Sunday, November 30, 2014

Christmas Gift Ideas for Him #2 - Starbucks Sprinkler & Mug

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas……yes, and it seems to come around each year quicker and quicker when you get to my age (yes, that is an attempt to garner some pity).

In the second of my Christmas gifts for him series we have the Starbucks Sprinkler & Mug - available from erm…Starbucks. They were available online from Boots but they seem to have disappeared off their website!

Costing just £12.50 the Sprinkler & Mug set looks the business in my opinion and comes with sachets of the House Blend Ground Coffee and much to my delight, Hot Cocoa Double Chocolate.



The ceramic mug is solid and well made (we love you China) a caffeine lovers dream, it is huge and the glass sprinkler is made from chunky glass and would look perfect/make it look like you are a coffee aficionado when your friends and family visit.

Some pictures of my set are below and I wouldn’t be offended if this came into my possession as a Christmas gift and hence why this is my second gift idea of the festive season.





RECOMMENDED


 
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Thursday, November 27, 2014

No stink, just ink - Southgate Ink and stage two of my full sleeve tattoo

It has taken a while but I finally got around to going back to Southgate Ink to talk through the remainder of my full sleeve tattoo and price up how much it would cost to finish.

People coming to this fresh can read about why I opted to go for a full sleeve tattoo to cover up older tattoos and my experience of the Southgate Ink studio by clicking here. Today I’m going to be writing about stage two, from my elbow down the front of my forearm.

Before I start a few pictures of my half sleeve are below to give an idea of where we started from recently.



Why the delay in going back you might ask? A few reasons mainly, money is obviously a factor at £80 per hour for a complex tattoo means that the remainder will cost in the region of £800. The second is that the original tattoo artist left the studio earlier in the year and I’ve been nervous about making sure the colours and shading match up. The last thing I want is a two tone arm!

As the remainder is on my forearm it is incredibly difficult to sketch up a design, instead I provided a few pictures to the studio and then visited to see what they had come up with.


I booked in for a three hour sitting with Luca, the new tattooist at Southgate Ink. He showed me the design he had sketched of a large stone work face as I had asked and we had a general discussion how we could fill in the gaps later with stonework before we set about inking.

Prior to starting my arm was completely shaved (I never realised how cold a bald arm could get), he rubbed down the skin with disinfectant and then a further wash. Not only this, Luca didn’t set up his needles until I had sat down so I could watch the fresh needles being removed from the packaging and placed into the guns (I’m calling them guns, I have no idea what to call them). I found this incredibly reassuring, especially as I had been reading lots of horror tattoo stories recently.

A few jokes aside - like him in broken English saying he had an eye condition while crossing his eyes and coming at me with a needle broke the ice and the transfer was placed onto my arm. 

The first part of the tattoo which dominates my upper arm and covers the original tattoos hurt a bit, more of a stinging which I could tolerate for hours on end while listening to the music choices of the owner. My forearm is clearly more sensitive and I have to say that I was in pain, uncomfortable pain from the moment he started. Not fun, but also not their fault. Luca sensed this and asked a few times if I was OK. Thoughtful but nothing could be done and we ploughed on.

Using a single needle to outline the tattoo and colour deep lines we moved onto the multi-needle to start the shading. Ouch, ouch and double ouch. 




While uncomfortable it wasn’t as though it was so bad I flinched (thankfully) and as we progressed the pain was replaced by a voice in my head mouthing ‘wow’ as the image started to come to life (no I wasn’t tripping) on my arm.

Three hours on the dot and it was finished. 



Excess ink was washed away, a further round of disinfectant wash was used and then cream and cling film was used. At the time the pain subsided and I walked through the aftercare with the owner of the studio before placing a deposit for the next stage on the rear of my forearm and some ideas for how to finish near my wrist.

I’m delighted with the tattoo from Southgate Ink, I love going to the studio and find that they are well priced for the level of detail I have asked for in my designs, nothing is too much trouble and finally, the studio is clean with hygiene being the order of the day.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, at Southgate Ink you get no nonsense service, honest opinions (they will refuse to undertake tattoos if they think they are unsuitable) and an inking that will blow you away.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Southgate Ink
96 Crown Lane
Southgate
London
N14 5PA

Telephone: 0208 920 2517

The studio is located just behind Southgate Underground Station on the Piccadilly Line.

You can see how the inside of the studio looked at the start of the year (it's been refurbished since), my design on the wall and shots of their sketches and tattoos by visiting the video here at Youtube and their page here on Facebook.

TOP TATTOO TIPS:

  • Don’t be rushed into having a tattoo – a good tattooist will not rush you;
  • Review the portfolio of the artist;
  • Ask for them to draw the design for them to trace;
  • Don’t let someone tattoo directly onto your skin without an outline;
  • Cleanliness cannot be understated – Southgate Ink was spotless and they cleaned around the clock;
  • Always make sure you see the tattooist unwrap fresh needles that haven’t been tampered with;
  • Always follow the aftercare instructions;
  • If you have even the slightest of doubts don’t do it – wait until you are 100% sure;
  • Relax and try to enjoy the experience.
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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Christmas Gift Ideas for Him #1 - Superdry Varsity Track T-Shirt

I own a few Superdry T-Shirts but was pleased to be offered one from the new Superdry Varsity Track range to try out for myself, and to attempt to style for an autumn look. Usually I find Superdry T-Shirts to be quite tight fitting no matter what size I buy which made me a bit self conscious, but the Varsity Track range seems to be a deviation from the norm.

The T-Shirt can be bought direct from Superdry for £24.99 here:

This is what Superdry say about the range:

‘Superdry men's Varsity Track t-shirt. Inspired by classic college sports design, this crew neck t-shirt features a rubberised chest print and is finished with a three-colour Superdry logo tab on the sleeve.’

I opted for Denver Blue Grit in colour and was a little taken aback when the parcel arrived. It came in a lovely, large Superdry box (which would make it easy to wrap) which made it look and feel just that little bit special (maybe I’m easily impressed).




First of all, it feels much softer than normal Superdry T-Shirts, it has an almost soft wool feel from the 50/50 Cotton/Polyester mix of the fabric making this not only a joy to wear in the comfort stakes but it also quite thick and warming. 

Everything is well stitched as you would expect and this is currently one of my favourites. I’ve taken a few pictures of yours truly attempting to style the T-Shirt. 



Personally, at the moment I’m struggling to find T-Shirts that I like for under £50, so to find something so comfortable for half the price means that I am happy. 

Perfect as a gift any at any time of the year, but that man in your life would be very happy if they unwrapped one of the lovely Superdry boxes this Christmas. 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ickle Baby Bot Bath Bomb by Lush

I’m not a child, well not in body but I make up for this by having the mental age of an eight year old and constantly mess around. I’m also a bit of a fidget, especially when it comes to settling down and sleeping at night. If it isn’t my chest making me cough, the voices in my head making me laugh or just general unease, in the words of the band Faithless - “I can’t get no sleep”.

Enter various products containing menthol to clear my chest and lavender to try and knock me out. The first of the products used to try and help ease me to sleep was the Ickle Baby Bot Bath Bomb by Lush.

This is what Lush have to say about their Ickle Baby Bot Bath Bomb:

‘A gentle lavender bath bomb to relax children before bedtime. This is a bath bomb designed to look after young children’s delicate skin, and is so gentle it’s suitable for babies over six months. Its aromatherapy oils also work to soothe irritable cherubs before bedtime. Lavender is a calming aromatherapy oil, used in traditional medicine to treat skin irritations, sunburn and insect bites.’ 

Unlike most bath bombs that look like and are the same size as a softball the Ickle Baby Bot actually is moulded to look like a robot. The child inside my head screams, that is soooo cool.


Ickle Baby Bot Bath Bomb
Source
At this point I would add photographs of it fizzing away in the bath but *cough* someone in their infinite wisdom decided to re-format the laptop and all of my images have been wiped. You’ll have to trust me on this one people. 

After being lobbed into the bath there is in my opinion a distinct lack of aroma - with other bath bombs its like a fragrance haze wafting from the water but Ickle Baby Bot is far more subtle. It doesn’t belt you in the face thankfully but you can pick up hints of lavender. My first thoughts were that this didn’t stand a chance of relaxing me and on further inspection of the water I couldn’t see any of the oils floating on the surface. Had I just lobbed the proverbial lemon into my bath?!?

Well yes and no. While the fragrance is subtle the longer you soak into the water the more you recognise it. Normally after exposure to a smell for a prolonged period I become used to it, but as this continuously alters you can tell its there but it is no way overpowering.

I soaked for an hour and again didn’t feel any of the oils in the water. After washing again my skin wasn’t that soft or smooth to the touch. It took about another hour after bathing for the full effects to come to the fore. Even though only mid afternoon I started to feel very relaxed and drowsy even after having a good nights sleep the night before. The following day my skin was very soft to the touch, so much more than usual.

Designed for small children and big adults with small brains (me) this ticks all of the boxes bar one. At £1.95 per bath I just think it’s a little too much when you can hardly ask a toddler for their feedback on the relaxing properties of the product.

I would recommend this for occasional use (if I had kids) but personally will veer away from this in future opting for the Lord of Misrule Bath Bomb. It has a stronger, more full bodied fragrance, can be broken in two to increase the value for money element and leaves my skin super silky soft.  

RECOMMENDED for kids....
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Monday, November 24, 2014

Birchbox Limited Edition Box for Men

Birchbox have put together a limited edition box for men and it has been cleverly designed so that every item within the box can be used to form part of the morning routine and there is even a little card to put you through your paces, though waking up at 7am is never ever going to happen for a bloke as lazy as me, unless I don't go to bed!


Birchbox for Men

Birchbox for men Contents

Birchbox Man contains seven items in total and I haven't come across any of the brands inside, so I am even more looking forward to trying them out.  Inside my box is the following:


Anthony Logistics High Performance Anti-Wrinkle Glycolic Peptide Serum (4ml) - This peptide-powered formula from Anthony Logistics works instantly to plump the skin's surface and diminish lines and wrinkles. AHA's (or alpha hydroxy acids to all you skincare whizzes!) also work to lift and hydrate the skin, leaving it smooth and rejuvenated.

To use - Simply apply a few drops to cleansed skin, massaging across the face and down the neck area. For best results use day and night.



Anthony_Logistics_Peptide_Serum

Gentlemen's Tonic Daily Moisturiser (50ml) - This moisture-packed tonic is said to be perfect for all skin types. Using a unique blend of ingredients, from mineral-rich seaweed and emollient Babassu oil to soothing birch and softening coco butter, work to boost hydration levels in a flash.

To use: Apply a small amount to the face and neck morning and night, being careful to avoid the eye area.


Gentlemen's Tonic Daily Moisturiser

English Laundry Notting Hill Atomiser (5ml)- English Laundry is described as having an evolving which initially opens with fresh, citrusy notes of bergamot and lime, and settles into a woody mélange of cedarwood and amber (with a spicy hint of peppercorn).

English laundry Fragrance

Noble Isle Lightning Oak Hair & Body Wash (30ml) or Fireside Bath & Shower Gel (30ml) Celebrating all that's great about the British Isles, luxury bath and body brand Noble Isle draws from the Scottish Highlands, English Country Gardens, Welsh Valleys and Irish Coast to create a collection that's locally sourced and ultra desirable. Its bath and shower gels take you on a journey which with the Summer Rising fragrance visits Cornish hedgerows to evoke elderflower, gooseberry, orange blossom and cut grass while Lightning Oak looks to Hertford Heath with its smoky wood aroma, plus bergamot and crushed pepper.

Noble Isle Lightning Oak Hair & Body Wash

Mazorin Face Scrub (150ml) - This scrub has been specifically designed with men’s needs in mind it lifts away impurities with a blend of bamboo and maracuia powder while white willow extract keeps grime at bay thanks to its antibacterial protection for a crystal clear complexion.

To Use: massage onto wet skin, avoid the eye area and then rinse with warm water.



Mazorin Face Scrub


Closed on Monday Deluxe Pomade (30ml) - Closed On Monday transforms the traditional grooming products for the modern times - as demonstrated perfectly by their Deluxe Pomade. Imbued with a sophisticated sandalwood and vetiver scent, its unique gel-pomade formula is lightweight yet will keep your style in place.

To use: Rub an ample amount between your hands until the pomade starts to soften then work through your hair from root to tip.



Closed on Monday Deluxe Pomade

Richer Poorer Socks - In an eye-catching orange and grey colour, these socks are cotton and worth a cool £12, probably the most expensive pair of socks I own!



Richer Poorer Socks

So there you have the very first Birchbox for Men Box.  I am really impressed by the contents, each sample is a good enough size that you can use it for a few weeks to gauge a well rounded opinion as to whether or not you would purchase the full sized product and it is a nice introduction to some new brands.  

I also think this would make a nice giftbox for Christmas for the man in your life, your brother, your dad or even a close male friend.  The box costs just £25 and you can find it HERE along with further information on each item within the box, or other items which are featured in other boxes.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ted Baker Hanging Fragrance Gifts

Ted Baker has an innovative approach to decorating your Christmas Tree this year with their new miniature hanging fragrance gifts* which would look amazing on any tree or as a stocking filler for that man in your life. 

There is a set for men and women - I'll be focusing on the male version. 

Each set comes in a pack of four individually wrapped 5ml fragrances - something to stick in the manbag if heading out for the night or smell so much you really need to mask your musk (that's a joke people).



The male fragrances include: 
  • XO Fresh, Green and Woody - Designed for the men who like the finer things in life. Fresh Green top notes lead to a heart of aromatic woods, red berries and ginger roots. Mixed with base notes of pink pepper and warm sensual spices.
  • X20 Spcy and Intense - Top notes of Tangerine, Tea and Cardamom with Lavender, Rosemary Spices and Violet Leaves and a base of Black Pepper, Sandalwood and Amber.
  • Skinwear: Enticingly Aromatic - Fresh zesty extracts of lime, bergamot and lemon are blended with notes of Rosemary, Cypress and Juniper with an enticing base of Sandalwood, Amber and Musk
  • M: Understated Sophistication - Top notes of Tonka Bean, Musk and Vertiver which are combined with Coriander, Amber and a rich Woody Base.

Not only do the tree hangers look great, after giving each access to my nose I'm pleased to report that they all smell great. Obviously fragrance is a very personal issue but if you like warm and earthy with hints of citrus and spice you will love these. 

Just launched at Debenhams a set of four will set you back £22, or you can pick them up for £6 each.

RECOMMENDED

*Where I come from in Manchester 'hanging or 'anging' is slang for awful. I do not use the term here to mean this for the avoidance of doubt!
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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Energising Face Wash

In the words of rock legends Metallica “Gimme fuel, gimme fire, gimme that which I desire, ooh!”.

No, this isn’t going to be one of those posts where I go off on a tangent, this post is about Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Energising Face Wash. Another of the products that came in my Selfridges&Co male beauty box.

The reason for the musical introduction is because I always find myself singing this Metallica masterpiece in the shower whenever I spot the bottle or use the product.

I received a 75ml bottle in my beauty box which normally sells for £8.50. A 250ml bottle can be bought online from Kiehl’s website here for £17.50.


Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Energising Face Wash


The Kiehl website doesn’t seem to go in for all the usual marketing fluff, but this is how they say it will do:

‘This effective “refuelling facial cleanser” helps protect skin from the effects of environmental aggressions and gives even dull, tired looking skin a fresher appearance.

Our efficient and energising facial cleanser thoroughly removes dirt, surface oil, and impurities without an over-frying effect. Formulated with Caffeine, Menthol, and Vitamin E - as well as invigorating Orange and Lemon extracts - its unique blend helps to refresh and waken skin.’ 

First of all, I tried this after a day and evening out in the polluted air of London so expected it to have a bit of grim to remove from my face. I was a little overeager when dispensing - you really don’t need a lot of the face wash as it lathers up brilliantly and stays cool and rich in texture.

Before moving on, I have to comment on the fragrance - considering the Menthol and citrus extracts you would expect quite a potent aroma with a power to slap you awake. Alas, this isn’t so, the Menthol is the overriding fragrance and you can detect the citrus but within minutes you forget that it’s there. Personally I like the fact that it is so subtle, particularly given the stripping power it has a grimy face!

After massaging the face wash into every inch of my face it was seconds before it hit me,, a strange, almost weird tingling sensation on my face. The bathroom was warm but my face felt ice cold. Awesome!

I massaged it into my face for around another minute until rinsing - I was frankly appalled with the colour of the water. Living in London with the pollution I am used to blowing my nose and finding soot in the tissue, but to see the murky water that greeted me made me feel dirty, indeed, I showered again.

Like using products similar to the Swisa Dead Sea Facial Peel, Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Energising Face Wash removes dirt and grime from the face, but also seems to go that extra mile and remove a layer of grim that other facial washes miss.

My skin was softer and smoother after washing using Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Energising Face Wash and when it came to shaving, after using for a few weeks my whiskers were much smoother.

Of the products I’ve tried from the Selfridges&Co beauty box to date this is by far and away the best. A little goes a long way and it delivers everything that it promises making this exceptional value for money. Include the weird tingling sensation on the face while washing and the fresh feeling it leaves 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Regal Gentleman - Taylor of Old Bond Street Coconut Luxury Shaving Cream

For the last couple of months my face has been rocking either stubble or a full blown beard. Not because I’m a trendy hipster, no, its because I hate shaving and am generally the most lazy person you will ever find….EVER (that‘s a guarantee folks).

When approached by any shaving people I always jump at the chance to try new things and regularly seek out new products to try. When Regal Gentlemen asked me to try a new product they were stocking I jumped at the chance to compare Erasmic with Taylor of Old Bond Street Coconut Luxury Shaving Cream






I hate shaving - it’s a pain, I slash my face and I get irritation after I’ve finished. I found solace in Erasmic Lather Shave Cream and loved using the old style shaving brush. In a previous post I mentioned that I had a weird flashback to my youth when I first used the brush, and being lazy (as mentioned above) I have copied this from a previous post (so sue me):

‘My late grandfather would always shave using one, normally at the kitchen sink so he could gain easy access to the rear garden (yard for my American readers - so thoughtful) to terrorise any passing squirrels with the nuts (and I don’t mean literally) to pass through.

I can see him now hunched over the sink in his trousers, white vest and shaving kit. It always seemed to take hours!’

This is only the second shaving cream product I have ever tried that involves using a brush and deciding yourself how thick you want the lather. 

I received a 150g tub of the Coconut Luxury Shaving Cream from Regal Gentlemen about five weeks ago when I had a five o'clock shadow, by the time I managed to open it I had whiskers like Captain Birdseye*. I struggled so much to get the lid off I would try three times a day, sit and ponder new approaches and tactics. In the end there were direct messages on Twitter to see if I was doing something wrong when trying to unscrew a lid. Two more weeks passed and I had a brainwave (can you still say that in a politically correct world?!?) I would use power tools…….

I’m joking, I used a knife to pry the lid up a bit and it opened a dream. Opening this tested my sanity and I know its probably all my own fault.

After the laps of my flat in joy and I’d finished high fiving all of my cats (even if they didn’t want to) I set to work. Removing the plastic protector for the cream I thought I had been sent a lemon. It wasn’t a cream but it looked fairly solid to me. It then dawned on me that it needed wetting.

All joking aside, as soon as the protector was removed my nostrils filled with a lovely, fresh coconut - it was so present yet subtle on the nose so evident but not overpowering. After wetting and dabbing the brush in the aroma only intensified, for the better. I’m not a fan of coconut - the body butter knocks me sick, and I only just got over my entire coconut hatred with Dirty Works Coconut Body Scrub.

I love the smell of this - there, boom, in six rather than 500 words.

This lathers up brilliantly - a wet brush dabbed and run around the rim of the tub once resulted in my massive face being covered in a lovely smelling thick, rich lather. Happy days as they say.



I left it for a few minutes to soak in as I hadn’t used anything to soften my beard and hacked away with the razor (after I had trimmed it down to the bone using a beard trimmer). The shave was smooth, the lather didn’t block the blades that much but the best was yet to come.



After I had finished shaving and washed my face off their was a noticeable coconut fragrance following me around for a good few hours. After an hour usually I have a rash or some burning - I had none, and in fact instead of a red rash I had silky soft skin to the touch.

Thinking the coconut smell would alter my aftershave I was surprised, it didn’t. It instantly faded away so thankfully no deep wood infused with coconut poisoning the people around me.

This does the job brilliantly, costs £8.95 for 150g and will last me probably six months if I have shave daily (which I won’t).

An amazing quality product that will give you value for money. 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

*This is Captain Birdseye for those who haven't experienced their brand of 'fresh' fish....

Captain Birdseye


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Friday, November 14, 2014

Woodhouse Clothing - Denim Guide

Style isn’t really my thing, I stick to solid colours and tend to wear jeans and a tee shirt if I’m going out or lounging around. If you asked me to tell you the difference between a type or style of jeans or denim I would look at you blankly so when asked if I would take a look at the Woodhouse Clothing new Denim Guide I was intrigued.

My denim/jean history reads like a sad poetic tale, in my youth (oh the 1980s…..) it had to be baggy jeans (preferably without the Bros transfers - remember those?!), in my teens it was boot fit to go with my goth/dark Terminator boots and moody grin and then in my 20s into loose fit as it started to all become about comfort. Now in my *cough* mid 30s I’ve been converted into regular fit jeans.

Back in the day jeans came in waist size 30, 32 or 34 and I always had a waist in between. Using a belt was useless as I looked like a sack of potatoes that had been tied by the village idiot. Hence I would style based on the fact that loose fitting jeans allowed me to hide the fact that they were either cutting me in half or in danger of hitting the deck.

Before I talk more about my conversion, here is a little bit about the clothing gods over at Woodhouse Clothing:

Established in 1975, Woodhouse Clothing is a British retailer with a physical base in Notting Hill and their online store. They stock a variety of menswear, accessories and grooming brands including Scotch & Soda, Barbour and Stone Island.

Jeans are a big part of their brand and they have put together a Denim Guide, an inside-out guide to, you guessed it, denim and how to care for it. 

I read the denim guide, it is truly awesome with a history of denim, how it is made, how to care for your favourite pair along with other useful hints and tips. They also link off to brand profiles and allow you to browse their amazing online store. 

Opting for a pair of charcoal Armani jeans I sat back and waited for them to arrive - and they did, swiftly and with a courier who knocked and waited for me to get to the door. The jeans came neatly wrapped and with a cool car air freshener.

I was asked if as part of this post I would style the jeans - I warn you, I have no style, but here is what I put them with……(no make-up was used in this photographs……and you can tell)….








Armani Jeans - Woodhouse Clothing - £100
Ripstop Tee - £25
New Rock Boots - £110 - Camden Town

The jeans I have to say are well worth the price, the have sizes that fit, I got a 33 inch waist and 34 inch leg and they fit a dream. They are by far the most comfortable pair of jeans I have ever owned and I would feel at ease in these paired off with a shirt in a social setting say a meal with the boss. 

Feel free to take the proverbial out of the photographs in the comments section - maybe I should improve my Photoshop skills!! 

Ending on a serious note, I could lose at least £10,000 on the Woodhouse Clothing site (if I had it), all of their clothes look good, even on me (I think) and I am by far my worse critic.  

Go and take a look at their site and read the Denim Guide, you will be amazed and converted.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED 
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Sunday, November 09, 2014

Tone Tee - Fitwear for Men

“Hey fatty bum bum” that’s what small children chant at me as I cowardly make my way to the tube station in a morning. It’s like running a gauntlet of pre-pubescent hate. I am of course joking but seriously laughing away in my head as I recall the first ever episode of Peep Show where the housing estate teens mock the main character Mark by calling him “clean shirt”.

I digress in something of a fever, mainly because I’m actually wearing a Tone Tee at the moment, have a t-shirt on and the heating! 


If you ask anyone who knows me really well I’m slightly body dismorphic - I see a massive beached whale when actually I can be at a healthy 12 stone, which isn’t bad for a six foot broad bloke I think. So, I’m not fat, but I’m also not exactly toned.


Before anyone thinks I’m getting my kit off and taking pictures of my body you can think again/stop laughing/put the sick bag down (delete as applicable).


I think my body shape is quite weird, mainly because it is more of an hourglass figure because I don’t have kidneys where other mere mortals have theirs, therefore my sides are slightly concave.


When I mentioned that I was going to be trying the product and had to describe what it is I referenced that its like Spanx for men, to which the throwback comment was, "so it's Manx"......oh dear....

The Tone Tees sell for £19.99 (and they have a buy one, get one free offer) and since receiving my two, the first a t-shirt, the second a vest top I have seen adverts for them every time I turn on the television.


Their website outlines the usual marketing blurb and benefits of Tone Tee as follow:


“The Tone Tee tops are compression and shaping garments for men, which have been specially developed to create a smooth and more streamlined appearance to problem areas on a male body.



  • Tone Tee’s super-slimming secret is its specially-designed 360 degree Tone Technology – precision core stabilising compression panels which target key problem areas for men
  • Special built-in temperature control breathe-in-technology
  • The premium stretchable blended fabric fits firmly and comfortably against the skin so there’s no bulk under clothes
  • The athletic design is engineered for maximum mobility
  • No more feeling self-conscious, enjoy the benefits every other man is enjoying with Tone Tee.

With Tone Tee you get comfort, compression and confidence making you look slimmer, trimmer and leaner. You’ll see results instantly!’


The actual tees are really well made, the seams are sturdy and this is great for reasons that will become apparent. You can see the actual compression panels working across the fabric and when I held it up before trying I wondered how the hell I was going to get it on!


If I had to liken putting it on to another item of clothing it would have to be a wetsuit - it's bloody tight as you pull it on but what is instantly surprising is that while it should be sucking the life out of you, breathing is really easy and the tightness isn't irritating or uncomfortable, if anything its snug.




So, is it worth it? Well, the first time I wore it to the office nobody could tell I was wearing this under a t-shirt and I found that the compression panels actually did work - back fat is pulled in, buddy belly becomes flat and my pecs are shaped to look firm and toned. Result.



I found wearing the Tone Tees a breeze, they didn't make me overheat or sweat in any way and the comfort factor became irrelevant as I forgot I was wearing them each time I've used them.

Well worth the money and results that would take months in the gym. 

Body shaping for blokes - massive result.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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Saturday, November 08, 2014

Uomo by Valentino

Uomo by Valentino is the final purchase made on holiday this year and was a fragrance I had been dying to get my hands on since receiving a small tester earlier in the year. 

While the tester was quite bland from a visual perspective the same cannot be said of the fragrance that to me comes across as completely unique - both in terms of the fragrance but also the blingtastic look of the bottle that is soooo cool.

Valentino Uomo Bottle & Box

At £91 for 100ml and £46 for a 50ml bottle this has to be put into the luxury aftershave category in my book. Had I seen the price before becoming completely hooked on the fragrance I probably would have backed away from it in the shop. Instead I just had to pick up a 50ml bottle and I haven't regretted it since.

My only previous experience of Valentino was forking out £200 for a shirt back in 1996 - yes, that long ago, wearing it once, loving it and then proceeding to spill kebab juice down it after a night out thoroughly ruining it forevermore.

Everything about the bottle oozes class, in fact put it in sunlight and you can marvel as it’s glass ridges reflect and refract light making it shine like some form of heavenly gift. OK, ok, a bit over the top but it is probably the best description you are going to get out of me!


Valentino Uomo Bottle

Valentino market this with the stylish waffle you would expect from a leading fashion house, a sophisticated fragrance that is suppose to evoke thoughts of family lunch (what no beef and Yorkshire pudding notes) on the terrace of a Roman Palazzo with a series of notes that come from the dishes on the table. Hmmmm…..

The official notes to Uomo are:


  • Head: Bergamot, Myrtle Liquor
  • Heart: Crema Di Gianduia, Coffee
  • Dry-down: White Leather, Cedar Wood


After removing the atomiser protector and giving this a few squirts the strength and sweetness are unleashed with aplomb. After a squirt there is no hiding from the fragrance and for me this is a good thing as it is instantly addictive.

While you can detect hints of bergamot, the liquor makes this incredibly sweet on the nose. The sweetness stays around for about 30 minutes steadily getting warmer and heavier as it starts to dry down. It actually becomes a little bit floral I find until it settles. I’d be lying if I said I knew what Crema Di Gianduia is or should smell like but it is obvious to my nose that this blended with the coffee provides depth to what could be a rival for Joop in the sweetness stakes.

It takes around an hour for the fragrance to really settle on the skin to a point where it doesn’t alter any further and boy you will be surprised by the results. It retains some sweetness but it stays subtle, the warmth really comes to the fore and the leather and cedar wood provide an earthy body and base to this wonderful fragrance that you will catch as you go about your day to day business.

While Uomo has a price tag to make you weep a little goes a long way and the strength makes this a fragrance where only a few squirts are needed to leave you smelling awesome all day long. I’ve had my bottle for two months and after fairly frequent use I am yet to have used a third of the bottle.

Perfect for daywear thanks to the hardwearing nature of the fragrance this is one that ticks every possible occasion be it special occasions, romantic nights out, nights down the pub or office wear. You can’t go wrong if you like strong yet sweet fragrances. Still being evident after 10 hours you would be foolish to dismiss Uomo and negligent not to give it at least a good solid sniff at the aftershave counter.

Try it, you will like it.

FORGET THE REST, TRY THE BEST

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Monday, November 03, 2014

A lesson in re-writing poker rules

There was a time when playing poker was a huge part of my life, I would play for fun with friends, enter small competitions and occasionally play online. At first it was a bit of fun but then I realised that it wasn’t about the luck of the draw, the game involved a combination of skill, luck and the ability to keep a straight face when bluffing like there was no tomorrow.

I mastered how to work out the odds of winning based upon the hand I was dealt but always struggled to keep a straight face if I was dealt pocket Aces or Kings (that’s the poker lingo for a pair). When I was asked if I would take a look at a video of the Greatest Poker Hands from Pokerstars.com where a player, Benny Spindler was re-writing the gamebook when facing off against other players I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing.


Source
When I get a good hand I get a twitch or I become very aware that my eyes are darting around the table - in the video Benny has an average hand and then uses his chips to bet his opponents out of the game. Players with fairly reasonable hands bet and then fold as he stays ice cool through the process before finally having the stones to go all in (that’s bet all your chips) and steal the entire pot.

As the video progresses it’s strange that you can actually feel the tension - even the commentators are at a loss as to how he is playing. 

For me, watching made me realise three things:
  • I’m not cut out to be a professional poker player
  • I should grow my hair longer to hide my darting eyes when I play face to face in a tournament
  • I get really nervous watching other people play!
After being asked to take a look at this video I’ve been watching more of the series on Youtube to try and get a better feeling for how to read players and I would strongly recommend watching the series to anyone who has an interest in poker as a recreational activity.

You can watch the video here - it is unbelievable:



*This post contains a sponsored link
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Saturday, November 01, 2014

LightStim for Wrinkles

I’m a frowner, I just can’t help it and as I have a forehead similar in size to the actors in the old Tefal adverts* this had resulted in quite deep wrinkles as old father time batters my face. So bad are the trenches in my forehead I actually call them trenches, not wrinkles. I have to avoid the countryside as every time I pass a farmer they try and plant a row of potatoes in my forehead. You think I’m kidding but I do actually refer to myself as having a Gordon Ramsey forehead (you'll have to Google for that image to avoid me being sued for copyright infringement).

With this in mind I was delighted to find that a LightStim for wrinkles device found its way into our home.

Could there be a product that will eliminate my forehead trenches and banish the crows feet from around my eyes without the need to use an industrial strength bulldog clip to pull back folds of skin on the back of my neck?!?!? 

Approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, the LED device is designed to be used as a treatment to combat wrinkles and lines across the face. With 72 therapeutic LED lights on the head of the wand you power the baby up and hold the light to the area you want to treat. Easy, so easy even I can use it!! 




The wand emits a soothing warmth, which you would expect given the number of lights in the wand. Having once used abdominal stimulators back in my youth which gave mild discomfort I was pleased when I first used the wand that the lights give off no excessive heat and there is no pain. Result!

LightStim claim in the marketing blurb that the wand will:
  • Reduce and eliminate fine lines and wrinkles;
  • Restore your skin's youthful appearance;
  • Stimulate the production of collagen and elastin.
At £250 this is a luxury device in my opinion but it has to be cheaper than plastic surgery or regular botox treatments. Will it get the thumbs up or the thumbs down from me? Now that’s the question…..watch this space for a future post with before and after pictures!

*This is what the Tefal professors looked like in their adverts! 



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