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Since returning to Dooyoo recently after a nice hiatus over the festive period, I've been looking into the lifestyle and experience categories of the site more. It was something I didn't really get into when I first joined, but I have been overwhelmed with various people's accounts of actual life experiences rather than just product reviews. I find these pieces of writing extremely supporting, interesting, insightful and very personal, which is why I wanted to share my experiences with depression. I hope I can offer some insight into this invisible illness or at least help people know that they are not alone. Sometimes that can be a huge support in itself.
I didn't have the best childhood and had to grow up a lot faster than I would have wished. Although I was always an anxious little girl, I didn't have any real backlash from those experiences until my early teenage years, which was when I started to realise I had some kind of problem. Even now, 14 years after my struggle began, I still find it hard to find the words to describe what I was going through. Quite a lot of youngsters have mood swings and incomprehensible emotions around the puberty stages of life but during my early teens I felt as though I had no control over any of my emotions or the way my life was heading. I felt raw and cold, I used to describe in my diary I felt as if I had no skin on my body, and every little thing hurt me a thousand times more than it should do.
It was at this stage that I started self harming. I really can't pin point a time that it started, or what triggered me to take a safety pin to myself and scratch at my skin, but at the time it was the only way I felt I could gain control of my pain and make things more real. As time went on, I started getting bullied in school due to my introverted personality which only lead me to self harm more to gain the control I was losing in my social life. I carried on this way, unnoticed by those around me until one night my mum offered to wash my hair (she's a hairdresser and used to love using new products on me to 'cheer me up'). I mistakenly forgot about hiding my arms and took off my jumper, my mum instantly saw the scars and scratches and gently questioned me. I freaked out for want of a better word and ran upstairs, embarrassed, locking myself away even though I knew that it was somewhat of a relief that my parents would finally know how bad I was feeling. The days after that point are a bit of a blur, but I had lots of long talks with my parents about depression, self harming and how I felt emotionally - which for about a year really helped me cope with things without having the need to hurt myself.
Things eventually slid downhill again and I was back to feeling anxious, depressed and out of control. I met a guy during this time and got swept up in a typical 'teenage romance' which I supposed I used as another escape route to how I was really feeling. I made the wrong move however as the guy was very controlling and not a very nice person. I ended up being pressured into marriage at 18 and hit an extremely low point in my life. I was being beaten down verbally and my depression was at its highest. The marks I were inflicting on myself were deeper and harder, and I began to suffer from Agoraphobia, sometimes not leaving my house in upwards of 3 weeks. My parents were trying to help me, but at this stage I was too far gone and pushing everyone that really cared about me as far away as possible. In a desperate moment after having a really scary panic attack at home (where I really thought I was going to die of a heart attack) I decided to leave the house and go to my doctor for help. His advice? Stop wearing black, lose weight and go swimming. I was at a complete loss. I decided to bite the bullet and run to my parents to clear up my mess. Looking back and being a parent myself now, I feel so guilty for everything I put my parents through back then. I know I would fall to pieces if my own son were going through these awful life experiences as a lot of the time there seems like there's nothing anyone can do to make it go away.
I left the abusive relationship thanks to my parents and finally got divorced aged 20. I started to gain in strength both physically and mentally and the self harming dissipated gradually over time. Around the same time, I met a man and although I shouldn't have, we entered into a relationship. Looking back now I realise I was feeling better in myself but was by no means ready for a full blown adult relationship again. I fell pregnant and by 21 I had my little boy. Unfortunately the guy although not abusive in any way, was very unsupportive emotionally and not really into being a father at all. I practically became a single parent overnight and my worst thoughts were confirmed when I found out he'd been cheating on me since I was about 8 months pregnant. This sent me straight back into the spiralling black hole of depression, only this time, I had a small baby to care for. Times were very hard for me being a working single parent with very low income but somehow I seemed stronger than I had been before and I realised it was because of my son. I had to be ok for him, I was his only carer and if I wasn't coping then he would be suffering - which was my worst nightmare.
For my son, I decided to change doctors and seek help once more. I was back to self harming regularly, this time on my thighs and at night time so my son wouldn't be able to see any evidence of it, even so, I knew it had to stop. My new doctor blew me away with his understanding of mental illness and with his compassion for my situation. I must have been in his office for a good hour explaining everything that had happened through sobs and silence. After an assessment and check up, he decided to put me on the drug Citalopram which is used to treat major depression, social anxiety disorder and panic disorder. He explained to me that depression was a silent illness and still very much hidden in taboo within this country. It is far more widespread than most people realise, it's just that people are often too scared or not strong enough to seek help for it.
We talked about how various things can trigger those hurtful emotions and dark times which bring on various coping mechanisms or 'crutches' to lean on such as self harm, restrictive eating or compulsive checking. We also discussed the fact that although depression and anxiety disorders are an invisible illness, it's often because of an imbalance of Serotonin levels within the brain. The medication I was on targeted this which acted as a kind of emotional block. It was such a relief to hear that there was possibly something wrong with me physically as well as my troubled past as to why I was finding it so difficult to cope with every day life.
After three days of my course I started to notice that my deep intense feelings had begun to level out. The manic episodes of either elation or severe depression had begun to balance and after a fortnight on the medication I began to feel almost numb to anything. This is scary in itself to go through as I hadn't ever felt an emotional void in my life, but with weekly trips to see my GP, it did enable me to start working through what was triggering my intense feelings and to be able to deal with them without being pushed over the edge or losing it. I was on Citalopram for just over a year in total, and I feel it helped me a lot. Of course I still have occasional down days but I'm proud to say I haven't self harmed in nearly three and a half years now.
What I would say to anyone suffering from depression is get all the help you can. It is a big scary step to move away from your comfort zone and trust in others when in the midst of depression, but people will understand your situation and there is help out there for all different types of sufferers. It will be hard to confide in family and friends so perhaps if you don't feel comfortable confiding in somebody close, it might be easier to seek help from someone out of your emotional equation as it was for me. I chose to take medication as I felt I'd tried everything else with no success. I understand a lot of people out there are wary of chemical treatments but there are other things such as support groups which can be found with your GP's help and herbal treatments such as St.Johns Wort.
Most importantly I just wanted to say to people that there is hope when you suffer from a mental illness and I hope anyone reading this now who perhaps hasn't had the strength to approach someone and ask for help, please do so. You can get better and lead a normal life if you take the steps to let people in. Also, a big thank you to everyone else that has written a piece on this subject, I have enjoyed reading the different experiences of everybody on here, it just goes to show that we can all be immensely strong in the face of hardship.
My name is Julie, and I'm a make-up addict. At last, I've stood up and said it! My true confession to you though is through my many years of experimenting with foundations, powders, iridescent shadows, illuminating liners and glosses I have neglected one of the most important things - my skin.
I have a classic case of combination skin with greasy spots, dry spots and particularly flaky eyebrows (aren't I attractive?!) joined together by relatively balanced skin. I've half heartedly tried cleansers, toners and moisturisers over the years but have always been left with my skin feeling too greasy, too dry or quite rashy and sore. A few months ago my mum bought me the Lancóme Tonique Douceur along with the Aqua Fusion moisturiser, informing me of its greatness. I geared myself up for another unsuccessful bout of uncomfortable skin reactions but was very pleasantly surprised by the results - so i thought i'd share it all with you, seeing as this item has no reviews on it yet!
::Price and Stockists::
On the Lancóme Paris website, this product is available to buy and listed as £18.45 for 200ml or £30.00 for 400ml. I am also aware that some of the larger department stores such as Debenhams stock the Lancóme range and might be worth checking out as you will probably be able to pick them up cheaper, due to no postage fees and discounts for multiple product range purchases.
I don't know if this comes with an outer box as my mum bought it for me, so I will just look at the bottle for this review. My bottle contains 50ml of toner and is a medium blue colour. There is a pretty flower design in a white outline design on the front along with the usual blurb which tells us the product is alcohol free, softening and hydrating. The back of the pack states that this toner is for all skin types, but the official Lancóme website suggests normal-dry skin will get the most benefit from it. Having combination skin as mentioned above, I found it excellent so I would recommend to all skin types as the original package states. It also tells us to apply with a cotton pad for best results. The bottle is slightly bullet shaped, fits in the hand nicely and has a neat little flip top which is successful in stopping unwanted leaks.
Upon opening the bottle, I'm immediately met with a subtle smell which isn't overbearing at all. It reminds me somewhat of a mix between blue Jellybeans and Parma Violets. I find this scent particularly delicious as I'm a fan of both, but if you're not, it may be a bit too sickly sweet for you.
I find the best way to apply this toner is the same as the suggested way, on to clean skin with a cotton pad or ball as it is not as porous as tissue. You can apply this product once or twice a day - I choose to apply mine in the evening. The liquid doesn't pour right out of the hole in the top, more needing a little shake to get the right amount out, which helps eliminate loads coming out at once I should imagine. Three or four shakes on to the pad usually gets enough out for me to start applying to my skin.
I start by applying to my forehead in gentle strokes outwards, then over my eyebrows and eyes again out to the side of my face, pushing down slightly across the more greasy spots of my skin. I then use two more cotton pads, one each for the left and right sides of my neck and cheeks.
Even on my previously cleaned skin, the toner has removed dirt and grime that wasn't visible before which is impressing. It feels cool and fresh when applying, dries well and leaves my skin feeling more balanced, rejuvenated and soft all over. The only downside of this product is that the smell of the toner does tend to linger on your fingers and skin where applied. If you aren't a fan of the more sweet smelling beauty products then it could be a little overpowering for you. However this product is meant to be used with a moisturiser being applied after it and as soon as I apply my own moisturiser, the smell of the toner dissipates.
I would heartily recommend Lancóme Tonique Douceur. It may seem a bit pricey for a Toner but it has converted me, one of the laziest and most troublesome of skincare users! My daily facial treatment now involves this product and I wouldn't have it any other way. I use it in conjunction with my own cleanser and Lancóme's Aqua Fusion moisturiser which I plan to review very soon. Even if used with entirely different products, I could see the Tonique Douceur making a difference, so go ahead and treat yourself now or stick in on your wish list for your next birthday!
I regularly keep a LiveJournal account which i've had for about 6 years now. I'm very upset by the prospect of it possibly closing down, but that's another story. The point i was getting to with this little intro is i have filled in variations of these questions/memes over at my LiveJournal for years now and always enjoyed doing them, so thought i'd give it a go here too.
I hope you enjoy my answers and get to find out a bit more about me and my experiences within 2008.
1) What did you do in 2008 that you have not done before?
The best first - I got proposed to! Technically Ray my now fiancé did all the 'doing' work on that one, but it was a new and wonderful experience nonetheless! Other things include writing reviews online, working as a visual merchandiser for pretty jewellery and also supported my son when he had his first tooth filling (he was very brave!).
2) Did anyone close to you give birth?
Two of my best friends did. Rachel who i have known for about 15 years had a beautiful baby girl named Issabella, and Louisa who i have known for coming up 4 years now also had a gorgeous girlie, who she named Layla (yes, after the song!). Louisa is actually pregnant *again* now and we're about to start planning her another baby shower. She's having another girl, so at least we can recycle the pink ribbon and tissue paper from last time!
3) Did anyone close to you die?
This year was a sad one in many different ways. My brothers best friend died aged just over 30. My brother was hit hard by his passing as not only was he young but it was very unexpected. I knew my brothers friend when we were all growing up together so it was a very trying and reflective time for anyone touched by his life. There were a few other deaths that i don't feel is my place to mention on Dooyoo as they were not of my direct family but i was touched by each one and think about the people and families involved a lot. Lastly, our family goldfish Hamato Yoshi died! I know most people would suggest flushing something as simple as a Goldfish down the loo and buying a new one as they tend to die very quickly, but Hamato had spent a year and a half with us, he was a real character and a true part of our family. My son (who was five at the time) was distraught, and frankly so were my fiancé and i! We decided to give him a proper burial outside i a flower patch and even made him a weeny headstone from laminated card. I think dealing with it in that way helped our son really come to terms with him being gone, and seemed to make his first experience of death more positive. As positive as it could ever be, anyway.
4) What countries did you visit?
Absolutely none! Don't get me wrong, i love other countries, a lot! What i don't have unfortunately is a passport which is pretty essential to any kind of travelling abroad. On top of the passport issue, we really didn't have the money as a family this year to be able to jet/sail/trundle off to pastures new. I'm currently in the process of sorting out my passport and saving for our long anticipated honeymoon, hopefully to New York (Nintendo world and supersize chocolate here i come!).
5) What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
Seriously, I would really like to have more financial security and the option to move out of the hell hole we're living in at the moment. Less seriosuly (but still quite important) i would like many many maaany more gamer points on my X-box 360 profile.
6) What dates will you remember from 2008?
February 14th; When i started work at Icon Live, first proper job after moving back to London. It was absolutely hard work, but great fun most of the time.
2nd August; When Ray proposed. One of the happiest days of my life, and definitely the happiest and most memorable from this year into my future.
29th September; My birthday.
24th November; Rays birthday and 21st December Thom, our son's, birthday.
7) Did you suffer illness or injury?
I wasn't too bad this year *touches wood* just the usual coughs and colds but nothing awful or worth moaning about.
8) What was the best thing you bought?
Well, i was dubious about it when we first made the purchase, but it has to be the X-box 360. I think having to take turns in carrying the beast home in a flimsy finger ripping carrier bag from Croydon to Beckenham didn't do it any favours at first. The games we bought for it were mistakes too and for ages i couldn't get into playing it as i didn't enjoy the games, i found the controller cumbersome and overly complicated compared to the PS2 or Wii, and i was very annoyed when the price came down about a week after our purchase. However, now i'm a massive fan of our beloved X-box 360! I don't know what changed my mind, what turned my head, however you'd like to put it - maybe i just needed time to get used to a new console that had no real gimmick (like the DS or Wii), whatever it was though, it worked and i am truly addicted.
9) Whose behaviour has merited celebration?
My fiancé for putting up with my emotional mood swings and general grumps, and my best friend for the way she has dealt with an extremely awful year.
10) Who's behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
My best friend's husband, for reasons i won't go into in such a public forum.
11) Where did most of your money go?
Probably in this order - Bills, Food, Debt, treats for our son Thom, Games, Clothes. Oh and wine - that counts as food though, right?
12) What did you get really excited about?
Ray asking me to be his wife - truly the least expected but most wanted thing in my life! Also, finally finding the perfect home for my parents and them loving it as much as i did! This was a huge trial as they lived in Hastings and wanted to move back to London into the renting market. Sounds ok right? Until you mention the fact they have a little old dog. ALL landlords apparently *hate* dogs, even ones that just sleep all day and have an affection for snuggles. It took us about 9 months and 3 house moves to finally get them settled, but it was all worth it in the end. Oh, and i mustn't forget the whole of series 4 Doctor Who, it blew my mind!
13) What song will you remember from 2008?
A little collection - Monsoon by Tokio Hotel, Young Folks by Peter Bjorn and John, Slam by Pendulum, Still Alive - The Portal song (from the game) AND, You Know I'm No Good by Amy Winehouse.
14) Compared to this time last year are you fitter, happier, more productive?
I think i'm fatter, hippier and more disruptive!
15) What do you wish you had done more of?
I wish i had spent more time with both my close and extended family, writing, singing and dancing.
16) What do you wish you had done less of?
Bit of a dark answer but i really do wish i'd spent a lot less time running around after people who don't deserve to be run around after. This year, through some peoples eyes, i must have had doormat written across my forehead!
17) What was your favourite tv programme?
Doctor who was fantastic as usual. I also got into series Two of Torchwood which was a surprise to me. I was expecting it to be full of pointless adult referencing, bad quality writing and awful acting; luckily there was only a pinch of each of those things mixed into a wonderful melting pot of awesome ideas and tear-jerking moments. I was also into Dead Set and i'm a little ashamed to say - Hollyoaks. I think i'll leave it there!
18) Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate last year?
Hate is a very strong word as i'm sure many have said. i don't hate anyone new this year as it take a LOT to push me over that line. However i did come close a few times.
19) What's been the best book of 2008?
I don't know if they're technically the 'best books' of 2008 but i have been totally wrapped up in the Alex Cross series of novels by James Patterson. Possibly a late discovery from me seeing as there are so many, but i'm enjoying reading through them all and once i've read all of the books i plan to watch the two film adaptions.
20) What was your greatest musical discovery?
I've not really discovered anyone new as i'm a bit stuck in my ways musically but i've rediscovered golden oldies such as Skunk Anansie, Korn, Will Haven and Bush.
21) What did you want to get in 2008?
Very romantic times, a dirty weekend away, lots of games, nice wine.
22) What did you want and didn't get?
My cousin Kate to come over from Australia and spend a few weeks with us. She's coming over next year for our wedding though so i can hang on until then!
23) What is your favourite film of the year?
I thought I Am Legend was a fantastic film, i will definitely be re-watching that at some point in the near future. I also really enjoyed Mama Mia. I took my mum to the cinema (as i'm sure practically every other girl did) to see it on her birthday. It was a total suprise for her and she was very exited about seeing it. I was sure i would suffer and sit through it just waiting for the end to come but i actually found it all great fun, very cleverly written and hugely touching in that mother/daughter bond way. Wall.E Also blew me away, i found it amazing that an animation with barely any script to follow could have my fiancé, our son and me all laughing, crying and loving the whole thing. I also agree with the way it gently pushed us information about the way our planet is going and what we need to do to help ourselves and our precious environment.
24) What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
I stayed in for my birthday this year as my parents were on holiday in Spain and unable to babysit. I think we got a takeaway curry for tea, and I turned 27. Eek!
25) What political issue stirred you the most?
Statistics of violence, youth crime, the cigarette banning saga and the US elections.
26) Who was the best person you met?
I can't possibly chose a particular person, above all else i think that's cruel, even if they don't stumble across it here! I will diplomatically say i met loads of interesting, varied and wonderful people over the course of this year and i hope to do exactly the same in 2009.
27) Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008?
To put yourself first sometimes. It's not selfish to do so.
Intro (It Ends Tonight) ::
Careless Talk ::
Bullet Of Tranquility ::
The Machine ::
From The Ashes ::
Ridin' The Storm ::
Pretty Girls (Get Split) ::
Rue The Day formed in January 2005 in the Midlands area. The five piece, formed of vocalist Jack, guitar and backing vocalist Dave, guitarist Rich, Joe on bass and Mark on drums, set themselves on a string of gigs across the UK, getting them noticed and talked about by many. These gigs caught the attention of Casket Records with whom this album is released.
On to the good stuff!
We're first met with a distorted yell followed by a 2min 16sec intro with another scream close to the end, aptly called Intro (It Ends Tonight). This isn't an intro as such, but more of a slippery dive board, forcing us in at the deep end whether we like it or not. Usually i like this kind of brutal entrance to an album, but i'm just not feeling this. I like to at least try and connect with the vocalist of a band the first time i hear an album and i'm left wondering if they actually have a vocalist for the first 2 minutes of the CD.
However, as much as i feel having an almost instrumental beginning to the album wasn't the best of decisions, i can't put down the music. The throbbing of drummer Mark's bass pedal is awesome. The guitars are tight knit and played with effortless perfection. For having only been formed for just over two years, these guys have seemingly found their sound as a band, and the ability to make perfect noise together with their weapons of choice.
Careless Talk weaves in off of the back of Intro (It Ends Tonight) seamlessly and starts with yet another sore throat inducing yell. However, I'm finally able to get a sense of Jacks style during this track. I have to say i'm not too big of a fan. I like my vocalists very strong and powerful, i'm not doubting his ability to scream for England, but its not guttural enough for me. It doesn't feel like its coming from the heart, or the belly, or from real pain. Something about the vocal just doesn't gel with the ear bleeding guitar riffs or the Fear Factory like relentless bass and drum styles found on this song, and on most of the album.
Title track The Machine, has a catchy sing-a-long chorus in amongst the cool twin guitars and assaulting drum line, and this style is echoed throughout the album too. I'm getting Metallica vibes with flashes of 70's rock from quite a few of the tracks on The Machine, both from how they are structured, and from the overall sound and feeling of them.
The band have other sides to them as Bullet Of Tranquility, Rival and Twist show. Although still sounding heavily influenced by James Hatfield styled vocals, and continuing with the rhythmic assault on our eardrums, they show that melody and a more gentle guitar sound is achievable within the Rue The Day camp. I like this side of the band and album, as it shows they have a true depth and creativity within their tightly formed five piece.
Pretty Girls (Get Split) is my personal favourite from The Machine. With this song, Rue The Day sound mature and supreme. There are some great lyrics woven into both melodic and hardcore rhythms, and it feels like they aren't trying to be anyone else but themselves. It works so well this way, and i'd be tempted to become a big fan if every song on The Machine had this much diversity and individuality.
Overall The Machine is a good album to boost the UK scene, and i'm sure these guys are awesome live. The album is a tad samey so possibly purchase it if you've heard of them before, seen them live or are a fan in the first place. Some moments are slightly cheesy - my son asked me if one of the tracks was the beginning of a Power Rangers song!
A lot of it has been done before, but that doesn't mean it should be written off. Although not entirely to my musical taste, Rue The Day have got masses of potential, and The Machine is a good opening for them to get out there, continue gigging and cause some mayhem.
Check out the bands official site www.ruetheday.co.uk and the official Myspace www.myspace.com/ruethedayrock for regular updates and information on tour dates.
With glowing reviews such as 5 precious Kerrang! K's under their belt, playing Reading and Leeds festivals and having enough flowing testosterone and storming riffs to make even the politest of people raise their middle fingers to the world, Brighton boys The Ghost Of A Thousand's 'This Is Where The Fight Begins' rocks. Hard.
Bored Of Math ::
Left For Dead ::
Up To You ::
New Toy ::
Black Art Number One ::
Married To The Sidewalk ::
One For The Road ::
As They Breed They Swarm ::
No One Ever Gives You A Straight Answer To Anything ::
The Last Bastion Of Heaven Lies Abandoned & Burning ::
Hailing from Brighton, The Ghost Of A Thousand are formed of vocalist Tom Lacey, Andy Blyth and Jag Jago on guitars, Gez Walton on bass and drummer Memby Jago.
On first listen to This Is Where The Fight Begins, I was heavily reminded of the charging, ear-splitting massacres of Will Haven and The Abominable Iron Sloth, so it was no surprise that these guys have supported such metal giants. I however had never heard of them before i got given the CD, which surprised me as i'd consider myself a fan of the hardcore scene.
The opening track, Bored Of Math, gets the album off to an awesome start. We have manic funky drumming teamed with massive sounding guitar combos. This along side Lacey's perfectly strained vocals screaming about youth power pull you up by your tattered converse laces, and drag you along for the ride.
After this song, i'm already becoming a big fan of Lacey's vocals as you might have guessed. For too long the metal/hardcore/guitar scene has been taken over by Myspace loving, hairsprayed, cocky teenagers who wear more make-up than air flight assistants. Mosh pits were lost to 'emo' fans backflipping and windmilling in unison - and the music... well, the music just disintegrated before our eyes. The Ghost Of A Thousand are seemingly grabbing metal and taking it back to its hardcore 'don't give an eff' roots.
Following track one, we're met with more of the same themes. Bringing down those that hold power and letting us have our turn at the world. Throwing our collective fists up to the sky and shouting for freedom. Songs, as they say, 'about being young and unstoppable'. These themes are more commonly heard in Punk songs, which is why The Ghost Of A Thousand categorise themselves under the genres of Hardcore / Rock / Punk - Another refreshing vibe that the scene desperately needs.
As the album progresses, the punk feel of each song becomes more apparent, with heavy chord structured melodies and Offspring-ish solo work. I can't stress how much of an awe inspiring change it is, for me at least, to hear these two genres which were becoming worlds apart from each other merge so seamlessly into polished and amazing rock songs.
'No One Ever Gives You A Straight Answer To Anything', apart from winning the award for longest track name i've ever reviewed, is my favourite from the album. More hardcore than punk, but still with a spit of punk flavour thrown in, it's build-ups and breakdowns are of epic proportions.
The album ends with 'The Last Bastion Of Heaven Lies Abandoned & Burning', another tongue twistingly long title, which is a perfectly fitting finish to the album. It is very versatile. Slow in parts, hard and heavy in others, somewhat similar to Deftones' early work, especially the bass heavy breakdown. Lacey also shows us he's got a strong, pure singing voice underneath his strained guttural roars, and the song fades out to intense mind numbing guitar feedback riot style noise. Perfect.
In conclusion, i really like this album and was surprised i hadn't heard of them before. I would recommend buying or downloading this album if you're into bands mentioned above such as Deftones, Will Haven, Sloth etc and even if you're into more hardcore punk, as this album really blends the two very well.
Visit the official site at www.theghostofathousand.com and http://www.myspace.com/theghostofathousand for sample tracks and more info on the band, their recent EP release and upcoming tours.
My first memories of Charity shops go back to the early 90's when i was about 13. It was extremely unfashionable and frowned upon to even know what a charity shop was, let alone make the mistake of shopping in one. I only wish i had taken the scary steps of actually going into one earlier than i did, imagine the bargains i've missed out on!
Anyway, on with my review...
My drama teacher at school, Miss Vokes, was fabulously boho and effortlessly cool. A fellow pupil asked her one afternoon after lessons where she had obtained her gorgeous dark brown faux sheepskin coat. She replied flippantly "the Oxfam shop" and left amongst a fluffy of gasps and muttered insults such as 'bin raider' and 'tramp'. Still reeling from the spend spend spend culture of the 80's, designer labels and catwalk models being the big thing, as expected everyone thought this was terrible.
I however was inspired and went home to ask my mum if we could take a look around some of our local charity shops in town on the following Saturday. I don't really know what made me feel differently to the majority. Maybe it was purely the prettiness of the coat, maybe it was wanting to emulate Miss Vokes or maybe it was the same thing that has made me slightly different in lifestyle to this very day... whatever it was, i'm glad i jumped in with both feet to the wonderful world of charity shopping and i'd like to think after reading this maybe you will too (if you haven't already!).
Back then things were very different to how they are now. Obviously with inflation prices have and will always rise in charity shops pretty much the same as they do in your average highstreet retailer. Within this, the charity shop has evolved in some areas and stayed quite dormant in others. Larger chains such as Oxfam, Cancer Research and British Heart Foundation have upped their price tags closer to those of highstreet shops with books usually selling between £2-£5 and an average pair of jeans costing about £4. Bric-a-brac can still be picked up for less costly prices, beginning at around 50p.
Entertainment prices have gone up a considerable amount with some shops charging upwards of £6 for dvds and videogames, which you can actually buy cheaper online or in shops brand new. A lot of this unfortunately is down to the wonderful volunteers behind the scenes who don't really know the value of what they are pricing, as there aren't clear guidelines or price comparisons to work from for them. I used to volunteer for The British Heart Foundation in Beckenham, Kent which is why i'm using this personal experience in my review. We had no kind of pricing guide to work from at all with entertainment donations, just basic clothes and bric-a-brac guidelines.
In contrast to the larger organisations, we have the generally smaller charity shops that tend to cater for local charities. Prices here have remained more akin to those of the charity shops from my youth, with books available at 10p a go, and VHS sales such as 4 for £1. These little hidden gems of the charity world are often placed where you'd least expect to find them. We have one in Beckenham down an alleyway next to a chinese shop - the only hint its there is a little wooden sign leant up against the wall on a Saturday morning. I shop in both types of shop but i have to admit i have a weakness for the smaller non -chain charities as on top of having the cheaper prices and in most cases more unusual items, i also feel like i'm doing more good with my money. There seems to be little swallowing up of my donation into
admin, fundraising events or wages and everyone always seems welcoming and pleased to have my custom - and i to, to have their service.
This leads me nicely on to money and profits - where does Charity shop money go? I already mentioned Admin and fundraising costs that most of the larger companies have to juggle. Oxfam openly support helping less developed countries with water and sanitation, education, health and welfare and agriculture among many more. The British Heart Foundation aims to spend your money in helping research into heart conditions, supporting sufferers and survivors and in promoting healthy living. Cancer Research does similar with their profits, helping survivors and sufferers living with cancer as a part of their life, and contributing massively to research in this area.
Each larger charity has websites easy to find if you search the name of the charity you are interested in for lots more information on how to donate, where your money goes and any other questions you may want answering.
With the dreaded credit crunch (i didn't want to mention it!) and people generally becoming more relaxed with second hand goods helped along by websites such as eBay, and the age old tradition of hand-me-downs within families, the charity shop is becoming a very acceptable place to buy from, for all types of purchase. If however you still aren't liking the idea of buying second hand goods, most of the larger charities sell new goods which are often organic, fair trade, of a high quality and of course, a percentage of the profit still goes to fund the good causes each charity supports.
Thankyou for reading my review. I hope you go on to find a charity shop that works for you and one that you can feel happy supporting, as i have. Charity shopping and volunteering is something i feel very passionately about and i hope i've passed some of that passion on in this review! For more information, why not have a look at a few links i have listed below.
www.charityshops.org.uk/locator.php (a great charity shop locator)
www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=23497420164 (my own personal Facebook group for people who love charity shopping!)
Here is a review i have done of the album M(US)SIC from the band Damiera. You may have seen a version of this review on Ciao as i used to be a member over there too.
I Am Pulse
After mountain sized trials and obstacles for each individual member of what was to be Damiera as we know them now, everything seemed to fall into place. Call it coincidence, call it fate, whatever was working away at getting Dave Raymond, Rock Whittington, Brad Mcrae and Mark Henry together has ended up producing a tight, dynamic band.
M(US)IC is the band's debut album, having previously released a self produced EP in 2005, but it certainly doesn't feel like it. Produced by Jayson DeZuzio (My Chemical Romance) the entire album has a great feeling of energy, talent and knowledge of what they are doing.
The first two tracks pave the way of the style Damiera want to portray to us. They fall in the middle of very mature and technically perfect weaving guitar lines scattered with precise drums and prog-emo vocals, and youthful energy and passion.
The title track M(US)IC brings the pace down a notch, but still incorporates all the fundamental style and punch that the two songs before - and the album as a whole - forcefully throws at you. Although the album M(US)IC is seemingly part of the new wave of releases mixing things up and trying out new boundaries on us as listeners, such as disjointed and syncopated rhythms with complicated beautiful melodies that at some points seem impossible to play, there are still elements and influences of good old prog-rock and grunge that tinkle through occasionally.
Ember Eason is as close to a pop song that Damiera will get. With its bouncy bass lines and catchy yet melancholy verses, it could easily become one of the albums anthems for teens and younger adults who aren't as interested in the technical merits of the band. Even with this in tow, they still manage to effortlessly merge complicated timings and perfect breaks, which couldn't get tighter if they were wrapped in a million rubber bands.
Departures is a wonderful 1 minute 50 second instrumental interlude with their trademark complicated yet beautiful melodies, refreshing delay effects and shimmering percussion. I'm normally not a fan of the interlude, be it a random recording, instrumental or something small with vocals, but Departures gets it spot on. After having the dream-like, gorgeous break, you feel refreshed as a listener to go back onto the path that the rest of M(US)IC takes us down.
The last three tracks follow the same route as before the interlude, and bring back the themes running through the album of relationships, self-discovery and sacrifice, which most of us can all relate to at one point or another in our lives. This in itself makes M(US)IC and the band as a whole, likeable on top of musically inspiring. I can only imagine the raw energy that they would produce at live shows, and i'm sure that with their technical ability, the songs would be as close to album perfect as humanly possible.
CD art is simple, which i feel it needed to be. Gaudy colours and a plethora of artistically styled pictures would do no justice for the feeling of the album. With the dark olive card sleeve, matt black inlay and disk mixed with a few darker toned abstract photographs, and of course full lyrics to digest or sing along as you so wish, i think they've packaged M(US)IC perfectly.
If you're not particularly into the stereotypical genres of Emo and new Prog-style rock then maybe you should give this one as miss, as unless you can appreciate the different values and style of each song, the album might sound a tad repetitive. However if you like bands like At The Drive In, Cave In, and even heavier artists such as Glassjaw, then i'd suggest buying yourself a copy of M(US)IC for the excellent songs, and to support these guys in coming to bring some amazing and fresh gigs to our already existing scenes.
Check out the official website: www.damiera.com
and official myspace page: www.myspace.com/damiera for more news and sample tracks off of this album.
Reviewing perfumes isn't my forte - i believe for a perfume of this standard to be properly described needs somewhat of an expert touch, but as an enthusiast of Jean Paul Gaultiers' Classique fragrance i thought i'd give out my opinions for anyone thinking of purchasing it for themselves or a loved one - christmas is coming!
Jean Paul Gaultier is well known for his outlandish fashion and clothing design. In this field he always tried to raise the bar and push out the hidden sensuality within us all. In 1993 he introduced his first fragrance, Classique for women. I've been using this perfume since my early teenage years when my best friend introduced me to it.
The first thing to mention is that it looks absolutely stunning in its container, which is uniquely a cylindrical tin with the words Jean Paul Gaultier "Classique" embossed in the middle. The tin lifts off and the true beauty of the perfume bottle is revealed. As i mentioned before, Gaultier always explored the sexy, sensual side of fashions, and he didn't stop there when designing this bottle. It is delicately shaped into an hourglass womanly torso with a frosted bodice (for modesty i assume!) and plastic 'hips' holding the glass bottle to the base. This alone was, and still is, so different to the usual apple/square/oblong shapes of most other perfumes on the market and makes it truly distinguishable by look alone.
On to the smell. At first whiff this is a very strong fragrance, but don't take that as a bad thing! Its heavy, scattered with deep florals and an underlying musk which is delicious and moreish. Unlike most heavy perfumes, this doesn't cause headaches or that taste at the back of your throat, rather just an all over lush of wonderful scent that seems to change with you during the day. It lasts extremely well and although the bottles aren't huge (75ml being the average) mine have lasted well over a year with each purchase.
Price obviously varies slightly depending on where you go, but the official Gaultier site (www.jeanpaulgaultier.com) has the 100ml spray for sale at roughly £68 (86 Euros) with a nifty little personalise feature for £12 (15 Euros) more. This enables you to enter a line of text up to 20 characters in two different font styles and also gives you the ability to chose where you want your message engraved on the gorgeous bottle. Perfect for someone special.
In conclusion, 12 years on i'm still just as in love with this perfume as i was the very first time i sprayed it to my skin. It's a perfect fragrance for a strong, sexy modern woman and ideal to give as a gift due to its gorgeous packaging, as well as its fantastic scent. Delicious!
As most women (and some men - i won't discriminate!) have a love for bags and keeping everything in them bar the kitchen sink, i'm sure you'll understand when i say i have a lot stored away in mine!
Whilst reading through some other members posts, i have been giggling, making notes of handy things to keep in mine that i hadn't thought of, and working out which bag i wanted to talk about.
I seem to have a gene passed down to me through my maternal family bloodline which makes me love and collect bags of all sorts, from all places, for all occasions. For today's review i will be looking into my current everyday bag, which happens to be a sexy little grey leopard print tote bag from dear old Primark, for the costly sum of £2.
This bag only has one compartment (shocking, i know) and ties up with a drawstring, so i have to be a little careful of what i put in there as smaller things have a nasty habit of working their way out when i'm not looking.
Ok here goes:
1) Firstly we come to my cigarettes. Yes i'm a bad bad smoker. I have cut down a lot in recent years and plan on stopping when i feel comfortable to do so. That point isn't here yet, but it will be soon and i look forward to the day they aren't a part of my daily bag contents. For the record they are Ronson lights bought from spain by my parents from their last holiday over there a few weeks back.
2) Similarly, the next thing i have pulled out is my blue disposable lighter. Its nothing special, but it works.
3) Next, i've got my purse which is a large black Kath Kidson style affair with pretty red, blue and beige florals decorating the outer sides. Inside that, i have a number of cards including Blockbuster, Nectar, 2 library cards, a rent card, a bank card and a small version of my sons most recent school photo. I also have to carry my birth certificate and my proof of age card (validate UK) as people so often chose not to believe that i'm 27. Apparently i should find it flattering that i'm ID'd everywhere i go, but i don't tend to see it that way when all i want is a nice glass of wine after a hard day. I also have a ten pound note and some change adding up to another couple of quid.
4) My keys. I have three separate yale keys, two of which open my front door, i have no idea what the other one opens! Next to those is my FOB key for getting through the main security doors to my house. As well as those, i have two keyrings with my sons photo on them, and one cute little keyring i found in a charity shop of a Manga policeman. Its cute and rubber, so i had to have it, i think it cost 5p.
5) Next is my phone. Its a Motorola but i'm not sure which make. its pink and very skinny and lets me call people which is all i really need a phone for! It has a habit of unlocking itself inside my bag recently and taking photos of it. Maybe the phone wants to make a post about the contents of my bag too!
6) Oyster Card - a must if you live in London/Greater London. Using my Oyster Card means i can pay 90p per single bus ride compared to the flat rate of £2 by cash. Its a hell of a saving and well worth investing in if you live locally and use London busses regularly. It also works on the Croydon Tramlink and some trains, although they are being slower introducing it to all the rail stations at the moment.
7) The last big thing is a VDU eyecare certificate for my partner. He had his first ever eye test today and needs to wear glasses. He got the voucher from work for Specsavers to help pay towards a pair worth £99 or above as he needs them for computer work.
So those are the main things taking up space in my bag at the moment. Other miscellaneous objects roaming around are a black and a blue biro, a pink high gloss lipgloss from Superdrug, a tampon, half a packet of spearmint Softmints, a black stretchy hair band, 3 black hair grips, a piece of scrunched up tissue, and some fluff.
I hope you enjoyed delving into the contents of my bag, i know i've enjoyed reading everyone else's!
Most people recently have had to have a rethink with their grocery and home shopping due to the dreaded credit crunch. Being somewhat of a cautious person with money, I've always looked out for and tried high street supermarket own brand value products, as in many cases these can be so much cheaper than branded products.
My preferred supermarkets to shop at are Sainsbury, Asda and Tesco. Each have a varied and fantastic selection of value products ranging from electrical goods, clothes, food and yes, even toilet paper. I'm writing this review on Tesco Value 12 Pack Toilet Roll, as i believe it to be the best value brand out there and would really like to recommend it to people who may have been wary about going down the value route.
I've always been annoyed at the price of regular/luxury toilet paper. As i'm home maker to a 3 person household (one of those being a toilet loving 5 year old boy!) we use at least 3 - 4 rolls a week, and i've found that buying in bulk works out cheaper and much easier than dragging a bulky 4 roll pack home every Friday after school. Even with the bulk buy, the prices of most larger packs of toilet roll are a big expense. I've logged on to Tesco.com, the online grocery web site to get some examples of price for comparison for this review. I tried to get packs containing 12 rolls for a direct comparison but unfortunately the larger branded companies only seem to sell up to 9 roll bulk packs.
Going on a high to low base, first we have "Quilted Velvet Toilet Tissue". We get 9 Rolls for £4.75 (£0.32/100sheet). Second highest price comes in as "Andrex Toilet Tissue". They give us 9 Rolls for £4.46 (£0.15/100sheet). Next comes "Nouvelle Re-Cycled Toilet Tissue" where we get 9 Rolls for £3.99 (£0.20/100sheet). Now some people might not mind spending out £4.75 for 9 rolls of toilet paper, but when you compare the price of Tesco Value Toilet Tissue - 12 Rolls for £1.12 (£0.05/100sheet) - in my opinion there IS no comparison. The difference is huge, especially when you also take into consideration that Tesco are offering you 3 more rolls for the already hugely reduced price.
COMFORT AND QUALITY:
This is where the big argument comes in, and why i'm writing this review in the first place. Many of us i'm sure remember back to being in primary school and hating going to the loo because of the awful toilet paper from hell - that's right, the stuff likened to tracing paper (in fact, i'm sure it actually was!). After talking to a few of my friends about value toilet paper brands, they all assumed it would be a similar experience and i don't blame them for being wary.
I've also tried both Asda and Sainsburys own value brand of toilet roll and although they aren't as bad as the awful old school rolls, they were quite rough against the skin. The other problem i had with their value brands was the separation of the ply. They would often come apart and wrap backwards onto the roll (its difficult to explain!) leaving the toilet paper inside out, making it difficult to tear off and even more uncomfortable to use.
I didn't have any issues like this with Tesco Value Toilet Tissue. I was so impressed with the quality and comfort of it I decided to write this review, as i mentioned above. It feels soft against the skin, the ply stays firmly together with no separation and its easy to tear off the segments. Of course there are going to be differences, and for those who really love using a thick 4 ply quilted/coloured/luxury tissue this won't be for you, but for someone wanting to help cut down the weekly shop price wise and not lose all quality, i would definitely recommend this product.
Tesco Value Toilet Tissue is available both instore and online at www.tesco.com
I've been colouring my hair since my early teenage years - well, technically my mum has as, luckily enough for me, she was a hairdresser (now retired and living the high life!). I've been pretty much every shade out there and tried lots of different hair colour products, however i've always tended to lean towards the more alternative/unnatural shades such as deep purples, reds, pinks and blues.
After moving a fair distance away from my parents (boo!) i'd started colouring on my own using brands bought from Camden Market such as Stargazer, for so called bright and dazzling effects. These products however were slightly disappointing as they left my hair feeling brittle and didn't produce great results unless the hair had been bleached first. At the time there wasn't really anything representing bold and dramatic unnatural hair colours in the average highstreet retailer. This is why i was so pleased when Schwarzkopf launched their XXL range of colours into supermarkets and other highstreet retailers!
ON TO THE PRODUCT:
From personal experience Schwarzkopf have 12+ colours in their XXL range which gives a good amount of choice for all hair colours. The colours i have personally tried are ABSOLUT PLATINUM 00A, MYSTIC VIOLET V87, RED PASSION R43 and DEEP BLACK 99. All of them produced vibrant sumptuous results which i was very pleased with. For the sake of this review i will talk in detail about my experience with the colour i have used most recently - Red Passion.
Live Color XXL comes presented in an average shaped box, nothing different from the norm there. The front of the box displays both a man and woman which is unusual but great in breaking down the barriers that only women are allowed to dye their hair. On the sides there is the typical safety information to do with hydrogen peroxide, ammonia and skin reactions. (NOTE: Due to the ammonia in this hair colourant i would highly recommend NOT using this whilst pregnant) Also present is a handy predictions colour chart of what colour your hair may turn after using the product. These aren't usually too accurate on any hair colourant product, but its nice to have nonetheless. These is also a list of what the pack contains, and the information that this is a permanent hair colour and will take time to grow out rather than wash out.
1 tube of Live Color creme
1 bottle of developer
1 tube of Live Color conditioner
1 pair of gloves
1 instruction leaflet
After spilling the contents out over my towelled bedroom floor in front of the mirror, i sat down to have a quick readthrough of the instruction leaflet, which the folded up plastic gloves are gently stuck to. The product is to be applied to dry unwashed hair which is much more convenient for me than having to wash or dampen the hair first. There are two different sets of instructions, one for a first time application and one for root regrowth. As it was my first time using this particular colour, i chose the first option.
Preparing the colour is explained step by step and very easy. Simply take the top off of the Color Creme tube, reverse the lid and pierce through the foil protection to open the tube up. Remove the cap of the developer lotion and squeeze the color creme into it. Replace the applicator nozzle securely and shake the bottle until the products appear fully mixed. This took a matter of 2 minutes. Once that was done i was ready to colour!
As i've mentioned before, i had towelled the area i was coloring in to avoid any nastly spillages/stains and had also changed into old clothes i didn't mind getting stained. I also had a comb and a few plastic hairgrips handy to help me seperate my hair into sections and hold the hair i wasn't coloring out of the way. A handy hint is to put vaseline around your hairline, ears and neck as this cuts down possibility of the colour staining your skin. The gloves aren't as good quality as some of the other hair colours i have used but they fitted ok and didn't leak during application.
I generally section my hair and work from underneath to the top, coating the lengths first, roots second - as i've found strong hair colours tend to activate faster on the roots. The mixture went on evenly and with ease. It was slightly drippier than some others i've used before so i was pleased i'd used the towels and old clothes! Smell wasn't too pungent, quite fruity for a permanent hair colour although i did have the odd cough where i breathed in too close to the area i was working on.
The instructions advise leaving the colour on for approximately 30 minutes. I must admit i tend to leave mine on a little longer and did with this particular one too. After application (which took about 15 minutes) and leaving to develop i'd say i had the creme on for about 40 minutes. The pack also advises using two packs if your hair is very thick or long. My hair rests on my bra strap and not too thick so i found one pack to be satisfactory for good coverage. Any longer than that though and i would reccommend investing in a second pack.
When rinsing my hair off, the colour started coming out immediately. My 6 year old said it looked like someone was bleeding into the bath as there was so much red dye! After a 5 minute rinse with warm water and an imulsifying blob of shampoo mixed into the equation, the blood (i mean dye!) started to ease off and eventually the water ran clear. The conditioner was easy to open and apply. It smelled similar to the hair colour without the nasty side effects of ammonia and peroxide and really moisturised my hair. After rinsing the conditioner off, my hair felt wonderfully soft and hydrated and smelled gorgeous.
Another handy hint is to have an old towel ready to wrap and dry your hair with as even though the water runs clear, the colour still leaks after washing and you will get red stains on white/light coloured towels. The colour had hardly stained my skin though, probably due to the vaseline, and whatever had seeped through was quite easy to get off with soap and water.
I towel dried my hair until it was barely damp, then blow dried and styled. My hair was so smooth and felt in great condition. My split ends had seemingly been eliminated and i felt very pleased with the quality of this product. The colour change was quite intense! My natural hair colour is chestnut brown and the colour achieved with XXL was very similar to that on the front of the pack. The only slight difference was mine was possibly a shade darker than that shown, however i was not disappointed with this result. Colour distribution was completely even and the shine on my hair was superb.
I would definitely recommend this particular product, and all of the Live XXL colours for people who want to be a bit bolder and stand out from the crowd. This range of colours does just that, and also leaves you with deeply conditioned lovely smelling hair. It lasted a fair while, and i didn't need to do a regrowth application until a good 5/6 weeks after the first.
The average price i've found is £4.69 in Superdrug and Sainsbury however they are often on special offer in both of these stores as 2 for £7, both of which are great value for money.
Track Listing: The Eraser, Analyse, The Clock, Black Swan, Skip Divided, Atoms For Peace, And It Rained All Night, Harrowdown Hill, Cymbal Rush.
Many people, myself included, were waiting with bated breath for the release of The Eraser. Having been a Radiohead fan for as long as i can remember being into music, i have enjoyed watching Radiohead change and grow from depressing and sad, to expressive and mad - with Thom Yorke's darker and more personal influences moulding a new type of sound for the band. Kid A saw the cross-roads emerge for Radiohead, and won them as many fans as they lost with the change in direction. It's those experimental melodies intertwined with dark forcing trip-hop beats, nicely sliced with jazz and Thom's trademark delicate voice, that paved the way for The Eraser.
The title track is first up, and it's a great song to give you a feel of the whole album. It tells tales of heartbreak and betrayal in the way only Thom Yorke could do. He sings "be careful how you respond, or you could end up in this song", and i fully believe him. He could be out there stalking you in the shadows gaining more material for the next album right now. The striking piano chords and bubbly drum effects don't mask this track's dark underbelly, and it leaves you aching for more vengeful moody goodness.
We aren't disappointed in wanting more of what are essentially very good 'break up' songs, as Black Swan and Skip Divided are both excellent examples of. Thom has seemingly written this album from his heart, and is naturally aimed at people he has emotional connections with, so it's very easy to feel a bond with what he's singing and disappear (completely) inside his head.
The lack of guitar within the songs isn't a minus point for this album. Granted it is a big part of Thom Yorke's musical history, but with this fresh step forward, he seems to be asking new things of us as listeners, stretching our minds and eardrums as one. Still, 'The Clock', 'Harrowdown Hill' and 'Black Swan' have some beautifully arranged guitar riffs which will keep any fellow guitar lover drooling for more.
The artwork for this album is, as always with Radiohead and Thom Yorke's influences, stunning. The artist, Stanley Donwood (who has been used by Radiohead before), didn't intentionally produce these outstanding pieces of work for the album, but when he heard that Yorke was working on The Eraser, he hoped that his work would get picked. The pieces fit in perfectly with the themes running through the album, and are a fitting and beautiful accompaniment.
Sitting in a living room, lights dimmed, with a glass of the good stuff in your hand is the place to listen to this album. As we're taken though a winding forest of anger, hate, revenge and loves long lost, the journey never once gets boring or predictable. Each song, though similar in theme and amazingly produced are completely different and worthy in their own right. I never fail to be taken into some kind of other worldly dreamland whilst listening to The Eraser, and this is part of it's huge attraction. These tracks have all the depth, meaning and emotion of Thom's earlier works, with some extra spice and wonderful nu-modern sounds to give it his stamp of individualism, and it has succeeded 100%
I would fully reccommend this album to any Thom Yorke/Radiohead fan, and people interested in their past years. Many have argued it is a step too far away from what both Thom York and Radiohead have created and suceeded in for many years - but i don't think thats a bad thing. Music needs to mould and change with the times to stay fresh, which is what has happened with The Eraser. It holds wonderfully intelligent lyrics, and is dark and wonderfully indie in the truest form of the word. Definitely worth buying in my oppinion, although possibly a little too intense or strange for a more easy listen/non fan.
Check out the official website www.theeraser.net for more weird and wonderful surprises.