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Member since: 05.08.2008

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    • More +
      30.05.2009 17:47
      Very helpful



      If you can get hold of some give it a go!

      I've always been a fan of the Body Shop body butters, so when I walked in one day and smelt this one I fell in love instantly. I had to have it.

      Luckily for me I was able to buy this in the sale, so it was only around the £6 mark for a 200ml pot. Usually these body butters are double that at £12, so I was quite happy with the bargain I'd just acquired.

      When I got it home I couldn't wait to try it. As I've already mentioned it made a very good first impression on me. This stuff smells beautiful, I love raspberry things in general, and the smell did rather remind me of the taste of Yop, the raspberry yoghurt drink. The good thing about these body butters is that the whole range smell lovely, and the smell is quite strong without being overbearing, so once you've applied it you will continue to smell like the product for several hours. As a small side note, whilst it smells amazing, it tastes terrible as my friend discovered, so don't try and lick anyone who is wearing it!

      Anyhoo, onwards.. The actual butter itself is the pinky raspberry colour you'd expect, but the consistency did disappoint me a little bit. The majority of these butters are relatively solid, for example, you could certainly remove the lid of the avocado one, turn it upside down, and be happy in the knowledge that your carpets were safe. This particular butter however is a lot more liquidy. It isn't very runny, but it will slowly move in whatever direction you put the pot down. This isn't really a problem unless you leave it upside down like I once did, then try and open it straight away. Obviously that was a bit stupid of me, but I'm used to them being a bit more solid...

      Speaking of the pot it's also raspberry in colour, and in this instance is 200ml, though they have also sold a smaller 50ml version. The pot is the perfect size for someone like me with small girly hands, and the screw top is quite easy to open, so it shouldn't cause too much of a problem for those with dexterity problems.

      If you've read some of my other reviews you may know that I have quite dry, sensitive skin due to my eczema, and this was my main reason for being slightly concerned about the consistency. Having such bad skin I've tended to find that thicker, heavier moisturisers are called for, hence my love of body butter. To be fair to the product though, it does state that it is for use on normal skin (there are some which are designed for dry or very dry skin).

      You apply the product as you would any other moisturiser, though this does take a little more time to rub in usually. I found that this body butter does take a good hour or so to sink in properly, though this is less time than some take. Because of this it's best to try and avoid covering the areas that you've applied it to so it doesn't soak into your clothes. It won't stain them if this does happen, but if I'm spending this much on a moisturiser I want it soaking into my skin!

      After applying the body butter my skin smelt lovely, and was a little bit greasy (for obvious reasons). Once it had soaked in my skin was slightly more moisturised than before, but not necessarily as much as I've found with other body butter flavours. I'm sure that this is due to my skin being a lot dryer than a 'normal' persons though, so I wasn't too disheartened. I found that it did improve a bit if I used it twice in quick succession though.

      Personally I love the Body Shop body butters and would probably spend all day bathing myself in them if I could. Although I can't get enough of the smell of this one I'm unlikely to buy it again, purely because it wasn't amazing on my skin. That said, for anyone with the 'normal' skin specified on the pot, I think this would be well worth trying. I'm only giving this four stars because of the way it worked on my skin bearing in mind it's usually £12. If its usual price was a bit lower I'd probably have given it five.


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      • More +
        24.03.2009 21:25
        Very helpful



        It could be better, but it could also be much worse

        Being a bit curious of what has been written about my home town, Crawley, I decided to read a few reviews. Unfortunately most of them I've stumbled across are either old, frankly (in my opinion) a bit rubbish, or more commonly both. I'm out to redress the balance.


        Crawley is one of ten towns constructed as a result of the first wave of development due to New Towns Act of 1946, and the only one south of the River Thames. Upon their completion the vast majority of Crawley's new houses were occupied by those whose houses in central London had been damaged during the war. As a result of this, most of Crawley's residents today have parents and grandparents who were Londoners, myself included.

        Although Crawley in its current state dates back to the 1950's, as was the case with most 'new' towns, Crawley was built around a historic core. Ifield, a neighbourhood in Crawley was mentioned in the Domesday book of 1086, with the first official record of Crawley being created in 1202.

        During the Iron Age, and in to the Roman times Crawley continued to be an area where ironwork and extraction were common. When areas to the south west of Crawley were constructed in the 1970's and 80's several furnaces were uncovered.

        Due to its location Crawley was a popular resting point for those travelling between London and Brighton. The 15th century timber framed building, The George, housed travellers and their horses until it was converted into a hotel which it continues to serve as today.

        During the Victorian era the first train station was opened at Three Bridges in 1841, soon followed by Crawley station which opened in 1841.

        *Location and Transport Links*

        Crawley is situated almost equidistant between London and Brighton. To be honest I think its location is probably (and sadly) Crawley's best feature. Falling within the jurisdiction of West Sussex County Council, Crawley lies on the cusp of East and West Sussex, and Surrey.

        Trains run regularly to London Victoria, and London Bridge, both of which can be reached in around 45 minutes. The M25 is also very easily accessible from the south west of the town, as is the A23 to Brighton.

        Within the town there are three train stations, Three Bridges (furthest north), Crawley in the town centre, and Ifield in the south of the town.

        Beginning in late 2003 the fastway bus service was introduced to the town. This is a guided bus service which originally ran between Bewbush and Gatwick Airport, with another route running Between Broadfield and Horley, Surrey being added in the summer of 2005. This was an extremely expensive service to implement, and has been considered to be a bit of a white elephant by many residents.


        One of the things that Crawley does have going for it is reasonably good leisure facilities.

        Opened in 1988 The Hawth is Crawley's only Arts centre, and regularly hosts big London musicals when they go on tour. Crawley Leisure Park was opened in the late 1990's and features amongst various food venues, a large cinema which used to boast the second largest screen in the country (whether this is still true I do not know), a bowling complex, and a large Virgin Active Gym.

        Crawley has three clubs including a Liquid/Envy, Brannigans and a newly opened club just off of Peglar Way. Unfortunately these all pander to the tastes of the rather large chav population, so if you're after something a bit less mainstream it's best to avoid Crawley.

        Sports wise the towns football club - Crawley Town FC moved into a new, larger stadium in Broadfield a few years ago.

        Until recently there were two leisure centers in Crawley, one in the town centre and the other in Bewbush, however both have recently been demolished to make way for new housing stock. These were replaced with a new leisure center: K2. This was built on the school field of Thomas Bennet Community College on the grounds that students from the school were able to use its facilities.

        *Green Areas*

        One of the things that make me happy to live where I do are the number of green spaces. I live very close to a millpond which can be nice in summer (if you can imagine it without the dumped trolleys and other assorted litter). I'm also very close to a wooded area called Buchan Park which can (depending on your route) take an hour plus to walk around as it is a decent size. There is also an area of heathland here, and a conservation programme to protect both the animals and plants who live there.

        Most of the neighbourhoods have at least one grassy field and a child's play park. Additionally, Tilgate park has an animal reserve, and Goffs park is located close to the centre of town.

        *Council Buildings*

        Constructed in the 1950's, it has to be said that the council buildings in Crawley town center are hardly works of art. Built in the concrete block style which for some unknown reason was popular around this time everything is rather grey and drab.

        Nevertheless, a new library and registrars office was opened at the end of 2008. I'm unsure what is to happen to the old buildings.

        Crawley College (now named Central Sussex College) also underwent a bit of a cosmetic makeover to brighten it up recently, though this isn't necessarily to everyone's taste.

        Continuing the theme of redevelopment, Crawley Town Hall is due to be demolished in the near future to be replaced by a large John Lewis department store.


        Crawley is home to a large variety of shops, however these are mainly chain stores so you are unlikely to find many independent shops here as you would find in Brighton.

        Opened in the early 1990's after being built on large section of the towns memorial garden, County Mall is Crawley's only shopping centre.

        Amongst others the town has branches of New Look, The Body Shop, H&M, Superdrug, Boots, Topshop, Next, JJB, Lush, Primark, Dorothy Perkins, Argos, Sainsbury's, TK Maxx, M&S, Debenhams, BHS and so on...

        Whilst there were some independent shops these were mostly in the old High Street, and most have folded due to the competition with these larger stores. There is a small market in this location every Friday and Saturday.

        *Gatwick Airport*

        Used as a RAF base during WWII, Gatwick airport was earmarked for closure. Instead, it was closed for redeveloped between 1956-8,and opened by the Queen in the summer of 1958. The North Terminal was added in 1988, and the airport has been an important part of the local economy.


        There are currently six secondary schools in the area:

        * Ifield Community College
        * Hazelwick School
        * Holy Trinity Church of England School
        * Oriel High School
        * St Wilfrid's Catholic School
        * Thomas Bennett Community College

        Most of these also have sixth forms attached. Although I didn't go to secondary school in Crawley so I can't speak from experience, none of these have better than 59% achieving 5 A*-C grades, with the lowest having 27%. I'm not sure what the national average is, but if I had children I wouldn't want to send them to school here.

        Primary education isn't much better either. Today I read that my old school has received the lowest possible OFSTED score. Although I left in 1997 I'm assuming that the standard of education hasn't changed much, so I can understand why. Allegedly the teaching is sub-standard, as is the level of literacy. In light of that it might not surprise you that I wasn't taught what a comma was until I was in year 6.

        Central Sussex College is the towns main college. This provides mainly vocational education for the towns students. For this reason a reasonable number of people opt to attend college in the neighbouring town of Horsham.


        Unemployment in Crawley has historically been fairly low, largely due to the presence of the airport which is probably the towns largest employer. The vast majority of Crawley residents work in the service sector, with a sizable number working in the transport industry.


        Sussex Police are responsible for maintaining order in Crawley. According to 2007/8 figures robberies, theft of a motor vehicle and burglaries from dwellings were slightly below the national average, whilst sexual offences stood at 1.3 per 1000 of the population compared to a national average of 0.9. Violence against the person was also considerably higher than the national average of 16.2 (22.8), as was theft from a vehicle offences which stood at 9.1 (average 6.9).


        Crawley is split into thirteen different neighbourhoods, each of which has its own corresponding colour which is on all street signs for that particular area. These areas are:

        1) Langley Green
        2) Northgate
        3) Southgate
        4) Pound Hill
        5) Broadfield
        6) Bewbush
        7) Ifield
        8) Maidenbower
        9) West Green
        10) Tilgate
        11) Gossops Green
        12) Three Bridges
        13) Furnace Green

        With the exception of Maidenbower where building commenced in the 1980's, the vast majority of houses in Crawley are located on council estates. It was the wishes of the developers that each neighbourhood should have its own parade of shops, community centre, and pub in the middle.

        House prices tend to be below the average prices for the south east. I would attribute this to the large amount of council housing in the town.

        *Health Facilities*

        Crawley is served by the West Sussex Primary Care Trust. Crawley Hospital was constructed in the 1950's with the rest of the town, however the population of the town has swelled to such a degree that many of Crawley's patients are treated at East Surrey Hospital in Redhill. After being downgraded several years ago Crawley Hospital lost its Maternity ward, A&E, and intensive care units. Proposals were put forward to build a new hospital at Pease Pottage, but these were deemed to be too expensive and pulled.

        *Population Composition*

        Crawley is a fairly large town with a population of around 100,000.

        In 2006 the ethnic composition of the town was:

        86.5% White
        8.8% S.Asian
        1.9% Black British
        1.0% Chinese or other
        1.7% Mixed Race

        In May 2006 the Conservative Party took control of the borough for the first time since its creation. Previously the town had always been Labour controlled. The current MP for the town is Labour councillor Laura Moffat, whose winning margin of 37 seats in the 2005 General Election was the slimmest of any constituency.

        *The Future*

        In the future there have been plans to build on land to the south west of Crawley. This land is in fact owned by the considerably more affluent neighbouring Horsham council. Many Crawley residents are particularly annoyed by this as they consider Horsham Council to be 'dumping' their housing quota on Crawley. Many residents have opposed this, and we are yet to see if this will come to fruition or not.

        To Conclude

        So, Crawley...

        Do I plan to spend the rest of my life here?

        Probably not.

        BUT, Crawley isn't as bad a place as some would have you believe. Whilst it isn't exactly a prime location, we do have reasonably good leisure facilities, good transport links, reasonably priced houses for the south east and low unemployment.


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        • General / Discussion / 66 Readings / 57 Ratings
          More +
          24.03.2009 17:09
          Very helpful



          You may as well answer if you're trying to kill some time

          1. What is your middle name?

          2. Fire or Central Heating?
          Central heating, I like fires but it's just easier

          3. What are you listening to right now?
          Alexisonfire, one of my favourite bands :o)

          4. Clubbing or Romantic Meal?
          Clubbing, some of my happiest moments have been in clubs

          5. What was the last thing you ate?
          Noodles, though I'm ill and can't taste anything :o(

          6. Last person you hugged?
          My mum or my boyfriend, I can't remember which

          7. How is the weather right now?
          It's quite still outside, a bit sunny but I don't think it's very warm, though I haven't been outside today

          8. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone?
          My little sister who was asking if her tongue bar had arrived or not

          9. The first thing you notice about the opposite sex?
          Their hair probably, I have a thing for men with longish hair, though not really long

          10. Favourite type of Food?
          I can't answer this, I like too many types

          11. Do you want children?
          I don't know, I'm the eldest of four which has put me off a bit, plus I still feel like I'm about 17 mentally

          12. Hair colour?

          13. Do you wear contacts?

          14. Favourite holiday?
          I went to Russia in Feb 04, it was interesting...

          15. Favourite Season?
          Spring, I have a May birthday too :o)

          16. Have you ever cried over a love lost?

          17. Last Movie you watched?
          The Jerry Springer opera thing because my boyfriend wanted to. I fell asleep, as did he...

          18. What books are you reading?
          Lots, though most recently The End of Everything by Will Self, it's a book about postmodernism and the vanishing of the human, it's quite interesting

          19. Piercing?
          I have four in my ears, my tragus, lip, tongue, nose, eyebrow and belly, I think that's it lol

          20. Favourite Movie?
          American Beauty, though I am also a fan of Good Will Hunting

          21. Favourite Sports Team?
          Arsenal :o)

          22. What were you doing before filling this out?
          I was busy being ill lol

          23. Favourite animal?
          I'm not sure, I'd love a rabbit though

          24. Favourite drink?
          Passoa, it's so tasty

          25. Favourite flower?

          26. Have you ever loved someone?

          27. Who would you like to see right now?
          No One, I don't want to infect anyone else

          28. What colour are your bedroom walls?

          29. Have you ever fired a gun?
          I fired a pistol on a school trip...

          30. Do you like to travel by plane?
          I like taking off, it's like being on a very expensive roller coaster

          31. Right-handed or Left-handed?
          Right handed

          32. If you could go to any place right now where would you go?
          Lakeside, I want to go shopping lol

          33. Are you missing someone?

          34. Do you have tattoo?
          No, but I want a lot of black flowers down one of my sides. The picture I saw looks really good but I don't want to do it in case I have kids and stretch it

          35. Do you still watch cartoons on Saturday mornings?
          No, I'm not a big cartoon fan, plus I'm usually at my boyfriends and he doesn't have a TV

          36. Are you hiding something from someone right now?

          37. Are you 18?
          Nope 22, almost 23

          38. What is the wallpaper on your cell phone?
          Cherries :oD

          39. Are you afraid of the dark?

          40. Favourite Hangout?
          The beach

          41. Three things you can't live without?
          Music, my phone, the internet

          42. Favourite songs?
          Brand New - Okay I Believe You, but My Tommy Gun Don't, purely because I have good memories attached to it
          Foo Fighters - Everlong
          Various Alexisonfire/Deftones songs

          43. What are you afraid of?
          Drowning, I have a horrible recurring dream about it

          44. Are you a giver or a taker?

          46. What is your dad's middle name?

          47. What do you sleep in?
          Pyjamas that are three sizes too big, sexy...

          48. Stuck on a deserted island, and can only bring one thing?
          Music, or I'd go insane

          49. Favourite TV commercial?
          I liked the recent Ford Fiesta one, mostly because I like the music

          50. First thing you'll save in a fire?
          I've actually been thinking about this recently, probably my computer because it has my photos stored on it, then physical photos from when I was younger

          51. What is your favourite colour?

          52. What are the things you always bring with you?
          Purse, keys, canvas bags because I'm a hippie, sunglasses, vaseline, pens, there's quite a lot actually

          53. What did you want to be when you were a kid?
          What didn't I want to be? My parents always seemed to be involved in one court case or another (not that it was their fault). One ran from when I was 8 to when I was 15, I was particularly irritated by the injustice of the legal system and decided I should become a solicitor to sort it all out. If I converted my degree I could still do this, but I've realised I haven't got the right temperament for it.

          54. What do you do when the alarm turns on?
          Wish it would stop

          55. What colour is your bed sheet?

          56. Who do you want to meet?
          Adam Lazzara again, he was tasty

          57. What do you think about before you go to bed?
          Whatever is stressing me out at the time. Unfortunately I'm always worrying about something which is why I rarely sleep well.


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          • More +
            24.03.2009 10:57
            Very helpful



            An interesting show which is worth a look, even if it only is once

            Being a 22 year old female, I, like a lot of other girls put what is probably far too much time and effort into thinking about what I eat. For this reason my natural curiosity led me to watch the first series of this programme last year.

            Supersize Vs Superskinny is a channel 4 reality show which is approaching the end of its second series. Given the constant pressure that the media puts people under to stay slim, I thought this was a really interesting concept for a show and was drawn in. Not only does this expose the health problems of being obese, but it shows that it is just as dangerous to be severely underweight.

            The basic premise of the show involves the participation on two people, one 'supersize' individual who is morbidly obese and facing an early grave if their eating habits continue, and one 'superskinny' individual who is severely underweight. Both participants keep food diaries for five days, and then enter a studio where they live together for the same length of time. These people then partake in a diet swap, each eating the others extremely under/over sized meals as recorded in their food diaries.

            Although people tend to most commonly associate women with being severely underweight, the feeding clinic has seen a good mixture of over and underweight men and women. I think the decision to have a good assortment of genders on each side was a really good idea as it highlights that these problems can transcend genders, and that being severely underweight isn't a problem exclusive to women.

            Before the diet swap begins, each individual is weighed and told their BMI, then given a bit of a talking to by TV doctor Christian Jessen who explains the risks they are exposing them self to by being outside of a healthy weight range. Following this the two participants meet for the first time, and are introduced to what they'll be eating for the next five days. Two clear perspex tubes are filled with food allowing each to see the others diet. This finally answered a question for me, what do really, really tiny people eat? Answer: next to nothing. In fact, I'm surprised their bodies can function on so little. Conversely the 'supersizers' usually gorge their way through at least double or more of their recommended daily calorie intake.

            As you can imagine, once the diet swap actually begins the 'superskinny' struggles to eat their way through what I imagine feel like small mountains of food, where as the 'supersizers' are often made to feel hunger for the first time in years. The whole purpose of this swap is to make the participants realise how extreme their diets are, and attempt to make them reform their eating habits so that they are at a more 'normal' level.

            Mid way through the programme the superskinny is exposed to several close up photos of their body. As you can imagine these expose a lot of protruding bones, but also things such as bad skin/hair/nails, tired eyes and so forth. After a warning about how their diet is affecting them, and how they are likely to get osteoporosis/a heart problem/ have their hair fall out the superskinny usually returns to the feeding clinic with a bit more determination to eat those huge portions they have been served up.

            The supersizer doesn't get to escape easily either. This series this show has been following the life of a morbidly obese lady who was about to undertake life threatening but also potentially saving surgery to permanently reduce the size of her stomach. Unable to dress herself and with a huge assortment of health problems, this was designed to shock supersizers into weight loss, and frankly the idea of this terrifies me so I can see how it probably does work.

            As if that wasn't enough to make the viewer want to eat properly, journalist Anna Richardson has been following the progress of a group of recovering anorexics. I think that the real advantage this show has over most others which focus on those who are overweight is that it addresses both ends of the spectrum. In our diet obsessed society it is important that serial under eaters realise that they can be damaging their bodies as much as those who overeat, just in different ways.

            By the end of the week in the feeding clinic it has usually become apparent to both participants that their relationship with food is a bit distorted. Both are provided with diet plans to help them to gain or lose weight as is required, and six weeks later they return for another weigh in. As you can imagine, both individuals have taken positive steps to address the problems with their diets, and this usually leads to a positive change in their weight.

            More recently the show has been catching up with some of the participants from the first series and seeing how well their attempts to lose further weight have been going. As a nation obsessed with dieting I think this hits a bit of a nerve, especially when she travels to body obsessed America to investigate some of the extreme weight loss methods employed there.

            Whilst this show stresses the importance of a balanced diet and regular exercise, it's unlikely to teach you anything you didn't already know. That said, if you are someone who is outside of a normal weight range this may provide with the shock you need to sort out your diet. Whilst the format of the show is quite repetitive after you've watched a few episodes I always seem to be drawn back in. I think part of this is due to a slightly morbid curiosity, but it is nice to see how two people with different problems are able to help each other out.


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            • More +
              16.03.2009 13:11
              Very helpful



              Relief for aching muscles

              I've read a few reviews of this product lately. As I seem to have used bucket loads of this stuff over the last couple of years I thought I'd give my two pence worth.

              Deep heat is a mentholatum rub for 'fast relief from muscular aches and pains'. Although this review is for the cream version of the product a spray version is also available. The spray one is particularly useful if you have upper back or shoulder pains as you don't need someone to rub it in for you, or worse have to struggle to do it yourself. It's also good if you don't want to touch the cream (you'll see why later).

              Sold in 35g, 67g and 100g tubes, the larger size will set you back around £5 from somewhere like Boots, with the middle one being a bit over £3, and the smallest a bit over £2. If you use this regularly like I used to it might be worth looking in your local 99p store where I used to buy the smaller tube from for *drum roll* .... 99p. Used regularly the small tube tended to last me around a month, though obviously this is heavily dependent upon how much you use it.

              Deep heat rub comes in a fairly distinctive box which contains the tube of cream. Both the box and the tube look the same, fading in from red at the ends of the packaging to white in the centre, where the words 'deep heat' have been made to look like flames.

              When you come to open the tube the first thing you will notice is the very strong smell. When you use this stuff everyone you come into contact with will know about it, after all, it is a mentholatum. The smell really does make your eyes want to water, but in my opinion it's worth the small sacrifice to be pain free. This is a reasonably thick cream, and it does take a little while to be absorbed into the skin, however it doesn't stain clothes so this isn't a huge problem.

              To apply the rub simply squeeze a small amount out of the tube and massage it into the affected area. I've used this in the past for sport induced muscle pulls when I was at school, and more recently on my lower back area as I had very bad problems with it. Almost instantly you will feel this start to work. A lovely warming sensation is very quickly noticeable and lasts for around 20-30 minutes in my experience. If you continue to apply this 2-3 times a day as directed your muscles will start to feel considerably better.

              One thing that I cannot stress enough is that as soon as you have finished applying this you should wash your hands. The cream takes a while to be absorbed and the last thing you'd want to do whilst this is happening is to accidentally rub your eyes or touch something you're going to eat with this stuff. Although I don't think either of these would cause any real medical problems (as long as you obviously aren't eating it from the tube or something equally stupid), this would cause a lot of temporary discomfort.

              To be safe you shouldn't use this on broken skin (and really, with the burning sensation is causes, who would want to?), on under fives. Apparently you should also seek advice before using this if you are breast feeding or pregnant.

              All things considered this is a good product which is worth its very reasonable price tag. Whilst it isn't an instant cure it will speed up your recovery, and the temporary heat sensation is a very nice feeling on a pulled muscle.


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              • Samsung SGH-U600 / Mobile Phone / 50 Readings / 45 Ratings
                More +
                16.03.2009 00:06
                Very helpful



                If you like Samsung phones this is a reasonably good one

                I have to say, I'm not one of those people who is obsessed with having the newest, best phone on the market, but I am a fan of Samsung mobiles. Having owned a Samsung D500 for three and a half years, and after having my friends constantly telling me to get a new phone, I finally caved in when it got so broken I didn't really have much choice but to replace it (having broken down & okay buttons isn't any fun).

                Having graduated in the summer I'm not particularly flush, so I headed to ebay. I knew that I wanted another Samsung phone, and managed to get a month old U600 for a total of £43 which I didn't think was too bad. I believe a new one of these is usually just under the £100 mark.


                Visually this phone is quite pleasing. As the box is keen to tell you, it is just 10.9mm thick, 10cm tall, and 5cm wide. The thinness of this did worry me slightly when I first got it, but it is perhaps surprisingly sturdy so my mind was put to rest quite quickly. The screen is large enough for anything you would need to use this phone for, and as I read in a review before I bought it, it is so reflective it doubles up as a handy mirror should you need one! The number keys are the same as on a standard phone, and there are two touch screen buttons at the bottom of the screen. It is available in dark grey, blue, pink and purple depending on which network you have it on.

                *Ease of use*

                I only really tended to use my old phone to call and text, so getting this with all of its functions was quite exciting, but I had two main concerns with getting a new phone. Firstly, although this is thinner that my old phone, it is wider and taller. I thought that as I have quite small girly hands I might fumble with it a bit, but that hasn't been the case. Also, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to slide the touch screen up easily and would hence miss calls. My old phone had a little rubber lip for you to slide it up, but this doesn't have anything of the sort. I soon found out that this was because it doesn't need it. The slide on this phone is really nice and effortless, so needless to say that wasn't a problem in the end either.

                One thing I think it is worth mentioning though, is the the 'back' button when you're writing a text message. It may just be my mindset, but whenever I wanted to delete something I'd written I'd always press the back button. Unfortunately 'back' doesn't mean to go back in the text, it means to go back to the previous screen. There isn't anything you can do once you've pressed this button, your options are to save the text and faff about retrieving it, or to start all over again. I found this particularly annoying when I first got the phone as I was doing it constantly, and even now I still do it quite frequently.

                This is also a quadband phone which is quite handy if you need to use your phone abroad a lot, and it has bluetooth connectivity.


                Inside the box you will find a CD which you can use to put music on to your phone (however you don't need to use the CD to do this, it will sync quite happily from windows media player). There is also a pair of headphones which are pretty standard, to be honest if I was going to listen to music via the phone on a regular basis I'd probably want to use my own head phones, though they connect in the same slot as the charger does, so I'm not sure if it's possible to buy 'decent' headphones with that connector. Inside the box you'll also find the charger and the regulation instruction booklets. Personally I thought that although these covered the basics there were some questions I had which they didn't hold the answer to.


                There are plenty of functions on this phone. Apart from the camera, music player, Java games and internet access the phone has a calender, bluetooth, a voice recorder, FM radio, image editor & stamp, world clock, calculator, converter, timer, stopwatch, memo function, and an alarm.


                This phone is capable of storing a small amount of music, but this can be expanded with the addition of a micro SD card which you can pick up on ebay for around £3. It isn't a huge criticism as 2gb is still a decent amount of music, but this phone isn't compatible with one of the larger 4 or 8gb memory cards.

                Adding music to this phone through a computer is a very simple process, and you don't even have to install the CD which comes with the phone in order to do so. The speaker is reasonably good quality so I'm happy to listen to music through it.


                The camera on this phone is 3.2 mega pixels which will give you a reasonable quality photo, however I wasn't that impressed with the camera function. This is mainly due to the time it takes from me pressing the button to take the photo, to it actually being taken. There is quite a delay which quite often leads to me moving my hand and getting a blurred picture. I don't think the camera on this phone is as intuitive as the one on my old phone, but that may just be me.

                Should you be one of those people who like to edit their photos, there are several effects that you can play around with including black and white, sepia and so on. The image editor also has some other filters and transform tools, along with the ability to crop images. This is a fairly easy feature to use.

                All things considered I'm surprised how happy I've been with this phone, and knowing me like my last one I'll probably keep it until it breaks!


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                • More +
                  13.03.2009 10:02
                  Very helpful



                  Worth a visit!

                  I've either lived in Brighton, or spent most of my time there intermittently for the last four years, and, apart from the beach, the other thing that Brighton is good for is shopping. There are SO many shops everywhere, you're spoilt for choice. Sandwiched kind of in between the North and South Laines is Churchill Square, Brighton's only shopping centre.

                  Churchill Square is a large, light shopping centre which is home to 85 shops of varying size. Spread over three floors shops occupy the bottom two, with a food court occupying the traditional position at the top of the centre.

                  Churchill Square also has a large car park with space for 1500 cars. Although this does sound like a lot, don't expect to be able to find a space easily on a nice summers day. Often there are long queues trailing down the road with cars waiting to park. The fees for the car park are currently as follows:

                  Up to 2 hours: £2
                  2 - 3 hours: £3
                  3 - 4 hours: £4
                  4 - 5 hours: £5
                  5 - 6 hours: £6
                  6 - 7 hours: £7
                  7 - 8 hours: £8
                  8 - 12 hours: £8
                  12 - 24 hours: £25

                  Personally I think this isn't particularly cheap, especially if you're planning on making a day of it, although I guess you are parking right in the centre of a city.

                  There is also a valet service offered in the car park which ranges from £5 for a small car to £10 for a 4x4 sized car.

                  There are very regular buses to the shopping centre from all over Brighton. These stop right outside the centre. Brighton train station is also a short walk away (roughly 5-10 minutes depending on how fast you walk), so the centre is very easily accessible.

                  Opening hours are:

                  Monday 9am - 6pm
                  Tuesday 9am - 6pm
                  Wednesday 9am - 6pm
                  Thursday 9am - 8pm
                  Friday 9am - 7pm
                  Saturday 9am - 7pm
                  Sunday 11am - 5pm

                  As you can see late night shopping is on a Thursday, though the opening hours are extended during the latter half of the week and in to the weekend.

                  Churchill Square is the base for Brighton & Hove shop mobility scheme, and there are also childcare facilities located close to the toilets (which again can have rather large queues during weekends and busier periods), though there are plenty of them so the queues usually move quite quickly.

                  So, important part, what shops are there?

                  Although I'm not going to write a huge list with every shop in Churchill Square, a selection includes:

                  BHS, Debenhams, HMV, Natwest, Thorntons, Superdrug, WHSmith (also the main post office since last year), a Lego shop!, Claires Accessories, Whittards, Borders, H&M, Clintons, Jane Norman, Pineapple, The Disney store, Goldsmiths, Ernest Jones, Swarovski, Game, River Island, Next, Zara, Wallis, Warehouse and so on...

                  Upstairs restaurants include McDonalds if you're after something quick, plus Café Giardino, Eat, Quiznos Sub and Spud U Like where you can find something a bit healthier.

                  All in all Churchill Square is a really good place to visit if you want to browse the shops or after something more specific. In the summer it can get a bit frustrating when you're trying to weave your way around the tourists to get to buy that deodorant/pair of jeans/drink you so desperately need, but on the whole it's worth a visit, especially on a quieter day when it can be nice to have an amble around.


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                  • Vegetarian / Recipe / 47 Readings / 47 Ratings
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                    12.03.2009 19:38
                    Very helpful



                    One to try if you're trying to look after your body (or wallet!)

                    As anyone who has read my review for quorn pieces will know I'm a vegetarian. I'm also a big lentil fan (I always was, even back when I did eat meat), so I was really happy when I stumbled across this recipe in a vegetarian student cookbook I bought.

                    I think this is a really tasty, healthy recipe which has the added advantage of being very cheap to prepare, and is easy to make, so I've decided to share it with you.

                    This recipe serves 4, and takes around 15 minutes to perpare and 30 to cook.


                    75g lentils
                    1 tbsp olive oil
                    1 onion finely chopped
                    1 garlic clove crushed
                    2 small carrots cut into small cubes
                    2 small courgettes cut into small cubes
                    50g sliced mushrooms
                    1 tin chopped tomatoes
                    150 ml veg stock
                    2tbsp tomato puree
                    1 tsp dried majoram
                    salt & pepper

                    I find that it's okay to play about with the quantities a bit, I always add a lot more mushrooms and more lentils.

                    1) Rinse the lentils, add cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 minutes or until tender, then drain.

                    2) Heat the oil in a pan, add the onion, garlic and carrots, fry for 5 minutes.

                    3) Add the courgettes and mushrooms, cook for a further 2 minutes.

                    4) Stir in the tomatoes, stock, tomato puree, majoram and a dash of salt and pepper.

                    5) Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

                    6) Stir in the drained lentils and serve with pasta.

                    I think this is a really nice recipe which is well worth a try :o)


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                    • More +
                      12.03.2009 18:46
                      Very helpful



                      Thank you for your rates :o)

                      I've just read one of these reviews, so I thought I may as well share my two pence worth :o).

                      I started writing on Dooyoo a bit before Christmas. Having always been a bit of a writer I found it to be really fun, and I was very lucky in that I gained six crowns fairly quickly. I was also lucky enough to have a 'review of the day' too which made me really happy, so I'd like to thank everyone who has nominated me for crowns in the past. Unfortunately I don't really have the time to write such comprehensive reviews now, but I do my best within reason.

                      I graduated last summer with plenty of debt like most students, so I find sites like this really useful as they help me to buy presents for my friends and family which I'd otherwise struggle to afford.

                      A bit before Christmas I decided I wanted a TV in my room as I missed being able to watch it in bed, so I decided to try and save my Amazon vouchers for one. I made it to £120, but recently Invested in a new computer which I desperately needed (my old one was five years old and on its last legs). As I can use my computer to watch TV I decided to spend £60 of my vouchers (including £35 from dooyoo) on an exercise bike to stop myself from becoming extremely unfit!

                      Now I've graduated I have to face the fun task of paying my overdraft off whilst it's still at 0%, this is where you come in! From now on every 1.5p from your rates is another 1.5p off of my overdraft!

                      Once I've paid my overdraft off I'm focusing my attention on saving my points towards cash for a deposit on a house. I wish it didn't feel so far away...

                      Anyhoo, all in all I'd just like to thank everyone for their reads, comments, rates and nominations, I really appreciate it. Dooyoo is a really useful resource and has been useful in helping me decide which products to try and which to avoid, and long may it continue :o).


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                      • More +
                        11.03.2009 19:51
                        Very helpful



                        Just try it!

                        Back in the spring of 2003 something happened to me, I became an accidental vegetarian. As ridiculous as that sounds it wasn't something I originally set out to do (if you must know I realised that by chance I hadn't eaten meat for a few days and decided to see how long I could keep it going for).

                        Although towards the end of my meat eating days I did get a bit grossed out by the thought of eating something that was once running about in a field, I do love my food and hence didn't think I'd have the willpower to go veggie. Thankfully for me though, these quorn chicken style pieces have been my absolute salvation.

                        In the past chicken was probably the meat I ate most, and very much one of my favourites. These quorn pieces are the best chicken substitute I've ever had.


                        These quorn pieces can be found boxed in chiller cabinets, or frozen in bags as I usually buy them (mostly because they're better value this way). The packaging is easily recognisable in the shops, and is quite bright with a picture of a stir fry on the front. When you open the bag you will find plenty of cubed quorn pieces, I find there are enough for three or four meals for myself.


                        Unlike other brands of chicken substitute which I've tried, these do in fact taste very similar to the real thing. They have a texture which is very similar to chicken, and they are a lot more moist than I was ever expecting them to be. In fact, several of my meat eating friends have been pleasantly impressed by these quorn pieces.

                        Personally I think these are infinitely better than any competitors version which I've tried.

                        *How to cook*

                        The packet suggests cooking these pieces on a hob with sauce for a total of 19 minutes, 35 minutes in the oven at gas mark 6, or in the microwave for 7 minutes per half pack.

                        Personally I usually tend to eat these either plain in salad, or left to cool and put in a sandwich. I've found that they will actually cook a lot faster than the manufacturer suggests. In a frying pan with a little bit of oil these will cook in around 4-5 minutes, though obviously if you're making something like a stir fry the can remain in a pan for much longer without spoiling.


                        You can pretty much use these quorn pieces in anything where you would use normal chicken. This includes but is not limited to curry, stir Fry's, casseroles, fajitas and so on. As I've already mentioned these also taste good enough to eat without sauce in salads and sandwiches.


                        Quorn pieces are great to supplement the diet of a vegetarian, but also good for meat eaters. They are low in fat and high in protein. Quorn is mostly made from mycoprotein which is a member of the fungi family, but also contains re-hydrated free range egg white, and flavouring.

                        100g provides:

                        103 calories
                        14g protein
                        5.8g carbohydrate (1.3g sugars)
                        2.6g fat (0.6g saturates)
                        5.5g fibre
                        0.3g sodium
                        0.8g salt equivalent


                        A 300g frozen bag will cost you just under £2, with a chilled packet costing slightly more. These are available in all of the main supermarkets and are sometimes on offer (the bags were £1 each recently in Asda).

                        All in all I think that these are a very good meat alternative and have been nothing short of a godsend to me. Even if you do eat meat I think these are worth a try especially if you are watching what you eat due to the low fat content. As an added bonus they are cheaper than meat too!


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                        • Ikea Billy Bookcases / Furniture / 47 Readings / 44 Ratings
                          More +
                          11.03.2009 16:15
                          Very helpful



                          A great buy

                          The second I first set foot in an IKEA store I became, like many others, a huge fan. IKEA have hit the nail right on the head when it comes to providing good quality, modern stylish furniture at affordable prices. I'd say at least half of the furniture in my home is from IKEA and I've been very impressed with all of it, not least their Billy bookcases.

                          Currently ranging from prices as low as £20 right up to £240, there is a Billy bookcase to suit all budgets. Although they are very reasonably priced they are of very good quality. This is the thing which has kept me coming back to IKEA. I have a couple of these bookcases, both of which are predominantly full of very thick, heavy hardback books. In the past I've often experienced bookcases with shelves which start to bow under the weight of these books, but that simply isn't the case with the Billy bookcase which seem ready to tackle anything.

                          Of course coming from IKEA the bookcase is supplied to you flat packed, but they do come with easy (yes, that does say easy!) to follow instructions, so (dependent on size) you could be marvelling at your new bookcase in as little as half an hour.

                          Once you have assembled the basic carcass of the bookcase the other great thing is that you are free to position the shelves wherever you like as there are plenty of pre-drilled holes for you to choose from. This is an advantage over most regular bookcases if you own a lot of large books. Even better, if you want more shelves these can also be purchased separately for a reasonable price from the store.

                          I own masses of books, and recently when I realised that the top of my wardrobe was bowing due to the weight from my books I realised that it was time to invest in another of these bookcases. That's the great thing about the Billy range, they come in lots of different shapes and sizes, but these all fit together really well. Another advantage to these bookcases is that if you have more than one of them (of the same height) it is possible to attach them to each other using a small bit of metal at the top of the unit. This is very useful as it does make them more stable and prevent them from moving apart.

                          The other great thing about this range is that IKEA also sell an affordable extension to the bookcase which is simply attached to the top. This is a great option if your bookcase is full to bursting but you don't have room for a whole other bookcase. More recently they have also started selling a book/magazine rail to complement the range.

                          Although I've never personally used them, it is also possible to buy matching glass and wood finish doors for these bookcases should you wish to hide your literature away.

                          Currently there are four colour choices for this particular bookcase: birch veneer, medium brown, oak veneer and white. Obviously this isn't made of solid wood, but at this price you wouldn't expect it to be.

                          All in all this is an excellent sturdy, affordable modular unit which can be built to your own particular needs, and in my opinion is a great buy.


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                          • More +
                            30.01.2009 13:50
                            Very helpful



                            If you hair is damaged stick with the Tresemme for coloured hair

                            As some of you may have read in my earlier review of Herbal Essences hair dye, I have absolutely tortured my hair.

                            Being pretty thick, I always have to straighten it, and although where I can I'll usually try and let it part dry itself, eventually I'll usually resort to blow drying the last bit. When I'm feeling especially cruel, sometimes I'll blow dry it, straighten it, and then curl it. As you can probably tell my hair needs a lot of conditioning.

                            I'm a huge fan of Tresemme conditioner, and since the small godsend that is their big bottle of conditioner for coloured hair was released, have been pretty faithful to it (with the occasional bottle of herbal Essences, purely because it smell so damn good).

                            Up until recently the conditioner for coloured hair was the most in intensive Tresemme conditioner you could buy, so recently when I discovered this stuff on the shelf (which is allegedly a deeper conditioner) I was pretty happy and thought I'd give it a go.

                            The conditioner is available in 500ml and 900ml bottles, though I always tend to buy the larger ones due to my massive conditioner consumption and the fact that they are just better value. One 900ml bottle of this conditioner will set you back around £6, which is slightly more than the other same size conditioners in the range which range from about £4.50-£5. These are quite often on offer (imost commonly two for £6 or buy one get one free), so I tend to stock up and buy them then. Just make sure you don't buy a lot if you have to carry them, because they're pretty heavy.

                            Tresemme Thermal Recovery conditioner claims to replenish hair which has been subject to too much heat styling. It contains aloe vera and almond oil, and has a pleasant smell about it, much like the other Tresemme conditioners. The look of this conditioner is also similar, it is white, and fairly thick and creamy, though I think this isn't quite as thick as the coloured hair conditioner.

                            This product comes in a clear bottle with a red cap. I'm a big fan of clear bottles as you can see exactly how much of the conditioner remains so there isn't any guess work involved, and if you run out it's your own fault rather than the result of bad judgement.

                            What I'm not such a big fan of is the rather hard plastic that the bottles are made of. I've mentioned this in a couple of my other reviews, but I find it very irritating that I never seem to be able to get the last bit out of the bottle, and when I say the last bit, it's usually a fair amount that is stuck in there. I really don't think these bottles would be very good for people with arthritis or other dexterity problems as I struggle enough with them myself. What is equally annoying is that you can't just screw the cap off after leaving it upside down to drain to the bottom, so you really do have to squeeze it all out if you're determined to get at it (though I believe this is an almost impossible task).

                            When the time came to use the product, I squeezed a reasonably large amount into my hand as I have quite long hair, and expected a small miracle. I always leave conditioner on my hair for at least three or four minutes whilst I'm in the shower, and sometimes longer, so it had plenty of time to work its magic.

                            Unfortunately, I didn't get anything near the result I was anticipating. Usually after using Tresemme conditioner my hair is lovely and soft, and completely knot free. Sadly this wasn't the case this time, and if I'm honest my hair felt a bit wirey. After drying it the condition didn't feel much better, and I still had some knots in my hair which I never usually have. I've been using this for a while now so I have given it a fair chance to work, but I still don't believe my hair is any better for it.

                            All in all I was very disappointed with this product given how good I've found the other conditioners in the Tresemme range to be. Once I've finished the bottle (and that will take a while as they seem to last so long) I won't buy this again, I'll switch back to the one for coloured hair which I think is much better, and cheaper!

                            To summarise, it could be my hair type which doesn't work well with the conditioner, but personally I'd avoid this one


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                            • Abbey National / Bank / 49 Readings / 46 Ratings
                              More +
                              29.01.2009 11:43
                              Very helpful



                              Don't touch them with a barge pole, it really isn't worth the effort.

                              Today, The Times has published a Which? survey. Data received from 15,000 of their members detailing their opinions of the level of customer service in banks was collated. Unsurprisingly (I think) Abbey came out worst, so I've decided to share my experiences (and some of my family) with them.

                              I'll start with my experience.

                              Back in the summer of 2005 I opened a student account with Abbey. The conditions of a student account stipulate that any loans, grants, and so forth, should be paid into the account. This is all fine and well, and I did do this, but the number of letters I've had telling me that this is part of the conditions of the account is ridiculous.

                              Seemingly, the day you reach 14 weeks without depositing (student loans are received approx every 14 weeks), they get on your back straight away. This is even more ridiculous when money reaches the account the next day, and they send out a letter which may well have been drafted the day before money hits the account, but is sent out after it has been deposited. I'm sure they're slowly killing the planet with all their pointless letters. I seem to have got these almost religiously.

                              Even better, is the way that different parts of the company seemingly do not liase with each other in the slightest. Every year Abbey automatically increase the overdraft on student accounts. They send you a letter to tell you what they have done, and then I skip to the bank and put the money in my ISA. As you can imagine, I wasn't particularly happy when I got a letter dated later than the letter telling me about my overdraft increase, letting me know that I've exceeded my overdraft. Erm, no, I haven't, I've got written proof that you extended it before sending me this letter, are you idiots? Apparently so.

                              I seem to receive a steady flow of these completely redundant letters, and honestly can't wait to close the account.

                              Although I could continue about my experiences with the bank I won't, I'll share some of the Abbey initiated fun my family have had instead.

                              Last summer my sister also attempted to open a student account. Abbey are notoriously bad at closing accounts, but surely they should want to make opening one easy? Apparently not. After three months and multiple enquiries my sister was still waiting for a bank card and cheque book. That doesn't really qualify for good customer service in my opinion.

                              This was topped off for her when she was charged for being overdrawn (she didn't have an overdraft facility) days after she has paid cash in at a counter. Whilst after complaining she didn't have to pay this, what were they thinking charging here for being in credit in the first instance? After other bad experiences with the bank, needless to say this was the last straw. I believe she has asked to close the account, though I'm not sure whether they have actually done this without an argument yet.

                              Speaking of closing accounts, I'll move onto my mother.

                              In the summer my mum decided to switch her current account to another bank. Having filled out the forms at her new branch requesting her direct debits to be moved to her new account, after multiple tries she was repeatedly basically told that they wouldn't. Allegedly, the details provided by her new bank did not match the ones which Abbey held for her, or so the letter told her. She checked the details and resubmitted the form, only to have the same response.

                              By this point she was getting a bit frustrated, and decided to go into a branch. After waiting half and hour and basically being ignored, she was told that the bank would not consult people with queries after x o'clock. Needless to say my mother isn't the kind of person to let something like that go, and demanded to be seen. After another wait she showed them some ID and requested that they checked which details they held for her. As expected, the forms she has submitted were correct, and the details matched.

                              Having been fairly irritated by this point, she asked if she could have a contact number for the people who deal with this. No, of course she couldn't. In fact, she was told that the branch didn't even have the facility to get in touch with these people. At this point she was wondering what planted they seemed to be existing on.

                              After a very strongly worded letter I believe her direct debits were finally moved over. I'm not sure if she has succeeded in closing the account down yet, but I'm more than aware that she isn't the the only one to have had problems closing an Abbey account.

                              All in all I think this bank is awful and I have wanted to close my account for years. I decided not to on the grounds that my rent was paid from it, along with a direct debit, and to be honest I didn't really want faff about with changing them knowing what the bank are like with things like that.

                              Now the direct debit has ended, I've decided to spend the full three years paying off the 0% overdraft which I'm keeping in my ISA (I'm considering the interest to be compensation for their awful service), then I'll move my main account to Natwest who I've always been very happy with. I'm not opening any new direct debits with them so I won't have the same problems closing as my mother had.


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                              • More +
                                19.01.2009 12:43
                                Very helpful



                                A nice treat product

                                Every year without fail one of my friends or family will buy me a Body Shop gift set. I've been lucky enough to have received a couple of strawberry ones in the past, both of which have included a 75ml tube of this body polish.

                                Although 75ml does't sound like a lot, the tube is actually a reasonable size, and as you don't need to use a lot of the product it will last you a reasonable length of time. Obviously it depends how frequently you use the product, but you should be able to get at least a months use out of it.

                                The 75ml version of this product will set you back £4, but it is also available in a larger 200ml tube which is more expensive at £9, though if you use this regularly it is better value per ml so it is worth it in the long run.

                                The body polish is presented in a clear soft plastic tube. I particularly like this as not only are you able to see how much of the product remains, it is also very easy to squeeze out. This is one of my pet peeves with some harder plastic bottles *cough* Tresemme, there is nothing worse than not being able to get half of the product out at the end.

                                I have however found that if a lot of the product gets stuck around the hole it is almost impossible to squeeze out, so you need to either unblock it with a pin or screw off the cap and use it that way. I think this was (although I can't remember) probably my own fault as I may have not closed the cap fully which led to the product drying out and causing the blockage. That leads me on to my next point.

                                The packaging has a flip top which is all fine and well, but I usually struggle to open it with my hands and have to resort to opening it with my teeth. That isn't a huge problem, but there is nothing worse than getting the taste of this stuff in your mouth. It may well smell lovely, but it tastes disgusting! Obviously I'm not sitting there eating from the tube, but no matter how much I try I always seem to get a taste of it.

                                So, what does it actually do?

                                The product comes in gel form, and contains strawberry juice to nourish the skin and clean your pores. It also contains crushed walnut shells and kiwi seeds to exfoliate the skin, and finally organic honey to moisturise the skin.

                                A little of this will go quite a long way. It is easy to massage into the skin, and unsurprisingly has a smell of very sweet strawberries. My boyfriend doesn't particularly like the smell, but I don't think it's that offensive and obviously what people like will vary hugely. The gel foams up nicely and you will soon find yourself covered in little black kiwi seeds.

                                I have very dry skin (I have eczema), so unfortunately I seem to have quite a lot of dead skin cells very often - I know, it sounds gross :o(. This means I have to spend a lot of time exfoliating.

                                Personally, I find that this body polish will leave my skin feeling nicely moisturised and soft, and will perform some exfoliating function. This isn't really quite good enough for my skin, though I imagine this product would be absolutely fine for anyone with 'normal' skin.

                                To conclude, this is a nice product, but I'm a big salt scrub fan as I find it leaves my skin feeling so lovely and moisturised, and exfoliates very well, so I've never bought this product myself, and to be honest am unlikely to do so. However, if my skin were better I may buy this, and there is always the nice feeling you get from buying from the Body Shop and knowing that you're supporting community trade.


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                                • More +
                                  03.01.2009 22:11
                                  Very helpful



                                  I wouldn't touch them with a barge pole

                                  So, Orange. I'm not even really sure where to start, I guess the beginning is a good place.

                                  Back in May 2005 my friend was working in an Orange shop. I'd had enough of my old network, Virgin, because a signal of any description was almost impossible to achieve where I live, and so she lured me towards the student deal which Orange were doing at the time. For £25 a month I was offered 200 minutes, and 1000 texts, along with a 'free' phone.

                                  I set up my direct debit and happily scampered out of the shop with my new little Samsung D500, unaware of what the next 14 months would hold.

                                  I'll start with the positives... For the first time since owning a mobile phone, I was actually able to get a signal anywhere in my house. This was the main reason I'd decided to switch network, so it had passed the first test.

                                  Also, as I'm sure many of you are already aware, Orange have 'Orange Wednesday's'. This means that if you text an Orange number they will send you a code which will allow two people to see a film at participating cinemas for the price of one. That has to be a good thing... Though it was of course a better thing before they started to charge customers 50p to receive the text with the code.

                                  Now, the downside. Being someone who has never been a heavy mobile user, I always failed to use my full minute and text allowance. Occasionally I would send a picture message which I would be charged for in addition to my standard contract fee, but that was it. After several months I started to wonder why my bills were consistently around the £30 mark, surely I wasn't sending that many picture messages?

                                  Initially I wasn't particularly excited at the thought of looking through the eight or so pages of my itemised statement, but eventually I decided that it had to be done. It turned out that I wasn't going mad, but I was being charged for texts that I had sent despite being within my limit. This had been going on the entire time, so I called Orange customer services who (after being in a queuing system for what seemed like an age, it was at least 20 minutes) informed me that texts were being 'trapped' in the transition from one month to the next. I didn't think it was that hard to tell when a month ends and a new one starts, but apparently for Orange it is. Either way, I was refunded in my next months bill, but this continued to happen and was never properly resolved.

                                  Following a break up with my then boyfriend (who was my main motivation for getting a contract phone since he used to text me so much I was unable to keep up with the cost on a pay as you go sim), I decided that when my contract was up I would cancel and go back to pay as you go.

                                  Some people may consider this to be my fault as a young naive person who had never had a contract phone before, but I'm going to mention it anyway. As I had signed a 12 month contract, I assumed that when this was close to expiration Orange would at least contact me to inform me of this, and give me the option to continue or cancel. This didn't happen, so I (possibly stupidly) assumed that after 12 months I would be switched back to pay as you go. After all, I'd signed a 12 month contract. When my 12 months of car insurance is almost up the insurer will write to me and give me a choice whether to continue or not, why should this be different for a phone?

                                  Apparently it was, and when I called Orange after 12 months I was informed that I'd have to give them a months notice to cancel. To me this was a huge waste of £25, but I had no choice but to accept this. Finally, when this notice period had been given, I called Orange, and after another long wait on the phone was told that no more money would be taken.

                                  In the belief that what I'd been told was correct I closed my current account as this was the last direct debit to come from it (I'd since opened a student account which was now my primary bank account). Needless to say I was a bit irritated when I got a letter from Orange later stating that they could not take £5 something from my account. If they were going to take a further payment, surely the person I'd spoken to previously should have told me this when I'd enquired? Eventually I sent them a cheque, went onto pay as you go for a few months, and soon ditched them for o2 who have been pretty much perfect so far.

                                  To be honest Orange should count themselves lucky I've given them two stars. I've only really done this in the hope that I'm the minority and other customers have received a better level of service. I do have a friend who would likely marry Orange if he could, but he probably isn't your 'average' user either, and I think his opinion is squewed by the number of upgrades he has been given (probably because he has such high phone bills).

                                  To conclude, I wouldn't touch Orange with a barge pole. I don't care if they have the best deal on the market, their customer service is so awful that I'd never go back to them.Or


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