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This review is with regards to the Ibis on Charles St Manchester, not the more central one; just to clarify. Myself and a friend were to be in Manchester for a couple of days this summer and, although I am within travelling distance, we decided to treat ourselves to a Saturday night out in the city. This meant we needed accommodation. I trawled the internet looking for a cheap Saturday night, I found quite a few bargains but we decided to go with the Ibis for 3 reasons. Firstly, it was a name we were both familiar with and had both used before. Secondly, it was situated near Oxford Rd where we would be throughout the day time. Thirdly, it was very cheap. £48 per room, per night. That worked out at £24 each, no breakfast. Well since we were planning on being stinking drunk we didn't fancy the prospect of breakfast much anyway. I booked online, received email confirmation; all was dandy in that department. So, what did I think? The very first thing to mention is the location. Being from the Greater Manchester area I have a scant idea of the city but still had to Google Charles St. Since we were at the RNCM on Oxford Rd all day anyway it was pretty easy to walk to. The hotel is situated on a corner of a crossroads. It is within walking distance of Canal St and Oxford Rd for a night out and Piccadilly an Oxford Rd stations for travel. You are a little bit of a walk out for shopping but literally, 10-15 mins. If you're that lazy get a tram from Piccadilly to Market St, again very easy. Personally I feel the hotel has a great city centre location. Arriving at the hotel you enter through revolving doors into a reception area that is open plan with the bar/dining area. We didn't use the bar services so I can't comment but it all looked clean and pleasant enough. The lady on reception was very friendly and helpful, even gave us a little map of the area and asked if we needed anything etc. The only complaint was that we had to wait a good ten minutes to be seen. I appreciate the nice lady was seeing to other customers but she looked a little stretched there and could have done with some help. Anyway once she did get to us she was very prompt and polite, excellent customer service. So the big one; the room. Well having stayed in an Ibis before I knew them to be clean and comfortably serviced but at the ridiculously cheap price we had I still had reservations. I need not have worried. The room wasn't spacious nor was it cramped. There was space provided to hang clothes and a neat little desk, bedside units and lamps on either side. The window didn't really look out onto anything spectacular but it was big enough to let plenty of light it. It also blocked out the sounds of the city and had black out curtains. Perfect. My friend and I shared a double bed which was very comfortable and the sheets were clean and soft. I personally prefer two pillows so was delighted to find spares in the wardrobe. The room had a full length mirror in which was great but unfortunately there were no sockets near to it, making drying hair a bit difficult. The biggest down side to the room was the lighting and I think this is typical of most hotels. The light cast an ambiance and was subtle and calming. Lovely for a cosy night in but rubbish for putting make up on. The bathroom. I loved the shower, it was a walk-in affair and you could have fit three (skinny) people in there. The shower was powerful and hot and frankly I could have spent ages in there, a real treat. The rest of the bathroom however seemed to suffer for this. Although it was bright and clean with a massive mirror it did feel cramped. I didn't mind this so much but if I had to give a negative to the room that would be it. All in all, I loved this place. It served its purpose for the night and felt comfortable with a relaxed atmosphere. I will certainly use the Ibis again.
I'm not the type of girl who sticks rigorously to a beauty regime; mostly because my finances won't allow expensive stuff and I also love a good bargain. Needless to say I have tried all sorts of skincare products and stick to very few. I decided to try Johnson's 24hr Facial Cream for two reasons. The first being that I have tried many of their products before and have never felt let down by them. The second reason was simple; it was £3.99 for a decent sized jar. Brilliant! Johnson's 24hr Facial Cream comes in a glass jar with a screw top which comes in a cardboard box, all decorated in soft pink tones and the familiar Johnson's logo. I do get annoyed with pointless packaging like the box but I love the glass jar. Such a simple thing but I always find face moisturisers easier to use from a jar than a tube and being a bit of a cheapo I find you can get the last little dregs out easier too. Not only that but it is much more neat and tidy. Tubes can get crusty around the nozzle and they look ugly when you have to roll them up to squeeze the last bits out. A lovely glass jar however has none of these issues, it looks prettier on your dressing table and it says quality product in my opinion. One point to Johnson's 24hr Facial Cream for excellent packaging. So how about the product itself? The first thing I noticed when putting this on is that it is not very thick, nor is it runny. For me I felt it was the ideal consistency as a lot can go a long way. This means that it does not feel like your face is caked in a greasy mess but you can feel it on there. I think that Johnson's 24hr Facial Cream has the ideal consistency, something which is very important with facial creams. The cream does not leave too much residue and does not feel greasy or oily, personally I have very dry skin but I did not need to apply lots and lots as has happened with other products in the past. After first applying Johnson's 24hr Facial Cream my face feels suitably moisturised and I no longer have the dry sensitive feeling. I also find that this product is an excellent base for makeup. My skin is lubricated enough to allow my foundation to spread evenly across my face without it becoming thick and clumpy. As the title suggests Johnson's 24hr Facial Cream should last all day. Well it does to be honest, at no point through the day do I start feeling like my skin is dry or that I want to reapply. Even better I don't end up with that greasy feeling across the forehead that can sometimes happen after a long day. Urgh! I tend to apply the cream once in the morning and again in the evening after a shower and that is more than enough. The only negative thing I can say about this product is that it does not have any long-term effects that I can see. To be honest though that a long shot at finding a negative after all it does not boast long-term improvements in skin types and at £3.99 what do you expect, especially since it lasts so very, very long. I can't recommend this product enough, especially to those of you on a budget; it's cheap enough in the first place and it lasts ages. Well done Johnson's
'Brooklyn' by Colm Toibin is available in paperback for £7.99. I got mine in Waterstone's on their lovely little 3 for 2 offer and some loyalty points on top. Excellent. 'Brooklyn' begins in 1950's Ireland and follows the life of Eilis Lacey. Eilis is struggling to find work in her provincial town and accepts work at her local store despite having some skills in accounting. Opportunities are slim and Eilis is a stark contrast to her older sister Rose who appears to be successful, happy, and popular and generally a fantastic person. The sisters live with their mother in their family home. The story goes on to follow Eilis as she is offered the opportunity to emigrate to New York, the reader stays with Eilis as she embarks on her journey, forges a new life for herself and inevitably matures into an independent young woman. I didn't particularly enjoy this book but at the same time I did not dislike it. It is very well written and the portrayal of the characters and their way of life is excellent. My problem lies with Eilis herself. I believe it is intentional that she is not as appealing as Rose, the reason behind this would only become apparent as you read it and I am not about to give a plot spoiler. However, as Eilis is our heroine and central figure I find it difficult to read about her when frankly she is not that interesting. The reader is never given a real insight into how she feels or what she is thinking, instead it seems like we are following a shadow. As said that seems to be intentional, one of the reasons for this I believe is that by giving the reader an initially 'boring' character we will be interested to see how she develops and grows. Well, not quite. Eilis does develop and grow, she does mature and she does find her voice (to a degree). But I personally found that by the time this started to happen I had already become distant from this central character. This was the number one reason I did not particularly enjoy this book. As stated Eilis appears to be contrasted to Rose; who appears to me to be the only character with any depth. Rose is far more appealing and I found that I wanted to know more about her whenever she cropped up. The other characters are well depicted and their personalities explored. However I also found them to be somewhat two-dimensional. They each do what you would expect them to do and do not deviate. At all. Predictable you may say. The second rather irksome criticism was the pace. I did not like this at all. I expect a book to pick up its pace to a point where I cannot put it down, or at least I want to know what happens. I left 'Brooklyn' on the bedside table for ten days with only a few pages to read. Not great testament to its appeal. I felt the author spent too long focused on the wrong this. The great dilemma the blurb on the back describes does not come into play until the final quarter of the book by which time I had already lost enthusiasm. It was too rush, like the author had just decided to change direction and threw that last big of plot in. If I'm honest I had lost interest in Eilis long before I finished the book and that is bad. I realise this reads as a major downer on the book. We it is I guess but I must also say that the author is very skilled. The writing style is very good, it's easy to read and excellently written but the plot lacks so much, as does the character development that I can't recommend this book. Sorry Mr Toibin.
When the 'Twilight' crazy first came to my attention I had already seen the film and thought it ok, a decent nights watch and nothing more. Than a friend started talking about it to me, this friend does not enjoy gothic or vampire themes (unlike me) and can't stand anything remotely fantasy/sci-fi etc. So why was she rambling on about a teenage vampire film, more importantly why was she rambling on about a book. There's a book? What? In complete shock, I could not overlook this craze of hers (very crazed!) and after much of her rambling I finally bought the book against my better judgement, after all everything I had heard indicated that it was poorly written and sentimental. My better judgement was right; it was poorly written and sentimental, so why the hell did I love it. I'm fairly well read, I studied literature at university, I'm a book snob... what's the attraction? First off a brief synopsis, really the majority of us know the plot and the rest of you don't need to know it all. The story is told from the point of view of Bella, 17yr old girl moving from Phoenix to live with her dad in the small town of Forks. Bella seems to be like every other 17yr old and has the usual apprehension about being the new kid in school. Everything seems normal enough until Bella notices the peculiar Cullen family. Each stunningly beautiful and each remaining exclusively to their own social circle. Bella takes particular notice of Edward Cullen who is seemingly disgusted by her presence. I don't feel I'm giving anything away by revealing that in fact Edward is a vampire and Bella is overwhelmingly tasty smelling to him. Match made in heaven. The story portrays the development of Edward and Bella's relationships and the difficulties of human/vampire relations. Within the story we have some entertaining minor characters in the rest of the Cullen family, Bella's father Charlie and her Native American friend Jacob. Jacob is clearly infatuated with Bella, the precursor for the subsequent books. The story itself is simple enough, boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, boy and girl meet adversity they must overcome to be together. The additional factor here is the vampire element. That in itself is nothing new either, I recall reading a teen book many years ago (when I acually was a teen!) that had a similar story, only the heroine was dying and the vampire saved her. Anyway, Twilight isn't the most original story in the world, yet it stands out. Why? The dark handsome stranger of course! Every teenage girl the world over has dreamed of that perfect man, that man sent to save her from the boring existence that is day to day life. Edward is perfect, from an age that praised gentlemanly ways he approaches Bella with nothing but adoration and protection. When was the last time you heard of that in a teenage relationship? He is everything we fantasise about, what is more he picks Bella who, by her own description, seems so ordinary and plain. If he picked Bella he would pick me, right? Isn't that what runs through the teenage mind, to some degree it even creeps into the more mature mind (not mine of course I am far too grown up for such things...hmm). For every woman reading that book Edward is our modern day Mr Darcy, his love for Bella has no parallel and it is only intensified by his immortality. So what if he's a vampire, he doesn't kill these days so that's ok. Neutered vampires! Shocking really that I would read such a thing with such gusto. In my teenage dreams Lestat rode around on a Harley charming young women into his embrace....sigh. Sorry! Back to Twilight. So we have established that the story is pretty standard, Edward is so perfect he is almost two dimensional and Bella is rather plain. Too plain really, she is barely described in the book; if you think about it she could be anyone. Me, you...any female reader. Attractive isn't it! But, if the plot is simple and the two main characters aren't up to much where is the appeal? Minor characters? Not really, the Cullen's each show their own personality but that doesn't really come into play until the later books and the same could be said for Jacob. Bella's mortal friends are dull and Charlie is the typical single dad (although, as a side note, I love him in the films. Very funny!). So, not the characters, not the plot, is it the style? Hell no! I am sorry but the writing in this book is dreadful. When I first began reading this book I spent most of my time reconstructing the sentences to make it read better. Luckily I got over this after the first few chapters but it was very off putting to begin with. The use of language is particularly week. Meyers uses the same descriptive words and sentences time and time again, I got sick of hearing about Edwards topaz-like eyes. Equally, at some points Meyer's seems to use the wrong words. I hate to say it of a published author but at times it seems she had hit the thesaurus button and chose the word that looked prettiest regardless of its relevance. I understand that these are only teenage literature after all but I have read all of Harry Potter, amongst others, and never felt this way about the style. To me it is the biggest let down of the book, and the entire series. I had hoped it would improve but it didn't, I just got used to it. Right then, what the hell is the appeal of this book! The relationship. Quite simply it is the depiction of a girl's first love, a love with our fantasised dark knight that is so intense it hurts. That every teenage fantasy realised on the page and everyone one of us, young or old is soaked in it. For me it brought back memories and feeling that I thought had long dissipated. I imagine for teenage girls it reminds them of their current lusts, or is a promise of what is yet to come. Personally I feel Meyer isn't the best at style or character building but the way she portrays Bella's young emotions is at times breath taking. After a chapter or two I could not put it down. I realise this entire review reads like I hated the book but I honestly loved it. The appeal of the pairs relationship above all else was enough to hold my interest. Yes Bella is whiney and useless at times, yes Edward is too perfect but together their emotions are so intense, and depicted so well that as a reader you grow to love them. Edward becomes that idealised figure but you don't care anymore because he is simply perfect! It was so good I bought New Moon and Eclipse... so good I've just ordered Breaking Dawn having only just started Eclipse! I can't recommend this enough to audiences of all ages. If you are looking for gothic literature then you may disappoint, he aint no Drac but there's still plenty of action. If you're looking for modern gothic love story, here it is! If, like me, you're a little snobby I must advise you to stick with it. You will spend the first few chapters sniggering to yourself but get over it! It is well worth it. I got mine on Amazon for a few quid. You can get the first three for less than £12, the forth is due out in paperback this month and is currently half price at Waterstones.com Buy the lot, you wont be disappointed!
Strange is a bit of a strong word, perhaps Five Reasons Why I Think I May Possibly, Maybe, Perhaps be a Little Bit Odd would be a better title. Yes I think I will go with that. Five Reasons Why I Think I May Possibly, Maybe, Perhaps be a Little Bit Odd. 1. I am an Irish dancer. Not that strange true but I have been dancing since I was 5 yrs old and am still obsessed. 21 years is a loooonngg time! I love love love it and cant be away from it for too long. Im not that good at it but I can hold my own and I enjoy it so much I don't mind that I never quite got as far with it as I could of. The strangest part, I think about it all the time, I see things in everyday life and relate it to dancing. Panels of wood in B&Q- good for practicing on. Deep blue curtains in TJ Hughes- would make a nice shade of dress. The list is endless as is my obsession. I do apologise to anyone in my life for this unfortunate problem. 2. I am a stationary geek. I love buying new pens, coloured pens, folders, notebooks, scissors, tape, felts, everything! I am very fussy about the type of paper I use, it has to be narrow ruled and be of good quality. My favourite things to buy are new diaries and calandars, despite the fact that I am quite disorganised. Part of the reason I am so excited about starting university again is that I get to buy new things! Freak. 3. I have a funny mole in my belly button that has been liken to a cocoa pop. Its freakin' ugly but the doctor wont remove it. Doesn't sound that strange but I haven't met anyone yet who has seen it and hasn't been a little shocked. 4. I get really strong dislikes to certain famous people for absolutely no reason and cant shake it nor explain it. I cannot stand Morrisey but couldn't tell you why. Same goes for The Beautiful South guy, Annie Lennox and Matt Daemon. There is no explanation I can only apologise to these people. Sorry! 5. I talk to anything that cant answer back. I talk to myself an awful lot but recently have noticed I have started to include inanimate objects into these insane ramblings. 'Right wardrobe, what shall we wear today' 'come here ham, gonna eat you' 'hello little Blackberry' This has also extended to animals, especially my poor dog. ' Hello handsome how are you today?' as if he's going to answer me back! ' morning Mr Sparrow, what you eating there?' why the hell do I feel the need to question the local wildlife. Seriously cracking up! Perhaps I am strange after all....
I bought a pair of Birkenstocks approximately four years ago. Perhaps its seems weird that I would write a review about them now but since I have just kicked the very same pair off my feet I would say m long relationship with these lovelies makes me the ideal candidate to review them! I have the classic single strap pair in white. Unfortunately these gems have rocketed in price over the years, I got mine on Ebay pretty cheap and I think you can still get them there for about £20. I would recommend having a good shop around or you could end up paying upwards of £40, prices of other styles can be even higher. My pair of Birkenstocks have a cork sole with a rubber base. A thick white leather strap runs across the sole to create the mule style shoe, this is finished with a buckle detail which can be used to tighten or loosen the show to fit. All sounds pretty standard, so why so special? Well! The cork sole of the Birkenstock is shaped to fit into the shape of your foot. After a couple of wears the cork is maliable enough to shape specifically around your foot. This allows for the most comfortable pair of shoes you could ask for as well as added support. Now, for some people that might not be reason enough to spend so much money on what could be seen as fancy flip flops but for the 'delicate' types like me it is heaven! Let me explain, I have been an Irish dancer since the age of five and have caused myself no end of damage in the process. One of the worst conditions I have developed from this is plantar fasciitis, which essentially leaves you with extremely low arches and a great deal of foot pain. For someone like me flip flops are just not an option, they offer zero support and are completely flat (heightening the symptoms of my condition). Therefore I would be spending the entire summer in hot, sweaty trainers just for their support. That's where the fantastic 'Birkenstocks' come in. I can wear these and not worry about the after effects on my feet. Because they are moulded to my bizarre foot shape they actually improve my condition whilst being remarkably comfortable (although hellish for anyone else who tries my pair). Essentially they are an orthotic insole with a strap that looks pretty trendy! Thank you Birkenstock, may dancers the world over rejoice in your glory!! They are suitable for normal folk too though. Now back to my opening statement. Four years old and still going strong. If the rest of my review has not convinced you yet I am sure that will. Four years out of a single pair of summer shoes, what more could you ask for? Yes mine are a little shabby now and the cork soles have taken a beating over the years but with a quick baby wipe they look absolutely fine! I don't plan to be replacing them this summer at least. Now, I know there are many imitations out there but be warned- very few copies have a shaped sole like the Birkenstocks do and the shaped sole is what makes them to amazing. I do not have a bad word to say for these wonders; I recommend every man woman and child to get a pair. Go on, Treat your feet!
My nine year old niece got Pictureka for Christmas last year and it has fast become a favourite for everyone, including myself. The game is still being played on a weekly basis at her house which, in today's world of technology, is testament itself as to how good this game is. My niece received this as a present but I believe it retails between £15 and £20 and is easily available. The game comes in a standard games box, square in size and easy to store. The lid is decorated in a similar style to the game tiles (more on them later) with the word 'Pictureka' blazed across in bright red and a set of lips! I'm not quite sure what the purpose of the lips is but all in all its pretty eye catching and does the job. It's a sturdy box, still in one piece seven months later so that's pretty impressive in a house of three kids. The game comprises game cards, tiles, an egg-timer, a coloured dice and a numbered dice. So what is the game? Well personally I had never heard of it before until I was round at my brothers over Christmas and the kids begged me to play. They explained the rules to be pretty quickly which shows how simple it is. The game-board is made up of nine tiles each covered in loads of little pictures. These individual tiles are printed on both sides so they tiles can be flips, as part of the game, or just to give the game more variety over time. Players can be individual or teams. A player roles the coloured dice which dictates what colour card they take, this determines how the turn is played. Players then have to find certain pictures on the board in different manners and always timed. For example, a player may have to find just a single picture shown on the card. Or, they may have to find a certain number of something, e.g. stars, within the time space. There are a number of different ways a game may be played, it would make it seem complicated if I explained them all and the game is certainly not complicated at all. For each turn completed correctly the player or team gets a point, the winner is the first to six I think. Come to think of it that's a bit of a random number; perhaps the wee kiddies have been lying to me! As you may have already guessed from the tone of my opinion of this is pretty high. First of all the kids love it! The little girl it was bought for is 9 and quickly gets bored of playing more simple games with her younger brother or sister. She loves this game because they can play this with her and they all enjoy it. It is recommended for ages 8 and over, my 7 year old niece can handle it pretty well, surprisingly so can my 5 year old nephew! Granted it has taken him some time and he does do better when he is in a team with an older person but he understands the game well enough to participate which makes it a great game for all the kids! Brilliant! Now never mind the kids I love it! Granted it wouldn't be my first choice of game for a grownups games night BUT it would certainly feature. I love this game to play as teams with adults and kids, most importantly that's the way the kids like it too. All in all a fantastic family game. Suitable for all ages and fast becoming a family favourite. I think we can expect to see this one lasting a long time. Hurrah!
Let battle commence!! Once again I am spending my summer battling the evils of pollen. Unfortunately I moved further inland earlier this year and I think the atmosphere must be heavier since I have never suffered so badly with hay fever as I have this year. Therefore, my usual defences are null and void. Hay fever1 - 0 Me. I got hold of Beconase Nasal Spray in Boots, £5.99 for 500 actuations. A little expensive but as all hay fever sufferers while know, that is sometimes unavoidable. Previously tablets had been enough to combat my hay fever but unfortunately this year I have been so full of snot (sorry I know its unpleasant) it's unbelievable. That's why I went with a nasal spray. ****Packaging**** The nasal spray comes in a regular cardboard box. The spray itself is a small white plastic container with a long nozil for sticking up your nose. Nice! There are two thin plastic tabs either side of the nozzle, press these to make it spray up your nose, easy peasy. The design of the spray is simple yet effective; it is also small enough to pop in your handbag for those days when you are particularly bad. The nozzle also has a handy clear cap over it to keep it clean. Just as well considering where you are about to stick it. ****Product**** The spray is very easy to use and it's not uncomfortable popping the nozzle up the snout. Once you spray it you must breathe in (through the nose) sharply. Nine times out of ten you don't feel the product rushing through your nose and only know it has got there from the sound. This is great since I thought it would irritate. Sometimes you do know the product is there, I think perhaps this is when it is not high enough up. When this happens it isn't pleasant but it's not unbearable, more of an uncomfortable tickle. The one aspect of this application I don't like is the taste. Strange as it may seem but you can actually taste the product at the back of the throat, particularly after the second spray. It's not the worst taste ever but it's hardly nice and certainly chemically. It's bearable but I would rather it wasn't there. ****Results**** immediately after taking the spray my nose feels a little irritated and I normally sneeze a few times. This is followed by needing to blow my nose a lot! It takes a few minutes to get over the initial effects and I'd say it takes about 20-30minutes to take effect fully. As of yet I have not had a day without the effects of hay fever but with the help of Beconase the effects are very little and certainly manageable. On a bad day I take the inhaler morning and evening but most of the time morning is enough. Bye bye snot: Me 1 - 1 Hay fever. Ha!
Packed lunches are getting increasingly boring, as such I am always buying different cereal bars trying to find one that can keep my interest for more than a week! ****Purchase**** I got two multipacks (6 bars in each) at Sainsbury's on a 2 for £3 offer. I thought £3 for 12 bars was reasonable enough, especially as this is a notoriously expensive brand, in my opinion. ****Packaging**** The bars come individually wrapped in a white foil wrapper with the distinctive Special K 'K' and a pretty picture of an apple on them. The packaging emphasises the fact that they are only 90 calories per bar as it mentions it twice. A little over kill I felt. I like the foil wrapper, it keeps the product fresh and safe in my lunch bag. However, the wrapper is a couple of cm larger than the actual bar and I think it is a little deceptive! ****Appearance**** The product itself is a cluster of rice and wheat cereal with pieces of dried apple and pear hidden away. This is all kept together with some kind of sticky/sugary product. At first I thought this would be caramel but its more fruity in flavour, some sort of apple syrup perhaps. The whole thing is topped off with white yoghurt drizzled in a 'creative' manner! ****Taste**** When I first bite into the cereal bar its a bit of an effort as the combination of the above ingredients is quite a chew! That is not a bad thing, personally I like the chewy texture as I feel I am getting something out of my mid-morning snack and its not gone in seconds. Also, as it is chewy you can savour the taste longer. Certainly worth savouring. These taste absolutely lovely. They are very sweet yet fruity too so they do not become sickly. The syrup used to hold it all together contrasts well with the more savoury taste of the cereal. As you chew away you get the dried pieces of fruit popping up and that is just delicious. Dried this fruit might be but it certainly hasn't lost its flavour, if anything the apple and pear flavour is enhanced and is even more fruity! Having tried almost the entire cereal bar range at the supermarket this one has certainly stood out for me. I love the addition of the dried fruit and it really adds to the flavour, the fruit flavourings taste authentic rather than sugary as with some other products. As said, the chewy texture just adds to this and lets you experience the flavours longer. I would definitely recommend this product and look forward to trying the other flavours on offer. I think this one will be hanging around my lunch back for some time!
I always have a lip balm in my handbag as I have pretty dry skin, including my lips! I personally prefer lip balm in stick form but when a friend bought me a Born Lippy pot as part of a birthday present I wasn't going to complain. My pot is Mango Peach flavoured and I think they are £2/£3 in store. ****Appearance**** Like all Body Shop products this is packaged in a very appealing way. The round pot is transparent and you can see the bright coloured lip balm through it, in this case its bright orange. The label on the top is coloured in similar tones; orange, yellow, pink and gives an over all appearance of something tropical and tasty. Very fitting. ****Packaging**** As said I prefer a stick lip balm for two reasons. Firstly, I don't like sticking my finger in the pot and making a mess. This pot isn't too deep so you don't struggle to get the lip balm out once it starts running low, bonus! Although this also means there may be less in this pot than some other brands I personally don't mind because it means I don't end up with a finger covered in greasy balm. Secondly, once the pot has been in my bag a while the seal loosens and you end up with bits of fluff and rubbish all round the rim. That hasn't happened with this product which I was pleased with. The label has lost some of its colour but that's not surprising considering the amount of rubbish in my hand bag. Needless to say I am a convert to the Body Shop variant of pot lip balms. ****The Lip Balm**** Yum, yum, yum nom, nom om, nom. Tasty lip balm! This flavour of lip balm smells delicious. I think you can smell mango more than peach but that's fine since I think it is the nicer scent. I do however find that it can be over powering. Whilst it is a tropical fruity lovely smell it can be too strong- when in the car with my Dad he goes nuts because he can smell it the minute I open the pot! The lip balm doesn't really have a taste which is good! I don't need a taste I just need some balm, thank you very much. Once applied the lip balm leaves a nice sheen. I like this since I don't wear lip balm I only wish it would last longer. I suppose I should really buy a lip gloss but that's not going to happen. Born Lippy goes on really easy and looks lovely, there is no colour tint so you can put it over your lip line when the chapping is really bad. ****Does it work?**** Sadly this is the only real down side in my opinion. Whilst it does moisturise my lips nicely and leaves them looking shiny and healthy it doesn't help much with chapped lips. I can use it every day and that's fine but should it be winter or I have had a cold or something of the like then I have to buy a better (medicated) Lip balm to fix that. However I have not scrapped this lip balm because I love it! Its ideal for keeping in my handbag but is not a complete lip-therapy treatment.
My Dad picked up this phone about a year ago when his broke. He paid £20; I think it was in Tesco. Anyway he got his fixed and I broke mine so I swiftly nabbed it. Yoink! The first thing I noticed once I had pilfered this little gem was that it was bright pink. Like beyond shocking. Personally I am not the type of girl who goes in for pink phones with little lip glosses hanging from them but desperate times call for desperate measures (you can imagine my dads face when he opened the box and realised he had picked up a pink handset and not a black one!). Once I had got over the initial shock it didn't bother me anymore. Let me say now that I don't know technical terms for technology. The phone is the most basic of basic handsets and does not have many special features; it's surprising it even has a colour screen. The screen itself is of poor quality but is adequate. As said it is coloured and the menus are attractive but the graphics are pretty rubbish for this day and age. That said if you are looking for quality technology you won't get it for £20. The phone does not have a camera on it so I was happily surprised that it actually received picture messages. The problem is that the screen quality is so poor that most pictures received are so pixelated that you can barely tell what they are. Unless the picture received is quite bold you won't have a clue what is on so it becomes a pointless activity. I think poor picture messaging service was the one thing I missed the most about using a budget phone and being able to receive poor quality pictures was eventually just frustrating. Aside from the basic phone and text functions there is not much more to this model. It does have a basic organiser which would be handy but I could never get the alarm on the appointments work so that eventually became useless. The alarm clock works though! God does it! The volume of the alarms/ring tones/ message tones is pretty impressive. With that in mind this simple model would be quite useful for anyone with hearing impairments. The phone also includes functions which I have never bothered with such as games and a WAP browser. The best feature of this phone is that it is durable. I have thrown this thing (unintentionally) across the room a million times and it is still in one piece. At one point I bent the battery cover and wouldn't you know it just bent back into place. It really is a hardwearing little thing, I am still amazed that my old fancy pants Nokia couldn't withstand a few drops of water yet this cheap and cheerful fella is powering on. In summary you get what you pay with this. It is exactly what I would expect for £20, absolutely fine for texting and calling but not much more. The bonus of this is its durability, for those of us with a habit of murdering our phones this is a handy little thing to have on stand-by.
'The Wilderness' by Samantha Harvey is published by Vintage with a RRP of £ 7.99. I bought mine in Waterstones as part of the 3 for 2 offer. ****Appearance**** Let's be honest, unless a book has come highly recommended we have to be attracted to it before we will pick it up and read the synopsis. I am as fickle as the next reader and was attracted to the simple yet stylish cover of this book. My copy is white with an illustration of a pink blossom tree. On further inspection there are hidden objects on this cover and it certainly took my attention. The synopsis on the back briefly introduces our main character and the focus of the novel. Stylish cover; Brief but detailed synopsis; Mental health; Sold! ****Synopsis**** I hate reading a review that gives the game away so I will only briefly outline the plot. The narrative follows the life of Jake- an older gentleman, retired architect, widower with a lifelong friend acting in his wife's place. Jake is fully aware of his condition and the story follows him as he tried to come to terms with Alzheimer's whilst attempting to mask it from those around him, including family. The story progresses as does his condition and we see a shift in the way he thinks remembers and perceives the world around him, including its people. Jakes thoughts often drift back into his past and we are given an overall account of his life - from childhood with his close bond to his mother, to married life and fatherhood. That's about all you need to know. ****Opinions**** Initially I was a little disappointed with this book. I chose it specifically because it dealt with a mental health issue and to start with it barely addresses Alzheimer's. I spent a couple of weeks coming back to it as it failed to grip my attention. It was flat. The continual skipping back and forth between past and present seemed pointless at times. I was reading a present day chapter not having a clue who was who until I read a few chapters on and was introduced to the characters in a 'past' chapter. I really was struggling to stay interested for a while and even considered throwing it on the 'unfinished' book pile. To Think! About two thirds of the way through the book began to turn for me. The stories from the past began to match up with the present like a jigsaw fitting into place. It was all becoming clear for me, the reader, alas not for Jake. As the novel began to piece together Jake's disease began to take over and we see him spiralling into the depths of Alzheimer's- the Wilderness. I really enjoyed the way Harvey handled this. As a person with a professional history in mental health nursing I felt as though Harvey has allowed me a glimpse of the other perspective- that of the patient/sufferer. Harvey continues to narrate from Jake's perspective but we see the cracks-evidence of word finding difficulties, confusion or time and place, unsure who people are, where people are, are they alive? Suddenly this book turned for me and I couldn't put it down. Again from my professional background I saw signs of deterioration e.g. examinations used. This showed me that the author has either done her research or has a personal experience of the disease. It was fascinating. More than the fantastic account of the disease, the account of the characters was moving. As we follow Jake through this terrible journey we are privy to his changing emotions, through fear, confusion, frustration, anger and finally something resembling inertia, when nothing makes enough sense to fight back. The novel is at times heartbreaking. We are there with Jake when he is frustrated at people because he doesn't understand. Alongside Jake we see the emotions and commitment of Eleanor. Long-suffering Eleanor, how my heart went out to her! I can say no more on this without giving too much away but let me this, in my opinion women and carers like her deserve sainthood! In hindsight now I realise that the slow start mimicked the illness itself. It is there but it is hidden, unseen and ignored like a guilty secret. The pace of the book quickens as the illness would. The focus on the illness also shifts from barely there to centre stage. I feel this was intentional to liken the narrative to Alzheimer's itself. Clever Harvey. In sum, this book is awesome! A definite read for most people. If you are personally struggling with dementia yourself or within your family then consider how you feel before you read the Wilderness. I feel it is so true to life that it could be too emotional for some people. If recommended to a friend I would say 'stick with it, it's worth it'.
I love Innocent smoothies and normally treat myself to the ugly green one on a Friday after work, yesterday it had sold old! Disaster! So My only option was this rather normal coloured 'superfruit' variety, beggars cant be choosers says I and trotted off to the till. The look of the product is almost the same as any other Innocent smoothie, same shaped bottle, same style cartoon picture, same font. The 'superfruit' variety has a gold label and lid- why wouldn't it, its super of course. Typically for Innocent the bottle has a run-down of the million and one fruits included in it and the inclusion of 0 mouse mats....ha! I love these extra little details on my smoothie bottles, yes I realise I am sad. So the main components of this 'superfruit' variant are pomegranates, blueberries and acai (from palm trees apparently). As well as those lovelies we have red and white berries, banana,orange and a squeeze of lemon. Yum. As ever the product can be seen through the packaging and in this case it looks thick and a rich purple colour. More Yum. Before tasting the smoothie I took a big inhale and it smelt like any other smoothie; rich, fruity, sweet but I could not distinctly smell any of the main ingredients. The first thing I noticed when I took a big gulp was the rather large pieces of fruit hidden within the thick liquid. I'm not sure whether they were blueberries or acai but I was not expecting them to be there! Quite a surprise! While this wasn't unpleasant I would rather it wasn't there, I know it is a common hazard in fruit smoothies put personally its not something I like and didn't expect it as you couldn't see them before opening. Once I got over this initial shock I took in the taste. YUM!!! This 'superfruit' drink has the usual sweet fruit taste of smoothies but leave a rich and distinct after-taste of blueberries. It really is lovely and tasty and the distinct berry taste makes you want to drink on, unfortunately however I could not. Normally I down my smoothies a little too quickly in three or four gulps (silly me) but with this one I could not. The rich taste became overpowering after a while and I had to pop the lid back on and save it for later! Bad times! The rich taste combined with the presence of fruit pieces made it seem like I was almost eating this drink, strange as it sounds, which made it less refreshing than other smoothies. However this drink was so tasty and certainly went back and finished it later. It really is very tasty and anyone who likes berry fruits will go mad for this. Personally though I think I will stick to my usual ugly green smoothie.
I popped into Boots at lunch time to get a quick drink, I like Boots because it always has a large selection of more 'grown up' drinks. I spotted 'This Water' which was completely new to me. Initially I thought it was an 'Innocent' smoothie and even checked to see if it was, silly me. The product looked fairly nice and boasted its healthy virtues so I gave it a go. I got the Raspberrys and Apples flavour at Boots for £1.49 ---The Look--- As said I initially thought it was an Innocent smoothie and the bottle is almost identical in shape and label colour. The brightly coloured liquid can be clearly seen and is appealing. The label is simple but effective. The Label boasts all the wonderfully healthy attributes and as I am currently trying to lose weight (unsuccessfully) this is what appealed to me. I liked the fact that it was made from real fruit rather than concentrate, on top of the product donates to Pump Aid so you get karma for drinking. ---The Drink--- The smell was the first thing I noticed when I opened it up. It was sweet, very sweet but not at all sickly. The scent of raspberries was evident but no sign of the apples. Nonetheless it was definitely appealing. The taste was wonderful. It's lovely and sweet but not overpowering. You can really taste the fruit and you know you are getting the real thing rather than artificial flavours, you can truly taste the difference. Again the raspberries overpower the presence of the apple but that really didn't matter as it was so tasty. Straight from the fridge it was chilled perfectly enhancing the refreshing sensation. Perhaps at room temperature it would be sickly but I don't plan on drinking it that way. The consistency is slightly thicker than water. You can tell that there is fruit pulp there, the bottle is left with some bitty residue but you don't feel that at all in your mouth. I would say it has the same thickness as milk. ---Price--- I always expect to pay a little more at Boots so I think £1.49 is reasonable for this product and I would pay it again. For an 'adult juice' I would expect to pay in this area and I think it is worth it.
Primark- The soul of many a girls wardrobe. Mine included. Primark appeared on the highstreet roughyl a decade ago. Initially I was unaware of its existance and did not realise I had been in contact with it in Ireland under the name of Penney's. Once I was introduced to Primark I never looked back. I would frequent the Manchester store whenever I got a chance to and when the Liverpool branch opened I could not have been happier. Needless to say I am a big fan, here's why. ---Clothes--- The clothes range from your everyday basics like plain tee's and vests to the latest fashions. I use Primark primarily for essential basics, I dont see the point in buying a vest for £8 in one shop when I can buy it for £1.50 in Primark. A lot of people will criticise the store on its quality and granted in some cases I agree, but when it comes to the simple items I dont really think it matters. I would rather buy 5 different coloured Tee's to take on holiday that only last a year than buy 2 Tee's that last two years and cost the same. Without Primark I would never get the chance to buy fashion items as all my money would end up going on essentials. Fashion items at Primark are a different story. Primark are very good at keeping up with the latest trends and they fly off the shelves, teenage girls and boys everywhere can be heard squeeling with delight at the sight of their new purchases. As a slightly *cough* older girl I would rather pay a little extra for the fancy things. The affore mentioned issue of quality comes into play here. When it comes to a pretty summer dress or a fitted shirt it has to be well made to look nice, in my opinion. Very often the poor workmanship of Primark clothes can be seen in the fancier items and they do not fit well. That said I have one or two fashion items of theirs, every now and then they get it right. ---Underwear & Nightwear--- The underwear in Primark again lacks quality but the choices of style and design is brilliant. I have got some items from this section but you have to be a bit choosy to get a decent style that doesnt look too 'cheap'. They also do a great range of padded bra's for the less fortunate amongst us. Unfortunately the bra's do not wash so great, I would estimate you get about six months out of them. However with a price range of £3-£8 I dont think you could really complain. The underwear section is great for stocking up on pants though! The nightwear is fantastic. I personally love the mix and match section and have quite a variety of vests and trousers. The quality isn't amazing but the last well enough. Again with the prices being so low I dont think its an issue. ---Accessories--- This section tends to be a 'come and go' thing- the good items come then they go! Some weeks I can find lovely little items of dress jewellry and the selection of bangles is great. Other weeks the lack of quality shines through and it looks like cheap that. Where Primark sometimes fails with fashion in the clothing department it wins brilliantly here. Accessory trends come and go so fast that its almost impossible to keep up with them. Unless of course you have a Primark near by. That ring that was £15 in one shop has an almost identical twin in Primark for £2.50 They also have a vast array of colourful bags and shoes. Again if you are just buying these things for a fashion fix great, but dont expect them to last. ---Value?--- It honestly depends how you want to use Primark. Each shopper is different and each person is shaped differently, so it goes without saying that our requirements are different. I feel that Primark is excellent value considering the prices. Without it I would not be able to afford fancy clothes. I use primark mostly for basics and accessories saving me money to spend elsewhere.