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Member since: 24.02.2010

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    • More +
      09.11.2011 23:30
      Very helpful
      1 Comment



      Washes Well At A Reasonable Price

      I'm currently working my way through the Alberto Balsam range as the products seem to be constantly on special offer in Tesco. Any four bottles for £3.00 - or priced individually at £1.00 (still very cheap).
      I have a mix and match collection of around 20 bottles in my 'overflow' cupboard at the moment.

      The shampoo is found with similar products in the personal care area. It is sold in tall, white plastic bottle. The pinky red coloured shampoo can is visible but cannot be clearly seen as the plastic is quite cloudy. Two juicy raspberries are pictured on the front with the Alberto Balsam logo above. Instructions for use are printed on the rear.

      The flip top black lid is easily opened. If you place your nose at the top of the opened bottle there is a quite a strong aroma of something fragrant and sweet, I'm not overly convinced that it smells of raspberries but it is quite nice.

      The bottle states to use a 'good dollop' of the shampoo. I would say this is quite accurate, I find that I need to use a little more of this shampoo than some of the others I have used.
      It does lather up well but not in small dollops! The shampoo needs to be shaken out of the bottle with some force, it is quite thick although at the same time fluid.
      A similar consistency to jelly on the verge of setting.
      It is also quite difficult to extract the remnants when the bottle is almost empty!

      This shampoo is aimed at normal/dry hair and is described as 'moisture splash'. My hair does become greasy quite quickly, it doesn't seem to matter which shampoo I use, my hair still needs to be washed on a daily basis (I sometimes drag it out to two with the aid of a dry hair shampoo!) so I don't take that much notice with regard to this.
      My hair has not become any more greasy than usual whilst using this shampoo, so I can only assume that it wouldn't be that great for nourishing dry hair.

      The shampoo washes my hair really well, my hair and scalp feel extremely clean after use. The aroma of the the suspected raspberries doesn't really linger and once dry can not be detected at all.
      The shampoo is said to contain pro-vitamin B5 which helps to strengthen the hair. I haven't noticed a change in the texture of my hair since using this shampoo although I also haven't noticed any deterioration.

      I would certainly recommend this shampoo, it's cheap enough, lasts for quite some time and cleans hair really well.
      It does everything I want a shampoo to do!


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      • More +
        04.11.2011 15:24
        Very helpful



        Great Fruity Snack

        I like fruit but I'm not a great fan of fruit based products - fruit cake, raisin bread etc so Warburtons Fruit Loaf With Orange is not the type of product I would normally buy - however, how could I not be tempted when I discovered a loaf in Tesco's reduced section for only 29p?! It's usual retail price is £1.20, this is for a 400g sliced loaf.

        The bread is sold in a clear plastic bag with the white Warburtons logo sitting upon an orange background. It is not a standard size loaf, it is a mini loaf, the slices are very small. A little on the expensive side and if liked by my family would not last for very long!
        The small slices are the optimum size for little fingers and would not over face a child.

        Once opened, a lovely orange flavour aroma is released, not sweet but more of a savoury smell, it reminds me a somewhat of a homes made Christmas cake.
        The bread itself is not light, it is quite heavy requiring a good bite it is however lovely moist - but not sticky!

        The fruity taste is exceptional, the balance is just right, not overpowering, just enough fruit to excite your taste buds. A little sharp tasting but very refreshing and moreish!
        There is so much fruite packed into the little loaf that I am not surprised that eating two slices equals one of your five a day.

        We have eaten the bread spread with butter and also toasted, I do think that toasting the slices detracts from the flavour and I would now only do so if the bread had become a little stale (and there is not much chance of that!).

        The bread is now a firm favourite with the whole family, my son does not seem to notice that he is eating fruit so it's a great way to sneak in an extra portion. It is also unexpectedly filling, I find eating a slice mid morning and mid afternoon helps to avoid more unhealthy snacking.

        Each 34.5g slice contains:
        88 kcal
        2.6g Protein
        16.6g Carbohydrate
        of which sugars 8.8g
        0.9g Fat
        of which saturates 0.1g
        1.6g Fibre
        0.29g salt

        I have since found the loaf around 20p cheaper in Aldi, I am always on the look out for a better deal!

        Highly Recommended! Worth paying full price for.


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        • More +
          23.10.2011 22:16
          Very helpful



          Worth The Effort

          As soon as my son began to toddle about at the ripe old age of 9 months (Why? Oh why?!), I went out to the shed to seek out the spare safety gate - unfortunately, it had disappeared, so I set about searching for a cheap-ish gate to prevent him from climbing the stairs. The top of the stairs had been secured for a number of months.

          I checked out various sites and finally settled upon the BabyDan No Trip Metal Gate. It was available at all the usual places but I found the cheapest at the time to be Tesco Direct. £16.33, I couldn't believe my luck. I had expected to pay much more.
          As I ordered the gate early in the morning, it was ready to collect from my local Tesco Extra from 4pm the next day. I'm not one for paying delivery charges!

          The gate arrived obviously - flat packed, as once it assembled it remains flat!
          It is simply packaged and easily removed from it's white cardboard box.
          It is very basic looking, a plain white metal gate (a wooden version is also available at an increased cost).
          It is 80.5cm high and can fit openings from 72.5cm and can be extended to fit up to 79cm.

          Once I had removed the gate and all of it's components from the box, I set about fitting the gate.
          The gate was described as 'simple to fit'. Just my type of gate!
          To my horror, whilst flicking through the instructions, I noticed the word drill!

          My simple to fit gate, actually required fixing into the wall with screws and a drill!!! A template was provided so that the wall could be marked for drilling purposes. At this point I was feeling a bit sick so I shouted to the male none blonde who thankfully had just finished watching the Grand Prix. Surely he would be able to right this wrong.

          He took a look at the instructions, extended the template and stared at the wall. I could tell by his blank expression that this was a job for handy Mike.
          A quick call later and Mike arrived with his drill. Now Mike is a dab hand at all things DIY but this simple to fit gate also caused him problems.

          Fixing the gate to the wall would have been a doddle had it not been for our large skirting boards, this combined with the design of our stair case didn't help. He had to hang the gate at a slight angle and also attach an additional piece of wood to the stair post to drill the fixings in to.
          I have since checked the Tesco web site and there is no mention of drilling. I certainly would not have bought something that required so much effort, I would have paid more!

          Once the gate was fully fitted it looked pretty good. As I have white walls, it didn't look too intrusive.
          The gate has been in place now for almost two months and we now all use it as second nature.
          Initially, opening the gate was a little tricky, more for my seven year old than the adults.

          In order to open the gate, a pin at the top of the gate must be released by pressing a thumb firmly on a small plastic lever, this pushes back a casing allowing the pin to move. Whilst pressing down the lever the gate must simultaneously be lifted - this lifting action releases a second pin from the lower part of the gate.
          Little thumbs just do not have the power to push the lever. My son has taken to jumping over the gate when he thinks I am not around!

          The gate opens inward or outwardly but must be locked firmly into place when closing. The first few times I closed the gate I assumed it was locked into place as I had lifted the pins back into their slots, I didn't realise that the gate must then be pushed downwards to click the casing around the pins back in to place.

          The gate is much sturdier that the gates I have previously used, there is no risk whatsoever that it will slip or dislodge from the wall. The no trip aspect is great, traditional gates usually have a bar resting on the floor/step that most people will trip over on the odd occasion. With this product, the gate swings open freely allowing you to walk through without stepping over anything, useful particularly when carrying baby or baby paraphernalia!

          Handy Mike has said that there is no way that the gate could be safely fixed at the top of our stairs as there is no corner stair post, only spindles.
          I would highly recommend this gate for anybody who doesn't mind a bit of drill action. It may be that these gates are more suited to newer build homes so if you have an older house- be aware that the style of your stair case/skirting boards etc may make the fitting of the gate more difficult or maybe impossible!

          This would have received five stars but the drilling was just too much!!


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          • More +
            19.10.2011 14:02
            Very helpful



            Safe & Simple

            My mum is soon to undertake caring for my 10 month old son on my return to work and wanted her house to obviously be as as child friendly and as safe as possible. She has two wood burning stoves set back in large hearthes and required something larger and more practical than the usual metal clip on fire guards.

            After much internet searching we came across the Baby Dan Hearthgate on Amazon. It was just what we were looking for. Large enough to cover the whole of the hearth and also able to provide easily (adult) access to the stoves.

            The hearthgate is made from a black light weight heat resistant metal and is made up of five 600mm panels. Although completely rigid when fixed into place, the gate can be arranged to fit pretty any style of fire place or hearth - add on panels can also be purchased at extra cost to cover larger areas.

            The gate cost just under £70, this included postage and packing. Delivery took around two days.
            The gate was delivered semi flat packed in that it was boxed flat but once the cardboard packaging was removed each of th efive panels were already joined together. It then doesn't take much effort to open out the panels and click them into place.

            My mum has three panels covering the front of the hearth and one at either side. The centre panel is actually the hearth gate. This is child friendly, in order to open, the handle must be squeezed from the bottom whilst simutaneously lifting and opening the gate. it sounds a little complicated but it isn't. The gate is extremely easy to open and very light weight. However there is no way a young child would be able to master such a feat!
            The gate can be opened left to right or right to left depending upon which way you choose to assemble the structure.

            The gate come s with wall fixings - although it looks very sturdy, as if it is made from a heavier type of metal, it does move very very easily if not securely fixed to the wall. I must stress that it should not be used as a fire guard if it is not fixed properly to the wall - this does require some drilling and the skills of a 'Handy Mike' (my mums partner). He said it was a pretty straight forward job - the fittings are drilled into the wall and the gate slotted into them at either side.

            The gate can then be removed from the wall without too much difficulty althought he fixing will remain insitu unless the screws are removed.
            The excellent thing about this product is its versatilty - it has other uses than that of a fire guard!
            It can be used as a hexagonal 'baby den' or play pen as they were called in my day! Or as a room divider - although once again wall fixings are required. The gate can also be used as a configure gate at the to por bottom of the stairs (although this is purchased as a three panel device).

            For all four uses, safety is paramount. Instructions for assembling each structure are quite detailed but not overly complicated and are quite easy to understand, although there is quite a lot of measuring involved!

            I have since also bought one of these for use as a fire guard. I have a 'living flame' fire with a a very boring marble hearth and wooden surround (it was there when I moved in and am yet to replace it!). The hearth gate is SO much easier to use than the traditional metal fire guards, no unclipping, or leaning over to turn the fire on/off or adjust the temperature. It seems much less hassle opening the gate!

            Suprisingly, it has completely improved the look of the room - my boring marble hearth now has a touch of class! In the case of my mum, the guard has also enhanced the look of both of her rooms - providing an more traditional look, adding to the wood burners, not detracting.

            I probably shouldn't say this but the guard is a great place for airing off the odd few pieces of washing but that wouldn't improve the look of any living room!

            This product is a great buy and I would say a must for those who care for young children, your fire can burn away at leisure without the fear of little hands going anywhere near - not to mention the added bonus of sharp hearth corners situated safetly behind the metal frame.

            I have since seen this product much cheaper at kiddicare.com for only £57! With free delivery!
            I now fully intend to buy another for the equally unsightly living flame fire in my back room.


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            • More +
              12.10.2011 13:44
              Very helpful



              It's Ham and It's Basic

              I have always been a little dubious with regard to the quality of the fresh Basic & Value products that are on offer but in another cost cutting exercise I thought I would try Basics Cooked Ham.

              The ham is located with the other cooked meats, usually on the bottom shelf (as with the majority of the basics brand - it's cheaper so you have to reach further!). It is simply packaged in a square, clear plastic tray, with a strong film lid that must be peeled back to take out the ham. This is not resealable so I normally put the packet and its remnants in a freezer bag.
              The ham is easily identifiable with the basics logo in it's trade mark orange and white.

              Once inside the packet, the ham appears to look the same as the more expensive hams available. There are the odd flecks of white that you would expect with any other ham. The ham is not wafer thin although not incredibly thick. I would say that it is about as thick as two pieces of wafer thin ham.
              As the ham is square - I find that two pieces fit nicely on your average sliced bread, with a slight overlap in the middle.
              Each packet weighs 125g, I have typically found that this provides around 10 - 12 slices.

              The product is reformed ham, cured and cooked, it is said to not contain any more than 20% added water and a minimum of 77% pork.

              Each slice of the ham contains 12 kcal
              Fat 0.3g
              saturated fat 0.1g
              salt 0.31g
              sugars nil

              I wouldn't say that this is the tastiest ham in the world - but it's not bad for the price (a whopping 65p per packet!). It is no better or worse that the more expensive none basics ham that Sainsbury's or other supermarkets have on sale. It obviously does not taste like ham off the bone but this is to be expected and reflected in the price.
              Because it is so much cheaper you can really pile in on to your sandwich if that is to your taste - I prefer the less is more option!

              I have been buying this ham for quite some time now and believe that it is excellent value for money. I have however noticed that the price can fluctuate - last week it was 75p per packet, so I have seen a 10p reduction this week!


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            • More +
              17.09.2011 16:36
              Very helpful



              Not bad as a mixer

              We seem to go through gallons and gallons of fruit cordial in our house. As well as for every day drinking, I opt to fill a fruit shoot bottle with my choice of juice each day to accompany my sons lunch box.
              I had been buying Tesco high juice (this is still my preferred option) but the price has risen dramatically in the last couple of months (shame on you Tesco!) so I thought I would try the Value squash.

              It is found with all the other juices and sits lower down on the shelves - pay less, reach further! It is simply packaged in a clear plastic bottle with the Tesco Value logo on the front.
              It has a white plastic screw off lid which is easily removed.

              When the lid is removed there is no aroma whatsoever. You must place your nose directly over the open bottle and take a deep sniff up in order to detect a mere hint of a wishy washy blackcurrant-esque type smell. The smell is quite sweet.
              The liquid itself is a pale purple colour - to say that it is double strength, I expected it to be much more deep in colour.

              I have used double concentrates before but this seems much weaker than others I have tried. I diluted as per my usual dosage but found I had to add extra cordial, quite a lot in fact. The instructions state that the juice should be diluted to taste - one part squash to nine parts water, I think not. There would be little or no taste if diluted to this extent.

              The drink does taste of blackcurrant (apple taste is none existent) but I found it quite sweet and cheap tasting - childhood memories of brownie trips, or school fairs when the cheapest of the cheap would be purchased and sold for 10p a plastic glass!

              I do find that the juice has a slight after taste, this maybe because this cordial has no added sugar, I am not a fan of such drinks or the sweeteners they contain and rarely allow my son to drink them. So why buy it do I hear you ask?!
              Well, I have found that it works really well as a mixer, particularly with dry cider, or mixed with a white spirit (not the paint stripping kind!) and lemonade. When used for this purpose, the false sweetness is not so obvious and it surprisingly blends quite subtly with various alcohol based drinks.

              A 100ml serving contains only 9kcal, so mixing with a vodka and diet lemonade won't break the calorie bank!

              At only 34p per 750ml bottle, it's definitely worth having a couple of bottles in the cupboard (even if it is only used for the many friends that appear to play over the Summer period). This equates to only 5p per 100ml, high juice comes in at 14p per 100ml, so a significant saving.

              It's worth a try but for me purely as a mixer.


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              • More +
                17.09.2011 14:07
                Very helpful
                1 Comment



                Clean, Fresh Hair

                I have been using the Alberto Balsam shampoo and conditioner range for some time now. I conduct my 'main' shop at Tesco and usually find that the products are on special offer in some kind of mix and match manner.
                A 400ml bottle of the juicy green apple variety is currently sod at £1.00, however, any four can be purchased for £3.00 from the extensive range.

                The shampoo is found with similar products in the personal care area. It is sold in tall, white plastic bottle. The lime green coloured shampoo is visible but cannot be clearly seen as the plastic is quite cloudy.
                A juicy apple is featured on the front, with the Alberto Balsam logo above. Instructions for use are printed on the rear.

                The flip top black lid is easily opened. If you place your nose at the top of the opened bottle there is a faint aroma of apples - quite sweet but also fresh and clean smelling.
                The bottle states to use a 'good dollop' of the shampoo. I would say this is quite accurate, I find that I need to use a little more of this shampoo than some of the others I have used.
                It does lather up well but not in small dollops!

                The shampoo needs to be shaken out of the bottle with some force, it is quite thick although at the same time fluid. I would liken it to lime jelly when on the palm of the hand.
                The apple aroma becomes much more evident when lathered into the hair.

                This shampoo is aimed at normal/greasy hair. My hair does become greasy quite quickly, it doesn't seem to matter which shampoo I use, my hair still needs to be washed on a daily basis (I sometimes drag it out to two with the aid of a dry hair shampoo!) so I don't take that much notice with regard to this.

                The shampoo washes my hair really well, my hair and scalp feel extremely clean after use. The aroma of the apples doesn't really linger and once dry can not be detected at all.
                The shampoo is said to contain pro-vitamin B5 which helps to strengthen the hair. I haven't noticed a change in the texture of my hair since using this shampoo although I also haven't noticed any deterioration.

                I would certainly recommend this shampoo, it's cheap enough, lasts for quite some time and cleans hair really well.
                It does everything I want a shampoo to do!


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                • More +
                  12.09.2011 13:42
                  Very helpful



                  A great Tasting Fish Finger

                  Whenever my son has his friend round for tea, his friend always leaves most of his food. I always make sure that he likes what I am making prior to cooking but it really makes no difference. With this in mind and with my son mentioning that he had eaten fish fingers at his friends the week before I thought I would buy a packet for this weeks feast!

                  Most of the fish fingers in the frozen aisle were around the £2 mark, some a little more. Fortunately in the 'specials' freezer at the end of the aisle I spotted the basics fish fingers - normally I have to seek out basics products, it is very rare to find them so readily on display!

                  Ten fish fingers are sold in a cardboard box. Simply packaged as with all other basics products. Plain white with the trade mark orange basics logo.
                  At 99p, I didn't expect too much from the fish fingers - but as they would be likely to be left on the plate anyway, I wasn't too bothered.

                  The fingers are covered in bread crumbs and and look pretty much the same as any branded fish finger. They are perhaps a little thinner but this is negligible.
                  I cooked all ten at once - in the oven on a baking tray. They take 15 minutes to cook from frozen. They can also be grilled for 10-12 minutes, or fried for 5-6 minutes.

                  What went in to the oven a pale-ish orangey colour, came out a nice warm autumnal brown/orange.
                  There isn't a horrible fishy smell as they cook, or when they are removed from the oven which is good as I find these smells tend to linger in the kitchen.

                  It would be rude not to try one of the fingers so I did. In the past I have found breaded fingers to be a little crispy for my liking, however long I cook them for. Not so in this case, the fingers are easily cut with a knife, they almost fall apart on cutting. The fish inside is extremely moist and I have to say very tasty. So tasty that my sampling of the product resulted in my consuming 3 of the fingers one after the other! The third with tomato sauce!
                  I would liken the fish to that bought from a fish and chip shop (a whole fish, not fingers), light, chunky and moist. They didn't taste as if bits of fish had been mushed up and re-formed.

                  The packaging states that the fingers are not made from cod but from Alaskan pollock which has been responsibly soured. I don't know if this means my local chippy is indeed serving pollock but it tastes very similar.

                  Two fish fingers contain 98 calories, 4.2g of fat - of which saturates 0.54g.
                  Salt 0.34g and sugars 0.4g.
                  For further nutritional information visit www.sainsburys.co.uk

                  Amazingly, the boys ate everything on their plates. Completely unheard of - so these fish fingers are an absolute hit with me. I will certainly be buying again.

                  Another basics best buy!


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                  • ELC Shape Sorting Whale / Baby Care / 50 Readings / 48 Ratings
                    More +
                    10.09.2011 17:40
                    Very helpful



                    Bath Time Fun

                    My eldest son was given an ELC Shape Sorting Whale for his first birthday, he is now seven years old and the whale has been plucked from the back of the 'car boot cupboard' due to the birth of his brother nine months ago. The fact that it has stood the test of one child and is now going strong on it's second outing is a testament to the quality of ELC products.

                    The two piece bright blue coloured whale is made from strong, durable plastic. The upper part being blue and the lower part green. There are four different shaped holes in the main body of the whale - each hole has a corresponding plastic shape, large enough for little fingers to grasp. The idea is that the child then attempts to fit each shape into the body of the whale. At a young age this is obviously carried out via trial and error.
                    Once all of the pieces have been inserted, the body of the whale can easily be separated to remove them. It then clicks back together so that the game can resume once more.

                    The whale is first and foremost a bath toy, although we have used it both in and out of the bath. When in the water, I have found that help from mum or dad is a must when my son is attempting to insert the shapes - if I am completely honest, he is more interested in splashing about and doesn't really have the concentration when surrounded by bubbles!
                    He does however like to push the whale into the water and sink it!

                    The whale has a squirting mechanism on its tail, at nine months my son can't work this, From memory, I don't think my eldest son ever could as it requires holding the whale underneath the water and simultaneously pushing the green button. By the time he reached the age of capability, he had completely lost interest in the toy!
                    I also wouldn't get over excited by the squirt, it is nothing much, barely noticeable!

                    At the moment the whale is much easier for my 9 month old to use on the floor, he is less distracted by the water and does show some interest although banging the pieces on top of the whale tends to be his preference!

                    The toy is aimed at children aged 6 months to 2 years. The whale is designed to encourage your child to work things out for themselves, a very early attempt at problem solving. ELC also state that the toy stimulates the imagination whilst at the same time developing senses. So it's all good!

                    So how much does it cost? Currently, the whale is on sale on the ELC website for £8. However there are loads for sale on Ebay and similar sites.

                    I think this is a lovely bath time toy, children learn more if they are happy and having fun - and also when they don't realise they are learning. This is a fun toy with added educational benefits.


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                  • Mamia Nappies / Nappies & Wipes / 66 Readings / 61 Ratings
                    More +
                    07.09.2011 12:24
                    Very helpful



                    Cheap and Nasty

                    I have taken to shopping around in order to find the cheapest prices for my groceries and Aldi has become a firm favourite for my fruit and veg purchases.
                    As I had tried a variety of Aldi own brand products with mostly success I decided to try their own brand nappies as I was running low on my stock at home.
                    The nappies had also been conveniently placed close to the tills.

                    The look of the product is very professional, the packaging does not look cheap. The 48 nappies are sold in a plastic aqua marine/green coloured pack. There is a happy smiling baby depicted on the front and an equally as happy mother in the background. The Mamia Logo is written in white with the slogan 'making little people happy' in yellow underneath.

                    I paid approximately £5.38 for 48 nappies, size 4/4+, with a weight range of 7-20kg or 15-44lbs. This works out at just over 11 pence a nappy. Quite competitive unless one of the leading brands has a special offer (I'm always on the look out for bogof etc).

                    Once out of the packet, the nappy as with the packaging also looks good quality. It is predominantly white with a green trim at the edges. There are various jungle animals waving on the front and a larger one sitting on the green waistband. On the back of the nappy, the larger waving animal is rear facing I assume to indicate which way the nappy should be put on (the other animals are still facing forward strangely enough!).

                    The nappies are quite roomy and have flexible comfy fit sides. The fastening tapes on either side are re-sealable, quite stretchy and allow for a lot of movement. They refasten very well and don't come undone.
                    They are however quite thin although do absorb urine as well as other leading brands. I had been using the nappies for around two weeks without any leaks, this includes night usage although I do change my sons nappy at around 11pm, it is then changed again around 6am - if I am lucky! So the longest he has worn the nappy is for approximately seven hours.

                    You will note that I state 'had been using', I stopped using the nappies three days ago. My son has never suffered from nappy rash apart from the lightest of pink colouration. In the past when I have spotted this I have applied extra cream and his bottom has reverted to its usual colour.

                    About a week ago I noticed this mild discolouration and adopted my usual practice, expecting a healthy bottom within a few hours. Unfortunately not. The redness began to worsen. I applied lots of cream and I mean lots but it did not work. Within a couple of days the redness has become a mottled rash. My son was in a great deal of pain when I changed him, it was extremely upsetting for both of us.

                    It did not instantly occur to me that it could be the nappies that were causing the problem. I began monitoring this BM's, what he was eating etc just in case he was 'pooing' more often than usual but he didn't seem to be.
                    Once the nappy idea popped into my head I brought out my supply of size 5 Huggies - bought on special offer, what a surprise! A little big but useful to test my theory.

                    Amazingly the rash improved over night. It was still sore but nothing like it had been the previous day, A day later the rash had all but disappeared, a slight discolouration but nothing more.

                    The packaging states that the nappies are extra absorbent and ultra dry but from my experience they do absorb but unfortunately - whatever protective layer is used on the nappy shielding baby's skin does not work and the urine rests on the skin - ouch!

                    I certainly will not be using these nappies again and would recommend others not to do so. I feel so guilty and will not be compromising on price in the future.

                    I now have my happy, smiling baby back, hurray!

                    0 Dooyoo stars in this case.


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                    • More +
                      31.08.2011 18:54
                      Very helpful



                      It's Ok But Overpriced

                      We live in Blackpool and therefore have a vast array of activities (or temptations!) available on our doorstep.
                      The latest addition to these being Nickelodeon Land as Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
                      My 7 year old son had been nagging me to take him as soon as he heard that it had opened. Passing it on the way to school on a daily basis also didn't help!

                      Part way through the Summer Holidays I decided to give in - well partly.....I used my Tesco Club Card vouchers!
                      £11 of club card vouchers can be exchanged for 1 adult/child wrist band, valid for one day. The wrist band provides entry to all the rides at The Pleasure Beach as well as Nickelodeon Land.

                      For those actually paying for wrist bands, they cost £22 when bought online, it is one price for all regardless of age.
                      The price increases when bought at the gate on the day:

                      Adult £32
                      Junior £27
                      Senior £27

                      Wrist bands for Nickelodeon ONLY cost £18, online or at the gate.

                      For those not wishing to use the rides eg accompanying children, Pleasure Beach passes are available for £5 per person, allowing entry into the park and also the maze, Pleasure Beach Express (train ride) and a couple of children's shows.
                      If a pass is purchased and you decide that you then want to buy a wristband the £5 is deducted from the cost.

                      Children under the age of 2 years are provided with a free pass but once they can walk unaided and wish to use the rides they must have a wrist band or ride tickets - come on Pleasure Beach, have a heart!!! £18/£22 to go on a few baby rides when the rest of the family have purchased wrist bands at great cost, it's a bit mean!!

                      Likewise, if an adult wishes to accompany a child on the Nickelodeon rides they must also pay £18, the Pleasure Beach pass does not permit this. This can result in a very costly outing.

                      The Pleasure Beach opens it's doors at 10.00am, although the rides are not in operation until 10.30am, times are also staggered, so some open later. It closes at 8pm but check the website for confirmation prior to visiting.
                      I used to work at the Pleasure Beach and had not been back since it had changed to wrist bands and the fee entry system.
                      I assumed entry would be a speedy process as previously but unfortunately it wasn't!

                      We arrived at 10.45am. There were two large queues adjacent to the rear car park - there was no distinction in the queues. Those who had purchased online, buying on the day or exchanging vouchers - all queue together. A very poor system.
                      If you happen to go - use the left hand queue heading through the Globe Theatre, it looks much longer from the outside but it is far quicker.
                      It took us around half an hour to queue to get in. Compared to other theme parks their entry system is a bit of a joke.

                      Nickelodeon Land is situated at the far side of the park up the ramp next to the ice drome and down the other side.
                      Those who have visited the Pleasure Beach previously will recognise the new attraction as the old Beaver Creek - what was the children's park, housing rides such as The Magic Mountain, Lilttle Dipper etc.
                      This area has not increased in size and it must be noted that it forms only a small part of The Pleasure Beach.
                      If you have not visited before do not have any grand ideas on the scale of Alton Towers or even Gullivers World. There are probably only a few more rides for children in this area than there are on South or Central Pier.

                      Nickelodeon Land is made up of 12 rides, the odd gift shop and a couple of eateries.
                      There are at least three rides that remain from the old beaver creek - the log flume - now named The Rug Rats Lost River, the little dipper now known as The Blue Flyer and the roller coaster - re-named The Nickelodeon Streak (the old wooden frame has now been painted bright orange, whilst the carriages have had an orange make over!).
                      One of the better rides for young children - The Magic Mountain has gone and has been replaced by Dora's World Voyage. A very tame water ride. Floating along in a would be balloon sailing past various forms of plastic wildlife!

                      The problem with Nick Land is that it is not aimed at any one age range - if anything it is too broad. Height restrictions apply on the rides meaning that many children cannot ride without an adult.
                      Rides such as The Nick Streak are far too scary for younger children - even if they did break the height barrier. Many of the children on this ride had come over from The Pleasure Beach side and were I would say a minimum of 8/9 years old, quite a few were teenagers, not to mention lots of adults without children.

                      Like wise for the new Avatar Airbender. Similar in thrills I would say to a Pirate Ship but a bit sleeker and faster and also on rails (how simlilar?!). Too old for most children visiting.
                      There is of course the obligatory basic up and down ride, similar to the old style helicopters and planes but a more modern, bright pink and named The Fairy Taxi Spin - there was no way I was getting my son on that! I assume it would be the same for other boys.

                      By far the best ride in this area is Spongebob's Splash Bash. Children and adults alike were clamouring to get back on it after their first ride. It is a ride you walk on to. Once in the multi capacity boat, the floor drops and water rises outside.
                      The boats then spin quite slowly passing other boats (I think there are about three, each holding 6+ people).
                      It doesn't sound all that great until you take into account the guns!

                      Each person has a water gun which they operate by spinning a lever, pumping water out of the gun. The idea is to drench as many people as possible be they in other boats or innocent bystanders. The innocent bystanders do get a chance to wreak revenge as there are guns situated just outside the ride aimed at the boats.
                      Both my son and I thought this ride to be hilarious. We were completely wet through after the first time so went on twice more!

                      Because Nick Land is quite small it becomes extremely congested, particularly as many of the guests have a pram or two! We didn't queue that long for any ride - we averaged around 15 minutes per ride although The Nick Streak was by far the longest at around 35 minutes.
                      Each time you enter a ride you need to scan your wrist band at a turnstile. I think this slows down the process somewhat.

                      There certainly was not enough in Nick Land to keep my 7 year old amused. Had we purchased only the Nick Land wrist bands I would have felt cheated.
                      I recommend that if buying a wrist band for whatever age to spend the extra £4 per person (online price) and go for the full pleasure Beach/Nick Land combined wrist band.
                      There are still plenty of rides on the Pleasure Beach itself that younger children will enjoy such as Alice In Wonderland, The Flying Machines, The River Caves and The Gold Mine - this list is not comprehensive, I'm sure that I forgotten quite a few!

                      Food isn't cheap on The Pleasure Beach so I would advise taking drinks and snacks. If you plan to go on the water rides and not get wet some kind of waterproof wear is a must!

                      A handy tip - Nick Land does quieten down considerably after 5pm. We returned after going on the bigger rides on The Pleasure Beach and found we could walk on to any ride without queuing, it was then that we took advantage of the Spongebob wet rides.

                      Get there early, if you plan to go on all rides in both parks, you will not have time to do them all.
                      Pleasure Beach would be better to offer a discounted second day ticket so that full advantage of all rides can be taken. It would also ease the pressure when rushing from one ride to the next!

                      They do however offer cheaper early evening tickets. although it remains to be seen how much a person could do in such a short time.
                      In my day, the park would remain open until midnight - the wrist band system has removed any need for late night opening, unfortunately at the expense of the consumer - pay the same price for a limited service. It's always the way!

                      A fun but costly day out.


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                      • Asda Smart Price Toaster / Toaster / 66 Readings / 62 Ratings
                        More +
                        27.08.2011 13:31
                        Very helpful



                        You Get What You Pay For

                        Around 6 months ago my trusty M & S toaster went bang, well more fizzle after approximately 5 years of use. I didn't want to spend a small fortune on a new one, so shopped around for the cheapest decent looking one I could find.

                        Tesco had little to offer at the time, their Vale products were quite expensive but have now come down quite a lot in price.
                        A quick trip to Asda later and I spotted the Asda Smart Price Toaster. The one I purchased is black, not white as pictured above. Even better, as my kitchen is predominantly black, so it matches!

                        It is exactly the same toaster apart from the colour TA8120B, the addition of the B in the catalogue number I assume represents black!
                        I paid £9.97 for the toaster although on the website they are currently for sale for £9.96.

                        The toaster is well packaged and is sold in a cardboard box depicting the toaster, with a few simple instructions for use on the side. Surprisingly, the box doesn't look cheap and nasty, had I been bought this as a gift, I would have expected it to cost more!

                        It is a no frills toaster, quite a simple design but it does everything I expect a toaster to do.
                        It has two slots, these are automatically variable depending on the thickness of the bread being used. Once the bread is placed in the toaster, a lever at the front is depressed in order to lower the bread.

                        The browning of the toast is controlled by a dial underneath the lever on the front. It has 7 settings, the user must adjust according to preference. I don't like mine too dark so it remains in between numbers four and five.

                        There are three small buttons to the left of the dial. The upper button is the defrost setting, meaning that bread can be toasted from frozen.
                        The button below this is to re-heat. Quite handy, as I'm always forgetting about my toast when the children are around and tend to get round to eating it half an hour after it was originally toasted!
                        The lowest button is to cancel whatever the toaster is doing. Press it and the bread/toast pops up.
                        Each button has a small light next to it, this illuminates red when the buttons are depressed indicating that the facility is in use.

                        The toaster is quite easy to clean although being black it tends to show smudges and finger marks more than a white one would do. It has a removable crumb tray which I seem to be forever emptying, if I don't do this every couple of days the crumbs tend to spill onto the counter. It could therefore probably be improved by making the tray a little deeper.

                        So how does it toast? I have to admit, it certainly isn't as good as my last toaster. I had thought that one toaster would toast the same as any other, producing the same result! Unfortunately it doesn't. I have tried toasting on various settings but the finished product always seems to come out quite hard and brittle.
                        This obviously isn't the case with the lowest settings but then the bread is barely toasted.

                        I also find that when toasting only one piece of toast I have to be careful. As the individual piece of bread is not protected from the heat by another piece of bread it toasts more quickly on the offending side. When toasting only one piece of bread, I cancel mid cycle and turn the bread over so that it toasts more evenly.
                        This problem would however occur with any toaster that does not have individual pull down levers for each slice of bread.

                        I would say this toaster produces toast that is best eaten with something on it, eg beans, spaghetti etc. Something with a sauce as opposed to eggs, bacon etc.
                        It's ok for the price but when this breaks I will definitely spend a bit more. I think that you get what you pay for - as I paid less than £10, I am quite happy!


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                        • More +
                          27.08.2011 11:03
                          Very helpful
                          1 Comment



                          A Hearty Way To Start The Day

                          My partners gran always sends him home with a bag of 'goodies' after a visit - unfortunately, there is little variety and the same products appear each time! Face with a cupboard full of Quaker Oats So Simple I thought we should start to make our way through them!

                          The product is sold in a 360g cardboard box containing 10 x 36g individual pouches filled with oats.
                          What I love about this product is it's simplicity, so quick and easy to make with minimal mess!

                          First the pouch must be opened with scissors and the oats poured into a microwavable dish/bowl. The milk is then poured into the empty bag and filled as far as the measuring line, this allows for the optimum consistency when warmed through.
                          The milk is then poured into the bowl and the dish popped into the microwave for 2 minutes. This is based upon an 800w microwave, for 700w add another 30 seconds.

                          The oats can also be cooked in the 'old fashioned' way - boil the milk in a saucepan, add the oats and simmer for 2 minutes although this results in more washing up!

                          Once out of the microwave, the oats require a stir. I find that no sugar is required as they are already flavoured with golden syrup and I find this quite sweet. Any body with a sweet tooth may as more if needed but I think this is unlikely!

                          I wouldn't say that one sachet is enough to fill me but two sachets is a little too much, leaving me with a sickly feeling as if I have over done it! I usually have half an open sachet in my cupboard at any one time as my son can manage a full one and half is not enough!

                          The oats do not taste any different from porridge made in the traditional way. They have a nice mid to thick consistency, very smooth and have a lovely creamy taste. You can always add extra milk if required, this also cools it more quickly, particularly useful when serving to children - be careful, the dish will be hot!

                          Nutritionally, each 36g pouch, served with 180ml of semi skimmed milk contains:

                          Energy 216kcal
                          Protein 9.1g
                          Carbohydrate 32.8g
                          of which are sugars 16.4g
                          Fat 5.3g
                          of which saturates 2.3g
                          Fibre 2.5g
                          of which is soluble 1.1g
                          of which is beta glucan 1.0g
                          of which is insoluble 1.4g
                          Sodium 0.2g
                          equivalent as salt 0.5g

                          The oats are made from wholegrain and it's suggested that their regular consumption can help to reduce cholesterol, so this makes for a healthy way to start the day!

                          A I didn't buy these, I have checked the price on Tesco - they are currently on sale for £2.00 per box, or available as a multi-buy, 2 boxes for £2.50, so not too bad price wise.

                          I would recommend this product if you are looking for a quick and easy start to the day - one bowl, one spoon to wash, what could be better?!


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                          • More +
                            26.08.2011 20:08
                            Very helpful



                            Lovely Creamy Fromage Frais

                            I introduced my baby son to fromage frais and yogurt at 6 months of age. Whilst seeking out suitable weaning foods noticed Petit Filous fromage frais in the chilled aisle amongst the other yogurt type products.
                            It actually states on the packaging 'suitable for all ages from weaning onwards'. That's good enough for me!

                            The product is sold in variety packs of 6, strawberry, raspberry and apricot flavours. Each small pot contains 50g. More recently I have been buying them in bumper packs of 18. When sold like this they are secured together within a cardboard sleeve.

                            The six packs cost in the region of £1.50. Tesco are currently selling three packs for £3.00. Or you can buy the 18 multipack for 1p cheaper at £2.99!
                            They are so generous!!

                            Once separated from the others, the lid is easily peeled back. There is a gentle aroma of fruit, not too over powering, just enticing! The fromage frais is not fluid, it does not wobble move at all until the spoon goes in. It is extremely thick and creamy, the type of fromage frais that you would kill for if on a diet.

                            The fruit flavour is not incredibly intense, more of a hint mingled with the lovely creamy texture. There are no pieces or flecks of fruit so that baby can enjoy without fear of something becoming lodged in his throat.
                            The great thing about this product is the consistency, it stays on the spoon until it enters the mouth (unless there is some disaster with a failed deflection of a little grabbing hand). It also remains the same consistency until the pot is finished, I have found with some others that they can become a little runny.

                            My son absolutely loves these, he really can't get enough of them. It's a rare occasion when he eats only one, I suppose the pots are a little too small - if I were to look for any criticism, this would be it.
                            Nutritional information on the packaging provides values based on eating two pots (100g), so the makers obviously don't think one is enough also!

                            Two pots contain:

                            Energy 104kcal
                            Carbohydrate 12.6g
                            of which are sugars 12.4g
                            Fat 2.9g
                            of which saturates 1.9g
                            Fibre 0.2g
                            Sodium 0.04g
                            Vitamin D - 30% Recommended daily allowance (RDA)
                            Calcium - 17% RDA

                            There are no artificial colours or preservatives, they are gluten free and also suitable for vegetarians, so an all round winner!

                            I am really surprised at the fat content, I assumed it would be much higher due to it's luxuriously creamy texture, it certainly tastes much more indulgent than it is!
                            To be honest, I'm surprised that there are any left for my children!
                            I'm just off for a sneaky one now :-)


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                          • Lidl / Highstreet Shopping / 45 Readings / 43 Ratings
                            More +
                            26.08.2011 12:31
                            Very helpful



                            Healthy Food At A Fraction of The Price

                            I must admit, I have been something of a supermarket snob over the past few years, preferring Tesco to all others, Marks & Spencers once in a while and could just about force myself to go into Morrisons & Asda.
                            Due to a prolapsed disc in my spine I have become quite reliant on my mum since Christmas 2010 - she shops around for the cheapest products on offer, meaning that I too have found myself shuffling from supermarket to supermarket!

                            She introduced my to Lidl and Aldi (both remarkably similar stores) in January and to be honest I have never looked back! There are two Lidl's in my town, both on the edge of what could be described as deprived areas. Both have large car parks and easy access to the building via automatic doors. Trolleys are provided outside, they require a £1 coin to operate, or one of the tokens that are kept on key rings. They have a few trolleys in which babies can lie down but do not have any in which a car seat can be placed. They do however have the usual trolleys that older children are able to sit in.

                            Strangely, Lidl do not provide baskets - this make it quite difficult when shopping with a pram. I would normally place my basket on top of the pram. If you are lucky, you can sometimes spot an empty cardboard box to put your shopping in!

                            Lidl stores are bright and airy and more often than not usually quite empty, no congestion in the aisles that is common on larger supermarkets. Products are set out well, there are no high shelves and everything is in easy reach.
                            Initially I found product pricing on the shelves somewhat misleading. In most stores the price is placed directly under he product to be sold, in Lidl it is placed above. A few times I almost jumped for joy at the sight of a bottle of wine for 99p only to discover 99p was the price of something I did not want or need.

                            I find the prices in Lidl are poles apart. Fruit and veg are incredibly cheap, whereas tinned products, store cupboard items, alcohol etc are what I consider to be over priced or at least the same price as in Tesco - but without the benefit of clubcard points (my Android phone comes in handy for price checking!).

                            Every week my trolley is loaded with fruit and veg - some of the products are pre-packaged, others you can hand pick yourself. The fruit and veg appears more wholesome than that in mainstream supermarkets, a little bit of extra dirt, it might be tied up with string and comes in a variety of shapes and sizes - not always the standard uniform pretty looking fruit and veg. Old fashioned fruit and veg I like to call it!

                            My trolley load this week came to only £20.64. Here are a few examples of the prices I paid:

                            2 x Little Gem Lettuce = 59p
                            Punnet of Cherry Tomatoes = 59p
                            Pack of Radish = 50p
                            Salad Cress = 24p
                            Pack of celery (approx 8 sticks) = 39p
                            Red apples (8) = £1.39
                            Oranges, large, loose 4 for = £1

                            Kingsmill bread was also on offer, two loaves for £2.00.

                            The none branded cooked meats and chiller products are also very good value and do not taste any different to the more well known brands and in some cases they taste better - Lidl do two fantastic creamy coleslaws far better than any other I have tried.

                            Lidl also sell a limited range of none food items, these are on sale sporadically, when they have gone that's it. Special offers begin on a Thursday, a leaflet is distributed a few days before to let would be purchasers know what will be available.
                            It is not uncommon to see elderly folk departing with a printer or fax machine early on a Thursday morning!!

                            There are sometimes lengthy queues at the tills despite the aisles being virtually empty! Having said that, the till operators are amongst the speediest I have seen. Most of the bar codes on their own products are larger and much easier to scan, this seems to speed up the process.
                            Payment can only be made by cash or debit card, so don't take your credit card with you!
                            Carrier bags are available for a small charge - however my supermarket snobbish attitude still can't quite allow me to wander the streets with a Lidl carrier bag, so I take my M & S canvas bags!

                            The best time to shop at Lidl I find is early morning, the great unwashed don't tend to rise that early and this makes for a more pleasant shopping experience.
                            My local stores both open at 8am daily, one is then open until 8pm the other closes at 9pm. Both open on Sundays from 10am - 4pm.

                            If you love your fruit and veg, this is definitely the place to shop, you will save a fortune. Take your own carrier bags and beware of would be false 'bargains'.


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