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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

The Palace Circle - Rebecca Dean 12/02/2014

Love in the desert

Canon MG5450 06/02/2014

Printing with a Pixma

Canon MG5450 About a year ago, I convinced my manager that I needed to buy a small desktop printer to take with me to offsite conferences that I organise - having managed to break two lent to me by the venue during a recent conference, I wanted something reliable which I knew how to work. I spent some time browsing our office supplies catalogue trying to decide what to get. I wanted a good quality printer, easy to set up and use, with copier and scanner functions, able to print photos (I didn't need it but I thought I might as well have that option) and not too large or heavy. I also didn’t want a horribly ugly boxy looking thing, which is where the Canon Pixma range had the edge - they’re fairly attractive things as far as printers go, so I chose the MG5450 which was in the price range I was looking at (under £100) and which seemed to be getting good reviews. Set up wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped, but frankly I think it’s just me. I always have issues with setting up printers, and this is further hampered by my work’s IT security procedures which mean my laptop gets upset when I try to install something new. It seemed to take me ages to get the printer set up first time round - which fortunately I did when still in the office, rather than waiting until I actually needed to use the printer offsite. Once the printer was set up and my laptop had got over it’s tantrum, reconnecting the printer every time I need to use it has been incredibly straightforward - I literally just connect it to my ...

Boots Skin Clear Deep Cleansing Scrub 05/02/2014

Scrub your cares away

Boots Cucumber Cleansing Wipes 04/02/2014

Wipe your cares away

Soap & Glory Scrub Your Nose In It 03/02/2014

Scrub your face in it, not just your nose!

Soap & Glory Scrub Your Nose In It After receiving a gift set of Soap & Glory products for Christmas which I absolutely loved, I was keen to try more from the range. I bought myself a tube of face scrub, Scrub Your Nose In It, as part of a minimum spend offer which got a me free full size tub of body butter. As I use face scrub regularly and am always looking for the perfect one, it seemed like a good time to try Soap & Glory's offering. The scrub comes in a tube with a similar design to most Soap & Glory products - mainly pink with text on it. The tube has a flip top lid which is easy to use with wet hands, and the scrub is easy to squeeze out. I do find that it tends to congeal a little around the opening, but that's not an issue. At first sight, the scrub is a little disconcerting - it's bright blue, instead of the pale pink that all other Soap & Glory products that I've tried are. It also doesn't have the same lovely floral based scent which is what hooked me on the body scrub. The fragrance isn't something I can identify, but it's similar to many other face scrubs - functional, maybe slightly chemical. It's not unpleasant at all, but it's not something you'd open the tube just to have a sniff of. Scrub Your Nose In It has a good consistency, liquid enough to be easy to use, but also not too runny as to make it pretty useless, like some cheaper scrubs. I squeeze a small amount onto my fingers, maybe about the size of a 20p piece, and then rub it into my face. I start with my cheeks, then nose and chin, ...

Breville TR30 27/01/2014

A toastie a day...

Breville TR30 Many years ago, when I was living in halls at university, one of the girls on my floor had a toastie maker. She put it in the kitchen and let everyone use it. Toasties were perfect cheap food for a student, so when I moved into a flatshare, I bought my own toastie maker. I chose a Breville because they are a good brand, and the TR30 was actually the cheapest two sandwich toaster that Debenhams had at that time (I worked there part-time during uni, so I bought everything there with staff discount). This is about twelve years ago now, so I'm not certain how much I paid, but I think the full price was around £20. The reason for this little introduction is to illustrate the longevity of the toastie maker - I've still got the same one today, and it is still in regular use. The outside of the machine is white, and rather surprisingly is still in very good nick, there are no marks or stains on it. The toasting plates inside are showing some wear, there are a few scratches, but no burnt on stains - it still cleans up nicely. The toastie maker has a couple of lights on the top. When you plug it in, the red one lights up. This shows that it is heating up and is not yet ready to toast. It takes a few minutes to heat, and I find this time is just right for preparing your sandwich. Once the green light comes on, the toastie maker is ready to go. While in use the lights cycle between green and red, and I'm sure I remember the instruction book saying that when green changed back to red it ...

Samsung GALAXY S III Mini 24/01/2014

A Galaxy in Miniature

Samsung GALAXY S III Mini A few months before I was due to upgrade my mobile, I started thinking about what kind of phone I would like to get. I really liked my Samsung Galaxy Ace, but it had limitations - it ran an older version of the Android operating system, which seemed to mean I couldn't watch videos on BBC iPlayer or the BBC mobile site, or on Google Play. So I wanted something which would allow me to do this, and the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini seemed to fit the bill - plus it was on Skys listed of supported Android devices for using the Sky Go app. In October, when the battery on my Galaxy Ace suddenly became rubbish (receiving a text and replying drained it), I decided to upgrade one month early. I did this through Carphone Warehouse instead of directly with o2, as they were offering a free TV with certain handsets, which was convenient as our TV had also recently died. Having endured the very long add-on sales pitch for cases, car chargers and insurance, I walked out of the shop the proud owner of a shiny blue Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini. Aside from the fact that it runs Android 4.1., aka Jelly Bean, which allows me to play videos, I chose the S3 Mini mainly on its size and appearance. I was really pleased with the Galaxy Ace, so I was fairly sure I wanted another Samsung - especially as phones from other Android brands seem to be quite angular, and I like a phone with curved edges. Size was key however, and this ruled out Samsungs headline offerings of the S3 and S4 - I don't want a phone that's ...

After Dead What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse - Charlaine Harris 16/01/2014

Still Dead

After Dead What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse - Charlaine Harris Earlier this year I read and reviewed the final novel in Charlaine Harris's popular Sookie Stackhouse series, Dead Ever After.I concluded that I was unhappy with the rushed and forced feel to the ending, although I had suspected that was where she was heading after the previous novel. After that, I looked forward to the publication of After Dead: What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse with a kind of desperation, hoping that not only would it give me one last shot of the characters and stories I had grown to love, but also that it would provide a comfortable closure which had been missing from Dead Ever After. After Dead was published in October 2013. It promises to give details of what happened next to all the characters in the series, from the Ancient Pythoness to Bethany Zanelli, and everyone in between, including more details of Sookie's own happily-ever-after. It takes the form of an A to Z, taking us through what happened to characters after their final appearance in the series. Some characters are very minor, so minor that I struggle to remember tham, and I've read the series through several time. All the major characters are present though, so we find out what happened to them after Dead Ever After's slightly rushed conclusion. The entries for the major characters are understandably longer, although even Sookie only gets three pages, and Bill only one. The entries are concise, and give only a bare outline of the characters story. However in some cases the ...

Philip and Elizabeth - Gyles Brandreth 15/01/2014

An enduring relationship

Cake, North Berwick 19/12/2013

Let Them Eat Cake

Cake, North Berwick While strolling along North Berwick's high street on our first full day in the town, we decided to stop for a spot of lunch. There are a few places to choose from, but we settled on Cake - as it was almost full we reasoned it must be popular with the locals, always a good sign for any sort of eatery. We were lucky to get a table. Although quite large for a cafe, it really was very busy. We were even luckier that the only free table was in the corner by the window, so we were out of the way of waitresses and kids roaming about. The decor is simple but smart - wooden tables and chairs, and a serving counter with a display of cakes and blackboards on either side. We considered the menu for a while. My impression was that it seemed rather simple for the style of cafe - basic sandwich and toastie fillings instead of more interesting ones that you see in most places now. Fortunately, before the waitress came over, my dad spotted that we had all been perusing the kids menu. Having pilfered a proper menu from a neighbouring table, we realised that Cake did have fancy sandwich fillings. My dad decided on a brie and cranberry toastie, my mum was just going to have a scone, and I decided on a baked potato. Sadly they were out of baked potatoes so I changed to a cheese and onion toastie. Service wasn't terribly quick, but it was very busy and we had come in at the end of the lunch period. The food turned out to be worth the wait - the toasties looked delicious as soon as they were set ...
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