I reviewed the Riksack recently for Stomaworks, it’s a product to help users change an ostomy bag with less mess and more ease.
Take a look…
Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review but did receive the product for free.
I reviewed the Riksack recently for Stomaworks, it’s a product to help users change an ostomy bag with less mess and more ease.
Take a look…
Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review but did receive the product for free.
I am coming to the end of my fifth day wearing a sea sponge tampon and I am humming the theme tune to Spongebob Squarepants as I write up perhaps one of the oddest products I have ever reviewed.
Sea sponge tampons are a reusable, eco friendly alternative to regular disposable tampons and I was sent the Natural Intimacy Caribbean Silk Intimate Sponges to try by Stress No More. Made from natural sea sponge which is non-toxic and completely bio-degradable, I like to think of these as mermaid tampons. Seriously, I think this is what Ariel uses on her time of the month…
I have used a mooncup for years and so I’m already a convert to the reusable options when it comes to menstruation, but I have to say, the sea sponge was a bit weird even for me. I think it is so ingrained into us that our only options are tampons or sanitary towels (i.e. the items that are taxed and make a lot of money for the government!) that any other option is seen as alternative or hippyish.
So, according to the Stress No More website, the sea sponge is “harvested by divers straight from the Caribbean ocean, with the utmost respect for marine resources. Sea sponge lives on the ocean floor, it’s not coral or a plant; it is in fact an animal that has no brain or central nervous system.”
Wait, what?? Oh, now I feel a bit more icky that I have an animal up my flue.
“This renewable natural resource has the powerful ability to re-grow parts of the sponge that has been broken off by water currents, the divers cut them at the base so the sponge remains intact, ensuring that the sponge still has the ability to re-grow and reproduce over and over again.”
“No one ever really talks about the damage that traditional, disposable sanitary products have on our bodies and the environment. Tampons and sanitary pads are pumped with fragrances, dioxins and are usually made with non-organic cotton or rayon.”
Not to mention the waste that goes into landfill and into the sewage system, so the sea sponge really is a renewable and eco-friendly option. I recently tried the Tampax Pearl tampons and I couldn’t believe the amount of packaging and waste produced, each tampon applicator is made of plastic that goes into landfill because I couldn’t bring myself to put it in our plastic recycling pile.
The box arrived and had two sea sponges inside, there was minimal instructions, it just said to wash or sterilise before use but little else. To be honest, the packaging and instructions are pretty odd. There is no mention of menstruation, periods, blood or anything about my vag-j-j.
“Intimate sponges” they call them, “smooth and delicate”, “natural, absorbent and easy to clean, for internal or external use”.
I had to go to check the site to make sure I had the right product! This kind of annoyed me, if I am using an alternative menstrual product, let’s be proud of it and shout it from the rooftops! SPONGEBOB IS GOING TO BE MY TAMPON!!!!!!! (Well, he does live in Bikini Bottom)
And so to the website directions.
“When washing and soaking your sponge, be sure to use natural soap that is chemical free; this will make sure that your sea sponges stay clean and are always safe to use. Using soaps that have fragrances and chemicals can cause you irritation when in use.
Soak your sea sponge on a cup of warm water between 5 – 10 minutes with either of the recommended:
After the soak, rinse thoroughly and squish out any water that is left inside.
Please do not:
So after soaking and washing out, I used the sea sponge for the first time, once washed it becomes very, very soft and pliable and so I dried it out by squeezing it, rolled it into a cigar shape and pushed it in. I was a bit concerned it would feel dry and horrible going in, but really it was quite smooth and easy.
Once in, I couldn’t feel it AT ALL. Nothing.
The sponges are quite big, but once rolled and squished, they mould to whatever shape you put them in and so it stays quite compact in the vagina. The site says you can trim it down, but I didn’t need to as, like I said, you roll it and squish it small anyway.
So my mermaid tampon was in and if I’m honest, I didn’t trust it. I headed to bed with a towel to lay on incase of leaks and feeling pretty nervous. But I had no leaks at all, it was brilliant!
Since I’ve had so much surgery in that area, I can no longer use a moon cup as I can feel it inside and it is quite uncomfortable and so I have been back to using tampons and towels, I mention both because I usually leak with a tampon only. This makes periods a pretty crappy time for me, I have a very heavy flow and spend one week a month waddling round, buckles and braces, with a tampon and a big pad feeling like Carrie.
This also costs a lot of money. I go through around 5-6 tampons a day with 5-6 pads too, equally around £6 or £7 a month. Is it breaking the bank? No, but it does gall me to be spending money on something that makes me feel crap. So I decided to try the alternatives.
The Caribbean Silk Sponges are £9.95 + £3.95 delivery, they are said to last at least 3-6 months and you get two in a pack, therefore my annual menstrual costs would go from around £84 a year to just £13.90 saving me over £70 a year!
Anyway, there were no leaks on night one, and in fact, I haven’t had one leak for my whole period. It was extremely comfortable, I genuinely couldn’t feel a thing, so much so that I forgot I had it in a couple of times, it went a good 8 hours overnight without me having to get up.
This could be a coincidence, but my usually terrible period pains were almost non-existent this month. Could it be that my body wasn’t having to react to having big wads of cotton inside me? Who knows?
Back to actual usage, so it was easy to insert, super comfortable to wear and then it comes to removal. I had read a review that said it could be really tricky, some people use a piece of dental floss tied around it to remove but that it could tear the sponge in half. There is no getting around this, you have to be comfortable with your body and your blood to use the sea sponge.
I found it really quick and easy to remove, it is a little weird as the wet sponge does feel like flesh inside so it takes a second to figure out which bit is which, but once I caught feel of it, I bared down slightly and just pulled it out. Very simple and clean, yes you get your fingers slightly bloody, but barely worse than grabbing a bloody tampon string or disposing of a pad filled with blood and certainly no different to removing a moon cup.
I think it is the next bit that will get people. You have to squeeze out and rinse the sponge under the tap before reinserting it. Yes, you do get some blood on your hand but it is under running water and so it isn’t anywhere near as bad as you would think. Also because it is fresh blood, it has very little smell, I would say it is unnoticeable, unlike a sanitary towel where the blood is old and has been sat in the pad, the sea sponge felt very clean.
You wouldn’t be able to change it like this in a normal public toilet, a sink and running water is absolutely necessary, but you do get two and they come in a little sealed baggie, so you could take one out, put it in the sealed bag and then use the other and deal with it at home. I work from home and so this hasn’t been an issue. I also find they don’t need changing often and so you could go a good few hours without needing to change.
People find reusable menstrual products a bit gross, they say that they don’t want to have to be touching they blood, but I just find this argument so weird! Sanitary towels sit in your pants filled with your blood, you then have to take them out, wrap them up and put them in a bin. Tampons need removing and inserting. You have to wash your vagina during your periods, so reusable products aren’t any more faff than the usual two, we have just been taught that tampons and pads are the norm.
If more options were taught in schools to our children, then future generations would know they had a choice in their menstruation. My friend Chella Quint runs a project called Period Positive, I strongly recommend you go take a look at her site and learn more about the way we teach society that periods are dirty, embarrassing and a taboo subject.
My verdict? I have to say, I am really surprised! I thought I would give it a go and perhaps it could be a back up plan for if I really can’t get on with my moon cup or when I just can’t bare the tampons and pads any more. But it has been a really eye opener! No leaks, no discomfort, no waste (they are biodegradable and can be put in the compost at the end of their life), sea sponge tampons are a real and genuine option for women who want a choice when it comes to the products they use during shark week.
If your current menstrual products aren’t working for you, then give it a go, you might just be surprised by the results.
Now, whoooooooooooo lives in a pineapple under the sea?!!!
To buy your own sea sponges, head over to Stress No More. I haven’t been paid for this review but I was sent the products free of charge, I don’t earn anything from affiliate links here either, I just genuinely liked the mermaid tampons (fingers crossed someone rebrands these with the name and a mermaid splashing up on the rocks with a red sea behind her…)
I bloody love Sheffield and so thought I’d share with you the 10 best things about the mighty Sheffield… (In my humble opinion)
1. We breed the very best folk
Jarvis Cocker, Arctic Monkeys, Jessica Ennis to name but a few. Sheffield is home to a huge amount of amazing people, the great Sean Bean, Joe Cocker, Michael Palin also hail from our great city.
But it’s not just the famous folk, the people of Sheffield are the warmest, funniest, most generous in all the land. After the farce of the Sheffield Half Marathon this year (officially cancelled minutes before the start) Sheffielders came through and did us all proud with local people handing out bottles and cups of water to the runners who ran anyway.
People of Sheffield are proud and no matter where they live in the world, Sheffield is always in their hearts…
Totes braggy photo of me and Jarvis…
2. The Snooker makes us all fans and experts once a year
Once a year, everyone in Sheffield becomes a snooker fan! The World Snooker Championship held at Sheffield’s mighty Crucible Theatre is a sporting highlight that shines a light on our great city.
It matters not if you never look at another snooker table for the rest of the year, throughout the championships Sheffielders are experts on 147 breaks, snooker tactics and we all DEFINITELY once saw Ronnie O’Sullivan in town…
3. We have the best music scene
Sheffield has always had strong ties to live music, we have some great larger venues, but even better smaller ones that host such a range of music that fit to all tastes… From Corporation to The Plug, Leadmill to the The Harley.
Music in Sheffield is exciting and I believe this is because we nurture young talent, a good Sheffield band take a place in your heart and are supported strongly. And because Sheffield is the world’s biggest village (see number 10) everyone knows everyone in the music scene… This is a nice thing! Going out in town means bumping into the who’s who of Sheffield music and collaborations and musical appreciation are rife.
Go take a look at Exposed for a foray into Sheffield music awesomeness…
4. We have our own festival… Tramlines
Sheffield has it’s very own inner city Glastonbury, Tramlines festival is HUGE and takes over the whole city with venues all across Sheffield from the main stage through to bars, pubs, parks and pretty much every space going. It’s one weekend a year where music lovers, families, hard core festival goers and festival virgins alike don a wristband and experience three days of music, arts and Sheffield love.
5. Hendersons is KING (and we are a bunch of foodies!)
Hendersons Relish… It’s a Sheffield staple. We hold Hendersons to our heart and have a ridiculous amount of love and pride for this spicy relish! We sing about it, make art from it, dress up like it. It’s as big a part of Sheffield as the now destroyed Cooling Towers (See number 9!)
“It was Mr Henry Henderson who first began manufacturing his own special type of sauce back in the late part of the 19th century. Originally manufactured at 35 Broad Lane in Sheffield, Henderson’s Relish is still being made and has been in uninterrupted production within half a mile of the site from which the first bottle was filled.”
This image of Jarvis Cocker is painted in the spicy yorkshire sauce…
You can buy prints of this amazing work here by Neil Antcliff.
But we aren’t just about the Hendos, Sheffield is fast becoming a foodie capital with amazing places to eat. Pub grub is so much more at The Great Gatsby by Shyboy Cantina and for something a little smarter the amazing Wasabisabi is a must. Sheffield Food blogger Feast and Glory is a great place to look for reviews and ideas on where to eat next time you are out!
6. Sheffield is the greenest city in the world!
61% of Sheffield’s entire area is green space, and a third of the city lies within the Peak District National park. There are more than 250 parks, woodlands and gardens in the city, and an estimated 2 million trees, giving Sheffield the highest ratio of trees to people of any city in Europe. There are 4 trees to every person in Sheffield… I love that fact!!
We are currently storming ahead in a vote for Sheffield to be the best UK city for country lovers…
These facts come from the Creative Sheffield site;
7. We have our own language
After thas finished tha snap tha can av some spice, orate?
Gi’or wi thisen, thas gorra get dahn thi jennel.
Understood? I love the confusion on people’s faces when they listen to a full on Sheffield accent, like the Full Monty but further…
In case you were wondering the above statements say
After you have finished your food, you can have some sweets, alright?
Give over with yourself (stop yourself, calm down), you have got to go down the alleyway between two buildings. (It is DEFINITELY a jennel and NOT a ginnel…)
8. We have a band who play ukeleles, make puns and swear a lot… Everly Pregnant Brothers
I love a ukelele. I love puns. So I was always going to love Everly Pregnant Brothers! A group of Sheffield men, including artist Pete McKee and singer ‘Big Shaun’, they play Sheffield ukelele versions of classic songs such as No Oven, No Pie (No woman, No cry) and Hendos (Yellow).
A Tramlines favourite, EPB are everything that is right and good in silly, funny music that doesn’t take itself too seriously…
If you are over 30, you may remember the Hole in The Road?! Yes? They sang about that too…
9. We all mourn the loss of the cooling towers
The Cooling Towers were an important part of Sheffield, the beacon on the M1 that said you were nearly home (or just getting to Meadowhall, yeah yeah I know I should probably have included Meadrall/MeadowHell or it’s many incarnations but you know, it’s just a massive shopping centre!!)
When they came down in 2008, a city mourned. There was an attempt to save them by artists, but alas they were demolished and an icon disappeared.
You can buy beautiful art prints by Jonathan Wilkinson here, seen below.
But plans to reuse the site for a £500,000 public art project are to go ahead and so perhaps we will soon have a new icon to behold!
10. We are the biggest village in the world!
We really are! Despite a population of over 550,000, Sheffield manages to redeem the feeling of living in a large Village. Perhaps because the city centre is the heart, with clusters of great areas surrounding or perhaps it is just the great people of Sheffield. Either way, you know on a stroll through town or a wander on Ecclesall Road you will most likely bump into a lot of people you know!
Sheffield just has a great feel to it, it has a character and an authenticity that Sheffielders hold close to their hearts. It is a great place to live and whenever I have been away for a while, coming back into the city always lifts my soul and makes me smile.
Sheffield and proud x
I was invited to go hang out at the lovely New Leaf Spa at the Clumber Park Hotel and Spa and how could I refuse?? I LOVE a spa but have never been to one alone and so this was a new experience.
Located on Blyth Road near to the top entrance of Clumber Park, the spa is easy to get to, just a few minutes off the A1. The spa has a separate entrance to the hotel, there is a big car park and so after easily parking I entered the building to start off my fab day!
The receptionist was really friendly, she was warm and welcoming, explained where everything was, gave me a form to fill in and let me know about lunch.
I have been bitten by hotel spas before so wasn’t sure what to expect, as a note to hotels, a small, cold pool does not a spa make! The New Leaf spa is small but perfectly formed, a warm pool with jacuzzi, steam room, sauna and outdoor hot tub. There is a lovely restaurant and bar area with a relaxation to sit and have a tea or coffee.
The changing rooms were immaculately clean and your locker is free (a total bonus as I never have a pound coin to hand when I need it!), you get a towel, dressing gown and slippers plus lovely shampoo, conditioner and shower gel in the showers and then a dressing table of lotions, potions and cotton wool pads etc. It just felt like thought had been put into everything to make it a pleasant stay.
I was there on a Tuesday and there were around 8 other guests there when I arrived, this dwindled to zero throughout the day, at one point I had the whole pool to myself, though it picked up again later. The steam room and sauna are quite small, fitting only perhaps 4 or 5 in comfortably, this was no problem for me as it was so quiet but I can imagine at busier times you may have to wait.
The pool is surrounded by loungers and with the warmth and the relaxing music I fell asleep TWICE! I can’t believe how relaxed I was!! The steam room and sauna were lovely, I used them a few times throughout my day. The pool was a great temperature and the jacuzzi fantastic. I almost didn’t bother with the outdoor hot tub as it was a grey, dreary and drizzly day but you know, I am SO glad I did. It was really relaxing sitting back in the heat surrounded by trees and the wintery cold day.
My lunch was included in the package and so at 1pm I headed for the restaurant, they reserve your seating for you and so it was smooth and relaxing with no waiting. I ordered from the ‘Light Bites’ menu (my food was included but the prices on the menu were very affordable, my dish was around £7) I ordered the homemade fishcake with chips and mushy peas. I wasn’t expecting much as it was a ‘light bite’ but the portions were great and food delicious. The presentation was what I would expect from a nice restaurant rather than a spa and the food tasted fresh and beautiful. Water is available freely and I was treated to a glass of prosecco!
My treatment was an Elemis Facial that lasted around an hour and included a head and scalp massage as well as a neck and shoulder massage. My therapist was Joanne who was so lovely, the room was beautiful, treatment bed really comfortable (some are so hard!!!) and thought had been put into every part of the treatment right down to the flowers laid on the treatment bed.
The facial was AMAZING, I would usually go for a massage but I am not comfortable on my stomach for long periods at the minute and I have to say I am now a facial covert! It was so relaxing and the neck and shoulder massage was HEAVENLY!!!! There is a chill out area with sofas to relax in before and after your treatment. I returned to the pool area feeling like I was floating on air and chilled out for another hour or so before heading home.
I was genuinely impressed by the spa from start to finish. All the staff were really friendly, the place was so clean and the facilities great. I have been to some large hotels where the spas have been disappointing. Guests not being provided with dressing gowns, no relaxation areas or jacuzzis, dirty facilities but Clumber Park New Leaf Spa was fantastic and I would definitely recommend it. I spoke to a few other guests through the day and only heard praise of the facilities and staff, one lady said she regularly goes to day spas and this is one of her favourites, not the largest but the friendliest and most relaxing.
So feeling tempted? The New Leaf Spa are offering So Bad Ass readers an amazing offer, why not treat yourself or use the offer to buy a christmas relaxation gift for someone you love?
Readers of So Bad Ass can claim a whopping 20% off spa days when booking for a day for 2 people!
Simply quote Bad Ass when booking to claim your discount, valid between December 2014 to March 2015 terms and conditions apply, take a peek at their website and get booking!
Love Sam x
I have not been paid for this post but my spa day was complimentary from the spa in return for an honest review. All opinions are entirely my own.
If you would like me to review your business, product or event, please get in touch x
Last year I went on a PR and Marketing course called Brand Booster run by marketing consultancy Keep Your Fork. Run by the thoroughly charming, infectiously positive and wonderfully inspiring Faye Smith it was a six week course run once a week in Sheffield. This is a review of the course, I have not been paid for this article and all opinions are my own.
I met Faye at a networking meeting, she is one of those people who walk in the room and bring with them such a massive personality and confidence that you are immediately drawn to them. As I listened to her talk, I was drawn in by her and felt I wanted to talk to her more. She later told me about her workshop on PR and marketing and I thought it would be great for our photography business The Picture Foundry. It was £397 for the six week workshop and after careful consideration I decided to go ahead and book on.
I know this seems like an awful lot of money, but I compared it to paying for an advert in a good magazine and thought I could learn more and earn more from gaining this knowledge and skills.
It was held at a lovely pub on Ecclesall Road in Sheffield, on my first week I was terrified as I walked into the room, but I was warmly welcomed by Faye and immediately felt settled. I had emailed Faye beforehand and told her about my Ulcerative Colitis, that I was having a flare up and explained what that meant. I told her about how I may need to leave the room suddenly as I didn’t want it to be awkward on the day. She emailed straight back and was so understanding and compassionate, saying anything I needed she would sort. So when I walked in the room and realised just how narrow the route to the loo would be if I was at the end of the table I had a slight panic, but she had thought it through and had nonchalantly put her coat and bag over the chair nearest the toilet, she then said “Sam, why don’t you sit here!”
It sounds like a really small thing, but when you are in a flare, things like access to a toilet becomes vital. It almost stopped me attending as I was terrified of being embarrassed by running to the toilet or even worse, having an accident in front of a room full of business people!!
Over six weeks Faye teaches you about the following topics; Creating your personal profile, Writing a press release and handling the media, creating a PR plan for press, radio and TV, developing a marketing plan, developing a sales plan and contact strategy and your person style, image and photos.
You get an email each week with all the notes from the day along with a piece of homework to develop your skills. Along with this you get Faye as your personal PR machine, sending you all her press requests and supporting you in finding journalistic opportunities for your business.
Its the sort of course where you have to work at it. She isn’t a magician and isn’t going to make money just fall into your lap. But what she does is inspire you, teach you and support you in learning everything you need to know about PR and marketing for your business.
Some of it is common sense. But that sort of annoying common sense where you know you SHOULD know it and be following the rules but just don’t. Other things are just a real insight into how to push your business PR ahead of your competitors.
There is a little business speak, but on the whole it is really easy to understand and clear. If I didn’t understand anything I felt completely confident to raise my hand and ask a question without feeling silly. It was just a really friendly yet professional course, not at ALL stuffy like some business workshops and conferences I have attended before.
So results? Within three months of the course I had got myself, my photography business and the arts group I work for into local and national press and even a 4 page spread in a national magazine. In the eight months I have got both businesses on Radio Sheffield as well as other local radio stations. It gave me real life skills of how to make the media work for me in a simple, easy to follow format. I keep my notes and refer back to them all the time.
It did one other thing. Faye inspired me to start this blog and really push it forward. She told me that everyone has a story, something unique and interesting about them that the world wants to hear about. I had never thought about using my illness and my experience in this way before. Since starting this blog I have had well over 30,000 views, hundreds of emails and messages of support. I have been featured on other blogs and I was invited onto BBC radio Sheffield to talk about my International Women’s Day talk.
I wouldn’t say its all down to Faye and the course, like I said it isn’t magic. What I have achieved is down to my hard work, innovation and stubbornness but the skills I learnt have been invaluable. I now know how to contact journalists, how to write my press releases and I have a solid marketing, PR and sales plan. I left the course feeling confident and inspired and ran with the ideas, skills and support given to me. It has changed the way I do business for the better, and things are really going from strength to strength for me.
Just so you know, the amount of free advertising we have had through the skills I learnt on the course outweigh the cost of the course many, many times over. But you have to be prepared to work at it, if you need some guidance on PR and marketing for your business I would wholly recommend Keep Your Fork and the Brand Booster, but you have to take what is given and make it your own, then work your arse off at it!
Ill give you one example, Faye talked about tying an event to an ‘international day’, she gave us a link to a website with all the weird and wonderful days on it (http://www.national-awareness-days.com/), we talked about different ways to use this to your business’ advantage. I took a look and realised that a couple of weeks later was Yorkshire Day and started plotting. With the confidence and skills I had learnt along with a shed load of initiative and probably a couple of loose screws I decided I wanted to do an event on Filey Beach for Yorkshire Day with the arts group Responsible Fishing. I got on to councils, leapt through hoops and skipped with the red tape and pulled off an event that they said was just too short noticed. I then got on to local newspapers and radio and got the event covered by several newspapers, three different radio stations and got local councillors to come down to support the event. You can have a look at the day here.
From this, the group got a huge boost to their audience, Facebook and twitter followers increased and traffic to the site was up. I was happy with this, we hadn’t been paid for the day, but had managed to get free accommodation from the lovely Filey Brigg campsite. Then we got a message from somebody who’d seen the day and commissioned the group to do a big paid piece of land art on another beach. This one event sparked from an idea from Faye has grown into a lot of well paid work and a TON of free advertising.
I think this is a great example of the results of the course. Like I said, nothing is handed to you on a plate, but it is what you make of the advice given.
For more information on Brand Booster and Keep Your Fork, see the website.