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cc2sg
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Member since: 06.05.2013

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    • Samsung Digimax L70 / Digital Camera / 70 Readings / 68 Ratings
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      10.10.2013 23:12
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      Simple and easy to use

      I have to admit I didn't choose this camera myself, I won it in a competition. As a technophobe I was somewhat intimidated by it at first, but actually it's really not at all difficult to master the basics.

      It is 7.2 megapixels, which is quite adequate for a clear, crisp photo and noticeably better than my old camera, which was around 5 megapixels if I recall correctly.

      The zoom is 3 x optical. It has one of those zoom lenses that pops out of the front of the camera. To zoom in or out you push the little lever up or down. Very simple! If you zoom too close though the picture does get a bit fuzzy. This isn't designed to be a professional camera after all, just a point and click.

      The menus are a little confusing as they're not entirely logical, and they are navigated via touch sensitive buttons. The buttons are small and close together, so someone with large fingers (or long nails like me!) will find that they regularly press the wrong one by mistake. I find deleting items that I don't want to keep can be a little troublesome. However, I also struggle with my smartphone. The more technologically advanced among us would probably have little difficulty.

      I don't use many of the options from the menus so I don't find it too much of a hindrance. There are all sorts of settings which no doubt mean something to experienced photographers, but I can take decent photos on this without ever touching those. The ones I do understand are the settings for portrait, landscape, text, night scene, children (I assume that means anything that moves!) and fireworks.

      You can also take digital videos of a minute or so in length, also in decent quality for a low price camera.

      Also very useful is the anti-shake button, located on the top of the camera. Essential for those of us with unsteady hands!

      It was supplied with a rechargeable lithium battery and a lead to upload pictures and videos to your computer. This is also reassuringly simple - quite literally just plug it in, switch it on and follow the prompts on the screen.

      No case was supplied but the camera is a standard size and I was able to purchase a generic case very cheaply to fit.

      When it was first released this camera cost in the region of £200, but you can pick one up for a fraction of that these days on Ebay.

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        25.09.2013 22:17
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        Didn't hit the mark for me

        I picked this up in a local charity shop for 59p. I'd heard of Bernard Cornwall, but hadn't read any of his books and no preconceptions of his writing style or subject matter. I suspect it was the title that drew me to it, since I have a rather morbid sense of curiosity.

        In my whole entire life there has only been one book that I have started and not finished, and I have ploughed my way through some extremely tedious and slow going books in my time. This came very close to becoming the second unfinished book. The first chapter contained so much peculiar and antiquated vocabulary that I kept having to put the book down and get my dictionary out. Now, I am not uneducated (I have two degrees to my name, both of which contained literature elements, albeit not in English), but I honestly had never heard some of the words before and had no idea what they might mean. The only one I can still recall is 'prurience'. Thankfully, once into the second chapter, focusing on different characters, it became less heavy going. It still seemed that Mr Cornwall had swallowed a dictionary though!

        The first, chapter introduces us to some minor characters who will play only small roles in the rest of the book. I found this rather odd. We didn't meet our protagonist until Chapter 2. However we do start off at the gallows, witnessing a hanging at Newgate Prison. A grisly scene is set.

        Captain Rider Sandman turns out to be the main character. A former soldier not long returned from the war who has fallen on hard times thanks to his father's debts. He has a good reputation, but needs to earn a living and although he could earn a tidy sum from cricket, which is is rather good at, he refuses to be party to the gambling and cheating that have taken such a foothold in the game. When the Home Secretary, Viscount Sidmouth offers him a princely sum to perform a seemingly simple task he is keen to accept, but nothing is ever simple in life.

        The Countess of Avebury was murdered, and an artist by the name of Corday has been convicted of her murder and sentenced to hang. Corday was painting a portrait of the Countess. His mother however, was in the employ of the Queen and had persuaded her majesty to write a petition to the Home Secretary on his behalf. Viscount Sidmouth tasks Sandman with proving the young man's guilt in order to reassure the Queen that justice has been done. This seems easy enough, but Sandman soon comes to realise that an injustice has been done. In order to get a reprieve for the young painter he must find the real killer. He finds himself some unlikely allies and they set about their quest for justice.

        This should be an absolute romp, but it just isn't. The story is intriguing enough in itself, but it moves so slowly that I kept losing interest. The endless references to cricket bored me to tears I'm afraid, and the war references really weren't for me either. I do love a historical novel, but I prefer my history to be, well, older! Pre-guns at least. The inclusion of a highwayman by the name of Hood was just that little bit too silly for my tastes as well. I mean, really???

        I didn't really enjoy reading the book at all, it just didn't grip me. To make it worse, I guessed the outcome fairly early in the book, which somewhat ruined what suspense there was. It was heavy reading and I don't read for edification these days - I did quite enough of that at University. I prefer to read for pleasure, and this book just didn't hit that mark.

        *Review also appears on Ciao*

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        21.09.2013 17:04
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        I wouldn't be without it

        ~What is a Garmin Forerunner 310XT?~

        When I first started running I had no idea that things such this existed. A few folks at the running club had these gigantic computers strapped to their wrists and it turned out that they were called 'Garmins' and that they used satellite signals to tell you how fast and how far you were going. My mind was blown! And so it was that I bought my first ever Garmin. It was gigantic and very basic. By the time that one died a natural death the market in GPS sports watches had moved on quite some way and I invested in a Garmin 405, but I didn't like the fit of it on my tiny wrist, so when I was offered the chance to buy one of the latest models at the time, a 310XT, for half of the RRP I jumped at the chance. That was a good number of years ago now, but I still love my 310XT.

        The Forerunner 310XT is a multisport watch, designed specifically with the long distance triathlete in mind. It is waterproof, can be switched between the disciplines of swimming, cycling and running and the battery lasts for 20 hours. Now, I am no triathlete (I did one, once, never again), but I greatly enjoy the benefits of it being waterproof and not needing to be charged as often as my previous models.

        ~Wearing and Using the Watch~

        The 310XT is a nasty orange colour (that nearly put me off buying one), but luckily not too much of that is visible. The unit itself is still pretty big: the square face of the watch is 5cm x 5cm and is 1.5cm thick. However, this is smaller than the Forerunner 205 and 305 that were the most popular predecessors, as those had a protruding part that housed the satellite trackers. I really like the large screen as it is much easier to read than the smaller, round face of the 405. The 310XT is also considerably lighter than the 205/305. You could never wear it instead of a normal watch, but as an activity tracker I like the size and weight.

        The strap is all plastic but is very flexible and has 13 sets of holes so will fit any wrist size, including my puny ones. If I have it fastened too tightly it can give me pins and needles in my fingers and a bit of a numb arm, so I prefer to have it just a little bit loose.

        The buttons are easy to operate, which is a huge improvement on the 405, and operation is similar to the 205/305. There are buttons for on/off, start/stop, lap/reset, mode, enter and up and down scroll buttons for the menus. No awkward bezels that don't work with wet fingers, no auto powersave to switch your watch off just as you're about to start your race. That used to drive me potty with the 405!

        The menus are also extremely easy and logical to navigate. Everything is pretty much where you'd expect to find it.

        The large display is very clear and can be customised to show one, two, three or four separate fields of information. You can also set second, third and fourth screens with up to four fields each, and either scroll through them yourself as you run, or set the watch to autoscroll. I never really felt the need to use that option though, as I don't tend to need quite that much information and if I tried to read all that while running I'm fairly sure I'd fall over!

        ~Setting Up~

        When you first use the unit you'll need to program your details into it, such as gender, weight, age and activity level. This enables it to calculate your calorie burn more accurately. You'll also need to pair it with your computer, the data transfer stick, the HRM strap if you have one and locate satellites for the first time. A 'Quickstart' guide is provided in the box, which I found to be really easy to follow. I had mine set up and ready to go in minutes.

        There is a baffling selection of options available to show on the screen:- Time, Time - Avg Lap, Time - Elapsed, Time - Lap, Time - Last Lap, Time of Day, Total Ascent, Total Descent, Cadence, Cadence - Avg, Cadence - Lap, Calories, Dist - Lap, Distance - Last Lap, Distance - Nautical, Elevation, GPS Accuracy, Grade, Heading, Heart Rate, Heart Rate -%HRR, Heart Rate - %Max, Heart Rate - Avg, Heart Rate - Avg %HRR, Heart Rate - Avg %Max, Heart Rate - Lap, Heart Rate - Lap %HRR, Heart Rate - Lap %Max, Heart Rate - Graph, Heart Rate - Zone, Laps, Pace, Pace - Average, Pace - Lap, Pace - Last Lap, Power, Power - %FTP, Power - 30s Avg, Power - 3s Avg, Power - Kilojoules, Power - Max, Power - Lap, Power Zone, Speed, Speed - Avg, Speed - Lap, Speed - Last Lap, Speed - Max, Speed - Nautical, Speed - VS 30s, Speed - Vertical.

        I have to admit to having no clue what most of those are for. Clearly the nautical ones are for when you use it for swimming, and the Power and Speed ones I presume are for cycling. Personally I only use it for running. For racing I have three data fields showing - Time, Lap Pace and Average Pace. For training I use the second screen, which I have set up with Distance, Time of Day and Lap Pace.

        You can set the watch to automatically beep at you at a certain distance, to record a lap split automatically (this can be a distance of your choosing, a time or even a specific point on your course), or pause automatically when you stop, eg to cross a road. Mine is set to beep at me every mile. On a normal training run I'll set it to record a lap split every mile, but if I'm doing an intervals session I'll turn this function off and press the lap button myself at the end of each rep. I don't use autopause as in the past this has managed to confuse matters when I forget it has stopped itself and I ended up accidentally stopping it completely. My brain doesn't work when I run!

        ~Training Features ~

        There is a feature called Virtual Partner where you can set the watch to a certain pace per mile and then try to keep up with the little man running across the screen. The little man representing you runs alongside (well, underneath I suppose, technically) and the display tells you how far ahead or behind your partner you are. I used to use this facility a lot more on my old Garmin when I was a novice runner but I don't seem to use it any more.

        You can program intervals sessions into the watch, which are completely customisable. There are also some pre-set workouts. You can even set up very complicated sessions on the online software Garmin Connect and send the workout to your Garmin. I've used this function when I've needed to do intervals sessions on my own and have been running set distances but not on a set route, so I have no idea where to end each rep. The beeps are different from normal distance alerts so there's no danger of cutting your workout short by mistake.

        There is even a navigation function, although I find this extremely difficult to follow. If you get lost you can simply go to navigation mode and press 'return to start'. No doubt it will send you back the same way you came, even if that isn't the shortest route back, but at least you'll get there eventually. Probably. I downloaded a 20 mile route to mine from the internet and assumed it would be easy enough to follow, but actually it's just a line on the screen with an arrow. If there is more than one road that goes right when the arrow points right you have absolutely no way to know if you're taking the correct one. It turns out I did not take the correct route and the 20 miler was actually well over 23 miles by the time I got back home.

        ~Accessories~

        The watch I have came with a HRM strap. This wasn't necessarily something I wanted and as such I haven't really used it much. The strap is actually much more comfortable than others I've tried, being elastic for all but roughly 7cm right at the front. Personally I don't like wearing a strap around my chest while I'm running. I find it gets in the way of my bra strap, and if I'm wearing my backpack or hydration pack then it's beyond uncomfortable. I'm guessing that men would find this less of a problem ;).

        It also came with a charger, that is in the form of a clip rather than the cradles of previous versions, and the ANT+ wireless transfer stick. This is great. It is like a USB that you plug into your computer. If your Garmin is switched on it will automatically transfer your training information to your computer when you are within about 10m of it. A foot pod is available to buy separately, which would enable you to use the unit without the GPS, for example, on the treadmill.

        ~Garmin Customer Service~

        I manged to drop my beloved 310XT on the concrete floor of the changing rooms at the running club. It must have landed on a weak spot as the screen cracked from one side to the other. I actually cried! I tried to hold it together with sticky tape, but water got into the screen, making it difficult to read. Of course, it was out of warranty. However, Garmin were great when I contacted their customer service. They took it back and sent me out a new, refurbished unit free of charge. I think they were aware of a fault with the weak spot on the screen actually. Usually they'd charge £50 when the warranty is out of date, but even that is a great deal better than buying a new one. I assumed it would take weeks to get my new watch through so panic bought an emergency backup of a Forerunner 205, but actually I had my new 310XT within 10 days.

        My new one took a battering when I slipped on a wet manhole cover as I rounded a corner coming down off a bridge and went flying. The casing is scratched, but this time the screen survived intact. If there was an issue then it appears that Garmin have fixed it!

        ~Verdict~

        I can't be without my Garmin. I'm not great at judging pace without it. I have tried and I usually go off too fast and die a death. The Garmin stops me from dashing off too quickly at the start of races, and equally makes me keep my head down and press on when the going gets tough. Being able to measure the distance I have run is also fantastic. I don't have to spend ages pouring over maps, I can just run, wherever I want, in the woods, on canal paths or on roads. I don't pay too much attention to anything other than distance unless I'm doing a 'session', but the data you can upload afterwards is just scintillating for the running geek. Lap splits, elevation, every detail can be analysed on Garmin Connect, or another online facility. I use Fetcheveryone.

        But do I NEED a 310XT? Admittedly I don't use many functions of my watch, but I love the lighter weight and longer battery life. Since I bought it though, a large selection of other GPS watches have appeared on the market, and not just in the Garmin range. I am not 100% sure that I would buy this exact model again given that it still costs around £160 even without the HRM. For the functions I require I dare say I could pick up something rather less expensive. I suspect it would depend on how flush I was feeling at the time!

        *Review also appears on Ciao*

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          08.09.2013 17:27
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          Great value.

          I'm sure that most people don't actually need to take a multi-vitamin, at least, not if they're eating a healthy diet. I do eat a (mostly) healthy diet, but money is tight so the quality of my food isn't always that good, and I am most certainly not 'most people'. I train hard: around 15 hours a week. Bearing in mind that I work full time as well, this is putting extra strain on my body. In order to keep it in the best possible condition, I therefore take a multivitamin (among other things) so that I can be sure I'm not lacking in anything vital.

          I used to buy expensive branded multivitamins, but one day when I was in Tesco and trying to do my shopping on a ludicrously small budget I spotted the Everyday Value Multivitamins. I was sceptical of course, but on closer inspection they contain the exact same vitamins as the more expensive brands, and you get at least 100% RDA of most of them too. Why on earth would anyone pay more? It's not like you actually need over 700% RDA of Vitamin B12 (as contained in the Centrum Performance that I still have in my cupboard).

          As well as containing all of the vitamins you'd expect to find, they also notably do NOT contain sugar, wheat, yeast, fish, milk, egg or salt, making them suitable for allergy sufferers like myself as well as vegetarians.

          At a cost of just 39p for a 30-day supply I can see absolutely no reason to buy any other brand of multivitamin ever again!

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            07.09.2013 00:04
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            My long term favourite hair dye

            I have been dying my hair black for at least 16 years. It started as an 'image' thing and now is a necessity to cover up the bright white roots I seem to have developed these days. I have tried most dyes on the market in that time, but I always, always go back to Schwarzkopf Live Colour XXL in Cosmic Blue. In fact, I have just dyed my hair this evening with this product.

            Over the years it has undergone a few changes, and I don't know why they ever got rid of the click and twist bottle that they had 16 years ago, but on the whole it is still the same product. Schwarzkopf have finally cottoned on to the fact that their biggest market for the black shades is the 'alternative' crowd, and a few years ago they started to label Cosmic Blue (plus a couple of others) as Rockin' Blacks. Smart move!

            You are supposed to perform a skin test 24 hours before use. I don't recall if I did that the first time I used it or not (I suspect not - I was a teenager at the time after all!), but I don't bother these days. I know that this dye is fine for my skin.

            The box contains a bottle of developer, a tube of dye, a sachet of conditioner (really hard to open with wet hands - top tip is to open it BEFORE you come to wash out the dye!), plastic gloves of the massive and baggy variety, and a set of instructions. The dye should be applied to clean, dry hair.

            It is pretty easy to apply, but if you're a novice I'd suggest you apply a layer of vaseline to your forehead and neck just below the hairline, and also over your ears. This will mean that you won't stain your head if you're not too neat with the dye.

            You will also want to move your bathmat, any nice towels, face cloths etc out of the way in case of splashing. I usually manage to get dye splodges in the most unlikely places, such as half way up the bathroom wall! I also like to open a window, or at least the door if it's too cold outside, as the smell could be overpowering in a small enclosed space. It isn't that it smells strongly, or even too unpleasant, it's just that I know it has chemicals in it. Actually the smell is inoffensive. It just smells like hair dye, not entirely surprisingly.

            Wearing the gloves unscrew the cap of the developer and the tube of dye, using the end of the cap to pierce the foil on the tube opening. Squeeze the contents of the tube into the developer bottle and screw the cap back on. Give it a good shake, remove the tip and you're ready to go.

            I always start with my roots, which are usually scarily white. I begin with my parting then work out towards each ear, squeezing the solution in long lines from forehead to the crown of my head. It's like creating pinstripes on your head. Use the tip of the bottle to get right into the roots. Along the hairline I use the tip of the bottle to draw a neat line, then use my fingertips (in the gloves!) to smooth the dye into my hair.

            The back of your head is most difficult to do. I usually turn my head upside down and repeat as per the front of my head, but working from the hairline upwards to the middle of the back of my head.

            The instructions say to wait 20 minutes after doing the roots before applying to the rest of your hair if it is a repeat application, but I find that the dye does fade somewhat (no doubt because I wash my hair every day, sometimes twice, due to training) so I just carry on and dye the rest of my hair. I do this by squirting some dye into the palm of my gloved hand then pulling it through my hair with my fingers.

            Once all of the hair is coated I clip it up on top of my head and wander off to do something else for half an hour. Perhaps read and rate some reviews for example!

            When you come to rinse it out, don't panic if the water is a scary colour. Cosmic Blue turns the water a deep purple colour. You need to keep rinsing until the water runs clear. This can take quite a long time. Then finally you can apply that conditioner you opened earlier. I tend to use half of the sachet for my hair, which is thick and just past shoulder length. You need to leave this on for 5 minutes, which gives you time to clean the shower/bath/sink/floor/anywhere else you managed to get dye. On rinsing it out my hair always feels really smooth and tangle free.

            If you did happen to get a few splodges on your skin then I'm afraid they are not easy to get rid of. The best way I've found is actually to pluck out the tiny, almost invisible (well, they were invisible before you dyed them!) hairs from your skin, as actually it is the hairs you have dyed rather than your head in most cases.

            I love the way my hair looks after I've dyed it. It looks best after a wash or two to remove any residual dye on the scalp. It is always shiny and looks so much healthier. For a novice it might be difficult to apply, but as a long-term colourer I have become very proficient and the whole process now only takes me an hour from starting to prepare the bathroom to having dyed hair and a clean bathroom.

            Compared to other dyes I've tried I find that Schwarzkopf XXL is easier to apply (even compared to foams, and actually way less messy than those when it comes to splashing the bathroom suite), and also gives a richer, longer lasting colour. For someone who has to wash their hair as often as I do, that is a hugely important factor.

            At full price Live Colour XXL costs £5.49, but it can often be found on offer for around £4. I tend to buy it in Wilko, Savers or Boyes as they seem to have it on offer more frequently than the large chemists and supermarket chains.

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              31.08.2013 13:28
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              A strange and probably unnecessary addition to the make-up bag.

              I received a miniature version of this as a free gift when I bought some other Clinique products, and I have to admit that I was absolutely baffled! What on earth is this for?
              Well, you use it to highlight and contour your cheek and brow bones to add definition. Alternatively you can use it all over your face for a sun kissed glow. Being a bit of a Goth I have never tried that, and no intention of trying it!

              You can use it on top of foundation, or on alone. I have used it on occasion when I didn't want to wear a full face of make-up but wanted to feel like I'd made a bit of an effort. It would also be good for night out on the town.

              It is a very thin liquid, coloured like foundation. It applies as a very sheer layer and essentially just makes your skin look sparkly in the areas you have applied it to. I restrict myself to cheekbones and brow bones. I suspect there could be a real danger of looking like a clown if you applied it in the wrong places. It seems to last the whole night without reapplication.

              Coming in at £21 for 30ml (on the Clinique website and at Clinique counters) there is no way I would buy this product. I use it, but only because I have it. I'm not sure there is any real need for such an item. At least, not for me. However, if a sun kissed glow is your thing (and I'm quite aware that most people do like that!) and you can afford to treat yourself, then you will definitely get use from this product. Another bonus is that it is allergy tested and fragrance free, so no need to worry about reactions.

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                27.08.2013 21:56
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                No miracle cures here.

                I was extremely lucky to get full sized bottles of both the shampoo and conditioner in the Ojon Damage Reverse range thanks to a special promotion at John Lewis. All I had to do was take in an empty shampoo bottle and exchange it for the set of full size bottles at the Ojon counter. Clearly they had confidence that their products were so good that giving away freebies would generate sales.

                Unfortunately their confidence was misplaced, at least in my case, despite the fact that I seem to be the perfect candidate for a range aimed at 'very dry, damaged hair'. My hair is dry and frizzy from years of colouring and daily washing.

                Ojon is an oil obtained from the nut of the Ojon tree, which is native to the tropical rainforests of central America. One tree yields enough nuts per year for just 3 cups of oil, which no doubt explains the shocking price tag of this stuff (£24 per 250ml bottle!). According to the Ojon website this oil will restore radiance, suppleness, bounce, body, volume and vibrancy to help repair even the most damaged hair.

                Other ingredients mentioned in the blurb on the bottle are Buriti Oil (no, I've no idea what this is either) and Murumuru Butter (ditto but apparently they contain essential lipids similar to those found on the scalp), and wheat protein.

                It does specifically say that this is a 'daily' conditioner.

                So, the first time I tried it I used the shampoo and the conditioner together. The conditioner is pure white and creamy enough that it is actually quite difficult to get it out of the bottle, which has a flip top (the type that you press down one side and the other side with the hole in it pops up). It feels very nice when you are applying it. The scent is subtle and a little odd, but not at all unpleasant and it does feel like a luxury, expensive product.

                On rinsing out the product I was disappointed to note that my hair wasn't completely tangle free and it felt a bit heavy. After drying I was even more disappointed to find that my hair felt weighed down and full of product. And yes, I had rinsed it thoroughly.

                I tried using both products together a few more times before concluding that they are just too rich for my hair.

                Since then I have experimented with using the conditioner with other, cheaper shampoos and have had better results, but nothing close to the miracle I was hoping for. I'm really only using the conditioner now because it was free and I hate to throw anything away half used. Especially something I know to be this expensive!

                I'm afraid I really can't recommend it at all. If it makes my over processed hair feel heavy and full of product, then I dread to think what it would do to hair tamer than mine.

                Available from Ojon counters at major department stores, and also from Boots.

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                  25.08.2013 15:46
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                  The best magazine for the competitive athlete

                  Athletics Weekly is not aimed at the recreational runner. The target audience is the competitive athlete, even if only at regional level, but it will also appeal to the die-hard athletics fan, whether they participate or not. I have recently been gifted a pile of old copies from a coach at my running club and I am thoroughly enjoying working my way through them. If I could afford it, I would subscribe to this magazine in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately it costs much the same as monthly magazines but comes out every week, which puts it well beyond my budget on a regular basis.

                  The journalism is first rate, with well-written reports coming from all of the major, and some of the not so major meetings worldwide. Respected sports journalists, statisticians and top coaches contribute to the magazine, which also includes feature articles from other specialists in fields such as physiotherapy and nutrition.

                  Club level athletics is also featured strongly, which is why this publication interests me so much. I've had my name listed in the results a few times and one day I hope to see my picture in there. Hopefully in a few years time when I am competing on the Masters circuit I might stand a chance of sneaking in there!

                  As with most magazines there are certain features that appear every week. These are:
                  News - the headlines from the world of athletics.
                  Book reviews
                  Comment - a current issue is debated or discussed.
                  Your Say - letters from readers.
                  Young Athlete - a feature on a promising young athlete.
                  Dip Finish - a bit like the 'and finally' section of TV news broadcasts. The silly stuff!
                  Results
                  Listings
                  TV listings

                  Each issue will also feature a number of detailed race/meeting reports from elite level down to regional championships, and also major road races. The issue I have in front of me right now includes the Monaco Diamond League, BMC (British Milers' Club) races from Solihull, BMAF (British Masters Athletics Federation) Championships from Derby, Welsh International and the SIAB (Schools International Athletic Board) from Ashford.

                  There will usually be at least one interview with a top-level athlete, and a feature on another athlete, or perhaps a coach or physio. 5 or 6 such articles would not be unusual each week.

                  Kit reviews and articles on new advances in shoe/fibre technology will often feature, or it could be advice on nutrition or cross training, or an analysis of the training patterns of past heroes.

                  There are adverts of course, but they're all relevant to athletes, including clothing and shoe retailers and race organisers. They don't detract from the articles and in fact I quite enjoy looking at the ads as well.

                  Unlike other magazines aimed at runners, the articles are not repetitive. They are always based on the latest research and written by experts. Also, I've never yet spotted a typo or grammatical error. This drives me to distraction in Running Fitness, and they have an entire month to proof read rather than just a week.

                  A fan of international elite level athletics will find plenty to interest them in this magazine, although it is probably the club level, competitive athlete who will benefit most. I count myself in that niche, and I love it!

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                  24.08.2013 22:03
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                  A disappointment for me.

                  I have massive unsightly pores on my nose and in a desperate attempt to improve them I saved up some cash and took myself off to the Clinique counter to find some solutions. Clinique was my favourite beauty brand already thanks to their allergy tested status, so I didn't even consider any other options.

                  The Pore Minimizer Refining Serum (horrible American spelling!) is supposed to reduce the size of your pores and leave your skin looking smooth and shine free. Apply after cleansing, toning and moisturising.

                  I did this diligently, twice a day (well, twice most days) for a good month or so and unfortunately I saw no improvement at all in my pores. I was so disappointed. This was the first time I'd bought a Clinque product that didn't work for me. Other folks seem to have had better luck, so maybe my enlarged pores were just too much of a challenge.

                  As far as I can tell this product is no longer part of the Clinique range. They seem to have updated it. I don't know how similar the new one in the Refining Solutions range is. I'd like to try that one too, but won't pay full price. Perhaps I'll get some in a free gift next time Bonus Time is on.

                  You can still pick this one up on Ebay really quite cheaply, so it might be worth a try if your pores aren't gigantic craters.

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                  23.08.2013 20:05
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                  My favourite everyday hand cream

                  As the owner of one very dry pair of hands I feel obliged to keep a stash of hand creams strategically located to be permanently available to me. Soap and Glory's Hand Food is the one that sits next to my PC at home. I received this as part of a gift set and it is a smaller size than the regular tube. The full size version is available to buy from Boots for £5.00, and the dinky version is £2.50.

                  My hands get so dry that the skin will often just crack. If I've let it get quite that dry then I can't use ordinary hand creams such as Hand Food due to the perfumes, and have to use my eczema creams and potions instead. In theory though, my hands shouldn't get into that state in the first place because I'm supposedly moisturising them at every opportunity. I'm not great at remembering to do that of course! However, having a nice hand cream that is a pleasure to use certainly helps in that respect.

                  Hand Food is the perfect consistency. It is thick and creamy when squeezed out of the tube. It is bright white in colour and has a very subtle, light fragrance. It is supposed to smell of fennel and lotus flowers. Maybe it does, I can't say I've ever smelled either of them! To me it smells 'clean' and vaguely floral.

                  It absorbs into the skin really quickly, leaving my hands feeling soft and velvety, and most importantly, without leaving behind any sheen or greasy layer. The effect is long lasting as well. I applied some around 4 hours ago and despite having been washed at least twice since then, my hands are still feeling soft.

                  The list of ingredients does look a little scary, with all manner of chemical names in there. I think this is fairly normal though, and it doesn't claim to be a natural product.

                  It may not be 'The most astonishing hand cream ever', but it is certainly my favourite for every day use.

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                    19.08.2013 23:59
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                    It might have a funny name, but it tastes like heaven.

                    I am intolerant to dairy and soya, therefore ice-cream is rarely on the menu. I've tried quite a few dairy-free ice creams and haven't been massively impressed, but for some reason this one jumped out at me from the freezer shelf when I was browsing in my local health food shop, and I couldn't resist popping one in my basket despite the hefty £1.99 price tag for a 110g pot.

                    Booja Booja desserts are dairy free, soya free, gluten free, egg free, organic and made without refined sugar. They are endorsed by the Soil Association and have won a number of awards.

                    The shop only had two flavours in stock. Hunky Punky Chocolate, and Keep Smiling Vanilla M'Gorilla, although it is actually also available in Coconut Hullabaloo, Feisty Winjin Ginger and Pompompous Maple Pecan. I opted for Hunky Punky Chocolate, which is described as 'luxuriously rich, truffley smooth, dark chocolate'.

                    There are only 4 ingredients, which rather impressed me. They are: water, raw agave syrup, cashew nuts and cocoa powder. Given that water has no taste and I love the other three ingredients, I was confident that I was not wasting my money.

                    When I first bought it, it was frozen solid. If you'd tried to put a spoon in that you'd have a very bent spoon! Luckily I didn't need to eat it straight away, as tempting as that might have been. I drove home (maybe 10 minutes) and popped it in the fridge for 10 mins or so while I made and ate a sandwich. The consistency was absolutely perfect after this length of time, so patience is indeed a virtue in this case!

                    The texture is easily the best I've come across in a dairy free ice cream. It is rich, smooth and creamy. It melts in the mouth and slips down the throat just like a quality ice cream.
                    The flavour is rich without being intense. The bitterness of cocoa is offset by the agave syrup and perfectly balanced by the cashews. The overall effect is sweet, but not sickly. I had no trouble at all in polishing off the whole little tub.

                    Unless you happen to have a nut-allergy, this is the ideal treat and I give it 5 starts. Easily the nicest tasting dairy free ice cream on the market. The only drawbacks are the price and the fact that you can only find it in health food shops.

                    * Review also appears on Ciao *

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                      18.08.2013 14:57
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                      Indispensable!

                      A few years ago I decided I needed to do something about the hideous and massive pores on my nose. Being a devotee of Clinique's allergy tested luxury products, I saved up some money and took myself off to the Clinique counter (having first ensured that there was a Bonus Time offer on, of course - if I was going to spend lots of money on full size products I wanted to be taking advantage of that and getting some freebies into the bargain!).

                      I bought two products that day from the Pore Minimizer range - Refining Serum, and Instant Perfector. It annoyed me somewhat that Clinique can't spell 'minimiser', but I was willing to let that pass if the products would solve my issues!

                      The Instant Perfector isn't a long-term solution; it merely fills in the holes like Polyfilla. Having pale skin I opted for 01 Invisible Light, which wasn't yet a song by the Scissor Sisters otherwise I might have found myself singing in Debenhams' Beauty Department. It is also available in Invisible Deep and Invisible Bright.

                      I prefer to apply it before foundation, but you can also apply afterwards. You need just a really tiny squirt of it. It is like a thick foundation and the texture is similar to mousse foundations. You blend it in using your fingers and it really does fill up the holes and makes them almost invisible. It has a matte finish and feels very smooth. There is no discernible smell at all.

                      One application is enough to last the whole day for me.

                      At £20 for 15ml it sounds expensive, but it lasts a very long time and is the only product I have ever found to work so well. It is quite indispensable!

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                        16.08.2013 21:50
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                        Why pay more?

                        I am currently injured, which, for a runner, is a Very Bad Thing. I have anterior tibialis tendonopathy, which actually sounds worse than it is. At least, that's what I hope! Basically the long tendon that stretches from
                        the knee to the big toe is swollen underneath the ligament that wraps around the bottom of the leg. It is very painful. In order to reduce the pain and inflammation I have been taking Tesco Ibuprofen 200mg Caplets.

                        At a cost of just 35p for 16 tablets, or just over 4p per 400mg dose, I think that these really are good value for money. The ingredients are identical to those found in the big name brands (200mg ibuprofen plus lactose and sucrose), but those are significantly more expensive. You really are just paying for the name.

                        Ibuprofen is an NSAID (Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug) designed to relieve rheumatic and muscular pain, backache, nerve pain, headache, migraine, dental pain, period pain, reduce temperatures and also alleviate the symptoms of cold and flu. A bit of an all-rounder! I've used it in the past for most of those.

                        The maximum daily dose is 6 caplets (1200mg) and you should leave 4 hours between doses. In my experience it is best to take them on a full stomach, so immediately after breakfast, lunch and dinner is the best way to spread them out across the day. Unfortunately the pain-killing properties don't seem to last quite that long though. I notice a reduction in pain for up to 3 hours, then it starts to creep back up on me. Unfortunately ibuprofen also makes me feel a little sick, although this could be down to the lactose content as I am dairy intolerant.

                        The caplets are small and easy to swallow thanks to their elongated shape and sugar coating. There's nothing I hate more than those round, dry, powdery tablets I was given as a child, but thankfully there are no such issues here. If the lactose content is the price to pay for this ease of swallowing, then I'll live with that.

                        There a number of contra-indications to taking ibuprofen, such as previous or existing stomach ulcers and pregnancy, among other things. Please ensure that you read the packet and the advice label before taking any drug.

                        If you are able to take ibuprofen then I can highly recommend buying these over one of the named brands, as the results are identical but the price most certainly isn't!

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                          15.08.2013 22:06
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                          Lovely lipstick, if you can keep it on your lips

                          I am a self-confessed Clinique Freak. It's entirely my mum's fault, as she got me into it when I was a teenager. I only own one Long Last Lipstick, and that is thanks to mum too. She bought colour 76 Plum Matte for herself, but decided the colour didn't suit her ruddy complexion. Luckily it goes rather well with my alabaster skin tone, so it became mine!

                          The case is very elegant and made from a silver coloured metal. It is very robust and can take a fair bit of abuse being carried around in handbags and such like. No cracked cases here!

                          This is one of the few lipsticks that can be applied straight from the stick successfully. I find most lipsticks are better applied with a brush, but Long Last just glides on evenly and smoothly. The colour is deep it has a real luxury feel. Some lipsticks feel quite drying on the lips, but this feels soft and moisturising.

                          But (there's always a but!), it does transfer off your lips quite easily onto food, drinking vessels, and if you're not careful, your hands. It still looks perfect on the lips, with no gaps or smudges, but it just isn't nice to leave behind lipstick marks on your coffee cup. Blotting eliminates this, but then some of the luxuriousness is lost. The best plan is just to avoid eating and drinking while wearing it!

                          Sadly Plum Matte is no longer available, but there are 19 shades to suit most skin tones. It costs £17 on the Clinique website and at Clinique counters, which does make it a pricey option considering that you wouldn't want to wear it to go out for dinner or drinks. Still a nice product though if you just want to look and feel good. And of course, like all Clinique products, it is allergy tested, so no nasty reactions to worry about.

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                          11.08.2013 15:41
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                          A good all-rounder.

                          Running Fitness magazine is published by Kelsey Publishing, it comes out monthly and costs £2.99 per issue. It is probably the main competitor to the well established Runner's World Magazine, and it is currently the only running magazine to which I have a subscription.

                          I have been a subscriber for a good number of years now, probably 6 or 7. When I first took up running I was keen to read everything I could, and I subscribed to both Running Fitness and Runner's World. I enjoyed reading both, but when leaner times came and I had to cut back on my expenses it was Running Fitness that I chose to keep.

                          I'd say it is aimed at recreational runners who aren't complete beginners, up to club level competitive athletes. The articles are interesting and written with the assumption that the reader has some background knowledge. They also tend to include articles on the latest sports science research, which was notably absent in Runner's World.

                          The major drawback of Running Fitness though, is the shoddy proof-reading. I have read some absolute howlers in there. They used to have a regular feature called 'Role of Honour'. I pointed out the spelling error on their Facebook page and, funnily enough, that hasn't appeared in the magazine since! One article managed to spell heel strike and running gait as 'heal strike' and 'running gate'. Dear oh dear! I've also noted half finished sentences and editing errors such as incorrect photographs placed next to reviews.

                          Each month the features include:

                          Photo of the month - Usually a professional photograph of a runner or runners in a beautiful setting.

                          Diary of an anonymous female runner - This doesn't really interest me as it seems to be aimed at middle-aged women with children.

                          Running Into Your Future - A review of a new technical gadget or app. I find these quite entertaining.
                          Insight - This month we have an explanation of Kicksana, which seems to be an invented sport that can supposedly help runners.

                          Hot Topic - Looking at the latest scientific research. This is one my favourite items in the magazine.
                          Column by Charlie Webster - slightly dull if I'm honest.
                          Inside Stories - A couple of paragraphs from each of the magazine's 4 major contributors. This is usually a good read.

                          The Postbox - Reader letters.

                          Upfront Fitness Essentials- A 'masterclass', usually on style or injury prevention/rehab, a one-page profile of an elite athlete plus training tips. This is often repetitive and when you've read a number of issues of the magazine you start to notice the same things popping up, just worded slightly differently.

                          Upfront Motivation Mind and Body - Inspiring Runner - usually a 'normal' runner who runs for charity or has battled the odds to run, Book Review, Music - usually apps to create running playlists.

                          Upfront Nutrition - Recipe of the month taken from Kate Percy's books Run Faster Food and Fuel Smart for Race Day. General food facts and latest research. I rather like this page.

                          Ask the Experts - more reader letters presented as a Q&A.

                          Gear Guide - Reviews of the latest shoes, kit or nutrition.

                          Interview - This month is Jess Ennis-Hill. This is usually well written and interesting.

                          A selection of articles - This month we have meditation, optimum nutrition, pain free running, The Marathon de Sables and more kit reviews. These vary from very interesting to almost patronising.

                          Endurance - Features on ultra races and triathlon. I find these rather dull personally.

                          Charity News - More 'normal' runners stories.

                          60 second interview - Usually with a TV 'personality' I've never heard of who happens to also be a runner.

                          Clubwatch - A write up of a running club. Probably only interesting to members of that club.

                          Event Reports - Enjoyable write ups of recent races.

                          Event Locator - A reasonably comprehensive race listing of upcoming events.

                          Home Brew - A column by sports scientist John Brewer. This is always enjoyable.

                          The advertising isn't intrusive and is all relevant to runners. Often I find the adverts as interesting as the articles and I've found some good races to enter via their ads in this magazine.

                          On the whole it is a good all-rounder. After 6 or 7 years I'm only just now beginning to tire of it, and that is mainly because my own focus as a runner has moved on. I can highly recommend it to most recreational and club runners, especially those who either don't care about typos, or enjoy picking them out!

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