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Sometimes when you see something that nearly takes your eye out, you have to stop and stare and take in the view. I was eye popped the other day by something that stood out a mile and it happened in the supermarket. There was I, just minding my own business when all of a sudden I was confronted by a giant stack of eye popping poppadoms. Being so drawn to the bright colours I popped one in my basket without even looking at the price. (To people who know me, I bet you thought I was stood near the freezer section, didn't you? Oh the hazards of being a woman in a chill).
** Stop and stare **
Walkers made me buy these poppadoms. Their packaging and marketing design team deserve a pat on the back (or a poke in the eye), for the vivid purple and lime packaging squealed at me to buy them.
Walkers also made me make curry for tea. I was all set to make chicken with pasta but knowing those spicy poppadoms were in the house I had to change the menu so that I could try them. So here is my little family tested resume of the product. 10 out of 10 for an eye popping packet so far.
** Nibble me **
Following a quick hot sizzle on the hob, my chicken curry was ready to serve with basmati rice and a big bowl of lime and coriander chutney flavoured poppadoms. What Walkers were thinking when they added chutney to the title of this product I don't know. It's too much of a mouthful and everyone knows that small is beautiful. Anyway the packet holds 90g of a small palm sized poppadoms; that's quite a few each, even when you have several kids to feed (not forgetting the parents of course who require extra when reviewing the product in hand (or mouth).
Each poppadom is small enough to pop whole into your mouth unless you have a really tiny one and so here of course bigger is better. The edges of the poppadom are crinkly just as large proper Indian poppadoms are. They are flecked with little specks of flavour. Maybe they are little incy wincy lumps of chutney, but that sounds somewhat revolting so let's call them flecks of coriander and spices.
The mini poppadoms are good with mango chutney and lime pickle but also pretty suitable for nibbling or gobbling as you eat your curry. Also suitable for sharing at a party, dipped in whatever you fancy.
** Tingle your Tastebuds **
The flavour of these poppadoms is every bit as tingly as their name suggests. Lime and coriander makes my mouth water and sets my saliva juices into liquid freeflow. They taste mild yet powerfully flavoursome; they're not strong but they do pack a punch. If you like spicy curry, these would be a good tone down accompaniment. If you like mild curries, you might find these poppadoms a bit on the tangy side. If you don't like curry, you might not like these at all because they do have a tangy spicy flavour. The flavour of the lime overrides the flavour of the coriander. They are fairly salty and leave your mouth wanting more of the same. 9 out of 10 for taste from me.
** Nuzzle me **
To really appreciate the product fully, I decided it would be a good idea to stick my head right into the packet and take a deep breath just to get a lung full of lime and coriander (forget the chutney) scent. I think my skin is probably oozing aromas of coriander so I'm now in need of a long soak in the bath (I hope you appreciate the depths of my research).
** Feel me **
These little poppadoms are nice are firm to the touch. They are small and pert and have a nice munchy texture. Pop one in your mouth and simply let it dissolve on your tongue or give it a good nibble and hear it crisp and crackle in your mouth.
** Come and Get Me **
The poppadoms come in a 90g pack. If you ate the whole lot, you would probably feel sick and would consume almost 20g fat and more than 400 calories as well around 3g salt. It doesn't do to be too greedy but if you share the pack with others, then they're a nice little extra to nibble.
You can pop your own for £1.49 a pack (found in most major supermarkets including Sainsbury's).
Thanks for reading.
Once upon a time there lived a maiden who had the peachiest bum in all the land. So fine was this behind that she was renamed Regina, Queen of the Peaches. News of these royal peaches spread like hot buttered crumpets and soon Regina became the bottom of fame. What you've never heard of her? Well let me tell you more.
Take Your Throne Queen Peach
Regina is the queen of toilet tissues, suitable for beautiful (or even not so beautiful) bottoms everywhere. Regina is soft and thick and covered in camomile daisies. You'll be hard pressed to make holes in the tissue however hard you wipe your pretty little peaches. For queens on their thrones, even just one sheet (yes just the one) is enough to wipe the wee drops away. You will never need three sheets at once even at those times of the month (look away boys). And if you overdid the vindaloo last night, you'll still be just fine with two sheets at a time... oh listen it's all coming out in a rhyme.
Regina, queen of tissues for your pretty peach
Take your throne, compose a rhyme, sat on your royal seat
Do your stuff in rapid haste or take a good long while
Then clean yourself with regina roll and make your peaches smile.
Diamond patterned sheets complete with wild flowers
Why not play noughts and crosses to while away the hours
When it comes to clean your bum, tumtetum tetumtetum
You'll find Regina does it well and how lovely you now smell*.
(*your bathroom may however stink especially if you had curry last night)
Butt It's Not for Boys..?
Regina toilet tissue is really a little bit girly but boys you can use it too, (embrace your feminine side). In fact it's probably good for males because they use so much of it (let's not ask any questions here for the sake male pride) but how I would love a male reviewer to give the lowdown on toilet roll uses). Who will rise to this quest? Come along prince Charmin (is he the perfect match for Queen Regina with his little teddy embedded tissue or a profound love rival)?
In our royal household, the young princes have made no mention of this new tissue in their bathroom and as for the young princesses well they haven't either but since when was toilet paper / bum wad/ bog roll ever the subject of chit chat around the kitchen table? The King of the throne said it was fine but probably didn't come with many sheets on the roll seeing as it was thicker than normal. Ah yes he is right there are only 160 sheets per roll whereas you get 200 with Triple Velvet. But if you can get away with using only one sheet for some wipes then you can probably make it last just as long. Well in our household that'll be all of a day.
Regina toilet tissue is three ply which accounts for its strength and thickness. The top layer has a nice diamond pattern (noughts and crosses anyone?) and the daisies; the other two layers are stuck fast which means that it doesn't easily get in a muddle when you unroll it. Regina is also soft for your peaches because it is enriched with camomile balm which has the mere hint of a nice enough fragrance but certainly won't act as an air freshener.
This toilet paper is not your bog standard stuff. It is thick and soft and strong, a slightly shorter roll length than some other brands but you really don't need to use much to get the job done. One sheet for number ones and as many as you need for number twos. Regina toilet tissue is white with little daisies on and comes in a pack of four rolls. Do you want little daisies on your bathroom tissue? Who cares when they're on offer at £1.32 at Sainsbury's? And if you buy them and don't like them, you can send your till receipt and get your money back or alternatively if you do approve, send your receipt and get 4 x £1 vouchers off future packs. You can find it in most larger major supermarkets but the current offer may be limited to Sainsbury's
So if you like puppies, stick to your Andrex but if you are like to roll in daisy meadows and dream of princes and perfect peaches, then stop daydreaming and get yourself down to the supermarket and buy some. Job done, and that's a big relief.
Thanks for reading.
Positions in Life
When I grow up I want to be
A cowgirl wand'ring wild and free
Riding fast and riding strong
Bouncing bareback all day long.
When I grow up I want to play
An instrument by night and day
I'll choose the spoons, close notes and beats
That sing ecstatic through musical sheets.
When I grow up I want to be
A missionary overseas
Seeking souls lost and enslaved
Creating deep missionary waves.
When I grow up I want to be
In uniform, police maybe
Standing proud with truncheon tall
Handcuff boys against the wall.
When I grow up I want a home
With grounds where we can freely roam
We'll picnic in the summer heat
And finish up with doggy treats.
And this home at the edge of the town
Will be a little upside down
Interlocking walls, underfloor heat
House 69, not overly sweet.
When I grow up I want to be
A woman on top, and so cheeky
But underneath or side by side
Position is queen, now let's go ride.
When I grow up I want to be
A porn star (but only in my dreams)
For loyal and true and honest and just
Forever I love you, my hubby my lust.
Thanks for reading.
This review is based on my experience of owning and driving the T Spirit Previa, an MPV suitable for the fecund of society (i.e. those who have copious numbers of kids or passengers to transport). Despite its enormity and bus like vital statistics, the Spirit is reasonably car like to drive, although parking is another matter. This review may be of interest to those considering purchasing a large multi purpose vehicle from the practical perspective rather than the technical Jeremy Clarkson perspective. Just go and watch Top Gear if you want that. This model is no longer available to purchase new but used models are.
Choosing the Previa
When replacing our previous MPV, a Galaxy with 7 seats and no boot space, we looked at all suitable options with greater luggage space. Even with one seat removed, the Galaxy was a nightmare when it came to loading holiday luggage. We needed a car with a cavernous boot. The Previa fit this bill nicely, hence you get additional length for your money (4780mm worth). Parking such a big one preyed on mind on my mind a little I must admit, but I wasn't going to be driving it much so that was fine. It was also an automatic, so I wasn't much keen on that either, having never driven one before. But big boot space meant easier outings so we bought one.
Of all the large MPVs around, this one is not bad looking depending on which colour you choose. Metallic silver looks best, followed by black but the dark red, blue and green colours are pretty ugly. Obviously this is my preference but even our kids say the same when they see a dark coloured one. It has a nice streamlined shape and once you get over the fact that the indentations along both sides are not in fact huge dents that you've made reversing between brick pillars, you can appreciate these features too.
One of the great things about the Previa T Spirit is that it is quiet to drive. It doesn't have the roar of a diesel because it runs on unleaded fuel. Even at 80mph on a motorway, the car is noticeably quiet. The engine is a 2.4 litre and around town only manages around 21mpg but on longer motorway runs 30mpg is quite possible. It has an enormous tank holding 75 litres of fuel, draining your credit card to the tune of around £75 if you run it dry. I never like to run dry though and I never do. It has a BHP of 154 if that is of interest to you
Driving the car
Since we replaced my nice little car with a more sporty -hubby having a mid-life crisis- one, I have suddenly found myself in the driving seat of the Previa much more than I had wished. I used to only drive it when I absolutely had to, now I have to drive it most of the time which has made me a much better walker and cyclist. Because of the grand size of the vehicle I have to do a risk checklist for each potential journey including such things as 'will I have to take it down any narrow double parked streets', 'will there be huge car parking spaces at my destination?' If you are very spatially aware, then let me not put you off for in fact this IS a nice car to drive.
The ride itself is quiet and smooth and being in a raised up position visibility is excellent for the driver. The ride is reasonably hard (my preference), I hate a soft ride as it makes me feel queasy.
The handling of the car is great in good weather but feels a little unsteady in cold or damp conditions. This is because the vehicle is vast and operates with front wheel drive. I do not feel terribly at ease driving this in freezing conditions and I certainly wouldn't want to be out on country roads in the winter in this. The tyres are chunky and thick with nice alloys to boot, and the anti lock brakes work well when required too. The biggest drawback for me with this car is the handling when the weather is icy. This is not a car for the countryside in my opinion.
Parking the Car
If you have not already gathered, parking this beast is no easy matter. We did choose to have parking cameras fitted which is fantastic. There are also parking sensors in the rear bumper (I'm not sure if these are an optional extra or standard). The parking camera is exceptionally useful; when in reverse, the camera image is displayed on the sat nav screen with green lines to aid your parking against the kerb and any vehicles or objects behind you. The cameras make parking easier but this car is wider (1.79m) and longer (4.78m) than most so it isn't easy to park.
What I like about the Previa
The Previa has a 4 star NCAP safety rating and has driver, passenger and front side airbags. Driving visibility is good and passenger comfort and legroom is excellent. The car is very versatile because all of the 5 rear seats can be taken out fairly easily making a van if required. Alternatively all of the seats other than the driving seat (obviously) can be folded down to make a flat surface. You can take any combination of seats out and they all slide back and forth to alter the amount of leg room. This is a seven seater with two seats at the front, three separate seats in the middle and two in the rear row. All have their own diagonal seatbelts.
Getting in and out of the vehicle is easy as there are two sliding rear doors for passengers in the rear. For any passengers in the rear two seats, a lever needs to be flicked to tilt the middle row seats forward. This is easy enough but perhaps access for the elderly or strapping in child seats could prove a little awkward if these seats were to be used for such passengers.
There is a great deal of space within the vehicle and even seated in the rear two seats, there is ample leg and head room. The leather seats (optional extra) are very comfortable and durable. If you are prone to wearing skimpy clothes in cold weather, these seats will feel very cold. However, the climate within the car is easily adjusted. This model has air conditioning as standard which has been problem free during the few years we have had this car. There are heater vents in the front, middle and rear of the vehicle so even those at the back can share the warmth. The middle and rear windows are also tinted glass to allow you to share that warmth without passers by having a nosey too.
There are two sunroofs, the front one being electrically operated and the second one providing extra light for the rear seated passengers. When both of these are open, the car feel very spacious and there is no sense of being cramped or crammed at all.
The built in sat nav is very easy to use and a very good system so I'm told. I find it very distracting so I don't bother. But, the satnav screen also doubles as the audio screen for selecting your radio channel or CD. Having said that, the audio system isn't very exciting and sounds a bit tinny if you have the volume at anything other than low.
Other features which are great on this car are the electric mirrors, electric front windscreen, which makes defrosting the car a piece of cake, plenty of storage compartments, and did I mention the giant boot? There's central locking and the doors also lock automatically. This means that whilst you are stationary at lights or in a jam, nobody can jump into your vehicle or pinch stuff out of your boot.
Driving the Previa takes some getting used to. It is an automatic which makes it extremely easy to drive; give your left foot a break. The size of the vehicle means that despite its 2.4 litre engine, it doesn't pack a powerful punch when you put your foot down. It moves but it doesn't belt along. In fact it has a 0-60 of 11.2 seconds... zzzz. When the car is full of your kids and their friends or full of the family with a picnic in the boot it's feels a proper family car which is quite acceptable to be seen in. If I ever have to take the car out with just me in it, it feels hugely embarrassing. This car needs to be filled with passengers to serve out its bus like properties.
What I don't like about the Previa
There's not much I dislike to be honest. This is a big car and I am never going to find parking any big car easy. The sound system is a bit poor and I would love to be able to uptilt the passenger seat for extra comfort on long trips.
The service costs for such a large car have been surprisingly reasonable. A full service generally costs around £300. Replacement tyres are not cheap but in the four years that we have had this car, we have spent very little on it. The insurance group is relatively high (group 12) and it is a relatively high CO2 emitter so road tax is also higher than average.
Standard and optional features on this model
~ Power Assisted Steering
~ Cruise control
~ Antilock Brakes
~ Driver, passenger and front side airbags
~ 4 electric windows
~ 1 electric sunroof, 1 manual sunroof
~ Electric mirrors
~ Radio/CDtape player
~ Height adjustable seats x2
~ Front and rear headrests
~ Metallic paint (optional extra)
~ Leather seats (optional extra)
~ Parking sensors and/or camera (optional extras).
This is a stylish MPV with a family sized boot. It's not the most economical and is pricey on tax and insurance but if you do not do excessive mileage, this is a very comfortable family car with reasonable servicing costs and lots of creature comforts as standard. Due to the front wheel drive, it is recommended as more as an urban car than a rural one.
In summary, this car says look at me, I'm very sexy and fertile. Hope you enjoyed the ride.
French Maid, Tease Maid
Bonjour, je m'appelle Susie et aujourd'hui, je suis la bonne française. Aimeriez-vous une tasse de thé chic ? OK that's stretching my French Maid O level skills to the limit so we'll continue in English if you don't mind.
Tea is after all quintessentially an English afternoon drink and what French maids may do to spice up an English beverage is probably a little off topic for this review. However you may read this in your best maid outfit if you want to add a little extra flavour to your tea.
A few weeks ago whilst doing the unusual task of wandering up and down supermarket aisles (usually the nice man gives it to me on the doorstep), I stopped to ponder the unusual teas and was specifically looking for a white tea flavoured with blackcurrant which a fellow reviewer had brought to my attention. All of a sudden out of nowhere I was accosted by the nutter in the store. He was male and I was quick to note he'd burst into flames if I struck a match anywhere nearby.
At this point I realized there was no blackcurrant white tea on the shelves but I was holding a packet of green tea and nettle as it stood out as a bit bizarre. The man decided to inform me that the red own brand tea was lovely and much cheaper. I smiled knowingly and said I fancied something unusual for a change. He came closer and proceeded to tell me that he was a Romany and that nettle tea gave him the sh*ts (his words not mine). Rather than hurriedly put the tea back on the shelf, I reckoned (in my own unconventional way of thinking) that this tea was probably lovely and that the vodka breath male had most likely brewed a few nettle leaves in his mug one day (that the local wild dogs had probably peed on). Thus, into my basket went a packet of Clipper Green Tea & Nettle.
The tea box itself is really rather pretty, featuring a large picture of a white lily-like flower (I'm sure it's not a nettle) and a maroon strip with white writing to the left of it. It looks classy in an environmentally friendly sort of way (the box is biodegradable and can be recycled).
There are 25 tea bags in the box and the sell by date indicates that they remain fresh for about one year. They are contained within a foil pack inside the box.
Strange Cup of Tea?
You can listen to a little audio clip if you want to make this review a little more multi faceted and be distracted by the lovely David Tennant at the same time: (http://youtube.com/watch?v=tWhV_He_sqU). What a carry on, ah back to the French maid are you sitting comfortably, then I'll continue.
Green Tea with Nettle is a bizarre cup of tea, you can tell that by looking at the tea bag. The bags look as though they've already been brewed and dried out, with a yellowy tinge, distinctly offputting but they give off a very earthy, mother nature ambience if you are entertaining any organic / vegan / greeny guests. It says on the box that the tea bags are this colour because they are not bleached. Here I must dutifully note that Green Tea & Nettle is not organic or Fairtrade although many of the Clipper tea and coffee range are either or both.
Clipper Green Tea with Nettle is advertised as light and refreshing and a natural source of antioxidants. It says nothing on the box about making you run to the toilet (honest). It is however widely known that green tea does act as a diuretic and will have you rushing to empty your bladder faster than normal. Don't take this tea in a flask on a works outdoor activity weekend unless you are happy to pee in a bush at short notice.
Green tea should always be drunk without milk because milk apparently ruins the flavour completely. You can add sugar or sweetener though, that's OK.
You can use the 'dunk in a cup of boiling water method' which I do, or you can enhance the quality of the tea by brewing it in a teapot. Of course you should use china cups as well but my Tinkerbelle mug will have to suffice since our china cups are on the very highest shelf and I can't reach them without getting the ladders out (and then you might get a glimpse upskirt, ahem ooh la la).
The on pack instructions suggest you should infuse for one to three minutes. Green tea can be quite bitter if you are not used to it, a short infusion is a good idea the first time you try it. I have tried several green teas in the past and found this particular green tea the least bitter of them all. I can even leave the teabag in the cup and drink it all without having to spit it out at the end.
The reason for the lack of bitterness in this green tea may be the added peppermint which is not at all obvious on the pack. If it had been I would have been inclined to put it back and take the advice of the drunkard. I never did fancy toothpaste flavoured tea. However, serendipity had her way and I really do quite like the mild pepperminty taste of this tea. You may be wondering where is the nettle? I wondered that too but having never tasted raw nettle I wouldn't know it unless I fell into a bush and got a mouthful as well as a body stung to hives. Sorry there are some lengths I will not go for the sake of a thorough review. You can go taste some nettle leaves yourself if you must. This tea is however made up 35% nettle, green tea and natural peppermint flavour.
The one big question I wanted answering when I purchased this pack of teabags was 'does it contain caffeine'? Having read the box writing several times over, I am non the wiser. A search on the clipper website informs me that both white and green tea DOES contain caffeine, the amount being dependant on the strength of brewing. If you don't believe me you can go ogle yourself at website (www.clipper-teas.com). I was a little disappointed to discover this, so much for my attempt to be a little less hyper. Still, I know you all love me just the way I am and at 99p for a pack of 25, you're not really going to get too badly stung if you try it yourself.
Thanks for reading.
Today I am Susie the laundry maid. I am here to tell you how you can take control of a daily chore and make it putty in your hands. Listen up.
~ Laundry stuff, (skip if you wish) ~
Being a laundry maid is just one of the many roles that I adopt. Recently however, the Master of the house gave me two weeks off my duties and took me and our four little darlings to a hot place where I lived in little more than a bikini. It was laundry maid heaven and to make matters even more divine, the laundry maids in this place worked very hard and delivered fresh crisp cotton sheets every other day and sandpaper towels daily (dried to a hot crisp on a washing line in Mediterranean sunshine). I hoped the Master wasn't expecting such treatment back home.
On return from my off duty, heavy laden with suitcases, there on the floor amongst the huge pile of post behind the door was a jiffy bag addressed to me. Oh a mystery birthday gift I thought but later disappointedly discovered it was a free sample of a new washing product. My friend Pauline had alerted me to click on an internet link a few weeks before. (We laundry maids are good with our nets). It was called Simply Sensitive, perfect for me being a laundry maid with hands that need to be kept in super soft and silky mode.
Thus, I was thrust into laundry maid overload once again. Our suitcases bulged at the seams with beach towels, swimming stuff and once worn but badly creased t shirts not to mention the sweaty socks, underpants and girly knickers, and soon the linen baskets overflowed all over the floor. It's amazing how much dirty laundry six people can create over two weeks when you wear pretty much nothing most of the time.
~ Do You Want to Play Ball? ~
Out of my free sample pack came four blueish white squidgy balls of putty like stuff. I thought I'd try them out on the first of the holiday washes. How many should I use? Do they go in the drawer or the drum? Are they even suitable for the washing machine? All I could find was information on how eco friendly they are and what to do if you want to do a bit of hand washing (not likely, give me a break, have you seen the size of my pile of washing). At this point, I was getting a little annoyed so using my best netty skills, I googled Aquados to find out some answers. It all became crystal clear:
1. You put two balls in your drum (whether your load is full of lightly, medium or heavily soiled clothes);
2. You load the machine;
3. You stand there and fiddle with the knobs and turn it on.
You only need one ball if you are doing a half load. You use two balls at all other times and it matters not whether your water is hard, soft or medium. If you have an extra large drum (6-8 kg) you should add a third ball.
~ Green Putty, Blue Putty ~
If I had looked a little closer, I'd have found a little instruction leaflet inside the sample box. It told me all about how Eco Friendly Aquados Simply Sensitive is, that it contains premium washing ingredients that are biodegradable and break down naturally into harmless substances. Simply Sensitive balls are non biological. I wonder why they didn't make the putty balls green in colour? Since purchasing several tubs of these putty balls, I realise that they also do a biological version (Simply Active) which comes in a green tub, and these balls are green in colour.
~ I Feel Putty, Oh So Putty ~
As a laundry maid with sensitive hands, I absolutely hate having to deal with any washing detergents that might spill on my hands and make them itch. These putty balls are great because the washing ingredients are contained in a soft wrapper which dissolves in the machine. You simply take a couple out of the (completely recyclable card & plastic) tub of 30 balls, squidge them because you just have to, and chuck them in with your washing.
Simply Sensitive and Simply Active are the first UK detergents to be granted the EU Eco Label. They have also been approved by the Vegan Society. I cannot help but smirk at this, do vegans eat them for extra cleansing? (no offence Vegan readers).
One small drawback is that the tub has one of those horrible plastic rims to break into. I often seem to manage to cut my knuckles in the process.
~ Handy Balls ~
You can also use these washing balls for hand washing. I avoid hand washing at all costs but if you do, you simply dissolve a couple of balls in a bowl of warm water and add your clothes for a little gentle scrubbing. It is recommended that you avoid prolonged contact with the skin. Speaking as Susie the maid, take my advice and buy non hand wash only items so you don't have to do any of this.
~ Smelly Balls? ~
Simply Sensitive balls do have a slight perfume and I'd say they smell how washing used to when I was a wee laundry girl kid. I think perhaps that means it smells of traditional soapiness, which to my nosebuds is rather nice. It isn't overly strong and the end washing result also depends on the fragrance of any fabric condition you may use it with. There have been no complaints from the Master or my darlings. They would however only even notice if the smell was as pongy as Grimsby fish market or the dreaded smell of dog sh*t on shoes in the confines of the car on a cold day .
~ Clean balls? ~
These putty balls of Simply Sensitive claim to have long lasting freshness and outstanding stain removal. I have found them to be effective in removing fake tan from white bathroom towels (not mine I hasten to add, I am a nicely tanned laundry maid). At 40 degree washing, clothes seem to wash perfectly well. Simply Sensitive Balls seem to do the trick. Remember all you need to do is grab a couple of balls, give them a squidge and pop them in with your dirty washing. To complete the job, simply fiddle with the knob, turn it on and spin around.
~ Where Can I Get My Hands On Squidgy Balls? ~
Aquados Simply Sensitive and Simply Active soft tabs come in tubs of 30, enough for an average 15 washing loads. They are not very widely available but can be found in larger stores of Sainsbury's, Waitrose and Morrisons priced at £2.99. They have recently been on half price offer and because they are new, you may also find a 40p off voucher inside your tub. The tubs can also be purchased online from http://www.simplywashing.com/step1/ with free delivery.
~Putty In Your Hands ~
The best bit about these Simply Sensitive balls is that they are easy enough for anyone to use. So there's no excuse for anyone not to get their hands on these, give them a squidge and do the laundry. Come on boys jump to it.
Further information can be found at www.simplywashing.com
**Pink to Make the Boys Wink**
Ive been a foam fan for a few years so imagine my delight when I clapped eyes on a fuschia pink cylinder screaming the words Clean Up FCUK from the shelf at a large Boots on Market Street.
So pleased with myself for this find, I couldnt wait to get home to try it out and I then made a rather foolish mistake of squirting a little gel on my hand on the bus journey home. Oops, a little squirt goes an awful long way and I soon had a handful of frothy foam to deal with. Quite embarrassing, I can tell you.
Clean Up is a foaming bodywash made by FCUK. Im sure youll all be aware that this stands for French Connection UK, a clever play on words. Thankfully, the FCUK wording on the bright pink container is relatively small. If you have young kids you may appreciate this because kids often dont get anagrams and are likely to read it as a naughty word they may be familiar with. I can just imagine my daughter telling her teacher that my mums favourite is pink f*ck in the bathroom.
There are two types of Foaming Body Wash in the range; No. 1 Clean Up (the subject of this review) in a fuschia pink container and No. 2 Lather Up (pale pink). Both contain 150ml of shower gel. I was a little disappointed to note that this is 50ml less than my normal Foamburst (Imperial Leather) foaming shower gel. FCUK lose half a star for this. This product comes with a cap. This is a little bit of a fiddle when using in the shower because you need both hands to remove it. Foamburst in comparison has a squirty nozzle and no cap so is a bit easier to handle with wet hands. The metal FCUK container is recyclable.
**Let the Foam Party Begin**
Not so long ago, on a local radio station, there was a rather amusing breakfast phone in which focused on which body parts people washed first when in the shower. Members of the public would phone in and admit to the order of their private washing routine. Im not telling you mine but I always do the same when I shower whilst singing a Cheeky Girls song (believe this if you will). It feels so much nicer when you use foam too. If youve never used a foaming shower gel, you are really missing something. Ordinary shower gels feel nice but they wash very quickly. Foaming gel is different. A small squirt of FCUK Clean Up in your hand starts off as a pink shower gel blob but within a second or two it swells up into a mass of white foam. When you rub this on your skin it feels amazing, in fact the layer of foam gives you the feeling that someone elses hands are rubbing it in.
The shower foam feels like silk on wet skin. A teeny squirt foams up enough to do most of my body. I suppose if you are a large person you may need a bit more. If you are feeling extravagant you can squirt a huge gelly blob and cover yourself in froth from head to toe. Let your hair down, why not, youll still find you havent used much. A small drawback is that because it feels so good, you may have trouble getting out of the shower. This is where a little self discipline is required in an effort not to run the reservoirs dry and waste precious resources.
The fragrance of this FCUK is very light, a tad floral but certainly not overpowering. The pinkness of the can (I cant emphasize strongly enough how very pink it is) may be enough to put most males off using it but the non lingering smell means that boys you can enjoy using this too. The foam is great for cleansing any grubby bits and I find my skin lovely and soft and silky after use. My skin is normally smooth but it it verges on slightly sensitive. I am happy to say that this FCUK product has no ill effects on my skin. It is lovely used in a cold shower in a hot country for that end of the day shower after hot sizzling on the beach but is equally good on a cold winters day back home under a hot shower. Pink FCUK in the shower is worth getting up in the mornings for.
Clean UP FCUK is also great for use in shaving your hairy bits.
If I can hide my FCUK from hubby and the kids, I expect this to last a few weeks and at £3.95, I consider this a bargain for such a lovely start to my day. FCUK foaming bodywash isnt very widely available but you can usually find it in larger Boots stores (often 3 for 2 on FCUK products).
Thanks for reading.
Rumour has it that a little pink pussy is carried around in my handbag. Just a few months ago, whilst scouring the net, I found this little gizmo and thought it would be perfect as a teeny extra little pressie for my daughters birthday. And, whilst I was ordering one for her I popped another in my online basket for me and then another as a spare, as you do.
My little pink pussy is more commonly known as a Mopod. If you are non the wiser, where have you been for the past few months? A Mopod is a mobile phone accessory. Its not simply a dangly charm (nice as they are) but it has a useful function too. The dangly thing goes into an excited frenzy and reacts in quite a charming way when your phone rings or a text is received.
There is no ding dong or any sound whatsoever with the Mopod except perhaps the teeniest of gentle whirs. The mopod has a red flash which operates when the radio waves are activated. The pink pussy (or your chosen pet / tardis / dalek) then gets excited and spins in a giddy fashion.
When the Mopods arrived, I was initially a bit non plussed at the purchase of three little charms. But, when I got my phone out and rang it near the Mopods, they started whizzing around and I was quite seriously charmed. The pink pussy that I had ordered for my daughter to match her pink phone was ditched in favour of the alternative gangster that had been sent instead of the doggy which was going to be for me. So I ended up with a pink pussy Mopod which I attached to my mobile phone.
The Mopod is around 3cm tall x 2cm width and comes in a special clear bell shaped dome. Inside the dome is a small gizmo and comes in a multitude of varieties which include:
~ Dr WhoTardis
These Mopods are not only charms but can prove very useful if you happen to have your phone switched on silent during a meeting. The charm flashes and spins silently when a text or a call is received.
Attaching the Mopod is easy enough if you have a phone with a charm hanging bar. These are just a little rod usually found on one of the four corners of your mobile phone. You simple slip the Mopod cord underneath the charm bar and then open the cord into a loop and slip the charm through. It then dangles freely from your phone. Of course you dont have to attach it to your phone, although it is essentially a mobile phone accessory, if you just like the look of it you can hang it from your zip, why not? Alternatively you could dangle it from your handbag or suitcase. It will jazz up a boring briefcase no end. A bell shaped dome with a pink pussy is bound to be a talking point in the office.
The one drawback I have found with the Mopod is that being slightly on the bulky side it didnt fit well into the pocket of my tight jeans. After just a few days the clip broke and the Mopod has since been consigned to my handbag to fiddle with when Im b ored. However, the Mopod doesnt actually have to be attached to your phone to work; if it is in close proximity it will still operate. However, if youre in a business meeting and your phone is just one of many around a table, you may well get flashes from the Chick sitting opposite you or the Dog at the head of the table. In fact with this in mind, I suggest that Mopods should be compulsory items for the boardroom, adding a little colour and friviolity for anyone bored of the team chat. Incidentally, the power for these movements comes from two L1154 watch batteries (included) which are located in the base of the dome.
Mopods are fun little charms, great for the novelty factor. They prove a little useless if you stuff your phone into a tight pocket but are a great little gizmo to brighten up a boring journey or meeting.
These Mopod phone charms are compatible with most GSM networks including Orange, T Mobile, Virgin, O2, Vodaphone but not Three.
Mopods can be purchased from a variety of shops but they seem available via the Amazon marketplace for as little as £1.50. Most of the Mopods elsewhere are available for £4.95.
I love cherries. Theres something so summery about nibbling or sucking juicy ripe cherries and then having a stone spitting competition. They also remind me of my holiday as a teen in St Tropez, you could spot cherries all over the beaches. Cherries are delicious.
For most of my life I have hated fizzy coke with a passion. Every time I tried it, I got the feeling of being blown up inside like a hot air balloon. I didnt get it why coke was so popular. I always opted for a nice cold lager instead.
That was until I was pregnant with my youngest. I got that morning nausea at first and if youve been pregnant you know youll try anything to make it go away. Ginger biscuits and fizzy coke are supposed to work; I tried the coke option and found that it did. Ever since, Ive had quite a liking for Coke (but not Pepsi or cheap alternatives), always of the diet variety. I cant stand the thought of drinking so many teaspoons of sugar in one drink (its about 17 spoons I believe, per can). My teeth already have enough fillings to set off an airport metal detector so Im trying not to get any more.
Cherry coke is not a new drink though, just remember the Kinks were singing about it back in 1970 with Lola (although I know the cherry bit was added later) 'Where you drink champagne and it tastes just like cherry-cola' (http://youtube.com/watch?v=hMCdY78k_Q4) Pop it on in the background, it goes with this review.
Coca cola have recently introduced Diet Coke with Cherry as one of many new flavoured coke varieties (others include with lime, with lemon, with vanilla and with citrus zest). The cherry variety had immediate appeal. I like most things cherry (perhaps the best bit of my Babycham youth was the maraschino cherry soaked in alcohol, mmmm squish it in the mouth). Diet Coke has been around since 1982 but the Diet Coke with Cherry was introduced in the UK in 2006. It has no nutritional value and just 1 calorie per 100ml of drink. It has zero fat, protein and sugar and is basically made up of water, vegetable extracts and chemicals including the controversial sweetener aspartame which is thought may have carcinogenic properties.
Cherry Coke is in my opinion one of those drinks that is refreshing for a hot day and certainly not something I would want to consume on a daily basis. It tastes much nicer from a glass than from a can or plastic bottle and it has a really delicious cherry fragrance which you cant help sniffing when you first pour it out. The aroma is also a little similar to that of dandelion and burdock, which my taste buds quite like too.
Cherry Coke is quite cherrylicious for a hot day. It is sticky and sweet but the cherry flavour does come bursting through with a volume. If you like cherries, especially maraschino cherries, and you like fizzy drinks, you may well want to give this a go.
Diet cherry coke is the sort of drink for:
~ Enjoying bikini clad in the garden on a hot day, perfect with a bowl of ripe cherries to nibble alongside.
~ Barbeques and garden parties;
~ The Sheffield Pyjama Jump (to reduce the student nightie out morning after effect);
~ Drinking whilst writing a review at the pc.
It is less suitable for:
~ Kiddy lunch boxes (fizzy drinks every day habits not good for kids);
~ Cold, rainy days;
~ Kiddy birthday parties (it contains caffeine so will make them extra giddy);
~ Drinking in the bath (try Baileys instead if youre old enough);
~ The car, you are bound to spill it on the move.
You can buy Diet Coke with Cherry from most supermarkets in a variety of sizes. Individual 330ml cans, 6 packs x 330ml, single plastic bottles 500ml and large plastic bottles 2litres. Sometimes they are BOGOF as are the 6 pack cans at Sainsburys at the moment. When on offer, 12 cans will cost you around £2.45, so just 20p for a cherry nice drink.
Diet Coke with Cherry is a drink you really must drink cold. You can add ice but I dont, as this makes the Coke taste watery and also gives me brain freeze. Ice and cherries can be a good combination though. A word of warning, dont pop your can in the freezer and forget about it as happened in our house just this week. It explodes and makes a sticky mess in your freezer drawers, (what a way to pop your cherry). You can cool your cherry coke this way but remember to set a timer for 30 minutes to prevent that explosive sticky mess.
For a more fattening drink, you can add a scoop of vanilla (or cherry) ice cream to your glass to make a cherry pop float. Kids love it.
I think Diet Coke with Cherry is the nicest of all the cokes made by Coca Cola. It is not necessarily good for you but a few treats every now and again are good for the soul and if you choose the diet variety over the full sugar one, you will at least not be getting fat on it. Cherry pop has never tasted so good and if it would stop raining I'd be outside in the garden enjoying it bikini clad.
Thanks for reading.
They say it always rains in Manchester. Dont you believe it. But, come rain or shine, theres always washing to be done. Its an indoor job for me because around here, nobody has a washing line anymore. Those who do have been known to lose their knickers, its just an expensive gamble these days.
There are six of us in our house. Thats a lot of socks and pants, shirts and trousers, sheets and towels on a weekly basis believe me. Although I dont really like using a dryer from an environmental point of view, there are some times that they are a must especially when its Sunday night and you realize youve forgotten to wash the only pair of school trousers that dont have holes in the knees.
Hubby bought a Zanussi dryer before I met him and when it finally died some 12 years on (not bad since the average lifespan of a vented dryer is 8 years), we decided that another Zanussi was a good idea. When it began to make horrible noises, we got it fixed quite cheaply (broken bit of fan) but when the clothes came out so hot that I got fried fingers, it had to go. All I wanted in my new replacement was :
~ A front loading drier which opened right to left;
~ Rear vent outlet;
~ A hot or cool drying option;
~ A white machine.
The fairly basic white Zanussi seemed suitable so we ordered it online. A major criteria for us was that it had a vent located on the back of the machine. Some machines have them on the right or the left. This model has a rear vent and a left and right vent. Take your pick. The model we ordered was the TD383 which has now been replaced by the TD4113 model, the same but with a slightly larger capacity of 6kg.
The Zanussi dryer is white and has a large porthole with an opening catch on the right which opens to the left. However you can reverse the door to make it swing the other way if you wish. It swings widely too which means that it has good access for your wet or dry stuff.
It is an electric dryer which takes a maximum load of 6kg (our model has a maximum load of 5kg). This always amuses me as kg laundry means absolutely nothing to me and I point blank refuse to weigh my washing before bundling it into the dryer even for the purpose of a review. However, luckily for me, the instruction manual tells me that for example:
Sheets weigh 700g 1000g
Bath towel 700g- 1000g
Pillowcase 100g -200g
Shirt 200g 300g
I have discovered that the dryer will happily hold two huge bath towels and two bath mats but if I add a couple of extra towels it makes a horrible squeaky noise and is probably unable to cope with the weight.
On the whole however, I use my dryer for socks and pants in abundance (note to American readers, pants are not trousers, pants are male equivalent of female knickers). Our house has a large Victorian drying rack which I use more than my tumble dryer and saves loads of energy in the process (and gives me biceps that female body builders would be proud of). I use it for big items and my delicate and flimsy non tumble dryerable knickers. Theres often a pretty sight for visitors if you look up at the ceiling in our kitchen.
On the front of the machine is a detailed chart stating how long cottons and synthetics take to dry according to the weight of the laundry and the drying temperature selected. You can determine how long it will take to be fully dry or at a ready to iron level of dryness. I do find this information a bit silly. Its not as if Im waiting for the dryer to finish so that I can neatly fold everything on completion for transfer to the ironing basket. Sometimes it stays in there for a couple of days. My failsafe method is to bung in cotton laundry and set it at 40-50 minutes on hottest drying speed.
On the rare occurrence that I have to dry something delicate in a hurry that would normally go on my rack, I might be a little more cautious and select the lower temperature option. On an even rarer occasion I might choose the cool tumble option too. It is nice to have the button there to select if deemed necessary. These two buttons are located on the front panel near the main time selection dial.
Turning the machine on to the desired time setting with the manual twist dial starts the machine. You can select either high temperature for linen and cotton (up to 120 minutes) or a lower temperature for synthetics (up to 80 minutes). It is easy to use without an instruction booklet. Opening the door at any point of the cycle is possible. This model has reverse action drying so it tumbles one way and then tumbles back the other. This allows good mixing of the contents so that you dont end up with a bundle of clothing that is wet in the middle. Opening the door stops the reverse tumble action immediately so you can check whether your washing is dry. Beware, the laundry can be really hot if it is not in the final 20 minutes cooling down period of drying. Popping your hands in and checking the dryness of the pants is a good way to warm up cold hands on a winters day though.
Whats all the fuzz about?
This model of dryer has a circular fluff filter just inside the door. Our previous machine had a lift out one which gathered a nice big sheet of fluff. This one is a bit messier. If you dont remove the fluff immediately as you open the dryer, the fluff will stick to you pants as you remove them. Hot Pants with added fuzz is not really very attractive even if you have the nicest bottom. If you do not remove the fluff, this can cause eventually clog the machine and cause it to overheat.
Tumble drying is expensive and on high heat setting, this machine uses 2.6kWh electricity. To reduce the cost of drying your washing:
~ Fill the dryer to maximum load when using (drying one item at a time is very expensive);
~ Dry as much as possible outdoors or on an indoor maiden in a well ventilated room;
~ Spin your washing well so that it dries faster;
~ Dont set the timer to an excessively long period, over drying produces creased and crinkly clothes and wastes energy;
~ Regularly clean the filter to keep machine working efficiently;
~ Ventilate the room; hot and steamy doesnt help clothes to dry.
This is a good bottom of the range dryer and works efficiently. It holds a decent volume of washing but ours seems to screech a bit if overfilled. Its not too noisy when not overstuffed. It has an energy rating C which is typical for most vented dryers and costs around £170. I would give it 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it if you are looking for a quick and easy tumble for your pants and stuff.
Thanks for reading.
One of the good things about being an urban girl is that it feels a real treat to escape into the countryside. We are lucky enough to live within easy reach of lots of beautiful scenery, the Peaky Peak District, the Lakes, North Wales, Yorkshire Dales and N Yorkshire Moors and more besides. (Offers for house swap if you live somewhere gorgeous and rural still considered, mansions only).
Essential footwear for me comes in the form of a pair of walking boots. Recently, whilst walking in the Lake District on a particularly cold day, my feet got wet; my boots had holes. Soggy wet socks and cold feet were enough to make me go shopping in search of a replacement pair.
All I knew was I wanted a good pair, suitable for the hills. My friend Koshkha had praised a pair of soft comfy leather Brashers and the only other make I knew of was Meindl as hubby had recently bought a pair for himself. I suspected these must be top of the range as he has a tendency to buy expensive brands. Luckily for me, Blacks had a 20% off all boots over £100 on the day I went shopping so I decided to go for a relatively expensive pair. That basically narrowed my choice to either a pair of soft brown Brashers or a pair of harder but denim coloured Meindls. The Brashers to be honest felt like soft slippers compared to the Meindl pair but I was worried that they lacked ankle support and who wants a twisted ankle whilst in the middle of nowhere?
The shop assistant assured me that the Burma Lady Pro Meindl pair were a very versatile walking boot because:
~ They are categorized as B boots suitable for demanding hikes in low level mountains, easy trekking in the major mountain ranges, most suited for walking on marked mountain paths.
~ They have a Sil Nubeck leather upper with a goretex lining (helping to keep your feet non sweaty). Goretex is a membrane which works in the same way as human skin, with millions of tiny pores per cm2, making it impermeable to water vapour and water.
~ They have an Air Active Footbed which is the Meindl term for a technological advanced insole consisting of hydrophobic leather, cushioning and air drainage.
~ They have a Multigriff sole. I could tell you that this has a Soft PU wedge with integrated pronation and supination zones and an integrated modular edge but it sounds rather arsey so Ill confirm that it has a really good gripping sole.
~ Weight Approx 650g, Available In Sizes 3.5 9, Colour: Azure blue.
~ Guaranteed totally waterproof
They cost £119 but I got them with 20% discount.
Meindl High Boots
These boots are a bit of the hard side and take a fair amount of wear to mould to your feet. For this reason, I decided to wear them around the house for a couple of hours to try and wear them in. They felt a bit hard on my ankles even with proper soft walking socks. The first time I wore these boots was a trip to the Lakes on a lovely warm day in February. The walk was a mixture of rough rocky path, wet boggy grass and dry grassland. The boots performed well and kept my feet bone dry. On steep downhill slopes I felt the hardness of the ankle support but this has softened with wear.
Maybe you now picture me as a fit woman of the Fells and I should stop here and leave you with this impression. However, never being a woman who likes to mislead, I should perhaps add here that the reason I chose the blue boots over the brown is that they go well with denim. All walkers know you should never wear jeans for walking as they retain water and make you feel cold.
I have to own up here that I am a fair weather walker. We only go walking when the weather looks good. If en route, we see cloud in the area we are heading for, we will often change direction and head for the sunnier spot. Who wants to walk in the rain? Not me. I dont really like doing steep climbs either since there are nicer ways of making your heart race. Generally we do reasonably challenging walks that the kids can manage but that are away from the crowds. I also like to walk in a short skirt, denim matches my boots. You cant beat walking on a nice day with bare legs. I do like to grin to myself when I see the proper walkers, kit out in all their layers of goretex and heavy baggage for every possible change of weather. My bag is full of snacks and drinks, and I give the map to hubby, I am allergic to map reading.
I really like these boots. They have been a pain literally on one recent seven mile up and down walk; I got bruised ankles after tying them up too tight. The ankle support is a bit hard and does take quite a few months to ease up. I am however pretty confident that these boots will last me for the next twenty years, given that I dont really intend to be hammering them up and down Helvellyn on a regular basis. They keep my feet dry (not that I get sweaty feet) but they keep the water out when you walk on marshy land or slip off a stepping stone. They are smart and seem of excellent construction. I also admit that at the end of a long walk it is lovely to take them off and slip on my pink pom pom slippers. Would you get the same satisfaction with softer walking boots?
Please note that the Dooyoo picture shows the boot in brown (men's), the women's version of this boot is blue.
Thanks for reading.
It's that time of year when we women need to shed the winter trousers and bare our legs to the world. Hairy legs are a no go unless of course you are Ms Helena Bonham Carter in Ape costume or you have a penchant for being mother earthy, displaying wild birds nests in your armpits and jungley legs to rival Tarzan.
For me, I have to admit that waxing is virgin territory. I can't bring myself to experience the torture; I suppose its a small price to pay for having such tactile skin. The thought of those epilators that pluck the hairs from your very legs brings tears to my eyes, so the only option left is the vile sulphuric mess that is hair removal cream or the simple, odourless and usually painless option, the humble shaver.
In the past I have used disposable razors and a Ladyshave but dry leg shaving is so last century. My eye was alerted to the Venus Vibrance adverts with their very pink allure, a strong selling point for girly girls like me. A single Venus Vibrance razor costs around £8 and is available in most supermarkets and large chemist shops. It comes in one of those hard moulded plastic wraps which you can only get inside with a sharp pair of scissors or a bread knife. Dont even try to open with your teeth or tear after a small snip with the scissors. You will cut your skin. I know.
Once you have got past the packaging, you will find a pink and white plastic object a bit like a soap dish, a pink handled razor and a Duracell battery size AAA. Firstly, unscrew the bottom of the handle of the razor and insert the battery. Twist the base of the handle back into place and make sure it sticks firmly into place. I had to try this several times; be firm and make sure it is tight otherwise you could get a shock later in the bath.
Press the button and feel the vibes
At the base of the handle is a little silver button. When you press this, the shaver begins to shake. You dont have to switch this on at all but it does somewhat increase the fun of an otherwise dull and boring task and it makes a nice little hum sound to boot.
Lets face it, shaving your legs is a bit of a chore, but a necessary evil unless you enjoy the pain of the wax. The Venus Vibrance does however make the shaving task a bit less of a pain in several ways.
~ You can do it in the bath or shower.
~ It feels good
~ You get silky legs as a result
~ It is painless and you are unlikely to nick yourself
~ You get better results if you use a gel as well.
~ It vibrates and hums.
Wet is Best
I am really rubbish at physics but I do know that water and electricity do not mix and I guess that goes for battery operated things too. When I first bought the razor I wasnt really sure that it could really be safely used in the shower, so I did something outrageous for me, I read the details that came with the packaging. Sure enough, it is safe to use the Venus in the shower of bath.
Get Wet and Cover Yourself in Gel
Even better, is the fact that it works better with gel. For those who have known me since I started reviewing, you may know that I love anything satiny or silky on my skin. Foamburst gel is the product I use with my Venus, you just squirt a little on your hand and it foams up. Then you rub it on your skin as soft or as hard as you like. Its perfect for use with this shaver. Then, simply stroke the razor from the bottom of your leg in an upward glide, smoothly does it, to remove unwanted hairiness. It is really quick and easy and the results are excellent, smooth pins every time. For best underarm shaving, a series of vertical and horizontal strokes gives the best results since hair there grows in more than one direction.
It is worth noting here that shaving is best done when the skin is warm and wet. Therefore it is a good idea to be thoroughly soaked in the shower or bath before you start shaving. A good excuse to rub that Foamburst all over for a while and get thoroughly scrubbed. After a few minutes of warmth and moisture on the skin, the hairs will be softer and easier to remove.
The razor head has three comfort-coated blades for a smooth shave. The blades last ages depending on how frequently you use the razor. You only know that they need changing when the blade feels a little dull. Sets of spare Venus blade heads cost around £8.50 for a set of four. You simply clip off the old one and replace with a new head.
The makers of the Venus Vibrance also claim that using this razor helps to exfoliate dry skin from the body leaving new and fresher hairless skin behind. I cant say that Ive noticed the exfoliating properties but Ill try and pay extra attention when my legs are a bit peely after too long in the sun.
Quick & Fun & Easy Peasy
If youve shaved your legs in the bath, youll notice a nasty scum layer on the surface which may stick to you when you get out. For this reason, shaving is best done in the shower. After use, the Venus Vibrance can be stored in the moulded box. It doesnt have a lid which I suspect is to prevent the wet blades going rusty. The base of the soap box also opens to reveal storage space for spare blade heads.
The vibration of the shaver in use does feel quite nice on the legs and underarms. If I forget to press the button, theres a certain something missing. Overall I think its great and am very happy to continue being a wax virgin in favour of being a Venus goddess with legs 11.
Venus do a range of shavers for all manner of goddesses. Choose from the pink Venus Vibrance which vibrates, the blue Venus Divine which doesnt and the blue Venus Divines which are disposable. You can find out more from their website at www.gillettevenus.com/uk/
Once upon a time there was the humble Dime Bar, a chocolate snack bar like no other. In 2005, the Dime Bar was renamed in the UK (to be consistent with the name throughout the rest of Europe) as a Daim Bar. This sounds quite like 'damn' with an American twang but to me it will always be a Dime Bar, (now spelt incorrectly), so throughout this review I will stick with the name I know and love. Ladies and gentlemen and members of the jury, I give you the most pert chocolate bar of all time, the small but deliciously sweet Dime bar.
Dimes Stand Out in a Crowd
If you scour your eyes over a confectionery counter, somewhere in the display you will no doubt find a hidden treat. More often than not, it isnt prominently positioned but as soon as your eye catches the red and blue wrapper you will notice it stand proud of all its competition. Like a princess in a room full of frogs, the Dime bar will demand your attention and shout choose me.
Small is Cute
The Dime Bar is one of the most unusual confectionary bars in that it is slim and very hard, covered in chocolate. What other competition is there for something so pert but with the hardness and edge of a set of Scammell Wheel Nuts? A Dime Bar makes the most amazing snap when you break it and it is perfect for nibbling, biting or just simply sucked slowly whilst the chocolate dissolves and magically turns into the flavour of almost burnt caramel. A taste that once youve discovered you will crave forever.
If It's Good for the Swedes..
You only have to discover that the Dime Bar originates in Sweden to understand the sexiness of a Dime (just think Swedish weather girls). In 1953, the Swedish company Marabou began selling the bar (then known as a Daim), in Sweden and Norway. It was later introduced to the UK and became a popular treat in the 1990s following a successful TV ad featuring an armadillo. The snack is likened to an armadillo since it has a rough textured chocolate coat but a smooth and dreamy caramel centre. However, the centre is not soft, it is as hard a diamond cutter, please watch you teeth when eating straight from the fridge.
Suck It and See
The best way in my opinion to eat a Dime Bar is to first harden it by putting it in the fridge (or freezer) for a short while. This gives you maximum hardness and intensifies the flavour compared to when eaten warm and melted which gets very sticky. When cold and solid, pop the bar in your mouth and break off a piece with a brittle snap. Then suck. The chocolate melts and is sweet and tasty but soon a sense of what can only be described as magic caramel floods your mouth. Its sweet but not sickly, delicious and very moreish. Cadbury Flake has serious competition here.
The magic caramel centre of a Dime is modelled on the flavour of an American product made by a company called Heath. The magic recipe was refused but Heath did eventually give a list of ingredients which Marabou experimented with for three years until they perfected the crunchy caramel centre. It is heartening to discover that such a quality product took years of research and effort in the making.
Not surprisingly, there is little nutrition in a Dime Bar and plenty of sugar. The Dime Bar is therefore recommended as a special treat rather than an everyday snack.
An Experience to Dime For
Sucking the pert and sexy Dime Bar is something that has to be tried to be believed. As the saying goes, good things come in small packages. The Dime Bar is great for a snack when you fancy more of a nibble than something really filling, but if you try it, I think youll find satisfaction guaranteed. Dentists are probably exempt from the enjoyment.
Available in selected supermarkets and corner shops priced around 45p.
Theres nothing like a game of Monopoly to bring out the worst in people. When I was just a wee girl, I always won and my secret was to buy the cheapest and the most expensive properties and slap hotels on them all. Nobody dared land on my side of the board. I liked the cheap and cheerful Old Kent Road and the rich and expensive Mayfair and didnt much care for the middle of the road places in between.
The traditional game of Monopoly has been around for years, since the 1930s in fact when it was invented by Mr Darrow. In recent years the game has been given a variety of makeovers and you can get Monopoly in a make your own edition, in Simpsons or Manchester United flavours amongst many others. An up to date Here and Now edition is one of the latest additions to the collection and reflects the ever expensive and ever changing capital city that is London.
Most people will have heard of and played Monopoly at some point. For those unfamiliar with the game, it is a board game for 2-6 players. Each person starts with the same amount of money and by throwing two dice, move around the board buying property at their will and paying rent when landing on an opponents land. It is a game of luck (the roll of the dice), but of skill in being able to manage your money by buying properties wisely.
Give Me Some Credit
There are no bank notes at all in this version of Monopoly, instead the game relies on credit card transactions. This is rather cleverly done using a small hand held machine, rather like a calculator. Everyone starts off with 15 million pounds on their individual credit card (color coded to identify one from another). If you owe someone rent, your credit card is inserted in the debit side of the machine and your opponents card is placed in the credit side. The first jingle debits the money electronically from one card and a second sound indicates the money has been credited to the other account. The balance of each card is shown on the electronic device.
Modes of transport around the board have been updated. Gone are the symbols of old London such as the top hat and Victorian iron, replaced by six modern life artifacts; mobile phone, rollerblade, skateboard, burger, aeroplane and racing car. The board is essentially the same as the traditional Monopoly board with the same colour codes for the property groupings, the same chance and community chest squares and the same corner squares. Advancing to Go will net you £2 million each time you pass but getting out of jail will cost you £500K. In this game prices have been multiplied by 10 000 compared with the original game, thats what I call mega inflation.
Properties around the board have changed with the times too. All the railway stations have turned into airports, the utilities Electrics and Water have become Telecoms and Satellite and every coloured property has a new name to reflect changing areas of importance and wealth in the city. Having never lived south of the Midlands, some of the names on the board are unfamiliar to me including Limehouse and Wardour Street. To those familiar with London, the names and places may be very familiar. I find this a bit annoying. Go back to Bishopsgate doesnt have the same ring as Go Back to Old Kent Road and Kensington Palace Gardens just isnt Mayfair.
If you manage to accumulate millions, you can start to buy property. In Here & Now these are not houses and hotels that you buy, they are apartments and hotels. The green apartments neatly stack on top of each other, much easier to manage if anyone knocks the board.
If you land on a chance or community chest you may receive £2m because your internet company is doing well which does sound somewhat better than £20 for winning a beauty competition in the original game.
Old v New
The Here and Now version is certainly novel and a lot of fun for the first few games. However, there are quite a few drawbacks. One annoying aspect is that you never know at a glance how much money you have on your card. The banker needs to keep informing the players how much they have. It is also harder to keep up with how much others have on their card too. In the original game it is easy to spot the rich players by the size or absence of their pile of pink £500 notes.
Another big area of contention is whether the designated banker is paying proper attention. It is very easy for whoever is in control of the credit card machine to debit and credit the wrong way round. After playing this game a few times, I have to conclude that you need a designated banker if more than four are playing. It is quite a time consuming task to be a player and a banker.
The metal mover items are quite fun and the apartments and hotels are a definite improvement compared to the original game. The charm of the old named properties are lost in this game but for those more familiar with London, this may not be seen to be the case. Overall it is a newer version of a well loved game. You still get all the same arguments and family feuds but theres something quite healthy about that. Im just waiting for the game when the batteries die.
Charlie Cocoa was one of the things I inherited when I married hubby. It was a coffee coloured vacuum cleaner, later named Charlie Cocoa by our first child who was scared of it as a toddler. Charlie Cocoa was made by Miele and led a very adventurous life surviving a complete house renovation, a memorable outing to a 'never been cleaned ever before' house and clearing up after the trails of 4 children and 2 adults. In a final departure in a literal bang and a puff of smoke aged around 15 years, a new Miele was definitely going to replace it.
Having been suitable impressed by the now ancient Miele model, there were a variety of Miele vacuum cleaners to choose from including ones suitable for pet owners. We do not have any dogs or cats in the house so opted for the powerful Hepa Solution TT 2000 (model S718) which comes in a lovely shade of royal blue.
Miele describe this vacuum cleaner as sledge shaped. I've never heard it described as this before and it immediately makes me want to sit astride it and slide down the stairs, but sensibilities prevail (and I know someone who damaged her knees doing something similar and the resulting pain). The sledge shaped body is compact with three smooth castors (with 360° rotation) on the base for easy drag along manoeuvrability. The top of the body is slightly chunkier towards the back, smoothly curved towards the front. It stands on the flat upright back when not in use.
The hose attaches to the front part of the upper body with an easy squeezy clip in case you should need to remove to check for a blockage. The hose is a bendy, flexi tube approximately 2m in length.
The main attachment for this cleaner is the telescopic turbo brush. This consists of a metal tube and a swivel headed turbo brush head. A noticeable improvement from our old Miele model is the ease at which the telescopic tube can be extended. A small button on the back of the tube is pressed and you can pull the tube to any position which suits your height. Releasing the button locks the tube into its new position.
It is also ridiculously easy to attach or detach the telescopic tube. Quickly depress a button near the connection and off it comes.
The main turbo head is around 20cm wide and has a drop down brush for use on smooth floors. This is easily switched by the use of a large press down button which you can do with your foot.
Neatly stored in the body of the sledge are three extra attachments; a dusting brush, upholstery nozzle and crevice nozzle. A black button needs to be depressed to open the compartment where these are found. Each piece has its own shaped storage place so it is obvious where each piece fits. I occasionally use each of these and they are very easy to attach to the bendy tube.
This Miele also comes with an additional hard floor brush intended for use with wooden and other hard floor surfaces. However, the main turbo head with brushes down seems to work equally well on the Amtico and wooden floors in our attic, which saves having to carry the extra brush around.
The great thing about the Miele Solution is that you don't need a manual at all. Everything is obvious. Clear symbols on the body enable you to select the desired sucking power. The options are 300W, 600W, 900W, 1300W, 1600W and 2000W. There are even symbols next to the wattage powers to show you which is best to choose. For example, if you wish to vacuum your curtains (do people seriously do this??), choose the 300W option or for woven carpets go for the full power of 2000W. Contrast this to an upright vacuum; I can never quite work out how to get the upright part into a moveable position. Trying to vacuum with an upright 90º vacuum that you can't click into the moveable position is one of my absolute pet hates. Maybe that's just me. I also find uprights heavy to carry upstairs, awkward to get into corners with and they give me backache. The Miele fares well on all these points. Our house is on three floors but as long as the bag is not full to bursting, I find this easily manageable to carry around and I am only a slim domestic goddess (believe that if you will).
There is a clear on / off switch which you can operate with your foot to save bending down. There is also a clearly marked cable retract switch. Be careful here as the 10m cable rewinds at such a speed it could really whip your legs if they get in the way. It really hurts.
Using this vacuum is a breeze. It's like having a little dog at your feet as you move around, the free wheeling balls on the cleaner trot along with you. The suction power at full 2000W is amazing as long as the bag is not full in which case you will notice that nothing much is happening. My only criticism of this cleaner is that the bags are a little smaller than the older Miele models but I still only replace ours every few weeks. Each bag holds just over a gallon capacity (4 litres) and a box of five bags (with spare filters) costs around £7. If you have new fluffy carpets you may find the bags fill up very quickly.
The suction is very powerful and will attempt to suck up anything in its path. Socks, bags, cushions, stray undies, pens and marbles. It is best not vacuum with your eyes glued to the TV or you're bound to suck something up you shouldn't. If you wish to reduce the suction, you can choose a lower power setting or open the air flow (located on the plastic section of the hose).
If you do suck up an object and it blocks the pipe or goes into the bag, then you will need to turn it off and open the sledge body by lifting up the black ridge near the handle. This will give you access to the dust bag. If the tube seems blocked, you can take off the telescopic tube, head or hose and usually the offending blockage can be easily removed.
The Miele Solution is very quiet for such a powerful vacuum cleaner and is easily portable with a built in carrying handle. The hose attachment clips magnetically to the side of the sledge so that you don't need both hands to carry it upstairs. The HEPA filters help filter tiny particles which makes it particularly beneficial for allergy sufferers.
Just as an aside, I note here that our local radio station did a poll which revealed that 26% of people do their housework naked. Seems quite an unbelievable figure to me, but I have to admit having a go at the hoovering in the buff, just for a laugh. Hope the nosy neighbours weren't in eyeshot, we do have huge windows.
In conclusion, I think the Miele Solution is fantastic. I'm not someone who vacuums the house on a daily basis for something to do. Rather I vacuum when it visibly needs it because I love to hear the clink clink of bits disappearing into the sledge and it feels amuch more satisfying job. Sometimes this means I have to do the entire house in one go and as this gets to be quite a job I can find myself at it for hours. The Miele even has a thermal cut off should I get a little over enthusiastic though. Fortunately, this is a rare occurrence as there is usually something else more interesting to be done. The Solution is an efficient sucker and easy to use. Miele say they have a lifetime of twenty years which I think is excellent value for a £200 vacuum cleaner which works so well. Highly recommended. Right I'm off to vacuum the curtains, and if you believe that you're a bigger sucker than this vacuum cleaner.
Thanks for reading.