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I like to think that I provide my family with a well balanced healthy diet. We are all Vegetarians and am only too aware that I need to think carefully about the different food my family and I consume to be sure that we are all getting all the vitamins and minerals we need, I also supplement our diet with vitamins. I have bought a few different supplements for my children over the years, we are currently using Salus Floradix Kindervital for Children.
Salus is a family run buisness, who have been operating for over 85 years. They produce a wide variety of health supplements, most famously their award winning Floradix liquid Iron formula. They aim to be as environmentally friendly and responsible as possible, so much so that their production plant is completely powered using steam. Salus also run environmental conservation programmes. Salus products are made / manufactured in Germany and distributed in England, Cheshire.
Floradix Kindervital comes presented in a card box, which clearly shows the brand and product name along with a picture of two sporty active children, there are are variety of flowers, fruits and vegetables down the side.
General information is given on the back and sides, all of which should be read thoroughly before using. Some general information about the brand and product is given along with an nutrition table, directions for use, warnings and ingredients.
The best before is printed on the top, mine has a decent longevity of 09 / 2015. The bottle should be refrigerated after opening and the contents consumed within four weeks.
The glass bottle is brown in colour and has a child proof safety lid with a plastic measuring cup on top. The label on the front of the bottle gives similar information to the box. Also enclosed within the box is a information leaflet.
Floradix Kindervital contains no preservatives, alcohol, colourings, artificial flavours or lactose and is suitable for vegetarians. This is a liquid supplement so the nutrients will be absorbed quickly in the digestive system compared to tablets. It is a food supplement for children over three years, but of course it is suitable for adults to take too. Salus claim that it has a "pleasant malty" taste. The supplement calcium and vitamin D, which are vital for bone development, plus nine essential nutrients such as vit C, B6 and B12 which help support a healthy immune system.
The liquid itself is brown in colour and of a runny but sticky consistency. Salus recommend giving children (over 3 years) 10ml twice daily before meals, the enclosed plastic measuring cup makes giving the correct dosage incredibly easy. The liquid pours into the cup effortlessly and the measurements are clearly marked, the cup is transparent so the liquid can easily be seen inside.
I find that the liquid has quite an odd smell that I cannot quite describe, that being said it is not an unpleasant smell - just a tad strange. True to their word the supplement does taste very malty along with a hint of fruitiness, I wouldn't go so far as to describe it as delicious but it is still pleasant enough. I tend to give my children a 10 ml "shot" each before their porridge in the morning and another before dinner in the evening. Initially my children were a little unsure of the taste, but they seem to have gotten a little more used to it over time. They now say it tastes "OK", but they do prefer the taste of other chewable vitamins they have taken in the past, presumably because they tend to be full of sugar and added flavours. My youngest can be particularly fussy, but she doesn't kick up a fuss whilst consuming this supplement and has never refused to take it. I have never noticed any unwanted side effects. My children do not have regular blood tests so I cannot be 100% about how effective this product is, however they both seem well in themselves and are both very active, I do feel it is beneficial to them.
Of course nothing substitutes a healthy varied diet but I do feel that taking a supplement can be beneficial to some. I will continue to give Floradix Kindervital to my children and will also be trying other supplements from their extensive range.
* Prices *
500ml - £9.99
250ml - £6.99
Over the past few years my daughters interest in pop music has grown, she loves watching all the latest music videos and she has an ever growing collection of CDs. She especially loved listening to the radio in the car during the school run, she moved school last year and now gets picked up from the house in a school bus so is no longer able to listen to her favourite station. She received some money in a card for her birthday and asked me if she could buy a little radio for her bedroom, I actually didn't think we would get anything for just £10 but after a quick search on Amazon we found this Sony (iCFS22) portable radio for just £9.99.
The radio is a little bulky but can still be carried around or placed in a bag without taking up too much room, plus it isn't so small that it gets easily misplaced or lost. My daughter can hold it quite comfortably in one hand using the carry strap to keep it secured to her wrist. It is made out of a quality thick plastic, it has a rounded appearance with no sharp edges. My daughter has dropped the radio a few times, so there are a few scratched and scuffs on the silver body, but nothing too bad really.
There are two speakers, a rather large one on the front and a smaller one at the back. The analogue tuning dial is located along the left hand side along with the band switch for either AM or FM. On the right side there is a headphone socket and volume control. It has a telescopic antenna, which can be clipped to the side whilst not in use.
The radio is battery operated and cannot be connected to the mains. It takes two AA batteries, I tend to use branded batteries. Surprisingly I have found that batteries last a rather long time before needing to be changed, my daughter uses the radio on a regular basis and yet the batteries only need changing around once a month.
Sound wise the radio is quite decent - perhaps a little tinny but not bad considering the speakers are mono and not stereo.
This really is a basic personal radio, it isn't particularly flashy in either looks or features but it does the job intended and suits my daughters needs.
A quick look online shows the Sony ICFS22 portable radio is currently priced at £12.99 on Amazon.
My daughter started reception in September and has really been enjoying her time at school, she has the most amazing teacher who seems to have an incredible gift for inspiring the children in her class. I am not currently working, so I often help out in my daughters class and have had the pleasure of taking part in the various tasks and activities the teacher sets. The teacher is particularly passionate about instilling a love of reading in the children, the children often visit the local libraries and my daughter often comes home from school with various books she has borrowed. There is one particular book that seems to have captured all the children's imaginations in her reception class, the wonderful "Aliens Love Underpants" by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort. My daughter enjoys this book so much I couldn't resist buying her a copy.
Aliens Love Underpants was first published in 2007, it was a Richard and Judy's children's book winner. It has an age recommendation of 5+, which seems to be the age at which children begin finding words like underpants and bottom hysterically funny, that being said I am sure younger children would enjoy the story too. My eldest daughter is ten and says the book is stupid and babyish, so I think its more suitable for younger children.
The books cover is very bright and eye-catching, I certainly think it would capture the attention of all young children. "Aliens Love Underpants" is written in shiny silver writing at the top, underneath which three aliens frolic wearing nothing but their underpants! The aliens look very friendly, happy and above all silly, I cannot imagine any child being frightened of them.
My daughters teacher has encouraged the children in her class to read the information on the back of the book, so now my daughter always insists on me reading the "blurb" before anything else. To be fair, the blurb for this book is pretty good, it sets the tone well and gives a good idea of what the book will be about.
"When aliens fly down to Earth,
They don't come to meet YOU...
They simply want your underpants -
I'll bet you never knew"
On the first two pages there is a double page illustration of various underpants on a dark blue background, these are underpants of different colours and styles - frilly pink knickers, pirate pants, stripy Y front and not forgetting Grannies spotted bloomers! Its a lovely bright engaging page, and there is plenty of things to talk about within it, we can count how many pants there are and discuss the various shapes, styles and colours. My daughter likes to choose a pair of knickers from the page before reading the story, she often points at different pairs and tells me of a class mate who chose that particular pair on any given day.
The actual story is a rather simple one and involves a group of cheeky aliens flying down to Earth and generally getting up to mischief stealing underpants from washing lines. They arent fussy, they love all types of underpants, oh and what fun they have with them too. They like to wear them of course, but on silly places like their heads and feet. They use them as trampolines for jumping on and hold competitions to see how many aliens can squeeze inside each leg. When Mum comes out to bring the washing in, they flee and hide but occasionally one is left behind. We are told to always check our underpants before putting them on, incase an alien is inside!
The story is set over 24 pages all of which are displayed across double page spreads. Each double page spread had four lines of rhyming text, it is really easy to read and it flows nicely. Its actually quite a nice one to read. The illustrations are very bright and fun, there is plenty to talk about on each page.
By far the children's favourite part of the book is where one of the aliens tries on a pair of Grannies spotted bloomers, I imagine not many had heard or seen bloomers before. The class teacher actually brought in a pair of massive bloomers and we had our own contest to see how many of the children could fit inside, which was great fun. We also made a beautiful classroom display, featuring a myriad of different knickers and underpants which the children had drawn all hung on a washing line with mini wooden pegs. One morning when we arrived at school all the underpants were missing, the aliens had left a letter saying they had dropped them all in the school hall and the children had great fun searching for them.
Clearly this is an extremely silly book, it is incredibly funny and a little on the bazaar side too. I have been present whilst the teacher has read this to the reception class and its fair to say the children find it hysterical, and I mean side - splittingly funny, they literally roll around on the carpet laughing. The boys seem to get the most out of it, perhaps this is due to the fact that the word "underpants" is used instead of knickers, still getting some boys enjoying books can be a tricky task and this one hits the nail on the head. Plus, the girls do enjoy it too, my daughter laughs along in class but seems to engage more with the story when I read it to her at bedtime, though she is a rather quiet reserved child in class - quite the opposite to what she's like at home!
The children in my daughters reception class absolutely love Aliens Love Underpants and it gets a great reaction each time it has been brought out, plus the activities we have done alongside it have been really fun. My daughter enjoys this book equally as much at home and it is one she chooses often for her bedtime story. This is a truly wonderful book and one which I would whole hearted recommend - if you have a child between 4-8 it should be on their book shelf.
Aliens Love Underpants can be purchased from most book shops and online. Amazon are currently selling the paperback for £3.50, board book £4.49 and on Kindle for £2.99. There are also many second hand copies available from private sellers on Amazon.
I bought my daughter this Madison mid sleeper bed around 6 years ago now to replace the toddler bed which she had outgrown. Ours was purchased in a set with a mattress and Hello Kitty tent surround, I forgot how much it cost but a quick look on the Argos website shows me that the Madison mid sleeper bed frame is currently priced at £99.99, with various special offer deals including mattresses and tents.
The bed comes flat packed and needs to be fully assembled at home. It took my boyfriend and around an hour or so to put together, fixing the individual slats took the most amount of time to complete and was a rather monotonous task. We have moved house three times with this bed and each time the majority of the bed had to be taken apart, however it was easily re-assembled in the new house.
My daughter chose this bed herself as she liked the idea of having a hideaway underneath. As mentioned earlier we purchased this along with a Worlds Apart Hello Kitty tent pack, unfortunately the tent pack was awful and within weeks it had fallen apart and ended up in the bin. I replaced it with an Argos tent pack which lasted a few years before falling apart, however I ended up replacing it with the same one quite recently. Although a tent pack is not essential to the bed I do think it looks better with one and my daughter certainly enjoys playing inside her hideaway.
The bed itself is very sturdy and looks nice and modern, it has a unisex design so would be suitable for either boys or girls. The ladder to get up onto the bed is well made and it doesn't wobble about or move during use, there are three steps on the ladder which are evenly spaced. The ladder can be positioned at either side.
My daughter was five when she got this bed, slightly younger than the recommended 6 years, however I felt satisfied that the bed was suitable and safe for her to use. She found the ladder easy to climb and the bed has a surround which meant she could not roll out during the night. My daughter has had no problems or accidents over the past six years of use, the bed is still in a fantastic condition and I can imagine it was last for a many more years to come.
General maintenance of the bed is incredibly important but really easy too, we have always ensured that all the bolts were checked and tightened on a regular basis. I also like to give it a quick wipe over every now and again just to keep it looking clean.
We have been more than satisfied with the Maddison mid sleeper bed, my daughter finds it comfortable and enjoys playing in the space below. It is ideal for children who like to play hideaway or those with small bedrooms with minimal space. I have been really happy with the quality and longevity of it, I just wish I could fine a quality mid sleeper tent pack to go with it!
General information taken from the Argos website:
Bed size W98, L200, H115cm.
Clearance between floor and underside of bed 74cm.
Maximum depth of mattress 20cm.
We had been Sky customers since 2008, but around a year ago we were offered an excellent deal by their rival Virgin Media so we decided to switch over. When we rang up Sky TV to leave they offered us an even better deal to stay with them which included this brand new Sky+ HD box, so we ended up sticking with Sky and have been more than pleased with them.
A few weeks after sorting out our new contract a Sky engineer came out to set our new box up for us and put our old box in our bedroom. The engineer was efficient and the set up only took around half an hour, he quickly showed me how to use the new box before he left.
I really like the look of the new box especially compared to our previous silver one. The Sky+ HD box is mostly black in colour with a silver panel at the front, it looks sleek an modern and matches my black TV and Consoles well. It does occasionally get a little dusty or mucky but I find a quick wipe over with a damp cloth and its looking as good as new. There are a few buttons on the front, in the centre is a circle with a stop and play symbols inside, these light up during playback which looks really cool. There is also a red record button, play, pause, stop, forward and rewind button none of which we really use as we always just use the remote control. The stand by button illuminates green when on and yellow when off.
The menu is set out very well and it didn't take me long to get to grips with it. Along the top there are 9 tabs - Tv guide, planner, on demand, box office, search, radio, interactive, parental, options and settings. The date and time are also clearly displayed, plus there is the option of having a small screen in the left hand corner, so you can still watch your show whilst navigating the menu.
The TV guide is really easy to navigate and planning the weeks tv is really simple, again there are tabs along the top which make it even easier to find what you are looking for (eg. News, movies, sport). I tend to just use the "all channels" tab, but occasionally I will use the "HD channel" tab too. To record something you simply press the red R button on the remote control, you will be given the option to record once or record the series, I really like this function as it means I never miss my favourite shows as each episode will automatically be recorded for me. Only two programmes can be recorded at the same time.
~ Planner ~
This is where all the recorded shows are kept, there is a line along the top which shows the percentage of memory left which is really helpful, I don't think we have ever reached the full capacity and there really is plenty of room on there for our needs. TV shows and series are automatically put into folders, which keeps the menu nice and tidy as well as making them easier to locate. There is also the option of putting locks on recordings to prevent them getting accidentally deleted. Deleted recordings will go to the "deleted" folder and will automatically be deleted after a certain period.
~ On Demand ~
On Demand is basically "catch up TV" were you can access anything you might have missed, plus there are box sets of various TV shows to watch too. To get the most out of the On Demand services it is recommended that the Sky box is connected up to the router, either the router needs to be connected via an ethernet cable or a specific dongle can be bought. We have done neither, so our On Demand service is pretty basic, however I have found most of the content is available via the SkyGo app anyways.
~ Box Office ~
This is where the latest movies can be purchased from, prices start from 99p but the newest movies tend to be around the £4 mark . I have only purchased a movie once from the box office, it was a movie I had been dying to see, plus it was on offer at the time, so a little cheaper than the usual cost. Personally I find the Box Office a little expensive and I just wait until they are shown on Sky movies.
~ Search ~
I find the search function really useful if you are looking for a specific programme, its certainly easier than scrolling through the TV guide. Simply type in the title, genre or sub genre of what you want with the remote control.
~ Radio ~
This tab accesses all the guide for all the available radio stations, its really easy to scroll through.
~ Interactive ~
Games, Sky Bet & Sky Vegas can be accessed here, I've never really used any of these so cant really comment on what they are like.
~ Parental ~
With two small children we make good use of the parental settings. We have been able to set a PIN code and to watch anything rated 12 years + the pin needs to be entered. There is also the options to remove adult content from the guide, so no adult channels will be displayed in the TV guides listing. Any channels can also be manually locked and only accessed when entering the pin. On the whole the parental channels work well, however I think Sky could do a little better as occasionally content can slip through.
~Options & Setting ~
These two tabs are where all the general settings are, such as subtitles, a list of favourite channels, TV telephone numbers and customise options.
~ HD ~
The box is HD ready, but a HD subscription needs to be purchased to access it. There are 78 HD channels in total, a large majority of which are for the Sky movies and Sky sports channels. I have found the HD channels to be brilliant, they are so much clearer, crisper and sharper. The box also has 3D capability, but as we don't have a 3D TV its not much use to us.
I have been really happy with the Sky+ box, especially considering we received it for free. We still have our old Sky box in our bedroom and I really do notice a huge difference between the two. Not only is the new HD box more sleeker and modern looking but it is also easier to navigate, it is faster and doesn't freeze like our old box does. It really is a great box and pretty much does everything we need it too. I do have a few minor niggles with it but on the whole I have been really pleased with it.
My Boyfriend quite like to buy me sexy pretty underwear and hosiery for special occasions and will tend to buy such items from high street retailers such as Ann Summers. Thankfully he has very good taste when it comes to such purchases and has chosen some very beautiful items over the years, one of which being these Ann Summers Ribbon Slot socks. As they were a gift I am not entirely sure how much my boyfriend paid for them, they are not currently showing up on the Ann Summers website but they can be found on eBay for around the £6 mark.
The socks came presented in cardboard packaging with a little "window" through which the socks could be seen inside, I felt the packaging was nice enough - if a little plain. If giving as a gift the socks could easily be given as they are in the box, but I would recommend wrapped them in some pretty wrapping paper with a bow to make it all look a little more special.
My particular socks look exactly like Dooyoos picture above, except mine have a pink ribbon instead of red, the ribbons do come in a few other colours too, so a suitable pair can be found to suit most outfits. The socks are plain black in colour and of a nice thickness, they are not see-through at all. They reach just over my knees and the stretchy material means they stay in place and do not roll or slip down. There are a few holes around the top of the socks through which the ribbon is threaded. I love the bright pink ribbons, they are extremely bold and girlie and really stand out against the blackness of the sock. The ribbons can easily be repositioned, so the bow can be at the front, back or sides, depending on your mood!
The socks are of a great quality and I wouldn't expect anything less from an Ann Summers item, the material hasn't "bobbled" and the ribbons haven't frayed. The material is lovely and soft and they feel comfortable to wear, in my opinion they are a sexy little item!
My daughters first car seat came as part of a set with her deluxe pram, it was a group 0+ meaning it was only suitable for babies from birth to 12 months. Shortly before my daughters first birthday I began looking for a new one and after a little research I chose this Nania Beline SP Plus car seat. It was a long time ago so I forget how much it cost or where I purchased it from, but a quick look online shows its is currently priced at £39.99* (excluding delivery) .
Ours is exactly the same as the one shown in Dooyoos picture above, this particular design is called "sugar" very apt for its sweet pink design. Other designs are available, in fact there are a variety of different colours to choose from so there is something there to suit all tastes.
The Nania Beline SP Plus is a group 1 - 3 car seat, it is suitable for children between 9 months - 11 years (9 - 36 kg). My daughter has been using the car seat for around four years now and it is still in a great condition, I feel it could last for quite a few more years. The plastic is strong and durable and there are no visible scratches or marks on it. The seat is large in size but not overly bulky and it is very lightweight, it easily fits on the car boot when not needed.
Installing the seat is fairly easy and full instructions were given how to do this, which of course should be read thoroughly before use. The cover is fully removable and machine washable, I have put it through the wash a number of times and it always comes out nice and clean, although the material has slightly bobbled in some places, which I guess is to be expected really. I do find removing the cover and getting it back on again to be a little fiddly and time consuming.
Up until recently my daughter has has had no complaints with this car seat, it is nicely padded and she finds it comfortable to sit in even on long journeys. However, for the past few months now she has been complaining that the safety harness is "babyish" which I think is probably due to the fact that her older sister has a completely different seat which is like a large booster and the seat belt simply clips over it. My eldest daughter is nearly 11 and so has nearly outgrown the need for hers, I plan on passing it down to my youngest daughter in place of the Nania Beline SP Plus.
Overall, I have have been really happy with the Nania Beline SP plus car seat and feel confident it keeps my daughter safe and secure, it has served us well over the years.
A few months ago we decided to update our living room TV, our previous one was around five years old so I felt we were in need of an upgrade. I did a little research online and ended up with a shortlist of TV's which were within my budget. In the end I decided on this Toshiba 40L6353 Smart TV, which I purchased online at Tesco Direct, it was priced at £349.00, but I had accumulated £150 worth of Tesco clubcard points and was able to put this toward my purchase making it much more affordable, plus delivery was free. A quick look online shows me the TV is currently priced at £449.00 on the Tesco Direct website.
Tesco took around two weeks to deliver the item, but I was aware of how long it would take before payment. I was able to select a date, but not a time slot and I was simply told that delivery would take place between 7am - 7pm. However, on the delivery day the driver rang me to let me know an approximate time, which was very handy considering I do the school run. The driver was a nice polite gentleman who placed the large package in my living room for me.
The item arrived well packaged in a cardboard box and there was plenty of styrofoam protecting the TV inside, all of which was quickly disposed of. The TV can either be attached to the stand or wall mounted, we chose the stand and it took my boyfriend less than ten minutes to screw it together.
Our previous TV had a 32" screen, which I guess is quite small for a living room TV these days, so to us the 40" screen on the Toshiba initially felt massive - although we are a little more used to it now. The TV looks very modern and sleek, it has a thin black surround and silver stand. I would say it is quite lightweight and a little on the wobbly side, Toshiba recommend screwing the TV to the stand for extra security, we were a little weary of putting holes in our unit but in the end decided it was actually rather essential for safety reasons. Even though the base is screwed down the actual TV can still be rotated a little to a different angle if required. Looks wise, its pretty impressive.
No instruction manual was enclosed, but we still found the set up really easy as the TV goes through it with you step by step. It did take a while though, perhaps 30 or so minutes and I was a little surprised to discover it needed things like my email address before I was able to go onto the next step. The TV is WiFi, so thankfully it doesn't need one of those dongles, the internet can also be set up via ethernet port. Thankfully the process for us was fairly fuss free and the TV quickly picked up on our wifi. The TV comes with free-view built in, however as we have Sky I didn't need to install the free-view, so I cannot really comment on how easy is to do.
There are plenty of outlets on the back including 4 HDMI, 1 scart, RGB enabled scart socket, ethernet port, USB port and headphone socket. To be honest, I have only taken advantage of the scart and HDMI outlets, which all work well and do the job intended.
I have been pretty impressed with the picture quality. Our previous TV claimed to be HD but as far as we could tell there was absolutely no difference between watching something on a HD channel or just a regular channel, so I was under the impression that it was all a bit of a gimmick really. However, the picture quality on the Toshiba had completely blown me away, the HD channels are amazingly clear and crisp. One small issue I have noticed has been the appearance of some faded white blotches which only seem to show up when the screen goes to black, I have no idea what these are or how to get rid of them, its not a huge problem but still a little on the annoying side. The sound quality is also good, but I plan on buying an additional speaker.
The TV has a "home" screen which is were all the apps and smart stuff is located, it is incredibly easy to navigate, switching between the screens is fast and it has never frozen.
I was really exited about getting a smart TV but actually feel a little let down. I must admit I simply thought there would be more apps available. The main apps are Netflix, BBCi player, YouTube, Blinkbox, BBCsport and BBC news, along some other rather rubbish ones which seem to just be there to fill up space. There are some social media apps including Facebook, twitter and skype, but I haven't bothered to set my account up. I am a Netflix subscriber so am glad this is available, however Love-film and Now TV customers will be disappointed that no app is available. Also, there is the BBCi player but as far as catch up on demand goes thats it, no 4OD, 5OD, ITV player or SkyGo.
By far my biggest problem with the Toshiba is the app adverts and banners on the home screens, I find them incredibly annoying and intrusive. As soon as the home screen comes on the adverts are screaming out to grab your attention, they are ridiculously loud and as far as I can tell there is no way to remove them. The adds are for the available apps and they play continually on a loop, so I am sick to the back teeth of seeing them.
To be honest I barely use the "Smart" side of the TV, the ads are annoying and the apps are limited, so I tend to use my trusty Xbox instead.
Considering my Tesco club card points brought the price of this TV to just £200 I can't really grumble too much and overall I am happy enough with it, if I had paid the full £349 I would have been less than impressed. As I noted earlier in my review the price has now gone up to £449, personally I think a better smart TV could be found for the money.
East Midlands Airport
* Hotel Information*
Check in: 2pm
Check out: 12 noon
Cleaning services available.
We stayed in the Thistle Hotel East Midland airport last Saturday, whilst visiting relatives in the area. I booked the hotel online rather last minute on the Friday night, but there were plenty of rooms available to choose from. We decided to treat ourselves to a "Deluxe King Size Room" at £109, standard rooms were available for around the £89 mark. East Midlands Airport is just 15-30 minutes away, there are plenty of parking options should you wish to leave your car there whilst on holiday. Rather annoyingly, we were charged a £5 car parking fee for our 1 night stay which we payed for on our departure.
My boyfriend knows the area quite well and although we had not stayed at the Thistles before we had stayed at some of the other hotels in the area, so we had no problems arriving at our destination. The hotel was well sign posted as well and directions are given on the Thistles website.
On our arrival we had a little trouble getting into the car park as the barriers were broken, we waited around ten minutes continuously pressing the call "help" button on the ticket station before a member of staff eventually answered and opened the barrier for us. By this time there was a queue forming behind us and we noticed that the car behind us was also left to sit and wait for help entering.
The reception area was large and very inviting, there was comfy looking leather sofas and coffee tables to the left but we headed straight to the check in desk. There was only one lady at reception and when we arrived she was dealing with a rather disgruntled customer complaining about the car park barrier, which she dealt with in a quick professional manor. Check in was relatively easy and after giving my name and some general information I was told that the room had been pre- paid online, but that breakfast was not included. We decided to add breakfast to our stay, rather strangely I was told I could either purchase Breakfast coupons from her at £10 each, or pay for the breakfast at the restaurant in the morning which would cost £16 each. I don't really understand how they can charge two separate prices for the same thing, obviously I chose the cheaper option and was given two tokens to hand to staff at breakfast. I was told the times for breakfast, check out and the Leisure facilities. Overall, I found the check in process quick and easy.
Finding our room was easy enough, the corridors were well sign posted. I felt the room was nice enough, it was decorated with framed Derby car racing pictures displayed on the walls. There was a wooden desk against one wall with a large mirror above it, there was a small hairdryer located in one of the desk draws which I didn't use as I had brought my own. There was also a kettle, two cups and some tea and coffee sachets on a movable wooden tray, the kettle was rather small and took forever to boil but it still served it purpose well enough. A large table in the corner housed the LCD TV which we found really easy to work, it had all the usual free-view channels. The bed was absolutely massive and I was quite pleased that I had decided to book the king size option, the bed was on the hard side but comfortable enough and we both slept well. We had a lovely view of a stream from our window. The bathroom was well equipped with all the usual complimentary shampoos, soap and body wash. It had a large mirror above the sink and a power shower above the bath. The room and bathroom were fine for our needs, it was clean and modern looking,
After checking into our room we decided to visit the leisure facilities, again this was easy to find by following the sign posts. On our arrival we were asked to sign into the guests book before being given a small padlock and key for the lockers. The female changing rooms were incredibly small and cramped, there was just one communal changing area which was rather full so I ended up changing in one of the toilet cubicles. The lockers were large enough to fit my bag, coat and shoes in and they were free to use, so no need to search for a pound coin. There were two shower cubicles with complimentary shower gel, shampoo and conditioner. Hairdryers were also available, I think there were around three or four.
The leisure facilities were on the small side, especially the pool. When we entered the pool there were already quite a few people in there, along with a number of children. There was a nice jacuzzi, we found it difficult to get a turn using it as for most of our stay it was taken up by children jumping in it. We enjoyed the sauna and found it very relaxing, the heat was checked by a member of staff on a regular basis. Unfortunately the steam room was out of order so we were unable to use it. There was also a solarium, but its not something I would be interested in trying so I cannot comment on how good it was. The leisure facility staff were friendly and approachable, the pools, changing rooms and sauna were all well kept and clean. We found the facilities to be just okay really, they certainly weren't exceptional or anything special.
After our swim we went back to our room to get freshened up, my boyfriend rang reception and booked us a table for 8:30 at the "Sherwood" restaurant. The restaurant is located just past the bar, we were greeted by staff who showed us to our seats and took our drink orders. It was rather quiet but there was a lovely ambients and I felt comfortable and at ease during our stay. I was pleased to discover that they offered lots of vegetarian food, in fact the food served at the Thistle was Vegetarian Society Approved, something which I think they should advertise on their website! I ordered a Vegetarian mushroom and hallomi burger with fries and my partner ordered a curry, both meals arrived quickly and we thoroughly enjoyed them. Staff were polite and friendly, we had a nice chat with one member of staff whilst we were paying for our food at the till. The restaurant was really nice and the food was delicious and reasonably priced. We paid just over £35, for two main meals, one side, a bottle of beer and pint of beer.
We finished our evening by having a few drinks in the Lord Byron bar, drinks were a little on the pricy side but not overly extortionate. Bar food was available but I didn't really take note of what was being offered.
Breakfast was served in the restaurant, we handed our Thistle breakfast coupons to the staff who quickly shown us to our table and asked whether we wanted tea or coffee, before serving up our choice. The breakfast was buffet style and had all the usual croissants, pain au chocolate, fruit and cereal. There was also a hot breakfast food section with a chef cooking eggs, my boyfriend chose some fried eggs which he said tasted yummy and were cooked exactly as he likes them. I asked the chef if they did any vegetarian sausages, at first he looked rather blankly at me before showing me the meat sausages, which I declined. In the end I had beans, hash browns and mushrooms on toast. We found the breakfast enjoyable and well cooked, there was plenty of choice but I think some veggie sausages could have been made available.
The Check out process was easy enough and the lady in reception was nice and chatty, I mentioned that we were planning on going into Nottingham for the day and she suggested a few places of interest to us. She informed us that the car park barrier was still broken, I was therefore a little surprised when we were still charged the £5 parking fee which I felt should have been wavered. On our departure from the car park we had to wait around 15 minutes for a member of staff to answer our call at the barrier to let us out.
Overall we enjoyed our stay at the Thistle East Midland Hotel. The staff were friendly, efficient and cheerful which was nice to see from a chain hotel. Our room was nice, but perhaps a little on the expensive side - I have stayed in similar rooms in other hotels for much cheaper. The leisure facilities were nice enough, albeit a little crowded and on the small side. There was plenty of choice in the restaurant both for breakfast and evening meals. My boyfriend and I were able to have a nice relaxing break and I would certainly consider staying again.
My daughter received these "Little Stars" Peppa Pig headphones from a relative at Christmas, she actually already had a pair of DJ style kids headphones but these were quickly discarded in favour of the ones picturing her favourite Tv character. Although she has only owned them for a few months they have had plenty of use, she has used them with her Innotab 2, 2DS and her sisters MP3 player.
The headphones were presented in thick plastic packaging, through which the headphones could easily be seen. The cardboard insert showed the brand and product name along with a classic picture of Peppa standing on a grassy area with a bright blue sky behind her. The packaging immediately caught my daughters eye, it was bright and fun. I found the plastic easy enough to open with a sharp pair of scissors.
My initial though was that the headphones looked and felt rather flimsy, the plastic felt a little thin and cheap. My daughter however was over the moon with them and loved the design. The headphones have a bright pink headband which is adjustable. The earphone parts are baby blue and each have a picture of Peppa Pig wearing her usual red dress, there is a sun and some clouds behind her. The ear phones are padded inside and my daughter finds them comfortable to wear. There is no "L" or "R"to show which way around the headphones are meant to be placed. The headphones fit my daughter well and do not slip off during use.
The cord is white and rather long it is a little excessive for my daughters needs. It is well attached to the headphones, but I encourage my daughter to take care of them to avoid the possibility of them coming away.
Before writing this review I decided to give the headphones a quick test, the sound quality was okay but a little on the tinny side. My daughter has never complained about the sound quality and I believe they are fine for her needs and age group. I don't think older children would be as easily pleased, but of course I doubt they would be altogether happy about the Peppa Pig design either. The headphones do have a reduced volume, so they will not be loud enough to damage little ears, it also means that my daughter is fully aware of what is going on around her.
As mentioned earlier, my daughter has owned these headphones for a few months now and I have been rather surprised that they have lasted this long. My daughter has used them quite regularly and they have been in and out of her backpack on long journeys too. However, thats not to say that we haven't experienced any problems with them, the main one being the padded ear protectors which continually fall off. We actually lost one of the ear protectors and so my daughters was unable to use the headphones until it was eventually found in the car.
If my daughter was to rate these headphones she would give the full 5 stars as she absolutely love them, but to be fair she loves anything Peppa Pig related. However, I feel they look and feel cheap, they have lasted the past few months but I would be surprised if they were still working in a few months time. The sound quality isn't brilliant and the ear protectors are an absolute pain. To be honest I wouldn't really recommend them to others and would advise buying something of a better quality, its three stars from me.
A quick look online shows the headphones are currently unavailable at Tesco Direct, Amazon and Play.com. Iheadphones.com are currently showing the full RRP to be £15.99 but have them reduced to £10.99. Amazon have the same "Little Stars" brand headphones but with different character designs (eg Ben 10) prices vary.
I have a large box of craft items and accessories which I am constantly adding too, so when my children are off school for half term etc there is always something in there to make and do. I pick craft products up from many places but find Home and Bargain and Poundland are the best places to go. A few weeks back I picked up two packs of these "Make Your Own Sparkling Snake" which I purchased from my local Poundland.
The product is packaged inside a clear plastic bag. Inside is a cardboard slip which shows a picture of what the finished product should look like along with the claim that each pack contains enough materials to make two sparkling snakes. The contents includes:
* Instruction sheet
* EVA snakes
* EVA snake body sheets
* EVA snake tongues
* eye stickers
* x2 glitter glue tubes
* x1 white glue
This product is not suitable for children under 36 months, due to small parts posing a choking hazard. Parental supervision is advised whilst using this product. Of course children's abilities differ regardless of age but personally I would recommend this product for children over two (with supervision).
If you are not completely satisfied with the quality of the product Poundland offer a no quibble refund or replacement.
I first prepared our dining table with a plastic sheet (as I always do during craft time with my children) and the three of us sat down to begin making our Sparkling Snakes. We found the instruction sheet incredibly easy to understand and there were a few black and white pictures included to give us a good idea of what our snakes should look like. The main snake body had small rectangular holes punched around the edges and the body sheets needed to be slotted into these spaces to make the 3D body. My ten year old daughter found this easy enough to do, however my five year old daughter did struggle a little, occasionally the sheets would pop out of place and need to be fixed back in which she round rather frustrating. Once the body had been completed the eyes and tongue needed to be attached and then the snake needed to be decorated with the glitter glue and the rhinestones. Both of my daughters really enjoyed this part and were able to get really creative, we added a few other bits and pieces from our craft box to add extra "bling" to our designs. The snakes took around half an hour to make and then an hour to dry.
My daughters and I enjoyed making these Sparkly Snakes, they were rather simple and the activity didn't take too much time to complete. My five year old found some parts a little frustrating and did need help throughout the activity, my ten year old daughter found it quite simple and I think she would have been fine creating the snake by herself. I quite liked how two snakes could be made with just one pack.
Once dried Poundland claim that the snakes could then be played with, however we found that the EVA body sheets would continually pop out of place and needed to be re-glued a number of times, therefore my daughters quickly tired of playing with them.
My children and I really enjoyed making these Sparkling Snakes, and although I did have a few niggles with the product (eg the EVA sheets popping out of place) but found them to be decent enough for £1.
Some argue that Prisoner Cell Block H was like Marmite, you either loved it or hated it. I disagree, I think the soap is divided by those that loved it and those that said they hated it but secretly loved it. I have lost count of the amount of times someone has noticed one of the Prisoner DVDs proudly displayed on my shelf and declared the show was rubbish yet could roll of the names of characters and explain story lines in depth , yes they did watch it religiosity every weekend but only because it was on late at night when they came home drunk from the pub. I grew up watching Prisoner, I have an incredible fondness for it and a love for the characters who feel like old friends, sadly missed. Whilst kids my age were gossiping about the lives of those who lived on Ramsay Street, I was glued to the antics of these incarcerated women who resided in Wentworth detention centre.
Prisoner has reached cult status and yet there was little information out there on the show, that was until Scott Anderson, Barry Campbell and Rob Cope created this amazing book, " Behind the Bars - The Unofficial Prisoner Cell Block H Companion". I received this book for Christmas and have thoroughly enjoyed taking a stroll down memory lane (or should that be corridor).
Behind the Bars was written by Scott Anderson, Barry Campbell and Rob Cope, founders of the Unofficial Prisoner Cell Block H website "On the Inside", these guys are truly Prisoner fanatics, what they don't know about the shows isn't worth knowing. There is a fab photo of them at the back of the book alongside two of the shows actresses.
The book itself is a paper back and rather large in size, with a rather impressive 311 pages. The glossy cover shows three of the most iconic characters from the show, Top Dog Bea Smith, inmate Lizzie Birdsworth and sadistic Joan Ferguson AKA "The Freak", behind them the brick walls and black gate. There is a nice blurb on the reverse, which is sure to wet any Prisoner fans appetite.
Rather fittingly the book begins with a forward by an Australian icon, Dame Edna Everage. As always, Everage is witty and amusing, she poked fun at the show - most notably its "cardboard" set - but this is all done in a lighthearted friendly manor.
The book is divided up into eleven chapters with an epilogue and appendix at the end. There are plenty of black and white photos throughout, including promotional pictured, on set and Polaroid style continuity shots, how these managed to survive all these years I'll never know. I would describe the book as being a "coffee table" book, it can be dipped in and out and doesn't need to be read in all one go. The earlier chapters concentrate on how the show came to be and the programmes which inspired it along with a reason why it was popular and how it gained cult status.
There is a whole chapter dedicated to Reg Watson the creator of Prisoner and - to name but a few more - Neighbours, Crossroads and The Flying Doctors and Sons & Daughters. It offers an extremely interesting and insightful view into this mans career whom the writers declare to be " The King of Soap".
It is fair to say that Prisoner was made on a budget (I know, shocking right?). Its actual setting was the Channel Ten studio, both inside and outside. There was a rumour a few years ago that the building was due to be demolished, but it never happened and the grounds now serve the purpose of being the gardens for the Ramsay Street residents, with the actual channel 10 studio popping into view on occasion in the distance - but I digress. There is some great information on how they prepared the building to look more like a prison, how the sets were created and the improvisations that were undertaken to make it all look believable, with plenty of quotes and opinions from those who were there creating, making and maintaining it.
There is a small article written by Jennifer Carmen who worked in the wardrobe department who gives an incredible account of what her job entailed whilst working on the set. She talks about how the famous denim outfits were chosen and how the different styles (eg overalls, dress) were given to suit each character.
I am sure everyone will remember the Prisoner Cell Block H theme, go on hum a few bars and you'll be singing it all day. I always found the theme song to be really fitting to the show, but its rather sad and melancholy and actually quite a nice song in its own right. The book wouldn't be complete without a nod to the songs writer Allan Caswell, singer Lynne Hamilton and how it came to be one of the most easily recognisable TV show themes of all time (to those of a certain age anyways!)
Each of the chapters from three through to ten are divided up into a specific year and episode numbers. For example, chapter three is "1979 - Episodes 1-79", jump to chapter 10 ands its "1986 - Episodes 589 - 692" - the last ever episode (sob sob). I really like how they have set the book out in such a way and I think it works well, I find it easy to locate a particular "era" I feel like reading about. Each chapter is typically 20 - 25 pages long, each one has been given a small introduction which set the scene of the year. I was particularly impressed that the writers gave each year the same amount of attention, those who remember Prisoner will probably be more familiar with the earlier episodes rather than the later ones, which in my opinion are equally as good, if not better. The chapters consist of key story lines, a variety of photos, interviews and character information. Of course, there are rather large sections of the most popular and longest running characters such as Bea Smith, Judy Bryant and Meg Morris but the writers have included plenty information on other notable characters too.
When the gates slammed shut for a final time in 1986 many sighed a relief that the show was finally over, however neither the stars nor the die hard fans were ready to say goodbye and this is the subject of Chapter 11 "Prisoner Recaptured". From the 1990 "great escape tour" to the musical staring Lily Savage there are plenty of facts and photos about life after the show. There is also a brief mentioning of the new Prisoner Cell Block H remake "Wentworth", this show is either loved or hated by Prisoner devotees, I fall into the latter category - when oh when will they stop remaking all the great things I loved from my childhood?
The epilogue titled "The Last Rose" examines Prisoners popularity and cult status, and the reasons why it is still so well loved by fans even though its last episode was originally shown nearly 30 years ago.
Finally, we have the appendix which is 31 pages and contains a brief synopsis for each and every episode.
Behind the bars really is the ultimate Prisoner Cell Block H companion, it is essential for any fan of the show and will be cherished and much loved. My book is always out and about, I dip into it when I have a spare ten minutes and when I next look up half an hour has passed! The authors have done a fantastic job and created a beautiful informative book which does the programme proud, well done guys "your bloods worth bottling".
Currently priced at £28.50* with free super saver delivery on Amazon.
* Feb 14
I do quite a lot of my food shopping online now, particularly with Tesco or via the Asda app. On the whole I find it a lot quicker and less stressful than a regular shop. Online Supermarkets will tend to "sub" or substitute an item if the particular one chosen is not available at time of picking. This is how I came to have 2 packs of Asda's Smart price crumpets in my kitchen, instead of one pack of my regular crumpets.
The Asda Smart Price crumpets come presented in a plastic wrapper which looks very cheap and budget like with its simple green and white design. The brand and product name are clearly displayed on the front. There is a nice large "V" sign to show us it is suitable for vegetarians, I like how Asda so prominently display their veggie signs, no endlessly searching for the tiny print somewhere on the back, (Tesco, I'm talking to you!). The packaging also shows a "ice" symbol meaning it can be frozen. The rest of the packaging is clear so you can see the rather flat looking crumpets inside, there is no cardboard insert to keep the crumpets safely in place.
General information is given on the back including ingredients, allergy advice, storage, cooking instructions, nutritional and disposal. Don't worry, I am not about to list all this here in my review I imagine most of it is readily available on Asda's website should you be interested.
Asda claim that these crumpets are free from artificial colours, flavours or hydrogenated fat and thats all they promise, they certainly don't proclaim that these are the best tastiest crumpets in the world, but then they are priced at just 37p for 6, so I wasn't expecting them to be.
The crumpets themselves look a lot like any other crumpet really, except they are smaller and flatter, they lack that thickness and depth of a posher crumpet. I popped two in my toaster, they took just a few minutes to cook, although you may like them toaster a little more or a little less. I placed a small curled up scoop of butter on each crumpet and took a bite.
On biting into the crumpet I felt the crunch from the bottom layer, it was pretty hard and not entirely pleasant. I found the top part to be really chewy, it wasn't soft and fluffy like a crumpet should be and it lacked any real depth, or flavour for that matter.
I cant really say I was overly disappointed by these Asda Smart price crumpets, as I didn't have high hopes for them to begin with. Not due to their budget packaging, but for the general look of them through it. They are far to thin, the texture of the crunchy base and chewy top just don't work together at all. I disliked them so much I couldn't eat anymore, I gave the rest to the kids who didn't seem to notice much of a difference, perhaps I am a crumpet snob?
Come on Asda, even on a Smart price item you can do better than this!
At the weekend I met up with some friends in the city centre for lunch, we had a great time but after the meal I felt a terrible case of indigestion coming on. I popped into the Poundland over the road in search for something to help relieve the terrible sensation, I noticed these Rennie Spearmint tablets and decided to give them a go.
Rennies Spearmint tablets come presented in a red cardboard box, the brand and "flavour" are clearly displayed on the front along with a picture of one of the tablets.
General information is given on the back including ingredients, dosage guide and cautions, all of which should be read thoroughly before use. The manufactured and best before date is given on the bottom, mine was manufactured 09/13 and has an expiry date of 9/16, so I have plenty of time to use them up.
Each tablet is contained within the usual plastic blister pack. Just a small amount of pressure is needed to release the tablet. The tablets are white and square, they have "Rennie" written on them in capital letters.
It is suggested to take 2 tablets and to either suck or chew them. The tablets have a nice almost crunchy texture to them, but they quickly melt in the mouth. They are not really chalky, especially compared to Gaviscon tablets which get stuck in your teeth, in fact they left no after residues behind in my mouth.
My particular tablets had a "spearmint" flavour , although other varieties are available including Ice, Orange and Peppermint. For me the taste reminded me of spearmint chewing gum and whilst it wasn't particularly unpleasant I would still probably try a different flavour next time. It was a rather mild taste too, which I was quite thankful for.
After about ten minutes I began to feel much better and within half an hour the intergestion has disappeared altogether and I was able to enjoy my afternoon out with my friends.
I would certainly buy Rennie tablets again, but as I mentioned earlier I would probably go for a different flavour next time.
I was recently selected to sample a new product in the Vosene kids range. I was sent a 50ml bottle of the 3 in 1 conditioning shampoo with head lice repellent. I used the sample on my daughters hair, the bottle lasted around two weeks.
Vosene Kids 3 in 1 conditioning shampoo comes presented in a lime green plastic bottle, the vibrant colours really stand out and there would be no confusing it for a different brand, it certainly fits in with the Vosene look.
General information is given on the back including ingredients, cautions and directions for use, all of which should be read thoroughly before use. The product has been dermatologically tested, looking at the ingredients list I can see it contains parabens. Once opened the product should be used within 12 months.
Vosene claim this shampoo has three functions, it cleans the hair, conditions it and "defends" hair against head lice. My youngest daughter started reception in September and over the past few months she has come home with head lice a few times, so I was very happy to try this product.
The shampoo itself is colourless, it is clear and of a gel like consistency. I found only a small amount needed to be applied to my daughters hair and it lathered up well creating lots of white foamy bubbles. The shampoo washed out easily too, according to Vosene no added conditioner is needed.
I was expecting the product to have a very strong fragrance to it, however I was surprised to discover it was actually quite mild in scent. It does have that tea tree smell to it which is a little medicinal but not altogether unpleasant. The fragrance did not stick around for long and within a few hours could no longer be detected, which did leave me questioning how effective it would be at repelling head lice. My daughter did not really comment on the fragrance.
After use, my daughters hair was left clean and smelling quite fresh. The first time I used the shampoo I used it without conditioner and found my daughters hair to be a little more difficult to comb than usual, so I ended up purchasing an additional tea tree conditioner to use along side it.
During the few weeks we used the shampoo my daughters hair was head lice free, however as far as I am aware there were actually no cases of head lice in her class during that time (the school usually send text messages if there are). So, I cannot be 100% sure if the product did actually work at repelling head lice and will just have to take Vosenes word for it.
I felt that Vosesne's 3 in 1 shampoo worked well at cleaning the hair, however it failed at leaving the hair conditioned and I needed to use a separate product for this. The fragrance was a little on the weak side and I was not entirely convinced at how effective it woukd be at repelling head lice.
A 250ml bottle is currently priced at £2.49 on the Boots website, which I feel is a little expensive really. Should I see it on offer for around half that price I would certainly try the product again, but would also purchase an additional conditioner to go with it.