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I have just reached the "end" of the Envirofone process today, ie. I received my cheque! I was very impressed with the speedy service and updates.
After checking the website and reading the relevant FAQ's, I sent my Nokia N95 8GB to EF last Tuesday 10/11 (worth just over £112 in cash - have upgraded to an iPhone which cost me £87 for the handset so my Envirofone cheque covered the cost with £25 to spare, waheey!) in the freepost envelope they sent me - which also arrived quickly (I also wrapped my phone in extra bubble wrap before popping it in the jiffy bag to ensure no damage would occur in the post). I paid 75p to ensure Recorded Delivery (admittedly, I should have really sent it Special Delivery due to the phone's worth, but I took a risk to cut costs and luckily it paid off!) and the freepost sticker courtesy of EF took care of the rest of the postage cost.
I then received an email on Thursday evening, 12/11, confirming my phone had been tested and that they would be paying the full amount offered, and that details about payment dispatch would follow. Next email received Saturday 14/11 confirming my payment had been dispatched. Cheque received this morning, Monday 16/11 and promptly paid into my bank account at lunchtime!
A 6 calendar day turnaround from dropping the phone in at the PO + two email updates + a cheque for £112 = me being one very happy lady! This is the first time I have used a mobile phone recycling service, I found it to be simple and stress free, would definitely recommend Envirofone to other mobile phone traders. You can get a quick quote on your working phone within seconds on the website, which is very easy to navigate and user friendly.
I could've gotten an extra £3 for my phone had I used an alternative web based phone buying service (a price comparison tool is available on MoneySavingExpert), but my instincts told me to visit Envirofone, am I'm very glad that I did!
How old are you?
The grand old age of 22
What colour are your eyes?
How tall are you?
Too tall! 5 feet, 11 inches - a model's height, pity I don't have the model's body to match it!
Blonde - just how blonde varies on my mood when I visit the hair dressers :)
Do you have any brothers or sisters?
Two younger brothers
Do you prefer cats or dogs?
Dogs all the way...I am a true dog lover and completely irritate the OH with my "ooh-ing" and "aah-ing" over ANY dog that I come across
What is your job?
My title is Account Manager (nowhere near as grand as it sounds, believe me!)
Do you like your job?
Neither here nor there - this isn't what I'm going to be when I grow up.
What is your favourite dessert?
Hot chocolate fudge cake with good vanilla ice cream, if it's on the menu I have to have it!
Food you loathe that should be banned?
Cheesecake and salmon
Are you a savory or sweet girl?
Sweet, first and foremost, I'm a chocoholic, but I also love savoury nibbles and crisps, so more of a food-a-holic really lol
Last 3 films you watched?
The Accidental Husband, Casino Royale, Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Song I can't get out of my head at the moment?
You can usually catch me at any one time singing a Beyonce song
Favourite programme at the moment?
X Factor and The Cube!
Where you going on your next holiday?
Back to Florida, after a 6 year absence
Favourite Country you have been to?
Favourite Beach holiday?
Reading, Net surfing, Driving
Last thing that made me laugh?
The OH getting very angry whilst trying (and failing) to play a song on Guitar Hero :)
Mine's a vodka and diet Coke, please!
It's not just the resealable 175g foil pack of Cadbury's Giant Buttons for £1 deal in Asda at the moment that has wooed me towards these (although I am a sucker for a good bargain!), as I certainly don't need any convincing to buy them! As a serious chocoholic, I would find it hard to pin point my favourite type of chocolate or my favourite chocolate bar on the market - but Giant Buttons are fast moving above and beyond anything else for me.
The re-branding of Giant Buttons, along with new lines of Cadburys confectionary, such as chocolate raisins, chocolate peanuts and Clusters, all available in matching foil "pouch" packets have made them seem a fairly new product recently, but the Buttons have been around for quite a while, albeit they have gone fairly un-noticed. Cadbury's seem to be relaunching them with a bang now (they're now differently packaged than the picture DooYoo shows), because they seem to be everywhere - and I just can NOT resist them!!
I bought my current packet in the aforementioned £1 a bag deal in Asda but have seen them being sold in the Co-op and in Morrisons, full priced, at £1.75 a bag, which is rather pricey, and 175g does not seem a great deal for the asking price, but when tearing open a new bag and looking inside, it does seem that you get quite a lot of buttons for your pennies! The Giant Buttons are newly available in smaller bags (35-40g) too and they'll cost you about 55p. They really are just what they say on the pack, your childhood favourite choc buttons, but GIANT! Don't be envisioning saucer or frisbee sized chocolate plates flying around your living room though, fear not, the Buttons come in at about the size of a 2p coin!
Personlly, I don't understand my own adoration of these Buttons, Cadbury's isn't my favourite brand of chocloate by any means, I usually much prefer Galaxy. So what is the appeal? I think it's the incomplicated taste, smoothness and chunkiness of them. Because they really are quite chunky, especially when you stack two of them together and chomp down on them. There is something incredibly satisfying to the breaking of the solidness of them between your teeth and the nice big size of them. I always did like normal Buttons, but these are taking little Buttons to the next level! They're Buttons for big kids! Creamy, uncomplicated, satisfying! Can you tell I really like them??!
I suppose I should include this bit - although I hate to say anything bad about my new chocolate obsession (sob!) but they aren't the healthiest snack, as you would expect:
Nutritional Information Per 100g:
Thanks for reading!
When I was younger, Deep Heat spray was a foul smelling "something" that my Mum used to spray onto my Dad's legs after he had been out playing football! The name, Deep Heat, scared me somewhat as a child and I didn't dare mess about with it as a result.
It's only been recently, in the last few weeks that I have tried this product, and it was reluctantly that I agreed to use it (due to my childhood memories sticking in my mind) to help the lower back pain I have been experiencing lately. The Deep Heat spray I have used was the 150g aerosol can which retails at around £2.69. You can also buy the Deep Heat brand product in a patch or as a rub. There are cheaper products on the market too, which do the same thing, such as supermarkets own brand "Muscle Rub" and the like. It is available widely, from supermarkets as well as your specialist chemists, Boots, Superdrug etc.
It comes in a red can (emphasising the "heat" aspect, I suppose!) and claims to ease "mild to moderate" rhumatic pain, muscular aches and pains. In short, it's not a long term solution to your pain, more like a quick fix, as and when you need it.
Now, I would strongly recommend that you use the spray either outside or in a very well ventilated area. It smells very strongly of germoline and is almost enough to choke you if you were to spray it in an enclosed space.
The instructions state you should spray the affected area with 2-3 short bursts of the product, and a little goes a long way, so the can should last you quite a while. I find that the spray tends to take effect quickly, within 5 minutes, when you will experience a moderate burning sensation in the area - I'm not talking burning as in your skin will melt off here (!), more like a warming sensation. I do find that on my very painful lower back it does provide a nice temporary relief.
As pointed out previously, the smell is overpowering and choking if you spray too much, so try to use as sparsely as possible, it does NOT taste nice! The product does not fully absorb into the skin, and leaves a very unpleasant greasy film over your skin until you wash it off, meaning that any contact with fabrics of clothes after application will most likely transfer onto them. Not a problem if you are spraying your ankle, but I would probably say you'd have to go topless if you are using it on your back for a while afterwards. Might be best to apply Deep Heat when you'll be in the comfort of your own home for the next half an hour minimum, then! Steer clear of resting on pillows after application - my OH tells me that Deep Heat doesn't feel great when transferred into your eyes in the middle of the night (haha). My major bugbear with the product is it just does NOT provide enough relief. I know it's only supposed to be a quick fix solution, but I would like a little more than the provided 20 minutes of relief that I have gotten from it. Still, something is better than nothing I suppose, and Deep Heat, combined with some decent painkillers seem to do the trick for a couple of hours, for me at least.
Overall, a good quick fix for muscular discomfort, but not something you can rely on to keep you going if you have a lasting problem, such as myself.
Thanks for reading.
Last week, when I was being a very good girl and sticking to my healthy eating regime I was devastated to find that my Mum had bought some Cadburys Wispa desserts in and they were sat staring up at me everytime I opened the fridge (why does she always buy the really good treats in when I've commited myself to a strict diet??!).
Needless to say, by the weekend I had cracked (my excuse was so I could write a DooYoo review, of course!) and grabbing the pot and a teaspoon I retreated to the sofa to luxuriate in my indulgence. The product comes in a 90g twinpot and retails for around 68p. In my opinion this is expensive for a single dessert especially when you can buy a 4 pack of supermarket's own brand mousses for probably a few pence more, but for a treat these really are delicious.
The "yoghurt" part is most definitely not a yoghurt, but a creamy, very chocolately dessert of very thick, dense consistency and I think you can definitely identify that Cadbury taste in there. The dessert section takes up about three quarters of the twin pot proportion, with about a quarter sized small pot full of Wispa chunks. Now I'm sure everyone has their own individual way of eating twin pot desserts, and my way is to just chuck it all in together, mix it up and wolf it down! I think that the proportion is great, with just the right amount of Wispa chunks so if you mix it all together you get between 2-4 chocolate pieces in every spoonful of dessert.
Typical values Per 100g
Energy 965kJ / 230 kcal
As you can see, and probably as you would expect, these aren't the ideal treat for the avid weight watcher, but everything in moderation.
In my opinion, and it's not just the Wispa twin pot dessert that has made me think this, but the Buttons and Flake too (ie. anything with just purely chocolate pieces) I feel that the dessert is so chocolately and creamy, the flavour actual chocolate pieces themselves is over ridden. In other words, it seems sometimes like the added pieces don't taste of very much at all, so it kind of misses its objective really.
To be honest though, I think that the heavy chocolate dessert is so filling and gorgeously indulgent that this doesn't really matter to me. I enjoy them just the same!
A little tip - don't leave the product out of refridgeration for any longish period of time (eg. a couple of hours or more - in your desk drawer at work for instance!) because the previously thick dessert transfers itself to liquid form and decides to explode from the plastic peel off lid as soon as you break the air seal, covering and staining your clothes. (trust me, I know from experience!!)
Thanks for reading.
Being a face wipe addict, I always have at least one pack lying around as I use them in my twice daily skincare routine in the place of cleanser (which doesn't help my oily skin much) and to initially remove my make up before toning and moisturising.
I don't use one brand of wipes in particular, I just usually pick up a supermarket's own brand or maybe a branded pack such as Garnier when they are on special offer. I do like to use the Boots No7 4 in 1 wipes, but as they are priced at £6.50 for a 30 pack, they are certainly not something that I could make a habit of buying! Just as well that Boots quite regularly run a promotion of a free £5 gift voucher to spend on No7 products with a £10 spend. When these voucher promotions are running, the Quick Thinking wipes usually sell out quite quickly, as everyone wants to use their voucher and the wipes are probably the cheapest product that is sold in the No7 range of Make Up and Skincare, so you have to be quick!!
I'm really fond of the packaging on these, the packet itself is a deep aqua blue colour and is slightly translucent, with a soft touch feel. The opening of the packet is a white flip top resealable lid, ideal for keeping the wipes fresh and moist. The simple explanation of the product inside is described as "Quick Thinking 4 in 1 wipes, cleanse, tone, remove eye make-up and moisturise". A little blurb on the back of the packet promotes the wipes as "speedy skincare", ideal for when you are short on time and provides instructions on how to use. The face wipes contain vitamin pro B5 to moisturise and soften, plus extracts of witch hazel and fennel to clear pores and leave your skin feeling smooth and fresh.
I find the actual wipes themselves to be very soft and kind to my skin. I have used wipes before which have felt quite abrasive on my face and my skin has stung after using them, but these seem to glide over my skin and I would think they're even kind enough for sensitive skin. They strike just the right balance of moisture in each cloth, ie. not too moist and not too dry. They remove my eye make up quite easily, I find that when using wipes I usually always have to "scrub" a little bit over my mascara to remove it, but these wipes seem to cope well even with gentle pressure. The wipes are hypo-allergenic and unperfumed, so suitable for most skin types, I assume. My skin feels refreshed and clean after using them. I'm not sure that moisturising can be subsidised with a cleansing cloth so I always use moisturiser seperately. In most cases I use a face wipe when I first open my eyes in the morning, and these definitely help to perk me up (followed by a cuppa of course!).
The only bad point I can make is the price, as mentioned earlier I think £6.50 for 30 wipes is a bit extortionate, but with the offers that Boots run, these are definitely worth picking up if you can get some discount!
It was with great excitement that I caught our Cadbury man today filling up our work's vending machine with Wispa Gold's. In fact, I actually shrieked with excitement, causing the alarmed chocolate man to "shush" me! It was actually a review here on DooYoo that that alerted me to the return of the Wispa Gold. I remember adoring these as a youngster and when the original Wispa make it's comeback recently it was a secret wish of mine for the Gold to make a comeback too.
After gathering together 60p to make a trip to our vending machine I pressed the #3 button and watched, my mouth watering, as my chocolate bar fell into the collection drawer. The first thing I noticed is that the retro orange wrapper of old has been dispensed with, in it's place a very shiny gold wrapper, much more modern, but I'm not sure this is a good thing! A guilty peek at the nutrition information informed me that my treat would cost me 260 calories (!) but while painful, this was as much as I expected.
Tearing open the foil wrapper and taking my first bite I was vocally shocked (to my colleagues at least!) that the piece in my mouth was pure Wispa, minus the "Gold" part! Perserverance with the bar only meant me chomping my way through a very sporadic caramel layer...sometimes the caramel was there, sometimes it wasn't, on one paticular bite it was just purely caramel and no bubbly bit and I was disappointed that it just didn't do it for me like they used to.
The caramel, to me, is just the same as what you will find inside a Cadbury's Caramel bar, no different. The Wispa layer is delicious as always but the addition of caramel, even for me - the self professed world's biggest chocolate addict - made it a little sickly and overly sweet.
I didn't want to believe the few bad reviews I'd read on here, but will now reluctantly and sadly admit that they just aren't as good as they used to be.
I am not a devotee of any one particular brand or type of mascara, I flirt with all different types as and when it is time to buy a new one, and to be truthful, I usually buy one that is on special offer at the time of shopping. I was in Asda on a Saturday afternoon a while ago when I suddenly remembered I was in desperate need of a new mascara for that night. I grabbed Collection 2000's Magi Length mascara as it was new and therefore on special offer, to tempt people into trying it. I picked it up for £2.50. It retails at a full price of £4.88, so I got a bargain.
The product is supplied in a 9g metallic orange tube, which is very eye catching, with simple black lettering containing product information. Screwing off the top and pulling out the wand reveals the rubber type applicator that has lots of lots of tiny "teeth", which I much prefer to the traditional style brush applicator. I think it coats the lashes much better.
This mascara, as the name says, is for extra length on your lashes, and it really does work. I am lucky in as much as I have naturally long eyelashes, but they are blonde, so invisible without makeup. Just one coat of this product really extends and lengthens the lashes instantly. I find that one coat works wonders but two coats really adds the 'wow' factor. It's fantastic that a mascara costing under £5 can hold its own against the most of the other brands I have tried with their products costing between £8-£12 a pop.
It comes in three colours at the moment, black, ultra black and black shimmer, and I believe there are plans to extend this range if the trial run proves popular. Best of all, I believe this mascara is still on offer at Asda at the moment, definitely worth a look next time you go food shopping!
I love tuna, it's such a versatile foodstuff, use it as a sandwich filler, add to pasta, eaten as a steak with vegetables, even with salad and mayonnaise is a great companion to it, as is a tomato based sauce. Mix with vinegar and peppers for a moist tuna crunch, the possibilities can be endless! It's a great alternative to meat with the bonus of protein to boot. It's also very healthy for all those weight watchers out there, with just 69 calories per half a tin and 'trace' saturated fat (based on the Smartprice nutritional information). Too good to be true, surely!
Now in these difficult financial times more and more people are turning to the basics range that each supermarket stock, and at 58p for a 185g tin of Asda Smartprice tuna compared to John West's £1.24, this certainly seems like the sensible addition to your shopping basket.
To me, there seems not be be any difference in taste or texture between SP tuna and a premium brand tuna, so why opt to pay more than double? The only downside of paying rock bottom prices is that you are not offered the assurance of your tuna being dophin friendly. Presumably, in order to keep your purse full, you must forgo the guilt free option of your tuna being sourced using ethical methods.
But if you are willing to overlook this fact, and you like your tuna tasty, cheap and cheerful, then you surely can't beat 58p per tin, especially when the price of tuna seems to be climbing steadily recently.
One word of advice - don't be tempted to buy the "shredded tuna" from the Smartprice range, stick to the Tuna Chunks. THe shredded tuna is like mush, and is almost impossible to drain - we ended up giving it to the dog rather than try to make it edible, and even he wouldn't eat it!
Ben & Jerry's Vanilla Toffee Crunch is what I fondly refer to in short hand familiar terms as "The One With The Dime Bars In It". It's a deliciously simple blend of smooth vanilla ice cream with chocolate coated crunchy toffee pieces nestled every here and there.
The packaging is the standard 500ml/419g cardboard tub with the distinctive Ben & Jerrys Logo and labelling. The description provided by B&J on the front of the tub states "Vanilla Ice Cream with Chocolately Covered Toffee Crunch". The "Fairtrade" logo is present on the front of the tub and also on the lid, letting the consumer know that they can enjoy thier ice cream guilt free, safe in the knowledge that "the sugar and cocoa in the ice cream have been certified in accordance with international fairtrade standards".
Now for the painful bit...as with most ice cream, B&J is a bit of a wicked indulgence. A glance at the nutritional information on the carton tells you that 100ml of the product is packed with 250 calories and 15g of fat. Thats a whopping 1250 calories and a staggering 75g of fat per tub. You might be able to justify a scoop as an occasional treat, but if like me you can work your way through a whole tub in one night (albeit with a few ice-cream headache breaks) then this isn't a particularly comforting fact!
Ben & Jerrys are also rather fond of putting a bit of a dent in your pocket. You'll have to pay around £3.99 (give or take a few pennies depending on the retailer) for the pleasure of consuming this delicious ice cream, so for most people this is going to be something you buy on payday or if there's an offer on in the surpermarket. Every now and then you might be lucky enough to find half price B&J (they get snapped up pretty fast though!) and I got this currrent tub in particular on an offer of a 2L bottle of cola, big bag of popcorn and tub of Ben & Jerry's/Haagen Daz for £5 at Blockbuster film rental.
To summarize, this ice cream is most suitable to someone with a real sweet tooth (ie. me!), the vanilla ice cream is very creamy and very sweet, and might get a bit too much for some people who aren't so keen. But it's still great in small doses. The toffee crunch pieces do resemble dime bars, as I said earlier, but they are rougher, knobblier and even sweeter than Dimes. The simplicity and sugar content of this variety are so good that it's managed to tempt me away from my old favourite "Phish Food" permenantly!
Thanks for reading my review.
Oh, where to begin when reviewing the worldwide phenomenon that has become of the sitcom Sex and the City? American television network HBO first aired the show in 1998 and brought it to a close in 2004 after 6 seasons, leaving millions of fans hungry for more. The immense popularity and huge fan base that the show generated, in my opinion is largely down to the true indulgence that it provides as a television show. Four extremely likeable characters, best friends in New York provide someone for everyone to relate to, and the gay male fan base it attracts is just as big.
For a quick rundown Wikipedia will tell you the following:
"Set in New York City, the show focused on four women, three in their mid-thirties and one in her forties. The quirky drama/comedy had multiple continuing story lines and tackled socially relevant issues such as sexually transmitted diseases, safe sex, and promiscuity. It specifically examined the lives of big-city professional women in the late 1990s and how changing roles and expectations for women affected the characters."
***My Take on The Characters***
Carrie Bradshaw, the main character is a thirty-something women, and is a fashion obsessed writer with a regular column in the New York Star newspaper, entitled Sex and the City. She writes weekly about the trials and tribulations that the single women living in New York faces, in her quest to find a partner, or at least find a decent sex life! Sarah Jessica Parker is famed for her role as Carrie, who is a very likeable character and not as sex obsessed as some of her counterparts. She put the shoe designer Manolo Blahnik on the map in the wake of the SATC series, such was her obsession with high and strappy footwear and she once described her adoration of Vogue magazine to a love interest in the show, stating that "When I first moved to New York and I was totally broke, sometimes I would buy Vogue instead of dinner. I just felt it fed me more". She, like her friends, is a serial dater, and there are some main love interests that come into the storyline for her, such as Aidan Shaw and Jack Berger, but the recurrant theme that runs throughout the show for Carrie is her obsession and on/off relationship with the smooth talking commitaphobe, Mr Big, played by Chris Noth.
Miranda Hobbes, also in her thirties is a high powered lawyer in the city, and wears the trousers both and work and within her relationships with men. Although she is a feminist in that she refuses the idea that she can't be happy without a husband, she does secretly yearn to find Mr Right, just like her girlfriends. Strings and strings of failed dates pass before she meets Steve, a bartender who she reluctantly allows into her life and with whom she embarks upon a relationship. Miranda's relationship with Steve is also a rocky one, on/off a few times before she unexpectedly discovers she is pregnant with his child. After trying to raise their baby as single parents they relent to thier inevitable feelings about each other and finally marry in the 6th season. Miranda is Carrie's closest friend, and while she is portrayed as a bold, hard faced character, there are vunerable moments for Miranda which make her truly likeable.
Charlotte, again a thirty-something woman is a true romantic and a "Park Avenue Princess". It appears that Charlotte is the product of a privelidged background, as she resides in the most costly part of the city, yet works as the manager of an Art Gallery. Her fashion sense is very 'preppy', presumably as a result of her background and where she lives. Her aim throughout the entire run of SATC is to find the perfect man, marry him and have a family. She is always optimistic that she will find Mr Right, and her dating rituals are thourough and run with military precision, weeding out the unsuitable men in her quest for a husband. Charlotte is a very prim character and appears quite prudish mostly during sexual conversations with her more open-mided friends. She is very sweet and kind hearted, and endures a failed marriage with her seemingly "happily ever after man", Dr Trey McDougall. Charlotte is devastated at becoming a divorcé but it's not too long before she falls for her divorce lawyer, Harry Goldenblatt, who really is Mr Perfect for her.
Samantha is the eldest of the group, in her forties and is the most controversial, overtly sexual, brash and outspoken character on the show. Samantha doesn't believe in relationships, only great sex. In almost every episode of the entire six series run there are sex scenes of Samantha with a different male actor. She is funny, shocking and loves her friends, them being the most important thing to her. But even Samantha has been ensnared once or twice during the show by men who have managed to work away a little piece of her heart. Samantha thought that she might be able to change her ways for sensitive James early on in the show, until she spent time with him in the bedroom and realised the size of his manhood left a lot to be desired! Hotel magnate Richard had Sam transformed into the loving type until he cheated on her and was unable to regain her trust. SATC ended its run with Samantha reluctantly surrendering her heart to toyboy Smith, through whom she learnt that love is not such a dirty word.
The series, based on the book of the same name by author Candace Bushnell, took off in a spectacular way, quickly gaining a cult following of all types of women. It is noted in a big way by its fans for its costume design and wardrobe. Personally, I love watching the show as much for drooling over Carrie's clothes, shoes and handbags as I do for the comedy and the fun, often light hearted storylines.
I'd also like to praise to supporting characters in the cast, while I think the fab four ladies are prefectly cast and definitely form the perfect core to the show, the lesser seen characters, such as Stamford Blatch (Carrie's best gay friend), Anthony Marantino (Charlotte's best gay friend, delightfully shrill and bitchy!), Miranda's Steve and Charlotte's Harry in particular all provided more depth and humour to the show brilliantly.
As the proud owner of the complete Sex and the City season's 1-6 box set, I could watch and rewatch the episodes again and again, and not ever get tired of it. I love the characters, I love the fashion and wardrobe aspect of the show, I love the fact that a lot of the scenes are set of the real streets of Manhattan and the cast aren't constantly filming in a studio, I love the comedy. But most of all I love the show as a whole, it never fails to cheer me up or entertain me when I'm feeling down.
Thanks for reading
Topshop sales are booming right now, and in the midst of a recession (sorry for using the 'R' word!) shouldn't retailers be experiencing the opposite effect? You would think so, but in these difficult times Topshop is taking full advantage of the twenty something girl with a chunk of disposable income each month and a penchant for party clothes and shoes. Unfortunately the high street chain sees this as the perfect opportunity to hike up its prices and reap the profits, but more on that later.
My local Topshop store is a tiny outlet in a fairly small shopping town with very limited choice and everything seems to be cramped and squashed in. A few miles down the road, however, is a haven of a Topshop, the Manchester store. 3 floors spread with fashionable, trendy pieces and basic wardrobe staples and lets not forget the shoe section!!!
Everything is well spread out in here, allowing the shopper to maneuver between the rails with ease and browse leisurely. Even during the madness of Saturday afternoon shopping the experience isn't too stressful! You will need time to browse in Topshop though, especially the larger stores as the items of clothing seem to be scattered everywhere, and I find this to be a huge downside, as a shopper. I can see the idea behind this cunning ploy, Toppers make their customer trawl the whole store for that particular sparkly top they have spotted in Heat Magazine, because all of the sparkly tops aren't grouped together, nor are the dresses, skirts and even jewellery! The exception to this rule are basics such as jeans, plain tops/vests, underwear etc, but even with these type of products you are still likely to find additional rails of them dotted around the store to attract the impulse buyer who hasn't specifically entered the store to make a beeline for the vest tops.
I have found the staff to be helpful and friendly overall (one particular girl couldn't find the matching shoe in the back room to an amazing one I had requested from the sale items and when she saw my face fall and she realised how desperate I was for those killer heels, she went back and spent 10 minutes looking before she found the other shoe!), of course you always get one or two face-ache teenagers serving on the tills, but then again I don't enjoy working weekends either!
The store has an awesome shoe section, a place I can spend hours lusting and browsing, choosing new pairs to add to my wish list, and this section always seems well staffed, as unlike some of the lower priced high street chains, the shoes aren't presented in pairs ready to try on then take straight to the checkout desk, and to try on the left shoe you will have to request assistance.
I find Topshop to have a brilliant selection of allsorts of clothes. They cater to the glamour puss, the boho-hippy girl, the laid back chick, the indie girl (think Alexa Chung!), the girl who lives in her casuals, everyone can find something to love in Topshop! They also stock ranges specifically on body type and condition, such as Tall and Petite, they have a Maternity range and they have recently introduced a range named "Mini" which enables the new Mum to deck their sprog in Topshop's finest, too!
The sizing range is set at a 6-16, disappointingly, this chain doesn't aknowledge the fact the some girls who like to keep up with current trends and styles may be bigger than a size 16. And at that, I find in general that many items stocked do come up quite small in the sizing. I am a standard size 14 and have often struggled with particular items on the fit.
An overview of the type of clothes stocked in Topshop will clearly show their demographic is the fashion conscious fifteen to thirty-five age group. Disposible high fashion, trendy pieces that will often last the owner no more than one season before it is snubbed as being "out of style", and off to Topshop you go again for this season's key pieces.
The larger stores hold consessions that seem to be growing by the day. Everything from Motel, Rare, Barbara Hulanicki, Yuki and Illustrated People clothing to Marc B and Pauls Boutique handbags and Office Shoes. If you can't find anything of Topshop's own label that takes your fancy, there is always the option of a dozen or so mini shops containing capsule wardrobes for you to browse under the same roof. Then of course there is the hotly anticipted seasonly release of the Kate Moss for Topshop range that flies off the shelves like hot cakes. I'm personally not a fan of the Kate Moss range in general, but that is only because the shabby chic/indie girl isn't the look I really go for. Her designs tend to be heavy on thigh skimming hemlines, and as a tall girl with less than perfect thighs, I know when to stay away!
By far the most important section (to me!) of my review. Throughout the last 2 years I feel that Topshop have come up trumps, time and time again with their shoe designs, more specifically the heels and sandals. I like my heels high and my shoe design special and Toppers ticks all the right boxes for me. The prices are more than I would like to pay in a high street chain store, but for the extra money you really do get excellent design, real leather and not man made materials - like so many other more cheaply priced shoe ranges -, durability and general all round fabulousness. You can't put a price on the confidence these shoes give me when I slip into them, ready for a night on the tiles. The retailer has more to offer than heels, though. Think everything from ankle boots to knee high boots, both flat and heeled, canvas pumps, ballet pumps and trainers, sandals, moccasins, brogues, flip flops and wellies. The selection is second to none. And as with the clothes, they also offer concession shoes from the likes of Emma Cook and Preen and even a premium range of their own, Topshop "Unique" - although you'll be looking at paying around an extra £30-£60 on top of the usual shoe price for the privelidge of buying "Unique".
Here is my major gripe with TS. Celebrity endorsement - not just by Kate Moss, who is paid to design and promote for them, but also the run of the mill "hot celebrities of the moment" pictured in the weekly gossips and glossies - of this majorly popular high street store has only helped to increase the already slighty hiked up prices. New and key pieces are featured to death in fashion magazines and consequently, regardless of the extortionate prices of some of these "pieces" they sell out immediately, even appearing on eBay days later, labelled "SOLD OUT, MUST HAVE" and whacked with another 50% price hike of top by these money hungry sellers with an eye for an opportunity. And people pay the prices! It beggars belief for me that there are willing buyers for this type of thing.
That said, although TS can be a tad pricey, some things are definitely worth it, and there is nothing like splashing some cash on that amazing dress you just know will make you look slimmer, taller and fabulous to give you that heady shopping buzz!
I'd also like to add something about TS's 'Freedom' costume jewellery range. Whilst the range offer some amazing pieces to finish off an outfit, everything from rings and necklaces to brooches, bracelets, earrings, rings, hair clips and bands, the cost of some of these items is just unbelieveable. I've seen a gathering of flimsy glittery wrist bangles tagged and priced at £15 in Topshop, while a trip up the street to brave the crowds in Primark has seen me pick up almost the exact same bangles for just £1.50. TS's seem to not be manufactured or produced any better, and I am unable to see any justification in some of the prices they expect their customers to pay for their jewellery. For this reason, this is one thing I am rarely tempted to buy from Topshop, unless I spot something lovely marked down at a sale price.
The general price of a high heeled shoe is earmarked at around £70. Flats are between £20-£40 as a whole. Expect to pay £100+ for a pair of knee high boots.
It's my general feeling that most people don't get too excited about the TS sale. In years previous to now they tend to drag out old garments of seasons passed in an attempt to clear out some back room space, with maybe a few items thrown in from the current season which is nearing to an end, which inevitably are snapped up in the blink on an eye. My last experience with the TS sale was last month (Aug 09) where I was given a tip off by a friend who works in Manchester that they had released new clothes and shoes into the sale sections that morning (on a Thursday) and I had better get down there fast after work if I wanted anything. I took her advice and was pleasantly surprised at what was on offer. A huge choice of sale shoes arranged neatly into size sections and the same goes for the clothes. The majority of the current seasons clothing was seperated into size sections ready to browse and at 7pm at night I had my pick of whatever I wanted! Loads of stuff that I'd had my eye on but could ill afford in the previous weeks and months were slashed down to half price and I snapped up a tulip skirt and two pairs of heels, all of which I had been lusting over for months. Needless to say I was very pleased, at the till I paid £74 for items which had an RRP combined of £170.
I definitely think it's all about the timing with TS sales, so I suggest to keep an ear to the ground and have your friends do the same for you, it paid off for me!
To summarise, I could happily buy up almost the whole of TS if I had the money available to me. Unfortunately some or the majority of the prices are unrealistic for the averagely paid full time employed girl like me who has outgoings. But the wonderful designs and lust worthy clothes just keep pulling me back into the store and onto www.topshop.com time and time again. They even manage to squeeze some money out of me sometimes, so they must be doing something right!
I've rated this as a 4 star, I would've been tempted to rate it as a 3 due to the un-coordination of the store and the high prices for essentially cheaply made garments, but the shoe section alone pushes it up to a 4 for me!
Thanks for reading
I know that Barry M products have been around for years, but it has only been recently that I have discovered the magic in a bottle that is his nail paint. It's Barry M's asthetically pleasing spectrum of colours that is most eye catching and I am definitely the kind of girl that is instantly attracted and drawn to bright multi-colours, kind of like a confused magpie, (Although I do love shiny things too!!) but it was the recommendation of some internet friends on a forum that I participate in that made me take the plunge and purchase a bottle of this stuff.
Barry M's website tells you that there are over 50 shades to choose from, and these span all colours of the rainbow. My first purchase was the coral colour. I later bought the Barry M Topcoat/Basecoat/Nail Hardener (which you are recommended to use under the Nail Paint), but didn't have it at this point. To take full advantage of the varnish, I filed, shaped and smoothed my nails before applying two coats, leaving sufficient time inbetween for each coat to dry fully. After the process was complete I trotted off on a night out with some friends for the usual Saturday night nail chipping antics and it was only the next morning examining my nails that I realised I had spent the best £2.95 of my life in Boots.
Ever since my first experimentation with nail varnishes as a girl, then a teenager, now a young woman (at what age is it acceptable to call yourself a woman instead of a girl??!) I had come to think of chipped nail varnish as the norm. I had settled on Rimmel 60 Second nail varnish as the best of a bad bunch. And even this would chip and smudge within an hour/couple of hours of applying it. It was with a dull recognition that I accepted that I would never be the girl with the perfect nails. Taking this into account, Barry's Nail Paint was a revelation!
I woke up to chip free perfect nails and was in disbelief! For 3-4 days afterwards my nails were still fully painted and perfect. I would catch myself at work, having stopped typing at my PC, just sat staring at my nails, admiring, such was my disbelief.
I think I could definitely sing (shout and yell) the praises of this varnish all day, and the only bad point I have come across is when using the cobalt blue colour (even with the base coat applied underneath) the removal process wasn't pleasant. A few sweeps over each nail with a varnish remover pad and my hands resembled that of a smurf. It was really messy and difficult to remove, bit having said that, I haven't experienced this with any of the other 3 colours I have tried (coral, light blue and dark purple), so maybe dark blue varnish is notoriously difficult to remove?
Needless to say, I have recommended the Nail Paint to every girl I have come into contact with since then, and have also got one of my best friends hooked on it too.
Follow the instructions, take your time and allow to dry properly. Stick to this girls, and voliá, perfect nails that last days! A-MAZING!
I'm not a fussy reader. If a book is captivating enough to grab my attention quickly, I will more than likely see it through to the bitter end. That said, I am short on time for reading these days so I don't look for anything too heavy or taxing, or things that make me think too much (shamefully!). These days I like my books warm and funny, with a gripping enough storyline to keep me turning the pages. So when I heard Jane Green had released a new book it went straight onto my Amazon wishlist.
Jane Green is up there for me with my other favourite chick-lit authors, Marion Keyes and Tasmina Perry. She has the ability to provide me with 300 or so pages of pure escapism that can keep me awake in bed until the wee hours, still reading, even though I know I should've been asleep hours ago.
Her latest offering is a heart wrenching but heart warming tale which revolves around 4 characters: Nan is an eccentric but loveable widow of indeterminate age who lives on the fantasy island of Nantucket, so idyllic does it seem. Her age old residency and ownership of a sprawling, charming old house named Windermere is under threat when Nan's comfortable financial rug is pulled from under her. Missing the vibrancy that Windermere used to house in Nan's younger days and also for extra income, she opens her home for the summer to lodgers and attracts a small gathering of lost souls.
Michael, Nan's 40-something son, has as yet been unable to find the elusive Miss Right and instead has recently embarked upon a foolish fling with his married boss.
Daff is lonely and struggling after a divorce, finding it hard to connect with her difficult teenage daughter.
When Daniel arrives at Windermere he just has taken the first steps towards happiness for himself but in the process has caused heartbreak for his wife, Bee.
Nan is quietly confident of a certain magic quality that hangs around Windermere and the island of Nantucket, but is it enough to heal the aching hearts? And will this magic quality reveal more than Nan bargained for?
Jane Green once again spins a funny, compelling fable that will have you devouring each chapter, eager to learn the story's end. Her ability to construct likeable characters that you can't help but root for is certainly helpful.
That said, the character of Jessica, Daff's daughter most definitely provides a stark contrast to the other gentle characters this story portrays. A stubborn teenager, smarting from the pain of her parents divorce, the way Jane Green describes Jess's temper tantrums and difficult behavior was enough to set my nerves on edge. The character is very well placed though, and brings another dimension to the plot, so is not needlessly irritating.
The idyllic beach setting on treasure island makes the reader yearn to step inside the story and take a slice of it back home with them. There is something fantastic about the idea of living at the beach, for children and adults alike, kind of a year round holiday.
Overall, another brill read from Ms Green, not her best, but certainly good enough and as ever, I eagerly await the next one!
Thanks for reading.
This is NOT "Americas-Next-Top-Best-Friend".....famous last words spoken by a particularly ambitious, deluded and very self confident but strangely compelling contestant named Jade.
America's Next Top Model...reality TV at it's finest. And we all know that the American's do it bigger and better than us Brits. With season (or "cycle", as the American's call it) 12 about to air on Living TV - who have UK exclusivity on airing the show - I thought now is a better time than any to review the show.
The premise of the program is largely based around a group of between 12-15 (it has varied from season to season) girls/women competing to be crowned America's Next Top Model, they are put through their paces every week in order to test their model-like 'abilty' and 'potential'. Those girls that fall short of the expectations are eliminated week by week, and it has even been known for two girls to be 'cut' in one week.
Every single series of this show from right off the bat has followed the same format. The first episode in every season see's Tyra Banks, host and huge ego of the program narrow a shortlist of around 30 girls down to the 15 (ish) finalists, with the aid of her trusty fellow 'judges', by auditioning them, making them strip down to their bikini's and do silly things in the name of good TV. More often than not the viewer with an experienced ANTM eye can accurately pick out which girls will make it into the main show. There tends always to be a 'bitchy' girl who the viewer instantly hates, then there's the geek chic girl who doesn't make the most of her underlying potential, there is often a gay girl who will usually tempt one of the straight laced girls into a drunken snog. It's all so delightfully predictable, but for me this doesn't detract from the appeal of the show.
In each episode therein, camera men follow the gaggle of model-wannabe's around for around a week (this is a guestimate, timescales are never mentioned in the ANTM show), where they follow a weekly fail safe routine of carrying out a task designed as a sort of "Model 101" where they will learn valuble skills that will help take them to the top. More often than not, the tasks are randomly selected and somewhat ridiculous if you allow yourself to think too much into it - but hey, this is reality TV! Why think too much into it? It's entertaining watching these desperate girls believe that wobbling their way down a bowling alley lane in 7 inch heels will prepare them for industry that awaits them at the top.
The task is invariably followed by a themed photoshoot where is girls will be caked in make up and shoved in front of a camera. For the themes think homelessness (where the girls are made to pose as bag lady's on a street set), or posing with diamond's and tarantula's, maybe a snake curled around their net, they've even been known to imitate animals of the serengetti. The most controversial shoots have been the nude ones, reducing the religious girls to tears and tantrums, whereas the extrovert girls whip their robe's off and thrive under the bright lights.
Each show finishes with a judging session. The judging panel has varied over the years, including the likes of Janice Dickinson (wonderful television, she was known to refer to some of the girls as "fat and old" and was always on hand for a loud and shocking opinion) and Twiggy. Photographer Nigel Barker has been a mainstay throughout and whose charm and eye pleasing good looks have kept the panel interesting. Each girl is hauled up in front of the panel and shown her 'best frame' from the photoshoot, they then take turns then either praising the girl for her ability or ripping her to shreds for her inability and lack of improvement. The girls are narrowed to the weakest two ("bottom two") and one is then unceremoniously booted off the show. And so it all begins again in the next episode.
The final show is aired when there are only 3 girls left in the competition, they shoot a CoverGirl commercial and print advertisement before one of them is eliminated. The strongest two then walk a professional runway show with other established models, often for a designer. The final judging panel see's the judges deliberating over the most consistent, able and gifted model, before the winner is crowned. The prize received by the lucky winner is a modelling contract with a top agency, a £100k advertising campaign with CoverGirl cosmetics and a large photo spread in an American teen magazine.
Personally, I adore this show, and have followed it from the beginning. I get more excited as each new season is advertised than I did for the last one. ANTM is unlikely to engage the old grey matter or educate any one in any way, but it's the perfect indulgent television. As a fashion lover, I revel in watching the contestants being decked in couture's finest and hoping to strike that elusive perfect model pout, while I simultaneously enjoy being manipulated to hate the "bitchy" character and watching it week after week hoping she is the unlucky loser at the end of the show.
Whilst I enjoy the show immensely, it does have its downside, like most things I suppose. The editing of the show is anything but subtle. The girl who gets eliminated in one of the shows is always heavily featured throughout that episode. Likewise, a girl can be doing extremely well in the competition for weeks on end, and all of a sudden the show will be edited heavily to show the girl's shortcomings and she will be eliminated in that same episode, whereas they'll be a girl from the group who is performing consistently badly, but the judge's will give her another chance week after week because they see "potential" in her. It is far from a level playing field, and in my opinion a very rigged competition.
And then there's Miss Tyra. The show really should be called the Tyra Banks Show, nothing less. Although she is a likeable character in this programme, she will take any opportunity to showcase herself and her 'talents', to show the girls how it's done. She can talk for hours about her experiences of being a model, how successful she was and still is, her industry friends, etc etc etc.....!
Another bad point is that ANTM don't try hard enough to promote a healthy body image. Although the majority of the contestants are just very slim figured some of them have been 'model skinny', aka walking skeletons. They do admit approximately one "plus sized" model per season into the group, but the outcome of this admission is usually the once bubbly and outgoing plus sized girl withdraws into herself and becomes self conscious that the designers she is modelling for often don't have clothes to fit her, while her slimmer counterparts easily slither into those ten thousand dollar dresses. It's like clockwork, you can set your watch by this process.
As a whole, the entertainment value of the programmes far outweighs the bad points (and if you're a superfan like me you can easily overlook these!) and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to any other girl who would enjoy indulgently delving into the fiercly competetive, bitchy and superficial world of the Top Model.
Thanks for reading!