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I'm not a big fan of chocolate. I know this is a shocking confession "My name is Lisa and I don't like chocolate" but thats not to say I don't like sweet things. Its the texture of chocolate that puts me off but I am rather partial to the odd biscuit. My favorite biscuits are Twix's so I was delighted when on a recent jolly around my local Tesco's I discovered that the 'bisc & ...' range of biscuity snacks have finally reached our shores. 'bisc & ...' have been around in France and Spain for a few years now and i've often wondered why you couldn't get them over here (well, not exactly often wondered, that makes me sound a bit sad, like I spend all day thinking about snack foods - occasionally wondered might be more the case.) 'bisc & ...' biscuits are basically the shortcake base bit of Twix flattened out with different chocolatey toppings. The range include Bounty, Mars and Twix toppings, as well as my favorite, M&M's.They are quite small (24.8g - if this means nothing to you, they are about the same size as a fat and slightly elongated credit card.) As often is the case, these biscuits contain traces of nuts (peanut, almond and hazelnut) and are therefore not suitable for people with allergies. This is not clearly labled on the packaging although it is mentioned at the end of the ingredients list. They come in multipacks of 6 biscuits and as individual packets. I'm not exactly sure what sector of the market they are aiming for with the packaging of this product. It's a bit dated - a yellow packet which is dominated by the giant brown '&' sign in the middle. It is neither sophisticated nor funky and it isn't terribly inspiring - not the sort of thing that would encourage you buy the product based on packaging alone. What does help it to find its way into your shopping basket (apart from the special offer on at the moment in Tesco
9;s),is the fact that it is a new product (theres a big red 'NEW' sign on the packet in case you were in any doubt) and the fact that this product is slightly intriguing. It claims to be 'crunchy biscuits with M&M topping.' To be honest I was hoping for a bit more from the biscuit base - it was quite thin and not really very crunchy. I was expecting a proper crisp crunch like you get from a Twix, so it was disapointingly soft. It is topped with a thin layer of fudgy chocolate with 10 chocolate mini M&M's stuck on. These are not aranged in the arty way the packet suggests, but rather haphazardly which does spoil the look of the biscuit a little, but of course doesn't detract from the taste. They do have quite a sickly oversweet aftertaste, but make an enjoyable enough snack although I would advise storing them in the fridge as they benefit from being cold and if the topping is soft they can make a real mess! Each one contains 130 calories which isn't bad - you can't expect too much on the calorie front. After all, this product never claims to be health food. They are individually foil packed and the makers suggest they are ideal for leisure time, at work, at school, at home or in-between meals (they don't claim not to ruin your appetite if you eat them in between meals because that gap in the market has already been filled!!) Multi packs of six retail at 85p in my local Tesco's but they currently have an offer on - 2 multipacks for £1.20 (making each biscuit a very reasonable 10p - sometimes my mathematical ability just astounds me!) I've only tried the M&M's and Twix toppings which were both enjoyable. You could do worse than get a couple of packs of these to keep in for when munchies strike! Go on, risk it for a biscuit!!
If I ever went on 'Mastermind' my specialist subject might well be Cherry Ice Cream (well its no weirder than the bloke who chose 'Cements Used In Hip Replacement' now is it?!) I see myself as something of a cherry ice cream connoisseur and although Ben and Jerry's 'Cherry Garcia' reigns supreme as the ice cream of choice in my household there is a young pretender to its throne...enter Carte D'Or Spagnola ice cream. Carte D'Or ice cream isn't new to the market and according to my 'extensive' research is the number one brand in Britain - one in 10 people have now eaten Carte D'or ice cream (that was my useless fact for the day - an even more useless one being that enough Carte D'or ice cream is sold in Britain each year to stretch from Lands End to John O'Groats and back again - imagine the hassle getting to work if you had to negotiate a long line of ice cream tubs all over the place - it would be chaos...although you could pass the time eating the ice cream I suppose!!) I first tried Spagnola several years ago in France when it was popular in little individual tubs. I don't know if those are available over here yet, I haven't seen them anywhere - the tubs available in the supermarket are the large 'family sized' 500g tubs. The immediate benefit of Carte D'Or ice cream over some of its 'funkier' rivals is the fact that it come in a plastic container rather than a cardboard one - it won't end up all soggy and squidy. The oval flat container means you are also less likely to eat the whole thing straight from the tub - it's less easy to hold, which makes it better for your waistline! The ice cream itself is creamy vanilla coloured with dark cherry sauce running through it. The sauce looks like quite a small amount and you would be forgiven for expecting it to be a 'hint of cherry' sort of flavour. Its not! It's CHERRY!! The fl
avour is strong without being too sweet or overpowering but it's certainly Very Cherry. Even the ice cream that does not have cherry marbling through it and looks like plain vanilla is flavoured. It is quite a natural sort of taste - obviously not as delicious as real cherries, it has a slightly marzipan undertone to it, but it certainly doesn't taste chemically. It's very pleasant. It smells quite chemically though which is a bit off putting but once you taste it all is forgiven! On top of it, looking rather forlorn I have to say, are 10 black cherries who look like they had gone to a fancy dress party as prunes! I ate them first rather than mixing them in, but to be honest the didn't really taste of anything - they would probably have been better chopped up and mixed in to add texture to the ice cream which is very smooth. This smoothness I found, made it an idea product to create McDonalds style 'thick shake' - it tastes delicious melted down ( I can pretend that I found this out because I was being imaginative, but truth be known it was in fact because I left it out of the freezer and it melted - nonetheless, a very happy accident.) Calorie wise, my tub was keeping quiet - clearly a sign that its full of calories and bad things, but I've said it before and I'll say it again - Its Ice Cream, its not a health food, its good for you in that indulgent 'making you feel happy' sort of way. Your waistline may suffer but if it makes you feel good, who cares, you can't have it all! It is apparently suitable for vegetarians as well. Carte D'or Ice Cream is available in a wide variety of flavours. It's not top of the range ice cream but it is very nice and a little more sophisticated than the Ben and Jerry's brigade. (If it were a Spice Girl it would be Victoria Beckham - not as posh as it would like to be, its adopted a name to make people THINK its posh but compare
d to the others its really quite sophisticated - certainly not as loud and in your face as Ben and Jerrys 'Geri Garcia'...sorry, I thought that was quite funny ? if you are not as big a fan of Cherry Ice Cream and the Spice Girls as I am then you might not and I can only apologise for myself!!) The 500g tubs retail at around £2.89 and are available from most supermarkets, although they are regularly on special offer so its worth keeping an eye out for that. To sum up - try this if you like cherries and ice cream - if you don't, don't bother!!
(Although this category is for the DD9001, the machine I am reviewing the DD9002 is just the updated model - the differences are the colour, and the updated model has 6 stage filteration instead of 5 and has 1300watts power instead of 1100watts.) My heart may belong to Mr. Dyson but it is a cause of constant vacuum cleaning woe to me that my purse strings are better suited to one of those push along floor sweepers. My beloved Dyson met its untimely and somewhat dusty demise some time ago now and my vacuuming needs have been met rather inadequately I might add, since then by a cheap and very nasty Sanyo cylinder vacuum. This week, the Sanyo finally met its demise as well and not a second too soon, with a rather unspectacular 'bang' and some smoke that smelled like party poppers. I took it back to the store and was told I could swap it for one of the same value or add to it and buy a more expensive machine. Again purse strings prevailed and the machine I ended up with was a Dirt Devil DD9002. Opinion on Dirt Devil vacuum cleaners seems to vary dramatically, it would seem people either love them or hate them (a bit like Marmite but with more suction power!) Dirt Devil 'Rascal' hand vacuuming units are well known and I've always found them really reliable, but I hadn't realised that Dirt Devil make full sized machines. Of course the old adage 'You get what you pay for' certainly comes into play here - this machine is no Dyson but for £78 you shouldn't be expecting Dyson quality and personally I love it. The two things I was looking for in a vacuum cleaner were that it was bagless and upright...oh and not made by Sanyo after my last vacuum cleaner experience. This little baby fits the bill on those counts but the question remains is it any good? SIZE MATTERS... The first thing to note about it is the size - it's pretty big and it's heavy. This might
be something to consider if you are buying it in store and need to lug it home. In fact to give you an idea of the box size, my friends little girl obviously going though an early Goth phase was rather taken by the fact she could climb in the box and has taken it home to use as a coffin (!) It's also very heavy to push around and takes some getting used to in terms of manouverability - this is not the right machine for you if you only have a small space. But you have to offset this disadvantage against the fact that you get excellent pick up from the brute and pushing it around is like a mini work out so you are saving money by not having to go to the gym. NOT JUST A PRETTY FACE... Although at the end of the day you buy a vacuum cleaner for its functionality, how it looks is of course important too. Putting it together is like a task on the Krypton factor - tubes and attachments everywhere, but the instructions are very clear and helpful. This is not a bad looking machine, its bright blue and looks like the slightly fatter, less cool brother of a Dyson. It has a clear plastic 'jug' for the dust so you can see when it needs emptying and marvel at how truly dirty and disgusting your home really is (Or maybe that?s just me?) The jug unclips really easily so emptying it is not a problem. It also has an indicator light to tell you when to empty it if you don't notice beforehand. Where there's something slightly sexy about a Dyson, this machine screams practicality - it's like the difference between a Ferrari and a Ford Escort really. It is however unlikely that you are ever going to need to use your Hoover to entice members of the opposite sex. SO LONG SUCKER... The suction power is really good and in fact quite scary as I discovered on its first outing when it somehow magically managed to suck up the tablecloth from quite a distance away. Unmagically however, unlike when conjurers do this t
rick, the glasses on the table didn't remain as the cloth was pulled from un der them - but of course the vacuum cleaner was on hand to hoover up the breakages. It is very powerful, even when using the hose attatchments. The downside to this is the fact that it's also very noisy. NOW FOR THE SCIENCE BIT? (Possibly not strictly scientific but the boring bit about filters at any rate) The machine is fitted with two filters that trap dust particles - one in the 'jug' and one on the back. They create the impressive sounding '6 stage filteration system.' The filters need cleaning every 6-9 months to ensure the machine works at the highest level of filteration. The unit comes with a free set of filter spares and a helpline number for obtaining spare parts. There is a lot of information about drive belts and other 'technical' bits in the manual but they are even more dull than the filter stuff so not worth recounting here. That's all there is to it really. It's a cheap and cheerful machine retailing at around £78. Mine came from Argos but they are widely available. The Dirt Devil DD9002 - it sucks!!
(I know this is not exactly in the right category but its quite specialised so I put in in the nearest catagory I could find) Considering I used to have a medical-type job, I'm not very good at looking after my health. Us hard Northerners don't do going to the doctor - hence the fact it took me 10 years to discover that I had an unpleasant little disease called Ulcerative Colitis. I'm somewhat of the opinion that my ailments will either go away or kill me and either way I'll be rid of them - not the attitude to take, I know. So I was as surprised as anyone to find myself sitting in a doctors waiting room yesterday that was filled with mad old women burping and breaking wind and muttering about the buses (and, in a classic moment of comedy worthy of 'Phoenix Nights' when my name was called, I overheard an old dear say 'Ooooh, I didn't realise she was a Perkins' (possibly due to my lack of tattoos declaring my name to the world?) 'Do you think she's related to the Perkins's' (how amazing astute, for I am indeed related to the Perkins's)) So now I'm going to tell you a story boys and girls about my very peculiar illness. Are you all sitting comfortably? Then, I'll begin... About 3 weeks ago I noticed a dry patch in the centre of my back - it was about the size of an egg (hens as opposed to something wee like a quails for those of you who like exactness and precision in your ops!) I assumed it was from an alarming sun bed frying I'd received a few days earlier and thought no more of it. A couple of days later I noticed two little spots around my rib cage - they looked like bites so I blasted them with a bit of cream and forgot about them...until they started to multiply! By last week my torso was splattered in a most unattractive manner with about 30 red splodges and I was starting to worry because every morning I was finding new little blighters - eac
h one starting as a small bite like spot and the splodging (that's a very technical medical word I'll have you know!) The infirmary I worked in when I was in France was a hotbed of nasty skin diseases so I'm pretty good at 'spotting' (ho, ho) various ailments. Having ruled out the obvious ones and scoured the Internet looking for anything that might help me identify my rash, I was at a loss - the rash was confined to my torso and it was definitely spreading, but it wasn't painful or itchy and I did not feel unwell. Still, the Internet is full of alarming diseases that it 'could be' or 'it looks a bit like' so I scared myself silly with the possibilities and my other half hoped ferverently that it was 'monkey pox' because it 'had a cool name.' (Fair point I suppose!) Eventually I admitted defeat and went to see my doctor. My doctor informed me that I had a virus called Pityriasis Rosea. The good news - its totally harmless and not contagious, the bad news - it takes about 6 to 8 weeks for the spots to run their course and there is no treatment to clear it up any faster. After this I expected some sympathy but my doctor told me that so far it seemed I had a very mild case and that I would probably feel rather off colour for a few weeks. He wrote down the name of the virus, told me to look it up and send me packing. Now I know I should have been grateful - it was nothing serious but the idea of looking like the surface of the moon dipped in Ribena for 8 weeks was rather too much to bear. When you look as horrible as I do at the moment, you don't want to hear its harmless - a virus with lots of letters in its name simply isn't good enough - no-ones going to bring me soup in bed and Lucozade for that now are they? It was all too much - I got back to the car and cried until my face went as red and blotchy as my body - still not a good look, but at least I was now
co-ordinating a little better. Eventually I calmed down and went home to look it up. So what exactly is Pityriasis Rosea? Welcome to the science bit... Pityriasis Rosea is a very common virus usually occurring in people aged 18-35. The cause of it is unknown - it starts with a large patch, normally on the back (the herald or mother patch) and develops into a rash usually of the torso, which very rarely spreads to the hands or face. It is completely harmless and not contagious and clears up within 8 weeks although the marks left by the blotches can take months to clear - in severe cases years. The rash usually follows the line of the rib cage and therefore is often identified by it 'Christmas tree' shape (in my case my ribcage was clearly obscured by the mounds of fat because my rash resembles an out of control privet hedge rather than a Christmas tree.) Suffers may feel tired and generally unwell and spots may itch. It is best to avoid strenuous exercise and jogging (hooray, finally a plus point!) and hot baths until the spots have cleared - itching can be treated with anti-histamine or hydacortizone cream. I could see from what I read why my doctor was so flippant about it - it really is just like having a bout of acne, it just looks a bit more dramatic. I wondered at first if it was so common why I'd never heard of it, or of anyone having it - but one look at my blotchy inflamed tummy told me why no-one had ever mentioned that they had had it. I haven't told anyone apart from my sister who squealed a lot, my other half who was gutted that it wasnt 'monkey pox'...oh and potentially thousands of other people on the Internet, but my point being its not something you bring up in polite conversation. It may not be a life threatening condition, but it isn't very nice and it's certainly scary when it starts. My rash is still spreading and I'm feeling thoroughly miserable
so anyone wishing to offer sympathy, Lucozade or soup please feel free...
I'm a Yorkshire lass and proud of it. Hence the fact, that my brew of choice is Yorkshire Tea, every time. However since I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis last year I've been on the lookout for products that can help with my condition without tasting absolutely vile, which is how I came to find out about Redbush Tea. Without getting too technical (or gross) about it, Ulcerative Colitis is an inflammation of the intestine and it isn't very pleasant. Certain things can aggravate it and caffeine is one of them. I cope pretty well with sticking to the dietary recommendations that I was given by the hospital, but one thing I can't cope without is a nice cuppa every now and again. Tea isn't completely banned on my list but it is restricted, not a real baddy, but best avoided where possible. I'd heard lots about Redbush tea, which is been hailed for its amazing health properties and when I found out that it was excellent for the gut and had anti - inflammatory properties, I decided to give it a try. I received a free sample of 2 tea bags along with some accompanying literature, which was really interesting. I was impressed by the fact that it came in tea bags. I know that's really lazy of me, but I'm not one for messing about with tea leaves and I know that if it had come loose I would never have got round to using it. (Although if you do prefer to make your tea from loose leaves you can buy it that way.) Redbush tea, the literature informed me is made from a South African herb. It contains no caffeine (this is natural, rather than decaf tea bags which have been through a process to decaffeinate them), additives, preservatives, calories (hooray!) or colourings. It can be used for a multitude of health problems and can even be used for babies to help with colic and restlessness. It can be used as a wash or bath for skin problems and a damp tea bag wiped over a baby's bottom is
apparently excellent for nappy rash The literature provided by Redbush is very thorough but takes some time to read through. It is all presented on their web site www.redbushtea.com, along with a contact for emailing them for advice on if their product will help with your particular condition. It's re-assuring to think that a tea company is quite this committed. So it all sounds like quite a miracle product, but importantly, what about the taste? This is where it all goes slightly pear shaped for me. The first cup I had, I followed the instructions, which are very simple, it's exactly like making a cup of tea (although they do have step by step instructions on their web site, if you don't know how to make a cup of tea.) The tea bag itself looks just like a normal square bag of black tea. When the tea is infusing, it doesn't smell a great deal different to black tea and it looks slightly reddish in colour but not dramatically. I poured milk into mine (deceived as I was by the appearance being so similar to black tea and the fact I'm not exactly an expert in the herbal tea field.) I started to drink it and it was so disgusting!! I couldn't believe quite how disgusting. It wasn't exactly perfumed but it certainly tasted nothing like tea!! I tried to force it down in the name of science and good health, but to no avail! Upon returning to the Redbush web site, I discovered my mistake. Although this tea can be taken with milk, they advise that it is sampled at first without to get used to the flavour. They suggest trying it with a slice of lemon. So not one to be deterred, I tried again. I?m not going to claim that with a slice of lemon it suddenly became delicious. I still don't really like it, but I made myself drink the second cup and it was much more palatable. It really is an acquired taste, and I can't see it ever replacing the humble cuppa in my life.
I've only had a few cups so far (I went out and bought a pack of 40 determined to persevere) so I can't really assess the health benefits fully, but I can say that after drinking a cup, the feeling of bloatedness after eating or drinking wasn't there, and when I had a particularly bad attack the other night, the cramping subsided after I had a cup (although this could just have been because my mind was taken off it by the horrible taste!) I don't think I will ever get used to the taste, but Redbush provide recipe leaflets to use it in cooking, like herbs, which may end up being the best way for me to benefit from it. As it becomes more of a high profile product, top chefs are being enlisted to provide recipes as well It can also be served iced with fruit juice, which is supposed to be delicious. The drink certainly is more refreshing than tea or coffee, so I can see it being quite popular in the summer. As word of Redbush spreads, its becoming more widely available. You can now buy it in all the major supermarkets, for about £1.80 for 40 tea bags and its also available in health food shops. The packaging is red, unsurprisingly, and very simple and no nonsense, simply stating what it is. It is defiantly worth trying it out, although of course nothing replaces proper medical care, a drink with such obvious health benefits can only be a good thing.
People buy new shampoos for all kinds of different reasons - price, change in condition of their hair, they like the smell or they just fancy trying a new product. My reason for buying my latest shampoo is somewhat more sad and pathetic than that - It was the same colour that I've just painted my bathroom and I thought it would look nice!! Yep, I'm really that sad. However, the product range that I bought - John Frieda's 'Beach Blonde' range is actually very good. There are several products in the range but the 3 I tried were the shampoo, conditioner and intensive conditioning treatment, so they are the three I will be referring to here. I've used celebrity hairdresser John Frieda's 'Sheer Blonde' range of shampoos on and off for several years now. It seems OK but I've never been that impressed with it, I just use it because I have blonde hair and my hairdresser recommended it. So I would never have bought the 'Beach Blonde' range were it not for the colour. It's green. The paint chart I used to pick the colour for my bathroom called it 'Watermelon'but it is a pale green. THE SHAMPOO The shampoo is called 'Cool Dip' (another thing I liked about this range is the names of the products - long gone are the days when a bottle of shampoo was just called shampoo) It is described as a 'refreshing shampoo' although lets be honest here, the refreshing bit is actually more likely to be the feel of water on your head not the shampoo. It wasn't until I got home that I actually read the bottle and discovered to my alarm that the product was described as 'minty-cool.' So it was with some trepidation that I took my first sniff of it - the idea of 'minty' shampoo wasn't appealing! I did not want to smell like I had A) Get chewing gum in my hair B) Washed my hair in toothpaste C) Been wearing a hat made of polos!!
But the minty smell is actually very pleasant. Its very mild - more like wearing a hat made from After Eight Mints than polos and the seaweed and aloe vera smell is more prominent than the mint - so a shampoo that smells like Grimsby Docks, cacti and After Eight Mints - yummy. I don't know why it works, but trust me it does. The bottle is clear and through it you can see the product is flecked with gold so it shimmers - the idea being that your hair shimmers too. I can't say I've noticed this, but it makes the product look pretty. But looks aren't everything - does it work. Yes, it does! The idea is that it washes away chlorine and 'summertime grime' from your hair and leaves sun frazzled hair looking better. Having not been on holiday this year I can't say if it works or not on beach battered hair (although if anyone wishes to pay for me to go on a beach holiday to test it out for them I would be more than happy to!) After using it, my hair felt really silky and clean. I only needed to wash with it once - normally I need to shampoo my hair twice. It felt really well moisturised which is a first. My hair is in such bad condition that normally I need to slap on the conditioner but after using this my hair felt very sleek. (Not that I'm advocating not using a conditioner of course, before all the hairdresser out there lynch me!) THE CONDITIONER You will be pleased to learn after my waxing lyrical about the shampoo that I have less to say about the conditioner. It works very well indeed, smells the same as the shampoo and is the same colour as my bathroom. It is called 'Smooth Sailing' and apparently 'unsnarls surfside snags.' So if you are a sufferer of those pesky 'surfside snags' this ones for you! (I would have thought a 'surfside snag' would have been getting down to the beach to discover you have forgotten your surfboard/wetsuit/f
ins/snorkelling gear (delete as appropriate) and I don't think that the conditioner will go and fetch them for you, so you would still have a surfside snag - but who am I to argue with the mighty advertising men?!) THE CONDITIONING TREATMENT The best thing about this product, for me was the name - Kelp Help. Any product with a rhyming name has to be a winner in my book! This product comes in a round tub rather than a bottle and is a 'deep conditioning masque' You apply it after shampoo instead of conditioner is your hair is particularly unhappy and its 'protein rich sea kelp formula' works its magic. It is very good. Unlike the other products it does not smell minty it simply smells like you dream the sea smells (of course it never does and I'm rather glad that this product is reminiscent of imaginary sea rather than the actual sea which, lets face it isn't always the most pleasant of smells.) You simply apply a thick layer of the 'masque' which looks rather like green rice pudding, then leave it to work for 10 minutes - for best results sit in the sun wearing it (or under a hair dryer if you don't happen to be lucky enough to be on a beach somewhere exotic!) It works really well, but I'd say it's not worth buying unless your hair is quite damaged. The conditioner works equally as well for hair in normal condition. Despite the name, Beach Blonde isn't just for blondes - any hair colour or type can use it. It isn't just for the summertime either although obviously the ad men are picking up on the summer mood to sell more units at the moment. It can be used by men or women because it doesn't smell girly - it's just a fresh clean smell. Its available at most supermarkets and drugstores - in Boots it retails at £4.29 for the shampoo and conditioner and £4.99 for the masque, but you don't need to use as much as with some shampoo ranges so
it lasts well and often Boots have it on 3 for 2 promotions. Other products in the range are mainly aimed at blonde hair or lightening hair. They include Lemon Lights, Gold Rush and Sun Streaks. I'm really impressed with it -I'd say it was one of the best shampoo ranges I've come across for a long time and I will definitely be buying it again, even if I paint my bathroom a different colour!
For his birthday last week my brother decided he wanted to go for a meal at Damon's Grill restaurant. It is unlikely you will have heard of Damon's unless you are American because although the chain boasts over 140 restaurants worldwide there only 3 in the UK - in Liverpool, Sheffield and Lincoln and there are a couple of random ones scattered about in other countries as well. Although Damon's has been around in the US since 1979 it shows no signs of expanding its 'worldwide' operation, so Scousers, Northern Monkeys and people from Panama, this ones for you? The branch I visited was the one in Lincoln, which from the outside looks very nice - I hesitate to say 'classy' because that's not the sort of word that best describes a building who's roof is fashioned to look like barbeque ribs. Nonetheless it looks quite impressive -until you get inside. Inside the restaurant the most charitable I could be would be to say that I could see what they were trying to do - with Marilyn Monroe and James Dean posters on the walls the effect was meant to be 'American Diner' but it didn't quite work. In fact it was more 'Sports and Social Club' bearing quite an alarming resemblance to the Phoenix Club from 'Phoenix Nights.' (The 2 bouncers on the door just accentuate the 'Phoenix Nights' look - I couldn't quite work out the need for bouncers - maybe the good folk of Lincoln get rowdy in American style diners?) This effect was made complete when a 'live musician' started churning out easy listening tunes on a bontempi organ!! It was like being trapped in a lift!! Luckily this didn't go on all night - just as I was losing the will to live we were treated to the much more acceptable 'Sounds of the 60's' The most irritating thing about this dining experience is the fact that you are called up to your table by someone yelling over a tanoy 'Tab
le of 5 for Perkins' (or whatever your name may be.) This in principle seems like quite a good idea but because it's such a busy restaurant (you do need to pre-book - we went on a weeknight at 7pm and it was packed and it remained packed all night) it becomes really annoying very quickly as the tanoy is in use ever 10 minutes or so. But of course the décor and set up is really incidental - the important bit of any restaurant visit is the food and this is where Damon's comes into its own (providing you aren't a vegetarian or on a diet!) After you place your order complimentary warm bread rolls and butter are brought to your table and quite perplexingly you are offered coleslaw or apple sauce to accompany your meal (I say perplexingly because I ordered fish and unless I'm very much mistaken fish and apple sauce are not traditionally served together.) The menu is quite extensive on the 'American diner' theme - ribs, grills, burgers, fajitas and seafood. I did spot a sneaky veggie burger nestled in there but that was the only vegetarian option. The food was excellent - large portions (except for the soup which turned up in something not much bigger than an egg cup!) nicely presented and good value for money. My sister and I tried as many of the fantastic creations from the cocktail menu as we could without being sick - and being the lightweight that I am, my favourite was actually non-alcoholic but it was bright pink and had so many tacky trimmings I couldn't not love it! The waitress was pleasant and attentive without being false - she really didn't care if we enjoyed our meal and so she never asked which in my book is far better than waiting staff who ask you because they have to and make you feel like you have to say that the meal is wonderful even if its actually pond slime! The gimmick at Damon's is that the 'birthday person' on production of ID showing their d
ate of birth gets their meal for free as well as a complimentary chocolate cake. This makes the final bill very reasonable - for 5 of us including 2 courses and including drinks and cocktails the bill came to £74. We also had the joy of thoroughly embarrassing my brother by singing 'Happy Birthday' to my morified brother (there seemed to be lots of birthdays happening because rousing refrains of 'Happy Birthday' kept puncturing the dulcet sounds of 'Bontempi Man' all night.) This made for a very upbeat 'party' atmosphere, that was nice, but not recommended if you are looking for an intimate and quiet dining experience. It gets very noisy. I really enjoyed it at Damon's but my boyfriend hated it - he thought that the food was greasy and unappetising and the place in general was horrible. But then he's a sensible and somewhat miserable vegetarian whereas I am a meat-eating lover of all things tacky and glitzy. That appears to be the easiest way of telling if you will like a meal at Damon's - it's a tack lovers dream!!
Having read through the other opinions posted about Pets at Home, I can see that people are very satisfied with the store in general and therefore I am hopeful that the incidents I have experienced of poor customer service are just isolated cases. I can see for myself that Pets at Home cares for the animals on sale in its store very well, which is why it is unfortunate that I have to bring up a few faux pas (or possibly fur paws-sorry, I know that was totally unnecessary but this is going to be a fairly serious op so I wanted to get it out of my system early.) that have left me without the new guinea pig I had intended to buy this week, but with a sickly guinea pig and some recently abandoned hamsters that I hadn't really bargained for... Before I continue I want to make it clear that my concerns are with customer service I have received at an isolated store and I am not making judgements about the chain in general, for which I have only praise. 'Pets at Home' is a chain of pet superstores that are usually found on retail parks simply because of how large they are. They are much like your local branch of Tesco's for pets - brightly lit with wide aisles and shelves of products for animals of all shapes and sizes. Both stores I have visited (Lincoln, Tritton Road and Rotherham Parkgate) have been clean and inviting and well stocked. Store opening hours are extensive (usually branches are open until 8pm weeknights which makes them very accessible) As well as selling food and accessories for pets, the stores also stock an extensive range of books, care guides and free information leaflets for a wide variety of animals and 'pet themed gifts' - mugs, calendars and writing paper etc. They also stock small pets (rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, hamsters, gerbils etc), chinchillas, fish and birds. They do not stock dogs or cats. The pets are kept in spacious and very clean cages and the rabbits and guinea pigs live
together in large runs wit h hutches inside called 'Bunny Villages' where they have plenty of toys to play with to alleviate boredom. Despite the fact that guinea pigs can be smelly little critters (a fact that I have learned the hard way!) the store never smells anything but fresh and clean. 'Pets at Home' also offer pet insurance for dogs, cats, horses and rabbits and a dog tag printing service (which appears to be used more by kids printing up dog tags to wear themselves than it does by pet owners!) On the whole, the mark-up on products does seem slightly high but the convenience of being able to buy everything you might need from under one roof and well-trained, knowledgeable staff goes some way towards outweighing that. The store also has a web site that is packet with useful information about pets and their health (www.petsathome.com) Both of my guinea pigs, Olga da Polga and Parsley Pig da Polga came from a 'Pets at Home' store and I have always bought their food, hay and bedding materials from my local branch. However, although the pets may feel at home with the service provided (dogs are permitted in store which I think is a lovely touch - I don't know if guinea pigs are - maybe you could bring them and leave them in an offshoot of ?Bunny Village? like the crèche facilities shopping centres offer!!) but on occasion I certainly haven't. I purchased a bag of own brand hay from the store that was very dusty and made both Olga and myself sneeze. I contacted Customer Services, who were very friendly and advised me to take it back to the store for an exchange. However the store refused to take it back, because I had opened it and was really quite rude to me. I was surprised because generally the staff seems to be very friendly and polite. Had this been an isolated incident I might have forgotten it but it wasn't. I went to buy a Guinea Pig from my local bra
nch as an addition to the ever-growing da Polga clan (this one was to be called Alfalfa da Polga) I queried with the assistant as to the sex of the guinea pig just because guinea pigs are very prolific breeders and I'm not keen on having the da Polga clan growing at a rate that is out of my control and the reaction from the member of staff was a quite alarming "Yes of course I'm sure it's a male - that's what you asked for didn't you? Now do you want it or not?" With a resounding 'Not!" I left the store! Today I took Parsley to the vets because I was concerned about his wheezing and the vet told me that Parsley should never have been sold to me because he has lots of problems that are going to be expensive to put right and he has had them since birth. Now I don't mind paying whatever I need to in order to ensure Parsley is well and happy, but as 'Pets at Home' make a big deal about how they thoroughly check the health of all pets before selling them I am somewhat annoyed that Parsley's illness got somehow overlooked. The final point that has left me somewhat disillusioned with 'Pets at Home' is the fact that throughout the year they have been selling hamsters to students at the University living in the Halls of Residence just across the road. Although I appreciate it must be hard to tell an irresponsible pet owner from a responsible one I have been in the store when staff have sold small animals to groups of young people before and as the words 'student' and 'responsible' don't often sit well together (except when describing me of course!) perhaps that should be a clue... I'm not sure what 'Pets at Home's' policy is on selling animals - I have asked them about it in the letter I'm putting together outlining the issues I mention here - but the upshot of whatever their policy may be has meant that now the students are going home for
the summer, some have nowhere to leave their new pets - to date I've rescued 3 hamsters. Whatever their policy is, its not working. I feel saddened that I cannot be more positive about the store, which for the most part is excellent and well worth a visit for pet owners, but my own experiences have left me unable to fully recommend it.
I think you only realise the true power of books when you read one that has such an effect on you that you feel like a part of you is missing when you finally finish it. Not 'unputdownable' as such (I hate that word but I'm at a loss for a better one so it will have to do) but a book where the characters really mean something to you and you actually care about what happens to them, where when the narrator stops talking you feel disappointed because there was so much more you wanted to know. 'Behind the Scenes at the Museum' by Kate Atkinson was for me one of those books. (Sorry if you found that intro a bit much - but I am an English student you have to expect it of me occasionally) 'Behind the Scenes at the Museum' was on my reading list for last Semester and I have to confess I avoided reading it for two incredibly pathetic reasons - 1. The front cover looked a bit strange and I found it a bit off putting 2. I didn't like the sound of the title. See, I warned you they were pathetic, how many times do you hear the phrase 'Never judge a book by its cover'? I will in future take heed!! However when I finally got round to reading it I quickly realised the error of my ways. I've heard people comment that it's the sort of book that takes some getting into but it is worth perservering with, but I found it grabbed me from the very first page. Ruby Lennox is the narrator in 'Behind the Scenes at the Museum', telling the story of her family from the end of the 19th century to the early 1990's. This is done through a clever use of narrative technique, which gives the novel its individuality without making it pretentious or difficult to read. The linear story of 'The Family' is broken up by chapters inserted as 'footnotes' which link the families complicated history, but this jumping from past to present and back again never seems out of place. Ruby
even makes comments on future events that have not yet occurred in the narrative, but again this does not seem forced and does not detract from the story in any way. Ruby is a wonderful narrator and the story is so successful because it is impossible not to warm to her. I felt like I knew her. It is a very funny novel, not 'laugh-out-loud don't read it on the train unless you want to look like a chuckling maniac' funny, but subtle and very clever. The story starts at Ruby's conception in 1951 with the line 'I exist!' Ruby recalls her life from its very start inside her mother's womb and this is a fascinating way to start a story. Seeing Ruby's mother, Bunty and her father George and her two sisters Gillian and Patricia from Ruby's eye view is sometimes poignant, often hilarious and always very entertaining. It is set for the main part in and around York where Atkinson was born and if you know the area half the fun is identifying the places in the story - most of which are genuine York landmarks described in fantastic detail. The only slight criticism I could find of the book is the way that all the lose ends are tied up so neatly in the concluding chapter - some of them would have been fine left untied. I appreciate that some people like everything explained at the end of a novel, but for me it was all a little too neat - some of the realism and honesty of the story was forfeited for the tidy ending. This was Atkinson's first novel, it was a resounding success and rightly so. It was received with critical acclaim and won the 1995 Whitbread Book Of The Year. Critics who actually know what they are talking about (as apposed to me, who didn?t like the pictures on the front cover) described the book as 'packed with images of bewitching potency' and as having 'unsettling complexity of vision.' I couldn't have said it better myself, which is why I didn't, I jus
t 'borrowed' other peoples quotes. But that's the thing isn't it. When you read a book that you really enjoy its impossible to say why, this review very nearly simply said 'Just read it, alright, then you will see why I'm recommending it!' But of course that wouldn't have met the word count. I have read 2 of Atkinson's other books, 'Human Croquet' and 'Emotionally Weird' since because I enjoyed this novel so much (for the record I wasn't keen on the titles or the front cover of them, either) and they both confirm that Atkinson is truly an excellent writer. However neither of them grabbed me in quite the way that ?Behind The Scenes at the Museum? did. I didn't find either of them as engaging and easy to read (that's not to say easy to read in a 'Topsy and Tim' sort of way, some of the language is quite complex in 'Behind the Scenes' and the word play, which I loved, is very much in evidence throughout.) This is definitely a great book for Summer reading, so off you pop to Ottakars, before you forget! (And I have just noticed that the cover illustration that put me off in the first place was done by someone called Sarah Perkins so I'm going to pretend I liked it all along now just to show my support for a fellow Perkins - we Perkins' are a talented bunch you know!!) ISBN 0552996181 Black Swan Publishers Price £7.99
Up until last week I was a virgin - a Ben and Jerry's virgin that is! Although I'd read loads about how fabulous Ben and Jerry's ice cream was I faithful to my first love Bailey's Hagen Daaz. But I have strayed. And it was so marvellous that I don't even feel guilty (except about the horrific calorific content, of course!!) Ben and Jerry's, for those of you, like myself who are new to the novelty ice cream market was founded in 1978 by two friends (Ben and Jerry surprisingly enough!) in Vermont. Since it was founded it has gone on to create exciting flavoured ice creams with weird names by the bucket load - according to the website the current number one flavour is Cherry Garcia - the only ice cream ever to be named after a member of the Grateful Dead (I'm guessing here, correct me if I'm wrong!) But onto the important bit... The ice cream! Ben and Jerry's ice cream comes in 500ml cardboard tubs. The lid fits back on so you don't have to eat the whole thing in one sitting - in fact I defy you to be able to! The tub is fairly simple - it declares itself to be 'Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia' and has pictures of chocolate and cherries on it, in case you happened to be in any doubt! The back of the tub gives you a bit of background info about the product - it was created in 1987 and named after Jerry Garcia who (according to the Dutch information panel) was a 'legendarische hippie rock gitarist.' Sadly the English information panel offers no such insight!! The ice cream itself is a not very attractive Germalene sort of colour but don't let that put you off. It doesn't taste like Germalene, has no antiseptic properties whatsoever and unlike Germelene is packed with loads of chunks of chocolate and cherries. When you first get it out of the freezer it needs to stand for about 20 minutes unless you want to break your teeth and/or the spoon, but
if you can't be that patient (and I will admit its difficult because it smells delicious) it starts getting soft round the edges quite quickly at room temperature. It tastes (unsurprisingly) very cherry. But it isn't a synthetic cherry flavour and it isn't too sweet. The ice cream texture is really creamy but the little chocolate chip bits (the French call them pepites which I think is a marvellous word - I think every language should have a dedicated word for chocolate chip bits!) make it more interesting. However nestled in the ice cream there are whole cherries and chunks - yes chunks of dark chocolate. These chocolate chunks are in some cases nearly as big as the spoon but they are thin so you aren't overpowered by the taste of dark chocolate. These huge chocolate pieces are abundant as are the whole cherries that are mixed into it (real cherries not bits of rubber dipped in red food colouring and cherry flavouring like in some 'cherry' products.) The problem (yes there is one!) is just how sick it makes you feel. Its quite moreish and you don't realise until you have eaten half a tub that you want to throw up! Simple answer to that is don't eat half a tub in one sitting, but it really is hard to put down. It's made with double cream so it isn't exactly a dieters delight, but there is lack of any nutritional information on the tub (although I think that the Dutch for 'legendry hippy rock guitarist' is more than enough useful information for one product!) obviously means its ridiculously high and they don?t want you to know!! Well that's fine because I don't really want to know - ice cream is not mean to be diet food, its meant to be fun! There is however a low fat alternative 'Low Fat Frozen Yoghurt Cherry Garcia' so all is not lost for dieters who want to learn some essential Dutch phrases!! As with all products of this type Ben and Jerry's
is not cheap. It retails at between £3.50 and £3.99 a tub, however quite often supermarkets have promotions so it's worth looking out for. There are also Ben and Jerry's 'Scoop Shops' up and down the country mostly in cinemas. So there you have it - buy this product if you like black forest gateau and want to learn Dutch. Avoid this product if you don't like ice cream!!
Once upon a time I was an Avon Lady. I only really did it so I could say 'Ding Dong Avon Calling' but as I never actually got to and I didn't like the job it was all a bit of a dead loss really and I abandoned it pretty quickly! The result though is that I'm a sucker for Avon / Kleezeze / Betterware. I always feel so sorry for the poor souls with the catalogues that I end up ordering something. When the Avon girl came round recently of course I had to order something - and armed with the resigned thought of 'Oh well, it'll give me something to write an opinion on' (how sad is that!!) I bought a bottle of Avon Virtual Lift Serum. This product is a facial serum, which is designed to do exactly what it says on the tin and give the skin on your face a virtual lift. How much my skin needed a virtual lift was debatable. What a 'virtual' lift actually is was quite intriguing as well. A facelift in a bottle? Unlikely, but worth a try! When I received my Virtual Lift Serum I was rather disappointed. It comes in a tall thin plain white box and it looks incredibly boring. I think it's meant to look classy, but frankly it fails dismally! The bottle inside the box isn't much better. It's a 50ml plastic bottle with a grey plastic none aerosol pump. Frankly, uninspiring. I buy a lot of things because the look good on the shelves - especially my toiletries. I don't know why, I just like fancy packaging and I've ended up with a bathroom that would rival Boots because of it. Had this been on the shelf in a shop rather than in the Avon catalogue, I would never have looked twice at it. The bottle doesn't have a great deal of information on it. Just that it is an instant results serum. Obviously the strong, silent type that doesn't feel the need to brag! There is an impressive looking instruction leaflet in the box, but upon closer inspection it doesn't say mu
ch more than 'Instant Results Serum' in lots of languages. The information logos on the bottle are quite intriguing - the PE one I recognise refers to the plastic, but the other two are a mystery. One is a couple of swirly arrows and the other is what appears to be a hand gesturing rudely at a book Whatever information they were trying to impart has been totally lost on me so hopefully it wasn't vital! But onto the product itself - does it work? Or does it make you gesture wildly at passing books if you apply it incorrectly? Actually, it works! You only need a couple of pumps of the serum because it is quite runny, so a little spreads a long way. It smells rather non-descript, not exactly unpleasant, just ordinary, maybe a little chemically. When you rub it in, it just feels very sticky and you are left with a plastic looking shiny face. It doesn't look exactly attractive. But after a few minutes it actually starts to work and if you are easily amused like me, its quite exciting. The product disappears into the skin and on the bits that need a bit of firming, you can actually feel it working. In my case the area under my eyes and around my mouth started to tingle so that must be where I needed a lift. Avoid applying it directly to the eye area. The first time I used it I accidentally manage to glue my eyelid up because I hadn't read the instructions. It may have looked very amusing but it isn?t highly recommended. Even the skin that is not tingling from the firming effect feels very smooth. It doesn't claim to be a moisturiser but it does definitely have some moisturising properties. Within a few minutes you get used to the 'tight' feeling and then you can proceed with applying make up or not applying make up if, like me you can't be bothered! It does make an excellent base for make up and it doesn't make the skin any oilier. You can
apply the serum in the morning and it seems to last all day, or apply it before you go out at night. It isn't re commended you apply it before going to sleep, because it has no long lasting benefits. It's just a temporary firmness that would have gone by the time you wake up. It isn't a miracle worker (sorry, cosmetic products will not change your life!) You won't look like you have had a face lift from using this, but at £8 a bottle it was never going to be the none surgical answer to anti ageing. It is more likely to just make you look a little less tired, especially around the eyes Basically this product just glues your wrinkly bits up for a few hours, but it isn't expensive and it works so it's defiantly worth giving it a go. If you haven't got an Avon rep, don't try this at home with Copydex - its unlikely to be successful and you will be left smelling like fish! Instead you can order it online at www.avon.uk.com. Although it usually retails at £8 it is regularly on offer, I got mine for half price for example. And despite having used it for several weeks now, I'm pleased to report that I still haven't found myself flagging the shelves at Ottakers...
Anyone familiar with my regular musings about soap and body lotion may be rather alarmed that I have ventured into such 'grown up' territory and be more than a little concerned about trusting my word on all matters financial. Well, to be honest I wouldn't trust my word on anything of such importance either so I'm not going to pretend I've developed financial advisor credentials overnight. I'm going to tell you about the service I received from Marks and Spencer Financial Services purely from a customer point of view. Any financial whiz kids out there please feel free to abandon this op in favour of one with a little more product knowledge. I won't be offended... About 18 months ago I moved back to the UK having spent some time living in France and found myself in a tricky situation financially. It was entirely my own fault and I should have seen it coming but I didn't (too much wine and croissants clouding my judgement!) Problem was this financial situation needed sorting out quickly and I didn't know what to do. The idea of getting a loan seemed ridiculous and rather scary. I've never had anything like it before and as I mentioned as far as financial services go, I haven't a clue. I have a current account and a savings account and a couple of store cards but I don't manage then with any skill, just rather haphazardly (any financial whiz kids who haven't gone off in search of a more knowledgeable op are no doubt wincing at the thought of my lack of money sense, but I'm quite sure I'm not the only person who gets bamboozled by the massive variety of financial products currently on the market.) I don't own my own home and I didn't really want to go to my bank (they scare me!) so I set about looking on the Internet for some advice. I didn't even realise that Marks and Spencer offered a Financial Services section - I knew they offered a store card
but then so do Dorothy Perkins and you can't ask them for a loan! (Well, I suppose you could ask, but I doubt the answer would be a resounding yes!) When I found the Financial Services section on the Marks and Spencers web site, I was reassured by how clearly explained everything was and by how easy to navigate round it was. I liked the fact that I could arrange a loan from the comfort of my own home without having to even speak to anyone. But I was still a little put off by the very fact that it was Marks and Spencers. They do great knickers, granted but is that necessarily a top criteria for being a good loans provider? I spent a little more time looking round their web site and found that they offered a diverse range of financial services, not just loans. They offer Store Card facilities, travel money, investments, life assurance, insurance and pensions. The loans section allowed me to work out how much I could afford to borrow and what would be the best loan for my circumstances. I decided to apply and received an instant decision (the man from Del Monte he say yes!!) but I was informed that I still had time to change my mind - I hadn't signed my life away to some big unmanageable proposition. The repayment amounts were very manageable and the APR was good (apparently - like I say these things don't mean very much to me.) It's changed of course since I took out my loan, but its still one of the most competitive on the market. And that was it. It was as simple as that. I signed my paperwork and a couple of days later the money was transferred into my account. I set up a Direct Debit and every month my repayment is taken out without me having to worry about remembering to pay it. But the best thing about Marks and Spencer finance is the fact that they have never bothered me. I've never received phone calls or letter offering me other services. It's great not to be
hassled. I bank with Natwest and they are forever phoning me up trying to push extra services on me so this makes a welcome change. If I have a problem I'm more than capable of ringing to sort it out - I don't see how ringing me up all the time to check I'm a happy bunny constitutes good customer service. In fact it makes me an unhappy bunny!! So full marks to Marks for that! As for the customer service aspect, this is where they excel and it is my main reason for writing this op. I have always had 100% customer focused service in all of my dealings with them. When I ring up with a query the staff actually sound like people, ready and happy to help. It makes a lovely change from bored call centre robots. I never get the feeling that on the other end they are reading from a script whilst filing their nails or picking their nose. Email contact provides equally high levels of customer service - I have always had a reply within 10 minutes of sending emails to them and not just the cut and paste 'thank you for your enquiry' emails that everyone gets - responses tailored to your specific query. Whenever I have had to contact them, I have been fully satisfied that my query has been dealt with properly and professionally. When I applied for the loan I hadn't planned on leaving my job to go to University and obviously I was really worried about how I would make the repayments every month, but on contacting them to discuss my circumstances I found them to be helpful and supportive. I have just one payment left to make on my loan and I can honestly say I can think of no bad points to my dealings with Marks and Spencer finance. Although I hope to never find myself needing their help again (I've laid off the red wine and croissants now so any further financial disasters should hopefully be avoided) I wouldn't hesitate to use them again and I don't hesitate in recommending their services to any
one on the look out for a loan, especially if like me you want the simplest possible deal and are somewhat bank phobic! You can find their web site at www.marksandspencer.com or some stores have leaflets available with the range of their services.
The time has come to show my student credentials to the full and write an op about the legendary POT NOODLE - staple diet of all students. I'm not a massive fan of Pot Noodles and as I actually know how to work a cooker I don't have much call for them. However the other night feeling tired and skint I bought myself a Pot Noodle on a whim from Morrisons because they were on special offer at 49p. This was no ordinary Pot Noodle; this was the new bacon flavour one - The Sizzler. Having tried the new 'Posh Noodle' range of Pot Noodles and found them to be really unpleasant (obviously they are just too Posh for the likes of me), my expectations for The Sizzler were not very high. Now I'm not going to give you a potted history (ho, ho, I am on form today!) of Golden Wonder Pot Noodles. There have been plenty of ops written about them before if you are really interested. People who don't know what they are have blatantly come from another planet anyway and therefore wouldn't have the digestive systems to cope with the culinary delight that is Pot Noodle (and to be honest, people from this planet haven't either.) Pot Noodles are noodles in a pot - they do exactly what it says on the tin, which is always nice and they generally taste atrocious. Bacon Flavour Pot Noodles are slightly better that other flavours, in that they don't leave the disgusting after taste you get with 'classic' flavours but other than that, they are still pretty dodgy. Pot Noodle - The Sizzler comes in a burgundy coloured pot. When you lift the lid the smell that hits you screams BACON! Not real bacon, but that artificial bacon smell that is used in bacon crisps. You make a Pot Noodle by pouring boiling water over the lump of dry noodles and scary looking bits (allegedly Soya pieces) inside the pot, up to a designated fill line. You don't really have to be a domestic goddess to master this
one! The smell of The Sizzler is incredibly strong when the water hits it and it lingers forever. When it's made up, it's not the most appetising looking meal. The unidentified green bits that you normally find in Pot Noodles are absent in this flavour and the bacon flavour sauce looks positively radioactive! The noodles and Soya pieces look really washed out and forlorn bobbing about in a sea of bacon flavoured goo. The best bit about Pot Noodle - The Sizzler is the little sauce packet you get inside the pot to try and inject a bit of flavour into it. In this case it's a tomato sauce sachet but the reason I say it's the best bit is the fact that the packet is designed to look like a tabloid newspaper front page with the headline 'Red Sauce Horse Divorce.' I know I'm sad, but this made me laugh for ages!! I bet that little packet is the highlight of some advertising executive at Golden Wonder's career. But, the important question is of course, what does it taste like? Exactly like Walkers Bacon Crisps. It starts off quite mild but eventually the bacon flavour sneaks up on you and leaves your mouth feeling positively vile! As Pot Noodles go, it isn't bad, you can?t expect gourmet food for 49p lets face it. If you don't like bacon crisps you'll hate it, if you do, you will most likely like it, it's as simple as that! It does taste better with the little tomato sauce sachet added. The noodles are thicker that normal packet noodles and it?s been said before, but it does feel rather like eating rubber bands (not that I make a habit of eating rubber bands - only on special occasions!!) Nutritionally this isn't the greatest thing you can eat, but then convenience foods rarely are. Although it contains no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives and it claims to be a 'source of fibre' (but then so is eating bran and that's not high in the ta
ste department either!) doesn't hold itself up as a health food. Calorie wise, each pot contains 348 calorie s and it has 14.8g of fat. I'm not going to bore you by reeling off the list of information on the nutritional table, suffice to say its not the healthiest of snacks. Normally Pot Noodles are suitable for vegetarians but this one doesn't make it clear if it is or not. I can't see this flavour becoming a classic like Beef and Tomato or the legendary Chicken and Mushroom flavours so if you really feel the need to try it, I'd get one now - although it doesn't say Limited Edition on it, I think it won't be too long before it disappears. Pot Noodles are available from supermarkets and general stores everywhere and usually retail at around 60p-70p. It's quick and easy and of course there's no washing up which is always a winner in my book! But remember people, they're NOT POODLES!
Everyone wishes that they had someone else's hair, but I have the sort of hair that no one would ever wish for! It's really thin, optimistically referred to as 'baby fine' by my hairdresser although even a baby would complain if they were lumbered with it. Its always seems flat and lank and it just won't grow. Of course I've made it worse over the years by committing heinous acts of hair abuse on it with a bleach bottle. Of course even that's Mother Natures fault. If she?d given me the fabulous hair I deserve I wouldn't have abused it, but as a result of being bleached to within an inch of its life, my hair gets frizzy and very rarely shines. So I've spent the whole of my life looking for a miracle hair care product and I had given up all hope of ever finding one...until now! I've used the John Frieda 'Sheer Blonde' range of shampoo and conditioner for a while, more out of habit than anything - they are neither fabulously good or fabulously bad so I stuck with them, better the devil you know and all that. The range comes on 3 for 2 in Boots quite often and normally I buy 2 bottles of shampoo and a conditioner but I was felling adventurous so I which is how I ended up with a little silver tin of gunk!! John Frieda 'Spotlight' is described as a hi-beam glosser and power detangler. I'm not sure what a hi-beam glosser is, but it sounds very impressive. It comes in a metallic silver/gold tin and although it only contains 75ml you only need a really small amount, so it lasts and lasts. You use it after shampoo and conditioner as a final finish on either freshly washed or blow dried hair. The product makes plenty of bold claims - the thing is it lives up to them! It claims to 'illuminate blonde with a crystal-clear layer of shimmery shine' - translation: it's a thick clear gel that you apply (sparingly) to blonde hair (natural, highlighted or blasted to
within an inch of its life like mine!) and it smoothes down the hair so it lies flat and reflects the light. It also claims 'ultra-light formula leaves hair sleek, tangle-free, easy to comb.' Translation - it's not sticky. You can use it on wet hair to smooth it out and untangle it (It is actually very good at this.) You can use it on dry or damp hair depending on the result you are looking for. Final claim - 'gives a hi-gloss, hi-glam finish to dried hair.' Translation - if you apply too much you look like you've washed your hair in chip fat! It really is an excellent product but you really only need the tiniest amount otherwise you end up with lank greasy hair and if you put too much on, it's really difficult to wash out. Not being one to particularly heeds instructions, I of course applied LOADS the first time I tried it (less is never more in my book!) and the result was the most horrible greasy mess. It comes in a pump dispenser and you need one pump for short hair and a couple for longer hair. I always apply it at the ends of my hair first and work it up because applying it from the roots is just another recipe for horrible greasy hair! Its suitable for any hair type, you just use more if your hair is thicker. On really fine hair like mike, its fine and it doesn't weigh it down. It doesn't make it look any thicker but it does look healthier which detracts from the fineness a bit. Although its part of the Sheer Blonde range and marketed at blondes my dark haired friends all use it now because it's better than glossers formulated for their hair colour and it makes their hair look great! (Same rules apply - less is more! In the case of brunettes even more so because too much can really make dark hair lank.) My only real gripe with the product is the lack of smell. When your hair is flat and shiny you want to waft it around like you were in a Timotei ad (or is that just me
...) and when you are flicking your hair, you want to be enveloped in a cloud of delicious fragrance (again, maybe just me...) but this product doesn?t smell delicious, in fact its just none descript which is a real shame especially if you use it in conjunction with the Sheer Blonde shampoo from the same range which smells a bit odd. Use it with a fabulous smelling shampoo would be my tip! It also doubles up as a hand cream because when you use it, it leaves your hands feeling really soft and silky smooth. You wouldn?t need to use a separate hand cream if you were using this every day. John Frieda 'Spotlight' retails at £4.99, but it does last for ages. It is also regularly on offer in both Boots and Superdrug. You can also buy it in supermarkets. It's well worth a try whatever your hair type. Go on, have your moment in the Spotlight...
At my age I would have thought greasy skin might have been a thing of the past, but on the contrary it actually seems to be getting worse. I get really wound up with people saying I'm lucky having oil slick skin because I won't wrinkle as quickly - its always people who don?t look like they have chip pan facials that say things like that? And to make matters worse my skin type is the dreaded 'combination' skin - it doesn't know if it wants to be dry and wrinkly or oily and spotty, a bit like having hair with greasy roots and dry ends (I've got that too, but thats self inflicted from too much hair abuse!) I will admit I wasn?t looking for a new moisturiser, I've all but given up on beauty products that aren?t in wipe form but I think I've found a pretty good one - and totally by accident as well. I bought Garnier Synergie Sebum Control Moisturiser from Boots because if I bought the moisturiser I got the cleansing wipes for free. Fuzzy logic I know, why not just buy the wipes - I guess I'm just a sucker for that little word FREE (which is why I have a house full of things I neither want or need.) The Sebum Control moisturiser is part of the Garnier Synergie Pure range, which has been around for quite a while but has recently received a bit of a re-vamp and is being aggressively marketed - hence the offer in Boots. I wasn't really sure what sebum was - it sounded quite unpleasant and if Garnier think it needs controlling then who am I to argue. Intense research (it doesn't say on the packaging what sebum is so I had to look it up, making it intense research rather than just bog standard research!) revealed that sebum is 'the oily secretion of the sebaceous glands that acts as a lubricant for hair and skin.' Garnier was right then, I certainly need to be controlling my oily secretions! Question is will this moisturiser do the job... The simple answer is yes! On the back of the box is a list of Frequently Asked Questions so if you are unsure that the product is right for your skin type you can check. It states clearly that its for oily or combination skin or skin that shines in a bad way or has blocked pores. It works (according to the sales pitch on the box) by controlling oil production and absorbing excess oils through a 'unique formula' (aren't they always!!) of white clay and zinc. I must confess that the thought of applying clay to my face is a bit daunting but Garnier are the experts... On the front of the box is a circle with a green leave close up on it. I think its supposed to represent how natural the product is but because it shows all the veins on the leaf it just made me think about the skin around my eyes and made me feel really depressed. Quick tip Garnier; take the leaf off the box! The moisturiser itself comes in a 75ml plastic tube, which may not look flash but is certainly more practical than those moisturisers that come in glass pump dispensers. The tube itself has a matt finish, which I thought was a nice touch - everything about this product screams NONE GREASY! The product itself is as expected none greasy. Its more of a gel consistency that a cream and is a refreshing pale blue in colour. It smells of cucumber which is odd because it doesn't have cucumber in the ingredients, but as the ingredients list is largely indecipherable (spiraea ulmaria anyone?) I can't be exactly sure what?s in it! It applies really easily and dries quickly leaving the skin feeling very strange. It tightens slightly, not uncomfortably and actually feels mattified. I can?t think of any other way to describe it. It's probably how people with dry skin feel all the time but to us greasy people it's a revelation. I only applied it to my forehead nose and chin because the rest of my face doesn't need it but the results were amazing
. It actually works!! Now heres the snag - apply too much and you look very ill in deed. Your skin goes grey and because there is no shine to it you just look ghostly (definitely one to apply in excess at Halloween!) It takes a couple of practice runs to get the exact amount right but once you have worked it out its great. It makes a really good base for make up because you are working on a blank canvas (if you want to get all arty about it!) so foundation stays put much better. I must be very greasy indeed because I noticed it doesn't last all day with me. It says to apply morning and evening but I was starting to shine about 3 o'clock (and its not like I exactly break a sweat during the day, I?m a student after all!) The way I found to combat this was to apply in the morning and mix a bit in with my foundation! Voila! All day mattification! (Is that actually a word? I hope not, but as mattified is then I fear so!) Garnier recommend you follow a 3 step cleaning toning and moisturising programme (of course they do, it means buying more products!) and I did try and it did help but I haven?t got the patience for a skincare routine. After several weeks of using the moisturiser I can see benefits in the overall tone of my skin but I'm still getting the odd spot so the anti bacterial 'drying out impurities' bit isn't really working. Its available in most supermarkets and chemists and retails at between £3.99 and £4.99, which as you only need such a small amount is very economical because a tube lasts for ages. So this gets the big thumbs up for me. It's actually better than the wipes I bought it for! (Again I must apologise for the title, sometimes I just can't help myself!)