15 bath and skincare products to talk about in September

I’m back with a products post to tell you about 15 more (mainly bath and skincare) products that I’ve been using recently. Have you used any of these? Let me know in the comments!

Body Shop

NO empties post on Unseen Beauty is complete without some Body Shop products.

The Mango body butter is one of my favourites because it’s from the mango range. It’s not a new product for me, but I love the tropical scent and the way it leaves your skin so soft afterwards.

I got the super volumising mascara because I wanted to find a cruelty-free one that I liked, but unfortunately although this was ok, I didn’t find it as volumising as some of my others, so I’m still looking. On the plus side, it had a decent brush and it didn’t clump.

I’m still using up advent calendar products, and last year I got the moringa body yoghurt. I love the body yoghurts, especially in the summer. The mango one is my favourite, followed by almond milk and honey. I don’t tend to by from the moringa range because it’s too floral for me, but if floral is your thing, then this is a great product because I’d highly recommend the body yoghurts on the whole.

I only use roll-on deodorants now because they’re better for the environment than aerosol cans, but I only recently discovered that the Body Shop did a roll-on deodorant as well. It’s from the aloe range, which is also quite new to me, but which is gentle and kind to the skin. It’s formulated for sensitive skin, so has no fragrance, but it does the job it’s supposed to, and I usually wear a body mist anyway, so the lack of fragrance doesn’t bother me. It’s slightly more expensive than other roll-on deodorants, but it’s made with community trade ingredients and gentle on the skin, so I would pay the extra and buy it again.

I picked up the tea tree skin clearing toner even though it’s for oily skin, which I don’t have! Still, if I do use it at times when I have hormonal breakouts because of the skin clearing properties – tea tree oil is my friend when it comes to that. This product took me a bit longer to use up because it’s not the right skin type for me to use all the time, but I like to have one or two tea tree products in my stash for when I need them.

Bubble Tea

Not for drinking! As well as a range of bath products, I discovered that Bubble Tea also produces hand cream. This lemongrass hand cream is out of stock as I’m writing this, but it was fresh and citrusy, and a good size too at 100 ml It also contains pineapple and shea butter, and is cruelty-free! I just got it from the supermarket and hope it will come back in stock.

Burt’s Bees

I love all things grapefruit, so when I saw that Burt’s Bees had a pink grapefruit lip balm I snapped it up! I have too many lip balms really, but this one actually got finished up, which shows how much I liked it! I can highly recommend the mango and pink grapefruit lip balms from this range – they keep your lips nice and soft, and they smell and taste amazing!

Clinique

I got a mini of this high impact mascara as a gift with purchase when I had my Clinique make-over.

As someone who can’t see to apply her make-up, as a rule I tend to struggle with mini mascaras more than full-size ones, but I wouldn’t expect a full-size one as a gift with purchase. It’s described as thickening and volumising and I would buy it again because I agree it does both!

Elizabeth Arden

When I was about 16, someone bought me the Sunflowers perfume for Christmas and I felt like buying it again a couple of years ago. It’s very fresh and summary with notes of melon and peach. Buying perfume is always a bit risky, but this friend did well and the fruity fragrance is just my thing. I’m not sure if it’s too young for me now, or it just makes me feel 16 again because it was my signature fragrance at that time!

Freshly

I’ve talked about the Freshly products before, but I finally finished up the toner as well, which lasted a long time because it came in a spray bottle, meaning you spray it directly onto the face. It’s good because you don’t waste any, but it’s also good because there’s no need for cotton pads. I liked all of the products in this set. They’re not cheap, but they didn’t give me any reactions, and they’re made with natural ingredients from fruits and other foods, which means they smell amazing too. This soothing and hydrating toner had lime extract in it, and the apple micellar water was lovely too.

Lush

This is a Halloween special, so if you want it, you need to get it before they all get snapped up! Yesterday I tried the lucky cat bewitched bubble bar, which comes in the shape of a lucky cat face. It smells of bergamotte and blackberry. Poor little cat face, but it makes a lovely relaxing bath!

Nuxe

After being introduced to this brand last Christmas, I was interested to try some more of their products when they came up on Latest in Beauty. I’ve got a couple of mini tubes of the correction cream, which has a light, gel-like texture and the typical Nuxe scent. It’s for normal to combination skin and although it does feel lightweight, it keeps the skin moisturised and is also intended to help protect the skin against pollution whilst protecting the skin’s natural balance.

Radox

Good old Radox! I usually just use them for bubble bath, but was intrigued to try out the grapefruit shower gel! I have to be honest and say I don’t like it as much as the Body Shop pink grapefruit range, but if you need some shower gel and are looking for a grapefruit one, it’s a good everyday one to have.

Madara

I forgot I had this, but this overnight cream from Madara is something I would buy again. You tend to get a lot of Madara products in the Lovelula natural beauty boxes, and they tend to cater more towards dry skin. I’ve tried a few of their products now, but recently found out that they do haircare and body lotion too, so I’m looking forward to trying out some of those.

Yes to

There’s been a bit of a grapefruit theme this time. I also tried the Yes to grapefruit body wash and was happy enough with it. However, I’ve had bad reactions to two different lines from this brand, so although this body wash was fine for me, I’m going to be avoiding the brand in future because there’s something in some of their products that really doesn’t like me.

So, what have you been using or used up recently that you would recommend? Let me know in the comments!

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Afternoon Tea at Oakley Hall

“When you grow up you’ll learn to like tea!” That’s what my family said. They were kind of right, but it was more the fact that I learned there’s more on offer in the whole tea experience than just English tea … with milk! There’s jasmin tea and mint tea and mango tea and green tea – all of which I’m quite happy to drink. None of them can push coffee off the first place in my hot drink favourites list though and none of them come with milk! Milk goes in hot chocolate!

I’d never bothered with the idea of afternoon tea before because at first I thought it was just tea and scones. I will eat a scone –(scone rhymes with gone by the way), – but without the jam and cream! Anyway, it was only when I started reading posts by bloggers like Kerry and Gemma that I realised afternoon was about much more than that. It is an experience! Even better, a lot of places let you swap out the tea for coffee!

So a friend and I decided to do afternoon tea one afternoon at the end of August to celebrate her birthday.

Oakley Hall is a hotel in north Hampshire. I’d been to a couple of events there, but I discovered that they do afternoon tea as well, so I booked us in for a weekday afternoon, which turned out to be a smart thing to do as it was really quiet and relaxing.

What did we have?

There was quite an extensive tea menu, but I can’t really tell you much about that because we both chose coffee!

When the stand came, we pretty much shared it out equally unless there was something someone didn’t like.

There was a selection of four finger sandwiches each, either in bread or cute little rolls. I’d mentioned my allergy beforehand and they made sure that there was nothing on the stand that I was allergic to. This should be normal practice, but I always get the feeling that some places care more than others about getting it right, so I light to highlight good practice when I come across it!

There was so much food on the stand, we knew we’d be taking some home. I’m a savoury kind of girl, so I finished my sandwiches, planned to take the scones, and then went for the desserts that A. sounded most delicious and B. would not travel so well!

In the “sounded most delicious” category, one of the first things I tried was a banoffee boat – a carefully crafted biscuit shell with a banana and cream filling, topped with chocolate!

There was a delicate little cake with a strawberry on top, so I had that next, along with both lemon macaroons, because B didn’t want hers!

It was lovely to sit and chat over our afternoon tea. The staff were around if we needed anything, and we didn’t feel under any pressure to leave. We went after about an hour and a half because I had to get back for a meeting, but I think we could have easily stayed there a bit longer. I was definitely full though by the time I left and a bit high on sugar! (It used to be a joke that I could deal with alcohol, but too much sugar was a problem!)

Anyway, some of the cakes were slices, so we chopped them in half and filled our take-away boxes! This meant that S could get some too, including the Victoria sponge, the caramel slice (very good, but a little much caramel for me), and the cherry cake (which apparently looked unusual because it was green, but which was actually really good!)

This was my first afternoon tea and I can see why people keep going back to them. I understand it’s a different atmosphere at the themed ones because you have the room all decorated to suit the theme and there are many more people there, but if you’re just a couple of friends who want to mark a special occasion or have a good old catch up, this is a good way to do it!

Have you been to any good afternoon teas lately?

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Latest in Beauty choices – August 2019

I thought I’d let you see what I picked for my Latest in Beauty choices in August.

Latest in Beauty is a subscription box with a difference – you can choose your own products.

I think this can make it a better option because although you can’t guarantee in advance that you’ll love everything, you can definitely make sure that you don’t get products in your box that are the wrong shade or that you will just leave sitting in a drawer for ages because you won’t use them.

I don’t make my choices on the highest value products, although I do try to make sure that they’re good value for money. This works – partly because you do end up paying less than the retail price, but also because I’m not wasting money on things I won’t use.

You can choose a 3, 6 or 9 product box. I get 9 products for £18, which means that the products work out at around £2 each.

Every month there is a star product, which means there is enough of this product for any subscriber who wants one. I didn’t get the August star product because it was an eye liner and I don’t use those, but September’s is a Nars lipstick and I’ll be snapping that up!

I didn’t get any make-up this time, but on the site there is skincare, makeup, haircare, tools, and bath stuff. Products are added all through the month, so you’re not at a disadvantage if you get your box at the end of the month like I do. New products are being added each day, but some of the ones mentioned here are still available.

A quick note about accessibility – as a blind customer I have no problem picking out my items and checking them out each month. This should be the way it is for all sites, but unfortunately this isn’t the case with all beauty boxes, so I like to highlight good practice when I find it!

Face masks

I like to use my LiB subscription to stock up on face masks because there are often new ones in the edit, and it’s a really cost-effective way to buy masks. I have only ever had one bad experience in about 3 years of trying different masks, and that was with a well-known brand. This didn’t put me off trying others – particularly the more natural ones.

  • It’s skin fresh mask avocado – with natural ingredients and over 25 vitamins. I’ve had this one before and it’s a nourishing mask for when your face needs some hydration.
  • It’s skin fresh mask olive – a firming and refreshing mask, again for dry skin. I haven’t tried this one yet, but I liked the avocado one and this is from the same brand.
  • Mitomo soy bean mask – to keep pores clean. I love Korean and Japanese skincare and although I haven’t tried this mask before, I’ve had another one from the brand. I got this because it’s said to reduce irritation and improve skin texture. My skin’s been a bit sensitive lately, so I thought something that was both detoxifying and soothing would be a nice treat!

Hair

  • Jo Hansford intensive hair mask – to be used as a wash-off mask or an overnight treatment. This isn’t strictly for my type of hair because my hair isn’t coloured, but I wanted to try something from the Jo Hansford range and I generally give my hair a mask treatment every one or two weeks because it’s very long and I want the ends to get some tlc! This mask contains Ethically harvested Castanha do Brasil and sunflower extract.

New to try

Every month I like to try a few new things just because they’re there and I can! Sometimes this means full sizes, other times it’s a sample – but even with samples it’s good to try something out first before buying the full size.

  • Sebamed clear face mattifying cream – because hormonal breakouts! Reduces the skin’s oily shine and the formation of pimples, blackheads and skin impurities. I thought this may help, particularly at the times of the month when the hormonal breakouts like to raise their ugly heads!
  • Weleda sea buckthorn body wash – my favourite from Wileda is the pomegranate range, but I thought I’d give this a go too because generally the brand makes things that smell great and that are also gentle on the skin.

General things that I need

Sometimes I pick up general things like deodorant, cotton pads, shower gel etc because they are things that I always use and want to keep topped up.

  • Sure advance protect antiperspirant roll on – not very exciting, but it’s something I use every day, so why not pick one up when they’re here?

Yardley London lily of the valley hand cream – I tend to get through hand creams because I have one on my desk, one in my bag, one by my bed etc. Also, if my hands are covered in hand cream, I’m less likely to bite my cuticles. Well it’s a strategy at least. So I picked this up because I hadn’t tried anything from Yardley and I thought it sounded good. It has a floral, but not overpoweringly floral scent. The cream rubs in well and isn’t greasy.

Fragrance

I don’t often get fragrances, but I will if I think something looks interesting.

  • Kieren NYC perfume bundle – I got this because I thought it would be a good way to get to know the brand as there are four fragrances in the set. They come on cards in a little bag. I am not sure if any of them are going to be my new favourite scent – I need to test them out a bit more. I automatically liked Sunday brunch because of the citrus notes, but I also liked 10 a.m. flirt because it’s fruity.

Have you tried Latest in Beauty? If so, what did you get in August? If not, do you think it’s a good idea?

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August 19 highlights – afternoon tea, friends, and a new owl bag

August was a bit of a tough month – for two years running! In some ways I’m happy it’s September, and not just because September is my birthday month. Some good things happened in August too though, so I’ve decided to write about them here!

1. Friends

I didn’t tell everyone at first about the hospital incident that resulted in my first aid post, but when I did, stop hiding and open up a bit, people were lovely. I had visitors. I caught up with people whom I hadn’t seen in ages. I had lovely messages. I had friends invite me round and give me a lift so I didn’t have to spend as long on my own the first night S was away. I don’t actually mind being on my own – I used to live on my own – but when you’ve been rushed to hospital in the middle of the night … things always feel worse in the night time.

Life gets busy and we don’t even mean not to keep in touch, but if you don’t make an effort to do it, you don’t get round to it, or it ends up taking ages. I didn’t enjoy the hospital experience, but it did remind me that I have a lovely network of people around me.

2. Replacement bag

My owl bag gets a lot of comments because he’s a bit unusual. I talked about him first a couple of years ago. We fixed him once with a new strap because I’d been carrying too much around, but his feathers were starting to get frayed at the bottom, the stitching round his ears was coming undone, and the metal that kept him together was starting to wear through. So S got me a replacement.

Apart from being an owl, and therefore fitting in with all my other owls, I love the tactile design with the textured feathers, the eyes and the sparkly beak!

3. Sushi restaurant

Thanks to someone who was only here for a visit, we discovered a new sushi restaurant. It’s delicious and I actually went 3 times in August! I’m not usually a fan of fish, but there are other types of sushi too. It’s always good to try out new places! Two more sets of friends want to try it out, so no doubt we’ll be back in September too!

4.New walking pals

I’m still having tests and can’t do some of my usual fitness activities, but I’ve found a few new people to go walking with for some exercise and fresh air. It’s so good to get out in the nature, especially on days when it isn’t so hot.

5. Securing my place on my next module

This academic year I’m doing the second half of my first year of my degree because I’m part-time. The first two modules came one after the other. The ones for October both start at the same time – so I’ll have more to do, but a longer break in the summer.

I had booked onto my 3rd IT module a while ago, but then I needed something else at the same level. Most other people going down the IT route did an entire module of maths, but I couldn’t bring myself to do that, so I chose a linguistics module as well.

This is one of the nice things about an open degree. I’m doing it so that I can use the knowledge I learn at work, rather than to apply for specific jobs, so I can customise it to make it as interesting and relevant as possible. As I already work in the language field, I think something related to this will be more useful than maths.

6. Wedding preparations

We didn’t make a lot of headway with wedding preparations – our August kind of got taken over by other things. There was a venue that we were considering. As it turned out, it didn’t offer what we were looking for, but we had a lovely meal there and a walk, so it was still a good day out.

7. My first afternoon tea

It’s taken other blogging friends to open my eyes to what’s about in terms of afternoon tea. I thought it was all about the tea, but most places will let you swap out the tea for coffee – this had me more interested in the idea, as did the fact that there were savoury as well as sweet treats.

Anyway I was talking to one of my friends and we decided to do an afternoon tea for her birthday. I’ll probably write a full post about it, but it happened in August, so it belongs in the August highlights.

8. Rain!

I know, I know – some people aren’t happy about it. But I really struggle with the heat, especially wen I’m supposed to be working. I’m more of an autumn kind of girl. So a couple of times this month I was doing a happy dance because we finally got some rain, which meant that things cooled down a bit.

I know it’s not so much fun for the people further north who had the floods. We didn’t get anything like that in the south and after a second lot of really hot weather, I was happy about the rain. Everything smells so fresh and alive afterwards too!

9. First customers for my new business

My new website EwK Services went live earlier this year. As I split out my businesses, some customers that wanted my translation or language services automatically transferred over to EwK Services, but it also got its first project that had nothing to do with my first business. For me, that was also a reason to celebrate.

10. New fan

Things only tend to break when you’re using them, and that was true for my fan too! It broke during that really hot spell that we had in July and I didn’t get round to replacing it until we had another really hot spell in August.

The one I bought wasn’t the most amazing in terms of power, but it’s small, portable, and can follow me around the house when I’m struggling with the heat. It’s a tower fan, so it doesn’t take up much space either.

The other nice thing was that it was available from Ocado, so I could pick it up with my groceries! I really like the fact that Ocado does home products and toiletries that you can just add to your basket along with your food.

The fan and I are now firm friends!

How about you?

My favourites posts used to be all about the things I’d bought. I have bought some things and I do plan on writing a couple of products posts in September, but good things can also be a walk in the nature, a good book, time with friends, or just taking some time out for self-care. This month I’ve had to take things a bit easier due to health reasons, but going at a slower pace and taking time to recover has also made me appreciate people, and the little things more.

How about you? What were your August highlights? Let me know in the comments!

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Our visit to the computer museum at Blechley Park

S had already been to the Computer Museum at Bletchley Park, but I wanted to go too! So we arranged to go back during our week off in July.

Bletchley Park was a centre in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, where people worked tirelessly round the clock during WW2 to decipher messages sent by Hitler and his allies using enigma machines. They also translated the messages, picked out what was most relevant, and passed on crucial information to the military. This information could then be used to position troops where they would be most useful, intercept enemy forces, or even to see how well misinformation, intentionally planted by the UK and its allies was being believed. This became crucial in the D Day landings, because the German forces were expecting the allied troops to land elsewhere.

Today Bletchley Park is open to the public as a museum where you can visit a series of buildings that were originally used by the people working at Bletchley Park. I thought they were all bussed in each morning, but apparently some people lived there full-time as well with numerous groups and social events being organised for them. Of course, we know now what they were doing, but at the time their work was top secret.

Access to information

There is a good mixture of information –in terms of the codebreaking machines, how they worked, how they were used to decipher the encrypted messages, and what it was like for the men and women working in the facility. Some of the rooms have speakers playing conversations as if the workers were talking to one another including references to their work, free time (two women sharing a wedding dress because it was cheaper), and a romantic picnic between two of the people working there – who were allowed to talk about anything apart from what they were actually doing.

In other parts of the museum there were audio recordings that you could listen to by picking up an earpiece. It stopped playing when you replaced it on the cradle. These were first-hand accounts about everyday life, specific individuals, working on the code-breaking machines, and some more personal stories, such as the lady who found out through the intercepted messages that her fiancé’s regiment had been captured. She couldn’t continue her work and had to go home. That must have been so awful.

Working together

One of the things that really struck me was the need for collaborative working. Everyone had their job, but that job on its own didn’t contribute much. You needed all the people working together. The engineers, the people working the machines day and night (often the Wrens – Women’s Royal Naval Service), the translators, the radio operators, the military analysts, and the admin staff. Of course there are key figures like Alan Turing, without whose contributions and designs the process would have been much slower or even impossible as the German equipment became more sophisticated, but in order to be successful, everyone needed to play their part and pull together.

This applied to nations working together as well. Without the codebreaking knowledge provided by Polish experts with their bomba machine even before the war started, the British teams would have been years behind in their research. Similarly, the British team passed on information to their American allies.

Given that many of the men were away overseas in the armed forces, women played a key role in the code breaking operation, particularly as more machines were added that had to be maintained and operated 24/7.

Important figures

Block B contains the museum where you can learn about the life and works of Alan Turing, discover how the work at Bletchley Park influenced key WW2 events, see enigma machines, learn how the Lorenz cypher was broken, and find out more about the various stages of the codebreaking process.

The enigma machine was invented by a German engineer, Arthur Scherbius, after WW1. It looked a bit like a typewriter, but with a lamp board above the letters. The operator pressed the letter that they wanted, and the corresponding enciphered letter lit up on the lamp board. There was also a series of rotors that were set at the beginning of each message transition, and which rotated each time a letter was pressed, thus changing the cypher. In fact, one of the key breakthroughs was when an operator had to transmit a message a second time and didn’t bother changing the starting positions of the rotors. There was also a plug board on the front of the machine, where pairs of letters were transposed, creating further settings to choose from when encrypting the messages.

The bombe machine was a device developed by Alan Turing, with engineering design by Harald Keen, to discover the daily settings of the enigma machines including the rotors being used, their starting positions, and one of the wirings of the plugboard. With this information, the settings on an enigma machine could be replicated and the plaintext of the messages for that day (or pair of days in the case of the German Navy messages) could be discovered, translated, and disseminated. Identifying the settings was made easier by the fact that there were specific words that cropped up in most messages and it would therefore be possible to predict how these would look if you knew the machine’s settings.

You can visit Alan Turing’s office at Bletchley Park, complete with a mug chained to the radiator, and there is also a slate statue of him, which gave me an idea how he looked. It’s also relevant to mention the recent news here that Alan Turing was chosen to appear on the new £50 note, officially recognising his contributions. Alan Turing had been working with the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park part-time since 1938, and he signed up full-time once the war began. He worked with Dilly-Knox on deciphering the encrypted text produced by the enigma machine and also developed a procedure for working out the wheel settings on the Lorenz machine.

Alfred Dilly (Dilwyn) Knox was a codebreaker who worked at Bletchley Park. He helped decrypt the Zimmermann telegram, which brought the USA into WW1. He didn’t see the full extent of the work in which he was involved because he died in 1943, before WW2 had ended, but he worked at Bletchley Park on the cryptanalysis of enigma cyphers, and was responsible for the method that broke the Italian naval enigma.

The highly confidential and strategically important messages between Hitler and German commanders were encrypted using a Lorenz machine. Originally these were deciphered by hand, but the workers could not keep up with the sheer volume of messages that were intercepted and needed to be understood. Therefore, a plan was devised to automate this process using machines. Thanks to Tommy Flowers, a General Post Office engineer, this lead to the design of Colossus, the first semi-programmable electronic computer.

Accessibility

We went in the school holidays, and parking was tricky. Fortunately we have a blue badge! There is also a gift shop on site, and two places where you can buy food. The one with the more extensive choices is not the first one you see, so it’s good to pick up a map and orientate yourself.

In terms of accessibility, my main access to information was S, who read information to me as we went round. There are audio guides, but they are operated using a touch screen, which makes it impossible for someone with no sight to use them. There are also a number of interactive exhibits that demonstrate points about the code-breaking process. These weren’t accessible to me either, but they could easily be replicated later if someone were feeling helpful or creative! Still, it would be good if the museum could look into maybe having some more information available on its website, or at least some of the tasks. Even if they were behind a membership area paywall that you could only access as a ticket holder. It is a museum about technology after all and technology can be a powerful force in terms of making information more accessible.

My main point for going there though was to learn, and with S as my guide, I could definitely do that. In fact, we ran out of time and didn’t manage to see everything, so we’re planning another trip (tickets are valid for one year and disabled people can take an assistant for free).

On the way home we went to Windsor for some delicious Lebanese food. We also stopped by to say “hi!” to the swans of Windsor before making our way home.

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Why first aid knowledge is important – you never know when you’ll need it

I’ve been trying to write other posts, but then I keep coming back to this one. I think it’s the most important thing I have to say at the moment, but it won’t be the easiest post to write.

My experience with first aid training hasn’t been good. We got the chance to do an introduction to first aid when I was at school as some kind of extra curricular activity.

It was led by an external provider who had clearly never come across a visually impaired person before. That’s fair enough. To be honest we got on fine until it came time for the test. I passed mine, both the theory and the practical parts, but he said I couldn’t get the certificate for course completion because I wouldn’t be able to safely assess an emergency situation independently.

There are definitely things it would be harder for me to do, and things that I do differently. Perhaps I wouldn’t be able to become a first aider at work because of issues around risk assessment and insurance, but certainly anyone I’ve patched up or helped in the past wasn’t bothered that I couldn’t see them. Most people are able to explain what happened and most things aren’t that serious.

To be honest, I wouldn’t have been bothered, apart from the fact that a boy in the group was given his theory test back to “have another look at it” because some of his answers were wrong and he wouldn’t pass. I hated the trainer at that point – how could he make such a fuss about my not being able to do things if he was willing to so openly let another course member cheat like that?

I didn’t pursue it. Partly because you have to choose your battles and at that time I was having bigger problems elsewhere. Also I didn’t think the certificate was worth the paper it was written on if it were so easy to get it dishonestly. Now I would be more likely to keep searching until I found an accessible alternative as I know that some visually impaired people have had really good experiences.

What I did do was get myself a book on first aid. A big thick manual that went into fa more detail than the introductory course. I read it, and in the end could be sure that I knew far more about the subject than anyone who had passed that stupid course!

First aid training has to be refreshed though, and I didn’t do that. Still, a fair bit had stayed with me and it came in useful nearly two weeks ago when I became unwell and we spent the night in A&E.

I don’t really want to talk about the details here. I’m still processing it myself and it was a big thing for me even to tell my friends about it. I don’t find it easy to be open at the best of times when something is wrong.

I feel much better now and am undergoing treatment and having some tests. Maybe I’ll write about it some time, but that time isn’t now.

The point is that I remembered what I’d read about first aid, what the problem might be, and what we should do about it. S hadn’t had any first aid training, but he’d also picked up some information from a film or tv programme and we pretty much came to the same conclusion about what the symptoms meant. We’re both pretty calm in a crisis and quickly decided to go to the hospital.

So the point of writing this is to say it’s better to have some basic knowledge in advance than to be frantically googling if something happens. You can save yourself time and stress. Even if what happens isn’t exactly like what it says in the book, you’ll have a better idea of what to do, what to look out for, and if you go to the hospital or call an ambulance, what information is going to be relevant.

The NHS has lots of useful information or you could look into the availability of courses in your area.

It’s also helpful if you can do some basic things to be ready if there’s an emergency. I wrote last year about hunting around for painkillers after my accident, and how it would have been better to have known where they were immediately. The same goes for the first aid kit – a basic one doesn’t cost very much and it’s good to have it around if you need it. Also, if you keep raiding it, replace what you’ve taken.

If there’s an emergency, you should call the emergency services, but if you spend any amount of time on your own long-term or temporarily, is there someone close by that you can call in an emergency? I have someone who has offered that I can call them any time if there’s a problem when S is away, and this has given me peace of mind.

Hopefully I won’t have to do it, but it’s reassuring to know the offer is there. I’ve dealt with floods, collapsing ceilings, and sprained knees in the middle of the night on my own before – partly because I’m stubborn, but partly because I didn’t want to bother anyone at that time. If you have the conversation in advance, you don’t have to think about who might be willing to help. Similarly, is there someone whom you could be there for in this way?

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When is it good not to approve comments on your blog?

I found a bunch of comments that I hadn’t been alerted about. They were stuck in the queue and I worked my way through them, approving and deleting. The exercise got me thinking about comments and when it’s better not to let them through. It’s not just about whether or not you like what someone has to say.

I don’t want to create an echo chamber with only people who share my views being allowed to speak. But equally, my blog isn’t a free-for-all and I do moderate all comments before they go live.

Generally I let most comments through. Most of the time people are just commenting on the posts, sharing their own experiences, asking questions, or joining in with a discussion. But here are the times when I spam or delete comments.

1. When people don’t play nicely!

Probably the most obvious one – you don’t have to agree with me, but if you start writing things that are discriminatory, offensive, or rude in some other way – why should I have that up on my site? This includes people who think that snarky comments are the same as having a discussion. Fortunately I’ve only had one or two of those in my time as a blogger on both my business and my personal blogs.

2. When people add links to sites that I don’t want to endorse

This is a tricky one. The comment may be fine, but it also includes a link to an organisation that you wouldn’t necessarily support. The waters are muddied even further if you generally support what the organisation stands for, but not how they are going about raising awareness for or promoting their cause.

It’s something you just have to decide. Delete the comment? Let the comment through, but amend it to remove the link? Let it through, but also note your concerns in a comment underneath?

The only problem with the last suggestion is that by providing a back link – a link from your site to the other site – you are giving it credibility in search engine optimisation terms, and if that’s not something you want to do, it’s best not to have the link at all.

3. When people are posting spam comments for back links

This includes companies that can’t be bothered to pay for advertising “hey I thought you’d like my product – find out more here!”, and people who just want to bring readers to their site “Great post! Check out my latest post here!” In both cases, it just feels like spam. It’s obvious what they’re doing. They aren’t really interested in what you’ve written – they just want more eyes on their products or posts which might not even have anything to do with your article. It’s rude, and most of the time I bin them! If people really want someone to engage with them, they should put a bit more thought into their comment and not spam people’s blogs. The point about back links is relevant here too.

4. When people post innocuous comments with links that point to questionable sites

Most of these comments are sent straight to spam if you have a spam filter. The comments themselves usually look fine and often just say how great and educational your post was. The problem is with the rest of the form and the URL which they entered, which often leads to some dubious site that you wouldn’t want to visit. When the comment goes live, the person’s name becomes a link to that site. It doesn’t matter that the comment itself was not offensive in some way – you don’t want to be sending traffic to sites that contain malware or that are pay per click links generating income for someone else (also see point 3). In some cases it’s not even clear where the traffic will be ultimately redirected

5. When the trolls come out to play!

A troll is generally someone who starts arguments or upsets people by posting inflammatory or off-topic comments – usually to get a reaction. Often they become easier to spot, the more time you spend in online forums. Sometimes you may want to give people the benefit of the doubt because they may have a genuine question or just not know how to express themselves properly – but usually if it growls like a troll and stomps about like a troll – it probably is a troll! The best advice is to not feed the trolls – and an online troll’s favourite food is attention and other people’s time.

It is hard though. Some you can spot a mile off. But there are people who have been written off as trolls who were just struggling to know the rules appropriate for that particular social situation. I can think of times when I have had perfectly reasonable conversations with people whom others had written off as trolls – so it’s not as easy as some of the other points. I usually listen to my intuition first, but it’s not completely fool-proof.

But sadly there are some people who just want to sew negativity, stir people up against one another, or say the things that they know will get an angry or otherwise emotional reaction.

In a business sense, if you think there is a discussion to be had, it’s often better to take it out of the public arena sooner rather than later. Private messaging is always an option, as long as you feel the person isn’t just trying to get attention for the wrong reasons or waste your time.

How about you?

For those of you with blogs, what have been your experiences of deleting comments? Let us know in the comments!

If you liked this post, you may also enjoy the one about 15 things that I wish people would stop doing on social media!

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New products and old favourites from the Body Shop

I guess the brand that I am most loyal to is the Body Shop. I don’t use their products exclusively, but I buy a lot of stuff from there because the products are great value, they’re kind to my skin (I’ve never had a bad reaction from anything there), I like the brand’s ethics, and the products smell amazing too.

This post is about some things from a recent online order, where I also got to spend the points I earned from recycling my old products, and some things I picked up in a Sale on Facebook. Heidi is a Body Shop at Home consultant and she has a Facebook group where the sale was held.

What I got from Heidi’s sale

The sale was stock clearance, so everyone watching the Facebook live could just say which products they wanted from the selection and buy them if they were still available.

I was happy when the Body Shop started doing sheet masks as I give myself a face mask treatment once or twice a week, and the sheet masks are so much nicer to use than the ones that you paint on. I got two of the vitamin c sheet masks, which are part of the vitamin C range for hydrated and more radiant-looking skin. These masks definitely have enough serum in them, but they are not sopping like some others where you feel that you are wasting serum. I find the Body Shop masks fit my face well (some from other brands are definitely too large, too wide, or go up too far above the eyes. However, they don’t cover the chin and lower jaw area as well as some others do.

Recently a new range of hand washes came out and I was eager to try them, especially as one was my 2nd favourite scent – pink grapefruit! The pink grapefruit hand wash smells amazing, just like the rest of the range. It leaves your hands feeling soft, and although it’s a bit more expensive than other hand washes on the market, the packaging is part of the recycling scheme, so you can earn £1 back in points when you recycle it. You can read more about the recycling scheme here. I probably wouldn’t use these all the time, but I definitely like them as a grapefruity treat!

I hadn’t had anything from the banana range for a while, so I also got a banana shower cream, which is one of the special summer edition shower creams. I like the fruity scent, but I also like the fact that it’s made from bananas that won’t sell to the food industry and presumably would otherwise have gone to waste.This shower cream smells exactly like the banana haircare products.

I don’t usually buy from the strawberry range, but I do like the fast-absorbing body yoghurts, especially in the summer, when it’s hot. So I got a pot of the strawberry body yoghurt as a change from the mango or almond milk and honey ones that I usually get. This body yoghurt is enriched with strawberry juice and almond milk and the strawberry scent really makes you think of summer.

So that’s what I got from the sale – a couple of things I liked already, a new product, and an older product that was new to me.

What I picked up from the Body Shop online

The online store is mostly accessible, although I have had problems applying vouchers using a screenreader.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that the mango range is my favourite. I had £5 to spend because I returned 5 items of recycling, so I spent them on a mango shower gel because it smells amazing!

I picked up the almond hand wash too, but it doesn’t appear to be on the site any more. If it comes back, it’s a good alternative for you if you aren’t into fruity scents as much. I like it because it has a distinctive almond scent, more so than the almond milk and honey range.

I’ve tried the eye shadow sticks before. They’re certainly easier to use than powder eye shadows. I have a couple from the Body Shop and have recommended them in the past, though now I’ve tried a few other brands, the Body Shop ones aren’t the gentlest on the eyes, and they can dry out and drag a bit. I prefer the formula to be a bit more creamy. Anyway, I’ve recently been investigating liquid eye shadows because even without being able to see what I’m doing, I can paint the liquid eye shadow on where I want it with no worries about fall-out as I’d get with a powder. So I was interested to see the metallic eye shadows, which unfortunately seem to be out of stock at the moment. Not every day will be a metallic eye shadow kind of day, but I was happy with this because it gives me another option that I can feel confident about using without worrying whether it looks ok.

I’ve already mentioned the vitamin C masks. I used something that my skin really didn’t like recently, so I picked up a couple of things from the aloe range because they’re good for soothing and hydrating skin – either because you naturally have sensitive skin, or because you had an experience like I did and justwant to sooth it after irritation.(Of course if you have skin concerns, you should seek advice yourself as this recommendation won’t be suitable for everyone). Anyway, the aloe range has helped me in the past, so I got one aloe sheet mask and one vitamin E sheet mask” because they are good for hydration.

These masks are also good in the really hot weather because they have a cooling effect as the liquid evaporates.

How about you?

Do you like any of these products, or have you tried anything new recently from the Body Shop? Let us know in the comments!

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New Cadbury chocolate bars – which one will win?

Cadbury had a competition in which members of the public could come up with new chocolate bar flavours. Now, three of those chocolate bar designs have become reality, but only one will make it into long-term production. Chocolate lovers everywhere are being asked to vote for their favourite one! That’s a great marketing technique to get people to buy all three, isn’t it? But we succumbed to the great marketing technique and did just that yesterday evening!

S saw the raspberry one. I then remembered reading about them and said we had to buy the coffee one too. And then there was just the orange one left – so into the basket it hopped!

Unfortunately I don’t have any photos because – well – we tucked into them last night. But I’m not one of those bloggers who only feels that they can write something when they have a picture to go with the text, so if you want to know what they look like, you can find them on the Cadbury inventor page or keep a look out for them in the shops!

This post is not sponsored – we just like chocolate!

the raspberry shortcake

Milk chocolate studded with raspberry pieces, white crisp pearls, and shortcake.

This was S’ favourite and my second favourite! I don’t usually go for raspberry things, but the zinginess of the raspberry went well with the milk chocolate, and you don’t see a lot of raspberry chocolate. In Germany it’s easy to find things like strawberry chocolate, but the UK market doesn’t seem to go for it. So I’d be happy to see more fruity chocolate around!

Simply the zest

Orange flavoured milk chocolate with caramel pieces and digestive biscuit chunks.

Love the name, not so sure about the bar. I was thinking biscuitty Terry’s chocolate orange, but no. I’m not sure I even agree with the description here, but I did copy it from the Cadbury site. It tastes to me like normal chocolate, caramel, and orange flavoured squishy bits. I thought they were raisins at first. I’m still not entirely sure what they are, but I’m not a fan. Shame really as I thought this would be my second favourite!

Choca-latte

Milk chocolate with coffee cream and digestive biscuit pieces.

Yeah ok it was a foregone conclusion! Unless they really did something to screw it up, this was going to be my favourite! Because coffee!

It’s quite rich because of the cream. I like dark chocolate with coffee, but this is not a strong coffee hit like you would get with an espresso bar. It’s meant to be latte, so creamy and milky. I like it, but couldn’t eat too much at once!

The winners

If I had to pick only one winner, it would be the coffee. However people in the UK don’t seem to like that much either – no more coffee creams in Quality Streets, which made me vary sad! I generally import my coffee chocolate from Germany!

So if the coffee bar doesn’t do so well in the votes, I hope the raspberry one wins.

What about you? Do you like fruity or coffee-flavoured chocolate? Have you tried any of these bars? If so, which one do you want to win?

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Milestones – museum of living history

Milestones – museum of living history

We’ve got another week off coming up soon and I realised I hadn’t finished telling you about one other day out that we had in June. Actually we went twice – once on a school day, when we pretty much had the place to ourselves (Kirsty’s favourite way to explore a museum), and once for their Father’s Day event (we took S’ dad – and fathers could have a free drink at the pub or free sweets at the sweet shop!)

I can tell you about what we saw, but it seems that things change all the time. So if you’re planning a visit to the museum, it’s good to check out their website and see what’s on. For example, an exhibition about life in the UK during World War II and various activities for families with children such as a street magic event are planned for this summer.

The museum is basically split into two parts – the industrial revolution in the latter part of the 19th century, and life in the 1920s.You go on self-guided tours, which I always prefer because then you can spend more time on the things that you find more interesting and you don’t have to go at the group’s pace.

Audio guides are provided. Someone with no sight would still need assistance to go round the exhibits in the right order, but the numbers ran chronologically and if you wanted to find out more about a particular topic, you were told which numbers to press. The audio guide is operated by push-buttons arranged like a telephone, so as long as I knew which number I needed, I could operate it independently. I like audio guides because they give me control of what and how much I want to hear, and my guide doesn’t end up hoarse at the end of the day!

The first thing you see is information about Taskers of Andover, a company that manufactured steam engines, farm machinery and road vehicles. You can hear one of the Tasker brothers and some of his workers telling you what life was like for them, and see some of the equipment that they produced.
This was also a time when children were part of the workforce, often poorly paid and working in dangerous conditions. This isn’t a central theme, but there are a couple of accounts of it.

The role of horses was more important in the first part of the museum and we made a point of looking out for them! They worked on the farms, pulling people around on their carts, and even helping with house moves to get people’s luggage from the house to the railway, when the furniture was being moved a long way.

Of course if you have horses, you need somewhere to buy your saddles, bridles etc, or special shoes that the horses wore when pulling the lawn mower so that they didn’t squash the grass! I didn’t even know that was a thing! You can also pop into the iron monger, or see what new hats were in fashion!

There is a house similar to the many houses that were built for factory workers, or others who worked for the big companies that were springing up. I used to live in a house like this once, so I had often thought about what life was like for the families living in them. Mine, however, did have an inside toilet and a permanent bath, rather than a tub that you filled with water in the kitchen. Whereas I lived there on my own, a couple with there 4 children were squished into the space, with very little privacy.

The two parts of the museum are separated, so it feels as though you are going forward in time to the 1920s!

The 1920s street has a different range of shops and you can visit places like the bike shop, the camera shop and the toy shop.

This was the pre-war era – within a few years, women would be taking on many tasks traditionally done by men because the men were in the army, but at this time the women’s place was still seen as firmly in the home, as demonstrated by the advertising for hoovers and ovens aimed at “the modern housewife”! Things have come a long way since then!

It’s hard to imagine how people could be wary of electrical appliances at first, preferring the gas ones because these were more familiar. But I guess people have been resistant to change for as long as there have been people!
Your ticket comes with a ration book, which can be used in the sweet shop, where you can try old fashioned sweets such as pear drops, sour apples, strawberries and cream, and a bunch of others. It’s not pick ‘n mix, so you decide for one of the sweets and get a bag of that.

If you want a drink, you can also go to the pub, which sells alcohol as well as a range of soft or hot drinks.

If you’re interested in old vehicles, you can find them in both parts of the museum. Among other things there is a Victorian tram, a steam-powered fire engine, and a selection of restored vehicles made at the Thornicroft factory, which produced steam-powered lorries and vans.

In terms of refreshments, we ate their both days in the café. The staff are really friendly there and there’s a good selection of lunch options. I knew a lot of the old songs that were playing because my grandparents used to sing or play them. I think they would have enjoyed the museum too.

We didn’t actually buy anything from the gift shop, but there are plenty of souvenirs in there if you want to have a look around.

There are plenty of things to see in the museum, whether you’re interested in the shops, the vehicles, or just what life was like for people. I’d definitely say it’s worth a visit, and as it seems new things are added regularly, keeping an eye out for any special events or exhibitions that might interest you.

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