Books · reviews

Rainy day reading

It’s raining again today so I’m having a lovely day indoors all snuggled up with lots of coffee, crafts, coursework and reading.

I’m only on page 58 of this book so this is in no way a full review, I’m terrible at book reviews anyway. This book was a recommendation from The Mister who heard William Sampson being interviewed on the radio – The Jeremy Vine show – and said he was really interesting. He read it on holiday years ago and loved it, it’s one of his all-time favourite books.

Basically, this guy is working in Saudi Arabia and gets arrested suspected of terrorism but it’s all a complete fabrication, bombs have gone off but the authorities tactics are that they’re not too bothered about investigating the crime, it’s more about finding a person to blame and then make up evidence to suit and get confessions using torture. It’s terrifying stuff.

What happens is awful but my first impressions are that these people all opened themselves to arrest. The people that have got in serious trouble are not from Saudi Arabia, they’re mainly Europeans and Americans who have chosen to live and work in a country that has very strict rules about behaviour, most obviously alcohol is illegal but also there are very strict rules about modesty and interaction between men and women. The author says most of the people he knew had gone to live and work there to dodge taxes, so to my mind these are people with a pretty dodgy moral footing to start with. We pay our taxes so that we can support a kind society. If you dodge your taxes you’re sticking two fingers up to social care, education, justice etc etc. Back to the book. These people then thought that it was ok for them to brew their own alcohol and even open illegal bars and clubs selling booze because they’re ‘ex pats’ so expect the police to turn a blind eye.

It’s not ok. It’s massively disrespectful. You can’t pitch up in another country and pick and choose which laws you think are appropriate. Sure campaign for change, absolutely highlight injustice but the arrogance of going to a ‘dry’ country and then engaging in a piss-up was always going to end in tears. Especially when you suspect the police and security to be corrupt and brutal. It’s a dangerous gamble to take for some crappy home brew.

So things start to go wrong. Someone has let off bombs and has injured some people so the police start raiding homes and arresting people when they find alcohol on the premises. I think terrible things are about to happen to this man and his friends and of course it shouldn’t have happened and their treatment is a disgrace to Saudi Arabia, but so far I don’t like these people.

I’m not confident that I’ll read this to the end, if the descriptions of torture are too graphic for me I’ll stop reading. The Mister wants to read this again so it’s a keeper but not something I would have chosen to read.

reviews · vintage hair

Tesco Own Brand Maximum Hold Hairspray

To keep it short and sweet this hairspray is simply the best I’ve found.  At only 74p a can, and its a pretty big can, you wouldn’t expect much from it but if you’re a vintage loving girl this is the stuff for you. I have fine mid-length hair and this will hold a beehive constructed out of nothing much all day long, even if its a damp windy day. Great for taming fly-aways too.


craft fair · crafting · Knitting · reviews · Workshops

Workshops – Design your Own Fair Isle. Spring Knitting & Stitching Show, Olympia

When I saw that this workshop still had places available on Thursday I signed up straight away – this is how it was advertised:

“This workshop will give you the opportunity to design several pieces of Fair Isle knitting…” “…learn how to use grids to design [your] own patterns…” “…learn how to change colours and how colour choice determines the finished outcome.”

I imagined we’d be given yarn, needles, graph paper, a pencil, eraser and examples of traditional fair isle motifs and their meanings if relevant.  What we actually got was some graph paper, 4mm needles to borrow and some 4 ply yarn. No option to choose colours.  The only practical advice we were given was to only carry your alternate yarn choice for 3sts before twisting.

Because the needles she lent me were much too big for the yarn my attempt was pretty awful, I binned it as soon as I got it home.  My design wasn’t up to much either.  One of the other people produced the most gorgeous swatch but I think she must have used her own needles?

It was pretty useless as a workshop but nice to sit down for an hour in the middle of the Knitting & Stitching Show.

Next time I try fair isle I’ll use a Susan Crawford pattern.


Liz Earle – Cleanse and Polish


I had been dying to try this, because so many people rave on about it, so when a friend gave me a trial size along with a mini muslin cloth I was delighted. 

On the whole I agree with the rave reviews.  The smell of eucalyptus and rosemary is gorgeous and the texture is rich and creamy without being heavy. 

It took all my make-up off without any fuss including waterproof Mally mascara and and it didn’t make my eyes sting.  It left my skin looking really good too.

After a while I found it didn’t work quite as well but I believe that was partly down to the muslin cloth getting a bit tired but also that my skin improved over the time that I used it so you don’t notice a transformation every morning and evening once that happens.

I’d definitely buy it again,  I’d like to see how it works with my Tresonic face brush.



Elemis Pro-Radiance hand cream


This came as part of a set of bonus items when I bought some Elemis cleanser and toner.

I had tried a little bit from a friend’s tube and liked it so I was pleased to get this as a freebie, but go be honest I’ve been disappointed with it. It smells ok but I don’t think it does very much at all. In fact my hands have been noticeably dry looking while ive been relying on this.

Back to good old Asper & Jones for me.  I’ll give it 2/10 because the smell and texture are ok and its absorbed quickly.

make-up reviews · reviews

Clinique High Impact lipstick – No. 17 Rosette

downloadThis lipstick came as part of a Bonus Time set so I can’t tell you how much it would cost but I’d imagine it would be around £20.

Just so we’re clear from the start, for me its not worth the effort of looking up the price because I everwon’t be buying it.  I’m not a fan of Clinique lip colours, I’ve also been disappointed with a lip gloss in the past and I’m pretty sure I’ve tried the lipstick before and not got on with it.

The colour is not one I would have chosen  – its too dark and brownish for my colouring so its ageing on me but its the texture I really don’t like. It has an odd grainy feel as if your lips are in dire need of exfoliating.  I find myself pressing my lips together all the time when I wear it trying to smooth out the texture so the colour doesn’t last very on me either.

The packaging is hideous too. I’ll give this 0/10. Seems harsh but I really don’t like anything about it, this lipstick will be in the bin before this post has finished uploading.



make-up reviews · reviews

Mally liquid lip colour

imageI am a fan of Mally, I love watching her on QVC, she’s so funny, she gives great tips and her signature look is fabulous.

I don’t like everything she does, her mascaras are incredible and so are her crayon eyeshadows, her black eyeliner is one of my favourite things. Her two-step concealer I think doesn’t do the job as well as some cheapo ones I’ve used and that odd gelish gunge that’s supposed to be better than face powder you can keep.  Now I’m adding this lip colour to my list of avoids.  The applicator is horrible, you have to click the end to push the colour up through the brush. Its so noisy! I hate it.  The texture of the lipcolour itself is horrible, its too thick and pasty, its like smearing icing over your lips. The colour is beautiful, its the exact shade of pink I have been looking for but its gone within no time at all of applying.

Terrible stuff. 1/10 for being the right colour.


Ultrasun Ultralip SPF 15 (Medium)

I’ve never really been a fan of lip balms, they never do what they promise and just make your Imagelips feel a bit slimey.   The last ones I bought (and binned) were those awful Body Shop little pots that are supposed to be fruity flavours and colours. Synthetic messy vileness in a pot.

Cue my minor addiction to the tv shopping channel QVC.  ( with a holiday on the horizon.  What I was really after was some sun lotion and some tan accelerating body lotion. I didn’t buy either of those, the presentation and reviews for these lip balms were so good I couldn’t resist.  

As I get older I’ve noticed my lips dry out in the cold weather much more easily, I even get a dry cracked flaking lip line which is far from attractive in itself but to make matters worse I find myself gnawing at it which makes me look quite a lot like a an orang-utan practising gurning. Time to get some decent lip balm. 

So, you get three in a pack from QVC for £11, I’ve kept two and given one to a friend who never lets me down with beauty recommendations (its because of her I’m a slave to Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream). I took one on holiday to Greece and my lips did not dry out at all despite spending every single day for 14 days swimming in the sea, a chlorinated pool and sunbathing. Marvellous. 

Now that the weather has turned colder it still hasn’t let me down, I put a bit on in the morning as a combination of treatment and lipstick primer, again after lunch, and a little bit more on the way home. I’m still on the first tube. This stuff lasts amazingly well. I’ve been using this same tube for about five months now and I have half an inch left. 

The balm’s texture is smooth, not greasy or slimey, there’s no flavour or scent (personally I would like a bit of vanilla) and it lasts well, even after drinking umpteen cups of coffee.  If like me you find lipstick can be a bit drying this makes a great lip base.

Books · reviews

Dead Air – Iain Banks. Book review, sort of

I’m really not a fan of this book, I’m struggling to get through it. I don’t like any of the characters, I don’t find them at all believeable and the plot is too vague to hold my attention. I’m only carrying on with it because I’ve hit the point of no return.

If this was the first Iain Banks book I’d ever read I wouldn’t read another.