Tag Archives: Review

La Parfumerie Anglaise

I’m not a big perfume fan. I have a few but I almost never wore them until I stumbled across this company. They do room fresheners and perfume. Andrew was the guy behind the counter and he explained that their perfumes are made with less alcohol – so their room refreshers last for a year, and they give a set of replacement sticks you switch over after six months. The perfume came in 10ml and 50ml sizes. The amazing thing was the price. My bottle of 50ml perfume set me back £20. I went with Pomegranate which is modeled on another popular perfume from a different brand but with a much higher price tag. I will definitely be getting another bottle or two in the future. I only just wish I could purchase some small sample sizes so I could try them out and find which ones I liked because at the time I didn’t write potential favourites down.

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Pen Love: Pagan Omega Fountain Pen.

I recently won an award and I wanted to do something nice with the prize money, something that I could cherish for a good few years and get joy out of every time I use it. I decided on a fountain pen, but not just any fountain pen, I got a handmade, wooden, beautiful work of art which is absolutely stunning and a joy to use. David, the owner of Pagan Pens was kind enough to take a couple of pictures of my pen being made so I could share them on this post.

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The first step is to select the wood. On the website there is a useful guide of woods based on the Ogham Calendar. The Ogham Alphabet is one of the earliest forms of written communication and was found largely within Ireland, but also in parts of Wales as well. Later medieval documents suggest that the letters of the alphabet were named after trees. The Ogham Calendar is based on a 13, 28 day cycles each represented by a tree. This lends itself quite nicely to having birth woods, in a similar fashion to the having a Zodiac star sign. My birth wood is Alder (18th March – 14th April), which is represented by the letter Ogham letter F (Old Irish: Fearn, although originally in Primiative Irish this symbol was a W for Wernā). Each wood has it’s own unique characteristics and properties. Alder is said to be the magical tree of Bran, the King or God of the Celts (who was said to be a paternal and maternal ancestor of King Arthur). Alder gives protection, courage and eases fear and doubt. It is also a pioneer tree, often being one of the first to claim wet,treeless ground and improves the soil to allow for other trees to grow there as well. As a result it is often see near water, which connects the tree to the element of water. However, it is also connected to air, with ancient legends suggesting the wood was used to make wind instruments. Furthermore, it’s bark once cut turns to a fiery orange, which gave rise to the belief there was a flame within the Alder, as a result the charcoal was used in forges to make Celtic weaponry. So I thought it was a pretty perfect and unique wood for me to choose!

IMAG2574Once I had selected my wood and placed my order it was David’s turn to select the actual piece of Alder. David picked a piece of spalted wood, which means the wood has gone through a colouration process caused by Fungi and can produce some beautiful interest on the wood. It is typically found on dead wood and is the stage before the wood begins to rot. The first process is to cut the wood to size and then to drill and glue the brass parts of the pen into place. IMAG2572

IMAG2575Next the pen wood is  mounted onto a lathe and using a heavy gouge chisel the wood is turned and begins to become rounded. IMAG2578Once the basic shape of the pen is reached a skew chisel is used to produce finer shavings and give the wood a smoother finish. IMAG2579The final stage of the pen making process is to sand the pen down to make it smooth and then apply three different waxes, each wax is applied four times given a total of twelve coats of wax.IMAG2582.jpgAnd here is the finished:IMAG2583The pen is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful and it feels soft and smooth in my hand. It’s more light weight than I expected (but then again I do have a very heavy wooden locket which I was comparing it to, so I expected it to be a lot heavier than it is). It’s a good weight and the pen itself is very comfortable to write with. The nib itself is smooth and had a good flow from the start, it doesn’t skip and it really nice to write with. IMAG2584As you can see at the end of the pen, there is a knot visible. This is common within wood and was not visible at first when David cut the wood. It has sanded smooth and there is no visible ridge to the pen. David did contact me and say that if i was not happy with the knot he would make a new pen for me as some customers prefer to have the pen knot free. For me I was completely in love with the pen and thought the markings were truly beautiful. I did not see the knot as a flaw but a wonderful unique feature to an already beautiful pen.The craftsmanship and beauty of this pen far exceeds anything I was expecting and I am truly blown away from the quality of this pen. Considering I paid £32 (plus £5 shipping), I really got one hell of a pen for my money. I am completely in love with it and it fits in so wonderfully with my letter writing case. The only downside is that I do not have enough letters to write. I am hoping my pen pals will speed up a little bit and give me some letters over the coming days.

Waiting time was very reasonable, I ordered the pen at 2:38am on the 5th August. It was posted on the 24th August and I received it the following day. The pen was presented in a lovely purple velvet pouch and came with a standard size ink cartridge and an ink converter. There is also the possibility to get other nibs and you can use this pen for all your calligraphy needs.

So if you are interested in a unique gift at a great price I recommend checking out Pagan Pens, and if you are not a fountain pen lover there are other pen options available. To see more photos of David’s beautiful pens check out his Facebook page as well.

pagan pens

http://www.paganpens.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/PaganPens/


Duolingo on completion

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On Sunday (14th February) I completed Duolingo, which is no easy task. I guess I have been doing it for about two years, but I have restarted the course maybe 3 times during that period…but on Sunday it was the first time I completed it. So I thought it would be a great opportunity to review more fully now.

I think Duolingo is a great tool for helping to learn a language, I love the competitive element and seeing how your friends are doing. Often trying to beat my friends score keeps more doing Duolingo.

I like the game style element, with the trial and error format. I think it is a great way to learn a language. However I do not think it is the only way to learn a language. I think to use it within different ways to learn a language is the most successful way to use Duolingo. I think you need to read, speak to native speakers, watch films, listen to music, and attend a regular class.

I love that Duolingo has little notes that explain each section and the rules of grammar. However whilst these are good towards the beginning of the tree, some of the lessons towards the end, which need explanation do not have as much (or any) information to them. Which is why I think you need someone, such as a native or a teacher, to help you understand more.

That being said, if you want to learn the basics of a language and be able to get by in a country where the language is different – I think you can very easily do that with Duolingo. Natives have told me they can understand me, even if I do not get the sentence right perfectly.

What happens once you finish Duolingo? Well I have just started getting involved with the Immersion/Translating section of Duolingo. So this is a great way to develop your language skills even further. I also took a Duolingo test and scored 3.48/5.00. So I am not fully comfortable with all of the Duolingo lessons yet and I knew I wouldn’t be. So I will continue to practise words until I am fully comfortable with them alongside translating documents.

If you fancy brushing up or learning a new language I really recommend giving Duolingo a try!


A Beautiful Gift – Van der Spek A5 Writing Case

Before we begin I just want to apologise for the photos. I am not, nor will I ever be a photographer. Just imagine these pictures done properly…one day I may improve!

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On the 7th of December, Philofaxy had an interview with Petra Van der Spek about their company which makes leather organisers similar to Filofax. I have heard of the name since during the planner community in August but did not know which about their products. It was a very interesting read, and led me to read another post about the making of a planner. At the end of the interview Petra announced a competition. I lusted after the beautiful A5 writing case and entered the competition; answering the questions as best as I could. I didn’t for a second think I would actually win the competition.

I got an email from Steve announcing that I had won a prize and to expect an email from Petra the next day. I felt like a kid at Christmas…I kept checking my email, but alas no email. I checked my junk folder on the night and found it. Petra was super lovely and told me she had picked something out and because I was in Europe I’d get it for Christmas day. Petra didn’t tell me what I’d won and I didn’t ask. I thought it would be a wonderful surprise for Christmas.

Well, it didn’t arrive in time for Christmas…or so I thought. Turns out it did and a crafty member of my family had sneaked my parcel and wrapped it up and hidden it under the tree. Although technically a crime, I do forgive them for opening my post.

When I opened it I am in awe. Any of the prizes would have been beautiful, but I actually won the one I lusted after! The beautiful A5 writing pad.The photo did not do it justice on the interview did not do it justice! Sure it looked beautiful…but it’s even more beautiful in real life.

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The colour, I’m not sure what colour it is but it is so rich and beautiful. The leather is soft, smooth and smells like new shoes. The smell is overpowering and feels the room, but in a good way. The quality is divine.

I am a traditional letter writer and I have penpals in the Netherlands and Germany. I had looked for a writing case before but never found one I liked. I thought they were not vintage looking enough and looked quite cheap. Until the article I didn’t know Van der Spek did them. This is absolutely perfect. The writing pad is smooth and thick, substantial enough to take a fountain pen.

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The pocket configuration is a secretial flap on the right, which fits the a5 pad. On the left is pockets. You have three pockets for cards. When I buy stamps for posting to Europe, they come loose so I recently made a stamp holder (tutorial to follow), which fits perfectly into these slots. Above that is two further pockets. I have filled these with two different sized envelopes. Behind that is a send pocket. I have put an outgoing letter in the first one (my penpal is a big Harry Potter fan). Finally there is one more secretarial flap that I have stored a letter I need to reply to in. There is a loop in the centre for a pen. I’m too scared to put a pen in at the moment because knowing my luck it’ll leak all over it. So pens are staying away for the moment.

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The stitching is also so beautiful. I love the little angle and makes it subtle but beautiful touch to the writing pad, it makes a delicate statement.

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The two sides come together and are not secured in anyway, which was oddly what I was looking for before but couldn’t find that style.

I am stunned by how beautiful this is. I am completely in love with it. It was a wonderful gesture from Petra and her family and I cannot begin to thank them enough for it. Thank you so much Van der Spek!

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My Filofaxes: Mini Black Baroque

I’ve seen in a couple of places people going crazy about the Baroque, particularly the personal sized Baroque in the blue/aqua hue. It goes for stupid money on some sites. I did bid on one the other week and missed out on it. I did however find a mini Baroque for sale on ebay. Mini’s are not the most popular size out there so I was able to get it for a good price. I brought it mostly to see what all the fuss about them once. According to Steve Morton from Philofaxy, no one was particularly bothered with them until Filofax discontinued them, then all of a sudden everyone wanted them.

I really like the pocket configuration in this planner, much more so than the Malden. It has four pocket slots which allow the card to slot into the top, compared to the Malden’s two pockets which slide the card in from the side. In addition is also has the two pockets that the Malden has. Secondly – the thing I really love is that it has a massive in comparison to the malden zip pocket which allows you to put more coins in. In the back it has a full length secretarial pocket like the pocket Malden, but the mini Malden has the two slide pockets like in the front.

The thing that this Filofax is missing is the back full length slot on the Malden which is great for storing notes in.

I really like the Baroque feel on it. But I think this Filofax has too much leather in it. It doesn’t seem to lie as flat as the leather on my other Filofaxes and whilst I really like the inside. I really don’t like inside. Another feature I don’t like is the pen loop which sits outside of the planner, which means that when the Filofax is closed it has wrinkled.

I do really like the Baroque nature of the Filofax, but I think if I was to make this planner I would have removed some of the leather to give it that more taunt experience of the Malden , added in the note pocket and put the Baroque pattern on the front as well as the inside.

On the whole. I really like the zipped compartment and wish that the Malden had one as big. I am keeping my eyes out for a pocket version of it.

I got this ‘second hand’ off Ebay. It had been owned by someone else who had just kept it in the box. When I got it I was interested to see what a ‘second hand’ Filofax would be like. I was a bit nervous about ordering it. I opened it and my heart sank as it look like the rings had in-bedded in the leather and caused it to tear. I got out some polish and a cloth and gave it a clean to my relief I found it was just dust. So it arrived undamaged which was great. I would consider buying used again.

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Batman Returns (3 Stars)

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The legendary film where Michelle Pfeiffer wears the famous cat suit, apparently 40 cat suits were made for this film because they were so scarred of it ripping (with the cat claws and trying to get Pfeiffer out of the costume) but apparently it didn’t rip.

The film is like any other superhero movie – it has a formula and the formula works. It begins with the story of The Penguin (Danny Devito) whose been abandoned as a baby and raised by Penguins (yet somehow managed to learn English as well…we’ll suspend are disbelieve for this film). I loved the Burton feel to these scenes and the music by Danny Elfmann, it reminds me very much of other Burton films and I just like his style.

33 years later at Christmas he along with his the Red Triangle Circus Gang cause a riot at Christmas (so naturally it’s up there as a good Christmas film!). Max Shreck (Christopher Walken) a prominate business man is kidnapped and threatened into helping The Penguin. In the process, Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer) stumbles along some of Shreck’s plans and he attempts to kill her. She survives but suffers a mental breakdown, and takes on a new alter-ego of cat woman. Enter Batman (Michael Keaton) and ensuring plotline to stop The Penguin an Max Shreck’s evil doings.

The film is ok, it’s like most batman films. I particularly liked the Batman costume in this one – it looked more vigilante that the more modern Batmans (although Bruce Wayne has enough money to make an awesome Batman costume as we see from the later films).The script is nothing special, I didn’t find the acting that inspiring either. Danny Devito did look amazing in this film, I loved his makeup and costume and thought he looked particularly creepy as a villain. I did get a little bored towards the end of the film, it just wasn’t fast flowing and punchy enough. Keaton wouldn’t be my best Batman and despite a good attempt by Devito he is also not my favourite Batman baddie.

It’s ok as a film, but it’s brilliant as a Christmas film, saves you having to watch some other Christmasy films. I’m not a Christmasy person so unless there is violence in it I don’t want to watch it (the notable exception to this is Muppet’s Christmas Carol).


Carol (1 Star)

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Carol (Cath Blanchett) is an attractive and well off 1950s woman in the middle of a divorce from her husband (Kyle Chandler). Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) is a working class girl living on her own in a modest appartment with an uninspiring job in a Children’s store. She dreams of being a photographer, but lacks professional equipment and confidence. Therese’s boyfriend dreams of marrying her and sailing off to Europe, a dream Therese does not share. A chance encounter with Carol whilst she is buying a Christmas gift for her daughter sparks changes for the two women.

This film looked interesting from the advert, and I was not overly excited to watch it, but interested nonetheless. However, the film was just dull. I found Mara to be wooden and unconvincing and just boring to watch. Blanchett is an amazing and talented actress but even she failed to pull off a convincing seduction of Mara and the on screen chemistry between the two with absent throughout. The film just meanders aimlessly from beginning to end and doesn’t inspire you to want to sit until the end.