Our Michelle as we affectionately call her, has both beauty and brains and is one of the most technically savvy vape reviewers out there.
She hails from Telford, Shropshire, near the England/Wales border and lives with the loves of her life – Squirty and Goolies. I think you can tell by their names this lady has a wicked and refreshingly down to earth sense of humour lol.
She’s definitely the most mechanically minded reviewer on the EcigClick team. Nowadays she works as a technical author for a major UK manufacturer where she interprets detailed diagrams and drawings into repair and diagnostics manuals – way-way above my head lol.
Those skills have transferred to the simple matter of vape reviews very easily indeed and her style as well as being extremely detailed and informative, is peppered with some wickedly funny lines.
Michelle admits to having a long battle with quitting smoking and had managed to give up completely for 8 long months until a recent family tragedy and the stress that brought had her back to being a dual user – something she intends to remedy soon.
OK so let’s find out how come the first ego style vape kit costing her £70 [remember those days and prices?] lasted a few minutes before she sold it – why she prefers animals to people and is she really an “impatient cow“?!
First up a little about yourself – how old are you – are you married – single – looking – kids?
I am 43 and I was born and live in Telford, Shropshire – in-between Birmingham and Wales so I have a mixture of Brummie and “oooh arr” when I talk!
I live with my Beautiful big-hearted Staffordshire Bull Terrier Squirty who is my world and a mental kitty Goolies who isn’t quite wired up right in the head. He beats the crap out of the dog! The dog comes running to me to help! But they love each other really and curl up together at night with the cat purring and the dog snoring!
As I have got older I started to prefer animals to people – I volunteered for my local dog rescue which I loved but sadly since all the trauma with mom I have had to just concentrate on surviving each day.
Visiting the rescue as my health wasn’t great I wouldn’t be able to take the dogs on long walks so I would sit and cuddle the old or scared doggies. It was very rewarding. I also met some amazing humans through the rescue scene.
I also fostered a couple of dogs – Oakley and Oreo and they both adored my Squirty and both very loved in wonderful new homes now.
(Left Oakley and Right Oreo)
I have a few medical conditions including long term depression and also a very odd disease called Ehler Danlos Syndrome. Basically, it is a disease which affects the connective tissues in the body and manifests in many ways.
For me the main one is that I am “hypermobile” (Double Jointed).
Much fun and games in my younger years freaking people out but as I get older the joint pain and sub dislocations are becoming more troublesome. It makes me tire easily as I also have circulation and blood pressure issues due to this.
What’s your current job?
I am a technical author in my full-time job writing service manuals for a major Construction / Agricultural vehicle manufacturer. Basically I have to translate drawings and photos into repair and diagnostic instructions.
I left school with decent grades and I started an apprenticeship at my local Ministry of Defence site as a civilian vehicle fitter working on anything from Carburettors to rebuilding Warrior tracked vehicles. I completed my apprenticeship plus 7 more years when fully skilled and was made redundant in 2003.
I’m in there in my red apprentice overalls in the cutting below!
As an apprentice, they sent me to college so I got several qualifications under my belt which enabled me to work in my next two jobs which were CAD draughting. Sadly one of those resulted in my second redundancy.
Then on the off chance in 2006 I applied for the technical author job and genuinely thought I wouldn’t get it. I was at the interview and they showed me hydraulic and electrical schematics and exploded drawings and were staggered I was able to read and interpret them.
They were second nature to me after using them to build vehicles and even drawing my own. So yay I got the job – they had been struggling to find people who could decipher engineering drawings!
I was made redundant for the 3rd time after 2 years but thankfully business picked up and I was employed again by the same company and have been with them since.
When did you start smoking and how long did you smoke?
I have been smoking since I was approximately 15 and I was one of the late starters. However since asking an old school friend of mine this week she said I was 13, and I was one of the later ones in our group! In those days as kids you would fight someone for half a Berkeley. I sometimes used to smoke Menthol as nobody would want to thrash you for a drag on them!
Sadly as you will read below I am still smoking… hopefully not for long!
When and why did you decide to quit and was vaping your first choice?
After being diagnosed with Asthma I went through the multiple medical options to give up smoking on prescription nicotine replacement. Patches, Lozenges, inhalators etc. which didn’t work. I also tried Zyban and Champix both of which gave me god awful scary side effects.
I had been smoking and vaping (dual using) for years and really managed to cut down my tobacco usage to about a quarter of what it had been.
I gave up smoking in 2018 for around 8 months then a depression bout saw me end up back on the ciggies.
I gave up again 1st April 2019 and managed 6 weeks before my mom tragically died on May 16th – again right now I am back on the smokes. Sadly due to my mom’s health issues, the last 18 months have been hell physically and emotionally for my whole family. Watching someone you love suffer as much as she did was so traumatic for us.
I have fought tobacco all my adult life and when I quit this year I thought I had nailed it. My Smok Nord devices and 20mg Apollo Nic salt were perfect – in fact, all my other sub ohm and pod devices stayed on the shelf for that 6 weeks as I loved the Nords so much.
When my head is less of a mess I will again knock the baccy on the head, as I know I can do it and I know exactly what kit will get me there.
What was your first vape kit and nic strength juice?
I tried vaping in the very early days when Totally Wicked was the only place you could buy gear. I spent £70 on a Tornado Ego-C Twist VV battery kit with Tornado atomiser thingies in a beautiful pink colour.
In those days the only e-liquids you could buy were tobacco or menthol at like 24mg I think. Oh and they were £9.99 for 10ml. I absolutely detested the tobacco the chemical smell would make me puke my ring up before I even attempted to vape it. So I was reduced to vaping menthol liquid. After a few days of menthol liquid I kind of got fed up and packaged my kit up and flogged it.
Therefore I was put off vaping.
Many years later my friend Abby had a VIP Photon e-cig kit in her kitchen and a bottle of their tobacco liquid. I had a sniff of it and it didn’t smell chemically. I had a go on the kit and actually even enjoyed it. So out I went and bought the VIP kits, plus some super chunky Ego batteries and a Protank Mini 3 tank.
I also started to dabble in CBD liquid and I had bought one which had 80% VG. I had only tried 50/50 e-liquids prior to that and it was a revelation as to how it didn’t make me cough or taste chemically. So I then started looking into higher VG e-liquid.
How long did you vape mouth to lung (MTL) before moving to direct to lung (DTL)?
I haven’t really stopped with the MTL have always kept having a dabble in it and since nic salts have arrived I think it is amazing.
I would MTL first thing in the morning, after meals and when out and about.
But sat at home I do like a good high VG sweetie flavour liquid such as my favourites the Stika Bombz Fruit Salad or IVG Bubblegum.
What was your first DTL set-up?
The first review I did was for the Eleaf iCare 2 which I loved. I then tried my first bash at sub ohm vaping which was the Smok Stick AIO.
Jeez, that thing nearly blew my tonsils out. I thought I was doing something wrong or I was a wuss, but in true SMOK style it was a bag of crap and was faulty.
Then I reviewed the Joyetech CuBox AIO and tried that with high VG liquid and wow I really got the bug then!
What was the first rebuildable you used and did you find building easy?
I used a few rebuildables – had a Kayfun clone first which I hated – it leaked and never got the bloody wicking right ever. Then on the advice of some amazing people at The Vapin Rat forum I grabbed a Doggy Style clone. Wow piece of piss to build and wick and it was amazing.
I see some of the newer MTL RTA such as the Berserker and True RTA and love they have similar style decks to the Doggy. Only problem was the bottom fill. Also massive shout out to the lovely people on the Vapin Rat (MDC, Vape Whore, Ratty etc.) who sent me all sorts of goodies to help me get started!
I was running an Eleaf Pico mega mod and my little RTA. I was a dual user smoking as well as vaping but I was almost down to a quarter of my previous tobacco use supplementing with vaping at that point.
I used to build RDAs/RTAs as my trade was as a mechanic so was used to working with my hands. But sadly nowadays my grip is poor as my fingers bend in stupid directions so I just limit rebuildables to liquid and hardware reviews.
How did you get into reviewing and why?
On the off chance after one of my many visits to the EcigClick website I saw a link to contact about joining the team, so I thought it was worth a shot. Jonny gave me a trial and I loved it and he’s not been able to get rid of me ever since!
I feel a need to try and steer new vapers onto decent kits which will give them the best shot at enjoying vaping. Not something crappy which they will hate and instantly write off vaping as a way forward.
I can also relate to anyone finding it difficult to fully switch to vaping. I will be honest I enjoyed smoking, still do sometimes – I was only giving up for my health.
But finding a good setup which suits you makes the transition much easier.
I hate it when a new vaper walks into a vape shop and gets mugged off with £200 worth of inappropriate gear. They try it once, hate it, stuff it in a cupboard and then declare they hate vaping.
Also, I remember when my mom started vaping and how scary and confusing all the gear was to her. She stayed on cig-a-likes for years despite trying all my gear. She didn’t want the hassle of filling tanks and coil changes etc. So I do also see a lot of kits from the perspective of someone like my mom.
Some of the starter kits now for less than £30 are perfect, Innokin Endura T18II Range, Smok Nord, Pod mods galore prove you don’t need 300W and spend a fortune.
Spend another 10-20 quid on a range of e-liquid to find your preference and you can have a perfect set up for less than £50! One which you will use and not throw in a cupboard.
What’s the worst and best item you’ve reviewed?
A particular low point was the You Got E-juice Pumpkin Cheesecake which was a foul hybrid of rotten potatoes and sweaty socks.
I had to throw my sub tank in the bin as even after changing the glass, coil, seals and drip tip and many thorough washes that smell would not piss off. I gave it my mate Jamie who heaved when he vaped it too! He tried to give it away to several of his mates who wouldn’t touch it after smelling it!
The worst kit I have reviewed – wow there has been a few – sorry to say mainly Eleaf. Eleaf stuff hates me. The Tessera – the Ello TS tank leaked like hell and killed the mod too, the Pico S – the Ello Vate tank leaked and the mod stopped even recognising its own tank, the iStick Nowos, the Ello Duro tank leaked and the battery stopped charging after 3 months and the Pico X which has packed in altogether now but the Melo 4 tank is still going strong.
It is such a shame as Eleaf used to be great, in fact, my little pink Pico Mega is still my friend’s daily mod! Plus the Melo 4 tank is one of my favourites now.
As for best – my first try on the Freemax Fireluke Mesh really opened my eyes. Getting RTA flavour from a stock coil tank was incredible.
Also, I really loved the original Innokin EQ and the IVG e-liquids were a pleasure to review.
What would you really like to review and why?
Well as I’m more inclined towards MTL and staying off the ciggies I am favouring more of the Pod style devices.
I’m not a fan of closed pod systems as I don’t like the restriction of what flavour or strength I can use and obviously they are more expensive to run. I find myself usually ripping closed pods apart to have a bash at refilling them!
I have a few of the best Pod mods around right now – and will be doing an article in the near future comparing them all. Such as the Orion Q, Trinity Alpha, Zeltu X, Geekvape Frenzy and Smoant Pasito.
I do like the look of the Orchid kit and Snowwolf Wocket too which are in a similar theme and I would imagine the new Sense pods – the TF range would give great flavour.
I am quite easily and cheaply pleased!
One other kit which is getting on a bit now but always fancied is the Sigelei Shikra in stainless and pink which still tempts me!
Plus anything Freemax is always on my wishlist as they just seem to always nail it. I have found Innokin to be a pretty solid brand – I have loved a lot of their kits only with a rare poo one here and there.
What’s your go-to vape set-up right now?
I am a big fan of a good mesh sub tank – mainly Freemax I have to say – I have 2x Fireluke Mesh, 3xMesh Pro and a Twister kit.
My main devices are my Smok Nords with the 1.4ohm regular coil, Apollo or IVG nic salt.
For sub ohm I love the Eleaf Melo 4 tank with the EC-M coil, the amazing Mag Grip, Freemax Twister and any of my Freemax tanks on my mods.
For e-liquid reviews I tend to use my Kaees Aladdin RDA for high VG and my Geekvape Ammit MTL RDA for nic salt or high nic. I usually pair the Ammit with something like the Nunchaku. After the pumpkin poo e-liquid I don’t use stock coil tanks for reviewing any more.
What are your thoughts on the UK vape review scene?
I am an impatient cow so video reviews are just a bit too long winded for me to watch. If I want a review of a device EcigClick hasn’t covered I will generally google and find a written review or look on vendor sites at customer reviews.
I tend to like the technical side of things more than opinion. There is a reviewer somewhere who does all sorts of output and internal resistance tests and I love all that. Also someone like Mooch is my hero, I would love to do all that, nobody can argue with facts and results.
Well actually in the vape world there is always something to argue about #drama.
Any plans on starting a vape review YouTube channel?
Oh no way! I am such a clumsy arse – whenever I unpack or set up any kit I drop every component twelvety billion times, swear, laugh, throw it, loose it – nobody got time to sit and watch this muppet doing that!
What’s the future for vaping in general?
I am not sure really, one trend change I would like to see is less of the “aspirational lifestyle” type branding and “influencers”.
You know some marketing “expert” says to sell a brand you need to make it a lifestyle that people aspire to.
So you get all these social media posts of half-naked people (men and women) and fancy cars, exotic landscapes etc., with the actual thing they are advertising that small you can’t see what it is.
Especially with e-liquid I want to know what the bloody flavour is not the bra size of some woman who has probably never even opened the bottle.
We all look at liquid adverts wanting to know – what flavour, bottle size and a lot of time the price range. I don’t care if some muscly geezer has it on the dash of his Porsche. If it tastes like shit or kills my coils I won’t buy it!
As for the legal side to vaping I think the regulation in the UK is pretty good. I don’t agree with the 2ml capacity limit but otherwise I think we are doing ok – but vaping and tobacco need to be regulated as separate entities in law.
I know that is probably an unpopular opinion in the vape world but when people try and slate vaping with scare stories about ingredients etc we can fire back with how much e-liquid production is regulated in the UK. They must be clean room, registered brands, limited nicotine content with all ingredients clearly listed. We can tell them there is regulation in place to completely blow their argument right out of the water.
Where can people find you on social media?
I have an Instagram account which I rarely update sadly – sorry but I do share some pics of stuff I am reviewing if anyone cares!
So sorry this is the dullest interview ever – I have had 43 years of drama and just crave “dull” nowadays!
Thanks Our ‘Shell!
On behalf of myself and Jonny I’d like to thank our ‘Shell for taking the time to take part in this interview and trust me dull it ain’t!
Despite the very recent death of her beloved mother and the pain and stress that has obviously brought, Michelle has continued to write for us and that shows her amazing inner strength.
As well as writing detailed reviews, you can thank our ‘Shell for showing us all the new vape gear about to arrive on the market. She puts in a ton of time keeping abreast of the new vape releases that get many of us licking our lips over that new ‘shiny’
I was a little worried about asking her to take part in this interview, but she was more than willing saying it would help take her mind off things – thanks again Michelle.
OK, stay tuned for another interview with a member from the EcigClick team coming very soon, and rumour has it our ‘Shell might be interviewing me in the near future – and given her wicked sense of humour, she’s suggesting it might have a bit of a twist lol.