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jb899

jb899
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Member since: 03.04.2012

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    • More +
      19.04.2012 15:22
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      11.25 pence per pot, tastes alright, you can't really go wrong.

      Crème Caramel

      A crème caramel is basically a custard dessert with a top layer of soft caramel. Each portion is 100ml; in my opinion this is a decent size. After a large main meal, it is perfectly suited to have as a dessert its not too large, however after a smaller main meal then maybe two would be better to fill up. I like my desserts to be kind of elaborate and fancy and this is in no way shape or form extravagant - but you should remember they only cost 45p for a pack of 4, that's 11.25p each! Tesco's version has an extremely smooth texture, no chewing required, it is tastes okay but it is just a little boring. The actual crème part of the dessert does not have such a strong flavour, although you can taste a slight hint of vanilla, nothing else can really be identified, meaning it is a little bland, this is somewhat disappointing. The caramel sauce is definitely the dominant flavour; it is very slightly tangy but the flavour of caramel is certainly recognisable, I would go as far as saying that it's 'yummy'. It can be described as being very runny, extremely close to the consistency of water; this lets the product down a bit in my opinion. If it were a little thicker it would be more enjoyable, it is not too difficult to eat as it is but a straw would probably come in handy. It did not really have any strong smell, just a slight aroma of caramel. It looks quite cool and funky and will probably be appealing to young children because of its jelly like structure; it will wobble and slide around (maybe even off) the plate. I was surprised by how well the colours blend - starting with a dark caramel at the top down to a lighter custard colour towards the bottom, it looks somewhat appealing but it is still very simple.
      Packaging

      The packaging is really unassuming in line the Tesco Value range but it is completely functional, it's well sealed and easy peel to open. My only gripe is the ribbed pot, if you want to eat it straight out the pot (which I do because it saves me washing a bowl or plate) then it is somewhat difficult to scrape all of the dessert out because some gets caught of the ridges, especially the liquid at the bottom. But it is designed this way so it takes the shape of the traditional crème caramel, with the ribbed sides and caramel layer at the top. It can be taken out of the container very easily, to release it peal the lid off and pull the tab on the top, which simply lets air in, releasing the dessert. This was a fascinating feature when I was a little younger and will probably still entertain your young ones.
      Summary

      I will admit that I have a preconception about supermarket's own cut-price brands including Tesco Value products. I find most of these products to be of a lower quality than the bigger branded versions, though I do buy their tinned tomatoes, bakes beans, etc. I did enjoy eating this pack of four and considering the price and the taste I will definitely continue to buy this variety of crème caramel.

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      • Attack The Block (DVD) / DVD / 6 Readings / 6 Ratings
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        08.04.2012 12:36
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        As per conclusion

        Attack the Block

        Story
        Attack the Block is a science fiction, action film. It is set in Kennington, England a South London council estate. At the film's heart is a young street gang defending themselves, and their block of flats, against an alien attack that they find themselves caught up in. The film starts with a group of hostile teenagers managing to kill, what seems to them, as the only foreign intruder and they decide to try and sell it for profit, but they quickly come to realise they have set themselves up to become the centre of the immense onslaught, which is what the film develops into.
        Actors and Characters
        The cast are all young, homegrown talent; they are John Boyega, Alex Esmail, Franz Drameh, Leeon Jones, Simon Howard, and Luke Treadaway. They all play very good parts and should be applauded as it was at no point bad or cringe worthy. My only personal criticism is there are a few too many of the "you get me[s]" and such, after every other line. Although it may be accurate to the local dialect, it does get slightly repetitive and the film could do without half of it. Jodie Whittaker, who is a slightly more established actress, plays a character called Sam, a resident who undeservedly gets caught up in the fighting. Then there is Nick Frost. His character, Ron - a local drug dealer (as expected) adds a little comedy to the film, nothing over the top though as this is still basically an action film.

        Special Effects
        The aliens could have been a lot worse; they do leave a bit to the imagination. Even though this is at heart a science fiction movie, had the producers gone with a more 'War of the Worlds' style enemy it would somehow seem less believable and realistic. A poor portrayal of the invading force could have really ruined the film. But the creators, in my opinion, have done well. Attack the Block's aliens, in ways could be creatures of Earth, with their gorilla and dog like appearance. This form, combined with the locals' weaponry - including flip knifes and fireworks make it all a more balanced and therefore exciting battle. My only disapproval would be that for the size they are they should be a lot more powerful and harder to kill - but then again they are an extraterrestrial being, so who knows.
        Soundtrack
        The soundtrack is a complete original composition, created especially for the film. It is scored, fittingly, by the South London based band Basement Jaxx and if you are familiar with their work you can hear their trademark kind of sound. I think their mysterious, electronic sound really helps build the atmosphere of the alien attack. There are a few hip hop/rap songs during the movie, Sound of Da Police by KRS-One and Get That Snitch by Mikis Michaelides are the most familiar (I won't recite any of the lyrics for the obvious reason of their hip hop theme). These help remind the viewer what environment they are in (the hostile, gang controlled, council owned estate). Adding these few locally listened to songs, the viewer is brought a little closer into the story, making it more than just another massive budget apocalyptic blockbuster.

        Conclusion
        This movie has surpassed my expectation; a lot of friends had compared it to 'Shaun of the Dead' and 'Hot Fuzz', both of which I am not a great fan of. Being British, it was quite refreshing to sit through. It makes a change from being bombarded with movies with the United States' skyline - Monster attacks in New York City ('Cloverfield'), tornadoes in Los Angeles ('The Day After Tomorrow'). It seems to sell its self around its most famous actor Nick Frost but it doesn't need to; the young, relatively unknown cast do well on their own accord. Attack the Block is a really decent watch; funny in parts and action packed throughout. I think it is great right from the very beginning right up to the finish and definitely one to watch more than just once.

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      • Play.com / Online Shop / 5 Readings / 3 Ratings
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        04.04.2012 13:16
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        As per conclusion

        Introduction
        Play.com is the second biggest online retailer in the United Kingdom and is in the top 50 largest online retailers in the world, so it is quite successful. It sells DVD's, music CD's, video games, books, electronics, gadgets, music downloads, clothes and accessories. I personally always like to shop around when I am intending to buy such things. I check eBay, Amazon.co.uk, Tesco, HMV and others before I sign on the dotted line, it varies across the board as to who is selling the product the cheapest but quite often it is Play.com.

        Website
        The website address is www.play.com; it is unforgettable for first time visitors and effortless to recommend to friends, family and colleagues - a great decision by the directors, surely! Once on the actual site, you will find that it is fairly simple to navigate. If ever you get lost when browsing just click on the company logo in the top left corner of the page and it will take you back to the homepage, a nice little feature for the less experienced computer/web users. The main navigation bar runs along the top length of the page. It lists the sections/products of site from left to right, starting with 'DVD' on the left to 'Toy's & Baby' on the right. The bar is a glowing grey colour, with white text. This colour combination contrasts well, giving it a clean, organised look. When the cursor hovers over a product on the navigation bar a drop down menu automatically appears giving a list of that product's categories, for example hover over 'Music' and will give you a choice of 'Blues, Christmas, Classical, Country' etc. This is a very standard, simple and efficient setup. A search bar is located in a top, central position on the homepage, from here the user can type in anything to look for. To the left a drop down menu reveals a department to search in and a bright orange 'Go' button instigates the search, simple! A search of 'Madonna' in the music department returns three pages of items. They are presented in a very straightforward fashion; the album art is predominantly positioned with the title and a price underneath. This is standard across every page, which means browsing is efficient. A large orange 'Buy' button is placed under each item, and when it is clicked the item is added to the basket, which is located in the top right corner, a notification appears confirming this and the shopping can continue. Again this process is very, very straightforward - a major winner for Play.com. Each product section can be, which can also be refined. For example, under 'Books' > 'Art & Photography' you can refine your own search by 'Sub Category' (history of art, sculpture, fashion design, etc) by 'Format' (paperback, hardback, audiobook) by 'Author', by 'Price' by 'Narrator' and by 'Age'. This is very helpful if you don't know the exact product you want to buy. Another good thing about the website is that it has a bestsellers list, which can be helpful if you are buying a gift for someone, you can browse through the list to see what is popular. There are a few adverts on the website, they are quite attractive and easy on the eye. They are not necessarily intruding - not over the top.

        Products
        Play.com started off just selling region 1 and 2 DVD's. Now it continues to sell region 2 DVD's as well as Blu-Ray's, music CD's, video games, books, electronics, gadgets, music downloads, clothes and accessories. Each category has a very wide selection of products, an absolutely massive catalogue of merchandise. The video game section has products for every current console including handheld ones and hardware. The bookstore is extensive, ranging from crime thriller novels to children's picture book to art and photography reference books and also audiobooks. Music has every genre and also has a bargain section. The clothes section has men's, women's, boys' and girls'. A lot of designer clothes are listed and things like jeans, shirts, swimwear and accessories. I purchased a hoody from Play.com, I received it in plastic cellophane wrapping and it was folded well with the tag so it is perfectly okay to buy clothing from here. Mp3 players, TV's, sim-free mobile phones and such things are also stocked; I have not personally bought from this section. And finally there is a section for toys and babies. Most products are competitively priced, but it is always good to shop around.

        PlayTrade
        PlayTrade is a relatively new feature on Play.com. It's a way of selling your own items through the website, it is extremely easy to use and hassle free. I have had a lot of experience with this and can recommend it. All you have to do is search the item you're selling, click on 'sell it here', enter a selling price, and list the condition and a brief description, that's all. It will be listed immediately. There is a 10% commission for Play.com plus a 50p closing fee. I think this is good considering how easy it is to list and how many viewers it will get because of the website being so high profile. As soon as an item is sold you will be notified immediately by email from Play.com and once the item is posted, log on to the website and mark it as dispatched. Most of my items have sold very quickly. I have listed the same product on eBay at the same price and at the same time and every time PlayTrade has sold quicker. So if you need get rid of things quickly then I would go for this option. The money is stored in you PlayFunds account, you can use this to buy things on Play.com or you can transfer the money to your bank account for a small fee. You can also buy things from PlayTrade. I always do this if possible, although the items may not be new, they are far cheaper than buying direct from Play.com, it is safe to do so and I have never experienced any trouble.

        Payment and Delivery
        The website is available in Pounds and Euros and the prices can be changed at the click of a button (located in the top right corner). VeriSign, Visa, MasterCard SecureCode and NatWest provide secure payment and all major cards are accepted. Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, Solo, Gift Vouchers and as mentioned before PlayFunds can be used for payments. Everything is automatic so no need to worry about paying through PayPal or similar services. There is free delivery on every single item, items are usually dispatched within 24 hours and will take 3-5working days for delivery, this is very acceptable. However if you require a faster delivery then a first class postage system is offered, but this has an additional cost. This option has a delivery time of 2-3 working days, it costs £1.49 for a DVD sized package, clothing is £3.59 and items over 1kg carry a £5.99 price tag. Also there is an express delivery option (UK only), orders placed before the cut off time will arrive on the next working day, this costs from £4.99 to £8.99, I recommend the free option, but the choice is yours.

        Conclusion
        Play.com is a huge website, millions of people use it and this proves it is a great online retailer. There is a massive catalogue of products and I have never been in a position where the item I want is not offered. Postage is quick and from my past experience, never delayed and items are always well packaged. Customer service seems to be good as well, I submitted an item query to the service team once, I received a prompt, exact response, well done Play.com. Prices are competitively priced, I do recommend looking through the PlayTrade section as you can probably save yourself a couple of pounds every time. Happy shopping!

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      • Boost Energy / Soft Drink / 9 Readings / 7 Ratings
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        03.04.2012 19:45
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        Boost Energy Drink
        Recently there has been a massive increase in the amount of energy drinks on the market. They all share similar names, names that characterise them as stimulants, for example: Emerge, Monster, Red Bull, Relentless, Kick, Red Alert and Boost. They all claim to rapidly increase energy levels, but how well does Boost do against the competition? How well does it compete with Red Bull? The Boost website says, "Our mission is... To give you great tasting energy drinks for a fraction of what you'd expect... Why pay more when Boost gives you the same energy and taste?" In my opinion there are three categories to judge the drink on - the taste, the effect and the price.

        Taste
        First thing I'll say is that its best served cold. Take a nice, chilled can from the fridge - when its warm it's not at all pleasant to drink. Open the ring tab to reveal the 250ml of Boost inside; the smell is not as strong as that of the market leader - Red Bull, though it still has a distinct aroma, its not off putting either. Boost is a carbonated drink and once opened it produces a satisfying fizz. The drink doesn't go flat right away, it will still go for an hour or two but it won't last as long as the likes of Coca-Cola. I could quite happily put it in the fridge and return later, regardless if there is life in the can or not I would still be happy to finish it if chilled. Although Boost's 'mixed fruit' flavour is evident, it's far closer to artificial fruit than the freshly squeezed juice. The taste is very familiar, it's similar to that of Red Bull but slightly less intense, it's a little sharper and slightly less sweet. It has been compared to the taste of Appletiser. It is definitely an enjoyable experience, more so than the majority of energy drinks.

        Effects
        The effects the drink has on the body and mind are quite apparent; it really does give you a boost. Twenty minutes after drinking three quarters of the can I began to feel energised, the muscles in my body felt as though they had a bit more power. Before drinking it I felt quite tired and after drinking I felt awake and charged. The combination of caffeine, taurine and sugar didn't do so well on my mind, the drink seemed to speed up the rate of the thought process. I found it hard to focus sometimes, but with a bit of extra concentration I managed well and could feel and improvement. The effects on the consumer last for an hour or two and after I didn't really experience a 'comedown', there wasn't a clear transition, which is a good thing. Some people have complained that energy drinks give them the shakes a couple of hours after consuming, but as long as you don't drink too much and eat sensibly then I have found it's not a problem.

        Price
        I would say this is a middle range priced product; Red Bull is obviously the highest priced energy drink sometimes selling for over £1.50. The cheaper varieties include supermarket's own brands and Emerge sell for as low as 25p. Boost is sold in most stores for 49p, which in my opinion is good value for money. It is widely available to buy, although the Co-Operative Food stores don't seem to sell it, which is probably only a minor inconvenience for a few.

        Conclusion
        In my honest opinion, Red Bull is my preferred choice, but due to the high price I have been working my way through energy drink portfolio for a substitute. I have to say that Boost is definitely the best alternative. It is enjoyable to drink, thirst quenching and delivers the right effects.

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      • Hand Pump Dynamo Torch / Gadget / 6 Readings / 5 Ratings
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        03.04.2012 18:32
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        Good torch to have in the car for an emergency

        Introduction

        I bought this torch after seeing a friend of mine had one; I was impressed with it and decided to buy one myself. I bought it new from eBay for £1.65, which included free delivery. I have tested it in dark circumstances, but now it resides in my car for emergency situations.

        Charging

        This torch is a powered by a hand crank, the user just has to hold the device then squeeze and release the handle, no batteries required! Because the LED's (light emitting diode) have such low energy consumption, just thirty seconds of squeezing will produce about fifteen minutes of light, in my opinion this really is fantastic. In thirty seconds I managed to get about forty-five presses of the handle, this was at a steady pace. It does not have to be done at a fast pace so there's no need to worry if you suffer from repetitive strain injury. There is very little resistance so there is no actual strength needed. I should note that it does make some noise when pumping because of the moving cogs inside, but it is nothing excessive.

        The Light

        Once the torch is powered up sufficiently, a switch on the side can be pushed to activate it, it will stay on until the switch is pushed back - so no need to keep your finger on the button. The light emitted is not magnificent, it is by no means a high-powered spotlight but for a lot of situations it is perfect; it is fine for general purposes. For example my mother uses it when she walks the dog during early winter mornings, I have used it to inspect my car windscreen washer jets during the night and I will be using it when I go camping later in the year, also my car does not have a boot light so I regularly use it to see - the light projection is fine for all of these things. The three LED's are housed in a reflective compartment and the light is projected through a plastic magnifier, each help maximise the brightness.

        The Build Quality

        The build quality is not super high, but one cannot complain taking into account the average price to buy, it is mostly made from translucent blue plastic pieces and screwed together. It does creek in your hand if you grip it tight enough but nothing seems to be becoming weaker. LED's have always been very reliable so there is no real chance of them 'blowing' like a bulb. I recon if you were to drop this from mid-body height onto a hard surface then there is a probable chance of it splitting or breaking somehow. (I am not dedicated enough to actually test this out, sorry!) The hand pump feels strong enough to take a lot of use and I believe the device, as a whole, won't let the user down in times of need.


        Conclusion

        This torch is a great little compact device - it weighs next to nothing, its small so fits into bags, it has a handy string handle attached (wrap it round your wrist so if it does slip from your hand it won't drop). It was very cheap to buy and best of all it doesn't need batteries, it works perfectly for what I wanted it for, I am de-light-ed with this purchase. Highly recommended.

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      • More +
        03.04.2012 18:28
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        Good for an scratch than anything else

        If you're reading this review, then your main question will probably be - 'is this actually worth buying?' In my opinion it really is, but read on to judge for yourself.

        The Price

        This was bought for me as a gift for Christmas; it was bought as a novelty item rather than a serious medical device. It was bought for around £4, which in my opinion is a fair price. I personally wouldn't pay any more than that because it is such a simple thing, i.e. no moving parts or intricate engineering required to build it.
        The Design

        It is made from a thin metal material with 'fingers' arching out of the central handle. There are twelve individual fingers of two alternating lengths, one an inch longer than the second they form a circular shape made to fit around the head. They are flexible so they will take the shape but spring back into place. I think they provide the perfect amount of pressure. On each of the fingers is a small round nodule, you can see in the picture; these enhance the sensation against the skin. Although this device is said to be a head massager - I think a more fitting title would be a head scratcher. It just doesn't have as much versatility as a massage and it doesn't really have the same effect. It is a durable item, the fingers will not snap or come out of place and the small black nodules will not come off even if tugged.
        The Technical

        First thing I'll mention is that I found it funny it is listed under alternative medicine. The product claims to have scientific implications but I believe this to be just marketing tactics. It is apparently specifically designed to stimulate nerve endings. Releasing natural endorphins (which transmit signals throughout the nervous system) making the whole body feel relaxed. When using it I do feel a certain kind of stimulation, I get shivers through my body because of the sensation on my head but it doesn't put me in a state of trance as though the description would suggest.
        The Conclusion

        It is designed to fit around the neck, scalp and temples and it does this well, you can use it on yourself but is much better if someone else does it for you. It does relax you to a certain extent but I don't think it re-energises the body, relieves aches or pains. It gives the user a pleasant feeling during use, but it doesn't really offer much more.

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      • Homepride Pasta Bake / Sauces / Soups / 6 Readings / 5 Ratings
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        03.04.2012 18:21
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        As per the conclusion

        The Details

        Homepride say this is a "Tuna Bake pasta bake sauce with a creamy blend of tomato, onion and a hint of basil". It costs £1.59 (Tesco) for a 500g pot; this is enough to serve four people. Each serving contains 100 calories (5% RDA) this is not really a lot; however the pasta and tuna you'll be eating it with will obviously contain the majority. It has 5.3 grams of sugars (6% RDA), fat is 7.1 grams (10% RDA) and saturates is 0.8 grams (4% RDA). And finally 1.3 grams of salt (22% RDA) this seems like quite a substantial amount and after discovering it, I will not be adding extra when it comes to being served. I purchased the sauce on March 1 2012 and the use by date is August 2013, so more than one-year shelf life, which is good. When the jar is opened it should be refrigerated and consumed within three days, which is fair. It can also be frozen, in a suitable container - another bonus. One thing I should add is that it contains milk, egg, sulphites and celery, so if you have an allergy - be aware.


        The Packaging

        Both the packaging and label do their job well in my opinion. I went into the store, specifically for a pasta bake sauce. I was intending to buy a cheaper brand, i.e. a Tesco own variety but unfortunately couldn't find one so chose a Homepride variety. It was clearly labelled and very easy to find on the shelf amongst the massive array of similar looking pots. The label has pasta bake written in capital letters in a very prominent position - plainly identifiable. The Homepride label is also written across the top with the logo/mascot obvious. Also on the front a 'serving suggestion' is presented, this is a photograph of the finished pasta bake - which looks delicious. Additionally there is a small, circular badge that says 'no need to boil pasta'. Although this bight yellow badge may seem like an advertising feature, only added to try and catch people's eye, it was helpful to me because without seeing it I would have actually boiled the pasta before baking it. On the reverse of the label is a brief description of the sauce, as mentioned at the beginning. The ingredients are listed, as well as allergy advice, further details of nutrition information, Homepride contact information, and a jar recyclable message. There is a message from www.greatlittleideas.com, it suggest adding chilli and peppers for a Mexican twist - I may try this in the future. The actual pot is a glass jar. It is sealed with a metal lid that has a safety button, which if up has been opened already, so do not buy. The use by date is printed on the side of the lid, if you cannot find it. Lastly and most importantly, is a recipe for the dish. It lists the ingredients with quantities, and step-by-step instructions of the cooking procedure. I do realise pouring a sauce over pasta is not quite Michelin starred restaurant food, but for those with little cooking experience it may come in handy.


        The Sauce

        The sauce is delicious. It has the unique taste that only comes with a tuna pasta bake sauce; it is not bland or too salty. It has a creamy consistency, not too watery, even after baking it is still pleasantly moist. Homepride have done well to make this recipe full of flavour. It does not have a tangy taste like some cheaper sauces do. It smells wonderfully appetizing after baking and the look of the sauce, combined with the tuna and pasta make for a delightfully looking meal. Although the sauce is tasty it does not have large pieces of tomatoes or onions, so I added half a chopped green pepper, red pepper and four medium sized mushrooms. Although I knew the pasta would be filling I decided to add these extra bits to get that little bit closer to having five-a-day, I am somewhat health conscious. I think this addition worked well because it was not too much, it did not take away the essence of the dish. To further the healthiness of the meal you could try adding wholemeal pasta (thanks to emmacuf20, for suggesting this in a Ciao review posted in June 2010). I served the tuna pasta bake with a simple garlic baguette. Overall the sauce is excellent.

        The Conclusion

        This dish is very easy to prepare; there really is very little to make or do. Just weigh out the pasta, pour over the sauce, add the tuna and half way through grate some cheese on top. The instructions that Homepride offer come in handy if you are less experienced, they provide you with an accurate cooking time, which is probably the most important aspect. The taste of the sauce is great, very flavoursome and was very well received by my family. I do recommend you add extra vegetables for more substance. And finally, because everything goes into one big pot and there is no need to boil the pasta before hand, the outcome is very little washing up.

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        • More +
          03.04.2012 18:17
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          Pleasant to use, but it just doesn't stand out from the crowd

          Price
          I bought mine in a store called Discount UK, which is basically a 'pound shop'. It was £1.99 for a 400ml 'XL' bottle but the standard size is 250ml - most retailers seem to sell it in the latter. I recommend shopping around because there is a lot of variation in price. For example Tesco sell 250ml for £2.37, Asda at same price but it is currently on offer at two for £3. Boots sell it at £2.99 but have a 3 for 2 offer. Superdrug has a half price offer, meaning 250ml costs just £0.99, which at this time is the very cheapest I have found. This shows there are differences right the way across the board, so do look around before you buy. Bearing in mind this is considered a premium brand I think the prices at the lower end of the scale prove to value for money.
          Packaging
          The bottle design is quite striking I think it is attractive but most importantly it is functional. The lid easily clicks open when pushed and the hole is only small so there is no chance of pouring too much out. It is made from rigid plastic but it is still squeezable. It doesn't sit on its lid like most other shower gel bottles so you will have to shake it to get the last drops out.

          Gel
          Apparently a veteran designer in the industry created the fragrance. It smells as though it is high quality; there are very evident notes of chocolate and a hint of spices. They come together to create a very pleasant smell. Although the gel has a fairly strong scent it does not seem to stay on your skin after you have used it, this is a little disappointing as other, cheaper brands do this a lot better. I was surprised at the colour; it is like a light caramel, which gave me the impression it could be better than clear (cheaper) varieties.
          A little bit of the gel went a long way; I used it for my entire body including my hair. The lather the gel created was okay, although it was somewhat watery, it did have a smooth consistency. It cleaned well, and left my skin feeling cleansed but no more than any other shower gel has, so it did not perform as highly as I thought it would. It didn't cause any skin irritation or itchiness and most importantly didn't turn me into a chocolate man. I have never understood how shower gels can be marketed as 'revitalising'; it didn't do any wonders for me.

          If you like this fragrance it is also available as a deodorant, anti-perspirant, after-shave and also comes as a gift set.

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        • More +
          03.04.2012 18:12
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          Enjoyable and different day out

          Why I Chose This Experience
          In a word, I didn't. This experience day was bought as a gift for me through the online store - buyagift.co.uk (similar company to the more famous redletterdays.co.uk). As I'm sure most of you are aware, the company works by sending out an attractive gift pack with details of the experience, contact details and an activation code. Everything is paid for when the package is bought, so this means I didn't have to pay for anything, great!

          Booking And Getting There
          You can of course book through Bateaux London directly but as I received mine as a gift I had to quote the voucher number instead of providing debit/credit card information over the phone/online. I have to say that booking was a less than easy experience. When telephoning the main reception number, it took three or four attempts, over a couple of days, to actually get through to a receptionist to make a booking, this was frustrating considering from when the gift voucher is activated there is a time limit to book a date. When I finally did get through to speak to a member of staff, I found my call was dealt with pretty quickly. I called on a Tuesday and I asked to reserve a table for the Sunday coming and to my surprise there was availability. Although we were not asked if we had any special requirements, which would have been a pleasant thing to do, our reservation was processed almost immediately. Not a perfect start from Bateaux London's reservations team, however from here it was all 'plain sailing'. Bateaux London is based in the London borough of The City of Westminster and this river cruise leaves from Embankment pier, which is opposite Embankment tube station, so it is very easy to get there.

          Dining On Board Naticia
          Our table was elegantly laid, with a smart beige tablecloth and crisp white linen napkins. Cutlery and glassware were all set out well. My partner and I were showed to our table and were offered a drinks menu; this included four wines by the glass and bottle, including rather expensive champagnes, a selection of bottled beers and a soft drinks list. I chose a large glass of red and my partner a large glass of white, these were delivered promptly and we paid for them after our meal, they were of average price. The package included a three course meal, from a set menu along with tea or coffee and chocolates. A menu was placed on each table and before lunch was served we were asked if we had any dietary requirements, we were happy with the menu. We did see other diners during the meal eating alternative dishes to the set menu; so don't be afraid to ask if you're not a fan of something. Lunch is served banqueting style i.e. everybody is served and cleared at more or less the same rate, this does not mean you are rushed or that it is too slow. The starter was traditionally garnished smoked salmon, served with buttered brown bread. This was a light, enjoyable starter and even better with a touch of black pepper and bit of fresh lemon juice. I would have preferred the butter to be on the side, so I could use only a small amount. Main course was a whole roasted chicken breast served alongside three vegetables - cabbage, carrots and broccoli along with roasted new potatoes and a touch of gravy. The chicken was extremely delicious, the skin was browned well and the meat was tender and moist, I thought it was cooked nicely. The gravy that accompanied the meat was full of flavour; it did not drown the food but didn't leave it dry. The broccoli was just right, it was a whole floret and not a mush like some places prepare, it had a small crunch just as I like. The cabbage was good and the carrots were tasty. The roasted new potatoes were perfectly seasoned; the skins had a nice texture with soft potato inside. I thought this course was perfect, it was a very good size, satisfying both my partner's appetite and mine. After main course we were served a slice of chocolate tart, with mixed berries. This was very chocolaty; it was dark chocolate and quite rich. The berries on top made a nice contrast. We were served coffee and tea with plenty of time before docking, this came with a chocolate each, they were wrapped in foil and as we were full from lunch we took them with us to enjoy later. The coffee was not piping hot and really very strong, I must admit I didn't enjoy my cup and refused a refill. Overall we both thoroughly enjoyed our roast lunch, each course was attractively presented, decent sized portions, main course was piping hot and everything was served at just the right pace.

          The Cruise And Entertainment
          I would advise you to arrive in good time, as the boat boards from the glass pier at 12.00 and leaves promptly as 12.30, so if you don't want to miss the cruise get there on time, we were the first there. The boat sets off east along the Thames passing a lot of well-known sites along the way. Part way through the boat does a 180-degree and turns back passing Embankment pier and going further west to see more sites that way, doing it this way means you can see the most of the river's major landmarks. Although we were not sat directly next to a window we could see through them okay, but a window table would have been ideal. I think a guaranteed window table costs extra. The boat docks at 15.30 so it is a fairly long experience. The house band provides the entertainment, there are four members who play live jazz music. They played songs by Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra and I was pleased to hear them play a favourite of mine, 'Fly Me To The Moon". The lead singer done well to create a relaxed, peaceful atmosphere. We also witnessed one of our fellow diners request a song to be played and the band done well to perform it.

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