Share this page on

silver Status silver (Level 8/10)

Essexgirl2006

Essexgirl2006

Trusted by 236 members
See member statistics

Thank you for the ratings, I no longer thank people individually for E rates as I prefer to spend my time on here reading and rating as many of you as I can. But rest assured, all are appreciated!

Reviews written

since 07/02/2006

462

Oliver Bonas Isla Snake Clutch 22/04/2015

Clutching

Oliver Bonas Isla Snake Clutch I’m a sucker for buying handbags – whether days out bags, everyday handbags or evening bags I always find one that would be more perfect than the last one, but never one that is quite right for every occasion. At the beginning of the year I spotted this snake print clutch bag in Oliver Bonas at Waterloo station for £28. I resisted it at the time, as I may have overspent slightly *cough* during the holiday period. Next pay-day saw me in their Liverpool Street branch making a purchase. Currently it is on sale for £18 so grab whilst you can. They have branches throughout London and in a few other cities. Otherwise it can be purchased on-line with a delivery charge (standard charge £3.95, or a surcharge for next day delivery). The clutch is leather and a bold , deep red – I have not seen any other colourways available. The snake print is an embossed design on the front, the zip and strap attachments are a brass colour, with the zip puller in matching red leather. The bag is very slim with dimensions of 24 x 14 x 1.5 cm so you can’t keep a lot in it, but that is the nature of clutch bags really. It is quite lightweight, there isn't much else to it. There is a detachable (chunky brass lobster claw clasp) red leather wrist strap. it’s about 20 cm long so suitable for all wrist sizes. I prefer to use the strap – I like to stick my hand through the strap and hold the clutch for extra security, should someone try to snatch the bag from me when out and about. However if you have ...

Simple Kind to Skin Replenishing Rich Moisturiser 17/04/2015

Simply Quite Good

Simple Kind to Skin Replenishing Rich Moisturiser I hadn't used Simple products for ages, having moved onto premium skincare products as I got older, but before my last holiday I picked up a 50ml bottle of this in Boots. The small size (suitable for airline hand luggage if needed) and lightweight white plastic bottle was ideal for travelling and weighed less than my bulky pots and tubs, and allowed me to be able to do my washbag zip up without too much of a battle! It is also available in regular sizes of course. There is no pretentious packaging with this product – you get a white bottle with a green screw cap lid. All the information you require is on the sticky label attached to the bottle. This includes directions for use and ingredients. I usually prefer an SPF in my day creams, however this one only has 'defending UV filters', so you would need to ensure you got adequate SPF protection elsewhere. I have to admit I don't know how effective these filters are. Simple don't use any animal derived ingredients, nor do they add perfumes or colours to their products which they claim are suitable for sensitive skin. I don't have particularly sensitive skin but I am always happy to use a gentle product, if effective. They claim it contains pro-vitamin B5 as well as glycerin, bisabolol and allantoin for their nourishing and smoothing properties (although I have absolutely no idea what the last two are). I have noticed a couple of parabens in the ingredients list, for those that prefer to avoid such ingredients. I am no expert ...

Kipling Alenya Shoulder Bag 01/04/2015

My Mini-Tardis

Kipling Alenya Shoulder Bag I have always been a fan of Kipling bags, finding them lightweight and durable. Looking for a new ‘day out’ or holiday bag, I decided to pop into the Kipling store in Westfield Stratford. The purpose of such a bag (for me) is for a roomy, casual bag that can fit a lot of stuff in for a day out (rather than my everyday handbag). This sort of stuff includes my ‘good’ camera which is quite bulky (not a compact), my Kindle and/or a guide book, purse, phone, iPod, mirror, travel card/passport, umbrella, make up and any other item that I deem essential for that particular day or trip. Sort of buying a TARDIS I had my work cut out for me. There is quite a variety of Kipling bags available these days, and a lot more finishes available but I was looking for the lightweight yet durable fabric bags. The one I went for is the Alenya medium shoulder bag in water-resistant nylon in dusky grey for £69. If I wanted a patterned finish or a different material, it would have been slightly more money, but there are quite a few examples available. The dimensions are 32 L x 32 H x 14.5 W cm and I usually find these hard to interpret when I have bought similar bags online before as extra pockets add to the dimensions and you end up with a smaller bag then you expect. In this case the bag is fairly flat and isn’t ‘bulked out’ with added pockets as they are all slip pockets. As the bag has a shape to it, it doesn’t seem as big as the dimensions imply, but it is certainly roomy. I’m glad I bought it ...

Hotpoint RFA52 27/03/2015

Cool

Hotpoint RFA52 HOTPOINT RFA52P FRIDGE-FREEZER My last Hotpoint Fridge Freezer had only a half-freezer and did 15 years of loyal service. Eventually (and inconveniently over Christmas and New Year) the fridge section got ‘freezer-envy’ (I’m not sure this is a recognised condition to be honest) and decided to freeze the contents of the fridge. Although I turned the dial down, I realised that I needed to get new one as soon as possible and decided I wanted a proper double fridge freezer. I had a preference to stick with Hotpoint as the last one had been so reliable and set about doing a bit on online research for prices and promotions. I was also keen to find someone who would remove my existing product also. Armed with the relevant research I popped into a local Curry’s and saw this one (which had been on my short-list). It was priced at £225, as cheap as I had seen online. The helpful sales assistant said delivery was free, as was collection of my old appliance. This was better than most of the online only retailers which charged for one or the other. Delivery was arranged for a week next Tuesday (9 days hence) when they were next in my area. I can’t comment how this compares with other retailers as I didn’t get that far. I figured I could cope until then, so was happy with this time. A bit later I realised I had bought the exact same fridge-freezer as my parents… DIMENSIONS/SPECS 1740 x 545 x 580 mm (H x W x D) Weight: 56 kg Manufacturer’s guarantee 1 year Energy efficiency ...

Fenton's Curling Rink, Tunbridge Wells 16/03/2015

Ice, Ice Baby!

Fenton's Curling Rink, Tunbridge Wells FENTONS ICE CURLING INTRODUCTION Back in January a social group I am a member of organised a trip to Fenton’s Ice Curling rink for a two hour session. Having enjoyed it so much, a group of us decided to have another go, and organised a subsequent trip ourselves. This review is based on my combined experience over two visits in January and March. Fentons is the only dedicated curling rink in England. ‘Normal’ ice rinks used by skaters are not suitable for curling as the ice has to be smooth. Many of you have probably seen curling during the winter Olympics, we have a strong national (GB) team. Basically you are sliding a heavy (20kg) granite stone across the ice into a scoring zone, the team with the closest stone(s) to the centre of the target win that ‘end’. Your team mates ‘brush’ the ice in front of the stone to help it, the stone can move a further 8-12 feet with this help apparently. The equivalent points are written up (only one team can score per end so it is important to be the team with the stone closest to the centre) and at the end of the match, the team with the most points wins. There is a little bit more to it than that, scoring wise, but (without diagrams) that is the gist of it. A four person team would take it in turns to deliver the stone, sweep and ‘skip’ but I’ll explain this as I go along based on my own experiences. PRICES A two hour session costs £20 each (this includes shoe and equipment hire, and the services of a coach), and you need teams of ...

Smiths Spitalfields 1st Floor Dining Room, London 10/03/2015

Smith, not Jones

Smiths Spitalfields 1st Floor Dining Room, London My boyfriend and I had been looking at restaurants in the Spitalfields area of London for a while and whilst deals were coming through via Amazon Local or Open Table, they were not giving the full menu, so we decided one Saturday just to spurge and go for a full price meal at Smiths. Booking was done online through Open Table, although we didn't take advantage of the limited special offer The restaurant is the ‘sister’ of Smiths of Smithfields and their ethos is on quality British meat. I don’t eat meat but unlike some meaty establishments they do come up with a quality vegetarian alternative, so I am not palmed off with spinach and ricotta cannelloni or anything. Their menu lists their suppliers of meat and fish. Their vegetables are from New Covent Garden. The restaurant is situated on the edge of Spitalfields market which is just 5-10 mins walk from either Liverpool Street or Aldgate stations. The building retains the original brickwork, and when I asked the manageress what it used to be, she explained that it was a Grade II listed building and where the birds and flowers were sold back in the day when Spitalfields was a fruit and vegetable market. These days there is a bar in the basement offering live music, a lively ground floor bar (which doubles as a coffee shop during the day), a first floor dining room (where we ate) and a private dining space on the 2nd floor. I wouldn't recommend this as a place for children. Our day hadn’t quite gone to plan and we were out ...

Kingsman: The Secret Service (DVD) 06/03/2015

Kings-sized Fun

Kingsman: The Secret Service  (DVD) This is a film-only review as I watched it at the cinema, therefore I cannot comment on any extras that maybe on the DVD. I knew I wanted to see Kingsman: The Secret Service as soon as I saw the trailer. I love the Bond franchise, and this looked like a good spoof version complete with silly, far-fetched weapons and men (and women) in suits. The film is actually based on a comic book of the same name. I’ve not read it, so cannot comment how close to the original story this is. The screenplay was co-written by Jane Goldman who has written a number of adaptations for the big-screen including some of the X-man franchise. Her co-writer and the film’s director is Matthew Vaughn, who has also helmed Layer Cake, Stardust and X-Men: First Class, as well as having worked extensively as a writer and producer on similar projects. The credibility of the behind-the-scenes team is in no doubt, and neither is that of the cast: Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Michael Caine and Samuel L Jackson are the bigger names that head up the film. There are also some very talented newcomers, that are worth a watch. Kingsman is a real secret service, its so secret no one had heard of it before. They help prevent a number of national and global events that we are not aware of. Now they have a new adversary in Richmond Valentine (Samuel L Jackson with a lisp), a tech genius with an unusual plan to save the world from itself. Valentine has the obligatory evil hench(wo)man in ‘blade-runner’ Gazelle (Sofia ...

Ornami Silver CZ Set Heart Earring Studs 02/03/2015

Sparkly Hearts

Ornami Silver CZ Set Heart Earring Studs I am not a big earring buyer but was bored with my current pair that I wore day in and day out. I can only wear real silver or gold, anything plated or even the hypo-allergenic earrings cause me to want to pull my ears off within a short period of time. Whilst I had acquired a few pairs of nice gold or silver hoops and studs, one by one I would lose a pair, or the backs/butterflies (when I had nothing else to use) rendering another pair out of action. It is quite expensive to keep replacing these types of earrings so I am often on the look out for good deals, but sometimes manufacturers are not clear if the earrings are real silver or not. Cutting to the chase I spotted these earrings on Amazon as one of their lightening deals they have on for a limited time. It was a bit of a risk buying something I had not actually seen but the price was under £10 with free UK delivery, which was a significant saving on the RRP of £29.99 so I thought it worth the risk. With super saver delivery they arrived within a few days, securely packaged in a their own textured cardboard box with a velvet base. It isn't the most tasteful box if giving as a gift and looks a bit cheap if I am honest. I am not familiar with the brand Ornami, which is apparently ‘adorn’ in Esperanto! It seems they mainly sell through Amazon and a few other online accessory retailers. The earrings are quite dinky and light, approximately 1cm diameter with the post on one of the rounded edges of the heart, not in the ...

Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge Dining Fifth Floor Restaurant, London 23/02/2015

Four Stars for the Fifth Floor

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact 17/02/2015

Xcellent Xperia

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact I loved my Nokia Lumia 920 Windows phone (see review from 2012) but fancied a change after two years and wanted to try an Android phone next as I was frustrated by the lack of apps that were made for Windows. I was initially undecided about what I wanted but fancied a compact or mini phone as I really didn’t want a bulky ‘phablet’. I was leaning towards the Samsung S5 Mini when the helpful sales person at O2 suggested this one or the HTC One mini2. Comparing specs the Z3 compact came out the winner. It wasn’t free on contract like the others but I managed to negotiate this as I had been a customer for a long time. Therefore I got the phone for free and a good deal on my tariff (I always prefer to phone them to upgrade as they are more flexible than the stores). A cursory check of reviews (from both consumers and tech publications seemed to be mainly positive. The phone was available in black, white or orange (!), I went for black. IN THE BOX/SPECS/DESIGN The phone (obviously), charger with removable USB/mini/USM cable, in ear headphones, screen protector, small cloth and micro USB adaptor. Dimensions : 127 x 64.9 x 8.6 mm. Display: 4.6" HD (1280x720 Pixels) Weight: 129 g Google Android 4.4 (KitKat) - Snapdragon 2.5 GHz Qualcomm Quad-core Camera: 20.7 MP camera with auto focus 2.2 MP front-facing ‘selfie‘ camera. ISO 12800 Battery: 2600 mAh Talk time: up to 14 hours. Standby time: up to 920 hours. Music listening time: Up to 110 hours. Video playback time: Up to 10 ...

Go Native Earl's Court, London 12/02/2015

Going Native in Earl's Court

Go Native Earl's Court, London Go Native provide numerous serviced apartments in London (and elsewhere) and for a recent night out my partner booked one of these near Earls Court for two nights. There are a good mix of one or two bed apartments suitable for two or four guests, all with kitchens and appliances offering a reasonable alternative to hotels for long term visitors and flexibility for families. Ours was purchased via a deal on Amazon Local, but you can book direct or via other hotel booking sites. We stayed in an Open Plan One Bedroom Apartment with Kitchen. LOCATION This is situated on Warwick Road about 5 minutes walk from both Earls Court and Kensington Olympia tube stations. There is a large Tesco next door for supplies. There are a few restaurants and cafes nearby, and a couple of pubs. I found the better choice to be nearer Olympia, but we didn’t explore every route from the hotel. From Earls Court you can be in the heart of the West End within 10-15 minutes. Business travellers will find this a viable alternative to hotels if working at an exhibition at Olympia. It is about 15 mins walk or a short bus/train journey to Shepherds Bush and Westfield White City for your shopping fix. A local restaurant does provide a ‘room service’ menu. CHECK IN/RECEPTION There is a large ground floor reception, and in spite of their being three doors into it, all but one were closed off, forcing you to enter immediately opposite the receptions. I wasn’t present for the check in process (stuck on ...

Baku, Azerbaijan 04/02/2015

Getting To Know Baku

Baku, Azerbaijan Last summer I visited Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan for a little over a week. It may sound like an unusual choice but I had family members working out there on a three year contract, so took the opportunity to go and see them and explore a region I was quite unfamiliar with. Most people, when they think of Baku, remember it for hosting the Eurovision song contest a few years ago. It is situated on the Absheron Peninsula which extends into the Caspian Sea, where there is a lot of oil drilling, this takes up the whole eastern border of the country. The country is also bordered by Iran to the South , Armenia is to the west and Georgia and Russia to the north. It was formerly part of the Soviet Union. It is a Muslim country but extremism is not tolerated. Women needn’t feel they need to cover up as the city is very Westernised. I hardly saw anyone with their head covered, and most women wore cotton dresses, skirts or jeans. I cannot comment if this is the case in the more rural areas. Mostly the new part of the city is very Western with many well designed buildings – for example The Flame Towers which light up at night (Azerbaijan is the Land of Fire). I think they are looking to become the new Dubai with top end hotels and attractions, but they have some way to go yet, with just one and a half golf courses. Time difference is four hours ahead on the UK (6pm UK = 10pm Azerbaijan) GETTING THERE/LEAVING British citizens will require a visa purchased in advance, either in ...

Prestige Stainless Steel and Almond Jug Kettle 02/02/2015

On The Boil

Prestige Stainless Steel and Almond Jug Kettle I am not a big user of my kettle and have had the same one for years. However my parents bought a new one, and finding it unsuitable passed the week old kettle over to me. I was quite happy to accept it. The kettle is from Prestige, so an established brand, and they purchased it in Robert Dyas. It has an RRP of £49.99, but I think they paid considerably less – about half price if I recall correctly. Looks wise this almond trimmed stainless steel kettle looks very stylish, and the capacity of 1.7 litres is more than enough for my needs. I have found it easy to keep clean, although it does show splashes often, it is easy to wipe down. The colour scheme works well in my light wood kitchen, with a dark worktop. The kettle is cordless and sits comfortably on a base attached to the plug. It is not always easy to get it to sit on the base without any wiggling about, especially when it is full. However it does have a 360 degree swivel so suitable for left and right-handed people, and easy to position as you like. The power-cord is a good length and coils around inside the base so you don’t have excess cord dangling in the way, which is a neat design feature. It weighs a little over a kilo empty, and I do find it quite heavy and cumbersome once full. To fill up there is a little button on the top of the handle which is pops the lid up. When done, just push the lid down again. The kettle has a rapid boil feature and I have noticed that this is quicker than my usual kettle, however ...

Edinburgh Zoo, Edinburgh 16/09/2014

Where the Penguins Have a Scottish Accent

Northanger Abbey - Val McDermid 10/09/2014

Back to Northanger

Northanger Abbey - Val McDermid I have always been a big Jane Austen fan and was quite excited to hear of the Austen Project where 21st century authors re-work Austen’s classic novels into a modern day setting. Having read some Austen fan-fiction in the past I knew that these endeavours could be a bit hit and miss and that the first in the series (Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope) wasn’t particularly well received. The new Northanger Abbey by award winning British crime novelist Val McDermid was the second to be published so when a free copy came my way I did not pass it up. The original novel was probably my least favourite of the original full Austen novels, and I was unsure how this book would go. I was pleasantly surprised. The original Catherine Moreland was a tad dappy, and whilst our new contemporary Cat has also had a sheltered upbringing, Val McDermid has explained any naivety due to her youth and general inexperience. However she is social network competent which makes her seem more grounded in the real world and possibly more relatable to new, younger readers. The cast of characters are still present and correct – Isabella Thorpe, the Tilneys etc, but the setting has changed. This time Cat has travelled with the Allens (her neighbours in both books) to the Edinburgh festival rather than to Bath. Isabella is still an air-head, John Thorpe an annoyance and Henry Tilney still handsome (if a tad pale). I thought that most of these characters had been brought up to date well – their ...
See more reviews Back to top