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Pointress

Pointress
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Member since: 06.08.2013

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    • Aqua Sana / Spa / 15 Readings / 12 Ratings
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      23.02.2015 21:14
      Very helpful
      (Rating)
      1 Comment

      Advantages

      • "Nice cafe and friendly staff"
      • "Some good packages"
      • "Wonderful facilities"

      Disadvantages

      • "No wifi"

      A little piece of heaven in Woburn Forest

      The latest addition to Center Parcs is Woburn Forest, easy to reach off Junction 13 of the M1. Its Aqua Sana Spa is quite a place.

      ~~~The facilities~~~
      Wow! This is some spa – actually it’s really 6 spas in one. All the spa areas are similar in that they have at least one sauna, a steam room, a shower and some form of relaxation or meditation area, but have a slightly different theme:
      * The Mineral & Gemstone Spa - uses the power of minerals to soothe soreness, detox pores, and melt stress away
      * The Salt Spa - designed to help you detox and uses salt to soothe and invigorate. My favourite area with its Salt Sauna promising himalayan salt and ionised air to open up pores and to calm tensions, relieve worries and refocus your energy
      * The Sensory Spa - the smallest area with a beautiful looking aqua meditation room.
      * The Fire & Ice Spa – all about alternative hot and cold sensations with a beautiful relaxation lounge – an airy glass fronted room with lovely loungers and blankets facing a large modern fireplace complete with logs and flickering flames.
      * The Herbal Spa with herbal inhalation baths and sauna
      * The Blossom Spa including a steam room, a heat room and rain walk.

      There’s also an Outdoor Spa Pool – a decent sized infinity pool which was a real pleasure with lots of jets and bubbles to enjoy. Talking of bubbles, there are also Reflexology Footbaths to give your feet a reflexology work out.

      Other facilities: There are plenty of places to just sit and relax – inside and out and a pretty zen type garden behind the pool. A bank of waterbeds proved irresistibly relaxing!

      There’s a nice little café bar where service was friendly and helpful. The paninis we had for lunch were delicious.

      ~~~Treatments~~~
      All the usual spa treatments are available – a range of facials, massages, body wraps etc – and an express treatment are for pedicures, manicures, etc. Of course like all good spas there’s a shop selling lots of beauty stuff.

      ~~~Packages~~~
      A spa day for one comes in at £69 but if you book a spa day for 2, it works out at £55 per person. This gives you access to the spa from 9 to 6 and includes lunch as well as a coffee and pastry on arrival. Full details of day packages and overnight stays are on the Aqua Sana website.

      Recommended?
      =============
      YES!. Just one negative, no wifi or mobile phone signal. I know most people go to escape and I quite agree that you don't want to wander around the spa attached to your phone but there are situations when you need to contact the outside world.

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        05.02.2015 17:31
        Very helpful
        (Rating)
        4 Comments

        Advantages

        • "Overall disappointing performance"
        • "Produced anaemic looking sandwiches"

        Disadvantages

        • "Can be stored upright and cord can be tidied away"
        • "Easy maintenance"

        Not so much toasted as steamed

        The family is partial to the occasional toastie. When it came to replacing our previous model after years of sterling service, I wanted something simple, compact and was only looking for a model that produced two straightforward sandwiches. The Russell Hobbs 17936 Sandwich Toaster seemed to fit the bill.

        ~~In operation~~
        The toaster comes with clear instructions on how to use it together with some interesting filling suggestions (peaches and custard anyone?).

        There is clear power-on light which glows red as soon as the sandwich toaster is plugged in and the power switched on. The ready green light glows as soon as the toaster comes up to the right temperature.

        To make the toasties you are advised to use a dessertspoon of filling per sandwich. Too much will ooze out. The bread (medium sliced recommended) needs to get cut to overlap the plates by 0.5 cm all round. You are also advised not to use low fat spreads as they may burn and damage the non-stick surfaces. When the toasties are ready to go (buttered side out), you simply place on the bottom cooking plate and close the lid, squeezing the handles together and secure with the locking latch. The sandwiches take between 2 and 4 minutes to toast.

        So that’s the theory. In practice, the results are so so. There’s a lot of wastage as you need to cut the bread to size and the latch on the handle sare quite fiddly. Even using a small amount, the filling always oozes out in the top left hand corner.

        The sandwich does come out in a pretty shape – two well defined triangles. However even after cooking for more than 4 minutes, the bread doesn’t go a lovely crispy gold colour that my old machine used to produce. The sandwiches certainly taste better than they look (which is just as well) but in my opinion the bread is a little on the soggy side.

        ~~Care and maintenance~~
        The plates aren’t removable which I thought would make cleaning difficult but one of the plus points of this machine is that the non stick surfaces really do appear to be non stick. Even when the cheese has leaked out of the sandwich, the plates wipe clean easily with a damp cloth or sponge.

        ~~Price~~
        £19.99 is the RRP but the toaster is widely available from other stores and supermarkets at a lot less.

        ~~Overall:~~
        On the positive, the toaster is very reasonably priced, is easy to clean and is nice and compact. On the negative, I’ve yet to make a toastie where there’s been no leakage and the finished result looks anaemic.

        The hungry horde have devoured the sandwiches greedily and not commented on what I think are rather inferior looking sandwiches. So although in terms of my customers, the sandwiches this toaster produces get the thumbs up, for me the overall performance is distinctly average.

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        • It's A Wonderful Life (DVD) / DVD / 16 Readings / 16 Ratings
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          29.01.2015 18:15
          Very helpful
          (Rating)
          4 Comments

          Advantages

          • "Lovely story"
          • "Well directed and acted"

          Disadvantages

          • "You may shed a tear"

          A true classic

          'S wonderful! 'S marvellous!

          The film opens with a conversation between twinkling stars in the evening sky discussing a problem brewing down on earth. They have heard children praying for the father, George Bailey who believes that his family would be better off with him dead. George’s business is about to go down the pan leaving his family with nothing.

          Joseph, the head angel decides to send down Clarence – an Angel Second Class who is yet to earn his wings – to save George. The senior angels replay the main points of George’s life so that that Clarence will understand what makes George tick. This starts with George at age 12 saving his younger brother’s life when he falls through the ice and takes and Clarence to the present day Christmas Eve when George’s world, through no fault of his own, collapses around him leaving him in a desperate state facing certain financial ruin and possibly prison. Can Clarence bring George back from the brink?

          My view
          ======
          I thoroughly enjoyed this film. For me, it has really stood the test of time. Yes, it’s in black and white; yes, there are no whizzy special effects but it held my attention throughout its 130 something minutes.

          Although nominated, James Stewart didn’t get an Oscar for his portrayal of George. However I thought he gave a brilliant performance combining elements of comedy with deep distress and anguish. The director, Frank Capra, really brought out the best Stewart. Although incredibly beautiful, Donna Reed, is highly believable in the girl next door role who marries Goerge. The chemistry between Reed and Stewart seems very real. Apparently part of one of their kiss scenes had to be cut do that the film would get pass the film censors.

          Lionel Barrymore (Drew's great uncle) is great as the nasty Henry Potter. The character is in stark contrast to the two more comedic characters - Uncle Billy played by Thomas Mitchell and Clarence played by the British Henry Travers. This is Clarence’s chance to get his angel wings so he can’t mess it up but his first attempts to get George to reconsider his position don’t work. Travers makes a charming Clarence – a grandfatherly figure who needs reassurance from Angel Joseph that he’s doing okay.

          The film is a snapshot of American life in a small town in the late 1940s. It could have been saccharine sweet but it isn’t. There’s a darker side. Potter shows the darker, greedier side of the American dream – the make money at all costs.

          Overall
          =====
          I can understand why this film has captivated audiences, young and old, over the years. It’s got everything going for it – a great story, some wonderful characters and superb acting. I was enthralled by this film from start and yes, I did find a tear rolling down my check at the end.

          Definitely 5 out of 5

          ++A longer version of this review is published on Ciao++

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          • P&O Cruises / More Travel / 10 Readings / 10 Ratings
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            26.01.2015 22:16
            Very helpful
            (Rating)
            2 Comments

            Advantages

            • "Interesting places to see"
            • "Masses to do"
            • "Amazing Food"
            • "Exceptional service"

            Disadvantages

            • None

            A wonderful life on the ocean waves.

            This year Mr P and I took our first cruise. Although lots of family and friends had cruised and raved about it, we were quite unsure as to whether cruising was for us. Turns out it is!

            ~~Where to sail~~
            The world is pretty much your oyster. There are a huge number of routes varying in length and destinations. There are 7 ships in the P&O fleet and on the recommendation of friends we picked the Arcadia, an adult only ship. Classified as mid-sized, it’s by no means small, capable accommodating over 2000 passengers.

            ~~Accommodation~~
            Obviously, the cost rises (quite significantly) with the grade of cabin. At the very least, I’d advise anyone to go for an outside cabin if they possibly can. Dinner companions had opted for an inside cabin and found their cabin really claustrophobic. The webcam view from the bow of the boat broadcast on one of the tv channels became their window onto the world for their time on board.

            ~~Life on board~~
            I took numerous books to read; I hardly looked at one.

            Food and Drink: You could eat all day if you wanted to! The food and service was really quite exceptional in all of the restaurants with a wide choice from the self service restaurant to East, Atul Kochhar’s oriental restaurant where the food was sublime. Atul Kochhar was actually on board during our cruise and did a great cookery demonstration in the main theatre.

            There were lots of places to have a drink too including a couple of piano bars, a pub and our all-time favourite, the Crow’s Nest where we worked our way through the cocktail menu.

            So much to do: You could exercise in the well equipped gym, swim in one of the two pools or use the sports court. You could be pampered in the spa, spend your money in the casino, be entertained in the huge theatre, take in a film in the boutique cinema, learn how to dance, do a jigsaw in the library and of course do a little shopping. There was something going on all the time and all the day’s activities were listed in the daily Horizon paper which was delivered to the cabin every evening.

            ~~Going ashore~~
            Clearly this will depend on your route but there are lots of options for trips and excursions. For those used to independent travel, you may want to just do your own thing.

            The port guides give all the details of whether or not there is a shuttle bus available and the distances to the main towns and tourist attractions. Our experience with excursions was a bit hit and miss so my advice would be to choose carefully.

            ~~Overall score~~
            From the moment we arrived at Southampton at the start of our cruise to the moment we returned, I would give P&O a big fat 5 out of 5.

            ++A longer version of this review is published on Ciao – 500 words is just not enough!++

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            • More +
              24.01.2015 18:00
              Very helpful
              (Rating)
              1 Comment

              Advantages

              • "Nothing too complicated"
              • Inexpensive

              Disadvantages

              • "Not a fan of the ceramic soleplate"

              Any old iron

              This is a basic model and comes at a basic price. I never have much time to shop around for irons. When one goes, I tend to grab one from the supermarket shelf as I do my weekly shop. This time it was Waitrose and the price I paid was £15.50.

              ~~Appearance~~
              This is a lightweight iron that at first glance looks reasonably attractive. On closer examination it’s let down by a tacky looking temperature control dial. The controls are printed on what looks like white paper stuck on to the dial.
              3.5 out of 5

              ~~Performance~~
              The performance is pretty reasonable and it’s very easy to use. The iron is quick to come to temperature. The iron adjusts the amount of steam automatically. I’m not sure how it does this, but it seems to.

              As with many irons it has a spray and shot of steam function. The first few times I used the iron, it emitted a rather strange whirring sound when I used the steam function but this seems to have disappeared with extended use.

              The soleplate is ceramic and the first time I used it, the soleplate seemed quite sticky. It no longer does and although I wouldn’t describe it as smooth, I do find it easy to use. Most importantly it irons out all the creases well and I have no problem with getting the finish I’m after.
              3.5 out of 5

              ~~Cleaning & Maintenance~~
              This is a low maintenance iron. Drain after use and wipe off any remaining moisture when the plate has cooled. The iron should be stored on its heel to avoid any corrison or damage to the soleplate.

              It has a self clean function which you should use at least once a month to prevent scale build up. The function is really easy to use with a white cleaning button. You fill the reservoir to the maximum point. Set the temperature to maximum and when it’s up to temperature hold the iron over a basin with the soleplate down and depress the cleaning button. You then need to gently move the iron to and fro so that water and steam escape from the soleplate along with any scale.

              The advice for keeping the soleplate clean is to wipe after use and if any spots do appear, clean with a little vinegar. I have tried using vinegar but actually I think something like Lakeland white wonder cleaning cream is much more likely to do the trick.
              4 out of 5

              ~~Overall~~
              Not a ringing endorsement but it’s an okay iron. 3 seems a bit mean, while 4 may give the impression that it’s a better an iron that it really is. However, given the price I think 4 out of 5 is the fairer mark. After all what can you really expect for £15.50?
              4 out of 5

              ++A longer version of this review is published on Ciao++

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              • More +
                23.01.2015 15:04
                Very helpful
                (Rating)
                1 Comment

                Advantages

                • "believable characters"
                • "a great yarn well told"

                Disadvantages

                • "difficult to put down"

                Can you keep a secret?

                This is a great book and long enough to really get your teeth into.

                ~~The plot~~
                The book centres around the story of three women – Laurel, Dolly and Vivien – and starts in the 1960s when as a teenager Laurel sees her mother kill a stranger who turns up at their Suffolk farmhouse. The police believe that Laurel’s mother acted in self defence when attacked by a man who had fallen on hard times. The story then leaps ahead to the present time when Laurel, now a successful actress, is visiting her mother on the eve of her 90th birthday. The family gather to mark the occasion and to care for her in her final days.

                ~~My view~~
                The Secret Keeper is the sort of book that is hard to put down. The characters are compelling and just as you think you have an idea of what drove Dorothy to kill the unwelcome visitor, another layer of complexity is revealed and the plot takes a new twist.

                The book is divided into three parts to reflect the perspectives of Laurel, Dolly (Dorothy) and Vivien (a friend of Dolly’s) although Laurel’s investigations lead the reader through the entire book. The timeline shifts too – flitting mainly between 1941, 1961 and 2011 but also going back to 1938 and 1929, years which were key to the development of Dolly and Vivien respectively.

                The characters like the plot have many layers which are slowly revealed throughout the story. The characterisation has real depth and it’s easy to visualise the main players. The settings are all very believable too particularly the war years. The difficulties and frustrations of living through the Blitz come across really well and I was quickly drawn into the lives of Dorothy, Vivien and Jimmy and found myself willing Laurel on in her quest to get to unravel her mother’s past.
                The Secret Keeper is a great family saga with intrigue and mystery at its heart. It’s a long book. The hardback runs to nearly 600 pages but it held my attention throughout and kept me guessing. At a couple of points through the book I thought I had worked it out but on the next page there would be another twist which got me guessing again.

                A real page turner I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Definitely 5 out of 5.

                ~~The author~~
                Kate Morton is an Australian author. She lived in London for a few months in 2008 and was got inspiration for the book when she took a walking tour of the city with a guide who brought the Blitz to life. The Secret Keeper is her fourth book – her others are The House at Riverton, The Forgotten Garden and The Distant Hours all of which I also thoroughly recommend.

                Amazon (other retailers are available) prices = £3.59 Kindle edition, £11.59 hardcover, £5.59 paperback

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                • More +
                  21.01.2015 23:00
                  Very helpful
                  (Rating)

                  Advantages

                  • "Simple but impressive"
                  • "Shakespearean connections"

                  Disadvantages

                  • None

                  To be or not to be in Helsingor

                  The main reason for a tourist to visit Helsingør (Elsinore) is to visit Kronborg Castle, a UNESCO Heritage site. It is probably the most famous of Denmark’s castles because of its connection with Hamlet.

                  ~~Practical Information~~
                  Check the website for opening hours and prices but expect to pay around £8 (80 DKK) for an adult ticket. We actually got a Copenhagen card for our stay in Copenhagen last summer which gave us free admission to the majority of Copenhagen’s tourist sites plus travel.

                  Getting there:
                  We took the Coast Line from Copenhagen Central Station to Elsinore Station. The castle is a about a 12 minute walk from the station. It was an easy journey (we found the train system to be pretty impressive) and took about 45 minutes.

                  ~~To be or not to be~~
                  The figure of Hamlet first appears more than 800 years ago in the History of the Danes but it was Shakespeare who first made the connection between Hamlet and Kronborg when he wrote his famous play. Now Hamlet is performed at the castle every summer on an open air stage in the courtyard.

                  ~~What we saw~~
                  There are a number of guided tours available including one called In Hamlet’s Footsteps. We took the highlight-tour - a short introduction to the most important sights of Kronborg Castle lasting ½ hour, free with a valid ticket.

                  The castle and its fortications are built on the spit of North Sealand, at the entrance of the Øresund separating Denmark from Sweden which is only a 20 min ferry ride away. The first castle was built on the site in the 1420s but it was Frederik II who started the work on the Renaissance castle in 1514. The castle has four wings around a large courtyard. A fire destroyed all but the chapel in 1629 but the castle was pretty much restored to its original state. It was only used by the Royal Family for a relatively short space of time. It was taken over by the military in the 1780s and they stayed until the 1930s.

                  Taking the tour gave us a really useful introduction to the Castle and we left much better informed than when we had arrived. The tour only lasts 30 minutes and is a quick canter through the main areas including the chapel and the long ballroom. We were then able to explore again at a more leisurely pace. Because of its use by the military, the castle isn’t full of the normal paraphernalia that one tends to associate with castles and stately homes. In fact the interior of castle feels quite austere and empty. That said the Great hall is still impressive and perhaps because it’s not full of clutter you do really get a feeling for its immense size.
                  If you taking a trip to Copenhagen and have the time to get out Helsingør and Kronborg Slot, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

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                • More +
                  18.01.2015 12:25
                  Very helpful
                  (Rating)
                  1 Comment

                  Advantages

                  Disadvantages

                  A garden for all seasons

                  Until recently, I’ve never really taken an interest in matters horticultural and even now wouldn’t describe myself as a gardener. I do love pottering in the garden though and more experienced gardener friends talk highly of the Royal Horticultural Society’s flagship gardens at Wisley. So when as our daughter moved to Woking, Mr P and I thought it worth dropping by on a recent visit. We are so glad we did. It’s a real joy and we’ve been back several times since.


                  ~~Where to find the gardens~~

                  RHS Wisley is very close to Woking and is well signposted from the M25 – just follow the brown tourist flower signs. There is plenty of parking space with disabled parking and dedicated family parking close to the garden entrance.


                  ~~History of the Gardens~~

                  Wisley was given to the RHS in 1903 by Thomas Hanbury a wealthy Quaker. He had bought the estate from George Fergusson Wilson who as well as being a businessman and inventor was keen gardener and a Treasurer of the Society. Wilson’s original concept was to establish an experimental garden to make 'difficult plants grow successfully'.


                  ~~What you’ll see~~

                  Wisley is a 240 acre site so there’s lots to see!. It is certainly inspirational with beautifully planted borders, wooded areas, grasslands, rose gardens, miniature gardens and glasshouses.


                  Highlights include the Glasshouse, a huge structure apparently equal in size to 10 tennis course. It has three climatic zones creating tropical, moist temperate and dry temperate habitats. As you can imagine it’s full of tall palms, hibiscus, orchids and all sorts of impressive ferns and greenery.


                  Whatever time of the year you go, there is plenty to see. Daffodils in spring followed by magnolias and rhododendrons in May, summer flowers and roses, the wonderful colours of autumn foliage and even in winter there’s plenty to see with a winter walk highlighting points of interest.


                  ~~Retail therapy~~

                  The Wisley Shop has a great gardening book section (apparently one of the best in the world) and has all the usual garden centre type of gifts – card, jewellery, scarves, biscuits etc. If you’re looking for the plants, there is of course The Wisley Plant Centre with, as you might expect, a large range of trees, shrubs and plants.


                  ~~Where you can eat~~

                  Well there’s lots of choice for places to eat too. Our favourite is the Food Hall featuring Wisley grown produce. The Coffee Shop which is actually outside the garden is open to non-paying visitors.


                  ~~Access~~

                  The gardens are largely accessible by wheelchair and there is a recommend route for wheelchair users. There are a few areas where access would be difficult but for the most part there are even paths although some may be a little steep. Wheelchairs and a small number of mobility scooters are available although I would advise checking in advance.


                  ~~Recommended~~
                  Absolutely. 5 out of 5.
                  RHS Garden Wisley, Woking, Surrey, GU23 6QB
                  https://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley

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                  • More +
                    17.01.2015 16:33
                    Very helpful
                    (Rating)

                    Advantages

                    • "Good app tour"
                    • "Lots to see"

                    Disadvantages

                    • None

                    The ultimate summer house

                    ~~Finding the place~~
                    Rosenborg Castle is located in the King's Gardens, easy walking distance from Nørreport Station. Public transport in Copenhagen is excellent although the main tourist attractions are surprisingly not well signposted. You definitely need a map to find your way.

                    ~~Entrance fees~~
                    Open times vary according to the time of year so check the website. Admission for adults works out at about £10 but anyone visiting Copenhagen might want to consider getting a Copenhagen card which gives you free admission to the majority of Copenhagen’s tourist sites plus travel

                    ~~What you will see~~
                    Rosenborg Castle is a very pretty castle set in attractive gardens – the lavender and roses were in full bloom while we were there in June. The castle stands out with its tall towers and leaded windows giving it a fairy tale appearance. The Castle was commissioned by Christian IV as a summer house in his newly completed King’s Garden in the early 1600s. It was used as a royal residence for about 100 years and then became home to the Royal Collections. As such the castle is packed full of paintings, famous tapestries and strange curiosities as well as the Danish crown jewels.

                    Rosenborg offers a tour guide app which you can easily use on a smartphone. There is a free wifi service and once online you can download the app which guides you through the castle. This is well worth doing. I did lose my wifi connection a couple of times and had to restart the app but other than that, the app worked well and was extremely informative and interesting.

                    ~~Things to look out for~~
                    There are three floors to explore plus the basement Treasury which houses the crown jewels.

                    The Knights Hall has some impressive tapestries and the coronation chairs guarded by three silver lions. Off the main hall are a couple of small rooms or ante-chambers with cabinets jammed pack with precious glass and porcelain. All rather ostentatious and in stark contrast to the display of the Crown Jewels are in the final section of the Treasury. Okay so they are not as impressive as their British counterpart but I rather liked them and seemed much more accessible. They have a simplicity about them that rather sums up the Danish approach to their monarchy. Not ones for pomp, there was no formal coronation for the present Queen. Instead the Prime Minister made an announcement of her accession from the balcony of one of the other Royal palaces. One can’t imagine that happening in Britain.

                    ~~Recommended?~~
                    Absolutely. I really enjoyed this Castle. It’s full of interesting ‘stuff’ and just the right size – more than enough to hold one’s interest, but not so large that it’s overwhelming. You should allow at least 2 hours to do it justice, more if you want to enjoy the gardens. Well worth a visit and it gets 5 out of 5 from me.

                    **A longer version of this review is on Ciao.**

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                  • More +
                    16.01.2015 10:41
                    Very helpful
                    (Rating)

                    Advantages

                    • "Great little cafe"
                    • "Interesting museum"

                    Disadvantages

                    • "Poor mobility access"

                    Combined with a nice cuppa, makes a lovely outing

                    78 Derngate and The Dining Room Restaurant are now closed but reopen for 2015 at the beginning of February

                    ~~A brief history~~
                    78 Derngate was the only Mackintosh domestic commission outside of Scotland. It’s in the middle of Northampton just down the road from and the Royal & Derngate Theatres so just a short walk from the theatre car park. From the outside, it still looks like a typical early-nineteenth century brick terrace house but Mackintosh was invited to remodel the house in 1916. Since then the property has changed hands several times before eventually being taken over by the council and the 78 Derngate Northampton Trust. After extensive restoration, it opened to the public in 2003.

                    ~~Looking round~~
                    Tours are available but having donned the compulsory blue plastic oversocks for our shoes, we made our own way around. There are helpful guides in each room which explain the changes made by Mackintosh starting in the kitchen at the bottom of house and finally ending up in the bathroom and bedroom on the top floor. Everything has been painstakingly restored with reference to plans and photos and in many cases the original pieces of furniture have been found.

                    The original building is now linked with the house next door which houses an exhibition gallery. A new staircase runs between the two houses with a 4-storey glass cabinet with exhibits relating to Macintosh. We could have lingered longer but afternoon tea beckoned. My other half was relieved that this also meant there was no time to look at the little museum shop but a quick glance through the door showed that, as you might expect, there was a selection of Mackintosh designed jewellery and other memorabilia.

                    ~~And on to tea~~
                    The website warns visitors to book in advance and clearly you need to. The tea room is small and when we were there chock-a-block. The service was friendly – and hit just the right mark. The restaurant offers a range of sandwiches and light bites but we had booked in for afternoon tea. Full afternoon tea was £16.95 per person or there are options to add a glass of Pimms or prosecco. Compared to other afternoon teas we thought this very reasonable. It was absolutely delicious with two 3 tier trays laden with savoury and sweet goodies. You get so much and we took home what we couldn’t eat in two full boxes!.

                    ~~Access~~
                    The museum only has partial mobility access. The ground floor reception area, shop, atrium and into The Dining Room is on one level but you need to navigate a fairly narrow staircase to get to the other floors in the museum. There is a lift but this only gives access to the disabled toilet and exhibition gallery.

                    ~~Recommended?~~
                    This was a great way to spend an afternoon. The museum is interesting and if you’re into Rennie Mackintosh well worth a visit in its own right. The tea however made the occasion very special.

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                  • JBL On Stage Micro / PC Speaker / 10 Readings / 10 Ratings
                    More +
                    13.01.2015 19:04
                    Very helpful
                    (Rating)

                    Advantages

                    • "Highly portable"
                    • "Good sound"
                    • "Nice looking"
                    • "Has stood the test of time"

                    Disadvantages

                    • "Battery door comes off too easily"

                    A decent portable speaker dock

                    Four years ago I was stuck as to what to get my daughter and son for Christmas. Eventually a brainwave struck when I realised that they both could do with a speaker dock for their iPod and iPhones. John Lewis is my retailer of choice for most things so after a quick tour of the John Lewis website, I decided on JBL On Stage which was reasonably priced and seemed to have good reviews. At the time the latest version was the micro II and I paid around £69.

                    The techie bit:
                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                    Compatibility: All docking versions of the iPod (including iPod nano G3, iPod classic, iPod touch and iPhone), MP3 and CD players, and desktop and laptop computers (all platforms)
                    Frequency response: 70Hz – 20kHz
                    Transducers: Two JBL Odyssey 25mm transducers
                    Connectors: Main connection – iPod and iPhone docking connector; auxiliary connection – 3.5mm stereo mini jack
                    Battery: 4 x AAA, the remote takes a CR2025
                    Power: 6V DC, 1.5A
                    Dimensions: (Diameter x H): 150mm x 38mm
                    Weight: 0.3kg

                    My experience
                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                    Despite our best efforts to encourage him to set up home on his own, our son is still living with us at the ripe old age of 24. So when I needed a portable docking station in my own bedroom I remembered the one that was probably languishing in the next room. Much to my surprise I was able to find to not only find the main speaker dock without too much danger to life or limb, I also found the mains adapter and remote. I plugged it in, put in my ipod and low and behold with a new battery in the remote, it worked!

                    First off, it’s a nice looking speaker dock. It doesn’t take up much room and is very light. My only complaint is the circular battery door which is underneath the speaker system. Although it has a locking mechanism, it doesn’t really work so the battery door very easily detaches itself from the base.

                    It’s very easy to use. It comes with a couple of adapters, but no auxiliary audio cables if you are connecting to a non Apple device. There’s a power button on the back of the unit and a green LED light indicates when the unit it on. There are two small buttons to adjust the volume – use the + to go up and the – to go down. If you press both, the unit will mute. The remote has all the usual controls – volume, pause and mute, rewind and fast forward, scroll up and down, iPod/iPhone menu and select.

                    For a portable unit, the sound quality is pretty good. It doesn’t compare with a larger Bose or Klipsch docking station but as a smaller unit for moving around the house or taking on holiday it’s ideal.

                    Still available on ebay at around £25-£30.

                    ======
                    This review has been updated from one first published on Ciao.

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                  • More +
                    06.12.2014 11:55
                    Very helpful
                    (Rating)

                    Advantages

                    • "Fast absorbing"
                    • "Natural and paraben free"
                    • "A little goes a long way"

                    Disadvantages

                    • None

                    Have you had your oats?

                    Aveeno
                    ======
                    Aveeno is a company started by two American brothers in 1945 and has since become part of the Johnson & Johnson brand. It’s a brand I’d not really come across but have seen some good reviews of their natural products so thought I would like to try one. Since I go through an enormous amount of hand cream, I thought I’d give their hand cream a whirl.

                    The wonders of oats
                    =================
                    Apparently the brothers came up with natural additive containing colloidal which is very finely milled oatmeal. It seems that oats have lots of skin care benefits. They moisturise, soothe, protect, restore a normal pH balance and cleanse.

                    The hand cream
                    =============
                    The hand cream comes in s 75ml tube so great for popping into the handbag. What is slightly different about this hand cream is that it claims to form a ‘protective glove’ that lasts through hand washing and is clinically proven to moisturise skin for up to 24 hours. I was a bit sceptical about this claim but actually it does seem to keep my hands feeling soft and hydrated most of the day. Usually I reapply my hand cream throughout the day but with this I find I don’t need to. I don’t go 24 hours though; I will often apply once in the morning before I go to work and then in the evening after I have down the clearing up after dinner.

                    It’s fast absorbing and has a non‐greasy formula so I can get on with things as soon as I’ve rubbed in the cream which is a nice thick (but not too thick) consistency. It is supposed to be fragrance free but to be there is a faint smell of almonds.

                    For those who like to know:
                    ======================
                    The cream is paraben free and the full list of all ingredients is: Aqua, Glycerin, Distearyldimonium Chloride, Isopropyl Palmitate, Paraffinum Liquidum, Cetyl Alcohol, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Dimethicone, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Flour, Paraffin, Cera Microcristallina, Stearyl Alcohol, Myristyl Alcohol, Isopropyl Alcohol, Benzyl Alcohol, Sodium Chloride

                    Price
                    =====
                    There are cheaper hand creams on the market but because I don’t have to apply so frequently, it still gives good value.

                    Currently on offer for £3.30 at Waitrose; or at Boots for £5.45 (but you get it on a 3 for 2 deal)

                    Recommended?
                    =============
                    Yes definitely. This is a great hand cream that goes a long way. 5 out of 5.

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                  • Boots No7 Skin Illuminator / Make Up / 12 Readings / 12 Ratings
                    More +
                    04.12.2014 16:07
                    Very helpful
                    (Rating)
                    1 Comment

                    Advantages

                    • "Two shades"
                    • "Natural look"

                    Disadvantages

                    • "Brush can get a bit messy"

                    Illuminating my cheekbones

                    Face illuminators – the theory
                    =======================

                    There are so many cosmetic products know – serums, moisturisers, blemish balms, colour correctors, concealer and that’s before you even think foundation, powder and blusher. Now it appears there are face illuminators which I need to factor into my regime. My friendly beauty therapist is not wrong when she advises me that these days it’s all about layering.

                    From what I gather face illuminators are used to accentuate facial features and give the skin a natural-looking glow. So for instance you can apply illuminate down the centre of the nose and a darker shade of make-up to the edges to make a large honker look smaller.

                    No7 Skin Illuminator Radiance Boosting Beauty Fluid
                    ===============================================
                    The standard size illuminator comes in a 30 ml tube which has a built in brush. It promises to give ‘a fantastic radiance boosting finish, leaving you with gorgeous skin’. Particles of iridescent shimmer reflect the light resulting in a perfectly healthy glow.

                    The fluid is hypo-allergenic.

                    How to apply
                    ===========
                    Brush on alone or under foundation:.
                    Step One: Shake before use
                    Step Two: To use, turn the tube neck to the ON position then gently squeeze a small amount through the brush, wiping any excess on the back of your hand.
                    Step Three; Turn the tube to the OFF position then stroke over parts of the face and neck you wish to highlight. Always remember to turn the tube neck to the OFF position after use.
                    Step Four: To clean the brush carefully wipe with a clean tissue after use, do not rinse with water.

                    But is it any good?
                    ==============
                    Company magazine put this Boots product in their top 10 illuminators and I do think it’s rather good.

                    My first experience of this was when I got a small trial tube in a Boots No 7 promotional give away. This didn’t have an applicator so I applied with a finger tip and smoothed in using a cosmetic sponge. I do like the full size tube with a brush although I think there was less wastage with my little 10 ml tube which is also great for popping into small cosmetic purses.

                    I tend to apply to the top of my cheekbones and leave it at that. I do like the effect but tend to only use it when I’m going out in the evening or for a special event during the day. I’d feel I was trying too hard if I wore it every day for work!

                    It comes in two shades – pink and peach – and I use the peach which I think makes my skin appear a little warmer. I’m not sure that I’d go as far as to say I look radiant when I’ve got it on but it does give a natural glow.

                    It’s not an essential but definitely a nice to have.

                    £11 for 30 ml but currently there’s a nice giveway if you buy two No 7 cosmetic products.

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                    • More +
                      01.12.2014 19:04
                      Very helpful
                      (Rating)
                      1 Comment

                      Advantages

                      • "Lasts well"
                      • Warm

                      Disadvantages

                      • Expensive
                      • "Hard to get hold of these days"

                      Sadly no longer daring, audacious or passionate

                      Magnifique
                      ==========

                      I thought I was a real Dior girl, but then I remembered that I also rather like Poeme and Tresor by Lancome. To that list I now add Magnifique.

                      Mr P. bought me a gift set (Gatwick duty free) as a carefully thought out birthday present a few years ago (ha ha!). I’m not complaining too much as assisted by my daughter, he selected a Magnifique duo – a 30 ml spray bottle with a smaller 5 ml travel size companion. I really appreciate having the two bottles. I like to take my perfume with me when I’m out for the day in case I need a refresh but don’t’ want to lug a great heavy bottle with me. So this is ideal. I can use the bigger bottle to apply in the morning and then if I know I’m going out straight from work in the evening, can take the smaller bottle with me to refresh.

                      The crystal bottle is supposedly faceted like a jewel. It does remind me a little of a ruby with its colour deepening from pink at the bottom to a deep red at the top.

                      Magnifique is described as a woody floral musk and was launched in 2008. It was created by Olivier Cresp and Jacques Cavallier for the 'daring, audacious, passionate woman' to celebrate 'her vibrant femininity’.

                      Notes
                      =====
                      Top Note: Saffron
                      Heart Note: Rose
                      Base Note: Nagarmôta Wood

                      Nagamota is an exotic grass, a member of the papyrus family. It brings a complex spicy feel to the perfume which adds depth and complexity to the rose and stops it being too sweet. It’s a warm fragrance and I think is perfect for autumn. It also lasts well and I can detect it after 4 or 5 hours. .

                      Availability
                      ============
                      Unfortunately very limited! As a relative newcomer to the market, I am surprised that Lancome appear to have discontinued this line already. You can still pick up on ebay and other on line retailers but at a price. Amazon currently has a 30ml eau de perfume spray for sale at the £95 mark. Perhaps if you have any unopened boxes in your cupboard, you might want to think of selling them!

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                      • More +
                        30.11.2014 17:33
                        Very helpful
                        (Rating)

                        Advantages

                        • "Effective but gentle"
                        • "Contains primrose oil and vitamin B5"

                        Disadvantages

                        • None

                        This does the job.

                        ~~Elegant Touch ~~

                        I don’t mind paying a little extra for good quality nail polish but when it comes to remover I can’t see the point of spending a lot of money. I find a bottle lasts me ages but when I did run out recently I just grabbed a bottle of Elegant Touch from the shelf at my local Tesco. I’m sure I paid under a £1 for my last bottle but that is some time ago so I wasn’t too put off by the £2.20 price tag.

                        Most nail polish remover is acetone free these days. In fact you have to hunt for acetone remover which I do use occasionally if I’ve used a sparkle top coat or have gel nails. Elegany Touch id acetone free and claims to have a ‘moisture balance formula’ which helps protect natural nails.

                        The remover has two parts which you can easily see in the bottle – the top half is a more of a green aqua marine colour and the bottom more of a blue. According to the blurb ‘The top phase removes polish quickly and effectively, whilst moisturising nutrients including Evening Primrose Oil and Vitamin B5 in the bottom phase encourage healthy, supple nails and cuticles.’ All this means that you have to shake the bottle really well before use.

                        ~~In use~~
                        This is a great nail varnish remover although like most removers it does have a strong chemical smell. Mr P hates the smell when I do my nails so I usually have to take myself away to the other end of the house when its nail paint time. It is an effective remover which I use with cotton wool pads. I douse the pad, hold it on to the nail for 10 or so seconds and then wipe the polish off. It does the job and doesn’t drythe nail out. Although the remover has moisturising properties, unless I am immediately applying fresh polish I do nourish my nails with oil and cuticle cream.

                        All in all this does the job and won’t break the bank. 5 out of 5.

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