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I bought this mini Dyson for my seven year old son one Christmas when he was a toddler; he always enjoyed copying mummy when it came to household duties so it was no surprise that he really loved this when he received it. For just under £20.00, it's on par price wise with other toy vacuum cleaners such as Henry or Hoover, I only really chose this because it was an upright style like I had and they didn't have the Hoover one in my local toyshop. I have to say that there was really no assembly to speak of, it came out of the box and was almost ready to go with the exception of slotting on the handle at the top and adding the 4x C batteries that are required and not supplied. As a replica of a real model it actually looks pretty good, the colour, scale and add ons are all reminiscent of the real thing and therefore perfect for little grownups. The only real difference is that there is a plastic viewer on the front with small beads inside that move around when the toy is 'on'. Apparently this is to make it more realistic but I've never seen a real vacuum cleaning with colourful beads on the front. There is a slider switch on the front that turns the machine on, this slides easily and can be comfortably done by a child. The handle actually slides off to become a wand, this is supposed to really pick stuff up but under closer inspection it really doesn't. It is also quite tricky to get on and off because you are pulling against the hose and then having to get it back onto the sliders which my small child found almost impossible. The wand also has a couple of attachments again to add to the realism. These slot on and off fairly effortlessly although small hands do sometimes struggle and need a bit of help. Even though the Dyson didn't pick up like it was supposed to, none of the enjoyment was taken away because of this. My son really enjoyed playing with this toy both on his own and alongside me when I was cleaning and it was nice that he could spend time with me whilst I was doing all the boring jobs at home. However, after about a few months, the beads stopped spinning round although this wasn't an integral part of the fun it was disappointing but the end finally came after about a year when the bottom section came away from the handle and wouldn't go back together so the contraption had to go in the bin. Now I have mixed feelings about this product because although it gave many hours of play for my toddler I don't think a year is an acceptable time frame for a child's toy, I would have liked it to last long enough for my daughter to enjoy as well but perhaps this is asking too much.
If my mums going to be out for the day I quite often pop to hers on my lunch break to let the dog stretch her legs in the garden and to top up her water. As my lunch only lasts an hour I was most disgruntled to be greeted with soggy socks as I stepped through the kitchen door because the family pooch had tipped its bowl over. After spending a few of my lunch hours mopping up the mess and refilling the bowl only for my mum to come home to the same thing. Whilst in Pets at Home I spotted these non tip dishes that claimed to be the answer to my problems. At £4.99 for a medium sized dish I decided it would be worth a try if it meant I didn't have to go back to work again with wet feet. A smaller version is available for £2.99 and a larger version for £7.99. The bowl itself is stainless steel and has a rubber base to prevent your dog from being able to tip it over because it doesn't move when pushed across the floor or nudges by a paw. So this bowl has been in use for a few months now and I am happy to report that my socks have stayed clean and dry except for the odd spot that seems the leap over the rim if knocked hard enough. My mum actually bought another one of these for her food and although not quite as successful at keeping its contents in because she tends to flick food up into the air and the sides aren't that high, it still stops her having to chase her bowls across the kitchen floor whilst trying to eat her dinner. Although fairly easy and straightforward to clean, I have found that over time the rubber has got little nicks in it and the much seem to sit between the rubber and the steel of the bowl which is quite unsightly especially on the food bowl. The bowls are therefore in need of replacement but I will definitely be getting the same product again because I don't miss that cold wet feeling under my toes.
Although not a pet owner myself, my mum has a gorgeous Cocker Spaniel that's been a part of the family for a few years now. Toys had become very hit and miss, anything rubber she would pop and anything stuffed she would split at the seams so we could examine the contents as they got thrown around the house. The other difficulty was that being a tad on the dim side she has never gotten the concept of fetch instead she gets the ball then expects you to be so desperate to get it that you chase her around the garden trying to grab it which can become quite exhausting. Last year I took my children into my local Pets at Home store to fuss over the baby bunnies when I spotted this toy hanging up. At £5.00 I decided it was reasonable to buy as a little pressie and off to my mothers I went to give it a try. The product itself is a thick multicoloured rope around 50cm long that had a knot at either end. At first my dog was a little unsure but once I convinced her it wasn't going to bite (I told you she was dim) she came and had a sniff and she's never looked back. Our favourite game occurs when she holds one end in her mouth and I hold the other. A tug of war ensues and she enjoys holding it there and pulling for as long as possible until I give in and she gives me a smug look. The knot on the end makes it so much easier to hold onto when playing this kind of game although it does give you arm ache after a while. As I said earlier she doesn't get fetch but we can still play a throwing game with this because when she holds it in her mouth after I've thrown it there is something I can at least try and grab hold of when she 'torments' me with it. For a dog that enjoys a game of fetch this could be used in the same way as a ball it just won't bounce when thrown. This toy is around a year old now and its still one of her favourites, occasionally it has to go in the wash because it gets a bit tatty looking and some of the edges are looking a little frayed where its been pulled about and chewed but its generally pretty indestructible and that's why it gets full marks from me. I think this is a great toy for any dog; this size is ideal for a medium to large dog because a smaller dog wouldn't be able to hold it in its mouth but I'm sure there were smaller ones available at a lower cost. Overall this is a good priced toy that's easy to play with and is very long lasting.
When I had my first child I bought a large three wheeler pushchair as at the time I walked everywhere so I needed something suitable for my circumstances but when I got a car I found it difficult to get in and out of the car so decided to look for something a little more practical. I went to my local Toys R Us store as I like that fact that they have all their pushchairs out for you to push around and try out before you buy. I decided to go for an umbrella type buggy that would fold away easily in the boot of the car and was lightweight enough for me to lift in and out. I came across the very reasonably priced Chicco CT 06 that seemed to fit the bill. The buggy is available in black, baby blue, light pink or red, I got the red one because I liked the look of it and felt that the blue and pink would show the muck and the black was a little boring. It comes with a fairly good rain cover that fits over the handles easily and then has Velcro that sticks together round the bottom of the pushchair, it folds away for easy storage and can be kept in the basket that is underneath. The basket is a tad flimsy and just hangs in place underneath the seat by Velcro. It's handy to put the rain cover in but anything else either falls over the side or pulls too hard at the Velcro meaning the basket ends up on the floor along with all your stuff. The buggy also has a hood with retracts when not in use but pulls forward and then clips into place when needed. This is handy to shade your child from the sun and to protect them from the elements. At 5.5kg the buggy is easy for me to lift in and out of the car, it opens out without much effort and you only have to press your foot on the back for it to lock into place which is easy enough. To collapse the buggy you have to push down one button with your foot which releases the metal bar at the back that needs pushing up and the buggy collapses. This probably could be done one handed with baby in tow but it is much easier without. As my daughter was around the year mark at the time of purchase, the six months and over age restriction wasn't an issue for me but I did notice that most of these types of pushchairs are for six months upwards as they don't lie back fully and so the child needs to be able to hold their head upright fairly well to be comfortable. The seat has a zip on the back at either side and when these are undone it reclines the seat slightly, although this doesn't seem a lot it means that your child doesn't get that nodding dog look that so often occurs with unreclinable buggies when they fall asleep. The seat itself is slightly padded ensuring a comfortable ride for your youngster however; I wouldn't recommend buying this if your child is going to be sitting for long periods of time as the padding isn't really sufficient enough. The five point safety harness clips together in the middle, I have had a couple of near misses with my daughters skin in the summer months so please ensure you hold the straps away from them when clipping together because it snaps together quite rapidly. I have found that little bits of debris tend to sit in between the grooves either side of the seat but this is easily rectified by pushing the seat out on itself and giving it a good shake. The seat can also be cleaned fairly well with some hot soapy water and a reasonably hot day I found this out for myself after an accident during potty training left no unpleasant after smells. The handle height is 100cm which is great for my 5ft 6" height but my partner has complained that his back hurts after pushing this around for a while so perhaps this isn't suitable for those who are on the taller side. There is a footrest but as it isn't adjustable it only really some into play when your child gets bigger. The buggy has four front facing wheels but the front ones each have a clip that can be flipped up make the wheels swivel which makes it easier to manoeuvre when walking around. Overall, I'm happy with this pushchair; at around £60.00 it's in the mid range for its style but the comfortable reclining seat, rain cover and retractable hood means that it has the features to warrant the price. My daughter is nearly three now and rarely goes in it but it's still in good condition and has definitely lasted through its recommended ages of 6 months to 3 years.
Mr Pop was a game I remembered enjoying as a child so when I saw it on offer a couple of years ago in my then local Woolworths store for around £5.00 I thought it might be something my then 3 year old son would enjoy playing. The box is fairly slim and inside you get a base, a plastic face with holes in, several plastic pieces denoting various parts of the face and around 15 different picture cards. The face slots easily into the base and is then pushed back into a tilted position. There is a timer on the base that needs to be pushed across, I find this fairly straightforward but my son couldn't grip it very well. An on/off button activates and stops the timer so you can begin the game when you are ready. The cards are split into three different levels with 1 being the easiest and 3 being the hardest. The aim of the game if to get all of the corresponding pieces onto the face before the timer runs or the face pops forward and your pieces fly everywhere marking the end of your turn. When we first started playing we chose our cards ourselves but now we tend to put them face down on the floor so it's the luck of the draw. Occasionally we even make up our own faces just for a different way to play. There are around twenty pieces including 3 sets of eyes, 2 noses, a pair of glasses and a couple of groovy hats, each piece slots onto the board fairly well although I find the gasses don't tend to stay put very well and sometimes fall off before they should. The variety of pieces means there are plenty of faces to make and you don't really memorise each card. I do think the timer is a little on the fast side, at less than 15 seconds its not really long enough for a toddler or even a child to get to grips with the pieces on their card never mind putting them all on the face. The timer also makes a large ticking noise which adds to the feeling of panic and is distracting for children. We have abandoned the timer in favour of matching our pieces to the card and then just switching it on for the pieces to fly off after all that's the funniest bit. My son is nearly seven now and he still occasionally enjoys playing this game, his 2 year old sister is starting to join in and although we have to patient as it takes her time to match it up, its nice to have something we can all sit down and play together. This game is four years old now and the box is looking a bit tatty and I've had to sellotape the bottom because every time I lifted it up the pieces would fall out and the cards are also looking a little warm around the edges but the game itself doesn't look aged at all which I am really pleased about. This is also a game I quite enjoy sitting with the kids to play it keeps us all entertained for around twenty minutes and its helping the kids with their hand eye coordination because the pieces are quite small for little hands and the slots on the back have to be put in the right way. It also helps them learn to match things up from looking at the card to finding the piece and then putting it in the right place. Overall I think this is a fun, reasonably priced entertaining game that many young children would enjoy. I like it even more because no batteries are required. The only downside is the annoyingly noisy and overly fast timer but it doesn't have to be used so it isn't a huge negative. It is currently available to buy on Amazon for £5.99.
A couple of years ago my dentist recommended trying an electric toothbrush to combat the issue I was having with sore gums. I was a little dubious and wondered if she was on some kind of commission based incentive as I had seen some of the £50.00plus ones on the market, but when she recommended trying a cheap disposable type I decided perhaps she was actually trying to help me with my oral health problems. There is a vast array of electric toothbrushes to choose from but as I had never tried one before and I am not into spending lots of money on a product I'm unsure about I went for the Colgate Actibrush which I found for £3.99 in my local Wilkinson store. The toothbrush comes in a vacuum sealed pack with the product clearly visible through the packaging. The handles come in different colours which is handy if you live in a multi person household as toothbrush sharing isn't really recommended. The toothbrush itself is easy enough to hold, the handle is a good length and width to accommodate a comfortable grip. There is a simple on / off button on the front which slides up and down and the head has a rotating bit as well as an active cleaning tip for those 'hard to reach areas'. I remember the first time I used this product (a bit sad I know) and being amazed at how wonderfully clean my mouth felt, compared to a manual toothbrush this provides a far more thorough clean as well as being easier on the wrist because this doesn't require any rapid movement to get it to work. As time has gone on the sensation becomes somewhat normal but once a week I try to give my teeth an extra good clean and I get that lovely 'I want to touch my teeth' feeling all over again. I originally bought this to combat my gum problems and I can happily report this is a thing of the past; I no longer get bleeding whilst brushing or a bruised feeling afterwards which is great. Although I only initially went for this to try out this product, I've stuck with it ever since because my gums are no longer sore, my teeth feel so much cleaner and I've had one filling since using this product as oppose to 3 in the two years previous. I find that after around six months the bristles start to splay out and the toothpaste seems to sit in the cracks around the battery compartment which looks a bit unsightly so I tend to just buy a new one. Replacement heads can be purchased but tend to cost around the same price as a whole new unit so it really doesn't seem worth it. The product does come supplied with batteries and these will last a couple of months with two brushes per day which is reasonable. I do tend to replace them with good quality batteries (2x AAA) because the cheaper ones don't seem to make the bristles spin as fast resulting in a poorer clean. It's quite obvious when they are ready to be replaced because the spinning section stops rotating as soon as you touch your teeth. I do find it quite difficult to get the bottom of the toothbrush off to change the batteries, having to enlist the help of my somewhat stronger partner, although a sharp knife would probably do the trick if necessary. I have had one unit that has died before the bristles went; there was no power one day and changing the batteries didn't help but I just replaced it assuming that perhaps a bit of water got in and this hasn't happened since so I'm not particularly concerned as this could have been my error rather than a problem with the unit. Overall I'm quite impressed with this product; I can't compare it to one of its more expensive competitors but compared to a manual toothbrush the cost isn't much more but the clean feeling for both your teeth and gums is fantastic so I would definitely recommend.
Our last swimming trip was the first time I have took my daughter swimming without the need for a special swim nappy since she is out of nappies altogether now. As most of you with young children will know your average nappy is not suitable for going in the water, as the super absorbency of these products nowadays means it soaks the moisture up like a sponge, creating a large, soggy, drooping monstrosity between your toddler's legs. Swim nappies were brought out a few years ago, I can't particularly remember them being around when my sisters were little some 15 years ago but they were definitely available when my son was born in 2003. The market leader for this range seems to be Huggies; their swim pants come in 3 different sizes and are also covered with recognisable characters from the world of kids TV and film. Each packet is brightly coloured, showing the size and the appropriate weight that the nappy would be suitable for. I remember standing in the supermarket deliberating how many pounds my daughter weighed because she hadn't been to baby clinic for at least a year but I'd never put her on the scales so I had to guess and hope for the best. Although this is a problem, I can't particularly think of a better way to advertise the suitability of each size. Each pack contains between 10 and 14 nappies and retails for around £5.00 although our local supermarket seems to have them regularly on offer for £4.00. The packs are made of a thin plastic that has to be ripped open, this is a small disadvantage of the packaging because once open, the contents tend to become half exposed with no way of sealing them and therefore nothing to protect them from getting wet, dirty or squashed whilst in your bag. Each nappy is attractive enough; I have previously had both The Little Mermaid themed ones and Toy Story both of which were brightly coloured, covering the whole surface area. They are of the pull up nature meaning that you have to pull them up from the feet, this isn't a problem as both the leg holes and the waistband are elasticated meaning you have plenty of space. So they fit well but do they work? Yes and no, I find that for a number one they seem to soak up the majority of the liquid and they definitely don't expand when in the water. I find that if your child goes for a number two though, by the time you get them out of the pool the contents seem to have all but disappeared which gives e the impression that the waste has been left floating about in the pool / sea. I think this happens because the elasticated leg holes which make the product easy to get on almost gape open when your child is kicking around and moving their legs whilst having fun in the pool. The main advantage of this product other than the fact that it doesn't absorb water is that the sides just rip apart meaning you don't have to struggle getting the wet soggy nappy down over your babies legs, although be careful when doing this if the contents of a number two are inside because you don't want any of it flicking up whilst removal is in progress. Overall this is a good product, it doesn't absorb water, it goes on and comes off easily and it works fairly well. I do think Huggies are a little overpriced, with many of the cheaper alternatives being and just as good at a fraction of the cost. If you have a child in nappies and are thinking of taking them swimming this product is almost a necessity especially in pools where most babies and toddlers won't be let in if they aren't wearing one.
I can't say I heard of this film until my sister had it on a two night rental last week and said I could borrow it after she'd watched it on the first night. The Crazies has just been released on DVD and is a remake of the 1973 film of the same name, this version was directed by Breck Eiser and executive produced and co-written by original filmmaker George A Romero. Small town Sheriff David Dutton and his wife Judy are happily married and expecting their first child. The town of Ogden Marsh, Iowa seems the perfect place to raise a family but when the Sheriff and his Deputy Russell Clark witness one of the locals trying to shoot people things take a turn for the worse. When other residents start exhibiting violent tendencies the government steps in but not in the way the townspeople expected. When I read the cover for this film I expected it to be quite a scary film that would probably make me jump a few times but was nothing out of the ordinary. Instead I watched a fairly interesting story although not totally original that explored human behaviour in times of crisis and shows how much people are willing to risk to save their friends and family despite the risk to the general population. The film manages to get straight to the action without giving much of a back story, although this usually has a detrimental affect on most films it actually works quite well here because you feel as much in the dark with the situation as the characters do. We are only given the information as it trickles in, heightening the sense of fear due to the unknown. We are given a little more knowledge of the characters, just enough to feel empathy for their situation ensuring we route for them to succeed and become invested in their future, without spending far too long getting to know them which was positive. Although there was some blood and guts, I was surprised that there wasn't more gratuitous use of sickening things, instead the film played on my imagination a little making it a more personal experience rather than a gory one. There are some interesting ethical issues raised; the government took over the town and didn't have to explain to the residents why, cutting them off from the rest of the world. Although you hope this sort of thing wouldn't really happen, it places doubt in your mind about how much power the authorities really have to shut you off from society without giving a reason. There weren't any over the top Michael Bay type special effects but there was a good use of make-up and prosthetics for those who wore it. I think the film makes good use of its surroundings and props by taking things that seem typical of small town America and making them fit in with the story in a sinister way. Although I wouldn't say the film was particularly scary, I do think there are some unpleasant scenes that some may find distressing or upsetting. The use of emotive issues really adds to the awfulness of some of the actions of the people involved. The 15 certificate is definitely necessary and I wouldn't recommend letting anyone younger watch it because although there isn't a lot of swearing or any scenes of a sexual nature, there are some quite gruesome and disturbing images and some of the issues raised are quite disturbing. None of the cast are particularly well known for mainstream films but most put in believable performances. Timothy Olyphant shoes promise as the small town deputy, he gives David the necessary authority without ever making him seem cocky or arrogant. Radha Mitchell is believable as the sheriff's wife, she makes Judy easy to like and care for by making her a strong female that still relies on her husband, showing her emotional side without being pathetic. Joe Anderson also gives a promising performance as the deputy. Overall this was a good film; it had an interesting story, the characters were believable and the unethical nature of the government's actions gave some food for thought. I'm not sure this is one I'd watch again and again and therefore I wouldn't shell out the current Amazon price of £9.99 but it is well worth a watch so rental is probably the best option.
Film only Monday was the last day of our long weekend at Butlins Skegness and as a treat for my two children we took them to the on site cinema during the afternoon to watch Toy Story 3. Although both of them have seen the previous two films a couple of times, Monsters Inc is definitely their favourite film from the Disney Pixar range. Woody, Buzz and friends are back and so is their owner Andy who is now 19 and off to college. When Woody is put in a separate box, the other toys end up in a bin bag destined for the attic but mistakenly end up with the rubbish. They climb in a box marked up for Sunnyside nursery and are greatly relieved when they find themselves surrounded by friendly toys and lots of children. Just when they think life is looking rosy again they discover a dictatorship exists within the nursery whereby every toy has a place and no-one can escape. It's up to the gang to save themselves, with Woody's help and get back to where they rightfully belong. I did enjoy this film, it was nice to see the old gang back together and although this was by no means a bad offering, I don't think it had the same amount of fun, emotion or excitement that its predecessors had. That being said, the story was interesting enough, it managed to keep my two and half year old daughter and six year old son occupied for most of the screening and I myself found it enjoyable but I didn't think it had the magic of the last two, sadly something was missing. I found it all just a bit too predictable and the lines between good and bad were very obvious from the start. The makers have previously been good at making films that appeal to both children and adults because they have hidden meaning and messages but I found this just a little too obvious. Their were quite a few laugh out loud moments and few parts that tugged at the heartstrings but I just didn't become absorbed in the story, often finding my mind wondering away from the film. As usual with films from Disney Pixar, the animation was seamless, almost to the point where you forget you are watching a cartoon. The original cast of Tom Hanks as Woody and Tim Allen as Buzz was essential in my view but a couple of big names were used for the new characters. I particularly enjoyed Ned Beatty as Lotso, the strawberry smelling bear and Michael Keaton as Barbie's boy toy Ken. I was shocked at the amount of adverts at the beginning of the film, at least 15 minutes were devoted to selling stuff which I found an inappropriate amount of time for a film aimed at youngsters. I'm not suggesting this is all down to the filmmakers but by prolonging the start of the feature, the kids get restless making me agitated which doesn't put you in a good frame of mind to begin with. Overall, this was by no means a bad film, it was enjoyable throughout. However, I didn't think it gave the same level of magical experience of numbers one and two and didn't come anywhere close to the excitement of Monsters Inc or the emotional journey of Finding Nemo and so I award it four stars because it just didn't quite achieve. This film is definitely worth a watch I'm just not sure it's worth the cinema entrance fee.
On a recent trip to Blockbusters I picked up a couple of DVDs to watch and noticed they had an offer of four new releases for four nights for £10, as it was going to cost me £7.50 to rent two I though I may as well get a couple more. After scanning the shelves I came across this one. I am a fan of most things supernatural and I have enjoyed lead actor Ethan Hawke's films in the past so decided to try Daybreakers. It set around 10 years from now where vampires rule the earth very much in the way the humans did before them. The problem is humans have become hunted to the point of near extinction and the vampires are finding that a lack of blood is having severe consequences on their society. I found the premise quite an interesting one because in most films vampires live in the shadows and never really make a mark on the human population. This films looks at the problems they have to deal with now that the have power and not everyone agrees on the best way to go about it. Ethan Hawke plays Edward Dalton a scientist trying to engineer a synthetic blood substitute. H struggles with the idea of him immortality and also disagrees with the way human blood is currently farmed. His search takes a dramatic turn when he runs into a group of humans whose lives depend on his next move. The way the world became vampires is only really touched on and it appears they are changed by just been fed from but that some kind of disease actually brought it all on. Although an in depth story would have been unnecessary, it would have been nice to know more about how the characters became undead. The first half of the film was really quite exciting and it built up the story and the characters with just the right amount of action and emotion, however the second half seemed to dwindle off a bit almost loosing focus until it gets to its end goal 10 minutes before the end which was a shame. Director Michael and Peter Spierg have created quite a believable world for the vamps to live in; they seem to have really thought out the details and there are some nice added extras that help to create the environment. I particularly liked some of the gadgets the vampires used in day light and although they weren't all totally unoriginal they fitted in very well. Hawke played the lead well enough; he managed to portray his characters thoughts and feelings without making him to over emotional and I could empathise with his struggle between doing the right thing and giving into his nature. Sam Neil played Dalton's bloodthirsty boss relatively well but I just couldn't understand certain aspects of his character. His relationship with his daughter was particularly hard to understand because the film leads you to believe one thing and then his actions did the opposite. Willem Dafoe is a welcome addition to the cast as the born again Elvis who together with his side kick Audrey (Claudia Karvan) is trying to right the wrongs of the world. At times I wasn't quite sure they would have managed to survive this long as they didn't come across as overly resourceful but never the less they added a necessary dimension to the film. Overall I found the story an interesting one, the characters easy enough to relate to although some more background would have been nice, the violence a bit gory at times and the action sometimes over the top, but all in all I enjoyed it. It may not be a film I would rush out and buy to keep forever but definitely well worth a rental.
With the summer months fast approaching I was looking through my drawers in search of a small bottle of smelly stuff to keep in my handbag for those moments when a freshen up is required. I came across a 10ml bottle of The Body Shops White Musk Eau De Toilette. I remember The Body Shop being all the rage when I was a teenager and my mates and I proudly carried around our £1 ethically made cotton bags, but since then I can't say it's a store I particularly go in even though I pass it quite often. The Body Shop was founded by human rights activist Anita Roddick in the 1970s and prides itself on giving consumers sustainable products at affordable prices. The 10ml bottle is made of clear glass and stands about 4cm high and has an opaque silver screw cap and white lettering with the product name. The top has The Body Shop logo impressed on the top which is a nice touch. The top unscrews easy enough although those of you who suffer with joints problems may find it tricky to grip such a tiny cap. The scent doesn't come bursting out as the bottle is opened but if I get closer I smell a pleasant fragrance that reminds me of dusky summer evenings. The bottle has a completely open dispenser and although I'm no expert I've found half the stuff pouring down either side of my wrist as I try dab it on. This is not only annoying because I only want a subtle scent but also a complete waste of money as the excess tend to be mopped up with a piece of kitchen roll. The smell doesn't change once applied it gives of the same musky fragrance that it did in the bottle. For the first half hour or so I noticed the fragrance and got whiffs of it every now and again. I can't say anyone commented on it which means it isn't a great scent but isn't awful either. However, I found an hour after applying this product that the scent had almost completely disappeared and I had to reapply it. Although the scent of this perfume is acceptable, it isn't great and I am disappointed at the length of time it lasts and the amount of wastage you get when applying. I would only recommend this as a quick fix to keep in your bag but not as a special occasion or everyday scent. As this is made by The Body Shop it can only be purchased at their stores or on their website and is currently £9.00 for 30ml.
Film only 28 days stars Sandra Bullock as Gwen Cummings an alcoholic journalist who is faced with either 28 days in rehab or a jail sentence after smashing up a limo whilst being drunk. Taking what she considers to be the easy option, she ends up in a centre for recovering addicts and although initially resistant to their methods, she starts to realise there might be more to life than getting drunk. The opening scene sees Gwen ruining her sister Lily's wedding day after getting in a drunken stupor, embarrassing Lily and trashing the cake. It's obvious pretty early on that alcohol is a big part of her life and although she doesn't see it as a problem, most of those around her do. The denial of her condition is fuelled by her party loving boyfriend Jasper who when visiting Gwen one day thinks it's appropriate to take her to the pub. It becomes clear very early on that if Gwen wants to change, Jasper cannot be part of her life and although Gwen realises this its still difficult for her to admit. I can't say I particularly felt for Gwen from the beginning of the film because she chose to get drunk and ruin her sisters wedding and even as the film progresses, we see flashbacks of her childhood whereby her alcohol fuelled mother is lounging around but as her sister points out it didn't turn her into a menace to society. Although I can't say I particularly warm to Gwen I have to say I did want her to succeed in building a better life for herself. Of course we get to meet quite a few of the other patients, my favourites being 17 year old Heroin addict Andrea and the over emotional German, Gerhardt. There was a love interest other than Gwen's former Boyfriend Jasper in the form of recovering sex and drug addict Eddie but I was never really sure if he was right for her. I have to say I was impressed with how the film dealt with the situation, never glamorising her life or laughing about her drunken antics. There were times that made me smile but I was never laughing at the characters problems. I think director Betty Thomas has managed to balance the humour really well because this is a sensitive subject but viewers don't want it to be all doom and gloom. Although I can't say I have a huge amount of knowledge when it comes to alcohol addiction I do feel the film tried to portray a more realistic situation. I find many films and programmes that deal with this subject matter get through the whole thing too quickly, coming out the other side in a matter of weeks and feeling no after effects or cravings which just can't be true. After her release from Rehab Gwen found her life perhaps even more challenging because the treatment is just the beginning the hardest part is going back to your life and I think it addressed this really well. I think Sandra Bullock did a great job at giving Gwen just the right amount of courage and hope without making her unrealistic. I'm used to seeing her in easy going RomComs so was surprised to see her taking on a more challenging role but she did so with grace and a great amount of subtlety. Steve Buscemi has a small but important role as a councillor at the centre; it doesn't seem to matter which film I see him in I seem to like the character he portrays and this was no exception. Andrea was portrayed beautifully by Azura Skye whose thoughtful and elegant performance was lovely to watch. I have to admit that before I saw this I was expecting something quite light-hearted and fun and although this is by no means heavy it cleverly made an important subject watchable. The film was never preachy and although at times a tad clichéd this was probably inevitable when dealing with this kind of subject. Overall, I was impressed with 28 days; it was easy to watch but still dealt with important issues and the actors all seemed to work together to make their characters believable. This is currently available from Amazon for £2.99 with free delivery and is a 15 certificate.
Film only Released in 2001, The Wedding Planner is as easy going as Romantic Comedies come. Jennifer Lopez stars as wedding planner Mary Fiore, a woman who can't seem to get a good work life balance. When the wedding of a lifetime comes along, Mary gets the opportunity to become a director if it all goes off without a hitch. Personally however things aren't so great until she is saved from on oncoming dumpster by handsome doctor Steve Edison. They share a wonderful evening and Mary believes he may be the one until she discovers he is the groom for her upcoming big event. Film choreographer Adam Shankman changes his role to become director for this film. Although I can't say there is anything groundbreaking to see, he has brought the usual RomCom formula together well and provided viewers with a pleasant enough experience. The plot basically revolves around an unlucky in love girl who meets a boy that she can't have and how it all turns out. This may follow the same principles as many other films in the genre but it is actually quite entertaining and does have its funny moments. Mary may be a bit of a control freak but she is likable enough, its easy to sympathise with her situation even if she does bring a little of it on herself. Her father is trying to set her up with childhood friend Maximo but she doesn't believe in arranged marriages which brings about some funny moments and light hearted laughs. On paper Steve seems to be a bit of a jerk and because of his upcoming nuptials he shouldn't really have lead Mary along but in his defence nothing actually happened and as far as he's concerned it was just a couple of people enjoying each others company. As the film progresses it becomes clear that perhaps he isn't as happy with Fran as he should be and maybe there's hope for happiness with Mary. The film moves along at a reasonable pace, giving enough time to get to know the characters without dragging its feet and enduring it brings about a climatic half hour that actually gets quite exciting. The ending isn't particularly surprising but it is good, incorporating a will they won't they chase scene that makes you will all parties involved to succeed. I have to say I though the ending was the best part of the film because by then you are invested in the outcome because you want all the characters to end up satisfied. There are quite a few memorable scenes; a couple of my favourites being included Maximo bombing down the road on his moped and another that sees Mary holding a statues penis in her hand. The whole film seems to have loads of these great moments that its only when looking back you see how many good bits there were. Although there is plenty of comedy there is also plenty of romance too. For all of you who enjoy fluttering hearts the scene where Mary and Steve dance in the park is lovely and the macaroni cheese dinner she shares with Maximo is just heart warming. This is a PG certificate and although not suitable for young children because they wouldn't really understand what's going on, there is nothing unsuitable such as swearing, sex or violence to be worried about. I find Jenifer Lopez quite hit and miss especially when it comes to these types of roles. Her biggest challenge for me is whether she endears me to her characters or makes me jealous and therefore dislike her character. I therefore enjoyed her here because she made Mary not only kind and caring but also believable. I know these films are a bit far fetched in their outcomes but most girls want to think that their true love will find them one day. Matthew McConaughey is good as leading man Steve Edison, a guy whose actions are questionable but who does the right things in the end. Despite his shortcomings I still rooted for him to be happy and therefore think McConaughey brought out the favourable personality traits of his character. A quick mention must also go to Alex Rocco who plays Marys matchmaker father Rocco; he comes across as strong and independent whilst still being vulnerable making him a perfect RomCom father. Justin Chambers did a great job playing Maximo, he brought life into the film with his odd ways and I really enjoyed his performance. Overall this is a feel good film that won't break down any barriers but is perfectly enjoyable. The story isn't particularly original but there is plenty of love and laughs for most to have a good time. The DVD is currently available from Amazon for £4.00 with free super saver delivery.
This review is for the chocolate and hazelnut variety of the Brunch Bar. In my quest to be healthier I have swapped my usual morning chocolate bar or biscuit for a cereal bar. I generally find these products quite expensive so buy them when on offer or at a reduced rate. Whilst browsing in my local Home Bargains store I found a box of 6 Cadburys Brunch bars for £1.09. The box is pretty standard as these things go with a slotted top that opens in the middle. You are supposed to be able to slot your fingers between the two and be left with a resealable edge but I always end up ripping the cardboard and this packet was no exception. As the product inside is individually wrapped it isn't really an issue unless you want to hang the box up side down for storage. The box has all the usual with the Cadburys name, variety and information. It is quite appealing with a picture of a bar half covered in chocolate and some pictures of oats and nuts. This bar promises to be better for you without compromising n taste. The bars themselves are foil wrapped so great for popping in your bag as a snack whilst you're out. They also look great with a picture of the bar, the name and a lovely cream background. The nutritional information and ingredients are also listed which isn't always the case with multipacks products. The end of the packet has a serrated edge that pulls down and immediately wafts the milk chocolate smell in your face. The bar itself looks fairly nice; it is packed with oats and rice and then the bottom half is covered in milk chocolate. The texture is firm but easy to chew and the initial taste it of hazelnut, these must be fairly small pieces as they aren't visible. The oats and rice don't seem to add anything to the taste and appear to be there to add substance. There seems to be a pleasant sweet taste with a sort of syrupy consistency and then the smooth chocolate comes through after each bite. I do find some cereal bars have me reaching for a drink in between mouthfuls as they can be quite stodgy and dry but this isn't the case here; by the end of the bar I haven't even reached for my drink, the delicious taste alongside the texture doesn't dry you out at all. Overall I am really impressed with these; they are tasty, satisfying and give a pleasant sensation in your mouth. At just over 20pence per bar these work out half the price of a chocolate bar and being just as tasty. Nutritional Information per 35g bar: Energy 680kj / 160kcal Protein 2.5g Carbohydrate 21.2g (Of which sugars) 12.6g Fat 7.5g (Of which saturates) 2.9 Fibre 0.8g Sodium 0.1g This product may contain sesame seeds and traces of peanut and egg. It is suitable for vegetarians.
Film only Julia Roberts secured her place in RomCom history in 1990 when her prostitute character fell for a smart businessman in Pretty Woman. Although there's been the odd exception, she hasn't strayed far from what made her successful and 1999 film Runaway Bride reunites her with her co-star of her most famous movie Richard Gere and director Garry Marshall. When New York journalist Ike Graham gets sacked after writing a story about a bride who has jilted three potential husbands at the alter that wasn't entirely truthful, he goes in search of runaway bride Maggie Carpenter in order to write a fact based report on why she can't make it down the aisle and to see if it'll be fourth time lucky with fiancée Bob. The story is a little far fetched because it's quite unbelievable that she would agree to go forward with another wedding after three failed attempts. I did think Maggie was likable enough despite her bad history with weddings though. After Ikes first visit she does seem a little resentful of him invading her privacy and he annoys her even more because he gets on with all her family and friends. There are some quite funny scenes; I especially liked the ones with Maggie and her ex-fiancés. Maggie tries to warn them that a journalist will be poking about only to find Ike already there talking freely with her exes. Although what she has done to them isn't nice, she hasn't done it maliciously and she didn't mean to hurt their feelings. Its obvious at first that Ike is only there to get the dirt on Maggie in order to clear his name but as there relationship progresses, they realise they have feelings for one another and despite their best efforts they can't seem to stay away. As with a lot of films in this genre, the story takes a predictable turn and has a happy ending but the journey itself is enjoyable enough and although there are no twists and turns along the way I found this a pleasant enough experience. I just felt something was missing; it had the right ingredients to be great but just didn't seem to get it quite right. I do think director Marshall has tried to hard here to recreate the formula that made Pretty Woman so successful but by doing so has sort of forgotten to make it plausible. Pretty Woman was a great film but just because you bring together the same director and actors doesn't mean it will be a success, especially if the script isn't up to scratch. The quaint town Maggie lives in is very suitable for this type of film; it's typical of what you imagine a small American community to be where everyone knows everyone and they all get along. The only problem is that Maggie's previous fiancées all still live in the area and I think the town would realistically have turned against her, not embraced her for hurting so many of the eligible young men. Julia Roberts exerts her encapsulating smile several times in this film and reminds us why she is one of the hottest RomCom actresses around. She seems to have a natural ability to make her characters likable regardless of their shortcomings and is always natural on screen, making her easy to watch. Richard Gere is a little stiff at times and although his character was only trying to clear his name I didn't think Gere succeeded in making him half as likable as Maggie. He was attractive enough to play opposite her but I just didn't believe his emotional attachment to Maggie, making their supposed feelings somewhat hard to accept. My favourite character was Maggie's best friend Peggy played by Joan Cusack; she really added a cynical sense of humour that definitely managed to lighten the mood and ensure the film didn't fall totally flat. Runaway Bride is certainly not one of Julia Roberts's best films; her character was somewhat unbelievable, her leading man was quite boring and the script a bit too predictable even for this kind of thing. It's worth a watch on the telly but I wouldn't waste money buying the DVD. If you do feel you'd like to buy this it is currently available on Amazon for £2.99 with free delivery and is a certificate 12.