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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 ...

Johnson's Cotton Buds 25/07/2016


Johnson's Cotton Buds JOHNSON’S® Baby Cotton Buds Introduction Like most people, cotton buds are a staple in my bathroom. I don’t always buy these Johnson’s Cotton buds (which is what we used at home when I was growing up) buying a massive multipack from the Pound Shop or from Lidl. The problem with these were that they were not as sturdy nor was the cotton covering as even (some buds had more cotton than others, some were more thin). Hence whilst out in Boots recently I picked up a tub of these instead. Johnson & Johnson A long established household brand that many are already familiar with, it was founded by three brothers (the Johnsons’ you won’t be surprised to discover) in 1886 in New Jersey, USA. They initially focused on first aid kits and antiseptic items, with the baby range (such as the famous baby powder) launched in 1894. This was followed by the first mass produced women’s sanitary products, dental floss and Band-Aid plasters. They moved to the UK in 1924 and other pasts of the world in the coming decades, continuing with product expansion and acquisition of other firms such as Pfizer. Price and Availability I paid £1.05 for 200 buds in Boots the other day. A pack of 100 was only slight less (95p) so this was the better deal. Other stockists include Superdrug and all the major supermarkets and it seems £1 is about typical for this size. Packaging They come in a cardboard ‘drum’ with a plastic lid (secured with a little bit of tape when you first buy them). The lid is easy ...

Johnson's Makeup Be Gone Moisturising Wipes 22/07/2016


Johnson's Makeup Be Gone Moisturising Wipes JOHNSON’S® Makeup Be Gone Moisturising Wipes Introduction For most occasions I am very good and use a face wash or scrub to properly remove my make up at the end of the day. Occasionally if I’ve had a late night and/or the worse for wear, I use face wipes as a quicker alternative to removing make up. I also take them away for short breaks when I don’t want to be weighed down with a large cleanser and face cloth. Usually I but whatever was on offer meaning I buy a lot of supermarket own brand wipes, but bought a pack of these recently. Johnson & Johnson My family have used Johnson & Johnson products for many years, I always remember a variety of products on the bathroom shelf, so much so that I was quite surprised they weren’t a UK company. They were founded by the Johnson brothers in New Jersey, USA in 1886. They have been in the UK since 1924 which is why they feel so established. They have a wide stable of goods under the health and beauty product type for cotton buds and baby powder, to contact lenses and mouthwash. They also make a variety of over-the-counter medicines and medical devices used by healthcare professionals. Sadly their animal testing policy is not as established as the company, they still use animals as part of their Research & Development within the health sector (which has different laws to the beauty/cosmetic sector). Whilst their beauty products must meet EU laws regarding animal testing (now illegal) they do test where the law does not require ...

Manuka Doctor Normalising Facial Oil 19/07/2016

Facing Up to a Facial Oil

Manuka Doctor Normalising Facial Oil Manuka Doctor Normalising Facial Oil 30 ml Introduction As a member of Amazon Vine (an invitation only program for top ranked Amazon reviewers) I was intrigued to try this when it popped up on my list. I don’t often use a facial oil, so wanted to see how it compared to the Liz Earle Superskin, which I have used (and loved) I the past. It claimed to ‘normalize’ my skin as well as re-balance and refresh. I’ve had a stressful few months through family illnesses and I felt it was showing on my skin, as I seemed to look tired, even when I wasn’t! As summer approached, I thought my skin needed a bit of a boost so looked forward to trying this. Manuka Doctor Manuka Doctor is a New Zealand brand based around Manuka honey, all their honey has been honey has been independently certified as new Zealand in origin. Products are laboratory tested in New Zealand and UK (nothing is tested on animals). They claim their products are bee friendly and are dedicated to women’s needs and concerns. All ingredients are 100% natural and the bees are not harmed by the harvesting of the purified bee venom or honey that are used in their products. Although I have checked the ingredient list it is not clear to me which (if any) ingredient is produced by bees. Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium branch) is a type of tea-tree, which is known for its anti-septic and healing properties. It appears the Kourtney Kardashian is their global skincare ambassador as a fan of their products. Some may think this is ...

Ren V-cense Youth Vitality Day Cream 15/07/2016

Not Vital but Very Nice

Ren V-cense Youth Vitality Day Cream REN V-CENSE™ YOUTH VITALITY DAY CREAM Introduction Many years ago I tried a REN eye cream and thought it rather good, so I was quite pleased to discover this day cream in a Beauty Box that I received last year. REN REN are an established British skincare company of some 16 years that supply ‘clean’ skincare internationally – by this them mean products that are skin kind and thus they avoid synthetic fragrances and colours, petrochemicals, silicones, sulphates, parabens, animal ingredients and a whole host of dodgy sounding things you probably don’t want on your face or skin. I refer you to the FAQ section of their website for full details if you are interested, but I was satisfied that they seen to know what they are talking about ( ‘Ren’ means ‘clean’ in Swedish. Nearly all their products are vegan friendly except for a handful that contain beeswax or milk. They also claim that they do not test on animals or ask any third party to useful. Oils are sourced organically where possible Packaging is usually recyclable and UK consumers can return empty packaging to REN by Freepost for recycling. Cartons are used to meet international labelling regulations (which mean things need descriptions and ingredients in different languages. Here they use paper from managed forests and vegetable inks. The product The product comes in a 50ml pump action tube, but my trial size comes in a squeezy tube. Their website claims: “A multi-active day ...

Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium, London 11/07/2016

Pussy Galore

Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium, London Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium So another birthday came around, and I was single again. I figured out I pretty much qualified for Crazy Cat Lady status apart from the minor details that I didn’t actually own any cats (seeing as I lived in a flat). With this in mind I decided to visit a Cat Café I had heard about in east London for my birthday and invited some other single, cat loving ladies to join me. What the Moggy is a Cat Café? It’s a café with cats!!! Whilst lunching you enjoy the company of the resident cats (at their discretion). There are rules to ensure the safety and contentment of the cats (which I’ll let you know about) and food is prepared separately from the animals, so you won’t find cat hair on your cake. Where is it and how do I get there? 152-154 Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch, London, E2 6DG It is close to Shoreditch over- ground station, alternatively you can walk from Liverpool Street Underground and National Rail station. Allow at least 15 mins as the route through Brick Lane can be busy during market days, or you may want to add in browsing time for Spitalfields market, which is also on route. The 8, 388 and N8 buses go past here also. Cat welfare The main concern for me is that I would see happy and contented cats. Not all cats like to spend a lot of time with people, so the rescue moggies they have, are all friendly, confident and content animals. Those that are likely to be stressed by many people or other cats are not selected or re-homed ...

Post-it Lined Super Sticky Notes 04/07/2016


Post-it Lined Super Sticky Notes Post-it X-Large 101 x 101 mm Lined Super Sticky Notes - Fuschia (Pack of 90 Sheets) Introduction I was sent these to try, and like most people I often use post-it notes, or similar,at home and work for making notes and reminders. They are an established brand, part of the 3M corporation, and were originally invented by accident (the person who first made them was trying for something else) in the late 1960s. No one really knew what to do with the product and they didn't really get marketed or put into production for almost twelve years. Now they are a global brand name available in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours. The Product The ones I have to test are bright pink lined post-its measuring 101x101mm (as opposed to boring old 10cm square). There are 90 sheets on the pad which is packaged in a plastic case mounted on cardboard. It was easy to open and pull the pad out but I suspect the plastic casing cannot be recycled. According to the print on the front the post-it notes are recyclable (I always thought they were and have always recycled them at home). Apparently the adhesive is even made from 60% renewable sources. These ones are 'super-sticky' meaning they are better at sticking and for longer. I haven't had a problem with post-its sticking to paper but occasionally they come unstuck on other surfaces, and these 'super sticky' notes supposedly stick better to unusual surfaces such as computer monitors, walls etc. I often stick one to the back of my front door ...

Alpaca Annie, Burmarsh 23/06/2016

Alpaca Heaven

Alpaca Annie, Burmarsh My friend got a Groupon to go Alpaca Trekking in Kent and asked me to come with her as she knew that I loved animal experiences. It was down on the Kent coast, but I understand that various other places all around the country also offer these experiences. Hopefully this review will help you decide if this is something you would like to try. Where is it? Haguelands Village, Burmarsh , Romney Marsh, Kent TN29 0JR. This is on the Kent coast neat Dymchurch and Hythe. It takes about 15-20 minutes from junction 11 om the M20. We hit a bit of local traffic, and if unlucky you could get caught up with cross-channel traffic, on the motorway, heading to Folkestone or Dover. The ‘village’ is really part of Haguelands Farm and offers a bistro, hairdresser, paintballing, and in the summer a maize maze and ‘Fun Yard’ with kids games and activities. Not to mention the alpacas of course! You can get 10% discount in Kate’s Bistro if you are having an Alpaca experience. They offer hot food as well as sandwiches with a range of staples and specials everyday. I understand their Sunday roasts are popular and booking is recommended. They also do cooked breakfasts most days too – often using locally sourced produce. My friend had a hot dog and I had sandwiches and combined with drinks this came to less than £10 for both of us. Portions were good and well presented. There are toilets here also, and again at the other end of the retail strip. About Alpaca Annie Alpaca Annie is based in Kent ...

Loreal L'Oréal Revitalift Laser Renew Super Serum 15/06/2016

Not that Super a Serum

Loreal L'Oréal Revitalift Laser Renew Super Serum L'Oreal Revitalift Laser Renew Super Serum Introduction I was sent this product to try by L’Oreal, in conjunction with their night cream. I rarely use the brand, having had a bad reaction to Garnier products (part of the same stable of brands). In fact I don’t tend to use serums at all, preferring to limit the products I use on my skin. L’Oreal This well-known company has its origins in France, where it was founded in 1909. It began making hair-dye products, but now produce a variety of hair, skincare, fragrance and cosmetic products. Brands under the L’Oreal umbrella include Decleor, Lancome, YSL, The Body Shop, Garnier, Maybelline and Roger & Gallet to name just a few. Although the L’Oreal group claim to have invested in alternatives to animal testing (and abide by EU regulations on the matter) they do sell their products in China, where animal testing is compulsory. They can still use ingredients that were tested on animals prior to March 2013 (when EU regulations came into effect). Many companies didn’t do this, nor use ingredients that were tested on animals for non-cosmetic purposes (which are excluded from current legislation). There are plenty of sources on the web coming down hard on the brand for their ethical stance - L’Oreal are no standard-bearers for the cruelty free beauty market, and online research shows that they likely exploit any loophole going, but evidence seems circumstantial. The Product The serum is in a red opaque square glass bottle with ...

Rapesco Security Popper Wallet 10/06/2016

Pop Your Secrets In Here!

Rapesco Security Popper Wallet Rapesco Security Popper Wallet A4+ Camouflage Print - Pack of 5 Folders Introduction I recently selecteda pack of 5 of theseitems as part of the Amazon Vine program (where invited top reviewers get to test certain products for free, in return for an impartial review) as I think these sorts of products are handy to keep certain paperwork altogether. They are suitable for home and office use, but for me I just needed some folders to keep paperwork relating to certain home projects. Rapesco Rapesco are a British firm, founded in the late 1950s, and based in Sevenoaks, Kent. They are one of the market leaders in certain office products such as staplers and hole punches, but also offer other office tools and document management products (a posh way of saying files as far as I can tell). The Wallet I suspect most of you have seen something similar before – a plastic envelope style wallet with a front popper fastening. This one is a bit more 'designed' than some of the others in that the envelope flap is shaped so the popper is over on one side. I think it looks quite attractive this way, but you could potentially 'catch' other folders or papers under the wider part of the flap. The poppers are simple and secure – they are neither fiddly to fasten, nor tough to open. The size of the folder is 35x24 cm (14 x 9.5 inches) which is suitable for foolscap pages (slightly larger than A4). Again I like this as it means you can fit in slightly larger papers and it makes the folder ...

L'Oreal L'Oréal Revitalift Laser Renew Night Cream 27/05/2016

Lasering my Face?

L'Oreal L'Oréal Revitalift Laser Renew Night Cream L'Oreal Revitalift Laser Renew Introduction I was sent this product to try by L’Oreal, I don’t usually use their skincare products, preferring a more premium brand but I am always happy to try a freebie and share my thoughts on it with you! L’Oreal The company was founded in France in 1909, primarily as a hair-dye manufacturer. They now produce a variety of hair, skincare, fragrance and cosmetic products. Brands under the L’Oreal umbrella include Decleor, Lancome, YSL, The Body Shop, Garnier, Maybelline and Roger & Gallet to name just a few. Although they claim to have invested in alternatives to animal testing (and abide by EU regulations on the matter) they do sell their products in China, where animal testing is compulsory. They (like many other companies presumably) can still use ingredients that were tested on animals prior to March 2013 (when EU regulations came into effect), as well as ingredients that were tested on animals for non-cosmetic purposes (which are excluded from current legislation). Generally L’Oreal were quite late to the cruelty-free cosmetics party, and I find this quite off-putting. The Product The night cream is in a red opaque square glass jar with a screw top plastic lid. Inside there is a plastic covering to protect the product which I threw away after two uses as it got in the way. The jar is boxed and the box has the ingredients and promotional blurb on it. The box had a further cellophane wrap so you can be sure no one has tampered ...

Rapesco P30 2 Hole Punch 19/05/2016

Packing a Punch

Rapesco P30 2 Hole Punch Rapesco P30 2 Hole Punch 30 Sheet Capacity Introduction As a member of Amazon Vine (an invitation only scheme, where I can receive certain items for free in return for an impartial review). This hole punch came up on my list, whilst far from being the most exciting item I find them to be handy to have (plus I think my existing metal one is older than me, having come with me from my parents' home). Rapesco We have some Rapesco stationery items at work, so I assume they are a brand that is competitively priced. They are a British brand that claim to be a business leader in items such as hole punches and staplers. Founded in 1957, they now sell to over 100 countries and are based in Sevenoaks, Kent. The Hole Punch The hole punch should be able to punch up to 30 sheets at a time, which is considered 'daily' use, Rapesco have other products for 'business' or 'heavy duty' use if this doesn't work for you. I doubt most of us have much use to punch more than thirty pages at home – mostly I do only one or two! This would probably suit most people for office use too, unless you need to do a lot of filing. It is also only punches two holes – I tend to only have simple A4 or lever arch files for any home filing, and have no need to a four hole punch (or any others) but this may be a consideration for some. It comes with a 15 year guarantee and there is a matching stapler available. My hole punch is white plastic and I am not aware of any other colours available. It weighs a ...
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