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since 14/03/2006


Royal Liver Assurance Ltd 12/05/2010

They want to bump up my insurance by near 50% for anxiety..

Royal Liver Assurance Ltd Firstly, I applied for Term Life insurance with them through a broker. Broker submitted my application to them, and I got a call back from Royal Liver asking me to do a lengthy "interview" over the phone about my anxiety, because I had 2 months ago suffered from 2 panic attacks (first time in my life, and not depression related, not life events related, it just came on without warning and without explanation! And I am perfectly healthy after several X-rays, blood tests, ECGs, etc. done at the hospital! And I am definitely not suicidal!) and have been prescribed Citalopram (an anti-depressant also used to treat panic disorders) by my GP for this. I've read self-help books to help me overcome my anxiety, and I have to say, I have so far been coping really well. I've not had any medical history of health problems or depression and no family history of any health problems either. Then they told me they'd need to get a doctor's report from my GP . My broker advised me that from their experience of dealing with such companies, if my GP doesn's submit it to Royal Liver "soon enough", this could be reason enough for them to bump up my insurance premiums. So I rang up my GP and asked them to please send in the report ASAP, within 2 weeks of their request being made. GP agreed and said it would have been done before then normally anyway. So then weeks past... In fact, like more than a month passed, and I heard no news from Royal Liver or the broker. I assumed perhaps they decided ...

Elle 02/05/2009

Good for learning about the latest catwalk trends + fashion tips

Elle Elle magazine is one of those women's fashion glossies which has stood the test of time (It was started in 1945!). Costing £3.50 an issue if you buy it off the newstands (and costing a bit less if you subscribe - you pay £6 for the first 6 issues/6 months, then pay £16.80 for subsequent 6 issues every 6 months, which is around 20% less than its usual price) it is not one of the cheaper magazines on the market, but for what it does, it does quite well. Out of the 274-page May 09 issue, about 147 pages are completely devoted to ads and promotions. That means about 53% of this issue was just advertisements alone. The rest (127 pages, or 47% of the entire mag) make up the actual content and I am reviewing them here. Elle is a high fashion magazine like Vogue (with which its often compared), and as such, at least half of all the products featured in it have price tags that are in the hundreds, some of which are in the thousands, though not *everything* shown in the magazine was expensive. One thing is for sure : you won't find Primark or supermarket brands such as George or F+F in here. However there are some featured items/clothing from high-street outlets like French Connection, Urban Outfitters, Topshop, Accessorize, Oasis, Uniqlo, River Island, etc. As long as an item is in keeping with the latest catwalk trend and can mix and match well with the other high fashion items featured, the lower cost of a high-street item won't stop it from being featured here. Its not all about ... 29/04/2009

The online shop I use the most... I buy books on a pretty regular basis, being a real bookworm myself. I've found Amazon to be THE ONLY online book retailer which has the largest and most comprehensive selection of books on offer. I've always tried looking for a better deal on other major online book retailers like WHSMITH, ABEbooks, etc... but none of those companies ever stocked every single book I did a search for - none, except for good ol' Sometimes I use Amazon's American branch to buy books that can't be found on Amazon's British site. Whatever it was I needed - whether its an old out-of-print 1950s book or a hard-to-find academic volume that could only be found in the reference section of the University library and not in usual shops - Amazon is the one to stock it - or one of its Marketplace Sellers would be able to stock one for me. And its not just boring old books that they do... They also stock a more-than-adequate range of popular books, software, CDs, DVDs and videos. Their selection of baby toys and books is also steadily growing. They also stock a rather fair selection of electronics items like mobile phones, cameras, printers, kitchen appliances, hardware tools, shavers, electric toothbrushes, and garden furniture and garden equipment. In fact I hope the British Amazon site can one day join up with so that they can also offer a one-stop-shop for a great range of cosmetic products by well-known brands like Chanel, Molton Brown, Urban Decay, Stila, NARS, ...

Glamour 29/04/2009

A bit of fun and distraction won't hurt anybody...

Glamour Glamour magazine costs £2 and is published monthly. It is widely available in the small travel-sized version (I'm not sure if they phased out the original large glossy version, but I haven't seen the large version on the shop shelves for AGES)... It contains an average of 300 to 400 pages, but like a typical women's glossy, a substantial number of pages contain advertisements, while the rest are articles and random stuff, shopping tips, relationship tips, a personality/relationship quiz or two, which all make for quite a good interesting if not rather fun and relaxing read. Generally speaking, all the reading material in the magazine are centred around women-related issues, such as relationships, body issues, health, sex, fashion trends. The overall tone is light, fun, positive, feel-good, and quite cheeky at times, but never mean or bitchy. I never bought into the whole Heat/OK/etc. tabloid-style weeklies movement, where the idea of "humour" always involves making bitchy remarks or rude jokes at someone else's expense (even if that someone concerned is richer, and/or more beautiful than us normal folk). Sometimes there are articles in Glamour written by men so we can sort of glean into a man's perspective on relationships and women, and these are quite interesting as well. Most Glamour magazine articles are quite short in length and varied in content - kind of almost like you're going on a short-attention-span trip jumping from one story to the next ... so if you're ...

St Ivel Utterly Butterly 27/04/2009

Bland and tastes artificial. What's really in it?!!

St Ivel Utterly Butterly It seems like the advertising which states its made from real buttermilk is meant to make it sound like it tastes really buttery... BUT... have you ever bought a cup of buttermilk from the supermarket shelves? I have, once, when I made a batch of muffins from a recipe in a book. When I opened the cup of buttermilk I was surprised to see that it looked like watery curdled, fermented stuff. When I tasted it, it just tasted sour. Gross. However, buttermilk when used as an ingredient in recipes taste fine after the product has been cooked or baked. Having buttermilk as one of the main ingredients in a margarine certainly does not make the product taste buttery at all, because buttermilk is not butter, doesn't look anything like butter, doesn't taste anything like butter, and isn't even made out of butter. I checked out what buttermilk is and apparently its a product of fermented milk. According to the dictionary, buttermilk is the sour liquid that remains after the butterfat has been removed from whole milk by churning. Knowing what actual buttermilk is like, I really won't think that by adding the words "made from buttermilk" on a tub of "butter" would make the product sound tasty. But I suppose it can mislead others who don't have a clue what real buttermilk is like, and think its like some sort of creamy, yummy, buttery stuff. So much for buttermilk. On the pack of Utterly Butterly (and on the website itself at ...

Country Life English Butter 26/04/2009

Very similar to Lurpak... but cheaper.

Country Life English Butter I used to be a Lurpak customer. Then when my pockets got a bit tight I started looking around for better bargains. I want as much butter in the product as possible, but not 100% butter as those are very hard to spread straight out of the fridge. I always avoid Utterly Butterly and other low-fat buttery spreads because they are bland crap that may be low on saturated fat but very saturated in salt. Surely salt-overload isn't a good thing either?? Anyway I digress. Back to the butter. Yes, so I saw Country Life butter sitting on a shelf above the Lurpak butter. A quick comparison of the price makes Country Life the winner, at about 40p cheaper than Lurpak at the usual price, and I am referring to the 500g packs. The appearance of Country Life butter is a bit yellower compared to Lurpak, which is more a whitish creamier light yellow. That doesn't matter much to me. What about the texture? Actually, once spread onto bread, they are pretty much very similar. Taste similar too. In terms of real butter content, Country Life and Lurpak differ slightly, on the degree of less than 5%. Not a significant difference, so that really doesn't factor into why I buy this stuff. The bottom line is, I buy it when Lurpak is not on discount. But I still prefer Lurpak a wee bit more than Country Life. Perhaps its something to do with the fact that Lurpak is made from Danish butter, which makes it strangely more attractive to me. But if you llike staying loyal to your country's produce, ... 26/04/2009

Cheap prices for certain items... but beware of policy I've bought quite a few things from them before. Sometimes their deals are really good, and with free delivery for orders over £50 it definitely is better than shopping at most other similar online shops. The delivery service is reliable and quick. Often I'd receive my order the next day after I've placed it. One gripe though - their returns and cancellation policy sucks. You are always charged with the expense of returning the product, no matter how large or small it is. Even if it hasn't been opened, or hasn't been damaged or used. That can be quite costly, since if its a big or heavy item like furniture, you can imagine the courier charges for returning it would be quite high. Once you've placed an order with them, you can never change it and you can never cancel it. Even if you decide to reject the item on delivery, you'd still be charged for the cost of returning it by courier. In that case, retailers like Next are much better, because they always absorb the cost of returns no matter how big or small the item, and their delivery charge is always a flat fee of about £4. However, if you've really shopped around and it turns out only Kiddicare can give you what you want at the best price, then by all means don't be afraid to buy from them. They are a very reputable company, with an actual store location (apparently they have a huge store in Peterborough) so they are more reliable than other online retailers who don't have an actual store or address in real life ...

New Scientist 26/04/2009

I am not a scientist, but I love this magazine

New Scientist I've subscribed to many magazines before, but New Scientist is the only one I've had subscribed to for more than a year. The thought of cancelling the subscription had occurred before, usually if a particular issue didn't contain many articles which were interesting to me, but still somehow, the next issue to land on my door will entice me with some interesting article which will then once again make me change my mind about cancelling! The thing is, this isn't one of the cheapest and most affordable magazines around. At more than £3 a pop for a weekly, its the most expensive weekly apart from The Economist. Granted, if you subscribe to it, you save more, but still, expect to pay around nearly £8 a month on the subscription. If you are a student you can subscribe to it at a slightly cheaper rate. That said, if you love reading this, it is always money well-spent. (I've tried reading The Economist but I just found it so boring... I'm just not that interested in finance/politics so much.) I am not a scientist, in fact the most science I've ever done was A level Math and AS Physics. When I read the stuff in this, I often can't really say whether I think its a load of BS or not, since I'm not that well-educated in scientific matters to decide! However the New Scientist seems to have a reputation for supplying decent well-researched articles in general so I don't think I'm being brainwashed here. Yes it seems to go on and on about climate change-related issues... but then that ...

Tatler 24/04/2009

Surprisingly interesting!

Tatler The standard of writing in this magazine can vary from article to article, ranging from highbrow, pompous, flowery language to accessible and simple English, but the language is never too colloquial. It is a high-society magazine after all, featuring everything and anything to do with the very rich and influential descendants of British royalty and aristocrats. It seems the articles are written by various high society people, not necessarily good writers, but they get to write the articles because they offer us readers a personal account of what happens in their world and their perspective on things. The magazine is unique in the sense that unlike other magazines, this is a mish-mash of fashion, travel, expensive beauty treatments, gourmet food, personal stories, etc. written from a high society viewpoint. It isn't too serious or political at all, and in fact, can make for quite fun reading. The topics of articles that come up can be quite random, but that's another thing I like about this magazine, because you don't always read about the same old stuff. I like the shopping pages, I find them very interesting. Most things featured there are so costly that us normal folk can only imagine buying them in our dreams (a Chanel necklace that costs £323,000, for example!). It doesn't make me feel bad at all for not being rich... in fact, the things featured in the book are so very expensive that I can't even begin to covet them, its only stuff I can only dream of having. ...

Bebe Confort Vit 20/08/2007

Great lightweight stroller manouvres like a dream

Bebe Confort Vit When my 2nd child had grown to a much bigger size at 9 months old, I was looking at the option of purchasing a 2nd stroller after struggling with an expensive Mamas & Papas Pliko Argento pushchair for the past few years both with my 1st child and my 2nd child. I did lots of research on the Internet and tried out some pushchairs in Mothercare and Toys R Us but didn't find anything I wanted (I wanted a very lightweight stroller that is easy to steer, folds and opens very easily, is comfy for my baby to sit in). The one closest to what I'm looking for was MacLaren Volo, which was lightweight enough for me and easy enough to use, but I wasn't very happy about the mesh seat on the Volo as I wanted a more "substantial" padded seat for my baby. I'd heard about the Bebe Confort Vit through reading reviews and wanted to try it. This stroller received very positive reviews on product reviews for "The best lightweight buggies" in the market. Website for that is : After visiting Bebe Confort's homepage for this stroller at : I was convinced me, based on what I've read, that this really did seem like exactly what I wanted. I decided to buy it, and return it if it really didn't match my expectations. The Bebe Confort Vit is a very lightweight stroller (combined weight of chassis with seat and hood on is ...

Nivea Firming Lotion 18/08/2007

Great moisturiser, skin looks and feels healthier

Nivea Firming Lotion I recently heard of NIVEA's Firming Body Lotion with Q10 mentioned somewhere in the media (can't remember where and when), and when I saw it on the Tesco shelves being sold for £3.75 for a 200ml bottle, I thought why not try it out - I did not think it was too pricey. After all I used to work in Molton Brown many years ago and customers used to pay more than that for just a basic hand lotion! The body lotion seemed attractive to me because I'm not getting any younger and am starting to get a bit concerned about aging and my figure (I've just had my 2nd baby last September) ... also, when compared to the other body lotion/cream for "aging skin" on the shelf - Dove's Pro-Age Body Lotion retailing at £4.99 for 250 ml - this seemed a bit cheaper so I bought it and tried it out. The lotion feels light and is mildly scented with a pleasant fragrance. When applied, it feels a bit sticky or greasy, but the lotion absorbs quickly into the skin and within 10 minutes or so and skin starts feeling really smooth and supple. I've had dry, eczema-prone skin all my life, and they could certainly do with a bit of moisture. However in the past, I've tried many drugstore body lotions, including NIVEA's classic blue tin Creme and its newer white plastic tub NIVEA SOFT INTENSIVE MOISTURISING CREME, Vaseline Intensive Care Dry Skin Lotion and none of these products actually worked to produce long-lasting moisturisation (though they're almost half the price cheaper than NIVEA's Q10 Firming ...

Aussie ColorMate Conditioner 25/06/2007

Decent conditioner for not-too-damaged hair

Aussie ColorMate Conditioner I have long, straightish, colour-treated (lightened) hair which is slightly thin in thickness, and quite dry to the touch but don't suffer from split ends. I regularly blow-dry my hair with a diffuser to keep hair wavy after every wash and I wash my hair once every other day. I need a conditioner that is rich enough to condition hair but doesn't wash off leaving my hair flat. This conditioner does the trick for me. I have been using this conditioner for about a year now and haven't seen the need to switch conditioners. What's great about it is that it really doesn't weigh hair down (I use a blob which is slightly larger than a 50p coin and only apply it to the lower ends of my hair) and does do the job of conditioning decently. It doesn't deep-condition and certainly isn't "intensely-conditioning", its a very light conditioner and is still much better than not using any conditioner at all (which would have left my hair in a tangled mess!) I would not go near intensive-conditioners anyway as they would probably leave my hair very flat! This conditioner also smells quite lovely, of peaches. I also use a T3 hairdryer and diffuser which has Tourmaline/infra-red technology to care for hair while it dries, which has helped keep my hair in pretty good condition. This conditioner retails at Tesco for £2.95 or something very close to that. Sometimes there are buy one get one free offers at Tesco for Aussie brand shampoo and conditioners which means I could get this for even ...

Tesco C53 Black Ink Cartridge 19/06/2007

You get what you pay for with this Tesco cartridge

Tesco C53 Black Ink Cartridge I bought this cartridge in one of the larger Tesco stores for £2.97 (or a few pennies around that amount if I didn't remember it accurately!) about 2 months ago. I wanted to save some money on cartridges since I do quite a lot of printing and I own a Canon inkjet printer model number S200x which uses a Canon brand BCI24BK black cartridge which normally costs about twice the price of this Tesco one. Right from the first print, the quality difference was very noticeable. The black ink smudges everywhere on the print-outs, large random black blobs of ink smudges dotted each printout rendering it unusable. I tried to rectify the problem by doing a print head deep-clean, which didn't help at all. I then adjusted the printer's ink-dry time to the longest time possible, and it did improve the print out of letters (and other word-only documents) but the print quality was still quite rubbish - some lines of words of the printout were much fainter than the rest of the other lines of words, but overall, the letters were readable and quite acceptable quality but not good quality. Forget about printing pictures because even after adjusting the printer's ink-dry time and doing print-head cleans, the picture printouts were all still covered in random large ugly black ink blobs all round the page, which meant any picture printed out with this cartridge was useless. I think you do get what you pay for, and I shan't be buying another Tesco black ink cartridge again when this one runs ...

L'Oreal Feria Color Booster 30/03/2006

Finally, a brown that shows up!

L'Oreal Feria Color Booster I have naturally blackish-brown hair with a very subtle reddish cast. I've been dyeing my hair since 10 years ago - both at the salon, and trying out DIY-home-dyeing kits at home, so I know a bit about hair dyes and the way they react on my hair. I stopped dyeing my hair regularly about 3 years ago when I got pregnant. I wanted to give my hair a much needed "rest" because I'd been dyeing my hair for 6 years consecutively and could hardly remember how it felt like to have my natural hair colour back! Since then, I've tried tone-on-tone home-DIY kits (semi-permanent) occasionally, but they don't really showed up in an obvious way on my naturally dark hair. They'd only be visible under very strong artificial light, or when I'm outdoors under very bright sunlight. During December last year, I walked by the hair-dye aisle in Tesco's and saw L'Oreal Feria had a new product : L'Oreal Feria Colour Booster, which comes in a variety of colours. On the pack, L'Oreal claims that this product will make colour show up even on the darkest natural hair shade. I remembered how I used to pay my stylist around £80 just to have my hair colour stripped with bleach, then dyed to a lighter colour with colour toners. Then I saw the price of this new Feria Colour Booster hair dye - just under £6 a pack, so I bought one home eagerly to try. The colour I bought was P13 Golden Flash Brown. I prepared the mixture as instructed - you have to mix in the contents of a small little copper-coloured ...

Johnsons Baby Oil 15/03/2006

I would not recommend this product to anyone!

Johnsons Baby Oil I've been suffering from eczema ever since I could remember. As a result, I'm very careful about whatever I put on my skin, and pay particular attention to any possible triggers of eczemic attacks. I've tried Johnson's baby oil on myself and its always caused a mild eczema attack on my skin. At first, I didn't believe it. Its only baby oil right? Good for babies, good for you?? Well, not so. When I tried it on my daughter - who suffers from eczema like I do, same thing - she gets eczema too! So I figured there must be something in the baby oil that we're allergic to, but looking at the ingredient listing- which very simply mentioned 2 ingredients : Perfume, and something called "Paraffinum Liquidum", which I don't know about. Then I remembered that I've gotten eczemic attacks from using E45 on my detergent-chapped hands as well... and whenever I used E45 on my daughter's dry skin, it just made her eczema worse or caused a breakout. I decided to compare their ingredient listings one day to see if they have anything in common with each other. Its not hard - since baby oil only has 2 ingredients, so its either the perfume or the "Paraffinum Liquidum" that me and my daughter are allergic to. E45's ingredient listing turned out to be pretty long, made up of mostly chemicals I don't know anything about. I noticed E45 doesn't have perfume on its ingredient listing, so that narrowed down my suspicions : it probably is the "Paraffinum Liquidum" that me and my daughter are ...
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