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== My Early Experience ==
When I was a child in the 1950s, I was given a tortoise as a pet, and knowing no different thought that it was OK to kept it in a run in the garden in the warmer months, and put it in a wooden box in our shed for it to sleep away the winter months. Even if I had been allowed to bring it indoors, our own home would not have been warm enough for him in the severest winters at night after our coal fires had been out for some time.
Other things I learnt from experience were that tortoises can burrow through soil to escape from a standard pen, and they can climb. Climbing up the side of a bowl of water (that was too deep to get out of again), will cause a tortoise to drown.
== Building Up Knowledge ==
With the internet, it is now easier to find out about pet care. This should, of course, be done before getting any pet.
Only captive breed tortoises are legally allowed to be sold in the UK. (Sadly too many have died in transit from their natural part of the world.)
The 3 types of tortoise must often kept as pets in the UK (Hermans, Spur-Thighs, and Marginated) are all naturally found in Mediterranean areas of Southern Europe, where the climate is a lot different from the UK. Therefore, to thrive in the UK they need to have heated accommodation, and a UV lamp. The exact temperature range will depend on the species. Some always hibernate in winter, some don’t.
The bulk of their diet is leafy plants. (I was particularly pleased that mind liked many of the weeds that grew in our garden.) However, check the exact dietary needs of your species of tortoise, as well and its environmental needs.
The popularity of tortoises as pets seems to have grown quicker than our understanding of their needs. I believe humans still have a lot to learn about keeping tortoises healthy in captivity.
Tortoises are not the cheap, or easiest of pets to look after, that people once thought they were. Do read up on their variety of needs, and think about whether you can afford the expense, and time, to keep one, bearing in mind that a well-looked after tortoise will have a similar life-span to a healthy human.
Over the many years we have lived in our present home, we have had many frogs and toads visit our garden. As we live near a large lake this is not surprising.
Amphibians require a body of freshwater to breed in spring. They tend to return to the same place each year, often to where they were spawned, to lay their fertilised eggs in still water. Frogs will usually choose small ponds or the shallow edges of lakes where their eggs will get plenty of light and warmth from the sun.
Small ponds can seem overcrowded with adults in spring, but they will disperse once their reason for being there is over. In summer, after the tadpole stage, you may see large numbers of young frogs or toads, but again these will naturally scatter.
Our detached garage has remained damp for some weeks now, not getting the chance to dry out fully in between the rain.
Since these damp conditions, a frog seems to have set up home on an odd brick he found in a dark damp garage corner. It does leave the brick from time to time, presumably to go foraging, but it has kept coming back. It might have found some juicy slugs and insects to eat in my compost heap which could be its froggy restaurant. In fact in has been a particularly good/bad (depending on whether you are a gardener or a frog) year for slugs in my garden. Frogs should be filling up with food in autumn to have enough energy to get them through the winter, so it is in luck.
Our frog may choose to hibernate over winter in our garage. If he does he will be safe in the corner he has selected to be in. Most amphibians lie dormant over winter, though may come out and forage if the weather turns temporarily mild.
I am fascinated by the way the frog’s skin changes colour to camouflage it depending on whether it is in full shadow, or partial light because we need to have one or both of the doors open for a while.
If you find a frog or toad, do not move it, unless it is in danger, for example from road vehicles. Assume it has a good reason for being there, or is on route to somewhere good for it.
GIVE NATURE A HOME
If you want wildlife in your garden, make it a home and be patient. Don’t pick any kind of animals up and move them. If you have the right conditions they will come of their own accord. See the section on the RSPB’s website called Give Nature a Home for what you may be able to do to encourage different species.
There are two types of sparrow in the UK – the house sparrow and the smaller tree sparrow. Overall their numbers have shown a worrying decline, but for house sparrows, not in my area. It may be that pollution from vehicles is adversely affecting their numbers in large urban areas, and some farming practices in rural areas.
I live in a town, small by Essex standards, and the numbers of sparrows that we have nesting in our eaves and visiting our garden has increased. I have watched them eat seeds, insects, and human food leftovers.
I have a bird feeding station, and used to give them a mixture of seeds in feeders. However, I am also a keen gardener, and found that too many of the seeds ended up growing as weeds in my borders. As a gardener, I am pleased to report that they eat some of the insects, including aphids, which would otherwise damage my treasured plants.
I have found that the seeds that they like best are sunflower hearts. There is no waste as the outer shell has already been taken off, and few of the seeds end up growing in my garden, as they are too good for the birds not eat as many as they can find.
As well as the extra food and clean water that we put out, I have seen that they appreciate the shelter of trees and bushes in mine and neighbours’ gardens.
In the spring we watched with concern and interest at what fate belonged to a young sparrow that fell out of our eaves before it could look after itself, or even fly. Mother sparrow led it into our nearby compost heap, where it also got shelter from spreading bushes. There were small insects in the compost heap, as well as the seeds and wholemeal bread we put out for the youngster and his family to feed on. It was not just mother sparrow that fed the juvenile, others who we called “the aunties” helped as well. We eventually had the privilege of watching the youngster learn to fly and eventually fully fledge.
If you watch them as we have, you may come to a similar conclusion to us. To me they are not just small brown birds that we take for granted. They are my intelligent and sociable neighbours.
GIVE NATURE A HOME
I hope that more people will have nature friendly gardens to help SPARROWS and other WILDLIFE in decline. The RSPB have a campaign called “Give Nature a Home”, which you can find out more about on their website.
When my daughter first asked for fish as pets, we thought gold fish would be the easiest to keep. Maybe some fish owners find that they are, but repeated attempts by us resulted in quick deaths, despite cleaning our good sized tank out to get rid of any possible infections in between efforts. Maybe our failure was because the shop that we bought them from was not as reliable a source as we thought.
Our neighbour kept tropical fish and suggested that we try them instead. So we went to the added expense of adding a heater, thermostat and filtration unit with an air pump to our tank.
We bought guppies, and a variety of extra colourful tetras. We chose these as being easy to keep varieties, and did quite well.
We liked the tetras best because they were more decorative and did not eat their babies like the guppies. Ideally baby fish should be separated from adult guppies until they have grown up.
We did not go for the full range of fish, but experts, like my neighbour, will tell you that for a fully functioning environment you need varieties that feed at the top, middle and bottom, the latter eating the waste from the bottom of the tank to minimise the cleaning time needed by the owner.
Snails also eat the debris but they reproduce extremely quickly, so we found them more of a nuisance in our limited species collection. Incidentally, you only need one snail to get a large amount of baby snails. I don’t pretend to understand the biology, but can confirm from experience. (The first snail we acquired was on a water plant we bought.)
For cleaning we took out a third of the water about once a fortnight, and replaced it with pre-heated treated water. It depends on the contents of your tank how often you need to replace the water.
CONCLUSION / RECOMMENDATION
I enjoyed keeping our colourful tropical fish, and found watching them relaxing.
After the initial expense of setting up the tank, if you buy the right varieties they will breed and replace the older ones quite economically. Their food and water treatment supplies did not cost much.
I particularly recommend neon tetras as a good variety for beginners, as they are colourful and quite hardy. They naturally live in groups so I think you should buy at least six of them.
THE EARLY MONTHS OF OUR OWNERSHIP
When I was young I asked my parents for two guinea pigs. I said that I wanted two so that they would not get lonely while I was at school.
They bought one male and one female. Before long we had 5 baby guinea pigs as well. At that point the male was separated from the rest, as there was a limit to how many guinea pigs we had room for in our garden. I was told that I could keep any female babies.
My parents would take any males away from mum as soon as she had stopped feeding them her milk. There was only one male baby and he was taken to the pet shop where the owner swapped him for some of the dry food we could feed the others with. (They also had suitable fresh vegetable food.)
However, soon after that even more babies appeared. It appeared that the baby male was not separated early enough!
MY HAPPY MEMORIES
My group of female guinea pigs got a lot of gentle attention from me, as well as enjoying each other’s company while I was not there.
The original adult male stayed with us as well, though in a separate enclosure. He was the tamest, and was allowed to visit us in a room in our house with an easy clean floor. However, if we left the door leading to the garden open, from very early days, he would go outside when he needed to relieve himself. I suspect that he may have been house-trained by a previous owner.
Although he appeared content, with hindsight, I think it would have been kinder to have him neutered so that he could have stayed in the same enclosure as the rest of his family.
I had my guinea pigs a long time before the internet was invented and so information was not so easy to come by.
I recommend all prospective pet owners to read up-to-date information on relevant animal welfare before deciding what to get. I especially like the pet care section of the PDSA site. Here is a summary, but visit their website for fuller care needs.
“Guinea pigs need a large home with a large exercise run. They can be shy animals, so they need shelters and tubes to feel secure. They need plenty of hay in their diet, together with the right amount of guinea pig pellets. The pellets contain vitamin C which guinea pigs can't make for themselves. Guinea pigs need the company of other guinea pigs.”
MY EXPERIENCE OF BUDGIES
I had the pleasure of sharing my home with a lovely tame budgie for 7 years.
We had a very small home at this time, and because of shift work he was very rarely left home alone. This meant that although we only had the one pet, he still got plenty of human company. He seemed very contented when we gave him attention, especially as he often got let out of his cage to exercise, or watch TV perched on or near us. When he did eventually become ill and die, the vet said that he suspected cancer had caused the problem. Though it is sad when pets die, he gave us some great memories.
We moved home soon after that, and got another budgie. Again it was a single bird, but as we then had 2 main rooms downstairs, a kitchen dinner and a lounge, he did not get the same amount of company. We spend our time split between the 2 rooms, and he stayed in just the one. He was never as tame as the first one, and didn’t live as long. I see this as proof that you should only keep a single budgie if it is going to get lots of attention, for example from a mostly housebound person who needs company themselves.
Otherwise I think it is definitely kinder to have at least two budgies who are brought up together. Don’t mix the sexes if you don’t have room in an aviary for baby budgies! You may not easily be able to find a new home for them.
Their cage should be out of direct sunlight but away from any draughts. If this cage is too small to fly around in, they should regularly be let out to exercise, but first make sure the environment is safe for them and any windows shut.
For ease of cleaning we used sheets of sandpaper at the bottom of our cage. We also had sandpaper covers for our perches to help prevent toe nails becoming too long.
We gave clean water and new food daily, as well as clearing away the droppings. They should be given as varied a diet as possible. Buy budgie mixes that contain more than just seed. Small amounts of fresh fruit and vegetables, washed to remove any chemicals on the surface, can also be offered.
I think the PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals) charity website is a great source of information on budgie, and other pet, welfare. Despite their title they would much prefer to offer information on how to keep pets healthy, than treat them because they have become ill.
I have kept two different types of rabbits the small Netherlands Dwarf, and an averaged sized Lop Eared Rabbit.
Having kept two different breeds of rabbit, I know that it is just as important to consider personalities as size.
My NEVERLANDS DWARF was usually good tempered with adults, especially those he knew well, but was not a suitable pet for children to be around. When my neighbour’s grand-children even came into the garden next door to ours, his first instinct was to hide. One tried to stroke him once. Once was enough for the child and the rabbit. The child was not particularly rough with him, but not quite as gentle as the adults that he was used to. He went to bite the child, but luckily the child’s reaction was quick, and the hand quickly disappeared back over their side of the fence.
With adults that he knew and trusted he could be very patient. If his usual carers accidentally did something he didn’t like, as a first warning he would put his teeth onto their skin but did not bite down. He would bite anyone if he was scared though, without any warning, and he quickly reacted to anything unusual happening.
The LOP EARED rabbit has a very docile nature, and has been extremely patient while we have taught a toddler how to stroke his fur gently in the direction of growth.
My NETHERLANDS DWARF easily beats the Lop for intelligence. Perhaps the fact that he is more aware of danger makes him more nervous, and therefore less tolerant.
The Netherlands plays with us, pushing things back and forth with his nose, but he is harder to catch, for example when it is time for him to go to bed in his hutch, because he seems to have a sixth sense as to when this is likely to happen.
The LOP EARED is a big cuddly softy in comparison, but this is what makes him so trusting and loveable. He loves being affectionately stroked, but hasn’t invented any games to play with his human companions.
They have needed similar as far as food, housing and companionship are concerned. The only obvious difference to me is that the Lop, with longer hair than the Netherlands Dwarf, can do with a bit of extra human help with his grooming. Brushing hair, especially when mounting, is more time consuming in the longer haired varieties.
With limited space, my review is purely about my personal experience of individual rabbits. The RSPCA gives excellent general advice on how to care for rabbits and other pets, and I recommend their website to all animal owners.
I was diagnosed with mild osteoarthritis in my shoulder several years ago.
My husband had already been diagnosed with osteoarthritis many years earlier than me, after doing a physically demanding job, with a high risk of injury to joints. To be able to cope with a delay to a knee replacement, he continues to do the exercises given to him by his physiotherapist, eating well (a balanced diet, and not over-eating to stop his knees needing to carry excess weight), and taking the dietary supplement Glucosamine and Chondroitin.
As my husband’s consultant was very interested in how this supplement seemed to be helping him, when I was diagnosed with the same, though thankfully less severe, condition, I decided to take it too.
DOES GLUCOSAMINE & CHONDROITING HELP?
Studies about the benefits of Glucosamine and Chondroitin have been inconclusive. Here is what the NHS website says. “Glucosamine hydrochloride has not been shown to have any beneficial effects, but there is some evidence that glucosamine sulphate and chondroitin sulphate help symptoms and do not cause many side effects. These supplements can be expensive. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) does not recommend prescription of chondroitin or glucosamine, but recognises that patients often choose to take them."
The experience of both myself and my husband is that it has been easier to cope with osteoarthritis after taking Tesco Glucosamine and Chondroitin.
We choose to take the version sold by Tesco, as I have found that they have been the best value for money. Currently 90 tablets cost £12 and 240 tablets cost £19.90. We budget so that I can stock up when we are running low, so that we can take advantage of the long running 3 for 2 offer that Tesco has on their food supplements.
While the NHS consultant can’t officially recommend that we continue to take them, he has made a note that we find them helpful, and included the information in a report he made to our GP.
They are NOT SUITABLE for those with a shellfish allergy.
If, like me, you have osteoarthritis, I recommend Tesco’s own brand as the best value for money that I have come across.
However, as all brands are quite expensive, only try them if you can afford to do so, and the cost allows you to buy them without foregoing other more important things that benefit your general health and well-being. They appear to help some suffers of osteoarthritis, like me, but not others. Any positive effects will probably be apparent up to 2 months from first taking.
== My Experience ==
Hay fever badly affected my ears last year. After applying prescription strength drops, I ended up having to have them syringed twice in 2 weeks, at my local Heath Centre, to get all of the hardened wax out.
This being something I didn’t want to repeat this year, I took my GP’s advice and am using preventative olive oil in my ears to stop them ending up in the same state again.
My doctor didn’t recommend olive oil of any particular brand, but when I saw it in spray form in the healthcare department of Morrison’s, I thought it an easy and non-messy way of getting an appropriate dose into my ears.
However, after a couple of months Morrison’s discontinued this and I couldn’t find it anywhere else on my high street.
I have since bought it from Amazon, who currently sell it for £4.99 a bottle.
How often you need to use it will depend on the degree of ear wax problem you have.
I have used it as a preventative treatment for the past year, and have had no excess ear wax since doing this. I use it more in the summer than winter, because pollen seems to trigger excess wax production in my ears lately. When the pollen count is high, I have one spray in each ear daily. In the winter I use it about once a week.
Follow your health professional’s advice if using before they syringe your ears, but for adults this is usually 1 or 2 sprays, twice a day, in each affected ear.
It will work best if the bottle is warmed in the palm of your hand and shaken before use. To deliver a dose, hold the bottle upright, with the nozzle in the ear canal, and press the actuator down fully.
I have found that this Earol Olive Oil Spray is a much more convenient way of loosening ear wax than using drops.
The fine spray, directed into the ear by the nozzle, means that I can use, and then carry on with my life, as there is rarely any excess to worry about. One spray all gets used up in each of my ears.
After having an extreme ear wax problem that needed syringing, I now use this as an effective preventative treatment.
Using Earol Olive Oil Spray should not cause pain, or any other unpleasant side effect. Patients with ear pain, a perforated ear drum, or under 1 year should use only under medical supervision.
As with all medicines, you should read the up-to-date leaflet that comes with it, before use.
** My Experience **
My hobbies of gardening and walking in the countryside are not obviously good ones for someone who seems to be a magnet for biting insects.
Two things have helped me cope.
The first is that, although I still get stung as much as ever, by the end of the season, my reaction seems to lessen as my body gets used to dealing with the problem naturally. Sadly, the next spring I seem to have to start from “scratch” to build up partial immunity again. (Despite my description, scratching will, or course, only make the problem worse by helping the irritation to spread more widely over the skin.)
However, I have found that the best treatment for me is Anthisan cream. I always carry a tube with me, because if applied to the skin before my allergic reaction to a bite has a chance to fully kick in, the less the reaction and the quicker the symptoms go.
Anthisan cream contains an antihistamine called mepyramine, which has helped me by reducing the swelling and itching caused by such things as insect bites and plant irritants.
As I am very vulnerable, I keep tubes in my home medicine cabinet, in my car glove compartment, handbag and rucksack, so that I can apply it to my skin as soon as it is needed. Occasionally my husband will ask to use one of my tubes, but when I am around, insects are much more attracted to me.
** Availability **
I have bought this in both supermarkets and pharmacies.
Do seek advice from a pharmacist, or other health professional, before use, if the patient is a child under the age of 2 years, or the area of skin affected is cut or sunburnt.
As I have seen quite big differences in the price of a tube, between £2 - £4, I look out for the special offers that usually appear around the time of year when people are most likely to get insect bites.
A 20g tube is currently selling in Tesco for £2.
I have found Anthisan cream very effective in reducing the effects of insect bites and plant allergies, when I have applied it to my skin soon after contact has occurred.
As with all medicines, do read the up-to-date leaflet that comes with it, before use.
*** Paracetamol and Caffeine ***
PARACETAMOL is one of the most well tolerated pain relief medicines, which is also used to reduce temperature in feverish patients. However, as with all medicines, it should be used with care, which is why there is Government legislation limiting the amount of paracetamol you can buy over the counter, without a doctor’s prescription.
The “Plus” part of Tescos Paracetamol Plus Caplets is CAFFEINE. When the stimulant caffeine is added to paracetamol it helps to increases its pain relieving power.
Two packs of 16 is the maximum that you can buy in the supermarket. Each caplet contains 500g paracetamol and 65mg caffeine.
Adults are advised to have a maximum of 2 tablets, up to 4 times a day. This is the maxium paracetamol as well as caffeine recommended for adults in a day, so if you are likely to have much caffeine in other forms, eg tea or coffee, do take this into consideration.
Do not give Paracetamol Plus to those under 12 years of age without medical advice. Basic paracetamol (without the caffeine additive) is usually recommended for children, with a dose dependent on weight and age.
*** Reasons NOT to Take This Medicine. ***
As paracetamol is found in combination with other ingredients in a variety of medicines without the word “paracetamol” in their title, do check the ingredients of any other medicines you are taking, in particular those intended to reduce the symptoms of colds and flu.
Paracetamol overdoses can kill. By the time you get the symptoms of an overdose, it can be too late for doctors to help you. In any case, it is advisable to ask a pharmacist of doctor if it is alright to take multiple types of medicines as they may interact badly with each other.
*** Brands ***
There are other similar medicines on the market. The brands that spend most on advertising tend to be more expensive but no less effective than own brand products. As I do food shopping in Tesco, I believe it makes sense to buy their own brand for my medicine cupboard. These are currently 55p for 16 caplets.
The caffeine in Tesco Paracetamol Plus has helped me tolerate pain, by boosting the pain relief of paracetamol compared to taking it on its own. Another advantage is that I found the caplet shape easy to swallow. BUT since being diagnosed as needing medicine for high blood pressure, I have stopped using it.
People who should stick to basic paracetamol (without the caffeine) include children UNDER 12 years, patients with HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE, taking BETA BLOCKERS or medicines for ANXIETY.
Do read the leaflet that come with all medicines, before taking.
== How Tesco Diarrhoea Capsules Work ==
They each contain 2mg of loperamide hydrochloride as the active ingredient. Diabetics will also need to know that they also contain lactose.
Loperamide is called an antimotility medicine. This means that it works by slowing contractions of the muscles in the bowel, so that food will pass through your digestive system less quickly. The longer the stools are in the bowel, the more water and water-soluble nutrients are absorbed, which makes them solidify.
The maximum dose is 8 in a 24 hour period, but with simple problems one pack of 6 should be enough to allow your digestion to settle down and get back to normal. Don't take more than you need or you will get constipated.
== Possible Problems ==
Before taking this, and all medicines, do read all of the advice that comes with the pack.
If the reason for diarrhoea is not obvious, taking these tablets could mask the symptoms of a serious digestive complaint.
Even if you think the cause is obvious, do not take for more than 2 days without consulting a pharmacist or doctor.
I have never had any bad side-effect from this non-prescription medicine, but some people do.
== Availability ==
Packs of 6 can be bought from Tesco supermarkets and I find these very easy to swallow.
A pack of 6 currently costs 80p for 6. This is the cheapest I have seen this type of loperamide hydrochloride medicine sold for. As there is no special offer sign displayed, I assume that this is a permanently great value for money own brand.
== Short Term ==
I have found these very effective in relieving the symptoms of diarrhoea when I have eaten something that disagrees with me.
They will also alleviate the symptoms of a tummy bug. However, I think that it is important to let the body get rid of the bug naturally, but it is equally important not to dehydrate.
I would initially treat tummy bug symptoms with a re-hydration medicine such as Dioralyte dissolved in water, and then use a loperamide hydrochloride based medicine like Tesco Diarrhoea Relief capsules, after I thought the body had naturally cleared out the bug. The loperamide hydrochloride in the capsules will help keep the essential salts in the Dioralyte, and the clean water in which it is dissolved, in the body.
== Long Term ==
If, unlike the examples above, the cause is not obvious, or the symptoms go on for more than 2 days, it is important to seek advice from a pharmacist or doctor, as taking the loperamide hydrochloride in Tesco's diarrhoea capsules could mask the symptoms of a serious illness.
Long term, doctors can recommend that the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome can be controlled with this type of medicine, BUT POSSIBLE LIFE-THREATENING CAUSES NEED TO BE RULED OUT FIRST.
== How Gavison Double Action Works ==
The stomach needs to produce strong acid to digest your food, where its walls are equipped to deal with a normal amount of acid.
However, if this acid becomes even stronger than it needs to be, or gets outside of the stomach where the digestion is not so well equipped to deal with it, you will feel a burning sensation.
The cause of excess acid is often temporary such as over-indulgence or stress. This is the type of situation where Gaviscon Double Action tablets have helped me cope with the short-term effects.
They contain two antacids, calcium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate. These help to neutralise the excess stomach acid, and form a protective barrier to reduce the burning pain.
== Possible Problems ==
As with all medicines, it is wise to read all of the information that comes with it before taking. I will mention the possible problems that I think are most common.
If Gaviscon is taken within 2 hours of other oral medicine, it can affect the effectiveness of the other medicine, so time doses accordingly.
Some patients need to restrict the amount of calcium and/or potassium in their diet. If this applies to you, do not take without medical advice.
If the reason for the excess acid is not obvious, taking these tablets could mask the symptoms of a serious stomach complaint. Again, if this applies to you seek medical advice. Even if you think the cause is obvious, do not take for more than 7 days without consulting a pharmacist or doctor.
== Availability ==
Gaviscon Double Action is available without prescription from many pharmacies and supermarkets.
I find it most convenient to take in a chewable tablet form. The mint flavour helps disguise most of the "chalkiness" for me.
I have seen the tablets in packs of 16 (for about £2.90) and 32 (for about £4.25). An adult dose is 2 to 4 tablets, up to four times a day.
I noticed a lot of special offers around Christmas time, when people are more likely to eat too much or get stressed out.
It is also available as a liquid, but for me this option can get a bit messy when trying to measure accurate amounts.
== Short Term ==
I have found these very effective in relieving the symptoms of an over-acidic stomach when I have eaten something that disagrees with me, simply overeaten, or had a temporarily stressful time.
== Long Term ==
If, unlike the examples above, the causes is not obvious, or the symptoms go on for more than a week, it is important to seek advice from a pharmacist or doctor, as taking Gaviscon could mask the symptoms of a serious illness.
== My Iron Usage ==
I think that life is too short to spend much time ironing. Consequently, when I am buying textiles, one of the criteria I look for is that they need little or no ironing.
Also to reduce ironing time, I partially tumble dry clothes in much smaller lots than my tumbler manufacturer says my machine will take. I then take them out while they are still damp and hang them up and ease them into shape straight away. For example, after doing this, I see no need to iron our stretch denim clothes.
Despite these precautions, our steam iron has come out once a working week for cotton office shirts.
It also gets occasional use for the sort of things that get infrequently washed like heavy curtains.
== The Iron ==
The iron came in a box with an easy to understand instruction leaflet and small plastic water measuring jug.
At the front of the iron, about 1 ½ inches above the base is the spray nozzle. Above this is the water filling inlet, leading to a transparent tank.
Then at the top of the front of the handle is the variable steam control knob and the spray button.
The iron has 3 temperature settings, with 1, 2 or 3 dots on them, which correspond to modern washing instruction labels. Near this is the indicator light which will come on initially when the iron is first plugged in. It goes off once the temperature has reached the indicated setting.
Where the flex is connected to the iron it has a "swivelling cord protector". The flex is about 70 ins long, and fitted with a 13 A fused plug. As I usually use it near a plug socket this is long enough for me. On the rare occasions when I have needed to use it in another location, I have used the extension lead we have that comes in handy for a number of appliances from time to time.
The water tank is transparent, and the sole plate just described as metal, with a non-stick covering.
== Use and Durability ==
I bought this Tesco Value Steam Iron about 5 years ago.
The reason for my needing to buy a new one was that my daughter was setting up her own home for the first time, and took a number of things with her "on long term loan", including my previous Tesco Value Steam Iron. Having had no problems with this type of iron, I bought another one to remain in my home from my local Tesco Extra.
I am happy to report that I have had no problems with this one either. It is showing no signs of needing replacing, but I think it has already given me good value for money, so when the time comes I would be happy to buy a similar one.
I have always used 100% distilled water in it, as I live in a very hard water area. This has no doubt contributed to the good length of service that I have had from the iron.
The fact that I have never felt a need to use starch may also have helped to keep it free from debris.
Sometimes I have instead used it as a dry iron, especially if I have had the time to iron while the fabric was still damp.
It is advised to only use the steam part of the iron if on the highest setting, to prevent water from leaking out of the sole plate.
For delicate fabric, to help get rid of creases more easily, you can instead just spray a thin jet of water from the front of the iron.
This spray feature can be used whether dry or stream ironing.
The fact that it is lightweight 0.75 kg, before water is added, is a good point for me, as I am a weakling and do not buy, or therefore launder, any particularly difficult fabrics.
== Price ==
I think I only paid about £5 for my iron about 5 years ago.
The only Tesco own brand iron that I know is currently available is £10. This looks similar, but is not identical, to mine. Based on previous experience, I would strongly consider buying it, if mine needed replacing.
I think the Tesco IR07 is a great value for money steam iron, which can also be used dry if required.
Apparently some people feel a need for a lot more sophisticated and expensive iron, but the Tesco IR07 1200W Value Steam Iron has been perfect for my needs.
== Avon's Guidelines ==
Avon typically say very little about their beauty products in their advertising. Instead they tend to rely on the impression potential customers get from their promotional photographs. However, with their skin care products, they do have age guidelines.
In the Anew Anti-Aging Skin Care Range these are the age guidelines.
25 to 40 Years Vitale
40 to 50 Years Reversalist
50 to 60 Years Ultimate
60 Years upwards Platinum
For Anew Reversalist Renewal Foaming Cleanser Avon say, "Moisture-rich, fast-foaming cleanser formulated with Activinol Wrinkle Reversal Technology. It removes dirt, excess oil and make-up, leaving skin looking refreshed, toned, soft and smooth based on a Consumer Study, 30 people."
== Exfoliation ==
I think one of the ways the Reveralist range is supposed to work is that the AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) in it chemically dissolve away the top layer of dead skin.
Other cleansers do a similar thing by having naturally occurring abrasives in their cleansers - for example Avon Clearskin Scrub (primarily aimed at teenages). A popular example from another brand is the St Ives Apricot Scrub. This is the sort that seems to suit me best, and even then I only feel a need to use them once a week on my skin.
Although experience has shown that the AHA method of exfoliation has not worked well for my facial skin, others apparently do benefit from it. Getting rid of the dead surface skin this way can make the skin smoother and encourage new growth, if your skin is not sensitive to it.
Any way of exfoliation is likely to make skin more susceptible to the damaging effects of sunlight, so it is extra important to use a sun protection factor product afterwards.
== Are You the Right Age? ==
On the Avon website, they have reviews from customers who have used their products, who score the product from 1-5 stars and also leave comments. On this Anew Reversalist Renewal Foaming Cleanser the age of the customer is not necessarily an indicator of how much they liked it.
My experience of Anew Reversalist Renewal Foaming Cleanser was poor.
I tried it when I was at the upper end of their 40-50 years age guidance. It certainly cleansed my skin, but also seemed to get rid of beneficial natural skin ingredients as well. Afterwards my face felt like it had been stripped of all its natural protection, was extremely dry, and cried out for immediate hydrating cream. I used my usual moisturiser and my skin absorbed about twice as much as I normally apply.
== Comparison with Avon's Cleanser Aimed at my Daughter's Age Group ==
I got on fine when my daughter let me sample her Avon Anew Vitale cleanser aimed at 25 to 40 year olds.
Have my previous anti-ageing products really benefitted me so much that I now have the same sort of skin as someone decades younger?
== Comparison with "Teenage" Type Cleansers ==
I always have in my toiletries cupboard a cleansing product from one of the popular brands aimed at teenage spotty skin. I don't use it often, only when I have an occasional greasy skin phase. (As well as teenagers, 50 year olds also tend to start having hormonal imbalances.)
Cleansing products including those from the brands Clear Skin and Clearasil, plus own brand cleansers that contain tea tree oil or witch hazel, have not stripped my skin to the same extent as Anew Reversalist Renewal Foaming Cleanser.
== Summary ==
Anew Reversalist Renewal Foaming Cleanser does not suit my face, as not only did it cleanse my skin, it also stripped it of my natural good protective ingredients.
The anti-ageing hydrating creams in this Reversalist range have also not suited my skin.
My star rating is based on how well it suits my skin. It may, however, suit your skin type.
== RECOMMENDATION ==
My recommendation on all skin care, including Anew Reversalist Renewal Foaming Cleanser is do not rely on age guidelines to tell if it is suitable for you. It is best to try a sample before buying a full size product.
Anew Reversalist Renewal Foaming Cleanser does not suit my skin because it stripped it overly dry.
On the plus side, my Avon representative will honour the money back guarantee on products that do not suit my skin, as she did in this case.