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welshfruitbat
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Member since: 09.02.2006

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    • More +
      10.04.2007 12:51
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      Not one of the best games for children

      BACKGROUND

      A relative decided to buy this for my son for Christmas. Now that he has had a few months to play with it, I thought I’d write a review.


      THE PRODUCT

      Crocodile Dentist is made by MB games. The game is for two to four players and recommended for ages four and up. As this was a present, I am unsure how much they paid for it. However after looking on various sites such as Amazon, it looks as though it sells for around £10 to £15.

      PACKAGING

      The game comes in what appears to be a fairly sturdy box and has pictures of children playing the game.

      Instructions on how to play are printed on the back of the box.


      THE GAME

      On opening the box I discover a crocodile face with a very small body attached. I am surprised by how small the game is compared to the size of the box – it is almost half the size. The box does have two large pieces of cardboard at the top and bottom of the box to stop the game from getting damaged whilst being stored.

      The back of the box tells me I need to stick paper eyes and a nose onto my crocodile, but when I take it out of the box, this has already been done. Whether it is sold like this or whether the relative who bought it stuck them on I don’t know.

      The crocodile is a bright green colour and is made out of hard plastic. I would guess that the face of the crocodile is about nine inches long and about five inches wide. One big advantage of this game is that it does not require batteries.


      HOW TO PLAY

      The mouth of the crocodile is ‘hinged’. What you have to do is open the mouth of the crocodile until it clicks into place. Once the mouth is opened ten teeth are revealed along the bottom section of the mouth. Each player has to take it in turns to press one of the teeth down. One of the teeth when pressed will cause the crocodiles mouth to snap shut (the tooth that causes this changes each time). If you make the mouth shut then you lose. The winner is the last person left.


      MY OPINION

      I was disappointed with this game if I’m quite honest. When Gareth first unwrapped it I imagined it would be a really fun game to play over the Christmas holidays – I was wrong.

      The game play isn’t complicated and there is not long list of rules to have to try and explain to a young child, which is good.

      The fact that the game doesn’t need batteries is a huge bonus because you haven’t got to spend time hunting around for them because they want to try the game straight away.

      The idea if making it from a hard plastic is also a good one because when children play with games they can tend to get knocked off tables etc and this game seems made to withstand that sort of thing.

      The big problem with this game in my opinion is after a while it becomes tedious to play not only for the adults but most importantly the children. Instead of just the ten teeth along the bottom it would have been an idea to also include some along the top, just to make the game last that little bit longer. The box says up to four people can play and with only ten teeth then there are not many turns to be had. It would have also been nice to make the teeth just slightly different from each other. When you look in the mouth all you can see are ten identical shaped and sized teeth. It would have been more interesting to have different shapes. The number if times we have played this game and the first tooth pressed was the one to snap the mouth.

      Gareth will play this for about 10-20 minutes at the most and then he’s bored and wants to do something else. Chloe who is only 16 months old has had more fun with this. She will spend ages pressing the teeth and opening the mouth back up – it keeps her highly entertained.

      I don’t know – maybe the age range on this was too high. Maybe instead of being age 4 and above it should have been ages 2 to 4. It just doesn’t seem exciting enough to keep a 4 year old interested for very long.

      Unfortunately this game has lost its appeal to Gareth – he just doesn’t want to play with it. Chloe however still likes to play with it.


      WOULD I RECOMMEND

      Whilst I liked the idea of a game that doesn’t need batteries and I like the idea of the game in theory, I feel that I can’t really recommend it. I feel that £10-£15 is a lot to pay for a game that doesn’t hold a child’s attention span for very long. I think there are other, better games currently on the market, which cost less than this one and will give more enjoyment to a child.


      Thanks for taking the time to reads my review, Cath. xxx

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      • More +
        04.04.2007 09:23
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        A good way to introduce children to school

        BACKGROUND

        As some of you already know, my little boy attends nursery. Once a week they give him a book to bring home to read through with parents. If I get chance, I try to write a review on the book before it goes back.


        PRODUCT

        The book he brought home this week is entitled ‘Going to School’. It is one of the Usborne first experiences book. The price on the back of the book is £3.99, but both Play.com and Amazon have it for sale on their websites for between £1.00 to £2.50. The book is written by Anne Civardi and illustrated by Stephen Cartwright. The ISBN for this paperback is 0 7460 4125X.


        THE STORY

        The story centres on the Peach family, or to be more precise, Percy and Polly Peach. Percy and Polly are due to start school for the first time, along with Millie, whose family (the Marsh family), live next door to the Peaches.

        The story continues with the children waking up on the first day of school and getting ready to go.

        It then goes on to tell what happens when the children get to school and all the fun activities they can do on a typical day there.


        THE ILLUSTRATIONS

        The illustrations in this book are lovely. All the pictures are well defined and brightly coloured. A great amount of attention has been paid to detail, such as a parent wiping their child’s nose. This is something that did not necessarily have to be included to have any impact on the story, but is something that makes it all the more realistic of what happens when young children are in school. There is a lot going on in the pictures, but they are not ‘too busy’.

        There are also some nice touches, such as we find out that Polly is a bit shy, so in the picture she is holding onto her mum’s leg (something that I can relate to with my little one); another is when they are having break time someone tips their squash and is getting some kitchen towel to mop it up. These are not the main parts of the picture, just something that is going on in a corner, but it shows there are plenty of different things going on in each picture if you are prepared to look.


        MY OPINION

        This is the first of the ‘Usborne First Experiences’ books I have seen and I really enjoyed reading it with Gareth.

        It tells your child what is going to happen on their first day of school in a nice gentle way, which will ensure they understand.

        This book also goes some distance I think to alleviate a child’s fear about going to school. For example Polly is shy at first, so the teacher says that her mum could stay with her for a while. I think that this is encouraging for a child who may be scared about the initial going to school and being left on their own.

        The books shows all the fun activities children can do in school like drawing, painting and dressing up. It can also reassure children that they will have a drink and something to eat as the day progresses, even though they are away from mum and dad.

        I liked that they didn’t put lots of writing on every page. This book only has about three lines of text per page. I feel that children can sometimes feel slightly intimidated if they are having a book read to them that has a dozen or so lines of text per page.

        The book also allows the child to get involved, by asking questions about the story – for example one of the pages says about the activities the children are doing. The story asks you what Polly and Percy are doing. Your child then has to look at the picture and find the children to see what they are doing. It uses this basic questioning several times during the book, which means your child has to be looking at what is going on.

        Another nice touch is that on every page there is a yellow duck hidden, which your child has to find. This again I think helps with their observation skills.

        Gareth really enjoyed having this book read to him. He had lots of fun trying to find the duck on every page, and seemed to get a sense of achievement when he found it. He also enjoyed answering the different questions that were in the book.

        In the week that we have had the book, we have read it together quite a few times. In fact it is a bit of a shame it have to go back to school.

        There is no age recommendation on this book, but I would say it is ideal for any child aged three to four.

        Other titles which are available in the Usborne first experiences are;
        Going to the hospital
        Going to the dentist
        Moving house
        The new baby
        Going on a plane
        The new puppy
        Going to the doctor

        For further information you can visit their website, which is www.usborne.com


        WOULD I RECOMMEND

        Yes – it’s a nice, gentle book which explains to a child what happens when they go to school.


        Thanks for taking the time to read my review, Cath. xx

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        • Asda Cheese Thins / Other Food / 57 Readings / 57 Ratings
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          12.03.2007 14:39
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          A great tasting biscuit

          BACKGROUND

          One of my biggest vices has to be biscuits. If I’m sitting down with a drink or cooking food, I always seem to end up with my hand in the biscuit tin.

          I’m particularly fond of cheese biscuits, but find that branded ones are quite expensive. On one of my frequent visits to Asda’s, I went on a mission to find a cheaper alternative.


          PRODUCT

          The biscuits that I found and decided to test are made by Asda and are called ‘Cheese Thins’. They are only available in one size of packet – namely 150g and they set me back 47 pence.


          PACKAGING

          The packaging makes these look quite appealing, as it has some pictures on the packet of the biscuits with topping on, showing you serving suggestions. The section with the biscuits on is pinkish in colour and the section with the name of the biscuits on is blue. For me these stood out on the shelf because of the colour. Most cheese biscuits come in either red or yellow packets, so these grabbed my attention for being different.


          TESTING THE PRODUCT

          Opening these biscuits was fairly easy because they have a little piece which you pull around the pack and it opens them up, about a centimetre from the top.

          The first thing that hits me when I open these is the smell. There is a pleasant aroma of cheese, which isn’t too strong and overpowering, but is very nice.

          I take a biscuit out of the packet, and as the name suggests, they are quite thin. Two of these put together would probably make up about the same thickness as a digestive, rich tea biscuit etc.

          The biscuit feels slightly greasy to the touch, which I wasn’t expecting. When I eat one of these though, I do not experience any greasiness in the flavour or in my mouth afterwards.

          I take a bite. The biscuit is nice, crisp, and crunchy. They taste delicious. The cheese taste is not too overpowering, but is powerful enough for you to know what it is. They feel very light in my mouth, you could say that they melt in the mouth. They certainly get my taste buds going.

          The only downside(!) to these is that they are very moreish – I am unable to have just the one, I have to have three or four, which isn’t good for my waistline.


          OTHER INFORMATION

          Ingredients, storage instructions, and nutritional information is printed on the back of the packet, so I won’t repeat here.

          The important thing of note is that each biscuit contains 1.3g of fat, approximately 0.1g of salt and 21 calories.

          Also a note for allergy sufferers is that these biscuits contain gluten, wheat, milk and barley. They may also contain traces of nuts and seeds.

          To find out more information on this product you can telephone Asda on 0845 300 1111, or you can visit their website, which is www.asda.com


          MY OPINION

          These biscuits are very nice. They are lovely and crispy, and not too overpowering in the taste department. Even saying that, you can still definitely detect the cheese taste.

          They taste very light when you are eating them and you could say they are almost melt in the mouth.

          The greasy feel that they have when you first take them out of the packet was a little bit unexpected, but it didn’t affect the taste in any way.

          These biscuits really are moreish. I would challenge anyone to eat just one of these and leave the rest in the packet.

          As these biscuits only contain 21 calories a biscuit I suppose you could say they are a lot better for you than some other biscuits, which can contain up to 50 calories. Unfortunately they are not very good for my waistline, because I can’t stop eating them!!


          WOULD I RECOMMEND

          Definitely. These biscuits are cheap, tasty and not too heavy on the calories. I will be buying a few more packets on my next shop. I just wish they would last longer.


          Thanks for taking the time to read my review, Cath. xx

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          • More +
            07.03.2007 11:59
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            Porridge with pieces of chocolate in

            BACKGROUND

            My little girl is sixteen months old now and is not a big fan of milk. Trying to get her to drink her formula milk every day is proving a difficult task. I’ve been disguising it by mixing with Weetabix and rusks, but I think she’s cottoned on to what I’ve been doing and has gone off them a bit now.

            In desperation I tried to look for something else that I could mix her milk with. The only alternative I could think of was porridge, but seeming as I can’t add sugar or honey to it, I thought she may find it slightly bland. I needed something that was a little bit different and on one of my frequent shopping trips to Asda I thought I found it.


            THE PRODUCT

            Asda Choc Chip porridge is from their ‘Great Stuff’ range. This range is aimed specifically at children. The product claims to be high in fibre and with no added salt. Another claim is that it has been taste tested by kids and is endorsed by Asda nutritionists.

            Asda also claim that all the products in their ‘Great Stuff’ range have controlled levels of fat, salt, sugar and the minimum use of additives.

            The box cost me 98p. What I liked about this was the fact that it wasn’t one large bag that you open and have to use up as quickly as possible, but sachets instead. This box contains eight sachets and each sachet contains 32g.


            THE PACKAGING

            The box is about half the size of a normal cereal box. It is identical to other products in the ‘great stuff’ range – the top half of the box being a bright green with the bottom half being purple. Also on the front of the box is a superhero type character. With this box being so bright you can’t really miss it on the shelf.


            PREPARING THE PRODUCT

            It’s coming up to Chloe’s supper time so its time to prepare the product.

            Upon opening the box I find eight white sachets inside. One thing I like is that each individual sachet has the instructions on how to make printed on the back. I find this ideal if you have no room in the cupboard to keep the box – you can just remove the sachets and pop them anywhere you have space, without having to worry about forgetting how to make it.

            I open up one sachet and am greeted by porridge flakes with a decent number of chocolate chips mixed in with it. Following the instructions on the back of the pack I mix half a sachet (I thought that using the whole sachet as per the instructions would be too much) with her milk in a bowl and then pop in the microwave for the recommended time.

            Upon taking the bowl out of the microwave I can see that the porridge has turned a light brown colour where some of the chocolate chips have melted and mixed in with the porridge. I have to wait a few minutes for the porridge to cool before I can test it on Chloe.


            TESTING THE PRODUCT ON THE CHILDREN

            I put a small amount on a spoon and give it to her. She opens her mouth and in it goes. We have a bit of face pulling (which isn’t unusual at feeding time) and down it goes. We manage a few more spoonfuls being eaten, before she starts spiting it out.

            I couldn’t help feeling slightly disappointed because I thought I would be onto a winner with this seeming as it contains chocolate and Chloe being a little chocoholic. Never mind, I will try it out on another willing volunteer. This time my three and a half year old.

            I make up the remainder of the sachet for him and he eats the lot fairly quickly. When I ask him about it he says it’s yummy and can he have some more tomorrow. So that’s a bit better, I’ve had the thumbs down from Chloe and the thumbs up from Gareth. So it seems that I need another opinion.


            TESTING THE PRODUCT ON AN ADULT

            I make a sachet up for myself and have a taste.

            I find that it actually tastes quite pleasant. When I smell the porridge, I found that I couldn’t actually smell the chocolate a lot, but I could definitely taste it. The chocolate taste mixed in with the porridge works very well. It is pleasant, yet to me quite unusual because I’m not one for chocolate flavour cereal normally.

            The chocolate taste was definitely there, but it wasn’t too overpowering. I think if the chocolate taste had been any stronger then it would have been slightly sickly, so they got the mix just right.

            The porridge and chocolate seemed to mix together very well. Some of the chocolate melted in with the porridge, turning it a slightly brown colour. Some of the chocolate chips remained whole, so sometimes when you have a mouthful of porridge, you have an added surprise of a bit of chocolate.

            I found the consistency of this porridge to be very smooth and it wasn’t dry and crunchy like some other porridges. I have to say that it actually tastes nicer than the expensive, branded porridges.

            I did find that this porridge tasted slightly sweet, but not too much. This was probably down to the chocolate bits. Normally I add quite a bit of sugar to my porridge, but with this one I found there was no need, as it was sweet enough for me.


            OTHER INFORMATION

            The ingredients etc are listed on the back of the packet, so I won’t put them here. What I will say is that this product contains gluten, milk, oats and soya. It may also contain traces of nuts or seeds. Just a note for those with allergies.

            Again nutrition information is listed on the back of the packet. Each sachet that is made with 180ml of semi skimmed milk will contain 201 calories and 5.1g of fat.

            For further information on this product, you can visit their website, which is; www.asda.com


            MY OPINION

            I have to say that I was slightly disappointed that Chloe didn’t like it very much, considering that she was the main reason I purchased this product. It would however be unfair to rate this product on the fact that she spat some of it out, as she does this with a lot of food.

            Gareth was more than happy eating it and has had quite a few sachets since. He enjoyed it and found it really good that I was giving him cereal with chocolate in for breakfast!!

            As for me, well I liked this product too. I found it tasted a lot nicer than other porridges I have had. It tasted nice and smooth, and it blended well together. There were no annoying bits in it that make some porridges feel ‘crunchy’ in your mouth. The fact that there were chocolate chips added to it was for me a bonus.

            The fact that it was slightly sweeter than other porridges wasn’t really an issue for me as I just didn’t bother adding my normal spoonful of sugar.

            I also found the price to be quite reasonable compared to the price of other porridges that are currently available. I also found the idea that it was healthier for children, due to the controlled levels of salt and sugar etc appealed to me, because I knew I was buying something beneficial for my children.



            WOULD I RECOMMEND

            Yes. This is a tasty cereal that children and adults like which has the added bonus of being good for them.


            Thanks for taking the time to read my review, Cath. xx

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            • Asda Fruit & Fibre / Other Food / 48 Readings / 43 Ratings
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              07.02.2007 16:49
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              A nice tasting cereal

              BACKGROUND

              Anyone who reads my review will know that I’m trying to lose weight and eat healthily. I recently discovered a new cereal in Asda. As I hadn’t tried it before, I only purchased one box. Seeming as my little boy had also taken a shine to these the box quickly ran out.

              We went to our local Asda’s this week for our usual weekly shop and imagine my horror when I discovered they had run out of my cereal. I had to find something else, and this is what I found.


              PRODUCT

              Fruit & Fibre is made by Asda. The size of the box I purchased was 750g and it cost me £1.32. It is also available in a 500g size for 95 pence.

              This product is high in fibre, had added vitamins and iron. It is also made out of wholegrain, so it’s healthier for your heart.


              PACKAGING

              The box is made up of three bright colours – yellow, blue and purple. There are also pictures on the front of the different pieces which are in this cereal.

              Inside the box I find that the cereal is kept in a white plastic bag that is common with most cereals now.


              SMELL

              The first thing that hits me when I open the plastic bag is the smell of coconut. There is another smell in the background that I can’t quite distinguish – although it could possibly be the wholegrain flakes. The smell to me is very pleasant because I love coconut.


              TESTING THE PRODUCT

              I pour myself a small bowlful. Into the bowl fall quite a few flakes and a fair amount of the fruit and nuts that are in the box – namely raisins, bananas, toasted coconut, apple, hazelnuts and almonds.

              The first spoonful I have contains a small piece of apple. It’s not that I know because I could see it as it was hidden under some of the flakes, but because I could taste it. It also has the underlying taste of the coconut.

              It is the same with every spoonful I have – an underlying taste of coconut and then a variety of other fruity tastes.

              My only criticism would be about the banana slices. They seem to be slightly hard and don’t soften a great deal even after the milk has been poured over. It didn’t really bother me and it didn’t lessen my enjoyment of this cereal in any way. I just treated it as another sensation when eating these. I had the crunchy feel of the banana, the chewy feels of raisins, plus everything else that was mixed in.

              The only other thing that some people may not like is the fact that after being in a bowl of milk for a while the flakes start to soften and go soggy.


              OTHER INFORMATION

              This product is suitable for vegetarians. Also a note for allergy sufferers is that this product contains gluten, nuts, wheat and barley. It may also contain traces of other nuts and seeds.

              Typically a 30g serving with 125ml of semi skimmed milk contains 169 calories and 6.5g of protein. It also contains 76% of the recommended daily amount (RDA) of Vitamin B12 and 26% of the RDA of Iron.

              To find out more about this product, you can telephone Asda on 0845 300 1111, or via the website, which is www.asda.com


              MY OPINION

              I did like this cereal. I liked the fact that there was a variety of fruit and nuts included to give you a different taste experience with every mouthful. I find that when a cereal contains just flakes and say raisins for example, and you have to munch through a bowl of that then it can get quite boring. I found that with this cereal it didn’t – nearly every spoonful was different from the last.

              The fruit actually tasted like what it was supposed to. This may sound slightly stupid, but I find sometimes when fruit is added to cereal they can taste slightly false. This is not so with this cereal – everything tastes like what it should and you can guess what you are eating without seeing it because it tastes like a piece of apple etc.

              There is a lovely underlying taste of coconut throughout this cereal and it lurks in the background of every spoonful, which is great if you like coconut.

              The fact that it is good for me is also a great advantage. I like to know what I’m eating is doing some good for my body.

              Again the price is an advantage. When something only costs this much that you can’t really go wrong.

              My only disadvantages to this product would be that the banana slices were quite hard and didn’t seem to soften in milk. While this didn’t bother me, some people may be slightly put off by it.

              Another disadvantage would be that the whole wheat flakes do go soft and soggy after they have been standing in the milk for a while. Again it wasn’t that great an issue for me, and it wouldn’t stop me from buying them.


              WOULD I RECOMMEND

              Yes I would recommend and I will buy them again, but they wouldn’t overtake my number one cereal in the battle to be my favourite.


              Thanks for taking the time to read my review, Cath. xx

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              • More +
                07.02.2007 11:35
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                A nice story

                BACKGROUND

                My little boy started nursery school in the middle of last year. Over the last few months the teachers have been sending a book home a week for us to read to him, and a little book to fill in with comments about the book. I though this would be an ideal opportunity to have a go at reviewing a children’s book.


                PRODUCT

                Gumboot’s Chocolatey Day is written and illustrated by Mick Inkpen and was originally published in 1989. The particular copy that my son brought home from school was published in 2001 for The Book People Ltd.

                ISBN number for this book is 0 333 51440 8 (hardback) and 0 333 56074 4 (paperback).

                The copy that I have is paperback and was originally priced at £4.99, although I am sure you could pick up a used copy much cheaper.


                THE STORY

                Gumboot is a little pig who likes chocolate. One day his aunt comes to visit him and gives him a big bar of chocolate that has fifteen squares.

                Seeming as Gumboot really likes chocolate, he eats it down to just three squares.

                Something else that Gumboot likes doing is riding his bike, so he decides to go to the park. Whilst in the park he sees some ducks on the lake. He wonders whether or not they would like chocolate, so he throws them a piece, but the ducks don’t like it.

                A little girl who is also feeding ducks explains to Gumboot that Ducks don’t like chocolate, only bread, so he swaps a piece of chocolate for some bread. Now he only has one piece of chocolate left.

                Gumboot realises that the ducks do like the bread and happily continues feeding them. He throws in all of the bread and then realises that he’s thrown in his last piece of chocolate by mistake.

                Can poor Gumboot ever get his last piece of chocolate back or is it lost forever.


                OTHER INFORMATION

                I’ve searched the internet to see if there are any additional books about Gumboot, but unfortunately this seems to be the only one.

                I have however discovered that Mick Inkpen also writes better known books such as Wibbly Pig and Kipper the Dog.


                MY OPINION

                I liked this story. It has a nice gentle plot, which is easy for young children to understand.

                I think it also brings the basics of counting into this book, so that children are learning without even realising. For example we see in the pictures that Gumboot is holding three squares of chocolate. When he breaks one off to feed the ducks, we can see he only has two left.

                I think it also brings the idea that it’s ok if small people can’t count a lot and not to feel too worried about it because they will learn as they get bigger. An example of this is Gumboot’s aunt gives him the chocolate and we are told it has fifteen squares, but Gumboot doesn’t know this because he can only count to ten.

                The book I think also encourages a simple learning of animals. Through talking to the little girl in the park Gumboot learns that ducks do not like chocolate, only bread.

                This book is also nice because it encourages kind acts – such as sharing. Gumboot has two squares of chocolate, whilst the girl has a chunk of bread. By sharing his chocolate with the little girl, he has gained half of her bread, so he can have fun and feed the ducks.

                I also think that in a small way this book brings home that one good turn deserves another. Gumboot gives the ducks something that they really like, so they bring him something that he really likes.

                The pictures are nice and bright and not ‘too busy’. They are simple enough for young children to understand.

                I also used the pictures as an aid to counting when we were reading the story – letting Gareth count the two pieces of chocolate that Gumboot has, the three ducks on the lake etc.

                Gareth is almost four now and he enjoyed the book and understood most parts of the story. I think maybe children under the age of three would have difficulty understanding the story. Probably children over six would get a little bit bored.


                WOULD I RECOMMEND

                Yes. It’s a nice, easy to understand story that a child aged between three and six should enjoy. If your child is a fan of Wibbly Pig then they will also like this.


                Thanks for taking the time to read my review, Cath. xx

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                • More +
                  06.02.2007 17:35
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                  A great face mask

                  BACKGROUND

                  I like to pamper myself every now and then with a face mask, but because my skin is quite sensitive, I have to be careful about which one I choose.


                  PRODUCT

                  The face mask that I have purchased is from Avon’s Naturals range and is a Tea Tree peel off mask. The tube contains 75ml and retails for about £3.50. Avon occasionally does special offers with their Naturals range, where you can buy any three items for £5. When these offers happen I stock up on lots of tubes, so I haven’t had to buy any of these for a while, but my stocks are becoming very low.


                  PACKAGING

                  The tube itself is clear and has the name of the product on the front and a picture of a tree. The back of the tube has instructions for use and ingredients. I like the idea that this tube is clear, as I can see when it starts to run low, so I can dig out another one.


                  TESTING THE PRODUCT

                  Opening the tube is simple enough, with an easy screw lid. Beneath the lid is a small hole, which is good because you can control the amount of face mask that comes out.

                  The smell is not too strong. It does have quite an unusual fragrance and I really cannot describe it. The smell is obviously of Tea Tree, and I cannot smell anything else.

                  I squeeze a small amount out of the tube. The gel that comes out feels quite thick and is very sticky. The instructions tell me to put on my face, avoiding the eye area, leave for twenty minutes and then peel off.

                  Even though the colour of this when in the tube is almost grass green, once it is out, it is a lot lighter. When you put it on your face it is clear.

                  Application is easy enough. It doesn’t run everywhere when I apply it to my face because it is so thick. Once I have covered my face with it, my skin just looks shiny.

                  I can feel this working straight away. I can feel it tingling on my face and as the minutes pass, I can feel the mask tighten slightly.

                  Approximately twenty minutes later I touch my face to see if the mask has dried, and it has. The removal of it is simple – I just loosen a piece of the mask on the side of my face and lift it off. The mask virtually comes off in one piece.

                  After removing the mask I am surprised how soft my face feels. It also feels cleansed and nice and refreshed. When I take a closer look in the mirror, I also find that the couple of blackheads I had on my noise are not quite as visible.


                  OTHER INFORMATION

                  For more information on the product you can have a look at Avon’s website, which is www.avonshop.co.uk
                  The back of the tube says that this product is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin.
                  I could not find anything of note regarding allergy advice on the back of the tube.


                  MY OPINION

                  I really like this face mask. I found it very easy to apply and whilst it did have a slightly unusual smell to me, it was not too strong or off putting.

                  I liked that this was quite thick when you put it on and that it didn’t run anywhere. I thought that my face would have turned green once I put it on, turning me into a female version of the incredible hulk, but the only evidence that I actually had this on was the fact that my face looked shiny.

                  I was really surprised when I could feel it working shortly after application. I could feel my face become slightly warm and tingling. It didn’t feel irritated at all. In fact it felt quite pleasant. I could also feel the mask tightening on my face as time progressed.

                  Twenty minutes was a reasonable enough time to keep a mask on. I must admit I did touch my face a few times during the twenty minutes to see how it was drying and it felt tacky. However once the twenty minutes had passed it felt dry to the touch.

                  I did find that whilst the mask was on my face, that it was slightly difficult to talk, because the mask was tightening my face. This wasn’t an uncomfortable feeling or unpleasant in any way. In fact my husband thought it was quite good that he could have a bit of quiet for twenty minutes!!

                  Removal of the mask was very simple indeed. You just loosened a section and the whole thing peeled off in practically one piece. This was so easy compared to other masks, where you have to wash them off in warm water and double check your face to make sure that it has all removed, and not stuck in your hairline.

                  I worry sometimes about using face masks because I have sensitive skin and find that this can sometimes be aggravated. After removing the mask my skin felt really cleansed and refreshed. It felt soft to the touch and blackheads were noticeably less visible.

                  I used this facemask yesterday evening but wanted to wait until today to see what my face was like. I examined my face today to see if my skin had been aggravated by using this, and I am pleased to say that it hasn’t.

                  The only downside I could think of with this facemask could be the price. At £3.50 a tube, it could be considered slightly expensive, but Avon do have it in their three items for £5 offer quite often, so I tend to stock up on it then.


                  WOULD I RECOMMEND

                  Yes. It’s a really good face mask that leaves your face feeling cleansed and refreshed.


                  Thanks for taking the time to read my review, Cath. xxx

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                  • More +
                    05.02.2007 16:45
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                    All that is needed for a relaxing sleep

                    BACKGROUND

                    I am one of those people who can’t switch off. When I get home from work I find that my mind is still thinking of things that need to be done. It’s not uncommon for me to telephone my works number late at night, and leave a message for myself on the answering machine to pick up the next morning – sad but true!

                    I occasionally need something to help me sleep, that doesn’t involve taking pills and potions. This is what I found.


                    PRODUCT

                    The product I decided to try was from Avon. It is in their aromatherapy range and is called sleep therapy linen and room spray. It comes in a 125ml bottle and cost when I last purchased £3.50. Looking on Avon’s website today, it has gone up to £4


                    PACKAGING

                    I like the packaging on this. It comes in a silver bottle with a small plastic lid that just fits over the pump spray, similar to the type you find on bottles of gel spray. Instructions for use are printed on the back.


                    TESTING THE PRODUCT

                    The back of the bottle tells me to “spray 2 to 3 times towards the centre of the room, away from your face and body”. I duly follow the instructions.

                    When pressing the button the spray comes out in a powerful ‘jet’ towards the middle of the room. I sometimes find with air fresheners or perfume, when you press the button the spray ‘dribbles’ rather than anything else and you end up with it all over your hand. With this that wasn’t the case. Not one bit did I get on my hands.

                    Even though I have sprayed into the middle of the room away from myself, I can immediately smell the fragrance of this and it is quite strong, although not overpowering.

                    The fragrance is lovely – lavender is the primary smell, but I think there may be something else mixed in with it, although I’m not sure what, and there is no information on the back of the bottle.

                    After about five or ten minutes the fragrance starts to wear off slightly, but you can definitely still smell it.

                    I close my eyes and as I breathe in this wonderful fragrance, I can feel myself relaxing.


                    OTHER INFORMATION

                    As I mentioned I purchased this from an Avon catalogue. They also sell online. Their website is www.avonshop.co.uk

                    I have thoroughly read the back of the bottle and I cannot see anything of note for allergy sufferers. Please check beforehand though, as I am positive that this bottle used to be in a box, which I threw out, so there may be something printed on there.


                    MY OPINION

                    I was really surprised that this actually worked. You tend to find that there are lots of things currently available on the market to help you do this and help you do that, and not all of them work.

                    I found this really easy to use. The pump spray did not require a huge amount of pressure to be used to make it work. The spray was quite forceful and sprayed out directly in front of the bottle, rather than dribbling down the side.

                    When sprayed I also discovered that it was a very fine mist that came out. I find that some air fresheners when sprayed can make any clothes of furnishing they land on slightly wet. This one didn’t. I have in the past squirted a bit of this spray on my pillow before getting into bed, and when I have gotten in, have found that my pillow is dry and not wet from the spray.

                    I was surprised that you did only need to use the required number of sprays to get a strong fragrance. With lots of air fresheners that say to use a few sprays, I tend to find that I need to add an extra one or two to smell the fragrance. With this one I found that I didn’t. The maximum three sprays were adequate to provide a good strong fragrance.

                    Even a good twenty minutes after spraying this into the room I can still smell it, although it has faded quite a bit, but I can still just about detect it.

                    The fragrance of this was lovely. The smell of lavender was strong, but not too overpowering. I am sure I can detect something else mixed in as well, but I am unsure.

                    I found that by spraying this in my bedroom as I was about to get into bed, helped me to drift off to sleep naturally. I could just spray, get into bed and breathe this in and then drift off to sleep. It has saved me from many hours of clockwatching when I was having problems sleeping.

                    This spray is really great, but there is one downside, and that is the price. It is slightly expensive at £4 a bottle. When I first started buying it, it was £3.50. Avon used to have offers where you could buy three bottles for £5. Needless to say, when this happened I would stock up and buy three or six bottles.

                    Because of my mass purchasing, I haven’t bought any for a while, so was shocked to find it had gone up to £4, which is expensive.

                    When you look at it though, if you bought some herbal tablets to help you sleep, I would imagine you would look at paying about £4-£5 a bottle. When I look at it in this perspective then it doesn’t sound so bad.


                    WOULD I RECOMMEND

                    Most definitely yes. It is a natural remedy that actually works in helping you get to sleep. Will buy again when all my stocks have run out!!



                    Thanks for taking the time to read my review, Cath. xxx

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                    • More +
                      04.02.2007 23:41
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                      Can be enjoyable but parents need to be careful

                      When I was a child there were no such things as Gameboy Advance (GBA) and PlayStation Portable (PSP). The closet you could get to a ‘handheld’ console, was electronic games such as ‘Munch man’, and ‘Kevin Keegan’s Football Challenge’, which is only two of the titles that come to mind at the moment.

                      These ‘handheld’ games and I use the term ‘handheld’ loosely were state of the art. Basically these games were probably about the size of anything from a sandwich plate, to a laptop. You sat with these games on your knees and used both hands to control the game. I had many happy hours playing these games throughout my childhood.

                      I was also the proud owner of a 128k Spectrum and again had many fun filled hours playing the likes of ‘Manic Miner’, ‘Jet Set Willy’ and ‘Outrun’ to name only a few.

                      Even though I was fortunate enough to have these ‘handheld’ games and a computer, I didn’t spend every waking moment on them. I admit I would have maybe an hour or so in the evening, but it would never interfere with my schoolwork. I would also go shopping most days after school to help my mum. In the summertime I would go to the park and meet up with friends or go to the cinema. It would be only after this, that I would play my computer games.

                      My dad also had a computer (an Amstrad) and he had a few games for that. We would spend some evenings taking turns to play games on it.

                      Fast forward twenty years and we see that there are many games consoles out there, such as PS2, Gamecube etc. Handheld games such as GBA and PSP are also quite common. It also seems that the majority of homes have a PC. Video games are now a lot more popular and more available than they used to be.

                      It seems to be that now some children get home from school and sit in front of their PlayStation for a few hours, only stopping for food. Homework is then done late at night when children are tired, or rushed first thing in the morning before going to school.

                      Children going out to the park to meet with friends seems to be not as popular as it was when I was a child. When my husband was a child he would be out on his bike with friends. We are both in our early thirties and it seems that people of our generation used to spend a lot of time out playing. These days, children would rather sit in front of a computer than spend time socialising.

                      I will admit that in our house we have a PC, a GBA and a PS2. I admit that I do like playing on the PlayStation, but not for hours on end and not if I have other things I should be doing.

                      Things are greatly different now to when I was younger. Whilst my dad never had an issue with playing games in front of me, because the worse you would be doing is shooting down space invaders, I cannot do the same with my children.

                      The types of games that I enjoy playing on the PlayStation are along the lines of Silent Hill and Resident Evil. For those who have never played these games, they can be considered as quite violent. One of the Silent Hill games has you walking around with a length of lead piping as a weapon. When you are attacked, you end up repeatedly bashing some monsters skull. Again with Resident Evil, you walk along a deserted corridor and a bunch of zombie dogs jump through the window at you, or you are walking through a village and shoot zombies and out of their heads come some horrible monster. These games don’t frighten me (much!), but I know where to draw the line regarding fact and fiction. I know that these games are exactly what they are – just games. I would never dream of playing these in front of my 4 year old son. I wouldn’t play these games in front of him in ten years time.

                      Whilst we as adults can easily draw the line between fact and fiction children cannot. Whilst some older children know that the survival horror games are just games, there are others on the market which are not so easy to write off as fiction. There are games available where the idea is for you to bully your classmates or steal a car. Some children see these games and think that it is ok to copy them.

                      There is a good side however to children using computer games. I know that as parents we all love to spend time with our children. There are occasions when we have to do things, such as cooking where it is better to have them sitting down playing a game for a while. I would much rather my son sit down and play a game for 20 minutes when I am cooking than him running through the kitchen and getting burnt.

                      Video games can also be educational. If you take a look at Windows Vista for example, you could say it was slightly kiddie orientated. They have a games section on there called ‘Purble Place’. This section contains three games for children. The three games basically revolve around colours, shapes and matching up like tiles. As we were lucky enough to be able to trail a copy of Vista beta, my son was able to have a look at these games. He would spend about 30 minutes playing them, because it was matching up like tiles etc, he was developing his memory skills and hand eye co-ordination. He would b allowed to play for a maximum of half an hour and considered this to be a treat he earned for being good through the day.

                      Whilst I don’t see anything major wrong with children playing computer games, I think we as parents need to be vigilant. We need to make sure that the games our children play are suitable for them. I think that we need to have a look at exactly what sort of game our child is playing. Just because the box says the game is suitable for three plus, does not necessarily mean that it is suitable for your child. We also need to bear in mind that some games do contain language which children will hear whilst playing the game and in turn use themselves.

                      I think we also need to ensure that schoolwork is done before playing games. It is much better for a child to spend an hour doing homework and then playing games than spending four hours playing games and doing homework at ten o’clock.

                      I believe that we should encourage our children to spend time outside playing, as it encourages social skills and exercise.

                      I think that games can be good for children in moderation as it can help them understand how to use a computer and give them a bit of an advantage when they go to school. Computers can also make learning fun.



                      Thanks for taking the time to read my review, Cath. xx

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                      • Epson Stylus D78 / Inkjet Printer / 36 Readings / 34 Ratings
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                        03.02.2007 00:50
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                        A good printer that is not expensive

                        BACKGROUND

                        My hubby recently informed me that our old printer had given up the ghost and gone to the big computer room in the sky.

                        Seeming as I know nothing about printers apart from the basics, I let him make all the decisions about buying one and then asked him to help me write a review about it. See husbands are good for something after all!!


                        PRODUCT

                        The printer we decided to purchase was an Epson Stylus D78 colour Inkjet printer. We bought it online at Ebuyer.com as it was on special offer at £36. Also at the time of purchase Ebuyer had a special offer on of free delivery.


                        PACKAGING

                        The printer comes in a green box with a picture of the printer on the front, along with general information about it. Inside the box the printer is held securely in place with white polystyrene on either end. The cover and any parts which could move are securely held in place by tape. Most importantly instructions are also included.


                        WEIGHT OF PRINTER

                        When lifting the printer out of the box, I am surprised by how light it is. I would say it only weighed about 3 kilos, which is quite lighter than other older inkjets.


                        SIZE OF PRINTER

                        It is around the standard size for an inkjet, at about 20 inches long by 8 inches high and 10 inches deep, so it will fit on the shelves of most computer desks.


                        WHAT IS INCLUDED IN YOUR PURCHASE

                        Included in the box with the printer was one feeder tray, one paper exit tray, a full set of cartridges (one each of black, cyan, magenta and yellow), power lead, installation CD and instruction manual.


                        HOW TO SET UP

                        This is fairly straightforward to do. Firstly you insert the paper tray into place (which just slots in), insert the power lead into the back of the printer, and switch it on. You then need to open the top cover to insert cartridges. Next you need to start up your PC and insert the CD supplied with the printer into your CD drive. The CD will automatically start. You then need to select easy install and then install. This will install the driver and several other Epson utilities. Once completed it asks you to connect the printer to the PC via the USB cable (which is not supplied with the printer). The PC then completes the printer installation and it automatically becomes the default printer.


                        QUALITY OF PRINT

                        This is of a very good quality with up to 5760 optimised dots per inch. This is ideal for photo quality printing, but is still very good on documents.


                        SPEED OF PRINTING

                        It is fairly quick printing at standard or draft, but it does take longer when printing photos. To give you an idea it can print about 22 pages of black and white per minute and 12 pages of colour a minute. One A4 sized colour photograph will take about a minute.


                        DURABILITY

                        This printer is quite well built compared to other printers on the market at the moment.


                        INSERTING CARTRIDGES

                        The cartridges are easy enough to put in. Once you remove the plastic tab off the new cartridge, you insert it into the colour coded slot.

                        This printer is different than some others because the colour cartridges are separate. For example if yellow runs out, you just buy a new yellow, instead of others where three colours are in one cartridge.


                        TYPE OF CARTRIDGE REQUIRED

                        The printer will accept any compatible cartridges, but is specifically designed for Durabrite Ultra cartridges. Durabrite ink is more durable and longer lasting, so is ideal for photographs.


                        COST TO REPLACE CARTRIDGES

                        A colour cartridge will cost approximately £6 each, so it would total £18, but it would be very rarely that you would need to replace the three at the same time. Even though you have to buy three colour, instead of one cartridge, the cost actually works out at about the same. The black cartridges come in slightly cheaper at approximately £5.50.


                        MY OPINION

                        I was a bit unsure about this printer to start with because I was so used to the old one we had. I knew what everything did on that one and now I was going to have to start again.

                        I found this printer very easy to use and was surprised by how easy the installation was. Admittedly I didn’t set this up but I watched hubby do it, and he explained it step by step to me and I could understand what he was talking about. There was no need to go searching on the internet for drivers like you have to with some printers as it was all included with the package.

                        The quality of print was excellent. I mostly do black and white printing – mostly word documents or pictures from sites like CBeebies for my son to colour in, and I was very impressed with the print. Even at draft level it looked quite good.

                        Hubby has used it to print off several pictures of the children and he is impressed with the quality of print. You would be hard pressed to tell the difference between a photo printed off yourself with this, and one you have had printed professionally. The pictures are pretty quick in drying too.

                        I was slightly unsure when I found out that this printer took individual colour cartridges, as I thought it would work out to be very expensive compared to buying combined cartridges. After doing research that showed individual and combined to cost approximately the same, then I felt much happier.

                        The speed that this prints at is very good. Admittedly it takes longer to print a colour photo than it does to print out a black and white document, but then this would be the same with any printer.

                        This printer does sound wonderful, but was one thing that did wind me up, and that was the noise. It is slightly noisy when printing, maybe even noisy than other printers currently on the market. It isn’t really annoying, but it is something to be aware of if you are planning on having this printer in a bedroom, or living room.

                        Another thing that did bug me was that the printer did not come supplied with a USB cable. I was under the impression that when you went out and bought a printer, everything you needed to make it work would be included in the price. My hubby informs me that you do not get supplied with a cable whatever printer you buy, and have to be purchased separately at an approximate cost of £2, so it isn’t too bad.



                        WOULD I RECOMMEND

                        Yes – it’s a great printer and excellent value for money.


                        Thanks for taking the time to read my review, Cath. xxx

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                        • More +
                          31.01.2007 17:50
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                          Who are we to judge

                          When I was a child, my parents always taught me to treat others with respect. I was taught to hold doors open for people, give up your seat for the elderly, pregnant women etc. I have always adhered to this and in turn have began to teach respect to my son, by encouraging him to learn good manners such as please, thank you, excuse me and to use them with people he meets.

                          I have always tried my best to not judge people by the way they look, act etc. It is very easy to notice in day to day life how people can be judgemental about others they do not know. People will cross the road not to walk past a gang of youths hanging around a street corner, for example. But why have we become like this. I think it’s due to the society we now live in and the media. We often hear on television about gangs of youths doing some sort of crime or having an ASBO – but we should remember that not all youths are the same.

                          Below are just a few examples of things I have experienced in society that makes me feel that we should not judge people by what they look like, how they dress, what generation they belong to etc.



                          I have always looked up to and respected any elderly person – I mean they fought in the war to allow us to live like we do today. I have always thought that the elderly could do no wrong, but recently I was proved wrong.

                          In the run up to Christmas I had gone shopping with my husband and two children. I had taken my son into a card shop so he could pick a Christmas card for his daddy. As you can imagine the shop was very crowded and the queue to pay went from the till, up the aisle and halfway down the next one.

                          After Gareth had chosen his card, I went to join the edge of the queue. There were two elderly women at the end, one of which had some cards in her hand and the other just looking through the racks. Not wishing to queue jump, I politely asked were they in the queue, to which the lady holding no cards replied ‘what queue’. I replied the queue to pay. To which she replied ‘do I look as if I’m in a queue to pay when I don’t have any cards in my hand’. At this I just went and stood in front of them at what was now the back of the queue. As the queue worked its way around, I noticed that these two ladies were just getting served and were on their way out of the shop – it looked as though they had just walked right to front and gotten served without bothering to queue.

                          I personally thought that the one lady’s reply to me was quite rude. If she had thought I was being thick for asking such a stupid question, she could have just replied no, rather than try to be so sarcastic.

                          I have been brought up to respect the elderly, but when this is the way that they treat you in return, it makes me wonder.



                          Another prime example is when I first started courting my husband. He had long hair, which he wore in a ponytail that hung about three quarters of the way down his back, topped off with a baseball cap.

                          He had been for a get together in a caravan shared with his parents and aunt and uncle. On the way home, he was stopped for speeding – admittedly he was doing 35 in a 30. The policeman in question took one look at the car he drove, the ponytail and baseball cap and promptly fined him and awarded three points to his licence. His uncle who had also been at the caravan went through the same section minutes later, and was also stopped for speeding at the same spot. The policeman took one look at my husband’s uncle with his short hair and suit and let him off.

                          Now I know my husband was wrong and shouldn’t have been speeding (and has never done so since), but if they were both speeding then they should have both been treated the same, not one fined because he looked like a boy racer and one let off because he looked respectable.



                          Again a friend of mine was giving a talk somewhere about healthy eating and was telling someone what they should or should not eat to lead a healthy lifestyle. To which the person replied to her ‘you are a fine one to talk, what with you being so fat, you should follow your own example’.

                          Now my friend had never said to the person that she was speaking to that they were fat – they had asked for some advice regarding healthy eating and she had just tried to help. The response she had from that person I think is nothing short of ignorant.

                          My friend suffers from Polycystic Ovaries and a side effect of this is being overweight. She goes swimming most mornings, eats healthily, goes to an exercise class and cycles every week. She cannot help the fact that she is overweight, it is all to do with her condition, and for someone to judge her without even knowing her was completely out of order.



                          A final example goes back to when I was in college. I used to catch a bus every day to and from college. There was also a guy whom I occasionally saw around college, but did not know, who would also sometimes be on the same bus as me. This guy had blonde hair with which was spiked, always wore ripped tee shirt and jeans, had numerous tattoos, and had his nose, lip, tongue, and ears pierced. You could see by the way some people looked at him, that they were wary.

                          We were both on the bus home one day – I had gotten on at the college and he had gotten on a few stops later. A lady had gotten on the bus at the local town with a few carrier bags, pram and young child.

                          When it came to my stop, I was getting off, along with the guy and this lady. As the lady was at the front and we were both sat at the back, it took a while to work our way to the front. Anyway this poor lady was struggling with the pram, bags and child, and not one person, not the bus driver, not all the people who were all sat there watching her, annoyed because she was taking so long to get off, made any attempt to help her. Only two people attempted to help – yes the guy who I knew went up and asked would she like help with her bags and proceeded to carry some off for her – even though he also had books from college. I then took the pram for her, even though I struggled because I was weighed down with my bag and lever arch files. People saw us trying to help and that we were struggling because we were so loaded up with our own things, and they just sat there.

                          People looked at this guy as if he was nothing, but when it came to helping a woman who needed it, he was the only one who could be bothered to help.



                          After taking the above into consideration, maybe you will agree with me that we should not judge people by how they look or act. We do not know the why they are like they are – there could be plenty of other reasons.

                          I would certainly not like people to judge me before they got to know me. I try my very best not to judge people until either I get to know them, or their actions have given me reason to judge them.

                          Who gives anyone the right to say that the man in the suit is any better than the guy with the long hair, or the overweight person is like that because they overeat. I think that people should know the facts about someone before they consider themselves in a position to judge somebody.



                          Thanks for taking the time to read my opinion, Cath. xx

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                          • More +
                            30.01.2007 17:44
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                            Cheap and tasty soup

                            BACKGROUND

                            Sometimes when I’m looking for a snack to have during the day, I go for a packet soup. Unfortunately I find that branded packets tend to be quite expensive. I decided that I wanted to find a cheaper alternative, so on one of my frequent shopping trips to Asda, I decided to have a look to see what they had on offer.


                            PRODUCT

                            The product I purchased was a packet soup from Asda’s ‘Smart Price’ range. The particular flavour I chose was chicken and vegetable, but also available were vegetable and minestrone. This four sachet box cost me 28 pence for 88g.


                            PACKAGING

                            The packaging is typical for the smart price range and is quite plain, with the normal red and white box. The four sachets inside are just plain white, with no instructions on each individual sachet.


                            TESTING THE PRODUCT

                            The instructions on the back of the box tell me to empty the contents of a sachet into a mug, add a third of a pint of boiling water, and stir well.

                            The first thing I notice when I open the sachet is the smell. There is a nice strong smell of vegetables, but I cannot detect the smell of chicken.

                            I empty the powder into my mug and notice a fair amount of peas and pieces of carrot falling in, as well as what I think could be some herbs.

                            I pour some hot water into my mug and stir well. Now that I have added some water to the powder I can detect the smell of chicken. Once I have stirred it I leave it for a moment to allow the powder to dissolve thoroughly.

                            Once I pick the mug up again to have another stir, I am surprised at how thick the soup now actually is. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as thick as a tin of soup is, but it is certainly thicker than what I imagined. I was expecting that because of them being so cheap that they would be thin and runny – basically like water tasted with vegetables.

                            I can see some peas and carrots floating around in my mug, along with some herbs. I get a spoon and lift up several spoonfuls looking for lumpy bits of powder that has not dissolved. I have found with other packet soups that you get lumps of powder which stick together and don’t taste very nice. I was very surprised that for some reason I could not find any lumps with this one, even though I made it the same way as I have always made packet soup.

                            I have a taste and immediately my mouth is filled with the delicious taste of vegetables. I can also detect the taste of chicken in the background. The chicken taste is not as strong as the vegetable admittedly, but nonetheless it is still there. I am also surprised that it tastes quite thick and creamy in my mouth – not what I was expecting at all.

                            Something else which I was shocked about was the pieces of vegetables in the soup. They were nice and soft. I was half expecting them to be hard and horrid, but they were not, they were lovely and soft – although not soft enough to be classed as mushy.

                            Another thing I notice is when I finish my mug of soup. With other packet soups I have found that no matter how much I mix I always end up with a bit of powder stuck to the bottom of the mug. With this soup however, the bottom of the mug is completely powder free.


                            OTHER INFORMATION

                            This product contains no preservatives.

                            A note for allergy sufferers is that the product contains gluten, milk and egg. It may also contain traces of nuts and seeds.

                            The box also states that when each sachet it made up it contains 84 calories, 2.0g of fat and approximately 1.5g salt.

                            To find out more about this product you can telephone Asda on 0845 300 1111, or alternatively via the website, which is www.asda.com


                            MY OPINION

                            I was surprised at how good these were. I thought that because they were cheap then maybe they would not be as nice as other branded packet soups – but I was wrong.

                            They were very easy to make up and for some unknown reason all the powder is absorbed into the water. Normally when I make a packet soup I am left with lumps floating as I drink the soup and then some stuck to the bottom of the mug. With this one I didn’t encounter any of this, which is a definite bonus for me – no longer will I have to scrape the lumps out of the bottom of my mug when I am washing up !!

                            I found there was a decent amount of vegetables included. The box says that the soup contains carrots and peas and I have to say they were there in good supply. They were also nice and soft to eat, but not mushy.

                            The soup was thicker and creamer than I was expecting it to be and also tasted a lot nicer. The vegetable taste was nice and strong, but not too overpowering and you could also taste the chicken, although the chicken was not as strong. There was also a nice, ever so slight taste of herbs mixed in.

                            A good thing of note is the calories, which are only 84 per made up sachet. The only downside could possibly be the amount of fat and salt each one contains. I am not entirely sure of the recommended daily amounts of fat and salt for men, but I believe that for women it is 70g of fat and 6g of salt. Whilst two grams off my limit of fat still leaves a fairly large amount, the salt in one of these at 1.5g is a quarter of my allowance, which I was very surprised at.


                            WOULD I RECOMMEND

                            Yes. These are cheap and tasty and ideal for a snack. I will have to give this product four out of five. If it had not been for the amount of salt then it would be five stars. I would recommend that if you are on a certain diet or watching your salt levels, then you check the amount in this first, compared with what you normally eat.


                            Thanks for taking the time to read my review, Cath. xx

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                            • More +
                              29.01.2007 18:15
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                              Livens up milk

                              BACKGROUND

                              My little girl is not a lover of milk, but as she is only 14 months old, she needs to drink about a pint a day. I needed to find something that could make milk taste nicer for her.


                              PRODUCT

                              Whilst on one of my frequent shopping trips to Asda, I discovered Crusha.

                              Crusha is a milkshake mix, made by the Silver Spoon Company. The flavour I purchased was strawberry. The 360ml bottle I bought cost me 85 pence and the bottle claims that it can make over five pints.


                              PACKAGING

                              The packaging is quite eye catching. The front of the bottle shows a fist crushing the word ‘Crusha’. There are also some strawberries and milk pictured. The label is bright red and combined with the red of the fluid in the bottle, makes it catch your attention.


                              TESTING THE PRODUCT.

                              As I am not a fan of milk myself, I thought it would be better to test this on me first, before I try it on poor, unsuspecting Chloe.

                              The first task is actually open the bottle, which wasn’t as easy as it sounds. I unscrew the blue plastic lid easily enough. Once removed there is a plastic ‘ring pull’ type still on the bottle, similar to those found on bottles of cooking oil etc. As the bottle is full almost to the top and the ring pull is quite difficult to pull, it takes a fair tug to get it off, and I end up with a small amount splashing over my hands.

                              Once opened the first thing I notice is the smell. The smell of strawberries is quite strong and also smells quite sweet. Nonetheless it still smells very nice.

                              The instructions on the bottle say to mix one part of this with seven parts milk.

                              I pour some into a glass of milk. The bottle is nice and easy to pour from, and I don’t have any drips running down the side of the bottle. The mix falls to the bottom of the glass and then most of the milk goes a deep pink colour, whilst the top of the milk is still white. I give it a mix with a spoon to ensure it is all mixed thoroughly.

                              Even though the mix has been diluted with the milk, the strong smell of strawberries is still present.

                              I am slightly cautious about taking a sip because I don’t particularly like milk. I am however pleasantly surprised by this. I am pleased that the milk no longer tastes like milk. The strawberry taste is quite strong and slightly sweet, although it is not too sweet.

                              As the flavour is quite strong, I would say that you wouldn’t have to keep to the recommended one part mix to seven parts milk. I think you could make it weaker and it would still taste great.

                              I have given this to my little boy also and he loves it – although due to the fact that it contains sugar and sweetener, I limit the amount he has.

                              Chloe however, whom I originally bought it for, promptly spat it out and refused to try anymore. I think this was because of it being milk though. Oh well, I’d better search for something else to get her to drink milk.


                              OTHER INFORMATION

                              As mentioned previously, this product is made by The Silver Spoon Company. The website address is www.crusha.co.uk

                              This product is suitable for vegetarians.

                              Per 20ml this product has 25 calories.


                              MY OPINION

                              As someone who doesn’t like milk a great deal and only uses a bit in coffee and over cereals – I have to say I loved it. It flavoured the milk enough for me to ‘forget’ to an extent that this is milk.

                              The flavour was strong and slightly sweet, although not too sweet. You could easily use less of the mix if you preferred and still have a great tasting drink. This drink was a great wake up call for my taste buds and I will certainly be drinking more of this.

                              Even the smell of this is great. A delicious smell of strawberries which is apparent as soon as you open the bottle.

                              Gareth who loves milk anyway, loved this as well and does ask for some every day, although I do limit him.

                              The only downsides to this product for me were firstly the fact that it contained both sugar and sweeteners. I couldn’t find anywhere on the bottle which told me how much it contained. However on the list of ingredients sugar was the second one listed and sweetener was the last but one. I am unsure as to whether product ingredient lists are listed on a greatest first method - I am unsure.

                              Because of both of these ingredients being in the product I limit how much my son drinks – no matter how much he like it, I limit him (and myself) to only one or two glasses a week.

                              The second thing that really wound me up was the ‘ring pull’ inside. I found it quite difficult to actually pull off, and because of the fact that the bottle was almost full you have to be really careful that it doesn’t spill everywhere when you (eventually) open it.

                              Apart from these two issues there was nothing else I could find fault with.


                              WOULD I RECOMMEND

                              Yes. I will be buying this again as it certainly livens milk up a bit.


                              Thanks for taking the time to read my review, Cath. xx

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                              • More +
                                24.01.2007 17:23
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                                Breast may be best, but not everyone can do it

                                Breastfeeding today seems much more acceptable than a few years ago. These days if you go out and you need to breastfeed in public, most people don’t bat an eyelid. Going back a few years’ people would have been looking at you.

                                There are quite a few advantages and some disadvantages to breastfeeding, and this is what I’m planning on discussing today.


                                ADVANTAGES OF BREASTFEEDING

                                The main advantage of breastfeeding has to be the bond that it creates between a mother and child. There is nothing better than having your newborn handed to you and giving them their first ever feed. Apparently when a baby is born he can only see for a distance of ten inches. By holding the baby for feeding allows them to gaze up into the face of their mother. Midwives now promote ‘skin to skin’ as soon as possible after the birth, where the mother holds her child against her skin to allow the bonding process to start – what better way to do this than by breastfeeding.

                                Cost has to be another advantage. Babies need formula milk until they are approximately two years of age. This can cost about £6 a tin, which will last one or maybe two weeks. If you add up how much this comes to in total, then you would agree that breastfeeding would be better.

                                Always being ready is another advantage. When breastfeeding you have the milk ready and at the right temperature to give to baby when he is hungry. If you use formula then you have to make up the feed and warm it up (remembering to check that it isn’t too warm). This is so much easier.

                                Breastfeeding also does away with the hassle of sterilising. When bottle feeding baby you have to wash your bottles in hot soapy water using a bottle brush, wait for the soap to drain off and then put them for several minutes in a microwave for sterilising, or a lot longer if cold water sterilising.

                                You no longer have to remember to boil the kettle!! When bottle feeding you have to use cool, boiled water, which has only been boiled once. You have to remember to put the kettle on well in advance so that it has cooled enough for baby to have for a feed. You also have to make sure that no one else comes along and boils the kettle after you for tea or coffee.

                                You no longer have to make feeds up. As you can make formula feeds up to 24 hours before you need them, you can make up a whole days worth in one go. This can mean having eight bottles of water and maybe five spoonfuls of formula in each one. Forty spoonfuls means very easy to lose count.

                                Convenience is another advantage. If you have gone out shopping for the day, out for a meal etc, you don’t have to ask for someone to warm a bottle up for you. I can remember going out somewhere when my daughter Chloe was only a few weeks old. It was coming up to feed time so I took a bottle of milk to the tea/coffee area and asked could they warm the bottle up for me. They replied no. I then asked could I please have some hot water to warm it up myself and again I was told no. I was unable to go home because I had my son with me and he was in the middle of some activities. I ended up trying to feed Chloe a cold bottle of milk, which she point blank refused to take.


                                Ok so I have mentioned lots of advantages about doing it, so it all sounds wonderful. But there are also some disadvantages.


                                DISADVANTAGES OF BREASTFEEDING

                                Some people find doing it embarrassing. The idea of putting a baby to the breast in a crowded restaurant some people just cannot deal with doing.

                                Some people don’t like seeing it. There is nothing worse than trying to feed your child and having someone ask you to stop. A friend of mine whilst on maternity leave about four years ago had gone for a walk and had baby with her. She stopped for a coffee and baby needed feeding. Whilst she was breastfeeding someone actually came up to her and asked would she mind not doing it because they found it offensive. Shocking but true.

                                Some people just don’t want to do it. They find that they would prefer to make up formula feeds than have to mess about breastfeeding. When another of my friends had her two children, she decided not to breastfeed either of them. She didn’t like the idea of doing it and didn’t want the hassle.

                                And lastly the most important reason I think is that some people just can’t do it.


                                MY STORY

                                I planned on breastfeeding both of my children. I had uncomplicated pregnancies and easy(!) drug free (only gas and air) labour and birth.

                                When I had Gareth almost four years ago the midwife gave him straight to me to feed. I tried to get him to latch on. He wasn’t interested – took a few licks and that was it.

                                I tried again up on the ward and again he wasn’t interested. The midwives on the ward came around giving advice – wrap him in a blanket so his arms are trapped and he can’t push away, don’t wrap his arms up he might feel uncomfortable, hold him under your arm instead of in front of you, lie down with him next to you.

                                I was in a ward with three other mums who were all breastfeeding without a problem. No wonder I started getting a bit paranoid about it. I was doing my best, trying all the positions I was being advised and still no luck.

                                It went on for a few hours. Me trying to get him to latch on, him not being interested. In the end, the midwives gave me a sterile pot and a syringe. They told me to hand express into the pot and then use the syringe to feed him.

                                When I was discharged home the same thing was happening – he just wasn’t interested. I was hand expressing into a bottle so he could have breast milk. The midwives said that giving him a bottle wouldn’t help because it would make him lazy – what else was I to do – he refused to latch on and I couldn’t let him starve.

                                I ended up with bruises where I had been hand expressing until I was able to buy an expresser. I was totally exhausted because all I was doing was expressing, feeding and sterilising. By the time I had done this it was time to start again.

                                I ended up so run down that I developed abscesses under my arm which were quite large and I had to go into hospital to have them lanced. Then spent the next two months having them packed, so they could heal.

                                After this I was in so much pain I couldn’t express and had to put Gareth onto formula.


                                When I had my daughter just over a year ago, I was again determined to breastfeed. This time it seemed to be working – she was latching on and gaining weight. When she was about three weeks old I noticed that when I was feeding her she was pooping the same time, but it was a frothy green. She was always hungry. She would be at the breast for an hour and then fall asleep. I’d put her down and she started to cry. I seemed to spend all day feeding her.

                                I wasn’t getting any sleep because of this and in turn took my tiredness and frustration out on my nearest and dearest.

                                Then Chloe started screaming through the night and bringing the knees up to her chest. Nothing would comfort her. I mentioned it all to my health visitor. She informed me that sometimes when a baby latches on and they are not on quite right, they only drink the foremilk, so their thirst is quenched, but not their hunger so they want to be feed all the time. It could also lead to frothy green poop and then colic.

                                It seemed that Chloe was always getting the sugary foremilk, but never the hind milk. She ultimately ended up with colic. I was devastated by this because I thought I had ultimately made her ill. At this point I decided it would be better to put her onto formula milk.


                                With both of my children I tried my best to breastfeed them both, but for some reason I just couldn’t do it. From about a month old they were both on formula.


                                In conclusion I wholeheartedly agree that breast is best and I think I have proved that by trying so hard to breastfeed both of mine. I also think that we should accept that if we see someone who is bottle feeding, we must not assume that they did not want to breastfeed – they could have been like me and unable to do it, no matter how hard they tried.

                                Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts, Cath. xx

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                                • Toybox / Magazine / Newspaper / 44 Readings / 43 Ratings
                                  More +
                                  23.01.2007 17:49
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                                  A fun magazine for young children

                                  BACKGROUND

                                  My little boy is a huge fan of Bob the Builder. He is also into a variety of other characters from CBeebies. I like to get him a magazine every now and then for a treat. Because he is into so many different characters, it would cost me a small fortune to buy a magazine for each of them. I needed something with a bit of everything in it.


                                  THE PRODUCT

                                  The magazine I found was Toybox. It cost me 99 pence and looks as though it comes out about every three weeks. It normally comes with a free gift – such as crayons, stickers and mini games. It is one of the BBC magazines.


                                  WHAT’S IT ABOUT

                                  This magazine basically contains all the characters that appear on ‘CBeebies’, such as Bob the Builder, The Tweenies, and Balamory etc. I would say that the age range on this magazine would be from the ages of three to six.

                                  There is a section at the front of the magazine, which is for grown ups. This tells you what your child will learn from the different parts of the magazine. For example, there are activities to help improve a child’s hand and finger control and to improve the imagination and build confidence etc.

                                  The magazine usually includes some sort of basic recipe that you can make with your child. It is simple enough so that they can help you out with it to an extent.

                                  There is also a story include in every issue which contains one of the characters/programme from CBeebies.

                                  The magazine also contains pictures for children to colour in, copy a drawing into a blank square, that sort of thing.

                                  The particular magazine I am reviewing today is dated 10 to 30 January. I have not gone into every page of the magazine because it would take to long. I have just included some of the activity pages to give an example of what kind of content the magazine has.

                                  The free gift that came with this edition is a golf game, consisting of a small golf club, ball, flag, and something for the ball to be putted into (please note that this particular free gift is unsuitable for under three’s due to the risk of choking on small parts).

                                  On the inside cover of the magazine is a colour match game with the Fimbles. This I thought was a nice section because it goes through the basics of mixing colours to make other colours, such as red and yellow make orange. What they have also done is written the name of the colour in dotted lines so that your child can go around the dots to make the word.

                                  On a double page is a Bob the Builder section, which gives you a step by step guide to make a simple golf course to use with the free golf game that came with the magazine. There are also some flags to cut out with some Bob the Builder characters on to use with the game. I liked this because it was made from everyday household items such as bottle tops and empty toilet rolls. A young child could help you in making this.

                                  There is a double page with a recipe for some gingerbread cookies. What I liked with this part is that as well as the normal list of ingredients and instructions on how to make, they have also included a template for you to cut out so you can make your gingerbread cookies in a specific shape.

                                  There is a single page on exercising with the Rubbadubbers. I liked this section because it shows that exercise is another way that children can have fun. It’s nice, simple things that young children can do, such as hopping on one foot, doing star jumps, so it isn’t too complicated for them.



                                  MY OPINION

                                  It’s a great magazine for children aged I would say between three and six. It’s a bargain at only 99 pence. There are so many different magazines around now that feature just a single CBeebies character/show, costing anywhere from £1.50 to £2.50.

                                  If your child is like mine and loves several of the CBeebies characters/shows, then you could end up spending quite a bit of money on magazines that are read and then cut up to enable them to do the activities inside. With this one being just 99 pence and containing all the shows, then there is no real need to buy another magazine and for the price it doesn’t matter so much about it being cut up.

                                  What I also like about this magazine is that it is only out once every three weeks, making the weekly cost of this just 33 pence. A lot of children’s magazines tend to come out on a weekly basis, and when they cost anywhere from £1.50 onwards then they can prove to be expensive.

                                  I liked that the magazine didn’t just contain stories. While children do like having a magazine read to them they can become slightly bored after a while. With this magazine having so many to do’s in it keeps the little ones interested.

                                  It was nice that they kept the activities different. It wasn’t all just colouring in. The magazine has also included cutting out, making up your own instrument and drawing a picture of it.

                                  I thought it was good that the magazine also included a page on exercise. With figures saying that more children are becoming obese then having a magazine giving children some fun exercises to do is a good idea.

                                  The magazine covers a variety of different skills for your child to master, from building confidence to using their imagination.

                                  I find that this magazine gives parents some ideas for things to do with their children and it also allows a bit of special time together where a parent and child can sit down together and spend quality time together, having some fun.



                                  WOULD I RECOMMEND

                                  Yes I would recommend. I have bought several editions of this magazine and me and my little one have had lots of good fun together playing the games and making different things. It’s a nice magazine which allows your child to have fun, whilst also learning.


                                  Thanks for taking the time to read my review, Cath. xx

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