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Surfing amongst the flotsam and jetsam of the Internet
Top Ten Websites
Member Name: ladybracknell
Top Ten Websites
Advantages: Some of my favourite websites which definitely doesn't include the horribel Facebook!!
Disadvantages: None as far as I'm concerned.
Whenever I come across reviews in this category I'm always amazed by the number of people who include such obvious wesbites as YouTube, Amazon and Facebook in their lists as practically everyone knows of and visits those sites. The websites I want to know about are the less obvious ones that possibly I've either never heard of or used before.
Most people's choice of favourite sites will be informed by their hobbies and interests and I'm no different but I hope you'll find something on my list which catches your eye or is of interest. I'm always adding and deleting from my list of favourite sites but these ten have remained ever constant over the years. The sites are listed in no particular order so here goes...
1. Fantastic Fiction (www.fantasticfiction.co.uk)
As a confirmed bookaholic it will come as no surprise that I have several book related websites bookmarked and listed in my Favourites and apart from my local library, Fantastic Fiction is one that I visit at least once a week, if not more frequently. It's a first rate resource for anyone with a passion for fiction of whatever genre. The site has a huge database which can be searched by searching for a particular author, Fantastic Fiction details of all their published works and chronauthor, by book title or by ISBN and covers just about every novel ever printed, mostly with brief synopses. When ologies for series. It also provides links to author websites and any pseudonyms under which they may also write.
Another great feature is lists of recently published books and those due for publication within the next few months. These can be sorted in many ways such as by genre, release date, whether hardback or paperback or by author, and has proved very useful in spotting when books by favourite authors are due for release and allows me to steal a march on other readers and get my name down for them at the library ahead of publication! With the rise of Kindle ownership, it's also possible to search for books published in that format, too, and also audio books.
2. Royal Horticultural Society (www.rhs.org.uk)
This is a great resource for all gardeners whether they are professionals or bumbling amateurs like myself. It's another huge site with a searchable plant database which helps gardeners discover the perfect plant for that tricky spot in the garden and details of local nurseries selling that special plant. This is particularly useful if you're searching for a named variety of a plant. The site is updated very regularly and offers general advice on gardening, including a gardener's calendar which shows what jobs you should be doing in the garden, helpful 'how to' videos as well as details of RHS shows with links to the ticket office. In fact, this site has a wealth of useful information on all things horticultural.
3. Rob's Poole Pottery Collection (www.poolepottery.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/)
For me, this site is pure indulgence and won't have much appeal unless, like mysef you love studio art pottery. I have a small, but growing collection of the Delphis range from Poole Pottery. Poole Pottery has been producing beautiful art pottery since the 1920s and although it's all lovely, it's the Delphis ware produced during the 1960s and 70s which I particularly love. I find its garish colours and abstract designs typify the sheer exuberance of that period and whenever I look at my pieces of pottery it brings a smile to my face.
Rob has an exceptionally fine collection which must be worth thousands and this site is one I visit to drool over all the pieces I'd never be able to afford in a month of Sundays (nowadays some pieces go for hundreds of pounds and occasionally thousands depending on the artist). It also has some very useful information on artist's marks, design shapes and numbers as well as some links to other Poole related sites and, very occasionally, Rob sells some off the pieces from his collection.
4. Chiltern Seeds (http://www.chilternseeds.co.uk)
There are a vast number of sites out there selling seeds but Chiltern Seeds must have one of the most comprehensive ranges available, offering over 4,500 varieties of seed, many of them so rare you won't find them on offer anywhere else. Years ago before the dawn of the computer age, I'd get their paper catalogue which came without pictures then but was filled with highly entertaining and descriptive write ups about each plant. Nowadays, I still get their catalogue (which is £2 for the first copy and if you order seeds in that year, comes free from then on) and it's a total pleasure to curl up during the winter months and plan from the catalogue what I'm going to grow in the coming season but when it comes to buying seeds, I tend to purchase online.
The website is easy to navigate, has thumbnail pictures of many of the plants plus a searchable database which allows for filtering by genus, hardiness, lifecycle, colour and flowering month. They have a comprehensive collection of wild flower seeds, too, and also those likely to attract bees (who need all the help they can get at the moment) and other beneficial insects into your garden. Seed availability generally runs at about 96% and this is updated daily.
5. Fragrance Direct (http://www.fragrancedirect.co.uk)
I came across this site whilst looking for a fairly obscure perfume I wanted which I'd been unable to find in any of the high street chemists or local department stores. Fragrance Direct stock a large range of perfumes, colognes and aftershaves including couture house fragrances from both old established fashion houses such Givenchy and Lanvin, as well as the more modern ones, though sadly they don't sell either Chanel or Dior. There are plenty of celebrity perfumes on offer, too, and if you've sniffed out the fragrance you're after, the prices offered on this site are well below those charged in department stores.
It isn't just perfume and aftershave on sale on this website, however, as they also sell a wide choice of cosmetics and body care products from all the usual brands and, again, at reduced prices. They also have a large range of beauty accessories and gifts On top of all that, as befits a site with the word 'fragrance' in its title, they sell scented candles, oils and diffusers from candlemakers Wax Lyrical and Colony, which are every bit as good as Yankee Candles and are British made into the bargain.
Delivery charges are reasonable at £1.99 per order, so it's worthwhile having a good old browse and buying in bulk.
6. Oggi e Domani (http://www.oggi-domani.com/)
My next trip to Italy is going to be a visit to Florence, although I haven't set a date yet as currently all my precious holiday time is taken up with visits to the north of England to sort out family issues. However, when I eventually get to Florence, I'm hoping to have acquired a reasonable command of the language or at least improved my rather pigeon Italian. Oggi e Domani (Today and Tomorrow) is a free interactive website offering Italian lessons which covers all the basic language requirements as well as providing verb tables, pronunciation and an online dictionary. The beauty of online learning is there isn't any need to go through the excruciating role play which always seems to be a part of evening classes.
Even if you don't want to learn Italian, it's a fair bet that with a bit of searching you'll find a website that teaches the language that you want to learn, even if it's Elvish or Klingon!
7. The BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk)
I may be a little biased here as I worked for the BBC in London for several years in my younger days and I can honestly say that it isn't called Aunty Beeb for nothing as it's one of the best employers I've ever worked for. In terms of what it offers the wider public, it is without doubt the best broadcaster in the world, certainly when it comes to news broadcasting. Along with its World Service, the BBC brings honest reporting of events to every corner of the world and provides an incredibly important link from Britain to the rest of the world, especially to all those people living under repressive regimes.
The BBC doesn't only offer one of the most comprehensive news websites, however, but also provides lots of information on what's happening in sport as well as weather forecasting, iPlayer (the catch up service), and there are lots of links to more niche interests such as history, science , music and online learning. They have an excellent online Italian course which I'm using as well as Oggi e Domani. There are other European language courses, too, as well as more obscure languages (to me at any rate) such as Chinese, Estonian and Danish.
8. Delia Online (http://www.deliaonline.com/)
I'm not the world's best cook and frequently run out of ideas for meals and the only recipes that ever seem to work for me as those created by Saint Delia. Her website has a great selection of recipe ideas to choose from including Meals for One, Special Diets and my favourite section, Meals in under 30 minutes! Although many of the main meal recipes are for meat eaters, there are plenty of fish and vegetarian meals which are every bit as appetising as those using meat, and loads of yummy cakes, puddings and desserts. What I like about this site is that Delia Smith isn't precious about food and happily incorporates store cupboard items such as tinned soup into her recipes.
The site is easy to navigate and recipes can be searched in various ways including by ingredient which is very useful if you have, say, a butternut squash you want to use up. There is a menu of the month, details of what foods are in season, how to cook various foodstuffs and an excellent message board with a discussion forum and readers' recipes. Another useful area of the site is dedicated to coupons with the facility to print off various money off coupons to use in the supermarkets.
9. Friends of the Earth (http://www.foe.co.uk)
At the risk of being thought a tree-hugger, which I'm definitely not (and if I could chop down those bl****y trees the Council planted behind my garden wall, I would do it in a heartbeat), I do believe that climate change is happening and that it can be attributed at least in part to the industrialisation of the world. As a consequence, I've been a member of both Greenpeace (a worldwide, non-political environmental organisation - www.greenpeace.org.uk) and Friends of the Earth since the late 1970s and although I don't belong to my local group, largely because it's full of sandal wearing, beanshoot eating people who'd demand I give up my car (did I tell you I wasn't philosophically pure?), I do like to do my bit.
Apart from being informative about environmental issues which many governments would prefer did not seep into the public consciousness, this website has details of their current campaigns, information about environmental issues as well as useful tips on not merely saving the planet but saving energy and yourself some money by using the four Rs: reduce, reuse, repair and recycle. The FOE site also has a fairly active Forum and there are plenty of handy tips and links to be gleaned from here.
10. Scribd (http://www.scribd.com)
I'm not absolutely certain of the legality of this site but as they have a Facebook page and several pages of information about what can be uploaded and copyright issues etc, I'm assuming that all is above-board, which makes this site almost too good to be true.
This is an American website which claims to be the world's largest social reading and publishing company. If you fancy yourself as an author, you can upload your work to scribd for all the world to read or read others' work online. Much of what has been uploaded is only aimed at a small target market but there are excerpts from new novels, recipes, school essays, even CVs to be found on the site.
You can also (and this is the bit I use) download full length novels from just about every genre to read on your computer, some of which are by best-selling writers. The downloads come in either pdf format or html and if you have a 3G Kindle or iPod or the like, you can download them directly to your device. My Kindle isn't a 3G but I've had no problem mailing books to my Kindle once downloaded to my computer.
Obviously, the site operates on a sharing basis and members (it's free to join) are asked to upload documents to scribd. However, it's possible to download a small number of documents without uploading first. Some of the more recent books from well known authors are frequently only available to read on line or for a small fee but there are plenty of others available for free download. This is a huge site with much more potential than I've covered here but it's well worth a visit and if you click on the explore button, you'll be amazed at what's available.
Summary: The ten websites that have been in my favourites list for years
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