Subscription for a chocolate lover

It’s good to read other blogs. You can make new friends, support fellow bloggers – and one other thing is that you get ideas for what you can spend your money on!

One of the ideas that I got from a blog recently was about the tasting boxes from Hotel Chocolat.

I am already a fan of Hotel Chocolate! In fact, writing about my chocolate obsession on the blog is a good thing, because then friends use the blog to find out what my favourite box is and buy it for my birthday! Win!

So, as a chocolate lover, particularly when it comes to tasty treats from Hotel Chocolat, I was interested to discover that they have a tasting club.

What’s even better is that you get your first box cheaper – I paid £9.95 instead of the £22.95 that it usually costs. This wasn’t an affiliate code and I believe it is open to any customer on their first box, though of course it’s best to check first as the terms on the site may change.

You can choose from five different boxes – classic, mellow, fortified, high cocoa, and rare and vintage. We went for the mellow box with no alcohol.

We received around 25 chocolates, including one large slab. The idea was that S and I share them, but as he had to go away on a business trip and the box was left on my desk, that didn’t quite work out as planned and there wasn’t one of each type left when he got back!

I won’t list everything, but my favourites were Sicilian orange, raspberry, and lemon and lavender. The chunky chocolate slab was also great. I think salt and chocolate or salt and caramel just shouldn’t be a thing, but it’s still chocolate, so I just left them till last! Seriously though – salt doesn’t belong in chocolate … ever!

If you want to contribute your opinions, you can either use the form that’s provided in the box, or vote online. The form can either be posted back, or you can send them a picture of it once you’ve filled it in. This isn’t a very accessible way to do it for me though, so I was glad to see that you can also submit your answers online. Unfortunately, I left it too late to do this for my box. I have logged in and can find the form, but it’s for the next box, which hasn’t arrived yet. Still, the form is well-labelled and I will be able to complete it as an access technology user. For each type of chocolate, you choose how many stars you want to give it and can add your comments in a text field under the name of each chocolate.

Of course I still needed help to identify each chocolate, but I expected this when I ordered it.

Being a club member also entitles you to other things such as 5% off other orders and special things in the shop such as an exclusive deal on the extra thick Easter eggs. Of course this too will change as the site is updated, but you get information with your box about any special offers.

If you don’t want one of these boxes every month, you can snooze it as long as the box hasn’t already been sent out.

I think it’s a nice thing for us to do together as apart from the big block, there were two of everything. It’s not an “I need a chocolate fix now!” kind of box, but if you want to take your time and savour some different flavours – on your own or with someone else – I think it’s an interesting way to do it either every month, or once in a while. We have to be a bit careful with food boxes or tasting clubs because of my allergies, but the things that I’m allergic to aren’t usually found in chocolate!

I think this would also be an ideal gift for a chocolate lover if you want the gift to keep giving over several months.

You can find out more about the tasting club on the Hotel Chocolat website.

Listen to the podcast episode

I’ve also produced a podcast episode about my Hotel Chocolat subscription box. You can look for Unseen Beauty on Apple podcasts (previously known as iTunes), or wherever you get your podcasts. Alternatively, you can listen to it here:

More from Unseen Beauty

If you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually twice a week, you can sign up using this form.

The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.

Jan 18 favourites – Torak, tea creatures, and my new chair

So, it’s time to talk about all the things that I have been enjoying this month. Let me know in the comments if you have tried any of these things, or if you’ve written a similar post for January!

1. Haircare set

There are a number of Christmas presents in this list. The first is the Little Treats haircare set from Cowshed. I hadn’t tried any of their haircare products, and I liked these little minis because I got to try the cowlick shampoo, the saucy cow conditioner, and the wild cow shower gel. There’s a set for the body too, ideal if you want to try out some of the products without committing to full size. All Cowshed products are free from animal ingredients and the brand does not test on animals.

2. My new chair

I saw one of these chairs when visiting a friend and my Mum got me one for Christmas. The chair has no back, and you sit on it with your knees resting on a tilted cushion in front of you, so your legs bear part of your weight. The idea with the chair is that it is good for your posture because it makes you sit up straight. You shouldn’t sit on it all day, but I’ve put it at my desk next to my office chair and spend a couple of hours on there, mainly when I’m doing paperwork and not on video conferences with customers. My posture when I’m with customers tends to be ok because they can see me, but I do have a tendency to curl up on my office chair, sitting on my legs, and this new chair will make sure that I don’t do that!

3. L’Occitane bubble bath

I always have bubbles in the bath and a lot of the time go for my old favourite – Radox – but sometimes it’s nice to have a special treat! This lavender bubble bath from L’Occitane is lovely for when you want to rewind after a long day. It gives a generous amount of foam and if lavender isn’t your thing, they do different ones such as shea and verbena as well.

4. Bloggers!

If you’ve been following the blog, you know I did Blogmas last year. This meant I also followed a number of other people doing Blogmas, which meant we were all doing quite similar content because it was Christmas-related. Now the festivities are over, it’s interesting to see the other content that these bloggers are putting out, giving me plenty of other stuff to read!

5. Torak!

Do you know who Torak is? If you read my Let us howl post, you might, because in that post I introduced all the wolves at the wolf sanctuary near Reading. Earlier this month, Torak got out of his enclosure, it’s believed because his enclosure was damaged by the wind. I was worried for his safety as there was no guarantee that he’d be captured safely, especially not with the sensationalist headlines that some media outlets were using. In thee end, there was a happy ending and someone from the wolf sanctuary was able to slip a lead on him and walk him home. I hope this event will be used positively to educate people about wolves. He wasn’t out on the prowl looking for an unsuspecting child to snack on. He didn’t even help himself to lunch when he walked through a field of sheep. Some of the ideas about “big bad wolves” from our fairytales need to be challenged so that people understand wolves are of course wild animals that need to be respected, but not something to be pursued or hated. Game of Thrones and the dire wolves have helped, but there is still a way to go.

6. Tea creatures

Am I the only person who had never heard of a manatee? Well, I know what they are now because of a tea gift. If you like loose-leaf tea (my favourite is mango) and want something cute to sit on your cup, there is a whole range of rubber friends who can infuse your tea for you and make sure that none of the tea leaves get into your cup. I was given the manatee but since then I’ve bought him some friends – the hedgehog, the elephant, and the sloth! The idea is that you put the tea inside the creature, which comes in half. Fit it back together, hang it off the side of your mug by its leg hooks, and just lift it off when it’s brewed long enough. I usually set them to drain, then take them apart and empty them out when they’ve cooled down. They’re practical, but cute as well!

7. Cleanse and polish

I’m very late to the party with this, but for Christmas one of my friends got me the Liz Earle cleanse and polish kit. I can’t link to it, because it’s the festive one with orange extract, which I think I would actually prefer to the normal one. It’s a hot cloth cleanser, so you massage the cleanser on to your skin, then remove it, along with excess oil and dirt, with a muslin cloth that’s been soaked in warm water. I don’t usually use wash-off cleansers, but I like this in the bath!

8. Chocolate!

I was surprised and happy when, for the first time, some of my friends had the idea of using my blog as inspiration for what to buy me and I was given the Hotel Chocolat fruity treats and lemon drops that I’d been raving about in last year’s September favourites!

S’s grandma also thought of me when she saw this make-up set made out of chocolate! I think it’s the first time I’ve ever said “I’m going upstairs to eat my lipstick!” They were both kind thoughts!

9. Korres body milk

I have talked about this Korres pear and bergamot body milk before, but I was happy to get a sample size in a free beauty box from Amazon. These body milks are lovely they still moisturise the skin, but are lighter than body butters, and ideal for the summer – although I’ve already used up this sample!

The beauty sample box is usually £35, but if you spend £50 on selected beauty products from Amazon, it’s free. I know that sounds like a lot, but the two main drugstore websites are not very accessible to me as a screenreader user, and I get a lot of my standard bath, skincare, and haircare products directly from Amazon, because I don’t have accessibility issues there. So I got 8 sample products, some quite generous samples and more like travel-size products, for free! There’s only one that I won’t use – the mud mask – but everything else will be showing up in favourites or empties posts. I think that’s more fair than doing one post on the box because I want to test things out first rather than just give my first impressions.

But the body milk is great!

10. Cherries!

One final L’Occitane product for this month, and this was also something from a Christmas gift set. I am usually a bit careful with things that are described as floral, but this cherry blossom scent is more cherry than blossom! I actually got a mini that is smaller than this, but the one I got doesn’t seem to be available to buy individually.

So, what have you been enjoying this month? Let me know in the comments!

More from Unseen Beauty

If you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually twice a week, you can sign up using this form.

The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping deals or discounts that I think my readers might like.

This post contains some affiliate links, but I only promote things that I’ve tried and tested.

Shopping without sight – my online shopping experience at the Chocolate Emporium

This is the first article in a new series that I’ve started on the blog.

I love shopping! In many ways, online shopping is really practical when you are blind. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy going round the shops with my friends, but if I want something without the assistance of friends or people working in the shops, online shopping is ideal. Even more so seeing as I work from home and can take in the deliveries.

There’s only one problem though – not all shops design their websites in a way that makes it easy for blind people to use them. Some common problems are:
1. Links, pop-up login boxes, or page elements such as date pickers that can only be activated using a mouse – which is a problem if you don’t use a mouse.
2. Unlabelled graphics – I’m not talking about not having nice labels for your images, although these are useful. No I mean when all the buttons are labelled as “button” because the designer thought everyone would get the idea from the graphic on the button. That’s a problem when you can’t see the graphic.
3. Inadequate descriptions of products so it’s hard to know what you’re buying if you can’t see the picture.

The last one is less about web design, but it doesn’t make me want to come back to a site! Points 1 and 2 are the worst, which is why I do a lot of my shopping on Amazon, because I don’t usually have these problems on the website or iPhone app.

Still, I wanted to talk about my experience of using other shops and in my “Shopping without site” series I’m going to set myself the challenge of buying something from different online shops.

It’s not going to be an in-depth analysis report as I would do if I were working with a brand, although if you are interested in a consultation on your site’s accessibility, you can find further details of this service on my contact information page.

No, this is an account of how easy the process was to select products, pay for them and get them delivered to me at home. Some sites are amazing. Others are terrible and I’ll never visit them again. Most are somewhere in the middle, with a lot of good points and one or two things that can be improved. I’m going to try and keep away from web design jargon that most people won’t understand – these articles are about the experience, what went well, and whether I encountered any problems. Mission fail is when I have to ask S to come and complete some part of the order because I couldn’t do it myself with the software that I use to read my laptop’s screen.

I thought I’d start with some chocolate from the Chocolate Emporium.

1. How easy was it to find things on the site?

Very easy. The keyword search facility worked well, and if you click on the chocolate shop, you can jump through the headings to see what chocolate selections they have, a bit like shelves in a shop.

2. How well were products described?

Very well. There are one or two paragraphs about each product when you click on to the product page.

3. How easy was it to put things in the basket?

This is where I had my first problem. On my first visit to this site, I ended up stacking my basket full of chocolates, going to pay for it, and then finding to my dismay that the basket was empty.
On most sites, you click “add to basket” and the item goes straight into your basket. On this site, a pop-up message appears about whether you want to add a free gift message or continue without adding one. This is immediately obvious to a sighted person, but in terms of the order in which my software reads things, the information from the pop-up message comes further down the page, past the information about the product I want to add and the recommendations for what else I might want. I totally missed it, and if you click off the page without setting your gift message preference, the item does not make its way into your basket.
The same happens if there is a question about what colour gift box you want. Because of this, use of such pop-up messages makes it harder for a screenreader user to use the site.

Now I know that it’s there, I know to look for it and make my choice. So it’s not inaccessible, because I can do it, but it does take points away from the user experience because the first time I used the site, I had to go back and add everything again. I wanted the chocolate, so I had the motivation, but if I had been less bothered about the products, I may have given up on it.

A way to fix this would be to make the gift box colours a second drop down box before you click the “add to basket” button. We already have a dropdown list for the size of box that you want. Perhaps the gift message options could come later when you’re about to check out. If both of these things were done, adding something to the basket would not require this second step that screenreader users are likely to miss.

4. How well were buttons labelled?

I didn’t have any problems with button labels. However the label for the basket is “The Chocolate Emporium – Lindt Lindor UK and USA pick and mix – Ghirardelli, Godiva, Monty Bojangles chocolates to buy online – account basket” and really “basket” would be sufficient!

5. Could every control be activated without a mouse?


6. How easy was it to pay for the goods?

Once I’d got to my basket and clicked the checkout link, there was another of those messages further down the page. This time it was asking whether I wanted to add an additional chocolate bar. You can’t get to the next page unless you answer the question. There is a check-out button, which doesn’t appear to do anything – you have to click the no thanks button if you want to move on.

7. Can you complete the whole shopping process without sighted help?

Yes. There are some sites where I really can’t finish the order on my own, but with this site, now that I know how it works and what to look out for, I can do it and get as many chocolates as my heart desires!

8. What do you think of the goods?

I bought 3 things this time – a lemon chocolate bar, a lime chocolate bar and some coffee truffles. I really like the variety of different chocolates on this site. As someone who likes fruit and coffee chocolates, there is a good selection of things that you won’t find in the shops, and this is a good reason for me to come back. Also, Lindt chocolate is amazing!

I think my favourite this time is the lemon bar – it has a lemon cream type centre.

The lime bar is thinner and the lime is actually in the chocolate, rather than a cream centre. I will always be happy about coffee chocolate!

9. Overall how good was the experience for a screenreader user?

I’d say that overall, I could get what I wanted using my screenreader and there wasn’t anything that I couldn’t access because I don’t use a mouse. Questions and tick boxes appearing further down the page for me as a screenreader meant that the site wasn’t particularly intuitive and I could imagine less confident blind internet users getting annoyed with it. It certainly frustrated me initially.

I will continue to use this site now that I know to scroll down and check that I don’t need to answer any questions before going on to my next purchase.

10. How accessible were newsletters or other communications from the brand?

This is often another problem area because companies use newsletter software that doesn’t produce accessible newsletters, but that wasn’t a problem I had with the Chocolate Emporium. Their links and graphics were well labelled, and I could read exactly what was on offer and how to get my newsletter subscriber discount code.

Have you bought anything from this site? If so, what would you recommend?

More from Unseen Beauty

If you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually twice a week, you can sign up using this form.

The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping deals or discounts that I think my readers might like.

This is not a sponsored post. I paid for and ate most of the chocolate myself!

Blogmas day 10 – gifts for coffee lovers

Some ideas for what you can buy the coffee lover in your life!

So, yesterday was a festive day for us – shopping in town and baking Christmas biscuits. I wasn’t so impressed with the cookie cutters I bought, but we ended up with almond Christmas trees and cinnamon hearts.

Gifts for coffee lovers

Maybe you know someone who’s always got a cup of coffee on the go, or who likes to try new and different types of coffee? If so, here are some ideas for a perfect gift for them.

1. Skincare

Those who have been following my blog for a while will already have seen my skincare for coffee lovers post. Basically I was looking for skincare that wasn’t your usual coffee scrubs. Some of the best things I found were:

A coffee lover’s lip balm gift set with 3 moisturising lip balms in Americano, Latte and Mocha.
Anatomicals Java Lather shower gel – it’s called a body cleanser, but it’s really a body wash for the bath or shower and it smells amaaazing!

2. Mugs

If you’re going to have a cup of coffee, you need a nice mug. Try to think about the person’s likes and find something that ties in with that. I got this 3d owl mug > for my birthday and I love it.

Alternatively you could find something with a funny saying on it. I don’t have this don’t talk to me until this mug is empty coffee mug, but it would suit me!

If your friend likes ground coffee, but doesn’t always have access to a coffee machine, you could get them one of these infuser mugs. I got one last Christmas and it’s great for a single cup of coffee or loose-leaf tea.

3. Clothing

If you know someone well enough, why not get them some comfy winter pyjamas? Your coffee-loving friend might like this one that I bought today with coffee and chill printed on it. I also like these because they are true to size – there’s nothing worse than buying pyjamas and finding they came up too small.

I also have this All I need is a cup of coffee owl t-shirt.

4. Food and drink

These coffee chocolates from the Chocolate Imporium are among the best coffee chocolates I’ve tasted and I would definitely recommend them!

I tried this hazelnut coffee at a friend’s house, and Whittard of Chelsea does a wide range of speciality coffees if you’re looking for something a bit different.

One year a friend got me a box with different types of coffee to try from around the world. I can’t find the one I got, but this selection box is similar, with coffee from Mexico, Brazil, Honduras, Peru, and Kenya.

5. Postboxed gifts for coffee lovers

You may remember that I did a review on Postboxed a company that specialises in gifts that fit through the letterbox, so you don’t have to worry whether the recipient is at home. Postboxed has a couple of gifts for coffee lovers too:

This coffee towel is printed with an infographic that tells you how to make different kinds of coffee drink.

A bar of roast espresso chocolate for the chocolate-loving coffee drinker.

11 coffee shops in London that you must not miss is a small book with notes and colour photographs for coffee lovers who live in or plan to visit London.

You can buy these things individually, or put them together in a gift box. If the items you select won’t fit in one letterbox-friendly box, they will be packed into two and sent off at the same time.

Let me know if you have any other good ideas for coffee lovers!

Christmas tree in Stockholm

The calendars

So, what was behind your door no. 10?

L’Occitane – today I got another bar of soap, this time the Verbena scent. I know I was a bit underwhelmed about the last soap, but I put it out in the bathroom yesterday and it’s actually really nice!

M&S – Formula Innovate radiance reveal peel. I was a bit worried about this because I don’t like those masks that you have to pull off along with half your face!But this has to be rinced off with warm water, so I don’tthink it’s one of those. I haven’t tried anything from this brand before, so I’ll give it a go later today.

Question of the day

Today’s question – do you send Christmas cards?

I used to, but I haven’t done so for about 10 years now. When I was a child, I used to write my messages in Braille and my Nan wrote underneath them so that people could read them. When I was a bit older and not living with my Nan, I printed out labels with the addresses and messages, but it became too much hassle trying to remember what was on each label that I couldn’t read. Now it would be a bit easier because there are text recognition apps for blind people to use on their smartphones, but I decided instead to do something for the environment and just contact or message the people whom I wanted to wish a happy Christmas!

How about you? Do you send out Christmas cards?

Would you like Unseen Beauty News emails!

If you’d like me to email you twice a week with information about what’s new on the site, and other things that I have been enjoying, you can sign up using this contact form.

This post contains some affiliate links.

Blogger swap box from the cozy den

Find out what happened when I arranged a blogger swap box with new friends from Germany!

If you read my November favourites post, you will know that I did a blogger swap box with some new blogging friends. Today I’m going to tell you about it!

I met Sazzy and Joanie (S & J) from the the Cozy Den blog in a blogging Facebook group. There are threads on most days where bloggers can share their work whilst supporting other bloggers. It’s a lovely little community.

Anyway, we got talking on my blog about the Yes To sheet masks, and I think it was S who said that they aren’t available in Germany. That’s when I thought about a blogger swap box – I could send S & J some products from the UK, including Yes To ones that weren’t available in Germany, and I could try out some new German products. Win win!

Happily they agreed, so we set our price limit for the box, agreed when we’d do it, and sent each other a bit of information about the kind of things we liked/avoided/really wanted!

When my box came, it was at the end of a tough week and just the right time for a pamper session! The box smelled amazing and between us S (oh dear that’s bad – now we have two S people), so my partner S read out the German labels to me and I translated them! Teamwork! Having a blind girlfriend gets my S into all kinds of beauty-related projects!

There were plenty of bathtime treats in there which is great, because I love pampering sessions and skincare, especially now that the winter is here. I’ve already used the trio, which were vanilla but had a fresh and zingy scent too! The pink grapefruit shower foam smells good enough to eat, and I’m looking forward to using the body lotion with orange blossom, and to relaxing with the bath salts, bath cube, and cute little bath melt!

I’ve also tried both of the face mask sachets –honey is good for your skin, and I love the scent of the tropical one, which contains pineapple and coconut. To be honest I’ve only ever done sheet masks, so it was fun to try something else!

Lip care is really important, especially at this time of year, and the minty lip care will see me through the winter.

I love trying new hand creams. The one in the box has avocado oil, aloe vera and chamomile in it.

I’m a bit of a pain to buy for in terms of make-up because I don’t use powder products, but they managed to find me an eye shadow crayon and two cream shadows. I haven’t tried these brands before and I was excited to add them to my make-up collection.

The one thing I asked for from Germany was Jogurette. If you don’t know what they are, then you’re missing out! They’re little individually wrapped chocolate fingers with strawberry yoghurt in the middle and they’re amazing! They’re also all gone!!! Sorry S, I’ll share most things but not Jogurette!

As well as the chocolate, there was some Lebkuchen and Speculazius – two types of yummy Christmas biscuits!

There were so many other lovely things in there that I haven’t had the chance to try them all yet. I really enjoyed both putting together S & J’s box with things I hoped they would like, and opening my own and trying out all the goodies that you can’t get on my local high street.

If you’d like to find out what was in S and J’s box from me, head on over to their swap box post on the Cozy Den.

Have you done a swap box before? If so, why not let us know about it, or link your blog/Youtube video in the comments?

Would you like Unseen Beauty News emails!

If you’d like me to email you twice a week with information about what’s new on the site, and other things that I have been enjoying, you can sign up using this contact form.

We tried out some Japanese chocolate and snacks

So, this is the part where S gets roped into helping on the blog – by eating chocolate! Good deal, isn’t it?!

I decided that I wanted to try out some Japanese sweets and snacks, so to make it a tiny bit more objective, I bought up a bunch of stuff from Amazon and we had a taste test together – although not all at once! I was pleased to say that there were only a couple of things that I really didn’t like, and I enjoyed having the chance to munch on some new and unfamiliar snacks.

I was first introduced to Japanese food when a Japanese student, who soon became my friend, came to study at my school for 9 months when I was in year 12. She brought different things for us to try, such as seaweed and some cute little biscuit bears with chocolate in the middle!

So I was keen to see what else was available online – Amazon makes all things possible!

I bought two packs – one which was just different types of Japanese KitKat, and the other one was snacks. Actually I just thought they were sweets, but when it arrived, there was a mixture of sweet and savoury stuff in there. You don’t have to choose exactly what you want because you are given a random mixture each time, though no two things were the same.

There was no English on the packets, so it really was a lucky dip, unless you find the same picture on the internet with English descriptions – S did manage this for a couple of things, and he recognised some of the words. However, if you have an allergy and are used to checking ingredient lists before you eat things, this won’t be a good idea for you. It did concern me a bit, but my allergies aren’t life-threatening so I just did it at home with S so I could be comfortable if I didn’t feel great. I was fine, but I wouldn’t recommend that people with allergies do this!


We got a pack of 14 Japanese KitKats. I didn’t measure them, but they’re minis, so you get two little fingers in each pack, or one of them just had one, like a mini KitKat chunky.

My favourites had to be the green tea ones. I’d never thought of chocolate and green tea before, but they went well together! I would buy those again. The sake (a type of alcoholic drink made with rice) KitKat with white chocolate was good too.

The only one I didn’t really like was made with some kind of nuts, and I’m not a fan of any kind of nutty chocolate, so that was to be expected. Still, I was happy that only one of the bars had nuts in it.

There were a couple that tasted like the KitKats you can buy here – a milk one and a plain one. They weren’t quite the same though, so as well as the packaging being different, there must be different ingredients in the chocolate too. The wafer in the plain one tasted less sweet than the ones you can buy in the UK. There was also a white chocolate one that must have had something else mixed in with it – I like white chocolate, but this one was very sweet.

There was also a mint one – yum yum! I do like a good bit of mint chocolate!

Another interesting taste was the ginger chocolate – I do wish we could have more experimental flavours in the UK. Ok you can find them if you know where to look, but you don’t get things like that in standard chocolate bars.

Finally I need to mention the strawberry one, because I’m a fan of fruity chocolate!


So these were the snacks that I originally thought were just sweets – but they were actually a mixture of 20 sweet and savoury snacks. Here are some of the highlights although in some cases, I can’t tell you exactly what they were!

There was a packet with small, square snacks like rice crackers. I like the rice cracker idea, but I found these a bit salty. In fact, I’d say that about a lot of the savoury things, but then I’m not a fan of salty snacks in general.

There were a number of Umaibo – like long, thin, crunchy rolls made of puffed corn, which come in a variety of flavours:

Tonkatsu sauce – this was sweet and zingy – I could taste the vinegar!
Mentai – marinated roe of Pollock. I would eat these at a party or something, but not being a massive fish lover, I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy them!
Pizza – I could definitely taste the pepperoni or barbecue sauce
Green salad – this really tasted like slightly spicy whatsits!

We had a bag of some kind of cereal balls with something like tomato or prawn cocktail flavouring – a bit like skip-flavoured whatsits!

The only thing I couldn’t finish was the squid, but I really don’t like most seafood and some fish. Still, I gave it a go!

The other thing that I wasn’t particularly fond of but which I did manage to finish was the dried fish sticks. They tasted a bit like cardboard until you started to chew, and very fishy!

The first sweet thing I tried was the Daifuku – this was good, but we only got one, so I tried to tear it in half! It’s like a cross between a jelly sweet and a marshmellow, with a strawberry filling inside. I could definitely eat more of those!

There was a tasty star shaped chocolate infused wafer.

My favourites were some tasty, sweet cracker things, softer than rice cakes and a bit thicker than crisps. They were slightly sweet and tasted a bit like waffles!

There was one salty dried plumb – dried plum = good, salty dried plum = not good!

There was something like a boiled strawberry sweet – nice enough, but only one in a packet? It wasn’t very big!

Who remembers flumps? There was something that looked like a larger one of those, as well as a bag of teeny tiny marsh mellows!

There was a card with some chocolate-filled sweets that looked a bit like smarties, but you had to push them out of the plastic in the same way that you would headache tablets! Interesting packaging, but the sweets were good!

How about you?

Have you tried any of these things? If so, what did you think of them? Have you had any taste testing boxes from other countries? Let me know in the comments!

Never miss another post!

If you’d like me to email you when new posts come out, usually once or twice a week, you can sign up using this contact form.

(This post contains some affiliate links, but all views are my honest opinions.)

Postboxed – gifts that will fit through the letter box so you don’t have to worry

My review of Postboxed – gifts that slide through the letter box so the recipient doesn’t need to be at home to get them.

We’ve all been there – you are expecting the postman to bring you something nice, only to find one of those “sorry you weren’t at home” cards which means you’ll either have to go and collect it, arrange a redelivery, or hunt around for where it might have been slung.

One of the benefits of working from home is the ability to indulge in my online shopping habit and know that I’ll be in most of the time to take in the delivery. In fact, our usual postman knows me quite well by now! He even waits for me while I make a mad dash for it down the stairs, whereas some of the other delivery drivers are already halfway back to the gate by the time I open the door.

Of course even I get caught out sometimes. It’s usually the parcel delivery companies. I had a note to say that the parcel was either on my property or with one of the neighbours – massively helpful, particularly when you’re blind! In the end I enlisted the help of my sighted partner, but even he didn’t see it straight away because it had been chucked behind the wheelie bin. I guess I should count myself lucky it wasn’t in the bin – my Nan once had that happen to her new jacket.

Anyway – enough moaning – the reason I’m telling you this is because I recently discovered Postboxed, a new gift service that takes away the problem of the recipient needing to be in, because all of their gift packages fit through the letter box.

I think this is a great idea for 3 reasons:

  1. You don’t need to worry about your friend being in (I’ve had cryptic conversations about whether I’d be in on a certain date because flowers were coming)
  2. The gifts are packaged for you – so there are no trips to the post office (really handy for my business now that Christmas is coming up – I believe they even ship internationally)
  3. you can either put your own box together or choose from one of the themed boxes that have been put together with specific types of people in mind (coffee lovers, cyclists, women, gin lovers etc).

I decided to order two boxes to try them out.

Firstly, S and I enjoy cooking spicy food, so I got the foodie matchboxes for us to try some serious chilli! You get 3 match boxes. The first contains a bottle of the 2014 chilli world champion, Carolina Reaper chilli powder and some very, very spicy chocolate! In the second matchbox, there are four of the world’s most expensive spices: 1 jar of sargol Persian Saffron, 1 jar of premium Madagascan Vanilla, 1 jar of true Ceylon Cinnamon, and 1 jar of fragrant Indian Cardamom. I haven’t used all of them yet, but I put the cinnamon into a meat dish and it was very good. The 3rd box contains 1 jar of Scorpion Moruga (2,000,000 SHU) chilli powder (the current World Champion), 1 jar of Scorpion Butch T (1,500,000 SHU) chilli powder, 1 jar of 7 Pot (1,300,000 SHU) chilli powder, and 1 jar of Ghost powder (1,000,000 SHU) (Naga Bhut Jolokia) chilli powder. No, I hadn’t heard of them either, apart from the ghost chilli, but they are some of the hottest chilli powders in the world. Yes, the bottles are tiny to fit in the matchbox, but believe me, you really don’t need much! I used just one of them to make a batch of spicy meatballs, which we really enjoyed, but I wouldn’t have needed any more. Tip – the little jars are well-packed with cute little corks, so if the powder doesn’t all come out when you open it, get something thin and pointy like a bamboo skewer to make sure you don’t waste any.

If you have food lovers in your life who like it hot, I think this makes a really interesting and original gift.

The other box I got was one that I put together myself. There was a box for chocolate lovers, but I am not a fan of salt and chocolate together. This box was slightly larger because I ordered four bars of chocolate, but I read that if you put too much in your box, the order will be sent in two letterbox-friendly boxes. My boxes didn’t come through the letter box because the postman had a bunch of other stuff for me, but I measured them afterwards and they would have fit.

Anyway back to the chocolate! I got things that I’d never heard of before because I was intrigued and wanted to try them. So there was some roast espresso chocolate, honey milk chocolate, lavender chocolate, and orange, geranium and lemon chocolate.

The bars work out at around £5 per bar, but you are getting good quality chocolate, and the bar is a fair size too.

I learned by this that you should never judge a bar by its name. I fully expected the coffee to be my favourite, as I’m a lover of all things coffee, but actually it was the lavender that I liked most. I was really surprised by this. I mean, lavender is something you put in the bath or you use lavender oil before going to bed, but I never knew that you could put it in chocolate too and that it would taste so good! The coffee bar was good too, although I think I would have preferred a bit more coffee in it. I’d never had honey chocolate before and I would definitely get it, and the orange and lemon one, again. I was a bit worried about the geranium in the latter, but it tasted more citrusy, and not as though I were eating flowers!

From an accessibility point of view, I could browse products and place my order myself, without getting frustrated or needing to ask for sighted assistance because of inaccessible design, something which access technology users can’t take for granted. This good user experience is another reason why I would return.

So, if you’re looking for an unusual gift now that Christmas is coming up, or maybe you’d like to treat a special someone, you’ll find plenty of variety on Postboxed. I went for the foodie options, but there are also books, tea towels with information about particular topics of interest, alcohol, tea, socks, and jewellery to name a few other options.

The boxes were not PR samples, which means I paid for the products myself, but as I was so happy with the service and the quality of the products, I have become an affiliate, so the links are affiliate links.

So, have you heard of or used this service before? What do you think of this idea? Let me know in the comments!

Never miss another post!

If you’d like me to email you when new posts come out, usually once or twice a week, you can sign up using this contact form.