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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 ...

Kazuri Beads Factory, Nairobi 30/08/2016

Keep Your Beady Eyes on This!

Kazuri Beads Factory, Nairobi KAZURI BEADS Introduction Regular Ciaoers may well have gathered by now that I went on holiday to Kenya this year. I visited a friend who has been living out here, and she suggested that the Kazuri Beads factory was a place I would find interesting. What she didn’t mention was the potential cost to my wallet, after I’d been in the shop! Where is it? The factory and shop is situated in the Karen district, a suburb of Nairobi, an affluent area often favoured by ex-pats and UN /NGO staff. They do have gift shops in other parts of the city and even sell internationally (see below). Some tour companies do offer a stop over here whilst visiting nearby attractions such as the elephant orphanage, giraffe sanctuary or Karen Blixen museum, otherwise you may need private transport. The Tour The factory is open Monday-Friday , 9-4.30pm from memory. It is also open Saturday mornings to 1pm, although the shop is open all day. I believe they are closed on Sundays. Tours are free. As we pulled up into the small car park we were greeted by the lovely Caroline With Amazing Hair (we tended just to call her Caroline for short). She took us into the factory and gave us a talk about the origins of the company. Kazuri means “small and beautiful” in Swahili and the company was founded in 1975 by Lady Susan Wood as an initiative for single mothers. There is no welfare state in Kenya, so a single mother is dependent on her family for support. Invariably, as a disadvantaged member of society ...

Masai Mara National Park (Kenya) 25/08/2016

Masses of Mammals in the Mara

Masai Mara National Park (Kenya) MASAI MARA NATIONAL PARK, KENYA Introduction I was lucky enough to go to Kenya this year for my holiday, as I have a friend who moved out there. She has visited the Masai Mara National Reserve many times, both before and during her tenure in the capital city of Nairobi and was keen to show myself and another friend the area via a safari. The Mara is situated in the south of the country, with the border for Tanzania. Basically the Mara is a continuation of the Serengeti (Tanzania) and has the same eco systems. Animals roam freely across the borders of course. The reserve itself is some 1500 square kilometres. There are a number of health and safety rules within the park, and there are rangers around to enforce them. They also help prevent poaching. Getting Here We flew from Nairobi via Safarilink, Air Kenya also fly down here. Planes are small 12 seater Cessnas. Prices vary depending on route and time of year but I would consider this option if your budget allows – Allow US$150-200 (£115-150) per leg. The flight is about 40-60 mins depending on where you go as there are a number of small airstrips in the region. The plane may make other stops before yours, but it is great seeing the animals from the air. You can book direct or via your tour operator who is arranging your accommodation. I booked through Gamewatchers Safaris , which is why I cannot be sure of the exact price paid. You can also travel down by road, which would take 4-6 hours. Kenyan roads, especially out ...

Porini Mara Camp, Masai Mara 22/08/2016

Magnificent Mara Camp

Porini Mara Camp, Masai Mara Porini Mara Camp Introduction I visited Kenya for my holiday this year, as a friend of mine moved out there a few years ago. She had stayed in the Masai Mara several times, sometimes before she lived in the country. Since her arrival she has stayed at a different Porini camp (Lion Camp) but myself and another friend who was visiting her wanted to experience two different camps, as this one was in driving distance of the other camp we all agreed this was a good one to try, in keeping costs down with internal flights. Porini and the Conservancy concept Porini camps are managed (and owned) by Gamewatchers Safaris, a company specialising in safari packages. Founded by Jake Grieves-Cook, a white Kenyan in 1989 the company specialises in eco-glamping safaris, leaving the minimum amount of footprint to protect the wildlife and eco-systems, whilst allowing wildlife fans to see the wildlife in its natural habitat. They tend to operate their camps in conservancies attached to several of Kenya’s National Parks and Reserves. Conservancies in the Mara (of which there are several) are on indigenous Masai land but outside of the Government run (and profiting) Reserves. Here the local people get to benefit from Safari tourism through joint land use agreements, with the safari companies paying an annual rent, as well as a daily fee per visitor. The conservancies remain exclusive for their guests. Those staying at other conservancies or in the main reserve, do not get to come in to ...

The Talisman, Nairobi 19/08/2016

Tasty Talisman

The Talisman, Nairobi The Talisman Introduction Whilst recently on holiday in Kenya, visiting a friend, she suggested we all go to Talisman, which is a popular restaurant in the Karen district of Nairobi. I looked it up on TripAdvisor and found that it was one of Nairobi’s top restaurants with regular reviews of 4 and 5 stars, so was happy to try here. The restaurant bill’s itself as a Gastrolounge, which sounds a bit pretentious if I’m honest but I didn’t let that put me off. Arrival The suburb of Karen (named after Karen Blixen from Out of Africa) is rather affluent, leafy and tranquil. It is very much an ex-pat suburb, the UN have offices near here and many Americans, Japanese and Europeans live in the area. The area also has a number of white Kenyans, mostly descendants of British colonials. Nairobi doesn’t really have a public transport network, just a confusing system of unmarked matatu minibuses that probably aren’t safe for Mzungu (white people), even if you could work out where they are going, therefore you will need private transport such as a taxi. We ate on a Saturday lunchtime with two friends of my friend, making a party of five. We had a round table outside, but as it was winter it was petty cold. According to our phones it was 22 degrees, but it is a lot colder than 22 degrees in the UK, and was overcast and we ate in jackets and cardigans. They do provide jikos – frog shaped charcoal burners which are portable and provide extra heat once they get going. Décor and ...

Summer 2016: where will you be going and which products will you take with you? 01/08/2016

Kenya Bound

Summer 2016: where will you be going and which products will you take with you? Summer 2016: where will you be going and which products will you take with you? Woo Hoo!!! Summer! I usually end up going away in August as it is a quiet time of year for my company, which is a shame as it is often quite an expensive time to go on holiday. I like to try to go to different places but I don’t always plan so far in advance as I have recently. In the last few years I have had a few family members and friends move abroad temporarily so I have taken the opportunity to visit them whilst they are there. Two years ago I went to Azerbaijan and last year I went to a wedding in Turkey. This year I am going to visit a friend who is teaching in Kenya, I didn’t want to wait any longer just in case she decides to come back or move elsewhere. I decided this about two years ago when she told me she was moving out there, so I have had this holiday in the back of my mind for ages. I finally booked the flights back in February and we planned our safari. We are going to a couple of conservancies in the Maasai Mara game reserve where we will be ‘glamping’ in pre-set up tents with lights and running water and the rest of the time we will be sightseeing in Nairobi and around where my friend lives. I am very much looking forward to the safari and have my fingers crossed for lots of lovely animal spots. There is no electricity sockets within the tent . There is a place to charge things on site, but I may use my Duracell back up battery pack for this occasion ...

Johnson's Make Up Be Gone Refreshing Wipes 28/07/2016

Refresh and Remove

Johnson's Make Up Be Gone Refreshing Wipes JOHNSON’S® =Johnson's Makeup Be Gone Refreshing Wipes Introduction I am usually very disciplined when it come sto removing my make up and take the time to use a dedicated face wash or scrub. Occassionally, when I go away or it has got late I will cheat and use a face wipe. I don’t find them as effective as washing properly with a face cloth and a dedicated facial cleanser, but on certain occasions they are better than nothing. I find if I use them too often then my skin does suffer. I am not loyal to any brand, buying whichever is on offer in the supermarket or chemists. Johnson & Johnson Johnson & Johnson are an established family company that were founded in the USA in the late 1880s. They make all sorts of health products for all the family, especially baby products and specialist products for healthcare professionals. They have had a UK facility since 1924. Disappointingly the company does not have a great ethical policy, especially as regarding animal testing. They do test on animals within the healthcare/medicine sector but current EU laws prohibit the sale of beauty products that have been tested on animals. However where the law requires testing (for example in China) they still test, whereas some companies prefer to sell elsewhere. Price and Availability My most recent wipes were purchased when I was browsing in my local Waitrose and they had a number of competitive offers on. This pack was just £2. Compared to Boots which had a ‘2 for £5’ offer and an RRP ...
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