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Member since: 26.08.2010

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    • More +
      06.09.2010 22:59
      Very helpful
      1 Comment



      Economists aren't ALL dull...!

      "Few of us associate economics with ethics. Economics is a hard-nosed, pragmatic, "dismal science"; ethics is philosophical daydreaming. And the quote** seems to confirm the view that economics and ethics are strangers to each other. Freakonomics is perhaps the best-selling economics book, ever. But its authors are wrong. Economics is not what it appears to be. Economics is an odd kind of science (if it is a science at all) and it is not just about measurement." (Intro of a Skeptical Economist).


      As the quote above suggests, this book is about how there are some aspects of Economics that are incorrect. However, if we correct the classical economics, there is a great deal of insight we can deduce from economic theory. At the moment, there is a clear problem in that economists say that the economic theory would suggest this, given that we're in this model... but the world isn't in a perfect model (with a perfectly competitive market etc). This affects our everyday life, as there's a huge ongoing debate as to whether we should spend our way out of the recession or save until times improve.

      *Suitable for non-economists and economists alike*
      The book is easily understandable for those that have not studied economics formally, as he does not delve into the mathematics, and explains any economic terminology that he uses. Having said that, I read this book whilst studying for "Ethics in Applied Economics", an optional third year course for Economics students at UCL. The book is split into appropriate chapters, which makes delving in and out of the book an enjoyable experience, taking out the need to read and reread parts of the books if you don't read it all in one go.

      *Who would be interested in this*
      I think this book would be of interest to anyone interested in having an insight into how economists and policy makers think. If you have read other popular economics books such as Freakonomics, Armchair Economist and (no such thing as a) Free Lunch, then I believe you will enjoy this book. I think individuals interested in psychology would find this book interesting, as he uses refers to some psychological phenomena and work by Daniel Kahneman the Nobel laureate.

      *Who should NOT read this*
      I would not recommend anyone studying for A Level or GCSE Economics to read this. It goes against economic theory, and if those examinations are similar to when I took them (back in 2006), they do not encourage free thought. You are expected to learn the model and regurgitate it. I read the three books stated in the previous paragraph, and was often marked down for not going with the status quo. Wait until you've finished with those exams if you're interested :)

      *Chapters covered in the book*
      2. Sovereign Consumer. This turns the assumption that consumers are rational and know what they want on it's head. He goes through some examples which shows this is not necessarily the case, and how it is often wrong to assume "rationality" in an economic model.
      3. Two myths about Economic Growth. In this chapter, he talks about the way economic growth is measured, and whether they are indeed measuring the correct things. I think any attempts by me to summarise it would not do it justice, so I will stop here.
      4. The politics of pay. This chapter talks largely about the taxation, ethics and the idea of "deserve". The ethics sides kicks in, and we are asked to think what type of taxation is most fair (if any), and what is the best way to ethically think about. Do we use taxation to maximise happiness? [We can maximise happiness due to the "law of diminishing marginal utility" i.e. that the happiness experienced by a poor person from receiving a small extra amount of money will be greater than that experienced by a rich person receiving the same amount.]
      5. Happiness. This is my favourite chapter, as I am of the opinion that there should at least be an index that measures happiness (it's subjective, but can be done)- I'm not saying GDP should be replaced, just complemented with this index. What would be the point of having higher and higher productivity, if it doesn't necessarily lead to happier individuals (even though most people would agree they'd rather be happy than rich). I digress, I can discuss this further with anyone that is interested- feel free to send me a message :)
      6. Pricing Life and Nature. This is quite self explanatory, and helps you understand the way economists feel on the matter. This affects Cost Benefit Analyses and important government policy regarding climate change, and any projects that will affect people's lives (i.e. all projects). {If you are interested in reading a quote by the Chief Economist of the World Bank in 1991, please see the end of this review}***
      * 7. New Worlds of Money: Public Services and Beyond.
      In conclusion

      This is my favourite "popular economics" book yet, as it is written in an informative but humorous manner. More importantly, I believe the points that he raises are important and need to be challenged in the economic world. My only slight on this book would be writing sceptical with a "K", although I think it's meant to be similar to the "Skeptical Environmentalist".

      **If you are interested, the quoted phrase from Freakonomics that J.Aldred said was wrong is: "Morality, it could be argued, represents the way that people would like the world to work - whereas economic represents how it actually does work. Economics is above all a science of measurement".
      *** "Just between you and me, shouldn't the World Bank be encouraging MORE migration of the dirty industries to the less developed countries?... _The measurement of the costs of health-impairing pollution depends on the forgone earning from increased morbidity and mortality. From this point of view a given amount of health-impairing pollution should be done in the country with the lowest cost, which will be the country with the lowest wage. I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest-wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that."_
      Lawrence Summer, then Chief Economist of the World Bank in an internal memorandum of 1991 that was subsequently leaked.
      Sadly, the economic logic behind L.Summer's statement is true, yet it is morally repugnant. A prime example of when economics and ethics should mix.


      also available on ciao


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      • Vita Coco 100 % Pure / Soft Drink / 15 Readings / 15 Ratings
        More +
        02.09.2010 05:11
        Very helpful



        Pricey but rehydrates you with minimal calories

        As some of you may have read, I've recently become interested in coconut water. I have read several articles/blog posts on the subject, and wanted to try it out myself. Having purchased an expensive organic coconut water previously (Dr Young's brand), I wanted to go for a slightly cheaper option that is more widely available. A quick search for coconut water on ocado/ciao/google leads us to this brand: "Vita Coco".

        Vita Coco is a company that just sells coconut water. It was founded in 2003, after an American gentleman realised that Brazilians liked coconut water; and for good reason (more about that later). With the help of several celebrity investors (Madonna & Guy, Matthew McConaughey, Demi Moore and Anthony Kiedis (Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman). They have successfully branded their company, and now have several products/flavours:-
        - 100% pure
        - Peach and mango
        - Tangerine
        - Pineapple
        - Acai & Pom

        The product I'm reviewing is the 100% pure one; I don't think I will be trying the other flavours, as I like this taste and don't want to drink something with unnecessary ingredients in (if I'm drinking it for health benefits).

        The benefits of drinking coconut water is that it is 100% natural. There's no fat, and no cholesterol. It contains more potassium than two bananas, and it contains five essential electrolytes. Electrolytes are important as they replenish the body's water levels after dehydration caused by electrolytes. That all sounds very technical, but does it actually work? Is it better than drinking water?

        ~An experiment~
        In the interests of a fair (and hopefully informative) review, I decided to run an experiment. Ok, there are no lab coats involved, but I am trying to make it as accurate as possible. My experiment is in short me attending a 2 hour football training session twice. One time, I only drink water after the experiment. The other time, I drink coconut water after the experiment. To keep the conditions as similar as possible, I ensured that I:-
        ate the same diet at the same time of day (boiled egg with orange juice for breakfast & can of tuna for lunch with one spring onion and a glass of water).
        had a similar training session. Run up and down Primrose Hill once, followed by some drills and 30 minutes of getting down and dirty, playing football at the end.

        As I knew I would be dehydrated afterwards, I drank 830ml of water after my first training session, then 500ml of water and 330ml of coconut water after the second training session. I then observed what time it was until I felt dehydrated again.

        ~So what was my result?~
        I found that I was not thirsty until midnight having had the coconut water, but was thirsty at half ten after the water. The coconut water seemingly kept me hydrated for an extra 90 minutes(!) As well as that, the weather was different; it was actually hotter on the second training session, but I was less dehydrated.
        There is a caveat to this of course: it's not "scientifically proven" that it's a fact. It's "proven" by a reviewer on ciao with limited scientific knowledge. I'm also aware that there may be a placebo effect, and perhaps I willed myself to not want to be dehydrated having drunken the coconut water. Who knows.

        The packaging is a tetra pack carton, which ensures the product stays fresh. It is sealed by a foil (which I have taken a photo of), which reveals a sizable hole (about the size of a thumb print). It doesn't come with a straw, but you can easily drink from it. I think the design of the product is too crowded, and shows the inexperience of the company; it may be a matter of personal preference, but I far prefer branding similar to that of innocent drinks.

        ~Dietary information~
        The typical value per 100ml is as follows:
        Energy (19kcal)
        Protein (0g)
        Carbohydrates (5g) [of which sugars (5g)]
        Fat (0g)
        Fibre (0g)
        Sodium (12mg)
        Calcium (20mg)
        Magnesium (12mg)
        Potassium (224mg). This is 11% of RDA
        Vitamin C (45mg). This is 56% of RDA.
        Like a lot of packaging out there, I find that it can be misleading as the carton is 330g. The Vitamin C levels are 184.8% the RDA. I guess consuming too much won't do you any harm though...
        The coconut water is also suitable for vegetarians and gluten free diets.

        Oddly enough, this tastes different to the Dr Young's coconut water. It was sweeter, and didn't have such a strong coconut taste (not the malibu/bounty bar type coconut taste/smell, but the more bitter-sweet taste of coconut water). It's not quite as good as drinking it straight from the coconut, but given that is rarely an option, I would say this is a pretty good substitute.

        The average price is about £1.50 for a 330ml carton, available at Ocado, Holland&Barret, and from online stores such as amazon, goodness direct & planet organic. If you get really addicted to the coconut water, you can buy 1l for £4, or 12l for £50. As it is still a relatively new company, their price point seems to be quite flexible; I would therefore recommend shopping around for the product.

        ~Would I recommend it?~
        I wouldn't recommend this product as something you just buy to drink to replace fruit juice, as it's quite pricey. I would recommend you to consume this if you normally drink sports drinks after training; from my experience, it helps to rehydrate you, and there are no added nasties. There's also the benefit of there being very few calories (not as little as water, admittedly). If you do like the sound of coconut water and have not tasted it before, perhaps try a cheaper version first? You can buy cartons for 50p or so, but they will most likely not be 100% pure coconut water, and may have some additives.


        this review is also on ciao under the same username


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        • More +
          01.09.2010 19:02
          Very helpful



          Good for facial beginners

          This product is essentially a facial in a box. It costs £16, and you need to apply it yourself. I bought this as I'm still experimenting with what facial products to use, and the bottles they give are quite small size (15ml), and their other products are quite pricey, so at least I get to try a range.

          The products this comes with are as follows:
          - Brightening eye gel (5ml)
          - Polishing hot cloth cleanser (15ml)
          - Radiance exfoliator (15ml)
          - Illuminationg moisture lotion spf 15 (15ml)
          - Moisture boosting mask (15ml). **{Ok, at this point I'm quite annoyed. The pack opens up, with no security, and my mask is actually not in the pack!! I bought it from boots, and I very much doubt they can do anything about it. Grrr. I'll just have to go back and buy another one... For this review, I'm going to use my existing mask, and comment on the other products without the mask. Sorry. *sighs*. I will update it when I get it though}**

          ~The packaging~
          I was going to give it a fairly good review. I think it's nice that it opens up, and the products slides out. It's pretty, and practical as you can see what's in it whilst at the shop. Unfortunately, the mask/muslin cloth can be taken out as it's not secured under plastic, so please do check before you purchase yours!

          Would just like to let you know that I am writing this review as I try the products. I will edit it with updates the day after, to see how my skin feels then.

          The pack provides you with a muslin cloth. You're meant to soak it in warm water, then wring and put on your face to open your pores. The problem I find is that I can't soak it and wring it fast enough, and by the time it gets to my face it's not very warm anymore, so I don't think it'll be opening my pores. The muslin cloth has been used my many cultures for ages though, so I think this is just to do with me being an idiot. I cleansed my skin (twice, I'll start doing that now), and my skin feels very soft. But a bit blotchy. Perhaps I was "polishing" my face too vigorously, although I did try to follow the instructions to a tee.

          The exfoliator granules are quite large, so some of it seemed a bit wasted. It seems to have done the trick though, and the bits around my nose looks less bumpy. My skin is now even more blotchy. Interestingly, this exfoliator seems to be better than my clinique microgranule one, which doesn't give me this smooth effect. I am being more gentle with this one though, so perhaps it's my application that's changed things.

          Well, clearly, I can't do that right now. I will, instead use my normal mask. It's a tomate face pack from Korea, and I've been using it for a while with no side effects. My skin right now, feels soft and moisturised, by the way. Albeit slightly blotchy.

          4. EYE GEL (4/5)
          You are taught to dab the product on, instead of rubbing or sliding. I don't know how well it works, but it isn't sticky like my L'oreal eye gel.

          5. MOISTURISER (3/5)
          The moisturiser looks like a milky water, and applies on very easily. You are advised not to rub it in, but just spread it and it'll be absorbed. The cream is quite heavy, so leaves the face looking quite oily. Thankfully I only really do facials at night, so it's not too bad as I can use it like a night cream.
          Overall, my skin feels a bit better. I have definitely washed away the London grime, but I don't know if I have cleansed the pores. It does feel smoother though, and certainly brighter (even before I put the moisturiser one). I think the main thing for me is to have the step by step instructions. Normally if I'm given a product, I would apply it quite slaphazardly, and certainly wouldn't clean my face twice (if the products good enough, just once is enough... right?). I think using the muslin cloth to help cleanse works too, although I don't know how many times I can use it before it feels a bit ucky.Bacteria can build up even if you wash it, and I'm a bit wary of using flannels/sponges etc.

          I would recommend the product if you, like me, are quite clueless about the application of products, and would like to give yourself a facial. However, if you are a pro or already know how, then perhaps it's advisable to just buy the products separately.

          Skin still feels soft, but no noticeable difference to pores. My face does feel cleaner though, and less dull looking.


          review also up on ciao with same username


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        • More +
          01.09.2010 15:41
          Very helpful
          1 Comment



          Roast chicken + pastry + gravy = pie

          I'm not normally a ready made food kind of person, but I'm really rubbish at making pastry pies and had a bit of a craving for them whilst I was clicking through ocado. Who can resist "Roast British chicken in a rich gravy encrusted in shortcrust pastry"? Yum yummmm.

          It's priced very well, and is only £2.89 for 2 pies... They're quite small though, 220g each, but my boyfriend and I were full with 1 each (with a few baby potatoes and steamed butternut squash as sides).

          The packaging is no-nonsense and simple. The pies sit in a foil container, which you put into the oven, and the two pies are placed in the cardboard box, with no plastic bits. All recyclable, so you can pat yourself on the back (if you are that way inclined). My box was slightly squashed as our freezer is quite small, but it didn't damage the integrity of the pie in any way.

          ~Ease of cooking~
          You are advised to cook from frozen, so it's really quite simple. Preheat the oven to 200c, brush some milk or beaten egg over the top of the pastry and place it in the centre of the oven. Leave for 40 minutes, then follow the aroma back to the oven and take it out.

          ~The Pastry~
          The pastry was quite solid, but that's the way I like it. It didn't go all soggy from the gravy, and the top part was nice and crispy. My boyfriend prefers softer pastry that falls apart, so if you like that then this isn't for you. I think he's spoiled with home made pie though, and you don't really get pies from frozen like that (or do you..?)

          ~The Filling~
          You can really tell it's a Waitrose product when you look at the filling. The gravy is delicious (although there doesn't appear to be a lot of it) and a clearish light brown colour. The chicken chunks are clear chunks of meat and not some reconstructed rubbish, and the pie is packed very full with meat. I think this is why we were full even after a relatively small pie, as other larger pies can sometimes be filled with rubbish. It's also not overly salted like many other ready made products, and there is a clear chicken flavour (as one would expect from a chicken pie).

          ~Dietary information~
          Each pie contains:
          557 calories
          28.6g fat
          11.2g saturates
          1.54g salt
          4g sugars.
          Gah, I hate looking through the dietary information!

          Allergens: contains glutens
          Shortcrust pastry (50%), chicken gravy (27%), chicken (23%)

          I still think this is a very good pie (despite reading the dietary information and feeling a bit eurgh). It's a good "just in case" dinner to have in the freezer, although I think I'd stick with preparing my own food from scratch for now (I am very time rich at the moment) :)


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          • More +
            01.09.2010 02:54
            Very helpful
            1 Comment



            Does it's job, prevents hair loss, makes hair shiny but quite expensive

            I have always had long fine hair, but I noticed a few years back that more and more hair was falling out when I brushed my hair (unfortunately). I don't think it's a terribly good look, and discussed hair products/treatments I can have with my hairdresser (still the one at Rush, he also recommended the shu uemura product which I have also written a review for).

            The shampoo is silky, and you don't have to pour much onto your hand to create the lather. I tend to use the shampoo every other wash (and use my standard pantene the other times), as it is quite pricey. I have found that less hair falls out now, although this is down to a combination of: better diet, taking my iron tablets, shu uemura product and this shampoo.

            The smell is quite nice, but it's not a herbal essence type "hmmmm, I want to make weird noises in the shower" kind of smell. Just.. pleasant. The cap on mine also screws on and off, which is a slight annoyance, as I prefer the normal shampoo openings which flip up and down.

            Of course, having a healthy diet with more fish, nuts etc will help your hair stay in. (Also remembering to take your iron tablets, if you are anaemic like myself). But this is a great way of supplementing it by protecting your hair/scalp.

            I paid £16 for my shampoo from Rush, but I'm sure you can buy it online for cheaper. As I only use it every other wash, my bottle lasts for about 3 months, which is not too bad. If you do suffer from fine hair that comes out when you brush it though, I would recommend the shu uemura product more than this one (if you can only afford one).


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            • Canon EOS 400D / Digital Camera / 20 Readings / 18 Ratings
              More +
              31.08.2010 15:59
              Very helpful


              • Reliability
              • Reliability


              Excellent entry camera

              Canon 400D

              ~When I bought it~
              I bought this product back in May 2008, just before the Canon 450D came out. I purchased it from a website and it was shipped from USA, which proved to be cheaper. As such, my Canon is a "Digital Revel XTi" although it is exactly the same as the UK/EU version. It came with a minor tripod, the EFS 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens

              ~What I have used it for~
              My general type of photography are landscapes; I'm not very fond of taking portraits, and find that the kit lens is not very good for portraits (unless you use a flash, or the subject doesn't move). [I have purchased a "nifty fifty" since, a prime lens which is great for shooting in low light and making portraits more soft.] Annoyingly, in dark rooms (such as night clubs) I find it sometimes worth using my digital camera (Canon Ixus 980), as you can take photos in quick succession without having to wait for the flash to charge up. Having said that, I have taken some very nice... ok, passable, photos in some harsh environments such as: the beach (whilst windy), out in the torrential rain (with a makeshift cover), on top of the Dolomites and whilst zip wiring from tree to tree (I would not recommend the latter).

              As you can perhaps tell from my paragraph above, I do not take extremely good care of my camera. It gets dropped, I lose lens caps and is often left capless, and I bang it on things when I hang the strap to my side. Having said that, the camera is still in very good nick. I have however found that the flash sometimes does not pop up. I need to force it up, and switch camera on/off before I can use it. This problem occurs with my friend's canon 400d also; she, like myself does not take great care of her kit though, so don't let it put you off. It's just a minor inconvenience in any case. The grip over time has also been worn off, and I have lost my eye rester (for lack of a better term), but I am still very happy with this camera.

              ~Who it's good for~
              This is a great camera for anyone with an interesting in taking good photos, but have not got a DSLR yet. It's great for beginners, and the kit lens is good enough for the standard of photos you will want to take in your first year or so. After more experience learning how to use the camera, it would be advisable to buy more lenses, so you can create different types of photos. I would especially advise anyone already on canon to use it; whilst it is not mandatory, it will make the transition easier. Prior to my 450, I used the ixus 55 and found that helped me a lot.

              ~Ease of use~
              There are several modes on this camera, which makes it very user friendly. There is the automatic function; I would not recommend this as it makes the flash pop up when it's not necessarily needed. My default mode is the "P" mode, where I gauge the aperture and depth of field required. This can also be found when you press the "** button. As well as that, there are the AV and TV modes, where you can fix either the aperture, or the depth of field.
              The instruction manual is very informative, but there's also a wealth of information on the internet teaching you how to use the canon properly.

              ~Quality of Photos~
              Quality of photos are fantastic as the camera is 10.1 megapixels. There are cameras with more megapixels out there, but they are wasted. This is because the pixel size on the sensor has dropped, and at small sizes, light behaves differently. Anything above 9 megapixels is therefore not going to make a difference, other than making the file size larger. {Source: Digitalhomethoughs.com}

              The strap this camera comes with is standard, but I find that it's a bit heavy if you keep it around your neck. If you carry it on the side, there's the chance that you might bash it on the side (as I did). If you wrap the strap around your wrist and dangle it (as I stupidly did for much of my travels around E.Europe), you may well end up with a damaged wrist. The grip of the camera is fine, athough you can purchase an external grip. I don't see the point though, as I'm not a professional photographer and have never felt the need for extra grip.

              - Great quality pictures, with the ability to change lenses (what with it being a DSLR).
              Very user friendly, especially when uploading photos to the laptop. Just stick the USB cable in, and it'll import to your chosen photo app (in my instance, aperture on mac)
              New and second hand ones can be picked up relatively cheaply now

              - One bad thing about this camera is that the canon 450d is markedly better, in that it comes with an autostabiliser. As the canon 500d is out, 450D's aren't as expensive. Although the 400D is a good buy, I would recommend the 450D for a beginner that wants to begin using SLRs.
              - The second is the weight, which I have already mentioned. I don't think there is a similar priced entry model that is significantly lighter though.

              also available on ciao under same username


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            • Ocado.com / Online Shop / 15 Readings / 14 Ratings
              More +
              31.08.2010 13:55
              Very helpful
              1 Comment



              Fast, Friendly & Guilt Free shopping :)

              I have been receiving Ocado orders for over a year now, and am also fortunate enough to have visited their distribution centre and HQ in Hertfordshire (more on that later). I have also used Tesco delivery, and can say without a shadow of a doubt that Ocado is a far better service. Here are my reasons why:

              OCADO IS UNIQUE
              Not only does it have a catchy "Ocado man" song, but it is the only large groceries service delivery available in UK that comes directly from one distribution centre, in Hatfield. The distribution centre is all automated, and there are multicoloured boxes flying around everywhere, going down helter skelters. It's very much like in Monsters Inc with the doors flying around. {I was lucky enough to have visited the warehouse as part of a graduate assessment centre; I still kick myself for having messed up the interview, as I still think it's a fantastic company}. There are robots moving boxes around, and the robots can travel at 10metres/second.

              The importance of this distribution centre is as follows:-
              - It's more environmentally friendly as your food does not have to be stored in a supermarket, which wastes huge amounts of energy keeping the refrigerators on, whilst keeping the store at an ambient temperature. Yes, all that, just to have a nice shopping experience for you guys. This means that it is more carbon friendly for you to order from ocado and have it delivered to you, than it is to walk to the supermarket and back to get your groceries.
              - The system they use to pack your bags are really intelligent. The computers tell the packers what foods to take out from the boxes to put into your bag, and in what order. This minimises any breakages, and your order is going to be very accurate as they need to zap each item, thereby minimising any human errors.
              - The system is very lean, as each packer only needs to walk within a 15-20metre square area to gather their products, and the boxes get moved along to the next aisle to get more products in.
              - The products you get from Tesco etc. are often from the supermarket shelves. That means your food from Tesco has been tampered and handled by numerous other people, whilst from Ocado it has only been touched by the packers.
              - The food is more fresh. In Tesco, they will give you whatever food they have there, and sometimes new products will be put with old products, so there will be more old products. At Ocado, they just give you the products from the order that they are sourced, so there are essentially no "old" products at Ocado.

              I think it's an unfair assumption for people to think that an Ocado shop will be more expensive than other shops. It really isn't. For most standard brands (Heinz, Birdseye, Colgate etc.) Ocado will have a Tesco Price Match. i.e. it is the same price as Tesco. For other products, yes, Ocado is more expensive. But the quality is also higher. Their Ocado "everyday selection" prices are also low.
              - A 2l bottle of semi skimmed milk is 86p (same as Tesco).
              - Ocado Everyday Potatoes (2.5kg) costs £1.29 whilst Tesco White Potatoes 2.5Kg Tray costs £1.37.
              I'm not saying "ah-ha! I've found something cheaper at Ocado, as I'm sure there are others that are cheaper at Tesco. I'm just saying that Tesco isn't necessarily cheaper, and it's worth looking at Ocado as well if you are price sensitive.

              The products available on Ocado are quite broad ranging. They sell Waitrose branded food, their own "everyday essentials" range, and common brands. They are branching out to selling more products, as they have a lot of excess capacity at their warehouse. Tesco does sell more other products, such as party bags etc. which is quite expensive to buy at Ocado as they don't have their own cheaper brands for those.

              The great thing about Ocado is their Ocado Delivery Pass. It costs £9.99 for a month, and you can order as many deliveries as you want. That makes it worth it if you shop from them 2-3 times a month. Not only that though, but you can add other addresses to the account. My boyfriend's parents had an Ocado Delivery Pass, and also put his sister, and our flat to the account. This means we made about 9-12 deliveries a month for just £9.99, which is pretty great as you expect to pay £3-6 for deliveries. The delivery men are also very friendly. They deliver right to your fridge door (if you want them to), and they're always very amenable. They told me that one time during the big snow, they even helped an old lady with her shopping because the Tesco man had just left it at the beginning of her drive, as he couldn't get up it. The Ocado van had winter tyres fitted in advance, so took it up for her. It's these little stories that make Ocado more likeable (another one being an Ocado man staying with a woman whilst she was going into labour, until paramedics arrived). The Ocado men are not just men in vans, but they tend to be people that have worked in customer service jobs beforehand. The van is also kept at the right temperatures, and they check the food products regularly to ensure they are kept fresh at the appropriate temperatures.

              The website is fantastic, and very user friendly. You can save your foods into favourites, but we tend to just click our previous order, and amend as necessary. They also have numerous recipes in there, and you can add the ingredients required for the recipe directly to your basket. There are also special features that they write to inspire you (to buy more), which sometimes works. When you check out, they tell you the offers that you've missed and may like to amend, as well as "things you might like" based on your choices and previous shops.
              The filters available are also fantastic, and I always click on their top offers (probably why I find my food bill is not too high from Ocado)

              You can get a discount voucher sent to you if you refer a friend, and your friend also gets discounts for the first 3 times they shop from Ocado. You also receive a voucher for a free bottle of wine with your first shop, and after a year with them.

              CUSTOMER SERVICE
              In honesty, the only time they have swapped products in our shops was when they ran out of a certain flavour of dentyl and gave us another one. They quoted that 99.5% of their products didn't need to be swapped, so I find it unfortunate that some reviewers have experienced a hight rate of swapped products; perhaps the 0.5% are more concentrated towards certain shoppers.

              I have not used these services, but know that they are available. I know they were still working on improving it, as there were some glitches to begin with, but I see no problem in just logging onto the website and shopping from there.

              - The Ocado men are really friendly helpful
              - The quality of their essential range is good
              - From an operations point of view, I admire their business model greatly. I like the way the products are packed, and also that the food in my bags have not been handled and squeezed by other shoppers.
              - It's great to have your shopping delivered to you at a time that suits you :)

              This review is also available on ciao under the same username


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              • More +
                31.08.2010 13:50
                Very helpful



                Would recommend you to go if you are with a pretty bunch of girls; staff will be rubbish otherwisei

                As students, we really know how to sniff a deal out. One of the best deals in Covent Garden is Roadhouse, during their happy hour(s). We tend to only stay for happy hour, and leave to other bars with longer happy hours (and then onto a club, maybe). Roadhouse is decked out to look like a 50's American diner, but the atmosphere and music does not match the decor. It is hidden in the basement of Covent Garden, on the South East side of the plaza (just by the Strand), by the Transport of London museum.

                HAPPY HOUR
                "2-4-1 Happy Hour" at Roadhouse is between 1730-1930 Mondays-Fridays. As it's so early, it's a great place to get a drink or two before heading to other bars. You can get 2 cocktails from £5, or 2 guest beers (Amstel or Corona) from £3. Their cocktails are quite nice, and certainly worth it when only £2.50 each. We are particularly keen on the strawberry daiquiris there, as they make it with real strawberrys (even during happy hour)
                They have a further "Late night happy hour" from Monday to Thursdays between 2130-2230. The drinks are slightly reduced, but it's not worth it for us to stay there.
                There's also a "Saturday happy hour" from 1730-1930, and the prices are the same as for the late night happy hour.

                The menus can be downloaded from their website, and available here:
                One more thing... like many happy hours, they reeeaaaally slow down the speed of serving towards the last 10 minutes of the happy hour. Better start going to the bar early, or you might miss it.

                After several nauseating experiences, I would just say to just leave it. We tried a sit down dinner, as well as bar snacks. The bar snacks arrived cold, and the service... well, I'll get to the service later. If you want an American Diner experience with a lumberjack breafkast or maple syrup pancakes, then Roadhouse is not the place for you. The food was similar to the food I ate at my school canteen, although it was double the price.
                "Roadhouse is good for alcohol, not food."

                The staff are very hit and miss. Sometimes they are the most amazing individuals ever, and will be attentive and give you extra shots (this normally happens when I am out with my female friends, and they are very good at chatting up barmen). Another time I went with a few guy friends, and the barman was practicing juggling bottles and completely ignored us. When he did come to make our drinks, he stopped half way to joke with his friend (also working in the bar) and completely stopped the process of making our drinks. It's as if they thought their establishment was good enough for them to treat us like rubbish (it wasn't, it wasn't even half full). We received nothing close to service when it came to food, and the plates were plonked down rather unceremoniously...
                In conclusion, a mixed bag. "If you go with some hot girl friends then they will probably treat you pretty well..."

                As I have already hinted/stated, the decor is of an American diner, but the atmosphere really isn't. They don't play 50's music, and the staff just wear a standard uniform. No-one dances during happy hour (in truth, happy hour is a rather glum time to be there, but hey... cheap alcohol). Mobile reception is also very poor/non-existence as they are underground (not that I'm saying it's their fault), but you will need to pop up and down all the time when trying to phone friends to meet up there.

                There are bits I don't like about this establishment, but I do keep returning. Why? Because I go with hot girl friends and I like drinking cheap strawberry daiquiris during their 2-4-1 happy hour. Would I stay there the entire night? Not even if you paid me to. Well, ok, maybe if you paid me to. But I certainly wouldn't stay there if I had to pay for their drinks.

                this review is also on ciao under the same username


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              • More +
                31.08.2010 13:26
                Very helpful



                Arguably the best steak in London; you do have to pay a premium though.

                A brief into note: This is a review on Guacho Grill in Hampstead (64 Heath Street). The other review available is quite old, and is situated in Golders Green, so one can only assume it was written in the wrong category.

                My boyfriend and I are absolute carnivores, and can't imagine anything better than a nice juicy medium rare steak on our plates (maybe 2 juicy steaks *drools*). We have experimented numerous time at different restaurants, but even Gordon Ramsay's Maze Grill was subpar, compared to Gauchos. The steak sourced from Gaucho are from Argentina, and they are just superbly soft and melts in your mouth.

                We normally go to the Hampstead branch, although we have been to a few other Gauchos. The standard of food is consistent throughout.

                BOOKING A TABLE
                They can get quite busy, so we always book in advance. They have an online booking system, and someone from the restaurant will phone you to confirm the booking. You can make special requests, although we have not used that service. As well as that, you can just walk in or phone in to book, just like all other restaurants.

                The restaurant in Hampstead is right by the station, so it's very very convenient. You are greeted by the cheery front of house as you enter, and she will normally ask if you want to stay at the bar for a drink first, or if you want to take a seat. The atmosphere is quite relaxed, although I would still recommend not going in sports trainers. They don't require it, but I tend to dress like I am going to see family: slightly dressed up, but still comfortable. I guess that may just be due to it being frequented by the Hampsteadites.
                As you go to your seat, a waiter will come and introduce himself, and he will be your waiter for your entire meal. (I am just sticking to one gender, although it could just as well be a waitress). You will be offered a wine list, menu and cocktail list. We tend to order a cocktail (we love their special mojito), a bottle of still water and a coca-cola. I guess we drink a lot when we eat. The waiter will then come with a platter of steaks, showing you what they look like raw, and explaining what the cuts are like, and how they differ (in taste etc.).

                We then tend to order; it's not a long process of looking through the menu, as we're quite set in our ways. We have tried a few though, so can you help with some of the choices.

                After that, comes one of the unique selling points... Gaucho's cheesey balls. I'm sure they have a much better name, but they are in essence cheesey bread. They smell delicious, and they are freshly made at the restaurant. The outside is crunchy, but the inside is almost gooey and soft; I learnt afterwards that they are made with a special starchy flour which gives it that fantastic texture. You're also given slices of some other bread (which is also nice, but not as jaw droppingly amazing), butter and Chimichurri sauce.

                * SALMON CAUSITAS, £7.75
                Green sauce, red onion, micro cress, potato and Aji Amarillo.
                This is really delicious. The salmon is laid out flat across the plate, and is really delicate. The sauce goes well with it too, and very different to the traditional Scandinavian type salmon, which is highly based on dill (or very smoked).
                * EMPANADAS, £4.65
                These are essentially little pasties. I'm not a huge fan of pastries, but my boyfriend loves them and eats them frequently. It tends to have a fair amount of meat in it, so you get good bang for you buck.
                * CHORIZO SAUSAGE, £7.75
                Roasted romero pepper with balsamic and olive oil.

                Another one of my boyfriend's favourites, they use very high quality chorizo here. In all honesty, I'm not much of a starter person. I only order starter when I'm reeeeeaaaally hungry, because I'd much rather have a larger steak! :D

                MAIN COURSE
                I'm afraid for the main course, I can only really talk about the steak. I'm such a steak lover, I can't comprehend going to a steak restaurant and not ordering steak....
                The steak comes in either 225g, 300g, or 400g. They have rump, sirloin, rib eye & fillet. We tend to go for the fillet steak as we are at the restaurants to treat ourselves, and it really melts in your mouth and you can get the true steak flavour. We have tried the rump there also, and unlike normal rump, it's not chewy. It's not as melt-in-your-mouth, but by no means a rubbish steak. The rib eye is our second favourite; it has fat which marbles through it.

                To complement the steak, we order a bearnaise sauce. It is so creamy, and hmmmm. Great to dip your chips in.
                With the side order, we normally order the chips. We've tried the potato puree before, but it's just so monotonous. I know that's what it's meant to be like, but the chips are beautifully cooked here. The roasted new potato with cheddar cheese is also deeeelicious, but we don't tend to order it because of the calorie:yumminess ratio.

                We tend to be too stuffed for dessert by then, so I'm afraid I have nothing to really say here. They're also slightly pricey, and there are so many amazing frozen yoghurt shops in Hampstead, so we tend to get a takeaway ice cream there as well. Hmmmmm. Yum.

                THE SERVICE
                The service at the restaurant is exemplary. They are attentive, but not pushy like some other restaurants. They leave you to get along with your meal, but they're there when you want them to be.

                Toilets are nice. There are only 3-4 cubicles, but I've never had to queue. They have nice handwashes and moisturisers, as well as good quality paper towels. I don't really judge a restaurant by the toilets, but some people do...

                I would put more lights in the restaurant. I know it's the atmosphere some people like, and it's romantic... but after a hefty meal, I can barely keep my eyes open, and it doesn't help if it's that dark. Another thing I would change... is that they would give us more cheesey balls. They do tend to give it to you if you ask though, but I think it depends on how many they have left.

                For two people that have a cocktail each, bottle of water, starter and 300g steak... It'll cost you about £100, including tip.

                This review is also on ciao under the same username


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              • More +
                27.08.2010 16:48
                Very helpful



                A staple part of my hair routine

                I bought this product, as my hair stylist at Rush recommended it to me. He put it in my hair after the cut, as I have quite delicate thin hair. I have a tendency to get split ends, so I needed something nourishing for the ends, as well as something to protect my hair from the UV rays (I was just about to go on holiday to Turkey).

                Unlike many other hair products, this hair essence smells absolutely amazing. It smells of camelia, something I had not smelt before. It is not an overpowering smell, and seems to be quite natural. Camelia oil has been used for centuries in Japanese products, so I didn't doubt it's potency.

                You can use this product either before shampooing, or after you have towel-dried your hair. My hair is fine and reaches my bra strap, and I use only one pump of the oil. I rub it in my hands briskly to warm it up. I only apply to the ends, as I suffer from greasy roots, but my hair stylist would scrunch my hair at the top with the residue on his hands, after having applied it to my ends.

                I have been using this product for 9 months now. I have only gotten through half the bottle, so the price is well worth it. That's just over £1 per month. It has become a must in my routine now, and I doubt I will find a product to replace this in my routine for a while. Less of my hair seems to be falling out now, as my hair is better conditioned and not tangled at the ends. As well as that, I have been receiving comments on better conditioned hair with a natural shine.

                The only possible downside is that it's not readily available. I bought mine through Rush, but there is a link to a website where you can purchase this. It is a high fixed cost, but as I said, I think it's fantastic value for money.

                ~~ This review is also available on ciao ~~


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              • More +
                26.08.2010 01:22
                Very helpful



                Fantastic and easy to read book, which can change your outlook to life

                Like many graduates out there, I am currently job hunting. This requires a lot of self introspection, as you start to wonder why the nice HR people won't hire you. One way of helping yourself out is by reading this book. (I'm also presuming you'll have lots of spare time as an unemployed bum).

                The great thing about this book, though, is that you don't really need a lot of time. The chapters are small, and the main points are summarised in bold. This means you can pick it up whenever you want, and it isn't a book you need to read in the right order. Dale Carnegie makes an effort of reiterating the key points, so it really sticks in your head. He recommends that you read each chapter quickly first, then read it again, slowly. Highlight any important points, and then you will have a higher chance of remembering his tips, and also to implement them in everyday life.

                Some of the points he mentions are common sense. Then again, it's been around for over 70 years, so no wonder some of the information has filtered out and become common knowledge. The main tip I picked up from his book is the "yes, yes" technique. By asking questions that require the person you're arguing with to say yes, you are lowering their self defence, and are more likely to agree with what you're saying later on. The other is not to hurt someone's pride... disastrous consequences normally follow.

                I also liked his study of famous and successful characters, and the way they behaved that enabled them to achieve their successes. It has actually spurred me to purchase T.Roosevelt's autobiography, which I will write a review on shortly.

                I have read several reviews dismissing this book saying the examples are too old fashioned. I do not think this is the case. The book is about human behaviour, and I don't think we really change over time. Many of the principles can also be traced back to Aesop's stories and Confucius' quotes.

                I applied some of these points at a a graduate assessment centre today, and I really feel it improved the way I came across. I used to be quite argumentative and defensive when people disagreed with me, but today i felt a real change in the way I interacted with the other graduates and assessors. I don't know if I have been successful yet, but changing habits take time, and I think you need to continuously practice the tips mentioned in the book to change your life.

                {This review is also available on ciao.co.uk}


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                • More +
                  26.08.2010 01:19
                  Very helpful



                  Really cheap and good quality product, fantastic for dry eyes.

                  I have always suffered from dry eyes, but that did not stop me from trying contact lenses. I have been wearing them for the last 6-7 years, and have experimented with a number of lenses. I have tried both acuvue moist and acuvue TruEye. Daysoft lens are far better for dry eyes than Acuvue Moist or Acuvue TruEye.

                  With the Acuvue products, I can only wear the contacts for an hour or so, before I need to start using eyedrops. The maximum number of hours I can keep them on for is 6 hours (and that's with a high tolerance level). With daysoft lens, my eyes don't start to feel dry until after 3-5 hours, and I can last all 8 hours (I am very strict in following my optician's guidelines in usage hours, due to my dry (damaged) eyes).

                  The other great part is the price. They start at only £4.99 a box (15 days), so that's £9.98 for a month. That is absolutely great value, and also includes P&P (which takes 3-5 business days). The packaging is fantastic and doesn't waste space; they have an innovative "easy lens cup opening" which saves on packaging. The company sends the boxes in really thin boxes, so they can fit it into a thin cardboard box, which fits through your letter box (no more missed packages notes from the postman).

                  Needless to say, in my opinion the fit on the eye is great. Some people may be wary that the lenses are too cheap, and prefer to buy a more expensive one. Well, if you like pouring money down the drain for an (in my opinion), inferior product... go ahead.

                  The customer service is great; they phoned me up when they thought I had put down the wrong prescription (as it had changed a fair amount). I really appreciate that attention to detail, as I would have been annoyed if I had actually put it down incorrectly and they didn't notice. They also offer a reminder service, so when you're almost due to run out of contact lenses, they will send you an e-mail as a reminder to order some more.

                  For new users of daysoft lens, they ask which contact lens you are currently wearing. They then match it to the daysoft product that most suits you. Very simple.

                  There really isn't an aspect of this business model or website that I don't like.

                  {this review is also available on ciao.co.uk}


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                • Fudge Hair Shaper / Hair Care / 4 Readings / 3 Ratings
                  More +
                  26.08.2010 01:16



                  Smells great, holds well & it doesn't leave a residue

                  Why I bought it:
                  I have been trying to grow my fringe out for a while now, and I entered the stage where my fringe stabs my eyes, but it doesn't quite sweep to the side yet. Solution: use a hair product to hold it to the side. But which one? I tried several hairsprays, waxes and mousse, but none of them seemed to hold them in place. As this is a review for the fudge shaper, I don't want to write negative things about the ones I tried on this review. I looked on amazon and read through some reviews. I decided to give another hair product another shot, and in comes my fudge shaper. I have been using it for a few days now, and the results have been fantastic.

                  Good point:
                  The main points about this product is that it does what it says on the package. It keeps your hair in position for a long time, and it smells fantastic. It also doesn't give your hair that horrible greasy look, although it does have a minor shine to it (which I find to be acceptable).

                  Negative points:
                  I haven't come across any yet. It's a fantastic product, and having read the other product reviews, I don't feel that it is hard to come across at all. Then again, I do love to shop from amazon, which is where I bought mine from.

                  How to use it/ease of use:
                  It is really user friendly. Rub the product in your hands, then apply to your hair. The product is quite gooey (see photo), but it doesn't leave any residue (which would have been a big problem as I have black hair).

                  The smell of the product is fantastic, a kind of fruity smell. The look of the packaging is quite cool as it has a see through plastic around the outside, with the container contained within. I'm not sure if it has a function, but it looks nice. The feel of the product is gooey. The taste is... well, I wouldn't want to find out, and I wouldn't suggest any of you to try it either :)

                  {This review is also available on ciao.co.uk}


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