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That time arrived again when the eye circles were deepening and darkening with lots of night shifts. Perks of the job. Ho hum. There is always an element of slight panic when I reach the end of my touch eclat and realise that there is no way of hiding these circles which make me look like I could do with being a patient rather than nursing them. Therefore, off to the Yves Saint Laurent counter went I. If you have read any of my previous reviews, you shall be well aware of my loyalty to Chanel products but in this instance nothing quite matches the power of touche eclat. By now I imagine that you are thinking that I have made a mistake and that my review is about the wrong item. If so, you are wrong. The touche eclat is just the beginning of the story to how I made one of my worst cosmetic purchases. To carry on the story, when arriving at the Yves Saint Laurent counter I sought out my necessary buy and was eager to pay and go home and fix my face. The Yves Saint Laurent sales person however had other ideas. She very cleverly took advantage of my hot sweats and need to purchase this product by engaging me in conversation and stalling at the checkout by offering me other items that in the end I agreed hastily to purchase the special deal of a double pack which included the coveted touche eclat and mascara. As ever, on the purchase of new cosmetics I was off home to try out my new goodies. On application of the mascara I was quite pleased with what I saw. The mascara tube itself was gold coloured and shiny and rather pleasing on the eye even if a little chunky. My favourite element of this product is indeed the wand. The lid is comfortable to hold for easy application and applies the mascara to the eyelashes with good distribution and thickness. I did feel that the mascara took a while to dry and because I have quite long eyelashes it felt like I had to make an effort not to blink as every application that I have done with this product has left me with mascara marks which i then have to wipe off. As I put my mascara on last, this can be a bit of a pain to say the least. So, first few times not so bad, however over time I have become increasingly let down by this product. I soon found that it becomes gloopy very quickly making my eye lashes stick together post application and the mascara soon began to feel heavy and flaky when dried. With at least half of the product left and unusbale I was heavily dissapointed with this purchase. The one thing that I do still like to use is the wand. I tend to wash it and use it in my other mascaras if going out somewhere as the wand really does make my eyelashes have a good distribution of mascara which helps to thickien and lengthen the eyelashes. Sadly, the wand along with its original mascara does not hold any positive points. I do believe the individual cost of the mascara is around £21 which is a lot of money to pay for a product which can only be used effectively for a few applications. What can I say about Yves Saint Laurent mascara voluni infini curl? Sorely dissaponted, I feel like I have wasted my cash. I would not buy it again and I certainly would not recommend anyone else either.
We decided as a family that we fancied a family day out with a difference. We researched what was available in geographical proximity and decided to go on Safari! The chosen park for this was Woburn safari park which is situated in the idyllic surroundings of Woburn which is a picturesque village near to Milton Keynes. We were very pleased to see that given that it was now November that the park was still open as a few safari parks and other attractions closed for the winter season at the end of October. We had a look at their website which is very informative and packed full of information with opening times, prices, maps for the road safari and foot safari, details on eating venues, animal talks and feeding times along with local amenities, and directions. I do believe that every source of information required was on the website and this made our planning very easy. For the winter months, the price of a family ticket for 2 adults and 2 children is £34.95 if booked online. It is worth noting that outside of the winter period the ticket prices are slightly higher. We were very lucky to find that the weekend that we were to be visiting that Woburn were holding their annual craft show at the safari park, therefore family tickets were priced at just over £25 for the whole day which included entrance to the craft fair along with full use of the safari park. The younger visitors under the age of three are admitted for free. On the Saturday morning we set off packed with a picnic and the essential winter component of two flasks of hot chocolate, winter clothing and an air of excitement. Driving from Oxfordshire, the journey was pleasant. A few miles away from the park the very clearly signed sign posts became apparent and the park was very easy to find. We entered the park, paid our entrance fee and headed straight to the road safari. The first animals that we came across were the Rhinos and Emus. The pace was very relaxed and we were able to drive slowly and stop the car to look at the animals with enough room for cars to take over and carry on with the safari should they wish to. Next along the road we came across the Buffalos and the Rhinos. There was so much excitement in the car with the children who are aged 12, 12 and 3 so it really is a fabulous all round family experience. I also think that my husband and I enjoyed this experience as much as the children. We next drove around to the enclosed compound which housed the tigers. This was the most exciting area in our car so far. Sadly the beautiful tigers were only interested in the big pieces of meat which they had for breakfast so we waved and moved on to see the big black bears and the wolves but then onto my favourite area, the lion park. There were a number of lionesses over this area. Some would walk around your car and others would play and run around. This part of the drive took quite a while to get around as we were all so fascinated by these beautiful creatures plus the fact that they liked to walk into the road and momentarily sit down and block the way. The children thought this to be very funny. All of the way around we were very eagerly looking for the leader of the pride and on our way towards the gate out of the lion park there he was lying down with a number of lionesses surrounding him. He was extremely beautiful with his long mane. We left the lion park and drove around towards the African forest which was also the monkey enclosure. On our way we drove across the Savannah plain and saw the giraffes and zebras. One decided to walk in front of our car which made my eldest son chuckle as he said that it was the proper use of the term 'zebra crossing'. Outside the monkey enclosure was a warning sign that they may damage your car and if you would like to avoid this take the detour route now. We carried on with the route and it was well worth it although we did witness one of the monkeys snapping the aerial on one families car. Whoops! The scream of excitement shook our car as a monkey jumped onto out windscreen and pressed his face against the glass. I'm sure that this had to be the highlight of the day! Alas, soon it was time to leave the African jungle and we headed out towards the foot safari passing the camels, Bongos and the wild ass. We were guided to a parking spot and quite impressed how close the parking was to the facilities. We headed straight over to the outdoor playground which was well equipped for both younger and older children. I will very quickly write about the foot safari otherwise my review could go on forever. We saw wild tropical birds in the bird house, wallabies, monkeys, sea lions, penguins, lemurs, goats, hogs, reptiles and many more. There were clean toilets, food establishments, plenty of picnic areas with picnic tables, indoor soft play for toddler and indoor thrill slides for older children and adults. Most things were accessible with buggies and if not, there were plenty of designated buggy parking areas. There is also a small train that circuits around on the hour although this could be quite difficult to get on due to the queues. On our way out we decided to take the road safari again as this is unlimited within the opening hours. This time we saw Indian elephants, rhinos and the tigers were actually up and walking around which our toddler actually adored! The wolves had moved out of their enclosure and were walking amongst the cars so well worth the second trip. Woburn doesn't just end there as there is also a manor house with a deer park to be visited and a very beautiful village which houses hotels and restaurants so my recommendation would be to stay over and explore the other surroundings if the budget and timing suits. All in all a wonderful day out, in fact one of our best and I could not recommend this park highly enough.
Fire and Stone Oxford is a restaurant which is becoming increasingly popular within our little family. Myself and my husband first visited last December when we merrily stumbled in as it was the restaurant with the shortest waiting time along the George street restaurant mile. We were plesantly surprised by the decor, comfort and ambience of the establishment and this was before we even opened the menu. The menu itself takes you around the world with a choice of 27 inventive pizzas from different cities such as the London which offers you a sausage, egg and bacon on a pizza. My husband chose the cape town which comprises of Mozzarella, tomato sauce, spicy pepperoni, ground spicy beef topped with fresh green chilli, basil and oregano and I chose the Acapulco which was made up of Mozzarella, tomato sauce, slow cooked groundchilli beef, jalapenos, sliced red onions, topped with sour cream and guacamole. We ordered our drinks which were delivered quickly and the food was delivered within a time expected of freshly prepared good food in a well run establishment. When our food arrived, wow! We were amazed by the taste sensation that we were experiencing. I can honestly say that it was the best pizza that I had ever eaten and my husband was also very impressed with his choice. We knew right then that we would be back. Price wise, I would classify the restaurant as middle of the road. £9.50 for a pizza around Oxford in a decent establishment is around the norm. The drinks menu and dessert menu offered a good selection although I did find both to be a little pricey. There are offers available in the restaurant for lunch times but the best offer available is Thursday's any pizza any time for only £4. To summarise, the best pizza place in town. Highly recommended, especially on a Thursday!
We first tried this product when it was on a buy one get one free offer. We enjoy sausage casserole but usually make our own, however, on seeing two of these jars for £1.69 I decided that this could be a cheap and convenient meal and would certainly be worth a try. *The product* The jar itself comes as a 500g measurement and it specifies that the jar serves four hungry people. We followed the directions as recommended on the product and were disappointed to find that the sauce did not appear to go as far as it specified that it would. On the plus side, the sauce appeared to be of a good consistency, not too runny and not too thick with a mouth watering aroma So far, so good. *My verdict* According to the jar, the sauce is flavoured with sage, onions and garlic, with carrots and swede. I have to agree that the sauce was well flavoured and could especially pick out the garlic and sage. We served this casserole with rice and found that there was a sufficient amount for all of us though a little more could have been nicer and I certainly disagree that the sauce would feed four hungry people. In general, I'm not a huge fan of convenience sauces but this one did taste good. On the negative side, I found that there were only a few chunks of carrot which we found to be disappointing leaving the casserole a little plain with just sauce and sausage. I like my casseroles to be filled with vegetables and yes although I could add my own vegetables, I don't think that there would be enough sauce to cover this. *Value for money* As part of a buy one get one free offer, the sauce was quite reasonably priced, however I find £1.69 for a single jar to be over priced. A bigger portioned alternative could be made with more vegetables and be just as tasty for around the same price if not less. If you cannot cook or do not have time then this could be an option for you but if you do have the knowledge and the time to do some chopping then making your own would be recommended. I have no intention of purchasing this sauce again, not because it was awful but simply for the fact that I think that it is not great value for money.
The Boat house in Putney is a modern pub/restaurant which is part of the relatively new Putney Wharf development which is just off the high street. The pub has a very enviable location sat on the Thames and has excellent views from its large outside terraced area of the river and Putney bridge. I have visited this establishment on many occasions whilst my husband lived in Putney and I have always found the venue to be bustling and busy, particularly during the summer's evenings. Due to this, whenever we have eaten here, we have always ensured that we have a table booked before visiting. The Boat house is set over three levels with the lower floor being the bar area, the middle split level floor is the quieter area for intimate chat and an upper floor which has fantastic views across the river and is used for dining and private parties. *The bar area* The downstairs bar area is large and well designed with a good sized bar and a decent amount of serving staff. Although the bar area can become busy, I have never had to wait too long. I have found the drinks menu to be extensive and I have never found something that I require to be out of stock. There is a wide choice of beers, Ales and lagers from pump pulled to bottled and the main brewery for this establishment is Young's. The wine list has an international feel with a good choice for combining with dinner or a relaxing summers evening. The prices vary and can suit most pockets although they are not completely over priced. Obviously there are also a good selection of soft drinks and spirits and I have also seen people drinking cocktails here so there really is wide variety available. The furnishing here is modern and minimalist. There are a selection of tables with chairs and leather sofas which are mainly placed next to the large windows which also have those fantastic views whether you wish to look watch the sunshine on the river or the night lights reflecting from the water. It is not always easy to acquire a table though there is a lot of standing space too. This is most certainly a bustling and popular bar area to be. *Dining* The food here is delicious. We have dined here both from the bar menu and enjoyed this outside on the terrace and from the main menu which we have enjoyed upstairs on the balcony. The bar menu offers the typical smaller and quicker informal options such as sandwiches, salads and a small selection of hot dishes. Upstairs dining is a little more formal. As mentioned earlier, we have always booked whenever we have dined to ensure a table. We have dined here with friends and had a cosy meal as a couple too. The upstairs dining area is very cosy and candle lit with a formal but not uncomfortable atmosphere. We favour sitting outside on the balcony which has a selection of tables though not spaced too closely together which is good in order to enjoy a private conversation without feeling that you are joining your neighbouring table. At night, this is a lovely location to dine. Due to the elevated position. Views can be seen across the river and you are able to watch the evening go by. The atmosphere is tremendously relaxing, particularly to enjoy a nice glass of red wine before and after dinner. The food on the main menu is of a very high standard. There is a good variety of choice, though not so much that the menu ensures the need for ready mad e and microwaveable food. My favourite by far from this menu is the homemade Cumberland sausage and mash with lashings of onion gravy, although I have tried many other choices from the menu, this is my firm favourite whilst my husband has a love for the Sea bass, though not being a huge fish fan, I am afraid that I cannot give my own opinion of this though he would rate it as divine. There is also a small choice of starters and desserts though I very rarely have room for these so tend to not order them especially as the portions here at the Boat house are of a generous size. The food is usually served within a good time scale which is not too rushed, nor too slow. I find the dining staff to be friendly, helpful and precise in their duties. This is indeed one of my favourite dining and drinking venues in South West London and considering the geographical location, I find the menu to be very reasonably priced. The Boathouse is a great venue for al fresco drinks and dining whether it be for an informal or formal occasion. The staff are helpful, the bar is well socked, the food is excellent, the atmosphere is relaxing and the views are fantastic! What more could you ask for?
Sani beach hotel is part of the Sani beach resort and is situated in Halkidiki , mainland Greece. At the point that I booked this holiday, I had visited many Greek islands but not had the pleasure of visiting mainland Greece yet. After researching the resorts available and the accommodation in these areas, we settled on the Sani resort. We were to be visiting during June and as a family of two adults and two children. We booked directly with the hotel and arranged our own flights though I am aware that this resort is also available through many package companies. We took a taxi transfer from the airport which was arranged and paid for by the hotel and we were extremely happy with this service. The nearest main airport to this resort is Thessaloniki and the journey will take roughly an hour so not too far at all. *Arrival* Following a slightly delayed flight, we arrived in Greece to a very hot and dry summer's day. The taxi driver was waiting for us and everything was running to plan. We loaded our luggage into the taxi and off we headed towards paradise with the air conditioning whirring comfortably around us. After an hour (seemed less), we arrived at the Sani resort and headed towards the hotel. We were dropped off outside the main entrance and headed straight to reception. The reception area was large, clean, minimalist yet comfortable and decorated with shiny marble floors, wall paintings and comfortable resting chairs. We were promptly checked in by a very friendly staff member who gave us directions to our room whilst our bags were taken care of. The first impressions of this hotel were very good. Everything around us gave us the impression of high quality and relaxation. This was a very good start to our holiday. *Our room* As we were traveling as a family, we had obviously booked a family room so we were expecting a room with a double bed and maybe a double sofa bed or bunk beds. We were very pleased to find that a family room by Sani standards is two double rooms with an inter connecting door. This was just fabulous. Our room had a double bed with furniture, sitting chair, a balcony with a fabulous view of the Aegean sea and the pool areas and very comfortable and premium whicker patio furniture along with the necessary air conditioning for the hot Greek climate. We also had a mini bar, flat screen TV, radio, electric safety deposit box and fluffy robes to name just a few of the facilities on offer. We had a large, clean and airy bathroom and complimentary toiletries plus the perfect finishing touch, a fruit bowl and bottle of wine. The same was to be found in the children's room though they had single beds instead of a double and we claimed their bottle of wine. To say that we were very happy with our room and the hotel would be an under statement. We had been here for only half an hour and it was already living up to its four star deluxe reputation. *The pool & beach area * The Sani resort is sat on just over seven kilometers of white soft sand. The sea is a perfect turquoise colour and is so warm and gentle which is especially gentle and calm for young children especially as it is relatively shallow for the first few metres. There are many comfortable loungers and parasols available which are free to use. It is worth mentioning that the hotel also provides beach towels which is great in order not to have to add bulky and heavy towels to your luggage! There are changing facilities and showers available near the pool bar which is also the area in which you would collect your beach towels. This was particularly useful when you wanted to head out to the marina for lunch or a cooling drink without having to go all of the way to your room and back. The beach and pool areas are very clean and very well looked after with the beach area receiving blue flags for its cleanliness. There is a beautiful and very large lagoon shaped pool which has been landscaped with surrounding flowers, plants and walking bridges. I found these bridges particularly good for when I wanted to be in the water but be shaded too. There is a smaller pool which is shallower and ideal for younger children and also an indoor pool is available though we never had the need for this facility. Again, loungers and towels are complimentary around the pool area and there is a waiter service available from the beach bars where beverages and food can be ordered and delivered to you at the pool side. * Bars & restaurants * There are a number of bars available within the hotel. There are a few beach bars which can be used throughout the day and into the evening plus bars that plays live musical entertainment and one of my favourite bars was the Zephyros bar where I used to enjoy a cool cocktail before dinner with the complimentary cashews. My favourite bar by far was the main bar which has a large terrace over looking the pool area. All bars offer table service and have a good although slightly pricey drinks menu available and very friendly staff. The bars are dotted around the hotel grounds and a selection of them are open into the early hours along with the hotel night club. *Restaurants* As we had a half board package we were able to take full advantage of the selection of restaurants within the hotel. These offered breakfast and dinner and a wide selection of different foods available. To begin the day, breakfast is a full buffet with choices of salad, fresh fruit, breads, pastries and a cooked selection. The half board option can be used in either the veranda restaurant, the main poseidan restaurant or in the neighbouring Sani beach club. There are worldwide dishes from Italian to Greek dishes available in most of the restaurants with special theme nights on certain evenings. There is also the beach bar/restaurant which will serve food and snacks throughout the day. Whatever you choose to eat, there is so much selection available. *Entertainment* There is a wide range of entertainment available for both adults and children. Whether it is live bar music or entertainment acts there is so much to do either in the day time or at night. There are kids clubs and baby sitting facilities on offer plus many sporting facilities such as tennis, diving, water sports and bicycle hire. There is a gym and spa available in the hotel for a good workout followed by some relaxing pampering. One of the best complimentary entertainment things that we signed up to was the free family boat trip. We left from Sani harbour and sailed around the coast and stopped in a little bay with white sands and crystal clear water. A picnic was provided by the hotel and the day was absolutely fantastic. There is something for everyone to do during the waking hours and no one should get bored. *Sani resort and marina* The entire Sani resort is made up of the Sani beach hotel, the Sani beach club, the Asterias suites, Porto Sani village and the marina. The Sani resort and marina is completely man made and has therefore been planned with precision to make the ultimate holiday resort. The location is perfect and the Greek sunshine completes the scenario perfectly. The harbour area houses many visiting luxury boats and is surrounded by bars, restaurants and shops. Expect to find relatively up market clientele here as Sani as a whole is a five star resort and luxury is the key word. There are at least twenty shops/boutiques in the marina area selling hand made glass, jeweler, clothes and gifts to name but a few. There are a number of bars, restaurants, tavernas and small food establishments around the marina to keep visitors well fed and watered. This is a perfect place to visit within a five minute walk of the hotel and spend some of your holiday time. *To summarise* I most certainly will visit this resort again. There is so much that I could write about the hotel and the resort but I feel that I have already written too much and have chopped and reduced this review tremendously already. To summarise in short, the hotel is fabulous. There are so many amenities and facilities - I think the word to use is perfect. After two weeks, we still hadn't stayed long enough. It is costly and we paid just over three thousand pounds for the hotel alone so bear in mind that flights, drinks and lunches will be extra on top of this. If you are looking for a luxury family friendly holiday without having to take a long haul flight then this hotel is well and truly recommended, we absolutely loved it! #
Top 10 songs which have either influenced my life or played some role in it. They may not necessarily be my favourite songs ever but they are songs which I like and have some meaning to me. I have to say aswell that looking back over this that it is certainly not an easy job to choose your top ten with all of the songs which are available! 1. Madonna - This used to be my playground: I recall back in the summer of 1992, when the film 'a league of their own' was released and starred Madonna. As a thirteen year old many years of my life so far had been devoted to the music of this musical genius and of course she had released a song from this film which is this particular named song. Yes, the song was not one of her best but I was not at that point to realize the impact that this song and its lyrics would have over the next seventeen years as to date but in particular those following few months. In 1990, my mum was diagnosed with cancer and sadly on August 7th 1992, she passed away. This was a few weeks after my purchase of this particular song. I recall listening to the lyrics over and over again with the very poignant words such as 'You're not just a memory, Say goodbye to yesterday, those are words I'll never say'. I just felt and still do that the whole song could have been written to how I did and still occasionally feel. 2. Stereophonics - Rewind I believe that in some point of our lives we all hit that stuck in a rut sticky patch. This song was around during mine. It was a time that I was unhappy with my job and unhappy with me and I needed to make some big changes. This was my 'wake up and smell the coffee song'. I find it very inspiring and let's say Kelly Jones changed my life with a career move from managing accounts in a high street bank to nursing. 3. Snow patrol - Set the fire to the third bar This song is my lovey mushy song for this review. This was at a point before my husband and I moved to Oxfordshire to live in order for him to commute to London and back instead of us spending a few days a week together in either Birmingham or London. It used to drive me crazy and I used to miss him dearly. It also seems quite appropriate as I could usually be found heading up and down the M40 in my car listening to Snow Patrol anyway. 4. Sigur Ros - Hoppipolla I first heard this song after watching BBC's Planet Earth. It was such an amazing series and the trailer that was so dramatic whilst twinned up with this song was just fantastic! I love the music by this Icelandic group - it is so harmonious and so wonderfully powerful. In short, it makes me feel very alive! 5. Simon & Garfunkel - The boxer Yes, sad as it may be, I love Simon and Garfunkel. They have indeed made many fabulous songs including of course: 'The sound of silence', 'Cecilia' and 'bridge over troubled water'. Indeed, a little outdated by today's standard but good music none the less. Why the Boxer? It holds a good tune and tells a good story and takes me back to a few drunken nights with this playing on the pub juke box with me and my friends singing our hearts out to it. 6. The Four tops - Walk away Renee As I have a love for most things music, of course there has to be a link here somewhere to in my opinion one of the best record labels ever - Motown. This comes in with my favourite song of the Motown years to be 'Walk Away Renee'. This can usually be found on one of my home made compilation CD's in my car or on some ipod play list and whatever my mood will leave me singing at the top of my voice to it. It is a wonderful 7. God only knows - Beach boys I have always liked this song and it was to play a very poignant part in my life when I had to choose some music for our wedding ceremony. Like compiling this list, it was very hard work to find two songs which define how you feel about someone to such an extent that you would play it at your wedding. This song was to fit the bill perfectly and will always be a fantastic reminder. 8. Karma police - Radio head I have loved Radiohead since back in my teenage years with my favourite album actually being ' The Bends'. Although this is a song from their album entitled 'ok computer' there is something about this song that I find powerful. I find that when I am frustrated or angry that this song can make me feel so much better. I can play it over and over and never tire of it. 9. Gloria - Laura Branigan Well I do have a soft spot for the eighties and I do like the film 'Flash dance. Again, nothing specific about the song apart from it has a great inspiring and catchy tune. I just love to sing to it very very loudly! 10. Rufus Wainwright - Halleluiah No, before we all start - I didn't hear of this song after listening to the latest X Factor manufactured pop cheese or due to the Facebook petition to get Jeff Buckley to get to number one but after a spine tingling, hair standing up on the arm moment after hearing Rufus Wainwright perform this song at Glastonbury 2005. Yes, it beats Leonard Cohen's' original version by a mile and is a truly beautiful song and will be in my always remain in my top ten!
Bournemouth is one of my favourite destinations on the South coast. It takes me back to happy memories of summer holidays here as a child. In my younger days we would rent a house from a friend each year along with a beach chalet and we would make our way down to this seaside destination in the first two weeks of the summer holiday every year for the first thirteen years of my life. As I got a little older, I realised that in fact I had not visited this much loved child hood place for over a decade and decided that it was time to return. This time I had my own family with me and stayed in Bournemouth itself rather than its suburb of Boscombe. The final thing to decide on was of course, where to stay? As a little girl on these summer visits I have on many occasions looked on enviously at the large Grand white building which is of course The Royal Bath hotel. It stands so elegantly next to the sea and dominates the approach to the pier area from the road. The outside of the building emits and aura of grand luxury and I often dreamt of just setting foot inside. With this in mind and with my first return to this treasure trove of childhood memories this is where we would be staying. We booked a family room for two nights online for a total of £250 including breakfast and off we went with buckets and spades in tow. *Arrival & check in* We arrived at the hotel to find that we had to pay £15 per night to park our car in the hotel garage car park. Of course, this was not a very good start to our stay to say the least as this had not previously been mentioned. Our hotel stay for £250 had jumped to £280 in a matter of seconds! We entered the hotel and headed directly towards the reception area where we were greeted by a friendly receptionist whom after speaking to the manager we managed to haggle away our parking charge! We were given our room key and off we went to find our room. First impressions of the hotel were improving. Although we had a rocky start with the surprise parking charge, they had managed to resurrect themselves. The hotel from what we had seen so far was good. The décor and furnishings looked elegant and appeared to fit in with the atmosphere of the hotel with its fine sweeping staircases and fine furniture. *Our room* As we had booked the family room, we did expect the room to be of a good size and it did not disappoint. To our delight we had also been upgraded to one of the sea view rooms. This was absolutely delightful and the view was stunning especially as we had chosen to visit over the few sunny days of the summer! As promised, the room had play station facilities for the children which was a Godsend to us after two busy days and gave us the added bonus of an hours relaxation whilst the children played on this. The furniture was of a good standard, there were high backed chairs, table, dressing table and a wardrobe in our room. We had the expected extras such as mini bar and air conditioning, television, and complimentary water. The beds were a good size and very comfortable with an ample amount of pillows. The bathroom was a good size too and had a good range of complimentary toiletries for us to use. The downside to the room was that compared to the other De Vere chain hotels which I have visited, I found the décor to be slightly dated and did not seem to be up to the standard of their other hotels. *Breakfast* Breakfast is served in the light and airy garden room and offers a wide time span so can suit the early bird or those who wish to have a lie in. We found the breakfast buffet to have a good variety of foods with a hot and cold selection. The breakfast was self serve and offered hot food in the style of the traditional English breakfast, toast cereals, pastries, yoghurts and fruit. The breakfast buffet was of very high quality and the breakfast staff were very friendly and helpful. *Bar area* There were two bar areas in the hotel. The lounge was the area that we used the most and was a very nice and calm environment. We enjoyed afternoon tea in here on the afternoon of arrival which was a selection of sandwiches, scones and tea. It was a relatively formal experience but still relaxed at the same time and compared to a café, this afternoon tea was relatively pricey, however, in a hotel environment it did seem to be relatively well priced and was very enjoyable indeed. The other bar area specialized in different kinds of Whiskey and was more of a bar environment that the lounge. We much preferred the lounge as we found that it was a more relaxed and informal area with the children. *Restaurants* The hotel has its own restaurant named 'Oscars' and its own bistro. Although the menu looked very tempting with many choices of fish to suit its seaside location we chose not to dine here. The restaurant looked very elegant with its wood paneling and chandeliers, however it appeared to be an area that I would prefer to dine in without the children. *Other facilities* Along with the above leisure areas, the hotel boasts its own spa, gym and swimming pool. Sadly as our stay was very short and the weather was good, we did not get to try any of these facilities, however the spa treatments did look very tempting. If we had of stayed at the hotel during the colder months then I am sure that we would have taken advantage of the indoor heated pool with its Jacuzzi and the steam room, however with the summer sun, it seemed to much of a shame to neglect the beautiful beach. *Summary* Although we had a very nice stay here, I did find the standards to be below the usual De Vere standards. The hotel was elegant though dated and looked in need of a re decoration and some areas needed a touch of tender loving care. Although the facilities on offer were also equal to other hotels in the chain, again, these facilities still did not feel as though they compared in quality. The advantage point to the Royal Bath is by fa r its location, this cannot be beaten. Bearing in mind, the dated décor and the surprise parking fee, I am sad to say that this does drop my rating of the hotel. I found the rate that we paid of £250 for two nights with breakfast was about right. I certainly would not have been happy if I had been expected to pay the hotels standard charge. Will I return again? It depends on the offer and the price although sadly I wouldn't rush to book another stay.
Our friends have recently purchased a house in Holland Park and after a day of helping them move, we decided to head off to a local pub for a few drinks. We found ourselves in the pub longer than anticipated and by the time we all realised that we were hungry, the pub had finished serving food. It was suggested by my husband that we head off to Tootsies. Tootsies Holland Park is located on Holland Park avenue and is a short hop, skip and a jump from Holland Park tube station and it is maybe worth mentioning that Holland Park was in fact the first Tootsies restaurant which of their now ever growing chain. It is located in the middle of a row of shops and appears quite small from the outside, however inside there is a decently sized seating area available. As we arrived at the restaurant at just after 10pm, it was quite quiet, therefore we were seated immediately and were able to choose our table. We chose to sit near the window and watch the world go by along the bustling road. Tootsies is a perfect location for good food in a modern yet friendly setting. The décor is basic yet comfortable and there is a very relaxed and informal feel in their restaurants which I like. *Service and food* Our waitress appeared friendly and welcoming and handed us the menus whilst informing us to give her a shout when we were ready. As we were all slightly merry, Tootsies fell into the perfect category for post pub comfort food and before I had even examined the menu, I knew that I would be taking one of their delicious and filling burgers. There is an extensive choice of foods available on the menu with food for both adults and children. Tootsies restaurant begin their day by serving breakfast. The menu then proceeds on to offer set lunch time menus and dishes such as burgers, pasta, salads and sandwiches. There is also a good selection of starters, sides and desserts. There is something for everyone on their menu range and their food is delicious. It is also worth mentioning that Tootsies is also very child friendly and offers a wonderful children's menu which is inspired by Annabel Karmel, the children's nutritionist. My favourite Tootsies dish by far is the chilli burger which is served with fries and a small side salad. The perfect accompaniment to this is of course their home made coleslaw which is lovely. The burger is large in size with a juicy and high quality burger and is topped with home made chilli. The fries are always crispy and evenly cooked and the coleslaw is freshly made with carrot, lettuce and mayonnaise. I can never quite manage to finish my food here as the portions are very generous. This visit was to be as good as it usually is. We received our drinks and waited for our food which was to follow in good time. Alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks are available here and they also have a good wine menu, though I usually take the optimum drink to accompany my burger, a coke. *Summary* The only negative that I can find with Tootsies is that I feel that it is slightly over priced. When I am in London, I expect to pay the prices as it is the same everywhere, however, I think that outside of London, the prices are on the high side. All in all, a great relaxed restaurant with good, stodgy comfort food and excellent service.
Before I even start my review I can hear what some of you are probably thinking and yes, I do have a slight 'In the night garden' theme going on here. Thank my toddler for that, still, an improvement on the Teletubbies I think. So, back to the issue in hand - the ready bed. We purchased this as an accompaniment to our traveling holiday last summer for our little boy's use of course. We needed something a little more comfortable than a sleeping bag yet something close to the ground that he could not fall off and this was our solution. *The product* The ready bed is an inflatable bed that comes packed in its own little carry case along with its own easy to use pump. The perfect little package. The manufacturers recommend that it is best suited for children aged two and above. *Our verdict* The bed folds into a relatively small package and fits well along with the foot pump into its neat little carry case. It inflates easily and does not take excessive effort or a large amount of time. When inflated, the bed is a good size. There are bolsters on either side of the bed which prevents the toddler from rolling off and also there is a headboard for added comfort. There is a built in soft and comfortable cover which is soft, cosy and warm. Despite the manufacturers guidelines of being more suitable for two years plus, we used it for our sixteen month old baby and although he could not fall asleep there like in his cot, we found that we could get him to sleep and then he would sleep very comfortably in the bed. For a little person, the bed appears soft and cosy and a very good buy as it is a very versatile travel bed up until around the age of five. My little boy obviously loves it as it has his favourite characters on it. The Tombliboos can be found on the head board and Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy can be found on the cover. We paid £29.99 for this product from Mothercare which is a reasonable price and we find it to be very good value for money. A recommended product from us and an easy and versatile product to travel with.
After reviewing a lesser brand of wipes a few days back, I thought that it would be appropriate to write a review on the product that I was comparing to. The product that I will be reviewing are the sensitive the baby wipes. *The product* The product description specifies that the wipes are comfort soft and perfume free. It is also specified that Pampers Sensitive Wipes are designed with a touch of lotion and milk essentials and help restore the natural balance of your baby's skin. They come in packs of sixty three wipes and for an average price of around £2.39 (as of February 2009). *My verdict* These wipes do exactly as described. A thorough wipe can be made with one wipe due to their generous size and moistness. When using these, I can feel the softness on my hands which reflects the claim of 'a touch of lotion'. Each wipe is soft but strong and has a pleasant and clean smell to it. The packet feels soft and squishy to touch which shows the softness and the moistness inside. Although the packet has no fancy resealable lid on it, the adhesive opening lasts long enough to open and reseal for the life of the packet of wipes. Although my son has sensitive skin, these wipes are soft and gentle on his face and bottom. They leave no red marks and only a wipe is needed, not a scrub as it feels with some wipes. I find these wipes very versatile and I also use them for myself as a good make up remover. I too have sensitive skin and find that they are soft, delicate and refreshing whilst still able to perform a thorough cleansing job. *Summary* Yes, the wipes are double the price of some other brands but in my opinion I believe that I get double the quality and that due to their effectiveness that they also last double the amount if time. I have found no other wipe product that works as well as these and I do believe that it is well worth paying extra for this product as they are so much softer and friendlier to my toddler's skin. I have no doubt that these are my number one wipes and will continue to be for a long time.
Well, I think that I may have mentioned earlier that my son is a big fan of In the night garden, particularly the main three characters - Makka Pakka, Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy. We have now got to the stage where he is turning into a big boy and it is now time for a booster seat rather than a high chair. Sadly, at the point that this happened, he took quite a liking to sitting on a regular chair on which he cannot reach the table properly. As cute as this is, it really is not practical during dinner. Based on this, it was soon time to look to purchase the booster seat. We headed off to Mothercare where we tried many boosters that he disliked being strapped into. Eventually we came across this particular booster seat. From the moment he saw Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy he was smitten and even happy to be strapped in. We were onto a winner and this instantly purchased. *The product & verdict* We got home with the product and obviously wanted to set it up straight away. The seat is very versatile. It can be used in the home or taken out with you as it folds away perfectly into a neat carry bag. We opened up the booster and re packed it in order to try how easy this was. It was very quick and easy to set up and pack back up which is excellent as when leaving a restaurant, it is nice to be able to pack up relatively quickly. The seat itself is padded but robust. This seat base has two adjustable buckles at the bottom in order to fit it to the base of the chair and be able to adjust for the perfect fit. This is the same at the back of the chair. There is a fastening which can be adjusted around the back of the chair. The toddler sits safely and securely on the chair by being fastened in around the pelvis area by two adjustable straps. My son was very keen to get straight into the chair when we got home and ran towards it shouting 'makka pakka' and 'upsy daisy' . We fastened him in and he sat there happily for thirty minutes before dinner was prepared. A definite hit then! My son is like any other toddler and makes a mess. WE have found that the seat is easily cleanable and wiped down and foods that I thought may have left a grease stain, luckily have not after being cleaned with a product such as Flash. *Value* At £24.99 (as of February 2009), I find this booster seat very good value for money. Mothercare do in fact do another booster inexactly the same style but minus the character brand and this is priced at £22.99. Based on this I feel that an extra £2 for the character brand is not too bad. You can get boosters for cheaper than this one but based on the fact that it is so easily transportable, I believe it makes it good value for money. A well designed booster seat to fit around any chair and occasion.
The Radisson Edwardian Mayfair is a hotel that I have had the pleasure to stay at on a few occasions now. The hotel has stood in its current location since 1927, however it is only within the last decade that it has been owned by Radisson Edwardian and has recently undergone a large refurbishment. The refurbishment was said to have cost seventy million pounds and having stayed in the hotel before and after I honestly think that it was well worth it. My review is based on my last stay at this hotel. *The hotel - first impressions* The hotel is located in up market Mayfair and is in walking distance of Bond street, Piccadilly circus and Green park. There are excellent transport links and the location is just around the corner from Green Park tube station. On arrival in our taxi, we arrived outside the large and grand looking building to be greeted by the doorman whom promptly greeted us from our taxi and collected our bags. We were ushered through the doors and into a large reception lobby which is a large, airy and well designed foyer which is furnished in designer ranges. The reception staff were very friendly and dealt with our check in very promptly but efficiently. Considering the grandeur of the hotel, I was very pleased to find the receptionists friendly and welcoming and not as snooty as they can be in similar venues. *Our room* We had booked a deluxe double room and we were very pleased with the room that greeted us. The room was large and lived up to its promise of space. There was a large king size bed, with beautifully designed furniture such as chairs, tables and a dressing table/desk area. The décor was subtle and modern whilst the bed proved to be comfortable and inviting with a plentiful amount plum pillows and extra scatter cushions. There were the standard extras such as internet access, television, premium sound system and mini bar. One of the features that I particularly liked about this room was the walk in wardrobe which was reached by a door leading off from the bedroom. Here, was a plentiful space for hanging clothes plus the availability of a trouser press. This was indeed a wonderful feature and I would love to have one at home too. The bathroom was modern and well designed. There was a bath, separate shower and amazingly enough a television! To my delight there was also a good selection of premium toiletries for our use. During our two night stay we found the room to be very comfortable and were very impressed at the lack of road noise from the nearby busy road. The deluxe room was definitely worth the extra money. *The bar and restaurant* There are two bars in the hotel - The Mayfair bar and the Amba bar . The Amba bar is a relatively small but comfortable area with table service as expected from a five star hotel. There was a good range of drinks available along with a complimentary bowl of mixed nuts. The service here was again very friendly yet not intrusive. The prices were relatively high but then again I was sat in a Mayfair five star hotel drinking champagne cocktails. The grill area was in the same style of décor - elegant yet chic and contemporary. We ate here on a Saturday night and although it was quite busy, the staff were fast and efficient with no long waits for food or service. The food was of an excellent standard and tasted delicious. Obviously, dining in central London is not cheap, therefore as expected, the prices were quite high but well worth the extra expense for a luxury treat. The Mayfair bar is apparently voted as one of London's best bars and I can see why. The bar oozes style and sophistication. There are a number of drinks available and a to class cocktail menu. I enjoyed my few hours here by admiring the bar tenders mojito making skills and he received much praise for this. There is also food on offer though we did not eat here as we chose to eat in the Amber grill and there are a large selection of seats ranging from bar side to individual tables. this is a very chic bar with mood lighting and a great atmosphere. Breakfast ~ We opted for breakfast in bed on both mornings after some long evenings in the bars! The service was excellent again. The food delivery was on time and the English breakfast was well delivered with tasty and premium products with fresh coffee, pastries and freshly squeezed juices. *Other services* Although we didn't use them, the hotel also offers a spa, gym and a casino. In the spa, there are a number of packages and treatments available for both men and women. *To summarise* This was a high quality and costly hotel. For a two night stay in a double deluxe room and excluding any food, drink or mini bar that we used this cost us just over four hundred pounds. Unless you are loaded with money, this will be a very enjoyable luxury treat. The rooms are luxurious and enjoyable whilst the bars and restaurants are a pleasure to relax and dine in. Again, on the costly side but this is a hotel where you have to loosen your purse strings with confidence to really be able to enjoy your stay. A highly recommended hotel and I am very pleased to say that aside from the price tags, I cannot fault it.
After reading many other quizzes, I decided to take a look at this one and review myself for a change! *A general quiz about me* Gender: Female Birthday: February 26th Eye colour: Green Hair colour: Dark Brown Height: 5"10 Current job: Nurse ***Favourite*** Food: anything Italian really Colour: purple - any shade of Season: This really is a tough one as I love the cosiness of winter yet I love the al fresco living of summer. Drink: Ribena - original blackcurrant Chocolate bar: Twix or very closely followed by Kitkat chunky Restaurant: Quod in Oxford ***Your*** Bedtime: around midnight - should be earlier really Weaknesses: I can be far too caring sometimes Fears: mice and frogs - they make me SCREAM First Thought Waking Up: Is it that time already? ***This or That*** Orange or Apple juice: orange juice, preferably freshly squeezed with bits Dog or Cat: Dog every time Pepsi or Coke: Coke of course (preferably cherry) Scary Movie or Funny Movies: Funny movies Chocolate or Vanilla: if we're talking about ice cream I'm not really too bothered about either, however if we're talking about chocolate bars...... Black or White: Black Truth or Dare: Truth most of the time. Depends who's asking. Live Forever or Die Young: Of course I would choose to live forever but stay young too. Mud or Dirt: Mud mud mud Gold or Silver: Silver and minimalist ***Have You Ever*** Drunk: Yes, I drink every day to survive - water may I add! Smoked: In my teenage years ... Taken drugs: Proud to say - No Broken the law: I guess we all have in a way - only small minor things though I hasten to add. Been arrested: my my my - of course not! Shoplifted: No, I have not Cut your own hair: Yes as a two year old - a huge pig tail. Burnt stuff because you were bored: erm...NO! Danced in the rain: Yes :o) Had a long distance relationship: If you classify 135 miles as long distance? We're now married! Been stalked: Oh good gosh, yes, by more than one person too - guess I must attract them. Skinny Dipped: In my younger years - underneath the stars in the Med, yes. Broken a bone: No, I haven't actually. Been in an Accident: No, I never have. Been in Love: Oh yes :o) Kissed the opposite sex: Yes, I have three children you know! ***Do You*** Shower Daily: Yes - at least once Sing in the Shower: No, not at all. Sing Well: No, not at all Swear: rarely Believe in yourself: 75% of the time, yes Want to go to University: Already have Want to Get Married: Already am married Want to Have Kids: I have three already, 10 year old twins and a toddler. Get Along With Your Siblings: Yes, my little brother is nine years younger than me, and naturally I am a protective bi sister. Like Thunderstorms: In the right situation yes Play an Instrument: Can play the piano a little Speak a Foreign Language: Yes, French, Swedish and some German Sleep with Stuffed Animals: Ha ha - if you like to refer to my husband in this way :o) Keep a Diary/Journal: I have a blog on my family website. ***Can You*** Roll Your Tongue in a Circle: Yes I can Both Ways: Yes Juggle: I cannot juggle, no Do the Splits: I wish! Say the Alphabet Backwards: If I try very, very hard Write With Both Hands: No ***Random*** Is Your Window Open: No' it is far too cold with all of this snow. What Colour is Your Toothbrush: purple and white Do You Believe in Love at First Sight: I'm not too sure Did You Have Long Hair as a Kid: No, not until my teenage years. What Cell Phone Provider Do You Have: O2 Do You Know All the Words to the National Anthem: No - just the first verse Last Time You Swam in a Pool: a few weeks ago If You Were a Crayon What Colour Would You be: purple Ever caught a Fish: Yes Can You Stick Your Fist in Your Mouth: Erm, no!
When it comes to dish cleaning, my dish washer wins hands down but there are still occasions when it is necessary to use a conventional scourer pad, pair of rubber gloves and reach for the washing up liquid. I must say, yes it is a rare occasion such as now when my kitchen is being renovated hence my sink is out of use so I decided that after rekindling my relationship with washing up liquid, this could be the perfect time to write this review. *The purchase* I really took quite a risk the first time that I purchased this product. Usually, I would automatically purchase some sweet smelling fairy liquid as my hands are very sensitive and other brands have been quite harsh on them in the past to the point of cracked skin. However on this occasion I decided to try a slightly cheaper liquid and to try the Asda own brand. With such a selection of fragrances and promises on the bottles it is hard to know where to start. This purchase was like a pot luck pick. Obviously, the lavender and tea tree washing up liquid won. Why? I chose it simply for the fact that I like the colour, purple is in fact my favourite colour and I was intrigued to what the mix of lavender and tea tree would smell like. *The product* According to the advertising, the liquid is infused with lavender and sprinkled with tea tree. The liquid comes in a 500ml bottle and as of February is priced at 72p per bottle. *My verdict* I got my product home and decided to wash some dishes. The liquid itself is quite thick which is always a good attribute as less liquid should be required. I was very impressed to find that just a small squirt into my sink left the water filled with sweet smelling lathered bubbles. The liquid easily removed food and grease from my crockery and utensils. I also found that pans were easy to clean and even after a small soaking grill pans were also easy to clean. Unlike some other brands, the washing up liquid does not damage my sin nor cause any discomfort. I find the liquid to be just as effective as Fairy and at a cheaper price tag. *Summary* I do really like this product. I have regularly re purchased this product and imagine that I will continue to do so. It is more expensive than the regular Asda brand but the premium label lives up to its name and does an equally good job as Fairy would t a cheaper price. I love the fragrance of the product, it is very pleasant and emits any chemical smells, a very natural scent. Highly recommended.