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chilinirvana4417

chilinirvana4417
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Member since: 16.09.2010

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    • More +
      30.10.2010 10:46
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      Highly recommended for the recreational diver

      When I started diving I was told that if I wanted to dive regularly then the first piece of kit I should invest in is a dive computer. I must confess it took me a while to buy my computer, as I kept getting distracted by boots, fins, mask etc (all of the cheaper items!), but when I came to doing my first non-guided dives this year with my buddy I decided that it was about time that I bit the bullet and shelled out for one.

      {Choosing my dive computer}

      I always research expensive products thoroughly, and am very much a believer in the old mantra "you get what you pay for", so I spent a good deal of time researching various dive computer options, and speaking to other divers for recommendations. As it turns out I could probably have cut down the research time as every diver I spoke to recommended Suunto, and in particular the Vyper model I am reviewing. Suunto is widely recognised as a leading brand for dive computers, and the Vyper appears to be the mid-range choice for recreational divers.

      {Cost and Availability}

      As I have said in previous reviews, different websites and dive shops all stock different gear at varying prices - whilst the latter is true with the Vyper the former is not, this computer can be found on almost any diving website, and in most shops. The price does vary wildly, and I found that it ranged from £185 (which I paid for mine) up to around £240.

      A word of caution - Sunnto Vyper is a different model to the Vyper Air which is a more technical version of the computer, and is far more expensive. You should also be careful that you select a dive computer for use on your wrist, and not a computer to use on your octopus.

      {Style}

      The Vyper is a fairly bulky looking computer, with a large round face, and a wrist strap to secure it to you whilst diving. I highly recommend getting a lanyard to add security - if your wrist strap fails then it should stay on long enough using the lanyard for you to do something about it, and not watch your £200 computer float off!

      Although quite bulky, it does look good, and has a nice easy to read display - more of that later.

      {Set-up}

      The Vyper comes with a very comprehensive user manual, which guides you through set-up (which really involves just turning it on and changing the time), and the various uses for the computer.

      I would recommend spending a good bit of time before you dive reading through the various sections of the manual to check that you know what each symbol on the computer means, not doing so could cause you to put yourself in danger whilst diving.

      {Use}

      The Vyper can be used to plan dives, as well as review previous dive data, and can be used on regular air and Nitrox.

      Using the computer is very simple, you can turn it on when out of the water and it will display 'surface mode' which will give you the temperature, and after a while will switch back to the time and date. Once you have descended past 1.2 metres the computer will switch to dive mode, and will display various data including the temperature, depth, dive time, and no decompression limit for the dive. If you read the manual you will also notice other features such as the 'no-fly' symbol indicating that you cannot fly after your dive, and bars indicating how much no decompression time you have left.

      Whilst diving you can activate the backlight (please see instructions) which helps to see the display more clearly, but will use up your battery more quickly than without so only use it if necessary.

      The data displayed is extremely useful whilst diving, as you can monitor your depth, and if you have done a dive plan you will be able to see that you are keeping within your dive profile. The computer provides other information such as depth ceiling, which helps to ensure you are diving safely within your limits.

      As you ascend the computer will monitor your ascent rate to ensure that it is safe, if you begin to ascend too quickly it will beep at you and flash for you to slow down - this is very useful as at times it can be difficult to tell how quickly you are ascending, particularly if you are in high visibility surroundings.

      The computer will also automatically ask you to do a 3 minute safety stop at 5 metres, and will count this time down for you as well - again very useful. If you break your dive profile then the computer will make you do emergency decompression stops where necessary, however this should always be avoided and dives should always be planned in advance of the dive, and the plans adhered to - the computer is not a substitute for common sense!

      {Dive History}

      The memory function is very useful, and you can go back and look through the profile of each dive that you have completed, which are recorded in chronological order. Each profile has four screens which provide various data including average depth, temperature, dive time, whether there were any issues on your dive such as incorrect ascent rate, and you can even sit and watch your dive profile data which is recorded every 30 seconds on your dive - this can be altered in settings to more or less frequent.

      If you want to bookmark part of your dive you can press a button underwater which will place a mark in your dive profile, this will flash when looking through the history.

      {Conclusions}

      This is a fantastic dive computer, with functions too numerous to detail in a review like this. It can be used with air or nitrox, and can be used to plan dives, do dives, and review dives. All in all an excellent piece of kit and something no diver should be without.

      CAUTION: Dive computers should not be used in isolation - always plan your dives with tables or the eRDP to ensure that you have a safe diving profile.

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    • Night Nurse Liquid / Pain Relief / 30 Readings / 30 Ratings
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      30.10.2010 10:18
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      Highly recommended to those who have been struck down with winter colds...

      It seems winter is paying an early visit to us this year, and as such I have so far managed to catch 3 colds since the end of my summer holiday in August! Thankfully, I always have a bottle of night nurse in the medicine cabinet for such occasion.

      {Cost and Availability}

      Night Nurse is not the cheapest product around at around £4-5 depending on where you shop, but it is widely available at local/high street pharmacies, and behind the pharmacy counter at most supermarkets. I have tried an own brand Night Nurse from one of the high street stores and was very disappointed - the money saved was not worth it!

      {Use}

      Night Nurse is a thick green liquid, with a strong menthol type taste, which almost feels alcoholic.

      All bottles of Night Nurse come with a plastic dosage cup in which you measure the amount of liquid that you need (20ml for adults), and then take the medicine from.

      I find that this is the biggest disadvantage with using the medicine, as you always get a bit left in the bottom of the cup which is hard to get out!

      Moving on from this minor issue, I have always found the taste of Night Nurse to be reasonably pleasant, if a little strong, and once swallowed provides a warming feeling in your chest and stomach. As the name would suggest this should only be taken at night as it causes drowsiness (which is probably why most people take it anyway).

      I have always found that around 20 minutes after taking Night Nurse I drift off to sleep, and usually get a good 8 hours fairly undisturbed sleep from it, which is particularly important if you are not feeling well - and possibly more important for your partner as they are less likely to be kicked/elbowed/pushed out of bed whilst you are tossing and turning!

      As to whether this helps speed up recovery, it probably does not - I am led to believe that taking painkillers actually prolongs symptoms slightly, although arguably the interim relief is worth this. This product does however allow you to have a restful nights sleep, which as I have said is extremely important when you are ill.

      {Conclusions}

      A very effective product that helps to relieve symptoms while you are sleeping, and give you a decent, restful night's sleep. Please ensure that you always read the label for dosage and use.

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      • More +
        29.10.2010 22:44
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        Highly recommended to all divers

        As I have explained in my dive boot review, I found myself getting frequent foot cramps during dives when I first began dive training. I therefore decided to invest in my own pair of fins to prevent this dive discomfort.

        {Cost and Availability}

        Although different dive sites vary greatly in what they stock and the prices they offer, I have noticed that these fins are stocked across a huge range of websites, as well as shops at dive sites.

        I paid around £70 for my pair of these fins, it is always worth shopping around however to get the best deal on at the time.

        {Style}

        These fins look great, I have the blue pair and I often notice underwater they really stand out, this is particularly useful when diving in the UK as everyone looks pretty similar clad in their head to toe neoprene!

        I have also had compliments on these fins everywhere I have been with them - which can't be bad!!

        {Use}

        While diving I find I never get cramp using these fins, they are easy to use, and at times it barely feels like I have anything on my feet at all. They are also great for getting power behind your finkicks, they are ideal for both slow and fast finners - my dive buddy also has a pair and our dive styles could not be more different, I think that these would suit anyone unless you really want a small short pair of fins as these are quite long.

        They are not the lightest pair of fins at just under 2kg, but nor are they the heaviest around. I took them on holiday to Egypt earlier in the year, and will be taking them out to the Philippines this year as well. Although they add a bit of baggage weight I feel that having my own fins with me is totally worth it.

        I did find that the fin straps were very stiff and difficult to use at first, this eased off as I started using them frequently, however I decided to swap them out for a set of spring straps - which I would definitely recommend to anyone, as long as you are very careful with them as they have a tendancy to fall off/get stolen!

        The fins themselves are very robust, and have lasted several bumpy trips stuffed in a kit bag, and in different climates with absolutely no wear and tear at all.

        {Conclusions}

        I would highly recommend these to any diver, whether for use at home or abroad, they perform well, and look great with no foot cramps!

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        • More +
          29.10.2010 19:21
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          A reasonably priced well performing dive hood

          I decided to buy a dive hood after having completed a dive course in the UK and experiencing difficulties in finding a hood with the club that fit me properly - I have a fairly large head so spent quite some time searching through all the tatty old hoods trying to find XL!

          {Cost and Availability}

          As I have said in previous reviews all dive sites tend to stock different equipment, at varying prices, so it is always worth having a good search to find the cheapest price for the equipment you want to buy. This hood came up on a few sites, and I have spotted it in a couple of shops at dive sites I have used in the UK. I paid just under £30 for mine, but I am sure if you keep an eye on prices you could probably find it cheaper if you are a stickler for getting the cheapest price.

          {Style}

          I'm not sure why I am even writing this section, anyone who has ever worn/seen anyone wearing a hood will know that no matter who you are and what you look like, everyone looks like an idiot wearing one of these things! This is however, a nice looking hood - at least while it is not on your head!

          {Use}

          As I have already said I have a fairly large head, so donning a hood can be a little traumatic for me. I have found this hood very easy to put on however, I roll the neck section up slightly to the outside of the hood and then pull on with both hands, rolling the neck section back down and then adjusting the whole hood to fit properly. Once on the hood fits nicely, and unlike some others it doesn't feel too tight around your neck.

          The hood has edging which covers a good portion of your face, however you have to make sure you have all of your mask seal under the hood to avoid any mask flooding.

          The hood forms a good seal with your wetsuit, and I don't generally notice a lot of flushing during a dive. It keeps your head nice and warm (with the 5/7mm thickness) which is very important during a cold dive!

          One issue I have had with this hood is that the chin tends to come up too far on my mouth, and I recently had to start tucking it under my chin during a dive to avoid it pushing on the bottom of my regulator which is slightly uncomfortable, but I don't particularly notice it during the dive. This isn't much of an issue in water at 13 degrees and above, but if you are diving in water as cold as around 6-9 degrees you might miss that extra bit of chin coverage! This also contributes to an interesting problem that my buddy and I call "cone head" whereby you clear your mask and all of the air expelled goes straight into hood - very attractive! This is mildly irratating and can mostly be avoided if you hold onto the top of your hood while you clear.

          Again this one issue is probably due to my disproportionately large head!

          {Conclusions}

          Overall I would highly recommend this hood for UK diving, it offers a good degree of protection from the cold, and avoids most flushing problems. It is reasonably priced, and having used it on around 15 dives now I have not had any significant problems at all.

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          29.10.2010 18:58
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          Great for all dive geeks!

          I decided to invest in some 5mm gloves for my UK diving, after having unsuccessfully used a pair of 3mm gloves during some cold water training, quickly tearing the palm and making them fairly unusable! After much searching I found these gloves by Waterproof, who I know to be a good make, so decided to give them a go on my next trip to Capernwray dive centre in the Lakes, this October. To add some context the water temperature was 13 degrees, and the air temperature low for the two days was 12 degrees.

          {Cost and Availability}

          As with much dive gear the availability of these gloves depends on which websites you look at, different dive sites sell different gear and often at quite different prices, so you may need to browse a few before you find the best price for these gloves.

          I paid £25 for my pair, which I dont think is the cheapest around but I was buying other cheaper items which brought the overall cost down. I believe the cheapest I have seen them is around £22, and they also tend to sell these in local dive shops as well.

          {Selecting the right pair}

          This is a review on the 5mm five fingered pair of Waterpoof Cruz gloves, but I would strongly advise before buying any gloves that you try them on, and think about what you need them for. For example, I already have a 3mm pair of gloves that I use for tropical diving when necessary, therefore these gloves are purely for UK use. I also don't do any UK wreck diving, and although qualified to 40 metres I don't have any intention to dive much deeper than around 20 metres - therefore I decided 5mm would be thick enough (7mm are available), and I decided on the five fingered version over the mittens as I wanted extra flexibility and dexterity.

          You can usually try a range of gloves on in your local dive store, or in the shop at your dive site. Not only do you need to consider what you need from your gloves, but you need to try on the different sizes as these vary quite considerably from make to make - I had a medium pair of Typhoon gloves which were slightly too small, and I bought a medium pair of these gloves which are slightly too big! Further advice on dive glove choice can be found online (see October issue of DIVE magazine also).

          {Style}

          I admit it - these gloves just look quite cool! I am a dive geek, and I get far too excited when ordering new equipment, so when these arrived through the post I was not disappointed - they even come in a nice box (and not just a plastic bag!).

          {Use}

          Now for the science part...

          No not really - quite simply these gloves come with an underseal, as well as a top layer which zips over your wrist and offers you extra protection from the water.

          Putting the gloves on wasn't the easiest job in the world - but to be honest this really is a universal issue when you go beyond 3mm, and particularly when you are dealing with cold water. I have been told that using petrol station plastic gloves underneath allows you to put the gloves on more easily, although I have not yet tested out this theory.

          Once on I found the fingers to be a little too long for my own - I think however this was my fault for not having tried on the gloves before buying (hence my warning) as I had previously had the same size elsewhere and they had fit reasonably well.

          Underwater the gloves offered a lot of protection from the cold, my hands didn't once feel cold during our 4 dives, and they were extremely comfortable as well.

          As for dexterity these are not the most flexible gloves on the market, but I had no problem using my BCD, dive computer, compass, or my underwater camera. I also felt confident that I could have operated any of my kit in an emergency with them on, and if I had needed to remove them quickly this would not have been a problem at all.

          Although I had no issue with touching sharp objects while I was diving on this trip, the gloves felt very thick and durable, and when holding onto window holes on boats etc in the quarry I certainly felt that they offered plenty of protection to your hands when dealing with awkward and sharp edges.

          Back on dry land these were very quick to remove, and another great benefit is that they don't look anything like the stock dive centres carry so you're unlikely to lose them to an unobservant student diving on the same day if you've put them down for a moment!

          Another factor worth considering is that these were really easy to wash - and more importantly dried extremely quickly, just a couple of hours on a radiator and they were completely dry.

          {Conclusions}

          As a dive geek I thoroughly recommend these gloves - they're tough, fairly easy to use, are reasonably priced and look great; what more could you ask for?

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        • Clinique Facial Soap Mild / Soaps / 40 Readings / 39 Ratings
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          26.10.2010 15:42
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          Highly recommended

          I've never been a fan of shopping for clothes, shoes, or toiletries. Therefore when I was given a bar of Clinique soap for Christmas I kept my fingers crossed that this could put an end to my search for the perfect facial soap for me.

          {Cost and Availability}

          Most people will already know Clinique is not the cheapest choice for any product - as this was a gift I am not sure of the exact price paid (and I know that as it was bought in the US it was significantly cheaper than prices here). I am also aware that you can get a deal on buying the soap, toner, and moisturiser from shops such as Boots who stock a large range of Clinique products.

          {Use}

          The soap comes wrapped in foil and in a plastic tray with lid, which is very useful for storage in your bathroom. I find that it is best to leave the lid off the tray when you have used the soap so that it dries back out again, and does not leave a 'sludge' behind on the tray.

          It lathers up fairly easily, although when fresh out of the packet this takes longer than when you have been using it for a while. Once you have started to rub the soap into your face it lathers up further, and is easily rinsed off. It leaves your face feeling very clean and your skin refreshed. I also find that it is very effective at helping to remove your make up, which helps to eliminate an extra night time job for me!

          I also find this soap very easy to take away with me when I go on trips, if there is no weight considerations I simply put the lid back on the tray and take it as it is, however if I am going abroad I simply slice a piece off the end and store it in a small tupperware box. I have been using the same small piece for a few months now and it lasts plenty of time.

          {Conclusions}

          I would highly recommend this soap to anyone, although it is not the cheapest around it is extremely effective. I would recommend anyone who wants to try this out to visit your local stockist and ask for samples as they will often give away a small bar of soap, or some sample bottles of the liquid soap as well as other products. I did not do this myself as the person buying me the gift knew my skin type, but I know friends have gone about it this way, and the sample products are also very useful for taking on holiday.

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            25.10.2010 17:26
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            Highly recommended

            Like many people beginning their PADI Open Water Diver course I had trouble with the mask removal element of the course, whereby you remove your mask completely underwater, replace it, and clear. It transpired after a couple of sessions that I had not been using a mask that really fit me appropriately, and I continually experienced problems with my mask, such as it filling with water upon stride entry - not ideal for when you are learning to dive!

            {Cost and Availability}

            This mask cost £49 at retail price, and I paid £44 using my discount rate as a member of my dive club (this can help to save you money and gain a kind of 'loyalty' kudos with your club, however it is always worth checking around for the higher price tag equipment as prices can be vastly lower online).

            I was able to trial using the mask in the training pool before committing to buying it - this is another perk of buying equipment through your dive club.

            {Use}

            I have used my mask on over 40 dives now, and it has performed consistently on every single one. I always feel secure when using it, and get very little water ingress during a dive.

            The mask has an excellent range of vision, and does not cut this off in the middle like some other masks do. I never find myself having to strain to look at anything, and it rarely 'fogs' up either.

            The nose piece is also very effective, and I find it remains sealed for the majority of the dive, with a little water ingress on occasion.

            It is also worth mentioning that I have quite a large head - and this mask is a perfect size for me, another mask I would recommend from a size perspective is the Tusa Visualtor which is slightly larger than this one, and probably more suited for men.

            {Conclusions}

            Overall this mask performs brilliantly, and apart from my dive computer is definitely my top piece of equipment, and I never go on a dive without it!

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            25.10.2010 17:10
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            Highly recommended

            When I first started diving I used to have problems with getting cramp and foot rub from my rented boots/fins. Having spoken to a few other divers about this problem I found that I wasn't alone with this issue, however it can be difficult to ascertain what boots/fins are most suited to your feet.

            Luckily enough, these were used on a course I took with a dive centre, after trying a couple of sizes on I found that the 42/43 fit my feet best (I am a size 7/8 with very wide feet, a friend of mine has 43/44 and is a size 9).

            {Cost and Availability}

            These boots were very reasonable, and the price varies depending on where you shop. Most dive shops will charge slightly higher than prices you can find online, however if you belong to a dive club you may get a discount - or by spending in their shop you may attract future discounts so it is always worth considering buying some of your equipment through a club.

            I bought my boots for around £25, but I am sure that some shopping around at various times could find you a cheaper pair than this.

            The boots are widely available, however it is worth remembering that not all dive shops sell all of the same products, and online shops more often than not charge you postage. I usually buy a few items at a time, building my basket on several sites and then assessing which is the cheapest overall.

            {Style}

            To be honest, I would say there are swankier looking boots on the market, however these boots are quite plain and therefore dont look out of place with any of your dive gear. Let's face it - no-one looks good in full dive kit, especially those of us who also dive in the UK, so looks really aren't the most important factor here.

            {Use}

            I have now used these boots on just over 30 dives, in both UK waters, and the Red Sea. Despite being quite thick (5mm) they are fairly easy to get on - certainly a great deal easier than the equivalent thickness of wetsuit!

            There are two elements of use with these boots - land use, and diving use.

            For use on land these boots are very comfortable, they have a durable sole, and keep your feet stable on a range of surfaces. For example, when diving in Dahab I was often required to walk over rocks on beaches in order to do short entries, even with this uneven and jagged surface I remained comfortable.

            These are also great for wandering around on dive boats, and have excellent grip on the soles so you wont slip on the many puddles of water that seem to accumulate around the deck.

            In water they remain extremely comfortable, you can use them with adjustable fins, and they have a lip on the heel which allows you to hold the straps on securely.

            The seal on the boot prevents flush while diving, filling slowly on entry and then allowing the water to warm up whilst finning which will keep your feet warm.

            The zips are also easy to use, and will stay in place during your dive/surface interval.

            {Overall}

            I would highly recommend these boots, they are extremely comfortable both on land and during diving, as well as being very easy to use.

            One drawback with these boots (and I think probably most others) is that after a day's diving your boots will smell quite vile - this appears to happen when you have left them on all day with water in them. When in a warm climate I like to take the boots off when I can to empty them and give them a quick rinse - in the UK I do not take them off until the end of my dive day as I like to reduce the amount of neoprene I have to wrestle with prior to each dive, and because the boots offer extra warmth.

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            07.10.2010 21:23
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            Recommended!

            As I have said in a previous review, I am not a girly girl, and derive no pleasure from shopping for any items such as cosmetics or shoes. Therefore, when it came to buying a new moisturiser (after my Christmas supply from the previous year had run out) I wanted to find something that I would be able to find for a reasonable price in a range of shops, and that did what it was supposed to. Simple. Well not Simple, but Olay!

            {Cost}

            The cost is very variable across different shops depending upon offers available at the time. I believe my last tub was around £4, you can often find this on offer in Tescos or other similar supermarkets, so it is widely available and I can just a bung a tub in with the weekly shop - perfect.

            {Use}

            The cream comes in a pot with a screw top style lid, which I find quite useful over the tube or pump versions as I think its easier to use, and you reduce the chances of accidentally projectile pumping it onto the carpet, or standing on the tube and watching it redecorate the floor.

            It is quite a thick cream, and I find that an amount the size of a broad bean (not a pea!) is about right. I do find that if I have a little too much it makes my skin a little oily, so be careful of this.

            {Effect}

            What can I say - it moisturises my skin, which is really all I am after. I have not found my skin to be excessively dry or oily since I have been using this cream, and I generally find my skin feels nice and soft. It smells pleasant (although not unlike baby cream), and it sinks in very quickly, so if you are applying make up straight after this is not really a problem.

            {Conclusions}

            I would recommend this to anyone who does not have particularly problematic skin, it does what it says on the box, and at a very reasonable price. A tub lasts me a couple of months, which I can't grumble at. It also has UVA protection which is an added bonus!

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            • Hush Puppies Shire Boots / Shoes / 22 Readings / 21 Ratings
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              07.10.2010 20:56
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              Recommended for the less girly amongst us

              I have always loathed shoe shopping, I seem to be missing the gene that most women were born with when it comes to enjoying trawling shoe shops looking for new work boots. When my old pair had finally given up on me having become modern day instruments of torture, I headed straight for Schuh and prayed to find something vaguely suitable within 20 minutes. I wasn't disappointed, as I found these boots straightaway, and in my size, which is a feat in itself!

              {Cost}

              These boots cost me £65 from Schuh, having done an internet search since I haven't noticed them on sale anywhere else for less, and in fact they seem to be something of an exclusive to Schuh stores (and online shop).

              {Style}

              These are biker style leather ankle boots, with a buckle around the side of each boot, and good chunky soles with excellent grips. The one issue that I have with their appearance is that when wearing my work trousers all of the boots are hidden bar the fronts, and due to my feet being larger than average for a woman (7/8) I find that my feet look almost clownish at times - although people have assured me this is not the case, so I can only hope they are telling the truth!

              {Comfort}

              One of the reasons I decided to get a pair of boots is because summer was coming to an end, and I remember last winter often having wet feet at work from the walk in. So my aim was to get boots which were high up enough on my leg to prevent water ingress, and of course waterproof in themselves, as well as being warm and comfortable.

              I haven't yet had sufficient opportunity to waterproof test them, but so far they have kept my feet dry and toasty, and the insides are extremely comfortable. They took a few days to 'break in', although this was not difficult and I only had very minor rubbing problems with them.

              {Wear and Tear}

              So far I have had minimal scuffing and they still look as good as new, which is very important for me as I am using them for work. One problem I have had is that the back of the insole has curled up slightly which has caused some minor discomfort. I don't know if this is down to the shoes, or my dodgy walking gait, but it is worth keeping an eye on.

              {Conclusions}

              Overall I would recommend these boots if you are looking for something sturdy and practical, that you can also wear in the office. These probably aren't ideal for the girliest amongst you - as I have already said I hate shopping, and this goes for many other 'girly' past times, such as make up shopping...but thats for another review perhaps!

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              • Kobayashi Cura-Heat / Pain Relief / 27 Readings / 27 Ratings
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                05.10.2010 13:54
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                Take the edge off your period pain

                Squeamish blokes look away now...

                Once a month a dark cloud is cast over the sun, and anyone who knows me runs for cover as PMT strikes and I am incapacitated for at least two days with torturous period pain...

                Okay so I know I am not the only one who suffers from this, which is really the point of this review. I have always had fairly severe period pain, which has only become worse as I have gotten older. I always hope each month that my period will fall on a weekend so that I can get the worst over outside of work - I have had to be sent home in the past - but just in case the worst happens I like to have several pain relief options available for me to take outside of the house.

                {Cost}

                These pads come in packs of three, and price may differ quite significantly depending on where you buy them. Mine usually cost around £2, but I notice a previous reviewer found hers for £1 at a poundstore - I have made a note of that! These are available fairly widely, and come in different varieties for other types of pain, however I always buy the period pain specific pads.

                {Use}

                You cannot apply these pads directly to your skin, which is a bit of a drawback compared to other (more expensive) alternatives such as deep heat patches. The packet also claims that these may work for up to 8-12 hours, I find that I probably get about 4-6 hours of real relief from these patches before I want to change it - note that you are only meant to use 2 of these patches on the same area in any 24 hour period, and you cannot apply any other heat source to the pad whilst wearing it.

                They are air activated, so you simply open the individually sealed packet, press the patch onto your underwear on your front/back or both, and you will feel it starting to warm up.

                {Does it work}

                I wont lie - these wont combat the most serious period pain, but they do help if you use them along with taking painkillers (I usually take paracetemol and ibuprofen). At home I like to have a small hot water bottle for the small of my back, and a larger one for my abdomen, but if you're out and about these are fairly effective - and if you're out and about the chances are you don't need two hot water bottles strapped to you anyway!

                One disadvantage is that these pads are quite bullky compared to some of the more expensive ones available, so I would advise wearing a long top/jumper on any days that you are wearing these under thin trousers as you might have lumps and bumps showing! You may also hear the odd bit of rustling if you move around a lot!

                {Conclusions}

                Overall I would recommend these to anyone who needs a bit of extra pain relief at that time of the month. If you can afford it however I would usually opt for one of the more expensive patches which you can apply directly to your skin, are more flexible with your movements, and are very discreet.

                As an aside, if you are experiencing unusually serious period pain I would always recommend going to your doctor, even if you do not want to be put on the pill or similar it is worth getting checked out - I once put this off for over a year and it turned out my increasing pain was due to another problem which ended up requiring surgery, so it is always worth the peace of mind, your doctor will probably also be able to prescribe you more effective pain relief.

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                  05.10.2010 13:30
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                  Recommended for anyone battling with their 'do on a daily basis

                  I have always had rather unmanageable hair, as a child my knots and tangles could render the hardiest comb completely useless, and I frequently had an afro-esque hair style that it seemed no products could tame.

                  As I got older I discovered there were shampoos and conditioners other than the 2 for £2 ranges, and decided it was about time I invested in my hair.

                  I had been recommended Aussie by a friend of mine, she raved about it for several weeks after she started using it so I decided to put some of my student loan towards something other than beer and give it a go.

                  {Cost}

                  Okay so its not prohibitively expensive, as a student I was weighing up the cost of this stuff against the amount of beer I could buy - but I kept my resolve and went for the Aussie.

                  Depending on where you buy it the shampoo (I am including this in my review) and conditioner will each cost somewhere between £3.50 and £4. The good news is that these days they are readily available in stores such as Tesco, as well as places like Boots and Superdrug. Always shop around a little, one of these shops will have an offer on, which is usually of the 2 for 1, or 2 for £5 variety.

                  {Use}

                  This stuff is very easy to use, with a press down lid to open the nozzle you can also be sure that knocking over the bottle wont cause any sticky spillage, and they are also suitable for travelling. I recently went to Italy for 2 weeks and my partner and I shared a bottle of each of the shampoo and conditioner, which survived all of our transfers, and lasted the whole time with some left over.

                  {Effect}

                  Using the shampoo and conditioner together leaves your hair feeling extra soft, and looking shiny and healthy. This is meant to be for dry and damaged hair, and I would recommend if your hair does not fall into this category that you find an Aussie product to better suit you - a friend of mine tried this and she ended up with quite greasy hair as she does not have problems with dryness.

                  The smell of this product is great and will leaving you feeling fresh and clean, I have had lots of compliments about my hair smelling nice after using this, and the smell tends to linger for a couple of days.

                  I also straighten my hair on a frequent basis and find that this product helps to keep my hair soft and limits the damage. I would also recommend using a heat protection spray if you are straightening your hair often.

                  {Conclusions}

                  I would highly recommend the Aussie range to anyone - and this product in particular to those of us with stubborn and dry hair. I have very long and thick hair and this is the only thing that has ever really worked on a long term basis. I would however recommend that every few months you switch to a different Aussie product (such as Long hair) as I find that this product is most effective when your hair gets an infrequent break.

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                    04.10.2010 19:20
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                    Highly recommended for all!

                    I first used Olive Branch shower gel a few years ago when I got a small bottle with a Lush gift box for Christmas. I had never been enamoured by the thought of Lush products, but this shower gel turned me around.

                    {The Cost}

                    A small bottle (100g) costs £3.90, a medium bottle (250g) costs £7.75, and a large bottle (500g) costs £13.95. You may also find one of the small or medium bottles in a Lush gift box, but you will need to check the labels to see what's included.

                    I usually buy the biggest bottle as it lasts for months, however if you are going on holiday then the small bottle is very useful for taking in your luggage. Keep it after you have used the shower gel and you can refill it - these bottles last quite a long time if you are careful with them, I have been travelling with the same one for about a year now!

                    {Use}

                    You only need a small amount of this shower gel for a full body wash, and the smell will last on your skin for hours. The item is described as mediterranean mandarin gel, and whilst it does smell citrusy, the smell itself is quite difficult to describe. I always say it is not the girliest of smells, it is fresh and deep, and almost masculine in a way - however I would say men and women could both quite happily use this without smelling too girly/manly* (*delete as appropriate).

                    {Conclusions}

                    I would highly recommend this shower gel to anyone, of any age. This is a great gel to use first thing in the morning to wake you up and make you feel refreshed, and the smell will linger with you through the day. Although not the cheapest shower gel out there (nothing in Lush is the cheapest of anything) I feel that it is worth it for the fresh feeling I have after using Olive Branch.

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                      04.10.2010 13:28
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                      Highly recommended for adventurers and beach bums alike!

                      I decided to pick up some mini shampoos and conditioners when going on a 3 week backpacking holiday to Borneo a couple of years ago, and after a bit of a search through Boots I settled on the Mark Hill Holiday Sun Minis.

                      {Reason for choice}

                      Compared to some mini bottles these are actually a good size, containing 75ml, and came in a good solid feeling bottle. It also had a lid which felt as though it could withstand some abuse before falling off and soaking everything in my backpack with shampoo! The last element of my choice was that it offers some protection from the sun, being that I was going away to a very hot country (in August) and was going to be abusing my hair with a lot of time in the sea as well, I decided that this could only help matters.

                      {Cost}

                      It's not the cheapest around at £1.95 a bottle, however look out for 3 for 2 offers as they tend to crop up fairly frequently in Boots, particularly around Spring time, but they have a habit of remaining full price during summer months.

                      {Use}

                      As hoped my bottles survived the 18 hour flight, as well as the many rickety taxi and boat journies I took in Borneo.

                      The bottle has a press down nozzle, so you push to open it, squeeze some into your hand, and push down to close it again - this all helps to keep the conditioner where you want it and not all over the contents of your luggage!

                      The conditioner smells fantastic, it has a strong fruity scent and I noticed particularly every time I entered water it would linger around the whole group for ages! It helped me feel fresh and clean, even where I was staying in some fairly grotty hostels!

                      I decided to play it safe and gauged my need for use at around one bottle for each week I was away. I actually ended up washing and conditioning my hair every single day on this holiday, and got through around 2 and a half bottles - this works out quite nicely on the 3 for 2 deal in Boots, as I had also invested in the shampoos which lasted at almost the same rate.

                      The conditioner did what it was meant to - it left my hair feeling soft and healthy, and I actually had a fair few comments as to the condition of my hair considering the environment we were in most of the time out there (hot, sometimes windy, limited shower facilities, and lots of sea use).

                      The only down side to this product is that it can be somewhat difficult to get the last bits out of the bottle when it has nearly run out.

                      {Conclusions}

                      I would highly recommend this to anyone going on holiday and wanting to take mini toiletries - they are light, compact, and can withstand a good deal of abuse without breaking. The conditioner smells great, and leaves your hair feeling healthy and clean. One bottle lasted around a week on my fairly long and very thick hair, and did well against a lot of sea salt and diving abuse!

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                      03.10.2010 20:06
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                      Recommended for all of you pasty Brits!

                      In the last two years I have been on holidays which should have had me returning to the UK with a glorious tan - unfortunately my skin seems to refuse to change from my not quite pasty white to anything beyond enhanced freckles no matter my destination (3 weeks in Borneo did not even improve this situation!)

                      I therefore bit the bullet and decided I needed some cosmetic help.

                      I am not one for fake tan, and certainly wouldn't go in for sunbeds, so in an effort to convince myself that this was truly going to be beneficial for my skin (and not for vanity reasons) I thought I would give one of the many popular tanning moisturisers a go. I had been recommended Johnson's by a couple of friends, so plumped for their fair to medium skin lotion.

                      {Buying the product}

                      Do not make the mistake a couple of my friends have made by going up a skin tone - you will give yourself unattractive brownish streaks which do not look good, and will have you covering up your arms rather than showing off your lovely new tan (that you have somehow managed to get during the UK rainy season, or July as it is better known).

                      You will find this range in most pharmacy type shops, and in all supermarkets in the skincare section. It is fairly reasonably priced (I believe mine was just under £3), but do shop around for good deals, particularly around summer time.

                      {Using the product}

                      Lets face it, using moisturiser is not rocket science, so I wont tell you how to apply the stuff. What I will say, is make sure you have covered all visible areas equally, and wash your hands well after application (I have seen a few orange palmed ladies around).

                      One flaw with this product is it that the dispenser is not at the bottom of the bottle, so you have to start shaking it when it begins to run out. This is fine most of the time, but occasionally when you open the lid and sqeeze you will get far more than you need out of the bottle, and as it gets near empty it tends to spray a little.

                      {Effect}

                      Most importantly - does it work?

                      I noticed that my skin did take on a nice tanned glow, and it was quite subtle so I found people complimenting my skin, and not accusing me of having indulged in fake tanning. I also noticed that it is a very good moisturiser, so my skin felt soft all the time - I have continued to use it into winter not only because I don't want to return to my almost pasty whiteness, but also because I love the way it makes my skin feel.

                      As a slight aside I also love the smell of this product - and if you use it during the summer you will develop a nice holiday association with it, which may help you get through the UK even-rainier season, possibly followed by the random snowstorm season.

                      {Conclusions}

                      A great buy, subtle tanning and excellent moisturising for your skin. A big thumbs up!

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