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There's no getting around the fact that the dualit range of toasters is pricey. I really don't know how they justify charging the exceedingly high prices for their top models, those appliances really must toast spectacularly well. However, I felt that the cream dualit "lite" model was so beautiful that we could just about stretch to it. I was banking on the fact that it's a good name, so hoping that the toaster would last well too.
Really, I chose this toaster primarily for it's looks. I searched and searched, but couldn't find another cream toaster of a comparable or cheaper price that could hold a candle to this one in the looks department. Whilst I wouldn't judge a person on the basis if their outward appearance, a toaster has only two main functions: looking nice on my worktop and toasting. As I assumed that for fifty quid-ish the toaster would toast, looking good was the only criteria left to fulfil. Well folks, I'm sure you'll all be delighted to know that this toaster does indeed look beautiful next to my coffee maker and kettle. We've had it for a couple of years now, and it still looks as good as ever - I just wipe it over every now and again, it comes up looking like new. The only failing, looks wise, is that, whilst the cream toaster and kettle from the dualit range match perfectly, they are not a perfect match to the coffee maker, which is darker.
Now I've reassured you of the aesthetic pleasure my toaster brings to my life, I guess you'll want to know if it actually works. Well, it does. It toasts bread in the normal fashion. It does not impart any special degree of rarified toastiness, it just toasts it as per normal. Two slices at a time.
There are other functions, as follows:
* The slots accept a variety of thicknesses of bread, even a halved roll or hot cross bun. However, as with previous toasters we've had, the extra thick parts of anything being toasted do tend to get charred. Also, there is still a slight tendency for subsequent items to toast faster (therefore potentially getting burnt) than the first item toasted per session, as it were.
* Frozen bread button. Press this, and frozen slices are defrosted and toasted in one operation, without needing to adjust timings. It helps, but isn't foolproof.
* A rack (included with our model) fits on top of the toaster for warming through croissants. You press the croissant warming button, then just run the toaster as normal. We don't have croissants that often (I'd love to, but would be the size of a house...), but I really like this feature and find it works well. Our first rack did break, but this may have been down to being stuffed into a somewhat overfull drawer when not in use.
* Toasted sandwich making cages. You just make a sandwich (buttered on the outside is recommended), then put it in the cage and toast as per normal. This woke pretty well and makes a nice change to ordinary sandwiches. We found we needed to experiment with filling quantity and timings to get the insides properly warmed through before the outsides charred, but this is doable.
Overall, we are happy with our choice of toaster. My husband would have been happier to pay £3.99 for a plain white value toaster, but then we wouldn't have been able to warm croissants, would we ;-)
The only other thing is, the first one of these we bought did break and trip the power in the house. However, I think that was just a fault with that particular item, as John Lewis willingly replaced it with another one which works perfectly.
My newly formed book group picked this as one of our first reads last year. I was initially anxious about choosing something from the Richard and Judy recommended list. I didn't know what the standard would be like. In the past I've been frustrated at a previous (library run!) book group as I felt that some of the choices were pure "slush". Okay if that was what someone wanted to read on the beach, but not really worth a group of people giving up an evening to discuss.
The story captured my attention right from the start. You may feel that there isn't much more to be said about either of the World Wars, but this story manages to bring a fresh viewpoint.
This is a tale of young love, the class divide in both early twentieth century England and in the trenches, war, advances in medical science and how we know who we really are. How do we handle what life throws at us and how do we negotiate relationships with other humans, with all their flaws and character failings? It is a convincing and compelling read!
The two main protagonists are totally engaging from the outset, and there are several other good characters in the story as well. However, sizeable chunks of the tale are told from the perspective of the rich and beautiful but naive young wife of one of the officers, who has psychological scars from her emotionally abusive upbringing. I feel these sections are overworked, in the end they started to bore me. This resulted in me skipping chunks and then having to go back and reread so that I didn't lose the thread of the totally, totally gripping main storyline! Without giving too much away, I felt that the parallels the author was attempting to draw between this woman's war and that of the soldiers were laboured and unreal, and the book fails in this respect. Nevertheless, the characterisation in the rest of the book was really good and thought provoking.
In terms of the medical side of the story (I can't be too specific here without spoiling the plot), the author's research and attention to detail is impressive. She conveys much without it seeming in the least dry and textbook like - quite the opposite. I felt that I learnt a lot, and I'm so glad to have done so. This is part of our history and medical science today owes so much to advances made in these times of great suffering.
My copy of this book included lots of further information about the medical side of the story, and links for a fascinating website with more details and illustrations. It also included thought provoking questions which were obviously useful for our book group, but I think would also be helpful to an individual attempting to process what she or he had just read.
This is a story about war and love, and the way different people are affected by them. About life, death, and what living in the middle of these two states can be like. Parts are horrific. It is an (almost completely) riveting read!
From the blurb:
"Serum-infused formula for moisturized softness...Polished princess! Play up your natural gleam with this shine-enhancing formula and you'll beam from ear to ear...Live the GLEAM! Beauty is in the reflection of the beholder. Smooth on Dazzling Shine Light Reflecting Mask from root to tip for a deep-down, radiant shine."
I described the attractive design of the packaging of this shampoo/conditioner combo in some detail in my review of the "Dazzling Shine" shampoo. All I would add here is that the bottle is opaque lime green in this case, matching the product within. The bottle stands on it's cap, meaning that the conditioner is at the "right" end to be dispensed, whilst the cap itself is a snug fit to the bottle, meaning that it doesn't fill up with shower water - one of my personal bugbears.
(The photo shown here is actually of the matching shampoo)
THE FRAGRANCE AND APPEARANCE
The fragrance of this conditioner is similar to that of the matching shampoo. That is, it's slightly appley and slightly zesty. However, this is sweeter overall, with added creamy, powdery notes. I wouldn't say it smelt of coconut, however, it does having something reminiscent of coconut about it. As with the matching conditioner, the fragrance is quite mild, so would perhaps be less suitable for those who like the perfume of their hair products to linger.
This conditioner dispenses easily. It is a good texture, being neither thin and useless looking like some cheap conditioners nor so thick it has to be coaxed out of the bottle. It is light lime green in colour.
This product smooths onto and combs through the hair really easily - it feels lovely to use. The blurb claims that this conditioner is "serum infused", and I can believe it. Rinses out with no problems and doesn't irritate my scalp, which can get dry and itchy with some hair products.
This conditioner works really well. It lives up to the claims on the bottle, grandiose as those might be! As I've said, I use it with the matching conditioner and the duo leave my hair really shiny, soft, manageable and with plenty of body. Although I don't necessarily think of myself as a "polished princess" (hah!), I am happy with the way my hair looks and feels at the start of the day.
I bought this 400ml bottle in the 99p shop, but it's currently available from a range of high street retailers, priced from £1.85 in Superdrug to £3.79 in Boots or Waitrose.
So this shampoo promises to make your hair, er, shiny! Just read the blurb below, they go on about the shininess factor quite a bit!
From the blurb:
"Shine reflecting shampoo...with shimmery pearl and rose extracts...shampoo with botanical silk extract, cleans to help reveal natural shine...Seize your moment and break free from mundane hair with this cleaning formula that lets your beauty shine through...Blindingly beautiful shine...The sky's the limit for high shine. The shine enhancing formula of Dazzling Shine conditioner will add some flair to your hair."
The packaging is modern and attractive. The bottle is made of translucent, bright, apple green coloured plastic with an opaque green lid. It has the Herbal essences signature double printed back label too, so you see a pretty picture through the bottle when looking from the front. In this case, it's just a wave of green bubbles - I think they're meant to be pearls - but the overall effect is pleasing. The shape of the bottle is ingenious - the left hand side is almost but not quite straight, whilst the right hand side is curved in and out, in a sort of elongated yin and yang central line. The conditioner bottle is shaped in the same way, but with 180 degree rotational symmetry. In other words, the curves of the shampoo and conditioner bottles fit together, which looks kinda neat. The cap is also good, it just depresses at one side and the dispensing section pops up at the other. Again, I think this is well designed - although it did flummox my otherwise pretty bright daughter the first time she tried to use it!
THE FRAGRANCE AND APPEARANCE
This shampoo has an agreeable clear fragrance when you use it. I find it hard to describe - maybe a little bit appley and a little bit zesty. I like the fragrance, but it is only very slight, so if you like a strongly scented shampoo which leaves it's perfume on your hair, this would not be the product for you.
The clear, lime green shampoo is dispensed with no mess. It's just the right consistency for shampoo in my opinion, being neither so weak and runny that you have to try and catch it in your hands, nor so thick and jelly-like that you have to try to dilute it with shower water before you apply it to your hair. No, full marks from me on the don't-have-to-think-about-the-logistics-of-application front!
This lathers well but not too much. Pleasant to use with no stinging or irritation. Hair feels nice and clean after use.
So, the million dollar question...is my hair more shiny after using this shampoo? I have to admit, it is! I do use it with the matching conditioner so it maybe the combination of the two multiplies the effect, but I really like the way this shampoo and conditioner make my hair look and feel. As well as being shiny, I feel that my hair is thoroughly cleansed. It has plenty of body, and is also soft, silky and manageable. I often find my scalp gets increasingly itchy after using new products for a couple of weeks, but that has not been a problem with this product. Therefore I would say that it is suitable for fairly sensitive skin.
I don't often try different shampoos, as I tend to find they make my scalp itchy after a while, as I've mentioned above. However, I saw this 400ml bottle of shampoo in our local 99p store, so I thought that as it was made by a respected brand I would give it a try. If you are not lucky enough to find it at quite such a bargain price, it's currently available from a range of high street stores at a range of prices - from £1.85 in Superdrug to £3.79 in Waitrose or Boots. I would by this product again, even if I had to pay a bit more for it.
I first came across this perfume as a student nearly twenty years ago, but it has stood the test of time.
I had been searching for the right fragrance, one that was really "me". I'd never really liked any of the cheapie scents available to teenagers, and ran a mile from Impulse, which was then all the rage. The Body Shop did a range of fruity or flowery scents back then too. Some I liked well enough, but not enough to wear one. Plus, they smelt the same on every girl and I wanted to find my own signature scent.
I like sophisticated yet simple, pretty and pure...and unique. After many wanderings around department stores spritzing from different testers (but never too many at a time. I'd done my homework and knew it was important not to "confuse" my nose!), and almost giving up hope, I spied this in the window of a little chemists' shop. I felt a flicker of hope in my heart!
Sure enough, the fragrance matches the packaging: sophisticated yet simple, pretty, pure and unique. There are flowery top notes, yet it's not over-sweet. It has a warm undertone, but not "fuggy" and overpowering. There is a freshness cutting through, but it's not at all sharp. Perfect!
Back to my story...well, by the time I spotted my True Love in the perfume world, I'd also met the love of my life. How romantic, thought I, if my True Love bought me my first proper perfume, "True Love"! Yes, that is utterly over-sweet, sentimental, cloying etc. (unlike the fragrance). However, it is also fact <blushes>. Being a true gentleman and hopelessly smitten with yours truly, even if I do say it myself, rather than puking in a bucket, my darling boyfriend bought me a bottle of "True Love". I've been using it ever since, and although I have since added several other excellent perfumes to my repertoire I can honestly say that this is a real favourite and I don't think it has dated.
Please don't let my schmaltzy story put you off buying what is, in my opinion, a truly excellent all-rounder perfume! It can be happily be used for daytime but packs enough of a punch to work in the evening too. The icing on the cake is that, now it's been out for a while, the price has come right down and it's now available for less than £10 for the eau de toilette version if you wanted to experiment without committing to the full eau de parfum. An amazing bargain for a quality product from a well respected perfume house. Enjoy!
...from the blurb...
"An Uplifting daily facial scrub for clear, fresh and healthy looking skin everyday.
With powerful MicroClear(R) technology and exfoliating micro-beads the formula unclogs pores to clean deeply and help eliminate spots and blemishes.
The refreshing scrub gently purifies the skin without over-drying, while a wave of pink grapefruit uplifts the senses with a burst on invigorating freshness."
The packaging was what first caught my eye, this tube stands out from the others on the shelf. I love pink grapefruit, so I picked it up to read more. I liked the idea of exfoliating daily, as well as the product being more gentle to use, I don't have to worry about whether it's the right day to be using it or not. Decision made!
Once in use, the bottle, which resembles an extra large tube of toothpaste, stands on it's cap - something I always like as it means the contents are still easy to dispense when you get down to the last bit. The cap is a good, snug fit to the tube, too, meaning that it doesn't get filled with shower water, one of my pet hates.
Okay, it has to be said that flipping the cap of this tube doesn't release the same "burst of invigorating freshness" as cutting into a fresh grapefruit. That said, it does have an enjoyably tangy and fresh fragrance. Perhaps also a bit sweeter than the real thing, but not cloying.
Pretty clear pink with tiny white specks - those are the exfoliating bits! Thick enough not to spread too much, but it still runs out of the tube easily.
I only need a blob the size of my little fingernail to thoroughly cleanse my face. It spreads out evenly and massages in easily without excessive lathering. I use my fingertips to massage the product in small circles around my face. I also feel that the cleansing component gently lifts any excess oil from my skin.
My skin feels freshened and clear immediately after using, but not over dried. I do still get some small blackheads and the occasional spot or pimple though, so the promise that blemishes will be "eliminated" is not fulfilled.
This product is quite expensive at around £4.00 a tube. However, I think it's worth the money as it does do a good job (better than others I've tried) and it lasts for ages.
My husband and I are both coffee enthusiasts, although I'd say he's fussier than I am(!). He'd hankered after a coffee machine for a long time, but I'd felt our kitchen was just too tiny to sacrifice the work surface space. Cometh the extension, cometh the coffee machine!
After wanting a coffee machine for ages, we'd had plenty of time to do our research. We were pleased that they had started to come down in price and felt that the dualit espressivo was an affordable option. Also important to me was the look of the thing, I didn't want an ugly beast of a machine glowering at me from the corner of the kitchen, however well it made coffee. I liked the simple style and gentle cream colour of the espressivo. Another important factor in the decision was that the espressivo can use your choice of ground coffee, or coffee bags ("pods") if your prefer to avoid the messiness of grounds.
So, what's the coffee like? It's really, really good! Espressos or black coffees come out with a lovely thick crema, cappuccinos and hot chocolate are also delicious. It's important to make sure the water tank is filled above the minimum level, as if the water is too low the coffee has a slightly scorched taste. However, I expect that accidentally running the coffee maker with insufficient water is bad for it anyway, so maybe it's useful to have a reminder not to do it! If you do forget to check that there's enough water the machine runs very noisily, so that acts as another reminder to quickly top up.
Of course, a major factor in what comes out is what you put in. We really like the freedom to experiment with different varieies of coffee. There are three choices of filter: one cup loose grounds, two cup loose grounds (or one double espresso) or coffee pod. The machine comes with a handy portion scoop that also acts as a tamper.
We find the machine very easy to use. Flick on and allow a few seconds to warm up, run a little hot water through the empty filter, fill the filter with your choice of grounds and run the water through for a delicious cup of coffee. You run the coffee straight through to the cup or cups - standard mugs are fine but extra tall ones won't fit. There is an option to warm cups on the top plate first. The frothy milk function is easy to use too, just warm up, steam the milk (this takes a couple of minutes), wipe the nozzle and shoot a bit more steam through to flush it out. The whole process takes no longer than it would to watch someone do it for you in a coffee shop. Having said that, I don't often bother with frothy milk unless I have a friend over, I usually just zap half a cup of milk in the microwave then add the coffee on top.
We have really hammered this machine, it's worked hard and is still going strong more than two years on. It's got "stuck" occasionally, but it's been a simple matter of clearing out old coffee bits to get it running smoothly again. It still looks great, too. There is a little wear to the paintwork around the base plate, but nothing noticeable. It has saved us a fortune in cafe coffee (although we still go to coffee shops sometimes!), and the coffee it makes tastes great.
This product is really thick, glides on smoothly and leaves my hair feeling lovely and silky, helping to keep frizz to a minimum! It smells absolutely amazing, I love getting the first whiff of it when washing my hair. I like the information provided re the number of mint leaves in one bottle! In addition to this, the bottle looks funky, stands up well in the shower without tipping over annoyingly and has the dispensing end at the bottom, so it's easy to get the last bits out. Looks great lined up next to the shower gel, too!
So far so good, BUT...that amazing, tingly freshness that is so good to breath in stings like mad if you get it into your eyes. Even a tiny bit. Even if you've thoroughly rinsed your hands then wipe your eye a minute later. Even...and I realise this might sound ridiculous and it's possibly getting psychological now...if it's just the what-I-now-call "fumes".
I finished the bottle but won't be buying this again, even if I see it on a really good offer.