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moog27

moog27
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Member since: 26.04.2008

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      14.09.2013 17:16
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      A lovely book, idea for reading to groups of children

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      We're Going on a Bear Hunt!
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      We're Going on a Bear Hunt is on of my favourite children's books. It is written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. When I was younger I used to love this story and now I enjoy reading it with or too the children that I work with.

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      The Book
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      The book itself comes in a variety of sizes, and in both hard back and paperback. The copy I currently have beside me is a small square, hard back copy, but somewhere in my house there is also a large book version which is great for reading to a large group of children as they can all see the pictures and the words. The copy I have cost £3.99. The story was first published in 1989 by Walker Books Ltd and the edition I have was published in 1992.

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      The Story
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      The story follows the journey of Dad, big sister, little sister, little brother, baby and their dog as they go on a hunt for a bear. On their bear hunt they encounter many obstacles ranging from 'long wavy grass' to a 'swirling whirling snow storm'. They find that the only way to go on is to go through the obstacles. Eventually they get to a 'narrow gloomy cave' and as they tiptoe through it they find;
      'One shiny wet nose!
      Two big furry ears!
      Two big goggly eyes!'
      IT'S A BEAR!!!!

      They then have to run back through all of the obstacles to get home, shut the door, get into bed and hide under the covers. The story ends with them saying ' We're not going on a bear hunt again'.

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      The Structure
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      The structure of the book is what helps make it so appealing to children. Throughout the story, the words follow a regular pattern, so children soon pick up on it and can join in.
      For each obstacle that the family encounter, they start by saying the well know line;
      'We're Going on a Bear Hunt,
      We're going to catch a big one,
      What a beautiful day!
      We're not scared.

      The acknowledgement of the obstacle is then phrased in the same way each time;
      'Uh-uh! Grass!
      Long wavy grass
      We cant go over it
      We cant go under it
      Oh no!
      We've got to go through it!'

      The following page then shows them going through the obstacle and has a box with the sound effects to make. For example, when they are going through the grass the sounds written are 'Swishy swashy!' and then they are going through the mud it is 'squelch squerch'.

      One they have found the bear and run back through the obstacles the text is in strips so it can be read quickly to give the idea of rushing back.

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      The illustrations
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      The illustrations done by Helen Oxenbury are very well done. On the pages where the family are encountering the obstacles the illustrations are in black and white and then as they are passing through the obstacles the illustrations are done in colour. It is a lovely book to look at with enough detail to keep children engaged and interested.


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      Evaluation
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      The book is really enjoyable to read because you can really get into voice of the story and it is a story which is designed to be read in a very energetic way. Children love to join in and it is a good book to sit them all in a circle so they can join in with the words and the sound effects. I have found that children love the excitement of the rushing away from the bear and it is done in a humorous way so it isn't scary enough to give anyone nightmares. The book ends which a picture of the bear slouched and walking away. I once made the mistake of saying to a child 'aawww look, he only wanted to play'! the child promptly burst into floods of tears out of sympathy for the bear. All in all the story is a brilliant, energetic and funny classic which young children seem to love joining in with.

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      • More +
        05.09.2013 23:51
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        An absolute must for any Harry Potter fan

        Since the day I read the first book in one sitting I have always been a huge Harry Potter fan. I love the books and I loved the films. So as you can imagine I was just a little bit excited when my friend announced that her birthday present to me this year was to take me to the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour. I knew that various friends had been before and rated it highly so my expectations were high right from the start.

        You cannot just turn up at the studio tour; tickets must be bought in advance. I think this is a good thing as it means that they only allocate a certain number of visitors for each tour time slot meaning that it is never going to be so crowded that you can't enjoy it properly. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling their call centre. A great feature here is that you can buy "gift tickets" so for example if you wanted to buy tickets for someone as a surprise gift without having to steal their diary/attempt to guess at a day they might be free you can do. You purchase the tickets and they can use the website to book their day and time slot.

        If you are booking the timeslot there and then the website is easy to use and you will be send an email confirmation of the tickets. You can also opt for them to be sent to you. My friend booked ours online but somehow managed to delete her booking confirmation. She rung them using the number on the website and they were very helpful and gave her all the information she needed. It is also worth noting here that if you want to change the day of your visit once booked you can do but it will cost you a £10 fee to change the booking.

        Adult tickets cost £30, children (age 5 to 15) cost £22 and under fives are free although you still need to order a ticket for them. There are some family ticket options available which cost £89 for 2 adults and 2 children or 1 adult and 3 children. You can pay a bit extra for "The Complete Studio Tour Package" (£39 for adults, £32 for children) which includes a digital guide and souvenir guidebook. To be honest I don't think the digital guide is necessary as there is so much brilliant information around the studios and the staff there will tell you anything you want to know. We saw a few people with them but they almost looked like a bit of a hassle as to watch the videos you need to stand still and obviously find somewhere to do this without getting in the way of others. However, the guide is narrated in several languages so might be interesting for guests who would find it difficult to read all of the information around the studio.

        The website is well designed and very useful as it explains how the tour works, what to expect and how to get there.


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        Getting there and Arrival
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        We live in Sussex (South East England) and according to the SatNav and Google maps it should have taken us around 2 hours to get to the studio tour which is in Watford (North West London). Our slot was at 2.30pm but we decided to leave at 10am to give us plenty of time to get there (they ask that you arrive 20 mins before your time slot) and time to stop for lunch on the way there.

        We didn't want to be late as it does state that they cannot guarantee you entry if you miss your slot and with the unpredictability of the M25 we thought it best to leave plenty of time.

        We made the mistake of going on a bank holiday weekend and ended up spending hours sat on the M25. As a result we didn't get time to stop for lunch and spend 4 hours in the car trying to get there in time. The stress of being sat still or moving at snail pace on the motorway was eased by our general excitement and the fact that I had brought a Harry potter and Ron Weasley cardboard mask for my friend and I which she alternated between whilst I drove to entertain our fellow drivers. We enjoyed making so many people laugh and smile and even managed to stop a couple of young children throwing tantrums much to their parents delight.

        As we finally arrived at the studios (which was brilliantly sign posted) we were greeted by car park staff directing us to a space. The car park is huge and well organised. We headed towards the outside ticket booths where we could collect our tickets (there were also self-service machines). There was almost no queue as it was so well organised and we managed to collect our tickets quickly using our booking number. The only thing here that is not obviously mentioned on the website is that they ask everyone for ID when you collect your pre-booked tickets. Luckily my friend had some but she hadn't expected to be asked for it. The lady at the ticket desk was lovely and cheerful which just added to our already over excited state!

        We made our way into the building and were wowed by the huge photos on the wall of some of the Harry Potter characters as well as the flying car suspended from the ceiling. Off of the foyer area there was a café which we just had time to grab a sandwich in. They did hot and cold food as well as a variety of drinks. There wasn't the biggest choice in terms of sandwiches but we both found something we wanted and it was pleasant and not insanely expensive. The café was busy but we managed to grab a space at a table. There are plenty of toilets available before going into the tour so no need to queue and they were perfectly clean. There is a kiosk where you can hire the digital guides as well as checking coats, bags and pushchairs into a cloakroom for a small fee (you can take buggies into the tour but they suggest you don't).

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        The Tour
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        You can start queuing to enter the tour 20 minutes before your time slot. Whilst you queue you walk past "the cupboard under the stairs" where Harry slept in the first film. There is a real buzz of excitement and we didn't feel like we were queuing for too long before we were led into a large room where we were welcomed by an enthusiastic member of staff and shown a short video. It felt like there were about 100 of us but wasn't too cramped or crowded.

        Next we were led into a cinema room with comfortable chairs where we sat and watched an introduction to the tour by some of the actors. This was interesting without being too long. It explained that all of the props, sets, costumes etc were from the actual film and that the studios were where much of the actual filming took place.

        We were moved on through to the doors of the great hall. As we entered it, although it seemed smaller than it looks in the films, we were just filled with awe being there where so much action had taken place. A guide with a microphone gave some more information and pointed out some key features in the great hall. We were able to walk around and take in some of the detail whilst the guide continued to talk. There were some costumes in here and it was fascinating to see them up close. You can take as many photos as you want so we took a few before we were free to move on to the next stage of the tour.

        From this point forwards to are free to go at your own pace. The next area is a large studio with hundreds of props, costumes, wigs etc as well as parts of the set such as Dumbledore's office, Hagrids hut and so on. There is plenty of interesting information to read and we found that although there were a lot of people, you didn't have to push your way to the front to see things and although it is behind barriers you are close enough to get a really good look. In this first studio there is also a room where you can pay extra to get a film of yourself "riding a broom" against a green screen.

        As you move out of this section of the tour you are reminded politely by the staff that it is a one way system so to make sure you are happy you have seen everything as once you move on to the next section you can't go back. This makes sense and works well to ensure the tour does not get too congested whilst still allowing people to spend as much time as they want in each section. We moved outside to the courtyard which fortunately had some covered areas as it was raining. There is another café here and you can buy a butterbeer. There are only two places in the world you can buy an official butterbeer (the other being in Florida) so we took up the opportunity. It was pretty foul so we were glad we only bought one to share! In the outside area we were very excited to see the outside of Privet Drive as well as Harry's parent's house where they were killed by Voldemort. There is also one of Hagrid's motorcycle's (several were made for the film) as well as another model of the flying car here that you can get in to have your photo taken. Unfortunately some children were hogging it so we didn't get a turn! There is also part of the Hogwarts bridge that you can walk along.

        Next you move into another studio where there are lots of the masks and some wax models used in the films (these are quite scary as they are so realistic). There were some electronics and information on how things work. There is also the HUGE spider Aragog suspended from the ceiling which was very unpleasant! There is plenty to look at here and again you can spend as much time as you want before you move on. As you walk through you find yourself in the set of Diagon Alley which is almost a bit overwhelming as you feel like you have actually stepped into the film. Next are some of the hundreds of sketches and designs from the films as well as some paintings and paper scale models. The next part of the tour is the scale model of Hogwarts. The model is just phenomenal and there is a real change in the atmosphere as you walk into this section as everyone is just in complete awe. You can walk around the model and read information about it. There is quiet music playing and the lighting changes which just make it even more wonderful. This is definitely one of my favourite parts of the tour as it is just so spectacular that it has to be seen to be appreciated.

        Finally you walk into the inside of Ollivanders' wand store where all 17000 wand boxes have been labelled by hand. There is a wand for every member of the cast and crew and the staff in this area are amazing and seem to be able to direct you to the wand of any character you can think of.

        You leave through the gift shop which is the only area of the whole tour that was ridiculously over crowded. It was unbearably busy so we only had a quick look before making our exit. It is a shame as everything seems ridiculously overpriced.


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        The Practicalities.
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        The tour is wheelchair friendly although you should let them know at the time of booking. There are plenty of clean toilets situated throughout the tour which include disabled and baby changing facilities. There are a few areas throughout the tour to sit down although the cafes can be quite busy.

        They suggest that you should allow around three and a half hours to complete the tour. We were there for around 3 hours and enjoyed the fact that we could look round at our own pace.

        The staff are brilliant, very friendly, enthusiastic and extremely knowledgeable They come across as being very helpful and there is always someone around if you need any help or extra information.

        There is an extra charge for the green screen broomstick ride although it does look pretty impressive. We didn't do this as there was quite a bit queue.


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        Overall
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        We absolutely loved our afternoon at the studio tour. We were so hyped up before we even left that it could well have not lived up to our high expectations but it absolutely did. It was utterly amazing, breath-taking in parts and hugely interesting to a Harry Potter fan. When we got home we wanted to watch all of the films again to look at them from a whole new perspective. In fact we have now decided that we want to go again at some point as there is just so much to take in that you could easily do it a second time.

        It's not the cheapest day out but it is incredible and in my opinion well worth it. The staff and atmosphere as a whole are fantastic and it is very well organised and managed which makes is completely stress free. There were quite a few children there who seemed to be interested and excited but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it for younger children who probably wouldn't be able to appreciate it properly. However for any Harry Potter fans, I definitely recommend this as a wonderful day out that you will spend days raving about to anyone that will listen.

        The only real negatives are that it took us so long to get there and that no one will ever want to watch the films with me again as I insist on pausing them every few seconds to look at certain things that I have seen a the tour or to share my newly acquired 'interesting facts'.

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        • Fold Hill Click 'n' Treat / Dog Food / 57 Readings / 56 Ratings
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          05.09.2013 00:07
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          A great concept. just a shame the design isn't good enough.

          This product has caused me some degree of frustration over the last few years and although it does have it's benefits it is also incredibly annoying.

          Before actually purchasing my Click n Treat I encountered the need for it on several occasions. After training my gorgeous puppy Bonnie (a Labrador cross Border Collie) to do the basics such as; 'sit', 'lay down', 'give paw', 'drop it', 'don't wee in my shoe', 'stop rolling in fox poo', 'dead birds don't make nice presents', etc; it was time to do the training needed for a successful walk off the lead (such as recall and don't jump up at people sort of stuff).

          Faced with the prospect of taking Bonnie for her first ever off the lead walk, the importance of having lots and lots of treats for bribery became obvious. Unfortunately, stuffing my pockets with squidgy, smelly or crumbling treats didn't really appeal too much. For the first couple of times I tried various containers and bags which I found around the house but they were by no means ideal and often resulted in fumble to try and get a treat out when Bonnie did something good, or the treats spilling out into my pocket and resulting in precisely the situation I wanted to avoid.

          Stressed by the whole ordeal of taking treats out on a walk, I spent a fair bit of time wandering the pet supply aisle of my local Tesco's looking for a treat that would be suitable to just put in my pocket. It was only then that I came across the click 'n' treat which seemed like the solution to all my problems!! The Click 'n' Treat cost me around £3 and this included the treats in it.

          The Click 'n' Treat itself is a green oval shaped tube which is filled with small circular shaped brown (fairly bland looking) treats which are dispensed through the bottom of the Click 'n' Treat when the top is pressed down. During the dispensing of a treat, a click noise is made which helps with training as the dog links the click sound with doing something well and getting a treat. In theory you can eventually use just a clicker to reward your pet rather than filling them up on treats.

          Whilst I brought mine in Tesco, I have also seen them available in Asda, other supermarkets and most pet stores. The treats are very basic and low in calories so you can give your pet quite a few in one day. The Click 'n' Treat holds a fair number of the little treats which is more than enough for a good two or three long walks. The treats, although they look bland, they do appeal to Bonnie but are certainly not her favourite. You can purchase refill packs of treats anywhere that the click 'n' treat is available.

          When trying out the Click 'n' Treat for the first time I was very excited and had high expectations of it. I used it to perfect Bonnie's recall response and when I called her and she returned, she would get a treat. This worked fabulously on the first two goes but I soon realised that it may not be as good as I thought. Pretty much every other time I tried to dispense a treat it would jam in the mechanism which upon inspection seemed very poorly designed. Unfortunately, not only did this result in my own frustration, but poor Bonnie would be sitting by me, tail wagging and waiting for her treat which I fumbled around with the stupid thing trying to un-jam it and actually get a treat out for her. Soon she would get very bored of waiting and wander off and roll in something or eat a squirrel. It actually seemed to be having an adverse effect on her behaviour rather than enforcing good behaviour.

          The idea behind the Click 'n' Treat is great. It not only is a clean, hassle free and compact way of transporting and storing dog treats but it also dispenses them in an (in theory) easy and quick way. If only it worked properly, it would be an incredibly useful tool to anyone who wishes to use treats to reward their dog for good behaviour.

          Whilst I am very disappointed with this product and unimpressed at just how much it doesn't actually work, I do continue to use it when out walking with Bonnie. Over time and with lots of practise I am now able to fairly quickly 'fix' the Click 'n' Treat every time it breaks and get a treat out for Bonnie. Bonnie is now well behaved when we go out for walks and rarely needs the reinforcement but I do try and do some training work with her every time we go out, if only just to stimulate her and make her think. I am sure she actually finds the Click 'n' Treat fairly amusing as when she comes up to me for a treat, if she sees the Click 'n' Treat jam up she makes a "sigh" noise and lays down on my feet while I fix it.

          Whilst the concept is good, sadly I cannot really recommend this product as the design just isn't good enough. You may question why I continue to use the Click 'n' Treat if it frustrates me so much - the simple answer to that is that I have found no suitable alternative.

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          • More +
            04.09.2013 00:05
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            A cheap and tasty tin of beans

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            ASDA Smart Price Baked Beans
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            Beans, beans are good for your heart, the more you eat them the more you.......

            At home I always used to have Heinz baked beans and loved them but once I became a poor student I soon realised that I couldn't afford such luxuries. At 28p for a 410g tin the ASDA smartprice baked beans aren't going to break the bank and are less than half the price of a tin of Heinz.

            I was utterly convinced that the beans would taste foul and reluctantly opened the tin, half expecting it to only contain about 5 actual beans (and for them to be horribly mutated) So I was pleasantly surprised to see that the tin was packed full of beans and they looked no different to a tin of Heinz.

            The product contains no colours or preservatives and the whole can only contains 0.8g of fat and 288 calories. I heated up half of the tin of beans as instructed on the can (4 minutes on the hob or 3 minutes in the microwave) and poured them onto my plate next to my mash potato (my staple diet as student). The beans looked no different on my plate than the more expensive brands do, but I still wasn't convinced that they would be edible.

            When I tasted the beans I was actually quite impressed. The texture of the beans was just right, smooth, nice and firm but not too hard. The sauce was tasty, not too salty, bland or sweet, just tomatoey! The thickness of the sauce was the same as more expensive brands, so it wasn't too watered down or too thick for that matter. They aren't exactly the same as heinz but I cannot really fault the taste of the beans or the sauce and I would even go as far as to say that they were nice and I enjoyed them.

            The tin, which the beans come in, is quite thin compared to the more expensive brands but I assume this helps keep the product low cost (although it does mean that if you drop the tin it isn't going to do it much good). You will also need a tin opener to open the can as there is no fancy ring pull here.

            The tin says that the beans are suitable for vegetarians and the tin should be stored in a cool, dry space. Once opened, any unused contents should be placed in a non-metallic bowl, refrigerated and eaten within two days.

            Since my first encounter with these beans I have brought them several times since. When I have more money I do tend to go for Heinz especially if they are on offer but I think that is just because I am a secret snob. In reality, these are perfectly suitable for my bean related needs and mean a big saving. They are tasty, cheap and relatively good for you.

            If you are still sceptical, give them a try, its not going to break the bank and if you like them which I'm sure you will, then it could end up saving you a fair bit of money.

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            • More +
              01.09.2013 23:47
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              Cheap razors - you get what you pay for (awful)

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              The Purchase
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              Usually I would buy more expensive razors based on the theory that the more expensive ones will work better and I am less likely to injure myself with them. However whilst browsing the razor shelves in Tesco's I saw these cheap looking bic razors at just 95p for a pack of 5 and decided I would give them a try. After all, they were hardly going to break the bank and if I was unimpressed I could rant about them on here!

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              The Packet
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              The packaging isn't particularly attractive and does not really stand out. The packet is made of a cheap plastic material, similar to the packaging of a packet of crisps. You obviously don't get any of the fancy cases, holders etc that you get with some of the more expensive razors. However, cheap, minimal packaging helps keep the price low, is better for the environment and at the end of the day the packet does it's job.

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              The Razor Itself
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              The razors are a light pink colour with a small white 'bic' logo on the handle. The head of the razor is covered with a pink blade cover, which is hygienic and also prevents you cutting yourself if you pick it up by the wrong end (goodness knows who would do that but never mind!) the blade cover clips off to reveal a white plastic head containing one measly blade. However I decided that I shouldn't judge yet as it may work just as well as my usual triple blade razors (oh how naïve I was!!)

              The razor is just over 11cm long and the head is 4cm wide. They are clearly made as cheaply as possible as the handle is hollow and the plastic feels very cheap and minimal.

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              What Bic Claim
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              Amusingly Bic claim that the single blade razor is designed for easy cleaning (hmmmm whatever) and that it gives women a 'silky smooth shave' (and pigs can fly). They also claim that the long handles allow you to have greater control (yes you can select where you want the slices on your legs).

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              The Legs Test
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              Well I had a party to go to on the evening of the day I brought the razors so I decided I would give them a try seeing as I was wearing a skirt and didn't want my legs looking like a grisly bears. I carefully lathered my legs in shaving foam and then picked up the bic razor. As I began to run it up my leg I realised that after about 3cm of movement it was so clogged up with foam that it wasn't doing anything. So I patiently rinsed it and began again, only to experience the same problem. The combination of the single blade and badly designed head resulted in it taking me about 8 minutes just to shave one leg (and even then it looked like a bit of a botched job) .

              I soon realised that it was utterly hopeless using the amount of shaving foam that I would usually use so on the next leg I tried to use the minimum amount of foam possible. BIG MISTAKE. This resulted in my legs looking like something from the chain saw massacre. As there is not protective wire over the blade and the blade does not seem to be designed for human legs, it managed to cause about 9 cuts on my leg despite me being very cautious. I should probably mention that I have only cut myself shaving once before and I was incredibly drunk so these razors must be lethal if I can cut myself with them sober!

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              Results Of The Legs Test
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              The first leg which had taken a great deal of time (shaving about 2cm of leg at a time before rinsing the razor!) didn't seem to bad in terms of hair removal. The effect wasn't as good as what I get with my usual razors but the leg looked pretty presentable. My other leg however was a different story. It seemed to be covered in cuts and stung like hell. After applying some sudocrem to the cuts I realised that my legs were feeling very dry, sore and uncomfortable. I don't normally have this problem.

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              The Armpits Test
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              When it came to my armpits I had the same problem as with my legs in that the single blade got so clogged up with foam so quickly that it took absolutely ages to actually shave properly. I also found that despite Bic claiming that the single blade makes it easy to clean, it was quite difficult to remove the foam from the razor. By some minor miracle I managed to avoid any cuts on my armpits but it wasn't what I would call a pleasant shaving experience.

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              Results Of The Armpits Test
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              My armpits felt sore and certainly not smooth after using the razor. After getting out the shower I examined the results in the mirror and actually had to get back in and go over them again as the razor had left patches of hair. All in all - not a pleasant armpit shaving session.

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              Comparisons
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              After being so appalled by the results of this razor I decided to make a few comparisons to the Gillette three blade razors which I usually use to give an idea of how much better you can get for just a little bit more money!
              - The overall aesthetics of the razor are nowhere near as good as the other razors I use.
              - The single blade was awkward to use and did not get anywhere near the effects that I get from my usual razor.
              - The lack of an aloe (or similar) strip left my legs feeling uncomfortable after shaving.
              - The Bic razor did not leave my legs feeling at all smooth whereas my normal razor leaves my legs feeling smooth and soft.
              - The Bic razor resulted in numerous cuts whereas I have almost never cut myself with my usual razor.
              - The handle is not easy to grip whereas my usual razor has a special rubber handle so my hand doesn't slip on it and I don't end up injuring myself.
              - The head of the Bic razor is rigid whereas my usual razor has a head, which moves to fit the contours of my legs so I get a closer shave.
              - With the Bic razor I needed to go over the same area multiple times to remove all the hair, whereas with my usual razor I only have to go over one area once to remove all of the hair.

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              Overall
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              I was disappointed with this razor but I suppose that you cannot expect much if you are only paying 95p for 5 razors. The only real advantage I can think of is the cheapness of these razors. If someone does not have the money to spend on more expensive razors then I suppose these are the only option. However you would only want to use each razor once as the blade goes blunt after one use. Whereas if you purchased slightly more expensive disposable razors then not only would you get better quality razors but I find that you can use the razors a few times before throwing them away so perhaps in the long run it works out just as economical as buying the really cheap Bic razors. I personally feel that the Bic razors have far too many disadvantages including, pain, hassle, injuries and discomfort, all of which are enough to put you off buying the product again. Unfortunately, I do not feel this is a good product at all.

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              Recommendation?
              ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
              Not unless you want your legs sliced and diced.

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              • More +
                25.08.2013 23:30
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                A game that isn't great for the anxiety but may entertain the kids for a while

                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                Crocodile Dentist
                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                We have hundreds of old children's games kicking around, many of which are covered in dust now that we are all older and busier. During a power cut we pulled out a pile of games to play by candle light.

                In the pile of games was Crocodile Dentist. It probably hadn't seen daylight (and technically still hadn't due to it being candle light!) for around 8 years. The game is a simple one which two or more players can take part in. Although ideally you wouldn't really want more than 4-5 players otherwise it wouldn't work so well.

                The game consists of a green plastic crocodile, which has a large head and face and a very small body. The crocodile has a hinged jaw and its bottom jaw has a row of white plastic teeth which are to be removed as part of the game.

                No batteries are required which is useful, and to set up the game you simply install all of the plastic teeth into the crocodiles lower jaw. Press the button down which is in the back of his mouth and you are ready to play. To play, the players take turns in each removing a tooth from the crocodiles mouth using the yellow plastic pliers which are provided. During each game one of the teeth (this is a different tooth each time) is the tooth which upon its removal the crocodile will snap its jaws and roll forwards at you (it is on wheels). As you often need to wiggle the teeth a little bit to get them out this adds to the suspense. The person who the crocodile snaps at is the loser.

                It is a very simplistic game which whilst fun to play a couple of games of, will not hold you attention for long. When I was younger I remember being so terrified of the crocodile snapping at my hand that I had a phase of not actually liking the game at all! The crocodile itself is brightly coloured and does look fun which appeals to younger children. The game is recommended for children over the age of four years old which I would definitely agree with as it can be a little bit of a struggle to pull out the teeth and for younger children who's fine motor skills are going to be less developed they may find it difficult resulting in frustration and possible tantrums!

                The crocodile has clearly been made well in terms of its durability as we have had ours for many many years and it is still in very good condition. It feels robust and would not break easily. In fact the only damage is to the box ours lives in as it has gradually fallen apart and has needed a touch of sellotape to enable it to contain the crocodile. As the game is so simple there is no need for an instruction document and therefore the instructions are printed on the bottom of the box which is useful and saves paper. One of the teeth in our game has gone missing but the game still works in it's absence so this is not a problem.

                My version of this game was purchased over fifteen ago but the game is still going strong as it is still widely available in most toy shops. It now costs around £9.99 and as far as I have seen has not altered at all other than the box it comes in being different.

                I think this game works well as a simple one to be brought out every now and again but it is a game that children will get bored of fairly quickly. It is not a game that adults would really enjoy playing without children as it really is just too simplistic. Although, saying that I could also see possible potential for dragging it out and playing amongst friends whilst incredibly intoxicated! In terms of an ideal age I think it would most appeal to children aged around 6 to 10 years old. It does have its advantages in that it doesn't require batteries which is useful. Also it is simple enough for children to play without getting impatient at having to listen to a long list of instructions. The game itself is well made. Due to the nature of the teeth being small parts it's a good idea to supervise children - more on the basis that it seems to amuse children to place the crocodile teeth in their mouth to impress others! My brother used to do this and it is quite possible that this is how one of the teeth went missing.

                Its not a game that I would strongly recommend as it is not as exciting as it could have been and whilst mine is evidence that it will last a good few years and still be brought out years later to be played with - I think that many people would feel that it was not that good in terms of value for money. I am therefore only able to rate is as satisfactory.


                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                Other Edition
                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                I am aware that there is also another version of this game (also called crocodile dentist) which is exactly the same principle other than rather than pulling the teeth out - the teeth are fixed and you take turns in pressing them down and if you are the unlucky one the crocodile snaps at your hand. Whilst I can see that this may have its advantages in that there are no small bits to the game - surely this limits the entertainment value even more? Also it's more likely to terrify younger children (and me) who do not want a plastic crocodile snapping at their hands!

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                • More +
                  24.08.2013 23:12
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                  A nice bold, easy to apply eyeliner

                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                  Rimmel Exaggerate Liquid Eyeliner
                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                  I purchased my Rimmel Exaggerate Liquid Eyeliner for £4.49 from my local Tescos. My reasons for choosing this brand was simply that it was the only black liquid eyeliner that Tescos stocked at the time. There seemed to be only three shades available, which were black, brown and a navy blue colour. I wanted a bold black so went with the black shade and hoped that it would be what I wanted.

                  The eye liner comes in a small black bottle and the lid of the bottle is the handle for the brush. It is quite long which helps give good control when using the eyeliner. The brush end is more of a small cone shaped sponge which I have found is much better than the brush applicators that many eyeliners come with as it allows more accurate application and you can get much straighter lines.

                  When I first try any new eyeliner I usually have to practise a few times before being able to use it successfully but was quite pleased with the effect I got when using this eyeliner for the first time. To apply it you need to get quite close to a mirror, keep a steady hand (it sometimes helps to rest your elbow on something or to rest the lower part of your hand on your cheek) and slowly and gently sweep the applicator brush along your top eyelid just above the eyelashes. The tapered sponge applicator makes it possible to do some dramatic 'flick' effects at the edges of your eyes if you wish to.

                  Once applied the eyeliner looks bold, neat and smooth, I was a little concerned that I may have a mild allergic reaction to it as my eyes usually react to anything I put on them but was pleasantly surprised as I had no reaction whatsoever. The eyeliner is easily removed with makeup remover or makeup wipes which means if you make a mistake it isn't too much of a hassle as you can just wipe it off and start again. It also means that if you are wearing it daily you don't have to spend every evening frantically scrubbing at your eyelids to get it off as it comes off nicely. This does however have its disadvantages in that if it rains or if you cry you instantly look like a panda! I have found that at the beginning of the day it stays put very well but by the end of the day if I rub my eyes it can smudge across my face a little although this is easily solved by remembering not to rub my eyes.

                  The bottle contains a decent amount of the eyeliner as I have been using it daily for a good few months now and it still hasn't run out so it is definitely worth the money. However I have noticed that the applicator brush has started to get quite worn out and where it was initially a neat sponge it is now falling apart a little bit! It is still usable but its harder to apply neat straight lines so I took this as a sign to buy a new one to have on stand by for when my current one eventually dies.

                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                  Summary of the Positives:
                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                  - Reasonable price
                  - Good value for the money
                  - Good applicator making it easy to get neat, straight lines
                  - Doesn't give me an allergic reaction
                  - Bold black colour
                  - Lasts a long time
                  - Can be removed easily with make up remover
                  - Is widely available in most places that sell cosmetics


                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                  Summary of the Negatives:
                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                  - The sponge gets worn out over time and makes it harder to apply neatly
                  - Can smudge easily if you rub your eyes, cry or if it rains


                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                  Overall
                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                  I love this eyeliner, it is one of the best liquid eyeliner that I have come across so far and I will definitely continue to use it. If you want a bold, easy to apply, attractive eyeliner to draw attention to your eyes then I would recommend it.

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                  • JML Invisible Bra / Clothing / 69 Readings / 69 Ratings
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                    23.08.2013 12:49
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                    A reasonable product but expensive for what it is.

                    At the time I brought this I had seen various adverts on television and in shops for the JML invisible bra and thought it was a good idea but wasn't convinced that it would really be very effective. I certainly wasn't prepared to pay £20 for one, however a few weeks later I realized that I had £20 worth of Amazon vouchers and that they were selling the JML invisible bra for £19.97. I decided to buy one with my vouchers and see what it was like.

                    The bra consists of two silicone cups which are joined together with a small plastic clasp. The bra comes in a preservation tray which stops it getting damaged by dust, and losing its stickyness. The outer side of the bra is smooth and feels a bit weird when you first touch it... a bit like a dead fish! The inside of the bra has the adhesive which keeps it stuck to you and so it obviously feels very sticky to the touch (I soon realized that its not a good idea to get dust or dirt near this bit as it sticks to it and is a nightmare to get off).

                    The bra is backless and strapless and claims that it gives the effect of a fuller cleavage, can be used on its own under clothing or as bra enhancer pads. The bra seems to be mainly designed for use when you are wearing an outfit where you don't want bra straps or back showing. There are a couple of leaflets supplied which give information on how to wear and care for the bra.

                    The instructions say to wash your chest area with soap and water (I assume this is to stop the adhesive of the bra getting dirty and losing its stick!) Once you have dried the skin you apply the bra by standing in front of a mirror and holding one of the bra cups around the edge and then placing it on to the centre of the breast (you can adjust the position to increase or decrease the amount of cleavage). Once one cup is applied you apply the other one in the same way and in the same position on the other breast, then gently press each cup in the centre to make sure it is properly stuck! Once the cups are applied you can do up the clasp in between them and then the bra is fully applied.

                    I found that the bra was actually surprisingly easy to apply and I had a go at moving the cups further apart to give more cleavage but eventually found a position that I preferred. I had brought the largest size of the bra (C-D cup) but it was pushing it as realistically I am size DD, but it seemed to fit ok. My chest felt heavier than if I had been wearing a proper bra but other than that it did feel surprisingly comfortable considering what it was. Looking in the mirror it did look a bit strange but I suppose it isn't really designed as sexy underwear! I put on a few strapless top to see how it looked under different clothing and found that it looked best under loser fitting tops as tops that were tight and made from a thin material made the bra look a bit odd as it looked bulgy. Under some items of clothing it looked fine although seemed to work best with dressed that already had some level of support built in (ie halter neck tops).

                    I found that the suitability of the bra much depends on what you will be doing and what you will be wearing it under. Wearing it out clubbing is not something I would recommend as it doesn't give the best support for dancing and if you sweat it feels uncomfortable. However if you are going somewhere where you aren't planning on dancing around much and want to wear a top or dress that looks silly with a bra then this product has its uses. I actually found that I have used it more under a normal, bra to give extra boost and better cleavage.

                    I wasn't sure how it would feel to remove the bra but it wasn't at all uncomfortable, it was just a case of peeling off one cup at a time from the edge. When you remove the bra you end up with some of the sticky adhesive stuff on your skin and so you need to wash the area with soap and water (or I use face wipes as they are quicker and easier!), As soon as you have used the bra you need to put it back in the preservation tray to stop it getting damaged. It can be washed by hand and there are the relevant cleaning instructions included in the box.

                    At the time the bra was is available in quite a few shops including Boots, Pound stretcher, Wilkinsons and in various online stores such as Amazon. It seems to still be available online. The bra costs around £19.99 in most shops and a little bit less on the internet. The bra comes in the sizes A-B, B-C and C-D.

                    Overall I was relatively impressed with the bra, although it looks small, it does have a positive effect. It is easy to apply, feels more comfortable than I would have expected it to feel (although obviously isn't as comfortable as a normal bra!) I like the way that you can vary the amount of cleavage as you can adjust it for ways that look best for different outfits. Being washable is a nice advantage as you don't have to worry about it looking or smelling foul! The preservation tray is great for storing the bra although it does take up a bit of space. The bra can be used over and over again and the adhesive is nice and strong so once you have applied it, it doesn't move or fall off. I've had mine for about 8 years and it still works. It was nice and easy to remove but the stickiness left behind is a little bit of a pain as you need to wash it off.

                    It's not the most attractive or effective product in the world but for me I have found it better than wearing no bra. As I said above, I have sound it most effective under a proper bra to give better uplift and cleavage for certain outfits. Overall I think it is a reasonable product although rather expensive for what it is.

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                    • ELC Foam Tennis Balls / Outdoor Toy / 69 Readings / 68 Ratings
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                      21.08.2013 21:34
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                      Great foam balls ideal for young children

                      Although I do not have children of my own I do seem to have a large toy box in my front room for my 2 year old God daughter when she comes to play. On the rare occasion that I get time to hit the shops I always have a little browse of the toy shops to see if there are any bargains suitable for the toy box. A year or so ago I discovered this set of 3 foam balls in the Early Learning Centre (ELC) costing only £2. I have always been a fan of ELC toys due to their quality so I picked up a pack.

                      The pack contains three foam balls (each is the size of a standard tennis ball); one red, one blue and one yellow. You can squeeze them and they are soft enough that even at full pelt they aren't going to do you any real harm or break a window. Although they are soft and you could obviously pick at the foam, they are robust enough that they aren't going to fall apart on their own. Mine have been well played with for a good year and are still in a great condition...well...apart from the one the dog got at. They aren't advertised for dogs and as expected, if a dog chews one they will eventually demolish it. Sadly Bonnie thought that the blue one was for her and chewed it to death a couple of months ago.

                      My god daughter for who they were initially brought for has loved them. She first started playing with them when she was 1 and enjoyed squishing them and rolling them around. As she has gotten older she has moved more towards throwing and catching. I think the fact that they are soft and squishy helps with the catching as it is easier to keep hold of. She loves them and always gets them out of the box and throws them enthusiastically across my flat giggling. Knowing that they aren't going to break anything makes me happy and when it comes to tidy up time they can be squashed easily into the rather full toy boy without taking up to much space.

                      We have also taken them outside a few times. On a nice day they are great as you can throw them a reasonable distance but they aren't going to fly off into the distance never to be seen again. On a windy day they are not as great outside as being light weight they get caught in the wind more easily and accuracy whilst throwing becomes a challenge. But overall we have enjoyed using them both indoors and out for various throwing , catching and rolling games as well as target practice (throwing them into pots etc) all of which are going to help a toddler's development, in particular their hand - eye co-ordination and spatial awareness. It also helps that they are in three different colours as this can become part of the game and is educational.

                      That would be the end of the review had I not found other uses for these little balls of joy. Being a teacher in a secondary school I am always on the lookout for ways to engage a class of grumpy teenagers. In particular, I like to throw things at them. Not as a form of punishment of course but as a way of engaging them in the lesson! I have used cuddly toys before as part of questioning activities (ie I throw it to someone, they ask or answer a question and then throw it to the next person) but cuddly toys tend to provide too much distraction when someone wants to cuddle it (usually a 15 year old boy I might add) and holds up the activity or someone tries to put it in compromising positions etc. I have also tried beach balls but they can be thrown a bit too violently into someones face. I found that using one of these foam coloured balls was ideal as no one could injure anyone with it and it didn't cause the same level of distraction as a bear would. The students love the opportunity to lob it across the classroom especially at some unsuspecting victim who is too busy looking at her nails or whispering to her friend. As a result I get much better engagement with class questioning!

                      A further use for these balls is as a stress ball/distraction technique. A friend of mine was having a cosmetic procedure which she would be awake for and was very anxious. I was taking her and as a last minute thought popped one of these foam balls in my bag. Once there I handed it to her as a distraction and she spent the whole time squeezing it and passing it from hand to hand. A few months later as we went to her next treatment, she asked me to bring it again as she said it had really helped!

                      The balls are a good quality, better than cheaper variations. Of course if your child bit into it or made a concerted effort to pick a chunk out of it they could but they aren't going to break from day to day use. To conclude I would say that they were a brilliant and worthwhile addition to my toybox and have proved to have additional uses that I hadn't initially anticipated. I think they were a perfectly reasonable price, especially as you are getting the Early Learning Centre quality. Five stars from me as I cannot fault them.

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                      • More +
                        18.08.2013 23:19
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                        An must for the first aid box

                        Sudocrem. Now we all know it as 'bum cream' for babies but I think it's many other uses are often overlooked.
                        Sudocrem comes in an antiseptic healing cream that promises to sooth and heal nappy rash. It also suggests that it can be used to treat eczema, bed sores, sunburn, minor burns, surface wounds, acne and chilblains. It is a thick white cream that comes in pots of varying sizes (and also a small tube for travel). It contains a mild local anaesthetic so it soothes pain and doesn't sting when you apply it.
                        As a child, I always remember a cut or graze being given the Sudocrem treatment and it has always been a staple in the first aid kit.

                        Nappy Rash - Although I don't have my own children, my best friends little girl is a regular visitor at my house. Back in the days where nappy rash was a problem, a couple of day's use of Sudocrem tended to clear it right up. The cream is quite thick but a little goes a long way so a pot of this stuff lasts forever
                        Cuts and Grazes - As an adult I tend to acquire more injuries that I ever did as a child. I'm not really sure how or why but whenever I get a cut or graze I tend to whack a bit of Sudocrem on it (usually overnight so that I don't smudge it over my clothes etc.) and I feel that it does make a difference with helping it heal. In particular when I get an accidental scratch from the dog and there is the extra risk of infection I always us a bit of Sudocrem for the antiseptic properties.

                        Sunburn and Burns - To be honest I don't usually burn but somehow at the beginning of the summer I came home from a day out with a bright red sunburn face that was so raw and so painful that aftersun just wasn't cutting it. I would apply aftersun and my skin was so sore and so dry that it would absorb it within seconds giving almost no relief. Lying in bed unable to sleep I decided to give some Sudocrem a go and it was instant relief. I gave my face a coating of it (this looked hilarious) and it instantly soothed the burning. I slept with it on my face and by morning my skin looked so much better. For the next two nights I applied Sudocrem again and the burns healed really quickly without any pealing. Obviously I appreciate that it is important to prevent getting burnt in the first place but in the worst case scenario, I would always trust Sudocrem again for the relief and healing needed. The same goes for burns. I've lost count of the number of times I have burnt my hand/arm on the oven/iron/hair straighteners and Sudocrem always helps.

                        Spots - I am fortunate enough to have never had acne so can't comment on the claims that Sudocrem helps with it but I do get the occasional mega zit. Small spots I try to leave alone and let them do their thing naturally but working as a teacher means that when I have a beacon appear on my face I don't really want days of teenagers telling me that I have a spot (as if I don't know?!). As soon as one of these monstrosities appears I give it a dose of Sudocrem in the evening and another before bed/overnight and it makes it go down. In fact I read in a magazine once that there are celebrities that swear by Sudocrem as a way of getting rid of their spots quickly.

                        Chafing - For those horrible times where something has rubbed your skin and made it sure, whether it's the seam of your new jeans, the straps on your dress, your new shoes or just that you've been cycling and the bike seat has cause some unwanted rubbing, you can always rely on Sudocrem to give a bit of instant soothing and to work its healing magic.
                        Bites, stings and Allergies - I am allergic to most things so if a cat rubs against me, my skin goes mental and flares up. If I get bitten or stung I end up with anything from the size of a golf ball to a tennis ball appear at the site of the bite. My hay fever means that I can get random irritated patches of skin and I get the same from some food allergies. I use a variety of allergy medications, creams and treatments but on the occasions where these are not around I find that a bit of Sudocrem always helps the situation. I was bitten by a flying evil thing the other week and found myself at a friend's house without my usual bite cream and legs that I was about to scratch off due to the itching of the bites. I asked if she had any bite cream and she said no but that she had some Sudocrem if that would help (I am yet to meet someone that doesn't own Sudocrem). I applied some and it helped enough that I no longer wanted to amputate my own legs just to get rid of the itching. I'm sure the antiseptic healing properties won't do the bites any harm either. That said, I did then read the label and realise that her Sudocrem's expiry date was in 2008 so it was 5 years out of date! Looked, smelt and worked perfectly fine though!

                        Overall I can't rate Sudocrem highly enough. I much prefer it to some of alternatives and I feel it is very good value for money as you can buy a 125g pot for around £2.50 or a large 400g pot for around £6 and as a little goes a very long way it will last you forever. There are sizes available including a small tube. I do wonder whether it would be more hygienic for the product to always come in a tube as with the pot you are dipping your finger in it each time. That said, anyone with a bit of common sense will make sure it is a clean finger they are dipping in as well as hopefully not eating it, rubbing it in their eyes and so on...
                        For anyone that might be interested the active ingredients are: Zinc oxide, Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl benzoate, Benzyl cinnamate and Lanolin.

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                        • Dog Ball Thrower / Dog Accessory / 73 Readings / 72 Ratings
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                          17.08.2013 12:43
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                          A brilliant tool for dog walking

                          My dog Bonnie is a two year old Labrador cross Border Collie. Both these breeds are 'working dogs' and therefore she likes to be doing a job, whether its herding my pet rabbits around the house or fetching a ball. The Labrador part of her is a retrieving breed and therefore it is her instinct to fetch things such as balls, toys, and dirty horrible things that she finds in the garden (rotting apples are a favourite).

                          Bonnie is obsessed with playing with tennis balls. She loves nothing more than to play fetch over and over again. In fact, she expects it! The moment we enter the field, the woods or arrive at the beach she will run a few feet ahead of me, turn to face me and very clearly says "Woof" which is her way of saying "come on, get the ball out, I'm waiting to chase it". This all seems great and many dogs enjoy chasing a tennis ball, however there is a fundamental problem.


                          ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
                          The Problem
                          ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

                          Bonnie is a dirty disgusting hound. She adores mud and anything that smells or looks unbelievably vile. She also loves water and swimming in nasty swamps and ponds with thick brown water. When Bonnie comes across one of these things her urgency to get filthy means that where ever Bonnie goes, the ball goes. Resulting in her returning with something brown, wet and round that vaguely resembles a tennis ball. This is not something you want to be picking up with your hand in order to throw again. Bonnie isn't happy until the ball is thrown again so you end up with mud, fox poo, pond water and general yuckyness all over your hand and as soon as its wiped off she is back with the ball again!!!


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                          The Solution
                          ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

                          After months of this annoying and dirty problem we came across an invention that would change ball throwing for ever. The ball thrower.

                          The Ball Thrower is a long plastic handle (about 2 foot long) and on the end is a cup which is designed to hold a tennis ball. This means that when the ball is on the ground you can pick it up my pressing the cup over the ball and it will be firmly in the holder ready to throw. The main function of the Ball Thrower is to throw the ball....bet you didn't see that one coming eh!?! You hold the handle and with an overarm (or underarm if you wish) throwing/flicking motion you can throw the ball without ever having to touch it.

                          Using the Ball Thrower to throw a tennis ball also gives you the capability to throw it about four times as far as you could with your hand. This is a fantastic way to make a lazy dog run....or just to exercise a non lazy dog! By throwing underarm you can effectively roll the ball around the ground for a dog who struggles to work out where a ball that flies through the air will fall.


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                          Bonnie's Opinion
                          ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

                          Bonnie loves this device. She always gets very excited when she sees it as she knows we will be more keen to throw the ball for her!!! Chasing a ball is utter bliss for Bonnie so if she sees it fly a long way into the distance she can hardly contain her excitement.

                          Bonnie can now happily coat her tennis ball in any number of disgusting substances and know that when she returns it to me it will still be thrown. The only slight problem here is that Bonnie is quite polite, and rather than merely drop the ball at your feet she likes to place the ball in your hand. Therefore you can spend ages trying to convince her to put the ball on the ground whilst she is trying to thrust it into your hand!! However, this isn't a fault with the Ball Thrower, it is just that Bonnie has issues.

                          Another great thing about this device is that it helps distract Bonnie. For example, if we are strolling through a field and there is a dog and owner walking towards us yet the dog is on the lead or has a muzzle on. This would suggest that they are not going to appreciate Bonnie leaping around by them trying to get them to play (and also she has a terrible habit of helping dogs remove their muzzles and this isn't good!). Ideally the plan is to put her on the lead when walking past dogs like this but when there is not enough time to do that the Ball Thrower is an ideal distraction as by holding the ball up in the air and getting Bonnie excited about it I can then throw it in another direction from the dog and Bonnie will run to the ball rather than the dog. If done strategically the dog will now have passed by and all is calm. The same method can sometimes be used to distract her from diving into a pond although ponds are often just too irresistible.

                          Bonnie also tends to find it highly amusing to drop a ball at your feet and then snatch it back as you bend down to pick it up. With the Ball Thrower you can put your foot on the ball and then use the Ball Thrower to scoop it up. Fantastic.

                          As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, Bonnie's breeds mean that she likes to "work". A favourite job of hers is to find something using her sense of smell. The Ball Thrower means you can throw the ball into long grass and Bonnie will frantically scan the area for smells of the ball. It has often been the case that she forgets the smell of what she is looking for and will actually run back to me and stick her nose against the Ball Thrower cup, that has been holding the ball to help her remember the scent. Genius.

                          There are various versions of the Ball Thrower in pet shops, some with shorter handles (these tend to throw further although you have to bend down more to scoop up the ball!) Pets at Home sell the Ball Thrower for around £9 but I have also seen them as cheap as £4 in smaller petshops and supermarkets.


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                          The good points
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                          * It means you don't have to touch the ball with your hand
                          * You can throw the ball much further resulting in more exercise and more fun for your dog.
                          * It is available in most pet stores and ever some supermarkets.
                          * They can be purchase from £4 up, making them good value for money
                          * They can be useful to distract your dog whilst walking
                          * They are plastic so easy to clean and aren't easily damaged.
                          * It makes dog walking much more enjoyable for both owner and dog.
                          * They come in lots of colours so you can get a pretty pink one!!
                          * It helps develop your dogs search and find skills as they have to sniff out the ball when it goes far away!


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                          The not so good points
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                          * You will need to carry it around for the whole walk meaning that you have one less hand free for holding the lead, picking up poop etc!
                          * Some dogs (aka Bonnie) will have a funny five minutes and try to bite at it fun
                          * You are more likely to need to carry spare tennis balls for when you misjudge a throw and accidentally chuck the ball over a barbed wire fence or into the distance never to be found again.
                          * Some shops charge a fortune for them!


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                          Overall
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                          I would definitely recommend the Ball Thrower for anyone who has a dog interested in retrieving tennis balls. It means that during the whole walk you don't have to lay a finger on the stinky ball. If you have more than one dog, it adds in the competitive element too which means even more doggy exercise! I think this is one of the best dog related inventions so I give it 5 stars.

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                          • More +
                            14.08.2013 12:54
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                            Badly designed and unpleasant foundation

                            When I go into Boots I almost always come out with some new makeup that I do not really need. I convince myself that I will just look at the new things but always then end up getting drawn in by the advertising or pretty packaging.


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                            L'Oreal true match minerals foundation
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                            Going into Boots for some hair care products the other day I ended up perusing the cosmetics shelves and saw the L'Oreal true match minerals foundation. I hadn't seen it before and the makeup stand seemed to hype it up (obviously...damn advertising!!..always gets me!) I have since seen the television advertising for the produce featuring Penelope Cruz with amazing flawless looking skin.

                            When I saw the pot I thought it looked really cute and picked it up without even looking at the price. There were a range of 9 shades but most were midrange and would look too orange on my skin so I went for the palest shade that wasn't sold out which has honey glow. The product is part of a range which includes eye shadows, blushers and bronzers. All of which are in the same style containers and have the same advertised as being made from 95% minerals and having no perfume or preservatives.

                            The product comes in a small plastic pot which contains the powder with a brush sticking upwards on top of the pot and a clear plastic lid. It looks very attractive in terms of the packaging and claims to have no perfume, no preservatives, has a SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 and is made from 95% minerals. (hence the name!)

                            After picking up the foundation I caught a glimpse of the price - a whopping £13.99!! The pot is not all that big and I think to be worth that price it would have to be pretty amazing! However, I decided to give it a try and brought it anyway.

                            I wanted to try the foundation out as soon as I got home and so cleaned off all of the make up I was wearing and read the instructions. The instructions are in the form of a series of diagrams and written instructions. I was a bit put off by this point, as it did seem like rather extensive instructions just to whack some foundation on! None the less I continued. The first time you use the product it is quite a chore. You first need to remove the plastic stickers sealing the pot and then work out how to then screw off the brush and lid section to remove the plastic sticker sealing the holes where the powder comes out. Next you need to replace the screw the brush and lid section back on - then gently tip the pot upside down (without shaking it otherwise too much foundation will come out.). Then turn the pot back up the right way - pull off the clear plastic cover from the brush, then screw off the brush section again to turn it upside down and gently dab it in the powder ready to use it! It really is badly designed and not in any way user friendly!! It is awkward, fiddly and you need a work surface to put the parts down on as you quickly realised that you don't have enough hands!!
                            If you have managed to get this far - the actual application isn't ideal either. I have never used a brush to apply foundation before and I suppose this is what initially attracted me to the product, but this really just doesn't work! The brush bristles are soft but they are bulked together in a way which makes the brush quite firm. If you are lucky enough to get the right amount of powder on the brush then you have the trauma of trying to apply it without ending up looking like a circus freak! The instructions say to apply in circular motions starting in the middle of the face and moving outwards. Due to the brush - no matter how much foundation you have on it - it seems that wherever the brush first touches your skin, you end up with a big mark of the foundation which ends up looking orangey. With a lot of effort and practise it is possible to blend it to death so that you get a fairly even spread but it still looks very heavy and not terribly natural. It does not even cover spots, marks, scars etc particularly well!

                            I have worked out that the only way I can make use of this VERY expensive pot of powder is to use a liquid foundation and then gently brush this over the top as when used like this it does actually look quite nice and does give a flawless look, even though you are about three inches deep in make up! On the bright side it doesn't irritate my skin at all and many things do. Unfortunately they are the only two positives I can really draw from this horrendously over priced and badly designed product!

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                            Summary of Positives
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                            *Does look nice if gently brushed over the top of my liquid foundation
                            *Does not irritate my skin
                            *Is made from 95% minerals
                            *Has a Sun Protection Factor of 15
                            *Does not contain perfumes
                            *Does not contain preservatives
                            *Is easy to remove


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                            Summary of Negatives
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                            *Terrible design of container making it not at all user friendly
                            *Hard to apply using the brush
                            *Need a worktop and a mirror in order to apply due to fiddly parts and no mirror
                            *Is not hand bag friendly as plastic lid could be easily crushed or knocked of and is big and bulky - not at all compact.
                            *Looks pretty awful when applied due to sticking to skin making it look orange
                            *looks heavy and does not cover up blemishes well.
                            *Is extremely expensive for what it is
                            *Shades are not well thought out


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                            Overall
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                            I am really not at all impressed with this product and from reading the reviews of others - everyone has had the same problems with the container design being so difficult to use and the application being so difficult. In my opinion the product is far to expensive at £13.99 and wouldn't even be worth half that price!! I would certainly not buy it again - even if the price was significantly lower as the application process is so difficult and it just seems to be a total rip-off! It barely deserves the one star that I have awarded it!

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                            • More +
                              11.08.2013 12:34
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                              A great dry dog food - highly reccomended.

                              My old dog Freeway has always had tinned dog food with biscuit mixer. It was fine for her but when we got Bonnie as a Puppy three years ago we decided to try the less mess option! Having always hated the smell of wet dog food as well as the mess involved in serving it we decided to investigate the range of dry dog food available. We initially tried Bakers but the colourings sent an already lively puppy absolutely bonkers! The next attempt was with James Wellbeloved which Bonnie liked but it is expensive and isn't widely available in supermarkets. Eventually we settled on Iams. Initially Bonnie had the puppy version but she has now been on the adult version for a couple of years.


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                              The Food
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                              The food comes in a green bag (or sack depending on which size you get!) and there are varieties for small, medium and large dogs. Prices vary quite significantly depending on where you buy the food. Tescos only tend to sell 1kg or 3kg bags and at a higher price than pet shops where as you can buy a huge 15kg bag from large pet stores such as Pets at home and they often have offers that will save you reasonable amounts of money although you should expect to pay around £27 for the huge 15kg bag.
                              The food itself is in the style of crunchy kibble. It claims to be a complete balanced dog food made from a blend of ingredients, including a minimum of 20% real chicken and the essential vitamins and minerals a dog needs to stay healthy and active.

                              Iams also claim that this food contains the following:

                              * Iams Dental Care - to reduce tartar build-up by 32% compared to standard wet food;
                              * Glucosamine - help support healthy joints and cartilage, improving your dog's joint mobility;
                              * Reduced Fat - to help maintain a healthy body weight creating less stress on your dog's joints and limbs;
                              * Controlled Calcium and Phosphorus - to promote healthy bone development and optimal growth;
                              * Quality Fibre - promoting a healthy digestive system;
                              * Vitamins and Minerals - to help support your dog's immune system and help maintain overall health;
                              * Omega 3 and 6 - to support healthy skin and a shiny coat.

                              I will explore these claims further in a later section of this review.


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                              Dinner Time
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                              Although this food appears to be quite expensive, a 15kg sack lasts us a very long time! Initially we had just been filling Bonnie's bowl with this food but as she began to get a bit podgy we actually read the instructions and started measuring out her food. The bag has a useful feeding guide that tells you how much your dog should have (depending on their weight and breed). To avoid weighing out Bonnie's food every time we found a small cup that when full, holds the exact amount of food she should have.

                              Bonnie gets a cup full of food in the morning and another one in the evening. Being a dry food, it is really easy to serve. You literally just scoop it and chuck it in her bowl. Bonnie is always keen to eat her dinner but as it is crunchy it forces her to chew it rather than just gulp it down like she does with anything else, so it is better for her digestive system! She does seem to quite like her food though as she always starts eating it straight away.

                              The individual pieces of dry kibble were also beneficial when Bonnie was younger and we were training her to be submissive over her food. As it is not messy we were able to sit with her bowl on our lap and feed her some of the food piece by piece. We were also able to put our hand in amongst her food while she was eating to teach her not to be aggressive or possessive about her food and it worked well.

                              Bonnie seems to enjoy her food and it is much nicer to serve up than wet food as it doesn't smell, isn't messy and doesn't involve opening a tin!


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                              Poop, teeth, coat, etc!
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                              As I mentioned earlier on in the review, Iams make quite a few claims about how beneficial this food is to doggies.

                              The Dental care claim I really do support. Bonnie has the whitest, cleanest teeth I have ever seen on a dog. Even the vet is amazed by how healthy they are. She does occasionally get a few roast dinner left-overs and the odd cheeky biscuit but in general we try not to feed her naughty things. This food obviously takes good care of her teeth and as a result she strongly resembles Simon Cowell! My friend has a very similar dog to Bonnie, of a similar age and his teeth are stained and no where near as good condition as Bonnie's. The only difference between the two of them is their diet. He has wet dog food and lots of snacks!

                              A further claim is that the food helps support healthy joints. Bonnie is only young and should not be experiencing joint problems at three years old anyway which makes it difficult to comment on this claim, but she is clearly very healthy and can run and leap around without ending up hobbling around for days afterwards. In the same way, I would agree with the food claims that it promotes healthy bone development and optimal growth.

                              In terms of reduced fat - the food definitely helps keep Bonnie at a healthy weight. As a puppy she got a bit chunky but ever since we have measured out her food she has been the ideal weight for her age and breed.
                              The claim that Iams provides quality fibre is one that I can also agree with. Bonnie is always regular and although I don't take too much time to examine it, her outgoings are much firmer and better smelling than those of my old dog who ate wet dog food.

                              Bonnie has always been very healthy and so I cannot dispute that the vitamins and minerals in the food help support her immune system and maintain overall health.

                              The final claim was that the Omega 3 and 6 support healthy skin and a shiny coat. I believe that this is definitely the case as Bonnie has an incredibly healthy, shiny coat and we have never had any problems with her skin either. In fact after commenting on how white her teeth are, passers by always seem to comment on how shiny and healthy her fur looks.


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                              To Summarise.
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                              Bonnie has absolutely thrived on Iams and I cannot recommend it highly enough. As the food is dry, it is obviously important that your dog has plenty of fresh water available at all times although they should have that irrespective of what food they eat! Iams has so far kept Bonnie incredibly healthy. She loves it and it works out as reasonable value as long as you are not overfeeding. I would certainly never go back to wet dog food as the smell, mess, hassle are enough to put me off but on top of that, I very much doubt Bonnie's coat, teeth and health would be anywhere near as perfect if she were on the wet stuff!
                              100% recommendation from me and Bonnie!

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                              • More +
                                08.08.2013 22:23
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                                A great hairbrush for long or difficult to manage hair

                                I have a lot of hair and it takes ages to brush, ages to dry, ages to style and after all that effort I end up looking like I have stuck my tongue in a plug socket as it becomes ridiculously static. I have found certain hair brushes to be better than others in reducing static but the other problem was that I need a hairbrush that is comfortable to use when straightening my hair. This particular brush was recommended to me by a friend who said that it would help reduce the static and would be great to use when styling. I wasn't convinced but headed to the hair care section the next time I was in Boots to take a look. The brush was quite expensive at just over £8 and it looked very simplistic too. For that price I want something with flashing lights and bells on it! But being convinced that my friend wouldn't lie, I brought the hair brush.

                                As I said, the brush looks quite simplistic. It has a black handle, which is weighted to make it more comfortable and easy to use. The bristles are smooth nylon pins which feel plasticy but are firm. The feel a little spikey to touch but I was reassured by my friend that these are specially designed so that the massage the scalp as you brush, thus increasing circulation in the scalp and promoting healthy hair growth. The rubber pad that the bristles are set in is intended to be anti-static and to allow maximum grip and control when you use it with a hair dryer, straighteners or other styling tools.

                                When I first used the brush I was pleasantly surprised as the brush was easy to move through my masses of hair and felt good on my scalp, not uncomfortable at all. Using the brush didn't seem to cause any static but this normally occurs during drying and straightening so it was yet to be tested to its full capacity.

                                After washing my hair, the brush was just as comfortable to use on wet hair as it had been on dry. It untangled my hair nicely without pulling on it. Next I used the brush to brush out sections of my hair as I blasted it with the hairdryer, again I was pleased and there was no static. Once dried I pulled out the straighteners. The brush was fantastic to lift sections of the hair into the straighteners meaning that I could use the brush rather than my hand to lift and hold each section. I noticed that my hair was definitely a lot less static than it is with other brushes but it did need some serum to completely calm it down.

                                I have always suffered from dandruff and my hair tends to come out a bit when brushing, perhaps as there's so much of it! I have been using this brush for a good few years now and wouldn't switch back to any of my old ones. It feels like it gives my scalp a good massage as I brush and my scalp and hair have been in a much better condition with less hair coming out as I brush. The brush is comfortable to use due to its ergonomic design and is great for precision when trying to create neat hair styles. It is not completely anti-static which is a shame but it is definitely better than many other brushes that I have tried. It is clearly good for my hair and the perfect tool for lifting sections when drying and straightening

                                I would definitely recommend this brush if you have long hair, hair that has a tendency to have static or if you regularly straighten your hair and don't like burning your hands on hot hair and struggling to separate your hair into sections. It is a little pricey for a brush but I do feel that it is worth the money. It gets 5 stars from me as it is a brilliant hairbrush that lasts really well.

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                              • Colorsport 30 Day Mascara / Make Up / 92 Readings / 91 Ratings
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                                28.07.2013 22:16
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                                Easy to use eyelash dye, ideal if you don't have the time for daily mascara

                                In an ideal world I would be blessed with luscious thick black eyelashes. Back in the real world I have made my peace with the fact that my eyelashes are not as dark, not as thick and not as long as I would like.
                                For a night out I am now a dab hand at applying false eyelashes and I do enjoy wearing make up, even if just a coat of mascara but as I have got older it has moved further down my priorities list. When I first started teaching at 21 I always wore mascara and not wearing it for a day would result in several hundred teenagers asking me whether I am ill and then telling me that I look ill/rough/old/depressed without makeup on (delightful!). I am now 26 and haven't worn makeup to work for about 2 years as a few extra minutes in bed takes priority. Also at this time of year my hayfever means that wearing standard mascara is a no-go unless I want to look like a panda by midday.

                                A few weeks ago I was wandering aimlessly around Boots waiting for the photo kiosk to be free and I spotted the Colorsport 30 Day Mascara eyelash and brow dye kit. I remembered using it years ago and being quite impressed so decided to give it a go to make me look a bit less "rough" for the summer. It was price at about £8 which I don't think is too awful considering how many uses you get out of it and the fact that you would often pay that amount for normal mascara that only lasts a day. I was chuffed to find that I had enough Boots Advantage Points to buy it so I saw it as a free treat.

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                                Use
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                                Inside the box is a plastic tray with a build in "mixing bowl" to mix the dye. There is a tube of dye which you squeeze about 2cm of into the mixing bowl and then add 2 drops of the developer liquid. There is a small plastic wand (similar to the stick of a cotton bud but without the cotton bit) which serves as both the applicator and the mixing tool. You mix them together and ad d a few more drops of developer liquid (up to 10) to give it a creamy consistency that doesn't drip.

                                Once mixed it needs to be used immediately. You use the wand to apply it to your eyelashes (or eyebrows). As the dye stains the skin the instructions say to use a cotton bud to apply a generous coat of Vaseline to the surrounding skin being careful not to get it on the lashes otherwise the dye won't take - this does require a steady hand but is not too difficult.

                                As long as you have got the dye to a suitable consistency then it should be quite easy to apply with the wand but coating the wand in the dye mix and then gently brushing it on to your eyelashes. I do feel that the wand could be a bit better designed, perhaps more of a comb or brush design but it does the job as long as you are careful. It is worth having some cotton buds to hand in case you need to wipe any off your skin. My main worry was that it seems a bit scary putting dye so close to your eye and I was paranoid that I was going to get it in my eye that wasn't a problem and the instructions say that if you do get it in your eye you just need to rinse it with plenty of cold water.

                                Once I had applied to both my top and bottom lashes it said to leave it for 10 minutes to develop. I did find that this waiting period was a really bad time to sneeze as it got some of the dye on my skin but luckily the coat of Vaseline made this easy to wipe off.

                                After 10 minutes you remove the dye by wetting a cotton bud with warm water and wiping off the excess dye from your lashes by brushing the cotton bud away from your eye. It took me about 4 cotton buds to remove the main bulk of the dye and after this I just used an eye make-up removal wipe to remove any remaining residue.

                                After application any excess dye needs to be disposed of which is nice and easy to do as you can just rinse the plastic pot and wand under some warm water.

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                                The Effect
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                                The dye works well on my lashes and effectively dyes them black which makes them look bolder and stand out more. Whilst it doesn't give the same "thickness" that normal mascara gives it definitely does give my lashes more impact and is a good halfway between wearing mascara and not wearing mascara. The dye lasts well on my eyelashes for a good 3 weeks and then starts to fade in the 4th week. Despite the warnings on the pack about possible allergies and the importance of doing a skin sensitivity test first (which I didn't bother with) I had no adverse reactions and seeing as I am allergic to just about everything that is good going!
                                I am pleased with the result and if I do get time to apply mascara over the top of false eyelashes it gives a bit more impact with the boldness of the black on my real lashes. It has not been nearly a month and my eyelashes are almost back to their usual brown colour so as there is still plenty of dye left and so I will be re-dying them tomorrow.

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                                Eyebrows
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                                This dye can also be used on eyebrows although I would imagine you would want to go for the brown shade rather than the black that I bought. It is important that they dye is not applied to eyebrows that have been plucked within the last 72 hours and also to be aware that it is much harder to prevent dying of the skin when using it on your eyebrows.

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                                Conclusion
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                                I do really rate this product. It is great if you want darker eyelashes but don't have time to apply mascara daily or if you need your eyelash colour to be truly waterproof. Although the pack sounds quite expensive at £8 I know from when I have used it in the past it will give you many uses (a pack would easily last me a year) and each application lasts up to a month so it works out as good value. It is easy and hassle free to apply and remove and due to the way the packaging can be used to mix it up is minimal on mess. The end result is good and I will definitely use the product again. My only real niggle is that the wand design could be slightly better but it does the job so I guess I shouldn't complain! Overall I am pleased with my purchase and will continue using this eyelash dye.

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