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lml888v

lml888v
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Member since: 03.06.2008

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      21.04.2009 20:03
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      Refreshing and reputedly beneficial

      "Twinings Green Tea with Pineapple & Grapefruit" is a refreshing and reputedly beneficial brew from 'Twining & Co. Ltd.', the long-established English tea and coffee merchants. Boxes of these speciality teabags can be found in the beverage section of larger supermarkets, or you can purchase them by mail order direct from Twinings (see www.Twinings.co.uk).


      ~ Packaging ~

      The teabags are supplied in a neat cardboard box decorated in fresh shades of green, showing mouth-watering slices of pineapple and grapefruit, and a circular motif that boasts "Green Tea - a natural source of antioxidants".

      The box front also bears the company name in its familiar style - uppercase black lettering on a gleaming gold background - boldly displayed beneath a 'by royal appointment' declaration. The 'green tea' part of the product name is cleverly given an oriental twist by rendering it in a script that might be achieved using a calligraphy brush.

      Twinings have used the side of the box to inform us that, according to legend, "tea was discovered in 2737BC by Emperor Shen Nung when leaves accidentally fell into the water he was boiling to drink". On the reverse are the very easy to follow instructions for preparation.

      To open the box you pull a tab and so tear a long broad strip of card from along three sides. The box then acts as a little chest, and the bags are revealed by lifting the lid. I like this design.

      The best before date is print on one end of the box. There are no storage instructions.

      The cardboard box is recyclable, and used teabags can be composted.


      ~ Preparation ~

      I suggest using a really pretty cup, perhaps a large traditional bowl shape with a saucer, as it adds to the experience. The method is quick and easy. Pop a teabag in the cup. Add very hot, but not boiling water. Leave to brew for no more than 2 minutes - this is important as any longer and the tea tastes harsh and bitter. Twinings recommend you drink without milk or sugar.


      ~ Look, Smell and Taste ~

      The teabags are off-white, rectangular and flat, and are supplied in pairs that are very easily separated along a line of perforations. Before use they smell just like ordinary everyday teabags; I was not able to detect any strong fruity odour.

      When hot water is poured on the teabag the liquor created is cloudy and golden, something like dark apple juice, and does look appetizing. The steamy vapours floating around the rim of the cup are thick with sweet pineapple and tangy citrus. Smells delicious.

      Just holding the cup in both hands, waiting for it to be cool enough to drink, and enjoying the warmth and the fruity aroma is very relaxing and comforting.

      The taste ... In my opinion, this does not quite live up to its golden appearance and rich fruity fragrance. It is okay. It is refreshing, and I can detect the pineapple and grapefruit. On the downside, it has a slightly bitter aftertaste and left my mouth feeling dry.


      ~ The experiment ~

      Twinings say you should drink this tea without adding milk or sugar, but curiosity got the better of me. First, I added just a drop of honey (seemed more in keeping with the spirit of the drink than pure white sugar) and that was quite nice and seemed to mask any bitterness. I then tried adding a dash of skimmed milk - just made it look like ordinary tea, and did not really affect the flavour.


      ~ Twinings Green Tea range and price guide ~

      Some other varieties in this speciality Green Tea range include: -
      ... Pure Green Tea
      ... Pear and Apple
      ... Pineapple and Grapefruit
      ... Orange and Lotus Flower
      ... Jasmine

      My local supermarket sells the 20-teabag size boxes (50g) of "Twinings Green Tea with Pineapple & Grapefruit" for £1.15.


      ~ Verdict ~

      Different, refreshing, fruity, healthy, contains antioxidants, and, if you don't add milk or sugar, low in calories. These qualities make it a great choice for anyone who is health conscious. The taste is not so wonderful as to make me eagerly look forward to my next cup, and I did not like its mildly bitter aftertaste. I won't be rushing out to buy another box.


      ~ Additional notes ~

      Green Tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis ('sinensis' means Chinese), and this is the same plant that gives us everyday black tea. The difference arises from the processing method - for black tea the leaves are fermented, and for green tea the fresh leaves are heated to de-nature the enzymes inside, which prevents oxidation, and so they stay green.

      Green Tea is a rich source of flavonoids, plant chemicals with powerful antioxidant properties. These are thought to be beneficial to health, as it is believed that they 'neutralise' free radicals - the potentially harmful by-products of normal bodily chemical processes.

      See www.twinings.co.uk for more information.

      Note: Green Tea contains caffeine, and other caffeine-like substances.

      © lml888v 2009

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        17.04.2009 19:58
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        A gentle everyday sun-protecting moisturiser for sensitive skins

        As I have sensitive skin, my facial moisturising needs are basic. All I want is hydration and a little protection from sun and pollution, without any perfumes, colours or additives. So "SIMPLE Regeneration Age Resisting Day cream SPF 15" seemed like a good choice.


        ~ Purity vs. Additives ~

        The brand name SIMPLE is effective at conveying the impression of its products being very pure and free from all unnecessary additives. Happily this moisturiser has no colour or perfume, but it does have extra ingredients and these might not be suitable for everyone.

        The manufacturer, however, believes that these additives should be beneficial for most users, and they are ...

        ... Green Tea Extract which they claim "fights premature ageing"
        ... Mushroom Extract which they say will "refine skin tone and texture"
        ... Oat-Beta Glucan and Allantoin to "gently soothe and reduce sensitivity"
        ... Pro Vitamin B5 and Vitamin E to "soften, smooth, and improve skin condition"

        and the product has a sun protection factor of 15 (SPF15).


        ~ Packaging ~

        The moisturiser comes in a chunky hand-size pump-pot, which is presented in a smart little card box. Both the box and the pot are mainly white with the familiar SIMPLE logo and design in fresh shades of green.

        The box might seem like a bit of a waste, but it is made from "farmed and renewed forests", and it does serve a purpose. SIMPLE use the box to give the product an air of luxury and also to present some information that is not repeated on the actual dispenser.

        For example, only the box is used to display the rather daunting ingredients list ...
        "Aqua, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Glyceryl Stearate, Glycerin, 4-Methylbenzylidene Camphor, Isohexadecane, Butylene Glycol, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Fomes Officinalis Extract, Cetyl Palmitate, Ethylhexyl Triazone, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Carbomer, PEG-100 Stearate, Panthenol, Camellia Sinensis Extract, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, Methylparaben, Allantoin, Disodium EDTA, Tocopheryl Acetate, 2-Bromo-2-Nitropropane-1,3-Diol, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Avena Sativa Kernel Extract, Sodium Benzoate, BHT, Chlorphenesin, Potassium Sorbate, Sorbic Acid" ... (wow! always double-check this).

        The box also states, "SIMPLE skincare contains no animal derived ingredients" and "Dermatologically tested & approved".

        The moisturiser is contained in a squat plastic canister with a chunky pump dispenser on the top. There is also a large clear plastic cap to cover the nozzle between applications. I found this easy to use and was able to dispense just the required amount of cream, but an elderly friend had trouble removing the clear cap and difficulty in applying steady controlled pressure to the pump.

        The card box can be recycled, and the plastic container too (if your council accepts a triangle with "07" inside).


        ~ Using the product ~

        SIMPLE recommend that "after cleansing smooth into your face and neck using upward and outward movements".

        I usually pump just a tiny pea-size amount of the moisturiser onto my hand. It is pure white with no apparent smell. It has a fairly thick creamy consistency, but it spreads quite easily across the skin. When first applied it seems a little greasy and takes a minute or two to be properly absorbed. After that it provides a good base for applying foundation and/or face powder. It does help to keep my skin supple and hydrated.

        SIMPLE say the product is "suitable for use around the sensitive eye area". Unfortunately, this was not so in my case. The soft tender skin just below my eyes puffed up and I looked as if I had been crying. I am continuing to use the cream, but now I just take care to avoid this area.

        SIMPLE state product has SPF15. As I use only a very tiny amount, and because it absorbs so well into my skin, I am not at all sure what level of sun protection it actually gives me.


        ~ REGENERATION range, availability and price guide ~

        The Regeneration range, first launched in 2001, currently comprises six products, and can be purchased from stores such as Asda, Boots, Sainsburys, Superdrug and Tesco, or online from the SIMPLE website at www.simple.co.uk.

        Regeneration Age Resisting Cleansing Wipes x25
        Regeneration Age Resisting Day Cream SPF 15
        Regeneration Age Resisting Eye Cream
        Regeneration Age Resisting Facial Wash
        Regeneration Age Resisting Night Cream
        Regeneration Age Resisting Vitamin E Serum Pads

        I bought my "Regeneration Age Resisting Day Cream SPF 15" (50ml) from Sainsbury and paid £5.85.

        ~ Verdict ~

        I am quite happy with this product, provided I avoid the soft skin around my eyes and allow a couple of minutes for it to absorb properly. My skin is sensitive to various chemicals and yet tolerates this product very well. It makes my skin feel supple and smooth, and is a good base for foundation and/or face powder. Only a little is required so it is economical. I definitely intend to buy this product again.

        © lml888v 2009

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          08.04.2009 15:48
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          Football fan or not, a delicious warming treat

          Who ate all the pies? Well, apparently thousands of football and rugby fans every match day. Shire Famous Pies, of Leamington Spa, are the market-leading supplier of half-time pies and pasties, and now you can buy their famous, and very tasty, "Chicken Balti Pies" from supermarkets, conveniently frozen and ready to cook and enjoy in your own home.

          "Chicken Balti Pies", created in 1997, are the top selling snack at premiership stadiums. They are made with 100% chicken breast, a warming spicy balti sauce, and scrumptious pastry. The Shire Famous Pies brand states with pride "we only put real natural ingredients into our products" and promise "we don't add artificial chemicals to bulk food out or enhance flavour or colour or to save us money. That's why there are NO artificial colours, flavour and preservatives or hydrogenated fats in our food!"


          ~ Packaging ~

          The pair of frozen pies are presented in a bright blue cardboard box, that has a tempting photographic image of a golden pie sliced in half to reveal the mouth-watering filling within. You open the box by lifting a flap on the side. The pies are sitting in individual foil trays ready for the oven. There is no unnecessary packaging.

          The box front states "100% Chicken Breast", and a circular red emblem with a football declares "No.1 half-time pie". On the reverse are the baking instructions and the usual information on storage, ingredients, nutrition and allergy/dietary information.

          The cardboard box and the foil trays can be recycled.


          ~ Storage and Preparation ~

          As expected, this product should be kept frozen, but can be stored in a refrigerator for up to 24 hours. It cannot be re-frozen once thawed.

          Baking is easy. From frozen you place in a pre-heated oven (200°C / gas mark 6) for 35-45 minutes. In my oven the crust tend to burn before the filling is piping hot, so now I cover the pie with foil at first, and then remove it for the final 15 minutes.


          ~ Look, Smell and Taste ~

          On the plate the pie looks very appetizing - a rectangular-shaped traditional British meat pie. The crust is slightly puffed with a finger crimping decoration around the edge. The centre is nicely filled with succulent pieces of diced breast meat (about 1cm cube) golden brown and juicy with the deliciously dark and spicy balti sauce. The base is firm, and also extra tasty because it has absorbed quite a bit of the curry colour and flavouring. The aroma is lovely and the pie tastes delicious!


          ~ Availability and price guide ~

          It was at the end of 2008 that Shire Famous Pies first appeared in supermarkets. They can now be found in the freezer cabinets of many Tesco outlets across the country. At my local store a box of two "Chicken Balti Pies" (390g) costs £1.69 - and well worth it too!


          ~ Additional notes ~

          Shire Foods is a real success story. Started by small group of just eight people, making pies in their garage and using a single van for deliveries, they are now market leaders. Match day popularity started at Coventry City's ground, and quickly spread to other premiership stadiums. For more information visit their friendly and really well designed website at www.famouspies.com.

          © lml888v 2009

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            25.03.2009 22:47
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            Peachy luxury from Müller

            "Müller Amoré Peach Yoghurt" 150g is a superior thick fruit yoghurt from Müller, the German-owned 'lick the lid of life' dairy desserts company. This deluxe range of yoghurts was introduced in 2003, and can be found in the chilled cabinets of larger supermarkets.


            ~ Packaging ~

            The yoghurt comes in a rather sophisticated dark blue container - lower and wider than most. The shape makes it feel nicer to eat from than ordinary yoghurt pots. It appears to be made of card, but is in fact a lightweight white plastic tub with a tightly fitting cardboard outer casing.

            The foil lid bears the company logo and a photographic image of a spoon dripping with ice-white yoghurt (like the yoghurt found in the Müller Corners) with a juicy slice of peach nestling on top. This image is rather misleading, as the yoghurt is actually a pale peachy colour containing small fruit pieces. The lid also shows the use by date.

            On the side of the pot is printed the company logo and product name flanked by photographic images of whole and sliced ripe peaches. There is also information about storage (i.e. keep refrigerated), ingredients, nutrition and allergy/dietary details.

            Some or all of the packaging can be recycled (depending on what your local council will accept): - the cardboard outer casing, foil lid, and plastic inner pot (which has a recycling triangle with PS inside).


            ~ Look, Smell and Taste ~

            The yoghurt is a pale golden creamy colour, with a slight sheen, and contains a good quantity of small bright orange peach pieces evenly distributed throughout.

            The texture is creamy and thick, and not the least bit runny. You can fluff it into little peaks, or fill a spoon, turn it over, and the yoghurt takes a couple of seconds to drop back into the pot. Looks mouth-wateringly luxurious.

            The product has a very delicate aroma - milky with a tantalizing hint of peach. The yoghurt is sweet, creamy and mildly peachy, and this is complimented by the stronger peachy tanginess of the fruit pieces. Very delicious.


            ~ Amoré range and price guide ~

            Flavours in this indulgent yoghurt range include: -
            Cherry
            Orange
            Peach
            Strawberry
            Vanilla and Dark Chocolate
            Walnut and Greek Honey

            My local Asda sells them for £0.64 each and Sainsburys for £0.69 each, and both supermarkets currently have a multi-buy offer of any 5 for £3. My local Tesco does not stock this particular Müller range.


            ~ Verdict ~

            This delicious fruity yoghurt incorporates whipping cream (18%), so the richness makes it suitable for a treat or an after-dinner dessert. It is probably too rich to put on top of your breakfast cereal. This yoghurt is a little more expensive than others, but is worth the extra.


            ~ Additional notes ~

            Müller has a very large UK production facility at Market Drayton, Shropshire. Being based in an English county famous for its numerous high quality dairy farms enables Müller UK to boast "made in Shropshire", "90% of the milk comes from within 30 miles of the dairy" and "24 hours from farm to yoghurt".

            See www.mullerdairy.co.uk for more information.

            © lml888v 2009

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              04.12.2008 17:36
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              Delicious individual toffee cake bars from Thorntons

              "Thorntons Individual Toffee Cakes" are superior quality individual bar-shaped cakes from one of the UK's favourite chocolate companies. They can be purchased in packs of five from the bakery shelves of the major supermarkets such as Asda, Morrisons, Sainsburys and Tesco. They are, in fact, part of a special offering for supermarkets and are not available from Thorntons chocolate shops or the Thorntons online store.


              ~ Packaging ~

              The five cake bars are individually cellophane-wrapped and presented on a lightweight gold-coloured plastic tray that protects and separates them. Everything is enclosed in a foil covering, silvered on the inside, to ensure freshness by protecting from light and smells.

              The packaging is predominantly a dark rich chocolate colour with the familiar "Thorntons - the Art of the Chocolatier" logo. Beneath is an appetizing photographic illustration of two cakes; one cut in half to show the scrumptious layers of toffee sponge, sauce and buttercream within. To the right is a golden band with the product name, best before date and a brief mouth-watering description of the cakes. On the reverse there is the usual information on storage, ingredients, nutrition and allergy/dietary details.

              Care should be taken transporting the cakes home as the packaging is not very rigid and only provides superficial protection from damage. There is no indication that any of the packing is recyclable.


              ~ Look, Smell and Taste ~

              The appearance of the individual toffee cake is very attractive - much more appealing than your average supermarket bought mini cake bar. The little treat is made up of layers; first there is caramel coloured sponge, then a thin layer of toffee sauce and then a generous layer of toffee-flavoured buttercream. The entire creation is covered in Thorntons own delicious milk chocolate and decorated on top with a swirling figure-of-eight design in white chocolate.

              The cake has a delicate sweet chocolate and caramel smell, and once you bite into it a stronger aroma of treacle becomes apparent.

              I often find myself disappointed with the sponge in mini cake bars from other manufacturers as it can have the consistency of compressed fluff. Happily, the cake layer in the Thorntons bars is full of air bubbles and reminiscent of homemade sponge. The lovely layer of toffee sauce and the fluffy toffee-flavoured buttercream keep the treat moist. The gorgeous Thorntons chocolate covering is reasonably thick and holds well to the cake. The overall combination is heavenly!


              ~ Price guide ~

              I recently purchased a 5 pack of 'Thorntons Individual Toffee Cakes' for £1.34 from my local Asda supermarket.


              ~ Verdict ~

              Lovely occasional treat, probably most suited to adults. They look very pretty and are a nice item to offer your guests. They are a little more expensive than other mini cake bars, but worth the extra.


              © lml888v 2008

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                02.11.2008 01:48
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                A convenient and economic way to serve some fruit

                "TESCO Value Sliced Peaches in Light Syrup" are a convenient and economic way to add variety to your '5 a day' portions of fruit and vegetables, and they are to be found next to the standard quality peaches in the tinned fruit section of most Tesco stores.

                The purpose of my review is to compare this 'value' product with its equivalent from the standard range, i.e. "TESCO Sliced Peaches in Light Syrup", which I evaluated previously.


                ~ Packaging ~

                The 'value' sliced peaches come in a standard tin can. The label is very basic and is predominately white with text and images in royal blue and pillar-box red; this is the usual livery for Tesco Value products. On the front of the label there is a simply drawn image of some peaches printed in blue, and below is a graphic to inform you that each half-can serving contains 120 calories, 28.7g of sugar, and just trace amounts of fat, saturates and salt. It also indicates how these amounts compute as percentages of your daily allowance. The figures are identical to those on the standard range can.

                Like the standard range, the label front states that the product is in 'light' syrup. On the reverse there is the usual information on storage, ingredients, nutrition and allergy/dietary information, and the wording is literally the same as for the standard range. The best-before date is stamped on the tin lid, and is small and rather tricky to read.

                As with the standard range, the tin is not the ring-pull type so you need to use a tin opener. Again, the tin is made of steel and is recyclable.

                So far the only difference between the 'value' and standard ranges is the design of the label.


                ~ Look, Smell and Taste ~

                Once poured into a bowl, the reason for these being the 'value' peaches is very apparent. The fruit slices are perhaps better described as fruit pieces. Perhaps that is a little harsh. There are a lot of decent-sized wedges; the rest is a mix of chunks and slivers. The pieces do have a nice golden colour. However, occasionally there are tiny gritty bits from where the peach fresh clings to the peach stone.

                The light syrup is clear and slightly shiny, and appears to be exactly the same as that used in the standard range, and again the aroma is unassuming, but unmistakably peachy.

                As with the standard range, the fruit tastes juicy and nicely ripe, and is neither too soft nor too firm. The syrup is light yet sweet, and tastes just like that used for the standard range. The fruit and syrup combination is delicious!


                ~ Quality of 'value' range vs. standard range ~

                This may not be how the 'value' and standard ranges are produced in reality, but it appears as if they might be manufactured side by side, the only difference being the standard range gets the most perfect and even peach slices, and the other fruit pieces go into the 'value' tins.

                This means you could use the standard range where appearance and evenness of size is important, for example, if you are placing the fruit in a decorative arrangement on a dessert, or if you are serving to guests. However, for any dish where the fruit is incorporated or hidden, or just for serving to your family, the 'value' range is very acceptable.

                Remember, if there is some fruit left over in a tin you should transfer it to a clean non-metallic bowl, or other suitable container, and store in the fridge; it should keep for a couple of days.


                ~ Price of 'value' range vs. standard range ~

                When I recently purchased a tin of 'TESCO Value Sliced Peaches in Light Syrup' (410g) it cost £0.29, which compares favourably with £0.42 for the same size can from the standard range.


                ~ Verdict ~

                As the slices are variable in shape and size, this product is not suitable for dishes where presentation matters. However, it is a useful item to have in your kitchen cupboard, and, being a tinned food, it has a very long shelf life. It can be used to make a whole range of puddings or meal accompaniments. It is excellent value for money.

                © lml888v 2008

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                  31.10.2008 15:24
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                  A convenient way to serve some fruit

                  "TESCO Sliced Peaches in Light Syrup" are a convenient way to include some fruit in your daily diet and they are to be found in the tinned fruit section of most Tesco stores.

                  Tinned fruits are something of a British tradition. I have happy childhood memories of Sunday tea time, a crisp tablecloth on the dining room table, the best china and cutlery, homemade cake, bowls of sliced peaches covered in a little evaporated milk, slices of buttered fresh bread, and a nice pot of tea.

                  ~ Packaging ~

                  The peach slices come in a standard tin can with a label showing many ripe peaches and some juicy looking slices. A helpful graphic on the front of the label informs you that each half-can serving contains 120 calories, 28.7g of sugar, and just trace amounts of fat, saturates and salt. It also indicates how these amounts compute as percentages of your daily allowance. So, pretty healthy!

                  The label front also states that the product is in 'light' syrup. On the reverse there is the usual information on storage, ingredients, nutrition and allergy/dietary information. The best-before date is stamped on the tin lid, but unfortunately it is quite small and rather difficult to read. In my case, it revealed my can of peaches was good until end of August 2009, almost a year, so not bad.

                  The tin is not the ring-pull type so you need to use a tin opener.
                  The tin is made of steel and is recyclable.

                  ~ Look, Smell and Taste ~

                  Once poured into a bowl, the peach slices have a sunny, glistening appearance. Somehow, one can never feel sad looking at a bowl of peaches. The fruit slices are nice-sized wedges, fairly even in size, approximately 1cm at the thickest point, and all have a rich golden orange colour. The fruit is peeled and stoned prior to slicing and this has been done very well as there are no bits of downy skin remaining and no sign of any gritty bits from the peach stones. The light syrup is clear and slightly shiny.

                  The aroma from the fruit is fairly subtle, but is unmistakably peachy.

                  The fruit tastes delicious and nicely ripe; the slices and have a pleasing consistency that is neither too soft nor too firm. The syrup is sweet, but perhaps for the sake of health has been made a little thin. The fruit and syrup combination is mouth-watering!

                  ~ Things to do with tinned peaches ~

                  Tinned peaches are a great item to have in your pantry as they are so convenient and versatile and can be used to quickly prepare or enhance a starter, main course, or dessert. You can add a few slices to breakfast cereal. Try grilled peach halves/slices with gammon, or pork chops, or just stick them into the oven with your roast chicken for the final 10 to 15 minutes. Warmed peaches are a sweet and juicy addition to rescue anything you think may be a little bland or dry - rice or couscous dishes. Of course, peaches can be substituted in almost any recipe that calls for soft fruit, so you can have tinned peach in your Eve's pudding, fruit crumble, fruit pies, fruit trifles, fruit flans, etc. I have even heard you can make wine from tinned peaches. Finally, of course, you can have them on their own, or with cream, evaporated milk, or hot or cold custard.

                  If you have some fruit left over do not leave it in the tin, transfer it to a clean non-metallic bowl, or other suitable container, and store in the fridge - it should be good for a couple of days.

                  ~ Price Guide ~

                  When I recently purchased a tin of 'Tesco Sliced Peaches in Light Syrup' (410g) it cost £0.42.

                  ~ Verdict ~

                  Provided your family like peaches, an extremely useful product to have in your pantry. Like many tinned foods it has a very long shelf life. It is versatile and can be used to make a whole range of puddings or used as an accompaniment to other meals. The slices are a consistent size and colour so can be used for dishes where presentation matters. Very reasonably priced.

                  ~ More to come ~

                  I plan to follow this article with a review of the basic range equivalent of this product, i.e. "Tesco Value Sliced Peaches in Light Syrup".

                  © lml888v 2008

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                    30.10.2008 18:29
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                    A heavenly sweet and flaky fresh cream treat!

                    "TESCO Fresh Cream Slices" are a delicious creamy and flaky treat that can be found in packs of two in the fresh dessert section of the chilled cabinets.


                    ~ Packaging ~

                    The fresh cream slices are presented in a pale blue cardboard box with a cellophane window that affords a clear, and tantalizing, view of the items within. There is also a helpful graphic that responsibly informs you that each individual slice contains 315 calories, 17.6g of sugar, 20.2g of fat, 11.9g of saturates and 0.1g of salt, and how that computes as percentages of your daily allowance. So if you indulge in a creamy slice be aware that you have just blown 16% of your daily calories and 60% (yes, 60%) of your daily saturates!

                    The box front also states that the product is free of artificial preservatives, flavours, and colours. On the reverse there is the usual information on storage (refrigerate until use by date), ingredients, nutrition and allergy/dietary information. This product cannot be frozen.

                    The box is opened by lifting a flap on the side, so that the clear plastic tray holding the fresh cream slices can be accessed. The tray is ingeniously designed with individual compartments that separate and protect, but it is also 'hinged' so that half the tray swings away allowing the slices to be easily removed without any damage.

                    The cardboard box can be recycled, but the cellophane window and plastic tray go in the main household waste.


                    ~ Look, Smell and Taste ~

                    The appearance of the individual fresh cream slice is very attractive. The upper and lower slices of puff pastry are a light golden colour, and in between is first a thin red layer of glistening strawberry conserve, and then a generous layer of fresh cream. The entire cake is topped with a shiny covering of white icing that is decorated with a bold feathered pattern in rich chocolate.

                    The slice has a delicate sweet cake-like smell from the flaky pastry, and I thought I detected the faintest hint of vanilla (but perhaps this was my imagination as it is not listed in the ingredients).

                    The puff pastry has a pleasing consistency that is flaky without being too crumbly, and has a sweet cake-like flavour. The strawberry conserve does not overpower and has a genuinely strawberry taste. The icing is sticky and extremely sugary, and the thick layer of fresh cream adds a clean cool taste that contrasts with all of this sweetness. The overall combination is heavenly!

                    A word of warning, this little delight can be a bit awkward to eat because as you bite into the slice the fresh cream tends to escape and the icing can make your fingers very sticky!


                    ~ Price Guide ~

                    A box of two Tesco fresh cream slices cost £0.94.


                    ~ Verdict ~

                    The box front proudly describes the cream slices as "an everyday indulgence", but I think we should ignore this considering how high they are in calories and cholesterol! However, they are very reasonably priced and make a delightful occasional treat.

                    © lml888v 2008

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                    • 16 Blocks (DVD) / DVD / 172 Readings / 169 Ratings
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                      16.10.2008 15:34
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                      A nice little action thriller

                      "16 Blocks" is a fast paced, action packed, "get the witness safely to court on time", shoot-them-up thriller starring Bruce Willis, Mos Def and David Morse.

                      Directed by Richard Donner, who also directed the Lethal Weapon movies and Superman II, and written by Richard Wenk this film carries a "12" certificate.

                      ~ Synopsis ~

                      Jack Mosley (Bruce Willis) is an aging and burned-out NYPD detective. Maybe once upon a time he was one of New York's finest, but now he is a haunted, out-of-shape, shadow of his former self. Retirement probably cannot come too soon, but until then booze fogs his mind and gets him through each day. A mix of loyalty for one of their own and affection for the man he once was allows his colleagues to not 'make a fuss' about his clear failings, but they cannot totally ignore them. Whereas Mosley was once a vital team member at the heart of the action, his involvement is now trivial and lies on the periphery, and he is trusted only with tasks that really should be assigned to the most junior of officers.

                      At the end of another undemanding liquor-assisted nightshift a tired Mosley is heading home, but the lieutenant, short of an officer, persuades him to do one final quick job. He simply has to escort a young petty criminal from his jail cell to the courthouse 16 blocks away, 118 minutes tops, deadline 10am. What could go wrong?

                      Well, Eddie Bunker (Mos Def) is no ordinary prisoner; in return for immunity he must appear on time as star witness for the prosecution. Quirkily superstitious Bunker sees 'signs' in everything around him and believes it was his good fortune to be in the 'right place at the right time' so that he can now trade what he knows for his freedom. However, there are others who think he was in the 'wrong place at the wrong time' and are out to stop him at any price.

                      True to form Mosley cannot survive without a 'liquid breakfast' so parks up opposite a discount liquor store and disappears leaving his charge handcuffed in the rear of the unmarked police car. Hired thugs seize this opportunity to 'take out' Bunker, but just as the would-be assassin is standing by the car window about to take a direct close-up shot something astonishing occurs. Some long buried instinct kicks in and Mosley snaps back to clear-headed, steady-handed, sharp-shooting reality and Bunker is saved and together they flee their murderous pursuers.

                      Holed up in a local bar both are relieved to be quickly joined by a team of NYPD detectives headed by Mosley's ex-partner Detective Frank Nugent (David Morse). Having been together on the force more than twenty years Nugent understands Mosley's character and says he will deal with Bunker and invites his badly shaken friend to steady his nerves with a bottle of whiskey. However, Mosley notices Bunker's anxious reaction to one of the detectives, and the truth of the situation slowly begins to dawn on him. Yes, Bunker is a star witness for the prosecution, but not against other criminals. Bunker is to testify against corrupt officers.

                      Muzzy-headed, weary, and bewildered Mosley fights to collect his thoughts while Nugent relentlessly bombards him with 'reasonable' arguments for sticking by his fellow detectives and allowing them to take Bunker. Slowly the old inner Mosley begins to surface and knows he has to 'try to do a good thing'.

                      So begins a deadly cat-and-mouse, 'bad cops vs. good cop', chase across New York as Mosley races to deliver the witness on time to a courthouse 16 blocks away.

                      ~ Opinion ~

                      Bruce Willis (star of the 'Die Hard' movies, Sixth Sense, Twelve Monkeys, etc.) is actually rather good in the role of world-weary, depressed, aging, out-of-shape soak. Greyish makeup, grey moustache, fake paunch, and something of a limp all add to the image. Nice pathos. Part of my fascination with this character is because we never learn why Mosley is a broken man, but near the start of the film, when he looks up to check the squad room clock, the shot also hovers on a poster that says "Every 48 hours a child is killed unintentionally with a firearm", so perhaps the director intends this as a small clue.

                      Mos Def (rapper/hip-hop musician and actor in The Italian Job, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, etc.) plays the part of happy-go-lucky, fast-talking, irritating, and slightly deluded Eddie Bunker superbly. But why, oh why, was he directed to adopt such an annoying nasal accent? He sounds like a whining cartoon character cross between Donald Duck and Elma Fudd. At first I could hardly make out anything he was saying and actually had to restart the movie with the subtitles turned on. Yes, it was that bad! Ultimately, by the latter part of the film I had adjusted to his voice, but it still really grated.

                      David Morse (roles in The Green Mile, House M.D., The Long Kiss Goodnight, etc.) brings off a fine performance that has to tread a difficult line between desperate yet loyal ex-partner and manipulative cold-hearted associate. Part of the suspense is that Nugent's attachment to Mosley, and hence how far he will truly go to prevent him saving Bunker, is ambiguous.

                      Other actors playing supporting characters that link the drama together perform satisfactorily, but none are memorable. Willis, Def and Morse really dominate.

                      The story is somewhat implausible. Why is such an important witness in a police corruption case being transported in such a casual way, and how good a witness would a dippy character like Bunker really make anyway? However, I have seen worse and this film is not overlong and races on nicely.

                      Throughout there are some great moments of suspense when you think Mosley and Bunker are cornered, but then there is a nice little fast twist.
                      One criticism is that strangely there is no tension created by knowing how far they are from the courthouse. They occasionally look at a watch or clock, so you know time is running out, but you don't actually know how many blocks they still have to cover.

                      There is a little music used to emphasis mood and tempo, but it is very subtle and mostly percussive. The main background is the relentless cacophony of the noises of the bustling city streets (actually filmed in Toronto not New York) - hissing of hydraulic brakes, squealing of wheels, clunking of car doors, human chatter, car horns, mobile phones, all build a sense of confusion and panic. The quality of individual sounds is very crisp. The same applies to the scenes shot in the secret streets beneath China Town.

                      Overall, this is a nice little action thriller, but I might have enjoyed it more if I could have made out all the dialogue. Rating main feature as 6/10.

                      ~ Subtitles ~
                      Subtitles and subtitles-for-the-hearing-impaired are in English and German only.
                      I used the 'English for the hearing impaired' ones and they seemed quite accurate.

                      ~ DVD Special Features ~

                      1. Deleted scenes
                      The deleted scenes are accompanied by commentary from Richard Donner (director) and Richard Wenk (writer). The two of them in discussion makes uncomfortable viewing; wearing fake smiles, they seem ill at ease as they give their slightly barbed analysis of why scenes did not work and were dropped. The deleted scenes are not themselves that interesting, and it is understandable why they were omitted, but the hint at the strained relationship between director and writer is fascinating.

                      2. Alternative ending
                      Advertised on the front of the DVD as "shocking alternate ending not seen in cinemas". Well acted, and I prefer this final outcome for Mosley, but I am not sure that Nugent's actions are believable given his earlier behaviour during the film. It might have been plausible if there had been more insight into the history and relationship between Mosley and Nugent.

                      3. Theatrical Trailer
                      Interesting if you like to see how the film was promoted. I enjoyed it.

                      ~ Price Guide ~
                      I paid £5 for this DVD at my local supermarket some time ago. A recent check of the Internet showed second-hand copies selling for as little as £0.50 plus modest P&P on eBay and £0.99 plus £2.75 P&P on Amazon.

                      ~ Verdict ~
                      This is a nice, undemanding, little action thriller. Not bad for a few pounds.

                      Also posted on other sites under same name.
                      © lml888v 2008

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                      • Breville JK46 / Kettle / 220 Readings / 213 Ratings
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                        22.09.2008 00:52
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                        An excellent basic kettle

                        The Breville JK46 is a value-for-money, basic, white-plastic jug kettle. Although inexpensive, it still boasts many of the same the features as the higher-priced models, and its simple design is quite stylish.


                        ~ Appearance ~

                        The kettle is a jug shape in pure white plastic with a chunky hoop handle. Close to the top of the handle is the rocker-style on/off switch. On each side of the kettle there is a large curvaceous translucent window, with a gauge marked in 'cups', that allows you to see how much water is inside. The natural way the broad spout emerges from the main body of the kettle, and the way the solid handle follows a generous curve down the side, is very organic; there something fundamentally feminine in the design. It is saved from being all white by the use of some silver/grey plastic trim around the base and on the lever used to open the hinged lid. The overall appearance is very smart.


                        ~ Summary of main features ~

                        3KW fast-boil jug kettle.
                        Capacity is 1.7 litres (approx. 3 pints).
                        Twin windows that show water level in 'cups'.
                        Illuminated on/off switch.
                        Locking lid.
                        Cordless.
                        360º base unit (incorporating excess cord storage).
                        Heating element concealed beneath floor of kettle.
                        Lime-scale filter is removable and washable.


                        ~ Usability ~

                        Before using the kettle the instruction booklet tells you to fill to the maximum level, boil, and then pour the water away to discard any residue left from the manufacturing process. Also, you should remove the lime-scale filter (near the spout) and rinse it. This was when I discovered two small problems. Firstly, due to a funny smell from the new kettle I boiled with fresh water twice instead of just the recommended once and found that boiling twice in quick succession can cause the handle to feel rather warm. Secondly, no matter how I pressed, pushed, or pulled I was unable to remove the scale filter.

                        The circular power base has the cylindrical docking unit protruding vertically from its centre, which means the kettle can be seated on the base facing in any direction. This is convenient for left-handed and right-handed users. The base unit also allows for any excess length of electrical cord to be stored underneath and has several gaps for the cord exit from.

                        To open the lid you pull its silver/grey lever back towards the handle, which releases the lock, and then you allow the lid to rest backwards on its hinge. This reveals a very ample aperture for easy filling. To close the lid you just press it down and hear it snap shut. This 'locking' mechanism is a safety feature. If the kettle is accidentally pulled down and hits the floor the lid should remain closed and not shower anyone in hot water. Also, it should make it tricky for a small child to open the kettle, although they could still scald themselves with steam or boiling water from the spout.

                        When the kettle is use, the water level must be between the minimum and maximum levels. Clear markings on the viewing window mean this easy to judge. The gradations are in 'number of cups' rather than fractions of a litre, and I personally find this very useful.

                        The kettle is turned on by pressing the clear plastic rocker-style on/off switch at the top of the handle just behind the lid hinge. When set to the 'on' position the switch is illuminated, and glows a pale blue/mauve colour. This is very pretty in a dark kitchen, but in normal or bright daylight it is very insipid and hard to see.

                        The kettle is very noisy, but fast.

                        When the water has reached boiling the kettle turns off automatically and the on/off switch flicks back to the 'off' position and is no longer illuminated.

                        The kettle, even when filled to the maximum, is easy to manage. The handle surface is not textured, but is substantial and can be easily gripped. The kettle's balance is nice and pouring is easy.

                        Overall this is a great little kettle.


                        ~ Warranty ~

                        The product has a 12-month warranty against failure from the date of purchase, which is only valid for domestic use of the kettle. This guarantee is worth remembering. In the past I have been let down within a year by various brands of electric kettle; either they stopped working altogether or the water-level viewing windows started to leak. Fortunately, I always save my original receipt and all the original packaging, so I am able to obtain either a replacement or a full refund.


                        ~ Price Guide ~

                        I purchased this particular kettle from Sainsburys, in July this year, and paid £14.99. A recent check of the Internet shows various online stores currently selling this model for between £14.99 and £22.88.


                        ~ Verdict ~

                        Nicely designed (apart from the tricky lime-scale filter). Easy to use. Works well, although rather noisy and handle can get hot if used frequently. For the price a very nice little kettle.


                        © lml888v 2008


                        ~ UPDATE [added January 2011]


                        ~ Obituary ~

                        My kettle, originally purchased in July 2008, finally boiled for the last time in July 2010. Sadly the white plastic seal around one of the viewing windows began to flake and a leak developed. I was not too dismayed as, for the modest 2008 purchase price of £14.99, this appliance had given 2 years of excellent service.

                        To be "green" I disposed of my old kettle at a local council recycling depot where there is a special section for small household appliances.


                        ~ Replacement ~

                        I suppose there can be no greater recommendation of a product than to purchase the same item more than once, and that is exactly what I did. After a brief consideration of other fast-boil jug kettles on the market I judged that the Breville JK46 still represented the best combination of looks, features and price for me. I purchased my replacement kettle in July 2010 from Sainsburys and paid £17.49.


                        ~ Evolution ~

                        Briefly, my new 2010 version of the JK46 kettle compared to the 2008 model :-
                        ... The small "Breville" logo below viewing window has changed slightly.
                        ... Before-use instructions are now more stringent and recommend filling to maximum, boiling and empting three times in order to remove residue left from the manufacturing process.
                        ... As with old model, I find I cannot remove the scale filter.
                        ... As with old model, I find handle can become warm if kettle is boiled repeatedly.
                        ... Booklet now includes an energy saving claim (not sure it is specific to this kettle or just a general statement of fact) "It is not always necessary to re-boil your kettle. For example, one litre of water will still be at 90°C after five minutes - the perfect temperature for a cup of coffee."



                        FINAL UPDATE [added January 2012]

                        My second Breville JK46 has now gone to "Kettle Heaven" and so I can relay the followng data ...

                        Kettle 1 - Life span : 2 Years Cause of demise : Leaking viewing window
                        Kettle 2 - Life span - 18 months Cause of demise : Leaking viewing window

                        Also posted on other sites under the same username.
                        © lml888v 2008, 2011, 2012

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                          16.09.2008 17:47
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                          A classic and sophisticated scent for business and formal occasions

                          "Aramis" is a classic and sophisticated fragrance for the refined gentleman, and is equally appropriate for business or formal occasions. It is not suitable for teenage boys, nor would it be a good 21st birthday gift. It is aimed at the more mature, experienced and self-assured man. Picture in your mind a successful businessman such as Peter Jones, from Dragon's Den, at a high-powered meeting, or an international movie star like George Clooney at a film premier with a glamorous woman by his side, or a fictional hero like James Bond, as played by Pierce Brosnan, at the roulette table. This is the "Aramis" image.

                          "Aramis" Eau de Toilette (EDT) is to be found at the fragrance counters of major department stores such as Debenhams, House of Fraser, John Lewis and Harrods. It can also be purchased online from discount perfume sites either direct or through eBay or Amazon.

                          As well as the EDT spray, the Aramis Classic range also includes such items as Aftershave, Aftershave Balm, Pre-Electric Shave Lotion, Direct Moisturising Cream, Invigorating Body Shampoo, 24 Hour Antiperspirant Spray, 24 Hour Deodorant Stock, Soap in a case.


                          ~ Packaging ~

                          The box is simple yet stylish, made from glossed card in a smooth tan colour with mottling in darker browns. It brings to mind a fine polished wood veneer marked with signs of natural variation and age such as might be used on the interior of a classic car. On the reverse is a list of ingredients and a warning that the product is flammable until dry.

                          The bottle is a traditional rectangular shape made of thick clear glass, with a simple gold coloured cylindrical cap covering the spray nozzle. The design is solid, uncomplicated, classic, and very masculine.

                          The font of both the box and the bottle display a dark brown lozenge shape, bordered with gold, bearing the word "a r a m i s" in lowercase gold lettering.


                          ~ How scents are described (skip if you wish) ~

                          Most readers will be familiar with the definitions for the relative strengths of perfumery products and, from strongest to weakest, these are 'Eau de Perfam', 'Eau de Toilette', 'Eau de Cologne', and finally aftershaves, body sprays and splashes.

                          Perhaps a little less familiar is the 'note' terminology used to describe scents. A 'note' is an individual aroma that is reminiscent of, but not necessarily made from, a familiar smelling substance such as vanilla, sandalwood, honey, or bergamot. 'Notes' are grouped into various 'families', so, for example, flowery aromas are generically known as 'Floral', aromas such as sandalwood, cedar, and patchouli are generically known as 'Woody', and aromas such as honey, tobacco, wood tars, and leathers are generically known as 'Leather'.

                          Just as musical notes played together can make an agreeable sound or be jarring, so a blend of aromatic 'notes' can beautiful or repulsive.

                          If wearing a fragrance the detectable 'note' combinations vary over time. When the scent is first opened and applied the aromas detected are referred to as the 'top notes', as these evaporate away the next combination of aromas that become apparent is referred to as the 'middle notes', and finally, after around 30 minutes, these fade away too and you are able to distinguish the final and lasting combination of aromas referred to as the 'base notes'.

                          For a well-written and comprehensive discussion see the Wikipedia entry for "Perfume".


                          ~ Smell and Longevity ~

                          The EDT natural spray is quite powerful and should be applied sparingly.

                          The initial 'top notes' contain the fresh warm citrus essences of bergamot oil and have an uplifting effect. These give way to the heavier and comforting 'middle notes' that include sage and clove. Later the deeply soothing rich 'base notes' emerge and these are sweet, woody, smoky and earthy with a mix of sandalwood, patchouli oil, vetiver and tree moss.

                          There is something very seductive and addictive in this fragrance. Its aroma is captivating and makes me breathe in deeply; I even involuntarily close my eyes. Then, slowly exhaling, I experience a pleasurable sense of reassurance flow through me. It is very special.

                          "Aramis" EDT spray has exceptional staying power and a light application lasts fairly undiminished for 4 to 6 hours. It even lingers beautifully on shirts placed in the laundry basket.


                          ~ Price Guide ~

                          In departmental stores "Aramis" EDT spray retails close to £39 for 110 ml and £29 for 60 ml, and the assistants often throw in small samples/gifts from the same range. However, if you search the online discount perfume sites you can pay a little as £27 for 110 ml and £24 for 60 ml.


                          ~ Verdict ~

                          A quality fragrance targeted at the cultivated man. It is authoritative, yet not over-powering, and is perhaps best suited to business, special occasions and evenings. Not excessively expensive and a small application gives long lasting results so it is value for money. The alluring fragrance and sophisticated image make this a superb gift for the man in your life.


                          ~ Additional Information ~

                          The Estée Launder Company, an American firm founded in 1946, at first produced quality cosmetics and scents for women, and these could be purchased from prestigious stores in New York such as Saks on Fifth Avenue. Their first fragrance for men, the classic "Aramis", was created by perfumer Bernard Chant and initially launched in New York during 1964, and the following year in the UK, exclusively at Harrods, London.

                          Nowadays, the "Aramis" brand comprises a range of fragrances and grooming products for men and even scents for women. It is part of 'Estée Lauder Companies Inc.', and more information, together with a very interesting biography of Mrs Estée Lauder (1906-2004), can be found at www.elcompanies.com.


                          © lml888v 2008

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                            12.09.2008 11:57
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                            A great 'naughty but nice' cream cake treat!

                            "TESCO Tempting Rich Fresh Cream Chocolate Éclairs" are a 'naughty but nice' treat that can be found in packs of two, four or ten in the fresh dessert section of the chilled cabinets in most Tesco stores.

                            Note that the size (and obviously calories) of the éclairs varies according to the number in the box. Two-pack éclairs have 270 calories each, four-pack éclairs are slightly smaller with 160 calories each, and the ten-pack éclairs are the smallest with 125 calories each. I will be giving my opinion of the four-pack size.


                            ~ Packaging ~

                            Note that the packaging has recently been updated and so does not exactly match the product illustration above.

                            The éclairs are presented in a pale blue cardboard box with a large cellophane window that affords a good (and tempting) view of the items within. To the left-hand side of the window is a helpful graphic that responsibly informs you that each individual portion contains 160 calories, 5.8g of sugar, 11.2g of fat, 6.5g of saturates and a trace amount of salt, and how that computes as percentages of your daily allowance. So you have been warned!

                            The box front also states that the product is free of artificial preservatives, flavours, and colours. On the reverse there is the usual information on storage (refrigerate until use by date), ingredients, nutrition and allergy/dietary information. Conveniently, this product can be frozen on the day of purchase, and there are freezing/defrosting instructions.

                            You open the box by lifting a flap on the side, and then the clear plastic tray holding the éclairs can be accessed. The tray has individual compartments designed to separate and protect. Often, the chocolate fondant at each end of the éclair has attached to the tray so removal can be a little messy. A small amount of the topping sometimes remains on the plastic - the perfect excuse to sneak an extra chocolaty treat for yourself!

                            The cardboard box can clearly be recycled, but the cellophane window and plastic tray go in the main household waste.


                            ~ Look, Smell and Taste ~

                            The appearance of the individual éclairs is very attractive. The choux pastry finger is a dark golden colour, and the broad strip of chocolate topping is an inviting rich brown. It is only when you bite into the éclair that you can view the generous portion of fresh cream running down the centre. Each éclair is roughly 12 cm long and 3-4 cm in diameter. This is a nice size as the éclair can be eaten daintily, with fingers, without making a mess of yourself, and is just enough to leave you feeling satisfied.

                            The éclair has a sweet sponge-cake aroma, but this is very light and does not over-power the taste of the chocolate fondant and fresh cream.

                            The choux pastry is firm without being crispy or chewy, and has a sweet cake-like taste. The soft fondant topping is quite sweet and has a really rich dark chocolaty flavour. The ample fresh cream filling adds a clean cool taste. The overall combination results in a heavenly melt in the mouth experience!

                            ~ Price Guide ~

                            A box of two éclairs cost £0.84, a box of four £1.24, and a box of ten £1.99.


                            ~ Verdict ~

                            Not for everyday consumption (beware the cholesterol and calories), but a delicious treat, and at a very affordable price.


                            Also posted on Ciao under the same username.
                            © lml888v 2008

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                              10.09.2008 11:02
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                              A delightfully funny book

                              If you have ever witnessed someone unconsciously utter a Spoonerism (for example, "I hit my bunny phone" instead of "I hit my funny bone", or "pit nicking" instead of "nit picking") and smiled at the puzzlement or amusement of those around, then you will chuckle (and sometimes even laugh out load) at this comic tale from children's writer Roald Dahl.


                              ~ Outline ~

                              The story is about the Reverend Lee. However, this young vicar's problem is not Spoonerisms exactly. Instead he suffers from a very special form of verbal dyslexia, which causes him to unknowingly speak some words as if they had been written in reverse, for example, he might say "dog" instead of "God", and this gives rise to increasingly funny situations.

                              The clergyman is newly arrived in Nibbleswicke and it seems the stress of his new position has awoken this condition. Sometimes everyday words when reversed can confer on a simple sentence a new and even rude meaning, and these are especially hilarious when spoken innocently by a man of the cloth. His parishioners experience both alarm and bemusement at his condition, and yet they begin to warm to his eccentricity. It is the local doctor who recognises his condition and suggests a cure which the vicar resolves to take, even if that cure is itself very bizarre....


                              ~ Opinion ~

                              This delightful and very funny book is intended for young children (and the young at heart), and has some lovely pen drawings, both black-and-white and coloured, by Quentin Blake.

                              The story is quite short. There are forty-eight pages in total, but the story itself is carried on just twenty-three sides, each printed in a fairly large font, and most pages are accompanied by a charming illustration. It can easily be completed in a single sitting.

                              The publisher says the book is suitable for ages five to eight years. However, in my opinion, full enjoyment of the book, and the ability to 'get the joke', relies on the reader's capacity to understand spelling and perform mental gymnastics with the dialogue, and so I feel the book is more suited to a child aged between eight and fourteen.


                              ~ Price Guide ~

                              A new paperback copy of this book can be obtained from most good book shops for £4.99. I have just checked the Internet and found second-hand copies available on eBay for £0.99 plus P&P, and on Amazon for as little as £0.01 plus £2.75 P&P.


                              ~ Additional Notes ~

                              Roald Dahl (1916 -1990) wrote this book in the final months of his life. The story, together with Blake's illustrations, was kindly donated for the benefit of the Dyslexia Institute.


                              A version of this review has appeared on Ciao under the same username.
                              © lml888v 2008

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                                29.08.2008 18:58
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                                An easy to use and efficient washing machine cleaner

                                "Dr. Beckmann Service-it" is a liquid washing machine cleaner that claims to "clean, freshen and maintain against breakdowns and malfunctions".

                                The makers recommend that it be used every 3 months (or 40 washes) in order to rid your washing machine drum, pipes, seals, etc. of any build-up of detergent residue and grime. Also, by cleaning, to dispel any odours, and maintain efficiency by eliminating any build-up of limescale on the heating elements.

                                The product is to be found in the 'laundry aides' section in many supermarkets, and can be purchased direct from the manufacturer's online shop at www.acdomart.co.uk.


                                ~ My reason for using ~

                                I am keen to reduce my carbon footprint and have switched most of my wash loads to 30 or 40 degrees. However, when I recently used a 60 degree cycle (with high spin speed) I was surprised to find my laundry covered in little patches of a pale grey clay-like sticky substance. On examining beneath the rubber seal that is just inside the washing machine door I was able to see the cause - a rather yucky accumulation of detergent and conditioner within the drum housing. It seems the lower temperature cycles had allowed the build-up and then the hot wash, together with a high spin speed, had dislodged some of it.

                                I did not research which product to use; I simply bought the first one I saw.


                                ~ Packaging ~

                                The single 250ml treatment is presented in a cardboard box, mainly white, with the distinctive 'Dr. Beckmann' trademark and a see-through image of a washing machine. Looks modern and clinical!

                                The reverse of the box gives just three warnings a) only for use with stainless steel drums, b) always refer to appliance manufacturer's instructions, and c) keep out of the reach of children. There are also simple, very easy to follow instructions for using the product.

                                Inside the box is a 250ml bottle of the cleaning fluid. The plastic bottle is shaped somewhat like a tall right-angled triangle, and is bright blue with a bright pink flip cap. The cap is not childproof. Most of the important information on the box is repeated on the bottle. There is also an informational leaflet.

                                The cardboard box, informational leaflet and plastic bottle can all be recycled.


                                ~ How to Use ~

                                The instructions are extremely simple to follow ...

                                Step 1. Use a little of the product on a clean cloth to wipe the rubber seal around the door and then rinse with a clean damp cloth.

                                Step 2. Remove detergent dispenser unit and soak for 30 minutes in a solution of 50ml product diluted in 4 litres of water. Then rinse off dispenser and reinsert in machine.

                                Step 3. Pour remainder of product into detergent drawer and start a main wash cycle (60 degrees recommended). No washing in the machine, no pre-wash cycle and no detergent.

                                I actually started with Step 2 and used very hot water to dilute the product, and, while the detergent dispenser unit was soaking, I performed Step 1. The product has an agreeable odour and did not irritate my skin at all. Step 3 is very straightforward and for my machine the 60 degree main wash took almost two hours.

                                At the end of the procedure I was very pleased that all the detergent build-up seemed to have been removed and the machine had a pleasant fresh smell.


                                ~ Price Guide ~

                                At time of writing, both Sainsbury and www.acdomart.co.uk are selling a single treatment (250ml) for £2.99.


                                ~ Verdict ~

                                The product is very easy to use, and effectively removes detergent build-up, leaving the machine smelling fresh. The only slight draw back is the time required for the procedure; 30 minutes to soak the detergent dispenser unit, and then perhaps two hours for an empty wash cycle at 60 degrees (time varies by machine). I will definitely use this product again, but will do the treatment overnight so as to make use of Economy 7 electricity.


                                ~ Additional Notes ~

                                "Dr. Beckmann" is the brand name for a range of specialized laundry and household cleaning products that includes familiar items such as Glo-White and Stain-Devils, and full details can be found at www.dr-beckmann.co.uk. The brand is part of the ACDOCO Company, originally established in 1919 as ACDO at Bolton, Greater Manchester by Harry Pilling, which now also markets personal care products such as Bionsen aluminium-free deodorants, and Blanx tooth-whitening products. Dr. Beckmann is himself one of the owners of this family run business. More information, together with a very interesting company history covering 89 years, can be found at www.acdoco.com.


                                This review also appears on another site under the same name.

                                © lml888v 2008

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                                • Tesco Custard Slices / Snacks / 226 Readings / 214 Ratings
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                                  11.08.2008 20:02
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                                  A great sweet and flaky custard treat!

                                  'TESCO Custard Slices" are a delicious sweet and flaky treat that can be found in packs of two in the fresh dessert section of the chilled cabinets.


                                  ~ Packaging ~

                                  The custard slices are presented in a neat pale blue cardboard box with a cellophane window that affords a clear (and enticing) view of the items within. To the left-hand side of the window is a helpful graphic that responsibly informs you that each individual slice contains 310 calories, 22.4g of sugar, 14.2g of fat, 7.5g of saturates and 0.5g of salt, and how that computes as percentages of your daily allowance. So you cannot plead ignorance!

                                  The box front also states that the product is free of artificial preservatives, flavours, and colours. On the reverse there is the usual information on storage (refrigerate until use by date), ingredients, nutrition and allergy/dietary information. This product cannot be frozen.

                                  You open the box by lifting a flap on the side, and then the clear plastic tray holding the custard slices can be accessed. The tray is cleverly designed with individual compartments that separate and protect, but it is also 'hinged' so that half the tray swings away allowing the slices to be easily removed without any damage.

                                  The cardboard box can be recycled, but the cellophane window and plastic tray go in the main household waste.


                                  ~ Look, Smell and Taste ~

                                  The appearance of the individual custard slice is very attractive. The upper and lower slices of flaky pastry are a light golden colour, and in between is a thick layer of firm yet fluffy pale yellow custard. Topping the whole cake is a shiny layer of white icing that is decorated with a delicate feathered design in lemon yellow.

                                  The custard slice has a barely detectable sweet cake-like smell from the flaky pastry; I was unable to notice any aroma from the custard or icing topping.

                                  The pastry has a nice firm consistency that is flaky without being too crumbly, and has a sweet cake-like flavour. The icing top is sticky and very sweet, complimented by the thick layer of custard that adds a clean cool taste. The overall combination is very satisfying, however, it can be a little tricky to eat because as you bite the custard tends to escape and the icing can make your fingers very messy!

                                  Although this is a very nice slice, my personal preference is for the type that has a layer of fresh cream and fruit conserve in place of the custard.


                                  ~ Price ~

                                  At time of writing, a box of two Tesco custard slices cost £0.94.


                                  ~ Verdict ~

                                  Very high in cholesterol and calories so not for everyday consumption, however, they are great as a reasonably priced occasional treat.


                                  © lml888v 2008

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