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brittle1906

brittle1906
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Member since: 25.05.2008

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      27.04.2014 01:56
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      • "Pleasing floral scent"

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      • "Body lotion thin and watery"

      A pleasant gift set, but not something I'd buy for myself.


      Review of Yardley Lily of the Valley Gift Set for Women

      I love the flower, Lily of the Valley; they are pretty and have a delicate scent that conjures up thoughts of spring to me. I came across this gift set recently, I must be honest and say that I cannot remember when it was given to me and it has been sat, unopened, at the back of our rather large bathroom cupboard. For some reason, although I love my scented toiletries, I always hesitate to open gift sets it does seem a shame to spoil beautifully presented boxes by dismantling them!
      My set comprises of a shower cream, a body spray and a body lotion. All are beautifully presented in a classy white, black and gold packaging. The actual box that they came in was quite plain, but eye catching in its simplicity.
      The shower cream was the first item I tried once the gift set was opened. This is a creamy white, fairly thick textured shower product. It lathered well and smelled gorgeous. The bathroom was scented for quite some time after I'd had my shower. The shower cream lathered well and it left my skin clean and well fragranced. I found that the floral scent did not linger beyond an hour or so however. A nice shower cream, but not one I'd buy for myself.

      The body spray is excellent, the scent is strong, the floral notes deepened with wear, just as I would expect with an Eau de toilette or similar fragrance. The Lily of the Valley scent is obviously a floral, but it has deeper almost musky tones and I thought I could detect a hint of amber and sandalwood within the base notes. As this is not an anti perspirant spray, it is definitely not one for preventing damp underarms, but it is a very nice quality body spray and something I'd like to use again.

      The body lotion was a little disappointing. Again a creamy white colour and well scented, but it was quite thin and watery. It absorbed well into my skin but did not really do anything other than leave a slightly sickly scent. It was not particularly moisturising and although as part of a gift set it was pleasant enough, it is not something I'd buy for myself.

      All in all, I consider the Yardley Lily of the Valley Gift set to be very nice to receive as a gift, the scent of the products is on the whole, pleasing although perhaps a little dated for some tastes. I found the scent of the body lotion a bit sickly, but the shower cream and body spray were much stronger and in my view more pleasant.

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        10.02.2014 13:53
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        A gripping crime thriller with plenty of twists and turns

        Review of Nothing But Trouble, a novel by Roberta Kray

        ==The Book==

        I am reviewing the paperback edition of this novel, published by Sphere, ISBN 978-0751544794, 544 pages, cover price £6.99. Genre- Crime Fiction.

        My copy was sourced from my local book exchange group. This book can be found on amazon at £3.50 for a new paperback or from 0.01p used.
        It is also available in Kindle format at £3.32 or as a new hardback from £11.64.

        ==The Plot==

        The story starts in August 1998. A group of school girls are idling away their school holidays in Kellston, a run-down area in London's East End. The gang consists of five 10 year old girls and is headed by their self-styled leader, Paige, a street wise bully who encourages her girl gang to do her bidding, shoplifting and generally running wild. A sixth girl Minnie Bright tries to hang about with the girls, but she is unwelcome as she is a slow-witted, grubby child whom Paige considers beneath contempt. One fateful day, Minnie is bullied by the gang into breaking into the house of local 'flasher' Donald Peck. Minnie climbs in through a window and that is the last time the child is seen alive, her broken body is discovered some two days later under a bed in Peck's home. He is subsequently arrested, charged and convicted to life imprisonment for the murder of Minnie Bright.

        14 years forward finds the girl gang grown up and living their own lives, Donald Peck is dead having killed himself whilst in prison.

        One of the policemen who discovered the body of Minnie Bright is Harry Lind. Harry has now left the police force and with his partner, another ex-policeman called Mac, Harry runs a private investigation agency in Kellston. Harry is a remote type of man; he is single and is in the process of moving into the flat above his business premises. Harry has an on/off relationship with Detective Inspector Valerie Middleton.
        Harry is approached by a businessman to follow and watch his wife who is suspected of cheating. Harry feels a little discouraged by the job but accepts it all the same.

        Shortly after this an old friend, investigative journalist Jessica Vaughan, calls at Harry's office. She has been researching the Minnie Bright case for an article she is writing about the after effects of serious crime. Her research has led her to interview the five girls involved, however one is dead, having committed suicide a year earlier. Of the other four, one named Sam agrees to be interviewed, two more agree but then change their minds and the final girl, Kristen, now a model and an actress in a TV soap opera, refuses point blank to speak of the case.

        Jessica is suspicious and her worries are proven correct when she is approached by Sam who is receiving anonymous death threats and has suffered vandalism to the taxi she drives. Jessica asks Harry Lind to help Sam and herself.
        Harry is sceptical but agrees to assist and very soon finds that he and Jessica are becoming embroiled in a case where they are stirring up all kinds of trouble by simply asking questions, questions that someone will kill to leave unanswered.

        ==My Thoughts And Conclusion==

        I must admit to a little hesitation regarding this novel prior to reading it. I had heard of the author as many will have done, she is after all the widow of the infamous Reggie Kray, one of the Kray twins, gangsters who were imprisoned in 1969 for their various murders and crimes. Southport born Roberta met Reggie Kray, the man whose words and deeds once terrorised the London underworld, in 1996 and married him the following year.

        The book blurb states that no one knows crime like a Kray and it was this that put me off the book initially as I feared it would be a book simply cashing in on the Kray family name. I have read several books about the Kray brothers and would have been disappointed had this novel just been a spin off these.

        I need not have worried!

        Nothing But Trouble is a fast paced, intriguing novel. It is well written and gripping, although there are several story lines running concurrently, this does not detract from the strong plot and it is a well-crafted novel.

        I had also thought the novel would be similar in style to the work of Martina Cole, again the book blurb alluded to this, but I found it to be a far better novel altogether. The situations and plot were slightly similar to Ms Cole's books but there is none of the gruesome violence, bad language and shock value that she uses. I have to say I feel Roberta Kray is the better writer as she keeps the plot spinning along with no additional padding. Dialogue is crisp, sharp and well delivered and she has drawn the characters remarkably well, they are believable and in some cases quite unlikeable!

        My main criticism would be that there are so many characters involved in the two cases Harry Lind was investigating, that I began to lose track of some of them. I did wonder perhaps if the two main story lines of the murdered child and the cheating wife could have actually made two novels; there was certainly enough action in the cases to warrant a complete novel for each!

        I found this book absorbing, the plot and sub plots twisted and turned and I was fooled by red herrings just as the main protagonist Harry Lind was in the story. The final outcome of both the cases were surprising and made for a satisfying end to a brilliantly crafted novel.

        A 5* rating is well deserved for this author and I recommend 'Nothing But Trouble' to others. I intend to look out for more from this author and I hope they will live up to this novel.

        Thank you for reading.

        ©brittle1906 February 2014

        N.B. My review may be found on other sites under the same user name.

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          06.02.2014 23:14
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          A luxurious liquid soap

          Review of L'Occitane Shea Butter Verbena Liquid Soap

          I received a home-made gift basket of scented treats from a friend at Christmas; this liquid soap was one of the products she had included in the basket.

          ==The Liquid Soap==

          Presented in a chunky square-ish shaped see through plastic bottle, this liquid soap looks classy on the bathroom window sill. The bottle I own contains a generous 500 ml of soap.
          The soap is a beautiful amber colour and the labelling is very distinctive, being basically black and gold. The label advises that the product is a detergent-free cleanser that is gentle enough for dry, sensitive or damaged skin.
          The soap is dispensed by means of a pump action nozzle; this is sturdy and practical in use, dispensing just the right amount of liquid with one press. The nozzle is made from black plastic and is the usual twist on off and push to dispense design.
          The scent is glorious, floral and rich with a hint of fruit, I find the scent lasts very well on my hands and I can still detect it an hour or so after use, which for a soap product, I think is amazing!
          The soap lathers well even in my hard water region and it cleanses efficiently with the minimum of fuss. The texture is quite creamy for gel soap.
          One thing I really like about this is that my hands do not feel dry or taut after using this liquid soap, a problem that I have encountered with other scented hand washes. I would guess that the addition of Shea Butter is responsible for the moisturising effect.

          ==Price and Availability==

          This product is currently available from various online retailers. A quick Google search conducted today brought up the following prices.
          EBay from £5
          Debenhams £8
          Amazon from £13
          L'Occitane £19
          Refills are also available from L'Occitane.


          ==My Thoughts and Conclusion==

          This is a luxurious product, it is beautifully scented and the fragrance seems to last a long time. The soap is efficient and although having been taken aback when I researched the price for the purposes of my review, I feel that if sourced at a good price, it does offer value for money. You really do not need to use a large amount for a simple hand washing. I started using mine a day or so after Christmas and at the point of writing my review (February 2014), I still have about half the bottle left even though this has been used several times a day by both myself, my other half and visitors to our home!
          I am particularly impressed with the moisturising effect I gain from using this liquid soap, all too often this type of product can be a little harsh in my opinion, but as L'Occitane Liquid is proving very skin friendly. I love the colour of the liquid soap; it is an attractive warm amber shade which blends beautifully with the colour scheme of my bathroom.

          Although I probably wouldn't buy this liquid soap for myself as it is on the pricey side I am enjoying using it and I feel it was a lovely present to receive.
          I am awarding this product a 5* rating and would recommend it to others.

          Thank you for reading.
          ©brittle1906 February 2014

          N.B. My reviews may be found on other sites under the same user name.

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            26.01.2014 09:12
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            A very good toilet cleaner with a pleasing scent

            Review of Jeyes Bloo Zingy Lime Toilet Cleaner

            ** I received a bottle of this toilet cleaner for Christmas.**

            I appreciate that I have started this review with an odd statement given the nature of the product, but here goes.

            Why would anyone buy someone toilet cleaner as a Christmas gift?

            Well, back in the autumn, my daughter and her family were staying with us. One evening while watching television, a programme (I cannot recall the title) came in which people with Obsessive Cleaning Disorder (OCD) discussed their cleaning issues and habits and were then taken to the homes of hoarders and the like to see if some of their habits could help the messier people.

            During the course of the programme a lady was showing the film crew how by using an up and down action with a lavatory brush, she pumps all the water out of the toilet pan in order to give the loo a really good scrub. I watched with slightly embarrassed interest as this is something I do too on a daily basis and had not realised that other people do not adopt this method for toilet cleaning!

            My daughter and my partner were in fits of laughter at my discomfort and I became the butt of some gentle teasing from them about my mild (in my opinion) OCD tendencies.

            The joke was continued at Christmas with a gift wrapped bottle of toilet cleaner.

            **The Toilet Cleaner**

            Presented in a tall recyclable clear plastic bottle, this cleaner promises a 'zingy fragrance'. The bottle is topped by a child proof; twist off cap which is pretty well standard on products of this type. The neck of the bottle is angled to allow users to direct the liquid under the rim of the toilet bowl.

            The liquid is a luminous green colour and has a gel-like texture; it is a cross between a liquid and a gel in my view. It clings well to the toilet bowl and when flushed away does not leave a coloured residue on the porcelain the way some loo cleaners do.

            Jeyes suggest squirting the cleaner around the toilet and either flushing after use or leaving over night for heavy lime scale removal. I used this in my usual fashion, removing all the water, applying the cleaner, scrubbing the cleaner around the bowl with a toilet brush, leaving for a few minutes before flushing. It worked very well and left the toilet looking sparkling clean and the bathroom filled with a very pleasant lime/citrus scent. This was actually quite long lasting and possibly nicer to the nose than the usual bleach smell.

            **My Thoughts and Conclusion**

            The joke Christmas gift was well received and we all had a giggle, although I think my grandchildren were slightly bemused.

            Of course, I used the toilet cleaner and although I am usually a bleach devotee when it comes to household cleaning, I was so impressed with this product that when I spotted it in Poundland for just £1 for a 750ml bottle, I bought a couple of bottles. I cannot say I have seen this in supermarkets, so am not sure whether it is a widely available item.

            I particularly liked the fresh zingy aroma and the clear container is ideal as you can see just how much liquid you have left. The product works very well; it is easy to use, efficient and does everything you expect from a product of this type.

            I would recommend this to others and am awarding it a 5* rating.

            Thank you for reading
            ©brittle1906 January 2014

            N.B. My review may appear on other sites under the same user name.

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              24.01.2014 18:36
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              A good quality bleach at a sensible price

              Review of Sainsbury's Thick Bleach

              Household cleaning products are not the most inspiring of items that I put in my shopping trolley and I must admit to being a bit traditional when it comes to household cleaners. I would rather have a few multi-tasking products rather than a cupboard full of fancy items designed to be used for one specific purpose.

              Bleach is one of my regular purchases as I find it useful for so many jobs around the home. I know some people find the aroma of bleach a bit eye watering and offensive, but personally I like it and feel the scent is indicative of a job well done. Branded bleach can be quite pricey these days and as I am on a fairly tight budget, I do seek out bargains and special offers regularly. I have purchased this particular bleach many times and have always found it satisfactory. My main use for neat bleach is as a toilet and drain cleaner and I use it in a diluted solution for wiping down kitchen work-surfaces, bathroom tiles, sanitary ware and floors.

              **The Bleach**

              The bleach is presented in a tall, dark blue plastic bottle. The bottle and cap are both recyclable.
              The handle is easy to grip and is an integrated part of the bottle design. The cap is as one would expect, of the childproof variety and the bottle has raised grooves running around the bottle and braille 'bumps' on the widest part of the bottle shoulders for partially sighted users.

              Sainsbury's provide all product information and warnings on the label and we are advised that this bleach will kill 100% of germs including listeria, salmonella and E.coli. As with all household cleaning products this should be stored well away from children and pets.

              **My Thoughts and Usage**

              I have found that this bleach compares extremely well with its branded counterparts, it has the fresh bleach-y smell that I like and I feel satisfied that the product will do what I expect of it. The actual product is a yellowy coloured thick bleach, it pours well and although the bottle does not have a directional spout (although I'm sure it used to!) I can use this for a variety of jobs around my home.

              I find it clings well to surfaces such as toilet bowls and also it also seems to help inhibit the dreaded lime scale that is an on-going problem in my hard water region of the UK. Diluted this bleach is a useful household cleaner for all kinds of hard surfaces and it leaves a fresh, clean aroma which lingers and reassures me that things are clean and germ free.

              The bleach must be used with caution as it will remove colour from fabrics if splashing should occur, as my dark pink pedestal mat can concur!
              Price wise this own brand bleach is a bargain in my opinion at £1.90 for a large 2 litre container.

              To conclude, I would recommend this Sainsbury's Thick Bleach to other consumers, it is definitely a firm contender in my opinion!

              Thank you for reading.
              ©brittle1906 January 2014

              N.B. My review may be found on other sites under the same user name.

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                22.01.2014 07:45
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                Not a particularly sucessful buy for me

                Review of Brabantia Essential Can opener

                I must be honest, can openers and I are not on very good terms. No matter what design of can opener I buy, I end up having problems with them. In fact, it is so bad that I find myself rejecting canned food brands if they do not have a ring pull sometimes! Just lately however, I am on a budget and find I am buying quite a few supermarket own label basic ranges when grocery shopping for items such as tinned tomatoes. These basic ranges rarely include a ring pull on their canned goods, no doubt to keep costs down.

                We do have an electric can opener but I find this a bit of a faff to get out, unwind the cable, plug in and use. I am a bit of a fuss pot who does not like gadgets and anything more than a toaster, kettle and the microwave out on the kitchen work surfaces, so I tend to use a hand held can opener rather than clutter up my work space with another gadget.

                **The Can Opener**

                I purchased this Brabantia can opener approximately 18 months ago. I cannot recall the exact price I paid, but I pretty certain it was in the £5-£10 region. My can opener was bought from one of the local supermarkets, probably Sainsbury's or Tesco.
                The can opener is fairly chunky, the cutting mechanism is made from stainless steel and the handles are durable white plastic. The can opener can be used either vertically or horizontally, the can opener is locked onto the lip of the can and the user needs to hold on to the plastic handles with one hand whilst turning the metal key like handle. This is where I get into difficulties as I find it almost impossible to turn the handle whilst holding onto the plastic handles. Perhaps I lack co-ordination or basic dexterity skills, but I find this very awkward to do!

                When used correctly (and by someone who can actually do it!) the can opener slices through the tin, cutting off the lid evenly and cleanly. The lid can then be safely removed from the can and disposed of. The can opener also has a bottle cap remover incorporated into the cutting end.

                **My Thoughts and Conclusion**

                I really do not like this can opener; I find it rather large and cumbersome. The can opener is quite awkward for me to use although in all fairness my partner has no trouble with it at all. The opener comes with a 5 year guarantee and although we haven't used it that often and it spends most of its time lurking in the back of the utensil drawer, it is still sharp.

                I am fully aware that the problems I have with this tool are mine, I have had similar issues with almost every can opener I've ever bought.
                On a positive note the can opener has a useful hanging loop and it is very easy to keep clean, a quick sluice in with the washing up is all that is required. It can be cleaned in a dish washer if you are lucky enough to have one!

                I would not rush to replace this can opener with a similar model due to my usage problems; however it is a useful thing to own, if you are less cack handed than me!

                I am awarding this Branbantia can opener a 2* rating given my less than satisfactory personal experience with it.

                Thank you for reading
                ©brittle1906 January 2014
                N.B.My reviews may be found on other sites under the same user name

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                  07.01.2014 09:12
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                  One for the Martina Cole fans!

                  <<<<**I am dedicating this review to a very special man, Chris Daniels (aka CPT DANIELS) possibly the best book review writer I have ever come across. Rest in peace Chris, you will be sadly missed by many in the on line reviewing community.**>>>>

                  Review of 'The Life', a novel by Martina Cole

                  I am reviewing the paperback version of this book, published by Headline, 608 pages, ISBN 978-0755375592, cover price £7.99. Genre Crime/Thriller.
                  This paperback is currently available from amazon for £3.85 new, £2.99 for the Kindle version or from 0.01 (+p&p) used.

                  **The Plot**

                  Peter and Daniel Bailey were brothers, one brother was black, the other white. Brought up in the East End of London by their white, Irish catholic mother, Theresa, the brothers were inseparable. Giving birth to an illegitimate child had been hard enough for Theresa, but to give birth to two fatherless boys and of whom one was black had been too much for Theresa's family to bear and she had been cast out by her family. As a result, life had been very hard and Teresa and her boys had had to make a life for themselves.

                  As they grew, the Bailey boys became a formidable team, nothing was out of their league, and nothing could stop them. The Bailey brothers had very different strengths and weaknesses, both big children and later, physically large men; Peter was the brains, Daniel the brawn.
                  In time they both married suitable girls, Ria and Lena and had children. Peter and Ria had a daughter and three sons, Daniel and Lena had four sons and then in time, a late baby was conceived, a longed for daughter, Tania.

                  From the late 1970's the Bailey brothers were the lynchpins of Britain's gangland, unstoppable, unbeatable and ruthless to outsiders but always presenting a united front no matter what was going on within the family. As their children grew up, they too became absorbed into the 'Life'.

                  Money and opportunity were theirs for the taking, but as the children of the Bailey brothers grow up, some took more than others leading to a dramatic climax, Martina Cole style.

                  **My Thoughts and Conclusion**

                  I have read all of Ms Cole's novels and to be honest grew a little weary of them, the violence, gruesome descriptions of torture and murders, stereotypical characters and foul language were becoming repetitive and quite frankly dull, so I moved away from this genre completely and read other authors and styles.
                  I recently had a small amount of money left on an amazon voucher so decided to treat myself to a book. I came across this novel and decided to give Martina Cole another try. I paid just £3.85 for the book so reasoned that this was not too much money to waste if I hated the novel!

                  To be honest I started reading this book with no great expectations, I actually wondered why I'd bought it as my last venture into the author's writing was less than satisfactory. I found the usual prologue (written in the first person) whetted my appetite and left me clamouring for more. Perhaps this is proof that a good prologue can captivate the reader.

                  The main body of the novel is written in the third person and it is a typical Martina Cole novel in that there are a whole host of richly drawn characters with gritty dialogue and many twists and turns to the storyline. I did become a little confused by the characters at one point and had to turn back to remind myself who was who and what their connection was within the story, but on the whole the characterisation was good and the sub plots within the storyline worked well and added to the drama of the plot.

                  One of my complaints in the first paragraph of this section was in relation to the violence and gruesome descriptions of events in Ms Cole's writing. These elements are still in evidence in 'The Life' but they are not as strong or stomach churning as within other novels from the author. Of course, I fully appreciate that this type of description is going to appear in a crime thriller but I feel Martina Cole has toned down a little and in my opinion this has improved her writing.
                  I do still consider this author's novels to be a little repetitive and the similarity of her characters is very noticeable. I found myself recalling events from earlier books as I read The Life, that said it did not detract too much from my enjoyment of the novel and I felt it compared very favourably to her earlier work.

                  All in all, I was pleased with this novel and I will probably re-read it in the future. I would recommend this book to others who like the crime thriller genre, but as always with a Martina Cole novel, it is definitely not for those who are easily offended by swearing, violence or graphic description of torture.
                  I am awarding this novel a 4* rating, dropping a * for the repetition.

                  Thank you for reading.

                  ©brittle1906 January 2014

                  N.B. Please note my reviews may be found on other sites under the same user name.

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                    29.12.2013 17:46
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                    A useful addition to any kitchen

                    Review of Breville 2 Slice Sandwich Toaster

                    A hot toasted sandwich can't be beaten as a filling quick lunch or snack in my opinion.
                    I first owned an electric sandwich toaster back in the 70's when they were fairly new on the market. The model I had then was a Breville and it got a lot of use. When my marriage broke down, my ex-husband claimed most of our household possessions, the sandwich toaster included. I replaced my trusty Breville with another sandwich toaster, a much cheaper, supermarket own branded version. I have actually two or three sandwich toasters since, all from the lower end of the price range. The fact that I am now reviewing a Breville sandwich toaster tells you that after several cheaper alternatives I have returned to Breville!

                    **The Breville 2 Slice Sandwich Toaster**


                    The toaster is a fairly chunky gadget, it is not the prettiest of kitchen items in my view, but it has a business-like, solid feel to it. I purchased mine from Tesco and paid £27.00 for it. I had a batch of club card vouchers to use and this sandwich toaster is what I chose to buy with them.
                    There did not appear to be much in the way of colour choices when I bought mine, just white and silver if I remember correctly. I was not particularly bothered about colour as I do not keep my gadgets out on display. I'm lucky enough to have a large kitchen with plenty of storage so I keep items of this sort in a cupboard bringing them out as and when I want to use them.

                    But I digress!

                    The sandwich toaster can make two toasted sandwiches at a time. The toaster is vaguely rectangular in shape with a domed top. Unlike the cheaper sandwich toasters I had owned previously, the Breville has removable, non-stick toasting plates, this makes cleaning so much easier. My other toasters ended up looking quite unpleasant as the plates were hard to clean and to be honest, try as I might to clean them, I felt they were unhygienic and stopped using them. The Breville's toasting plates can be washed in a dishwasher too.

                    The actual machine cannot of course be placed in water but a wipe over with a mild detergent and damp cloth is all that is needed clean the outer body of the toaster and keep it looking good.
                    The sandwich toaster has a useable length of flex, long enough to be practical but not so long as to cause a nuisance. There is also a flex storage so the cord does not get tangled or in the way when the unit is in the cupboard. The machine has two lights, a red one to indicate the unit is heating up and a green one which tells you the toaster is hot enough to cook your toasted sandwich.

                    The outside of sandwich toaster stays relatively cool in use, however the plates do of course get very hot.
                    The sandwich toaster has what Breville describe as cut and seal technology, this means the toasted sandwich is neatly cut into triangles and the edges sealed to prevent the filling escaping. I am very pleased to say that the sandwich toaster can accommodate most of the popular sliced bread brands on the market, as I'm sure everyone knows, slice sizes can vary enormously and my previous model of sandwich toaster could only really cope with smaller slices of bread, which could be wasteful and annoying.

                    The basic method of making your sandwich for toasting in the Breville is to spread your butter (or margerine!) on the bread and place these next to the toasting plates, so butter side out, if that makes sense. The sandwiches turn out beautifully, the bread being lightly toasted with a lovely golden brown colour. The sandwich has a crisp outside, thanks to the butter I suppose and the filling is usually piping hot and if using cheese, nicely melted. As to fillings, well of course, that is down to personal taste and the possibilities are endless. My own favourites are cheddar cheese and marmite or cheese and onion. My other half enjoys ham and cheese or peanut butter and marmite toasted sandwiches, the latter being a combination I just could not stomach!

                    I would say that you need to experiment a little with regard to the actual amount of filling you put in your sandwiches as too much can lead to spillage and too little can make your sandwich rather dry. I find a cheese based sandwich is ready to eat in approximately 4 minutes, so this toasts fairly quickly.

                    **My Thoughts and Conclusion**

                    I am really very pleased with this sandwich toaster, whilst I admit it is quite expensive when compared to other brands, the Breville wins hands down for me. It is easy to use and so much easier to clean than other models, which is a huge bonus for me. The Breville 2 Slice Sandwich Toaster is an item I use fairly regularly. These days I work slightly erratic hours and sometimes feel the need something hot and filling quickly at odd times, so the sandwich toaster is a boon to me.

                    I have conducted a quick 'Google' search for prices to compare stockists and was interested to see prices ranging from £22 (Amazon) to £35 (John Lewis). I would advise anyone wishing to purchase this model of sandwich toaster to shop around as prices do seem to vary somewhat.

                    To conclude, I consider this Breville sandwich toaster an excellent gadget, it is a good quality item and one I would sorely miss if I were to be parted from it!

                    Thank you for reading.
                    ©brittle1906 December 2013
                    N.B. My reviews may be found on other sites under the same user name.

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                    • Motion Lamp Lava Lamp / Lighting / 43 Readings / 43 Ratings
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                      28.12.2013 17:40
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                      A modern design to a retro lamp.

                      Review of Lava Lamp, by Motion Lamps

                      I have always wanted a Lava Lamp yet never actually managed to acquire one. I recall them back in the late 60's and 70's when they first hit the UK market and coveted one even then.

                      For Christmas (2013) my lovely daughter and family knowing of my slightly off-beam tastes bought me a Lava Lamp. Finally at the grand old age of 55 I now have my very own Lava Lamp in silver and red.

                      **The Lava Lamp**

                      The lamp is a basically a rocket shape. It stands on a round brushed steel effect base and had a tapering cylindrical glass tube filled with clear liquid and the red 'lava', this is finished off with a matching steel pointed cap on top. The lamp is supplied with a 3 pin plug and the black flex is a good length. The simple on/off rocker style switch is located about 10 inches down the cord from the base of the unit.

                      The lamp stands approximately 12 inches high and I have placed it on my TV unit to one side of the television where I can watch it at leisure. The light it gives out is a gentle ambient light, not strong enough to light the room or even to read by really, it is a visual lamp as opposed to a practical one.

                      The lamp had to be fitted together, but this took minutes and required no skills or tools to complete. It was simply a question of ensuring the bulb which sits in the base was properly aligned and could be gently screwed into position. The glass portion then slotted on top of the bulb housing and the cap screws on to this. At first the 'lava' looked rather nasty, like a huge blood clot sitting at the bottom of the liquid. The instruction manual advised that the lamp would take 3-4 hours to heat adequately and to work correctly, luckily mine was working within an hour so I could sit back and enjoy watching the globules of red lava float up and down the cylinder.

                      The lamp does become hot in use so it needs to be placed with care, especially if you have young children in the house.

                      **About Lava Lamps**

                      The principle behind lava lamps is pretty simple really; basically two liquids similar in density but insoluble within each other are mixed in the tightly sealed glass container. When the bulb underneath is switched on and begins to heat the unit, the heavier of the two liquids will absorb the heat first, this expands and becomes less dense, so that it then floats to the top. Once it reaches the top of the lamp, it begins to cool down, so becoming heavier, at which point it then sinks back to the bottom and the whole process starts again.
                      The globules of red form weird and wonderful shapes as they heat up and rise cool and sink, and I find it fascinating to watch.

                      **Conclusion**

                      Obviously as my lamp was a Christmas present I do not know where it was purchased or indeed the purchase price, what I do know is that I am delighted with my gift and love it!
                      I am giving this lava lamp a 5* rating and whilst I appreciate that it isn't everyone's taste, I am very pleased with it.

                      Thank you for reading
                      ©brittle1906 December 2013

                      N.B. My reviews may be found on other sites under the same user name.

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                        22.12.2013 08:33
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                        Good quality, well priced shampoo.

                        Review of Herbal Essences Dazzling Shine Shampoo

                        When it comes to hair care, I must admit that I am not particularly brand conscious or loyal to any one product. I like to try out different shampoos and conditioners rather than stick to one range.
                        I am always on the lookout for a bargain and tend to buy whatever is on special offer or attracts me for some reason. Recently a branch of the discount store, Home Bargains has opened in my home town and on a visit to the store, I spotted the Herbal Essences range was being sold for £1.25 each or any two items for £2, this is the sort of bargain I find hard to resist!

                        I chose the Dazzling Shine shampoo and matching conditioner. This review discusses the shampoo.

                        **Herbal Essences Dazzling Shine Shampoo**

                        The Herbal Essences range is made by the well-known Clairol Company, this shampoo is presented in a well-shaped recyclable plastic bottle. The bottle fits nicely in my hand and I find it easy to grip even with wet hands.

                        The bottle is made from a clear plastic, I like this as you can see the lime green coloured shampoo within, and also you can see how much of the product you have left, something I always find helpful! Labelling is green in colour and bears the Clairol logo and the promise of a 'shine reflecting shampoo'. All instructions for use and ingredients can be found on the reverse of the bottle.

                        The bottle contains 400ml of lime green coloured shampoo. I do find the dispensing device is a little tricky and fiddly in use. The lid includes a push down section which depresses to reveal a slot through which the shampoo is dispensed.

                        I particularly like the scent of this shampoo; it is a fresh, clean citrusy fragrance. The texture of the shampoo is nothing to write home about, it is just about the right consistency, not too thin or watery. I have long hair and I found I needed a fair amount of shampoo to work through my hair thoroughly. I know many people say that the lathering effect is cosmetic only and makes no difference to end results, but I like a decent lather from my shampoo. Living in a hard water area, I do find that I need to use more than the average consumer!

                        This shampoo rinsed very well from my hair and left no residue or stickiness. After use, I found my hair was gently fragranced too, an added bonus in my opinion. I had used the matching conditioner following the shampoo.

                        Herbal Essence Dazzling Shine is a good quality shampoo which left my hair feeling and smelling fresh and clean. My hair felt soft and quite smooth, or as smooth as my troublesome hair can ever feel, but as for shine, well, I cannot in all honesty say my hair shone particularly.

                        **My Thoughts and Conclusion**

                        I liked this shampoo and although I would happily buy it again, in all honesty, it was no more than average. It did a reasonable job of cleansing my hair, but promised 'dazzling shine' did not materialise for me.

                        I have hair that could be described as 'normal' and this is indeed a shampoo formulated for normal hair types. The manufacturer states that the shampoo contains 'a shine reflecting formula made from berry, tea and orange flower extracts'. Personally I could not detect any of these scents in the product, I would say it is overwhelmingly lemon and lime scented; luckily these are fragrances I like in a shampoo.

                        To conclude, I feel that this shampoo is worth recommending especially if you can find it at a good price as I did.

                        Thank you for reading.
                        ©brittle1906 December 2013

                        N.B. My reviews may be found on other sites under the same user name.

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                          10.12.2013 22:57
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                          Dazzling Shine? Not really!

                          Review of Herbal Essences Dazzling Shine Conditioner

                          I have no particular loyalty to any one brand of hair care products and tend to buy whatever is on special offer or attracts me for some reason. A branch of Home Bargains has recently opened in my home town and on my first visit to the store, I spotted the Herbal Essences were being sold for £1.25 each or any two items for £2, that is my sort of bargain! I chose the Dazzling Shine shampoo and matching conditioner. My review discusses the conditioner.

                          **Herbal Essences Dazzling Shine Conditioner**

                          Made by the well-known Clairol Company, this conditioner is presented in a shapely recyclable plastic bottle. The bottle fits nicely in your hand and it is easy to grip especially with wet hands.
                          The main colour of the packaging is an eye catching bright lime green and the bottle features an image of a slice of lime, bears the Clairol logo and the promise of a 'shine reflecting conditioner'. All instructions for use and ingredients can be found on the reverse of the bottle.
                          The bottle contains 400ml of creamy lemon coloured conditioner. The dispensing device is a little tricky. The lid includes a push down section which depresses to reveal a slot through which the conditioner is dispensed. The conditioner has a lovely scent, it is fresh and citrusy. The texture of the conditioner is thinner than I had anticipated but it is not watery. After working the conditioner through my long hair, I found that it rinsed very well from my hair and left no residue or stickiness. My hair was gently fragranced too which was an added bonus. I had used the matching shampoo prior to this conditioner, so I daresay I had double the scent!
                          As for the actual conditioning effect, it was no more than average to be fair. My hair felt soft and quite smooth, or as smooth as my weird wayward hair can ever feel! As for shine, well, I cannot in all honesty say my hair shone particularly.

                          **My Thoughts and Conclusion**

                          This is a very good conditioner, it did a reasonable job on my hair but the promised shine did not materialise for me. I liked this conditioner very much and would definitely buy it again, especially if I were to find it at a sensible price. I would not describe this as a luxurious conditioner but it is fine for day to day use and as such I would recommend it to others.

                          Thank you for reading.
                          ©brittle1906 December 2013

                          N.B. My reviews may be found on other sites under the same user name.

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                        • Nelsons Tea Tree Cream / Medicine / 43 Readings / 43 Ratings
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                          03.12.2013 21:14
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                          A good all round antiseptic cream

                          Review of Nelsons Tea Tree Cream
                          Tea Tree oil is a well-known remedy used for many purposes. Tea tree is a natural antiseptic and Nelsons have formulated their tea tree cream for general first aid use.

                          **The Tea Tree Cream**

                          I purchased my tube in Boots and paid around £6 for a large 50g tube. The cream is packaged in a distinctive and business looking cardboard box with all warnings, ingredients and usage guides printed both on the box and on the tube of cream.
                          Nelsons Tea Tree cream is made using Australian tea tree oil. It is a gentle, effective cream which I prefer to the more chemical based antiseptics on the market. The tube is easy to open, just needing the seal to be broken at first use; the cap has a useful point in the top specifically for this purpose. The cream is a fairly thick consistency and is creamy white in colour. The cream absorbs into the skin well and should be applied to the affected area and gently rubbed in. I have used this cream on both on myself and my partner, the most recent use was after falling over when walking the dog. I grazed my knee quite badly and by the time I limped home it was very sore and beginning to throb. After cleaning the area I applied this cream liberally and found within minutes it felt more comfortable. The cream did not sting my damaged skin and the graze healed very well with no problems.

                          Nelsons advise that this cream should not be used on people under the age of 12 years. Other warnings (taken from the packaging):-
                          Do not use if sensitive to any ingredients.
                          If pregnant or breastfeeding consult your doctor before use.
                          Do not use after the expiry date shown on the packaging.
                          Do not store above 25°C
                          For external use only.

                          ** Thoughts and Conclusion**

                          I use this primarily for simple first aid such as cuts, grazes and similar minor injuries. It is also very useful for mild skin irritations, for easing the symptoms of insect stings and bites and for sore hands, something I often suffer from in winter months, I really ought to remember to wear gloves to protect my hands from the elements!

                          This antiseptic cream is a very useful addition to the home first aid box. It soothes and the antiseptic properties make it ideal for use in many situations. Of course, being unsuitable for children it is probably better for more mature families, but that said it is a good all-rounder. I suppose £6 is quite a steep price for a tube of antiseptic cream but I trust this product to do what I expect of it, it suits me and I consider it well worth the money.
                          It is widely available from High Street chemists, supermarkets and pharmacies.

                          Thank you for reading
                          ©brittle1906 December 2013
                          N.B. My reviews may be found on other sites under the same user name.

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                          • Sainsbury's Basics Handwash / Soaps / 37 Readings / 36 Ratings
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                            30.11.2013 22:59
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                            Cheap and cheerful hygiene for hands.

                            Review of Sainsbury's Basics Hand Wash

                            **The Product**

                            As the name implies, this is a basic, no frills product. Along with most of the main UK supermarkets, Sainsbury's have their own budget end range of goods. It seems almost everything from bedding to laundry products and groceries to alcohol can now be found bearing a 'Basics' logo. I have tried many of these goods and on the whole been pleasantly surprised at the good quality.

                            I purchased this hand wash as we were running low on liquid soap. I do like to keep a bottle by the kitchen sink and in the bathroom. As I am not brand conscious in any which way, I thought on this occasion, I may as well invest my hard earned cash on this one.

                            Presented in a very basic white plastic container with a pump action top, this product would certainly not win any prizes for aesthetic design! The gaudy orange strip bearing the Sainsbury's logo does nothing for me, it what it looks, functional. I feel it is fine for kitchen use, but I am not sure I'd use it in the bathroom. All ingredients, product information and usage directions can be found on the reverse of the bottle.

                            The actual soap is what I am most interested in of course, and I felt it was just about acceptable. The soap is a thin, watery liquid; it is a pearly white in colour and has very little discernible scent. The soap does not lather particularly well, but in all fairness I do live in a very hard water area, which can have a dire effect on the lathering qualities of many products.

                            This liquid soap cleanses your hands adequately, it has no moisturising benefits mentioned on the bottle and although it did not dry the skin on my hands particularly, I would not say that they felt anything other than cleansed after using this. I suppose for such a cheap product, one cannot expect miracles!

                            **My Thoughts and Conclusion**

                            This liquid hand wash is sold in a generous 500ml bottle and at just 38p, it won't break the bank. I tend to buy a better quality hand wash for bathroom and kitchen use, usually one with anti-bacterial properties, something this basics version does not have. I finished the hand wash recently and I was pleased to find that the empty container was recyclable.

                            For the small expenditure I would have to say that this Sainsbury's Basics Hand wash does represent good value for money. It is definitely a cheap and cheerful hand wash, it does the job it is intended for, but no more.

                            I doubt I would bother buying this again.
                            This hand wash gets a 3* rating from me.

                            Thank you for reading
                            ©brittle1906

                            N.B. Please note my reviews may be found on other sites under the same user name.

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                          • Avon Bronzing Pearls / Sun Care / 62 Readings / 61 Ratings
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                            12.11.2013 21:53
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                            A versatile product.

                            Review of Avon Bronzing Pearls

                            **The Product**

                            Available from Avon representatives or the Avon website, these bronzing pearls retail at around £10 for a 22g pot.

                            The bronzing pearls are presented in a sturdy brown plastic pot, with a twist-off lid. The pearls are protected by a circular sponge and a plastic cover. The pearls themselves are a mixture of pink, brown and tan coloured pea sized pearls of compressed bronzing powder. Avon say that the pearls contain light-reflective pigments that help create a warm, healthy-looking glow.
                            The pearls also have a lovely sweet scent.

                            **How to Use**

                            The pearls are designed to be applied with a brush to skin to give a healthy bronzed effect. I have found the pearls are easily broken if you are too heavy handed, but they do give a very good coverage. The depth of colour can be built up, but I would advise caution if users are fair skinned as it is very easy to overdo it! I have a fairly dark complexion, particularly during the summer months and I find these bronzing pearls give me a natural finish. They can be used over foundation and other make up; or on bare skin equally well.

                            A quick swirl with a large make up brush over the temples, cheeks and bridge of the nose warms the skin tone, giving a natural, golden tone. A light dusting on the shoulders and decolletage gives a sun-kissed glow for evening use.

                            **Availability and Price**

                            Available only from Avon. Products can be ordered from Avon representatives or direct from the Avon website.
                            There is only the one size available and the price is currently £6 as they are on special offer, the usual cost is £10. I have found that Avon often have special offers so it is worth watching for these.

                            **My Thoughts and Conclusion**

                            I really love this product!

                            Avon Bronzing Pearls are very versatile, they can be used as a bronzer, as a blusher or even an eye-shadow. I have been using them for many years and although I have to admit that the pot doesn't look particularly attractive, it is a must have cosmetic in my opinion.

                            Avon Bronzing Pearls are not too glittery or metallic as some bronzers I have tried have been. The glow is long lasting, it does not flake or fade easily and I have worn this all day with no need to touch up. These bronzing pearls do not dry out my skin and. Removal is simple, the bronzer whisks away with my facial wipes or cleanser.

                            The pearls themselves are very long lasting, I have had my current pot for over a year and there are still lots left. Unlike some brands, I cannot see an advisory 'use by' time on the pot, however in fairness to Avon, as my pot is quite old and worn I cannot categorically say that the information is not given.
                            As mentioned, my complexion is quite dark, even without a suntan, I find the bronzing pearls give me a little lift. They are easy to use, easy to blend and are an all round good product.

                            I am awarding Avon Bronzing Pearls a 5* rating and highly recommend to others.
                            Thank you for reading.

                            ©brittle1906 November 2013

                            N.B. My reviews may be found on other sites under the same user name.

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                              12.11.2013 15:10
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                              The Famous Five series are classic children's novels.

                              Review of The Famous Five- Five Get Into A Fix, a children's novel by Enid Blyton

                              I am reviewing a paperback version of the novel, ISBN 0340104309, published by Knight Books. This novel was first published in 1957; my copy is a reprint from 1988.
                              Novels in this series can be sourced from various on line retailers for as little as 0.01p for a used copy (amazon).

                              **The Plot**

                              Five Get into a Fix is book number 17 in the series of 21 novels. As with all books in the series, this an adventure story featuring the 'Famous Five'. The 'Five' are two boys, Julian and Dick, their sister Anne and their cousin, tom-boy, Georgina, who will only answer to the name 'George' and George's large mongrel dog, Timmy.

                              The story begins shortly after Christmas, all the children have been ill with heavy colds. Christmas Day had been dismal with everyone coughing and feeling unwell. Julian, Dick and Anne's mother feels that the children ought to have a change of scenery and their Doctor agrees, he suggests clean mountain or sea air would do the youngsters the world of good. Switzerland is out of the question and it seems that the children are not welcome at George's home on the coast as their coughing would disturb her father who is an eminent scientist who works from home. A suggestion of a holiday location comes from an unexpected source, the gardener, Jenkins. Jenkins suggests the children travel to Wales and stay with his aunt Glenys on her mountain farm.

                              Arrangements are made; the children and Timmy are packed off in a hired car with their toboggans, skis and other paraphernalia to enjoy a winter holiday in Magga Glen.

                              The journey is not without drama, when close to their destination; the driver takes a wrong turning and ends up having to drive up a steep hill. As they climb the narrow winding road, the car struggles and the driver becomes concerned. He realises he has gone wrong and turns the car round, as he drives back down the hill he comments that it feels as though he has the brakes engaged, although he most definitely does not. As soon as the car is off the hill, it drives perfectly normally again. They finally reach their destination and are warmly welcomed by Jenkins' aunt, Mrs Jones and her son Morgan. Morgan is a giant of a man, very quiet and reserved, but when he calls his dogs, he has a booming voice which can be heard halfway across the mountains.

                              The children quickly settle in and are happy enough at the farm. Mrs Jones leaves the children to their own devices; she cooks them delicious and enormous meals and lets them do as they please. All is well until Timmy has a scrap with Morgan Jones' sheep dogs. George declares she doesn't want to stay on the farm as she feels Timmy is at risk.

                              Just as things seem insurmountable, Julian and Dick come across a mountain cabin which the Jones' own and hire out to holiday makers in the summer. Mrs Jones is not happy but the children insist on going to stay in the cabin and have a whale of a time skiing, tobogganing and generally having fun.
                              That is until an adventure raises its head and the Famous Five along with a strange little girl call Aily, are plunged into a dangerous and deadly situation.


                              **My Thoughts**

                              The Famous Five series of children's novels were written in the 1940s and 50's and they have been popular with generations of youngsters. These books are aimed at a reading audience of 8-12 years of age. I recently obtained an almost complete set of Famous Five novels from a charity book sale. I loved Enid Blyton's novels as a child and read them again with my own child in the 1980's. I could not resist buying them and intend to give them to my 6 year old granddaughter, but I must admit that I am enjoying a trip down memory lane and have been re-reading the Famous Five books myself.

                              'Five Get into a Fix' is number 17 in the series. The story is fast paced and it kept my interest throughout. I do think this particular novel may be just a little too involved for the average 8 year old. Of course age ranges are given as a guideline only, much depends on the individual child's reading ability.

                              It has to be said that these books are definitely old fashioned, the language used is dated and the children speak very 'correctly'. The stories showcase childhood as it may have been for privileged families over half a century ago. I did find it odd that four children, who had been unwell, were encouraged to clear off to Wales in January, for an unsupervised holiday. Parental involvement appears to end at the point of enrolment at boarding school and the children's presence seems to be a bit of a nuisance during school holidays!
                              The children and their parents come over as rather superior and stuck up, but apart from this I have enjoyed reading the novel again and would recommend it to others.
                              I do hope my granddaughter enjoys the novels too, when I pass them on!

                              Incidentally, when people speak of the Famous Five they always seem to quote 'lashings of ginger beer'. I have read around 10 of the books in the past week or so and have not come across that phrase yet!

                              Thanks you for reading.
                              ©brittle1906 November 2013

                              N.B. My reviews may be found on other sites under the same user name.

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