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As anyone who rides will know a decent pair of riding boots are essential. When I first started learning my parents bought me these, Dublin universal tall boots and even now, although I tend to favour the short boots for various reasons I still own a pair of these Dublin boots that come out in wet weather or for shows. The Boots ~~~~~~ The boots themselves are made from black moulded PVC, the inner lining is polyester jersey. The lining is designed to absorb moisture in order to keep your feet and legs dry and the PVC is completely waterproof so that in wet weather or when using a hose your feet and legs stay completely dry. There is also a small wedge on the back of each boot to fit spurs to and a very small heel in order to stop your foot slipping through the stirrup. Also, although the outing is PVC it is designed to look like leather and I would say that this is effective. Although black is the only colour the PVC comes in I do believe you can get the lining in different colours, mine is a fairly dark green. My Experience ~~~~~~~~~ Just like any other shoe the first time you wear these they need wearing in. Initially they're quite stiff and hard to move around in, I found it especially hard to bend my ankle upwards, though not so much down. For this reason I do suggest wearing them in a bit first before using them to ride in. To combat this problem I wore the boots for general yard work for about an hour and found this enough to soften the boots enough to give me a good enough range of movement to allow me to ride. The boots themselves feel very comfortable once on and I do agree that they wick away moisture, even when working in the 30degree heat recently I found that my legs and feet remained dry and relatively cool considering the heat. The grip on the bottom of the boot is enough to both keep my feet in place in the stirrup and give enough grip when working around the yard. I can't however comment on the effect of the heel as my horses have safety stirrups and so the stirrup snaps preventing my foot getting caught anyway. Similarly, my horses are quite forward going and therefore I have no need for spurs so I can't comment on the effectiveness of the rest for this. These boots come in both child and adult sizes. Child sizes range between 9 (27) and 5 (38), adult sizes range between 4 (37) and 10 (45). Between sizes 4 and 7 Dublin also offer wide and wide/short fittings. My feet are a size 8 and a half but I have a size 8 boot due to the lack of half sizes, initially these felt a bit small but as they wore in I have no concerns around the fit so I'd suggest going down a size if you also fit a half size, just be aware that they will take some wearing in for them not to feel tight. Height wise I've found these to be a perfect fit with the outside of the boot stretching just above my knee, the inside of the boot resting slightly below my knee. I've found that despite this fit it doesn't restrict movement in my knee itself at all. The only real problem I have found with these is that because of the stiffness and lack of bend around the ankle they can be quite difficult to take off. This does get easier as the boots wear in more but even after years of use I still find I have to pull quite hard to get them off. Finally, and probably most importantly, they are incredibly easy to clean. Even after years of use mine still have a shine to them and when they inevitably become covered in mud and other muck a quick wipe down with a bit of water is all they need to come up clean, since I keep my boots up at the yard I tend to just rinse them off with the hose before I leave and they don't really need much more. On this note, I have also found them to be completely waterproof I've never had any water leak through the seams or over the top. Price, Availability And Recommendation ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I bought my boots from a local tack store for £19.99. These boots are widely available and prices do vary but expect to pay roughly between £20 and £30. I'm giving these 4 out of 5, losing a star due to their stiffness. That said, this could also be seen as an advantage as I know for me, when I was first learning to ride this did help me maintain a correct lower leg position when riding. Therefore I am recommending these to any rider but especially to children or those who may be new to riding.
I have always thought of limeade as a drink for children, it was certainly a drink I often chose as a child. However, my mum apparently has different ideas as after shopping for her birthday she came home with a bottle of this - ASDAs sugar free limeade. Knowing better then to ask I let it go. However, when the bottle was still sat there several months later I thought it was probably about time it got opened. I assume the picture Dooyoo have is an old one as after checking their website this limeade appears to be the only store branded one they sell. The Drink ~~~~~~ ASDA describe this as a "carbonated lime flavour drink" no surprises there then. They also say that there are no artificial colours or flavours, which is interesting as whilst I believe this (and the ingredients confirm it) it doesn't contain lime. Id have thought that a lime flavoured drink, if it didn't contain artificial flavours, would contain lime but apparently not! Anyway, the drink is a bright, transparent yellowy-green in colour. I can see how this would appeal to children as it is quite unusual and quite bright compared to other drinks however as an adult, the shade is almost off-putting which is probably why its sat there so long! The Taste ~~~~~~ Not technically to do with the taste but deserves a mention. ASDA aren't kidding when they say this is a carbonated drink. I poured maybe two sips into a cup for the purpose of this review and it bubbled up to fill half the cup so should be poured slowly when serving. I've poured it into a white cup and against such a light background the colour has lost it's green tinge and instead appears to be an almost fluorescent yellow. Again, very appealing to a child not so much for an adult. The taste actually isn't as bad as the experiences up until now had let me to believe. The bubbles quickly settle to a drink that is only lightly carbonated. This may be due to the fact the bottle has sat there so long but I shouldn't have thought this would affect it and there was a lot of bubbles when first poured. There is a slightly lemony-lime flavour, I wouldn't say it was all lime but it is definitely citrussy with lime being the dominant taste and almost overpowering the others. It's a very refreshing drink that would be well suited to a summer evening. There is however an aspartame after taste that lingers for a little while. Would I buy it again? Probably not, but not because I particularly dislike it I'm just not a fan of the taste of sweeteners and this is a bit too noticeable here for me. However, if this is something that isn't likely to bother you then I would recommend it, especially over summer and I can see this drink appealing to both adults and children. Nutrition Information ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Per 250ml serving: Energy: 12KJ/3kcal Carbohydrates: 0.1g of which sugars: 0.1g Fat: Nil Sodium: Trace equivalent as salt: 0.1g So it's not an unhealthy drink either, I wouldn't classify any fizzy drink as 'healthy' but this is definitely one of the better ones. Other Information ~~~~~~~~~~~ The bottle is recyclable, the lid is recyclable in some areas so check local recycling schemes. ASDA also funds research into alternatives to animal testing. This is a chosen by you product and as such is subject to the ASDA guarantee. If you are not 100% happy with the product then return it to the store and they will refund you. Price, Availability And Recommendation ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Being an ASDA product this is only available from them. A 2litre bottle will set you back 47p or you can buy 4 bottles (of various ASDA fizzy drinks) for £1.50. Would I recommend it? Well, to children yes. The lack of sugar makes this a relatively 'safe' treat for them when compared to certain others such as coke. I wouldn't however recommend it as a daily drink purely because it is carbonated and fizzy drinks aren't exactly the healthiest drinks going. For adults? I would also recommend it, it's a lovely refreshing drink that would be really nice on a warm summers evening. I can also see it working as a mixer which might be what my mum had in mind when she bought it. However, the aspartame aftertaste is offputting for me so it is worth bearing this in mind. Due to this it's only getting 4 out of 5 stars as otherwise it's a really nice drink.
As far as I'm concerned there is nothing quite like fresh, homemade bread, especially while it's still warm. However I haven't got the time, inclination or patience to make it by hand. Therefore, when my dad told me that he was going to throw his breadmaker away I immediately asked if I could have it and home with me it came. As this was a hand me down I'm not entirely sure what comes with it when you buy it new. I'm sure there will be instructions and reading other reviews there's also a recipe book. However I've found this no problem at all to use even without any of these. The Breadmaker ~~~~~~~~~~ The bread maker itself is a fairly large machine capable of making loaves up to 2lb. My one is white which I believe is the older style, however Argos are selling what appears to be the same machine in stainless steel and black - honestly, I think that one looks better. There are 12 different settings ranging from basic bread to jam. (I never knew you could make jam in a bread maker!) You can change the crust colour between light, medium and dark and the size of the loaf between 1.5lb and 2lb. On the front of the breadmaker there are also several different buttons enabling you to change all the settings so that you get the exact bread you want. These buttons are time + and -, menu, colour, start/stop and loaf size. I will discuss these later in the review. Both the buttons and LCD display which tells you how long you have left until your loaf is ready are rather large and easy to see, even without my contacts. However, the actual printed menu itself is small and can be difficult to see. On the lid there is also a viewing window allowing you to see through to check on your bread as it cooks. There is also a plastic handle that folds back over the machine when not in use but comes in very handy when moving the breadmaker as it is a rather large, heavy piece of equipment! My Experience ~~~~~~~~~ I've found this breadmaker to be exceptionally easy to use even without any instructions. I found plenty of recipes online to get me started and now I just use a basic recipe and add alternative ingredients depending on my mood at the time. When I was first starting out I read that you should always add liquids first, then flour and yeast last so that is now how I use the machine and I've never had any problems with this. Although there is a fast bake and ultra fast bake option I wouldn't bother with these, the bread comes out hard and only really suitable for making toast with (and hard toast at that), it's almost pointless anyway as there is also a delay start which means you can set the machine up so it will run later and have a freshly baked loaf ready for you either first thing in the morning or when you come home from work depending on your preference. When I use this I remove the bread pan from the maker and this is easily done by twisting it 45degrees anti-clockwise to unlock it and then lifting it up. I do this quite simply because there's a little bit of a gap between the pan and the sides of the maker, this can make it slightly more difficult to clean if any ingredients work their way down there as they get under and around the heating element. The bread pan also has a handle which folds down over the top when not in use so lifting it in and out the machine isn't a problem - even when full. As I stated earlier I first start by putting the liquids in (usually water and olive oil), then flour followed by any other ingredients I need and the yeast till last. The only exception to this rule is when making sweet bread but I will discuss this later. After I've added in the ingredients I then replace the bread pan and click it into place. You can feel it click in but you'll also know if it's not placed correctly as the bread maker won't start if it's not in place properly. I then select the type of bread, loaf size and colour before pressing start. (My personal preferences are medium crust and 2lb loaf size) When the machine has finished it beeps to tell you that the bread is done, after this the bread is easy to remove, although it is worth noting that both the bread pan and it's handle are metal so use oven gloves else you'll end up burnt! The kneading knives stand upright in the pan after they have finished kneading which leaves a small hole in the bottom of the bread, however this only affects the bottom two slices so doesn't cause too much of a problem. I have never bothered greasing the bread pan and never found the need, the bread has always slid straight out and if it does stick a sharp tap on the bottom of the pan is all it takes to remove it. The finished bread is always soft, light and airy. It's also extremely easy to cut and the size of the pan means the finished bread is about the right size to fit in a food bag so it can be stored in the fridge and kept longer. The interesting thing I've found with this bread is that the loaves I bought from the stores only really used to last about a week and if left open the end would go hard. I've never had this problem with bread coming from this machine, even when left open the bread remains soft and although the bread is usually gone within a couple of days on one occasion it was left for almost two weeks and showed no signs of going old or mouldy. I get my yeast free from ASDA's bakery department and so each 2lb loaf of bread costs me around 20 pence. The preparation time for the bread is only around 5-10 minutes, cooking time is approximately 3 hours depending on the setting and size of loaf but you can ignore it and let it get on with it during the cooking time. The only time I check on it is when the "add in" beep sounds, this signals the last round of kneading and allows me to check if it's the right consistency or if I need to add any more flour or water/milk. Other then this I just leave it until it's finished. After use the machine is easy to clean, the pan is non-stick and since I remove it before adding ingredients nothing works its way inside the machine itself so a quick wipe over is all it needs. There are only three real complaints I have with this, if you can even really call them a complaint. The power lead is around 1metre (at a guess) so not very long, now this isn't really a problem if your kitchen sides are clear but having a small kitchen means many things need to be stored on the sides and it can be hard for me to find a place to put it when in use so that it's close enough to a socket. Also, after it's finished making a loaf the breadmaker needs around an hour with the lid open to cool down before making another. This isn't usually a problem as you're only likely to make one loaf at a time however, on one occasion I made bread for a party, this disappeared a lot quicker then I expected and so needed to make another loaf. This caused a problem as the machine hadn't completely cooled down and so refused to switch on for the second. Finally, although there is a viewing window I find this very hard to see through unless the bread is close to the top. However, since I only check on it at the add in beep this isn't a problem as I can open the lid without affecting the way the bread comes out. When kneading this does make a fair bit of noise, however nothing that drowns out the TV and it definitely doesn't wake us up when set to run over night. Equally, the add in and finished beep is loud enough to ensure you'll hear it if you're awake but won't wake you up if it's running overnight. Finally, it is worth noting that I have also used this for plain dough in order to use this for a pizza base and although it isn't that difficult to make it by hand really it does save time and the dough comes out perfectly well leaving me to just shape and finish it off. I have also used it for cakes and although the taste is okay, the texture is harder then those made by hands and the fact that the bread pan stands upright makes for an odd shaped cake so I'd stick to doing these by hand. Good Recipes ~~~~~~~~ I have two recipes that have proved to be favourites with many people. Cheese And Onion: 320ml of room temperature water 80ml olive oil (do not substitute, it doesn't work with any oil except olive) 480grams bread flour (either white or brown depending on preference) 10grams salt 30grams white sugar 200grams of cheddar cheese cut into small chunks 1 small red onion finally chopped 1 clove of garlic finally chopped 3 teaspoons fresh yeast or 1 sachet dried. Add the ingredients in the order listed above, set the machine to a 2lb loaf, medium crust and let it run. This has around 15 minutes preparation time and almost a 3 hour cooking time. The onion is still visible throughout the bread including on the crust but is well spaced throughout however both the garlic and cheese have been well chopped and integrated into the bread so that neither of these is particularly noticeable they just give the bread a hint of flavour throughout. This bread isn't particularly suited to sandwiches as it's got quite a strong flavour in itself, however it works well as croutons in soup or even just eaten plain. I have it with butter but I've also had people say that it tastes just as nice without. It also goes well with a bit of cheese as this compliments the cheese in the bread. (For plain bread use this recipe minus the cheese, garlic and onion and follow instructions above) Cinnamon And Raisin: 220ml milk 30grams unsalted butter 360grams white bread flour 40grams white sugar 15grams salt 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 3 teaspoons live yeast or 1 sachet dried. A handful of raisins. Add the ingredients in the order listed above up to the yeast, set the breadmaker to a light crust, sweet bread setting and 2lb loaf. This has a preparation time of 5 minutes and around 2 hours 40 minutes cook time. Around 30-40 minutes into cooking the add in beep will sound, this is when you should add the raisins. You could add them at the beginning (before the yeast) but the amount of kneading just turns them to mush and you don't get the same effect. Unsurprisingly this is a sweet bread and as such is only really suitable for puddings. It does however work exceptionally well in bread pudding, on it's own with butter or even just toasted with jam. Price, Availability And Recommendation ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ As I said, I can't find this colour available for sale anymore, however the stainless steel and black one for sale in Argos does appear to be the same just with different colouring. This costs £39.99 and although I have had some minor niggles with it these really are only small problems. I've never bought store bread since having this and the variety of flavours combined with the fact that I know exactly what's going into the bread makes this a winner for me. The bread itself is also exceptionally soft and tasty - I've even had requests from others to make bread for them. Therefore I'm giving it the full 5 out of 5 and highly recommending it.
I have an issue when it comes to soap. I don't like soap bars because of the thought of all those germs collecting on them and soap pumps, although you wash your hands after touching them, still have a collection of germs on the top of them. Yes ok, you're going to clean your hands and get rid of the germs anyway but why touch them when you don't have to? The Product ~~~~~~~~ The idea behind this product is that you can wash your hands "hands free" and therefore avoid touching "germy soap pumps". The pump itself is white in colour and shaped so that it's slightly thinner in the middle then at the bottom or top. I have this in my kitchen and honestly, unless you have a big bathroom this is probably the only place it would look right as it stands 18cm tall with a refill fitted and so I think it would look out of place in a bathroom. The pump itself has a sensor on the front and low battery indicator, on the back there is an eject button for the refill and an on/off switch. Out The Box ~~~~~~~~ The packaging it comes in is that really annoying vacuum packed plastic that is nothing short of impossible to get into. Once you do (eventually!) manage to get in you find 4AA batteries, a refill (either cucumber or green tea and ginger depending on pack chosen) you also get the dispenser itself. Putting it all together is simple, the batteries come in a cardboard box so there's none of this faffing around trying to get them out of plastic. The battery compartment on the underside of the dispenser is easy to open and the polarities printed in a way that makes them easy to see. I did find it a little tricky to close the battery door, in that it took a little more force then I'd expected and I was concerned that it might break but this could just be me. The refill itself has a tamper proof sticker on the bottom which proved easy to tear off and the refill slotted easily into the back of the machine. My Experience ~~~~~~~~~ The first time you use this you need to trigger the dispenser several times before any hand wash will actually dispense. I assume this is because the wash needs to work its way through the system. Whatever the reason I needed to do this 5-6 times from what I remember and after this initial set-up I have had no problem with it dispensing the wash. Dettol claim that this dispenses just the right amount needed, this is probably true for an adult. I have, what I consider to be, fairly small hands and find that it dispenses the right amount for me. That said, it also foams up incredibly well and so I can't see that there would be any problems with the wash covering someone with large hands. However, for a child I do think that there would be too much for their hands. Whilst this isn't a major problem it will mean a little wastage each time. It's also worth noting here that every time it dispenses the hand wash it does make a small whirring sound. This isn't particularly noticeable and I've gotten so used to it I don't really hear it anymore. However, it is there so deserves a mention. The dispenser itself has a window in the front of it allowing you to see how much of the hand wash is remaining. This allows you time to buy a refill before you run out. In regards to the actual use you simply need to hold your hand a little way below the actual dispenser itself and wait for it to dispense the wash. Again, as an adult I've had no problems using this however I do have to wonder how effective it will be with a child. It's not exactly easy to get children to wash their hands in the first place and using this involves holding your hand still in a certain place and waiting for it to dispense. Maybe it's because I'm doing less (I.e. Not pressing a pump) but it does seem to dispense slower then other washes and I can't help but wonder if a child would have either the inclination or patience to wait. Cleaning wise, this proves to be no problem. Simply make sure the switch at the back is turned off (otherwise you'll get hand wash everywhere!) and wipe over with a damp cloth ensuring that you turn it back on afterwards. The batteries also last a long time, I've had mine around a year and it's still going strong. There is however an indicator light that will flash to warn you when they are running low. Refills ~~~~ There are three refills available: cucumber, green tea and ginger or grapefruit. The grapefruit is only available as a refill and does not come with a dispenser. They always seem to clean my hands well, Dettol claim that they kill 99.9% of germs. They also all lather up well and feel very moisturising for my hands, I've certainly never found that they dry out my skin. The scents are also all very nice, in particular the cucumber, and the scents all linger on your hands for a little while. However, the refills are expensive at around £3 for a 250ml refill. Having said that someone gave me a tip in that if you cut a hole in the top of the refill you can then use this to refill the bottle with any wash you choose. I've found this to work well and hasn't made any difference to the use except for reducing my costs in relation to the refill. Warnings ~~~~~~ As taken from the cardboard insert that comes with the dispenser. Don't place it under running water, place it in the dishwasher or place it in standing water. It should also not be placed in direct sunlight. Finally, when replacing the refill the dispenser should always be switched off. Price, Availability And Recommendation ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The dispenser and refills are widely available. The initial cost (for a dispenser, refill and batteries) is around £10 in most places, although it can be found cheaper online and ASDA's are currently selling them on offer for just over £6. I probably wouldn't buy it at full price, however for the lower £6 price then I think this is reasonable. The refills are expensive but given that you can cut a hole in the top of the old refill then this reduces that cost significantly. I'm going to give it 4 out of 5 stars (although I almost wish I could give it three and a half out of 5!) as I do wish they had a slightly smaller design that would work in the bathroom and due to the high usual retail price of the dispenser. As stated above I also have concerns over how well it would work with children. However, despite this it does work as it should, is easy to both clean and operate and it does eliminate the need to touch soap pumps.
I had never even heard of N-Spa before I started reading reviews of their products on here. I read many positive reviews about them and whilst I'm more then happy with my current Lush/Sanctuary obsession they do get rather expensive when bought regularly. N-Spa however, appeared to be a cheaper, good quality alternative. Who Are N-Spa ~~~~~~~~~~ I can't be the only one who seems to have been living under a rock over at least the last few months and not noticed the N-Spa products, let alone know who they are! N-Spa stands for Nirvana Spa, this is a spa in Berkshire with six pools containing spa water to "cleans and energise" the body. The spa is, apparently, award-winning and aimed at building an "oasis of serenity where mind, body and soul could come together to promote health and wellbeing." Their products are designed to "make you feel pampered and special, and leave your skin looking glowing and radiant." (Information taken from their website www.nirvanaspa.co.uk) The Product ~~~~~~~~ This is a light yellowy-orange liquid in a clear plastic bottle. This allows you to easily see how much of the product is left. N-Spa say "take the indulgent pleasure of the forbidden fruit add the wisdom of Nirvana, make time in your day and turn your bathroom into a sumptious spa." I can't disagree! I have very expensive taste (just not the money to afford it!) and I'll admit that it's probably the packaging that put me off noticing this before, it's not exactly unpleasant or displeasing to the eye it's just not exactly eye catching either. My Experience ~~~~~~~~~ The bottle has a flip top lid, the kind where you press one side down and the other side flips up. As soon as you open the lid you can smell the product which smells exactly as you'd expect. Think sickly sweet real butter fudge. The consistency of this bath cream is very thick and again, very reminiscent of melted fudge. There is actually caramel listed as an ingredient which probably helps to contribute to both the scent and texture! (Mouth watering yet?) Despite the thick consistency and small hole I had no problems getting the product out of the bottle. It just needed a small squeeze in order to remove some into my bath. If anything the small hole combined with the consistency of the product is actually a benefit. This is because I've found that a little goes a long way with this and so these features prevent you using too much which results in wastage. It also doesn't clog up like some bottles with small holes, however if for whatever reason you do want to remove the lid this unscrews without a problem. After I'd run the bath and this had dissolved I was left with a bath full of bubbles and although I would say there was a slight hint of yellow to my bath water there wasn't too much of a noticeable change - this may be different if you add more then I do. On stepping into the bath the water was noticeably softer and the whole bathroom was full of the smell which, by now, had lost the sickly sweet tone it had and instead just smelt of butter fudge. The bubbles lasted for the duration of my bath (around 30-45mins) and I found them fairly hard to rinse away after so I'd guess that they'd stick around a lot longer if I'd needed them to. After I got out the bath my skin was noticeably softer, although I did still need to use moisturiser on especially dry areas, such as my legs, I could easily have skipped it on the rest of my body. The scent is also quite strong, it lingered in the bathroom for a fair while after I'd emptied the bath. It also lingered on my skin for several hours. Despite having used both a scrub and body wash along with this I got wafts of this every time I moved for around an hour after getting out my bath and it was noticeable on my skin for around 5 hours afterwards. This is probably making it sound like it's overpowering but I didn't feel this at all, despite being strong and long lasting it was quite subtle. The loss of the sickly sweet tone it had probably helps this but I found it to be quite a pleasant, delicate scent. Other Information ~~~~~~~~~~~ This contains SLS and two different kinds of parabens so is one to avoid if your either sensitive or concerned about these. As far as I can see this is suitable for vegetarians and vegans. The shelf life of the product is 36 months. I use around a tenth of the 550ml bottle per bath so it won't last even close to the whole 3 years if used regularly. Price, Availability And Recommendation ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The usual retail price of this is £4, however ASDA currently have it on offer for £3 which works out to around 30p a bath. N-Spa products are only available directly from them or in ASDA's. Based on my experience I have to give it the full 5 out of 5. I loved this and my only complaint is that I didn't find it sooner! However, the smell is very sweet and so won't appeal to everyone. Therefore I also recommend that you have a quick smell in store before you buy to make sure you will like it.
I tend to use perfume over body sprays now but there is the odd occasion when I'll still use the sprays in particular when I'm left with little choice! About two weeks ago I went up to see my horse in the morning and thought that gave me plenty of time to get home, have a shower before getting out to a client in the afternoon. Apparently the traffic had a different idea! Three hours later after having sat practically stationary on the M1 I arrived back just on time to my client but stinking of horses. Whilst the smell doesn't bother me it doesn't exactly make a good impression on a client! So after a quick trip to the shop I left with a can of Impulse Paris, hoping that would go at least someway to covering the smell. What Is It, What Do Impulse Say? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ This particular spray is part of Impulse's city collection. They say that "if you dream of love in the world's most romantic city, try Impulse Paris with a blend of bergamot, tangerine and muguet scents and feel the charm of the city of lights. Spray it all over your body and enjoy its captivating scent!" I have a confession to make here - I had no idea what muguet smelt like until I googled it for this review. For those of you just as confused as I was it's lily of the valley. My Experience ~~~~~~~~~ As with all Impulse canisters this has a plastic lid which you need to turn to reveal the spray hole. I find these to be a bit hit and miss, sometimes they'll turn without any problems, other times they'll stick. I found that this one stuck which again wasn't really a problem as all I needed to do was to hold the white plastic rim and turn the lid, I would still prefer it just to turn without sticking though. That said, I have used Impulse spray cans before where this hasn't been a problem so it might just be my particular one. Once I had turned the cover the button to release the spray is easy to use and won't cause any problems. Once pressed it releases a fine mist which goes on slightly damp but dries almost immediately. When first sprayed the scent is quite strong and starts as just an overall fruity smell. Once this has settled, the muguet becomes more noticeable with just an underlying hint of tangerine. This scent lasts around an hour, during which the tangerine develops a bit more and blends well with the muguet. Neither of them are dominant over the other but are both equally blended with each other. There is however still just a general fruity background to these two dominant scents. I have tried spraying this on both my clothes and directly onto my skin. The scent goes through the same notes in around the same time scale no matter what it is sprayed onto. It also lasts the same amount of time which is quite a disappointing around 5 hours. Although this isn't too bad a length for a body spray I have found some which last longer. The smell this body spray has definitely means that it's better suited to day rather then evening wear and summer rather then winter. I've always thought that Impulse is a brand aimed at younger people such as pre-teens and teens. Although having said that, there are some scents that appeal to me in their range. As to whether or not I like this scent, I'm not sure. I do quite like it, I'm just not sure it's for me. I wouldn't say that it's too young for me, it's probably about the right age range it's just not my kind of scent. That said, I will continue to use this can I'll just pick up a different scent when I have a need to buy another. Other Information ~~~~~~~~~~~ The aerosol is recyclable and as far as I can tell this is suitable for both vegetarians and vegans. Cautions ~~~~~ As with all aerosols this comes with several warnings. These are: keep out of reach of children, protect can from sunlight and do not expose to temperatures over 50degrees, do not pierce or burn even after use, do not spray on or near a naked flame and do not use on sore or broken skin. Although this is advertised as being gentle on skin and I have used this on broken skin without irritation just use common sense when it comes to this. Price, Availability And Recommendation ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Impulse body sprays are widely available. Prices do vary so it's worth shopping around but expect to pay between £1.50 and £2. As for recommendation based on how I feel it suits me I can only give it four out of five stars but I do think it would be suited to those up to mid-twenties who like this kind of scent. Try it in store before purchasing to see if it's something you would wear.
I think bleach is a product every house has, it's become almost a necessity for cleaning. However, I also like my home smelling nice and whilst some bleaches do have added scent I chose this ASDA scent because it specifically stated that it was lemon scented and bleach is, after all, bleach. The Product ~~~~~~~~ ASDA make several claims for this product. The first and probably most obvious, is that it's lemon scented. However, as well as that they also claim that the bleach will kill 99.9% of bacteria including MRSA, Clostridium Difficile, E.Coli, Salmonella and Listeria. The bottle tells me that this protection lasts for 24hours. Uses ~~~ I'm sure we all know how to use bleach but there are several directions ASDA suggest. To bleach whites: Use 50ml of bleach in 10 litres of cold water. Soak the clothes in the solution for a while then rinse well. If you want to soak the clothes overnight then halve the solution to 25ml to 10 litres. Sinks and basins: Squirt a little bit of bleach down the plug hole and leave for a couple of minutes before rinsing away. Toilets: Direct bleach around the inside of the toilet bowl and leave overnight. In the morning simply flush the toilet. This is safe for use in septic tanks. My Experience ~~~~~~~~~ I have never used bleach to bleach whites, for some reason the whole idea scares me. (Don't ask!) I do however, use it in my toilet, sinks and bins. The Bin: I simply squirt a little bit in the bottom of the bin and then pour in some cold water (I have also tried it with hot and found there to be little difference). Half filling the bin is more then enough as the bleach produces plenty of bubbles. After I have added the water I then tend to leave it overnight to soak. There isn't really a noticeable scent after adding the water, bleach or otherwise, however the bin does smell noticeably fresher and look clean after cleaning in this way. I do need to rinse the bin out at least twice after I've used this as I find the bubbles tend to stick even when left overnight but I prefer this as to me it proves it's actually doing it's job. Drains: I have a specialist drain unblocker that I use when my drains end up blocked but I do still put a squirt of bleach down the kitchen sink once a week in an attempt to try and keep it smelling fresh. Unfortunately I can't say that I noticed the lemon smell I was hoping for. I can however say that I have never noticed any nasty smells coming from the sink and it has always smelled fresh but it's hard to say whether this is down to the bleach or whether I could say the same even if I didn't use it. Toilet: There is a fairly big hole in the top of the bleach. This means that the bleach is easy to pour as it almost falls out once you turn the bottle upside down. The bleach itself is clear and so it can be hard to tell if you have missed anywhere. For this reason I simply squirt it round twice to ensure it's fully covered. The bleach itself is thick and so clings to the toilet well. After I squirt it the only real smell is that of bleach with a faint hint of lemon. I do this last thing at night so that it can be left overnight, when I go in in the morning the lemon scent is much more noticeable, even before I flush it. As soon as I do flush it then it forms a fairly large collection of bubbles in the bowl. The lemon scent does linger around for a while after flushing. Other Information ~~~~~~~~~~~ ASDA funds research into alternatives to animal testing. As this is a "chosen by you" product it is covered by the ASDA guarantee which states that if you are not 100% happy with the product simply return it to a store they'll refund you. The bottle is recyclable and so is the lid in some areas so check local recycling schemes. The bottle also has the standard child safety cap with which you need to squeeze two opposite sides of the cap whilst turning in order to undo it. Warnings ~~~~~~ As with any product of this nature this comes with some warnings. As taken from the back of the bottle these are: You should always keep the bleach in the container it came in and rinse and dry your hands after use. You should never mix with any other products as doing so could release dangerous chlorine gases. Do not use this product on enamelled baths, metal, wool, silk or man made materials. Similarly it should also not be used on coloured fabrics or those with a special finish - you should also avoid spillages on such fabrics. If such spillages do occur then they should be cleaned immediately with plenty of clean water. Do not use to sterilise baby equipment or undiluted anywhere except toilets or drains. Also, as with other products avoid contact with skin and eyes, do not ingest and keep out of reach of children. Price, Availability And Recommendation ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Being an ASDA product this is only available from them. It costs 25p for 750ml. I was going to knock off a star due to the lemon scent not being strong enough for me but for the price I really can't fault it. Therefore I'm giving it the full 5 out of 5 and recommending it.
The Strange Familiar is a fairly new American band from Ohio. This Is Gravity is their debut album (although there was one self-released, this is their first with a label) and was released early last year. I actually had mine imported after hearing "Courage Is.." however although still not available in shops over here it is available as a digital download. General Information ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I actually keep all my CD's in a CD wallet and thought I knew where all the cases are. In general this is true however this one seems to be missing in action. I guess this isn't too much of a problem as if I'd bought the digital download I wouldn't have this information anyway but from what I can find online: Producers: Brian Malouf and Curt Schnieder Vocals and Keyboard: Kira Leyden Guitar: Jeff Andrea Bass: Frank Freeman Track Listing ~~~~~~~~~ * Still Have Time * I Just Want To Love You * Courage Is... * This Is Gravity * Angel * Secret Life * Nobody's Hero * Witness * Raise Your Glass * You Can't Go Back * I Know Your Name * Never Be My Opinion ~~~~~~~~ ~ Still Have Time ~ Starts with a fairly strong base on drums that carries the whole way through the song and is amplified by a repeated phrase that is played on the keyboard. The vocals themselves also seem to carry some of the beat and again seem to have several repetitive phrases in the music. Despite being quite a repetitive song it doesn't drag or get to 'samey'. Not a particularly fast song but definitely a more upbeat one. A good choice to start the CD with. ~ I Just Want To Love You ~ A song to someone she loves that's been struggling with something in their lives and it's affected the way they see themselves. Beginning fairly softly with just the piano providing background music and the vocals, but quickly picks up pace while the instrumental gets stronger. A fairly gentle and reassuring song that emphasises the message the song is carrying. Despite talking about difficult times in someone's life there's a sense of hopefulness and a positiveness to this song that's carried through more in the music then the lyrics themselves. ~ Courage Is... ~ This song is the sole reason I bought the whole album. It starts with just two notes played one after the other on the piano with the vocals carrying the whole tune. This is carried through the whole song with just a slight change to the piano providing a slight dischordance to the song. About half way through the instrumental does become stronger but it's still the vocals that really carry it through and this works brilliantly with the songs lyrics which are about working through problems no matter how many problems get put in your way. A very positive, hopeful song and this is shown through both the vocals and instrumental. "It's not how many times you get knocked down, it's how many times you get back up." ~ This Is Gravity ~ Slowing it down after the last song. Starting with just guitar and piano, unusually for this band there's almost more going on instrumentally then vocally as the tune the vocals carry is actually quite simple against a fairly layered and comparitively more complex instrumental background. However, her voice is strong enough to cope with this and doesn't get drowned out at any point throughout the song. She manages to hold her own against all the instrumentals and draw our attention to her vocals just as much as the instrumental naturally keeps our attention due to the depth. ~ Angel ~ Starts with a fairly slow piano phrase quickly joined by the vocals. A softer, calmer song that's very relaxing and, due to the lyrics more then anything else, a fairly uplifting song much like many others in this album. Not too much going on instrumentally, it's definitely the vocals that carry this song but that's the way it should be in my opinion as it's the lyrics to the song that carry the meaning. ~ Secret Life ~ Fairly early in this song there's a little bit of dissonance in the vocals. This is the first time on the album this is really noticeable but it fits well with the song as it's about change in our lives and how the odds are against two people being together but they know they'll make it anyway. A fairly fast song compared to others on the album and one that has more going on instrumentally but this is well balanced with the vocals ensuring that neither drowns the other out. ~ Nobody's Hero ~ Slowing it down again to a song about someone that's had a tough life but is moving forward from that. A strong beat carried through on both the drums and the piano. Even in the vocals at parts as the music is well written to fit with the lyrics as each main word is on a strong beat. There's a sense of longing and almost a kind of emotional hurt that can be felt throughout this song but it doesn't come across as depressing in any way, almost the opposite because there's also a sense of hope. Almost as if they're saying "I'm going to get through this despite everything" ~ Witness ~ A much slower song, probably the slowest on the album. Only starts with the piano providing a background while the vocals taking a forefront. There are areas where the piano and other instruments take a more prominent role but it's definitely the vocals that carry this song through. Each verse is actually quite short making the chorus the part that really comes through and sticks with you but I feel that's the way it should be and it doesn't come across too repetitive as the chorus carries a powerful message about the problems in the world at the moment and challenges us to make a difference. ~ Raise Your Glass ~ A fairly quick beat but almost feels as if it should be moving even faster, there's a sense of restlessness in the music that fits with the lyrics which are about someone who she used to know but she's no longer with. A positive, upbeat song that's well placed in the album. Not one of my favourites but not one I'd say I'd ever skip either. ~ You Can't Go Back ~ Slower then the last but still quicker then some others on the album however the beat seems to slow as the vocals join in. A song about being hurt by someone she loved/loves. There's plenty of tempo changes within this song to accent particular lyrics within the different verses, they slow it down when singing about hurt and how the past can't be changed but then pick the beat up again when talking more positively about how she did all she could and she knows she loved him even if he wants to say otherwise. Like all the other songs in this album they manage to make what could be a depressing song due to the lyrics and message underlying the song into what is, in reality, a positive song due to not only the lyrics but also the hopefulness and positiveness carried in the music itself. ~ You Can't Go Back ~ Probably the quickest track on the album which sounds slower then it is to start with as although the instrumental carries the beat well, the vocals seem to drag a bit. However this quickly changes as the song really begins to start. There's actually a lot going on instrumentally in this song but despite this the vocals more then hold their own and it's really the vocals carry the song through. This is probably helped by one of the instruments carrying the tune along with the vocals and so there's an extra emphasis. ~ Never Be ~ A song with a fair amount of dischord. The only song where it can be difficult to pick out certain vocals as the instrumentals seem to drown out the lyrics at times. This is a shame really because as I'll explain later it's the vocals and lyrics that really make this album for me, however it somehow seems to fit with the song. It's a very upbeat and complex song with a lot going on both vocally and instrumentally, an excellent song to choose to end the album. Would I Recommend It? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Definitely! As far as I'm concerned there's nothing not to recommend. The music itself is something that I think many people will enjoy and music, to me, should be something that tells a story in the lyrics and something people can relate to. This ticks all those boxes. Each track on this album is telling its own little story and each carries its own message. Many people will be able to relate to the message in the songs and see how it either fits a time in their lives or calls them to do something different. When you really break down each song into what it's telling you it's actually quite hard-hitting yet at the same time something you could listen to in the background whilst your doing something else. The album itself is only 48:12 so not the longest album in the first place but there are no fillers, each song could be taken as a stand alone and work perfectly well. There's also a lot of variety within each song to prevent the album as a whole from becoming too repetitive. It costs £6.99 for the full album or 79p per track. A small price to pay for an excellent album! It gets the full 5 out of 5 from me but if you still need some convincing the songs are all available for you to listen to online.
We have lots of linoleum in our house and a wet room so a mop is somewhat of a necessity for us. About a year ago our mop that we'd had for years completely gave up and I couldn't avoid replacing it any longer! Vileda is a name I'd heard a lot of good things about but never actually had any experience of, I also liked the idea of the wringing action of this mop as in theory this should prevent the lino getting too wet and make drying the wet room easier. Vileda say that this mop has an angled head which allows for more floor contact, it scrubs and dries the floor and absorbs water - quite how absorbing water is different to drying I'm not sure. Anyway, they also claim that the foam the mop is made of is "tear resistant" which should mean that the mop head should last longer. The mop itself is made of red plastic, just below half way down the handle is a slightly protruding circle. This is the part that you slide up and down in order to wring out the mop. The mop head is mainly blue sponge with a thin white scrubbing part and a thin cloth on the other side of the sponge. I'm not entirely sure why the cloth is there, it looks just like a multi-purpose household cloth and it's not going to be very useful in drying since there's no way to avoid getting it wet with the rest of the mop. As you insert this into a bucket of water the sponge and all other parts of the mop absorb the water well. You then need to wring the mop head out to ensure that it is as dry as possible. This is done by sliding the lower part of the handle down and then back up. When you're using a new mop head this is very stiff to move and could cause a problem to those with poor mobility in their hands/arms. However, with repeated use this becomes much easier and eventually becomes no problem at all. The only thing that is worth pointing out here is that you do need to wring out the sponge at least twice in order to ensure that all water is removed since the sponge is still quite wet after the first squeeze and as the sponge gets older you may need even more then two squeezes but as you use the mop more you do learn to tell when the sponge is dry enough to use. Running this over the floor is easy, it doesn't stick or feel like it's dragging at all even over uneven or sticky floors. The scrubber works well at removing stains and the mop is easy to turn on its side in order to use a corner of the scrubber for the most stubborn stains. I've never had any problems in removing dirt and grime when using this mop and I've never felt that the floor is too wet which proves to me that the wringing action works. It does come up damp, but not wet. It also works fairly well at mopping up spills, when trying to use this to dry the wet room I simply run this over the floor and then wring it out into the bucket, whilst this works to a degree it does seem to struggle if the floor is very wet and it won't dry the floor completely so not the best choice if this is what you want it for. Height wise, I'm 5'7" and find that the handle is just about the right height for me, if a little on the short side and so I don't think that it would be long enough for anyone taller then me, especially when it comes to wringing the mop out as this action is fairly low on the handle to start with. (According to the Morrisons website the actual height is 138cm) I bought my mop from Morrisons for £7.14 and mop head refills are £3.12. The mop heads themselves last around 6months when used every 1-2 days, although I do tend to use it until it literally falls apart on me so you may need to replace them slightly more often if you prefer them in slightly better condition but then I guess for £3.12 you could forgive that. I have also seen these mops for sale in ASDA's at a very similar price so it's worth shopping around. Recommendation wise I'm going to give these 4 out of 5 stars, losing a star due to the fact the sponge disintegrates so quickly. That said it is a good mop and easily removes even the most stubborn stains so I am recommending it.
Leather is notoriously difficult to clean, which proves a bit of a problem in our house where we have a set of leather chairs and an adult with dementia who seems to make it his job to make a mess where there isn't one! We did get a set of specialist leather cleaning wipes with the chairs but they got used up fairly quickly and proved very expensive to replace so, when we found a 300ml bottle of leather cleaning spray for just £2.99 we weren't going to say no! The Product ~~~~~~~~ As already stated this is a leather cleaning spray, it is made by a company called Wheelers who claim to have been "caring for leather since 1983". The spray itself contains no harmful chemicals and so won't damage your leather even with continued use. Instead, it cleans using natural plant extracts such as cotton and lemongrass, it also contains beeswax. The spray claims to "clean, refresh and rejuvenate all kinds of leather", although this isn't quite true. The spray should not be used on Aniline leather. This is due to the finish of this kind of leather and separate cleaning instructions from the manufacturer should be followed. My Experience ~~~~~~~~~ The spray has a safety lock that has absolutely no instructions for it's use and so completely threw me to start with. Underneath the trigger there is a white bit of plastic, when this faces forward the trigger is locked and so can't be pressed down. However once you eventually work out why the spray doesn't work(!) then this plastic is easy to turn both before use to unlock the spray and after, allowing the trigger to be re-locked preventing wastage or accidents if children do happen to get their hands on this. The directions say to spray sparingly, work into the leather and wait two minutes before finally wiping with a soft, clean cloth. I'll admit to having a tendency to overuse products like this and so I definitely used more then just 'sparingly' but then more often then not I'm trying to remove dirt and grime that have marked the leather and so more is definitely better then less - that's my reasoning anyway! When first sprayed the cleaning product goes on clear but does produce a little bit of foam, this then works into the leather and is absorbed well with minimum effort. As directed I always leave this 2-3 minutes, you can tell when it's finished working as the leather always appears slightly damp until it's been completely absorbed. It doesn't feel damp to the touch and so there's no worries about it damaging the leather it just has that 'wet shine' effect. Once this has gone the leather still appears clean and with a slight shine. Although the directions say to wipe over with a clean cloth I only did this the first time and it made little to no difference to the finish and working the spray into the leather always removed all dirt and grime anyway so I stopped giving it the final wipe as it seemed to be pointless. Although this hasn't managed to bring up the shine to the leather that the wipes I was using previously managed to do, I guess that's why the wipes were so much more expensive. Also Wheelers recommend finishing your cleaning with their leather balm and so maybe if you wanted the extra shine, this would be the product to bring it out for you. I've been using this product now for around 6 months and it's had almost daily use, I have noticed no difference to or fading of the dye on the chairs and it definitely hasn't damaged the leather in any way. Other Information ~~~~~~~~~~~~ As this contains beeswax it is unsuitable for vegans although then I guess vegans wouldn't have leather products anyway! It is suitable on all kinds of leather (except the Aniline as stated above) but can be used on chairs, handbags, coats and all other kinds of leather. You should avoid contact with upholstery and fabrics and do a patch test on a discreet area before using across the rest of your item as some leather dyes are non-permanent. This product has also been recommended by Aggie MacKenzie for those of you interested in her! Availability, Pricing And Recommendation ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I bought my bottle from Dunelm, as I've already said this cost me £2.99 for a 300ml bottle. According to their website (www.beewaxed.com) their products are also available from Homebase, John Lewis, countrywide, Jempson's, Ocado, Rainbow wholefoods, WWF (who knew the WWF had a shop?), Decco, Provider Cash and Carry, The Health Store and Sher Bros. Now I'll be honest and say I haven't seen this in any of those stores but then I haven't been looking for it especially either so it's definitely worth looking. As far as recommendation goes, I'm going to try and pick out the balm in order to try and bring out the shine a bit more but it does the job it's designed to do - cleans and removing dirt and grime, and it does it well with minimum effort from me and therefore I'm happy to give it the full 5 out of 5 stars.
Sarah McLachlan has to be one of my favourite singers. She is a Canadian singer/songwriter and this album is a mixture of her work between 1996 and 2007, the album was released in 2008. The tracks on this album cover a whole array of songs varying from live arrangements of her songs, covers of other people's work and film releases. It is due to the film releases that there are songs on this album that many people have heard of without necessarily even realising who she is and therefore these provide a good introduction to her music if you are new to it. Being the second volume of this CD it follows a previous release in 1996 which again included some other artists work, film soundtracks and remixes of her songs. General Information ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Arranged by: Randy Newman; Randy Kerber. Produced by: Pierre Marchand Programmer: Ned Douglas Vocals: Sarah McLachlan, Ashwin Sood, Cyndi Lauper, Emmylou Harris, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Bryan Adams Piano: Sarah McLachlan Toy Piano: Ashwin Sood Keyboard: Glen Ballard, Pierre Marchand Organ: Rob Hyman Guitar: Jamie West-Oram, Glen Ballard, Dave Stewart Acoustic Guitar: Sean Ashby Electric Bass: Mark Egan, Simon Smith, Brian Minato Trumpet: Stewart Cole Drums: Matt Chamberlain, Sammy Merendino Bass Drum: Chris Potter Track Listing ~~~~~~~~ * Ordinary Miracle * Blackbird * Time After Time * River * When She Loved Me * Don't Let Go * Just Like Me * Angel * Pills * Homeless * The Rainbow Connection * Prayer Of St. Francis * Unchained Melody * Silence My Opinion ~~~~~~~ ~ Ordinary Miracle ~ Many of you will probably know this from Charlotte's Web. It begins with just Sarah's vocals and the piano, after several seconds background singers and further instruments join in. The whole track is interspersed with sections that are just her vocal and the piano and areas with more going on. Although the instrumentals are nothing more then background music and the vocals are really what carries this song through. A wonderfully calming and relaxing song, although a little calmer then I'd have expected for an opening track it works well and is a perfect choice to begin the album with. ~ Blackbird ~ Originally done by The Beatles. Opening with just the guitars quickly followed by her vocal; it's just the vocal and guitar that carry this song through to completion. A simplistic and fairly repetitive arrangement but one that's well chosen to follow Ordinary miracle. At only 2:21 it's the second shortest song on this album but I feel it's timed correctly, any shorter and it really wouldn't be long enough, any longer and the simplicity and repetitiveness of the song would begin to drag on. This isn't the strongest song and one I don't think would fit anywhere else on this album but none the less one I quite like, more for the lyrics then anything else. ~ Time After Time ~ A duet with Cyndi Lauper. Opening with two acoustic guitars that although mostly in harmony do have occasional clashes that catch your attention every now and then, just enough to ensure you're listening when the vocals come in. The vocals start with Cyndi with Sarah taking over after several lines, their voices blend perfectly so that the switch between singers isn't really noticeable unless your paying attention. This also means that as they begin to harmonise together this also works as their voices are well matched. Again, another song that the vocals carry through although there are areas between verses where the instruments (mainly guitar and drums) take over in order to carry the song through to the next verse. This song is arranged as most of you will probably have previously heard it when performed by Cyndi Lauper if a little slower without dragging on. I do however feel this is a better arrangement with the two vocals and this sense is enhanced due to their voices blending so perfectly. ~ River ~ Opening with just the piano fairly quickly followed by Sarah's vocals. The lyrics to this song are actually quite hard to pick up despite having listened to it several times. This is unusual since Sarah's voice is so usually so clear and distinct and it's no different for this song. However the piano I feel is slightly too loud, whilst I do realize this is probably the point as there's more going on with the piano then there is with the vocals and it's really the piano that carries this song but it does seem to drown out the vocals at points. This doesn't matter too much though as this is yet another calming and relaxing song that I can easily play at the end of a long stressful day, close my eyes and just unwind. A perfect 'me-time' song! ~ When She Loved Me ~ Another song many people will probably know from the Toy Story 2 soundtrack. Not really my favourite song on this album, whilst I can see why she added it as it is a fairly well known song, she's capable of better then this and it comes across as nothing more then a filler. Taken on it's own I would probably be complimenting it, it certainly worked in this film but in this album full of stronger and in my opinion better songs, it just doesn't work. A track I tend to skip I'm afraid. ~ Don't Let Go ~ A duet with Bryan Adams. The first slightly more upbeat song on the album, I say slightly as the original beat on the keyboard seems quicker and when compared to the others it probably is quicker however overall it is still a slow song. Bryan Adams takes the lead here, it's him that opens the song and him that carries the main tune. Sarah just provides background and harmonising vocals throughout the whole of the song. This seems an unusual choice for a CD that is after all hers but nonetheless she has a strong voice that blends well with his and the clarity of her voice contrasts well with his This track works well with the other songs on the album but doesn't really stand out in its own right. An ok song but nothing special. ~ Just Like Me ~ A duet with D.M.C. A rap song that is nothing more then filler. Her voice and style really doesn't suit this type of music and right in the middle of the album seems a strange place to put a track like this. A song that would have been better left out. ~ Angel ~ A live version of what is probably her most famous song - Angel, sung with Emmylou Harris. I surprised myself with this one. I usually prefer live music, somehow the energy and atmosphere seems to seep into the music itself but this just seems to fall flat. Not just in relation to the album but the music itself there's no energy, no life, nothing to bring it alive. It's quite a slow listless song in the first place (in a good way) but the lack of emphasis with this track just makes what should be an excellent track a pretty poor one really. That said the duet works fairly well, although maybe I'm biased as I've always thought of this as "Sarah's song" it is after all the reason I began to like her music in the first place but she lets Emmylou sing every other verse and this just doesn't work for me. Maybe if she'd provided background harmonies I'd have preferred it more. ~ Pills ~ A duet with The Perishers. Another live song however this one does have that 'something' I was trying to put my finger on with the previous song. Despite being another fairly slow song there's a kind of energy to it that although not there in the beat or the rhythm is there in the music. A fairly depressing song if you listen to the lyrics "I'm losing hope with every passing day", however despite that rather depressing lyric(!) there's a hopefulness in the music itself that prevents this from coming across as a depressing song. It's a fairly simple arrangement but has a strong instrumental that blends perfectly with their voices allowing the song to almost carry itself. ~ Homeless ~ A duet with Ladysmith Black Mambazo. An a capella song that sounds almost tribal Sarah's vocal is only distinguishable from the rest for a few seconds in the middle of the track but I actually prefer it like this. The tribal feel, lack of instruments and sections that aren't in English are what makes this song what it is. The voices blend perfectly a choir that is what a choir should be - a collection of voices where no one voice is distinguishable from the others ~ The Rainbow Connection ~ Originally performed by Kermit the Frog in The Muppet Movie so not a song you would usually expect on an album like this! However, strangely, it works. I've never seen the muppet movie but can see how it would fit with that, however it transfers well. There's a strange conflict almost with her vocals against the instrumentals, this catches my attention every so often but compliments the song rather then contrasts with it. This definitely isn't her usual kind of song there's a quality to her voice here that I haven't heard in any of her other songs. There's an unease that comes across in the music here, this is transferred through not only the music itself but also in the occasional clash between the vocals and instrumental. None the less a reasonable song and well placed in the album. ~ Prayer Of St. Francis ~ A Christian prayer that I believe is also a psalm (although I'm not Christian so I could be wrong). I'm not quite sure why she included this in this album, although musically it should fit with the rest of the songs maybe because of what it is away from the music it doesn't seem to fit. Anyway, the vocals and the instrumental blend well both of them carrying equal weight. At only 2:02 long I guess I could forgive it's inclusion but I do think it would have been better left out. ~ Unchained Melody ~ I'm actually not sure who wrote this originally but I'm sure most, if not all of you, have heard of it. It begins with a fairly strong beat but this only lasts seconds before settling down to a much softer one which is quickly followed by the vocals. Although it is obviously a cover which is unusual for her, she's done a good job at making it hers. In fact, the first few times I heard this I didn't even realize what song it was! It's hard to tell what has prominence here, the vocals or the instrumental. I think at times they both do, but they blend perfectly neither one overpowering the other however this is a very slow track to follow many other very slow tracks and so at 4:50 long it does seem to drag somewhat. This isn't really a criticism of the song itself as taken on its own or played as just background music it's pretty good, but given its positioning in the album and taken with all the other songs it doesn't work for me - maybe it would have been better placed earlier on? ~ Silence ~ A duet with Delirium. Quite a funny one to end the album on, at 11:37 long it's over double the length of all the other songs on the album. It's also the only remix on the album and the only dance track amongst 10 other much slower tracks! Quite why she had to include this as a remix against a lot of songs that aren't I'll probably never know! The duet itself works well but unfortunately that's about the only positive thing I have to say here, I don't like dance tracks at the best of times but to end a collection of much slower more relaxing songs is just bizarre especially given the length. Minus this track this is a pretty good album but unfortunately, for me, its inclusion detracts from the whole album. So Should You Buy It? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I've already waffled on for much longer then I planned to (so thank you to those of you still with me!) therefore I'll keep this bit short. The album costs £6.69 from Amazon (with free delivery) and a little more from shops such as HMV. Overall I'd say it's a pretty good album but as I previously said that last track does ruin the effect of the rest of it for me. Up till then it's the perfect CD to relax and unwind to as all the songs have a slower beat and are much more relaxing without becoming boring or feeling like the album drags on but then that last track comes on and ruins the whole effect. There's also a couple of fillers and I prefer my CD's without any of these. However, for those of you that are already Sarah fans then I do recommend it. It's a good CD overall and I'm giving it 4 out of 5, losing a star due to that last track. If, however, you are new to her music then I'd stick with her older albums and give this a wide berth for now. Just to end this and as a side note I do realize that dooyoo list Cat's in the cradle as the first track - this is because Amazon have this on the copy they're selling, my copy however doesn't have this and was bought from HMV, why there's a difference I don't know but if you want this extra track you'll need to get your CD from Amazon.
I first bought my mini fridge to store things up in my bedroom. Alright so I could have just used the downstairs one but at the time my step-dad had just been diagnosed with dementia so anything not tied down would go missing! For that reason I wanted something small that I could put out the way and keep small treats in. As this was the sole reason for buying this fridge I chose the smaller 4 litre size as I didn't think I needed anything bigger then this. This fridge comes with leads allowing you to connect it to both the mains and the car cigarette lighter. Along with the fridge option there's also a warming option which means the fridge will keep your food warm for you working almost as a mini microwave. The fridge does come with a handle which folds down over the top of the fridge however I would only recommend using this when the fridge is empty. When used like this it's very light however I did try moving it once with 6 cans in and the added weight meant that the carry handle snapped. My fault really for trying to carry it when full but I would have thought the handle provided would allow for items in the fridge as well as the fridge itself but apparently not! Size wise this comes with a shelf however to be honest due to the lack of space I wouldn't bother. I removed mine and have actually lost it. This doesn't bother me though as I would probably never use it even if I had it. The fridge comfortably stores 6 cans of coke (or any other fizzy drink) when the shelf is removed (4 standing up, 2 laying on top). I have also just about managed to squeeze two one pint cartons of milk in but I wouldn't recommend this as it was quite a squash - the option is there if needed though. Temperature wise this is supposed to reach up to 15-20 degrees below the outside temperature. I have no idea if this is true or not since I have never actually worried about measuring the temperature but it has always managed to not only keep my drinks other items cool but also to cool them down in the first place, even in the middle of summer and so I have no concerns here. Since this is a fridge at the end of the day I'm not sure how many people will actually use the heating function but I have used this to keep food warm during early car boot sales. I don't think this gets warm enough to actually warm the food up in the first place but it does do a very good job at keeping already warm food hot. Noise wise, initially this sounded just like any other fridge. It did hum but was nothing more then just background noise and nothing especially loud. However, as I've used it more it has got louder and as it is kept in my bedroom I do have to turn it off overnight. I actually need noise to sleep but I find this too loud and it just keeps me awake. That said the insulation is good enough that turning it off overnight and then back on in the morning will not allow the food to warm up enough for it to spoil. I've always found this fridge easy to clean, I just give it a quick spray inside and out with Dettol and then wipe over with a clean sponge and it's done. This takes no more then a couple of minutes at most. The only thing I will say is that I think the outside is plastic and at one point I had an electric heater in my room and the corner of my fridge has melted. This has not affected the insulation but I actually thought there was a fair gap between the heater and the fridge but obviously not enough! So this is worth bearing in mind if you are thinking about buying this for a caravan or other area with limited space. Power consumption wise, according to my electricity monitor this uses 0.05KW an hour which works out at 50p an hour. That's quite a lot for something so small! Also when using the car adaptor I would also recommend only using this with the car engine running as it does drain the battery quite quickly. I have this in silver but it comes in several different colours. These are: white, pink, silver, black, pink polka dot and white with the English flag over the door. Their usual price is £29.99 but they are currently selling for £23.99 except, for some reason, the one with the English flag which costs £19.99. As far as recommendation goes I'm hesitating. I wish I had bought the 6 litre one as I would have found this much more useful. The 4 litre fridge has a dimension of 28x19x26cm and the 6 litre fridge has a dimension of 34.5x21x25cm and for now the larger ones are selling for £26.66 and so for less then three pounds difference and not much size difference I would definitely go with the larger. (dimensions taken from the Argos website)
There is nothing I like more after a long stressful day then some "me time" where I can relax and especially if I've been on my feet all day then a foot soak with some warm water and some kind of scented product is pure heaven. Apparently, I'm fairly well known for this because as I said in a recent review I recently received two Norfolk lavender products as a present. The one I'm reviewing this time is the Lavender Soothing Foot Soak. The Product ~~~~~~~~~ According to their website (www.norfolk-lavender.co.uk) this is designed so that you can "give your feet a well deserved treat in this 'oh-so-welcome' lavender foot soak. Refreshing and relaxing to sooth away the aches of the day." The product itself looks like very fine bath salts with visible particles of lavender interspersed throughout the bottle. One thing I did like is that unlike some other products the bottle is literally full to the brim - there's none of this 'you can have a big bottle but we'll only fill it three quarters of the way'. The size of the bottle is the exact amount you get. This does mean that you need to be careful to hold the bottle completely upright when using it to ensure you don't spill any but I'd rather this then be cheated out of a product. My Experience ~~~~~~~~~ As soon as you open the lid the smell of lavender is quite strong. The directions say to put a capful into a bowl of warm water and dissolve, however I found half a capful was more then enough and this also helps the bottle to last twice as long. After pouring some into a bowl of water I needed to swirl the water a little bit to make sure the grains had fully dissolved, as they dissolved the water turned a cream colour and whilst there were some lavender stems in there they tended not to float and so weren't noticeable. The water, once I put my feet in, felt very creamy and moisturising. The smell that had been so strong when I first opened the tub was only noticeable as a faint hint of lavender once the grains had dissolved I also can't say that the smell lingered on my skin. However, I don't exactly smell my feet so this may be why I didn't notice it! After I'd taken my feet out the soak my skin was noticeably softer and smoother. I have particularly hard skin on my heels and this always bothers me as hard skin isn't exactly a good look! However, although I can't say my heels came out as soft as the rest of the skin on my feet there was a noticeable difference to before using this. As for whether or not it actually cleaned my feet, well I'm not sure! My feet certainly looked cleaner then before I used it but I don't think that there was any more of a difference then I would have got just soaking them in warm water. That said, the product doesn't claim to clean that's not what it's designed for and not why I use it so I won't fault it for that. Other Information ~~~~~~~~~~~ None of the ingredients or the finished product has been tested on animals. This product is suitable for vegetarians and vegans. If you would like to know more about the company or their products the website is: www.norfolk-lavender.co.uk Price, Availability And Recommendation ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The only place I've ever seen this for sale is Sherwood forest however it is available directly from Norfolk Lavender at the website given above. It costs £8.99 for a 240g bottle or £15.98 for two bottles. To be honest I probably wouldn't pay that myself but simply because I'm trying to save money. It does work well as a foot soak and therefore I am giving it 4 out of 5 and recommending it.
Several months ago we went on holiday to Nottingham. Whenever we go away as a family we always buy ourselves small presents as a memento. This time I got a couple of items from Norfolk Lavender. One of which was this - Norfolk Lavender cooling and reviving gel. The Product ~~~~~~~~ This comes in a small plastic tube containing 150ml of bottle. The idea is that you rub it onto your skin and it feels cooling and soothing. According to the blurb on the back of the tube this is "cooling, calming and enriching. A beautiful skin enhancing gel containing the traditionally healing essential oils of Lavender and chamomile. Use daily to calm and protect damaged skin and calm jangling nerves. Extracts of Aloe Vera, birch leaf, peppermint lea, rosemary leaf, oatmeal and lavender leaf all bring skin restoring properties to embellish this gels rehydrating qualities. Can also be used in summer after sunbathing to soothe inflamed skin and in winter to nurture chapped skin back to health." Norfolk Lavender is a company based in Norfolk (strange that!) they own several lavender fields and distilleries which are open to the public. This means that you can be sure that all their products are natural and you know exactly where they're coming from. This particular product has a shelf life of 24 months. My Experience ~~~~~~~~~ The tube this gel comes in stands on its lid. Those of you who regularly read my reviews will know that I generally see this as a good thing; however in this case the gel has a fairly thin consistency and the hole the gel comes out of is fairly large. This means that as soon as you flip the lid open the gel just pours out. After a little bit of practice I've learnt to get just the right amount out but this did take a while and a smaller hole would seem like a simpler solution. Rubbing this over my skin is easy and it absorbs well although it does leave a bit of a sticky residue which lingers for a while even after the gel has been completely absorbed. Whilst rubbing this into my skin it feels very cooling although not in such a way that would be too cold for use during winter. It also feels ever so slightly tingly and this sensation also continues for a couple of minutes after application. There are no warnings on the tube about not using on damaged skin in fact it says it can be used after sunbathing on inflammed skin and on chapped skin in winter. I can't comment on the use on chapped skin in winter as only having received this a few months ago I haven't had it through a winter yet. I can however confirm that it does help on skin that's sun burnt, the cooling sensation is very relieving and the added Lavender will help with healing. That said I have used this over shaving rash and it stung quite badly that's not an experience I'd want to repeat and so I wouldn't recommend its use on cuts or sores. I also can't say that I've noticed any particular benefit to my skin, and whilst this product was bought for me mainly because I love the smell of Lavender I'm also quite disappointed in the scent. Although it does smell quite strongly in the tube the smell doesn't linger on your skin at all. Other Information ~~~~~~~~~~~ None of the ingredients or the finished product has been tested on animals. This product is suitable for vegetarians and vegans. If you would like to know more about the company or their products the website is: www.norfolk-lavender.co.uk Price, Availability And Recommendation ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ This costs £7.99 for 150ml. To me, given the problems I've outlined above this seems expensive. I appreciate that you are paying for natural ingredients and that you have a guarantee of the quality and where they came from but if I'm going to pay £7.99 for 150 of any product I would hope that it would have more benefits for my skin then those I mentioned above. Therefore I am only able to give it 3 out of 5. That said, if you appreciate products like this that are completely natural and you know where the ingredients have come from it is worth a look.
I'd like to start this review with a warning. I'm going to talk very candidly in this review, I won't shy away from difficult subjects or hard times in my life so if this is likely to bother you please stop here. This is still a very sore subject for me but one I feel strongly about and one with a lot of stigma which I believe can only be removed by open and honest discussions such as this. I don't remember how old I was when I started self-harming and I don't remember what was going through my head at the time. I'm not sure anything was except desperation. I was mercilessly bullied at school and at one point even raped. When I eventually turned to a teacher I was told that it was "because of me". I will never forget those words. There was no explanation, no further action, nothing. At the same time I was having problems at home. I have always been the most sensitive out of me and my brother so to try and "cure" me of this my parents and grandparents would tease me to the point of tears then laugh and ridicule me for being "too sensitive". Throughout my childhood and early adulthood I was diagnosed with several mental health problems, some of which I still suffer with now. I did however have one member of the family I could turn to - my cousin. One day though, I was texting back and forth with her and she replied that I needed to "pull myself together and get over it" if only it were that easy! I don't blame her, I was hard to deal with and I'm happy to admit that I still can be when I'm having a bad few days. Anyway, at some point throughout all of that I began self-harming. Initially with scissors or whatever else was nearby at the time but it wasn't long before I moved on to razors. I did it because I needed to feel the release. I once heard someone say they self-harm because then there's a "reason" to hurt and I can really relate to that. If I'm bleeding or have a fresh cut there's a "reason" to feel pain, also it's easier to feel physical pain then emotional. I didn't start because I wanted to die (although I have been suicidal at various points throughout my life) I started because I was trying to SAVE my own life. Was it the best way to cope? No, but it did take the edge off it and it did keep me alive. The problem then was that it became the only way I knew how to cope. I knew that when I self-harmed I'd feel better for a few minutes. It became the answer to everything, I was hurting therefore I needed to stop and the only way I knew how to stop was to self-harm. It's a vicious cycle. Of course the guilt and shame would follow soon after I had self-harmed and I'd spend countless summers in sweltering heat wearing a long sleeved top just to try and hide my scars. Even now I'll favour long sleeved tops over shorter ones to hide the scars from my self-harm. How to overcome it is trickier. I'm not going to sit here and say it's easy because it's not I last self-harmed 6 months ago but it was two years before that time. I still think about it even now and still want to some times. I don't know if that will ever really go away - the urges do get less though and do get easier to manage. I used to self-harm at least twice a day and it took years of therapy and medications to stop that. It's not something you'll be able to stop on your own nor should you in my opinion as you self-harm for a reason and without therapy to uncover that reason and either treat it or find healthier ways to cope depending on the problem then you could just end up replacing one unhealthy coping mechanism with another.