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since 10/09/2004


Kays 02/08/2011

Kays Sara Sara

Kays What ever you want will be...... well almost! Kays has such a diverse and varied product range, that you can pretty much find anything flicking through the pages of their chunky catalogue, or browsing through the extensive website. Kays promote themselves as being "for all shapes and sizes at great prices" which I can completely agree with, having been a regular customer for the past year, particularly in the purchase of clothes and footwear. Their prices for High Street brands such as Miss Selfridge and Oasis, actually don't differ very much to the high street stores, and it's all current season too, so you're not being ripped off for fashion that was "so last year." For those who are not familiar with Kays, they are a home shopping catalogue, renowned for their payment deals which include weekly and monthly options. They've become an established brand among people who could not afford to buy larger items, home furnishings and Christmas presents all at once, and gave them the option to spread the cost at affordable weekly or monthly repayments. Having been established since the 1870's as a family run business, growing and merging with larger companies over the years, with the latest being in 2007 with Littlewoods' Shop Direct Group, Kays has always maintained it's excellent standards and commitment to customer service. As a now sister catalogue to Very, Marshall Ward and Great Universal, it is home to a wealth of similar products and services, whilst also continuing it's ...

Photobox 04/08/2010

Fab for a Flawless Finish.

Photobox I've never used PhotoBox before. I usually just print my pictures on a HP Photosmart. The quality is always brilliant and the cost seems to outweigh the effort and price involved in uploading my pics onto a site then paying to get them printed. Not to mention the whacking £4.99 shipping charge that many companies like to chuck on top with promises of fast delivery. They inevitably turn up in a padded jiffy envelope around two weeks later so I've never bothered. Until... I got an email last week from Photobox. I tend to get one or two a month as I signed up with another site through which they advertise. I've always ignored their marketing emails as they've never been relevant. That was until the latest offer (August 2010). The offer: 30 standard prints for £1, inclusive of shipping. Choose from (6”x4”, 6”x4.5” and 5”x3.75”) sizes. Come on, I was stupid not to. I quickly began a hunt of the best recent pics uploaded from my computer which ranged from quick-snaps on nights out, to more arty looking ones from weekends away in the Lake District and followed the link in the email. The offer was limited to the first 2000 respondents and only applied to new customers, so obviously it was an incentive offer to get you to join. Joining is free though, and I'm already receiving their marketing emails so thought what the hell. Registration required my fore and surnames, email address and a password for login. They then sent a confirmation email to my address which I had to open ...

Fox's Chocolate Fudge Crunch Creams 04/08/2010

There Ain't No Option B!

Fox's Chocolate Fudge Crunch Creams Having been a self-confessed Ginger cream addict for sometime, I was unaware of a new biscuit, a chocolate one at that, lying in wait for me at Tesco last week, that would put an abrupt end to my previous obsession, and start a new indulgent fascination. Let's get straight to the point, Fox's biscuits have to be one of the best brands for dunk-ability and crunchiness. I've enjoyed many varieties from the brand from Nice to Chocolate Viennese (so good you'll salivate just looking at them), and never, ever had an issue with a biscuit avalanche into my coffee, or that soggy residue of crumbs as you get to the bottom of the mug. I apologise now to any other brand addicts out there but I am completely and utterly biased, and will never be swayed, so please- don't try. Right, back on subject, Fox's Chocolate Fudge Crunch Creams, a heady mixture of crunchiness and chocolate fudge cream centres, thicker than your average biscuit, and boasting the inclusion of dark chocolate, milk and cocoa butter to name a few. On first bite, you are instantly aware of how crunchy they actually are, although the biscuit seems to melt in your mouth, giving way to a decadent and very chocolatey centre. Thing is, it's not an overwhelming taste, more of a gradual release that melts on your tongue, allowing your taste buds to fully appreciate the combination of biscuit and cream. They are especially recommendable dipped in coffee, as the strong coffee taste seems to bring out more of the chocolatey ...

Riverside Hotel, Kendal 02/08/2010

The Best Hotel in Kendal?

Riverside Hotel, Kendal Standing on Stramongate Bridge, the river Kent flows tranquilly beneath my feet, flanked on my left by a huge modern building which would not seem of place in London's Docklands district. On my right is the imposingly elegant Riverside Hotel, a building over 350 years old and which was the home of leather production for over 250 years. Oddly, it is not out of place on the banks of the Kent despite it's size (5 floors plus tower), and the reflections of the hotel lights on the water are quite pretty, especially with the backdrop of rolling hills further downriver. The hotel is located five minutes from the heart of the market town and is within easy walking distance of a number of attractions and countryside. I'd looked at a number of hotels in the heart of Kendal including the renowned County, however the Riverside seemed to get the better reviews for both it's food and views. At £59 per person per night for the peak period, it wasn't the cheapest I had come across, but not the most expensive for it's location either, and the combination of reputation and the allure of the Leisure Centre made up my mind. I had pre-booked my stay via the company's own website, ( and while my stay was only for two days of the weekend, I found several of their online offers quite attractive, such as the "book 3 nights and get the 4th free in August". Breakfast is inclusive with these prices however you can expect to pay around £49 per night without. Upon arrival I ...

Mcvities Go Ahead Forest Fruit Yogurt Breaks 21/07/2010

Go Ahead! Do You Need Permission?

Mcvities Go Ahead Forest Fruit Yogurt Breaks Yoghurt on a biscuit? Don't be daft. Dried yoghurt sounds like some kind of space explorer's powder-food and the idea of a Digestive dipped in a Muller Corner doesn't exactly tempt the taste-buds either. But...Yes but...Following my enjoyment of the Apple and Sultana slices, now pretty much a staple on the weekly shop, I decided to give the Forest Fruit Yoghurt Breaks a try. Despite trying to maintain a healthy, balanced nutritional intake, I am prone to major indulgences, which include many rich biscuit varieties, so buying Go Ahead instantly got a congratulatory response from my conscience. At 1.8 grams (1.1grams saturated) of fat per slice, you'd be forgiven for thinking you've picked up a product used in a weight-loss program, but the Go Ahead range is a nutritious and healthy alternative to indulgent treats, aimed at everyone. As ranges go, McVities are constantly adding to this one, and therefore there are always new varieties and indulgences to try, from cereal bars to wholemeal bakes. Priced at £2.13 at Tesco, the Yoghurt Breaks don't exactly break the bank, although are dearer than similar products from lesser known brands. One box of Yoghurt Breaks equates to six, individually foil-wrapped, twin packs of biscuits, which weigh in at 36 grams. At around 4x8cm, they're not what you'd call bite-size either, and a twin packet is generally enough as a light snack. Wrapped in foil, the slices are kept fresh as they do contain real dairy yoghurt, and upon opening, the ...

Castlerigg Farm Certificated Site, Cumbria 22/06/2010

If your tent is your castle....

Castlerigg Farm Certificated Site, Cumbria Peaceful, Panoramic and Picturesque, the Lake District is an abundance of captivating scenery, breath-taking tranquility and postcard prettiness, yet the outlying areas surrounding the popular towns are still a sublime secret to many. Castlerigg, a small collective of farms, campsites and countryside, situated 5 minutes drive (1.5 miles) from Keswick via the A591, is renowned for it's ancient stone monumental circle. The Neolithic Stone circle is thought to be one of the earliest examples of it's kind in Britain (3200 B.C), with little known of it's original intent. It is thought to have been purposefully built within the natural "amphi-theatre" created by the surrounding fells and peaks, including Helvellyn, Blencathra and Skiddaw. Situated in the heart of St. John The Vale Valley, the circle boasts some of the best panoramic and uninterrupted views in the Lake District. Castlerigg Farm Camp Site began as a fully functioning farm in the 1900's, with the story being that a passer-by asked if he could set up his tent for the night. The farm subsequently gained more interest from walkers and tourists alike and they began to build facilities adjacent to the farm. The Harrison family, who both founded and maintain the site, ceased farming following the out-break of the foot and mouth epidemic, instead concentrating on the increasingly renowned camp-site business. In 2002, the site was modernised with the development of fully equipped toilet blocks, showers, site shop and ...

Ciao Surveys 21/06/2010

Ciao: Beta than Ever!

Ciao Surveys I remember the old Ciao, probably like many of you, and always thought it was in a different league to other sites in terms of the surveys it offered. There was always more variety, more surveys that fitted your profile and they seemed far more in-depth than the likes of other companies. Invitations varied from 2-10 per week depending on whether you fit the profiling requirements (which always seemed to be quite diverse), and the subject matter was always interesting and relevant, anything from Banking to Baby Food. From what I remember, the payment rates were also very reasonable for the surveys, in the range of 10 pence to £2.00, although the latter amount being a very rare sight. Survey invitations were sent via email, and some weeks I received three to five, and other weeks I would not hear anything at all. I'm guessing at the time, (and judging by the new site) that this was because far less companies used Ciao to generate consumer opinion than they do now. The old method of completing surveys via Ciao, was inclusive within the Ciao consumer/ price-check website, and was a handy inclusion to bumping up Ciao Rewards from writing reviews. We are all quite aware that the payment for submitting reviews is generally quite low (ranges from 2-10 pence, although is specified that it can reach up to £3.00), but I think it is the aspect of being a united and informative community, helping one another in our quest to find bargains and great products, that is the main incentive ...

Virgin Voyager 16/06/2010

Like A Virgin...Voyaging for the Very First Time!

Virgin Voyager I've never been big on train travel. Don't get me wrong I prefer it to the stuffy, airless claustrophobia that are coaches, but that swinging motion, endless rattling and the social ignorance really puts me off using them unless I really, totally have to. I'm a lover of the Lake District, and yet there's still so much I haven't seen. With this in mind, I booked a trip at the weekend down to Kendal, using the Click Travel website. The price was a very reasonable £14.00 for a same-day return ticket (Carlisle-Kendal) and with one changeover (Oxenholme) it seemed like the journey would only take around 45 minutes. Unfortunately, the website didn't specify that I would have to wait a further hour for my connection at Oxenholme (via Trans Pennine Express) to Kendal. This isn't anything to do with my experience of traveling using Virgin Trains though so I'll spare you any further blurb and get straight to the point. Virgin Trains, modern, classy, fast - more like mini railroad cruise-ships with First, Business and Standard Class options, as well as on-board shops (selling everything from coffee to magazines). My initial first thought as I approached the train door was, where the hell is the button? Then I see a blue-neon lit circular thing in front of me. Turns out it's a "touch-pad", a new type of swankiness Virgin have integrated on all doors throughout their Voyager trains. Tentatively I push it, and with some slight, subtle whirring, the door slides open (kind of like on ... 16/06/2010

Money For Nothing And The Kicks Are Free! Founded in 2005, TopCashBack has become on of the online leaders for incentive cashback rewards, and wholeheartedly lives up to it's name from it's commitment to it's "community", as well as offering some of the highest cash back rewards in the industry. The company was founded with the primary goal of saving households throughout the UK, 100's of pounds a year on everything from utility bills to taking out credit cards, as well as assisting retailers in a new form of marketing and promotion. The site itself is a haven of discounts, special offers and limited period incentives, as well as being a well-paying cash back site. Membership of Top Cash Back is open to all households throughout the U.K, and is not, (as in the case of many) limited to just one member per household. With this in mind, the kids can earn their own cash back, using retailers from iTunes to Ebay, without having to use your account. As an avid member of several cash back websites, including good old Mutual Points, I have yet to find one that maintains such high percentages in terms of cash back offers. True, competitors do occasionally outdo them, but thats the nature of the industry, and unlike Top Cash Back, many of the competitors do not maintain these consistently high rates for a long period of time (i.e more than a month). Top Cash Back are one of the few who reward their customers 100% cash back. Don't misconstrue this to meaning you get the full amount of your online shop back, as it is not ...

John Frieda Sheer Blonde Shampoo 12/06/2010

Blonde Doesn't Have to Mean High Maintenance!

John Frieda Sheer Blonde Shampoo A recently converted blonde, I've been experimenting with a whole new world of products to maintain my golden locks, and it's been a case of trial and major error with many. You see, as a natural brunette, it's rather difficult to "home-dye" your locks and achieve a full on, light champagne or platinum colour without experiencing the dreaded "orange-ginge". It's even more difficult to maintain said colour once you've got it. Innocently, I carried on using my usual Herbal Essences for normal hair, which I have always found to leave it soft and shiny. Yet, with my new colour, I was horrified to discover my hard labor had resulted in my newly dyed locks turning a dodgy shade of orangey-yellow at the roots. You know, that halfway point when you dye your hair with peroxide and it still in the early stages of lightning? Ugh...I was mortified to the point that I seriously considered not leaving the house. I looked like a canary! Well suffice to say it was time to brave Boots for a quick lesson in Blonde Maintenance, and I tried a number of high profile products that claimed to protect and enhance my colour. They ranged from Boots brand to more expensive "leading" brands, and I have to say I found the former far better. While I'd heard of John Frieda's blonde hair-care range prior to my "conversion" as I refer to it, I'd been rather put off paying out £3-£4 for bottles of shampoo that had little effect. It wasn't really until a friend recommended it that I decided to try it ...

Swan SK1710 10/06/2010

The Beauty of The Swan

Swan SK1710 Attracted by the gleaming chrome and sleek domed design, I recently purchased the SK1710 from Kays in the sale, for the very reasonable price of £19.00. Since delivery, it has taken pride of place on my kitchen worktop, outshining any of it's useful counterparts and fulfilling it's duty as well as being one of the more aesthetically pleasing gadgets in my kitchen. Swan has been an established brand since the 1920's in the U.K, renowned for the durability and longevity of their electrical products, and most renowned for the production of food and beverage electricals. Swan were one of the first manufacturers to use a heated element within the water chamber of a kettle, coating it in metal tubing. Swan were perhaps most famous between the 50's and 70's for their production of the teas-maid as well as the one of the first commercially available electric toasters. Since then, Swan have maintained production of quality, durable products, however do not seem as popular as some of their newer competitors. The SK1710 is a domed kettle made from stainless steel, featuring an internal blue neon boil light, and a dock-style base. The kettle is quite simple in terms of it's design with a curved handle, perhaps to mimic the curve of the human hand, as well as adding to the sleek appearance. Housing the typical metal encased element, the kettle also has the standard 2 litre water capacity and automatic shut-off, post boiling, synonymous with most electric kettles. While the kettle ...

Element of Freedom - Alicia Keys 23/05/2010

Hitting all The Right Keys!

Element of Freedom - Alicia Keys The Element of Freedom is the fourth album from the Manhattan born R 'n' B singer, and arguably better than her debut "Songs in A Minor" (2001), which gave us the ground-breaking ballad "Fallin" and follow-up single, "A Woman's Worth". Alicia Keys has long been known for her melodic, soul vocals, and collaborations with other high ranking R 'n' B artists, most recently, the single "Empire State of Mind" with Jay-Z. Previous collaborations have included the chart-topping "My Boo" with Usher, "Impossible" with Christina Aguilera and a collaboration with Jack White (of White Stripes fame) for "Quantum of Solace". Keys' music style is a variety of classical, jazz and soul genres, inspired by listing to classical music in her younger years, and influenced by soul artists from as early as the 1960's. She fuses this with mainstream R ' n ' B to create songs that target a wide audience base, from teens to maturer fans who enjoy the soul aspects of her music. The Element of Freedom is Keys attempt at showing a new side to herself musically, songs inspired by her childhood, depression and personal development/ overcomings. The title itself denotes her emphasis that this has been a more unrestricted and creatively varied production in comparison to her previous albums. In review of some of the tracks on the album, it's easy to determine why "Empire State of Mind (New York) feat. Jay-Z, was released as an introductory single. Everything from the song to the video portray Alicia Keys ...

Maybelline Dream Satin Liquid Foundation 23/05/2010

May-be-leaving it Alone

Maybelline Dream Satin Liquid Foundation Dream Satin, gives you the impression of super-smoothness and softness, a kind of matt-satin finish that evens the look of your skin-tone and light in consistency. I'd agree with the light part. Prior to buying Dream Satin, I had been using the Pure Mineral liquid foundation for well over a year, and as a base it suited me, but I also used it alongside the Mineral Powder to create a more flawless and matt finish. It just didn't provide enough coverage for blemishes on it's own. Then a friend recommended I try the new Dream Satin Liquid ( I know, I know it's been out since last summer), and then I got a sample of the "Sand" colour in Cosmopolitan. While the colour itself was a bit too dark for my skin-tone, it seemed a lot lighter than the Pure Mineral, and on this basis, I bought a bottle from boots in "Nude" for £7.99. The price is quite acceptable for the brand quality and 30ml bottle. (Many of it's competitors such as Revlon have similar products in the same size for over £9.99.) Dream Satin is advertised as being "air-whipped", and delivering an "air-brushed and luminous finish" with a "100% pore-less look". Like most foundations, Dream Satin is simple to apply, and comes in a 30ml pump bottle with a 90 degree angled head that narrows at the tip, minimizing excessive amounts escaping. I use my finger-tips and apply a blob to several areas of my face before blending in with my fingers. The consistency is pretty much how Maybelline describe on the bottle and the ...

Lush Blackberry Bath Bomb 16/05/2010


Lush Blackberry Bath Bomb Lush, they make you feel pretty good don't they? Buying amazing smelling products and it's all handmade, environmentally and Fair-trade Friendly. Even the brown paper carrier bags are recycled and biodegradable. Bit like their bath bombs really, although instead of 2 years, they dissolve in 2 minutes. A bit disappointing given the quite frankly, ridiculous price per bomb. My partner bought me the Blackberry Ballistic along with a couple of others as a little surprise recently, each being for specific ailments or moods. The Blackberry Bomb is supposed to relieve tension and relax the body, as well as having mood altering properties. Made from a combination of frankincense, bergamot and black currant berries (all well described on the sticky label I might add), the scent is subtly heady and fruity, with a little spicyness thrown in. The smell alone (as with many of their products) made me want to eat it rather than bath in it. It smelt like a raspberry smoothie! Later that same evening I ran a plain water bath, as hot as I could bear and picked the Blackberry Bomb as it smelt sweeter and stronger than the Pink Supernova (cocktails), or the coconut scented Butterball. The packaging advises that you place the Bomb in the bath after you have run it, so I did it once I had got in. The Bomb dissolved within 2 minutes of hitting the water, and while the smell it gave off was fairly strong during it's fizz-phase, it literally disappeared after five minutes, the bomb disintegrating ...

Glee 16/05/2010

Gleek in a Week

Glee America enjoyed the launch of Glee a whole five months before us, and when it hit the UK in January 2010, it became an instantly cult-followed show by a fair percentage of the population. Perhaps it was the use of the much loved and instantly catchy "Don't Stop Believin'" track by Journey (80's) in the first episode that initiated it's early success, or perhaps the fact it so exceeded the likes of High School the Musical, Camp Rock and Hairspray in terms of it's cast's talents, that it became almost soap-like in it's success. The brainchild of American writer Ryan Murphy (creator of Nip/Tuck), Glee is set within the fictional high school McKinley High (Ohio), where dreams are encouraged and rivalry flourishes. Glee Club, a free-style choir, taken over by Spanish teacher, Will Schuester, is a collective of talented kids and social misfits within McKinley who all have one objective: to reinstate the club to the glory days of success and winning. As an ex-Glee Club member himself, Schuester is both passionate and childlike in his ambitious pushing of the club towards success, striving for them to make Sectionals (multi-school competition). As if this wasn't challenging enough with a bunch of high-school kids who are at times undisciplined, unrestrained, and subject to a whole host of teen-related issues (including dating debacles, pregnancy and general hormones), he finds himself at permanent logger-heads with the schools' head cheer-leading coach, Sue Sylvester, the embodiment ...
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