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since 15/07/2004


Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) 06/01/2007

CCCS - my heroes

Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) The spiralling debt problem is always in the news and there are adverts on tv for lots of different companies promising to solve your problems for you. My advice is to do your research before you contact any of these companies. Most of them charge a fee for their services. Only CCCS and Payplan (as far as I know) are free. My background At university I was a shopaholic and this continued after I left. I wasn't in a great deal of debt on my own but I owed a bit of money on a credit card. Then I met my partner, we wanted our own place. We were looking at places to rent so I extended my graduate loan to cover the admin fees, deposits etc and to buy ourselves some appliances. The following year we moved because our flat wasn't big enough - more money needed. The following year we moved again because the landlady wanted to sell the house - more money needed. I took out loan after loan to consolidate debts, and with interest it soon mounted up! We are not completely innocent in our predicament as we were very silly with my credit cards, buying things we couldn't really afford but just wanted them. I was too soft to say no to him because I wanted him to be happy & of course I liked buying nice things for myself and the house. We are learning our lesson the hard way. In 5 years we managed to rack up about £40,000 worth of debt. We bought our own place in February last year and took out a mortgage with Northern Rock that gave us 125% of the property value. This ...

Durex Play Tingle 06/01/2007

Tingle time!

Durex Play Tingle Durex Play Tingle comes in a 50ml bottle with a pump, and costs around £4.00 As mentioned in my previous review of Durex Play Heat, I got this in the Durex Play Sensations variety pack at first. The variety pack is the same price but contains 10 sachets of different types of lubricant. The product claims "New Durex Play Tingle lubricant creates a tingling sensation wherever you put it. This long lasting silky lube can be used all over the body, ideal for a top to toe tingling experience. Helps enhance intimacy Light silicone lubricant Non-greasy and mint flavoured Safe to use with condoms and vibrators In a twist pump action bottle for easy usage" When we first opened the sachet we were greeted with a rather overpowering minty smell. I wouldn't say it was as pleasant as toothpaste, it was more like mint sauce! However, if you can ignore that as best as you can the product provides good lubrication with a nice cool, tingly sensation. Not as strong as the warming sensation from Durex Play Heat. The lubricant is slightly greasy and a little sticky on your hands but seems to do the job well. The tingling sensation takes a little longer to start than with Heat but is quite pleasurable without being too intense. As with Durex Play Heat - this lubricant is safe for use with condoms and toys, but it does not contain spermicide so is not a contraceptive. Again, neither of us experienced any unwanted irritation, but my partner was a bit put off by the smell. The ...

Durex Play Heat Lube 06/01/2007

Too hot to handle?

Durex Play Heat Lube This review has content of a sexual nature - so be warned! I'm going to be as frank as possible (oo Betty!) This is a water-based lubricant from Durex. It comes in a 50ml bottle with pump and costs around £4.00. I bought this in the Durex Play Sensations variety pack at first. The variety pack is the same price but contains 10 sachets of different types of lubricant. When we first put some on, we found the sensation was VERY warm, verging on slightly uncomfortable. I wouldn't recommend the product if you were newly shaven or waxed! The packaging says to blow on it to increase the warming sensation but neither of us thought that was necessary! The lubricant tastes a little sweet but not compared to the cherry flavoured one we also got in the variety box! It is water-based which means it is safe to use with condoms and other toys. It does not contain spermicide so is not a contraceptive. After the initial shock I got used to the warming sensation and found it quite pleasurable. The lubricant helped with penetration and gave quite an intense warming sensation. It did help in achieving those dizzy heights that I had been having trouble in achieving while on anti-depressant tablets. I am quite impressed with the product, and my partner has sensitive skin and he didn't experience any irritation either. He says it didn't do as much for him as it did for me. I would buy it again anyhow. ...

The Body Shop Almond Body Butter 06/01/2007


The Body Shop Almond Body Butter I went to a Body Shop at Home party at my friend's house last month and we got to have a go with lots of different products. I fell in love with the smell of the almondy stuff & I treated myself (again - I was very naughty in December!) to the Body Scrub and Butter. I also got myself a small tub of the body butter as a thankyou for booking a party at my house! (EEK time to see how many friends I've got!) I'd never used any Body Shop Body Butter before, as I'd just used Nivea Lotion, E45 or own brand body lotions. We got to try out some of the body scrub on our hands and I couldn't believe how soft they felt! I went home and used the mini-pot about 3 times and it was gone! I think I might've used too much! Anyhow when my order arrived I got a nice 200ml tub of the butter. Also in the range you can get shower gel and body lotion... might have to invest in those at my own party. The products can be purchased at The Body Shop,, or Body Shop at Home parties. It costs £12 online but I got it for £10 from the party. Ingredients The main ingredients are * sweet almond oil, which provides an essential fatty acid that helps to repair the moisture barrier of the skin, thus helping to restore moisture, smoothness and suppleness * shea butter -which has a high level of antioxidant vitamins a, e and f, which help protect and nourish the skin. Moisturises and helps soften the skin. * cocoa butter - which is an excellent moisturiser that melts at body ...

Lexmark X1270 06/01/2007

Much more than a printer

Lexmark X1270 We were very surprised to pick up this printer for under £40 (Homebase). Have seen it advertised for around £50-60 elsewhere. We were pleased to have gotten ourselves a bargain. My previous Epson colour printer had packed in and with our wedding in August we wanted to design and produce some of our own stationery. The printer is an "entry-level" printer, Lexmark do lots of different models that vary in price and performance. This one is fine for the home-user but I would look at one of the higher models for anything more. Features of this machine and specification = * Flatbed copier perfect for documents, photos and more * Up to 4800 x 1200 dpi for great print quality * 48 bit and 600 x 1200 dpi scanner for sharp results * PC connected colour copy * Resolution best mode:4800 x 1200 dpi * Ink drop size:24 pL black drop size and 7 pL colour drop size * Acoustics: 44 dBA or less (600 dpi in Normal Quality) * Duty cycle: 2000/ month * Print Technology:Thermal Inkjet 4 Colour - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black * Speed: * Mode Quick (ppm) Normal (ppm) * Black Up to 17 up to 10 * Colour Up to 9 up to 3 * Scan Resolution:600 x 1200 dpi (optical) 9600 x 9600 dpi (enhanced) * Colour depth:48 bits internal True Colour / 24 bits external True * Colour / 16 bits internal Grey Mode / 8 bits external Grey Mode / 1 bit Per Pixel Text/Line Art * Scan area:216 x 297 mm * Removable cover * Twain driver includes preview and online options for resolution, scan mode, crop ...

Maybelline Mascara, Lash Stylist 06/01/2007

Maybe a little beauty!

Maybelline Mascara, Lash Stylist This mascara was kind of recommended to me by one of my (now year 10) students at school! I noticed how long her eyelashes were looking and asked her what mascara she wore. When I had my next splurge in Boots (this was about March last year) I bought it. At only £6.99 it was quite a little bargain! It's a little (about £2) more than I'm used to spending but some brands are twice the price and more! It comes in a black tube, with silver writing - nothing special at first. You open the top to reveal the wand & comb. This is what makes it different! Rather than a brush, which can cause clogging of the lashes this mascara comes with a comb! The comb has 2 sets of teeth, set in a v-shape. It promises "amazing volume with up to 65% lash lift." On application, the lashes are immediately lengthened and separated on the first stroke. The comb makes it easy to STYLE the lashes so they are all arranged neatly rather than being stuck together. The mascara comes in black or waterproof black. According to the Maybelline site it also comes in brown but I haven't found this on I have been using the standard black version. It lasts extremely well even if it is slightly tricky to remove. If you use a facial wash I recommend spending a bit of extra time around the eyes to make sure you don't leave black marks on the towel! I would expect an eye makeup remover would do an even better job but I'm yet to invest in that. Overall a lovely mascara for day or for ...

Remington S 8202 NANO GOLD WET 2 Straight WIDE 05/01/2007

Poker straight hair in half the time

Remington S 8202 NANO GOLD WET 2 Straight WIDE I have had my old straighteners (Remington Wet2straight S8100) for a couple of years now, and even though they work fine I asked for a new set for Christmas. I'd seen these new Nano-Gold ones in Boots and thought they looked a bit better. My old ones were the slim version and when my hair is longer it takes some time to get it all done so my Mum bought me the wide ones for Christmas. The product features: * New Teflon® Nano Gold ceramic coated plates for total straightening performance for wet/dry hair * Top temperature 200ºC * 60 second heat-up * Tourmaline ions leaving hair smooth, shiny and frizz free * ThermoCeramic heating system for superior results * Variable heat for all hair types * On/Off switch with indicator light * 3m salon length swivel cable * Heat protection bag with separate cord storage * 3 year guarantee I hadn't been using my old straighteners all the time, only at weekends really. My hair is still in good condition and not fried as I have heard people report after using GHDs. I'm not sure if that is from overuse or not. As my hair was quite long when I bought my first set of straighteners, I was attracted to the Wet2Straight ones as they would help to cut down on styling time.My hair is reasonably fine, but there is a lot of it! Even still, I found that my hair could take up to 45 minutes to straighten with the slim plates. I find the wide plates cut down that time even further. I've managed to do my hair in 20 minutes and ...

Clinique Airbrush Concealer 05/01/2007

Airy Fairy magics away undereye bags

Clinique Airbrush Concealer I hadn't really used a concealer for years, not since the days of Rimmel stick concealer when I was a teenager. I don't have many problems with my skin but I was starting to get concerned by the bags under my eyes. So on my trip to Boots to buy Christmas presents I treated myself to 3 Clinique products a) because I wanted to get some decent makeup b) because Boots were giving away 800 points with 3 purchases. Still felt a bit guilty spending a total of £50 on makeup but here's hoping it'll last. The Airbrush concealer was £15.00 for a pen-sized tube containing 1.5ml. That's £10.00 PER MILLILITRE! Eek, this better be good! According to Clinique, this product "is a light reflecting makeup must-have. Not only does it hide shadows but it also illuminates and perfects your complexion and eye area." The site proclaims these benefits. • Illuminates and perfects. • Softens lines and shadows. • Fast brush application. It comes in the usual pinky-peach & green Clinique box, and the pen itself is green with a silver lid. You can buy it from Boots, Debenhams and, for example. If you order from and join Club Clinique you are eligible for free samples when you order, competitions etc. You may be able to find it cheaper on the internet such as on ebay. When I got it home and took it for a trial run, the box said that it would need turning a few clicks to get it going. I turned it at least 10 times and was worried nothing ...

Clinique Super Double Face Powder 05/01/2007

Superpowder - beat that shine!

Clinique Super Double Face Powder If you read my review for Superfit foundation you will know about my trip to Boots after buying some Smashbox brushes from ebay. Was very pleased with my purchase so went to buy some good make up. I'd done some research on what I should buy and had recommendations for Clinique as well as Estee Lauder. I was a bit intimidated in Debenhams & the Estee Lauder stuff was a bit more expensive. I thought paying 3 times more than I was used to was enough so went for the Clinique makeup. At Boots, they were giving 800 Advantage points with 3 purchases from Clinique so I decided to treat myself. Bought foundation, concealer and powder. Superpowder costs £16.50 from Boots, Debenhams or as I've found so far. It comes in a peachy-pink & green floral box and the powder compact is plastic with a green-marble effect. The mirror inside the compact is the size of the inside of the whole lid. It's a good sized mirror, compared to smaller circular mirrors inside other compacts I have used. The powder comes with its own applicator sponge. The compact is perfect for carrying in a handbag. Superpowder Double Powder is so-called because it can be used on its own, without foundation. It can be used as a portable makeup if desired, or in the more traditional manner, over foundation to set the makeup. It is non-comedogenic (won't cause blackheads), non-acnegenic (won't cause spots), minimises the look of pores and does not clog them. This means it is ideal for those with problem ...

Clinique Superfit Make-Up Long-Wear 05/01/2007

Superfit - super make up

Clinique Superfit Make-Up Long-Wear With my wedding coming up in August I was considering having my makeup done by a professional makeup artist. I've been experimenting with makeup since I was about 13 and am quite confident with doing my own, but in case I'm too nervous I do have a back up plan. My cousin is a beauty therapist and even though she doesn't usually do makeup she says she will do it for me on the day if we have a few practices beforehand. So first on the list was to invest in some brushes. I looked on the internet and was horrified to find brushes cost between about £10 and £25 EACH for decent quality ones. I found a set of 7 SMASHBOX brushes on ebay for under £40 so snapped them up. These included a foundation brush which I'd been thinking of getting for months. The brush worked wonders with my cheap old £5 foundation and I decided that (at my age) I may as well treat myself to some good stuff. For the wedding of course! I took a trip to Boots (I love that place!) before Christmas to get some presents for my colleagues. On my way past I wandered through Debenhams looking at the premium beauty counters such as Chanel, Estee Lauder & Clinique. I felt a bit intimidated by Debenhams so moved on to Boots. While I was there I notice, OH JOY! The Clinique Counter has an offer. 800 extra reward points with every 3 products purchase! That sold it to me! I spoke to the Clinique lady and told her I'd been recommended SUPERFIT by makeup artists on a make up advice message board. I said I wasn't sure ...

Clinique 3 Step Skin Care 05/01/2007

Clinique - treat yourself!

Clinique 3 Step Skin Care I am now 28 and I have always taken quite good care of my skin. I have cleansed and moisturised religiously since the age of about 13. My staple products for ages were Simple Facial Wash & Lotion E45 or Nivea Lotion (blue bottle). I'd always thought my skin was in quite good condition. I have combination skin but rarely have spots, and if I do it's just around the time of the month. My complexion is quite clear and people tell me I look younger than I actually am. (Usual the estimate is early 20s but not long ago I got asked for ID for alcohol in Sainsbury's! Made my day!) Well, with my wedding coming up I thought I would treat myself to some decent makeup. I'd found recommendations for Clinique so I found myself at the Clinique counter at Boots. After I'd bought myself some foundation, concealer & powder (will write a separate review) I got myself to thinking about my skin care system. Again I'd read recommendations but other people said I should stick to my basic stuff if my skin was quite good. I bought myself a sample sized kit off ebay (£15) so I could at least give it a try. It arrived just before Christmas so I've had 2 weeks to try it out. THE SYSTEM Clinique advertise the system as 3 Products, 3 Minutes, Twice a Day. Step 1 is Cleansing, Step 2 Clarifying and Step 3 Moisturising. Each system is tailored to a skin type and you can have a consultation to determine your skin type either at your local Clinique counter or online ( STEP ...

The Sims 2 (PS2) 05/01/2007


The Sims 2 (PS2) Have had this game for some time now (over a year) but have had a bit of a break in review writing. If you read my previous review on The Sims you will see that the way I play the game hasn't really changed much. I still base my Sims on myself & my partner, it took me some time to get the features right so we look quite alike. The graphics are much improved so they look more realistic. Some of the people I've spoken to about The Sims (2) have asked "What's the point?" Compared to other games, the "point" isn't as clearly defined. You're not in a race to win, you're not fighting or shooting baddies, you're not solving a mystery. The aim of the game is to control your Sim character through their life; buy & furnish a house, get a job, fall in love, have a family etc. Playing the game. Your start by creating or selecting your Sim or family. As mentioned prevoiusly, I create myself and my fiancé. Your Sim has different needs to be met : hunger, comfort, hygiene, bladder, energy, fun, social and room. Your Sim is happiest when all the bars are full (and green), as they go down they turn to red and your Sim's mood drops. On the left hand side of the needs panel (towards the middle of the screen) there is a mood bar. If it's lit in the green areas your Sim is happy (ish). The higher the green bars, the happier the Sim. If you're dipping into the bottom (red) bars, then your Sim is getting sad. In Sims 2 there is also an Aspiration Meter which tells you what your Sim ...

SingStar Legends (PS2) 04/01/2007

I am a LEGEND, or should that be LEG-end?

SingStar Legends (PS2) This is the 3rd Singstar game I have bought and got it just a little before Christmas. Being the nice fiancée that I am, I got my other half Pro-Evo 6 and Buzz Sports as well. (I had to get him a Buzz game he had a chance of beating me on!) Anyhoo Singstar Legends works in the same format as the other Singstar games so I won't repeat all the details from previous reviews. The tracklisting is as follows: Aretha Franklin- Respect Barry White- You're The First, The Last, My Everything Black Sabbath- Paranoid Blur - Parklife David Bowie - Life on Mars? Depeche Mode - Enjoy The Silence Dusty Springfield -Son Of A Preacher Man Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong - Let's Call The Whole Thing Off Elton John - Rocket Man Elvis Presley - Blue Suede Shoes Jackie Wilson - Reet Petite John Lennon - Imagine Johnny Cash - Ring Of Fire Lynyrd Skynyrd - Sweet Home Alabama Madonna - Papa Don't Preach Marvin Gaye - I Heard It Through The Grapevine Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit Patsy Cline - Crazy Pet Shop Boys - Always On My Mind Roxy Music - Love Is The Drug Sam Cooke - What A Wonderful World The Jackson 5 - I Want You Back The Monkees -Daydream Believer The Police - Roxanne The Righteous Brothers - Unchained Melody The Rolling Stones - Sympathy For The Devil* The Smiths - This Charming Man* Tina Turner - What's Love Got To Do With It? U2 - Vertigo Whitney Houston Greatest Love Of All As with the other games you have the words along the bottom of ...

SingStar 80s (PS2) 04/01/2007

Oh-wow girls just wanna be a wailing cat

SingStar 80s (PS2) I bought this game game (with the microphones) at Christmas last year and played it with my future Mother In Law (!) after a bottle of wine. Have since played it lots on my own (not as fun) and took it to my parents' house this Christmas. The microphones come with a USB adapter that you plug into the front of your PS2 and you navigate using the usual PS2 controller. The game has several game modes; Solo where you can sing on your own or part of a duet, or you can play in Party mode. You can sing together and try to rack up as many points as you can, you can compete against each other to see who gets the most points. There is also a Pass-The-Mic mode where there are 5 different types of game, you have to try and stay in the game. The game works just like karaoke where the words are along the bottom of the screen and a bar shows you the notes you need to hit. You get bonuses for getting the whole line and "golden notes" which are sometimes tricky notes to get. The lines get coloured in as you sing and you can see whether you are hitting the right note. In the top left hand corner you have a performance meter as well as your score, if it's green you are doing well, then it goes down to yellow and red. For each line you sing you are graded Good, Cool, OK, and awful! You don't have to sing all the words while you are learning the songs as it only picks up the notes that you sing, and you can also sing an octave higher or lower if that's more comfortable. The songs are ...

Buzz!: The Music Quiz (PS2) 04/01/2007

What is THIS!?!

Buzz!: The Music Quiz (PS2) This game continues where Buzz the Music Quiz left off. The characters from the previous games are in their new jobs and get calls from Buzz to come and film the new version of the Quiz show. Jason Donovan (!) is the voice of Buzz. This time you can combine 2 sets of Buzzers and have an 8 player game. There are more characters to choose from and the graphics are better. I commented that the lovely assistant Rose seemed to have had cosmetic surgery! The hardest thing I've found was setting up your player, trying to teach my Dad how to input his name was quite tricky! So, this is a general knowledge quiz, with many of the questions based on photographs. Sometimes the photos, or links between the photo and the question are a little vague and this does detract a little from the game. The rounds are pretty much the same as in Buzz the Music Quiz. You start with Point Builder where everyone can answer the question to get points. Then we have Snap, if you see the right answer on the screen you have to buzz in as quickly as you can. The third round is Fastest Finger - where you will get more points if you are first to answer. The points decrease if you are 2nd, 3rd or 4th. Round 4 - Offloader is replaced with Hitman where if you get the answer right you get to take a shot at your opponents! Each of you has 3 lives, but look out you can commit virtual suicide! Pass the Bomb is the 5th round - you are given a ticking "bomb" which will go off in a certain amount ...
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