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*****Intro***** Over the last year I have been lucky enough to become a Godfather and Uncle to two lovely little girls with my God-daughter being a couple of weeks over one year old and my niece being 10 months old. After reading a review about this product on Dooyoo and searching online for a good price decided that this seemed the ideal present for them this Christmas and would be one which would last and grow with them as they do. *****Price***** Now having earned enough on Dooyoo for a £20 Amazon voucher and cashing in my Nectar points (UK loyalty scheme) and turning them in Amazon vouchers this is where most of my shopping came from this year, and happily where I found the best price for Violet. I paid £14.99 inc free supersaver P&P (which on a side note arrived way before their estimated delivery). I have noticed today before writing this review that the price is now £17.99 in P&P but that is still a saving of around £2 as most other outlets sell this product for £20. I consider the price I paid and the current price on Amazon a fair one as I was was very pleased with the product. *****The Actual Product***** Now Violet is an interactive toy which by using a USB lead into your computer you can personalise Violet so she interacts with your child in a clever way. You can program her to say you child's name as well as their favourite items, such as food and colour. Your child's name and favourites will them be incorporated into various songs and activities and well as general chit chat. It is worth noting that where as in previous earlier models Violet had an American accent, now she has a British accent, which will be less confusing for your child as they develop their language skills. It is worth noting that Violet is definitely aimed at girls, but there is a green version, Scout, who is aimed at boys and will do what Violet does but with a boys voice. Violet is a lovely soft toy, though the USB/battery pack is fairly big and solid, there seems to be enough softness surrounding it to prevent any unwanted bumps. On Violet there are 5 press points. One is the power on/off point which when switched on Violet says Hi.... And says your child's name. One is a daytime songs button which you can download songs from the computer so you can change things around to keep the toy fresh. It also has a song which will teach your child to spell their name. There is an activities button where Violet will play guessing type games. On the tummy there is some hearts which are violets more chatty type modes and finally there is the lullaby button where you can set bedtime songs for 2, 5 or 10mins with Violet encouraging your child that it's bed time and time to go to sleep - all very cute. Packaging wise, Violet comes in a brightly coloured box with a USB lead and instructions on how to download content. Doing this is very simple (as I set up both dogs before I gave them on Christmas day), just download the leapfrog application to you computer and plug in the toy and away you go. You are lead through a very simple process of adding various things to Violet and also being able to change them when your child or you(!) get fed up and need a change. ****Overall Thoughts***** I am basing my review on how they were received on the day and how they are played with now. Obviously a parent could give you a fuller review of how the child likes them etc on a day to day basis, but I do see both girls regularly so know they are really enjoyed by them. Violet has become a firm favourite in both houses, and with the ability to change the content I can see this toy being played with and enjoyed for a long while. As someone who has come across lots of pre-school type toys in my work I was really impressed with this product, when the toy says the child's name you get an instant reaction from them which was great to watch, and the variety of activities and songs is great too. It is built well as you would expect from this brand I have no problem awards it 5 Stars***** A great buy! Thanks for reading my review!
Those of you who have childhood memories tucked up feeling poorly on the sofa, having a day off school will probably have one memory associated to these days which sticks out more than others - especially if you were a child of the 80's and 90's like me. That memory being given Lucozade to bring your energy levels up. Now I know that this rings true for many as after a quick look at some other Lucozade reviews it does get mentioned rather a lot. Now Lucozade has moved on from the original orange coloured, not quite sure what is tasted off variety, though this flavour is still available and popular today. Lucozade has a variety of new flavours in its "Energy" range including cherry, orange, lemon/lime and my new favourite blackcurrant which is what I will be reviewing. My bottle cost £1.10 for a 500ml bottle from my local convenience store. *****Packaging and Contents Appearance***** My bottle looks a bit like a fat version of the classic Coca-Cola contour bottle. Currently they are running a promotion to win tickets to a concert so the design on the label is a gig scene in a purple colour scheme. It does have the Lucozade logo on as well as all the usual info on the back. Pouring it into a glass it looks like any other blackcurrant drink apart from it is fizzy. *****Taste and Smell***** It has a refreshing blackcurrant smell and naturally you can smell the gas from the sparkling bubbles but overall it is a nice pleasant smell. As will all products of this type the taste is sweet, very sweet, but not in a sickly way. It's a refreshing crisp fruity flavour, which has just the right amount of bubbles in to kick start your day or to give you a boost when you are flagging. This is one on the nicer varieties in this range my other favourite being the cherry one. I do have to say that after drinking this I did feel the boost which I needed before I drank it. *****Nutritional Info***** Obviously its not a good idea to constantly rely on these drinks as in large quantities they can't be good for you but here are the nutritional facts for a 250m serving (remember there are 500ml in a bottle I do hate it when they do that!) Calories 172 Sugars 33.9g Fat Nil Saturates Nil Salt Trace So with my rubbish maths if you drink a whole 500ml bottle like most people would you would have consumed 67.8g of sugars which in theory is around 76% of an adults RDA of Sugars! *****Overall Opinion***** I do like this and it did give me a short term boost though looking at the nutritional info definitely a once in a while when needed treat! 4 stars. Thank you for reading my review!
So it's Sunday morning and whilst buying the papers I needed a chocolate fix. Feeling a bit bored of chocolate in bar form I decided to try the Galaxy Thick Shake Milkshake. This was around the £1.20 mark for a 400ml bottle from my local corner shop. *****Packaging and Contents Appearance***** The drink comes in a white plastic bottle with a plastic wrapping label which on the front has the galaxy logo as well as the familiar brown pattern which is on its other chocolate products. On the back it has nutritional info as well as other ingredients, contact info ect. Pouring the contents into a glass you have a very thick dark brown milkshake which looks rich and satisfying. *****Smell and Taste***** So down to the really important bit what does it taste like? Well first off the smell is rich and chocolaty with a familiar Galaxy aroma. On first taste it seems pleasant enough which a nice chocolaty taste and nice thick consistency as it goes down. As much as the taste at first is nice after a while it gets a bit sickly, but that is not the real issue with the taste. My issue is that if it says galaxy on the bottle it should taste like the chocolate. This only has a very light hint of galaxy chocolate flavour and in fairness most of that comes from the smell. Don't get me wrong it's nice enough, BUT it just tastes like any other thick shake, nothing really special in a Galaxy type of way. A good example of another thick shake based on a chocolate bar is the Mars drink and this at least tastes malty much like the mars bars, but sadly the Galaxy one falls short on taste. *****Nutritional Info***** The 400ml bottle claims to have two servings in and therefore gives the nutritional values for a 200ml bottle. Those who perhaps only briefly look at the values might miss this and assume they are the values for the whole bottle as most other drinks do. So here are the values on the bottle remembering to double them if you drink the whole bottle in one like me! Calories 180 Sugars 25.4g Fat 4.4g Saturates 2.8g Salt 0.3g *****Overall Opinion***** Overall I must say I was disappointed with this product as it didn't give me the chocolate fix I was looking for. The taste and slightly misleading info are the main areas of disappointment. Only 2 stars from me :-(
I'm on a bit of a healthy eating kick at the moment, but still have cravings for something sweet. There are many different supposedly healthier sweet snacks by many different manufacturers, some are good some are bad, but are any of them healthy and tasty. Well to be honest I'm no nutrition expert and can just about work out the number on the nutritional guide on the backs of packets. I generally think that the healthier it is the worse tasting it will be. So how do Snack a Jacks Caramel fit into my crazy system? First off I got two, six packet multi bags for £2.50 on a special offer at Tesco, meaning I paid roughly 21p per single 25g pack, which is good value in my mind. They come in a caramel coloured packet with some pictures of the product as well as the Snack a Jacks logo. The pack tells us that there are the following nutritional values per 25g pack: 102 calories (5% of RDA) 7.5g of sugars (8% of RDA) 0.8g of fat (1% of RDA) 0.2g of saturates (1% of RDA) 0.1g of salt (2% of RDA) RDA = Recommended daily allowance for an adult. The actual snacks are mini rice cakes in a crunchy caramel coating. The caramel gives you the sweet kick you need, but isn't over sweet. Just right in my opinion. The rice cake is also nice and crispy. Overall these fill my sweet craving need, and although looking at the nutritional info, in large quantities these aren't a great option, in small amounts they are in my mind a good alternative to eating a chocolate bar or something similar. It's worth noting that they also to these in jumbo sized packs where you get a single large cake per serving. Overall I give these 4 stars.
My current reviews are all based on a trip to Oxford during the half term week, and the main purpose was to see Sister Act The Musical which left its London home at The Palladium over a year ago and has embarked on a nationwide tour. Its playing at some of the larger regional theatres and with Oxford being the closest to me I thought it was high time to get back into the Habit! *****The Theatre***** The New Theatre Oxford is quite grand for a regional theatre and in fairness on the inside it wouldn't look out of place in the West End. The auditorium is vast seating around 1300 people with a stalls section, circle and balcony. For this performance of Sister Act the balcony was closed, and the remaining stalls and circle was mainly full. I was seated to the rear of the circle and the seats were comfortable thought the legroom was small. I did have spare seats either side of me so could spread out. There is a bar area selling the usual drinks and snack in both the stalls and circle and there are ample toilet facilities which were well maintained and more importantly clean. It's roughly a ten minute walk from the station with plenty of restaurants etc in the near vicinity. For more info about the New Theatre go to www.newtheatreoxford.org.uk. *****The Show***** For those of you unfamiliar with the story, Sister Act The Musical is based on the smash hit Whoopi Goldberg Film of the same name, in which her character, lounge singer, Deloris Van Cartier, witness a mobland murder by her boyfriend, and must be placed in witness protection so she can testify against her boyfriend. She is place in a struggling convent and at finds it hard to adjust in many a comedic scene. Mother Superior is at her whit's end and puts Deloris (now known as Sister Mary Clarence) in charge of the choir. She breathes new life into the choir and in time boosts the dwindling church congregation and has them rocking in the aisles. In time Deloris is spotted by her boyfriend and has to leave the convent just before they are due to perform to the Pope. Though with a change of heart and deciding to risk it all decides to return to the convent even though she knows her boyfriend will most probably kill her. In true Hollywood comedy fashion there is a happy ending, with the convent surviving, Deloris surviving, the bad guys getting punished, but most importantly of all Deloris learns what is really true and worthwhile in life and feels part of the community within the convent. Those who will have seen the film will know its full of great music, the musical, due to licensing difficulties has none of it and relies on a totally new score, written by Alan Menken who was responsible for many of the Disney songs. There is no need to worry though because the music is great and has a great mix of funky Mowtown inspired tunes such as "Take Me To Heaven" and "Sunday Morning Fever" and more ballady musical fayre such as the title track "Sister Act" Those who saw the original London production will notice there are changes to the tour show and these are in line with the current Broadway production. It mainly a bit more streamline and polished though some songs have been cut like "The Sacred Mass" which makes the bar scene less enjoyable, and some have been slightly tweaked like the song where the nuns describe how they became nuns has now been rewritten as them singing about what their favourite part about being a nun is. I think the changes work well and everything seems a bit more slick. The staging is good for a tour show, and good use is made of the limited technical aspects which come with a touring production. It does stay very true to the London production with its glitzy grand sets. *****The Cast***** The cast were great, ex Coronation Street star, Denise Black plays and good Mother Superior though in all honesty at first I didn't like her portrayal at all, but I did warm to her in the end. Former Brookside actor Michael Starke is Monsignor O'Hara, and playing a fantastic Deloris is Cynthia Erivo. The whole cast were very strong and is full of experienced West End stars. A strong cast who performed excellently. *****Final Thoughts***** I really enjoyed this production. Having seen it twice in London I was looking forward to seeing it again, but also seeing the changes. If its in your area it's a must see if you like uplifting musicals. Ticket prices will vary venue to venue but generally are from £30-£50, for more information check out http://www.sisteractthemusical.com/tour/ 5 Stars!
I have just returned from a couple of days in Oxford and have lots of things I can review from my trip. This is my first, and is a review on The Tree Hotel in Iffley, on the outskirts of Oxford. After reading other reviews I'm going to have a bit more of a structure to my reviews, but I will ramble on none the less! *****Location****** The Tree Hotels is located in the small village of Iffley, which is about 2 miles from the City centre. It was easy to find with the use of Sat Nav, and is located on a quiet road in the main part of the village. You can drive into the City centre fairly easily though my impression is that the main part of the city is quite congested. There is a park and ride system in Oxford which seems to work well. I however chose to walk into the City. You have two choices from the hotel, either walk the slightly shorter route along the main road, or take the scenic route along the river. I chose the latter and after a short stroll from the hotel found myself at the pretty Iffley Lock. From there it was a roughly 40min walk (depending on your pace - mine was fairly relaxed.) along the River Thames and the River Cherwell, into the city centre. It was a lovely walk passing the many college boathouses and watching the students rowing by. In the evening I got a taxi back to the hotel from the city and this cost around £8.60. I give the location 4/5. *****First Impressions and Check In***** The hotel looks well looked after from the outside and has a large car park at the rear. You can either enter the hotel through the bar entrance at the back or through the main hotel entrance. I entered through this door and found myself in a small corridor with a small hatch on the left. The hotel looked in fairness like it could do with a bit of updating décor wise as it generally looked tired. A male member of staff appeared and was taking a phone call. He looked slightly confused at seeing me there and after a while, whilst still on the phone asked me if I needed any help. Explaining I had a room booked he produced the room key and paperwork and explained where the room was and when breakfast was served. At the time he was still on the phone so all was a bit rushed. I made my way up the stairs to my room. I give this section 3/5. *****Room***** The room was an average size for a budget hotel room. It had two single beds, a desk a couple of bedside tables and a chest of drawers. All were in a matching black wood style. There was a TV with freeview channels and a tray with kettle, two cups and saucers and a selection of coffee, tea, UHT milk and sugar. Overall the cleanliness of the room was good. The bedding on the bed was slightly odd with a sheet and possibly the thinnest duvet width wise I have ever seen. It was like a thin strip down the bed with at least a few cm's of bare bed on each side. Very odd! Admittedly the warm was warm so wasn't a major issue, just a bit strange. Also they were a bit tight with then pillows with only one on a bed. I'm sure they would have provided more if asked but, I just took the one from the spare bed. Generally I was happy with the main bedroom. The Bathroom on the other hand was to say the least in fairly poor condition, and could do with a complete redoing. The towel rail was on the floor broken. The general cleanliness was barley ok. The fixtures and fitting defiantly were showing their age, and the bath panel was barely still attached. There were a couple of small bottles of shampoo which was nice. The final bathroom issue was when I returned from my evening out there was a puddle by the toilet which wasn't there when I checked in. I wiped it up with a towel and though no more of it. It had returned by the next morning, but as I was only there for one night I did no more about it. If I was there for longer I would have mentioned it, but in fairness the will have noticed it as it was fairly substantial. One final thought about the room, I feel its important to realise that The Tree is more of a pub with rooms than a full blown hotel. Thursdays is Quiz nights so the bar was fairly noisy till closing time, so if you are a light sleeper maybe avoid Thursdays if you want an early night. I give the room 3/5, would have been higher but the bathroom let it down. *****Breakfast and Other Food***** On checking in I was told breakfast is served in the bar between 7:30am and 8:30am. Now I was a little surprised by this as generally hotels tend to have bit more of a longer breakfast session. Now not only did I find the hour quite a short time period, I also felt it too early. I had been out to the theatre the night before (see my upcoming Sister Act review!) so could have done with a little lie in before the drive home, so could have done with a later breakfast. Breakfast had a small juice and cereal buffet, and a menu for hot food which was ordered with the waitress from your table. There was a selection of omelettes and the typical full English. Tea and coffee is also offered, though strangely when ordering tea a pot of hot water is brought and you have to go back to the buffet bar yourself to get your own teabag. I had poached eggs, bacon, tomato and toast, the eggs bacon and toast were nice, though no choice of type of bread was offered. Looking around people had a range of bread (brown and white) so am guessing you get what the chef randomly decides. The tomato had literally been griddled for about 10 seconds as it was cold and hard, I was hoping for something a bit warmer and softer. Breakfast score 3/5 It's worth nothing they do have what looks like a good evening menu which is varied with a mix of curries and more traditional dishes. If you're interested in that check out their website below for more details. *****Final General Info and Thoughts***** Overall I found this a pleasant enough hotel and suited my budget and needs for one night. If I was going to go to Oxford for longer I would probably go here again if my budget couldn't be stretched any higher, and that is mainly due to the location being so good. My twin room inc breakfast cost £64 through laterooms.com. The hotel address and telephone number is: 63 Church Way, Iffley Village, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX4 4EY 01865 775974 And their website is: http://iffley.treehotel.co.uk/ Overall I give The Tree 3 stars.
Now if I asked what type of person your average National Trust member would be, I'm not sure if you would think of a single man in his early 30's? Well that is me, a fairly newly signed up member. I think it's my nosiness, being able to snoop around houses and other historic buildings, lovingly cared for by the NT and their army of volunteers. Being the person I have just described does have its down points when visiting these properties though, but more on that later. So this morning was a slightly overcast sort of day in the south-east and I decided it was time to make use of my membership once more. A little trip down the A21 was in order to visit the country home of the author Rudyard Kipling. Batemans is a 17th century Jacobean country house, on the outskirts of the village of Burwash, in the glorious Sussex countryside. By the time I had got there the sun was out and I had lovely weather for my trip - another crazy autumn day, as now as I type it is chucking it down outside!!. The journey is a lovely one and mine took me through the pretty villages of Etchingham and Burwash amongst others. The advantage of some of these NT properties being in rural locations is that sometimes the drive can be part of the experience. Batemans is down a little lane from the village and is set in a lovely rolling valley. It has good car parking facilities though they seemed a little small and seemed full when I left. At the entrance there is a ticket booth and toilet facilities, and from there you walk through a lovely garden passing their herb boarders on the way to the main buildings. Down in the main area of buildings there are a number of outbuildings housing, the gift shop, restaurant, and garage where Kipling's Rolls Royce can be found. The Rolls whilst originally being owned by Kipling in recent years has been in the hands of many different people and even used for transporting baby giraffes at Marwell Zoo!, but has been loaned to Batemans by its current owner. The shop sells you regular NT type of gifts from sweets, biscuits, jams etc to books, CD and other gifts. The Tea room was small, but had a good selection of snacks, main meals and of course my favourite, the NT cream tea. £4.50 will get you two freshly baked scones with jam and cream and a pot of tea of coffee. Mmmmmm. Though in complete fairness the best NT scones I have had, and there have been a few, have been at Chartwell (more on that in another review). Just a quick mention on toilets, there are more toilets here by the tea room, and they are clean and well looked after. Right, moving onto the house. The house is set in some lovely formal gardens which have a lovely pond as a centrepiece which is full of fish. Now this is where me as a non stereotypical NT member comes into play. Now let's get this straight there are a lot more younger NT member than before, though when you go round sometimes you do get confused looks from the volunteer stewards who I have found in some properties to be a but stuffy and dare I say snobby. Though at Batemans I couldn't have been better looked after, what a lovely bunch of people, clearly enjoying what they were doing and their enjoyment about sharing the history of the property. They were all very welcoming and informative. The house tour starts in the main hall of the house where you are given a double sided A3 sized map and guide, with things of particular interest to look for in each room. There is a steward as well in each room to offer more help. The hall is a wooden panelled room which leads into a smaller area which has the staircase as well as the parlour and a small sitting room. Both rooms are set out as they were when the house was given to the NT back in 1939 after Mrs Kipling's Death. The Kipling's owned the house from 1902 and Rudyard lived in it until his death in 1936, and most rooms are set up as they would have been back then. All round the house there are reminder of Rudyard's early years in India, as well as scenes from one of his most famous works "The Jungle Book" with bronze and stone pictures and carvings throughout. Upstairs there is a small guest room which has the Kipling's actual bed in. The helpful steward informed me that this was the couple's bed and was moved into this room as their main bedroom is now an exhibition space. All the furniture is on a grand antique scale. The steward informed the Kipling's theory was he had to have furniture which fitted in with the house's style. From there you enter Kipling's study in which he did many of his most well known work including his poem "If..". His messy desk is how it was, and looking out through the window in front of the desk you can see that the views from his window must have been a great source of inspiration as well as to take time out. The main bedroom is now an exhibition with lots of interesting bits and pieces from the Kipling's life at Batemans, as well as more about young Rudyard's life. It also has many excerpts of his work including a copy of the poem "If...". Now I have to admit, apart from the jungle book (and that's mainly down to the Disney film) I didn't know much of Kipling's work, so reading a copy of "If...", was an eye-opener. Basically it is a beautifully worded poem which is actually a guide to life for his son John. If you have never read it I highly recommend looking it up online, it's great. There is a small room devoted to The Jungle Book with original pictures adorning the walls. The final room upstairs is the small children's room. The Kipling's had three children, two girls and a boy, and this is a very sweet room, though at the moment it only has one single bed, so goodness knows how two more beds squeezed in the room. From there you go down some steep stairs to the dining room. Apparently dinner parties at Batemans were known for serving fairly plain food, but they more than made up for that by serving sensational wine!!! Another interesting fact about this room is that the wall "paper" is actually made from calves' skin! From there you leave the house back into the gardens. You can take a stroll down to the mill where on Weds, Sat and Bank Holidays they actually produce their own flour. Its interesting to look round whether they are grinding or not. It's a nice stroll through the meadow and along the River Dudwell. All in all Batemans is a lovely place to spend an hour or two, for all ages and as a member entrance to me was free. There are numerous events throughout the year and today there were half term activity trails round the gardens for families. Current prices are below as found on the NT website: Gift Aid Admission (Standard Admission prices in brackets) March to October: adult £8.60 (£7.80), child £4.30 (£3.90), family £21.50 (£19.50) Please check http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-vh/w-visits/w-findaplace/w-batemans.htm for more info about Batemans including winter opening times, accessibility and special events.
Cider is my choice tipple at the moment. Although it is perceived to be more of a summer drink, I tend to drink it all year round. No over the last few years the cider market has boomed with many different makes and flavours on the market. Obviously we have the likes of the ever so trendy Magners and Bulmers from across the Irish Sea and our own more substantial home grown Wes Country makes. Add to that the supermarket and pub staples like Strongbow and Woodpecker and you have a wide range of ciders to suit all tastes. Now one of my best cider experiences was in Belgium so my heart leapt when I heard the well known lager maker Stella Artois was making a cider ... oops I mean cidre. Let's get this straight Stella does not make CIDER it makes CIDRE! Got it? Clear as mud? Anyway whatever the name of how you say it is what it tastes likes which is the important bit. First off it either comes in 568ml bottles or cans. The bottle which I have in front of me, if a good hefty glass bottle, which is curvier than other cider brands. It has a gold foil covered top with the usual beer style cap. Two gold labels adorn the front and the back of the bottle with the Stella logo and the words "Belgian cider mad with handpicked apples" on it. On the back label It has the usual drink aware warnings and informs us that is has a 4.5% alcohol level, which makes it slightly lower than most ciders which average around the 5-5.5% mark. It is a clear bottle and through it you can see a golden colour, which vaguely reminds me of long life apple juice. Now this is best enjoyed ice cold and as seems to be the fashion at the moment, over some ice. I will admit that it does taste a whole lot better cold and unfortunately the one I'm supping now is at room temperature. It is sparkling as you would expect, but not overly and that I am pleased with. I don't like things to be too gassy. The taste is refreshing and crisp and at the same time smooth. You don't get a too alcoholic taste to it and it is a really pleasant drink. You do have to be careful to remember that you are drinking something alcoholic. So does this help me live my Belgian cider experiences? Well yes kind of. I do like it and it is different to the like of Magners and Bulmers. I wouldn't say it is as good as what I had over there but it is a refreshing alternative to the other ciders available. I don't tend to have a favourite brand so see this as a good one to add to my collection! 4 stars
Haribo has played a big part in my life over the last 6 years. Weird opening? Well I suppose it is. I have been a community youth and children's worker for that period and Haribo Starmix minibags make the perfect prizes for games, party bags etc. Individually packaged in bright blue and clear plastic bags with fun designs on, you get about 10 sweets on average in each bag. These are Haribo classics such as the rings (which can also be used for a great party game - try stretching them until they can fit over your wrist, it can be done!) cherries, gummi bears and my favourites the foamy fried eggs and foamy love hearts. All are your basic small jelly type sweet, which taste great (yes I ate my fair share too!). The pack size s the perfect after school treat and can be brought in multipacks or individually from shops at 10p a bag. The info on the back of the pack says that 100g of Haribo Star mix contains 344 calories and 0.2g fat, but these small bags aren't anywhere near 100g. Can't give you an actual weight as there isn't one on them. Overall a fun treat for all ages, 5 stars.
To fry or not to fry that is the question. In this case it is a NO and the answer is to bake - well ot me personally but you get the idea. I stumbled upon Walkers Baked a few years when I was on a bit of a healthy eating drive. Now I know that crisps in any shape or form aren't ideal but I needed my fix of the salty snack! Not wanting to go too far into the diet food market (the idea of Weight Watchers crisps scare me!) I thought I'd give these a try. So this review s specifically for the Ready Salted Variety. On first inspection it looks like much of the others Walkers crisps with similar colouring and deign. The bright red packet with a picture of a golden crisp is eye catching indeed. Inside the pack you find an almost hexagonal like flat crisp with little ridges. The taste is very different to a regular crisp and they are thicker and crispier in texture. I do prefer the baked taste, it is hard to explain but it tastes more potatoey than regular fried crisps and obviously less greasy. The saltiness is just right for me, but others I know have found it a little too salty for their taste. Walkers make a bold claim on the pace, claiming that their baked varieties are 70% lower in fat than their equivalent varieties which is good news in my books. My 25g pack was part of a 6 pack multi bag and cost me 99p from the well known chain of budget shops "99p Stores" I think thought that you will find these around the same price in most supermarkets and they are usually on offer as well. The pack contains: 98 calories, 1.6g of sugar, 2.0g fat, 0.3g saturates and 0.4g salt. Overall a tasty and slightly healthier snack alternative. 4 stars.
Now I do like a glass of orange juice with my breakfast in the morning and tend to prefer the cheaper supermarket ones, in the longer life section of drinks as oppose to the fresher ones the chiller cabinet. Now I'm not saying that the chilled ones aren't good and hit the spot when needed, its just that although perhaps it's been a long time since these longer life ones have seen an orange, and have been pasteurised to within an inch of their life, I do prefer the tarter flavours than these economy brands can bring. Living further away from a Morrisons than I do from the Tesco's and Sainsbury's, I must admit I don't often get this juice, but when I do I tend to stock up. First off it is really good value at around the 65p mark for a litre. They also sometimes, as mentioned in other reviews two cartons for £1 which is a plus. Second the taste suits my palette really well, and I find this a really refreshing flavour. Admittedly the nutrients that might be in the fresher juices might not be here added to the juice which is made from a concentrate, but everything in moderation I say! In a 250ml service (roughly1/2 pint) there are 84calories, 18.2g sugar (which is close to 20% of a women's recommended daily sugar intake!) and 0.2g of fat interestingly I can't find any notice of Vitamin C though it must have some surely!!! Anyway a good budget buy.
This is a review of the Original London Cast recording of the brand new Ghost - The Musical, which is currently wowing packed audience at the Piccadilly Theatre in the heart of London's West End. For those who are interested you can read my full review of the actual show by looking at my profile to find the review "Does this musical have a Ghost of a chance" A very quick summery of the plot, though this review will focus on the actual CD music. Sam (Richard Fleeshman) and Molly (Cassie Levey) are a young couple in love. All seems to be going well when Sam is murdered in a bungled street robbery. Sam therefore becomes a ghost and at first struggles with his new "life". He finds psychic Oda Mae Browne, who although is a bit of a con artist, can actually hear Sam and agrees to help him warn Molly of the dangers she is facing. The tale is full of twists and turns and I would highly recommend seeing the film or show to find out the whole story. Now onto the CD I will breakdown the CD track by track, but generally due to the input of Eurythmics star Dave Stewart, it has an electro pop kind of feel about it, with hints of classical and musicals feels at times too. With any musical generally there is a musical hook which runs throughout most songs. Here there is the classic Everley Brothers Track Unchained Melody which there are nods too in various ways throughout, as well as parts of the firs main song "here right now" and other piano riffs. Overture: The overture starts with a haunting piano and cello in a piece of music which plays around Unchained Melody before bringing in huge guitars and horns to provide a stirring opening to the CD Here Right Now: Classic pop songs style duet between Sam and Molly. Upbeat and gives an insight into the hopefulness of our young couple. They did release this as a single. Find it on YouTube if you want to hear it. Unchained Melody: This track starts off with a minor argument between the two stars, leading to an impromptu guitar solo of this classic song from Sam. Which slowly builds to a romantic musical moment with a little Elvis impression thrown in for good measure! The ending is stunning full of piano and strings More: An upbeat song which is there to describe the hustle of bustle of the financial world in New York where Sam works. Again fairly poppy, but with more grit and depth than before. Big guitars and drums, but with typical musical harmonies. Three little words: An argument in song! A discussion about the use of the words I Love You. A wonderful duet with plenty of strings and piano used. And a really good two part "argument" brings the song to a conclusion. Sam's Murder: Bit tricky to really gage what is going on unless you have seen the show. It starts with an argument between Sam's murderer and dramatic music is used to good effect. After the gunshot it turns to more of a choral mix with dramatic film style strings as we follow Molly's journey with Sam into hospital. Though by this time Sam is already dead and is a ghost. Ball of Wax: On first listen this appears quite random, but trust me on stage it works. A kind of trad-jazz ragtime number when Sam is realising he is a ghost. One of the weaker songs though. I Can't Breath: With the realisation he is dead, Sam bursts in with this highly charged dramatic pop rock almost ballad number which is full of anger and hurt. Are You A Believer: Our first meeting with Oda Mae Brown. This lively gospel fuelled track is full of typical gospel style organs, guitars and pace. A lively and fun song which ends with the realisation that she really can hear Sam. With You: Molly's songs now turn into ballad style songs about her loss. This one is full of meaningful lyrics and tear jerking music. Suspend My Disbelief/I Had A Life: A bit of action I this one. After meeting the psychic, Molly meets with Sam's best friend to tell him that she is going to the police with the info she has been given. The spoken words are backed up with music and in the middle turns into an angry song from Sam's best friend Carl. From there Sam and Molly sing a line from "here right now" over the top, then the big twist in the story is revealed. This turns into the Act 1 finale, in which the three characters sing their own parts of songs which mix perfectly, much like the Les Mis Act one ending. It's a very powerful ending to the fist act and is just as powerful on CD Rain/Hold On: The Act 2 opener is a moody opener, where Molly finds out Oda Mae might not be all she says. The song is a angry rock number which lead into a song where Sam expresses how much he still needs Molly. And move into a desperate power ballad full of emotion Life Turns On A Dime: A cutesy style pop song with a sinister undertone. Although the song at times sounds like typical boy band fodder, the dark sneaky lyrics where Sam's friend tries to make a move on Molly is played out and sung very well. Focus: My least favourite track on the CD, though again with the action going on stage it is amazing, but just listening, I tend to skip this one. An angry rap and drum style song, which focuses on Sams need to focus on things if he wants to move object. A very loud and angry song. Talking 'Bout A Miracle: On the CD this blends in effortlessly from the last track. This takes place in Oda's psychic shop. And is sun by the ghosts trying to get messages through to their loved ones. The song is pleasant enough, typical musical fayre, nothing special though. Nothing Stops Another Day: Another Molly ballad. Typical ballad about moving on. Nice safe song. I'm Outta Here: Oda's big number and it's a cracker. Back to the gospel/rock and roll style vibe about her spending $10,000,000. The music plays second fiddle to the lyrics which are comedic genius places, the sneaky Whitney Houston comment is genius! Uplifting and fun. Unchained Melody (dance)/The Love inside: The final track is stunning starting off with a lovely split part version of Unchained melody, followed by Sam's final departing into heaven. Sam finally says "I Love You" in a moving sting filled ending. This is culminated with a final flourish of music which is much like the overture, and finished the CD in a Spectacular way. This CD really brings the show into you homes, cars etc. If you haven't seen it on stage it will make you want to go, if you have seen it, it will make you want to go again. Great musical score and lyrics gives this a high 4 stars, with the slight drop due to the couple songs I don't really like!
I am a huge fan of the Aero Mint chocolate bars, so when I saw these little balls of chocolaty goodness I knew I had to give them a try. They are packaged appealingly in an eye catching mint green and white colour scheme, with the familiar Aero style writing and pictures of the sweets with some cut in half to show you the inside of the chocolates. The packaging also invites you to "feel the bubbles", I'm assuming the mean as they melt on your tongue which they do in a delicious way when you eat them. The actual chocolates are around your average size for a sweet of this nature and are a perfect mouth sized morsel. They are made by Nestle and the actual chocolate is nice, nothing amazing just nice. The inside is the lovely bubbly mint filling you get in the bars and is by far my favourite part. It's a creamy and quite refreshing minty taste and the bubbles almost fizz away on your tongue. I do recommend sucking them slowly to get this effect rather than just chomping on them. I paid around 56p for my small 35g bag. A 35g bag has 195 calories and 11g of fat in them so a once in a while treat. The packaging also highlights that they contain no artificially colours, flavours of preservatives. A 4 star bubbly treat!
Now a review about sparkling water isn't going to be the most exciting and in depth review in the world, but in the world of consumer reviews everything deserves to have an opinion written about it, even humble fizzy water. This is Sainsbury's own brand of sparkling mineral water, and currently retails at around 40p for a 2L bottle. In our house we tend to get ours in the 500ml multipacks which make them perfect for picnics and packed lunches and a refreshing alternative to sugary fizzy drinks. Now fizzy water isn't to everyone's taste but I do find it refreshing and if kept cold it is lovely. Sparkling water which has gone warm in the sun though isn't good though so try and keep is cool. This particular water is from the Campsie Hills in Scotland and has a refreshing taste. I do think it is slightly fizzier than other similar products. For those who like their mineral facts in 1L of this product there is Calcium <55mg; Potassium <2mh; Magnesium <16mg; Sodium <15mg; Bicarbonate <240mg; Sulphate <28mg; Nitrate <6mg; Chloride <11mg and has a pH level of 4.6. Now admittedly I have no idea what that means and I copied it straight from the bottle, but with these reviews info seems to be the key! As far as I am concerned it tastes good on its own or mixed with other drinks and is good value at the price. 4 stars.
I'm going to start this review with a pretty bold and controversial comment - Us Brits make the best chocolate in the world. Now I have tried American, South African and many other countries version of the brown delight, but whether you are a Cadbury fan or a Mars brand fan we win hands down in the world chocolate league. For those who love the Mars brand of chocolate and in particular the famous Mars Bar, the new variation on this theme are Mars Planets. These are small round chocolate sweets with a mixture of three centres in the packet. Soft Centre: This is a fluffy nougat type filling, much like the fluffy filling in a original mars bar. This gives a lovely mars bar type feel to these sweets. Crispy Centre: This is a crunchy mix between a Malteeser type centre and a biscuit type centre, which is nice and crunchy with a malty taste. Chewy Centre: This is a lovely smooth and silky chewy caramel, harder than in a regular mars bar but tastier in my opinion. Individually these are nice but mix and match them in your mouth and you get a much better experience in my opinion. I like these chocolates and see them as a nice alternative to the mars bar when you want something different. 4 Stars from me. Now the info. I paid 56p for my 36g pack. There 179 calories per pack and 8.3g of fat. So fairly calorific for a small bag, but like all sweet treats, once in a while in moderation is fine.