Royal Mail Postal Survey

Recent presentation pack and monthly incentive stamps.

The survey is conducted for Royal Mail by TNS and its objective is to independently monitor business and personal post that travels through the Royal Mail UK network.

The panellists tasks for the main survey are to:

  • Receive a weekly posting pack and prepare items including letters and parcels for posting.
  • Record items received from other panellists.
  • Post items to other panellists according to a weekly schedule.

This is rewarded with 12 x 1st class stamps + 4 x 1st class large letter stamps per month, as well as seasonal gifts including Easter chocolates, and diaries at Christmas. After completing the training period, and again after 6 months on the panel, panellists also receive a ‘presentation pack’ which includes roughly £10-12 worth of stamps.

It usually takes me 5 -10 minutes to prepare the items to send to other panellists, depending on how many items there are. This does vary a lot – some weeks I only have 3 letters to send, but on others I might have 10, including a cube that I need to purchase a label from the post office for (this is reimbursed).

Aside from the main postal survey there are also some extra ways of earning income through the site including the Unaddressed Mail Survey, which involves recording any junk mail received that has not been specifically addressed to you and can include anything from takeaway flyers to catalogues – this pays £5 in Love2Shop vouchers for every three weeks completed. There is also a Correctly Delivered survey that necessitates logging the number of items received on daily basis and reporting any ‘doorstepped’ items for two weeks – this is rewarded with £5 In Love2Shop vouchers. These two surveys are invite only, but I seem to get them fairly regularly. Furthermore, there are prize draws and you could receive a randomly allocated ‘Golden Smart’ which will net you a cool £100 worth of vouchers.

As I live within 20 meters of a post box and visit the post office at least three times a week anyway, it is convenient for me to take part in the survey. However I am not sure it would be worthwhile for those who need to travel to get to the post box and/or post office as the costs incurred would more than likely outweigh the benefits. Out of the all the methods I have to top up my monthly income (see my about me page), this is the one that pays the least, but I still do it as it isn’t that time consuming and I don’t need to go out of my way to complete the tasks. I usually earn about £20-25 a month from it in stamps/vouchers if I do the main survey combined with the Unaddressed Mail and Correctly Delivered surveys.

You can apply to take part here, and if you are responsible for receiving the post at work and your employers allows it or you are a small business owner, please contact me at joraffe@daftgiraffe.co.uk and I can send you a link which will earn us both £25 in Love2Shop vouchers if you successfully complete the training period and become an active panellist. If you subsequently complete six months on the panel, you will also receive a further £25 in vouchers.

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Arancina Restaurant – Notting Hill Gate

The warm and inviting seating area

Earlier this week, my partner and I decided to have a meal at Arancina, one of favourite local restaurants. It is one of the places we go when we just fancy a cheap, no frills eat that does not consist of processed food – a rare find in London these days.

Arancina serves this purpose beautifully as they serve up homemade Sicilian Pizza and hearty meals including Lasagna, Aubergine Parmigiana and Chicken Milanese with roast veg. The pizza prices range from £7.95 for a 35cm x 20cm Margherita to £23.50 for a huge 70cm x 28cm Carnivora. The ‘hearty meals’ will set you back a mere £7.50 and they also do some combo deals, such as a pizza slice, Arancina ball and a soft drink for £8.10.

There are two Arancina restaurants in London, we visited the Notting Hill Gate branch – it is quite unusual in that there is no proper table service. Instead, you order and pay downstairs at the deli-style counter and then carry your tray of food to the seating area upstairs. However, if you order a whole Pizza, rather than the slices on display, staff will usually bring it upstairs when it is ready.

We ordered two arancina balls as a starter and a 35cm x 20cm Carnivora – together with drinks the bill was under £30. The food, as always, was delicious. In case you are not familiar with them, the arancina balls are deep fried risotto balls with a filling of either beef ragu with peas or ham and cheese.

arancina balls

The pizza we opted for was the Carnivora (Margherita, Spicy Salami, Ham and Italian Pork Sausage) in ‘Paletta’ size (35×25 cm). It was full of flavour, the base was crispy but not too thin, and the toppings are made from good quality ingredients. (Sorry I completely forgot to take a photo of it!)

The only complaint I had this visit was about the music, for some reason they decided to play an old Beyoncé/Destiny’s Child CD at full volume, which didn’t quite fit in with our ‘relaxing after work’ vibe. To be honest, lyrics such as “I don’t think you ready for this jelly ….cause my body too bootylicious for ya babe” are never going to quite work for me whilst I am stuffing my face with pizza. I asked one of the staff to change it or at least turn it down, she obliged but seemed really taken back that I didn’t share her taste in music. The other clientele consisted of three young, trendy twenty something lads and two Japanese tourists – I am quite sure that they were not enjoying the music either!

Arancina opened in 2006 and is known locally as a success, evidenced by the queues of Italian tourists on a Saturday afternoon, eager to get their fill before hitting Portobello Market. I would wholeheartedly recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for a decent slice of pizza in west London. A menu is available here.

Don’t feel like going out? If you live locally you can order it from Deliveroo here.

 

 

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Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Foundation SPF 10

Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation

As the cooler weather has been approaching, I have noticed that my skin has been breaking out, as it always does at this time of year. In my experience, it is best just to go easy on make-up when this happens. Working from home does make this easier for me, but last Saturday night I was going out for dinner with a group of people, most of whom I hadn’t met and wanted to look my best – It is at times like this that I reach for my trusted Estée Lauder Double Wear Foundation.

As it is a thick formula, known for its fuller coverage, I think it is important to get the shade right as otherwise it will look too obvious – the aim is to look like we are not wearing any make-up isn’t it?  Indeed, it has taken me a few attempts at finding the right shade of this foundation, but I am very glad I persevered as it really does cover up a multitude of sins. Luckily the Estée Lauder ladies at my local Boots have been patient and let me have a few trials before committing to a purchase – just ask them for a colour match and they will usually try to find your match instore then issue you with a little vial containing a few days’ worth of the foundation.

Another great thing about this product is that I can achieve full coverage with a very small amount – I usually just dab 2 or 3 drops on a Ecotools classic foundation brush and spread it quickly in semi-circular movements. It immediately covers any minor blemishes and evens out my skin tone, without looking too fake and ‘cakey’. I have also found that it lasts a long time on my skin (roughly 10 hours ) and does not needed to be re-applied, which can happen with some cheaper formulations.

The only complaint I have about this product is the bottle. Too many a time, I have poured out too much of the liquid and wasted it, for this reason I would prefer pump dispenser. It is available here.

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L’Occitane Immortelle Precious Cleansing Foam

This month, in collaboration with Woman & Home magazine L’Occitane are offering a free sample of Immortelle Precious Cleansing Foam. So last week, after acquiring my voucher online I printed it out and then picked up a free 50ml trial sized bottle of this at my local branch.

L’Occitane Immortelle Precious Cleansing Foam

After using it for a few days, I have found that the cleansing foam is gentle on my skin, but at the same time manages to leave my skin feeling very clean and removes all traces of make-up, including mascara. I have been using it in the shower in the morning and over the bathroom sink with hot water and a muslin cloth at night, and haven’t needed to use any other products before applying my moisturiser. It has a light, fresh fragrance and the pump dispenses easily. The foam spreads really well and does not leave any residue.

Get your free sample here. The offer is running until the 30th of September while stocks last. EDIT – I believe stocks have run out now – sorry!

Full sized bottles are available to purchase here and if you can also buy 300ml refill pouches.

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Elemis – The Gym Kit Collection for him

The Gym Kit Collection for him

Aaaah…. Summertime…. For most of us this means high days and holidays, ice cream, sunshine, etc. In this household it also means, gulp, …..birthdays. So, this means my partner and I spend a lot of time spent scratching our heads trying to work out what to buy each other and shooing away the headache that this inevitably induces. After a lot of deliberation, this year I opted for The Gym Kit Collection by Elemis.

It seemed like a good choice, given the variety of products contained in the gift set and the added bonus of a gym bag. My partner was pleased with his birthday gift and said that it did in fact contain everything he needs for the gym and that it could also be used for other outings, such as going for a weekend away.

The first thing I noticed when the box was opened was a very strong and rather nice herbal scent – which turned out to be the Aching Muscle Super Soak. I must admit that I was so curious about the bath soak that the day after I gave the Gym Kit to my partner, I ran myself a bath with it – am delighted to report that the end result was very smooth skin that smelt vaguely like eucalyptus for a good few hours afterwards and a slightly angry other half.

The Gym Kit Collection for him

The Gym Kit Collection for him by Elemis contains:

My partner says that he especially likes using the facial wash & day cream as they have improved the appearance of his skin, even after just a couple of uses. It is worth noting that the picture on the box does not represent the bag accurately as it is in fact a lot larger than it appears on the photo – it measures approx. 20 x 35 cm

It is available here.

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Derma V10 Deep Cleaning Nose Strips

Well, here we have another Sunday where the weather is not quite fit to do anything outdoorsy. To be honest this doesn’t bother us much as it gives us the opportunity to laze around in our pyjamas watching Netflix and catch up on our pampering. One of the many products we  like to use on these occasions is Derma V10 Deep Cleaning Nose Strips.

Derma V10 Deep Cleansing Nose Pore Strips

If you follow the instructions on the back of the packet they are really easy to use. In a nutshell: 1- wet nose, 2 – apply strip to nose, leave for 10-15 minutes, 3 – peel it off nose and then gaze in awe at how much gunk has just been extracted from your pores. I thought about posting before and after photos, but decided I would spare my readers – I do believe there are parts of the internet dedicated to that sort of thing if that’s what floats your boat.

We tend to use these about once a week, after all, living in a city means our noses do need a bit of extra TLC. Our noses always look much better after using these, they don’t irritate the skin at all and as well as removing the gunk, the strips are also very effective at removing blackheads. They are available here.

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Glasses Direct

Glasses Direct

 

I must admit I was a little dubious about this offer, the idea of two pairs of prescription glasses for £19 seemed far too good to be true, but after checking Glasses Direct’s returns policy and noting that I could return the glasses if I was unhappy with them for any reason, I thought what the heck? I’ll give it a whirl.

Am so glad I did, after carefully choosing my glasses (all the measurements are clearly posted and you can even virtually try them on), a few days later I received 2 rather delightful pairs of glasses complete with a hard case and cleaning cloth, all for £19 including postage!

The first pair, the Sapphie have very thin black lenses and the frame is very lightweight but at the same time, feels very sturdy. The design is perfect for those seeking a minimalist look and would suit most face shapes.

The second pair I chose is the Daisy in Matt Navy – described on the website as a cross between the  ubiquitous Wayfarer and Clubmaster styles, they are not only great value for money, but very trendy too! The navy blue colour is accurately portrayed on the Glasses Direct website and like the Sapphie have a lightweight, yet sturdy frame. I have received many compliments on these.

Glasses Direct have a wide range of frames and offer additional services including sunglasses, digital protection shields and light adaptive coatings on your lenses. After choosing the frames there is a click through menu that allows you to choose the lens type, e.g. bifocal or varifocal etc, and then selecting any additional extras, if required. Finally there is a form to enter your prescription details.

Glasses Direct also offer free home trials. Check them out here.

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Aveeno Daily Moisturising Lotion + Body Yogurt

Aveeno Daily Moisturising Lotion & Body Yogurt

Don’t you just love when you receive free samples in the post? It’s such a great way to discover new products!

This package from Aveeno was especially generous as it contained two 10ml sample sachets. One for their Daily Moisturising Lotion and one for their Daily Moisturising Yogurt. After trying them out on two consecutive days, here are my thoughts:

Daily Moisturising Lotion – This fragrance free lotion has a light, fresh scent to it and absorbed into my skin with ease and provided good all round moisture that lasted all day. My skin also felt a little firmer after use.

Daily Moisturising Body Yogurt – This is richer, creamier formula that promises to keep skin moisturised for up to 48 hours, it really helped to rehydrate the skin on my lower legs which are prone to dryness and lived up to the 48 hour promise as I did not need to apply body lotion the next day.

Recommended.

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Kenzo World – Eau de Parfum

Kenzo World – Eau de Parfum

One of the great things about visiting the department stores on Oxford Street is that there are usually free product samples being given out, I think it is a great concept as it means I get to try things I wouldn’t ordinarily buy and quite often I discover great new products and end up purchasing them.

This is how I discovered Kenzo’s latest perfume, Kenzo World on a recent visit to House of Fraser. I was immediately struck by the attractive blue packaging and didn’t waste any time trying the scent out.

Upon the first spray I was hit by a slightly overbearing scent of fruits, which reminded me of Marc Jacob’s Decadence, but after this settled I was left with a much more subtle and slightly masculine floral scent. It wasn’t the longest lasting perfume I have ever tried but I managed to get a decent 6 hours out of it.

According to Kenzo, ‘this fragrance is an unprecedented blend of peony, jasmine and the sparkling crystals of ambroxan®’. It is available in 30ml, 50ml and 75ml and can be purchased here.

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Wilkinson Sword Hydro 5

Wilkinson Sword Hydro 5

Even though it is designed for men, I was delighted to receive this razor in the post from Wilkinson Sword. In the belief that men’s razors are perfectly adequate (not to mention a lot cheaper!) to shave my legs and underarm areas, I have been using them for years. I had heard about Wilkinson’s new ‘hydrating gel reservoir’ and was curious about trying it out. This new technology replaces the ‘lube strip’ which has never really worked for me in the past – I have found that after the first couple of uses the lube strip has got soggy then melted away and I have ended up using shaving cream anyway. I have been using this razor for a month now and am pleased to report that so far the gel reservoir is still dispensing gel (when activated by water) and I have not needed to use any shaving cream yet. It also promises to deliver less than 40% friction than a lube strip and so far I have noted that the razor glides easily over my skin and does irritate my skin at all.

The razor itself is very sleek looking and feels light in my hand but sturdy enough to be able to get a good grip and navigate it easily. The blade is a bit narrower than I am used to, which perplexed me a little at first but I have noticed that this ensures that my skin does not get dragged by the blade and also means that it is easier to shave hard to reach areas  – as an additional feature, the gel reservoir can be flipped back so that the blade’s head can reach these smaller areas effortlessly.

I applied for a free trial of this razor through this link: http://www.hydro5trial.com/ (available until 26/06/17). The conditions stipulate that in order to receive the razor, applicants must be “a. not be a current user of a Wilkinson Sword Hydro Razor, B. be over 18 years of age, and c. resident in the UK”. Alternatively, it can be purchased here.

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