Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: review (page 2 of 4)

Review – Braun CoolTec

It would seem that I am fast becoming the authoritative voice on male grooming in the parent blogging community. First there was the Braun series 3 shaver, then there was the premium toiletries from RockFace and now the latest in electric shavers from Braun. Let’s be honest it’s no surprise that these brands are looking to me to test these things out, I have that rugged but classy look going on that all the top models do these days. Now I’m just waiting for a spa to offer me the chance to try out some treatments for men, I know my poor battered running feet would appreciate that.

Braun CoolTecI’ve never really been an electric shaver kind of guy, but using the Braun Series 3 shaver got my interest, it didn’t quite cut as well as a wet shave but it did mean I could shave in the shower. I’ll be honest more and more I’ve been using the Braun rather than my trusty razor; I run most mornings and being able to stand in the shower a bit longer with the excuse of shaving is most welcome. So I was intrigued when Braun offered to send me their latest shaver, the CoolTec (in sexy white), which of course they claim is ‘new and improved’.

Specifically ‘new and improved’ refers to the CoolTec technology which as the name suggests is designed to cool your face as you shave. One of the downsides of not having a wet shave is you have no shave gel to lubricate your skin as you shave and so your skin can get irritated. I have found this with the Series 3, especially when not shaving in the shower, so was interested to see if it really made a difference.

Braun CoolTec bladesI’ve used this shaver for a week now and I have to say I’m impressed, the CoolTec takes the form of a bar between the 2 cutting elements and it really does make your skin feel cold. It does a really good job of cooling your skin and reducing any irritation as you shave. You can turn it off if you want using a button on the side, I’ve tried this a few times when shaving to compare the difference and every time I turn it back on again, it just feels better with it on.

The acid test of course is whether I would give up my shave gel and disposable razor to use the Braun CoolTec permanently? Almost, I think 90% of the time I’ll use the Braun but sometimes only a wet shave will do, I don’t think an electric shave cuts quite as close and smooth. It’s pretty close but not quite, which is fine most days, it’s also better than a razor when I’ve not shaved for 3-4 days (over a weekend for example) and cuts that long stubble really well.

Also one final tip I discovered, I now use the RockFace face scrub most mornings and have found using this before using the shaver gives a better cut. I think it’s because the scrub leaves a bit of the minerals in it on your face and helps create a bit of friction for the shaver. Certainly seems to cut better than if my face is just wet.

Rockface toiletries review

There really couldn’t be a better person than me to review toiletries from a company called Rockface could there? You know because I’m all rugged and manly. No? Well at the very least my feet are like a rock face from all the running I do. However I’m a tough audience to convince when it comes to toiletries, my wash bag contains deodorant, E45 moisturiser and an electric razor. That’s it. I even wrote a blog post about it a couple of years ago for Listography and nothing has changed in my washing routine since. So when the parcel turned up with 5 different bottles in it I was a little confused, why exactly do I need 2 different types of moisturiser and is shower gel not a kind of face scrub anyway? But you must have an open mind when it comes to change right? So I persevered and for the last couple of weeks I have been diligently using my collection of potions.

RockFace toiletries

Alas they haven’t magically made me look 10 years younger or for that matter tough and rugged but I have actually quite enjoyed taking a little bit more care of my skin. I received shave gel, face & body scrub, post shave balm, all weather moisturiser and active body spray. All have a similar fragrance which is pleasant, event the lady of the manor commented on it so must be ok, but not too strong or overpowering.

I’ll be honest and say that I haven’t really used the active body spray as I find I’m quite sensitive to deodorant so have stuck to my usual one. But all the others have been well used. I really liked the shave gel, it certainly resulted in a nice shave you only need a small amount so lasts a long time. I also have used the face scrub a lot, given all the running I do I’m always conscious of keeping my skin clean from the sweat and using this means I feel clean and fresh.

Those 2 I would consider buying myself but the moisturisers I’m not so sure. They work fine but for me I don’t think I’d bother with 2 moisturisers and I prefer the slightly thicker E45 I use now both for general use and post shave. Might just be my skin type but that’s one thing I think I’d keep simple for now. I’m interested in trying out their shave butter at some point though, it sounds like a really interesting product and I think could be better than a traditional gel to use.

If you’re interested in finding out more or buying some of the Rockface products you can find all the details on their website here.

Review: Hampergifts

Ok, so you may be sensing a bit of a trend on here recently with my reviews. They have mainly involved someone offering me some food related item to review and then you having to endure my photos of said food item which is of course delicious and makes you jealous.

Green boxed hamperWell unfortunately for you today is no different for you see I have a rather nice hamper from Hampergifts to share with you. Hampergifts do a wide range of Christmas hampers online along with many other types of hamper. They are an independent, family run company in the UK

The hamper I received was already open and part eaten by the time I got home from work. The lady of the manor having taken a fancy to the shortbread biscuits she’d spotted in the top. So you’re lucky that I actually had anything to photograph other than an empty hamper, although perhaps she may have left the wine given that she was home alone with the children!

Hamper contentsI like that the hampers aren’t all in the traditional wicker baskets which can feel a little twee at times. The box style container mine came in is a nice touch and works well given the contents and looks a little less extravagant.

We loved our hamper, the children helped us with eating the flapjack of course, but we kept the wine and chocolates for a little treat in the evening. I really like hampers as a gift, they’re perfect for someone you struggle to buy for because let’s face it everyone likes food and you can just choose contents that fit with their tastes.

BTW in case you were wondering the apples and apricots in a violet syrup go excellently with some vanilla ice cream.

Review; Hornit cycle horn

Disclosure: I was sent this product free of charge, all words and opinions are my own.

When something claims to be the worlds loudest/biggest/best my first reaction is cynical “yeah yeah whatever great marketing talk”, then scientific “ok then, prove it” if it’s really is the loudest/biggest/best then no doubt you have a scientific study to prove. I’m sure in most cases there is some small print somewhere like you get on cosmetics saying that 11 people were surveyed and they agreed.

Hornet bike hornBut I can tell you that this bike horn is LOUD and that’s coming from a dad to 2 toddlers who think that screaming at the top of their voices is the funniest thing ever.

Actually they think screaming at the top of their voices is the second funniest thing ever, the funniest thing ever is telling daddy AGAIN when he pushes the button to sound this horn. Hilarious apparently. Now I don’t mind doing this when on a bike ride in the middle of the Scottish Highlands with only the squirrels and deer to to annoy but not so sure about a peaceful English village.

The horn is incredibly easy to install on your bike, you just put the bracket over you handlebars and then use the key to tighten it down. It has a button that you fix close to where your hands sit on the handlebar so that whenever you need to sound the horn it’s in easy reach. There are 2 different sounds you can choose by simply pushing a small button on the back of the horn.

This horn may be less romantic sounding than a traditional bike bell but I can imagine that if you cycle in traffic a lot or in noisier areas it would be a lot more effective. Plus with the increasing amount of people walking dogs etc on tow paths and cycle paths wearing headphones it’ll be perfect for making them jump and get out the way.

So thumbs up from the kids and recommended if you want to scare the bejesus out of people as you cycle up behind them.

Review: The handpicked foodstore

Disclosure: This is a review post, I was sent the products free of charge but all views are my own

I’ve had a little flurry of food related review offers recently and quite honestly it’s rare that I say no when someone offers to send me food, especially when it involves a tasty bit of cheese.

The handpicked foodstore is right up my street, they ethically source the best food possible from predominantly UK producers and then deliver it direct to your door. The food that is stocked is chosen by a panel of experts and ranges from smoked salmon to oils and vinegars and even complete hampers.

Handpicked foodstore food

I choose to try the following to get the perfect ingredients for a supper with the lady of the manor, especially when combined with some of my sourdough bread and a glass of wine.

  • Lancashire Strong Bomb cheddar
  • MacGilvray Smoked Mackerel Pate
  • Trealy Farm Monmouthshire Air-Dried Fennel Salami
  • Ouse Valley Red Chilli Jelly

The cheese was awesome, strong but creamy which is a surprisingly difficult thing to pull off. The chilli jam had a nice kick to it without being too hot, also tasty with a bit of cold beef in a sandwich I discovered.

I’ve had fennel salami before so had high hopes for this one, it was really quite tasty, I love the combination of salty, peppery meat and then the aniseed taste of the fennel. Finally the pate was great on some toasted bread with a bit of lemon juice drizzled on top.

We spent a very happy 30 minutes munching away once the children were asleep, with lots of mmm’s and ahhh’s as we tried each thing. Such a treat to eat luxuries like this and was perfect as it came just before we went to Scotland so had a very empty fridge.

If you’re looking for some artisan products for yourself or to send a gift to a foodie friend then the handpicked foodstore is well worth a look. Oh and if you order over £75 it’s free delivery, you can get a lot of cheese for £75 *tummy rumbles in anticipation*.

Review; Tonka Town Fire Station

Opening the Tonka Town Fire Station

Henry and Matilda and obsessed with nee nars, I brought some pyjamas back from my last work trip to Oregon and Henry’s had a fire engine on them. Matilda demanded to wear them rather than her owl ones, the fact that they are now the same size averted that crisis.

So I was fairly certain that this fire station was going to be a big hit, but what I didn’t expect was the loud ooooo’s and even a WOW when I opened the package in front of them. To say they were excited was an understatement and they then spent the next 30 minutes playing quite happily together pushing the various buttons and zooming the fire truck.

Ultimately it’s a reasonably simple toy with not too many moving parts; the doors open and shut and there are a couple of buttons to press to make siren noises but that’s perfect. It means nothing to break and allows the child to use their imagination when playing with it. Playing with the Tonka Town Fire Station

I like that both the fire station and the fire engine are robust and have so far put up with being ‘played’ with by a rough and tumble little toddling boy who is anything but gentle. However I would point out that the box says 3 years plus, the only thing to be wary of with younger children is that the fireman’s hands and feet pull off. This I found out when I spotted Henry chewing them so the fireman was swiftly removed.

However that aside a big thumbs up for the Tonka Town Fire Station from both me and the monsters who have continued to play with it every day even once the newness excitement has worn off. We may even buy another of the fire engines which you can buy separately so that they have one each. Probably not the bigger one that makes noise though, there is only so much electronic sirens you can take in a day.

The Tonka Town Fire Station costs £39.99, there are also other toys in the range like a jail play set plus the associated vehicles which can be bought on their own for around £14.99.
Playing with the Fire Engine

Review – Zalando

No this isn’t a review of a long lost ABBA song, Zalando is in fact a rather nifty website and apparently the UK’s largest online wardrobe. Now my first reaction when this review opportunity dropped into my inbox was to see if the website also sold cycling clothing. You see I am not a shopping fan at all, in fact if I need new clothes I generally send the lady of the manor to buy things for me. There is one exception to that though and that’s buying sports gear. If I need new running or cycling clothing I will happily spend hours in a shop.

Zalando 2So as a result I very kindly let the lady of the manor test out Zalando and buy some clothes herself. Apparently she ‘has nothing to wear’ and ‘all my clothes are now too big’ which is strange given that her wardrobe is so full you can barely get the door shut. But I’ll take her word for it.

Now I will say from the start that she has really tested out the service from Zalando because of course most of the first order was returned as she didn’t like them and so we now know how the returns process works as well! Thankfully Zalando offers free delivery and returns as I’m not even sure we’ll be keeping the second order.

Zalando 1

From start to finish it has been an excellent experience, the site is incredibly easy to navigate and has a great clean look to it. The menus are clear and logical and you don’t have to spend hours hunting for what you want like on many sites.

I love that once you choose the category you want it gives you lots of options to filter the results. Both in terms of basic things like size, price and brand which sit on the top of the page but also in the sidebar you can click on the colour you want from little boxes of colour. Plus material, pattern and then specific options like collar type for shirts. This really gets you to the options that meet you needs and saves scrolling through many pages.

So what did she buy (the second time)? Well for the £100 we were given to spend she got a Noa Noa skirt (which apparently is good), a vest top, some Pier one shoes and a belt. I’m actually quite impressed that she didn’t just buy a single pair of shoes, a whole outfit for that much is sensible shopping.

The key question of course is will we use Zalando again? Absolutely, the site is a pleasure to use and service has been great both in terms of delivery and returns. Oh and in case you wondered they also have a good range of cycling clothing which may be making an appearance in my wardrobe someday soon.

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