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Seemingly inspired by real life cases such as Jaycee Lee Dugard and Elizabeth Fritzel Room is the story of a 19 year old girl who is abducted from a street somewhere in America and held captive in a makeshift room measuring 12 ft by 12 ft. During her captivity the girl is provided with food, clothes, and basic living supplies and perversely allowed to choose a weekly luxury item as a 'treat'.. In return for being fed and clothed the girl is subjected to repeated rape by her captor, who is known only as Old Nick.
During her captivity the girl gives birth to two children, the first a girl is still born, the second child a boy whom she names Jack. We join the story when Jack is five years old and it is Jack who narrates the entire story.
Having spent the whole five years of his live in the room Jack has grown up excepting this as normal, it is after all the only life he has ever known His Ma despite their dreadful plight has done her utmost to care for Jack, protecting him from Old Nick and the reality of their situation as well as educating him as best she can with the very limited resources she has available.
Jack know nothing about the outside world, he does not even believe that there is a world outside of their room. He thinks everything he sees on their old tv set is simply make believe.
When Old Nick reveals to Ma that he has lost his job, Ma begins to panic. Although all her previous attempts to escape have failed she realises that she must think of a way out. If Old Nick gets himself into financial difficulty the bank may reposes his property, what will happen then? Ma knows that old Nick would kill both her and Jack rather that run the risk of being discovered. So with the help of Jack the pair begin to plot their escape.
But attempting to escape is only the beginning....
I'm not going to say any more on the plot as I don't want to spoil the story by revealing to much.
I was engrossed in this book from the very first page, I simply could not put it down and ended up reading the entire book in one day.
Telling the story through the eyes of five year old Jack was a stroke of genius, and it is seeing the story from this view point which makes this book stand out from similar stories. It is evident that the author has done a considerable amount of research into child psychology in order to write this book and although a work of fiction which tells a story almost too horrific to imagine the events are told in such a way that the story comes across as totally believable.
The two main characters Ma and Jack come across really well, both remarkable, likeable and very complex characters that you warm to very early in the book. The portrayal of Ma shows the profound love a mother has for her child, a bond made even stronger due to their horrific plight. Jack, what can I say about Jack? so nieve in so many ways but old beyond his years in others. Jack is such a warm, trusting lovable boy who will melt the heart of even the most hard hearted reader.
Due to the nature of this story it had the potential to be a morbid and depressing read. Not the case, the book takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotions, horrifying in place but heart warming and endearing in others, a truly compelling story which I highly recommend.
A Tiny Bit Marvellous is the debut novel of Dawn French. The book tells the tale of child psychologist Mo Battle and her family.
Meet the family
Dora Battle - Dora is your typical stroppy teenager, who approaching her 18th birthday is struggling to find her place in life. She feels completely misunderstood by her Mother who in her mind was put on the earth just to nag and embarrass her.
Peter Battle - Peter is a rather esentric sixteen year old, who has a strange obsession with Oscar Wilde and prefers to be called Oscar, which he feels suits him much better than the rather ordinary 'Peter'.
Dad - A rather down to earth, family orientated Man.
The story is told by diary extracts from Mo, Dora, Oscar and Dad. (Only one from Dad), which together depict the tale of the all too familiar fracas of modern family life.
Mo who is coming very close to hitting her 50th birthday is having a bit of a mid life crisis. She feels nothing in her life is right and feels dowdy and grey both inside and out. Her life has become a constant battle with daughter Dora who has become a rather obnoxious stroppy teenager. The pair seem incapable of having a civil conversation only constant rows and arguments. Mo also has a struggle relating to her younger child Oscar, who is little essentric to say the least. Poor Mo struggles to deal with the fact that she can't seem to relate to her children, she feels that as a child phycologist that it is her job to understand, so why can't she.
Meanwhile Dora has traumas of her own, having to cope with being dumped by her long term boyfriend (long term being a whole six weeks), the betrayal of her only friend, leaving school and embarking on the process of applying to colleges.
Then there is Oscar who seems to live in a world of his own, drifting through life feeling superior and misunderstood. Then in the background is good old Dad, he doesn't feature heavily through most of the book but comes into his own towards the end.
My opinion of the book
As the book is written by Dawn French I was expecting it to be packed with wit and humor and I wasn't disappointed. The book is extremely funny, laugh aloud funny in places. The characters are portrayed brilliantly and you get to really feel you know them, know them but not necessarily like them. I found myself warming to both Mo and Dora. Mo, who can come across as selfish at times really just wants to make the best of her life and that of her children. Dora comes across as stroppy, moody and a bit immature but it is her narrations which I found the most amusing, her outlook on life is hilarious at times. I don't feel that you get that much insight into Dad as he is very much in the background, but from the times he is mentioned he comes across as a warm, caring family man. And then there is Peter (or Oscar as he prefers to be called), I really could not warm to his character at all, he comes across as quite an obnoxious young man, full of his own self importance and ideas of grandeur.
This book seems to be a little lacking is substance and the plot a little predictable at times but it is so so funny in places. For me it is the humor is what makes this a good read.
Release date for Paperback is 23 June 2011
As a finishing touch to my newly decorated bedroom I wanted something to hang on the wall by the window. I trailed around the high street but nothing seemed to catch my eye. I wanted something a little bit different but I didn't know what.
I then happened across a small gift shop where I saw these tea lights from Sass & Belle. The tea lights look exactly as dooyoo picture, they are 22cm x 11cm and are hung from a 57cm chain. The tea lights are made from metal (does not specify type of metal) which has been spray painted cream.
The tea light has been crafted into a simple yet eligant bird shape which a flower pattern punched out of the centre of the bird and quite delicate hole punched pattern all around the edge of the bird. The bird has no wing on the front but the back of the bird has a wing shaped door through which the tea light is inserted into the holder inside of the bird.
The tea lights are available from www.sassandbelle.co.uk, priced at £6.99 (& £3.00 p+p per order) and also available on amazon where they are available from several different sellers with prices starting at £5.95 (& £1.00 p+p)
The safety warnings that come with the tea lights advise that the product;
- is for external use only
- should be kept out of reach of children
- should never be left unattended when lit
*** *** ***
I fell in love with these tea lights as soon as I saw them and bought 4 intending to hang them at varying heights along the length of the wall. As I wanted them as a decorative feature only I had no intention of lighting them so the safety warning of external use only did not apply to me.
Hanging the birds was quite a simple process as they come with a ready attached chain and hook so it was simply a case of hammering a few nails into the wall to hang the hooks on. Whilst hanging I realised I had overestimated and ended up hanging only 3 of the 4 birds I had purchased.
The remaining tea light I decided to hang out on the patio where it could be used as intended. The tea light has been well designed and it is very easy to insert tea light. Simply open the wing shaped door and slot it in, light the tea light and then close the door.
The bird looks really effective once lit with the candle light glowing through the many decorative holes. You do need to be a bit careful once lit as the metal does get very hot, after use I find it best to blow candle out and leave to cool down before bringing it back inside.
These birds are great as tea lights but also make a great wall feature (decorative only - not to be lit) inside the home. They are well made and look so delicate and pretty.
The Sound Asleep pillow at first glance looks like any other pillow, it is only on closer inspection you realise there is more to it.
The pillow has a small speaker fitted inside of the pillow, there is a wire comes out of the side of the pillow which is designed to connect via a 3.5mm stereo plug to music sources such as ipods, mp3 players, cd players and radios. The idea of the pillow is that it provides a personal sound, the person using it lies their head on the pillow and can hear the music (or other audio source) playing through the pillow, it is not intended to be used as a loud speaker.
The pillow is the size of a standard pillow (48cm x 75cm). The cover is 50% cotton and 50% polyester and has a 100% polyester hollow fibre filling.
*** *** ***
It is not to be used by children under 5 due to strangulation risk
It is recommended that the playing device attached to the pillow is on the flour or a bedside table whilst playing
You are advised to detach the cable from the pillow when not in use.
*** *** ***
My Experiences With The Product
Just over a year ago I was suffering with severe back problems and was on a cocktail of prescription drugs whilst waiting for corrective surgery. Whilst the drugs helped greatly with the pain they did have rather a lot of unpleasant side affects, one of which was insomnia. A a result I spent hour after hour every night lying awake bored out of my mind. As I did not want to disturb my husband watching tv or listening to music was out of the question as I obviously didn't want to make any noise and I found headphones so uncomfortable whilst lying down.
It was during this time a friend suggested I try one of these pillows. I wasn't convinced as to how good this pillow would actually be, it seemed rather gimmicky to me and I did question the quality but decided to give it a try. I ordered my pillow from www.iwantoneofthose.com, I can't remember exactly how much I paid for it but they are currently selling for £17.99 or can be picked up on amazon for lower price of £12.59.
When my pillow arrived a few days later it came packaged in a plastic bag with plastic handles, the packaging almost identical to that of a standard pillow. The pillow itself looked and felt just like a standard pillow, the only visible difference being a wire coming out of one end for which to attach your ipod (or music player of choice). The fabric on the outer of the pillow has quite a cheap look and feel to it but has been well filled and is nice and comfortable to lie on. With a bit of a prod and a poke it is quite easy to locate where the speaker is concealed but once you lie your head on the pillow you can not feel it.
The pillow simply plugs into the headphone socket of your ipod (or music player of choice), turn player on and lie back and enjoy. I was quite surprised by how good the sound was that came from the pillow, it was much better quality than I had expected. It is a nice clear sound which can be set to the volume of your choosing (using volume control on ipod or music player) . I was initially a little disappointed that you can still hear the sounds from the pillow whilst not lying on it, it is quite a muffled sound but unless you have volume set really low it can still be heard in the room. But my husband assured me that it was fine, that he could hardly hear it and it certainly wasn't loud enough to disturb him. Comfort wise the pillow is really good, it is as comfortable as a standard pillow and much more comfortable than wearing headphones.
My pillow has been well used since I got it, it was my most treasured possession whilst laid up with back problems, it was used almost constantly over this period which lasted around 3 months. It enabled me to listen to music, audio books and watch tv via my ipod touch day and night without disturbing my husband who although could hear muffled sounds emitting from the pillow was not disturbed by them. Now I am back on my feet I still use my pillow on a regular basis, it has been well used in the year or so I have had it but it is holding up well. The pillow is not machine washable so I have mine in a pillow protector as well as a pillowcase to keep it clean, it's lost a bit of its bounce as all pillows do but is still very comfortable and it will be not need replacing for a good while yet.
This is a great product which I do not hesitate to recommend.
This is one of my favourite scone recipes. The scones take around 15 minutes to prepare and taste so good.
They are delicious both hot and cold and make a great alternative topping for mince cobbler.
*** *** *** ***
(Makes 12 scones)
450g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
100g unsalted butter
200g mature cheddar (grated)
50g pitted dark olives (finely chopped)
500g sun-dried tomatoes (drained and finely chopped)
A little milk
1. Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°/Gas 8, and lightly grease 2 baking sheets.
2. Place flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl, add butter and rub in with fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
3. Stir in the olives, sun-dried tomatoes and 180g of the grated cheddar.
4. Break the eggs into a measuring jug and combine with milk until egg mixture measures 300ml.
5. Add egg mixture to flour mixture (reserving a little to brush the top of the finished scones). Mix to form a soft dough.
6. Gently knead the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface.
7. Roll dough out to approximate 2.5cm thickness and cut using 7.5cm pastry cutter, cut into 12 rounds.
8. Evenly space dough rounds over your 2 baking sheets, brush tops with the remainder of the egg mixture and sprinkle a little of the reserved cheddar on top of each one.
9. Place in oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes until scone is well risen and golden brown.
Just as the bad weather was setting in my old faithful wellies after many years service finally gave up on me and had to be replaced. Due to the sudden extreme winter we experienced here in the North I found it really difficult to find any wellies in the shops let alone wellies in a style I liked. For this reason I had to turn to the internet, during my search I came across Easy Wellies.
Easy Wellies are high quality Wellington boots that come in a variety of bright funky colours in both stripe and spot designs. The wellies are available at www.easy-wellies.co.uk and are currently priced at £29.99 plus delivery charges. The delivery charges are currently £4.95 for standard delivery and £5.95 for next day delivery.
The wellies are available in sizes 3 to 9 (no half sizes) and have the following features;
- adjustable gusset
- rubber outer
- soft cotton lining
- removable cushioned insole
- reinforced heal and toe shank
- a cleated sole and heal
I was slightly dubious ordering online as I had not actually seen these wellies before. Although they looked good on the web page I really didn't know what they would be like when they arrived. When the wellies did arrive only 3 days later I was extremely pleased with them. They are made of a nice thick rubber, have a nice soft lining and insole, nice chunky cleated grips on sole and heal and looked and felt of good quality.
The wellies are really comfortable to wear, they are quite wide fitting and not at all tight on your legs, they have a quite large gusset on the top of the leg and easy expand to accommodate the larger leg and have plenty of room for nice thick socks or wellie warmers.
With all the nasty weather we have had this winter my wellies have been well and truly tested and have stood up extremely well. I have plodged through snow and mud, splodged through puddles, walked for miles and they have never let me down. They have been extremely comfortable from day one and I have had no problems with slips on ice or mud as the grips on these wellies are excellent. After 2 months of almost daily use my wellies are showing no signs of wear and tear and I expect them to last me for a good few years.
I highly recommend these wellies - they are a quality wellie at a very reasonable price, and with all the bright funky colours available they certainly get you noticed.
The Kenya tea press is a modern looking glass teapot which comes with an integral strainer/plunger.
The teapot is available it two sizes, 0.5L and a 1.0L, it is on the smaller 0.5L size pot that this review is based.
*** *** ***
The tea pot comes in 4 sections.
A dark brown plastic outer cage with handle.
A clear glass bowl with shaped section for pouring.
A white see through plastic strainer
A dark brown plastic lid with built in plunger.
The teapot is easy to assemble (and to take apart for cleaning). The glass bowl slots into the outer cage, this is kept in place by clipping the handle part of the cage onto the glass bowl. The strainer is then inserted into the glass bowl and lid goes on top with plunger part covering the strainer.
Once assembled the teapot is easy to use. Simply remove the lid, pop the loose tea (or the tea bags) into the stainer and replace the lid with the plunger in the up position. Leave your tea to brew until at the strength you require then slowly press down the plunger to seal the tea leaves/bags in the bottom of the strainer where they are no longer in contact with the water and your tea is ready to serve.
*** *** ***
When it comes to tea I know exactly how I like it, for me to enjoy tea it has to be at a certain strength, anything less will just not do.... As this tea pot has a clear glass bowl you can clearly see how strong the tea is before you press the plunger and once pressed the tea will stay at that strength so you are guaranteed the perfect cuppa every time. The pot is just the right size to hold two good sized mugs of tea, and although designed to be used with tea leaves it works equally well with tea bags. The pot does not have a spout as such, it is more like the lip you get on a jug but it has been well designed and pours without any drips.
The first thing I noticed when I unpacked my teapot was how thin the glass is on the bowl, it is really thin just a few millimetres thick. I was a bit concerned that it would be a bit to fragile but I have been using this pot for over a year now and it has proved to be a lot stronger than it looks, after daily use over the last year or so the pot is still in as good condition as the day I bought it.
The only problem I have had with this teapot is that the strainer tends to get a bit discoloured from the tea, not a major problem as I find a quick soak in bicarbonate of soda every few weeks cleans it up like new. That is my only very minor criticism of a great teapot.
I have always been a fan of the good old-fashioned jigsaw puzzle and it has become tradition in our household that we have a jigsaw puzzle on the go over the christmas period. This year the puzzle was a Ravensburger Puzzle - Disney Pixar Montage.
Ravensburger is a German company who are renowned for producing high quality jigsaw puzzles. In 2010 Ravensburger introduced a new range to their collection - The Premium Puzzle range. This range is a set of adult puzzles, these puzzles are produced using a higher grade of cardboard and have been cut using hand-crafted cutting tools, which they claim ensures a supreme fit and excellent finish. The Disney Pixar Montage is just one of the puzzles available in this range. For details of other puzzles available see www.ravensburger.com.
The Disney Pixar Montage Jigsaw puzzle (puzzle no 19 222 9) is a 1000 piece puzzle. It comes in a sturdy cardboard box measuring 37 x 27 x 5.5cm. The box shows a good clear picture of what the finished puzzle will look like. Inside the cardboard outer the jigsaw pieces come sealed inside a plastic bag. The price varies greatly on this jigsaw, I purchased mine for £3.98 from Sainsbury's but have seen it elsewhere priced as high as £12.99 so it is definitely worth shopping around before parting with your cash.
The finished jigsaw measures 70cm x 50cm and although sold as part of the adult puzzle range this puzzle is suitable for children aged 10+.
The jigsaw shows a montage of 9 well known Disney Pixar films ranging from the year 1985 to 2008, the films pictured on puzzle are;
Toy Story (1995)
A Bug's Life (1998)
Toy Story 2 (1999)
Monsters Inc (2001)
Finding Nemo (2003)
The Incredibles (2004)
The pictures are laid out in three rows of three pictures, each of which has a film roll border.
This jigsaw was a pleasure to make up, the only slight quibble I have is that there was quite a lot of cardboard dust in the bag with jigsaw pieces. The jigsaw pieces themselves are of excellent quality, good sturdy thick pieces with lock together really well, there is a nice shine to the top face of the puzzle and the picture quality is first class.
Challenge wise - this is not the most challenging puzzle you will come across, the picture is very clear and it is quite easy to work out which piece relates to which part of the puzzle. If you are an accomplished puzzler who revels in the challenge of a demanding puzzle this is not the puzzle for you. I think this is an ideal puzzle for older children who are just beginning to tackle larger puzzles or for adults (like me) with less than perfect eyesight, with such a clear picture it does not place too much strain on your eyes.
I am not normally a cider drinker but when I came across Rekorderlig Wild Berry Cider in my local Sainsbury store it sparked my interest and I decided to buy a couple of bottles to try. The cider comes in 500ml bottles and was selling in Sainsbury's for £1.94 a bottle.
I had never come across the brand Rekorderlig before but have since found out that it a very popular brand is Sweden and is as a relatively new to the UK market. Other flavours which have been introduced to the UK market are Strawberry-Lime and Apple & Pear.
The cider is according to the bottle made from the purest spring water and is bursting with the freshest fruit flavours and is brewed in a fourth generation family run brewery in Sweden.
** ** **
The cider comes in a brown glass bottle with a cream label, exactly the same as dooyoo picture. On the bottle you are advised that the cider is best served well chilled or can be served on ice. The cider is 4.0 ABV and each bottle contains 1.6 units of alcohol, unfortunately there is no nutritional information given on the bottle.
** ** **
I decided to serve my cider on ice, so poured over ice into my pint glass. Once in the glass the first thing I noticed was the appearance of the drink, it was a nice pinky colour (I would say the colour is very similar to the colour to rosé wine) and was of full of lots of little bubbles. Taste wise the cider is very sweet and I would say tastes somewhere between cherryade and raspberryade. Although somewhat sweeter than I normally favour, I really did like the taste of this cider it was sweet, fruity, nicely sparkling but not to fizzy and was very refreshing. From both the look and taste of the drink you would never suspect it has any alcohol in it, it really just tastes like pop. Whether this is a good thing or not really depends on personal tastes, personally I prefer to taste the alcohol in my drinks.
I did enjoy the few bottles I had, but I would say that this is not a drink I would like to drink on a regular basis and it is a bit too sweet to be drunk in large quantities. It is however a very refreshing drink that I can see myself drinking occasionally on a hot summers day.
In an attempt to create a soft drink for men Halewood International who brought us Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer came up with a new creation - Iron Press.
Iron Press is a bottled soft drink which has been designed to have the look and feel of a real bottle of beer, therefore disguising the fact that it is a soft drink.
Iron Press was launched back in July 2010 and according to their website (www.ironpress.com) comes in two flavours;
Lemon & Lime
Yet the bottle I have in front of me is 'Iron Press - Lime Beer so I am not sure if they have decided to ditch the lemon or to introduce a third flavour. However it has come about it is on Lime Beer that this review is based.
** ** **
My husband came home from the pub one evening clutching a bottle of Iron Press saying "Look, I've got you a present..." At first glance I must admit I thought it was a bottle of real ale and was a tad disappointed when I took hold of the bottle to discover that it was in fact a soft drink. The bottle got stuck in the fridge where it languished for a few weeks before I finally decided to give it a try.
The drink comes in a dark brown 500ml 'beer' bottle with a white and green label. On this label in large black writing is the brand name Iron Press, underneath this in a blue ribbon with white writing is the flavour - Lime Beer. Also written on the top of the label in quite small print is the slogan 'The soft drink for real men'. On the label on the back of the bottle are the words 'Forged from limes with a carbonated malted barley base. Iron Press is the soft drink that is big on taste, big on refreshment and pours like a beer'. It also advises that it best served well chilled.
I would not normally include a list of ingredients but thought I would make an exception in this case as I was myself quite interested to see what this stuff actually contained so thought some of you may also be interested.
Ingredients: Carbonated water, sucrose, lime Juice from concentrate (5%), barley malt extract, glucose syrup flavouring, citrus acid, lactic acid, preservative (potassium sorbate), colour (caramel E150c), antioxidant (vitamin C).
** ** **
My bottle had been languishing in the fridge for a few weeks so it was definitely well chilled. I opened bottle, poured into a pint glass and stood back to check its visual effect. I would not exactly agree that it looks like a real beer, more like a watery looking shandy - it did however have some semblance of a head so I do have to give a little credit for that. In a dark bar, from a distance at a casual glance it may just pass off as a real pint.
Personally I am not in the slightest concerned as to whether people can tell that I am not drinking a real pint, the most important factor to me with any drink is the taste. This drink certainly has a 'taste' but it is a very strange and quite unpleasant one. Whilst drinking it tastes a bit like a very weak shandy with a hint of a lime. After swallowing you are left with a rather unpleasant artificial lime after taste which seems to linger in your mouth long after you have finished drinking. It really is not at all a pleasant taste, so bad I find myself pulling faces just recalling the taste let alone drinking it.
I guess you will not be surprised when I say that I will not be recommending this product. It is a poor attempt at creating an alcoholic alternative to beer.
Whilst browsing my local Marks & Spencer's store I came across their 'Grapefruit & Ginger Infusion Sticks' which were on sale for £15.00. I am not a great fan of the traditional air freshener so I thought this may be a good alternative, I decided to buy one to put in my bathroom.
The infusion sticks come in a clear plastic box with a black and cream border, the packaging has been designed so you can clearly see what is inside. On the back of the packaging are very clear instructions telling you how to use the product.
The product itself comes in three pieces;
- A large modern looking square shaped chunky glass jar which measures approx 6.8cm x 6.8cm x 6.8cm. This jar is filled about two thirds full with the grapefruit and ginger fragrance.
- A white pot screw top which is approx 3.8cm high and has a hole right through centre.
- 14 Wooden infusion sticks which are approx 24cm in length
**How To Use**
To use the product you need to unscrew the pot lid and remove the plastic stopper from the glass jar and replace the lid. Once back in place slide between 5 and 7 of the infusion sticks into the hole lid. The sticks will then drop down into the glass jar where the ends be immersed in the fragrance. The fragrance is then absorbed into the sticks and the scent released into the room. The more sticks you use - the higher the intensity of the fragrance. The fragrance itself evaporates overtime and the packaging states that the fragrance should last up to 8 weeks depending on location and temperature. You are advised to flip the sticks over occasionally in order to refresh the fragrance.
The product comes with a few safety warnings printed on the packaging;
- The product should be kept in a secure place out of reach and sight of children and pets
- Avoid any eye and skin contact
- Wipe up any spillages immediately as they could damage surfaces
- Do not light sticks
When I looked this product up on the M&S website I was surprised to see a safety warning for this product which reads - Never leave a lit infusion stick unattended. I guess this must be a misprint as these sticks are not intended to be lit and there are clear instructions on the packaging saying not to do so. My advise would be heed the warning and do not attempt to light.
**My Experience With The Product**
I set up the product as directed on the packaging, the directions said to use between 5 and 7 infusion sticks at a time so I opted to use 7. My thinking here was as there were 14 sticks in the pack I would use half and replace with the remaining sticks at 4 weeks half way through the products expected life.
I placed the product on a shelf in the bathroom where it did look quite nice, certainly more attractive and decorative than some of the air fresheners you come across. The fragrance developed quite quickly and in less than an hour the room was very heavily fragranced. I could not make out the ginger in the fragrance more a strong grapefruit citrus type of smell. I have to admit the fragrance was very very strong at first and I did not like it one bit. I was very tempted to throw the product away but decided against this mainly because it had cost me £15 and I hate waste. In reflection I am pleased I didn't throw it away because after a few days the fragrance calmed down a lot and developed into a much nicer smell, still the same grapefruit citrus smell but at a much nicer level, I did in the end quite like the smell.
I turned the sticks every few days and replaced with new ones after 4 weeks. I was quite surprised to find the fragrance lasted almost 10 weeks, 2 weeks longer than its expected life. Through out this time (after the first couple of days) my bathroom smelt lovely, a nice fresh clean grapefruity smell.
**Would I Buy Again**
I did attempt to buy a refill of fragrance after mine had run out and was a bit disappointed to find that M&S do not sell refills. It seems so wasteful to have to replace the whole thing each time when the glass jar and pot lid are still as good as new and could easily be used for many years. So for this reason I would not buy again, had refills been available I would not have hesitated to continue using this product.
Like so many people I am at the moment trying to cut back on my spending - always looking for ways to make my money go a little bit further. It was during my recent economy drive I came across Asda Essential Care Jojoba Conditioner for dry/damaged hair.
The conditioner comes in a semi-opaque white plastic bottle 750ml bottle with a flip top cap. The style of the packaging is very simple a plain white bottle with red and pink writing. It is not eye-catching in any way, it is certainly not one of those products that jump out at you on the shelf saying 'buy me, buy me'. For me what did stand out with this conditioner was the extremely low price of £0.70 a bottle. Working out at less than £0.10 per 100mls it was certainly much cheaper than the conditioners I usually buy, but was it going to be money well spent??
The conditioner itself is a baby pink colour and it has a quite a subtle delicate floral smell to it. The bottle say suitable for all the family but I think it may be a bit too much of a feminine girly smell for most men, it is in my opinion one for the girls. The consistency on the conditioner is quite runny, certainly runnier than I expected, the first time I used the product I was caught off guard and ended up squirting 3 or 4 times as much of the product than I needed. The consistency itself is not really a problem for me though, now I know how runny it is I simply take more care when pouring it out of the bottle.
The conditioner is not tested on animals and comes with Asda's 'Try me, love me' guarantee (i.e. They will refund or replace if you are not 100% happy with your purchase).
The directions given for use are simply to massage into wet hair after shampooing and then rinse thoroughly. Rather than rinsing straight off I have found that the conditioner is more effective if you leave it on for a few minutes before rinsing so this is how I tend to use it.
So back to the question of was it money well spent, well yes, it turned out to be money very well spent. I have been using this conditioner for over a month now and am more than happy with it. My hair was very dry and damaged before using this conditioner and I have noticed a definite improvement in its condition, it is no where near as dry as it was and has a nice healthy shine to it. This conditioner has been both good for my hair as well as my finances...
I seem to have an on going battle with dry hands at the moment and have been desperately searching for an inexpensive hand cream to help combat this problem.
During my search I came across Botanics Overnight Hand and Nail Cream.
The cream comes in a clear plastic 100ml tube with green label, is part of Boots Botanics range and retails at £3.49 per tube. The packaging states that the hand cream is 'packed with rich oils to deeply condition hands and nails', containing grapeseed oil to intensly hydrate and honey to add moisture. As the title suggests the product is designed to be applied to hands and nails before going to bed, you are advised to apply liberally and massage into hands and nails. The product comes in a recyclable packaging, has been dermatalogically tested and should be used within 2 years of opening the tube.
There is a warning on the packaging which says that the product contains alpha hydroxy acid that may increase your skins sensitivity to the sun. You are advised to use a sun screen and limit your exposure to the sun for a week after the use of this product. A point well worth bearing in mind if you are venturing out in the sun (at this time of year I guess frost bite with be more a problem for most of us than sun burn but thought it best to mention the risks).
The cream itself is a light grey colour with a purple tint and is of a good consistency which absorbs easily into your skin. The fragrance of the cream is a very strong lavender scent. The scent for me a far too strong, it is a very strong pungent smell quite overpowering. My husband hates the smell too and has now after tolerating the smell for several weeks banned me from using the product completely.
Smell aside the cream does do its job, after a few weeks of regular use my hands did show some signs of improvement, they were not exactly what you would call baby soft but no where near as dry and weather beaten as before I started using the product.
Overall though for me this cream is not one I would buy again, yes it is reasonably priced and has improved the condition of my hands for me the smell was a little too much and for that reason I would not purchase this product again. Unless you are a real lover of 'lavender' I would advise giving this one a miss.
My search for the perfect hand cream goes on...
I have often seen Soap & Glory products on display in my local Boots store whilst out shopping for bath/body products - they certainly stand out on the shelves with their distinctive retro packaging. The packaging is fun and funky but to me the packaging does just that makes the product look 'fun' rather than advertise the Soap & Glory brand as quality bath/body products. For this reason I have often looked at them but have never purchased.
I was recently presented with a box of Soap & Glory goodies as a gif so it was the ideal opportunity for my to try without having to part with any of my hard earned cash.
Amongst the products received was a tub of "Scrub 'em and leave 'em body buff. The scrub comes in a large 300ml tub in the typical retro designed packaging which tells you in a glance that it is Soap & Glory and costs £7.00 per tub. The scrub is part of the 'Mist you madly' range and is fragranced with bergamont, blackcurrant, magnolia, freesia, vanilla and musk. It is made in the UK, and is not tested on animals and after opening should be used within 2 years.
Due to my own preconceptions I was not expecting too much from this product. When I first unscrewed the lid to inspect the contents I was pleasantly surprised. The scrub is a gorgeous creamy pink colour with small beads of bright pink and clear chunks of rock salt and has a nice thick consistency. And the smell... simply out of this world. It is absolutely gorgeous, a very feminine sweet floral smell, quite strong but in no way overpowering - simply divine.
Now I was beginning to see this product in a whole new light and couldn't wait to try it. I did as directed on packaging scoop out a handful, rubbed into my body and then rinsed off. I found the scrub very easy to use, its nice thick consistency made it very easy to apply, I found it to be a very gentle but effective scrub with the sea salt gliding over skin and gently melting away leaving my skin feeling smooth, polished, beautifully soft and smelling great.
Overall I was very impressed with this product and owe Soap & Glory a big apology for ever having doubted the quality of their products. I absolutely love this product and can not wait to try more of there range.
Banana Bread Beer is brewed by Wells & Young's Brewing Company - the UK's largest private brewery.
Banana Bread Beer was launched in 2002 and was originally introduced in an attempt to attract the younger end of the market. The beer has since firmly established itself as a serious contender in the real ale market, in its launch year of 2002 it won the 'Beer of Festivals' award at CAMRA's London Drinkers Festival.
Although predominantly available in a 500mml glass bottle, Banana Bread Beer is also available as a draught seasonal cask. I have not been fortunate enough to have ever found this on draught so this review is based solely on the bottled version which is readily available in most supermarkets where it retails at between £1.67 - £1.69 a bottle depending on store.
The beer has an alcohol strength of 5.2% and is best served at a temperature of 10 - 12 degree centigrade.
The beer comes in a clear glass bottle through which you can see a gorgeous dark amber coloured liquid which when poured into a glass the beer produces a good thick creamy coloured head. The name to me suggested a quite a sweet and perhaps sickly tasting beverage. How wrong could I have been?? The beer was nothing like I envisaged. Yes it has a very sweet banana smell about it but the taste in contrast is a nice smooth hoppy bitter with just the faintest hint of banana which balances beautifully with the bitterness resulting in a slightly tangy bitter with a dry finish to it. On the face of it the sweet smell and hoppy bitter taste should not go well together but they combine beautifully resulting in a refreshingly different and distinctive real ale.
If you are a fan of real ale I would definitely recommend giving this one a try, don't be put off by the name it really is a great ale, one which I heartily recommend.