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Boots Conditioning Nail Polish Remover Pads 01/09/2014

Puny pads

Boots Conditioning Nail Polish Remover Pads I first tried Boots Nail Polish Remover Pads years and years ago, I think my mum bought them for me. I’ve bought them on and off over the years - if I’m buying nail polish remover, sometimes I’ll see these and decide to get them instead, thinking they’re more convenient than remover and cotton wool. The nail polish remover pads come in a small tub, and are the size of an average cotton wool pad. There are 15 pads in a tub, current price is £1.50. When you open the tub, you get a whiff of that unmistakable chemical smell of nail polish remover - unpleasant, but par for the course. I find the wipes themselves to be really quite damp, they are properly soaked in remover. They also seem very thin, certainly thinner than the average cotton wool pad. This thinness is, I believe, a contributing factor to why I’m not very keen on these pads. I find they aren’t particularly effective. I’m sure products like this are meant to be easy to use and will wipe nail polish off with little effort, but frankly I find that a good deal of rubbing is involved - and not just with these pads, but with standard nail polish remover on cotton wool as well. However, if I compare these pads to other alternatives that I have used, I think they need more effort than nail polish on cotton wool. I think that the thicker cotton wool enables you to rub your nails more effectively, therefore getting the polish off more easily. The nail polish remover pads do work, they do remove nail polish, but not as ...

Nivea Hydro Care Lip Balm 18/08/2014

Brilliant balm

Nivea Hydro Care Lip Balm For the last couple of years, my favourite lip balm has been Nivea Hydro Care. I’ve liked Nivea lipbalms for years, but had tended to stick to the more “standard” looking varieties until one day I couldn’t find my preferred variety in Boots, so I decided I’d give Hydro Care a go. Nivea Hydro Care lip balm comes in a twist up tube like the various other Nivea lip balms. It is currently priced at £1.58 from Boots. The stick of balm is white in colour. The blurb on the front of the pack states that it offers “long lasting intensive moisture” and contains “pure water and aloe vera”. It is also SPF 15, which is an added benefit. Applying the lip balm is very easy - simply smooth the stick over your lips. I find that a single application is adequate, just once over each lip - I never feel the need to go over my lips more than once per application. The lip balm has one of those standard lip salve fragrances which I can’t name - it’s similar to any original fragrances lip balm/salve, and bears a resemblance to Nivea Soft moisturising cream. I find that the Hydro Care lip balm has just the right consistency - it’s thick enough that I only need to smooth it over my lips once, but it’s not so thick that it feels too much. It’s not sticky or very greasy, and it absorbs into my lips reasonably quickly. I use Hydro Care probably once in an average day to keep my lips soft, and it is very good for that. I don’t feel the need to reapply, as it stays on my lips for a while even if I’m ...

Which Are Your Five Favourite Cities In The UK? 15/08/2014

History, Culture & Cows

Which Are Your Five Favourite Cities In The UK? While pondering this list, I found it quite difficult to come up with five cities. The first four were easy, but in considering the fifth, I realised that although I’ve been to many places around the UK, I haven’t spent a lot of time in many cities. For example, my birthplace is Inverness, but I haven’t been there in years so it’s not included. London Without doubt, London is my favourite city in the UK. And not as a tourist, but as a long-time resident. We only recently left London to return home to Aberdeen, but the decision wasn’t based on not wanting to be in London, rather that we wanted to be in Aberdeen. I’ve been proud to call myself a Londoner, and I probably always will. London is an amazing city. Chock full of history and culture, Samuel Johnson had the right idea when he said “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”. I can’t possibly review the whole city here, so just a few thoughts on my favourite areas and what I love most. My favourite “touristy” parts of London are the ones associated with tradition and history, particularly royal tradition. On my last night in London before returning to Aberdeen for good (I continued working there a few days a week for two months after we actually moved), I went for a walk, and my route says a lot about the places in London that I love: Park Lane, Hyde Park, Hyde Park Corner, Constitution Hill, Buckingham Palace, the Mall, Green Park, Piccadilly. Missing from that list are Birdcage Walk, Trafalgar Square, ...

Chapstick Original 15/08/2014

Chapstick to the rescue

Chapstick Original A few months ago we moved home to Aberdeen from London. We hired a van to do the move ourselves, packed up all our stuff, loaded the cats and ourselves into the front, and set off to drive overnight. What on earth does this have to do with Chapstick I hear you wonder...well, I think the circumstances of why I bought Chapstick are relevant to my experience of it. You see, after an hour or two in the van, I felt that my lips were drying out. I reached for my backpack to get my trusty Nivea lipbalm, only to remember that I had changed “van” backpacks at the last minute. I knew exactly where in the back of the van my original backpack was - on a shelf above the cab and completely inaccessible. I was slightly annoyed, but never mind, I’d live. A few hours later I was really desperate for some lip balm - the air in the van must have been really dry. We stopped at a small filling station in the early hours of the morning and I thought I’d try to get some lip balm, not really feeling very hopeful. But lo and behold, there was some Chapstick Original - I grabbed it and ran to the till, despite it seeming a bit pricey at £2.99 for a rather small tube. I’ve never bought Chapstick before as it just never attracted me, but frankly I needed something to relieve my dry lips. And it was that or nothing, so Chapstick it was. I pulled the cellophane off, twisted the balm out of the tube, and smeared it over my lips. Oh, the relief. I didn’t really give much thought to the scent or texture ...

The Body Shop Mango Lip Butter 14/08/2014

Murder by mango!

The Body Shop Mango Lip Butter I am a big fan of the Body Shop. I love their shower gels, scrubs, body name it, I've tried it. A few years ago a friend of mine started doing Body Shop At Home parties, so there was yet more opportunity to try new products! At one point I ordered the Cocoa Butter Moisturising Lip Care Stick, as I loved the rest of the range, but after a few uses I felt my lips were dry and getting a bit sore, so I switched back to my regular lip balm. A while later, my friend went travelling for several months and left me with her Body Shop party kit so I could keep it going for her. During the time that all this wonderful Body Shop stuff was sitting in my living room, I ran out of lip balm. So I decided to borrow the Mango Lip Butter until I had a chance to nip into Boots. Oh what a mistake... The lip butter comes in a nice little 10ml tub, with a screw off lid and a very attractive picture of mangoes on the lid. Having used the body butter and scrub, I instantly recognised the nice mango smell, which I find reminds me of summertime - I think I had mango shower gel on summer holidays as a child. So the smell was very pleasing. Application is easy, you smear a little of the lip butter on a clean fingertip, then rub it onto your lips. After the first application, my thoughts were along the lines of "mmm this is nice, I could happily have this smell just under my nose all day". I found myself feeling the need to reapply after only an hour, which is a little odd, as my lips ...

Boots Basic Cotton Wool Balls 13/08/2014

Great balls of wool

Boots Basic Cotton Wool Balls I use cotton wool balls mainly for my facial toner, and currently I am using Boots Basics Cotton Wool Balls. I have no loyalty to cotton wool brands, and just buy them from whatever shop I’m in when I need some - recently I was in Boots and remembered I was running low, so Boots cotton wool it was! The cotton wool balls come in bags of 100, the bag is mainly clear with a lilac strip across it with the product info on it. The cotton wool balls are from the Essentials range, and are found in amongst the baby products - I find that “baby” cotton wool is usually cheaper than “make-up” cotton wool, and I don’t see what the difference is. When taking the cotton wool balls out of the bag, they rarely stick together so I only get the one that I need out. The cotton wool is really soft and fluffy - Boots warn that you could find small pieces of cotton husk or seed in, but I never have. Using this with my toner, I upend the bottle onto the cotton wool twice, and then smooth over my face and neck. The cotton wool feels soft and smooth on my face once it’s damp with the toner, and I find it a very effective way of toning my skin. It is very absorbent though, so I find that by the time I’m finishing off my face and giving my neck a quick sweep, it’s actually drying out a little bit. Not so much that I feel I need to use two balls with toner on though. I have also used these cotton wool balls for removing nail polish, obviously by putting nail polish remover on them. This does work and ...

Lotus Tissues with Olbas Oil 12/08/2014

Loving Lotus Olbas

Lotus Tissues with Olbas Oil I've always been a fan of Kleenex Balsam tissues, and l was delighted when I discovered the Kleenex Balsam Fresh tissues which included menthol. However, when struck down with a nasty cold I needed some decent tissues - I wanted them in handypacks to carry in my bag, and the Boots branch I was in only had the Boots own brand Ultra Balm, or Lotus Olbas. As the Lotus Olbas were on buy one get one free in the individual handy packs, I picked up four of them. The Lotus Olbas pack is a garish green and orange, resembles a carrot and includes the phrase "vapour release". From this I was expecting something similar to Kleenex Balsam (Fresh or normal). The packs states that Lotus have worked together with Olbas, who make Olbas Oil (which I know nothing about) to "capture oil in tiny capsules and spray them onto the tissue". It says I should crush the tissues to release the oil vapours. Not knowing much about Olbas Oil, I was really only expecting a tissue which didn't irritate my nose. You can imagine my surprise when I opened a pack and was assaulted by a scent reminiscent of Vicks. This was a surprise, and a fairly pleasant one - my experience of Kleenex Balsam Fresh had been during a bout of sinusitis and I had struggled to smell the menthol, but even taking that into account the Lotus Olbas seemed much more strongly fragranced. In terms of the actual tissue, I have found Lotus Olbas to be more than adequate. The tissues are soft, a reasonable size without being gigantic, and ...

Toshiba 32W1333 08/08/2014

Terrific Toshiba

Toshiba 32W1333 In September/October last year, we were having a few technical problems around the house. First of all, our rather old CRT TV had finally given up - it had been threatening for a while, and eventually life became too much for it. We weren’t in a position to buy a new one, so we settled for watching TV online via BBC and Sky until we could save up for a new one. Then my mobile battery began to struggle to make it from work to home without dying. Eventually it got so bad that it only just managed to recieve a text and allow me to reply before switching off - and this was about 5 minutes after I had unplugged it. I came to the conclusion that I was going to have to upgrade a month early - and as luck would have it, while noseying around online to see what kind of new phone I wanted, I discovered that the Carphone Warehouse offered a free TV on O2 upgrades with one of the Samsung phones that I liked. This was obviously ideal for us, but frankly a free TV is a good deal any day of the week… The TV in question is the Toshiba 32W1333 - not a very snappy name, but to sum it up it’s a 32 inch HD ready LED TV. Useful features include built in freeview and HDMI inputs. The specs say that it has 16.9 aspect ratio and 1366x768p resolution. The very first thing I noticed about the TV was that the box seemed huge. So I got one of the nice guys at Carphone Warehouse to carry it to a taxi for me. The second thing I noticed about the TV was that it weighs next to nothing - expecting to need ...

When the Hills Ask for Your Blood - David Belton 06/08/2014

Return to Rwanda

When the Hills Ask for Your Blood - David Belton During the Rwandan genocide in 1994, David Belton was working as a producer and director for the BBCs Newsnight programme, for which he covered the genocide along with a reporter and small crew. He also co-wrote and produced the feature film Shooting Dogs, which was based on real events during the genocide. Twenty years later, he tells his story in When The Hills Ask For Your Blood, revisiting a country trying to recover from those horrific events. He also tells the stories of Jean-Pierre and Odette, a Rwandan couple fearing for their lives and those of their children, and Vjeko Curic, a Bosnian missionary who tried to save as many lives as he could. The genocide in Rwanda is one of the most horrific periods in recent history, the pain of which Rwandans continue to live with. In a period of around 100 days, approximately 800,000 were murdered. It was largely ignored by the West, and in fact Bill Clinton stated that the USA's lack of action during the crisis was one of his few regrets. I was only 11 at the time, and I can't say if I was aware of it while it was happening, but it's something I've been reading about for the last few years, and despite the fact I would have been powerless to help, I still feel shame that the West did not help. This is perhaps why I feel strongly that the story of the genocide must be told, that we must understand what Rwandans, whether Tutsi or Hutu, went through at that time. Such horror must not be allowed to happen again. When The Hills Ask ...

H&M Imitation Suede Peep-Toe Ballet Pumps 05/08/2014

Peeping toes

H&M Imitation Suede Peep-Toe Ballet Pumps I purchased a pair of these peep-toe sandals from H&M a few summers ago, which they call imitation suede peep-toe ballet pumps. I always have sandals suitable for work in summer, and I thought these might do - however, as they were available in nice bright colours, instead of going for my usual black I bought a pair in bright royal blue, thinking they would be nice for casual wear too. The sandals are flat and soft to touch and wear. The material is clearly imitation suede rather than the real thing, but it is still nice to look at and touch. The top of the sandal is open, and they are a ballet pump shape with a toe opening, although I think of them more as having a bar across the top of the foot than a hole out of the toe of a ballet pump. The blue of my pair is very bright and striking. I have had summer sandals from H&M before, and have always been impressed with the quality and comfort they offer for a low price. These sandals cost only £7.99, but previous pairs in similar styles have lasted me all summer with daily wear, so I was confident it would be a good value purchase. The sandals are very comfortable to wear. The soles aren't very thick, but they are thick enough that standing on a stone doesn't hurt. The material is soft and flexible to start with, so I have experienced no rubbing on my feet. The only problem I have with them is that they make my feet quite hot and sweaty, despite being quite open. I think that this is down to the material - they are imitation ...

VAX C88-P5-P 25/07/2014


VAX C88-P5-P When we recently found ourselves in the position of needing a new vacuum cleaner, we employed a fairly simple process to choose our new one - we had vouchers for John Lewis so it had to come from there, we didn’t want to spend a lot, my partner was quite keen to get a Vax one, and one which claimed to deal with pet hair would be a bonus. And so it was that we bought the Vax C-88 P5-P Pet Vacuum Cleaner for £59.99. The Vax C-88 P5-P is a bagless cylinder vacuum. It’s quite compact, and is mostly silver and blue (it also comes in orange) - it's quite a smart looking wee thing. The main body has two buttons on the back, one for power and one to pull the plug cable back in, and a dial to select how powerful you want the suction to be set at. The hose comes out of the front of the vacuum cleaner, and the head has an adjustable length tube so you can set it to suit your height - I’m quite short though and I use it at its longest. The vacuum cleaner comes in a box which fitted into a large John Lewis carrier bag, and it’s not too heavy to carry. When we put it together for the first time, I just glanced at the instructions - it’s really simple to do and only takes a minute. Using the vacuum cleaner is pretty straightforward. You pull the plug cable out of the back, set your preferred suction strength, plug it in and off you go. It has been years since I used a cylinder vacuum, and I’d forgotten that they are a bit harder work than uprights. I find pushing an upright around to be ...

Soap and Glory Off Your Face Cleansing Cloths 21/07/2014

Fresh faced

Soap and Glory Off Your Face Cleansing Cloths On my last trip to Boots to restock on my favourite Soap & Glory face scrub, I happened to be having a bad skin day, and I’d been thinking I should pick up some facial wipes while I was there, as I find them very refreshing when my skin feels rubbish. As it happened there was â…“ off the Soap & Glory range, so instead of buying Boots Cucumber Wipes, I decided to try Soap & Glory Off Your Face Cleansing Wipes. Having just checked the Boots website to verify what the full price of these wipes is, it shows £4.50 - but I was sure I paid around £2, which would mean a lower full price if there was â…“ off. I’m probably wrong about how much I paid. The wipes come in a pack of 25, with the usual Soap & Glory branding and a picture of a 50s style model on the front. The Off Your Face wipes claim to be 3-in-1 - cleansing, toning and smoothing. They are suitable for all skin types, and include Soap & Glory’s “blackhead-fighting PORESHRINK-RS”, and have peach and gojuice extracts. When I read the pack, I discovered that the “smoothing” part of the wipes is that if you use enough effort and scrub harder at your face with the wipes, they would also exfoliate. Excellent, I thought. In the morning before work, I usually just moisturise and go - I do my proper skincare at night. Sometimes though that can leave my skin feeling a bit clogged up, so I was keen to try these wipes before moisturing and see if they helped. The wipes are textured, unlike the Boots Cucumber Wipes which I have ...

L'Oreal Elvive Fibrology Thickening Shampoo 17/07/2014

Washing and hoping - for thicker hair

L'Oreal Elvive Fibrology Thickening Shampoo I’ve been trying “thickening” hair products for years. My hair is very fine and frankly pretty rubbish - it’s very long, but lacks volume and thickness. Every so often I will try a new product, get fed up when it doesn’t work, and swear never to waste my money again...but of course I always do. I first heard of the L’Oreal Elvive Fibrology Thickening range when I saw an advert in a magazine - next time I was shampoo shopping, I decided to seek it out and give it a go. The range is reasonably priced, which definitely helped - the smaller size bottles of shampoo and conditioner are often on 2 for £4 offers. The shampoo comes in 250ml (£2.99) and 400ml(£3.99) bottles. I’m not one to discuss packaging any more than necessary, but I do like the colours of the Fibrology range - mostly a really nice deep turquoise/teal colour, with pink highlights. It’s nice and bright without being garish, and looks good in my bathroom. The shampoo itself is easy to squeeze from the bottle, and I’ve found that even when the bottle is almost empty, you can get just about all the dregs out of it, so there isn’t much wasted. The shampoo is a standard shampoo-white, and also has a fairly normal shampoo smell. My partner has commented that it smells like a hairdressers. I quite like this “shampoo” smell, I think it makes me think it’s a good cleansing product. It lathers up really easily, and it is a good thick lather, plenty of it. Despite the thick lather, it does rinse out easily, and leaves my ...

Sheila - Robert Wainwright 23/06/2014

A Sheila Like No Other

Sheila - Robert Wainwright Sheila by Robert Wainwright is the biography of Sheila Chisholm, an Australian later known as Lady Loughborough, Lady Milbanke and Princess Dimitri. Born on her family's homestead of Wollogorang, two days from Sydney, Sheila met her first husband, Lord Loughborough, while working as a volunteer nurse in Egypt during the First World War. In London, she was an immediate success in society, and remained at the top of social circles in the decades to come. She became Lady Milbanke on her second marriage, and then in later life she married the exiled Prince Dimitri of Russia, ending her days as Princess Dimitri. Prior to spotting this book a while ago in a list of upcoming publications from Allen & Unwin, I had never heard of Sheila Chisholm. This intrigued me, as it was clear from the information given that she was a key member of society during a period which interests me and which I've read quite a bit about. Little did I know what a treat I was in for... Sheila is a fascinating subject. While some may find her life lacking excitement, the time and people which are featured in the biography are exactly what interests me. Her friends and acquaintances are a literal "who's who" of London society from the 1920s to 1950s. She knew everyone - from the great society hostesses such as Emerald Cunard, to the arts figures such as Cecil Beaton and Chips Channon, right up to the royal family, enjoying a close friendship with Prince Edward and Prince Albert, later Edward VIII and George ...

Paris Requiem - Lisa Appignanesi 12/02/2014

A Parisian Whodunnit

Paris Requiem - Lisa Appignanesi Paris Requiem by Lisa Appignanesi is a murder mystery/detective novel set in Paris in 1899, a time of racial tensions with the Dreyfus affair at its height, and the city preparing for the universal exhibition and the new century. James Norton, a Harvard law professor, arrives in Paris, sent by his mother to bring back his brother, Raf, and sister Ellie. Yet what is already likely to be difficult is complicated when Raf's Jewish lover, Olympe, is found dead in the Seine. James is plunged into the investigation, trying to discover what happened to this captivating woman, and to clear his brothers name when the police turn to him. While the bare outline of the story could be that of hundreds of crime novesl, the setting of Paris Requiem is what makes it different. Not the fact that it is set in Paris, but the Paris of 1899, a different world. So much of it is recognisable as what we know of Paris today - the beautiful architecture along with incidents such as the police chief who refuses to even consider a discussion on the developments in the case until he has had lunch - yet so much is foreign, such as the murky underworld of prostitution and the discrimination against the Jewish population. It is at once familiar and different. James is a good lead character for this novel, a straightforward American professor sent to sort out his wayward siblings. Given the high spiritedness of other characters, and the vagaries of the city, this solid man is exactly what is needed in ...
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