Saturday, January 31, 2015

Man EDT by Hugo Boss

I have a kind of mixed bag history with Hugo Boss aftershaves. I love Just Different but simply could not stand Dark Blue. Thankfully, today I get the chance to write about Hugo Boss Man, an aftershave that has been in my collection for just over two years (it entered the collection as a Christmas gift in 2013).

In the interests of openness and transparency I will at this stage point out that my bottle (pictured below) was getting a bit low and had sat in my wardrobe for some time. Fragrance Direct offered me a sample and I jumped at the chance, receiving a 40ml bottle. Not only could I get my nose around something a bit fresher than my own, it also allowed me the opportunity to test the longevity when stored away for months on end. 

You can buy a 125ml bottle (I have a 100ml bottle) with a gift (it’s a Hugo Boss branded portable speaker) from Fragrance Direct for just £32 here. Until 5 February 2015 you can also get an extra 10% all Hugo Boss products at Fragrance Direct by entering the promotion code BOSS10. 

£32 however puts this squarely in the budget category as far as my aftershave collection is concerned and to be honest, considering how good the fragrance is you can’t ask for better value for money. 

Personally I alternate my aftershaves, I find it a bit dull to wear the same fragrance day in and day out but my bottle took a pounding for a good year and there is still about a fifth of the bottle left - a little goes a long way.

The notes to Man read like a fruit salad, with apple and grapefruit sitting at the top - my initial expectations were of a fresh and light fragrance that warmed on dry down. The full notes are:

  • Head: Green apple, Grapefruit and Bergamot
  • Heart: Jasmine, Geranium, Lavender and Patchouli 
  • Dry Down: Musk, Fir Balsam and sandal

Man dries down quickly so trying to pick out notes and how they blend is quite tricky, you can’t instantly pull out either the apple of grapefruit when it is first applied. Yes, it’s refreshing and the absence of burn when spraying it on is always welcomed, but the fragrance had me puzzled - don’t get me wrong I like it, but if I had to liken it to anything it’s like burying your head into a fruit bowl and taking a long deep smell. If anything, the bergamot provides the over-arching blast of sweetness to counter the citrus.

The balance of the top notes was welcome, but as I said, it dries down almost immediately - after that initial blast you only just get hints of the lavender, making it smell and feel slightly warmer. As it warms you get a very earthy floral aroma for just minutes until it settles down to the lovely fragrance that will last hour after hour. The musk really kicks this into masculine territory and the woody base notes in my opinion could only be improved slightly with a touch of amber.

An utterly unique fragrance, I can’t liken it to any others (which is rare) - it is warm, earthy with hints of a floral fragrance. Nice!

Unlike some of the more potent aftershaves Man will not leave a massive scent trail behind you - yes people close to you will be able to smell it, and from experience 99% of people like it.

So how did my new sample differ from the bottle that has sadly been neglected? They are exactly the same, my 100ml bottle hasn't deteriorated in the slightest, which means that you can have this in a collection for years without the fear that the day you come to use it the smell will leave you gagging. 

Hugo Boss Man is a lovely fragrance that dries down to be uber-subtle making this perfect for daywear, nights out and romantic occasions. It would make a great gift and I am yet to find someone who doesn’t like the fragrance when I wear it. 

The sample was gratefully received, it reminded me of everything that I used to like about Hugo Boss Man. I have a number of favourite aftershaves that I have to decide to chose from each morning - Man has just made my decision making even harder. 


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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Luna Rossa EDT by Prada

Launched in 2012, Prada Luna Rossa was an aftershave that passed me by for a good eighteen months until a sample arrived for me to try. 

Let’s just say it didn’t take long for me to moan and groan, huff and puff until a 50ml bottle appeared as a gift to cheer me up - it was a record time actually after extending my bottom lip out and mumbling something along the lines of “but I never buy any new aftershaves any more“.

The first blast of Luna Rossa had me hooked. 

This is what the marketing blurb says about Luna Rossa:

‘Prada introduces a new masculine fragrance in Sept 2012, named after the sailboat and the sailing team "Red Moon" or Luna Rossa, which participates in the American Cup competitions. The new fragrance, considering its name, draws its inspiration from the world of extreme sailing, prestige, marine nature and passion for innovation and victory.

The composition is developed around the main note of lavender by perfumer Daniela Andrier of Givaudan. Intensity and freshness of accords are emphasized by the use of classical notes in new, innovative ways. Those notes include lavender absolute and bitter orange in the top, clary sage and spearmint in the heart, and ambrette absolute and ambroxan molecule in the base.

Bottle design is inspired by modern sailboats, signed by Yves Behar. The fragrance is available as 50, 100 and 150 ml Eau de Toilette. The nose behind this fragrance is Daniela (Roche) Andrier.’

So you have the basic notes in the blurb but here they are at a glance:

  • Head: Bitter oranges, Lavender
  • Heart: Clary Sage, Spearmint,
  • Dry-down: Ambrette, Ambroxan

When I first smelt Luna Rossa I have to admit that an in depth analysis was not undertaken, I was simply blown away by the fact that I loved the overall first impression and how it evolved on my skin over time to the dry down. It was immense, and considering I expected something cheap and nasty (on a par with Gucci Rush which regular readers will know I use as a benchmark for filth) to say I was smiling was an understatement. 

I have seen some describe this as having almost herbal top notes - personally I’m not sure what they are sniffing (aftershave or stronger) but it didn’t and has never been my experience. 

The oranges provide a fresh blast of citrus, its very sharp initially and is by far the most over-riding note, and remains so for a good five minutes. It is fresh and screams young and vibrant. Within the first five minutes of putting this through a full analysis (i.e giving it a long hard whiff every five minutes before getting people to smell me) I thought to myself that this would make a great summer fragrance - this thought process didn’t change, even though as it blended and dried down it did.

Personally I didn’t detect even the remotest hint of lavender until after around fifteen minutes, it is there but so subtle and soft you really struggle to pick it out. It provides a good counter balance to the sharpness of the orange making it much warmer. Still no hints of herbal though. 

After around twenty minutes you start to notice that the sharpness of the orange top note has completely gone, leaving a warm citrus - lovely. However, at this point the whole fragrance has altered to become slightly heavier on the nose, the sage is evident but again, the warm citrus is the dominating fragrance. 

After an hour to me this became more of an earthy, masculine fragrance. The oranges started to fade and the dry down notes became evident. I would have put this down to either cedar wood or sandalwood but no, it is all down to the Ambroxan.

Now, I don’t claim to be an expert on this kind of thing, I just say what I smell, but I was intrigued and played around on Google to find out what this mystery note is. I was quite surprised that the response I received from Google wasn’t that technical. Ambroxan is a key element responsible for the odour produced by ambergris. Ambergris is well sought after and is produced by the digestive systems of whales - it sounds vile but the waxy substance is used in a lot of high end perfume and aftershave as it provides a long, hardwearing and almost sweet fragrance (it also means they don‘t have to add alcohol to the fragrance that dries out your skin - there, you learn something new every day)

These dry down notes provide an excellent base - it turns this once fresh and citrus fragrance into one that is quite sweet, even after five-six hours. That sweetness that you would associate with Joop, Uomo by Valentino or Eros is balanced by the light musk of the Ambrette.

Only a few sprays - three at most are needed to make sure you stay smelling from dusk until dawn, and I say this as Luna Rossa is perfect for nights out as it is so hardwearing, leaves a slight trail which means others will be able to smell it and it will give you the self confidence that you smell amazing.

50ml of this baby will set you back around £35 so it isn’t going to break the bank and when you consider the fragrance, how long it lasts and the compliments that you’ll receive you can’t ask for more. 

Taking the price, the lovely fragrance and the fact that it passed the sniff test with friends and family then I have to say you shouldn’t look any further. It would make the perfect gift for Christmas, Valentine’s Day or birthdays. 

It’s true what they say, the Devil really does wear Prada (and he wears it regularly)!


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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

For My Beardy Beloved - The Blade Shunners Beard Kit

When it comes to picking gifts for blokes for Valentine’s Day I’m guessing it’s pretty tricky. I know I’m a nightmare to buy for so today I’ll be showing off the For My Beardy Beloved - The Blade Shunners Beard Kit.

The kit by male grooming peeps Menrock was sent to my other half and in the absence of any signs of a beard on her it was passed to me to give it a try. Over the last twelve months I have been growing a beard on and off, I go through phases where I like the beard but then it gets too long, looks messy and feels itchy and wiry. 

Add into the mix friends who point out the one or two white hairs in my beard constantly and threats of having the hair pulled with tweezers - yep, the razor tends to come out!

At the moment I haven’t shaved for nearly four weeks and have the start of a pretty decent beard I think so there was no better time to have this appear in the house. So what is the beard kit? Well, to be honest it makes the perfect male grooming gift for anyone sporting a beard - it has not just Menrock beard wash, it also has a beard balm, moustache wax and a beard comb. As a nice touch my box also came with a mini pack of Love Heart sweets as a nod to the upcoming date.

The pictures below show the products that come in a stylish little box. You can buy the kit for £22.10 from Amazon here if what you read inspires you.

This is what Menrock say about the kit:

‘Growing stubble is easy... you just dodge the razor! However, maintaining the follicle forest is a different story. This ace gift boxed beard kit (the 'For My Beardy Beloved' box to give it its proper title - yes we are pleased with that one!) contains everything a blade shunner needs to keep his beard in tip-top shape. 

The kit includes both a Men Rock Beard Soap (100ml) and the lovely 'a little goes a long way' Men Rock Soothing Beard Balm (100ml), some gorgeous Men Rock Sandalwood Styling Wax and a little pack of Love Heart Sweets. It's everything you need for perfect whisker formation and comes gift boxes with a little pack of thank you Love Hearts as standard.’

For me the first thing was to get the lids off the balm, wax and wash to have a good sniff. I expected subtle earthy tones from the Oak Moss but what I got was something more like sandalwood - with such a strong fragrance, almost over-powering, in an instant I had a flashback to a barbershop in my youth, the smell was identical. I love the smell, and the fact that it doesn’t linger is a massive plus as it doesn’t alter the fragrance of other products. 

If you don’t like earthy, mossy or sandalwood then steer well clear - you have been warned.

The beard wash is brilliant - it lathers up well, has the fragrance mentioned above and doesn’t dry out my skin. In fact, in the days that I have been using it I have noticed more of a shine to my beard and it feels smoother. Applying the balm after washing is really easy and it spreads across the face without an hassle, drying into the beard almost instantly. 

After using both for a day or so (one wash of the beard and two applications of the balm) I have noticed subtle differences to the feel of my beard. There is no itch around my neck and chin (and its due considering the length) and it still feels smoother. I have to say it does still feel a little wiry but I expect that to change as I use the product more.

I smiled when I was presented with the box, smiled more when I opened it and realised that it contained beard balm (a product just that day I had said I had wanted to try) and am still smiling after using it. In gift terms you can’t argue with that, particularly as it won’t break the bank at just over £20.


*Hopefully in a few more weeks I will be able to use the comb and wax to style some beardy weirdy shapes!  

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Commes des Garcons Blue Santal

Back in July of last year I finally got around to giving my thoughts (probably much to the displeasure of the company) on Commes des Garςons 2, a unisex fragrance. I hated it, so I was quite surprised to be offered a sample of their new fragrance Commes des Garςons Blue Santal to get my nose around.

At an eye-watering £75 for 100ml from House of Fraser here it was a case of nothing ventured, nothing gained when it came to getting my hooter around the sample. 

This is what Commes des Garςons say about Blue Santal:

‘In the summer of 2013 Comme des Garcons launched the collection of Blue Invasion which includes three "blue" fragrances— Blue Encens, Blue Cedrat and Blue Santal, in characteristic flacons colored in blue, iridescent from the darkest to the lightest shade. The new perfumes are created to accentuate radical contradiction providing a mixture of luxurious warmth and sea freshness. The olfactory evocation of the fascinating paradox presents the blue color as timeless and very intense in three different ways.

BLUE SANTAL provides frozen and cold Australian sandalwood combined with warm pine notes and tartness originating from juniper berries. 

The official notes are Mediterranean pine, juniper berry essence, blue pepper and sandalwood from Australia.’

The sample came looking swish

Dexter the cat seems to like it....

As soon as I sprayed a little of the Blue Santal it became very clear, very quickly to me that this was much stronger than Commes des Garςons 2 (my main bugbear with that was it was so subtle you had to reapply every ten minutes). The initial fragrance seems dominated by the pine and berries. They blend and give a first impression of sitting in a pine forest while snorting on berry juice, the pine being the over-riding note - fresh, clean and very manly. The berries sit behind this fragrance providing a subtle depth to the initial blast. 

I have to put my hands up here and say that I was impressed - the first impression stuck and the feeling/memories that were awakened when smelling this a big plus for me.  

After five to ten minutes however as the pepper started to come to the fore the complete blend had hints of cat urine - the fragrance became very bitter on the nose for a good ten minutes before it finally dried down completely. 

At dry down the fragrance thankfully became lovely again, although it became significantly heavier on the nose. While pine can still be detected, the freshness of the berries disappears completely. Throw into the mix the depth and warmth provided by the sandalwood base and this screams ‘I am man’. The pine and sandalwood complement each other perfectly.

This is like a rollercoaster of a fragrance the likes of which I had never smelt before. Starting so fresh and wonderful the heart notes just knock me that little bit sick but with a bit of perseverance once it dries down to the base notes it once again becomes an absolutely outstanding masculine fragrance. As the transformation of the fragrance takes just thirty short minutes this is one I would buy, but apply well before leaving the house.

When looking around I found some people who said that this reminded them of Gucci Rush (oh dear, that is one foul fragrance) and I’m inclined to agree if you just take how it blends and smells shortly after application but it couldn’t be further from Gucci Rush after around fifteen minutes so I think the association is literally bang out of order. 

Applying the value for money test and the unease caused by the application and changes in fragrance sees Blue Santal fall down from one that I would rush out to buy. I would recommend it as the final fragrance is lovely but this is expensive stuff and personally I feel there are better options out there. If price is no barrier for you then I would say take the plunge, the online reviews I have seen of this are overly harsh and as no lover of the brand or their previous offerings I can hand on heart recommend this to people who like their earthy offerings and warm masculine fragrances.


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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

got2b Spiking Glue by Schwarzkopf

I picked up got2b Spiking Glue by Schwarzkopf back in December 2014 - it was an expletive ridden time as I unpacked my bags to dress for a funeral only to find that I had forgotten anything that could be used to style my hair. Disaster (OK, the funeral was worse)!

After I had finally stopped swearing and lashing out at an imaginary punching bag (stress relief tip - try it, it works) I pulled myself together and wandered to the nearest Tesco where rather than going with something I had used before, and in true blogging style I picked this up along with a got2b cream, both for just £4 (and only so I could write about them here).

So, after basically paying £2 for this I wasn’t expecting anything of note, it just had to get me through four hours and I’d be happy. Just four hours….

You really can’t miss this stuff as it comes in bright yellow packaging. The 150ml tube tells me that this provides ‘screaming hold’ (a new one for me, but as a Manc, had it said ‘banging’ it would have made me laugh). Sorry, I digress somewhat. The tube also states that this is for spikes, to provide a chunky style with ultimate hold. 

On with the show…..

I washed my hair, dried it so that it was slightly damp and then squeezed enough of the white glue into palm. The picture below shows how much I used originally - big mistake! 

You really don't need to use as much as I did!

The glue smells so very synthetically fresh with an apple aroma. Not great but also not offensive and as a bonus it doesn’t linger around unlike some other hair glues and pomades. 

With a creamy like texture the glue is easy to apply to the hair, strands are pliable and for around ten minutes stay flexible before this starts to dry the style into place. You have ten minutes before the mother of all holds is unleashed. This sets like cement and the chances of moving a stray hair once it has dried are on a par with my odds of winning Mr Patience UK. 

Once set my hair felt crispy to the touch and it reminded me, nay it sent me into a flashback to my youth and using Wella Shockwaves! It wasn’t an enjoyable flashback and the feeling that you could snap your own hair off is quite frankly very weird (weirder than me writing this blog)

Now, if you haven’t already got the idea that this has great hold you’ll be staggered to learn that it kept the hold in place for well over twenty, yes twenty hours and even the morning after a heavy night, Mancunian rain and a walk across country back to my hotel not a hair was out of place. In fact the glue is water resistant which I hadn’t noticed until I got back into my room.

Personally I use this now when my hair is stupidly long so that I can have long spiky hair that will stay in place, and that it does when using got2b spiking glue.

For £2 I really couldn’t argue with this product. Like most glues you do start to get a bit of bit flaky residue after ten hours but it isn’t that noticeable. This represents great value for money and a hair styling product that will keep your hold in place. The fragrance could do with toning down a bit as I don’t like synthetic smells that much and the crispy feeling was weird. It did the job though and kept on doing its job hour after hour.


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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Bluebeards Revenge Cooling Moisturiser

When it comes to soothing my face after shaving or after a day exposed to horrific levels of air pollution in London I’m not exactly short of products to use. I confess I don’t have that many firm favourites, Cooling Moisturiser by The Bluebeards Revenge is sitting pretty at the top of the moisturisers I’m currently using and liking, liking a lot.

I just love the skull and crossbones branding
(As an aside I have ‘it’s all about the face, about the face…..’ running through my head to the tune of ‘All about that Bass’ by Meghan Trainor - send for the men in white coats!)

Like all of the products from The Bluebeards Revenge, the cooling moisturiser is emblazoned with the skull and crossbones giving it a shiny edge when it comes to the canister (and it is a cool looking metal canister) standing out on the shelf in the bathroom - with my Magpie eye that’s probably why I reached for it in the first place. It looks cool and the coolness always goes that bit further with The Bluebeards Revenge products as every piece of packaging encourages the man using it to check for lumps and bumps in an effort to tackle testicular cancer.

For more information on Orchid, the charity that fights male cancer please visit their website here.

A 100ml canister will set you back £9.99, but what do The Bluebeards Revenge say about their cooling moisturiser on their website?

‘The Bluebeards Revenge 'Cooling' Moisturiser brings it’s typical semi-macho style into the equation with this new product featuring what they describe as the “manliest of ingredients” – in fact, who else could get away with creating a modern cosmetic laced with exotic compounds such as extracts of Prickly Pear, Stinging Nettle and Fenugreek! Not as vicious as they sound in fact as each of these compounds are highly regarded for their moisturising qualities and ability to re-invigorate the skin.

Having said that the brand has also strayed into its feminine side with the addition of Jojoba Oil as the main active ingredient. Jojoba enjoys a fabulous reputation as the only natural wax ester with an amazing similarity to the oils created by our own skin and is thought to help prevent oily skin and outbreaks of irritation.

The Bluebeards Revenge 'Cooling' Moisturiser contains a cooling agent making application to any part of the body a real pleasure. Luckily the brand has gone to great lengths to ensure that the product is free of those nasty Parabens, SLS and MIT.’

I love The Bluebeards Revenge packaging, it has my no-nonsense style - with the warning on the canister stating ‘only a total moron would choose to sneak a snack of this moisturiser - trust me it isn’t nice so best left off the menu.’ Classic! 

Anyway, back to my thoughts - so, it’s paraben free which is good news for the skin but what is it like?

Well, the size of the canister is spot on to enable grip and the pump dispenser is really easy to use, you won’t find yourself pumping away for ages with no benefit. It dispenses the white moisturiser in little blobs, and as the pictures show only a pea sized amount is needed to cover even my massive face.

Only a seriously small amount is needed
With a creamy texture this spreads easily and as soon as it first hit my fairly dry face it started to be absorbed immediately leaving a rather shiny finish for two to three minutes. While waiting for it to dry in I was struck by the lovely fragrance - it is so clean and fresh. You can pick out the Jojoba oil and for a bit I thought I could detect a bit of menthol but that could just be my dodgy sense of smell at the time.

Once it had dried in the fragrance completely disappeared and had no impact on the aftershave I applied afterwards, in fact it has never changed my aftershave which I find a massive plus in favour of the product. There is nothing worse than shelling out a wad of cash on an aftershave for its true fragrance to be altered by another grooming product.

An attempt at a dark and brooding photograph
More importantly, the results were breath taking. The moisturiser does cool, in fact it is like being slapped in the face with an icy glove (in a nice way) when first applied and as it is absorbed you notice a slight tingle. Awesome!

A good twenty minutes after applying there was no sign of the moisturiser yet my face still felt cool and to the touch this is where the cooling moisturiser earns its stripes. My skin is incredibly smooth and soft to the touch, even through three day stubble and my whiskers were noticeably softer. 

The dry skin patches I get around my eyebrows were eliminated after three days of use and now, after having used this since July I have to say it represents excellent value for money. I use this probably three times a week and there is still about half of the canister left. You really can’t argue with results, the fact it lasts for ages and smells divine. 

You can, and I have paid more for a moisturiser but this sits with Men Expert as one I’ll keep reaching for as an effective moisturiser that does the business. 


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Monday, January 19, 2015

Black & White Genuine Pluko Hair Dressing Pomade

After my first foray into pomade territory when styling my hair I was approached by Black & White to try their old favourite Black & White Genuine Pluko Hair Dressing Pomade. Having been impressed with my first try of pomade due to both the ease of styling and the results I couldn’t wait to try this one. 

Black & White Genuine Pluko Hair Dressing Pomade

Rather than slap it on once and then jot down my thoughts I’ve been using the pomade now on and off for around four weeks so it has been applied and used to style as my hair has grown from around two inches in length to three. To hold three inch spikes in place, and keep them in place this needed to be good. 

The pomade comes in a 50ml tub and is available from a number of stores - I’m not a price comparison website for man stuff (although there is an idea) but a casual search showed that it is available from Superdrug here for £4.65. At that price it isn’t going to break the bank.

Black & White have been around since 1922 and this is what their website says about them:

‘Black and White Wax is the definitive hair styling icon. With over 90 years of styling throughout the decades, it remains at the forefront of hair styling. From creating on trend looks straight from the catwalk or emulating the cool styles directly from the streets, the list is endless.

With celebrity fans such as supermodel Linda Evangelista and Hollywood actors Johnny Depp and Robert Pattinson, Black and White Wax is the quintessential styling product you must have to achieve today’s must covetable looks – male or female.

There’s a reason why Black and White Wax is still going strong decades later – its original, unchanged pluko formula is versatile and pliable; ideal for sculpting and creating texture for an all-day hold.

Black and White Wax is available from Superdrug, Boots, Tesco and Sainsbury’s and from our website so there’s no excuse for you not to be in possession of the best wax in the world!’

First of all, this smells amazing. It has a lovely rich coconut fragrance (think Pina Colada) that lingers for a good ten to fifteen minutes after using it (I seem to have gotten over my dislike for coconut since I started blogging).

Given the ingredients of petrolatum, paraffin, Zinc Oxide and parfum I expected quite a thick texture but was mildly shocked that it looked like and had the texture of Vaseline! Weird city people, weird city. 

Rather than put me off it struck me that this would make it more pliable, and I was right (I’m always right - always good to remember) smoothing and warming between my palms was simple and applying it to slightly damp hair made the application a breeze. 

The pomade clings to each strand as you massage it from root to tip - and using my palm I brushed from one side to the other until my hair had stood up. Once this was done I styled a few larger spikes. All of this was done in under three minutes (something of a record for me styling my hair).

Even an hour after applying I could alter the style, the pomade is simply that pliable. Top marks for application.

Yes, I am praying for decent photographs....

See, I said it looked a bit like Vaseline!

It smooths and warms to become really pliable

Feel free to call me a chinless wonder....

The hold was also brilliant and it lasted for well over ten hours with a lovely matte finish to my hair once it had completely dried in. Result!

Now, it can’t all be good and for me hair styling products are a pain and I like to be in and out of the bathroom in minutes. While styling with this pomade is a breeze the petrolatum sticks to your hands and when you try to wash it off you find that its waterproof making your hands look and feel greasy. For me this was a big downside until we encountered biblical like rain earlier in January 2015 - while I could be liken to a drowned rat that had been doing backstroke down the Thames my hair stayed in place. Bonus! 

The residue basically makes your hands waterproof lol

This is a reasonably priced product that smells wonderful and delivers a long lasting hold. The matte finish on my hair makes it look like I’m not wearing any product and that I like. On the downside it takes an age to wash your hands after styling. 

I’m impressed and found that the hold didn’t alter despite my hair getting longer and you can’t argue with that.


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Sunday, January 18, 2015

What I got for Christmas 2014

Well 2014 was a pretty crappy year so I had been looking forward to Christmas and opening some presents that would bring some festive cheer to this miserable old goat. Let's just say I over indulged with the Christmas spirit on Christmas Eve (no, surely not everyone who knows me cries out) so presents weren't opened until after lunch (every mouthful was torture - not the fault of the chef).

Anyone who follows the blog may have seen that I'm in the process of a full sleeve tattoo - given the significant outlay so far I wasn't expecting anything ground breaking in present form. The last two sections of my tattoo formed part of my Christmas presents. Some pictures of where the full sleeve is up to at the moment are below. The two faces on my forearm are this years present.

But what else did Santa bring me this year?

Aftershave, yes, I know, a shocker. This time however, there were aftershaves I hadn't tried, enter stage left Bleu de Chanel, Ralph Lauren Polo Red and one that I had tried, enter stage right Aqva by Bvlgari.

Like Acqua Di Parma, a cologne I reviewed recently I had wanted to try Polo Red since someone asked for my opinion of it on Reddit. It was an aftershave that had passed me by. Being a massive fan of Polo Green, Black and Blue I'm not sure how it has taken so long for me to even smell it!

Pinterst is to blame for some of my other presents. I had seen three t-shirts with rather tasty designs and really wanted them. I had asked my mum to buy two but she opted to go safe and buy the Bvlgari aftershave (shakes head and mutters 'lazy.....lazy.....').

Some of the t-shirts that I unwrapped are below - I really do like them and there are more on the, the one I'm really waiting for says "Whiskey made me do it".

Other gifts included a joke snoring prevention device which is basically a padded boxing glove on a stick, a man stuff kit, and two books including the Breaking Bad Cookbook. 

My in laws came up with something I really wanted - fishing tackle. It has been years since I had let fishing de-stress me and after days spent fishing on holiday in the river at the side of our hotel I was if you will pardon the pun hooked again. They put together lots of tackle including rods, a reel, rod bag and nets.

The final gift was a leather band. Doesn't sound that interesting does it but it has a twist, well more of a hook - instead of having a clasp or being slightly elastic it uses a fish hook. Fashion statement or deadly weapon? Either way it appeals to my warped nature!

So there you go, that's what I got this Christmas.

Did you get anything interesting for Christmas last year (god that sounds weird)?

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

365 days of blogging

Well, this counts as my anniversary post, after one whole year I’m still here (what where the odds on that happening?)

First of all thank you to everyone who has encouraged me over the last twelve months and thank you for taking the time to read my little corner of the web. I honestly never thought I would still be writing or that people would actually come and take a look. 
Taken after one or two drinks in Amsterdam

Stranger still was the reaction of the people who knew me. I made a few subtle hints about the
blog before just coming out and telling both my friends and people I worked closely with - there was a little ribbing but that stopped almost immediately. Bizarrely the worst reaction came from my family who teased about being doing something constructive with my time (me being constructive is completely and utterly out of character).

So, what changes have I experienced after blogging for a year?

This is something that I used to find irritating as hell before I started blogging. Rachel (BeautyqueenUK) would sit on her phone for hours, would take random photographs and would never touch a plate of food in a restaurant without taking pictures from three angles (using three different filters).
This is what awaited me when I attended my first bloggers event - gorgeous ilumi food

Dirty Burger in Kentish Town, Camden - the best burger ever

Honest Burger in Camden Market

I confess I now do this, I take random photographs of aftershaves when out and about, take pictures of my food (usually burgers that are making me drool - you‘re welcome for that lovely mental image) and have now even started taking pictures of my hair after styling it in the morning so that I can do a #HOTD hashtag! 

Your pets suddenly become a marketing opportunity and a way of attracting people to your social media feeds. I’m guilty of this, mainly because I have three of the best cats ever, Dude, ASBO and Dexter. 
Cats rule #thatisall

Dude shows off his climbing skills

What? More aftershave?

Dexter stands guard over the aftershave

They frequently pop up in my posts (usually when trying to take pictures they photobomb me or the product) or on my Instagram.

Weirdly, whenever they appear in posts they tend to overshadow everything else. Cute cats, they are the future.

In the words of Mr Tinkles from the film Cats and Dogs….'Cats Rule'.


I was never allowed to open or use anything until it had been photographed more times than a dead body at a crime scene. 

While I find myself doing this more and more I still get shouted at for throwing the wrong bath bomb into the bath, taking the packaging off the wrong product or eating the wrong thing. Ooops!

This Clarins Eye Revive sat in it's box for months until pictures could be taken!

My lovely Chelsea Boots from Chatham Footwear

My lovely Chelsea Boots from Chatham Footwear

While I struggle to take a photograph (I work on the basis that if I take a hundred a few might be usable!) I find that more and more, I can be walking in the park and thinking ’this would make a great spot to take some photographs of x or y product‘. 

Domain and Hosting Site
Before blogging you might as well have spoken to be in riddles about hastags, alt-tagging, domain names, web hosting, SEO, labels and keywords.  Now, while I am not as up to scratch as I possible should be, I know what each of these things mean and do my best, but definitely an area upon which I can improve!

Yes, that’s right, you start to make purchasing decisions based upon whether you think something would be of interest to your readers, you search out products you haven’t tried before so that you can write about them and in my case buy, buy, buy.

I have found myself doing this more and more, particularly when looking at aftershaves or beauty products. Where once I had two or three of a product, now I have nine or ten.

So, one year down - what next? It looks like my addiction to aftershave is going to continue, as will my love of trying new hair styling products but it is more likely that I’ll post more about fashion (my fashion sense so expect dark), places to eat out and maybe a regular spot for my friend to write about cocktail and dive bars.

Thank you for reading, the support and encouragement.


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