Review of Slim Fruits (Fruit Flavoured Pastilles)


Our guest blogger at TSS on this occasion is Adele S from Surrey. Adele expresses honesty in her writing and as she likes to try new things we are very happy to receive her review of Slim Fruits. Over to you, Adele: “I’m going to start by saying these are the best pastilles I have ever found! There is only a matter of a couple of calories per pastille so you don’t feel guilty at all! They come in two flavours: peach melba and rhubarb and strawberry, both of which are delicious and I couldn’t pick a favourite out of the two!

You may think that the calories are the highlight of slim fruits but really it’s only the beginning. They have the same fibre content as SIX slices of wholemeal bread, yes you heard that right! They are a sweet that is actually beneficial to you, who would have ever thought there would be such a thing.

The benefits of having soluble fibre in the pastilles works when they combine with water in the stomach and swell to suppress hunger pangs and satisfies your sweet-craving.

Not only that but the fibre is 100% natural and comes from Acacia Tree gum which is renowned for its health benefits and fibre content that slows digestion and lowers ‘bad’ blood cholesterol.

Like the sound of them? They are available in Boots and Holland & Barrett stores nationwide for only £1.89 a pack.”

The images above were supplied by Adele and accompanied her review


We also hope you will enjoy reading this second review of Slim Fruits by Janis M from Dunfermline. Janis is an expert food blogger:

“I’m the first to admit that I can be a bit of a snacker. There’s a certain point in the working day where I crave biscuits. So the idea of a snack that contains no sugar, no fat but packed with fibre to fill you up sounds like a winner to me. That’s where “Slim Fruits” come in. They are designed to “Fill you up, not out”. What’s not to like?

For little sweets they are pretty tasty they come in two flavours Peach Melba and Rhubarb and Strawberry. Personally I prefer the rhubarb one it reminds me of the rhubarb and custard sweets I used to have when I was younger. I would say they are more of a fruit gum type product than a pastille but that’s just me being pedantic.

They come in a nice wee packet which is really handy if you want to stash it away in your handbag for a convenient snack when necessary. Although the picture might put you off as they are a bit luminous and not what the actual sweets look like.

I wouldn’t say they filled me up though. They were definitely a better snack to have than a cake or a biscuit so maybe that’s more of the point they stopped me having a biscuit and instead I ate the slim fruits. If you are on a diet , as I have been many times, they would be a good option to give you a little touch of something sweet to get you through the day!”

Liking very much the turn of phrase and the independent thought about the product, Janis!


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Evelyn Hoskins (Photograph by Johan Persson)

Stage Review – This is my Family at The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

If timing really is the key, never was it more crucial to get the timing right than in this case. Such clever writing from Tim Firth, who ignores the rule of punctuation so that the song lyrics staccato and andante away, so to make subtle exchanges with the dialogue; allowing the story to unfold and roll along nicely.

No arguing that Director, Daniel Evans achieves so much here, but the musical direction of Caroline Humphris provides the centre pinning. Cast members, perfect in their individual roles as members of one family, exercise great memory work and vocal skills. Combine these talents with that of the musicians, plus an expert production team, and you have the makings of a great show.

This Is My Family, Clare Burt as 'Yvonne', Evelyn Hoskins as 'Nicky',  Photograph by  Johan Persson

This Is My Family, Clare Burt as ‘Yvonne’, Evelyn Hoskins as ‘Nicky’,
Photograph by Johan Persson

We meet family members through the wide eyes and sprightly song of a young schoolgirl called Nicky. This is Nicky’s family. I am a sucker for family and for exploring peoples’ positioning within, and this new musical does just that. It is insightful, respectful, funny and poignant. It is all those things and often at the same time. Sentimentality turns a little schmaltzy in Act II, and I was trying to fight back tears because I recognised this was happening. I wasn’t crying because I was particularly sad; it is just that I connected with the storylines on many levels.

The laughs are the smiley kind of affirmations one makes to oneself, and there is plenty of smiling to be had. The humour is truly British. Nicky’s well meaning dad, Steve, tries but he botches things and he has that kind of rabbit in the headlight about him. His mother, May, has dementia creeping on and Steve is burying his fears deep within. Wife, Yvonne, is loyal and protective of the nuclear family so she has her own internal battle, especially when it comes to May. Basically Steve and Yvonne are worrying over those concerning matters that come from being members of the sandwich generation.

A favourite scene features Steve when he is remonstrating about sister-in-law, Sian’s latest squeeze, Dave (Dave never actually appears). But overall, my hand clapping is at its most exuberant for Terence Keeley, who plays the Matt character. When Matt is not withdrawn and mumbling, he is displaying other teenage stereotypical behaviour. Keeley has attention grabbing qualities.

This new musical is definitely a mainstay for main stage.

At The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry until Saturday 01 November

Reviewer, Debra Hall attended Press Night showing at The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry on Tuesday 28 October 7.45 pm

Review is also published at Remotegoat here

Cast List
Nicky – Evelyn Hoskins
Steve – Bill Champion
May – Marjorie Yates
Yvonne – Clare Burt
Sian – Rachel Lumberg
Matt – Terence Keeley

Marjorie Yates, Clare Burt and Evelyn Hoskins (Photograph by Johan Persson)

Marjorie Yates, Clare Burt and Evelyn Hoskins (Photograph by Johan Persson)

Love Objects

Book Review – LOVE OBJECTS by Bloomsbury

LOVE OBJECTS – Edited by Anna Moran and Sorcha O’Brien

ISBN 978-1-4725-1719-7
(published August 2014 by Bloomsbury)
RRP £19.99

List of Illustrations
Notes on Contributors
Editors’ foreword
Four Main Sections

Fifteen contributors: consisting of doctorate and degree holders, and academics, who all use the literary writer’s style of language which is channeled in essays with particular intention. An anthology then (a collection of literary works), but remaining a book that will sit in the non-fictional category of any book seller outlets. 166 Pages of lengthy text (in small fonts) where commentators are critically exploring, with great intensity and insightfulness, the emotional relationship people have with objects.

Photographic Images: there are a fair few, half page in the main and printed in black and white.

For anyone studying or having avid interest in Art History and Family Histories, people observation; symbolic representation (religious or otherwise); arts and crafts; the material world, sexualized goods; vintage and retro goods, heritage and memory tracing activities – you will find the content in this book candidly revealing.


Stage Review – Of Mice and Men at Birmingham Repertory Theatre

Michael Legge (George) Benjamin Dilloway (Lennie)

Michael Legge (George) Benjamin Dilloway (Lennie)

Steinbeck’s novella, which is so, essentially, American has been a school curriculum favourite in the study of English Literature for many years; this famous tale is wonderfully articulated in this stage play.

The heavy-handed Lennie is a big guy, and his companion and protector, George, is always, defensively, describing him as being ’not bright, but a hell of a good worker and a nice fella’, to any potential bosses and other ranch hands they meet, in his desperate effort to secure them both some short term work and short term shelter. The meek and mindless, Lennie, and the stolid and staunch-like, George are sublimely characterised by actors, Benjamin Dilloway and Michael Legge.

You get a real feel of the remoteness of a farming community and the hard times Steinbeck’s characters are experiencing. It is obvious, because of the way they are living, that there is little reward for the sacrifices they are making and for their hard work. The music, played by members of the cast, adds to that southern American feel and there is no dodgy dialect that is detectable. One of the many poignant scenes is when Lennie, on his way to pet the newly born puppies, falls upon stable buck, Crooks (Dave Fishley) who is lying in desperate agony on top of his bunk because of his ‘busted back’. Of Mice and Men is all about the human condition, but the conversation in this short piece of dialogue between these two characters is particularly insightful.


Michael Legge (George) Benjamin Dilloway (Lennie)

The fiction book is not much more than hundred pages, but Steinbeck managed to write a Two Act stage version. Act II is short however. Review night started at 7 and the night was over by 9.15 pm which included an interval break.

We know the writing has it all, but the cast and the creative team are gunning ahead to deliver what I regard to be the best theatrical production I have seen this year.

Benjamin Dilloway and Lorna Nickson-Brown as Lennie and Curley's Wife

Benjamin Dilloway and Lorna Nickson-Brown as Lennie and Curley’s Wife

Directors, Roxana Silbert and Nicholas Pitt, and the Players, of course, render the complexity of each character well and the expert stage direction just draws you in. There appears to be no limit that designer Liz Ascroft sets for herself, her set design is once again, breathtaking. The stage floor is planked, and incorporates reed beds and a rivulet. The scene changes are lengthy, but each one interweaves with the storyline. The stage light is extremely atmospheric; quite beautiful.

Michael Legge, Benjamin Dilloway in Of Mice and Men

Michael Legge, Benjamin Dilloway in Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men is showing in THE HOUSE at Birmingham Repertory Theatre until 01 November.

Reviewer, Debra Hall attended the press night showing of Of Mice and Men at Birmingham Repertory Theatre on Tuesday 14 October. This review also appears on the events website Remotegoat

All photos copyright credit: ©ELLIE KURTTZ

Featured Illustration copyright credit ©DEBRA HALL

Cast List:

Lennie – Benjamin Dilloway  – Credits include: National Theatre, Film, and TV

George – Michael Legge  –  Credits include: Theatre, Angela’s Ashes (Universal), BBC Radio 4, and TV

James Hayes – Candy – Credits include: TV, Film, BBC Radio 4 and Theatre (Shakespeare’s Globe, Birmingham Repertory Theatre/tour)

Jan Knightley – Carlson/The Boss/Musician – Credits include: Theatre, TV (New Tricks), Film, BBC Radio 4 (The Archers)

Lorna Nickson-Brown – Curley’s Wife – Credits include: Theatre (Birmingham Repertory Theatre) TV (BBC), Film,

Claran O’Brien – Curley – Credits include Theatre (Sheffield Crucible), TV (Ripper Street) and Film

Nicholas Goode – Whit/Musician – Credits include Theatre (Nottingham Playhouse, Birmingham Repertory Theatre)

Dave Fishley – Crooks/Musician – Credits include Theatre (Royal Shakespeare Company) TV (Macbeth BBC Schools) Film (Bridget Jones’s Diary)

Norman Bowman – Slim – Credits include Theatre (West End) TV (BBC) and Film

strictly 1

Review of Strictly Come Dancing Puzzle by Ravensburger (1000 pieces)

Very pleased with the Ravensburger puzzle of Strictly Come Dancing.
The puzzle pieces are of very good quality and lots of colour.
There is so much detail of all the dancers in their glitter.
It tells you the name of the dance with the dance partners.
An excellent puzzle”

From Jennifer M (Poringland, Norfolk, UK)

Jennifer is the perfect choice to provide feedback about this item, and in just a few sentences she is confirming that Ravensburger has encapsulated the spirit of ‘Strictly’ in a puzzle form. Jennifer will also be attending professional dancer and Strictly regular, Brendan Cole and his Night To Remember touring show when the date falls close to her home next February. As Jennifer herself goes dancing regularly, and tunes into this autumn show and all the extra TV slots devoted to it; she is truly a voice of wisdom on the subject.

Note – the dancers and contestants illustrated on the puzzle  are that of last year’s 2013 participants.


croissants packaging

The Breakfast and Sweet Treats, Gluten-Free, Range by Genius

The Breakfast/Sweet Treats Range consists of croissants, chocolate chip brioche, pains au chocolat, iced cup cakes and sliced fresh Bread all of which are gluten-free, dairy free, and wheat free.

Croissants and Pains au Chocolat were launched in 2012. The rice flour and tapioca content is very obvious, with both pastries having a slight graininess to them in terms of taste and texture, this is not a negative but merely an observation. If something forms a base and is contained within food then of course it will be evident in a product’s make up. Both are pre-baked items and need to be heated in the oven, to warm them through. Both items have enough margarine (hydrogenated) content for the items not to be too dry. Croissants are a little plain, better when served with strawberry jam.

brioche rolls

chocolate chip brioche rolls

Chocolate Chip Brioche Rolls – launched in Tesco this year this product has a tear and share kind of texture; is sweet, reasonably light and a good match for its wheat containing counterparts. This is a gluten, wheat, dairy free product – Contains sunflower oil. This gets the vote for being the most liked Genius breakfast item between TSS testers; thoroughly enjoyed with our morning coffees!

Chocolate Cupcakes (2 pack) if the sponge has any kind of dryness to it at all, the moist toppings counter balances it with a sugary icing creaminess. There’s been a storm in a teacup of late around the humble cup cake, but whichever variegations and inventions are out there, this alternative is a joy to behold for anyone with special dietary requirements. Cake for breakfast? Why not! Nice accompaniment with a good cuppa. Also available in a Lemon version.

sandwich loaf

Gluten Fee sliced bread by Genius

Sandwich Gluten-Free Bread is one of a range of fresh bread this is not only gluten free, but a wheat free, dairy Free, high in fibre, sandwich loaf made by Genius. The surprise for us, and our introduction to the bread range, is that these loaves are not anything like the hugely dry and uninspiring alternatives sold in vacuum sealed packs with a long life; these breads have a short use by date and are presented in plastic bread bags tied at the neck. Gluten is, of course, the thing which sticks things together because of its very structure, so our slices, we found, struggled to remain whole because of the absence of gluten. Crusts tend to fall away when removing bread from the pack and when being handled, but still the freshness and quality is there; will be delicious when served with your favourite spread and it toasts very well.

TSS says:
Our contact said she couldn’t wait to hear what we thought of Genius. The first job, in regard to reviewing the breakfast range, was to check online to see if Genius is recommended by The Coeliacs Society – which will signify that their products can be ingested harmlessly by a high percentage of Coeliac patients. Genius is, indeed, on their list of approved suppliers which was an excellent indicator from the start. The breakfast range has a better taste, has improved texture, and is more appealingly presented than many other like for like brands selling dietary alternatives. ‘Pleasantly surprised’ is our overall verdict.

witches brew candle 3

Halloween from Yankee Candle – A Blog Feature

Now and again a guest blogger provides us with feedback about a product they have put to the test. Briony S from Tacolneston in Norfolk has sent through her thoughts on the Witches Brew 2014 (Medium Jar) RRP £16.99 from The Yankee Candle Company and she also talks in her engaging and friendly way about the spirit of Halloween and what the festival means, or doesn’t mean, to her particularly.

Halloween is never a holiday I’ve really celebrated. We always have sweets in the house for the Trick or Treater’s who never come, and I often turn a Pepper into a lantern as it’s cheaper, easier, and smaller than a pumpkin, but that is the extent of things. This year with the little one I’m a little more intrigued but not a huge amount, I’ve got him the cutest Halloween sleep suit! There’s a jar of lollipops at the ready in case we do get a knock at the door; and then there is my lovely Witches Brew scent Yankee Candle Jar.

I love the Yankee Candle Jars, they are always so pretty or in this case spooky, with the lids they are easy to store away when not in use and as the medium jar has an impressive burn time of 65-90 hours it will last me several Halloweens.

This will save me the hassle of carving little faces into peppers and gently dropping in a tea light which I’ve then got to light without burning myself. It looks great on my window sill, the black jar uses white and orange to create a night time scene of witches and pumpkins and all things spooky above the houses below. In general it just fits nicely with my very half-hearted and British way of celebrating the day.

I would have hoped for more light to shine through the jar, maybe glowing through some of the white sections to create a bit more a scene, maybe it doesn’t as I haven’t burned it low enough yet, that will take some time to find out but I can’t see it happening so am in no rush. I do think that the black wax is a great touch though, it’s make it look more like an actual Witches Brew than a plain white wax would have done, even orange wouldn’t have been so effective.

As for the scent, well Witches Brew is a very descriptive name, just not of the scent! You know what you’re going to get with something called Spiced Apple, or Rose, or any of the variety of normal scent names out there but Witches Brew? Well to be fair you expect something pretty awful, thankfully it’s not. I can’t quite place the scent, which doesn’t help me describe it, so I looked the website which describes it as ‘a spicy sweet aroma of exotic patchouli’. I’m not sure that helps much, it certainly wouldn’t help me and I’ve got it next to me to sniff! What I can tell you is that it smells nice, sweet and warm, not remotely like Halloween but still really nice and a scent I would pick again for just a general candle throughout the year.
So if you, like me, enjoy a token gesture to celebrate Halloween or you go all out with costumes and decorations every year then this candle will be a perfect fit. It looks great, smells lovely and lasts for ages.

Thank you to Briony for this contribution to our consumer focused blog. From Debra – Editor at tssreviews