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PyrettaBlaze

PyrettaBlaze
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Member since: 05.12.2007

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    • Sugar Gliders / Pet / Animal / 31 Readings / 27 Ratings
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      18.09.2008 20:20
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      The question is not is the glider the right pet for you, but are you the right owner for a glider?

      Google the Sun, the Daily mail, Times and Metro and you'll see they're all raving about the new supercute pocket pet, that can apparently fly! This is irresponsible journalism at it's finest. Four newspapers have printed articles on how amazing these little creatures are as pets in the last week...any idiot can see what's going to happen now. After Ratatouille, every kid wanted a grey dumbo (big eared) rat. After Nemo, everyone wanted a clownfish (which is now becoming endangered, thanks to Disney alone). Lets not even discuss 101 Dalmatians. Then there were the chipmunk and chinchilla crazes. Now everybody is going to want this adorable "flying" pet.

      First of all, sugar gliders don't fly, they glide. There's a difference. And there's no guarantee they will use it in captivity anyway, it is designed so they can glide tree to tree, not TV to cage. I dont really have time to use Dooyoo any more, but I'm so peed off by this I thought I'd come back to write a review. Sugar gliders are NOT perfect pets, they might be cute but they are very complicated to care for and have some rather nasty habits most people could do without.


      About the Sugar Glider

      The sugar glider is an omnivorous possom from Australia. Like all marsupials, it has a pouch for raising it's young...it also has a fine gliding membrane across its tum that means it can glide between trees...sort of like an Australian version of a gliding squirrel, only with sharper teeth.


      So what's all the fuss about?

      Sugar gliders are cute. There's no denying those little beady eyes and pink noses are cute. They are also "cool". They glide, you can carry a sugar glider around in a pouch near your body to bond with it, and they eat insects. Once a sugar glider is bonded to you they are sweet, funny and loveable creatures.

      All of this is true. But the sugar glider has a dark side, which we'll discuss later. First of all, lets talk care...make no mistake about it, sugar gliders are HIGH maintenance.


      Finding gliders

      This could be your first problem. THere are plenty of breeders out there, most of whom are looking to make a buck thanks to these stupid newspaper articles....spend your time looking for a breeder who asks you loads of questions about how you plan to keep the animals, and refuses to sell you a lone glider (gliders should NEVER be kept without company of other gliders), this is the first mark of a good breeder.

      Expect to pay in the region of 200-300 for a pair of glider joeys.

      The cage

      The best cage for a sugar glider is usually custom designed or an indoor aviary or parrot cage. You need a base size of minimum 2X3foot and 4 foot high, more if you want to keep three or more gliders. Bar spacing should be no more 15mm apart, and the wire should be very heavy gauge. All doors should have strong catches, you might want to add additional catches to the doors.

      Cages should not be in areas subjected to bright light in the evening, this can damage glider's eyes.

      Expect to pay £200 plus for the cage, and another £30+ for toys.


      The toys

      Gliders will often use an exercise wheel, but not the cheap hamster kind from your local pet shop. The only one on the market thats really suitable is the "Wodent Wheel", which is very solid and enclosed so the glider cant fall out or shoot across the cage. These tend to be pretty pricey. Other than that, good parrot toys and perhaps rat or ferret toys are what you're after. Parrot swings, wooden perches, rope perches, rope and wood chew-toys are good toys for gliders. Wood and untreated rope are best, they will destroy plastic and rubber easily.


      The diet

      Gliders need an extremely specific diet...you cannot buy complete glider mix at your pet shop. There are pellets available, but you would need to buy from the US and these diets are pretty bad for gliders, sometimes cutting their lifespans in half. They need to eat fruit and vegetables, these are best mashed so they cant pick and choose their faves and leave the healthy ones, and they also need protein, in the form of premium cat food (Science Plan or Iams), crickets and mealworms, cooked chicken and hardboiled egg. They need various vitamins and supplements too. The complexity of the glider diet is beyond the scope of this review, google "Shropshire exotics" or "Ameyzoo" for more info on feeding gliders. You MUST get their diet right...failure to do so can cause hind leg paralysis or other serious problems in sugar gliders! So you see, they are not the cute, simple to care for pets you think.

      You can expect sugar glider food preparation to take a minimum of 15 minutes a day, not to mention the shopping in food and pet stores you will need to do for them, and the months of research into their diet you SHOULD be doing before you get a pair of gliders. They WILL waste a lot of this food.

      Expect to spend around £10 a week in fresh fruit, vegetables and insects. You will also need to buy supplements and other bits and bobs on a regular basis.


      Taming gliders

      Gliders are wild animals. They bite. Even when they are tamed they will bite sometimes. And it hurts. Their teeth are very, very sharp. Taming gliders can be difficult. The best way is to get the animal when it's sleepy and about to nap (during the day, they are nocturnal), and put it in a "Glider pouch". Basically a pouch of material with a string to attach it to yourself...you can buy or make these. Keeping the glider close to your body will help the bonding process immensely. Once the glider is used to this you can slowly introduce your hands to the pouch, and then after this take the glider out of the pouch and into the big bad world...or living room. This process might take weeks, months or it might never happen...you are talking about a wild animal here.

      Expect to spend an hour bare minimum with your gliders every day...three hours is better. Is this too big a commitment?


      Finding a vet

      Very difficult...you might even have to use a zoo vet! Make sure you locate a good vet BEFORE you buy the glider. It will also be expensive to treat an exotic creature like a glider.


      The upsides of gliders

      They are cute! No denying that

      They are interesting and unusual and fun to watch.

      When well tamed they are sweet and loveable creatures.


      That's about it. If you are the right person for a sugar glider they will give you many years of joy. But sadly there are more downsides than up, so make sure you can deal with the following before you get a glider:

      Biting: They like finger. Even when tamed.

      Mess: They chuck food and possibly poo outside the cage, it can get all over the floor and walls. If you are houseproud gliders are NOT for you.

      Smell: Male gliders, in particular, will scent mark you, and some gliders can be rather stinky, although other's say their gliders dont have much of a smell at all.

      Pee: They have no control over their bodily functions and will happily pee all over you.

      Accident-proneosity (good word): They are curious, fast and they can glider. They are great at getting lost inside things, stuck in things and gliding or jumping into things. They need constant supervision when out and about.

      Longevity: A good point for the right glider people, they can live as long as dogs, and this is a HUGE commitment!

      Expense: Cages, toys and gliders themselves are expensive. Gliders are great at shredding toys and your wallpaper, and as a bonus are expensive to feed and treat at the vet!

      Not good for kids: They bite, scratch and will not appreciate the naturally exuberant nature of a child. They are too high maintenance for kids and are a SERIOUS, 15 year commitment. Dont even think of getting your kids one of these!


      It might seem like I'm all downsides, but I'm sick of hearing about people who take on animals and fail to realise that they all come with habits that animals have. "Does he bite?" is a question you get asked far too much working in a pet shop. Any animal can bite, many of them stink and make a mess and are not friendly...sugar gliders can be all of these. If you aren't prepared for the downsides of the gorgeous little glider, then get yourself a toy sugar glider instead. These wonderful animals do not deserve the fate of the poor dalmatian, the chinchilla or any of the other fashionable pets of yesteryear. Animals are living beings, NOT fashion accessories.

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      • Lush Ultrabland / Skin Care / 55 Readings / 53 Ratings
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        22.01.2008 13:00
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        Bland it may be, but your skin certainly will not be after using it!

        Ultrabland may look and smell, well, fairly bland but it is one of Lush's finest cleansers as well being great value for money. A it's a gentle and thorough cleanser that doesnt strip the skin and makes it feel lovely and smooth. So without further ado, here's my ode to Lush's finest (or one of the finest) skincare products.


        The ingredients

        Peanut Oil (Arachis hypogaea) , Rose Water (Rosa centifolia) , Beeswax (Cera alba) , Honey (Mel) , Fresh Iris Extract (Iris florentina) , Glycerine , Rose Absolute (Rosa centifolia) , Tincture of Benzoin (Styrax benzoin) , Sodium Borate , Methylparaben , Propylparaben

        Peanut oil and beeswax make this quite a rich moisturiser, perhaps one to avoid if your skin is quite oily already. Rose and benzoin are great for softening the skin, as is honey.


        The packaging

        Ultrabland comes in a simple black tub with a screw top lid. Lush's packaging is simplistic and attractive as well as functional...the little tubs stack neatly on top of one another in your bathroom. The writing is white which provides a nice contrast, and as usual Lush print a full ingredients list and a best before date on the tub. One of the things with Lush products in tubs however is that they all look the same...although the uniform look is very smart looking in the shop and your bathroom, it means that if you have a load of products you may have to do some label sifting before you find the one you want to use! The great thing about Lush packaging is that it is both recycled and recycleable, just wash it out and toss it in with your plastic recycleables!


        How to use

        Take a squidge Ultrabland, dot it over your face and massage in well. This is quite a rich moisturiser so you will need a damp cotton wool ball to take it off. Although I find if you use muslin cloths instead it makes the skin even smoother!


        The product

        Ultrabland is an inoffensive looking and smelling product, it looks much less like a mud bath than a lot of Lush facial products, being a simple off-white coloured cream with a smooth texture, although some batches seem to have a slightly grainy feel. I can barely detect a smell at all, its a mild slightly floral honey-ish scent. The product glides on smoothly. One word of warning is to go easy on the amount of Ultrabland you use, it is quite a rich waxy cleanser and if you apply loads you will have shiny-face all day! As long as you dont overapply, the product comes off well too.


        The results

        I have never used such a gentle cleanser on my face. People seem to have the idea that if they arent using a toxic chemical that strips the natural oils from the skin, their skin isn't being cleaned properly...Ultrabland disproves that. Just take a look at a cotton wool pad after using it to see how well it works...like strong chemical products, you will see black dirty stuff on the pad, only Ultrabland works just as well without the abrasive chemicals. The result is beautifully smooth and soft skin before you even touch the moisturiser! Your face wont sting, neither will it smell like a disinfectant factory, but it will be beautifully clean!

        I have never been particularly prone to spots, so I cannot comment on how good it is for this, but I can tell you my skin looks beautifully fresh, bright and clean looking since I started using this product.

        Because it is wax based, I suppose if you were prone to spots or oily skin in the first place, this probably wouldnt be your first port of call in a Lush product, but for normal or combination skin, or especially for dry skin, Ultrabland works a treat.


        The damage

        A 45g pot of Ultrabland costs £5.50, and there are new 100g pots for £8.95, which works out cheaper in the long run. This might seem quite a lot when you see the tiny size of the Lush pots, however this products lasts for ages, as you only need a tiny dollop twice a day...if you go overboard with the stuff obviously you will go through it quicker, but I probably go through a small pot of this in about three months, which means the large pot would last over six months...that would be me spending just under £18 a year on cleanser, which isn't bad at all, especially for such an effective product (they could charge twice as much and I'd still buy it!)


        The chemicals and natural products included in cleansers now are baffling...fruit acids, butters and oils, exfoliants, blah blah blah. If you want to keep it simple, I can recommend nothing better than this beautifully effective and gentle cleanser from Lush. It might not be the most exciting product they sell, and it certainly has one of the most boring names, but the fact that it is one of their most popular skincare products speaks for itself...it doesnt need bells and whistle, because it works!

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        • More +
          21.01.2008 21:31
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          A great addition to any kichen

          After much ranting from my friends about the amazingness of the George Foreman grills, I caved and bought one for myself...the deciding factor was that as well as healthy fat reduced meat and chicken, I could also make myself cheese toasties. How healthy. Being the skintoid student I am, I splashed out on the GR18 (or cheapo) grill for a princely £19.99. Despite being devoid of many of the features of the more expensive grills, I've found it has proved its worth time and time again.


          In case you live under a rock, the point of the George Foreman is to cook food in a quick and healthy way. Its basically a pair of grill plates which get boiling hot and cook the food really quickly. It works by draining out the fat, which drips and collects into a little tray.

          To use the grill you simply plug it in and wait for the red light to go off, indicating that the grill is hot enough to use, then plunk whatever you want to cook on the grill, close the lid and wait. Different foods vary in their cooking times, from five minutes for veg to around ten for meats.


          The good bits

          The big range in price is one of the big advantages of the George Foreman grills. Although the smaller ones can get a bit crowded if you cook the entire meal in one (my evening meals are usually some sort of meat or chicken with veg, and I find myself having to cram the veg in) its good that you can get the benefits of a George Foreman without forking out for the most expensive models, which are around £80. The cheapest one is the "baby" model which you can get for a tenner from Argos. The range in price seems to be based primarily on the size of the grill and whether or not you can control the temperature, but you can also get foreman grills that griddle or melt. The most expensive ones have removable plates which are great for ease of cleaning.

          The health aspect is another great thing about these grills...cook a piece of fatty meat such as bacon or sausage on one of these, or even a lean type of meat, and you will be amazed at the fat that just drips away. If you're on a diet or just trying to watch the amount of fat you take in, these come in handy!

          A lot of people think that the George Foreman tends to make certain foods awfully dry, but I find food cooked on it delicious, mostly. I find chicken, which tends to be dry anyway, can become too dry when cooked on it, but red meats still taste nice and juicy to me when cooked on these. Even if you don't like the taste of meat from a George Foreman, I urge you to try cooking some bell peppers on them...just so there is black patches on the outer skin, but the inside is still juicy and delicious. Broccoli is great on it too. Tomatoes, on the other hand, seem to end up more stuck to the grill than anything else!

          You can also make yourself toasties on the George Foreman, which is always a good thing!

          Lastly, the George Foreman is quick and convenient to use, you can make yourself a meal in about ten minutes flat. It only takes a few minutes to heat up, and a few more to cook food, even meat. If you're shattered at the end of the day it is a great and healthy alternative to heating up a readymade meal.


          Bad bits

          Although, generally speaking, if you clean your George Foreman before it is completely cool, it is easy to clean, if you leave it too long it can be really hard to get fatty stuff off the grill plates. My brother is a right pain for this, I always ban him from using mine when he comes round to my flat. You cannot use harsh abrasive stuff to clean this, just a soft cloth, which can make getting the more stubborn bits of fat off a challenge.

          Food sometimes tends to stick to the plates, adding a little oil (if you're watching your weight try FryLight spray) will help the food come off the grill easier.

          Although this might be stating the obvious, these grills get hot. The grill plates obviously get hot, but the top of the lid of the grill also gets quite hot. It goes without saying to keep kiddies and pets away from them, and watch you dont trip over the wire.


          The George Foreman is a great addition to any kitchen. I hate to be one to pander to hype, but for once (at least in my opinion) the hype is worth it. This product is good value for money, seems to last well (I've had mine well over a year and use it regularly) and is a quick way of cooking healthy, low fat meals.

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          • Lush Ice Blue Soap / Soaps / 26 Readings / 26 Ratings
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            21.01.2008 20:51
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            A simple mint soap to wake you up!

            Mostly I love my bath products to smell sweet and candy-like, but I used to love the shower gel "Freeze" that Lush used to do, and this stuff smells just like it. Its a strong minty soap that's great at getting you going in the morning, or for cooling down after a workout. Its also one of the few Lush soaps that dont smell girly, so guys can use it too!


            Ingredients
            Propylene Glycol , Water (Aqua) , Sodium Palm Kernelate , Sea Salt (Sodium Chloride) , Sodium Stearate , Sodium Lauryl Sulfate , Perfume , Sweet Wild Orange Oil (Citrus dulcis) , Bergamot Oil (Citrus bergamia) , Peppermint Oil (Mentha piperita) , Glycerine , EDTA , Tetrasodium Editronate , Limonene , Linalool , Hydroxycitronellal , Colour 42045

            Again, this newish creation of Lush shows how they are straying away from their natural ingredients and wandering more into the dodgy realm of chemicals, which is a shame. I'm also quite surprised to see orange oil so high up the list, as there isnt even a hint of orange scent in the soap.


            The smell

            Quite a good one for the guys, or for anybody who wants to wake up fast in the morning, this one. It has a strong, zingy peppermint fragrance, quite similar to the Freeze shower gel Lush used to do...or to the Original Source mint and tea tree. Its quite a simple smell, the peppermint overrides any of the other oils that might be in it. The scent is strong and sharp and is the Lush equivalent of a cold shower, only much more pleasant.


            The soap itself

            Like quite a few Lush soaps, Ice Blue tends to do a disappearing act when kept in a bathroom. The soap feels great on the skin, and mint and orange oils make the skin tingle. However I would like to see this one turned into more of an exfoliating soap. There is a dusting of sea salt on the soap, but it rubs off after one use. If Lush put sea salt through the entire soap it would be a great scrubby bar, which would fit with the morning wake up call thing that the soap is so good at.


            The damage

            At £1.95 Ice Blue is one of Lush's cheapest soaps. The aforementioned problem with Lush soaps is that they dissolve quite quickly once they become wet, so they tend not to be the best value for money, but they are lovely soaps!


            If I was treating myself in Lush, Ice Blue wouldnt be one of my first choices, there are much more luxurious soaps in the range, but its a great soap for everyday use, it smells nice and not too girly so one for the blokes too!

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            • Lee's Kricket Keepers / Other Pets / 23 Readings / 19 Ratings
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              21.01.2008 18:35
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              A really helpful idea for the wusses like me.

              I am not alone among lizard keepers for the fact that I HATE crickets. And I mean I hate them. They are horrible looking, smelly, scary, disgusting, capable of infesting your house and they bite. Yuck yuck yuck,

              In case you are unfamilar with crickets, they are insects with long, grasshopper like back legs, capable of jumping. Adult male crickets also sing, which makes a sort of whirring noise. You can imagine the joys of living with the little buggers, although strangely enough, I actually find the noise helps me to sleep now I'm used to it! They come in brown (noisy, very fast and can jump very high) or black (slower but more aggressive and they look like cockroaches...ugh).

              In order to keep pet lizards, you need to keep insects to feed them on...and crickets are usually people's first port of call, because they are nutritious, reasonably easy to keep and breed, and cheap and readily available. Unfortunately, they are nasty creatures also.

              There are a lot of lizard keepers who despise handling crickets, because of their speed, jumpiness, smell (fishy) and the fact that they have no qualms about biting. Lee's Kricket Keeper was designed with these wussies in mind.


              The design

              Lee's Kricket Keeper is basically a plastic tub with a ventilated lid. There are four large holes in the lid, through which you poke four black plastic tubes. One end is covered by a cap, the other is left open.


              How it works

              Crickets are nocturnal animals, so naturally they like darkness and quiet. They crawl into the black tubes where it is dark and close (the inside surface is rough to let them get a grip) and there they stay...until your lizard gets hungry. You simply pull out one of the tubes, cover the end, shake the crickets out into a bag to vitamin dust them (you have to shake quite violently as the crickets hang on for dear life), and then tweezer them out and into your lizards cage. The cage design means that if you despise crickets, you never have to touch them, and you dont have to do too much faffing about with tweezers either. It is ideal for squeamish people like myself.


              Good bits

              You dont have to touch the crickets with your fingers or fiddle about with tweezers with these tanks. In fact you dont even need to open the lid. This keeps the little nasties where they belong...either in the lizards gob or in the tank!

              This works fine for icky slow black crickets, but I'm not sure the jumpy brown ones would be kept in here...but loads of people use them for brown crickets, so I suppose they must...just dont ask me to try it.

              A bearded dragon can eat a good fifteen insects in a sitting...picking them up one by one with tweezers, bagging and dusting them is tiresome. With these it takes much less time to pick up a whole load of crickets in one go.

              If like me, you are fascinated by things that disgust you, you can see the crickets up close and personal as they crawl up to the clear plastic caps on the ends of the tubes, and see their nasty little faces staring out at you...AAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHH!



              Bad bits

              The problem with crickets is that they are fast, jumpy things. I always use the black ones, which are meatier and generally move much slower, but the browns are like lightning even with legs missing (crickets have the charming habit of eating each other and pulling off each others legs, and its not uncommon to spot stray cricket legs in the tank) and I can imagine pulling the tube out of the tub would result in a lot of escapes when it comes to brown crickets...fortuntately I've not lost any black ones yet. You need to cover over the ends superfast in order not to have an infestation in your home.

              Although these are secure, the overall design makes it look as if they arent. I'm prone to phantom itches when I see insects, and just the thought of them escaping makes me scratch like a cat with fleas. I'm sure if they all made an effort, by piling on top of one another, they could escape. I can see them watching me as I'm typing this. Dont want to give them ideas!

              Getting the tubes in and out is fiddly to say the least, and you'll probably end up with a few squished crickets...but then the other will probably eat them.

              At the end of a tub of crickets, when you're down to the last few, they seem to wise up and realise that the dark tubes do not lead to cricket heaven, but certain death at the hands of a fat reptile.

              These might encourage less well-read lizard owners to just take out the tube and shake it right into the lizards tank...which is a bad idea. If you put a load of crickets in the tank in one go, they will sometimes swarm the lizard and start attacking it. Though they are tiny compared to the lizard they can still do a lot of damage...I've had a pet tree frog killed by a cricket bite. Also, crickets need to be dusted with special vitamin powder before they are fed to the lizard.


              If like me, you love lizards but hate crickets, Lee's Kricket Keepers are ideal. You dont have the handle the nasty little creepy crawlies and they are kept securely locked up. I am still not convinced they would keep the brown crickets in and I'm not willing to try it, but for black crickets they are perfect. They make one of the nastiest jobs you have as a lizard keeper much easier.

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              • Finnish Lapphund / Pet / Animal / 36 Readings / 35 Ratings
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                18.01.2008 12:32
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                Is it a dog or is it a powderpuff?

                The Finnish lapphund is not like to be a dog you have heard of, which is a real shame, as they are wonderful little dogs that make brilliant pets...very intelligent, gentle and adaptable canines that stay within a reasonable size. Their role as "perfect family pet" tends to be filled more by retrievers, labs and spaniels in this country, but if you are looking for a trainable, reasonanly sized, smart and friendly dog breed that is a little different, the lapphund is a lovely choice.


                Some Lapphund history

                The Lapphund evolved from a dog kept by the Lapp people (oddly enough). It is thought that the arctic spitz type of dog dates as far back as 7000bc. It was developed originally as a hunting dog, but evolved more into more of a herder and watchdog of reindeer as time went on. The first breed standard was accepted in 1945, under the name of "Lapponian Shepard Dog". The first lapphund came into Britain in 1989 and it was accepted as an official breed in 1995.


                A bit more about the Lapphund

                The Lapphund falls into the "pastoral" category of the kennel club...meaning dogs who are associated with cattle, sheep and deer and other cloven footed animals. Dogs in this category tend to be extremely intelligent and trainable, and the Lapphund is no exception. The Lapphund can further be categorised as a "spitz" type breed. Examples of the spitz types are the Siberian Husky and the similar but larger Alaskan malamute, the blue-tongued Chow Chow, the Samoyed and the Pomeranian. Spitz type dogs tend to have double coated, thick and bushy fur and generally speaking can be independant and stubborn.

                The Lapphund is a small to medium spitz, standing up to 50cm at the shoulder (bitches tend to be shorter) and up to 20kg in weight. The Finnish Lapphund is a truly beautiful little dog, with its thick fur much like a mane around its neck, and a plumed tail carried over the back. They have intelligent looking foxy faces with ears that look little and stubby thanks to their masses of fur. They often have distinctive husky-like facial markings, and they come in pretty much every colour, but tends to have one dominant colour.

                The lapphund is dissimilar to a lot of spitz breeds in that it is far less headstrong. Many of the spitz breeds were designed for pulling sleds, and this has led to an independant and aloof character as they lived half wild in their original form. Not so the Finnish Lapphund. They are faithful and loveable dogs that become very devoted to their owners. However unlike a lot of dogs with such credentials, they are also highly intelligent, like all herding dogs.


                Deciding to buy a dog

                Seeing as this review is about the lapphund in particular, I'm not going to bore you with the details of caring for a dog, but I'd just like to reiterate how big a decision buying any dog is. Purebred dogs are expensive to buy and vet fees can work out expensive...its best to have a fund set up to deal with unexpected veterinary costs that insurance wont cover (and of course your dog should also be insured). All dogs are demanding of time and attention and money, and they are not a responsibility to take on lightly. There are far too many people who get dogs and then dump them on someone else a few months later when they find it is not working out. Puppies are an extra burden because they need training and socialising. Before taking the plunge and getting a dog it is worth reading up on dog psychology. The basics are that the dog thinks of the family it lives with as its "pack". You MUST make sure the dog realises that it has the lowest position in the pack, or it will start walking all over everybody and become a real problem. The dog needs to know who is boss to make a well-adjusted pet. There are a million and one other things you should know before bringing a dog into your home, about their health care, ailments, nutrition, grooming and exercising. It is NOT as simple as feed the dog, walk the dog, brush the dog. Please remember that a dog is a long term commitment and a puppy is even more of a commitment.


                The lapphund as a pet

                The lapphund makes an absolutely brilliant pet...the only reason I can think of that they arent more popular is that, as I've said, other less exotic dogs fulfill a lot of the same credentials.

                The lapphund is small enough to be kept in a flat, it is also not a particularly noisy dog. Although devoted to their owners, they tend to not be so attached that they cannot take being left alone in the house, unlike a lot of dogs. This combined with their beautiful looks makes them good town dogs, but they make great country dogs too (if you can handle pulling burs out of their fur for hours a day).

                As I've mentioned, lapphunds are incredibly smart. They appear to think before they act, and seem to enjoy watching whats going on in the rest of the household from the sidelines. This intelligence means they are quick learners, toilet training and command training is easy with a breed this smart. Like the much more well-known pastoral breed the border collie, lapphund dogs tend to excel at flyball and agility (despite all that wonderful fluff). Unlike the border collie however, a pet lapphund isnt likely to tear your house apart...collies often do this through boredom. Having said this, if you get a Finnish lapphund you are best keeping it occupied, as it will be much happier. I enjoy doing flyball with my dog Bear, at the weekends.

                If you are interested in doing more with your dog than just having it as a pet, the lapphund is a good choice. Being tractable and very trainable, they make excellent show-ring dogs, and are great in herding trials. They are extremely adaptable and are apparently common in pet therapy (as common as such an unusual species could be that is!)

                The lapphund is a very well-adjusted dog, that tends to be unfazed by the sort of thing that would send a spaniel into fits. They take to strange situations quite well, unlike a lot of dogs. The lapphund is good with children and can make an ideal family pet. It also tends to be good with other animals in the household, although there can always be exceptions, and it also tends to be fine with strangers...although you should get your dog used to having people in your home from a young age.

                Their well-adjusted temperaments means they are suitable for a wide range of people. I live in a flat with one other person in a ground floor (albeit fairly large) flat and we often have people round, and this suits the dogs fine. They are great for single people, couples, families and any other situation you could imagine. With us they live with my small zoo of various animals, and we have no problems with this. They are truly urban dogs, being walked in a park or along a canal (and out into the country at weekends). They also make great pets for country people...so long as you keep a hold of them around sheep.

                Another great thing about the lapphund is that like another Finnish Spitz (known, oddly enough, as the Finnish Spitz), they are extremely healthy. So many purebred dogs suffer from multitudes of problems. As well as large breeds and those with extreme features like boxers, you find dogs that are so in demand they are often overbred (such as cocker and cavalier spaniels and labs and retrievers) often tend to suffer from things like hip dysplasia and so forth. Progressive retinal atrophy and hereditory cataracts occur in a small percentage of these dogs, and hip and elbow dysplasia is very, very rare. These dogs commonly live well into their teens, and there are strict rules regarding their breeding so problems occur less often...something that is difficult to do with commonly bred dogs.

                And on the more shallow side, the lapphund is a truly beautiful little dog. If you like the look of the beautiful white samoyed dogs, you will love these too, only they arent often white so easier to keep them looking clean! Their little faces are so intelligent and sweet looking and they look like little fluffy bears or wolf cubs walking down the street. They are particularly beautiful when their coats are red, as my male Bear is (he reminds me of those little red pandas with his lovely facial markings). I cant count the amount of times I get stopped on a walk so people can talk to my beautiful little pooches (or to me about them).

                Although they are not cheap to buy, these lovely dogs are not among the most expensive breeds either, maybe around £600 a dog...pricey, but all pedigree dogs cost a lot. Because they are unusual they can tend to range widely in price...some breedings have waiting lists and can hike the prices, others have trouble selling so drop them. After the initial cost of buying the dog, paying for supplies and innoculations, they actually work out very cheap. My two are very low cost in terms of vet fees, and I can feed them on little more than a fiver each a week (they get fed on Burns food which isnt the cheapest of brands, usually with bits of whatever I am eating that night added...veg, a bit of rice and meat or chicken).


                As you can see I'm full of nothing but praise for these gorgeous little dogs, but like all breeds they do have their minus points as well. One of the biggest problems if you want one of these little guys is locating them in the first place. They are definitely not the rarest dog breed over here, but finding a little is much harder than finding a litter of German Shepards or Pugs. Not many people are aware of their considerable charms and so not many people are breeding them...I know of only two in Scotland. If you want one of these as a puppy you probably need to get on a waiting list, pay a deposit and wait for a good while...and because they are so unusual you may not get the colour or sex of your choice.

                If what you are after is a guard dog, then the Finnish lapphund isnt a good choice...you might be able to tell from their small, fluffy appearances and reasonable quietness that they arent exactly the most intimidating of dogs...but then if you wanted a guard dog this wouldnt be on your short list anyway.

                The lapphund is an energetic dog and needs at least two walks a day, lasting a total of at least an hour...and an hour and a half would be more suitable. This can be seen as either a plus or a minus depending on your viewpoint...but like all dogs they need those walkies rain or shine...and a rain soaked lapphund will take quite some drying!

                The long coat of the lapphund is less high maintenance than you would think, but nonetheless it can cause problems. The dogs take hours to dry if they have been walked in the wet (and its important not to leave them wet in case they get chilled), they have so much coat it can be hard to tell if they have rolled in something disgusting, their coat has to be checked for things like thorns and burs, and lastly the dogs can get overheated in hot weather...its best to try and help them keep cool when its warm outside...remember that a dog designed for Arctic weather will find weather hot when you dont. Its important to routinely check your dog over for lumps and bumps as well as parasites, and this job becomes much harder with a spitz!

                Because this breed is a herder by nature, if you live in the countryside it pays to keep it on the leash while you are near to sheep, as this breed has a high risk of sheep worrying.


                My gruesome twosome

                I have two Finnish lapphund dogs at the moment. Poppy is a black and tan bitch and Bear is a red and cream dog. They are two years old, and I love them both to bits. Poppy is unbelievably affectionate and is the first one to leap into your arms when you come in the door. She gives "cuddles" if you ask her, putting a paw on either of your shoulders...I didnt intentionally train her this by the way, I guess she just picked up on it, which shows you how clever these dogs are. Despite this Poppy is definitely the boss of the household, lording it over Bear (any everybody else) who does the submissive husband act very well. She also lords it over my Rhodesian ridgeback who is easily three times her size. Bear is a bit of a wet really, he went charging away when a terrier shouted him down the other day, and our four household ferrets are also the boss of him, bouncing all over him and pulling his fur...the poor guy. I'm beginning to think bear was the wrong choice of name for him and I should change it to Bunny. They are both unbelievably well behaved in the house, they had their usual puppy stage of chewing and pooing but now their manners are perfect, aside from the fact that they jump up to say hello when me or my flatmate comes in...but I dont mind that at all, and they usually can tell the difference between us and guests and dont jump all over them.


                This breed was originally recommended to me by an online quiz about which type of dog would suit you...and once I saw a picture I immediately fell for these gorgeous fluffy beasts. I immediately put myself on the waiting list for a pair and it may have been one of the best decisions of my life. Poppy and Bear are a constant delight to have around the house, and definitely the most well-behaved dogs I've ever had in my lifetime. They're so smart I have expect them to start speaking any minute.

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                • Rats / Pet / Animal / 34 Readings / 29 Ratings
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                  17.01.2008 20:02
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                  Batty for ratties.

                  People tend to be either horrified or delighted by domesticated pet rats. To those who hate them they are smelly, vicious, disease ridden animals with horrid looking tails. To those who love them, intelligent, sweet and amusing little characters that make wonderful pets. Surprise surprise, I'll be arguing for the latter position.


                  Rats are smelly: Not particularly. We hardly get any smell at all off our rat cage, the ferrets are far more of a problem. Like humans, you do sometimes get a bit of a stinky rat, but it is not difficult to control. Boys tend to smell more than girls.

                  Rats are vicious: Wild rats will pretty much eat anything, and I can see them being pretty nasty if cornered. Pet rats however, are a totally different species. I have been keeping rats since the age of 9 (I am now 23) and they usually live a couple of years...in total I've had 15 pet rats. The only vicious rat I've ever met belongs to my friend. The rat was raised on its own, and I think this is the source of the problem...rats are incredibly social and should not be kept on their own. Its fair to say that this rat is damned vicious, when she bit me it was pouring blood, but she is the exception to the rule. It is rare for a pet rat to bite unless it is scared or hurt.

                  Rats carry disease: Like all animals, it is mainly the parasites they CARRY that causes disease. So your dog gets fleas, swallows one and gets a tapeworm which can be passed out into the environment and eventually blind a child (its rare but it can happen if a child gets a tapeworm). Nobody blames the cute pooch, do they? Likewise, it was not the rats that spread the plague, but the beasties on them, and seeing as rats stole away in the ships, technically it was our fault they spread in the first place.


                  The domesticated rat came from the wild brown rat which is common in Britain, and is displacing the rarer black ship rat in the same way the grey squirrel is displacing the red (you dont hear about this because nobody cares about rats, do they? Domesticated rats evolved into lab rats which were usually white, which evolved into todays fancy rat which comes in an amazing array of colours...you can also get tailless rats, long haired rats, dumbo rats (with big ears) and hairless rats...which look damned freaky. Rats can be black, white, champagne or blue or lots of other colours, and have lots of different coat combinations.


                  Choosing a rat

                  Like all animals, buying from a breeder is better than a shop, as they tend to know more about the animals they are selling, and will be able to answer any questions you have. A good breeder will ask you questions as well.

                  When you are looking for a pet rat, choose one with a shiny, smooth coat, bright eyes and all toes intact, with no discharge around the mouth, nose, eyes or bum. A rat should be friendly when picked up, rats seldom bite and generally show no fear of being handled. If the rat is scared or tries to bite it reflects badly on the breeder, given how gentle they normally are. The breeders cage should be clean and not smell too bad.

                  With regards to which sex you get, its entirely up to you. Male rats tend to smell a little bit stronger and grow much bigger, but they also tend to be cuddlier than female rats, and they are more likely to pick one spot in the cage to go to the toilets. Female rats are more playful and poo everywhere! Both make lovely pets, but never keep an opposite sex pair together. Even if you plan to breed, a pair should be kept apart (with others of their sex) except when you plan on breeding, as two rats can turn into hundreds in an extremely short space of time.

                  And as I've already mentioned, rats should not live alone. They live in colonies in the wild, and unless you can lavish your ratty with hours of attention daily, they will suffer mentally...some rats do developed psychological problems from being kept alone. Male rats can be kept in pairs or trios...occasionally they may fight but providing them with enough space, food and nest boxes should keep this to a minimum. Female rats generally get along well and can be kept in groups of as many as you like.


                  Rat food

                  Rats will eat anything...and when I say anything, I mean ANYTHING. Eating a rat's favourite pastime. A good quality dry mix designed for rats and mice will be fine for them. Its a good idea to measure and record how much they are given and how much they eat as rats can get fat, and not eating is a first sign when a rat is ill.

                  As for treats, steer clear of chocolate, caffeine, sugar and dairy, other than that you can give them anything. Hay, A little bit of cooked pasta, a small amount of boiled egg, a small piece of dried dog food, small amounts of fruit and veg, and wee bits of lean chicken or turkey are all things that rats will love to eat. If you keep any animals that eat mealworms (such as birds or reptiles), offer one to a rat now and then as they enjoy them greatly. Only offer small amounts of foods at a time to see if the rat has any reaction to any particular foods, and to prevent sore tummies and fat rats!

                  Of course rats should always have a source of clean, fresh water, and a water bottle is the easiest way to provide this.


                  A home for a rat

                  Rats need lots of space to move about...I'd recommend a minimum of 2X3X2 foot for a single pair of rats...the more space you can provide them with the better, and I'd add an extra 2 foot of floor space for each rat. Cages of the size designed for chinchillas, ferrets or chipmunks (although too small for their intended animals) are a good size for these animals. Wire cages with horizontal bars are best as they allow maximum ventilation and ready made climbing frames...beware of ones with wire floors and pull-out trays however as these can hurt little ratty feet. Converted aquariums are not ideal for rats as they are not well ventilated, and this is essential to ratty health. Soft wood is not a good material for a cage either, if you are making a homemade cage use hardwood. Always use secure cages of strong material for rats are they are good at getting out of cages. You may find you need an extra fixture on cage doors, as many a pet rat has learned to open its cage door!

                  Rats should have a nestbox filled with soft material like hay, ideally there should be a couple of large ones so the rats can choose if they want to pile intogether or sleep on their tod. A wheel to provide exercise is a good idea in a rat cage...however, it must be large enough so that the rats back doesnt rub against the central spoke, and it must be solid, not made of bars, so that no tails or feet can get caught and injured...Wodent Wheels are ideal for rats, and you can buy special rough bits that sand the rats nails down as they run, as an added bonus. Rats love climing through tube, so cheap piping from DIY stores will go down well in their cages, as will the "hammocks" you can buy in pet shops. Multiple levels, ladders and shelves will also add interest for ratties.

                  Most people use shaving on the floor of the rats cage, and this is ideal, as its easy to clean out and cheap. Avoid pine or cedar shavings as the oils can be bad for ratty respiration. Other choices include plain newspaper (easy to clean but dont allow the rats opportunity to dig) shredded paper (can stain white coats and gets soppy and stinky when wet) or straw or hay (hay will be eaten but straw would be OK).

                  General rat care

                  In terms of cleaning out and feeding rats are low maintenance pets...scoop the wet patches and poo daily and change them out once a week, breaking down the cage and sterilising it once a month. Dry and clean bedding can be reused as there is no point wasting it and it will smell like home to the rats. Clean and wash out the food bowl daily and use bottle brushes and spout brushes on the water bottle...simple as that really.

                  The real chore in keeping rats is keeping them amused. You cannot just shove them in a cage and leave them there. Believe it or not, rats are highly intelligent animals. They need at least an hour of your attention daily (besides cleaning and feeding), so you can handle them, play with them and let them run about. Create little pipes and mazes for them. You can also train your rats...lots of rats can do tricks and most of them learn to recognise their names. Training your rat, just like training your dog, will keep it occupied and happy.


                  Why rats make cool pets

                  Rats are more fun than other small rodent pets...they are friendly and very much enjoy being handled, and they are more intelligent by far. They need more space than a hamster or gerbil, but the rewards of keeping them are far greater too.

                  Your rat will amaze you with how smart they are...ever hear about the psychology experiment with the buttons for the rats to press in order to get a treat? Rats have pretty high problem solving skills for animals, as you might expect from a species which has essentially colonised the entire globe. Many of my rats have learned their names without me going out of my way to teach them, and they learn to come when called, to sit up for a treat, and lots of other little tricks with no problems whatsoever.

                  Rats love to cuddle and play, they are very interactive pets, more so than hamsters, gerbils and mice. Once they are used to you they will come up to their cage bars when you come home so you can let them out and play with them. They will happily climb all over you, take treats from your fingers and curl up in your lap for a sleep. The closest animal I could compare them to is a dog...they are just like little rodenty dogs.

                  Rats are also fun to watch in their cages, they are constantly sniffing, exploring and playing with each other...watching how they interact is very enjoyable, as is watching them exhaustively exploring anything new you put in their cage. Usually a pet is either fun to handle or fun to watch, but the rat ticks both boxes.

                  Rats are small and clean enough to be kept in any type of accomodation from country houses to flats. They dont take up much space, and obviously dont make any noise, so they make great urban pets.

                  Rats are one of the few pets I can recommend to children. They are gentle and seldom bite and children tend to love their friendly, sweet natures. Of course, like any pet there should be careful consideration before buying one for a child.


                  On the other hand...

                  The biggest problem with the rat as a pet is its short lifespan. Rats tend to live until the age of two or three. Sadly there are many problems they tend to be very susceptible to...tumours and respiratory illnesses are the main ones. Because rats quickly become part of the family, saying goodbye to them after such a short period of time is tortuous...its akin to the family dog dying, to tell you the truth (this may sound mad to you, but if you ever get pet rats, you will know what I mean). They are such sweet, lovely creatures, its a shame they dont live longer.

                  Rats are higher maintenance than other small rodents. A rat confined to its cage all the time, and/or kept on its own, will soon develop behavioural difficulties and may become vicious. They are not demanding in terms of money or keeping them well fed and clean, but they ARE demanding in terms of your time...they need a considerably amount of it to be kept happy. They should be considered less a cage pet and more a companion like a dog or cat...a hamster, given enough space, wont mind if you play with it every day, but a rat certainly will.

                  Some rats can be a wee bit smelly. Most of them are fine and if smell is an issue going for a female rat will prevent these problems, but just like some humans are smellier than others, some rats are smellier than others. Its not the kind of smell that would take over your house, but think twice before letting a rat live in bedrooms.

                  Obviously if you have cats, ferrets or dogs with high prey drives, you might want to think twice before buying rats!

                  A lot of people are scared of or hate rats and will look at you very strangely when you say you keep them!


                  Other types of rat people keep as pets

                  Black (ship) rats: The other species of rat we often hear about, and the one that spread the fleas that spread the plague, this guy is becoming quite rare in the wild. Some people are now keeping these as pets. Apparently they are much wilder than the brown rat and much less handleable and willing to bite, however they can be very interesting to watch.

                  Pouched rats: Any rat-phobics will squeal when they hear this. The African Giant Pouched Rat is over TWO FEET in length. They also live about three times as long as a normal rat, so are clearly a much bigger responsibility and require much more space. I hear some can make gentle and affectionate pets but others can be absolute horrors to have around.

                  The Kangaroo rat: This used to be more popular as a pet than it is now, they are somewhat like giant gerbils with kangaroo like back legs and tufted tails. From what I've heard, these guys are very active and need a lot of space. I'm not sure if they are true members of the rat family or not.


                  You may be shuddering as you are reading this, but believe it or not the rat is one of the nicest small fluffy things to keep as a pet. It might not be the cutest, and those long wormy tails might be enough to make you shudder, but rats are lovely, friendly and intelligent pets, among the best small pets for children and adults alike...I swear they are just tiny dogs in a rodent fur coat.

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                  • More +
                    17.01.2008 17:47
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                    Vanilla that actually tastes like vanilla!

                    I went to the local posh deli with the intention of buying my usual Chunky Monkey ice cream, but as per usual they were out...after much deliberation, I came home with this, as the packaging and fair trade stuff appealed to me. I was not sorry, this is the finest vanilla ice cream I've ever tasted! I tend to go for more interesting flavours when it comes to ice cream, but I'll make an exception for this stuff!


                    About the company

                    Cream O Galloway are a small company that products fair trade and organic ice cream and sorbet. They have been producing ice cream since 1994, and are based in Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland.


                    The packaging

                    The ice cream apparently comes in 120ml, 500ml and 1l sizes. The 500ml size is in a flat, round dark blue tub with the logo. Its fairly simplistic looking packaging compared with the likes of Haagen Dazs, and this suits its natural and fairtrade image.


                    The ice cream

                    This is, without a doubt, the finest vanilla ice cream I have ever tasted. The vanilla flavouring is much more natural tasting than your average vanilla ice cream...less cloying and sweet, and more full. It really tastes like the company uses full fat milk in the this, its incredibly rich and creamy tasting, without being sickly. Its perhaps far less sweet than other vanilla ice creams I've tasted, but it is just gorgeous. You can definitely taste the difference in quality compared with your average vanilla ice cream.


                    The damage

                    This ice cream costs £3.99 in my local posh deli type shop, so its comparable with the cost of the likes of Ben&Jerrys. In other words, its a pretty expensive ice cream, but even more worth it that B&J, I'd argue! And when you take into account that it's organic and fair trade, it doesnt seem expensive at all.


                    Ingredients

                    Milk* Cream* (29%) Sugar*F Skimmed Milk Powder* Egg Yolk* (produced to EU standards) Vanilla Bean Seeds*F.

                    Pinched from the website, ingredients with an asterisk are organic and ones with an F are fair trade. Given that so many products labelled as organic or fairtrade tend to have one or two organic or fairtrade ingredients, this is a pretty impressive list of ingredients...the milk, cream and eggs are all produced on the company's own farm, and the two ingredients that do come from abroad are fair trade. Not only is this the yummiest vanilla ice cream I've tasted, its the most ethical!


                    Availability

                    I have heard that this is stocked by supermarkets but I can never find it, the local deli is the only place I can ever get it. Its a shame this ice cream isnt more available because its just gorgeous.


                    Nutritional information per 100g.

                    Energy KJ: 1016 Kcal: 244 Protein: 4.1g Carbohydrate /of which sugars: 19.5g / 19.5g Fat /of which saturates: 16.7g / 10.3g Fibre: <0.1g Sodium: 0.1g


                    If you want a break from increasingly wacky ice cream flavours, Cream O Galloway is a great choice...simplistic and yet it tastes absolutely beautiful...full and rich, just like an ice cream should! They're also a company that clearly take the ethical image seriously, unlike most, so the only guilt you'll feel while eating this stuff will be concerned with the calories. Quite simply, the yummiest vanilla ice cream ever!

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                    • More +
                      17.01.2008 13:04
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                      Another ridiculously sweet Lush goodie!

                      The comforter is my all time favourite Lush bubble bar, I remember nearly fainting (OK, slight exaggeration) when I tried it in the shop. It looks attractive, it smells beautiful and it turns the water a lovely colour without dying the bathtub like Lush's ballistics do.


                      What it looks like

                      Not normally something I'd consider essential to review, but the Comforter is so lovely looking I thought I'd add it in...its a big circular bubble bar with swirls of white and a raspberry colour...its very attractive looking and really catches your eye in the shop...and when you smell it, if you like sweet stuff, you'll be hooked. It even looks tranquil as its name suggests.


                      Ingredients

                      Sodium Bicarbonate , Cream of Tartar (Tartaric acid) , Sodium Laureth Sulfate , Lauryl Betaine , Perfume , Titanium Dioxide , Cocamide DEA , Bergamot Oil (Citrus bergamia) , Cassis Absolute (Ribes nigrum) , Cypress Oil (Cupressus sempervirens) , Limonene , Linalool , Colour 45410 , Colour 17200.

                      The perfume seems to be the biggest smelly ingredient in the Comforter, which confirms my suspicions that its smell is not at all natural...it just smells to sweet to be real! Its also quite high on the chemical colours, which is to be expected given the bright raspberry pink/purple colour of the product. So definitely not one of Lush's most natural products, but I'll forgive it because I love it so!

                      The smell
                      One whiff and I'm in heaven. The comforter smells quite like blackcurrant, incredibly fruity and sweet, with that yummy sherbety sweetie smell that the bubble bars all seem to have. The smell fills the bathroom and lingers deliciously on the skin for ages. It really is the sort of smell that "wraps you in a big fluffy blanket" as Lush suggests it does. Its a cheery, comforting and thoroughly yummy sort of smell. I've found this bar invaluable while I'm dieting...when I get sugar cravings I run a bath and use some of this...it smells so sweet it works wonders for my sweet tooth...and no calories!


                      The effects

                      Well, the Comforter certainly has a nice effect on the bath, just a touch turns the water a delightful shade of pink...however, unlike the bath ballistics, the bubble bars dont stain the tub, which is nice. The Comforter, like all the bubble bars, doesn't dry out the skin, but thats about as much as you can say for it. Its not really very softening on the skin, like quite a few of the Lush bars, which is a shame, but it still has that gorgeous smell, so I dont really mind!


                      The damage

                      Along with "Blue Skies and Fluffy White Clouds", the Comforter is the priciest bubble bath Lush sells, at a princely £3.75. For this, however, you get 200g which easily lasts me five baths, so it doesnt work out too dear at all, in fact better value than the small £2.20 odd bubble bars that only do two baths. It will depend whether you live in a hard or soft water area how much useage you can get out of the Comforter (soft water creates much more bubbles).


                      It might not do much for the skin, but the Comforter remains my favourite bubble bar purely because of its beautiful smell...as you may have guessed by now, I love sweet smelling and tasting things, and the Comforters gorgeous fruity and sweet blackcurrant smell is just divine. It also really does what it says on the label, as Comforter is a great thing to have in the bath when you've had a crap day. A warm fluffy bath of happy bubbles!

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                      • Lush / Highstreet Shopping / 37 Readings / 34 Ratings
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                        16.01.2008 19:35
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                        I love living a Lush life!

                        Lush have been one of my favourite "bath stuff" companies since I was still in school and completely unable to afford their gorgeous concoctions. Just the smell of the shop puts me in fits of delight, I love the mish mash of essential oily smells and the fizzy bath bomb smell. There are a few things the company has been doing of late that makes me a little disappointed in them (mostly discontinuing my favourite products and adding new ones with more chemicals), but overall they are still my favourite place to shop!


                        About Lush

                        Lush used to be a company called "Cosmetics to go" that I am too young to remember...they were much smaller then and operated principally with mail order, and were popular with the animal rights crowd due to their strict ethics. After CTG fell to bits, Lush rose from their ashes, and soon there were Lush shops appearing everywhere. Lush try to maintain an ethical image...they hate animal testing, try to stick to natural ingredients and sell a lot of their products "naked" i.e. with little packaging...this is why they make bubble bath in solid form instead of in a bottle. Lush's tubs are all recycleable and are also made of recycled materials, and they often do bag reusing schemes...if you reuse a bag they stamp it for you and after so many reuses you get a free gift. Lush are steadily becoming less natural as time goes on and I'm worried they're going to take the route that the Body Shop did, but they are still selling gorgeous and largely natural products.


                        Lush's range

                        Lush do bath and shower stuff, with a few additions, simple as. They do a range of round bath ballistics (or bath bombs) for chucking in the bath...they fizz away whilst smelling wonderful and softening the skin. They also do a range of bubble bars that are basically solid bath foam...some, such as the Comforter and Blue Skies, are large enough to be broken up to use in several baths...in addition, if you live in a soft water area, you will get tonnes more baths from your bubble bars. The great thing about the bubble bars is that they really, really foam, unlike the pathetic bubbles you get from some products. For the avid bath fan, Lush also do a range of gorgeous soaps to scrub you up and smooth you down, a few bath melts which leave your skin lovely and moisturised, and body bars to scrub away the rough bits. For those who prefer showers, Lush do a range of shower gels as well as shower jellies and butter creams (literally shower gel in a gel form and soapy stuff which is more like a moisturiser), and a couple of shower smoothies. Lush also do goodies for hair...besides the regular shampoo and conditioner (many of the shampoos come in solid form, which is a novel experience to use, but they really lather quite well), they also do hair mask like treatments, henna for dyeing the hair, and Snake Oil, which is rank smelling but apparently the best thing in the world for dandruff. They also have a fantastic new range of hair gels, two of which have amazing names..."Goth Juice" and "King of the Mods" (Mighty Boosh fans will love this). For your facial skin Lush also do cleansers, toners and moisturisers, face masks, hand and body creams and the indulgent body butters, which are really solid moisturising blocks. In the random section, Lush do solid massage bars of cocoa butter which are wonderfully softening on the skin, lip and temple balm, dusting powder (posh talc), fragrances, shaving cream, deoderant bars and even toothpastes! They also do gorgeous gift sets ranging from £5-100, for those of you feeling very, very generous.


                        The shops

                        Lush's shops are small and very cluttered, but they have a nice natural feel to them, lots of wood and product descriptions written on blackboards...these are great as they tell you the full ingredients and the effect the product has. The smell in the shops is overpowering for some, but I just love it...a heady, incensey, soapy mix of delight...there's so many smells in it its just an impossible smell to describe, but it is just gorgeous. The staff are generally friendly and usually very knowledgeable about the product, however the arty farty image of Lush does tend to attract some right prats who work there, but then you get that everywhere. Generally Lush stuff are great fans of the products, so they know all about them, and are great at recommending things for certain problems such as dry skin, or gifts for people. They tend to be very nice and chatty too. Of course this varies from shop to shop, I find the Edinburgh Princes street staff much more pleasant than the Ocean Terminal ones (we're lucky enough to have two Lushes in our city!).


                        The website

                        Lush have an exhaustive website which is clear and easy to navigate...it has the same detailed product descriptions and ingredients lists as you will find in the shops, and clear pictures of the products which is always helpful. The checkout process is quick and easy to use. Lush also has a very large online forum of its devotees, something which personally I'm not a part of, but I hear its very good.


                        The products

                        Lush's products are absolutely amazing. A Lush bath is a lovely indulgent one which makes you feel absolutely wonderful. Even if you arent into bubbley baths, the likes of their moisturisers are fragrances are unique and wonderful. Lush gives you beautiful smooth skin if you use their facial and body moisturisers, and the smells they have are usually just beautiful...there are a few very strange smelling one, the worst one of which was a grassy smelling soap which my friend delightfully said smelt of "man juice". As I say, there are a few bad apples among their stock...I have never got the hang of the shower jellies myself, especially seeing as Lush eradicated a perfectly good and much loved line of shower gels in order to make room for them (more on that later). Lush arent as good for doing a range of smells as they used to be, they used to use a lot more pungent fragrances like cinnamon and frankincense, now most of their stock smells like sweeties, but then I like sweeties!


                        My top six Lush products (because I couldn't just choose five)

                        1. Buffy: Now simply called Buffy, it was originally "Buffy the Backside Slayer". I'm going to assume the makers of Buffy threatened to sue them. Buffy is not the nicest smelling Lush product, although not unpleasant, nor the prettiest or most indulgent. But it IS one of the best. Its a scrubby moisturising bar made from shea and cocoa butter and ground up bits to scrub away all of your rough bits...brilliant for use around your bum and legs...as they feel like silk afterwards. It is presumably a good thing to use on cellulite and generally just helps to firm up wobbly bits and make them extra smooth and soft. Buffy can work out pricey, 1 90g bar is £4.50 and will do maybe three baths, and a big one is £8.75. I wish I could afford this one every week as it works wonders!

                        2. Brazened Honey face mask: A gorgeous mask for fairly delicate skin, I've found, and also dull or tired looking skin. It feels quite "hot" when you apply it, apparently because of the herbs and spices in it. It has ground almonds in to provide some gentle exfoliation, and honey in to moisturise. Other face masks probably smell and look better (there are chocolate and berry scented ones), but this is the most useful for my skin type, I've found. Its gentle enough to be used on most skin types too, yet you can really feel it working thanks to the fact that its a "heating" mask. Just lovely.

                        3. Gorgeous moisturiser: Trust me to pick the most expensive moisturiser in the place! For the princely sum of £35 you can take home the finest moisturiser in the shop, in my opinion. Gorgeous is great for all skin types and is a lovely light moisturiser. I find quite a few Lush moisturisers make my skin greasy, but Gorgeous doesnt contain cocoa butter and so isnt nearly as bad for this. It is made up with lots of organic oils, hence the price and has a gorgeous delicate fragrance to it, slightly floral but not overpowering like a few of Lush's floral products. It is, indeed, Gorgeous.

                        4. American cream solid perfume: The scent of American Cream conditioner is a Lush favourite, and after they made a limited edition liquid version that was snapped up by greedy people and hawked on Ebay, I'm so glad they made a solid version. It comes in a tiny metal tin like their lip balm tins, but lasts ages...just apply with your fingers, its a cocoa-buttery solid like a lot of their products. American Cream has a gorgeous sherbety vanilla smell, sweet but not too much and very individual, and it makes a wonderful perfume. At £4.95 for a little tin that lasts forever, this is a bargain!

                        5. The Comforter Bubble Bar: Another sherbet sweet fragrance, this one smelling like blackberries. Turns the bath a yummy pink, creates masses of bubbles and lasts for ages as it can be broken into bits...just as well cos it costs £3.75. Great for sugar cravings I find, a bath in this sweetie smelling stuff helpls to reduce cravings and is thoroughly relaxing.

                        6. Butterball bath ballistic: Butterball has been a Lush ballistic for as long as I can remember using Lush...which is a testament to how good it is. It is smaller than most of the Lush bombs, and costs £1.95. It has lumps of cocoa butter in, so when it fizzes away in the water it leaves the water full of cocoa buttery goodness, meaning you come out of the bath with skin like silk. It also smells heavenly, a mild and sweet vanilla and ylang ylang smell. Mmmm.


                        Price

                        Lush can be expensive but its products usually work out good value for money. The larger bath ballistics can be broken up to be used in several baths, as can the bubble bars...but even then it may be a few quid a bath, which is expensive compared to bottled bath foam. However you find Lush's products, except for the soaps which tend to melt away very quickly, last very well. The solid perfumes and lip balms will last ages, and the moisturisers tend to be quite rich because of the cocoa butter in them, so you only need small amounts. The solid face cleansers in particular last ages. So although Lush can initially seem expensive, it works out great value for money.


                        Any bad bits about Lush?

                        Lush in their earlier days were much more natural than they are now...you see many more "red" (or synthetic) ingredients in their lists now than you used to...and one of the Christmas shower gels, Snow Fairy, was almost entirely chemical based. This is similar to the Body Shop...they started out natural and as they got bigger and richer they started using more and more chemicals in their products. You can see this in the changes in their fragrances...Lush used to do a lot larger ranges of scent, that smelled different to much of the stuff now, which smells like sweets and chocolate. It is a shame for those attracted to Lush for their ethics, but of course it is the nature of businesses to sell out as they get bigger.

                        Some items can work out pricey...if you use Lush soap all the time you will probably go through quite a lot of money as they disappear so quickly, similarly if you cant have a bath without a bubble bar or ballistic you will find yourself skint!

                        Lush care very much about animal testing but hardly seem to care about fairtrade. There is one shower gel called "The Olive Branch" which is gorgeous and uses fair trade ingredients, and perhaps a couple of other products too, but by and large Lush uses standard ingredients. I think its a real shame when companies push no animal testing policies and forget that there are people in the world who could use our help as well, and I'd like to see Lush expanding more in the way of using fairtrade ingredients too.

                        My main bugbear when it comes to Lush is that they are always getting rid of products. Their excuse is that they have small shops and cant stock everything, which is fair enough, but they also have a mail order site, and I dont see why they couldnt discontinue products in the shop but make them still available through mail order. They used to do a beautiful yoghurty banana soap called Banana Moon which I adored...not only that, it had therapuetic value as it always cheered me up on cold winters nights. I've been a tad annoyed with them ever since they discontinued it. Even worse, this discontinuation seems to be a sly business strategy, as they regularly have online votes on the forum where the members vote for the discontinued products they want made up again for a limited edition period. Of course the people who adored the discontinued products end up spending a fortune stocking up on their old favourites. As I've said, I dont think there's any reason why they couldnt make smaller batches of these products and sell them through mail order only, instead of disappointing the people who aren't into Lush's new policy of "Make it smell like sweeties".


                        Having said all this, I still love Lush and never use anything else on my face, and when I can afford it, nothing else in the bath or shower. Their products smell gorgeous and work beautifully, and as mostly they last well tend to be good value for money. Add in their ethics and Lush are a very good company to be a regular consumer of. I always get comments on how yummy I smell when I use their stuff, and my skin is always beautifully soft. If you havent tried them yet, definitely give them a go!

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                        • More +
                          15.01.2008 22:20
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                          Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

                          I'm still suffering in the land of diet, but I might have caved last night and eaten a few of these after some idiot bought them...I can resist some chocolates, but not these...I adore Lindt chocolate, especially their milk chocolates, because they are just so rich and creamy tasting they are hard to beat...well worth the extra cost if you ask me. These are smooth round chocolate truffles filled with soft melty milk chocolate inside. Chocgasm!


                          The packaging

                          Lindt has a classy image and the muted red, white and gold boxes these come in fit that image nicely...they are slightly Christmassy, but not garishly so. The chocolates themselves are further wrapped in old fashioned wrappers with twists at either side...probably not the best for the environment, but they suit Lindt's image well.


                          The taste

                          Oh. My. God. This has to be the best thing I've ever had in my mouth (don't even think about saying it). The coating is rich, creamy and smooth, very milky tasting chocolate, and biting into the center, it gets even better. The filling is gooey, soft and buttery, deliciously creamy and not too sweet. This is the thing I love about Lindt...their milk chocolates are very rich on the creamy milk taste and aren't sickly sweet like a lot of chocolates. After a few of these you will begin to feel slightly chocolated out, however.

                          The review is of the milk chocolate variety, but you can also get dark chocolate (quite nice but a bit heavy on the cocoa, especially in the soft centre, for my liking), white chocolate (far too sweet and sickly) and hazelnut (just like milk chocolate but with a nutty hint to them).


                          The damage

                          At £3.46 for 200g, these are pretty expensive. Personally I think they are worth it for a treat because the quality of the chocolate is just lovely...these are great for buying at Christmas (as well as birthdays, halloween and any day that ends in Y). Lindor also comes in bar form for £1.98...also pretty damned pricey, especially if you scarf the lot in one go, as I tend to do.


                          If you havent tried these and you are a fan of chocolate, I suggest you give them a try now, they are just gorgeous, the best chocolate I have ever tasted...I think Willy Wonka works in their factory.

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                          • Lush I should Coco / Bath & Shower / 35 Readings / 31 Ratings
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                            15.01.2008 19:09
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                            Well at least it smells nice!

                            I Should Coco is one of Lush's longer lasting soaps that has survived the irritating and numerous product purges the company seems to have a yen for. It is a simple coconut scented soap designed to moisturise and exfoliate the skin in a gentle way, and its a nice pink and white colour, like those pink and white coconut tablet-y sweets you get.

                            Ingredients

                            Limonene , Linalool , Colour 18050 , Coriander Oil (Coriandrum sativum) , Creamed Coconut Infusion (Cocos nucifera) , Desiccated Coconut (Cocos nucifera) , EDTA , Glycerine , Orange Oil (Citrus dulcis) , Perfume , Propylene Glycol , Sodium Chloride , Sodium Palm Kernelate , Sodium Stearate , Tetrasodium Editronate , Titanium Dioxide , Vetivert Oil (Vetiveria zizanoides)
                            This one has both coconut infusion and dessicated coconut...the former great for smoothing and moisturising the skin, and the latter great for exfoliating it. Orange and coriander oils are great for toning the skin.

                            The scent
                            Sweet and coconutty. Fairly simple really. Its a nice, mild smell if you like the smell of coconuts, and it lingers on the skin but softly so, not in a cloying way. I cant think of much else to say about the smell of this one, to be honest, its one of Lush's less complicated smell, just simple coconut soap.

                            Using it
                            I Should Coco is nice to use at first, when the dessicated coconut is sitting on top of the bar, and you can both wash and scrub. I find that as the bar wears away, you are left with more coconut and hardly any soap at all, so its more just a skin scrub than a soap really. It can also seem quite harsh on the skin when it gets down to this point, and it makes the soap fairly poor value for money, even for Lush soap. It doesn't lather very well either. It does soften the skin quite nicely, however, and the smell left on your skin is lovely and sweet in an unobstrusive way.

                            The damage
                            At £2.15 for 100g this is one of Lush's cheapest soap. Unfortunately most of Lush's soaps have a tendency to disappear quite quickly, more so than normal soap which tends to be harder. So they tend to work out quite bad value for money and better for treating yourself than using all the time. It helps to keep them somewhere dry, not in a sloppy wet dish by the tub.

                            All in all, I should Coco is not one of Lush's better soaps...why it has lasted so long when so many far better products have gotten the boot is beyond me. It has a lovely smell, but as a soap it just doesnt work that well.

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                            • More +
                              14.01.2008 22:19
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                              They dont mention it makes you look like a bee as well as smell like one

                              Honey Bee is one of Lush's more attractive bath bombs. Bright yellow with stripes of sandy stuff (presumably the rhassoul mud) that makes it look like a very bright bumble bee. On smelling, it gives off an unbelievably sweet honey smell. Been a sugar addict and a big fan of products that smell like sweets and honey, I had to give this a try!


                              Ingredients

                              Limonene , Linalool , Aloe Vera Extract (Aloe barbadensis) , Benzyl Benzoate , Bergamot Oil (Citrus bergamia) , Citric Acid , Gardenia Extract (Gardenia jasminoides) , Honey (Mel) , Perfume , Rhassoul Mud , Sodium Bicarbonate , Sweet Orange Oil (Citrus dulcis).
                              Honey Bee is one of the more natural Lush products, which is nice because as new products come out I find they are straying further away from natural ingredients and into the dodgy realm of chemicals. Aloe vera extract is renowned for soothing the skin, rhassoul mud is used in pricey beauty parlours (and Morocco) for its deep cleansing effect, and honey too is known for its soothing effects.


                              The smell

                              HoneyBee has a smell so sweet it verges on sickly. This appeals to me as I love sweet and fruity smelling stuff, but I can see how a lot of people would find this overpowering. It does smell very much like honey, and also a little like the smell of caramel being made in a pan. This is on the first whiff. Drop it in the tub and you will notice the addition of a light floral smell, presumably the gardenia extract at work. Despite the overpowering smell, the fragrance left on your skin is soft and light, but still lovely and sweet.


                              The effects

                              Aside from the horrifying Hulkifying I got (later on in the review), Honeybee is a pretty nice product to use. My skin felt lovely and soft after using it...one of the nice things about Lush is they give the bath water this creamy feeling, and you can almost feel the product working on your skin. The sandy bits could be good for exfoliation if you use the technique some people use of wrapping the ballistic in muslin before putting it in the tub. Aside from the yellow effect, this is a lovely product.


                              The damage

                              At £2.50 per bath, HoneyBee is not cheap if you get addicted to the stuff! Also, when you factor in the Cillit Bang you will have to buy in addition to this, it works out even more expensive. As with most ballistics, wrapping it well and throwing it onto a stone floor will (hopefully) break it up so you can get two or three baths out of it, which makes it much better value for money!


                              Oh s*&t!

                              Me and my bathtub are both well-used to the fact that Lush is bad, very very bad, for dyeing multi coloured rings down the sides of the bath...I imagined Honey Bee would be particularly bad, and my suspicions were confirmed when I saw the sulphurous yellow colour that Honey Bee dyed the bathwater. However, little did I realise that Honey Bee would not only dye the bath, but my sodding SKIN as well! Yes, I got out of the bath with patches of yellow, looking like I was turning into a Tango version of the Incredible Hulk...bloody wonderful. Fortunately, the dye stains came off my skin with my next bath, but it's still worrying to have to put up with yellow stained skin until your next bath. I looked like I'd been rubbing cigarettes all over myself! Lush's products, being handmade, can be variable, and I have used Honey Bee before and I havent had this problem, so its likely I just got a bad batch. I should complain and get some free goodies!


                              Lush cocktail

                              When I'm feeling flush (which is never recently), combining Lush products to create bathy cocktails is one of my favourite spare time occupations. For those with a sweet tooth, try Honey Bee combined with Butterball and/or the toffee scented Ma Bar...great for curing sugar cravings! If you're more of a floral person, combining Honey Bee with jasmine scented Youki-Hi will create the sweetest smelling bath you'll ever have!


                              If it wasnt for the unfortunately skin dyeing incident, I'd give Honey Bee a five star rating, but sadly going around with yellow skin for a day tends to colour (no pun intended) your views on a certain product. I might well buy another one, but just to sniff in the bag, I think my days of Honey Bee baths are well and truly over!

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                              • Homemade Cocktails / Recipe / 31 Readings / 31 Ratings
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                                14.01.2008 17:03
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                                Mmmm...heightened blood pressure

                                I used to be a huge fan of Baileys, recently I've found myself going off it...its not the creaminess that makes me chuck, its the whisky. This recipe is so delicious I'm tempted to try and make it without the alcohol...hmm, well maybe once I'm finished dieting to help me put all that weight back on! Basically what this is is a cholesterol party in a glass, its much richer and creamier than Baileys, but for a treat it is delicious, if you are insane enough to put your cholesterol level (and liver) through the trauma.


                                Recipe for homemade Baileys

                                Quarter bottle of whiskey
                                2 large eggs (salmonella here we come)
                                1 large tin of evaporated milk OR a similar amount of cream...double cream if your arteries are feeling particularly suicidal but this is too much fat even for me.
                                1 tin of condensed milk
                                1 teaspoon of instant coffee
                                1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
                                1 teaspoon of almond extract
                                (optional) teaspoon of hot chocolate powder
                                Some people also add sugar to this...as if it isnt already sweet enough!


                                The complicated procedure for making this recipe involves sticking it all in a blender and giving it a whizz.


                                I've heard of millions of different variations of this recipe using different amounts of alcohol and condensed milk, and you can omit or increase the amounts of coffee, vanilla and almond to suit your taste. You might find the recipe too thick for your liking, in which case its easy to mess around with until you find the consistency you like...I tend to reduce the alcohol level because its the rich cream taste that I love. It might be worth making smaller amounts first until you get the flavour you want...in the spirit of saving precious alcohol and all!

                                Basically this has a much richer and creamier taste than real Baileys, I actually prefer it because of this. Its thick and gloopy and probably enough to make dairy haters feel a bit sick. Its also not going to be particularly good for either your waistline or your liver, so I tend to make this to treat myself on birthdays and at Christmas. It is very indulgent and you will probably feel full of cream after just a glass, another reason to make small amounts because it wont keep for long in the fridge! If you love Irish cream you'll adore this.


                                Sorry if this review seems a little short but I'm afraid it's just a recipe and I cant think of much else to add!

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                                • Kopparberg Pear Cider / Beer / Cider / 40 Readings / 34 Ratings
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                                  13.01.2008 19:34
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                                  Pears over apples any day!

                                  No longer the stereotypical drink of chavs on street corners and farmers, cider has been given a classy image overhaul thanks to the likes of Magners and Bulmers. Kopparberg used to be a little known brand in the UK but it seems to have benefited from the image change and is now reasonably easy to find, and even easier to drink.


                                  Where to get it

                                  Kopparberg used to be hard to find and may not be stocked in your local offies however Tesco and Asda certainly stock it, Wetherspoons bars and an increasing number of pubs and clubs are waking up to its pear-shaped charms.


                                  The packaging

                                  Kopparberg comes in fairly chunky pint size bottles, looking more like beer bottles than the tapered Magners and Bulmers one. It has classy gold writing on a black label with a pear, just in case you are too hammered to read that it is, indeed, pear cider. The label is quite upmarket and sophisticated looking.


                                  The taste

                                  Cracking open the bottle, you will immediately be overpowered by the incredibly sweet smell of the brew, and it does taste as sweet as it smells. Apple cider never seems to taste like apples but that this certainly tastes like pears...it has a delicious sweet and fruity taste. Its also wonderfully refreshing...the kind of drink that would be nice in a beer garden on a summers day. Its also good when you're absolutely hammered and going off the taste of whatever you're drinking...a pint of Kopparberg towards the end of the night is a great way to wake you up and prepare you for the long journey home to your bed, and wash the foul beer/vodka taste out of your mouth. Kopparberg doesnt taste particuarly alcoholic at all, just lovely and fruity.


                                  Alcohol content

                                  At 4.5%, Kopparberg isnt the strongest of ciders...Magners is 5% as is Strongbow, Bulmers is the same as Kopparberg. A pint of Kopparberg provides about 2.5 units...don't quote me on that, I'm getting those facts from the web, which also tells me that George Bush orchestrated 9/11 and that there is now a religion of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. For the teetotallers, Kopparberg also do non-alcoholic pear cider, which I will definitely be trying when I can find it!


                                  The price

                                  Expect to pay upwards of £2.95 for this baby in bars. Its certainly a pricey option to get hammered on. Asda sell Kopparberg for £1.77 a bottle, as compared to £1.56 for Bulmers and £5.48 for four cans of Magners of an equal size...so £1.37 a pint. So Kopperberg is on the pricey side, but in my opinion it's worth it and I'd recommend you try it at least once!


                                  The super-sweet flavour of Kopparberg will probably not appeal to a lot of people, and if you love the sharp tangy flavour of normal apple cider you might not like it, but for fans of sweet drinks it's just divine...well worth the extra cost and effort involved in finding and buying the stuff!

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