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We recently gave our three year old goldfish Maximus an aquarium make-over. Previously his home had an Ancient Roman theme, with a mock-up of the Caryatids inside and large, chunky pieces of white gravel lining the tank. Now we've bought him the blue mix (two different shades of blue) from Pets at Home, and the tank looks very different! The pieces of gravel are relatively small and give a lovely covering of the tank. We bought 2 of the 2kilo bags (£4.50 each) because we were worried that one bag wouldn't be enough. We needn't have worried - although he has two bags in the aquarium, one would have done the trick brilliantly. We have a 35l tank and the two bags provide a covering that is roughly an inch thick. So far they have been very easy to clean. A quick swill in a sieve under the tap and all of the grot finds its way down the plug hole while the pebbles stay safe for the most part. We've seen very little wastage so far. Although the stones are much smaller and obviously lighter than what we used for Max in the past, they're still weighty enough to hold down the plants in the aquarium. I think perhaps they're much better at this job than our previous set as Maxi would pull up the plants in the past, and hasn't battled with them so far - perhaps he's less bored as now he spends a lot of time sucking up a mouthful of blue pebbles, hunting for lost food and them spitting it out again. It's interesting to see that he's building up piles of gravel in the corners of the tank - I wonder if it's deliberate! I do have one massive, massive concern however. Although we double-rinsed the gravel before putting it into Maximus' tank, and we allowed the tank to run for a number of days before reintroducing him to it (he was in a travel tank while we did the changeover), an awful lot of dust was kicked up into the water! For several hours it was very, very murky. If a fish owner wasn't aware of the need to allow a new environment to mature it would be very uncomfortable and and perhaps dangerous for the fish to be floating around in all of that mire!
I must confess: My name is RTWJuju, and in December I did a very silly thing. I cut my hair very short at the end of 2011, with my wedding forthcoming in September 2012. Only AFTER I had lopped off my locks did my love tell me that he prefers my hair long. It's not a big deal, but how do you style short hair? It's short at the back, about 1.5inches long when it was cut, and tapers to a long-ish bob of shoulder-length at the front. A little bit of research told me that hair grows at the rate of approximately half an inch a month, and I decided that I needed to give my barnet a bit of a helping hand if I wanted to have hair that was easy to style in nine months time. I have been taking Holland and Barrett's Skin Hair and Nails supplements for just over two months now. It's a daily tablet which I choose to take in the morning, although I very much think it doesn't matter when you take it. The tablet itself is quite large and is chalky. It would benefit greatly from a sugary coating as many other tablets have, as I must admit is tastes absolutely vile! I'm normally fairly business-like about tablets and don't need to have a drink while I take them, but this would be impossible without a glass of water beside me - and I don't mean the size - definitely the yucky taste! I have so far purchased bottles of 60 tablets, although I do know that Holland and Barrett offer larger packs of 120 and 240. I believe the bottles of 60 to be the best value as they have been 'on offer' both times I have gone to purchase them, for £3.80ish. I wonder if this is their standard price and they are just displayed as on sale. The 120 pack is around £14 which makes no sense to me - you could have the same amount by buying 2x60tablets for around £8! Savvy shoppers will notice this for themselves I'm sure but I always appreciate a tip shared! As to effects - I would very much like to believe that these tablets help. My hair at its shortest is now about four inches long. I've grown two and a half inches of hair in four months, which according to the general standard suggests that I've got an extra half an inch to what would be expected. (I have also had a trim in that time, but it was bare minimum only so we won't count that!) It might not sound like a lot, but I can't think of a better way to encourage my hair to grow.
I'm one of those people that always walks around with music in their ears. Frankly, I've forgotten what it's like to saunter along the path and listen to the birds singing and the kids playing and the cars whooshing past. If I'm walking and I'm alone, I'm listening to my iPod. I am a creature of habit and tend to rely on one specific brand of headphones that I've come to trust. Unfortunately, my latest pair broke last week and I was forced to buy an intermediary pair or be doomed to walk without someone singing in the background of my life. A fate worse than death. I purchased a pair of Gumy headphones because they were similar in price range to what I'd usually pay, and they looked straight forward and plain and...they looked like headphones. My conclusion after a week's use is that they are thoroughly average. Sound quality is average. It's not fantastic - loud volumes sometimes cause a gentle crinkly noise in the ear, as though the speaker were jostling against something. It's quite distracting and rather disappointing as at certain points in my day I like to crank up the volume for this song or that song... When it comes to comfort, I find that these earbuds are rather generic. They're a little big for my ears (but most usually are), and can make me quite sore if I'm using them for more than half an hour or so at a time. They're nicely rounded though, and there's no one spot on them which rubs against me and causes irritation, it's more just a matter of size. The name of the product suggests to me that they're going to be quite soft - or gummy, eh? I'm reasonably surprised therefore that the rubber surrounds on the earbuds are quite tough. Upon squishing between thumb and forefinger, there's a little bit of give, but nothing special. Still...they're okay. The bonus is that the wiring is a little longer than I'm used to and I find it quite useful to be able to tuck away my iPod in my bag rather than my pocket, and the cord will have enough space to allow me to move without the buds being tugged out of my ears. I think it's also worth a quick note that these headphones come in blister packaging and need scissors or serious strength to open. That's fine if you're taking them home but if you've bought them on the spot for immediate use, it's a bit of a pain! (Top tip: ask very sweetly at the counter in HMV where I bought mine and the lovely lady behind it will cut the packet open for you.) I bought plain black headphones as I am a creature of habit and I learned early on in my iPod career that white headphones make you a bit more of a target to the nasties out there than black. If someone sees you with white, they assume iPod, and although some people might want this status symbol, I'm more interested in avoiding getting mugged. The nice thing about these headphones is that there was a massive range of colours: blue, red, green, pink, yellow... If you wanted to step across the black/white wiring boundary, Gumy will lead you along the way.
About six months ago I changed from a very active on-my-feet-all-day job to being sat behind a desk five days a week. Aside from increased boredom, one side effect that I wasn't expecting was a really painful back. I'm not sure whether it comes down to poor posture in general on my behalf, or if just sitting at a desk is painful for everyone when they're not used to it, but I really did suffer quite severely with pain in my lumbar region. I was in a supermarket a month or so ago and heard a promotional advert about this product on one of the JML TVs. It caught my attention and I thought it was a great idea. I didn't want to fork out for it without knowing it would work (because I'm cheap), so I came home and read some reviews. I thought it sounded good, and luckily I managed to find one on Amazon for less than £3 including postage - absolutely brilliant value. The idea is that this is a shaped support for the lower regions of your back. It rests against the back of your chair and can be used in the office, in the car for long drives, or around the home anywhere. It follows the shape of your back as it bends in the bottom of an s shape at the end of your spine, and it provides much firmer support than just a normal chair - particularly when most people (myself included!) aren't comfortable sitting direct and straight back against a chair. It works a treat. It provides really great support, and eases back pain immediately. So long as you remember to lean back onto it, and to allow it to support you, it's brilliant. The only problem I've experienced with it comes from the crappy, cheap chair my office has provided me with! There's a rather large gap between the base and the back cushions, and I find that the back rest can be pushed down into this. Surprisingly this position is actually quite comfortable anyway, but it's not as supportive on my back as it should be and the pain can return. I'm really pleased with the product. I haven't had it long enough to really comment on its hardiness, but I've had it long enough to feel its effect. I'm no longer going home from work with a sore back, nor am I waking up with one. I 100% believe that the improvement is down to this back support - it's cheap, almost obvious in design, but really, really works!
Both I and my partner wear contact lenses on an almost daily basis, so on our bathroom counter there's two lens pots at all times. I'm a little bit varying in my tastes - I try out different types of storage. I'm not sure whether I do it to try and search out the best version or just for a bit of a change! It seems to me through my little experiments that storage is storage. There are two types that I use regularly; this, the barrel style, and a double-pot screw top style. My partner remains faithful to the barrel - he believes it's better for cleaning his lenses as the soaking solution can move around them as they sit overnight. I'm not sure how true that is - seems to me that liquid can move around a lens in a mini-pot just as well. In practical terms, this pot ticks almost all of the boxes. It has a screw-top lid to which a cage is attached. The cage has two sides, one for each lens, and is clearly marked on one side with a heart to signify the left lens. (Someone needs to tell lens manufacturers that hearts are in the middle of your chest, not on the left side!! Bit behind the times.) Each cage holds one lens and it clicks gently into place on closure to stop your lenses jiggling around in the pot and getting mixed up between left and right. This would be a problem for me as my prescription is different in each eye! The lid fits on quite tightly, however in truth I have experienced a little leakage from a pot that was popped into my bag. It's probably for the best to ensure that the pot it held upright when possible, as the barrel itself has a line etched onto it to show how far you should fill it with solution - when it's stood upright, the liquid will never even touch the lid when sealed, so there would never be a leakage problem. I don't think that I'll trust a barrel pot for occasions of travel etc, as too much was ruined when I experienced this leak - the lenses inside included. One tip I'd like to pass on about differentiating between my lens tub and his is that I paint onto the white lids with nail varnish. A quick J in red or pink for me, and P for my partner in blue, and there's no chance we'll ever, ever end up wearing each other's lenses. That would be quite disgusting.
I've been a contact lens wearer for many years now, and I have experienced many different kinds of products. Some have been fantastic, and some not so much. This has given me an appreciation of what kind of tasks I ask from my lenses, and this helps me to identify which products to use. I've suffered from dry eyes periodically for a while. At one point it got so bad that my optician recommended I stopped wearing lenses until my eyes recovered. One great tip that I picked up from her that may help any other fellow-sufferers is to use hypromellose drops two to three times a day. They're really inexpensive (about £2) and can be used by lens wearers, although you shouldn't insert your lenses until fifteen minutes after you've popped in the drops. Although all of that might on the surface seem unimportant to my review of Biofinity lenses, I thought that it was important to explain the state of dryness and stress that my eyes were suffering when I started to use the lenses. I've been using them for five months, and am almost through with my second set of supplies. I have to be thoroughly honest - they've completely surpassed my expectations. They're advertised as really good for dry eyes, and are actually designed to be worn constantly for thirty days and nights without removal. This is something that I previously thought completely impossible and would have imagined was thoroughly unhealthy for your eyes. These lenses are made from an unusually soft material that I've never experienced before. They allow oxygen to be transported through the lens to your eye, ensuring that there's no starvation to make your eyes sore or bloodshot. They hold moisture really well and don't leave my eyes feeling dry or tired at all. I have to be honest and let you know that I don't choose to wear them constantly for a month. I take them out at night and soak them in saline like I would with any other lens. I just don't like the thought of leaving them in, I think because of the difficulties I've suffered in the past with dry eyes. I have slept in them however, both for relatively short naps and for overnight when I've been staying away from home or travelling and actually, I didn't experience any discomfort. I was pleasantly surprised, but still can't really get over my fear enough to wear them for really extended periods of time. One thing that they are fantastic for is flights - no need to worry about taking a storage pot and a 100ml bottle of fluid in your hand luggage; you can just take your normal part-used bottle in your main luggage and wear these lenses for the whole length of the flight - they haven't dried up or become uncomfortable at all in the recycled air atmosphere. The lens itself seems to be quite hardy. I've not managed to tear or nick one, and in truth must admit to not being the most delicate of ladies when it comes to most things! I've ripped lenses easily in the past, and I've not been aware of paying any extra care to these lenses than to others. I think they're just a bit tougher than the lenses I've dealt with at the past. I'm trying to think of a downside to Biofinity lenses, as that's generally how I round off my reviews. I'm struggling very much however as I've really liked using them, and have in fact ordered a new six month supply rather than three months. I have faith the product now and trust from the experience that I've gained that they will help to keep my eyes in good health. The best part of Biofinity lenses perhaps is the price - they're not massively expensive. Because they're more advanced technologically and are designed to be worn constantly, they are a bit more dear than regular in-and-out monthly lenses. However it's not really noticeable when you buy in bulk as I do. If I bought monthly then I might notice that these lenses cost me £3 more than the last lenses I used. However, with a bulk discount from somewhere like getlenses you pay less anyway. For my forthcoming six month order, I've paid £4.58 per eye per month - I think that's an incredible deal when compared to other options such as Specsavers' mail order direct debit scheme - £10/month for (in my experience) far less comfortable lenses.
To the detriment of appreciating my surroundings, I'm one of those girls who is always slipping in her earphones. I've listened to music everywhere I go since I was in high school - and sadly, that's thirteen years ago now. I used to walk around with a hulky bulky Walkman in my pocket, and I'm grateful these days that technology has moved on to allow me an MP3 player which weighs less than 100g - big improvement! As someone who listens to music so consistently (I'm listening to a few tunes now!), I need decent earphones. The white standard earphones that come with Apple products are of average quality, and I don't really feel comfortable using them. I always buy my own, and almost invariably I buy Sony MDR-E 818 LP earphones. They're black in style with silver detailing on the actual earbud. They're quite sleek and plain - which I like. I've always felt a bit of a wally when I use Apple's white earphones. It's much better these days now that everyone has them but to begin with, if I ever used the white set, I felt as though I was making a target of myself when I was walking around. Because Sony's MDR-E 818 LE are much plainer, I always felt much safer. Appearances aside, they're a really practical set. The ear bud is comfortably shaped and sits just inside my ear perfectly. There's room for movement and they don't feel too big or too small. The sculpted shape helps to keep them situated properly - if I turn my head suddenly or tilt it to one side, they don't come out. They're there until I decide to remove them which I think is great. Even in the gym, when I'm bouncing around like a pogo stick, they don't fall out. I can remember using earphones that did, and I can tell you it's a great crash to your energy to have to pause, replace, and go again. Ugh. They have a decent length wire, which allows you to have your MP3 player or other device in a pocket low down on your body (I usually pop mine into a pocket on my hips) and there's still plenty of manoeuvrability left in the wire by the time the buds get to your ears. Like everyone, I'm sure, I've had a set where the wire was just shorter than I'd like and it was very irritating to use. Sound quality is great as far as I'm concerned! Music sounds good either at low volume or at high (and I think a lot of earphones struggle to work well at both ends of the scale) and even when experimenting with my MP3 player, I can turn up the base and still get a really good sound from them. The speakers inside can take the heat without getting that horrible rattling noise! Regarding price, these earphones are rather ubiquitous and you can find them all over the internet and on the high street. Just out of laziness and liking having things come to me rather than the other way around, I buy online and I alternate where I purchase them between play.com and amazon, depending on who is cheaper at the time. I tend to pay somewhere between £5 and £7 for a set, and I really do think that this is great value for what you get. They're a brilliant set of earphones and I only don't buy these if for some reason when I need a set, they're out of stock. The downside of Sony's MDR-E 818 LE for me comes from the fact that I ask so much of them. Seven or eight times a day, they're shoved into a pocket or my bag, wrapped around my MP3 player (which we all know isn't good for the wiring) or are just yanked out of my ears. Consequently, there is a point at which they just give up the ghost and stop working so brilliantly. What tends to happen in my case is that one side of the earphones will stop working, and I can only hear sound in one ear. It's frustrating, but I don't find it too much of a problem because the earphones in the first place are inexpensive and secondly, they take a lot of punishment from me before they get to this stage. One pair tends to last me at least six months, and I think that's really good going. Lesser earphones can sometimes just last a month or two.
The Joby Gorillapod is a great piece of kit for the amateur photographer. It comes in two sizes, 'Original' and 'SLR.' The latter is obviously designed for bigger, heavier cameras, and the former is for small/medium hand-held cameras. I have the 'Original' in blue colour. I bought it a few years ago before a holiday to Turkey as I knew I would be going to Ephesus and I wanted to have good quality photographs - unfortunately I suffer from that condition which is terminal to great photography; a shaky grip! The Gorillapod is very affordable at just over £10 (look on Amazon and Play.com for the cheapest price, as they seem to undercut each other from time to time), and it's conveniently small in size. Mine measures in at 15cm tall, and it can be folded or squished into any number of shapes to fit into empty space in a bag. I've even had it stuffed into my back pocket from time to time! A small clip attaches your camera to the Gorillapod, and it's screwed into the tripod fixture that most digital compacts have. This clip can be detached from the Gorillapod and left into your camera - it just clips right back onto the tripod again when you need to use it, and the clip is small enough to not be inconvenient when attached to your compact. The major appeal of the Joby Gorillapod is the completely versatile legs. Unlike a traditional tripod which has straight, fixed legs which need to be carefully adjusted on uneven ground to hold your camera level, the Gorillapod is a quick and easy alternative which is really simple to steady. The legs are very pliable and easy to adjust to any stance. It doesn't have to be stood on a surface, either - it's great when the legs can be wrapped around something such as a railing or a tree branch. I've had some really great photos with this little gem, I couldn't be without it! While the Gorillapod is fantastic, it does have its limitations and I find that it only works with consistency while holding my camera on a 'level' angle. If I try to tilt the camera and Gorillapod to hold my camera portrait, for example, gravity generally wins this battle and my camera is small and light. I can easily imagine it being more difficult with a larger camera! If your camera is quite bulky or heavy, consider the stronger SLR version of the Gorillapod perhaps. It is considerably more expensive (about three times the price) but if it's going to provide more strength and protection for your valuable camera then the expense is secondary, isn't it? One really good plus of the Gorillapod is its hardiness. As stated above, I've had mine for a few years. I bought it in 2008 and I use it regularly. I reshape it very often and the leg joints are all still sturdy and stable. They haven't loosened at all, and still retain the shape I push them into. I'm thrilled with this item, and consider it to be a savvy and useful purchase. It's not expensive, and I get great use out of it. Brilliant results for a brilliant price!
When it comes to fragrances, I'm usually a sweetly scented type of girl. I'm not a girly girl, but I do tend to suit scents that are fruity and light and...girly. It might come as somewhat of a surprise then that I'm a big fan of Christian Dior's 'Pure Poison' fragrance. The fragrance is presented in a very smart and simple purple box. It's sleek looking and very elegant. The title of the perfume and the brand name Dior are inscribed on the box in a lavish gold font. The perfume bottle is nestled tightly within the box and is quite a short and squat bottle. It's heavy glass that (very) roughly resembles an apple shape but unlike the DKNY series of fragrances it's not designed to be an apple. The glass is decorated with a shimmery white pearlised print and again the name of the perfume and Dior are elegantly written on the bottle. Around the narrow neck of the bottle is a purple band which effectively ties together the box scheme with the bottle and it is topped with the spray cover lid - a moulded plastic cap in the same pearlised shade as the bottle. 'Pure Poison' is a very sophisticated scent. Upon first application the fragrance is very strongly floral. I find it a little bit overpowering at first (which was off-putting when I first tried this perfume) but the strength of the scent does ease off quite quickly. The floral scents which remind me of gardenias in my grandmother's garden are accompanied by a slightly fruity smell which I find quite difficult to place but I can only liken to oranges. It's not quite oranges, but it's very similar. I also detect slight hints of sandalwood which I find become much stronger as the perfume wears down somewhat. The initial 'oh my god, that's strong!' scent wears down after about ten minutes to something far more comfortable. The fragrance's very heavy first floral notes last much longer than I've experienced with any other perfume - I can still smell them distinctly after about four hours. At this point however the gardenia scent begins to be less central and sandalwood joins it to create a somewhat musky fragrance. It reminds me very keenly of The Body Shop fragrance 'White Musk' which was very popular when I was a child. From this point, the perfume is what I would describe as very seductive. It's a 'grown-up' scent and definitely suited to evenings rather than day. It's suited to women of all ages who have enough confidence to carry off such an intense and powerful fragrance. It's certainly not subtle, and I can still smell it on my clothes for days after I wear it. My 100ml bottle cost about £80 in Boots but it is perfectly possible to find it for considerably less money elsewhere. Try places such as cheapsmells.com, theperfumeshop.com and theperfumesuperstore.co.uk . Bottles are available in sizes that vary from 30ml to 100ml (50ml is the middle size) and a complementary Deodorant spray is available, as is an elixir. In the past I know that skincare options (such as a scented body moisturiser) have been available but I haven't seen them on sale for a noticeable amount of time. See www.dior.com for further product details. The price brings my love for Dior's 'Pure Poison' down to four stars out of five.
I purchased a bottle of Avril Lavigne's 'Forbidden Rose' scent in the land where most 'random choice' perfumes are bought - Duty Free in an airport. I wanted to treat myself with leftover currency, and so my friend and I spent half an hour or so sampling different scents and trying to separate them all enough to get a good idea of what we were smelling. When I went into the Duty Free store, I already had a firm idea in my mind about what I would be buying - I've been lusting after Ralph Lauren's 'Romance' for years, but have never had enough spare cash to justify the purchase. Well, I still haven't managed to get hold of it, as I was bowled over by Avril's 'Forbidden Rose.' This perfume is a mixture of fruity and floral scents, and there's also a mixture of something my friend calls 'woodsy.' I can smell apple and vanilla very strongly within the mix, which is why I like it so very much. These scents are apparent at different stages of wearing. I smell the apple immediately upon application to my skin, and this fragrance does last but becomes less powerful with time. I judge that the scent is more red apple than green apple as it's far sweeter than it is sharp. After an hour or so of wearing, the 'woodsy' scents my friend senses straight away are more noticeable by myself. These different notes are rich and warm, adding depth to the fragrance as a whole. As the scent wears off I can smell the vanilla part, this fragrance lasting a long time - oftentimes I can still smell the vanilla notes in the morning of the next day when I wake up and wash my hands and face. The packaging and bottle themselves are quite attractive. The box is a metallic dark purple with the image of a rose on the front. The bottle is fairly chunky glass, cut into a four-sided shape that flares from a narrow base to a wider neck. Around the neck of the bottle is a silver ring which is inscribed with barbed wire imagery - I think it's probably supposed to represent rose thorns but it looks far more like barbed wire to me. This ring is removable and could be worn, and although I have no use for such jewellery myself I think it's a great little addition to the perfume and would be fantastic for a younger teenager. On top of the bottle is a moulded plastic black rose stamped with 'Avril Lavigne' in small print. This fragrance as a whole is sweet and fresh smelling, and I find that it lasts really well throughout the day. I'm a mid-twenties woman and I enjoy wearing it, although I do know that it's aimed at teenagers really. I don't see any reason why a woman of any age wouldn't enjoy wearing this fragrance, so long as they are suited to sweet scents. It is very definitely a day fragrance, however - it's delicate and clean, and isn't powerful enough to be an evening scent. My 30ml bottle cost me approx £15 in Duty Free, which I thought was a complete bargain. The same bottle is available from Boots and other good pharmacies for around about the £20 mark, with 50ml bottles costing around £28. I think this perfume is great value for money - in the past I've always gone for 'big name' fragrances from companies such as Calvin Klein, Estée Lauder and Givenchy, but I find myself wearing 'Fobidden Rose' more often than any of my other fragrances now.
I found Evian's Affinity cleansing pads in my local Home Bargains store about six months ago. We all love that shop, right? Instead of the RRP of £2.99 each, I bought two boxes for 99p. I make that a saving of £4.99! Each box has twenty-two pads in it, making that just over two pence per face wash - incredible value for money. The product's box is confusing somewhat. It's a catch-all box that has both French and English written on it (I suppose to save from needing two different designs!) but unfortunately this means that space is somewhat compromised, and the box doesn't give me as much information as I would like. Instructions are basically left to simple drawings which I personally don't find good enough - and quite confusing. The idea is that the cleansing pads are in fact little pouches. There are two different sides of cotton pad stitched together in an almost complete circle, leaving a little bit of space at the bottom of the circle to allow you to slip two fingers between the sides. One side has a wavy pattern on it and I believe this is the side which is meant to exfoliate as it cleanses, and the other has a dots pattern on - and I think this is the side which is meant to refresh and purify. The idea is to have a cleanser and toner in one product. This is a great theory, but I don't find that Evian have been able to pull it off in practice. Due to some confusion from the picture instructions, I've tried wetting and lathering both sides of the pad - and both produce the same lather for me. I've tried using one side, rinsing, then using the other - and it feels exactly the same both ways. This for me means that although I do find that the pads give a really good clean, the product is unsuccessful as it doesn't produce what it claims to. Its cleansing qualities are great - make-up comes straight off although please be careful around your eyes because the lather produced stings awfully if you let it get in! My skin feels smooth and clean although I find it quite drying (I have dry skin anyway), so I can't use the pads daily. It has become something I use occasionally when I feel my skin is REALLY dirty - like after a really long day...or a really long night! As for its exfoliating qualities, I'm afraid that this product just does not cut it. Perhaps it's because I'm used to using beaded exfoliation products, but I just do not feel as though the wavy (or even the dotty) side of this pad is enough to really rejuvenate my skin - not without scrubbing painfully hard anyway, and who wants to do that? In summary then, I find that Evian Affinity cleansing pads are fantastic for cleaning particularly dirty/tired skin. Unfortunately, the product simply does not deliver on the promises it makes and therefore should be scored quite poorly. I DO like these cleansing pads and if I ever see them at such a great price again I will buy them, but I wish they did everything that they claim to.
Here's a bit of an embarrassing one! About a year and a half ago, I suffered mercilessly with stomach pains. I had an intense bloated/pressure feeling just underneath my breastbone, and it was awful. It only ever occurred at night and it woke me up. I would be in so much pain that I didn't really know what to do with myself - I stretched out, I bent, I stretched, I bent...all of it hurt. I also tried massaging my stomach to encourage the pain to move...out. Unfortunately all of this was to no joy. I automatically assumed that I was suffering from wind, so I bought a packet of Wind Setlers at my earliest convenience, hoping very much that these would prevent this kind of sleepless night from occurring again. Wind Setlers are small, gel-filled pills that come in packets of eight or twenty-four. They look and feel a little like Cod Liver Oil tablets, except that instead of yellow they are a very bright green inside the gelatine casing. This style of capsule makes the medicine very easy to swallow on its own or just with a small glass of water. The active ingredient in Wind Setlers is 100mg of dimeticone which Boots.com tells me is a "gastric defoaming agent (it breaks down bubbles of gas) and this helps relieve the symptoms of flatulence, wind pains, bloating, a swollen stomach and other symptoms associated with intestinal gas." In my experience, Wind Setlers were very effective. I took two tablets twice - four hours apart, and by the end of the second course my symptoms were completely gone although the pain was much reduced quickly after taking the first set. By my judgement, I began to feel their effects after about twenty-five minutes. Admittedly, this is a long time while you're in pain! I have continued to use Wind Setlers occasionally as required since then, and I continue to be satisfied with their effects. They are now something that I keep always stocked up in our medicine cabinet and as I consider them to be relatively inexpensive. (£1/8 or £2.60/24) I am happy to rely on them for all of my family's trapped wind needs! They also seem to benefit from a long shelf-life (a packet of 24 bought in December 2009 is still in date!) which means they are fantastic value for money.
I've been a contact lens wearer for over three years now, and although I initially started up with Specsavers' monthly direct debit scheme, I decided that this wasn't good value for money and I wanted to experiment with other options. Ciba Vision's Freshlook Dimensions (CVFD) were one option I tried. I have used coloured lenses before (in particular Ciba Vision's Freshlook Colorblends, which I have reviewed on DooYoo previously and really liked!), so I know what I am expecting from lenses. CVFD are designed for people who already have light coloured eyes (blues, greens, greys) and are intended to gently alter the natural colour in order to enhance it and make it more note-worthy. They come in three different colours: Caribbean Aqua, Pacific Blue and Sea Green. My eyes are naturally a mix of blue, green and grey (alternately, not all at once!) and so I thought that I would be a great candidate for these lenses. I tried the Caribbean Aqua and Pacific Blue lenses, buying them both at the same time and intending to wear them one after the other. Unfortunately my experience with CVFD has not been a positive one. I found that the lenses were very thin and although this might appear to be a good thing (who wants big chunky lenses in their eyes?) it does mean that they are quite difficult to manipulate for those of us with longer nails. I was very much afraid of tearing them as I cleaned them, and I much prefer to use a lens that feels a bit sturdier! The website I bought them from states: "These lenses are designed to be worn for one month or up to 30 times over a longer period for occasional wear, as long as they are properly cleaned and handled." -- I found that after about three week's wear, these lenses developed a white-ish film that was invisible while cleaning but very definitely discernible while wearing. Since speaking to my ophthalmologist I have discovered that this is a protein film and can be countered with a simple cleaning tablet, but this is yet more expense (when what I was really looking for was a more economic solution to sight correction!). I have never had this problem with any other lenses, and I don't believe that it was a one-time experience - it started to happen again with my second round of CVFD but by that point I lost patience with the lenses and just replaced them with an alternate. Further to this, I found the lenses incredibly drying. I am a daily lens-wearer and I wear my lenses for a minimum of ten hours usually. It's not too uncommon for me to extend wear beyond the advised twelve hour maximum, so perhaps it is my own fault for over-wearing these CVFD lenses, but I've never been given dry eyes (to the point of pain) by any other type of lens, and my wearing profile is the same each time I try a new brand. To counteract the dryness I found that I had to use hypromellose drops in my eyes twice a day. I've never felt this before and for this reason if not for all the others, I will not use these lenses again. For the sake of information: I didn't detect much of a difference between my eyes wearing Caribbean Blue and Pacific Blue. They seemed very much the same colour to me. Criticisms aside, they did provide a very nice colour intensity which was subtle and noticeable at the same time. While wearing CVFD I received many compliments on how fresh and awake I looked, even if people couldn't figure out why!
I bought my copy of Paul Hoffman's 'The Left Hand of God' a while ago because the blurb on the back sounded so very intriguing. However, it sat on my 'to be read' bookshelf for an awfully long time because it always seemed to me that I had something I wanted to read more. In the end, I am both regretful and grateful for this, and I hope I can explain why! The novel focuses around a young man called Thomas Cale. He is an acolyte in The Sanctuary of The Redeemers, a place the narrator immediately tells us "is named after a damned lie, for there is no redemption that goes on there and less sanctuary..." At fourteen years old, Cale doesn't remember any of his life before he was brought to The Sanctuary. It is a place where boys are brought up by Redeemers (who resemble monks to the reader); where there is no love, no forgiveness, and friendship is forbidden. They sleep in barracks of five hundred boys and food is for nutrition only - Cale's typical dinner is gruel and "dead men's feet" - all of the offal and worst parts of the animal ground together with nutrition giving grains. It is rare he can get through a meal without having to control his gag reflex. The boys are being raised to form The Redeemers' army, and this is the only life Cale has ever known. Things change for Cale. They change when he opens a door. I won't describe the plot further as to do so would potentially ruin it for someone who doesn't like spoilers. I think it's important however to understand the world in which The Left Hand of God is set. The Sanctuary is a dark and brooding place in which terrible things occur. The boys within its labyrinthine concrete walls are subject to a miserable existence in which they are neither loved nor missed when they are gone. Yet despite this, we readers are introduced to three boys who persevere towards the art of personality: none of them wants to be the thoughtless drones The Redeemers intend to create. They all fight in small ways to be themselves. Cale is the main protagonist. He is strong and exceptionally talented militarily: we learn of his unsurpassed skills quickly. In no way is Cale a 'Mary Sue' character. He is not perfect; everything does not go his way. He is a product of his environment and his early years' development underneath the iron fist of The Redeemers will always have an impact on his character. At the same time that he is stalwart and brave, he is a thief and is detached from others. These contrasts in his characterisation make him incredibly appealing and it is hard not to be drawn into his world. Supporting Cale are two other boys from The Sanctuary. Vague Henri is the closest thing that Cale has to a friend, but in reality they are barely acquaintances. He is very astute and observant of the world around them, and proves himself invaluable to Cale. He is witty and clever and his word games provide many chuckle-worthy moments throughout the novel, for both Cale who watches silently and for us as we read along. Kleist is the third of the main trio and he represents the less willing of them all. He is outside of Cale and Vague Henri's (very tentative!) bond and he feels that very keenly. Accordingly he looks after his own interests first, and unashamedly at that. This novel is appealing in many ways. The writing is thoughtful and provocative, but it never loses its humorous edge. Hoffman's approach to description is detailed and personal: the narrator is not Cale or Vague Henri nor Kleist. Indeed the narrator is no-one within the story but nevertheless is almost a character on its own. As The Left Hand of God is the first of a trilogy, perhaps it time we will see that the narrator is in fact a character within the plot but I personally hope that this doesn't happen. This kind of narrator is new to me, and it's fresh. I like hearing a personality behind the words rather than just a drab voice simply relaying a story. There are many aspects of Hoffman's world which we readers are supposed to identify with parts of our own. We are supposed to connect The Redeemers and their One True Faith to fanatic Christians. Their iconography of the 'Hanged Redeemer' is a parallel to Christ on the cross. The Lord Redeemers are representations of violent Christian monks who worship the Hanged Reedemer, a man who was born of a pure woman. For centuries The Redeemers have been engaged in a ceaseless war against The Antagonists, heretic believers whose faith seems similar but different enough to go to war about. The similarities are too obvious to be dismissed and yet they leave the reader somewhat uncomfortable. The representation of The Redeemers as brutal and cold, excessive and selfish is at times almost parody. I found myself amused at one point where Cale was punished for vanity - he was told to do a hand stand while he 'classmates' did push-ups. Cale misunderstood and did push-ups whilst balanced upright. This feels wrong because of the connection that Hoffman makes between The Redeemers and Catholicism - and yet it is written to be amusing. Yet to add in some confusion, along with this representation of the Redeemers as fanatic Catholics [my perception], characters do at one point make reference to Jesus Christ. It is made clear that Hoffman is not describing Christians. This just jars, and it feels like a "get out of jail free" clause to put paid to any complaints before they happen. It is my fervent wish that Hoffman just had faith in his ability to write. He could so easily have created a caste of religious fanatics that didn't so heavily rely on the reader's own perceptions. It feels a little like lazy writing that he has given us all of these clues about what to connect The Redeemers with in our own experience, and then panicked about the similarities enough to go "but look, Jesus is mentioned in this story in another context; I CAN'T be talking about radical Christians after all!" There are many other ways that Hoffman connects his fantasy world to our world. For example; place names. Featured in the novel are Memphis and York - both rather generic names that could be situated anywhere but nevertheless evoke a sense of ownership to both Americans and the British. It allows us to connect his story's landscape with the world that we see every day and again strikes me as somewhat lazy. If you want to create a world? Create it. Borrow from the real world of course, what you write has to be recognisable but not claimable. Further to this is the fact that the currency in Cale's world is dollars and reference is made to "the Jews" (who, by the way, live in ghettos within cities - who wouldn't recognise that?) and to "the Norweigens." These connections to real life juxtapose everything that Hoffman achieved with the first part of his novel; the creation of a whole new world. My criticisms aside, please don't let it be forgotten that the author is a terrific writer. Cale's world comes to life within your imagination - and this is not due to (perhaps it is in spite of) Hoffman's unimaginative connections to our own world. Cale himself is a fantastic character. He is deep and tumultuous, and his story has a long way to go. As I said at the beginning of this review, it took me a while to get to reading this novel and for that it turns out that I am both regretful and grateful. I am regretful because I loved it. I think Hoffman has given us a fantastic read and now that I know it is the first of a trilogy I am excited to see where he takes us. The ending (no spoilers!) was somewhat of a surprise for me and I look forward to following the fantastic Thomas Cale through the next section of his life. I wish I had read it sooner! On the other hand, I am grateful...because I loved it! Although I had to wait a while to read The Left Hand of God, the wait was painless as I didn't know what I was missing. Now I am grateful as the time between my finishing the first novel and reading the second is going to be short and sweet: The Last Four Things (Novel 2) is out on the 28th April 2011. I very much suspect that the wait between Novel 2 and 3 is going to hurt a whole lot more. For any who are intrigued by my review, the first chapter of The Left Hand of God can be read at the author's website. Please see the link below. www.thelefthandofgodtrilogy.com For those who have read The Left Hand of God and would like to read an excerpt from The Last Four Things, this is also available at the above website. (Go to 'Books' and then scroll down to the appropriate place.)
I have used L'Oreal True Match foundation (together with the accompanying powder) for six months or so now. I don't wear make-up daily, but I do wear it more often than not. I find that this product has both positives and negatives and overall I consider it to be an average foundation. A bottle of True Match costs approximately ten pounds per 30g bottle, and is a decent price. I am still using my first bottle of this foundation so I am satisfied that a little goes a long way - generally one pump of the dispenser is enough to cover my whole face well. The foundation gives good coverage. It doesn't feel heavy on my skin, nor do I feel as though I'm 'caked;' my skin definitely feels as though it can breathe though the liquid. It sets really well and sinks in to the skin quickly. It's very easy to apply with either fingertips or sponge (I've never tried using a foundation brush with it but I'm confident that it would work well), and the consistency lends itself very well to easy movement. I have found that coverage is brilliantly even - this foundation works hard to provide a consistent skin tone that is not flat and the same everywhere - it does adapt quite well to sun highlighted cheek and brow bones. The negative aspects of this foundation are in all its drying qualities. I suffer from dry skin and even though I moisturise every morning and night, and also before I apply make-up. I still find that this foundation dries my skin. If I wear make-up for two days in a row, my skin is fine for the first day but for the second there are, unfortunately, some dry patches. The downside of this is that the foundation itself cannot hide the dryness - it clings to any patches, highlighting them rather than disguising them as I would wish. I find L'Oreal True Match to be an average product. It has potential to be fantastic, because it does its job really well and provides a great skin tone. However the drying effects are too great and really detract from the foundation. I imagine that it would be brilliant for people that don't suffer from dry skin, but is definitely worth avoiding for those that do. I won't be buying it a second time.