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Reviews written

since 30/04/2003


Franz Josef Glacier 20/12/2015

Amazing nature!

Franz Josef Glacier At the end of last year I took my young son on a 5 week trip to New Zealand. Before we left we spent time planning what we wanted to do and see in the short time we had. Near the top of our list was a visit to the Glaciers on the west coast of the South Island. We wanted to visit both Franz Josef and the smaller Fox Glacier and decided to stay in the larger township of Franz Josef as reviews seemed to favour this Glacier for having the best scenery. Getting there. *************** *** Getting to the West coast is not easy, but for me that is part of its attraction! I prebooked a hire car before we left as this was the cheapest option as far as I could see. I wanted to have the freedom to go where we pleased without having to rely of public transport. We decided to travel via Hamner springs where we spent time visiting the thermal pools (see my review for more details). From Hamner we drove over the attractive Lewis pass to Hokitika via Greymouth. We stayed a night in Hokitika to break up the 6 hour journey. It took about 3 hours to drive from Hokitika to Franz Josef. Although we had torrential rain for much of the drive the little we could see of the scenery was truly stunning! Alternatively you could drive via the better known and equally scenic Arthur’s pass. Both these passes can become blocked by ice and snow in the winter months so check before setting off! It is possible to travel using public transport with the tranz alpine train running ...

VAX Dual Power Pro Carpet Washer 23/06/2015

A clean affair..

VAX Dual Power Pro Carpet Washer Browsing on Amazon a few months ago I spotted a Vax carpet washer featured as a * deal of the day*. To be honest I hadn’t considered buying one before but the deal price of £149.99 persuaded me! I have hired a carpet cleaner in the past from rug doctor and had been very pleased with the results. However the heavy machine had to be collected and returned, plus the hire charge is not cheap! I justified my new purchase as it would be a lot more convenient and would pay for itself after several uses. Whats in the box. *************** ****** This is a heavy machine weighing 9.5KG. The large box contained the main unit, comprehensive instruction booklet and several tools including- The machine has a powerful 1200 watt motor and uses dual tank technology, meaning there are two separate tanks, one for clean water and another for dirty water. The machine also has something called twin air path technology meaning that it has very powerful suctions helping to suck up excess water. The spin scrub brushes rotate next to each other to effectively remove dirt and grime. A spin scrub tool – useful for cleaning the stairs. Upholstery tool. Hose- attaches to the main unit and is used with the spin scrub tool and upholstery wash tool. Hard floor tool. Vax includes a cloth bag to keep the tools together. 2 bottles of 250 ML ultra solution were also included. The machine feels very sturdy and appears well designed. It comes with a 6 year ...

Wella SP Luxe Oil Reconstructive Elixir 19/06/2015

Liquid gold

Wella SP Luxe Oil Reconstructive Elixir My local hair salon has recently started to use Wella products and they seem to suit my hair. I have dry, unruly hair that is prone to be frizzy especially when the weather is damp or humid. On my last visit I decided to treat myself to a few products from the Wella range including a bottle of SP luxe oil reconstructive elixir. I paid £15 for a 100ml bottle; expensive but cheaper than most internet sites! The oil ************ Wella SP luxe oil comes in a clear glass bottle with gold covered pump action top. I like this type of dispenser as it helps to ensure I don’t use too much of the oil. The bottle looks classy on my bathroom shelf. The product contains a combination of oils including; almond oil to hydrate the hair, Moroccan Argan oil known as liquid gold to nourish the hair and jojoba oil to help mend split ends. How to use the oil *************** ******* This is a very versatile product as it can be used in several ways. It can be used both on wet or dry hair. On wet hair it is recommended you use 2-3 drops (about 1 pump) and massage through the hair after shampooing. I think it is best to massage about mid way down the hair concentrating on the ends. I like to let my hair dry naturally to avoid heat damage. The oil is absorbed into the hair as it dries and will help to prevent frizz and breakage. The oil can also be used on dry hair either prior to shampooing, after blow drying or as an overnight treatment. If you are using ...

Wella Purifying Shampoo 18/06/2015

A purifying experience.

Wella Purifying Shampoo My hair dresser has recently started to use Wella products and they seem to suit my unruly hair. I find that changing hair care products from time to time seems to benefit my hair. On my last visit my hair dresser suggested I try the Wella purifying shampoo to help remove residue left by hair care products. I was happy to take her advice and bought a bottle to try. The shampoo. *************** **** Wella purifying shampoo comes in a purple plastic bottle. I paid £6.99 for a 250ml bottle (cheaper than on many internet sites). This is a lot more than I would normally pay for a bottle of shampoo and I was hopeful that it would be worth that high price tag! The information on the bottle tells me that this shampoo contains natural bamboo extract and will help to remove any residue left by hair care products and environmental pollutants. As my hair has been looking a bit dull lately I hoped using this shampoo would help to give it some shine. The shampoo has a gorgeous scent; sort of fresh and floral. The shampoo is quite thick and I didn’t need much to produce a good lather. The shampoo is easily rinsed off and I used a conditioner to help moisturise my dry hair. I usually let my hair dry naturally as rarely have time to style my hair! The first time I used this shampoo I was really happy with the results. My hair looked and felt a lot smoother and had some shine back. I use this shampoo about once a week and I really do think it delivers on its ...

Hobbiton Tours, Matamata 20/05/2015

A trip to middle earth..

Hobbiton Tours, Matamata Last November I traveled to New Zealand for a 5 week trip with my 12 year old son. Before we left we spent time together planning what we wanted to do and see. My son is a fan of the Hobbit and knew that trilogy had been filmed in New Zealand. He was really keen to visit some of the locations and especially wanted to visit the Hobbiton film set located on the North Island. Although I am not a fan I was more than happy to take him. Booking. ************** I decided to book before we left as we had a tight schedule and wanted to spend most of our time on the South Island. Booking was quick and east via the Hobbiton web site. There were several options available including trips starting from Rotorua via coach, trips collecting from the nearby town of Matamata or you can opt to drive yourself to the main booking office where you will be taken by coach on the short drive to the film set. I decided to drive to the main booking office and paid $75 (£36) for myself and $ 37 for my son. Children under 14 pay just $10. It is not possible to tour the film set independently. Once you have selected where you would like your tour to start from you will need to select a tour time. I would strongly advise you to select the first tour of the day starting at 9.30 am, this avoids having to follow others and the place is quiet at this time of day. I was sent a conformation email and tickets to print and take with me. Getting there. *************** **** We ...

Go Travel Memory Foam Luxury Travel Pillow 18/05/2015

Happy feet!

Go Travel Memory Foam Luxury Travel Pillow I find it really difficult to sleep on planes and so whilst in the airport waiting for our mammoth long haul flight to New Zealand I decided to buy a couple of travel pillows for myself and my son as I thought they would help us to sleep. There were several options available and I eventually opted for a memory foam design from Travel go; mainly as this brand was on offer making it cheaper than its rivals. I can’t remember exactly how much I paid but can see that this design retails for around £15 in most shops. The pillow. *************** The pillow is covered in soft velour making it pleasant to touch. There were a few colour options available and I choose the blue/grey colour as I thought it looked quite smart. The cushion has a curved shape and a flat back design; the idea being that the pillow will lie flat against a head rest. It is filled with visco-eatic memory foam designed to return to its original shape no matter how much it is crushed. The pillow is designed to wrap around your neck, giving support to your head and neck whilst travelling and is especially recommended for use on planes and trains. The pillow has a loop on one side and button on the other designed to allow you to fasten the pillow to a case or bag making it easy to carry. It is quite bulky and being able to attach it to by bag was helpful. My opinion. *************** * I really had high hopes of this pillow believing it would help me to get some much needed ...

Soap & Glory Peaches & Clean 17/05/2015

A dry experience for me..

Soap & Glory Peaches & Clean I am a big fan of the soap and Glory range and have tried most of the products in the range with positive results. My family and friends know how much I love the range and so it is no surprised that I receive soap and glory products as gifts. Last Christmas I was very happy to be given a beautifully gift wrapped selection of soap and glory products from a close friend. One of the items was a bottle of wash by the name of *peaches and clean*. Peaches and clean. *************** ********** The face wash comes in a plastic, pump action bottle. I really like this kind of dispenser and it is easy to use and dispenses the correct amount of face wash without any waste. The information on the bottle claims that this cleansing milk has a special * clogged pore formula with peach and gojuice extracts and oxyginseng technology*. I have no idea what any of this actually means! However the promise of clean skin that is also invigorated sounds good to me! Soap and Glory say that this cleansing milk will not only melt away make up and grime, but will also remove water proof mascara. I have sensitive skin and am always very careful of any product I use around my eye area. However I did give it a try and was less than impressed at how well (badly) it dealt with mascara. On the positive side it didn't cause any irritation. Soap and Glory recommend you use this cleansing milk twice a day; first thing in the morning and before bed. It is suggested you use two pumps ...

Tesco Fitted Sheet Single 17/05/2015

Well fitted!

Tesco Fitted Sheet Single I only buy 100% cotton bedding as I think it is so much nicer than man made fibres. Last year I replaced several of my sheets as they had become thin and worn. In the past I have bought most of my sheets from Marks and Spencer’s but felt there prices were too high. I decided to check out what was on offer in my local Tesco and was pleased to find some cotton, fitted single sheets for just £8. To be honest I wasn’t expecting much for the low price I paid and so was pleasantly surprised by the quality. The sheets have a thread count of 180-300 and although they are not as thick as my previous ones, they are of reasonably thickness. I use a mattress protector on my beds and this helps to pad the mattress. I like using fitted sheets, especially on my son’s bed as he is a restless sleeper and unfitted sheets always come away from the mattress. The fit of the sheet is perfect for his single bed and it stays put. I have washed the sheets numerous times and they really do wash well and show no signs of wear. I see from the Tesco web site that this single sheet is available in several colour choices including black, white, silver and cream. When I bought mine I seem to remember there was only cream and white on offer in store. I opted for white to coordinate with my duvet covers. Overall I would definitely recommend these sheets. They are excellent value for money, wash well and are comfortable to sleep on.

Curio Bay, Catlins 11/05/2015

Finding solitute

Curio Bay, Catlins I have recently returned from a 5 week trip to New Zealand. Before leaving a lot of time was spent planning where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see in the short time that we had. I love to find places * off the beaten track* and so the remote Catlins situated in the lower south east coast of the South Island really appealed. Looking for somewhere to stay for a few days in this area I opted for Curio bay as it is prime location to view the rare yellow eyed penguins. Getting there. *************** ** There is no public transport to this area. However during the summer months the bottom bus travels through the Catlins, there is a full timetable on their web site at I arranged car hire before leaving home as this seems to be the cheapest option. There is an International airport in Christchurch; a drive of 539 KM. Alternatively there are airports located at Dunedin (I hours drive) and Invercargil (3 hour drive). We drove from Te Anau following our trip on Doubtful sound and it took me about 4 hours to travel the 243km. The drive was stunning with lots of photo stops on route. There are no towns of any note and only a few tiny hamlets so I was glad I have packed drinks and snacks for the journey. It is also important to watch your fuel gauge as petrol stations and not plentiful! The Catlins. *************** * The Catlins encompass the area between Kaka point and Fortrose. It is a very remote area ...

Nivea Visage Gentle Facial Cleansing Wipes 07/05/2015

A clean visage

Nivea Visage Gentle Facial Cleansing Wipes I have recently been using Clinique products to cleanse my face and have been impressed by the results. However I recently had a girly weekend away with a friend and as I was travelling by train I wanted to keep my luggage to an absolute minimum. With this in mind I replaced my Clinique with a pack of Nivea facial wipes, as not only did they take up very little space but they are advertised as being suitable for removing eye make up. The wipes come in a plastic pack containing 25 wipes. I can’t remember how much I paid for the wipes but see that my local Boots have the wipes on a half price offer at just £1.62. The wipes are available in several variants and I opted for the dry/sensitive skin version. The wipes contain natural almond oil and are alcohol free. Products with alcohol tend to dry my skin so I always avoid anything containing alcohol. Nivea claim that these wipes are gentle enough to use around the sensitive eye area . My opinion. *************** * The first thing to say is that I find most plastic packs difficult to reseal effectively, especially after a few uses when the sticky tabs start to loose their sticking ability! This pack is no different and after a few uses I struggled to keep the pack securely closed after use. This means that the remaining wipes will dry out and be useless. However on the positive side I found the wipes a decent size and am also pleased to report that they didn’t tear during use. The wipes are really moist ...

Clinique Liquid Facial Soap Extra Mild 01/05/2015

A lack of lather

Clinique Liquid Facial Soap Extra Mild I have dry, sensitive skin and have to be careful what products I use on my face. When cleansing my face I do prefer to use something that washes my face as opposed to a cream as I feel that creams can block pores. I have been using Clinique mild facial soap with good results. I recently received a £10 voucher to use in Debenhams and decided to treat myself to a bottle of liquid facial soap as my bar was nearly finished. Clinique liquid facial soap comes in a mint green plastic pump action bottle. The addition of a silver collar around the top gives the bottle quite a classy look. The soap comes in several variants including dry/combination skin, oily skin and extra mild. I opted for the extra mild formula. I paid £16 for a 200ml bottle, but as I had a £10 voucher it bought the price down to a more affordable level! Clinique claim that using this soap will cleanse skin without stripping it of essential lipids. They also claim that the formula will help to loosen flakes leaving skin smooth without any drying effects. My opinion. *************** ** The first thing to say is that I really like pump action dispensers and this one works well and I find that just one pump gives me enough soap to cleanse my face and neck. I can’t detect any particular scent from this soap although it does have a slightly citrus note. Clinique recommend you use the soap with warm water, lathering between your palms before massaging your face and neck. I have to say ...

Sony TDG-BR250 15/04/2015

A 3D experience

Sony TDG-BR250 A few years ago I treated my 2 boys to a new Bravia 3D TV from Sony. I did ,my research before buying and finally decided to buy direct from Sony as they not only matched the best price I could find but also * threw in* some great extras for free. Part of the deal included 2 pairs of 3D glasses to enable us to watch 3D movies. The glasses. *************** ** The model number of the glasses I have is TDG- BR250. These have now been superseded by a later model. The glasses are made from plastic and are a wrap around design. They are available in both adult and child sizes and I opted for adult sized glasses so they would last. The glasses need to be fully charged before use and this is done via the supplied USB cable. The cable simply attaches to the TV . The glasses have a small LED light at the side which flashes green when the glasses are in use and charged. When the charge is getting low the flashes increase in frequency until the light turns red and the glasses cease to function. According to Sony each charge should last for around 100 viewing hours. I have not timed how long a charge lasts but it is a long time! On the other hand the glasses charge very quickly. The glasses have what Sony refers to as specialist active shutter technology and they are designed to work with all Bravia 3D TVs giving excellent 3D picture quality with no flicker. My opinion. *************** ** The glasses feel very robust and despite ...

Laura Ashley Peony Embroidered Duvet Cover 09/04/2015

Getting under the peonies

Laura Ashley Peony Embroidered Duvet Cover I asked for Ciao to add this Laura Ashley duvet cover to the catalogue as its so gorgeous and I wanted to share my thoughts with you! Let me begin by saying that I have a large double room that I use as my spare bedroom. I decorated it using Laura Ashley dusky pink paint on three walls with a dusky pink, peony wallpaper on the remaining wall. I think the rooms looks lovely and I recently bought some full length curtains in the next sale. I love Laura Ashley although usually wait for their sale before I buy as they are very expensive at full price. Just before Christmas I spotted a duvet cover that I thought would be perfect for my guest room and as it was in the sale I bought it. I also bought 2 matching pillowcases. I usually opt for 100% cotton bedding and this can be tricky to find. Laura Ashley has a good range of cotton bedding and I can usually find something to love! The peony duvet cover is available in double, king size and super king size. The double I bought measures 200 cm x 200 cm. It has four large peonies embroidered in the centre on a white background. The outside edges have a dusky pink silk effect band. The duvet has a button fastening closure and the buttons are well secured. I mention this as I sometimes find buttons are not very secure and quickly fall off. The pillow cases have to be purchases separately and have a matching peony in the centre with the same silk edging. I seem to remember I paid about £12 each for the pillow ...

Sealy Pure Tranquility Mattress 08/04/2015

Support is priceless

Sealy Pure Tranquility Mattress I have suffered with back pain for many years and when I needed a new mattress I wanted one that would help ease the pain. My local furniture store recommended a Sealy mattress and as they had a promotion at the time on all beds and mattresses I decided to take their advice. The mattress I opted for was a Sealy pure tranquillity. So did it live up to its Name? I have now had this mattress for well over a year so feel able to give a considered review. The mattress. *************** *** Sealy pure tranquillity mattresses come in all bed sizes including super king size to fit my bed. Sealy promise that this mattress will help to ensure your spine is correctly aligned as you sleep helping to reduce pain. This is achieved by the 1400 enclosed pocket springs. The springs are all separately enclosed in their own fabric pocket so they can react as you move. The springs are covered with a 40 mm layer of latex that helps to cushion you as you sleep. The mattress has something Sealy call * airlay cushioning* to help keep you cool and prevent moisture from getting into the mattress helping to prolong its life. The mattress is suitable for use on all types of bed frames including divans and slatted bed bases. The mattress is 30 cm deep and does not need to be turned- a relief for me as my bed is huge! The mattress has a quilted cover and looks like a high quality item. It comes with a manufactures 5 year warranty. My opinion. *************** ...

Dunlopillo Serenity Latex Pillow 07/04/2015

The cost of sleep..

Dunlopillo Serenity Latex Pillow I suffer with a back problem and getting a good night’s sleep can be difficult. In order to help ease pain I have tried numerous pillows and have finally found a pillow that gives me good support in the Dunlopillo serenity latex pillow. At £55 comfort comes at a high cost! The pillow. *************** * All pillows are not equal! This one comes with a removable zipped cotton/ polyester knitted type cover that can be washed at 40 degrees. The cover is designed to stop dust mites and bacterial helping allergy sufferers. Referred to as a * climazone* cover it will also help to keep you cool in summer. The pillow measures 43 cm x 64 cm and is described as firm. It is quite slim which is perfect for me as I like to sleep with two pillows. Thicker pillows tend to give me a neck ache! The pillow is filled with 100% latex foam which is designed to mould to your head shape without sinking. My opinion. *************** * This was an expensive pillow and I think it was well worth its high price tag. I find the pillow really comfortable and like the removable cover. The latex foam keeps its shape and even after a few years of use the pillow still looks as good as new. I bought my pillow from John Lewis but see it is available from other retailers. ...
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