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Olympus CSS-S110LS Leather Hand Strap - Black
Olympus CSS-S110LS Leather Hand Strap - Black
Offered by elevenfirst
Price: £29.63

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice quality but not adjustable., 5 July 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
There's no denying the quality of this strap, which is made from a very good leather with the softest backing imaginable that is extremely comfortable against the wrist. However it is not without shortcomings. Because the strap attaches in the same manner as the neck strap - i.e. a section of webbing that you have to thread first through the d-ring on the camera, then through a sliding clip and buckle - rather than the more standard cord-type wrist strap which simply loops back through itself and pulls tight - you end up with the strap being quite a distance from the body of the camera and it's thus not that comfortable or easy to simultaneously have your hand through the loop and hold the body of the camera for extra security. The strap is pretty large and there is no mechanism to shorten it, so if you have small female hands it might feel a bit too big. The upside of the webbing and buckle system and thicker leather strap is that it is extremely secure and much more suitable for bearing the weight of one of the metal bodied PENs (like the E-P5) than the usual cord type straps. Good quality packaging and a nice alternative if you don't like the weight of a camera around your neck.


Eylure Naturalite Strip Lashes No. 020 (Natural Volume)
Eylure Naturalite Strip Lashes No. 020 (Natural Volume)
Price: £4.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Nice natural look, application takes practice., 4 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
One of my favourite childhood memories (or should that be traumas!) is my little brother putting on my mum's false eyelashes, hiding in the laundry bin, then jumping out like a jack-in-the-box when I went in to the bathroom to brush my teeth. Maybe that nightmarish incident is the reason I've not tried false eyelashes till now, but when I saw these on Vine I finally decided to take the plunge.

The instructions on the back of the box are tiny black and white pictures and are very hard to see (I noticed online that some of the boxes had larger diagrams in colour but have no idea which type of instruction/packaging is the more up to date). I thus had to use the Eylure website and Youtube to get some hints and tips on application.

These number 20s are a very natural looking lash that slightly enhance volume. They are handily labelled left and right (not all brands do this), didn't need trimming in my case, and the glue was easy to apply, although I would have liked it if the packaging had been designed so you could stand the glue tube up whilst in use. There's a sort of clamp like tool supplied to hold and position the lashes, which I found a bit fiddly, though probably still easier than fingers or tweezers. The inner part of the lash seemed easier to position than the outer and it took a bit of faffing to get the falsies close enough to my natural lash line not to scream 'fake!' The glue was non irritating and the lashes so featherlight I couldn't really tell I had them on once properly in place. Unfortunately, like some of the other reviewers I found the outer edge of the lashes came away pretty quickly though so don't know how confident I would feel wearing them out and about.

Overall I think these have a great natural look for someone who wants a beauty boost but absolutely does not want to look like an extra from Towie. However they are quite fiddly to apply and the instructions are hard to read, with no advice on care, use of mascara with these etc I recommend you get yourself to Youtube for a turorial if you are a false lash virgin like me. I dithered between 3 and 4 stars and may upgrade my rating if practice helps me perfect the application.


Carmex Cherry Tube and Pot - (Pack of 2)
Carmex Cherry Tube and Pot - (Pack of 2)
Price: £5.00

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kiss Me Quick!, 20 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Carmex lip balms have been around since the 1930s and are somewhat of a cult brand, often appearing in beauty editors lists of recommendations. I will be honest and say that I wasn't expecting much from this budget range having used some excellent products like Molton Brown's Wonderlips and Chanel's own balm in a stick, but was really quite pleasantly surprised by this twin pack. Although the products contain petroleum (which I have sometimes found gives only the most fleeting sense of moisturisation before disappearing, leaving the lips drier than ever) the Carmex formula felt very comforting on the lips and left them plump and soft even when the balm had had quite a time to sink in. There's a lovely cherry vanilla scent combined with a menthol or slightly camphorous note, a bit like cough sweets, but don't be put off by that because your whole mouth feels fresh and slightly minty and tingly after using - I think this would easily pass the kiss test. There's also some lanolin in the products which I'm not a huge fan of in skincare - however I think just for lips its absolutely fine. I marginally preferred the texture of the product in the tube to that in the tin. Despite being slightly thinner so you can squeeze it, it actually felt richer on the lips, and obviously not getting balmy fingers is a bit of an advantage. Oh, and a final bonus is the presence of SPF 15.

Onto the packaging now which is somewhat iconic. The yellow background with bright red cherry logo is seriously cute and the diminutive size of both tube and tin means these lip balms could live in a pocket or bag indefinitely. I think they'd also be brilliant for a kids school satchel, and are cool enough to be covetable in girlie party bags. If I was reviewing these in autumn I might suggest you stockpile a few for home-made crackers. I'm not, and it's summer so for now they'll have to be limited to swimming or gym bags and your travel essentials - they certainly won't make any dent in your baggage allowance.

In summary, very effective product. Compact and bijoux packaging. Compact and bijoux price!


Ultrasport Adjustable Punching Stand with Speed Ball
Ultrasport Adjustable Punching Stand with Speed Ball

5.0 out of 5 stars Release your inner Rocky., 17 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'd previously tested one of Ultrasports heavy duty punchbags and been impressed by the quality so it came as little surprise that Adjustable Stand and Speedball were equally well made.

Initial assembly is a simple matter. Fill the plastic base with either water or sand then attach the stand using the allen key provided. Quick to put up and equally quick to take down after a workout if saving space is a priority. When it's been used for a while the bolts do tend to slacken off and need tightening but its a matter of seconds to adjust and minor quibble.

A pair of sparring mits is a must as the ball can be quite unforgiving to the hands without protection but, once you have them on, you can work up a decent rhythm and a bit of a sweat. I really enjoyed using it. It's requires a bit more skill and movement than the heavy duty bag but is great for improving flexibility and reflexes as well as being a superb stress release. It's funny when people see it for the first time. Even the most mild mannered can't resist giving it a pop.


Falcon 8cm White Enamel Mug
Falcon 8cm White Enamel Mug
Offered by One Click Wonder
Price: £4.26

4.0 out of 5 stars Just add marshmallows!, 9 Jun. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I ordered two mugs and one arrived quite chipped - however the Falcon website assures you that these are still safe to drink from, being steel underneath the enamel, so no qualms about keeping them and it does add character! These are lightweight and ideal for travel/camping, so their first test came under canvas in rural Wales with hot chocolate and rum on a blustery evening. Despite the fact that no open fires were allowed they still managed to evoke the spirit. The price on Amazon was the most affordable I'd seen anywhere and they were sent very promptly. One happy camper!


The Hebrides: 50 Walking and Backpacking Routes (British Mountains)
The Hebrides: 50 Walking and Backpacking Routes (British Mountains)
by Peter Edwards
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.88

4.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring., 25 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is an unusual book as walking guides go because it contains a lot of inspiring colour photographs and is in a larger than normal fomat for books of this kind. There is a detailed introduction covering the history, geography, geology, wildlife and industry of the Hebrides, then a very good section on recommended walking equipment, which is much more specific than the advice I've seen in other guides eg certain types of footwear recommended and tools for removing ticks. There's information on how to get to each of the islands with links to ferry timetables and air schedules, however a bit surprisingly there's no mention of the journey times themselves (other than St Kilda) which by the author's own admission is both relatively inaccessible and expensive when compared to the other islands and thus not likely to be one of the more visited. The photography is particularly enticing, with multiple white sand beaches, sea stacks, pinnacles, needles and standing stones shown.

The walks - there are 50 of them - are for the most part challenging, many having ascents rivalling small alpine peaks (the total ascent is quoted for each journey, not the maximum height above sea level, which is actually quite a good idea as it gives you more idea of the effort that's likely to be involved). The lengths of the walks vary between circa 4 miles as the shortest and 15 miles as the longest. There are number of walks such as the more detailed exploration of Jura that cover 30-40 miles, that are estimated at 3-4 days duration ie not to be attempted at a single stroke. There are a few low level walks usually focused around the coastline eg Walk 39 the Udal peninsula, and these look a little less taxing. Mostly however I get the impression that this book is aimed at fairly experienced walkers.

Right at the end there is a glossary of terms translating from Gaelic to English which is a nice touch, and helps you understand the decsription of the landscapes in the local tongue, and a list of useful contacts such as weather reports and campsites. It would have been nice to have more info on campsites and B&Bs , however the mean feature is obviously the walks themselves. The main failing of this book is its size and weight - you'd not want to take it out with you - rather use it as a coffee table planner, then buy the appropriate OS map to take on your hike.


Sony Action Cam HDR-AS200V with Live View Remote, Wi-Fi & GPS
Sony Action Cam HDR-AS200V with Live View Remote, Wi-Fi & GPS
Price: £281.42

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Has Sony created a Go Pro killer?, 16 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Sony Action Cam HDR-AS200V is their latest crack at challenging the dominance of the Go Pro in this sector of the of the video cam market. It comes with a range of attachments for securing it when you're on the move, a wrist strap mounted remote viewer from which you can control and monitor the action and a waterproof/shockproof case which you can use when the need arises.

It's a beautiful little thing. Unlike the Go Pro, which has a square shape which is wider than it is deep the Sony is a more traditionally shaped cam of 24mm wide by 46mm tall and 81mm deep, It can quite easily disappear into the palm of your hand and will comfortably fit in any pocket. With the case attached its a little bulkier but it could never be described as anything other than small.

Set up is very straightforward, charge the battery in both the cam unit and the remote viewer and it takes very little time to get going. The main controls are two buttons on the side of the unit from which you can cycle through the menus and a rear button which controls the recording and the selections of menu items. The menu allows you to control everything from the frame rate to the recording resolution and much else besides. I found it simple to link to the cam to various devices via both bluetooth and wi fi. The ability to connect to a smartphone is particularly useful as the standard remote viewer screen is tiny and lacks clarity in bright light. Being able to see what you're filming in real time on a large screen is fabulous.

You will need to buy a separate micro sd card of at least class 10 to store your recorded footage and obviously the capacity of your card will determine how long you can film for. I popped a 32gb card and the device suggested that would be good for around 4hrs 30 minutes of recording at 1080p and 30fps. Frankly the battery is more likely to run flat before getting near filling that. It also has the ability to film at high speed so you can create slow motion sequences.

I've tried it in a variety of settings. Sitting at home filming a mobile cat, in the car traversing high rough mountain roads and on the water in a motor launch. When recording there's a simple lock so you won't accidentally switch it off whilst the action is happening. The anti shake software has apparently been much improved since previous models and it has exmor tech on the sensor. The result is rock steady, crystal clear video with the 170 degree Zeiss lense capturing an amazing level of detail. Playback on large screens is a bit shocking, it's hard to believe such a tiny unit can produce such professional looking footage. You can also live stream via wifi straight to Ustream. My only quibble is that in windy conditions the sound was very dominated by the roar but I believe this can be mitigated somewhat when using the case.It records in MP4 format and file transfer, viewing and editing couldn't be simpler. It doesn't have a zoom function, which for some may be an issue but at this price point I think its incredibly good value for money.

To conclude I think in the Action Cam HDR-AS200v is a real challenger to the Go Pro range in the action cam market. It's compact, waterproof, steady, shoots incredibly high quality footage, gives real flexibility in control and viewing of images and feels like it will withstand rough handling. It's a real winner.


Santa Rita Bougainville Petite Sirah 2010
Santa Rita Bougainville Petite Sirah 2010
Price: £49.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Move over Ribena!, 15 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This wine has a huge bouquet - we got a massive hit of fruit immediately upon opening the bottle, reminiscent of jam making or being on a pick-your-own farm. We barely let the wine breathe before tasting, but this didn't seem to be detrimental - a lovely syrupy blackcurrent flavour coming through, which was fully rounded and mellow. Absolutely no edge. My tasting partner who is more familiar with a wide range of reds than me thought the peppery notes much less prevalent in this Chilean wine than in its other new world counterparts such as Aussie. We enjoyed this with a migraine-inducing mix of cheese and Neuhaus chocolates (presents from a relative just back from Belgium!) which it complimented well, and suffered absolutely no ill effects. A delicious wine that anyone would struggle to find fault with, but we have taken off a star as we felt the pricing was quite steep, even for this quality. At the £20-30 mark this would be a great buy.


Philips GC4520/30 Azur Performer Steam Iron - 190g Steam Boost, 2600 Watt
Philips GC4520/30 Azur Performer Steam Iron - 190g Steam Boost, 2600 Watt
Price: £62.30

5.0 out of 5 stars Love at first press!, 10 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm usually the last person to rave about something as mundane as small electric appliances, but it has to be said, this iron is bloody amazing. Channelling my inner bloke (I'm a 40 something woman) I unwrapped this, filled it with tap water and switched it on without reading the booklet. Setting it to 'high/autosteam' it was hot enough to use in seconds, and I flattened my way through five pairs of jeans in as many minutes. I don't know what they've done to the soleplate of this iron but it glides like silk. Lightweight and steamier than a Chinese laundry, it was quite literally the quickest and most efficient pile of ironing I've ever done. Little tweaks make this stellar - like an easier filling angle for the water reservoir than any other iron I've used. On top of this, the aesthetics are lovely - a deep jewel-like amethyst colour and an elegant pointy front like those yachts moored in Monaco.

I already had a perfectly decent Russell Hobbs iron that I was more than happy with this, but, frankly, this kicks its ass. If you need a new iron, or if you've got to buy one, say as a wedding present, and you are worried that it's not the sexiest gift, honestly, look no further. Five very well deserved stars.


Toni & Guy Classic Wave Memoriser - 100 ml
Toni & Guy Classic Wave Memoriser - 100 ml
Price: £7.49

3.0 out of 5 stars More Marcel Wave than Poodle Perm., 29 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This product sits somewhere between a cream and a gel. It feels very sticky – almost gummy – when you first squeeze it into your hands, however when you apply it to your hair something very weird happens and the stickiness vanishes immediately. It feels almost like some sort of evaporation of the sticky component has taken place.

I tried the product on towel dried hair, rubbing it into the roots and upper layers. I didn’t style my hair or apply any heat or other products - just left it to dry naturally. The result was a slight increase in body and volume and the light natural wave in my hair was emphasised a little, though it definitely didn’t give full-on curls. I suspect if you have a naturally more pronounced curl in your hair you will get a better result than me though, as my hair is pretty fine and only slightly wavy. Overnight my hair went a bit flat as you would expect from having been 'slept in' so I tried an extra application of the memoriser on dry hair when I got up. However this didn't seem to restore the body and wave I'd had the night before so I'm not sure the product fully lives up to its name.

What I most liked about the product was that it did not give a stiff or crunchy finish like, say, a mousse or a salt spray. Whilst a salt spry does give a superior wave effect, the Toni and Guy cream-gel variant felt as though it was being kinder and less drying to my hair (with the caveat that the aforementioned evaporation sensation suggests the presence of alcohol)

Final point – the smell is very nice – cologne-like – but definitely slightly more masculine than feminine or unisex.


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