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Hi, I've been around here for a while now and love reading all the new reviews. I'm a teacher and I write mainly during the school holidays.

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since 13/06/2010


Adidas Women's Clima Essentials Tight Pants 13/09/2015

Low rider

Adidas Women's Clima Essentials Tight Pants When buying running gear, my first choice is usually Nike, but I often turn to Adidas for a more economic, less luxurious pair of running tights. The Adidas Clima Essentials were my first pair of three quarter running tights, bought for the summer months as a more mature lady who doesn’t feel able to run in shorts any more, but still needs something cooler for the hot evening runs. I bought these running tights for £17.49 from Amazon about a year ago and, although they are far from my perfect pair of running tights, they have done their job well and proved to be good value. What they look like These tights are not easily identified as Adidas as they do not have the distinctive triple stripe down the outside of the leg. I guess this is why they are the cheaper Essentials range rather than the more expensive style. I find that my other Adidas tights with the stripe are a bit more flattering, giving me a streamlined look – but at the end of the day I don’t really look that glamourous when running and the tights are the least of my problems! The tights are completely plain; a small hidden pocket in the front of the waistband is big enough for a key or a five pound note, but not really big enough for a mobile phone. The waistband is wide at 6cm, but sits low on the hips, well below the tummy button. The wide waistband provides even more comfort and also smooths out any tummy bulges. There is no drawstring to help hold the tights in place but they are very snug and cling on ...

Original Source Skin Quench Body Butter 06/09/2015

A bargain buy

Original Source Skin Quench Body Butter I have long been a fan of Original Source body butter, especially the vanilla and sweet almond oil variety. They cost £5.99 for a 200ml tub from Boots, but they can often be found on three for two offers, or simply reduced as a promotion. I always stock up if this is the case as I never go off these delicious smelling body butters that bear the Vegan Society logo and appear to be made from natural, cruelty free ingredients. It is also available in a lime and coconut fragrance. What is it like to use? This body butter is really rich – something which I need for my skin these days. I use the body butter liberally on my legs, arms and neck and find that it absorbs quickly and without any residue or greasiness. In the pot, the smell is not really that impressive – with slight caramel overtones, it cannot match the power and sweetness of some Lush or Body Shop body butters. It is however half the price of these rival products and can certainly match them in performance if not in initial fragrance. Once on the skin the fragrance starts to develop. Although the sweetness is still present, the smell of vanilla lingers on the skin, leaving a pleasantly clean, if not overwhelming impression. After use my skin really does feel silky smooth and really hydrated. Ethical issues Original Source claim to use natural ingredients and claim “we do not test on animals”. However, when researching this on the web, it seems that there is confusion once again as the company is owned by PZ ...

BeBeached Cafe, Margate 18/08/2015

Best lunch in Margate!

BeBeached Cafe, Margate On a day visit to Margate with a friend, we walked out of the Margate Turner Contemporary art gallery and looked around for somewhere for lunch. Looking along the harbour arm, we spotted some bright pink umbrellas and headed towards what I thought was an ice cream parlour. I couldn’t have been more wrong; we had inadvertently stumbled upon a really unusual and delightful little restaurant, right on the harbour edge. BeBeached Restaurant (when we went inside) is beautifully quirky, lovely and clean, with fantastic views out over Margate beach and the sea. Looking at the menu we could see that the food was better than your standard bistro fare so we quickly sat ourselves down at a table which looked right out to sea. The restaurant BeBeached is located very centrally; right by the old town and next to the Turner Contemporary Art gallery. The restaurant itself is a small narrow building, fairly far out on the Margate Harbour arm. The location is what gives it the fantastic sea views. There are some low tables and chairs outside the building for outdoor dining, topped with bright pink umbrellas. Inside the décor is quirky, with chandeliers, bunting, exposed brickwork and chunky wooden tables and chairs. The storage cupboards and woodwork are painted a bright, cheerful turquoise and there are seafaring mobiles and pictures on the wall as well as candles and ornaments on the window sill. A hatch with the words happiness above it give the diner sight into the kitchens. All ...

Dove Purely Pampering Body Cream 10/08/2015

Cream not butter

Dove Purely Pampering Body Cream As I have grown older I am finding that my skin is drying out and that I need a very rich body lotion to keep moisturised. Because of this, I always head to the body butter shelves in the aisles, liking their ultra moisturising capabilities. I bought my pot of Dove Purely Pampering body cream when it was on offer from Boots. I have had disappointing results with Dove deodorants in the past but the scent of vanilla and shea butter tempted me to give this a go. It was a bad decision; once again Dove disappointed me – and after one purchase I am going back to my usual body butter alternative. Although I only bought the cream a couple of months ago, Boots no longer seem to stock it, but it is available from other retailers. The price of a 300ml pot varies from £5.99 from Ocado to a whopping £9.99 from Amazon. I bought it for £3.99 and certainly would not pay a tenner for this product! Consistency and smell This is a light cream rather than a rich cream. I was looking for something rich and heavy and this is the reason I was disappointed – but I feel it is a branding issue rather than a cream issue. For those people with delicate skins, this cream may be perfect, but calling it a body cream with shea butter gives the buyer the impression that it will be rich. The cream is packaged in a small attractive tub – again giving it the feel of a body butter. If it had arrived in a bottle I would have expected a lighter cream. The scent of vanilla first attracted me to this cream. I ...

Easy Camp Beauvais Camping Kitchen Table 09/08/2015

A useful and sturdy table

Easy Camp Beauvais Camping Kitchen Table After many years of grovelling on the ground, frying my breakfast during camping trips, I decided that my back would take no more, and invested in a cooking stand so that I could stand up whilst cooking. I wanted something that was sturdy but also fairly small and light, and after looking at very light, but flimsy, products, I chose an Easy Camp stand. design I bought my stand at a local camping store for £30 and I was able to test it for height and potential wobble. The size of the fully opened stand is 67W x 48D x 80H cm, and the folded size is 49 x 10 x 79cm. The folded size is just a bit larger than a deckchair, which is ideal for packing neatly away in the boot, especially as it comes in a handy black canvas carry bag which helps with the packing. It weighs approximately 2.2kg, which I found heavier than I had expected but was needed to provide a solid cooking surface. The two horizontal surfaces are made of very light plastic planks, which fold up if necessary, and attach to the main stands with clips. This makes the overall weight of the stand a little less, whilst providing the necessary stability. It also means that the stand is very quick and easy to assemble. what I didn't like Most serious campers will have a two ring gas cooker, attached to a large gas bottle by a thick rubber hose. To protect this from wind, a small, three sided wind break is used, balanced around the gas rings - and if you have a stand, it rest on the top surface of the stand. The Easy ...

Adidas Women's Response Tight 09/08/2015

Can you see my knickers?

Adidas Women's Response Tight I already have one pair of three quarter length Adidas Clima Essentials running tights which I’m not happy with as they sit at hip height rather than on the waist. With this in mind I looked around for a cheap pair of short running tights for the summer, but still came to the conclusion that Adidas were the best value. I went for the Response design in the hope that they would be more comfortable, buying them from the Sports Direct website where they were reduced to £22. What they look like The tights have the distinctive triple white stripe down the outside of the leg, which is both attractive and flattering to wear. The fabric is a bit too thin and shiney for my liking. I have a long pair of Nike running tights that are much thicker and matt. The thinner fabric is obviously cooler to run in during the summer, but it also shows every lump and bump – and I suspect it would show my knickers through from behind if I were to wear anything but white. There is a totally useless draw string around the waist to adjust the size. This is not needed as all running tights cling to your shape naturally. I find them very annoying as they either flap around or get in the way when I tuck them in or tie them up. A nice feature of these tights is the zipped pocket which sits just over the left buttock. These pockets are small and really only fit in one key or some money. I like the security of the zip; I often carry some money around with me for a drink after the run or for emergencies and ...

Campingaz Camp Bistro Stove 09/08/2015

A hot little number

Campingaz Camp Bistro Stove After many years of cooking the ‘professional way’ when camping, I have eventually turned to the small bright blue single gas burner that every tent on the camp site seems to be using these days. For years I have used a large refillable. Calor gas cylinder with a double hob. This traditional method was always the cheapest option but was bulky to pack and heavy to carry. Now that I camp either on my own in the tent or with one adult child, I find there is no need for such extensive cooking paraphernalia. I joined everybody else and bought a Campingaz Bistro Burner for £10 in the sale at Millets, and have not regretted it at all. What it looks like The single Bistro burner comes in a tough black plastic carrying case, which protects it and makes it easy to carry. Incidentally, this also makes it easier to pack and take home if it is greasy – the grease doesn’t get call over everything and you can easily clean both the carrying box and the burner once you get home to some hot water. The burner itself has a bright blue metal casing which measures 34cm by 26cm in total; the black enamelled pan support measures 20cm across, making it big enough to hold a fairly big saucepan or frying pan safely. In addition the ring has raised safety supports to stop pans slipping off the burner and give them extra stability. The side of the casing opens up by putting your finger into a round hole. This exposes the casing for the gas canister – with a lid that shuts down to hide the canister ...

The George, West Bay 07/08/2015

Broadchurch groupie

The George, West Bay I was taking the family to visit an elderly relative in Somerset and decided to find an interesting pub by the coast to make the trip a little bit more enjoyable. I decided to go to West Bay for two reasons; firstly we were all familiar with the scenery from Broadchurch, the recent TV drama; secondly West Bay is a fishing village and The George advertised itself as serving locally caught fresh fish. I couldn’t wait for this double delight. Getting there and parking Driving to West Bay from my relative’s house near Yeovil was a fairly easy 40 minute drive. When we got there we found it to be buzzing but not overly busy for a Wednesday afternoon during school holidays. Clearly most of the people were holiday makers (shorts, brown legs and flip flops) but the village had a calm but bustling atmosphere that I liked. The George is one of three pubs right on the harbour – and parking looked as if it could be difficult at a busier time. There is no free parking for any of the pubs; instead there is a public car park advertised as the George pay and display car park. We paid £1.00 for 2 hours, and extended our stay for another hour with an extra 50p top up ticket. I didn’t think this was unreasonable as the parking was dead in the centre of town. The pub The George is definitely the most attractive pub in West Bay; a large well maintained Georgian building, it stands out from the rest. However, inside it showed signs of wear. I noticed several armchairs with large holes in the ...

Super Beauty Bath & Shower Gel 03/08/2015

Not so nourishing !

Super Beauty Bath & Shower Gel I usually browse the shelves of Boots for reasonably priced products that I can use in the bath as an alternative to soap. I was attracted to the simplicity of the label on this bath gel, with its images of ice cream and honey – and also to the fragrances as I always love the smell of vanilla either in scented candles or soap. I have bought a couple of bottles of large 500ml Super Beauty Bath and Shower gel for £4.99 over the past few months. While I am not bowled over by the scent or the luxury, I find it to be a pleasant and fairly economical product for everyday use. The Super Beauty brand is owned by a company called Brand Architekts. This UK company seems to specialise in producing low priced products such as Flower Pharm and Dirty Works for the supermarkets; low priced and usually non-luxury products. Look, smell and consistency This gel is a mid-yellow colour which is fairly cheerful even though it makes the gel look less natural. It squeezes out of the bottle via a flip capped nozzle and it is easy to control the amount of gel that goes onto your hand. The consistency is rather glutinous –definitely not a luxury product. It feels cheap and far from the nourishing experience that the bottle promises! I find the smell rather nice – it actually smells better than it feels. The scent is rich and a fairly strong and accurate smell of vanilla comes from the gel as I use it. I cannot detect a smell of honey. I gave my family a blind smell test…. none of them detected ...

Aspasios Apartments, Barcelona 28/07/2015

Clean and comfortable, but not very Spanish

Aspasios Apartments, Barcelona Planning a short break with the family to Barcelona, as usual I looked for a cheap but central apartment as opposed to a hotel. I booked a little bit late and was surprised to find the majority of apartments already taken for July (the week before schools break up). In addition I thought the prices were higher than those I had found in other European capital cities. The choice of Aspasios Arago Apartments was therefore forced upon me. I ended up booking through – which was easy and efficient. Booking was free and I was able to cancel without charge. The entire cost was E591 for three nights, which was to be paid on arrival. Some of the reviews on Tripadvisor were less than complimentary and the price was a little higher than I had planned so I approached my departure date with some trepidation. However, the stay was pleasant and I was pleased with my choice of these well managed, fairly central apartments. Location Aspasios Arago is situated in the Exiample area; this area is close to some Gaudi classics such as La Pedrera and Casa Batlo and it is also close to the top end of La Rambla (the famous tourist area and long street that bisects the old area of the city. Although it was nice to be close to these tourist attractions, we somehow always managed to start our day by walking the long walk to La Rambla and down to the sea front and the other attractions of the central tourist area. As La Rambla is 1.5k long, this turned out to be fairly tiring and if I were ...

Joules Welly Socks 20/06/2015

A must for every wellie wearer

Joules Welly Socks Since I became a dog owner, I find that I practically live in my wellies; easy to step into before a jaunt to the park, they have been a godsend during all the recent rain. However there is a down side - after half an hour trudging through cold mud, my toes start to become numb and my feet quickly become too cold and uncomfortable to carry on with my walk. I bought my wellie socks on a whim, having no idea what to expect. I think I just expected a very long and thick pair of socks, but the reality of Joules Wellie socks was far better and the £12.95 that I paid has been worth every penny. Looking at The Socks My Wellie socks are bright yellow, but Joules makes them in a variety of colours and patterns to suit every taste. They come in a handy little drawstring bag which is made out of the same 100% polyester fleece material as the socks and has the Joules label sewn onto the front with a picture of a pink Wellie sock. The drawstring bag has an elasticated drawstring and a yellow toggle tie to tighten the bag. The socks are available in sizes small, medium and large; I chose the medium size which was just right for my size 7 feet. The sock itself has a complicated construction more like a fleece boot than a sock. The foot part of the sock is made from three pieces of fleece material – all sewn together firmly with a strong zig zag seam stitch. The sole of the sock forms one piece; the toe cap is the second piece and the main body of the foot forms the final piece. On top ...

High Hope House, Hastings 17/06/2015

Hopes fulfilled !

High Hope House, Hastings Planning another short break by the sea with friends, my decision to book a cottage in Hastings had some definite tick boxes. I wanted to be in the centre of Hastings; I wanted to be close to the sea; I wanted to be in the Old Town rather than the more touristy new town. High Hope House ticked all of these boxes and in addition was both cheap to rent, and full of old fashioned charm. I booked my stay online through I travelled with five people and the cost of renting this house for three nights in June was only £270 plus a £100 refundable deposit. £54 each and definitely a bargain! Location Hope House is in a very central location; around a 10 minute walk downhill to the sea, it is close to the famous fishermen’s net sheds, museums and cafes of the artists quarter and old town. The cottage has beautiful views over Hastings and the bay, with the sea clearly visible from the front of the house. It is an easy walk down to the sea but a slightly harder walk up if you don’t take the Victorian cliff railway lift (cost £2.50 for two journeys). There is a small local shop about 5 minutes from the house which supplies all the basics – and pubs, restaurants etc are a short walk away. Living rooms There is a small living room with a tiny pink TV/ CD player and a beautiful old fireplace. Comfy furniture is not part of the décor; instead there is a selection of small upholstered chairs which suit the mood of the place beautifully. A selection of CDs are available ...

The Company of Animals Clix Multi Clicker 09/06/2015

If only it worked on humans!

The Company of Animals Clix Multi Clicker We acquired Ollie, our golden cocker spaniel, from a rescue centre. He came to stay with us at the age of two. On his arrival we were delighted to see that Ollie knew all the basic commands and was very ready to please. He could sit, and soon would lie, stay and wait for his food. His recall was not so good, and what little training he had in this area seemed to quickly disappear once he had experienced our novice approach to dog walking. Gradually the call of the rabbits overcame his desire to please us, and we had to embark on some serious training to avoid falling out with our local park keeper for ever. Reading through various training advice on the internet, the clicker method of training seemed to be the one that made the most sense. The advice was “how many times a day do you say Good Dog, and not mean it?” Using a clicker to communicate your approval allows the human owner to speak to the dog in a more meaningful way. I rushed out to my local pet supermarket and bought the CLIX multi-clicker for £3.95. The clicker itself is a rather neat blue plastic device that, at 7cm long, can fit nicely into your palm when you are out walking. My clicker has an elasticated thong so that it can be attached to a belt or zip if you do not want to carry it. A thumb-shaped button is ridged for extra grip, and when it is depressed it depresses a flexible metal sheet, making a sharp clicking noise. Another button on the back allegedly turns the volume of the click up or down, but in ...

Brooks Vapor 2 Women 31/05/2015

Avoiding injury

Brooks Vapor 2 Women I take my running seriously (running around 20k a week in short or long bursts) but I would not call myself a technical or athletic runner by any means. As I was starting to get mild niggles in my knees and hamstrings, I felt that I had reached the stage of splashing out a bit more money on a serious runners trainer. Everything I was reading was telling me that good trainers are essential to avoid injury, so I went to Runners World and was measured up for the best pair of trainers for me. The staff at the shop checked my gait and told me that I was a mild pronator (my foot leant inwards when I ran). I needed trainers to counteract this. I personally wanted a trainer that was brightly coloured, wide enough to be comfortable for my fairly wide feet, with a lot of strong support that I like when running. The Brooks Vapor 2 was recommended as the best trainer for me and I bought a blue pair for around £90. What my trainers look like Despite myself, this was an important factor for me. I was fed up with boring white trainers that showed every muddy puddle that I ran through. The vibrant mixture of turquoise and dark blue on the Vapor 2 suited me perfectly. The front of the shoe is mainly turquoise mesh, with a small insert of silver leather at the end of the big toe to strengthen the mesh against the forward pounding motion of the foot when running. The back of the shoe is dark blue with stripes of metallic turquoise, and the laces and inside of the trainer are also dark ...

Robin Hill Holiday Cottage, Rye 11/05/2015

Smile Please !

Robin Hill Holiday Cottage, Rye I love a weekend away with a group of friends in a shared house. Every year we try to find accommodation that is a bit unusual, in an interesting and lively location. This year we found that we had taken on more than we expected ! Robin Hill house in the centre of Rye in East Sussex; located in a beautiful old cobbled street and right opposite the famous Mermaid Hotel, it is close to the shops, pubs and restaurants and an easy two mile flat walk over fields to the sea. From the outside Robin Hill is perfect – so perfect that we constantly found ourselves being snapped by tourists, peered at through the windows as we sat relaxing inside, and generally the centre of attention. None of this was too much of a problem; in fact we enjoyed waving at the peering tourists to embarrass them. More unusual was the strange décor inside this beautiful old 15th century house. The whole house is dedicated to China; flags hanging from the ceiling, statues in the garden, strange ornaments all over the house (including the bathroom) and a full size rickshaw in the lounge. It was more than a bit of a surprise and strangely unsuitable for a rented house. In addition the owner had placed old family photos around the whole house, presumably with the aim of creating a relaxed, friendly feel. Unfortunately the cumulative effect was just to make me feel a bit of an intruder, and rather uncomfortable. On the plus side, the house was lovely and warm, the carpet was deep and new and the whole house ...
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