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I have used a number of train services regularly over the past five years - primarily Virgin trains, Arriva Trains and Northern Rail. I was very reliant on train services during my student years and in my opinion there is a huge difference in service with Virgin - I find them to be far better than the competitor train companies I have used. I do agree with comments that I have seen and heard by a number of people that the cost of Virgin train tickets is quite expensive but unfortunately that seems to be the case with almost all train services. I am actually much happier to spend my money on a Virgin service as I always feel reassured that I will have a better journey. Firstly I always find the trains to be clean and well checked - there always seem to be members of staff around which reassures me, particularly if travelling alone or late at night. I have experienced some unpleasant environments on other trains in the past and there were no members of staff present to witness it. I also find the actual journey to be more comfortable - the seats and really comfortable and you typically have good mobile signal and plugs around to charge electrical appliances. Many virgin trains will also have a large range of food to purchase which is always great. I also find their communications in general to be clear and easy to follow. In general I would definitely recommend Virgin trains and find them to be the superior train service of the ones I have experienced.
This was on offer in the local supermarket, so I decided to give it a try a couple of months ago. I was initially drawn to it, as I do have quite oily skin, especially in the warmer months. After a couple of hours of wearing make up, I normally have a bit of a 'shine' to me, so I am always looking for new products which may combat this.
Moisture Match claims to be a 24 hour moisturiser, customised to match specific skin needs. Oil free and with a mattifying fresh texture. Known as 'Shine Be Gone' it claims to leave the skin smooth and mattified all day long.
When I first applied this, I was quite surprised that there appeared to be small bits in it, it wasn't the same consistency as other moisturisers I have used. It seemed to take quite a while to rub in thoroughly and soak in properly. A lot longer than I was use to waiting before applying make up. After applying making up and heading out for the day, I noticed a couple of hours later, that my skin just looked more oily than it normally did. If anything, this cream appears to highlight the areas where I had oily patches.
However after a few more tries, I did find that my skin felt much better after regular use. Therefore, I have stopped applying this as a morning moisturiser to go under make up and instead as a night cream. It does make the skin feel fresher and softer if used at night.It smells lovely as well, probably the added green tea extract. The product comes in a squeeze tube with a flip top lid, which means that it is easy to get out - however the tube isn't transparent - so you are never sure how much you have left.
Overall, it doesn't combat oily skin as a day cream, however I have seen benefits from using it as a night cream.
As a regular summer music festival goer and the owner of wild hair, it seemed inevitable that I would eventually try this product.
Dry shampoo is an alternative to washing your hair. It claims to banish oily roots and to give dull hair a quick make over, leaving it feeling clean and fresh. Instructions for use are really easy; you simply spray over your hair as you would a hairspray, paying particular attention to the roots, then massage through with your fingers.
On first try, I was genuinely surprised how well this worked. My hair is quite oily and if I don’t wash it every day, it can look quite greasy, particularly near my ears. However, the result did leave my hair looking a lot better and fresher. Not as good as if I had washed it with water and shampoo, but well enough to pass! Application was easy; you do just spray it over and rub it in. The only downside for me is that I have dark hair, so it did take a very thorough rubbing in, so as to not look like I had grey streaks. I imagine if you have blonde hair, this would not be a problem at all. This part of the process can also be a bit messy, so I would recommend that it is not done whist wearing a black top, or you can end up with little white specks on it.
I have used this regularly at festivals and when away camping, but I have also used it before work if I am running late or just can’t be bothered to wash my hair. As a quick, time saving remedy it is ideal! I have also noticed that blasting my hair with a hair dryer after use can make the overall look, appear a bit better and can get rid of any remaining white powder.
Costs approx. £3 for a 200ml can – but as I don’t use it regularly (maybe once, twice a week max) it will last me well over a month
I originally received this as part of a gift set for Christmas and have been delighted with the results! I have always suffered with dry hands and weak nails, so am always eager to try any new hand cream which can solve this for me.
The cream claims to soften, soothe and smooth dry and chapped hands and contains Shea butter, marshmallow and macadamia oil. It is scented with Soap & Glory’s original pink fragrance. They instruct that you can apply it as often as you want.
On application, this cream isn’t too heavy or thick and isn’t at all oily. With some other hand creams that I had tried previously, you have to wait ages for it to soak in. This is not the case with the hand food.
After the first few days of use, my hands were noticeably softer and smoother. Within a couple more weeks, my nails seemed to be stronger and less brittle as well.
As well as being a hand cream which provides deep moisturising, it also smells fabulous. You’d expect the marshmallow fragrance to smell too sweet; however it is just a feminine, pleasant aroma.
I now regularly apply every morning and night as part of my daily skincare routine, as well as at various times throughout the day. They also do a small travel size version which is ideal for keeping in your handbag.
Although this is a little pricey compared to other creams available, it is well worth the purchase. I’ve always liked the Soap & glory range – however I have always viewed it as something you are given as a gift rather than something I’d choose to buy for myself. However, as I sit and write this review, I now have at least four of these little treasures – one by each sink in my house, one in my handbag and one on my desk at work!
I recently tried the L'Oreal Elvive Re-Nutrition Conditioner for two reasons - it was on offer in Tesco and it was specifically for dry or dried out hair. It's sad to admit but I really do abuse my locks! What with having highlights added to my hair on a regular basis and a vicious daily regime of straightening it to within an inch of its life - my hair was starting to fall into the 'dried out' category!
L'Oreal claims that this conditioner will intensely nourish hair and replenish elasticity for bouncy, silky hair. Part of the ingredients are made up from Royal Jelly which adds the 'nourishing element.
This normally costs approx £3.50 for a 400ml bottle but I purchased it in a 2 for 1 offer. However if it was the normal price I still think that it offers fairly good value for such a large bottle.
The conditioner comes in a big 400ml bottle and is shaped so that it stands on its lid. I always like any kind of beauty product that comes in a bottle designed like this as it means that the liquid drips down constantly and you don't have to try and squeeze all the last dregs out.
This is suitable for daily use and you apply as you would any conditioner - after shampooing - then rinse thoroughly.
The conditioner is creamy in colour and smelled very 'fresh' - almost floral. Pleasingly this pleasant smell does linger on your hair even after drying!
On application I found that the conditioner was very thick and creamy. Normally I feel like I have to add quite a lot of conditioner as my hair is so thick - however I only had to add quite a small amount and could easily run my finger through immediately after application. My hair did not feel at all tangled.
However as the conditioner is so thick - it did take an awful lot of rinsing to feel like I had got it all out.
Since using this conditioner regularly I have noticed that the overall condition of my hair has improved. The ends of my hair don't look as dry and I think it does look in better condition and shiner.
I have also noticed that when dry my hair has seemed easier to style - it isn't tangled and straightening has been a lot easier.
Normally I find that I go through conditioners very quickly as I feel that I have to add a lot for it to have any noticeable impact - however I have noticed that since I started using this, I am buying less conditioner. Obviously it is a larger bottle (400ml) but as I am using less of it - overall the bottle is lasting a lot longer.
This really is very effective on dry hair and I will continue to use even at full price!
I recently discovered that my dad has kept every single Father's Day card that I have ever sent him right back to when I was little girl. I thought this was especially sweet so decided this year I would personalize him a card and make it that little bit extra special!
I previously hadn't used MoonPig before - but I thought I would give it a try as I myself had received cards from there for special occasions and birthdays from family and friends and had always appreciated that extra thought and effort that people had made just for little old me!
What is MoonPig?
Moonpig is a website which offers personalized greetings for special occasions. The website has a number of different designs of cards as basic templates. You can then go on, change the content and wording so it is relevant for the person that you are sending the card too.
The cards from Moonpig cater for a number of different occasions including Father's and Mother's Day, Birthdays, Weddings, Engagements, Anniversaries, Valentines and the Birth of a Baby and Christenings. There are also cards for special events such as 'congratulations' for driving tests, new jobs and new homes. You can also personalize card for more serious events where you may require a 'Sorry' or 'Sympathy' card.
There is a great range of cards from funny and humorous, to soppy and loving or more serious. To personalize them you can change the text to fit in with the people that you are sending it too or their personalities or you can upload photographs - so that cards will be printed with your images on.
The website is very easy to navigate and each card is put under a topic such as 'Birthday' or 'Christening'. You simply click on the topic of interest and it takes you through to the selection of cards which are available for that area.
There is a wide range of choice of cards which you can pick from. I myself opted for a card about DIY (which my Dad is officially the King of!!). Once you have selected the card and the size of card that you want - you go through to the next screen. Here the card is clearly shown and the text which you are able to amend is highlighted. On some cards you can just change the names - however other cards particularly those laid out like a magazine cover - means you can change a lot more of the text and actually add full phrases and sentences. On the cards which you can upload a photograph to - there is a symbol of a camera next to the card.
As you amend the text, the changed wording appears on the front of the card so you can see what it will actually look like when it is complete. I amended the text to a family joke regarding my Dad and his love of DIY which I know he will appreciate.
Once you have confirmed the front of the card you are taken through to a next section whereby you can personalize the inside of the card. Here you can change the text size and font and put whatever you want.
I found that the site was very easy to use as at all stages you have the opportunity to view the card before confirming your purchase. This means that you can check for any mistakes and errors - there is also a spell checking function which is very handy!
Costs and Payment
A standard sized card costs £2.99 and a larger card costs £5.99. I think that this is a very reasonable amount as you would expect to pay between £1.75 and £2.99 in a card shop for something that isn't personalized and isn't as exciting.
I think that it is worth the extra cost as if you are going to the effort of personalizing a card, the recipient will hopefully appreciate that you have put in that little bit of extra thought and effort for them. I would consider a personalized card as more of a present than just a standard card - hopefully it will be something that someone will want to keep!
There is also an option to buy a set of 8 postcards for £6. This would probably be useful for newlyweds or parents of a new baby who want to send out 'thanks' for gifts cards - and want multiples of the same card.
Postage and Packing is then added to the cost. The amount for this depends on whether the card is being sent to the buyer (this means that it would include a blank envelope so that they can send the card on) or if it is being sent directly to the recipient. I had the card sent directly to me and it cost an additional 65p.
Checkout is very easy - you simply pay by entering your credit or debit card details, Of If you are likely to use the site on a regular basis you can transfer money into a Moonpig account - so that there are funds available for every time that you wish to use the site.
As mentioned above the card can either be posted directly to the buyer or the recipient. I think I would be a bit wary of sending a customized card directly to the recipient - as I would want to check it out myself first.
If there is a problem and you want to change or cancel your order you can as long as it hasn't already been printed. There is an order history button where you can see the status of your card.
Moonpig normally send their cards out by first class post - however you can also choose to have cards sent by special delivery. If you order before 2pm, Mon - Fri - it will be sent out the same day. If you order after this time slot - it will be sent out the next day. This was my only negative experience with the whole site. I ordered a card on the Sunday and whilst it should have been send out by Moonpig on the Monday for me to receive on the Tuesday - I didn't actually receive it till the Thursday. Obviously it is difficult to determine whether this was the fault of Moonpig or Royal Mail in delivering on time. Therefore I wouldn't use this for last minute cards as there would perhaps be the risk that they wouldn't arrive in time!
Overall I was very, very impressed with Moonpig. They have a great selection of cards which cater for all occasions and the fact that cards can be personalized makes this a bit more special for the recipient. I thought that the actual cost wasn't much more than I would expect to pay in a card shop.
In saying that, I think that for general birthday cards - personalizing them may be going a bit far and may loose some of its novelty value - but for special birthdays and one off occasions I think this is a great way to show people that you have put in a bit of extra thought and effort for them.
This film is a 15 certificate comedy directed by David Wain. I was initially attracted to watch it as it featured two well known comedy performers - Paul Rudd (Friends, Knocked Up and 40 Year old Virgin) and Seann William Scott (Stifler in American Pie).
The film focuses on the two characters of Danny (played by Paul Rudd) and Wheeler (played by Seann William Scott). They work for 'Minotaur' an energy drinks company. They spend their days driving from school to school giving presentations to encourage children to stay off drugs and to get their natural hit from energy drinks instead. Danny having worked at the company for 10 years feels like he is stuck in a rut and is in a bit of a downward spiral - negative about many aspects of his life. Wheeler on the other hand is enjoying a life of one night stands and spends his day dressed up as a big hairy Minotaur - he really couldn't be happier.
Danny attempts to claw his way out of his rut by proposing to girlfriend Beth. She in return rejects him and then ends their relationship which sends Danny on an energy drink fuelled rampage at a school. He ruins a car and damages the school property and his misbehavior lands him and Wheeler in trouble with the police.
Danny and Wheeler can either opt for a jail sentence or 150 hours of community service working for an organization called Sturdy Wings. This is a project where younger children known around the group as 'smalls' are teamed up with adults 'bigs' in a buddying system. Danny is teamed up with Augie Farks (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) a super geek of a teenage boy who spends more time in the fantasy world of Laire than in the one that the rest of us inhabit. He is obsessed with mediaeval reenactments and is a bit of an outcast amongst other children and his parents - mainly because he continuously wears a cape. Wheeler gets teamed up with Ronnie, (Bobbie J Thompson) a pint sized ten year old boy, with a very foul mouth, an obsession with boobs and a very, very big attitude.
The story follows Wheeler and Danny's attempts as they try to survive their community service and eventually reevaluate their own lives to overcome their selfishness and become better role models.
I really liked the character of Wheeler played by Sean William Scott. He is best known for his role as Stiffler in American Pie and he plays quite a similar version of this character, if not arguably better in Role Models. As a woman I probably really shouldn't like his character at all as he's sexist, very crude, degrading in the way he talks about women and is also borderline sleazy in his approach to women. However I really couldn't help liking him! I thought his timing was excellent and his facial expression often made me laugh more than anything that he was actually saying. However, I am still waiting for the day where Sean William Scott plays a character that isn't just referred to by his surname!
Wheeler also provides the key catchphrase from the film telling Danny to, 'put your game face on!' whenever he starts to moan or get fed up. This has already caught on amongst people in my office at work!
Similarly, Paul Rudd plays a character that we are use to seeing in his other films. This portrayal of a heartbroken, depressive man with a very dry sense of humour reminded me very much of his character from 40 Year old Virgin.
The two actors who played the children as well were excellent. The geeky character of Augie has a very deadpan face and is convincingly acted by Christopher Mintz-Plasse. However it is the character of Ronnie which outshines the rest of the cast - simply because he has the best one liners in the whole script and quite frankly one of the crudest mouths on a pint sized person I have ever seen.
Whilst I really did enjoy this film and I did find it very funny, there wasn't as much laugh out loud humour as I would have liked or indeed expect. The whole scenario of Role Models for children as part of community service could have provided more amusing scenes.
The comedy in the film is not at all intelligent and is manly based on sexual innuendo, crude language, school boy humour and situations which are not politically correct.
However this is all very amusing!
Role Models is a very easy watch - you don't have to concentrate on it at all -but it is very funny!
I recently went to visit Eden Camp Museum in Malton, North Yorkshire with my friend who is a primary school teacher. Her class was planning to study Britain during World War Two the following term and she wanted to check the museum out before she took them there on a school trip. I have a background in historical studies so am always interested in trying out a new place - geeky girl that I am!
Eden Camp Museum is set on the site of a former Prisoner of War Camp. It had originally been built in 1942 and housed Italian and German prisoners until 1948. In 1986 a local businessman discovered that the camp was still intact and that 33 of the original huts that housed the prisoners remained in the same condition that they had been in when the prisoners left in the late 1940's. He bought the site and started the redevelopment of the area in to the museum that it is today.
Eden Camp is not like any museum that I have ever visited before. On arrival you immediately notice original military airplanes, vehicles and tanks restored from World War Two. This sight sets the scene for what you will find through the gates into the grounds of the museum. On entry to the site you see the huts that had formerly housed the prisoners in the 1940's. A perimeter fence surrounds the camp grounds which reminds you that this did use to be a prisoner of war camp and that you are standing amongst the grounds of a little bit of history.
Each of the 33 huts within the camp houses a different part of the exhibition. The huts are numbered and the idea is that if you follow them chronologically - you follow a historical timeline of events during the war. Each hut is fascinating and the exhibits have been recreated using lighting, sounds and smell to create very life like scenes.
Hut 1 - Charts the historical events leading up to the declaration of World War Two. It focuses on the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party and includes playbacks of the dramatic broadcast that announced the declaration of war in 1939.
Huts 2 and 4 - focus on the Home Front and Britain's preparations for war. This includes children being evacuated and clothing and food rationing being introduced. Hut 4 shows the introduction of gas masks and air raid shelters. A full sized example of a Morrison shelter is recreated in a 1940's front room demonstrating how they became commonplace.
Hut 3 - Focuses on the Merchant Navy at war and how the German U Boat proved to be a deadly weapon against great British ships. The whole hut is recreated to look like the insides of a submarine.
Hut 5 - is especially eerie and shows the true devastation of the blitz. In this hut you can actually hear the sounds of an air raid attack and actually smell the burning rubble. There is a very authentic reconstruction of a bombed out street whish shows the results of a direct attack on mainland Britain.
Hut 6 provides some lighter relief after the recreation of the blitz in Hut 5. This is the Eden Camp music hall where you can hear radio broadcasts which would have been popular during the period. There is also a wartime production of a puppet show in this hut - with performances shown several times a day.
Huts 7 and 8 - again focus on the Home Front during the war. There is a recreated street showing the types of goods which would have been on sale (which is a good way to demonstrate the limitations due to rationing).
Hut 8 focuses on the role of women during the war, we are shown a munitions worker in a factory and land army girls.
Hut 9 shows a bomber commander room which a huge map in the centre and staff around the outskirts planning their war strategy
Hut 10 focuses on the prisoners of war and gives a real insight into the history of Eden Camp and what it would have actually been like during the 1940s when it did actually house prisoners of war. You lean that Eden Camp occupied Italian and German prisoners from May 1942 to 1948. There were 64 prisoners to a hut (which gives you an idea of the condition that the prisoners lived in as the huts aren't actually that large!)
Hut 13 - gives a more up to date perspective on wartime focusing on conflicts from 1945 to the present day. Information on conflicts such as the Gulf war, Korean War and Falklands is given.
Hut 18 - consists of war news reading room - where newspapers from virtually everyday of the war can be browsed through to see what is happening.
Hut 20 focuses on conscription and national service as well as conscientious objectors and the role of religious organizations like the Salvation Army and the YMCA during the war.
Hut 21 looks at Civil Defense - you can see the tea wagon, the first aid post, fireman and the Red Cross all try to restore a sense of normality after an air raid.
Huts 24, 25, 26 and 27 - focus on the political and strategic aspects of World War Two and focuses on the major battles and campaigns and how events led to the war becoming global. This is an interesting section of the museum as instead of focusing on the 'people' involved in war - it is more about the involvement of countries. D Day, the Normandy Landings, the Balkan Campaign, Pearl Harbour, VE day, the Holocaust and the nuclear bomb are also included in this section.
There is also a model of the tunnel used by the escaping POWs (of which the film 'The Great Escape' is based.
The Eden Camp Chapel of Remembrance is located in Hut 29. This includes memorial plaques and allows visitors a quiet place to reflect on what they have seen in the museum.
Other amenities on the museums site are also housed in the huts. Hut 15 hosts the souvenir shop where you can buy various memorabilia and souvenirs from Eden Camp. Items such as postcards, newspaper facsimiles, books, as well as reproduction ration books and identity cards are all available. Huts 16, 17 and 19 all host a canteen, tearooms and a bar area. Huts 30, 31 and 32 are the mess huts where visiting school children can sit and eat their packed lunches.
The museum also has a large collection of military vehicles which are great to have your photo taken next to. These include Sherman tanks as well as Spitfire and hurricane aircrafts and V1 doodlebug flying bomb.
Wow! What a Place! This museum has won numerous awards for tourism and I can see why! The exhibitions are fascinating and very well put together. The moving figures, authentic smells and sounds utilize all your senses and transport you back in time to the British Home Front.
The exhibition is carefully constructed with historical accuracies - for example a reconstructed blitzed street and a living room of a typical 1940s home to name but a few.
Eden Camp isn't like other military museums in that instead of focusing on battles and military strategy - its emphasis is on the 'people' during the war. The majority of the huts examine life in Britain during the war and the sacrifices made by the people. Because the exhibits focus on people you can identify with them a lot more, feel sympathy for what they went through and admire their spirit and the way they all adapted and got on with what would have been devastating events in their lives.
There really is something for everyone here - young or old. It is very educational and very realistic and would certainly appeal to people of all ages.
The only negative I could find is that on the day I visited it was raining and I got a bit wet walking from hut to hut.
Location and Opening Times
Eden Camp is located in Malton, North Yorkshire. It is open daily from 10 -5 o'clock with last admission at 4 o'clock. The museum is open all year round from 2nd January to 23rd December. It costs £5 for adults and £4 for children and senior citizens - which I thought was a really good price for a museum of this calibre.
It takes approx 3-4 hours to get round but as this museum is extremely popular with visiting schools groups it may take a bit longer.
A Brilliant Place!
I was initially very relieved to find the Weight Watchers Double Chocolate Chip Cookies in the local supermarket. I do like a biscuit with a cup of tea but had been trying very hard to stick to the points I had been allocated by Weight Watchers. Before I saw these biscuits I thought my tea drinking - biscuit dunking days were well and truly over!
The biscuits come in a cardboard box which has the number of Weight Watcher points that the biscuits are worth written on the side. This is very handy for people following the points programme as they don't have to work out what the biscuits are worth and how they will effect their point's consumption for the day.
When you open the box you find 6 individual packets of biscuits, wrapped in clear cellophane - each individual pack contains 2 biscuits. I do like the fact that the biscuits come in individually wrapped portions of 2 as it means that they stay fresh unlike a packet of biscuits that has been opened. It also means that you can just pop them in you bag in case you want a snack later. It also means that you are likely to just stick to 2 biscuits in a single portion and resist the temptation to open another packet. However part of me does feel that even though all this additional packaging is very beneficial - it is also unfortunately quite wasteful!
The biscuits actually look quite thin and on tasting them I was quite disappointed. They were quite crunchy and hard and normally I would expect a 'cookie' type biscuit to be chewier in texture.
Although the cookies are supposed to be 'double chocolate' there was not enough of a chocolate taste for me to get my satisfactory chocolate hit! They did contain chocolate chips but these were very, very small and very few in number so are barely worth mentioning. In fact the taste of the cookies was quite oaty in comparison to the chocolaty taste I was expecting and whilst they were sweet it wasn't a sweet taste from chocolate.
In terms of nutrional information a portion of 2 cookies contains 102 calories, 3.8 grams of fat with 1.4 grams being saturated fat.
For those following the Weight Watchers Points programme - these biscuits are worth 1 ½ points for a portion of 2.
I probably did expect too much from these in terms of taste - after all they aren't going to be that full of chocolate if they are a calories controlled 'dieting' type biscuit!
However normally food from the Weight Watchers range is very good and usually doesn't disappoint me at all - so I was quite surprised that I didn't like these very much.
These biscuits cost approx 75p in Supermarkets which are quite reasonable price for a packet of biscuits - however I would be unlikely to purchase these again.
This review is based on the flim, 'Changeling' directed by Clint Eastwood.
Changeling is set in Los Angeles in 1928 and tells the true and astonishing story of Christine Collins (played by Angelina Jolie). Christine is a single mother bringing up her young son Walter alone. She works at the telephone exchange and one day, after leaving Walter alone whilst she went to cover a shift, she returns home to find that he has mysteriously disappeared.
After five months of a totally incompetent police investigation, the Los Angeles Police Department informs Christine that a nine year old boy matching Walters's description has been found. What is more, the boy himself claims that he is in fact the missing Walter Collins. Christine is reunited with the child who claims to be her 'son' however she insists that she knows that this is not her child. Her claims are dismissed by the police department who use the media to publicly accuse her of being a liar and unfit mother.
Not to give too much of the remaining plot away but what follows is an exciting and emotional series of twists and turns as Christine, with the support of local minister Reverend Briegleb, desperately tries to convince the authorities that this is not her child. Revelations of police corruption, brutality and the fate of Walter Collins follow in what really is a very dramatic and moving film.
Angelina Jolie plays the character of Christine Collins and in my opinion she really does deserve the praise and award nominations that she received for her performance in this role. I had previously always thought of Angelina Jolie as a bit of a 'lad's mag' pin up, particularly after her role as Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider films. However her portrayal of Christine Collins and the misery and despair that she was going through due to her son's disappearance evoked real sympathy from me. I genuinely felt very anxious and an incredible sense of injustice for the character in many parts of the film.
Her performance of the incredibly determined Christine Collins has proved that there is a lot more to Angelina Jolie then just a pouty face.
The remaining main characters of the film all turn out strong and convincing performances. Michael Kelly plays the utterly vile Detective Ybarra a truly unpleasant and arrogant character that is in the centre of the police corruption and will go to any lengths to protect the reputation of the Los Angeles Police Department. John Malckovich plays the kind Reverend Gustav Briegleb, a local minister in whom Christine Collins finds a supportive ally. He is single handedly trying to expose the corruption within the police department.
The Setting - 1920's Los Angeles
Clint Eastwood has convincingly recreated a 1920s Los Angeles not only through the set, buildings and clothing worn by the characters but also in the actual colour quality of the film itself. There are no bright colours, it is all very somber and dark - almost like the entire film has been washed out.
This dulled down colouring adds to the atmosphere of the period.
Furthermore the treatment of women in this film is an excellent example of how this is a society from the past. Nobody believes Christine Collins even though she has proof that the child that has been returned to her is not the real Walter and that she is actually living with a complete stranger.
She is just belittled and made out to be either a liar or simply a hysterical woman. The film shows how a woman's opinion can be mocked and means very little against the authority of men. On her journey for the truth we also meet other women who have been silenced and intimidated by the police department, often in a very brutal and cruel manner.
I knew nothing of this dramatic story before I started watching the film. My only previous knowledge of Changeling was just that Angelina Jolie has been nominated for an Academy Award for her performance. To be honest I am glad I had no prior knowledge as this made it all the more engaging. It was far darker and disturbing than I had initially anticipated and I not only found it very moving but also extremely thought provoking. I always know when a film has had a profound effect on me as I keep thinking about it several days after viewing and this has certainly been the case with this movie.
Whilst I did find this quite a grisly tale and disturbing in parts, I was utterly engrossed by the exciting and emotional twists and turns. Although quite long at 140 minutes, you are so engrossed in the sheer desperation of Christine Collins that you barley notice the length of the film. A fabulous film from Clint Eastward which is compulsive viewing.
Changeling - Certificate 15
My hair is above shoulder length but is really, really thick! Therefore my hairdresser chops some layers into it to get rid of some of the bulkiness. I like to apply some hair serum to define my layers or more often I end up looking like I've had my hair cut with a knife and fork! I often try new versions as I have found that many, even when added sparingly, can make my hair look greasy - even after its just been washed. This is not a good look!
I'm not normally in to buying designer hair care products and usually just stick to your more household branded products - but this was on offer so I thought I would give it a go.
I was trying a 30ml bottle of serum. On the bottle of the serum it claims that the liquid creates maximum shine and definition, will smooth fly away hair and seal spilt ends. The instructions indicate that you should apply 2-3 pumps of the liquid through wet hair, comb thoroughly and then blow dry. It can also be used sparingly on dry hair.
I found that as the bottle had a pump action head it meant that you could control the amount that you were using. This was much easier then just pouring it into your palm and hoping for the best that you didn't end up looking too greasy!
The serum itself is an oily, smelless, liquid. Whilst on your palm it didn't feel too greasy though - some serums I have used previously have taken a couple of hand washes to get off my palm as they have been that oily. I thought that this would bode well for my hair!
I found that after blow-drying my hair did look quite shiny and was a lot easier to manage. There wasn't so much static as I sometimes got and it didn't seem to be as flyaway. However I did find that it felt a bit greasy to me. Since then I have just added 1 pump instead of the recommended 2-3, whilst I have wet hair and I have found that this has improved it somewhat.
However I did find that this serum is best added after washing and drying your hair. Adding one pump of serum whilst styling my hair has ensured that it isn't flyaway for a few hours and that my layers are clearly defined. It ensures that I don't look like I have been dragged through a hedge!
I also really like the small size of the bottle as you can carry it around with you throughout the day and can apply as soon as your hair starts to look unruly. It's also great for taking away on holiday or trips.
This has been my favourite hair serum so far and whilst it can leave you with greasy locks if used before you dry your hair, I find that if used when styling the results are really good. My hair certainly looks more sleek and shiny and any stray bits gets smoothed down. I would certainly say that this is my favourite hair serum that I have come across so far.
This cost me £2.75 as it was on offer at the time of purchase. I think normally it approx £3.50
My area of decking on the back garden has been a real labour of love for me. When I bought my home 3 years ago, the house itself had previously been empty for a year and was so inhabitable it took 6 months of DIY, paying workmen and hours of work to get it to a state where I could actually move in! Needless to say the garden wasn't especially pretty either.
The decking hadn't been erected very well in the first place - it was loose and dangerous in some areas and had been stained a very unpleasant blue colour by the previous owner. Add to that a year of neglect whilst the house was stood empty and as you can imagine it looked quite a sight!
The decking itself leads straight from the patio doors and is raised about 2 foot off the ground with a small set of steps leading onto the garden. The decking floor area is also surrounded by decorative spindles - it's quite a large area stretching across the length of the house itself. I recognized that with a bit of time and repair this had great potential to look very nice and be a great place to have a patio table, BBQ and to sit out in the summer. So against the advice of well meaning family and friends who thought I should just tear it all down and start again - so began the weekends of restoration!
After I had repaired it so it didn't wobble anymore and was basically safe (best place to start really!) - I set about trying to get rid of all the stains, algae, mildew, dirt, mould and all round nasty stuff that appeared to be living on there. There also seemed to be quite a vile layer of grease across the surface of it as well.
I purchased the Ronseal Decking Cleaner as it promised to remove all the nasty stuff as well as getting rid of the blue stain that was also on there. The Decking cleaner is also supposed to clean wood by opening its pores and will also restore it to a natural timber look.
I purchased a 5 litre container of this which states that you can clean 20-24 square meters in area. This was the only size available in the shop and would actually be large enough to clean about 3 times as much decking as I had.
Firstly and to ensure best results I sweeped the decking of as much of the moss and mould as I could. This works best with a stiff yard brush. I also used a knife to remove any of the dirt and moss that had got in between the wooden decking floor.
You then pour the decking cleaner directly onto the wooden area, scrub with a stiff wooden brush and then leave for 15-20 minutes. You then wash the cleaner off.
Whilst the container was fine for applying on the wooden floor it was really difficult to add the cleaner to the spindles and banister. This is because the container was very heavy to lift and also because it has quite a thick spout. When your poured it, the cleaner went gushing down the spindles onto the grass below. This concerned me a bit as I wasn't entirely sure whether the ingredients would damage the grass. In the end I ended up pouring some of the cleaner into a squirty bottle with a finger trigger so that I could spray it directly on to the spindles and hard to reach areas.
I also found that using a jet wash worked very well to get the cleaner off thoroughly. Though if using a jet wash you do have to ensure that it isn't on a very high pressure or you do run the risk of damaging your wood.
The decking cleaner worked really well and certainly removed the algae, mould, dirt and nasty greasy layer. I ended up cleaning it twice in total though as removing the blue stain took a couple of goes. However this may have been more to do with the fact that my decking was in such a neglected state and not because of the cleaner.
The cleaner cost approx £9.99 and I think it is worth the price if you are going to restain your decking and want to treat your wood properly and get it back to its original colour beforehand.
The only reason I didn't give it a higher rating is because of the sheer size of the container. Because it was a whopping 5 litre container I still have loads of it left. The main problem with this is that it strips the colour off your decking (so you can't use it as regular cleaning substance) which is a shame as it was so good at removing the mould, grease and dirt. Although it can also be used for fences, garden furniture and other exterior wood so I may find a use for it yet.
Also I do think applying it to hard to reach places and spindles is really difficult because of the sheer size and design of the container. These areas also need quite a lot of cleaning as you do get a lot of spiders webs on there which get stuck on the wood. I did find that adding the cleaner into a smaller squirty bottle worked really well for me for applying it to the spindles.
Overall the cleaner did work very well I have lovely clean, mould and grease free decking (and a half full whopping container of cleaning fluid left!)
Last November I was treated to a day at Eden Hall Spa in Newark near Nottinghamshire by my boss. Me and another colleague had just spent a month working late nights for 6 or 7 days a week to finish a project with very tight deadlines. We were both very tired, stressed, unhappy and hadn't had a life of our own for a month - so this came as a very welcome break! We initially chose Eden Hall as it was in a convenient location for us both (also as work were paying and this was the most expensive Spa in the area - we thought we should take advantage of this!!)
I have been to Spas before but they have always been attached to a hotel. However Eden Hall is a day spa - and as this is its main line of business they certainly pulled out all the stops and thought of all the additional extras to make this a great day for visitors.
On arrival to the Spa we were greeted in reception by a woman carrying a tray of warm, fruit drinks. This was a very warm welcome, as it was the middle of winter and was freezing outside!
After a very simple check in you enter the dressing rooms. You are allocated a locker which includes a personal timetable telling you when your treatments are booked in for and at what times you can have your lunch. You are also given a card which you can use to charge additional food, drink or treatments to your bill. This is convenient as it means you don't have to carry any money around or keep nipping back to the changing rooms.
You are also given a bath robe and towels (which you can exchange at any time should they get too damp) Also lockers are key pad activated - so you choose your own pin number - this also means that you don't have to carry a key around all day.
The Spa Area
In the Spa itself there are various little rooms you can enter which are supposed to offer various relaxing properties and benefits. On the wall as you enter the Spa there is a list which shows you the ideal order in which to go into the rooms to achieve maximum benefits. It also explains how long you should ideally stay in there for.
The steam room has heated ceramic seats which are very relaxing - the idea of this room is that you relax in the steamy atmosphere and it is supposed to detox the skin. I am not normally very keen on steam rooms as they make me a bit claustrophobic - but the atmosphere in here wasn't too thick so I really enjoyed it.
Similar to a steam room but it is herbal aromas in the air instead. The herbal aromas are supposed to act as natural aromatherapy.
This is a combination of a normal dry sauna and a wet steam room. I found this the most claustrophobic of the rooms as it was too warm - but my friend really enjoyed it in here and kept popping back in whilst I was in the pool. This atmosphere is supposed to be really good for relaxing your muscles and soothing any stiffness in them.
This was very warm (approx 95ºC) - Saunas are great for opening up pores and flushing out body impurities
This has a stove full of hot coal in the middle of the room which gives off a lot of heat. However the floors and seating are made up of cold tiles so this is quite an interesting combination. According to Eden Hall this is supposed to be very good for stimulating the immune system.
There is also an outdoor pool area (which wasn't open as we attended in November). However there was the most wonderful hot tub on the outside decking area which we could use. This was very refreshing - sitting outside in the cold, winter air but in a lovely, warm, bubbly hot tub!
There is a large indoor swimming pool (25m) - this was nice to go in and have a gentle swim and as there was so many other rooms in the Spa this was never crowded. The pool also has lots of water fountains squirting over it and massage jets situated in the pool to aim water at various parts of your body. I found it relaxing to let these jets massage my shoulders whilst in the water.
There is the option to take part in Aerobic classes which I didn't opt for - mainly because this was my day to relax and all that seemed a little bit too energetic. However Eden Hall does offer Pilates, Yoga and then more energetic exercise classed like bums and tums and step. There is also a fully equipped gymnasium - but I couldn't be bothered to set foot near there either!
Throughout the Spa there are also various areas with big loungers, chairs and giant bean bags where you can just sit and have a snooze and relax. I managed a sleep on a giant bean bag for a good hour which is unlike me as I really hate falling asleep in public!
The Spa also offers a very long list of the various treatments which you can have. These mainly focus on the body, hands, feet or face although there are also beauty treatments like eyebrow shaping and waxing available.
The list of what is available is very comprehensive and explains to you exactly what the treatment is, what lotions or potions are used and what the treatment is supposed to achieve. It also explains who it is unsuitable for (e.g. pregnant woman or allergy sufferers).
I opted for an Aromatic Body Massage - which was supposed to relive all signs of stress and fatigue. It used a combination of Shiatsu and Swedish massage.
For this treatment I was taken into a small, low lit room. There was gentle music playing and it was already a very relaxing environment. The masseuse asked me if there was any particular area I wanted her to focus on and I said my neck and shoulders (these were the areas in which I felt most tense.)The massage was absolutely brilliant - I could actively feel the masseuse removing knots from neck and shoulders and after my shoulders felt so light. I really liked the fact that the masseuse made no attempt to make chit chat with me (not that I'm anti social or anything!) she just massaged me silently whilst I listened to the music and it was such a wonderfully relaxing experience.
I would recommend booking your treatment before you go so you are not disappointed on arrival.
Normally when I have been to other Spas the lunch has always been really, really healthy and small in portion size. However the food here was absolutely fantastic - I had a big lamb shank for my main which was absolutely beautiful. There is also a wonderful salad bar for you too pick and choose what you want. Whilst the food was healthy - it was also delicious and there was plenty of it - which just added to the luxury of the day. There is also a juice bar offering smoothies and refreshments.
Prices and Location
There are 2 Eden Hall Spas - in both Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire and there is a very comprehensive website which explains the different packages and treatments which are available. www.edenspa.co.uk
There are various packages available for example - those which are suitable for pregnant women, those which are supposed to pamper or relax you - this will include entry to the Spa and a treatment.
Or you can pay for the Spa separately and then just pick what treatment that you want.
My massage cost just over £50 for an hour and entry to the Spa for a day was £69. This allows you use of the swimming pool, Aqua Detox facilities, gym and fitness classes and a 3 course lunch.
I have visited other Spa before but they have normally been attached to a hotel. This was the first actual day spa I have attended. I think that because this is their main focus of business they have gone all out to make this a wonderful day for visitors.
I was so relaxed after this experience I slept all the way home in the car (fortunately I wasn't driving) I also had an early night that evening and just slept and slept. The next day I felt so wonderfully refreshed and relaxed. It was just great!!
I am a little bit obsessive about eyeliner in that even if I go out without any other make up on - I never feel fully dressed without my eye liner. This is surprising as I am officially rubbish at applying it! Previously I always had to use a liquid liner on my top lids (as I couldn't cope with a pencil) and kohl pencil eyeliner on my lower lids (as I always smudged a liquid liner.) Since finding the Liner Stylo from Bourjois I haven't needed either of the above and what's more - it is an absolutely brilliant product!
Bourjois claim that this eyeliner combines the ease of a pencil with the long-wearing hold of a liquid liner. As I am not very good at applying either - I was very interested to see how well I would get on with this.
I think that the main part of the appeal for me about the Liner Stylo is in the design of the eyeliner itself. The casing for the eyeliner is basically a black, plastic tube. You twist it from the bottom and the pencil part of the eyeliner appears - so it actually has a retractable nib. The benefits of this are that you can't over sharpen the eyeliner and you also won't accidently knock the tip off (and tread it in your cream carpets like I so often have done!)
You actually don't really need a sharpener at all - as because you can retract the nib back into the casing - it is protected. However should you accidently break the nib then you simply remove the other end of the eye liner to discover a little sharpener. This is a really useful feature as I often forget or just cannot find a pencil sharpener to sharpen eyeliners. I also found that as I didn't ever have to sharpen the eyeliner I didn't run the risk of getting tiny, little pencil sharpening in my eye which can be very sore and irritating!
Overall, this eyeliner has a great design.
In terms of actual application I found that the eyeliner feels very smooth as you put it on your face - it is soft to apply and you don't have to press on really hard like you have to with a regular eyeliner pencil. This probably comes from the beeswax which is an added ingredient to the eyeliner. I managed to very easily, very straightly and successfully apply to both my top and bottom lids which I think was helped by the angle of the nib of the liner.
As well as being very easy to apply and looking great when finished - this eyeliner seemed to be relatively smudge free as well. Often I can look like a Panda by mid-day but I found this to be very long wearing.
I have to be especially careful when buying eye make up (mascaras and eyeliners in particular) as I have quite sensitive eyes. I also wear contact lenses which can make my eyes very watery. Fortunately this eyeliner did not irratate my eyes in general or whilst wearing my contact lenses.
I think this is really great - the quality of the eyeliner and the overall design of the product make this one of my most favourie items in my make up bag.
At approx £4.99 - this is quite pricey for an eyeliner but the results and ease of application make it well worth the money.
You can buy this from most larger supermarkets and stores like Boots and Superdrug.
What's it all about?
Go Ape basically consists of a giant obstacle course in a forest - however instead of the course being on the ground - its high up in the trees! Each course features ladders, walkways, bridges and tunnels made of wood, rope and wire and a very exciting 'zip line' (which gets your feet safely back on the floor again!) I have now been to Go Ape twice - both occasions were for hen dos.
On arrival at Go Ape you are greeted by an instructor who explains all of the safety regulations in a half hour session to ensure your day goes smoothly and without incident. They are very thorough in their explanation of how to get yourself safely around the course and I personally found this very reassuring! You are then fitted with your safety equipment which includes a harness and a pulley system. You are also encouraged to check eachothers safety equipment regularly throughout the course.
How it works is that you initially climb a ladder to start the course. Before you climb the ladder however you attach yourself (using the safety equipment) to a thick metal wire. This wire runs the entire length of the course and you are taught at the beginning by the instructor that you should always have one of your safety attachments attached to the wire or to the obstacle (this means that you are never on the obstacle course without being attached to something.)
The course is set out in approx 5 parts - each part being a series of obstacles before heading down a zip wire. Each part gets progressively higher and harder with the zip lines getting longer. Initially you start the course on quite a low level with quite easy obstacles - very simple rope ladders and rope bridges followed by a short line zip line.
This first section is also not very high off the ground. This gradually gets more and more difficult till you end up with more challenging obstacles which are set higher off the ground. I found this progression of courses to be particularly useful as it meant that it built my confidence - by the end I wasn't finding the obstacles that daunting.
To access each part of the course you climb a ladder. Once up in the trees you have to navigate your way through a variety of different obstacles. These can vary from simple walkways, to stepping from log to log, rope bridges, tunnels, trapezes, rope swings and rope ladders. You feel perfectly safe if you slip (which I did once!) as you are caught in your harness (so don't fall) and can just find your feet again and continue with the adventure.
Each obstacle is separated by a wooden platform which gives you the opportunity to catch your breath and have a think about how you are going to complete the next obstacle. I also found that as your friends are normally stood on here waiting for their turn - then they can offer you encouragement or make suggestions as to the best way to get through the obstacle.
I didn't need to worry about not being able to do different parts of the course as when there was a particularly tricky obstacle - there was also an alternative route which was much easier. These routes are clearly labelled as 'easy' or 'hard'.
The hardest part of the course for me was swinging from a Tarzan rope into a cargo net. You then had to climb up the net onto the next platform - this made me realise how little upper body strength I actually have! The best part of the course is the zip lines - which is probably the most adrenaline pumping part - zipping through the trees down a wire on to the ground below. This is the bit at which I got most dirty though as I kept forgetting to put my feet down and just skidded through the leaves instead.
There are also instructors scattered throughout the course to help you out if you get stuck or have any problems.
The Social Aspect
Because the people on the hen dos were from different circles of friends of the bride (e.g. school, university, work) there were groups of people in our party who had never met before. However this experience takes everyone out of their comfort zone and you are all in the same boat.
As you are encouraging each other to get through the obstacles, checking each others safety gear - it led to talking and cooperation between team members and almost meant that you had to have a level of trust in people that you didn't know. This meant by that evening we were all firm friends! I would imagine this would also be a really good event for a works team building exercise as it encourages communication and cooperation.
I felt perfectly safe all the way through this - more so after I had my slip and realised that my safety harness would catch me!
I am actually scared of heights as well. I can happily go in a hot air balloon ride but much to my embarrassment I have been known to freeze and sob my socks off whilst up a step ladder painting the ceiling! I have a ridiculous fear of heights - expect its just a fear of not particularly high heights!
Whilst I was nervous before we arrived, the fact that the course gets progressively more difficult was very reassuring for me and helped me build in confidence. Because of a fear of heights I found this probably more personally challenging than others in my group and I was left with a huge sense of achievement on finishing it.
You don't have to be particularly fit or healthy to do the course. We just took it at our own pace and there were children as young as 10 taking part so you don't have to be especially strong either.
Locations and Price
The course took us about 3-4 hours to complete and it costs approx £25 for an adult and £20 for a child. There are 22 sites all around the UK which offer the Go Ape Experience. There is a very comprehensive website (www.goape.co.uk) which includes details of locations, frequently asked questions and photographs of the obstacles and people undertaking the course.
This is such a brilliant day out and I have loved it every time I have been. It gets the adrenaline pumping and is great, great fun! Would highly recommend to everyone!