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Thanks to all those for review and rate. I think I'm back on track, but message me if I've not returned the favour of a rate.

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since 19/03/2014


The Ros Tapestry, New Ross 17/09/2017

A stitch in time

The Ros Tapestry, New Ross On a recent trip to Ireland to visit friends and wondering what to do on a rainy day, we visited the Ros Tapestry. ~~~ Where you’ll find it ~~~New Ross is a town in the south west of Ireland in County Wexford about 20 km north east of Waterford. The area makes much of being the ancestral home of the Kennedy family and on the quay there is a statute of JFK – with arm outstretched ready to shake a by-passer’s hand. The Ros Tapestry Exhibition Centre is on the quay, on the right just before the bridge, at the end of the boardwalk and across the road from the Kennedy sculpture. ~~~ What you’ll find ~~~Rev. Paul Mooney, who was appointed to St. Mary’s Church in New Ross in 1998, was inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry to commission a tapestry for his church which told the Norman history of the area. A local artist, Ann Griffin Bernstorff, painted the cartoons which form the basis for a series of 15 large embroidered panels illustrating the story of the Anglo-Norman arrival and the founding of the New Ross by William Marshal, and his wife, Isabel de Clare. ~~~ How to view ~~~So rather than being housed in St Mary’s (tapestries are too large to display in the church), the panels are now housed in an exhibition centre which perhaps sounds a lot grander than it actually is. The centre is open 7 days a week all year round: Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm, Sunday 11am to 4pm. Admission Charges are Adult: €8.00 / Senior: €7.00, Student/Child: €6.00 Entering the centre, you find a ...

Fairy Active Dishwasher Cleaner 05/09/2017

A fairy who will clean my dishwasher

Fairy Active Dishwasher Cleaner In a rare cleaning frenzy, I noticed that my dishwasher was looking decidedly grim. Not good. I do try to remember to run a cleaning cycle pretty regularly but I’m ashamed to say that judging by the appearance of the dishwasher, a clean was well over due. Most manufacturers recommend that you run a cleaner through your dishwasher once a month to stop grease and limescale that can build up. Not only will the grime build-up result in a bit a pong (at least I can report that my dishwasher hadn’t reached that stage), over time and reduce the effectiveness of your dishwasher. Luckily I did have some dishwasher cleaner in stock that I could use. I’m not brand loyal when it comes to most cleaning products and dishwasher cleaner is no exception. On this occasion I had a Fairy Active Dishwasher Cleaner - the last one of a pack of two in the cupboard. ~~~ Fairy Active Dishwasher Cleaner ~~~The cleaner comes in tablet form – two 29g tablets in a pack for £4.10, so £2.05 a clean which is not dissimilar for the bottle varieties that you can also get. The little tablet looks very much like a regular dishwasher tablet and could easily be mistaken for one. The cleaner has a dual-layer formula with one part acting on grease and grim and the other targeting limescale. It’s simple to use and is much like other cleaners: 1. Ensure that your machine is empty, and do not use any other soap or detergent. 2. Place the tablet in the detergent dispenser 3. Close the door and run the dishwasher on ...

Seagate STEA1000400 1TB 22/08/2017

Excellent external drive for keeping my digital photos safe

Seagate STEA1000400 1TB ~~~ Why I bought it ~~~For most of my personal computing needs, I use my work laptop. I do have my own personal one but it’s now a pretty ancient and heavy machine that sits on my desk at home collecting dust and reminding me that I need to bite the bullet and splash out on a new model for myself. However, I don’t feel I can use my work computer for sorting, storing and generally playing around with my digital photos. It’s one of the few areas of my life where I bring some order and discipline to things – storing all my images from different cameras and multiple other devices (phones, iPad etc) in one place. And that one place is Mr. P’s laptop which itself is now getting pretty long in the tooth and I don’t want it to pack up without my being able to access my much loved photos.. At one time I used to back up all my images on to CD but that seems a little old hat now. But I have always worried that I have no backup and also when I do eventually get round to buying my own laptop, I will need a quick and easy way to transfer my image files on to it. So a few months ago I decided that the time had come to get my act together and I buy an external drive. My son had recently bought a Seagate drive that he had given a good report and so I did a search on Amazon and came up with this little number – to be precise the Seagate Expansion STEA1000400 1TB ~~~ Its vital statistics: ~~~Capacity: 1 TB Interface: USB 3.0 Data Transfer Rate: 5.0 Gbps (USB 3.0) Power Source: USB ...

The Tutankhamun Exhibition, Dorchester 12/08/2017

Walking like an Egyptian in Dorset

The Tutankhamun Exhibition, Dorchester As an impressionable pre-teenager, I was lucky enough to go on a school trip to see the Treasures of Tutankhamun at the British Museum in London in 1972. I loved it and can still remember craning my neck to see into the cabinets of glittering gold treasure over the other heads of my school companions. I guess like so many people, I find the whole ‘Pharaoh thing’ fascinating and years later I was able to visit the Valley of the Kings at Thebes and see King Tut’s treasure again in the Cairo Museum. I’m not an expert at all in the ancient Egyptians but I will watch any TV documentary on the subject that happens to be one and I did follow the recent TV series about Howard Carter who of course discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb and some would say fell victim to the Pharaoh’s curse, dying shortly afterwards. So when staying locally and I heard there was a Tutankhamun Exhibition in Dorchester, I had to go. ~~~ Finding it ~~~The Tutankhamun Exhibition is in the charming market town of Dorchester, 45 minutes from Bournemouth and Poole to the east and not that far from Weymouth to the West. Dorchester is in fact relatively easy to get to be train. I actually travelled down on South West trains from London Waterloo and was met at South Dorchester station by a friend who lives in a neighbouring village. On the day of our visit to the Exhibition we drove back into Dorchester and parked at one of the town centre’s car parks. Dorchester is a market town and we picked market day (a Wednesday) ...

Rockefeller Center, New York 09/08/2017

65 floors up at the Rock

Rockefeller Center, New York John Rockefeller founded the Standard Oil Company in 1870 in Cleveland and became one of the world’s wealthiest men. It was his son, another John, who set about building the Rockefeller Centre in New York. The Centre itself is huge – spanning 22 acres and comprising 19 separate buildings. It was built during the Great Depression creating much needed employment and took 9 years to complete. When it opened in 1933 America had its first multi-use retail, office and entertainment area. It even had heated buildings and indoor parking – hugely innovative in its day. It is still one of New York’s top tourist attractions. ~~~ Location ~~~The Rockefeller Centre actually spans several blocks of midtown Manhattan - between 47th & 50th Streets and 5th & 7th Avenues. There's a lot to see and you need a map to navigate yourself around the enormous complex. It includes the NBC Studios where the famous US Today Show, and Saturday Night Live are broadcast. Of course one of the most famous parts of the Centre is Lower Plaza which is turned into an ice rink during the winter and is an outdoor eating space in the summer. At one end stands the gold statute of Prometheus which apparently is the most photographed monumental sculpture in New York City. What was quite unexpected was the 45-foot blow up ballerina bending down to do up a ballet show at looming over Prometheus, more so because it wasn’t there when we visited our first evening in New York. However, it was very much there when we ...

Boots No7 360 Lash Mascara 04/08/2017

Going round in circles with this 360 masacara

Boots No7 360 Lash Mascara It’s a long time since I’ve actually chosen and bought a mascara. I tend to rely on ‘freebies’ that come in beauty boxes (so I know they aren’t exactly free but you get my drift) or free gifts with Boots purchases. My Lash 360 mascara is a mini version that came in one of those Boots gift packs. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~ On the negative side ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~ As a give away that may be designed to encourage me to go out and buy the full size version, I am afraid that on this occasion it hasn’t worked. I’m pretty ambivalent about this mascara. My little 4.5 ml tube gives a reasonable coverage but doesn’t really have that glamour effect that I’m looking for. It promises to deliver outstanding 360-degree volume to every single lash don’t feel that it gives my lashes any length or real volume. I need to layer on several coats until I get anything like a visible result. The mascara is billed as hypoallergenic. However, the first time I used this mascara my eyes really started to water up and irritate. It only ever happened the once and I really don’t know why, but within a few minutes of applying the mascara, my eyes were really running and I had to take off my make-up and start again. I’ve never had a reaction to mascara before so I wonder whether it was a combination of factors and as I say it’s not happened since. Of course hypoallergenic is a bit of a marketing con. It’s really just a relative term meaning that a product causes less allergic reactions than others; it’s not allergy ...

National September 11 Memorial & Museum, New York 02/08/2017

No Day Shall Erase You from the Memory of Time

National September 11 Memorial & Museum, New York Like so many people, I have a really vivid memory of where I was on 11 September 2001 when I heard the news stories begin to trickle through about the terrorist attacks in the USA and watched in horror as we saw images of the planes crashing into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York. I was at work in London and we crowded into the foyer of our own tower block to watch the TV and worry as communications went down and we were unable to contact our colleagues in the New York office. They were several miles away in the tall MetroLife (formerly the PanAm) building and so safe although facing long and difficult journeys home as the city infrastructure went into meltdown. The impact of those dreadful events has been immense and the personal tragedies enormous. Nearly 3000 people died in the four incidents and the world watched to see how the site which became known as Ground Zero would be rebuilt. In its place is a now fitting and deeply moving memorial to all those involved. ~~~ Location and tickets ~~~The National 11 September Memorial and Museum is in New York’s financial district in Lower Manhattan. It’s easy to get to by subway and we made the short walk to the Memorial from Fulton Street Station. The memorial is a public area but there is an entrance fee to the museum and we heeded our guidebook advice and booked ahead on line. Well worth doing as we avoided the queues and walked straight through to the museum entrance where you go through airport-type ...

Percy & Reed Perfectly Perfecting Wonder Balm 28/07/2017

Attempting to Perfectly Perfect my hair with this Wonder Balm

Percy & Reed Perfectly Perfecting Wonder Balm I’ve received a number of Percy & Reed products in beauty boxes and this Wonder Balm came in my M&S Christmas advent calendar. Needing a small tube for travelling, I remembered that I had this 30 ml version of the Wonder Balm safely stored in a bathroom cupboard, which I duly retrieved and put in my washbag for my latest trip. ~~~ Percy & Reed ~~~So I have to confess that I’ve not heard of either of them, but both Paul ‘Percy’ Percival and Adam Reed are apparently British hair stylists to the stars. They say “we’ve spent decades working with the best in the business, jet-setting around the world, tending to the locks of the famous and glamorous (and a lot of fun it’s been, too).” Wanting to help out the rest of us, Percy and Reed magnanimously opened a salon in London and have come out with a line of products bearing their name. Their packaging is quite quirky and pretty, almost vintage style with glamor girl motifs on a white background. ~~~ Where to buy ~~~The full size (75 ml) version is normally 18.00 and you can find it in a number of high street stores including M&S. At the time of writing (July 2017) the shopping channel. QVC, is doing a great deal on it – a limited edition, double-size Wonder Balm for just £16 (ie less than half price). ~~~ Wonder Balm ~~~The Perfectly Perfecting Wonder Balm “preps and primes your hair in readiness for all styling products and techniques”. It promised to detangle, smooth, add shine, hydrate, fight frizz, protect against humidity ...

The Museum of Modern Art 26/07/2017

Visiting MoMA

The Museum of Modern Art ~~~ MoMA ~~~On my recent trip to New York, the Museum of Modern Art (or MoMA as it is affectionally known) was on our must-do list. Many moons ago I lived in New York for a short period and MoMA was one of the few New York museums that I didn’t get to visit so I was delighted when my daughter said it was the one museum she really wanted to see. ~~~ Finding MoMA ~~~MoMA is in Midtown, the middle blocks of the city where so many of New York’s best known buildings (think the Rockefeller Centre and Grand Central Terminal) and shops (think Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany’s) are situated. To be precise, the museum entrance is on 53rd Street between 5th & 6th Streets and is in within easy walking distance from several subway stations. ~~~ MoMA’s opening hours and entrance fees ~~~The museum opens daily at 10.30 am and closes at 5.30 with the exception of Friday when it remains open until 8 pm. Entrance is $25 but if you make the most of late openings on Friday and arrive after 4 you’ll get in for free. We arrived early and were so glad we did. MoMA is a popular lady and by midday the ticket queue was long and the museum getting busy. ~~~ What’s it all about MoMA? ~~~My Lonely Planet guide to New York City sums it up nicely; “For art buffs, it’s Valhalla. For the uninitiated, it’s a crash course in all that is addictive about art.” Originally founded in 1929, the museum was reconstructed in 2004. It’s an attractive space – very modern, very white and very angular and with the ...

Schwarzkopf got2b Glued Blasting Freeze Spray 22/07/2017

My hair is glued in place with got2b glued blasting freeze spray

Schwarzkopf got2b Glued Blasting Freeze Spray I have found that Schwarzkopf’s products suit me. I particularly like the got2b 2 sexy range but I recently grabbed a can of the Glued Blasting Freeze Spray. To be honest it was more the size of the can that attracted me than anything else as I needed something small to put in my case when travelling. ~~~~~~~~~ The range ~~~~~~~~~ There are three products in the Glued range – wax, glue (which I take to mean gel) and the spray. Although the Schwarzkopf’s products are unisex, this one appears to be mainly targeted at men who are looking for spikey hair. Oh well! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Blasting Spray ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ So I am not looking for a scandalously different style. I just need something that holds my fine and style challenged hair in place. This product clearly isn’t made for the likes of me but it absolutely does what I want it to. It really does hold my hair in place all day. ~~~~~~~~~ How to use ~~~~~~~~~ Spray from 30 cm distance evenly all over your style or apply to individual strands. The description gives a couple of extra tips which I’ve not deployed but are: 1) For over the For over the top spikes, spray heavily and twist tips. Allow to dry and finish with an additional blast. 2) For that messy look, spray hair from root to end and massage with finger-tips in a circular motion. Finish with a direct blast to cement your style. ~~~~ £££ ~~~~ £4.19 for 300 ml of £1.89 for the 100 ml travel size from Boots. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~ For those who like ...

InterContinental The Barclay New York, New York City 19/07/2017

Staying at the New York Barclay

InterContinental The Barclay New York, New York City To celebrate my daughter turning 30 later this month, we decided that a girls’ trip to New York was in order. We booked flights and our hotel accommodation through British Airways which seemed to offer the best deals and we settled on the Intercontinental New York Barclay. ~~~ Location ~~~The Intercontinental chain has a couple of flagship hotels in the City. We wanted a central location for our stay in New York and the Barclay is in a great ‘midtown’ location. Set out as a grid, Manhattan is surprisingly easy to navigate and ‘Midtown’ is really the central part of Manhattan between 34th and 59th Street. A popular starting point for tourists, midtown has some of the city's most iconic buildings such as the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings. 5 out of 5 ~~~ A hotel with a history ~~~The Barclay has been around since 1926 when it attracted high profile guests such as Bette Davis, Marlon Brando and Ernest Hemingway who apparently did his final revisions to For Whom the Bell Tolls while staying here. It was one of four railroad hotels in New York and was built as part of an expansion to the Grand Central Terminal expansion. Directly over the rail tracks leading into Grand Central, the hotel actually had its own platform in the basement. We soon realised that just a few metres up the road, you can still access the labyrinth of tunnels that lead to Grand Central through a discreet subway entrance. It’s not particularly visible and the entrance is only open on weekdays but it ...

Panasonic TX-L24X5 05/07/2017

The dawning of a new Visual Era

Panasonic TX-L24X5 5 years ago, my mother decided she needed to replace her TV and phoned her retailer of choice (John Lewis) for their advice. A few days later, a John Lewis contractor arrived to install a Panasonic Viera TX-L24X5B. When my parents recently moved into a residential home, we took possession of said Panasonic. I have always been averse to televisions in bedrooms but at the ripe old age of 58, and much to my grown-up children’s amusement, I’ve relented and the Viera is now hanging on a wall in Mr P’s and my bedroom. ~~~ The technical stuff ~~~• Diagonal Size - 24" • Resolution - 1920 x 1080 • Media player (USB playback) • Game mode • PC Input terminal • Freeview HD built-in • High contrast • Energy efficiency Class A ~~~ Putting the set in place ~~~The TV is a typical looking flat screen TV. It’s slim and at doesn’t dominate a room. My parents used the small stand that came with the set. The stand was sturdy but stylish and looked a part of the TV. We wanted it out of the way in our bedroom and decided that it was best on the wall. Mr P found it easy to get a standard wall bracket that fitted and was was able to fit it easily himself. So I came home from work one day to find the TV all in place with no effort at all required on my part to assist in the fitting process. ~~~ Setting the TV up ~~~Having moved the TV, it proved easy to get the TV running in its new home. The TV automatically went into set up mode as we plugged it in and went through its set up to tune in to the ...

Menier Chocolate Factory, London 29/06/2017

A chocolate factory wth a difference

Menier Chocolate Factory, London The Menier Chocolate Factory is my find of 2017. It’s no longer a chocolate factory but a wonderfully intimate little theatre and restaurant. ~~~ Location ~~~Close to London Bridge and Borough Market, the Chocolate Factory is close to that area which will now be remembered for all the wrong reasons because of the tragic events of 3 June which saw the senseless murder of eight innocent bystanders and serious injury to too far many others. It is in fact one of those areas of London that would not have featured on most people’s list of places to see or be seen in a few years ago but is now a vibrant and cleaned up area of London, south of the river. London Bridge is very close by but for me Blackfriars is the more convenient station and is only a brisk 10 minute walk away. ~~~ History ~~~Apparently Menier is the oldest chocolate brand in the world. It was started in France by a Frenchman called, you guessed it, Menier as a pharmaceutical company. Chocolate was used to coat the pills to make them taste better. When his son took over the company it, he just made chocolate and his new Menier chocolate bar became a sensation. It the 1870s Menier bought his company to London and the Menier Chocolate Factory was one of the first commercial buildings to be built in Southwark Street. The building was eventually abandoned in the 1980 and fell into a bad state of repair. It reopened in 2004 in its new theatrical guise. ~~~ As a theatre ~~~A little apart from London’s West End theatre ...

Crabtree & Evelyn Crabtree and Evelyn Citron Honey and Coriander hand therapy cream 24/06/2017

A little tube of luxury!

Crabtree & Evelyn Crabtree and Evelyn Citron Honey and Coriander hand therapy cream I have written a number of hand lotion reviews on Ciao as I go through a lot of the stuff. While the rest of me doesn’t particularly suffer from sensitive skin, my hands are the exception. They are very dry and react to a number of cleaning products. Some rubber gloves tend to make the matter worse rather than protect my hands and my hands seem to be more prone to dry flaking skin in summer. So finding the perfect cream that will instantly help is something of a crusade. This Citron, Honey & Coriander Hand Therapy comes pretty close to perfection but does come at a price. ~~~ A brief history lesson ~~~I had always assumed that Crabtree & Evelyn were the founders of this British company but doing a bit of a research for this review, I discovered that the company was actually founded 40 years ago by someone called Cyrus Harvey and the Evelyn is actually John Evelyn, a 17th Century Englishman who was a visionary of his time. Apparently, he was one of the first naturalists and conservationists whose personal motto was “Explore everything. Keep the best”. The crabtree (the Crab Apple Tree - Pyrus malus) represents beauty. ~~~ £££ ~~~Crabtree & Evelyn products aren’t cheap. They are the kind of product that I tend to buy as gifts for other people but baulk at paying that for myself. The handcream comes in a variety of sizes - 25g for £10, 50g for £11.00, or 250g for £23.00. At the time of writing, Crabtree & Evelyn have a 30% off offer on this range which makes the cream more ...

Fairy Washing Up Liquid 11/06/2017

For 'judicious' hands

Fairy Washing Up Liquid ~~~ A washing up liquid with history ~~~The Fairy website has lots of interesting facts about this washing up liquid that is even older than I am. It seems to have always been there and indeed it almost has. Produced by Procter & Gamble a factory in West Thurrock, the original Fairy washing up liquid was first launched in 1950. As a child of the 60s, I remember it coming in a white tubular container which was often the essential ingredient of a Blue Peter project. Now the liquid comes in a transparent, more modern shaped bottle but the liquid is the same – a vibrant green colour. As a brand, Fairy has been around for even longer. According to their website “Fairy has been filling sinks with suds and kitchens with shiny, clean dishes” since 1898. By the end of 1960, six out of every ten consumers had bought a bottle of the stuff, the market for washing-up liquid had doubled and Fairy Liquid became the number one product in the market. I can still hear the jingle "Now hands that do dishes can feel as soft as your face with mild green Fairy Liquid" reverberating over the airwaves. ~~~ Using the green liquid ~~~Now I am not at all brand loyal when it comes to a wide range of cleaning products. Often, I will pick up the washing up liquid that is on offer or the supermarket own brand. However, having recently emptied the kitchen cupboards in my parents’ house as I helped them move I took home some Fairy liquid and I have to say I’m impressed. It definitely does the job and ...
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