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Secre

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Journalling more for myself than anything else now, so I don't expect reads or rates!

Reviews written

since 23/04/2003

554

Lush Movis Face Soap 12/12/2017

Bready face wash!

Lush Movis Face Soap Mo Constantine combined her love of baking with soap alchemy to create this wheaty face soap. Those of you with no particular love of Lush will be glad to know that this is the last facial cleanser review…at least for now! I have been trying all of the Lush cleansers in the hopes of finding one that can replace Fresh Farmacy now that my skin is less of a hormonal mess. I’ve already been through the collection of fresh cleansers unless there is a seasonal one that I have missed, and so we are moving onto this facial soap. Movis comes in a block like bar of soap which is solid but clearly rather delicate. It has a very wheaty make up which means it is likely to stick to the side if put down when wet; this will obviously impact on the longevity of the bar. I get around this by using the soap holder that seems designed now to cause this reaction. The solid formation of the bar does mean that it lathers up quickly on your hands and doesn’t need the additional time that you will need to make up the fresh cleanser. A good one for on the go; and less likely to ruin a suitcase by the lid falling off or something if you are travelling perhaps! In terms of looks, this is a dark brown bar and it isn’t going to win any awards for attractiveness. It is rather rough of the fingers and it would easily crumble as mentioned above as it is rather more fragile than the full soap bars. This would be due to being made up of wheat germ. Scent wise, I’m not really sure as it doesn’t really smell ...

Hunting Party - Linkin Park 11/12/2017

Not To My Taste

Hunting Party - Linkin Park Linkin Park were a band that I fell in love with as a teenager; their mix of angry rock, vocal supremacy and angst filled lyrics really hit the spot for me at the time. I’m a bit of an odd ball with music; I listen very much for the lyrics and whilst I will listen to a wide range of music, screaming, rap and electronic hip hop stuff doesn’t fill me with joy. With Hunting Party, Linkin Park released an album that I would never have listened to had it not been for the band that created it. Keys to the Kingdom is a track that would normally had me running in the other direction as it is most definitely a screaming track and whilst there is some musical competency with the verses for example, this wouldn’t have been enough for me. The album starts explicit with the lyrics declaring I’m my own casualty, I f*** up everything I see fighting in futility It’s worth just skipping this particular track rather than giving up on the whole album though. All For Nothing comes in with drums and bass and a more typical Linkin Park sound, followed by straight forward rap of the verses. This keeps the anger of the previous track but loses the screaming edge and the chorus is actively musical, although the lyrics didn’t really grab me. Guilty All The Same has heavy bass and drums with an edgy and threatening feel to the opening as it builds up steadily into a crescendo and then suddenly drops off into electric guitar which builds up once more. When you get to the lyrics, Linkin Park surprise ...

Pokemon Yellow (Game Boy) 08/12/2017

Fond Memories of Gaming at its Best

Pokemon Yellow (Game Boy) I go through definite phases when it comes to my interests, and after a long phase of PS Vita I have re-discovered my absolute love for my 3DS. Along with this came my love and adoration for the collection of retro games that I have downloaded onto my 3DS, of which the latest to be added – with great excitement indeed – was Pokémon Yellow; nearly but not quite the original Pokémon! I’d been hoping for this to be re-released for years and finally they did it! And they didn’t re-vamp it with all the Nintendo dumbing downs… they released Red, Blue and Yellow in their original format. This game was the epitome of Pokemon, released as a combination game for Blue and Red, this three colour series set the tone for the next decade; Gold and Silver with Crystal, Sapphire and Ruby with Emerald, Diamond and Pearl with Platinum all the way until Black and White… which had a sequel, Black and White 2 rather than a re-make. More importantly still, this game was one of the major featured highlights of my childhood – yes, I am aware of how sad that sounds – and it holds a very special place in my heart. But unlike other times I have gone back to play retro games I used to love, there was no niggling worry or fear. Because I knew, just knew, that this would still be awesome. The aim if the Pokemon games is two-fold; one is to create and train your own unique Pokemon team in order to create a team that can defeat the eight Gym Leaders, the Elite Four and the Champion and secondly to collect ...

The Magic Kingdom, Disneyworld 07/12/2017

A Magical Wonderful Time

The Magic Kingdom, Disneyworld Disney was actually an add on to our honeymoon as we had the spare budget; originally we had intended to go to Orlando just to spend time at the Universal theme parks. We ended up very grateful that we had taken the additional expense as a vast majority of our honeymoon actually ended up being spent within the Disney parks for a variety of reasons, not least of all the sheer size and scope of the parks. Magic Kingdom Magic Kingdom was actually built after Walt Disney’s death and was intended as a larger and improved version of the park in California. The park itself is definitely huge, with 107 acres of land spread out in a wheel ty0pe structure with Cinderella’s Castle in the centre and pathways spiking out to each of the different lands. Dedicated to fairy tales and Disney characters, this is the oldest of the Disney parks at Orlando and Disney have deliberately kept much of the charming and whimsical nature of the nostalgic rides. There are quite a few interesting little facts about this park, one of which is that Walt Disney created the idea for a series of utilidors – utility and corridor – which are tunnels underground for cast members to travel in. This was because he saw a cowboy in Tomorrowland in Florida and felt that this disrupted the futuristic setting, so he wanted a way for cast members to travel unseen by the public around the park. It’s also interesting that these tunnels are not actually underground; Florida’s high water table prevented that. So they are ...

goodreads.com 06/12/2017

Book Tracker 101

goodreads.com I’ve become lazy ever since Ciao stopped paying Premium for book reviews and instead of carefully crafting reviews which meet our own exacting standards, I have instead moved over to Goodreads to drop my thoughts into. And that’s what they are really; rather than full ‘reviews’ it is more my immediate thoughts on completion of the novel. Most would not be worthy even of an SH rating here (in fact my shortest is a mere six words!), but then, Goodreads has never paid for reviews and so cannot judge. What is Goodreads? Goodreads is essentially a site that works as a book encyclopaedia, a rating and review haven, a personal store of your own reading habits, a way of marking progress to a reading goal, a browsing tool for new books based on your reading habits and a way of communicating with like minded people about books. If that was too long winded, then Goodreads is books. Think books, think Goodreads. You want to keep track of your reading history including tagging genre’s or themes tailored to you? Goodreads. You want to check how a book was received by others before committing your pennies? Goodreads. You want to browse for books based on genre, theme or what your friends are reading? Goodreads. You need a synopsis for a school essay that you forgot about and is due tomorrow. Goodreads. Also SparkNotes. But start with Goodreads for the personal touch. Click and Your Book Is Found One of the most important aspects to Goodreads is the sheer quantity of books within the ...

One More Light - Linkin Park 05/12/2017

Who cares if one more light goes out?

One More Light - Linkin Park Linkin Park is a band who have changed greatly over the years. When they released their debut album in 2000, they were very clearly a rock band and yet they were also highly musical for that genre of music meaning that they drew me in. They were also one of the few rock bands that didn’t swear at all in their music. Their style continued like this until 2006 when they started releasing more stereotypical rock with hip-hop and punk feels, but with additional political overtones that they had avoided previously. Since then, they have stayed mainly within the rock and punk genre’s however have experimented with some acapella works. All this changed with One More Light. One More Light is a complete mix of genre’s and whilst it does have a significant amount of rock within it, I would not be able to call it a rock album anymore. Linkin Park’s lyrics have always been fairly maudlin, however when mixed with a far more introspective music style, a complete lack of angry screaming and some stunningly gentle guitar and lyrical works, this becomes something different. When tied together with the suicide of the lead singer, Chester Bennington, in July 2017 however, you can certainly listen to this album as a musical suicide note. The album starts with Nobody Can Save Me and the opening lines of I’m dancing with my demons, I’m hanging off the edge. Storm clouds gather beneath me, winds break above my head combined with the gentle guitar and pop-like sets up the album for what is to ...

Leaky Cauldron, Orlando 04/12/2017

Eating At The Leaky Cauldron!

Leaky Cauldron, Orlando As one of our treats whilst out and about on park at Universal, we stopped in at The Leaky Cauldon, which is a themed restaurant in the Diagon Alley section of Universal Studios. The vast majority of the time we ate at the more snackish style stalls, rather than have a sit down dining experience, but we couldn’t say we’d been to Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley without eating at one of the foodie places! Getting Served 10/10 They have an interesting set-up for getting served as you queue in much the same way you would for one of the attractions, before being waved to one of the five or six tills to place your order. You can view the menu outside before entering the Leaky Cauldron, so you may already have a fair idea of what you want to eat. The line did move fairly quickly and they had us seated within ten to fifteen minutes. The Menu 8/10 You have to give them credit for effort here as the Leaky Cauldon is all British themed food and they have gone for some real classics. The menu was essentially what you might find in a good old British pub, which considering the fact that you are not in the United Kingdom, is pretty good going really. Obviously, if you are looking for more local fare then you would be looking to go elsewhere, but Diagon Alley is in London as you all should know, and they have been true to character. So, the menu isn’t huge but there is a decent variety of choice including Ploughman’s which serves two, Fish and Chips, Bangers and Mash, Toad in the Hole, Beef, ...

Universal Studios 01/12/2017

Worth it just for Diagon Alley

Universal Studios Universal Studios, Orlando was the second of the parks that we visited during our honeymoon and was actually the larger of the two Universal parks with a fair few more attractions, although set out in a very different manner. Universal Studios Although the second park we visited, this was the first park opened in 1990. The parks theme is the entertainment industry, in particular movies and television and it encourages its guests to ‘ride the movies. It is made up of eight sections; Production Central, New York, San Francisco, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, World Expo, Springfield: Home of the Simpsons, Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone, and Hollywood. Many of the attractions at the park have been developed with the original creators of the films they are based on and several actually feature the stars who played roles in the film. Steven Spielberg helped create E.T. Adventure for instance. Many of the rides including the Simpsons, Despicable Me and Transformers have guest appearances from stars of the show. Whilst there are a significant amount of ‘experience’ attractions, this is a park that has far more of the stereotypical rollercoasters one has come to expect from a theme park. We did our previous trip of taking the park backwards and whizzing through to Diagon Alley… although there’s no right or wrong way to do it. What Is On Offer? Production Central If there’s one thing that has to be said, there’s certainly a wow factor as you walk into the park; ...

Grand Kingdom (PS Vita) 29/11/2017

A Grand Strategy Game

Grand Kingdom (PS Vita) Grand Kingdom is a game that I downloaded on impulse due to it being on offer on the PS Store a while back. I have a nasty habit of spending too much money on these sales… kind of defeating the point of saving money by buying things on sale! It’s a weird game I have to admit as it merges traditional role playing game with tactical strategy and an old school board game like feel to the main maps. That said, it’s a combination that works and is very effective. You start the game as a rookie mercenary leader who gets involved with the strife that is taking over the land. Four kingdoms are at war with each other and you end up leading a band of mercenary’s in battles for your own land. It is set up to allow for both single player and multi player and is actually one of the few games where I have actually played and enjoyed the multi-player, even if I found it confusing. That’s going to be my fault for not playing multi-player at all normally though, rather than the game being too complex. You begin by setting up your team and in the early stages you won’t have enough cash to hire high level mercenaries or even fill one team. As you go through however you will steadily earn experience, loot and money and be able to get up to three complete teams which can be sent out on mercenary runs. The tactical aspect comes from the wide range of classes that you can hire and weighing up their strengths against their weaknesses and picking the best team for each battle. You can obviously ...

Churchill (2017) (DVD) 28/11/2017

A New Set of Eyes

Churchill (2017) (DVD) Churchill was a film that I watched on the entertainment system purely because there was little enough to watch. I surprised myself by actually really enjoying it and finding it to be a fascinating look into the life of the great man in the days before D-Day. Whilst I used to be fascinated with World War II, this interest has waned as I have grown older and I probably wouldn’t have watched this under my own steam. I’d have been missing out on a treat because this is a remarkably good film. It’s interesting and emotive and it shows the man behind the war in a way that I had never truly thought to consider beforehand. It shows his insecurities and his frailties as well as the confidence with which he led the war. It centres around the 1944 Normandy landings, which Winston Churchill believes will be an outright disaster and is doing everything within his power to derail the plans. The film shows Churchill as a man at the end of his tether, who is tired and over-stretched and is sick of the blood of his young men watering great stretches of Europe. With ninety six hours to go before the invasion, Churchill has severe reservations with Operation Overlord and thinks that it is far too risky a plan. Part of the issue however is his concern about his own marginalised role within the war effort and how little his word seems to matter anymore. The film walks quite a thin tightrope between showing Churchill as bitter and almost pitiful and the view of him as the hero who won the war. ...

The Belko Experiment (DVD) 27/11/2017

Final pennies from Ciao on a crappy film...

The Belko Experiment (DVD) The Belko Experiment was a film that caught my attention on the in-flight entertainment system as it looked like it could have been a really suspenseful psychological thriller. As it turns out, they went down the ‘blow everybody’s heads up’ routine instead of psychological suspense, instead choosing to shower you with blood, gore and so much of it that you quickly gave up caring. Not the best of approaches. In two minutes we want thirty of you dead. If thirty of you are not dead, we will end sixty of your lives ourselves. Five, four, three, two, one. Begin. The basic premise is quite intriguing. Belko Industries has a remote multi-storey office building and Mike Milch, one of our key characters, arrives one morning to find security staff turning away some individuals but letting others in. Approximately eighty employees are let in for the day and then everything goes wrong; a voice over the intercom announces that unless those present kill two of their co-workers in a certain amount of time, more will be killed at random. Huge shutters go up around the building, trapping everyone within it and time begins to tick down. You know the story. Heads explode, people are stabbed, sliced, and shot. I'd rather see 'Final Destination' type creativity with this sub- genre. The initial thinking is that this is clearly a hoax in bad taste and obviously nobody goes out and murders anyone else, but when it is dramatically shown – via a lot of heads exploding – that this is not a joke ...

Islands of Adventure 27/11/2017

The Adventure Begins!

Islands of Adventure Our honeymoon was split between Disney World and Universal; there are three Universal parks and four Disney parks that we visited (we gave the Disney water park a miss), and thankfully I can review them all separately as otherwise I would end up with 5000 words if not more on Universal and well over a dissertation on Disney. As it is, we will start with the first park we went to; Islands of Adventure. Islands of Adventure Islands of Adventure is one of Universal’s three parks and is situated in Orlando, Florida. It opened in 1999 and is made up of themed islands which all focus on adventure. There are eight islands in total; Port of Entry, Marvel Super Hero Island, Toon Lagoon, Skull Island: Reign of Kong, Jurassic Park, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, The Lost Continent and Seuss Landing. Seuss Landing is very much aimed at the younger visitors but everything else has rides and attractions for all ages. The park is set out around a lake and there are some beautiful views from across one side to the other. One of the things that Universal truly excels at is theming their sections and so when you walk into Jurassic Park it is like walking into the move; the same goes for Harry Potter. The rides themselves are generally exceptionally well themed, but the detail that has gone into the entire areas is really very impressive. What Is On Offer Port of Entry This opening area to the island has a series of bars, coffee shops and other food areas. We didn’t spend ...

Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Orlando 23/11/2017

Handy Local Hotel to Universal Parks

Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Orlando For our fourteen days in Orlando, we stayed in the Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort. I’m actually not sure why it is called a beach resort considering there is no beach that I could see at any rate, but it is a hotel associated with Universal. The reasons we picked it were fairly simple; it was fairly reasonable in comparison with similar hotels in the area and it offered a shuttle bus to the Universal parks which were our primary reason for picking Orlando. When we inevitably come back, we will stay with Disney as we spent significantly more time on their parks, but that isn’t a mark against this hotel. I believe we paid around about £1000 which works out at about £70 a night and then we averaged $25 dollars so £19 a night in food for both of us if we were eating at the hotel. First Impressions 9/10 First impressions of the hotel as we drove up in an Uber cab were favourable. It’s a large hotel with a well lit and well air conditioned lobby area that has seating, a bar and the service desks. We were met with a smile and a welcoming reception and upon learning that we were on honeymoon were given two drinks vouchers up to a value of $12 each. That worked out as one alcoholic cocktail each by the way… We were asked whether we would prefer to be on an upper or lower floor and (due to paranoia since the Grenville disaster) chose the first floor as we also wanted a poolside view. The only reason I’ve knocked a point off here is because it was a mighty long walk to our ...

Do you consult online reviews before making a purchase? 22/11/2017

I do... but Ciao restricts products so I go elsewhere

Do you consult online reviews before making a purchase? As a member of this site for many a year now, it would perhaps be distinctly odd for me to say that I do not use reviews in order to help me with purchasing decisions. That said, I don’t personally use it for all purchases and the decision making by Ciao to block some product proposals and allow others often seems to me to be counter-intuitive. After all, I don’t check reviews before purchasing most toys, although I will log interesting items in a notebook when I come across them on here for Christmas and birthdays. But by and large, a toy or a book for the girls is going to cost me between £5 and £25 and normally I am buying from reputable brands like Lego. If I see a deal on the Elves sets, I will buy it without bothering to check because I know from experience that the set is of high quality and really quite cool for imaginative play. I don’t check reviews before purchasing make-up, regardless of how many sellers may be offering a specific item through the Ciao search criteria. When I run out of make-up – every five years or so! – then I wait til I next have a do and tend to panic buy at the last minute. Again, these purchases will set me back anywhere from £5 to £15, I tend to buy known brands and I haven’t made any spectacular cock ups yet. Admittedly, this might be more due to my infrequent purchasing habits. I certainly don’t check reviews before buying sanitary products, health products or just about any household item that we use on a daily basis. Essentially, ...

Lush Let the Good Times Roll Facial Cleanser 20/11/2017

Lovely Smell, Indifferent Cleanser

Lush Let the Good Times Roll Facial Cleanser This face and body cleanser is a gentle treat for the skin, leaving you soft to the touch with a buttery popcorn fragrance. This gentle yet scrubby cleanser will soothe and soften your skin, giving it a natural glow. I’ve had great fun recently running through the Lush cleansers to see which one suits my skin type best. Let The Good Times Roll is one of the many that I have tried and eventually discarded. I have favourites and this one doesn’t come in the top five unless you are counting based entirely on smell. It’s not a bad product though and I think a lot is based on what your skin type needs; I have found that Aqua Marina is the best for my skin but the same will not be true for someone with more greasy skin or indeed very dry skin. This is a fresh cleanser and like all of the fresh cleansers Lush have on sale it doesn’t come made up; you have to make it go from powder into a smoother cleansing agent with water. There are obviously good things and bad things to this approach; on the plus side you have a far greater level of choice in how much how heavy a cleanse and if you want a lighter cleanse you can just use more water. However, it is also time consuming and more difficult to get right than using a regular cleanser; add too much water and end up with it falling through your fingers but too little water and you can’t spread it. Personally, I use somewhere between a five to twenty pence piece worth of product and gradually drop water onto it until I get the ...
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