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I'm in my early 20s a student and currently reside in the fair city of Leicester, where I study history.

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since 23/08/2006


Head and Shoulders Anti-Dandruff Shampoo Smooth and Silky 19/01/2012

Does the job

Head and Shoulders Anti-Dandruff Shampoo Smooth and Silky I did for a time suffer I’m embarrassed to say from rather chronic dandruff, now if I only washed my hair once a month this wouldn’t be so bad (well it would but at least I could link it to poor personal hygiene), but instead tend to wash my hair on a daily basis, the drawback of long hair being that it really does look terrible if not looked after. So I decided for once to give a branded ‘medicated’ shampoo a try. Head and Shoulders is an oft advertised brand of shampoo, which while having the unfortunate taint of being endorsed by one of the more irritating of celebrity business men (Donald Trump) never the less is fairly easy to get hold of and reasonably priced. It first went on sale in 1961 and is made by Procter & Gamble, with ‘Zinc pyrithione’ being the active ingredient. Which as a quick Google search will tell you is a ‘colourless solid used as an anti-fungal and antibacterial agent. The clause in the wikipedia article that: “One recent study found that low doses of zinc pyrithione added to human cells grown in petri dishes can trigger a stress response, energy crisis, and DNA damage in these cells. It is unclear whether a similar effect occurs with normal human skin.” I won’t deny that this is slightly off putting, although never the less the number of substances that can cause various problems is so vast that I’m not going to worry about it too much that and over 50 years on the market without any notable lawsuits against it seems to suggest that its probably ... 05/12/2011

Never watch TV with a credit card while drinking I had the house to myself this weekend and was well bored (as nice as it is to have a few days to myself I can't deny missing having other people around the house), however that combined with a rare day off, and miserable weather outside, left me channel surfing, until I stumbled across the 800 range, (which on Free Sat anyhow is where the shopping channels lurk). Pricedrop TV is located on channel 37 on freeview, 645 on Sky, 801 on Freesat and 741 on Virgin Media, basically chances are if for some reason you desire to watch it you can. Set up in 2003, and owned by Bid Shopping (also runs Bid TV, Screen Shop and Speed Auction), it also has a website located at, its being around for some time now which would seem to suggest that its prices clearly aren't as good as the cheery presenters claim. Pricedrop follows the 'reverse auction' system, basically they have a product with a limited quantity, as time goes on the price drops until all the items are sold, everyone pays the lowest price. Seems a good idea in principle but a few points need to be taken into account, firstly the majority of items sold on Price Drop TV cannot be found outside of pricedrop tv, at least not easily, a quick google search on many of their products rarely shows up anything other than the price drop tv channel. As such it is extremely difficult to determine just how much anything they sell is actually worth. However from watching it you can extrapolate the following, it is extremely ...

The Fleur-De-Lys, East Hagbourne 19/08/2011

Best pub in walking distance

The Fleur-De-Lys, East Hagbourne The Fleur-De-Lys in East Hagbourne is despite its name very much a ‘classic’ English pub, in semi-rural Oxfordshire. More importantly as far as I’m concerned it is about a half hour walk almost entirely off the road from Didcot. Making it an excellent location for a quite lunch in the afternoon (open 11:30AM – 2:30PM in the afternoon), or a drink in the evening (opens 6PM – 11PM) in the evening. The pub was built in the 17th century, or as the site claims rebuilt following the ‘great fire of Hagbourne’, the be honest I’m unsure if a fire in a small rural village can really be considered ‘great’ but never the less I digress. The pub is whitewashed on the outside, and reflects the general characteristics of the village. The interior of the pub is slightly run down, with well-worn but comfortable seating and a reasonable sized bar, the building retains many of its ‘original’ features including the wooden beams etc. It sits up to about 40 people but when I was in for lunch during the week there was only about a dozen people total. There is also an outside beer garden, and parking is available, however it is easily accessible on foot from Didcot. The atmosphere was friendly most people where there for lunch or similar, it was generally well kept, and to the best of my knowledge does not have a reputation for violence or trouble, it had a generally comfortable atmosphere, and avoids the ‘local pub for local people’ like atmosphere you seem to get in some rural pubs. The pub ...

MSI CR620 30/06/2011

Would be great if not for the lousy keyboard

MSI CR620 My laptop recently died on me to be precise it died on me two weeks before my dissertation was due, thankfully I back up my laptop, however it left me in a position of having to get a new laptop and quickly, meaning I spent far less time than I normally would researching what to get. This laptop was purchased from Novatech in Reading and set me back £479.99, putting it squarely in the budget laptop range. Components • Processor: Intel Core i3-380M: This would generally be considered or so I have being informed by a quick Google search as a mid-range laptop processor. It is a duel core CPU, with each core running at 2.53GHz, it should be noted that dual core does not make it twice as fast in performance terms to a single core running at 2.53GHz. • RAM: This laptop comes with 3GB of RAM, in the form of two DDRII modules (one 2GB and one 1GB strip). Fairly standard for a laptop today but sufficient to run a modern operating system. Maximum supported RAM is listed as 4GB. • Screen: The screen is a standard 15.6” widescreen laptop screen, not a matte screen, standard LCD. It is a 16:9 Aspect ratio, and has a maximum resolution of 1368x788 • Keyboard: Standard qwerty keyboard, does also have a ‘number’ pad as well. Keyboard is the ‘scrabble’ style keyboard, i.e. each key looks like a scrabble letter, with gaps between them, fairly comfortable to use while touch typing. • Graphics: Standard ‘Intel HD-Graphics’ i.e. on board graphics • Wi-Fi: b/g/n • Inbuilt 1.3M web ...

Greene King Abbot Ale 29/06/2011

Good but not truly special

Greene King Abbot Ale Abbot Ale is brewed by Greene King and has being around since the 1950s, and is brewed at the Westgate Brewery in Bury St. Edmunds. It is available in cans, bottles, and cask, with a bottle setting you back £1.69 for a 500ml bottle, while cans come in packs of four for about £5.50 also 500ml, (about £1.38 a can). Basically it puts itself in the bottom end of the ‘premium’ market for beers, similarly to many other Greene King beers, but below some of the bottle conditioned beers, particularly those from smaller craft breweries. Being available on draught from one of the local pubs in my area is however my preference (about £2.80 a pint), this is in the South East, and its price will vary depending on your pub but it tends to sell at the same price as most other cask ales in any particular area. I opted for a pint of Abbot Ale at my local pub, and had it served in an ‘Abbot Ale’ glass, not that this honestly makes much difference. The beer itself is a reddish brown; it did have a slight head however it was minimal, and quickly disappeared. The beer itself smells like well what you would expect from beer a mixture of yeast, malt, and hops. Taste wise it’s a well hopped beer, somewhat bitter, and all together pleasant tasting. It is not a beer that can be drunk rapidly but is a good one to have with food, and an excellent drink to while away an hour with a friend. At 5.0%, this is not a weak beer, at 2.8 Units in a pint, or 2.5 units in a can or bottle, a couple of pints will ...

Marston's Bank's Mild 23/06/2011

A good session beer

Marston's Bank's Mild So Just what is Mild CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ales) defines Mild as: “Milds are black to dark brown to pale amber in colour and come in a variety of styles from warming roasty ales to light refreshing lunchtime thirst quenchers. Malty and possibly sweet tones dominate the flavour profile but there may be a light hop flavour or aroma. Slight diacetyl (toffee/butterscotch) flavours are not inappropriate. Alcohol levels are typically low.” Basically it is a low hoped beer, and comes in multiple varieties, and started to dominate British beer markets in the mid-19th century, going into terminal decline from about the 1920s onwards being replaced by Bitter as the most popular beer in the UK by the 1950s which of course would go onto beting replaced by Larger just a few decades later. Mild at least partly thanks to efforts by CAMERA is starting to see somewhat of a resurgence, however is still very much in the minority. Case in point in my local branch of Morrisons their where a grand total of two brands of Mild, ‘Bank’s Mild’ and ‘Thwaites Champion Dark Mild’, both sold in cans, I opted for a four pack of each and this review is for Bank’s Mild. About Banks Banks was originally founded in 1875, however through a serious of mergers and acquisitions is now a brand of Marston's Brewery based in Wolverhampton, and would most likely be considered a regional brewery. Banks Mild is brewed at the Park Brewery in Wolverhampton. Packaging and Pricing A four pack of Banks set me back the ...

Morrisons Shandy 20/06/2011

Not shandy at all

Morrisons Shandy Shandy in a pub on a hot summer day is something I have always enjoyed typically made by mixing lemonade with bitter at about a 1:1 ratio, providing a relatively low alcohol drink that is excellent for a lazy Sunday afternoon. The first clue that Morrison’s Shandy is not exactly Shandy in this sense of course lies in its location in the soft drink isle of Morison’s, well that and the fact that you don’t get asked for proof of age when buying it. However I should clarify that I purchased it under no illusion regarding its alcohol content, which is listed as no more than 0.5%, and as such should be considered at least in my opinion as a completely different drink from pub Shandy. A six pack of Morrisons Shandy will currently set you back £1.05 pence, or about 18p a can, it is identically priced to other own brand Morrisons canned soft drinks including Ginger beer and comes in 330ml cans. The can itself is brown in colour with the Morrisons logo at the top and the term Shandy below, with nutritional information of the back. So just what does this product contain, the product is described as lemonade shandy with sugar and sweeteners, including Carbonated water, beer (12%) brewed using wheat and barley, sugar, citric acid flavourings, sweeteners, barley malt extract and stabiliser. I’m not quite sure exactly how this can contain 12% beer considering its alcohol content and will presume it is something similar to the non-alcoholic beers they sell. The drink itself contains 37 ...

PG Tips Pyramid Decaffeinated Tea Bags 16/06/2011

Camellia sinensis without the Caffeine

PG Tips Pyramid Decaffeinated Tea Bags About PG Tips PG Tips is manufactured by British-Dutch multinational Unilever in Manchester, and is one of the more popular brands of tea in the United Kingdom. The brand was originally developed by the company Brooke Bond, (eventually became a part of Unilever in 1984), The name is an abbreviation of the original name ‘Pre-Gest Tea’ the implication being the brand aided digestion the name was formally changed to PG Tips in the early 1950s following tighter regulation on health claims made by products. The Product This is the decaffeinated version of PG Tips, I am not quite sure of the exact process for achieving this however most process are well not exactly ‘natural’ however to the best of my knowledge there are no significant health implications from the removal process. Decaffeinated tea will still contain some caffeine however it is minimal compared to caffeinated tea (regular tea is estimated to have about half the caffeine content of coffee). The boxes are standard cardboard, however are not airtight and it is preferable to transfer tea bags to an air tight container and as the tea bags are loose in the box to not buy more than you can reasonably consume in a few months at most. Ingredients wise, well there is only one real ingredient Camellia sinensis, also known as tea, PG tips is a blend of several varieties of black tea (tea leaves that have being dried and fermented as opposed to green tea which is tried but unfermented or oolong tea that is dried and semi ...

Morland Old Speckled Hen Ale 15/06/2011

A good Cask Ale

Morland Old Speckled Hen Ale Old Speckled Hen, is a beer originally made by the Brewer Moorland based in Abingdon, however as is so often the case in 2000 they got bought out by Greene King, who closed the brewery and transferred production over to Bury St. Edmunds in Sussex (the main Greene King Brewery), unfortunately this isn’t altogether surprising and seems to be a habit of Greene King. Given that I was ten at the time this happened I can’t really comment on whether or not the version brewed in Abingdon is superior to the new version so I’ll just have to review it as it is. Old Speckled Hen is available in bottles, cans, cask and keg format. The version I most often drink is the Cask version costing about £2.45 a pint. This version has an alcoholic volume of 4.5% (the bottled and canned versions are 5.2%), putting a pint of it at 2.5 units of alcohol in a pint (a 500ml bottle version contains 2.6 units and a 440ml can 2.3 units approximately). So put simply two pints of the cask version will comfortably put you over the recommended limit for alcohol, then again thinking about it two pints of just about anything will put you over this limit. Ingredients wise it’s the same as any beer, malt, hops, water and yeast, and is a golden brown colour with a decent head on it (cask version). The smell is a mixture of hops and malt, and is pleasant enough, as is often the case it comes in a branded glass or at least it does in Greene King pubs. Taste wise its malty and quite hoppy, not an overly gassy beer ...

Oreo Cookies Vanilla 15/06/2011

I'm 21 and still eating cookies with milk and I feel fine

Oreo Cookies Vanilla A couple of Oreos and a glass of milk, I confess that at 21 I would like to use the excuse of childhood nostalgia, unfortunately for that excuse Oreos have actually only being available in the UK since 2008, (they were launched in the US back in 1912), and the brand is currently owned by Kraft Food (who also own Cadbury’s amongst other companies and brands). You can purchase a packet of Oreo biscuits for about £1 to £1.50 in the supermarket, after initially launching in Sainsbury they are now available in most major chains. Each packet contains about a dozen biscuits, and weighs in at 154g, in a distinctive blue tube shaped package. Oreos themselves are quite distinctive as biscuits go, two black coloured biscuits sandwiched together with a white cream like substance. They are incredibly sweet, with some 4.5g of sugar per 11g biscuit, although that is kind of standard for a lot of these kinds of products. The taste is well delicious, the way the biscuit mixes with the filling, or the option to break the two half’s apart, and taste particularly good dipped into milk, nutrition wise, well at least the glass of milk I had with them contains calcium. Typical Values Typical values per biscuit (11g) Energy 216kJ - kcal (Calories) 52kcal Protein 0.6g Carbohydrate 7.2g of which sugars 4.5g Fat 2.3g of which saturates 1.2g Fibre 0.4g Sodium* 0.05g *Equivalent as salt 0.1g Yes these are basically sugar, fat and other carbohydrates most likely in the form of flour, they are terrible ...

Schweppes Original Lemonade 15/06/2011

Good mixer but overpriced

Schweppes Original Lemonade Schweppes Lemonade is unsurprisingly manufactured by Schweppes, who are a subsidiary of the ‘Dr Pepper Snapple Group’ (Schweppes was previously owned by Cadbury before they sold it off). As well as Lemonade they also manufacture tonic water, ginger ale, soda water and a handful of other soft drinks under this brand, they are routinely found in pubs, as well as in those little 150ml cans to be used as mixers. Schweppes Lemonade comes packaged in a range of packaging the main ones being150ml cans, 330ml cans, 500ml bottles and 2L bottles. A 2 Litre bottle can be purchased for about £1 to £1.50 in the supermarket and a six pack of 330ml cans costs between about £2.50 and £3.00 so pretty much standard prices for a soft drink. It is a clear lemonade with the claim on the packaging of ‘made with real lemons’ although looking at the ingredients the lemon content is ‘2%’, a full ingredient list is found below: Carbonated Water, Sugar ,Lemon Juice from Concentrate (2%) ,Citric Acid ,Flavourings ,Acidity Regulator (E331) ,Sweeteners (Aspartame, Sodium Saccharin) ,Preservative (E202) ,Antioxidant (Ascorbic Acid) ,Contains a source of Phenylalanine Ingredient wise it is the pretty much standard mixture of sugar, water and flavourings, sugar content is actually quite low for a soft drink (4.2g per 100ml) Coca Cola contains more than double this amount. It smells like well sugar and water with a hint of lemon not an altogether unpleasant smell. Taste wise you can taste the lemon somewhat ...

Stella Artois Premium Continental Lager 15/06/2011

The Drink of Louts, Yobs, and Summer Barbecues in Suburbia

Stella Artois Premium Continental Lager I have always had somewhat mixed feeling about Stella Artois, it’s not a bad beer, but it seems whenever I think a ‘gang’ of drunken teenagers on the walk home it is cans of Stella they are clutching, it’s the drink in my local pub is the drink of choice for several of the more obvious alcoholics. Its also the beer with some pretty good adverts, and a beer that I often see at barbecues, etc. Stella Artois is a 5.2% at the upper end in terms of strength for normal beers and ciders (yes I know it comes stronger than that but most beers and ciders over 6% sell themselves almost entirely on their alcohol content), putting a pint at roughly 3 Units, which is the government recommended maximum for women, and one unit off it for men, in fact just 2 pints for a women or 3 for a man would according to the government recommended maximums be classified as binge drinking. So after all this negative comments you may well wonder why I am writing about it, the simple fact is that unfortunately a drink can’t really choose its drinkers it’s got somewhat of a bad reputation however it really is quite a nice beer. 12 bottles of Stella will currently set you back about £10, (for 284ml bottles), however it is on almost perpetual special offer, a quick check of the Tesco website currently shows it as on offer at three for £20.00, (£0.55 a bottle), (about £0.39 per unit of alcohol). So while not the cheapest beer on the market it is quite affordable and offers like this partly explain the youth ...

Brothers Pear Cider 15/06/2011

Not bad but a little over priced

Brothers Pear Cider Feeling like something sweeter than my normal pint of bitter, and not particularly wanting the sole other cider stocked by my local student bar I decided to give Brothers Pear Cider a try. Pear Cider is the name frequently used to describe Perry, and as you would expect from the name is made from Pears, and as I understand it has being around for as long as standard apple cider has, however until quite recently it was relatively uncommon in pubs and supermarkets, this has changed recently with their now being several mainstream brands of Pear cider (although CAMRA will no doubt be threating my membership for calling it this, instead of the correct name Perry). Brothers Pear cider is brewed by a company named Brothers Drinks Co. , and from what I can tell although feel free to correct me they are still independently owned (as opposed to being owned by one of the various brewing giants). Started in 1992, they began selling at Glastonbury in 1995, where at least according to Wikipedia when asked to describe what Perry was they gave the description of ‘like cider but made with pears’ hence the eventual name. A pint of Brothers Pear Cider set me back £2.90, quite expensive relative to other ciders in the bar most costing at most about £2.45, and is a Keg cider. Alcohol content is 4.7% although the strength of bottled varieties may vary. The drink itself was a very pale yellow, with quite high carbonation but with no head. The smell is light and is similar to apple cider, ...

Lamy Blue Ink Cartridge 14/06/2011

Good enough

Lamy Blue Ink Cartridge Normally I stick with bottled fountain pen ink via a convertor, however in the middle of an exam getting out a bottle of ink and refilling from it really isn’t altogether practical, thus although more expensive at times I have need of ink cartridges. Lamy is a German manufacturer of fountain pens, and as is so often the case they have their own proprietary brand of ink cartridge instead of letting you use standard international cartridges. Lamy cartridges are a long format, and although branded, can be used in Parker pens as well (you can also use parker cartridges in Lamy fountain pens) although of course you will see various notes on the manufactures websites and literature for both companies stating that they always recommend using their own brand of ink in their pens for peak efficiency of such like, however as far as my understanding goes there is only minimal at best differences between the different manufactures of ink and I doubt that they will actually cause any damage to your out pen, hence why I use the two interchangeably. A pack of five Lamy cartridges will set you back between two and three pounds and can be purchased in the majority of high street stationary stores, (Ryman’s, W.H. Smiths etc.), and come on in a small cardboard box attached to a backing sheet of cardboard via a plastic covering. The box itself is silver, has made in Germany on the side and the colour at the top of the box marked out with a colour spot, and on the front with a coloured image of ...

Parker Quink 04/06/2011

The default ink

Parker Quink Fountain pen ink, when we get right down to it, its just water with a dye based colouring, so you may well ask why opt for Parker branded Quink. Well in truth one of the major reasons is that only a handful of stores still stock bottled ink, and typically they only stock a single brand, which in most cases is Parker Quink. I will not bore you with the history of Quink, suffice to say that it has being on sale since 1931, and is one of the most widely available fountain pen inks, it is available in a range of colours including Blue/Black, Blue, Black, Red, Green and a few others, Black and Blue are the easiest to get hold of being stocked in most chain stationary stores (Ryman’s, W.H Smiths etc.). A bottle of Quink will set you back between about £4 and £5 for a 57ml bottle, (a typical fountain pen takes up at the most about 1.5ml of ink, so 57ml is a lot of ink). It is retailed in a plastic blister pack with the bottle contained within, a golden black card complete with a holograph stating it to be a genuine parker product. Thankfully the packaging is extremely easy to open, without scissors, knifes, etc. as so many products seem to be these days. The ink itself is in a short glass bottle with a parker label on the front, the bottle is heavy and most important as far as an ink bottle is concerned, is extremely difficult to knock over. The bottle itself is secured with a plastic screw lid, and is filled up to about 2cm below the rim, allowing you to immerse the nib in the ...
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