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QueenM

QueenM
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Member since: 20.02.2012

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      15.01.2013 12:51
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      A great piece of machinery that will have you fighting fit if you're willing to put the work in!

      As someone who worked out fairly regularly, it came as a bit of a surprise to me when I realised that I hadn't exercised in 2 months and had gained quite a bit of weight due to that. My original cross trainer had broken and with the stresses of Christmas approaching, work and exams, I just never got round to replacing the cross trainer or working out in any other way. It wasn't until the dress I'd bought to wear on Christmas Eve wouldn't fully zip up that I realised quite how badly I'd let myself get out of control and it was then and there I decided I needed to replace my poor, broken cross trainer.

      I'm not one for spending a lot of money on things unless I know it's going to be worth it. I hate returning things, especially when those things require a good few hours of hard labour to test it out in the first place! After reading many reviews, considering my budget and focussing on my requirements, I settled on the Roger Black Gold Cross Trainer from Argos. There was a good deal on it (which is still running now, but I'll focus on that later) and it has a wide range of tension and resistance which was of huge importance to me.

      *I won't be commenting on my horrendous experience with Argos and their delivery system as that is nothing to do with the product itself, however I will be posting a review on that service in the near future if you're interested.*

      First Impressions
      -----------------------

      As stated on the website, the product weighs 46kg and requires assembly, so I expected it to be quite a large, hefty box however I was quite taken aback by the actual size of the box given to me. The cross trainer comes packaged well in an incredibly sturdy cardboard box which is packed full with polystyrene to protect the inside product. The box has a clear print of what the finished product should look like, along with the name of the product, the weight of the box and a warning that moving the box in any way requires two people to do so for their own safety.
      I'm also advised that assembling the cross trainer also requires two people and 1-2 hours so after roping my mum into the mix and hunting down a screwdriver, we had our little building team ready to go!

      Assembly
      ------------

      Opening the box? Easy.
      Getting the bugger out of the box? Not so easy.
      The polystyrene packed into the box made it incredibly difficult to get anything out of the box, it was simple enough to pull out the little bits and bobs that would have to be bolted together later on, but the base of the cross trainer was already in tact and it was not coming out of that box! We could lift it no problem between the two of us, however lifting it brought the box with it instead of leaving it empty on the ground. Only the two of us were home, so we decided to cut open one side of the box and get it out that way.
      Easier said than done.
      15 minutes and a coping saw later, the side of the box had been cut out and we could safely remove the cross trainer base from the box. This was looking like it was going to be a long two hours!

      The provided instructions are not particularly great, the diagrams, although large, are poorly constructed and the written steps to alongside them are only useful if 1) you have experience with bolts and washers (not me!) or 2) the diagrams are clear (nope, not this either).
      One thing I did find useful in the instruction book is that they provide an image, description and measurement of each and every type of bolt/washer/part that you'll need and a ruler along the bottom edge of the page to measure it up with. What they didn't do, however, was noticed that this ruler covered up the name and dimensions of the parts in the bottom row of the table, so it ended up being a bit of a game. It also wasn't made clear whether you measure the inside of the washer, or the entire washer itself - I discovered that you measure the inside of the washer though, so not to worry, it wasn't too much of a disaster.

      The bolts etc all came packaged on two sheets of cardboard with a sticky covering laid over to keep them in place. At first I thought it must've been a genius who thought of this because they included a little diagram, the name and measurements of each part on the cardboard too - "great!" I thought, "I can match these up perfectly and it'll be easy!"
      Nope. Nothing is easy in life. When you pull the sticky covering off, it also pulls off the printed measurements etc too, so you're left with a cardboard sheet and loads of parts in one hand, and a sticky covering with ripped up measurements in the other hand. Maybe not a genius after all...

      Getting to the actual assembly wasn't too problematic to start with though, you begin by bolting on the feet and you work your way up from there. The cross trainer parts weren't a problem at all actually, every problem we had was either with the bolts/washers etc, or my mum just being a pain and getting in the way! We often found that the bolts and screws didn't quite line up with the holes, which meant that we either had to find a way to just jam it in, or leave it out altogether. In the case of having 4 bolts to hold something in place, and only one not fitting, we figured we'd just leave it out and get my dad or boyfriend to try it later on. I would recommend that you have a spanner and screwdriver to hand before attempting to build this though, as they provide two allen keys for you to tighten things, yet half of the bolts and screws can't be tightened by an allen key. Brilliant!

      2.5 hours later, the thing was built and quite frankly, I never wanted to see it ever again. No more bolts. No more screws. No more washers. They can just stay out of my life for the next few years!

      Usage
      --------

      Unlike my previous cross trainer which was just a cheap air cross trainer (meaning the resistance is caused by air, not by having an actual resistance setting), this cross trainer has 16 resistance settings, a 6kg rear flywheel and 9 workout programs already plugged in to the system for you. This is also a mains powered cross trainer, although the electronic screen does have spaces for batteries, we haven't quite worked out why because the trainer itself needs power for the resistance etc to work.

      On first use, I set it for a quick 20 minutes and didn't bother inputting my height, weight etc, although it does give you the opportunity to do this for a more accurate calorie count. It wasn't until I first started that I realised just how much more of a workout an electric tension control gives you as opposed to the air resistance. In the past, I could easily power on for an hour, only glistening slightly when I'd finished my workout. With this cross trainer, my legs were burning within 5 minutes, I was sweating within 10 and by the end of the full 20 minutes, I thought I was going to drop dead. Bearing in mind, this was on resistance level 2 - not exactly a high setting!

      I'd met my match, and he was called Roger Black.

      Alongside it being a torture machine, I noticed that it was 10x quieter than my previous cross trainer. My old one used to whir and whizz like an exploding washing machine, but this one is so smooth and can't be heard in any other room. The only noise it makes that can be heard elsewhere is a quick beeping noise it makes when you switch it on at the plug.

      The attached computer is incredibly useful, with a multitude of settings for your workout. I've only been setting the time for mine because I can't really be bothered faffing about with the rest, but for someone who is interested in that, I can see it being a handy tool!
      I've only used one of the set programs so far, and again, I wanted someone to shoot me. My legs and bum were burning by the very end, but boy will they thank me later! You can set each program for however long you want and it will alter it based on the length of workout you want, which is fantastic. The idea of the programs is to either mimic hill training or interval training, resulting in optimum fat burning for your cardio workout. You can even test this by the pulse sensors on the stationary handles, however I tend to stick with the moving handles to ensure my arms get a workout out too.

      At the end of your workout, you'll hear another beep which is music to my ears. The sound of the Gods! It's over for another day!

      Overall
      ---------

      It might feel like a torture machine to start with, but I've lost 6lbs in 3 weeks and I've gone from dying after 20 minutes to being able to push myself to 30 minutes. If I can do this in 3 weeks, I'm excited to see my progress in 3 months. I only have 4lbs more to lose until I get back to my original weight and from there I'd like to lose another 10lbs and tone up a fair bit. I'd also like to point out that although this may be stating the obvious, to see the results you have to put the work in. You have to push yourself, 9 times out of 10, exercise is tougher on your mind than on your body, your mind always wants to give up first. You can do it though, and you will progress if you keep pushing. Don't let the first workout being tough allow you to give up, remind yourself that the more you do it, the easier those 20 minutes will be!

      I would highly recommend this cross trainer as it gives you a real workout without in the comfort of your own home. It doesn't take up too much space, however we have it in our spare room which has always been used for exercise equipment anyway. All of the dimensions are given on Argos.co.uk, but I'll also tell you that it's 73cm wide and 156cm long. I'd allow at least a foot at each side for movement etc too, so this will give you a fair idea of how much space you'd need if you wanted to purchase the product.
      If you're looking for a good quality, quiet cross trainer that will really work your body, then I recommend this all the way. I could never go back to an air trainer because I've realised that it just isn't a workout at all.

      As for the bolts etc, my dad managed to get the stubborn ones in and we haven't had any problems so instead of getting a young woman and her mother to build this, you should maybe recruit two strong men!

      If you're interested, Argos are currently selling this for £174.99 which is the price I paid for it and £55 off of the original price. It is item number 335/8780 in Argos and can be ordered both online or in store, which makes it convenient for everyone. I didn't have the greatest of experiences with the delivery service from Argos, but it is currently being resolved and I hope you don't let the thought of that put you off of ordering this great piece of equipment.

      Lastly, would I change anything?
      -----------------------------------------

      I've loved the resistance levels and the quietness of the machine, but I would've loved for this to come with a bottle holder for my water. Any good workout requires hydration so I'm always a bit shocked when gym equipment can't accomodate a water bottle, but I'm looking into getting a bottle holder fitted myself anyway.
      I'd also recommend that you put a mat under the cross trainer just to stop any wobbles there may be due to the surface of your floor or if you have any bouncy floorboards. Other than that, I wouldn't change a thing. Except maybe how crap I am at DIY...

      I'll be awarding this item 4 Dooyoo stars, with the removal of one star only being for the difficulty I personally had putting it together.

      Thanks for reading, and stay healthy!

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        16.11.2012 15:49
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        There are things I feel very strongly about, higher education being one of them. I feel that if you are going to bother aiming for a degree, you should be putting your all into it. However employment during your student years can only be beneficial to a person, in my opinion. Employment is no more detrimental to a student than the constant partying and drinking that students are known for.

        I currently work part time hours, 5 days a week with 2 days at university and coursework on top of that. During my years as a working student, I've developed time management skills that I would not have had the chance to develop if it were not for my working schedule. As an unemployed student, I would have all the time in the world to get my coursework done, whereas I currently have to work that around my job.
        I'm also gaining experience in the working world whilst working towards my degree, something that is of great value to me. I'm constantly looking towards the future and thinking about graduate positions and future careers, wondering if my CV will be good enough for my dream position. If I'd spent 4 years doing nothing but studying and partying, I'd be incredibly worried that a possible employer would be questioning why I couldn't have held a part time job at nights and weekends. There are some students that are incredibly lucky to have their parents funding their student years, however although it seems like the worlds best idea at the time, those students tend to be the ones struggling to find a position at the end of their degree. They have no experience and haven't developed those crucial time management skills along with the other valuable skills that different jobs teach a person.

        I find it shocking that there are students I know, doing the same course as me that say they don't have the time to get a job, yet spend 3 or 4 nights a week out getting drunk. Spend that time working and you'll feel far more refreshed in the morning and far more proud of yourself at the end of the day.
        Now that isn't to say I don't go out and party or I don't enjoy myself. I live a very fulfilling life, I actually could not be happier with my life and the things I get to do, however I am of the opinion that a fulfilling life can only come from working for it. If I were to live off of my parents and let them pay for my holidays and partying whilst all I did was go to university a few hours a week and write some essays/reports etc, I'd feel a bit like a leech. The good things in my life are made 10x better knowing that I've worked for them and earned them.

        Along with feeling fulfilled, working 5 hours one night versus spending those hours getting drunk doesn't effect my abilities to do anything the next day. I wake up and can go ahead and carry on with studying or going to the gym etc, whereas spending the night getting drunk usually throws me off for a day or two afterwards. Alcohol really doesn't mix well with me and it takes me a day or two to really feel normal again - time that I can't quite sacrifice during these important years. A lot of people use the 3 core years of their degree to spend as much time as drunk as possible then stressing out during their final year because they have no idea how to deal with the workload. I can safely say that my work schedule and workload at the minute are preparing me for the workload in my final year. I'll be able to cut down my hours at work and use those towards studying while others will struggle to cut social time from their routine. I may sound like a bit of a bore and like I never get out, but my free time is always spent with friends/family/my boyfriend and I always have something to look forward to, rather than looking forward to another night out on the lash and then spending 4 days a week with a killer hangover.

        I would encourage every student out there to go ahead and look for a part time job, even just in a shop or a bar. The extra money at the end of the month is a huge bonus and you'll gain valuable experience and skills from just giving up a few hours a week. Go on, make your parents proud!

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          09.11.2012 22:20
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          Disclaimer: contains some naughty comments. If that isn't to your taste, please don't feel obligated to keep reading.

          Spontaneous. One word that describes me perfectly in some aspects, and not at all in others.
          Tell me we're going out for dinner and I'll memorize the menu beforehand so that I know there'll be something I can eat.
          Tell me you've got a weekend off work and I'll splurge on a trip and not really think about the extras we might need, usually resulting in a bit of a hectic start to the trip, but I suppose it just makes it all the more enjoyable when we eventually get there.

          One recent mishap as a result of my spontaneous trip planning, was a fiasco at the airport. I know what you're thinking, what does this have to do with deodorant? But bare with me.
          6am and I'm at the airport with my boyfriend, ready to go through security checks for a domestic flight. As always, I'm pulled aside for further searching (must be something intimidating about my 5'4 stature and winning smile!) and approved to carry on a few moments later. However this time it didn't go quite how it normally does. The lady behind the bag scanner pulled me aside and demanded I empty my case for searching while another member of staff pulled my little baggy of liquids away for vapour testing.
          After worrying that someone had planted something in my bag when we grabbed breakfast earlier, I was then told that the thing setting off alarm bells for them was my deodorant. A nice big aerosol. Stupid me completely forgot that you can't bring a giant aerosol onto a plane in your hand luggage. All that worry for nothing. They discarded it for me and let us through to the departure lounge, but wait, how would I keep my pits free from sweat over the next few days?
          Well thank goodness for Boots! I popped in and grabbed the first roll on deodorant I could see - Nivea Sensitive & Pure - then went on my merry way.

          For someone who really despises roll on deodorant, I actually had high hopes for this one. I'm not sure if it's the simple but pretty packaging or just because I'm an optimistic fool, but either way, my high hopes were quickly shattered.

          The deodorant comes in a sturdy glass bottle with a curved groove on the backside. The lid is a simple white twist off cap that runs flush with the bottle and the label continues with the simplistic feel by sticking to basic, light colours. There's a hint of lavender detail on the label, along with the Nivea logo and the product name. I'm told that this is an antiperspirant for sensitive skin that will last up to 48 hours, whilst also being 100% free from alcohol, perfume and preservatives. For displaying such a good amount of information about a product, I'll give Nivea 10 points because the label is very basic to look at.

          As for the product itself, the cap twists off, easily as you'd expect. Underneath, there's a white ball, typical of a roll on deodorant and no noticeable scent. On first use, I had to roll the deodorant a few times before I felt any product actually coming out but instantly regretting letting the white, sticky substance touch my skin. My boyfriend had made the comment that it looked like semen in the bottle, but I didn't think it'd actually feel like that's what I was rubbing into my pits.
          With any normal roll on deodorant, it feels a bit wet to start with and then you dry off and go about your day. With this, it feels incredibly gloopy and sticky and NEVER DRIES. I walked around for a good 10 minutes before getting dressed that night, still hadn't dried. I ended up patting at it a bit with a bit of toilet paper to soak up the stickiness so that I could get dressed and head out.
          The whole night I felt self conscious about my poor little pits. I'm not one to sweat much so I only ever experience the wet, sticky feeling of being sweaty if I've had a pretty heavy workout, but this made me feel like I was sweating all the time.

          Along with the feeling of having overactive glands, the scent is hardly desirable. It's a bit musty and damp smelling. Completely the opposite of something you'd want to be rubbing over your sweaty bits!

          As for working well as a deodorant, or lasting for 48 hours, I can't really comment. I showered as soon as we got back to the hotel room because I couldn't stand the rank feeling any longer. A deodorant does have to be two things for me though, 1) feel like it's keeping me dry and 2) not smell like a wet dog. This fits in with neither of those requirements and therefore went straight into the bin. Goodbye £2.10. It was nice knowing you.

          I will point out one positive - I experienced no actual skin irritations from this, other than the personal irritation of how it made me feel.

          If you feel compelled to test this sticky mess out for yourself, pop down to your local Boots, hand them 2 of your hard earned pounds (and then some!) and enjoy. Either that or have a bit of fun with your favourite man and get him to aim right for your pits, you'll save yourself the money and the trip to Boots!

          Obviously, I'm giving this deodorant only 1, little piddly star. It cheated it's way into that one though, Dooyoo doesn't allow any less.

          Thanks for reading!
          This was a bit different to my old reviews, I wanted to change it up a bit seeing as review reading can get a bit boring, hope you enjoyed it.

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          14.09.2012 13:59
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          iPhone falls out of locker at work? Smashed.
          iPhone falls off of a shelf when it vibrates? Smashed.
          iPhone gets so much as looked at the wrong way? Smashed.

          Okay, maybe it's not quite that bad, however I have had the back of my iPhone 4 smash twice and it was twice too many! Luckily, the Apple Store is a 20 second walk from work, so I managed to get it fixed within minutes on my lunch break and I picked up a protective case for it too. I settled on the Hampton Rose print from Cath Kidston range as it was the only one in the store that I even liked a little bit, but now I look at it to be one of the best things I've ever bought.

          The case itself is shaped just like an iPhone 4, except it's a tiny bit bigger so that the phone fits inside. It has a squoval cut out of the back so that you can still take photos and there are sections on the side, top and bottom so you can access all of the little buttons and holes. The print is set on an off white base, with pink and blue flowers scattered all over. It's the typical Cath Kidston girly floral pattern, and now that I'm used to having it, I actually really love it. It looks really cute and I can tell my phone appart from my boyfriend's when they're sitting together now.

          The case is made from quite a strong, hard plastic with an almost soft touch coating over it. I loved the feeling of the coating, however it looked filthy within a week, despite me having incredibly clean hands (I'm definitely a germophobe) and it scratched incredibly easy. I actually thought that it was just poor quality and that the pattern would come off with the coating, however the more it chipped off, I realised that the pattern was imprinted onto the plastic itself so I ended up peeling the coating off one day to be left with a beautiful white base again. I much prefer the case now that it's pure white with the flowers, and the plastic is easily cleaned, therefore won't be looking dirty like it did with the coating over it.

          To put the case on, you simply pop one side of the phone in and then push the other in. It'll make a little click sound when it's in fully and then it won't budge, as much as you try! One thing that does bother me is that it adds a few mm to the back of the phone which is a problem in some iPod docks. You then have to take the case off to use it in the dock, which is a nightmare because it's such a tight fit. This isn't really a complaint though because anything other than a tight fit wouldn't be protective, it's just a bit of a niggle really.

          Aside from being cute, it's also saved me from a few mishaps! The lockers we have at work are pretty horrendous and my phone falls out when I open the door at least twice a month. I was worried that this case wouldn't be too protective as it's a hard plastic and therefore might break itself if dropped from a height, but my butterfingers have let it go a fair few times and it's still going strong. The plastic itself has never chipped, only the coating on top, so now that I've removed that it still looks brand new, despite having had it for 3-4 months now.

          When I first bought it, I was scared that it would make the phone feel much bulkier in my hand, but it really didn't add that much to it at all and is incredibly comfortable to use.

          Another worry I had was that the area around the camera would cause problems with photos whilst using the flash, however Cath Kidston seem to have redesigned the camera hole since their first iPhone 4 cases were released. The newer cases, like mine, now have a much larger area so that the flash doesn't bounce and cause a ring around the edge of the photos. This is definitely a bonus for me as I do tend to take a lot of quick snaps with my phone.

          This did set me back £24.95 which is extortionate for a phone case (considering you can get good ones for £2.99 on ebay - something that I've only just found out), however I wouldn't be without it now. It's the same price online and in the Cath Kidston store too, so Apple don't seem to be making any more of a profit out of it than Cath Kidston are, which is good to see. I hate when stores sell branded items at a much higher price than the brand itself sells them for.

          I really do recommend this case, although I'll remove one star for the price because you really are just paying for the name. I also recommend that you go ahead and peel off the coating straight away because it'll save you the disgust of how filthy it looks after a week or two of use!

          Thanks for reading!

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            12.09.2012 22:09
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            Before my recent holiday, I decided I needed a new suitcase that would fit all of my needs. My previous suitcase was quite heavy, so it took up a lot of my baggage allowance before I even put anything into it - not good for a serial shopper like myself!
            After hours of scouring the net for the best lightweight suitcases, I decided Tripp had the best selection, so I headed to Debenhams to have a look at the range on offer. I ended up choosing two suitcases from the Express Hawaiian range which are very similar to the Sunshine Flower range and have therefore been advised to place my review here.

            The Hawaiian range offers 3 suitcases and two bags as follows:
            Small handbag
            Large handbag
            Carry on suitcase
            Medium suitcase
            Large suitcase

            I purchased the carry on suitcase and the large suitcase, therefor can only comment on these in this review.

            They are both identical in print and style, with the only difference being the obvious size difference. Both are sturdy, soft touch suitcases which wasn't really what I was after, but I found it difficult to find a lightweight hard suitcase so went with these instead. I'm INCREDIBLY glad I chose soft suitcases over a hard one now, but I'll get onto that later.
            The cases both have two wheels and an extendable handle, each with a soft handle on the top and side of the case. There are no external pockets on the cases, although they do both have a tiny black pocket on the back, just big enough to slip an address card in and out of.
            The cases themselves are a lovely navy/indigo colour with white, fuchsia and purple flowers plastered all over. It's a beautiful print and really stands out from everyone else's red/black/grey/brown suitcases. My boyfriend thought it was a bit obnoxious, but I could spot my case a mile away so I found it pretty useful.

            The carry on case is perfect for short trips away, or for some extra luggage for your holiday. It fits perfectly into all hand baggage allowances, meaning you can have it with you on the flight, along with a small handbag.
            The dimensions, 55x36x19cm mean that you can pack enough for a weekend away, or you can keep it for your souvenirs on the way home. At only 2.8kg with a 24 litre capacity, it's relatively lightweight for the size of it.
            It is fully lined with a navy and raspberry lining dotted with the Tripp logo and also has two packing straps to keep your items in place. There is one at the top of the case and one at the bottom, however I prefer the kind that meets in the middle as it seems to hold things in place better.
            As I mentioned previously, I purchased this set for my holiday so I intended on using this for extra baggage instead of things I may need on the plane. We went to Canada, New York and Germany so I had plenty of stuff to take, including an outfit for a family wedding in Canada. I decided to pack my outfit for the wedding in my carry on case so that it would be with me at all times in case my main suitcase got lost.
            Along with my dress, underwear, shoes and jacket for the wedding, I packed a spare outfit, my straighteners, my curling wand, all of my underwear, a spare pair of shoes, my travel money, a book and 8 pairs of tights. I still had a little bit of room left in the case and it only weighed around 8-9kilos. The case was then zipped up and locked with padlock that came free inside. The padlock was great quality and came with two keys, although the keys were a little flimsy and didn't come with a keyring or anything, so that irritated me a bit, but the padlock itself was great.
            Originally, the carry on case should have been £135, however I paid £29 for it on sale, and it has now been further reduced to £25. I would never in 1 million years have paid £135 for this, but I would gladly have paid anywhere up to £50 for it. It also came with a 5 year guarantee which gave me some peace of mind whilst travelling with it.

            When it came time to use the carry on case, I did find it was a bit of a bugger to drag behind me. Anytime I was zipping in and out between people it seemed to tip to the side so I did end up carrying it in Heathrow, but it was fine in every other airport as they weren't quite as busy.
            One bonus I discovered with this case is that if I put it under the chair in front of me instead of in the overhead baggage compartments, I've got myself a nice wee footrest. I can never actually reach the footrests on planes, so this was really handy!
            After two weeks and 4 countries (if you include home!) this case is still in great condition - as expected. It barely looks used and I suspect it will last me for a good few years to come. I have a weekend away coming up next month, and then another short trip in December so I plan on using this case for both of these. It's a perfect little thing and I'm so glad I bought it.

            As for the large suitcase, I could live in it. Everyone thought it was ridiculous when they first saw it as it is a mammoth of a thing, but it was perfect for what I needed it for.
            Like the carry on case, it's lightweight, roomy and comes with a padlock. It is identical to the cabin case, so I won't describe it again. The dimensions, 76x49x33cm don't sound like much written down, but when you see it you'll be shocked! It really is the biggest suitcase I've ever seen and at only 4.5kg, it's incredibly lightweight for the size. It can hold 86 litres worth of stuff, so you can pack your life away and set out on your travels.
            This suitcase is also lined with the navy/raspberry lining and has the baggage straps, again one at the top and one at the bottom. I was very impressed with these actually, as even though they don't meet in the middle of the case, they managed to hold my stuff in place very well. As I was travelling for 2 weeks, I had roughly 20 outfits, a few pairs of shoes and another book in there. By the time I finished packing, it was only half full. This left plenty room for all the shopping I planned on doing in New York!

            When it came to using the case, I didn't use the Tripp padlock as I expected it would be cut off when we landed in JFK. I used a TSA approved one instead so that they could lock it back up if they needed to search it.
            The entended handle and two wheels were my lifesavers when it came to moving it around as although it's lightweight, it would've been very heavy to walk around with. I decided to rest the cabin case on the top of the suitcase whilst dragging it around, meaning I only had the one to pull when I had both suitcases with me. It wasn't a perfect fit, which I would've expected as they are from the same collection, however the cabin case didn't ever fall off so I can't complain.

            I mentioned earlier that I'd been looking for a hard case as I'd always found them to be more robust, but this case was the only one out of our party that wasn't damaged and it was the only soft case we took. It didn't burst and none of the material has started to fray or anything, so I'm very impressed. It is also waterproof, so if you're out in the rain your possessions won't get wet - something that always bothered me about soft suitcases. Just don't submerge it into a bath because it'll probably soak through eventually.
            One thing I did notice was that because the large suitcase wasn't filled to the brim (even after all of my shopping), the front of it did pop in a bit, but I just need to pop it back out and it was fine. No damage whatsoever, it just looked a bit silly coming along the baggage belt.

            Everything about this case oozes high quality and unlike the cabin case, I would've been happy to pay the full price of £150 for this one. I managed to get it for £47 on sale which is a steal, and I believe it is now available for just £35 in Debenhams. It has sold out online, but my Debenhams still has quite a few so definitely check it out if you're interested. This also comes with a 5 year guarantee.

            Overall, I am incredibly impressed with the quality of these cases and the capacity of them combined with how lightweight they are make them perfect for my holidays! One thing I will point out is that the 5 year guarantee does not ensure you get the same suitcase back, it just ensures you'll get a replacement of the same value. It's a bit of the pain in the bum if you've bought a matching set like me, but I can't see myself needing to use the guarantee anyway.

            Thanks for reading!

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            07.09.2012 16:20
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            Going to New York City for the first time and visiting The Empire State Building kind of go hand in hand with one another, so whilst making our itinerary for our trip we obviously made plenty time to see the best view of the city.

            Our hotel was right in Times Square, so getting to The Empire State Building was incredibly easy, it's only about a 15 minute walk but as we'd managed to get ourselves lost the day before, we decided taking the subway would be our best bet. We hopped on the N line downtown from the Times Square station and got off at Herald Square, which left us with a short walk to the door of the building. Despite it being the tallest building around, it still took us a good 5 minutes to spot it so we knew which direction to go in. Unfortunately, on our walk there we were stopped by the police and told we couldn't go any further as there had been a shooting right outside the building just an hour before (August 24th). Our trip was cut short before it had even begun! Luckily we were able to access the building before leaving the city, so we made the same subway trip down a few days later and headed towards the door.

            Anyone who has been to NYC before will be well aware that there is always someone trying to sell you something, especially in Times Square. After being scammed on our first night in the city, we decided just to ignore anyone trying to sell us something in the streets, whether they looked genuine or not. On our walk down from the subway, we were stopped by 3 men dressed in purple polo shirts with "NY Skyride" printed on them. My boyfriend brushed them off, but they kept insisting that if we were going to The Empire State Building then they had a good deal for us, so we listened without promising to buy their tickets. One of the men continued on to tell us that we could go inside and get a regular ticket for $40 or we could get a VIP ticket from him that would grant us access to the NY Skyride and give us a map of the view from the top of the building. He assured us that the VIP ticket would mean we wouldn't have to wait in any queues and was only $10 more. My boyfriend told him we weren't interested as he didn't believe the spiel and asked where we go for the general observatory tickets. We were told to take the entrance on the left (33rd Street).

            The entrance on the left had around 15 people queuing up, all of which were granted access to the building without having tickets checked at the door. It wasn't until we'd gone up an elevator and taken to another queue that we realised we'd been directed straight to the NY Skyride ticket centre instead of the entrance for The Empire State Building observatory. We explained to the staff what had happened but they told us that now we were this far we would only be able to purchase a combo ticket for the skyride and the observatory. These tickets were $57 each and then a further $9 for a map - the map was not optional, therefore should just have been included in the price.

            By this point we were absolutely furious. We'd just been scammed again, except this time by a famous tourist attraction and were now waiting in a queue for the skyride - something we'd never heard of nor had any idea of what it was. All we'd wanted to do was go to the top of the building to see the view, which we made very clear to the staff both inside and out.
            After a 15 minute wait in a room made to look like Central Park, we were taken through to continue the skyride. This was a 3 part event that ended on a simulator. The first area was made to look like a newsroom and played videos of the Top 10 things to do in NYC - this was fairly dated and poor quality, which is a bit rubbish really considering we'd just paid over $100 to be there - as had the other 30 or so people that were on our Skyride with us.
            Step 2 was a round, dark room with a video explaining why the Twin Towers would still be in the simulation. There was a short video explaining what the Twin Towers meant for the city and what the grounds mean for the city today which set me off in tears because we'd just been to visit the memorial site the day before.
            We were finally taken through to the simulation which was essentially a small cinema room with roller coaster type seats. When the simulation started, it turned out that it was just a trip round the city with a not-very-funny narrator and vibrating seats. We were fairly disappointed.

            We then got to pass through the queue and head straight for the observatory, having already spent an hour or so in the building, we were finally getting to do what we'd planned all along!

            We were taken in an elevator up to the 80th floor, and then another elevator up to the 86th floor where the observatory was. Each side of the building has a sign stating which side you are facing so that you can check with the corresponding bit of the map. The Empire State Building does have incredible views, I'll give it that, however we discovered that Rockefeller Centre has the better views of the city as you can get a full view of Central Park along with being able to take some nice photos with The Empire State Building in the background - this is something you obviously can't do if you're standing on top of it!
            You do get to see the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and the Ground Zero site (along with the Freedom Tower which is currently under construction), however they looked quite dull in the distance due to the smog. We visited on a beautiful day, but NYC is known for being smoggy and because we were so high up, the photos have all come out with a line of smog running across the top.
            The observatory was incredibly busy, as expected, but due to the high volumes of people, we were actually rushed around the four sides before being asked to make way for new visitors. We spent around 15 minutes at the top, taking in the view and taking some pictures before being told we could pay another fee to go to the 102nd floor or we could just leave. We decided just to leave as there would be nothing extra we'd be able to see from the 102nd floor and we'd already paid a fortune to be there anyway.

            After having a quick look around the gift shop and deciding we didn't want to give the building any more of our money, we left.

            Upon leaving the building, we discovered the main observatory entrance where tickets are only $25 and you get straight to the top without having to bother with the tacky, dated simulation. We were left incredibly disappointed, both with ourselves and the staff. We'd wished we'd done a little more research on the entrance and ignored the annoying staff outside, but we also wished that when we'd stated we only wanted to go to the observatory that the staff would have directed us the right way instead of right into where they wanted us to start with.

            We'd been to Top of The Rock (the observatory at the top of Rockefeller Centre) on our second night in the city and after visiting The Empire State Building, we wished we'd done Top of The Rock twice. Once during the day and again at night. I would only recommend The Empire State Building to you if you feel it is something you cannot go to NYC without seeing, but you'll get the best views from Top of The Rock and an all round nicer experience too.

            Top tips for visiting!
            - Make sure that you go to the MAIN entrance if you want to avoid being roped into the Skyride. This is a complete waste of time and money so you don't need to do it. The main entrance is on 5th Avenue and will grant you access straight up to the observatory.
            - If you do get stopped by the ticket guys outside, don't follow their directions when you tell them you only want to go to the observatory. Even if they insist that they've told you to go to the correct entrance, continue on down the road until you get to 5th Avenue and enter that way.
            - Don't bother with the $9 map. Anything that is of interest is either blatantly obvious from the top, or can be pointed out by the staff manning the top of the building.
            - Go on a nice day, it sounds obvious but you'll get much better views if it's a clear day. Even with the sun shining and very few clouds, you're so high up that there is still smog and a bit of dullness in the air.
            - Play around with your camera whilst you're there. We got some really cool photos by poking our cameras out over the edge and tilting them certain ways. Some of the shots we got of yellow cabs came out really well because of this!
            - Stand right at the centre of the South side where there is one huge long straight of road. Take a photo aiming along that road and you'll have a beautiful shot of lower Manhattan.
            - If you're asked to leave because other people are coming up, ask if you can stay a bit longer. There are no time limits made clear on the tickets so in theory, you should be able to stay as long you like, especially if you've just paid for the "golden ticket" like we had!

            All in all, I didn't really enjoy my morning at The Empire State Building, as much as I tried to and left feeling really angry that we'd been scammed and then only got 15 minutes at the top. We actually ended up going back to Rockefeller Centre to praise them on their service after experiencing Empire State and would 100% recommend going to Top of the Rock instead. I have a review of that to follow.

            I'll be giving our experience 2 stars as we did get to see some incredible views, but nothing worth the money we paid when we could've seen the same things for $25. As I mentioned earlier, I'll recommend it to you if you feel you must visit the building, but I only recommend the $25 ticket as the combo ticket is a complete waste of time and money.

            Thanks for reading!

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              11.07.2012 15:48
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              Having recently spent a week in the countryside housesitting with my boyfriend, I was left to do the cleaning whilst he went to work everyday. I was lucky enough to get the week off of work, so I had plenty time to look after the animals and clean everything in sight! I also had plenty time to watch Wimbledon, which worked out pretty well in my eyes!

              We decided not to spend too much on cleaning supplies for the week because it wasn't our house and we were only there for 7 days, so we picked up these Asda Smart Price Sponge Scourers for 14p and went on our merry way. The pack contains 5 sponges and slightly differs from the image above. The sponges are now white with the thin layer of green scourer still placed on top. The packet is very thin, crinkly plastic with a simple white and green Asda Smart Price logo on the front and some usage information on the back. There is also a Try Me, Love me section which claims to refund and replace the product if you are not 100% happy.

              The sponges themselves are much smaller than the average sponge scourer but they look to be of decent quality when you pull it out of the packet and they feel quite nice too. It wasn't until I went to use it that I realised we'd made a poor decision. I wet the sponge first, as always, and then put it to use on the kitchen cooker, but after a minute or so of scrubbing and cleaning, the scourer started to peel away from the sponge and bits of the sponge started falling off. Now, I wasn't scrubbing particularly hard and there wasn't much to scrub at anyway, only a few splashes from the dinner we'd previously made. We were using a good cleaning product (one that I use in my own home on a nightly basis) so I know it wasn't the cleaning product either. I persevered a bit and managed to get the cooker clean, but I did end up with a few bits of sponge falling off onto the hob and it just meant a bit more tidying up than it should've been!

              I thought it was maybe just all the lumps and bumps of the cooker shredding these sponges, so I used one to clean the shower cubicle but it ended up falling apart in my hands too. Not impressed.

              As you can imagine, I didn't expect fantastic quality sponge for less than 3p each, but I did expect it to last longer than a few minutes before falling apart. We ended up just using these to wash out the water trays for the chickens so that they didn't go to waste, but I wouldn't ever use them for cleaning the house again.

              As I mentioned before, they do have a Try Me, Love Me option, but as far as I'm concerned it'd be a little bit stingy to complain about my 14p packet of sponges!

              Bonus: These would maybe come in handy for children's painting. You could cut them up into different shapes and you'd get different textures with the sponge side and the scourer side. They aren't totally useless, just not useful for their intended use.

              Thanks for reading!

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              • expedia.co.uk / Online Shop / 48 Readings / 46 Ratings
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                27.06.2012 10:12
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                This review comes completely unplanned (surely I'm not the only one that plans my next reviews?) however I do feel the need to share this recent experience as I am more than impressed with the service I received. Working in customer service myself, I feel it's necessary to provide feedback when you receive outstanding or horrendous service, luckily I rarely experience the latter.

                Let me just brief you on the website itself before getting into my little story! Expedia.com is essentially a travel agent online, at least that's how I look at it anyway. It's described as the UK's best site for travel deals and offers flights, hotels, full holidays, car hire and also has a section for things to do on your holiday.
                When searching for a deal on Expedia, you simply enter the required information and hit search. I have only used Expedia for booking flights and discovering things to do in the area, so I can only comment on those features.
                Searching for flights couldn't be easier, you can get anything you could ever need in terms of flights and you can get them for a great price too. My most recent search was actually for a multi-city flight, something that many websites, airlines and travel agents struggle with. Expedia made this whole experience a breeze and after entering dates, locations and passengers I was shown a whole host of options for our trip. We went for the second option shown to us as the flight times were more desirable than the 3am flights in option 1 and after a few minutes of entering our information and payment details, our flights were confirmed. Easy as that!

                The things to do section is just as easy to use if you need it! Enter the location and the dates you'll be there and it comes up with plenty suggestions of things you can do to keep yourself entertained on your trip. We've discovered plenty things to do that we would never have known about for the first leg of our trip, so I really recommend having a look at this even if you have a few things planned already.

                My experience goes back to my flights though. After placing our booking on two separate itineraries - one for my parents and one for my boyfriend and I due to us having a bit of a worldwide adventure whilst my parents stay in Canada for that time - I was left content and beyond excited for our upcoming holiday. It was booked 21 weeks in advance - what can I say? I'm a keen bean - and I was already counting down the days. We got an amazing deal for our flights and I still can't quite believe the prices, especially for the itinerary for mine and my boyfriend's trip. We're travelling from Scotland - Canada - USA - Germany - Scotland and got the flights for around £1600 for the two of us. Sounds like a lot of money, but when you consider the whole trip, it's a steal! My parents weren't quite as lucky and they were actually more expensive to fly Scotland - Canada - Scotland, however £2000 later, their trip was booked. Their trip was only more expensive due to it not being an in demand area to fly to in Canada, so we weren't fussed about the price, after all, it's a family wedding we're going to.
                From here on in the review, I'll refer to the multicity trip as itinerary 1, and the direct trip as itinerary 2, just to save confusion.

                Booking. Easy.
                Prices. Acceptable.

                Roughly 3 weeks after the booking (and a sore throat from talking about the upcoming holiday so much), I received an email saying that a flight had been changed in itinerary 1. I did my usual freakout when I saw the preview of the email on my iphone, until I opened it fully and realised the flight had only been changed by 10 minutes. No big deal. I was just happy Expedia kept us in the loop.

                I had no real opinions on the company until yesterday when I received an email from them at work stating that two out of the four flights in itinerary 2 (there's a stopover in London both directions) had been cancelled. Cue my instant freakout. I called my mum on my lunch break and after a quick conversation...

                "Mum, how do you feel about moving to Canada?"
                "I don't fancy it, why?"
                "Uh..I think your flight home has been cancelled"

                ...I was reassured that the airline would have to reschedule them onto another flight and not worry. Panic over. Kind of.

                It wasn't until I finished work that I checked my email again to open an email stating that one of the flights in itinerary 1 had been cancelled. CUE MAJOR FREAKOUT.

                I rang Expedia as soon as I got home (5.30pm and customer services were still open and willing to help, bonus points!) where I was happily greeted with a friendly young woman by the name of Charlene. I explained to her what the emails said and how worried I was about the trips and she explained that it wasn't the long haul flights that had been cancelled, but the flights between our home city and London. Air Canada had been hosting those flights via BMI, but BMI have gone bust and can no longer carry on with the flight. Charlene then informed me that British Airways would be happy to have us on one of their connecting flights for no extra charge and we would be upgraded to first class as an apology despite BA being at absolutely no fault whatsoever. I can't quite explain how happy I am with this service as Charlene really did do everything she could to calm me down - I wasn't angry, just worried that my holiday of a lifetime would come to a halt before it got going. Not only did she successfully calm me down, but she successfully booked us onto the other connecting flights within a few minutes and emailed out our new itineraries and e-tickets.

                Very happy customer!

                My only gripe is that since booking the flights and searching for hotels through Expedia (although we booked with the hotel itself to reap the benefits of their loyalty service), I keep getting emailed 20% vouchers for hotels and holidays in New York City. Great, hm? Well, not really. 20% off doesn't really help after the whole trip is booked! I do appreciated the gesture, but it'd be appreciated more if it could be put to any use.

                Although I haven't actually been on the trip yet, I am very happy with my experience so far and 100% recommend Expedia for anyone looking to book flights or a holiday. I don't want to jinx anything, but I doubt there will be any negatives to add to this review based on the flight bookings at the airport, but if there are, I'll edit those in come August time.

                As with all of my recent reviews, all of my miles are going towards my spending fund. Thanks for being a penny towards my memories!

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                • More +
                  26.06.2012 20:52
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                  I've recently been testing out a lot of the Benefit skincare line since purchasing a travel sized kit for £10 and unfortunately can only say that I've been less than impressed. This particular review will be based on Foamingly Clean, the cream cleanser from the kit. Described as an effective, creamy facial wash that removes makeup and impurities with a soft, gentle lather, this sounds like a dream product. I love anything that will make my skin feel as good as it possibly can, so I'm always tempted by things like this, often being left very disappointed. This is no different.

                  Foamingly Clean comes in a pale sea green plastic tube no different to the one pictured above. The full size and travel size tubes are almost identical with the only differences being the size and the caps. The 127.5g full size has a twist off cork cap while the 8.9g travel size has a cream plastic cap. As with the facial scrub that I previously reviewed, there is a darker green print on the front of the tube that hosts the brand and product name. The back of the tube simply has the brand and product information along with a use by date of 12 months. Anyone loyal to my reviews knows just how much I stress about use by dates, especially for creamy skincare products. Do not exceed the use by date if you want to avoid getting any nasty bacteria on your face!

                  Upon removing the little cream cap, I instantly noticed a feint, refreshing aroma. Identical to the scent of Refined Finish facial scrub by Benefit and Rockin' Rio perfume by Escada, this is a delicious fruity, floral scent that would be perfect for a summer perfume. However, it doesn't quite work as well as a perfumed facial wash. The scent only gets stronger the closer you get to it, so whilst it's very subtle to start with, it does appear stronger and stronger.
                  The cream itself is a thick, pearly white cream that does feel very luxurious to the touch, but it seemed to disappear after I lathered it up between my hands. It left a very thin layer of foam on my hands to wash with, so I rubbed it over my face in the shower to see how it worked!
                  I didn't really feel anything. It disappeared as soon as I rubbed it into my skin.
                  I decided I maybe hadn't used enough of the product and went on to squeeze a big glob of it onto my palm (roughly half of the tiny travel size tube) - this left the same thin layer of foam on my hands, however I certainly felt the effects when I rubbed in into my face! Just like the exfoliator from this line, I was left with burning, flaming nostrils due to the high fragrance levels. It was an uncomfortable feeling and my skin felt irritated and tight too. Time to get these chemicals off of my poor skin!
                  The first time I used this was on clean skin, so I can't comment on how well it removes makeup but I honestly wouldn't ever want to try it as a makeup remover anyway. I like to massage my makeup remover over my eyes to dislodge all traces of eyeliner and mascara but the thought of massaging this over my eyes gives me nightmares! If it burns my nose this badly, imagine the pain I'd feel around my eyes?!

                  I can't even say that the cleanser was enjoyable to use despite the burning as like I mentioned before, it mostly disappeared in my hands and completely disappeared on my face. There was no soft, creamy lather. Nothing.
                  After rinsing my face, it felt tight and dry - something I'm putting down to the high perfume levels (can you tell how frustrated I am by perfumed products?). A cleanser should never leave the skin feeling dry, tight or uncomfortable, unfortunately this left me with all 3 things and was instantly written off as a product I will never use again.

                  After reading the ingredients list, it has 4 different ACIDS in it and at least 7 ingredients that I can't even pronounce. I have no idea what this product contains and I will never be letting it come into contact with my skin ever again. Back to Clinique for me!

                  £16.50 will get you the full sized 127.5g tube at any Benefit counter or online which is an extortionate price for such a poor cleanser. Most high end cleansers are in this price range, but they are all effective while this one just claims to be. Benefit have talked the talk with this one but unfortunately haven't walked the walk - not recommended from me!

                  I'll be rewarding this product only 1 Dooyoo star, for the simple reason that I can't award it with no stars. Fortunately, this is my last bad review for this skincare line, so I can start being happy and stop slagging things off now!

                  Thanks so much for reading!

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                  23.06.2012 14:43
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                  I'm fairly picky about my skincare and have used the same routine for around 4 years now, but I do stray every few months when I discover some new products to try - always going back to my original routine. I obviously never learn, why fix something that ain't broke? Right? But I still insist on spending my money on something that I'll most likely end up hating. This time, it's Refined Finish by Benefit. I purchased this in a travel size kit along with 5 other products in the line so that I could try it all out without spending too much money.
                  Refined Finish is a facial polish, which, to you and me is an exfoliator. Described as a product to beautifully brighten, gently exfoliate and purify the skin whilst reducing the appearance of pores, Refined Finish promises a lot, but can it deliver?

                  The travel size tube I have contains 8.9g of product versus the full size which contains 127.5g - huge difference! The tube is almost identical on a smaller scale, with the only difference being that the travel size has a cream plastic lid and the full size has a cork lid. The tube is very simple to look at and doesn't really catch the eye in my opinion. It's a pale sea green colour with dark green detail on the front. The brand and product name is printed on the front with the brand information and use by timeline on the back. This is to be used within 12 months and as I always say, FOLLOW THESE GUIDELINES! They are there for a reason, you don't want to be using old products on your face because the bacteria that breeds in them is disgusting!

                  When I twisted the cap off and looked inside, I was actually quite horrified. The tiny 2 inch long tube was only half full. Now I understand this is a cheap travel kit to test the products, but they could at least have filled the bottle! I then gave it a sniff and wasn't really impressed with that either. It was a delicious scent, don't get me wrong, but it was heavily perfumed. If any of you remember Rockin' Rio by Escada from many years ago, this is exactly what Refined Finish smells like. I'm not one that enjoys using heavily perfumed products on my face as they tend to be quite irritating, but I trucked on and decided to give it a go anyway.

                  I squeezed a teeny bit of the white cream onto my palm before lathering it between my hands and exfoliating my face. I first noticed that there weren't many exfoliating beads in it at all. I'm one that likes a strong exfoliator - if I'm going to bother exfoliating, I might as well do it properly. Then I noticed a horrible burning sensation around my nostrils. There were very little exfoliating beads in it, so I know I didn't over exfoliate. I'm putting that down to the heavy fragrance. I instantly rinsed it off and after a couple of minutes, the burning went away but my skin didn't feel particularly great afterwards. It felt tight and sensitive, something that never happens with my usual skincare routine. I had a quick look in the mirror to check my pores and unfortunately, there was no difference at all. Maybe over time this product would've helped, but as I don't like to cause myself discomfort I decided to discontinue using it after the first time so I suppose I'll never know. I also didn't notice my skin looking any brighter either, which is weird because my skin always looks a bit brighter and feels incredibly smooth after exfoliating, but not today!

                  Unfortunately, this is my second review out of 6 for this skincare line, and I've disliked both products that I've talked about so far. Not a good impression!

                  As I mentioned before, the full size product contains 127.5g of product and it retails for £17.50. This is a fairly high price for something that doesn't really make a difference to the skin whatsoever. If you like products that are highly fragranced and prefer a softer exfoliator, then go right ahead and try it, but I personally wouldn't recommend this at all.

                  Thanks for reading! All reads and rates are going towards my upcoming holiday to New York so I fully appreciate the time you take to read my reviews.

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                  22.06.2012 13:27
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                  As far as I'm concerned, you're never too young to start using an eye cream. The skin around our eyes is incredibly delicate and us women are known for tugging and pulling on it when applying eye makeup - this unfortunately just promotes early wrinkles. I've used and loved the same eye cream since I was about 16 but recently discovered It's Potent! by Benefit. I purchased a Limited Edition skincare set for £10 which included generous travel sizes of their new skincare products so I thought I might as well give their eye cream a go.
                  I've had a very love hate relationship with Benefit over the years - I absolutely love their products and their charity work for Women's Refuge, but I don't like how sneaky they are with reducing the amount of product and upping the prices! Nevertheless, I thought I would love this, although I can't quite say I did...

                  It's Potent! eye cream apparently fades dark circles and helps smooth fine lines for brighter, younger looking eyes. The description says you simply apply delicately under the eyes to use.

                  The eye cream itself comes in a small sea green glass pot (extra small if you have the travel size like me!) with a cream plastic lid (the full size has a screw off cork lid). The lid simply has the product and brand name printed on top and the base of the pot tells me there are 3g of product in this pot and it should be used for no more than 6 months after opening. It's important to follow these guidelines, especially with a product to be used near the eyes due to the bacteria that can build up in creamy products - you don't want those bacterias breeding in your eyes! The full size pot contains 14.2g, so you get a fair bit more with that.

                  Opening the pot is simple with the screw off lid, so I have no complaints there! There isn't a strong scent that hits you upon opening, but when you stick your nose in and sniff you can instantly detect a very fake, medicinal scent that also smells somewhat plasticy. Nothing like the fresh scent that comes with a few of the other products in the line (reviews to come). I can't really say that I was particularly impressed with this, and I'm pretty fussy with what I put on my face. Something that smells like plastic really doesn't entice me to rub it around my eyes, but I carried on and tested it out anyway.

                  The cream itself feels slightly like a gel when you dip your finger in the pot, which, by the way, is almost impossible with the travel size. I don't have particularly large fingers, but I found it difficult to get a reasonable amount of product out of such a small opening - this will obviously not be a problem with the larger pot though.
                  When I did get the product out, I noticed it was quite a thin, light cream that felt somewhat greasy to the touch. I went ahead and applied it under my eyes as I normally would - with my ring finger so as not to use too much pressure on my delicate eye area. It seemed to sink in instantly and I wasn't left with any greasy residue or anything, so I was very impressed with that. I always apply eye cream both morning and night, so an eye cream needs to be able to hold a concealer and foundation on top of it if it's going to be one that I enjoy using. This one didn't make a very good base for concealer alone, but after applying a small bit of primer, it worked fine.

                  I've used this product day and night for 3 weeks now and am disappointed to say I haven't noticed any difference in my dark circles. I didn't have wrinkles in the first place, but when I've had a late night followed by an early morning I often find a few fine lines under my eyes and this doesn't help with those either, despite claiming it is filled with collagen boosting ingredients. I wasn't impressed with it's moisturising qualities either, it was much less moisturising than my previous eye cream which I can't wait to go back to! I'm sure my eyes will thank me for it!

                  Not only did it not do what it claimed, it brought my under eye area out in a rash after the first week of use. I decided to continue using it as it may just have been my skin playing up due to a change in routine, but two weeks later I still have the rash and have no good points to justify it with. The only good thing I can say about this product is that a little goes a long way and it will last a long time, but when the full size pot contains 14.2g and can only be used for 6 months, it may turn out to be poor value for money as you'll probably be throwing some away.

                  It's Potent? It's Shit.

                  If you decide you do want to buy the full size of the product, you can get if for £23.50 at any Benefit counter or online at benefitcosmetics.co.uk. Having worked out that the 3g pot I have should have cost me £4.96 alone, I don't feel too out of pocket as the set I bought it in did have a few hidden treasures, but I wouldn't buy it again, even if the price did come down drastically.

                  100% not recommended. This is essentially the most useless cream I have ever used.

                  Thanks for reading! All reads and rates are going towards my upcoming trip to New York, so they're greatly appreciated.

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                  • Millie's Cookies / Supermarket / 61 Readings / 59 Ratings
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                    25.05.2012 19:02
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                    I don't tend to write reviews on stores and have actually taken a break from review writing recently but my recent experience with Millie's Cookies has left me reeling and I'd like to share it with the public. I will however be reviewing their products too, as I do feel like they should be praised where they deserve it, but that will be very short lived.

                    I've often stopped at Millie's Cookies for a quick sweet treat during a shopping trip as our Millie's Cookies is based in one of our local shopping centres. The counter always has a queue and the staff are usually alright at whittling it down pretty quickly. When you approach the counter you'll instantly smell the freshly baked goods and notice dozens and dozens of cookies spread out across the counter. The right hand side of our counter also has dozen or so ice cream flavours, but I've never had any of these so I can't comment on those.
                    Millie's offers regular sized cookies, mini cookies, cookie pops, cookie cakes, muffins and most recently, cookie cupcakes. The cookie cupcakes aren't cookie flavoured cupcakes, but cookies baked in a cupcake liner and topped with a swirl of frosting.

                    As I mentioned before, I've often stopped there for a bite to eat so I have tried a fair few of their cookies. My favourites being the plain milk chocolate cookie and the raspberry & white chocolate cookie. Millie's always have the perfect cookies in my opinion, they are slightly chewy round the edges and soft in the middle - exactly how I like my cookies! They never skimp on the chocolate/fruit chunks and the prices aren't too bad either. I can't remember the exact price of the cookies at the moment and it doesn't seem to be available online, but I've never felt like they were charging more than they should and I believe they're around the £1 mark per cookie. The cookie cakes are available to order starting at £13.79 and you can get yourself a treatbox of 12 cookies for £5.99 (or 24 for £9.99).

                    My problem started with the cookie cupcakes. Recently added to their line of baked goods, the cookie cupcakes have been a huge hit and sell for £1.25 each. Millie's Cookies have always been known to have their nutritional information on their website, so when my mum and I spotted the little cookie cupcakes we decided to get one each for a treat and find out the damage when we got home.
                    Sure enough, they were delicious, albeit a little too sweet because of the frosting. We both got the milk chocolate chip with vanilla frosting and enjoyed every bite before heading online to find the nutritional information. I'm currently trying to shift a few pounds before my upcoming holiday and my mum has always battled with her weight, so we like to keep an eye on what we're consuming without having to cut out every single treat forevermore.
                    After finding the calorie count of every other item on the website, I came to the conclusion that the cookie cupcakes were too new of a product for the website to have been updated, so I searched for the store phone number to see if an employee would have that information on hand.

                    After being put on hold for 5 minutes (before actually getting to talk to anyone), a very rude, abrupt man answered the phone. After asking him for the nutritional information he told me they weren't suitable for lactose intolerant people. I clarified my needs of looking for the calorie count and fat/sugar content if it was available, before being cut off and told that if I was on a diet I shouldn't be eating their products anyway. I reminded him that I just like to be aware of what I'm putting into my body and that was no way to talk to a customer, and again was cut off before finishing what I was saying. This time he chimed in with "well either way, I can't give you that information, so just go to the gym for a bit longer and deal with it." Clearly a very pleasant man.

                    I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt, he'd maybe had a bad day and although he shouldn't have been rude to me, I work in customer service and know easy it can be to say something snippy to a customer without realising what you've said until you've said it. I then emailed the company, explaining that the store couldn't give me the nutritional information (leaving out the details of our conversation) and asking if they could give it to me instead.

                    A week later, I'd heard nothing back.

                    I emailed again, this time quite pissed off as not only had I been spoken to like dirt by an employee, but I'd now been completely ignored by head office. At this point it wasn't even the lack of nutritional information that bugged me (I went on to lose 2.2lbs that week anyway so they couldn't have been too bad), it was the customer service. I was asking a genuine question about the content of their product and had heard nothing back.
                    My second email was again, ignored.

                    I was always a lover of Millie's Cookies, but having dealt with nothing but useless monkeys recently, I think I'll stick to baking my own. At least the nutritional information would be available to me that way. If they couldn't provide the information to me, all they simply had to do was explain that in an email. Not ignore me and then ignore my complaint.

                    I realise this is probably quite a petty thing to be so irritated over, and maybe he's right, maybe I should go to the gym a little more or eat a few less treats, but as far as I'm concerned no customer should ever be spoken to that way and I will not be buying from their counter again. I feel very strongly about good customer service and Millie's Cookies have shown poor customer service right across the board with no attempts to correct it.

                    Dooyoo does state at the top of any retail reviews that the company may read the review, so this might be the way I get a response, however going by my past experiences, I very much doubt that...

                    As I previously mentioned, the cookies are delicious for a nice little treat, but that's all this company seems to be good at. Fortunately for them, all some people care about is the product, but unfortunately there are also customers like me who value manners and respect, and they've just lost that custom.

                    If I was reviewing on the product alone, I'd give the company 5 stars.
                    If I was reviewing on the customer service alone, I'd give the company 0 stars.
                    Today I'll rate them 2 stars as the bad customer service completely outweighs the quality of the product - this isn't the only place in the city I can get something nice to eat, so I won't be missing much.

                    Thanks for reading!

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                    • Saving tips / Discussion / 65 Readings / 64 Ratings
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                      04.05.2012 17:08
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                      Up until this year, I'd always been pretty terrible with money. I would spend spend spend, although never beyond my means, but it did leave me with very little to save at the end of the month. I think we're probably all a little bit familiar with having too much month left at the end of the money..!
                      I've recently been able to curb my habits and actually get a bit of money saved up, so I figured I might as well share it with you all because everyone could use a few extra pennies for a rainy day :).

                      1) Budget.
                      This one seems obvious and easy, but it is something I always struggled with before now. Figure out how much money you'll be taking in that month, how much of it goes on bills and necessities and how much you want to save. Anything extra is money that you can do what you want with. If you don't happen to spend it, great, save that too! If you do, then do not dip into your savings because you've run out of "social money," as I like to call it. This will just make bad habits and you'll end up never saving anything.

                      2) Have something to work towards.
                      Be it a holiday or a house having something to save for makes it that little bit more doable than just putting money away for the sake of it. I'm currently saving for spending money for my holiday and buying myself a car. Both are things that I am very excited about so cutting back on little luxuries seems totally worth it.

                      3) Take lunch to work instead of popping out and buying it.
                      I used to spend around £6 per day on lunch. That's £30 a week just on lunch! Buying ingredients and preparing meals - especially those with leftovers - will drastically cut your spend on lunch.

                      4) Don't buy things you don't need.
                      Yes, it's okay to treat yourself every once in a while, but get out of the habit of shopping for the sake of it.
                      I was always told "I want doesn't get" as a child, and it never really worked because I did usually get what I wanted (bless my parents, I was a very lucky child). Now I'm proud to say I actually understand the value of money and enjoy working towards something I want instead of just getting it then and there. If I see something I want, I don't buy it instantly anymore. I wait and think it over, if I don't think about it again until the next time I see it then I obviously don't want it that badly, however if it's all I can think about when I go home that night, then I allow myself the treat.

                      5) Leave the card at home.
                      I only have a debit card because I don't trust myself with a credit card quite yet, but I often find that I spend more when I take my card with me. If I take out a certain amount of cash for the week and then leave my card at home for the rest of the week, then I know exactly what I have left to spend.

                      6) Ebay, dooyoo etc
                      I use ebay quite a bit. I had a bit of a shopping addiction between the ages of 16-18 and often purchased things and never wore them. I've recently made roughly £250 by selling things that I'd never worn or only worn once. Remember and give good, lengthy descriptions of the items and dispatch quickly to boost your feedback so that people are aware you're a trusted seller. Ebay often have no fee weekends which means you can sell things without having to pay any seller fees. This is great because seller fees add up pretty quickly if you have a lot of things to sell!
                      Dooyoo is an obvious one because we're all already here, but I'll point out that more often than not, the more you read the more you'll be rated back, so get you're reading glasses on and get rating because it pays off in the end!

                      7) Terramundi pots, piggy banks etc
                      I have one terramundi pot and one electric coin counter. The electric coin counter is just a cheap one from avon that I got for christmas in 2009, it's lasted me pretty well throughout these years! I put coppers and silver money in that, leaving my £1 and £2 coins for my terramundi - with a few notes going in there too! Terramundi pots are much better for people who aren't great at saving in my opinion, you can't get any money out of them until you smash it open, and you wouldn't want to waste £20 on a pot that you were just going to smash open when it was halfway full, would you?

                      8) The £2/£5 rule.
                      This is something that I started in January. I rarely ever get £2 coins or £5 notes, so anytime I do get them, I put them straight into my terramundi pot. It adds up pretty quick and it's such a small amount that it's barely noticeable, but it's certainly worth it. Sometimes I'll only have £2 to put in my pot, but the next week I might have £19 to put in there.

                      9) Save the change
                      I'm with Lloyds TSB and their internet banking allows me to participate in a scheme called "Save The Change" - this means that anytime I use my card, the transaction will be rounded up to the nearest £1 and the change will go into a separate account. Doesn't sound like much - especially when I'm being strict with my cash only rule, but I've found myself saving a good £15 at the end of the month with it before.

                      Hopefully you've found this somewhat helpful, I know it's nothing groundbreaking but these little tips have helped me go from a spender to a saver, so maybe they'll give you a push in the right direction too!

                      Thanks for reading!

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                      • Baking / Recipe / 59 Readings / 58 Ratings
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                        21.04.2012 13:55
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                        It's Saturday afternoon so I thought I'd treat you all to a little baking surprise! I'm a huge lover of decorating my cupcakes to look like something stead of just dolloping some frosting on top and calling it a day, so today I'll teach you how to make panda cupcakes! I made them yesterday morning and everyone has fallen in love with them, so here goes!
                        This is not a short recipe, so please stick with me! It's totally worth it.
                        All cake and frosting recipes have been adapted from recipes found online to provide a better consistency for my liking. I'll source those throughout the recipe.
                        Note: these cakes do not contain egg.

                        Here are two I made yesterday - remove the spaces ( https:// fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd .net/hphotos-ak-ash3/578107_ 10150822358390937_ 642685936_ 11710340_330143245_n. jpg)

                        Yields : 5 pandas

                        Ingredients
                        ---------------
                        For the cake... - adapted from brettbara.com
                        6 tablespoons self raising flour
                        4 tablespoons sugar
                        3 tablespoons cocoa powder
                        1/4 teaspoon baking soda (eyeball it, it doesn't need to be exact)
                        A pinch of salt
                        4 tablespoons cold water
                        1 tablespoon & 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
                        Few drops of vanilla extract
                        2 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)

                        For the chocolate frosting... - adapted from brettbara.com
                        2 tablespoons butter
                        3 tablespoons cocoa powder
                        2-3 tablespoons confectioners sugar (you can decide for yourself based on how you like the consistency of your frosting)
                        2 tablespoons double cream

                        For the white frosting... - adapted from myrecipes.com
                        1.5 tablespoons softened butter (I use stork instead of butter, it's best for baking and frostings)
                        Pinch of salt
                        1.5 cups of confectioners sugar
                        3 tablespoons double cream

                        Additional chocolate chips for the nose
                        Roughly 3 mini oreo snack packs
                        Black food colouring paste

                        You'll also need regular fairy cake liners and mini fairy cake liners. Do not use the large cupcake liners or this will dramatically decrease the yield of the recipe and probably make you sick because it'd be huge!

                        Now onto actually baking the pandas! (There's something I never thought I'd say)

                        Method
                        ----------
                        Preheat oven to 160 degrees celsius. Line a cupcake tin with 5 regular fairy cake liners and 5 tiny ones.
                        1) Combine all of the dry ingredients for the chocolate cake together.
                        2) In another bowl, combine the wet ingredients and then slowly add the dry ingredients to that. Mix it all together until fully combined.
                        3) Stir in the chocolate chips (optional)
                        4) Fill the regular liners to about 2/3 of the way up and the tiny ones juuuust over halfway.
                        5) Pop in the oven for 10 minutes, remove the tiny liners and set them to cool. Put the rest back in the oven for a further 8 minutes. (This can vary depending on your oven)
                        6) Set all cakes to cool.

                        As the cakes are cooling, you want to open a pack of your mini oreos, separate them scoop out the white filling and dispose of that. Then crush the little biscuits into teeny tiny crumbs - dump them in a bowl. These will be used later.

                        White frosting (make this one first as this will be used for the heads - little cakes - and they will cool first)
                        1) Soften the butter and add in the double cream and pinch of salt. Slowly add the confectioners sugar until you get the consistency and taste you like. I prefer to use a little less sugar than recommended as I always find the full amount is too sweet. Keep this in the fridge until use, or if your little cakes are cool, scoop a teaspoon onto them and smooth out ready to draw the faces on.

                        Chocolate frosting
                        1) Melt the butter in the microwave before adding in the dry ingredients and the cream. Mix together until smooth. Keep in the fridge until ready to use.

                        As the larger cakes are cooling, I like to decorate the faces. I use Wilton Black Food Colouring paste to do this. It's best to use a toothpick for the detail but I had run out, so I used a stick of spaghetti!
                        1) Dip the spaghetti/toothpick into the paste and draw a panda smile onto the white frosting.
                        2) Pop a chocolate chip into the middle of the cake for the nose - this should join into the smile.
                        3) Take your spaghetti/toothpick again and get a blob of black paste on the end of it, do a kidney bean shaped splodge on both sides of the nose - facing each other. This will be the eyes.
                        We'll add the ears later.

                        Gently frost the larger cakes with the chocolate frosting and then roll the cake into the oreo crumbs. This will look a little more like fur.
                        Take one of the panda heads and pop it onto one of the bodies, the face facing you. The fairy cake paper should be side down into the larger cupcake.
                        Grab 3 more mini oreos and slice them in half (not like we did earlier, but so they are two half circles). Two half circles can then be pushed into the top of the head for ears.
                        Two of the half circles can be placed into the body, either side of the head for "paws" whilst the other two can rest just in front of the large cupcake base as the other "paws".

                        Do this for all of your pandas and watch everyone's face light up as you walk in the room with them!

                        Enjoy!

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                        • More +
                          20.04.2012 12:01
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                          My friends and family all think I'm nuts, but I completely swear by shaving products aimed at men for the closest, smoothest shave. I tend to find that the shaving products aimed at women are all filled with silly, unnecessary scents and lotions that end up doing more harm than good. I really don't want anything too chemically or scented for when I'm taking a blade to my legs so after a good few years of searching for the perfect thing, I stumbled across Gillette Series Shave Gel for Sensitive Skin. Well, I say stumbled across it, I actually just had to steal it from my dad because I'd run out of my own products and didn't have time to run to Boots for more! It's been true love ever since...

                          The shave gel comes in a fairly big, pressurised metal can with a pump top cap. There is a small plastic lid to cover the pump so that there aren't any leaks or anything if you need to travel with it. It's not the kind of pump that you'd find on liquid soap, but the skooshy kind of pump that you'd find on deodorant - how do you like that for wording?
                          The front of the can explains that the gel contains aloe vera and offers triple protection for the skin whilst the back of the can goes into more detail and tells me that the triple protection is to avoid nicks, redness and tightness. The way I see it is if something is good enough to get a smooth shave on the rough, thick skin of a man then it should have no problem in aiding a smooth shave for my smooth skin.

                          Releasing the product couldn't be easier, just press down on the large grey pump area - perfect for slippy wet hands - and the clear blue gel will squirt out with ease. The scent instantly started filling my bathroom and I was actually very impressed with how it smelled. Again, something my friends think is really weird is that I love the smell of products aimed at men too. This is a very manly scent, but quite refreshing and light at the same time. It's difficult to pinpoint exactly what it smells like, but I feel that anyone would recognise it.
                          You then simply rub the gel between yours hands and watch it transform into oodles and oodles of pale blue mousse. I didn't expect this the first time so I skooshed out loads of gel and ended up with enough mousse to coat my whole body! It takes a bit of practise to get the right amount, but you can always add more if need be - you don't want to waste any product.
                          Applying the mousse to my wet legs just proved how good quality it was as the bubbles didn't start disappearing as soon as it came into contact with water. Obviously it'd wash off under the stream of the shower, but popping my leg outside of the water stream was enough for the mousse to stay firmly in place. I carried on with my shaving routine and before I knew it, it was time to go dry my self off and lotion up!

                          I noticed that shaving was much easier with this gel as it has added lubrication to help the blade glide over your skin. I didn't have to go over certain areas two or three times like normal and I didn't nick the skin at all either (those pesky ankles!). I usually do suffer from a little bit of razor burn in certain areas, but I was left smooth and bump free after using this so the added aloe vera really worked with my skin type. I found that the scent subtly lingered on my skin but after moisturising it was completely gone. Although I do like the scent, I'm glad it was easily masked by my lotion as I'm not sure my boyfriend would be too thrilled at the idea of me smelling like a man.

                          I use this product everywhere that I shave and haven't had a problem with any sensitive areas or irritation, so that's always a bonus! I do find that I run out of this quite quickly though. It seems that the can goes from full to empty straight away, it's never just sitting in my bathroom half full. This is probably due to the light consistency of the gel, but it is kind of irritating when you think you have quite a bit left, go to use it and find out it's all gone. The can is slightly weighted too, so that doesn't help in guessing how much you have left.

                          I often find that after a week or two of using a new product my skin has some kind of reaction to it - especially on my shins. However this has had absolutely no ill effect and has left me with consistently smooth, fuzz free legs.

                          All in all I think it's a great little product and I'm glad I borrowed it from my dad when I did, it's made shaving take up much less time and left me with smoother skin and a closer shave than any other shaving gel or cream has every allowed me.

                          This shave gel is again, like most of my reviews, available from Boots. I bought it in a buy one get one free offer recently (April 2012) but I'm unsure if it's still going on in store. The 200ml can alone will cost £2.99 and is usually on some kind of offer - whether it's buy one get one free or 3 for 2.
                          The £2.99 price is great for such a high quality gel, even if it does feel like I'm always running out. I shave all over every 2-3 days (I have very fine, slow growing blonde hair so I don't need to do it any more often) and find that a can lasts me roughly 3 weeks.
                          I'm going to remove one star for how irritating it is to not know how much product is left, but it 100% deserves the four stars I'll be awarding it. I really recommend it to anyone with anything to shave!

                          Thanks for reading! All of my reads and rates are currently being saved for my trip to New York so I really appreciate it.

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