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I bought this night cream in the supermarket whilst doing my weekly shop. I had been getting low and had not had chance to get to the local High Street to pop to Boots for something else. I've always thought highly of the Nivea brand, so was happy to try this one. I forget how much I paid for my 50ml tub, but I believe it was less than £10.
The product is boxed and within a wide glass jar with a plastic lid. These gives good access to the last dregs of the cream when you get towards the end of the jar. The cream is quite thick and I just scoop a little bit out on my finger tips and massage it into my cleansed skin outwardly and upwards. It smoothes on really well and starts to soak in immediately, it does not fully soak in straight away, and does leave my skin a it shiny for a few minutes, but I quite like this feature of a night cream - I'm going nowhere from here other than to bed, so it can take as long as it likes.
The cream is fragrance free but I can detect a subtle scent, much like cold cream and similar. It smells natural and there is nothing synthetic about it. I assume it comes from one of the ingredients. A full list of ingredients is on the outer box or available online, for those that are interested.
I am happy with how my skin feels the next morning, it feels soft and moisturised, not dry at all. The product claims to be anti-wrinkle and I don't think I have gained any new ones recently, but I think we have to take such claims with a pinch of salt - wrinkles are sadly inevitable...
I pot has lasted me a few months, being used most nights (occasionally I use a different product such as a facial oil or if I go away overnight) and I reckon there is still a good few weeks left so I am please with how well it has lasted. It is not my first choice of night cream but I would certainly consider purchasing it again.
I have read a number of Diane Chamberlain novels, and of those I think the Necessary Lies is my current favourite. It was one of the best books I read last year.
The novel is set in North Carolina, USA in the 1960s. There are two main characters - One is Jane, a young newly-wed who goes against the grain in wishing to pursue a career after marriage (in social work). Ivy is a poor teenage girl living on a farm with her grandmother, sister and baby nephew. She, and her family, become one of Jane's 'clients'.
Jane becomes more involved with the family than she expected, and wants to do well by them. However the system in this era is very different from how things are done in our more enlightened days and this causes a massive moral dilemma for Jane. I don't want to spoiler the plot for you (information is available elsewhere if you wish to know more) but the book is based on real life events. The 'help' that Ivy's family, more specifically her sister, receive is not something that I would normally have expected to happen in a supposed civilised country in relatively modern times.
Jane comes across as a bit wet at times, but she is inexperienced and thrown into the deep end of dealing with extreme poverty like she has never seen before. Ivy is spirited, yet young and naive. Both characters frustrated me at times. However I really enjoyed the book, and found it very engrossing. Chamberlain may not be troubling the panel of the prestigious book prizes any time soon, but her novels are well-written, well-researched and engaging and this ticks the box for me most of the time.
The key topic covered are clarified at the end of the book with more information if you are interested.
I highly recommend this book for fans of contemporary fiction. This is not chick-lit - there is no real romance, but it is all about the people and how they deal with a unique situation. The characters are flawed also, don't expect some glossy haired heroine. They make mistakes and must deal with the consequences.
I hadn't used Simple products for ages, having moved onto premium skincare products as I got older, but before my last holiday I picked up a 50ml bottle of this in Boots.
There is no pretentious packaging with this product – you get a white bottle with a green screw cap lid. All the information you require is on the sticky label attached to the bottle.
I usually prefer an SPF in my day creams, this one only has 'defending UV filters', so you would need to ensure you got adequate SPF protection elsewhere. Simple don't use any animal derived ingredients, nor do they add perfumes or colours to their products which they claim are suitable for sensitive skin. I don't have particularly sensitive skin but I am always happy to use a gentle product, if effective.
The cream is quite thick so doesn't really pour out the bottle, you may need to shake it and bash it against your palm the get it out - especially towards the end of the bottle. You don't need a huge amount of this as for a thick cream is softens and spreads easily on your skin (in an upward and outward motion as directed). It soaks in easily, even when you’ve misjudged the quantity and have a bit too much on! I tend to leave my moisturiser to soak in whilst I have breakfast and then apply foundation on top of it. I suspect I could apply it more of less straight away as it does seem to soak in well.
I don't use this as a night cream as it mentions UV filters and I prefer to avoid such chemical type ingredients in my night cream to balance it out a bit
The moisturiser is supposed to last all day (12 hours) and I have no cause to dispute it on my personal experience technically, but my skin seems better moisturised with the higher priced product, so I still prefer the premium or even mid-range brands to this. It is hard to qualify, but they just 'feel' better on my skin. Saying that, I would purchase again a small bottle for my wash-bag if I needed to. As a budget product it has a lot to offer and I do recommend people try it to see if it suits them, as you can save yourself a few quid if this turns out better.
The bottle is recyclable. I forget how much I paid for my little bottle, but 125ml bottle is available for a very reasonable £4.50 in Boots. I have also seen Simple products in various supermarkets, so it should not be hard to track down.
I first bought this novel in 2007 but as I buy far more books that I can read, it languished on my shelves for years until it became by book club's selection for April. I am so glad I finally got round to it, as it was so an enjoyable read.
The book is set in 1960s Nigeria, before and during the civil war there. I knew nothing of this war (or even that there was one) and sometimes felt the references to significant political figures (on either side) went over my head a bit. However, this is very much a character led novel, the events surrounding it are just the catalyst for the behaviour of the characters.
There are several 'regular' character sin the book but the stry is told from the perspective of three of them:
Olanna is from a middle class background, daughter of a well of businessman, she received a British university education, and is a university professor. She lives with, and subsequently marries Odenigbo, a fellow professor and they spend their time entertaining with other intellectuals.
Richard is a British ex-pat and writer who falls in love with Olanna's twin sister Kainene. On secondment to the university that Olanna and Odenigbo work at, he falls in with their crowd.
Ugwu - is Olanna and Odenigbo's young houseboy. Encouraged to continue his education, he is also going through puberty and is learning about himself as his country is falling apart.
Although Adiche is Nigerian, she was too young to remember the war herself, the historical part of the plot is based on research and family memories. I found the book engaging to read, Adiche's style is accessible and unpretentious and I was able to engage with the story and the characters. I found the dynamics between the main and the secondary characters interesting and felt that Odenigbo and Kainene were particularly well-drawn despite not getting a voice of their own in the book. It is no surprise to me that the book won much critical acclaim as well as the prestigious Orange Prize for Fiction.
I would recommend this book to people who enjoy richly drawn character based novels, set against an true life background.
I have both these items which were purchased separately from Robert Dyas. The kettle had been a gift but I bought the toaster for a very reasonable £17.99.
They are almond and stainless steel and look good together in my kitchen. Obviously the stainless steel part seems to get smeary quite easily and needs to be wiped down a bit more than I would have liked.
The Kettle has a rapid boil function but this doesn't seem to make a huge amount of difference time wise, in my opinion. I like the fact that the cord is a good length yet can coil inside the base, so it not cluttering up your work surfaces. The lid is opened by a button and is a smooth operation and it is not too tricky to get a full (heavy) kettle back on the base. The kettle is fairly lightweight empty. The boil switch is right by the base and sticks out. I have often caught it when I have put down chopping boards or pot and pans nearby and accidentally turned on an empty kettle. I think this aspect could have been better designed.
The Toaster has two slices and has seven setting on a dial depending on how brown you want your toast. I like mine lightly done and find that setting 3 does the trick. It toasts evenly and there is a button to depress if cooking toast straight from the freezer so you don't need to worry about changing the dial. There is also a button if you want your toast back early for any reason (I use this for pitta). The levers and movements are always smooth. There is a small crumb tray at the bottom.
It is too early to talk about reliability as I have only had them a few months, but I believe Prestige to be a good brand and I would expect them to last well in my low usage household.
Both items function well and represent good value for money in my opinion as you get a stylish, functional and reliable product.
I had been keen to try Lidl's own brand perfume Suddenly Madame Glamour for a while as I had heard it was just like Chanel's Coco Mademoiselle which is one of my favourite all-time fragrances, that I often go back to. The Lidl version is about £4 instead of the £50 you'd pay for Chanel. I have seen this product on Amazon for £12, which seems pricey if you know you can get it for £4!
This £4 buys you a 50ml bottle also, packaged in a glossy white and gold cardboard box, which looks quite sophisticated. It apparently sells out quite quickly, I managed to get mine as I popped in just after a delivery.
Inside the box is an uninspiring glass bottle, with a cheap plastic lid. Obviously at this price, there isn't a huge budget for packaging and design, so it isn't surprising really! The liquid in mine is a deeper orangey-pink than in the photo above.
The notes include bergamot and jasmine which are similar to Coco Mademoiselle. Whilst the overall affect is similar, I do find the overall initial fragrance to be sweeter in this perfume, but it settles down after a while. When I wore Coco Mademoiselle I often had compliments on my perfume, this has not happened with this one (yet!) or maybe people are assuming I am wearing the same thing again. I always used to save the Chanel version for special occasions, but this one I don't mind wearing everyday.
I have heard people claim this doesn't last as long, and whilst this is true, I was surprised that it lasted until mid-afternoon after an 8am application. It is not like it disappears after a few hours as some cheap perfumes do.
If I am honest I prefer my Chanel as it feels a bit more special and luxurious. I *know* what I am wearing even if no one else does! However if you do manage to spot one in Lidl I think it is well worth buying as you haven't lost much if you find it isn't for you. The overall affect is floral-oriental.
Although not the cheapest powder blusher on the market (£22) this is my first choice. Clinique are an established premium cosmetic brand and their make up and skincare is available in larger Boots and Department Stores at their dedicated counters. The item comes boxed and within in a clear plastic case, with a mirrored lid is the blusher.
The case contains 6g of blusher which doesn't sound a lot, but you only use a little. I think my current one has lasted ages, and still has a way to go. The lid is mirrored inside and there is a space for the supplied brush. The brush is of excellent quality, and is shaped to help application and shading.
I prefer col 110 'Precious Posy' which is a coral/pink shade. As mentioned, the shaped blush means a few sweeps of powder across my cheeks are sufficient. The blusher is a pressed powder so there is no wastage. It looks natural and just enhances my naturally pale skin, making me look more human and less corpse like!
If I could change anything I would make it stay on my cheeks a bit longer, but I have to say that this is mostly down to me and my (bad) habit of resting my chin/face on my hands at my desk meaning make up has a bit of a battle to stay on. However when I am out and about and not rubbing my face, it stays on just fine, so I am not sure it is fair to state this is a disadvantage.
As mentioned the price is expensive and it means I sometimes hesitate before purchasing. However the quality of the product, the elegant packaging and a decent brush usually means I'll fork out for this over one of the High Street brands that don't supply a brush and look cheap.
This No 7 Perfect Light Loose Powder has been my face powder of choice for a couple of years now. Previously I used Clinique but I find this powder to be equal to it in quality, but substantially cheaper at £10.50. As it is part of the No 7 brand from Boots, there are also often offers to be had such as ‘three for two’, discount vouchers from your shopping, or (as I had last time) a free gift with a purchase of two items. This makes it even better value, and worth keeping an eye on.
The packaging has changed from the pictured version and now has a clear base (with holes in the top to shake the powder through) so you can see easier how much is left, with a dark brown lid with the logo indented . I think it makes it look a lot more modern and more like a premium brand than a high street one. It comes with a puff for application but I prefer to use loose powder with a brush as I am applying on top of foundation and find the gets grubby and unhygienic too quickly.
There are four shades available and I always use translucent. Again, as I apply on top of foundation, I don’t need the colour. Mostly I use it to help ‘set’ the foundation to make it last better, and I am satisfied with how well it does this (it could be better, but then I could also not spend half the day resting my face in my hands).
They claim that this gives a light reflecting, flawless finish. I have to admit I am not entirely sure what they mean by ‘light reflecting’. It certainly doesn't make my skin look dull and it looks healthy, but how much of that is down to this product and how much is my light foundation or is natural, I really cannot say. I give a light dusting and the product does not clump, and does give a flawless look. However I would not expect it to conceal blemishes, I would be looking at a different product for that, but it can help keep my skin tone looking even and make my foundation last longer.
Overall I think this loose powder offers excellent value, as it is a very good product that is easy to apply and lasts well.
Boots No 7 Moisture Drench is currently my preferred lipstick. I do love Clinique's products, but I feel that the No 7 brand gives me better value for money. The last lipsticj I bought from them was £9.50. At the time there was a promotion on where I got a free gift for purchasing two products at the same time (I bought the face powder). You can also often get discount vouchers at the till with other purchases for No7 products. It is worth keeping an eye on the deals if you are looking to buy
The lipstick is in a sleek black tube with the No 7 logo indent and has no other packaging. You simply remove the lid and twist the base to reveal the lipstick. If I am going somewhere special I sometimes use a lip brush, but on a day to day basis I just smooth it on, once in each direction on each lip. At first I am aware that something is there but not so much that I am uncomfortable or want to lick my lips. It is something I get used to after about 30 seconds. My lips feel moisturised but not sticky. The colour has a shine to it, when on your lips, a subtle shimmer but is not glossy.
If I am honest, a dedicated lip balm will give better moisturisation, if that is all you are looking for, but as a lipstick I think this is one of the better high street brands for moisturisation and colour at a reasonable price. The lipstick also has a 15 SPF. They do have a good range of colours, although not every store seems to stock them all, but I love their pinky shades and find them very wearable.
I think this lipstick lasts quite well, and I have been pleased how long it lasts without re-applying. As a dedicated dooyoo reviewer I applied some just before eating some spaghetti bolognese. I was pleased to note that some colour remained on my lips, although the sheen had gone and they were feeling less moisturised. Generally however, when eating a less messy dish, or for sipping drinks the colour does last fairly well, but isn't perfect. I have no problem with re-applying after eating.
Overall I think this is worth trying if you can get a good deal as I think the shimmer and moisturising properties are better than many of its peers in the same price range.
I first tested this fragrance in a local department store, and liked it straight away, but didn't purchase it until I had the opportunity to buy it from Duty Free. Expect to pay £40 upwards for the 30ml Eau de Parfum.
The bottle is attractive, and quite classic in design (short and wide, with clear glass), with a gold lid finished off with a simple black bow at the neck and packaged in a classy black and white matt cardboard box. Even without the bow the bottle looks nice on my dressing table and not at all gimmicky.
As you would expect from a fragrance entitled 'Flora', it is a floral based scent! The top notes are peony and agrums. I can detect the floral part of that straight from the nozzle, but I don't know what agrums are. There is a tang to the first spray, and I would guess that is what it is.
The heart notes are rose and osmanthus flower from China. Again I am unfamiliar with the second scent but the rose is detectable and pleasant. It doesn't smell synthetic or cheap. The heart notes last a good few hours and the scent is strong but not over-powering.
The base notes are patchouli and sandalwood and they are very pleasant and not too strong. This scent can linger on scarves and things and I get a pleasant waft when I put them on again. Sometimes 'old' perfume can smell a bit off on these occasions but I've not noticed that with this fragrance.
Overall I love the perfume but would likely not buy it too often as I like to try other perfumes. I am pleased with the longevity which will last all day. Obliviously it is a premium brand and therefore not cheap, but I think it is worth the investment for special occasions.
The Vaseline Lip Therapy tins are my favourite lip balms. I find the product is moisturising and makes my lips feel soft for a long time. Usually I use the 'regular' product in the blue tin, but recently I have purchased the 'aloe vera' version in the green tin. Each tin is 20g and this lasts me a long time, much longer than the stick lip balms that may be cheaper.
My current tin has a different design on it from the design pictured. I'm not sure if this is a new design or just a limited edition one, but it has a more retro pattern on the lid - a bit art nouveau, with it's turn-of-the-century swirls. I really like it.
According to the Vaseline website the tin contains Isopropyl Myristate (a skin conditioning agent) and Aloe Vera which is well known for soothing skin especially after burns. The aloe vera version smells herbally, it reminds me a bit of tea tree oil but with a bit more 'tang'. I do not find it offensive or over-powering. I don't tend to lick my lips with the product on (it's a bit counter-productive) but I haven't noticed a taste to it. I am fortunate that my lips not crack, but they do get dry and feel uncomfortable. I always keep a tin on my desk, on my dressing table and in my handbag.
The main disadvantage is that to apply it you need to use your fingertips, which means they could be greasy (and of course, a clean finger is also a good idea). A tin in your pocket, or on a hot day can get quite soft and sticky making it hard to get the right amount for application (really you only need a smear). However once it is on, it does last for a good few hours. I don't find it lasts long after eating, so I usually reapply then. For me this keeps my lips moisturised for longer than other stick brands.
I love the size of the tin as it can fit in a pocket or a small compartment in your bag, and it lasts a lot longer than a stick balm. My last tin cost me £1.80 but you can see them from £1.50-£2 in various places. I usually pick one up when I see a good price as they are handy to have.
This book was recommended to me, and as such I didn't take much notice of what it was about when I bought it. When I discovered it was about the Holocaust in World War II I was a little bit disappointed as I felt it was not going to be original. I was also concerned that this could make the book a depressing read. Thankfully I didn't find this as all, and for what it is worth, I felt this aspect was handled sensitively.
The protagonist, who opens the book, is a young Jewish woman called Sage Singer. Since being disfigured in a car crash, she keeps herself to herself and works as a baker at night. Apart from her colleagues, her only real interactions are with her married boyfriend and the people who attend her grief counselling group, which she has been going to since the death of her mother. She prefers to keep her distance from the world, rather than get involved in it.
Interspersed with these parts is italicised text telling a ‘fairy story’ type tale, these parts are short, and don't initially fit into the story. They are the work of 'The Storyteller' of the title, and it is soon revealed to be the work of Sage’s grandmother Minka, who grew up in 1930s Poland.
The other main character is Josef, an elderly German born gentleman who meets Sage through her grief group. Early on the book he confesses to Sage that he was a Nazi and asks for her forgiveness (as a Jew) and her help to kill him. Josef changed his name to avoid detection and we see his story growing up in Germany and his time in the army.
Whilst this is undoubtedly a historical fiction novel, it is very much character led. Obviously the events that occurred in Poland were real, and these aspects are quiet horrifying to read about, no matter how well-read you feel you may be on the subject. I don’t think it is something you can be de-sensitised to, and I found parts quite chilling.
I think this book is a worthwhile read, being both well-researched and an absorbing and informative read. There are interesting themes such as how we deal with our past, not to mention Sage’s moral dilemma as to whether to help kill Josef. I thought the characters were well written, so you get an idea for what makes them tick, each with their own flaws and secrets. I loved how the book was put together, bringing all the strands to an interesting conclusion. It may not be the conclusion that the reader wants, but it was a viable ending. Highly recommended to all fans of fiction books, historical or otherwise.
Westminster Abbey was founded in 960AD and has been the site of many royal coronations, weddings and funerals since. Most recently it was where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge married in 2012. Some royals from history and buried here, as are a number of important people from British history such as Charles Darwin and Charles Dickens, and many others have memorial plaques.
It is currently £18 for adults, £15 concessions, secondary school age children are £8, and primary school aged kids are free. You enter via the Great North Door and you may have to queue at peak times.
I did the included audio tour narrated by the actor, Jeremy Irons, who does an excellent job. It covers construction, architectural designs and key players in its history as well as those interred here, and will start in the magnificent nave with a mix of Norman and gothic styles. Look out for Science Corner with a prominent memorial to Sir Isaac Newton. There are plaques all over the floor, some are people you will have heard of, some less famous but having made a contribution to British history at some point. It is quite fun spotting all the people from history you have heard of.
On from the nave the tour takes you to the Quire area which was smaller than I expected, then the Alter. Henry VII’s Lady Chapel was a highlight, built in the sixteenth century, it is an impressive decorated room containing the tomb of Henry and his wife, Elizabeth of York. To the right of the Lady Chapel are the tombs of Margaret Beaufort and Mary, Queen of Scots amongst others. On the other side of the Lady Chapel is the tombs of Elizabeth I and Mary I.
There are further monarchs as you pass by on your way back. You could even organise a game of Dead Royal Bingo if so inclined. There are over twenty royal graves here including that of Anne Neville, whose royal husband ended up under a Leicester car park and one of Henry VIII’s wives (head intact).
Next up is Poet’s Corner which was another highlight. Geoffrey Chaucer was the first poet buried here and other writers buried here include Dickens, Browning, Tennyson and Kipling. Others have memorial plaques.
I really enjoyed my visit and had a short wander after the audio tour finished, to check out other parts marked on the free map. All in all we were only here about 90 minutes, which makes it an expensive afternoon out. Visiting, on Saturday lunchtime was also busy and crowded. You need to be patient if you want to explore all the nooks and crannies, and unusual tombs as the place is full to the brim. To get the most out of your visit, if you have the opportunity, have a look at the detailed website to decide who and what you want to see the most. Highly recommended for history fans.
I actually bought this by accident instead of 'regular' adult Listerine mouthwash. It is aimed at kids, but I figured it would be OK for a few weeks use.
Instead of pouring like normal, my bottle had a squeezy feature - You removed the cap and squeeze the bottle and the exact amount (10ml) was dispensed into the neck ready for you to pour into your tooth mug. It's a bit of a novelty but my measure-by-eye method isn't always effective when I use conventional mouthwash. It advises swigging around your mouth for a minute and with a modest amount like 10 ml, this isn't a problem.
I use this after brushing most mornings and evenings (don't tell my dentist I don't use this or floss every time!)
Firstly, the mild mint flavour is much more pleasant than the adult fresh-mint. Having gone back to the adult version I think I will buy this one again, as the adult one has a stronger taste of antiseptic and artificial mint, then the milder children's version, so this version is more pleasant tasting in the mouth.
When I spit into the sink, it tints any left over food it has dislodged a darker shade of green - Bran Flakes crumbs are a regular offender. It seems that I get more crumbs with this than I noticed with the usual Listerine mouthwash.
The main disadvantage is that when it gets low in the bottle the tube cannot suck up the last parts of the mouthwash to extract into the neck dispenser and I couldn't figure out how to get into it any other way, so 2-3 days worth of mouthwash is wasted.
Obviously this is a kids product and I am an adult, but I imagine kids of a certain age could easily use this unsupervised and would see the results in the sink, which is a good lesson in oral hygiene. If you struggle with adult mouthwashes and the sharp taste, then you may find this is better.
Prior to last summer's holiday I spotted the Hilton at Gatwick, for £85. It walking distance from the South Terminal, when most hotels required a shuttle bus. The deal was room only and available at short notice.
I arrived at Gatwick by train, the station is next to the South terminal. It took six minutes to walk to the hotel. There was no queue at check-in which was efficient.
My double room had an en suite with bath and quality toiletries. I had a camp bed as well as a double, but otherwise everything was pretty standard – TV, tea/coffee facilities etc. The window was tiny but the lights were good with convenient switches by the bed. I spotted one spare plug socket. Wi-fi is available for a charge, but is free in the communal lobby areas.
There are various food options in the hotel but on the pricey side. There is a Costa Coffee by the entrance (1st floor), I went to Amy’s bar where I had an open sandwich with chips for £12. I also ordered a vodka and diet coke (large measures seem to be standard), bringing the price up to £22 including service. Other food options include the Sports bar, Amy's Restaurant and Garden restaurant.
There is a small shop containing a limited selection of paperback books, newspapers and magazines, cigarettes, sweets, basic toiletries and gifts.
My room had an adjoining door to the next room (not accessible), but this meant sound proofing was very poor and at 4am I could listen to my neighbours’ conversation. The 5 foot bed was not hugely comfy, it was soft and I seemed to find a dip.
One thing I was disappointed with was cleanliness. As I was getting into bed with bare feet, I could feel gritty bits on the floor, and found a few small stones. The grout around the shower was looking tired and there were rust marks around the plughole. When I checked out, I reported the issues and the receptionist seemed shocked and apologetic and said she would speak to housekeeping.
Overall I was disappointed with a number of aspects, most notably the cleaning. Other issues include the noise caused by the door to the adjoining room. The food is expensive, but cannot fault the quality. The communal areas are comfortable and not intimidating if dining alone. On the positives, my room was pleasantly decorated, well-lit and mostly comfy. Location wise, this would also be at the top of the list, particularly if flying from the South terminal. I am hesitant to recommend the hotel, as I am unsure I would stay here again. However, it is worth considering if you get a good deal as airport hotels are generally pricey due to a captive market, and it is one of the best located hotels at Gatwick South.