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Firstly I'll start by saying how much I love Professor Layton. I have played all the games and I have loved them all. Is this game as good as the others? Overall I would have to say yes, although the format is maybe starting to get a little tired 4 games on.
The story for this Professor Layton is set before all the other games (not confusing at all!) It follows Layton as he befriends his companion we have all come to know and love Luke. We are also introduced to his new assistant Emmy as the travel to the town of Misthallery. The town is plagued by a mystical spectre who appears and destroys various parts of the town. Of course Layton is on hand to solve the mystery, with your help of course.
The play of this game is much like the others. You work your way around town and discover various puzzles, some of which will be given by people just by talking to them and others will be hidden. Hidden puzzles are something I have always found annoying as personally I cant find a logic to them so I just tap the stylus all around the screen looking for them. As you make your way around the town you also discover hint coins. These can then be used to unlock up to four hints on any puzzle you are stuck on. These can sometimes be really helpful and are just what you need to solve that tricky puzzle. Other times they can just be so irritatingly unhelpful!
The game has over 170 puzzles to solve and I am yet to finish them all and have played it for around 14 hours so the longevity of the game is great. You are also able to download puzzles as part of the bonuses of the game, these are available on a weekly basis and help keep you interested in the game for longer. Puzzles include maze games, mathematical puzzles and good old logic puzzles.
My gripes with this game are the same as they have been with the others in the series. The writing is still too small so my gran is still never going to be able to play it. I also think although the game is a 7+ (for violence and fear) it would frustrate children who are too young as some of the puzzles can be very challenging.
Overall I do love a bit of Layton but I am hoping that the introduction of Layton to the 3DS world may bring something a bit more interesting as he is starting to tire after four games. I would recommend this game but I would probably wait until you can find it for £20.00 or less.
For ages I've been wondering about dry shampoos. Its one of those things you think 'yeah right! How's that going to work?' However, I can often be a bit lazy when it comes to washing my hair and due to all the great reviews it's got I decided to try Batiste dry shampoo.
I chose the tropical variety of Batiste as we're hopefully coming in to the warmer months and I fancied buying something to remind me of the summer months. It comes in a bright yellow can with a green lid. I paid £2.35 for a 150ml can in Boots.
Using the dry shampoo is really easy. You just shake the can well, spray it on your hair and then use your fingers to 'massage' it in to your hair and brush it out. The smell when you spray it on isn't overly nice but isn't disgusting either. It's a weird sickly sweet coconut smell with a hint of melon. Yes the smell is tropical but it's some weird, cheap smelling idea of tropical! Not the holiday/summer experience I was expecting
So does it work? Well yes and no. At the moment I tend to wash my hair every other day. I know it's not good for it but without it I find my hair just gets too greasy. I was therefore hoping that this dry shampoo would allow me to go an extra day, maybe even two (for when I'm feeling extra lazy) without washing my hair. Batiste definitely works to remove some of the grease from your hair. It's weird because it takes hair that's a greasy and lank and turns it in to something that's soft and shiny. It's definitely impressive. However, it's by no means a miracle cure and doesn't really substitute for actually washing your hair. For some reason when I use it I feel dirty like I have just masked the grease and grime in my hair (like missing a shower and trying to mask that fact with deodorant and perfume) and I haven't actually gotten rid of it. Yes, to the outside world my hair looks nice but I know its not! Therefore for me it's only something to be used once in a while when I'm in a rush, I want to be kind to my hair or I'm feeling lazy and I don't think I'll use it for more than one day in a row unless I'm camping.
This does seem to work but this particular one is only recommended if you love the smell of a sweet and sickly summer, so it's probably best to stick to the other Batiste dry shampoos. Definitely recommended if you like to be lazy once in a while and put off washing your hair or if you're planning on going camping/ to festivals where you wont get chance to have a proper shower. A must have for your bathroom just not in the tropical version!
A couple of nights ago I sat down to watch frozen. It's a film that I have been wanting to see for a while but didn't want to spend a lot of money on it as I had a funny feeling it would be rubbish as its one of those film that seemed to get lots of hype (people fainting and walking out when it was shown in the cinemas) which often means they turn out to be pants.
Frozen follows friends Dan and Joe who have gone on their regular snow boarding day trip. However, this weekend there's one difference. Dan had brought along his girlfriend Parker, who isn't the greatest snowboarder. There are goods aspects to bringing her along as she manages to get the guys on to the ski lift without paying for 'normal' tickets. However, not being very good means that the guys don't get to leave the 'baby' slopes and just as the evening begins to draw in they decide that their last run should be down a bigger and better slope. Unfortunately the lift is closed due to some bad weather moving in and there's more or less no one left on the slopes. Parker manages to get them on the ski lift but after getting on the lift there's a problem and the guy who let them on the lift switches with someone else. There of course is then a mix up and the new chair lift operator shuts down the chair lift after thinking everyone's off the slope. The three friends are stuck on the chair lift and they soon realise that no one is coming for them and in fact no one will be back for five days. How will they survive the freezing temperatures? Will they ever manage to get down the mountain?
The front of the box states that the film is 'terrifying! Will do for skiing what 'jaws' did for swimming.' I think it would be fair enough to completely disagree with this statement. There were two things that this film did for me the first was making me feel cold as I was watching snow (pathetic I know!). The second was a little bit sick due to the gore in the film, although there's not lots when it was on it was enough to make me look away. Even the frostbite was gross. However, that was the only thing remotely horror like about the film. Yes, the idea behind the film is quite scary but at the end of the day there's only so much you can do with three people sat in a chair lift. Though I will give the film credit in the fact that I didn't give up on it because I really wanted to know what happened at the end and the fact I managed to do that means that the film cant be the worst in the world.
The run time of the film is quite short at 89 minutes and I felt a lot of the film was setting the scene and although it wasn't necessarily overly boring I was just wondering when the horror would start. When the film started I recognised the two male leads straight away Kevin Zegers (Damien from gossip girl) and Shawn Ashmore (Iceman from the Xmen films).Unfortunately it didn't over fill me with confidence for the acting in the film, though I must admit in the end the acting wasn't too bad. The music in the film helps create tension but isn't paticularly note worthy.
There are a couple of extras on the DVD but I didn't care enough about the film to bother watching them. The film is rated a 15 for 'strong language, horror and grisly images.'
Would I recommend this film? Not really but its probably one to watch when it's on tv (which I think wont be too far away!) but only if there's nothing better on... It's not even worth the low price of £4.49 on Amazon. However there are people who seem to love this film and find it scary with people on Amazon giving it 5 stars so maybe this will be you if your one for fainting in the cinema at these kind of films?
For ages I have been wanting to try imperial leather foam burst but the price tag attached to it and the fact I was unsure if it would even be any good was putting me off. I tend to only buy my shower gels when they are on offer and unfortunately until recently I hadn't seen foam burst on offer in my usual shops.
Foam burst comes in an aluminium can, much like cans of shaving foam. All the foam burst cans are colourful and 'sunrise' is no exception in a bright yellow colour. Foam burst can be found in most shops selling shower gels but at a normal price of around £2.50 to £3.00 it's not exactly cheap. However, I managed to pick mine up for half price which was a bit of a bargain!
Foam burst sunrise contains mandarin, lemon balm and ylang ylang which is meant to 'leave you feeling energised and full of life'. Imperial leather describe foam burst as the 'ultimate shower experience' and your meant to be able to get 40 showers out of a can which is quite impressive since shower gels can often run out quite quickly.
When I went to use foam burst for the first time I must admit I was a bit shocked but I don't know why because at the same time I didn't really know what I was expecting. The top of the can has button you press down and the gel comes out. You really don't need much as a little goes a long way. The gel itself is orange in colour and smells very orangey. When it comes in contact with water the gel turns in to a really thick and rich foam. Unfortunately the only smell that comes through when using sunrise foam burst is the mandarin, it would be nice if there was more lemon in there. I found that foam burst didn't dry out my skin and was impressed that in my rust prone bathroom the can is still going strong after a couple of weeks.
Overall I would recommend foam burst sunrise. It smells nice and lasts a long time. I can't wait to try some of the other varieties available. However, I would probably only buy it again if it was on offer.
A few weeks ago I was looking for a new xbox game to play. My other half has found a new obsession with the pc so I needed to find something to amuse myself. For ages I have wondered about what assassins creed would be like and with it being the bargain price of ten pounds on amazon I decided to treat myself.
The game follows Desmond who has been kidnapped by a corporation who want to use his memories. The memories they want are of course not just any memories but those of his ancestors, who just happen to be assassins. To gain access to his memories they force Desmond to use a machine called the animus.
Once in the animus Desmond becomes his ancestor altair. This is who you will spend most of your game playing. You follow how him through several different assassination scenarios as the corporation store what's happening. Will Desmond ever understand what's going on and will you be able to help him escape?
I was actually fairly surprised at how easy the controls for assassins creed were to master. At first the controls seemed a little complicated. For example when switching between high and low profile actions you need to hold in the right trigger and each button does something entirely different. At the beginning of the game you may just want to lightly push someone away and end up punching them and starting a fight. The controls do take some used to. However the game gives you lots of chance to practice and also gives you on screen hints, this includes a small diagram in the top corner which shows you what each button on the controller does and whether your in high or low profile. The large hints I actually felt started to get a little annoying after awhile but other people may find it useful.
I'm not normally the biggest fan of third person games. I find that the camera angels are never quite right and I just get annoyed that I can't see what I want to. However I was quite impressed with assassins creed there was very little to fault when it came to the camera work.
The gameplay although unique is just too repetitive. The gameplay pretty much boils down to evesdrop/pickpocket, climb a building to find info on an assassination target you have been assigned, report to someone and repeat repeat repeat in just a couple of different cities. However, although the game is repetitive I found that if I left the game alone for a couple of days and came back to it I found it a lot more enjoyable again. There is just something about the game that keeps you coming back for more.
Unfortunately for me although the game does look good and exploring the cities is fun I found even these to be repetitive. I'm not sure if this is really the case but the cities felt as if they had a really similar layout with just the style of the city being changed.
It is the look of assassins creed that really makes the game. For example when you climb some buildings you get the chance to do a leap of faith and jump off the high buildings in to hay stacks below. The way its been done and the way the cities look quite real meant that every time I did this jump my stomach would turn. It's really weird that a game can do this to me when probably watching it for real wouldn't have anywhere near the same effect (unless I was the one actually doing it!!)
Assassins creed is by no means the great game it was made out to be and if you are a more serious gamer in to the likes of battlefield and call of duty then this is probably not the game for you. However, all in all it is an enjoyable game to play and the graphics are really good for an older xbox game. Personally I saw the potential in the series and have already started playing assassins creed 2. Definitely one to add to your xbox collection.
I never wanted an ipod. I never really liked Apple. For years I have stuck by my belief that my life is better off without an ipod. I mean who needs such an overpriced, fashionable mp3 player?
The simple answer to that question is: I DO!
As you may have already guessed I have never shown any interest in the traditional ipods. I remember friends having them and thinking wouldn't it be cool to have a purple/pink/green mp3 player but I was never swayed because I also remember my friend telling me that they were one of the most returned purchases to Argos because of faults and other various issues. I mean who wants to spend all that money on something for it to break?
Then came the ipod touch with all its shiny advertising and my interest began to grow. However, it wasn't until I actually got to try out a simple addictive game that I got that niggling feeling at the back of my brain. I wanted one. I managed to squash this to the back of my brain until last year mum asked me what I wanted for Christmas and after a lot of thought (and I really do mean a lot) I settled on getting the new 4th generation ipod touch.
The ipod touch does look a little bit sexy and that's because it's so simple. Although there's a lot on the inside the outside really is quite simple. The front is made up of the screen with one button at the bottom and the back is silver with the apple logo on it. The 4th gen touch is also very skinny (see dimensions below taken from the apple website)
111.0 mm (4.4 inches)
58.9 mm (2.3 inches)
7.2 mm (0.28 inches)
Now I can't emphasise enough the importance of looking after these looks. For obvious reasons you need to protect the screen from scratches etc. so make sure you buy a screen protector. I was more than prepared for this aspect. What I wasn't prepared for is how easily the silver back gets scratched from really simple things. After having the touch about a couple of days the back was full of tiny scratches so I rushed out to buy a case to protect the back. This to be fair does annoy me as although protectors are great they do add to the size of the product which in my opinion is never a good thing on something that's meant to be small and portable.
The ipod touch is so simple to use that I think I could probably teach my Gran to use it. There are only four buttons. An on/off button, which I tend not to use. Volume up and Volume down buttons (I won't explain what they do!).Then there's the Home button. This is basically a 'back' button to take you to the main screens when in an app. Everything else is done via the touch screen, which is why its so simple.
Some people with big hands may have issues with the touch screen keyboard. It's not very big and although my hands are fairly small I do still have issues hitting the wrong key. This can be quite frustrating if you're typing in a web address and you've already clicked go before you've realised your mistake.
My own experience
When it came to opening my touch on Christmas day it was a little like being a kid again. I was so excited I installed itunes on to my computer and spent all day downloading and playing on various apps. Aps are something that you will find your own rhythm with and you'll soon realise what's worth downloading and what's not really worth your time. There are plenty of apps out there good for a laugh for a few minutes but not something you'll want on your touch forever. As they say there really is an app for everything - but that app isn't necessarily free with prices ranging from 50p to £40.00. Most apps do cost less than £2.00 though.
It is the apps that really add to the ipod touch and sets it out from being just another mp3 player. This is great for me but if you are intending to buy a touch for a child then you may find yourself with some issues. A lot of apps are free but of course they need to make their money somewhere. This comes from in app purchases. Things like coins etc. to enhance your app experience can cost real money. If you don't set up your settings properly you may find yourself landed with a hefty bill. Also many apps do need an internet connection so if you have a usage limit then you'll need to keep your eye on that.
Listening to music on the touch is fine. The music is organised in a way which makes it easy to navigate and find what you're looking for. Using the speakers on the touch to listen to music out loud isn't great but I have no problems with the sound through the headphones. At the moment I am just using the basic headphones which came with the touch and I am wondering whether or not it would be worth investing in some better headphones to help make the sound quality even better.
The screen on the touch is amazing. It's a hd screen and it just looks so sharp for something that's that size. The screen is so good that it does make watching videos a treat and with many films now available on dvd/blu-ray with a digital copy that you can transfer on to your touch which helps make it a perfect accompaniment for long journeys.
This touch does have a camera in it. Admittedly it's not the best camera in the world and is more of a step backwards than forwards compared to what mobiles can have inside them at the moment. This isn't something that really bothers me as I don't tend to take a lot of photos on phones etc. Apparently you can also take hd films with the touch as well but I am yet to try it.
Now I have had one issue with my touch. A couple of weeks ago I changed internet providers and got a new wireless router from them. After the change over happened I begun having issues with the touches battery life. It would be fully charged when I went to bed but by the morning the battery would be completely dead. I did begin to think I had been stupid for buying such an expensive item which I knew weren't always known for their reliability. However, after a couple of day when I put two and two together I realised that somehow it was the internet draining the battery life. After a quick Google I found out that I was not alone with the issues I was having and the problem was all down to apps continually searching and connecting to the internet. I was in a bit of a dilemma, I use the touch connected to the internet a lot so didn't want to have to keep turning the wireless on and off and putting in a password every time. However a touch that couldn't even mange to last on standby overnight wasn't much good to me. I found that one of the worst offenders was the app facetime. It's something preloaded on to the touch and not something I really have any intention of using. I turned off everything linked to facetime and all of a sudden the battery life of my touch returned to normal.
The battery of the touch is normally fairly good but it's difficult to judge how long it will last. Apple do say up to 40 hours of listening to music and 7 hours of video but I rarely listen to music without playing on an app or searching the internet so I tend not to get that sort of life out of the battery. Charging the battery is quite quick with a couple of hours giving full charge. However, the thing to watch out with the touch is the battery indicator whilst charging. The battery can be dead and then half an hour in to charging the battery indicator says the touches battery is nearly fully charged, which you find out is a complete lie when you come to use it. You can get apps which give you a better indicator of battery life but why apple cant manage to get it right in the first place is beyond me.
My other half doesn't understand why I'm not bored with my touch yet he finds all the apps etc silly when he can just play on his Xbox. It's very often in my hand, like I can't put it down, which does annoy him I think. However, its one of the things I love about the touch that it's so easy to pick up and Google that person you recognise in the film you're watching or just open up an app when you're feeling bored. It can really keep you amused for hours.
Price and availability
The ipod touch can be found through most retailers selling electronic goods and they are definitely worth shopping around for as although you probably wont find a great difference in price you may be able to find a couple of deals. For example I bought mine from Tesco with a free £25 itunes voucher.
If you want a 32g ipod touch 4th generation than at the moment you can expect to pay around £230. You can pay less to get an ipod with less memory but I would probably say if you want a fair few apps, songs and videos on your touch then you could really do with getting the 32g. I have around 70 albums, 30 apps and a few videos and my memory is over half full.
Overall I would recommend an ipod touch. Yes they are expensive but they really are worth the money.
Techincal specifications for the touch can be found on the apple website.
After being a huge fan of Fallout 3, I highly anticipated the release of Fallout New Vegas (it was rated the number 1 most wanted game of 2010). For me Fallout 3 was one of the best games released on the 360 and waiting nearly two years for the release of New Vegas was a long slog.
The story for the game although strange and takes a little while to get in to is a bit better than that of the previous game. You play a courier who is shot by a mysterious person. Pulled out of your grave and saved from death your quest is to find out who did this to you and why. As you explore the Mojave wasteland (made up of the Mojave desert, Vegas and Nevada) you come across people to help and quests to complete which are completely unrelated to your aim but make the game vast. During your exploration you learn of the two gangs who have been fighting over the land: the legion and the NCR. During your game you get the chance to meet and help or hinder their chance of Mojave domination.
Fallout New Vegas although not necessarily better is definitely bigger than Fallout 3. There are a lot more quests to complete and I think the game play has actually become more difficult. The game has lots of aspects to keep you on your toes. Far from just roaming round and killing enemies in the wasteland you get to make groups of people in the wasteland love or hate you. You gain and loose karma and you can enhance various skills as you level up. I have managed to complete the game but have by no means completed all the quests and this has taken me roughly thirty hours or so to do. This in a way does make the game worthwhile when you think there are games out there that can be completed in a matter of hours.
I'm not the greatest gamer in the world (nor do I claim to be!) and found I had to turn the game play to easy so that I wasn't regularly dying. However, I feel that this was not just down to myself not being the greatest gamer in the world. Fallout has a unique way of shooting called VATS. This is basically a way of pausing the game mid combat and selecting different parts of a foes body to shoot. This was a great and unique feature in Fallout and enhanced the game play experience. However, in New Vegas this is almost the only way to successfully kill an enemy. Without using VATS it becomes too difficult to actually shoot anything, you can be aiming right and just not hit your target which is really frustrating. I want to just say at this point if you have managed to complete this game in hardcore mode a big high five to you because it must be near enough impossible.
The worst aspect for this game was the loading times. After playing the game for a few hours I began to get more and more frustrated with the amount of loading screens you see in the game. For example you can fast travel to a location (waiting a couple of minutes for that to load which is fair enough) to then arrive somewhere to open a gate which requires another couple of minutes to load. To then go in to a building, waiting for a another couple of minutes to then explore the building and wait for the game to load each time you go to a different level in the building. I found the loading times to be completely unacceptable and it made me really frustrated with the game, especially when you're doing a really simple and short quest, where the time spent doing what you need to do is actually shorter than the loading times. (To be fair this could be helped in the future with the ability to download games etc on to the hard drive.)
The game is also so full of glitches you do end up wondering if the game was even played before it was released. Some of the glitches are minor and slightly amusing such as items/enemies getting stuck in weird and wonderful places. However, some are really annoying. For example whenever I went to Hoover Dam there was always a problem with the game being slow and jittery and as I progressed through the game this eventually got worse and worse to the point where the game kept crashing and I kept having to repeat the same aspects of the game over and over. I know there will be people who love this game saying well there are autosaves and you could save it more often. For me thats not the point. I shouldnt be playing a game constantly living in fear that it will crash and I will loose an hours worth of gameplay.
With the likes of games such as Red Dead Redemption (another vast game exploring the Wild West) I was hoping for a pretty immersive and impressive looking game. I'm sorry to say I was highly disappointed. Although New Vegas looks a little brighter and cheerier than its predecessor with the likes of blue skies and some vegetation the game just hasn't changed enough. This game just looks and feels like an add on to Fallout 3. It is completely beyond me that in two years they haven't been bothered to improve the look of the game. Characters don't blend and interact with the environment properly and all in all the game just looks rough around the edges.
I really wanted New Vegas to be a great game. Maybe I was expecting too much but this game is just stuck back in 2008 which is no good with how games are trying to advance. Although the Mojave wasteland is expansive and the game play vast there are just too many bugs and glitches. I really wish I hadn't wasted £40.00 of my hard earned cash on this game. When they bring down the price and bring out some sort of update to sort the game out it may be worthwhile buying. Until then I suggest you either wait or if you haven't played Fallout 3 buy that instead. Unfortunately I won't be anticipating the release of the next Fallout. I'm sorry New Vegas but this gets a thumbs down from me!
A few weeks ago I was having some major issues. I was sneezing constantly, my eyes were itchy and watery and I was blowing my nose...a lot. However, this was only occurring at home particularly in the mornings. By the time I got to work I'd feel much better. It may sound stupid but it took me awhile to realise that it was Merlin that was causing my problems as I begun to realise how much hair he was loosing from his coat on a daily basis. A major clean of the house confirmed my suspicions as some of his favourite hiding places (like under the bed) were covered in hair.
I brush Merlin on a regular basis. He can regularly fill a normal grooming brush up with all his hair in one go. It's great because it means getting rid of his excess hair and he loves it. However, this was obviously not doing a good enough job and I decided to invest in a Furminator as they claim to remove loose and dead undercoat without damaging the top coat therefore reducing shedding by up to 90%.
I purchased my Furminator from Amazon for around £10.00. However, when I first looked to buy one from the site it cost around £20.00 so it's a good idea to shop around or wait to see if it lowers in price.
You can buy different types of Furminators depending on if your buying for a large dog or cat etc. You can even purchase ones for horses! My particular Furminator is purple with a black handle; the comb itself is silver and comes with a plastic cover on it to protect yourself (as the bristles are quite sharp) and the comb.
If you have an agreeable pet who likes being groomed then using the Furminator is very easy. The Furminator is quite heavy compared to other combs/brushes. However, the handle is quite thick with a bumpy texture which makes gripping the handle easy. Long downward strokes are simple to do so all in all using it for me was great. Though what about Merlin?
The first time I used the Furminator Merlin was very cautious with it and he really didn't seem to know whether to trust it or not. However, after more use he really loves it. Though possibly not as much as his normal brush. The amount of hair that's removed doesn't seem to bother him at all even though when using it I find it tugs a little which worries me it might be hurtining him. However, if it was I'm sure I'd be the first to know about it!
I think the only problem with the Furminator is the fact that it's a comb and so doesn't collect the hair. This makes using the Furminator quite messy with fur quite literally flying everywhere and for me having a possible allergy it can make life a lot worse. However, if you make sure you use it just before hovering or on a surface which can easily be cleaned up then its fine.
I would definitely recommend the Furminator especially if you can find it cheaper than £20.00. The amount of fur it removes is amazing and it's really helped in my house to stop my sniffles and stop everything getting covered in cat hair! However, if you have a pet that hates being groomed the chances are that they will hate this even more.
I picked up a bottle of Radox shower smoothies tropical tranquillity a couple of weeks ago after finding it on offer in Tesco.
The tropical tranquillity smoothie comes in a clear plastic bottle (with the lid at the bottom). On the front there is a picture of coconuts and almonds splashing in to a creamy liquid. The bottle describes it as 'a beach holiday in a bottle' as its 'sunshine for body and mind' and full of natural ingredients (not sure of that when you read the ingredients on the back of the bottle). I managed to pick up my bottle for half price which I thought was a fairly reasonable price. However, the full price is £2.50 which I think is a little expensive for a 200ml shower gel.
Radox shower smoothies are not to be eaten (it does say it on the packet!) and as the tv advert says its meant to be 'rubbed on your bum cheeks'. The smell of the shower smoothie is really nice smelling very tropical with a mix of coconuts and almonds. The shower smoothie is a very thick consistency which makes you think a little would go a long way. However, I have found this shower gel to have been used up quicker than any other in my household. The liquid itself is a weird texture as it has bits of coconut in it. These pieces are noticeable enough when using the shower gel but they are not big enough to make the shower smoothie a scrub.
In one way I really like this shower gel. It smells amazing - just like holidays, it's thick and creamy and it doesn't dry out your skin. However, the strange texture and the fact it doesn't last very long means it works out to be quite an expensive shower gel.
Probably worth trying if you can find it on offer but at full price it's just too expensive as it will disappear off your bath side too quickly.
After coming back from my holiday to a house that had been empty for a week. I realised something that I hadn't realised since I had moved in to the house at the beginning of the year. That realisation is that my house smells strange. I couldn't tell you why, its not that my house smells particularly unpleasant it just doesn't smell right probably due to old carpets and the like.
I have never been a huge fan of air fresheners but since moving in to older houses and owning a cat I do think they can work well to make your home smell nice. I already own a couple of plug in air fresheners and was looking to add to my collection so that each room could have its own air freshener. I wanted something a bit different which preferably didn't plug in to the wall (for some reason I worry about how much making my room smell nice will cost!). I came across glade sense and spray in my local Boots/Savers type shop. I picked it up on offer for around £4.00 which I thought was quite a reasonable price.
Glade sense and spray is a motion activated air freshener that runs off batteries. The starter kit which I purchased comes with the sense and spray unit, batteries and a small aerosol type can which contains the fragrance. On first use getting the air freshner to work is fairly simple, after lifting up the front of the unit and pulling the little tab on the battery compartment you just need to place the fragrance tube in to the base unit. After replacing the front of the unit you will notice that a light has come on which indicates that the unit is working.
I decided to place my Glad Sense and Spray on a table in the sitting room which was near the kitchen door. I thought this would be a good idea to conceal any nasty smells that come from the kitchen but also help the sitting room smell nice. This was a bad choice on my part! The unit itself is actually pretty annoying and I would advise if you were going to buy one of these its best to place them in a hallway or a room you don't accommodate too regularly. This is because when the motion sensor picks up the movement the unit quite literally whirs in to life to make the fragrance puff out of the top and then whirs back down in to lock out mode. This lock out mode is actually quite useful as it stops the unit from constantly going off evrytime you move. After spraying the room the unit locks itself for twenty minutes. You can tell the unit is locked as the light on the front remains constant. However, after twenty minutes the light will start to flash letting you know its ready to detect movement again and spray. This in itself is really annoying as you always manage to catch it flashing out of the corner of your eye!
In terms of longevity I don't think this air freshener lives up to much. I think that maintaining air fresheners can be quite costly and so fresheners with gauges and the like to adjust the amount of fragrance used is very handy. The Glade Sense and Spray does not have this feature and so it uses what it uses. The refills are meant to last for 270 sprays in 'normal conditions' which should last you thirty days. Although I placed my freshener in a fairly prime position in terms of movement I would still consider the amount it was walked past etc. normal. I found that the fragrance lasted for a maximum of three weeks, which is pretty poor and in the long term with all the refills it will be expensive.
The one thing I have liked with this unit is the fragrances I have used in it so far. I tend to like quite sweet smells and have so far used vanilla and spiced apple. Both of which smell really nice and have done well to make the room smell lovely.
Other fragrances for the Sense and Spray include:
Lavender and vanilla
However, what you will be able to buy will depend on the store you visit. Where I bought my starter kit from tends to have older fragrances (like spiced apple which was presumably released for last Chirstmas) but shops such as Tescos tend to have the newer ones. Prices also vary for the refills with prices ranging from £2.00 to £4.00 which is very similar to the cost of other air freshner refills out there. However, as always its best to look out for refills when on offer.
All in all I half like this unit, the idea behind it is a good one but I wouldn't recommend it for anywhere but your hallway and even then I would only recommend you put it somewhere out of the way as its likely to scare the hell out of you if you need to walk past it in the middle of the night to go to the loo!
Just a note before I start that this is a review about a feminine product and there may be the odd thing in this review that some may not want to read about!
I have always noticed that femfresh products have been available but for some reason have never tried them, thinking that it was a bit of a gimmick and a waste of money. However, recently I was sent some full sized products to test and in all honesty I was completely surprised at how good they were. This is a review of the femfresh wipes
The femfresh wipes come in either a pack of twenty wipes (similar in package to baby wipes/ make up wipes) which is handy for keeping at home, or they are available in a pack of sixteen individual wipes which are great for when you're out and about. The individual wipes come in a small box which inside has eight pairs of individually wrapped wipes. You can separate the pairs but I tend to just shove two in my handbag as you never know! The wrapping on the individual wipes is very discrete and if they were to fall out of your handbag most people would probably presume they were a normal wet wipe. The individual wipe box costs £2.30 where as the twenty wipes cost £3.00 (though they are on offer in boots at the moment with all the products in the range on two for £4.00.)
Femfresh describe their wipes as dermatologically and gynaecologically tested. The wipes are designed to give 'long lasting freshness' The formula used in the wipes contains extracts of white water lily and naturally anti bacterial calendula. This formula is meant to be gentle so it won't affect your ph balance. The wipes themselves are flushable but the packaging does need to be put in the bin.
Now I don't personally have any issues with my intimate area (touch wood and all that lol) but am more than aware of the effects day to day life can have on your ph balance. I think like most of us girls I like to keep as clean as possible but this isn't possible 100% of the time. In the past if I was put in a situation where I wouldn't be able to shower daily (festivals, camping etc are a prime example) I would use baby wipes to keep myself as clean as possible. However, using these would leave me not feeling particularly clean and more often than not heavily perfumed. What's great about femfresh wipes is that although there is a slight scent it's pleasant and not at all over powering. The wipes also leave you feeling really clean and dare I say it...fresh, it's almost like you have showered down there! However, the wipes are not just useful as a substitute for when you're camping they are really useful on a day to day basis. For example (I hope this doesn't just happen to me lol!) there's always that day after you think your period has stopped as nothing has happened for a day or so but then all of a sudden out of nowhere your body decides its not quite finished and you can quite easily get caught out as you cant always rush to the loo on demand. This leaves me feeling icky with loo roll not quite up to the job of keeping me clean. However, the wipes are a quick, easy and discrete way to solve the problem. These wipes are great to use particularly during the summer months where us girls might need a little more help to keep as fresh as we would like.
In my opinion buying the individual wipes makes more sense than buying the larger pack of wipes as you are more likely to want to use these wipes when out and about. Although they are useful to use at home at the end of the day you could always just jump in the shower etc rather than use a wipe. I would definitely recommend giving these wipes a go as they are so handy and would recommend them even more if you can find them on offer!
When me and my other half moved in together our families started trying to kit us out with various equipment to fill our kitchen. One of the items we ended up with was a Douwe Egberts Senseo coffee maker.
We have had our Senseo now for over a year, with our specific model being the HD7814 black. This is still available to buy on Amazon for £60.00 but there has been a newer version released since which costs £90.00 and it is also available to buy in silver if that fits in better with your kitchen.
Personally I don't think that the Seneso lives up to much in the stylish kitchen appliance Olympics. With the likes of the Dolce Gusto out there which I think looks great the Senseo just looks like a bit of a blot on my kitchen side and if I had room I would probably try ands keep it hidden away in a cupboard. The picture on DooYoo is very similar to how my particular Senseo looks with the only difference being that it is black and the tower is less rounded. The black is matt on the tower but is shiny around the base; this is a nice touch in way to add a bit of variety to its appearance.
I find the Senseo a bit difficult to clean as it seems to attract all the grease and hair (thanks to Merlin's seemingly never ending shedding coat lol) in the kitchen. It may have been me over cleaning the item but I have found that the symbols under the buttons have all but disappeared making the machine look a bit scruffy and testing my memory as to what the three buttons do (its not exactly hard but still...).
How to use it
When making a coffee the machine is very easy to use as it's just a case of lifting up the top, inserting a pod in to the pod holder, waiting for the water to heat up (this doesn't take very long, probably about 1 minute) and pressing a button. You can choose the size of coffee you want between either a cup or a mug. That is very easy though I find that when I go to fill up the water reservoir (not necessarily needed to be done every time you make a coffee) there's a small attachment that always falls off it. It's probably just me, as it seems like it should be easy to put back on, but I always find it difficult to reattach. In my opinion the water reservoir isn't very big because the machine gives out quite small servings (in cups) when it comes to filling up a mug the reservoir probably needs filling up every couple of mugs or so.
When making a coffee I find that the space between the tap and base isn't very big. I do have quite a lot of big mugs and none of them fit under the tap. However, if you use a 'normal' mug I tend to find that using the 'mug' button will cause your cup to be too full (thankfully the machine does have a drip tray) so you ideally need quite short and fat large mugs which luckily I have. When I first got the machine this was something that annoyed me as pictures of coffee released by Douwe Egberts/Phillips supposedly made by a Senseo included those that came in those large tall glasses. There's no chance that those would fit under the spout.
After making your coffee the pod holders, spout, drip tray and leak tray can all be washed and are all dishwasher safe. This is really handy for general cleaning. However, it's also great for another problem I personally have with this machine and that is forgetting to take out the pods. I tend to forget to take the pods out of the machine as there is no warning or anything to remind you and you can't see the pods inside so they are easily forgotten about. This is fine when you regularly use the machine. However, at times when I have not been using the machine and left the pod inside they have gone mouldy and really disgusting. It's great that the pods are biodegradable but I'd rather they didn't start that process in the machine!
The coffee pods
Like many of the other machines on the market the Senseo has its own unique way of making coffee and that is with their pods. These really aren't anything to get excited about and they basically look like a large round tea bag.
Pod flavours available include:
Mild, Medium and Dark roast
They also do some more interesting varieties which I am yet to try including the city tour pods which include Rio de Janeiro - a coffee pod with vanilla and cream liqueur.
Trying to find the pods whilst doing your normal shop to be honest, is a bit of a pain. Tesco do sell a small variety of the proper Douwe Egberts coffee pods, though they don't have the more adventurous flavours (generally having decaffeinated, mild roast etc) and I think they do also sell a few of their own versions (though I haven't seen any in a while). The pods don't come cheap with 18 pods (i.e. 18 mugs of coffee maximum) costing around £2.50. To be more adventurous with your coffee you need to buy the pods online. Amazon do a fair selection but they are sold in packs of three or more (unless you pay for one and pay a ridiculous amount of postage) so you can expect to pay over £10.00 for some coffee. Although in fairness, compared to the single packs, this is quite good value, it feels like a lot to spend in one go on some coffee.
A big negative to these pods is that like with most things when they decide to no longer make the Senseo machine the coffee pods will soon fade in to oblivion and will make the machine utterly useless. Luckily that isn't something that looks likely to occur in the near future but when you're spending so much on a coffee machine you want to know that you'll be able to use it for a fairly long time.
How the coffee tastes
The coffee you get will obviously depend on the type of coffee pod you use. However, I will try to generalise.
Firstly the coffee will probably not be hot enough for most people. When the coffee comes out the machine it really isn't boiling hot and to make the best of your coffee you need to warm up your mug and milk first or your coffee goes cold very quickly.
The coffee doesn't always seem to come out properly. The idea of the pods is that the water covers all of it and makes the most of the flavour. However, I tend to find that the first half of the mug as it pours is a bit weak and watery.
I tend to find the coffee, even with the issues above, very strong which may not be to everyone's taste. However, I havent found a type of pod that I havent liked, with the coffee generally tasting quite nice (though not hot enough).
One issue I have with the coffee is that I don't think there's enough froth etc made from the machine so my coffee doesn't feel that special making me wonder why I bothered to use the machine.
Even though I have listed a lot of faults I do think that this is an ok coffee machine and if it could be found on offer then it's probably worth buying as coffee machines can be quite expensive. The coffee it makes is fairly nice and there is a fair variety of pods available (though I would still like more, especially in the supermarkets). However, I really dont like how the coffee machine looks. I think when I can afford it I'll be looking to get a new coffee machine which probably wont make any better (or warmer!) coffee but at least it will look nicer on the kitchen side.
Technical Specifications (taken from Amazon)
* Spout height: 117 mm
* Water tank capacity: 0.75/5 Litres/cups and Black coffee brew volume: 120 ml
* 1 cup, 2 cups or a mug of SENSEO coffee freshly brewed in under a minute
* Always the right balance between coffee and water
* Full smooth taste with delicious crema layer **
* Simple to use and easy to clean
(**After having the machine over a year I'm still not 100% sure what that actually is!)
Recently me and my other half have been on a mission to try and cut back on how much we spend on food. Whilst doing that we have somehow started eating lots of bread (I guess it quickly bulks out a lot of meals quite easily!).However, buying at least a couple of loaves a week I quickly got annoyed with the price of branded bread, especially when it's not on offer so I started to look for cheaper alternatives and came across Tesco Value Bread.
Tesco Value White Sliced Bread comes in the usual basic packaging. The packaging is mostly white with a simple picture of the loaf with a red band around the middle. It can be bought in both medium and thick sliced (though I normally buy medium, I find that thick is the better option with this value bread). The bread costs 47p, this is a bargain when you consider most branded bread costs between £1.00 and £2.00.
The bread itself looks normal enough; although the slices are a little bit smaller than a normal loaf (for those of you who read my toaster review this is actually quite good as it fits in the slots lol!) However, it's obviously the taste that's the most important with this product and I must admit when you just have it normally as part of a sandwich of with butter on its not that great. It does taste of bread but it doesn't taste as nice as the more expensive brands. The bread itself is a bit soggy but almost tastes dry at the same time. Its very weird.
However, there must be a reason I buy this bread and there is! The bread is fine when it's toasted, smothered in margarine or peanut butter you really cant tell that its cheap bread. This is great as me and my other half have a lot of toasties or have toast with meals. Therefore using this bread rather than a more expensive loaf saves us quite a lot of money. I know a lot of you will be thinking why don't I buy the good offers (even though I dont think any of them would rival the price of this loaf) when they come round and just freeze the extra bread I get in the deal. Well firstly at the moment we don't have a freezer but I also don't like how bread tastes after it's been in the freezer, it's never the same, so I prefer to buy the cheaper bread fresh.
It's difficult to say if I would recommend this bread. If like me and my other half you get through a couple of loaves a week and find yourselves eating a lot of toast I would say buy a more expensive loaf for your sandwiches etc and then buy this cheap bread for your toast. However, if you only buy one loaf a week or rarely eat toast then I really wouldn't recommend this bread as you will probably find it too soggy and weird for your sandwiches.
I recently returned to Edinburgh for a couple of nights and ended up staying in the Barceló Carlton.
~ Location ~
The Carlton is a 4 star rated hotel located on North Bridge Street in Edinburgh. It is a massive, grand looking hotel which cant be missed! It is located a few minutes walk away from the main shopping district (Princess Street) and Waverley train station. There are bus stops located near the hotel and the Royal Mile is just a stones throw away. Although you can drive to the hotel (it has a car park) unless you like driving through busy city centre roads I wouldn't really recommend it!
~ The Room ~
After checking in to my room, in the very impressive looking hotel reception, I made my way to my room. I wasn't directed which way to go which I thought it would have been a nice (I always find myself easily getting lost!). However, I found my room easily enough as it was very close to the lifts.
The room itself had a massive corridor which was very dim and gloomy. This opened up in to a reasonable sized room which was luckily a lot lighter. The room had all the basics including a fridge, a desk and small table with a couple of tub chairs and at a first glance over seemed pleasant enough. The bathroom was large with a bath and shower. However, it was on closer inspection and just staying in the room that I began to notice all the little things that weren't quite right.
The room was very warm and the air conditioning was obviously not working. Instead the room had been given two fans (not exactly the same as air con). However, when I trailed through the room looking for plugs I could only find one! All of their 'normal' fixtures and fittings had been placed in special plugs which were covered up so you couldn't unplug them. I plugged in one of the fans and it didn't work and when I plugged the other one in I discovered I wouldn't be able to choose the setting of the fan. It seemed to have been set to level three (the highest) and was very noisy so I didn't bother with it for very long.
I was in what I presume would be a twin room as it was two single beds, though I was in the room on my own. However, the two single beds were pushed together. If you were given this as a double you would be annoyed as its not a double bed and if you shared the room as twin you would probably not like to be sleeping quite so close to the other person. Although the bedding was fine, the top cover (I'm not sure what they are called!). which covered the bottom half of the bed on both sides were really tatty with lots of rips and snags.
The bathroom had lots of dark black hairs on various different surfaces. This could easily have been the cleaners but even so it wasn't very nice and made me wonder how well things were cleaned. On closer inspection the shower curtain smelt and the tap had a lot of brown dried gunk around its base. The freebie smellies given with the room were a bit rubbish and I wasn't given a small bottle of hair conditioner, just a shower gel and shampoo, which I think should almost be a given in a 4 star hotel (or maybe I'm just being picky?).
I'd say that everything in the room (but not the bathroom as that felt slightly more modern) was just beginning to look a little tired and dated and just needed a refresh and a proper look at. Simple things like a random shelf being left under the desk, the hair dryer stand being broken could easily be fixed. Where as looking at updating the old TV to a flat screen and providing more channels, fixing the air con and improving the bedding could probably easily be done with a little investment, making the room actually feel like a 4 star room.
Just to note on the cleaning of the room while I was there. As I already mentioned I was a bit dubious of it after seeing the bathroom (and also an opinion card was left for me on the bed that had already half been filled in kind of proves a lack of attention to detail). When I came back to my room on my second night it must have been just before 5pm, I found that the room still hadn't been cleaned. I was thinking of going out to look at the shops in Edinburgh and set about getting changed. However, no longer had I kicked off my shoes then there was a knock on the door which I presumed was the cleaner (I had noticed one in the corridor before getting in to my room). I couldn't even get to the door before she had opened it herself (this annoyed me as I think she knew I was in there and she shouldn't really just be letting herself in - what if I had have been half way through getting changed?). She said she wanted to clean my room which I said was fine but I wanted to get changed first so I asked if she could wait to clean for a couple of minutes. She just stared blankly at me and repeated that she needed to clean. She basically didn't speak English and after a few minutes of trying to explain to her I wanted 5 minutes and then she could clean she had to go and find someone else to translate what I had said to her. This really annoyed me because not only should she really have understood the words come back in 5 minutes (she's likely to come across it a few times cleaning in a hotel) this was all over cleaning which should have really have been done before 5pm!
~ Food glorious food ~
There are two options for eating in the hotel. There is the Bridge Bar and the Bridge Restaurant.
~ The Bridge Restaurant ~
If dinner is included with your stay then this is where you eat. It is open to all guests and I presume also non guests. It is located next to the Bridge Bar but since this bar during my stay was quite quiet this wasn't an issue. The menu in the restaurant is fairly small and there isn't a massive choice. This is fine if you wanted to eat here for a couple of nights but if you had booked yourself in for a week with your dinner included then the likelihood is that you would get bored with the lack of choice. If your dinner isn't included then you will probably find the restaurant quite expensive (even if it is included there were a few meals that included supplements you needed to pay). Starters vary from £5.00 to £6.00, mains from £14.00 to £25.00 and desserts £5.00 - £7.00.
An example of a meal you could have in the restaurant:
Goats cheese and cranberry cheesecake with a beetroot syrup £5.95
Grilled fillet of sea bass with pak choi and sweet peppers drizzled with a sesame and ginger dressing £14.50
Chocolate Brownie Brule £5.25
I had a couple of meals in the restaurant and it was nice. However, I did feel it was over priced and for the amount you were paying, not very filling. The service in the restaurant was good and everything was served in a timely manner, I didn't feel rushed but nor did it feel really slow (which can often happen when you eat on your own). After you place your order you are served a bread roll I was disappointed that these were part baked rolls, surely in a 4 star hotel it wouldn't be difficult to source some fresh bread. In fairness I'm a fan of part baked rolls and they are nice if you get a fresh one but ones that have cooled down are chewy and hard. However, if my other half had been with me, he really wouldn't have been impressed as he really dislikes part baked rolls.
I had the meal mentioned above and although I loved the cheesecake starter (it was very goats cheesy, something that's often not present in food with goats cheese in it!) I think that was the best bit of the meal. The sea bass was nice but it wasn't good enough for the price as the sauce was lacking flavour and there just wasn't enough of it. I did wonder if this might be the case when I ordered it but I refused to pay nearly £4.00 for a side of fries. The dessert should have been heavenly as it mixes my two favourite desserts and although it was tasty it really wasn't anything special.
If you stay in the hotel and cant be bothered looking for somewhere to eat then I would say try the restaurant as it is ok and the staff in there are friendly but don't expect anything too much from it. Also remember to book as although the restaurant was never full when I went to eat there I was always asked if I had booked and on one occasion had to wait about half and hour before I could be seated.
~ The Bridge Bar ~
I chose to eat here on the second night wanting to avoid the formality of the restaurant. The bar itself is quite nice but is, like most hotel bars, hideously over priced, with a pint of Carlsberg and a small bottle of Magners each costing well over £3.00. The food in the bar is quite simple consisting of sandwiches, jacket potatoes and a selection of more substantial meals such as curry, pizzas and burgers. Sandwiches and the like cost around £9.00. Main meals cost around the £15.00 mark. However, I ordered a meal from a promotional menu which was slightly cheaper with a range of 'basic' pub style (though nothing to get excited about) main meals for £11.00. I opted for some simple fish and chips as I wanted something quick and filling.
I felt that by choosing to eat in the bar that I was putting the bar staff out, even though it wasn't particularly busy. For example; my cutlery was just placed on a napkin in front of me rather than being placed to my side. Maybe I'm being picky but for the prices in the bar and the fact that it's a 4 star hotel I was expecting a bit better. The fish and chips were presented nicely (though without any tartar sauce!) but that was about the only good thing about it. The chips were undercooked, there weren't many of them and around half had weird dark brown bits on them. The fish tasted and looked just like it had came out of box in the freezer. Frankly I could have done a better job at home.
With the main leaving me less than satisfied I opted for a pudding as one of my favourites was on the menu: Chocolate Brownie. This cost just short of £7.00 so I thought it might be something special. I can safely say it was not. Again the food looked nice there was a reasonable square of brownie with a small scoop of ice cream on top, garnished with a strawberry and mint leaf and drizzled with white chocolate sauce and then sprinkled with icing sugar. My first annoyance with the pudding came with the strawberry as it wasn't even one strawberry, in fact it wasn't even a half. I had two small slices of strawberry! When you pay that much for a dessert I think they can afford to give you at least half a strawberry, especially at this time of year when they are in season and cheap as chips! The brownie itself was really hard and I had to use both the fork and spoon to be able to break in to it. Although it tasted good, I was glad I had the ice cream to give it some moisture.
All in all the bar left me completely unsatisfied. It was a complete rip off and I would only recommend it for a drink if you really don't want to leave the hotel. However, your so close to lots of other bars that you would have to be pretty lazy to not want to leave. Put it this way: To avoid the prices I ran through the pouring rain without an umbrella to a pub that's less than a minute away with a much better atmosphere (there are plenty of pubs a couple of minutes away that have live music) and the prices are much more reasonable
~ And so to bed ~
I'm afraid to say that over the three nights I stayed in the Carlton I didn't have the best nights sleep. I was so tired on the third night that I had a few pints in a short space of time to make sure I would get to sleep and sleep through the night.
The bed itself was fairly comfy though it had that dip on the end, which you get with a lot of hotel beds, where everyone has sat to watch the TV. I ended up trying to sleep sideways. However, because the room was a double made up of two single beds, they were two different heights so it wasn't the most comfortable way to sleep.
I also unfortunately had a room that faced the street and this at first caused me a bit of a dilemma. The room itself was ridiculously warm and although the window wasn't open much it did let in a nice breeze. However, the noise from the traffic outside was quite loud (especially since I'm used to very quiet nights out in the countryside). The problem was solved for me as when I tried to shut the window, I couldn't. I don't know whether it just wouldn't shut or if it was me just being a bit dumb but I just dealt with it as the breeze was nice and since the windows weren't double glazed I presumed shutting it wouldn't make that much difference.
During the first two nights of my stay I was woken up throughout the night by various different things. Outside when the traffic stopped quite late at night, the drunks began and after a couple of hours the traffic would begin again with bin men, lorries and buses. Inside being near the lift meant there were a few times I was woken up by inconsiderate people returning to their rooms but worryingly one night someone tried to get in to my room. Although I had put the extra lock on the door being on my own it really freaked me out.
At the end of the day no matter how tatty bits and pieces are a hotel is ultimately there to give you a decent night sleep. This hotel couldnt even do that.
~ Breakfast ~
Breakfast is served in the restaurant and is a self serve buffet. You are initially given a table and at some stage someone will come round to offer coffee. The breakfast itself was...interesting. The choice available was the usual, hot food (bacon, egg etc), pastries, bread, cereals, juices and fruit. The fruit selection I found a little strange with lots of prunes and oranges. I did try some of the melon they had but it was over ripe and was just tasteless and mushy. The juice they served was warm and I couldn't understand why it wasn't just kept in a fridge. The pastries were nice enough but were very crusty and I do wonder if they were part-baked pastries (if you can get those or something similar?) rather than being freshly baked. The hot food was pretty disgusting. I'm not a huge fan of breakfast served in a buffet style anyway as I don't think it ever really tastes very nice. However, the only part of the hot selection I liked was the grilled tomato. The bacon was extremely chewy and the sausage was almost inedible. There also didn't seem to be enough staff around at breakfast as items often ran out and took a little while to be replaced.
All in all I wouldnt recommend breakfast and with McDonalds and other places open for breakfast nearby I would opt for going to those instead.
~ Other facilities and info ~
The hotel does have a health spa and leisure centre. This was not something I visited but I believe the pool and gym were free to guests of the hotel (though I found no literature in the room to 100% confirm this.) Health spa treatment prices varied and although perhaps a little expensive didn't seem too over priced.
They cater for business meetings and events, short golfing holidays and weddings
Price: The prices for the hotel do seem to vary quite a lot and obviously depend on the time of year and how far in advance you book. The prices for a double guest room seem to be between £100 - £150 per night but I just searched the Barceló website today for a room in exactly a months time in August and got the following result for a double guest room:
Room only: £260.00
Inc. Breakfast: £284.00
Inc Breakfast and Dinner: £324.00
Address: 19 North Bridge Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1SD
~ Overall ~
As you can probably tell I'm not this hotels biggest fan and I probably wouldn't recommend it. The hotel is good for its location and although I didn't use it I liked the fact it had a swimming pool. I think it might be more enjoyable if you stay in a more expensive room, which might be kitted out a bit better or make sure you get a room that's away from the road so you can sleep. However, I just feel that the hotel is not at all worth the price and its 4 star rating is not at all justified judging by my stay (in fact I would love to see the room/rooms that were judged at that standard).
(Sorry this has been a bit of a monster review but I hope it has been helpful!)
When me and my other half moved in together although we had some bits and pieces for the kitchen we lacked quite a few essentials. One of those items we lacked was a toaster. We were trying to kit out our kitchen with items that were half stylish and didn't cost the earth (nor did we want something that cost pennies for fear it would break!).
We bought the Tesco 2T15ss stainless steel two slice toaster from our local Tesco Extra. However, if you don't live near one you can also purchase it online via Tesco Direct. It cost just short of £15.00, so it's not the cheapest toaster out there but nor is it the most expensive.
The toaster itself looks fairly normal. There's nothing too fancy about it as it's made up of stainless steel with black trim. It looks fine sat on my kitchen side but sometimes I do wonder if it is a bit big and bulky for a two slice toaster. Obviously being stainless steel it does attract fingerprints and the like quite quickly which means if you want to keep it looking shiny and nice it does need to be wiped down and cleaned regularly.
Using the toaster is fairly easy. After you have put in your bread, (an essential part of using the toaster!), you then set how long you want to cook your toast for by turning a dial on the side and then push down the handle on the side.
The toaster itself does come with a couple of features though they aren't really anything to get overly excited about. There is a cancel button so that you can stop cooking your toast if you've realised you've put it on for too long. It has a high lift facility, so if you are cooking something like crumpets which can be a pain to get out you just use the handle on the side to push the rack upwards, making it easier to get whatever you're cooking out. There is also a button to use for when you're cooking frozen bread. At the bottom of the toaster there is also a crumb tray which makes it a lot easier to clean than just turning it upside down and shaking! However, you will always find bits of bread or for me it's always hot cross buns attached to the grill inside.
My main issue with this toaster is the size of the slot, its just not big enough. Every time I put in a 'normal' slice of bread I have to toast it until about half way through my normal cooking time and then turn the slice over so that I get a fully toasted slice of bread. This is such a pain to go through and it means that your toast is never 100% evenly toasted. The slot is short by only about a couple of centimetres which could have probably easily been rectified by Tescos.
I have had this toaster for a couple of years now and have had no real issues with it. I would recommend this toaster if your on a budget as for the price it looks ok and although I have to turn the bread when I toast it I have no real issue with how my toast comes out.