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    • More +
      02.09.2012 15:24
      Very helpful



      An essential part of any trip to Yorkshire

      My fiancé and I booked a long needed and deserved holiday recently to York, (sadly not New York, we couldn't stretch to that!) we stayed 5 nights in the city centre at an apartment that was perfect....that's another story and ripe for reviewing in it's own right.

      Now I have long wanted to visit Betty's in Yorkshire, I am a big fan of tea rooms in general and always manage to sniff them out when we visit anywhere new. A big pot of tea with scones and lashings of jam and cream is my idea of heaven (not my hips idea though!)

      I was delighted to discover that in York itself there are two branches of Betty's, in actual fact there are several in the area, including York, Harlow Carr (on the outskirts of Harrogate, Northallerton and Ilkley. I hear that the owners refuse to open any further branches further afield as they want to be able to keep an eye on them personally and expanding would erode their charm, I like that.

      I always assumed that Betty's was English so was surprised to learn on visiting that the chain was begun by a Swiss chap who settled in England in the early part of the 1900's. The food now served is a mixture of Swiss and traditional Yorkshire fare, trust me it's better than it sounds.

      We visited the main branch in the centre of York, it's located in an imposing building on a corner of St. Helens Square, you can't really miss it as it stands out the second you turn the corner into the square itself. The window displays draw you in with their rows of delicious looking breads, cakes and other rather lovely treats, of course we didn't need any persuading as we had long ago made up our mind that a visit for afternoon tea was not to be missed during our stay.

      We decided to visit early afternoon on a Tuesday thinking it wouldn't be too busy...hmmmm I was wrong there...when we arrived the queue to enter was snaking down the road and around the corner, sod it though I want tea! so we joined the queue prepared to wait for however long it took. Thankfully we only had to wait for around 15 minutes to get in, not too bad really considering the state of the line when we first arrived. We actually didn't have to wait for the queue to completely go down as a waitress approached us and offered us a table as there were only two of us, result!

      We shown to a table in the main dining room with a view overlooking the square outside, the table was small and close to the others around it. The table was so small in fact that we struggled to fit all our food and drink onto it!

      Once seated a waitress welcomed us to Betty's and presented us a with a menu each, we didn't need it as we knew what we had come for, full afternoon tea each - no mucking about. Here I would point out that I love tea whereas my other half hates it and would rather drink his own...erm....you know. We asked if we could swap his tea for coffee which we would told with a smile, yes fine Sir, just choose the coffee you'd like from the list. Nice.

      Whilst waiting for our order to arrive we checked the rest of the menu, the selection of teas and coffees is as long as your arm with every type you can think of and more besides. Impressive and worth a visit for itself to try something different. There is an extensive food menu with anything from a simple tea cake right up to a full on evening meal, you could, if so inclined eat there for breakfast, lunch and dinner (might cost you though)

      Like I said, we chose the afternoon tea with a pot of tea for me and coffee for my better half. This cost us the rather princely sum of £17,95 each. For that we received a selection of sandwiches, a scone with cream and jam and a selection of little cakes all presented on a silver stand. It looked impressive and tasted just as good, in fact there was so much of it I struggled to finish it all. Our drinks were very nicely presented too with proper silverware and china. I'm such a chav that I didn't know what the tea strainer was for! LOL! (I know, I know.....)

      We enjoyed our tea enormously and felt like we'd had a proper good feed by the end of it. Well you should after spending the best part of £40. The food was fresh and full of flavour, and didn't take an age to arrive despite the place being packed to the rafters while we were there.

      I would say the downside to our visit was, apart from the long queue to get in and crowds getting in the way, trying to book a table the evening before. We thought it wise to see if we could a table to save having to queue and potentially being disappointed. We paid a visit the Monday evening and asked a young lady in the cafe if this was possible, she said she would check....she returned saying you can reserve afternoon tea if you like? ok great we'll do that we said....she then tried to flog us gift vouchers which we had to pay for there and then....erm that's not what we asked for....can.we.book.a.table.for.tomorrow......that's how I actually had to ask her....erm, I'll check she said....OH FOR...forget it, we'll try our luck tomorrow!

      ...I have no idea if she was new, a bit dim or what....but...anyway's despite that we had a great time and would recommend Betty's to anyone visiting the area. You have to, it's the law!


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      • More +
        31.08.2012 11:25
        Very helpful



        Good fun, and a great time waster!

        The Sims gaming franchise has been around since 2000 though during the last 12 years I haven't given the game even a passing glance when out shopping, why would I want to waste my time playing a stupid video game.......? oh how that all changed last year when the online version - Sims Social was launched....

        What is it?
        The Sims Social is an online game accessed via Facebook which enables users to create an persona for themselves, build and decorate their own house, start a career and interact with neighbours (hence the Social side to it)

        How do you access it?
        The game is run via Facebook so you need to create a Facebook account if you don't already have one to access the game. The game can be found easily via the App centre.

        How do you get started?
        One you've found the game in the Facebook App centre it guides you through the set up process, this is something you can't skip I believe but is useful if you're new to the concept of the Sims so you can learn how to make the most of it.

        Initially you're shown your Sim character in all her or his glory and can customise them. You can choose hair, eye and skin colour, their clothes and shoes and any accessories from a pretty decent selection. You can also choose a trait for them - for example creative or sporty. You need to choose your trait carefully as if you want to change it later on it will cost you real money (!) called Sim Cash, that I will get to later.

        Once you have selected the appearance and trait for your Sim character you are then shown your house, it's basic to begin with containing only the essentials - living / bedroom / kitchen and bathroom, with a small amount of furniture and decorations to get you started including a computer and guitar so you can start to earn money.

        How do you progress through the game?
        When you first start the game you are given a small amount of cash to get going - there are 3 types of currency in Sims Social world, I will try and explain them below:

        *Simoleons - these are virtual coins that you easily earn by performing actions in the game, either by using items (known as skilling up) or by interacting with your neighbours. The amount of simoleons you earn can vary wildly depending on what you are doing, for instance simply playing a piano for fun can earn you 10 whilst working at the highest level on one of the art skill items whilst being inspired can earn you almost 60.

        *Social points - these are a bit harder to earn, you mainly earn these by interacting with your neighbours in the game, they look like little blue diamonds. Once you have them they are worth saving up

        *Sims Cash - this you can only gain by either buying with real money (which I personally don't agree with) or if you play the game regularly you are given a small amount every 5 days, up to 10 at a time. I have only ever received 5 free at once.

        The above currencies can be used to buy things in the game, from extra rooms for your house, decorations such as wallpaper and furniture to clothes and shoes. Anything you buy adds to your game value which is shown at the bottom of the screen next to an image of your characters face. The higher your house value the more access you get to items in the shop, plus I've noticed that the area in front of your house gains more kerb appeal the higher your house level goes.

        To keep things interesting in addition to expanding your home and increasing your wardrobe there are items in the game known as skills items. They are divided into categories such as writing, art and cooking. For instance you can buy a cooker and unlock levels in it using ingredients gained from working through the game. The higher the level the more Simoleons you can earn.

        How do you add neighbours to the game?
        This is easy, simply click the add neighbour button whilst in game and wait for your friends to accept. The more friends you have using the game the easier it is to progress and it makes it more fun as you have more neighbours to interact with. Once the game starts you do get one neighbour called Bella to get you started though that isn't enough to make the most of the game.

        What else can you do in the game?
        When you start the game there are a multitude of little quests which pop up, they are relatively easy to complete and earn you varying amounts of Simoleons and other items to help you progress though the game. In addition to these are there are also weekly larger quests which require more time and effort to complete - this is where having several friends / neighbours comes in handy. Some of them are timed, in that you have around 7-9 days to finish them with the incentive of earning a prize of extra house value at the end.

        Downsides to the game?
        There are a few, as with any online game the Sims Social isn't perfect and at times is a bit buggy. The game is often down for maintenance by the developers and there are snags where it reloads itself. This doesn't happen enough to affect playability I think.

        Once you start the game there is no way to reset it. You can only carry on and not go backwards. If you want to start from scratch you'd have to create a brand new facebook account and start again.

        The game is very addictive, I have been known to spend several hours at a time on it! It is great fun and a brilliant time waster ;) it's definitely worth a look if you want a cheap bit of entertainment


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        • iPhone 3GS 8GB / Smartphone / 55 Readings / 51 Ratings
          More +
          01.01.2012 18:51
          Very helpful



          An excellent smart phone, a true all rounder.

          I have long been an admirer of the iPhone, since its release I have been intrigued by them but always been put off by the (at the time) high cost and the fact they required a contract unless you were prepared to shell out close to £500 to secure one sim free.

          Until recently I have had a standard mobile phone and an iPod Touch. I have grown to live my life on my iPod and have slowly over the past few months started to wish it had phone and text capacities too. Having something that included everything in one package was I realised the way to go.

          My mind was finally made up last week when a friend came to stay just after Xmas. She had an iPhone 3 and was besotted with it. I had a play with it and after hearing my friends testimonial decided I had to have one too....only however if I could find a good deal, onto the internet I headed to see what was available.

          After only a hours search online I found the best possible deal I could via way of the Carphone Warehouse. £15 per month with T-Mobile, this included the 8gb iPhone for free too. Convinced this was too good to be true we all trooped over to our local branch to see if the deal was still available and whether I could have the phone there and then. Luckily for me they had one left in stock and I passed a credit check with no issues whatsoever.

          I am therefore the proud owner of a free iPhone 3GS (8GB) ok the phone isn't technically free as I have to pay £15 per month for a 24 month contract, but I do get 50 texts and 50 calls per month for that, plus 500mb of data. Perfect for my needs.

          As for the phone itself, well where to start....?

          The cost of the iPhone can very enormously depending on where you buy it from, and whether you choose pay as you go or a contract. On pay as you go you of course have to buy the phone outright which can cost around £300-£400. You are then free to insert your own sim and off you go. I however wasn't prepared to fork out that kind of dosh for a phone though so chose to get a contract. My deal with T-Mobile which I believe is no longer available costs me £15 per month for 50 minutes, 50 texts and 500mb of data for the internet and emails over 24 months. This is fine for my needs but there are a myriad of deals available should you need more calls per month etc.... monthly plans vary in cost from £20 right up to £90, there are too many to list here but a rough guide is the more calls and texts you need, the more it will cost you. Not rocket science really.

          ***What comes with it?***
          The iPhone comes in a smart looking black box with a picture of the phone on the top. Inside are the phone (obviously), a pair of white standard Apple earphones, mains charger/synch cable and operating instructions. They also chuck in a couple of Apple logo stickers which I'm not entirely sure what to do with.

          ***Setting up the Phone***
          This is simple. On getting home I took the phone out of it's box and inserted the sim card. This is little fiddly as you have to use a little metal tab in the box and use that to open a a tab on the end of the phone, once you've managed that it's all good.

          Once the sim is in you need to plus the phone into the charger and get some juice into it. This took about an hour before the phone showed any sign of life.

          Following this a picture appeared on the screen of the phone prompting me to connect the phone to iTunes via my computer, this I did with the included synch cable. iTunes almost instantly recognised my new phone which I was able to give a name and synch with all the apps and songs etc.. I already had.

          From opening the box to getting the phone completely set up and operating with my personal email accounts, Facebook etc....took less than 2 hours. Very impressive.

          If you don't know what a iPhone looks like by now you're either living in North Korea or been in a cave/or Mars for the past 5 years.

          For the benefit of those who really want to know...the iPhone 3GS is sleek looking bit of kit. It's black in colour with a silver band around the front edge. The only text on it are the name of the phone on the back along with the serial number.

          The screen takes up most of the front and is dark grey in colour when not being used, blending in nicely with the rest of the phone. On the front are the home button at the bottom and the microphone at the top. The earphone jack and on/off button are at the top edge and the volume button at the side. These are easy to navigate and find your way around, especially if you've been used to using an iPod Touch.

          ***Battery Life***
          The battery life is around 30 hours so I'm told when in stand by, of course using the phone regularly depletes this much more quickly and I find I need to charge it fully every evening after a full days use. Using apps or games that are graphics rich will deplete the battery even more quickly. You do receive a warning message when the phone has less than 20% battery left. I have discovered since writing my initial review that you can turn on a setting which allows you to see on the screen exactly how much battery is left in percentages, i.e 39% I find this very useful, much more than just a bar on the screen showing full etc.....

          The built in camera is a 3mega pixel one which although cannot compete with stand along cameras is more than adequate for the kind of snaps you would expect to take on a phone. I have tried it out a few times and found it takes very good pictures that are clear and in focus. You can even zoom in and edit them before saving to your memory. A good feature is the ability to tweet them directly from the camera or send them to Facebook or via email.

          One of the best things about the iPhone are the apps. It comes pre-loaded with standard ones including photos, contact book, weather, notes, YouTube etc....also rather bizarrely a stocks app which I see no point it.

          Via the App store online you can download virtually thousands of free and paid for apps, there are apps for anything pretty much now and for all tastes and interests. Once you have them on your phone you can arrange them in any layout you like and also delete them easily should you grow tired of them or (god forbid) run of out room.

          I can't review the iPhone without actually talking about the phone part of it can I?! The icon for the phone is green and by default at the bottom of the screen. By clicking on it brings up several options including your contacts, voicemail and the phone keypad. You can either make a call by bringing up the keypad and typing the number in or by accessing a number via your contact book.

          The call quality is clear and loud and connects without any issues that I have encountered. You can choose from a long list of built in ringtones though, for some odd reason, you can't select any of your songs as a ringtone instead. That would be a nice added feature (something for the iPhone 5 perhaps?)

          ***Text Messages***
          Text messages are easy and fun to send. Instead of having individual messages clogging up your inbox it saves complete conversations which I find a nice touch, also easy to navigate. A great feature with the iPhone is the ability to send messages to other iPhones or iPads via iMessage. This system is like SMS but free :) if you send a message to another iPhone it doesn't cost a penny. This is fantastic as the person I text the most has an iPhone, result!

          ***Other Features****
          I have been playing with the phone on and off and have discovered lots of little features which I find very useful and at times fascinating. To start with, you have the ability to create shortcuts to use in text messages, for instance you can add a shortcut for "See you soon" as "SUS", when you type these letters in a text the phrase it connects with pops up automatically.

          One last thing I should add about the phone, before I bore everyone...it's very advisable to put the phone in a case with a screen protector. The shiny surface picks up greasy marks and finger prints very easily and you don't want to wiping them off every five minutes.

          ***Would I recommend the iPhone?***
          Absolutely, it's a little on the bulky side (especially when in a case) and surprisingly heavy compared to my old mobile but it has everything you could possibly need in one little package. The ability to email, surf the net and call people on the go without having to search out a wifi spot is brilliant. Go get one!


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          • More +
            26.12.2011 20:19
            Very helpful



            Avoid if you value your sanity

            I hadn't given the 3 mobile network a second thought until I met my partner. I use Virgin personally and am very happy with them considering I bought my phone almost 7 years ago and have never ever had a problem with it or the network coverage. I did consider switching to 3 a year ago when I discovered my partner and I could get very cheap calls to each other, that is until he started having problems with this phone.

            I forget the exact name and model of my partners phone but it's a clam shell design one made by Sony. He upgraded to this particular model a year into his contract and at first seemed very happy with it. After about 3 months though things started to go wrong, the phone would after being charged up for several hours suddenly lose all battery power and switch itself off after only a few minutes, once it happened during a call which was frustrating for him as I'm sure you'll understand.

            We tried charging the phone again, letting the battery run down, not using it so much etc...but the problem remained. In the end the phone was rendered unsuable so we trotted off to our local 3 store to get it sorted, oh what fun that turned out to be.....

            At first they were very apologetic and offered to return the phone to be looked at and repaired if neccessary, we waited a week then we told we could pick it up. In the store the phone seemed fine when the assistant demonstrated it and said all appeared ok now. When we got home however the problem with the battery started again so of course we had to go back to the store, again. This wouldnt have been so bad if our local store wasn't a 40 mile round trip away costing us time and money in petrol which we couldn't really afford.
            The phone went back 3 times, after which the store refused to deal with us anymore claiming it was our problem and not theirs, well that's true actually as my partner was paying out each month for a service he couldn't use, how is that right?

            Eventually my partner lost all paitience with 3 and sent the phone direct to the manufacturer to be restored, after which it worked perfectly and has done ever since, why couldnt the store have arranged that for us in the first place and save us all the hassle?!

            My partner has vowed never to use 3 again once his current contract expires next year, sadly until the he is stuck with them as he cannot afford to buy his contract out and I certainly dont want anything to do with it. The staff at 3 were increasingly hostile towards us as we had to keep going back, in the end they wrote to my partner claiming he had been aggresive and threatened to ban him from ever going back! idiots...

            My advise, steer well clear of 3, they are a bunch of cowboys who treat their customers with contempt when things go wrong.

            (I have also uploaded this review to Ciao)


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            • More +
              25.12.2011 20:21
              Very helpful



              Right on!

              I am new convert to Soap and Glory having received a gift set containing their products earlier this month for my birthday. I don't normally premium branded bath and shower goods, thinking that anything that gets washed down the plug hole should be as cheap as possible, I have since learnt the error of my ways and realise that to splash out a little on good quality gear makes bathing even more of a luxurious pleasure.

              ***Who / What is Soap and Glory?***
              Soap and Glory was founded in 2006 by serial suds-loving entrepreneur Marcia Kilgore. Ms. Kilgore is widely renowned as the skincare expert's expert. At the age of 26 she opened her first big business - New York's famous Bliss Spa and has since carried out thousands of treatments on her famous regulars including some of the worlds biggest A-listers.

              ***The Righteous Butter - what's it all about?***
              The Righteous Butter was the company's second product to be launched and has been voted as the UK's best body butter, a well deserved accolade in my humble opinion.

              The butter is packaged in a round salmon pink coloured tub. Full size tubs contain 300ml, I so far have only used a 100ml tub as part of a gift package. The tub is easy to open and close having a screw top lid. The tub has a label on the top and around the middle bearing the products name and a list of ingredients.

              The company itself calls the fragrance of this butter Original Pink(tm). It's hard to place exactly what the smell is but it's certainly a floral one with undertones of coconut and cocoa butter. It's a pleasant fragrance that doesn't make me recoil on opening the tub as some other branded products do.

              Once I have applied the product the smell lingers nicely for a few hours without masking or clashing with my fave perfumes or body sprays, in fact I think it complements them quite nicely.

              The body butter has a creamy texture which feels silky smooth to touch and blends into the skin easily. It's deeply moisturising but yet doesn't leave any greasy film on the skin. I can use this in the morning on my legs after a bath and it sinks in quickly enough to allow me to dress and be ready for work on time. By the end of the day my skin still feels nice and soft and smooth.

              ***Value for Money***
              The full sized tubs which contain 300ml retail for a few pennies over £10. This sounds a lot of money to me but then I have yet to purchase a tub of this size to see how long it lasts. I have got half way through a mini tub in the past 3 weeks however which contains 100ml, so make of that what you will.

              ***Would I recommend this product***
              Yes I would. OK it's pricey but very good quality with a luxurious feel. It's a real treat to apply and looks good on my bathroom shelf.

              ***List of ingredients for those who are interested***
              Aqua (Water), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Rosa Moschata Seed Oil, PEG-100 Stearate, Dimethicone, Parfum (Fragrance), Phenoxyethanol, Dipropylene Glycol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Methylparaben, Carbomer, Propylene Glycol, Ethylparaben, Tocopheryl Acetate, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Limonene, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Potassium Hydroxide, BHT, Linalool, Benzyl Salicylate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Geraniol, Glyceryl Acrylate/Acrylic Acid Copolymer, Tetrasodium EDTA, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Citral, Propylparaben, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Disodium EDTA, Butylparaben, Isobutylparaben


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            • Swinton Insurance / Car Insurance / 35 Readings / 32 Ratings
              More +
              18.12.2011 17:22
              Very helpful
              1 Comment



              A good all round experience.

              It's that dreaded time of year again, My car insurance is up for renewal, *sigh* Since 2008 when I bought my first car and started poodling around town and beyond, I have joined the masses and been drawn into the murky and downright annoying world of motor insurance.

              I never thought I would ever drive and therefore need a policy, but moving to rural Dorset 4 years ago put paid to that as the bus service round these parts is about as frequent and reliable as the Government.

              I have only ever used one insurance company, or should that be intermediary? You see I buy my insurance through Swinton who don't offer policies themselves but find the best price for you from a large bank of insurers saving you the leg work. Similar to the likes of online comparison sites, gocompare etc.....

              ***Why did I use them initially?***
              When I bought my car my partner helped me find insurance by speaking with his regular broker who he has used for years and trusts without question. They saved me the effort of looking myself and obtained quotes from several firms including Swinton. The quote I received from Swinton was the cheapest so naturally I went with them.

              ***Who are Swinton Insurance***
              Swinton Insurance are a company who work with insurers to offer the best possible deal. They have been doing this for over 50 years and are able to provide cover for virtually all cars and from hundreds of insurers at discounts of up to 25%. They have over 600 offices nationwide and also operate online and via the phone.

              ***How to contact them***
              The easiest way to contact them is via their website at www.swinton.co.uk. I personally prefer to speak to a real person so I call them to discuss my insurance and premiums. Their local offices can be contacted via phone though only during office hours, outside these times they run an 0800 number for questions and customer service in general.

              ***My Experience with them***
              I have been very pleased with their service so far. The first two years I held insurance I was prepared to stay with them as due to my lack of driving experience premiums cost pretty much the same whoever I obtained a quote from so it didn't matter who I bought my insurance from. I chose to stick with Swinton to save any hassle and because their customer service was so good. Only an hour ago today I called them to discuss my renewal which is due next month to see what the price would be and I was pleasantly surprised.

              For the past week I have searching and comparing online for quotes, both from comparison sites and from insurers directly. I found a quote from Swinton through a comparison site that was over £10 a month cheaper than my current price, spurred on by this I called them to see what they could offer.

              I called their 0800 nationwide call centre number this afternoon and only had to wait about 30 seconds before being put through to a softly spoken woman. I would also say that I'm very please they employ English people at their call centres. I'm not racist in any shape or form, but I do hate companies who employ people from India etc... who struggle to understand what I'm saying and constantly ask how the weather is.

              The lady I spoke to took all my details and that of my car before looking on her computer for their best price. The quote I was given was higher than that I had seen online. I told her this and after checking again she was able to beat it, ok only by a matter of pence but still a better deal. I was pleased with that so agreed to go ahead.

              I was sent an email almost instantly confirming my new policy and also details of how to find my policy wording online. They also send out paper copies in the post. All I had to do was pay the deposit, equal to one months premium and also agree to send proof of my no claims discount to my local office within 7 days, no hardship there.

              The lady from Swinton was pleasant without being annoying and also wished me a Merry Xmas, it made the experience of sorting my insurance out a pleasurable one, and one that only took 15 minutes from start to finish.

              ***Would I recommend Swinton***
              Yes I would. They do the donkey work for you and are very helpful when you need to speak with them. I can't comment on how easy it is to make a claim as fortunately I haven't had to yet. I will update my review if and when that time comes.


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              • More +
                17.12.2011 17:56
                Very helpful
                1 Comment



                A bargain addition to anyones make up bag

                I confess I am a mascara junkie. It's the first thing I look for when out make up shopping and I always ensure I have at least two in my make up bag at all times, just in case one should break or dry out etc....

                Whilst I love mascara I don't want to pay over the odds for it, in fact £5 is my limit, any more than that is not an option. For this reason I normally choose make up from Boots Natural Collection, ok the packaging is somewhat on the dull side but I'm not buying it to look at, I want it to look good on me.

                Ok, now onto the review of this little beauty:

                As I mentioned above the packaging is nothing to write home about. All products in the Natural Collection range have containers that are white, very plain looking with little if any embellishments. They simply have the brands logo on the side or top and the name of the product. The mascara doesn't look expensive or luxurious however it does have an elegance about it, nice and simple really.

                ***Colours Available***
                There are two shades available, brown/black or just Black. I prefer to use the Black one as it shows up better on my dark eyelashes.

                Like all products in the range, the mascara is very reasonably priced at just £2.99. Very often Boots run promotions such as 3 for 2 so it's possible to buy it even cheaper.

                ***Ease of use***
                I like this mascara very much as it has a thin wand, I find this easy to apply to my lashes and am able to get right into the corners and cover all lashes down the tiny ones on my lower eyelids. Each pump into barrel picks up the perfect amount of product, and I find I don't have any excess to wipe away. I find one layer is good for day time and two or even 3 is perfect for the evenings when you want more coverage and definition. The wand is comfortable to hold too.

                ***Staying Power****
                The mascara once applied and dried lasts all day, I find when I get home from work after an 8 hour shift that it still looks as good as it did first thing and doesn't need topping up.

                ***Ease of removal***
                This is the only place the mascara comes unstuck. I use facial cleansing wipes designed for removing waterproof mascara but even then I have to give it some to get the stuff off my face. I have to rub a few times to remove all traces and often end up red eyed but this effect soon disappears and doesn't leave me feeling sore. I just find it annoying that I have to put so much effort into removing it when I just want to get into bed. I have to use one wipe for each eye most evenings.

                ***How long does a tube last*
                They say you should replace a mascara every 3 months to avoid the risk of infections from old and knackered make up, I however tend to get through a whole tube before then I as I wear mascara every single day. One application for me every day means a tube lasts around two months. I don't begrudge this as it's so cheap.

                ***Overall verdict***
                I'm very pleased with this mascara and have made it regular purchase. After all it's a bargain and does exactly what it says on the tube. Can't argue with that.


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                • Lipton Red Fruit Infusion Tea / Tea / 39 Readings / 38 Ratings
                  More +
                  11.12.2011 20:40
                  Very helpful



                  A lovely alternative to normal tea and coffee

                  I have recently made the decision to reduce the amount of caffeine I consume for health reasons. After 12pm each day my intake of tea, coffee, cola and chocolate stops in an attempt to help me unwind after work and sleep better. I am starting to miss my evening cuppa however, drinking water is something I don't mind at all, but on a cold night sometimes only a hot drink will do, what is the solution?

                  At the weekend just gone I visited my local cafe with my partner for our usual Saturday lunch time treat. Now I usually have a cappuccino or pot of black tea (with milk) but now I've knocked caffeine on the head I needed something else. I didn't fancy a cold drink, milkshakes are fab but not in the middle of winter! I decided to give fruit tea a try, even though the menu didn't state what type or flavour it was. Had to be worth a go.

                  The pot arrived with a delicious smell of strawberries coming from it, turned out the fruit tea was a red fruit infusion by Lipton. My partner looked appalled but I poured a cup regardless, I had paid out over £2 for this after all.

                  The tea has a lovely deep red colour, quite jewell like and not unlike a bottle of strawberry quash. The tea tastes fruity indeed but not too much if that makes sense? it's not sweet at all but is refreshing. You could add sugar if you like a sweeter drink but I believe that would ruin what is essentially a good cuppa. The tiny label on the tea bag didn't state what the ingredients were and the waitress in the cafe was too rushed off her feet to ask so I looked up on line this morning what the ingredients are, what makes it taste so fruity?

                  The tea contains the following: Hibiscus, Rosehips, Strawberry 0.28%, Raspberry 0.28%, Cranberry 0.28%. You can definitely taste the strawberry and the cranberry, they both come through strongly and give the tea a slight edge. I had two cups from my pot and was left feeling satisfied as much as having drunk a coffee or regular tea.

                  I have since found that these tea bags retail for around £2 per box of 20 bags, they are pricey compared with regular tea but are a lovely alternative. I will be treating myself to these in the very near future.


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                • More +
                  11.12.2011 19:27
                  Very helpful
                  1 Comment



                  A great addition to your bathroom routine

                  I'm new to Soap and Glory products having received a gift set recently from my fiancé for my birthday. Until then I didn't give the stuff a look in as I considered it all too expensive (I'm a cheap skate at heart!)

                  Anyways, I received said gift set in the shape of a cube containing 4 miniature bath products and a bath / shower puff. The puff it has to be said is pretty big, a lot bigger than ones I have used previously. This is a good thing in my book as small shower puffs are a nightmare to work with as they take forever to scrub my ample curves and bum with.

                  The puff is made from nylon and is a girly salmon pink colour, handy that as our bathroom suite is pink.....yeah we didn't choose that, it came with our RENTED house, honest..... the puff has a ribbon attached branded with the words Soap and Glory, just in case you forget who made the thing for when you come to buy your next one. I find the ribbon handy as it means you can drape it over the taps once you've finished bathing. I imagine you could also hang it up in the shower, but as we don't have a shower I wouldn't know. Nope, our RENTED house only has a bath...things I put up with...

                  The shower put looks as if it could drink shower gel for breakfast but actually doesn't need much at all to get a good lather, a small squirt is enough to get the suds flowing (and the shower gel, way hey) I find you do have to scrub fairly well to make a difference and get yourself clean, this is fine for every day bathing but I need to supplement this with twice weekly proper industrial style scrubs with exfoliating gloves as my legs suffer with dry skin and in-grow hairs a lot.

                  For day to day use this puff is fine and something I would recommend. I wouldn't buy one individually as they cost the best part of £4 so I'm told which for a bit of plastic on a rope is pushing it. However it does what it's designed to do and for that you can't argue really.


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                  • Brief Encounter (DVD) / DVD / 46 Readings / 45 Ratings
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                    05.12.2011 17:55
                    Very helpful



                    A timeless classic

                    I was introduced to Brief Encounter by my Dad around 10 years ago, he spotted it in HMV for sale and recommended I buy it. Why I thought? it's an old from the 40's which surely won't interest me one bit? After some persuasion (and the fact it only cost £5) I bought it took it home to watch that evening.

                    Well, I was so pleased I listened to my good ole' Dad (God rest his soul), I watched the film that evening in one go without being distracted by anything (a rare occurrence for me, as my attention span is normally shorter than a newts) so impressed was I that I watched it twice more than weekend.

                    The film is a beautiful example of war time cinema, something I wasn't familiar with at all. Shot in black and white and with a running time of just under 1 hour 30 minutes it deserves its status as a British classic.

                    The film is directed by David Lean and stars Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson, the story goes that Mrs. Johnson wasn't keen on making films at the time but relented when shown the script, the story is that powerful.

                    The plot of the film is simple - two people played by the actors mentioned above have a brief encounter, hence the name of the movie, at a train station. This short meeting sets off a chain of events that change both of lives in ways they could never imagine.

                    Celia Johnson plays Laura Jesson, a "happily married woman" and Trevor Howard portrays the role of Dr. Alec Harvey. Following their first chance encounter at a train station, they develop feelings for each other and embark on an affair. This affair however isn't how we would perceive an affair to be in 2011, they never exchange more than a kiss and we never see them consummate their secret relationship. Instead the story concentrates on the emotional side of their dalliance, how they feel about each other and especially Laura's shame at falling for a married man.

                    Laura even at one point confesses to her husband that she has been spending time with another man, however him being so trusting and unsuspecting thinks nothing of it. This goes someway to convince Laura that what she is doing is wrong and that she must "snap out of it"

                    Eventually both Laura and Dr. Alec realise their "affair" cannot continue, after all this movie was made at a time when there was great shame put upon divorced women. Not to mention that fact that society would not accept someone with a seemingly perfect life (nice house, two children and loving husband) to give it all up on a whim.

                    The film portrays an old fashioned view of married life, but then it was made in 1945. Some people may find it hilarious or downright offensive that Laura is expected to have dinner on the table for her husband every night, and to look her best at all times. I personally find it amusing that Laura and her husband are seen sleeping in twin beds :)

                    I have watched the film again this afternoon and will never tire of it. It's simply a beautiful story and wonderfully made, the stunning black and white photography mixes with the outstanding acting to produce a masterpiece in my opinion.

                    I was surprised to learn today on conducting research into the films background, that at the time of its release it was banned in Ireland as it portrayed adulterers in a sympathetic light! I would hardly brand the stars of the film adulterers, rather two people who are struggling with both their feelings and their duties to their families and society in general.

                    There isn't much more to say about this, other than to go see if you haven't already, you won't be disappointed


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                    • More +
                      27.11.2011 12:37
                      Very helpful



                      Not worth the money

                      Ok I will cut straight to the point, Sculptress bars are not great. Sounds harsh but it's true.

                      I "invested" in 3 boxes of these a while back when I was heavily into exercise, running in particular. I was keen at the time to try anything that would enhance my performance and help me improve as quickly as possible, as I'm not a natural born runner being a short stumpy person with tiny short legs. I'm never going to break any speed records so anything that would help would be a huge bonus.

                      How much are they?
                      Now these bars are not cheap, they retail at around £20 per box, each box contains 12 bars. I bought mine from a specialist online retailer which offered a small discount for more than 2 boxes, I'm sure though you could get them slightly cheaper still from the likes of eBay etc.... if you don't want to be lumbered with a whole box of them they can be bought individually but that way they are more pricey, at £2 per bar!

                      What do they taste like?
                      The taste of the bars is odd, chocolately with a strange bitter aftertaste. They are chewy in texture and very dense. I found it hard going to consume a whole bar in one sitting and often had to break them into two or more pieces. The manufacturers recommend you don't have more than two bars per day which was never a problem for me as I simply couldn't stomach more than that. You won't like these I think if you're not a fan of dark chocolate as they are incredibly rich and almost powdery.

                      I don't think they made much difference, if any, to my running performance. I would follow the recommendations by having one an hour before running and also in the evening but soon got fed up due to the downright rubbish taste and texture. I gave up once the 3 boxes had run out. There are much cheaper and tastier ways of getting more protein into your diet than this, and more enjoyable too.

                      These are fine for die hard marathon runners, but for me....sorry!

                      Nutritional values if you're interested are:
                      Per 60g bar (Caramel Crunch)
                      Energy 215kcal/900kJ
                      Protein 16.8g
                      Carbohydrate 25.7g
                      of which sugars 13.2g
                      of which polyols 6.24g
                      Fats 6g
                      of which saturates 2.52g
                      Fibre 0.18g
                      Sodium 0.20g
                      Green Tea 21mg
                      L-Carnitine Tartrate 0.9g


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                    • 17 Eye Shadow Solo Pot / Make Up / 38 Readings / 37 Ratings
                      More +
                      12.11.2011 19:57
                      Very helpful



                      Brilliant addition to any make up bag

                      I love make up, show me a woman who doesn't. Most weekends I like to browse the beauty section of Boots and see what I can find to add to bulging make up bag, I have enough make up really but of course I can't resist buying new stuff so I can keep up with the latest trends and looks.

                      I adore cheap make up, I don't see the point in forking out £20 for a lipstick or £30 for a foundation. It's been proven time and again that they are no better or more long lasting than their cheaper counterparts so I am more than happy to be a skinflint.

                      Boots 17 is one of my favourite brands. The formulations are easy to apply and suit my skin well, I never suffer skin irritations or spots when using it. The prices are very reasonable too which every thing in the range within my budget. I never like to spend more than £10 on a make up item and Boots 17 items are perfect for this.

                      Their eyeshadows are particularly good, I like their individual ones that come in little round pots. They cost just a few pence over £3 which is a bargain in my book. The pots have a screw on lid which has a good tight fit ensuring no spillage of the contents. The pot also feels nice and sturdy, not cheap and plasticy. For this reason you could keep the pot in your handbag without worrying about it breaking and making a mess everywhere.

                      The pots don't come a with an applicator, this doesn't bother me as I don't tend to use them anyway, I prefer to use my fingers to apply eyeshadow. The power is set into the pot with a cute fan effect, of course this won't last long as you rub away the powder but it's a nice touch and not one I would expect from a budget brand.

                      The powder itself has a light pleasant fragrance and blends easily when applied. it does settle slightly into the lines in my eyelids but then I am getting on a bit, 32 aint young anymore is it?! The powder lasts all day and is still in place when I get home from work, I find this impressive as my skin can get greasy and a lot of other brands I have tried haven't lasted more than a couple of hours without fading.

                      I would recommend this eyeshadow to anyone on a budget, or simply those who want a good value product that lasts.


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                    • Maximuscle Shaker / Fitness / 22 Readings / 22 Ratings
                      More +
                      12.11.2011 18:47
                      Very helpful



                      Waste of time and money, avoid

                      A few months back I took out a subscription to a magazine, you know the sort...£1 for 3 issues. I admit I only did this to get some cheap reading and also for the freebie on offer. The freebie was meant to be a luxury bath set but due to a sod up their end I instead received some protein shake powder (why?!) and the above mentioned shaker bottle.

                      I got these for free so can't moan about that, but I was left wondering what on earth I should do with them, after all I'm not the sort to drink protein drinks and certainly didn't want to start now. Despite this however I thought I should try them at least once, after all there was a remote chance I like might like it.....how wrong I was.

                      First of all the shaker is huge, twice the size of an average mug in our house, this meant that the recommended amount of protein shake barely half fills it. I felt short changed already... the idea with the shaker is that you add the protein powder and the recommended amount of water and then shake (obviously to combine it all) the lid of the shaker has a separate section that looks like a large mesh that you push into it before screwing the lid onto the bottle. The mesh in the lid is meant to help mix up and strain the mixture so that it's easier to drink.

                      I had a lot of trouble with mixing the drink up, first of all the lid leaked so I ended up with chocolate shake all over my top, then when I tried to drink out of the funnel in the lid it leaked again.....great.....to add insult to injury the mixture hadn't combined properly so it had bits of lumpy powder it in, plus it tasted awful anyway.

                      I binned it immediately, the protein powder too. I later found out that the shaker costs £5 in the shops, the powder £30 a tub. What a con! I would avoid these like the plaque.


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                    • More +
                      06.11.2011 18:47
                      Very helpful


                      • Reliability


                      Definitely worth the investment

                      My fiancé and I have only recently been converted to Apple products, having friends of ours convince us they are the way forward and are far superior to any other brand or PC's. Thanks to them our house is now graced by a shiny new iMac, Apple TV, iPod Touch and now the iPad2.

                      I admit I initially was sceptical about the iPad. When the first model was released it appeared to be no more than a larger, more chunky version of the iPod Touch but far less portable. What was new and exciting about it? in my eyes not a lot.

                      We visited friends earlier this year who own an iPad2, we had a go with it and I had to say it was almost unputdownable (is that a word?!) very tactile and wonderful for web surfing. My friends husband had to ask us to give it back as we hogged it for so long. This trip sowed the seeds of the idea for buying one into my fiancés head, next stop eBay!

                      Hubby to be bought one in September for a bargain price on eBay, even got the smart cover thrown in (now that in itself is a very useful piece of kit). We can't comment on the packaging as the seller no longer had it.

                      Onto the iPad2 itself...

                      Setting up:
                      Couldn't be easier. Simply take the iPad from it's box and plug into your computer/mac via the USB cable provided, it will then sync with iTunes and prompt you to download the latest version if you don't already have it. iTunes is free software so no need to worry about forking out your hard earned cash at this point. The set up may take a few minutes but once that is done you're free to play with the iPad to your hearts content.

                      What can it do / features?
                      The iPad2 has the usual features - email, safari for web surfing, photo booth which allows you take pictures and then add funny and downright odd effects to them. They have also added a front facing and back facing camera which enables you take either a photo or yourself or what's in front of you. I personally don't find the quality of the pictures this produces to be that great, they can appear pixelated and not very sharp, especially in low light conditions. The camera on the iPod Touch is far superior. Still it's a useful addition and does have it's benefits.

                      The devise itself is lighter and thinner than the original iPad. It looks less clunky and more streamlined. It's very easy to while away several hours with this on your lap of an evening without the eventual warm and heavy leg syndrome that a laptop can produce.

                      In Safari you now have the option of having multiple web pages open via tabs at the top of the page, I find this extremely useful as I tend to flit between web sites whilst searching for something or simply just to keep an eye on the news or current events, Facebook and Twitter for instance.

                      The best thing about the iPad2 I think is the ability to multi-task, instead of having to close one application to look at another you can simply press the home button at the bottom and you have the option of keeping what you're looking at open whilst you search for something else, for instance you can keep your emails or the web active whilst you check out the App store.

                      I mentioned above a smart cover which the seller on eBay added in the sale. This is a wonderful invention, it's an aluminium backed cover that easily attaches to the edge of the iPad with magnets. You can fold completely back out of the way or fold it up into a stand for the iPad so you can use it hands free. It also has the benefit or turning off the iPad when you close the cover down, and also wakes it up when you peel it back. It's soft inside so won't scratch and adds hardly any weight to the iPad. Clever stuff.

                      I am now a huge fan of the iPad2, and often have to fight my other half to use it. To be fair he did pay for it, but share and share alike I say! I would definitely recommend this as an alternative to a laptop, it's smaller, less bulky and far more portable. It might not be cheaper but is far more user friendly in my opinion.


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                      • More +
                        05.08.2011 18:39
                        Very helpful



                        A great starter to the world of Sat Navs

                        I used to be dead set against Sat Navs, having heard horror stories of people ending up stuck in narrow lanes or on railway tracks due to outdated maps. I have to say at the time I didn't drive myself so had never had to use one or be in a position where a sat nav would have been beneficial, I was a firm believer that paper maps were the only way to work out how to get from A to B.

                        I finally gave in a couple of months ago and invested in a TomTom. I have been driving now for just over 2 years and rarely have the need to drive anywhere I'm unsure of but very occasionally we visit friends and I slowly realised that having a backup in the form of a Sat Nav would be helpful.

                        What is it?
                        The TomTom Start is the entry level version and retails for around £110. I bought mine second hand on eBay for £70 which is the going rate for one in good condition.

                        What does it come with?
                        The TomTom comes in a white compact box which contains the Sat Nav itself, a car charger, mains charger and instruction booklet. All essential for making the most of the unit.

                        How do you use it?
                        The unit has an integral suction pad to attach to your car windscreen which makes the unit nice and compact with no parts that might be lost. To attach it to the windscreen you need so lightly moisten the suction pad (I forgot when borrowing one last year and it fell off the windscreen half way down the A303!) Once attached to the windscreen you can adjust the angle of the unit to suit you. To remove it simply twist the button on the back of the unit and it detach.

                        I find that, whether it's been charged up overnight or not, it's a good idea to plus the unit into the car charger as it can run out of juice quicker than you think, not something you want to happen if you're driving down a busy motorway and are looking for your exit.

                        The Sat Nav is preloaded with a UK map, it's very easy to use and is easy to programme with the destination you want, either by name of town or postcode. You can select either 3D or 2D view and also adjust the screen for day or night time driving. Another fun feature it being able to change the voiceover, you can select from female or make in many different accents. Even foreign languages are available including French, Dutch etc...... The way the American woman pronounces Roundabout is quite amusing....at least I think so.

                        You can save regular destinations as favourites and also your home so you don't have to type in your home town each time.

                        On the screen you're shown the following information:

                        You speed
                        The speed limit
                        The direction of your next turn
                        Your estimated time of arrival
                        The remaining time of your journey
                        The remaining number of miles on your journey

                        All the above is very useful and is regularly adjusted as you drive along, whether flying by or stuck going no-where in traffic.

                        I'm a huge fan of TomTom now, we did have one hiccup with this on a trip to Manchester when it gave us a very off route to our hotel which we ended up ignoring after it became clear it was taking us the wrong way :/ it also can take a while to find a satellite signal, make sure you leave plenty of time before setting off to ensure that the unit has picked up the signal and can show you a route.

                        Overal I'm very happy with this and don't regret spending the money. It's not used in our house every day but has come in very useful for long journeys as well as short.


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