Some loose ends

Hm. Well tonight I had been hoping to showcase shots of my newly installed kitchen appliances. Sadly, though the electrician DID spend four hours here this afternoon, the only thing he actually fitted was the coffee machine, and very nice coffee it makes indeed. As it should. So I am not yet @MsAppliance. I’m beginning to wonder if this project will ever be at an end. There are 10 days to go until the formal completion date and a seemingly unending amount of bits and bobs yet to be sorted out. My patience is wearing thin.

So instead I’ll take this opportunity to tie up a few loose ends. I find that, since I have been blogging every day, I no longer keep things in my head to fester. Once they have been committed to laptop, I tend to forget about them. Which is essentially a good thing for me but which means that I can get a little disorganised and confused if someone questions me about something I wrote last week, for example. I have no idea what I wrote about last week.

A few posts stick in my mind if I’m particularly proud of them, but only a few. I’m very pleased at how interactive this blog has become. It’s more of a conversation than a broadcast and I’m happy to encourage that: this is, after all, where I put things that I cannot express fully in 140 characters. If you have any suggestions or questions, I’m only too happy to hear them. If nothing else it means I have a few readers, for whom I’m most grateful.

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Let us start then with the faulty pump on the Hourglass Veil Foundation bottle. I tweeted Hourglass, who (almost) immediately sent me a replacement pump. The problem is that their Veil foundation is too thick for their pump. Apparently they will be revising the packaging at some point soon. I bought the foundation through Net-A-Porter and they immediately sent me another bottle. So now I have two bottles of foundation and two working pumps. Which is nice as I’ve decided that it is really my favourite foundation so far. I am somewhere between a Light Beige and a Beige colour, which is a tad disheartening. I’d much rather be something that sounds nicer like honey or caramel or perfectly done toast instead. Does that verge on the racist? I don’t know.

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At the weekend I told the sorry tale of my Clinique Purifying Cleansing Brush. After several tweets and emails to various branches of this Estee Lauder brand – and the customer service email is elusive on their website – I received a somewhat garbled email and a couple of follow-up phone calls. Apparently the crazy behaviour is a known fault with these brushes, which has since been corrected, but the customer service person I spoke to was unable to help me ascertain why this was happening. Apparently they have rectified the situation now. So today I received a product recall Jiffy bag and apparently they are sending me new brush in the post. I haven’t received that yet though.

I must admit that I was surprised by all this. I would have expected a huge multinational like the Estee Lauder Corporation to have a more professional system of handling complaints but in a way it was quite sweet that they were obviously not used to handling calls such as mine. Perhaps it indicates that they don’t receive that many complaints. Or perhaps I’m being optimistic. Whichever way, I’m surprised not to have seen a general product recall if this was a known fault. You only have to look at the reviews on the John Lewis website to see how their brand is being damaged by this faulty product. I feel like adding my own review with a YANBU (You Are Not Being Unreasonable) explanation.

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Finally tonight I’ll post a reply from my MP, Colonel Bob Stewart DSO etc, to my plea to him to vote against the laws on fox hunting being changed to make it easier to hunt foxes with multiple dogs. I was quite cross with his response to me. I found it rather patronising. Here it is:

Dear Mrs Beecroft

Thank you for your e-mail containing your views on fox hunting and any changes to the law concerning how it is carried out if and when the House of Commons takes up the matter again. I have received a huge number of e mails on this subject. To be honest I am rather surprised and a little shocked too that this subject has raised far more e mails than matters like child protection, female genital mutilation in the UK or modern slavery for women. However it is clearly a matter of great concern to you and I wanted to say where I stand on the subject – at least right now.

To be honest I wish the whole subject had not been introduced by the Government as I feel we have other massive problems which are a priority first. But I suppose that’s life!

I suspect you may know that fox hunting in the traditional way with hounds was banned in Scotland in 2002 and within England and Wales in 2004. However in a modified form hunting with hounds and subsequent shooting of their quarry, foxes, remains within the law and certainly destroying them as vermin is still lawful. Personally, despite having been an infantry officer with some combat experience, I have never hunted or shot any animal as a sport. I simply don’t like the thought.

I was not an MP in 2004 but I recall thinking at the time that there was an element of political nastiness (dare I say class envy) about the law changes in England and Wales. As I recall the House of Lords revised the bill to make it easier to apply and more sensible but many in the House of Commons simply wanted to make a point without regard to the real mechanics of enforcement and operation. So the House of Commons rejected the Lords’ amendments which were, I thought, more humane and practical.

Actually the current proposed adjustment of the law was not its repeal or indeed a gateway to the law being scrapped. What was being suggested is far more about farmers, particularly upland ones, having the ability to flush out foxes as pests which take their livestock. Traditional hunts would still have to kill their quarry with a shot rather than hounds.

I must say we here in South East London are flooded out with foxes which some people encourage even further by feeding. There are too many foxes around us – existing largely on scraps and rubbish that we humans either discard, throw away or give them. I wish we could reduce their numbers as they are starting to be a menace; brazenly coming into people’s houses – and they may even have attacked a couple of children. However the urban fox around us here was not what this revision of the law is all about. It is about foxes in the countryside.

The last hunt which took place in the constituency area apparently took place starting at Beckenham Junction Station in 1901! So in truth this matter has little impact on our lives here on the borders of London and Kent. But that is not the case of many who live in the countryside proper. They feel that they know best about how to manage foxes and I acknowledge their primary right to that view.

Just to get a feel of what most constituents – not just those that e mail me normally as part of a campaign – felt about fox hunting I asked 130 constituents a few days ago whether they supported changing the rules on fox hunting or not. By a large margin most people asked thought the rules should be changed and not left as they were. Some people admittedly didn’t care less. At least that snap poll, imperfect as it was, gave me a feel of what those constituents felt about the subject.

I understand those who argue for revision and I have listened to those who think fox hunting should not happen at all. My rough and ready opinion poll also suggested that the people I asked favoured a change to the rules. Based on that I should favour revising the law.

However, as your MP, I am a representative and not a delegate – which means I am elected to make my own mind up. I have promised to do that many times to constituents over the last year or so when I have promised them that I would think hard about hunting.

With best wishes

Bob

Now, I wasn’t entirely surprised by this reply, though I did find it rather patronising: him wondering why I should worry my pretty little suburban head about an issue that didn’t really concern me. And I was incensed at his comment about his surprise that he had received more correspondence about this than child protection; female genital mutilation and modern slavery for women. Does he mean that these are the issues with which women should concern themselves?

I’m afraid I could not let that pass so I replied briefly saying that obviously these matters concerned me but that I had assumed that his views would not differ from mine (and those of all right-thinking people) on these subjects. I also reminded him of the widely-cited BBC poll suggesting that 80% of country people are against fox hunting. To date I have received no reply. The fox hunting vote was shelved until the autumn, as we know, but I’m glad I had my say.

As I said, if there’s anything you want to ask me, do. I could do one of those Ask Me Anything things, couldn’t I?

Clinique Purifying Cleansing Brush – A review

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Clinique Sonic System

 

Well, how utterly annoying!

I bought the Clinque Purifying Cleansing Brush for a smidgeon under £80 in April. I couldn’t really afford it but the vastly extravagant Eve Lom cleansing balm and washcloth method wasn’t sufficiently clarifying for my combination skin when compared with the Clarisonic brush I’d used before.

I stopped using my reluctantly-sent Clarisonic review freebie because I found it really difficult to clean the bit behind the brush head. The brush didn’t ever dry out properly, and mould would grow if I didn’t make sure I cleaned it every week. It’s the sort of thing for which Lakeland designs specialist cleaning gizmos and, let’s face it, you don’t want to be putting a mouldy vibrating brush on your skin every night, do you?

I admit, my inquisitive, acquisitive nature makes me a marketing person’s dream: I love gadgets and, partly due to this blog (or using this blog as an excuse, if I’m truthful,) I like to try out new things to review them honestly. So imagine my unalloyed joy when I came across this brush at the Clinique counter of John Lewis. OK, so it was Clinique and therefore hardly a niche luxury brand but all those white coats and dermatologically-tested pictures of water splashes caught against a pristine background are persuasive in making the poor customer think that this company knows all about skincare.

I used Clinique in my 20s when I had rampantly oily combination skin. It was fine, I used it for years but, in truth, I became bored of using such a vanilla product. Blame my infamous #lowboredomthreshold if you like. For this reason it was a little retro and comforting to return to Clinique: like some long lost Auntie who brews tea in a brown teapot with a cosy on it and produces a lemon drizzle cake whenever you pop around to visit every 20 years.

Now, I’ve had the Clinique Cleansing Brush in mind for a blog post ever since April because I’ve loved it so much. The charge on the brush seems to work forever, which is just as well because it’s difficult to see the little light that tells you whether or not it’s fully charged. It’s compact enough to fit into my make up bag for India without worrying about taking the charger and, with its Foaming Sonic Soap wingman, it’s a pretty cool and effective product.

I have found a real improvement in the general squeaky cleanness of my skin, although I admit that the foaming sonic soap does leave it a little dry. Using the No2 Clarifying Lotion was also a bit of a step back in time for me, but a welcome one given the improved state of my skin. Turns out Auntie Clinique knew best all along.

As I say, I’d been meaning to review the brush and its mates on this blog for ages and was about to do it this weekend when a very strange thing happened. I was sitting in my bedroom hiding from the allergen dust of my building work on Friday when I heard a strange drilling noise. After a while I realised that it was emanating from my bathroom and when I investigated I realised that my Clinique brush had switched itself on and was buzzing way like an unsophisticated sex toy on top of my wash basin. “Buzz!” it went. “Buzzzzzzzzz.” As I am Queen of the Unnecessary but Desirable Gadget, I took this as a clever warning that I should charge my brush forthwith so I placed it in the cradle of its charger, checked that the orange charging light was blinking – it was, intermittently – and left it.

At about 4am, I was woken up by a very plaintive “Buzz!” The brush had turned itself on and was vibrating away like something from Lovehoney on my bedroom floor. I’m not going to elaborate further on that mental picture. And so it continued throughout yesterday. I thought perhaps that it had exceeded its charge so I removed it from the charger and placed it back on my wash basin. The next time it switched itself on, it buzzed its way into my basin, more lemming than Titanic survivor.

I was out last night but the startled OH was so disturbed by the highly charged buzzing that he secreted it deep in the ottoman, which served as an amplifying soundbox. In the end, he wrapped the amorous brush in a towel, thrust it deep into a bag and left it downstairs to calm down.

So, with some difficulty, I eventually tracked down the Customer Service number on Clinique’s website to find that they available to their customers only on Mondays to Fridays. I sent them an email and I tweeted them with this video of the machine but as yet I have heard nothing back from them.

To add insult to injury, I am told that this is a common fate for these nifty little machines. Plenty of reviewers on the John Lewis site and others report marvellous effects on the skin until one day the brushes turn themselves on and cannot be turned off or cannot be recharged; or cannot be turned on again because they have died. For some reason this scenario reminds me of the fate of Nana the courtesan in Zola’s eponymous novel: fantastically high class while she lasted but ultimately fated to return to society’s dustbin after a short, glittering career. £80 is a lot to pay for something that dies after 4 months. As I write the brush is sitting plaintively in its charging cradle. We shall see if we can bring it back from the dead.

For this reason it is with great and extreme sadness that I cannot recommend the Clinique brush. If Clinique ever bother replying to me, I shall post their response here.

Update 29/10/2016

I have sent my fourth Clinique Sonic Brush back to the company. The other three went nuts after charging; the third one took until its third charging session before it went the way of the others. I bought a replacement and charged it only for it lot lose charge after 10 days.

Estée Lauder, Clinique’s parent company, have been more than gracious in their speedy refunds but I wish they had tried this product BEFORE putting it on the market. My experience seems typical. Instead, I’ve bought a Clarisonic Mia Fit, with which I’m very pleased even though it seems to be drying my skin a little. We shall see.

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The cost of ageing

I have just about managed to pick myself up off the floor. Dizzy with the shock of the bill, I wheeled past the Krispy Kreme donut stall in Bromley and sought immediate comfort in a strawberry glazed. Of course, I felt no better afterwards, and the sheer pain of it all had become overlaid with a miasma of guilt at yet again turning to eating carbs for comfort.

What caused this horror of horrors? I’d just been presented with the bill for my new glasses: an ordinary pair and a pair of prescription sunglasses. I have now reached the point where it is illegal for me to drive without glasses. Again.

I first found out about my short-sightedness at the age of 7 when my parents received a letter to say that the authorities had found a DEFECT in my vision. Even at that age, my shame in my imperfection knew no bounds. I cried and cried and felt awfully ashamed at being so defective but didn’t talk to anyone about my feelings because I don’t think there was anyone around who would listen.

My parents eventually took me to the optician’s to measure me up for those pink NHS framed glasses – do you remember them? There were utterly dreadful and didn’t suit me at all but this was not a concern to take seriously. So great was my embarrassment and shame that I never wore them and I can probably blame the non-development of my hand/eye coordination on the fact that I simply couldn’t see properly.

A succession of cheapest and ugliest possible frames that I’d never wear later, including being forced to change and wear glasses in order to learn to drive,  and finally I had an income and a credit card and contact lenses. Which suited me well until I realised that they had become uncomfortable and unsustainable. I don’t like the concept of daily wear disposable lenses. I don’t like the concept of disposable anything, really.

To cut a long story short I had LASIK surgery on my eyes in 2001 and never looked back. Honestly, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done and improved my confidence no end. Suddenly I was having debates and argument with all sorts of people! This was great until I realised a few years ago that I was squinting at the signs on the motorway. I mentioned this at my annual checkup and was told I was borderline shortsighted but came away with some glasses I saw as optional.

Today, however, I was presented the bad news that I have to wear glasses when driving otherwise I don’t meet the legal requirement for visual acuity. I’ve had to pay hundreds of pounds for a new pair of varifocals and a pair of corresponding prescription sunglasses and, with my half century looming next week, it feels like another nail in the coffin, another reminder of mortality. And an expensive one, at that.

I’m told that my eyes are currently changing so there’s no point in me having further surgery at the moment which would have probably to be repeated a couple of years down the line. When I enquired about lens replacement surgery, the sort that they do to correct cataracts, I was told that I’m probably too young for that to achieve a satisfactory result at present, since the replacement lenses are still quite rudimentary. How we take our eyes and brains for granted!

So it’s back to glasses for me. I chose a statement black Dolce and Gabbana pair, which is why it has set me back so much money. Frivolous and first-worldy I know, but this time I don’t want to cower behind my glasses, rather celebrate them as a style choice. I’m never hiding behind horrible glasses again.

On the bright side, wearing glasses will help hide my eyebags and wrinkles. It’s an ill wind.

Cleaning your makeup brushes

You can scroll on down right now, @Casserly_Rock. This post is not for you.

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Cleaner wars

A while ago I discussed taklon make up brushes and, specifically my new, expensive Hourglass ones with which I am replacing the Bobbi Brown ones I’d had for years and that were starting to show their age.

If you use a foundation brush, it’s important to cleanse it after every use not least to prevent a build up of dirt and bacteria but also because a gunky foundation brush, clogged up with foundation goo is really, really icky, to use the technical term.

What do we use to clean it, however? Well, Bobbi Brown used to make two different sorts of makeup brush cleaner, a spray one for a quick fix temporary clean and disinfect and a more detergent-like one, washing up liquid for brushes. I’ve used both. I rejected the former pretty much straight away because I don’t think it cleans much at all. I used the latter for years but recently found that it was not so effective at removing non-Bobbi Brown foundation from brushes. Or perhaps that was just me.

When I bought the Hourglass bushes I asked counter staff what they used to clean them and they replied that they used surgical spirit. Rubbing my hands with glee, I purchased a 5ooml bottle from Boots for about £4.95. It does work up to a point, yes, and it’s cheap but I soon found that my expensive new taklon fibre foundation brush was disintegrating on my face and had become a #minsgame chucking candidate.

It’s all very well for Hourglass sales reps to say they use surgical spirit: when their brushes start to fall apart, they can just unpack a new brush and use that.

Now, I’ve heard that people use shampoo to clean their brushes but I’ve never found it that successful at removing even oil free foundations. Following the shampoo logic, however, took me to the Aveda counter, where the assistants immediately told me that their Scalp Benefits shampoo often went missing, taken by all the cosmetics counter sales staff to clean their own brushes. So I bought a bottle.

I can categorically say how delighted I am with my purchase. I don’t think my make up brushes have been this clean in months: every last trace of foundation; long wear concealer; blush has been categorically removed from my brushes. At £18 for a 250ml bottle, it’s considerably cheaper than the Bobbi Brown stuff and also the surgical spirit, once you factor in the cost of a new foundation brush every month.

Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer Oil-free: a review

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHaving started to use primers only in the past few months, I am completely converted to their use under foundation. Somehow they act as a sort of weightless undercoat to smooth skin and illuminate it through the foundation.

I’ve tried a Smashbox primer and the Chanel one but then came across the Hourglass display in John Lewis, tried this and was hooked. I’m not sure whether it makes me look better, though I think it does. It certainly clings onto my carefully painted face all day and somehow gives me a radiance that is difficult to describe. I was told by counter staff that this product renders one’s make-up water-resistant. I can’t vouch for that but my eyes are certainly watery in the sping and the Veil foundation I use over the top of this did not go anywhere.

So let’s establish that I adore this product and would always want to keep some in both my home make-up drawer and in my gym bag.

There’s a big HOWEVER to this, though. Marketing includes the method of consumption and  in the case of Hourglass this is a pump dispenser. I’ve already had to raise a complaint with Hourglass about a faulty pump dispenser for the Veil foundation – I had my pump replaced by Hourglass and a new foundation sent to me by Net-A-Porter- because the product is often too thick to be handled by the pump, which it clogs too quickly.

In the case of the primer, however, the product seems to separate in the bottle meaning that when you pump it out you get only the waterier part of the primer coming out onto your hand and I’m not sure that this wheyish fluid has the same effect as the whole product. What is left in the tube is much thicker and, if you scoop it out onto your hand, it appears more convincing at doing its job properly.

This product is expensive – £50 for 30ml – so I am dismayed that it seems to melt away to next to nothing in its bottle over time. Look at the picture of the bottle: I’m sure I haven’t used that much but now face having to buy more primer after only about 2 or three months. It’s as if I had carefully whipped up an Italian meringue and a few months later the air had leached out of the product and it had ended up as a tiny bit of sugar in the bottom of a bowl.

I have seen squeezy tubes of this Veil primer at £70 for 60ml, which seems better value, especially if the product does not separate or disappear in the tube. It looks as if I’ll be buying one of these imminently so please do help me confirm or deny the feedback I have assumed. Apparently Hourglass are changing their packaging from August this year and I hope it works out with the new delivery of primer.

 

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