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since 03/10/2003


Boots No.7 Age Rewind Foundation 11/06/2007


Boots No.7 Age Rewind Foundation Until I moved to Peterborough, believe it or not, I’d never been within general “shopping distance” of Boots and therefore, bought all my makeup from Superdrug, department stores or other local pharmacy type outlets. Living about 5 minutes away from the town centre in Peterborough there’s now a Boots right on my doorstep and this has opened cosmetic heaven for me – and in particular, given me an introduction of the Boots No. 7 range. This review covers the “Boots No. 7 Age Rewind Foundation”, “Younger looking skin in a moment”. So does it do what it says on the tin? I’ve never been all that confident or comfortable with the general state of my skin and have worn foundation for years to smooth out the blemishes and give a more even skin tone. Until my Boots revelation I had primarily used Rimmel or Maybelline brands. One of the positives about Boots is that they often do a 3 for the price of 2 offer on the Boots No. 7 range and if there’s no financial incentive, there’s general a tantalising free gift which usually consists of a makeup bag and a selection of miniature products. I’m a marketeer’s dream – the word offer just has me reaching for my purse! Anyway, this particular day it was a 3 for 2 offer and the name of the foundation “Age Rewind” caught my eye. Once you get past 40, it’s quite interesting how you start to look out for things that will help you hang on to your youth for just a little bit longer! The packaging is quite classy for a ...

Focus Dailies (Box of 30) Contact Lenses 07/06/2007


Focus Dailies (Box of 30) Contact Lenses Three years ago I wrote a review about Specsavers easyvision contact lenses. Unfortunately, although I loved the product, after wearing these lenses for a long time, I started to find that my eyes were becoming extremely dry and uncomfortable by the end of the day. I have to confess though that I did wear them for up to 14 hours a day, so I was asking rather a lot in terms of performance. I first started wearing contact lenses at the age of 18. I started off with the small hard kind that I found incredibly difficult to get used to and very high maintenance to boot! As a result, over the years I’ve tried and failed to find a pair of comfortable glasses. Even though I’ve worn glasses since I was around 11 or 12 years old, I never did find a pair that I could get on with and found that they really affected my peripheral vision to a large extent. Somehow I seemed to find that they were always “getting in the way” especially when talking to people. However, it would be very dishonest of me if I also did not admit that vanity also has something to do with the fact that I have chosen to wear lenses! I have quite a small face, but large eye sockets and finding a pair of specs that suited me was like the search for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! Eventually, when my budget allowed, I started to investigate other lens options starting with soft lenses that were replaced annually, upgrading to monthly disposables and eventually about seven years ago to daily ...

The Boy with No Shoes - William Horwood 19/03/2006


The Boy with No Shoes - William Horwood William Horwood has been a favourite author of mine for many years. His imagination is second to none in fantasy fiction in which he created classics such as the Duncton Chronicles and Skallagrig - one of my all time favourite books. When I discovered "The Boy With No Shoes" I was shocked to discover that this was the painful story of the author's childhood not ever having imagined that he could come from such a harsh physical, and particularly barren emotional background. The story is told set in the fictional coastal town of "Stoning" in Kent during the post Second World War years. Although the book is a kind of biography and is his story from boyhood into adult life, the place settings and characters are all fictitious but clearly based on the important people in the author's life. I would describe Horwood as a literary artist; the way in which he constructs language so that it translates into "images" is a skill that very few writers possess. The only other writer that I've encountered who stirs such an emotional reaction in me through the way they write prose is Sir Bob Geldof in his series of writings about his trips to Africa. The memoir starts off with "Jimmy Rova" (Horwood) aged about six telling a particularly poignant story about being given a pair of shoes by "The Man Who Was"; someone in his distant memory that had cared about him and could be interpreted as his father. The shoes are described with tenderness and illustrate the child being extremely ...

Nicotinell Chewing gum Nicotine Extra Strength 12/03/2006


Nicotinell Chewing gum Nicotine Extra Strength For the past two years I've really seriously been wanting to give up smoking. I had promised myself and anyone who would listen that I'd pack up on my 40th birthday; well I'll be 42 in August and it just didn't happen. It's been an interesting couple of years to say the least culminating in the break up of my marriage in October 2005. The moral here is that excuses NOT to stop are ten-a-penny and sometimes any excuse will do. It was National No Smoking Day on the 8th March so I set my sights around that date and prepared myself by buying a pack of Nicotinell mint 4mg nicotine chewing gum - Extra Strength. I've been smoking for 26 years - I started when I was 16 and have only really seriously attempted to stop once before when I lasted a grand total of six weeks. Today is day four so I'm in the very, very early stages but feeling pretty positive about things thus far. I'm not sure why but other Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT) have never really appealed to me that much and at my last visit to my GP I had asked about obtaining the gum on prescription as it can now work out a lot cheaper that way. However, my health authority runs smoking cessation clinics and it's only by attending these that they will prescribe NRT. That's fine if you live and work in the local area and can attend the clinics within the normal day; it's not so fine when you commute to London every day. Not to be put off, on a visit to Superdrug they were offering all their NRT products at half ...

Tell No One - Harlan Coben 11/02/2006


Tell No One - Harlan Coben ***INTRODUCTION*** I can't recall where or when I first came across the author Harlan Coben but I have now read two or three of his books and thoroughly enjoyed them all. However, I've just finished reading "Tell No-one" and devoured it in less than two days. I often get really into books and find them quite compelling but it really is quite unusual for me to find it almost impossible to put them down but this one really hooked me straight from the off. Harlan Coben hails from Newark, New Jersey. He studied politics and worked in the travel industry before launching into a highly successful writing career that has seen him gather a veritable treasure chest of coveted awards. In his first novels Coben concentrates on a sports Agent character called Myron Bolitar, but in 2001 came up with an idea that didn't fit in with this character … Tell No-One was the result. It was critically acclaimed and nominated for a whole series of awards from the Edgar Allen Poe Award to the Macavity Award. It also won the French "Le Grand Prix des Lectrices de Elle" for fiction. ***THE STORY*** Childhood sweethearts Elizabeth and David Beck set off on a romantic 13th anniversary trip to Lake Charmaine. Lake Charmaine has been an integral part of their upbringing all through their childhood. On that 13th visit, tragedy strikes and Elizabeth is kidnapped and murdered, whilst David is attacked and left with life threatening injuries, but he survives. The eight years that follow David ...

Dangerous Lady - Martina Cole 05/02/2006


Dangerous Lady - Martina Cole INTRODUCTION Though I haven't written a review for a while, those of you that recognise me will know that I'm a big fan of Martina Cole. A few months ago I moved from London to Peterborough and was delighted to find that a first rate, well stocked library was located just a couple of minutes walk from my flat! During my daily commute I have the opportunity to do lots of reading but this is the first time in months that I've been motivated enough to produce a review. I've just finished reading Martina Cole's first novel - Dangerous Lady - a reasonable, if somewhat epic effort for a first novel. With hindsight, I'd quite like to see Cole go back to the formula of some of her earlier works as they tend to be less raw and violent than some of her later efforts. I definitely feel that this is a more "mature" effort than some of her other works. THE STORY The Ryan's are a dirt poor, typical post war West End London family. Benjamin Ryan is a lazy, hard drinking wide boy who spends all his time in the pub and no time providing for his large family. Sarah Benjamin is introduced as she is giving birth to her ninth child and her first girl - Maura. The birth is described in the context of all of her other children milling about the house hungry because Benjamin hasn't been home for days to provide any money for food and with cockroaches crawling up the walls, being trampled underfoot and even venturing across ...

Clarins Beauty Flash Balm 24/09/2005


Clarins Beauty Flash Balm Until very recently I'd never tried a single Clarin's product and until even more recently I didn't believe that beauty products really could work miracles. So what has caused the cynic in me to disappear? My in laws gave me a birthday present that is a pretty little pink box containing a number of Clarin's trial size products. It was in this little box that my miracle beauty product lurked, untried and untested by myself until about two weeks ago, largely because I hadn't bothered to read the leaflet and wasn't quite sure what it was for. I am, of course, talking about Clarin's "Baume Beaute Éclair" or more commonly known as "Beauty-Flash Balm" (BFB). Then a couple of weeks ago I was at a two day work conference and the overnight stay resulted in some pretty serious drinking with some pretty stunning hangovers and an almighty lack of sleep. The following day one of my friends looked gorgeous, totally radiant, fresh, revitalised and youthful despite the antics that she'd engaged in the previous evening. I asked her how she managed to look so fantastic and she put it down to her "miracle beauty product" Clarin's Beauty-Flash Balm. The name rang some bells in my hung-over stupor and on returning home I investigated the contents of the pink box and lo and behold discovered a 15ml version of the product in question and resolved to try it out at the earliest possible opportunity. Clarin's packaging is pretty standard and I have to confess that I find it rather dull and ...

L'Oreal Paris Recital Preference 15/09/2005


L'Oreal Paris Recital Preference I've been dying my hair on and off for the past 20 years. As a natural brunette, I'd always yearned to be blonde, but in my adolescent years and early twenties I wasn't brave enough to become a convert … I'm so glad I didn't. However, as a natural brunette when I was feeling bold, brash and confident I'd go for as red as I could get away with. In my thirties, when those stubborn grey (white) hairs started to appear I opted to settle down and died my hair "natural dark brown" from the Nice N Easy range of dyes. However, as the percentage of grey increases and I notice to my horror that my eyebrows are starting to turn white - they get plucked out unceremoniously as soon as I catch sight of one - I thought perhaps it was time to lighten the seriously dark brown colour and opt for a softer, lighter tone. This resulted in me picking up a box of L'Oreal Recital Preference in the local supermarket the other day. The shade is 4-66 and is described as "Incandescent Dark Red". The shade description did put me off a little but when I looked at the shade chart on the back of the box I was comforted by the result showing on dark brown to black hair as being one that stays dark, but has sparkly, shiny red tones. Not only that but the brand was on special offer at £3.99 and that was the deciding factor in my purchase really if I'm totally honest. The package looked classy and expensive so I looked forward to examining the contents. What I found was Developer ...

Bahlsen First class chocolate biscuits 11/09/2005


Bahlsen First class chocolate biscuits Shopping in Morrison's the other day I was really fed up, on my way home from work; thunder and lightning were lighting up the City skyline and I was in dire need of some pure indulgence - preferably of the chocolate variety. I was taking my time wandering up and down the biscuit aisle when a packet of "Bahlsen First Class" biscuits caught my eye. I think the packaging did it; it looked classy, although the "only 99p" yellow flash on the end of the package detracted from its ostentatious look somewhat! They come packaged in a cardboard box; predominantly blue with lovely caramel hues and very inviting pictures of the biscuits inside. I have to say that although I love the packaging, the inner tray being wrapped in cellophane did seem a bit over the top and a waste of precious resources. It would appear that the "only 99p" offer has been around for some time since the Ciao product picture is an exact match to the packet that I bought. Parting with the said 99p secures the transaction and buys you 12 "delicate wafers with a rich hazelnut praline filling topped with a slab of milk continental chocolate". I have to admit that it was partly this description that had my mouth watering and found me placing a packet into my basket. Removing the cellophane you are hit by a lovely bittersweet smell and as I lifted it to examine the scent more closely, I discovered that the predominant smell is that of the nutty praline; a delicious hazelnut aroma. The manufacturer's ...

A Place of Execution - Val McDermid 13/07/2005


A Place of Execution - Val McDermid ~~~INTRODUCTION~~~ I buy a lot of books from charity shops - after all they're cheap, accessible, tend to have an impressive range of genres available and at the same time you're supporting a good cause in a way that offers a benefit to you as well as the organisation concerned. I found myself in the local Oxfam shop a couple of months ago. Recently refurbished, it holds a remarkable collection of books, organised by author making it easy to see what's on offer. I was delighted and surprised to see an early Val McDermid book on sale for the princely sum of £1.50 and in almost pristine condition, so of course, I had to have it. This is my fourth Val McDermid experience and sometimes when you've read a few books by an individual author in quick succession there's a danger of becoming bored with their style, tone or formulaic approach to writing. Nothing could be further from the truth in this case! ~~~THE AUTHOR~~~ McDermid became the first woman from a Scottish state school to be accepted at St Hilda's in Oxford to read English and went on to become a young and enthusiastic journalist. She always wanted to be a writer and struggled as most do, to become accepted by a publisher. It was only as recently as 1991 that she was able to give up her "day job" to concentrate on the work that is her passion - writing. Her novels have won international acclaim and she has won a number of high profile awards including the LA Times Book of the Year Award in 2001 for "A Place of ...

Why Donate to Charity? 02/07/2005


Why Donate to Charity? Tonight seems like an appropriate time to have a stab at justifying my answer to this question. It's 2nd July 2005, Live 8 concerts have been taking place all over the world, and poverty and its colossal effects are front of mind for most of the world. True, Live 8 is not about charity, it's about campaigning, and it's about the common people making a difference through standing together and demonstrating solidarity. It's about people showing that they care about what happens in the world today. Sure, there will be cynics out there who disagree and participants in a record breaking world event who are simply in it for themselves. However, Sir Bob Geldof and the organisers are ensuring that no-one is allowed to forget why they are there. Anyway, before I stand accused of going "off topic" everything is relative. The "Make Poverty History" coalition is made up of hundreds of organisations, many of them charities themselves. Those non-profit making organisations have stood by and watched the concept of "charity" being demolished by cynical media and cynical public but they stand strong. Those charities have listened as the cynics cast aspersions on the ability to get funds to those in need, and stand accused of unnecessary bureaucracy and corruption. But those same charities recognise that "charity" is not an answer in itself; that there are other actions that can take place that will have an enduring impact on the lives of those that they are trying to help. Personally I ...

Blindsighted - Karin Slaughter 14/05/2005


Blindsighted - Karin Slaughter I'm not at all sure why, but the last few books that I've read in the mystery/thriller genre all seem to have a general theme of sexual deviance; I'm starting to become paranoid that I've become some kind of sexual voyeur via fiction! Or is it simply because murder mixed with sex or sexual crime offers a wide appeal to the book buying public? For now, I'm going to comfort myself that the latter sentence applies. In case you hadn't guessed by now, the book I'm about to review is a crime thriller and the plot centres on sex, sexual preferences, rape and murder, all of which are graphically described! The book in question is "Blindsighted" by Karin Slaughter, an author unheard of by me until I found the book languishing on a bedside table when I visited my parents in April. I later discovered that my Dad had given up on it as the subject matter was just too much for him to manage. Having just finished it, it's just not the kind of thing I want my Dad to be reading - I shudder at the thought of how shocking some of it must have seemed to him! Set in Heartsdale, a small town in Grant County, Georgia, the story opens with an introduction to the central character - Sara Linton. Sara is the town's paediatrician who doubles up as the coroner. Sara is a thirty something woman who still feels a huge responsibility to her parents and yet is independent in the extreme. A complex female character, the slow build up of her personality and history is a crucial sub plot to the mayhem ...

Pepsi Max Twist 03/05/2005


Pepsi Max Twist There are well known authors on this site who are expert beer tasters or wine connoisseurs. Personally I'm not all that bothered about alcohol, I can take it or leave it but I do love cola … and in particular one brand of cola, Pepsi Max. If someone asked me to take the "Pepsi Challenge" I'm 99% certain I'd know the difference. Each cola brand certainly has a unique taste and of course, some are rather more pleasing to the palate than others! Pepsi Max being the most pleasing of all obviously - in my humble opinion. I've been a devoted buyer of the Pepsi Max brand since it was piloted in Scotland almost twenty years ago now, so when they launched the "Pepsi Max Twist" I had to try it. Coca Cola were naturally the first on the marketing band wagon when they started marketing Diet Coke with lemon. In my opinion, Coca Cola were probably looking for something to make a fairly foul tasting drink, into something a little more palatable. Fortunately, in the case of Diet Coke, it worked. Prior to this little marketing ploy whenever I had to drink diet Coke - e.g. in a pub that offered no other brand, I had always found that adding lemon somehow made it taste "sweeter". However, this then left its main competitor with a bit of a dilemma - should they just copy the principle, or try something else? Of course, they had to go for the latter to try and maintain the integrity of the brand, after all - brand is everything! So the twist was added lemon … erm … with added lime, of course! ...

Shall We Dance (DVD) 20/04/2005


Shall We Dance (DVD) Last week I was lucky enough to win tickets to the London premiere of "Shall We Dance" in the presence of Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez. Not only were they tickets for the premiere but included a champagne dinner for two at a nearby club in Leicester Square so, of course, I jumped at the chance. I'm not a big film goer nor am I a particular fan of Gere or Lopez, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. And since I'd had such a "once in a lifetime" opportunity, I thought the least I could do was review the film, although I've never attempted a film review before! Unfortunately, Jennifer Lopez couldn't attend the premiere to illness but Richard Gere was there along with one of the co- stars Anita Gillete who plays the owner of "Miss Mitzi's Dance Studio" The story revolves around a frustrated middle aged, fairly successful lawyer, John Clark (Gere), who turns to ballroom dancing after passing a dance studio on the way home from work each night. The attraction being not so much the ballroom and Latin American dancing but the beautiful graceful woman that he sees in the window each evening practicing, Paulina (Jennifer Lopez). The opening lesson sees the handsome John Clark come together in a room with two hapless lads who also want to learn to dance - Chic is a bit of a wide boy who believes he'll "pull more chicks" if he can dance, as everyone knows women like men who can dance. Vern, is an incredibly tall, overweight, black guy whose fiancé tells him that learning to ...

The Torment of Others - Val McDermid 15/04/2005


The Torment of Others - Val McDermid ~~~INTRODUCTION~~~ This is my third experience of Val McDermid. I have previously read and reviewed "A Distant Echo" and "The Mermaids Singing". I had been initially attracted by the fact that she is a fellow Scot and that she wrote in my favourite genre - that of the psychological thriller. She is now firmly placed on my favourite author's list even though I was fairly critical of some of the weaker aspects of The Mermaids Singing. ~~~THE AUTHOR~~~ Even now it amazes me that I'd never discovered this author before. She grew up in Kirkcaldy, a town on the East Coast of Scotland, its most famous "son" being the Adam Smith (the philosopher and economist) and the town itself being well known for the production of linoleum. McDermid became the first woman from a Scottish state school to be accepted at St Hilda's in Oxford to read English and went on to become a young and enthusiastic journalist. She always wanted to be a writer and struggled as most do, to become accepted by a publisher. It was only as recently as 1991 that she was able to give up her "day job" to concentrate on the work that is her passion - writing. Her novels have won international acclaim and she has won a number of high profile awards including the LA Times Book of the Year Award in 2001 for "A Place of Execution". "The Mermaids Singing" took the 1995 Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year. ~~~THE BOOK, THE STORY, THE CHARACTERS~~~ In this novel we return to the fictional City of ...
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