Archive for the ‘Everyday life’ Category

Why do toothbrushes fall over so easily?

27 August 2015 Leave a comment
Fallen over toothbrush

Dammit! Why do tooth brushes have to fall over all too easily?

I was thinking this morning, why do tooth brushes fall over on their side so easily?

Usually I put toothpaste on my wife’s toothbrush so it’s ready for her when she wakes up. It’s just a nice thing to do. It seems mean squirting toothpaste onto my brush (before I’m about to use it) but ignoring hers. She’s always up soon after me so the toothpaste won’t have a chance to go ‘hard’ and be yucky.

However the problem is that after you’ve put toothpaste on the toothbrush head and put it back down on the shelf/sink top/window ledge etc, instead of it staying upright, they’re too easy to knock so that they rock and fall over on their side. Thus getting a little dab of toothpaste on top of your bathroom shelf / sink or wherever, which you have to wipe off. Dammit!

A sturdier toothbrush base is required! One where it’s much more difficult for the toothbrush to rock and fall sideways.

Why have product designers at Colgate etc not realised this. It seems such common sense to me. You can surely still have a toothbrush with a nice grip etc, which they all seem to nowadays, but where it always sits well.

Categories: Everyday life Tags:

The 5 best men’s fragrances – aftershaves, EDTs and colognes

6 November 2014 2 comments

Liking a great aftershave or cologne admittedly is a very subjective thing. My idea of a great scent is probably very different to yours.

We’d both explain what are our favourites and why. And after arguing as usual you’d probably be right. But it’s my blog so I’m going to give you my top 5 best fragrances for men anyway!

In true pop-picker style I’ll run down from #5 to #1. I’ve shown alongside what the smell is described as by the brand marketeers and other internet fragrance experts.

At any point while reading you’re quite welcome (and wouldn’t be alone either) to say ‘What the hell does Sandalwood, Bergamot or Patchouli smell like anyway?

Aftershave vs. cologne vs. eau de toilette vs. perfume

First a brief explanation as to what the difference is between an aftershave, cologne, eau de toilette and perfume.

Essentially it’s do do with the concentration of the natural essential oils / perfume oils within the product. The more oils in the product the stronger it is and the longer it will last. Stronger doesn’t necessarily mean better though – as anyone gassed out by a strong perfume can tell you!

  • Eau de Cologne. This tends to contain about 7% essence. It doesn’t last long, so can be frequently reapplied directly to the skin. It tends to be marketed in large sizes of up to 200 ml and is often applied by spray.
  • Eau de toilette or EDT. Eeau de toilette can contain up to around 10% aromatic essence. The top notes – the first scent released by a perfume – are dominant, making it refreshing when it is applied. It then evaporates and fades away quite quickly. Eau de toilette and cologne are the most popular forms in which fragrances are sold. Confusingly the lines get blurred so sometimes this term is used to describe the same concentration as there is in men’s cologne.
  • Eau de parfum. The concentration of oils is over 15%, sometimes reaching as high as 20%. It usually lasts well and is sold in small sizes. After the top notes have died away, the middle notes or heart notes of a perfume become noticeable. This is the focus of eau de parfum which makes it perfect to spray on hair or clothing.
  • Perfume. The average concentration of essence in a perfume is 25% (though some can be up to 40%!), which makes it the longest lasting of all the scent categories. Only a tiny amount is needed, which is reflected in the sizes in which it is sold. It can also be called perfume extract or extrait and is often the most expensive version of any fragrance.

This post on the Shaving Room has a great explanation and goes into much more detail as to the differences between everything. As does good old Wikipedia on it’s Perfume page.

Usually any product aimed at men is a ‘fragrance’ whilst for the ladies it’s a ‘perfume’.

Top notes, middle notes and base notes

Using a musical metaphor, perfume is described as having three sets of notes making the ‘harmonious scent accord’. The immediate impression of the scent is known as the top note which then leads to the middle notes. The base notes gradually appear after as the final stage. All are created carefully by experts, who often can have backgrounds in chemistry or even design.

  • Top notes or head notes. These are the scents that immediately hit the senses after application of a perfume. Top notes consist of small, light molecules that evaporate quickly. They form a person’s initial impression of a perfume and are therefore very important in selling a perfume.
  • Middle notes or heart notes. These emerge just after the top note and form the main body of a perfume. It acts to mask the often unpleasant initial impression of the base notes, which become more pleasant with time.
  • Base notes: The longer lasting scent of a perfume that appears after the middle notes.  They are usually not noticed until 30 minutes after application.The base and middle notes together are the main theme of a perfume and bring depth to the fragrance or perfume.

Manufacturers of perfumes usually publish perfume notes and typically present it as fragrance pyramid, with the components listed in imaginative and abstract terms. Much like the naff arty adverts that often go alongside trying to sell such fragrances or perfumes!

My top 5 list

Number #5

Calvin Klein Eternity for Men

Calvin Klein Eternity for MenThis scent reminds me so much of Ralph Lauren Polo Sport but it’s far more rounded. It has a great after-smell and lingers for ages which makes it very effective.

The perfume shop says “The fragrance is fresh with woody tones and is very much a men’s classic. The initial coolness to the fragrance comes from a fresh mix of green botanicals, with a hint of lavender and mandarin”.

Whereas Fragantica goes into a bit more history – “launched in 1990. The nose behind this fragrance is Carlos Benaim.

  • Top notes are lavender, mandarin orange, bergamot and lemon;
  • Middle notes are coriander, lily, orange blossom, juniper berries, basil, jasmine, sage, lily-of-the-valley and geranium;
  • Base notes are sandalwood, amber, musk, vetiver and brazilian rosewood”.

How anyone can smell anything individual with so may ingredients is beyond me!

Number #4

Georgio Armani – Acqua di Gio

Georgio Armani - Acqua di GioA number of different websites rank this as their number one and for good reason. It’s just such a good overall sweetly rounded scent. It’s also very cheap to buy too. This ensures it’s often in the top 5 best sellers. £30 for a 200ml bottle can at a push be found on eBay for example.

So what do the experts say it smells like?

Well Boots say “This aquatic, aromatic fragrance opens with a splash of fresh calabrian bergamot, neroli and green tangerine. Light, aquatic nuances mix with jasmine petal, crisp rock rose, rosemary, fruity persimmon and warm Indonesian patchouli to create a masculine scent that is both fresh and sensual. Natural and authentic, it is the perfect fragrance for gifting.”

Whereas Fragrance Direct say “Inspired by the freshness of the sea, Giorgio Armani Acqua Di Gio Men Eau de Toilette Spray is a soothing, aquatic scent that brings a sense of richness to any man. With notes of bergamot, jasmine, rose and ambe, Acqua Di Gio is an invigorating fragrance that lingers seductively on the skin. With a classic and sleek glass bottle, Giorgio Armani Acqua Di Gio is a perfect fragrance for the modern man.”

Number #3

Calvin Klein – Obsession For Men

Calvin Klein - Obsession For MenThis is a really strong powerful fragrance that lingers for ages. A great aftershave.

It’s also come right down in price for how good it is too. For example Amazon have a 125ml bottle on offer at only £23!

FragranceX comment that it is recommended for office wear, adding “Obsession is classified as a refreshing, oriental, woody fragrance. This masculine scent possesses a blend of lavender, mandarin, clove, nutmeg and amber.” say “A casual but distinctive daytime scent from the iconic Calvin Klein, Obsession cologne for men is a spicy, moderate fragrance that balances its citrus notes with musky undertones. First introduced by Calvin Klein in 1988, Obsession for men has a rich, appealing construction that combines dominant notes of spice and mandarin with low tones of musk, amber and sandalwood. This appealing and resonant fragrance is the perfect choice for a broad variety of daytime events.”

Number #2

Issey Miyake – L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme

Issey Miyake - L'Eau d'IsseyWow, what a scent! I really love this smell. Very unique and recognisable.

Created by Jacques Cavallier in 1994 this is a great EDT to own.

The perfume Shop says “Since 1994, L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme has become a hallmark of sophistication in the world of fragrances. It awakens the senses with its blend of citrus, precious woods and spices. The pure, energising scent is perfect for a modern, independent man.”

I especially like Fragantica’s explanation – “Issey Miyake uses very unusual and rare materials in order to create perfumes that evoke the sense of timeless freedom and serenity. L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme was created as a universal Eau de Toilette perfect for any occasion.

L’Eau d’Issey for Men is a woody aquatic fragrance with:

  • yuzu as in top notes, along with notes of bergamot, lemon and tarragon.
  • A middle note is spicy and woody: nutmeg and water lily are an exciting and unexpected accord in this composition.
  • An end note carries an intense woody scent which is sharp and enriched with tobacco,sandalwood, cedar, vetiver and musk.”

Number #1

Acqua di Parma Colonia Eau de Cologne

Acqua Di Parma Colonia Eau De CologneCreated in 1916 (1916!!) this is my fave cologne and one I’d always wear. According to Colonia became a real symbol of Italian chic among American and European celebrities in the pre-war (1930’s) and post-war (1950’s) years. Cary Grant, David Niven, Ava Gadner and Audrey Hepburn were among the passionate admirers of Colonia.

It is in fact a unisex cologne and is possibly the greatest traditional eau de cologne available.

When you spray it on it has an initial invigorating, even cheerful burst of zesty freshness. Many other layers then reveal themselves afterwards to create an overall very elegant scent. Vintage even.

The great thing is as far as I know is it’s not especially well known either. So it’s quite unique to own and use.

I’d certainly recommend trying it if you can find it. The box and even the font on the bottle look timelessly cool too.

Here’s the blurb from the John Lewis website – “A unique and naturally fresh sensual scent that will linger for hours:

  • Top notes:Grapefruit, Mint, Blood mandarin
  • Heart notes:Rose absolute, Cinnamon, Spice
  • Base notes:Leather, Wood, Amber, Indian Patchouli”

House of Fraser says “Fresh, light and suitable for all seasons, Colonia is Acqua di Parma’s signature scent. An exquisite blend of Sicilian citrus fruit, English lavender, rosemary, verbena and deep sensual notes of sandalwood, cedar and mysore, Colonia is modern classic dedicated for both men and women.” says “A fresh, refined, and timeless fragrance for a pragmatic and successful man who loves tradition. A composition born from sunny Sicilian citrus fruits and the harmonious blend of floral essences such as lavender and damask rose that merge with woody notes of vetiver, sandalwood and patchouli in the base.”

Hint: Don’t get confused with the very similar ‘Colonia Assoluta’ which is slightly different.

Other colognes that I hear are great but haven’t had a chance to try yet

  • Bleu by Chanel
  • One Million by Paco Raban
  • Mont Blanc Legend for Him

Bleu de Chanel  One Million by Paco Raban  Mont Blanc Legend for Him

Ones I’ve tried and meh..

  • Man by Calvin Klein – underwhelming and a bit too bland in my view.
  • Uomo Ermenegildo Zegna cologne – smells almost identical to Man by Calvin Klein
  • Calvin Klein Contradiction Homme – OK but there’s better EDTs out there.
  • Liz Claiborne Lucky Number 6 Men – this isn’t actually too bad. The bottle is a naff design though and the top spray nozzle gets lost all too easily (as I found when I opened the box in my car once, only for the top to get lost down the side of the seat – doh!).
  • Chrome Cologne by Loris Azzaro – OK I guess. Nothing special in my eyes.

Man by Calvin Klein  Uomo Ermenegildo Zegna cologne  Calvin Klein Contradiction Homme  Liz Claiborne Lucky Number 6 Men  Chrome Cologne by Loris Azzaro

So what do you think?

Do you agree and like these men’s fragrances, or have I got it all wrong and I’ve missed a great one?

Do please comment below! I’d love to hear your comments.

Categories: Everyday life Tags: ,

Grammar: all the interesting bits you’ve probably forgotten

19 June 2013 Leave a comment
Grammar police

Grammar police (Photo credit: the_munificent_sasquatch)

Here’s a brief run down of a number of grammatical terms (that I think at least) we should be aware of. I’ve included examples so that they make more sense.

If you want a far better, more professional and trustworthy account please see the brilliant Grammar Monster site – The creator of this site is behind the highly enjoyable ‘Grammar for Grown-ups‘  book, which lists a number of brilliant quotes and quips to help highlight the below. I’ve used several of these quotes below – which I hope they don’t mind!

You’ll also notice that the below list is a real mish-mash. There’s no real thought behind it other than the bits of grammar that I find interesting! Enjoy!


An adjective is simply a describing word i,e squishy, excitingblue etc.


‘This post about grammar is simply fascinating‘. – Fascinating being the adjective.

“And though she be but little, she is fierce.” – William Shakespeare

On a similar nature a Compound Adjective is an adjective made up of two words, for example:

Three-storey house’ or ‘Best-known Director within the company’.


An adverb is similar to an adjective, but it instead modifies the verb in the sentence.

Adverbs tell us when, where, how, in what manner, or to what extent an action is performed.

They are often -ly words e.g. poorly or helpfully.

For example:

“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves”  – Thich Nhat Hanh. Drink is the verb (a doing word) whereas slowly is the adverb.

Or, ‘She sang beautifully‘. – Sang is the verb, beautifully is the adverb.


These join words together. The most  common are: and, or, but, because and so.

“This man is either dead or my watch has stopped.” – Groucho Marx

“I failed to make the chess team because of my height.” – Woody Allen


Interjections are words used to express strong feeling or sudden emotion. They are included in a sentence – usually at the start – to express a sentiment such as surprise, disgust, joy, excitement or enthusiasm.

Hey! Over here.’ or ‘Blimey, that was a close one’. – Where Hey and Blimey are the interjections.

Ah coffee. The sweet balm by which we shall accomplish today’s tasks.” – Holly Black


Is the term for anything with a name, be it:

  • people (e.g., man, worker)
  • animals (e.g., dog, giraffe)
  • places (e.g., city, road)
  • objects (e.g., table, car)
  • substances (e.g., water, rock)
  • qualities (e.g., heroism, sorrow)
  • actions (e.g., talking, eating)
  • measures (e.g., inch, stone).

‘The best thing about this pen, is that you write almost anything with it’ – Unknown goes into good detail regarding nouns.


A preposition is a word that precedes a noun or pronoun to describe its relationship to something else within the sentence.

Examples are the words in, under, toward and before.

“Courage is grace under pressure.” – Ernest Hemingway

“Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.” – Mae West


A pronoum replaces the noun in a sentence, to prevent you from having to repeat it again.

He, she, we, they, it are all pronouns.

“I take my children everywhere, but they always find their way back home.” – Robert Orben. Where ‘they’ is the pronoun, rather than having to say ‘my children’ again.

“My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where the hell she is.” – Ellen DeGeneres


Where a word or phrase is separated into two parts, with other words interrupting between them.

Abso-bloody-lutely‘ is such an example.

As is ‘Wel-diddly-elcome‘, a signature phrase of fictional character Ned Flanders from The Simpsons.


Verbs are doing words. They convey actions (bringreadwalkrunlearn), an occurrence (happenbecome), or a state of being (beexiststand).

“Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today.” – Mark Twain

“Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.” – Roger Miller

“Sometimes I think we’re alone. Sometimes I think we’re not. In either case, the thought is staggering.” – R. Buckminster Fuller

Morrisons supermarket’s website: the art of not giving the customer what they need

24 May 2012 1 comment

Morrisons website: the art of not giving the customer what they needWarning: a bit of a moan in this post…get it off the chest and all that.

After writing my post on the delicious Caipirinha cocktail, I was looking around at several supermarket websites to find who sold the much needed ingredient – Cachaça (ca-sha-sha) – and then compare  prices and buy a bottle.

How hard can it be I thought? “Hmm…Morrisons is the closest supermarket, so I’ll just quicklycheck their website to see if they sell it before nipping out at lunchtime”.

However after spending 20 mins or so looking around their site I was left dazed and confused (easy to do I guess) by the simple fact it doesn’t have a product finder.

Eh?? Surely a core objective of a shop’s website is to show what it sells…??

So I wrote to them (in a slightly disgruntled way) using the contact form on the Morrison’s website:

“Hi – my query is regarding the Morrisons website. The reason I wanted to write to you was to ask why there isn’t a product finder on your site. I wanted to know whether you sold Cachaça instead of having to head out to a busy store at lunchtime to find out, but your site made this impossible to actually do. I couldn’t find any details *(there’s not even a search function on your site!), so I left disgruntled by the poor website! The first rule of a good site for usability is ‘don’t make people think!’ It should be instinctive to use. Something which unfortunately your current site is not.”

And got back the reply below, pinning the blame on there being no home delivery service:

“Good afternoon Mr Atkinson, Thank you for taking the time to email us. I am sorry to hear that you are disappointed in our website. Currently our website shows all the offers and promotions that are in store at the moment.

Unfortunately it does not allow you to compare the prices of individual items. The reasoning behind this is because as of yet we do not offer a Home Delivery service at the moment; however we are currently in the midst of setting up trials for this provision. Although we do not have any dates when this may be available, I can assure you that appropriate signage and advertising will be presented around the store and in the media once we are confident that we are equipped to offer this facility.

Having checked our system I can see that we don’t actually stock Cachaça. We are always interested to hear what our Customers have to say and your comments are very valuable to us. I have taken the liberty of passing these onto my colleagues within the Company who are best placed to benefit from your feedback.

Kind regards, Charlotte Hargreaves Customer Services Department Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC”

Which is a fair enough response I guess.

So here’s a list of the top UK supermarkets that offer home delivery:

Which supermarket do you think is the best nowadays? Tell me your thoughts below:

Never argue with an Idiot: plus other advice to follow throughout life

6 May 2012 3 comments

I heard a great saying today ‘Never argue with an Idiot – he will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience’.

There’s a good post over at which goes into more detail about a similar Mark Twain quote ‘Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference’.

It got me thinking about what other top proverbs, mantras and advice everyone should follow throughout life.

Some which I live by are:

  • There are two sides to every coin.
  • Keep your head when all others are losing theirs.
  • Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future – concentrate the mind on the present moment.
  • Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.

Which one’s do you live by?

Caipirinha: a highly recommended cocktail

8 April 2012 1 comment

Caipirinha, the national cocktail of BrazilMy wife and I stayed overnight in London earlier this year and after a fantastic day enjoying the sights and sounds of the capital we succumbed to our rumbling tummies and settled down in a very funky latin american restaurant near Soho – Salsa on Charing Cross Road.

It was a great place to chance upon and we were lucky to end up there. The music was great, the décor funky and interesting. Plus it was busy and bustling with loads of friendly people having a great time together. All in all a great atmosphere, and an ideal place in which to grab a bite to eat and have a few bevies.

The best thing though was that we noticed all cocktails were half-price, so about £2.25 – not bad for London.

It was also clear from looking around at other people’s tables that they were a popular choice, rather than the bottles of Sol and San Miguel on offer.

And what a great selection there turned out to be: Margaritas, Daiquiris, Mojitos, and a delicious drink which was new to me – the Caipirinha.

As national drink of Brazil, the Caipirinha is a sassy drink designed for those who are sweet and sour. The prime ingredient, cachaca (distilled from sugarcane), tastes a bit like rum and with fresh lime, sugar and ice tossed in, is a delicious refreshing drink and one that slips down all too easily!

Caipirinha Ingredients (per drink)

Use a tumbler (low glass)

50ml Abelha Cachaça Silver or Abelha Cachaça Gold – buy it from Waitrose, or many other supermarkets in the UK
1/2 a Lime
2 heaped teaspoons Castor Sugar (fine white sugar)
Crushed Ice


  1. Cut the lime into quarters and then cut out and throw away the white core of the lime as it’s bitter. Cut the corners into smaller bits, and put half a limes worth in the tumbler glass.
  2. Add 2 heaped teaspoons of  sugar. Castor sugar dissolves consistently, but you can use Demerara or any other sugar if you wish. All appear to be used throughout Brazil and across the World.
  3. Muddle (squish) the limes. If you don’t have a muddler, use a rolling pin or similar implement, or just simply squeeze the juice out of the lime bits with your fingers.
  4. Fill the glass 3/4 full with crushed ice.
  5. Pour a 50ml shot of Cachaça over the ice.
  6. Mix but don’t stir the drink.
  7. Top the glass up with ice, uncrushed or crushed, and add a straw.
  8. Drink, enjoy and repeat until drunk!


How to make a caipirinha cocktail from Abelha Cachaca on Vimeo.

What’s your favourite cocktail?

Leave a comment below on what your favourite cocktail is and why.

I’m always on the search and willing to try something new!

Richard Madeley IS Alan Partridge

24 March 2012 1 comment

I usually listen to Radio 2 of a morning when I’m in the kitchen and making the kid’s breakfast, and am sad enough to admit I get a flutter of excitement whenever I realise Richard Madeley is standing in for Chris Evans.

The reason being is that he simply makes my day! I cannot help but imagine that it’s really Alan Partridge on the other end of the radio.

Sure enough as I’m listening, the following morsels of sound bites, social faux pas and general awkwardness come tripping over themselves into my ears…

“…loving your work, Lynn”..

…”When we were trying to conceive, I would douse my balls in icy cold water before intercourse’”…

…”Bangkok lady-boys are fascinating creatures…I’m merely confused by them, not attracted to them”… (well maybe not this one on the radio but you get my drift).

Looking at the above quotes you’d admit it’s hard to tell who they’re actually attributed to. Either (the brilliant) Alan Partridge, a fictional radio and television presenter portrayed by English comedian Steve Coogan, or (the equally brilliant, in our eyes) Richard Madeley, a real-life British television presenter and columnist who equally comes out with the most outrageous comments.

Richard Madeley IS Alan Partridge

Which one’s which??

It does’t stop there either.

Image the scene, a distressed lady who’s developed a Jamaican accent after some sort of neurological trauma is on the show and is being interviewed. She’s saying how unhappy she is about it, but the interviewer still can’t resist doing his Jamaican/Ali G accent whenever he can.

Or, calling people who stole garden plants ‘optimistic thieves’ instead of ‘opportunistic’.

Or, whilst interviewing Frank Sinatra’s daughter “It’s obvious you loved your father, but do you think you were actually in love with him?”

Or, whilst interviewing an actor who played a bisexual character in a film or a TV drama, then asking the actor if he was bisexual and who he would prefer to have sex with… himself or Judy.

See the for more brilliant examples.


Despite being a broadcaster, he is a socially incompetent and awkward character prone to one-upmanship, embarrassing social faux pas and displays of deep insensitivity to social norms.

His thoughtlessness and selfish lack of interest in anything beyond his own objectives exposes an unsympathetic character that is disliked and privately lampooned by many of those with whom he comes into contact.


An acknowledged expert on every subject, he was the host of the UK’s most popular tea-time talk show before he propelled satellite TV into a new era with his show on ‘Watch’. Sadly, that era was akin to the ‘Dark Ages’ but with lower viewing figures. He now divides his time between radio and voice-over work for a range of high performance mobility scooters.

His hobbies include skiing, water sports, breaking endurance records, and creating world-shattering inventions in his garden shed. His dislikes are many and include squirrels, tap dancers, turnips, rosy cheeked farmers, hostage situations, El Greco, Bulgaria, Tony Robinson, ear wax, the word ‘humungous’, Tetley tea bags, North Korea, Eric Clapton, suffragettes, mimosa, beard trimmers, duck tape, manilla envelopes, and 60s pop sensation Lulu.

He lives in London with his wife Judy.

(taken and adapted from the brilliant


We still wouldn’t have it any other way. We don’t want Richard to change. The cringe-worthiness and embarrassing episodes are just so entertaining and enthralling to witness that to not have him on our screens or hear him on the radio would be a huge shame.

Tell us below of any other moments of Richard Madeley magic…

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