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Well the sun's shining at last and it's reached that time of year where us parents are racking our brains of cheap and cheerful ways of entertaining the kids while making the most of the good weather.
One place we love to visit and never get bored of is Craigtoun Park.
*** Location ***
Craigtoun Country Park is located in Fife in Scotland, between Cupar and St Andrews. The first time I visited the park with my own kids I didn't know how to get there as I hadn't been since I was a child myself and had always been driven there. I googled the post code and the directions seemed pretty straight forward. Once you get to the main road between Cupar and St Andrews, Craigtoun Park is well sign posted and I had no trouble finding it myself.
*** Arriving at Craigtoun Park ***
The access road to Craigtoun Park is a tarmac road and will bring you right up to the car park at the entrance of the park, passing the golf course along the way.
The car park is large however, I would warn you to be prepared if visiting at busy times of the year. We went once on Easter Monday and only just made it into the car park, despite arriving first thing in the morning. When we left the park mid-afternoon, we found our car had been blocked right in as the staff had been directing cars to park in rows with no space in between. As a result we had a bit of a wait before we could leave the park and when we did there were cars parked all down the road leading up to it. Other than this visit though, we've never had any problems parking and have been in the busy height of summer during school holidays a few times.
Once parked, you queue at the gate to get in. It is free to enter out of season as most of the attractions only run from April through to September, however if visiting during the spring/summer months there is a small charge. I can't find details of the current prices online, but when we were there last year it was around £4 for adults and £2 or £3 for kids.
The park is open from 10.30am until 6.30pm daily.
*** In the Park ***
Once you have paid the entrance fee, everything in the park is free, with the obvious exception of the café. I love the fact that you can go and know that you can spend the whole day there if it's nice without being hit with any hidden charges.
The park has lots to offer and has something for children of all ages. The two main attractions (which are the ones that are closed out of season), are the mini steam train and the boating lake.
The train doesn't usually have too long a wait and it doesn't take long to go around, so even if you do have to wait for a couple of circuits, it wont be too long before you find yourself in one of the wee carriages. The train is not fast at all, I'm sure a fast walker would be able to keep up, and like I said it is just a small circuit around the boating lake, so takes all of 3 minutes or so from start to finish, but all the kids - the young ones in particular - seem to love this and will ride it many a time throughout the day.
The boating lake always has a longer wait and you could quite easily queue for half an hour to forty five minutes waiting for a boat to become free. Each boat is allowed out for 15 minutes, although I don't think they are overly strict with this and as you can imagine, some people will take advantage of that. Getting in and out of the boat can of course be a little entertaining to say the least, especially if you have young toddlers, but you get there in the end and once in the debates start as to who is going to row. The boating lake is almost like a figure of eight and you can decide whether to go around the island of trees or to take the challenge and get your boat under the very small bridge, where there is often a bit of a traffic jam as people get stuck. There is no room for oars when you're under the bridge so if you get stuck you're have to use the bridge to pull your boat out. Again a source of entertainment and possible embarrassment if you happen to be one of the ones that get stuck.
There are also trampolines, crazy golf, bouncy castles and a play park to help keep the kids amused for the rest of the day. The play park is quite new and is a brilliant area with diggers, high climbing frames, pipe slides and much more. There are also glasshouses, gardens and a bowling green however, I can't comment on these personally as we're usually too busy with the rest of the park.
There are huge grassy areas throughout the park which make choosing a picnic spot a chore in itself, with picnic benches, wide open spaces and shaded areas under trees.
If I remember correctly they used to have a small animal farm where they had chicks and rabbits and things which you could handle, but this was when I was younger and since having my own children they no longer have this. It's a bit of a shame, but it doesn't make the park any less appealing.
If you still have time after doing everything else the park has to offer, there is a vast amount of space perfect for football, Frisbee and other outdoor games.
The grounds are very well kept and even in winter the place is clean and tidy and well looked after.
*** Services ***
There is a small porta-cabin café, which isn't open out of season. We've eaten here once and weren't overly impressed with the experience. There is a serious lack of options on the menu, none of which are hugely appealing and we all went for a hot dog, which didn't do a very good job of filling us up, but did double the cost of our day out. If you plan on visiting I hugely recommend that you take your own food and just have a nice relaxing picnic.
There is only one toilet block in the park and the ladies only has three toilets, so during busy times, you will usually find that there is a queue. The toilets aren't immaculate, but are what you would expect from this sort of place and are always well stocked with toilet roll, soap and paper towels.
In my opinion the park could do with an additional ice cream van or something separate to the café, so that visitors can pick up ice cream and drinks on hot days, and perhaps hot drinks on the colder days.
*** Overall ***
I think Craigtoun Park is a great cheap family day out. Obviously it will depend on the weather, but generally younger children will have a blast and be very easily entertained here, whereas older children can be given a bit of freedom with parents safe in the knowledge that they are safe to explore the park.
If you're ever in the area and stuck for something to do I would highly recommend paying Craigtoun Park a visit, I'm sure it won't disappoint.
The only complaint I have really is that there is so much unmet potential within the park. There is an old bit that sits in the middle of the boating lake, which is all closed off to the public now, but it used to house a little ice cream shop and picnic tables where you could sit and watch the boats go by. It would be nice to see this bit up and running again. It would also be nice to see something done with the rest of the park. All the attractions seem to all be hunched together, with the rest being all grass and trees. Although I wouldn't like to see this area spoiled with play frames and the likes, it would be nice if there was a walkway through the trees and maybe something to encourage some wildlife into that particular area.
Overall though, I still give Craigtoun Park a five star rating. It's everything you could want from a family day out and will continue to be a regular day out for our family for many years to come.
The Play Planet is a soft play area for kids up to the age of twelve years. There are a number of similar soft play areas in Fife, but The Play Planet is my personal favourite.
*** Location of The Play Planet ***
The Play Planet is located in Donibristle Industrial Estate in Dalgety Bay, Fife, about five miles from Dunfermline. It is about a five minute walk from Dalgety Bay Train Station and there is a bus stop close by, so it's fairly easy to get to.
When entering the industrial estate from the West side of Ridge Way, it is the first building on the left, opposite Asda. There are plenty parking spaces outside the entrance and I have never had a problem getting parked here, however, there are also extra spaces round the side and plenty of space across the road at Asda.
*** Arriving at The Play Planet ***
Upon entering The Play Planet, you will find yourself in the Reception room, in front of the desk. The staff here are always friendly and if it's your first time visiting they will be happy to explain the rules, show you the play frames and answer any questions you may have. You pay at the desk before entering the play area and if you haven't already got one, you will be given a loyalty card which will be stamped to represent your visit (more on this later). Shoes and any other bits and pieces can be left in a box here and collected on the way out. This whole process is always done very quickly and efficiently and I've never had more than a few minutes wait, even at the busiest times. There are paintings on the walls of planets with their names, which can amuse children while they are waiting for their parents to pay and there is also a pay-to-ride toy which is good for this. There are many leaflets and business cards etc in this area also, which I love to have a look through. There is a wealth of kids clubs advertised and it's great for finding things to do with the children. I think it's great that the company supports local clubs and organisations in such a way.
You will be given a ticket with your name and box number on and a copy of the rules on the back. This is a great idea as it means that no one has any excuse for not knowing what is or is not allowed. If it's busy, it will also have the start time of your 2 hour session, so that you know when your time is up.
*** The Play Frames ***
Entry into the play areas is through a door with a higher than average handle - perfect to ensure little Houdini's don't escape! You enter into the seating area, with the Observatory Café directly opposite you. There are lots of tables and chairs, some comfy sofa type seats with low down coffee style tables and some higher tables with wooden chairs. There are three different play areas, two at the far left hand side and one at the far right, with the seating area in between. This is a fantastic layout and the main reason I prefer this play centre over others in the area. I have three children of different ages (one for each play area), and this layout means that I can see all three of them from wherever I choose to sit.
The smallest play area is for the under 3's. This has a gate and lots of padding on the floor. There is a ball pit, building blocks, a soft slide and many soft shapes for building and climbing on. This area is great for younger children, but I think by the time the kids reach 18 months they really need a bit more to keep them amused for the full two hours. However, in saying that, my older two love it when it's quiet because they're allowed to come and play in this area too. For some strange reason they seem to love it, building up the blocks and knocking them over, chucking shapes at each other and burying each other in the ball pit.
The second play area is the smaller of the two play frames and is suitable for under 5 year olds. It is set on two levels and has a rope swing, a slide, cargo net to walk across, tunnels and many more to keep them amused. There are many ways to get up and down between the two levels. I'd say the age range for this area is just right. My youngest daughter will be two in September and can just about manage all the activities in here, with the exception of one or two which she needs a bit of adult help with. By the time she's two I'm sure she'll be able to manage them herself. My five year old still finds this play frame fun, although it no longer amuses him for the 2 hour play time.
The third play area is the larger of the two play frames and this is for 5-12 year olds. This play frame is on three different levels and has two large bumpy slides, side-by-side, which run from the top level to the bottom. There is a smaller spiral slide, giant balls to bounce around, a rope swing and loads of other obstacles to clamber over and climb up. This is by far the favourite play frame with all three of my kids and each of them would spend the whole time in here if they could.
There are also a few ride on cars scattered about the place. There is a pay-to-ride bus which the kids love to just sit in, even when it's not working.
Before the current owner took over at the beginning of this year, there was a chalk room as well, where kids could go in and draw on the walls which resembled giant blackboards. I'm not sure what is happening with this room just now, but I'm sure there will be a use for it soon.
*** The Observatory ***
The Observatory is where you purchase your food and drinks. There is a huge selection which ranges from home baked cakes and biscuits, to baked potatoes, baguettes and my kids favourite - the lunchtime platters, where they can have a mini buffet lunch.
They do a selection of hot drinks, cans and cartons of juice, milk, water and the usual for us - a jug of juice with as many cups as you require. This is great because the kids always work up a thirst when running riot in here and you could easily find yourself having several trips to The Observatory for refills.
The staff here are really friendly as well and always happy to help with special dietary requirements or special requests. The service can be a little slow when the place is busy, but this is only to be expected and because of the type of place it is, this generally isn't a problem as the kids will be kept entertained.
I've never had any complaints about the food. It's always served fresh and at the right temperature and it's always been delicious. The only thing I have found a bit of a pain is that there just aren't enough high chairs. Considering that they should expect quite a large number of babies and toddlers, I don't think I've ever counted more than four high chairs and almost always have to wait for one to become available or sit my youngest on my knee while she eats her lunch.
*** Functions/Classes ***
There are two party rooms in The Play Planet which can be hired out for kids birthdays or to groups. My older kids have been to a couple of birthday parties at The Play Planet and have always come out raving about how great they are. I believe the kids have an hour on the soft play equipment and then an hour in the party room eating and playing games etc.
There are also various classes running in The Play Planet throughout the week. There's kids dancing classes, baby sensory classes and karate classes. From what I have seen and heard these are always well attended. However, it is good to remember that these are not run by The Play Planet themselves, but individual teachers etc. There is usually a special deal for children attending classes to have a play on the equipment either before or after.
For adults there is a fitness class one evening a week and an occasional social dance evening.
*** Other Points to Consider ***
The Play Planet is almost always fully booked during the weekends and school holidays, so if you are planning on going it could be worth a phone call beforehand to make sure there are spaces and to book yourselves in.
The centre is designed so that parents supervise their own children. This has been one of the downsides for us in the past. So many parents go along, let their children loose and sit and almost disown them for the duration. There have been a few incidents with other kids hitting my own children or pushing them out the way and their parents are nowhere to be seen.
When the centre is quiet, children can generally switch between play areas. However this can get a little confusing for the kids and when it's busy you often find children in the wrong areas. This isn't a problem for the majority as they are usually either well behaved or their parents will keep them right, however, there is the odd occasion where you can find older kids in the toddler bit demolishing everything (and every child) in sight. We did have a problem on one of our recent visits where we had to ask a member of staff to step in and rescue the babies. This was done very promptly and there were no further problems.
*** Prices ***
Under 1's are free
Over 1's are £3.95 per child per 2 hour session
Accompanying adults are free
Childminders pay only £2.95 per child Monday to Friday
£3 per child after 4pm Monday to Friday (excluding school holidays)
They're also doing a membership now, where you can choose between three different passes: £45 for 13 weeks, £90 for 26 wks or £180 for a year
Discounts are available for group bookings and as mentioned before, there are special deals for children attending classes there.
They also do a customer loyalty card as mentioned earlier, where you get the card stamped every time you're there and once you've collected 9 stamps, you get your 10th visit free.
*** My Overall Opinion ***
I really do love this place and find myself spending too much time here with my kids, particularly over the winter months. I have mentioned a couple of bad points above, but these really are few and far between and in my 5 years of taking my kids here, we've not really had any major problems, and certainly none with the staff or the play area itself.
If you're ever stuck for a place to take the kids in Fife, this would definitely be one of my top recommended places to go.
I've been on the lookout for a good make up base for a while now. I've heard so many people go on about them and really wondered what all the fuss was about. How much difference can an extra layer under your make up make, right? Cleanse, tone, moisturise. Is there really a need for another application before I start shovelling on my face in the morning?
Well I've already reviewed the first product I tried, which was also by Avon and anyone that's read it will already know I was not too impressed, so I was a bit reluctant to try another Avon one. However, I have just become an Avon Representative so I thought it only right I should give the products I'm selling a try before going elsewhere.
*** Packaging ***
This actually helped me in my decision to try another Avon make up base. The Invisible Light one which I tried previously was in a plain white tube and a bit boring and cheap looking, whereas this MagiX one just looks that little bit more expensive, which gave me the impression straight away that it would work better.
MagiX comes in a 30ml tube, which is a creamy pearlescent colour with a black screw cap lid. It doesn't have much information about the product on the tube itself. It's very minimal and simply tells you that it is a face perfector with SPF 20 and that it has a 24 month shelf life.
*** The Purpose ***
I am told that a face perfector, or make up base is used to produce a smooth canvass on which to apply your make up. This appeals to me personally because I have very uneven skin and foundation can be difficult to apply and sometimes ends up a bit patchy.
You can use it on its own or as a base before applying make up. Personally I don't really see the point in wearing it on its own and have tried it once and not noticed any difference except that it made my skin look even drier than it already is.
What Avon say: "Light-as-air gel-powder gives you a naturally flawless look, keeping shine away for up to 10 hours* Skin looks brighter and feels ultra-soft with pores and fine lines visibly smoothed*. Wear alone or under foundation. SPF20. 30ml *1 week Consumer Study #07-604 on 140 women"
*** Price and Availability ***
This is priced at £10 for the 30ml tube. I think it's a bit pricey for an Avon product, but as it has SPF20, it saves money on having to buy additional sun protection. Avon also often have offers and so it is highly likely that you can pick this up for slightly cheaper. You can purchase it directly from Avon online at www.avonshop.co.uk or from any Avon Rep.
*** Using the Product ***
Firstly, when you remove the lid, you will find that there is a nozzle to control how much of the product comes out. I think this is great and have never had any problems with having too much of the gel and not knowing what to do with it. Avon describe this as a gel, but I personally would say it's definitely more of a creamy consistency and is white in colour. I think the smell resembles that of glue and would really rather it was completely fragrance free.
When applying it, I tend to use a generous amount, without over doing it. It feels more like a gel than a cream when applied and it doesn't leave the face moist like a cream, so I guess that's why it's described as a gel. It is extremely light and doesn't feel like it's absorbed into the skin, but more like it's just sitting on top. Once smoothed over the skin it doesn't feel like it's there, but I found my skin slightly smoother to the touch. So far no visible difference though.
Once thus far you can either leave it as it is or apply your foundation over the top. I have found that foundation smoothes on a bit easier over the MagiX and my make up isn't as patchy as if I don't use this. When first applied, my make up is even and there are no dry patches. So far so good.
Throughout the day, my skin still feels smoother than usual, but I have noticed that after a few hours my skin starts to look dry again. I think this absorbs moisture and makes my skin look even drier around the nose and at the top of my cheeks. My make up doesn't last as long when wearing MagiX underneath, it's almost as though it sits on top of the perfector and is therefore wiped off easier than if I hadn't used it. A good thing when it comes to removing make up at the end of the day, but not so good when your kids clamber all over you at every opportunity.
*** Overall ***
Good for creating a smooth surface to apply make up to, however, make up doesn't last as long and it's not great for people with dry skin.
Personally I don't think I'll buy this again. It's definitely better than the Avon Illuminating make up base, but I really need something that doesn't make my dry skin any drier. I suppose if you have oily skin this could really help to control it and if you have normal skin it's probably worth a try as well, but I wouldn't recommend it if your skin is even slightly dry.
*** Location ***
Auchingarrich Wildlife Centre is located in Perthshire in Scotland, just outside Comrie and not too far from Crieff.
As far as I'm aware there is no public transport to Auchingarrich and the only way to get there is by car or hired bus. For us, it was a long drive through the country and we found it quite difficult to find the Centre even with the use of Sat. Nav. There are no signposts until just before you get there, but we eventually made it and it really appears to be in the middle of nowhere, however, Crieff is only a 5 mile drive away and it will take about 15 minutes to do this.
*** Arriving at Auchingarrich ***
You have to be careful not to miss the turn off, because if you don't notice the signpost, you would be forgiven for not realising that you had just passed the entrance to a wildlife centre as there are no other obvious signs that you are there. Once you turn off the road there is an uphill drive through gravel to the car park, and along the way you might spot the odd wallaby or meerkat out of your car window.
The car park seems large enough and there was lots of parking space when we visited during the Easter holidays albeit on a cold day.
Before you enter the Centre you have to pay at a window at the entrance and you can also purchase bags of food for 50p here to feed the animals as you go around. You will be given a map which is great as the place is quite large and also a car window sticker.
*** The Animals ***
There are quite a few animals at Auchingarrich, but there are a lot of birds, which can be a bit boring for older children who are expecting lots of variety. You will also find pigs, highland cows, meerkats, wallabies and a donkey to name a few.
The Wildlife Centre is spread over a huge area and I never once had any problem with the amount of space any of the animals had to roam around in. All the animals were in huge areas with plenty of natural surroundings and were as clean as you could expect while keeping it all as natural as possible.
There were two main highlights for the children in our group, and the adults as well actually. The first was the Hatchery, which is home to the baby chicks and the rabbits that you are able to handle. The older children in our group found this truly amazing, especially since we were there around Easter time. If you are lucky enough you may even witness a chick hatching during your visit. While we were there, there were a few eggs in the incubator with their cracked eggs, waiting to hatch, and a baby a day or so old, which didn't have its fluffy feathers yet, but we didn't get to see any being born.
The second highlight was the Falconry Centre, which is not run by Auchingarrich but is situated inside the Wildlife Centre. There is an additional fee for this of £3.00 per adult or £1.50 per child. On the day we visited, this was half price so we decided it was worthwhile and we were so glad we did. There were many different owls and hawks and we were able to see an eagle chick being fed and the children were able to hold an owl, which they were over the moon about.
*** Play Areas ***
There are two areas for the children to run wild and play at while the parents chill for a bit. The first is outdoor and has loads to do, climbing frames, swings, slides and even giant tunnels known as the "rabbit burrows" for them to run around. The second is an indoor barn and has slides, swings, climbing frames, a sand pit and more. Both play areas are great and have areas for most ages. The kids in our group ranged from 14 months through to 7 years (or 28 years as I remember one of the dad's joining in) and they all found plenty to do in both areas.
There is also an old fire engine in the Centre that the children can go inside and climb over, which is a great photo opportunity and the kids absolutely loved it.
*** Eating ***
There are plenty picnic and barbecue areas throughout the Centre. However, the day we were there was absolutely freezing and so we opted for the onsite café. There wasn't a huge selection of food available for a lunch, but soups and baguettes and the likes for adults and great little lunch boxes for the kids. There was a huge selection of drinks, hot and cold and plenty bars of chocolate, cakes, crisps and ice cream, so plenty of options for snacking. There didn't seem to be a problem with eating picnics brought from home here either, although I'm not sure if this was again down to the time of year. I can't imagine they'd be too happy at people sitting inside with their home made picnic while paying customers were without a seat, but I'm sure this would only be a problem on the busiest of days.
There was a good amount of seating. Our party of 7 adults and 6 children had no problems finding tables together inside right in the middle of the lunchtime rush. I have a feeling there may be a lack of seats indoors at busier times of the year, but there are plenty of benches and things outside as well, so I don't think this would be a huge problem.
We were served very quickly in the café and the staff were very helpful - even carrying my tray to my table for me when I had my hands full with children.
*** Services ***
I'm pretty sure there is only one set of toilets in the Centre and they are situated beside the café and gift shop. I noticed there were only 3 toilets in the ladies and though this wasn't a problem when we were there, I think this could cause a bit of a wait at busier times of the year. The toilets were clean enough and well stocked. The baby changing area is separate from the toilets and although I didn't use it personally I was informed it was nice and clean.
There is a small gift shop beside the café which stocks lots of souvenirs both little and large. There are stuffed animals, little toys, wooden construction kits, posters, stationery items and the likes. Some are very reasonably priced, whereas others are expensive for what they are, but it's easy enough to buy the kids a little something to remember their day.
*** Prices and Opening Times ***
Children under 3 are free and the family ticket will admit 2 adults and up to 4 children.
There are also discounts for big groups.
Bags of food are 50p each
I think the price is very expensive for what you get to see. There isn't a huge variety of animals and the Falconry Centre is extra on top of the entrance fee. However in saying that I think I if you are a family with 4 children, the family ticket would be extremely good value for money.
The Wildlife Centre is open every day from 10am until dusk, however the gift shop and café does close at 5pm.
*** Things to Note ***
The car park and many of the paths are stones, so it can be extremely difficult pushing your average pushchair/pram.
The Centre is very open and quite high up and so on a cold day it can get super cold. It is mostly outside so unless it's the height of summer and a scorching day, I'd suggest wearing layers so you are warm enough.
There are a few creatures that have free roam of the Centre. The peacocks and the meerkats can just pop up anywhere, so keep your eyes peeled. The meerkats peeking out of the paths ahead of us were highly entertaining for the children.
*** Overall ***
For us the Falconry Centre saved the day. We had driven a long way and were a little disappointed up until this point. There isn't a huge selection of animals and most of them we could see in fields etc back home with no fee at all. However, the kids enjoyed it, which is of course the main thing at these places. The animals are well kept and seem healthy and happy enough. The staff were helpful too which is always a bonus and if it hadn't been for the cold weather it would've been an extremely enjoyable day out. However, the price I think is where Auchingarrich loses it's appeal. For a few pounds more we could've visited Edinburgh Zoo or Blairdrummond Safari Park and had a whole day out and seen much more interesting and exciting animals. It was a nice enough place, just expensive for what it is.
I wouldn't recommend travelling any distance to go here in particular. If you are in the area and like the sound of it then yes, by all means pop in and see what you think, but we travelled almost 50 miles and just felt it was a bit of a let down. However, like I said before, if you are a family with 4 children, this could work out a good budget day out for the whole family.
I'm not usually a lip gloss person. In fact, I don't usually wear any kind of make up on my lips at all, the odd bit of lip balm perhaps if they're feeling dry but that's about it. I am, however a bit addicted to visiting my local Boots store when they have all their special promotions on and so the last time they were giving away the vouchers for £5 off No 7 products I somehow managed to end up with this No 7 Liplicious Lip Gloss.
Originally, my plan was to give it away as a gift in a hamper at Christmas, but it didn't quite go with any of the ones I was making. A few weeks ago, my lips were feeling dry and I didn't have any lip balm left, so decided to give this a try.
** Packaging **
The Liplicious Lip Gloss comes in a very stylish 12ml tube. I think they must have been re-designed since the picture above and now look much more elegant. The whole tube is clear, so you can see the colour before purchase. There isn't an applicator with this. To apply the lip gloss, you simply squeeze the tube until a little comes out the end and apply directly to the lips.
I'm not sure I like the design of this and think I would rather have an applicator because I've found it's far too easy to squeeze too much lip gloss out and then you either have to use it all or waste what you don't use.
** The Lip Gloss **
There are six different colours to choose from. The one I chose was Marshmallow which is a very pale pink colour. In the tube you can see that there are darker patches and lighter patches of pink, so I tend to give it a squeeze before applying to make sure the colour is even. Marshmallow is the only pink colour in the range. There is an orange-y colour, two red-y colours and two brown-y colours, and this Marshmallow is definitely the palest of the six.
** Using the Lip Gloss **
The smell of the lip gloss is absolutely gorgeous, just like sweets. I'm not sure it smells at all like Marshmallow, so the name is a little misleading, however, it does smell like those bags of jelly sweets that you get.
As previously mentioned, it's quite hard to apply this without either being covered in the stuff or wasting half of it, as it is impossible to get it back in the tube once you have squeezed it out. However with that aside, it is quite simple, you squeeze it out and pop it on your lips. I don't think this is supposed to be flavoured, I've checked Boots website and it doesn't mention anything about flavouring, however, I'm sure I can detect a slight candy taste. Maybe it's just my senses getting confused, but I do like the flavour of this.
The lip gloss actually feels really sticky when first applied and I was worried that it would stay like this and my hair would stick to it or I'd feel like I was caked in it, but once it dries it's actually OK and although you can still feel the lip gloss, it's not too much.
I have to say though, if you are buying this for the colour then you may end up very disappointed. That lovely pink colour that you can see through the tube is not the colour you will see on your lips. The colour that transfers is almost clear and so you only get a very slight pink tinge to your lips and a good amount of shine. For me, this is a good point as I don't like colour, but do like the glossiness this leaves.
I have found that this moisturises my lips really very well and after looking at the tube I have discovered that this is probably due to the fact it contains Shea Butter to moisturise and condition and Vitamin E to protect. This was a bonus for me and I really like that I can use this instead of my regular lip balm.
The one big disappointment I have with this Liplicious Lip Gloss is that the colour does not last. I admit, I have a habit of licking my lips as, like I said, I do like the flavour of this, but it does not last well at all and within an hour of applying it, you can't tell it was ever there.
** Price and Availability **
No 7 products are exclusive to Boots and so you will only be able to purchase from there, with perhaps the possibility of ebay. On the Boots website, it is currently priced at £9, however I'm sure it is slightly more expensive at £9.25 in store. As I said, I had a £5 off voucher so only paid £4.25 for mine, so it is possible to get it cheaper. At the moment Boots are offering 3 for 2 on No 7 products, so if you like the sound of it and like the other products in the range, it could be worth purchasing now.
** Conclusion **
I'm really struggling to decide whether to give this product a 2 star rating or a 3 star rating. On the plus, it isn't heavily coloured, it moisturises my lips well and I love the scent and flavouring. On the downside, however, it doesn't last long, is a bit sticky when first applied and is extremely expensive for what it is.
I have decided to go for 2 star and my decision is based on the fact that it costs £9.25 for 12mls and this really wont last long as it needs to be re-applied every hour or so. I think even at the £4.25 that I paid for it, it's a bit much.
I don't think I will be buying this again though and I certainly wouldn't recommend it.
Soap and Glory Girligo
Anyone that's read my Soap and Glory Righteous Butter review, will know already that I received a fab Soap and Glory gift set for my birthday earlier this year. The set had trial sizes of a few of the products which was great as I'd heard so much about the brand, but never tried any of the products and so wasn't really sure what to go for first. This way I got to try out quite a few before deciding which ones to buy myself.
The second product I have tried from the set is this Soap and Glory Girligo. Girligo is a Spray-on Body Moisturising Mist. I loved the Righteous Butter so much that when I'd finished the tub I really wanted to go and buy the large one, but decided to give Girligo a go first since I already had it.
** The Packaging **
I really like the packaging of this product. It comes in a long thin pump action bottle and it looks very sleek and stylish. The bottle it's self is typical Soap and Glory - off white in colour with pink details around the label. For a trial size I'm impressed with the fact that it's a 100ml bottle, it's a good size, not too small and certainly large enough to last a while and let you have a proper try of the product.
** The Directions **
"Do your own flirty work" instructs the bottle. "Spritz Girligo on all-over post shower for temptingly fragrant, softer, smoother, more supple skin".
Sounds really easy, and it is. The bottle is really easy to work. The pump action doesn't take too much effort. It dispenses just the right amount so that you're not covered in the product, and have a good manageable amount on your skin.
** The Product **
I was a little surprised when I sprayed this if I'm honest. I was really expecting the mist to be clear, however the liquid that came out was very white. It's a really thin liquid which runs as soon as it hits the skin. This would be a bit of a pain if there was a lot dispensed at once, but the cleverly thought design means that this isn't the case at all and you can stop it running and rub it all in quite easily.
The smell is amazing. It's exactly the same smell as the Righteous Butter and I would imagine a lot of other products in the range. For those that haven't read my Righteous Butter review, I did struggle to describe the smell. It's fruity and fresh, but there is not a particular distinguishable scent. The scent that lasts the longest though is mainly musky. Overall a really gorgeous smell and when I use this I keep sniffing myself.
** Using the Product **
I like the fact that this is a spray and this is the only point where I prefer this to the Righteous Butter. I'm not sure why really, but I just find a spray so much more convenient than having to scoop out lotion. It seems quicker as well which is great when you're in a hurry.
I've already mentioned the product is easy to spray. Once on it really is as simple as rubbing it in. You don't need a lot because it's so thin, one spray will cover quite a large area. I did find this really sticky feeling when first rubbed in and was worried that my skin would feel clammy and horrible all day, but this isn't the case and as soon as the product is absorbed and the skin is dry, you don't feel it at all.
Girligo makes the skin look smoother, but I'm not convinced it feels that much different. Maybe I'm comparing it to Righteous Butter too much, but that made my skin really soft and silky throughout the whole day and Girligo, although probably does to some extent, certainly doesn't as much as the Righteous Butter.
The fragrance lasts very well with Girligo and I will still be able to detect a slight scent off my skin at the end of the day.
I love the fact that Soap and Glory have so many products in this range with the same great smell, so you can layer products very easily. With conditioners, body washes, moisturisers and loads more you really can choose how fragrant you want to be.
** Price and Availability **
You can buy a 100ml size bottle of Girligo in Boots for around the £5 mark, however this doesn't seem to be available on their website. Boots often have the Soap and Glory range on offer though, so you can probably pick this up for a bit cheaper.
** Conclusion **
Another Soap and Glory winner for me. I think overall I do prefer the Righteous Butter, because it makes my skin feel that little bit softer and for longer and this doesn't moisturise quite so well. Also the Righteous Butter is creamier and so just feels that little bit more luxurious and like I'm pampering myself a bit. However, Girligo will definitely be a regular on my bathroom shelf. I will buy this to use when I don't have the time or can't be bothered with the butter. It's quick and easy to use, smells amazing and softens the skin a bit - what more could you want?
I have never really been one for fancy body creams and lotions. To me, it always seems a bit of a pain to use a body lotion, then having to wait for it all to be absorbed into the skin, before dressing. I used to buy them, use them once or twice then the novelty would wear off and they would sit on a shelf gathering dust.
Two things changed this way of doing things for me. The first was when I found Dooyoo and read reviews about all the great products out there that I was missing out on. The second was when I was given some of Lush's Charity Pot for my birthday earlier this year.
Charity Pot is a "Luscious hand and body lotion" with "smooth, creamy, skin softening cocoa butter and almond oil lotion with a scent that makes life worth living. Makes your body feel lovely and your heart feel glad". Sounds delightful, doesn't it? I couldn't wait to start using it.
When I removed the lid, I noticed the lotion inside was a fantastic bright yellow colour and it reminded me of sunshine. The smell is a bit lemon sherbet-y and Lush really did get it right when they said it makes life worth living. It is very uplifting and the whole thing reminds me of summer and really does brighten my day.
The lotion is the perfect consistency - not too thin or thick and is easy to apply. You don't need to use a lot and it is easily absorbed into the skin.
I haven't used this much as a hand cream personally. However my partner works outside and with the last few months being as cold as they have been, his hands had become very dry and cracked and so he has been using this every now and again. He's found it to work very well to replace the moisture and after a few applications, his hands always feel a bit better. It's not a miracle cure, but it works better than a lot of the hand creams and lotions he has tried.
I have been using this regularly as a body moisturiser. The smell lasts for ages on the body. I can usually still smell it at the end of the day. My skin feels really soft and smooth after using this and is moisturises really well, especially around the knees and elbows and other areas prone to extra dry skin. You don't need to use a lot and it goes on very easily, without feeling greasy or sticky.
Charity Pot costs £9.74 for a 240g pot. The black screw top tub is also part of their "bring back 5 black pots, get a fresh face mask free" promotion. The pot lasts for ages, so I think this is really good value for money. Another great thing is that all the money paid for this item (except the VAT), is donated to charities, groups and good causes around the world. So, if like me, you feel guilty spending your hard earned cash on body lotion, you can make yourself feel a bit better knowing that your money will be going towards a good cause and helping to make a difference somewhere.
Charity Pot, like a lot of Lush products is vegan and so suitable for almost everyone. My tub was made in October 2008 and needs to be used by December 2009, so Charity Pot has a good shelf life of around 14 months. This is good if you don't think you will use it all the time and you can rest assured knowing that you have plenty time to use it up.
Overall, I don't think you can go wrong with this. It smells great, moisturises well, lasts ages, doesn't cost an absolute fortune and you have the added feel good factor of giving something to charity. No wonder Lush say this will make you feel great.
I was given this Benefit 10 bronzing and highlighting face powder duo as part of a gift set for my birthday a few months ago.
I have to admit at £22.50 for a 10g box of powder, this is really quite pricey and something I don't think I would usually consider purchasing for myself.
** Packaging **
The packaging is typically Benefit - a bit retro looking - with a glitzy belt on the lid of the box. The box itself is the same as the oher face powders from Benefit, quite a strong sturdy box. The lid can be removed to find a plastic tray which houses the applicator brush and underneath that, the powder.
** The Powder **
The powder is divided right down the centre, so on one half there is a pink shimmery powder, which is the highlighter. On the other half is a browny bronze powder which is of course the bronzer. It looks very girly and pretty and both powders look a bit sparkly.
** Directions **
In the leafet enclosed within the box, I am directed to sweep the brush over the powder duo. Position the brush with the highlighter at the top and the bronzer at the bottom and whisk from the hairline towards the centre of the face. If you've done this, you've done "the sexy sweep". Very simple instructions.
** My Experience **
So, is it as easy as it sounds? Well, yes it is actually! I've been using this every day now for just over a month and have found it very simple to use. The powder almost always ends up in the exact place it should. I say almost always, because I put my make up on early in the mornng and I'm not always quite awake enough to get my head around the "pink to the top, bronze to the bottom" rule. I know, I know, it sounds incredibly easy, but don't laugh until you've tried to do it at 7am when you've been up half the night and you're trying to get out the house with three kids in tow. You'll soon realise, it's not quite so simple after all. Or is that just me? Either way, that is why this only "almost always" works well. When it doesn't work, it's because I have put it on upside down! I can't really hold that against the product though as it's kind of my own doing.
The powder goes on easily - one sweep is usually enough for me and then I give the outlines a little rub to blend it all in. The powders both look great on, quite natural, not at all clumpy and it blends in well rather than sitting on top of the face. I am pleased to report that the sparkly, glittery look it has in the box does not really transfer onto the skin when worn. The highlighter does its job well and highlights along the tops of the cheekbones and the bronzer isn't too dark, so it would compliment most skin tones. I would imagine that if you wanted to use the powder for one purpose only e.g. either highlighting OR bronzing, that this would be easily done, by using the sides of the brush rather than the main part.
There is a fragrance to this powder, which is a bit like a sweet and is quite fruity. I'm not a lover of scented make up, but this isn't too strong or over powering, so I can live with that.
You can buy Benefit 10 and other Benefit products at Debenhams, other department stores and larger Boots stores, or you can buy directly from Benefit on their website at www.benefitcosmetics.co.uk. The price for the 10 powder, as I said is £22.50 and this is generally the same regardless of where you decide to shop. You can occassionally pick up the odd bargain buy on ebay.
** Conclusion **
Overall, a great little duo. I do love this powder. It's fab and because you don't need to use it a lot, it will last for ages and this probably means that cost wise, its not actually as bad as I originally thought. However, I'm not sure I could justify spending this much on it. I would love to receive this as a gift again and I might even be tempted to purchase it using advantage card points from Boots, but I don't think I would buy this for myself.
I would definitely recommend it if you are happy to pay the price though.
I was given this Lush Ultrabland cleanser from my sister earlier this year for my birthday. At first, I wasn't sure I'd use it to be honest. I really like their Ocean Salt Cleanser and couldn't really imagine using a different one, but then last month I started running a bit low and so decided to use both. The Ocean Salt is very refreshing and also exfoliates, so I use that in the morning. Whereas after reading the label I discovered that Lush claim that the Ultrabland is "the most thorough of all cleansers" and so I thought this would be better for more thorough cleansing ie removing make up, and I now use this at night.
Ultrabland comes in the usual Lush black pot with screw top lid. Mine is a 45g tub and is part of their "bring back 5 pots, get a fresh face mask free" promotion.
The label also states that this product is recommended by 100% of Lush staff. WOW! Can it really be that good? I mean 98% or 99% I could believe but 100%? Come on, nothing's that good right? Well I'd just have to find out and I have to admit, I went in to this determined to prove them wrong and that not everyone would find the need to recommend this product.
When I first opened the pot, I was not impressed by the sight of this at all. It is a pastel yellowy colour and looked a bit like a blob of angel delight. The next thing I always do with a new Lush product is give it a sniff and that too was a bit of a let down. There was no scent at all. That's a huge deal for Lush because they are very well known for the smell of their shops and the smell of their products, so I found it very surprising indeed that there was no smell whatsoever to Ultrabland.
The instructions read "To use: Place a small amount on to the palms and fingers, rub together then smooth all over your face. Remove thoroughly with dampened cotton wool."
The first time I used Ultrabland I followed these instructions and put enough on my hands that the palms and fingers had a light covering before applying to my face. I found this was far too much and so in all my uses since, I have just put a blob on my finger tips and rubbed a little before smoothing over my face. This works a lot better and means you don't use as much and I don't have to spend quite as long trying to get the cleanser off.
When applied, there is still no fragrance. I'm not sure whether I like this or not. I like the fragrance of the Ocean Salt that I use, but I guess since I use Ultrabland to cleanse before bed, it's probably quite good that it is not fragranced. The cleanser is a good consistency, it's not a cream, but not a lotion, it's quite hard to describe, but it's almost like an oily mousse and it smooths on the skin easily. It feels really greasy when applied and it makes the skin feel quite clammy, almost dirty. The first time I used it I was not at all impressed thus far. I don't leave the cleanser on too long and usually remove it pretty much immediately. I use cotton wool pads, and as per instructions dampen them well and remove the cleanser.
So, now the bit you've been waiting for. What were the results? Can I disagree with the 100% of Lush staff that recommend this? No, I'm sorry, I can't. I tried and tried, but this cleanser does exactly what it says on the tin (or plastic tub as is the case here). It removed all traces of make up and I do wear quite a bit. With EVERY other make up remover I have ever used, I have had to use it at least twice to ensure that all the make up was off my face, but this does the trick in one application. Once I've removed all the cleanser, I always use another cotton wool pad, dampen it and go over the whole face, just to make sure I have got it all off, but with Ultrabland there is never even the slightest discolouration on the pad. There really isn't anything bad I can say about this in terms of what it is meant for. It can be slightly greasy, but it really does remove everything very easily and leaves the skin feeling so clean. I've also noticed a bit of a difference to my complexion since I started using this. It's made my skin a lot clearer, which is probably down to the fact that I'm getting rid of ALL the make up at the end of the day and actually going to bed with a very clean face.
The small 45g tub of Ultrabland costs £5.38 so not the cheapest, but comparable to other make up removers and definitely worth it. You can save a little by buying the bigger 100g tub for £8.76 and Ultrabland is available in Lush stores or online at www.lush.co.uk
Overall, well I suppose the fact that Lush claim this is "the most thorough of all cleansers" coupled with the fact that 100% of their staff recommend it should speak for themselves. Both of them are very bold statements, but Ultrabland lives up to them and I certainly wasn't disappointed, so if you're looking for a new product that really removes make up with ease, I would definitely recommend you give this a go.
A lot of people think that I've lost the plot a bit when it comes to how I choose to take holidays. When we have enough money to go abroad, as many of you have probably guessed by now, we like to go to Disneyland, Paris. However, spending a fortune on a holiday where we lie on the beach all day while the kids build castles and paddle in the sea isn't my cup of tea. However, this is not to say we don't enjoy doing these things, I just grudge spending such a huge amount of money on it, as most people do.
These same people that think I'm crazy are the ones which simply refuse to believe me when I explain my reasons behind my logic. I am not a lover of extremely high temperatures. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a huge lover of the cold either, but our summers are more than enough for me and with young children the thought of going somewhere hotter doesn't really appeal to me much. The simple fact for me is that we have AMAZING beaches here in Scotland - you just have to look for them. I live in Fife and we have many Blue Flag beaches here and yes, they're nice, but they are nothing like the exotic beaches you will find in holiday brochures. I'm sure these Fife beaches are the images people get when I tell them we have a beach holiday in Scotland every year, but this just isn't the case. The truth is, my Dad works in Thurso, which is almost as far North you can go on Mainland Britain. He has a house there with plenty of room for all of us (including my two sisters). The problem with Thurso is that there isn't very much to do! So, we tend to go exploring. We've found many a lovely beach along the North coast of Scotland and like I said, no one can believe just how beautiful they can be. It really is like something out of a holiday brochure.
The best beach we have come across so far is Melvich. Melvich is a small village about 10-15 miles West of Thurso. There isn't really much there - a hotel, a post office etc, and I have to say the first time we went along we were very sceptical. When we arrived in Melvich, we almost missed the turn off for the beach. If you ever visit, you'll realise why. Although it is very well signposted, there isn't an actual road! The signpost points to what looks like someones driveway. Nestled between a couple of houses there is a gate which sits open and there is a dirt track - this is the road to the beach. Eventually after much ummming and ahhhing, we decided that it wasn't a joke and decided to investigate. When we turned in we realised that the road disappears behind the houses and looks like it's heading down into the grassy dunes below. Eventually you get as far as you can go with transport and if, like we are normally, you are there for the day, you have to unpack the car and walk from there.
You have to enter through a gate and occassionally you may come across the odd sheep wandering around on the grass beyond. You're almost guaranteed to spot a rabbit or two, but for now you still wont quite be able to see the beach. If you glance down to your right at this point, you can see what is known as the "Bighouse", which if you're into local history may be interesting with its ties to the MacKay clan. I believe there is a walkway down, where you can cross a footbridge over the river and have a look at the house, but we have never done this. We always follow the grassy path to the left after entering the gate. It is almost always overgrown at either side of the path, so it's advisable to wear trousers (as opposed to shorts or skirts) on the walk to and from the beach to avoid scratches and nettle stings. If you fancy stopping to look at the greenery around you I am sure you will find many different species of wild flowers growing here and if I remember correctly, we have spotted some typically Scottish heather and thistles along the way. We're usually far too excited to get to the beach and so whizz past these, but I'm sure it will appeal to many.
When you get to the end of the path, you will notice it slowly change from grass to sand and although you can't see the beach yet, you will know it's not far away now. The dunes are quite high and so the beach will creep up on you and when you do peak at the highest point, you might just be a little stunned as the view is breathtaking. You will be greeted with a huge stretch of golden sands, which are met with the white waves crashing as the tide hits the beach and if you look out over the North Sea it is very often hard to tell where the sea ends and the sky begins. You are here... Melvich Beach.
We usually visit Melvich Beach in April/May and then again in July/August time and we always have amazing weather, particularly in May. The sea is always such a clear blue that it really does resemble some tropical paradise. We can easily stay here all day, arriving early in the morning and not leaving until we get hungry as teatime is approaching.
It's a shame that I can't comment on all that Melvich Beach has to offer as I am told that if you walk further round to the beach, you can climb over the rocks and on a good day get some nice views out to Orkney or along to Dunnet Head at the other side of Thurso. However, as I have young children and the rock climbing can be extremely dangerous, I have never done this.
The water is clear blue and the sands are golden yellow - the picture above doesn't really to it justice if I'm honest, but gives you an idea.
If you are extremely lucky you may well catch a glimpse of some seals or even an Orca (killer) Whale, as they are regularly spotted not too far out to sea here, at these times of year.
The other huge advantage of having a beach holiday here is that you have the beach to yourself pretty much all of the time. You will see the odd dog walker now and again, but unlike foreign destinations, you are not tripping over everyone else in your hunt for a nice spot to lie on the beach. You don't need to worry about whether other kids will splash your kids in the sea, or if their ball or frisbee is going to hit someone as you have a huge stretch of beach all to yourself.
Of course, it can't be perfect in every way and I have to warn anyone thinking of visiting that there are NO facilities here whatsoever. There are no toilets, no cafes, zip, nothing, nada. So pack a picnic and be prepared!
I'll be heading back up here in April and can't wait to visit Melvich Beach for a day of lazing on the beach with kids laughing and giggling, building their sandcastles, bathing in the sea, playing games and collecting shells. To me it really does feel like the edge of the Earth and no other place even comes close. If I close my eyes and imagine, I'm almost there already. If that makes me crazy, then so be it, but to me it's like paradise.
Overall, Melvich Beach is my favourite beach! If you ever happen to be on the north coast of Scotland I highly recommend stopping off for a visit, you wont be disappointed.
I've had my eye on the Soap and Glory range for a while now. I remember when I first heard people raving about it, I had a look for it and kind of dismissed it because at a glance the packaging looked a bit plain - generally just white and pink and dare I say a little cheap looking.
However, I kept hearing people going on about how fabulous this stuff was and had planned to give some items a go as and when my current ones ran out. So, you can imagine how pleased I was when a good friend of mine bought me a Soap and Glory set for my birthday in January. The set contains five trial size products and The Righteous Body Butter is the first that I have tried.
On closer inspection of the packaging, I can tell you that it's not so cheap and tacky looking after all. In fact it's very retro and quite quirky. Pink and girly with swirls and stars and black and white pin up pictures decorating the tubs and bottles in this range.
When I remove the screw top lid from the tub of The Righteous Butter, I am greeted with a really gorgeous smell, but I can't quite put my finger on what it smells like. To me, it's mostly fruity although I can't distinguish a particular fruit that it resembles. It has a kind of musky smell to it as well which lingers for the longest. After looking on the Boots website I can confirm my initial thoughts as they describe the aroma as "leafy greens, bergamot and mandarin, with a floral and fruity middle note that makes your nose tingle a little, followed by soft, sexy, musk, oakmoss, amber and woody notes." I can't really say that I can confirm recognising any of those individual items when smelling it, but it certainly smells lovely and fresh and clean, followed by a musky smell - gorgeous!
OK, now on to applying it. The butter is quite a thick creamy consistency and is white in colour. When applying, you really don't need to use a lot. The tub instructs "Butter yourself up: After showering or bathing, smooth onto damp skin and massage until it all sinks in", and it really is as easy as that. It goes on very easily and is absorbed into the skin quite quickly. It feels like a really good quality product and even slightly luxurious.
My skin feels really soft and smooth after using this, although I've found it can feel slightly clammy if I put too much on. As already mentioned the frangrance is long lasting and I can still smell this for hours after I use it, but it's not at all overpowering. It moisturises well, I have dry skin and it hydrates it well. The softness also lasts for most of the day.
The price of this is probably pretty average. At £9.79 for a 300ml tub it's a similar price to my usual Lush stuff, so it's not cheap, but not overly expensive, probably a mid-range moisturiser. If you'd rather try it out before spending that much, you can get a smaller 50ml tub for £2.20. This is the size I got in my gift set and it will actually last me quite a while, so it's still pretty good value. The Soap and Glory range are on offer in Boots at the moment with a third off, meaning these tubs will cost £6.53 and £1.47 respectively - definitely worth trying now if you fancy it.
There are a lot of other products in the Soap and Glory range, so if you like to use the same range and build on fragrance, this is definitely worth consideration. There are shower gels, moisturising sprays, scrubs and bath soaks. As I said I haven't tried any of the others in the range yet, so can't give you my personal opinion on any of these, but I will be trying and reviewing some of them shortly.
Overall, a fantastic moisturiser with a gorgeous fragrance that lasts well and does its job. You can't really go wrong, can you? This one's definitely on my keepers list and I'll probably alternate between that and the Lush stuff I normally use from now on.
After watching me make up gift hampers as Christmas presents for our friends and family the other year, my daughter had decided she wanted me to do the same for her birthday in December.
I wasn't really sure what to put in it to be honest, she was only seven, so it's not like she needed make up and toiletries, but she asked for one because she wanted a grown up gift as opposed to toys and things and so it was difficult finding items. But this B Barbie perfume was one of the items I included in it.
I have to admit when I suggested this product to Dooyoo, I was just thinking of how pleased my daughter was when she received it. I didn't really think much about the product itself or what it smelt like, simply that I knew it was quite a nice fragrance and that my daughter loved the fact she had some grown up perfume.
The price is usually around the £7 mark from Boots, however when I bought this it had been reduced to £3.50 and I paid with points I had on my Advantage Card, so effectively it was free.
It comes in quite an elegant looking bottle slim and tall, which is a dark pinky purply kind of colour and has a glitzy B around the neck which can be removed.
I wont get all technical and go into top notes and base notes - this is a childs perfume afterall. But the scent is distinctly fruity. It is not floral or musky in the slightest, but resembles a fruity sweet. If you're not a lover of sweet scents, then this definitely isn't one to buy. I suppose it kind of reflects the fact that this perfume is for sweet little girls.
My daughter hasn't worn this much to be honest. I don't let her wear perfume everyday, but I know when she's wearing it, as it leaves such a distinct fragrance, however, this is not overpowering in the slightest.
I have on occassion pinched some of this perfume for myself. I am a great lover of fruity smells and this one certainly appeals to me. It has a slight resemblence to the perfume my sister wears which is one of Britney Spears', and is obviously far more expensive than B Barbie. I have found though that when you apply this perfume it is extremely wet. I know that sounds like such a strange thing to say about a perfume, but usually when you spray a perfume, it stays on your wrist, whereas this perfume has a tendancy to run right off and I have to quickly catch it with my other wrist. This led me to think that it may be slightly watered down, but if it is it still lasts all day and the smell will still be lingering on my wrists at the end of a long day.
Overall I think this perfume is fab and I really need to stop pinching my daughters or I will be due her another bottle in no time. So, whether it's for the little princess in your life, or if you like fruity smells for yourself, I'd recommend you have a sniff of this out of the sample bottle in Boots next time you're in. For any men reading though, I don't recommend this as a gift for your wives/girfriends, I can't think of many women that would like to be given a bottle of Barbie perfume as a gift.
** Arriving at the Zoo **
Living just across the water and a mere 20 minute drive away, Edinburgh Zoo is a regular family day out for us.
If you are driving to the zoo, I have to forewarn you that there is a charge of £3.50 to park your car here (unless you are a member of the zoo in which case it's free) and you will receive a car sticker when you pay at the entrance to the car park.
Cost of entry is
£12.50 per adult
£8.50 per child (3-14 years)
£10.50 per concession
Children under 3 are free and there are various options for a discounted family ticket depending on the number of adults and children. I find this great as it's much better than most places which assume a family is 2 adults, 2 children. Edinburgh Zoo have options for couples with 3 children and also single parents. Of course if you have more than 3 children this will still be an issue.
There are discounts for group bookings and you can become a member of the zoo which will entitle you to unlimited entry for a year and other benefits (your own entrance, discounts, access to members areas etc).
I've heard people complain about the prices before and while it is a bit expensive, for a special day out I don't feel it's too bad. If you don't buy food and souvenirs then this is all you will pay, so for a family day out I'm happy to pay it.
Upon payment for admission, you will be given a map of the zoo and details of any shows/talks etc that will be going on around the zoo throughout the day. It's quite normal for you to also be given a leaflet with details of all the new arrivals at the zoo.
I should also forewarn anyone planning a trip to Edinburgh Zoo that the zoo is built on a very steep hill and can be quite hard work, particularly for little children (and grown ups pushing buggies!).
** Services and Facilities **
There is a "Hilltop Safari" bus which runs from the entrance to the very top of the zoo. This can be handy if you think you or your little ones will struggle with the hill. You can bus it to the top and then walk back down. Personally we prefer to walk up one side and back down the other as it's easy to miss things if you just walk back down.
There are two sit down cafes in the zoo - Stripes and Oasis. Both are situated very centrally and very close to one another. They both serve hot and cold food and drinks and both are very busy and very expensive in my opinion. If you have time to pack a picnic before you go, it will save you a lot of money and there are lots of picnic areas throughout the zoo which are really lovely - even on the coldest of days! We have had to buy food at the zoo once and still ended up eating it outside as there were no tables left. Oasis is the larger of the two cafes and has a play area inside for the kids. Our children have never used this but it's similar to what you would find in a soft play centre and I suppose it would be very helpful if you were queuing for food with impatient children.
There are many toilet stops set all around the park. I find this very useful when visiting with children. As I'm sure many parents will know, it's always a bonus if there are many throughout. From my personal experience I have found the cleanest toilets are the ones in either of the cafes (Stripes or Oasis). Some of the toilet "blocks" can be cold and a bit dirty at times. The toilets in the cafes are also the ones with baby changing facilities.
There are many kiosks round the park, more in the summer than the winter, but whenever you visit, you'll never be far from a nice coffee to heat you up or a delicious ice cream to cool you down.
There are two gift shops at the zoo. There is a large one at the main entrance and a smaller "Penguin Shop" which is quite central. I'm sure this is only open in the warmer months though, as the last few times we've visited it has been closed. I love the fact that there's not merchandise being thrown in the kids faces throughout the whole day. Many places like this have shop after shop and you end up with kids nagging for things the whole day. The penguin shop, when open can be very easily avoided and the main gift shop can also be by-passed quite easily. However, I have always found the prices quite reasonable and average for these sorts of places and we like to get the kids a little something on the way out. The smaller gifts start at just a few pounds, so a small price to pay to help have a relaxing drive home.
There are many play parks throughout the zoo and these look great fun and are always very busy. They used to have a giant maze until a few years ago. Unfortunately it is no more, as it has made way for the newer attractions.
** The Animals **
OK so I've gone on about everything else, but what about the animals? Isn't that what people go to the zoo for? Well yes, but I'm afraid this can be where Edinburgh Zoo is a bit of a let down for me. I remember Edinburgh Zoo when there were elephants and giraffes and the likes, so for me personally, the fact that it's now over run with penguins and monkeys disappoints a little. However, for my children who have never known the former zoo it is still a place where they can see lots of animals they would never otherwise have the chance to see.
Edinburgh Zoo is famous for its Penguin Parade. This has been going on as long as I can remember. Every day at 2.15pm, just outside the penguin enclosure, the path is lined with adults and children alike waiting to see if the penguins will walk today. The walk is completely voluntary, so it's luck of the draw whether you will be lucky enough to witness the penguin parade and as penguins are social animals if there are not enough "volunteers" the zookeepers will not allow them to walk on their own. If the penguins don't want to do it, you will have picked your spot half an hour early for nothing. However, in all the years we have been going to the zoo there has only been the odd occassion when this has been the case and the penguins do choose to walk most days. This can be lovely to watch and kids love being able to get so close. When we visit we tend to head to this area at around 1.30pm. This enables us to get a great spot and it's a lovely area for a picnic, so we have our lunch here and usually grab a coffee/ice cream (depending on the weather). By the time we've done all this, more often than not, it's time for the penguins to come out, but if we find ourselves with time to spare, the kids can have a wee play at the park while we wait.
I wont go in to all the animals that you can find at the zoo. As I said a lot of them are monkeys of all sorts and there are deer etc. You can find most large cats including lions, tigers, jaguars etc. The walk to find the felines can be just as fun for the kids as they keep an eye out for paw prints and scratch marks (and the odd and very entertaining pile of tiger poo). If you're brave enough to venture to the very top of the hill, you will find zebras and camels and kangaroos, not to mention the most amazing views out over Edinburgh. I believe there is also a bird show shown here in the summer months, however I have no personal experience of this as I'm sure it clashes with other events at the zoo.
There are various talks throughout the day. You can hear about the big cats as you watch them being fed, you can watch the sea lions doing tricks at their mealtimes and of course if you arrive early for the penguin parade you can learn a thing or two about the life of a penguin aswell.
Edinburgh Zoo is also home to Mercedes - the UK's only polar bear. Edinburgh Zoo seem to take great pride in this. However, I'm sure anyone that has visited the zoo would agree that they should be more ashamed of this fact. People travel many miles to see this and yet it's the one area of the zoo I now try to avoid as it saddens me. Mercedes looks thoroughly miserable in her tiny enclosure and IF she has water available it is the most disgusting water I have ever seen. In the summer she can be seen hiding from the hot sun in the only piece of shade in her cage. I always get the feeling that this enclosure is very neglected by the zoo.
** Not to Miss **
Budongo Trail is the new chimpanzee enclosure which opened in 2008 and is the largest in the world. This has a huge area for the chimpanzees to have great fun in. It has been designed to encourage natural behaviour and replicates their natural environment. There are indoor and outdoor areas for the animals and there is plenty inside for children (and adults of course) to learn.
Close Encounters is a hands on experience. I believe there are 2 or 3 sessions throughout the day where visitors can hold various animals and learn all about them. The sessions are free, however, there are limited places, so I recommend that if you intend to do this, you get your tickets at the start of the day. Tickets are available from either the Penguin Shop or the kiosk opposite. The animals we've been lucky enough to hold are snakes, giant snails, guinea pig, cockroaches, frogs and a few others. The children love this and always talk about it for days afterwards.
Rainbow Landings is another relatively new experience and is personally my favourite. It is a large enclosure for Rainbow Lorikeet (exotic birds) where you can purchase nectar and feed them on your way through. We did this on our most recent visit and the kids were so taken with the birds. The Lorikeet are very friendly and will sit on your hands to get to your food. My wee boy talked for ages about how the pretty bird was pecking his hand instead of the nectar. You can have professional photos done here and we did just that. The photographer asked permission and then took quite a few pictures of us all together. There was no sales pitch at all and she gave us a card and told us where the kiosk was to view and purchase pictures. There was no obligation at all and it is completely up to you whether you walk down to the kiosk to see them or not. We did and got a lovely family picture with the birds for a very reasonable £10. We got to look through all the pictures and took our time to choose which one we wanted, again without any sales patter or anything and were very pleased with our photo souvenir.
** Overall **
In the last few years the Edinburgh Zoo has come a long way, with its new playparks, the recent opening of the £5.65 million Budongo Trail Chimpanzee Enclosure and the addition of Rainbow Landings. I believe there are lots more renovation plans for the future, so hopefully it will continue to improve in the years to come.
Overall, although I find the animals slightly disappointing, Edinburgh Zoo does make for a great day out for the family and we will continue to visit regularly. There is plenty to do and will certainly keep you busy for the day. Not worth a special trip from afar, but if you are local or are in the area anyway, it's definitely worth a visit.
Let the Magic Begin.........
Main Street USA is the place you will find yourself when you first enter the main Disneyland Park in Disneyland, Paris. It is where the magic begins. It is officially classed as a "land", however it differs greatly from the other "lands" within the park as there are no rides, no shows as such and to be honest I think it is bypassed without much thought by quite a lot of the visitors to the park.
However, if you look a bit deeper, you will find that Main Street USA has a lot more to offer than you first imagine.
You will enter Main Street USA under Main Street Train Station and as soon as you emerge from under the bridge, you will catch your first glimpse of Sleeping Beauty's Castle at the end of the beautiful street lined with old fashioned looking buildings. It's not common knowledge, but the buildings along the street are built with a slight slant. This makes the walk out of the park look longer than the walk into the park, to deter people from leaving, making them not want to take the long walk to the exit.
There are two arcades which run alongside the main street. These are often much less crowded than Main Street and can be handy to avoid the crowds. You will find lots of hidden extras in these arcades - ATM machines, coffee/snack vendors, toilets and souvenirs to purchase.
If heading to another land, you can hop on the train at the station and jump off in whichever land you want to be. There is also the option to take a street car from the beginning to the end of the street. However, I highly recommend that you take a walk along the street when first entering the park, so as to truly appreciate the magic that is Main Street USA.
There are many shops and boutiques along the street where you can purchase all the usual Disney merchandise. City Hall is situated just in the entrance of the park. This is where you can book restaurants or find out information about shows etc.
There are a few little counter service food shops including Casey's Corner with their fantastic hotdogs, or Markethouse Deli which has a seating area in a side street off the main street which is lovely to sit and have a morning coffee in the summer. There are also a couple of restaurants, Walts where you can have a table service meal, or Plaza Gardens where you can have a buffet meal. The entrance to Walts can be found on the corner between Main Street and another of the side streets. You will enter downstairs to a very grand hallway with a piano and be taken upstairs for your meal. The restaurant is set out in different areas, with only 3 or 4 tables to a "room", so it is a very quite and intimate place to have a lovely meal. If you can, be sure to visit around parade time and ask for a window seat facing onto Main Street USA. You will have a fantastic view of all the floats and it will add a fantastically magical feel to your meal. The other restaurant, Plaza Gardens, is often missed, as it is at the end of the street and is set back from the main walkway, through a little garden. We have only ever eaten here when it hosted the character tea party and it was a lovely experience. However, the tea party is no longer held here, but you can have a buffet meal and sit in the conservatory area overlooking the garden and Central Plaza at the top of the street.
There is also a barbers, a photo shop, pin trading areas, baby care centre, character meet and greets and I'm sure there will be more that I have forgotten but these are all pretty self explanatory so I wont go into too much detail about these. There are shows at Central Plaza at the top of the street and of course the parades will all pass through Main Street USA. If you visit at a special time of year (e.g. Christmas, Hallowe'en etc), the street will be decorated with amazing lights and other decor. Apparantly at christmas time the snow falls on Main Street USA every day, however, during our trip it was snowing anyway, so I can only comment to say that the real snow did indeed give it the magical, christmas feel that we were expecting.
I don't want to spoil too much of the hidden magic of Main Street USA, but for anyone planning a visit, be sure to listen as you walk. Not only will you hear music playing, but if you listen carefully, you will hear a whole host of sounds coming from the first floors of the buildings, including a dentist's drill. Be sure to have a good look at the signage, some are very amusing and you can give yourself a moustache if you find the mirror outside Dapper Dan's Haircuts. Another thing to look out for are hidden Mickey heads and other little secrets. Without giving too much away, not everything is what it seems in Disney. If you think you saw something some place before and it's not there on second glance, chances are you're not mad, you did see it, but it's changed.
Of course, at the end of the street, you will find yourself at the foot of the castle and you will be faced with the choice of taking one of the paths through to one of the other lands, visiting the castle, or popping underneath for a peak at the resident dragon lurking in the caves beneath. For the lucky minority the magic continues from here on in, but to most, this is just the point where it all begins.
Well I hope you have enjoyed your virtual tour of Main Street USA in Disneyland, Paris. So many of these things go unnoticed by so many of the visitors that pass through it in their mad rush to get to the "more exciting" lands beyond. Yet it's these hidden extras that make Disneyland, Paris truly special for me and will enable me to go back time and time again. No matter how many times I visit, I'm sure I will find something new each time during my relaxing stroll down Main Street USA. It is also these extras that bring the magic to life for my children and they make it an adventure to see who can uncover the most secrets each time we visit.
So if you're lucky enough to take that stroll, make sure you take it all in and really live the magic that is Disney ;)
As I have mentioned in an earlier review, I am very lucky that my family all know exactly what I like and so for my christmas I received quite a few new Benefit products. This Dallas powder was one of the products I received and have used a few times over the last month. I will mention that up until I received this I was using the Benefit Georgia powder.
Benefit describe this Dallas powder as being "the perfect combination of bronzer and blush". They also claim that the powder will give your complexion a "natural-looking glow that will leave you looking younger, healthier and more vibrant". These are pretty big claims, but having been pretty impressed with most of the Benefit products I have tried, I was looking forward to giving this a go.
The powder comes in a square sturdy cardboard box. If you have tried any of the face powders that Benefit do, the boxes are all pretty much the same. The same size and style, just different decor to the lid. When you remove the lid, there is a plastic tray that sits over the product itself. This is to protect the powder and also house the brush which is included.
On first glance this powder does look very dark. For something that is supposed to be the perfect combination of bronzer and blush, this looks far darker than any bronzer I have previously used. Still when I tried the Georgia for the first time I thought it looked very orange, which it doesn't when worn, so I didn't let this put me off. I did however proceed cautiously.
The instructions suggest you "Sweep the brush across the powder a few times and blow off any excess. Dust on to the apples of the cheeks, across the forehead near the hair line, down the center of the nose, and finish with a quick whisk across the chin".
I wouldn't say my skin was fair, but it's not the darkest, it's probably a very average medium colour. If I had to say whether I was fairer or darker, I would say my skin was slightly on the fairer side. With this in mind and the colour of the powder in the box still looking hell of a dark to me, I decided not to "sweep the brush across the powder a few times", but instead to give it one little sweep before applying only to my cheeks. Well what a mess!! I looked like my one year old had slapped me with a chocolate coated hand. I hadn't put a lot on so I decided to give it a little rub. Now with the Georgia powder, I often get a very defined line when applying and with a little rub it blends in nicely. However with this Dallas powder a little rub just wont do, but when rubbed quite vigorously it does eventually blend in to give quite a natural, blushed look.
I have to say, I didn't even attempt to move onto the next step of using it on my forehead, nose and chin. I think it looked quite natural (eventually) on the cheeks, but I definitely wouldn't be able to create the same effect on these other areas of my face.
The Dallas powder costs £22.50 and can be ordered direct from Benefit on their website or in store at bigger Boots stores, Debenhams and other large department stores. I guess the fact that you have to use so little of this would make it last an absolute age. I use Georgia every day and have only just made a little indent in the powder in 5 months. I use it generously, so I guess if you used Dallas as sparingly as I do it will last a very long time indeed, making it extremely good value for money. However, I never seem to stick with the same product for that long, so I can't even begin to imagine how long this is going to be lying in my make up bag.
Obviously if your skin is a darker tone, this powder may actually look really great on you, but it's certainly not for medium skin tones and definitely not fair tones. I wouldn't really recommend this to anyone I don't think. If we put the colour aside for a moment, the powder itself wasn't particularly smooth going on and it felt a bit cakey, which is strange considering the tiny amount I used.
I will use this because of the fact it was a gift and I have it there, but it definitely wont be used daily and I certainly wont be buying more when (or if) I ever run out. I'd rather stick with the Georgia or give a different powder a go and would recommend that anyone thinking of trying Dallas has a good look at what else is available first.