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Visit as a tourist or live as a local: how do you like to spend your time abroad? 22/02/2017

Spend it How You Like

Visit as a tourist or live as a local: how do you like to spend your time abroad? Visit as a tourist or live as a local: how do you like to spend your time abroad? We all like to take a well needed holiday from time to time, but what kind of holiday-maker are you? Are you one to indulge in lavish delights luxury hotels have to offer? Or do you prefer to immerse yourself in the culture and live like a true local? Introduction I love holidays, and travel is my favourite thing (although I am more about the destination than the journey). I find this is a strange question as “a bit of both” is the real answer as, for me, I like to explore the town/region I am staying in but don’t always have the luxury of time to ‘live’ anywhere. Accommodation One of the sub parts of the second question is “Are you one to indulge in lavish delights luxury hotels have to offer?” Whilst I am not adverse to a luxury hotel, I prefer to spend my holidays a different way and travel around a country/region to explore, so for me location is more important than a gym or pool and I tend to spend my budget on experiences that I may not get elsewhere, rather than a hotel with a spa. I am happy to self-cater, especially if staying put for a longer period of time, so food purchases don’t get wasted (not always practical if you are on the move). Grocery shopping in a local supermarket is always interesting, even if you are not quite sure what some things are! AirBnB obviously gives more options these days, and makes it easier to find places in local’s homes for shorter stays. ...

John Frieda Frizz Ease Moisture Barrier Hair Spray 20/02/2017

Flexible and non-Frizzy.

John Frieda Frizz Ease Moisture Barrier Hair Spray John Frieda Frizz Ease Moisture Barrier Flexible Hold Hairspray Introduction I’d already had a bottle of Silvikrin hairspray sitting on my dressing table for years and I didn’t think it did a great job even when I remembered to use it. When I saw this one I decided to try it, as I was familiar with the brand and I liked the ‘moisture barrier’ idea as I was likely to be using the product after using heated styling products, although I am rarely troubled with frizz. John Frieda John Frieda is a British ‘celebrity’ hair stylist who has developed a number of hair-care ranges such as those designed specifically for certain hair colours (Brilliant Brunette, Sheer Blonde etc), and the Frizz-Ease range for those plagued by frizzy hair issues. These days the company is owned by the Kao Corporation. I googled them to discover they are one of the World’s most ethical companies (according to their own website and a 2013 report from However gives JF 2/10 due to lack of healthy ingredients (I am not going to eat my hairspray, but I would prefer less dodgy chemicals in the atmosphere). The Good Shopping Guide also has them rated as poor due to animal welfare practices and suitability for vegetarians. Ethical Consumer gives JF/ Kao 7.5/10 marking them down on animal testing, tax avoidance and toxic chemicals. As a point of interest this is a lot higher than other high street brands on a similar price point available in the same retailers. ...

Mambo Italia, Nairobi 14/02/2017

Mambo in Nairobi

Mambo Italia, Nairobi MAMBO ITALIA Introduction During a recent holiday to Kenya, I spent a few days in Nairobi staying with a friend who moved out there. Mambo Italia is an Italian restaurant that was nearby to her home, and one of her favourites. Whilst ‘360 pizza’ (already reviewed) was generally claimed to be the restaurant with the best pizza in Nairobi, she preferred this one. Where is it? Mambo Italia has three branches in Nairobi. Address: Lavington Curve, James Gichuru Rd., Nairobi. Reservations: Call 0771 288 640. Lavington Curve is a shopping mall in the Lavington suburb of the city, most restaurants and shops are situated in shopping centres for ease of access. No one walks in Nairobi, especially after dark. As is standard, your car will be checked upon arrival by security, and you will also have to walk through a metal detector. Unlike many other shopping centres, this one doesn’t charge for parking (at least not in the evenings) but it is quite small. Décor and Ambience The restaurant is on an upper level and it very utilitarian by design. There were some outside seating but I was feeling cold, so we sat inside. There are big floor to ceiling windows (it was dark so the view wasn’t great), wood beam ceilings and felt very spacious. The tables and chairs were wooden and simple, there was no fancy detailing, it was all very casual and low-key. Behind me was a large open plan cooking area so you could watch the staff at work, if you were facing that way. The clientele were a ...

Kneipp Herbal Bath Devil's Claw Back Comfort 08/02/2017

Getting Naked With the Devil

Kneipp Herbal Bath Devil's Claw Back Comfort Kneipp Devils Claw Back Comfort Herbal Bath INTRODUCTION I don’t bath that often – don’t wrinkle your nose, I tend to shower! Whilst I like the idea, I am not very good at making time for myself for things like this, and tend to sit in the bath thinking of all the things I really should be doing rather than relaxing with candles and whale song. I received this in a beauty box last year and it got relegated as I was using a different bath product at the time. I don’t have specific back issues but I do find my shoulders are prone to get tense and knotty, so thought this maybe something that could help it, if I could ever convince myself to relax in the bath for long enough. I also have ‘knees’ – (I know most of us do!), but I have a tendency to stiff and painful knee joints on occasion and particularly during the winter. KNEIPP Kneipp are not a company I am familiar with, they are apparently a German company founded in 1891. Sebastian Kneipp, a priest, was a 19th pioneer of natural medicine and apparently cured himself of tuberculosis! His philosophy surrounded nutrition, exercise and life balance. He was an advocate of water and plant based cures. The company he co-founded (and took his name) claims to maintain these traditional values, whilst being a modern, global company. They now sell throughout Europe and the Far East as well as New Zealand and the USA. For obvious reasons, sustainability and a minimal carbon footprint remain important to the company. They buy ...

Kitengela Hot Glass Factory, Nairobi 01/02/2017

Turn Left at The Zebras

Kitengela Hot Glass Factory, Nairobi KITENGELA HOT GLASS During my recent trip to Kenya, I spent a few days in Nairobi with a friend who has moved out there. One of the places she suggested going to was KitEngela Hot Glass , a glassblowing facility and art gallery based outside Nairobi. It sounded very quirky, so I was keen to visit. I’d also seen her amazing wine glasses that she had bought, and I was tempted to try and get some. Getting Here Sadly this isn’t easy. You will need your own transport to get here and it isn’t in central Nairobi and the roads for the last part are very poor, so a normal car may struggle (especially after rains), a four-wheel-drive car is ideal, but my friend didn’t have one of those, and her friends who did were out of town. We decided to drive to the suburb of Karen which was nearest to the location and park up in one of the malls and get a taxi to take us. However whilst the taxi driver insisted he knew where it was, it turned out he didn’t. The important thing to note is that Kitengela Hot Glass isn’t actually in the town of Kitengela! You need to turn off 16km before. According to the map we’d picked up in one of their shops , you need to turn left when you see zebras. We didn’t actually see any, although I am unsure if it was because they weren’t there, I wasn’t looking, or we were coming a different way. Basically our 45 mins taxi ride took us three hours as the taxi driver said there was an accident and the road was closed, therefore we needed to circumnavigate half of ...

Cameras or smart phones: how do you capture magical moments? 25/01/2017


Cameras or smart phones: how do you capture magical moments? In an era where phones are no longer devices from which we simply make calls, special moments can be remembered forever with the tap of a finger. Yet, can these smartphones compete with the equally progressive quality of cameras? Cameras or smart phones: how do you capture magical moments? My First Camera I received my first film camera (second hand) from a family friend as a child and I used this for sporadic photos of friends and family days out. Like most people I would send the films off in an envelope to be developed or took them into the local chemists. Of course there were the usual assortment of blurred photos, edges of fingers or camera straps. I only ever had two or three film cameras, as they lasted well and didn’t get broken or dropped before graduating onto digital. Digital Cameras My first digital camera was a compact Sony and it was lovely to have something so light and versatile, although its functionality is less so than ones we get today. It used to get taken away with me and on days out and I probably used it slightly more than my old film camera (you didn’t have to worry that you hadn’t packed enough film, just that it had enough charge and memory space) but still something that I used only occasionally, not something then came out and about with me everyday. When this died (I think the flash went) I decided to upgrade to a Canon hybrid camera – more functionality than a compact, greater zoom, but without the faff of changing lenses – as I wanted to ...

Neal's Yard Remedies Neal's Yard Geranium & Orange Hand Cream 19/01/2017

Smelling Sweet

Neal's Yard Remedies Neal's Yard Geranium & Orange Hand Cream Neal's Yard Remedies Neal's Yard Geranium & Orange Hand Cream Introduction I got this hand cream ages ago, as part of a free gift with a magazine. At the time I was also getting a lot of beauty boxes so was actually awash with hand creams. This doesn’t worry me to much as they always get used up if they are good. This particular one ended up coming to work with me and sitting on my desk awaiting me to get through the dregs of a Crabtree & Evelyn hand cream that had preceded it. Neal’s Yard Neal’s Yard is a an established British brand on natural bodycare. Founded in 1981 in Covent Garden they led the charge in natural, non-synthetic products since then. I have long been familiar with them and an admirer of their essential oil based products but they tended to price me out. They now have over 50 dedicated stores in the UK, many of which offer various massage and facial therapies. Price and Availability The hand cream has an RRP of £10 for 50ml, which is more than I usually pay for a hand cream. I have seen offers on eBay (possibly other full size samples no one wants). Stockists include department stores like John Lewis or Fenwicks but mostly it is independent gift and health stores. Check their website for details: My thoughts The hand cream comes in a classic shaped tube and can stand on its own lid. The tube is dark blue and lilac in colour, which fits in with other products in the Neal’s yard range. ...

Ancestry DNA Test 05/01/2017

Who Do I Think I Am?

Ancestry DNA Test INTRODUCTION A couple of years ago I went to a fascinating exhibition about a million years of humans in Britain at The Natural History museum. It was interesting to learn about the different types of ‘human’ who came to our shores over time and at the end of the exhibition they had a short film where they DNA tested some minor celebrities (Bill Bailey, Clive Anderson, Maggie Aderin-Pocock to name three) to see the route their ancestors had travelled to come to the UK. I was intrigued and really wanted to find this out for myself but the hefty £99 price tag put me off. The company that did it was National Geographic. I have been doing my family tree for many years now. It is something that tweaked my interest many years ago for a school project and I have been a member of Ancestry, the family tree website, for many years and this can be an expensive hobby. I’d done really well and got back many generations but began to struggle when I reached a period prior to records being available online. On my mother’s side of the family no one travelled any further than Suffolk it seemed, and most of my Dad’s side were loyal to East London. However back then, as now, East London was a diverse community of working class people and I found some links to Ireland (a 3x great grandmother) and Italy (a 4x great grandfather). Ancestry Ancestry are the primary online research for genealogists. There are some free records available online, but also you need to pay them to access others. It ...

Highgate House, Creaton 19/12/2016

Country Stay at Highgate House

Highgate House, Creaton Introduction I was attending a social event at Highgate House hotel in Northamptonshire one Saturday evening, and included in the price was a night at the hotel and breakfast, as well as use of the facilities. This review is based on my experience of my one night stay. The hotel is ideally set up for conferences, functions and weddings. It was originally a 17th century manor house in beautiful grounds, but modern extensions and blocks have been added to it. Wandering around inside the main building will bring you to some beautiful traditional drawing rooms, hall and a library, with top end modern conference facilities attached. Price This is a tricky one as prices depend on the time of year you wish to visit, if you are staying on a weekend or weekday and how far in advance you book. I booked through a third party so my room price was lumped into the event price, but a spot check on their website shows that a non-refundable Saturday night stay with breakfast starts at £90 per night for a double room. This of course varies depending on the time of year, and how far in advance you book. Where is it and What Can I do? Highgate House Hotel, Glasshouse Lane, Kenilworth, CV8 2A The hotel is in a village just outside Northampton, you would need a car to get here as it is right in the countryside. On the drive through you will spot a lot of brown signs directing you to various tourist attractions. We actually stopped of at Bletchley Park (home of the WW2 codebreakers and ...

BaByliss 2667U CURL Secret 21/10/2016

The Secret to my Curls

BaByliss 2667U CURL Secret Introduction After several years I eventually got the hang of giving myself some curls courtesy of my GHD hair straighteners. I got quicker at it and was pleased with the results. However about a year ago I was away with friends for the weekend and one of my friends had brought this contraption. I had a go and found I could use it from the off, what's more the curls were better and lasted longer. I resisted purchasing one as they are quite pricey, before eventually giving in and buying one second had via E-Bay. Babyliss I am sure anyone who has ever wandered into the hair appliance section of any large Boots branch or similar will be familiar with the company name. They make hairdryers, straighteners, tongs, heated rollers and similar as well as men’s clippers and beard trimmers. However the company’s website is rather reticent about its background so I did a bit more digging (or rather I scrolled a bit further down the results list in Google) and discovered they were founded in 1961 in Paris. I read that it is estimated that 80% of French household’s have a Babyliss appliance. They have been part of the Conair group since 1995 (US founded multi-national). In the Box You have the Curl Secret appliance, a velour bag (apparently heat resistant inside) and a manual. The manual says there should be a heat resistant mat in the set, but as I bought second hand, I didn’t receive it, so cannot comment on it. I use the bag inside out when I am away from home, or my own mat ...

Haandi Restaurant, Nairobi 12/10/2016

A Haandi Indian Restaurant

Haandi Restaurant, Nairobi Introduction Haandi is an Indian restaurant in Nairobi, Kenya and I visited it whilst staying with a friend who now lives in the city. She had eaten there before and thought it one of the better Indian restaurants she had eaten in during her time in the city, but noted that it was also slightly pricier. So one evening we decided to make a bit of effort and get dressed up to go here. Where is it? Haandi apparently also have branches in the UK and four branches in Nairobi. We visited the one in The Mall at Westlands. Westlands is a centrally located suburb in Nairobi and is easy to get to by car (I don’t recommend coming here by public transport other than a private taxi or Uber). You can access the restaurant directly from the multi-storey carpark, so you don’t have to go into the mall itself. There may be another entrance, but I am not sure. Décor and Atmosphere The restaurant is a lot more formal than your typical UK local curry house. It is more contemporary in style, and due to its location in a shopping centre, can lack a little bit of atmosphere with its low ceilings. However they have done out the space available very well, utilising pillars to give the impression of privacy and making the restaurant appear more intimate, when actually it is quite big. All tables are covered in table clothes and have fabric placemats and the ubiquitous hot plates will appear when the time is right. As is typical in Kenya, your wine is served in special curved tumblers, rather ...

David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Nairobi 26/09/2016

Who Wants to See Some Baby Elephants?

David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Nairobi DAVID SHELDRICK WILDLIFE TRUST Introduction The Wildlife Trust has been founded to help orphaned, lost or abandoned baby elephants and rhinos in Kenya. You can visit the trust and see the orphans for yourself (should you be in Kenya), at their location on the outskirts of Nairobi’s National Park. I’m a sucker for a baby animal, so was keen to visit here. Who? The trust was actually founded by Dr Dame Daphne Sheldrick in 1977 in honour of the late husband David, a naturalist who worked for over 20 years in Kenya’s National Parks and was founding Warden of Tsavo East National Park. It is now run by their daughter Angela, although I understand that Daphne is still chairperson. Where? You will need a car to get here, Kenya doesn’t really do much in the way of public transport. It is on the edge of the Nairobi National Park, look out for the KWS Central Workshop Gate, off Magadi Rd, Nairobi, Kenya. Kenya doesn’t have postmen so there is no postal addresses and physical addresses are a bit vague as there don’t have any need for postcodes. As I recall it was close to the Multimedia University, so keep an eye out for that. Magadi Road is in quite good condition, but the road to the car park by the orphanage is full of holes. It is open 11am-noon everyday (except Christmas Day) to the public with a minimum donation of US$7 or Ksh 500 (£3.75). If you are a foster parent (more about that later) then you can come at 5pm by appointment to visit your foster offspring. There is ...

360 Degrees Pizza, Nairobi 16/09/2016

Best Pizza in Nairobi?

360 Degrees Pizza, Nairobi 360 Degrees Pizza Introduction Having arrived back in Nairobi, from our safari in the Masai Mara, my friends and I had been out and about all day, and remembered we hadn’t been food shopping (we’d done quite well on the souvenir shopping front though) so decided to head out for a pizza as we were ready to flop after an early start game viewing. This restaurant is a popular and well regarded pizza restaurant, with traditional ovens. Where is it? CONTACT: 0700 360 360 Address: ABC Place, Waiyaki Way, Nairobi, Kenya. It is within a small shopping area, and as with all the malls in Nairobi, security is tight and your car will be thoroughly searched on arrival. The restaurant is on the edge of the car-park and there was no bag-search as there would be if you were going into a main shopping centre. First Impressions The restaurant describes itself as ‘upscale casual’ and I think this is quite an apt description. The restaurant is light and airy with high ceilings. Décor is simple and casual with dark wood tables and floor. Seating is banquette style or padded wooden chairs . Large windows open to the front to the outside area. We actually sat outside although I was a bit concerned as it was winter in Kenya. Whilst not quite a British winter, it was one of those days when you wouldn’t want to sit outside in a British summer either. There was a heater though, which did warm up as we sat there. We didn’t really have a view outside, just the car park and other side of the open ...

Rimmel Insta Flawless Primer 07/09/2016

Insta Acceptable

Rimmel Insta Flawless Primer Rimmel London Insta Flawless Primer Introduction As a reviewer on the invitation only Amazon Vine program I occasionally get some beauty products to try in return for an impartial review. Getting low on my old Clinique primer (which I had already planned not to continue with) I decided to get this product to try and I have liked Rimmel make up products I have had in the past. Rimmel Eugene Rimmel (born 1820) the son of a respected French perfumer helped establish the House of Rimmel, with his father, in London in 1834. He helped develop cosmetics and other beauty and personal products. His sons carried on the business, expensing the eye-make up offering until after the Second World War when the company was sold to the Caplins, who owned a London advertising agency, who modernised the brand. Going through several owners it was acquired by Coty in 1996. Coty itself is a long established French perfumery brand, which now owns over 40 brands and sells to over 40 countries. Rimmel (in accordance with current EU law – which I hope continues after Brexit) does not test or ask others to test their products or ingredients on animals, EXCEPT where required by law. However they do sell their products in China, where the law dictates that all cosmetic products sold must be tested on animals. So whilst any products we buy in the UK may have not been tested, the company itself prefers profits from the lucrative Chinese market, rather then ethics. Packaging This comes in a simple ...

Porini Lion Camp, Masai Mara 02/09/2016

Lovely Lion Camp

Porini Lion Camp, Masai Mara Porini Mara Camp NB: If you have already read my Mara camp review you will find some information here is very similar – I have re-written a lot of it but prices are the same, however my experience is different. Introduction A few years ago a friend of mine moved out to Nairobi in Kenya for work, and has visited the Masai Mara Reserve several times, so when I arranged to visit her this year, I knew exactly where I wanted to go, having had photo envy from her amazing pictures. She had stayed in the Porini Lion camp before, so recommended it, we also visited Porini Mara Camp (see separate review) nearby. We stayed here for two nights. Porini and the Conservancy concept Porini have been going for over 25 years, founded by Jake Grieves-Cook, a white Kenyan, and is part of his company called Gamewatchers Safaris who organise bespoke safaris in their eco-camping sites. The sites are far from basic however, but the emphasis is in protecting the animals, the ecology and working with the native Masai people. The camps are based in conservancies that out-lie the National Reserve (which is government owned) and are based around several parks in Kenya Porini operate several camps in the Mara, in two different conservancies. The land is owned by the Masai and they lease it to the safari companies through a joint land use agreement which also allows them to graze their livestock in other parts of the conservancy, whilst benefiting financially from the camps ‘rents’ and daily ...
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