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We chose this brand of dog food after much research on internet forums as we initially expected to be buying a recognised breed of dog and were impressed by the breed-specific options available. In the end we chose a cross-breed instead but still decided to stick with the Royal Canin range.
Selecting a size-specific product for a puppy relies on the owner knowing how large their dog will end up being, our dog is a mix of beagle and pug (puggle) and, as such, size was a bit of an unknown quantity! The customer care team at Royal Canin were very helpful and there is also an app available to help navigate your way through their products if you are technically inclined!
Purchasing the food was easy, its widely stocked at all of our local branches of Pets at Home, local pet shops and vets in a variety of sizes so we were able to start off with the small sized bag and go from there. Instructions for portion size are easily understood, giving a chart for adult weight and the amount to feed and out puppy always seemed satisfied with this amount twice daily.
I can only compare its effects with those of the food that was supplied with our dog and the difference between the two was marked. Her coat became glossier within only weeks of changing the food (which we did gradually), her trips to the toilet became much more regular and her "business" became more uniform in both colour and firmness. Additionally the actual food itself consisted of small(ish) round pellets which did encourage her to chew rather than gulp.
As time went on we found that she was growing at a rate greater then we had expected (the joys f buying a "designer dog") and she is now the biggest puggle we've ever seen!!!! This wasn't an issue we simply adjusted the intake of food to accomodate the difference in size and carried on as before. At no point did she appear overweight and based on the size of her parents I think her larger size is due to genetics rather than an issue with the food.
Once we had decided that this would be the food for us we then had to consider suppliers and found that by far the most economical way to go. A large bag (15kg) lasts about 2 months and stores brilliantly in an airtight pet food dispenser with no issues. It's not the cheapest product on the pet food market and the prices at Pets at Home are enough to make your eyes water so we elected to join Amazon's "subscribe and save" package, it brings the cost down to about £38 a bag at the time of writing and I don't think that's a bad price to feed a dog for 2 months!
We carried on with the junior food option throughout her first year, it carried on meeting her energy levels as we adjusted the amount by her age using bothe the chart on the packaging and the aforementioned iphone app. The change to adult food came when she did begin to gulp the food down, we decided to go for a larger size of kibble which was simply a transition from the Junior to Adult version and she has continued to thrive!
I am unlucky enough to have naturally dark, untamed eyebrows and, as a result have spent many a year plucking them furiously and then drawing them back on with a variety of different eyebrow pencils and powders (any woman reading this review will know that is not as crazy as it sounds!).
When I discovered the Brow Zings kit 2 years ago I immediately fell in love, madly in love! Yes, they are pricey at nearly £20 a set from Boots, but they really are the best eyebrow kit I have ever used. The kit comes in 3 different shades of fair, medium and dark and I should point out that I have only used the darkest shade due to my hair being black (my mum, however, swears by the medium shade and would definitely give it a thumbs up!).
Unlike many of the eyebrow powders on the market, the brow zings kit also contains a brow wax which is the product's secret weapon. It tames those unruly stray hairs, provides a base for filling in overplucked areas and enables you to extend your brows so you can give yourself those perfect arches you've always wished for!
Although the wax is coloured within the case, it goes on almost clear and it's main function is to provide a slightly tacky base for the powder topcoat. This topcoat is a lovely dark colour, nice and opaque and will last all day long (although if you're going out in the rain a coat of She Laq by Benefit is good for a bit of colour-stay insurance).
Because the wax has already tamed the eyebrow hairs, it means the powder goes on smoothly and is non-patchy. If you have smaller eyebrows to begin with then the product is obviously easier to use but, even if mine have grown a little more than normal, the wax is normally enough to get things back on track.
Is the finished product natural? I think that depends on who is doing the drawing to be honest. My mum's eyebrows alwys look as if she was born with them that shape but mine do veer from natural to something a bit more "dramatic" depending on the mood I'm in!
The tweezers included with the Brow Zings have recently been changed and are now a little sleeker in design but still just as effective at keeping your eyebrows tidy. The compact itself is a very sturdy little thing, hard to open if you're wearing longer nail extensions but a good size with a useful integrated mirror.
I probably get through a kit every 6 to 9 months, but that is using it every single day (sometimes twice if I need a change of "look" later on). People do question the price but Benefit often have some good offers on, especially at Boots, and I would always view it as an investment product. After all, who wants to leave the house without their eyebrows on?!
Having just finished watching Season One of True Blood on FX and seeing it is now being broadcast on Channel 4 I decided I would have to come and write a review to let everyone know that this series is worth a watch!
I loved Buffy as a teenager (both the film and the TV Series) so I guess I'm pre-disposed to enjoy anyway but I do feel that True Blood has a little something extra to offer. It's written by Alan Ball, of Six Feet Under fame, so anyone who is familiar with his previous work will understand straight away that the show contains a perfect mix of comedy, drama, tension and the supernatural without a corny script in sight.
As terrestrial TV has only broadcast an episode or two I'll steer clear of much specific information because it's too good a series to spoil!
The series centres on Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic waitress, and the way that her life, and the lives of those around her, are changed upon the arrival of Bill Compton into their small town of Bon Temps, Louisiana.
Bill is a vampire, able to "come out of the coffin" thanks to the invention of True Blood, a Japenese synthetic blood that enables him to live among humans and "mainstream". His integration into the way of life in Bon Temps and his developing relationship with Sookie forms the main basis of the first series as does a series of gruesome murders which Sookie and Bill find themselves caught up in.
Although the story arc concerning the murders is present throughout the series there are many interesting sub plots to be explored, particularly for those who have read the Sookie Stackhouse novels. They bring a real depth of feeling and a sense of understanding to the individual characters and give the viewer, and Sookie, time and space to really explore the effects and emotions brought up by, not just Bill's arrival, but the existence of vampires as a whole.
If you have just started watching then please do stick with it, I know that the first 2 episodes seemed to drag a little for me (especially compared to the speed of the novels) but the writers quickly make up for this with the sub-plots mentioned above providing the pace to keep the episodes from becoming tired and throwing enough curveballs to keep even the most hardened fans guessing.
Although not always entirely faithful to the Sookie Stackhouse novel this series is based upon, the first season is broadly true to the overall story with a few extra sub-plots thrown in. In general terms it covers approximately a chapter per episode. One major change I had issue with to begin with was the introduction of characters not present within the novels but I have, personally, come to see this now as a bonus rather than a detriment.
It should be pointed out that, although Twilight is a big hit with the teenage market at the moment, this programme is most definitely aimed at an adult audience with nudity and sexual scenes, violence and a fair amount of swearing. It's not gratuitous, I can watch it with my parents for example, but it's something to bear in mind before you decide to tune in.
If you enjoy making bread then this product really is worth a try, a great quick fix that can get you fresh bread within the hour.
I had used the Wright's Cheese and Onion bread mix and was very impressed with the results and decided that now was the time to try a wholegrain loaf, something that I normally shy away from, especialy when using a breadmaker (adding the seeds can jus be a little bit too much hassle, even with a machine that automatically tips them in!)
As with the other Wright's mixes all that is needed is to add lukewarm water to volume of mix you require and leave the mixer to run. I found that the loaf produced by the whole packet was far too dense, the grain seemed to make the loaf ever so chewy. By reducing the amount of mix, however, the loaf kept a rustic chewy texture (athough it still not not become crusty) but was much lighter and less stodgy. When making rolls I was again able to bake 10 rolls and, by adding a few exta minutes in the oven, managed a slight crust too.
Baking By Hand or Food Mixer:
Mixing with the seeds by hand was, admittedly a little harder but if you have a food mixer you can pop the mix into this really isn't an issue. The grains bonded well with the rest of the mix after the addition of the water and kneading, resting and rising was a piece of cake (excuse the pun!). I felt that the mix needed a little longer in the oven compared to the instructions on the packet, and I will alwys leave a seeded dough to rise for a few minutes more than a normal mix, so the process on the whole was slightly more protracted than the other Wright's mixes I have tried.
In the bread maker the loaf seemed to be a little too sweet but this issue was not present when making by hand or using a mixer so this may well be an issue with my machine.
The texture was very soft but the grains did not go soggy, it was possible to tweak the instructions to get more rustic finish to the rolls if required but the standard texture was perfect for a sliced loaf.
Weight of product is 500g with 315ml of lukewarm water needed to make a full size loaf (or 10 rolls)
Price of product has varied when I have been shopping around but the best value I have found was Morrisons at 85p per pack. I found this to be marginally more expensive than buying separate ingredients but well worth the extra few pence.
*portions of this review also apply to my other reviews of Wright's bread products *
If you enjoy making bread then this product really is a life saver, it is a great standby and cupboard staple whether you normally use a breadmaker, food mixer or bake bread entirely by hand.
I have recently started using a breadmaker to make my bread but hadn't always been pleased with the results, the loaves were sometimes a little dense and tried and tested recipes didn't always transfer very well. It was for this reason I decided to try a pre-mixed product and I haven't been disappointed.
It is literally as simple as adding lukewarm water to the mix (either a full or half pack), tipping it into the mixer and letting it do it's thing. I have been experimenting with the mix for last 2 weeks and have found that, in my machine at least, it makes a lovely light loaf if half a packet is used as it's got that little bit more room to expand. I have also been using the pack to make rolls and these really are perfect, if the bread maker is popped onto a dough setting I can normally bake 10 rolls and have been able to get both a crusty and floured finish.
Baking By Hand or Food Mixer:
This is where the pre-mixed packet comes into it's own for me. From start to finish I can get fresh bread or rolls on the table in less than an hour with very little effort. A quick 5 minute mix followed by 10 minutes of resting and kneading are the only work that is needed before the bread can be left to rise (30 minutes) then 15 minutes in the oven.
Whichever method you use you will find that the cheese and onion flavouring feels very subtle but still of a high quality, it is possible to see cheese and onion pieces within the loaf or roll and these lead to a nice moist texture.
Weight of product is 500g with 315ml of lukewarm water needed to make a full size loaf (or 10 rolls)
Price of product has varied when I have been shopping around but the best value I have found was Morrisons at 75p per pack. I found this to be marginally more expensive than buying separate ingredients but well worth the extra few pence.
*portions of this review also apply to my other reviews of Wright's bread products *
This review is specific to shade #10, Black Liquorice. I have not used any of the other colour options within this range.
I chose Garnier Nutrisse as an alternative to my usual hair dye as it was the only brand available in the express supermarket offering a black shade and it had received positive reviews on this site.
Upon opening the box I was impressed with the clear instruction leaflet and the packaging in general which included a smart box that can be used as a stand for the dye bottle too.
The product itself was thick and creamy and viscous enough to mean there was no needless mess, the only accident was a small spot of dye on a pink T-Shirt which came out with no issue at all after a cold soak. It genuinley did feel like a more nourishing dye than I am used to.
As for the pack size, I was able to colour my regrowth and the majority of my waist-length hair with a single pack. This particular application was for regrowth only though, I would have needed two packs to be sure of complete coverage for a colour change.
Development time was relatively short (I always add another 20 minutes on though!) and there was no toxic smell or discomfort. I sometimes feel with hairdye that I emitting fumes from my newly-dyed hair whilst waiting for the colour to take but this felt like a much more natural product.
The provided conditioner was billed as being enough to provide several applications but it has only lasted for two, adn this was at a stretch. In all fairness this is more to do with my hair length than the tube size which would be more than ample for any other length hair.
The only downside for me with this product is the colour provided. Perhaps due to the natural ethos of the brand, deep black colour does not seem to be possible. Naturally my hair is dark brown , with undertones of auburn, and this dye has failed to cover that at all. There is literally a stripe in my hair between my roots and hair length which is due to the dye darkening, rather than colouring my regrowth.
Unfortunately for Garnier, I buy a black shade to give me a colour I am unable to acheive naturally and I really do feel that all this product has been able to do for me is give a subtle hint of darkening my own natural colour. Perhaps it would be worth only offering a range of shades which are able to give deep opaque colouring.
I bought this product last week and am completely in love!
I don't normally use Vaseline on my lips as I personally find it a little bit greasy with a funny, almost medicinal taste and smell but my love of all things pink would not let me leave this on the shelf when I spotted it at Boots.
At £2 it is more expensive than the other Lip Therapy products on offer but, since buying it, I have spoken to others who have bought from ASDA and Superdrug for £1.20 or less.
Scent, Colour and Texture:
The main scent of the product is, unsurprisingly, rose but there are lovely underlying scents of juicy, fruity flavours and so the final effect is less Turkish Delight and more like a strong summer fruits cordial.
The colour is a lovely dark or rose pink, with no orange or cerise undertones which means that when it goes on, it really complements natural lip colour. The colour is most definitely a tint rather than an opaque shade and this is in the product's favour as it can be used as an effective lipstick base if you still want to be bold or as a very subtle lip colour for toned-down natural days.
Unlike other Vaseline products in this range, the balm is smooth and non-greasy. It goes on without a hint of being sticky and, thanks to the almond oil, really does provide moisture for hours at a time.
Packaging for the product is so cute and retro in a pretty shade of coral pink and so simple but effective. It is a traditional shallow tin containing 20g of the product which clicks together securely but is nice and easy to open (even with cold fingers!)
Rosa Damascena Flower Oil
Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis Oil
Have recently returned from a 3 night stay at the rebranded Guoman Tower Hotel in London. We booked through Guoman's own website getting a 3 nights for the price of 2 deal which was able to undercut all of the last minute website prices (less than £90 a night).
The whole hotel is undergoing extensive rennovations and modernisation meaning that the classes of rooms available currently seem fairly muddled.
We paid for a standard room yet were placed on a club suite floor which gave a larger, albeit non-modernised room. Other Guests paying for standard rooms had been placed on lower floors (although these seemed to be guests who had booked through a third-party website) and small upgrade fees of between £20 and £30 per room per night gave room options including penthouses and junior suites.
The floors can seem like a maze at first but the layout is such that all rooms offer views of either Tower Bridge, St Katherine's Dock or Butler's Wharf.
Our room was large, massive by London standards, and well equipped with a modern television, ample drawer and wardrobe space and a powerful shower. The decoration was a little tired and the bathroom smaller than others I have used but everywhere was spotless and a turndown service was offered daily.
Front-desk staff were friendly and very competent, handling our check-in efficiently and providing all relevant information regarding dining times and room options.
Breakfast was well managed with a large, hot, selection of goods, no queues and well-spaced seating, although we did breakfast early, normally prior to 7:00.
The concierge service was also well run with the staff able to book tickets for a variety of shows as well as the aforementioned Open Top Bus Tours.
We did not make use of the restaurants or bars wihtin the hotel as there was ample selection nearby but prices seemed reasonable and there was good variety to the menu.
The hotel is literally next door to Tower Bridge and by walking under the bridge itself you reach the Tower of London, by the Thames.
We were initially concerned that the hotel is located at the very edge of central London but, as a result of being placed within 60 seconds of a World Heritage site, the transport links into London as well as local bars and restaurants are excellent.
Within a 5 minute walk is Tower station with links via both tube and DLR and, even closer, are stops for both modern and traditional routemaster heritage buses as well as the famous London Open Top Bus Tours with many routes running past midnight. Also availble are a number of clipper services running to Greenwich and the Houses of Parliament throughout the day.
St Katherine's dock is a 2 minute walk away and has a number of bars and retaurants as does the area ppposite the Tower of London and Butler's Wharf a short walk away on the other side of the Thames.
It is also possible to take a stroll into London via the Thames Pathway which is well lit right into the evening and provides opportunities to break off and have a look at many of the well signposted landmarks.
I have had my current Sony Reader for just over 4 months, it is a replacement for one purchased Xmas 2008 which had gradually stopped retaining charge and, so far, this one has been perfect so I am putting my initial problems down to an isolated fault.
I don't consider my Reader to be a replacement of "real" books in any way but it serves to complement my collections and provides me with a convenient and easy way to have a choice of 1000s of books to dip in and out of every day.
The reader itself is lighter than a paperback book, much slimmer (less than 1cm) and marginally larger in height and width. It is easily small enough to be carried anywhere and I can personally testify that the e-ink used on the screen is just as easy to read in bright holiday sunlight as it is on a dreary commute to work!
It is worth investing in an SD card to go with the Reader, in my opinion, as it really does make your options for book-carriage limitless. It is surprising how quickly the 10 classic ebooks begin to fill up the internal memory and leave you wanting more.
The controls and user interface on the reader are both intuitive and ergonomic and are placed in such a way as enables you to hold the Reader as if you were holding an actual book with options to turn the pages at thumb level and the more occasional control options neatly aligned along the outer side of the "page". As the controls are inset into the casing of the Reader they are unobtrusive, without being positioned in such a way that they can be easily caught by accident.
It is the further menu options that give the Reader potential advantages over a traditional book. These options include keeping a history of the books you have been reading, providing constantly updated bookmarks that allow you to have more than one title active, allowing you to skip to a specific point within a title and gives you options to enlarge the font size if needed.
The major downsides of the Reader centre on the slight delay on page turn (which over the course of a book, particularly a thriller, can become tedious) and the method of charging.
As standard it is a USB charge from your PC which is not ideal as it does limit your options to carry on reading each night after the commute or to be 100% sure the battery will last a 2 week holiday, in addition is a slow charge and so emergency top-ups of the battery are not really feasible. It is a problem easily solved, however, by purchasing a standard Sony adapter which lets you plug it directly into a wall socket.
Accessories on sale for the Reader are, in general, a good investment too. The optional light (or lighted cover) gives the freedom to read on planes and such like and is a godsend for letting my husband sleep when I can't put a certain book down! Other cover options allow personalisation of the Reader and, as mentioned above, the charger really is a must-buy.
The final point to consider is the general availability of ebooks which are at a higher fee, generally, in the UK than the US. Aside from the 100 classic books included with the Reader, many other out of copyright works are available to download free of charge but purchasing a digital version of a paperback can be expensive (or impossible) which is a great excuse to still buy a few "real" books for the shelves at home!
Prices for ebooks are lowering and the 3 big booksellers (Waterstones, WH Smith and Borders) have a fair selection.
In addition it is worth remembering that the reader's weight means it has a surefire advantage over hardback editions and having a browse through the cheaper ebooks could find you an obscure bargain that turns into a new favourite title!
I bought this for my husband's birthday recently, primarily because of the Sony brand. I freely admit that we are a little bit Sony-mad in our house but this is purely based on the high quality products we have purchased from them in the past.
First of all I should state that I cannot vouch for it's compatability with any other Apple items apart from the iPod video classic and the iPhone 3G, as these are the only two I have tried.
The unit is larger than your average alarm clock but this is more than made up for by the volumes produced and, with only a very small amount of bass distortion on all but the loudest of settings, the quality of the output is a million miles away from the tinny radio sounds which normally characterise clock radio speakers.
This sound quality has encouraged me to use the unit as more than just a clock-radio to wake myself and my husband up and I now happily use it throughout the day too. Although the unit is not DAB the difference between the two formats is minimal and only those customers who have a portable DAB radio will be in a position to notice.
The only disadvantage we have found with this product is the display is fairly bright, it is enough to provide muted light around the bed and this is on the lowest setting. Not a major problem for my husband but I prefer a very dark room so have just taken to popping an eye mask on instead!
As an alarm clock the unit is easy and intuitive to set up, it has 2 alarm settings which is ideal for switching between weekdays and weekends and the option to wake up to either the radio, a buzzer or the iPhone/iPod. The display on the front gives all relevant infromation in a clear manner so checking that everything is set as it should be is a breeze.
The unit is supplied with a remote control so you aren't limited to where the appliance can be placed so no issues with trailing cables across the bedroom!
As mentioned above, sound quality with the product is high and the presets are easy to program and controls for navigating through saved stations and tuning to new ones are clear and very user friendly.
Again, the display on the front contains all the information you need and the radio can be controlled via the remote control.
As the unit also charges the iPod/iPhone it manages to reduce the number of plug sockets needed and means that you are able to keep your phone or MP3 player charged up without even really thinking about it.
You can select tracks and navigate around the iPod using the remote control and so, again, the unit is useful instead of a traditional hifi system.
In summary the product is ideal as an alarm clock or stereo whether you have an iPod or not due to its sound quality, ease of use and slim ergonomic design, particularly now that it's cost has bee reduced by about 40%!
This is my absolute favourite lipstick to ever grace the shelves of a beauty department for it's depth of colour, moisturising properties, longevity and packaging. It even smells better than my other lippies!
The Rouge Allure range gives a good strong colour which stays on. The lipsticks concentrate on being shiny rather then having a shimmer which means you see a real depth of colour which is solid without being flat. This is acheived through intense moisturising agents so the product conditions the lips rather than coating them with a greasy layer which can cause them to dry out.
The housing itself is very clever with a spring concealed within the outer sleeve meaning you pop the actual stick in and out of place, it is all do-able with just one hand and feels very glamorous!
Of course it is priced within a higher bracket than many other brands and, for this reason, I tend to only purchase it in the more classic colours. I would suggest to anybody wanting a red lipstick that Passion (number 14) is the exact shade of pillar-box red that goes with anything and instantly transforms any outfit or make up look to a 1940s vixen!
For anyone who has read Dan Brown's other works (and the majority of potential purchasers wil fall into this category) the style of prose and, indeed plot construction, will be familiar from the outset of this book.
Robert Langdon returns once more as the protaganist and is given a seemingly impossible timeframe in which to solve a number of smaller puzzles. As a result he is lead to a startling revelation which questions the knowledge and assumptions we have always taken for granted. Even the obligtory "twist in the tale" is present which, like his other four novels, reveals that in the world of Dan Brown, nobody can be trusted.
Brown and Langdon are less vitriolic throughout this book, the Masons seem to get off lightly in comparison to the Priory, Illuminati, Church and every other secret society we have met in previous works, but Brown still raises many interesting points. The final few chapters offer a more muted series of revelations than the da Vinci code but still elicit a number of questions for the reader to ponder.
That is not to say that this book is a bad read, indeed I enjoyed every page of it. Dan Brown follows his previously successful formula and the result is a thrilling page-turner which may not have the controversial conclusions of the da Vinci code but excels in delivering drama and suspense nontheless.
As with any Dan Brown novel, do not open this book expecting an academic tome. Enjoy it for what it is and you wont be disappointed!
As a comitted techno-phobe where mobiles are concerned I was dubious that the iPhone's features would be worth the 18-month contract and high line-rental fee but I have been pleasantly surprised.
Yes, this phone is primarily aimed at gadget-loving males, but it has a lot to offer for the more casual user too. Quick links on the home screen take you through to contacts, email, browsing and MP3s.
As a contacts database it performs well, with lots of space for individual information that is easily updated, imported and shared with a PC or Mac. The input method is intuitive, making full use of the phone's copy and paste functions and enables data to be used throughout applications on the phone.
By far the most useful of the phone, in my opinion, is the ease with which webmail accounts can be integrated with the iPhone, when emails are received the phone automatically provides notification and all standard functions such as replying to, moving and deleting emails are fully supported.
The browsing function of the iPhone relies on Apple's on Safari browser which is so close to Internet Explorer in it's controls as to not cause a problem for anybody who has previously had only lmited access to a Mac. Browsing is made enjoyable due to the large screen, zooming in and out of pages, as well as completing pre populated fields and drop-down menus is easy due to the touch-screen nature of the phone.
As an MP3 player the iPhone goes above and beyond any that I have used before (including the Apple Classic and Video iPods). This is mainly due to the integrated iTtunes software which is bundled with the iPhone which enables me to download tracks as and when I want them.
SMS messages and internet addresses are typed using an on-screen keyboard and phone calls inputted via an onscreen keypad. Both methods do take a little while to get used to but provide many benefits over standard phone layouts.
The lack of predictive text input for texting means there is no need to add new words the the dictionary as you type, although the phone will make suggestions for obvious mis-spellings and the dialling pad has nice large icons to avoid mis-dialling.
SMS messages are grouped by author to form threads of conversations, making the phone seem more like a instant message service and gives the ability to follow a conversation from start to finish.
Although the camera is not brilliant, it is more than serviceable for a mobile phone. Now that MMS has been enabled (a feature which had been previously lacking) this means pictures can be sent directly to contacts instead of being limited to sending them as email attachments (of which you are only able to add one per message).
The Apple Applications store gives users the chance to personalise their iPhone as much or as little as they choose and this is probably the best feature of the product. The iPhone can be as technical or simple as required and gives the scope for any additional feautures to be genuinely useful.