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siantone
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Member since: 19.05.2009

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    • British Library / Other Service / 10 Readings / 9 Ratings
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      31.05.2009 16:40
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      a really unusual place to visit but very welcoming when you get inside

      The British Library has had quite a transformation in recent years regarding how it engages with the public. This library is of course THE national library and has always been much loved and used by those in research communities but increasingly the Library has focused on reaching members of the public who do not need to consult original and/or rare books and manuscripts for their research. That means people like me and you, meaning the Library is a quality half day out or at least a place to spend a meaningful hour or two if you find yourself on Euston Road.

      The permanent galleries which show the highlights of the collection indiciate the sheer scale and importance of the Library's holdings. These are free galleries and providing you can cope with 50 Lux light levels (ie very low, in order to preserve the paper) these quiet contemplative spaces display a staggering array of material from western and non-western cultures. Everything from an original version of the Magna Carta to rare medieval Japanese scrolls and hand-written Beatle's lyrics.

      The key thing is you are not left to merely look at the object, the Library works really hard to explain why these things are so important in a non-patronising way. The BL never used to embrace warmly those of us who are not experts but this really is the place to understand what, for example, the Magna Carta was about and why issues about rights and obligations in society are still debated today. If you go into the building as someone who just wants to browse, it really is a comfortable place to spend some time without feeling you are being watched. The unusual striking architecture that opens up into an atrium type space is worth a visit alone.

      If you like browsing the web you can look at some 30,000 amazing items in their online galleries- access this interpreted material through the homepage www.bl.ac.uk.

      All in all, the BL is now a place that anyone can visit without having to be a scholar. A sophisticated oasis in the depressing cacophony that is Euston Road.

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      30.05.2009 14:54
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      possibly the widest array of museums and galleries in any one city

      New York is a deeply enthralling iconic city, a whirling maelstrom of diverse cultures and experiences. Much of the experience for a first-time visitor is to walk around the vibrant neighbourhoods, gawp at the architecture, fill your belly with just about anything cooked in any style you can think of and drink whatever you want in any sort of company. In addition to these sensual experiences I would also add shopping of course and a visit to the theatre, cinema, sporting event such as baseball AND at least one of the museums.

      The dozens of museums in Manhatten alone reflect every aspect of human existence and a visitor could spend weeks just visiting each gallery or museum once. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has vast holdings that reflect European and other world cultures (it would take about a week to visit all the galleries!) while the more intimate Lower East Side Tenement Museum poignantly captures the lives of three generations of immigrants in what was a slum dwelling in a dangerous neighbourhood.

      Overall the mainstay of the city's museum and gallery collections result from epic and voracious collecting by 19th century and 20th century American tycoons who gobbled up everything on offer in European auction houses. Meanwhile other New York museums chart varied ethnic experiences from Puerto Rican lives to the establishment of the Ukranian community in the city, providing an insight into emigration and immigration. Together all these museums are unique to NYC and a visit will enrich your time in this mind-blowing city.

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        30.05.2009 14:30
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        a cutting edge meaningful place to visit

        This is perhaps THE museum for non-museum goers. The museum is as much a physical and topographical experience as it is an emotional one. Like the millions of immigrants who passed through this tiny island just across the water from the Statue of Liberty, the visitor will also arrive by boat. This immigration station only operated from 1892 to 1954 and yet millions passed through here, frightened, excited, exhausted and desperate for a new life.

        This innovative museum has ambitiously tried to capture the emotion of the place not just recall the facts and figures. It really did happen here and this intensity is captured in the dramatic displays 'Peopling of America' which deals head-on with big narratives in world history. Why was there a mass exodus from Europe? Why was America the Holy Grail? We all live with the consequences of this mass movement of people today even if we are not American or European. Considering the large volume of people involved, the museum has tried to focus on specific communities and even individuals so that the visitor can empathise and not just few human beings as statistics. Some of the items people brought from Europe are heart-wrenchingly full of pathos, such as small trinkets or flimsy worn out clothing from their homelands. The museum is also good on tackling ugly aspects of human history such as racism, genocide, pogroms, grinding poverty and so forth- not easy and controversial of course but good to see it openly dealt with.

        This museum is not just a necessary visit for a quintessential NYC experience, it is also important to help understand modern global society. Why America became dominant in the 20th century and why as a nation it is admired and despised in equal quantities today is evident here.

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        30.05.2009 13:55
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        one of the best days out on plant earth if you like art

        MOMA, at W 53rd Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, had a fabulous facelift a few years ago. The recent renovation, courtesy of Yoshio Taniguchi, created exciting fresh public spaces, with greatly improved facilities for visitors and expanded galleries that can hold more of this museum's outstanding collections.

        It's a bewildering experience, especially for the uninitiated and so it is best to pick up a trail or speak to the staff about what to see if you have limited time. It's a bit of an art sweet shop with every major modern artist covered here from Picasso, Matisse and Mondrian to Dali, Pollock and Warhol.

        The fifth floor contains 19th century work from the Post-Impressionists to the Surrealists. Down one floor you'll see mid -20th century works, which includes Warhol's soup cans and Marilyn Monroe. The third floor contains photography from the 20th century, architecure and design (including iconic images from Frank Lloyd Wright) and drawings by mega stars such as Willem de Kooning and Lucien Freud. Down on the second floor, MOMA has displayed more contemporary pieces from artists such as Jeff Koons.

        Beware it's a bit like visiting Florence, you will need to sit down and take things slowly to absorb properly. Don't expect to take in everything on one visit. The cafes are very good for drinks and quality snacks and there is more formal dining on the ground floor. The shop is outstanding and you will need to factor this time in too. Basically MOMA is a whole day of sightseeing.

        Good luck, it's a stimulating if tiring experience.

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        30.05.2009 13:37
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        only worth visiting if you've done everything else in NYC

        When one thinks of the great city museum such as those in London and Amsterdam, this museum falls short in the mighty task of explaining why New York is one of the most diverse, exciting and crazy cities on earth. The building is a spacious neo-Georgian mansion on 5th Avenue at E 103rd Street.

        There are displays on the early European communities that lived here (such as the Dutch and the English) in the 17th century, although the number of objects on display seems a bit thin on the ground suggesting that other museums have the collections that tell these stories. What seems to be missing from the permanent galleries are the big narratives involving struggles between people that are significant internationally and how they are relevant today. The political struggles of various communities whether they be Irish, Italian, Jewish, Eastern European, African American etc are not comprehensively covered. Also missing are in-depth displays on New York's pioneering role in establishing the rights of gay people and women.

        A worthy museum but not quite the cutting-edge and punchy displays I was looking for in one of the world's most eclectic and dynamic cities.

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          30.05.2009 13:18
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          possibly the most ignored museum in Amsterdam even though it's a real gem

          This is possibly one of the most overlooked museums in Amsterdam with many tourists heading for the more internationally famous Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum. This handsome red-bricked museum tucked away in the shopping area off Kalverstraat, just 15 minutes from Amsterdam's main railway station, is a joyful experience.

          The museums' collection is rich and diverse with visitors being able to see everything from 'Old Masters' paintings to medieval clothing found in archaeological digs to memorabilia connected to Ajax football club. There is a real sense of how Amsterdammers have lived in this remarkable city over the centuries whether they were merchants from Golden Age in the 17th century or today's immigrants from former Dutch colonies in the Far East.

          Amsterdam is such a special city and this is the only place where you can find out why its unique blend of tolerance, commercial enterprise and freedom of expression for individuals has attracted so many to live here over the centuries. You will see displays on everyone from Sephardic Jews who lived in the tolerant city in the 17th century during a time of general religious persecution throughout Europe to stories relating to more recent immigrants from the Mediterranean who moved to Amsterdam during the 20th century looking for well-paid regular work. They have all left their rich imprint culturally and their physical legacy in objects such as clothing, furniture, religious icons, books, letters, photographs, prints, paintings and so forth.

          Overall, I would recommend that tourists visit this museum for half a day to get an overview of the city they are visiting to help understand how it developed from a small community on unpromising land prone to flooding to a fabulously welathy city during the 17th century that stood at the centre of world trade to the multicultural and diverse easy-going city you see today.

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          29.05.2009 16:34
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          as roll-ons go, Nivea is one of the best

          This product has the usual misnomer, ie calling itself a deodorant rather than being very clear that it is an antiperspirant with c.10% aluminimum chlorohydrate as an active ingredient. Nivea are not the only manufacturers to fiddle their words however.

          Nivea roll-ons are creamy with gentle almost innocuous smells. Their unique selling point is gentle on the skin and so with the armpit it will be especially connected to women who shave. The product rolls on very creamily which is a more pleasant sensation on the skin than dryer antiperspirants or sprays. The products also sits 'thickly' on your skin so will take a minute to dry before putting on clothing- this could be an inconvenience for some.

          I use this product when I need to be sure there will be no sweat marks in the office, so I only use it in summer. The quantity of aluminimum in the product is of serious consideration for women re breast cancer scares. I would recommend this creamy smooth easy to use product with its subtle smell for the days when you really do not want to sweat but skip it during the colder non-sweaty seasons or your private down time when sweat marks on clothing are not an issue.

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        • Alliance & Leicester / Bank / 7 Readings / 6 Ratings
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          29.05.2009 15:50
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          great if you can deal with your banking without needing to talk to someone

          I joined Alliance & Leicester having tired of 0.1% interest from Lloyds bank. I did receive £100 to join but of course one always needs look past such fat carrots. I was particularly attracted to the online banking aspect and I must say that this is a smooth online bank and would recommend it to people who really don't need to speak to people about their banking issues. I am comfortable doing ALL my transactions online and so this bank suits similar people.

          Useful and easy to navigate web tools include being able to set up standing orders and direct debits really easily- plus also being able to amend or cancel them easily too. Also being able to make a one-off payment to people or a company is very easy to set up. Looking at statements and your overdraft limit have never been easier- and you can ask them to up your overdraft through a prompt on the screen. In fact paying all my bills and moving my money in and out is quick because the web design is intuitive with obvious menu choices on the left hand side of the screen.

          The only thing I wish was more integrated is the online credit card servicing. It took me a long time to find out how to log in to my credit card account (look for the small 'credit card services' orange button on the right hand menu of the home page). This is not intuitive at all, a real clanger in web design. Clearly many who have a current account with A&L will also have a credit card and thus the two products and services should connect more clearly online.

          The other inconvenience is that there are few branches- in central London I use the branches in Piccadilly, Victoria, Gracechurch St and Cheapside in the City of London and the branch at High Holborn if I need to pay in cheques. These are all the central London branches although there are others in suburban London (check the branch finder on the right hand menu of the home page). This is not hugely convenient but not enough of a problem to make me change banks; it might well put others off if they do not live or work near a branch.

          Overall, A&L offer an excellent online banking service. I cannot comment on their phone service as I have never used it. The lack of branches is a serious factor for people to consider- I do get quite a few cheques and even though central London is convenient for me, undoubtedly it would be easier to use my local high street. If you wish to bank with someone you can talk to I think A&L will be too impersonal and too frustrating on the call centre front.

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            29.05.2009 15:07
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            does the job for young-ish pale skins but not easy to use at all

            As a youngish woman with a few worry lines, I thought I would try this product. I am new to foundation generally so was pleased to have found a light enough colour for my skin (soft ivory).

            I bought my 30ml bottle over a year ago and am only half way through because what has happened if practice is I pump up a tiny amount (about the size of a sultana) and then mix it with bio oil so it smoothes in to my pale dry-ish skin properly. I cannot use this product on its own, it is unpleasantly drying, clumping in patches that are very noticeable ie fills in my lines with the product which over-emphasizes the thing I am trying to reduce. The cream is actually quite liquid-like in the bottle but seems to dry once it is exposed to oxygen, becoming a drying paste that flakes on the skin and congregates in crevices. It only works when mixed with another moisturiser/oil that you know works for your face.

            The good news is the colour looks even, it does cover uneven skintone and smooths out one's appearance. I don't feel any 'firming', it's the wrong adjective they are using, tighening due to drying out is more accurate. They also claim it has an 8-hour moisturisation action but it does not moisturise at all, it only works WITH a moisturiser.

            As for it claiming a SPV of 16, I would not trust my pale skin in the sun with this product alone. I would use another sun protection product in addition to using this foundation.

            Overall, I get the effect of covering lines and having an even skin tone but the foundation cream is unpleasantly drying on its own and needs to work with other products to be successful.

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            29.05.2009 14:36
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            thank goodness I found this product as a pasty dry skinned person, makes me look healthy

            I have the Clarins self tanning hydrating gel specifically developed for the face in a 50ml tube with a secure flip lid at the bottom.

            I am particularly pasty and like many pale types feel slightly uncomfortable in summer as I cannot take the sun without going straight to skin cancer and tire of the number of people who think I am unwell or look tired. As an inexperienced self-tanner I bought the Clarins because the light bronze glittery gel (not quite gel more a viscous cream) goes on very easily to pale dry-ish skin. Many other brands do not, either contributing to dryness or leaving a greasy trail!

            The gel is particularly useful if you are not meticulous at application, so good if like me, you are not a religious exfoliator and sometimes get the gel on your eyebrows or do not spread the gel evenly. I get a warm glow ie a light tan that looks even without any noticeable patches. The instructions say don't get the gel on eyebrows on hairline of course, so do follow that advice, I am just saying that if you did smear some in the wrong place, this product won't show you up!

            I don't mind the sweetish slightly chemical smell but do wash you hands afterwards, not just to remove the gel but to remove the smell as I think it's noticeably chemical after a couple of hours (I noticed it sitting in an enclosed meeting space). However, after I have applied make-up, perfume and hairspray, I feel confident the product on my face doesn't leave a lingering smell.

            I would apply the gel every other day sparingly to top up my face and neck. If I left it a week, I would be back to my pasty self. I suspect for darker skins this product is just too subtle but for pale dry skins, I highly recommend it if a natural summer tan is not an option.

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          • Whittards / Supermarket / 6 Readings / 6 Ratings
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            29.05.2009 14:12
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            great for the core goods of tea and coffee but forget the rest

            As a regular buyer of specific teas, Whittards is always a pleasure compared to shopping for tea in a supermarket. The array of china for sale has probably contributed to the company's recent shaky financial position. For those who have not visited Whittards before, I would say that this side of the shop is distracting and slips into twee National Trust shop territory. You can see that behind the scenes buyers have picked up on china that frankly strays from the core values of the company i.e. consuming quality tea and coffee with style. I don't know anyone who wants a teapot shaped like Big Ben!

            Regarding the teas, the Earl Grey has a generous addition of bergamot- unlike other brands that have a weaker taste such as Peyton & Byrne. They even have green tea with bergamot which is a sort of sharper Earl Grey. The Lapsang Souchong is intense yet subtle in its smokiness rather than tasting like the aftertaste of smoked kippers like the Sainsburys brand. I am not a big fruit tea driker but Whittards would convert anyone who was willing to try their free samples, as the array on offer is genuinely exciting. If you are concerned about cutting down on caffeine but don't want to pick up a fruit tea blindly in a supermarket, drop in to a Whittards and ask the helpful staff.

            Regarding the coffee, it is pleasureable to be able to ask for the bean you want either whole or ground in a quantity that suits you. The freshness of the bean is key with coffee and Whittards do know how to look after the coffee, the trust level is higher here regarding care of the bean and where it has come from than other retailers. The treat is to have a small bag of the highly expensive but exquisite Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee.

            In all, Whittards is a relaxed and engaging place to indulge yourself in all things connected to tea and coffee. If you are looking to drink something new or buy an unusual gift you can drink I would recommend them, as the goods are competitively priced and attractively packaged. I would not recommend Whittards for a special trip to buy china, it feels incidental to their main strength and not what they are best at. The endless offers on the china suggest they are trying to shift the stock- so you might get the odd spontaneous bargain as you buy your tea if you like their designs!

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              28.05.2009 14:54
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              fantastic no aluminimum deodorant but doesn't work under all testing conditions

              As a woman who enjoys sporting activity, I was looking for an aluminimum free deodorant rather than using an antiperspirant. As documented in other reviews the connection between aluminimum and breast cancer is something for us all to consider in a society where body odour and sweat marks are not desirable.

              I bought Sanex 'natur protect' which claims to prevent white marks on your clothing and last for 24 hours. Personally I don't like sprays because of inhalation of deodorant particles but was willing to overlook the mechanics of shaking the can, holding my breath and spraying in the general area of my armpit. It feels very dry and smells clinical, so no smooth creamy roll-on or feminine smell.

              As for performance I find I do sweat more than with an antiperspirant, especially when exercising, but the product is still acceptable. I would not trust this product working in an office if the ambient temperature was mid 70s and above as I think there would be sweat stains on my blouse- I would use an antiperspirant for those days.

              I think the anti white marks claim is accurate as I have not seen white deposits in the armpits of t shirts and blouses (this happens a lot with the antiperspirants I have used over the years). I also think it does last 24 hours, although it wanes in power over time- I have tested this during two day hikes, when I didn't apply Sanex at the beginning of the second day. I did not have bad body odour at the end of the second day.

              For general use, this product is worth it just because it has no aluminimum. If you work in an office environment and really don't want sweat stains, I could not fully recommend it- better to leave it for weekend/leisure use.

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            • Bio Oil 200ml / Skin Care / 8 Readings / 8 Ratings
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              28.05.2009 14:34
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              delicious easy to go on oil that does work on chickenpox- during the blisters, scabs and scar stage

              I suffered from chickenpox three months ago. As an adult female, the worst aspect of this unpleasant virus was the c.300 blister-like spots on my face. I had read much about how they would only leave scars if you scratched the pox- which is easy to do as chickenpox is horribly itchy. I left my skin alone but was horrified to see c. 15 dark pits left on my face- the answer I was told was to use bio-oil for 3 months.

              To begin with the bio-oil was very soothing to very irritated skin and worth the expensive £8.49 (60ml bottle) for that relief alone. (Please give calamine lotion a miss on your face, the relief lasts for a few seconds and dries out facial skin ravaged with chickenpox, making it flaky and crusty). Go straight to bio oil as soon as the raging itch starts and continue to apply even on the thick scabs that form and then carry on after the scabs fall off. You will have marks so use the bio oil sparingly on the marks in the morning and evening and use ordinary moisturiser on the rest of your face if you want to save money. I was using the bio oil instead of a moisturiser as it did not make my dry-ish skin look greasy and took concealer very well.

              After three months, the marks have diminished although they have not gone away. I do not think bio oil is a miracle cure for removing pockmarks left by chickenpox but as a woman who wants to face the world again without being stared at, I am sure it has enabled the fading of the pockmarks and provided a base for a concealer better than a normal moisturiser or not using anything at all. As a comparison I did not bother to use the bio oil on my torso (as I won't be showing this to the world) and the marks are definitely more pronounced than the ones on my face after three months.

              I finished the 60 ml bottle of bio oil after two and half months.

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                25.05.2009 22:07
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                A highly intelligent and subtle modern museum

                Te Papa Tongarewa is not just the national museum of New Zealand, it is also a heavyweight cultural player worldwide. Many European museums such as the Louvre or the British Museum carry centuries of what is best described as cultural baggage, due to national histories involving unashamed imperial expansion and exploitation. However, there is an intellectual integrity about the historical displays at Te Papa that are refreshingly free from baggage. The visitor walks away with the sense that when different cultures come together, we may have shared histories but often diverse legacies. The respect for indigineous culture is clear, with the display of Maori objects sensitively handled (for e.g. taboos around certain objects are acknowledged) and interpretation labels that tell history from a non-colonial perspective too. Within living memory, museums in NZ would have containted shrines to traditional iconic figures such as Capt James Cook with the subtext that white colonisation of the country was uncontroversial and somehow essential for the 'progression of mankind'. It is heartening to see Te Papa play a strong role in respecting different cultures and providing us all with a (free) forum to explore what modern NZ is today.

                I would recommend visitors to go to Te Papa first when visiting Wellington as the historical displays encapsulate the origins of NZ as a multicultural society.

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                  20.05.2009 22:33

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                  a good investment for any woman with flyaway or frizzy hear who wants to look groomed

                  I don't really have frizzy hair rather thin long flyaway hair that greatly objects to central heating. I use this product roughly between November to March to control the frizz in the mornings.

                  I find I need to be generous with it and only apply it to the ends of my hair because if it goes anywhere near the the hair near my scalp it will make the hair above my forehead look greasy.

                  I find the product is best distributed through the ends of my long thin hair with a paddle brush. When used in conjunction with Aussie miracle products I am sure my split ends have been kept in check.

                  The product claims to protect hair from harmful UV rays but I am not sure this can be verified easily. Its main claim to fame is it is a pleasant smelling cream that can be applied quickly to smarten you appearance, including tiny dabs to prevent stray hairs drifting up in static environments.

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