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Tarapea
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Member since: 14.04.2012

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    • Lancome Juicy Tubes / Make Up / 90 Readings / 82 Ratings
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      29.06.2012 21:07
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      A brilliant lip gloss which gives you a lot of quality for your money, but is undeniably expensive.

      Eek, my first proper make up review. Please be gentle with me, good people of Dooyoo!

      There are many copycats out there, but despite being around for ages, Lancome's Juicy Tubes are still a firm favourite and arguably one of the best known lipglosses around.

      I have tried quite a few 'flavours' of Juicy Tube over the years but my favourite is #17 Fraise and this will be the particular shade I'm reviewing here.

      ~~~Lets Start with The Basics~~~

      Lancome is a high end cosmetics brand which has been around since the 1930s, it has been owned by Loreal for the last 48 years.

      Whenever you think of Lancome, most people immediately picture Juicy Tubes. These have become one of Lancome's most well known products over the years, and are a staple in many people's make up bags.

      But what is a Juicy Tube, and why does it sound a bit like an ice lolly? Basically Juicy Tubes are lipglosses, well known for their incredible shine and gorgeous aromas. Each colour/fragrance of lipgloss is named (often in French) after the fruit it's meant to smell like, and its corresponding number. Here's where we see if my GCSE in French holds up as I try to describe the flavours here, try and forgive me if they're all very wrongly translated! The most widely available varieties of Juicy Tubes are #14 Sorbet de Framboise (Raspberry Sorbet), #15 Sorbet de Cerise (Cherry Sorbet), #17 Fraise (Strawberry), #19 Lychee (Lychee, I assume!), #22 Melon, #31 Peche (Peach), #33 Pamplemousse (pretty sure this one's grapefruit, but don't bet your life on it), #94 Caramel Gospel and #95 Marshmallow Electro. There are many other shades in circulation, but these are the most commonly found ones. Some shades are completely transparent while others have a very gentle shimmering sheen to them, so there's something to suit everyone.

      The standard size of Juicy Tube is 15ml but Lancome do have tiny sample sized versions that they sometimes give out with purchases. The full sized lipgloss can be bought in many different places, but I usually buy mine from Boots where it retails at £14.50. Alternatively if you'd prefer to shop from Lancome direct, their website have Juicy Tubes for sale at £15.50. Obviously this is a very high price for what is essentially just another lipgloss, but I find the quality to be well worth the cost - it far exceeds any cheaper gloss I've used and I do find one tube lasts me a good few months whereas a less expensive lipgloss would run out on me much quicker.

      ~~~Pretty Packaging~~~

      Juicy Tubes have come in quite a few different colour packages over the years, some in minimalist silver all the way up to slightly more outrageous colours. I still have one of the limited edition Cherie Juicy Tubes which arrived in a little pink cardboard box with lots of pink, silver and blue flowers and the minutest shiny silver stars. So there are many different colours and lots of pretty designs, but all Juicy Tubes have their standard little cardboard box with Lancome's signature rose icon emblazoned on the front. The boxes are very easy to get into, simply lift the lid and slide the tube right on out.

      ~~~How to Spot a Fake~~~

      Perhaps this is a strange one to add to a review, but almost everyone I know (including myself) has fallen foul of the odd fake make up product, particularly when buying online. Fake Juicy Tubes are big business and while there's nothing wrong with the odd spot of fakery, copycats of branded products are rarely put through the scrupulous safety testing the real stuff faces. For this reason, here's a couple of tips I've picked up a long the way:

      A genuine Juicy Tube always has a serial number stamped on the crimped edge of the tube, even the tiny sample ones. If this is missing, you've found yourself with a fake!

      Another sure sign is the tube itself - Lancome package Juicy Tubes in a very hard shell, the plastic is very firm and puts up quite a bit of resistance when touched. Give yours a squish and if it bends to your every whim (like all good men ;)) then this too could be a fake.

      Real Juicy Tubes have a number as well as the name of the shade printed on the tube. Fakes usually only have a number, and more often than not only on a sticker rather than printed on to the plastic itself.

      Finally, if your tube looks like Lancome have been a bit stingy with the contents, you have in your hands the genuine article. Fake tubes tend to be full up with product, whereas the real deal always has quite a big empty area inside.


      ~~~My Favourite Shade~~~

      I've tried quite a few shades of Juicy Tube, but the flavour I keep coming back to is #17 Fraise.

      This flavour is very true to its strawberry name. The colour in the bottle is a very strong and fresh red, closer in shade to strawberry jam rather than an actual strawberry I'd say, but still pretty close.

      When you squeeze the lipgloss out onto the applicator you can see the colour is still very rich, and you instantly get the heady aroma of strawberry. It doesn't even smell particularly artificial, you can tell straight away what it's supposed to smell like and it's a much nicer scent than I've ever experienced with other lipglosses.

      This particular flavour doesn't have the shimmering qualities that some of the others do, it's a simple sheer red. When you see how strong the colour is on the applicator, it can be a bit of a worry because that would be much too bright for a lipgloss I think, and the first time I used it I was concerned it may look a bit tacky. I had sudden flashbacks to being 13 with lurid red lipgloss and orange hair mascara everywhere. However, once you've applied the gloss it's nowhere near as rich in colour, strangely! It gives the slightest hint of strawberry colour and a whole lot of shine, rather than a fierce block of colour. I find it a really flattering colour, my skin tone is very pale but olivey and I think it's a perfect match for me. But at the same time, I cant really see that it'd not suit anyone, this is quite a gentle and classy colour all round in my opinion.

      ~~~Application and Staying Power~~~

      Juicy Tubes are really easy to apply. The lids are simple twist off caps and they have those built in plastic applicators where you squeeze the gloss out on to it to apply.

      Personally, my experiences in the past with these type of applicators has been quite poor. I find that the lipglosses inside tend to be very gloopy in order to hold themselves onto the applicator, and when you apply it tends to all go on in a thick wedge which you then have to smear across helplessly with your finger. I'd always prefer the old standard sponge tipped wand style of lipgloss before finding the Juicy Tubes, and I'll admit I had plenty of reservations about using them due to their applicator. However, I was greatly surprised! The hard outer shell of the tube made it very easy to squeeze just a tiny bit to get the perfect amount of gloss out, rather than the usual haphazard squidge and resulting gloop everywhere. The texture of the gloss was indeed very thick in appearance, but I gave it the benefit of the doubt. I'm glad I did because it was much easier to put on than I'd imagined; you can even squeeze gently while applying to get more out so it's not a case of chasing one big lump of gloss around your lips with the applicator like a dung-beetle with a poo ball. In fact, it gives great overall coverage in seconds, and I've always been very pleased with it.

      Once on, you can tell the gloss is a thick one, as I said. But in a good way! You can definitely feel it on your lips, but unlike with some of the thinner glosses it doesn't feel like my lips are soaking wet and about to drip at any moment (always a pleasant experience). Neither does it feel particularly sticky. Okay, if your press your lips together there's a little element of stickiness, it's lipgloss after all. But it's tiny in comparison to other lipglosses I've found and I never notice it throughout the day. Of course, as with all lipglosses if you have long hair a swift breeze can encourage strands of hair onto your lips and result in sticky hair. But with Juicy Tubes, I find this problem to be a lot less, and when it does happen I don't have to prize my hair off my lips either.

      I love the subtle colour Juicy Tubes give, but it's nothing to the intense shine. It feels quite matte on your lips but it's lovely and glossy to look at, without being too much. You're not going to be having people check their reflections in your top lip or anything like that, I think it's the perfect amount of shine to look classy.

      As for staying power, I find them to be very good. Lipglosses are never going to stay on as long as a lipstick but in my experience Juicy Tubes will last you a good few hours before you need to reapply which for me is great.

      ~~~Conclusion~~~

      Juicy Tubes are gorgeous lipglosses, offering a little colour and an immense amount of shine without being overly sticky. They're easy to apply, last a good while and a little will go a long way. However you cant get away from the fact these are very expensive, so it depends how much you like them as to whether you think they're worth it. Personally I do :)

      Thanks for reading!

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      • More +
        25.06.2012 15:57
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        A great way to exfoliate your lips, I recommend it :)

        It doesn't take much to get a case of dry, chapped lips. I've always used the age old 'rub sugar into your lips' trick, but that does leave your lips looking like a giant fruit pastille so when I spotted The Body Shop's Lipscuff I quickly added it to my basket.

        ~~~The Basics~~~

        Lipscuff is exactly what it sounds like - a lip exfoliator, but it does claim to moisturise too.

        The packaging has changed from the above picture now, but it's still the same product. These days Lipscuff comes with a classy slanted chrome lid, looking very much like an expensive lipstick. The entire thing fits happily into my closed palm, so as you can gather its basically the shape of a standard lipstick, just a little smaller. Also The Body Shop have changed the shape of the product itself as it now comes with a flat top that sits flush to the tube, rather than the pointed tip shown above. This makes it much easier to apply because you do apply it more firmly than you would a lipstick, and with a pointed tip it was prone to breakages.

        It's an expensive product at £8 for 2.5g but a little does go a long way, my current Lipscuff is only about half gone and I've had it for about 4 months now. Obviously this is only available at The Body Shop as it's one of their branded products, but I'm sure you could pick it up on eBay too if you chose to.

        ~~~Beneath The Lid~~~

        When you pop the lid off and twist the tube up (which is very easy to do, exactly like a lipstick) you'll be greeted with a spearmint green colour stick. A bit alarming at first, is this some kind of Martian lipstick? In fact if you sniff it you'll even get quite a strong whiff of mint. If you look closely you'll probably spot little brown flecks in the stick, which is of course, the exfoliating bits.

        Prepare yourself guys, here comes the long, boring list of ingredients:

        Hydrogenated Coconut Oil (Emollient/Hair Conditioner), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Emollient), Candelilla Cera (Candelilla Wax) (Stabiliser), Ethyl Macadamiate (Ethyl Macadamiate) (Skin Conditioning Agent), Octyl Methoxycinnamate (Sunscreen), Cera Alba (Beeswax) (Emulsifier/Emollient), Sclerocarya birrea (Marula Oil) (Skin Conditioning Agent), Bis-PEG-12 Dimethicone Candelillate (Skin Conditioning Agent), Polyethylene (Opacifier), Polymethylsilsesquioxane (Opacifying Agent), Lanolin Oil (Skin Conditioning Agent), Stearalkonium Hectorite (Viscosity Modifier), Ficus carica (Skin Conditioning Agent), Boron Nitride (Bulking Agent), Carnauba (Copernica Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax) (Stabiliser/Viscosity Modifier), Ricinus communis (Castor Oil) (Emollient), Propylene Carbonate (Solvent), Mentha viridis (Fragrance Ingredient), Mentha piperita (Peppermint Oil) (Fragrance/Essential Oil), Menthyl Lactate (Fragrance Ingredient), Ammonium Glycyrrhizate (Flavour), Limonene (Fragrance Ingredient), Linalool (Fragrance Ingredient), CI 77891 (Colour), CI 19140 (Colour), CI 42090 (Colour).

        If you managed to wade through that list and make it out the other side, congratulations!

        Regular users of Lush and/or The Body Shop will immediately spot the negatives here - this product contains castor oil, lanolin oil and linaool, which some people like to avoid. As you can see this also contains beeswax, unfortunately making it unsuitable for vegans.

        Despite me describing the colour as spearmint green, this actually contains peppermint oil as noted above, so this is what gives Lipscuff its heady aroma. We can also see from the ingredients list that this contains sunscreen and that the brown exfoliating parts of the stick are actually crushed fig stones so very natural indeed.

        The last ingredient I want to mention here is the Marula oil. The Body Shop states that this is Fairtrade and is made by the Eudafano Women's Co-operative in Namibia. According to their website: 'By setting up their own factory, the 5,000 women members have gained entrepreneurial skills and, they tell us, a newfound self-esteem'. If that's not something to be proud of, nothing is.

        ~~~In Use~~~

        The general idea is that you twist the stick up, apply Lipscuff like your usual lipstick or balm, rub your lips together and then blot the product away with a tissue.

        However I do things a little differently, because that's just how I roll. First off I like to apply a good thick layer of the Lipscuff, no meagre portions here. Once on you can feel the slight tingle of the peppermint oil and smell it very strongly, but I find it really pleasant. You can also feel that this is a very rich product, so I suppose The Body Shop were telling the truth when they claim this is moisturising. During application you do get the slight sensation the exfoliant, it drags across your lips a little as you put the Lipscuff on. Despite the fact that the crushed fig stones do have quite a rough texture, I find that just rubbing my lips together isn't enough to exfoliate, personally. So I tend to rub the Lipscuff into my lips with a clean finger, using gentle circular motions, just as you would apply a normal body exfoliator. With this technique, you can really feel the fig rubbing against your lips and generally doing a good job.

        Lipscuff does leave a slight creamy tint and brown flecks on your lips, so it's definitely one you'll want to remove once you're done. Once I've finished applying, I remove the product with a baby wipe or a wet flannel. I have very sensitive skin and I found that if I just removed it with a tissue as directed it would leave a little of the scuff behind and irritate my skin quite badly. If your skin isn't quite so sensitive you might not have this problem, but I'd definitely recommend a baby wipe rather than a tissue if you do.

        Once removed I always find my lips have quite a red, harsh look as if they've been scrubbed to within an inch of their life, which I suppose they have. I like to apply a good layer of lip balm after application to keep my lips smooth, and I find that within a few minutes the redness has gone. Again, this could just be my sensitive skin, but I find no lasting soreness with the product.

        ~~~Does It Work?~~~

        Well, I definitely notice a difference.

        I suffer quite badly with cracked lips and one healthy application of this always gets rid of any dry flakes (height of sexiness, right there) and leaves me with soft, smooth lips.

        Personally I find the fig stones to be a very strong exfoliant that is more that enough for my lips, but without making them too sore. As I said, I do have pathetically sensitive skin and I've never noticed any problems as long as I remove the Lipscuff properly. The moisturising aspect of the product is probably what stops this from being too harsh, as it glides on easily and has a really thick texture, not dissimilar to one of The Body Shop lip butters. Having said that, I still like to apply a lip balm after using the Lipscuff so I obviously don't find its moisturising properties enough on their own.

        ~~~Any Downsides?~~~

        Just one. Lipscuff is a very soft product, and if its left somewhere warm or the lid is applied wrongly the stick is prone to getting a bit squished out of shape. This isn't really a massive issue though because you can just run your finger over the top of it and mould it back into a usable shape, but it can get a little annoying.



        ~~~Conclusion~~~

        This is a lovely addition to any beautiful regime and gives you soft, flake-free lips without any hassle at all. Its lipstick style casing makes it easy to fit into your make up bag, and the fig stones offer fantastic exfolation without being too harsh. Just don't leave it out in the sun!

        Thanks for reading :)

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        • Lucozade Energy / Soft Drink / 88 Readings / 84 Ratings
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          23.06.2012 18:47
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          Tastes great and gives you a bit of energy, but be careful of your teeth!

          Lucozade's come a long way over the years, starting out as a health tonic and now considered more as a sports drink. Even so, if you're unwell with a bug absolutely everyone around you will advise you get yourself some good old Lucozade.

          ~~~So, what have we got here?~~~

          Lucozade Energy is the original variety of Lucozade, it's a fizzy soft drink which comes in many different flavours including Original, Orange, Blackcurrant, Apple, Cherry, Cola, Mixed Berries and Tropical Crush. My personal favourite is the Original flavour, and that's the one I'll be reviewing here.

          The drink comes in standard plastic bottles, in sizes such as 380ml (usually sold in a six pack), 500ml and 1 litre.

          I usually buy my Lucozade from Asda, where a pack of six 380ml bottles usually sets you back about £2, while 1 litre bottles cost £1 and the 500ml ones are often on offer at 'buy 2 for £1'. However they can be bought at many different places, including Lucozade's online shop which charges £3.70 for a six pack in any of the flavours mentioned above. So these are perhaps a little pricier than other brands of fizzy drinks, but work out similarly priced as things like Coke if you get them on offer.

          ~~~Packaging~~~

          Lucozade Energy comes in standard plastic bottles, but they do have a slight incline in the middle giving them the merest hint of an hourglass shape. This makes them very easy to pick up and hold, and I imagine they'd be very easy to drink from while working out etc, for this reason.

          The colour of the bottle depends on the flavour you buy, my Original bottles are red whereas Orange flavoured offers an orange bottle and so on. The front of the bottle has a very attractive picture of orangey bubbles across it, with the slogan 'Drink. Think. Do.' which I suppose is quite a positive message.

          All the bottles in the range are screw topped and easy to open.

          The bottle has all the information you expect, including ingredients, contact details for the company that make it (GlaxoSmithKline) and nutritional content. Amongst these standard details are the warnings that this product contains sulphites, that it may spill and also that it's not suitable for replacing the fluid lost during diarrhoea, The latter may seem like a strange thing to put on a drinks bottle, but if you're suffering from the stomach flu/food poisoning and are losing fluids you'll need something that replenishes your potassium levels and electrolyte balance to stop you from becoming dehydrated. People often mistakenly believe that Lucozade does this so it's wise to know it doesn't.


          ~~~It's what's on the inside that counts~~~

          ...Or so my mum tells me.

          Lucozade is not a healthy drink. One 380ml bottle of the Original flavour contains 266 calories and 33.1 grams of sugar which is a staggering 37% of a healthy adult's RDA. As I remember it, the Orange flavour was even more calorific. (But don't hold me to that one!) So, not exactly good for dieters! I've seen people down a whole litre bottle of this stuff time and time again, and I can just imagine their dentist rubbing their hands with glee at the amount of fillings they'll soon be needing...

          So there you have the truth - Lucozade is definitely something to enjoy in moderation due to its high calorie and sugar content. However there are times when a massive sugar hit is what you need, and obviously the high glucose content is what makes it a sports drink (and explains why there's not a Diet version too I suppose). Also, despite the fact that Lucozade isn't going to cure you of real dehydration during a virus, it's still something that's recommended. Doctors will still tell you to try small sips of Lucozade or flat Coke, as for some reason it's easier to stomach than water when you're unwell. I believe this is simply just because it's sugary rather than Lucozade containing some magical stomach-healing ingredient. In fact whenever I've found myself in that predicament, Dry Ginger Ale is what I turn to and I find it much better than Lucozade for this purpose.

          Having said that, Lucozade does have a noticeable effect on energy levels. Its high glucose content hits you immediately and gives you an instant sugar rush, leaving you buzzing on adrenaline for a while. So I think if you're using it for during sports, or to lift you up if your energy levels are dragging, this will almost definitely do the job for a short amount of time. Lucozade does contain Caffeine too, so it will have the natural stimulant effect of things like coffee on top of the sugar high. It's worth noting that, much like coffee, if you come to rely on Lucozade constantly you will notice caffeine crashes if you stop drinking it. So the energy Lucozade supplies you with is a sort of 'false energy' but it'll definitely get you through the day.

          ~~~The Look and Taste~~~

          The flavour of Lucozade Original is one that's very unusual and hard to describe (sorry!). It's very sweet, but yet not fruity at all.

          If you take a sip you'll first get the feeling of very gentle bubbles on your tongue, as although this is a fizzy drink it's only very lightly carbonated in my opinion but I find it very pleasant. Next it's the texture you'll notice - it's quite thick and syrup-like in comparison to other soft drinks, but in a nice way. It slips down your throat with ease and is very palatable. There's a slight tang of citrus to this, mixed with the faintest taste of salt once you've swallowed it which may be because it contains a small amount of Potassium Sorbate.

          Okay I'll admit it - Original flavour Lucozade is impossible to describe! But personally I enjoy it, I think it's a nice flavour and despite being heavily sugar laden it's not insipid or sickly in any way. It's quite soothing on the stomach and isn't over-sweet in taste.

          As for the look of it, it's a bright orange liquid, time to call the E-numbers police! We are warned that this contains Sunset Yellow and can cause hyperactivity in children, so it's fair to expect it to be such a bright colour.

          ~~~Conclusion~~~

          Lucozade Energy is a delicious tasting fizzy drink that gives you a good energy boost when you need it, whether for sports, during illness or just for a normal busy day. But its chock full of sugar and calories in order to achieve this, so it loses stars from me because of this, and I personally wouldn't drink it every day.

          Thanks for reading :)

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          • Breville VKJ385 / Kettle / 112 Readings / 108 Ratings
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            15.06.2012 21:41
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            A great kettle at a great price. Perfect for smaller kitchens.

            This past fortnight our house has found itself amidst terrible floods with no way to travel outside without owning scuba diving gear and a PhD in insanity. So when our trusty kettle blew up (for which I accept no responsibility whatsoever...) I looked to Amazon for a swift replacement. In times of flood-like crisis, the British need their tea in a timely manner. Thankfully a few days later it could be delivered by a courier with a big van and very wet feet.

            ~~~The Basics~~~

            The Breville VKJ385 is a polished stainless steel jug kettle. The jug part is quite self explanatory - instead of a domed lid this is shaped very similarly to a water filter jug. I'm not sure what the bonus of this is, but useful to know perhaps.

            The dimensions of the kettle are as follows:

            22.7 Width x 15.3 Depth x 24.7 cm Height.

            I will admit that my first priority was price, as we only use an electrical kettle during the summer months anyway, but secondly our family requires a light kettle. At 900g this one fits the bill nicely.

            The capacity is 1.5 litres which will make around 6 decent sized cups. This is a slightly smaller capacity than we were used to so be sure to check this for yourself before buying, however I believe 1.5 litres is around average.

            Another handy feature this sports is a 3 kilowatt concealed fast-boil element. So not only should this boil speedily, it should be easy to clean too.

            The switch on this kettle is a rather fetching luminous blue, so it can be seen in the dark with ease should you fancy a cuppa at 3am.

            Finally the unit base stores the cord so there are no annoying trailing cables here. The base is also fully rotational so you can lift the kettle with your right or left hand without a struggle.

            ~~~The price of a good cuppa?~~~

            If you buy this from Amazon as I did, this currently retails at £17. I think that's a brilliant price for a big name brand and for stainless steel and I was very happy to pay it.

            A quick look around tells me that this is available from other places such as Sainsburys and Tesco for about £19.99 while Asda and John Lewis both have the kettle for £17 too.

            ~~~Appearances~~~

            For such a reasonably priced kettle, this one is actually very attractive. It looks quite similar to our previous Russell Hobbs one, and I suppose there can't be too much variation when it comes to kettles.

            The stainless steel is highly polished and shiny, and the blue switch stands out nicely with it.

            This does have a water gauge so you can see how much water remains in the kettle without opening the lid, but it's situated on the rear behind the handle which is quite difficult to see. It's also gauged in cups rather than in actual measurements, which isn't a problem, but may not be preferable to some. Meanwhile the handle itself is very thick and wide, meaning it's really easy to pick up and hold, which is a bonus.

            The button to open the lid is found on the top of the handle, while the lid has a slight indent on it to make its closure easy and convenient. I suppose here is where the jug kettle's flat lid becomes noticeable, because the entire top of the kettle lifts up rather than just the small dome, as it is with conventional shaped kettles. This makes pouring the water in a very simple task - no tipping water everywhere here!

            The size of the kettle itself was a pleasant surprise too. As you may have already guessed from the measurements, this is actually quite a dinky unit. It's almost half the size of our old kettle, but with its 1.5 litre capacity it's clearly just been designed to be space saving rather than compromising on internal size. Make no mistake, this isn't a travel kettle! Space is very limited in our kitchen, if you have a similar problem you'll find this kettle might be the right one for you.

            ~~~In Use~~~

            Before using the kettle for the first time, the instructions advise that you fill the kettle up to the maximum line, boil and discard the water. It tells us to do this twice, to remove any left over residue from the manufacturing. With this done, the kettle is ready for use.

            It's very easy to press the button, and the lid swings open instantly. So far so good.

            Filling is also a doddle, with no spillages due to the large opening of the lid. However as I said earlier, it's hard to see how much has been filled by the gauge meter without craning your neck, so we prefer to just look inside instead.

            Nothing was mentioned on the advertising about this kettle being quiet whatsoever, and there's no denying that electric kettles create quite a din. However the Breville is practically whisper quiet in comparison to our old Russell Hobbs. As it begins to heat up more the noise gets louder, and of course, it is loud, but definitely much quieter than previous kettles. The relative quietness of the boiling means you may be able to get away with making yourself a sneaky tea without offering anyone else one... ;)


            But what about that fast-boil element? Well for the purposes of this review, I have found the following: (oh, the things I do for Dooyoo...)

            With the water gauge filled to the '2 cups' line, this took exactly 65 seconds to boil.

            Now, I don't know the speed of every individual kettle in the world (but what a talent that wouldn't be!), but I think that the Breville is pretty quick to boil. It seems quicker than our previous model, and no one seems to be hanging around the kettle holding an empty mug and begging, so I'd say it boils in perfect time for us here with no complaints. Fast-boil element indeed.

            As with most kettles, when this has boiled the lovely blue switches clicks and turns itself off.

            Lifting the kettle to pour is a simple experience too, and I can confirm that this is a very light-weight model particularly in comparison to others we've had. It doesn't need to be tipped almost vertically to get any water out either, a fault I've noticed before.

            On the first day we had this kettle, the drinks made with it seemed to have a plastic-y taste to them. However by the next day this was gone, and it hasn't returned since, so I'm happy to assume it was just New Kettle Syndrome. If you experience the same thing, it should pass quickly. Perhaps a few more boils before use as per the instructions would have fixed this mild issue.


            ~~~Warranty and Warnings~~~

            Breville offer a 1 year standard guarantee with this model.

            The instructions warn that if the kettle is overfilled beyond its maximum line, water may be ejected from the spout during boiling, so definitely one to watch out for.

            Something I was very glad to notice was that this model has a built in fail-safe device that switches the kettle off if it should be accidentally dry boiled/boiled with no water in, stopping it from breaking. During my teenage years, I was known (un)affectionately as the Kettle Killer due to my track record of five blown up kettles thanks to dry boiling so this mechanism pleased me no end.


            ~~~Conclusion~~~

            All in all, I'm very pleased with this kettle. Kettles aren't exactly the most complex purchase, but this model seems to offer great functionality at a great price, and is aesthetically pleasing too. The only real downside that I can see is the difficulty in seeing the water gauge, but this is a minor flaw.

            Thanks for reading :)

            [Please note: I have no idea why Dooyoo asks me to rate the picture and sound quality of a kettle! So i've awarded it five stars to stay in-keeping with the other ratings.]

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            • More +
              13.06.2012 19:56
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              A brilliant handheld vacuum cleaner. I recommend it :)

              There are many reasons to consider owning a hand-held mini vacuum cleaner, even though some people may wonder the point of them. If you own pets, messy children, to clean out the car, cleaning hard to reach areas with less effort... Many bonuses, as long as you pick the right one. Some cleaners are more minor dust busters, with about as much power as a gnat's breath (an asthmatic gnat, judging by the one I tried before the Vax). Others are much higher powered, including this little mean machine.

              ~~A bit of boring background~~~

              Vax is a well known brand of vacuums and carpet cleaners. Based in Hong Kong, they've been around since the 1970s. I own both the Gator hand-held, and a carpet washer/cleaner from the brand and my overall opinion of them is that they make reasonable quality, well powered products with a cheap plastic-y outer design.

              My reason for buying the Gator? I wanted something that was light to hold, but powerful, to clean my bedroom and keep things tidy without having to have the standard vacuum cleaner in here.

              ~~~Where can I get one?~~~

              I purchased my Gator from Amazon, where it's currently retailing at £33.91. At Vax direct, B&Q and other places this is priced at £49.99 so I believe the Amazon price to be very reasonable. This is a very similar price to what I paid around a year ago, so clearly the Gator has held its value well.


              ~~~Keeping up appearances~~~

              The Vax Gator is a funny orange looking creature with a transparent grey bottom to it.

              The words 'Gator 10.8 V' are emblazoned on the side of the unit. Meanwhile, the on/off switch is located on the handle, the removable filter tab is on the top, and the buttons to disassemble the unit and empty it are either side of the product, with a squeeze to open mechanism.

              All the buttons are grey, which, when coupled with the rather unusual orange body seem to create quite a smart looking piece of equipment. Somehow the name Gator seems to suit it - it's quite a mean, no-nonsense looking thing. I wasn't really fussed by the appearance of the vacuum, but I like it all the same.

              The hand-held arrives in a very long cardboard box which could be useful for storage, but personally I find the vacuum to be very small and unobtrusive, so I'm happy to leave it about the house.

              ~~~Functions~~~

              As already mentioned, the Gator is powered by a 10.8V motor. This isn't something that means a lot to me, but in practical terms I've found it incredibly powerful and more than enough to cope with day to day uses.

              According to the manual, the vacuum itself weighs a minute 1.24 kg. As this was an important feature to me, I researched it at length, and some of the high end hand-held cleaners weigh a staggering amount more than this. I find the Gator to be extremely lightweight, and easy to push along the carpet and other areas without really having to lift much of its weight in your hand anyway. Due to the chunkiness of the unit, it can be operated two handed if needs be.

              Another useful feature is that this is a cordless device, no more trailing cables everywhere! I had noticed that the corded hand-helds tended to be more powerful, whereas wireless ones lacked in power judging by the reviews, but again, I'm more than happy with the Gator's power. It's easy to charge too - charged by AC mains adapter, you simply plug it into the end of the handle and wait for the light to go from red to green. I find it does need to be charged overnight usually, but if I use it every other day or so I find it only needs charging every 3 weeks roughly. So constant draining of the battery isn't an issue here either.

              The internal capacity of the unit is 0.2 litres, which sounds a tiny amount, but it's also very easy to empty so this shouldn't be too much of an issue for most people. All you need to do is squeeze the two buttons, at which point the 'mouth' of the vacuum slides open and can be emptied into a bin with ease. If there's still a lot of dust or debris in there, a quick shake tends to sort it, but the filter can also be removed and cleaned separately to keep things spick and span.

              Hiding in the 'nose' of Gator is a pull-out narrower crevice tool, perfect for use in corners and smaller areas that the chunky unit cannot otherwise reach properly. The vacuum also comes with a separate accessory -a small square brush, not dissimilar to the brush attachments on standard vacuums. This slots into the crevice tool and is brilliant for use on carpets.


              ~~~It talks the talk, but can it walk the walk?~~~

              Well yes, I think it can.

              This has encountered everything from dust to biscuit crumbs, pet hair to spilled craft materials. It meets them all with a dry sarcastic snigger, a loud purr of its Gator-y engine, and then swallows them all whole. There's been several occasions where its accidentally sucked up a small plastic bag and a memory card while vacuuming the carpet too, so the Gator is certainly not just for dust. It can pick up a number of different spills with ease, and I've yet to be disappointed by it.

              In our house,the Gator is used on carpets, windowsills, on beds, on top of units and it always achieves a pleasing result. I find you don't need to run the vacuum back and forth over the same spot as it generally picks up any mess on the first go - the suction is very powerful.

              The noise it makes is very loud, in my opinion. I would put it at relatively similar to a normal sized vacuum cleaner, which probably isn't a big deal to most people, particularly as its use tends to be in short bursts. However it's certainly not a quiet machine, as the advertising would have had me believe.

              It also has other uses, namely scaring our dog who will bark loudly and square up to Gator, who simply growls mockingly and continues his cleaning duties.

              As previously mentioned, the battery holds its charge for a good amount of time too. When it runs low the vacuum does begin to lose its suction (and noise!) noticeably, but an overnight charge always restores it to its former power.

              I do think the Vax Gator offers a lot of power for a medium range hand-held vacuum, and it performs fantastically.

              ~~~Warranty~~~

              The Gator comes with a fantastic 2 year warranty if you register it on day of purchase, and unfortunately I have had cause to use this.

              After around five months of use, the unit would not charge. When I plugged it in, no light would appear and I could see no reason for this, having not dropped it or noticed anything wrong previously. So I rang Vax, which was pleasantly straight-forward.

              Speaking to one of their team, he apologised for the problem and advised me that there was no repairs possible on the Gators, they were simply replaced if broken. He thought it could possibly be the charger that had an issue rather than the vacuum itself as it was a known problem, but told me that he did not want me to have to wait longer to fix the problem if a new charger did not resolve the issue. He issued me a replacement vacuum and charger to be sent out that very day, and all I had to do was peel the label off the bottom of my own Gator, attach it to the paper that came with the new model and send it back to them. So I didn't even have to return the old model, I was asked to dispose of it or enjoy it if it worked with the new charger. My new vacuum arrived promptly, and as it turns out it was the charger that was the problem (something I don't understand as it's not had rough use), so the household has two Gators now!

              I found this all to be very encouraging and generally great customer service. I've had a lot of experience with customer service where they make the customer feel as if they're lying, and you often have to send the company the broken object before they agree to replace it, leaving you without your item for some time and a feeling of being disbelieved. Not so with Vax. I admit that I'm not very impressed that a problem occurred so quickly, but with a sturdy 2 year warranty backed by fantastic customer service if anything does go wrong, I don't think I'd be too worried about purchasing from Vax in the future. Having now owned the two Gators for a year now, I have noticed no furthers problems with them.

              ~~~Conclusion~~~

              The Vax Gator is a brilliant mid-range hand-held vacuum cleaner. It has immense power and will perform well in normal day-to-day use, and holds its charge very well. It's easy to empty and clean, and the included crevice tools means even the tightest corners can be cleaned using this vacuum. I personally had some problems shortly after purchasing, but Vax customer service rectified it quickly with a pleasant attitude and I would feel happy to buy a Vax branded product again.

              Thanks for reading :)

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                09.06.2012 19:25
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                This makes epilating as comfortable as it's ever going to be!

                I wish I was a man, with only facial hair to worry about. As it is, I'm a woman and society decrees that I must have silky smooth legs and underarms. Anyone that's ever experienced a five o'clock shadow on their armpits will understand why shaving's not my favourite. Waxing is painful - once I lost a massive patch of skin on one leg due to a Veet strip. I still noticed the odd hair left behind as well, so dear old Veet was shoved into the bin. Then there was the time I burnt myself with depilatory cream... I'm a disaster zone when it comes to hair removal, and so I looked to epilation to solve my woes.

                The Braun Silk-epil Xelle 5780 is designed to be a face and body epilator. When purchasing you'll receive the unit itself, an underarm cap, facial and bikini line cap, shaver head and trimmer cap and one 'efficiency pro' cap. Along with that you'll get a cleaning brush, storage bag, cooling ice glove and of course the charging cable. This epilator is a two pin plug affair, so you will have to purchase an adaptor separately. However these are available for under £1 on Amazon and also places like Boots, so they're not tricky to get hold of, it just would have been useful if Braun had have included one.

                This model retails on Amazon for £62.99 currently, but has been closer to £80 in recent months. I notice Amazon advertise this as having new packaging now, but the front picture appears the same. So this is a mid-to upper range epilator. I personally nabbed this in the sale for around £35 a couple of years ago, which was very jammy of me! But I have to say if I had to replace it today I'd be more than happy to pay full price for it. Before going for an expensive choice, I did decide to purchase a £10 Asda epilator with my weekly shop, just to see if I could tolerate the famous epilation pain before I forked out a fortune on a torture device. I regret this immensely, it was agonising and useless. My advice would be that when it comes to epilators, buy a well branded one - the expense is worth it.

                ~~~What does it look like?~~~

                That's an important question - nobody likes an ugly torture device, do they?

                The epilator itself is a cool blue, with deeper blue and white detailing on it. Braun's silk-epil branding is stamped at the bottom, while the middle is dedicated to the 'smart light' and the sliding power button. The smart light is an invaluable tool, it's not a weak yellowy light, but a strong LED (possibly?) white light that shows up every little hair, so you can see clearly and not miss anywhere. There are two speed levels to choose from - speed one is Extra Gentle and speed two is Extra Efficient. So all you need to do it slide the switch up to whichever level you choose, and back down to off when you're done. The switch moves with ease, and the smart light comes on automatically.

                I actually think it's quite an attractive unit, there's no unnecessary writing or buttons - just simple and sleek and yet still quite pretty. It's relatively unisex in blue too, so nothing to stop the menfolk from having a go either. (I've inflicted this on a few males of the species and I can confirm that they all weeped and wailed. Loudly.)

                ~~~In use~~~

                Ouch. Ow. More ow.

                Ok, here's the truth - it hurts. The first time you use an epilator it will hurt a lot more than it ever will again, it's worth just being brave and getting through it, because the results speak for themselves.

                The first time I used the Silk-Epil I opted for the 'Efficiency Pro' cap. It has two little blue rollers which gently pull the hair towards the (40!) tweezers so they can be epilated with the least amount of pain and effort. This cap is perfect for a first use, and in fact I still prefer it now.

                Perhaps I made a mistake here in trying my underarms the first time. But that's what I did - slid the cap into place on the top of the epilator, plugged in the cable at the bottom of the unit, flicked the speed level to 2 and went hammer and tongs at it. I quickly learnt the biggest lesson of epilation - hold your skin taught, ladies! If you don't pull your skin so it's at least a little taught, the tweezers can snag and cut your skin. Now, that hurts.

                The procedure is you keep the skin taut, then glide the epilator gently across the skin. You don't need to press down hard, or push it with force over the area. Just letting it touch your skin, and gliding it across is the best way.

                Underarms are definitely more painful than legs - I actually found doing my legs completely pain-free (honestly!). I cannot vouch for the pain induced by epilating a bikini line - I'm not a fully fledged masochist just yet.

                I noticed that the epilator pulled the hairs out with ease, it wasn't necessary to go over and over the same area. None of the hairs snapped either (something I noticed with a cheaper epilator) - they were pulled straight out from the roots. The smart light makes it very easy to see where you're epilating, so it's rare you'll miss bits and end up with one hairy patch!

                It didn't take too long either! My underarms take me about 10 minutes, whereas my legs are more like 20 minutes.

                I used the ice pack on my first attempt at epilating, and the cooling relief was immediate and welcome. However I haven't used this since, so I do think it's a bit of a novelty.

                ~~~Results~~~

                I find that using this epilator keeps my skin smooth for about a fortnight. By then regrowth begins to show through, but after a few weeks of using the Silk Epil this regrowth was (and continues to be) much finer and softer than the hair was previously.

                There was some noticeable ingrown hairs after use, which did disappoint me. Personally I suffer these more with epilation than I do with waxing, but some healthy exfoliating beforehand helps a lot.

                ~~~Cleaning~~~

                Another downside is that it's tricky to clean the epilating head. The brush does help ease some of the plucked hair out, but it takes a lot of effort.

                The instruction manual suggested the head be cleaned every so often with neat alcohol to keep things hygienic. I clean my epilator by dipping the brush into a little capful of cheap vodka (something vodka drinkers always moan at!) and I've never had a problem with that.

                ~~~Reliability~~~

                I've had the Silk Epil for about two years now, and the only sign of wear and tear is the drawstring of the storage bag has become a little frayed.

                I'm very impressed by the durability of this epilator - I use it every fortnight and yet (so far!) I've not had anything snap, break, or even begin to look shabby. For this reason, and the fact that once you've bought the unit you don't need to pay any more money (unlike, say, waxing), I believe this epilator is great value for money in the long run.

                ~~~To sum up~~~

                Basically, the Braun Silk-epil 5780 is a very durable epilator that should last you a long time. There is some pain involved, but no more than something like waxing, and the results are phenomenal.

                Thanks for reading :)

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                  06.06.2012 01:00
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                  A Finnish band that are well worth a try if you enjoy well written rock :)

                  Poets of the Fall is a Finnish Alternative Rock band. They're relatively unknown in the UK, despite one of their songs being used in the video game Max Payne 2. I think this is a terrible shame, Poets of the Fall (occasionally referred to in this review as 'POTF' to save me from keep typing it!) have long been a secret love of mine and I hope this review may introduce a few people to their music. (Being a bit optimistic there... But if you're even reading this, I'm grateful!)

                  ~~~So, who are they?~~~

                  The Helsinki rockers are Marko Saaresto on vocals, Olli Tukiainen on guitar and Markus Kaarlonen (usually known as Captain) on the keyboard. Yeah, I can't pronounce those surnames either.

                  Their general sound is described as being alternative rock/alternative metal and I think this fits very well, their music has a very European rock flavour so may not be for everyone, but it works for me.

                  So far the band have five albums to date, starting from 2005 with the latest being released in March of this year. Carnival of Rust is the second album by Poets of the Fall.

                  ~~~Album availability~~~

                  So you've decided maybe you'd like to give the album a try. You toodle along to Amazon and find, shockingly, it retails at £30! Yeah, as I said, they're quite unknown here and so their merchandise is relatively rare. If you're interested in giving the band a try, you may do better to try digital downloads. Carnival of Rust is on Amazon downloads at £7.99 at the moment but is available elsewhere.

                  ~~~Tell me more about the album?~~~

                  Carnival of Rust was released in 2006 in Finland. According to the Poets of the Fall official website it took a while to be released elsewhere and didn't reach Germany until mid 2007.

                  The album was in the Finnish Top 40 album charts for around 26 weeks. (Source: POTF official website).

                  The album cover is so eye-catching. A red and white swirly lollipop lies on a bed of leaves in the artwork. At least, it looks like a lollipop. At second glance it could be some kind of swinging pendulum... Perhaps another fan may have their own ideas?

                  All the songs are composed by the artists themselves, so you can rest assured this is a 'proper' band who play and write all their own music.

                  There's definitely a strong theme of love throughout the album, but it also ties in with loss, dystopia, religion and possibly many other themes. I suppose it does all depend on how you perceive each song - I'm a firm believer that everyone finds their own meanings in songs, and as such there could be a hundred different themes in just one piece of music. I'll try to give my own interpretation of the tracks below to give you some idea, though.

                  Something I particularly love about this album is the lyrics. Poets of the Fall have a knack of creating the most clever, witty lyrics. They truly are masters of wordplay in Carnival of Rust, which is possibly why they call themselves Poets...

                  There are a couple of downsides, but they're only slight. Firstly, a lot of the tracks on the album do sound very similar. The album's very easy to listen to as a whole, but you do notice a couple of tracks focusing on a very 'samey' theme. Secondly, despite their amazing wordsmanship, some of POTF's lyrics jar a little in the brain. Not terribly, it's just the occasional phrase doesn't sound quite right, as if it's not been seamlessly translated into English. But for a band for whom English is not their native language, the album is almost perfect and sounds beautiful regardless.

                  ~~~Tracks~~~


                  The track listing is as follows:

                  1. "Fire"
                  2. "Sorry Go 'Round"
                  3. "Carnival of Rust"
                  4. "Locking Up the Sun"
                  5. "Gravity"
                  6. "King of Fools"
                  7. "Roses"
                  8. "Desire"
                  9. "All the Way / 4U"
                  10. "Delicious"
                  11. "Maybe Tomorrow Is a Better Day (Remastered)"
                  12. "Dawn"

                  If you buy the physical album you also get bonus material - the video of Carnival of Rust which is a glorious, theatrical piece of work that I personally really enjoyed. However if you download the album and still want to catch a glimpse of the music video it's on Youtube so it's easy to watch in full there, and I'd highly recommend it.

                  Fire ~ The album kicks off with something that starts gently but soon becomes a frenzied rock song. Fire will pull you in with its catchy chorus:
                  'I feel the fire flare alight inside me
                  Higher so I can see
                  N' aspire to survive this fight in spite of
                  Liars and travesty
                  Oh fire'

                  Sorry Go 'Round ~ This one's immediately faster with a deeper beat. There's a deliciously dark undercurrent running through this song. Personally I think it's a song mocking society. One particular lyric says plenty: 'Everybody want's the fancy car
                  And we've all been told not to run too far
                  But everybody wants to be a rock'n'roll star'

                  Carnival of Rust ~ It's impossible to describe this track. If you listen to one song by Poets of the Fall, please make it this one. It's slow, deep, carnal.. it's classic rock. Some say it's about capitalism, some think it describes a disintegrating relationship.. You'll have to listen and decide for yourself with this one, folks.


                  'I lust for after no disaster can touch, touch us anymore
                  And more than ever, I hope to never fall, where enough is not the same it was before'

                  Locking Up the Sun ~ This track takes the tempo back up again. Strong lyrics and a great riff make this song pretty unforgettable. The theme of this song seems to be about the world searching for a hero to cure its problems, so taking another look at society here.

                  'Is there a hero somewhere, someone who appears and saves the day
                  Someone who holds out a hand and turns back time'



                  Gravity ~ Another classic rock song here, the catchy chorus joins an irresistible beat that seems to make my hips move every time I hear it. This one's comparing love to the force of gravity, so it takes an everyday love song and turns it into something completely different. I love it.

                  'Like gravity like love,
                  You get up after you fall
                  Like gravity like love
                  I'm not afraid anymore'

                  King of Fools ~ Although this is still undeniably rock, this track shows the gentler side to Poets of the Fall. Slow, lingering vocals and a steady but unassuming beat are what you'll find here. Another love song with a twist - to me, this one's about someone in love who worries they're only going to end up hurting their lover.

                  'Could you hold us up if I would drag us down?
                  Resurrect emotions from our past
                  N' if they had a king for fools would you wear the crown?
                  Build us up again and make us last'

                  Roses ~ This a favourite of mine. It's upbeat, yet rich in meaning somehow. I'm not sure it's about roses though ;) If you're religious, you may hear someone being converted back to their religion in this song. I'm not that way inclined, so I just hear beautiful lyrics of someone fighting their way through life.

                  'And so I came to gaze upon the stars, when they were yet unborn
                  And consequently, tear at my old scars, and the mask I had outworn'

                  Desire ~ No hidden meanings here, the opening words are 'This is a song about desire'. Don't keep us in suspense, will you guys? This is a simple acoustic song. It's quite beautiful, but it's not one of my favourites.

                  'Kill sweet desire, faith may numb the trial, but can you run all your life'

                  All the Way 4 U ~ Another acoustic song about love here. But this is beautiful in its own simplicity. I interpret this one as being about unconditional love - no matter what, they're going to love and support you. This could be seen as someone supporting their partner through some kind of illness or problem, but either way, it's lovely.

                  'You know, you're not alone, don't be alarmed
                  I'll find you no matter where you are'

                  Delicious ~ This track lifts the tempo back up again with a song about dark and decadent love. I'll admit it, I'm not too keen on this song, the lyrics are quite appealing but it's just not as catchy of some of the tunes it follows.

                  'Fictitious and so real
                  Love's a onetime deal
                  With a delicious dark appeal'

                  Maybe Tomorrow Is a Better Day ~ You'll find quite a steady and melancholy song here. The witty lyrics continue as through the entire album. I feel sure this track is about a lover reflecting on an argument, hoping that things will get better and the relationship can be saved. Markus, the vocalist tells us this song is about hope and true to his word it does end on quite a positive note.

                  'I do not deal the cards and I play a lousy hand
                  I celebrate no victories and my promises are sand'

                  Dawn ~ This is such a beautiful end to a beautiful album. A gentle, slow song about loss, mourning and yet carrying on. This strikes a particular chord with me (if you pardon the pun!) due to losing someone close to me, and I personally find this a moving and uplifting song. I'd say if you've ever felt grief, whether it's from a death or just the end of a relationship, you'll find yourself moved by this song.

                  'A new light is warm, shining down on you after the storm
                  Don't mourn what is gone, greet the dawn'

                  ~~~Please wrap this review up, it's gone on long enough!~~~

                  OK, sorry ;)

                  Thanks for reading :)

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                    29.05.2012 15:49
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                    A quick and easy way to slice and grate, with some flaws. I'd still recommend it. :)

                    There's been a lot of hype but several poor reviews for this little chopper; I decided to take a gamble and purchase it anyway.

                    ~~~What is it?~~~

                    The Tefal Fresh Express is a multi-purpose appliance for shredding, grating and slicing many different foods including vegetables and cheese.

                    ~~~Where can I get it?~~~

                    I've seen this available in many online and offline retailers including Amazon, Argos, Lakeland, Robert Dyas and John Lewis.

                    The Fresh express retails for between around £45-50. It's well worth keeping a close eye on Amazon though because one morning I spotted it for £37 and snapped it up - by the afternoon it was back up to £44.

                    ~~~Packaging and Unboxing~~~

                    The first thing I noticed was just how small the Fresh Express box is. To give you some idea, I can't imagine you would be able to fit a toaster or a kettle into this box. I had heard some of the marketing implying that the unit was very slight in size, but it wasn't until I saw the packaging that I really believed it.

                    The box is pretty standard - a red and white affair with a small image of the Fresh Express itself, a photo of a family enthralled by their fresh vegetables and a couple of pictures of various sliced foods. Something on the front did take me by surprise though; there's a large British Heart Foundation heart printed here and it tells you you can support the BHF by buying a Fresh Express. Apparently Tefal donate £1 per unit, with a minimum donation of £35,000 which I think is a wonderful touch.

                    Sliding the box open you'll be met by polystyrene and protective wrappings. A quick rummage and you will uncover the Fresh Express, 5 drums, a spout, a drum storage facility and something that pushes the food into the spout (that's a technical term, I assure you). Underneath these you'll find a scarily thick instruction booklet and a guarantee slip. Tefal give this product a 12 month warranty. My own Fresh Express is still within its warranty and has shown no signs of breaking so far (touch wood!) so I can't comment on their warranty service.

                    ~~~How does it measure up?~~~

                    It's tiny!

                    Approximate measurements are:

                    Height - 20cm

                    Width - 15cm

                    Depth - 16cm.

                    Please bear in mind that these measurements are brought to you by me and my wonky tape measure rather than from Tefal themselves, so they're a rough estimate.

                    The Fresh Express is a quirky red and white affair. It has the vague appearance of an upside down heart with a vertical spout (or something ruder if you have a filthy mindset...) I will say that this unit is cute and quirky rather than being sleek. Every part of this is bright and colourful, so it has a fresh feel to it and I don't think it would look out of place in any kitchen, but if you're expecting sleek stainless steel you'll be disappointed.

                    ~~~Here come the drums~~~

                    Fresh Express comes with five colourful cone shaped drums to be inserted into the appliance to achieve your desired result, whether slicing or grating.

                    The dark green drum is for course slicing. Light green gives you fine slicing. Meanwhile red is for course grating, orange brings fine grating to the table and the yellow drum rounds things up nicely with extra fine grating.

                    The instruction manual gives us a handy chart to show us which drums are best for which result. They are as follows:

                    The red cone is suitable for course grating carrots, courgettes, potatoes, cucumbers, peppers, Gruyère cheese, chocolate and more.

                    The orange cone is most suited to fine grating carrots, courgettes,potatoes, Gruyère, chocolate, coconuts and more.

                    The dark green cone can be used for thick slicing carrots, courgettes, potatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, beetroot, cabbage, apples, Gruyère and more.

                    The light green cone is best suited to fine slicing carrots, courgettes, potatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, beetroot, cabbage, apples, Gruyère and more.

                    Lastly, the yellow cone is for Parmesan cheese, chocolate, dry bread/biscuits, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, coconuts and more.

                    As you can see, the Fresh Express is advertised as being able to cope with many different varieties of food.

                    ~~~What snazzy features does it have?~~~

                    Well, I'm glad you asked that actually.

                    First off, this sports a 150W motor. I'll be honest, that one doesn't mean a lot to me but I find the Fresh Express more than powerful enough.

                    The unit itself has cord storage, so there are no irritating trailing wires. All you have to do is gently pull the plug at the base of the appliance to release the cord, and push it back in to hide it away when you're done.

                    The on/off button has to be held down in order to operate the Fresh Express; the minute you release the switch it will stop. Some people have complained that it's awkward to have to hold the button down rather than just leaving it running, but personally I feel this is great safety, particularly if you have little ones in your house that may be inclined to touch the unit. There's also a momentary delay once you've pressed the on switch, for added protection.

                    The spout is also there to protect your hands from touching the moving blade, so the Fresh Express is clearly designed with safety in mind.

                    All the drums can be stored in the appliance when not in use, to keep storage space to a minimum.

                    Each attachment is also dishwasher safe. I can't vouch for this as we don't use a dishwasher, but I can say that washing this up is an absolute doddle - much easier than a food processor, which was one of the reasons our household wanted one.

                    Finally Tefal advertise the Fresh Express as having a 'direct serve spout'. Basically they mean that you can slice your cucumber straight into your salad bowl, eliminating endless washing up and preparation.

                    ~~~What's it actually like?~~~

                    It grates cheese like nobody's business. One of the main reasons I bought this was due to the fact that the people in our house all have some degree of dexterity problems - I myself am disabled, and my mother suffers carpal tunnel syndrome, which means that when it comes to grating and slicing it can be a tedious, painful task. Grating cheese is particularly an issue, but thanks to the Fresh Express, this is no more. All you have to do is pop a good lump of cheese into the spout, push gently while holding the on button and voilà - perfect grated cheese in seconds.

                    It's a very noisy operation, I would compare the whirring as being of similar noise level to a food processor.

                    We've tried many different foods in our Fresh Express, with varying degrees of success.

                    Slicing onions is great, they come out well sliced and perfect for a salad. (A regular sized onion fits whole in the spout, but if using a larger onion this will usually need to be cut in half first.) However when grating, the result is mushy onion in different shaped pieces. A similar result occurred when grating potatoes, but again they're perfect when using the slicing drum.

                    Trying to make breadcrumbs was a complete failure, and definitely not something that we've ever tried to repeat. That one is best left to a food processor, I think.

                    We've found that courgettes and cucumbers fit well without needing to be cut first, and regardless of which drum we use, they work very well.

                    Carrots and apples are also a great success, with no problems whatsoever. I cannot say how successful nuts or chocolate would be as we haven't used ours for this before.

                    There has been some mild issues with bits of food getting stuck between the drum and the unit, but it doesn't create too much hassle as far as I'm concerned.

                    One of the main flaws is that the Fresh Express will act like a picky child at meal times, and throw your food everywhere. You'll definitely need a big bowl for this! It's not resulted in carnage in the kitchen, but if you're not careful you'll end up with cheese/onion/carrot all over your kitchen floor. I know Tefal are releasing the Fresh Express Plus with a longer spout to fix that issue, but to me that feels like a bit of a cop out - the original Fresh Express is still quite a new product, and it makes you feel a bit like the loyal fan who bought a CD the minute it hit the shelves, only to see a bonus edition released a month later. Not impressed, Tefal, not impressed at all.


                    ~~~Conclusion~~~

                    The price for this is very high for a glorified electric cheese grater, and I think that's why it's been getting some poor reviews online. However, if you're willing to experiment a bit you'll find that it does have many more uses. Some foods just don't work, but what the Fresh Express can do, it does well.

                    This would be wonderful for anyone with dexterity problems, those that are a little clumsy with a knife or just hate preparing veggies.

                    Ours is used for cheese, salads and some vegetable preparation mostly while we avoid things like grating potatoes and making breadcrumbs with it. In my opinion, if you're expecting this to replace your trusty food processor, you'll find this a poor substitute. But if you're looking for something that doesn't take up much space on your worktop, takes seconds to operate, a few more seconds to wash up and creates good results with cheese, salads and veg - this could well be for you.

                    Thanks for reading :)

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                      26.05.2012 19:16
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                      These aren't perfect, but they taste good and cost pence. I recommend them :)

                      The Smartprice/Value range triers on here and the ever-rising price of my weekly shop have both spurred me on to take a bit of a gamble and see if I can substitute a few of my purchases for the Smart Price alternative. Not that I'm a brand freak at all, supermarket's own range is fine with me but I do usually shy away from their cheapest choice. First up are these caramel wafers, and so with a brave heart and worried taste buds, here goes...

                      Asda Smartprice caramel wafers come in a slightly different packet now to the one shown above. Gone is the red fox and in its place is Asda's well known green and white Smartprice packaging. All the nutritional information is in green on the back and the wafers themselves are all individually packaged in basic white wrappers. They do have the word Caramel stamped on them under the fold, but otherwise they're completely blank. It's all very plain and undeniably cheap, but despite occasionally being tempted by pretty boxing, I'm usually not fussed by the stuff that goes in the bin, as long as the product itself is a winner.

                      One pack of these contains five caramel wafers and costs just 40p, so that's 8p each! You can't even get eight 1p sweets for that these days... ;)

                      Ingredients:
                      Milk Chocolate (45%) [Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Skimmed Milk Powder, Cocoa Mass, Butterfat (Milk), Emulsifier (Soya Lecithins) , Natural Flavouring] , Caramel (36%) [Invert Sugar Syrup, Glucose Syrup, Vegetable Fat, Sweetened Condensed Milk, Sugar, Emulsifier (Soya Lecithins)] , Salt , Raising Agent (Sodium Bicarbonate) , Cornflour .

                      I was quite impressed by the 45% milk chocolate content, that's definitely much higher than I was expecting.

                      Apparently these contain gluten, milk, wheat and soya so worth being aware of this when purchasing.

                      As for the nutritional value (and I use the word 'nutritional' in the most optimistic way possible...) - we're only given the measurements per 100g, but they are as follows:

                      Typical values Per 100g:
                      Energy 1930kJ/460kcal
                      Protein 5.4g
                      Carbohydrate 65.8g
                      of which sugars 46.3g
                      Fat 19.4g
                      of which saturates 12.0g
                      Fibre 2.4g
                      Sodium 0.2g
                      equivalent as salt 0.5g

                      Given that the whole packet of five wafers weighs only 85g, my shoddy maths works this out at approximately 78 calories per wafer, which (if accurate!) isn't too bad at all.

                      Wrestling the wafer out of its plastic restraints was an absolute nightmare. I can only assume that Asda have given me some kind of impenetrable plastic so that I wear off the 78 calories in opening the wafer first.

                      First impressions are good. These are definitely smaller than the branded alternatives, but they look appealing and there's a nice smell of chocolate to them.

                      I loved the taste of these. The layer of chocolate is quite thin, but it's delicious. I had expected a cheap, fake taste to it but I'm delighted to be wrong, this tastes every bit as nice as Cadburys chocolate to me.

                      When you bite into these there is a slight crunch, but it's not hard to chew so the wafer is quite soft really. It's lacking in certain areas - like the caramel, there's a lot less than in more expensive brands. But what you do get is lovely, and it's not just a mouthful of over-sweet chocolate and cardboard wafer which is what my expectations had been.

                      These aren't Tunnocks of course, and I'm not going to pretend they're miles better than something that costs twice as much. But for the measly cost of 8p each you get a moreish wafer with surprisingly good quality chocolate and an over-all great taste. I imagine these would be perfect for kids' lunchboxes, or a little lunch time treat. They're relatively low in calories for a sweet treat too, so that definitely adds to the appeal for me. I'll definitely be buying these again to have with my cuppa!

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                    • Racing Willies Game / Erotic Novelty / 95 Readings / 90 Ratings
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                      24.05.2012 22:29
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                      I recommend these as a cheeky little novelty :)

                      (Warning: Slightly rude review ahead, but not full out filthy I promise!)

                      When a friend of mine had a birthday, she decided to go retro and have party bags for all her guests. So we were all princesses for the day with wands, bubbles, hats and all the usual party bag fare from childhood. Amongst these were more risqué gifts, including these Racing Willies.

                      The willies come (pun possibly unintended) packaged on a piece of card, so fairly minimalistic and space saving. The packet is pink and black, decorated with a typical 'finish line' design, but despite the use of pink these still look pretty unisex to me. As much as a set of three racing willies can be unisex, anyway. The packaging is easy to rip through, so you won't need a pair of scissors to 'Free Willy'.

                      These retail at around £4.49 per pack from Lovehoney and many other retailers, although if you intend to try and launch a mass genital race, you can buy these in bulk at a slightly reduced price.

                      In the set you'll get three different coloured willies, white flesh tone, brown flesh tone and black. They're actually quite realistic in design (So I'm told...), with all the lines and creases in the right place... However, they're each roughly about two inches tall and fit entirely in my closed hand so these are hopefully not to scale, and certainly not designed for ahem, any other uses.

                      Each racing willy is complete with its very own wind up starter key, so these all work independently from each other. As they don't all rely on one key they can be gifted individually rather than as a set, which is a plus point for party bags or hen night gifts.

                      The idea behind these is quite basic and self explanatory - each person selects their very own winning willy, winds him up and pits their penis against the rest. The willy that arrives first wins, unusually.

                      These do actually work quite well. It's very easy to wind them up, and once set down on a flat surface the feet move with surprising amounts of speed. The toys are quite noisy as they rattle and whirr whilst moving, but this is to be expected. I got Mister Black Willy in my own party bag, and he has yet to have any tumbles or breakages during racing, in fact he's a very well co-ordinated willy. He has gained some raised eyebrows from the cat as he whizzes by though. Despite his robust build, I strongly doubt Mister Willy would survive being chewed on by a kitty...

                      There's not much more than can be said from a set of racing willies! These are what they are - a cheap and cheeky novelty. They're unlikely to last forever and they don't have a wide array of uses (except possibly as a tasteful mantelpiece decoration?) but they create much laughter and conversation and are therefore perfect for hen nights or a gag gift between friends with a dirty sense of humour!

                      Thanks for reading :)

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                        20.05.2012 19:11
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                        These can take a mild headache away, and help ease migraines and severe head pain.

                        Thank you for clicking this review despite the terrible title ;)

                        There are many options available for head pain these days besides painkillers, and one of these are cooling head strips. The two main brands I've seen are Kool n Soothe and 4Head. For me, despite the price, I keep coming back to Kool n Soothe.

                        How Are They Packaged?

                        Everything about the packaging screams blue, to match the product. The strips are presented in a small, thin cardboard box. There are two types of Kool N soothe available, 'Migraine' and 'Fever', the latter being aimed at children with a Mickey Mouse design on the front of the strips. I have previously been tempted by the Fever variety (there's more in a box, and they're smaller in size) and deemed it appropriate to go outside sporting Mickey Mouse on my forehead, however 'Migraine' strips are my preferred choice, so that's what I'll be reviewing here. On the front we're treated to a picture of a woman enjoying the soothing relief of a head strip. The only indication we have that she is suffering a migraine is her hand rubbing her temple and her faint smile at the effects of Kool n Soothe. This doesn't quite depict a migraine properly for me - try rolling around in pain, clutching wildly at your head and you're halfway there. Mind you, I suppose that doesn't make for an attractive product picture.

                        The box also shows a small picture of the product, so you'll know what to expect before you buy. On the back there's another picture of someone using a strip on the back of the neck, showing us these can be used where-ever you feel tension or pain. A useful tip. The write up on the box tells us these are suitable for headache, high temperature, hot flushes, sprains and to relax.

                        Inside the box you'll find two sealed packets, each containing two head strips. (Should you opt for the Fever version, you'll get eight strips.) The idea being that you tear off the top of the packet, then roll it down to reseal to keep the second head strip fresh. You do need to roll the wrapper back down securely, as I find if you just leave it in the box it will dry out very quickly and be useless when you come to use it. Personally I would perhaps prefer each strip individually sealed, but having two per pack means obviously less packaging, and also you need only pop one packet in your bag for the day, saving space. The pouches themselves are easy to tear and do not require scissors.

                        How Do They Work?

                        This is an interesting question, actually. The pack claims these are non-medicinal, and yet no where on the packaging can I find any ingredients listed. Somehow I don't like that, it feels a bit dishonest - these could contain anything! A quick peek around the ever wise internet uncovered the truth though - these contain only two active ingredients - water and methyl paraben.

                        The basic principle of these head strips are that you apply them to your forehead (or back of head/where-ever) when you're suffering a migraine or headache. They then offer you a cooling sensation for up to 8 hours, similar to a wet flannel or an ice pack, but without the need for refrigeration or water, making them quick and easy to use at home or on the go.

                        What Do They Look Like?

                        The head strips have a soft white backing, and a strange blue gel front which you stick to your head. They have a very mild smell to them, the faintest play doh aroma, but that could just be me!

                        How Much Are They?

                        For a pack of 4 of the Migraine strips you can look to pay anywhere between £2.49 to £4 depending on where you shop, and whether they're on offer. Quite an expensive remedy for something that's disposable.

                        Do They Work?

                        Yes, they do :) For me, anyway.

                        I suffer a lot of migraines and different varieties of headaches, and I keep a constant supply of Kool n Soothe strips around the house. When it comes to a migraine, a little cool head patch isn't going to get rid of it. But it does help the agonising pain while you wait for your medication to kick in, or while you're resting in your darkened room trying to sleep the pain away. Even just the sensation is a welcome distraction from the pain, so it certainly does help.

                        However for headaches, these are definitely a lot more successful. If I feel the start of a tension style headache putting one of these on can actually ward it off before any painkillers are needed, and for me that's fantastic. If it's a more severe headache, I will still use medications in conjunction with the Kool n Soothe strips but I do find them very beneficial and consider them well worth buying despite the price tag.

                        I'm afraid I cannot vouch for how these would help a sprain, but I imagine an ice pack would be more appropriate for this.

                        As for hot flushes and high temperatures.. The Fever ones actually warn that they will not lower a temperature, just give a nice feeling of coolness, which I think is pretty useless personally. I've tried both types of strips during (non-menopausal, i swear ;)) hot flushes and during fevers and find them completely pointless. If you have a clammy, sweaty or even just overly warm forehead, these will not stick to your skin. Not only that, if you're *that* warm, you don't get any cool sensation from the Kool n Soothe at all, it just feels like you have a heavy heated sheet of gel on your head, which is the last thing you need. It also made no difference to my overall body temperature either, so I would say please don't rely on these to bring your childs (or yours!) temperature down during an illness, a wet flannel and a fan will do a much better job.

                        All in all, these are an expensive remedy but I believe they're worth every penny if you suffer frequent headaches or migraines.

                        Thanks for reading :)

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                          19.05.2012 16:09
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                          For chesty coughs, this will soothe your throat and ease your cough.

                          I've set myself the 'Review a cold/flu product without indulging in gross oversharing' challenge. Here goes...

                          Benylin Chesty Cough is, as the name would suggest, a cough mixture. There are many brands out there, for every kind of cough from dry-hacking tickles to opening-your-gas-bill spluttering, but Benylin seems to be one of the most popular names in the UK. I'm a bit of a sucker for a trusted name, so I went straight for this one on the shelf.

                          The 150ml bottle can be purchased for around £3, while 300ml will set you back about a fiver. I opted for the former, and I found that amount more than enough for one person's post-cold coughing with plenty left over for the next time someone shares their germs with me.

                          Chesty Cough variety of Benylin comes in distinctive red packaging, with the usual purple Benylin logo. It shows a picture on the front of a man with a yellow target in his chest region, presumably to denote this is for chesty coughs. I dread to think how they portray their 'Mucus Cough' variety... Anyway, moving swiftly on. The box tells us this will offer a soothing effect and deep penetrating relief. I'll pause here to give the childish sniggers chance to die down.

                          The active ingredients in this product are Guaifenesin and Levomenthol. The first is a commonly used expectorant used to loosen bronchial congestion, I have no idea how the former relieves a cough but I suppose anyone that's sniffed Olbas Oil too hard will know that menthol has quite a throat clearing effect. Other ingredients include sucrose, E124 and ethanol. What, so Benylin are putting a shot of Whiskey in their cough mixtures now, are they? The leaflet notes it contains approximately the same amount of alcohol as 10ml of beer or 4 ml of wine per 10ml dose and is suitable for children over 12 years old (there are child friendly versions of Benylin available), so presumably there's nothing to worry about here, especially as this is meant to be non drowsy.

                          Now, for the miraculous syrup itself...

                          It's hiding in a glass bottle, with a little plastic measuring cup sitting on top of the lid, so you won't have to faff with those little plastic measuring spoons. The liquid itself is a thick gloop which is a very unnatural shade of red, I think I know what the E number was used for! It pours into the little cup quite easily, but due to its relatively runny consistency it's easy to spill. If you spill Benylin, it doesn't matter how much you wipe it up, the area will be tainted with a sticky residue. Benylin is clearly made with industrial strength sugar... However, Mary Poppins' witterings that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down tells me that she clearly never tried this stuff.

                          Oh, the taste. The second it hits your tongue it transports you right back to the days of banana flavoured antibiotics and cod liver oil. It tastes like all childhood medicines - disgusting. While the smell is mostly menthol, the taste couples menthol with something else which is pretty indescribable. (Very useful for a review!) There's no getting away from the fact it's horrible tasting, but there's not much aftertaste, a quick sip of drink afterwards and it's soon gone.

                          But is it worth the foul taste?

                          Short answer: Yes.

                          If you're one of the most people for whom colds go straight to their chest, this will definitely help it on its way. The end of a bad cold leaves most people with a painful, unproductive cough but this does loosen congestion (phrased in the least disgusting way possible, folks!) and ease the discomfort.

                          As soon as you swallow the mixture, you can feel the syrup coating your throat and soothing the dry prickles you get when you have a viral cough. Considering this variety is for chesty coughs rather than dry coughs, I thought this was brilliant. Most doctors don't recommend taking a dry cough mixture these days anyway, as suppressing a cough just leads to problems. So for me, this is the best of both worlds.

                          It definitely was non drowsy, as the label promises. I actually noticed the opposite, it gave me a slight 'wired' feeling along with a few palpitations. This could be that I'm actually a toddler in disguise, and find myself quite sensitive to E numbers... But that's it as far as side effects go, so not bad at all.

                          When taken four times a day for the best part of a week, I did notice this helped a lot. It stopped the endless unproductive coughing which causes such a sore chest and helped the cough lessen much quicker than I believe it would have done on its own.

                          Just an after note, over the counter remedies can obviously only do so much. If you have a cough that doesn't improve after a few days, a slightly raised temperature, difficulty breathing or just anything out of the ordinary, a trip to your doctors is always going to be a safer option.

                          Thanks for reading :)

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                            30.04.2012 22:26
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                            A fresh look at an old classic.

                            (Please note: This review will contain mild plot spoilers but rest assured, I won't give the endings away :))

                            Sherlock is a thoroughly British programme, shown on BBC1. It takes the original works of the legendary Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes novels and drags them into the 21st century. Written by Stephen Moffat, Mark Gatiss and Steven Thompson and directed by Stephen Moffat, Mark Gatiss, Beryl Vertue and Paul McGuigan, this has a very Stephen Moffat feel to the programme. Anyone who has seen his work on Doctor Who will see what I mean. In fact the first time I saw Sherlock, I switched on the TV half way through an episode and remarked immediately 'this is a bit like Doctor Who'. I'm not usually very perceptive either, if the TV jumped off the wall and started walking away it'd take me a minute to notice ;)

                            ~~~Who's Sherlock?~~~

                            Sherlock Holmes is a character from stories by the renowned author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in this TV series the tales have been given an updated feel while still keeping some of the traditional details as well.

                            Sherlock is an intelligent yet ultimately eccentric detective who solves mysterious cases, usually for a fee. He is helped by his loyal friend Doctor John Watson who both aids his case solving and chronicles it (in the original books by publishing books, while in the BBC series he creates a blog).


                            ~~~Cast~~~

                            The series stars a rather striking looking fellow (yes, I'm a bit weird), Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes. Well loved TV veteran Martin Freeman takes his place alongside Sherlock as his long suffering friend Dr John Watson. In this contemporary remake, Sherlock Holmes is portrayed as a reclusive, socially inept genius. He can be quite arrogant and is often mocking towards other characters when they don't follow his line of thinking quickly. However he proves himself to be strangely loveable and quirky right from the start of the first episode. Watson is more laid back in character, a fiercely loyal friend to Sherlock, he appears Sherlock's polar opposite.

                            Other cast members include:

                            Mrs Hudson ~ Played by Una Stubbs. Sherlock and John's Landlady.

                            DI Greg Lestrade ~ Rupert Graves. A detective who occasionally asks Sherlock's help with solving cases.

                            Mycroft Holmes - Mark Gatiss. Sherlock's older brother.

                            Jim Moriaty ~ Andrew Scott. Arch enemy of Sherlock Holmes.

                            Seargent Sally Donovan ~ Vinette Robinson. Police officer who works with Lestrade.

                            Molly Hooper ~ Louise Brealey. Morgue attendant and casual friend of Sherlock and John's.


                            I was lucky enough to receive the Sherlock Series 1 DVD for my birthday this year, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Series 1 compromised of three 90 minute long episodes, quite an unusual layout for a TV series, but it gives each episode (which are all based loosely on Arthur Conan Doyle's books) just the right amount of time to develop. The episodes are spread over two discs, and include some lovely special features too.

                            ~~~A Study in Pink~~~

                            This is the first episode, and is loosely based on the original book by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 'A Study in Scarlet'.

                            We're introduced to Watson first here, and we find out that he's returned home from Afghanistan where he was injured. He walks with a limp, is seeing a therapist and appears to be looking for somewhere to live. Poor Watson seems quite a sorry figure at this stage, your sympathy is immediately drawn to him. However, following a lead from a friend he soon finds himself the flatmate of Sherlock Holmes at the very famous address 221B Baker Street.

                            Sherlock is soon asked by DI Lestrade to take a look at a crime scene with him. It appears that he asks Sherlock's help often, and as Watson is a Doctor, he tags along in the hope that he may be of some use.

                            At the crime scene is a murdered woman wearing pink, hence the episode title. Together the two friends work to piece together the clues and solve the case, which at first appears to be the latest in a line of serial suicides, but Sherlock has other ideas...

                            There are speedy chases, puzzling clues, and plenty of surprises to be found here. We learn a lot more about the two main characters, in particular Watson. and Moriaty's name is mentioned, leading way to his introduction at a later stage. We're also introduced to Sherlock's elder brother in this episode, the two brothers appear to have a frosty relationship and the banter between them is quite light hearted and amusing.

                            I found this episode to be a perfect start to a fantastic series - I didn't guess the murderer's identity until right at the last minute, and even then there were twists and turns in the plot line to leave you hanging on to the edge of your seat. Sherlock's character is so strange and intriguing that you're not sure of his boundaries, so every move is a surprise.

                            ~~~The Blind Baker~~~

                            The second episode doesn't hold off on the action. We're immediately introduced to Soo Lin Yao who works in a museum. At the end of the day, Soon sees something terrifying and lets out a blood curdling scream, we the viewers are left literally and metaphorically in the dark as to the source of Soo Lin Yao's terror, and the episode begins properly.

                            At this point, we see John Watson is struggling for money. As much fun as being Sherlock's sidekick is, it doesn't seem to pay the bills. Sherlock offers to help and take his friend along to the bank, but when they arrive, it's not quite the Natwest branch Watson was expecting... In fact, there's a case to be solved here, with a large reward. The perfect remedy for both our heroes problems - a lack of money, and a thirst for mysteries.

                            Once again, the police think this is a suicide case, and once again Sherlock basically brands them a bunch of bumbling nincompoops and searches to find the real truth here.

                            In this episode we see Watson taking another job, one of our favourite characters finding a love interest, a hostage situation and even an advisor in the form of a graffiti artist. The action is non stop, relentless fun. I did find this episode a little more difficult to follow, but then I do have the attention span of a slightly impatient moth... As we were lead into the thrilling conclusion however, all became clear.

                            During the episode a mysterious person by the name 'M' is alluded to... Looks like we have to wait for the final episode for this one!

                            ~~~The Great Game~~~

                            This is the final episode on the Series 1 DVD boxset.

                            We're eased into this episode with some witty dialogue between Sherlock and a would-be client. I enjoyed this part particularly.

                            Here someone appears to be challenging Sherlock. A great game in which he must solve mysterious cases in mere hours, but if he doesn't, will this game be quite so fun after all?

                            In this instalment, we see more of morgue attendant Molly, Mycroft and we may even learn the identity of the mysterious 'M' - an episode full of M's, this one!

                            The relationship between Sherlock and Watson is shown here, and it's clear that Sherlock underestimates his dear friend, who knows him better than he imagined.

                            This one definitely got my heart pumping as Sherlock raced against the clock to solve the mysteries put in front of him. I had no hope of correctly guessing any of them, but watching the sheer genius of the answers as they unfold was brilliant, as was the unexpected climax. The episode ends on a startling cliffhanger, leaving its fans clamouring for Series 2. Good work!

                            ~~~Special Features~~~

                            * Episode 1 commentary featuring Mark Gatiss, Stephen Moffat and Sue Vertue
                            * Episode 3 commentary featuring Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Mark Gatiss
                            * Exclusive Pilot Episode - Sherlock: A Study in Pink
                            *Unlocking Sherlock - the making of

                            A Study in Pink was originally filmed as a normal 60 minute episode, but soon after the writers decided they preferred to go with the unusual format of three 90 minutes episode per series and so the episode was re-written and re-filmed. The original pilot episode is shown here and it's well worth a watch. Personally I liked the 90 minute episode better, but the pilot was very enjoyable too.

                            When it comes to feature length films, I tend to find watching 'the making of' feature spoils the magic for me. However with TV series', these just add a lot of detail to the programme. For Doctor Who fans who loved to watch the Doctor Who Confidentials, you'll love this special feature.

                            This is a wonderful take on an old classic. Lovers of murder mysteries, and Science Fiction fans will both find themselves catered for here. I can't imagine many Doctor Who fans disliking this either! Truly wonderful, and very very British.

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                              28.04.2012 20:49
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                              Why can't i give it zero stars?

                              I was given this book as a gift recently, by someone very thoughtful who felt it would help my suffering with a chronic illness. The gesture was gratefully appreciated and treasured, the sentiment however is really very offensive.

                              A hardback copy of this book can be purchased for £8.99 from Amazon but it is widely available, along with a DVD of the same theme.

                              The book itself is beautiful. Tea brown in colour with faded ink scrawlings across the front cover and throughout the 200 odd pages give it an old fashioned parchment appearance. On the front there's an imprinted mock red wax seal which you can actually feel if you run your finger across it - all very pretty and mysterious. Here is where mystery ends and mockery begins.

                              We are told that this is a highly coveted secret, centuries old and known by some of the most respected people of our time and beyond. The author name drops such timeless 'celebrities' as Beethoven, Sir Isaac Newton, Pythagoras, Sir Francis Bacon and many more. I couldn't possibly vouch for whether all these great men did indeed know 'The Secret' due to my not being on speaking terms with them, apparently unlike the author. There are no mention of any great famous women utilising the Secret, make of that what you will.

                              The author herself, Rhonda Byrne tells us that her daughter introduced her to a book containing the Secret some years prior, when she was suffering from close personal trauma. This lead to her discovering all about the Secret, tracing it back through the years and bringing it to a wider audience.

                              The contents of the book are as follows:
                              Foreword
                              Acknowledgements
                              The Secret Revealed
                              The Secret Made Simple
                              How to Use The Secret
                              Powerful Processes
                              The Secret to Money
                              The Secret to Relationships
                              The Secret to Health
                              The Secret to the World
                              The Secret to You
                              The Secret to Life
                              Biographies

                              Sounds intriguing doesn't it? Ms Byrne seems to be promising that simply by reading this, every problem in your life will be fixed. Remember the old proverb your mum used to tell you? If something sounds too good to be true...?

                              I'm already sick of typing 'The Secret' and I haven't even revealed to you what this shocking cure-all is yet. So lets skip past the foreword and acknowledgements and head to straight to 'The Secret Revealed', shall we?

                              Allow me to save you £8.99 and unveil to you this most guarded of secrets: Wish for something and you shall receive it. Yes, good people of Dooyoo, it's really that simple. Now as an experiment I've been screwing up my eyes and wishing hard for 20,000 Dooyoomiles... They have yet to materialise, so I feel I can conclude this theory a dud ;)

                              Apparently it's based on the law of attraction - when you fixate on worries, such as 'I don't want to catch the flu' or 'I don't want to lose my job', 'I'm worried about getting into debt' etc, the universe can't differentiate between what you do and do want, it simply hears 'flu' and 'job' and grants them to you. Because that's just how the universe works, you see. In order to become a millionaire, you must picture it strongly in your mind, you're already a millionaire, how do you feel? Putting yourself on the same frequency as your wealth will grant you it. Ms Byrne compares this law of attraction to the law of gravity, I can already smell pseudo-science, and if you listen closely, you'll just about make out the sound of Sir Isaac Newton spinning in his grave, wishing he'd never used that damned Secret.

                              At this stage, I feel I need to point something out, but I'm sure you're already thinking it too. Disease, natural disasters, crime... These are all caused by fixating on them and being on the same 'frequency', are they? There's a term for this my friends, and it's called victim blaming. A woman is the victim of assault, she was obviously dwelling on being assaulted and gifted this by the universe. That must be her fault then. I suffer a disabling neurological disease from childhood, simply picturing myself without it will cure me? Well somebody call Cancer Research, because they're wasting millions of pounds funding research when Cancer patients could just be imagining themselves free of Cancer.

                              I may be taking this all too personally, having been gifted this book with the strong implication that it'll cure me of an all too physical disease. However, I do find this type of cult-ish bile absolutely terrifying. Surely this encourages people to sit back and not take responsibility for their own actions and lives? Unless you, by some fluke win the lottery, or your wealthy Great Aunt Ethel takes her place on the Big Cloud in the Sky, you are not going to have a million pounds drop randomly into your lap (sorry!). If you are in debt, imagining you aren't is going to fix it. Debt isn't caused by worrying about debt, it's caused by spending money. It's dangerous and irresponsible to tell people that some distant law of attraction is going to be responsible for giving and taking away everything in their lives and they should just sit back and let it. All this is encourages is apathy, as a quote from the next chapter, 'How to Use the Secret' shows:

                              'How it will happen, how the Universe will bring it to you, is not your concern or your job. Allow the Universe to do it for you.'So it's not my job to decide how to live my life then? No thanks. Apparently by doubting you will receive what you wished for, you are giving off a frequency that shows a lack of faith and you will not receive.

                              In this chapter we are taught the in-depth process of ordering. Yes, ordering! It's likened to ordering from a catalogue. Well knock me down with a feather! I didn't realise life was one big Argos, now I just feel stupid...

                              In brief, the process of ordering is thus:
                              First of all you write a list of things you desire. You need only ask for each thing once, apparently the Universe has a good memory.

                              Next you must believe that you will receive. If you wish for a holiday, you must not then actually book one, this is sending a mixed frequency out - you must simply go along, assuming you are indeed going on holiday. Well, what are you waiting for, shouldn't you be packing your bikini?

                              The next stage is the one that tickles me most. Now you must tell yourself you have received what you asked for. You must absolutely believe that you have been given that new car/money/pony/impossibly busty supermodel in order to then take delivery of it. Here's where the pseudo magic really lies. It feels almost like a placebo on mass effect - you take medicine which you believe will make you feel better, so you do. I don't understand quite how you'll actually get your million pounds, but maybe you'll be living with your head so deeply shoved in the sand that you believe you are Richard Branson, all the while racking up endless amounts of debt to feed the lifestyle you don't actually possess in reality. Nice and responsible, then! There are plenty of unscrupulous money-making 'cures' out there for diseases (believe me, I've been the victim of enough relatives posting me paper-clippings advertising them...) whereby you will yourself to believe you are well, and suddenly you are. This will cure you from anything from Cancer to a warty toe. If you have a physical illness this won't cure you, and neither will The Secret.

                              The next chapters discuss money, relationships and health and the best ways to receive them. The health section starts with 'our body is really the product of our thoughts'. No, it isn't. I'll save you the rest of the pseudo-science, because the rest of it carries on in this vein. Anyone with a vague grasp of science and reality will not be able to stand more than a few pages of this drivel without self combusting with rage, or just flinging the book angrily down, just missing your slightly perturbed cat.

                              So in summary, the book tells you everything bad in your life is your fault and anything good has been gifted to you as a result of you ordering it. This pretty much means you have achieved nothing positive in your life by yourself, then. The rest of the pages are just padded with made up science, poor grammar and reinforcing the idea of placing orders to the Universe like it's one big Chinese Takeaway. Intolerable nonsense, please don't waste your money.

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                                20.04.2012 00:31
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                                If you have sensitive teeth, this is absolutely worth a try :)

                                Colgate's new Sensitive Pro-Relief range seems to have taken over the market by storm. I'm sure you've probably all seen the adverts with people recoiling in horror at being offered ice cubes, until they smear their molars with the toothpaste and start happily gnawing on the ice with worrying enthusiasm. Personally I'd prefer a Cornetto, but that's just me.

                                Anyway, I suffer a lot of sensitivity and problems with my teeth so I'm always on the look out for a product that works. I was suspicious of Colgate's claims at first but I'm very glad I gave it a try.

                                ~~~~The Range~~~~

                                The Pro Relief range has gotten quite vast since its popularity rose, and it includes Multi Protection (sounds quite gangster for a toothpaste - I expected it to come with a free pair of knuckledusters, but was, alas, disappointed), Enamel Repair, Whitening and the original standard Pro Relief paste, along with a toothbrush and mouth wash. I have tried all four of the toothpastes, and I'd like to share my discovery with you - they all contain exactly the same ingredients. Oh, the scandal! They all seem to retail at the same price, but as the newer ones have come on to the market, they've been at an introductory price in supermarkets and so I'll opt for whichever is cheapest when I'm shopping.

                                For the purposes of this review I'll be reviewing the Enamel Repair product which is the one I currently have, but my experience is the same for all the Pro Relief toothpastes.

                                ~~~~The Basics~~~~

                                I bought this toothpaste from Asda, where all the Pro Relief pastes retail for the same teeth grinding-ly expensive sum of £3.56. A quick search tells me the cheapest place to buy Pro Relief Enamel Repair is at Tesco online, for a more respectful price of £2.37 so it's always worth shopping around. In my opinion, if you have sensitive teeth you're likely to be used to paying around this for another brand suitable for sensitive teeth anyway but it would be nice if there was a more pocket-friendly choice out there.

                                These are available in a travel size, but I always opt for the biggest pack which is 75ml.

                                Considering the price of the toothpaste, you may have been expecting the box to be made of 24 carat gold, to which I'm sad to report, you'll be disappointed. However it does feel quite a sturdy and quality box in comparison to other flimsier products. I do really appreciate the first class packaging, Mr Colgate, but any chance you could stick it in a bog standard box and charge us 50p less instead?

                                The Enamel Protect box has green features on the box to differentiate it between the others in the range, but otherwise it's a white background with the usual red Colgate logo on the front. It promises 'Instant and lasting relief' and 'clinically proven Pro-Argin formula'

                                Once you've fought your way through the boxing, you'll find yourself holding a perfectly ordinary looking tube of toothpaste. Colgate have come up with a novel way of keeping things hygienic though - if you twist off the lid, you'll met with a strange eight pointed cog type contraction sealing your toothpaste. The object of this is that you press the outside of the lid (which has an indent in it with the precise same shape) into the top of the tube, and this breaks the seal. This keeps your toothpaste sealed and fresh until you come to open it, which is a bonus and something I really like as a concept.

                                Now what are the ingredients in this miracle product, I hear you ask. It's fair enough to wonder really, it must be something good to provide such relief. Well, here they are:
                                Active ingredient: Arginine: 8%
                                Other ingredients: Calcium Carbonate, Aqua, Sorbitol, Bicarbonate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Aroma, Sodium Monofluorophosphate (1450 ppmF), Sodium Silicate, Cellulose Gum, Sodium Bicarbonate, Titanium Dioxide, Sodium Saccharin, Xanthan Gum.

                                So, the winning ingredient here seems to be this Arginine fella. I'm a curious person, despite warnings of what happened to the fabled curious cat, I set out to find out exactly what Arginine is. I found that it is in fact an Amino Acid used to treat everything from Angina to Erectile Dysfunction (though Colgate recommends using their toothpaste only on your teeth, gents...) and has such alarming side effects as lung inflammation and low blood pressure. Now I'm sure the levels used in Pro Relief are perfectly safe, given that you don't even ingest it, but it does make you wonder what on earth benefit this ingredient is to your teeth, doesn't it? I'm sure some clever scientific genius will come along and enlighten me at some point, but until then I remain confused and amused by the whole thing!

                                ~~~~How Does it Work?~~~~

                                According to the packet, sensitive teeth come from receding gums and damage to your tooth enamel. Whereas most sensitive toothpastes temporarily numb the pain, apparently Pro Relief works to block the channels that lead to the tooth nerves. 'With what?' seems the most logical question, but we're not told that - merely shown a picture that looks a tiny bit like the outer surface of a wood-chipped wall. It also says that 'with regular use, it builds a reparative layer that acts like a seal, helping to repair sensitive teeth for lasting protection against sensitivity'. I cant help but feel this whiff of my least favourite thing - pseudo-science. But there we have it, now to see if it does what it promises....

                                ~~~~Does it Actually Work, Then?~~~~

                                In short: Yes!

                                Pro Relief has two purposes - one to ease sensitivity during everyday brushing, the other - to rub the paste on to a painful tooth for one minute and get instant pain relief. In both these ways, it totally works.

                                The toothpaste has a very powerful minty smell and taste, which I personally love. Previous to this I've been using Sensodyne which, I feel works for sensitivity but doesn't leave a fresh minty feel in your mouth, and I like the confidence of knowing my breath has been completely freshened. With Pro Relief, the minute you put the toothbrush into your mouth you get that instant strong mint-astic hit. Maybe not so great for those who aren't too keen on mint flavours, but for me, I love it.

                                While brushing, this paste has quite a thick feel to it. Sounds weird, but there's a definite noticeable difference with it - it's much more like a thick paste than a runny gel consistency, as some can be.

                                Once I'd finished brushing, I did the obligatory 'run tongue across front teeth' test, as I've learnt to do from every single toothpaste advert ever made, and noticed that there were completely squeaky clean and smooth. A good sign! Peering into the mirror, they looked quite a bit whiter than usual too. It's good to know that, aside from all the posh claims, it actually manages to clean teeth well because at the end of the day, that's one of the most important things that some sensitive toothpastes can neglect.

                                Now for the important part - did it numb the pain? Definitely. If I rate Sensodyne a 7 for effectiveness, I rate this a full round 10/10. I didn't even flinch at ice cream after using this! Rubbing the paste on an aching tooth works immediately too, which is a bonus and also can help to re-mineralise a tooth if it has started to break down ready to form a cavity.

                                I think I've rambled on enough for one review, but suffice to say this product is expensive but I've found, despite dubious-sounding claims, it combats even the most terrible of sensitivities and even helps for the dreaded toothache. On top of that, it leaves my teethypegs pretty sparkly too - perfect.

                                Thanks for reading :) x

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