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Belfastgirl

Belfastgirl
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Member since: 11.02.2001

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      18.02.2004 16:53
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      Usually, when I go away for a short break, I usually end up staying in Youth Hostels along with my husband. In most places they are just as good as low budget hotels, but not so in London. Last year we went to see Bon Jovi play in Hyde Park and stayed in this absolutely awful Youth Hostel, so when we discussed our latest trip to London, we both agreed that this time we would go with a "hotel". After much searching around online, it seemed that if you wanted to get a decent hotel in London, then you had to be willing to pay BIG money. Until I discovered TripAdvisor.com - they give reports on hotels from around the world, giving you personal experiences of the standards of the accommodation. To cut a long story short, we discovered The Admiral Hotel. After a name search on google, I discovered their website, and thought it looked great. One email to the owner later and we were given the price of £55 per night for a double room with a bathroom. Yay, no more shared toilets! It was simple to book online using a credit card - they take your details, but like most hotels, do not charge you anything on it, unless you fail to turn up. The Admiral hotel is situated on Sussex Gardens, which is just around the corner from Paddington Tube and Rail stations, therefore meaning that it is easy to access, and is great for anyone going there for a short break. The street outside is quite busy, but we did not find it to be too noisy while we were there. The Admiral Hotel is a family run business, and is extremely friendly. From the outside it looks like all the other 19th Century townhouses that are adjacent to it, on the inside it is beautifully kept - so unlike other budget accommodation in London. We were greeted by Glor
      ia, who runs the hotel with her husband Frank. Our room was no. 11, which meant we had to walk up a lot of stairs to get to it - 4 flights, with the last set being particularly steep. There was no lift available - but believe me, this was the only downside of the hotel. The Admiral Hotel offers a variety of rooms, from singles to family rooms for up to 5 people. Our Double room was small, as you would expect, and the double bed was a touch on the small side, but every effort had been made to make the room comfortable - lovely soft carpets, mirrors to make the room look bigger, television, tea and coffee facilities, a direct dial telephone and a toilet and shower. The shower had warm water at all times of the day. I also noticed that there was a ceiling fan, which obviously would be very useful in the hot summer months, and for those visiting in the winter as we did, the heating is on so the rooms are nice an cozy. Everything was very clean and tidy, with someone coming in to clean the room each day. It does make a difference to see this being done, from various reports that I have heard of other London Hotels, it seems that such high standards are something of a rarity in cheaper hotels in London. Breakfast is included in the price of the room, and it is served in the basement of the house, which is just as lovely as the rest of it. You get the choice of either a full English breakfast, or a continental one, this is served by Gloria and another very pleasant girl between 8am and 9am. According to their web site, The Admiral Hotel can only provide parking facilities if you have requested them with your booking - from looking at the outside of the hotel, there never seemed to be much room to park.. I found this to be a lovely place, one that I would recommend to others, and somewhere which I s
      hall certainly return to. When we arrived, the sign said "No vacancies", and I'm not surprised, affordable but clean and comfortable accommodation is difficult to come across in some big cities, never mind the little personal touches that this place has that gives it character. For more information on the Admiral Hotel, their website is: http://www.admiral-hotel.com/index.html Hotel Address: 143 Sussex Gardens, Hyde Park London W2 2RY.

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        17.02.2004 20:40
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        I've always loved musicals and I have loved Queen from I was old enough to know about music. Bohemian Rhapsody was too hard to say, so I used to pull on my older brother's trouser leg and say, put on "momma just killed a man". When I heard that there was going to be a musical made up of Queen Songs I was delighted, two of my favourite things! Recently, my husband and I had a 3 day stay in London, and being the cheap skates that we are, we decided to go to the half price ticket Booth in Leicester Square to see what we could get. We managed to get stall seats for We Will Rock You; with a great view for just over half price (Normal Price for stalls is £40 - we got them for £24). Tickets can be bought online at Ticketmaster and all the usual places that you can get concert tickets. Prices are very steep, but it is a west end show, and therefore reflects the prices of other shows in the area. We Will Rock you is presently situated in the Dominon Theatre, which is just beside Tottenham Court Road Tube station. On the outside, just above the doorways is a huge Statue of Freddy Mercury, microphone in hand. It's pretty impressive, and sets the scene for the evening even before you enter the building. We Will Rock You was written by comedian Ben Elton, with Brian May and Roger Taylor from Queen as Musical Supervisors. It is set in the future, when boy bands and girl bands have taken over, when real music has died and the earth (now called Planet Mall) has become a sort of cloned society - everybody is supposed to think and do the same things. The only music that they are allowed to listen to is computer generated rubbish. No one is allowed to have original thought - if you do, the secret p
        olice come along and brain washes you. The story follows a boy called Galileo (played by Mig Ayesa) who says that song words just pop into his head - usually the lines from Queen Songs. Galileo encounters another cast - out from school, Scaramouche (played by Hannah Jane Fox) who sees him as a bit of a wimp, but is obviously going to be the romantic interest in the play. Galileo meets the Bohemian's (a rebel crowd who have found old newspaper clippings about music from the past), whose leader is a man called Britney Spears. They believe that he will be the one to free them all, based on the legend. The legend states that there are musical instruments buried in some rock (placed there by Queen), and as musical instruments are banned, they set out to try and find them and to save the planet from the nightmare that they currently live in. As always there are villains who try to stop the bohemians from achieving their goal. Throughout, the music is all Queen Songs, very cleverly worked into the story line. On the odd occasion there was a sense of, yeah you just stuck that story line in so that you could put that song in, didn't you? But on the whole it was very good. I am saying that from a musical fan's point of view. From a Queen fan's point of view, I'm not so sure. Queen songs will always be best sung by Freddy, and in my opinion nothing will ever compare to him. You see, I've been having this whole dilemma with myself after seeing it - it was very good, and if you are looking for, I suppose, a tribute to Queen's work, and an example of how it can mean something to everyone, then it is a good idea. There are, however, some people who look upon it as a sort of replacement for Queen, and for me that will never happen. The cast all have brilliant voices, particularly Sharo
        n D. Clarke who played the villain, killer Queen, and the story had some very amusing moments (in particular when they discussed how no one had ever been able to find the instruments that "No instruments of mass destruction had been found"), Ben Elton's humor is apparent throughout the entire performance. My favourite moment however had to be, when the Bohemians paid tribute to all the great musical legends over the years that had died young and in particular Freddy Mercury. The set of the show is absolutely amazing, it is obvious that no expense has been spared on this, and the musicians are absolutely fantastic - guitarists who are able to play Queen Music almost as well as Brian May deserve respect. So, all in all, I would recommend it. It is a quality show, I know that there are Queen Fans out there who think that it is ridiculous that a musical has been made, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion on that. I will look upon it as a great musical, with a fun sort of story line, Queen Music will reach people who had never bothered with it before, and the theatre will appeal to more that it did before. That can only be a good thing. More info can be found: http://www.queenonline.com/wewillrockyou/

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          21.01.2004 02:04
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          When it comes to house work, I am lazy, particularly when it comes to washing clothes. When I first moved into my own house, I just opted for the good old washing powder that my mum uses, as I suppose most people do. After a while, I got fed up with cleaning out the little drawer in the washing machine which was usually full of congealed washing powder. The other problem that I have is that I am a nurse, who has a royal blue uniform with navy trousers, which HAS to be washed every day after work - so you can imagine the wear and tear that was had on it. One day I was in Safeways and saw Persil Liquid Capsules. You just pop them into the washing machine on top of the clothes, shut the door, and that's it - no more yucky sticky powder making mountainous formations in the dispenser drawer! Persil Liquigel Capsules come in boxes of 20 and in boxes of 40. At present the box of 40 is in a re-useable blue plastic container with a screw top lid. The labels are removable so that they can be used to store other things once the capsules are finished. A box of 40 generally costs £5.36.35, and a box of 20 costs £2.68. Details of the product: The Capsules are basically little plastic "bubbles" (roughly 6cm in diameter) that are filled with the washing liquid. Initially they appear to be delicate things, but they are not so delicate that they will burst when you touch them. The plastic that surrounds the actual liquid is dissolvable, and so they should not be touched with wet hands, as this will lead to the plastic breaking down in your hands! There is a slight detergent smell to them, but it is not over powering, and is quite pleasant. There is a large warning sign on the back of the packet, stating that these capsules have been classified as an irritant. This would be because it is a really concentrated solution that is inside the capsules - it may be a small amount, but the contents o f 2 capsules are enough to carry
          out a full load of washing. Consequently, this is strong stuff, and care should be taken with them. How to use them: It's simple. You load up your washing machine as you usually would. (Note to my husband - separate light colours from darks). Place two capsules on top of the load, near the back of the machine, close the door, set it to the correct temperature and off you go. The moment the water hits the capsules, they start to dissolve. If you happen to have a particularly soiled item that you want to wash, it may be advisable to add another capsule. They should not be used on silk, wool or to pre-treat stains. In my opinion, I have found these capsules to be brilliant. They leave my towels feeling soft, and always clean the clothes well. I have yet to have a complaint about them. Persil recommend, that if you have sensitive skin that you should try to minimise contact with the capsules (as you should with any sort of detergent that is likely to irritate your skin). It is important due to the concentration of the solution that you should not pierce the capsules, nor should they be used to hand wash clothes. I have found Persil capsules to be gentler on my clothes. Back to the uniform story again, with ordinary powder, I found that my uniforms faded, after just a year they looked as though I had worn them for 5 years! I got new uniforms a year ago, and since have been washing them with the liquitabs, and they are almost as good as the day they were given to me, brand new. The capsules I have reviewed here are the non-biological ones. Persil also make capsules in biological and in Persil Colour (supposed to help maintain the colour of your clothes), so there is quite a good range for everyone. All in all, I would recommend these, they may be a touch on the expensive side, but they wash things well and are gentler on the clothes. Now all I need is to convince m y husband that it is better
          to put clothes into washing machine instead of leaving them lying on the floor, and life will be perfect (well, almost!)

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          • Dyson DC04SL / Vacuum Cleaner / 1 Reading / 14 Ratings
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            14.01.2004 23:49
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            Two years ago, in February, I began renting this pokey little house outside Belfast, just literally across the road from where I work. To cut a long story short, our landlord would not pay for the carpets to be cleaned, even though they have been in the house from what must be the 1970's. We?d used every vacuum cleaner under the sun to try and make them look any way decent, and nothing worked. That was until we got a Dyson DC04SL Bag less Vacuum Cleaner. I used to think that only posh people had Dyson's, so either I have suddenly become dead posh (unlikely) or they are actually affordable. Our Dyson cost us £129 from Argos. It certainly did the trick with our carpets, they look so much better - I wouldn't say as good as new, because that would take a miracle to do that, but they certainly are a great improvement. There I was, pushing the vacuum back and forth, singing, "I want to break free", with all my might, figuring that I could play the part of Freddy Mercury in the video by Queen, thinking I was the best thing since sliced bread. Well, at least we had clean carpets! When we first got the Vacuum it was easy to set up, as most of it was already built in the box, all we had to do was attach the handle to the tubing and to arrange the extra nozzles into their allocated places. The Dyson DC04SL is a bag less vacuum cleaner, so this means that all the fluff etc. is all caught up into the plastic see-through cylinder. This has both good points and bad. Good in the sense that you can see when the cylinder is full, and can empty it before the suction starts packing up on you. The bad point is that you can see all the dirt and grime; nothing is hidden, and so means that unless you have emptied and washed out the cylinder that anyone who looks at your vacuum can see this. Not a big down-side, but still not exactly a pleasant thing to look at either. The fact that there is this plastic cylinder means that
            you don?t have to go and buy new bags for the vacuum, therefore reducing costs in that way, but you do have to actually empty the cylinder - none of the dust is contained, and so it means that it can be unpleasant for anyone who has allergies to dust when emptying it. As my husband found out to his detriment, the poor thing spent the rest of the day sneezing! This Dyson can hold 4 litres in its cylinder - that's a lot of dust! The Dyson DC04SL is a green and silver/grey upright vacuum cleaner, which can be awkward to lift and to store. It is made of hard durable plastic, which can withstand many bumps - believe me; I've tried and tested that one! I can imagine that some people would have difficulty in taking this upstairs, and it is not the easiest thing to store away in the places where you would normally store a smaller vacuum cleaner. Now, enough with the negative - on with the positive! The Dyson has 3 nozzle attachments, which confused me at first (who ever reads the instruction manual?), I was trying to remove the metal arm from the extension tubing to fit the attachments onto the end of the metal arm, but then figured that there would be no suction, and eventually figured out that it slots onto the plastic handle at the top of the extension tubing. There is a green pushdown area that removes the extension set from the actual vacuum. The attachments consist of a long pointy attachment which is ideal for getting into corners, under radiators, to the side of the stairs, and other hard to reach floor areas. This nozzle is stored on the back of the handle, where there is a special slot for it. There is also a small regular vacuum nozzle, which is perfect for cleaning the stairs, and because of the long extension arm you can reach up to the top of the stairs without actually having to bring the vacuum with you! The third nozzle is a round one with a bristles on the end, I find this great for going around skirting boards, and
            for getting in around the little n ooks in the banister on our stairs. These two nozzles have little places molded into the plastic on top of the cylinder for them to sit in. The power cord is extremely long, and winds up at the back of the vacuum in a neat fashion for when the appliance is not in use. Now, I suppose I should mention some technical stuff. This Dyson has a dual cyclone technology, and that always makes me think that its like something out of the wizard of Oz, from what I understand if it basically means that the dirt spins up inside the vacuum using the cyclone, and this filters out into the cylinder, leaving the air clean. It is amazing the power that the Dyson has to extract dust that has been buried down in carpets for goodness knows how long, and it is great in the sense that it is approved to help minimize allergies - so this is a great buy for anyone who has a family member with asthma or dust allergies (as long, of course that they are not the one that is going to be emptying the cylinder). All in all, this is a great vacuum; it does much better than any of the other vacuum cleaners that I have ever tried. I'd recommend it to anyone, but a word of warning. No matter how clean you thought your carpet was before using this, you will be dismayed at what has not been picked up by previous vacuum cleaners. Dyson also have a 2 year guarantee on this product. This ranks right up there with the best.

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              13.01.2004 04:05
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              *Please note that there may be Buffy the Vampire Slayer Spoilers in this Review* About this time last year, I was introduced to the whole Buffy the Vampire Slayer scene. Call me behind the times if you want, but it's a bit difficult to get to watch a programme that is on BBC2 at 6.45pm when you work shifts! The episode that converted me was the one in which this album is the soundtrack to, Once More With Feeling. The following day I was HMV and saw the soundtrack sitting on the shelf, but it was £15.00. I thought it was a bit expensive at the time, so I decided to leave it until pay day - and wouldn't you know, when I went to buy it, they had none left (The story of my life!). Anyway, to cut a long story short, I was visiting my sister in law in the states and the local K-Mart was closing down, so we went in for a nosey, and there it was sitting there on a shelf, for $9! This explains why I have the American version of the CD. So what makes this episode deserving of a whole CD to itself, I hear you ask? well this is the musical episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. At the end of Season 5, we saw Buffy plunge to her death, now Buffy is back, having been brought back to life by her friends, who though that she was in some hellish dimension, when in fact she was in heaven. Buffy has not told her friends this, but has confided in Spike, a vampire. In this episode, a dancing demon is summoned, which makes everyone in Sunnydale (the town where Buffy lives) start acting as though they are in a Broadway musical, living out their daily lives in song and dance. It is a really funny episode, and yet remarkable in that it shows the real talent that quite a few of the actors have. The tracks are all written by Joss Whedon, the creator of the Buffy Series. The music is arranged and produced by Christophe Beck, who writes most of the scores for Buffy The Vampire Slayer. This man is an absolute genius, and deserves to have his musical pieces
              more widely known than they are. As well as music from Once More with Feeling, there are also snippets from tracks on other Buffy episodes (The backing music to the major events). Track 1: Overture/ Going through the motions. This song is sung by Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy) and is the opening to the musical. In typical musical style it is a grand opening and sets the scene for the rest of the episode, it is bouncy and friendly, almost brady bunch like. It is about Buffy out patrolling, and about how she is different since what happened to her in Season 5, in that she's just *going through the motions*. Track 2: I've got a Theory/ Bunnies/ If We're together. This is the track where Buffy and her friends discuss what it is that is causing them to sing in this way - perhaps they are "stuck in some kid's wacky broadway nightmare" ? this is one of Alyson Hannigan's (Willow) few lines in the whole album, or as Anya (played by Emma Caulfield) says, maybe i's bunnies (something Anya greatly fears). It culminates with them deciding that they can fight whatever this is, as long as they are all together. Track 3: The Mustard A small snippet to prove that the rest of sunnydale is feeling the effects of the demon. Track 4: Under your spell. Tara (played by Amber Benson) sings to Willow, about how she is a changed person since they met. Amber has a great voice, it's a very beautiful song. Track 5: I'll Never Tell This song is by Anya and Xander (Nicholas Brendon), it is a comical number. This couple who are engaged, discuss how they love each other. Except for, a whole list of amusing things that they will never tell - including references to previous episodes. Track 6: The Parking Ticket Another filler snippet of a woman who is trying to sing her way out of getting a parking ticket. Track 7: Rest In Peace James Marsters (who play
              s Spike - a vampire, turned good), sings this one to Buffy. Its about how Buffy doesn't want to be with him because she is scared of what everyone will think, and that he's fed up with her games - and let him rest in peace. It's a fully rocked up number, just what you would expect from Spike. Track 8: Dawn's Lament A short track about how Dawn ( played by Michelle Trachtenberg) feels left out. As Buffy's little sister she frequently feels this way. Track 9: Dawn's Ballet Basically a musical interlude. Track 10: What You feel Dawn meets the Demon, who is called Sweet (played by Hinton Battle), who explains that because she is wearing his charm that she has to marry him (he believes she summoned) Dawn sings and explains why she can't marry him (shes too young, her sister is the slayer). Track 11: Standing This song is wonderful. Anthony Head Stewart who plays Giles (Buffy's watcher and father figure), sings of how he feels he is holding Buffy back from being something better than she is and how he wishes that he could make her life easier - and slay her demons. Track 12: Under Your Spell/ Standing - Reprise As the title suggests, this is a combination of under your spell and standing, as both Giles and Tara debate their problems - Giles how he is not sure where he stands in Buffy's life, and Tara about how she can no longer trust Willow. Track 13: Walk through the Fire Buffy sings of how she feels since her friends brought her back - how she has no real feelings anymore, and how she feels her friends of them do not understand her anymore. Sarah Michelle Gellar has a decent voice. Spike is also featured in this song, about how he is free if Buffy dies. The song culminates in all Buffy's friends deciding that they have got to go and help her. Track 14: Something to Sing About. This song is very typical of Musicals. Buffy sings that s
              he doesn't need songs, what she really needs is something to sing about. Her friends find out the truth about how she feels now and how she thinks she was in Heaven. This song is the show stopper. Track 15: What you Feel - Reprise Sweet makes his exit, realizing that it wasn?t Dawn that had summoned him. Track 16: Where do we go from Here? The *big group sing* the finale piece, in which the gang discuss how the events of the episode have affected their relationships with each other - people said things that they wouldn't normally say. It is a typical finale song. Track 17: Coda Buffy and Spike sing, it's a combination of lyrics from Walk through the Fire and Rest In Peace. It's a nice ending to the episode. Track 18: End Credits (Broom dance / Grr Arrgh) This is the closing title track, again an upbeat, bouncy sort of Brady Bunch type tune. Track 19: Main Title This is another Brady Bunch type musical introduction, basically the usual Buffy Main title (originally composed by Nerf Herder) with the pace changed and dispelling with the usual electric guitars. Track 20: Suit From "Restless" Composed by Christophe Beck, this episode was about delving into the dreams of each of Buffy's friends. I wasn't particularly interested in this episode, but it is nice to have the music from it on this CD. Track 21: Suite from "Hush" Hush is an episode from the 4th Season of Buffy, in which all the people of Sunnydale have their voices stolen by the "gentlemen" - fairytale characters who then go around removing hearts from their victims. They can only be killed by a real human voice. This episode was all silent - no voices at all, so the music played a really important role. This is entirely composed by Christophe Beck. Track 22: Sacrifice (From "The Gift") This is music to Season 5's finale - its an
              emotional episode, which I don't want to spoil for anyone who wants to, but hasn't already seen it. Again this was composed by Christophe Beck. Track 23: Something to Sing about (Demo) Joss Whedon's wife sings the demo for the musical, before it was actually decided to make the musical. Its ok, not how I would choose to end the album, but it is understandable why it is there Let's face it. This album is really only for fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. As a fan, I absolutely love it. People who are not fans would probably find it strange/boring/sad. I find it brilliant that they could get away with making a musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, that actually had some credibility and that didn't come off looking really stupid. As a BtVS fan, I give it 10/10. Lets face it - the fans are who the album is for.

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                12.01.2004 20:47
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                Following three successful tours in the last four years, with the most recent being the Bounce tour, Bon Jovi have finally decided to release their "acoustic" album. After teasing many fans during the last tour by announcing that certain concerts would be acoustic, and the disappointment that some British fans felt at not being the lucky ones to have an acoustic gig played on their home turf, I thought that this album would make up for missing out on the acoustic concerts. Bon Jovi have been my favourite band since I was 10, and I have always loved hearing their songs done in acoustic style, prior to this album we had to make do with snippets that were downloaded from the net, as there was very few Bon Jovi acoustic songs available to buy. This Left Feels Right, is described as "greatest hits, with a twist" and that is certainly what it is. Fans were treated to sections of the songs days before the album was released - I managed to avoid them, wanted to hear the songs in their entirety before deciding if I liked them or not. I suppose I was expecting a different type of album from the one we got. I was expecting a stereotypical acoustic - unplugged type of album, instead we got a version where the songs were totally broken down, right back down to the basics and then built up again, slowed down and put to a different beat. It is strange for a die hard fan to hear the songs that you have known and loved for years changed in this way- If I am honest, some of them I love, and some I absolutely hate. I think it's best described in this way - Easy Listening Bon Jovi. To me, Bon Jovi should never be easy listening. Let me tell you a little more about the actual album: The version that I have is the Limited edition one that came with a bonus DVD. On the front cover there is a man sitting on a suitcase with Bon Jovi written on it in all styles that have been used on Bon Jovi albums over the years. The b
                ack shows a picture of t he band sitting in a grassy area at Sanctuary II (Jon Bon Jovi's recording studio). Track 1: Wanted Dead or Alive. Usually this song is a real show stopper at concerts, a real cowboy song. This version of dead or alive has the same basic backing beat as the original, but has Jon's voice sounding somewhat synthesized. You can hear the whole band singing in the chorus, again sounding synthesized - it just sounds like they stuck all their voices onto a computer and fiddled around a bit and came up with this. It is not up there with the best. Track 2: Livin' On A Prayer featuring Olivia d'Abo. Even if you're not a Bon Jovi fan, you know this song. The story of the song is about a couple called Tommy and Gina, who are just getting by in life - livin' on a prayer. The original is very upbeat and positive. This version contains Olivia d'Abo's vocals, which give the song a whole different feel. D'Abo's voice gives the song a vulnerable sound to it - as if Gina is actually singing the words. The track sounds totally different from the original, and I really quite like it! Track 3: Bad Medicine. This is yet another Bon Jovi song that should never have been slowed down. Quite frankly it bores me. I do have a giggle at the changes of the lyrics that have been made to make it fit with the new backing music. Again, the music sounds nothing like the original. Obviously Richie Sambora has played a huge part in this track; there is a lot of guitar involvement. Track 4: It's my Life. I thought I would hate it, but I love it. Its My Life is probably the best known Bon Jovi song that has been released over the last few years. Usually an extremely upbeat song, this is slowed way down and it is a brilliant piece. It's My life is turned into a beautiful ballad. Track 5: Lay Your Hands on Me. This track sounds good. It hasn't been slowed dow
                n as much as the others have, and that is probably what makes it stand out from some of the others. Track 6: You Give Love A Bad Name. This track has got a whole different sound , I suppose it could be described as a bit of rhythm and blues. This is usually a massive anthem type song, but it is somewhat unremarkable in this form. Track 7: Bed of Roses Bed of Roses was always a beautiful ballad, and it remains so on this track. It is not changed too much, in that Jon sings it in a very similar style as the original. I really like this. In recent concerts it has been felt that Jon has had difficulty in reaching the high notes, well this version does away with the higher notes that were always contained within this song. Track 8: Everyday This is an interesting version of Everyday. I was never all that keen on the original, but this song has maintained a real Bon Jovi feel to it. Track 9: Born to be my Baby Born to be my baby has to be one of my all time favourite Bon Jovi songs. I love the upbeat nature of the entire song in its original form. After hearing all of the previous songs, I was convinced that I would hate this version. I was very very pleasantly surprised. They have transformed this into a beautiful ballad, and I would have to say that this is my favourite of all the re-working. Track 10: Keep the Faith This is a really listenable track, especially if you want to relax. Its totally different from the original. Track 11: I'll be there for you I'll be there for you has turned into a very relaxing song, when I listen to it, I could very easily fall asleep - Bon Jovi have turned into music to fall asleep to! Track 12: Always How could someone change the popular ballad, Always and get away with it? It's actually ok. What it lacks though, is the feeling that made the original so good. I think that's it, I've put my finger on it. This entire album lack
                s the passion that all Bon Jovi songs have that make them such popular songs. BONUS TRACKS: The Distance Joey The Bonus tracks were exactly what I had expected of the entire album, pure acoustic, unplugged Bon Jovi. They are brilliant pieces. The bonus DVD contains footage taken from the AOL sessions that were recorded on 3rd Dec. 2002. It includes: Love for Sale Someday I'll be Saturday Night Joey Misunderstood Diamond Ring Blood on Blood Again, these tracks are exactly what I had expected from the album, so it made buying the album worth while. There are no menus on the DVD, it plays the whole way through from start to finish and then restarts from the beginning again. It was obviously an afterthought - an afterthought that makes the entire album worth buying. While I am one of the biggest Bon Jovi Fan?s out (OK- don't laugh too hard), I will admit when they do not come up to scratch, and this is one of those occasions. The only thing that saves this CD is the DVD and the bonus tracks. Without them it wouldn't be worth buying. This album will be embraced by fans, but it is not one that someone who is not a fan will go out of their way to buy. The music from this album was played live Borgatta (USA) just before Christmas on 2 nights for a DVD recording. The band have said that it will be the only time that these tracks are played live. Thank Goodness. I love Bon Jovi, but I love them the way they are, the way their songs were originally wrote. *I've given this an overall rating of 4 stars - mainly due to the excellence of the DVD*

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                • Signal Toothpaste / Oral Care / 2 Readings / 30 Ratings
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                  20.01.2002 00:19
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                  From the first tooth that I grew, like all mothers, my mother made sure that I cleaned my teeth well. For this twice daily task (in the morning after breakfast, and at night time just before I said my prayers) my mum always insisted that we use Signal toothpaste. I was always jealous of other kids who's mums bought Colgate minty gel, cause in my opinion it tasted nicer. I only know this, however, because in Primary 2 our old bat of a teacher insisted that we clean our teeth at lunch time as well. So in an effort to liven up this mundane task we used to swap toothpaste, cause swapping toothbrushes was just too gross a thing to consider, even at the age of 7! To this day, my mother insists on buying Signal toothpaste, and I have always thought that it was because she felt that it provided the best protection for our teeth. How wrong could I be? The other day I asked her why she always bought this brand, and she said "Because it's red and white!". Now, I'm used to my mother making such statements without developing further, so I wasn't particularly surprised. Finally I managed to get her to develop further - red and white is Man United's colours, and Michael (my oldest brother) is one of their most devoted fans. So there you go. Man United is responsible for me having cleaned my teeth for about 21 years with Signal toothpaste. I'm sure if they knew this that Signal would have to be paying them royalties or something. Even though my brother has lived on the other side of the world for the last 6 years, my mum still insists on buying Signal. Show's who was favourite in our house. Anyway, enough of my little stories, on to tell you about this toothpaste. Signal toothpaste comes in tubes and in dispensers (though saying that, I haven't seen that many dispensers in recent years) - the one we use contains 50mls of toothpaste. It is produced by Elida Faberge. The packaging is coloured
                  in red, white and blue, which seems to be a pretty popular colour scheme for toothpaste! The actual paste is white with little red stripes down it, hence the reason my mum buys it, and has a minty taste to it. The packaging claims that it provided family protection, which we can only assume means that it can be used by everyone, regardless of their age. They do recommend that for children under the age of 7 that a small, pea sized amount should be used along with supervised brushing to help prevent swallowing too much toothpaste. They also suggest that if you are using fluoride supplements that you should contact your doctor before using this product (this is because Signal already contains Sodium Fluoride). They say that it protects against decay, and that along with regular check ups with the dentist, Signal should keep your family's teeth protected. The packaging also claims that it strengthens tooth enamel and that it is clinically tested. The British Dental Health Foundation's symbol is placed on the back of the tube and they have recognised Signal as being "a useful aid in dental health care". Unlike some toothpaste's, Signal does not claim to protect your gums too, and in a day and age where we are all aware of gum disease, I think that it is important to have a toothpaste that will also protect your gums. It is also important to rinse your mouth out with water after using toothpaste, as we found out when my younger brother's teeth started to go yellowish. The dentist told us that if you don't rinse your mouth with water, that the toothpaste can corrode your teeth! Scarey thought! I have mixed views on signal toothpaste, on one side I can see that none of the kids in our family have any fillings and we all have been using this toothpaste for years, and on the other side, Signal fails to provide the gum protection necessary, so I'm afraid I'm going to have to gi
                  ve "old faithful" a 3 stars, for average.

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                  • More +
                    27.11.2001 00:12
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                    That’s my nickname for this magic place in Australia. When I arrived in Australia I managed to meet up with a friend that I had met online and chatted with for 3 years. We travelled around a bit together, and then finished off in Coff’s - where his girlfriend lives. This was the first time that I was on my own in this big strange country, but the people in Coff’s didn’t give me any time to feel lonely or sorry for myself - they were so friendly and helpful that it just felt like home - in fact all that was missing was my family and my boyfriend! Coff’s Harbour is situated on the east coast of Australia, half way between Sydney and Brisbane, and just a few hours drive form the Gold Coast and the famous Surfer’s (yuck) Paradise. In Coffee, I stayed in a backpackers hostel which was run by Nomads, called Barracuda Backpackers. On arrival, I met Sam, who proved to be the life and soul of the party, who had come to Coff’s 2 years ago, just passing through, and never left! There’s two kind of people, those who hate Coff’s and want to leave as soon as they arrive, and those who love it, and never want to leave. I’m in the second category. I was to stay 2 nights and ended up staying there for a week. So what is it about Coff’s that makes it so special. Well, I’ve already mentioned the friendly people there, so it’s onto the scenery. The main beach in Coff’s is extremely long, and takes roughly 1.5 hours to walk along from one end to the other. On one side is the headland, and the other side is Mutton bird Island, where the rare Mutton bird nest each year, in burrows in the ground. There is a walk along mutton bird island, which allows you to walk right to the end, and if you are there during the whale season, you may be lucky enough to see some Whales from the tip of Mutton Bird Island. If you make this trip at about 12 midday, you’
                    ;ll probably meet Ray there, a retired teacher, who makes the walk along the beach, over the jetty to Mutton Bird every day. Ray is always on the look out for tourists that he can befriend, and is keen to make every visitor to Coff’s very welcome. On the other end of the beach, there is the headland, which is a good hill walk, over to the next beach. This beach tends to be a bit quieter than the main beach (that said, the main beach is never that busy, you’d be lucky if you seen about 20 people on it!). The thing that made me laugh about Australia, is their fascination with "big things" - In the whole time that I was in Oz, I saw a Big sheep, a big pineapple, a big Ned Kelly, a big shrimp and Coff’s Harbour’s addition to this was, wait for it, a big…….. Banana! He he, well I met up with my friend and his girlfriend, and I somewhat reluctantly (after finding the other "big things" too exciting *note the sarcasm*) went along with them to see this big banana. They seemed to find it really fascinating. Personally, it was just a big banana made out of what might as well be paper mache! Well it wasn’t my thing, but it interests some people, so each to their own is what I say! There is also a big plaza which is the biggest shopping mall in the area, and it is pretty decent for clothes shopping and for food. Shopping is also available down by the jetty and up in the main part of town. Everyday, the sun shone, and Coff’s was just beautiful. It’s hard to explain, but I truly felt at home there. For those interested in learning to Dive, Coff’s is one of the cheapest places on the coast to learn to Dive, with the 4 day PADI course costing only $165 and for another $60 you get accommodation in the hostel! A perfect place to stop off before continuing up to the Great Barrier Reef! You can also learn to surf, do horse riding, sky diving and s
                    o many other activities. For those people that like walking, Dorrigo is only an hours drive away, which is home to a large area of Rainforest, and although I never managed to go there myself, is supposed to be brilliant. The night life in Coff’s harbour is typically Australian - very laid back. One of the Youth Hostels in the area, "Hoey Moey’s" also has a pub where many backpackers and studenty types meet up. They have a pool competition every Monday, where the winner gets $100, the person who comes 2nd gets $50, and one of the loser, who’s name is pulled out of a hat, wins a whole crate of beer! On the night we went, each prize was won by someone in the hostel! Coff’s Harbour Hotel has an Irish pub which is very popular in the town, I never went there myself, as I said, if I wanted to go to an Irish Pub, I’d have just stayed at home! They have various activities every night of the week. In all, I loved Coff’s, it’s somewhere that I can truly see myself going back to, and if the opportunity ever arose, I may just consider living there for a while - who can beat it, a place where you can surf in the morning, go to work in the afternoon, and then go out for a drink(optional) and a bit of a laugh at night!

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                      22.11.2001 00:06
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                      Fraser Island was to be my last stop while in Australia, before going back to Brisbane for my flight. What a way to end a spectacular backpacking trip, with a visit to one of the most beautiful places on this earth. As I travelled up along the east coast of Australia, people everywhere, were recommending Fraser Island to me, saying how good it was - so of course, once a number of people recommend it, curiosity gets the better of you So off I set, after Brisbane, to Hervey Bay - the stop off point for Fraser Island. There are two ways to see Fraser Island - by 4 WD as a group, or on the 4WD bus tours, which have an experienced guide. I’ve heard that there are great benefits of going with the 4WD group, where you go camping, and see the island at your own leisure, but as I was travelling alone, and couldn’t drive! I decided to go on the bus tour adventure safari (the chicken tour as one girl I met described it!). There are a number of bus companies that run tours to Fraser Island, but the one that I went with was Fraser Venture tours, and for a 2 day safari for me it was $170 (roughly £60) and that included all meals, pick up form your accommodation, and 1 nights accommodation on the island in a quad room. Twin rooms are available, but this obviously costs more. 3 day trip are also available, these are more expensive, but obviously you get to see more of the island. While I was waiting on the bus picking me up from the Youth Hostel that I was staying at, I was fortunate enough to meet a Scottish guy who was also travelling alone and going on the same tour as me. That’s one thing about Australia - you’re never stuck on your own for any length of time! The bus drove us to a place called River Heads, where we got a ferry across to the island. Fraser Island is the biggest sand island in the world, and it is definitely a sight to see. It is one of only 2 places in the wor
                      ld where there is rainforest that grows in Sand, and the whole area has no rock at all. The first part of our tour was spent walking through the rainforest. The guide that we had was very knowledgeable about the vegetation and about the whole island. It was absolutely fascinating. During this trek, we walked alongside the Wanggoolba creek, which has water so pure that you would not even know that it was there, and it runs so silently. We then went to our resort for lunch and to leave in our bags. We stayed at the Eurong Beach resort, which was clean, and the staff were very friendly and helpful. Next we travelled along the main beach to Lake Wabby, which is surrounded by green trees and makes the water looks a lovely shade of green. It is possible to swim in all the lakes on Fraser island, but caution needs to be exercised at lake Wabby as it tends to get extremely deep in places. It was then time for tea back at the resort, and a night of fun and Kareoke alongside the Scottish and dutch guys that I had met there! The next morning we went to Eli Creek which is the largest creek on the eastern shore of the island - good just to lie back and relax and let the water just drift you along… Then we had the chance to go for a flight over the island - at $45 per person, it was well worth it for the amazing photographs that we got of the Whales, Dolphins and Sharks as we flew over the sea, and then of the various parts of the island that we had seem the day before or that we were going to see later on in the day. This was definitely the highlight of my trip, great views, great laugh. When we landed, 20 minutes later, we had arrived at the Maheno ship wreck. This was a one time luxury liner which was blown ashore by a cyclone in 1935. The remains of it are still very prominent today, but this wasn’t too exciting, just a big lump of junk on a beach to be honest. Afterwards we
                      went to the Cathedrals. This was amazing, in front of us, it looked like huge rocks that were various colours, when in fact it was actually sand pyramids. They are called the rainbow beaches by some, due to the vast amounts of different coloured sand. One aboriginal legend tells the story of a young maiden who was due to be married to a warrior, but instead fell in love with a young man called Rainbow. When the warrior found out about this, he was so mad that he challenged Rainbow to a dual. The warrior had a powerful magic boomerang, that he threw at rainbow, shattering him into a million pieces, and it is Rainbow that we see in the sands at the Cathedrals. This is a special place for many aboriginal women. Then it was back to the Resort for lunch and our bags. Lake Mackenzie was out final stop on the tour - with pure white sands and clear water, it is a stunning sight. The sand is so pure that you can clean your jewellery in the sand at the waters edge (If I’d listened in A-Level chemistry, I might be able to explain this, but flirting with the guy beside me was much more important at the time, you understand). Lake Mackenzie was another highlight of the trip. Fraser Island is a magical place, but it is also a place where caution needs to be exercised. Because the Dingoes that live on Fraser Island are so pure, they are a big tourist attraction. Unfortunately this means that people are tending to feed the Dingoes and to tease them. The Dingoes on Fraser island are not like household dogs, and unfortunately they have already killed one young child earlier this year. It is important not to feed these animals or do anything to attract their attention. But if you do end up with Dingoes around you, it is also important not to run - they will think you are playing with them, and they will run after you. You should walk calmly away from them, always facing them, trying not to panic. It is a shame that many people do not pay
                      attention to the many signs around Fraser Island, and as a result many of the Dingoes have been culled. There are now only 200 or so Dingoes left on the island. These Dingoes are unique, they are important. Another Thing about Fraser Island where caution should be exercised is beside the sea. You should never swim in the sea off Fraser Island. There are strong undercurrents and sharks in the water. But don’t let these things put you off! Fraser Island is gorgeous. I think that everyone should have the opportunity to see the beautiful things that Fraser Island has to offer, and would highly recommend it to anyone who is going to Australia. If anyone is going to Australia and wants any further details on this, please do not hesitate to contact me, and I’ll try and help you out! Fraser Venture Tours: www.fraser-is.com Freecall (in Australia) 1800 249 122

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                      • Other Lip Balms / Archive Lifestyle / 0 Readings / 35 Ratings
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                        15.11.2001 01:04
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                        Before I went to Australia, I was pretty excited about going - so much so, that every time I went out I always came back with some little bits and pieces that I could take away with me - half of the stuff I never needed at all, and some of it I didn’t even take away with me. There was one thing though, that I bought on one of these shopping excursions that was something that I didn’t think I would need, but turned out to be absolutely essential. As I was browsing through the sun screen in Boots, Nivea Lip Care seemed to jump out at me, and at the time it was only 99p, so into the basket it went, and I thought nothing more about it until I was packing my bag and I slipped it into my handbag. I was in Australia to enjoy myself, and previous experiences in warm countries has taught me that getting sun burnt is not fun, so I was being extremely cautious with always putting on sunscreen and protecting myself from the sun. Nivea’s Lip care "sun" comes in a little yellow lipstick tube, and has protection from UV rays. Like most of these lip - sticks, it has a sun protection factor and I was impressed at how high this one was - SPF 25. It has a pleasant smell to it - vanilla, and has no real taste if you happen to lick your lips while wearing it. Because of it’s small size it can fit easily into your pocket or handbag. So why would you need to wear this? Well personally, I found that the sun tended to "dry out" my lips, and so using this added moisture to them, and protected them from losing any further water. As a side note, I found that this was also particularly useful while on the plane - the atmosphere in the plane tends to dry out your skin, and so using this lip balm helped keep my lips feeling moisturised. Another good reason for wearing sun protection is that for some people who have contracted the Herpes virus, being in the sun triggers off a reaction th
                        at causes them to have sores on their lips or on other parts of their face. These can be extremely painful and can spoil holidays. On my last day in Sydney, I decided to go on one of the boat rides in the harbour and I didn’t realise how long it would be. I had forgot to bring extra sun screen with me, and as the best place to view all the sights was to sit out on the deck I could feel the sun getting hotter and hotter. The thought of getting burnt makes me feel totally miserable, but then I realised that I had this little stick in my bag - and thought - what the heck, it’s better than getting burnt, and it worked! I just used it as sun screen for my face! Though I would not recommend that anyone do this on a regular basis, it did the job in an emergency. I was well impressed by this product, it only takes a little drop each time, so the lip balm lasts ages, and I would recommend it to anyone who is travelling to a hot sunny country.

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                        • Singapore Airlines / Airline / 0 Readings / 26 Ratings
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                          13.11.2001 02:10
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                          Absolutely 1st class pretty much sums up this hotel in the air service. Recently I travelled to Australia, and coming from Northern Ireland this meant that I had to travel to Heathrow first, before getting my connecting flight. So I was obviously looking for the cheapest option, and to my great surprise Singapore Airlines fitted the bill (literally). I was previously not going to include the price because of me travelling from Dublin to London on another airline, but I have been asked to include it, so I will! In total, a return flight from Dublin to Sydney was £701! That's stopping off in Heathrow and in Singapore. To say I was pleasantly surprised with this was an understatement considering that on Aer Lingus it usually costs about £100 return flight to Heathrow! I had always heard good things about Singapore Airlines, so I was not too worried about flying with them. Then September 11th happened, and not surprisingly, I was worried that first of all my plane would not fly out (on the 15th September) and then that the delays would be phenomenal. By the time I arrived in Heathrow, collected my bags (because at this stage Heathrow were refusing to book bags through to their final destination) and arrived at the next check in desk I was a little annoyed and worried about missing my flight. The staff there were wonderfully helpful and understanding. At this stage Heathrow was a bit mad, going hectic, people missing connections left right and centre and I feel that the Singapore Airlines crew dealt with the whole situation very professionally. Big thumbs up on that score - their ground staff are amazing. In all, I was really impressed by the whole flight. When you sit down in the plane you are given a hot towel to freshen up, and there is already a pillow and blanket placed on your seat. Next headphones are passed around - all Dolby surround sound, and best of all - free! I’ll talk a little more about the ente
                          rtainment later on. On long haul flights over 7 hours, everyone is given a little pack including a toothbrush with toothpaste and a pair of socks. Anyone that has young children or special flying needs is spoken to before the flight takes off, and everything is done to ensure that it is a comfortable and pleasant flight for all. The emergency procedures are explained using a video, and I felt this was better than the old method, as everyone was able to see. Each passenger, at the beginning of the flight is given a menu, detailing the choices of meals for the flight. I was really impressed by this, other flights I had been on before gave you two options on the food - take it or leave it! Most of the meals I had were lovely, though one breakfast consisted of noodles, which didn’t exactly thrill me! But remember this is an Asian company and they are doing things the Asian way. Everything on Singapore airlines is free, no paying for drinks or anything - once you get on the plane there is no need for your purse or wallet unless you want to buy from their substantial range of duty free. The staff are really great, nothing is too much trouble and they seem to know when to leave you alone and when to speak to you. They keep the plane in great condition throughout the flight. The toilets are always immaculately clean and well stocked up with various toiletries - everything from sanitary towels to mouth wash. It’s little touches like this that makes Singapore Airlines the great airlines that they are - and this is all in Economy class! Now onto the in flight entertainment. Each seat has it’s own little TV screen, and there is three choices of entertainment - audio, video and interactive. There are 19 audio channels, with music and short stories that suits all types of people. These are played constantly throughout the flight. Next there are 10 video channels showing 9 up to date movies and
                          1 classic movie. The next 3 channels are Asian movies, but these have subtitles in English if you are interested. There is also a kids channel, a discovery type channel, a comedy zone and various other channels which suit various tastes. The last channel is the flight indicator channel which shows a little map of where the plane is at that point in time, the local time over the place that you are flying, the time in the place you have left and the time in the place that you are going to. It also tells you various little facts that you might like to know about temperature outside etc. The interactive station involves computer games. There is a wide selection of Nintendo games, PC games and brain teasers which are great for kids and those adults who never really grew up. To control the entertainment, there is a little handset that is built into the seat, and that can be pulled out, reversed and used as a phone which is paid for using credit cards. This brings me onto the design of the seats. The seat backs all have head rests which make it more comfortable, and every seat has a foot rest. I found the seats to be very comfortable (well as far as possible!) and that there was a lot more leg room than in other planes. In all, I was extremely impressed with Singapore Airline, and I would go as far to say that I never intend to fly again with any other company.

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                            24.10.2001 11:49
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                            • Impersonal

                            5 weeks ago, I embarked on an adventure of a lifetime, and now that adventure is sadly coming to a close, I have decided to write about my time in Australia, until you are sick of it! When I arrived in Sydney, I was met by a friend that I had talked to online for about 3 years, and we got on really well, but that's not what this opinion is about, so I'll move swiftly on. Sydney is a BIG city, and as with all big Cities, accommodation doesn't tend to come cheap, so I was pretty worried about how much it was going to cost me. As I was intending to back pack along the east coast of Australia (well as much as you can in 4 weeks), I decided that staying in Youth Hostels was the best way to go. After much searching online and consultation with the student travel office, I came upon Hotel Bakpak in Sydney. This is a chain of youth hostels, which are quite popular, and as I was traveling alone I decided for the big cities that I wanted a single room. Hotel Bakpak CB is situated right in the heart of Sydney, on Pitt Street, a brilliant place to do lots of shopping. It's close to the harbour and to all the main sights in Sydney. From the outside, it looks really grotty, and all I could do was groan, "What kind of place have I booked!?". I immediately cut down my stay from 6 nights to 4 and the girl at reception was really helpful about this. For the single room, the cost was $45 per night. At this stage I didn't think that was so bad, but as I traveled further around Australia, I began to realize how ridiculously expensive this actually was. When I asked about staying in a dorm room, I was told that I could only stay in a dorm if I was with a group of people - this is totally different from other youth hostels where you can be put in a dorm room with any old Tom, Dick or Harry - you don't have to know them. The web site boasts about how there are friendly get togethers and t
                            hat there is this wonderful atmosphere amongst backpackers, well from this experience I didn't think that backpackers were that friendly a bunch. Thankfully in other places this didn't prove to be the case! So what did I get for my $45? Well, not very much if the truth be told. In some Youth Hostels that cost a little more, there will usually be some form of breakfast included in the price - not here. All I got for my money was an extremely tiny room, that was badly lit. It contained one bed, with sheets that didn't look very clean (so I used my sleeping bag), a musty smelling wardrobe where you would never dream of putting clean clothes and a small bedside table. I was really not impressed. The lack of a fridge and a wash hand basin in each room was duly noted - these are standard features in many youth hostels. Because it was so central, the hostel was situated on a busy road. No one in Sydney seems to sleep, and so there's lot's of traffic, which means that residents of this hostel can't sleep either. On 3 occasions I was woken by a pneumatic drill at 4am. Whatever possesses people to be up at 4am, never mind using a pneumatic drill, is completely beyond me. The bathrooms are shared in Hotel Bakpak, and each floor has separate male and female bathrooms, each with 3 toilets and 4 showers. The cleanliness varied from day to day, but overall they weren't too bad considering the number of people that were using them. Each shower was self contained and had it's own separate changing area, allowing a lot of privacy. The hostel has a TV room and a kitchen. I never used the TV room, because it's also a walk through area for people who are staying on the far side of hotel. The kitchen was clean, but there was a severe lack of storage space for food, and no one wants to leave it sitting around incase someone else pinches it! I may seem as though I am being really picky, after all I g
                            ot reasonably priced accommodation in a big city, but when compared to the other youth hostels that I have been in, Hotel bakpak gets a big thumbs down. You would have thought that being in a city and paying so much that you would get the best of everything. Sadly Hotel Bakpak is somewhere that I would never go again. It has so much potential, it is ideally situated, but as with most things is big cities it lacks the personal touches of a smaller hostel and it seemed that some of the staff were of the attitude, "sure they are only backpackers" - yes, so we are living on a tight budget but that doesn't mean that the facilities should be appalling! There are many other Youth Hostels in Sydney, I'd suggest that you give them a go first before trying this place!

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                              29.08.2001 01:46
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                              • "Makes feeding times unpleasant"

                              Gastro-oesophageal Reflux - bit of a tongue twister that one, and if we all are honest, the first time we heard of it we all went, "what?" and at this precise moment, my spell checker doesn't like the word, and is pointing it out to me with an angry squiggly line! So what is it? Gastro-oesophageal Reflux, is more commonly known just as "Reflux" and is something that tends to affect many babies. Gastro refers to the stomach, and oesophageal refers to the gullet, or the food pipe, between the mouth and the stomach. Reflux is caused if the muscle that connects the gullet to the stomach has a weakness in it, and this allows milk to flow back from the stomach into the gullet. This can lead to the baby vomiting following feeds, not just a "mouthful" that all babies do at some stage - or it can lead to the baby being quite cross following feeds. This is due to the milk and acid from their stomach irritating their gullet. This vomiting or irritability, quite understandably, makes many parents feel very anxious and leads to a hospital admission. Many parents have told me that it is like a vicious circle, and I have had the experience of this myself when looking after little ones with Reflux. The child is crying because it is hungry, you give it some milk, then they cry because they are sore - or else they vomit, which leaves them crying from hunger again. It is very important that Reflux is correctly diagnosed and treated. So how is Reflux diagnosed? From what you tell the doctor, it is likely that they will be able to initially suspect that your child has reflux, but usually they will try to confirm this using other tests. pH monitoring is one such test that may be carried out. For this test a small tube will need to be passed down the baby’s nose, down the gullet, to the entrance of the stomach. This tube has a probe on it that tests how much stom
                              ach acid is being refluxed. The tube will be secured in place using sticky tape and an electric box will be attached to the end of the tube. This box will record how acidic any reflux is over a period of 24 hours. Most hospitals will send your child for an x-ray just to be sure that the tube is in the correct position to monitor the acidity. If it's in the wrong place then wrong readings may be given. Having the small tube passed should not hurt the baby - it may annoy them initially, but most babies that I have seen are contented with a dummy/pacifier (whatever you want to call them!). After 24 hours the readings will be analysed and you will be spoken to by a doctor. Another test that may be carried out to diagnose Reflux is a barium swallow. For about 4 hours before this procedure, the baby will not be allowed to eat anything. The procedure is carried out in the x-ray department and most hospitals will allow parents to come along with their child. The child will be required to drink a small amount of Barium and through imaging techniques, the radiographer will be able to see the Barium passing down the gullet into the stomach. If the child does have reflux then the barium will be seen passing up the gullet again. So how is Gastro-oesophageal Reflux diagnosed? The main form of treatment in babies if to add a powder to the feed called CAROBEL. The main aim of adding this powder is to thicken the baby's feed, so meaning that it does not pass back up the gullet as easily. Carobel will be prescribed by the doctor and it is important that this is added to any liquids that the baby is having. The instructions for using Carobel are on the side of the box, but the recommendations are that 1 scoop of Carobel (using the scoop provided not the baby milk one!) should be added to every 30 mls (1 fl oz) of liquid. Add too much and you will end up with a gloopy gungy mess (yes, said from ex
                              perience!) add too little and the feed will not be thick enough and may cause reflux. Because the milk is being thickened, this will make it difficult for the baby to suck the milk unless the hole in the teat is made bigger. In hospital we use sterile scissors to make the teats wider, but a hot needle can be used or faster flow teats from the chemist can also be used. What about those who are breastfed? It is possible to give a small amount of carobel made up with cooled boiled water before and after breastfeeding. Other helpful Ideas to help minimise Reflux. Sitting the baby up following a feed helps prevent reflux, for example in a baby chair or in a cot with the mattress slightly raised (remember to raise the mattress using a towel UNDER the mattress, NEVER use a pillow under the baby’s head). If you are breastfeeding try raising the child up a little more than usual while feeding. It also helps if the baby is moved as little as possible following feeds. At anytime, if your child has reflux, that you are concerned about them, you should speak to your GP or Health Visitor or if your local hospital has a children's information hot line, do not be afraid to contact them. Thankfully, for most children, reflux is something that will only affect them as baby's. As they get older, most tend to grow out of it - A little light at the end of the tunnel, and less of those sleepless nights.

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                                19.08.2001 02:37
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                                • "Worn Keyboards"

                                Cough splutter cough... that's all I could do the last time that I went into Revelations Internet Cafe in Belfast. Recently, I have been away from home due to being placed in the back end of nowhere for my final nursing placements, which has no Internet access, so in order to log on I have had to go right into Belfast to do so, and as the university's library times are a bit up the left over the holiday period, I have resorted to using Revelations Internet cafe. It was with a little fear and trepidation that I entered Revelations, but Internet addiction will make you go to extreme lengths to get online, so I was prepared to pay the £1.00 (student rate) for 15 minutes. To me this is an extortionate amount of money, but perhaps others will not agree with me. Revelations is in the University area of Belfast, just down Shaftsbury Square ( address :- 27 Shaftsbury Square Belfast BT2 7DB. Tel:02890 320337). If any of you watch Patrick Kielty's show, he usually does outside broadcasts from just outside Revelations Cafe. As I entered I was greeted by a cloud of smoke, and a man who grunted at me as I enquired about using a computer for a period of time. He waved me towards an empty seat, made another grunt, and I assumed that this computer was free. The cloud of smoke lingered (apologies to those reading this who are smokers, but I just can’t stand smoking, especially in an area where food is being sold), as I sat at one of the 12 terminals in the cafe. Now I am used to typing on a keyboard and so pretty much know where each letter is on the keyboard, but the ones in Revelations were quite worn, meaning that someone who was not as familiar with the keyboard may have had a hard time of figuring it out. I was quite annoyed at this, after all, 15 minutes for £1, can they not afford to buy new keyboards every so often? The signs around boasted that the net access was the fastest available,
                                and that their computers were fast, but I found that it was not as fast as my own computer, and that it took a while for pages to upload. This may have been because the cafe was particularly full that night, or just that their connection isn't quite as fast as they like to boast. I got all my work done in the 15 minutes ( I literally flew through it!) and got up to pay - thankfully the "grunting" man had left and instead there was a pleasant lady who chatted to me as I paid, leaving me feeling that the place was not quite so bad after all. They mainly sell snacks in Revelations, with their bottomless cups of tea and coffee being very popular, but sandwiches are also available. Their opening times are: Mon - Fri 8am - 10pm Sat 10am - 6pm Sun 11am - 7pm Revelations also offer other services along with their web access, Our services include: "Internet tuition, Office software access, games access, food, soft drinks, coffee, scanning, laminating, colour prints, laser prints, fax services, live camera to allow you to email pics of yourself." (taken from their web site, www.revelations.co.uk) I would go there again, but as I said, only if I couldn't get into the University - Why pay £1 for 15 minutes when you can get as long as you like for free just up the road?!

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                                  18.08.2001 07:04
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                                  Febrile Convulsions - not something that I had heard of before I started training as a children’s nurse. The word Convulsion struck terror in my heart - how did the parents ever cope? Here was their child, normally bright and bubbly, who hadn’t been feeling too good and had been quite quiet all day, the one they remarked to their partner was "probably coming down with something", suddenly on the floor having some strange sort of fit while all sorts of horror stories are running through their minds. Next thing they know they are in hospital, surrounded by strange people, some of whom see these things every day and so treat it that way without a concern for how terrified the parents were just minutes before hand. The reality of this all hit me when I first looked after a child who had had a febrile convulsion. The child was fine, sitting up in bed watching the Tweenies, while her mum was on egg shells, obviously very distressed at what she had just witnessed a few hours before. I realised that, like myself, many people did not know much about this subject, and so I researched it, and this information has come in handy on a great number of occasions since. So what exactly is a Febrile Convulsion? As the word Febrile suggests, it is a "fit" that is brought on by a raised temperature of the child, and is extremely common in young children under the age of 5. This is due to their immune system not being as strong as that of an older child and so infection can get a grip quicker and as their body temperature increases to fight off infection, their "heat control" mechanism does not stop the body from producing heat - so the temperature continues to increase and causes the convulsion. It is thought that it is more likely that your child will have a Febrile Convulsion if you or your partner had one when you were younger and if your child usually suffers from high temperatures when unw
                                  ell. Various people describe the fits differently, but the most common description is that the child first becomes floppy, then their body will stiffen and begins to shake uncontrollably. This can last for a few seconds, or a few minutes. The child will normally go very pale, and on some occasions go a little blue. Each child will react differently - some quickly return to consciousness, others take longer. What to do if your child has a febrile convulsion. This situation should be treated like any other emergency situation. First of all the environment should be checked for safety - remove anything that could harm your child while fitting, and put cushions against anything (like the fireplace) that you cannot move. If you can, take a note of how long the fit lasts, it will be helpful for the doctors to know this. Let the child "fit", do not try to hold them down and NEVER try to put anything into their mouth. If the child starts to vomit, their head should be turned to prevent choking. While the child is still unconscious they should be placed into the recovery position, which will maintain their airway. Try removing some clothing to help reduce their temperature. If the child continues to fit, an ambulance should be called (if you have not already done this). Most of the time the child has stopped fitting by the time they have reached the hospital, but if they haven't it is likely that they will be given rectal diazepam, to help relax the body and stop the fit. All children who have a Febrile convulsion should be seen in hospital, so that the cause of the convulsion can be figured out. In hospital, you would find that the main aim is to keep the child's temperature down. Your child will usually be stripped down to it's underwear, and given Paracetamol. Temperatures will be taken regularly and if the Paracetamol is not having a grea
                                  t effect, Ibuprofen will be used alongside. These two drugs work amazingly alongside each other in reducing temperatures, and many children will be discharge home on these drugs. Paracetamol can be given 4-6 hourly, while Ibuprofen can be given 6-8 hourly 3 times a day, so most hospitals will alternate between the two drugs so that your child is given constant antipyretics. Another method of cooling the child down would be to sponge the child with a damp cloth, but there are many views on how appropriate this is, and many hospitals will have their own view on the subject. My local hospital sends parents home with detailed advice sheets that emphasise what the nurses have already told the parents, and there is always the option to ring the ward with any further concerns or queries - many parents find this to be of great benefit, and no ward should send you home with your child unless they are sure that YOU feel comfortable with what you should do if it happens again. Usually the cause is a viral illness, most of the children I have seen, have had tonsillitis stated as the cause of the convulsion. Many parents fear that this one convulsion will lead to their child having epilepsy, or brain damage. This is highly unlikely, and most children who have a febrile convulsion will recover totally from the ordeal, and while you will always remember it, the child will not remember the fit at all. Usually, most children who have had a convulsion will not have another one in the same illness, it is possible that they will have one if they are ill again, but usually most parents will recognise the early signs and make moves to try to keep their child’s temperature down. Seeing a child have a convulsion is very scary - I find it scary, and I do not have kids. I can only begin to imagine how terrible it must feel for a parent to watch their child go through this, but thankfully there is help for it, and a massive majority of c
                                  hildren do not have any further problems.

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