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It is not a little ironic to read the accounts of adults criticising children across the globe for using the powers of tv as a source of entertainment - whilst no doubt spending the majority of their own free time being entertained by one, or both, of those items.
There is a lot of hyperbole spouted about how the combination of 'tv and tablets' is almost solely responsible for a generation of fat, selfish, unintelligent young people. Whilst there is research available to suggest some potentially concerning long term effects on the development of children who spend large periods of their time sitting indoors watching tv, this is usually viewed in conjunction with other aspects of a child's upbringing. This is no simple cause and effect.
I am a parent of three young children - all boys, aged twelve, seven and four years old. Through my experience of my own children, I can see the day to day realities of the impact that TV can have on modern childhood.
My youngest son is a very lively young lad - constantly on the go and keen to learn about the world around him and discover new facts and information every second of the day. Pretty typical of most children of his age currently and for generations in the past.
HIs TV viewing is actually pretty limited and, in my experience, I would say that he watched considerably less television than either of his older brothers did when they were at the same age. This is not because I have learnt fantastic new skills as a parent in the intervening years but more a reflection of the fact that things have moved on in an incredibly short space of time. TV is, on the whole, becoming a much less important source of entertainment for many families.
People seem to view the alternatives to the evils of tv as being the more 'worthy' options such as reading and creative activities. My seven year old is a really avid reader and will always go to bed with his head in his book, so he has not yet rotted his brain entirely.
My twelve year old spends very little time 'watching tv' in the traditional sense. Most of the content he watches is downloaded, streamed and all sorts of things but rarely sitting down watching live tv in the old-fashioned sense. He does spend time online and this provides plenty of opportunities for entertainment and, most crucially, for organising his social life.
In a perfect world - with perfect weather - no child would be sitting indoors for lengthy periods of time but with seven weeks of school holidays looming on the horizon, I am fairly confident that that will happen and feel that this can be balanced with other activities.
I suffer from dry coarse and thick hair, which has a tendency to want to curl (and frizz) just as much as I want it to be sleek, straight and shiney. In my longstanding battles with my hair, my hair generally wins but I still take some steps to try and calm and tame it as best as I can.
I use a hair serum on a daily basis - generally after washing and shampooing my hair but also in the mornings after brushing just to tame my hair slightly and help to dampen down the frizz that appears. I often use the John Frieda brand of serum but, in an attempt to save money, I picked up this small bottle of Salon Chic branded 'so smooth' hair shine serum and thought it had to be worth a quid to give this a go instead.
The bottle is a basic and small 50ml design with a simple pump action dispenser which has functioned effectively without clogging or breaking. I find it easy to squeeze out just a small amount of clear serum at a time into the palm of my hand without any waste or excess.
I apply this either straight on to just washed hair or on to my dry hair in the mornings. Only a tiny amount of serum is required as it can make my hair appear slightly lank and greasy if I overdo it. In moderation, this serum helps to tame stray hairs, flatten everything down and slightly reduce the amount of frizz evident. This does not make a massive impact on the condition of my hair but I can tell the difference when I have used it to when I haven't.
In all, this is a cheap and basic option. I can't tell a great deal of difference between this product and more expensive versions, aside from the price. The scent is unobtrusive but nothing to get too excited about.
I am happy to recommend this as a cheap option that needs to be used alongside other hair products for maximum results. I have only ever seen this stocked in Home Bargains stores but it has been stocked for a while.
I first learned about this TV Link Magic Eye from the tradesman who eventually installed it for us and advised us of the possibility of installing this device to provide access to the Sky box upstairs rather than being wholly reliant on Freeview channels.
The TV link eye is readily available and can be purchased from Argos, for instance, for £14.99. For us, however, it was worth buying this directly from a tradesman and having it fitted on our behalf - particularly as some drilling was required to enable the lead to be connected up to the television in the bedroom. Reviews on the Argos website are mixed as to whether this is easy or not for a novice to fit themselves.
As the leads connect from the back of the Sky box, it was fairly easy to box the cables in using plastic piping. Likewise, the connections for the upstairs television sit at the back of the television so are also fairly unobtrusive. The device comes supplied with a lengthy cable and a small 'eye' which sits at the front of the second television and is controlled by a remote control. The remote control needed is not supplied so this is an extra cost. If self-fitting, a coaxial cable is also required.
The eye piece originally came with a sticky pad at the back, making it easy to fix into position on the bottom corner of our television bevel. It is very small and discreet and does not obscure the view of the television screen at all.
The eye is very responsive, despite its tiny size and I find that the sky box responds just as reliably to the remote control used upstairs with no glitches or delays in responding. All of the functions usually accessed by the Sky remote can be used via the eye so I am able to record programmes, pause, rewind etc.
The only real disadvantage to this kind of device, rather than having a multi room set up, is that it is not possible to watch a different programme to that being shown on the television downstairs.
This certainly serves our needs well. It has remained in good working order since being installed around two years ago and we have not experienced any issues or difficulties at all so I am happy to recommend this simple device.
We've been using Oral B toothbrushes for a number of years, with this Trizone 1000 being the latest purchase. The toothbrush came supplied with a slimline charging unit, compatible with other Braun toothbrushes and just a single Trizone brush head. Replacement brush heads can be pricey so this is a bit of a disappointment.
The charger has a standard two-pin end but we use a cheap adapter so that it can be charged via a mains socket. I find that it lasts for around three days when used twice daily by the two of us.
The design of the toothbrush itself is very simple with a slimline green and white handle that is comfortable to hold. Using the brush is straightforward, having just a single button to press to turn it both on and off. There is a light to indicate when the brush is running low on charge, accompanied by a persistent bleeping. The light also indicates when the toothbrush is charging and when it is fully charged. Alternating between different heads is also straightforward as the heads slide on and off with little pressure.
The Trizone head supplied with this electric toothbrush is shaped more like a traditional manual toothbrush, with two separate sections which both oscillate, so it may appeal to people moving on to their first electric toothbrush. I find the size and shape of the head comfortable to use but I'm not entirely convinced that it has any real benefit to the more traditional round heads.
I have been thoroughly impressed with how well this cleans my teeth, leaving them looking white and fresh with no visible sign of any plaque build-up. My son uses this with a specific orthodontic brush head (which is the more traditional small round shape) and has been complimented by the orthodontist about how well he has been cleaning his teeth since having his brace fitted.
The brush head oscillates from side to side incredibly quickly which does make this model quite noisy, however, but it is far from uncomfortable in spite of the speed and the larger brush head. I do suffer with sensitive gums occasionally but haven't experienced any bleeding or discomfort as a result of switching to this brush. The only other added feature is the inclusion of a pressure sensor which indicates if too much pressure is being used.
I paid £21.99, reduced from the full RRP of £59.99. This model is still available from Amazon but is currently listed for over the £30 mark. I'd happily recommend this brush to anybody looking to replace their current model
The Christmas Eve of 2013 was memorable for all of the wrong reasons - with our (fairly new) cooker deciding to give up the ghost - proving problematic for the Christmas roast! It did speed up installing a brand new kitchen, however, including this built in electric oven from Neff. We purchased this from ao.com and paid £3.80 in 2014, alongside the necessary fitting charges to have this connected safely and securely by a qualified electrician.
Thus far, this oven has proven to be an excellent purchase, although it does come with the reassurance of a two year warranty courtesy of Neff, should there be any issues.
The main disappointment with this model is that it only includes a single shelf rack - despite having four height settings -although it is possible to utilise the grill pack and rack (which slides in on the same principle) as additional cooking space. I do think that a second shelf rack should have been included, given the sale price.
Using the oven is very straightforward. We use the fan oven setting mostly, which does perform excellently - shaving time off cooking times even without pre-heating the oven. There are a number of other settings (including the option to remove the fan function if desired) which are selected by twisting a simple dial.Temperature is adjusted by a separate dial, with the increments clearly marked in centigrade.
There are no fancy additional extras with this model but I do regularly make use of the timer function, which is straightforward to use and reliable, helping me to keep track of my cooking. I find cleaning the cooker straightforward although the grill pan does tend to get dirty quickly if utilised as an additional shelf.
The grill setting does benefit from a small amount of pre-heating to maximise performance and cooking time but, overall, this grills consistently and evenly and is much quicker than its predecessor.
As well as being efficient and reliable, the stainless steel exterior, dark glass door and sleek Neff branding certainly complement the rest of our kitchen and looks modern and stylish.
This is an appliance that I'm happy to recommend.
Having run out of my preferred brand of roll on deodorant (Mitchum), I grabbed a couple of Sanex branded deodorants from Boots - purely on the basis of them being on a half price offer. I paid 89p for a 50ml bottle, with the usual selling price being around £1.79.
As well as being reasonably priced, this Sanex 'Dermo Invisible' roll on deodorant is very practically packaged, with its clever upside down design meaning that the deodorant is also stored ready for use and minimising waste and the likelihood of the ball and its contents drying up.
The ball itself is a decent size, allowing for smooth, consistent and easy application of the deodorant. I find that the deodorant dries very quickly without leaving my armpits feeling sticky at all. I also appreciate the alcohol free formulation which means that this never stings after application, even if I'm experiencing any sensitivity or rashes under my arms. This bottle boasts that this brand is 'anti white marks' and I must admit that this particular variety is much better than my usual Mitchum deodorant and genuinely doesn't leave behind any unsightly white marks on clothing which is a major achievement.
My favourite feature of this deodorant, however, is its fragrance which is really feminine and floral. It is also very strong but in a pleasant way, rather than being overpowering. This is designed to last for a 24 hour period and works effectively as an antiperspirant. Ironically, I have found that the effects of this brand actually last much longer than others which claim to last for up to 48 hours. I've even woken up in the morning without having the opportunity to shower the previous evening and find that my armpits smell as fresh as they did the day before.
I feel that this deodorant gives me incredible long lasting freshness, a pleasant and feminine fragrance and offers excellent value for money.
Having three children, I've grown accustomed to being prepared for any eventuality whilst out and about. Although all three of my boys are long past the nappy stage, I still have what is known as 'the changing bag' to hand when we go out as a family - loaded with emergency snacks, wipes and a small bottle of anti-bacterial hand gel.
I first purchased this Carex Protect & Plus hand gel when my youngest son was still in nappies. I found this handy 50ml sized bottle to be the perfect size to slip in the bag, ready to hand following nappy changes in public places - particularly where this is not always easy access to soap and running water. The small bottle is see through so it is easy to keep track of supplies. I find that the flip top lid dispenses the runny gel easily and it is easy to squeeze out exactly the right amount. After application, the gel feels cooling against my palm but soon dries completely with no tackiness or residue.
The hand gel still has a valuable role to play in our family, having a child who has a tendency to travel sickness. This is now well managed with prescription medication but I always prefer the reassurance of having this gel to hand - just in case of emergencies. Unfortunately, I have had cause to use this on a number of occasions following travel sickness and can confirm that the gel does combat the unpleasant smell of vomit from hands. I'm also optimistic that this gel fulfils its promise of killing '99.9% of bacteria in seconds' although there is no real way to test this as an average consumer!
The only negative aspect of this gel is the very over-powering scent of alcohol which is difficult to avoid. The alcohol content does mean that the gel can sting if there are any areas of broken skin. I try to avoid using this gel when my hands are particularly dry as this does sting like crazy!
I find this gel is a really useful standby product - offering reassurance when members of the family have colds and bugs, with the aim of reducing the spread of infection to other family members. It also comes in handy when using public toilets and after eating meals. I would recommend this item for any parent to young children when out and about. This is reasonably priced at £1.99 per small bottle but occasionally available for half price from supermarkets and chemists.
I have long, coarse hair that wants to be curly almost as much as I want it to be straight! This fight between me and my hair almost always results in frizziness, much to my distress. I am always on the look out for miracle hair products that will moisturise my dry hair.
This Yves Rocher Botanical nourishing conditioner was purchased as part of an online order and was, in all honesty, chosen to meet the minimum spend needed to qualify for the free gift I was after! The blurb for this conditioner, however, did sound promising and made it sound worth the £3.25 offer price I paid. A search of the Yves Rocher site reveals that this 150ml tube is currently on offer for just £1.99 which is an even better price, although there is a small delivery charge on top.
The conditioner comes simply packaged in a practical tube with a flip top lid that dispenses the creamy white conditioner easily and without mess. The consistency of the conditioner is perfect for the job in hand and I find it easy to spread the cream through my past shoulder length hair. I find a generous single squeeze is enough to provide ample coverage, even with my thick hair.
I find the conditioner is easy to rinse out and doesn't leave any greasiness or residue after use. Unfortunately, I'm not convinced that the results are anywhere close to the grand promises made on the tube. This claims to leave hair '...easier to detangle, stronger, supple and feels really soft.' I haven't noticed any significant difference in my hair's strength and am disappointed that it is not noticeably softer or easier to brush through after use.
My favourite aspect of this conditioner is the pleasant aroma. It is difficult to describe the scent accurately as it is quite a generic hair product kind of smell but it leaves my hair smelling freshly washed and clean without being too overpowering.
This conditioner does have some benefits compared to similar products - namely the lack of any nasties such as paragons, silicone and colorants. I do find that my hair is not as heavy feeling as it can be when conditioned using alternative brands so that is a clear benefit.
I'm not entirely convinced with the majority of the products claims, however, and am unlikely to re-order. It may be worth trying if purchasing other items from Yves Rocher though, particularly at the current low sale price.
I seem to be one of the few females that is not obsessed with the Soap and Glory brand. Indeed, I hadn't tried any of their products until I received a small gift set as a Secret Santa present last year, including a 50ml tube of this Hand Food.
Hand Food seems to be one of the best known Soap & Glory products and comes packaged in keeping with the rest of the brand, in very feminine pink colours with a fun retro design. As well as looking good, I find the design of the tube very practical with the flip top lid administering the cream easily and with minimal mess.
The cream itself is of a very nice consistency. I find that it spreads easily and it is absorbed quickly into my skin without leaving any greasy residue or tackiness. I do find the results to be fairly superficial however. I have a tendency to suffer from extremely dry skin around my fingers at certain times of the year and this cream is really not strong enough to deal with cracked and sore dry skin. I would say that this is best suited as an everyday moisturising cream for people with normal to greasy skin, rather than anybody suffering from dry skin conditions, where something a little more intensive is required. When my skin is at its calmest, I find this leaves my hands feeling soft and smooth.
I am happy to use this as an occasional treatment, mainly because I find the feminine scent of the cream to be so pleasant. I find myself sniffing my own hands at odd points throughout the day after application. It is a distinctive floral scent that I find quite uplifting.
With this small conveniently handbag sized tube costing £2.50, it is not an overly expensive product, making this a cream I'm happy to recommend to others with 'normal' skin.
As a mum to three young children, my beauty regime is, by necessity, pretty minimal. I rarely wear any make up other than black mascara every day which I feel opens up my eyes slightly, making me look slightly less sleep deprived.
After years of using pretty mediocre brands of mascara, I discovered a completely new kind of mascara from Blinc. The strapline to this mascara, as printed on the tube is ‘Stop painting your lashes...tube them!’ Basically, the mascara dries around the hairs on your eye lashes and forms a sort of cover or ‘tube’ that can only be removed using lots of warm water and pressure from your fingertips. The clear advantage of this design is that the mascara is waterproof and, crucially for me, smudgeproof too. I wear contact lenses and I am also prone to rubbing my eyes throughout the day which usually results in smudged panda eyes. I can rub my eyes as much as I like and there is no visible sign left behind whatsoever, making this ideal for me.
The coverage of this mascara is fantastic. I use the black shade and find that it applies easily and the tubes form really quickly, giving me extra confidence in my appearance. Removing the tubes at the end of the day is straightforward. No specialist products are required - I just use hot soapy water and find that the tubes slide off with a little bit of pressure. The only issue is that I do tend to lose a few eyelash hairs with some of the tubes, perhaps if I'm applying a little too much pressure.
The only other drawback with this product is that it is not readily available. I used to be able to buy this from Boots online but they no longer seem to sell it. I now have to buy from Feelunique.com where a single tube costs a rather pricey £21.50. Even at that price, I'm still happy to recommend this mascara for its staying power and results.
My life varies between trying to meet the needs of three young children and trying to keep the house in some kind of reasonable condition and holding down a professional, often stressful, career. In both parts of my life, I want to feel clean, dry and be confident that stress, anxiety and sheer hard work is not leading me to be sweaty and smelly!
I have been using Mitchum branded deodorants for a number of years now, having initially been persuaded to try this brand by a review on this site. I had not previously tried the brand - feeling uninspired by the rather drab packaging which looks quite dated and old ladyish at a glance.
The deodorant itself, particularly the Powder Fresh variety, which is my preferred scent is very effective. I find the generously sized rolling ball dispenses the deodorant evenly and consistently. A couple of rolls leaves me feeling fresh and does not take hours to dry. I don't experience any stickiness with Mitchum deodorants either and am able to dress immediately after application, although I have found that white marks can accrue under my armpits in darker coloured clothing.
I love the Powder Fresh scent and really do find it to be evocative of baby powder and other similar baby products, taking me back to a time when my little ones were even littler! I find the scent to be feminine and fresh and gives me added confidence no matter what my day may bring.
I find the results to be long-lasting and effective, although I'm not sure why the manufacturers insist on giving this a 48hour protection label as this isn't really a product that would be worn for that length of time between washes! I do find that this lasts for a typical working day without finding the need to re-apply, even during the hottest summer months. I would not personally try going out the following day without reapplying!
Mitchum Powder Fresh is widely available from most supermarkets and chemists and comes in a handy 50ml or better value 100ml roll on container. I tend to stock up when this is on offer and usually find the smaller size for around the £1 mark. I'm happy to recommend this brand to others.
I suffer from very dry sensitive skin, which can be particularly problematic around my face at certain times of the year. I have tried various products on prescription as well as major brands, varying from cheap and cheerful options to more expensive brands, on the hunt for the elusive miracle product.
This SOS rescue cream is manufactured by the Barefoot Botanicals brand, based in Brighton. The cream is more expensive than I would usually consider but decided that it had to be worth investing slightly more in this cream, as online reviews and forums had raved about its moisturising abilities.
The cream is very simply packaged, although the simple white and green tube does come inside a cardboard tube which is probably not needed as the key information is printed on the tube itself. This is a versatile cream which can be used on both face and body. I tend to use this primarily on my face but also occasionally on my hands.
One of the first things that I noticed when using this cream was the gorgeous scent of Neroli. I find Neroli is rarely used as a fragrance - it appears to be quite an expensive essential oil- but the slightly orangey aroma is very distinctive and I find it to be quite uplifting. The scent does linger slightly on my skin but is certainly not overpowering.
The other advantage is that the cream is easy to squeeze out evenly, applies smoothly and is absorbed very quickly so I don't experience that unpleasant tacky feeling on my skin after application.
My only disappointment has been due to my high expectations. As a moisturising cream, this works reasonably well and I can feel the difference on my skin after application. It is certainly far from being a miracle cream for very dry skin, however, and I do find that I need to reapply regularly throughout the day to achieve ongoing effects. I find that the moisturising effects are quite superficial and this does not penetrate particularly far beneath the surface layers of skin so doesn't really tackle the underlying dehydration that well.
I paid £6.50 for a 100ml tube of cream and, given the results, am not likely to repurchase at that price so am only able to give this a mediocre three star rating.
I'm not a particularly 'girly girl' and my beauty and skincare regime tends to be more practical rather than pampering and luxurious.
When it comes to washing, particularly in areas such as my face or underarms, I much prefer to use a soap style product, rather than a liquid or gel. Somehow, I feel more cleansed using a bar and find that the clean feeling lasts for much longer. Some traditional style soaps can feel a little too drying against my skin which tends to be fairly sensitive and on the dry side anyway, For that reason, my cleaning product of preference tends to be Dove cream bars.
There are a few varieties of these cream bars available nowadays and I have tried most of them but I do find myself coming back to this original cream variety, simply packaged in a small cardboard box with distinctive blue and white colouring. I get through quite a lot as the rest of the family will also use the same products so I tend to buy this in a multi-pack of four, which works out better value than purchasing the single bars. This brand is widely available from all supermarkets, chemists or stores such as Wilkinsons. I have even purchased multi-packs online from Amazon as a cheap way to bring an order up to the £10 mark!
The soap itself has an absolutely divine scent that I find lingers on my hands and face after use. It is not a traditionally soapy aroma but it is very distinctive and instantly recognisable as a Dove product. My other favourite feature is the amount of soft white fluffy bubbles that the bar lathers into, when used with warm water. I find that this spreads easily and leaves my skin feeling soft, moisturised and clean at the same time which I feel is excellent results from a single, inexpensive product. It never feels overpowering or drying against my skin and I'm happy to use the same product even on my young children's delicate skin, without any signs of irritation.
I do try other brands and other products but always find myself coming back to the original Dove cream bars which says it all really.
I have long, thick coarse hair that is prone to frizziness and is the bane of my life! I am always looking out for the miracle product that will combat all of my problems and give me silky, shiny looking locks, which is why I parted with £6.99 to purchase a bottle of this Organix Morroccan Argan Oil shampoo.
This particular shampoo is fairly tough to track down and wasn't readily available in my usual haunts of Morrisons or Sainsburys but I did eventually find it in Waitrose. The packaging, I must say, does make this stand out as a premium product with an unusual flattened shape to the bottle and a pleasant eye-catching colour. It's not all about the looks - I found the flip top lid easy to open and close and the shaped bottle was comfortable to hold when pouring.
The shampoo itself is surprisingly thick and gloopy and takes quite a bit of pressure to squeeze out of the bottle. The appearance is pleasant enough, with a gleamy iridescence and a lovely, if generic, aroma. I find the shampoo does spread quite easily once applied and creates a reasonable amount of fluffy white lather. The scent spreads through my hair and does tend to linger but is not over powering.
As this is a product that contains the much-lauded argan oil, I do endeavour to rinse it well after use but I do feel that there is evidence of a build-up of this product on my hair after a few consecutive uses. I don't get that sense of cleanliness that I achieve with some other brands.
I've also been disappointed with the moisturising and restorative effects of the shampoo. This certainly doesn't result in any reduction of my natural tendency towards frizziness. If anything, this product seems to exaggerate my frizz, leaving my hair feeling increasingly fly away and unkempt. I originally tried this shampoo alone without any conditioner but would certainly not repeat that experiment. This certainly needs the added benefit of a conditioner.
In all, I was disappointed with the performance of this shampoo, particularly in light of the higher sale price. The only real attraction of this shampoo is the attractive packaging but, sadly, this is not a product that I will be purchasing again.
Having three children, I was reluctant to agree to the demands for pets in the house too! Eventually, I succumbed to the boys' request for two gerbils a few years ago and am happy to confirm that the gerbils made good first pets, with relatively straightforward care needs and inexpensive maintenance costs (which is a lot more than I could say about my kids!)
My oldest son was so pleased to have gerbils as pets that he wrote the following as a report for his school homework:
"Gerbils come in different colours. Mine is black all over and has a little white patch on his paw. His name is Diamond. My brother’s gerbil was brown with a white belly and white patches on his back. He died at the age of about two month’s old. We don’t really know why he died as we tried to look after him well. We buried my brother’s gerbil, Brownie, in the garden.
We keep our gerbils in a special cage called a Gerbilarium. Gerbils have to have a big cage so they can run about a lot. My gerbil burrows a lot. He has a tunnel in his cage and he buries it and hides inside. He likes to shred up newspaper and makes this into his bed. My gerbil doesn’t always come into my hand but if you open the top hatch, he climbs out on to the top and I can pick him up. They sometimes nibble when you pick them up but it doesn’t hurt. They like chewing on wood and fruity things. They eat apple cores and they like treats. When they are in their ball, they can run about and have lots of exercise. We do that when we clean them out."
As a parent, I find gerbils easy to care for. I buy a specially formulated mix from Pets At Home which meets all of the dietary requirements and just top that up with fresh fruit and seeds. A great first pet, although sadly they can have a limited life span which might be upsetting for some children.