A little bird told me about LittleBird and I’m glad they did. Away from the increasingly generic (and downright weird - ‘home sauna’ anyone?) offerings of Groupon, Wowcher, LivingSocial and the rest, is a diamond in the rough. A daily deal site in their words, ‘handpicked for families’. This is their great selling point, but if you don’t have a family don’t let that put you off; todays deal is cheesecake, everyone can enjoy cheesecake and I am sure that this can apply to a lot of their deals.
I’m a ‘single’ gal in a corporate sense, but I have young siblings, nieces, nephews, and cousins. I like to treat them regularly but as I am saving up to have a house and family of my own I can’t do this as often as I like, so I signed up for LittleBird immediately, I took no convincing. I’m really looking forward to reviewing something from them but alas it can not be the cheesecake as I gave up sweet grub for Lent.
“Hmmmm, this could possibly be the silliest thing I have ever done on a daily deal, but I have bought a tattoo consultation, design and 45 minutes tattoo time through Groupon. All in the name of research though, no one can accuse me of not taking this seriously. You might be waiting a while for the review but I think it will be worth it. Eep!”—
A couple of weeks ago I bought 2 instructor led skiing passes for SNO!zone Milton Keynes for the bargain price of £21, or so it seemed. I had yet to book when I received an email to ‘clarify’ a few points about booking the deal with SNO!zone (can I stop writing it like that now? It’s pretty annoying and reminds me of Yo! Sushi). The email was to basically say that you couldn’t book in half of February and half of April and that you had to pay extra for the compulsory gloves. This would have been fine except when I called to book for any Saturday or Sunday in March I was told only a few sessions were being allocated for Groupon vouchers on a weekend and that these had already been booked. This wasn’t stated on the email from Groupon.
I’ll be damned if I am going to take a day, or even half a day, off work to spend an hour of it falling on my arse in Milton Keynes so I emailed Groupon and explained the situation, how difficult Snozone (haha they look silly when I write it like that) were being with the booking and that I understood I was out of the 7 day cancellation period. Guess what?! Groupon replied straight away with an apology and credited the money back to my Groupon account. I think that’s pretty good customer service if you ask me? I haven’t had to cancel a voucher before so can’t compare it with any other daily deal companies but please feel free to comment and let me know if you have had a similar experience.
Girl I wanna make you sweat - and not in a sexy way.
Groupon - Glow Yoga - January 2012 - cost £32 (value £120) for 10 sessions up to 90 minutes each - Good Vibes Covent Garden www.goodvibesfitness.co.uk
Glow Yoga is held in a basement studio on Betterton St in Covent Garden, heated with infrared panels and SAD studio ambient lighting. It gives the effect of running through a vinyasa flow on a hot summers day. I’ve been to five sessions now and this is definitely one of the best value for money deals I have bought. Good Vibes have equipped the studio very well and the room is always set up in a logical way, this is a big plus for me as it shows the instructors have common sense - not something you come across a lot unfortunately. There was a bit of a delay when I sent them my request to book the first time, I emailed them twice and called them before they acknowledged my voucher but once that was done I was able to book my sessions using their online booking system, it’s so easy to use and is really convenient.
The yoga teachers are advanced and technical but they talk you through each move simply so I don’t even feel like I have to watch to know how my pose should be, which means I can keep my eyes closed more and really flow through the moves. It also means I don’t have to see the sweat dripping from the chap next to me on to his yoga mat.
The chi is swiftly lost though, once you hit the cramped changing facilities, after up to 90 minutes of restoration and de-stressing this is a real shame and it has become a chore that I try to avoid at all costs. The shower rooms are very small compared to how many people are there which I feel lets the studio down quite a lot, the studio probably fits around 40 people, most of whom are female but once all those women make a dash for it, all hell breaks loose in the changing rooms which probably hold about 10 comfortably. I also haven’t seen a water cooler yet, which I find worrying considering this is practically Bikram yoga and I find I drink a lot of water whilst I’m in there.
Overall for £32 it was a good bargain, and is probably the best yoga class I have experienced. Would I pay the full price for the sessions though? Probably not, £120 every couple of months could get me the Mulberry Harriet satchel I’ve had my eye on by the end of the year.
Living Social - 7 days of chef-prepared healthy meals from Diet Chef - January 2012 - cost £29 (value £65) - Diet Chef www.dietchef.co.uk
As ever, daily deals have their finger on the pulse. It’s January and everyone is fed up of eating (not me), we’ve all put a few pounds on over Christmas (erm how many lbs are in a stone again?), so we all want to diet and detox (yes that would be me, reluctantly). I’ve seen a few of the same deals on all of the usual suspects this month, there was a really expensive - £99 to be precise - 5 day juice detox from the horribly named Nosh Detox on KGB, Wahanda and Groupon. It was clever, it made me go to their website to see what miracles this was going to produce for the price and how much it was normally. The answers were; nothing that you couldn’t do yourself with the right kit, which would coincidentally cost less than the weeks full price of juices for £257. But we’re not here to talk about overpriced juice, I want to talk about overpriced, processed mush from the likes of Diet Chef.
Firstly their website; it’s good, you choose what you want from a very long list of different meals, breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner. The breakfasts were ‘samey’, porridge, granola or cereal bars. I like my breakfast so I chose the porridges, my brain makes me think there’s more there because it expands once it’s cooked. Lunches were again very similar, lots of soups, a couple of pasta salads and weirdly, some milkshakes. I’m fussy with soup, I don’t like bits in them and I’ll be damned if I’m having milkshake for lunch, so this was a risky business. Snacks were plain, a couple of oat biscuits in savoury or sweet and some popcorn. Dinners were the highlight when I was choosing, there was a lot of different cuisines, lasagne, pasta, stews, chilli, paella. I almost started looking forward to it. The problem was that the website wasn’t very clear about the ‘freshness’ of these products. Do I keep them in the fridge, are they cupboard items etc? I was going in blind and I’d have to figure this out for myself.
I had over a week to prepare myself, I had requested for the delivery to be left with the grocery shop that I live above. 3 days after ordering I received an email from UPS, unable to deliver. I didn’t think too much of it, maybe the shop was busy, the next day the same email. I rang UPS and asked what was going on, they said there had been no alternative delivery passed on to them. I gave them the address of the shop but the next day I got the same email again. Finally on the 4th day someone used their initiative and read the address label properly. So far so bad. Also I hadn’t done any food shopping for 4 days so by this time I’d lost half a stone from starving (I joke, although maybe that’s how the meals help you lose weight).
I’ll spare you the details of every single meal but overall porridge is just porridge, the soups were actually nice, the right consistency for me and particularly their sweet potato and coconut soup was surprisingly very tasty, the pasta salads not so nice, soggy and bad tasting. The dinners were all below par, low fat prepackaged meals that don’t even need to be left in the fridge, so the preservatives must be in abundance. I could make healthier meals every day of the week for less than £29 and when you weigh up the actual cost of £65 a week I know I’d rather make my own fresh food and have enough spare cash to buy a pair of 7 For All Mankind jeans to squeeze myself in to when I’ve lost my Christmas weight. And in case you were wondering, yes I did lose a bit of weight but if you stick to any diet you will lose weight so make it a healthy and fresh one instead.
Time Out - Androuet Raclette and Fondue Restaurant - January 6th 2012 - cost £45 (value £90) - three-course meal for two - Androuet Old Spitalfields Market http://www.androuet.co.uk/restaurant/
First of all let me say happy birthday to my love, and second of all ‘woweeee’. I took Kieran here for his birthday, the plan was to take him to a French restaurant and present him with a Eurostar ticket to Gay Paris (it’s funnier if you say Paris in an English accent) for his birthday, then this deal came up and I thought ‘it’s fate’ and it really was.
This daily deal review is for French restaurant Androuet. Androuet is something of a hidden gem, when you arrive it looks like a sort of cheese shop come cafe, we booked early (I get cranky if I don’t eat before 7pm) and so we were seated at a posing table in a tiny bar with about 3 other couples squeezed in. When I booked I was asked if I wanted an outside table, to which I declined considering it was the middle of winter but it was all set up with patio heaters and I guess really it was inside the market but I know for next time - there will be a next time. They also set up tables in the cheese shop at around 8pm and they were fully booked all night, turning away people that hadn’t booked.
OK so you probably want me to get on with it now but there is so much positive stuff to say. The staff were friendly and attentive, bringing the menu straight away and offering us our first of 2 free glasses of wine each. The menu was the only slight disappointment, the deal said we could choose from the a la carte menu but we were only given the choice of a set Christmas menu (Christmas being 2 weeks prior to the meal). Never mind, we were happy with the selection although it was very cheese based and the bloke doesn’t really like cheese so he didn’t get much choice, the a la carte has a lot more choice for pesky non-cheese lovers (I like to call these people weirdos).
Right, I’ll get to the point of it now, the meal was amazing, one of the best I have had since living in London, we shared our starters of foie gras and French onion soup. I hadn’t had foie gras before, the reason being is that I have had it drummed in to me that the geese are mistreated, I know this is proven and this is why I feel terrible about what I am about to say, it was amazing. It was the right side of creamy and buttery but still meaty, forget about pates this is all I want at Christmas now. The soup was good but I wasn’t keen on sharing the starters any more after that.
For mains I had the Androuet fondue with charcuterie, bread and crudité, Kieran had Toulouse sausages & aligot, that’s posh sausage and cheesy mash to us. Both were tasty and I have a particular fondness for fondue ever since our last trip to Paris so this seemed quite a poignant meal. We finished off with a cheese platter and Kierans favourite, crème brulée. As I mentioned before, the set menu was very cheesy so the cheese platter proved too much for me but the brulée was delicious.
All in all it was a perfect evening and a bargain, I would definitely pay full price to eat there again. The staff were a breath of fresh air and worthy of a large tip. The best daily deal I have experienced yet! Oh and in case you were wondering, Paris was amazing and yes we did go back to our favourite fondue restaurant.
LivingSocial - Virgin Wines - cost £49 (value £140) - 12 bottle case of wine - Virgin Wines www.virginwines.co.uk
Score - 4/5
IT’S CHRISTMAAAASSSSSS!!! Well it was. And what a good Christmas. Especially when I saw this deal. I’m no wine buff but I know I like wine, I know my family and friends like wine and I know I’m going to forget peoples presents. If you know me and you got a bottle of wine from me then this is where it came from. This is a simple blog post, it came, we saw and we drank. There were 2 lovely bottles of bubbly that were drank on Christmas day and it came with 2 free crystal champagne flutes. The only downside is that there was one bottle too many of chardonnay, and by that I mean that one bottle is too many, it came with 2 and there were only 4 bottles of white. The case is still going, I didn’t get rid of all of them before the January detox but it’s my birthday in February so I’m sure I’ll make good use of them then.
The process on Virgins website was smooth and easy and they delivered the next day to the shop I live above, without any fuss. The only reason I gave this deal a 3 and not a 4 is because there is no way I would pay £140 for 12 bottles of wine, regardless of if there are 2 free flutes with it, I’ve got 2 already from the deal. My maths deduce that means each bottle would be more than £10 and they sell 3 bottles for £12 at Iceland. This deal was obviously meant for classier people.