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Skyedame
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Member since: 18.12.2004

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    • paidforumposting.com / Internet Site / 65 Readings / 50 Ratings
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      06.08.2008 18:09
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      An excellent way to earn pin money if you enjoy writing on diverse subjects

      If you're like me, you're always looking for websites who pay for comments or something similar. Well, quite by chance, but after months of searching and coming up against obvious scams or just sites that just didn't inspire me, I found a couple of websites which pay writers for posting on forums. I know there are more but I selected two that had received good reports from other writers.

      These are American-based forums and I don't think there's anything similar in the UK - certainly, I haven't come across anything like them here.

      What are Paid for Posting websites?

      Perspective 1: The client:

      If you own a website, chances are you will have some form of advertising within it, even if it's only links to other websites which might be of interest to the visitors to your website. The more people who visit your website the more likely they are to click on one of those advertising links. As webmaster, you will be paid by the advertisers each time a visitor from your site clicks on one of those links.

      If you are a new site, you will want to get it up and running to look busy and attractive before you go 'live'. Alternatively, your website might be ailing and you want to breathe new life into it. Whichever is the reason, this is where websites like PaidforPosting.com come in.

      Perspective 1: The writers:

      So that new websites can become established one of the things these paid for posting websites offer, as the name suggests, is good writers who will go in and start posting on these forums. The client pays them and then they pay us.

      How to get started:

      The two websites I work for are paidforumposting.com and KickStartYourForums.com. I've chose PFP simply because, of the two, it is easier for newbies to start working (you only have to make 7 sample posts as against KYF's 15) and it is a less cumbersome site to negotiate. But I would recommend you look at both. There is work to be had on both of them and they pay the same rate.

      To register for paidforumposting.com, go to their front page. This page is aimed at their potential client-base and not at recruitment of new posters so I found this confusing at first because I couldn't see any mention of how to write for them. However, if you look at the tabs at the top, one is marked 'Forums'. Click on this and you will see you can either log in or register. I'm sure I don't need to tell you how to do that.

      Once you've registered, you will be able to see the forum threads. The first of these is called 'Proving Grounds' and this is where, after you've created your username and profile, that you must make 7 posts. The purpose of these initial posts is for the administrators to get to know a little about you. They will be able to judge by your response to threads within the Proving Grounds how well you write. Once you have done your 7 posts, you 'pm' the admin to let them know you're ready to start work. I found posting within the Proving Grounds a lot of fun and did my 7 posts within about half an hour.

      What happens next?

      Once you've pm'd the administrator, you await a reply. I got a reply within minutes, but I don't know how usual this is. I do know that it's more likely to get a quick response when you are working in the UK in the evening because in America, of course, it's the daytime so there's always someone about. But once you've received a message back from the administrator that you have been accepted then you are good to go and look for available jobs in the New Jobs thread. Until you are accepted by the team you will not be able to read any of the jobs threads.

      What's expected of you:

      All jobs I have worked on so far have had one thing in common: you must complete 25 posts and create 10 new threads for the forum you choose to write for. Generally, you are given a month to complete your postings. You must heed the rules and pace your posts naturally over the month. All posts must be of 25 words or more. If a posting contains less that 25 words it will not be counted.

      You can write for as many forums as you want but you must complete all jobs within the specified time frame. Do not over-stretch yourself in the beginning by taking every job you see. Sometimes, it's not as easy as it looks, especially if the forum you are writing for is 'quiet'. It's difficult to get a good pace going when you don't get an immediate response to something you've posted.

      Payment:

      Payment is $5 for each completed job. Not fabulous money by any means but once you get the hang of how it all works, it is possible to work three or four jobs at once, which means that you will be paid $15 or $20 at the end of the month. Some of the more experienced posters work a lot more jobs. I have a daytime job so I choose only to write for a couple of forums at a time but if I was at home all day I know I could establish a good working pattern and earn more on PFP.

      Payment Method:

      Payment is made via PayPal and I have always been paid very soon after I have requested payment. You can request payment on the completion of your jobs or you can choose to save it up.

      Tip:

      Mostly the jobs are snapped up quickly so it's advisable to ensure you activate your preference for immediate email notification within the new jobs thread.

      What kinds of forums will you write for?

      The types of jobs available are diverse. I have written for websites for Equestrians (in reality I don't know one end of a horse from another), a website aimed at young mums (I'm soon to be a grandmother), a website for people setting up their own websites (I tended to stick to the general forum on that one). Just now, I am writing comments for a film/movie website and a website concerning HIV/AIDS.

      Not all the jobs are easy and to be honest, they do encourage you not to pick and choose. But I think it goes without saying that there are some jobs which are made more difficult because they are particularly American-based. For instance anything to do with sports or betting.

      Whilst I am on the American slant, I would also recommend that you spell the American way. This is easy enough because if you do spell something the British way, just like Word's spellechecker you will get the red way line beneath the word in question. For instance, I use the letter 'z' in words where we in Britain normally use the 's'. I also call myself a 'Mom'. You don't have to do it that way, by any means. I just feel it makes it easier for the target audience to read.

      I am willing to research on most things but for the rate of pay per posting, I am not willing to spend too long trawling the internet for snippets of information to give me ideas for posting. For me, writing for sports or financial forums would take far too long to research and I know the money paid is not enough for me to go that extra mile! But generally speaking, people are the same the world over and we worry and laugh at the same things so you should find a forum you'll enjoy writing for.

      Advice:

      Follow the rules. They will not allow writers to pick a job and then give up halfway through. That will ensure you being banned from the site. They are a business enterprise and cannot afford to have their writers letting them down halfway through an assignment.

      Finally, I would recommend that you look at both sites, read the rules and start posting in their newbie forums. You will soon get the hang of things. I found both sites a little confusing to navigate at first, but eventually got the hang of them.

      Go to:

      www.paidforumposting.com
      www.kickstartyourforums.com

      I have given a quick rating of 4 stars - I'd have given 5 stars if the money had been better!

      Thank you for reading and I do hope you find something of interest there.


      © Louise Saunders 2008.

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        21.07.2008 14:51
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        The easiest stainless steel cleaner I've used.

        After 25 years of living with the kitchen which came with the house, we finally splashed out on a new kitchen which includes a stainless steel gas hob and double oven with stainless steel surround.

        Because the kitchen took 'im indoors a staggering 9 months to install, he has become very protective of all the stainless steel surfaces and he is determined that the kitchen shall remain sparkling. So passionate is he about the kitchen that it's as well he's semi-retired because he spends hours in there buffing up everything with a reflection.

        Consequently, we have acquired an impressive range of squirty cleaning agents to lavish on our new kitchen but one in particular has stolen the heart of the Keeper of the Kitchen.

        Cif Stainless Steel cleaner (not to be confused with Cif Glass & Stainless Steel cleaner, which can also be found) has been developed especially for the intensive cleaning and brilliant polishing of stainless steel surfaces. It degreases and removes stubborn dirt like limescale, watermarks and grease. It also brings out a gleaming shine, whilst caring for surfaces.

        Sold in a 500ml trigger spray, the bottle is light-grey in colour representing, one assumes, the satin-shine of stainless steel.

        How to use:

        Spray lightly onto the surface to be cleaned. Leave for a moment and wipe clean with a warm, damp cloth. Surfaces can include ovens/hobs, sinks and taps. For best results, finish off with a soft dry cloth or kitchen towel.

        Caution: Avoid contact with Aluminium, silver, marble, limestone and wood. On painted and enamelled surfaces (eg hob burner covers) test first on a small inconspicuous area.

        The results:

        First class results, every time. I can't, obviously, tell you if the cleaner works on really burnt-in grease because such an abomination doesn't get a chance to settle itself on any of our kitchen surfaces, but I can confirm that splashed grease from frying pans or cooked-in sauces which have had to audacity to dry solid whilst we eat the meal we've just cooked, really have no chance against Cif Stainless Steel cleaner.

        I find it easy to use, particularly as I have arthritis and can't rub hard when cleaning. Just a squirt of cleaner and a light wipe over with a cloth removes all traces of grease. The shine is immediate.

        It can be used on bathroom taps and other stainless steel bathroom fittings and can also be used on the stainless steel parts of barbecues.

        The cleaner smells very pleasant - fresh and clean with no unpleasant chemical smell.

        Costs approximately £3.50 from most supermarkets

        Contains: Anionic surfactants, Non-ionic surfactants, Phosphates, Perfume, Benzisothiazolinone.

        Manufactured by Unilever.

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          14.04.2008 15:13
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          Pure escapism with memorable characters

          Cecelia Ahern's novels are magical and quirky. Sort of fairy tales for adults. And we all need a little bit of magic in our lives.

          The author must have sat down one day and said "What if.....? What if someone donates a pint of blood and the person who receives the blood takes on the characteristics, and cravings, of the donor? Even acquires the donor's memories?

          Far fetched? Strangely enough, in the Daily Mail recently there was the story of a 47-year-old woman who was given the heart and lungs of an 18-year-old boy. Her first inkling that things were changing was, when she was still recovering in the hospital,
          two reporters came to interview her. One asked: 'Now that you've had this miracle, what do you want more than anything else?' She answered that she fancied a beer. But considering she had never liked beer before, she realised her reply was a little odd. As time went on, she also developed a taste for Snickers bars, green peppers, Kentucky Friend Chicken takeaway.... just like most 18-year-old boys.

          Cue 'Twilight Zone' theme music.....

          So, perhaps Ms Ahern's plot wasn't so far-fetched after all.

          Set in Ireland, Justin Hitchcock donates blood and Joyce Conway is the recipient. Joyce starts experiencing such a strong sense of déjà vu about things she previously knew nothing about (architecture, places she'd never visited, people she didn't know) that, before you know it, Joyce is dragging her elderly father from Ireland to London where the scrapes they get into wouldn't look out of place in an Ealing comedy.

          The relationship between Joyce and her father was such fun to read and there is no doubt this 75-year-old Irish daddy is the beating heart of the story. I loved him and wanted him for my very own. There were so many little episodes - like one off comedy sketches - between Joyce and her father that I laughed out loud on many occasions.

          Whether the plotline is feasible or not, I didn't care, I just enjoyed the story for itself. I couldn't fault it. I have read two of Celia Ahern's previous and couldn't say I absolutely loved them both - I enjoyed PS I Love you but If They Could See Me Now was just so-so. I didn't even attempt Where Rainbow's End because when I browsed a copy in the bookshop and discovered the characters wrote in email and texts to each other, I immediately put it back.

          PS I Love You has been made into a film and If They Could See me Now has been optioned. That the author is still only 26-years-old shows that she has an awesome writing talent for one so young. I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear that Thanks for the Memories will eventually make it into films, although I doubt I'd watch the film version - they're bound to make a bollocks of casting the daddy.

          There are 372 pages in the book and I managed to finish it in less than a weekend which, for me, is the mark of a good story.

          If you like pure escapism and enjoy the company of memorable characters, this is a book you shouldn't miss.

          Thanks for reading.

          © Louise Saunders 2008

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            22.03.2008 21:23
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            Gives a satiny-smooth finish to your skin

            L'Oreal Wrinkle De-Crease Serum is one of my better finds. However, at approximately £14.99 it is expensive, particularly as it comes in a pump-dispenser bottle, which means that unless you smash the bottle, you won't get the last half-inch of the product out.

            The product is milky-white in colour and has the consistency of watery cream. When it's applied to the skin it's almost as if you've applied a fine layer of silk and this renders the skin so smooth that foundation just glides on perfectly every time.

            I detected no strong perfume, but rather a pleasant and light fragrance.

            I wish I hadn't been so hard up the last time I came to replacing my De-Crease Serum. I stood at the chemist display and weighed up the pros and cons. Hmm, should I really pay £14.99 for something which comes in a pump-dispenser which means I have to waste so much of it - probably about another week's worth?

            Eventually, I went for the screw-lid jar of L'Oreal's Wrinkle De-crease cream with Boswelox. Roughly the same price, lasts much longer - but no doubt about it, not nearly as good as the serum.

            The serum is marketed as an intensive correcting anti-creasing serum with concentrated Boswelox.

            ===And what is Boswelox?===

            Boswelox is a compound derived from boswella (an Ayurvedic herb used as an anti-inflammatory. This breakthrough phyto-complex combines a power dose of boswellia serrata extract and manganese, which help reduce the appearance of lines caused by facial micro-contractions.

            "Tests have shown reductions of up to 87% in wrinkles"

            Whilst I would take that particular claim with a pinch of salt, L'Oreal also claim that from the first application, skin is smoothed. I have to agree with that one hundred percent.


            ===How to use===

            Gently dispense a pearl-sized amount onto your finger-tip and spread evenly over the face. I have a mature, dry complexion so I tend to use a large pearl-sized blob. You will discover how much is best for you. Allow a few moments to be absorbed and then apply your foundation. Even if you don't wear foundation, this product energises the skin making it feel quite perky, which in turn gives a bit of a glow.

            ===Main benefits===

            · Make-up glides on smoothly and evenly
            · Provides all-day moisture without any greasiness

            I still have a fair amount of the De-crease cream left but I shall be treating myself to the serum again very soon. Apparently, there are double benefits to be had by using the two products together, although I haven't tried that.

            I give 5 stars for the serum although if I was being mean I'd deduct a couple for the pump dispenser.

            Thanks for reading!

            © Skyedame 2008
            I also write as Louizalass on Ciao

            INGREDIENTS: Water, Cyclohexasiloxane, Glycerin, Hydrogenated Polyisobutane, Dipropylene Glycol, Polysilicone-8, Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Nylon-12, Boswellia Serrata Extract, Manganese Gluconate, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Hydroxide, Diosaccharide Gum 1, Phenoxyethanol, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Butylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Propylparaben, Fragrance, F.I.L.# B7810/2

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              22.03.2008 15:56
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              Not as good as the Visible Lift Line Minimizing Makeup

              If you want a quick opinion:

              L'Oreal Visible Lift Lifting Anti-Wrinkle Foundation has a creamy texture with a slightly powdery finish. I found that I really have to wear a good moisturiser beneath the foundation or else it will not smooth on easily and will look dry and patchy around the nose, chin, eyes and mouth.

              Provides a light to medium coverage and evens out the skin tone but, despite it apparently being aimed at more mature women it is a little too heavy for women over fifty.

              With careful blending, pores and lines can be softened. The colour is very good. Foundation lasts all day.

              Would look great on a smooth-skinned thirty-year-old.

              Contains: Pro-Retinol A and X-Tensium: From the L'Oreal website I discovered:

              Pro-Retinol A® delivers Vitamin A to skin cells, revitalizing cell metabolism to create a healthy, youthful glow. This powerful antioxidant smoothes and softens skin and boosts collagen production, which fortifies skin and increases its elasticity. It also lessens the appearance of wrinkles by reducing the number and length of lines leaving you with beautiful, smooth skin.

              A search on X-Tensium revealed only that it is probably intended to firm up the skin upon application.

              The claims of L'Oreal and my opinion:

              'Skin feels instantly firmed': If you think that means 'tightened', think again. I felt no discernible firming or tightening of my skin.

              'Appearance of fine lines and wrinkles are reduced in 1 week': Nope

              'Complexion looks visibly younger and more radiant': Yes - but by that they mean when you are wearing the foundation - not without!

              'Continuous 8-hour moisturising action' - No. I have to wear a good quality moisturiser beneath otherwise the foundation is far too heavy and cakes and generally looks horrible.

              In-depth review:

              I bought L'Oreal's Visible Lift Anti-Wrinkle Foundation when I was coming to the end of my pot of their Visible Lift Line Minimizing Make-up. The latter was purchased in the States and I had used it every day because I loved it.

              Try as I could, I couldn't find the exact same product in the UK. The American version came in a screw-top bottle, the contents of which where gently shaken prior to using. That product's consistency was creamy and when applied looked completely natural on my skin and brightened it - thereby minimising any lines (not eradicating - that's a cosmetic surgeon's forte) and giving me a younger complexion.

              The product I bought in the UK seemed exactly the same except it comes in a pump-dispensing bottle (I dislike them) and it has the words 'Lifting Anti-Wrinkle' in its description rather than 'Line Minimising'.

              To be honest, the American version is truer to its descriptive claims. The UK version's statement of 'Lifting Anti-Wrinkle' is just plain b*ll*cks. It's a make-up not a miracle cure.

              But was I pleased with it?

              Yes and no. Yes, because the shade (Soft Ivory) was almost identical to the American version (not quite but still better than any other alternative I'd tested) and it is a shade which brightens my complexion better than any other.

              No, because the consistency is too heavy for a mature skin. The American product is creamy liquid and generally lighter in texture and therefore easily applied and gives a natural finish. The UK version is thicker and has a slightly powdery finish - which I don't like using on my mature skin. Having said that, I do still like the feel and finish of Max Factor's Colour Adapt which, although does have a powdery finish, has a lovely velvet feel to it and is quite unique. If that came in the complexion-enhancing shade of L'Oreal's Soft Ivory I think I'd have found the holy grail of foundations. Make-up connoisseurs will know what I mean.

              What do I look for in my foundation?

              I look for an age-friendly formula.

              Gone are the days when I can ladle it on with a trowel. Believe me, back in the 60s the look of a wide-eyed doll with a porcelain complexion was considered de rigour. Over 40 years later, I've admitted defeat and try to work with what I've got left. That means admitting I am a mature woman with a good skin with a few lines. The foundation I prefer will be light enough to disguise my fine lines and bright enough to enhance the shade of my complexion so that I at least give the appearance of being younger than I am.

              Because L'Oreal's Visible Lift Lifting Anti-Wrinkle Foundation is thicker than I would like, when I've finished it I won't replace it. A woman ten or fifteen years younger will probably find the consistency of this product perfectly acceptable, unless she has more lines or wrinkles than she should have - in which case she should steer clear. The 'anti-wrinkle' claim is misleading: the product does have a UV SPF of 16
              and it is upon this, I suspect, that L'Oreal are basing their 'anti-wrinkle' claim. By protecting your complexion with a foundation containing a UV SPF, you would be helping to protect your skin from the sun's damage and therefore deterring the onset of early wrinkles - although a UV SPF of 25-30 would do a better job, but obviously not feasible in a foundation.

              Costs approximately £10-£12 for 30ml at most cosmetic counters, although good deals can be had on ebay.

              Thanks for reading!

              ©Skyedame - 2008
              This review is also published under my name of Louizalass on Ciao.

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                05.03.2008 21:44
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                An unusual clothing store which must be visited if you are on Skye

                Despite the product title dooyoo have given this company, Ragamuffin is an off-line shop only. They do have a web site but you cannot order items from it.

                *****

                Famous for its mountainous and breathtaking scenery, The Isle of

                Skye - situated off the West coast of Mainland Scotland - is the largest and best known of the Inner Hebrides. Renowned for its natural beauty and therefore a magnate for climbers, artists and photographers, it is perhaps not the first place one would think of to visit for a glorious shopping experience.

                Seek and ye shall find.

                The island looks tiny on the map but you'll need your entire holiday and more to discover even a small proportion of some of the area's hidden gems. I'd like to share one such shiny jewel with you.

                Ragamuffin is situated on the pier in Armadale, Sleat (pronounced 'slate') on the south western peninsula of the island. The little shop (strangely like a sheik's tent, it is actually bigger inside than it appears outside) sits overlooking the sea (Sound of Sleat) over to Mallaig.

                On entering the shop my first impression was one of a glorious visual feast of colour and textures. Closer inspection revealed clothes in fabrics of softest wool, silk, tweed, velvet, lace, denim and cotton in a wide range of styles from quirky and funky to casual chic.

                Rails and shelves held skirts of silk, velvet tunics, trousers, dresses, hats, scarves, gloves, wristlets, necklaces of silver and glittery beads, bangles and belts, soft toys so cuddly they cry out for adoption .... the list is huge. Here is possibly the best collection of designer knitwear and accessories under one roof.

                The designs are from all over the world (Oska, Clemente, Respond, Flax, Out of Exile) and are unique and beautiful. Most are in multi sizes so the larger lady is well catered for here. But these clever clothes, functional and fun, will appeal to all shapes and sizes. I am petite and I couldn't resist the purchase of an Out of Exile outfit of the softest green velvet skirt, with matching fitted tunic and waisted jacket. .

                The fabulous displays are so cleverly put together, the colours and fabrics so tempting and unusual, that when you see an 'outfit' on display you realise the possibilities immediately. My own taste tends towards the tonal in colour. I like my outfits to 'match'. But once I saw how a simple outfit could be enhanced by the casual touch of a glorious Salt scarf - I was reborn .

                The day I visited was fairly quiet in mid-winter. The atmosphere in the shop was welcoming. All the staff were warm, friendly and knowledgeable about the stock. If a customer is unsure about an outfit, help is at hand where you can be advised of the possibilities of your chosen outfit.

                If there is a down side to the experience it is that there isn't a formal changing room. I have never liked communal changing rooms and prefer to take my business elsewhere rather than submit myself to the indignities of such an experience. At Ragamuffin, there isn't so much a communal changing room as a sort of party atmosphere in a friend's house. The shop has a spiral staircase at its centre and if you want a little privacy to try on your garments, you take yourself off upstairs where you share space with the rest of the stock (which is probably clever retailing when you consider you will see even more 'stuff' and are able to try that on as well).

                Obviously, this changing area is not accessible to someone who finds it hard or impossible to negotiate stairs. Perhaps the management should re-think this and offer an alternative changing area.

                My next item is a plus and a minus. On the plus side, I earlier mentioned the welcoming atmosphere. Indeed, the staff fairly buzz with bonhomie and I was offered a cup of coffee and a biscuit before I was halfway in the shop. As it was a chilly day, the offer was welcome. However, on the minus side, if you have a weak bladder forego the coffee because the shop doesn't have toilet facilities. One customer had to pop over to the Caledonian Macbrayne ferry offices not far from the shop. Perhaps the staff would have let her use their private toilet but as there was a customer already upstairs trying on a garment .... you get the picture.

                The garments sold are mainly for women but there is a happy little section in a far corner where men have discovered jumpers by Scott Officer and Fishermen of Ireland and soft fleecy shirts. There are no children's clothes save for quirky jester slippers but the huge selection of gorgeous Jellycat soft toys should keep little ones amused whilst mum shops. I should know, I bought two Jellycat soft toys and I don't even like soft toys much.

                How do you get to Sleat? Just two hours from Inverness Airport, the Isle of Skye can be reached by car. You can go via Fort William to Mallaig and from Mallaig get the ferry over to Armadale. Once you leave the ferry look immediately to your left and there's Ragamuffin. Head straight for it, don't stop till you get there!
                The ferry operates all year round but has reduced sailings in winter and only sails on Sunday in high summer.

                You can also take the other route: turn right at Spean Bridge, take the A82 towards Invergarry. Turn left at Invergarry onto the A87 until you reach Kyle of Lochalsh. From Kyle, cross the Skye Bridge continuing on the A87 for 8 miles until you reach the left turning for Armadale. From here, you are 15 miles from Armadale. Follow the signs for Armadale Pier.

                There is little or no public transport on the island so you'd do well to an internet search for local hire car facilities.

                Ragamuffin has a great website which includes one of those whizzy panoramic cameras where you get to see the whole of the inside of the shop and its contents as the camera slowly moves around. The site includes substantial information on how to find the shop on Skye. Whether you are flying, sailing or going by train, Ragamuffin is reachable. One negative about the website is that it isn't up to date. The opening times are not those as stated (they are now open 9-5 Mon-Sat and 10-5 on Sundays, during the winter and then during the summer months they stay open until 6 or later) All the other information on the website regards travelling is relevant. I might just say here, that there is ample parking at the rear of the building. Lovely views over to Mallaig... perfect place to sit and contemplate after your shopping feast.

                However, there is little or no public transport on the island so you'd do well to consider hiring a car. There are taxi services if you don't drive yourself.

                Finally, I asked a member if staff if their stock was available for sale over the internet but unfortunately this is not a service they offer. Probably because the stock they carry is quite small. Huge on choice but perhaps only a handful of each size. But should you see something you absolutely covet and you travel home feeling virtuous because you didn't treat yourself ... and then realise you just really have to have it, you can phone up the shop and the item will be sent by post to you.

                Ragmuffin also has a shop in Edinburgh and I am told that they carry much the same stock as their shop on Skye but there was something exciting about shopping somewhere that is so unusual given its surroundings. I stood in that light and airy shop of many colours, cup of coffee in hand and stared out of a majestic window at the rolling sea and admired the full arc of a rainbow cutting a swathe across the mountains and beyond. I then turned to survey the fabulous clothes on display for my consideration.

                Yes indeed, deeply cool shopping experience."

                © Louise Saunders

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                  24.10.2007 18:13
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                  A story with love & laughter and hugely entertaining

                  And to think, I very nearly passed this book by!

                  Why? Well, the saying that you should never judge a book by its cover has never been so true. Pretty though the cover is - Barbie pink with the image of a glitzy high-heeled shoe and sumptuous shopping bags - I did assume that this was a definite chic lit offering. Some chic lit I have liked, but I really do think it's run its course and so very few authors can write it well (I do enjoy Sophie Kinsella - although I didn't much rate the one-and-only Shopaholic book I read - and Lisa Jewell) but most chic lit is written in a formulaic way and doesn't grab my attention at all. As an older woman, I try not to turn my nose up at such offerings, but really, what do books about sex, drinking, hangovers from hell and man-hunting have to offer me? I sooo can't be ars*d and much prefer a good book.

                  Generally, the kind of books I like have a strong feel-good factor. They will feature a heroine who is feisty and funny; she will have problems to overcome and by dint of her own hard work, she will win through.

                  The books I enjoy will also be well written. I can't abide half-hearted writing.

                  One of my favourite tv programmes is Channel 4's '10 years Younger' where Nicky Hambleton-Jones takes a miserable duck and makes her a swan again. I am not a fashion plate, myself, although I do like to dress as well as I can, and whilst I am in no way a shopaholic, I do like to see how different styles of clothes plus a change of makeup and hairstyle can dramatically change the way a woman looks and feels.

                  Taking the time to read the blurb on the book's cover and after reading the first few lines, I decided that I might just enjoy Personal Shopper, after all.

                  Annie Valentine works as a senior Personal Shopper in a big London store. She knows her job inside out; she knows how to re-style the wives of billionnaires and re-invent even the most dull and invisible housewives who have let themselves go and lost sight of themselves when they disappear below the radar after putting their families first.

                  Annie is a sassy, thirty-something Londoner with two children. Besides her job in the store, Annie has fingers in other pies to make a decent living in order to support herself and her children. As she juggles these with an loving support network of a close sister, her mum and a most entertaining gay man-friend, she tries to fit in some kind of social life and, more importantly, would like to meet a special someone who she can settle down with.

                  I must applaud Ms Reid for describing Annie early on in the story for us. So often, when I'm usually halfway through a book, the author will decide to chuck in a random description of the heroine and you can bet she will be totally opposite to the one I've dreamed up, due to the lack of any clues.

                  Also, she gives Annie a definite voice. We know Annie is a Londoner born and bred and with the use of clever phrases and Annie-isms, every time she opens her mouth we know exactly how she speaks.

                  Each and every one of her other main characters, from her children (stroppy teen Lara and painfully shy Owen); to Annie's dragon of a female boss (so like one of my own recent employers, it was scary) are wonderfully rounded. They are all given great parts in this busy story and not one is a disappointment. I loved and hated them as necessary.

                  No way does the story focus totally on Annie's job as a Personal Shopper. You won't find screeds of fashion tips and hints cunningly included within the plot. You will find some, of course, but the theme is certainly not intrusive.

                  We meet a few of Annie's favourite customers and their parts are well written and the interaction between them and Annie is not in any way unnecessary to the story. There's no padding in Ms Reid's writing.

                  Oh! And I have to tell you that Carmen Reid is also the only author I've read to date who can write a lovemaking scene which is actually delightfully sexy and funny and not at all clinical or mucky.

                  With lots of love and laughter, a little sadness and a huge amount of general entertainment, this is an irrepressible story with a heroine who will capture your heart.

                  My opinion in a nutshell? As someone else said: 'A fabulous read. A sexy read. A Carmen Reid..'


                  Thanks for reading.

                  ISBN: 978-0-552-15481-9
                  Available from Amazon for £4.00 and AmazonMarketplace from 0.01p
                  425 pages

                  Further info on Carmen Reid and her books: www.carmenreid.com

                  © Louise Saunders - 2007

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                  • Ovaltine Original Light / Soft Drink / 39 Readings / 34 Ratings
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                    23.10.2007 22:53
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                    A light, pleasant malted cocoa flavoured drink containing fewer calories & fat

                    From the website of Ovaltine:

                    ‘Ovaltine was launched as the first convenient and complete milk fortifier to provide hot nutritional drinks to strengthen under-nourished children, breastfeeding women, the weak, and the infirm’.

                    In the early ‘50s when I was but a tiny lass, I would often hear a cheery song on the radio (or radiogramme to be absolutely correct) sung by a choir of cheery children who sang ‘We are the Ovaltineys (we’re happy girls and boys)’ in cut-glass upper crust accents. There was even a League of Ovaltineys and, at the height of its popularity, there were five million members. I’d like to say I was one of them but that was a bit too posh for our house. But, hey ho, it was a golden age of innocence where little children were popped into bed at 6pm after a bath, bedtime story and a wholesome cup of warming, soothing Ovaltine.

                    If you go to the Ovaltine website, and click on their history tab you can hear a recording of the song

                    Quote: ‘The original Ovaltine was first launched as a convenient and complete milk fortifier to provide hot nutritional drinks to strengthen under-nourished children, breastfeeding women, the weak and the infirm….. Ovaltine was first marketed in the UK with advertising that reflected its healthy ingredients “builds up body, brain and nerves to the highest efficiency”. Ovaltine was included in soldier’s ration packs and recommended for pilots during the WW2…. the RAF was a large consumer of Ovaltine Tablets…’

                    That kind of wording in advertising wouldn’t be allowed these days, but it’s still a ‘nourishing’ food drink because of the malt.

                    I do remember when my grandmother made it, she made it with warmed milk (full fat, we didn’t do skimmed in those days) and a couple of teaspoons of sugar. It came in a tin, which had to be prised off with a spoon handle and the original Ovaltine was very tasty. Malty and sweet.

                    Modern times:

                    Like a lot of the adult population, I have difficulty getting to sleep. A friend of mine said she swore by a nightly mug of another well-known malted bedtime drink. This ‘other’ malted drink also came in the ‘light’ variety and although extremely tasty it was also very, very sweet (full of sugar – which makes a mockery of the whole low cal/light illusion they are using as a selling point) and as I noticed I was putting on weight, I had to put it down to that product because my general food consumption hadn’t really changed in any way.

                    Step up the new Ovaltine Original Light bedtime drink. Obviously, you could drink it anytime you like but I prefer to drink it at bedtime – and anyway, despite the word ‘light’ this product still contains 9.9g of sugars which, although isn’t too sweet, is enough to tip the scales in the wrong direction if I’m not careful.

                    Defining ‘Light’:

                    Hmm, difficult one this. I really think the manufacturers of these so-called ‘light’ drinks are pulling the wool over our eyes. Light, to me, means low-calorie and virtually fat-free. On checking the ingredients on both the packaging and the Ovaltine website I came up with the following differences between the Ovaltine Original and the Light version. I have put the figures for Ovaltine Light first with the comparable Original Ovaltine in brackets afterwards.

                    In a 25g serving (four heaped teaspoons) and the percentages making up the whole:

                    Light: Original:
                    Calories: 99 = 5% (191 cals = 10%)
                    Sugar: 9.6 = 11% (22.5 = 25%)
                    Fat: 2.3 = 3% (3.8 = 5%)
                    Saturates: 1.4 = 7% (2.2 = 11%)
                    Salt: 0.48 = 8% (0.3 = 5%)

                    Why the light version has such a high salt content when the stuff is supposed to be bad for us, I don’t know. But whilst I concede that the Light version contains very much lower sugar and fat content, they are still higher than I had originally thought.

                    Luckily, I’m a tight-wad and usually only pop in three teaspoons of the powder because although I am not exactly a calorie-counting fanatic, I am aware that piling up the calories just before bedtime is a recipe for tight jeans – with bulges in the wrong places.

                    Taste:

                    To be perfectly honest, I did prefer the taste of the other well-known malted drink I tried first, but then that did contain an awful lot of sugar which, although I don’t particularly have a sweet tooth, made for a tastier drink. Ovaltine Light is pleasant enough but not memorable. I don’t take the first sip and say: “Aaah! Lovely” I just drink up and pop the light off a while later in the hope that the warm drink will soothe me enough for sleep. Made with hot water (not boiling) rather than milk, this also helps keep the calorie content down.

                    What makes up Ovaltine:

                    Barley and malt extracts make up 45% of the ingredients and the rest comprise skimmed milk concentrate, whole and skimmed milk powder, fat reduced cocoa powder, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, yeast, glucose syrup, salt, lactose, calcium phosphate. In addition, there’s a whole raft of ‘essential’ vitamins (I counted eleven) and minerals (three).

                    Finally, it’s been many years since I tasted the original full-fat, made with milk Ovaltine but I do recall that I liked it very much. It was full-bodied and very much a food supplement and a great treat for a child who didn’t get treats like chocolate (far too expensive). Ovaltine Light is it’s pilly-wally cousin; tries hard to emulate the original but never will.

                    To sum up, the Light version whilst not exactly a disappointment is, for obvious reasons, not as full-bodied as the original flavoured product and therefore not quite as tasty – but it’ll do until I find something tastier but just as ‘light’.

                    Price & availability: Available from most supermarkets and chemists at a price of approximately £3.50 for 300g.

                    Further info:
                    www.ovaltine.co.uk


                    Thank you for reading!

                    © Louise Saunders – 2007

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                    • More +
                      19.10.2007 18:04
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                      An easy to apply foundation but gives an unflattering finish to mature skin

                      ***Who are Lily Lolo and what exactly are Mineral cosmetics in general?***

                      Lily Lolo are an internet-based company (found at www.lilylolo.co.uk) selling only mineral cosmetics including brushes and sponges etc. Their range includes mineral
                      foundations, cover ups, blushers and bronzers, eye colours and lip and nail colours.

                      The site is simple to navigate and a pleasure to use.

                      Mineral cosmetics are made from pure crushed minerals and contain no harsh chemicals, dyes or fillers.
                      I have reviewed their Cover Up and Blush Pots and today, I am reviewing their Mineral Foundation. So far, I've read glowing reviews about this product but from what I can see, these reviews are by woman much younger than me. To balance things out, here is the opinion of an 'older' woman!

                      *** Why I wanted to try the product ***

                      Well, my skin might be relatively line-free but quite naturally, there are crinkles and creases I didn't have even 12 months ago. My medium-toned skin has lost a lot of its colour and without foundation I look tired and washed out. Applying liquid foundation takes a lot longer than it used to because to overdo it results in it sitting in the creases I do have and at the end of a long day, will gradually wear off or just gather at the sides of my nose or on the tip. I spend ages blending my liquid foundation in order to get it right so I wanted to try one of the new mineral foundations to see if it lived up to the claim that it would be easy to apply and the results would be natural, flattering and long-lasting

                      *** Claims - True or False? ***

                      Claim: Easy to apply. No more heavy, obvious foundation.

                      True. Yes, indeed it is easy to apply. A few deft brush strokes with a brush full of product and the imperfections in my skin tone were covered.

                      Claim: Suitable for all skin types.

                      False. The finish might be natural-looking - but not, in my case, flattering. More flattening, than anything. So I would say that this type of foundation is not really suitable for a mature skin. I did actually read that by one of the beauty experts in a newspaper article, and now I know what she meant.

                      Claim: Requiring no additional illuminating products, mineral foundation will give you the natural fresh-faced glow of beautiful healthy skin. 'Feels almost weightless on your skin…'

                      False - in my experience. I am in my late fifties and concede that the first flush of youth is but a distant memory. But I do have a good complexion which just needs a little help in the brightening department. What I achieved was a dull complexion which felt undermoisturised, despite the liberal application of my usual moisturiser.

                      I'm not sure what they mean by their claim that this product 'feels almost weightless on your skin'. I can't 'feel' my usual liquid foundation on my skin either and that at least does plump up my skin and keeps it moisturised.

                      Claim: Light reflective to reduce the appearance of fine lines.

                      False: the dry finish of the mineral powder served only to highlight the fine lines round my eyes and generally age me ten years. I get the same unfortunate result whenever I'm daft enough to use a finishing powder. Mineral foundation is supposed to say goodbye to heavy, dull and cakey foundation. Well, on the plus side it isn't cakey nor is it heavy, but oh, does it dull my complexion!

                      Shades available:

                      There are a good selection of shades available from the skin tones of Neutral/Cool/Warm/Olive.

                      From the Neutral selection, I chose Porcelain and Blondie and from the Cool selection I chose Popsicle. I bought only the sample sizes at 99p each (plus 85p p&p) so at least I didn't have a huge layout for my experimentation. I will say here, that the samples of mineral foundation come in a generous 1-1.5g of product in a 5g jar. Plenty for lots of applications before you splash out for the full size should you decide to go for one.

                      None of the colours I tried were in the least flattering to me. Only the Porcelain tone lifted my complexion in any way, but the dull, powdered finish spoilt it.

                      *** Application ***

                      The full size product comes in a sifter jar (I bought one of those for both the Lily Lolo Cover Up and Blusher Pots) and obviously, before unscrewing the lid, you just briefly upend the jar, turn it back the right way then unscrew the lid and use the deposited product in the lid.

                      If you buy the samples jars, sprinkle a small amount of powder onto a saucer.

                      Next, pick up powder with brush (use either one of the specially designed Kabuki brushes or any small, short bristled brush) swirl the brush into the saucer/lid to ensure an even covering over the surface of the brush. Don't load too much onto the brush at once.

                      Tap-tap-tap the base of the brush on a flat surface to settle the powder into the bristles, this is to prevent you from applying too much powder and getting a dry or chalky look but as I've already pointed out, however carefully I applied the product the finish was still too dull for me.

                      Apply starting at neck/jaw line and applying some pressure work in circles or long strokes towards the nose.

                      You may also use a velour sponge for fuller coverage: press, roll or use short strokes to apply the foundation. Apparently, you may also use a clean velour sponge to smooth over your skin after applying mineral powder with a brush. Quote: 'This will remove any excess and 'minimise the look of pores'.

                      Minimise the look of pores? Er, I don't think so! I didn't know I had enlarged pores until I stroked on this foundation. My chin looked like the surface of the moon!

                      So, on this occasion, sorry Lily Lolo but it's a big thumbs down from me for the mineral foundation. I loved the Cover Up and the Blusher and also the eye shadows (yet to be reviewed) but in future, I will stick to my L'Oreal liquid foundation to use beneath my Lily Lolo Cover Up.
                      For my rating, I had entered the quality of the product as 'Good' - it is a good quality product but just not for me.

                      Ingredients:
                      Contains: Mica (light reflecting to minimise fine lines), Titanium Dioxide (provides a natural sunscreen), Zinc Oxide, Iron Oxides, Ultramarine Blue.

                      *** Price ***

                      Samples sizes of Mineral foundation (1-1.5g in a 5g jar) = 99p
                      Full sized (10g in a 30ml sifter jar) = £12
                      P&P = UK Orders weighing up to 50g = £1 (although I have only ever paid
                      85p at the checkout for both sample and full sized products)

                      ***Accepted methods of payment***

                      Paypal or Credit Card.

                      ***Delivery***

                      I have ordered both sample and full sized products on three occasions and have only ever waited 2 days for delivery - which includes during the recent postal strike!

                      Excellent.

                      Full details of all products and p&p details can be found on the web site (www.lilylolo.co.uk) The website also includes some very good tips and techniques pages for all the products.

                      *** Finally ***

                      As mentioned in my other Lily Lolo reviews, I have picked three of the FAQs from the Lily Lolo website which might answer your immediate queries:

                      Are your products allergy-free?

                      Whilst our products are as simple as possible in formulation and made from the gentlest ingredients we can find no one product (or ingredient) is guaranteed to be allergy-free for everyone.

                      Do your products contain parabens?

                      No, none of the Lily Lolo range of cosmetics contains parabens, fragrances or fillers.

                      What is your animal testing policy?

                      We do not test any of our products or ingredients on animals or ask anyone to do so on our behalf. Our products are made from ingredients which have been used for cosmetic purposes for many years and are already considered to be safe. All our formulations have been assessed and conform to European Cosmetic Regulations.

                      Thanks for reading!

                      © Louise Saunders - 2007

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                      • More +
                        19.10.2007 15:39
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                        Best concealer I've ever used to date

                        ***Who are Lily Lolo and what exactly are Mineral cosmetics in general?***

                        Lily Lolo are an internet based company selling only mineral cosmetics including brushes and sponges etc. Their range includes mineral foundations, cover ups, blushers and bronzers, eye colours and lip and nail
                        colours.Their web address is: www.lilylolo.co.uk

                        Mineral cosmetics are pure crushed minerals containing no harsh chemicals, dyes or fillers, are gentle on the skin and contain zinc oxides which have healing properties - perfect, they say, for those who suffer breakouts or have sensitive skin.

                        My review concerns the Lily Lolo Cover up, which is described as a concealer for hard to cover areas such as spots and blemishes.I decided to try it because, now in my late fifties, I have developed small, broken capillaries over my cheeks which one would usually associate with over-indulgence in gin but as I don't drink I can only assume it comes with the territory after exposing my English Rose complexion to a harsh and unforgiving Scottish climate for the past thirty years, despite daily smotherings of moisturiser and foundation. Oh yes, and age! Trying to cover up those little red veins with an extra layer of foundation just wasn't working. I've tried other specialist cover ups like Dermablend but found them to be far too thick and heavy.

                        Because Lily Lolo offer very reasonably priced samples I reckoned that at 99p for a quarter teaspoon sample packed in a little Ziploc bag (which is enough for a good few days experimentation) then I wouldn't break the bank if the product didn't work.

                        ***What Lily Lolo says about Cover Up***

                        Conceals blemishes and gently smoothes away imperfections. More densely pigmented than the Lily Lolo foundation formula for maximum coverage.

                        ***Well, does the hype live up to the claims?***

                        Absolutely, yes. I was extremely pleased with the results I achieved.

                        (1) Using the Cover Up on clean, moisturised skin: The result I achieved was a natural cover over the offending areas on my cheeks. Building up the thin layers (two or three) gradually, I watched as the red capillaries faded to almost nothing.

                        (2) Using the Cover Up on moisturised skin and a thin layer of my usual liquid foundation:

                        Even better. Because of my age, my complexion needs a helping hand in the brightening department. For this, I use one of the liquid foundations by L'Oreal. (I did try the mineral foundation) but didn't like the result.

                        *** How to apply ***

                        Once I've applied my liquid foundation and allowed it to settle for a minute, I then apply the Lily Lolo Cover Up (in the shade Nude Cover Up) over my cheeks and chin area.
                        Using my cheapo Kabuki brush (details later) or a short bristled brush which came with a blusher compact, I apply a couple of thin layers.

                        Tip a small amount of powder into a clean saucer, pick up powder with brush, swirl the brush into the saucer to ensure an even covering over the surface of the brush. Don't load too much onto the brush at once; a little goes a long way.

                        Gently tap the base of the brush on a flat surface to settle the powder into the bristles, this will prevent you from applying too much powder and getting a dry or chalky look.

                        Apply using small circles over the area which needs cover. In my case, I start at the side of my nose and gently apply the powder in small circles up to my temples.

                        This method of application takes a little getting used to, especially if you have ever applied face powder using a large brush. The method of that application and the method of applying the mineral powder is different but, once you know how, the results are excellent.

                        You could also use a Kabuki brush. These have been developed specially for the application of mineral foundation products. They are priced at £14 from Lily Lolo but are available elsewhere at various prices. I do have one, but it only cost me 99p as a special deal elsewhere. It's not of the highest quality but it's good enough for my use. I begrudge spending out more for a brush than the product it's designed for.

                        *** What are the results/how does the product compare to traditional concealers?***

                        I might mention here that in the Lily Lolo product description for the Cover Up, it says: "All the concealers can be mixed with foundations for those who require "very heavy coverage all over". I really don't think that the coverage I achieved when applying the Cover Up over my liquid foundation resulted in 'very heavy' coverage.

                        Compared with other traditional concealers I've used, providing you take care and apply the product lightly, Lily Lolo Cover Up gives excellent results.

                        I don't suffer from acne or other blemishes so I can't report on the coverage of that type of blemish, but certainly, the product will 'wipe away' the redness.

                        One thing I must say is that the product does give a matte finish, which I don't like. That tends to look very dull. So, to finish off my makeup, I use the Lily Lolo Blush (also reviewed) and a light sweep of my usual Body Shop Buff balls and this adds a slight sheen over the cheek and chin areas.

                        *** Staying power ***

                        I find that the Cover Up lasts all through the day and still appears fresh in the evening.

                        ***The shades available***

                        Light: Blonde Cover Up A matte light concealer suitable for pale skin tones. Can be mixed with the paler toned foundations.

                        Light/Medium: Nude Cover Up A matte light-medium coloured concealer. Can also be mixed with light-medium toned foundation .

                        Medium: Caramel Cover Up: A matte medium coloured concealer. Can also be mixed with medium and tan shades of foundation.

                        ***Ingredients***

                        The Cover Up products contain: Kaolin Clay, Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide, Iron Oxides.

                        *** Price ***
                        Samples sizes of Cover Up = 99p
                        Full sized (4.5g in a 20ml sifter jar) = £7

                        P&P =UK Orders weighing up to 50g = £1 (although I have only ever paid 85p at the checkout for both sample and full sized products)

                        Full details of products and p&p details can be found on the web site (www.lilylolo.co.uk)

                        *** Finally ***

                        As mentioned in my other Lily Lolo reviews, I have picked three of the FAQs from the Lily Lolo website which might answer your immediate queries:

                        Are your products allergy-free?

                        Whilst our products are as simple as possible in formulation and made from the gentlest ingredients we can find no one product (or ingredient) is guaranteed to be allergy-free for everyone.

                        Do your products contain parabens?

                        No, none of the Lily Lolo range of cosmetics contains parabens, fragrances or fillers.

                        What is your animal testing policy?

                        We do not test any of our products or ingredients on animals or ask anyone to do so on our behalf. Our products are made from ingredients which have been used for cosmetic purposes for many years and are already considered to be safe. All our formulations have been assessed and conform to European Cosmetic Regulations.

                        Thanks for reading!

                        © Louise Saunders - 2007

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                        • More +
                          19.10.2007 12:56
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                          Vibrant shades containing no harsh chemicals

                          *** Who is Lily Lolo ?***

                          Lily Lolo are an internet-based company (found at www.lilylolo.co.uk) selling only mineral cosmetics including brushes and sponges etc. Their range includes mineral
                          foundations, cover ups, blushers and bronzers, eye colours and lip and nail colours.

                          The site is simple to navigate and a pleasure to use and
                          includes pages of application tips, beautiful colour photos, and an in-depth FAQ page.

                          *** What are Mineral Cosmetics? ***

                          Mineral cosmetics are made from pure crushed minerals and contain no harsh chemicals, dyes or fillers.

                          I have reviewed their Mineral Foundation, Cover Up and Blush Pots and today, I am reviewing their Mineral Eye Colours.

                          *** Product Description ***

                          So, what's the difference between Lily Lolo eye colours as against traditional eye shadow?
                          Quote: 'Easy blend, multi-use pure mineral powders. Our vibrant colours make dramatic crease-free eye shadows but are versatile enough to use on lips, cheeks and nails…'

                          *** My Opinion ***

                          Lovely jubbly! I am very impressed with the sample colours I ordered from Lily Lolo (29p each Ziploc baggy, containing approximately 1/8th of a teaspoon of product - ample for many applications and experimentation).

                          The colours are indeed 'vibrant', and you only need a little on your brush to get an excellent result. As the marketing blurb says on the site, these Mineral Colours do give your eyes an extra 'pop'.

                          There are 33 available colours from the following shades:

                          Neutral
                          Browns
                          Pinks/Violets
                          Greens/Blues

                          Some have a higher sparkly content than others so with the eyes of a woman in her late '50s, I had to be very careful in my own choice. Some of the vibrant colours available looked gorgeous in the photographs but I daren't go near them with a barge pole! These colours had names like Smoky Brown, Choc Fudge Cake, Ripe Plum or Four Leaf Clover. But all of those contained a higher degree of shimmer than I could get away with (shimmer draws attention to wrinkles and fine lines) but for the younger woman, they'd be great fun to wear!

                          The colours I chose to sample were Mudpie, Brown Sugar, Soft Brown, Mystery (creamy, matt grey/green), Parma Violet and Witchypoo (which is black and makes a fab, dramatic eyeliner)

                          Mudpie is a medium-coffee brown colour in the sample packet but when applied to the socket area becomes a deeper brown and also makes a lovely, smokey eyeliner.

                          I loved all the colours I ordered and as well as Mudpie, I liked the Parma Violet colour very much - it looks a dense, medium lilac in the packet but when brushed onto the lid it is a lighter, very pretty lilac which I would wear for more dressy-up occasions.

                          For normal, everyday wear, I apply either the Soft Brown or Brown Sugar to the lid and use Mudpie in the socket to add definition. I discovered that the Witchypoo black colour was far too harsh for my eyes (an age thing again) but I would have worn it 20 years ago!

                          The difference between the mineral colours and traditional eyeshadows is that the minerals are soft in texture, gliding onto the skin smoothly. The product has a silky feel and the colours are, indeed, more vibrant.

                          *** How to apply ***

                          Gently dip your brush into the colour, tap the excess back into the container (or a saucer if you are using one of the sample Ziploc bags), brush the back of the hand first just to check you haven't loaded too much product and apply to your eyes as usual. There is usually enough on the brush to complete both eyes before adding more, if necessary.

                          Lily Lolo do sell their own range of cosmetic brushes but you don't need any specialist brushes other than your usual eyeshadow brushes.

                          *** The difference ***

                          I have never, in almost 45 years, gone out without my 'eyes' on and wouldn't dare stop to consider how much I've spent on eye makeup in that time!! So, I think I speak with some experience about the difference between traditional eyeshadows and this new, mineral product.

                          However, it has to be said that traditional powder shadows (the only kind I ever wear as I do find crème shadows shift position and crease in skin folds) are very handy to pop into a makeup bag when on the move.

                          Although the mineral colours come in sifter pots - there's a plastic top with tiny holes in it which is directly over the top of the powders - I would imagine you'd have to be very careful how you opened the pot up if it had spent any time being dragged from pillar to post in your handbag! But as I've never actually had to put a pot of mineral eyeshadow to the 'moving test', I can't say one way or the other if they are particularly messy.

                          *** Will I switch to the Mineral Colours? ***

                          I already have. After using the samples, I went ahead and ordered the full sizes of Mudpie and Soft Brown. I love all the colours I sampled but until I finish up the multiple choices of traditional eyeshadows already in my makeup drawer, I am trying to be good and not spend any more just yet. A full sized sifter pot of any of the Mineral Colours costs £5.00.

                          *** Worth the money? ***

                          I think so, yes. One pot of colour will last a very long time and the results are worth the money. Returning to traditional shadows for a moment, I have seen me scraping the top of a block of powder shadow to try and get a denser colour on my brush. Now with my Mineral Colours, I won't have to do that.

                          *** Ingredients ***

                          Each colour contain different ingredients but generally speaking colours will contain all, or a mix of, Iron Oxide, Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide and in a few instances, Ferric Ferrocyanide.

                          *** Versatile ***

                          Like the Lily Lolo Blush Pots, a lot of the colours can also be used when mixed appropriately with lip gloss or a clear nail varnish, as lipstick or nail colour. For obvious reasons, the colours containing Ferric Ferrocyanide would not be suitable to mix with lip gloss. You would need to see individual product descriptions for suitability of colours for lips.

                          Although I have used my blush colour with lip balm to try it as a lipstick and the result was very good, the colours I chose in the eye colour range would not be suitable as lip colours - unless I was a Goth.

                          *** Price ***

                          Samples sizes of Mineral foundation ( 1/8th teaspoon in a Ziploc bag) = 29p
                          Full sized (1.5-4.5g of mineral colour in a 10ml jar) = £5
                          P&P = UK Orders weighing up to 50g = £1 (although I have only ever paid 85p at the checkout for both sample and full sized products)


                          Accepted methods of payment: Paypal or Credit Card.
                          Delivery: I have ordered both samples and full sized products on three occasions and have only ever waited 2 days for delivery - which includes during the recent postal strike! Excellent.

                          Full details of all products and p&p details can be found on the web site (www.lilylolo.co.uk) The website also includes some very good tips and techniques pages for all the products.

                          *** Finally ***

                          As mentioned in my other Lily Lolo reviews, I have picked three of the FAQs from the Lily Lolo website which might answer your immediate queries:

                          Are your products allergy-free?

                          Whilst our products are as simple as possible in formulation and made from the gentlest ingredients we can find no one product (or ingredient) is guaranteed to be allergy-free for everyone.

                          Do your products contain parabens?

                          No, none of the Lily Lolo range of cosmetics contains parabens, fragrances or fillers.

                          What is your animal testing policy?

                          We do not test any of our products or ingredients on animals or ask anyone to do so on our behalf. Our products are made from ingredients which have been used for cosmetic purposes for many years and are already considered to be safe. All our formulations have been assessed and conform to European Cosmetic Regulations.

                          Thanks for reading!

                          © Louise Saunders - 2007

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                          • More +
                            18.10.2007 16:15
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                            A cosy, feel-good read, perfect for a cold winter's evening.

                            Since I discovered Christina Jones earlier this year, I have gone on to read every single one of her books – including the last one (Heaven Sent) which is not due out in paperback until November, but I couldn’t wait so ordered the hardback edition from Amazon.

                            There’s a particular theme in all Ms Jones’ books, and that is village life. Actually, make that quirky village life with some eccentric and endearing characters who pop up time and again in each successive book. This doesn’t mean that you have to read the books in order because each story can be enjoyed as a stand-alone read but it does mean cries of “Oh, goody!” when you meet up with a favourite character from previous stories.

                            Hubble Bubble is set in the rural village of Hazy Hassocks (don’t you love the name?!) and is the tale of Mitzi Blessing, who at the age of 50-something and forced into early retirement from her job at a bank, has to take stock of her life and either dwindle into old age and become part of the invisible generation - or start over.

                            The synopsis for this book looked promising to me because for a start, the heroine is in the same age group and also I was made redundant 18 months ago and had to reconsider my options (not a lot!)

                            However, the direction that Mitzi’s life takes sounds a lot more exciting than my own (two part-time jobs and one of those in the Co-op). Firstly, she determines to join everything her village has to offer which, sadly, she discovers is precisely nothing. However, where there’s a will there’s a way, and soon Mitzi has stirred up the community to lift themselves out of their apathy and do something positive with their lives.

                            Secondly, Mitzi discovers her granny’s old herbal cookbook in the attic, full of old-fashioned recipes with enchanting names like Mischief Night Cake and Powers of Persuasion Pudding. Well, she has to give them a try, doesn’t she?

                            The startling effect that the Wishes Come True Pie has on her two daughters and their respective love lives sets the scene for further fun in the kitchen and well-meaning meddling all round. Life in Hazy Hassocks becomes very interesting indeed.

                            Ms Jones’ writing in general is pacey with a huge dollop of feel-good factor ensuring Hubble Bubble is an uplifting read from start to finish. I don’t know what genre in which to place this author’s books; it’s not really chick-lit; her characters range from five to eighty although, generally speaking, I suppose the main protagonists are in their late twenties-early thirties. However, with Mitzie in her fifties perhaps this could be classed as hen-lit? Whatever it is, I can’t recall being so taken with an author’s style of writing for a long time.

                            I don’t normally do this in book reviews and please look away now if you dislike reading snippets from within a book before you buy it, but I want to illustrate a tiny flavour of what I find appealing about Christina Jones’ trademark style of writing. This example will give you an idea of her characters and shows their special odd-ball quirkiness – and it doesn’t include any spoilers for the story.

                            Mitzie has to visit her neighbours, eccentric octagenerians, Lavender and Lobelia, one evening after she has been enjoying a few drinks with her daughters and probably looks a little dishevelled. Lav and Lob, always concerned about Mitzie’s welfare and more so after her enforced retirement from the bank, results in the following scene:

                            Mitzie has knocked on their door.

                            ….‘Eventually, Lavender, wearing a moth-eaten dressing gown and Celtic football socks, pulled the door open and peered across the security chain. ‘Oh, hello, Mitzi. Are you all right? Your hair looks funny and your face is all shiny. You’re not ill, dear, are you? Ah!’ Lavender’s eyes widened pleasurably. ‘You’re letting yourself go dear, aren’t you? You’ve spent one too many lonely nights with the gin bottle and have reached the cry-for-help stage. We knew it would happen before long. Come along in, dear, Lobelia and I will cheer you up…..’

                            Delicious! I could just hug her writing to death!

                            Hooked from page one, I tried to pace myself so I wouldn’t finish the book too soon but finished it in two days). It has magic, enchantment and romance. All the characters are loveable and memorable. Beautifully written with some wry observations of the very real worries and uncertainties that people face when faced with a world full of depressing nothingness after full and useful lives.

                            The long, dark and miserable winter days are almost upon us. You could do worse than get hooked on Christina Jones’ novels – and Hubble Bubble, in particular, will bring some warmth back into your life.

                            Thank you for reading!


                            Available at £5.49 Amazon ( or from 0.01p at Amazon’s Marketplace)

                            307 pages

                            ISBN: 0-7499-3497-2



                            © Louise Saunders – 2007

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                            • Lily Lolo Blush Pots / Make Up / 29 Readings / 23 Ratings
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                              18.10.2007 13:24
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                              A natural-looking blush with a slight shimmer, perfect for mature complexions

                              LILY LOLO BLUSH POTS

                              Why wear blusher? Good question, particularly if you are a young woman still enjoying the first flush of youth. But chasing the natural bloom of youth is the reason why blushers were devised in the first place. Go ask the
                              Egyptians.

                              Blushers, when applied correctly, will give a healthy glow. I know, because I've tried most of them. I prefer powder blushers to crème blushers because I can apply them
                              more easily. However, as I get older I have noticed my complexion becoming more demanding of colour. The answer was not to apply yet another layer of the pink stuff: the Aunt Sally look made famous by Una Stubbs in Worzel Gummidge was not what I was after. The solution had to be in the colour I chose in the first place and also the product's texture.

                              The prettiest, most natural 'look' is that which a woman gets when she's been for a brisk walk in the cold, fresh air and, coming indoors, her complexion looks sheer with a pretty pink tinge on the cheeks. All of the blushers I'd used to date were matt in texture and had started to look 'flat' on my skin. Was there a product which would pep up my complexion without giving me a Farmer Brown appearance?

                              Let me introduce you to a fabulous find: Mineral Blush Pots by Lily Lolo.

                              Lily Lolo is an internet-based company which I discovered when I was researching for mineral cosmetics in general, and the foundations in particular, but they seemed awfully expensive for something I may not like. However, I discovered that Lily Lolo sells sample sizes of foundation for 0.99p (5g jar) and for 0.49p you get the sample size of blusher (1/4 teaspoon in a Ziploc bag which, considering the tiny amount you need for the job, is enough for quite a few applications).

                              The product is described as 'Soft crushed minerals with a sheer formula that's easy to blend. Perfect for the apples of your cheeks but delicious on your eyes and nails too!'
                              I tried that and mixed the blusher with my lip balm - just shave off a little with a sharp knife and soften the balm in the palm of your hand then add a tiny shake of blusher to mix into a pretty lipstick. Use a lip brush to apply. I must assume that the claim that you could add the blusher to your eyes must apply to the other colours like Cocoa Berry or Juicy Peach; I shouldn't think pink applied to the eyelids would do anything other than suggest I had the flu although, if I was trying to throw a sickie….

                              The blush colour I chose was Rosebud, which is from the 'Cool' shade chart. The other ranges were Neutral and Warm. Aside from the good quality photograph of the product, descriptive words played a part in my final selection and 'A shimmering perfect pink blush for a natural flush cheeked look' had the sample sized product at .49p in my checkout bag in a keystroke.

                              How to apply: I use a small brush which came with the previous purchase of another brand of blusher. I would just say here that after my purchase of the sample of blusher I went straight ahead and ordered the full size which comes in a 20ml sifter jar so it's easier to control the amount of product I get on the brush. But if you buy the sample Ziploc bag first, sprinkle a small amount of powder onto a saucer (or, in the blusher jar lid if you order the full size product). Pick up powder with brush, swirl the brush into the lid to ensure an even covering over the surface of the brush. Don't load too much onto the brush at once, a little goes a long way

                              Tap-tap-tap the base of the brush on a flat surface to settle the powder into the bristles, this will prevent you from applying too much product. Apply thinly and gently over the apples of your cheeks. If you need to add more, do so - just don't be heavy handed in the first instance.

                              You may have heard of the Kabuki brushes which are recommended for the application of mineral foundation. Lily Lolo themselves say that any good brush can be used and certainly, when you are at the stage of just sampling the products, there is absolutely no need to splash out on unnecessary brushes. However, they recommend the use of a Kabuki brush, particularly for the mineral foundation, because they make for the smoothest application. The densely packed bristles give medium to full coverage.

                              I do have a Kabuki brush I bought from ebay simply because it was 'free' with samples of another brand of mineral foundation and I do use it to apply my Lily Lolo mineral foundation and this gives a better finish than when I was using a medium-sized face powder brush.

                              Results: I was delighted with the first application of my Rosebud blusher. It gives natural-looking pink cheeks and the faint shimmer makes for a lovely, dewy finish.

                              The blush pots can be found in the following shades:

                              NEUTRAL:
                              Cocoa Berry: Reddish brown with a very soft shimmer
                              Rosy Apple: Pink-Brown shimmery blush
                              Real Rouge: A shimmery red rouge for that flushed cheek look

                              COOL:
                              Doll Face: A pretty, sparkly candy pink for fairer skin tones
                              Cupcake: A creamy matte neutral pink
                              Rosebud: A shimmering perfect pink blush for a natural flush cheeked look
                              Very Berry: A shimmery plum toned blush (this is not suitable for use on lips)

                              WARM:
                              Sweet Cheeks: A sparkly peach for the slightest hint of cheek colour
                              Cheeky Cheeky: A pretty matte pale peach for the most subtle cheek colour
                              Juicy Peach: A delicious creamy matte peach
                              Tiger Lily: A deep creamy matt/peach

                              Depending on the colour chosen, the blushers contain mostly mica and iron oxides. Some also contain titanium oxides. The colour Very Berry also contains Ferric Ferracyanide which makes it unsuitable for application on the lips - for obvious reasons.

                              OTHER STUFF:

                              The website is delightful to navigate, the photographs of the products are clear and enticing and there's lots of advice and tips on how to get the best from the different products.

                              Payment: You can pay via credit card or PayPal.

                              Where's my stuff? Receipt of orders is fast. I've ordered twice and on both occasions I received my products within 2 days.

                              Price: A sample of blusher costs 49p and the full size (20ml sifter jar) costs £8 to buy which includes VAT and shipping. This means that you are charged 85p whether you buy samples or the full size product.

                              The shipping costs for the UK are marked as £1.00 for up to Orders weighing up to 50g but I have only ever paid 85p.

                              Where to find Lily Lolo: Go to www.lilylolo.co.uk

                              Finally: Answers to your questions can be found on the website, but here are three which I thought you might like answered now:

                              Are your products allergy-free?

                              Whilst our products are as simple as possible in formulation and made from the gentlest ingredients we can find no one product (or ingredient) is guaranteed to be allergy-free for everyone.

                              Do your products contain parabens?

                              No, none of the Lily Lolo range of cosmetics contains parabens, fragrances or fillers.

                              What is your animal testing policy?

                              We do not test any of our products or ingredients on animals or ask anyone to do so on our behalf. Our products are made from ingredients which have been used for cosmetic purposes for many years and are already considered to be safe. All our formulations have been assessed and conform to European Cosmetic Regulations.

                              Thanks for reading!


                              © Louise Saunders 2007

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                              • More +
                                11.09.2007 21:28
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                                Get out of the rat race and reclaim your sanity in beautiful surroundings

                                "'The Misty Isle' as the Isle of Skye is affectionately known (the Gaelic name is Eilean a' Cheo – pronounced Ellen a Kee-ow) is the largest of the Inner Hebridean Islands. The island lies about a mile off the north-west of Scotland.

                                Grab yourself a map, and if you live in the south of England, move your finger up the map following the coastline, up through the North of England, through the Scottish borders, up, up, up…. Wait! Stop! See, just to the left at the very edge of the coastline in the Highlands of Scotland you will see a tiny place called Kyle of Lochalsh. This is where, up until 1995, you would catch the ferry to the Isle of Skye. Then they built a bridge and tourism dropped dramatically because the tolls were very, very expensive at £5.70 each way. In 2005, the tolls were finally abolished and since then the island has enjoyed a return of the traveller seeking peace and tranquillity. Walkers, hikers, climbers, artists, sailers, musicians, photographers, writers…. the list is endless of the type of person this beautiful place beckons.

                                If you'd like to visit:

                                You can travel by road or rail. You can even fly, landing at Inverness Airport… but then you'd still have to hop on a train or hire a car to get you to either the Kyle of Lochalsh where the train stops or, if you want to go the very scenic a long way round, you could go via Fort William-Mallaig-Skye.

                                Once you arrive on the island, be aware that there is very little public transport. The main town, Portree, can be accessed once a day by bus. The school bus in term time, and then a bus slightly later at other times. The journey takes about 1 hour.. Therefore, should you find yourself in the South of the island (Kyleakin), you will be 33 miles away from Portree. That may not sound like a long way under normal circumstances, but these are 33 'Skye Miles'. They are very different as they encompass a journey up and down mountainous regions and round bends so curvaceous you'd think you were going round in a circle. The bus driver must circumnavigate sheep, cyclists and deer.

                                Take a tip from me. If you want to see the Isle of Skye, be prepared to stay a fortnight, try and take your own car or at least hire one when you get there. If you are young and fit, you could hire a bike but the weather can change seasons many times in one day, so if you insist on pumping your little legs up steep hills for hours on end, at least take waterproofs and suntan lotion.

                                Fifty miles long by 25 miles wide at its widest point, decreasing to just 7 miles wide at its narrowest point creating 350 miles of spectacular and stunning coastline, this is the place to come if you are a keen walker, photographer or artist. The light on the island is other-worldly and marvellous for taking pictures. If it isn't raining. How often does it rain? The clue is in that 'affectionate' handle 'The Misty' isle. If you want to get the best from the area, do plan on staying at least a week. That way, even if the weather is bad, you may just get a couple of days where the sun shines and you get to appreciate the famous views.

                                However you decide to travel, you will find a wealth of information on the internet advising you on the best routes and what you will see along the way. The Highlands of Scotland are breathtakingly beautiful and careful planning will make your trip all the more worthwhile.

                                Things to see:

                                There are so many things to see on the island, it would be a very long list indeed if I listed them all. But the island, of course, is a magnet for climbers and so, at the very least, The Cuillins (the Cuillin Peaks) have to get a mention.

                                But for the more sedate tourist, there are many arts and craft outlets for you to see. For unusual and beautiful designs in clothing, jewellery and pottery, try Ragamaffin on Armadale Pier (if you happen to go to Skye via Mallaig, the ferry will deposit you at Armadale Pier and you will find Ragamuffin on your left). Stay awhile in Armadale, for there is much else to see.

                                Having spent some pennies in Ragamuffin, walk a little further on and for the plant boffins amongst you, there's the Rhubha Phoil Permaculture Centre for forest gardens and woodland walks.

                                Before you leave the area of the Pier, you should also try and grab a bite to eat at the tiniest café in the world! Known as The Pasta Shed, this little place has only four tables! They also do take-a-ways. The food is delicious (awards galore adorn the walls) and the staff friendly and helpful.

                                There are other little outlets around the Pier, so do try and see them all. You can pick up some beautiful, local, hand crafted goods.

                                A gentle 10 minute stroll will take you to the famous Clan Donald Centre with its beautiful gardens and Visitors Centre.

                                Dunvegan Castle - In the northwest corner of the island is Dunvegan castle, this is the ancient stronghold of the McLeod Clan and has been for the last 800 years, today this is still their family home.

                                The Isle of Skye Toy Museum in Glendale. Only recently re-opened after being gutted by fire 3 years ago, this museum is highly recommended for a visit. It's a hands-on museum, where the owners Pat and Terry Wilding positively encourage children (and adults!) to play with those toys and dolls which are not actually in glass cases. There are very few items in glass cases. Take a visit to their website: www.toy-museum.co.uk and take a virtual tour.

                                Portree, the island's pretty little harbour-side town, has many delightful little shops and is probably one of the few places left in the UK that has not been spoiled by the gobbling mouth of Tesco supermarket (although I hear rumours we might be getting an Aldi or Lidl). In Portree, you can visit the An Tuireann Arts Centre, who run exciting exhibitions of contemporary visual art, most particularly promoting local talent. There is a craft gallery which stocks a wide range of unique gifts and art and poetry books and cards. They also have a licensed café serving excellent lunches and the best coffee and home baking on Skye.

                                There are houses on the Harbour front prettily painted in shades of pink, white, blue or cream blue. Most of these houses, though, are bed and breakfast establishments, and there's also a dental surgery and a couple of restaurant-come-pubs. On the harbour, you can watch the fishing boats landing their daily catch.

                                Portree also has a library, which is worth a visit if you want to learn a little of the local history and culture. However, the library is not open every day but a timetable can be found on the door.

                                The Aros Heritage centre is situated just outside Portree and here you can browse the rather elegant shop for gifts and books and enjoy a cup of tea and home baking in the large café. There is also a bar. When there last, we sat for so long chatting and admiring the view that we didn't notice that the café was closing (it was after 5pm on a Sunday) but the proprietors didn't try and chivvy us up at all. Friendly and courteous is putting it mildly!

                                Kylerhea Otter Haven – Situated in the south-west of the island, and approached down a scary, hairy one-track road. I'd advise you to keep your eyes closed, but in a car that wouldn't be sensible and by bicycle it would be positively suicidal. Once you get to the end of that steep decent you will find a wooden observation hide located where you can watch otters in their natural habitat. Keep very, very quiet and you might get lucky. If you don't, you could also try:

                                Eilean Ban (White Island), Kyleakin: Situated between Kyleakin and Kyle of Lochalsh on the mainland. This is a six-acre nature haven nestling below the Skye road bridge which spans the island. There is a lighthouse on Eilean Ban which was originally home just to the lighthouse keepers and their families, and later it later became the residence of the author and naturalist, Gavin Maxwell. Eilean Ban has nature trails (suitable for wheelchair users), which wind around the island leading to different points of interest, including a viewing platform and sensory garden. You can also take a guided visit which includes the Maxwell museum, complete with original artefacts.

                                Since the advent of the Skye Bridge, the village of Kyleakin (pronounced Kyle Ah Kin), has become very quiet, since bridge traffic now tends to head straight up the island, bypassing Kyleakin altogether. But take the time to visit this little village and see the 10th century ruins of the fortress Castle Moil. There are some nice pubs, a coffee bar, and hotels and places of backpackers to rest their weary heads. There is a Youth Hostel but that, I believe, is to finally close its doors in November. For curry lovers, the recently opened Taste of India (previously the Crofters’ Kitchen) is getting some excellent reviews.

                                An important note on the Skye Bridge: the view from the bridge is fantastic - particularly at sunset. But please be aware that there is a continuous white line on both sides of the bridge's road which means that traffic must not stop there. It is infuriating for us locals when using the bridge to come across cars parked half on and half off the pavement causing a back-log of traffic which can't get past and if you're unfortunate enough to be a pedestrian (and many do walk the bridge, daily) then we have to step into the road of oncoming traffic. There is a large, free car park in Kyleakin which can be used. Park the car there then walk back to the bridge for your sightseeing.

                                General:

                                Skye is a mostly English-speaking island these days, but there are a lot of Gaelic speakers, some native speakers and others having decided to learn the language. All road signs are displayed in both Gaelic and English.

                                Eating and sleeping:

                                There are plenty of places to stay. Only in the summer months is it advisable to book in advance if you are particular about your accommodation. The prices range from a modest £15 per person per night including a full cooked breakfast, to a more princely sum of anything up to over £100 if you decide to treat yourself and stay in one of the more exotic hotels.

                                Depending on the time of year you visit, there is little difficulty in finding somewhere to eat. Though when I say that, I am assuming that you wouldn't expect there to be an over abundance of eateries in the middle of nowhere. Some places can be a little expensive so do your homework first. Over the years, there has been an upsurge of fish and chip shops (one in every village – almost) and even one or two curry take-a-ways. Also be aware that most places stop serving at 9pm, so if you've arrived late in the evening, there are few places where you can get a decent meal after this time. However, progress has marched on and the local Co-op supermarkets in Portree, Broadford and Kyle of Lochalsh, are now open until 10pm Monday-Saturday and 6pm on Sundays (5pm in winter) so you'll at least have somewhere you can buy something to make a sandwich if you're desperate.

                                If there is one thing which spoils the Isle of Skye (and the Highlands in general), it's the midgies. The dreaded midge which, if legend is true (and I can believe it), has forced all potential invaders back since the beginning of time. The little black insect, no bigger than a tea leaf, doesn't fly alone. It flies in packs of millions, hunting for fresh blood. People have invented midgie machines to repel them (and to a certain extent I understand this has been quite successful), but generally, go armed with lots of insect repellent – citronella-based being the most effective – and if you are particularly prone to being bitten, beware of still evenings, most especially after it's been raining and it's warm….. because believe me, those little blighters are waiting in the heather to get you.

                                Other than that, the island is a magical, marvellous place you must visit at least once in your life."

                                Visit www.skye.co.uk

                                And http://www.isleofskye.net/ (which is an excellent site for more detailed information on accommodation available, things to do and transport etc.

                                © Louise Saunders

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                                • Maybelline Define A Lash / Make Up / 43 Readings / 39 Ratings
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                                  26.07.2007 17:53
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                                  Gives natural-looking lashes without clumps of excess mascara

                                  Like a Soho bondage cellar, this product promises sensuously long lashes.

                                  I don’t usually make impulse purchases if I can help it, but I was standing at the checkout in Superdrug a couple of days ago and right slap bang by the till was a display of Maybelline Define-A-Lash Mascara. It was either perfect product placement or the lurid, lime-green barrel of the mascara, which caught my attention. Whichever, I needed a new one, the mascara was on special offer (reduced by £2), I knew and trusted Maybelline so paid up my £5.49 and tried it the next day.

                                  The first thing I noticed when I withdrew the wand from the barrel was that the brush itself wasn’t thick with product. I can see quite clearly the green fronds of the brush, (which appears to be some kind of elasticised plastic rather than bristle), and the actual amount of product on the brush was quite sparse. This is good because the last mascara I bought had the brush loaded with product – so much so that I had to wipe half of it away before I could apply it. Wasteful, and the result was still clumpy lashes.

                                  The product has a ‘built-in clump remover’. This must be a special narrowing of the barrel or some kind of scraper, which cleans the brush bristles as it is withdrawn from the barrel. Whatever the secret, it certainly works and the result is a nice, clean-looking brush with minimum product adhering to it.

                                  The wand is lightweight and the brush is bendy and this makes it very easy to apply the product. Maybelline boast that the unique shaped-to-the-lash brush is ultra flexible, designed to reach and accentuate each and every lash.

                                  The result:

                                  The lightweight forumula and unique built-in clump remover meant – just as Maybelline promises – zero clumps on the brush meaning zero clumps on the lashes. For this particular test, I used the product as a daytime cosmetic i.e. wanting the minimum of fuss. The result was natural-looking lashes enhanced by clumpless colour. They weren’t ‘sweeping’ as some mascara-manufacturers lay claim to with certain magnificently-priced mascaras and which I’ve never found actually do give me the Betty Boop eyes posed by the models on the packaging. But my lashes were nicely separated and looked longer.

                                  The mascara stayed on all day. There are no fibres to irritate the eye, particularly mine as a contact lens wearer. Most importantly, the product didn’t smudge or migrate to my under-eye area: the ‘been poked in the eye with a stick’ look is not one I yearn for.

                                  I would highly recommend Maybelline Define-A-Lash Mascara – it has the most well-designed mascara brush I’ve tried because it looks good and is totally functional. The only thing I don’t like is the barrel’s lurid lime-green colour. I prefer my cosmetic packaging to show a little restraint but, hey, I suppose Miss Whiplash prefers a touch of the exotic.

                                  Price & Availability: Normally £7.49 but, as with most things these days, can be purchased cheaper through a little internet research and obviously, special offer at Superdrug for £5.49 as of date of review (July 2007)


                                  © Louise Saunders – 2007

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