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Stephoohla

Stephoohla
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Member since: 04.08.2009

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    • General / Discussion / 69 Readings / 63 Ratings
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      30.08.2010 20:59
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      Thanks for reading :-)

      Prior to yesterday morning, I hadn't visited Dooyoo for a while - not since last February actually.

      At one point in my life (namely last year), I was obsessed with this site. At the time I had a secretarial job which left me with a lot of spare time on my hands, due to the fact that there was never any work to be done. My computer at work luckily was not restricted from going on websites, and hence I found myself easily able to write reviews whilst at work. Sounds a dream right? Well actually it was mind-numbingly boring, and as well as writing reviews, I also spent a lot of time applying for jobs. In November 2009 I finally found a new job - it wasn't exactly what I wanted, but it was a step in the right direction. I was 19, and knew I was wasting the beginning of my working life by sitting around, accessing facebook and not doing a lot of work. This was my time to prove myself, having not gone to uni like all my friends. This was my time to say "hey, I don't need a degree to become a millionaire".

      I started my new job in January of this year, but quickly decided administration/data inputting work was not for me; I needed to be doing something more involved and challenging. Fortunately, a month into working for that company an email was circulated to staff with internal vacancies available. One of them was in the marketing department. Since school when I studied Media, I'd wanted to get into the field - but it seemed so difficult. Here was a job served up to me on a plate. It was entry-level, but it was a start to a hopefully long career in media. I applied, had an interview the following day and then was told I had the job straight after. I felt very lucky.

      The only downside is I no longer have time for Dooyoo! For a while I didn't see a large benefit of using this site as I spent so long writing reviews, reading comments and rating other folks' reviews, and it took a long time to receive the £50 reward I was craving. However it has now gotten to a point in my life where I'm in a fair bit of debt, don't have a lot of disposable income left after bills and could use more cash. I've considered getting an evening or weekend job to supplement my measly income but would probably end up over-exhausted!

      So my aim? Dooyoo like crazy. I'm going to start writing reviews and rating lots of others', in the hope they'll return the favour. In the past two days I've written 5 reviews and received many generous ratings, and it has increased my point-age by about 3,000 - so I've realised I may be able to gain £50 a month if I put my all into it, which would be a nice extra amount to pay off my credit card each month.

      My end game is to be travelling this time next year, therefore I need to pay off my debt and save at the same time! Will I do it? :-)

      In the meantime, here's a little bit about me, in case anyone is interested!

      1. Which do you prefer - shower or bath? And why?
      My cleaning technique is fairly complicated. You'd think it would be easier for me to hop into the shower to clean all over - however I do prefer baths. Only I can't wash my hair in the bath as we don't have a shower head. Dilemma! My hair gets quite greasy after a long day so I do need to wash it each day, and this is my routine: I stand next to the shower and bend over, using the shower head to wash my hair with shampoo and conditioner. I then wrab a towel around my head, and climb into the bath for a relaxing half an hour.

      Another reason I dislike having showers is that I find it so difficult to shave my legs without falling over!

      2. What do you swear you'll never do?
      Cheat on any partner I have - I see no reason why someone could hurt someone else in that way.

      3. What's the most embarrassing thing you ever done?
      I wouldn't say I've both anything "You've Been Framed" embarrassing, but there has been many embarrassing things I've said when intoxicated, for example, my boyfriend used to be in a band, and when a friend started talking about that band I apparently shouted out "I'm going out with the lead singer!". Oops :s

      4. What is your favourite quote?
      I don't have one. I could never remember any quotes.

      5. What was your favourite holiday? And why?
      Ayia Napa in September 2009. I spent my days by the pool, shopping or on a quad bike. By night, I'd be dancing like there was no tomorrow and downing shots of Jack Daniels!

      8. Savoury or sweet?
      Savoury.

      9. Hot or cold?
      It depends on how hot, and how cold. If it was the choice between being in an unbearable heat as opposed to really cold, I would rather be cold. But if we're talking mild temperatures, i.e. warm vs. chilly, I would rather be warm. It would totally depend on the situation. And what I was wearing too! I wouldn't want to be in Egypt wearing a snow coat.

      10. What's your favourite drink?
      Strawberry squash for daytime. Jack Daniels and coke when night falls!

      11. What's your favourite food?
      Roast dinners - with yorkshire puds.

      12. Who do you hate the most?
      Hate is a strong word, and fortunately there aren't many people I hate anymore. I used to really hate certain people, now I'm more indifferent to them.

      13. Do you have a crush on someone? If so, who?
      No I don't. When you've been in a relationship with someone for a couple of years, I wouldn't really call the attraction you feel a crush.

      14. What is your favourite colour?
      Pale yellow + grey.

      15. What did you do last night?
      I google'd camera lenses whilst my other half played Xbox. Then later on we watched Casino Royale. I love that film!

      16. What's your favourite thing to do?
      Go on holiday. Photograph things. Have a day off work to chill out. Going out drinking with friends. Lots of things :-)

      17. Favourite movie, TV Programme, Book?
      Favorite move: Clerks
      TV programme: How I Met Your Mother or King of Queens
      Book: Northern Lights

      18. Who's your hero?
      No one, really.

      19. Favourite song of all time?
      November Rain, Guns n Roses.

      20. Have you ever had a supernatural experience?
      Indeed, I used to see spirits from time to time when I was a lot younger. It used to freak me out a lot.

      21. Favourite Sound?
      When I'm lying in bed on a sunday weekend morning, listening to the trees rustling in the breeze and the occasional car go past outside the window.

      22. Favourite Smell?
      Hot popcorn.

      23. Favourite place to be?
      On holiday, or in bed!

      24. Happiest moment in your life?
      Passing my driving test.

      25. Saddest moment in your life so far?
      Realising I'm a complete relationship klutz and that I need professional help.

      26. What is your dream job?
      I would love to be employed/commissioned by Cosmo or Glamour, or even a music magazine, to be a photographer. For the first two, I'd want to be one of their creative fashion togs, for the latter I'd want to be paid to go to festivals and gigs to photograph bands on stage.

      27. What would be your idea of a perfect date?
      Going to the zoo, or bowling. Something fun.

      28. What are your favourite Newspaper/ Magazine?
      Newspaper: The Sun, I just like their writing style
      Magazine: Cosmopolitan

      29. Which celebrity do you like the most?
      Angelina Jolie; she's a wicked actress, she's absolutely stunning and she does so many great humanitarian things to help others.

      30. Do you have any siblings?
      None blood related, but I do have a stepbrother and a stepsister.

      31. Have you ever been in hospital? If so, why?
      I went to a hospital to visit my gran when she was in there. And when I was born. Apart from that, no.

      32. Have you ever broken a bone or had stitches?
      No I haven't.

      33. Do you believe in Angels/Ghosts/Demons?
      Angels: no
      Ghosts: yes
      Demons: yes, but I really wish I didn't!

      34. Are you superstitious?
      A little.

      35. What colour eyes do you have?
      Green I think.

      36. What colour hair do you have?
      Red. Dyed, of course.

      37. What religion are you?
      Christian.

      38. If you could change 1 thing about you, what would it be?
      It would be one of two things. 1) I wish I could be shorter, by a few inches. I fell like such a freak being so much taller than all my friends (including male), boyfriend and colleagues. It really affects my self-esteem in a bad way. 2) I wish I could stop being so jealous and insecure in relationships. I've ruined a good couple of them because of it. And I'm about to ruin one more, go me!

      39. If you could change 1 thing about your personality, what would it be?
      I wish I was more secure and had more confidence.

      40. What is your biggest fear?
      I have a few: spiders, being alone, and being burnt alive.

      41. Do you have any regrets? If so, what are they?
      Yeah a couple, but if I changed what happened I doubt it would've been for the best. Maybe in previous relationships I should've trusted more, or when I was younger I shouldn't have argued with my mum so much.

      One regret I do have which I really wish I'd done something about is spending more time with my nan and my old dog when they were alive.

      42. Have you ever been in love?
      Yes, a few times.

      43. What's the most important thing to you in the world?
      Holding onto my talents/hobbies. I know so many people who don't have anything outside of their job. I used to have so many hobbies: painting, writing novels, playing guitar and photography. I now only do the last one, and it is something I really want to keep up. I've just brought myself a new camera (unfortunately I've put it on my credit card :/ ) to boost my confidence and support my hobby.

      44. What is your most treasured possession?
      My new camera: my Canon 40D. My laptop too, as it has all my photography work on it (and the hard drive that I've transferred it all to!).

      45. What's your job?
      Marketing Assistant.

      46. What's the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?
      To be honest, not many people have ever done really nice things for me. My dad buys me gifts all the time, but that's only because he felt guilty for not being around for my childhood. Ok yes, my mum did bring me up and kept me fed and a roof over my head, but at the same time she completely attacked my confidence and self-esteem by her constant guilt-trips and negative input on my life. My boyfriend puts up with my jealousy, but at the beginning of our relationship he completely disrespected me by lying and sneaking around. So... well, I can't think of anything.

      47. What's the worst thing anyone has done to you?
      Ruined my self-confidence (I know I shouldn't blame others - obviously it's all me, but some people haven't helped).

      48. Dream car?
      One of those Audi Spyders. I hate spiders, but these cars are awesome.

      49. Favourite celebration?
      My birthday. A year ago I would've said Christmas as I used to get lots of time off work around then, but unfortunately I don't with my new job. Working up until Christmas day, then back on the day after Boxing :'(.

      Where do you hang out?
      My flat mainly!

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      • More +
        29.08.2010 12:58
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        I'd love to win the lottery :-)

        At the moment I have a car finance debt, a loan which I took out to pay off my credit card, and my credit card bill is notching up too.

        Unfortunately, I live in a world where objects are available "now" because you can easily take out a loan and pay it off later.

        I wouldn't be so worried about all my debt if it wasn't for the fact that I desperately want to go travelling.

        Winning the lottery would change my life so much. The ability to even just pay off all my debt so I could start saving would be incredible. But if I were to win even more, I could finally say "yes dream - let's make this happen!" and go travelling.

        My ideal destination is Thailand and China - I want to soak up the culture of these beautiful countries. Even with millions in my pocket, I wouldn't opt to sleep in 5* hotels. I want to get there, with a tent or to stay in a hostel, with a beaten-up rucksack on my bag with my belongings, my digital SLR camera at my side, and completely soak everything up, through my eyes and through my camera's lens. The experience would be absolutely incredible and would give me so much.

        My next stop would be Canada - couldn't opposite I know. I've not been on many holidays - I've only been once to Spain and once to Cyprus. There are so many places I would absolutely love to go - and Canada is one of them. After watching the documentary Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine, Canada looks like such a lovely and friendly place. I'd love to live in Canada for a year or so and become part of that.

        My final stop would be Africa. I would want to head to some of the poorest areas and take part in one of those charity schemes, where you can help build schools and accommodation to support those who need it. One of my friends and his other half did this in Malawi last year and the experience sounded incredible. It must be an amazing feeling to know you are helping someone's life, and making it easier and better for them.

        When I returned from my year-long travelling experience, I would start thinking about the money I'd won from the lottery.

        Instantly I'd give my mum and stepdad, and my dad and stepmum, the money to pay off their mortgages and for them to take beautiful holidays to somewhere exotic. I know my mum and stepdad aren't earning loads and their holidays tend to be in the UK staying in a caravan park. I know they can't afford many luxuries and so I would love to be able to send them somewhere amazing. Secondly, since my stepdad and dad are coming up to retirement age, I would put a large lump sum into a pension for them, so they can have an enjoyable retirement and not worry about money.

        I would donate a large amount of money to the RSPCA and other animal protection charities, but my main focus of help would be to set up places where children and teenagers can go to help them take control of their lives. I see so many teenagers walking around the streets late at night, swearing at elderly people, throwing trash on the floor, bunking off school during the day and generally causing havoc. These teens need somewhere to go so they don't have to feel so defenceful and hostile all the time. People will be there to help them and listen to them, to try and help them become what they want to be, as opposed to what they are 'trapped' in - i.e. they may be having problems at home, and they may take this out by being angry and bullying others, when really it may help for them to just have someone to listen to them.

        So that's mainly it - I would pay off my debt, afford myself enough money to go travelling with (but I wouldn't want to spend too much as it would ruin my experience), helps my parents out with their mortgages and retirements, and then donate to charity.

        I'm sure there would be some other things I would impulsively buy, for example a better lens for my camera, a new TV, a new phone, etc. But nothing that I really need.

        If I had enough money leftover, I would invest the rest of my money into property, by buying houses and then renting them out, ensuring I'd have an income for life from that.

        I do really enjoy my job, so would still keep it up (if they let me once I came back from travelling!) but would probably reduce my hours to part time, as often I feel like my whole life is just sleeping and working. It would be nice if I had more time to indulge in my favourite hobby - photography. I could arrange more photoshoots, be available to photograph more weddings, and attend more events that I've been asked to shoot.

        I think all of this would make me a very happy bunny indeed :-)

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        • 17 Soft Liner Pen / Make Up / 36 Readings / 36 Ratings
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          29.08.2010 12:39
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          This isn't 'The' product

          If I had to choose only one makeup product to take on a desert island with me - or only one makeup product to use for the rest of my life - it'd be eyeliner.

          There's something about eyeliner that just makes eyes really pop, and exaggerates their beauty. Eyeliner to me is what butter is to bread - a necessary addition. There is a rarely a day that I will go without a full face of makeup, but on those odd occasions that I do, I ALWAYS still wear eyeliner. It can't cover my spots or blemishes, but it can draw attention away from them and into my "smouldering" eyes ;)

          So of course, since eyeliner as a concept is so important to me, it is vital to get the right brand or model.

          I usually go for a kohl liner which nicely smudges around my eyes throughout the day for a 'just out of bed' look. However since I've never tried liquid eyeliner before, when I spotted this product I really wanted to give it a go.

          I wouldn't call this liquid eyeliner exactly as it is nowhere near as wet. This pen, once in hand, feels like a felt tip. It does feel very strange to be applying it to your eyes! The 'nib' of the liner is exactly like the tip of a felt pen, and is clearly fed 'ink' from the tube.

          When I first applied this eyeliner, I loved it. It went on smoothly, was easy to apply, and made my eyes look magically mysterious. In black, it applies very dark, which is exactly what I love.

          My love for this pen lasted a good few weeks, until one day it seemed to stop being so effective.

          One that really affects the useability of this pen is if your eyes are slightly damp. Due to the fact that I put in contact lenses every morning, generally my eyes are a bit watery by the time I get to applying makeup. Sometimes if the bottom lids of my eyes are still damp, this pen won't come out at all. I never found this probably with kohl pencils, which seemed to be fine on wet lids, but unfortunately with this 'felt tip' liner, it didn't work.

          As I said above, for the first few weeks, it seemed ok, but after that the whole damp problem came about and since then it's been nowhere near as effective. Even when I dry my eyes properly and make sure I mop up any wetness on my lids with tissue, it still doesn't apply very well.

          I assume it is running out because of this, but surely it shouldn't run out after only 3 weeks?? Usually my pencil liners last at least 2 months!

          Needless to say, my happiness and impressed-ness with this product came to a close shortly after those 3 weeks. I still use it, as I want to make sure I get every last drop out of it before I chuck it. But it is a lot more difficult to apply now - I have to keep turning the pen to different angles to try and get it to apply.

          I brought this liner for about £3.49 from Boots, and it is also available in Superdrug.

          The packaging is fairly pleasant - a plain black tube with silver writing, but nothing special. Nothing that really stands out.

          One good thing about this eyeliner is that it does dry very quickly once applied. I was concerned with a 'liquid' eyeliner that, because it was wet, it would smudge all throughout the day (and not a sexy smudge, but a half-way-down-my-face smudge). But fortunately it did dry almost instantly so no problems there.

          Regarding lasting power, it doesn't last very long throughout the day. I usually apply my makeup about 7am before I head off to work, and generally by lunchtime it has faded and I need to re-apply. I suppose half a day could be considered quite a long time to last, but really I need a product that will last all day without needing to be re-applied.

          My quest for that product continues...

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          29.08.2010 12:02
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          Good product - needs to last longer though

          As mentioned in previous reviews, I've had a problems with dark circles under my eyes for a while, due to lack of sleep mainly.

          I've tried many different products to solve this problem, and thought I was onto something when I first tried this.

          I purchased Loreal Infallible concealer from Boots for £4.49, however it's also available from other drugstores and the major supermarkets such as Tescos and Asda.

          When I first tried the product, I wasn't feeling very positive as I've tried so many different concealers in the past that simply just did not work and I was at the point of giving up.

          When applying this concealer, I was firstly impressed with its creamy texture. It made it easy to apply, and when I blended it in with my fingers it went in really well.

          It didn't cover up my dark circles as well as I'd hoped but was definitely a lot better than all the other products I'd tried lately. And with this I was able to apply a thick layer without it looking caked-on, meaning I could completely cover up if I wanted to (but obviously this would be an expensive route as I'd run out of concealer quicker).

          The packaging says the concealer lasts 16hrs - I don't know about that as I rarely keep makeup on for that long, usually 12hrs at most. But during those 12 hours I was quite impressed that it didn't come off. Near the end I could tell it was going a bit patchy so I covered up with some powder and it was fine.

          The packaging is fairly attractive with a burgundy base and clear lid so you can see the colour of the concealer, which comes in a few different tones such as 'Honey' and 'Radiant Sands'. I went for the lightest one as possible as usual, which was 'Porcelein', and this matched up to my skin really well.

          To access the concealer you need to twist the burgundy base until it pops out the top, and vice verse to get it back down. This is fairly standard concealer packaging. Nothing really outstanding but looks quite neat in your makeup bag.

          My only real complaint with this product is that it doesn't last very long at all. I think mine lasted a maximum of a month, and as soon as I started getting near the end of the concealer stick it actually broke off completely so was useless to me. I didn't fancy holding the broken off chunk myself and trying to apply it as I knew it'd end in a mess!

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          29.08.2010 11:38
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          Thumbs up.

          Blusher is makeup product that I only started using about a year ago, despite having used makeup since I was 14 (7 years ago).

          It is a product that, alongside lipstick, I had little need for and was to be used for dramatic-effect and big nights out as opposed to day-to-day life.

          However, about a year ago I brought a new mobile phone, and as part of the package deal it came with free makeup. The blusher was the brand 'Benefit' which I hadn't heard of, but the packaging was cute. I used it one day to see how it looked, and since then I've always used blusher. That product ran out fairly quickly, so I soon had to buy another one.

          How did I choose this blush? From it's price, packaging and useability.

          Price:
          I picked this Rimmel blush up for £3.49. I thought this was a fairly expected price for blush - not too expensive but not too cheap.

          It's available in all major supermarkets (Asda/Tesco) and drugstores (Boots/Superdrug) around the country.

          Packaging:
          I'm attracted to compact products. I need them to be able to fit in my makeup bag alongside my other million makeup products. It needs to be small enough to fit into a going-out bag (which has minimal spare room), but be big enough to last me at least a couple of months so I don't have to keep replacing.

          The packaging of this Rimmel blush is fairly small, in sleek casing. The base is black, with the lid see-through so you can see the colours underneath.

          The case comes with its' own applicator (perfect - now I don't need to carry additional brushes around), which is a small brush, just big enough to allow a sweeping motion across your cheeks.

          Useability:
          Out of all the makeup products which could go wrong, I'd say blusher is a fairly safe bet. You can really go wrong with it, unless of course you become allergic and your face swells up - not good.

          This blusher has 3 tones within one case, and they all sit beside each other. There is no seperator between them, therefore once you start using this product the colours do tend to blend in with each other. I've been using this blusher for about 3 months now and already two colours have completely merged together so it looks like there are only 2 tones left in this blusher case now. That is no problem to me though - if anything it's quite nice when they blend in as you have a richer colour. The colours range from light pink to dark pink. I tend to use the darker end of the palette as it looks nicer on my fair skin.

          The colour on my skin looks very pretty - it doesn't look over the top and just adds to my facial features. Blusher has a great way of making you look like you have cheekbones, doesn't it!

          Overall, I would definitely recommend this product. It is subtle and pretty once applied on skin, looks nice in the casing so you wouldn't be ashamed of having it in your makeup bag, and the packaging is small enough to take out of the house in a small bag. Even better, I find this blusher lasts ages, probably down to the fact that I don't apply very much as you don't need loads to get a nice red/pinky shimmer.

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          29.08.2010 11:21
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          Some great points to this product, but not enough to outweigh the fact it doesn't stay on

          To start with, lets just say I have very mixed and confused opinions about this product.

          Let me explain.

          For a long time I have been using a Rimmel foundation and a Rimmel powder to apply in the morning before I go to work. Throughout the day I have to keep applying powder to stop my face from becoming sticky, and it does get tiresome. Because of a bit of hayfever, I tend to blow my nose a lot. Holding a tissue over my nose so many times tends to drag the makeup off my nose and inner part of my cheeks, and I end up looking a bit weird! So I've been in search of a perfect product that I can use - ideally a foundation that doesn't need powder over the top of it.

          I picked this up in Boots (also available in Superdrug) for the pricey sum of £7.99. I predicted that for that price, it would work.

          I know in the world of makeup, £7.99 doesn't really break the bank as opposed to more expensive products, but for me it is a lot (I usually spend under a fiver on foundation).

          The packaging was what drew me into this product. It's very attractive. It is in a clear bottle, so you can easily see the colour of the foundation. The lid is also clear, sp you can see the white pump underneath. The writing on the bottle is hot-pink and silver and promised me "Super Stay 24hr". I decided to splash out and buy it, hoping it would give me this promised "24hr" protection.

          When I got home I tried it out. Firstly, I was really impressed with its texture. So many foundations I've tried are cakey and thick - which is a nightmare to apply to my fair skin. Super Stay 24hr was creamy and smooth, even a bit runny. I've had problems using runny foundation in the past, but I didn't want to give up yet.

          I applied this foundation with my fingers to my bare skin. I found it very easy to blend and it did cover up my face quite nicely. Not perfectly - I could still see spots and a few blemishes. The foundation did feel very sticky on my face - this really disappointed me.

          I realised instantly I was going to have to apply powder over the top to get rid of the stickiness and also cover up any blemishes.

          I'm quite demanding of my makeup as I need it to last through quite a long day. I wake up at 7am and apply my make up straightaway. I leave for work at 8am. I tend not to leave work until about 6pm, and get home at 7pm. That's a 12hr day that my makeup has got to get me through.

          Well, this product promises 24hr, so can I trust it?

          No, to be frank.

          I started off a typical morning with this foundation then applying powder.

          By the time I got to work at 9am I could already feel my face becoming sticky. So I re-applied with a tiny bit of powder.

          An hour or so later, I felt it becoming sticky again.

          So I applied a bit of powder.

          This cycle went on until lunchtime.

          Lunchtime I looked into the mirror in my work toilets and my makeup looked dreadful. It was patchy and as though it had broken up across my face. I felt my self-confidence fading away and my self-consciousness creeping in, and knew I had to sort this out. So I ended up going to Boots, buying makeup remover and additional bits of makeup and went back to work to re-apply my face.

          I tried this foundation the next day and had the exact same problem. I even tried not re-applying my powder in case it was the constant applications that was making the foundation break up across my face. It got to lunchtime and I still had the same issue and my face was super sticky as I wasn't using powder to cover up. Needless to say, I re-applied my foundation that lunchbreak to cover me for the afternoon, and then I went back to my usual foundation the following day.

          Another downside to this product is the smell - it has a rubbery, plasticky odour. It's not foul or unbearable, but it's the sort of smell that if someone went into kiss you, they may think "Eurgh - what is that?"

          I was so disappointed with this product. I think because of the wicked packaging and price tag I was expecting it to be a really great foundation - but it failed me.

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          • More +
            29.08.2010 11:05
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            I wouldn't use this again

            Being a non-stopping 20 year old, I find I don't have nearly as much sleep as I ought to. But unfortunately I cannot allow myself to walk around looking like a mess as I do have a 9-5 job.

            One major problem I have is dark bags under my eyes - and I have tried a million and one products to combact this issue.

            I picked up this Hide the Blemish concealer a year or so ago to see if this product was worthy of my already-solid makeup bag. I already use foundation and powder - but neither of them cover up bags very well, even if I use a lighter foundation under the eyes and really cake it on.

            This concealer is in a cylindrical and compact casing, with a lid that pulls off. You need to twist the base to get the concealer to come out/go back in. It is available in a few different tones, but as I'm fair-skinned, I always go for the lightest tone, which is Ivory. I believe the darkest tone is "Soft Honey", which is definitely too dark for my skin, but would work well on someone who has quite tanned skin.

            When I tried this concealer for the first time, I was surprised by how creamy and smooth it was. Many concealers I've used in the past are quite hard and therefore difficult to apply. Generally when applying concealer I apply firstly with the tube, then rub it in with my fingers. This way I ensure I get even coverage and make sure it blends in smoothly.

            I tried this same technique with this concealer - twisting the stick so only a small bit of the concealer stick is visible (similar to a lipstick, if you were to twist too much out, it would probably break off). I ensured the underneath of my eye was covered in a light layer of this stuff and then I used my fingers to blend in.

            Unfortunately, it seemed quite difficult to blend in. Maybe because it was so creamy, it was quite wet, and therefore wouldn't easier go into my skin. Even though it felt like I'd applied a small amount, on my skin it felt like lots - and I was having difficultly rubbing in.

            After removing and re-applying, I managed to get a decent amount underneath my eyes. Though once I'd blended it in, I couldn't really notice any difference, bag-wise. My dark circles were still there. I even tried another application, and found that when I applied lots it did cover my bags, but of course it needed to be blended in, and once I did that my dark circles were visible again! Not good!

            My general makeup-applying technique is foundation and then powder, so I tried applying this Hide the Blemish concealer, then applying foundation and powder as normal. I think I saw a very SLIGHT difference in the darkness of the circles under my eyes, but not wonderfully noticeable.

            Also, thankfully, once covered with foundation and powder the product is no longer sticky and doesn't look as thick. I would definitely not recommend applying this product by itself as it would be a very strange look!

            So, no, I won't be recommending this. It is very pricey for what it is - roughly £4.59 from shops such as Boots and Superdrug.

            I kept looking and now I've found my perfect concealer :) Unfortunately this isn't a product on Dooyoo reviews, but I will get it added and write up a review!

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          • More +
            29.08.2010 10:46
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            Great product overall.

            I must have been about 14 when I started experimenting with makeup. At that age I didn't have a clue, and so only had my mother to look to for advice. She has a set makeup bag that she's been using for years and years, and Rimmel Stay Matte Powder is one of her products.

            After trying out her's one day and realising how much darker her skin is than mine (I looked like I'd been tango'ed!), I decided to buy my own in a lighter format.

            So what does it do? Well, it is a pressed powder designed to stop your face from being shiny. The packaging boasts "up to 5 hours natural shine control with natural minerals. Helps minimum the appearance of pores".

            Back when I was 14, I used to apply this powder to my bare skin, not knowing how to apply makeup. It used to make my face look quite pasty, and although it did stop my face from being shiny, it didn't really do me any favours. I used to apply the powder with a brush and any spare powder would cling to the tiny hairs on my face! Not a nice look.

            It was a while later I discovered how handy this powder is when worn over foundation. I have very fair skin, so would apply an "Ivory" or "Porcelein" foundation, and then with a flat sponge would apply "002 Pink Blossom" of the Stay Matte powder over the top. I found this to be a perfect makeup technique, as the foundation ensured my skin was unblemished and smooth, but I found after applying foundation my face got so sticky. Applying the Stay Matte powder over the top further smoothed out any blemishes so I had a completely even skin tone, and also covered the stickiness.

            I now use this makeup technique in my daily life. I find I do have to re-apply the powder once every 3 hours, otherwise I can feel my face getting sticky again! But it's not pain, as I keep my powder in my bag at all times.

            If you're looking to buy this powder, I'm afraid to say the price has risen quite dramatic over the years. About 4 years ago I used to pick this up for £3.00. Now the price is between £3.69 and £3.99, though Boots always tend to have lots of "3 for 2" details on Rimmel products so I tend to stop there so I can pick up my foundation, powder and perhaps even another foundation or powder (which would be free in the 3 for 2 deal!).

            This powder can be found in many supermarkets and drugstores around the country - including Tescos, Asda, Boots and Superdrug.

            You will recognise the powder by it's compact, circular casing, which has a clear lid so you can see the powder inside (don't get this confused with the similar-shaped Rimmel bronzing powder which has a beige-coloured lid! I've almost picked up the wrong product many times!). The writing on the front makes it clear what it is: in silver "Stay Matte pressed powder", and the powder will always be located in the Rimmel section of the makeup aisle.

            The powder comes in about 6/7 different tones, the first being "Transparent", then "Pink Blossom" going forward into the darker tones. I don't really tend to match the colour to my skin, but match it to the colour of my foundation, as that is what it'll be going over.

            The powder doesn't come with any kind of applicator, but from places like Boots and Superdrug you can buy a pack of small, circular foam pads to apply your makeup with. I always get mine from Superdrug - 3 for £1.19, and they last me about half a year. Pads like these ensure your makeup is applied smoothly and evenly.

            So would I recommend the product? Yes I definitely would. It is a great way to ensure your face remains blemish-free and unsticky after applying foundation (I wouldn't recommend applying the powder straight onto a bare face). The packaging is small and neat, and can fit easily in a handbag. (I sometimes have trouble fitting it in my going-out bag though, but after a struggle it gets in!)

            One downside I have to this product however is that it doesn't last me very long. I find I have to replace it every 1 and a half months. Though when taking into consideration how often I apply (in the morning around 7am, once at work at 9am, again at 11am, after lunchbreak at 2pm, before I leave work at 5pm, and then once again when I get home at 7pm if I plan on going out in the evening) - this is a lot, so it is no wonder I use so much! Regardless of its running out so quickly, I have tried competitors' products and they haven't matched up to this - so this is definitely a product I'm sticking with.

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            • More +
              26.02.2010 11:02
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              I would not go back here again

              As a young woman completely obsessed with fashion, I'm always on the lookout for new clothes stores around town.

              Two years ago, I noticed a shop called 'Pink Zip' open up in Colchester. The front of the store was adorned with a bright pink sign on which was the name, and a few mannequins stood outside with pretty dresses on. Needless to say, I was excited to check it out!

              The shop is small once inside, no bigger than 10m x 10m, and the walls are lined with rails full of clothes. A few stands are centred in the middle too, with the till being on your left when you walk in through the door.

              I researched this shop online and realised the Colchester store was not the only one; there was also a store in Ipswich. I have recently checked out this store too, and whilst it is much bigger than the Colchester branch, there still doesn't seem to be any more clothes as the store is a lot more spaced out, with the rails being metres apart from each other. The Ipswich branch has shoes however, which Colchester does not, and has a lot more accessories.

              Pricing was fairly good in the shop, and I noticed you could get things a lot cheaper here than in places like Topshop. Hoodies are about £20, dresses vary between £15 and 40, and tshirts are between £10 and £15.

              So what are the clothes like?

              Varied, I'd say. In my opinion, they are attractive to the more 'alternative' people than the sort of person who loves to shop in Topshop. The clothes are definitely individual. Most of them are dresses with floral or gothic patterns. Over winter they have sold coats, but I really doubt their warmness as they appeared to be really thin.

              Patterned hoodies are also on sale in this shop, but unfortunately they are not very unique as I brought one exactly the same from Download Festival 2009.

              Once thing Pink Zip seems to specialise in are prom dresses. I tried a few of these on once as they looked very pretty but unfortunately none of them fitted me (they were all too short in the body therefore showing my bum! I'm 5'10 so obviously this shop only caters for 'petit' women!). I also didn't like the feel of the fabric on my skin, it unfortunately felt a bit too flimsy and cheap.

              Another thing I was not keen on about this shop was that, rather than following traditional modern-day women's retail sizing, i.e. 8, 10, 12 through until 20, Pink Zip mainly only has 'Small, 'Medium', 'Large'. Despite being as tall as a giant, I'm fairly slim therefore usually take a small, but as I said before the 'Small' was too short in the body. I did try on a 'Medium' but that was too baggy! A bit more variety in clothing sizes would've definitely impressed me a bit more.

              Despite the sizing problem and the fact the clothes felt a bit 'cheap', I did go ahead and purchase a really pretty dress from Pink Zip. It was mainly white but had a pretty pattern of orange and pink flowers on with green leaves. The pattern was blurred so gave a nice overall look. It was strappy (I did worry as the straps looked flimsy, but I assumed if it was made well, it'd hold). Best of all, despite being a 'Small', it was long enough to cover my bum and fitted perfectly! It also only cost £25, which I thought was a great bargain.

              It was a friend's birthday party that evening, so I decided to wear the dress out.

              7:45pm, make up done, put dress on.
              8:00pm, got in my car.
              8:30pm, arrvied at party destination (a pub).

              Just as I was about to get out of the car, I heard the horrific sound of a rip. I looked down, and guess what? The strap had torn. I'd hardly moved, and it wasn't as if the dress was too small and I'd crammed myself into it; it DID fit. I was angry, upset and annoyed. Where the strap had broken meant that the top of the dress flapped down and far too much of me was on show. The only thing that could've fixed it was a safety pin, but where was I going to get a safety pin that late in the evening? So, with no other alternative than to go into the pub and get kicked out for indecent exposure, I went home and missed my friend's special night.

              The following day, dress and receipt in hand, I went back to Pink Zip to tell them about the problem. The girl who had sold me the dress was still on the till, so I felt relieved that she might remember me from the day before.

              I explained the situation (had worn the dress for under an hour, and even though I'd hardly moved my body, the strap had just broken). I told her I felt upset as I'd missed my friend's birthday because of it, and asked very pleasantly and politely if I could have my money back.

              She said no. Why?, I asked. Because I "could've done this myself to the dress just to get the money back".

              Maybe I'm being naive, or perhaps I'm too used to places like Topshop and Dotty Ps, who'll refund anything you've brought from their shop if it's broken, with OR without receipt. I could've brought a tshirt from over a year ago, but if it's broken, they'll give me my money back. So I was stunned, and a bit appalled, when this girl implied that I'd broken the dress myself just to get a refund.

              The conversation was a bit difficult from here, as she could not seem to speak english very well. But I repeated again, that the dress had broken, "here's my receipt showing I brought it only yesterday", and asked why I couldn't have a refund. She looked a bit blank, and so I asked to speak to the manager. She then told me that the manager wasn't in, and she didn't really want to bother him by calling him up. And she also said that he would just tell me the exact same thing.

              She then told me I could have a £25 voucher for the shop. Though I was frustrated and really believed her to be wrong, I just couldn't be bothered to argue, so accepted the voucher, knowing full well I wouldn't be buying anything from the store again. What a waste of my money.

              So, customer service?

              Poor, poor, poor. For a tiny independent shop that doesn't make millions like Topshop and River Island does, I'd have at least expected customer service to be top notch, all-singing, all-smiling "Hello!", "Thank you!", "Yes of course you can have a refund, we want your excellent custom back again soon!". They certainly don't produce the volume, and therefore the money, that large retail stores make, so why not at least really work on the customer service? Because isn't that all an independent, newly-starting-out shop has? Pink Zip couldn't offer me the variety that New Look offers me, but if they gave excellent customer service I would've definitely gone back as I'd have known they were a store I could trust to serve me well. Unfortunately, they've lost my custom completely.

              So, would I shop back here? No, unfortunately I wouldn't. I still have the £25 voucher sitting in a purse somewhere, but feel there's no point buying anything that could potentially break on a night out and ruin my evening. I felt let down by the shop, and felt very resentful towards the shop assistant who was very unhelpful.

              I'm not sure if the shop legally did me wrong, or whether each shop has it's own terms & conditions that they can abide by. But either way, I wasn't happy with the way I was treated. I feel that if a product breaks just after you've purchased it from a shop, you should be entitled to a refund. Pink Zip should've made it very clear on purchase that you can in no way whatsoever have your money back. I did notice that in the changing rooms there was a sign saying something along the lines of, 'If you are not happy with your purchase, we cannot give you your money back but will offer a voucher'. Fine, that's fair enough. But surely a faulty dress would be different from a dress that someone just decided they didn't like anymore??

              So thanks, Pink Zip, for wasting my time and money.

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              • Nokia N97 mini / Smartphone / 174 Readings / 160 Ratings
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                09.01.2010 12:17
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                A smart little phone with some attitude.

                In the past, I've never really gotten on with touchscreen phones.

                I brought myself an LG Cookie last year which was called 'the student's touchscreen phone', basically a cheap version of the iPhone but nowhere near as fancy. Needless to say, the phone was inconsistent, laggy and the screen got scratched really easily. Shortly after I sold this phone and got a normal one again. In the last year my boyfriend and best friend have also had touchscreen phones and after using them both and having problems, I almost gave up on considering them a 'useful gadget'.

                However, having got bored of my latest phone, yet again, I decided to invest in a new one. More and more touchscreen phones have been released. I believe the popularity of the iPhone has made other phone companies become competitive to release a similar product which is just as popular. Sony Ericsson released the Satio, which has been proven as a major competitor, and Nokia released the N97 and N97 mini. I liked the look of both the N97 mini and Satio, and after playing around with the Nokia in the phone shop, decided it would be a worthy investment as I actually got on quite well with the touchscreen.

                Price:
                It is an expensive phone, however. I got mine free on contract, but the cost of the handset alone is £429 on pay as you go. This is the cheapest price I've found, and some shops actually sell it for £479... this is much more expensive than the RRP price of the iPhone! I believe the phone is only available on limited networks at the moment, I've found it to be available on Orange and Vodafone.

                Inside the box is:
                Phone, battery pack, wall charger, USB cable, headphones, manual, Nokia software CD. This is all the basic kit you need for the phone to work. You can purchase additional accessories such as a car kit and a Bluetooth headset.

                Phone Look:
                So what's special about this phone? Yes it does everything a modern phone should, it calls people, you can text, you can keep appointments in a calendar, you can take photos, you can listen to music. But what makes it so special that Nokia are charging over £400 for it? I wondered this prior to purchasing it, hence why I asked to play around with it in the shop first. Initially, I was completely impressed with the look and feel of the phone. It is black with a velvety brown back where the battery is kept, and this panel is made of metal which felt nice on the fingers and is easy to grip. The touchscreen is large (3.2 inches to be more specific) and blends nicely into the casing of the phone. There is one hard button at the bottom which brings up the menu, and a soft-touch 'Call' button and 'End Call' button, as common on most phones. The phone was a nice weight, not too heavy but heavy enough that it felt as though it was made of good quality. On some phones, they feel so light that it'd be easy to drop them!

                Aside from the 'menu', 'Call' and 'End Call' button, the phone also has a couple of other buttons located on it, including: On/Off located at the top of the phone (this is very small, probably so that it doesn't turn on/off when you don't want it to), Up and Down volume button on the top of the right side of the phone, and below that the camera button (so that you can hold the phone landscape and take a picture as though it were an actual camera), and on the left hand side of the phone is the Key Lock slider. I think these are all located well, all subtle yet accessible. Above the slider is a small USB port for charging/computer connection, and at the top of the phone is a 3.5mm jack hole to plug headphones into, again placed quite conveniently.

                Touchscreen Usage:
                I noticed immediately that the touchscreen was a perfect balance of sensitive to finger tips, but not so sensitive that it would call someone had it been put in a pocket and not keylocked. I've had the phone for over a month now, and have to say the touchscreen is responsive most of the time, but sometimes it can take a minute to load, which can be frustrating but only happens every now and again. There is an accelerometer on the phone which means when you tip the phone on its side the view becomes landscape rather than horizontal. This works quite well, though sometimes takes a couple of seconds to do it. I like viewing the screen like this and it is especially useful when using the internet as you can see more of the screen.

                Textability:
                A brilliant feature of this phone is the slide-out QWERTY keyboard underneath the screen. When you slide out the keyboard, the touchscreen realigns so that you view it landscape rather than horizontal (as above). Most of the time this is a smooth change, though as with above, sometimes it can take a minute or two to have a think about it! The keys on the QWERTY keyboard are quite small, so someone with big fingers might want to avoid this product. They are nicely spaced out though, so pressing two buttons at a time isn't often a problem - the problem is more that because they're so small it's difficult to tell if you're pressing them. To be honest, I haven't really been using the keyboard much (I don't like admitting this as the keyboard is a key feature of the phone and often a sole reason why people buy it!), as I find the touchscreen keyboard just as easy to use. I'm used to using predictive text on a 'normal' phone, and I find it just the same on this phone. On the touchscreen the keys are laid out exactly as they would be on a regular non-touchscreen phone.

                Memory and Storage:
                The memory amount on this phone has caused quite a lot of debate in the gadget world. This phone's daddy, the Nokia N97, contained 32gb's worth of memory. That's a lot of songs/videos/pictures/etc and actually beats some iPods and iPhones. When the mini was released, quite a lot of people were wondering why Nokia had downgraded so much to only 8gb's worth, which is still a lot, but just a massive drop. My music collection does supersede this amount of memory, but as I don't listen to much music on the go anyway I'm not too fussed. I believe 8gb is about 4,000 songs, and you could easily fit about 6 full mp4 formatted films on this phone, more than enough to keep me happy! If, however, I did require more memory, I could simply pop in a MicroSD memory chip of any size I wanted and ta-da! More memory! The way how you fill up your phone with songs, etc, is via the USB cable that comes in the box. You connect it up (easy to do) and you can either copy and paste files over to your phone, but if you're not quite sure how to do this, there is a CD that comes with it that will install a PC Suite on your computer and allows you to easily transfer items over. There is a manual with this to tell you exactly what to do.

                Camera:
                The camera quality on the phone is a little disappointing, but perhaps that is because I'm used to having 14.1mp digital compact cameras or weighty digital SLRs. It is a 5mp camera that comes with the N97 mini, and has a 'Carl Zeiss' lens which Nokia really bang on about as if it's the best thing in the world. Carl Zeiss is a company that makes cameras, binoculars and microscopes. Considering this, you'd expect the camera to give fantastic results, but unfortunately this one falls off the mark a bit. It does take photos, it has a flash so you can photograph in the dark (but you end up with poor results) but unfortunately leaves people looking a bit yellowy, landscapes looking a bit flat, and when you upload your photos to the computer they look pixelly and far from impressive. I wish they'd have put a bit more effort into the camera, but heyho, it's still a camera, and it's still definitely an improvement on the iPhone's laugh of a camera. There are editing abilities on the phone and you can easily make photos black & white, sepia, or have silly frames around them.

                There is a secondary camera located at the front of the phone, specifically for video calling but this can also be used to take photos. The quality of this camera is poor though, definitely worse than the main camera. The video calling function works well, but unfortunately I don't know many people who I can video call as they have to have the function too!

                Music:
                I find the music side of the phone fairly average, it doesn't have a fantastic mp3 player, not like the Nokia 5800 which is advertised as a music phone, but is pretty standard and gets the job done. When you add songs to the phone it automatically puts them into albums so that they're easily accessible on your phone. The music player means you can press Play on track 1 and it will continue all through each album, or you can choose to 'Repeat' or 'Shuffle' for a difference. The sound quality is not brilliant from the loud speaker on the phone, actually it's quite disappointing. I played around with the equalizer for a couple of minutes and it sounded better after that. If you do plan on listening to songs, I highly recommend using the provided in-ear headphones as it improves the quality tenfold. You can adjust the volume by using the up and down buttons on the side of the phone (these can also be used to adjust volume during phonecalls). A feature I really love is that you can add a shortcut on your default home screen for the music player so it is easily accessible.

                Web:
                The internet on the N97 mini is really impressive, despite my disappointment with the camera and sound quality. Quite a lot of websites nowadays have mobile phone versions of the site so that they 'fit' the small screens of mobile phones, and because of the large screen on the N97 mini and the fact you can turn it horizontal for more viewing, lots of websites look incredible, as though you're looking at them on a computer screen. You can double tap on the page to zoom right in, in case the font is too small. There are loads of websites I use a lot, Facebook, Myspace, Hotmail, Dooyoo, OnePoll, etc, and all these websites look great on my phone... definitely no problems here! The internet loads really quickly too, though this is more down to Orange rather than the phone.


                There are so many other features on this phone that are worth mentioning, but I believe the best aspect are the Nokia applications. When anyone considers the best feature of an iPhone, more often than not everyone will agree that it is the applications, or 'apps'. Nokia have tried to implement their own style of apps, using the Ovi Store, Nokia's version of the iTunes App Store. From the Ovi Store, you can browse apps made by Nokia, commercial publishers and apps designed by the general public. Unfortunately at this point in time, there are nowhere near as many apps for Nokia than the iPhone, but hopefully this will change and the Ovi Store will grow.

                The phone came with some default apps, Facebook, Amazon, Boingi (for Wi-Fi), Elle (beauty magazine app), Friendster (social networking), You Tube, Bloomberg (stocks and shares), CNN News and Accuweather (a brilliant weather forecast app). These apps were all quite useful to me (apart from the shares one, but for some it might be handy). In addition to these, I have downloaded for free from Ovi: Tweets60 (a great Twitter app), Nimbuzz (more social networking - you can also download this on iPhone - me and my boyfriend both have this and means we can talk for free wherever), MSN Messenger, Opera (a web browser that is even better than the default Nokia one), Traveler (great for people who travel, shows weather, time in different countries, currencies, plane information, etc), and also some great games: Solitaire, Freecell, plus loads of demos. There are lots more great apps available that cost, ranging between £1 and £21.99! As I mentioned before, there are nowhere near as many apps than as available for iPhone, but hopefully over time this will change and better apps will become available.

                One particular 'app' in general (it might not be an app, just a feature on the phone actually, but it features like an app) is Nokia Maps. The phone uses GPS to track exactly where you are in the world and can show you directions, show you where the nearest cafe/toilet/clothes shop is, and if you pay a price you can even use the phone as a Sat Nav! (There is a trial on the phone for this Sat Nav function and it is fantastic - almost made me throw my own Sat Nav away!). The phone even talks to you in this function, telling you to turn left, turn around, etc. This sounds lame but I've actually gone on the Maps whilst on a train, and I could actually watch the train moving because there was a dot where I was, and obviously I was moving because I was on a train! The little GPS dot actually follows you, so if you're ever lost you can find your way home again with ease.

                Now that I've got through all the phone's features (sorry if you're bored by now) I'll finally get on to my proper opinion of the phone.

                What I really liked:
                *The amount of detail you can keep per contact is pretty great. You can keep the usual, first name, last name, number, email address, etc, but on top of that you can write business information (great if you keep clients/customers' contacts on your phone), you can add a nickname in case they are known by you as something else, you can have their Facebook details, MSN address, Skype number, and the best thing, you can add their address, so that if you're ever visiting them, you simply open at Nokia Maps, click 'Go to' and select the contact, and it will direct you to their house!

                *Customisable home screen. The iPhone didn't get many complaints in the looks department, having the sleek black body, large touchscreen, cute little button at the front, but one thing I've heard people don't like is the fact you can't have a personalised 'home screen'. Users can have a screensaver, but no background picture that is there whenever they enter their phone. Nokia wins this war by giving their users three options: (1) have a picture/theme of your choice assigned, so you can see your loved one or your dog whenever you unlock the phone/start it up, (2) select between one and five customisable widgets to have as your background (these can be downloaded, but the default ones on the phone are fairly great, you can have your emails visible, Facebook messages, weather reports, calendar, favourite contacts, and these appear on your home screen in blocks, one below the other), or, (3) have both. Have the picture underneath with two widgets on the home screen, or have five widgets so you can only see the outline of your picture, or have just the time with your picture underneath. Whatever takes your fancy! These handy shortcuts mean you can have all your important features right there in front of you the second you pick up your phone and you don't have to faff around in all the menus.

                *You can connect the phone to Wifi hotspots in the area. These are placed in lots of places nowadays, most commonly known are: McDonalds, Costa coffee (and Starbucks too I think) and Wetherspoon pubs. Lots of other cafes and pubs also cater for Wifi so that people can connect wirelessly to the internet using their laptop, netbook or mobile phone. When you do this, it means you aren't charged for internet usage. Connecting to Wifi is really easy on the N97 mini, you just need to go to connectivity and choose which network to hook on to (all this is in the manual). I have a limited internet usage on my contract therefore connect to Wifi wherever possible as this is free.

                What I disliked:
                *Battery power is poor as poor! When I'd had the phone for a week, because I was playing around with it so much, I'd had to charge it every day. One day, I'd left the phone on charge, and when it came to bedtime I unplugged it, set my alarm for work the next morning, and went to bed. Next morning I awoke to realise my alarm hadn't gone off because my phone had run out of battery. Unfortunately I needed to be at work in 5 minutes. Needless to say I was VERY late to work, and VERY annoyed at my phone. Since then I've charged it every day overnight. I don't know if it is truly necessary to do so every day, but because I've just started a new job I can't afford to miss my alarm and wake up late. I suppose because the phone is still new to me I still use it a lot, but I don't understand why a phone of this 'quality' and cost cannot handle hefty usage. I wish Nokia had made the battery last longer.

                *The touchscreen phone can get scratched easily. When I first got the phone, I stripped it of it's protective covers, desperate to get to grips with the awesomeness that was my new touchscreen. However, after using it for 10 minutes I could already see nail marks where I'd been using my finger to move the screen up and down (just usual phone practice), so I immediately fished out the protective cover that came in the packaging and stuck it back on. In the wrong light I can see all the scratches that are on the touchscreen, but at least I know the scratches are only on the thin plastic protective sheet rather than the actual phone. The plastic cover/sheet can be replaced easily, but the actual phone screen not so easily!

                *One major dislike I have concerning this phone is that last week for no reason at all my phone turned off and wouldn't turn on again. After 4 hours of trying to get it to turn on, all I could get to was a white Nokia screen. I spoke to my insurance guys (Carphone Warehouse's Geek Squad) and they told me to do a hard reset, done by pressing a few different buttons at the same time. It worked, and my phone turned on, but unfortunately I'd lost all the music, videos, pictures, etc, I'd put on it, including all my contacts and some really lovely messages from my boyfriend that he'd sent me years ago which I'd been transferring from phone to phone since then because they made me smile! So I hope you can guess how aggravated I was by this! Since then my phone has been working fine, I've managed to restore my contacts, put all my music/pics back on, and I'm only hoping that it won't happen again.


                Overall:
                So, I've had both good and bad times with this phone, and I know a lot of people, my mum being one, would wonder why I'd choose a phone that could have so many potential problems. Well unfortunately it seems that if you want fancy gadgets that's the price you have to pay! I don't think I've ever had an expensive electrical product that hasn't had some kind of problem with it to be honest! So yes this phone did have quite a big fault with it three weeks after purchase, but I still really enjoy the phone, and it seems to have just been a one off (touch wood).

                Aside from the features of the phone I have just mentioned, there are also some other useful bits: calendar, calculator, currency, notes, voice recorder, alarm, the ability to have themes, the ability to set songs as your ringtone, the ability to assign certain songs to certain contacts, and Bluetooth. I think this phone contains everything you'd ever need, and more.

                I wouldn't recommend this phone to someone who literally just wants a phone to talk and text, as it has so many features that would go unused and would be a waste of money. Like myself, if you're a bit obsessed with gadgets then this might be a great phone for you: it combines a camera, a media player, and the shop of apps means technically you should never get bored with what you're got, as you can constantly update and upgrade to new apps.

                This phone is definitely a competitive rival to the iPhone, and actually has quite a lot of better features, though lacks a bit on the apps side. There are many ups and downs of the phone, which is why is it a shame with phones like this that you can't have a 'trial' run as it is a massive waste of money/a long tie to a contract if you decide you don't like the phone!

                Overall I think the N97 mini is a smart little gadget, intuitive though sometimes a bit lazy and needs to think about what you've just asked it to do! Mostly reliable with a few exceptions, coolly personalised to your exact requirements, sleek and sexy casing, and definitely a phone you won't be ashamed to flash around to your friends.

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                  04.01.2010 15:14
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                  Addictive game that really deserved more gaming time!

                  Borderlands is a fairly new game that is available on Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC. I am reviewing the game that is for the 360.

                  Borderlands is a mix of FPS (first person shooter) and RPG (role playing game), and combined they make RPS (role playing shooter), one of the first to be created for the Xbox 360. Basically meaning it's a shooting game from a first person point of view, which also comprises quests, missions and well thought out storylines.

                  It has been compared to other Xbox games like Fallout 3 and Oblivion due to its role playing nature, and has been given great write ups from gaming websites and magazines, being called "completely original" with "fantastic graphics".

                  One aspect that makes this game so unique is the graphics. Before this game, I'd never heard of the term "cell-shaded". When I first started playing, I was fascinated by the graphics of Borderlands, as objects far away in the distance looked realistic, but everything up close was cartoony and as if it was from a comic book. The detail on everything is fantastic, as on each character/villain/animal it's got all the proper shading as though it was a realistic drawing, but the vibrant colours make it cartoon-like. I then learnt that this style of design was called cell-shading and commonly used in comic books. This factor really makes the game stand out from others, and I've never played a game like it. The graphics make everything in the game really bold and colourful. The second I started playing I was completely intrigued to keep going.

                  You choose from four different characters at the beginning. I chose Siren, the only female character - a common theme for me as I am indeed a female. I found this character very easy to get along with. Each person has their own special ability which can be a physical attack, an extension to your weaponry, or a magical power. Siren has the ability to launch herself into 'invisible mode', where she becomes unnoticeable for a short period of time and during that time can move about very quickly. It is useful in all stages of the game, especially at points where you have been overcome with enemies or become trapped between a few different villains and you can use this ability/skill to quickly escape and move to another point.

                  Each character has a 'Skill Tree'. As you get further into the game, you get experience. This experience builds up to make you a higher level (the highest is level 50), and for each level you go up you can choose to add a skill to your Tree. There are loads of different options so I won't write them all here, but some examples are: making your character stronger, making his/her shield last longer, making their special ability last longer, etc. For my character, Siren, I filled up one section of the tree that made her invisibility mode damage enemies in the blast radius when she performed it. This was very helpful and gained me a lot of experience.

                  I played this game cooperatively with my boyfriend and he chose the Soldier character. The special skill this guy has is the ability to lay down a gun turret which automatically shoots at nearby enemies. This is very handy if you're facing plenty of villains, as you can lay it down, crouch behind it for cover and just let it take care of everything for you! At the beginning of the game the turret lasts for about 30 seconds and you have to wait about 3 minutes inbetween usage, which seems like forever! You can use your skill tree to make the inbetween time shorter, to make the turret last longer, or even so that when you're standing near to the turret you and nearby friendly characters regain health AND ammo. This is probably the best perk of this character, and possibly makes this character the best in the game. When me and my boyfriend stood near his turret we both regained ammo and health, therefore removing the need to keep buying more ammo and health packs (therefore saving precious money).

                  The other two characters available are Hunter and Beserker. Hunter reminds me of The Crow a bit: big leather jacket, make up, etc. The Hunter's special ability allows the character to release a flock of birds (even more like The Crow!) which attacks enemies, and this skill can get better the more you fill up your skill tree. Beserker is an interesting character; he is very big and strong! His special ability is a physical one and allows him to go into a fast mode where he becomes invisible, much like Siren's ability, and can quickly pummel his fists into enemies to take them down. This is a handy skill when there are lots of enemies surrounding you nearby as you can move around them from behind and beat them up!

                  This skills aspect of the game is really motivational as it is difficult to choose which special abilities to give your character from the skill tree, and which skills will make your character 'best'. At any point you can reset your skill tree and reconfigure where all your level 'points' will go, but this will cost you money.

                  The game begins on a bus driving through a deserted landscape, you can only see sand and tumbleweed in the distance. You get off the bus and approach some rocks which surround a small, deserted community (no mention of where everyone is) and a small robot called Claptrap introduces himself and begins to explain some of the story and what you must do. The voiceovers in this game are very interesting - the person who voices the Claptrap makes him sound very cute! (Though this does get annoying after a while!). You start with a rubbish weapon that hardly does any damage and you are level 1. We are introduced to a few of the characters, and a couple of villains. You have to shoot the villains; this is like a practice as it tells you what to do. A few more controls are explained and then you enter the first part of the map, Arid Badlands. Here you have to complete some introductory quests and this really helps you get a feel for the game.

                  You can only use your weapon to begin with. Once you get to level 5 (not difficult to do at all) then you can start using your special ability to kill enemies. This is where the fun begins! The levelling up system is consistent and motivating, and with each level you are introduced to better weapons, better perks and allows you to upgrade to more powerful skills.

                  There are lots of different quests and missions in this game, and you have to go to new areas to explore them all properly and to pick up more quests. Some quests are simply to kill Bosses or certain people, some are to talk to people, some are to collect plants or objects, some are to enter certain places. In return for completing quests you receive experience points to help you boost your level. You may also receive money or a weapon/shield as a bonus. Sometimes these can be amazing, but more often than not they're a bit pants so you can just sell them for money!

                  There are seven different types of gun in this game: Combat Rifle, Pistol, Revolver, Rocket Launcher, Shotgun, Sniper Rifle and Sub-Machine Gun. These can be purchased from randomly-placed vending machines around the map. The vending machines are great ways to get your hands on more weaponry, for example, guns, shields, ammo, and other things like health packs and weapon perks. You can also pick these things up, most of the time from enemies who you've killed as they drop bits and pieces. Generally you'll find the better weapons are dropped rather than in a vending machine, though I believe that the method of finding weapons is a little inconsistent. Sometimes a complete nobody villain will drop a wicked weapon, yet a Boss (an enemy that was really tough to kill for a quest) will drop a weapon not even worth selling. The selling aspect of the game is another similarity to RPG gaming, as you can sell items for money to buy even better items.

                  In Borderlands, guns are rated by colour as to their rarity so you can generally tell at ease whether they are worth anything/do much damage.

                  Another brilliant part of the game is the vehicles. Once you've got to a certain level, vehicle pick-up points appear in certain places where you can magic a jeep out of thin air! You can have up to two vehicles at any one time, and if two of your teammates are in them and you wish to be travelling with them, you can even teleport to the jeep for ease of movement! The jeeps also have the ability to fire bullets or rockets which is brilliant in destroying enemies and makes getting around much much easier - allowing you more time to complete quests and get your level up!

                  The higher level you are, the higher level your enemies are, which makes the game consistent and fair, and prevents the game from becoming boring - the more you play the harder it gets.

                  It is quite an easy going game which doesn't require too much thought, though the storyline is a little hard to follow, and on my first play through I didn't pay much attention to it. It didn't make the game harder, but made me wonder a lot of the time where on earth I was and what was I doing!! From what I could gather you are sent to a different planet looking for an alien to collect something or other from it! Along the way there are enemies to kill, both people and animals, both of which will attack you. There is a map feature which helps you find your way by handily showing where you are and where you have to go, hence why I found it not too important to follow the storyline as I simply had to follow the path to go to the next bit. It probably would have made the game more enjoyable though if I properly understood the quests I had to embark on.

                  Unfortunately I found the ending to be a bit of an anti-climax. Yet another Boss to kill, and yes it was difficult, but nothing spectacular happened which made me go "Wow! I must play that again!". Fortunately at the time Borderlands released a 'patch', basically an add-on which can be downloaded from the Xbox Live Marketplace, which is an additional bit to the game to make it longer. I was disappointed you had to pay for this patch, but due to the nature of it I quickly forgave the producers! It was a zombie version of Borderlands, where you are introduced to a new part of the planet, and instead of the usual villains, they are all zombies. The colours and tone of the game changed too, and everything was a lot darker and more intense. There are quests for you to complete throughout this patch, and I managed to complete it cooperatively with my boyfriend in about 5 days, which wasn't too bad. Not too long but not too short.

                  A brilliant aspect of this game is the co-op ability. As previously mentioned, my boyfriend and I completed this together which was really fun. Though I dislike the split screen for the pure fact that I don't like sharing the TV(!), it was fun and engaging. I really like working cooperatively on games and Borderlands really encourages it by making it easy to use and enjoyable. You can have up to four people playing in one game, and I find this works best when you're playing online with three others. The online games are fairly easy to get into by selecting Quick Match, though it's best to match your skill level up to the other people in the game, therefore if you're level 30, it's best to enter into a game with other level 30s, so that you're all at the same point.

                  You can also duel with friends both offline and online. I didn't really find much point to doing this - but you get a nice Xbox achievement out of it if you win a duel when you do it for the first time so it's definitely something to try out!

                  Speaking of achievements, I found them quite easy to come by. I've never fully completed a game and received ALL achievements for them on Xbox before, therefore was pleasantly surprised to find out that when I completed this game I had almost all of the achievements. You receive achievements mostly by completing quests or gaining access to different territories. There are only a few achievements that you really have to put lots of effort into, and these aren't difficult to get, but can be a bit time consuming.

                  The controls of the game are fairly easy to get the hang of, and are definitely more matched to RPG rather than FPS. They are quite generic to Xbox so if you're used to most controls on that, then it should be very easy to pick up.

                  Overall it is a really addictive game with brilliant visuals. I completed the game cooperatively in about three weeks and to be honest I'm not really sure how I feel about that! As a FPS, three weeks on a game is actually quite a long time to complete it if you're playing a lot, but for a RPG, I found three weeks quite disappointing. Most RPGs are continuous and never ending, and whilst technically there is no end to the game as you can roam the Borderlands as much as you want, eventually you do run out of quests so there is no point to the game anymore. I think the designers could have made the game last longer, with more quests so it has the proper feel of a continuous RPG. Another downside to the game was that I feel there could have been better weapons nearing the end of the game, and also the 'Loading...' page inbetween different Borderlands areas was really long, I wish they could have speeded it up!

                  Despite these points, this game definitely had me reeled in, and completely overtook my life for three weeks - I was even dreaming about it at night! So probably for the best it wasn't any longer.... ;)

                  For any gamer, I really recommend this game. Though I've said a few downie points about it, Borderlands is an incessantly addictive game which is fun, enjoyable and brilliant to play cooperatively. Though I stopped playing it a month ago when I completed it, I feel that in a few more months when I've forgotten most of the story I'd happily pick up my controller again and replay it, but this time being a different character, and I reckon I'd love it!

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                    24.12.2009 11:59
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                    These tips have helped me survive many a festival!

                    It's winter - unfortunately there's no festivals around at the moment. But no reason to worry, for tickets are already on sale for some major British festivals... Download.. Reading... I'm sure V Festival will be on sale soon too. Lots of reasons to start wiping the dust off your tent and invest in some wellies soon (if you haven't already done so due to this disgusting English weather!).

                    So, what is a music festival? There really isn't any other way to describe other than lots of people getting together to enjoy the music they love. A range of festivals are available nowadays - jazz, folk, pop, and my personal favorite, rock.

                    At these festivals you'll find there might be a few different stages, with the main stage hosting the biggest bands/most well known bands. There's generally plenty of food/refreshments places, stalls that sell clothes and accessories, sometimes interactive stalls that allow you to play African drums, or even now competition stands where you can play Guitar Hero to win prizes!

                    Quite a lot of festivals take place over a weekend or a period of a couple of days, and with these the festivals tend to be next to a big field so the attendees can camp over. Here's where the fun starts!

                    Festivals are fantastic places to meet new people.. the reason for this is that not many people at festivals are jerks. Not many go to festivals looking for fights or looking for a bad time - everyone is there for a holiday - to chill, relax, and listen to some wicked music. With everyone in this mindset, it makes for a lot of easygoing people. Even at some heavy metal festies I've been to where the typical concept of a 'metalhead' is aggressive, violent, looking for trouble, etc, they've all been really friendly people. It doesn't matter if you don't look part, don't dress the right way or speak the right way, there's so many different varieties of people that everyone is unique anyway! Therefore festivals are the perfect places to go to meet some interesting people and have a fantastic time.

                    Let me introduce you to the festival I went to most recently: Download 2009. It takes place every year (for the past ten years) in June, and is situated in Doncaster, Derby. It mainly comprises of heavy rock music, metal, 'emo', hardcore rock and other similar categories, though they are expanding to a bit of drum and bass, having featured The Prodigy last year as one of their main acts.

                    Download takes place over a weekend, Friday night until Sunday night, and there is camping which opens from the previous Wednesday through until Monday. So quite a lot of people head down on the Wednesday to get into the festival atmosphere, watch the bands at the weekend then head home Monday.

                    I believe there were 70,000 people at Download 2009, so if you can imagine that many people in that place - yep, it was very crowded! The camping space was ridiculously big, and once they opened up the different areas for camping it was literally, "3.. 2.. 1.. CHARRRGGGEE!" to find a decent space to camp in. I went up in a group of 30 so you can imagine how difficult it was finding a space large enough to accommodate us all!

                    Download supports both big bands and small bands - big bands generally are assigned to the larger stages, whilst small bands can gain support in the small stages/tents. Every year Download takes applications from many small bands to give them a chance to perform on stage, sometimes with competitions, so this is a great way for unknown bands to make a name for themselves. Reading Festival does this too, and my boyfriend's band actually got to play at Reading on a small stage - unfortunately I didn't know him at the time but it's a pretty cool fact!

                    The three main bands who played the 2009 Download Festival were Faith No More, Slipknot and Def Leppard. That year actually sold out because of these bands: Faith No More had broken up years ago but recently formed back together, and I know many many people were excited about seeing them again. Slipknot always seems to be a hit within metal crowds, and Def Leppard, hopefully most of you will know, were a rock band famous around the late 70s and 80s! Yes, they are old now but put on quite a show!

                    Download has a variety of acts within the rock genre, never really touching pop or anything other than rock or metal though, so yes, they are margining out a lot of their market by only attracting metal fans. Despite this, there are always a variety of people at Download, from the weird and wacky to the completely normal, whatever that is!

                    Prices of Download tickets seems to go up every year. Last year, I'm trying to remember correctly!, I paid about £165. This included weekend arena entry, camping entry and parking.

                    Reading Festival is another biggie within this country, and this one has a lot more different music compared to Download. Reading covers plenty of different musical genres, and even features a comedy tent in case anyone wasn't interested in the music one night! Both Download and Reading are laid out fairly the same - main stage, two smaller but still big stages, then a few even smaller stages for lesser-known bands. Both festivals contain all the food/drink/shops that you'd generally find at a festival, so are fairly similar, the one difference being that Reading tends to be more family/child friendly. You don't find many children at Download, but because of the all different sorts of music at Reading, more families tend to go here.

                    Reading Festival is absolutely massive. It's also been around a lot longer, I think maybe 20 years now. Over time, many many big bands have played at Reading. Nirvana, Metallica, Faith No More, Radiohead, Placebo, Red Hot Chillis, The Killers, Rage Against The Machine, Iron Maiden and Green Day (just to name a few!). Some of them are pop artists, some rock, some metal, some grunge... a complete variety that can appeal to most.

                    V Fest is another well-known festival that takes place in Chelmsford. It isn't as old as the two mentioned above and not as popular, but as I live a 30 minute drive away from Chelmsford I feel strangely patriotic towards it! V is very pop orientated, so not really my cup of tea, but I feel like I should support it as not much else happens in Essex! Thousands of people do go every year and it has had some big artists perform - Razorlight, Snow Patrol, Fatboy Slim, Girls Aloud, Muse, The Strokes, etc.. I think the acts they have are mainly British artists, whereas other big festivals have bands from all around the world.

                    V Festival attracts a lot of families and is a lot cleaner in general than Download and Reading. The toilets generally are nicer too! I think the staff clean them a lot more regularly. There is a nice atmosphere at V, but I think I have more fun at Download and Reading, due to the fact that at V there are people of all ages, whereas at the other two there are more people my own age.

                    Some more well known festivals that I'm yet to explore are Glastonbury, T in the Park, the Isle of Wight Festival, and Bestival. They contain different kinds of music, so there is something for everyone. Aside from those, there are a lot of local festivals too, so it is always a good idea to check your local paper for mini-fests. I live in Essex and in the past year I've been to the 'Rock and Rave' Festival in Harwich which cost £10 entry and showed local bands, and 'Party in the Park' which was held in Colchester Castle Park. It was £5 entry and had a whole host of different things going on! Both were one day events so there wasn't overnight camping, but it was still fun and at least I didn't have to worry about putting up a tent!

                    Music festivals generally have a great atmosphere, intertwined with some great and interesting music. If you're a music fan then you really couldn't have more fun elsewhere!

                    Though so far I've made festivals sound really exciting and a great place to be, there are some downies to being at one. There are some obvious dangers (watch out for people spiking your drinks or trying to sell dodgy drugs - yes, I know I said everyone at festivals is easygoing but unfortunately wherever you go there are going to be dodgy people trying to use and abuse places like this, and take advantage of people who are having fun and unaware of dangers, so you must keep a watchful eye wherever you are). Theft is another danger at festivals because, as above, unfortunately there ARE going to be some jerks around who are looking for vulnerable people to take advantage of.

                    Some other poor side to festivals are the fact of how busy they get - if you're heading to one you must be prepared to wait in queues, queues, queues. For toilets, for the ATM machine, for the hotdog vendour, for campsite entry, for arena entry, etc, etc. If you're an impatient person then festivals are not for you!

                    Another down side is the walking. I'm quite unfit, yet at festivals I've had to put myself through walking at least 6 miles every day! The walk from the parking to the campsite is generally the worst, then the walk to the arena will take a good 45 minutes (generally), alongside walking to meet your friends, walking to the portaloos, walking to get food, walking to the nearest supermarket to stock up on supplies, etc. Make sure you take good walking shoes with you!

                    The lack of hygiene is probably the worst issue I have with festivals. As a generalised rule, girls like being clean, and I am one of them. I don't relish the thought of not washing for days, and although I've done it plenty of times at festivals, it still is not nice. This is a big downside, but as long as you prepare properly by taking some cleaning/beauty products with you, then generally you'll be okay.

                    You've heard about a few different festivals and a couple of dangers and downies, well now I'm going to attempt to give you some invaluable Festival Tips so YOU can survive when YOU head to your next festival! There are many different guides similar to this all over the internet, but I'm going to try and personalise this a bit more so hopefully it will relate to more of you.

                    I am a girl, yes, so this guide will, in fact, being more of a 'girls guide' to surviving festivals.

                    Tip No. 1:
                    Always take toilet roll with you. Not such a biggie for guys, but girls, I find this is a complete essential. Festival toilets ARE disgusting wherever you go, as they are simply portacabins/portaloos placed in the middle of a field. There are festival staff around who are meant to keep them clean, but in reality, the only times these toilets are clean are about 6 in the morning when they've JUST been cleaned thoroughly. Every other point in the day apart from that they ARE awful. Big festivals contain up to and over 100,000 people. With only about 50 toilets in a mile radius, that's 2,000 people to one toilet (if my maths are correct... :s ). Because, at festivals, people drink alcohol/other drinks a lot more than usual, I'd estimate they'd need to go to the toilet at least once every 2 hours. So... well, my maths isn't that great, but imagine how many times a day each individual toilet gets used. Toilet roll gets used up in SECONDS, hence why bringing your own is so important.

                    Also, a lot of fluid generally gets splashed on the toilet seat (imagine all the drunk guys using these toilets - of course they don't care about lifting the seat up), so plenty more toilet roll is needed to wipe the seat / lay down on the seat before us girls can sit on it! This leads me onto the next one...

                    Tip No. 2:
                    At my very first festival, I did not bring wet wipes. What a mistake. Baby wipes are ESSENTIAL to survive a festival. They are excellent in disgusting toilet situations, as you can wipe the seat around you before sitting on it.

                    They are also brilliant at cleaning yourself. At festivals, showers are a rarity. Download 2009 contained all of 10 showers for up to 140,000 people. I hardly saw ANYONE use these showers, generally only those who had actually fallen in a big mud pile therefore a shower was the only option. The showers are pretty rank, too. So yes ladies, that means no washing for up to five days in a row. Pretty gross? Well, yes, but once you're in a big field, getting close to nature, sleeping under the stars, completely surrounded by lots of others who stink as well, then you really don't notice you haven't washed in days!

                    For these situations though, wet wipes/baby wipes are ingenious. You can clean under your armpits, legs, belly, lady area, face, etc, are baby wipes cater for all body parts. So you can actually leave your tent feeling pretty refreshed.

                    Tip No. 3:
                    Bring a ground mat. I know, it's extra weight and baggage, but sometimes you simply do not get a choice where you are going to be sleeping ... there's a huge chance you'll have to find a space on some rocky/stony grass. Ground mats ease this pain and help you get valuable sleep at night so you've got your energy the next day for all the mosh pits!

                    Tip No. 4:
                    Wellies may look awful, but without them you'll have a rubbish weekend.

                    I've been to festivals where the sun has shined throughout, not a drop of rain in sight, but somehow, do not ask me as it is the biggest mystery, there WILL be mud. Thousands of people plodding over the same areas every day really ploughs up the ground, and in normal shoes (flipflops for me, as I had at my first festival) will get ripped to shreds, and you'll also get mud ALL up your legs, which is not a pretty sight.

                    Wearing wellies, or even just bringing them in the case of bad weather, really will save you from this awful circumstance.

                    Tip No. 5:
                    Expect the worst weather. If, quite naively as I've done, you checked the weather forecast beforehand and heard the weatherman say it's going to be great weather for the weekend, and then hastened to only pack your finest beach clothing, you will completely regret it once you arrive to find it pours with rain. Though it is a nice thought that you might be able to get through the weekend wearing only a bikini, and sometimes of course that is the case if you're lucky, more often than not it will be rubbish weather, so at least pack one outfit for the worst-case-scenario.

                    Coats are obviously quite heavy to carry about, so I'd suggest a thick hoodie, a pair of jeans and a jumper. At least you're covered in case there's a downpour.

                    Tip No. 6:
                    Girls, dresses + wellies = the ultimate festival fashion law. You look great and stay clear of mud. Problem solved :)

                    Tip No. 7:
                    Okay, so I've been leaning heavily towards girls' festival tips so far, I'll try and be a bit more unisex. Painkillers/aspirin is a big yes-yes for festivals. You WILL end up drinking heavily (more than likely anyway), especially if you're in a big group of friends. And once the chilly evening sets in, you realise the only way to keep warm is to keep those beers coming. The next morning will not be so pretty however, when you wake up in a sweaty tent, sleeping bag twisted around your body, feeling bloody awful. In steps a headache tablet to at least try and make you feel better!

                    Tip No. 8:
                    Most festivals do NOT allow glass bottles in either the camping area or the main arena where the bands are. Okay, sometimes they don't check, and you might get away with it, but how unlucky will you feel when you arrive at the festival gates having lugged all your heavy stuff a mile's walk from the car park, only to be spot-checked and be told you can't take your 24 pack of glass bottled beers in. I've known this to happen to quite a few people, and they've then had to try and drink as many as possible before entering! Even if you do that to try not to waste the beer, you'll still have at least another mile's walk to get to the campsite to lay down your belongings, and being drunk whilst doing that is NOT fun! Especially when it comes to putting up a tent!

                    Before you go, if you plan on taking alcohol with you, you should invest in some cheap plastic 1.5l bottles of water from a supermarket and pour all your alcohol into those bottles.

                    Tip No. 9:
                    Skint? Then work at a festival. Not something I've done personally, but you can actually apply to become a member of staff at places like Glastonbury, Reading and Download. Typically, you'll work one night, either picking up trash, being security at a gate, etc, but then you get to go to the rest of the festival for completely free - this is great for those who can't really afford the price of a weekend ticket.

                    Tip No. 10:
                    As previously mentioned, theft can be an issue at festivals, because everyone is so vulnerable to it. No one likes to leave without at least some expensive essentials: their mobile phone to contact their friends in case they get split up, their camera to capture the amazing memories of a festival, their wallet/purse so they can obviously buy food/souvenirs, I've even seen some people bring laptops and Nintendo DS consoles!

                    The easiest way to avoid being a victim of theft is to keep your valuables on your person at all times in zipped pockets, but even this isn't safe as in a crowded arena you're pushed up so close to people that if they slipped a hand inside your pocket you might not even notice! A few tips I have for this are: try and ask around family to borrow an OLD phone they might have, and slip your SIM card into it. That way, if your phone gets stolen it isn't the wicked new phone you've just bought but rather an old one that won't matter. For wallets, try and find a small one that will fit in the bottom of your pockets - and keep the bare minimum in it... your ID (if you look young you'll need ID to buy alcohol), a bank card for emergencies (but you won't want to take money out on the campsite - there are cash points but you have to pay through the nose for transactions!) and money. Try and keep some money in your purse, some in your shoe, and some in a different pocket. If someone nicks one lot at least you'll have a back up. Regarding cameras, sometimes it's best to get a cheap throwaway one because it's unlikely that those will get stolen. However, being a photographer, I understand the importance of getting good quality photos and you can't always get these with disposable cameras. So I do take my digital compact camera to festivals with me, but I always keep the strap wrapped around my wrist, and if I put it in my pocket then I hold onto it in my pocket! That way no one can steal it and also it's instantly in my hand if I need to take a wicked shot!

                    Tip No. 11:
                    Avoid meat at festivals. Burgers are generally okay - but chicken is a no no. Some of the stalls are a bit dodgy, and I've had so many friends eat bad chicken and then spent the rest of the festival throwing up, which is definitely a ruiner.

                    If you're in it for the long haul (all weekend) I'd recommend buying a cheap camping stove, a small frying pan and buying your own food. Most festivals are located near a giant Tescos or Asda, generally within walking or at least easy driving distance, therefore you can cook your own food. It's a lot safer and definitely a lot cheaper.

                    Tip No. 12: (this is probably most useful!)
                    WEAR your heaviest clothes on the way to the festival. I've already advised any festival-goers to at least take some warm clothing with you for wet weather and for the cold nights, and I've already mentioned that there will be a LOT of walking, particularly on the first day when you're searching for a good place to set up camp. If you wear your heaviest clothes, though it'll make you hot on the day, it'll mean your bag is nowhere near as heavy as it'd be if you packed jeans, jumper, wellies, etc. It took me a few festivals to work this trick out, and since then it's definitely made my life easier!


                    There are a few other obvious essentials: tent, sleeping bag, pillow, bottles of water to ease dehydration, sun lotion for those rays!, rucksack to keep all your bits in, wallet for money, etc, but I'd hope everyone has enough common sense to remember these without having to look online for it!

                    I'd like to reiterate festivals really are great places. They're perfect holiday getaways for those who love music, partying and meeting new people. As long as you're prepared then you can expect the best weekend of your life, with some amazing memories that will always be with you.

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                    • Review of the Year 2009 / Discussion / 94 Readings / 89 Ratings
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                      22.12.2009 11:20
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                      A sum up of my year.

                      I try to write as few of these discussion reviews as possible because I worry that everyone will find them boring, but currently I'm at Review No. 99, and as we're almost at the end of the year, I feel Review No. 100 should be something personal to me.

                      The year 2009 has been a bit all over the place for me. I've had moments of happiness and sadness, laughing and grief, success and failure. I've shared these moments mostly with my boyfriend, close friends and family, and they've all affected my reaction in some way or another, and not always for the best.

                      2009 kickstarted round a party at a friends house, having just kissed my boyfriend at midnight. We counted down, and then mdnight struck, and boom, it was New Year.

                      I've been employed full time all year and am trying to save money for travelling, whilst my friends have been throwing their money into drinking loads and partying whilst at university. Sometimes I wonder whose life is better. I'm not studying for a degree, but I've already started my own independence and have a flat of my own to live in, though my social life stinks because I work so much. My friends party, drink, meet new people every day, but live with a thousand other people in student accommodation, have to cut down on luxuries because they only have a loan to carry them through, and most of that goes on alcohol and drugs. But then they might get a degree at the end of it, and go onto doing an amazing job. I guess there is no right or wrong, just what feels right for you.

                      Throughout the year I've filled my life with pleasures and unfortunately gotten into a bit of debt. I took out a loan to pay that off and am now tied to my bank for another year, putting off my travelling plans. I try not to let it get me down, as I KNOW it will happen one day, I'll be able to pack my bags and travel Asia as I want to, but it might just take more time to get there, as I need money, and lots of it.

                      I was unhappy in my job for a long time, so started applying for new jobs in April. Seven months later, I FINALLY get offered a job! Not much more money than I earn now, but it's a start at a bigger company with more prospects.

                      This year I've done lots of things I've never done before: handed in my notice for a valid reason, gone on holiday without my parents, driven a quad bike, got a passport, gone to Download Festival, started counselling (long story), brought a pet budgie, etc etc. Many things that have all given me stories and are helping to change my life for the better.

                      Bring on 2010.

                      1) What did you do in 2009 that you have not done before?
                      Well, I actually just answered that. I must be a mind-reader! I guess the most important thing was started having counselling. It was something I was thinking about doing for years but it never happened, and I felt too much like a 'freak' to do it. Basically I have insecurity and trust issues which has affected a few relationships now, and has been brought on by somethings that happened in my childhood. I started counselling in October to try and improve myself.

                      2) Did anyone close to you give birth?
                      Nope, I don't know anyone who I'm close to. But I do know of a few people who've had children that I'm not friends with - oddly quite a few people from my year at school had kids this year - and it's very weird to think of because we're only 20! I know many people have children at my age, but because I haven't even contemplated that stage of my life yet, it feels weird to think of other people who are already there who I used to be close to in school.

                      3) Did anyone close to you die?
                      Thankfully no, no one I know of died this year.

                      4) What countries did you visit?
                      I went to Cyprus for a holiday in September! It was just me and my boyfriend and we had a wonderful time. I'd never been on holiday before without my parents, and prior to this I'd only been abroad once when I was 10, so was feeling very excited about this holiday.

                      5) What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
                      I would like to see a great improvement regarding my counselling, and I would like to have saved up a substantial amount so that I'm prepared for my travelling dream.

                      6) What dates will you remember from 2009?
                      1st February - My boyfriend's birthday. I arranged a surprise meal with all his friends, and the emotion showed on his face when he'd realised what I'd done was amazing - he told me no one had ever put that much effort in before.
                      6th April - The day my office said they were going to be making redundancies. This date was EXACTLY half a year since I started working there. I didn't get made redundant, but it was very sad watching others go.
                      30th June - Mine and my boyfriend's one year anniversary. We spent the day together just snuggled up on the sofa, relaxing and enjoying our time together. We didn't do anything fancy to celebrate, it was just wonderful to spend time with him.
                      1st August - My passport interview. I was very nervous as we had already booked the holiday (foolish I know!) and trying to be yourself as much as possible is quite hard!
                      6th August - My stepdad went into hospital. Horrible time :/
                      5th September - My first ever bikini wax. Will NOT forget this.
                      9th - 16th September - Holiday to Cyprus, amazing memories.
                      2nd December - Offered a new job!

                      7) Did you suffer illness or injury?
                      I've been ill a couple of times, nothing major though. The odd cold/sore throat/mild chest infection, etc.

                      8) What was the best thing you bought?
                      I'm going to have to say tickets to see the Prodigy next year. They're for my boyfriend's birthday in Feb, so he still doesn't know about them, but I reckon he'll love it.
                      Apart from that, I purchased a really awesome phone a week ago, I'm still obsessed with it!

                      9) Whose behaviour has merited celebration?
                      My stepdad for having to deal with so many things at the moment. He had an operation on his back and now can't walk very well, and he was diagnosed with prostate cancer a month ago. Both are awful, but he's struggling on and determined to fight this.

                      10) Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
                      A couple of people have made me want to pull some punches, but luckily I've managed to just ride it out and ignore them. You can't control anyone else's actions but your own, and if anyone puts you down, all you can do is hold you head up high and stand up for yourself. A woman at work used to bully me, simply because she hated her job and would rather use the internet all day long, and she didn't like that I was eager to do my work. She was made redundant and on her last day she made a nasty comment about my clothes, so I stood up to her, asked her what her problem was and why she felt the need to be nasty. She was so surprised I said something that she had nothing to say back. It was very satisfying.

                      11) Where did most of your money go?
                      Car insurance, loan repayment, mobile phone contract, petrol and food.

                      12) What did you get really excited about?
                      Being offered a new job.

                      13) What song will you remember from 2009?
                      I shall remember forever 'I've got a feeling' and 'Boom boom pow' by Black Eyed Peas, as they were playing constantly in clubs when me and my boyfriend were in Cyprus. I was actually thinking of putting together a mixed CD of the songs that we heard daily in Cyprus, just because whenever I hear them I can transport myself back to there, being in a lovely hot country surrounding by fun-loving people and feeling chilled out and relaxed rather than being stressed about work!

                      14) Compared to this time last year are you happier, fitter, more productive?
                      I am definitely happier. This time last year my insecurities REALLY got the better of me a lot and I found it difficult to cope with. It's definitely easier now, therefore making me happier. I am more productive I think - due to the fact that I've been looking for a job for so long it's made me really motivated to get stuff done. Though some areas of my life are less productive - for example I used to photograph gigs and models and I haven't arranged something like that for ages :(
                      I don't think I'm more fitter - I don't exercise at all which is awful. Unfortunately I just can't motivate myself to do it / find the money to pay for a gym membership! I wish I could exercise but I find I'm so tired after a day at work that I just want to slump on the sofa and eat junk food.

                      15) What do you wish you had done more of?
                      I wish I had saved more money.

                      16) What do you wish you had done less of?
                      Letting my insecurities get the better of me.

                      17) What was your favourite TV programme?
                      How I Met Your Mother! Alright, so it didn't come out this year, but E4 was showing it daily for about two months and I absolutely fell in love with it!

                      18) Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate last year?
                      Yes, a particular someone who I work with... :/ Oh well, I'm leaving the company in three days!

                      19) What's been the best book of 2009?
                      Unfortunately I haven't got round to reading much this year :( I read quite a good book called Saving Grace though.

                      20) What was your greatest musical discovery?
                      I don't actually think I've discovered any new bands this year! I'm quite set in my ways. I guess I've become more of a drum and bass fan this year though, I really like Prodigy, Pendulum, High Contrast, Crystal Method, and a few others. I think last year I was more into rock and metal.

                      21) What did you want and get in 2009?
                      A new car. I didn't end up with a NEW car, just a second hand one that my stepdad was trying to sell. It's not perfect but I was getting annoyed with my Polo!

                      22) What did you want and didn't get?
                      Loads of things! Unfortunately as well as being sentimental, I'm also very materialistic, and long for lots of items... nice cars... gorgeous clothes.. wicked gadgets... DVDs.. etc. Lots of these things I did not get. Maybe one day when I'm rich!

                      23) Who was the best person you met?
                      I can't really say I've even met many new people in 2009! And none of them I'm close friends with.

                      24) Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009?
                      There are always going to be people who dislike you for whatever reason, and who'll try and break down your happiness. A particular ex of my boyfriend's spent the end of 2008 trying to break me and him up, by coming between us, constantly contacting him, being rude to me to push me out, etc. I spent a large amount of 2009 letting this get to me and feeling upset by it. Well a lesson I've recently learnt is that it wasn't me who was at fault here, or in the wrong. She was spiteful and petty, and obviously wasn't grown up enough to realise what she was doing, even though she is actually 7 years older than me. I recently decided that I'm done letting other people affect my happiness. Unfortunately my counselling is far from over, so I've still got a lot to learn, but one day I'll get there and I really will NOT let anyone else affect my happiness/misery... that's MY job.


                      Well, if you managed to read all that without drifting off, well done! Thanks for listening, I hope you gained some inspiration or warmth from reading my random ramblings.

                      It is coming up to the end of 2009, and I still don't know where I'll be at New Year - but I do know that when I enter 2010, I shall keep my head high, start my new job with passion, do everything I can to make my boyfriend, friends and family happy, but mostly just try and keep myself happy, something that I have not done for years as I had picked up a belief that I wasn't worth anything.

                      I want this all change, and I want to be a new me!

                      So cheerio everyone! Have a fantastic Christmas and a happy and merry New Year, and I shall see you all in 2010 for more review-writing madness!

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                      • More +
                        17.12.2009 12:05
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                        Grr.

                        This is a perfect little topic for me to give my opinion on as I know this so well!

                        Looking at me from a distance, you probably wouldn't think my body shape was that weird.

                        I'm 5'10/11. Whilst I'm sure a minority of you will go "That's not tall?!?", there will be more people who are around the female height average of 5'6 thinking "Gosh you're a giant!".

                        Truth be told, when I'm by myself, or standing in front of a mirror, I don't really notice. But stood amongst a crowd (lately I've often been in amidst crowds of shoppers or in a concert audience) and I'll notice how my head does quite clearly reach high above everyone else's.

                        I'm taller than every girl I know, and I'm taller than most guys I know. Unfortunately for me, I also fell in love with a bloke who's an inch shorter than me, so now I cannot wear heels whenever we go out! Whilst he says he wouldn't mind, I just think we'd look like a freakshow. Being as tall as I am, it makes me sad to think I'll probably never get the opportunity to walk down the street nestled in the arms of a taller man, or have someone look admiringly down to me! Yes I am a shallow and thinking of fairytales but it is a bit miserable to think about! But I love my man and would never replace him for a taller one, I just wish I could shrink a bit!

                        I'm sure I never used to really have this problem - are people just getting smaller?

                        Finding clothes has always been a bit of a nightmare. For some strange reason, most clothing stores seem to assume that if you're tall, then you're big around the waist/other areas too. I'm quite fortunate that I'm fairly skinny, but finding clothes that are in proportion to my body is near impossible.

                        Trousers are definitely the worst. Quite a lot of stores nowadays, i.e. Dorothy Perkins, do sell 'Long' trousers, so I go there quite often to buy bottoms. However, they always seem to be out of stock, and even the 'Long' sometimes just does not fit right. Sure, the ends will reach somewhere between the ground and my ankles so they are the right length, but then the bottom area always seems to sag, or they are too big around the waist. I can't fit into a size 8 because I've got wide hips, but a size 10 seems too big. Nightmare!

                        I find buying regular jeans an impossibility because they NEVER seem to fit me right. Buy a 'Long' and they're too long. However 'Regular' is never long enough. Sometimes I'll buy 'Long' with the idea of taking up the hem at the bottom of each leg, but then I always find they sag around the thigh and make them look even bigger! Grr!

                        So what are my tips to those tall and skinny folk? Skinny jeans. Definitely. They are the way forward. Whilst they do elongate your legs, so if you're deliberately trying to conceal your stalks you'll fail, they always fit you properly around the bum and thighs. So many times I've had to purchase trousers that are baggy around the thigh and bum area, making me look like a size 16 rather than a 10, but skinny jeans help show off any figure I do have.

                        Tops are another problem. Unfortunately I lack a bit in the boobs department due to my skinny frame, therefore any shirts I wear I seem to look like a lanky boy in! I have to wear shirts a lot for work but can't seem to get the right look. I mainly buy my shirts from Dorothy Perkins because they are about £12, they seem to be saggy over my boobs, which is really unflattering. I generally purchase a size 8 for a tight fit, but because I'm tall I find a size 8 is too short in the body! But a size 10 is too baggy. Occasionally I'll shop around in Topshop and River Island where shirts are more expensive, generally about £25, and find I get a better fit there as they are more tailored. So girls, tips for shirts that fit, is to spend a bit more and definitely shop around.

                        Fitted thirts are generally quite flattering, but again can be too short in the body for me, so I only really look for tops that reach down to my bum!

                        It's a shame that clothes are not a standard size, as with men's clothes. Generally men's trousers are marked by leg length, and are S/M/L/XL. For girl's there are so many more options, but one 'Size 8 Long' will be COMPLETELY different to the same size in a different shop, hence why shopping is such a nightmare. Occasionally I'll find something that fits me perfectly, and it'll will take my bank balance to remind me that I can't afford to buy 7 pairs of the same item! For example, as I've mentioned finding jeans is a nightmare, yet when I was in Dorothy Perkins the other day I decided from impulse to buy a pair of jeans without trying them on (usually a very bad idea!), I did not have time to try them on but they looked nice. They were a Long, and a size 10. Usually Long is too long, so I was pleasantly surprised when I got home to find they fitted. So next time I was in town, I went to Topshop to try on a 10 Long in a pair of their jeans, but they were baggy around the bum and came past my feet!

                        I think the only advice I can give to anyone with this problem is to shop around and try to remain patient. Eventually you're bound to come across something that DOES fit, but it might take a few different shops and plenty of changing room adventures. I'd hope that in the future there will be a way around this - i.e. when you enter a shopping centre you are measured by a pro - bust, waist and legs! And then you are given these measurements and simply go into each shop, give them your measurements and voila! They shall have your item to go!

                        Ordering clothes online for me is a no-no as it is far too risky to spend the money and when it doesn't fit I'll have to spend £5 on postage to send it back. Even shopping in store is a pain because for every trouser/jeans I really like, I'll have to take into the changing room a size 8, a size 10 regular, a size 10 long, and sometimes a 12 if the jeans look quite tight! With tops it isn't so bad, but for abnormal shirts/tshirts that have fancy sleeves or a fancy neck bit that might not fit, I'll have to take in a size 6, 8, and a 10!

                        One thing that really annoys me being the way I am is the reaction I get from other people. I have a couple of 'friends' who are larger than me, and constantly take the mickey when I moan that nothing fits me. They put me down rather than compliment me when telling me I'm as thin as a rake and tall enough to be a model so I have no right to moan about clothing size. Actually, it's not as easy as that! I wish it were! I'm not a model, and have nowhere near the right face to be one, so I'm stuck in a world of pretty, petit people whilst feeling gawky and clumsy. Being tall is no guarantee of being graceful and stunning, no no. Actually it just means that if you trip up, drop something, or generally make a fool of yourself by being clumsy, it's accentuated because there's a lot more of you for everyone to see.

                        Being tall is definitely no walk in the park, and whilst I'm trying my hardest to build up confidence regarding this, it's taking a long time. Maybe if I moved to another country I'd fit in?!

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                        • More +
                          08.12.2009 13:54
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                          5/5!

                          The thought of writing an album review makes me shudder - give me a gig or concert and I can review it in a flash, but when it comes to writing up my opinions of a CD, I haven't got a clue where to begin.

                          However, I'm running out of things to review - I feel like I've covered everything that's going on in my life! So I've decided to move onto the CD and Movie World of Reviews. The Eminem Show is probably the only album I feel I know well enough to write about, so here goes.

                          Rap artist Eminem has been around for over a decade now. He burst into the hiphop/rap scene and created massive controversy and faced ridicule for being a white rapper, fighting against all the black artists such a P. Diddy, D12, Jay-Z, 50 Cent and Dr. Dre, just to name a few. He began his music life releasing The Slim Shady LP once he was signed up to a major record label, and it won a Grammy. When he followed this up with The Marshall Mathers LP, this became the fastest selling hiphop/rap album EVER. Pretty impressive. Eminem's real name is Marshall Mathers, and he uses a mixture of these two names, as well as Slim Shady, another nickname.

                          Eminem released The Eminem Show in 2002. It sold over a million copies very quickly, and was a bit more playful than his latest two albums (mentioned above). The Slim Shady/Marshall Mathers LPs were very serious, about guns, suicide, killing, how much he hates his mum and family and wants them dead (not nice..), and how he hated other artists. The Eminem Show's first released single was 'Without Me'. In the video of this Eminem and Dr. Dre dress up cartoon-like as Batman and Robin, and there are some very funny scenes, so immediately we see Eminem might be changing direction, getting a little more mainstream, possibly so more kids/teenagers would enjoy his music. Still about guns and violence, but less about killing people's mothers and doing unpleasant sexual acts to chickens and whatnot!

                          There were some pretty big songs on this album, with Aerosmith's Steve Tyler, guitar-soloing on 'Sing For The Moment', D12 guesting on 'When the Music Stops', and other songs starring Dr. Dre, and Nate Dogg, both famous on the hiphop scene.

                          I didn't really want to do a boring song-by-song write up, but considering how many songs there are on this album alongside many 'skits', I felt it necessary. So, beginning with no. 1....

                          1. Curtains Up (Skit)

                          This first song is a skit. On Eminem's albums, a skit is a very small piece of audio, generally with him talking to someone, i.e. his record producer, his manager, Dr. Dre, his girlfriend, etc. They fit in between Eminem's songs as though telling a story. This beginning skit features the sound of curtain's being pulled apart in a theatre, reflecting the title of the track, followed by footsteps across a stage. Ken Kaniff, who is Eminem's alter ego, introduces Eminem. It is very short, only 20 seconds or so, but sets the scene for Eminem's first song, which it swiftly moves into.

                          2. White America

                          As I said, this song is swiftly drawn into straight after Curtains Up. The explosive introduction is actually a nice wake up call for anyone who fell asleep during the non-exciting first skit. This is the first proper song on the album and beings with Eminem shouting "WHITE AMERRICCA". The first verse is spoken by Em, as though he's announcing a speech. He talks about "the women and men who have risked their necks... for the United States Government" and asks how many are proud to be a citizen of America. We can recognise he's going to be talking about some serious issues, as is usual to Eminem, though he doesn't normally start on the politics right away! The lyrics draw down to him talking about how far he's come in the rap scene considering he's white, and how it's silly that people take what he raps about literally.

                          The bass and drums are quite heavy to begin with and especially in the chorus, and create a very solid beat behind the song. The chorus is really catchy, despite being a very angry song! Eminem sounds pretty aggressive throughout, emphasising the lyrics. This is definitely a big and bold song to kick start the album and really gets you in the right mood for the rest of the songs.

                          3. Business

                          The contrast between this song and the previous one is immense! The last song was angry, aggressive, and really showed a serious side of Em. This one begins with Dr. Dre saying urgently, "Marshall, sounds like an SOS"... to which Em replies "Holy whack, unlyrical lyrics, Andre, you're right!", then "To the rapmobile, let's go!". It is a highly comical start, and if you've seen the 'Without Me' vid of Em and Dre dressed up at Batman and Robin, you can immediately picture them in that dress-up again!

                          Right after that dialogue, we hear police/ambulance sirens, girls singing sweetly "Marshall!... Marshall!", just to add to the comedy, as though Em is a superhero.

                          The beat to this song is very clean and solid, with a nice bouncey bass. It's not as serious as the first song, this track is easygoing and really wants you to dance in your most hilarious hiphop moves. The lyrics are quite simple, snappy, and to the point. The chorus begins "So let's get down to business...". He seems to be talking about the music scene and how full of cheats and liars it is, and taking the mikey about it, of course, in true Eminem stylee!

                          4. Cleanin' Out My Closet

                          This is one of the songs that was released as a single, and was highly popular. Another angry song full of aggression, he mainly raps about his personal life in this song, particularly about his mother. For those who know Eminem's story know that he and his mother completely detest each other, and in this track he tells the world what an awful mother she is, and she will never see his daughter, Hailie.

                          He raps of everyone hating him and discriminating against him, how so many parents are against him because of what he talks about in his songs and because of how much he swears, but he says he's not "taking nothin' from no one", just ignoring them and carrying on doing what he's doing. He also talks of his ex and mother of his daughter, Kim, and how she was a mistake as she cheated on him. There's a lot of emotion put into this song which we can hear through Em's aggression.

                          The beat of this song is a mixture of rapid and slow, and no real element really shines out here, as it's putting emphasis on his voice and the lyrics. The chorus is quite playful, music-wise, and simply contains a set of chords that is repeated, whilst Eminem sings over the top. The bassline is quite jazzy in this song and gives a good underbeat to it. (When I say jazzy, I don't mean jazz, I mean it's quite lively and funky!).

                          5. Square Dance

                          Based quite heavily on terrorism and the American Government (a recurring theme!), this song is actually one I'm not particularly keen on myself.

                          The track begins quite interestingly, with a unique synth sound and Eminem shouting over the top. Once it starts, it does have quite a dead sounding verse with some aggressive lyrics which I found to be a bit boring, it does however have quite a fun, bouncy melody on the chorus, where Em puts on a comedic Southern American accent. Almost every line in this song rhymes perfectly, whereas usually Em's lyrics are just closely rhymed, so this track doesn't sound altogether meaningful, despite being about such a serious topic. Perhaps Eminem wanted this effect - to make the Government and terrorism sound so simple, in comparison to the massive debates held about each issue.

                          6. The Kiss (Skit)

                          This skit sets the scene by allowing us to envisage what's happening: Em and his mate sitting in a car park, waiting for something. We can hear their dialogue over a car radio. Eminem sees his girlfriend's car parked up somewhere, clearly where it's not meant to be, and he's saying "I'm gonna kill (her)... I'm gonna kill (her)", and Em's friend saying he's got a bad feeling about what they're doing. We then know that Eminem's got a gun by his friend's reaction "What the **** did you bring that for?!" and we know something bad is going to happen.

                          20 seconds on a war/military drum roll begins over the dialogue, creating tension.. then Em sees his girlfriend kiss a guy. The beat speeds up, the volume increases, we hear Eminem shouting angrily, and the drum roll then continues right into...

                          7. Soldier

                          ... this song. I really love how they do this, swooping from The Kiss right into Soldier, because it really adds to the whole story thing that Em's going for. This song is quite intense, and actually a bit mainstream-sounding compared to some other songs by him off this album. It's quite simple, the lyrics aren't really anything special, and the distinctive drum roll from the skit turns into a fast-paced snappy drum beat that really carries the song.

                          The lyrics are angry and basically saying how he doesn't take any rubbish off anyone, and not afraid to stand up for himself. The title of the song reflects how he feels, he's a soldier, fighting against the world so he can just be happy with his little girl, even if it means he's got to take a few people down to get there. A bit of a controversial song from that aspect, and it does contain a lot of swearing to emphasise his anger at the world.

                          This song has got a good beat, but the lyrics are quite similar to a few other songs - nothing new he's rapping about here.

                          8. Say Goodbye Hollywood

                          Another song about his personal life, and a song I'm not particularly keen on, though it is quite catchy. The track begins with repetitions of the title... "Saying goodbye, saying goodbye to Hollywood, Saying goodbye, Saying goodbye to Hollywood" and then another voice of Em's comes over the top "Holllyyyywoood... why do I feel this way?", and then the song begins.

                          I think the reason for my dislike of this song is the lyrics and his tone of voice in the verse - he sounds quite droney and disinterested the way in which he's rapping. He talks of his ex-wife Kim, saying he thought he was tough enough to cope with it, and he should've been strong enough to leave but he wasn't. I believe he's talking about a time when he got in a fight because his wife cheated on him, and he was facing a jail sentence.

                          I think his lyrics are trying to say he's turning his back on that way of living - being in fights, being violent, and most importantly he wants to quit the fame that turned him into this, hence 'Saying Goodbye to Hollywood'. At the end he brings up his daughter Hailie, saying he just wanted to give her a great life, one that he never had.

                          The chorus is repetitve but quite catchy, but as I said, the verse is quite boring, luckily it's only a short song compared to others on the album though otherwise it'd be even more boring!

                          9. Drips

                          This song is definitely one you don't want to have playing if your gran's about! Featuring Obie Trice, one of Em's friends and who guests in a lot of his songs, this song is mainly about one thing: sex. Obie raps about a girl who he was with who gave him a sexually transmitted infection because she was sleeping with someone else, calling her many awful names! Whilst Obie is a good artist, I think when Em comes in and raps the second verse, the comparison is great - Eminem is King. Top of his game. It is a rude song, but if you put the lyrics aside, the backing beat and main melody are excellent, definitely something you could find in a club that would really get everyone dancing. It's a bit experimentative with instruments too, rather than just being guitar and drums.

                          Back to the lyrics - it could be that rather than just being crude, Em is sending out a message - be careful who you sleep with; use protection, etc etc, though actually I think this is just another song where Em is singing about how much he hates women and think they always cheat!

                          The words in this track really POP out, just the way Em and Obie talk about this subject, they really emphasis the end of each line, really making you listen and pay attention.

                          10. Without Me

                          Possibly the most famous and well-known track on the album, this was the first single off the album to be released in 2002, and reached no. 1 in the charts. As mentioned previously, in the video we see Dre and Em dressed up as Batman and Robin very comedically. I believe the moral behind the song is that Em is back to save the world! If not the world, then the music industry. In the video, Em takes the mickey out of quite a few people, though I won't go into details because this is about the song not the video.

                          The melody is rapid and upbeat, both on the verse and chorus, and Em raps very quickly over the top to emphasis this. It is bouncy and really gets you moving, and was popular at the time in bars and clubs throughout the UK (I'm not sure about anywhere else!).

                          The lyrics are quite offensive, and he disses quite a few people well-known people/artists, like Moby and Limp Bizkit. He also makes a few comparisons between himself and Elvis - about how they're both white yet struggling to make it big in a mainly African-American founded music industry. However he doesn't put it in a way that makes them both sound like heroes, he claims they're both "doing black music selfishly", to make themselves "wealthy"!

                          11. Paul Rosenborg (Skit)

                          Paul Rosenborg is Em's manager, and has appeared previously on his albums it little skits. Here, he is heard leaving Em a voicemail message saying he heard that Eminem was out shooting a neighbourhood up! He tells Em to not take his gun out and to leave it at home, as though it's an angry parent telling off his/her child. It is all in the name of comedy and mocks the whole hiphop scene as supposedly they're all meant to be carrying guns and shooting people, but Em tries to make a point he's not like that, at least anymore.

                          12. Sing For The Moment

                          This is my favorite track on the whole album. It starts big, continues big, and ends big. I think this was probably the song that had the most thought put into it. So, what makes it so good?

                          The lyrics, for starters. They are so intense, some of them actually give me chills. He talks of such real-to-life stuff, which is a fantastic comparison to other rappers who do only sing about drugs and getting girls. I believe this song is a big hit out at everyone who says Em is teaching kids bad things - bad language, bad behaviour, and bad ideas. Em gets you to envisage a lonely teenager, with disinterested and neglecting parents, no friends, a hard time at school, who basically has nothing. Then he can put on a rap song, and really relate to everything that's being said, he feels like someone, feels like part of the world again. Em questions if it is right to stop kids from listening to this music, when it could be a part of their lives. Em claims that he understands the argument, that the entertainment industry is tainted with bad guys who do influence people to do awful things, but I think he's trying to really push the message across that 'bad' music doesn't create 'bad' people... if those people are already 'bad', nothing will stop them shooting up a neighbourhood, or doing drugs, etc. It is an old, controversial debate that has been ongoing for years since this type of music came out, but not many have actually sung about it in such a serious manner, so congrats to Em for doing so.

                          The music behind the lyrics is really incredible, with a really intense melody, bassline and guitar licks. It doesn't overpower the lyrics, and it is emphasised that this song REALLY is about the words, and the music adds so beautifully to that. The music is a bit depressing when you really listen to it, but again, this is only to really incorporate how important the meaning is, and should be paid attention to. Em is basically saying that there is a minority who will take Em's words seriously and literally, but those people are ruining it for everyone else who knows you don't go and shoot someone just because "Eminem does". There have been loads of court cases about this, where people have blamed people such as Eminem and Marilyn Manson for being the reason they commit crimes, and this is Em's fight against it.

                          After three verses and a few choruses comes the really amazing part of the song: Steve Tyler from Aerosmith performs an outstanding guitar solo. Whilst really impressive guitarists may say the solo wasn't "that good" (as I've heard people say), it fits in with the song so well, and compliments the meaning behind the song and the rest of the music so perfectly. The guitar solo actually gives me goose bumps every time I hear it!

                          This song has been produced so well, making me Eminem's No. 1 song for me, and actually one of my favorite songs of all time.

                          13. Superman

                          RnB singer Dina Rae features in this song, singing at the beginning and at the chorus, and she sings as if she's one of Eminem's girlfriends. I don't know if she is impersonating anyone in particular, but the track begins with the two of them talking as if they are about to get together, with some dirty talk, and then a sexy chorus which is more conversation between them, then suddenly Eminem turns aggressive and says "B**** you make me hurl", and then of course we realise that the song isn't about Em finding love ever after, it's another song dissing all the cheating women he's been with!

                          There's a great melody behind the lyrics and it's quite sincere and intense, compared to some of the other tracks. A sexy guitar lick plays through the intro and chorus, and just in generally, this song is pure sexy! Though you might not want to use it as date music as Em shouts out things like "I'd never let another chick bring me down" and "b**** if you died, I wouldn't buy you life", etc etc! It isn't a pleasant song, but the concept behind the lyrics does work really well with the lusty bassline and drum beat. I really like this song, but again, not a song to play in front of grandma!

                          I think what he's saying in this song is that he doesn't trust women - he's happy to sleep with them but does not want relationships because they cheat. Obviously this is a big generalisation! But Em is very controversial, so he's probably quite happy about the backlash he might get for this song!

                          14. Hailie's Song

                          This is a really beautiful song on the album. It begins with Eminem saying he loves his daughter, and he knows he can't sing, but he wants to sing her a song. (His daughter's name is Hailie in case you didn't know).

                          The lyrics in this song are quite moving, as he sings about how difficult life is and how much pressure there is on him, but once he's with his daughter all of that disappears and he can be happy. He also sings about how no one understands him, and he can't be his real self to the world because of that reason, but, again, with Hailie everything is okay. The lyrics are really sweet and I'm sure any parent can relate. If anyone knows Eminem's real story, they'll know he's had a constant struggle with gaining custody of his daughter, despite the fact that Hailie's mum apparently wasn't fit to be a mother. Em got custody a couple of years ago, and has since brought out a couple of songs regarding his daughter.

                          The melody of this song is quite soft, and has a verse-chorus-verse structure of him singing how much he loves Hailie-Jade. The bassline is quite bouncy and makes you sway your head. After a couple of repeats verse-chorus, etc, he launches into a rap. This rap is a lot more fast-paced and his lyrics are quite angry, as he raps about how much he hates Hailie's mum, how difficult she's made his life. He raps as though he's talking to his daughter, and explains that from what everyone else will say, she'll assume he's a "pistol-packin' drug-addict who bags on his mama". He explains to her things are difficult for him, and that isn't really him, just how he comes across.

                          He wrote this song intending to store it away for Hailie to listen to when she's older, but Dr. Dre encouraged him to put it on the album. I think it was a great idea, as it shows a completely different side to Em, and shows that he's actually loving and caring when it comes to family matters, even if he appears to be all aggressive and violent.

                          15. Steve Berman (Skit)

                          This is a follow-up to another skit featuring Steve Berman on Eminem's previous album. Steve Berman is a record executive who decides whether or not to take on Em's albums to sell. On the previous album where there is another skit with Steve Berman, Berman tells Eminem that the album is awful, wouldn't sell, etc. He tells Em that Dre is selling records about girls, drugs and having a good time and he's making millions, whereas Eminem's album was rubbish and wouldn't be able sell anything. Back to present day, in this skit, we hear Em knocking on Berman's door, and they begin a conversation. Clearly, Berman has only just listened to Em's album and is about to give his opinion on it. Berman begins to speak, but because Em assumes he's going to say something bad, Em shoots him. As Berman is dying, he tells Em that the album is the most incredible thing he's ever heard. Oh, the irony!

                          It is humorous, a bit disgusting with the sounds of Berman dying, but just clever the way it is done and how it follows on from the previous album, incorporating the whole 'telling a story' idea behind these skits. The sound effects are great and the gun shot sounds very realistic!

                          16. When The Music Stops

                          The meaning behind this song is very clear - Em is speaking out how there is a big difference between music/hiphop and real life, but some of the people who listen to this type of music find it hard to tell the difference. This song features D12, an excellent hiphop band who have worked with Em before, and the fact there are so many people singing in the song gives it a completely different tone and feeling.

                          The lyrics are important in putting across that everything they rap about isn't real, but 'when the music stops' some people forget that rule and carry the violence and drugs on into real life. The way how each rapper gets their own verse to sing in has a very community feel and you get the idea that Em is close to D12 - they'd all have each other's backs in a fight, etc.

                          The music behind the lyrics is great - pumping, intense, a really nice rapid beat to get you bopping your head. This is one of my favorite songs off the album.

                          17. Say What You Say

                          Eminem produced most of the songs off this album, but this one was actually produced by Dr. Dre, and he guests in it too. Em and Dre take it in turns to rap through this song. It's got a nice beat behind it, quite definitive and sharp compared to some other songs that are a bit clumsier.

                          The lyrics are very metaphorical ("I was born to brew up storms") and yet literal at the same time (the first line of the second verse is, "Second verse, it gets worse", so maybe there's a bit more meaning behind these lyrics than some other songs, which is probably Dre's influence.

                          18. Till I Collapse

                          This is a very angry song on this album - the words are thrown out aggressively by both Eminem and Nate Dogg, who guests in this song.

                          The bassline and melody are quite heavy and thumpy (that's not a word but I hope you understand what I mean!), the sort of song you might hear blasting from a Punto or a Saxo loudly at a car park (not that I'm stereotyping or anything!). As I said, angry song, grouchy lyrics over hostile-played instruments.

                          The lyrics of this song comprise of Em saying he's going to keep on going until he 'collapses', which could be a metaphor for he's going to keep trying/keep on going either until it gets too much, until his fans stop following him, or simply until he dies.

                          19. My Dad's Gone Crazy

                          This is the only song off the album where a non-artist stars in a song - Em's daughter Hailie Jade, and she sings in the chorus. It's a bit controversial that this is the case, as plenty of people have asked whether it is appropriate to bring your young daughter (I think she was about 4 at the time) into that seedy world of guns, drugs, swearing, etc. I'm sure Em tries to protect his daughter from that, but I'm sure Hailie would have wanted to listen to herself after, and the song contains swearing elsewhere and some other inappropriate issues are discussed.

                          The lyrics begin quite tame but then head back to the same aggressive nature he has when he raps, he mainly sings about what's p*ssed him off and made him angry in this song, to which Hailie Jade at the end of each verse sings "My dad's gone craaazzzyy!". It is sweet in a way, to hear such a pure, innocent voice amid all the swearing and hate.

                          The beat of the song is bouncy and something to get your head moving to the music. It is a nice song to finish on before the final skit.

                          20. Curtains Close (Skit)

                          As you can probably guess after reading the review of track no. 1, this is the end of the album - the title being a direct opposite to the introduction track title. Again, this skit stars Ken Kaniff. We hear footsteps again, then a small pause before he announces "Without Me" and that is the end of the album. Simple.



                          Even if you don't like Eminem/Marshall Mathers, you've got to admit he has made quite a statement within the world, and has caused many arguments between parents and children everywhere because kids love him, parents hate him. He's seen as the worst influence, but then again, there is that saying 'Any publicity is good publicity'.

                          I think this is a fantastic album, and overall there are only a few songs I do not like, but out of 20 songs, that's not bad! It is a long album, but I think it's great that he's put so much effort in to put so many songs on there - quite a lot of artists nowadays release albums with 8 or so songs, which is nowhere near enough for the £13+ you pay for an individual CD.

                          Each song is different, this is definitely an album full of variety, and the guest rap artists really add to that. Each track has a different beat, different melody, and most importantly, he explores with different instruments which not a lot of rappers do. Overall, a worthy buy.

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