safety of the blade and I will certainly be replacing it before embarking on any major decorating projects.

      To sum up, I think this is a great product, it's useful and good value for money but it's not going to last you forever like your old wallpaper scrapers did and as such the value for money is based largely on the time saving element to this scraper as apposed to cost per use.

      The Silverline cb35 heavy duty scraper is avaliable from most good hardware shops and also online, it is priced anywhere from £3-5.

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      03.03.2013 00:29
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      A good product for providing a small dog with a drink of fresh water while out and about.

      Years ago, when we used to take our dogs out on long walks, we would always bring a bottle of water and a small lightweight bowl with us. This was never an issue as we would bring a rucksack full of doggie essentials anyway. Nowadays things are a little different, we've recently adopted a 6 month old alsation cross rescue called Max, we love taking him on nice long walks but have to be more practical about what we bring with us. There's more than just me and my husband walking Max now, we have our 2 year old son and our 11 month old daughter with us too and they need an awful lot of stuff brought for them if we're going out for any length of time. Que the Trixie dog drinking bottle and water dispenser.

      I didn't actually buy this, my mum whose fiancee has 3 dogs, had a spare. When we got Max she offered it to us allong with a lot of other doggie bits and pieces that they didn't need. I must admit I was in two minds about wether or not I liked the idea, it seemed practical, only taking up just slightly more space in the bag than a bottle we would normally bring. But I was scheptical as to how well Max would be able to drink from the dispenser.

      I decided to try it out on a shorter walk first of all just incase. It was easy to fill up before we went out, the bottle dittaches easily and once filled with water re-ataches into the lid forming a nice seal. It was while filling it that I realised theres a clip on the top, meaning it could be clipped onto the outside of my daughters changing bag, or as became the case onto my husbands belt. I thought this was a really nice idea as it saves on bag space, or if you dont take a bag when walking your dog saves you carrying it.

      So with the bottle safely clipped to my husband we set off to the local park for a game of fetch. When Max began to tire I decided to give him a quick drink before heading home again. It was pretty simple to use, you simply hold the bottle upright and flip down the tray so it forms a right angle, you then squeeze out some water into the tray and offer it to your dog. It took Max a few minutes to figure out what he was supposed to do, he sniffed at the hard plastic dispenser tray wondering what I was offering him, then just looked at me puzzled. My husband suggested maybe he wasn't thirsty, but when I took the bottle off and poored a little on the ground he lapped at it. I decided to perservere for a while with the water dispenser, I tried with it both on the ground and held a foot or so in the air nearer his mouth. Eventually he got the hang of it and began to lap at the water.

      It was deffinately not a pretty sight, there was water and slobber flying about and I'm pretty sure the water he actually drank was a lot less than the amount spilled. It seemed that the tray was neither deep enough nor wide enough for him to be able to properly drink from it. When dogs drink they position their tongue in such a way that it forms a small bowl that collects water, they then flick their tongue and throw this water into their mouth. I don't believe there was enough room for this to happen within the tray hence it being such a messy affair.

      My rating of 3 stars is based on two points- The first goes in its favor, as, although it isn't very useful for Max and we've subsiquently gone back to using a good old fashioned bowl when out, it may infact be useful for some dogs. Max is by no means a little dog, he's a large alsatian/lab cross and this may have been our issue, his size. I do believe a smaller dog would have a better experience using the Trixie water bottle and dispenser. It's a fantastic idea and gets full marks for innovation, it's just a shame Max is too big for it. Seconly is the reason I knocked off a further star and that is that I have seen an almost identical product in my local 99p store. I don''t believe in paying for branding especially with a product as simple as this. The fact this product is made by Trixie means it costs over 3 times the price of the cheaper one at around £3 from zooplus, on ebay and at Pets at Home!

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    • Infacol / Pain Relief / 29 Readings / 29 Ratings
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      01.03.2013 22:22
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      A good product to help alleviate the pain associated with wind and colic.

      -How we came to discover Infacol-

      It was the middle of a cold and windy April night and everyone was in bed, asleep. Everyone except us, me and my husband that is... Well, how could we be? Our 3 week old baby boy had been crying non stop for at least 2 hours maybe 3. Like any concerned first time parents we had called the midwife for some advice, "it sounds like he has colic" she said "keep trying to wind him, have plenty of skin to skin contact and he'll soon settle"... Soon settle my backside! He was as determined then as he is now (gets that from his mum) and he had decided that, if he was upset and miserable then we should be too and no amount of soothing words nor gentle cuddles was going to persuade him otherwise.
      At around half 3 my husband had had enough, he'd had a long day and needed to be up again in just over 3 hours, he pulled on his jeans and coat over his jammies and set to see what they had at the all night pharmacy 40 mins away.


      -What does it look like?-

      Infacol comes in a very simple looking box, the picture of a baby sleeping peacefuly taunts you as you wrestle with your own screaming nightmare. The front of the box states that it is for the relief of wind, infant colic and griping pain and is suitable from birth onwards. The box contains white bottle with a tall grey lid which has the same information and logo as the box. It also comes with the usual leaflet containing usage instructions, warnings and the like. The Infacol lid comes with an inbuilt dropper which is very useful and makes it very quick and easy for you to administer to your baby. The liquid itself is white and gloopy, it looks a lot like runny PVA glue.


      -What does it taste like?-

      Having tasted it myelf, I can honestly say I'm not a fan. The supposedly natural orange flavour is actually quite synthetic tasting and for something sugar free it does taste rather sweet. I may be biased as I'm not a fan of things that are orange flavored, but in my opinion it's not a flavor I find particularly pleasnt. My son and daughter on the other hand both seemed to enjoy it, well they didn't spit it out or pull faces at least. As I said earlier it's sugar free, according to the insert it's also alcohol and colourant free too.


      -How does it work?-

      The active ingredient in Infacol is simethicone which a bit of googling tells you is something called an anti-foaming agent. It works by breaking the surface tension of gas bubbles in the stomach, this makes the bubbles combine into larger bubbles which are easier to pass. Simethicone is considered very safe as it does not get absorbed into your baby's body, this is why it is safe to use from birth onwards and also as many times per day as is required.

      -Does it work?-

      I am pleased to say yes it does! Although it's not some miracle cure that will instantly rid your baby (and you) from the unpleasntness of colic, it really does make a noticable difference. Will was bringing up his wind a lot easier with the Infacol, and was deffinately in a lot less pain. It also makes your baby do some enormous burps, an added bonus as it's always cute to see the look of amazement on the face of a small baby who has just made such an almighty noise.


      -Where can I get it? and how muh?-

      Infacol is widely avaliable to buy at all the big supermarkets and most pharmacies.If used correctly (and not spilt) each bottle contains enough Infacol for 100 doses according to the manufacturers website and, at around £2.89 for a bottle from Boots, that works out at just under 3 pence per dose, pretty good value if you ask me.

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      25.02.2013 21:58
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      A brilliant familly cream that soothes and heals!

      For as long as I can remember there has been a tub of Sudocrem in the 'medicine box' at my mum's house.. Whenever I see the chunky grey Sudocrem tub with it's big red and white label it always makes me think of home and being a child. We (my sister and I ) were never 'Calpol babies' by any means, our mum didn't dose us up to the eyeballs with medicines at the merest sniffle, but she did, however send us off to fetch the Sudocrem for just about every ailment you can imagine.

      The front of the tub has an extensive list of uses including nappy rash, eczema and minor burns. The list of uses we have found for Sudocrem however is somewhat more substantial. Over the years we have used it for everything from insect bites, sweat rash, heat rash, cuts, chaffing and all other obvious uses to things a little more obscure such as spot treatment, face moisturizer and to soothe the redness caused from plucking eyebrows. My mum has even used it on her 3 dogs! It works wonders on a bump to prevent a bruise and will even make an existing bruise go down faster.

      If there was such thing as a 'cure-all' Sudocrem is as close to being it as is possible. It's anti-septic and even contains a mild anesthetic to help relive pain and soreness.

      Sodocrem is what's known as a barrier cream, this means that instead of sinking into your skin and disappearing it sits on the surface. This is one of the reasons it's so great as a nappy cream because it actually forms a water repellent barrier between baby's skin and the wetness. This makes it less likely for, your little one to get a sore bum in the first place and less likely for a sore bum to become further irritated. It also promotes healing and contains benzyl benzoate and benzyl cinnamate (ingredients of Balsam of Peru) which are supposed to have healing properties.

      The design of the Sudocrem tub doesn't seem to have changed much, if at all, over the years. If we hadn't used it for everything I'd believe it was the same tub of Sudocrem that has always sat my mum's medicine box. Although it doesn't look particularly flashy or modern I like the tub, it makes me think of medicine and all the writing is clear easy to see. Apart from the travel size versions, the lid of the cream is initially attached with one of those pull tabs. I don't normally like these but through all the tubs we've ever had I've only had 2 where the tab hasn't completely come off properly.

      The cream itself is white in color and stays white on your skin after use, it's also great at leaving white residue on clothes and soft furnishings, particularly if your little one gets hold of some and goes on a rampage! It doesn't have a strong smell, but it is very distinctive. It smells medicinal, but not in a bad way, and has a hint of lavender.

      Sudocrem is available in a variety of sizes ranging from the 60g travel, right the way up to a whopping 400g tub. It is also available in squeezable tubes although I'm not so keen on these and more recently a squirty mousse. A 400g tub lasts us for approximately 3 or 4 months and that's with heavy usage. If you were to use it purely as a nappy cream I would estimate it to easily last 6 months+ if not a great deal longer as a little really does go a long way.

      The price of Sudocrem varies between retailers (it is widely available at most chemists, supermarkets and even some corner shops) and depending on current offers, but at boots where I usually buy it, it costs me just over £6 for the big 400g tub. As with most things buying in larger quantities is cheaper in the long run and the bigger tubs represent better value. Although this may seem expensive, I find I use far less than other cheaper creams and it has far more uses.

      As with all medicines it is possible to suffer side effects and the included leaflet should be read thoroughly to identify any possible allergens. However, my family are terrible for sensitive skin and my son is allergic to anything even remotely scented but we have had no reactions at all when using Sudocrem and have even used it to soothe his face when he gets a mild reaction to tomatoes.

      Sudocrem is a must have for all households, particularly those with babies and small children. I'd never be without it and have several pots about the house and a travel size tub in my handbag at all times just incase. It's definitely on my top 10 list of parents essentials and I would recommend it highly to everyone!

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        20.02.2013 22:37
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        Decent cheap plasters, good for small cuts, but not really suited for larger wounds!

        I am one of those people who likes to be prepared have a well stocked fist aid box. Well I have to be, really, I'm unimaginably clumsy and you can guarantee the day we run out of plasters is the day I decide to do something daft and end up needing one!

        It was following a particularly bad bought of clumsiness that I decided to look for cheaper plasters, between my kitchen mishaps and my husbands woodworking hobby we were going through plasters at an alarming rate. When you factor in the cost of those plasters, at nearly 3 a box for our usual brand, it was looking like buying pre-chopped veg and pre-cut wood would actually work out cheaper in the long run!

        I had popped into my local(ish) Asda on the way home from town one day and decided to have a mooch at the medicines isle, it was there I discovered the Smart Price Washproof Plasters, at around 40p (I believe it was slightly over) for 40 plasters they seemed like a bargain, with these I could use a mandolin or split frozen burgers with a knife to my hearts content and not worry about how much money I was wasting on plasters!

        It wasn't long before I got to try these out, my mother put down a mirror a bit too hard on my hardwood floor and unbeknownst to me the corner had chipped off, leaving a razor sharp edge. It was only as the blood started soaking through the rip in my jeans that I realized I had sliced my leg open, while picking up the mirror. It wasn't a particularly long gash but the plasters really didn't look particularly heavy duty and my sister in law (who nearly feinted at the sight of all the blood) said if it was her she would have gone to A+E because it looked so deep! So I decided to stem the flow of blood as best as I could with a damp cloth and, once it had stopped bleeding so much, apply one of the plasters.

        The box is my first little grumble, it was one of those that had an opening flap that was so tight fitting, I gave up trying to manipulate it out of the way and ripped it clean off... Fine if like me you decant your plasters into a first aid box, but not so great if you want to take them out and about in your bag and not have to rummage through screwed up bits of tissue and old receipts to find one because they've all fallen out!

        Once I had finally got the little bugger out of the box it looked just as you would expect a cheap plaster to look. They're a little smaller than the brand name ones and look...cheaper. But hey if they do the job who cares? I must admit the first one didn't stay on all that long, but it was still bleeding. It didn't take long for the blood to begin seeping through the plaster ( but as I said before they are quite thin) and then gradually the end most bloodied began to peel a bit, after around 5 mins it came off completely. It would have been a big ask for even a tough expensive plaster to have stayed on if I'm honest, and the process merely happened quicker.

        In contrast I have since had many little cuts, the kind that don't really bleed, and these plasters have stayed on all day. They aren't however washproof in my opinion as the plasters tend to come off when washing your hands, although they do fair ok if you splash a little water on them by accident.

        Would I buy them again? Yes, they stick ok and do for small cuts, but I'd always have a better brand in my first aid box as well just incase of larger cuts.

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      • Rubber Ducks / Discussion / 41 Readings / 40 Ratings
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        16.02.2013 22:55
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        A place in my heart, and in my bath!

        "Now Harry, you must know all about Muggles. Tell me, what exactly is the function of a rubber duck?"
        --Arthur Weasley

        So for those of you who have crawled out from beneath your rock, stumbled into an internet cafe and have somehow managed to happen upon my review of rubber ducks and are now scratching your head bewildered, I shall explain. A rubber duck is a buoyant bath toy shaped like a duck, they can be made from either rubber or vinyl plastic (which looks and feels like rubber but is easier and cheaper to produce). Traditional rubber ducks are yellow in colour and have a very particular stylized duckling-like look, they are almost cartoony in appearance with two wings tucked neatly at their sides, a big orange bill and small eyes set neatly on-top of their head.

        It all began in the late 1800's, when rubber manufacturing really took off and rubber toys began to emerge. Although it is generally unknown when and where the original rubber ducks were made, we can place them at around this time and know them to have been made from a very hard rubber that was being used then. It is believed, that their popularity is largely due to Sesame Street where the well loved character Ernie had a particular fondness for his rubber duck, with the Sesame Street song 'rubber duckie' proving extremely popular and even being nominated for the 'Best Recording for Children' Grammy, in 1971.



        "Rubber ducky, you're the one..."
        - Ernie

        In the USA rubber ducks have achieved iconic status with some enthusiasts amassing collections of over 1,000 ducks, as of 2007 the world record collection was owned by Charlotte Lee, it consisted of over 5,500 ducks. Our friends from across the pond aren't the only fans of these little yellow water birds, who are also very popular here in the UK and also over the other side of the world in Australia, with 'duck races' being held at various locations in all 3 countries, often to raise money for charities local to the event.

        In 2001, the Sun newspaper was responsible for a rise in rubber duck popularity in the UK, when it published an article in which it was said that Buckingham Palace had had a bit of a face-lift. A workman, had confirmed that even the Queen is partial to bit of bath time frivolity, as her own personal rubber duck (sporting an inflatable crown I might add) had been spotted in the royal bath chamber... It must have been a slow news day! For a period following the article sales of rubber ducks in the UK increased by over 80%


        "One's never alone with a rubber duck."
        - Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

        Rubber ducks have come a long way since they first began, having started out as a simple child's bath toy the rubber duck has had to evolve, moving with the times in order to keep it's head above water... As technology has advanced so has the duck, and where there was once only a simple yellow bird, there's now a plethora of brightly coloured, characature and even light up and colour changing ducks! I'm sure as technology advances further the rubber duck, with its humble beginnings as a simple child's toy, will continue to bob alongside other more modern forms of entertainment for quite some time providing enjoyment for people of all ages, and even royalty!

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        • Tesco Value Vodka / Spirits / 76 Readings / 76 Ratings
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          10.02.2013 00:00
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          A drink that tastes as bad as it smells!

          There are very many items Tesco supermarkets sell under the 'value' brand and more often than not these products are just that.. A decent product that's good value for money. Tesco can offer you these alternatives to well known brand named products because they come in very simple packaging and are un-advertised. Usually they are of a comparable quality to well branded products, and a well known 'moneysaving' website even has the downshift challenge where you switch to a cheaper product and often times find the alternative to be equally nice. Unfortunately Tesco Value Vodka is an exception to that general rule.

          Seeing the vodka for the first time it appeared good value for money, the packaging very plain and simplistic, made me believe I was paying for the product and not the bottle it came in and at a price of just under £10 for 70Cl it was by far the cheapest vodka available for me to buy at the time. For those unfamiliar with vodka pricing, the next cheapest was nearly 2 pounds more expensive and the general prices ranged anywhere from £9.85 (Tesco Value) right the way to a whopping £25 for a bottle of the same size from a more 'luxury' brand name. Believing that the bottle costing £25 was priced as such largely due to the heavy bottomed bottle, sculpted to look like something more suited to the perfume counter at boots, I grabbed the Value and felt confident it would taste no different especially made into cocktails, which is what I planned to do with it... Besides all vodka tastes like nail varnish remover doesn't it?

          So, the night of my cocktail party arrived and I set about making up some drinks for my sister-in-law and I, to start off our night as we prepared the music and nibbles. Having previously attended and hosted many of these style 'gatherings' I've built up quite a repertoire and enjoy trying drinks that are less well known than a cosmopolitan or a sex on the beach! With this in mind I decided on a black cat for myself (vodka, cherry brandy, cranberry juice and cola) while Donna liked the sound of a widow maker (vodka, Jägermeister, coffee liqueur and grenadine). Opening the bottle I must admit I was shocked, vodka is of course going to smell very alcoholic what with being a spirit, but the smell was overwhelmingly potent to the point where it actually made me cough. I hoped it didn't taste as vial as it smelt and thought I should give it a little try prior to mixing it into our drinks, it seemed daft to waste the other ingredients. Big mistake! I braced myself for something unpleasant but nothing could have prepared me for this, it was about as smooth as sandpaper and had one hell of an aftertaste or maybe I should say after-burn! Now normally at this point you discreetly spit it out and have a drink of something else to wash away the taste.. Well this was one unwanted gift that kept on giving, the taste was still there right at the back of my throat for a good while after. If I hadn't opened the bottle myself I wouldn't have believed this was something you were supposed to drink and could easy have been convinced that I'd accidentally had a swig from a bottle of heavy duty cleaner! But having paid £10 for it I really didn't want to waste it and tried making up my black cat, just adding less than I normally would. Unfortunately, although it tasted less alcoholic than normal, it still tasted very 'strong' and chemically.

          I most definitely didn't want to use it to make cocktails for my guests and sent my husband out to the off licence for a better bottle. Hoping that maybe it wouldn't be a total waste I sent the nearly full bottle home with my student sister as she often has/attends house parties and usually any alcohol is received gratefully. 6 months on there's still well over 2/3 of a bottle sitting on her kitchen side, even hard up students wont touch this with a barge pole! So what seemed like a good idea to save a few quid turned out to be a total waste of £10. I'm not saying I would opt for the £25 bottle next time, but I'll certainly be a lot more weary of purchasing cheap spirits!

          If you want my advice, when buying vodka save yourself a tenner by putting in the extra few quid for a bottle of something nicer!

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          • More +
            25.01.2013 13:04
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            A good affordable home for your small pet!

            I'm always on the lookout for new and interesting toys for my pets, while browsing online I came across the Savic Sputnik on an online pet supplies store. The Sputnik is a house for your small pet that fits inside their cage, it consists of 2 interlocking parts and has 3 large openings allowing your pet excellent access but is a fairly deep dome shape so can still be lined with your pets favorite bedding. As you can see from the picture it does look very 'spacey' hence the name Sputnik.

            Never being one to buy something there and then I set about reading some reviews. I have to admit the reviews were a very mixed bag. None of them implied that the Sputnik was a bad product per say, they all stated that it was an innovative design and that it looked great and hung/stood very well and they liked it, their pets however were not so keen and had entirely shunned the Sputnik in favor of more traditional housing. With this in mind I bought only the small Sputnik, for my trio of mice, from my local Pets At Home, with a view to buying a larger one for my pet rats should it prove to be any good.

            The Savic Sputnik comes in two parts and these parts are in two co-ordanating colours these colour combinations include: red and orange, pink and purple, black and white, yellow and green (pictured) and many more, it is also possible to get 'limited edition' Sputniks such as the orange and black halloween one. They are sometimes available in one solid colour if that is what you would prefer although these are harder to find online. If it being one colour is a big deal for you I would recommend going to a pet shop and asking nicely if you can have the top from one and the same colour in a bottom from another to make one solid one (the colours tend to be available in both combinations if that makes sense ie red top orange bottom and orange top red bottom) this is what I did for the one for my mice as there was only masculine colour combinations such as blue and yellow and green and yellow and the assistant kindly helped me make up an all yellow one.

            I must admit I was a bit concerned with how easily the two pieces came apart in the carrier bag as I took them home. But once they are in situ they are very strong and sturdy and even with my mice repeatedly climbing in and out to go fetch bits of food and bedding to make a nest, it has never come apart. The Sputnik can be used two ways, as pictured it can be hung from the bars at the top of the cage, at the bottom of the three legs there are grooves which slot over the bars. This way is very sturdy as one of the grooves goes the opposite way to the other two so it cannot just slip off if knocked. The other way to use it is as a house/ nest on the ground by turning it the other way up and using the leg as ..well ..legs. The legs are far enough apart that it is very stable and makes it difficult to tip, although with the XL size for larger pets a determined fat rat back could probably manage it, however it weighs very little so posses little danger to your pets if it did happen to fall on them.

            Using the Sputnik on the ground would be best for other pets say a hamster who would be likely to be injured if it were to fall whereas rats and mice prefer to be up high and are excellent climbers so greatly enjoy the vantage point that a Sputnik hanging from the top of a cage provides. I have heard of people using Sputniks for a wide variety of small animals including rats, ferrets, degus (XL size) mice, hamsters, gerbils (normal size). As with all pet products you must exercise a certain amount of caution and judgement, what may be suitable for my pet may not be suitable for yours, if for example you have an avid chewer plastic houses are not only a waste of money, they are also potentially dangerous if ingested.

            I really love my Sputnik, I think it looks wonderful in the mice cage, very modern if a little futuristic, but I never did end up buying one for my rats. Being plastic makes it very easy to thoroughly clean and disinfect allowing me to use it for my mice and then when it was rotated out let my rats try it out without worry of cross contamination (germs in general and respiratory infections in particular can be easily spread from one species to another). My rats were only babies at the time so could fit into it ok, but were entirely non-plus about it and much prefer their homemade hammocks. My mice on the other hand adore it, although I have noticed now the weather is colder they tend to use it less and opt for the warmer hay bird nest instead. Something worth bearing in mind if you have hairless rats/mice who like to be snugly or have pets who prefer smaller enclosed spaces to feel more secure.

            Price wise it's about standard for a pet house with the small size coming in at around £3 and the XL costing around £5 although sometimes they do crop up at car boot sales and on places like gumtree secondhand.

            To sum up, a good buy, reasonably priced and somewhat multi-functional, but it wont be to every pets liking hence only 4 stars instead of 5!

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            • More +
              16.01.2013 22:28
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              A decent toy but could be better!

              After much contemplation and a good hunt through the Argos catalogue the Fisher Price brilliant basics was the Christmas present of choice from my mother to my 9 month old little girl.. Already crusing her way around my living room holding onto pieces of furniture it seemed she was more than ready for a walker, especially a pretty pink one modeled like a pushchair... According to the description it is suitable for 9 months+ and I do agree that this is an ideal age, just as your child is starting to show an interest in standing and walking.

              The first plus point was most definitely the minimal amount of assembly it required, according to my husband it was around 6 maybe 8 screws, at that point I was in the kitchen prepping Christmas dinner, so can't comment personally, but he has assured me it was very easy and even I could have done it (cheeky so and so). From being a child I can remember there really is nothing worse than recieving a gift and having to sit there patiently while someone scratches their head for an hour turning the pieces (and the instructions) around different ways trying to figure out how to make the assortment of bits look like the picture on the box! No such issues here though, there was less than 10 minutes from Eliza unwrapping it to Eliza's aunt using some choice words as it ploughed over her feet.

              Don't be fooled by the pictures, it's a lot smaller than it looks, my 9 month old can use it perfectly whereas my slightly taller than average 2 year old (son) has to bend a little if he wants to use it to try and run his toys over. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as I was concerned it may be a little high up for Eliza, I would however be dubious about the amount of use it would get before being outgrown by a toddler though and would probably opt for a different dolls pushchair for a girl of say 18months + It is however more a more than ample size to trip over, and be prepared for it to act somewhat like an oversized roller skate if you collide with it in the dark on your way to the toilet (hubby was kicking himself that he didn't have a camera handy, myself, personally I didn't find it quite so funny, and didn't need a video to remind me as the bruise in my side served as an adequate reminder for several days after).

              Despite my little 'incident' I still think the walker is a good toy, when she's not using it as a walker, Eliza can sit and play with it in other ways, on front bar there is a book, of sorts, that you can flip either way to reveal one of two pictures. There is also a set of animal shapes along the sides that can be slid back and forth ( I believe its an elephant and a bear but don't quote me on that), a rolling tube filled with plastic beads that rattle when turned and lastly a teddy bear on a spring that plays snippets of 2 nursery rhymes. So there's plenty to do!

              It's probably not easy to see from the pictures as there's usually the Fisher Price my first doll sat in the way, but the seat area of the walker is very nicely designed with a big sunshine and other bits of raised pattern on the plastic. I much prefer this method of decoration as stickers tend to peel off and half a sticker makes any toy look old and grubby.

              The handle as I said is a great height for my 9 month old, and has a ridged area for little hands to grip easier. The whole thing though small is heavy enough not to be easily tipped when walking (though light enough for you and them to move it easily) and seems very rugged and chunky, as though it would withstand a bit of a bashing. The back wheels come out wider at the sides than the front so it's an odd shape and as such is a bit of a bugger to store. But then so is a trampoline, a ride on scooter and a 2 foot pirate ship toy, so I suppose it's about normal for kids toys!

              I said earlier that the Fisher Price brilliant basics stroll along walker is a good toy, and don't get me wrong it is, but there are a few simple tweeks that would have made it a great toy! It feels as though the manufacturers have made cuts, scrimping to save themselves a bit of money. The animals that slide allong the bar are quite thin plastic and their design is similar to that of a basic cookie cutter, it has very little detail which makes them look badly made. The beads in the rolling tube are garish colours and look like they got a job lot cheap and finally the teddy that plays 2 nursery rhymes actually only plays 2 second snippets of each rhyme, I've heard text message alert tones that lasted longer. It is for these few reasons that I could not justify awarding any higher than 3 stars. It is above average but having cost £30 I don't think it's too picky of me to want it to look a bit more polished. Afterall kids toys are on the whole mass produced, cheap to make. vacum-formed bits of plastic that make them a lot of money, so it does irritate me when they cut corners to make even more profit...

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              • Fisher Price My First Doll / Doll / 40 Readings / 39 Ratings
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                16.01.2013 20:52
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                A lovely doll and a great toy for a baby girl

                This Christmas I was faced with a bit of a dilemma. My daughter would only be 9 months old and being such a tricky age to buy for everyone was looking to me to provide ideas for her pressies. With a grandma & pops, a nanny, great nanny and 4 sets of aunts and uncles all asking me what to buy for her I was really struggling to come up with ideas. We still had lots of big toys from my 2 year old son's birthdays and Christmases and so things like trampolines, ball pits, kitchen sets and even ride on toys and walkers were all out of the question.

                After an evening spent searching online for ideas I had come up something for all but my mother and one of Eliza's aunties (my sister). My mum then made the situation even more challenging, saying that the rest of our family's gifts from her and my sister were already bought and not only that they were all themed, so could I please hurry up and come up with an idea, oh and it would be lovely if their presents for Eliza could be things that 'went together' too.. No pressure then mum!

                My husband said I should tell them in no uncertain terms to swivel. But, being someone who can't resist a challenge I instead rose to the occasion and dug out my Argos catalog and there it was, the solution to my problems, the fisher price brilliant basics first pushchair, well that was my mum sorted now for a 'co-ordinating' gift from my sister. It had to be fairly cheep... and go with the pushchair. Then to my utter delight I saw the words 'doll not included' printed in small red letters underneath the pushchair, I scanned through the catalogue hoping to find a doll chunky enough for Eliza to hold but small and flexible enough to fit within the seat of the pushchair.

                And there she was, a vision in baby pink, sat amongst the pre-school toys, a big smile plastered across her rosy cheaked face- the Fisher Price my first doll! She was perfect, at £9.97 even my skint student sister could afford her and being the model posing in the my first pushchair I knew she would fit.

                So it was settled, Christmas day came and went (thank god) and Eliza was very happy with all the gifts (I) her relatives had picked out for her. She took a shine to Chloé (the doll, as named by my son who has a baby cousin of the same name), carrying her around with her as she crawled about. Which unfortunately brings me to the only negative of this doll.. As Eliza crawls about, doll in hand, Chloé's face gets dragged along the floor, being soft bodied and having perfectly pale porcelain skin she tends to attract dirt and when she gets even a bit grubby (as baby's favorite toys often do) boy does it show up!

                But don't despair, the Fisher Price my first doll is machine washable, so if your little monster is a fan of banana you wont have to scrub off the black smudges it leaves behind by hand. She can't however be put into a tumble dryer and will have to sit on the radiator or swing merrily on the line until she dries out, something that seems to take rather a long time, but that could just be due to the recent bad weather (it's -4 here at the time of writing).

                Assuming she's not covered in banana stains and bits of whatever that is on the floor, she's actually a very nice looking doll.. For which I am rather grateful, I'm a little phobic about dolls particularly ones that are 'realistic'... Chloé is however as nonthreatening looking as they come, with beautiful blue eyes (and blue eyelashes for some reason I can't quite fathom), a pretty pink babygrow and hat both of which are not removable. This suits me fine as there are no bits to loose and if you really wanted to you could dress her in other clothes, although good luck with that, because she's all thigh and no leg, but maybe you could put a dress on her.

                As I mentioned, Eliza finds it very easy to carry Chloé about and although chunky she weighs very little, her arms are also the perfect size for little hands to hold onto. Her head is the heaviest part of her, both due to the amount of stuffing in her big round face and probably also to the rattle contained within it. Apparently it makes a good noise when you bang her head on the floor as this is what Eliza does with Chloé when she's not dragging her about (poor sod).

                I'd say the Fisher Price my first doll is deffinately well suited for a baby of say around 3 months+ it is suitable from birth but this is more of a safety guideline than an age your baby can actually 'use' this toy. Really until your little one becomes a little more interested in toys it is essentially a very expensive rattle. The first pushchair from Fisher Price is recommended for ages 9 months plus so the two could be bought together at that age or the doll earlier maybe with a view to expanding your collection as your child grows. As I said earlier you might have a hard time dressing her, but as far as other accessories go I can see no reason why she wouldn't fit into most toy high chairs, doll swings, motorized cars (yes, they really do sell them for dolls now) and other accessory type things, which would in theory extend her life and playability as your child outgrows her.

                To sum up, I like her and more importantly Eliza likes her too, she's cute and reasonably priced as baby toys go and although I can't comment on how hardy she is as we're only 1 month and 1 wash in the machine in, as of yet, so far so good!

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                • More +
                  28.11.2012 17:31
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                  A guide on how to put together a gift hamper and some hamper ideas

                  As the title suggests my gifts of choice for the men on my Christmas list this year are hampers! I found the idea on a money saving website I'm a member of a couple of years ago. Having made a few small low budget ones that year as token gifts for distant relations and acquaintances that were very well received, I decided to make up a couple for main presents for both my husbands Nan and my brothers-in-law. The whole thing has snowballed since then, and now not only are 80% of people I buy for getting hampers off me, it's been so popular my mum has nicked my idea for her fiance's family.


                  Hampers are a lovely gift because:-
                  1) They can be made to look a lot more expensive than they are- allowing you to have a big impact with minimal spending 2) Are as expensive as you need/want them to be- it's possible to make a hamper for as little as 4-5 pounds, or you can make a huge hamper costing hundreds, it really is a gift to suit all budgets! 3) They are a very personal gift, and the thought that you have put into the gift really shows, on the other hand it is possible to make up simple hampers with very minimal effort and only a little forward planning and these still look great and get a very good reception 4) And finally, I love them simply because I enjoy coming up with interesting gift ideas, anyone can go out and buy a set of smellies on the 3 for 2 at Boots, or a pair of reindeer socks from Primark but bubble baths will get used up and forgotten, the feeling someone gets from knowing how much you care about them from gift you've put together yourself is one that lasts a very long time. A great example of this happened at a Christmas party last year. My brother-in-laws mum was there, now we'd met a few times before and although she couldn't remember my name and spent the entire evening calling me Gemma, she did remember that I'd made her son a 'things you need when you're fixing your bike' hamper for Christmas 2 years prior, so it had obviously made quite an impact with her and with him.


                  How I go about making up a hamper:
                  The first step in making a hamper is to think of a suitable theme... You could do an amazing xbox 360 hamper that would make any gamer green with envy, but give it to your 80 year old Grandpa and it probably wont go down so well. Unless of course he plays the 360, in which case not only would it be the perfect gift, but you also you have a very cool Grandad!

                  So assuming your Grandad isn't really into that kind of thing and doesn't own the gamertag- Gr3nadier_Grandpa, what does he like? does he have any hobbies? For example, if he always has his nose buried in a crossword, maybe he'd appreciate a puzzling hamper containing selection of puzzle books/magazines, a packet of his favorite mint humbugs to munch on while he's completing them and maybe even a nice new pen. I recently found a coaster online with a crossword printed on it, something like that would also fit in lovely with a puzzling/crossword theme.

                  Or maybe he's a gardening man..

                  The possibilities are endless, but the key is picking something that is personal to them. Once you've done that it's literally a matter of picking up bit's and pieces that fit in with your theme. Then you just have to package them all up together and you have a lovely hamper.

                  The ways you can package your hamper are only limited by your own creativity. For bigger luxury hampers you could use the classic wicker basket, or for a small token gift mini-hamper, say a Secret Santa with a 5 pounds budget you could place a selection of teabags and mini chocolate bars into a nice mug and wrap the whole thing in cellophane for a tea-break hamper. In the past I have even made boxes out of nice stiff card, just remember not to include a lid on the box as being able to see the all the goodies neatly presented inside, maybe in tissue paper, is part of what makes a hamper look so lovely (you could even scatter in some of those little foil Christmas shapes you get from card shops in there too).

                  Cellophane is the key to good presentation, that and a good bow, the bigger the better. Wrap your gifts and their box up from the underneath and gather the cellophane at the top securing with some ribbon and a nice big bow. Another plus to the hamper, it' great if like me you're wrapping impaired!

                  Where to source your materials:
                  Cellophane- your local florist will be happy to sell you a meter or two of cellophane at a very reasonable price, they usually stock a variety of patterns that you can choose from.
                  Other embellishments- Card shops are a great place to buy things like ribbon, the little foil shapes, bows, tissue paper and other little pretty bits and pieces to finish off your hamper in style.
                  Boxes- Shops like B+M and Wilkinsons often have different sized baskets available, and failing that there's always the internet!


                  -A few hamper ideas-
                  These are a few of the hampers I've made in the past, and one's I'm making at the minute.

                  Gaming hamper- Made for my husband last year as a fathers day gift from our children, it included: A new game for his xbox, some energy drinks as he was planning to stay up to complete the game on the day he got it, some chocolates and other treats to munch on as he was playing, a voucher for some Microsoft points and another for 1 months subscription to Xbox live. I hand made the box for this one and in total it cost just over 60 pounds, but did contain lots of expensive bits and pieces.

                  Coffee hamper- Currently in progress for this years gift to my mum's fiance. So far I have a selection of single serve sachets of different coffees for him to try, a battery operated milk frother (from Ikea only 1.25), a crossword for him to do while he's having a coffee, some of his favorite biscuits, some chocolate dipped teaspoons (these can be bought or made yourself using a guide from the internet), a coffee coaster and closer to the time I intend to add some of those caramel wafers Starbucks do that sit on your hot drink and go all gooey and yummy!

                  Pampering hamper- My sister asked for smellies for Christmas off me and my husband but it seemed a bit generic so I did her a hamper that included not only smellies but also a book to read in the bath while having a soak, some face masks (again can be bought or made from recipes found online), one of those towel hair wrap things (Poundland had them in not long ago) and some scented candles. This one could be adapted to a man by using male pampering products (duh!) or by changing it slightly to a more man specific theme such as 'foot care'.

                  Bookworms hamper- I loved this hamper as it allowed me to buy lots of little bits for my book loving brother-in-law without the farce of wrapping up lots of tiny presents. It contained among other little things, a book he'd been hinting at for a while, a little reading lamp that clips to the pages of your book, a novelty bookmark, some tickets to a book signing by one of his favorite authors and some novelty bookends.

                  Token gift baking hamper- I made my mum's fiance's granddaughters a little baking hamper each last year each contained a mini rolling pin, an apron, some simple cake recipes that I wrote out on nice card, some cake cases and a pack of biscuit cutters that came in a pack of 20 (1.99 from B+M) but I split between both hampers so they had 10 each. This could easily be adapted as a token gift for a man, by including more grown up biscuit cutters and an adults novelty apron, the recipe cards could even be made more adult by including recipes for more grown-up bakes such as rum and raisin cookies or dark chocolate and raspberry cake.

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                  • More +
                    28.11.2012 14:41
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                    A brilliant product and one I would really reccomend!

                    Not long ago I signed up to become a member of BzzAgent, a website where you are sent products to try in return for spreading your honest opinion on the product through word of mouth. The first campaign I was invited to participate in was for Persil Non Bio washing liquid. I accepted the invite and was sent a free 630ml bottle of the product to try.


                    -Appearance-
                    The bottle is quite tall and tapered towards the top, which I have found to be particularly useful as it's easy to grip one handed (with my abnormally small hands) leaving my other hand free to hold my 7 month old daughter, a godsend because she's very clingy at the moment while her top 2 teeth are coming through! The packaging is very clean looking, a white plastic sleeve encompasses the bottle with just a splash of the Persil logo's blue at the top of the bottle and a matching blue screw on lid. The sleeve does however have a clear strip down one side of the bottle allowing you to see how much of the liquid is left, meaning you wont have to guess when you need to pick up a new one. The bottle comes with a clear cap over the top of the blue one, the purpose of which is to allow you to accurately measure out the amount of liquid with handy markers at 35ml and 52ml (The relevance of these amounts I'll explain in a moment). The reverse of the pack has all the usual safety information (don't put it in your eyes or allow children to put it in theirs, don't add it to your cuppa if you run out of milk, the usual stuff companies have to add to packaging just in case some moron decides to see how good washing liquid is as an alternative to their usual whitening eye-drops), it also has the Persil website info and directs you there for handy tips on how to get out tough stains. There is also a step by step guide on how to use the product, measuring out 35ml for standard 4-5kg loads washed in a soft/medium water area, or 52ml for 6-8kg loads, very dirty loads, or for hard water areas. The writing on this info could do with being a little bigger as it was quite difficult to read unless I was holding the bottle right upto my face.


                    -Wash Booster Technology-
                    Many companies boast innovative 'technologies' in order to promote their product above competing brands, some even go so far as to make up new scientific-sounding words in their attempts to lure you into making a purchase. With this in mind I'm always a little skeptical when I try a product containing one of these fancy new 'technologies'. In the case of Persil Non Bio's wash booster however it seems my cynicism was unfounded, the claim is that the wash booster technology helps provide Persil's best ever stain removal particularly on oily or greasy stains. Well after putting it to the test I can honestly say it works wonders. My 2 year old kindly provided me with a situation in which to thoroughly test the wash booster by wiping a greasy hand on my husbands coat after eating a bacon sandwich. Lo and behold out came the stain, on only a quick wash and at a mere 40 degrees. Needless to say I was impressed!


                    -Smell-
                    If you open the bottle and take a big whiff the smell is overpowering to say the least. I find it very hard to describe products such as washing liquid without using the phrase clean-smelling, but I'll give it ago. Initially I was surprised at the smell in the bottle, as I said it was very strong, not necessarily bad just a bit overwhelming for the senses. However, since you're not going to spend your time with your nose in the bottle it's probably more helpful to describe how it made my washing smell. Luckily the smell of clothes once they've been washed in Persil Non Bio is a lot more delicate. It's rather floral and a very pleasant smell. The clothes retain their just washed smell for a long time afterwards, and even after taking off my dirty clothes at the end of a long day it was still slightly noticeable under the smell of my usual perfume.

                    When clothes washed in Persil are in the dryer the smell fills my kitchen and my sister even commented on how lovely it smelled. My husband did mention that it gave him a bit of a headache when he was in the kitchen for a long time while the dryer was on, but he's quite sensitive to fragrances, if I spray perfume just before we get into a car he has to open a window or he gets a headache, so if you're sensitive to smells it may be something to bear in mind.


                    -How good is it at getting your clothes clean?-
                    As I mentioned earlier I was very impressed with how it handled the greasy stain on my husbands coat and in general I've been pleasantly surprised by how well Persil Non Bio handles stains, with 2 young children I find I have a lot of stains to deal with on a day to day basis and it's handled every type of stain I've thrown at it particularly well, this has included everything from blackening banana stains on day old bibs, to grass and mud stains on the knees of my sons trousers after the park. I've had very few (a lot less than usual) items that needed to go through a second time, and have not felt the need to use an extra stain remover.

                    Even though it has done such a good job getting my family's clothes clean it's still kind on skin and my son who has particularly sensitive skin has had no reaction to it whatsoever and it leaves my baby daughters clothes feeling lovely and soft.


                    -Opinions-
                    Overall I'm very impressed, so much so I'm seriously considering making the switch from my usual Daz: Mandarin and Lime! I love the smell, it's delicate yet doesn't fade too quickly, it cleans brilliantly even on a cooler wash, and so far is lasting me longer than I thought it would (the pack says it contains 18 washes worth, but I am only just under half way through the bottle after around 13 washes, and using slightly less than the recommended 35ml per wash hasn't affected it's stain removing capabilities. I'll be buying it again and would recommend it, particularly to those with small children or those who have sensitive skin.

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                  • More +
                    21.10.2012 16:14
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                    A bad idea for hamster owners, designed with child owners in mind, not suitable housing!

                    Having owned several different types of modular cages designed for small animals (including - habitrail, crittertrail, rotastak and imac), I can honestly say I've given them a thorough testing and so my verdict is as fair as possible. I have also kept small animals in 'regular' barred cages and also in tanks so my opinion on this (and pretty much all modular type cages) is based not only on this cage itself but also on it's use compared to other types of cages.

                    I came to own the habitrail ovo pad a few years ago after adopting a hamster from a local small animal rescue, the cage came free as they had little to no use for it since they believed (as I do) that this cage is only suitable as a temporary accommodation for a hamster/mouse and should not be used as a permanent home for your pet. I took it with me after assuring them that as soon as I had the little guy home he was going straight into a proper barred cage I had already set up for him. This leads me onto the first and one of the only positives to this 'cage'- it did in fact do the the job of keeping Gus (the hamster) secure on the 5 mile journey home, far more so than any of the cardboard 'take me home' boxes given to new pet owner by pet shops, has ever done! It would however be very foolish to purchase one soley for this purpose however as they're bloomin' expensive. Having done a quick search and found that a new 'pad' will set you back anywhere up to £30 and even a stained and chewed used one is being sold for £10 on Gumtree.

                    - But it must be good, it's so expensive -
                    Modular cages do tend to be on the pricey side. The bright colors and interesting designs attract the potential owners (mostly young children) and the hefty price tag lures you into believing that it must be a good cage- because why else would you be being asked to pay so much for what is essentially lots of pieces of thin plastic? It's done on the same premise as goods sold for babies, you are guilted into paying more because you believe that your child/pet deserves the best and the most expensive must be the best. With the habitrail range you also pay more because it has things like 'patent lock connectors'.

                    - But what is it? -
                    O.K so before I start on what is going to be a pretty negative and probably quite long review and explanation of why this cage is not only a waste of your money but also a pretty poor excuse for a cage, I should probably give a brief description of the ovo pad, what it is, what it does and what it looks like.
                    The Pad is as I said before a modular type cage, what this basically means is that the cage system is meant to be joined together with other cages (obviously from the same range) and expanded thus giving your pet a bigger cage and the manufacturer more money as you add to your collection. People spend hundreds on expanding their hamsters home because they feel it needs more space- don't believe me? type 'huge hamster cage' into YouTube and see what I mean.
                    The cage looks like it comprises two sections, the main orange and white section and that little blue and white ball looking thing on the side. Well the blue section is in fact the water bottle. I'll come back and rant about the bottle later. The cage itself is roughly 12" in diameter so has an approximate floor space of 113 sq inches. When bought new it contains a rather large exercise wheel, a food dish and a small house. The clear plastic sections at the top of the cage are described as windows and fold back to allow you easy access to your hamster. At the end of the cage is a small locked connector, this allows you to add other habitrail products onto your pad.

                    - Why is space so important -
                    There are several species of hamster available for prospective pet owners to purchase although these can be divided into two main categories, the large Syrian or golden hamster and the smaller dwarf breeds. When considering the housing of hamsters it is important to remember that although the dwarf breeds are smaller they have a faster metabolism and are social in nature so should be housed in pairs or small colonies, so will require the same size home as a solitary Syrian hamster, possibly a bigger one as dwarf hamsters often will not climb on barred cages and will struggle to use verticle tubes to gain access to extra pods added onto modular cages, so maximum floor space is vital when housing dwarf breeds. Either way, the bare minimum for laboratory hamsters is no less than 124 square inches of usable floor space, and hamster fanciers/breeders will recommend a minimum of 360 square inches, by either standard the ovo pad falls short. Hamsters in the wild live in burrows dug into the ground, these contain many different chambers and compartments including at least one separate area for urinating/pooing, an area for sleeping and an area for hoarding collected food. They are very active creatures (all be it at night) and require plenty of stimulation to be kept happy and prevent stress behavior. Providing your hamster with lots of space allows him/her not only to carry out it's natural behaviors but also gives you space in which to place plenty of enrichment items for your hamster to use. The ovo pad has very limited floor space and the large wheel provided takes up a fair amount of that space and even if you were to buy and add other units to your cage the amount of usable floor space is deceptively small, even 3 of these cages joined together (that's nearly £100 worth of cages) would come up short on the minimum amount of space recommended by hamster enthusiasts. Hamsters kept in small cages WILL smell and those cages WILL require far more frequent cleanings.

                    - Apart from space (or lack of), what else is wrong? -
                    Well remember that water bottle I mentioned earlier (that little blue pod on the side of the cage) I said I'd get back to it and I haven't by any means forgotten about it. Standard small animal water bottles have a ball within the spout to ensure that the bottle does not leak, or to at least limit the amount that the bottle will leak. The bottle supplied with the ovo pad instead uses a vacuum seal and unless you follow the instructions very carefully (I'm told often repeating the last few steps a number of times) to achieve a complete seal, it can leak quite badly.
                    This however is not my big issue with the ovo water bottle. It is in fact the terrible design of the bottle which means that it is uncomfortable for your hamster to use. Having used this twice, once for bringing Gus home and the other for transporting two small dwarf hamsters to the vet I noticed problems with the bottle both times. The dwarves had to crane their neck to uncomfortable angles in order to drink from it where-as the lager Syrian hamster Gus had to actually lie on his back to use the bottle.
                    It seems the bottle was designed with the wrong 'user' in mind with the bottle being easy for you the 'user' of the cage to fill rather than your hamster the inhabitant of the cage to drink. Modular cages as a whole are designed with you the user rather than your hamster the inhabitant in mind.
                    Another big problem with this cage is the ventilation, in fact almost the entire of the habitrail range has this problem, the exception being the hybrid cages that are a mixture of a modular and a bar type cage. This is an even greater problem the smaller the cage you have. Imagine a small room with all the windows closed it would be far less 'airy' than a big house with all the windows closed. The same is true of these types of cage and so unless you are willing to pay vast amounts of money for a huge set-up you will have the issue of poor ventilation and possibly condensation. Condensation is often a big problem as it can cause respiratory issues in hamsters and can cause food your hamster has hoarded to go moldy.

                    - Issues not related to the well-being of your hamster -
                    The cage also comes with a set of issues completely unrelated to how hamster-friendly it is, for those of you who still need convincing that it's not a good buy. The cage is very hard to keep clean, not wanting it to be stored away in my mothers loft having been used without washing it, I gave it a thorough clean once Gus was safely in his new home. In order to be properly clean it has to be completely dissembled, cleaned then reassembled which is pretty time consuming. You're in a catch 22 situation the smaller the setup the more frequently it will need cleaning, the larger the setup the longer it will take to clean. This cage also has an endless number of fiddly little spaces and grooves for dirt to build up in. If you were to extend it you would need to use connecting tubes and I know from experience that these are a bugger to keep clean. One of the big issues people have with assembling the ovos is that the lid falls off. I noticed this when I tried to put it all back together and I realized after several attempts that there's a nack to it.
                    As I mentioned earlier the cage on it's own is unsuitable as a stand-alone cage for your pet so be prepared to expand and pay at least double or triple what you pay for this cage in order to create a suitable home for your furry friend.

                    - In conclusion -
                    To sum up.. I am not a fan of this cage (could you tell) or modular cages in general.. If you were set on getting a habitrail branded cage though maybe to connect to an existing set-up, I would recommend the twist or cristal as they have better ventilation and are slightly larger than the ovo pad. If you're just looking for a modular type cage and aren't fussed on brand, I can't recommend the imac fantasy highly enough especially is you extend it with an extra layer or two. In general I would steer away from modular cages and opt for either a standard barred cage with a few layers or a large home-made bin type cage (type home-made bin cage into Google for a how-to)!

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                    • More +
                      18.10.2012 22:34
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                      A brilliant all round perfume with a fantastic smell, great for both day and night wear.

                      Last Christmas I took my husband trailing round the shops in search of a new perfume. He's never been that good at picking out pressies for me, I have to give him his dues he does try, but often misses the mark. Last year I decided to take matters into my own hands and pick out my own gift which he would then wrap up for me.

                      I wanted a new perfume, having found that post-baby my natural smell had changed and my old perfume (Moschino- cheap and chic) no longer suited me and now smelt 'tangy' when I used it.

                      The first stop on my hunt for a new fragrance was the perfume counter at Boots. I didn't intend to buy the perfume from there unless it was on offer as there was a discount perfumery just round the corner, but unfortunately they didn't let you sample the scents before you purchased. I walked around spritzing different perfumes onto the little sampler cards, smelling each one in turn and offering them to my very uninterested husband for his verdict. The response was usually something allong the lines of "mhmm thats nice" or "that smells good is that the one you want". Not only was he bad at gift picking, turns out he was pretty useless at helping me pick out a perfume too!

                      I was looking for something that was not overly floral, my mother wears Beautiful by Estée Lauder and on her it smells unbelievably feminine and very glamorous, on the odd occasion that I have stayed over and forgotten my own perfume and have pinched a bit it has not suited me at all. In fact I'd say Beautiful and almost all other very floral perfumes I have tried have smelt very cheap on me, my say-it-like-it-is sister even commented on one occasion that I smelt like a 'cheap hooker'. So with floral all but ruled out, I was looking for something with a deeper scent and knew from experience that something with a musky base note complimented my natural smell very well.

                      I narrowed it down to two fragrances that I particularly liked the smell of, one was a perfume called Alien the other was Ghost deep night. My husband liked both and so was very little help making a decision (typical). Both fragrances were very nice and having sprayed one on one wrist and the other on the other I knew both suited me, they also both shared a common smell which I have now found out to be the amber base note. Despite the subtle similarities, the two had very distinctly different smells however.

                      In the end it was the price that clinched the deal for Ghost deep night. At around 60 pounds for 60ml Alien was very pricey, while Ghost in comparison for 50ml was priced at a mere 25 pounds. Considering I liked them both equally it seemed silly to spend nearly twice as much on Alien.

                      My husband decided to take charge at this point and sent me away with my son to go get a coffee while he purchased the perfume. When I unwrapped it at Christmas I discovered that he'd sent me away so it would be a surprise when I opened it and found not just the perfume but the Deep Night gift set containing the 30ml eau de Toilette and a 50ml Body Lotion. I have since purchased a gift set for a friend's birthday so know it retails for around 20 pounds which is excellent value for money.

                      The bottle the perfume comes in is a wonderful shade of deep purple, and with it's crescent moon shape looks very nice sat on my dresser. The only gripe I have about the shape is that sometimes the tips can come a little sharp when I plunge my hand into my handbag forgetting that I have my perfume in there.

                      The smell is in my opinion beautiful, it has top notes of indian rose although this does fade quite quickly, heart notes of orange, white tree and apricot and base notes of vanilla, amber and the scent that suits me so well- musk.

                      When you initially spray the perfume it has quite a strong smell, and if applied a little over zealously can be overpowering. The initial strong smell fades quite quickly and leaves behind a very unique woody scent with a hint of the apricot and vanilla. It is a very feminine scent, and I have often been told I smell very nice whilst wearing it. I don't find it sickly unlike other vanilla based fragrances, but it does have a sweetness to it, whilst still being a very rich smell.

                      I don't tend to need to re-apply it frequently and find that it lasts very well all day or all night. It suits being worn at both day and night time, although I tend to use less of it during the day.

                      I would recommend it to someone who is looking for a musky perfume that's not too floral, and doesnt want to pay ridiculous prices. It is avaliable from all good perfumers and I have seen it as cheaply as 15 pounds for 30ml on some online perfume shops such as cheapsmells.com

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