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_lauren_
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Member since: 10.10.2008

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    • More +
      27.01.2010 19:59
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      Not for me

      I found a sample sachet of this in my toiletry stash so thought I'd review it!

      I was a bit dubious on first appearances as the product is a yellow thin gel, with orange beads in it - not your usual facial product colours! It is meant to have a citrus fragrance but it smells quite chemically to me - which put me off slightly, but with the promise of 'clean, smooth & beautifully energised skin' I thought I'd give it a go anyway!

      I have found some previous Clean & Clear products harsh on my skin so was surprised when it lathered up well and felt very creamy and luxurious.

      The exfoliating beads didn't feel too scratchy, and I could feel them working which was a bonus. Although I'm still not convinced with this 'Bursting Beads' technology I keep finding in facial scrubs - this one hasn't changed my opinion that they are a gimmick!

      After I had used this scrub my face did feel thoroughly exfoliated, but it also felt quite stripped of any moisture, which I thought wouldn't happen as it was so creamy when I was applying it.

      The packaging states that this scrub should be used daily for best results, however I think that this would be too much for sensitive skin types like my own.

      I wouldn't buy this product again, as I think there are better products out there, but using a sample size made a change from my usual facial scrub.

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      • Review of the Year 2009 / Discussion / 37 Readings / 37 Ratings
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        30.12.2009 01:28
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        First half = great, second half = not so good... roll on 2010!

        *What did you do in 2009 that you have not done before?*

        I went on a short city break to Bruges!

        *Did anyone close to you give birth?*

        Unfortunately not. They will in Jan 2010 though!

        *Did anyone close to you die?*

        A family friend who we hadn't seen for ages. It was unexpected as he was only in his early-forties.

        *What countries did you visit?*

        I went to Bruges in Belgium.

        *What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?*

        Some time to myself instead of sorting out everyone elses problems.

        *What dates will you remember from 2009?*

        I guess finishing my first school placement - the relief and feeling of achievement was great!

        *Did you suffer illness or injury?*

        Only the usual colds and stuff. I have had really bad back this year though!

        *What was the best thing you bought?*

        Some lovely Kurt Geiger shoes, and I was really pleased with the Christmas presents I bought people.

        *Whose behaviour has merited celebration?*

        My own! I have managed not to lose my temper so much this year and have worked hard with my money and uni.

        *Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?*

        No one I can think of.

        *Where did most of your money go?*

        I reckon presents for people, I find it hard to stop buying! And I probably spent way too much on Kurt Geiger and Soap & Glory this year.

        *What did you get really excited about?*

        Bruges and Christmas I think.

        *What song(s) will you remember from 2009?*

        The Vampire Weekend album has been played a lot this year.

        *Compared to this time last year are you . . . happier, fitter, or more productive?*

        Generally I am happier, but not the last few months. I am less fit, need to sort that out in 2010! And I have been more productive.

        *What do you wish you had done more of?*

        Spent more quality time with my OH rather than trying to sort out other people's problems.

        *What do you wish you had done less of?*

        Less worrying, eating, and spending money in Boots!

        *What was your favourite TV programme?*

        True Blood and The Inbetweeners - fantastic shows!

        *Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate last year?*

        No. Hate is a strong word!

        *What was your greatest musical discovery?*

        I don't think there was one this year!

        *What did you want to get in 2009?*

        To become more confident when teaching, and I think I have. And to become debt-free, which I've also done!

        *What did you want and didn't get?*

        Nothing important. Actually, I wanted to become more organised with my uni work and I haven't done that.

        *What is your favourite film of the year?*

        In Bruges

        *What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?*

        I was 20 and I spent it with family.

        *What political issue stirred you the most?*

        I thought Obama becoming President was great.

        *Who was the best person you met?*

        The children I taught.

        *Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009?*

        When teaching, that it is all an act when you don't feel confident. And lately, to let the small things slide.

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        • More +
          14.12.2009 22:34
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          Great for a meal that has everything when you're in a hurry

          Firstly, the picture shown is not correct. It is now in your typical plastic container, and has a cardboard sleeve round it which you can slide off to enable you to see the whole meal. I like to do this to pick the best looking piece of salmon! I often wonder, these things are produced in a factory, so why are they always different?! But anyway...

          I have bought this meal a few times as I love salmon and potatoes, and I think £3 for a healthy ready meal when I am in a rush is pretty reasonable.

          *Packaging*

          As I said before, this is in a standard cardboard sleeve, which feels quite rough - to add to the healthy living style? Who knows! The front states that this is a good source of omega 3, a good source of protein and 1 of your 5 a day. It also says that it serves 1, and has no added artificial preservatives, flavours, colours or hydrogenated fat. So all good!

          *Preparation*

          This meal can only be microwaved, but can be microwaved from frozen which is handy, although I've never done it so I can't comment on the taste of the meal cooked from frozen. To cook from chilled it takes between 3.5mins and 5 mins depending on the power of your microwave. You simply pierce the film lid and shove it in! Easy peasy. It takes between 9 and 12 mins to cook from frozen.

          *Product*

          "Potato, honey roast salmon, peas, broccoli and green beans with a creme fraiche sauce"

          All the times I have had this meal, except once, it has been lovely. The potatoes and veg have had a really nice texture, not too under or over cooked. The salmon has always been a decent size, and although can sometimes can be a little dry, the tasty, creamy sauce helps this. It doesn't feel as if you are eating something from the healthy living range. One point I should make is that if the packet didn't say 'honey roast salmon' then I wouldn't know! It just tastes like a normal piece of salmon.

          However, the last time I had this meal, once it was cooked all the veg was brown and there was brown liquid in it. I'm not sure why this was as I didn't take the product back. It won't stop me buying it again, although if this happens again I'll take it back to Tesco!

          *Nutritional Info*

          Each pack contains
          320 calories (16% GDA)
          4.3g sugar (5% GDA)
          10.1g fat (14% GDA)
          3.5g sat fat (18% GDA)
          0.6g salt (10% GDA)

          This seems quite reasonable to me, apart from the salt! The ingredients in this meal are all the things you would use to make this meal yourself, which is reassuring that you're not eating any rubbish.

          *Overall*

          Even though my last experience with this product wasn't good, I would definitely buy it again as it is a tasty, filling meal that I can grab in a hurry.

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          • More +
            27.11.2009 22:20
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            Lives up to the claims

            I get lower back pain very often, and at the moment it it is hurting a lot.

            I work on a checkout at the weekend and 5.5 hours of sitting down does nothing for my back! I was nearly crying during one shift because of the pain, and so on my lunch break I went to look for anything that would help as the paracetamol just weren't working.

            I spotted these Nurofen back patches and grabbed them as they seem like a trusted brand and I noticed the 8 on the front and thought 'great! 8 patches for £3.19, what a bargain!'. However, don't be fooled like me, you only get 2 single-use patches! The 8 refers to the 8 hour relief!

            *Claims*

            The back of the pack states that these heat patches 'contain natural minerals that heat up when exposed to the air to: deliver deep muscle-relaxing heat, and give effective, soothing pain relief.' It also says that it is 'effective pain relief for back and muscle pain. 8 hour relief of pain & stiffness: backaches, muscle pain, neck or shoulder pain, without the need for medicines.' They sounded perfect for me so I hoped they would live up to the claims!

            *Usage*

            There are 2 single-use patches in the pack, and to use you simply peel off the protective film and stick it where you need it! The patch is like 2 mini patches in one - this is to create a hinge and to make it move with your body easier. This worked really well and was a great idea as it was in direct contact with the curves of my back, rather than the middle not touching my back as with other patches without the hinge.

            *Results*

            When I first used a patch I thought it wasn't working as I couldn't feel any heat. However, after about 10 mins I could feel the heat start to come through. It started off as a relaxing heat, then got quite hot! It feels as if you are holding a freshly made hot water bottle on your back. It is only uncomfortably hot if you press the patch by leaning back in a chair or something.

            It definitely reduced my back pain from sharp pains, to a dull ache, which was a welcome improvement! I was very surprised by how long the heat lasted. The claim of 8 hours is true! I actually had to take it off because I was sick of the heat. I don't think wearing these patches in the summer would be very nice because of the heat. But they are slim and discreet so that is a bonus.

            One thing I will say is NOT TO FIDDLE WITH IT once it's on. It very quickly loses it's adhesive and I had to hold mine in place with my tights because I kept moving it!

            *Other Information*

            The pack states not to apply pressure to the patch during use (this includes lying in bed) but I did occasionally due to being sat in a chair, and the only effect I had was that it made the heat pad feel hotter. But obviously there might be other reasons not to apply pressure!

            The pack also says to consult your doctor before using the patch if you:
            - have poor circulation, diabetes or arthritis or any other serious medical condition
            - get skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis, or have very sensitive skin
            - are pregnant.

            I have sensitive skin and it didn't effect my skin but it's something to be aware of.

            *Overall*

            Although I think they are quite expensive, working out at just over £1.50 per patch, they did give instant results from my back pain. They are going to be a permenant fixture in my medicine cabinet, ready for any periods where I have to sit down for a long time. Be sure to use them as well as paracetamol (if possible) as they work really well together and provide even more pain relief.

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            • More +
              20.11.2009 00:47
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              Well worth a try!

              I have recently become introduced to the fabulousness that is Soap & Glory and am currently working my way through their products. After success with the body scrub I decided to have a look for a facial scrub. And I found one!

              *Packaging*

              It is a fairly thin, easy to hold tube that stands on it's screw top lid. It is a pretty pearly white colour and looks girly and lovely without being too sickly sweet! The front of the tube has the S&G logo at the top, with the name of the product written underneath - 'Greatest Scrub of All'. It also says that this scrub is for all skin types. Underneath the product name is a brief description - 'facial exfoliator with smooth-boosting spheres that pop open when you press on them!'

              The back of the tube has an eyecatching box with a pink border and 'LOOK AT ME!' written above it. Inside this box is the usage instructions. 'Smooth around from place to place (your oily chin, blackhead-blocked nose, a flaky forehead). Apply a pea-sized splodge of The Greatest Scrub of All onto damp skin with whichever regularity suits you. (Oily skins can be scrubbed 2-4 x week, dry and sensitive types a little less - like once or twice). Massage in circles for thirty-ish seconds and rinse. Follow with moisturiser and eye cream.'

              This product was user tested in the UK, and has a shelf life of 12 months.

              *Application*

              The tube is easy to hold, although I prefer a flip top lid as you don't have to faff around with unscrewing lids and then the lid falling off the edge of the bath! The scrub is like a solid cream when it comes out the small hole of the tube, and is a pearly white colour. The first thing I noticed about this scrub was the smell. I was expecting the trademark S&G fragrance but this has a minty smell which at first was a bit offputting, but I soon quite liked the fact that it smells fresh.

              I followed the instructions on the tube and used a pea-sized amount but found I needed a bit more than that. The texture was grittier than I thought it would be and feels like very fine sand. There seems to be no large particles, and I like the fact that this scrub feels like it is really exfoliating my skin but without scratching it with large particles. I didn't feel the spheres that pop open as advertised on the tube, but I don't know if you're meant to!

              It was easy to rinse off and my skin definitely felt smoother with no residue.

              *Summary*

              I have sensitive skin and use a facial scrub about twice a week. I found that after using this scrub the skin around my nose felt very raw and stung. I am not sure whether I scrubbed too hard or whether it is too harsh for my skin.

              My skin felt smoother, but the recommendation of following with moisturiser is a good one!

              I will use this scrub again to see whether I get the same reaction to my skin because I would like to keep using it. I like the fresh smell and the texture of it. I paid £7.87 for this from Boots and feel this is quite expensive for this scrub, but if you can get it on offer and don't have extremely sensitive skin then I definitely think it's a worthwhile addition to any Soap & Glory collection!

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            • Abel & Cole Organics / Online Shop / 54 Readings / 53 Ratings
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              14.11.2009 22:17
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              If you're rich and eat lots of fruit and veg then why not! Otherwise, wait for an offer.

              Taken from Abel & Coles's Facebook page - "Delivering good food the right way since 1988, Abel & Cole is one of the pioneers of organic food retailing in the UK. We provide an ethical alternative to the supermarket as we have remained passionately dedicated to our customers, farmers, animal welfare and the environment in everything we do."

              Recently, I saw an offer where if you were a new customer with Abel & Cole, if you placed an order worth £15 or over, for 4 consecutive weeks, then you'd receive £50 credit to spend. Well I thought this was a fabulous offer so thought I'd give it a go!

              I am currently on my third week and I have mixed thoughts. Part of the conditions of the offer were that you had to include a fruit/veg box in your offer. I chose the 'small mixed organic box' which is apparantly perfect for 1 person. This costs £10.95. Although the fruit and veg was going to be for me and my boyfriend, I thought I'd rather start with less and not waste any. I'm glad I got the small box because you get a lot of fruit and veg in it!

              *Ordering*

              It is easy to order online at www.abelandcole.co.uk, and their customer service is fantastic. It has won awards! I rang up to check that I had done it right, and they answered immediately, and were very helpful. The FAQs section is very thorough, and answers a lot of questions you might have.

              There is a large and varied amount of products available to buy such as fruit and veg, meat, fish, dairy products, bakery, storecupboard items, drinks, household, dietary alternatives, and vegetarian. There is also a Christmas range just launched, so you can buy your turkey and a Christmas veg box!

              You simply add the products to your basket, then select what date you would like them delivered. Some areas cannot be delivered to which is an obvious problem if you live out in the sticks, but they are expanding their delivery areas all the time and there is the option to check if they deliver to your area on the website.

              *Delivery*

              The delivery charge is 99p which is very reasonable! My delivery comes every Wednesday, you can't change this day as it's a driver doing the rounds! They don't give a time, but you can state where to leave the box if you are not in. Mine usually comes at about 8am, which is great for me as I can put the box inside as I'm leaving the house. Your food comes in cardboard boxes, which you can leave out for your driver the following week. Cold products are placed in bags with ice packs and gel packs to keep them cool. These are also given back to the driver which I think is good as everything is reused!

              *Fruit and Veg*

              You can look on the website to see what products your box will contain which is handy, as it means you know what to expect. A feature that is brilliant is being able to say which fruit and veg you don't want - either just once, or never. This means I will never get celery or fennel! They always replace the fruit/veg you don't want with something else; either more of something already in your box, or something else. Last time I got pomegranates instead of apples so that was good!

              The quantities have always been great, more than enough. However, sometimes the quality can be a bit hit and miss. Vegetable seem to go soft very quickly, but this could just be because I'm not storing them correctly. I keep them in the box on the floor, maybe I should put them in the fridge?! But they taste good when I use them, although not that much different to what I usually buy!

              *Meat and Fish*

              So far I have had bacon, lamb burgers and salmon burgers. The bacon was lovely, and cost me £3.19 for 250g of thick-cut, smoked, back bacon. I thought this was reasonable because it tasted really good! It came in a white papery packet which made me feel very sophisticated! The salmon burgers were also great. They cost £4.25 for 2 huge burgers (225g each). They were gorgeous and very filling.

              However, I did have a problem with the lamb burgers. When it came to using them I noticed they had an odd smell and looked grey. They were also very hard. I cooked them anyway and thought they tasted odd so I emailed Abel & Cole who were brilliant, apologised profusely and refunded me.

              *Dairy*

              The only dairy product I have had so far is some Yeo Valley double cream. It was in date but smelled off, so I didn't use it. I didn't email Abel & Cole this time though because I didn't want to look like someone who thinks everything smells off!

              *Summary*

              When this offer has finished I won't be carrying on with the veg boxes as I think that for £10.95 I could go and get loads of veg as and when I need it, rather than all at once and it going off. I plan to get a lot of meat and fish with my £50 credit, and depending on the quality of that, I might get meat delivered in the future.

              I think Abel & Cole is well worth a try if you come across an offer to try first.

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              • More +
                13.11.2009 23:59
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                At the current price of £7.40 - a bargain for a brilliant book

                I am a huge fan of Nigel Slater's writing - it makes me want to drool it sounds so good! He has a way with words and is incredible at describing food. I have many of his books, and this is a good one. I have a lot of cookery books, and tend to read them rather than cook lots out of them! This is definitely a 'reader', as well as being an excellent cookbook.

                The book I have was published in 2006 and has a much better cover than the one shown by DooYoo! It cost me about £10 from Sainsbury's if I remember rightly. It is currently available for £7.40 on Amazon though which is a complete bargain!

                *The Book*

                The first main page states "there is too much talk of cooking being an art or a science - we are only making ourselves something to eat." This sums up Slater's style of cooking; it is relaxed and informal. His recipes are more of a guide than a rigid formula. This works perfectly for me because I tend to use recipe books as inspiration.

                There are several sections in the book:
                - Introduction
                - Pots, Pans and Heat
                - Fish and Shellfish
                - Chicken & Other Birds
                - Pork, Bacon & Sausages
                - Lamb & Other Meats
                - Pasta, Beans, Rice & Grains
                - Vegetables
                - Cheese, Snacks & Puddings
                - Index

                So there is something for everyone! What I like about this book is that it contains information on ingredients. For example, at the beginning of the Fish & Shellfish chapter he talks about: why he likes fish, and white fish and oily fish and what flavours go well with them. He also says what to look out for when shopping for fish which I have found useful.

                The recipes aren't set out in a standard format (as in, a recipe on each page), which makes this book the type that you flick through and see what grabs you. The sections make this easier to do. However, the index is useful if you need to find a certain recipe.

                *Recipes*

                Recipes range from simple ones such as 'Roast Cod' which is 3 ingredients and 2 paragraphs, to 'Italian-Style Slow-Cooked Aromatic Lamb' which is 13 ingredients and nearly a page of writing. However, all his recipes are simple and easy to follow. When you read them it is as if your Mum is telling you down the phone! He explains the noises, smells, and colours you should experience at certain points which are useful.

                Slater doesn't have much in the way of puddings - there are 9, and the majority of them are fruit based so not so good for the chocolate lovers out there! He is definitely a savoury man, and this is evident in the way he writes about the snacks! Recipes for 'crisp, buttery, toasted things' buttery, cheesy, stodgy things' and 'cold cuts salads and the ultimate sandwich' all appear in the book and although it is not the type of things you would usually need a recipe for, it is a joy to read and just makes you want to eat it!

                Here is an extract from the chapter 'Pork, Bacon & Sausages':

                'To be good, really good, a sausage must be hot and sticky. It must sport that tacky, savoury goo that you get when it has been cooked slowly. It must be sweet, savoury, gooey, chewy and all at once. And a sausage should always be eaten when slightly too hot - part of the joy of a banger is to toss it around your mouth while making sucking and blowing noises. A tepid sausage is a friend to no one.'

                Now I don't know you about you, but that makes me want to go and eat sausages!

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                • More +
                  07.11.2009 13:25
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                  A must for people with sensitive scalps

                  A couple of years ago I was treated to a hair cut at Charles Worthington's salon in London. The whole experience was incredible and especially the hair wash! My hair felt amazing and I asked what shampoo they used. I was told it was Kerastase. Predictably, I was suggested a whole load of products from the range and I was soon persuaded to buy a shampoo and serum.

                  I have a very sensitive scalp that can get very dry, sore and itchy and so was told that this would be perfect for it. It cost me £13 about a year ago, but may be cheaper now going by approximate prices on the Internet.

                  *Packaging*

                  This product is in a quite short and dumpy bottle, with a flat, oval shaped screw top lid. Due to it being oval shaped it is easy to open, even with wet soapy hands. The colour of the bottle is a sort of dark turquoise color, and the lid is darker than the bottle. I like how it stands out, but still looks professional, and that you can see how much product you have left.

                  Most of the text on the bottle is French - on the front it says 'shampoo for sensitive scalps and normal to combination hair'. This statement is repeated on the back of the bottle, along with 'soothes, moisturises and purifies the scalp. Restores lightness to the hair. Relaxing fragrance.' The directions for use are: 'Apply to wet hair, massage, rinse and repeat.'

                  There is also the usual warning about avoid contact with eyes, plus it states that this product is dermatologically tested, and is exclusive to Kerastase Consultant Salons.

                  *Product*

                  This product feels really luxurious, but oddly, only when you rinse and repeat! I always find that when I first rub it into my scalp it doesn't seem to lather much. So what I do is use a teeny amount first, then rinse and repeat using a normal amount of shampoo.

                  The product smells really fresh and clean - like something you would find in an ocean spa range or something! It smells natural and like it is good for my scalp. It's hard to explain but when I use it, it feels as if it is cooling my scalp which is a really good feeling.

                  *Summary*

                  After using this shampoo my scalp feels noticeably better and less sore and dry, and my hair is also in great condition. It is a lot of money for a shampoo but I definitely recommend it for anyone with sensitive scalps.

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                  • More +
                    06.11.2009 23:14
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                    Go try GBK, especially if you have a voucher!

                    My Nan recommended GBK to us after my boyfriend mentioned how much he likes burgers. Living in Bristol, we have 2 GBK restaurants - Park Street and Cabot Circus. We have only ever visited the Park Street restaurant as it is always quieter due to most people eating at the Cabot Circus venue after shopping. There are 49 GBK restaurants in the country.

                    *GBK Background*

                    Gourmet Burger Kitchen originated in New Zealand and they aim to use the best ingredients available to create and extensive range of freshly prepared burgers. The menu is refreshed twice a year (Spring and Autumn) to reflect the change in seasons, ingredients and customer feedback. I have been to GBK a fair few times and have noticed that the odd burger is missing, and new ones have appeared. They are not massive changes which is good, but it is also nice that they don't continually have the same menu because it might get boring if you go there a lot.

                    *The Restaurant*

                    What I like about GBK is that we can go for burger, chips and milkshake, but not feel like we're sat in Burger King or McDonald's. I like going out for meals with my boyfriend and this is no different. The restaurant is modern yet classy, with wooden floors, simple table and chairs, spotlights, and artwork on the walls. I like the fact that it is light and airy.

                    When you arrive you can either go and sit down or if you look a bit lost then someone will show you to a table. There is a large menu on the wall, or you can read the menu that they give you. Once you have chosen what you would like then you go up to the desk where you place your order. I think this is great as it means staff aren't rushing you to choose, or you aren't sat waiting for someone to take your order! This method also means that you can leave when you're done, rather than trying to catch someone's eye for the bill!

                    *The Burgers*

                    According to the GBK website, "the oversized sourdough buns are baked each morning by our artisan baker. The Aberdeen Angus Scotch Beef, fresh English chicken and fresh vegetables are delivered each day. Gourmet Burger Kitchen uses only 100% Aberdeen Angus Scotch Beef which is sourced from fully traceable grass reared animals. Our premium organic burgers come from the world famous in Laverstoke Park farm in Hampshire, England."

                    There are 28 burgers on the menu, ranging from the 'Classic' which has just salad, mayo and relish, to the 'Kiwiburger' which contains beetroot, egg, pineapple, cheese, salad, mayo and relish. I always have the 'Blue Cheese' which contains (yep, you guessed it!) stilton cheese! This is in the form of an 'aged Stilton dressing' with salad, mayo and relish. The Stilton dressing is like mayo with chunks of blue cheese in, but it's very tasty even though I don't really like mayonnaise. When you order your burger they ask how you would like it cooked which is great. There have been a few occasions where it has been slightly underdone but I'm sure they'd be more than happy to shove it back on for you!

                    The 28 burgers in the range consists of:
                    -- 13 beef burgers
                    -- 4 chicken burgers - Chicken breast panko-breadcrumbed and fried
                    - Chicken
                    - Camembert and cranberry
                    - Satay
                    - Avocado and bacon
                    -- 5 vegetarian burgers
                    - Falafel
                    - Puy lentil
                    - Mushroom
                    - Aubergine and goat's cheese
                    - Veggie and camembert
                    -- 3 speciality burgers
                    - Chorizo
                    - Greek lamb
                    - Mint lamb
                    -- Laverstock Park Farm burgers
                    - Buffalo
                    - Wild boar
                    - Organic Moroccan lamb

                    You can also have extras on your burger which range from £1.25 (cheddar, avocado, etc), £1.45 (Oven roasted tomatoes, blue cheese, etc), £1.75 (bacon, mozzarella, etc) and £2.10 (mushroom, goat's cheese, etc).

                    For children or people with small appetites there is the option of smaller burgers. You can choose from beef, chicken, cheese and bacon or puy lentil.

                    The burgers in GBK are huge, I would say about as large as my hand outstretched. Or, about as big as a Burger King Whopper! When they arrive, they are on a plate with a large cocktail stick through it. There is a certain strategy to eating these burgers. This isn't one you can pick up and eat! Mine usually end up in bits all over the plate. I would advise people to leave the cocktail stick in because it really does hold it together!

                    *Other Food*

                    GBK have recently introduced starters. You can choose from marinated mixed olives, or spicy mixed nuts if you want something to nibble. Or if you'd prefer something hot then perhaps cajun chicken pieces, lamb koftas, grilled chicken kebabs, or homemade onion rings would take your fancy? I tried the lamb koftas and although they were tasty, we thought 4 small sticks was quite a measly portion for £3.95.

                    If you feel the need to have something with your burger then chunky chips are available for £2.75. One bowl is enough for 2 people to share. They aren't the best chips I've ever eaten, but they're good enough! You can buy separate dips to go with the chips and these are £1.55 each which I think is too expensive for the small amount that you get. I just dip my chips in my blue cheese sauce on my burger.

                    For those on a diet or who don't fancy a burger then salads are available. You can either have side salads: rocket and parmesan, GBK homeslaw, or a mixed leaf salad; or a main salad:
                    -- GBK salad
                    -- Butternut squash salad
                    -- Chilli chicken salad
                    -- Spiced Bulgar salad with,
                    - Grilled marinated chicken
                    - Grilled lamb kofta.

                    GBK don't do much in the way of desserts but to be honest I don't think they are needed as you are always really full anyway! But if you're desperate then they do 3 flavours of Ben & Jerry's ice cream for £2.50.

                    *Drinks*

                    The milkshakes in this place definitely deserve a special mention. There are £3.65, which is expensive, but they come out in those American style metal containers so you can pour your own milkshake out. You get about 3 glasses from one container. I always have chocolate and they are incredible! So creamy and thick and lovely! They also have the usual selection of soft drinks, juices, wine, beer and cider available. I also ask for tap water which they are always happy to give.

                    *Cost*

                    The price of the burgers range from £5.95 to £9.95 for the Laverstock Farm burgers. The small burgers are approximately £4, and the salads range from £2.75 to £7.95.

                    Although the food here is always good, I do think it can work out quite expensive once you add on stuff like the milkshake! There always tends to be some vouchers kicking around so my advice would be to use them! We never go now unless we have a voucher. Previous vouchers have included 'buy one burger, get one free', or '2 burgers and chips for £15'. The current voucher is '2 burgers and chips for £10' which is an absolute bargain! To get hold of these vouchers in the future it is easy enough to join the GBK Gang which then emails you the vouchers. You can join this gang at www.cravegbk.com

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                      03.11.2009 23:11
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                      Expensive, but if it's good quality then it's worth it

                      Carluccio's is a chain of Italian cafes started by Antonio Carluccio. Their aim is to provide great quality, authentic Italian food at sensible prices. There are 45 Carluccio's cafes around the country.

                      The atmosphere is light, airy and modern. The staff look quite authentically Italian in their uniform (not that I've ever been to Italy!) and although it is a cafe it feels quite formal. It feels like an occasion when you go there.

                      There is the opportunity to buy products from their shop while you are there. This is true of the Chiswick and Bristol venues, but I cannot say the same about all venues. However, you can buy products online. Their products are very good. They sell authentic Italian products such as risotto rice, and these gorgeous little hazelnut biscuits. You can also buy cold deli products such as antipasti and ham. Their bread, cakes and pastries are especially good. And if you get there at the right time (i.e. when they're closing) then they might give you free bread like they did to my Dad once!

                      *********************************************************

                      Once upon a time, a young girl was taken to a fairly small Italian restaurant in Chiswick. This restaurant was called Carluccio's. The food was unlike anything she had ever tasted. The calamari was exciting, crisp, fresh and gorgeous. The gnocchi with a gorgonzola and spinach sauce was stodgy, satisfying and scrumptious. The tiramisu was dreamy, divine and delicious. But the girl was dragged away from the incredible food, many miles away, never to see it again...

                      UNTIL! They opened a Carluccio's in her home town! And so I tell you my tale of reliving my original Carluccio's experience.

                      *********************************************************

                      I visited the Carluccio's in Cabot Circus, in Bristol. Everything was as I remembered it and I was beyond excited. I had been dreaming of eating at Carluccio's again.

                      To start I ordered calamari, eager to taste the same flavours I had tasted once before. However, I was disappointed to find that my calamari was soggy and quite greasy. This wasn't the crisp delectable dish I remembered! I forced it down because I didn't want to leave nearly a whole plate of calamari. It costs £5.95 and this is a large portion. Too much for one, enough for 3 I'd say.

                      I thought to myself, 'ok, maybe someone is having an off day. There's still mains and dessert to come!'

                      I decided to order Saltimbocca Di Maiale which is pork escalope, pan fried in white wine, wrapped in Parma ham and sage. Served with sauteed potatoes. What could go wrong?! It sounded perfect. When it arrived, the pork itself looked gorgeous. The crispy Parma ham made it look very appetising. The sauteed potatoes also looked great, although there weren't enough of them. However, there was a pale thin sauce that the pork was sat in. I am assuming this is the white wine that the pork was fried in, but it didn't look or taste that great. It was like a fairly bland gravy. And there was too much of it. It almost drowned the pork. This main cost £11.50.

                      So now I was thinking that at least things were improving! And my old friend the tiramisu was still to come..

                      I am pleased to say that the tiramisu lived up to my memories! It was a decent sized portion for £4.95. And it is incredible. Smooth and creamy, with not too much coffee or liqueur.

                      So, to be honest I was quite disappointed with my first Carluccio's experience after Chiswick! The food wasn't the quality I remembered, and seemed overpriced.

                      *********************************************************

                      I have since been to Carluccio's a few times. To give it another chance! And the food was still of not very good quality. I do recommend the cakes and pastries though. I have been to Carluccio's for coffee a few times and their cakes are delicious every time. My personal favourite is a lemon tart topped with meringue and raspberries. The tarts are slightly larger than the small ones you get in supermarkets. But so much better! They cost approximately £4.

                      The menu has a wide range of food, including a breakfast menu which ranges from pannetone (£1.45) to scrambled eggs with grilled pancetta, sautéed mushrooms, tomato and toasted bread. Coffee or tea and a fruit juice. (£8.95)

                      Their main food menu includes soup, antipasti and salads to start, as well as the usual olives and bread. There are pasta dishes, meat and fish dishes, grilled sandwiches and side dishes. This menu hasn't really changed since I visited the Chiswick Carluccio's over 5 years ago. However, they do have a specials board which changes regularly.

                      I would definitely urge people to try Carluccio's, because if they get the same experience that I once had then it will definitely be worth it. However, I am going to stick to the coffee and cake that they do such a good job of.

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                        01.11.2009 23:36
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                        The only scrub in my life! Tis wonderful

                        This is the first Soap & Glory product I tried, after getting it free when you spent £12 on Soap & Glory at Boots. It currently costs £6.36 for 200ml on ww.boots.com. I have heard many good things about S&G so thought I would take the plunge and see what all the fuss is about! Needless to say, I was impressed!

                        *Packaging*

                        The Scrub of Your Life is in the familiar pink retro packaging that is immediately noticeable as being Soap & Glory. It is a fairly large flip top squeezy bottle. I like how it stands on the lid so that the contents are always ready to come out! This also means that you get most of the contents out without having to remember to turn it upside down as with other bottles. The bottle is quite flat which makes it easy to hold and squeeze whilst you're in the bath/shower and have wet hands.

                        The front of the packaging has a S&G logo, and the name in big writing, with 'SCRUB' being in large white writing to make it obvious what the product is. The bottles states that this is 'the ultimate super-smoothing body buffer' and that you'll know it's 'the one' because:

                        - Once rough elbows go suddenly silky
                        - Dry shins become suspiciously shimmery
                        - The bumps are gone from the backs of your arms
                        - You start to believe that scrub can conquer all.

                        The back of the packaging has the usage instructions, ingredients, and a best before date of 24 months (shown by the open pot symbol). I think this is a very good length of time for a product like this to be at its best for. I have seen similar products with a date of 12 months. There is also a warning - 'avoid scrubbing on irritated, abraded, or otherwise sensitised skin, and avoid getting scrub in your eyes. (If you accidently do, rinse immediately with clean water.)'

                        *Application*

                        The official instructions are:

                        'Wet down in the shower, turn off the water, squeeze out a handful of 'The Scrub of Your Life' and get a smooth on. Scrub and soap up until you're satisfied, then rinse thoroughly. (We'd suggest you follow all this with a Soap & Glory body moisturiser, but we're biased.)

                        Firstly, I was in the bath but this didn't affect using the product much, unless you have too much water in there and it washes it off! I don't think you need a handful of this scrub - I used about 3 pea sized amounts for each arm/leg and this was enough for me. Which means this bottle will last for ages! It is a pale white colour, and the particles are white. I loved the way it lathered up slightly, it felt really moisturising as well as exfoliating. The scrub particles weren't scratchy unless you press really hard to rub it in. When you rinse it off it doesn't leave any particles on your skin like some other scrubs do. And the smell is gorgeous! It is a strong, floral, girly smell - the signature scent of the retro Soap & Glory range. I love the way you can smell the scent for ages after, as if you had used a scented shower gel - but better!

                        *Summary*

                        I have bumps on the backs of my arms, and my arms definitely felt smoother after using this scrub. I am going to continue using it to see if the bumps disappear. But so far, I am believing that this Scrub really can conquer all!

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                          30.10.2009 23:59
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                          If you are after a range of bargain eyeshadows then Natural Collection is for you :)

                          Having had success with the Natural Collection Blusher, and finding I needed to buy a new eyeshadow, I decided to try the Natural Collection Duo Eyeshadow.

                          I only just noticed that the eyeshadow I had been using is Natural Collection! But they have changed the packaging. Previously, it was in a larger, flat container, and the lid flipped open. It also contained a small eyeshadow applicator.

                          There are currently 6 different duos available at Boots.

                          *Packaging*

                          The pot is the same as the Natural Collection Blusher pot. It is a white plastic pot, with a clear plastic screw top lid. It fits neatly in the palm of your hand (and I have quite small hands!). The only detailing on the packaging is the Natural Collection logo on the lid. I like how you can see the product through the lid. The only downfall with the packaging is that it feels quite cheap, and that it would smash to pieces if you dropped it onto a hard floor!

                          The label on the bottom of the pot states the name of the product 'Duo Eyeshadow', the colours of the eyeshadow 'starlight/midnight', and the weight '5g'. There is no ingredients list which I think should be included in case customers need to avoid a certain ingredient.

                          *Product*

                          I chose the colours 'starlight/midnight' as I like to go for the smoky-eyed look. The colours are a light grey, and a very dark grey. The eyeshadows are in two separate little tins, they aren't just next to each other like in other eyeshadow duos. The product is in powder form and is very fine and silky. It feels like very good quality eyeshadow. It is easy to apply; not too much comes off onto your finger or applicator brush. I tend to use a brush as I prefer it.

                          The eyeshadow gives good coverage and the colours are really good and flattering. The only problem is that it doesn't last very well. It lasts a good half a day if you don't touch your eyes though!

                          *Summary*

                          On www.boots.com this product currently costs £1.95, which is only 35p more than a solo eyeshadow! I think this is an extremely good price for the product. I have been using it for about 3 weeks now and it still looks like it's barely been touched.

                          My only problem is that I prefer the old packaging as I had to buy a applicator brush to use with the new packaging, and I have to find somewhere to put the brush and the screw top lid. With the old packaging it contained a brush and the lid flipped open making it easy to use.

                          However, I will still continue to buy this eyeshadow in it's new packaging as I think it is a great price for the quality of the product.

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                          22.10.2009 15:19
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                          A great twist on the classic

                          I am a big fan of Vaseline, and is the first thing I go to when I have dry lips. I didn't know about this version until I saw a review of it, so the next time I was in Boots I got it! It cost me £2.

                          *Packaging*

                          It is in the distinctive Vaseline tin, which is a rose coral type pink. I like the colour; it seems almost sweet and natural. It is a good size tin, not too small that you struggle to open it, but small enough that it fits in your handbag, or even your pocket if you're that desperate to carry it round with you! On the front of the tin it says that it is 'lip therapy with rose and almond oil', and also the name of the product - ROSY LIPS. The back of the tin shows the ingredients list, the weight of the tin (20g) and that it was made in Norway. On the side of the tin it states 'gently tints and cares for lips.'

                          Sometimes it is easier to open the tin than other times! It is easier if you have dry hands. Also, take care not to dent the tin, otherwise it can make it really hard to open!

                          *Product*

                          The vaseline is a darker version of the colour on the tin. It looks as if it would make your lips very pink but it doesn't. It just seems to bring out the natural colour of your lips which is nice. It looks like you're natually healthy!

                          I wouldn't say this product has a hugely strong smell. But it smells quite strong if you sniff it up close! It has a nice floral, sweet smell. If you keep smelling it (as I am doing!) it can get a bit overpowering. But most people won't be sniffing it all the time so it's ok.

                          The first few times you use it can be quite solid, but it seems to get softer with use. It also depends on the temperature around the tin. If you put it next to a radiator it would probably melt and make a mess! It is easy to either get a small amount of the product on your finger, or quite a lot, depending on the pressure you apply.

                          It feels very soothing when you apply it to your lips. I have found that sometimes it feels quite grainy, but that could actually just be my lips! The initial feeling of a product on your lips fades away, but your lips are left feeling soft for a good while after.

                          *Summary*

                          This is the latest addition to my handbags, I like applying it throughout the day and knowing my lips are being kept in good condition, and looking a nice natural pinky, slightly glossy colour too.

                          One thing I would say about this product is to make sure you don't get it on white clothes if you're out and about. I'm one of those people who wipe their hands on their jeans and when it came to washing them I found a pink smudge on them which I can only think came from this Vaseline. It came out in the wash, but just a warning!

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                            22.10.2009 12:32
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                            Well worth a try!

                            I love handwash as it's usually less drying than soap. Plus, it looks nicer by your sink and is less messy!

                            I saw this on offer in Tesco and the name 'Cashmere Moments' and the brand (Nivea) grabbed me so I bought it. I think I paid £1 for it at the time.

                            *Packaging*

                            It is in a white flat bottle that is curved, making it easier to hold. There is a slightly odd bit on top of the bottle, then the pump. I'm not quite sure why they couldn't have just done without the weird bit inbetween the bottle and the pump but I'm probably just being fussy!

                            On the front of the bottle is the Nivea logo which is quite large. It is obvious which brand this product is! Then 'Cashmere Moments' in quite large writing. Underneath that is a purple swirly type picture, with an orchid in it, but it's not obvious unless you look quite closely. It just looks like a swirl! The writing on the front of the bottle is 'Liquid Handwash With Cashmere Extract & Orchid Scent'. It also has this written in two other languages on the front of the bottle which I don't think I've seen before. Usually other languages are written on the back.

                            The back of the bottle has a lot of information on it. There is a description of the product, written in English and two other languages. 'Nivea Cashmere Moments liquid handwash with cashmere extract and a delicate orchid scent cleanses and cares for your hands and protects them from drying out. For noticeably soft and supple skin - everyday. Also available in a 500ml refill bag.'

                            There is also an ingredients list, weight, and a use by date of 12 months - shown by the open pot symbol.

                            *Product*

                            There is 250ml of this product. It comes out of the bottle easily and is a really nice consistency - silky and soft. It is white in colour and smells quite feminine. I can't honestly say if it smells much like an orchid, but it does smell good! It is quite a strong smell, that I think suits women more than men. It is quite floral and perfumed.

                            When washing your hands with it, it lathers up nicely and doesn't take ages to wash off like some handwashes. Straight after washing my hands with it, my hands felt nicely moisturised. However, a short while after using it my hands go quite dry and I have to use a moisturiser.

                            *Summary*

                            I love the way this handwash feels when using it, and I like the way your hands smell of it for a while afterwards. It is quite a feminine handwash, that looks nice on your bathroom shelf! My only problem with it is that my hands feel quite dry a while after using it, but this could just be my skin. A good handwash from Nivea!

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                              10.10.2009 00:18
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                              Brilliant product for the price

                              After moaning about my fat face to my Mum she suggested using blusher; something I don't ever use. Having read a review of this Natural Collection blusher, and finding myself in Boots tonight, I thought I would try it myself!

                              *Packaging*

                              The blusher comes in a small white tub that has a clear lid. The tub is just under 5cm which sounds quite wide but it really isn't! The only decoration the front of the tub has is 'Natural Collection' written along the lid, with white flower petals in the middle of the lid, around the writing. On the back of the tub is the name of the product 'Blushed Cheeks', a description of the product 'Long lasting colour for the cheeks. Fragrance-free', and the colour of the blusher. It doesn't show the ingredients, and having checked on www.boots.com, the ingredients aren't on the website either so this isn't very helpful if for some reason you need to check the ingredients. The actual blusher is sat in a metal tin that is sat in the white plastic tub. I did pick up one in the shop where the tin had come out of the tub so maybe the glue isn't very strong but I don't think this would affect the product - just don't tip it up without the lid on! The packaging overall feels quite cheap - like it might break easily, but I think it looks good. It suits the name of 'Natural Collection' because it looks quite plain and natural.

                              *Product*

                              The shade I chose was 'Peach Melba', and because I have dry skin I was worried that as it is a powder blusher that it might highlight the dry skin more. I needn't have worried because this product is really light and didn't make my dry skin worse. I used a brush to apply the powder, and found that it applied a really good amount of powder. Sometimes some powder products can be quite heavy, even though you thought you only applied a small amount. With this product you can apply more if you need to, rather than have to wipe it off! I also found the colour really natural, not like I was obviously wearing make-up.

                              *Summary*

                              This blusher was priced at £1.95 but I paid in points. I think that is a bargain price for a blusher, even if the packaging doesn't feel like the best quality!

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