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A regular viewer of Lovefilm movies, I am always on the lookout for films to watch either through the star rating on the site or by watching adverts of discs we get sent to us. I hadn''t previously heard of Prisoners, which was surprising given the cast and my love of film, and first saw an advert for it on another film I was watching. Despite getting the general gist that the film was about child abduction, it still looked really good so it was quickly added to the list. I wasn''t disappointed and have been recommending it to all of my friends. Here is the review:
Kelly Dover (Hugh Jackman) and Franklin Birch (Terrence Howard) are facing a very real nightmare as they discover that there young daughters have gone missing while playing out together on Thanksgiving, while the adults enjoy a meal. There are no leads except a family member remembers seeing an old and beaten up motor home near where the girls were last seen playing in their quiet neighbourhood. Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhall) is in charge of the investigation into the disappearance of the girls and quickly discovers that pressure is mounting and he must follow his own gut instinct to discover what has happened to the girls.
Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale were set to take lead roles, but the two actors opted to make The Fighter instead, which I think were good choices all round. Leonardo Dicaprio was also said to have been linked to the film for a significant amount of time before pulling out. It was nice to see Jackman away from his Wolverine tag, and in general the casting on this film was exceptional. Gyllenhall in particular played a fantastic role as lead detective. With his face twitches and obvious demons of his own, the determination in him to find the children was absolutely believable. Terrence Howard (who is also in one of my favourite ever films, Crash!) plays an understated character who is being torn between his head and his heart as the father of the second abducted girl.
I think this film is deeply routed in questioning the human psyche and showing the transition of characters and how a normal everyday person can have their world turned upside down, and the resulting emotions and ways in which people react. There are some deeply disturbing individuals within this film, which is probably to be expected of a film centred around child abduction, however please do not let this put you off as this is more centred around personalities. A true thought provoking movie.
The cinematography is understated but exceptional both at the same time. The opening scenes played out on Thanksgiving are filled with subdued colour with autumnal leaves, but after the abduction takes place the mood is reflected through drizzle and moody colours reflecting the feel of the movie. It''s no wonder Prisoners was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography.
At 153 minutes long it isn''t the shortest of films out there, but every minute is needed in my opinion, there certainly didn''t seem to be any ?filling'' going on. A suspense in every sense, even down to the closing scene (which is if I''m honest a little frustrating!).
There are a few goofs, however given the exceptional acting and gripping storyline, these can easily be dismissed.
Prisoners grossed $61,002,302 in North America and $61,124,385 in foreign countries, for a worldwide gross of $122,126,687, against an estimated $46 million budget, that''s pretty good going.
IMDB Score of 8.1/ 10 from 206,000 raters.
A must see.
After spotting that a friend seemed to have noticeably whiter teeth, I was intrigued as to how they had achieved it. I had previously had my teeth whitened a few years ago at a Beauticians, and while the results were fantastic, the hour long treatment was hell on earth and something I vowed never to go through again. My friend mentioned to me that she had used the Crest 3D whitening strips so I quickly bought them online eager to achieve the same results. I have now completed the 12 day at home treatment and have to admit that I am really happy with the results.
These particularly whitening strips are enamel safe so won't strip your teeth of all the good stuff. Because they aren't using any really harsh chemicals like some of them do, I would say they would be perfect for people relatively new to teeth whitening. My teeth aren't particularly yellow or stained, as I'm not a coffee drinker or a smoker, but they could do with just being a few shades whiter in my opinion. Because I don't have a perfect smile in terms of them being straight, I would like to make up for my reluctance to smile (!) with an added whiteness to them.
Using the strips:
Using the strips is actually fairly straight forward, and you only need to use them in your routine for 12 days after which you should notice a difference. You need to wear each strip for 30 minutes per day and is straight forward to apply. Simply remove from the foil pouch and peel away the backing strip. Apply the gel side of the strip to the teeth and align with the gumline, folding the remainder of the strip behind the teeth to ensure each whole tooth has a full covering. Leave for 30 minutes and then remove and discard. You may notice a small amount of residual gel on the teeth, simply brush or rinse away. As the strips are flexible, they shape around your teeth to ensure the whole surface is whitened in one go.
Don't be disheartened if you don't see any results straight away, it will take at least 6 or 7 days before you notice any difference whatsoever, although this does obviously vary from person to person. My friend said she noticed a difference after 5 days but it took me 7 before I could see any difference at all. My teeth look naturally whiter, a result I'm really pleased with. I don't have normal looking teeth one day and then teeth so white the next that you need sunglasses to look at me. I think a lot of people using these kinds of strips expect exceptional results which at the same time may look quite unnatural, so it is best to make sure you are using the right product for your requirements. For example, Crest Whitestrips also do an Advanced product called Advanced Vivid which provides a dramatically whiter effect, while the Whitestrips Gentle routine takes up just 5 minutes per day and is better suited to users with sensitive teeth.
Are they safe:
I chose this particular brand partly because it had been recommended, but also because it is manufactured by Crest, which is a household name in dental hygiene. There are so many products on the market from brands I have never heard of, and it is difficult to know which are reputable. While I have been using this product I haven't ever had any pain or discomfort either during or after use, and although I would only use them every now and then, I know of a few people who use these all the time with no problems at all.
Price & Availability:
They are actually quite difficult to find, mainly as they seem to be an American brand. You can pick them up on UK sites for around £30+, or take a look on Ebay at American sellers. They are on the pricey side, as there are similar products on the market for much cheaper prices, however I'm not sure if they would provide the same results. I absolutely recommend, my teeth look whiter which in turn makes them look healthier.
Last January, I jumped on the usual 'health overhall' after an over indulgent Christmas and nought myself a juicer. Worried it may be a fad, I didn't want to spend a fortune only for it to live in the depths of a kitchen cupboard never to be seen again. After a short search on the internet I opted for the Cookworks whole fruit juicer primarily because at the time it was heavily discounted from its £50 RRP to a more sensible £30. I say this because although it is an acceptable juicer, I feel £50 was a slightly optimistic price for this particular model.
Overall it is a decent model for its price. It juices well, although after using my mums much snazzier Phillips juicer, I've come to realise that it doesn't extract quite as much juice as others on the market. I have over time realised that rather than wasting the pulp, I can add to yoghurt and blend to make really lovely yoghurts or even healthy ice lollys for the children in the summer months. If you can learn to use the waste then I find this disadvantage isn't really that much of an issue. The separate waste container means that dependent on the fruit you are using, you can easily use the excess pulp.
I expected the juicer to be really noisy, but for the job that it's doing its actually relatively quiet. The one snag for me is that despite having a large kitchen, I don't seem to have anywhere to put it due to its bulky size so it's out on the counter all the time, although this does remind me to use it more!
Cleaning the juicer for me is fairly easy as I put the shredding mesh in the dishwasher after use, however I would imagine for those that don't have a dishwasher, this particular part of the machine would be quite tiresome to clean by hand. It is really easy to disassemble and then put back together again after it has been cleaned. Do be careful with the blade though, it is really sharp for the price of the product!
When I bought the juicer from Argos, I remember reading a short comment on its website that somebody had had problems with leakages from the top; however I haven't had any issues with this at all, and would probably come to the conclusion that they hadn't assembled it properly! If you read these same comments (if it's still there!) don't let it put you off.
The powerful 600w motor means it can cope with anything you through in it, literally! It will hold 1000ml of fresh juice, which is more than enough for two people for the day. It has two speed settings, which means you can get used to what fruits can be juiced on what settings (it took me a while, despite sounding relatively straight forward!). Has non slip feet so it will stay put on the counter even when on its fastest speed setting and the safety lock, means there are no worries of accidents.
For what I thought may turn out to be a fad, I have used this machine so often over the last year that I am thinking in investing in an upgrade in the near future! This has really done its job well, and I would suggest that it is an ideal machine for those starting out with juicing. You can learn what you want from the product and like me always chose to upgrade in the future. I will be passing this on to a friend who is also new to juicing. Hopefully she'll get into it as much as me!
When we moved into our new home on 20th December, our builders had kindly gifted us free integrated appliances as an apology for a small mix up on their part. We were absolutely delighted of course, and for the first time in my life I have a washer... in a cupboard ; )
The integrated washer that they had opted for was the 7kg Zanussi ZWI71201WA, which at around £430 they hadn't scrimped on costs. This particular model is absolutely loaded with features and so far for us has been a dream machine.
The key features of the Zanussi are as follows:
7kg Drum: The large drum means you can fit a surprisingly large amount into one load, which as a family of four is essential. Our previous washing machine was a 7kg load so I don't know how I would have managed if it had been any smaller! A 7kg load is probably around average of what's on the market, with some manufacturers producing washing machines with 10kg and even 12kg loads. This is humongous and probably only required for households with extremely large families and the need to wash duvets at home.
1200 rpm spin: This is actually quite important for a washing machine and it's important to know the differences between the spin speeds. Most washers on the market will have a spin of between 1000rpm and 1600rpm, meaning mine is around average. The 'rpm' stands for rotates per minute, and basically the faster the machine rotates, the more water will be taken from your clothes, resulting in a reduction in the drying time of your clothes. If your clothes are coming out of the washing machine sodden, then you are probably using the wrong function and / or your washer has a limited spin. Do bear in mind though that you only need to use a fast rpm for cottons and wools, at around 1400 rpm and 1200 rpm respectively. I don't know of any garments that require a 1600rpm so wouldn't recommend paying for a 1600rpm, you just won't use it.
A++ Rated: A brilliant product for energy efficiency, this model will use 20% less energy than one that has an A rating. Use this to its full advantage by using the set & go function and setting the machine to run during the night, taking advantage of reduced price electricity.
30 minute wash: This is handy for a last minute panic on a Sunday night when you realise the children don't have any uniform for Monday morning (been there a few times!), or when you want to freshen up garments that have only been worn once.
Easy Iron Programme: The option to reduce the number of creases in your laundry, however I don't mind ironing so this isn't something I regularly use to be honest. I have one or two garments that crease really badly so I use them only for these items.
Set & Go function: A particular favourite of mine, I often will load the washer before I go to work on a morning, but I don't like to think of my damp laundry sat in a drum and starting to smell so I pre programme the wash for 2 hours before I am due home, that way I know it is ready to come out when I get home. I occasionally do this at bedtime too and set it for around 4.30 knowing it will be ready to go in the tumble dryer at 6 when I get up. It isn't a noisy machine so doesn't wake us. The delay can be set for 1 to 24 hours time.
LCD Display: This is handy to see the timer of how long you have left of a particular function and I solely use it for this really. It is also useful when you are selecting a function as it displays how long it will take.
Prewash option: I've only had to use this once when my youngest decided to go for a swim in a pool of mud, it loosened the dirt and removed the majority of it before its main wash.
Aqua Control: Monitors the water level to detect any leaks. Hopefully I won't ever need this function, but it is a useful fail safe, although I'm not sure what it would do if it did detect a leak?! Call a plumber, fix it itself? Who knows?!
1 Year Manufacturer Warranty. Some manufacturers offer a two year warranty with large appliances, so this is something to consider.
Child Safety Lock. Always useful!
Large Porthole. For that awful moment when you realise you've set the white wash going and you can see a navy blue sock inside!
All in all a fantastic integrated washing machine that has a multitude of functions (some of which I haven't mentioned here as they are the usual handwash / wool / mini load). A little pricey however I think most integrated washing machines start around the £275 mark so I think this model is probably middle of the road with all the functions of a much more expensive one.
On the 20th December we moved in to our brand spanking new build home. We were aware of the issues around the dampness in the air due to the plaster drying before we moved in so was unsurprised when we started with mould spots on the skirting boards in the living room, and pools of water on the window sills in various rooms. I don't think this would have been as bad as it has been, except we are a 3 storey semi-detached and next door is still on first fix inside so doesn't have plaster, heating etc. Our warm air combined with the drying of the plaster and the extreme cold from next door has caused the excess water in the air. The builders have been absolutely fantastic and when we advised them of the issue they were straight round with a number of dehumidifiers to try and combat the problem for us. For the smaller rooms they gave us three Delonghi Dem10s which have done their job fantastically!
Although the Dem10 which we have been using every day for a few weeks now wasn't new when it came in to our possession, we haven't really needed a user manual which would come in the box when new. The dehumidifier is really easy to operate and its functions are self-explanatory. In other words, you don't have to be a genius to operate it! One thing that I have found out in writing this review though, is that guidance on the Delonghi website says that the unit must be left to stand for a full 24 hours after it is moved each and every time. This would obviously have been stated in the manual (which we haven't ever seen). This seems a little daft to me given that one of its main advantages is its portable functionality, however I can only assume this is something to do with a presence of gases inside the unit, so I will from now on adhere to the non-use rule for 24 hours after moving the unit!
Our builders seem to have an endless supply of these units, most likely to dry out plaster quickly when they are on tight deadlines (a flash back of me behaving like a complete hag insisting the house be ready by Christmas comes to mind!!), and at first I wondered why they had solely invested in one particular unit for the smaller rooms, but after a few days use I realised that it is most likely because of how efficient it is despite being so compact and portable. The compact dimensions means it measures at around 40cm tall, and the easy carry handle make it portable for moving from room to room. Looks wise, it's pretty simple looking, but it is robust and seems well made. Being part of a construction site I'm sure they have had more than a few bumps and scrapes but it still seems sturdy and durable.
The unit can be left on constantly so the lack of a timer isn't an issue; we have had ours on quite a lot, although we don't leave it on permanently. The 2 litre tank has a visible water level so you can see just how much moisture is being drawn from the air, but also when it needs to be emptied. Rather than tipping it down the drain, I empty the water onto plants when it isn't sub-zero conditions. There is the option to have a continuous drainage with a hose that comes supplied with the unit, but this isn't something we need as I can easily empty the reservoir. Emptying it even without the continuous drainage is really straight forward and the reservoir simply lifts out of the unit. The unit is surprisingly quiet, except for a low minimal hum which is to be expected given its job.
The adjustable humidistat allows you to decide what humidity you would like in your house, at the moment we're aiming for bone dry (!), however a mid-level would be sufficient for normal usage. The electronic antifreeze option means it can be used in really low temperatures down to 2 degrees.
Extraction wise, I have been really impressed with these little units, we have 3 on the go at the moment, one for each floor, which was advised by our builders. This did seem a little overkill to us, however no doubt the thought of us making a claim against them for damage to any of carpets or furniture has spurred them on to get rid of as much moisture in the shortest amount of time possible! The unit (after a little research!) claims to be able to withdraw 10 litres (18 pints) of moisture in one 24 hour period. This does seem rather a lot, and had I known this in the beginning when I started using it, I would have perhaps been cautious to leave the unit unattended for fear of the 2 litres tank quickly overflowing. We haven't noticed this kind of level of extraction though (although this may be due to 3 on the go at once!) and would say each unit draws around 4 litres a day (which is still a combined 12 litres for the house, pretty impressive!). At first I was alarmed that there was so much moisture in the air in the first place, however given the fresh plaster and then the lack of heat from next door the moisture is probably to be expected.
I'm unsure at actually how much this unit would cost to run in electricity terms, however to us the savings it is giving us in our home is much greater, as literally everything is new, carpets, furniture, curtains etc, and I cannot run the risk of them being damaged by mould spores.
The air filter in the unit should be cleaned around once every week / to ten days if you are using the unit a lot. This is really straight forward.
For around £130 you can pick up this dehumidifier online. I will be sad to see this little unit go when the builders decide the problem is resolved and I will most likely end up purchasing one if I should need one again in the future.
When we recently moved house we ordered a Smeg fridge freezer but had a delay of a few weeks waiting for our colour to come in stock. We needed a fridge (obviously) but didn't want to end up buying too so we decided that a compromise would be too buy a drinks fridge that we could keep in the garage for wine storage. We didn't want to end up spending too much so after a little research we decided upon the Ice Appliance Big Chill drinks fridge as it seemed a really good quality one, it was cold enough that for a few short weeks we could store food in it, and I had some Amazon vouchers and it was the best price on there!
Looks wise I particularly liked this model as some of the small counter top drinks fridges that I had seen were cheap but looked it too. It looks like it has been well made and to the touch it doesn't feel plasticky. The stainless steel and glass materials mean it looks modern, and will fit in with any kitchen.
The size comes in at 44 x 48 x 50 meaning it can fit easily into any kitchen even a small one. Once we took delivery of our 'proper' fridge, this made its way into our garage on the counter top and it takes up next to no space at all.
The 50L storage is more than adequate for home usage, coming in at around half the size of my chest freezer so it's perfect for storing wine, champagne and a few bottles of beer. Spec wise, the manual says it will store 16 bottles of wine or 32 cans / bottles of beer although we have a mix of the two.
The fridge keeps drinks to the perfect temperature in my opinion, and for the short time we used it for food storage it was more than adequate. We haven't had any issues with freezing. I haven't noticed any noticeable noise coming from the fridge which I half expected due to the small size of it.
We paid £105 on Amazon but it has gone back up in price now so do shop around.
2 years manufacturer warranty.
After buying the Delonghi Brillante toaster and kettle I was going to leave it at that, but when I spotted that a coffee maker was also available in the range, I decided to buy that too to match my lovely new kitchen.
I had previously been really impressed with my delonghi kitchen appliances especially our old coffee machine so was happy to buy it without reading any reviews on it (I couldn't actually find any as it is a fairly new product).
The looks of this machine are predominantly what made me buy it with the faceted finish and chrome features it really does look stylish and completely different to any other coffee machine on the market. Available in either black or white, we opted for the gloss white finish which will complement any colour scheme.
The 1.3L glass carafe is a really generous amount and perfect for household consumption. It doesn't need to be any bigger. This will provide around 10 cups of coffee and I think if you need more than this you need help! It is still large enough that you can provide coffee for friends and family. The carafe will keep the coffee hot enough that you can keep topping up your cup.
When I have used these types of coffee machines in the past I have found them rather messy as they seem to produce lots of drips and spills but this machine doesn't suffer with that fault and when I have looked into this, it actually has a non drip device to prevent this annoying issue.
The non slip feet makes it easily sit on the work top and won't move around as you are preparing your coffee.
The disposable filters are readily available.
Comes with a manufacturers one year guarantee.
Costs around £40 and is available from many outlets.
We have recently bought our dream home and as it is a new build we have been buying a lot of new things to fill it with so everything is perfect. After realising I could sell my old kettle on good old ebay for the same price as a new one I had seen I wasted no time in doing just that and purchasing the toaster from the Brillante range at Delonghi.
I have always been a fan of the Delonghi brand for small kitchen appliances and was basically just swapping my old pastel blue one to the white diamond effect on the Brillante range which will go perfectly in my new white kitchen. The design of this range is what appealed to me as it looks so unusual with its diamond effect. The range comes in either black or white.
The electronic controls allow that you can ensure your toast is done to perfection. I sometimes enjoy eating toast done so lightly it is like warm bread when I am eating soup, but if I am eating toast on its own I prefer it much more well done. This toaster gives the option for either and is simply adapted to suit your needs by the quick turn of a dial.
The 'extra lift' position makes getting toast out much easier as the spring lever allows for an extra 'lift' up when it needs removing, but it is in its lower position once it has popped to keep the heat in. The defrost, reheat and cancel function are also really good to use and I use them all.
There are 2 removable crumb trays underneath the toaster which ensures a stress free and easy removal of excess crumbs. I do this periodically rather than after every use.
The 2.3 kg weight means this toaster is more an 'on the counter' toaster rather than one you would get in and out of the cupboard for each use. Rather than our previous Icona toaster from the Delonghi range which was basically the same toaster made from a metal casing, this toaster (due to its diamond detailing) is made from plastic. The plastic feels sturdy and tough and has withstanded a few knocks already during its short life without any damage or cracking to the casing. The non-slip feet make it easier to use as it doesn't move around when you insert or remove the bread.
Dimensions (W x D x H cm): 29 x 31 x 20
1.8kW rapid toasting.
Within the Brillante range there is also a kettle and coffee machine. Available in black or white.
Has an RRP of £61.99 but I paid £44. After a quick search I have found it for sale on John Lewis website for £39.
Last Night I watched After Earth, a film I have been looking forward to seeing for quite some time, starring Will Smith and his son, Jaden. I have to say that while it was a good watch, I was still disappointed, and I felt the film never realised its full potential. This was in my opinion one of Will Smiths weaker films.
Set one thousand years after humans were forced to leave Earth, the film focuses on General Cypher Raige and his son Kitai when they take a mission through Space (to be honest, the opening few scenes were a little sketchy and I'm not entirely sure what the mission was!). The spacecraft inevitably lands on Planet Earth, which is now unfamiliar and dangerous to humans. Kitai and Cypher must find the beacon that will allow them to send a signal to the rescue team to ensure their survival and return home to Nova Prime, the new home for human kind.
The plot itself is fairly average, worth a watch, but getting to the part where they actually find themselves on Planet Earth seemed like it had been an afterthought, like the writer (M. Night Shyamalan - also the Director) thought of a great film where a father and son fight for survival on Planet Earth long after human life existed there, but then afterwards thought 'hang on, but how do they find themselves son Planet Earth in the first place!!'.
My major gripe with this film, was that it just didn't go where it should have done, to me a film set on Planet Earth should have been set in an urban setting rather than in the middle of a jungle. I (and I suspect a few others too) like to see and imagine what the world may look like when humans have been wiped out. I know that not much would be left, but surely we can just play along and whack a few extremely dilapidated skyscrapers in or at least some massive piles of bricks! But no, this film was entirely set in a jungle; it may as well have been set in the present day!
Some of the editing was absolutely shocking and seemed more fitting to a low budget movie than a film that Will Smith would put his name to, one scene towards the end of the film which had been hit with the slow motion trick for effect and emotion just didn't work. A few fairly obvious goofs too such as the shadow of the camera gear, which is just lazy!
A lot of the dialogue was very cliché and despite Will Smith being such a likeable actor, his character was the opposite, while the character was still 'a good guy', he lacked any emotion and I just couldn't warm to him. The dialogue was bitty and as I said clichéd... Also, as actors Jaden and Will seemed removed from the characters and Jaden in particular wasn't believable as the lead character. Jaden has the potential to be a great actor in the future but this part was just too big for him at this moment in time. The character should have been portrayed as older than he was, and the casting perhaps a little better thought out.
We did watch the movie with our 8 year old daughter, despite it being a 12, I checked the rating at the back and despite 'moments of peril', there was nothing that I felt she couldn't watch. I'm glad we watched the film with her, as it was definitely more of a family movie than anything else. I would have felt disappointed watching this with the intentions of it being for me and my husband only.
There will be a lot of people that thoroughly enjoy this film, and I in part did enjoy it, but it could have been so much more than it was. Perhaps changing the rating to a 15, and making it a little darker would have been a step in the right direction.
With an estimated $130 million budget, the gross of $60 million two months after its release will no doubt have been disappointing to Columbia Pictures.
My little girls adore Sylvanian Families and using some birthday money in the summer they clubbed together and decided to buy the Caravan and Family Car set. They have the Regency Hotel from the Sylvanian range and enjoy imaginative play that the characters in Sylvanian World are going on their holidays to the hotel using the family car, however children can play with this set no matter which 'buildings' they have in the range.
Combining the Caravan and the Car is the perfect holiday for little Sylvanians and includes over 30 little accessories so makes imaginative play so much fun. I like to play with the girls when they are playing with these sets! I didn't have Sylvanian as I child so I'm making up for it now I'm 30! The Caravan opens up at the roof and the side to reveal a really well equipped kitchen. I was at first a little apprehensive that little hands could open this open by themselves, one because I thought they may trap fingers and two that they may break it! Neither is very likely, it would be quite a feat to trap fingers in here and also it is so well made that it would be almost impossible to break it too. It has been known to come out of the hinges but it hasn't snapped, and simply clips back into the main body of the toy.
Inside the caravan, the quality is just as you would expect from Sylvanian, there is attention to detail everywhere and really puts some of the toy manufacturers to shame. There is a sink and cooking area, cupboards and even a fold out ironing board! The seating area converts into a double bed and there are 2 bunk beds, a shower room complete with toilet and hand basin. The Sylvanian Caravan really does have everything needed for staying away from home.
The Caravan is designed to be towed by the green family car and has 4 seats and 2 baby seats within it. A lovely little touch is a picnic basket which can be clipped to the rear of the car. We already had a dining set from one of the other furniture sets we had, so the girls use the tiny little knives and forks, glasses, plates and slices of cake to simulate a posh picnic!
This set has been played with countless times and is still as good as new. Even the stickers haven't become tatty around the edges which I expected they might over time. The stickers do need to be stuck on when you first take the toy out of its box, which is quite fiddly, so I would recommend doing this away from little eyes as they may want to become involved, and once they are stuck on they aren't coming off so precision is required at this point!
The RRP for this double item is a rather hefty £70, however a quick search on Amazon shows it can be picked up for £36.67. Shopping around is essential.
My two daughters have over the last year or so developed a love for Sylvanian Families and last Christmas we bought them the Regency Hotel which is the Crème de la Crème of 'buildings' in the Sylvanian world! To say they were delighted on the big day is an understatement and it is one of the toys that they continue to want to play with rather than getting bored of it quickly.
The hotel itself comes with 25 accessories which included the reception desk and luggage trolley a light up chandelier and lovely topiary plants to sit outside of the grand entrance. As any parent will know if they have a child with a love of Sylvanian Families, it is the delicate and small items that make these collections and the detailing really is exceptional. The chandelier that hangs from the ceiling of the entrance has a small watch battery inside and simply removes easily from the ceiling, switches on and then can be fixed back in to the ceiling where it sits elegantly lit up and brings imaginative play to the next level for young children.
The building itself is pretty special, and opens up from the back making it easy to play with all the spaces in the Hotel. It is quite a substantial size too measuring just under 50 x 50cm and around 65cm tall. My two girls can sit side by side and happily play together without a shortage of space or any falling out (a rarity nowadays!).
The 3 storeys and 9 rooms mean there is endless fun to be had as they can play out all kinds of different scenarios with the little Sylvanian's. You can have bedrooms and sitting rooms, dining rooms and a Kitchen. We had a luggage room at one point! The only negative to the large number of rooms is filling them! The Sylvanian accessories are not cheap, they aren't overpriced though and are worth every penny as the intricacy and detailing are worthy of the prices, however it does become an expensive task trying to fill each of the rooms, and we had to ask aunties and uncles to buy Sylvanian accessories as Christmas presents between £15 - £25 so do bare this in mind if you are considering purchasing this Hotel for a child.
The stained glass window, balcony and roof terrace all make the Hotel look really majestic and my children actually named the Hotel 'The Majestic' (with a little nudge from mummy!). Nice details include the pigeon hole and the removable window boxes.
The hotel comes with two figures only (which is pretty standard with the Sylvanian sets), and includes a chef and a waitress. We already had a few little figures including a bridge and groom so this meant they could happily play with it straight away. The often play that the bride and groom are getting married at the hotel and they can play for hours with this one scenario!
The hotel is suitable for children aged 4+ however I would say 4 is a little too young for the Sylvanian collection. Even waiting a year or two will make all the difference, as some items such as the knives and forks can be literally millimetres tall and so do require that children look after the set. It is a really sturdy set, which we have found as standard with the Sylvanian items, and you won't need to worry about anything snapping off or breaking.
The RRP of £109.99 may be off-putting to some however after a very quick search online I have found it for the bargain price of £73.29 on Argos while it is £89.99 on Amazon, proving that researching for the best price online really is worth its weight.
The basic plot of this film is a simple one, however it starts a little crazy and flits from pillar to post at the beginning wondering what on earth you are watching. Colin Farrell (Marty) plays a struggling screenwriter who's all out of ideas for his latest movie. He does however have the title 'Seven Psychopaths', but has literally nothing else to back it up, he doesn't even know who the characters within it will be. With a little help from Sam Rockwell (Billy) and Christopher Walken (Hans), they set about giving him ideas to make his movie a success, albeit in less than normal ways.
The film has two flip sides which it switches between regularly. On one side it's an out and out comedy which doesn't take itself seriously, at all. On the other side, it's a slightly darker crime thriller with some deeply disturbed characters within it. The blend between the two is what makes the film, and after the first half it stays more in comedy mode than thriller mode, and even winds up goofy at some points. I don't usually like films like this and prefer a more 'serious' film, but this was just good plain fun with an excellent cast to carry it through to its crazy end.
Pulling apart the plot a little more, the contrast between Marty who although he has a few alcohol related issues is generally a pretty good 'normal' guy, but is friends with Billy who is completely crazy! Billy runs a dog kidnapping business with his friend Hans and before they know it are being chased around the city by Gangster Charlie (Woody Harrelson) and Marty finds that he too has become involved.
Between Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken, Colin Farrell and Sam Rockwell, this cast is excellent, and they all manage to play characters that are completely mental in their own ways! Each has their own story to tell, some of which can be quite moving, some of which are quite shocking. The female characters within the film while not really involved in the film apart from being bit parts just weren't cast right in my opinion, but the strong male cast more than makes up for this blip. I did wonder however if the female characters were meant to be weak though as Hans says something along the lines of Marty's female characters being too weak in his screen play, so I do wonder if the choice was intentional in the actual film. The three main characters all work well together and were definitely the right trio to be put together and Harrelson was fantastic as the psychotic gangster with a bizarre love for his shih Tzu!
There are some quite shocking scenes within the film and in a way which is similar to Tarrentino, there are moments of over the top gore. Despite this it is still quite a fun film and doesn't take itself seriously.
This film is well worth a watch. I wouldn't be surprised if this film ends up becoming a cult classic alongside films like Kill Bill. Its relatively low $15 million budget and being made by Film4 as well as its ironic storyline certainly give it the markers to become one in the future.
Stay with the film till after the opening end credits, which are interrupted to bring you quite a good final scene.
Rated 7.2 / 10 on Imbd.co.uk
110 mins runtime.
After buying my daughter a really rubbish crimping set which was on the verge of being useless, I decided to buy her a better quality one rather than a gimmicky one. On my search online for a decent one, I came across the Babyliss 12 in 1 styler for £32 on Amazon. I found this particular set appealing as it had other styling tools which between us we could use. It seemed much better value than what I would pay for a crimping tool, so I happily purchased it.
When it arrived I was immediately impressed, it felt durable and of a good enough quality that it would last. I was also impressed with the heating element of the styler, I have had previous experience of heating tools which have been poor quality and haven't heated up too well, but this one seems to heat quickly and to a high intensity too, meaning the styles (no matter which you opt for), will stay put for longer, and it won't take as long to style the hair in the first place.
The various styling tools that come with this styler, means that you really can style your hair however you want. We had lots of fun messing around the first night we got it, with a mixture of straight, crimped, big curls and little curls we looked slightly demented, but we laughed so much!
Babyliss are slightly cheeky in naming the product a 12 in 1 styler, when really it is an 8 in 1 styler! There are 8 attachments and 4 hair clips, which to me does not make it a 12 in 1 styler, sorry Babyliss but I'm knocking one whole star off for that one!
Included in the box is:
1 x BaByliss Pro Ceramic Multi-Styler
1 x 38 mm ceramic straightening plates (for a smooth sleek shiny finish)
1 x 38 mm ceramic crimping plates (adds long-lasting texture in the hair)
1 x 13 - 16 mm ceramic coated dual barrel (for natural looking curls)
1 x 13 mm ceramic coated barrel (for tighter curls)
1 x 16 mm ceramic coated barrel (for perfectly defined curls)
1 x 19 mm ceramic coated barrel (for looser curls and waves)
1 x 19 mm spiral sleeve (for spiral curls)
1 x 19 mm brush sleeve (for shaping and styling)
4 x Professional hair sectioning clips
The styler uses ionic technology, which basically works to reduce frizzy hair and static, providing a sleeker and smoother finish. I don't usually tend to believe half of the promises such as these, but I have noticed a reduction in frizz when using this styler, and although it doesn't last all day, my hair does appear noticeably smoother when I have used this styler. Although I bought this styler primarily for my daughter, I will only use it on her hair very infrequently such as for parties etc. This styler isn't the best for fine hair (which my daughter has), as it tends to make the hair look quite flat and lifeless, even a little lank, so if you do have fine hair, you need to stay clear of the roots with this styler.
The ceramic coating of each of the accessories, means it will add a high shine finish to the hair and it will heat quickly and up to 200 degree heat.
All in all, aside from the cheeky attempt at making it sound better than it is, this is a really good styler. The hair straightening plates aren't on parr with GHDs so I tend to not use this accessory, but everything else is fantastic.
I first came across the bubblebum car seats when my eldest daughter went for tea at a friends house after school, and when I walked her to their car, the mum got this fabulous car seat out of her boot. I thought it was a fantastic idea and promptly bought one for a spare for my car.
The bubblebum car seat is basically what I would call a spare or back up car seat. It is portable and really lightweight. It is an inflatable car seat, which did slightly put me off at fist as I wondered how safe it could be, however it has been approved under the United Nations ECE Regulation R44/04 for safety for both Groups 2 and 3. It is designed for use with a standard 3 point adult seat belt that has been approved to ECE Regulation 16 or equivalent.
Another massive benefit for me is that it fits nicely into the middle of two other boosters. Despite having quite a spacious 4 x 4, I struggle to get 3 solid booster seats in without having a fight with the seatbelts, but the bubblebum fits a lot better and reduces the frustrating clipping in of 3 children. Now when we have friends come for tea, I know I have the car seat in the boot. This car seat would also be perfect for travelling abroad if you needed to think about space for suitcase allowance. If we were planning n hiring a car abroad I would definately invest in one more and take both.
Inflating the seat isn't a hassle either and simply requires that you inflate it by blowing into a vace which is situated at the back of the seat. It deflates really quickly too. I have found the best way to get the air out of the seat is to place it somewhere flat and roll it towards the valve, the airs removes quickly and it is then ready to be stored away. It is really important to check the valve is fastened properly to ensure it doesn't start to deflate once it has a bum on it!
This car seat is suitable for the following children:
Age between 4 to 11
Weigh between 15-36KGS
Height up to 135cm or when child's ears are above the back of the vehicle seat.
The n,y slight negative with this booster is that the cover isn't removable so t can be machine washed. One of the girls friends did spill on it and I was rather miffed that I couldn't remove the cover in any way, however it did wipe clean quite well and I just left it outside to dry in the sunshine.
The car seat is available in either black or purple. We opted for the funky fun purple rather than the dreary black.
For the bargain price of £30 I think this is a fantastic little invention that will come in use when the children start wanting friends over after school, or if you intend to travel abroad and hire a car, it will fit nicely in suitcases and not eat into the baggage allowance.
A great item.
After recently getting into a programme on the BBC with my daughters, we had become a little obsessed by the cake shop in Brighton called Choccywoccydoodah. My uncle lives in Brighton so as a surprise treat I booked a few nights away with the girls and my mum. Driving for 4.5 hours (one way!) to the other side of the country for a cake might sound a little excessive but it was worth every single mile when I say my daughters faces.
Choccywoccydoodah is like no cake shop you've ever seen. Eccentric and crazy, you cannot believe what your eyes are seeing and its made from chocolate! The window display is a haven for tourists with cameras from the moments the shutters come up in the morning. We were rather eagerly waiting for them to open on our visit and I would definitely recommend going first thing in a morning as it was packed then so I dread to think what it would be like in the peak of the day.
Taken from the DooDahs website 'Choccywoccydoodah are a dedicated team of artists, designers and chocolatiers who specialise in creating decadent, bespoke wedding cakes, chocolate birthday cakes and unique chocolate gifts.' With bespoke cakes, I can only go from what I have seen on the TV show, but nothing is big or crazy enough for the cake makers to the stars. Macy Gray requested a cake dedicated to Stevie Wonder which must play a song, have a Braille etching, oh and be big enough to feed 3,000 people, while an Olympian (I forget which one) wanted a cake built as a chocolate house to feed 5,000 people. It was complete with sweet tiles, an apple pie on the windowsill cooling and lots of gnomes. Unfortunately it didn't survive its journey to the location but they still had great fun smashing it into pieces and eating it nonetheless. The cakes will have costs thousands of pounds, and prices are not given away on the show. I did expect high prices in the shop however, so for anyone planning on visiting, take note of this next part carefully!....
Prices in the shop are astronomical. For a once in a lifetime visit though I was determined that the girls could have something significant enough that it would make the trip worthwhile. A £7 lollipop for example just wasn't going to cut it. A hand carved kitten made from white chocolate and topped in edible glitter was something we seriously considered but at £20 it seemed a waste given that they don't like white chocolate. Finally we opted for a cake, wrapped in amazing choccy cellophane it certainly meant we were noticed walking through the streets of Brighton afterwards! The girls were delighted, and at £35 I actually felt this was better value than paying £7 for a chocolate lolly which would last minutes. The staff in the shop were an absolute delight and were just as whacky as the cakes but this is what makes Choccy what it is. Once we were home I was so relieved that the cake lived up to our expectations of it, and we are still feeding the whole street with cake!
Next up was the Choccy cafe which was only a minute or so walk away, and the girls couldn't believe their luck that they were being treated to both. The cafe is just as tiny as the shop and did look a little tired from the outside, but once inside the mad world continues with cups and saucers in the place of lightbulbs in the light fittings and stags heads under the tables. The drinks menu consisted of mainly everything chocolate which didn't appeal to me. No cokes or lemonades to be seen so I opted for a strawberry milkshake which was heaven in a glass. There were four adults and the woman advised us to share two slices of cake as they were large portions. We were so glad of her advice as we actually left cake and even between four of us couldn't finish it off. The cake was honestly the best cake I've ever eaten in my life and my uncle was especially surprised. He has lived in Brighton for 12 years but never visited the cafe or the shop, and in his own words 'expected it to be all fur coat and no knickers' but he too agreed it was amazing! The staff were again delightful and really took a shine to my two girls giving them a massive container of mixed sweets (as if they didn't have enough treats in the cake!). The free sweets did make up for the £30 odd bill (for two slices of cake and 6 drinks!).
Choccywoccydoodah is also situated in London with a much bigger shop, which we hope to visit soon ; )