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Reviews Written by
Emile Zola reader "Gervaise" (Hants, UK)
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

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LEGO DUPLO Town 10577: Big Royal Castle
LEGO DUPLO Town 10577: Big Royal Castle
Price: £39.71

5.0 out of 5 stars Great for mediaeval adventures - and for "quiet time" too!, 3 Sept. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Playing with Duplo and making ‘beautiful pictures’ with crayons and paints is a sanity saver in our house. It’s an activity for the half-hour ‘quiet time’ that our little ones can do alone, without the constant racket of “eeyow” of racing cars and noisy electronic toys. Our two and five-year olds love Duplo and this Big Royal Castle has been a huge hit with them. It doesn’t come with a base, but to be honest, it doesn’t really need one because Duplo – being chunky – doesn’t really wobble on carpets. Besides, it’s hardly in one place long enough before little hands decide to de-construct or move things around!

The illustrations on the box suggest different construction scenarios i.e. a castle, a jousting pavilion complete with the King, ‘his three friends’, a horse and a lance, etc. Fun accessories include a wheeled flat-bed - from where the cannon can be ‘fired’ - a treasure chest, swords, an axe, a pot for your boiling oil and flagpoles complete with pennants. What more could a Duplo King possibly need?

The set was quite easy for our five year old to build – with a little help - and kept him happily entertained for ages with his own little mediaeval adventures. Our two year old is not quite up to building the bricks, but loved playing with them all the same – even if he did think the pot for boiling oil was ‘horsey’s dinner’.
I thoroughly recommend this set of Lego/Duplo and especially if you are trying to train the little ones in the art of ‘quiet time”.


Summer House with Swimming Pool
Summer House with Swimming Pool
by Herman Koch
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.39

5.0 out of 5 stars I didn't want this book to end., 3 Sept. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I had read Koch’s previous book, ‘The Dinner” and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I was hoping that Summer House with Swimming Pool would be as good. It was far more gripping! Brutal decisions and violent actions are repeated in this tale, but that’s where the similarity ends. The personality of the chief protagonist – Dutch GP, Marc Schlosser – is in a class of its own. Koch has created a very complex and chameleon-like character in Schlosser. Outwardly charming, caring and revered by his select group of mostly wealthy patients, Schlosser is inwardly twisted and dangerously bored. He reasons that his medical training has given him a, ”distaste for the human body”. Not the kind of GP you’d want examining you, for sure. The action really begins when one of Schlosser’s patients - a well-known actor - invites him and his family to join a gathering at a summer lease on the coast. What follows is a series of seemingly small events that culminate in a crime - and ultimately, a cold-blooded decision. It is not a predictable tale or a conventional ending.

I have never read a book before where such an unfathomable character is so well portrayed. At first I was bemused, then mesmerised, another time I was horrified, and ultimately, confounded and at a total loss to understand him. I would love to ask Koch where he found his inspiration for this personality. Schlosser is seemingly normal but who, in reality, you wouldn’t’ t want to be within a mile of. I love the way Koch writes; his style is cleverly simple and he is a master storyteller.

This book is a real page-turner. I couldn’t wait to find out what happens next and, as is the case with all good books, I didn’t want it to end.


Becky Mantin Nappy Grab Bag All-in-One Disposable Changing Bag--Size 2, Pack of 10
Becky Mantin Nappy Grab Bag All-in-One Disposable Changing Bag--Size 2, Pack of 10
Price: £19.90

4.0 out of 5 stars Ideal for special events and occasional use., 1 Sept. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These nappy packs are an excellent product for those occasions when carting all the usual paraphernalia for a nappy change isn’t practical. We were at a wedding reception recently and - although we were staying at the hotel - it was good not to have to traipse back to our room to change the baby’s nappy. Had we been staying off-site, or out for the day, we would have taken three nappies to be on the safe side - so cost, and the added bulk, would have been a consideration.

Each of the ten packs contains one eco nappy, 4 individual organic baby wipes and a sachet of calendula nappy cream. The pack wrapper unfolds to form a useful changing surface and has a built-in sack to dispose of the used nappy. Like most tear-off sachets, I found the wipes and cream a little awkward to open – not ideal when you have a squirming, bawling baby to pacify. The cream is lovely – calendula is brilliant for the treatment and prevention of a variety of skin conditions – and the nappy was good quality. The wipes were ideal for a size 2 bottom, but whether they would be enough for bigger botties - after ‘the concentrating look’- I’m not sure. Each of the nappy packs has a sell-by date sticker – presumably because, being organic, some of the ingredients in the cream or wipes may deteriorate.

I don’t think that these packs were intended for regular use – they would be hideously expensive – but for certain occasions/events, they are a great idea. They would make a lovely gift for new parents.


#DoYourFitness 2,5cm till 10cm width Premium Kinesiology Tape (quantity 1x, 3x, 6x and 12x), High-Quality tape, 100% woven cotton, waterproof, elastic, extra sticky and TOP-Stretching-Features. Top rated for sports, physiotherapy, medicine and everyday life. TÜV-certified, premium brand quality! Many colours and dimensions. Roll length 16,4 ft. (5m)
#DoYourFitness 2,5cm till 10cm width Premium Kinesiology Tape (quantity 1x, 3x, 6x and 12x), High-Quality tape, 100% woven cotton, waterproof, elastic, extra sticky and TOP-Stretching-Features. Top rated for sports, physiotherapy, medicine and everyday life. TÜV-certified, premium brand quality! Many colours and dimensions. Roll length 16,4 ft. (5m)
Offered by #DoYourSports GmbH
Price: £4.99 - £59.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Miracle tape for pain., 1 Sept. 2015
This tape was sent to me free of charge in return for an honest and unbiased review.

I had never heard of Kinesiology Tape and was surprised to learn that apart from sport injuries, it has other uses too. I suffer periodic bouts of plantar fasciitis as a result of having flat feet and overpronation. I wear special innersoles when I feel the pain recurring, but I am rarely free of a dull ache in the outer long bone of my foot. After reading the reviews about this tape I thought I would try it but to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much.

The tape unrolls easily and has a peel-off paper backing with graduation marks to make a straight cut with scissors. I’ve never before felt anything like this tape; it is very thin, very stretchy, and very strong. It is also waterproof. I applied it around my foot at the section where the ache is, and where there would be an arch if my feet were not flat. The relief was instantaneous! I can’t describe how good it felt. The tape gave me confidence to weight bear on the affected foot because subconsciously, I step quite lightly on it for fear of the pain recurring. It gives support without restricting movement of my foot.

The first time I used it, I thought I had to stretch the tape tightly and after a short while, my foot began to throb. I reapplied the tape – it still had enough adhesive left – applying a gentle stretch, and it held in place perfectly. I am thrilled with this product and the relief it brings from pain and I can’t recommend it highly enough.


#DoYourYoga Carrying strap »Yuki« / Carrying belt for all Yoga-, Pilates and EXTRA THICK Fitness mats, useful and easy to handle, Navyblau
#DoYourYoga Carrying strap »Yuki« / Carrying belt for all Yoga-, Pilates and EXTRA THICK Fitness mats, useful and easy to handle, Navyblau
Offered by #DoYourSports GmbH
Price: £12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Top quality carrying strap that's quick and easy to use., 31 Aug. 2015
This carrying strap for a yoga/exercise mat was sent to me free of charge in return for an honest and unbiased review.

If you prefer to use a carrying strap for your yoga or fitness mat rather than a bag, you will be very pleased with this. It is made of 100% cotton and has two D rings attached to each end. The thread used in stitching is strong, perfectly straight and anchors the rings in a strong double-fold placket. There is not a loose thread in sight and it has an expensive and classy look about it.

It is quick and simple to loop the strap through the D rings and attach to each end of the mat; the length is also long enough to loop around a thick exercise mat and is easily adjusted to suit.

This carrying strap is quick and convenient for those who do not want to use a bag and it comes in a choice of 9 lovely colours – you could coordinate one with your mat. Personally, although I like the carrying strap, I never travel light, so I prefer the storage room in my Do Your Yoga bag. The quality of this company’s yoga bags, like the straps, is first rate - and you would be hard-pressed to choose from the lovely patterns and designs.
Highly recommended.
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PRO PLAN Cat ADULT 7+ with LONGEVIS Rich in Chicken, 3 kg
PRO PLAN Cat ADULT 7+ with LONGEVIS Rich in Chicken, 3 kg
Price: £18.49

3.0 out of 5 stars Probably a good formula for older cats but my three wouldn't eat it., 31 Aug. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
For some time I have been thinking that the oldest two my three cats – 11 year- old brothers – should be on a diet appropriate for their advancing years. However, since we had Lady Muck Maine Coon foisted upon us a couple of years ago, they have preferred her young adult variety of dried food. It’s a veterinary science diet containing 40% chicken meat meal and the kibble is large and round. It has obviously done them no harm, because they pass their annual Vet physicals with flying colours. Still, I was hoping that this Purina Longevis - formulated to promote a longer life - would be a hit with my little chums and stave off the dreaded kidney diseases that cats are prone to.

Most cats are notoriously contrary creatures, especially when it comes to food. My three are no different. When a new food is introduced, they often appear to love it and I come over all excited at the thought of adding variety to their diet. However, within a day or so, the novelty has worn off and they would rather starve than eat the new stuff. I feed them dried food during the day and wet food in the evening. I followed the manufacturers instructions and for two weeks mixed the Purina with their usual fare. I couldn’t help but laugh at the ingenuity of all three as they managed to sift out their favourite food from the mix - leaving the Purina sitting forlornly in the bowls. Hardly any Purina had been eaten. I gave up – as they knew I would – and left the Purina out for the badgers and foxes.

It is hard to give a rating to a food that cats – of all creatures – do not like. The Purina formula is probably good for older cats – even though the protein content is almost half the level of my cats’ food. However, I will never know if it could have prolonged their lives because all three hated it. There’s a moral there, somewhere.


Foldable Travel Luggage Duffle Bag Lightweight for Sports, Gym, Vacation and Travel Duffel Bags
Foldable Travel Luggage Duffle Bag Lightweight for Sports, Gym, Vacation and Travel Duffel Bags
Offered by camryscalestore
Price: £35.00

5.0 out of 5 stars A very handy and quality made bag., 30 Aug. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This duffel bag was sent to me free of charge in return for an honest and unbiased review.

This is the type of bag that you don’t realise just how useful it is until you have one. It measures just 20x14.5cm when folded so takes up little room in a handbag or casual jacket. When unzipped and shaken out to its full size, it expands to a generous 46x27x27cm. The seams are neat and finished securely to withhold a heavy weight and there are no lose threads or ragged edges to be seen. The D rings at each end of the bag are robust and held in well-stitched plackets, so that - once the adjustable shoulder strap is attached - a fair amount of weight can be carried without fear of the seams ripping. There are two zips - one running the length of the bag, and the other as part of a small purse/pouch. This is useful for storing a purse/wallet/keys/gym pass, etc. The zips run smoothly and – again - there are no loose threads to snag between the teeth. The smaller zippered compartment is used to store the bag when it is not in use. The pouch will obviously be neater and flatter if the fabric is folded before placing it into the small pocket section, but, if you are the impatient type, you can just stuff it in and it will still close easily.

I swim twice a week at my local sports centre and the lockers are not particularly generous. By the time I have stored my footwear and jacket, and semi-rigid sports bag in the locker, it’s a struggle to close the door. With this bag I can store a bath sheet, swimsuit, shampoo, hand towel and my clothes with much more ease - and space - than using a regular hold all. It is also much lighter to carry!
When not used for swimming, I carry this bag inside my handbag and have used it after buying food at a certain supermarket that charges (rightly so) for carrier bags. As I said at the beginning of my review, I didn’t realise just how handy this bag is. I can see it being invaluable for camping; carting kids toys/crayons/teddies, etc. for a weekend away.

It really is a very useful, quality bag and I have no hesitation recommending it.
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Maped 836111 Color Peps Smoothy Crayons (Pack of 6)
Maped 836111 Color Peps Smoothy Crayons (Pack of 6)
Price: £3.73

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We've never seen such cracking crayons!, 29 Aug. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These gel crayons are a huge hit with our five year-old and quite unlike any others that we’ve seen before. They come in a robust little plastic box with a snap fastening and sit securely in their own grooves. The crayons are lovely and chunky for little hands to hold - and have a ribbed section near the top for a better grip. The tops are nice and wide to prevent any chipping of the wax tip come tidy-up time.

The colours are very bright and eye-catching and glide easily over colouring books and paper. Our youngster liked twisting the barrel of the crayons to see their full length before retracting them to do “beautiful colouring”.
The tips of the crayons are quite thick, so not ideal for little ones who try “not going over the lines”. However, if the colour is placed in the middle of a drawing and a wet paintbrush is applied, the result is a lovely watercolour wash.

These are smashing crayons - and we will be buying the larger pack to have a bigger selection of colours. They are excellent value, and being water-soluble has to be a bonus when little ones get more colours over themselves than the paper. Highly recommended.


SKG Premium Handheld Facial Steamer - USB Rechargeable Face Steamer - Portable Facial Steamer - Nano Face Steamer - Mini Face Steamer - Facial Steamer Beauty - Face Mist Sprayer - Cool Spray for Face - Skin Renewal Face Humidifier - Sliding Facial Mist Spray - Facial Steamer with Timer - Water Sprayer for Face - Cool Mist Spray - Face Humidifier Beauty Instrument - Face Steaming Device (Golden, 1-Minute Timer, 1-Month Free Trial, 2-Year Warranty, Gift Set)
SKG Premium Handheld Facial Steamer - USB Rechargeable Face Steamer - Portable Facial Steamer - Nano Face Steamer - Mini Face Steamer - Facial Steamer Beauty - Face Mist Sprayer - Cool Spray for Face - Skin Renewal Face Humidifier - Sliding Facial Mist Spray - Facial Steamer with Timer - Water Sprayer for Face - Cool Mist Spray - Face Humidifier Beauty Instrument - Face Steaming Device (Golden, 1-Minute Timer, 1-Month Free Trial, 2-Year Warranty, Gift Set)
Offered by SKG HOME & BEAUTY ELECTRONICS
Price: £35.77

5.0 out of 5 stars An incredibly fine and cooling mist., 24 Aug. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This facial mister was sent to me free of charge in return for an honest and unbiased review.
This electronic facial mister is the first device of this type that I have ever seen. A few years ago I bought a facial mist spray as part of a range of well-known skin care products, but that came in a plastic bottle and had to be pumped in order to activate. It cooled my face, but the spray was quite heavy and wet and I looked as though I had just been sprayed – which, of course, I had.

The Nano face mister comes in a very plush and attractive package. The box has a silky lining and the spray unit, together with the USB charger and water pipette/dropper, sit neatly in their own little sections. The unit charged quickly, and filling it with water using the pipette couldn’t have been easier. The spray automatically activates when the front cover is slid downwards; to stop it, you just slide the cover upwards, back into place. This action is effortless; the panel glides smoothly and silently, so it’s very discrete to use. The mist will continue for up to 60 seconds before stopping automatically, though I found that a 20 second application was long enough to cool my face completely. The battery life is also good. I have used the mister at least a week between charges and it has still performed very well.

I really rate this clever little gadget and I have used it most days since I’ve had it. It was invaluable when I attended a wedding recently and the weather was very hot; my friends were queuing up for a ‘cool-down’ from my mister. I also used it on my Mother’s face when she was hot and uncomfortable in a hospital waiting room. Another good use for this facial mister is ‘setting’ makeup. I have a bottle of facial ‘finishing spray’ from one of the big and trendy cosmetic houses. It costs £15 and although very good, this SKG facial mister delivers a much finer spray, uses water, and – hopefully - will last for some time.
Finally, the photo on the product page (and mine!) does not do this facial mist sufficient justice. It is slim-line and a classy-looking item and would fit easily into a small clutch bag.
Highly recommended.
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Hangerworld Wooden Premium Belt Hanger, Natural
Hangerworld Wooden Premium Belt Hanger, Natural
Offered by Hangerworld
Price: £7.88

5.0 out of 5 stars 22 scarves - and counting!, 23 Aug. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I wish I had seen this belt hanger earlier! I have been trying to find a solution to storing my scarves for some time – the collection has been growing over the years and it’s not been practical to take up a deep drawer to store them. Previously, I had tried sticking a big towel ring to the back of my wardrobe door, but this not only creased the scarves – and the clothes they pushed against – but the weight of them caused the heavy-duty adhesive hook to fall off.

This belt hanger measures almost 40cm in length and has 6 prongs/hooks on either side. The wood is of smooth maple - with a nice satin sheen varnish - and the length fits inside my wardrobe perfectly. What I like best about this belt hanger, and what differs from the one we already have, is that the twelve hooks are closed and rounded, so there are no sharp edges to snag my scarves. Also - and this is a real bonus - finer scarves can be threaded in the spaces between the hooks, which means extra hanging space. The enclosed photo shows 22 scarves hanging, with room to spare at the back.

I am thrilled to bits with this hanger, which - by the way - would be excellent for belts, necklaces etc. I am beginning to think I have a thing about scarves now, because I’ve just realised that another hanger would be ideal for my larger, autumn/winter pashmina-type ones. Highly recommended.
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