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I work in a salon that has a body piercing studio and have noticed in the last two years how popular nose piercings are becoming, not just with the younger generation. A lady walked in the other day for a nose pierce, she looked about mid fifties, she had recently gone through a divorce and she wanted to do something for her self to feel whacky and to be a bit of a rebel, her ex husband would certainly not approve. She left feeling a million dollars because she had made the decision herself and had nobody to answer to. I had to smile, she said that her kids would be shocked and she seemed so pleased about that, after buying a few studs to change the jewellery the following day she left with a spring in her step to tackle the new world that she now found herself in. There is a lot of arguments in the body piercing world about how noses should be pierced, whether it be with a gun or needle. I personally prefer to use a gun because it is quick and easy, and as long as you pierce the stud downwards avoiding the cartilage of the nose then it is also quite safe. After twenty four hours the stud can be removed and a smaller one inserted or a ring if preferred. A stud should never have a back on it because this is dangerous and can cause a lot of damage if knocked, the best way to keep one in is to put a bend into it so that it hooks into the nose it is also a lot more comfortable to wear like that because the spike is not pointing directly towards the cartilage. There are studs on the market with a spiralled stem, I never recommend these to customers because they are really uncomfortable to insert and can cause a lot of pain if the nose gets banged but of course that is their choice I can only give an opinion. If a person wants a ring in their nose it is important to discuss exactly where they want their piercing because some people just like a small ring so the pierce has to be done quite close to the nostril, but then you get a person that wants a bigger jewellery ring so they need to have the pierce higher up the nose. I personally think that studs on females look nice especially if they are dainty, but you do get people wanting to put some huge ones in but that is their choice I suppose. I don't like to see a ring hanging from some body's nostril, I think it looks awful and reminds me of a bull but of course this is just my opinion I certainly wouldn't tell a customer that thought. Do I enjoy piercing noses? I have to admit I do. Would I have my nose pierced? No Way!!!!! I am too much of a coward because I see how it makes a persons eye water, I use stick on studs far less painful!!!
I am a lover of digestive biscuits so to save a bit of money I decided to try the Tesco Value Range. The price of33p for a packet was quite a saving compared to 1.15 for the more expensive make, so I toddled home to put the kettle on and try them. Digestives are dunkable biccies as far as I am concerned, I couldnt possibly enjoy one without practicing the ritual. Opening the pack was quite easy using the tape pull but every one had to be taken out very carefully because they were all very fragile, they snapped so easily unlike the original Digestives I normally buy. taste was not the same they were too sweet and lacked that wheaty texture. A good digestive can be dunked and eaten with ease, these just could not handle a quick tip. Sorry tesco they are not up to scratch for me so I will pay a little bit more and get the real thing in future.
I have always been a lover of charity shops, every one loves a bargain and of course it is raising money for a needy cause. There are quite a lot of them on every high street in Britain today, and most are run by volunteer staff, but the main ones like Cancer Research and Oxfam pay a full time wage to a person to oversee the running of the shop. This is quite a chunk of the profit but they feel that somebody has to over see the shop to ensure that it is running correctly. I can understand the reasoning behind it but a charity shop can run without paid staff. My reason for this review is because I have been helping a shop in my home town, it is for the Thrift Charity and the shop is on Barrow Island in Barrow in Furness. All proceeds are shared between local charities and it does so much good for the local community. There are actually two shops next to each other one for household items and the other for clothes and it runs completely with volunteers. Every worker has a key and the Islanders all rally round to keep it up and running, from the ladies that like to do just three hours a week to the gentleman who calls in every day to see if odd jobs need doing or just to make the staff a cup of tea. It has totally opened my eyes working here, the community spirit is fantastic and locals just call in with unwanted clothes or curtains and then buy something themselves. A lady wheeled a brand new pushchair in last week, we sold it within half an hour to a young Mum who went away thrilled to bits with her bargain for £20, and of course that is a lot of money for the charity so we were quite chuffed with that transaction. This is a well run realistically priced charity shop that serves the community and it has so much support from all of the locals, I think that the well known shops could learn a lot about raising funds if they came to see this place, it is definitely a credit to the Thrift Charity and runs like clockwork.
There are 22 weeks to go until Christmas 2009, I know you are all thinking that it is miles away and far too early to start thinking about it but with money becoming harder to stretch it is worth planning for now. When I was young my Mum used to love decorating the house and she always came up with some marvellous ideas that were cheap and cheerful so I will share a few of them with you. ***Candle Holder.*** Find an old glass bottle, it could be a wine bottle or even a tomato sauce bottle, there are plenty of options, I try to use an unusual shaped one if possible to get a better effect, it is usually a brandy one coz that is my favourite tipple. Pour some washing powder into a bowl and add a few drops of water slowly stirring in until you get a sticky consistency similar to plaster. Using an old knife or spatula apply to the bottle spreading it about half an inch in thickness when it is completely covered pat it lightly all over to make it more textured if you play around with it you can get some really nice snow effect designs. I prefer to use white powder but the coloured type is also quite effective. A sprig of holly or some shiny buttons could be lightly pressed into the powder then leave to dry for a few hours, it eventually goes rock hard. A candle put in the top and maybe a ribbon or tinsel tied around the middle and you have a very cheap decoration. ***Mantle Sprig*** If you have a walk in the country side or even look around the garden you can pick up some great pieces of wood that have fallen from a bush or a tree, I have actually just cut back a lavender tree in my garden and kept a great branch that will do nicely for a decoration, trimmed down to shape it will look nice on the fire place. Spray painting silver or gold is one option so you must make sure that it is completely dried out before applying the paint but I personally prefer it left natural. You can then add your own bits of baubles or ribbons. We all have loads of them in the bottom of the decoration box from the year before so there is no need to start buying. I find if you over decorate a twig it becomes gaudy so just a few bows or sprigs of holly makes a very attractive decoration. Twigs placed in a large pot with fairy lights can make a great feature in the corner of a room and also hanging horizontally in a window so the options are endless. ***Gift Wrapping*** I think presents that are wrapped nicely make all the difference, so I really put effort into mine but always try to do it as economically as possible. Wrapping paper is not very dear nowadays but I prefer to buy one that is just a plain colour and then add my own decorations to it. I quite often find silk and dried flowers in second hand shops so I grab them when I see them and then make my own sprigs up to attach to the parcels, it costs pennies and makes a parcel look gorgeous. Gift tags I make up from last years cards by punching a hole in and using a small piece of ribbon or gold string. ***Husbands Card*** He gets a posh padded one every year because I love him to bits and he deserves it. It cost me 6.99 six years ago, he gets it every year....... so that saves me a fortune now. Bless him he has never said a word and I personally believe that he has not even noticed. I hope that I have given you a few ideas and if I do forget to say it at Christmas............Good health to you all and prosperity for 2010......
***Introduction*** On a recent trip to Crete I decided to hire a car for the day to get away from the resort and get a real feel of this beautiful Island. I headed east along the North coast passing through some quaint little villages the road took me right up into the hills. The one thing that will always stick in my mind when I think of Crete will be the sound of the crickets in the olive groves, as you drive past all you can hear is their chirping noise it reminded me of The Hitchcock film 'The Birds,' but when you did get a bit of road without olive groves which is very rare in Crete, then the silence hits you, it is very exhilarating and an experience that leaves you wondering just how many of these creatures there are in one tree. I was making my way to Elounda a town that has a fishing port and here I would be able to get a boat trip to take me over to Spinalonga Island a leper colony up until 1957. I had read about this place some time ago and so thought it would be interesting to go and see for myself just how these people lived on the 'Isle of the Damned' as it was nick named by the Inhabitants. ***History*** The Island itself is solid rock and quite small, 850 metres around the perimeter and as far back as the 9th century when the Arabs invaded Crete it was a retreat for Christians for about 138 years. At the beginning of the 13th century the Venetians occupied Crete up until 1705 when the Turks then came along, they built a small village on Spinalonga and also used part of it as a prison for Cretans that fought against them. In 1898 Crete gained its independence but the Turks living on Spinalonga refused to move because they were protected by the French who had a navel base on the island at the time. The Crete government decided to send lepers to the Island hoping that it would scare the Turks and this worked, they rapidly left and headed back to Turkey. The lepers remained there until 1957 and from 1970 it became a tourist attraction. ***Spinalonga Island*** As you get close to the Island you can see the fortress and the gates leading up to the town itself. It is quite a magnificent sight and I couldn't help thinking about what must have gone through these peoples minds as they were taken over there on a small boat watching the distant land of freedom getting further and further away and then turning to see the Island that would be their prison coming closer and closer. It felt quite eerie walking through the cobbled streets, small stone houses with wooden balconies and pots of flowers placed along the path ways. I walked right around the island looking out to sea and then back to the fortress walls, an island that once held such sadness now feels so peaceful, it was a very strange experience. There is a lot of restoration work going on to bring the town and buildings back to their original state and some houses have been fully restored and show the history of the Island. One particular room showed photos of people that had lived there and you could read about their lives and how they survived with the help of locals from a small village on Crete itself called Plaka. There were three nurses a few boatmen and a desanitiser that lived in this small village and they travelled the short distance across to the Island every day to help the Colony folk but this only came about in 1950 when a clinic was built because a cure had been found. I was truly mesmerised by what I saw on this Island and also felt quite sad, it must have been horrible for these poor people to be sent here never to see their families again. They were total outcasts from normal society with absolutely no hope in life until of course the cure was found. The church has been restored and it is a wonderful building but quite small, it must have been the one place that these people could go and feel totally at peace with their world. I recommend you to take a camera because some of the views on this Island are outstanding especially the Island itself as you sail towards it and the sea from the top of the fortress is something that will stick in your memory for a long time to come, it is very difficult to describe you just have to see it for yourself. ***Location and cost*** The Island lies just off the North coast of Crete and boat trips from Elounda which is a fishing port 65 kilometres from Heraklion are available for 10 Euros return. The boat trip itself takes about twenty minutes each way so quite inexpensive. There are loads of boat trip births all along the front of the port but from what we could gather they were all about the same rate. An entrance fee of 4 Euros is charged when you actually land on the Island, children half price from 5 years to 15. If you want to go across with a guide then the price goes up to 20 Euros and that included the entrance fee, but to be quite honest we arrived and just followed a party in front of us so we were able to listen to the guide any way, and of course we were free to wander about on our own so I think taking the cheaper option was a far better choice. The boat returns after an hour which is long enough to get around the island and take in the atmosphere but if you wish to stay for longer you can. ***Facilities*** A small cafe is just by the harbour selling drinks and snacks but it was very expensive so not a lot of people were using it when we were there, we decided to wait until we returned to Elounda and eat in one of the many restaurants on the port front that would be a perfect way to end the day. There are toilets but again if you are not desperate then I suggest you wait until you return to the mainland, I was a bit in need and although it was a relief it certainly was not a pleasant experience. ***My Opinion*** This Island is not suitable for people with mobility problems, not at all wheel chair friendly because there are some rough pathways as you walk around the Island. Guide books say that it is a great place for a family trip and small children can run around and play, I don't agree entirely, the boat trip would be fun but spending an hour on this rocky Island would not be enough to keep a young child amused. I recommend that you take a cool drink with you and use a good sun block; it was extremely hot walking around the perimeter and there are very few shaded areas. By the harbour you will find a few trees so this is an ideal spot to get cool while you wait for your return boat. Visiting this Island was a very moving experience and made me realise just how lucky I am to be healthy. It is well worth a visit, the boat trip is enjoyable, the island peaceful and of course it will really open your eyes to just how cruel and barbaric lepers were treated until a cure was found.
**Introduction** I was going on holiday and wanted to take some nail polish remover with me, I was reluctant to take my normal bottle in case it spilled in my suitcase, I have had that happen to me before and it was a pain in the neck getting the smell out of all my clothes. I decided to try some Quickies Nail Varnish Remover Pads; they would be nice and light and hopefully quick and easy to use. **Product** They are made by a company that started back in 1877 in Thelford Norfolk. John Jeyes invented a disinfectant that is still on sale today the famous 'Jeyes Fluid' It's an excellent product but smells horrible, my Mum swears by it. The company went on to manufacture all types of cleaning products over the years and I believe these nail wipes have been around for more than thirty years. There are 20 square wipes all prepared with remover on them and measuring 2"x2" a great size compared to other wipes that I have used . They are nice and moist because the bright pink plastic pot has a hinged lid that seals shut very tightly, in fact the pot looks very attractive so eye catching to the consumer browsing for nail remover. One thing that drew me to choosing these was because they contain Panthenol and when applied to the skin or nails it turns into Vitamin B5 so moisturises and helps to avoid dry cuticles and brittle nails. I must say here that these wipes are not recommended for false nails because Butyrolactone is also an ingredient......this is a solvent used quite often in paint stripper, and my husband has just shown me an article in one of his motoring magazines and it is also used to clean alloy wheels, so pretty strong stuff. ** Price and availability** I bought my pot from Superdrug for 49p; 2.5p per large pad seems like a bargain to me. **Application** I took one of the wipes from the container and closed the lid straight away to protect the moisture, it had a strong orangey aroma, a nice change from the eye watering pong of my normal stuff. Rubbing the nails it felt very greasy and after a few wipes I realised that I would have to put a bit of elbow grease into the procedure. Five minutes gone and ten finger nails all feeling sticky the pad was still moist with grease but my nail varnish was still there, ok the top coat had gone but the pink base colour and nail art was all perfect. I washed my hands and applied a new top coat until I could go out and find a decent bottle of remover. **My opinion** These are a waste of money, I know people always say that you get what you pay for and in this instance they are right. I had to smile about the warning not to use on false nails; I really cannot see these harming false nails that are on their last legs because they have not got enough zap to remove even varnish. I will not be trying these again because they just do not do the job.
I have been a member of Dooyoo for eight months now with 21 premium reviews under my belt. Some people might think that is not a lot of contribution for the length of time that I have been here, but I learnt a very good lesson after writing my very first review on Jim Thompson's Thai House. I put a lot of work into it but I also wrote about a place that interested me and I was able to relay across my true feelings about the place. After posting it onto the site I sat back rather nervously hoping that people would read it, and then started to worry in case it was not good enough. I couldn't believe the response, after a few minutes members were leaving such kind comments welcoming me to the site. 'Whiz11' left the first comment and I was so chuffed that somebody had read it let alone took the time to acknowledge me. Duncantorr is such a gentleman he made me feel so welcome and of course 'xxfoxyredxx' and 'Fizzywizzy' I cannot list every one but you are all a great bunch. I don't write loads of reviews because the site has so much more to offer, I enjoy reading other peoples work and there are some excellent writers on here. Mythdata with all her beauty products and tales of that dog of hers, Mummy2harry and her book reviews, and of course I really cannot forget to mention that gentleman that knows everything that there is to know about photography 'thebigc1690' Of course there are so many other people that make this site good fun and have supported me, obviously I cant list you all but I do appreciate your help. I try to put time aside to read and rate other peoples work because that is what keeps the community spirit up, without that this site just wouldn't work, and of course it makes us all a little bit more money. I have heard a lot of rumbles about revenge rating but up to now I haven't been a victim, it seems so silly to get into this childish game because that is not what the site is all about. From my experience up to now the ratings are very fair and I must admit I did leave a low rating on a few last week but that was because they were pretty useless and told me nothing about the product, but I did tell them why which is what I would expect if I wrote a bad review. There is nothing wrong with constructive criticism as far as I am concerned it can only improve my writing. (All those with a sense of humour are now leaving comments for me advising on how I can become literate!!!) The other side of the coin for Dooyoo is the help it gives to purchasers, I bought a garden fork today after reading 'mumsymary's' review on hers she kindly messaged me with a choice of two brands that she recommended. If I were to buy a new washer or household item I think I would read up on 'Nar2's' reviews he really does give a good opinion on a product. So all in all I think the Dooyoo site is great, I have made friends, I can read good opinions on products, I get loads of ideas for presents for the family, I make a few bob and of course its fun. So I thank you all for an enjoyable few months and hope to be here this time next year.
Hotel Aloi ***Introduction**** My husband and I fancied a last minute deal to Crete but didn't want to pay a fortune out so I trawled the internet to try and find a bargain. I came across The Aloi Hotel in Annassarus for a good price with flights costing £460 for the two of us, this included breakfast so I was very interested. I did a quick research into the travel review sites to try and get an idea about this hotel because I have heard about some really dodgy places in Crete and didn't want to end up in a dump. They have their own web site and the photos looked lovely, I read a mixed bag of reviews and thought about the 'Moaning Minnie's' that always slate a place, you know the type, pay peanuts and expect Hilton accommodation. After carefully analysing all my information and showing my hubby the reviews etc we decided that it was looking ok so booked it two days before the flight. ***The Hotel*** Our transfer bus took us to the hotel in about fourty minutes; we had to drop other travellers at hotels on the way so we sat back and enjoyed the views. 'Hotel Despo' was the first drop off, we both had a quiet smile about that, and it was in the middle of no where, who books a place with a name like that? Then came ours, first impression was 'My God What have we come to' there was nothing around it but closed down tavernas, but there was a small shop opposite and a little restaurant, that had seen better days. Another couple got off the coach with us so we brightened up a bit at least we wouldn't be on our own in this spot. There was a bar area to the right covered in plants but it did look quite appealing, and a large glass door into the reception. ***Reception*** The first thing that we noticed was the reception desk to the right and a blonde haired lady quite scruffily dressed and looking as if her hair hadn't seen a brush in weeks. I know that this must sound harsh but it was our first impression. She welcomed us as if we were her old friends, now I took that as utter relief that she had guests but my hubby said that I was being horrible thinking that. We were given a choice of a double room or a bungalow so we opted for the bungalow believing it to have more space. The room key had a heavy brass fob on it which we soon took off I didn't fancy carrying that around for the entire weeks holiday. We went on to ask about a fridge for the room, at this point she charged us 20 Euros and then handed us a travel adapter to plug it in. We had three of these in our case all ready but that would have been slightly deceitful so we accepted it gracefully. The reception area was quite large and cool with a satellite TV that did not work apparently and a few easy chairs in one corner with a book case. There was a massage chair that took Euro coins but I didn't give it a try to see if that was in working order. On the other side of this large room was the Breakfast room it did actually have two saloon swinging doors to separate it and it looked quite quaint. A large wicker basket was on a table full of sun tan lotions half used with a hand written sign saying 'Help Yourself' obviously left in rooms by previous guests. I stuck to using my own supply but thought that it was worth a mention. ***Rooms*** There are 25 rooms at this hotel 8 doubles in the hotel main building and 17 bungalows. Our bungalow was a top storey so we had to lug our suitcases up a small flight of stone steps, there was a small wooden table outside the door that had seen better days it was rotten from the rain and hot sun it certainly would not take much weight and the main door had peeling paint and looked quite rotten as well. At this point we were not expecting very much when we entered the place itself and I could tell by my hubbys face that he was far from impressed so I did mutter a comment about him giving me a strict budget when I booked this last minute deal. It wasn't as bad as we expected to be quite honest there was a small fridge, a bathroom that wasn't five stars but it was clean, the shower was adequate and the loo was sparkling. A dressing table with a good sized mirror was on one wall and a double built in wardrobe with plenty of shelves and coat hangers to the side of it. A lockable safe was under the dresser and an air conditioning unit on the outside wall that looked fairly new. We paid 25 Euros for the safe for the week but decided to try one night without the air con first because it was five Euros a day. That was a mistake it was so hot so we tipped up 30Euros for the rest of the stay and it was worth every penny. There were two single beds placed in an L shape down two of the walls, we did have a laugh at this, it turned out not to be a problem for us though because it was so hot at night, the last thing we felt like doing was getting cosy, so we had our romance on the balcony in the evening with a glass of wine and a burning candle. A bit of a shame if newly weds had this room because the base of the beds were cement plinths and impossible to move. The balcony was small but just large enough for the table and two chairs it overlooked a scruffy back garden but when it was dark it looked quite good. The wooden rail was rotten and peeling so we made a mental note not to lean on it because it did look decidedly dodgy. The gaps between the bars were very wide so it would have been totally unsuitable for a family with small children. The floor of the balcony was not tiled the same as the inside of the room it was just crazy paving stone work and it was very dirty it really did need a good scrub. The sheets and towels were immaculate so we really had no complaints there and the towels were changed every other day. ***Restaurant and Bar*** The bar and restaurant were unusual there was no roof just loads of trellis and plants it looked quite nice really and very cool, we had a cold beer served in a frosted glass after we unpacked and it tasted divine. The prices were reasonable but looking at the menu for meals we didn't really fancy any of it, mostly curries or stews unless you stuck to cheese and ham toasties. Martin the husband did all of the cooking but I just didn't fancy anything because he was in scruffy cut offs and dirty T shirts the same as his wife, don't get me wrong they were a lovely couple they just seem to have got sloppy in their dress code. One night they did collar us to attend the weekly barbecue, apparently Martins Barbecues are fantastic not to be missed, we felt obliged because the hotel wasn't exactly full and felt that we should make an effort. One burger a leathered lamb chop and three cold roast potatoes later we were charged 12 Euros each..... Oh yes we felt well and truly robbed.....we toughened up after that.... I said earlier that breakfast was in with the price so first morning we made an effort and went down at about half nine, we thought that if we had a good one then we wouldn't need a meal until the evening. Orange squash, coffee or tea were all there to help ourselves to, glasses and cups sat on sticky trays upside down which put me off immediately, cob bread to make toast and have with butter or marmalade found in two big glass dishes, and cheap cornflakes that looked like hamster food. There was Muesli if you didn't like the look of the hamster food but there is only so much Muesli that I can take so I didn't bother with breakfast after two days. ***Pool Area and Grounds*** This was the best thing about this hotel it was lovely and clean but very deep so again not very child friendly and there were plenty of sun loungers and shaded areas if required. The hotel wasn't very busy so a lot of the time we had the pool to ourselves. The gardens around the hotel were quite shabby, the front looked quite nice and cared for but towards the back it was looking quite dishevelled. You could see that in its hey day this place had been gorgeous but I think that Gabbi and Martin the owners were trying to run everything themselves to keep their heads above water and it was just too much work for them. A part time gardener would make so much difference to this hotel. ***Comfort*** The rooms were clean, the beds reasonably comfortable, the bar area was nice and cool but I have stayed in better for comfort, but to be fair it was not a five star hotel and it was adequate for the price. ***Location and Booking Detail*** Post address: Hotel Aloi 70014 Annassarus Chersonissos Phone: +30 (28970) 22938 Fax: +30 (28970) 21010 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Children under 2 free 2-12 years half price. June - September Bungalows 25 Euros Double rooms 20 Euros this includes breakfast. If you want to book half board you can contact them direct for a quote. Ten minutes walk to the beach which was very nice, in fact one of the nicest we found in the area. ***Overall View*** I wouldn't recommend this hotel to a friend because the food was bad and the breakfast was very poor. It probably was a nice place in its day but it now needs some serious work done to bring it up to a reasonable standard. I cannot see Travel Operators advertising it as one of their holiday hotels because it is very run down. There is nothing around it for entertainment at night every where has shut down due to the three large All inclusive hotels nearby, and they wont allow people to go in even to purchase a drink. The cost of 16 Euros a night for a taxi to the old town of Hersonissos for a decent meal was quite an expense, and over seven days that is 112 Euros. Quite sad really because the owners are certainly hard workers but I think that they are flogging a dead horse, people expect more nowadays, they really need to give their hotel a face lift and improve the standards of the restaurant. Our last minute bargain turned out to be a very expensive holiday, we hired a car for a few days to get about because there was hardly anything to entertain us at this hotel and it was in the middle of no where. There was a Greek taverna down on the sea front and a small supermarket. Next time I go for a bargain I will take more time reading reviews, we wondered whether Gabby and her husband wrote the good reviews themselves!!!!!! We will never know.
Hersonissos, Crete. ****Introduction***** I have just got back from a holiday in Crete with my husband, it was our first time visiting this Greek Island and both of us agree that we would go back one day but maybe try a different area. We stayed about three miles east from the Old Town of Hersonissos in a village called Annissaras, there was very little to do there at night so we often went into the old town for a meal at night. ****Hersonissos**** It is quite a large resort on the North coast of the Island about 20 miles from Heraklion Airport so not too far to travel after a four hour flight from the UK. The Old Town of Hersonissos is quite busy with the main road going right through the middle of it but along the sea front there was a good mix of bars and 'Tavernas' they were all inviting and I have to admit that we had delicious food in every place that we tried. The one thing that particularly pleased me was the way that you could walk along the front in peace without the bar owners trying to drag you in all the time. Ok I admit it did happen occasionally but nothing like other places that I have been to, the people here seemed so much more laid back about life, if you entered their restaurant great, but they didn't go out of their way to pester you, if you did go in to sit down you were given five star treatment and every place that we tried over the seven nights all offered a shot of ouzo or a coffee on the house before they brought the bill. The port was quaint and very relaxing, boat trips were on offer at good prices and I can recommend the trip to Spinalonga Island, a leper colony up until the 1950's just off the coast from Elounda, it cost us 28 Euros each and well worth the money. I was quite taken up with this place so I won't say too much about it now because I would like to do a full review on it. The actual town itself was full of shops from gift ware to jewellery establishments, with cafes scattered in between so you were never far from a nice cold beer served in a frosted glass. There were several banks and a really good Spar Supermarket for those on self catering so all in all you had everything that you could possibly need in this resort. It also had the quieter areas either side of it, Koutouloufari and Piskopiano these were classed as villages and very beautiful with lovely beaches but the best beach that we found was actually in Annissaras where our hotel was situated. The sand was soft and golden and the beach itself was not overcrowded. If you stay outside of the old town then you become very limited for getting around, it cost us 8 Euros to get to the old town in a taxi so over the week quite an expensive outlay. There were local buses but again it was a fair walk from the sea front up to the main road so we didn't even try them. Quad bikes were a popular form of transport, and we hired one for four hours costing us 20 Euros with all the insurances, this was great fun and we were able to get a good look around the surrounding areas. It amazed me how many people were riding them without a helmet, the locals had their children perched on the backs with no protection, a bit crazy really because there are some crazy drivers in Crete and so impatient at times. Star Beach was the in place for youngsters in this resort and very popular. It was a complex offering water sports from Jet Skiing to Para Sailing and fun pools for adults and children. It was always busy because the entrance was free but you were not allowed to take in food or drink. There were numerous bars and coffee shops all expensive I might add and sun loungers every where, these cost four Euros each per day. The stretch of beach here was also golden sand and really nice so well worth a visit. There is also a large Water Park called Aqua Plus 5 klm to the west of the resort in Kastelli we didn't actually go there but quite a few people with children said that Star beach was the better option being free entrance because it cost them over 80 Euros to get in with two children and they still needed to buy drinks etc. ****Conclusion**** This resort was ok as a base there is something for every one but we would not go back there to be quite honest, after a week we felt that we had seen it all and were starting to tire of it. It is a resort for every age group, a few miles up the road in Malia the place was full of teenagers partying till dawn and sleeping till at least two in the afternoon. So if you do book a holiday to this resort take your time to study which part you want to stay in. West side is more sedate and the east going towards Stalis and Malia is more for the stag party venues.
Heraklion airport Crete. ***Introduction*** I have just come back from a holiday in Crete, it is the first time that I have visited this Greek Island and Heraklion airport was the nearest for my resort. I had read quite a few reviews mostly about the delays and dirty toilets etc. But I was pleasantly surprised at arrivals and departures; it was no where near as bad as I had been led to believe. Delays to aircraft can be for many reasons, late arriving from elsewhere seemed to be the main reason from what I saw so hardly the airport itself at fault for that. Dirty toilets? Not that I saw, in fact they were very clean both in the departure side and arrivals, but I must add here that the departure side was forever being swept and cleaned due to ignorant and lazy travellers just dropping empty coffee cups and paper wrappers instead of walking a few feet to one of many bins provided. I felt quite embarrassed when I saw a group of young English people just throwing food about and then laughing at the cleaners clearing it up after them. Of course an airport can get a bad name but it seemed to me that it was the travellers themselves abusing the facilities in this case, there was certainly enough cleaners milling about. ***The Airport*** It is a small airport on the North side of the Island and about three miles from Heraklion one of the main cities. Apparently it caters for over five million passengers a year, so it gets extremely busy during high season. There is one terminal split into departures and arrivals. A car park is just a few yards away from the terminal entrance and there are numerous car hire companies available. Taxis are in abundance just outside the terminal but it is advisable to agree a price before actually setting off; I have heard so many stories of tourists getting stung for exorbitant fares but that is normal procedure anywhere abroad. Local buses run to all resorts on a regular basis until late at night not an option that I would take personally because your hotel could be quite a walk from the main bus route so I much prefer to book a bus transfer when booking the actual holiday. There is one Information desk in the departure area and open twenty four hours a day, I found the staff most helpful when I enquired about paying for extra leg room for my return journey, the amount of people that they have to deal with in a day must be such hard work but they were cheerful and efficient. ***Arriving*** The plane landed and came to a halt quite quickly, the runway is not that long and in no time we were on a bus and being taken to the arrivals door. This took less than a minute thankfully because the sun was blazing and they did pack us in tight, but once inside it was lovely and cool with the air conditioning. I found a toilet before I went through, it was nice and clean but the hand driers were totally useless, but to be fair they did provide paper towels. Passport control was a quick walk through and onto the luggage collection area. There were screens displaying the flight numbers for the carousels and every thing was so easy to find. My case came trundling around the carousel within ten minutes, record time for me that one. I passed through a glass door and that was it a step out side and I found the transfer firm easily to get my bus to the hotel. I was impressed with the whole speed of things arriving at this airport, they certainly have things organised to get you in and on your way as quickly as possible. ***Departing*** The bus dropped me right outside the departure door and I noticed quite a lot of people queuing under a canvas area, this was groups of travellers with a holiday firm, obviously the reps were trying to control the amount of people entering the hall due to the small size of the airport. Not being a part of this I just entered the hall and found my gate number by looking at the large screen showing all departures, it was very busy but every thing was signed clearly and I soon found my check in desk. I was quite lucky because I was near the front of the queue so I only had to wait about fifteen minutes. I asked about extra leg room at the check in and they allocated me a seat then directed me to the information desk to pay for it before issuing me with my boarding card, I didn't have to queue again to get this they just handed me it straight away after the payment slip was issued. My luggage was weighed and then I put it through the x ray machine. Looking back at the departure screen I noticed a delay of one hour for my flight, it was delayed at Manchester coming out to Crete so I decided to venture back outside for an hour and enjoy the sunshine for a bit longer. There are quite a few benches to sit and relax and I soon passed an hour just watching people arriving and departing. It was amusing to see the airport police patrolling the roadside, if anyone left their car for more than a minute they jumped on them as quick as lightning pointing with frantic arms to the long stay car park just a few yards away. After spending seven days in Crete the one thing that was made clear to me was a local driver on this island does not park a car in a car park they just stop their vehicle in the middle of the road and leave it there while they chat to their friend or go into a shop. They have some funny rules these Cretan motorists because if a car with a car hire sticker on even stalls their car let alone double parks they start tooting their horn impatiently!!!!!!!!! I wandered back into the departure door to make my way to passport control; I did notice a stationery shop and a cafe but decided to wait until I got to the other side. I went through quickly after being frisked and my handbag searched, I always set the alarm off don't know why but I was not complaining security is very strict at this airport so quite happy about that. The departure lounge was heaving with people due to another flight as well as mine being delayed but there was two cafe areas to grab a coffee and I soon found a seat. The coffee cost me 3.50 Euros and it was lousy so I only had a few sips before finding a bin. Upstairs had a very large duty free shop but I didn't find any bargains everything was a bit expensive but nice to browse around. The one thing that did surprise me was a smoking area right outside the duty free shop it was also the viewing gallery to watch planes landing and taking off. Travellers having their final puff before boarding was filling the air with thick smoke, not the best spot to put it but I believe that has now stopped due to the smoking ban in public places coming into force on the 1st of July 09. A quick walk around to find a paper and magazine for my journey was fruitless there is nothing after passport control except the two coffee bars and the duty free shop. A bit unusual so I will make sure that I buy before passport control on my next visit. My flight came up for boarding and once again I was on a bus and taken to the plane within a minute, my holiday finally over. ***Conclusion*** A small airport having to deal with a vast amount of people, it was very overcrowded in the departure lounge, and cleaning was being done all the time but as I said previously some travellers have no manners what so ever, maybe a few of the airport police walking around in the lounge might deter people from acting this way, but on the whole I thought this airport was run very efficiently, and I look forward to my next holiday in Crete.
****INTRODUCTION**** I had the pleasure of visiting the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway a few weeks ago when my sister came to stay with her two small children. I live quite near to it and have passed it numerous times but had never thought about having a day out on it, in fact I always had the impression that it was a children's outing so I was quite impressed when I arrived with two very excited kids in tow because they were going to see Thomas The Tank Engine. **** LAKESIDE AND HAVERTHWAITE RAILWAY**** It Is the only remaining standard gauged railway line in the Lake District and steam engines operate between Haverthwaite and Lakeside travelling through the Levens Valley to link up to a steamer boat on Lake Windermere. Lakeside itself is right on the southern tip of the lake and you have a choice of going to Bowness or further on to Ambleside. ****HAVERTHWAITE STATON**** There is a large car park at the station and I was surprised just how many cars were actually there, I was feeling a wee bit apprehensive at this point thinking that the place would be packed to the rafters but when we actually walked up to the ticket office on the station it was quite peaceful and 'oldie worldy' looking. There were a few people sitting outside the cafe and others just milling about waiting for the next train. When I saw the time table I realised that this was a full day out and obviously most of the occupants of the cars were now either in Ambleside or Bowness enjoying the sights before their return boat and train trip later in the day. We had to decide whether we just wanted to take the train to Lakeside and visit the Sea World Centre or go on the boat as well so after working out how much time we would have to catch the last train back again we agreed to go as far as Bowness. This took us about fifteen minutes to work out studying the time table and the kids were getting restless by this time because we had promised them Thomas the Tank so we then took a walk along the platform to the Engine Shed. Thomas was there but he was not going out that day but they really did not care just being able to touch him was fantastic for them. This engine shed is interesting for adults and children alike and I was very impressed with the appearance of all the trains, apparently the Railway has a volunteer group that they call 'The Wednesday Club' the members of this are all voluntary workers who give up some of their spare time to help look after the engines, keep the platform looking smart with a paint brush and of course to tend the flowers, they even work a few hours in the cafe or shop. It is nice to hear of people helping out to keep this lovely railway line operational and it brings so much pleasure to so many families. The platform itself is very attractive with pots and planters full of colourful flowers it was nothing like waiting on a normal station platform, there was peace in the air and no tannoy going off every two minutes. The gift shop was a wee bit pricey but nice to browse around. The cafe was large and I noticed that there was a good choice of home cooked recipes on the menu, tables and chairs were set outside and we enjoyed a large cup of frothy coffee and a muffin while the kids tucked into an ice cream cone while we waited for the train to arrive. I heard the whistle before I saw it and as it emerged from a tunnel it chugged into the station, I couldn't help feeling a twinge of excitement; it was a grand site seeing it proudly bellowing out smoke and gently coming to a stop. We found a seat and settled down to enjoy the journey to Lakeside as I looked around I noted that the carriage was in prestige condition and highly polished, the seats were exactly like the ones on old double decker buses not very comfortable but adequate for the journey. As we set off the engine spouted out steam and whistled before it entered the tunnel much to the kids delight and we all settled down to take in the scenery. People walking along the bank of the River Leven waved as the train passed and you could see the pleasure in their faces as they admired the wonderful sight of this magnificent steam engine. The journey took about twenty minutes, sadly not long enough for me but the kids were now getting excited about the pending trip on the boat and as we alighted the train we walked a few yards to the boat moorings at Lakeside. We had a fifteen minute wait for our boat to Bowness but there was plenty to amuse us with the coming and going of other boats and the gift shop and cafe. The trip itself took just under an hour and we spent most of our time on the top deck just taking in the view of this wonderful Lake. There was a bar on board in the lounge deck and comfortable seats if you wanted to relax and of course toilet facilities which I must add were very clean. When we arrived at Bowness the sun was shining and it was great just to have a wander on the lake front watching the boats. My sister bought some duck food from one of the kiosks and the kids loved it but unfortunately there were a couple of swans mingling amongst them and not my favourite creature as beautiful as they are so I took a break and had a look around one of the many gift shops. The highlight of the day in Bowness was a visit to 'The World Of Beatrix Potter' it was a short walk from the boating jetty and cost £6.00 for us each and £3.00 for the kids, we spent a good hour in there but I wont go into too much detail in this review. Our return trip on the boat was a little bit quieter than the outgoing journey, the kids were shattered so we sat in the lounge for the entire trip but when we caught the train back to our car in Haverthwaite they seemed to regain a bit of energy. ****LOCATION**** Haverthwaite is just outside Newby Bridge in Cumbria. If you come off the M6 at junction 36 Newby Bridge is well signposted and takes just over half an hour, the station itself is on the right just as you leave Newby Bridge. Haverthwaite Station Nr Ulverston Cumbria LA12 8AL Tel; 015395 31594 http://www.lakesiderailway.co.uk ****OPENING TIMES AND PRICES**** The railway is not open all year round but starts up the first weekend in April until the end of October. Prices are reasonable for a full day out for the family: Trains to Lakeside return: £5.70 adult - £2.85 children Family tickets 15.50 for two adults and up to three children between five and fifteen. To take the steamer on to Bowness: Adults £13.50 - Children £7.20 Family rates - £37.20 To take the steamer on to Ambleside: Adults £18.70 - Children-£9.35 Family rate: £52.00 Group rates are available by contacting the booking office in advance. ****MY OPINION**** This is a great day out for the family and I think that all children should be given the opportunity of experiencing a trip on a steam train it is something that they will remember for years to come. Special Thomas the tank weekends are held twice a year but it is best to book in advance because it gets very busy and the last thing you want is to promise your child a trip on this much loved engine and find you have to let them down, but whatever time you go they will still get the chance to see it resting up in the engine shed. The prices are very reasonable when you take into consideration that you are travelling on not just a steam engine but you are also getting a boat trip to a beautiful place in our lake district. This trip is suitable for wheelchair users because there is a ramp to aid you onto the train and boat and dogs are alSo welcomed as I noticed the quaint sign at the railway ticket office Quoting "All Well Behaved Dogs Welcome" I can highly recommend this day out even for adults it is well worth a visit to Newby Bridge if you are in the area.
Argos I often use Argos on line because I find it such an easy way to shop, you choose your item, pay for it and then have it delivered. It is an ideal shopping experience especially when it comes to larger items or even your entire Christmas present list for family and friends. It is not a shopping site just for home delivery it has a lot more to offer. http://www.argos.co.uk The site itself is very easy to navigate and once you have logged on to the home page you can click onto the department that you want to browse for example home furnishings or photography to toys and games etc. There are over 20,000 products to choose from and the prices are very competitive with other retailers. ***Check and Reserve.*** This is great for sourcing your product and then collecting from your local store. After selecting the product and adding it to your shopping trolley you are then given the option to 'reserve for store pick up' after adding your post code it will then display if the item is actually in stock at your local store if not it will offer to order it for you and after furnishing them with your email address they will send you the reservation number. This information can also be sent by text to your mobile if you prefer at no cost to you. I found this particular facility ideal when I was trying to get hold of a Hannah Montana key board for my niece's birthday, it falls five days before Christmas and I could not get one any where, it must have been on every little girl's wish list. Argos came up trumps and there was one ready in store three days after ordering, now that's what I call excellent customer service. ***Home delivery*** The charge for this is £5.80 no matter how many items you order but if you opt for a Saturday delivery then the charge goes up slightly to £8.70. Next day delivery is offered on small items if the order is placed before 1.oopm but for larger items it can take up to a month depending on what it is. I actually ordered an oven and I received an e-mail to say that it would be with me in four weeks time, I agreed to wait but unfortunately after three weeks they phoned to say that they could no longer honour the order because that particular oven was no longer available. I was a bit cross at the time because they waited so long before letting me down but it was beyond their control and I was offered an alternative so I really could not complain. To be fair to Argos though, I ordered a king size mattress on the 12th of this month and my e-mail said that I would be contacted by the 25th to make arrangements for a delivery but I actually received a phone call the following day to say that it could be delivered on the 18th between 7.00am and 12.00. The van driver phoned to say that he was an hour away and by nine o'clock it was here. The delivery men were great they wiped their feet at the door even though they were lugging a huge mattress and took it straight upstairs to the bedroom. ***Buying Guides*** This facility is great for getting the correct information about a product before buying. I used it before choosing my mattress. It gave me all the details about sprung and memory foam types and why pocket sprung mattresses are the most popular for comfort, I wanted as much information as possible because it is a big purchase and your bed has to be comfortable so it was invaluable to me. I have had a good look around the various buying guides and I noticed that baby car safety seats has a lot of valuable information for a customer and the children's toy guide is set out really well and worth reading. ***Store Cards*** These are easy to apply for on line with an instant decision but beware how you use them the interest rates are very high at 27.9%APR. and it is so easy to go a little bit mad and then struggle to pay it off. I have one but I only use it for large items or a big shop at Christmas because you can buy now and pay in nine months, so I set up a regular direct debit to pay the amount off before the time expires avoiding interest rates. Occasionally you get money off vouchers and special offers so it is very handy if used sensibly. ***Returns and Refunds**** Argos offer a 30 day refund policy on their products as long as they are returned in their original packaging apart from dental products, earrings and foot spas for obvious hygiene reasons, and I have noticed that they will not give a refund on certain recording equipment unless it is faulty, but they mark a little cross next to the product code of non refundable items so that you are well aware of their policy. If you lose your receipt but can provide an order number for proof of purchase then they will refund with vouchers, so all in all I think they offer a good returns policy. ***Overall Opinion*** This is a great site for shopping, everything is guaranteed and the prices are good. The mattress that I bought cost me £360.24 delivered within the week, the same mattress in a well known bed store was 529.99 and I would have had to wait for 30 days, so I certainly saved a lot of money and received prompt delivery. I always compare prices with Argos and they nearly always offer the best price, so I will definitely buy from them again using the online facility because they have so much choice and their service is great.
I like to use mascara every day actually I wouldn't go out of the house without applying it because I am a bit vain that way. I have tried so many different types and I am always on the look out for a good quality that lengthens and thickens my lashes. Dr Hauschka skin care volumizing mascara was recommended to me by one of my customers in the salon so I thought that I would give it a try. I bought it from a company called Bella Donna on the internet because their price was reasonable £14.00 for a 10 ml size. http://www.bella-donna./ I bought the black shade but I noticed that they did also offer shades of blue, brown and aubergine. My first impression was that I liked the shape of the application brush it had a slight curve to it making it easier to use and then there was the texture of the actual mascara it was not too thick and sticky and not runny either the effect on my eye lashes was great. It thickened and lengthened them without clogging them together; I had actually found a mascara that impressed me. Reading the box I noticed that it contained beeswax, Candalilla and rose wax, and it claimed to be kind to the eyes. I have been using it for two months now with no problems what so ever but I did find that applying a second coat made my lashes really thick great for an evening out but not very practical for day time wear. I highly recommend this product and the price is excellent value for money.
Morecambe is a seaside town in Lancashire on the Northwest coast line. It has taken some criticism over the last fifteen years or so for being tatty and run down. When I was a child it was a lovely place to go and I have fond memories of playing on the beach and visits to Frontier land amusement park. Alas it has changed drastically since those happy days and yes it has lost its appeal for a lot of people but I feel that the town is not being given a chance, so my review is going to be about the good things to be found there. History: Originally there were three villages Poulton, Torrisholme and Bare, a railway line was built in 1848 linking them to Yorkshire and this made the area far more accessible to people eventually they merged to become a popular holiday town called Morecambe. By the mid 1980's The town had started to go down hill people wanted the overseas holidays and due to the loss in tourism the whole place seemed to grind to a halt. But now things seem to be picking up in this seaside haven a lot of work has been put into the seafront and larger shops have opened up in the last couple of years. The Promenade: The sea front is five miles long believe it or not and Morecambe bay is the largest sea estuary in the UK. Over the years the sea walls have taken a hammering from gales and storms so the local council had to make a decision about protecting the sea front. With a government grant 'The Tern Project' was born and after rebuilding the seafront Morecambe can be proud of its attractive Promenade with sculptures of Terns placed all along the front. Happy Mount Park: This is a large very well kept park on the Eastern end of the promenade; it opened in 1921 and is a popular place for families in the summer months. The children can enjoy the water play area and pirate world indoor play area as well as a round of crazy golf. There is a café that has a varied menu, and for adults you can enjoy a game of tennis or have a dabble on the Bowling Green. I was impressed with this park and I thought the flower beds were exquisite and so well kept, I take my hat off to Morecambe they have got a fantastic park for everyone to enjoy. The Winter gardens: These are on the front of the promenade and are better known for being called The Victoria Pavillion Theatre. The building itself is very regal looking and the outside was lovingly restored to its former glory in the 1990's. At the moment the inside is being renovated by a Charity called 'Friends of the Victoria Pavillion'it is a big task that they have taken on and they rely on donations and fund raising to achieve their final goal of turning it into an entertainments centre and theatrical school, they intend to re name it after Thora Hird the actress. I did go into the main foyer to see just how much work had been done; a table top sale was on at the time. It is a remarkable building but it is clearly a large task to complete but how wonderful it will look when it is finished. The Midland Hotel: This is a large hotel built right on the sea front and for years it was empty and an eye sore for the town but now it has been renovated and open for business. There is a large car park and when you first step into the place you are taken back in awe. The reception area is huge, every thing looks bright and shiny and the whole place has that Art Deco style. You don't have to stay here to enjoy this hotel it is a lovely place to just call into for a meal or coffee, the terrace lounge at the back looks out onto the bay and the whole atmosphere of the place is stunning. Eric Morecambe Statue: This bronze life size statue stands on the promenade and Eric is posing with his arm up and leg cocked, the ornate steps leading up to it has 'Bring Me Sunshine' carved into them, I was actually surprised just how short he was, but it is a lovely site and the people of Morecambe were over the moon when the Queen herself actually unveiled it in 1999. Leisure facilities: There is a large bowling alley with twenty lanes and a four screened cinema just off the front with a bar and restaurant so something for everyone to enjoy. Shopping: The main shopping area is the Arndale Centre in the actual town, it is not a huge place but I believe there are plans to build this up but there is a great indoor market behind the Promenade and opposite a retail park with Morrissons, Next, and a large Home improvement store. Places of Interest nearby to Visit. Heysham is only a stones throw away and has wonderful sand dunes and of course Half Moon bay, this is a lovely little beach and not too overcrowded. Above this bay on the cliff tops is the ruins of St Patrick's Chapel, it is one of the oldest religious buildings in Lancashire dating back to the 8th century so worth a quick visit you can see the stone coffins minus the occupants now of course but very interesting non the less. The Lake District is on the door step and one of my favourite places Carnforth. This town is a delightful place to visit with its book and antique shops and quaint little cafes and bistros. There is certainly enough to entertain you for a few hours and then a walk along the canal tow path can be a relaxing experience. Overall View: Morecambe has a long way to go I admit, but it certainly is not a dump as so many people think. A lot of work has been put into it over the last few years and it desperately needs the tourists to come again, so if you are in the area why not stop by and take a look, it is striving to regain its popularity and the improvements up to now are a credit to the town. There is one thing that the town has changed that I think is a mistake and that is the railway station. It was a wonderful old building with character and as a child I used to be mesmerised with the birds flying around in the roof, it has now been renovated and turned into a family fun pub and a new open air modern railway station has been built away from the promenade itself. I realize that the station had to be moved to make way for the facelift but the old building has lost its heart. How to get there: By Road take junction 33 off the M6 and just follow the sign posts and if you are travelling by train the connections from Main line Lancaster are every half an hour during the Summer Months.
I called into my local chemist the other day to have a prescription made up and as usual I had gone at the wrong time. It was so busy I had a fifteen minute wait. I don't know about you but the one thing that really makes me uncomfortable is standing in a chemist with a load of people coughing and spluttering with various ailments all waiting for medicine, and why is it that mine always seems to take longer than other people in the queue? I started to do the usual slow browse around the shop passing babies nappies and soothers attached to cards etc. Cough mixtures and elastic stockings, I was getting a bit bored and only five minutes had passed. Oh this place really needs a face lift it has had the same stock in for years, and yes the ladies gift sets are on display Lavender water with talc, Black Rose Soap in a pack of two, who actually buys this stuff? Ten minutes gone and no sign of my medicine as yet, and then I noticed 'Sale Basket' now that is more like, it if there is one thing that cheers me up no end it is rummaging through a basket full of bargains. Bottles of hair conditioner, toothbrushes, and the usual hideous coloured eye shadow pallets and then I saw what I first thought was a mascara but on closer inspection found it to be a French manicure pen by Manicare. I have heard of these before and knew that they usually cost about 4.99, sale price was 2.99 so I considered it a bargain, just as I walked back to the counter to purchase my snip my medicine was ready so I left the chemist not feeling as fed up as I did when I first entered the place. I took the manicure pen into the salon where I work so that I could try it out on my colleague; she always has her nails French Manicured using an air brush so I thought that it would be interesting to compare a salon treatment to something that can be done at home. The pen itself has a silver barrel with a glass phial on each end one with white paint in and the other a soft pink shade of varnish. Smiley line stickers are provided in the box to help you to get a perfect white tip, but to be quite honest I didn't bother to use them because they always end up smudging the white paint. Before I applied the white paint to the tip of the nail I made sure that the nails were clean and grease free. The tip of the wand for the white paint resembles a felt tip pen so maneuvering it across the nail to get the correct shape was relatively easy but I found that I had to apply three coats in all to get a good even lay, I made a mistake of doing the second coat before the paint was dry and it just lifted and went very tacky so make sure that each coat is perfectly dry. The pink overlay varnish has a brush that in my opinion is not up to the job because it was far too narrow and very difficult to get an even stroke down the nail but with a bit of perseverance I got there in the end. This procedure only needed one coat because when I tried two it seemed to over power the white tip. I also found the overall sheen a bit drab so I applied a clear top coat of nail varnish to finish it off. Lasting effect: I purposely left two nails with no additional clear top coat so that I could see just how good this product was on its own and found that those two nails chipped within twenty four hours but the rest looked good for a week. Conclusion: Not a bad product to apply a French manicure at home, the white tip applicator was great for getting a perfect shape but the pink over lay varnish was too pink for my taste and lacked luster. A separate clear top coat is needed to seal this product because it chips so easily. I doubt if I would buy it again but for a quick home treatment it is worth a try.