Toffee Apples




It’s Autumn and in the shops are the sickly-sweet red toffee apples. A sticky, cellophane-wrapped Bonfire Night treat for many, but retailing often north of £1.00 a piece, are they worth it?

This simple, fast, recipe makes the perfect toffee apples, for about £0.25p a piece using mainly store cupboard ingredients.

Sadly, I cannot offer an answer as to how the ones from the shop or carnivals are red, one assumes food colouring but to be honest that doesn’t add much.

Although not healthy by any stretch of the imagination, these are vegetarian, vegan, gluten and nut free. They would make nice presents wrapped in cellophane and ribbon and last up to four days.


  • 400g golden caster sugar
  • 100ml cold water
  • 4 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 6-8 Granny Smith or Russett apples
  • tiny bit of apple cider vinegar (less than a teaspoon)
  • Lollipop sticks



  1.  Place a heavy-bottomed pan on a medium heat, add the sugar and water and stir occasionally- this will take about 7/8 minutes.
  2. Whilst the sugar and water is cooking, blanch the apples in water from the kettle. When the waxy coating on the apple appears to have gone remove them from the water, twist out the stalk and put a lollipop stick in the stalk end of each apple
  3. Stir in the vinegar and golden syrup to the sugar mixture in the pan.
  4. Leave to thicken, stirring occasionally.
  5. Carefully pour the toffee over the apples and place them on greaseproof paper that is also slightly oiled to set.

If lollipop sticks are an issue, the caramel mixture can be added to chopped apples to make a nice base for an apple pie.  Another tasty trick is coating peeled bananas in toffee and allowing them to set as the base for a retro but non-traditional banana split.



Kylie Cosmetics Koko Kollection review

After some scepticism about the cost including imports tax and postage, I finally bit the bullet. I’m not a Kardashian/Jenner devotee, and as such purely bought this because I had seen Kylie Jenner’s lipsticks being regarded highly in reviews.

Let’s discuss the price point first- A lip kit, single, posted to be would have worked out at nearly £40, so it was a better option to get the entire Koko Kollection for which I paid £55. The collection does not come with lip liners, but I own plenty of lip liners in similar shades anyway so I do not feel overly hard done by.

First impressions:

After steeling myself for the price tag, I was surprised at how quickly it came. It was well packed and not damaged. The box that houses the collection is pretty and sparkly (can’t complain) and displays the products nicely.


The shades are called Bunny, Baby Girl, Doll and Sugar Plum.  Sugar Plum is a gloss and the rest are matte.


The formula seems to be good; the matte lipsticks aren’t too drying (obviously apply a lip balm underneath) and the gloss isn’t too sticky.


I did an experiment and swatched all four shades on my hand before bed. When I woke up none of the matte colours had smudged or budged. Understandably, the gloss had been wiped away. I had a bath in the morning and despite scrubbing my hand the swatches would not budge- I had to scrub again with make-up remover to get rid of them. These are VERY long lasting and transfer-proof lipsticks.



These are very good lipsticks, but the availability is low as there is no official UK stockist. I would pay good money for them, but I think when the postage and taxes are added they are a little too pricey and hard to obtain. There are plenty of easily available lipsticks in the UK that do as good a job for the fraction of the price- such as the Morphe liquid lipsticks.

I think it was worth getting one collection, perhaps just so I could try them and admire their beauty. I don’t think I will be adding more Kylie lipsticks to my collection until they come to the UK, if they indeed are at all.

8/10. Would be a ten if they were easier to obtain and more cost effective.

Making blackcurrant cordial/ Picking your own fruit

It’s typically British to see an overcast, slightly rainy day and yearn to go outside. I am lucky in that where I live I am nestled between the Home Counties’ finest coastline and countryside, each no more than ten minutes from my house.

I had seen a recipe for making your own version of Ribena, a rich blackcurrant cordial and decided that I fancied giving it a bash.  I went and picked my own fruit at Roundstone Pick Your Own ( as this is where I used to enjoy going so much as a child, it’s nostalgic, cheap, and beautiful with acre upon acre of crops. If you are not able to walk far there is a tractor that drops you off in each field should you require it- meaning that people of all ages and abilities can enjoy picking their own food.

It must be said there is something enormously cathartic about picking your own fruit- it is gratifyingly hard and enormously satisfying, and I suspect, fresher than the supermarkets’ offerings, although perhaps ever so slightly more pricey.


  • 500g Blackcurrants
  • 200g White sugar
  • The juice of half a lemon


Whack all of the ingredients in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat and leave until there is ample juice and the fruit squishes. This should take approximately ten minutes. After this sieve, and put the fluid aside to cool in a sterilised bottle. For a bonus, you can make a crumble with the leftover fruity mush- I just added apple to make it sweeter.

Video because I don’t take myself seriously.

De’Lanci Glitter Palette Review

De’lanci is a relatively new online brand of cosmetics, I noted them when I saw excellent reviews on a ‘dupe’ of the well-known Morphe 350 palette around Christmas time.

This palette retails on Amazon here for £23.99.


First Impressions

As the order is fulfilled by Amazon, it was well packed in Amazon’s signature card packaging.

The palette is in a sparkly gold cardboard casing housed snugly within a sparkly gold cardboard slip. These were pleasant, but when the palette is nearing the price of some higher end palettes, I would have hoped perhaps for metal or plastic as I worry about how well this palette would survive in a suitcase or if I accidentally spill a drink on it- perhaps the cardboard would get wet and tear. I have resolved to be careful with it, but it is thick cardboard and as such does feel quite sturdy and the simple glitter finish looks sleek and very aesthetically pleasing.

Colour Payoff

Obviously, with buying online, one cannot test the product and as such buying it was a gamble. I am, however, very glad that I did. The glitters are quite chunky and knit together nicely to avoid being ‘gappy’. I think that with a base eye shadow under they can be patted on to get the desired effect. As the glitter is self-adhesive it requires no glue, and thus, no mess, hurrah!

There is some fallout, but that is to be expected with any glitter product. Overall the product stays well.

There is a good range of colours within the palette, although some of the lighter shades do not provide as much in the way of pigment, they are buildable and the darker and brighter colours go on fabulously with a finger or a brush.


I rate this 8/10. It is a great palette and I am glad I took a chance on it and would recommend it. I think the packaging could perhaps do with a bit of improvement to make it look more high end for its price, or perhaps the price could go down a little bit. This is a very minor criticism though, as the formula is what matters and that is spot on.



Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask Review

The Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask has been sweeping the internet and is everywhere on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram. It it can be purchased from Amazon here for £3.99.

I was sceptical, as with most cheap Chinese beauty products from the internet, I wanted it for the novelty factor but did not have much hope of it being high quality or particularly usable.

First Impressions

It took about three weeks from ordering to arrival but this was as expected. The packaging looked good quality, as with many things like this the instructions on it were in badly translated Chinese and as such were basically impossible to follow. The premise of it is the same as any other face mask- you make sure you have a clean face and apply the product and then wait approximately fifteen minutes before washing it off.

The smell is nice; fresh, like green tea. It is a weird texture, as opposed to being thick and super viscous and ‘heavy’ like traditional clay masks, it has a thick almost jelly texture.


I put the product on, it spread nicely and felt refreshingly cool on the skin. There was no irritation. After about a minute it started bubbling on my face, which felt so interesting and tingly. I really liked this feeling. It was fun to watch in the mirror as the bubbles kept growing on my face, leading me to look like the moon from The Mighty Boosh.

After fifteen minutes I patted down the bubbles on my face, popping them, then massaged in and rinsed off the product with water.

My skin felt nice and soft after using it, but no more soft than a 99p packet face mask from Superdrug would have made it feel.

I wouldn’t say this is a wonder product, but if taken on face value- a large pot of decent face mask with the fun novelty bubbling factor, I was very impressed.




First Coercive Control Conviction in Sussex

The new offence of exercising coercive and controlling behaviour in an intimate or family relationship was created by Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015. This sought to address the problem of being able to prove that there had been a series or pattern of events equating to harassment against the victim. Case law, such as the cases of Curtis [2010] and Widdows [2011] provided a temporary patch but were not justifiable as a permanent solution.

For one to have committed an offence under the Act, they have to have had a relationship with the victim- be it familial or romantic, during which they have repeatedly or continually acted in a way that is harassing, controlling, or coercive and has a serious effect on the victim which the perpetrator ought to have known. The ‘effect’ on the victim must have caused them to be fearful that violence could have been used against them at least two times, and/or has a substantial adverse effect on the victim’s day-to-day activities.

To be convicted of this crime, the perpetrator may have used behaviours that humiliate, dehumanise, or control the victim. This includes but is not limited to: controlling who the victim sees or contacts, controlling the victim’s finances, using spyware, controlling what the victim wears or any other routine aspect of their day and threatening or talking derogatively to the victim in order to make them feel shame or worthlessness.

Presently in Sussex eleven people have been charged awaiting trial under the Act, with a further fifty one cases being investigated.  Friday 19th May saw the first conviction for ‘controlling and coercive behaviour’ in the county.  24-year old Robert Conlon of St Leonards has been sentenced to four and a half years in prison following a guilty plea. Four years of the sentence was with regard to the coercive control Mr Conlon subjected his ex partner to, with further penalties for actual bodily harm, and a concurrent sentence of six months for attempting to pervert the course of justice by making contact with the victim in a failed attempt to get her to withdraw her evidence. Mr Conlon is also subject to an indefinite restraining order, meaning that upon his release from prison he will not be allowed to contact the victim or enter Sussex for the foreseeable future.

Detective Sargeant Steve Shimmons commented that Conlon had embarked on a series of behaviours that controlled every aspect of the victim’s life, such as telling her who she could and could not see and what she was allowed to wear. He also threatened violence against the victim on several occasions and would turn up at her workplace to keep an eye on her whereabouts.

Detective Chief Inspector Ali Eaton said on Sussex Police’s website; “This case shows how such behaviour has a devastating and long-lasting impact on the lives of victims, who often don’t initially realise that it is a crime.­” This reflects the truly horrific nature of crimes such as this, where a victim can be so blinded by love and emotion that they may not realise until it is too late that what has been happening to them is abusive and wrong.



Blue Whale Challenge is ‘cleansing society’

I have previously written about the Blue Whale Challenge and you can find the original post further down this blog. This is an update post.

Twenty-one-year-old Philipp Budeikin is remanded in custody in Russia pending trial about his founding of sick social media craze ‘The Blue Whale Challenge’. This ‘competition’ sees participants complete forty-nine days of self-harming (ranging from watching execution videos to cutting themselves) which are all sent to an online ‘curator’ to prove that they did it. The fiftieth day of the game encourages the participant to ‘jump from a high building, killing yourself’ although other methods of suicide are allowed. The game began in 2013 but has only been common knowledge since 2016 after a spate of suicides in Russia were linked to it.

Budeikin is to go on to be sentenced for inciting numerous teenagers across Russia to take their own lives by means of competing in this craze. He has confessed to concocting this game and said ‘ There are people – and there is biological waste. Those who do not represent any value for society. Who cause or will cause only harm to society. I was cleaning our society of such people’, referring to the children who have sadly died.

The game is not one a youth of a ‘normal’ constitution would play except for perhaps in a peer pressure context. It would appear to have been thought out to encourage those already struggling with depression and other mental health issues. The participants of the game seem to be generally teens who complain online of loneliness, isolation, and a lack of love from their families. It would seem Budeikin targeted said youngsters to be caught up in his craze, and knew his audience. In essence, it is giving those who may perhaps have felt low but not had the ‘courage’ to harm themselves or take their life a negative sort of support in order to encourage such behaviour. Budeikin stated that his Blue Whale Curators were not destructive, and rather were making the children ‘die happy’ after giving them the ‘warmth, understanding, and connections’ that they lacked in their real lives. Anton Breido, from the Investigative Committee has conceded that Budeikin ‘very clearly knew what he had to do’ to get the following that he so wanted and further his aims.

After humble beginnings in the deep dark corners of the internet four years ago, Budeikin has had the chance to make his game even more devious, and work out how to market it. At first, the game included killing animals and participants cutting through their own veins. The game as it presently is mixes up psychedelic and horror videos with varying degrees of self-mutilation until the participants end their life to ‘win’. His ‘curators’ target depressed and vulnerable teenagers on social media sites such as VK, Twitter, and Instagram. The ‘curators’ carefully pick easily manipulated victims and know how to spot these online.

Despite his wicked actions he is being inundated with letters from lovelorn teenagers sent to Kresty Prison, St Petersburg for his attention. In some circles, he has reached cult-like levels of veneration previously seen by the likes of Charles Manson. Young girls especially have claimed in the post that they love him. As a policy, Russian prisons allow these letters to reach Budeikin and cannot prevent his receiving of them so long as they do not contain any prohibited items.

Philipp Budeikin in court_1_Vkontakte_east2west.jpg

Budeikin, picture credit: Vkontakte/east 2 west


Sussex Police E-Fit Woes

Sussex Police have caused much confusion and amusement with the release of this e-fit. Instead of being a sim-esque caricature of Prince, or the latest member of the Village People, the (badly) pictured man in a dapper neckscarf is wanted on suspicion of grabbing and dragging a 13 year old girl in a cemetery near Brighton at 08:10 on April 26th 2017. She managed to break free and was unharmed.

Anyone with information on this jazzy suspect is urged to call the police non-emergency number 101.

Inside (HMP) Isis

Disclaimer: I visited HMP Isis lately and these are my findings. I have asked permission to publish this and it was granted.

HMP Isis is a relatively new Category C male prison opened in 2010 in Woolwich. Formerly a Young Offenders Institute it now takes prisoners between the ages of 18 and 40, with this set to increase slowly over the following years as the increased age has helped to reduce the number of gangs in situ from approximately 80 to approximately 40. Care is taken to keep gang members apart and Trident play an active role in getting prisoners to shun gangs altogether.

There are still provisions for young offenders; prisoners do not join the ‘adult’ populous until they are 21 years and an amount of days old. Until then they are kept separately.

The Prison has two ‘houses’ Thames and Meridian. One houses the younger offenders, and the other everyone else. Despite it being a newer prison, in style it is similar to Pentonville, with the high hexagonal ceilings and ‘spurs’ coming off making up cell block wings. There is a capacity of around 600 inmates.

The Prison has basic medical facilities but no on-site hospital. For medical treatment prisoners go elsewhere.

HMP Isis only takes sentenced prisoners as it is not a remand or ‘holding’ prison. Prisoners must have an under ten year sentence, but most likely they are there for under six years. Technically, someone can end up in Isis for any offence, as they may serve the tail end of their sentence there for a serious crime or be sent there for less serious offences. Although sex offenders can be sent to this prison, it is not common because they do not run an SOP programme.

As the prison is on the grounds of HMP Belmarsh and Woolwich Crown Court it is more secure than perhaps the average Category C Prison, and has had no escapes and no instances of drone use to drop off prohibited items to inmates.

As with any prison there is an underground currency of drug smuggling and dealing. Every care is taken to search incoming prisoners. Facilities include drug searches, testing, dogs, and a special chair that can detect electrical devices concealed within the person. As most prisoners have come from holding prisons, it is also hoped they were searched thoroughly before being transported. Staff are also searched to make sure that the risk of ‘bent prison officers’ is minimal. The popularity of ‘spice’ has presented problems in that it is not picked up by traditional drug testing methods. Drug dogs can now smell spice but previously it was being sent in on books and envelopes in spray form. The prisoner could then lick, or run a lighter along and sniff the adhesive on the envelope or book pages. HMP Isis is still a smoking prison, but this is likely to change.

The Prison operates with a ratio of 24 prisoners to one member of staff. This is lower than prisons such as Wandsworth, ideally they would like to have more staff. This is not allowed due to prison reforms and cutbacks as it cannot be ‘justified’ enough to secure the extra funding. The prisoners and staff have a good and respectful relationship.

Because Isis is a ‘working prison’ there is a high focus on rehabilitation and reform of prisoners, who can book classes and library visits through the biometric machines in the cell wings. Being a ‘working prison’, inmates have to do courses in Maths and English if they do not already hold qualifications. These are delivered in small classroom-style lessons. These basic skills can be delivered alongside a skill such as woodwork or catering.

Fred Sirieix of First Dates fame comes in and trains a select few inmates to run a silver-service pop up restaurant for the prison staff. Other catering companies do similar and may even promise inmates jobs when they are released.

The Prison offers careers fairs, allowing inmates to seek guidance about options to take on their release. This also acts as a motivator to learn more, behave, and get out as quick as possible. Timpsons, the high street store, has a fantastic record of offering jobs to ex convicts and guarantees them an interview upon release if they are up to the required threshold.

Prisoners can also work whilst inside, earning £9 a week for various catering and cleaning jobs. There are two ‘shifts’ of workers, one 9am until lunch time, and the other after lunch time until 4pm. They are free to spend their money via their biometrics machine on cigarettes, toiletries, and phone credit. Interestingly, a packet of cigarettes via the biometric ordering system is £12, so there can sometimes be debts owed to other prisoners because of a trade in this.

There is also some mild discontent that with wages so low, only prisoners whose families send them in money through their prison account, can afford luxuries such as smoking.

As to be expected visits are very important to prisoners, and are used as leverage for poor behaviour. At Isis there are three categories of prisoner: basic (gets one visit per month), normal (gets three visits per month) and enhanced (gets four visits per month). Each visit allows a maximum of three adults and three children at a time. There are facilities for child visitors to make the visit pleasant for them, as it is important for the inmate and the child to share happy memories and strengthen their bond, with the hope this will make the inmate less likely to reoffend.

There are some instances of criminal damage within the prison and one cell in the segregation wing has been out of action for over six months. The police are not very interested in this damage. Most things are dealt with inside the prison unless someone is severely hurt in which case it will go to court. Until recently spitting was not an offence, but now inmates who spit at prison officers may find themselves in court charged with assault.

Blue Whale Game

Thought to originate in Russia, the ‘Blue Whale’ game is a ‘competition’ amongst teenagers to self harm over a period of 50 days. This becomes more serious until a person ‘wins’ the game by eventually killing themselves as per instructions given to them via the administrator of a social media account on VK, Twitter, or Instagram.

Competitors are encouraged to watch horror films, wake at 04:20 in the morning, and carve a whale and certain codes onto their limbs with a sharp implement, making sure to submit proof to the so-called ‘curators’. They are warned they cannot back out of this process once it has started, often with threats to harm their family or spread rumours about them.

It is thought that ‘Blue Whale’ has already claimed the life of 130 Russian teenagers between November 2015 and April 2016, the most recent being 16-year-old Veronika Volkova who jumped to her death on Sunday.

Philipp Budeikin, 21, from Russia has been charged with ‘promoting suicide’ by starting eight ‘Blue Whale’ social media accounts. The trial continues.

So far there is no hard evidence that this game has reached the UK, but schools and the police have warned parents to look out for signs that their children are partaking in this devastating competition and monitor their social media accounts accordingly. 

Translated from Russian, the ‘game’ instructions are as follows:

1. Carve with a razor “f57” on your hand, send a photo to the curator.

2. Wake up at 4.20 a.m. and watch psychedelic and scary videos that curator sends you.

3. Cut your arm with a razor along your veins, but not too deep, only 3 cuts, send a photo to the curator.

4. Draw a whale on a sheet of paper, send a photo to curator.

5. If you are ready to “become a whale”, carve “YES” on your leg. If not, cut yourself many times (punish yourself).

6. Task with a cipher.

7. Carve “f40” on your hand, send a photo to curator.

8. Type “#i_am_whale” in your VKontakte status.

9. You have to overcome your fear.

10. Wake up at 4:20 a.m. and go to a roof (the higher the better)

11. Carve a whale on your hand with a razor, send a photo to curator.

12. Watch psychedelic and horror videos all day.

13. Listen to music that “they” (curators) send you.

14. Cut your lip.

15. Poke your hand with a needle many times

16. Do something painful to yourself, make yourself sick.

17. Go to the highest roof you can find, stand on the edge for some time.

18. Go to a bridge, stand on the edge.

19. Climb up a crane or at least try to do it

20. The curator checks if you are trustworthy.

21. Have a talk “with a whale” (with another player like you or with a curator) in Skype.

22. Go to a roof and sit on the edge with your legs dangling.

23. Another task with a cipher.

24. Secret task.

25. Have a meeting with a “whale.”

26. The curator tells you the date of your death and you have to accept it.

27. Wake up at 4:20 a.m. and go to rails (visit any railroad that you can find).

28. Don’t talk to anyone all day.

29. Make a vow that “you’re a whale.”

30-49. Everyday you wake up at 4:20am, watch horror videos, listen to music that “they” send you, make 1 cut on your body per day, talk “to a whale.”

50. Jump off a high building. Take your life.

An example of what to look out for, taken from the Twitter of a 15 year old American boy.