- Premium reviews
- Express reviews
- Reviews rated
- Ratings received
Living at 'home' again with my Dad has thrown up some interesting arguments over the last few months, one of the most recent being over custody of my laptop bag on a weekend when Dad was going to be away with work and I was planning a trip to visit friends. The disagreement eventually devolved in to a simple case of its mine and I won't share (on my part) ultimately trumped by you live in my house and will do as I say (on my Dads). But it did show that one of us really does need to think about introducing another laptop bag to the household.
The bag we were so keen to retain for ourselves was this Targus Messenger. I've had it now for over 8 years, originally inheriting it from an ex boyfriend when he bought a laptop and bag without checking that the bag would be the right size for the laptop - as it turned out it was far too big and being a lazy bloke with no concept of money simply bought a smaller bag and was planning to throw out this one. At the time I was a little large for my laptop of the time but as I now have both my main laptop which has a 15" screen and a 10" netbook the larger capacity is much appreciated.
Looks wise it really isn't anything to shout about, a grey and black tough woven fabric exterior which is ever so slightly shiny, and I believe has some water resistance as even in the worst of the weather the items inside the bad have suffered from very little water damage - some dampness in the outer pockets but not as bad as I had expected - a removable shoulder strap and carry handle, all in the black and grey colour scheme with small splashes of yellow where the brand name is embroidered. The outer zips are operated with rubbery tags which again are black and yellow.
The bag itself has numerous pockets inside the main section under the flap are the large laptop slot, which is very well padded with additional removable padding which velcros in to place, leaving this section divided in to two, I often have my laptop secured in the padded section with my netbook in its neoprene slip case in the less secure section with the assorted chargers slung in on top, in previous lives I regularly carried my laptop, charger, text books, and a ring binder (of the smaller variety) in this section. In front of this is a section which unzips to fold out featuring card slots, a zip up net pen section and two slightly padded pockets secured with velcro, one larger one and a smaller one with a small embroidered symbol suggesting it would be suitable for a PDA or I suppose these days a smartphone, in addition to an open topped net pocket, the front of this flap has a large zip up net pocket, which has the capacity to fit a fairly large quantity of loose A4 papers (generally known as my university assignments). Closing the flap over the top of this interior you'll find there is another zippered pocket on the top of the flap, and a relatiely open slot at the back which is loosely secured with a square of velcro in the middle, I tend not to use the pocket on the flap as I have a tendency to forget what's in there, while the pocket at the back is unused as if I'm carrying the bag with items in it they bounce uncomfortably off my legs, something which becomes rather an issue if I have as I typically do alot of things in the inside pockets.
In addition there is on one side a concealed zip which when opened out provides a net pocket which Targus suggest as a place to keep a water bottle, personally it has seen more use as a place to put a wet umberella, regardless it is a decent size pocket which can be tidied away when not in use, and once upon a time there was a removable phone case I could clip to the other side, but it has become lost in the years since I first got the bag, though the fixing points on the bag itself are as with all the other plastic elements to this bag undamaged. Carrying it for long periods of time on one shoulder I find does become uncomfortable quickly, but as mentioned when I'm using this I typically have alot of 'stuff' packed in to it so it is heavy, but extending the shoulder strap I can wear it across my body which helps to redistribute the load considerably.
The flap is secured by a chunky plastic clip which over the last 8 or so years has stood up to some horrifically rough treatment without cracking or splitting. The shoulder strap is secured to the body of the bag with plastic carabiner type fasteners and is fully adjustable, the padded section is around 6 inches long and 2 inches wide and movable to ensure that it sits in the right place over your shoulder. The handle on top of the flap is of the same type of tough woven fabric as the rest of the bags exeterior with the brand name sewn in to it in yellow.
Over the years I've thought about replacing this with a more attractive looking bag but all the ones I've bothered to look at in person when I've been in the shop have simply looked to be lacking in robustness of construction by comparison to this model. Yes after 8 years of none too gentle usage there are scuffs on the corners and it's looking a little mucky which my typical cleaning method of a wipe with a damp cloth won't get clean but those scuffs are yet to become holes and frankly short of being made of teflon coated plastic most things which get used on a regular basis in and out of the home are likely to pick up some grubby marks over such a long period of time.
It isn't a sleek slimline bag, but then thats a compromise you would have to make between looks and its protective properties, and obviously being built for larger screens this adds to the bags necessary dimensions.
If you were looking to buy a messenger style bag for a laptop with up to a 17" screen then if you can overlook its rather dull appearence then you can't go wrong with this one, looking online they can be bought for between £20 and £40, though more recent reviews suggest that the newer ones possibly have a little less padding on the interior pockets. If you have a smaller laptop then I would highly recommend looking for smaller bags in the Targus range to minimise unecessary bulk.
Sometimes I wonder what I'm getting myself in to before I do it, others I just launch in to it without a second thought. This latter habit is one which has found me preparing for two charity swims over the next few months, one being the Sport Relief Swimathon at the end of March (indoors), the second being the Manchester Great Swim in July (outdoors, in Salford Quays).
After a few weeks of swimming for between 60 and 90 minutes at a time I've found that while I'm not bored I tend to find that at the ends of the pool I'm stopping to rest for longer than I need to so I can evesdrop the gossipy conversations of the other women "swimming" so decided that as when I'm out running listening to music it helps me keep pace and distracted from the scenery around me it was worth looking to see if water proof MP3's were in my price range yet.
Happily for me they are and there are plenty of options, being slightly overwhelmed by the choices available I narrowed it down to the Sony product and this Speedo Aquabeat. I figure that Speedo are an expert in swim wear so chances are their product would be suitably water proofed.
I bought mine from Amazon for around £40 for this the original model. The MP3 comes with earphones - over hear bud styles ones which should help to make them more secure in the ear whilst swimming, three sets of different sized buds to make sure you have the ones which fit best, a USB charger/data cable, a net bag to keep it all in and an extension cable for the ear phones in case you need to secure the MP3 away from your head or shoulders.
Opening the box I find a small - large matchbox - rubber feel unit, grey buttons set in to a curved red 'frame'. One end has the headphone jack/charging port, the other is simply a smooth curved surface, the back has the clip enabling you to fix it to the strap of your goggles or costume.
The initial set up is very simple, plug it in to a computer and charge it up, I found that the first time this took just over 2 hours, the player automatically installed the appropriate drivers to my laptop. When it is fully charged the small LED on the front glows green, while charging it's red. Adding music to it is a very simple drag and drop process, either direct between folders or using the 'playlist builder' software which comes with the MP3. the box includes instructions to convert music purchased on itunes to MP3 so it can be played on this too.
I find that the player clips easily on my goggles when I wear them but unless placed in exactly the right place on the back of my head the extra drag from the unit pulls my goggles out of place making it rather uncomfortable, so usually I clip it on to the shoulder strap of my swim suit, I'm not particularly tall and don't have an unusually long neck so the ear phone cable is long enough to reach without pulling the buds uncomfortably while I swim, this is helped by the cable having a coiled section so it is kept fairly taut but still has some give to it. That said having bought a second costume lately I find that it's almost impossible to attatch securely to the newer one as it has thicker stitching on the straps so I prehaps need to get used to the more annoying goggle fixture.
One of the male swimmers who borrowed it said that for him the irritation of having it on his head was worse than listening to the gossipers, and even with the extension it wasn't the most comfortable fit when clipped at waist level - though Speedo do also sell an armband I would imagine that this for me at least would be even more of an annoyance due to the wires being so very much in the way of your arm movements.
The sound quality dry is decent, its not stunning but it's acceptable through the provided earphones, in the water as long as you manage to keep your earbuds in place the quality remains great, if however one comes out the water in the ear canal and in the bud itself will cause it to sound muffled - just like when pools used to play music through loudspeakers and you were listening to it from underwater. As these are designed for use in the water once they have got wet it's not a problem I tend to rinse the whole unit in the sink when I get home - obviously it would be a bad idea to let it all get wet without the earphone jack firmly in place!
For me the big downside to the unit is the earbuds, they fit comfortably and feel secure when I have the right size of covers on them, but the hooks which are designed to keep the buds more securely in the ear are too loose over my ears and are not solidly fixed to the bud so can move independently of the bud which means that unless I'm wearing a hat I'm uncomfortably aware of them moving around as I swim - if I tumbleturn I tend to find it pulls one of them out more often than not. If I don't get more used to them I plan on looking for an alternative set of water proof ear buds without the hooks. I also feel that this join is most likely to be the weak point in the set, the cable between the hook and bud must be under some strain with the two solid surfaces either side so I would guess it'll be the bit that splits, I'd actually have liked if the hook part was removable so you could choose if to use them or not.
The Aquabeat is advertised as having up to an 18 hour battery life, as yet I've not used it for longer than 90 minutes at a time and due to being fussy about my swimming music end up plugging it back in to my laptop to alter the tracks on it thus recharging it.
Operating it is very simple the front has two buttons, forward/on and backward/off, when turned on it has a green flashing LED, if the battery is low the LED flashes red and green. On the top is the volume control. To make turning it on easier in the water the forward/on button is textured with small raised dots while the other half is smooth. If you want to repeat a track you can do so pressing the backbutton for a second or two after the track as been playing for at least 15 seconds - but pressing it too long turns the whole thing off.
As I also scuba dive I would like it if this unit was rated as suitable for withstanding pressure but among the literature in the box with it there is no mention of its ability to accompany me on dives so I won't be risking it.
Overall I really like my Aquabeat, the sound quality is good, it helps me focus on what I'm supposed to be doing and strangely when I'm using it people seem to keep out of my way more - presumably because they think I'm less aware of my surroundings and more likely to swim in to them. The netbag is far bigger than it needs to be for just the MP3 and headphones, so I use it to keep my hat, goggles and locker token together instead of them being loose in my kit bag. My minor gripes about the ability to fix it to my swim suit reliably and the hooks on the ear phones have lost it that one star.
Aside from reviewing I do quite a bit of product testing and one of the recent products I was sent to trial was a Head and Shoulders Apple Fresh Shampoo and Conditioner set after Head and Shoulders made some changes to the scent formula. This is the review of the Shampoo.
I'm lucky I have mid length dark blonde hair, which is on the whole slightly wavy and shiny no matter what I do with it, so I often wonder at the assorted claims which are made by the manufacturers of hair care products, but I do come from a family for whom dandruff seems to be a common problem - thankfully one which doesn't affect me as yet - so anti dandruff shampoos are a product which seem to have a permenant presence in the bath and shower rooms at home.
So after recieving this pair of products in the post I was somewhat indifferent to its anti dandruff abilities but it was sent due to the change in scent formula, and surprisingly I couldn't find a bottle of the original formula in the house to check against so this is only my observations on this new varient without the benefit of knowing about the older one.
Opening the flip top I found that there was a slight apple scent but nothing too strong nor was it one which I found myself still noticing even a minute after opening the bottle. In the shower I found that opening the bottle and pouring it on to my hand even holding it close to my nose the apple scent was barely perceptible.
The product itself is as seems to be the norm for Head and Shoulders products a creamy texture in the colour associated with the scent -in this case no so surprisingly light green.
Washing my hair was a typically easy process, and the shampoo seemed to rinse out just as easily as my usual shampoos, with a nice lather - some shampoos seem to have no lather at all while others it seems to be too thick.
I used the shampoo both with and without the matching conditioner.
With the conditioner my hair was noticably darker and heavier leaving me to believe that it doesn't as claimed leave no residue.
Without I found that the heavy residue was lessened but not entirely absent, meaning I really didn't feel that my hair was all that clean at all. After blow drying there was also a complete absence of apple scent - even the cheap £1 a bottle shampoo I typically use I find leaves some scent on my hair several hours after I've washed and dried it so I was rather unimpressed with the 'new scent formula' of this one.
Another concern was that the day after I first used this shampoo and conditioner combo I woke up to find one side of my face was covered in a rash, I'd changed no other product in my "beauty" regime (if my wash with water, and dry on a towel habits count as a regime), and hadn't been wearing any make up - though what little I do own and occasionally wear is meant to be hypo-allergenic, or other scented products. After giving my skin time to recover I found that the next time I used the shampoo without the conditioner the same thing occured but to a less noticable level so removed them from my bathroom and in to my Dads where he has said that he's suffered no similar after effects on his skin and hadn't even noticed it was a scented product!
Christmas '13 was a strange one for my family, my Nana is terminally ill, and has been living with my Mum and Step Dad since late October under the care of a team of carers and nurses trained in palliative care. As as a result the house feels at times like a public space not a home, so my Step Dad decided that my Mum needed a holiday as soon as he could find cheap flights to Tenerife where they have a second home, but he decided that Mum really didn't need a relaxing trip so he also booked my sister and I flights as a Christmas present. My packing tends to be on the light side at the best of times but I'd not long finished my last decent lip balm containing SPF so knew that it was pretty much the only thing I'd need to seek out before the trip, so on a visit to Tesco with my Dad I sougt out the section for lip balms and picked up the one with the highest SPF.
That one happened to be the Vaseline lip care cocoa butter stick with an SPF of 15 over the likes of Chapstick who these days have an SPF of only 10. My past experience with vaseline products has been on the whole positive so I was happy to try out the new to me product for which I paid £2.
The stick is a typical lipstick style tube with a solid stick of vaseline which twists up and down. The lid seems to clip quite securely over the top which is reassuring as I've lost several lipbalms to assorted dirt and muck in my pockets or bags after the lids have come loose.
So the product itself, is a creamy brown coloured stick, the scent is similar to traditional vaseline but with a slight sweetness to it. Rubbing it across my lips it feels quite greasy, in the same way that original vaseline does, and it is detectable on my lips for a fairly long period of time after applying as long as I'm not eating, drinking or swimming. Of course having bought this for my holiday I knew I would be swimming regularly and spending time on the beach where I find that my face in particular will come off worst in the battle between sun and skin so a lip balm which felt like it was staying put was a bonus.
The downside to the lip balm for me is that it has a taste - even breathing in through my mouth leaves a taste of it in the back of my throat which is not overly pleasant, not to mention the issue of being on a black sand beach on an usually windy day - my face was sandblasted, my lips just had sand stuck to them, and the taste of the salt stuck to the balm on my lips after a swim. The salt on my lips after swimming was one of my biggest bugbears, unlike most people I tend to get in the water and swim for at least 40 minutes so going in with no sun protection on my face and lips is absolutely not an option but with a balm which does stay put the accumulated salt is quite nasty to taste.
After a week of constant use the balm is barely used at all so I would imagine it will last me at least another month if I was to use it daily, of course in a warmer climate it felt lighter and greasier when applied but using it back here since I've been home although the stick is harder it still remains greasy feeling on the skin and hasn't really done much to moisturise my skin, since coming home my lips have suffered from tight dry skin despite using the lip balm regularly and having ensured that I have remained well hydrated throughout my holiday and since I returned.
I will say however that in terms of an SPF it has been entirely successful, most trips out to Tenerife I end up with a sunburned face and lips even in the winter months, this time out I came home with slightly tender shoulders but no problem with my face or lips so the Lip Therapy has at least lived up to that claim, however I think the next time I travel I'll find another product with similar or greater SPF to try as the general greasiness and lack of moisturisation provided by this product makes it low on my list of things to try using again.
My £2 bought a 4g tube of balm which is a pretty typical price, and its effectiveness in preventing my lips from burning in the sun gain it stars. But the greasiness, back of the throat taste and stickiness lose it stars leaving it with an over all of 3.
I love hot chocolate but was starting to get slightly bored of the typical hot instant hot chocolate, so while I was out shopping with my Mum she offered to treat me to a pot to keep at her house for while I've been doing over nights helping to care for my Nana.
We couldn't find a flavoured one we both agreed on then spotted this one on the shelf and thought it was worth a try.
Getting it home piercing the foil there is a definite scent of creamy chocolate, the chocolate powder is as you would expect the same soft light texture as most hot chocolates but a cream colour.
The directions suggest to use three teaspoons of powder per mug, generally I've found using slightly less two and a half is typical is more to my liking.
After boiling the kettle the first problem I found with this is that no matter how carefully you stir while pouring the water there it is very difficult to actually get to mix properly, there always seems to be small lumps floating in the surface. Once I've either fished out the bigger of the remaining lumps or accepted that I can't get rid of them the overall appearance of the drink isn't too bad, there is a thin layer of what in normal hot chocolate is light coloured foam on the surface. The drink under this layer looks very thin and watery, regardless of how much of the powder you use.
The scent is quite sweet and creamy as you would expect from white chocolate.
Taste wise this is quite disappointing, white chocolate is usually very sweet and creamy, the drink version is mostly very sweet, there is a some creaminess to it but not very much. As with the Tesco cheap hot chocolate I reviewed previously I found that the addition of a splash of milk does help the flavour but then with an instant product you really wouldn't expect to be needing to add anything else.
It's a chocolate product so the drink isn't overly healthy but as it's part of the Options range it is meant to be lower in calories than others. The guide suggests that for 11g of powder made up with 200ml of water will contain 44 calories, but a very high 5.4g of sugar which explains that it is very sweet. A 220g pot of Options will cost between £2 and £3.20 depending on the supermarket and any offers available so it isn't too bad price wise. But given the disappointing flavour I would say that if you want to swop your usual chocolate drink I would be thinking about the flavoured varieties in the Options range rather than this one.
My sister really needs to take better care of her cider...another bottle managed to fall in to my hands on a recent trip to the fridge. This time it was a bottle of Brothers Strawberry which elected for its end of life in my glass.
Each bottle of Brothers contains 500ml of cider, this one is Pear cider with strawberry juice and comes in at a fairly usual 4%ABV.
So opening the cap there is a sweet and distinctly strawberry scent coming from the bottle. Pouring it in to a glass the cider is a rich red colour, and ever so slightly cloudy.
The flavour in the first mouthful is rather blandly sweet, there is an aftertaste of strawberry but this is gone almost immediately. Swilling a mouthful of cider around in my mouth brings out hints of the pear base to the cider but the strawberry remains a rather disappointing weak flavour. That said it is nice to find a strawberry flavoured product which isn't immediately identifiable as artificially flavoured.
Allowing the cider to warm up slightly I found that the sweetness just became too much for me and didn't do much to improve the strength of the strawberry flavour.
Getting toward the end of the bottle I found myself struggling to finish it, bored of the lack of flavour and aftertaste it just started to taste sweet but of nothing in particular.
Overall I won't be allowing any more of these to find themselves in my glass, I prefer my cider to have a sweetness to it, but I also like for it to have a distinct flavour where it is advertised as flavoured, with this one the only real flavour was to be found when you swilled it around your mouth a little and at that point it was the pear flavour which was brought out not the strawberry. I think for fans of strawberry flavours there are plenty of other cider brands making strawberry flavoured varieties which actually do taste of the soft fruit itself making it rather feel that Brothers have missed a trick with their offering.
Cost wise it seems that typically you should be paying between £2 and £2.20 for an individual bottle but often there are multi buy offers and Brothers sell their products as multipack cans also with 4.550ml cans costing around £5 where they are available.
I like the occasional alcoholic drink. I'm also a big fan of Rekorderlig ciders so when my Sister brought home a case of their limited edition Winter Cider I was keen to sneek a bottle out and give it a try.
According to the label Winter Cider is their Apple cider blended with cinnamon and vanilla. On the whole I prefer my cider chilled but this one they suggest can be heated up with a slice of orange for a warming winter drink.
On opening initially there was little scent from the bottle, after a minute or so (yup I really did wait that long before trying it) there was a hint of the cinnamon and vanilla scent from the bottle.
My first taste was pleasing, the typical Rekorderlig apple flavour was nicely enhanced by the hints of cinnamon and vanilla. The after taste is light and not overpowering with stronger hints of the vanilla. There is a level of sweetness to the cider which is to be expected from the addition of the vanilla but it is not perceptably sweeter to my taste than the plain apple cider. The cider is slightly sparkling and the combination of fizz and fairly delicate flavours is lovely chilled. In the glass the cider looks just like the regular apple cider, being a light yellowish colour.
Deciding that it would only be fair to try the cider both warmed and in the chilled state I poured 2/3 of the bottle in to a glass and the remaining 1/3 in to a mug. They recommend warming it on a hob but as I don't have any small pans I left mine to wam to room temperature in the mug and then microwaved it for 30 seconds.
Obviously in a mug the colour is roughly the same and the scent rising from the warmed drink is somewhat stronger than that of it in its chilled state. I don't have any oranges handy (we're not big of fruit as a family) so I can't say if the orange would enhance the flavour further or not. But warmed the flavours are pretty much the same, again the sweetness from the apples with the hints of cinnamon and vanilla, though the cinnamon comes through as a stronger aftertaste when warmed. I suspect that warming it on the hob with slices of orange in the pan would add a subtle citrus hint to it which I would imagine is equally pleasant this is merely a guess.
The flavour is pleasant both hot and cold.and I found that the one smuggled bottle didn't last anywhere near as long as I would have liked it to.
One bottle contains 50cl (or 500ml) or cider, and has an ABV of 4%, which works out to be just over 2units per bottle.
I quite often see Rekorderlig on offer in supermarkets where you would expect to pay roughly £10 for a mutipack of 6 or £2 individually (often 3 for £5). It is also available in pubs and bars where it tends to have a price comparable to Magners and Bulmers products.
One of the problems with letting your parents move house for you is that those last little bits of packing you planned to get done while things were being taken out to the van suddenly get done for you before you get home from work (or at least that's what happened to me) and has led to my spending a few afternoons lately rescuing things from my Mum garage before the weather turns any colder or damper.
One of the things I rescued this afternoon was the box containing my 'packing day brew kit' as much of it was contained in cardboard containers, including this hot chocolate.
I'm a big fan of chocolate drinks but find it hard to justify the cost of buying the high end brands, so decided a while ago to see if it was worth buying really cheap hot chocolate or if I should stick to the mid level brands.
Like much of the tesco value range this has undergone a restyle lately and now comes in a heavy cardboard cylindrical tub and has been renamed Everyday Value. The packaging does look much more appealing now than the plain white label of the previous version as it is now cream with red lettering and red and maroon images of cups, mugs, kettles and spoons beside a photo of a mug of the drink.
Opening the lid and removing the foil seal the chocolate powder looks much like any other - its a light brown coloured fine powder. The smell is quite definitely chocolatey.
The instructions suggest you should put five 28g measures of powder in to a mug to make a 200ml drink - when following this direction I found that the bottom of my mug contained a sludge of undissolved powder so since I have tended to use only 3 teaspoons of powder for a mug.
So the all important taste test and scent test.
Adding water to the powder it looks a rather insipid thin coloured drink but this could be down to my using 2 spoons less than the recommended quantity of powder. The smell rising from the hot drink is a warm chocolate scent, not a particularly rich scent but pleasing enough. Taste wise I was surprised at just how much I enjoyed it, the look of the drink left me expecting it to be somewhat tasteless but it was actually a lovely chocolate flavour, not particularly rich and very sweet but definitely comfortingly chocolatey.
Generally I now add a splash of milk to my drink it makes the colour look slightly less watery and does add a slightly more luxurious dimension to the flavour, I expect if you wanted to you could make the entire drink with milk but as it already contains dried milk I don't see that there is much point in that.
In terms of the allergens present the obvious one is milk, there should be no nut products present but they won't guarentee it and it is suitable for vegetarians. When made up according to the instructions it contains 110 calories, and 15g of sugar which explains the sweetness. The calorific content is one reason - another being my poor teeth not liking the sugar - I don't drink hot chocolate all the time but as an occasional treat.
This 400g tub will cost you a whole 58p.
Overall I am perfectly happy to keep buying this particular variety of hot chocolate, it's a good compromise between my enjoyment of money saving and my enjoyment of a comforting hot chocolate on a cold day, the flavour is a little weak compared to the more expensive brands and it is very sweet but as I have a sweet tooth I don't mind that so much, and the addition of milk does help to bring down the overall sweetness. But this definitely won't be a product for those to love dark chocolate but then very few chocolate drinks suit those who prefer the darker more bitter styles.
Today October 26th is the start of this years Period of Rememberance, the time of year when people start weaing paper Poppies, which we lose, or spend half our time redjusting and sticking pins in to our fingers or flesh in the process - or is that just me?
For the last 5 or 6 years I'd chosen to buy one of the small metal pin poppies so save myself the blood loss and potential infections but in 2010 I started to see people wearing very pretty sparkly Poppies. I didn't think anything of it until 2011 when I decided to have a look and see if I could get myself one. I found it on the poppyshop website, and was pleased to see that there were three different sizes.
I made my selection and ordered the small brooch for £12.20 inc postage.
When it arrived I was pleased to see that the brooch is made of reassuringly heavy gold coloured metal with the red and black crystals securely inlaid. I'm not a girl who likes a lot of bling so while it is pretty and has some sparkle it isn't overly bling.
As a reference the small sized brooch is 3.5cm long from the tip of the stem to the highest point of the poppy petal.
Two years on the Poppy looks good as new, the crystals are still firmly in place, and the red colour applied to the bare metal between them has not lifted away despite my having put the brooch through the wash on more than one occasion.
The clash of the brooch is a very solidly constructed hinged pin with a twist securing device.
The Poppy is presented in a simple black card box with Buckley on the lid and the website address on the base in discrete silver lettering. Inside the Brooch is pinned to the black foam inner which has a small sticker on it stating that it is a Royal British Legion product.
I have to say that prior to ordering my Buckley Poppy I'd never heard of Buckley but have since picked up several of their pieces second hand and all seem to be constructed with the same attention to detail and high quality finish.
My Buckley Poppy lives on the lapel of one of my jackets year round but during the period of Rememberance it will be transferred between outfits, and it has garnered favourable comments by most people who have seen it regardless of the time of year.
This year I have decided to retire my original Buckley and have ordered the new for 2013 design Buckley Poppy (medium £15, large £25) but I will no doubt be wearing both at various points over the next few weeks.
After my original move down south I quickly began to put on weight due to having stopped running and started eating more of the junk food readily available at my new work place, for a while I ignored it until my favourite dress wouldn't zip up. For the next couple of years I would walk in to town weekly to weigh myself on the large scales in a branch of Boots, eventually I got bored of this and gave up. The result has been than I let the weight creep back on but having moved back up north I'm living too far from town to walk in so decided the time had come to invest in some bathroom scales for the house in an attempt to keep myself on track.
I had some Love2Shop vouchers which were close to expiring so while in town running some other errands I popped in to Argos to see if they had any digital scales which would suit me.
These ones stood out on the page as they were a reasonable price, a brand name I am familiar with (having used Salter commercial weighing devices at previous jobs) and in a nod to my female genetics the fact they are my favourite colour!
Out of the box the scales are surprisingly slim, roughly the depth of a 50p coin. Being mainly of glass construction they are clear with the teal sections where the ciao photo shows them as silver with the exception of the silver coloured metal area you need to place your feet on to,
Initially setting up the scale is quick and easy, remove the tab from the battery compartment ad tap the top to activate - though they say 'tap' I find that you do have to be rather firm with it.
At this point you can either set up the user data or just get a weight reading. I set it up with my own data so you can input sex (male/female), height, and age. The height can be input as either cm or ft and inches, but this depends on the setting you have for weight. Setting the data is simple, press the middle button until the number blinks, use the buttons on either side to increase or decrease the blinking value and press the centre button to confirm and select the next user defined value - so user number, sex, height and age are alterable in that order.
Altering the output unit is easy, there is a switch on the base which allows you to select lbs, stone, or kg. If you do alter this the scale automatically converts the data already input, so for me I initially input my height in cm but on changing the weight display option it converted it to feet and inches.
Stepping on to it the weight is displayed quickly, if you have set up the user data after displaying the weight reading for a couple of seconds the scale will show you the body fat %, this is displayed on screen as a 'o' figure in one of four locations to indicate low, normal (there are two possible locations for normal) or high - this is when it doesn't then cycle through and show the value numerically.
According to the instructions at this point it should cycle through your weight, body fat and BMI readings but more often than not it doesnt do this but turns itself off, on the whole the only times that these do display all the possible information seems to be when I have just got out of the shower and my feet are damp - if my feet are completely dry the scale will only show me my weight and won't even attempt to analyse my body fat.
Obviously this isn't a big problem for me as my main priority is knowing my weight, as if you really need to know the BMI there are plenty of places to access the charts online to calculate this for yourself.
The display screen is a good size, and the values shown are in large clear digits, which suits me, though my very short sighted father has said that he struggles to see the numbers - though he tends to also suffer from selective hearing loss when his Dr tells him he's over weight so it could be a part of the same condition.
I find that the scales are easily cleaned, being glass they simply wipe down, and there are no cleaning fluids which the instructions suggest should not be used (which is nice, should I ever actually bother to clean them with something other than a damp cloth).
I use mine on a hard tiled floor but for those who have carpetted bathrooms or wish to use these in any other room they do come with 'carpet feet' these are necessary, as an experiment I placed mine on a rug and discovered that I had lost almost 1/3 of my weight in seconds!
Overall I would say these seem to be accurate scales, for the basic how heavy am I question, but the additional features are somewhat hit and miss, I would be disappointed if I had bought these specifically for those features. If you are part of a family its easy enough to set up the four user modes but since I'm the only one who ever really uses it this isn't something which worries me overly.
Salter give their products decent guarantees, in this case 15 years, and they not to be used by anyone weighing more than 23 stone. The battery seems to be easy to change and is the relatively common CR 2032 button cell, but as yet I haven't had to change it so am unsure as to how long to expect it to last.
I paid £24.99 for the scales at Argos but paid using vouchers I had earned from doing surveys, they can be bought for around £20 on amazon and a variety of other retailers carry them for similar prices. I would suggest that they're not the best value given the hit and miss nature of the BMI, and body fat analysis features but given they do seem to be reliable for weight readings I am comfortable to recommend them to anyone who like me fancies having pretty coloured bathroom scales.
Having finished off my previous moisturiser I went back to my somewhat chaotic storage area in the garage to seek out one of my toiletries boxes to find another product to stave off the post holiday dryness.
The first product I came across was this E45 Dermatological Lotion. I remember my mother always had in on hand when my sister and I were children but haven't used it myself since, so having some knowledge of its pedigree I had high hopes for this product.
I'm pretty sure that I recieved this product as part of a BZZ Campaign last year along with a new product in the E45 range.
The bottle I have is the 200ml pack, which is a plain white bottle with a simple white label with the logo and some basic information on the front. E45 is sold as a Dermatological product meaning it is fragrance free and hypoallergenic meaning it should be suitable for all skin types and not cause any skin irritation.
Opening the flip lid and pouring out a little of the lotion I was surprised at how thin and viscous the product was - I could have sworn it was thicker in my childhood memories - meaning that to begin with I found that I simply had too much product on my skin and it would not rub in at all, after several minutes of attempting to get the lotion to sink in to my skin I got fed up and wiped it all off with a towel.
My subsequent attempts left me with a smaller more managable amount of the lotion on my skin, but I still found that even in the drier areas of my skin, the product didn't sink in quickly and my skin was left feeling somewhat greasy. Luckily I tend to moisturise before bed so I don't need to worry too much about the lotion transferring on to my clothes rather than doing its job and moisturising my skin.
In the mornings my skin doesnt feel as dry as it had been doing but is still not as soft as it was when I was using the body butter product previously.
As a fragrance fee product there is no scent added to the lotion and while you can smell the product while you are applying it there is no residual scent afterwards so it won't clash with other scented products you might be using alongside it.
The product claims to have a non greasy formula which I would say is quite inaccurate though it may be formulated to be minimally greasy I find it does feel greasy on my skin but once it has sunk in it doesnt leave any residual grease.
Overall I would say that for day to day moisturising purposes E45 probably isn't for me, but I have skin which doesnt suffer from any sensitivities at all. For anyone with sensitive skin or small children then I would imagine this is a standard part of the bathroom cabinet.
I expect that once I've used up this bottle I won't be buying any more of the original E45 Lotion, especially as the 200ml bottle is currently retailing for around £4.85 which seems rather expensive for such a simple product.
In the process of trying to use up some of the accumulated stuff in my toiletries box in my bathroom I finally managed to finish off the Body Shop Scrub which I'd had hanging around for ages, and decided to move on to this option Superdrug's Coconut and Shea Body Polish.
The packaging is currently the same as the image dooyoo have used above, clear plastic tube with large dark product stickers showing pictures of the ingredients and the product information.
Inside the body polish is a rather dull looking creamy coloured gel with small black scrubby bits, the scent as you open it is predominantly coconut with a warm nutty hint of the shea.
Squeezing some out on to my hand I was suprised at how sparse the scrubby bits seemed to be, but set to work massaging the gel in to my skin, after using the body shop scrubs I was quite disappointed not to be able to feel the gel scrubbing my skin, but then this is a polish rather than a scrub. It does lather a little but not as much as most shower gels. On subsequent uses I used my shower puff to apply the gel this helped the polish to lather up a little more and meant that the scrubbing properties were not utilised. The scent on my skin was light and pleasing, and hangs around in the bathroom for a little while after you've finished, but is barely detectable on the skin even immediately after drying off.
The polish despite not seeming to particularly help polish my skin has had a softening effect, this presumably due to the shea butter content.
Sadly if you're looking for a shower product to help slough off the dry dull layers of skin this probably isn't it, but it does smell good and isn't such a strong scent that it would over power any additional fragrance you may choose to wear after showering. The are several other products available in the coconut and shea range including a Butter, Lotion and Hand Wash.
Superdrug Body Polish products are currently available costing £1.99 instore or online though this particular one is listed as out of stock.
One of the things I forgot to do when I was moving house was to take out of my toiletries box my dry shampoo before the vans came to take my stuff in to storage so one of the first things I had to do once I'd moved in to my friends spare room was a trip to the shop to replace it. I have a preference for Batiste dry shampoos as they tend to be easier to use than some of the more expensive brands and as they're available at most supermarkets they're easy to get hold of too.
On this occasion I struck lucky, as I was browsing the reductions shelf a shiny gold coloured can sporting a familiar logo caught my eye, yup it was a can of Batiste for Light and Blonde hair. Normally I stick to the regular and scented versions as I've never been too sure if my dark blonde hair will look silly with a coloured dry shampoo in it. But since the can had no lid it'd been reduced to £1.40 I decided it was worth a try.
So it was with some trepidation I picked up the can a few days later when I felt my hair needed a quick refresh before I went out for a drink after work. Starting with one side I held my hair up to expose the greasier roots and gave it a quick blast from the can, then finger combed it through, though the shampoo was visible initially once I had combed it through it vanished, and this on the darkest layers of my hair, so I followed up with a more confident blast of shampoo around my entire head, leaving an ashy looking layer which quickly vanished as I brushed it though, taking with it the worst of the greasy appearance.
I'd say that this version of the dry shampoo is perhaps a little less effective than the normal version, in that over a few uses I find I'm noticing the return of the grease less than a day after spraying where as with the regular versions I tend to be able to stretch to a day and a half before it becomes noticably greasy again.
Equally I find with the regular ones I can't "layer" it, one refresh is enough, anymore and my hair looks clumpy despite not appearing greasy, whereas with the blonde version I can with some care get away with a second application of the shampoo before I end up with my hair appearing the same way.
Although the dry shampoo for blondes isn't specifically named as a scented shampoo there is a strong vanilla scent which has been commented on when I've worn it so is still present even after I've stopped noticing the scent, giving my hair a good sniff the morning after an evening use I can generally detect something of the vanilla scent but only faintly.
Given the shampoo is coloured I had a few concerns about it rubbing off on to light coloured clothes or pillow cases, happily I haven't had any colour transfer to speak of, but the can does say that if it does get on to fabric it will wash out.
My discounted can has been used 8 or 9 times over the last month and is still roughly half full, so for me I'd say it's pretty good value even at full price.
Overall quite simply the dry shampoo works, just like every other variety of Batiste I've tried out over the years. For me the trick to using it is to spray sparingly and brush through before adding a little more until the grease is gone, over doing it makes you look somewhat silly, with ashy looking powdered hair which frankly utterly defeats the point of a dry shampoo to cover up a bad hair day!
In future I will happily pick up the hint of colour variety again when I run out. It costs the same as the scented cans and while it isn't as long lasting the fact I can layer it gives it an alternate plus point - probably be this one I choose to take on long weekends away rather than risking taking the scented ones where I know I'll end up wishing I had time to wash my hair properly by day 3.
As I said at the start I paid £1.40 for my can, the full retail price was apparently £2.66 for the 200ml can. According to mysupermarket at the moment the price is around £3.99 for this size.
The other hint of colour varieties are Deep Dark Brown and Brunette and they appear to only be available in the 200ml size.
Still attempting to use up items from my toiletries stash after finishing the Mango Body Whip I reviewed a little while ago I went seeking my next moisturiser. I came across a bag of Body Shop Body Butters, among the six present this Shea Body Butter was the only one already opened so it has become my skins most recent softner.
The Body Shop Body Butters come in solid colour pots, the colour of each pot related to the typical colour of the contents so immediately you have an idea that Shea will be a creamy colour. The image on the label on the lid shows attractively striped nuts in a brown shell. The text proclaims that this is Community Trade Shea and suitable for very dry skin.
Opening the screw top there is instantly a warm creamy scent rising from the product. As expected from the colour of the packaging the butter is a creamy white shade. The texture of the butter is as the name suggests thick and butter, when applied to my skin it unlike butter does not feel greasy.
Having just returned from a holiday abroad my skin is currently a little drier than usual, so the rich texture of the butter makes it feel like a reassuringly moisturising product. I find that in terms of applying the butter a little goes a very long way, I tend to swipe two of my fingers across the surface of the butter and then massage it in to the area to be moisturised, by this measure, two fingers will cover one arm, and it takes two swipes to comfortably cover each leg, though particuarly dy areas such as my elbows I often add a little more butter to help soften them futher.
The butter in the driest of areas sinks in to my skin almost immediately, less dry areas of skin I find tend not to absorb the butter quite so quickly, but after ten minutes or so there is no evidence of the butter remaining to touch and my skin does feel considerably softer. After shaving my legs I find on occasion that moisturisers and butters can cause irritation, with this product there is no reaction at all.
Scent wise as noted at the opening of the container it is a lovely scent, very natural which for Body Shop products is quite unusual as often I find the fruit scents are artificially strong. This warm creamy nutty scent I find after applying the Butter in the evening before I go to bed is still present on my skin when I get up the next morning though it is not over powering.
As with all Body Shop products this is not the cheapest of products a larger (200ml) tub will set you back £13, while a smaller 50ml version is available in store and as part of a gift set - which I believe is where I obtained mine, sets of 4 50ml butters are often available for around £10, and of course the Body Shop is well known for its regular sales and special offers.
As with my Mango Whip review I won't repeat the claims which many people make as to the natural background of the product - frankly the ingredients list would make a mockery of that attempt (see the end of the review if you need to check this information). But the Community Trade project which Body Shop uses to source ingredients in this case sources the Shea from Tungteiya Women's Shea Butter Association in Ghana.
Overall while at times I find the Body Shop's constant shouting about green credentials tiresome I do find that for the most part I like their products and this butter is no exception to this. I enjoy the scent, it is not over powering or artificial and my skin does seem to enjoy the butter, though if the butter would be too heavy for my skin in its normal state remains to be seen as even now I would be hard pressed to describe my skin as 'very dry' just at little drier than usual. At the moment though I would happily purchase it again (if not for the stash I have to work through first!) and will certainly be happy to try out other products in the range such as the lip butter, body wash or scrubs.
Aqua (Water) (Solvent/Diluent), Butyrospermum parkii (Shea Butter) (Emollient), Cyclomethicone (Emollient), Theobroma cacao (Cocoa Butter) (Emollient), Glycerin (Humectant), Glyceryl Stearate (Emulsifier), PEG-100 Stearate (Surfactant), Cetearyl Alcohol (Emulsifier), Cera Alba (Beeswax) (Emulsifier/Emollient), Orbignya oleifera (Babassu Oil) (Emollient), Lanolin Alcohol (Stabiliser/Emollient), Phenoxyethanol (Preservative), Parfum (Fragrance), Methylparaben (Preservative), Propylparaben (Preservative), Xanthan Gum (Viscosity Modifier), Benzyl Alcohol (Preservative), Disodium EDTA (Chelating Agent), Linalool (Fragrance Ingredient), Coumarin (Fragrance Ingredient), Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone (Fragrance Ingredient), Limonene (Fragrance Ingredient), Butylphenyl Methylpropional (Fragrance Ingredient), Sodium Hydroxide (pH Adjuster), Citronellol (Fragrance Ingredient), Citral (Fragrance Ingredient), Geraniol (Fragrance Ingredient), Eugenol (Fragrance Ingredient), Caramel (Colour), CI 19140 (Colour).
In the recent hot weather I had been enjoying going to my work place canteen for a glass of iced tea but after running out of fruit juice at home while in my local shop was looking for either flavoured tea bags or a jar of instant tea to try to make my own at home.
This was the only instant tea product on the shelf in my Sainsbury Local so I thought I'd give it a try.
The jar contains 150g of finely powedered soluable tea. The instructions suggest making the product as a hot or cold drink, by simply adding two tea spoons of the product to a mug or glass and adding water.
Opening the jar a pleasant scent of lemon wafts up from the slightly unappetising looking greyish brown powder.
As I wanted iced tea I made mine up with cold water from the tap.
At the first attempt I found that the tea was not as sweet as I like and suffered somewhat from the luke warm local hard water. Though the taste was lemony it wasn't sharp or overpowering. I added half a tea spoon of sugar and found it more to my taste, the lemon flavour and scent being more defined (at least to my taste buds it seemed that way).
Looks wise unlike most premade, prepacked iced teas this tea is opaque and a fairly nasty looking shade of brown thanks to its being so cloudy.
Since then I have made up the tea using water from a filter jug which takes out the taste of the water itself, and allows the lemon flavour of the tea to be the only flavour I can taste, though I still add a little sugar to it, and unfortunately the appearence isn't improved at all by the 'clearer' water.
One serving of Lift is meant to contain 20% of an adults daily requirements for Vitamin C as well as a whole 24 calories.
Overall I do rather like this product though I would say that in future I would probably be looking for the other variety of instant tea which is not labelled as reduced sweetness. My jar cost £1.50 which seems to be about average, and can be found in most of the main supermarkets according to mysupermarket.
Lift is made by the Ty.phoo tea company and is available in several flavours including Peach, Apple, Lemon, and Reduced Sweetness Lemon, though it appears that the Lemon varieties are more commonly found.
I did suggest this as a separate product to dooyoo but they said it is already here - despite my review being of the reduced sweetness variety.