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I got given an Ipod Nano (yes, for free!) about a year ago when my sister got an iPhone and realised she had no need for her one anymore. At first I was reluctant to use it. My trusty Shuffle had been faithful to me for many years, and I didn't really have a reason to get rid of it, but I thought I'd give the Nano a go since it can hold so many more songs than my old Shuffle, and haven't gone back to it since!
This particular Nano is the 2nd generation (I will go into this later on). It is available in a variety of different colours including black, white, silver and brighter colours such as green. My one is white, with an aluminium back case (which all of the models have).
What does it do?
This mp3 player lets you, surprisingly, listen to music. It also lets you store and display photos. The Nano has a 1.5 inch colour screen.
The 4GB capacity allows you to store around 1000 songs, obviously this will depend on the size, length and quality of the songs you store on it.
Size of the Nano is (roughly) 3.5 x 1.5 x 0.25 inches. It is very light, and can be easily transported around your neck or in your pocket to enable you to easily listen to music on the go without having to worry about dropping it.
When I got my first Ipod (the shuffle), Itunes baffled me. I had assumed that I would be able to simply drag and drop as I had seen my sister previously doing with her mp3 player (not an ipod). The disk that comes with the ipod however is very simple to navigate through and explains everything nice and easily.
iTunes is a program which will be installed onto your computer using the step by step guide on the disk provided. It's basically a file manager which stores all your songs and in which you can create playlists, purchase songs and more!
The cost of purchasing songs from iTunes varies but it's usually about 79p per song. It's a good idea to back up your mp3's onto a CD you have an actual copy, as it is very easy to delete them instead of moving them (or perhaps that's just me...) and then you will have to pay again! There are also free downloads every now and again as well as 'podcasts', but not expect anything too spectacular there. Overall a nice little program but perhaps one that takes over a bit too much - I personally prefer the way my sister's mp3 player works - it really is just drag and drop and is so much less fuss!
What don't I like about it?
One of my favourite things about the original ipod shuffle was the built in USB stick, which allowed you to charge your ipod and store songs from any laptop with a USB port. This is a feature the Nano does not have, although you can do this with a cable.
One of the other little niggles I have with the Nano is that it doesn't have a built in clip to allow you to clip it to your pocket or jacket to listen to music on the go. Even if you do have it in your pocket, there's always that risk of it falling out!
How good is it?
The Nano holds it charge for up to 24 hours. I usually charge my once a week, and very very rarely run out of battery totally. It has a battery bar in the top right hand corner so you will notice when you are running low. This is a big advantage over the shuffle, which coloured light doesn't notify you that you are running out of battery until it is almost too late! This model is also very quick to charge, taking about two hours to charge fully from empty.
As these ipods have been updated twice, you are now able to pick these up very cheaply - around £50-60 on Amazon, and from around £35 on eBay which is a great deal. However, when you bear in mind that you can get the new, 4th generation version for £70, brand new (current price at Pixmania.com), it would seem silly to save a tenner to get an outdated version.
The new, 4th generation ipod boasts features such as a larger, LCD screen and camera and video recorder/player.
I really like the Nano. It is ideal for me, as I don't want anything too flashy (or breakable!) and it allows me to store a large number of songs to stop me getting bored! If you are looking for a basic-ish mp3 player that is good quality and reliable, I'd definitely recommend the Nano 2nd generation, only if the price is right. However, if you are after something a bit flashier, or will be paying a substantial amount of money for the 2nd generation, you might as well pay the extra few pounds and get the newest possible version!
Tesco Four Slice Toaster
Before I owned a 4 slice toaster, I didn't really see the need for them. I don't come from a massive family and we have never previously had trouble waiting 2 minutes for someone to finish with the toaster in the morning. Since having the four-slicer however I don't think I could go back! It makes it so much easier when making scrambled eggs on toast, say, to know that both peoples toast will be the same temperature (and not having to choose who you like more, or how generous you are feeling to determine who gets the hot toast!).
I purchased this 4 slice toaster a couple of months ago when, after investing in a new kettle, it became apparent how grubby and old the old toaster was in comparison! It cost a bargain £19.97, and, at just a few pounds more expensive than a 2-slicer, I decided it was worth giving a go!
The toaster is made from stainless steel with black plastic dials. It looks very stylish, and, in my opinion looks a lot more expensive than it actually was! It also comes with a 12 month warranty.
The features of the toaster are pretty standard, but to be honest, a toaster is made to toast and that's what it does! There is a button which allows the 'toasting process' to be cancelled mid-cycle. It has a crumb tray, a defrost (frozen) setting which intelligently toasts for longer. There is also the standard feature of toasting at different levels for different levels of browning (from 1-7, I usually leave it on 4 for a pale brown toast - don't like it too toasted!).
There are a couple of little niggles with this product, firstly that although the toaster fits in bread slices easily, larger items such as breakfast muffins are harder to fit in and tend to get stuck or burn - this is a typical problem with toasters though, not sure if there is one out there that has been able to tackle this problem?! Also, the bread does take slightly longer to toast when 4 slices are in at the same time.
I have been very pleased with this product. It does what it says on the box, and is of reasonable quality. I must admit, I have seen snazzier options out there (one of my best friends has a toaster which also cooks eggs, something I will get to in another review!) but for this price you can't really go wrong. I would definitely recommend it to those looking to invest in a new toaster for a bargain price!
~*~ My Emporio Armarni ~*~
I'm not a huge jewellery girl. I mean, I wear it, but I'd be just as happy with a drawer full of Freedom at Topshop bling as I would be with a drawer full of designer gems. So when I was presented with a watch box shaped parcel on Valentine's day, my heart sank a little. I know this sounds really mean, but I'd prefer a nice pair of shoes than an expensive watch any day!
On unwrapping, I was very impressed. The whole packaging of the product oozes luxury, from the shiny black presentation box to the instruction manual and care cards inside, all which coordinate beautifully. Looking at the box now, I think it is a little more masculine than I would generally like for a ladies watch - perhaps the brand should think about offering two types of packaging for different genders?
What's it like?
The watch is made from stainless steel. It has a black dial with silver lettering (numbering?) on the face, with the Emorio Armarni logo prominently displayed at the top of the watch face. The watch is water resistant up to 30 metres (I've dropped this in the sink and it's survived, however I wouldn't recommend trying it!!). The watch is slightly chunkier than what I am used to wearing, and it does have a slightly less feminine feel to it than previous watches I have owned. However, it is much more professional and, actually, sexy. I usually only wear watches to work, for function, but since being given this one I have actually been wearing it for fashion - on nights out, or to add a bit of sparkle to a basic day outfit. The one thing that confuses me a little about the watch is the second hand, which is displayed at the bottom centre of the watch in its own little cube - why this is necessary I don't know, surely the intention of this watch isn't to be used as a timer for sports day?!
The watch comes with a 2 year manufacturer warranty which is pretty standard for most watch brands.
What is it going to cost?
I'm not sure how much was paid for my one as it was a gift, but I've had a quick look on the internet and the cheapest price I can find this for is £129 from Emporio Watches, although on average it sells for around £150 (hmm, maybe I should stick it on eBay!!). In my opinion this isn't too bad a price for a watch if it is going to last you many years, which I'm sure this one will. It's a classic statement watch that goes with pretty much every outfit so if you wanted to you could wear it every day for the rest of your life (and I'm not just trying to justify you making the purchase!!).
Overall I have been very pleased with the watch. I've had it for around 6 months now and it's not had any problems, has kept time pretty much perfectly and has suffered a few drops from my clumsy self and not been affected.
Personally, I wouldn't spend over a hundred pounds for a watch, but saying that I'd easily spend this on a dress for a special occasion so I suppose it just comes down to personal preference! If you are looking for a good quality, classy and elegant watch and don't mind spending a bit of cash then I would definitely recommend this model.
~*~ HTC Wildfire ~*~
After bragging about how indestructible Nokia's are for many years, the inevitable finally happened - I drowned my Nokia, and it stopped working for good. It seems touch phone Nokia's aren't as easily repairable as the old fashioned phones, unfortunately. Luckily, a friend of mine was getting rid of his HTC after only having it for a couple of months, so I (reluctantly) got this one for an extremely reasonable price, with the intention of just keeping it for a month or so until my contract expired and I could get my own new phone. I've been a loyal Nokia user for as long as I can remember and the thought of using a different brand actually close to terrified me (yes, I am stuck in my ways...).
~*~ The look ~*~
On first glance, this phone looks very similar to an iPhone. It is, however, a smaller, sleeker and lighter version of the iPhone. This particular model is silver with black touch screen button fuctions. The phone goes in to 'sleep' mode if not in use and has to be reactivated by pressing the button on the top of the phone (this took me a long time to work out!).
~*~ The specifications ~*~
I'm not going to give the full specifications as these can be found listed on the HTC site, but a general overview of the main points:
Weight - 118g including battery.
Pinch to zoom technology as on the iPhone - I must admit however, that the iPhone wins on this feature, the function on them just works more effortlessly. With the Wildfire it can be slightly hit or miss.
5 megapixel colour camera - I wouldn't personally need anything more than this from a camera on a phone. I've uploaded pictures from my phone to my computer and the quality is good.
System: Windows. This is an Android phone and it is recommended the system used with it is Windows 7, XP or Vista.
~*~ The Apps ~*~
Applications are able to be downloaded from the 'Market' in much the same way as iPhone apps are. There are a large number of free applications. There have only been a couple available on the iPhone that I have not been able to find for Android, however I'm sure this will be changing soon as the phones become more and more popular.
~*~ My favourite parts ~*~
* HTC Caller ID - once linked the phone shows the callers Facebook status.
* The flashlight and app - perfect for when you drop something on a night out, or quietly trying to find the keyhole when coming home tipsy!
* The intelligent 'ringer' - the ring volume is automatically lower when the phone is picked up, and mutes when the phone if placed face down, ideal for discreetly ignoring calls!
~*~ The problems I've had ~*~
My main niggle with this phone is the insanely long time it takes to turn on once it has been turned off. I'm not sure if it is designed not to be turned off, but I don't do it anymore!! It does feel quite glitch-y for a while after it has been restarted, which is quite annoying.
The only other problem I have had with this phone is with the graphics in some games. Unfortunately it just doesn't seem to be able to keep up with the iPhone on this one, and this has resulted in it shutting down several games I have attempted to play just seconds after they have began, I assume as it cannot handle the graphics in the apps.
Apart from these little niggles, the phone delivers very well!
~*~ The price ~*~
You can pick one of these up for around £140 from places such as Carphone Warehouse and Argos. Asda is currently the cheapest retailer that I can find for this phone, at £129.00. If buying as a contract phone, this phone is generally free and some very good deals can be found package wise.
~*~ The verdict ~*~
All in all, this phone has surprised me - I really like it! I like the fact that so much of the phone can be personalised. It's sturdy (of course, I have dropped it a fair few times already) and hasn't had any major problems in the time I've had it.
Overall, I'd definitely recommend this to someone looking for a reasonably priced smartphone!
~*~ Acer Aspire 3690 ~*~
I bought this laptop four years ago when I started University. At the time, I was a loyal desktop computer user and really didn't want to take the laptop plunge, but there was no room for a 'proper computer' in my room so it had to be done. I purchased my Acer for a bargain price, just over £200. At the time I only expected to keep it for a year or so, until my student loan allowed me to get something better. Four years later, I'm still using it!
~*~ The problems I've had ~*~
This laptop has been through a lot with me - it's drank several cups of tea, a cocktail or two and a bowl of spaghetti hoops, and I'm amazed to say that this hasn't phased it at all! I've simply turned it upside down to let it drain, given it a few days and each of the times it has made a fully recovery on it's own. Brilliant!!
The one problem I have had is with the battery, it no longer holds the battery and has to be left plugged in constantly or it runs out in a matter of minutes which is quite annoying but I believe it is normal to need these replaced every couple of years for laptops.
Barring the battery the only other problem I have had with my Acer is with keys sticking, however, this is purely my own fault as I have eaten, drank (and on some occasions slept on) my laptop!
~*~ The spec ~*~
This laptop has a 1.6GHz Intel Processor and 512MB RAM (can hold a maximum of 2GB, I had mine upped straight away). It has a 60GB hard drive which wasn't bad at the time but obviously now you expect a lot more for your money.
As far as burning CD's goes, there is a write speed of 24x (CD) and 8x for DVD which is quite slow but you get used to it, just leave it to it and make a cup of tea! I'm not going to go any further into the specifications as these can all be found online and to be honest not much else makes any sense to me so there's no point me even trying to explain it to someone else!
~*~ Who would I recommend it to? ~*~
This laptop is ideal for someone who just needs to use it to surf the internet, read emails and type up reports and work, so it makes it good for students like me. I'd definitely buy this one again if I went back in time. The laptop is sturdy, efficient enough for what I use it for and has not let me down once in four years, so I'm very happy, especially considering what a bargain price I got it for!
I wouldn't recommend it to someone who is looking to do gaming on the laptop, as it won't keep up with what is on the market these days. However, if you see one going cheap on eBay (and you will...) and are looking for a reliable laptop for general use, this would be ideal.
~*~ My Tesco Kettle! ~*~
I seem to have big problems with electrical appliances - I either blow them up, drop them, or in the case of mobile phones, drown them. So, after killing my beloved kettle (it was one of those super sexy ones that the light changes colour when its boiling - I shall be reviewing that later!) I went on the search for a suitable replacement. If you're interested, I killed the previous kettle by overfilling it one too many times. I've learned my lesson.
~*~ The kettle ~*~
The kettle is stainless stell with black plastic edging and looks like pretty much every other stainless steel kettle - although not as sexy as some of the more expensive models. It is 2.2kW and is cordless. I don't think I could survive with a corded kettle now (especially with my clumsy ways). It has a capacity of 1.7L capacity, I get about five good sized mugs of tea out of it if that makes it easier to judge the capacity.
~*~ The competition ~*~
Tesco offers a rane of own brand kettles, including a white plastic version (for under a fiver!) and a stainless steel traditional style kettle (the short, fat round ones) which is currently selling for £14.69. I'm not a big fan of these types of kettles, and it was more expensive so I didn't go for that one. The one that I did like the look of, however, was the illuminating kettle for just under £18 - this is the type like my old one that lights up a different colour when it is boiling.
~*~ The price ~*~
This is currently selling for £9.97 at Tesco, which I think is a bit of a bargain considering I paid over £40 for my last one! This is one of the best prices I've seen for a stainless steel kettle which is why I went for it, and considering its style I think it really is a steal!
~*~ The good bits ~*~
The best bit about this kettle is, for me, the price. I couldn't bring myself to part with (a dress) £40 for something to boil water with again and was therefore looking for the cheapest option that wouldn't look out of place in my kitchen (all my appliances are stainless steel) and also didn't look too cheap or tacky, and this one fit the bill!
The kettle also appears to be quite durable (I haven't managed to break it yet!) and being cordless is very handy.
~*~ The bad bits ~*~
Stainless steel can be a nightmare to clean - it shows up every little finger print, bit of dust or dirt instantly and then takes ages to remove! However, for those of you that dont know, vinegar does absolute wonders for cleaning this material. I apply undiluted vinegar to a piece of kitchen roll, wipe at all the marks and the whole surface and then rinse. Then, wipe again with a dry piece of kitchen roll and you are left with a brand new shiny kettle... and hands that will smell of vinegar for days.
The other bad bit of this kettle that took a while to get used to is the fact that you cant see how much water you have put in. Obviously you can judge, but there is no indication like there is on many kettles of how much water you've put in and how many cups of tea that will make (or coffee... I do love tea though...).
~*~ My verdict ~*~
I've been very pleased with the performance of this kettle! Ok, so it isn't the sexiest kettle on the market, but for that price what can you expect? It does the job and fits in nicely with my kitchen so I am, overall, very happy!
~*~ My D&G Watch ~*~
I absolutely love designers. Designer shoes, designer clothes, designer bags... I could happily spend all day walking around Selfridges or Harrods stroking the soft leather Chanel's and trying on Louboutin's. Not ever purchasing anything, of course, but one day... Designer watches, however, is not something I've ever been into. Or watches in general for that matter. I think I kind of like living my life not knowing what the time is, work seems to go quicker that day, and if you dont know what the time is, whats the point of rushing home when you might actually be early?
This watch was a present from one of my best friends. Personally, I would have preffered a nice bottle of champagne but this is what I got. And it's the thought that counts, right?
~*~ The style ~*~
The watch is stainless steel and the (what would be a) band is made up of lots of circles, and also the 'D&G' logo outline, which is also decorated with crystals. On the watch face (which is also shaped like a 'D', there are lots of crystals outlining it and another quite large D&G logo. You definitely wouldn't have a problem guessing the designer of this one! There are no numbers on the product, which I like in a watch, I think it looks more stylish.
The box that the watch comes in is quite impressive - elegant, sleek and classy with leather inside which makes it perfect as giving as a gift. I was really excited just feeling the box as it really does feel luxurious.
~*~ The price ~*~
The average price is around £129 for one of these. At the moment there are a couple on Ebay for a bit cheaper (around £100). You can pick one up from most jewellers (online is probably the best bet) as well as from Amazon.
~*~ Everything else ~*~
The watch comes with a free 2 year guarantee which is very handy if you are a bit of a clumsy one (like me!). I've had a quick look around the internet and it appears that the guarantee differs depending on where you purcahse the watch from but some sort of guarantee is, well, guaranteed - the minimum I found was one year.
The watch is apparently water resistent to 30m, but I haven't tested this out yet and I don't think I will be! It weighs 56 grams and has a maximum strap length of 21.5cm.
~*~ My overall opinion... ~*~
The watch is.... well, it's OK. It's not something I would have chosen myself - it's a bit too bling for me. I like the design of the watch band, the circles make it a little bit different and I like that. However, I think the 'D&G' logo is a bit too big and makes it a bit too showy.
The watch is adjustable and fits me nicely, the only thing I would say is that it does feel a bit chunky on my wrist (even though it isn't at all) which may be something to do with the design and circles. As far as time keeping goes, it's perfect. I've had a lot of watches that lose time every week or so, but I've never had to reset this one, so I can't fault it there.
Overall I think the watch is good, but just not to my taste personally. It's a good design and durable, and the overall package with the gift box and warranty makes it a little bit special. If you like jewellery that is a bit 'bling-y' then this may be one for you!
~*~ Operation Sunshine ~*~
Ah, another free book with a glossy magazine. That's what I like to see. As I've mentioned in previous reviews, I rarely buy a book from brand new, unless its something I have been absolutely dying to read for a long time. This results in me ending up with piles of chick lit novels either given away free with magazines (in this case, Cosmo), or picked up for 50p in a charity shop. 'Operation Sunshine' was the latest of these finds, and one which accompanied me on my most recent holiday - amongst others!
~*~ Jenny Colgan ~*~
Jenny Colgan is a moderately well known author who has published seven bestselling novels - the most recent of these being one titled 'West End Girls'. I personally had not heard of Jenny Colgan before, but decided to give her a go anyway. Jenny is married with two children and lives in London, which I think is a crucial factor when writing about London. I cannot stand reading books written set in London by authors who clearly have no idea about the city.
~*~ The plot ~*~
This book is based around Evie, a medical secretary who works in Harley Street. She hasn't been on a holiday in forever, and the last one she did manage to take didn't really go too well. Evie tries her best to convince her friends to come with her, but has no such luck. However! Soon in, Evie manages to bag a 'holiday' to the South of France with the plastic surgeons she works for to assist with 'Operation Sunshine'. Along with her come her friend - who is actually not very nice - the gorgeous Lydia, also a medical secretary, and her best friend Bailey, who is playing a large part in the operation also.
The book is based around Evie and her search for love and fun times on holiday in the South of France whilst also trying to come over a few significant issues that arise.
~*~ It's good because... ~*~
It's a very lighthearted book and is easy to read. It is actually a very enjoyable read, and I manage to read it from cover to cover in just a few days, which shows how much I enjoyed it.
Whilst the book has its predictable parts, there are a good number of twists in it that make it much less predictable than your usual chick lits. I wont give too much away, you'll have to read to find out what I'm talking about...
The plot is also very unique as far as the setting and the theme go, and unlike any other chick lit novel I have ever read before, which gives it bonus points.
~*~ It's bad because... ~*~
As much as I hate to admit it, this book is very cheesey and in many parts quite unbelievable. Ok, so there is a possibility that some of the strange happenings (such as what is being carried out on the boat that no one can know about - intruiged?) could happen. Maybe. One day. But its not an everyday thing, and that makes it a bit hard to get caught up in the book and the characters.
Another disadvantage is that the book doesn't really have much mystery to it, and you are definitely not going to learn anything from reading it. That's not what I look for in a book,but if you are looking for an educational read then this one is probably not for you.
~*~ The price ~*~
As I mentioned before, I got my copy for free, but the RRP for this is £6.99. You can pick up a copy from Amazon or Ebay at the moment for around £3 which I think is a good price. However, as always look around in charity shops first!
~*~ The verdict ~*~
A nice little summer read. I wouldn't say the book is worth it's high RRP price tag, but I wouldn't have been too dissapointed if I had paid a few pounds for it. If you like girlie books then this may be one for you. I'd describe Jenny Colgan's writing style as a slightly worse version of Marian Keyes (who I think is brilliant by the way), so if you like Marian Keyes, you may like this....
~*~ Dyson DC19T2 ~*~
I'm a bit of a bargain hunter, and hate spending more than is necessary on boring products such as irons, washing machines and, yes, vacuum cleaners. I'd much rather spend the money on a nice pair of Choo's (I wish!) or, to be more honest, a dress from Topshop. So, when my partner suggested investing in a Dyson when our poor little hoover packed up, I was not very enthusiastic, to say the least.
I've had a Dyson before, an upright version and yes, it was a good vacuum cleaner, but I can't remember it being so amazing that it was worth the amount of money spent on it. However, my other half persisted and we ended up spending over £200 on the DC19T2 'Animal'. On a vacuum cleaner?! Humph.
~*~ It's appearance ~*~
I must say, on opening the box, I was very impressed with the Dyson's appearance. It just has a clean look about it which I love and is very well made and sleek. This model consists of a small cylinder which is the main body, and the pipe attaches to a clip on the back which makes it look a lot more compact. This is probably my favourite thing about this model. It definitely looks a lot more up-to-date than the upright versions, and is good if you haven't got much space to spare as well.
~*~ The boring bit (Ok, the specifications) ~*~
280 AW (Air watts) suction power - doesn't mean a whole lot to me, but to give you an example, if you hold the hoover on say a door mat it can be extremely hard to get off. I wouldn't want to accidentally go near my hamster with it turned on, put it that way.
Cleaner head - dual mode floor tool. This makes it ideal for using on different surfaces - carpet and wooden floors. This is perfect for me as I have all wooden floors downstairs and carpet upstairs.
Bin capacity - 2 litres. This is quite a lot. I love the fact with Dyson's that you get to see how much you have picked up. My dog sheds so much that I can hoover on a daily basis and probably still get a full cylinder the next day. Which is not so good if you have to leave it for a couple of days! The cylinder is extremely easy to remove and to clean, simply pop it off, empty it in the bin and start again. My favourite thing about having a Dyson, I absolutely hate changing bags in other vacuum cleaners and all the problems that go with them!
Accessories - Stair tool and combination tool. These are just there to make your life a little bit easier and to get into those harder to reach places. A good little extra.
Weight - Approx 8kg. A good weight for me, I find it very easy to carry up and downstairs, something I've previously had difficulty with, with other cleaners.
~*~ The price ~*~
Currently on sale from the Dyson website for £219.00. This includes free delivery and a 5 year guarantee which is very impressive. If you purchase this model from the Dyson website, there is currently a special offer running in which you get a free car cleaning kit worth £50.00 with your purchase. So if you are looking to buy, now is a good time! Dixons, however are currently selling the same product for just over £170, which is quite a significant saving (they also offer free delivery). As always, its worth shopping around to ensure you get the best possible buy.
~*~ My opinion... ~*~
As you can probably tell from this review, I was initially extremely reluctant to purchase this Dyson. However, I have been so impressed with it's performance that I am now actually really glad that I took the plunge. The cleaner is so good at getting into those hard to reach places and it makes cleaning up after my nightmare of a dog (love her really) so easy. This little Dyson is very light and compact, and it's size makes it ideal for doing the stairs. It is small enough to just sit on a step, so you dont have to attempt to do any strange manouvers in which you are balancing the cleaner on one arm whilst vacuuming with the other - slightly dangerous!
As far as noise goes, I'd say this is pretty average, maybe edging slightly towards the quieter side but I may be saying that due to the absolute beast of a vacuum cleaner I owned before this one!
Overall, I have been very impressed with the performance of this cleaner and would definitely reccommend it to those about to purchase a Dyson. If you can bear sacrifcing a few shopping trips that is.
~*~ Superdrug Early Pregnancy Test ~*~
Whether you are trying for a baby or have simply had a scare, it can be the longest few days of your life when you think you are pregnant, waiting for the time you would be due to have your period before you can take a test. Superdrug have attempted to make our lives that little bit easier by introducing their Early Pregnancy Test.
~*~ When can it be used? ~*~
This test can be used up to four days before your period is due to provide accurate results. Remember no pregnancy test is 100% accurate, so if you aren't convinced by the results it's always worth doing another test or paying your doctor a visit.
The test works by detecting the amount of pregnancy hormone present in your urine. The amount of hormone naturally increases as pregnany continues which makes the test more likely to be accurate the further along in the pregnancy you are, therefore it is more likely to be more accurate if you take it on the date of your missed period or after this date.
~*~ The price ~*~
£3.99 for a single test, which is reasonable considering Clear Blue and First Response tests will set you back almost a tenner.
~*~ My experience ~*~
The test is very easy to use, and identical to tests a lot of you will have previously taken. Basically, you pee on the stick, put the cap back on and wait for 3 minutes to see the result. In my experience the results have always come up a lot quicker, in perhaps 20 to 30 seconds, but I always wait for the full three minutes in case it switches or something - I know that's probably not likely to happen! The instructors show you diagrams of what the screen will read if you are pregnant, not pregnant, or if the test has not worked. The diagram is very easy to follow which is good, there is not really much chance of you getting things wrong there!
In this particular instance I was hoping I wasn't pregnant... I was six months away from taking my final University exams, and couldn't face the thought of doing them with knowing I was about to become a mum! Luckily, the test came back negative which was a big relief for me. I'm looking forward to the day when I am staring at a test praying for it to show back positive, but that wont be happening any time soon!
~*~ The verdict ~*~
A very good, inexpensive and accurate test from Superdrug. I've purchased this test a few times and it has always given me the correct results (as far as I'm aware!). It's easy to use, discreet and the price is good. Definitely would recommend.
~*~ I Heart New York ~*~
I love a good girly book, so when I went away recently for a lovely long beach break, I took a huge stash of new, very easy reading books to keep me occupied whilst I was sunbathing. 'I heart New York' was one of these.
~*~ Why did I buy it? ~*~
Well, to be perfectly honest, I didn't. My copy came free with my monthly Glamour magazine purchase, and at just £2 was an absolute bargain. I love the fact that around summer time all the glossy magazines tend to give away trashy reads or chick lit, they really do plan it perfectly!
~*~ The Plot ~*~
The front of the book gives you the little snippet, "When you're running away from heartbreak, there's only one place to go", which gives you a pretty good idea of what the book is about. Basically, the story is about Angela, a girl in her almost-late-twenties, who has just caught her fiancee cheating on her in the back of a car. At her best friends wedding. And it appears everyone around her knew it was happening. Every girls worst nightmare, I should imagine. Instead of indulging in the using sixteen tubs of ice cream, cutting his shirts open and killing his mother (ok, maybe that one is a bit less common), Angela decides to go to New York, and see what happens. And a lot does...
~*~ Why it is good ~*~
I liked the fact that Angela, instead of being the usual pitiful cheated on girlfriend, takes things into her own hands and does something productive to try to make her life better. She takes herself away from the situation which I can imagine is probably the best thing to do in such a situation. I know if I'd have done it I'd have saved a few very embarrasing phone calls and drunken messes. I guess whilst reading the book I kind of saw Angela as a bit of an idol, and I'd love to see myself as being able to be as brave as her if I even found myself in such a situation.
~*~ Why it is not so good... ~*~
Of course, there are bad bits with this book as well. As you can probably tell, it's a bit of a cheesey read. It's also very, very predictable, you can tell from about halfway through what is going to happen (even though there are a few good bits of the plot, unfortunately there are no surprises). It is also hard to believe that a person could go to New York so effortlessly and have no worries about spending the amount of cash she does - for example on Marc Jacobs bags and purses, a whole new wardrobe and a new make-up bag, with no home, no income and, potentially, no way of getting home.
~*~ The author ~*~
This book is written by Lindsey Kelk, who has been writing since she was six years old! She has written her fair share of novels, but, most relevant are the next two in the series 'I love Paris' and 'I love Hollywood'. I haven't read these two yet, perhaps if Glamour decides to bang those out free then I will...
~*~ The website ~*~
This book has its own website, dedicated solely to its title. Find it at www.iheartnewyork.co.uk. It's actually an excellent website, which contains Angela's blog, details of the other books and a chance to win a trip to Paris - so definitely worth checking out!
~*~ The price ~*~
You can currently pick up a copy from ebay or Amazon for around £2.70 including postage. Have a look around your local charity shops though if you are interested as free books like these often end up hanging around them for a good few years after they have been released!
~*~ The verdict ~*~
I enjoyed reading this book. Ok, it wasn't very taxing and it was predictable, but it was a fun read and I am glad I took it on holiday with me. Reading that book hasn't made me want to go out and purchase the other two in the series but if I saw them in a charity shop I'd definitely give them a go.
I'm very impressed with the website dedicated to the book. I am also very impressed with the whole package that comes with the book, such as the little guide to New York at the book, which gives it a personal little touch that I love. Overall, a good light little read that I can see being made into a girlie film and time soon!
~*~ Jenga! ~*~
Ah, another old classic!
This game is described as a 'game of physical and mental skill'. It was designed by a man named Leslie Scott but is now sold under the Hasbro label. The game consists of, very simply, lots of wooden blocks and... well, thats it! Fifty four of the blocks are included in each Jenga pack, however if you lose a couple you dont have to worry too much as it wont really affect the overall game.
~*~ The aim of the game ~*~
To set up, you basically place three of the blocks lengthways on the floor and then place three blocks widthways on top of these. Continue in the same way until all blocks have been used up and a tower has been made. Each player then has a turn in taking a block from the tower without touching any other blocks, and then placing it on top of the tower. The idea is to remove the block and place it on top without the tower falling down, and it obviously gets harder and harder the longer the day goes on.
~*~ The good bits ~*~
The game is very easy to set up, there are no fiddly little parts which is good - no messing around when its time to set up the game again! It is also very easy to understand so its a good one to play with young children. It's a good laugh and can get quite nail biting, with the tension building up as the tower gets higher and higher.
~*~ The bad bits ~*~
The only slight draw back of this game, if I'm being picky, is the having to rebuild of the tower once it collapses, which can be annoying if it falls early in the game. Apart from that, however, I have no furter criticisms!
~*~ The price ~*~
Currently being sold for £10 on Amazon, and a penny less at Argos. As always with these sort of games, its worth looking around the charity shops before making a purchase because you always see them lying around and you could grab yourself one for only a couple of quid!
~*~ The verdict ~*~
This is an excellent little game and definitely worth having in the back of your cupboard for when friends or kids come round! To mix things up a bit, we often play Jenga as a drinking game (e.g. the loser has to drink a shot, or buy the next round of drinks). With Jenga becoming increasingly popular in pubs and bars (have any of you spotted one lurking in a pub yet?) it was inevitable this would happen! If you've never played you must go out and buy immediately!!
~*~ Ker Plunk! ~*~
I remember being a huge fan of this game when I was younger so when I got the opportunity to own the game again (I found it in a charity shop for the bargain price of £2.50!) I decided it had to be done. I was originally looking for another one of my old school classics, Jenga, but I just couldn't resist!
~*~ The aim of the game and how to play ~*~
The game consists of a large plastic circle which is filled with holes, plastic sticks and lots of marbles. To set up, each of the sticks have to be fed as evenly as possible through each of the holes in the base circle. The marbles are then poured on top of the sticks, and automatically balance on the sticks.
The aim of the game is to then go round in a circle removing sticks without also removing marbles. The player with the least amount of marbles in their pile at the end is the winner!
~*~ The good ~*~
This is a very easy game to play and can therefore be played with children of all ages. It is a visual game and its fun watching the marbles fall down (if they fall on someone elses turn, of course!) The rules are also very simple which again makes it perfect when playing with young children.
~*~ The bad ~*~
The game does take a long time to set up - each of the sticks have to be individually inserted, and it can be quite a pain if you are playing a few times. Also, I have found that if left to their own devices, children can be extremely noisy playing this game!! A final disadvantage is, with all the parts, pieces can easily go missing.
~*~ The specifics ~*~
For 2 -4 players, if you have more people than this consider playing in teams.
Manufacturers recommend for ages 5+
Average game time: 15 minutes apparently but in my experience a lot less!
~*~ The price ~*~
A new version of the game is currently being sold on Amazon for £13.49 new, or from £5.49 used. The original version is being sold for an astonishing £39.99 on the same site from new (maybe I'll sell my one now!) However, I have seen old versions floating around on ebay, and you might even be able to grab a bargain like me if you look around charity shops!
Definitely worth a go!
I'm one of those people that doesn't deal very well with change. I've always been a loyal Nokia owner, largely due to their amazing resistance to be dropped (on concrete, off shelves, into water) - yes I am a very clumsy individual! I was, therefore, distressed rather than excited when I realised that, on renewing my phone contract, the only way I could keep with the times was by getting a touch screen model. I'm not bothered about being trendy but when I renew my contract I always want to get the best phone on offer - well, I'm paying for it through my huge phone bills so I don't want to be ripped off! Anyway, let's start with how I made my decision...
I started looking for the new addition to my handbag by browsing the Nokia site. I must admit, as loyal a Nokia owner as I am, I originally did want an iPhone. Yes, I was scared by them, but my other half has one and when he first got it I remember being absolutely amazed with all of the 'crazy' things it could do, the applications and so on - a whole new world in a shiny little package. I liked the look of this little phone as it kind of has the appearance of the iPhone, just smaller and thinner (and, OK admittedly, maybe not quite as good and without the whole status thing attached to it). I was drawn to this phone as it is quite a sexy little model!
I'm not going to run you through every single detail as if you want to know that, you will just look on the website. But, just a few little bits - this phone has a 3.2 inch touch screen (which I find to be the perfect size to get enough information on it for web page viewing etc without making it too big and bulky, 640 x 360 pixel resolution, and up to 16 million colours.
This phone boasts a 3.2 mega pixel camera, which I shall discuss again in a minute. It also comes with a little stylus - you don't pay seperately for this as you do with some other phones. It has all the standard features you would expect such as MMS, SMS and email functions as well as voice dialing. The phone has a good media player that allows for playlists to be created and music to be sorted by genre/artist/etc, which is a nice little feature that I have just started using. This phone also allows you to download applications, like the iPhone, many of which are free.
This phone has a 3.2 mega pixel camera built in which is pretty good going for a phone camera, however some of their older models have much better quality in-built cameras so I'm not quite sure why they decided to downgrade for this phone. Anyway, the picture quality is good for amateur photos and I've not really had a problem with it. The one thing I will say about the camera, however, is that it is quite slow - it takes a good few seconds for the camera to load up when you press the button, but that's just me being picky.
How often can you drop it?
Apparently, very regularly. I've dropped this phone at least 10 times (and I mean proper, from a height drops, not little drops - they dont count!) and the phone as, as yet, unharmed and working as new! I haven't dropped it in water yet but I'm not going to try that for the purpose of this review - I'm sure it will happen eventually though (it has been the case with all of my past phones!) so I shall update this as and when!
Ease of use
This is one of the things I was most worried about when getting a touch screen phone. However, I had nothing to worry about! Nokia have been very good and less technology aware buyers need not panic! The layout is kept as similar as possible to a standard Nokia phone, and the menu can easy be changed to a basic format if you want to. Even I worked it out without having to read the instructions, so anyone should be able to work that out. The phone scrolls easily, and comes with a little pen which is great if you want to prevent dirty finger marks and smudges on the screen, however I never use it (if I did I'd only lose it to be honest...) and it isn't really needed. The touch screen isn't as sensitive as the iPhone and doesn't have that little bit of, well, 'sparkle' as Carrie would say, but it does the job.
Comes With Music!
This is probably my favourite part of the phone, and at first I thought it was too good to be true! This model comes with 12 months of free music downloads from the Nokia Music Store, which you can access via your phone or from your computer. This is an absolutely brilliant service - I regularly use my phone to download music directly to it, and it takes only a few seconds. The Nokia Music Store is excellent and has a very good selection of music, from new releases and chart hits to older, more obscure tunes. Pretty much anything you would want should be on there. I was very surprised with this part, as I thought there was going to be a catch, but there really isn't!
** The comes with music is not sold with every one of these 5800's it will specify if it is so check before you buy! **
I never pay for phones, I only ever upgrade with my contract - if I saw a phone I liked the look of which I couldn't get for free I simply wouldn't get that model! However, if you are looking to purchase this phone on pay as you go, you can pick one up for around £160 - around half the price of an iPhone.
I am very pleased with my Nokia! The phone has managed to allow me to move with the times into the world of touch screen easily, without making it too scary for me! Now I've had this as a touch screen, I don't think I could go back to using an ordinary, non-smart phone. It really does make life easier, even if it's just having the ability to check emails on the way to work, that sort of thing. The comes with music function of this phone is also brilliant and has proved to be much more rewarding than I imagined. Compared to an iPhone, this product is not as sexy, but it does the job just as well. Applications are available to download, including many that are provided for the iPhone. I also find the phone a lot easier to use than the iPhone, due to its size and sleekness - it is much easier to fit in the palm of your hand which I think is quite important (particularly when attempting not to drop!). Overall, I would definitely recommend individuals looking to venture into the world of touch screen phones to give this one a look!
~*~ Ask! ~*~
Ask restaurants are 'the leading name in the UK casual dining market', according to their website. They have over 100 restaurants scattered across the UK, so there is bound to be one near you somewhere! Ask are an Italian restaurant that serve a variety of pizza and pasta dishes, amongst many other favourites!
~*~ The menu ~*~
Let's start with the most obvious shall we? On the menu you will find something to suit everyone. Starters include cod and pancetta fishcake, bruschetta, garlic breads and olives, to name a few. On the menu are a variety of salads (although why someone would go to a restaurant and order a salad is beyond me!) and then more traditional Italian meals.
Pasta dishes include spaghettis, raviolis and penne's and cater for meat eaters and vegetarians alike. The vast selection of pizza's, including a fresh egg and spinach, king prawn, tuna and anchovy and many more well known varieties. Also on the menu are burgers, chicken breast, risotto, salmon and beef dishes.
~*~ The prices ~*~
To give you an idea of the prices I've taken a few samples from the menu:
Garlic bread - £3.75
Bruschetta - £4.45
Calamari starter - £4.95
Penne del Giardino - vegetarian pasta dish - £8.25
Salmon with butter beans, new potatoes - £11.95
ASK burger with sides - £9.95
Margerita pizza - £6.25
Chocolate cake - £4.95
Selection of ice cream - £3.75
Very good prices, definitely not one that's going to break the bank!
~*~ The food quality ~*~
I have eaten in this restaurant a number of times at locations across the UK including in Manchester and London, and each time have been satisfied with the quality of food. Ok, so don't expect five star quality food, but it is satisfactory and definitely good enough quality for the price range.
I highly recommend the bruschetta starter which is marinated tomatoes, onions and basil with olive oil on toasted bread which really starts a meal off nicely. For a main, the last time I went I tried the salmon which was really fresh and natural tasting, definitely a good choice especially for those dieters out there! My other half had the burger last time and was very satisfied with it, and he can be a fussy one food wise! As for pizzas, the one I mentioned earlier with the egg and spinach is surprisingly good. I'm not usually very adventurous with food but was recommended this by a friend and have had two since!
As far as desserts go, the one and only dessert I will recommend is the chocolate nemesis - a gorgeous chocolate pudding with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream - absolutely gorgeous, but again not for those calorie counters out there!
~*~ Offers ~*~
This restaurant always seems to have some sort of offer going on. Those on at the moment include a 3 course set weekend menu for just £12.95. This menu includes starters of a garlic bread, mushroom dish or salad, main of a variety of pizza and pasta dishes (including vegetarian options) and dessert of ice cream or apple rustica. Very good value, this deal can be found via: http://www.askweekendmenu.co.uk/
Also avaliable as an offer is the opportunity to eat for £1 (main meal only) when any other main meal is purchased. This offer can be found via: http://www.askrestaurant-offers.co.uk/
~*~ The verdict ~*~
A very nice little restaurant chain, ideal for a quick lunch or a nice dinner. Not the best restaurant you will ever visit and I doubt you'll be raving to your friends about it afterwards, but all the same a nice little place to go for an evening out. It is very similar to Italian restaurant chain Bella Italia, so if you like that then definitely worth giving this one a go!