Escape Room Games, Judging Harshly, Uncategorized

Judging Harshly – The Vault, Clue HQ Warrington

Another escape room review! This time The Vault room at Clue HQ Warrington. The location of this company is really handy, as it’s just around the corner from Warrington Central train station, and there’s parking nearby. We went on a Sunday and had no problem parking, though I’m not sure if that’s the case midweek.

Most escape rooms require no prior information. Everything you need to escape the room is inside the room. The Vault is a little bit different, as you are not only trying to escape, you’re trying to escape with as many casino chips as possible.

From the Clue HQ website:

You and your friends recently visited a casino owned by The National Bank of Money. Accusations have been made that their machines are fixed to give the house a higher advantage. They stole your money, and you’re going to get it back!

All of the casino’s chips are stored in the vault at The National Bank of Money. Your heist appears to be going smoothly until the security system comes back on! You’ve got 60 minutes to grab as much cash (in casino chips) as you can and escape!

To escape with all of the jackpot, you need to check out the website and do a bit of research before turning up. Everyone on our team checked out the website, and we managed to gleam some useful information.

The room was set up really well, and there were plenty of puzzles to keep us busy, including a few red herrings and a couple of well placed puns in the room that made us giggle. Overall, a pretty good room in my opinion. Everything seemed to work, which is always a plus!


But did we escape? We sure did! But sadly not with the jackpot. We had a quick look at the leaderboard before we left, and at the time of going, only one team had managed to get the jackpot. We all really enjoyed the room and it was fun trying to collect the chips.


Vault escape room

Health, Judging Harshly, Product Reviews

Judging Harshly – Misfit Shine

Judging Harshly – Misfit Shine

I vowed that this year would be the year I became fitter. I’d been looking at activity monitors (aka overpriced pedometers) and had it narrowed down to a couple. I finally decided to get the Misfit Shine, because it was waterproof and I could go swimming with it. It also seemed very versatile as it can be worn on the wrist like a watch, or hooked onto socks/shoes (for cycling/running) or even worn as a necklace. I’d read lots of reviews and most of them were positive.

Before I purchased, I did some online research trying to get a decent price. It was retailing for about £75 on Amazon, around £55-60 on eBay (new) and £55 from Blacks. I ended up getting it for £49 from Tesco online and was able to pick it up the next day.

I excitedly opened up my new device. I liked the packaging of everything, although it could have been condensed. I felt like the instructions that came with the device were clear but not very in depth, and ended up looking for a manual online. I was really surprised at how lightweight the Shine was – I knew it wasn’t heavy, but I had expected something a little bit more substantial!

The first task was to open up the Shine device and put the battery in, which was simple enough. The next task was to sync up the device with the app. I have an android phone which is coming up to 2 years old. I looked for the app. It wasn’t there. A little bit of online digging showed that my phone wasn’t compatible with the Shine (it wasn’t easy to find this information out!) Luckily, my android tablet is slightly newer and I was able to download the app. Panic over, I hadn’t just spent £49 on something I wasn’t going to be able to use properly. Phew!

The final task was using it. The Shine measures your steps and lets you know how close you are to completing your daily goal (which is set up using the app). It has 12 lights around the edge of the Shine which light up. Normally, the lights are off, unless the device is ‘double tapped’. If 1/12 light up then you still have a long way to go, if 11/12 light up, then you’ve almost completed the goal for the day. These 12 lights also let you tell the time, which can take a bit of getting used to. Another feature of the Shine is that it can tell you how long you’ve slept, and how much of your sleep is ‘deep sleep’. When the Shine is synced up to the app you can get this information, along with detailed information of how many steps you’ve taken and distance traveled. If you go swimming or cycling with the Shine, you can tell the app, and it recalculates your calories and how close you are to your daily goal. I love that if I go for a swim in the morning before work then I’ve often nearly reached my daily goal! Since getting the device the activity options have increased and now also include tennis, soccer and basketball.

People have noticed the Shine on my wrist and commented on it, asking ‘what is it?’ It doesn’t look particularly watch-like, but seeing their amazement when it lights up to show the time is fun. All in all, it’s a handy little device and it’s interesting to see how far I’ve walked each day, and how many calories it thinks I’ve burned (which seems very high, but it takes into account the calories you burn naturally by just ‘being’ – so even if you spent the day sat completely still and the only activity you did was breathing it would still show you as having burned calories)

Would I recommend it? Yes, I would. It’s nice and light, and doesn’t look out of place on your wrist. It’s a great sense of achievement when you hit the daily goal and can encourage you to walk a bit more.

Events, Health, Manchester, Passing Judgement

Color Run Manchester 2015

It seems like aaaaages ago when we signed up for the Manchester Color Run. Don’t panic, I’ve not gone all American, that’s the way they spell it, even in the UK!


Having never done anything like this, neither of us knew what to expect. We’d seen the pictures and videos and it all looked fun – but could it really be as fun as it looked? Or had they hired some fantastic actors for the videos and promo shots?

The actual event was so much more fun than I had expected. It’s amazing how quickly 5km goes when you’re getting covered in paint every so often.

The idea is pretty simple – a 5km route to walk/run/roll/hoop around (yes, we saw somebody hooping the course!) with 4 stations of colour in powdered form. Volunteers at each of the four stations throw paint at people as they pass through, covering the runners/walkers/rollers/hoopers in colour. At the end of the course the participants can stay for the afterparty, and get covered in even more coloured powder. The event raises money for charity, with the 2015 charity being NSPCC.


A couple of weeks before the event we were sent our entry packs, which contained a white Tshirt, a headband, some temporary tattoo transfers, running number and safety pins and some vouchers from the sponsors, Ocean Spray and Original Source. The packs were also supposed to contain glittery face paint, but neither mine nor Emma’s packs did, which was a bit disappointing. We didn’t let it stop us though, and Emma’s face makeup was particularly stunning!



We walked to the event, and were met with lots of other people wearing the white Color Run T-shirts. I was amazed at how many people were there, and recognised a few familiar faces. We lined up near the starting area, and after a little bit of waiting, we were off!


The first paint area seemed to come along very quickly, and we enjoyed getting covered in yellow paint. It was a bit longer to the next area, which was blue, followed by pink and finally orange near the finish line. Water was distributed about halfway round the course which was great as it was quite a warm day. We may have stopped for a quick selfie after each of the colour stations… #don’tjudgeus!

IMG_4428At the finish line we were handed some more water and a packet of paint. There was a stage with loads of people bouncing around to the music so we headed in that direction, waiting for the fabled Color Burst from the stage, when everyone opens their paint packets and gets even more colourful! After this, we wandered around a bit more, and found the Original Source and Ocean Spray tents which were handing out free samples. After a delicious cranberry juice we found the metro tent who were taking photos and printing them out, which was a lovely souvenir.

They say the Colour Run is the happiest 5k on the planet – it certainly was a fun experience! I’d probably have to try another few 5ks before I could say for sure if it’s the happiest on the planet or not though. I had a great time and came away saying that I wanted to sign up for next year. Definitely an experience I would recommend to others – there’s no pressure to run it, lots of people take their time and go at their own pace. Everyone seems cheerful, and the paint makes the course seem to go quickly!


Where’s the finish line?!



Food, Health, Meal Planning, Passing Judgement, Product Reviews

Yoghurt maker review

I recently bought a yoghurt maker from Lakelands. It cost £19.99 and since I got it, I’ve used it about 10 times and it’s great.

You only need two teaspoons of yoghurt as a catalyst to make a whole litre so if you keep some back at the end of every batch you never have to buy yoghurt again.

You do need milk though. Any milk can be used but the easiest option is Uht milk as it has been pasturised already (heated and cooled in a specific way to eliminate bacteria) otherwise you have to do this yourself and it time consuming and (to me) more complicated than its worth.

I’ve also purchased some muslin cloth to strain the yoghurt. This makes it thicker and more the consistency of total yoghurt that the runnier natural or Greek style yoghurts you get in the supermarket.

There were a few options I found when looking for this yoghurt maker, including a £10 option from Wilkos. I ruled this one out because although the machine was cheaper, they advised you to use sachets of powder with milk to make the yoghurt and the packets were £2.50 each (plus milk) so overall it wasn’t as cost effective.

There were also other options that for example had several jars that you incubated at once however for me space is an issue so I wanted something more compact (and I got 4 smaller but ideally sized Tupperware tubs from wilkos to store the yoghurt in).

Admittedly I don’t eat flavoured yoghurt, I tend to eat plain yoghurt with fruit and honey or make my version of a yoghurt salad as a savoury option which I enjoy with spicy foods. So I can’t say weather this would be the right product for you if you’re looking to make flavoured yoghurt.

It’s definitely a good option for me though as its got no added sugars at all and I can make it to whatever texture I require using muslin cloth.

Beauty, Nail Art

Christmas Nail Art 1 – Santa and Elf inspired nails

A while ago I did a course in nail art through a “learn at home” provider. I thoroughly enjoyed the course and I like to decorate my nails for special occasions/ holidays etc.

Laura also likes my nail art so this Christmas I designed us both a set of nail art designs for the whole hand; taking inspiration from designs I found on Pinterest and adapting them for these sets.

To achieve the more complex designs can take time and it is challenging to get all the nails to look the same when doing hand designs. With that in mind I decided a basic glitter ombre effect nail would be best for most of the nails and to have just a couple of them with more complex designs.

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Beauty, Makeup, Passing Judgement, Product Reviews

Makeup Revolution – Salvation Velvet Lacquer

My cousin recently told me about a brand of make-up I had never heard of before and 1 week later, I’m in love with it!

Makeup Revolution is a relatively new brand available in Superdrug and on-line. It’s main goal seems to be to provide affordable make-up that is the same style as the high end brands. To that end it has several dupes in it’s product range that are similar to brands such as Mac, Nars and Anastasia Beverly Hills.

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Escape Room Games, Manchester, Passing Judgement

Breakout Manchester – Classified

Time for another escape room review, which again will be kept a little bit vague as I don’t want to spoil it for others by being too specific!

When I heard that there was an escape room called Breakout in Manchester which had 2 identical rooms that could be played at the same time I knew that we had to play them. I’m not saying that we’re a competitive group, but when the first question when doing the escape rooms is “did you make it and what time did you get out” before someone says hello to you… well, there may be a slightly competitive element.

There were 9 of us doing the rooms, so we split into a 4 and a 5, with Emma and I on different teams. We were all briefed together by Daniel, who was friendly and funny, putting us at ease. The theme of the room, Classified, is that it is the final exam of a secret agent. My group went upstairs while Emma’s went downstairs. Due to how the unit is, we could hear what they were shouting and vice versa. It was really difficult remembering not to shout when you solved some of the puzzles! Daniel told us at the start that as it was a bit of a competition if they gave one team a clue, the other team would automatically get a clue which I thought was really good and would keep the playing field level.

The room itself was quite bare, with almost everything in the room having a purpose. This meant that some of the time one or two of us were standing around waiting/doing nothing as there wasn’t anything to do (near the end for example) Compared to other games we have played where there are extra objects in the room that aren’t part of the game and are there to throw you off, this made the game feel quite linear. The bare room may have been a reflection on the theme of the game, as it was supposed to be an exam. The time went quickly, as usual during these rooms, although it did drag a bit near the end when a piece of equipment wasn’t working the way it should have done for us!

So, to sum up – much better than Make a Break in Manchester, but not as good as Escape Quest in Macclesfield or Clue HQ in Warrington! I believe that the lease for the Classified units is up soon, but the premise of being able to compete against friends is a good one that I hope is done well in the future. Breakout Manchester also have several other rooms with different themes, and hopefully we’ll be trying out some of those soon.

Just to be clear – if we’d had a vital piece of equipment working properly, then we would definitely have made it out first. As it was, our team of 4 (with one new player) were very close behind the team of 5 (who have all played 2 games previously!) so we feel the victory would have been ours had things been fair!


Judging Harshly – Lockin Escape Game, Manchester. Mission 60

Another escape room post! We did this one back in January and really enjoyed it. We have played here before (the extremely difficult Treasure Hunter room) and I have to say that I wasn’t crazy about going back, as I thought the Treasure Hunter room was a bit too ridiculous (very close to impossible in my mind – it required a lot of out of the box thinking. So far out of the box that you were in a different room to the box!) Lockin Escape Game is in Chinatown in Manchester, and is a little bit tricky to find. If you’re going for food afterwards though, you’re spoilt for choice!


Back to Mission 60. The background story is that the president’s son has been kidnapped, and the location of where he is being held has been identified. There’s 60 minutes to get into the room and rescue the president’s son and reveal the plot.


I am glad that we went back to do Mission 60. It’s a really well thought out room, plenty to keep all of us busy. One particular puzzle had us stumped for a while, but once we thought it out properly it made a lot more sense. The props in the room were really good, and nothing was too obvious – I think almost every puzzle made us think twice.


But did we escape?


Mission60 lockin

We sure did! With a good amount of time to spare as well 🙂



We liked this room. The variety of puzzles was excellent, and lots of things in the room made us smile. If you have a choice between Mission 60 and Treasure Hunter, try this one!