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With 50 Shades of Grey seemingly taking the world by storm, retailers have got onto a good thing and are pushing various alternatives to the EL James trilogy for new readers of erotic fiction. Waterstones can currently be seen promoting a stand with the trilogy and then several other books all with similar styled front covers and of similar length. I enjoyed the 50 Shades trilogy, it wasn't exactly well written but it was an easy read. So when in ASDA a few weeks ago I purchased "The Bride Stripped Bare" by Nikki Gemmell. A book which uses the review from the Sunday Telegraph on its front cover, stating; "A book which dares to spell out what women really want". The front cover uses all the same features as the EL James trilogy. There is a black background blending into grey with a blurry necklace leading to a crisp heart shaped charm with a gem in the middle. The texture of the covers has a waxy feel to it and the title and author are printed in clear white lettering. The back page offers a synopsis, just two paragraphs long intended to draw the reader in. The back page read well and I put it in the basket for just £3.97, compared to the price on the back of £7.99. The book starts with a mother sending a manuscript to a publishing house, requesting they take a read. And then the lessons start. Gemmell writes this book as a series of lessons rather than chapters, with 138 in total. Each lesson is between 1 and 4 pages in length and each begin with a sentence. For example "Lesson 105 - Young wives are among the most important members of the community upon whose health and intelligence depend the welfare of the husband, children and servants". The book is also dividing up into three sections, but I failed to really notice the separation from one section to another. And so we are introduced to the author of the script, a young woman in her thirties and ex teacher because her husband wanted to support her, a woman enjoying a new found freedom. We meet the author on her honeymoon to Marrakech where she revels in the thought of not having to work and spending the rest of her life with her husband. Then we meet Cole, the husband who is cold and elusive. Who shows little emotion except for when greed and need take over. Sex is mundane, quick and unromantic. Then there is the affair. We see the author coming to terms with her husband's infidelity by spending her days in a London Café and then a library. She meets Gabriel a 30 year old virgin, who is aspiring to produce a film. Our author goes from a shy teacher with little confidence to a teacher of sex, with Gabriel being her pupil. The story develops along this theme until (as always) something changes. We are introduced to only a handful of characters throughout the book. Theo (best friend & subsequently former best friend), Martha (library buddy) and mum (palaeontologist) in addition to our author, Cole and Gabriel make up the majority of the storylines. Gemmell has written several novels in her time, this one was first published in 2003 but was republished in 2011. Initially this booked was printed as "The Bride Stripped Bare - Annonymous". Gemmell chose not to use her name on the cover. However, the most recent version drops the "anonymous" and has her name across the cover. The Bride Stripped Bare is written in the 2nd person for example; "You're wearing a black satin dress that has antique kimono panels through its bodice and you usually love this dress but tonight it's wrong, you're overdressed". From the very beginning I found this style of writing awkward and difficult to read. It is unlike any other fiction book I have ever read and it doesn't help with the fluidity of the story. The grammar is shocking, sentences are long and commas aren't used as often as they should be. Additionally, Gemmell repeats things for example "You're tired. You're tired". I wasn't sure whether this was deliberate of an accident in the script. For the first 153 pages of this book, I struggled to get involved with it. I found I wasn't interested in picking it up or spending my evening reading it. However, I have to finish a book once I have started it, so giving up was not an option. After the first 153 pages, things got better. The story picked up, developed. From here onwards I began to enjoy the book and I read the rest of it in just 3 hours. This has lead me to think that perhaps I either didn't appreciate the style of writing from the start or I just got used to it an overlooked it by the halfway point. I certainly overlooked the lessons written at the top of each lesson. Whilst relevant in that they have obviously been chosen to link into the story, they were also irrelevant in that you had to think about why they related. The end of the book has left me with the most questions. But you will have to read it to know why as I think if I explained the twist, then there really is little point to the novel. This book is really not on the same level as the 50 trilogy. The eroticism is mild in comparison and it lacks detail. There are several themes which run throughout, including betrayal and infidelity but also lack of self-esteem and self-abuse. Emotion runs throughout the novel is several guises and is quick and well placed. The author almost makes it acceptable to have an affair and seemingly justifies their actions to make it acceptable. This, I would guess, is similar to reality where a person knows that their actions are wrong but continue regardless. There is also a sex scene with 3 strangers, which I found hard to comprehend as it was as if the author was prostituting themselves, but this was never referred back to. Finally there are no consequences in this novel which is a complete failure to portray reality. I wouldn't read this again, but if you have nothing better to do it's not the worst book in the world. If you are expecting erotic fiction, I would suggest you find something else.
Sainsburys, like most supermarkets offer a basics range of food, toiletries, household items and beverages all at low costs in comparison to leading brands and all identifiable by the Basics orange and white packaging. I am quite happy to order the basics range when I do my shopping, though I tend to steer clear of it for my fresh meats, because offers usually work out at a better value in store. I.e. 3 items for £10. However, on this occasion I didn't need a massive shop and living alone I didn't need a large portion, so I bought the Basics British Beef Mince. These 400g packs cost just £1.25 in Sainsburys and are their cheapest packaged fresh mince in the store and currently the cheapest value option between the big supermarkets on price comparison sites. The come in the usual white and orange packaging meaning you can't miss them. The plastic film on the top is easy to pierce and easy to peel back. Once opened there isn't an overbearing smell of raw meat, but you can see that there is a far bit of fat amongst the thick strands of mince. Pour it into the pan and start cooking. I don't add any oil to dry this mince. Because the fat was so noticeable it was obvious that it was going to produce enough fat to cook in its own juices and this worked perfectly. The mince did produce a lot of fat. More so that a more premium brand and I wouldn't normally drain so much off it before adding a sauce. As it is, I tend to pour my excess fat into the original packaging and let is solidify before throwing it away in the bin. Saves the drains! The mince breaks up quite well with a wooden spoon but once cooking tends to lump together again and need further separating. Visually this doesn't look too tasty. However, once fully cooked and added with a sauce (bolognaise in my case) it wasn't too noticeable. One bonus is that I detected no gristle in the meat when eating which was great as a bite of gristle in my beef can put me off the rest of the meal. The texture of the mince is not as fine as a leaner product but is beefy and tasty. It absorbs the sauce well and mixes easily. Although I think I prefer to buy a less fatty and thinner strand version this was a perfectly acceptable substitute and I have no complaints. The nutritional info isn't something I tend to look at but each 100g of this product has 17.3g fat, 228calories and 0.3g salt. I cooked my mince for 10 minutes on its own repeatedly moving it in the pan as I didn't add oil, before adding onions for a further 5 minutes. Once completely brown with no pink bits I added my sauce and simmered for a further 15/20minutes until my pasta was ready. For one person I can make 3 meals from a 400g portion with added onion, mushroom, peppers and sauce. I freeze my additional portions and defrost at a later date. This doesn't have a negative impact on the mince. No complaints from me and I would fully recommend this product to anybody on a budget. This product can be frozen but must be used within 24 hours once open.
Herbal Inn Ming Imperial is a chain of Chinese medicine shops which began in 1989 and now exist up and down the United Kingdom. These herbal shops offer a medicine, consultation and service. When you walk in you almost walk into the counter, behind which are containers full of various herbs and Chinese remedies. Each shop offers the following treatments; Acupuncture, Deep Tissue Tuina Massage, Herbal Facial, Reflexology, Herbal Remedies and Allergy Tests. These treatments are carried out in store. Behind the counter you can see several curtained off areas where these treatments take place. Recently Groupon were running a 62% off on deep tissue massages or acupuncture sessions and for £19 rather than the usual £50 I paid for a massage hoping to redeem it on my day off. I had booked the 1 hour Tuina Deep Tissue Massage. A form of Chinese massage which uses brushing, kneeding, massaging, rolling and pressing of the body and its muscles. Last week I checked www.herbal-inn.com for the number of my local branch (Basingstoke) and called to book. The receptionist was Chinese but spoke fairly good English. She took my surname and Groupon code. I also thought they took my phone number. I was booked in for 2pm today. On arrival I was met by an empty shop all but a Chinese man sat on a wooden chair in the waiting area. He wore a white jacket and looked like he worked there so I explained I had a 2pm appointment for a massage. He said "colleague" which I took to mean I needed to speak to his colleague. 5 minutes later a Chinese girl walked into the store from the shopping mall and started talking to the gentleman. She then asked me whether I had any problems. I explained I suffer with back pain but nothing to stop me having a massage. She said that if this was the case I shouldn't have the 1 hour massage I should instead have a 30minute acupuncture session and 30minute massage. I refused, stating that I had book and paid for a 1 hour massage. The girl then told me that if this is what I wanted I would have to wait 30minutes, "perhaps go shopping and come back". By this point I was less than impressed and pointed out that her diary had me (and only me) booked in for 2pm. I was advised that they only had one "doctor" working today and he was busy. Refusing to go shopping I said I would wait, as I waited, I watched the "doctor" eating his lunch in his office. As it turned out, the wooden chair was so uncomfortable that I physically couldn't sit in it for 30minutes and instead took myself off to Waterstones. At 2.30pm I returned and this is where the service really excelled itself. The Chinese girl and another man were both sat on the chairs. I was then asked to take a seat for a few minutes. 5 Minutes later she showed me to a curtained cubicle and said to take my shoes off and lie on my back. Odd. Fully clothed, but not very warm I did as I was asked. 5 minutes later the "doctor" silently walked into the room and started rubbing my eyebrows, followed by an area under my temples. Then my hands, arms and shins. After 20 minutes he said "turn" and indicated with his hands I should turn onto my stomach. He then rubbed my neck, back and the tops of my legs down to the Achilles. The overall massage was weak; at no point did the "doctor" identify any of the sore pressure points that I can point out within seconds on my back/neck nor did he ask. When he was I felt a heavy thud on my back and he said "finish" before walking out of the cubicle. In total the doctor said 2 words to me in an hour. At no point did I have any idea what was going to happen next which meant I was twitchy and couldn't relax. The whole massage was fully clothed and I was wearing jeans and a cotton t-shirt so there was minimal effect and I couldn't really feel any benefit of the "massage". I was also cold which would have been evident in the goose-pimples which appeared on my arms after half an hour. Whilst on my back I was supported by two very comfortable pillows, but when on my stomach these had been removed and the "doctor" had ripped a hole into the paper to allow me to put my face in the table. This was fine, except that at no point did he check whether I was comfortable and throughout when he was putting pressure on me, my face was being jarred into this gap which left me with a headache and delightful lines across my face in the middle of town. Throughout this experience I had the pleasure of listening to relaxing sounds of Kestrel FM, the local radio station, between bouts of white noise and a fairly loud volume with the speaker above my head. Once the "doctor" has declared "finish" I was left on my own. And nobody came to get me or offer me water or in-fact do anything. I left the shop very unimpressed. I can honestly say that I have never had a treatment of this nature where what is being done hasn't been explained to me, nor have I ever not been asked if I am comfortable, been fully clothed or asked to sign a health declaration prior to treatment. I have always received advice to keep dehydrated and not do anything too strenuous after a treatment but again this was absent. The massage itself was poor and inconsistent. I had one side which received more attention that the other and the "doctor" worked from 1 side of the table only meaning than he had to lean over me or pull my arm across my body in order to work on it. I have no experience of the selling which I have read up about on other reviews and my exchange took place over Groupon. However, I can honestly say that I will never return to this company for a treatment and I would have been horrified if I had paid the full price of £50 for today's massage. The website is misleading as it shows pictures of those enjoying a back massage with soft white towels covering their lower back whilst having bare shoulders. Instead I just feel uncomfortable where my clothes have been rubbed into my skin and have not felt any impact of the massage at all.
I have used several of the Montagne Jeunesse range over the years, and it only ever seems to expand, offering more and more choice every time. Asda currently stock at least 10 varieties of their face masques, ranging between peel off masques, scrub masques and wash off masques. I purchased two of the Hot Chocolate version because I was tempted by the chocolate orange depicted on the packaging. All Montagne Jeunesse masques have picture of a woman wearing that specific masque, across the majority of the packaging (male masques have a man wearing a masque). The flavour is identified by pictures of the fruits or foody products that they smell of. In this case the woman has a chocolate version on with orange segments on her eyes. The reverse of the sachet has four illustrations showing how to use it. The products are French and as a result the majority of the writing is in French with an English translation, rather than the other way around. This variety is (according to the packaging) new. Each product is individually packaged in single sachets and to start with there doesn't appear to be an awful lot in the sachet. How to use I pour the masque into the palm of my hand and use two fingers to smooth it across my face, avoiding the eyes and lips. Once you have an even coverage you will find you have an amount left over, I washed this away as it was not needed. Unfortunately, the product was quite sticky on my hands and face but very liquid like when applying. This meant that I had to work harder for even coverage, but found that it dripped from my fingers when applying and I had to be extra careful not to get it on my clothes (I failed miserably). This variety is a self-heating masque which means that once it is on your face it warms as it does its thing. It is self-titled a 'pore cleansing sauna masque'. Leave on for 15 to 20 minutes before washing off and patting your face dry. The heating element of the masque opens the pores allowing for the clay masque to do its thing and remove the oil/dirt from them. How does it feel? Once applied, the product starting heating up very quickly, however this sensation didn't last that long. It didn't feel like the sort of sauna effect I was expecting but it wasn't unpleasant at all. I could feel it working on my pores and the blemishes that I had, started to tingle, again, this didn't last that long. From the minute the sachet was opened the chocolate orange fragrance was strong and it smelt gorgeous. The scent was carried for the whole time I had the masque on. It also carried around the house and was noticeable by an untimely visitor who happened to knock as I was all masked up. Some face treatments can be tingly on the skin and uncomfortable, this felt very gentle and not uncomfortable at all. How to wash it off I would thoroughly recommend showering to wash this off. I used the basin in the bathroom and made a complete mess of the place. The muddy looking water splashed and left brown splash marks around the sink which meant I then need to clean it. I also had to wipe the residue from around the hairline off with a face-wipe as water just wouldn't reach it. What had accidently transferred to my long hair around my face was a nightmare to remove as it was sticky causing knots. I would recommend showering to remove this masque as the running water will make it easier to wash away. Does it work? I bought two of these, one for me and one for my boyfriend who was very sporting. He applied my face masque and vice versa. I left mine on for the recommended time, before washing it off but he kept his on for nearly an hour before showering it off. For me, my face feels no different. I had dry patches on my cheeks which are still there after removing the masque and my face doesn't feel tighter nor does it feel particularly moisturised. My pores look the same and my face doesn't visibly look like I have done anything to it. The boyfriend has said that his face feels very refreshed and cleansed, making his lips feel noticeably dry in comparison. The difference between the two outcomes is quite extreme. He too had a small patch of dry skin before application; however after washing off the masque his dry skin is gone. Perhaps I should have left mine on for longer, or perhaps it is best suited to male skin. These retail at £1.09 in ASDA but are currently on offer at 95p which is a very good price. I wouldn't buy this variety again and would probably revert back to a peel off masque next time. (also on ciao)
The brand Woly was launched in 1931, with its key product being the Woly Shoe Cream. It was sold to German company Melvo GmbH in 1991 and has since been branded in a modern and fashionable way which sees it sold in over 40 countries. A few years ago I was looking for a pair of purple ankle boots. I was looking for proper purple but ended up with a purple/burgundy pair of Hush Puppies. Within two outings, the boots were scuffed from walking on carpet and the shop I bought them in were refusing to admit a manufacturing fault. I turned to a hunt for a good polish in a matching colour to make good the damage being done. I found Woly in a specialist shoe shop, which sells polishes and re-heels/re-soles shoes and boots. I have never seen this product in general shoe shops of clothing stores which have shoe boutiques within them. The Shoe Cream comes in 50ml glass pots. The product I have bought appeared to have been rebranded, but the version I have has a white plastic lid with the single Woly logo on the top. The entire product is free from unnecessary information and the glass pot has a clear sticker with just the brand logo, the colour code and name, three icons indicating the way it works and the barcode on it. Nice and simple! The screw top is easy to undo in an anticlockwise motion. Once the lid has been removed I had to remove a circular piece of cardboard which was originally stuck to the inside top of the lid. Mine hasn't stayed stuck which might get a bit messy if the product hasn't been stored upright as you need to lift it off with a nail or pen and put back in the lid, a bit like the lid of a paint pot. The best thing about this shoe cream is the generous amount you get. Unlike most cream pots, this one is filled to the brim with a thick creamy consistency. There is no chance of spillage and it is highly unlikely that it would leak from the pot. There is no watery film and no need to shake. The product doesn't part like a normal shoe polish would and the lid is secure when screwed on properly. The texture is thick, almost like the texture of a facemask. As a result the amount you need to polish a pair of boots is minimal. I have found the colour to be very bold. Mine is "rubin" it's a rich purple/red colour and matched my boots to perfection, but there are a lot of colours in the range. (I have been unable to locate an exact number but colour charts are available online and I have found up to 71 different colours available). To you the product you just apply a small amount on a cloth and apply to the shoe/boot. Leave for a few minutes, until dry, before brushing the product off with a shoe brush. Then polish with a fine cloth for brighter results. The same as you would for any other shoe polish. I have used approximately 20% of this post in 2 years. I don't wear my boots that regularly but I do need to polish them every time they are worn due to the leather wearing on each occasion they are worn. Despite my pot being 2 years old, the product hasn't changed in appearance, style, texture or effectiveness. It hasn't expired and is still very much useable. The cream itself is advertised as being solvent free, but it is only suitable for smooth leather shoes/boots. Woly produce care products for smooth leather, suede velour, lack patent, combi, waterproof, professional and kids shoes. The other products vary in format, for example, polish, wax, creams and liquids. I cannot recall how much I paid for this shoe cream, but looking online the product in all colours is available from £3.45. I would recommend the Woly brand to anybody looking for a good shoe polish. The colour range is so extensive that no matter what colour your shoes you are most likely to find a product to suit.
Very.co.uk is an online retailer which offers many, many, different concessions; Sorbet is one of those concessions, which sell comfortable lounge/sleepwear via the website. For Xmas I received a Sorbet velour lounge suit. Not being a fan of velour (and definitely not being one to wear it out of the house), I was surprised by how comfortable it was to wear. The suit compromises of a hooded zip top and elasticated waist bottoms, however I will review each item individually for the purposes of the review. The suit I have is in beige, both the top and the bottoms are a matching colour, but due to the nature of velour, if it's pushed in the wrong direction this can create different natural shades of the colour, so it is handy to smooth down the material in a single direction if deciding to wear out. *~*The Hooded Zip Top*~* The material is 80% cotton and 20% polyester; it is relatively thin on the top, with a thicker section of material supporting the zip which runs straight up the middle of the front section from bottom to top. Either side of the zip is a pocket. The pocket is sectioned off by the zip and is stitched on with obvious seams for design purposes. The stitching is in-line with that of the rest of the garment and blends in well. The thread used is matching beige; however the craftsmanship is shoddy with loose threads on the end of every end stitch where it has been tied off. As a result, the top of the pockets appear to have started to unstitch themselves on one side, and on the other the loose thread sit on the inside of the zip track which can get caught on the zip. Bizarrely, the stitching on the rest of the top is done well, it is tied off well and there are no loose threads. It is almost as if the pockets were any after-thought. The soft material is offset with an elasticated band around the bottom of the top and the cuffs of the sleeves. The thicker and slightly ribbed elasticated band allows the top to be pulled down with comfort and stops it riding up. The hood is quite large and would fit most head sizes. That said I cannot recall ever using it. It has a tie which runs across the base of it with a pull tie on either side allowing the wearer to adjust the hood to personal preference. This is not made of velour, just cotton. Overall I would say that the top is designed to sit close to the body. It would fit awkwardly should you wear a bulky jumper beneath it. It also is not long enough to cover a longer fitting top worn beneath it, so would be most suitable to be being worn over a t-shirt or fitted top which can be tucked in. *~*The Bottoms*~* The bottoms start with an elasticated waistband identical to that on the bottom and cuffs of the top. Other than the hem of the trousers there is no additional stitching and no pockets. The seams down either leg are flawless and unlikely to break or create holes. The hem on the base of each leg sits approximately ¾ of an inch above the base of the material. This is handy if worn with no shoes or low shoes as it means the hem won't break or get caught when walking around. The trousers are straight leg and between 8 and 9 inches wide at the ankle. The width makes the trousers comfortable and not at all tight. However, the thin material might not be the warmest if worn outside. Also if you have a curvier derriere than you may find a visible panty-line on display as there is no additional material to pad it out. The length of these bottoms is 29inches. Having tested the size options on the Very.co.uk website, it does not appear that the length changes regardless of the size and there is no option for a longer/short length. *~*Overall*~* This lounge suit is most definitely best worn for lounging around. I haven't worn mine a lot but when I was doing my ironing this week I noticed some slight damage across the left breast of the jacket and also on one of the legs. It looked like the material was pushed in the wrong direction, but I couldn't make it look right. The suit is machine washable and wrinkle free which means the velour does not require ironing unless you want to smooth it all in the right direction. I have looked at various reviews of this product and many of them say "true to size". I'm not sure I would agree. Mine is size 10 but I am an 8 and I don't think a true size 10 would find this suit as comfortable as I do. It fits me really well, both in length and across the chest when zipped up. The only other disadvantage is that as a set you have to buy the same size on top and bottom, so if you have a big bum and small boobs or vice versa you may not be that comfortable. I would only recommend this as indoor wear. The suit is currently available is Dark Grey Marl or Royal Blue. Mine must have been from the last season catalogue. The RRP is £30.00 but it is currently on offer at £24.00.
My beauty regime is pretty simple, I take my make up off with baby wipes or face wipes and moisturise after washing. Having run out of my pampers wipes (which were very good) I spontaneously purchased Huggies Soft Skin Baby Wipes with Shea Butter as they were in the reduced bin in my local Co-operative. Retailing at £2.89, they were reduced to £1.45. The peach packaging contains 64 wipes and shows a surprised baby beneath a caramel coloured towel. The "o" in "soft" is depicted as a tear shaped droplet, indicating the Shea Butter as this is repeated next to the claim that Shea Butter is nature's moisturiser. "Huggies" is printed in their usual white and blue bubble writing with a blue baby handprint instead of a dot above the "I". This is repeated on each side. Across the top of the plastic packaging is a transparent peel back tab which when pulled back opens the packet. This tends to lose its stickiness once the packet starts to reduce in size. When full the packet is padded out meaning it has to stick, but when stock is getting lower the tab peels or loses its stickiness causing the wipes to dry out. This probably isn't an issue if you have a baby as you would get through them quite quickly, but a packet of these would last me a month. The important information on the packaging is written in at least 6 languages so tourists from abroad would easily be able to identify the product they were buying. The wipes themselves are like no wipe I have ever come across before. Most wipes are made of a material but these feel like a thicker version of toilet roll. The wipes feel like wet tissue and if you hold them up to the light you can see the different layers which keep it together. Visually the wipes are impressive. They are fresh white colour with a teddy bear pattern imprinted on them. The bears vary in bear positions, from sitting and standing. They are A5 in size which is ok as a face wipe or for a small baby or grubby hands. Not sure they would be big enough for toddler sized bottoms prior to potty training, but I don't have children so I wouldn't know. Fragrance wise they have a clean smell to them which can be detected when held up close to the nose, but it doesn't really jump out of the packet when you open it. Nor does it linger. I have read reviews which describe the smell of the Shea Butter, but I wouldn't say it's that apparent and its definitely not overwhelming. These wipes are not durable. Yes they pass the tug test, in that I can stretch them and they do not tear easily, probably down to the bonding of the tissue. However, I have used these on my face to wipe away mascara and folded up they have broken leaving holes in the tissue and bits on my face. I can't cope with this in the evenings and morning when I need an easy to use wipe which stays together. I have gathered that the wipe fails most when folded against itself or rubbed at. It appears that the friction caused from rubbing with the wipe causes the fibres to pull apart and break down like a wet tissue. I personally dislike the texture of wet tissue. As I have only used these on my face which is a very small area, I cannot imagine that they are that durable actually used as a baby wipe. Especially if you are not using a wipe per wipe, (if that makes sense); Repeated wiping with these just doesn't work. The last complainant about these baby wipes is that when you pull one out of the packet they are folded in such a way that it automatically releases the next one, which if not required has to be pushed back down into the packaging. This would be fine if transferred into a box designed to pull one after another, but in this case pushing the 2nd wipe back into the packet causes the tab not to sit straight as the contents are not flush. The individual wipes are very moist and they are soft, the Shea Butter is obviously doing its job. They retain their moisture for a couple of hours after use and if I have left one on the side before work it still feels noticeable damp when I return 9 hours later. That said it would be of no use. None of the wipes contain alcohol which means they aren't harsh on the skin. I use baby wipes due to sensitive skin as I find they are the most compatible with my skin, however these really do not live up to their competitors and I will be reverting back to Pampers, probably before I have completed this pack.
Henry Goode* is a very English butler who has come up trumps with soft eating liquorice in strawberry flavour. I hate black liquorice but adore the strawberry equivalent. When I worked at a pub I used to go to the cash and carry and buy big boxes of those huge strawberry whips you could get for 10p a whip in the newsagents. They lived under my desk at uni and lasted forever, it seemed like an on-going supply.....until I left my job for work nearer my studies and the cash and carry was no longer an option. I haven't had decent red liquorice since and that was 6 years ago. In Asda last week I was looking for something sweet to pick at during the football and came across Henry Goode's soft eating strawberry flavour liquorice. The brown paper bag hardly jumped off the shelf at me to be honest its quite dull and their marketing manager is evidently lacking in imagination. The front of the bag has a picture of a butler wearing a Union Jack apron holding a plate of cylindrical liquorice. They aren't tubes because they are solid, so the 'rolls' of liquorice are the same size on the packet as they are inside. The "new improved flavour" banner covers the cover of the packet, but to be fair I have no idea whether it's an improved flavour as I have never come across them before. It also boasts just 2% fat. The back of the bag has a very English blurb written by the butler proclaiming to have produced the "finestasting liquorice ever!" All flavours and colours are natural and are they are made from authentic ingredients, here in Britain. Henry hopes to put the great back into Great Britain by producing his liquorice in Pontefract and is award winning in his field, winning the Grocer Food and Drink award 2010. The liquorice is blood red in colour, a vibrant redness. Each piece is thick and cylindrical and can be eaten in two sensible bites. The texture is chewy but not chewy enough to pull at any dental work you may have had. Alternatively you can suck the liquorice and not lose the flavour. The strawberry flavour is quite intense, and unlike must shoe laces and whips etc whilst natural flavours are said to be used there always seems to be a somewhat artificial taste the aftertaste of this product is strawberry, pure and simple strawberry. No horrible tastes which leave you needing a drink which some cheaper brands can do. An emulsifier E471 is included in the product. Now, the bag says that this product is suitable for vegetarians, but I understand that E471 is derived from Glycerine (Glycerol) which may contain animal fats. I'm not a vegetarian, so I guess it would depend on how strict a vegetarian you may be as to whether or not you discard this item as unsuitable. Henry Goode's liquorice has a 365 day shelf life providing they are kept in a cool dry place. The paper bag is lined with a greaseproof lining which keeps them fresh and doesn't leave visible greasy marks. They don't smell of strawberry, they don't particularly have a fragrance at all. I wouldn't recommend eating a whole bag of these in one sitting. Each bag contains 300g of liquorice and cost me £1 in ASDA, the liquorice sits quite heavy on the stomach if eaten in one sitting, but they are handy to have throughout the day for a mini sugar rush if you wish. I have read reports which suggest that the black liquorice can have a laxative effect on the digestive system. I can't report similar side effects with the red version but I haven't scoffed a bag full and have eaten them in moderation. My bag has lasted me 1 week so far. I would recommend these delightful pieces of strawberry goodness if you have a sweet tooth and fancy something different. They will most certainly be on my shopping list in future. *Henry Goode is infact the brand icon for Pontefract's Tangerine Confectionary Company, the largest independent sugar confectionary company in the UK.
Vivo are the newest budget brand to supply/sell cosmetics in Tesco stores. Launched last September, I am unsure how many stores stock the brand and can confirm that I can find no mention of Vivo on their website for online shopping. For Christmas I received a vivo mascara and eyeliner. The mascara faces scrutiny in this review. Presented in a violet 6ml tube with "vivo" written on a black band just below the screw top wand, this "lengthening" mascara has all its important information written in a barely there silver. Contrasted against the purple you would think this was easy to read, but in fact I had to tilt the product to the light to cast enough glare on the text to read it. Once read I can see it proclaims it "transforms lashes with dramatic effect". The boldest information on the product is the barcode sticker which is a bright white and has a lot number on it as well as the barcode. Unwinding the wand is easy and the mascara doesn't cause it to stick. That said it is noticeably messy as I pull the wand from the tube. Much of the wand, which is black, has mascara on it, indicating the tube is full. The sucking noise it makes as it is removed suggests a thick product. I was devastated when I pulled the wand from the tube and it revealed a thick brush. I prefer a defined brush, without bristles. However, this one is bristled and covered in what looked like fluff. Imagine catching the fibre from a face wipe or cotton wool ball on a mascara brush, by accident.... Well this is what the brush is like. I could have spent ages pulling them all off individually, but as soon as I put the brush back in the tube and repeated the action there was no less fluffy stuff on it. Worried this would transfer to my lashes and cause me to be pulling at them all day, I dubiously applied the mascara. Sadly this was extremely ineffective. The material the brush is made of felt like I was stroking my lashes not applying makeup. I am not used to such delicacy as my normal mascara, with its soft rubbery wand usually coats my lashes in three sweeps. It really felt like I had to make this stick. It required several applications to become noticeable and definitely did not appear to lengthen my lashes at all. This would not be suitable if you prefer a heavier look or noticeable mascara. It sits lightly and more naturally on the lashes. In addition to this, it took ages to dry. I stupidly sneezed after applying which resulted in a black line under each eye when the mascara had transferred. Normally, after the duration of time which had gone by between applying and sneezing this wouldn't have been an issue with my usual mascara as it would have dried. It wipes away easily with a makeup wipe or streams down your face if you forget to remove it before you shower. The mascara appears to retail at £1.50 judging by the online beauty blogs I have come across. Also I am wondering if it is just me as everything I have read praises the variations of this product as the next best thing. I personally wouldn't buy this mascara. It was fully sealed before I used it, which is brilliant for hygiene but not so great for knowing what sort of brush you are going to get. If you are as specific and choosy about your mascara as I am I would definitely research this different variations of this before you buy as you may find the Volume version (which I have seen discussed online) works better than the Lengthening one, though I cannot comment on that from personal experience. I have also read that many stockists sold out fairly quickly after the brand were labelled the Mac of the supermarket world by reviewers, so you may find that not all shops have the full range available.
Misery is an extremely clever novel, written by the extremely bizarre Stephen King. King is not an author whose books I would choose to read, but I was loaned this one on the recommendation that I should read it because I would like it. Misery is a character in a story within the novel. Stephen King has written a whole book, 369 pages predominately about two characters, which is quite a feat. The blurb on the back of this book is very enticing and gives nothing away. Misery Chastain was dead. Paul Sheldon has just killer her - with relief, with joy. Misery made him rich: she was the heroine of a string of bestsellers. And now he wanted to get on to some real writing. Paul Sheldon is of course an author, the author of Misery, a fictional character who has paid his wages for many years, but who he deemed to be a necessity to subsidise his real writing. Paul is in a place where Misery is now dead and he can move on in his writing career to something more interesting and something new. This novel starts with him finishing his newest effort Fast Cars the best yet. When he takes his only manuscript on a celebratory road trip, crashes his car and mangles his legs. He is rescued by Annie Wilkes, former nurse with a tendency to kill. Also Misery's (and Paul Sheldon's) No.1 fan. Paul wakes from his comatose states in the company of Annie and after a while realises the severity of his condition. Unable to feel anything other than pain in the lower half of his body he understands that he will now have to rely on Annie for everything. Paul becomes dependent on tablets Novril and Annie happily administers them to control his pain, using them as a tool to bribe him or punish him if he doesn't do as he is told. The situation he finds himself in leads him to do two things he initially struggles with the most. Burning his Fast Cars manuscript and writing another Misery novel, having felt Annie's wrath when she realised her idol Misery had been killed off in the last volume. He has to bring her back... As the months pass, Paul learns survival skills to keep him alive as Annie rides the waves of psychosis and depression, from deliriously hysterical to manically depressive to a point where she knows she needs to take herself away and recover where there is nobody to harm. Paul regains strength as he writes his novel and his brain goes into overtime deciding how he is going to save himself from the crazy nurse. I am still undecided as to how I feel about Stephen Kings' style of writing. I applaud him for continuing such a detailed novel with only two key characters, I was also impressed by the way he included the text of Misery's Return within his writing. However there wasn't enough of Misery's Return to hold my interest, nor was the storyline particularly enthralling. King also breaks his novel into parts and chapters. The chapters are numbers but some had just a single sentence. What's the point? Many also started halfway down a page and I prefer a new chapter to start on a new page. This maybe a personal preference, but it is definitely my preferred style of dividing the content of a book into manageable pieces. The text is all written in a size 8 font, which is quite hard on the eyes if you like reading for long periods of time. However the text for Misery's Return is written in a different typed text and later is a script style text when Paul starts writing in longhand. This helps identify the two different stories, it also changes to identify between the story and Paul's mind. We listen to conversations' between Paul and his thoughts throughout the novel and these are written in Italics and often in a conversational format, also like he is arguing with himself. Towards the end I started to consider whether he was in-fact delusional and that he had envisioned the entire situation due to a decline in his mental health, so good is the writing. Mental Health is the key theme which runs all the way through this novel. With it coming out in different ways for both of the key characters. Whilst Annie is clearly psychotic, Paul's health declines slowly throughout the year he is in Annie's care, but he can still make clear and rational decisions and still identify when he is in a crisis situation. Only a small part at the beginning and the end of the book look at Paul's life outside of Annie Wilkes, but this is all the novel needs. We learn so much about Paul Sheldon and Annie, throughout the main section of the book that the rest seems irrelevant. I would fully recommend trying this book if you like reading Thrillers. If you haven't read a Stephen King book before that may be no bad thing. I haven't seen the film based on this novel and having seen the cast (which includes Kathy Bates) I'm not sure it will appeal to me as much. If you are squeamish this won't be for you. Amazon sell this book used from 1p which is a bargain, from new it will cost approximately £3.99 on Amazon, so it would be worth checking out your local charity shops which stock books for your copy :)
I started making jewellery back in the summer, but so far my skills are limited and my imagination even more so. I thought buying a book may help me and so I purchased the Encyclopedia of Wire Jewellery Techniques for £12.99 in Hobbycraft. The book has introductory sub chapters on wiring, the tools to do it and the materials needed to start making your own creations. There is a detailed contents double page spread at the beginning of the book which outlines the three chapters with several sup chapters within them. Chapter one is based on the Core Techniques of wire jewellery making it goes through the uses of all findings needed to make basic items of jewellery. Findings is the term used to collectively describe, fasteners, earwires, links, loops, headpins and eyepins, which are all the pieces used to link, loop and hang beads and wires. The chapter goes through making your own findings, as opposed to buying them ready made, making shapes using tools such as pliers to bend and twist the wires and wrapping or coiling around beads to produce a professional finish to earrings, bracelets and necklaces. This chapter also offers a step by step instruction in knitting and crochet techniques, which is all done with fine wire, and probably not for beginnings like me. I love the idea of being able to coil and wrap around my beads, but am yet to be brave enough to try it. I imagine I will get quite frustrated and be more thumbs and fingers than elegant and graceful jewellery maker, but that's the way it goes. The second chapter starts on the 118th page and is entitled Towards Silversmithing. It goes through how to solder and melt. I expect this is a chapter for the more advanced jeweller and it will not be something I try, regardless of my ability. For me this chapter, whilst interesting is redundant. The final chapter is the Gallery, which offers photos of beautiful works by various artists; it also has an index and acknowledgments section. Throughout this Encyclopedia, it is beautifully illustrated with very detailed step by step instructions both written and graphically. The language is easy to understand and not littered with unnecessary jargon. The photos are an inspiration if you are truly keen to learn and I can only hope I could make something so lovely to look at as some of the examples photographed and displayed within the pages of this book. Many are a work of art. Each page has a tip highlighted in a grey box for the learner to pick up and each example has a box outlining what is needed, tool wise to re-create the examples in the book. For example to attach ready-made findings the book suggests you will need round nosed pliers, chain nosed pliers and wire cutters. On buying this book I quickly realised my kit needed to expand dramatically to reach my full potential and without doing so I was going to be extremely limited in what I could actually create. As it stands I am currently collecting beads and old necklaces, trinkets etc from jumbles sales and car boot sales, taking them apart and building up my collection of things to use. I am also looking for a good storage box (a bit like a tool box) with different compartments to store things in. This is much harder than it sounds as some beads are so small and very easy to disperse if not held in one place securely. Until my collection is adequate enough to move from making basic earrings to learning to wrap and twist I am not planning to move forward with my making, but I look forward to having all the materials to do so, and when I do, this book will come in very, very, useful as my guide.
My Ripple water saving plug came free with a Southern Water saving initiative which was being promoted at a community event I was representing my work place at. Southern water were giving out packs of water saving materials, including literature, a timer which sticks to the shower screen, a bag to place in the toilet cistern and this rubber plug, all for your email and home address. The plug I have is the pale aqua version and is made from durable silicon. Mine came separately but they are sold in packs of two with a black version as well as this one. Circular, the plug is made from a thick outer edge with a thinner rippled middle circle before a studier centre with "Tap on plug in!" written on it. The only other information on the plug is the brand name and a strapline which reads, "Products that make a difference". The idea behind this product is that you place it in your sink/basin and it will act as a normal plug would in holding the water for you to reuse it. It is advertised as being ideal for washing vegetables or washing your face. You place the centre over the main drain of the basin and the silicon creates a suction which holds it in place and prevents the water from escaping. It offers a one size fits all service. Dubious, I tested this in the bath. The metal plug I have in the bath seeps water which means after 15 minutes or so the water can have rapidly reduced meaning I need to top up. This Ripple plug had no such problem. There was as much water in the bath when I got out as there was when I got it. The suction on it isn't strong which means it is not difficult to pick up and remove but it does a brilliant job at sealing the area when it is put in place properly. Whilst this product wasn't designed with the bath tub in mind, I have used it ever since. I wouldn't recommend using it if you have children as it does lift easily so little feet could push it slightly which would cause it to be ineffective. However, if you are happy to relax in the bath rather than splash about it's ideal. The silicon doesn't hold grease or grime but if it gets dirty it can be wiped over with a cloth quite easily. Ripple was founded in 2003 and are an Australian design company. They offer to take back products at the end of their life so that they can recycle them. So once it ages you can contact them and arrange to return it. From the Ripple website rippleproducts.com this product's RRP is £5.78 but costs £12.20 in freight costs. However this page http://www.rippleproducts.com/uk_stockis​ts give the limited UK stockists. Value for money for me was amazing because it was free, however I don't think I would pay the freight charges to import one. If you can get a packet in the UK for the price of £5.78 I would suggest that they are worth having, but not worth replacing what you have for.
Kraft Dairylea Dunkers as a brand have grown over the years and now include; breadsticks, jumbo tubes, nachos, Ritz and baked crisps offering a good variety of dunkers. I prefer the jumbo tubes and therefore this review is based on them. Each individual dunker packet offers two compartments sealed with a foil top to keep the cheese and dunker fresh. The small compartment offers a Dairylea cheese dip, which is the equivalent of a cheese triangle in a more melted format, whilst the larger compartment holds up to nine jumbo tubes depending on how lucky you are. The tray itself is a sturdy plastic shaped appropriately with the two compartments easily identified prior to opening, due to the shape of the base and the plastic means that they cannot be squashed which is ideal for lunchboxes/handbags. The foil top has a peel back tab which enables you to pull it off it one pull. Often the cheese compartment has a double layer for added freshness and on occasion the second layer will get stuck, meaning you need to remove it separately. The Dairylea brand is on the left hand corner with "dunkers" written across the centre in green. The type of dunker is written on the right hand side of the top along with a picture of said dunker. The cheese inside is soft and has added calcium and vitamin D; it's not too strong but still tastes cheesy. Dunking is easy as you just scoop the cheese onto your preferred dunker whip up any excess and munch. There is enough cheese per serving to get two bites of each dunker with cheese, unless you overestimate your portions and then you could be left with no cheese and more corn. The jumbo tubes are made from corn and potato. They are hollow tubes approximately two and half inches in length with a real crunch to them. They have a hint of garlic to them and are flecked with green parsley. The taste of these isn't like any other corn product I have had before and they really make this snack in terms of flavour. The flavour is strong enough to linger on the breath if you are not careful, so it is worth considering this if you are for example packing one for lunch. Each individual packet contains 47g of product and obviously contains dairy products so would not be suitable for somebody who is allergic. Other ingredients include various starches, salts and acids which doesn't sound at all appealing. Dairylea cannot guarantee that this product is nut or wheat free so again if you have allergies this is worth considering. In addition to the flavour, I prefer the tubes because they are shaped to scoop. This means that any cheese left in the compartment can be easily rounded up. The nachos and Ritz versions make this harder due to the shape of the crisps. That said if there is left over cheese and you have a bag of crisps handy they always make good additional dunkers. I have been buying these for years as jumbo tubes are one of the first variations Dairylea made, whilst other brands stuck with breadsticks and I tend to take them in my packed lunch to work. The price has gone up quite considerably since I first started buying them and they now cost anything between £2.18 and £2.64 for 4 in a pack, but they can often be found on offer in most supermarkets on Buy One Get One Free or half price, which is when I tend to stock up as £2.64 is quite expensive for 4. Additionally they are sold separately and smaller retail outlets such as the Co-op or Spar often have them on two for £1 which makes them cheaper still. Individually they sell at a price between 55p and 70p depending on the store. Dairylea have recently started selling a different shaped pack where the snacks are stacked on top of each other in pairs rather than next to each other in a cardboard frame. I haven't bought these as the price is even more, but I think they are packets of 6, though they don't appear to be as readily available as the traditional packets. Dairylea boast no added preservatives of artificial flavours in the dunker products and this is clearly printed on the cardboard packaging of the multipack versions but not on the foil of the individually sold products. They make ideal snacks for kids and adults alike. I don't normally include the ingredients but due to allergies etc. I thought it would be helpful for this review. INGREDIENTS: Dairylea Cheese Dip (9% fat): Skimmed Milk (51%), Cheese (16%), Concentrated Whey, Milk Proteins, Butter, Emulsifying Salts (sodium calcium polyphosphate), Modified Starch, Calcium Phosphate, Lactic Acid, Vitamin D; Jumbo Tubes: Corn, Potato, Vegetable Oil, Flavourings, Maltodextrin, Dextrose, Sugar, Salt, Onion, Flavour Enhancer (Monosodium glutamate), Emulsifier (Mono and diglycerides of fatty acids), Yeast Extract, Vegetable Fat, Garlic, Parsley, Malic Acid, Citric Acid. Contains Milk. May contain traces of peanuts and wheat
The ASDA Smartprice fleece throw is an excellent addition to the stores value range. The 130cm x 150cm piece of material makes an excellent blanket to snuggle in on the winter nights. I purchased mind for £2 (RRP £5.00) when it was on offer. It offered me the opportunity to burrow down on the sofa wrapped up warm, with a book whilst the lads watched television. The only colour available at the time was a warm chocolate brown version, though ASDA do stock a variety of colours, including charcoal and striped. The offer was obviously popular as there were just two left, both in the chocolate colour. You will find them with the standard green and white Smartprice paper packaging wrapped around the centre of the rolled throw, holding it together in the home furnishing isle alongside the bed linen. The fleece is thin but reasonably fluffy. It isn't thick enough to bobble and leave small bits of wool lying around, which is great as it also means the fleece doesn't cling to clothes or the sofa. The throw is plain with just the stitching around the edges to keep it together. It also has a small label on one side which gives washing details and warning details, such as do not leave on coloured fabrics when damp due to staining and keep away from fire and flames. It is recommended that the fleece is washed before its first use, but I purchased mine with the purpose of using it immediately as I was cold, so there was no waiting for it to be washed and dried. I cannot see how this has had an adverse effect on the product or its ability to do what it is designed to do. It should be washed at 30degrees and with similar colours just in case the colours bleed, it can be tumbled and ironed, although I am not sure I would risk putting such a cheap material in the tumble drier. The blanket is big enough to cover two should you choose to or it could be used for an additional layer to any children's cot or bed. It would not be large enough to cover a double bed adequately. I personally wouldn't keep these in the lounge on display as a throw as it's not the most attractive throw in the world; however I keep it in the wardrobe and bring it out on chilly days/nights when I need an extra layer. This is a bargain at £2 and very good value for money. I would fully recommend the throw, providing you don't have high expectations for a good quality addition to the furniture. But if you are looking for something which looks good on display I would suggest finding an alternative.
Kathryn Fox is a medical practitioner who lives in Sydney; Death Mask is her 5th novel on the subject of serious sexual assault, from the viewpoint of medical examiner Anya Crichton. Anya is very much based on the medical practice and expertise Fox has picked up over the years whilst developing her interest in forensic medicine. Death Mask starts off with the wedding of two youngsters, one a footballer and the other a young girl with a purity pledge. Brett and Hannah wed a wedding which doesn't last very long due to a gang rape after the ceremony. The prologue of this novel explores the wedding and ideals Hannah has of married life. It also sets the scene for Brett to be a shifty character with some kind of plan. The first chapter flies forward to three weeks later where Anya is introduced, before the third chapter sees the characters at the stage of a court case. For me this set a pretty fast pace to the book as there is no way a court hearing would come about so soon after such a serious sexual assault. From the sixth chapter, just a few pages later, Anya is on her way to America having been head hunted to educate male sports teams on responsible sexual relations and the consequences of failing to use protection and rape. From this point onwards the pace slows down, with Fox explaining Anya's involvement in her field and her expertise. I like the character of Dr Crichton; she is a divorced mother of one, whose son resides with his father. She has weekend rights, every other weekend. She pays a high maintenance fee to her ex-husband for the care of her son, who she wishes she could have at home. In New York Anya develops a working relationship with Ethan Rye, Private Investigator and chaperone. She delivers her education lectures explaining the difference between consensual and non-consensual sex to teams of famous sportsmen before being thrown into a criminal investigation of a fashion rep who was raped, allegedly by said sportsmen. Anya and Ethan begin to work together on the case, his investigative skills and her medical expertise forming the perfect partnership. She is employed by the New Jersey Bombers (football side) to find out the extent of their players involvement in gang rape, whilst also being employed by the Attorney to give expertise and clarify what actually happened with the witness.....one would think this would be a huge conflict of interest, but apparently not. I wasn't convinced by Ethan from an early stage. Fox implies he is dodgy, with money changing hands and his sneaky knowledge. I suspected him as part of the problem from a very early stage but I guess this is where Kathryn Fox excels in her writing. She doesn't give anything way. She cleverly formulates a story which is strong and contains many twists and turns. The Criminal case turns to death and Anya and Ethan find themselves investigating several suspicious deaths under the initial pretence of natural causes or unsuspecting illnesses. As she develops her research into gang rape and the causes behind the mentality of footballers specifically, she also develops her American contacts she becomes further involved in the case with several twists in the story. The general aim of the novel is to explore the gang culture in sports teams and Anya has the statistics to support her analysis that footballers are, statistically, more likely to commit gang rape, due to their conditioned mentality to do as they are told for the team, even if this means all taking their share of a players new partner or wife as they are drugged up and unaware. The novel is easy to read and well written. It sounds extremely heavy going with rape, murder, suicide and drugs the main themes of the book. However, the way its written means it isn't heavy going at all, in-fact it's difficult to explain how easy it is to read, it's quite gripping. I have an interest in the subject and experience of my own research into sexual assault and abuse which probably means I lean more towards understanding the themes and medical procedures which the novel depicts. That said, you wouldn't need this experience to follow the terminology or the reasons behind certain actions. Anya's character is used to explain the reasons behind her actions, more often than not in a conversational manner as she is explaining to another character. This makes it easier to understand because it is simplified for the character as well as the reader. Likewise Ethan's character is used to explain the processes used by the police and initiatives taken by private investigators to obtain information which wouldn't usually be in the public domain. It's quite scary to see how much an investigator can find on any one person with very little effort. Kathryn Fox writes in good sized chapters. There are 48 in total which means if you don't have the time to read a big block at a time you can stop regularly and easily resume without pausing halfway through a chapter. Overall I really enjoyed this book just like I have her last four. I actively sought it out in the charity shops (I refuse to pay full price for a hardback) and got it for £2! Published in March 2011 it retails at £12.99 in hardback and only came out in paperback in October. Amazon are stocking the hardback version for £9.99, paperback version for£3.86 and a Kindle version for £4.99.