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I was looking forward to trying a coffee ale, I've tried chocolate and have found that a little bitter. Coffee and ale? Hmmm...
Love at first sip. Smooth, velvety and rich. A soft combination of roasted and toasted flavours gliding over the palatte. Cafe Nero in a glass perhaps, my co-taster slipped a Tia Maria into his and was blown away.
I will admit I am a huge fan of stouts this genuine and this unpretentious espresso flavoured stout takes some beating. I found it a pleasant ale, not too bitter and a little biscuity. Nicely dry on the finish its looks well in the glass with its creamy brown head just as a stout should be.
With an ABV of 4.2% Dark Star Espresso will make the session so long as the drinker doesn't find it too heavy. Made with real espresso beans this is a must drink ale that's available on draught or in the bottle.
Waterstone's is a haven, a sanctuary from the noise and bustle of the high street. When it all gets too much and a headache is brewing pop in and relax. The shop is clean and has an enchanting aroma of new books and with its well-organised shelving books are easy to find. The staff are cheerful and friendly, smart and competent.
I shopped there before Christmas and came away with a good selection of pressies and a couple of books for myself. I pop in at least once a fortnight for books for my little boy, they have a very good childrens section. They are not as cheap as Amazon (well who is?) but there is something very satisfying about browsing in a bookshop. They have good 3 for 2 offers on paperbacks and generous hardback discounts. Bestsellers are nicely displayed near the entrance plus special displays arranged on tables for books on promotion.
Twice now I have visited Waterstone's to find they did not have the book I wanted in stock. They offered to order it for me but I prefered to try another shop in my town centre who did have it in stock.
I was pleased when I found signed paperbacks for the same price as a standard paperback by the same author.
They sell book tokens and a lovely selection of bookmarks at the counter and unlike many other high street chains Waterstones have no pushy upselling policy. This makes for a pleasant shopping experience.
Overall, if you are bargain hunting Waterstone's may not be the bookshop for you but if you love books and are a bibliophile like me then you will enjoy shopping there as much as I do.
My husband John is a great fan of hypnosis and spotted this rather garish book with its red and yellow cover while shopping in WHSmith. It was a rare impulse purchase and one which has changed his life.
He was a 20 - 30 a day smoker who had made many attempts over 30 years to give up the habit. He tried patches, gum, willpower, herbal cigarettes, Skoll Bandits (remember them), snuff and even Fishermans Friends (throat lozenges).
John paid £9.99 for the book in WHSmith but it is priced at £6.99 on Amazon at the time of writing. Less than the price of two packs of cigarettes. The book is 123 pages long and divided into two parts with a hypnosis CD.
The idea is you read the first part of the book, listen to the hypnosis CD then read the rest of the book. The first part makes sobering reading, it is full of facts and figures of what smoking does to the body and the mind. Statistics abound on the number of people who die horribly from the dreaded weed and also for good measure includes a nice statistic on the number of people who need to have limbs amputated as well. Pretty shocking and the old smokers addage "it won't happen to me" is exploded once and for all.
Susan Hepburn does insist that you really must want to give up smoking. This is the most important point of the book. Without this commitment you will not stop smoking.
The CD follows a pattern which is common to many hypnosis CDs that is the "talk down induction" where the subject is put into a deep state of relaxation which calms the conscious mind thus allowing the hypnotic commands to be delivered straight to the subconscious where they will be acted upon without question. After this the induction is reversed to bring the subject back to full awareness.
I should mention that whilst under hypnosis one is still aware of what is going on around them and should an emergency arise one can wake up instantly. This is mentioned on the CD and is one of the things one must look for when purchasing, although it is fair to say that any professionally created hypnosis CD will have these instructions.
Suprisingly on first using the CD John wasn't impressed, it seemed to simple. He had previously given up smoking for two years using Paul McKenna's method but obviously lapsed. Pretty soon however he began to realise that the beauty of this CD lies in its simplicity. No jargon or age regression which in effect takes you back to before you smoked, just the author telling you that you will not smoke again.
He used the CD late at night and read the rest of the book before going to bed. He woke next morning with no desire to smoke and hasn't smoked since. After two days he picked up a cigarette put it in his mouth then put the cigarette back in the packet and said "what is the point of that, I don't know why I ever smoked in the first place." He is quite happy to sit with smokers, never feeling the urge to ask for a cigarette and has no desire to 'borrow' cigarettes if they are left lying around. He has not compensated by snacking, munching on mints or any other habit replacement 'therapy.'
The second part of the book reinforces the first, continuing in a similar vein.
It is now two weeks on and he has not had a single craving for a cigarette, cigar, pipe, nicotine gum or patch.
He says that he has forgotten how to smoke.
IPoints is my favourite reward site by far. After 3 years collecting I have earned enough points to get several books and a DVD player from Amazon and 3 full price DVDs gratis. It has amounted to a good freebie every 6 months, which compared to some reward sites is good going and I don't do a lot of online shopping.
Its easy to collect free points doing simple onsite polls and signing up for free newsletters. I get extra points completing NOP surveys (survey.com). They send out regular emails giving you a few points for a click through to a site they are promoting.
It helps if you shop for goods online then the points add up quicker than if you just take the quick points offered. If you have high street reward cards too then its a double freebie, you get the stores reward plus an IPoints reward. Ipoints are partnered with all the big high street names you can trust such as Debenhams, Tesco, WHSmith, Currys, Dominos Pizza, John lewis plus many more. There are points to be earned by taking out a loan, gambling, sending for holiday brochures and registering for newsletters.
It doesn't take long to get enough points to redeem because they have gifts to match many different levels of points accrued. In fact the choice of rewards is quite outstanding from cinema tickets to chocolate, from flowers to food the choice is yours.
Ipoints also offer their own credit card for more collecting potential. The site is jam packed with ways to make your money go further.
The site is excellent, very reliable, easy to navigate and read with an excellent choice of partners with which you can earn points.
Pictureka must have been a real 'must have' for xmas 2008. It sold out rapidly online and I was lucky to get one in my local toy store.
Its a bit like the old I Spy games published by Scholastic. Good old observational fun. A 3x3 gameboard is put down which is covered in intricate illustrations.
The idea of the game is to be either first or fastest to find an object randomly turned up by a dice roll / card selection combo. Collect the most cards to win.
For example: Be the first to spot a rocket. Find 5 cows in 30 seconds. Find 8 things that can fly after winning the bid.
Overall, this is a great family game. Fast and furious finding fun. I would recommend it for a night in with mates or something to do with the kids when they get bored.
Pictureka contains: 100 different mission cards in 3 categories. Includes 9 two-sided gameboard tiles, 108 cards, dice, timer and instructions.
For 2 or more people aged 6+
My son is 7 and has loved this shampoo for 3 years since we moved from johnsons baby shampoo to something more 'grown up'. His hair is quite long and often gets tangled when he's playing, sleeping or twiddling. Very Berry gets all those tangles out no problem and leaves his hair smelling fabulously fruity.
Very Berry Strawberry is our favourite but this shampoo also comes in cheeky cherry which comes a very close second. This shampoo lathers well on the dirtiest 'I've been playing-out' hair and conditions leaving the hair soft, clean and maneagable. We don't have tears and the easy to hold bottle encourages my son to shampoo his own hair.
L'oreal Very Berry is great value for money, lasts ages and is available in 250ml easy grip bottles. We haven't tried Mango Tango yet but we will...soon! These super fruity shampoos are the best for making hair washing fun.
I bought this blush with a £2 off Maybelline coupon in Boots. I wouldn't have noticed this product otherwise. I am so pleased I spotted it though, a case of love at first try.
I have pale skin and my hair is brunette at the moment so I chose the shade 'mauve' which isn't purplish like you would think but a nice english rose / pale plum colour. At first touch the blush feels strange, light as air as if it would never cover the cheeks at all. Yet when applied it smooths over the skin to create a fine, light finish. The blush shimmers and blends perfectly. Far better than powder blushers I used a fingertip application, handy when on the go.
I have always found Maybelline products to be excellent value for money and this blush is no exception. I love the glass pot, it has that 'must have lip balm' feel to it making it an instant favourite.
The colour lasts well throughout the day and comes in a great range of shades - Plum, dolly pink, mauve, brown and peach satin for a natural glow.
Maybelline Dream Mousse Blush costs £5.99 for 7ml presented in an attractive glass pot.
i'm a bit picky about my mascara, my eyes seem to react to continuous mascara wear and over a week can become dry and itchy, this encourages me to switch brands looking for the perfect mascara. gentle, doesn't clump, easy to remove with a natural look. this week i have been wearing Boots no 7 dream lash mascara in black. here's my opinion.
Gentle: Boots No 7 has always been one of my favourite brands. however i am not all that impressed with dream lash. it irritates after only a couple of days of daily wear.
Clumping: the high tech wand still doesn't prevent clumping if your hand shakes and my hand invariably shakes when applying make up. and once its clumped it wond un-clump with more brushing. Its a removal job.
Removal: doesn't completely remove with make up remover, whether liquid, gel or wipes. tends to cling at the root of the lash - possible cause of irritation.
Natural look? I think this is the only plus point of dream lash. its not overly synthetic because its not a waterproof mascara so it creates a softer more natural lok to the lashes. think small cute button eyes rather than longline lashes. it definately doesn't maximise the lashes to the extent of its claims.
Price: £11.26 not the cheapest mascara on the market but can often be seen on offer at 3 for 2
Colours: comes in a choice of 3 colours. Brown, black and jet black. you can never have enough shades of black.
I got my dream lash as a free sample when I purchased some other make up in Boots. I wouldn't pay for dream lash I don't think its worth the money.
I won a pack of L'oreal Excell 10 hair coloue in a competition and for a laugh decided to go from my usual dark blonde to chocolate brown. My hair used to be red when I was younger but has faded with age, however my hair still has the structure of red hair and has always resisited hair dyes. That's why I like freebies and offers on hair dye, if it washes out its no loss.
I had to read the intructions and work out what all the bits were for so it took me a little longer than the 10 minutes its suggests on the box. There is a comb attachment for applying the hair colour and rather than just using the bottle alone this makes a proper tool to get the colour into the roots. Most hair dyes work just like shampooing, Excell 10 works better than that by working round the head from the roots to the ends of the hair.
The pack also contained a professional set of latex gloves rather than those thin plastic gloves which is a nice touch.
The resulting effect on my hair is simply outstanding. The dye has held (it's now six weeks since I coloured my hair) and is rich and deep in colour. Overall my hair is conditioned well, is soft and shines.
I received a 30ml bottle of Estee Lauder Pleasures for christmas from my husband. I had never tried this scent before, however I fell instantly in love with its heady perfume. Its a scent that has staying power throughout the day the fragrance fades and changes through its complex perfume notes.
Pleasures is a scent that lifts my mood and gives me an aura of confidence when I wear it. At around £28 for 30ml its not cheap but it will last the evening.
If you love heavy florals and want to wear a womanly romantic aura this is your scent. Sophisticated, intoxicating and complex Estee Lauder Pleasures makes a statement when you enter a room.
Spirited, yet elegant. Fresh, yet softly sensual. It surrounds the woman who wears it with a soft, romantic shimmer.
Fragrance Type: Sheer Floral
Top Notes: White Lily, Violet Leaves
Middle Notes: Black Lilac, White Peony, Karo-Karounde, Baie Rose
Base Notes: Sandalwood, Patchouli
I am on sick pay for a couple of weeks so I thought I would economise by buying some Tesco value stuff. I like to nibble on a nut or two so when I spotted value peanuts at 21p for 200g I thought, 'why not?'
The packaging is OK, functional with no problems ripping open the packet. I think Tesco is being a bit jingoistic with its obvious translations of the phrase 'roasted salted peanuts' into four eastern european languages emblasoned on the front of the pack. Are they sending us a message that only immigrants eat value products? Should we Brits spend more in order to feel more British? Maybe I'm being overly cynical.
Anyway, the nutritional data is clearly labelled on the front as if we need to know peanuts are fattening and loaded with salt.
One eight of a 200g pack contains 150 calories and 0.2 g salt.
As for the taste, well they are peanuts and tasted right, not too salty and nice and crunchy. A little tough perhaps but on a par with Sun Valley or KP peanuts that you might buy in the pub. The nuts aren't large, like the jumbo american peanuts you can buy but for the money they are excellent value.
If you need some nibbles then hand these round, hide the packets and I reckon no one will be any the wiser. Fantastic value!
I have only recently become a fan of cashback shopping. I have been collecting Ipoints for a long time but have got fed up with taking ages to get a small gift such as a DVD or CD. Quidco is much better because it pays real money!
I can shop online at all my favourite high street stores such as Body Shop, Next, Marks and Spencers and receive a discount on my shopping. Quidco also offers ways to earn cash from email sign-ups and searches on comparision sites such as Kelkoo.
Like all cashback sites, the more you shop the more you earn.
Quidco is a friendly place, you can join clans which are basically groups and share you favourite interests. Quidco run their own competitions via quidclan membership to encourage participation in the Quidco site.
Keep your eyes peeled for bonus discount vouchers which are available as retailers offer them. This is a great way to save even more when you shop online. For example I shop with Body Shop and get 10% loyalty discount for being a card holder, plus I get another 8% cashback with Quidco plus this week I got a further £1.50 back for spending £30 and a free gift from Body Shop for spending over £25 thats much more than I would get at our town centre shop.
Overall this is the best cash back site I have used. If you are fed up of points schemes then sign up today.
Quidco do charge a fee of £5 per year for admin but this is taken from earning not your credit card. Sign up in itself is free.
I first came across Delicious magazine in WHSmith a while ago, there was a freebie on the cover and I was getting bored with cooking the same old basic meals day in day out. What a find!
Many of the recipes I have found have become regular favourites in our house. This magazine is simply fantastic, so good I have it on regular subscription. Several of my friends subscribe too, we are always chatting about the recipes and swapping ideas for menus.
When I subscribed I got a very nice free Typhoon weighing scale worth about £25.00 just what I needed as my old scales were on the blink. This free gift changes every few months but is always very high quality. The subscription has been extremely reliable, never missing an issue and always on time.
The magazine itself is rich with varied content, virtually every page gets read. Heres a look at its average content each month.
Speedy Suppers - quick, easy meals.
Simple - Classic combos
Jamie's Quickies - Yes its Jamie Oliver
Assembly line - Take one shopping basket, use the shopping list provided, then cook with the recipes.
Techniques - Expert help for making classic dishes.
Junior Cooks - One of the best sections of the magazine, get the kids learning to cook.
Weekenders - cakes, cookies, puds and all things yummy plus great British grub.
Last Orders - How to make a quick tipple.
Foodie File - Product reviews, competitions and snippets.
Wicked - Seriously tempting food.
Theres plenty of input from celebrity and professional chefs, including chef at your shoulder which takes you step by step through creating more complex dishes.
Regular reader offers guarantee extra bargains and regular cover gifts are a great bonus too. Its not all indulgence either, regular low fat recipes are covered and cooking for special diets included too.
The reader letters and feedback pages are useful and informative often sourcing hard to find ingredients and specialist gourmet suppliers. Features on food growers and manufacturers add a new indepth perspective to how we perceive ingredients.
The recipes are never dull, not over complicated with clear intructions and high quality pictures. This magazine is an absolute delight for the foodie and a must buy for every family fed up with the same old packet and jar style dinners. Its increased my confidence and we eat more healthily than ever.
I've been using bars of Imperial Leather soap since I was a kid. I love the smell and after 30 years have never found any reason to stop using it. I have tried other soap brands but they irritate the skin on my face, Imperial Leather doesn't do that and I can tell you why. Imperial Leather soap contains no sodium lauryl sulphate.
Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) is an anionic surfactant (detergent) which is included as a foaming agent (to clean and make bubbles) in a huge variety of commonly used products. These include shampoos, soaps, face and body washes, toothpaste, washing up & laundry detergents. There are many derivatives of SLS that can be found in commercial preparations, including sodium laureth sulphate, sodium laureth-3 sulphate, and DEA or TEA sodium lauryl sulphate. SLS is an irritant and drys the skin.
Ingredients found in Imperial Leather soap bar (Active fragrance):
Sodium tallowate (animal fat), sodium palmate (soap emulsifier made from palm oil), aqua (water). glycerin, parfum, sodium chloride (salt), propylene glycol (a derivative of natural gas), disodium phosphate (a sodium salt of orthophosphoric acid - used as an antioxidant), pentasodium pentetate (an inorganic salt used as a water softener), tetrasodium etidronate (a chemical that is used as a water softener in soaps to prevent soap scum), limonene (the major component of the oil extracted from citrus rind), butylphenyl methylpropional (fragrance), colourants.
Imperial Leather is as close as you can get to a hand-made soap off the supermarket shelf and is much cheaper than many hand crafted soaps that often still contain SLS.
Imperial Leather has a long history going all the way back to 1768, when a Russian nobleman - Count Orlof visited the famous court perfumers Bayleys of Bond Street. He challenged them to create a perfume which embodied the distinctive aroma of the Russian court. The result was a new perfume called 'Eau de Cologne Imperiale Russe', which the Count presented to Catherine the Great on his return. It quickly became the favourite fragrance of the Russian Court. Over a century later in the early 1900's, Cussons bought Bayleys and chose this high quality perfume to form the basis for a new soap - originally called 'Imperiale Russian Leather'. The bar is itself is very distinctive with its embossed logo and metallic everlasting stamp on which the bar stands reducing soap scum underneath the bar when it rests on the sink or bath.
Imperial leather soap bars are available in five gorgeous fragrances:
Gentle Care - with added milk nutrients and vitamin E
Silky Smooth - with addded silk protein
The bars are excellent value for money, Tesco currently charge £1.28 for 4 original bars but you can often get a pack of six at Wilco for about a pound. they are very long lasting too which makes them even better value.
The soap itself is soft, creamy and lathers beautifully. I trust Imperial Leather on my 6 year old son's skin, he has eczema and I find it doesn't irritate his skin at all. It cleans very well, even ground in garden dirt and leaves the skin feeling cleansed, soft and refreshed.
I recommend Imperial Leather wholeheartedly but be aware if you are a vegetarian or vegan it's not for you because it does contain sodium tallowate which is an animal fat.
I have loved sports mixture since I was knee high. They remind me of saturday mornings in the sweet shop spending pocket money and the journey home from school when we shared them on the bus. So I bought some so I could take a trip down memory lane. They are retailing for £1.16 for a 215g bag at Tesco.
There is a wonderful fruity aroma on opening the packet that is unmistakably sports mixture.
Sports mixture is nicely packaged in a white bag with a rainbow coloured pattern on the front forming the background for the trademark shield in blue and the words sports mixture in white on red . The back of the packet you find the original Lion brand logo at the top left with the addition of a small yellow oval and within the telling phrase "formerly known as...." in red text.
The back of the packet also has all the usual nutritional information and pictures of the sweets and their flavours.
A red bicycle - raspberry
An orange yacht - apricot
A green boxing boot - lime
A yellow rugby ball - pineapple
A purple cricket bat - blackcurrent
Glucose syrup, sugar, gelatine, modified potato starch, citric acid, vegetable oil, flavourings, acetic acid, colours, E122,E110,E104,E142, glazing agent (carnauba wax).
Now then, what happened to liquorice? My favourite flavour has been usurped by blackcurrent and its not a nice tasting blackcurrent either. They have also made the gums softer which I think is another minus making them less distinctive from wine gums which used to be their main feature.
It seems Lions who made these sweets for so many generations has been bought out by Maynards (owned by Cadbury Schweppes) that would explain it. I am a little bit disappointed.
Sports mixture are still good value for money if you are looking for a big share bag of sweets so I would still recommend them but if you are a die hard fan of the old product then the new Maynard ones are not necessarily what you are looking for.