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Tolteca
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Member since: 14.09.2012

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      18.08.2013 12:17
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      Top of the range pads, which are as comfortable as promised, if very expensive.

      I am very much an Always Girl for that time of the month, so when I was offered a chance to try their new Infinity range through Bzzagent, I leaped at the chance.

      I had been intrigued by the adverts, promising a product which was much thinner than even their normal pads, which also did not bunch in use and still absorbed more than I would need. That the adverts also featured Geek Girl Scientists rather than rollerbalding with poodles was also appealing. As I don't know about you, but at that time of the month, the last thing I want to do is rollerblade.

      What I do want to do is to live my life as normal, forgetting what is going on downstairs as much as humanely possible.

      So do these pads live up to the advert promises and did they let me do this?

      Pretty much, yes.

      Are they the last word in sanitary pads? No. The top of the pads are just a little too narrow to be totally reasuring, just as they are just a little too short. They also lack the odour protection qualities of their brand mates. The Inifinicel pad itself has dots and slits which do allow the pad to do its job of absorbing very well and keeping the results locked away, but are disconcerting. This is especially as the gaps do seem to widen in use.

      The backing does anchor well to the knickers in use. To do so, it is the usual peel away from the plastic wrapper and fix to the aforesaid knickers. These do have wings and the multi-wing design is good and allows it to stay in place while you don't have to. However, I don't think that the waterproof backing is quite as good as the regular range. After using these, the knicker pile requiring Vanish treatment before popping into the washing machine was higher than normal, which is not good.

      Not brilliant then, so far, huh? So why would I buy them again?

      The thing that these do do and do brilliantly, is the lack of bunching. They do flatten back out as they do in the adverts. This makes them incredibly comfortable to use. This comfort factor is increased by how slim they are. I was worried when I first unwrapped them, as I worried that something so slim could not cope with even a normal flow, let alone a heavy one.

      These normal ones coped brilliantly with a normal one. They did so wonderfully. I did get to forget what was going on downstairs, they were that slim, that comfortable and non-bunchy. They did this during a heatwave from hell. They coped with restless sleep, high humidity and did not add any major reasons to grump. They let me get on with my life, as I wanted. I got to be comfortable and to forget.

      And they even looked very pretty in the cupboard while they did so.

      The box is a metalised cardboard, with ten pads, which are wrapped in plastic. Green heaven this is not.

      The pads should also not be flushed, unless you do want to contribute to a fatberg beneath your building, which is disconcerting.

      They are also very, very expensive. A box of ten is a painful £3.00 at Tesco, Sainsbury's and Boots. It is even more so at Waitrose and Tesco at £3.49. These are good, if not perfect pads. But not quite that good enough to pay that much, even if the top were wider, the leakproofing perfect and they were just that little bit longer for added reassurance while lolling on the sofa.

      Though I will pick them up when I see them on good offers, as, despite the niggles, they really are rather good and very, very comfortable.

      May be cross-posted to Ciao.

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        29.07.2013 18:50
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        Organic and tasty, but too expensive and unbalanced in flavour.

        This is a tea which sells itself as Strawberry and Cream.

        The strawberry is totally fair. There is real strawberry in the mix inside the pyramid bag and this really does come through in the resulting brew. There is a good scent as well of taste of strawberry. The brew is a rich, deep rose pink, which adds the visual signal which screams Strawberry, with all its summery associations.

        Though at least part of this deep pink comes from the inclusion of beetroot in the bag. I do like beetroot drinks as well as in pickled form. Beetroot, orange and carrott remains a favourite juice for taste as well as its vitamin and mineral benefits. However, with a lighter strawberry rather than more robust veggies to work with, I think the beetroot aspect, while adding to the sweetnesss, does fight more than work right with the strawberry main flavour note.

        This would be less of a problem if it were not for the other part of the title - the Cream. This does not come from cream - so this tea is safe for the lactose intolerant. This cream aspect comes from including vanilla into the bag. This, not being the same as cream, does work oddly with the rest of the ingredients. It is just that little bit too assertive and does not seem to blend harmoniously with the strawberry, as cream does in the dessert bowl. It seems to clash just enough that it makes the brew feel weird in the mouth rather than feel as delicious as the real thing does.

        Not that this is not a nice, summery tea. It is. The brew works as a hot fruit tea and as a refreshing iced one. There is plenty of flavour to back up the lovely scent and pretty colour - which is not always the case. What is a shame is that with a slightly different mix the tea could have been a winner instead of a flawed contender.

        This is doubly the case as it does have good Green points in its favour. The pyramid bags are biodegradable. The ingredients are orgainic and the box can be recycled.

        Though it is horribly expensive. £3.99 for a box of 15 non-perfect tea bags is way too much. If on offer, this is a good if not ideal summer brew, but at a normal price, not so much.

        Which is a shame, as with a slightly revised mix and more sensible price, this could be a contender. It is just that right now, it's not.

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          27.07.2013 16:12
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          Always reliable pads for early and late days.

          I have tried many brands over the years but always come back to Always and Bodyform as my pad providers of choice. The reason is simple. Their products do provide the most reliable and comfortable products for a time when a girl wants nothing but reliable and comfortable.

          To be honest, I don't think there is much to split the photo finish between Bodyform and Always, and, as a result, I do tend to snag the one which has the best three for the price of two, BOGOF or other offer when I peruse the shelves of Boots of the big Sainsbury's. As a result of this policy and keeping a stash of different products for different times of the periodic misery, I do tend to mix and match.

          One product always in the mix for early and late in the period day time use is Always Ultra.

          The main reason for this is that they are long enough and comfortable enough to use on those days, while not being long enough for night time. They are winged, which helps reduce the need to apply Vanish to deal with stained clothing and avoid embarassment at the time of use. They stay in place even during quite active use. They stick to the knickers well, while not causing damage when peeling them off for disposal. The wings help this and also stay put well, while adding reassurance without adding significant discomfort.

          The normal ones are not the choice for heavy days. But Always provide for those days with their other pads.

          The feel of the pad itself is comfortable. They are advertised as having a cotton feel and they do. They are soft and do not tend to cause discomfort in use. The core is fluff, but fluff which does its job of absorbing and not leaking. The dry-weave top sheet helps this and is ably backed up by the leak-proof backing.

          What does make these pads different from the competition, and the factor which means that they win the photo finish with Bodyform, is the odour neutralising pearls. These are easily disernable on unwrapping the pads but do seem to help in avoiding unpleasant and/or embarassing odours getting out, even in the present heatwave.

          These are not products which are low on packaging, much of which cannot be recycled. The pads are individually wrapped within the plastic wrapper. Peeling the pad lets you stick it to the pant to be used, but does leave over a lot of plastic. This is added to by the wings factor and their covers. Then there is also the disposal issues involved with pads. But if you can live with this, as many of us have to, these are great pads.

          They are not cheap, though they can be reasonably priced when snagged when on offer. At present, one pack of 14 pads will set a girl back £1.99 at Tesco. Though both they and Boots are running a 2 packs for £3.00 offer, which brings them down to a less painful £1.50 a pack. Which is not cheap does make these fine products much less expensive.

          Which helps in living life. As these pads do. Always.

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          • Stella Artois Cidre / Beer / Cider / 68 Readings / 67 Ratings
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            13.07.2013 15:40
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            A very tasty cider for a reasonable price.

            I almost did not try this cider, owing to the slightly pretentious adverts. However, I do love cider. I do love tryng new things, especially fruity, refreshing alcoholic beverages.

            And my local Sainsbury's Local had some in the marked down bargain shelf. As I cannot resist a bargain, I bought some individual bottles. I took them home, put a couple in the fridge and almost as soon as I did the weather shifted and they got to stay in there a little longer than anticipated.

            But then the weather changed again and we finally got summer. And I got to enjoy cool, refreshing cider-y goodness.

            And, reader, it was good. Refreshing, of course, given that it was well chilled. A complex depth of dry fruit flavour which worked even through the chill, and only developed further the longer the glass sat there. Not that the glass did stay still long. The drink was delicious as well as perfectly chilled for a heatwave and as a result, the glass kept having to be taken back to the kitchen to be refilled with more tasty cider.

            It was so tasty that I had to restock. Tragically my Sainsbury's Local did not have them on quite so cheap an offer so I had to pay £8.00 for eight 568ml bottles. Though this was still a very tasty discount from the usual £12.00 for eight, which was very welcome.

            As is the bottle awaiting me as a treat after finishing this review.

            The bottles are glass, so they are widely recyclable, which is good.

            The contents are utterly delcious and deserve far, far less pretentious advertising.

            Ignore the retro ads. Try a delicous and at present reasonably priced cider.

            You won't regret it.

            Cheers.

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            • Fortnum & Mason Earl Grey / Tea / 88 Readings / 88 Ratings
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              28.06.2013 15:12
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              The Earl Grey Tea.

              I am quite surprised to be reviewing this tea. Earl Grey tea is not something I have ever bought. I was put off this type of tea by being given a potful of this brew as a teenager and being totally put off by the over-strong beating the bergamot in it gave to my taste buds. The fact that insult was added to injury by following it up with a potful of Lapsang Souchong foulness really did not help.

              So how did I find myself rediscovering and re-evaluating my opinion of this variety of tea?

              First and reformost, I was re-gifted a Fortnum's Tea gift pack which contained many types and many tea bags of their fine brews, all of which I really enjoyed. Then it got down to the Earl Grey bags and that childhood trauma took over. They were placed in the tea and coffee cupboard and lurked there.

              Until I ran out of Yorkshire and the Twining's Silky Pyramid English Breakfast tea proved horrid. I faced a choice, buy yet more tea or give the Earl Grey another chance.

              I am trying to be as frugal as possible, hate waste and am also trying very hard to reduce a faintly silly stash of teas as well as toileteries.

              It was a no-brainer.

              I cracked open the Earl Grey.

              And thoroughly enjoyed it.

              It may well be that my palate is more developed than the teen who first tried this. It may well be that this is top of the range tea and as such has a lighter touch with the bergamot than cheaper teas where poorer tea leaves are masked by too much bergamot.

              Either way, this is a beautifully balanced, light and delicately fragranced brew.

              This is due to including the lighter and more delicate Chinese tea to the more robust Ceylon. This mix, along with the restrained use of bergamot. results in a fresh, slightly citrus-y brew which is light in colour but by no means in flavour.

              The bergamot is enough to open the palate fully so you can appreciate the flavour and would be the perfect summer tea if we ever get a summer. But because they have blended the bergamot properly, the brew is not so off-balance that it cannot be enjoyed with food.

              This is, after all, a great afternoon tea tea. Which makes reviewing it during Wimbledon oddly right.

              I do drink it with milk, as I find this easier on my stomach with black teas - which this is. However, it is light and delicate enough that it would be fine to drink on its own.

              The quality of the tea also shines through in the lack of scum in the brew, despite the use of Central London water to make it. No tea dust in these bags.

              It is, as expected given the name, not a cheap tea. It is available from the shop but also in its outlets at the main airports and also online. The website is currently selling this at £3.25 for a very nice but very small box of 25 bags. These are individually wrapped within the box, which does add the freshness and the amount of waste packaging, but are still horribly expensive.

              But worth it if you really want to try this sometimes awful type of tea and are looking for a taste treat.

              And if you have an elderly relative or friend who has been given this tea as a present and does not want it - grab with both hands. I have not regretted doing so.

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                24.06.2013 14:42
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                Good everyday cleaning spray.

                I have to be very careful with the cleaning materials I use due to having asthma. I totally acknowledge the cleaning power of bleach, but the fumes do tend to make my airways twitch. I am awe of the limescale bashing abililities of Viakal but owing to the strong smell can only use it with all the windows open - which has been somewhat problematic this year. And last but by no means least, one whiff of lavender will give me an asthma attack.

                Fortunately, I love the scent of lemon and it has happy diplomatic relations with my fussy lungs.

                Which all brings us to this cleaning spray. This is an all purpose cleaning spray which can be used in the kitchen and bathroom as well as on other items to be cleaned.

                I have used this in the kitchen to clean the sink, counter tops and the outside of the cooker. It does not do the same job on limescale that Viakal does, however, this is London Limescale we are talking about here and it does beat most cleaning fluids. It does do a great job of cleaning grime and grease, however. It also cleaned off burnt on food from the hob and oven door, even if it did take a couple of sprays and some elbow grease. Counter tops, it manages easily.

                The situation is the same in the bathroom. Limescale on the tap, sink plug or drainer - cue Viakal or Cilit Bang. Grubby bath or toothpaste splattered sink - no worries. It also cleans the porcelein of the loo top and the seat itself very well and adds a very pleasant scent.

                The scent is stated to be crisp lemon and that is just how it smells. It is pleasant lemon clean without the cloying some lemon scented products can fall into.

                As it is not the toughest cleaning spray on the market this is a good thing as some jobs will take more than one or two blasts.

                The squirting mechanism is the usual twist and pull the trigger. The spray's blast area is very reasonable and makes cleaning a doddle. As someone with poor eyesight I could do with the open/off indication having a better colour contrast, but this is, unfortunately, a common problem with spray mechanisms.

                I have disassembled a portable washing machine I have and which had been shamefully neglected on the cleaning front. This spray cleaned it up beautifully and now it shines again.

                The liquid rinses away without leaving an unpleasant residue. Just clean sinks, draining boards, baths and sinks.

                All for £1.50 from Sainsbury's for a 500ml bottle, or £2.00 for a 700ml one at Tesco.

                Great value for a very pleasantly scented good little cleaning spray which has not caused my asthma any problems.

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                  22.06.2013 11:34
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                  Very poor value for money and an unpleasant experience.

                  I have been trying to keep my shopping costs way down and as a result have been exploring the value ends of supermarket ranges rather than their normal own brands. I also had to make the long trek to the big Tesco to collect some cheesy deliciousness from Bzz and did not have the car to lug a big shop home, as it is down at my Dad's at the moment.

                  As a result, I saw this tiny four pack of toilet roll. I saw a price of 67p for all four. It was smaller than the usual brands and supermarket packs and as such easy to drag home on foot. I bought it.

                  And have been regretting it ever since.

                  The rolls are not as wide as normal, and the shrinking of the product size is not marginal. It is significant and when combined with the thinness of the two-ply paper itself means that even a small person needs three squares where one or two of the good stuff would suffice.

                  Man Size this most certainly is not.

                  Children and those with sensitive skin are also likely to protest. My sensitive skin certainly hates it. The paper is scratchy and rough where no one would want scrachy or rough, let alone both.

                  There is also only 200 sheets per roll, which when added to the mean 115mmx96mm size of the sheets and the thinness of each means that it really does not last, even when there is only one person using it. Family friendly, not so much.

                  On the upside, the paper is labelled as from responsible sources. However, there are responsible and sustainable toilet paper alternatives which are longer, softer and a lot more comfortable.

                  The packaging is prettier than the one shown, even if it is a mosiac of people and toilets in blues on white. That is, however, pretty much the only point in this product's favour.

                  As it fails the most important reason I bought it.

                  Value For Money.

                  Which this product does not deliver. You do pay less. You also get a lot less product, have to use more per visit and the experience of using it is not pleasant.

                  There are better products out there and they can be found at reasonable prices if one hunts for deals. go for those instead. I will in future.

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                  • E45 Cream / Skin Care / 69 Readings / 69 Ratings
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                    16.06.2013 12:45
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                    Does exactly what it says on the tub and your skin will be grateful for it.

                    This is not the most elegantly packaged product out there. It is a plain tub which takes up more than its fair share of space in the bathroom cabinet it lives in. It does not even have sleek design. This is very much a does what it says on the tub approach to packaging.

                    It does not smell edible or sexy. It is a plain white gloopy cream that sits there when you unscrew the top and does not scream, Lather Me On All Over, You Know You Want To. The scent, what little there is, does tend more towards the medicinal rather than the indulgent.

                    So why has it earned a place in that bathroom cabinet and kept it for many years?

                    I have eczema patches. Not many, as I take care to minimise my exposure to things which I know will act as triggers to move my skin from grumbling to taking industrial action. But as I don't live in a bubble there is a limit to what I can do to stop one of these itchy, flaky, red and sore patches from popping up every now and then.

                    That's why I keep the Giant Tub of Eeczema Doom.

                    Patch appears. Tub gets unscrewed. A dollop of thich white cream is scooped out by index finger and rubbed into the protesting area and repeated as requred.

                    What happens to me is that the skin soothes. With a couple of applications, the dry patches ease, the flakes stop flaking and the redness and soreness both subside. This is not a medical miracle. It doesn't fix the allergic genes at the root of many of my health problems. What it does do and does very well is manage the symptoms so that even if my skin is not entirely normal, it manages to look like it is, which is all I can really ask for at this stage of gene therapy

                    So, not a glamourous product. Not one with a beautiful scent. But something which eases something which is uncomfortable and unsightly and that is all I can ask for really.

                    It also seems to be one of those products which lasts and lasts, no matter how much you slather on to the dry and flaky bits the level of the cream in the tub seems to take forever to go down.

                    Last but by no means least, this is not a ridiculously epensive cream. A 350ml tub will set you back £6.99 or 699 Advantage Points at Boots, but will work out even cheaper as part of their three for two deal on healthy skincare. This product is also widely available at the big supermarkets as well as Amazon.

                    The active ingredients include white paraffin and lanolin as well as glycerin. With lanolin, this is not a vegan product and this is not a product packed full of orgainic free trade shea butter. It is marked as suitable for adults and children and as perfume free and dermatalogically tested. It is sold for eczema, dermatitis, itchy and dry skin conditions including some dry types of psoriasis, as well as sunburn and dry, rough skin.

                    It has certainly helped me with most of the above at one time and another.

                    Which is why it gets to keep on taking more than its fair share of the bathroom cabinet.

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                    14.06.2013 16:06
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                    Not the most moisterising of the Body Shop body butters and has a distracting scent.

                    I have been suffering from dry skin over recent months and have been going though a frankly ridiculous toileteries stash to try and combat this. I received this as part of an Body Shop apology basket from my next door neighbour when his builder drilled through the party wall - he also paid to have it fixed.

                    Luckily, this body butter is fruity in scent and I do love fruity. I also adore strawberries. Match made in heaven, huh?

                    First, the upsides.

                    The tub is easy to open, even though I do have a problem with my wrist. It screws tightly enough that the butter remains in good shape between uses and is nicely does what it says on the lid in design.

                    The butter is quite light for a body butter. It is cool and refreshing to the skin and seems to leave a subtle gleam to it after application. There is a visible moisterising effect, with the dryness eased and the skin looking happier and healthier after use than before it. The effects also do last for several hours, as does the scent.

                    The scent in delicious. Literally. Sniffing it makes me peckish. It does smell of strawberries.

                    Which brings us to the problem.

                    It smells like strawberry jam. Now, I do like strawberry jam, though I prefer raspberry or apricot. But I do prefer it on my toast or in a steamed pudding. This product makes it smell like I have had a tragic jam butty accident all over my arms and it is quite disconcerting.

                    The jam theme should not be a surprise, as the product does use pressed strawberry seeds to help provide the moisterising effect and this they do - aided and abetted by shea butter in the foruma - though not as well as the Shea Body Butter stable mate. The problem is that the end product smells like it comes from jam.

                    And this is not good for the diet and is very distracting.

                    If the moisterising effect made this worthwhile, I would put up with being hungry. However, while it does have a good effect, there are better available for the same price from The Body Shop and cheaper elsewhere.

                    And this is not a cheap product. £13 for 200ml is not inexpensive.

                    It does smell nice. It does make the skin gleam and feel moisterised. It does use some fair trade ingredients as well as using by-products which would otherwise be wasted, which is good, though the green and natural credentials of the Body Shop are not what they were back in Anita Rodick's day.

                    But it is not the most moisterising body butter in the range and is best suited for those whose skin tends towards normal rather than dry, and it is not inexpensive.

                    And it makes me smell like jam. Which is disconcerting,

                    Which added together is why I am marking it down.

                    May be cross-posted to Ciao.

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                      10.06.2013 15:16
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                      Good product, but should be used as per the instructions.

                      Where I live, the water is so hard you could practically cut it with a butter knife. You can see limescale build up and it does kill kettles in the long run and cost more electicity and make horrible tea and coffee in the meantime. The only treatment to reduce these problems is regular de-scaling. My new kettle had reached the Must Descale Stage, so I bought something I knew would work - having extended the life of my old plastic kettle by several years.

                      I bought Oust.

                      It is idiot proof if you read the instructions. Fill the kettle half way, boil, place in sink and pour the contents of one of the three sachets you get in slowly. This froths up a bit and you leave for ten minutes before rinsing, boiling and rinsing again.

                      However, I was that idiot who did not read the instructions, having used the product before and being stupidly over confident.

                      I can tell you that if you pour the sachets into the half full kettle and then bring to the boil it will froth like a 1960's Doctor Who monster special effect. Then you will end up tossing it into the sink, spilling the boiling hot nasty stuff all over the kitchen worksurface, the floor and your hands and feet. You will then spend the next ten minutes throwing your entire stock of dry towels over the wet surfaces and washing off your hands and feet under lots of cold water. Followed by wondering where the world's largest and least wanted collection of tea towels have gone. Then pilling the wet towels into a bucket so they can go into the washing machine later this afternoon.

                      I have now done a second sachet and done it properly and my metal kettle is now gleaming and pretty again. The limescale in both sheet and clump form is gone, as per my previous experiences with Oust.

                      This product does work and does work well. You get three plastic sachets, which you cut open and pour. This avoids the problem of measuring out harsh chemicals which you get from bottles of descaler. The cardboard box has instructions on, just in case you don't read the ones on the sachet.

                      You can buy this product at all the main supermarkets as well as at Amazon. I got mine for £1.50 from the big Tesco. It will set you back £2.15 at Amazon.

                      It is also important to have the windows open while using this product as it will produce fumes. This is especially important for those os us with asthma. I made another mistake there and did not and had to take my inhaler as a result.

                      Learn from my mistakes and you won't regret it.

                      Follow my idiotic mistakes and you will still get a lovely clean kettle but you will also get an awful lot of washing and a pig of an asthma attack.

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                        08.06.2013 17:02
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                        Light hand cream which would go down with men, as long as they don't have dry hands.

                        I bought this for two reasons. The first, though least important, is that I have been suffering from the Dry Hands of Doom and have been hunting out something which would stop them cracking and feeling dry and horrible as well as looking horrid. The second, and most important, was trying to solve the perennial problem of what to get Dad, aka The Man Who Never Wants Anything Specific, for Father's Day.

                        Dad is the one I inherited my allergies and irritable skin for, though as he is much older and much more sensitive to allergens than me, he is tricky to buy for. Though as we share allergies, just in different degrees, I can test potential presents on me and so avoid the embarassing and painful to him experience of me buying him something which brings on a reaction. As a result of this and as I know he has also been suffering from worsening of his dry skin in the few last months and that the medical stuff can be really boring, I decided to try and find him something that worked and would be something a 70 something traditional male would use. To do so, I experimented on me on the grounds that if it worked for me, it would for him.

                        And so I bought this cream.

                        Absinthe is not something I would ever associate with hand cream. Van Gough, Montmartre, Yes. New Orleans even, but hand cream, No. However, in hand cream, it gives a very light but woody scent. This is something which would appeal to a woman looking for a light, non-girly girl or no citrus/fruity scent. It is slightly foresty and in no way assertive and as such, is an ideal scent for an older man who does not like strong smells or could have an asthma attack triggered by too strong a perfume, or lavender in any form.

                        So far, so good, huh?

                        It would be an ideal present if it worked better as a hand cream. I found it far too thin in consistency. The initial cooling and moisterising effect is pleasant, if too liquid for what my dry hands need - and what my dad's need dialed up to eleven.

                        The cream does sink in quickly and does not leave the hands sticky or gloopy. However, this may be because it does not do a deeply moistering job on dry hands. My hands remain dry, uncomfortable and with some cracking. There is no way it could cope with my Dad's hands.

                        I have to admit to some disappointment with this cream, especially as it contains the usually relaible Shea Butter as well as extract of green fairy.

                        This is all the more as this cream is not cheap, at £10 for a 100ml tube. I would expect better results for that kind of money.

                        Even if the tube is the pretty and would go down well with a bloke as it is the aluminium variety.

                        For those without dry hands looking for a light woody fragranced hand cream for themselves or the men in their lives, this has potential to hit the spot. For those with dry hands, not so much and there are better products out there and many at cheaper prices.

                        Back to searching for the right prezzie for Dad.

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                        • Creative Zen Stone 1 GB / MP3 Player / 67 Readings / 66 Ratings
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                          07.06.2013 13:13
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                          An mp3 which does exactly what it says on the tin while looking great.

                          I have had my Creative Zen Stone for many years. In tech terms - the Bronze Age.

                          I was looking for an mp3 player, back in the days before smartphones and saw this on display in PC World. It did fit all the things I wanted. It was very small - it fits my very small hands like it was meant to be there. It was idiot proof - which I did appreciate as it made learning to operate a new toy so much easier. There were very few controls for me to accidentally press and have badness ensue, as I had form even before the Turning The Droid Bulgarian Incident. It would let me stuff it with mp3's and play them back to me without nuking my brain.

                          But most of all, it was so very pretty.

                          I do love sleekness in design. I like sleekness in function and adore that my mobile phones have got ever sleeker. But the Zen Stone was and remains a triumph of sleek and smooth design. With only the built-in central track control circle and button to break up the front it seems designed to be stroked. Which I have done a great deal and not had the plastic wear out, as has happened to me with keyboard keys and laptop finishes.

                          There are a couple of small buttons on the top to move it in and out of shuffle mode, though these do not damge the sleekness of the design at all. They don't do much of a job in shuffling though. What it tends to do is shift between two sections of the mp3 list inside it rather than being really random. This can be weird when you get Techno, Techno, Techo'd into Slade though.

                          The headphones it came with were hopeless as well as uncomfortable to my oddly shaped ear and were soon replaced with in-ear better quality ones.

                          The other main disadvantage of this mp3 player is that the memory is really small. The one pictured above is the 1GB, though the more capacious 4GB is identical and better, if still small of memory by modern standards.

                          So why am I still using an antique when I have a Droid?

                          It is incredibly light, which makes it ideal for workouts. It stays put in a pocket while I move without risking it making a costly jump to the floor or having problems with sweat. It wipes clean really easily and still looks great.

                          And while it does not last forever on a charge, it will play music to me for hours without draining the Droid battery. This is why it gets taken on trips to do Family History work which can't be done from the comfort of the sofa. Plugged into this, I can keep reading hard to read microfiche and zone out everyone else in the room without draining the phone so I can't make a call, text or check Facebook if I have to.

                          It is easy to charge. The supplied USB lead lets it charge up from the laptop or desktop and the light on the front tells you when it needs to do this as well as when it is finished charging.

                          The same lead also lets you drag and drop mp3's on and off it and the computer, which is essential as the memory is quite small. This is quite easy in Windows.

                          One can be bought for £15.99 on Amazon, though cheaper options are available on eBay.

                          This is an mp3 player which does just that. There is no screen telling you what is playing. No other options to watch videos. It plays back the mp3s you put onto it and it does that very well. As well as looking stylish and not dragging a girl down.

                          Which I why mine is still in service and shows no signs of heading into the box of old tech any time soon, despite the arrival of the new Droid to replace the old.

                          A good little mp3 player.

                          May be cross-posted to Ciao.

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                          • Sprite / Soft Drink / 85 Readings / 85 Ratings
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                            02.06.2013 16:35
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                            A revamp to an old favourite which works.

                            In the hope of encouraging the weather's shift from the Winter Is Coming setting it has been stuck in, I decided to review a summery refreshing drink instead of a winter warmer. Let's hope it works.

                            Sprite is an old favourite from childhood which has recently been revamped, in both bottle label and the formula. The label is now perkier, with Rediscover added and a sparkly lemon place front and center. This does make the bottle more contemporary and lively. However, the most important thing about any label is the info on the back.

                            This takes us to the most important part of that information and the selling point of the re-vamp of the brand. It tells us that the bottle contains 30% less sugar than other sugary drinks in the UK. This is because they have added Stevia as a sweetener, though sugar does remain the second largest ingredient in the drink and diabetics will still need to take care.

                            I will confess that I drink full sugar versions of soft carbonated drinks. This is partially because I do have health concerns re Aspartame but also because I loathe the taste of it. This is not the case with this drink and Stevia. This may be because the drink does still contain the real stuff as well, but still, the taste of this drink does not have that weird and unpleasant aftertaste that I get from aspartame sweetened no-sugar drinks.

                            Instead, the taste is pleasant. The drink is sweet enough that the lemon and lime flavours are balanced out into a delicious whole. It is recommended that it is drink ice cold. I did and it was delicous. It was tasty and refreshing on its own and works beautifully with Pimms, where the lime aspect to the flavour works wonderfully with the fruit while not making it too cloying, which some lemonade can do.

                            And all for 69kcal for a 250ml, or half a small bottle serving. This is still not exactly insignificant, but is lower than other sugary drinks while being palatable instead of the blegh I get from no-sugar lemonades.

                            The plastic bottle is also widely recycled.

                            Having somehow lost the Sprite habit, this is something I will now ensure goes back into my shopping list and in my drinking options when I have to drive afterwards. I will not drink massive quantities as it does still add sugar to my diet and I am trying to lose weight, but I will definitely enjoy it in moderation, both on its own and when it is Pimms o'clock.

                            May be cross-posted to Ciao.

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                            • More +
                              27.05.2013 14:57
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                              Good everyday juice.

                              I am biased. I do like juicy bits in my orange juice. The most perfect orange juice I ever had was plucked from the tree and squeezed straight into my glass and ideally I would go for that freshly squeezed experience every time. However, Central London is not the ideal climate for orange trees and though I do own a juicer, cleaning it is a pig. Premium juices from the shops never quite manage the fresh from the tree experience and can also be stupidly expensive.

                              Which takes us to my everyday compromise between taste and price.

                              Sainsbury's Pure OJ from concentrate with juicy bits.

                              Is it a freshly squeezed experience? No. But neither does it have the sourness that can come from juicing under-ripe supermarket fruit.

                              Does it have the juicy wholeeness of a premium Tropicana or Innocent? Unfortunately not. But it costs so much less that I forgive it.

                              What is does offer is a good everyday juice at a reasonable price. £1.20 for a litre is not cheap, but the juice also does not taste cheap. It tastes like orange juice, despite being reconsituted from concentrate. This is helped by the bits, as I find the smooth version a little less convincing.

                              The bits componant to the juice not only assists the flavour but also make it just that little more filling and add back some of the fibre lost when consuming oranges by their juice rather than by eating the whole fruit. It also makes me feel just a little bit fuller for longer, which does help offset the weight implications of drinking juice over eating whole fruit.

                              A 100ml glass of this fine product will cost 42kcal but also 9.2g of sugar - so diabetics will need to consume with caution.

                              The packaging makes consuming the juice simple. There is a top which opens by twisting, avoiding the need to get the big scissors out for a carton as well as letting it be closed again, which keeps it fresher longer.

                              Not that mine tends to go off. It is so tasty to drink that a one litre carton will go down my throat in a couple of days. This helps me keep up my Vitamin C intake in an enjoyable to drink fashion and all without breaking the bank.

                              A staple of my weekly shop.

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                              • More +
                                26.05.2013 20:08
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                                There are much better carton juices out there.

                                I do love a spot of orange juice and I love saving money just as much. As I have been fighting off the after-effects of the Head Cold From Hell, I have upped my juice intake to get more Vitamin C into my system and keep up the fluids. In an attempt to reduce the cost of this and as I had to do a big shop at Tesco's to pick up some goodies I had a coupon for, I picked up some cartons of this.

                                Speaking of cartons, the packaging and branding of the value range has changed. I do prefer the new version to the one shown, as it does seem less fussy, though as I decant the juice from the opened carton in the fridge into the glass rather than plop the carton on the table, this is not the most important point.

                                What is and what really matters is the taste of the juice itself.

                                So how does this product stand up?

                                I will be honest. I do like my juice with bits. Given a special offer for a Tropicana or Innocent orange juice and I am right there. However, I do like many carton rather than chilled juices. In fact, there are some, such as Sainsbury's Mango that I adore and which are also not expensive. My usual OJ is the Sainsbury's Chilled with Bits but I was more than prepared to give Tescos's value option a fair tasting - even if it was lacking in bits.

                                It did not rise to the occasion.

                                Yes, it was cheaper, at 69p for a litre carton at my Central London Tesco's. As a from concentrate juice I had no delusions of Tropicana, but these can still be tasty juices. This was not. It had that edge to the taste that you sometimes get when a concentrate has not reconstituted. It was not vile. It was discernably orange juice but it lacked the brightness and juiciness that I do expect from my OJ.

                                This was one of those juices where the carton lives in the fridge to deaden the taste more than to give it that chilled finish before entering the glass. I did finish my cartons, as I am too careful not too, but I will not be stocking up on more of them.

                                There are better options out there and ones which are almost as cheap.

                                I will be going with those.

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