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My dad bought a new car recently and when he got it home we sorted through the interior and inside we found what appeared to be the remnants of a European road trip. Aside from abandoned hiking clothes, a compass, secret stashes of pound coins and lots of change in Euros in coat pockets and hidden in various compartments we found a few CDs and this Norah Jones album 'Come Away With Me' still playing when we turned the music system on. Jones released the album in 2002 and at the time I recall it being played all over the place. However, I was younger then and wasn't really feeling it. However, after finding all of this stuff in my father's car and hearing Norah's voice pipe up as we started the engine up the music really got to me. I've been listening to the album ever since and dreaming of taking my own much dreamed of road trip. The album comprises of fourteen tracks. I already knew three of them: her two hugely successful tracks 'Come Away With Me' and 'Don't Know Why'. Jones also sings a cover version of the old classic 'The Nearness of You' which I was familiar with prior to hearing this cover. All of the tracks have the same kind of style and tone and sometimes it feels like the whole album is one long track with just a few variations of mood and rhythm. I would describe the style as being a blend of soft jazz and blues with touches of folk and pop. It's a very relaxing mix that makes you feel like you have been spellbound or that you are falling into a dream. The music has a bare bones style which allows Jones' voice to dominate and seduce. Her voice is like black-coffee and cream - it is soft but strong and it is terribly beautiful and touching and a voice you can identify with. She sings best when the songs are mellow and ambling. Her attempt to be snappy and snazzy on the jazzier numbers comes across as being slightly staged although she still sings as though she enjoys the performance. Many of the songs feature lyrics which are contemplative or which have a vague dreaminess about them which embodies the sense of an endless, lazy summer day. The writing has a intelligent, poetic style and the observations she makes have a maturity to them. Every single track on the album contains a message that is capable of drawing a listener in and really engaging them. I think the best tracks on the album are her most well known tracks 'Don't Know Why' and 'Come Away With Me'. The first of these tracks opens the album is upbeat in mood with a sleepy, lilting style that makes me feel warm and cheerful. The latter track is more atmospheric, darkly intense and romantic. There are some unusual and notable touches to the album. 'Lonestar', for instance, is a track that mimics old-school American country and Western music yet it does so in a very subtle way whilst still retaining the essence of Norah Jones and her contemporary blues/jazz album. It's a very clever arrangement. 'Feelin The Same Way' is a faster paced track which sounds like a pop song that has been stripped down to a cleaner acoustic sound. 'Painter Song' has a curious European busker edge to it which is pretty and unusual. 'Cold Cold Heart' is bouncy and sultry with a classic jazz formation. I have artists in my music collection who are very similar to Norah Jones. Bic Runga, for example, is an artist I would highly recommend should you like this particular album. My own feelings about my original reception of Norah Jones and this album is that I perhaps was a bit put off because the album was so commercially successful and possibly a bit overplayed at the time. I also doubted Norah's talent because I assumed her presence on the music scene was due only to her association with Ravi Shankar (her father). I am glad I have found this album now though, or rather that this album found me! I've been playing it again and again and it instantly takes me to a place where I'm serene and positive and dreaming about the day when I can take my own road trip - I've always wanted to meander my way around France - and if or when I ever pack up and go I'm taking this album with me to play on the road!
I usually buy basic white supermarket branded bars of soap as they are so cheap but recently I fancied a bit of a change. I saw this 4 pack of Shield Soap and the packaging design made me think the soap would be cleansing and refreshing, so I bought the pack. There are four 115g sized bars of deodorising soap in the pack. They are individually wrapped in white recyclable paper packets and enclosed in a plastic wrapper. The outer wrap is a bright turquoise colour with a water splash design which makes me think of warm tropical beaches and refreshing waves. On the back of this wrapper there is a little bit of information about the product but not a whole lot. However, the brand do advise you to visit their website for more information (address is below). The soap is made by a brand called Ceuta Healthcare and I had not heard of this brand name before. Their contact details are printed on the pack. Full ingredients are also listed on the packet. After visiting the website I discovered that this soap has been around since 1976 (I had a vague memory of this soap from my childhood!) and the website claims it is the UK's number one deodorising soap. After a brand takeover in the noughties the manufacturing of the product fell to Ceuta who now sell it in seven other countries. The soap is a large, sturdy bar that is coloured a beautiful pale green. The soap has the Shield logo stamped on one side and is shaped so that there is an indent along the middle of the soap on both sides. This makes the soap easier to hold and also to position during baths. The soap has a fragrance that is very sharp, clean and soapy. I would describe the scent as being more masculine than feminine but it hasn't really mattered to me as I've used the soap. It smells rather similar to a man's underarm deodorant or an aftershave. This fragrance is left on the skin after drying but on my dry skin it simply smells like I'm super clean rather than being overly manly. The soap lathers really well either applied straight to the skin or onto a sponge. The foam bubbles are sloppy and they feel moisturising. I feel that the soap cleans very well on all areas of the body including places that are more smelly like underarms or feet. I do use the soap on my face too as my skin feels soft after using the soap so I feel it's safe to use on more delicate skin. I sometimes am sensitive to certain bars of soap on my face but not this Shield. I also use the soap as a hand soap for just hand washing too. These bars seem to last quite a long time and they retain their shape right until the end of the bar, so no wastage or little slivers lying about! I'm happy with my purchase and would definitely buy this soap again in the future. I would recommend this to anyone but it might be preferred by families and males. Read more about the product at the website: www.shieldsoap.co.uk
I needed a new mascara recently and when I saw this Bourjois Elastic Mascara I thought it looked interesting and unusual. I have used Bourjois products before and I like that their products are slightly different from other main brand make-up items. In the past I have admired some of the designs they come up with that make their products really trendy but also allow the product to be used more effectively too. The product comes in a grey-black case which is tapered towards the bottom. The top has an unusual lid which looks like a shiny and very thin black rolling pin. The tube is printed with a little bit of product information. Since the brand is French everything is printed in both French and English. Bourjois state that this mascara has a "stretchable formula" which gives an incredible "130% more visible length". The product is marked as being ophthalmologically tested and is suitable for sensitive eyes and also for contact lens wearers. The formula contains something called "heavea" that forms "extensions beyond the tip of lashes" When I picked this product up in the shop and had a read of the tube I noticed the strange lid design. I imagined the thin stick was an improved design and made to ease application. However, the minute I got the mascara home and tried to use it I realised the fancy wand was a terrible design. The wand is very difficult to screw out of the tube as there is only a small piece of lid to hold and twist. It is impossible to twist the thin part of the lid and the material of the tube is slippery with no grip. This makes opening the tube time consuming and annoying, not to mention slightly painful on my creaky old wrists! Once the wand is unscrewed the applicator is quite long and the brush at the end is thin and slightly longer than an inch. The brush is a soft plastic material with small spikes of plastic in uniform lines around the wand. I prefer to lengthen my lashes rather than thicken them and this brush is ideal at creating that ultra-long look. The brush can pick up a lot of mascara on the brush though and when this happens it can leave wisps of mascara which stick out of the lashes at an angle, making the application look messy and clumpy. I have the shade 41 Black Unlimited which is a rich, glossy black which gives depth and length to the eye lashes. When using the wand the thin end to the applicator can slide through my fingers and I also sometimes feel like I am going to drop the wand if I'm only holding the thin part. Using two fingers to steady the wand helps though. The length of the brush is good but it is necessary to hold the wand at various angles when applying since the brush is straight and not curved. Comparing this to my last mascara this Bourjois product definitely looks more intense and makes my lashes look darker and longer which helps to open my eyes and make them stand out. However, I did a test where I put this mascara on one eye and another mascara brand on the other eye and whilst there was definitely more visible length with this product I would dispute the 130% more claim. The mascara has good staying power although it can feel a bit sticky if I accidentally apply too much. I feel this stickiness when I blink which is not a nice feeling! The mascara is best removed with a specialist eye make-up remover as just using face gel for me leaves residue. Overall I feel there is a mix of good and bad points about this product. The mascara definitely makes my eyelashes look long, healthy and glamorous and the mascara doesn't smudge off half-way through the day. On the negative side though it is easy to mess up the application due to the style of the applicator wand which also makes the tube difficult to open. If you do apply too much mascara it looks messy and tufty and you need to invest in eye make-up remover to take it off. Unfortunately for me the negatives outweigh the benefits of the product so I would not buy this again and I could not really recommend as I think there are other mascara products out there that could give a similar result without all the hassle.
I first encountered Rice Krispies Multi-grain Shapes when I found a mini 30g pack of them in my Kelloggs variety pack. I realised that I enjoyed this cereal most in the variety pack so I continued to buy the variety packs as I had never seen a full sized version of the cereal. However, on a recent trip to Tesco I was very happy to see a 350g sized box of the cereal and bought them immediately. They were in the section of the cereal aisle that is filled with products aimed at kids. However, they are one of the kids' cereals that I think can be enjoyed and appreciated by adults too. As mentioned, these come in a 350g sized box. The box is a peachy orange colour with the Rice Krispies logo on the front and the "Multi-grain Shapes" title underneath. To be frank, I'm not sure why this product carries the Rice Krispies logo since the actual cereal does not taste or look anything like the original puffed rice grains that are Rice Krispies. Anyway, in regards to the box design I should point out that the brand have recently launched a strawberry flavour in the same range. The box is almost identical but is coloured red for the strawberry flavour one. It would be very easy to mix the two up though. The packaging is printed with a lot of information about the product. Kelloggs state that their product begins life as "grains of rice, oats and corn" before they are moulded into three curious and fun shapes. I have no idea what the shapes are supposed to be though. One shape vaguely resembles a man or a star, another one looks like a fish and the final shape appears to be a Christmas tree or a rocket! The shapes aren't actually uniform either so some of them just look like blobs of nothing. I guess a child's imagination might be able to make more of them than I can! Looking at the full list of ingredients I can see that there are cereal flours of rice, oats and maize with oats constituting 26% of that. There is also sugar, inulin, salt, flavouring, colour and antioxidant. Vitamins and Minerals are added to the cereal and these include vitamin D, vitamins B1 and B2, niacin, vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid. Calcium and iron are the minerals in the cereal. The product is marked as being suitable for vegetarians. The cereal looks quite interesting when floating around in a bowl of milk and I assume it would amuse children. I use soya milk with these and the combination is amazing. The cereal has two shades - a golden yellow colour and a darker, grainer brown shade. I'm not sure if all three shapes have a different grain in them or if the grains are combined. The golden coloured cereal has a more light and airy texture. The browner pieces are marginally more crunchy and textured rather like an oat cereal bar. I can detect no difference in taste between these two pieces. The flavour of the cereal is very unique and I have never found another cereal that tastes anything like this. The taste is sweet but it is not too much. It is also more like a syrupy taste rather than a very sharp sugary flavour. The flavour actually reminds me of Agave nectar as it tastes rather natural. It's a subtle sweetness that when combined with the flavour of corn and oats is absolutely delicious and just as suitable for adult consumers as it is for children. I absolutely love the cereal because it has a lovely flavour as well as a great texture. The shapes float in the milk and don't get soggy. They have a airy texture that means I don't feel like I'm weighed down by breakfast but they fill me up just enough. In fact they are perfect for breakfast or throughout the day and I also occasionally sneak into the pack and eat the shapes dry. They have a biscuit-like flavour when eaten dry and they satisfy a sweet tooth whilst also being a bit healthier than snacks like crisps or chocolate. I would recommend trying these to anyone and not just those people with children. It is a great tasting cereal!
I once tried Tresemme shampoo and conditioner and found it made my hair really dry so I didn't buy anymore. After my experience, however, I heard so many rave reviews both online and from friends and family that I thought I might try the shampoo product again when they branded it as a 'new' formula. In fact the product seems to be exactly the same but with a slightly different name. Therefore the product is now called Tresemme 'Luxurious Moisture' as opposed to the 'Moisture Rich' label. If you follow the links on the Tresemme website you'll discover this is indeed the same product however and after using the newer formula I am not sure if there has been any changes to the product except the name of it. I've always been impressed by the huge bottles of Tresemme that are available to purchase. I bought this is a 900ml sized bottle. I do not recall the exact price I bought it for but it was considerably more than I usually pay for a shampoo. When buying though I took into account the bigger bottle size (I usually only buy 300ml sized bottles) as well as the praise I'd heard about the Tresemme shampoo and conditioner lines. The bottle is black plastic and not recyclable in my area but it may be in other areas. It is fitted with a top that can be depressed on one side to reveal a dispensing hole on the other side. This top can not be removed completely. It is easy to use and is a non-drip contraption when closed. I like the overall design of the Tresemme shampoo. It looks very much like a salon shampoo and these I consider to be of a higher quality and price then the products available in the supermarket! The label on the front which proclaims that the shampoo is "used by professionals" is believable. The label is also printed with essential information about the product. As mentioned, the brand are calling this product 'new' although in reality it is just an overhaul of the 'Moisture Rich' shampoo. The shampoo is marked as being for "dry or dull hair" and it is stated that it has a formula rich in vitamin E. Another label on the back of the bottle is printed with more in depth information about the brand and the shampoo. It is stated that Tresemme began as a salon shampoo in 1947. I found this very surprising as I thought it was a much more recent invention that masqueraded as a salon shampoo rather than having it's origins as a real salon shampoo! Tresemme claim that the shampoo awards "intense moisturisation" and mild enough to use daily. They also promise that hair will be vibrant and soft after using the shampoo. Full ingredients are listed on this back label as well as safety warnings and directions for use. The latter does not differ from the common shampoo. Simply lather from root to tip and then rinse. The company state that for best results you should use a conditioner from the same range. The shampoo has a thick, gooey consistency and is white with a pearly sheen. It seems to stick in the bottle for quite a while before it oozes out very slowly. I have found that I don't need to use an awful lot of this as it is so rich and it creates a lot of foam. Even though I have long hair a very small smidge of this shampoo is able to be used on the whole head. The shampoo lathers quickly and the foam is dense and intense! It's a very stiff kind of foam and a lot of bubbles are created. Whilst the amount of foam and the richness of it means that you feel like you get a good, deep clean the bubbles can be difficult to rinse out as they are so thick. The shampoo has a nice fragrance and is reminiscent of apples although it is a rather clinical, hairdresser kind of fragrance too. It is a scent that is fresh, sharp and clean though and I like to smell it during use and afterwards when drying and styling my hair. I should point out that I have long hair that is somewhere between wavy and curly. I also bleach my hair with highlights and therefore it is quite dry and prone to frizz. When I used this Tresemme for the first time I found that at the styling stage (when my hair was towel dry) my hair was tangled and it felt as dry as straw. This was after using a conditioner product too. In following uses I reduced the level of shampoo and increased conditioning times used but unfortunately have had the same result. Firstly my hair is very dry and tatted at the styling stage. It requires a lot of work to get my hair into a position where I can dry it without ending up like a scarecrow! Then after my hair is dry it then requires a lot of added products to get it into a state where it looks glossy, calm and healthy. I use serum, oil, hairspray or gels. The shampoo has the effect on my hair that rather than infuse it with moisture it seems to strip the moisture form the hair! The only good aspect about the shampoo is how well it cleans the hair and the scalp. It gives a deep, thorough clean and I can go several days without needing to wash my hair again. It's gentle on the scalp too. Unfortunately the shampoo is far too drying on my hair and it is time consuming to style my hair after using the shampoo and possibly damaging to my hair because it is so very drying. I have actually been using the shampoo as a bath foam just to use it up as I do not want to keep using it and will not buy it again. I would not recommend this to anyone who has coloured, damaged hair or hair that is prone to curl or frizz.
I don't know if this illness I have has been one of these super strength germ-monsters going around this winter but it's quite honestly the worst cold/flu illness I've ever had. The first few days after catching what I though was just a mild common cold the pain in my chest and congestion became so bad that I literally could get almost no relief from anything no matter what I tried. I tried paracetemol, nurofen, strepsils, simple linctus syrup, buttercup syrup, Halls and Lockets and I was still in terrible discomfort. I was then advised by a family member to get some of this Benylin Chesty Coughs Non Drowsy cough medicine as they'd used it before and it had helped them. I therefore went up to my local Boots chemist where I was able to buy a bottle of this. The product comes in a 150ml bottle which is boxed. The box is printed with all the necessary information you need to know how to use the medicine safely. The bottle itself is a semi-transparent brown bottle which is recyclable. It is fitted with a child lock cap which must be pressed down firmly and twisted before it will open. Information about doses and safety precautions is also printed on the label of the bottle so that if you remove it from the box you can still refer to this information before taking the medicine. The brand state that this medicine can be used if you have a "deep, chesty cough" but want to continue through your illness as normally as possible. The brand state the medicine can "loosen phlegm, clear bronchial congestion and make you cough more productive". The medicine contains something called Guafifenesin which can help to loosen mucus in the throat and chest and therefore make it easier to cough. It also contains an agent called Levomenthol which aids normal breathing by "easing congestion". The medicine should be suitable for most people but if you have health problems or allergies you should ask your doctor before taking. Children under twelve and breast feeding mothers should also not take this medicine. People with diabetes also need to be aware of the sucrose content of the medicine. A full list of possible concerns is printed on the box and is easy to understand. The dosage instruction is two 5ml spoonfuls four times a day as needed. Whilst some medicines contain a little measuring cup this one doesn't so I have been taking a dessert spoonful. The cough syrup is a bright red colour which smells quite sweet and slightly like liquorice. It is easy to pour into a spoon as it is quite runny but doesn't splash. I find the flavour of the medicine quite agreeable. It is very sugary and rather like a fruity berry cough sweet and this sweetness counteracts against the sharper medicinal flavour and warmth which fires down your throat as it slides down. This warmth is very soothing at the point of pain or inflammation in the throat or chest. My pain has been literally right down under my breastbone and the medicine was effective in soothing the pain here. The medicine definitely helps to ease a coughing fit or when you feel you have swallowed a razor blade and need instant soothing. It also makes it easier to get your cough up and therefore to breathe without coughing or wheezing. The effect of the medicine is slightly short lived though, which is my only issue with it. I would say the effect lasts half an hour at most. I suppose this can be helpful at particular moments like if you are trying to get some sleep or just starting the day. Comparable to other medicines I've tried I have to say I really like this one as it isn't something that turns my stomach when I think about having to take it! It's non drowsy properties are also helpful since you don't have to worry about it affecting your focus in any way. Lastly it actually helps ease my coughing and chest/throat pain which is the most important thing. I would therefore definitely buy this again and would recommend to anyone unlucky enough to be suffering from a sore throat. Get well soon!
2013 was an amazing year for British tennis fans when the country's number one tennis player, Andy Murray, managed to lift the finalist's trophy at the most iconic grand slam event, Wimbledon. It ended a seventy seven year wait for another British men's champion since Fred Perry in 1936. It also saw Murray finally embraced and honoured by a nation with whom he'd endured a fraught and bitter public relationship in previous years. As a long time Murray fan it was lovely to see him getting the support he has always deserved and it was also wonderful to see so many people gain enjoyment from his Wimbledon victory. I was one of many people who was very excited when the publication of this new biographical book was announced in which Murray was to take us on the journey throughout his career up until his most glorious winning moment. This book 'Andy Murray: Seventy Seven -My Road To Wimbledon Glory' was published by Headline Publishing Group in November 2013. It is a handsome looking hardback whose cover features a stunning photograph taken from a men's magazine shoot in which Andy poses with a burning racket (it was really on fire and not just CGI!). There are 288 pages with nine different segments or chapters and countless full or half page colour photographs. I was pleased to find that the book contains a lot of new press or event photos I'd never seen before as well as some personal photographs which reveal a lot about Murray's personality. There are some great arty shots from various matches plus some winning moments as well as things like snaps from training camp, Murray at home with his dogs and Murray as a kid or teen as he is progressing in the sport. It's a lovely book to actually just sit down with and flick through for the pictures in it. There are some gorgeous photos especially the ones from the Wimbledon final and post match glory run that bring back a lot of memories from the event. This book differs from Murray's biography 'Coming of Age' (also published as 'Hitting Back') in a lot of ways. Firstly, of course, Murray is able to talk at length about his experiences of being a double grand slam winner. He also talks about his coaching set up and in particular about his arrangement with the legendary Ivan Lendl and how this has impacted his career. This is interesting to read about since the pairing is a curious one made more so by their radio silence regarding their relationship and the odd humour they both seem to share! Murray discusses his experiences of the Olympics as well as his victory at the US Open in 2012 and it's a fascinating insight into his life and the lives of tennis players and their entourages in general. His Wimbledon final is gone over in detail with particular reference to that last agonising game where he was driven back from victory time and time again by the brilliant Novak Djokovic. Towards the end of the book Murray talks at length about how important it is to train and how he is so thankful to his team as well as to his family for all they've done for him. It makes you appreciate that he still has a lot he wants to achieve as an athlete and helps to explain decisions like deciding to stay away from the Sports Personality of The Year awards (which he won) to continue training and rehab instead. Murray states that after he won Wimbledon he felt like he had "more of a glow" and "walked a little bit taller" and this self-confidence is evident in the way Murray talks about his life and his ambitions for the future. He talks of wanting to achieve more but accepts that it'll be the 2013 Wimbledon victory that people will remember. The actual writing does sometimes feel like it has been written as though in answer to an interview question but there is still a lot of depth to the writing. The actual presentation of the text is occasionally a little haphazard - a few words are cut off here and there as though this book went to print quickly - but it can be forgiven thanks to the content and the amazing photographs. This is a wonderful book for any tennis or sports fan, anyone who wants to relive that amazing summer or anyone who wants to know Murray a little better. It's a beautiful looking thing containing some fascinating insight into the thoughts and lifestyle of one of Britain's best sporting heroes. Buy it for the pictures alone since you'll actually find plenty of images that show Andy cracking a smile! The price of the book varies according to retailer but it is around £10-£20 and this is a very reasonable price.
I'm reviewing the Raspberry and Blackberry variety of this sparkling Britvic drink called 'Ame'. I saw this on the supermarket shelf recently and thought it looked quite interesting. I don't often drink fizzy drinks but I will occasionally buy something like Shloer when I fancy it or when I want to use it in an official type meal setting in place of alcohol. This bottle of Ame looked far more sophisticated and adult than the Schloer I usually buy and in fact it almost resembles a bottle of wine. I was tempted to buy this, even though I'd never heard of it before, after being impressed by it's packaging design. The 750ml sized bottle differs from the current Dooyoo picture and is more slim-line like a typical wine bottle. It's a transparent, recyclable glass bottle with a screw off top. The top has a paper label stuck down over the edge which you must tear open at first use. This, again, seems to mimic a wine bottle design. There are two labels attached to the bottle itself. The front label features the product name prominently alongside a picture of a juicy blackberry and a succulent raspberry. Alongside this is a small piece of text which tells me this is a "delicate blend" of these fruit juices combined with "sparkling spring water and herbal extracts". The colours and design look great against the peach coloured beverage. I really like that it looks so arty and as though a lot of thought has gone into designing a drink for adults. I would happily bring out this drink for dinners and parties. The label on the back contains more information including a bit more detail about the product. I was surprised to see this was made by Britvic as, to be honest, it seems to have more class than I'd associate with that brand! The brand explain that the product name 'Ame' (the 'e' is accented) is derived from Japanese and roughly translates as "gentle rain". They state that their flavours are "subtle" but that they have an "Oriental influence". Full ingredients are also listed on the back label. I was impressed to read that this drink contains so many unusual ingredients and not just a lot of sugar and sweeteners! It actually contains 48% Grape Juice Extract, spring water (48%), Raspberry fruit juice from concentrate (2%) and blackberry fruit juice from concentrate (1%) as well as the herbal extracts limeflowe, schisandra, Quassia and gentian. There are NO artificial colours or flavours included. Nutritional values are also provided in a detailed chart as well as a simplified easy-read chart. A 250ml serving provides 90 calories and 22g of sugar but has trace amounts of fat. When I open the bottle I love the aroma of this drink. It has a sweet but mild fruity fragrance which is similar to pink champagne. It is a carefree, summery aroma that is very pleasing to the senses. The drink is very sparkly and each mouthful is filled with tiny but sharp bubbles that burst onto the tongue. It's very similar to a sparkling wine in this sense - the bubbles have a sort of gassy/fruity intensity. The flavour of this drink is surprisingly mild and yet it is very satisfying and moreish. The fact it is quite mild means it is very refreshing and thirst quenching. It does seem to dance with notes of raspberry even though the primary ingredient is grape juice. The most obvious flavours are backed up with these curious herbal hints which are warm and unique but also very subtle. It's sweet without being too much and in comparison to Shloer this feels like it is aimed at adult drinkers only because of the sophisticated flavours. Overall it's a delicious and satisfying drink. It is lovely on it's own and is perfect when added to a meal as an alcohol substitute. I'm pleased I have discovered this drink and will definitely be buying it again in the future as it is so nice. I will more than likely buy this in place of Schloer in the future. I would recommend this to any adults who are looking for a high quality soft drink. www.britivc.com
I recently found this book 'Tom Daley: My Story' in a charity shop and it was only 50p but it's original price was £16.99 when it was published in 2012. The book was actually published prior to the 2012 Olympic games so Tom could certainly add a few more chapters to his memoirs now! When I saw the book it interested me because Tom has always been someone who I respect and am curious about. His ability and dedication to his sport at such a young age was very impressive. During the 2012 Olympics one day my neice suddenly exclaimed to me: "OMG, Tom Daley is only a couple of years older than me and look what he's achieved! I need to do work harder!" and I realised that this young lad must have worked so, so hard to be where he was and that this dedication and talent gained through his tireless practice was inspiring people all over the world, particularly his own generation to whom he is a sporting idol. The book is hardback and contains 288 pages. There are about 18 chapters including the prologue and much of the book features some brilliant photographs. The pictures are a mixture of things such as professional photoshoots by the pool, to early family snapshots to more private moments. The text in the book is quite large and easy to read with certain statements enlarged and in capitals to highlight an important point. I think that both children and adults would like this book but it might possibly appeal most to teenagers. The book initially covers Tom's early childhood, with reference to his life with his family and how he got into diving. It's so interesting to read memoirs of very talented people like Tom and to be able to see behind the perfected end result and know how champions are made! I'm not someone who knows a lot about diving but it's not necessary to here as Tom guides us through his early training and explains his progress very well. He also explains how diving is judged and the scoring system. Tom's personality shines through in the writing style and you really get a sense of what this athlete is like as an individual as well as a sporting professional. I found Tom's description of his early training abroad to be quite startling as he found it very difficult to be away from his family, friends and home at such a young age. The fact that he endured this homesickness and fear makes me admire him even more. You really get a sense of what it's like to be a travelling athlete experiencing all these different cultures. What's also amazing is his progress and consistency in the sport, enabling him to qualify for the Beijing Olympics where he was Britain's youngest competitor. His tales about what it was like in various competitions such as the Commonwealth games and what happened to him behind the scenes is at times funny, sometimes shocking or scary but always fascinating. Tom's stories about his rise to fame as a diver but also as a celebrity and heart throb is very interesting too and he explains the way his life changed the more successful he became. His enthusiasm for life is infectious and it's brilliant to hear his perspective on the world of celebrity and fame. Tom is very honest and open in this book and in it he shares the details of his father's illness and his subsequent death. It's very harrowing to hear him recount his memories and thoughts about the bad times and moving to read about all the amazing things his father did for him during his life. Quite rightly, Tom hails his father as a hero who helped him become the amazing person he is today and this sentiment echoes throughout the entire book. I very much enjoyed the way Tom explains his excitement and anticipation about the 2012 Olympics towards the end of the book. His passion really makes you appreciate the success he had at the games and it makes me want to support the him in future events or in whatever he does next (yes, I'm also watching the TV show 'Splash'!). This biography is a really great read and is also visually excellent too. I'm so glad I found the book and I'm going to pass it along to a younger family member who I know will enjoy it.
I have always enjoyed taking photographs and when I was a teenager I had a Canon EOS 1000F film camera that I liked to use. I was never an expert but the quality of photographs was always much better than on my smaller Canon model. When things went digital I stuck with Canon since I was so impressed by their products and I got a point and shoot Canon IXUS model which I've since updated in the same range. However, the more I used my IXUS the more practice I got at taking better pictures until I felt I was at a point where I could really benefit from getting a digital SLR camera. I looked around at a few different brands but when I found this Canon EOS 1100D digital SLR model it was described as being the perfect model for beginners in the world of digital SLR cameras and this sounded perfect. I bought this from Amazon.co.uk with the standard lens kit that comes with it but you can also buy just the body at a slightly cheaper price. In the box I got the camera body, a 18-55mm lens, a battery charger, camera battery, camera strap, USB lead, camera software on disc, instruction manual on disk and a basic instruction manual paper booklet. I have since discovered that several companies sell this kit along with things like camera bags, different lenses, flashes and memory cards with prices varying depending on what's included but if you buy from Amazon like me then you'll need to get these things separately. Since I'm a complete novice to this field I can only recount my personal experiences with the camera so far rather than compare it to other similar SLR cameras or explain it's more complicated technical aspects (since I don't understand them all yet!). I'll start with the body though and how it feels: after initially handling the camera it becomes quickly obvious that the lens is a lot heavier than the camera body. This hasn't felt like a problem to me so far as I'm holding it and using it although it is quite noticeable when operating the control panel on the back of the camera and you need to adjust your grip to account for this. The body itself is smooth and pleasant to hold. I feel it's easy to get a good grip and the main operating switch at the front of the camera is easy to access with your index finger. The control panel buttons and mode dial are also easy to access. The supplied lens cover is a little difficult to replace. I've had the lens cover fall off the front of the lens several times when I've had the camera in my camera bag. The supplied strap is very soft and wide with a rubber re-enforcement where it hangs around the neck. As mentioned, I only have a very basic understanding of digital SLR photography. It would require actual classes to be fully knowledgeable about everything this camera is capable of achieving. However in relation to the brand's explanation of the basic features of this camera - Canon state this is a "high performance digital single-lens reflex camera" which has a CMOS sensor with 12.2 mega pixels. It is equipped for continuous shooting (3 frames per second) and can also shoot HD movies. The camera has a choice of 9 AF points which guide you to frame photographs in a creative way. The camera has a quick 0.1 second start up time. Several other key features relate to the camera optimising photographs in different lighting conditions. There is also a Basic+ and Creative Auto mode allowing you to create a certain look for your pictures. As a beginner it took me a lot of practice to start getting the photographs I wanted although I've had a lot of fun trying out the camera. It's obviously totally different to snapping around with a point and shoot camera and you have so much more control and input into the photograph. There are so many different ways to take the photograph to suit your wishes and it takes practice to figure out what works best. What's brilliant about the camera is that when you switch between modes the LCD screen on the back of the camera lights up with an explanation of what this mode will give you and what you need to do to achieve a certain type of photograph. For example, it will flash up to set the aperture at a lower number to achieve a particular effect or it will tell you that this mode blurs certain parts of the photograph. This is an extremely useful aid for a beginner like me and it helps you to learn about using the camera whilst you are using it functionally too. The camera is equipped with software including Zoombrowser, Picture Style Editor and Digital Photograph Professional (for Windows 7, XP, Vista) to enable you to sort, store and alter your photographs. The most basic of the software is easy to use but there is also advanced modes for the more experienced user. I've taken a lot of photographs which after loading onto my computer have completely astonished me with their quality and beauty. Some photographs I've taken look so real that you'd think you could put your hand through the screen and into the photograph itself! I wasn't sure about the 12.2 mega pixels when I bought this as newer models are appearing with 16 mega pixels but I find the clarity and quality of the pictures to be superb. Photographs I've taken of people have a professional glossy quality about them and I've had requests from family members to take some great pictures of them! Landscape photographs can look stunning and I'm learning how to capture certain objects or things so they look like a work of art! I'm mostly taking photographs of my dogs and my local area right now as I love to capture nature and things like sunsets or light through trees. I'm also impressed by the HD video although I have found focusing a little tricky. In regards to this I was concerned about which memory card would work well with the camera but a list of compatible ones can be found at the Canon website. I'm currently using a 16gb Sandisk Extreme. I'm just having a lot of fun using this camera and I feel that I might have been struggling with some other brands but Canon have tailored this for a beginner whilst allowing more advanced users to use it too. I would therefore recommend this to anyone wanting to take their photography to another level and buy their first SLR camera. You can find out more about this model at: http://www.canon.co.uk/For_Home/Product_Finder/Cameras/Digital_SLR/EOS_1100D/
I was given this perfume, Narciso Rodriguez 'For Her', by a family member a few weeks ago. I had never heard of it though but she insisted it was quite exclusive. When I looked the perfume up online I discovered it was considerably more expensive than any perfume I've ever used before! It's price tag has not influenced my opinions regarding the quality and tone of the perfume though. I have a large 100ml bottle of this eau de toilette but you can also get it in smaller 30ml and 50ml versions. The perfume comes in a very heavy glass bottle which is a bit too heavy to want to carry around. I can just about get away with lugging it around in a larger handbag but since it is 11 ½ by 7 cm it is too big to fit into a smaller handbag. The bottle is plain but looks rather mysterious since the inside of the bottle appears to be painted black and the top and dispensing button are also black. The sparse text on the front of the bottle is delicate pink. The overall design feels sort of post-modernist to me. It's clean-cut simple design makes me think of city boutiques and high fashion catwalks. The perfume is dispensed as a fine, delicate mist and you can hold the bottle up to about nine or ten inches away or much closer depending on the spot you are targeting. I like to spray this on my wrists and my neck. I often spray perfume on my clothes but this one is so effective and powerful that one squirt on either the neck or wrists or both is enough to make me smell great. As mentioned I had never heard of Narciso Rodriguez but after visiting his website discovered he is a fashion designer. This made perfect sense to me and I feel that the design and character of his signature perfume is very representative of someone in this kind of industry where women are worshipped as objects of art and beauty. His official website describes this perfume as being "a rare musk" which is complimented by "delicate floral osmanthus notes, soft amber and hints of patchouli." Almost immediately after using this perfume for the first time I felt a rush of warmth and love as the notes danced around my body. This is the type of perfume that once you apply it you can smell it on yourself for hours. This sounds ridiculous but after I've applied the perfume I feel sort of enveloped in a bold sensuality and dream-like state. The perfume reminds me I'm a woman and it reaffirms all the positive qualities of femininity. I would describe the perfume as being strong but not in the sense that it chokes you when you apply it! It simply has a long lasting and strong presence once applied. It is the sort of perfume you could adopt as your signature scent so that everyone who knew you would expect you to smell like this! I feel that the perfume is equally musky and sweet. The sweeter floral and fruity notes feel sharp and playful whilst the darker musky notes have a burning ember type of quality - they overtake the senses more slowly but once they do they are spellbinding. The quality of the fragrance is excellent and it is very individual. I think Rodriguez has done an excellent job in creating a perfume that captures the essence of a woman among all women - representing her grace, sexual identity, wisdom and beauty across all of history. I'm very impressed and using this perfume makes me feel like a piece of living art! I would recommend this beautiful fragrance to any women but I think it might resonate more with older women since it's a fragrance that feels like it's inspired by complex ideologies. I would imagine it's way too heady and all encompassing to appeal to teens. I am certainly pleased to have received this perfume and hope it lasts me a long time! I think the higher price tag is justified since the perfume is so exquisite and potent. Read about the perfume and see a sample of the bottle design at the official website: http://www.narcisorodriguez.com/
I have previously tried shop's own value brand baby shampoo from both Asda and Morrisons so when I was shopping in Tesco lately I thought I would try their version as well. I don't actually have a baby but I use the shampoo on my own hair and I also have used it as a hand wash and a facial and body cleanser too. It's so inexpensive that I feel it can be used for a number of purposes without feeling like I am wasting it. This Tesco Everyday Value Baby Shampoo comes in a big 500ml sized bottle. I'm impressed by the large size of the bottle since the average shampoo for adults or women is usually a smaller bottle than this. The bottle has a top which can be screwed off completely or the flip style lid can be snapped up to expose an ample sized dispensing hole. The lid on this is very tight and stiff and might be difficult to open for some people. However, the same factor makes it a secure lid which means I'd happily transport this around in a bag (for holidays or swimming or gym for example) without fearing it would accidentally come open. The plastic bottle is white and recyclable whilst the material is slightly soft and squeezable. As I've used up the product the bottle has shrunk a little around the sides. This hasn't affected my ability to pour the shampoo from the bottle though. The design of the shampoo label is quite basic and copies other supermarket brands by printing sparse looking text and a few cartoon designs of baths, rubber ducks, bubbles, dummies and other baby related items. A label on the back of the bottle has directions for use, warnings and full ingredients as well as contact information and helplines for Tesco. In regards to the ingredients the shampoo reads like a chemical cocktail although when using the shampoo it feels exceptionally mild compared to other shampoos I've used. The shampoo is a golden amber colour and it has a sweet, sugary smell that reminds me of sweet peas and summertime. It is a lovely, delicate fragrance that is completely suitable for babies and perfectly acceptable for female adults too! Men or boys could probably endure using this shampoo but I think they might find the scent too sickly and feminine. The shampoo is quite gloopy and has an elastane quality. When you squeeze it out of the bottle it comes out in a long thick gel but then this dense ribbon snaps and half of it jumps back into the bottle and the other half coils into a gooey lump into your hand. It doesn't flow like honey or syrup and it doesn't melt into warm water as easily as runnier liquids and this means it can be slightly more difficult to apply to the hair or body. The shampoo globules tend to want to slip out of my hand before I have a chance to lather it up! The shampoo lathers quite well although it does feel watery with a smattering of bubbles rather than a rich lather. This is perfect if you are an adult looking for a mild shampoo and of course for babies it would be fine. I find that despite being mild the shampoo cleanses really well. If I use on my hair it cleans my scalp and along the lengths of my long hair. The shampoo also works well when used like a shower gel and when applied to a sponge makes an excellent substitute. The shampoo leaves my hair feeling quite thick and soft and smelling faintly of the sweet fragrance. It is not a lasting scent though. I do like the way the product leaves my skin feeling as it feels almost silky like the delicate, fluffy skin of a peach. The shampoo cost me 46p which is very cheap however I have bought shampoos from Asda and Morrisons for even cheaper than this (as low as 9p at Morrisons!) and to be honest there is not much difference between the value brands of these stores. I would buy this shampoo again as it serves my needs, it is a versatile product and it is so inexpensive. I would recommend to anyone but especially to those people who are looking to possibly save a few pennies on shampoo, shower gel, hand or facial washes. This works just as well as the big brand stuff that costs pounds!
A few months ago I bought some Chocomania Beautifying Oil from the Bodyshop and discovered that it was an excellent product and was so versatile that I could use it on my face, body and even my hair. I used up that bottle pretty quickly and on my latest trip to The Bodyshop I decided to take advantage of their 'buy one and get one half price' for the beautifying oils and so I bought the Chocomania one again but I also got this Coconut Beautifying Oil which I thought would smell divine! The product comes in a 100ml or 3.3. FL. OZ sized semi-transparent bottle. The bottle is equipped with a flip top which is easy to click open. I would not take this product in a bag or travelling however because I do not feel the flip top is secure enough and it could easily be caught on something and accidentally pull open. There is an information label attached to the bottle. It is necessary to back the top layer of this label to expose all information including ingredient information and product warnings. When I first saw these beautifying oils I wasn't exactly sure how they were supposed to be used. However the Bodyshop state that you can use the oil on body, face and hair for moisturising, smoothing and illuminating. I started out by using a little bit of the oil in my hair as a serum substitute. I then tried it on my face as a night time moisturiser and finally on parts of my body as a softener. The oil could also potentially be used like a massage oil but I have not tried that. I've found that with both the Chocomania oil and this Coconut Oil that they are thinner and more watery than I'd expect an oil to be. The runny consistency means that a tiny bit of oil goes a long way. It also means that the oil can be difficult to dispense and handle. When turning the bottle upside down you have to be careful not to squeeze the bottle and just tap it instead. Otherwise the liquid squirts out and you end up with far too much. Literally a few drops of this will suffice at first and then if needed you can add more but I personally always find a few drops is plenty. Although the oil feels and looks thin and watery once you rub it in you can see that it is quite rich and glossy. On the skin it tends to look like it has soaked in and left a shiny ribbon on the surface. You can continue to rub and this high shine will lessen somewhat but your skin looks supple and treated like a wax-polished shoe! If you rub in just a small amount of oil then there is no lasting greasiness or slippery feeling. I can use the oil on my hands, for instance, without it feeling uncomfortable and I am able to touch my clothes etc. very quickly after application. This is a soothing and comfortable moisturising agent on the face although it is probably only suitable for moisturising if you want a bare, shiny face or if you want to moisturise your face overnight. I opt for the latter and find the oil keeps my skin feeling soft all night. When I wake up in the morning my skin looks like it has had a long drink and is now peachy and healthy looking. I do have combination skin but the already oily areas of my face don't react badly to the beautifying oil and I've had no pimples or redness. The oil can also be used on the skin on the body. I find that it's best to use on smaller areas where you can more easily work the oil in though. So I like to target my knees, elbows, hands and feet. Again, I'd be happy to apply this before dressing since as long as you don't use an excessive amount the oil sinks in and does not leave the skin greasy. The oil is quite good at softening areas with rough or tough skin although I have used better agents on my feet. I love to use the Beautifying oil in my hair. It works brilliantly as a serum substitute or like a calming balm. It makes hair shiny and silky as it tames frizzy bits. I also love the fact that it smells so wonderful and it's a strong fresh smell that people comment on when I'm out and about. The fragrance of the oil is most noticeable and lasting when used in my hair. I've also been told you can use it like a conditioner during the washing process although I haven't tried that yet. The oil contains a number of high quality and impressive ingredients such as Coconut Oil from Samoa and Marula oil from Namibia, sunflower seed oil, Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil (not sure what this is!) and sweet almond oil. The Bodyshop don't test on animals and use some Fair Trade Ingredients too. A bottle costs £9 which I think is a reasonable price since the product is so versatile and works well in every area of the body where it's used! I would buy this again and would recommend this to females who are looking for a great product that can be used in a number of ways. www.thebodyshop.co.uk
I was given this book, 'The Secret History' by Donna Tartt, as a Christmas present by my sister who thought I might enjoy after reading it herself following a friend's recommendation. I confess that because of a lifelong personal interest in literature and creative writing I'm a bit of a book snob and I'd be more likely to read Dostoevsky then E.L James. So when my sister called this novel a "modern classic" I was very sceptical and set about reading the book with an air of indignation, determined to disprove my sister's critical acclaim. However, I hadn't even read halfway through the short prologue when I felt I'd been completely spellbound by the quality and style of writing, the interesting characters and the captivating plot. The novel's plot centres on the narrator Richard and a group of five other students who are attending the elite Hampden College. Richard is a young man who hasn't quite decided on which career path he'd like to follow and arrives at the college after abandoning a medical degree. Richard aims to better himself and disengage himself from the uninspired and grim life lived by his parents. After arriving at Hampden Richard decides he would like to sustain one particular interest which is the study of Ancient Greek literature or Classics. However, he discovers that the Classics tutor, Julian, has a rather strange arrangement with his small group of students and won't permit anyone else to join the group of five students he is already teaching. After demonstrating his knowledge Richard is eventually permitted to the class of students who, because of their cloistered schooling, already have a reputation at the college as being rather odd. It's during the novel's prologue that we find out that one of these students has died and that Richard has witnessed but abandoned his dead body along with the rest of the Classics class. The ensuing novel relates the story of exactly what has happened. The first third of the novel is exceptionally well written and well researched. The author is obviously well acquainted with Ancient Greek language and uses her skill to enhance the realism and authenticity of the characters. The writing style is very erudite and the language Tartt uses early on in the novel is quite complex. The story unfolds slowly and the character delineation is fascinating and tantalising. I felt that towards the halfway mark of the novel Tartt's attention to detail slips a little, but only a little, and she utilises character dialogue as a means to develop the plot whilst focusing less on the internal ideas of her protagonist. The characters in this novel are really well conceived and Tartt captures their nuances beautifully. After reading the novel I would say that a reader's favourite character probably depends on what kind of person they are. My sister, for example, admired the cold, seemingly emotionless Henry whose influence on the rest of his friends is rather disturbing. I, on the other hand, felt more emotionally connected to Bunny Corcorron. Bunny is depicted as less intelligent and hardworking than the rest of the group and his behaviour and attitude show him to be somewhat selfish and thoughtless. Despite this I felt that in regard to the most important issues facing the characters that Bunny was the only one whose moral choice impressed me, whilst the deviances of the other characters outraged and disgusted me. Bunny is also the only one of the main characters who is socially active outside of the tightknit and out-of-touch group. Readers don't really need to know anything at all about Bacchanalian rites, Dionysus or Anicent Greek languages to be able to read and enjoy this book, although having this knowledge base will probably enhance your enjoyment and appreciation of the novel. After reading the book I felt that the most interesting theme of the novel for me was the notion of the class system of first world countries and how finances, social status and education influence human relations and the structure of life. However, I really felt at the end of the novel that the author was not presenting a critique of the class system as much as she was simply endorsing elitism and I finished the book thinking "how dare she?" which is really only a reaction that exceptional novels can evince. I thoroughly enjoyed 'The Secret History' and intend to read it again soon. I would recommend it to students and older readers but I think that younger teens would struggle with the complexity of the novel and it's themes. I would most certainly call this novel a "modern classic" and would defy any reader not to become slightly obsessed by this work of art!
A few months ago I started to cook more vegan recipes, especially cake items, as I wanted to cut out products like egg, milk and butter as moistening or binding agents. When I started looking up tasty recipes online I discovered that many of them required coconut cream for taste and to blend. I have cooked sweet and savoury items using coconut cream in the past but had always just scooped that gooey thick bit out of the top of a tin of coconut milk! I wasn't aware you could actually buy pure coconut cream until I spotted it on the shelf in my local supermarket! This product is made by Blue Dragon who specialise in making products for Oriental, Indian and Caribbean cooking. The Coconut Cream UHT comes in a small 250ml sized carton which is the same plastic-cardboard blend material as a drinks carton. The carton is printed with lots of helpful information about the product. Nutritional values are printed on the side of the carton. The cream contains 196 calories and 19.4g of fat per 100mls. Full ingredients can be found on the back of the carton. The cream isn't totally a pure product but the ingredients contain 78% of coconut extract as well as water, emulsifier(E471) and stabiliser (E466). It is marked as being suitable for vegetarians and vegans. The carton is quite soft and must be opened using scissors along the top. I didn't want to use all of the cream in one go so I snipped off one corner. However, I found that it was difficult to squeeze out the thick cream and the more I did the more the carton started to tear. It can be a bit difficult to extract all of the cream from the very inner edges of the carton. Upon opening the cream there was a slight watery section but then underneath this the cream is bright white, thick and smooth. It has a slightly waxy but silky melt in the mouth texture which is gorgeous. It is a completely smooth cream so it blends well into many recipes. I have been using it in brownie and cake recipes and it gives them a fresh, lively flavour which is delicious. It also works well to give the cakes a really rich, moist consistency which I love. Since I didn't use all of the Coconut Cream in one go I found that squeezing a dollop on the side of my finished cake was a delicious and indulgent treat! This is definitely a high quality coconut cream product and it's something I think I'll be using more often. I would recommend this to anyone who needs or wants to use a coconut cream product in cooking and baking. You can access some recipes at: www.bluedragon.com