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since 03/10/2011


Kendells Bistro, Leeds 16/10/2012

Fab French Fare

Kendells Bistro, Leeds Going back to work after a holiday is always unpleasant, so any excuse to make that transition a bit easier is always welcome! When my husband went back to work to find out he’d been given a promotion, we decided that was definitely a good reason to go out and celebrate! We booked a table at Kendell’s Bistro, a French lesson in the cultural quarter of Leeds that we’d been wanting to try out for a while. Booking was really easy – there’s a link on the website which takes you to the top table booking engine, and I was able to book just four hours before we wanted to eat. I would recommend booking, as even on a rainy Tuesday evening the restaurant got quite full. The restaurant’s also really easy to find – it’s on a narrow street opposite the bus station, near the West Yorkshire Playhouse and next door to Yorkshire Dance. If you did get lost, you could just look up to find the new award winning Northern Ballet building, which is just a few steps away. When we arrived, we were welcomed, given a choice of tables, and offered drinks immediately. After ordering a Diet coke (£2.10) and a large glass of Cabernet Sauvignon (£8), we actually just spent some time having a look around the restaurant – there’s a lot to see! (Incidentally, Kendell’s only stock French wines, meaning my husband’s request for a Rioja was gently rebuffed! They offered him a taste of the Cabernet Sauvignon to see how he liked it before pouring the full glass, and clearly knew their wines.) The owners have ...

Rimmel London Glam'Eyes Lash Flirt Mascara 15/10/2012

The search continues...

Rimmel London Glam'Eyes Lash Flirt Mascara Despite my endless dedication, generous investment and tireless testing for the cause of finding the perfect mascara, it seems I still haven’t found that perfect product that will curl, volumise and lengthen for less than a tenner – and this is no exception. Although Rimmel Glam’Eyes Lash Flirt mascara actually makes my lashes look quite nice, it’s so difficult, time consuming and sometimes painful to use that it’s not really worth it! I picked this up when I was trying to find another Rimmel mascara that I’ve used in the past and quite liked. I couldn’t see it so I decided to try this alternative instead – the name, Lash Flirt, gave me the impression that it would lengthen and curl my lashes nicely. At £7.15 for a tube, it’s pretty average for the lower end beauty brands like Rimmel, Collection 2000 and so on. The tube isn’t the classiest thing in the world, in black with a rose gold lid and rose gold detail. It’s not terribly attractive and if I’m honest, looks quite cheap. The gold detail and the lid have also started to wear away quite a lot, so the tube looks quite scruffy, but I’d happily overlook that if the product inside were better. Applying the mascara is a massive pain. The brush is one of those that instead of bristles has rows of spikes of varying lengths running down each side. When I take the wand from the tube, it has a light coating on all of the spikes, then a big blob of mascara on the end that I have to wipe off, or it gets caught on one of my lashes ...

Boots 17 Instant Glow Shimmer Brick Pink Bronze 04/10/2012

Pretty, pink and almost perfect

Boots 17 Instant Glow Shimmer Brick Pink Bronze I like to have a little shimmer in my cheeks, especially in the summer months, and for a while I was using Benefit 10, which is half bronze and half pink shimmer to define your cheekbones. When this ran out, though, I just could not face shelling out £23.50 for a new one, however much I liked it, so I prowled the cheaper makeup counters in Boots to find something a bit more affordable. I was really pleased when I found this product at a much more purse pleasing £4.99. It’s a shimmer brick available in two shades, Gold Bronze and Pink Bronze. I chose the pink bronze as pink tones suit my pale, pale face better than the golden ones. It comes in a flat, square black plastic case with a see through top, so you can easily see the shades of the shimmer that you’re buying. The case is hard and sturdy and having had two of these shimmers now, I haven’t had any problems with it bending or breaking – it protects the shimmer well so it doesn’t break up at the end when there’s not much left. The brick itself is made up of four strips of different shades – a dark, warm bronze, a paler, cooler bronze, a warm pink and a very light, shimmery pink. Probably the most common way to apply this is to use a round brush, swirl it around the case and apply to the cheekbones. I use the brush from my Benefit 10, which is a kind of long, thin brush. I swipe it across the case so that the four different shades are each applied to different parts of the brush and then sweep across my cheekbones. This ...

La Carbonara, Rome 03/10/2012

The best carbonara in Italy?

La Carbonara, Rome On our recent trip to Italy, we spent a considerable amount of time exploring the gustatory delights that fine country has to offer! The last night of our trip, we were in Rome and we wanted to try something special, so on the recommendations of two guidebooks and a few people, we headed to La Carbonara. Getting there We got the Metro to the nearby Cavour station. The streets (as in most of Rome) are many, narrow and winding, but we found our way there with the aid of a little map. The restaurant, on Via Panisperna, is also walkable from several Rome landmarks including the Trevi Fountain, the Rome Termini train station and the Colosseum. The area around the restaurant is really nice to wander round – it’s quite hipsterish, with shops selling records, vintage clothing and antiques open through to 8 or 9pm. There are also some nice bars around where you can get a drink afterwards, if you like. Greeting and seating We were welcomed very politely and seated at a table for 2. We were eating fairly early by Italian standards (about 7.30pm) and it was only a Wednesday night, so the restaurant was fairly empty. It soon began to fill up, though. We were offered water immediately. We noticed that whilst some of the waiters spoke English fluently, others spoke only Italian so we found ourselves switching between the two. If you don’t speak Italian at all, you’ll want to make sure you find the waiters who do, as the menu is entirely in Italian and you might need a little help. I ...

A Kind of Intimacy - Jenn Ashworth 02/10/2012

Awkward but Addictive

A Kind of Intimacy - Jenn Ashworth A Kind of Intimacy is a 2009 novel by Preston-based writer Jenn Ashworth. The novel is narrated by Annie Fairhurst, a woman who is leaving a difficult relationship and moving to a new street. She is at first deliberately vague about her past, and tells us instead about her efforts to ingratiate herself with her new neighbours – something that is clearly very important to her. At first things seem to go fairly well, but very soon it becomes clear that Annie is far from the most reliable narrator. At first she hides her quirks and unusual behaviour from the reader, but soon her façade starts to fall and we get a clear look at her violent past, her obsessive nature and her increasingly unstable thoughts and behaviour. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, so opened it with an open mind – I soon got drawn into this suspenseful, psychological drama. As soon as I started reading this book I felt completely hooked. The good thing about being on holiday is I get a lot more time to read, and I can read in solid chunks instead of constantly picking a book up, reading a few pages then having to put it down again. I managed to finish this book in just over a day with no trouble at all. I got really invested in Annie, the main character, and although the book isn’t exactly action packed, every scene was so well described that it really interested me, and kept me turning the pages. In the first few chapters, I found myself really liking and respecting Annie, which made it all the ...

Boots Natural Collection Rosemary & Witch Hazel Face Mask 01/10/2012

Left me fresh faced but not for long

Boots Natural Collection Rosemary & Witch Hazel Face Mask I’m constantly fighting the battle against blemishes and am currently going through a bit of a face mask phase. I tend towards clay/mud type masks to purify and dry out my skin but when I saw this rosemary and witch hazel mask in Boots I decided to give it a try. At just £1, I thought it was pretty reasonably priced. Rosemary is said to have anti bacterial and astringent properties, making it perfect for fighting acne and making skin less oily. It is also allegedly good for improving skin tone, improving circulation and generally making you feel more energetic and revitalised. Meanwhile witch hazel is used to soothe wounds and reduce swelling, as well as boasting similar astringent and anti-oxidant properties. I tend to take such claims about herbs and other natural products with a pinch of salt. Although I have a lot of respect for the natural remedies we can get from the earth and plants around us, I’m also aware that often claims are made that aren’t scientifically proven. Still, the benefits of rosemary as an antioxidant and witch hazel as an astringent, at least, seem fairly well established. The packaging is fairly basic; the single use sachet is pale green in colour with a woman on the front wearing the face mask (or at least some kind of visual representation of a face mask). On the back are some basic instructions for use, the ingredients list, and a declaration that, in case you were wondering, THIS IS NOT A FOOD. The sachet opens easily, and I had no problems ...

Le Creuset Ramekin Dishes 13/09/2012

Lovely Le Creuset

Le Creuset Ramekin Dishes When we first got married we were lucky enough to get a few lovely Le Creuset items as gifts. Although I’m not that fussed over Le Creuset (yes, I think it’s good, but I hate paying over the odds for a brand) my husband loves it, and as he does almost all of the cooking I’m happy to indulge him! We decided to stick with the Graded Blue colour scheme – although some Le Creuset pieces are available in a wide variety of colours now, you’ll want to stick with Volcanic (orange), Graded Blue or Cerise to have the widest choice possible. If you just want a few key pieces, then by all means go with whatever colour you think you can live with the longest, as they’re all built to last! This particular product is available in Coastal Blue, Rose, Almond, Teal, Satin Black, Nutmeg, Cerise, Volcanic, Graded Blue and Cassis. Cassis is a deep purple which is secretly my favourite of the Le Creuset range, but which was vetoed by my husband! I think we originally got two of these ramekins as a gift, but decided to buy four more so we could use them for individual desserts at a dinner party. They’re part of the Le Creuset stoneware range, which means they’re not designed for use on a hob but that they are oven, freezer and dishwasher safe. The inside and outside walls of the ramekins are glazed, and feel cold, hard and smooth to the touch. The surface is designed to be as hygienic as possible, and the surface won’t absorb any odours or flavours from the food you’re cooking. This super smooth ...

Barry M Metallic Liquid Eye Liner 12/09/2012

Metallic Makeup

Barry M Metallic Liquid Eye Liner I love experimenting with different makeup styles and my favourite thing to play with is my eyes. I’ve got tons of bright eyeshadows as well as dramatic eyeliners including bright and glittery ones. Like anyone else though I do struggle with application so I’m always looking for eye products designed to help me get it right first time. Although it’s not especially marketed or sold as something that’s easy to apply, when I stumbled across this metallic eyeliner (which I have in silver) a few months ago, I inadvertently found a liquid eyeliner that’s an absolute dream to apply. The applicator is a sponge with a pointed tip that is firm enough to hold a good line but soft enough to allow it to bend on your eyelid and slide across it smoothly. The tip is pointed enough that I can be really precise with the application if I want, and the tip seems to collect the exact perfect amount of eyeliner. The eyeliner itself is a really strange consistency. It’s not particularly thick but once applied it stays precisely in place and sticks so well, so quickly that it almost seems like powder. It takes literally seconds to dry, so once applied I can immediately crack on with applying the rest of my makeup without having to worry about smudging, or the liner transferring to the top of my eyelid. I find I can apply this in no time at all, when applying liquid eyeliner is usually the most time consuming part of my makeup routine. For a thin line I can just glide the tip of the sponge along my ...

Boots No.17 BB Blemish Balm 10/09/2012

Basically blemishless

Boots No.17 BB Blemish Balm BB Creams: the latest craze As a general rule, I detest this whole BB cream phenomenon. Although I got samples of and even purchased the Garnier BB cream monstrosity, it didn’t take long before I realised that it was just an incredibly oily tinted moisturiser that provided about as much coverage as Katie Price’s knickers circa 1999. All it gave me was a shiny face and extra spots. Still, I didn’t want to give up on them as so many people were raving about them, and, as much as the Garnier product wrecked my skin, I still liked having an option that was lighter and easier to apply than foundation. On a recent trip to Boots I picked up this 17 version, which looked a lot creamier and less greasy than its competitors. Plus, at £6.99, it was a bit cheaper too. BB creams, also known as blemish balm creams were originally a big hit in Asia. They were designed to lighten and brighten the skin, soothe redness and blemishes, even the complexion and provide protection from the sun. It was originally designed to soothe skin after chemical peel treatments, but was later commercialised and sold to the mass market. Within the last couple of years, almost all cosmetics brands have developed a BB cream for the UK market. Whilst the Dior, Estee Lauder and Mac versions all sound pretty good, they’re distinctly out of my price range. 17 Blemish Balm This 17 product is a far cry from what I describe above, but it’s still a handy addition to my makeup bag. Whilst it still goes by the ...

Rumour Has It (DVD) 28/08/2012

Rumour has it this isn't that great

Rumour Has It (DVD) This is a film only review, as I watched it on TV. Rumour Has It is a 2005 film starring Jennifer Aniston, Mena Suvari, Mark Ruffalo, Shirley MacLaine and Kevin Costner. Jen stars as Sarah Huttinger, who has just got engaged and should be the happiest she’s ever been, but instead is experiencing a personal crisis. As she travels from New York to Pasadena, California to attend her little sister’s wedding, a conversation with her grandmother and a friend of her deceased mother’s suddenly brings skeletons tumbling out of the family’s closet. Could it be true that the events in The Graduate were based on her family’s antics? Has Sarah been brought up by a man who isn’t her father? And does Sarah really want to get married to Jeff, her loving but very safe fiancé? I set this to record on a bit of a whim when I saw it pop up on the TV Guide last night. Usually this means I’ll let it languish on the hard drive for a while, then delete it having never felt in the mood for it, but I’m a bit of a night owl at the moment so I ended up putting it on at about 1.30am. I expected a bit of meaningless fluff, and that’s exactly what I got! I found this incredibly easy to watch and despite my best intentions of turning it off after quarter of an hour and going to bed, I did watch the whole thing. I can’t say I particularly liked the main character, Sarah, as she struck me as a bit weak and boring. She was in a perfectly happy relationship, but instead of counting her blessings and seeing ...

Rimmel Rock Your Colour Glitter Top Coat 28/08/2012

Groovy Glitter

Rimmel Rock Your Colour Glitter Top Coat When I was looking for new nail polishes recently, I spotted this top coat and picked it up on a total whim, as I thought it might help me get slightly more use out of my limited range of nail polish colours. It’s a top coat infused with glitter, that you can paint over any base colour in order to change the shade and jazz things up a bit. I bought it on so much of a whim that I didn’t even look at the price, assuming that as with most Rimmel products it would be pretty affordable. Looking on the Boots website now I can see that it’s £4.59 – probably a bit more than I would normally pay for a top coat. (Oh, who am I kidding. I never bother with a top coat!) However I don’t mind too much having paid a bit extra because this does more than a normal top coat does. I bought shade 002, Disco Gold. As far as Boots are concerned, this is the only shade, but I have seen a blue version with a much finer glitter mentioned on a couple of European beauty blogs. Superdrug doesn’t even sell the gold, so it does seem like availability is a bit tight on this item. Still, I must have used this about ten times by now and I’ve barely made a dent in the 12ml bottle. Even if I used it weekly this would clearly last for months and months. This paints on very easily. Obviously it’s always easier to paint on something clear, as it’s much harder to see the mistakes and the patches you’ve missed, but the consistency of the polish is good. It just takes a couple of strokes to cover the nail, and the ...

Boots Luxury Mulberry Passion Handwash 24/08/2012

Pretty in Purple

Boots Luxury Mulberry Passion Handwash As a general rule I don’t tend to bother with hand wash in the bathroom, as I’m perfectly happy to use a bar of soap. However, we recently had guests coming to stay and so I decided to splash out on a nice looking hand wash in case they would prefer it. I picked this up in Boots after it caught my eye on a recent trip. I wanted something that looked nice and this certainly fit the bill. The clear packaging has a swirly black floral pattern on that looks really nice and definitely complements the accessories I already have in my bathroom. The wash is available in a few different scents but I’ve always preferred ‘purple’ scents – deep, fruity, berry scents, that is – over citrus or floral ones, so I chose this Mulberry Passion one. The hand wash is clearly visible through the packaging and is purple in colour, but still quite transparent itself so you can see through to the writing on the back of the bottle. The bottle just costs £1, which I thought was reasonable as it’s actually a pretty big bottle. It contains 250ml of liquid soap, where most other hand washes I’ve had are either 150ml or 200ml. So far this is lasting really well, as we’ve had it for about three weeks and only about a quarter of it has gone. The bottle is pretty sturdy so I think it will last a while – if you wanted to be extra eco-friendly, you could remove the label and refill this a few times before recycling it. The pump on top of the bottle is easy to use and after a quick twist to get it working, ...

Drumbo Park Greyhound Stadium, Belfast 21/08/2012

Our night went to the dogs

Drumbo Park Greyhound Stadium, Belfast I’ve already mentioned that recently I took a trip to Belfast for a hen weekend. While we were planning what we would do over the couple of days we were there, one of the girls suggested a night out at the dogs. At first we were all a bit sceptical as this didn’t especially sound like a very glamorous night out and we had all planned to get dressed up. However after we took a good look at the website for Drumbo Park, we realised that this was a far cry from what we were expecting and we all agreed to give it a go. ~~~Booking~~~ One of the hen party attendees who lives near Belfast, booked this for us. You can book online, or over the phone, and she said it was really easy. We opted for the Punter’s Pack, which is a special package for just £10 per person. It includes entrance fee, a race card, a burger, a drink, a £2 tote bet and free entrance at a later date. Obviously as most of us were from England we wouldn’t be using the free return element, but we were happy that even without that we were getting great value for money. The only downside is that you have to pay in advance and it’s non-refundable, so if anyone drops out then you’re stuck. We booked about a week before and due to a last minute cancellation and a badly sprained ankle halfway through the weekend, we ended up paying for two tickets that we didn’t use. However, when we arrived we were given the vouchers for the free drink, free burger and £2 bet, so they didn’t go to waste! Other packs you can get include ...

Since computer games have become so popular do you think children are reading less for pleasure? 20/08/2012

My first current issue!

Since computer games have become so popular do you think children are reading less for pleasure? When I spotted this question coming up in the latest review lists, I knew that I had to tackle it as my first current issue review. I read extensively for pleasure as a child, in the late 80s and throughout the 90s. Unlike many of my contemporaries, I continued to read voraciously throughout my teens and twenties, enjoying crime writing, chick lit, contemporary fiction, young adult fantasy and the classics all equally. However, I can also remember saving up with my brother and sister when I was about six to buy a SNES, our first games console, which I loved playing with. We went on to own a GameBoy, a Nintendo 64, a Game Cube, a PlayStation, a GameBoy Advance, a Nintendo DS, a Wii, etc etc etc. Mario and Luigi were as much a part of my life as Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl were. When I look back at my childhood, I remember spending time with my brothers and sisters racing each other on computer games, as well as huddling under my covers with a torch because I didn’t want to put my book down but I was supposed to be asleep. I still drive my husband mad now, when he wants to go to sleep but I want the light on because I’m reading something that I can’t wait to finish! I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I take some issue with the question. Why are books and games mutually exclusive? My three young cousins are completely obsessed with playing little games on my iphone, and playing Mario Kart on my DS. However when I babysit them I always admire their bookshelves which are ...

Max Factor Max Effect Mini Nail Polish 17/08/2012

Pretty and polished

Max Factor Max Effect Mini Nail Polish ~~~Choosing it~~~ I picked up two nail polishes from this range on a recent trip to Boots. I don’t paint my nails very often so all my polishes had gone claggy and I fancied trying a couple of new colours, without spending too much. Because these are mini bottles, they’re a bit cheaper than other Max Factor nail products such as their NailFinity range, and on top of that there was some sort of promotion running – I’m pretty sure it was something like 2 for £6 (usual price £3.99). I chose a dark green/teal shade called ‘graffiti’, and a black polish called ‘lacquer noir’. (Surely I’m not the only person who thinks these endless nail polish names are ridiculous?? It’s not like you could say to someone, I’m going to paint my nails ‘graffiti’ tonight, and they’d go oh yeah, I love that, it’s kind of a dark green, right?) I wanted these two colours because they went nicely with dresses I was wearing for a hen weekend a few days later. Before setting off I decided to try out the green nail polish and see how it performed. ~~~Using it~~~ The bottle is pretty easy to use – it’s small, definitely, but not especially fiddly. The lid/brush unscrews easily and the handle is long enough that I could hold it securely while painting my nails. The brush itself isn’t any smaller than a normal one, so it’s pretty easy to manoeuvre around the edges of the fingernails. The brush picks up a good amount of polish, and the polish itself is thin enough to be painted easily but not so thin that ...
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