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bondgirlk8

bondgirlk8
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Member since: 08.10.2008

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      02.11.2009 17:48
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      Oh, if only they made one for toes.

      Isn't nail varnish great! I love it! I love it so much I have an entire shelf in my house dedicated to a whole spectrum of them. Never does a day go by when I don't have varnish of some description on my toes, and rarely (although for the sake of the health of my nails, I do try to sometimes leave it of) is it off my finger nails.

      Don't get me wrong, I don't have those long scary nails or anything! No, my nails are nice and short (I wear contact lenses and play the guitar so they HAVE to be short), but I do like to keep them looking clean and smart. I can't bear a ragged nail, and don't even get me started on nails that are not all of identical length! Eurgh!

      My favourite choice is a classic French manicure on my hands, with a nice vivid colour on my toe nails. This colour changes several times a week in keeping with my mood, and my French manicure needs to be redone weekly in order to stay nice looking (chipped varnish - again YUK!). Obviously I use a lot of nail varnish remover!

      Now, I have to be honest with you. I've tried most of them, cheap, pricey, extortionate, and I have to say, there isn't (for me) that much difference. They all seem to work just fine for me. My usual brand is (no surprises!) Superdrug's own make.

      I do, however, find they all have one common problem. Transporting them is a bit of a pain. They are bulky, have the potential to leak and require you to also transport cotton wool balls which you will inevitably run out of and have to buy more. This frustrates me, as if there is ever a time I like to let my nail varnish run free, it would be on holiday. My applications to wear ratio is much increased when I am away from home. I clearly needed an alternative.

      Now, I've tried the ready-soaked pads before which come in a little tub of about 20 or so to very little success. I always felt they had a grim overly sweet smell and took a lot of vigorous rubbing to achieve removal of the majority of the paint. Anything with glitter is impossible, and it sticks stubbornly no matter how much you scrub. The remaining pads also dried out pretty quick, even though the tub was sealed. The result definitely did not justify a cost easily equivalent to a whole bottle of standard nail varnish remover.

      As a result, I can't say I held out a huge amount of hope for this product, but I was in one of my Superdrug trances and something about it just spoke to me. As usual, into the basket it goes.


      *********
      Packaging
      *********
      This product is packaged in a small white pot with a bright pink lid. It has a blue label with pink and white lettering for the name of the product and a brief description of what it does. "Pretty Quik. Manicure on the go. Instant nail polish remover." It also contains the instructions 'Simply dip and twist'. The label on the back of the pot lets me know what is inside, and also that I should take care to keep the product upright (this obviously can't happen in a suitcase, but I think it actually means whilst the lid is off to prevent spillages).

      It is a very appealing little pot which successfully attracted my attention and encouraged me to drop it in my basket and take it home. I had never heard of this brand or particular product before and it wasn't something I was especially looking for at the time of shopping, so really, it did its job very well.

      Whilst looking for an image to use for my dooyoo product suggestion, I came across a website which describes this product as follows:

      "This handy little screw-top jar contains a sponge impregnated with a conditioning, vitamin E polish remover. Simply dip your finger into the sponge, twist and polish is removed in seconds. No spills in your suitcase and handy for your desk drawer too."

      I include it here as it sums this product up very nicely and accurately.


      *****
      Price
      *****
      At the time of writing (27th October 2009), one jar of Pretty Quik instant nail polish remover will set you back £2.50. Quite a lot in comparison to what you would pay for a bottle of liquid nail varnish remover, but if it lives up to it's claims, then perhaps justifiably so. Given what I know about it, I think it is well worth it - particularly if you are going away, or as it says, for keeping in your drawer at work for any polish related incidents that need instant rectification.


      **********
      Application
      **********
      According to the pot, you 'Simply dip and twist'. Yeah right. Yes actually, yes. That is really all that is required. On opening the pot, you will discover a sponge inside which pretty much fills the entire pot. There is a cross cut into the top of this sponge. This is where you insert your finger. Yes I was sceptical as well but one quick twist and my finger emerges entirely devoid of nail varnish, and looking remarkably like it has been in some way conditioned as well. This is a nice varnish remover. I am very impressed. I fly through my removal process effortlessly and mere seconds later I'm ready to apply my new coat of paint.


      *********
      Sensations
      *********
      I had a really good sniff, right in the jar, just so I could tell you what it smells like. It smelt very nail-varnish-removery. I know, it surprised me too! It didn't really smell any harsher or sweeter or weirder in any way than regular nail varnish remover.

      Next is touch. Obviously, as I mentioned above, in order to remove the varnish the whole finger tip is inserted into the sponge-in-pot. This felt, again unsurprisingly, like a damp sponge. How much you like this will depend how fond you are of sponges I guess. I felt like my finger was enclosed in a magic cocoon, but that's just me.

      And the final sensation is wonder. Wonder that this little pot has removed my varnish so perfectly, without causing any irritation to my skin (I was just a little concerned at effectively submerging my skin in nail varnish remover) or any stinging to my slightly torn cuticles. Wonder also that my nails looked so nice. Conditioned by the remover, rather than dulled and destroyed as some products can leave them.

      ***************
      So does it work?
      ***************
      Yes, yes, yes! It really does. Super fast, super efficient and super effective. This pot will definitely be coming with me on my travels. I'm not sure how long it lasts for, as I have only used it so far on holiday (probably about 6 times) and at home when I've been in a lazy mood (perhaps another 6 or 7 times) and although the sponge is no longer sparkling white (emerald green and dark, dark red seem to have been my favoured colours of the last few months) it is showing no signs of becoming less effective. The sponge is still soaked in solution and the time taken for perfect removal has not yet begun to diminish. I'm sure it will, and when it does I'll be first in the queue for a replacement pot. However, much as I love it, I doubt I'll replace my standard bottle for the sake of everyday use - still have to watch the pennies now don't we. But for any kind of travel, or for lazy days I wouldn't be without this fabulous little product.

      So, you may be wondering why it didn't get that elusive fifth star. It's obvious isn't it? I can't get my toes in it! Well, I say "can't", but that isn't strictly true. Perhaps I should say "it is with great difficulty that I use it to remove the nail varnish from my toes". Oh yes, I tried....the night before my wedding. (We got married abroad, my toes were a bright coral colour, and I wanted to put a nice very light bride-friendly shimmering pink on them to match my hands.)

      Luckily, I am reasonably flexible, and I have a freakish ability to splay my toes apart really wide. A talent which greatly helped me achieve the mad aim of inserting one toe at a time to a small pot and then attempting to twist it around, all whilst keeping the pot upright to prevent tipping it and causing a nasty spillage. The pot felt at the same time frustratingly small (to insert toe into) and frustrating wide (to rotate pot around said toe, when there are lots of other toes either side preventing this). Anyway, it was an eventual success, but to be honest, if you are going to take nail varnish off your toes, the best plan is to use cotton wool and a traditional bottle of nail varnish remover.

      Thanks for reading.

      © BondgirlK8 October 2009

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      • More +
        02.11.2009 12:41
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        It may or may not burn. It's a gamble.

        As I have mentioned in other reviews since my return to dooyoo, I have just got married. This is important to this review as, although wonderful and very much worth it, weddings do tend to leave you a little bit skint. As a result, married life has kicked off with us watching every penny....even more than usual, which is saying something for someone as tight as me.

        So, last week as I am desperately trying to extract the final dregs from my bottle of eye make-up remover, I am forced to accept that the day has come where I will have to buy a replacement. Enthused with the recent success we have had with many brand-downshifts on the food shopping, I decide to try the new Superdrug own no-frills brand and see if it also applies to cosmetics. How bad can it be? It's probably made by the same people that make some other swanky brand and wrapped in a disguise anyway. I take confidence from the fact that there are two varieties, one of which is specifically made for sensitive skin. Oh, goodie, I am a contact lens wearer and anything to do with my eyes panics me. Also, my skin IS a little sensitive under and around the eyes (whose isn't?). Now, my skin isn't THAT sensitive, normal products generally do me just fine. However, seeing as I'm going for a low-price version (which of course means there could be all kinds of harsh scary stuff in there), I decide to take no chances and go for the sensitive version. (The other variety is Camomile which is designed to be suitable for all skin types).

        So, lets see if it's any good....

        *********
        Packaging
        *********
        The packaging of this product is very simple. It is a clear bottle which contains 150mls of the lotion. You can see the liquid inside which is handy as you always know how much you have left. It has a screw-top lid and a blue label which gives you the name of the product and a little bit of information on the back detailing the contents and instructions for using the product. It also states that it is suitable for vegans and vegetarians (yippee!) and that Superdrug are against testing on animals.

        *****
        Price
        *****
        Here's the real winner. This product costs £1. Yes, just £1. I have to say, this did worry me a little initially. You know when something is so low a price you begin to question the quality? Well, that's where I was. I justified it to myself by calmly explaining to the concerned side of me that this product is part of a whole new range and it must, surely, have been through a testing process. You only use a tiny bit, I tell myself. It's not like using really cheap cleanser that makes your skin oily, or flaky, or spotty, or all three simultaneously. Besides, it's Superdrug, you LOVE Superdrug! Well, you got me there, says the other half of me, I am indeed a Superdrug junkie. Alarm bells silenced, to the counter I march.

        **********
        Application
        **********
        The eye make-up remover is in the liquid format and so is extracted from the package by unscrewing the lid, placing a cotton wool ball or pad, or other shape of your choice, over the top and tipping the bottle a little until it dampens the cotton wool slightly. The cotton wool is then swiped across the (closed!!) eye. I like to also use a cotton bud directly after the swipe by running it along the eye-liner mark on the upper and particularly lower lids. I find this tends to help remove the more stubborn make-up from an area that is difficult to safely get into with cotton wool soaked in lotion.

        It is fast and simple to apply.

        *********
        Sensations
        *********
        The first sensation to mention is probably smell. I think it is genuinely scentless. It is meant to be fragrance-free, although this doesn't always mean that there will be no smell at all, there is usually something. Not this time. I could detect nothing, and all in all that is a good thing for me.

        Next comes texture. As mentioned above, this is a liquid eye make-up remover. It has the consistency of water, unlike the thicker gels or creams. The first thing that struck me was its lack of oiliness. I'm not fond of oily products, particularly if they are intended to go anywhere near my eyes. All too often eye make-up removers fall into the oily category. This one, thankfully is not one of them. It felt more like a toner than anything else. I like that.

        But...Yes, there is a massive big, ugly BUT! Just after application, a split-second before the smug feeling of getting a brilliant bargain kicked in, the skin under my eyes began to sting like mad. There was an awful burny feeling. I checked to make sure it was indeed a bottle of eye make-up remover and not nail polish remover, and yes, it was. The feeling was not unlike the one you would get should you place a cotton ball soaked in nail varnish remover on to the really thin sensitive bit of skin directly below your eye.

        I actually attempted to cool it and calm it down by applying cleanser to the area straight away to remove anything that might still be sitting on my skin, but I think it must have instantly absorbed and so could not be removed. It did pass fairly quickly, but it was such a shame. I didn't expect, even with the cheap price, to burn like that from a 'sensitive skin' product, regular sure, but not sensitive. As I mentioned above my skin is really not THAT sensitive...I was playing it safe! I dread to think what effect the regular version might have had!

        I have tried it again this time using hardly any of the product at all, and I have found that this doesn't tend to cause so much of a reaction, but then I had to face it. I had made a blooper. Nivea, I'm so sorry, take me back.

        ***************
        But does it work?
        ***************
        Much as it pains me to say it, I have to say that yes, it actually does work. I guess whatever harsh chemical they are using is in there for a reason.

        Before I go any further, let me point out that I really like eye make-up. It is the best of all the make-ups. On a given day my eyes will have at least three different shades of shadow, as well as eyeliner and mascara, along with a bit of added definition to my eyebrows. In addition, I favour waterproof mascara and waterproof eyeliner. I am obsessive about both these products - not only can I not leave the house without wearing them, I can't be IN the house without wearing them, even if I'm not going to see a soul all day. I'm also very unhappy with the concept of re-application, so tend to buy the industrial strength stuff. This is not easy to remove, so believe me when I say if it shifted mine, it will shift anything. I secretly wonder if, rather than a nice brand in disguise, it is actually paint stripper, or nail varnish remover in disguise.

        So, overall, I've given this product a three-star rating. I did consider giving it four (can I give it 3 and a half?), because it really did work incredibly well, and it is surprisingly cheap, even the burning wasn't SO bad and my skin did seem to toughen up to it. (To be completely honest with you I think I have adjusted it, I'm still using it and it no longer burns me. Should that worry me?) However, I felt I had to penalise it for being Sensitive yet still causing the burny feeling on my skin. Had this been the regular version for "normal" skin, I would have forgiven the burning a little on the basis that my skin is too sensitive for it and it would then have earned its fourth star (had there been no burn at all, of course it would have got a perfect 5).

        However, it DID work, and it probably will for you. I think it is a trial and error kind of product, you never know, it might not burn your skin. If you are brave enough to try and tough-skinned enough to take it, congratulations, you might just have your wonder product here. If you have ever had any cause to think you might not be made of leather though, it might be better not to take the risk.


        Thanks for reading

        © BondgirlK8 October 2009

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        • Lush Coalface / Skin Care / 58 Readings / 57 Ratings
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          20.10.2009 14:18
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          Charcoal may be less exotic than diamonds, but it's choice any day.

          It has been some time since I have reviewed anything from Lush and, following my birthday Lush extravaganza at the start of 2009 (see reviews 'I am H-A-P-P-Y; This little piggy went oooooooh; and Giving it lip), I have become quite the addict. I thought it was about time I got around to sharing some of my experiences of them with you. I'm kicking off with one of my favorite products from the whole Lush range; coalface soap.

          I made my first purchase of coalface soap during a particularly low lunchtime in June of this year. It was one of those awful days at work, the kind where you just feel miserable; like you are wading through mud. Try as you might, you get nowhere. I was also suffering from a bit of a body image low. Those of you that know me will know that I spend a huge proportion of my life dancing and am generally used to a lot of exercise. Well, I'd been kept away from it due to a variety of other commitments and was feeling all blobby and unfit and full of self-loathing. I needed a pick-up big time.

          I have the fortune/mis-fortune of working very close to a Lush store. This is something I have mixed feelings about. I LOVE it because I love their stuff and it's great to be able to pick things up as soon as I am running low. I also HATE it because it is an awfully expensive temptation that is just too easy.

          This particular day, however, it was just what I needed. Nothing can make you feel happier in your own skin than a nice bit of Lush pampering. I sleepwalked over there in my haze of sadness during my lunch break. I skipped out 15 minutes later (and £40 lighter) a changed person. Of my many purchases, coalface was one. My lifeless skin felt a bit neglected and was in serious need of some TLC.

          As I mentioned above, I have written several reviews of Lush products, and I have included in each review some information about the company, Lush. You will notice if you read more than one, the same information about Lush itself is provided. The actual review, however, is not the same and is specific to the product in question. The company information is included for those readers who choose to only read one of my Lush product reviews.


          WHAT IS IT?

          Coalface is a liquorish and charcoal cleansing bar designed for use on your face. (If you are wondering about the significance of the title of this review, diamonds and charcoal are made up of the same molecules. Charcoal is a girl's best friend didn't quite have the same ring.)

          It is a black (yes, really) soap of which the top sparkles (diamond-like!) with a black glittery substance whilst the remaining five sides are smooth and matt. The soap actually contains ground up charcoal (perhaps this is what causes the sparkle) which Lush claim is extremely good for the skin. Apparently this helps to soak up excess sebum from the skin's surface and exfoliates the skin.

          The bar also contains liquorish root which is mostly responsible for the soap's adorable scent. According to Lush this gives the soap a softening effect on the skin. Rosewood and Sandalwood essential oils are the other magic ingredients. These of course contribute to the scent, but also make the soap feel really smooth and nourishing on the skin and give it a really luxurious feel. Apparently they also have the ability to help skin cells regenerate and slow the appearance of wrinkles! It would not be possible for this soap to sound any more perfect if it tried.

          Lush are a cosmetics company which specialises in making 'fresh' and 'handmade' cosmetics. They are an environmental and ethically aware company, and promote these ideals through their products, packaging, and manufacturing processes. They use minimum packaging, source their ingredients ethically, use natural ingredients and essential oils, encourage recycling, are against animal testing, do not use animal fat in their products and every product they make is vegetarian (indeed many of their products are vegan including this beautiful soap)...the list of goodness goes on. They are indeed a 'good' company, and their prices reflect these ideals which, as we know, always cost more.

          In addition to being such a lovely company, their products are also rather lovely. The aroma of the shop is so strong that you can tell when one is near before you even catch sight of it. I often find myself in a Lush shop purely to enjoy the smells and a look at all the pretty slices of soap and solid bubble bath. Like many of the girlies out there, I'd shop in here for all my cosmetics if I could.


          PRICE

          This soap costs around £4.00 per 100 grams and the piece I purchased (which was around the size of what you would picture if you imagined a bar of soap!) cost just under £7.00. This is an absolute bargain (especially by Lush standards) and it lasts, and lasts and lasts!

          PACKAGING

          The Lush packaging is very simple. As mentioned above, the company intentionally use as little packaging as possible as it is party of their environmental ethic. Like many of the Lush products, this is a solid product and the packaging required is therefore minimal. My soap is wrapped simply in a sheet of paper. The piece I select is pre-wrapped and has a sticker sealing the paper which tells me the name of the product, the weight, the cost per gram and the total cost of my chosen block. It also very briefly describes the product and how it should be used.

          The soap itself is cut from a large 'wheel' of soap, and if you prefer you can have a piece cut to your specification of size, thus allowing you to control how much you want to spend (a large chunk of any of the soaps can work out to be pricey!!). Mine is shaped like a lovely wedge and once wrapped, looks a little like a chunk of cheese. The whole experience of selecting the soap followed by the cutting measuring and wrapping of the soap is not that different actually to buying cheese from a deli counter.

          SCENT

          As I mentioned above, the scent of the soap is mostly made up of the liquorish root with Rosewood and Sandalwood. It smells very 'clean'. The scent is in no way overpowering and is definitely one of the lighter scented products in the whole Lush range. Given that it is a facial product, this suits me just fine. I find strong scents quite off-putting if I am putting them on my face, and also find it can cause my skin to react or prevent the product from working so well.

          This smell is just perfect.

          USE

          The soap lathers up incredibly well and despite the darkness of the soap itself, it creates lots of soft white bubbles. It doesn't go soft or squashy or disintegrate (a problem I have found with some of the softer of the Lush soaps) but holds its shape very nicely. It also (again rather surprisingly) doesn't make a horrible mess of your sink and leaves very little scud in the soap dish.

          When applied, the soap feels soft and nourishing on your face and you can feel the little sparkles of charcoal giving your face a gentle yet thorough exfoliate. Washing with it is a pleasure.

          Wash it off and ta-da! Perfect skin! The effect is amazing. I look younger in one wash. My skin is bright. It looks happy and the feeling rubs off on me. Suddenly I am happy too. I feel my bad-body-blues slipping away. I barely need make-up with skin like this (except by beloved mascara and eyeliner of course, I can't EVER cope with them, no matter how good my skin looks!!!).

          Another lovely thing: This is a bar cleanser and so makes it ideal for traveling. My piece fits very well into one of the tins that Lush also sell (the massage bar one to be precise, although I guess when you buy the soap you could get them to cut it to whatever size and shape best suits your tin of choice). How lovely for keeping space and weight down in your luggage! A little tin is nothing compared to big bottles of cleanser and cotton wool or liquid face wash. Just when I thought it couldn't be more perfect! Its portability has meant that wherever I am it is always with me, and I haven't yet had a day without it.

          RESULTS

          It is no exaggeration to say that this product has entirely transformed my face. Gone is the dull complexion. Gone is the blotchiness that I am so often plagued with. Gone, even, are the fine lines that were beginning to creep in around my eyes and mouth. My skin looks brighter, clearer, shinier, and younger, and it feels softer, tighter, smoother and just plain nicer.

          This effect was noticeable the very first time I used the soap back in June, and oh my goodness does this soap last! I have used this soap every single day since I bought it (sometimes twice a day) and am still using that same bar today (Mid October). I can honestly say my skin has never looked better.

          So would I get it again? I already have! My next bar is on standby for when the final shards of my original bar eventually disintegrate; could be a few weeks yet though!


          Thanks for reading

          © BondgirlK8 - October 2009

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          • Tesco Diet Cola / Soft Drink / 62 Readings / 59 Ratings
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            13.10.2009 18:17
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            It's great, give it a try. Twice. Once to try, again to love :)

            You may have noticed I've not been around much this year. This has been due to several things; a demanding new job and (much more importantly) I've been busy transforming from Miss BondgirlK8 to Mrs BondgirlK8. Yay! This is important to this review as, although wonderful and very much worth it, weddings do tend to leave you a little bit skint. As a result, married life has kicked off with us watching every penny....even more than usual, which is saying something for someone as tight as me.

            So, we've been trying out the online shopping and the mysupermarket.co.uk method (note to self, must review that website one day) and it's amazing the amount we've saved by looking at the alternatives suggested and trying the brand-downshifts.

            Now, one of my sneaky little pleasures is Diet Coke, mmm I love the stuff, and a can of it really helps me through a tough afternoon at work. We buy the big multi-packs (when on offer of course) as it is much cheaper to do this and pack one up with my lunch, rather than buy individual tins during my lunch break. At the end of this weeks online shop, one of the suggested switches is to go for Tesco Diet Cola instead. In a brave moment of insanity I yell 'do it, do it, SWITCH' at poor MrBongirlK8. He looks at me like I have completely lost all grip of reality (he doesn't drink the stuff but he knows of my addiction and it's levels - I won't even drink Pepsi for goodness sake...well, again, unless they are on irresistible offer or there are no alternatives). 'are...are you sure?' he hesitantly asks. He must be wondering where the real me is. 'You know how you feel about Pepsi?'. For a moment doubt flickers into my head, then I surprise myself by saying 'yes, I know, DO IT!'

            So, let's see if it's any good....

            *********
            Packaging
            *********
            The packaging of this product is sneakily similar to that used by Diet Coke. The same silver tin with black and red writing is used, although the fonts, obviously, are not the same. Even the word 'Tesco' is written in lighter silver which is so similar to the main silver used that you have to really look to see it. It also features the top of a glass with ice filled with sloshing, fizzing, delicious looking cola. Mmmm, it makes my mouth watery.

            As is the way of Tesco, they are very upfront about the nutritional content of any of their products and so the front of the can also informs me that I will receive 4 calories in return for the consumption of this can, along with 0.5g of sugar for me to burn off at my leisure. Fat, saturates and salt, thankfully, only make a minor appearance in this show and only a trace of each can be found in each can. This is all nicely reassuring (I still can't believe the difference in calories between diet and regular fizzy drinks, it's insane!)

            The back of the can informs me that this product is not suitable for freezing...good to know, contains a section on allergy advice, a minor summary of what is in the tin (carbonated soft drink with no added sugar) and more comprehensive nutritional advice. It is definitely a much more information-heavy tin than those produced by the main players in the soft drinks markets, and no worse a product for it.

            The 12-pack itself is pretty much just shrink wrap type stuff. Good to see there isn't TOO much packaging, and what there is I can recycle. This is the same silver, with black and red writing, the same design and fonts as the can.

            *****
            Price
            *****
            Sooooo much cheaper than the 'real' stuff! We were buying 24 cans of Diet Coke and instead switched to two twelve packs of Tesco Diet Cola and in doing so knocked around £2.80 off our shopping bill.

            A pack of 12 cans as of today (13th October 2009) costs £2.31.

            Just so you know, should you prefer the bottle format (more economical, I know, but only if you drink it before it goes flat or else false economy, no?), a 2 litre bottle is 47p. This is great, especially when you compare it to the £1.56 you would pay in the same supermarket for my usual brand. Even the current offer of 2 for £2.50 doesn't come close.

            So, we've got a winner on price. But, as you well know, price isn't everything.

            *********
            Taste
            *********
            I'm not going to lie to you and tell you that this tastes just like Diet Coke. It doesn't. It's isn't one of those mad things that you swear is the same thing in a different outfit. It's not. It is its own unique little drink.

            BUT.....I like it. I like it a LOT!

            However, this may not have been my very first impression. The first can was not quite right. I popped it open, enjoying the fizzy little haze that escapes the can (stage two of the enjoyment, following stage one, removal of the frosty can from the fridge) and braced myself for a sip. I'm not sure what I was expecting. Perhaps Diet Coke? I don't know, anyway, it didn't taste the same, so it took this can for me to adjust. At some part way through this first can I decided the taste was more like a cola sweetie, such as cola flavoured millions, or the retro favourite the kola kube. This, actually, is just what it tastes like. Mmmm, yummy.

            By the time I'd made it to can number three, I was craving the stuff - yippee! I had successfully replaced one addiction with a, slightly more cost effective, alternative addiction.

            It is really very nice, but give it time. Give yourself a chance to appreciate its uniqueness and perhaps then you too will love it like I do.


            ******************
            Would I buy it again?
            ******************
            Of course! I like the taste, I'm inclined to say I love it even, and at a price like that who can refuse? I imagine I will be staying on this long after the short term needs for savings is gone.


            Thanks for reading

            © BondgirlK8 October 2009

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            • Twinings Peppermint Tea / Tea / 96 Readings / 94 Ratings
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              11.02.2009 22:32
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              Learnt my lesson? I doubt it.

              I've recently changed jobs and the supplies in the kitchen at my new office are far superior to anywhere I have worked before. Part of this is a stock of several boxes of every kind of Twinings Herbal Teas you can imagine. Now, my prior experience of herbal teas has, almost without exception, always been a let down. This has usually occurred due to seeing a tasty looking box of tea in a supermarket and deciding it looks tasty and healthy. It is the kind of product I WANT to like. Somehow it finds its way into my basket and I rush home full of excitement to try my new tea. I get home, boil the kettle, marvel at the wonderful smell, wait for the never-cooling-drink to reach a temperature which will not burn my mouth, take a sip, and YUCK! It tastes nothing like the nice taste that the smell had led me to believe I would experience. I end up grumpy that I have a gross drink and am a few quid lighter for the pleasure.

              Anyway, I've not had herbal tea for some time, and if you are anything like me you'll recognise the fact that the impact of drink memory somehow lessens over time. The clever marketing and pretty packaging wins and you completely forget that you don't like it and think, 'Oooh, herbal tea! Now doesn't that look nice?' You cave in and decide to try it. The yummy smell is just confirmation that you were right to give it another chance. Seeing as work was offering, I thought I'd give it that chance. After all, I hadn't tried Pure Peppermint before. It sounded like the very thing I needed, and if by some awful chance I didn't like it, at least I wouldn't be out of pocket and stuck with a box of tea bags that I didn't really like but felt forced to drink anyway.

              I went for it. I tried the mint.


              WHAT IS IT?

              Twinings are somewhat the experts when it comes to tea; they've been making it since forever, well for 303 years anyway. Thomas Twinning started selling tea, an exotic new drink, on the Strand in London and his pledge to create exceptional teas for everyone has remained at the heart of the business ever since.

              Today, Twinings have a vast range of teas as well as lines in coffee, hot chocolate and iced teas. Part of their tea collection is their herbal range, 'Infusions'. This in itself is massive containing every kind of herbal tea you could possibly dream of, and they are even categorised into sub-categories to help you match your tea to your mood.

              Pure Peppermint is part of the Revive and Revitalise sub-range which contain teas designed to give you a natural lift. All ingredients in this range are natural, so you know that you aren't putting anything grim into your body. This is reassuring. Poor Peppermint, oops, I mean Pure Peppermint is described by Twinings as "A refreshing infusion with a clean taste. The cool aroma of mint is not only refreshing, but fresh peppermint leaves have traditionally been used to sooth the stomach and to aid digestion. It's naturally caffeine free and has no added sugar. You can drink it at any time of the day but its digestive qualities mean that many people choose it as an after dinner alternative to coffee." Sounds brilliant, doesn't it?!


              PRICE

              As of today (11th February 2009) a box of 20 would set you back 92p (were you to shop online at Sainsbury's). Now compared to regular tea this is quite pricey at a whole 4.6p per tea bag, but for a speciality type tea, it's not so bad. It is also decent value if you like it. If, however, you're not so keen and will never make it after the initial try it will be 92p per drink. Put like that, it's quite dear. As mine was free, I can't grumble.

              PACKAGING

              This is where they suck you in. The whole Twinings range of teas are supplied in pretty boxes which are an appropriate colour for the flavour, mint is therefore green, and show illustrations of the particular fruit, herb or plant that it is made from, in this case mint leaves feature on the box. The packaging stands out on the shelf (or in this particular case the kitchen!!) and makes you want to try it. It somehow manages to convince me that I am one of those people who drink herbal tea - you know who you are, you are a special breed and I know in my heart I am not one of you. This box, however, somehow manages to convince me that I am, or at least that I want to be.

              Inside the box is another packaging delight, there are little rows of pretty little sachets of tea, all individually wrapped up and safe from harm. The actual bag itself is the kind that is on a string for ease of brewing in and removal from a mug, this is always a good thing in a tea bag as it does make it feel a little bit decadent. On the other hand, we could make do without the card and the string and save the environment a little bit really now couldn't we. We could also do without the individual sachet it is provided in. Alas, though, this is too pretty to be taken away. It features the same lovely colours, pictures and happy hippy health mind-control powers of the box. If I wasn't convinced before that I love herbal tea, I am now.



              SCENT

              In order to deal with the sensation of smell accurately, I am forced to break this into two areas: the smell in the bag and the smell as it 'infused'.

              As I opened the box, my nostrils were filled with the wonderful aroma of peppermint. It was refreshing, uplifting and very, very minty! It smelt delicious. I couldn't wait for the kettle to boil so that I could try it. I opened the packet and carefully removed the tea bag. As the bag was removed, the smell grew into something even more wonderful. My mouth was watering with anticipation.

              I hung the teabag in my mug taking care to drape the little string on the outside of the mug. The kettle finally boiled and I poured the hot water over the bag and prepared to give it the two or three minutes required for the tea to brew properly. As the water splashed on to the bag, a new scent was released and it smelt.........grim! There was still, a very slight undertone of mint to the smell, but the overall aroma was one of bad herbal tea gone very wrong. My heart sank. Was this particular herbal tea about to turn out to be yet another disappointment?

              It is the nice smell of the bag that offends me the most. How dare it pretend it is going to taste so yummy? The release of scent two confirmed that, once again, scent one was a rotten lie.


              TASTE

              Peppermint tea tastes, to be honest, gross. It's like a cup of garden goo and really not that pleasant; such a let down after such a promising delightful-smelling bag. What's more, I'm convinced it didn't taste of mint. To me this drink tasted, well, kind of like soil. But then, there was a surprise; there is an after-taste. This after taste is actually quite nice. It is quite fresh and (obviously, you would think) minty. It also made my teeth feel nice, kind of as if I had just cleaned them.

              Sadly though, despite the fact it was freezing in my office to the extent that I may have drank old cabbage water in order to try to raise my core temperature, I just couldn't drink the whole mug. Even the fairly OK tasting after taste was not enough to entice me to drink the rest of my mug.

              Later that evening I swear I could still taste it a little bit. I don't know how as the taste wasn't in the slightest overpowering, I imagine it was just psychological. It was mainly the soil 'instant' taste rather than the minty-ish aftertaste that seemed to stick with me. I'm guessing the fact that my brain did this means it really wasn't keen on it and was trying to tell me not to forget and repeat the error.

              I have, as a result given it two stars. One is because I have to - as a 'no-star' rating is not possible. The second star is because a single star rating has to be reserved for the truly awful things in life, like cancer, torture or Sandy Toksvig. The tea, grim though it is, ranks well above such horrors and is therefore deserving of more than one star. It earned this status mainly for having a nice smell and for being a healthy hot drink.

              Sadly my opinion that herbal teas smell divine but then let you down on taste has not been revised as a result of trying this tea. This view has only been reinforced.


              Thanks for reading

              © BondgirlK8 - February 2009

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                02.02.2009 20:30
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                A lovely festive lip-balm that will do wonders for your lips

                It was my birthday a few weeks ago, and my lovely fiancé surprised me with a collection of wonderful Lush products. I really love Lush but, though I often go in for a smell and a dream, I can rarely afford the high prices. Having already reviewed the Fair Trade Foot Lotion and The Happy Pill, I am now reviewing a lip balm called 'Let Them Eat Cake' which I believe is a Christmas-season-only product.

                Like most people at this time of year, I suffer with cracked and chapped lips. To be honest, I am afflicted most of the year if I do not coat my lips in some kind of lip balm or another. In addition, I just love lip balm and don't think it is possible to have too many of them.

                I'm working my way through my birthday delights and have included in each review some information about the company, Lush. You will notice if you read more than one, the same information is provided. The actual review, however, is not the same and is specific to the product in question. The company information is included for those readers who choose to only read one of my Lush product reviews.


                WHAT IS IT?

                Let Them Eat Cake is a tin of lip-balm intended to smell of Christmas cake. It is a tin of solid product that melts to the touch, which is designed to be smeared on to your lips using your finger. The lip balm then coats your lips protecting them from the elements, soothing dry or cracked lips and giving your lips a lovely shiny, glossy and plumped up look.

                Lush are a cosmetics company which specialises in making 'fresh' and 'handmade' cosmetics. They are an environmental and ethically aware company, and promote these ideals through their products, packaging, and manufacturing processes. They use minimum packaging, source their ingredients ethically, use natural ingredients and essential oils, encourage recycling, are against animal testing, do not use animal fat in their products (indeed many of their products, including this lip balm, are vegan. ALL their products are vegetarian.)...the list of goodness goes on. They are indeed a 'good' company, and their prices reflect these ideals which, as we know, always cost more.

                In addition to being such a lovely company, their products are also rather lovely. The aroma of the shop is so strong that you can tell when one is near before you even catch sight of it. As I mentioned above I often find myself in a Lush shop purely to enjoy the smells and a look at all the pretty slices of soap and solid bubble bath. Like many of the girlies out there, I'd shop in here for all my cosmetics if I could.


                PRICE

                I don't know how expensive this product is, given that I received it as a present. I don't wish to know for that exact same reason so I'm not going to look it up so I can tell you. It will be on the Lush website (www.lush.co.uk) if you care to find out. I DO know that it is a Lush product, and so the answer is basically going to be "not cheap". I will say that it DOES work; I carry it everywhere and just can't stop using it, so it probably justifies the cost.


                PACKAGING

                The Lush packaging is very simple. As mentioned above, the company intentionally use as little packaging as possible as it is part of their environmental ethic.

                Lush Let Them Eat Cake Lip Balm is supplied in a simple round silver tin which contains 10g of lip balm. It There is a maroon-ish colour sticker on the top which features the Lush logo and white writing showing the name of the product and what it is. There is another sticker on the bottom of the tin detailing the ingredients and informing me that I should use it all up by 01/02/10. As Lush make 'fresh' cosmetics, it is reassuring to me to see from the date that this actually is the case. I don't think I have ever finished a lip balm in my life (presuming we can discount the strawberry flavoured Chapsticks which I had a brief stage during childhood of physically eating) and the 10g sized tin is more than adequate. Given the amount that I appear to be using this one though, there is a chance I'll just about finish the tin before the expiry date is reached.

                It is nice packaging which appeals mostly due to its simple nature and its homemade appearance - it does look like it has been brewed up and put into a random tin that happened to be knocking around at the time and a sticker plopped on so that it can be told apart from the other concoctions.


                SCENT

                Wow-wee, this is STRONG! So strong in fact that the first day I had it, I shoved it in my bag to take to work. By the time I got to work (my door to door commute is only 25mins long) my entire bag smelt like cake. I actually think my office does too now - I really hope my colleagues don't mind the smell.

                It does smell like Christmas cake, the main flavours being fruit (current, sultana, raisin, orange and lemon), sherry and vanilla. It is incredibly sweet. Sweeter than if you actually inserted your nose into a real slice of Christmas cake and had a good old snort. Truth be told, it is perhaps just a little TOO sweet. The odd thing is, it smells nice if you smell the actual balm. BUT the strange lingering smell that has penetrated the very fabric of every bag I own isn't really a cake smell; just a sickly-sweet smell. Now, I don't really mind that all that much - I'm not fond of sweet tastes, but I'm OK with sweet smells (better now I know what it is), but it could be way too much for some of you. Thankfully (for me anyway) it doesn't have a taste to match.


                TEXTURE AND APPLICATION

                When you first try to apply the lip balm, the balm itself seems quite hard and not all that much is picked up on your finger. This means you may need to rub it over more than once to get complete coverage of your lips. After you have used the product for a day or two though, it seems much softer; you are fine once you have broken through the outer skin.

                I find the consistency of the balm to be just soft enough. Any harder and you need repeated applications, and any softer and you would end up over-coating. It feels soft and soothing as it is applied and it makes my lips feel cared for as it is rubbed in. It is absorbed well into the lips, and a little goes a very long way. It remains on my lips well and I can definitely feel that there is a barrier there between my lips and all the things in this world that damage them. The lip balm even survives though a drink or a meal without leaving excessive residue on the glass (there is, of course, a bit of this) or vanishing from your lips. I do tend to apply it quite regularly - perhaps every hour or so - but that is generally because it is on my desk in front of me at work all day and I just like it. I apply much less in the evenings or at the weekends.

                As I mentioned above, there is thankfully no taste. I'm not too struck on lip balms that taste nice, the main problem with these being that I just lick it off as soon as I've put it on (I no longer feel the need to actually eat it though). The other problem, which would have been more relevant to this product, had it actually had a taste, is that I don't like the taste of Christmas cake. To be honest though, the smell is so strong (and most of what we taste is actually smell) that it took me a while to come to the conclusion that there is no taste. I was very unsure for a while, and was half convinced it did have a taste. I didn't think it tasted of Christmas cake - I knew this as I didn't dislike my imagined taste - I did think though it perhaps tasted sweet. Vanilla maybe?

                IMMEDIATE RESULTS

                From the first day I used this lip balm, my lips felt nice. They felt soft, and smooth and generally cared for. I knew they were thanking me. I went on to use it like an addict.


                LONGER TERM EFFECTS

                I've been using this lip balm for a few weeks now and it's still the one I carry around with me daily, despite the smelly bag side effect. My lips are feeling very nice and have neither cracked, nor gone dry in the three weeks since I started using it. That's quite amazing in January really.

                I will definitely keep using this lip balm and will check out the rest of the selection that Lush offer. I will more than likely use others from the range, though my next one may not perhaps be quite so sweet.


                Thanks for reading

                © BondgirlK8 - January 2009

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                  29.01.2009 22:29
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                  How much do you REALLY want to be rich?

                  I'm not driven my money. I am not a materialistic person and I have no urge to surround myself with possessions. I do, however, value time. I value time so highly that I happily turn down better paid jobs that would affect the amount of time I have available.

                  I know in my heart that, by not having to spend so many hours working, having money does buy you time. I also know I have bills to pay to stay alive. I would love to be able to invest more (both in terms of time and money) in performing arts training but can afford neither the money nor the time. So, like most people, I am forced to admit to myself that, at least to some extent, I must be driven by money.

                  I secretly have a dream of building a little evil empire and freeing myself permanently from financial burdens and the need to work for a living; freeing my time allowing me to work for love (performing arts and writing) rather than for money (office job). In my opinion, deep down, most of us secretly want this, even if it only ever manifests itself in terms of dreaming about winning the lottery.

                  I first became aware of the book 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad' about five years ago and have wanted to read it ever since. This week, thanks to some birthday book tokens I still had knocking around, I finally did.


                  CONCEPT OF THE BOOK

                  Personal finance, money management and financial knowledge are boring, dry subjects that we never really get taught. We somehow are meant to 'just know'. And do we? NO!
                  We're rubbish, and almost of us are in debt (oh, mortgages count by the way). The aim of this book is to fill the gap and provide us with the education we never got. Arguably the most important/relevant education there is in terms of preparation for the real world.

                  It teaches us this in a simple way, following the lessons Kiyosaki learnt as a child and as he grew up. It is written in clear, straightforward language which is easy and enjoyable to read. (Yes, I really said that, it is an enjoyable read.) It is framed by the story of how Kiyosaki learnt what he knows, went on to make his own fortune and developed teaching methods to pass the wisdom on to others.

                  The 'Rich Dad' and 'Poor Dad' of the title refer to two men who were influential in Kiyosaki's life as he grew up.

                  'Poor Dad' is Kiyosaki's real father, a highly educated man who encouraged his son to 'go to school, work hard and get good grades so you can become a well paid employee of a secure organisation'. He's not really "poor", but is unlikely to ever be "rich".

                  'Rich Dad' is Kiyosaki's best friend's father, a school drop out at the age of 13 with no qualifications to his name. He advocated a different kind of learning and his advice was to OWN the corporation, not work for it. Rich Dad went on to become one of the richest men in the State of Hawaii.


                  ABOUT THE AUTHOR

                  Summarised from the information in the book:

                  Robert Kiyosaki was born and raised in Hawaii. After high school, he was educated in New York before joining the U.S. Marine Corps and going to Vietnam as an officer and helicopter gunship pilot.

                  In 1977 he founded a company which brought the first nylon and Velcro wallets to the market, which grew into a multi-million dollar worldwide product.

                  In 1985 he co-founded an international education company that operated in seven countries, teaching business and investing to thousands of graduates.

                  He retired at the age of 47.

                  His business is real estate and developing small cap companies, but his passion is teaching (he will explain to you the difference between your business and your career if you read the book). He teaches classes ranging from investing for high returns and low risk; to teaching your children to be rich; to starting companies and selling them. However, he has one clear message: Awaken the Financial Genius that lies within you - it's waiting to come out.


                  WHO SHOULD READ THIS BOOK

                  I'm tempted to say 'everyone'. It contains valuable lessons that all of us can learn from and identify with, sadly perhaps even more so given the current economic climate. This book was written long before the 'credit crunch' but it condemns the levels of debt and warns against the dangers of the 'have it now, pay later' attitude of modern society, correctly predicting where it will land us. It is odd to read this just as the official announcements of recession are made.

                  Although many of the ideas will be too radical for some, the underlying message is clear, simple and thought provoking. It holds a mirror up to your life, perhaps helping you see a little clearer where you are headed and what you can do now to build for your future. Of course the problem is, once you look into that mirror, you can never un-look!

                  The book also demonstrates how simple it really is and that in truth, if we took the time to observe the way that markets work, we could all do it - educated or not. The question is...do you dare?


                  WHO SHOULD NOT READ THIS BOOK

                  Anyone who is looking for a 'get rich quick' style scam may well be disappointed. Not only will this book not help you do that it will, on the whole, advocate against it in favour of better developing your own financial knowledge and observational skills. As Kiyosaki mentions in the book, risk without knowledge is just gambling. He does NOT encourage this.

                  Anyone who expects all the hard work to be done for them: It is not a step-by-step guide to making your millions (e.g. first, buy this share, then invest £100 in that). If this is your criteria, you may have to pinpoint which element interests you and you would be better off seeking out an alternative book focused on that subject (the stock market, or property portfolio building for instance). That said, this book may still be useful in providing inspiration, identifying your area of interest and understanding what further reading will suit your own personal needs. The book strongly recommends building your own 'Financial IQ' and investing in your own financial education (not necessarily in the academic sense) and development.

                  Anyone who is panicking about the recession and needs some help budgeting, saving and cutting back. Other than the very obvious (keep your expenses down) this book will not help you. What it MAY do is help you understand how to use the climate to your advantage (i.e. the best time to buy is when the price is low) but this is probably far too long term for your needs. If this is you, you would be better off checking out a website such as www.moneysavingexpert.com for much more focused and specific advice.


                  RELUCTANT TO GIVE IT A TRY?

                  I can understand why reading such a book could be daunting, given the concepts it deals with are considered to be 'complex' and describes entrepreneurs, what they do and how they do it - people that we generally perceive to be highly intelligent. Written by most people, this WOULD be a daunting book that would go over the heads of the majority of people who tried to read it. This is not the case with this book, trust me, it isn't. Here's why:

                  You really don't need ANY financial background to be able to read this book.

                  Complex ideas are made incredibly simple, often using pictures and diagrams. (He teaches in the way Rich Dad taught him. Some of these lessons took place when he was as young as 9, hence it is delivered in a way even a child could grasp.)

                  There aren't really any numbers in this book, and you don't need a 'numbers brain' to read, understand and enjoy the book. Where numbers are used, the are round, simple, for illustrative purposes only, and primary school level (e.g. I bought a house from a bankruptcy office for $20,000 which I then sold immediately for $60,000 making $40,000 profit for a few hours work).

                  It is a good 'story' and can't fail to get you thinking. If provides a brilliant argument against many of the beliefs our society has regarding money, lifestyles and the education system. It challenges and debates making for an interesting read.

                  Though it is too late to help in the current situation, surely most of us would want to know what we can do to feel a bit more secure next time a recession comes around. If nothing else we learn that economic cycles repeat themselves and it will get better.


                  MY OPINION

                  I'll be honest, during the first couple of chapters my opinion kept shifting and it took a while for it to settle down and for me to decide I liked it. I was never going to not finish it; it was too engaging for that; I just couldn't decide if it was helpful or annoying.

                  Having now formed my opinion, I can definitely state that I liked it. I also hope to learn and perhaps implement where I can. I at least feel like I understand my situation better and can perhaps avoid some traps before I fall right into them.

                  There were, however, a few little things that bugged me early on. I have since, pretty much without exception, changed my mind. These were the could-have-been issues:

                  Eyes of a child?
                  ------------------
                  The book kicks off with 9 year old Kiyosaki asking his (real) dad how to get rich. He is told he needs to learn to make money, which Kiyosaki takes literally. His dad then suggests he ask Mike's Dad (Rich Dad), a man who on the surface does not appear to be 'rich' - he is not surrounded by the stereotypical trademarks such as Porsches and boats. From there on we are let into conversations between Kiyosaki, Mike and Rich Dad.

                  It is at this point I stopped believing it. The words may be simple but they did not sound to me like the kind of questions a 9 year old would realistically ask. I struggled a bit here as I felt I needed to believe in it in order to learn from it. I later realised that it isn't really meant to be realistic, it is just a framework to make it interesting and provide background. It isn't realistic because a) it is written by a grown-up for grown-ups; and b) it is put into short conversations to make it concise and simple to understand but is actually based on years of discussions, questions and learning-by-doing. When I realised this I made peace with it, could believe it again, and moved on.

                  Smug Dad?
                  --------------
                  Another side-effect of the format was that, again during the first few chapters, every now and again I would find myself thinking "Well, now that's a bit smug" or "yes, but some of us don't have those 'opportunities'". Only later did I get the 'you make your own opportunities' idea. I also stopped finding it smug when I realised the point wasn't 'Ooooooooh, check out me 'n' ma Dads' but more 'You CAN do it, it IS easy - look -see? - just think about it'. It is also designed to challenge the 'right opportunities' type theories and it does this very well.

                  Laboured?
                  ------------
                  A few points did seem a bit laboured and occasionally I found myself thinking 'if I read that same sentence one more time....' The point, however, is that the repetition is there for good reason. It is in part mantra, and in part to reinforce common errors. By hearing them over and over you both understand them and learn to recognise them. I think this means that when you hear them in real life the alarm bells (or opportunity bells in some cases) start ringing.

                  As I mentioned above, I did get past all of these issues and in the end found it both enjoyable and informative and I hope that I have learnt something.


                  So will I get rich??? No. I'm far too risk averse and don't have enough drive for money to educate myself to the right levels and in the ways required. However, I will question things more, I will plan better, and I will have the courage to go against age old beliefs if I believe it is the right thing to do. My eyes will stay open. I may not be 'rich' but will manage much better, recognise true assets and liabilities, make an informed decision (perhaps choosing to be rich isn't the right one for everyone) and hopefully avoid falling into too many of the traps of life too deeply.


                  CRITICISM

                  This book has received some criticism claiming that, inspirational though it may be, the book has no real substance or real ideas. Whilst I understand that criticism, I would also suggest that those critics need to consider what it is they are actually asking for and have a think about whether or not that could realistically be achieved in a book. Of course it can't. How can a book advise exactly where to put your money, what and when to buy or sell, or where to invest? Markets fluctuate at an incomprehensible speed and financial situations or climates along with them. No book showing the Road to Riches could churn out editions at the speed required to keep up. Individual perceptions of risk and personal circumstances also affect choices, meaning there can be no fail-safe guide through something which is so often based on 'feeling' which can only be developed through personal experience. No one can tell you what the gaps in the market are - if they knew them, they would exploit them, not publish them so that every reader might fill that gap.

                  There are some things you can't learn from a book, you can only learn by doing it and, to some degree, natural instinct - though I do think this can be developed or improved. What a book can do, however, is point you in the direction of the skills you need to learn and develop, inspire you, and teach you how to open your eyes. In my opinion, this book does all three.

                  I would suggest that those that claim 'no substance' are merely disappointed that there ARE no quick fix solutions (the book even points out that those that get 'quick fixes', such as lottery winners, fail to manage it and end up financially even worse than before they 'won'). They are disappointed that the message is independent life long learning and developing a deep understanding of what money is, how it works and its phenomenal power (both for you, or against you depending on how you deal with it).

                  This book is the first rung on your own personal ladder that only you can take alone. The critics don't want that; they want it on a plate. I guess that is why he is the rich one.


                  Thanks for reading

                  © BondgirlK8 - January 2009

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                    18.01.2009 19:05
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                    Forget your troubles c'mon get happy...

                    It was my birthday last week, and my lovely fiancé surprised me with a collection of wonderful Lush products. I really love Lush but, though I often go in for a smell and a dream, I can rarely afford the high prices. Having already reviewed the Fair Trade Foot Lotion, I am now reviewing The Happy Pill, my first Lush bath ballistic experience.

                    The Happy Pill was probably selected for me because, despite being a lovely person, I can be a right moody cow. The second half of 2008 was particularly fraught for me which of course meant my poor fiancé had the pleasure of a grumpy, tetchy, and often upset girlfriend repeatedly taking it out, unfairly, on him. Poor chap.

                    I'm working my way through my birthday delights and have included in each review some information about the company, Lush. You will notice if you read more than one, the same information about Lush itself is provided. The actual review, however, is not the same and is specific to the product in question. The company information is included for those readers who choose to only read one of my Lush product reviews.


                    WHAT IS IT?

                    The Lush Happy Pill is a large orange and yellow bath ballistic. A bath ballistic is a product that is designed to be dropped into a warm bath with which it will react by fizzing and dissolving. As it dissolves, a whole host of lovely aromas is released as a result of the essential oils contained within. This scent fills your bathroom and will penetrate your mind producing a different result depending on the specific oils contained in that ballistic.

                    The Happy Pill, as you might expect, is designed to make you happy. It contains grapefruit, mandarin and lemon fragrances which uplift your mind and help your troubles melt away. It is quite large and heavy, and is round with a line scored through the middle, kind of like a giant Paracetamol. It is half orange and half yellow, and if you look closely there is very fine gold glitter all the way through it. Well, that just made it for me!

                    Lush are a cosmetics company which specialises in making 'fresh' and 'handmade' cosmetics. They are an environmental and ethically aware company, and promote these ideals through their products, packaging, and manufacturing processes. They use minimum packaging, source their ingredients ethically, use natural ingredients and essential oils, encourage recycling, are against animal testing, do not use animal fat in their products (indeed many of their products are vegan)...the list of goodness goes on. They are indeed a 'good' company, and their prices reflect these ideals which, as we know, always cost more.

                    In addition to being such a lovely company, their products are also rather lovely. The aroma of the shop is so strong that you can tell when one is near before you even catch sight of it. As I mentioned above I often find myself in a Lush shop purely to enjoy the smells and a look at all the pretty slices of soap and solid bubble bath. Like many of the girlies out there, I'd shop in here for all my cosmetics if I could.


                    PRICE

                    I don't know how expensive this product is, given that I received it as a present. I don't wish to know for that exact same reason so I'm not going to look it up so I can tell you. It will be on the Lush website (www.lush.co.uk) if you care to find out.

                    Given that this is a Lush product, it is going to be fairly pricey. It is also designed as a single use product, so it means your bath is going to be quite expensive. But, it is a lovely decadent treat that, now and again, is worth paying for. I loved the experience, and as every bath can't be like that, it made it all the more special.


                    PACKAGING

                    The Lush packaging is very simple. As mentioned above, the company intentionally use as little packaging as possible as it is part of their environmental ethic. Like many of the Lush products, this is a solid product and the packaging required is therefore minimal. My bath ballistic is provided in a small recyclable paper bag which is sealed with a sticker informing me of what product is inside and directions for its use. The bag itself is yellow and features the Lush logo and a cute cartoon-style picture of smiling tree holding a package at a shop counter along with the phrase "Bring it back to Lush to have it filled with more lovely things. Recycle again." The bag itself is made from 100% recycled paper. This packaging definitely appeals to my inner hippy, and also does successfully encourage me to return to the shop and buy more stuff!


                    SCENT

                    I didn't use my bath ballistic right away, although I did break into the packaging to see what lay within. The scent hit me immediately. It was fruity, invigorating and soothing all at the same time. I then left the package in my bathroom for a week or so before I got around to making enough time for a decent soak in which to use it. The result was that for a whole week, my bathroom smelt amazing. It was lovely; my bathroom had that fabulous smell that you get when you walk into a lush shop.

                    When I actually used the product, the reaction with the water meant that it the scent was released and my bathroom exploded with the smell. It was wonderful. You could smell it from half-way down the stairs and the whole upstairs of my house smelt nice.

                    After use, this lingered the whole evening, thus providing yummy air freshener for our house as well as a lovely bath for me. Just to be clear, it wasn't overpowering or sneeze inducing or anything, it was just right, and was the kind of smell that you WANT to linger.


                    DROPPING THE BOMB

                    I filled my bath with the warm water, and then excitedly removed the Happy Pill from the paper bag. I'd dragged in Mr Bondgirlk8 so that we could both 'oooh' and 'ahhh' at the fizzy water, and you could feel the anticipation in the room. I dropped the bomb. Into the water it plopped and the fizzing began. To be honest it was a calm, gentle fizz - as opposed to the mad fizzing you might expect - and it took a long, long time to dissolve. A kind of, for want of a nicer word, scum seemed then to appear on the surface of the water around the pill. It was a combination of white, yellow and orange froth and was quite oily. It was, to be honest, a bit gross. The smell, however, was amazing.

                    The water at the tap end - where the bomb had decided it wanted to stay - then started to turn a brownish orangey colour. The 'scud' was still forming. It had been a good few minutes now. Mr Bondgirlk8 got bored and left me too it. The bath was really starting to look quite psychedelic by now. The water was becoming increasingly orange, with the white, yellow and orange oily swirling going on at the surface. The bomb was still quite big and it must by now be 5 minutes in.

                    I too got bored and got in, the fizz was still happening, but it wasn't extreme and I decided I'd be safe to get in...as long as I didn't sit on it. I took care not to do this.

                    After a further 5 minutes or so, all fizzing ceased as the final shard of bath ballistic dissolved. The scud also vanished and I was left sitting in bright orange water in a room that smelt, well, happy.

                    Now I'd stopped obsessing over the fizzing and the trippy water, I sank into my decadent bath to see what would happen next.


                    RESULTS

                    Given that this is called the Happy Pill, I'm pleased to report that this (either actually via the ingredients, or psychologically via the name) really did result in me experiencing A Calm Mind. I really did feel pretty happy. Even more remarkably, I stayed calm and in a good mood all evening. Mr Bondgirlk8 must be so relieved.

                    The water, as well as being orange, also felt incredibly soft. This had the double impact of feeling very nice, and for some reason stopping my skin from wrinkling up as quickly as it normally would. This meant I could stay in and enjoy the bath for longer. Given that the product can only be used for one single bath, the fact it allows it to be a longer one is a good bonus.

                    Both during the bath and for the entire rest of the evening my skin felt incredibly soft and silky. The lovely smell of the bath also lingered on my skin for a long time. To be honest, you can tell it is quite pricey from the effects it has. Inferior bath bombs tend only to fizz and there is little else to go with it.

                    Remarkably, despite the orangeness of the water, the bath was not in the slightest bit stained after I drained the water out. Not even a 'ring' at water level. There were no scud marks, and no debris to be removed from the bath after draining.

                    So would I get it again, you bet I would!



                    Thanks for reading

                    © BondgirlK8 - January 2009

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                      17.01.2009 18:02
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                      If it sorted my dancing feet, it can do anything!

                      It was my birthday last week, and my lovely fiancé surprised me with a collection of wonderful Lush products. I really love Lush but, though I often go in for a smell and a dream, I can rarely afford the high prices. One of the said presents was this tub of foot lotion.

                      My feet are not the nicest feet in the world. I try my best to take care of them, but then I subject them to somewhere in the region of 8 hours of dance a week (dancers have horrible feet) and then I take them out long distance running with me. This combination means my feet are always harder and mankier than ideally I would like. They are in semi-decent state at the moment given that they currently possess all ten toe-nails - an achievement that should not be underestimated - and I'm doing everything I can to keep them that way. I have a really good scrub that I use on them in the shower or bath that removes most of the funk, but I'm always on the look out for a nice cream to apply afterwards to finish them off nice.

                      Here's what I made of this one.


                      WHAT IS IT?

                      Lush Fair Trade Foot Lotion is designed to be rubbed into the feet to relieve aching feet and soften hard skin. It claims to keep your feet soft, supple and minty. Mmmm, yummy!

                      Lush are a cosmetics company which specialises in making 'fresh' and 'handmade' cosmetics. They are an environmental and ethically aware company, and promote these ideals through their products, packaging, and manufacturing processes. They use minimum packaging, source their ingredients ethically, use natural ingredients and essential oils, encourage recycling, are against animal testing, do not use animal fat in their products (indeed many of their products, including this foot lotion, are vegan)...the list of goodness goes on. They are indeed a 'good' company, and their prices reflect these ideals which, as we know, always cost more.

                      In addition to being such a lovely company, their products are also rather lovely. The aroma of the shop is so strong that you can tell when one is near before you even catch sight of it. As I mentioned above I often find myself in a Lush shop purely to enjoy the smells and a look at all the pretty slices of soap and solid bubble bath. Like many of the girlies out there, I'd shop in here for all my cosmetics if I could.


                      PRICE

                      I don't know how expensive this product is, given that I received it as a present. I don't wish to know for that exact same reason so I'm not going to look it up so I can tell you. It will be on the Lush website (www.lush.co.uk) if you care to find out. I DO know that it is a Lush product, and so the answer is basically going to be "not cheap". I will say that it DOES work, even on my grim hooves, so it probably justifies the cost.


                      PACKAGING

                      The Lush packaging is very simple. As mentioned above, the company intentionally use as little packaging as possible as it is part of their environmental ethic.

                      Lush Fair Trade Foot Lotion is supplied in a simple black tub which contains 225g of the lotion - it looks a little like a small tub of ice-cream. It has a black label which features the Lush logo and white writing showing the name of the product and what it is.

                      There is a green sticker with a drawing of a man's face telling me that this product was make by MACIEK81 on 17/12/2008 and that I should use it all up by 17/02/10. As Lush make 'fresh' cosmetics, it is reassuring to me to see from the date that this actually is the case.

                      There is also a white sticker with black writing and the recycle logo informing me that if I return 5 empty black pots back to Lush they will give me a fresh face mask for free. This is great as it encourages recycling (if you've read my reviews before you probably know by now this is something I feel strongly about) but is also clever of Lush as it encourages loyalty to the company, and means that people probably will buy more black pots. Whether or not they make it to five and actually return them is another thing. To be honest, I imagine a lot of people don't. It's like the loyalty stamps in coffee shops, which mostly work on the principle that you'll forget or lose your card before making it to the free one (how many half stamped cards for the same coffee house do YOU have?) - but not before buying a few more and collecting a few more stamps. Still, I like the recycling element to this one.

                      It is nice packaging which appeals mostly due to its simple nature and its homemade appearance - it does look like it has been brewed up and put into a random container that happened to be knocking around at the time.


                      SCENT

                      This foot lotion has a really refreshing scent, which is mostly mint. It also has a slightly chocolate-like undertone which I presume is caused by the cocoa butter. This makes it smell ever so slightly like an After Eight.

                      The minty smell is very nice and it smells like it will be a lovely fragrance to put on your feet. Of all the things that feet could smell of, mint is probably the best I can imagine. It works well in keeping feet nice and fragrant.


                      TEXTURE AND APPLICATION

                      The lotion feels incredibly smooth. It is incredibly gentle and feels kind of luxurious. It is a relatively thick lotion and is a lovely pink colour, which in my opinion, just adds to the appeal.

                      It feels soft and soothing as it is applied and it makes both your hands and feet feel adorable as it is rubbed in. This is coupled with the scent wafting up and into your brain which (at least for me) sends a wave of calm soaring through you to give you a lovely Zen feeling. It has a lovely cooling effect on your feet which makes them feel like they are being brought back to life.

                      It is absorbed very well into the skin, and a little seems to go quite a long way. I imagine my little pot will last longer than I would have expected. As my feet are so dry, and therefore drink in lotion like there is no tomorrow, this is even more impressive. If your feet are less in need of care than mine it will probably last you even longer.


                      IMMEDIATE RESULTS

                      In the instant I used this lotion, my feet felt different. They felt soft, and smooth and generally pretty lovely. I used the cream in the morning, and they felt nice all day. By that evening my feet still felt and looked as if the product had only just been applied.


                      LONGER TERM EFFECTS

                      I've been using this lotion for a few days now, and it's the weirdest thing...I have feeling in my feet! How novel! My sensation is usually seriously dulled by the fact I'm walking around on dead matter rather than actual living skin. My feet feel softer than they have in years and are really smooth to the touch. They look better, happier and healthier. I love it! My feet do too.

                      I will definitely keep using this lotion - looks like I'll make it to the free face mask after all!


                      Thanks for reading

                      © BondgirlK8 - January 2009

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                        12.01.2009 18:29
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                        Makes me feel better when nothing else can

                        Remember when you were little and you were feeling poorly, your Mum always knew what to give you to eat to make you feel better. My number one poorly food, without question, was Campbell's Mushroom Soup. Even now, a melancholic day, or a headache that will not budge will always have me reaching for a tin. I know, beyond all doubt that it will make me feel better. It always does.

                        It is important to recognise that I refer specifically to Campbell's, not just any mushroom soup. To my mind there is the world of difference. I am a lover of all things mushroom I can state with 100% certainty that of all the mushroom soups, Campbell's is the finest - by a long way. This is especially true when you are just not feeling quite like yourself.


                        PACKAGING

                        The iconic red and white tin, immortalised by Andy Warhol in the 1960's has been used by the Campbell's soup company since 1898 and is a familiar sight to most of us.

                        Campbell's tins are smaller than most tins of soup produced by rival brands, the reason for this being that Campbell's soup is condensed. Being a hater of over-packaging, this gets a big thumbs-up from me - the smaller tin not only means that less metal is used to produce it, it also means more can be transported at once, meaning less vehicles are used and ultimately less petrol. The can itself is also 100% recyclable - yippee!

                        Other than being instantly recognisable, and smaller, the tin itself is very appealing. The fact it hasn't changed much in such a long time, means that we all remember it and there is something comfortingly familiar in it. The bright colours make it stand out from the rest.

                        Another packaging delight is the fact that each tin carries a little recipe that you can use the soup as a base to make. These are usually very easy and cheap to make, use basic store-cupboard type ingredients, and sound tasty, warm and homely. Again, comfort food appeal. Today's tin recommends that I could use it to make Tuna Pasta Bake. It would take me 5 minutes to prepare, 20 minutes to cook and would serve 4 people. I own, in my cupboard, all the required ingredients with the exception of tuna. This is because I am vegetarian and if I were to make this I would replace this ingredient anyway. This could easily be done.


                        CONDENSED SOUP

                        Condensed soup is different to regular soup because it is a lot thicker, and will require water to be added to it at the heating stage. This also makes the product more versatile as it can be used in its condensed state as an excellent base for meals, such as the pasta bake described above.


                        PRICE

                        A tin of Campbell's Condensed Mushroom Soup costs (as per today: 12th January 2009) 53p. This is great value for what, in my opinion, is a delicious meal. It can be directly compared to a tin of Baxters or Heinz, both of which would set you back somewhere in the region of 80p and is, in my opinion, a nicer soup (for mushroom at least, I have my favourite brands for each of my flavours of choice).


                        PREPARATION

                        In order to make this soup, you will need a large saucepan and a tin opener, as a ring-pull is not attached to the top of the can.

                        The can of soup is opened and the contents placed into a pan. The soup will be extremely thick and 'gloopy' due to its condensed nature and will likely plop into your pan in one piece accompanied by a really satisfying sound.

                        You will then need to fill the empty can with water and add this also to the pan, which will then be placed on the hob on a low heat.

                        I like to use a small whisk at this point to gently stir the soup and the water together as it heats to help it better combine. The soup is gradually warmed, on a very low heat, until it is almost, but not quite, at boiling point. It should never be allowed to actually boil, but getting it close will leave you with lovely hot warming soup made to perfection.

                        The soup can be heated using a microwave instead, though I very much doubt the results would be as good. I have never tried and so cannot say for certain, but I wouldn't like to forgo my whisking, and the temperature and boiling point are not as easy to control. Hence, I would recommend this product be made in a pan on the hob. It may take slightly longer and result in a pan to wash, but it will, I promise, be very much worth it.

                        To make it into the ulitmate meal, cut some thick white (preferably homemade, or otherwise fresh) bread to accompany your meal. If you like to spice it up a little, I can highly recommend black pepper or paprika or both!


                        TASTE

                        I mentioned previously that I love mushrooms, and no other make of mushroom soup comes close to this one, I shall try to explain why:

                        - It tastes very 'mushroomy'. Now, that might sound a little silly, but it tastes like mushroom should taste. It is not trying to hard. It has not added to much onion, or garlic, or stock or herbage of some sort. It is what it is, and it is what it is meant to be. I like that.

                        - The 'bits' in it are really good. The 'bits' are not tiny strands or flecks of mushroom or that awful grim rehydrated type stuff. They are proper chucks of mushroom, cubes of mushroom that if you so wish (as sometimes I do) you can chew. And what do they taste of? You got it, mushroom! Again, a rare novelty in a mushroom soup.

                        - It is really, really creamy. It is thick, tasty and creamy. There is no way you could describe it as watery or lacking in flavour. I am a black pepper addict, and cover every item of food I eat in the stuff an obscene extent. However, with this soup, I don't want to put much in. Just one twist or two of the mill is all I need. The simple-ness of the flavour is one of the reasons I think it works so well as 'poorly tea'.


                        Overall, I love this soup so much and there is nothing like it to pick me up when I am down. I recommend it to any fan of mushrooms, and any lover of soup. I know you'll love it.


                        Thanks for reading

                        © Bondgirlk8 - January 2009

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                        • Travelodge Wembley / Hotel National / 46 Readings / 40 Ratings
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                          12.01.2009 17:24
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                          Fine for a short break...if you don't mind being out of town

                          This is a review specifically of my experience of the Travelodge Wembley where I lived (yes, actually lived) for a while back in 2006. Given that for a couple of months I called it home, I may have been slightly harsher in my rating than if I'd been here for a weekend break - the purpose for which it is actually intended.

                          This is a very long review (you notice more when you are there so long) and I've bunged a load of background in as to how the situation of effective homelessness came about. If this doesn't interest you, I recommend you skip to the main review points. I've tried to give it sensible headings to make it easier for you to find the bits relevant to you.

                          -----------------------------------
                          How I came to live in a hotel
                          -----------------------------------

                          In 2006, I sold my flat in Nottingham and headed with Mr Bondgirlk8 for the bright city-lights of London where we bought a little house together. I couldn't be bothered with all that chain malarkey - I had already started a job down here, so the sooner I sold the flat the better I would be able to cope financially. This meant B&B living during the week and heading back to the flat and the man at the weekends. It was very, very expensive and I learnt to hate Sunday afternoons.

                          After a few weeks, I managed to secure a vacation let in student halls of residence where I spent most of the summer. This was much more cost effective and even meant I had use of kitchen facilities. I strongly recommend anyone who needs cheap accommodation during summer months check out student halls. Well worth it.

                          I couldn't rent somewhere, despite trying, due to cost and timing issues. I had a buyer on my flat and was waiting (for what felt like forever) for the sale to go through. We also had our offer accepted on a house down here, but it was unknown as to when we'd actually get it. Finding a rented place that would allow less than 6 month commitment was impossible - not for lower rates than halls or B&B at any rate.

                          At the end of the summer, Mr Bondgirlk8 (who'd been working at a summer school over his break to try earn enough to help us stay afloat another day) joined me in London to start his new job. The sale of flat had just gone through, so the mortgage payments would finally end, but the double living costs of the past 3 months had already crippled us and the halls let was also running out. Our purchase still showed no sign of completion. We were, in literal terms, homeless.

                          We needed somewhere else. It has to be cheap and provide a room big enough to store both of us and all our remaining worldly possessions (basically everything we could stuff into our Peugeot 206 - everything else was gone). The Travelodge in Wembley smiled at us - here was our new home.


                          ----------
                          Location
                          ----------

                          The Wembley Travelodge is located on London's North Circular. It is not a very desirable area. The hotel is joined on the road by a string of sofa shops, a few wholesale places and a collection of factories. This raises a few points:

                          1. Road Links: Obviously, location on such a big road means that if you are coming by car, you will easily be able to get to the hotel.

                          2. Traffic Noise: The downside of such a busy road is that there is no way to avoid the excessive noise that a large road like this can generate. Our room faced the road. It was thankfully fitted with very good double glazing and , to be fair, this did stop most of the noise. Unfortunately, we were there at the tail end of an unusually hot summer. This meant our room was unbearably hot and stifling, even with the little desk fan I'd bought to survive the Halls. We had to open the window, and of course, even the best double glazing is useless if the window is open. If you are not used to noise, it would drive you crazy. It's like camping on the motorway. We were there long enough to adjust, and it seemed so quiet when we finally moved into our new home.

                          3. Food Factory: Opposite the hotel, separated by the gulf of the huge road, was a massive food factory. I don't know who they were or what they made, but it reeked of grease. The level of greasiness depended on what product was being made that particular day. I imagine from the smell it made frozen potato products and the like. Hash browns was a particularly strong and regular odour. As with the noise, as soon as the window was open the stench would fill the room. I'm not even sure it didn't seep through the double glazing when the window was shut. As we stayed there quite a while, I swear that WE smelt like that. Our clothes did at least.

                          4. Immediate Surroundings: There really is nothing to do around this area. You would need to travel into London, or perhaps one of the nearby centres such as Harrow, or the newly re-vamped Shepherd's Bush, now home to giant shopping mall Westfield London which is easily reached from the Central Line - more details under transport links. In order to reach any of these places, you would have to make use of public transport or drive - nothing of interest lies within walking distance.

                          5. 'Wembley' Travelodge: To call the hotel 'Wembley' Travelodge is technically accurate but a little misleading in that were you to not know it might imply close proximity to the stadium and arena. It's actually 2 miles from the stadium, 2.5 from the arena and 3 from Wembley itself. If you are planning to stay here to co-ordinate with an event at the stadium/arena bear you will have to factor that in when deciding how you will get to and from your event. Also, the North Circular location means that it is probably not going to be a pleasant walk should you chose to go on foot.

                          6. Biker Café: Just down the road from the Travelodge is the Ace Café London which has a massive biker fan base. I was unaware of this, and the Travelodge website does not provide enlightenment on this. I have nothing against bikers - that is not my point. My point is that the hotel had been pretty much empty during our two month stay, but on the day we checked out there was some biker event on somewhere. There was a massive meet up or convention or something occurring at the biker café down the road and the Travelodge was suddenly full. There were bikers everywhere. I bring this to your attention because if your stay co-ordinates with such an event then you might find it hard getting booked in. You would be advised to check on the internet first. If you type 'Ace Café London Events' into Google you will find lots of information on this.


                          --------------------
                          Public Transport
                          --------------------

                          During our extended stay, we did not make use of the bus network at all, so I cannot comment on how well served the hotel is by bus. However, the huge jam that occurred around the rush 'hour' in the morning and evening did not inspire me. I'd rather walk than be stuck in any mode of transport in that.

                          We did, however, use the tube. The nearest tube stations to the hotel are Hanger Lane on the Central Line, and Park Royal on the Piccadilly Line. Both will take you into the centre of London in around 30 mins. The Central Line will also take you to Shephards Bush and the Westfield London shopping Centre in less than 10mins.

                          Both tube stations are located some way away from the hotel. The nearest, and the one most frequently used by us, is Hanger Lane which according to the website is located half a mile away from the hotel. To be honest it feels like more than that. Now, I'm a walker. I walk EVERYWHERE, so I like to think my judgement of distance is better than average (I'm not one of those who grumbles about walking for 10 minutes and thinks they've walked miles). I'd, honestly, guess that it is nearer a mile. Park Royal is a further 10 minutes walk away.

                          Unfortunately, the walk to the station is a walk actually around the North Circular. It is noisy, windy, uninspiring, grey and, frankly, not that pleasant. It is a head-down-and-go kind of a walk. Holding a conversation is near on impossible.

                          According to their website, there is a national rail station, Stonebridge Park, also allegedly half a mile from the Travelodge. I neither used nor knew about this at the time so can't really comment.


                          ----------------------------------
                          Car Parking and Road Links
                          ----------------------------------

                          There is a small car park situated at the Wembley Travelodge. There are enough spaces for 109 cars allocated on a first come first served basis. There is however a charge of £5 per car per day to use it. There are no alternative places to park up in the surrounding area. We could not afford this, living in a hotel not being the cheapest way to live your life. If you are visiting for a short weekend break, however, this fee does not seem quite so unreasonable. We were really naughty and hid our car on the road outside the house which one day we would own. We like to think that it was just a case of the car moving in first to make it nice for us getting there. My partner did move it around quite a bit, and sometimes we stashed it in the car park of the school he works at instead.

                          The North Circular is a major road and easily provides access by car to Central London, Wembley, the motorway and all surrounding areas. The road is extremely clogged in the mornings and after work, however. We didn't really drive anywhere, given that we'd hidden our car, so I can't comment anymore than the passing observation that it is busy at peak times.


                          ---------
                          Exterior
                          ---------

                          The hotel, as shown by the picture on the Travelodge website, is instantly recognisable as a Travelodge. It is exactly what you would expect and is built in the trademark colours of white and blue. It is set back a little from the road, contains a little entrance area with automatic doors, and the car-park is a barrier controlled area around the back of the hotel.


                          -------------------
                          Reception Area
                          -------------------

                          The sliding doors from the road lead you into the reception area, which is also instantly recognisable as being part of the Travelodge chain. The actual reception area is fairly small comprising of a desk and a few vending machines stocking everything from snacks and soft drinks through to alcohol, Nurofen, first aid kits and shower gel.

                          The ground floor is open plan, and if you follow the reception desk around it turns into the bar. It is the same unit, just that behind part of it is keys, telephone and booking paraphernalia etc. and behind the other part is pumps and optics. It is all very small and compact. The receptionist is probably the barman as well in quieter times. Likewise, the bar and restaurant are one and the same.


                          -----------------------
                          Bar and Restaurant
                          -----------------------

                          We generally couldn't afford to use this - again, we were living in a hotel and had to keep unnecessary cost down to an absolute minimum.

                          Very occasionally, when we had reason to celebrate or the depression was too great, we did get a drink from the bar. This could be either consumed in the bar itself or taken to your room. Prices were as you would expect for a hotel in Zone 3 of London. The drinks we had were nice and the service was good. The hotel was pretty quiet for most of our stay which perhaps helped.

                          Cooked breakfast is available from the restaurant for around £8. Alternatively a continental breakfast comprising of a coffee, small box of cereal and pastry of some description could be left outside your room for you at cost of around £5. For a short holiday, these prices are not unreasonable. Again, having been able to afford neither, I can't comment on the taste, quality or levels of service. I can only advice you that the option is there. Our solution was supermarket items we could store in our room without it going off, basically bread, jam and marmite.

                          A menu of lunch/dinner style meals is also available in the restaurant, which again, we didn't really have. One day, however, whilst feeling particualy damaged and sick of our diet of kettle cuisine (you know, pot-noodle, cup-a-soup, smash - anything you can cook with a kettle) we did attempt to get a little something hot from the restaurant. Main dishes were around £8 and out of our price range, but we had scrapped enough together to order a couple of side dishes to share between us: fries, garlic bread and onion rings - everything, I imagine, that the factory over the road makes. This set us back only a couple of quid and felt like real food, which in our deprived state, was like heaven. Our order of 'just sides' confused the waiter hugely. He did, however, successfully bring our order to the table and the service was quick and efficient. The food was probably just freezer food but it was very hot, very tasty and just what we needed.

                          The layout of the bar/café/dining area was a combination of standard dining chair and table combinations and of sofa and coffee table style combinations.

                          My biggest annoyance was the presence of televisions and their associated speakers scattered all around the area and never, ever turned off despite the minimum number of people actually in there. Had I been on a short stay, the televisions would have put me off going in there for a meal or a drink. I can't bear T.V. in restaurants. I can't bear T.V. accompanying a meal at home much less somewhere I am paying to sit. As this was the only place for us to go to escape the claustrophobia of the room, I could have really done without it.


                          ---------
                          Rooms
                          ---------

                          As with any Travelodge, the rooms are basic but comfortable. For a short stay in London, the rooms are very well designed, practical and feel fairly spacious. They feel less spacious when you are both permanently stuck in there, bouncing off the walls because you are too skint to go out, and surrounded by everything you own.

                          The room contains a very comfortable double bed, a clothing storage area which is a good size for two people on a weekend break. A dressing table area complete with mirror and hairdryer. There is a T.V and a radio alarm in the room as well as a kettle with enough supplies to each have a coffee and a tea. This was replenished regularly, although we had brought in our own too to make sure we have enough to keep us going.

                          The rooms feature an en-suite bathroom which contains a toilet, sink and shower. The shower cubicle is a very good size and the shower itself felt sufficiently powerful. There was adequate space in the bathroom to store your small bag of toiletries. As is the way with all Travelodges, you are not provided with any complementary toiletry items, with the exception of a bar of soap for the sink. This is no problem, however, as these are not expensive items, nor difficult to bring with you, and helps to keep the cost of the room relatively low.

                          The rooms, as mentioned above, are fitted with double glazed windows, and the sound proofing from the corridor is not as bad as I have experienced elsewhere in other hotels. Of course this could be just because I couldn't hear much over the traffic!

                          The room was exceptionally hot and difficult to cool down. Bring light nightwear if you plan to visit here in the summer!

                          The only facility I would have liked in the room that was not there would have been a small fridge. I would have this criteria even if only there for the weekend as I like to be able to chill my drinks. Of course, by actually living there the fridge would have been wonderful, if only to store milk for coffee or cereal.


                          --------------
                          Cleanliness
                          --------------

                          The room and the bathroom were immaculate when we 'moved in' and the level of cleanliness seemed pretty high - especially in comparison to the Comfort Inn in Harrow where we moved to for a bit (have to keep with the cheapest rates!) before moving back to the Wembley Travelodge. Perhaps I'll review that hotel one day too.

                          However, I did make an observation that can only be made if you stay somewhere for an excessive amount of time. The rooms are cleaned very well for you checking in, but are then given a less thorough clean during your stay (understandable, as most people are there for only a night or two so not much builds up and it makes sense to clean the rooms deeper when they are devoid of resident clutter). As they are given a bit of clean, this doesn't become evident until you've been there a while. It is the bathroom I noticed it in mostly and perhaps the need for a bit more of a dust in the actual room. However, I do appreciate we had WAY more stuff in our room than the average visitor and you did have to kind of pick your way through all our clutter.

                          They replace the towels in the bathroom if you leave them on the floor, but not if you hang them back up. Whenever we left them for replacement, they were always replaced with nice clean fresh towels.

                          I didn't notice a problem with the sheets either and I believe they were changed fairly regularly. I didn't set up an intricate testing to find out. The way I see it is that at home I wouldn't change my sheets every day but I would change them before they got dirty or smelly. This is therefore the standard I expect. Any more frequent, although nice, is bad for the environment and not really necessary. This standard was definitely achieved and I was satisfied with the service.


                          --------------
                          Re-Booking
                          ---------------

                          We basically booked into the Travelodge a week at a time, extending by a week every Friday whilst we waited for our house purchase to go through. This allowed us to keep an eye on the rates both here at alternative hotels in the West London area. This did confuse the staff slightly and the surprise that someone would actually want to stay for another whole week was not really concealed.

                          We did attempt to get discounts for long duration of stay, but were informed that Travelodge do not do this. We had trouble finding this kind of deal anywhere.


                          ------------------------
                          Online Booking Tip
                          ------------------------

                          If you are booking a trip with this, or any Travelodge, on line and want to make use of the very cheap rooms they have occasionally my big tip is to book each night separately. This is because the site looks for 'blocks' so it may prevent you getting the cheapest rates.

                          E.g. you want 2 nights, Friday and Saturday.

                          You search for £9 rooms for Friday and Saturday, it says none available, but we can do £19 per night - you book it, total cost £38

                          You search for just Friday, it says, yes got a room for £9. You search for Saturday, it says none available, can do £19 - book both separately, total cost £28. Bingo!


                          Thanks for reading

                          © Bondgirlk8 - December 2008

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                          • More +
                            05.01.2009 16:11
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                            Barry Mmmm Mmmm M!

                            I love mascara. I've been wearing it since all I can remember, and really would question my ability to survive without it: my eyes look all weird and wrong and I just don't feel like me. To put it into context, I am one of those people who not only cannot leave the house without wearing at least SOME make-up; I can't be IN the house make-up free either. I'd feel wrong, scruffy, clumsy, and like I'd not really woken up yet. My absolute world-would-implode-without level minimum is eye liner, lip balm (not gloss, just balm - I'm not obsessive about it) and, of course, mascara.

                            Barry M, as I have mentioned before, is a brand I really quite like. I have found their products to generally be of very good quality, do what they are meant to do, and are packaged up all pretty and nice. This mascara is no exception. Here's what makes it special.


                            PRICE

                            Barry M Extreme Black Waterproof Mascara retails at a very reasonable £5.95. I believe this is a fair amount for mascara, and in addition the results produced by this product make it very good value for money. I have been using this particular mascara for months now and have found that it also has the ability to last a lot longer than most. I will have to replace my mascara soon (it is showing no signs of running out yet, but I do worry about products going off and eye-hygiene. As a contact lens wearer this is very important to me) and I fully intend to buy this product again as the replacement.


                            PACKAGING

                            Barry M really know how to package something. I have said before that their whole counter attracts me like a magpie and this product is no exception.

                            The mascara comes in a bright, very slightly metallic pink tube as shown in the picture. It has a black box with the Barry M name logo written in white lettering, and the name of the product is written, also in white, on the pink section. It is a full size mascara and as well as a nice look and design, the product also has a nice feel and weight to it. It made me want to try it, and I'm really glad I did.


                            APPLICATION

                            Like most mascara, the twisting off of the lid reveals a wand with which the product is to be applied. The tube itself contains that the actual mascara and when the wand is lifted out it will be coated in the product.

                            To apply, this wand is brushed over the eyelashes. This coats the lashes with the mascara, and the lashes instantly look thicker, darker and longer.

                            I apply my mascara in the classic way, which can be described as thus: I hold the wand close to my unnecessarily widely open eye (to match my inexplicably gaping goldfish mouth) and then blink repeatedly in an exaggerated and slightly cartoon style. The blinking action will cause the lashes to pass over the wand, lightly coating them in mascara. I then lower the wand slightly and gently brush it over the lower lashes of the eye - I am from the school of thought that believes both top and bottom lashes should be allowed the glory of apparent thickness and length. I then repeat the process on my left eye. This is important because I always do things in the same order. Always. Bizarrely, mascara is the only product where right comes first. For everything else (contact lenses, eye liner, nail varnish, even shoes) I'm a left-then-right kind of girl.

                            Anyway, that is how I apply. It is very easy, and the design of this particular product allows me to do this quickly and effectively. The wand is a good length and shape, and its 'bristles' are fairly short and tightly packed. There isn't the curve to the applicator section which is found on many a mascara and, in my opinion, complicates matters. This wand is straight and perfectly designed for an application such as that described above.

                            Occasionally, a fat-handed moment or extreme blink situation will result in a smudge of mascara on my eyelid or cheek. I rectify this by ensuring I have cotton buds to hand which can be used to remove the blotch. Very minor licking of the cotton bud may be necessary depending on the heaviness of the smudge. This product is easily removed in this way and doesn't overly stick to the skin or smudge even more as can be the way with some lesser mascaras.


                            IMMEDIATE RESULTS

                            As soon as the wand makes contact with the lash the impact is noticeable. The lashes look thicker, darker and longer. In addition, the eye itself appears bigger and wider - in a wide awake way, not a stare. The product looks really even and does not result in the clumping of eyelashes as is so common a problem in mascara. It feels light and unnoticeable on my eyes. It is about as natural yet striking a look I have found with any mascara. It makes an impact, and I like the results very much.


                            LASTING EFFECT

                            I have a slight problem with my eyes: they run ALL the time. If I'm tired, they run; if it's cold, they run; if it's windy, they run; if I go into the warmth...are you getting the idea? This mascara is completely resistant to all such eye-dribblage. All day they dribble, all day it stays on. It's remarkable.

                            If I've had a day of only normal levels of emotion, then even after a whole day at work followed by sweating in dance classes and the tube, it remains on my eyes and continues to look good.

                            If, however, I've had a teary day where we've moved past basic dribbling and onto full blown wailing, then the cracks start to show. I don't think any mascara will ever be invented that can cope with an extreme Bondgirlk8 meltdown. I go from streaks, to panda, to no make-up left whatsoever. Still, it copes better than most and it does take me longer to cry it off completely.

                            Oddly, despite the fact I can cry it off it would appear than when it wants to it CAN be completely waterproof. It can, in fact, be too waterproof. Honestly, I cannot get it off. Eye make-up remover works to some extent, but it takes several balls of cotton wool and requires harder rubbing than I am quite sure is good for my eyes. Even when it looks like I've done it, next morning I still wake up with gothic under-eye smudges.

                            Overall though, I love this product and it is far and away one of the best mascaras I have tried. I definitely recommend it.


                            Thanks for reading

                            © BondgirlK8 - December 2008

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                              05.01.2009 10:33
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                              Look past the advert, you might be glad you did.

                              When I first started writing reviews and thinking about all the things I would like to write about, I'd imagine myself writing about music, theatre, film...things like that. I didn't expect to review Cillit Bang! Especially not favourably, could their adverts be any more hate provoking?

                              However, having in desperation put aside my advert prejudices and given it a go, the results were rather amazing. Really, seriously, unbelievably amazing. I've gone from a loather of the brand and its horrible smug annoying image, to some strange sad freak that obsesses over the wonder of power cleaner.

                              A little bit of background for you. We live in London. The water is horrible. Lime scale is pretty much a permanent feature of life. We moved into our house in October 2006 and the house was at the time only about three years old. In those few short years, the previous residents had allowed lime scale to build up to such a horrific level that there were what I can only describe as 'icicles' on pretty much all of the taps (at the bit where the water comes out). The bases of the taps where they attach to the sink/bath were also pretty grim, as were the plug holes and all parts of the shower. Gross.

                              I'll be honest with you; I wasn't ever so sure how to deal with this. I'd always been able to keep my bathroom and kitchen clean in the past by never allowing it to build up in the first place (my last place was about 25 years old but had always been loved.)

                              I tried a few bathroom cleaners and specialist products, but the grime was too strong, it was just too deep and established. The best effects came from using good old baking soda, but this did take quite a lot of scrubbing and over the two and a bit pre-Bang! years all I could achieve was a slight reduction in the stains and deposits with each clean. Although I could occasionally break the odd bit off, even taking a knife to some of the really hardened stuff wouldn't get it gone. It was extremely frustrating.

                              The other day, whilst browsing in my local supermarket, Cillit Bang Power Cleaner for grime and lime just caught my eye. To be fair, given the packaging this isn't difficult. As I mentioned above, the advert is off-putting and I think this is what has stopped me in the past.

                              This is what is says about itself:

                              "Cillit Bang Power Cleaner Grime & Lime's formula simply cuts through the toughest problems like soap scum, bathroom grime and rust. It also dissolves rock hard calcium in seconds so even limescale is no match for the power formula. Cillit Bang Power Cleaner Grime & Lime trigger will restore your surfaces to their original shine and it contains a fresh fragrance to leave your home smelling clean and fresh."

                              Yes, yes, heard it all before is my instinctive reaction. This particular trip though, I thought 'well, why not' and plopped it into the basket.



                              PRICE

                              According to Sainsbury's groceries online website, as of today (2nd January 2009) a 750ml bottle of Cillit Bang Power Cleaner Grime and Lime will set you back £3.21. What a bargain! You don't need masses of it to do the job - just a few squirts will do, so it should last you a while too. Well, as long as any other cleaner that comes in a bottle this size would last. In my opinion, this product is very good value for money.


                              PACKAGING

                              Wow, how garish is this! Just like the adverts, it is pretty shocking packaging. At least it makes it hard to miss, and you can't fail to know what brand it is associated with. There is no denying that this is a very eye-catching product, and it really does stand out on the shelf. The packaging is in keeping with the company image which, although gross, is very strong. In terms of business that can't be a bad thing.

                              It comes in a 750ml trigger bottle container like that shown in the picture. The bottle is bright purple, with a bright orange trigger. The label has the product name in big bold font over the colours of pink and white stripes arranged in a way that suggests something in the middle is gleaming and the label itself is edged bright orange to match the colour of the trigger. There are some small pictures of sparkling clean looking features such as a sink or a bathroom detailing broad examples of where the product can be used.

                              There is also a label on the reverse of the bottle detailing how the product should be used, what exactly it is, along with information about where it is/isn't suitable for use.


                              SCENT

                              I have to be honest. The smell is not good. It is a strong 'chemical' type smell, and to be fair to it, it smells like something that is probably going to work.

                              I'm not sure that, like Cillit, I could refer to the scent as a 'fresh fragrance to leave your house smelling clean and fresh'. I'd say it smells clean in quite a tart, sour kind of way. But that's just me. I followed it up with a squish of all purpose bathroom cleaner for a final polish and a nicer smell and this, to me, actually was clean and fresh.


                              APPLICATION

                              According to the instructions on the bottle, this is how it's done:
                              "Simply spray onto surfaces, leave for up to one minute (but no longer) and wipe away the tough stains. Rinse the surface thoroughly with water after use. Make sure you always test on an inconspicuous area first to ensure compatibility with the surface."

                              It really is as easy as that!

                              The liquid, in keeping with the rest of the company image, is bright pink. This is helpful as you can see exactly where you have sprayed it, as well as anywhere it has run to. This means you know where to remove it from after the one minute (so that nothing gets damaged by leaving it on there for an excessive amount of time).

                              The trigger bottle design also makes application extremely easy and means that the liquid does not have to make contact with your skin. I have very sensitive hands which react to most cleaning products and so wouldn't attempt to use anything of this description without my marigolds - but still, the less contact the better in my opinion.


                              WHERE CAN IT BE USED?

                              Cillit Bang power cleaner can be used on most surfaces, and pretty much anywhere that it is likely that grime and lime can build up. According to the instructions on the product, it is suitable on the following surfaces:

                              Suitable for:

                              Ceramics
                              Taps
                              Chrome
                              Ceramic flooring and wall tiles
                              Wash basins and toilets
                              Bath tubs and showers
                              Shower cubicles made from glass or acrylic plastic
                              Stainless steel and ceramic sinks
                              PVC floor coating

                              Not suitable for:

                              Hot or damaged surfaces
                              Acid sensitive surfaces
                              Enamel
                              Aluminium
                              Natural stones or zinc-plated metals
                              Marble
                              Textiles
                              Carpets
                              Brass
                              Stained fittings
                              Linoleum
                              Varnished, waxed or oiled wood floors
                              Rubber
                              Etched/matt glass


                              ANYTHING DODGY I NEED TO KNOW?

                              This is quite a harsh chemical and can be described as an irritant. It would be wise for you to wear gloves when using a product such as this in order to avoid contact with your skin.

                              Cillit recommend that if this product gets into your eyes, you should rinse them immediately with plenty of water and seek medical advice. Medical advice should also be obtained if the product is swallowed and the label provided to the medical staff.

                              Cillit also suggest that you should only use the product in well ventilated areas and avoid breathing the spray.

                              The product should not be mixed with bleach or other cleaning products and the container should be disposed of in a safe way.

                              Leaving the product on a surface for more than 5 minutes may, apparently, cause adverse effects. No further information is given as to what such effects might be, but I'd rather not chance it personally.


                              RESULTS

                              So did it work? Oh my goodness, YES! It really, really did. I cannot praise it enough and still can't quite believe how easily it worked.

                              My icicles have gone completely. I did still have to scrape a little, but the product broke the hard matter down and softened it hugely. It definitely weakened it at the point where it was attached to the taps.

                              The plug holes look as good as new.

                              The areas around the bases of the taps, well, this is the biggest wonder. One spray and perhaps only around 30 seconds wait, then one swoosh with the cloth and it was gone. No need to even enlist the old toothbrush I have on standby for the more fiddly areas. To think of the hours I wasted pointlessly scrubbing them in the past!

                              My shower glistens. I did have to use the toothbrush to get into some of the bits that move in order to get out the lime from in between, but the product meant that when I did this it actually came out and didn't require any actual 'scrubbing' at all.

                              I am quite honestly blown away by it. It's wonderful! I recommend it to anyone who cares to listen. I can't wait to see what else they have in their range and try it out.

                              I'm a little embarrassed by quite how excited I am about this product.

                              I'll never let an advert stop me from trying anything again. Well, I probably will, but I'll try not to.



                              Thanks for reading

                              © BondgirlK8 - January 2009

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                                04.01.2009 16:04
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                                Sunshine in the winter, and less wrinkles - give it a try.

                                I am massively paranoid about ageing and do everything I can to preserve my looks. As a result, I started on the anti-wrinkle products at around the age of 21. I must be doing something right as I will be 30 tomorrow and still frequently get ID'ed.

                                Anyhoo, this means I'm always on the look out for some good moisturiser to ensure I'm still digging out the driving license as I work through my forth decade. Though I tend to stick to products that I know work, I do like to mix it up now again for fear my skin will 'get used to it' , the product will stop working and I will wake up one morning to find I've gone haggard and my ID'ed days gone forever.

                                I am also one of those people that will make the most of any freebies they can get and apply for all the free samples the internet can provide.

                                My latest corker of a free sample was a little bottle of Olay Total Effects Touch of Sunshine which promises to fight the 7 signs of ageing. In my mind, an excellent freebie - and the second anti-ageing miracle cream I have found in this way. The other, I might review soon.

                                As you can tell, I liked it and have since treated myself to a whole bottle of the stuff. I guess free samples work for both of us!


                                WHAT IS IT?

                                Total Effects Touch of Sunshine is a moisturising cream intended for daily use which promises to fight the 7 signs of ageing as well as build a light tan. This is described on the bottle as a 'light sun-kissed glow' (dark sun-kissed glow is also available in the range). The product also contains SPF 15 protection from the sun.

                                This cream is intended to be used in the morning, and there is also a complimenting night cream in the range- I do not use both as don't wish my 'tan' to be anything more than very subtle! I use a non-tanning night cream that I discovered via free sample instead!

                                So what are the 7 signs of ageing? Despite the adverts (which I think do tell you very quickly), I could never quite work out what exactly the 7 signs were. I tried to count them but always failed, and so include them here (direct from the Olay website) so that you know what we are dealing with:

                                1. Line minimization: Visibly reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
                                2. Nourishing Moisturisation: Intensively hydrates the skin
                                3. Tone Enhancement: Balances colour and visibly evens skin tone
                                4. Gentle Exfoliation: Smoothes and evens skin texture
                                5. Pore Refinement: Minimises the appearance of pores
                                6. Brightening: For radiant, healthy glow.
                                7. Spot minimisation: Reduces appearance of age spots

                                Basically, 'ageing' manifests itself by making you wrinkly, dry, blotchy, rough and dull with open pores and age spots. Oh what fun the future holds. Hopefully this product will indeed help me to fight that nightmare.


                                PRICE

                                As I mentioned above Olay, like any good dealer, gave me my first hit for free. It successfully hooked me and I went out to try to score some more. It is pretty expensive, and the RRP for a 50ml bottle is £16.99 so I held out and used my other samples until locating it on offer. I picked it up in Sainsbury's last weekend for £11.00

                                Most anti-wrinkle cream is on the pricey side, and I'm not quite sure any of it is worth the amounts they charge, so as I general rule I only ever buy it on offer. This product, however, is one of the better ones...for me at any rate, and is worth paying (at least the on-offer rates) for.


                                PACKAGING

                                The bottle (like most things in this over-packaged world) comes in a box which is itself wrapped in cellophane. Personally, I would prefer the bar code be printed straight on the bottle, but that is how I feel about most things if I am honest.

                                The box is black and glossy, with bright yellow colours to represent the sunshine. The Olay name and the product name are clear and the box, on the shelf, looks appealing.

                                Inside is a bottle which is mainly a very pale yellow colour, with a black top which is pressed down to dispense the moisturiser. There is a clear lid which is placed over this section when the bottle is not in use. The brand name Olay is written in black with the product name in gold, and again some bright yellow colours on the label represent the fact that there is sunshine within.

                                The pressing down method of dispensing the moisturiser works very well for me and I find it to be a relatively successful way of ensuring most of the product is reached and therefore used. It does not entirely empty the bottle, but by the stage where there is nothing else coming out, I will dismantle the bottle and locate the elusive bit of cream providing me with an extra day or two of use. The dispenser does, however, deliver a good amount of cream (a generous finger-tip amount) and I will need only 2 or 3 squishes to provide suitable coverage to my face and neck (TIP to people new to moisturisers - always make sure you moisturise your neck as well as your face - last thing you want as you age is a premature turkey neck!!). I've never had the problem of it dispensing too much and not being able to put it back in the tube.


                                SCENT

                                The scent of this product really took me by surprise....it's nice! I've only ever owned one 'tan building' product before that works in the same way as this one (i.e. white cream, goes on clear, builds up a tan). Of that other product (which I won't name right now) I had both the body cream and the facial moisturiser. They both reeked.

                                This product, however, smells lovely. There is none of the icky chemical whiff that accompanied the other (and left lingering about my person all day after use), and instead it smells...'fresh' I think is the best word. It reminds me a little bit of sun-cream, in a nice way that just smells like holidays. I haven't noticed it leave a smell on my skin either, which I think on the whole is a good thing for a moisturiser.


                                TEXTURE AND APPLICATION

                                The cream is silky and feels smooth. It is a good level of thickness being neither too runny nor so thick it is difficult to apply well. I would, ideally, like it to be a tiny, tiny tad thicker - but that is just me being picky.

                                It rubs in very well and does not feel greasy to apply or sit on top of your skin, struggling to be absorbed.

                                The press dispenser, mentioned above, aids the application process and means that you do not get covered in the stuff.

                                It is wise to have a good hand wash after application to ensure that you do not end up with tanned fingertips - never a good look!


                                IMMEDIATE RESULTS

                                As soon as I applied this product to my face, I knew I liked it. I made my face feel soft, smooth and moisturised. It did not feel too greasy and felt like it was going to be a good base for my make-up. It was indeed a good base, and my make up went smoothly on top of it.


                                LONGER TERM EFFECTS

                                I don't know about the 7 signs, but my big paranoia areas (unsurprisingly) are around my eyes and mouth. I've definitely not noticed anything get worse and I think they do actually look better.

                                Sadly, I don't think anything will stop me from having open pores on my face - I do think though that this is a fact of my skin as I don't remember a time not having a problem with open pores.

                                My skin is not too dry which, given the time of year, I think is a good indication that this product is working for me.

                                The colour and tone of my skin does seem to have a bit more of a glow about it than usual and I love the way this actually looks pretty natural. The other product I tried made me look a little bit plastic and I also had problems with darker patches where I had applied more cream or not rubbed it in so well. I've not noticed that with this and I am, overall, pretty happy with the results.

                                I'd say this is my overall 2nd favourite anti-ageing day moisturiser (I might review my first favourite soon), but it is my 1st favourite for the winter due to the sunshine it brings to my face.

                                Thanks for reading

                                © BondgirlK8 - January 2009

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                                • Primark / Highstreet Shopping / 118 Readings / 113 Ratings
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                                  29.12.2008 13:55
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                                  Cheaper than buying the material - but that shouldn't be good.

                                  Primark as a supplier of actual clothing that I would actually wear? No. I don't think so. Much as I like a bargain, I don't go in for the wear once and throw away market. I'm unsure how it can be ethical, despite its claims, whilst managing to produce products quite so cheaply. I'm also not happy with the consumption of the Earth's increasingly scarce resources to produce that which after a few wears will become landfill - I'm unsure of the charity resale value for donated goods that cost only a pound or two new. I am a strong believer of value-for-money not simply being about the cheapest.

                                  Add to that the whole shopping 'experience'. The stores are messy, horrifically busy, much of the stock is tainted with rubbed off make-up or general crap-from-the-floor, the queues for the changing rooms are so bad that some delightful people resort to just using the middle of the store (seriously, I saw someone doing this in the lingerie section of the Marble Arch store - that is plain wrong). And then there is the clientele. Now, I don't mean to be a big nasty snob, but I struggle with some of the customers - pushing their greasy, MacDonald's fuelled bodies around in a greedy bargain-crazed frenzy with little care over the damage caused to both stock and people by their pushing and shoving. Yucky.

                                  I recently had to leave a Primark store when a trip through the lingerie section (different trip to the one above) actually made my fiancé retch. Yes, a proper real genuine, HURWEH-URRRGH style dry-heave. After that, I couldn't really bring myself to stay and had to return at a later date, alone.

                                  So why, given all of the evidence pointing to a one-star rating at best have I seen fit to give it 3 whole stars? Am I just a hypocrite? Well, a bit, yes.

                                  My reasoning is this. Yes, it is a poor clothes shop, but it is a wonderful supplier of fabric. My involvement in the performing arts means I am regularly required to provide costumes for various shows. London living and the frittering of all my income on dance classes tends to leave me with a budget-per-show of around tuppence, so whatever I go with has to be both dirt cheap, and look amazing....on stage at least.

                                  Now, Primark mass-produced items clearly do not look amazing. Luckily, I own both a sewing machine and a tiny bit of imagination - so all I really need is fabric. Not only is Primark cheaper than buying 'raw' fabric (I know, it makes no sense), it is thoughtfully pre-arranged in a vaguely body like shape. In this way, Primark, I have to admit, has been good to me.

                                  The other problem with shop bought costume (assuming for a moment that cost is not an issue) is that it is pretty dull and unimaginative. The low cost of the Primark clothes means I'm happy to tear and cut away at it and transform it into something far more exciting. This also means, thankfully, that sizing doesn't really matter, because as long as it is bigger than me then I can do something with it. I say 'thankfully' because surely I can't be alone in noticing the complete and utter randomness of the Primark sizing system. It really does change on every piece you pick up. How can this size 12 item be too tight, yet this size 6 drown me? Given that I'm hacking it, I don't have to worry so much, I can always make it smaller.

                                  Another sneaky tip from the fabric point of view is to check out the men's department (unless you yourself are a man where this, clearly, is obvious). I recently needed a waistcoat for a show, the ladies ones were around £12 - quite pricey really. I picked up a bargain from the men's section for £2.50 which I re-tailored to fit me.

                                  So, how good is it? Well, the fabric itself, depending on what you get, isn't anywhere near as bad as I was expecting. It sews quite nice and doesn't feel too rough. The colours can run a little bit when you wash them with some items, but as long as you separate colours and wash low, this isn't a problem.

                                  Of course, if you plan to take this approach, success is very dependent upon your own level of skill. I'm good enough to make something for the stage (where you can get away with so much more, and it only has to last as long as the show runs for) but I'm not quite there with making everyday wear, though I'm learning fast.

                                  I do feel bad encouraging a company that really I am ethically against. But at least with me, the items will live a long and happy life. At the end of the show, my items go back into my fabric box to be re-transformed ready to star in another show.

                                  If you are going give it a try, here is my advice to make Primark work for you:

                                  1. Go early to avoid the masses as much as possible. By 'early' I mean opening time.
                                  2. If you plan to wear the item as it comes, try it on. The sizing cannot be trusted.
                                  3. If you are using it as 'fabric' buy big (it's easier to make something smaller than bigger) and judge this by holding it up or trying it on and making sure.
                                  4. Check quality levels before you make a purchase - some items fall apart much quicker than others and like the sizing, its pot-luck! It's less of a bargain if you only get to wear it once.
                                  5. Wash it before you wear it to remove any funk picked up in the store.
                                  6. Wash it on a very low temperature and with similar colours so that the fabric lasts longer and the colours don't run.
                                  7. At the end of its life, if you can't transform it into something else to give it a new life, donate it somewhere that can actually use it, or rag it and use it around the house - landfill shouldn't be the price.

                                  Thanks for reading.

                                  © Bondgirlk8 - December 2008

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