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PurMinerals Hydrafluid Water Serum Foundation 26/06/2017

Not Quite PurFect

PurMinerals Hydrafluid Water Serum Foundation Pür Hydrafluid Water Serum Foundation Introduction I am happy with my Bare Minerals Bare Skin Serum Foundation but I have always found shopping for a good new foundation quite stressful, after all it can be wasteful to spend a lot of money trying a new product if it doesn’t work. I got the opportunity to try this due to an invitation on Amazon Vine and as they had a light shade available I jumped at the chance. I had tried a Pür mascara a few years ago, and liked the brand’s ethos, but wasn’t entirely impressed with the product. Pür Pür are an American company, founded in 2001 and are part of the Astral brands group, based in Atlanta USA. There is very little information about them available on the web. They specialise in mineral make up that is cruelty free and do not test on animals and claim to be environmentally responsible. As we all know, not all companies are clear about these claims and hide behind clever phrasing in their disclaimers. As far as I can tell their claims are accurate making it on to Peta’s cruelty free list and several other cruelty free websites. I can’t find much information on the environmental claims, I think the company is not big enough to have come to the notice of various ethical groups who concentrate more on the big corporations. Many (but not all) products are paraben free as some are also vegan and gluten-free, and no product contains Bisphenol A (BPA) (a toxin). Price and Availability This product has an RRP of £28 for a 30ml ...

Radisson Blu Hotel, East Midlands Airport, Derby 12/04/2017

You won't Be Blu(e) About Staying Here

Radisson Blu Hotel, East Midlands Airport, Derby Radisson Blu Hotel, East Midlands Airport Introduction I was recently invited to attend an evening event at this hotel. Booked through a third party group, that included entertainment, a twin share room on bed and breakfast basis and a hot buffet dinner. This is an award winning hotel – it was 2016’s Luxury Airport Hotel of the Year, having been open just 5 years. I was very much looking forward to staying here. Prices As I booked it through another organisation it includes their mark-up so to list that price would be misleading. Prices do vary depending on the time of year/day of the week you may want to stay but they advertise rooms from £67.20 per night. I found this price is available for a Friday night for a standard room (advance purchase, so no refund/cancellation) and doesn’t include breakfast or parking. I have also found a similar deal for £75 on a Saturday. If you want two weeks parking after your stay then you can get that with your room for £144. You would pay more for a better class of room or for a breakfast included. Midweek prices seem to be more (as this is also a business hotel) and prices were £111 for standard room only. Location Herald Way, Pegasus Business Park, East Midlands Airport, DE74 2TZ, Derby, United Kingdom +44 (0) 1509 670575 It is near Castle Donnington, Derby, Nottingham and Leicester and convenient for East Midlands Airport, where there is apparently a shuttle bus service. The hotel is right off the M1 and also a few minutes ...

Bliss The Youth As We Know It 07/04/2017

Not Blissed Out

Bliss The Youth As We Know It Bliss - The Youth As We Know It Youth Serum Introduction Bliss is a brand I am vaguely aware of. It’s one where I know the name but couldn’t really tell you anything about their products. An opportunity to try their Youth Serum came my way and I decided to take advantage of it. I am of the age when anti-ageing products (as sceptical as I am about their name) are things I need to look at more often as my skin changes with the on-set of middle age. I’m not happy about this at all, but console myself by indulging my beauty product addiction. Bliss Bliss is a US Spa brand, with their fist spa opening in New York in 1996. They have opened a few other spas across the UK and a handful outside, with a branch in London (Sloane Ave, SW3). At some point they started to sell their own products both in store and online. I am not sure how long this has been going as I only became aware of them about four years ago. Amazon have been selling this product since 2010. Despite EU laws preventing products tested on animals being sold in Europe, and Bliss’ own website claims that they do not test on animals, Bliss is flagged by both PETA and Cruelty Free Kitty as brands that do test (in the USA). Price and Availability Bliss products are stocked on the high street in larger branches of Harrods and Harvey Nichols. Larger branches of Marks and Spencer stock Bliss products, but I am not sure if they stock this particular one as it wasn’t available online last I checked. Whilst Bliss ...

Lisboa Central Hostel, Lisbon 28/03/2017

Friendly and Modern Central Hostel

Lisboa Central Hostel, Lisbon Introduction Some friends of mine were arranging a trip to Lisbon, Portugal for a New Year’s break and I managed to wangle an invite. It had already been arranged to stay at Lisboa Central Hostel. I didn’t book the hostel but this can be done online and pay upon arrival (48 hour cancellation policy). You can pay in advance if you want, which (pre-Brexit) some people did. The less organised of us didn’t and suffered the post-Brexit exchange rate. We were all arriving on different flights, so at different times, but this was no problem. Myself and three friends stayed in a 4-bed female dorm, with ensuite and the price is on average €21.50 per night plus €1 tax per night. You can pay by cash or card. At certain times this price may be cheaper and you can also opt for rooms with shared bathrooms and larger dorms. We paid slightly more as it was over the New Year period. I believe there are limited twins, doubles and singles available too. Location The hostel address is : Lisboa Central Hostel, Rua Rodrigues Sampaio nº160 1150-282 Lisboa Phone: +351 309 881 038 Fax: +351 214 023 596 It is based spitting distance from Marques de Pombal Metro Station (exit: Av. Da Liberdade). The station is on the Yellow line and the Blue line and is easy to get to from the airport, requiring one change (there are escalators and lifts). Taxis from the airport cost about €10-15 There is a small supermarket, a cashpoint and a few restaurants in walking distance, but it is a relatively quiet ...

Bare Escentuals BareMinerals Blemish Remedy Concealer 22/03/2017

When Baring Your Blemishes Are Not An Option

Bare Escentuals BareMinerals Blemish Remedy Concealer Bare Minerals Blemish Remedy Concealer Introduction Last year I struggled with break outs of a few spots on the side of my face. It is not something I have often but for some reason I was getting them one after the other. Normally I would ignore then as I knew they would go away by themselves, but as this didn’t seem to be happening I decided it was time to buy a new concealer. I selected Bare Minerals as I buy their foundation and get on well with it, thus I popped into a large branch of Boots one evening and this product was recommended by the assistant. Bare Minerals Bare minerals was founded in 1994 in California, USA and is part the of Bare Escentuals, (a bodycare manufacturer) group. Their speciality is in mineral make up, which you probably guessed from the name. They used to sell via QVC, the TV shopping channel where they developed a cult following. The company has a full range of mineral based make up and skincare in a wide variety of shades. Japanese firm Shieseido bought the company a few years ago. Bare Minerals are against animal testing and claim not to ask any others to do so on its behalf. As it is not sold in mainland China, they are not required to test by Chinese law either. This statement is backed up by other research I have done, however their parent company Shieseido do sell in China, so some consumers may prefer to avoid them. Some products use animal by-products (where the animal isn’t harmed/killed) and they do offer some vegan friendly ...

Clarence House, London 16/03/2017

Hobnobbing With Chas and Cammy

Clarence House, London CLARENCE HOUSE Introduction Clarence house is the home of Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall . Price Harry also lived here until recently. It is used for official receptions and other events. It is open to the public through guided tours usually in the month of August and I visited on the last August bank holiday 2016. It is managed by the Royal Collection Trust which is a registered charity entrusted with numerous art objects. The Queen does not own them as a private individual but is a trustee. The RCT receives its income from the opening of the palaces to the public and gift shop sales and its aims are “care and conservation of the Royal Collection and the promotion of public access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities” (according to their website). History of the House Much of the history of the house is covered in the tour and I have ‘topped up’ my memories and fact checked by referring to the guide book that I purchased when I visited. The house was built between 1825-7 and was designed by John Nash for the then William, Duke of Clarence (hence the name) and was part of St James’s Palace. Nash also designed Brighton Pavilion and did a lot of remodelling of Buckingham Palace. The Clarence House project did go massively over-budget but forms the basis for the house there today, the man difference being the entrance was on a different side, on Stable Yard Road which ran at right ...

Weleda Birch Body Scrub 08/03/2017


Weleda Birch Body Scrub Weleda Birch Body Scrub Introduction I received this to test as part of the Amazon Vine programme (an invitation only review programme for high ranked reviewers). I selected it as I was getting low of my existing body scrub (Original Source – Tea Tree) and fancied a change. It also seemed natural and I am keen to use natural products wherever possible, especially a scrub that doesn’t use those nasty plastic, non-biodegradable balls. Weleda I am familiar with the brand from other reviews on here and I think I have had a mini body lotion from them in a beauty box once. Other than that I know very little about the company so checked out their website. Weleda began life in 1921 and was founded by an Austrian philosopher and natural scientist, Rudolf Steiner, a Dutch doctor Ita Wegman and a German pharmacist, Oskar Schmiedel. Steiner’s philosophy is called anthroposophy, which (as far as I can tell) is the use of natural means for physical and mental well-being. It uses scientific thinking and research methods and uses them spiritually (or something). To be honest there seemed to be a lot of waffle for what basically appears to be an ethical and natural skincare range. The brand is available in over 50 countries. Price and Availability This has an RRP of £9.95 so isn’t the cheapest product on the market. The cheapest I have spotted it online is £7.45 from an independent fitness store. It is also available direct from Weleda’s website (no discount) and from Amazon ...

Kiambethu Tea Farm, Limuru 02/03/2017

An Insight into Colonial Life in Kenya

Kiambethu Tea Farm, Limuru Introduction When visiting a pal in Nairobi last year , she suggested coming here on our last day for a nice relaxing trip out of the city. This is one of the original tea farms in Kenya and is higher up so a lot cooler in the summer (sadly we were there in winter – so bring a sweater or jacket). How To Get Here The tea farm is situated near Limuru, in a modestly mountainous area and is about 2000 feet above Nairobi, hence the coolness. It is located about 30km from where my friend lived in North West Nairobi and should take a little over an hour, however Nairobi traffic can vary so we allowed extra time and got here super early!. You will need private transport to get here (taxi or access to private vehicle) but the roads are not too bad (by Kenyan standards at least!). The lush landscape is lovely after the bustle and noise of Nairobi. A little bit of History The farm was bought by a British white settler Arnold B McDonell in 1910. He basically purchased 350 acres from the British government and became one of the first people to grow tea commercially in Kenya. Initially he tried other crops without success until a friend visited from India with tea plant samples which seemed to work in this area. In the beginning the tea leaves were actually processed on the farm, and transported to Nairobi via train where McDonell sold them directly to traders Five generations have lived on this farm and it is now the home of his grand-daughter Fiona Vernon, a sprightly older lady. ...

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. ...
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