Category: Mixed Reviews

Product review: Nip & Fab Dragons Blood cleansing pads

I got these cleansing pads free when I spent a certain amount on Nip & Fab products (can’t remember what the threshold was) and I thought, being as I love the Dragons Blood serum so much, I’d love these too (plus, free, what’s not to like?!)

Nip & Fab dragons blood cleansing pads

I’m a big fan of cleansing wipes. I’m don’t really wear foundation and only wear light make up for work, so I use cleansing wipes exclusively for cleaning my face (because I’m lazy!) I don’t buy expensive ones because I don’t see the need, and my skin is perfectly happy.

Back to these cleansing pads then. Honestly? I’m not a fan. Here’s why:

a) They’re too small. Way too small. They remind me of the nail varnish remover pads you can buy, which are fine for nails because they have a small surface area. My face does not have a small surface area (in fact it’s getting bigger with the amount I eat, but that’s another story!) They’re not ergonomically pleasing to hold or use. And obviously you need multiples to cleanse your whole face.

Nip & Fab dragons blood cleansing pads size

b) They feel foamy. I’m sure that’s part of their cleansing action but they feel a bit too soapy and sticky and don’t actually leave my skin feeling refreshed. I wouldn’t want to use them around my eyes because of the stickiness, I’d be afraid of it getting in my eye and causing irritation.

These pads retail at £9.99, so they’re certainly not cheap. I’m just glad they were free, because if I’d paid money for them I’d be pretty peeved.

I’ll probably finish the pot because I’m a cheapskate (and also because I have been known to run out of my usual wipes, I’m such a crap girl sometimes) but I wouldn’t rebuy or recommend them.

Do you have a cleansing routine? Or are you lazy like me?!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Product review – Olay 2 in 1 Firm & Lift

I bought this Olay 2 in 1 Firm & Lift on a whim, purely because it was half price at the counter in Superdrug! I actually bought it before Christmas, but it’s sat neglected in my stash because I’ve been having an ongoing love affair with Nip & Fab Dragon Blood serum (read my review here)

Olay 2 in 1 anti wrinkle firm & lift

When my N&F ran out, I decided to give this a try. And of course I was comparing it to my beloved tube of dragons blood. At first it didn’t measure up in any way.

First impressions were sullied by the colour (that’s how petty I am!), it looks like moisturiser.

Olay anti wrinkle cream

I generally avoid moisturiser as I find it feels too heavy on my skin. The Olay is a serum mixed with moisturiser, hence the appearance, and as such it feels a little more, well, moisturising than my N&F serum. It doesn’t feel as refreshing on my skin. It also felt heavier, and greasier. Not a reflection on the product, just my comparison to what I usually use.

After the first week I was going to stop using it. I developed some pinkish areas on my face that felt a bit bumpy to the touch and I was convinced it was this moisturiser. But in the interests of being a good blogger (and mainly because I’m a cheapskate who doesn’t like to waste things) I decided to persist.

At about 9 or 10 days in the pinkish skin disappeared. My complexion became smooth and soft and clear. And so I persisted further.

I can’t say I’ve noticed any reduction in wrinkles (although of course I would like to think there is!) or any increase in firmness, but my skin definitely looks good. I’ve been applying the product in the morning, before I do my make up. I haven’t tried applying a base over it, as I’m not using one at the moment, but I do think it might need a few minutes to settle in as it feels a little bit slippery when first applied.

Would I repurchase? Maybe, if it was on offer. I don’t absolutely love it (when compared to my Nip & Fab), but I do like it compared with other skin products I’ve tried. Perhaps I’ll alternate between this and N&F – maybe there’s room for both in my life!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Days out: Chester Zoo

On Saturday the husband and I drove up North to Chester Zoo!

I have mixed feelings about zoos, because of the captivity thing, but Chester Zoo is renowned for doing lots of conservation work with animals and looking after them really well, plus I’d heard that the animals have lots of space and anyway, I really wanted to see the giraffes!

It wasn’t cheap (£21 each and that was buying online in advance – it costs more on the gate) but it’s well worth the money. Parking is free and plentiful and there’s so much to see, it’s a full day out.

First stop was the elephants.

Followed by the one horned rhinos – these were fascinating. They look as close to prehistoric dinosaurs as you can imagine; their bodies look like armoured plates. The husband fancies himself as a bit of a Rhino Whisperer, because he beckoned it to come over from the other side of the paddock and it did!

We watched the giraffes for ages!

Just seeing how tall I am today!

Chester Zoo tall giraffe

This is an Okapi – part of the giraffe family. No-one even knew they existed until the beginning of the 1900s!

We saw penguins and flamingos.

A spectacled bear and zebra.

This is a scimitar horned Oryx. Now I admit to being rather underwhelmed with these, until I got home and read that they’ve been completely extinct in the wild since 1999. Isn’t that sad? Also they can survive up to 10 months without any water! Say what?!

Chester Zoo scimitar horned Oryx

Part of the Zoo has been designed to resemble tropical islands and over here live the tigers, gibbons and orangutans. Unfortunately I couldn’t get any pics; they were all feeling a bit shy. But there is a charming lazy river boat ride which runs through the islands.

Chester Zoo feels more like a wildlife park than a traditional zoo; it’s very open and green, with lots of pretty flowers.

The animals, on the main, have lots of space and there isn’t the feeling of being overly caged in. The lions had a big area with lots of trees and rocks and there were lots of swinging ropes and things to climb on in the monkey houses. There was plenty of information about the animals, including their names and history, birth place, relationship to each other, which is nice.

Apparently there are over 20,000 animals! That’s a lot of meals to prepare!

I’d definitely recommend a visit if you ever get the opportunity, but be sure to wear comfy shoes, there’s a lot of walking involved to do it justice.

Have you ever been to Chester Zoo? Or any other UK zoos? I’d love to go to Edinburgh and see the pandas…

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

 

Review: Nip+Fab Dragons Blood Fix Serum

I don’t actually have a skincare routine as such. OK, at all. I’ve always been very lucky with my skin in spite of not regularly moisturising or even (gasp) taking my make up off, slovenly wench that I am. I know that will all come back to bite me on the ass and one day I’ll wake up and my face will have fallen off onto my pillow or something equally horrid, but I’ll just have to deal with it if/when it happens.

One thing I do use regularly is Nip+Fab Dragons Blood Fix Serum.

Nip & Fab Dragons Blood Fix serum

I first bought this in desperation about 18 months ago, after an incident with a facial brush left me with the complexion of a loofah (my own fault, I think I used the wrong attachment). I needed something to pump hydration into my ravaged skin and this was on special offer. Plus I was intrigued by the dragon’s blood. It’s that simple! No research, no recommendation and no previous knowledge of the brand.

It was a great shot in the dark. I love this stuff. It’s fresh and light and soaks in really quickly, leaving no residue or shininess. It feels like my skin is having a really big drink of water.

The best thing, for me, about this product is that it’s a serum and not a moisturiser. I don’t like moisturisers. I find them too greasy and heavy, leaving my skin feeling icky and smothered. I’d never tried a skin serum before but I was hooked from the first use. My skin feels much better for using this product than anything else I’ve ever tried (big claims, I know!)

The pump dispenser is great to use; fluid and sturdy. I use a pump and a bit each morning and slather it on. My skin drinks it in and feels immediately satiated. It absorbs immediately so I can apply foundation or BB cream straight away (although I’m not currently using either on a daily basis). My skin looks plump and glowing afterwards.

Nip+Fab serum

A little really does go a long way so a bottle lasts a long time. I find it excellent value for money in that respect, plus it’s quite often on special offer which makes it even better!

Have you tried any of the Nip+Fab range?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Review: Thriller Live at the Lyric Theatre

Last weekend I went on a trip away with my Mom and Sister. On Saturday afternoon we had tickets to see Thriller Live.

I was going along for the trip and the company, not particularly for the show, and I had no idea what to expect. I love Michael Jackson’s early music but, because of the show title, I expected it to be just around the Thriller album.

The Lyric theatre is fairly compact and we were just 13 rows back so had a great view of the stage. The theatre is showing signs of age, but still has a faded glamour that gives it an element of charm rather than neglect.

The show was brilliant. Rather than having a storyline interspersed with songs (as many musicals do), it was very much based around the music with only a small amount of connecting dialogue. The cast consisted of about 20 people – 4 main singers, a Michael Jackson who appeared intermittently (and was brilliant) and the rest were dancers. The female main singer had an amazing voice which was really showcased by the songs and each and every performer did a fantastic job.

The costumes were glitzy, the sound levels enveloping and the choreography really impressive.

(pics from the website)

Musically the show started at the beginning of Michael Jackson’s career with some Jackson 5 material, through Off the Wall, into Thriller and then Bad. The best (in my opinion) Michael Jackson years.

I find that musical theatre can sometimes be a bit cheesy, but this was just a rip roaringly fun singalong experience that I’d recommend to anyone who likes the early Jacko music.

Anyone seen it?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

5 things to consider when leaving a Tripadvisor review

I rely heavily on reviews when it comes to booking hotels, restaurants, or even visiting attractions so I think it’s important for me to contribute honestly to review sites as a “thank you”; putting something back in for other travellers. Plus good reviews are just as important as bad – people are often vocal when they have something to criticise or complain about, but credit where credit’s due is important for both the business and the customer.

I had an email from TripAdvisor telling me that I finished 2015 in the top 1% off Birmingham reviewers, with 56,093 readers (go me!) so I must be doing something right!

TripAdvisor top 1%

Here are my top 5 tips for leaving a review.

1) Use correct spelling and grammar. If you can’t articulate yourself well, who’s going to take your opinion seriously? (clue, not me)

2) Only review things that are within control of the establishment. Marking a hotel down because it rained for your whole trip is just dumb. They can’t control the weather!

3) Be reasonable about expectation vs. reality. Going to a restaurant in Spain and then complaining they don’t serve chips shows a lack of culture and brains.

4) Be honest but tactful. Not happy? Explain what the problem was with facts, not just by saying “everything was shit”. If the food was cold or your order was wrong then say so, without getting personally rude about the chef or waiting staff.

5) Be sensible. Visiting castle ruins and complaining there isn’t a lot there is just a waste of your time typing and a visitor’s time reading.

Are you a review writer or reader? Let me know any daft ones you’ve seen!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Review: Dirty Cow Burger Company

I wasn’t aware of the Dirty Cow Burger Company until I spotted a deal  on LivingSocial offering two burgers and fries for a tenner (value up to £22.98). I have to say the location wasn’t particularly appealing  (O Bar on Broad Street, which, for anyone not local, is the bar crawl street that every city has where people get horribly drunk and girls don’t wear many clothes and the police invariably have to patrol the place at 2am every Friday and Saturday). Having said that, we figured that a Saturday or Sunday afternoon would be a fine time to redeem it as most of the usual clientele would be sleeping off a hangover and we could be in and out before the marauding boozers arrived.

Unfortunately, with Christmas, we didn’t make it into town at the weekend and so we were faced with a voucher about to expire and a choice of week nights to enjoy it.

Which is how we ended up on Broad Street on a Thursday night in January.

In fairness, the bar was actually fine. It was pretty empty (by that I mean about 5 other people were in there). It was bloody freezing (not taking your coat off freezing) and the music wasn’t to our taste, but the barman was very helpful and friendly and no-one was stumbling around or being sick from drinking too many shots, which had been our main concern.

I’m painting a great picture, no?

And so to the food, which is what this post is really about. It was good. Very good! The burger menu was extensive with lots of different flavours and combinations, and fries can come as standard or be added to with cheese, chill, bacon or pulled pork.

We went for a Nacho Libre (me) and a Big Brummie (the husband).

The Nacho Libre spoke to me as soon as I saw it – a 6oz burger topped with chilli, nacho cheese, guacamole, sour cream and – wait for it – nachos.

Dirty Cow Burger Company Nacho Libre burger

This genius addition gave the burger crunch and bite, and was also useful for scooping up all the excess chill that oozed over the sides. There was so much topping on the burger that I had to do a KFJ (knife and fork job) – the bun literally couldn’t hold it all together and, unbelievably, my mouth wasn’t big enough to fit it all in! My only slight compliant is that it wasn’t quite hot enough, but that did mean I didn’t have to wait for anything to cool down and could wolf it all immediately.

The Big Brummy is a beast of a burger – three 6oz patties with bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles and brummy sauce.

Dirty Cow Burger Company Big Brummy burger

Again there was no way this could be eaten by hand and mouth alone and cutlery had to be implemented. But the husband was very very complimentary (and his burger judgement is sound  as they’re one of his favourite menu choices and so he has plenty of  experience).

We went for one regular fries and one topped with cheese. The fries were just perfect. Golden, crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and salty. Yum.

Would we go there again? Doubtful. It wasn’t enough of a nice place to tempt us back. But do we regret going? Not at all. We went home with full tums and happy heads. And for 5 quid each you can’t ask much more.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Dynamo at the Barclaycard Arena

On Friday night I went to see Dynamo. I’d booked the tickets in October last year, so had been waiting a long time! As it got closer I started to worry a little about how close up magic would work in a big arena environment, but my concerns were unfounded. It was brilliant.

Dynamo

I’ve always thought that Dynamo comes across as a really sweet and likable person, with quite a humble attitude and a strong family focus. Seeing him live reinforced that; he’s a genuinely nice bloke. The show touched on his background, and his struggles as a kid being picked on in his local area. He spoke about his Grandma and Grandpa with such respect and love, and they’re obviously a massive part of who he is today. There was even video footage of his Gran doing a card trick, which was great!

He indulged in some banter with the audience and made some funny quips and jokes which weren’t expected – I’d say he’s had some coaching prior to the tour as his shyness definitely wasn’t present (and with an audience of 5000 people that’s a good thing!)

There was a lot of audience participation and random selection of people which I suppose is there to prove that the people who are taking part on stage aren’t planted and “in on it”. There was no trick that I could say “I know how he did that” and most of them were so brain bafflingly complex so I couldn’t even begin to think how they’d been designed and orchestrated. It’s easy to suggest that camera trickery and clever editing are at play when you watch magicians on TV, but in a live environment there’s nowhere to hide. Leading me to declare, during the interval, that “magic must be real” (I’ve long suspected this, to be honest, regardless of the guffaws I’m met with whenever I share that opinion!)

I won’t talk about any of the tricks, as Dynamo made that request at the end of the show, but suffice to say I would highly recommend getting tickets to what’s left of the tour (if there are any still available) and prepare to be left scratching your head and wondering what on earth you just witnessed with your own eyes!

Food review – Dark Horse, Moseley

I’ve been going to the Dark Horse in one form or another for over 10 years. It was where the husband and I had our first official date (when it was The Cross) and I’ve had many a boozy Sunday lunch with friends, mid week burgers and £1 sambucas over the years.

Late last year, or early this, The Cross was bought by the owner of the Prince of Wales (also in Moseley – read my review here) and everyone got super excited because Keith (the owner of both establishments) has great flair for being a publican. The Prince is testament to his vision.

The Cross underwent a quick makeover to become a pop up restaurant called Mo-Dough for a couple of months (the name being a play on Moseley and pizza base), before turning into it’s current incarnation of the Dark Horse.

The focus of the Dark Horse is very much on cooking well. No sub standard pub food here. They’ve invested heavily in a wood fired pizza oven and a meat smoker to make sure things are done properly. Ingredients are all fresh and locally sourced. The place has a quirky, cosy homely feel with mismatched sofas, exposed brickwork walls and decorations such as a saxophone and a road lamp on the walls, and the outside is lit with hundreds of fairy lights sparkling and inviting you in.

The Dark Horse, Moseley

Drinks wise there is a focus on craft beers and an increasing wine collection alongside draught and bottled lagers, traditional wines and spirits.

We went out for food and drinks this week and there was no question of where we were headed. Parked in the front window with the twinkly lights and a view of our beloved Moseley, we set about choosing from the menu.

Dark Horse Christmas tree

Drinks at the Dark Horse Moseley

It was a no brainer for me as soon as I saw the low & slow smoked beef brisket. Served with chipotle sauce, pickles and skin on chips, it’s the most tender and tasty brisket I’ve ever had.

Dark Horse brisket

Dark Horse skin on chips

It’s was so squishy that if cows were actually made that way, they wouldn’t be able to stand up. The sauce was sweet and smoky and the pickles sharp and crunchy. The portion size was huge, with loads of chips, and piles of meat. Super impressed.

Husband went (as he so often does) for a burger – the Big Kahuna. With pineapple and candied bacon, it wouldn’t be to my taste but he was very excited and proclaimed that excitement to be justified.

Dark Horse Kahuna burger

A big well stacked burger with plenty of toppings, all of which could be tasted individually. The pattie was, he said, juicy and succulent.

With small plates such as mac & cheese topped with pulled pork (hello!), and God’s own fries (skin on chips smothered in chilli, pulled pork, burnt ends, jalapenos, sour cream, guacamole and cheese sauce) there’s a smorgasbord (I love that word!) of flavours to experience, as well as Sunday lunch and desserts like warm chocolate brownie and baked cheesecake.

The Dark Horse knows meat, and knows what to do with it.

Restaurant review – Saba Birmingham

Saba is a Persian restaurant just outside Moseley. I’ve driven past it many times and not really paid much attention. Then I saw it listed on a voucher website and the offer was really good, so I checked out the menu and TripAdvisor reviews (which are excellent) and purchased the deal.

As is often the case with vouchers, we end up leaving them until they’re about to expire and then toy with whether or not we can be bothered to go. Never was that more true than on Sunday evening, on a rainy windy night when the temptation to stay in and decorate the Christmas tree was really strong!

But I’m so glad we did. Because the food was outstanding.

The restaurant seats maybe 30-40 people. It’s nothing fancy; nice but not a posh night out, if that’s what you’re looking for. It’s unlicenced, and doesn’t offer a BYOB policy either.

Saba persian restaurant interior

There were no other diners when we arrived and the waiter was very attentive; happily talking us through the menu and making suggestions based on flavours and tastes we like.

Oh, and the menu really doesn’t do the food justice. At all.

To start, the husband ordered Naan Panir Sabzi, which included feta cheese and walnuts. The colours were vibrant and fresh, the food tasty.

Saba persian restaurant feta and walnut salad

I ordered Kashk-e Bademjan which is mashed aubergine – not very exciting, right? Wrong! It was incredibly tasty with lots of flavours and one of the biggest naan breads I’ve ever seen.

Saba persian restaurant mashed aubergine

Saba persian restaurant naan bread

For main course husband ordered a skewer with rice and salad – I can’t remember if he went for chicken and added a lamb one, or the other way round.

Saba persian restaurant skewer grill chicked and lamb

Either way, it was delicious (I had to try it, purely for research purposes, obvs). The meat was tender and juicy and succulent.

I had lamb shank with rice.

Saba persian restaurant lamb shank and fragrant rice

The lamb was smothered in a thick succulent sauce and was some of the most tender lamb I’ve ever had; it quite literally fell off the bone.

To finish we were served baklava and Persian tea.

Saba persian restaurant tea and baklava

The baklava was sweet and flaky with a nutty honey taste. The tea was served in a beautiful ornate pot and poured into tiny glass mugs.

Saba restaurant persian tea

Saba persian restaurant tea

It was clear and fragrant with both sweet and spicy flavours. I tried to guess some of the ingredients- the waiter wasn’t keen to share all of them as it’s a secret apparently – but he did tell me that cardamom and rose are two of the flavours.

We had a fabulous evening and will definitely return in the future without a deal voucher. In fact I’m already wondering what to have next! The menu also includes Afghan options, which definitely pique my interest.

Have you eaten Persian or Afghan food?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x