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I have always enjoyed red wine and for many years I could drink anything from Hungarian Bulls Blood to a quality Fitou. It simply didn't matter. If the truth be known I suppose I didn't care much as long as it was red wine and a quality red was probably wasted on me anyway. However, as the years have gone by I have realised that very rough red wine gives me a headache and a stomach ache. By 'rough' I don't mean cheap because some very cheap wines can be excellent to drink. For a long time I was of the opinion that wine had to be French and red to be drinkable and a usually went for a Fitou. Then I discovered Hardy's Stamp which is distinctive as it has a big Australian stamp on the label. It's smooth, low in tannin and doesn't have too many sulphites which is what gives you a headache if you are susceptible to it. Hardy's does have an excellent name and I have always considered the brand to be reliable. I tried several Hardy's varieties and all were quite drinkable. At least that was the case until I bought Hardy's Voyage Classic Red from Asda. This was on offer at three bottles for ten pounds and I had no worries about it because it from a producer that I knew. As it happened, I found it undrinkable. This is a classic red from South Eastern Australia which contains sulphites and has a very strong tannin taste. The label says that it is vibrant and medium bodied with red and black berry fruit flavours and a long finish. To me it was heavy with a kind of metal taste and a heavy aroma of fermented fruit. Half a glass gave me a huge headache and I couldn't keep my eyes open. The rest of the bottle went down the drain and probably made a good job of cleaning it. The other two bottles were passed on as gifts. Someone else might like this wine, or perhaps they too will clean the drain with it. The point here is that I had confidence in the Hardy's brand when it came to selecting a red wine but now I am wary of trying other wines from their range except the Hardy's Stamp. Producing this cheap wine for Asda cartainly damaged their brand name in my eyes and I do wonder how many other people thought the same.
This is supposed to be an orange drink but it tastes sweet, a bit tangy, sugary and nothing like oranges. It contains saccharin to sweeten it and lots of different E numbers and, wait for it, two point five percent orange juice. I wonder if they had left all those chemicals out, they might have made it more cheaply by utilizing the natural stuff. Anyway, this stuff does not claim to be orange juice. It is an 'orange drink' made by Coca Cola in UK, under license from Atlantic Industries in US. The name itself comes from the Maori language and means 'be well, or healthy'. I would dispute the idea that drinking this stuff makes you healthy though. The saccharin in it is enough to put many people off drinking it. This is an orange squash which used to come in a glass bottle but now comes in a plastic one for safety and to make it lighter to carry. This needs to be diluted with water before drinking, you cannot drink it straight from the bottle, nor would you want to. This stuff used to contain lots of sugar and became unpopular as a drink for children because of the connection between sugar and tooth decay. However, they have now replaced most of the sugar with saccharin, although it is debatable as to whether this is any more healthy. Personally I do not drink anything with saccharin in it because it doesn't agree with me, not because I have concerns about its safety. This squash tastes sticky and has a strange after taste which is no doubt what made me check the bottle to see what was in it. I had not checked the ingredients as I did not buy the squash to drink it myself. I prefer to pay a bit more and buy a bottle of the different Robinson's squashes that are available. At least I know that I like the taste.
Cottage pie is one of my favourites, so when I saw this in Tesco for just 85p I thought it was a real bargain. It just shows how wrong you can be and 85p is not a bargain if you can't eat the food you buy. I couldn't. This stuff they call cottage pie comes in a plastic dish (a very shallow one) with a film lid on it. The whole thing is them pushed into a cardboard cover with a picture of the meal on it. It didn't really look very appetising but cottage pie is cottage pie, or so I thought. According to the nutritional information there are 446 calories in this little dish which is quite a lot when you consider how small the meal is. This can be cooked in the oven or microwaved in 5 minutes depending on your microwave's power settings. I removed the film lids but it torn and refused to come away from the edges of the plastic dish. I didn't fancy leaving it on in case it melted so I took a knife and scratched away at it until it was all off. Not a very safe thing to do! The smell was okay as this cooked and I was soon preparing to dive into it with a fork. At first I wasn't keen but I continued to eat thinking that I was just being fussy because this was so cheap. The gravy was thick and sloppy and there was hardly any meat. I certainly found a few hard bits of gristle stuff and some fat lumps but that was all. I dread to think what was minced up to make this cottage pie. In among this were a few minutes bits of carrot and about four peas (yes, I did count them). The potato was okay and it was kind of creamy but mixing it with the fatty grisly stuff and sloppy gravy made it inedible too. Once I started to think about what might have gone into making this stuff I couldn't eat any more so I gave it to my dog. His verdict: 'Oh yeah! Great! Thanks.' My verdict: 'Yuk!' I know this was cheap and perhaps, to be fair, I had it in my mind that it would be very poor quality and that probably made my reaction to it worse. However, I still think it was a waste of money. Even if I had paid half the price for it, I still would have been disappointed and I certainly will never buy any Tesco Value products containing meat again. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind some of them but this was horrible.
I tend to shop in M&S for food when I want something extra special, especially at the weekend and I often buy their readymade Italian meals, especially the meatballs in spaghetti with sauce, or mousaka. These cost £3.68 each. Add to this bottle of M&S house wine, or French Froglet which is £4.99 a bottle and you already have the best part of £10 just to feed one person. So, the 'Dine in for £10' offer looked very attractive. I had a choice of mousaka for two, lasagne, or a whole chicken as a main course and a salad selection to serve with it, or some buttered vegetables ready prepared in a dish to go with the chicken. There were several gorgeous looking desserts to choose from and I chose the fresh cream trifle (being health conscious!) I know most people choose white wine with chicken but I chose red. (Everything is prepared for two people). This offer is available on Friday and Saturday on alternate weeks and has been running for a while, and there are usually three choices of main course, side dish and dessert. If some of the options run out, the staff adds other items to the offer. The quality of this food is excellent and at this kind of price it's a fantastic offer. For ten pounds you could not get better. I think Tesco do a similar offer for a pound less but I must say that I don't find their selection as tasty. This food is as good as you get when you go out and just look at the price. You can treat yourself at the weekend to a great dinner with wine for £5 each. I don't even think that buys a Chinese Takeaway. Certainly recommended especially the mousaka.
Until a few weeks ago I hadn't had chocolate buttons for many years. The ones I came across were part of a Cadbury Selection box and I had eaten the rest of the contents and thrown the chocolate buttons into a drawer. Anyway, the other night I suddenly had a chocolate craving and remember that I had put them in there. The purple bag was smaller than I had remembered and the buttons themselves are smaller and thinner than I had expected. This size of bag is around 40 pence in most shops and the buttons are about the same size as twenty pence pieces, but round. I find that they are not very satisfying eaten in ones and I prefer to eat them a few at a time. This may of course be because I'm greedy with them. These come in white, or milk chocolate flavours and there are giant buttons o the market, but the ones I had were the standard milk chocolate ones. For children these are ideal as they are not messy to eat and they are easy to handle, even for the tiniest of fingers. I also have to laugh at my dog because if I put a Cadbury's chocolate button on my hand and a dog choc, he will sniff them both, take the Cadbury's one and leave the other. Not really suitable food for a dog, but it proves that there must be a very big difference in the smell. As for the taste, well, dogs are no experts on that because they just swallow, so you will have to take my word for that; they are delicious, creamy chocolates. I have tried buying bags of loose chocolate buttons from sweetie stalls in the market but the taste is different. None of them taste like the Cadbury's ones.
I suffer from patches of eczema that are really irritating at times, especially at night and I am reluctant to use steroid creams, so when I saw this product advertised on the Hopes Relief web site I though it might be worth a try. I ordered it and within a couple of days received a round, 60g plastic pot with a blue label. It wasn't much for £13.95. According to the labelling this contains natural ingredients. Contents include: liquorice, calendula, Manuka honey, gotu kola and aloe vera. I have heard of aloe vera and even tried an aloe vera lotion to soothe my eczema but it had hardly any effect. Liquorice is used to lighten skin and has an anti inflammatory action and calendula is supposed to restore and condition the skin. Manuka honey has been used in the cosmetics industry for years and is said to be a good healer and to contain an anti biotic. Gotu kola has been used in Asia for thousands of years to treat psoriasis. Reading this list of ingredients and finding out about them all made me suspect that I had paid a lot of money for a little pot of moisturiser. Anyway, I tried it out and it was cooling and soothing at first, but any moisturising lotion would have done this for me. About ten minutes later my skin started to tingle and sting. I have no idea which of the ingredients caused the problem and I guess that it could have been any of them because eczema seems to be a skin condition that reacts and behaves differently in different people. So, it's back to my Aveeno cream which eases the problem considerably. I thought this cream was a waste of money. It is sold for eczema and psoriasis but it aggravated things for me. Maybe it is worth a try if you don't mind losing £13.95 (postage is free) because I have heard of people who say it helped them. I do wonder if a good skin moisturiser would have done the same thing though.
This fancy box appealed to me. Oh! I know! Caught by the marketers. It's a light fancy blue and red box with chocolate squares and what look like joss sticks printed on the front. It was also very light. They are made by Kraft. When I opened the box and managed to get the foil wrapper open too that was exactly what I found, twenty chocolate joss sticks. There is no other way to describe these. The sticks are very brittle and less that half the length (around six inches) has chocolate on it. The taste is ok but nothing spectacular but I found that eating half a dozen of these was no where near as satisfying as eating a couple of proper biscuits, chocolate, or otherwise. They are very crunchy but not the kind of thing that you can eat with your morning coffee because there is an overwhelming temptation to eat them all and then go looking for biscuits. I did think these were horrendously expensive. I had paid 99p for twenty chocolate stick that combined together might just about make two standard chocolate biscuits. These must be incredibly cheap for Kraft to make and I would love to know how much the packaging cost. I bet it was more that the biscuits. I really felt let down by this product. Although it tastes good, it is extremely poor value for money and it is the clever packaging, not to mention the TV advertising that draws you in. Somehow I don't see these being around very long but I might be wrong. For taste I would give them 6 out of 10 because they are nothing special, for quality of product just an average 5 and for value for money 3. Five pence per chocolate joss stick shaped biscuit is too expensive unless the product has something extra to off in terms of flavour.
Green and Black's Organic chocolate bars are what I call the chocolate experts chocolate bars. The variety pack of six is great for a change but I must admit that I associate Green and Black with dark chocolate, but that is probably because it is my favourite. In one of these fancy packs you get six chocolate bars in three different flavours. There are three milk chocolate ones and three dark. Each bar is wrapper separately and divided into twelve small squares. The milk ones (34% cocoa) are butterscotch, almond and plain milk flavours. I quite liked the almond one because you can actually taste the nuts, but the butterscotch variety is a bit too sweet and sickly for me. To be honest it reminded me of Caramac bars when I first tasted it. The milk chocolate one is just creamy light coloured chocolate which is perfectly edible but nothing amazing. The dark chocolate ones are all 70% cocoa solids and have a strong smell and a slightly bitter cocoa taste to them. The cherry one was delicious but I could not eat more than a couple of squares at a time. Ginger and dark chocolate is one of my favourites so I really enjoyed that, but the plain bitter and dark taste of the plain one is still my favourite. Dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids contains chemicals that can lift depression in some people. (Sitting on the sofa eating bars of it because you are depressed is not guaranteed to help the problem though!) I keep 70% cocoa solids Green and Black's chocolate in my fridge and find that a couple of squares can help to lift depression on dark days. It isn't a cure but I suffer from SAD and find that it does help. Buying these in a mixed pack works out at about a fiver for two hundred grams of chocolate. So, it is a very expensive way of doing it. I would not buy these again as it is better value buying single bars and I can live without the milk chocolate ones. Now, a mixed pack of dark chocolate might be a different matter.
Kallo Organic Vegetable stock cubes are excellent for making soup. This is what I buy them for. You get 6 fairly large cubes (well, they are more like slices than cubes but still bear the name 'cube') wrapper in foiled paper, inside a green card box. They cost about 88p to buy but it is a long time since I bought a box, so they may have gone up recently. Each eleven grams stock cube makes five hundred mils of stock. This makes an excellent base for cauliflower and potato soup, or even carrot. All you have to worry about is cooking and creaming the vegetables into the base with a blender. Better than instant packets of soup and just as easy. These cubes are slightly moist in texture so you can not crumble them into a mixture and they look greenish in colour. They have to be properly dissolved in very hot water. I believe there are different varieties of Kallo but I have only ever seen the vegetable variety in Tesco. These are suitable for vegetarians and are additive free, so a vegetable soup made with one of these and vegetables of your choice is both nutritious and tasty. There are 35 calories in one of these cubes once you add it to 500 mils of water, so if you are counting calories they are ideal. You can a great flavour for few calories. These could also be used for a stock to cook rice or pasta in if you like the extra flavour. I find traditional vegetable Oxo cubes too salty but the mixture of spice, herbs and seasoning in these is just right and I don't have to add any more seasoning. This, of course, depends on taste. I always buy these instead of my old brand because they give a far better flavour to stock than any other kind I have tried.
Tesco Value White Chocolate and Strawberry Cereal Bars come in a box of six. The box carries a picture of the bars and the usual Tesco Value label. Each bar is individually wrapped inside and the whole thing is a bit over package. When you take one of these out of the box it is disappointingly small and even the white wrapper is not very interesting. These would be better packed in a see through film. The bars are about as long as my index finger and I have very small hands, an inch wide and a quarter of an inch thick. Certainly not something you can get your teeth into. When you first bite into these they are chewy and slightly soft. There is a smell and taste of strawberries about these biscuits and they have more flavour than some brands which are more expensive. I am not sure where the white chocolate is in the bar but I did find a couple of bits that might have been chocolate. I'm not sure though. Each of these contains: 80 calories, 5.3 grams of sugar 1.3grams of fat So if you are health conscious one is enough. The main ingredients of these cereal bars is oat flakes, wheat flour and 12% strawberry flavoured pieces. These taste good and they are great value at the price but for me they contain too much sugar so I don't consider them very healthy. They taste very sweet but have a tang of fruit as well so they are likely to be popular with children but they are a bit small. Personally I would rather pay a little bit more and get a more substantial breakfast bar because there is always a temptation to eat two of these (or more).
Corsodyl is a mouthwash that comes in brown coloured plastic bottle with a screw top lid. It can be used as a mouthwash to alleviate ulcers, cuts, sore gums, etc inside the mouth, or as a gargle for a sore throat. I bought the aniseed flavoured variety from Wilkinson's and paid £3.89 for a three hundred mils bottle of it. I believe there is also a mint flavoured Corsodyl but I have not seen it in the shops, or tried it. The reason I used Corsodyl was to soothe mouth ulcers that had become very sore. The mouth wash did do the job and the ulcers had gone with a couple of days. However, I must admit that using this three times a day was not very pleasant. It tastes really awful and I honestly do not thin I could have used it as a gargle without gagging. That burning, bitter taste stayed in my mouth for ages afterwards and a cup of tea tasted foul, even an hour after using this. I also noticed that it had stained my teeth brown and brushing them did not remove the discolouration. I have been told that this could have something to do with the toothpaste I use as some bleaching agents make react with Corsodyl. This product is not really designed to be used as an everyday mouthwash. It is for infections and other conditions of the mouth and throat. I would buy this product again to treat mouth ulcers as it is very effective but I would not buy it for a sore throat or as a general mouth wash. An excellent product from the point of view of being effective but horrible to use. Maybe the mint one would be better if I could find it anywhere.
I have to admit that I failed to notice that Anchor has a loyalty points things going on where you can collect points for shopping bags, raincoats etc. It was reading another review on Dooyoo that pointed this out to me. I guess I just didn't notice. It certainly won't make me eat any more butter though. Anyway, back to my occasional craving for Anchor butter. Nothing tastes quite so good on toast, or crumpets, so that what I usually buy it for. I like the taste of this brand and do prefer salted butter. I have tried some of the cheap blended kinds like Tesco at 85p for 250 grams, or other unfamiliar brand names for a similar price. In fact if you look around you can get butter for less than you pay for decent olive oil spread. At £1 for a 250 gram block Anchor is certainly my first choice if I am in a butter eating mood. We have all seen the anchor butter adverts on TV and all those 'happy Anchor cows' dancing among the flowers and trees. Unfortunately this is designed to make the whole process of producing milk and butter look environmental friendly and 'very kind to animals'. Unfortunately the truth of the matter is very different. However, this type of advertising does not influence me negatively or positively to buy Anchor butter. So, if I buy butter I prefer to buy yellow butter and not that white Danish type. I do find that some white butter tastes kind of cheesy and I prefer the taste of the other type. I like my butter salted and reductions and special offers on butter as part of the supermarket wars will not make me change my brand. Real butter cup yellow butter is the only one I'll eat. I do wonder if this is an age thing, you know. I was always given yellow New Zealand butter as a child and I suppose some of those things kind of stick with you.
Magaluf and Palma Nova are situated very close to each other on the Island of Majorca, and it was Palma Nova that we stayed in. There was little happening in Palma Nova so a walk along the round to Magaluf was what we did most days. First of all there's a lovely beach with sand that is cleaned daily and obviously brought in from elsewhere by the lorry load. The palm trees on the long beach make it beautiful to look at. We wandered in and out of various cafes, bars and shops in Magaluf and found the usual MacDonalds, etc. It was nothing special. A bit like Blackpool in the sun really. We happened to mentioned that we had enjoyed our day in Magaluf to some younger guests who were staying in the same hotel as us. They warned us that it was not a place that we would enjoy at night time one the lager louts, night hawks, drunks and drug takers poured out onto the streets. We really didn't think it could be that bad and bought tickets to a gig at one of the bars. It was not until we started to walk back afterwards that we realised just what they had meant. There were drunks, fights, gangs of youths running up and and down the street, vomit all over the place. To be honest it was disgusting. Okay, there are areas of most big towns and cities that get like this at the weekend but this was all concentrated into a very small area. The streets are narrow, it's hilly and you can't avoid the trouble spots. Most hotels that we saw were surrounded by gangs of young people, drinking, swearing and shouting. Clearly they had just got up to enjoy the nightlife. It would have suited me many years ago, but not now. So, I would say that if you are young and looking for a boozing, clubbing type holiday, Magaluf would probably suit you. Otherwise it is fine in the day time but don't venture there at night. We really felt unsafe. Magaluf seems to be busy during the winter and summer, although we were told that at the height of the season it is a place for younger people who just want to go wild. I'm not saying that only this type of person goes to Magaluff but it doesn't take many to spoil it in such a small place. Ok, you might be younger than me and think Magaluf is a fabulous place but I don't go on holiday to have to avoid flying bottles, vomit and fights when I go out in the evening. Certainly not for me. I was just pleased that we were staying in much quieter Palma Nova.
It would be interesting to do an experiment and find out if you use more calories chewing one of these bars than you actually get from it. These things hang around in your mouth for ages and they are certainly not a quick snack, or a fast breakfast. WARNING: If you are short of time in the morning avoid trying to eat these. They may make you late for work! (LOL) Tesco Light Choices chocolate and orange cereal bars come in a cardboard box with a picture of the bars on the front. It does not look very exciting. Inside the box are six individually wrapped bars which weigh just twenty two grams each. (What a waste of packaging). All the usual nutritional stuff is printed on the box but the whole design of the packaging does nothing to make you want to buy them. The cost surprised me because they were £1.28 and for this kind of quality, or lack of it, that's expensive. When you first open the wrapper the cereal bar does not even smell appetizing. The taste in completely uninspiring too. They resemble the kind of cereal mix you might give to rabbits. There was a slight aroma of orange about them, I must admit, but I certainly could not taste it. The chocolate chips are very small and confined to a minimum which is thrown onto the top of the cereal bar. Well, it started on the top. I think I lost most of mine because they fell off onto the floor as I bit into the bar. The main problem with these is that they take so much chewing. They are very poor quality and do not taste nice. I would even say that the Tesco Value cereal bars at 89p for 6 are much better value and are actually edible. I would not buy these again.
I should have been suspicious when I saw these chicken goujons in Asda for just £1 for twenty but I got caught out once again. Chicken goujons are, as far as I'm concerned, pieces of chicken in crumbs, batter, or whatever but I really don't think these had ever been anywhere near a chicken, unless it was the beak, the feet, or the entrails. These were sold as party snacks but as far as I'm concerned they are just long chicken nuggets of the lowest quality. I cooked them in the oven at 200 degrees for 15 according to instructions but I couldn't eat them. They were hard and tasted of artificial flavourings of all kinds, not chicken. They ended up as supper for the dog. I have to admit that I am not fan of chicken nuggets anyway, unless they are made from proper chicken pieces and these things certainly are not. Yes, they are cheap if you can stomach them but if you stop to think just what might be mixed in with minimal amount of chicken, it can be quite off putting. I certainly wouldn't serve these at a party and was pleased that I discovered just how horrible they tasted when I was just serving myself. The dog approved but we all know what they eat...anything! Each one of these has 3.4 grams of fat and 56 calories. That's a lot of fat for what is supposed to be chicken. In my opinion these did not taste of chicken and the coating was dry and too hard once cooked. They were also quite greasy to eat. I would not recommend these unless you are used to eating very cheap chicken nuggets. They are certainly not something I would serve up as party food.