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For months now I've watched with interest as I got on the train each morning for my commute to work and watched what felt like every passenger pull out their Amazon Kindle and begin to read.
It would be around this point that I would realise that once again I had left the book I'd meant to bring with me at home, and would turn in desperation to the free newspaper left by another commuter.
After a few not-so-subtle hints to my better half I received the Amazon Kindle Wi-Fi for Christmas. The Kindle came in gorgeous brown cardboard box which I stroked and admired for a good few minutes before opening it up further. Inside the box was the Kindle itself, a beautiful, slimline, lightweight and very, very exciting piece of kit. Also in the box was a small information leaflet (The Quick Start Guide).
The quick start guide has only two pages in english; one which show an annotated diagram of the kindle, allowing you to easily locate the buttons, and the other which has a small paragraph on how to charge your kindle.
The Kindle has a few different button to get used to. On the base of the kindle is the power button - this is the button that wakes your kindle from sleep mode.
On the front of the kindle there is a 5 way controller arrow pad to help you negate the menus and select options by pressing the centre. Next to this arrow pad are four more buttons; 'Menu', 'Home', 'Keyboard' and 'Back'. At either side of the kindle are a 'previous page' and 'next page' button.
The buttons are all relatively intuitive and the diagram in the quick start kit makes it quite clear which button is which. The only problem I've encountered is that for some reason all these months later I still look for the power button on the top of the kindle.
Ease of Use
At first I thought there was a sticker on the screen of my kindle, so clear and crisp was the image that was on it. Once I realised it was actually part of the screen I pressed the power button which woke my kindle from sleep mode. My lovely boyfriend had registered my kindle already and pre-loaded it with my favourite books but he has assured me that this was quite a simple task. (As he managed to do this himself where normally has to ask for my help for anything remotely technological I'm quite inclined to believe him).
I found the menus strange to navigate through at first but quickly got used to how they work.
The Kindle is available in 3G or Wi-Fi. I own the Wi-Fi model (which I had not-so-subtly hinted was the one I wanted). Although 3G is useful for people who want to download books on the go I knew that Wi-Fi would be enough for me. I connect to my wireless internet connection at home and tend to download a few books in a go so I know I always have plenty to read.
Buying books on the kindle is very simple. You can purchase on your kindle - after connecting your kindle to the internet you head to the kindle store from the main menu and can search a large collection of free and chargeable books by author, title, genre, chart listing... etc. You need an Amazon account to do this, but you link this up to your kindle at the start when you register your device. Chargeable books start from about 59p, with chart books generally selling for a couple of pounds less than their paper brethren.
Alternatively you can browse the kindle book-store on the Amazon website on your computer/laptop/tablet/whatever and download the book you want there. The next time your kindle is connected to the internet your chosen book will be downloaded automatically to your kindle.
Downloading the books is a very fast process, as soon as you click to buy your chosen book the book is delivered to your kindle in seconds.
As I mentioned the e-book availability is great, but if you are searching for a book that isn't yet available for the kindle you can register an interest on the Amazon website for the kindle version and can be informed if/when it becomes available to download. So far the only books that I've wanted that I haven't been able to get are text books for a course that I'm studying.
Reading on the Kindle
Having been an avid reader for many years I have always loved books. When the kindle first came out I remember thinking that I would never want one because I love the feel of holding a book, knowing how close you are to the end, and not to mention that 'new book smell'. My concerns came flooding back to me as I opened my kindle for the first time, what if I hated it? What if it sat unused and unloved?
Worry not, gentle reader, I found that far from missing the feel of a book I began to love the feel of my kindle. Weighing less than 170grams means I can read in bed comfortably, holding it above me without my arms getting tired, even holding it in one hand when I want. The slight touch of the button needed to turn the page, (or return to a previous page) means that I don't have to change position each time I reach the end of a page.
At the bottom of the kindle screen as you read is a progress bar which shows you graphically how far through your current book you are, has markings for each chapter, and an arrow to show you where you were up to when you most recently started reading the book again.
Reading on the Kindle screen is so crisp and clear, and feels like reading from a well printed book. The font size is easily adjustable so that older readers can increase the font size rather than reaching for their reading glasses.
The battery lasts around a month (as long as you disconnect the wi-fi when not in use), and compared to the regularity with which I have to charge my phone/ipod/laptop I feel like I never have to charge it!
Clever little kindle!
Value for Money
At £89 for the Kindle Wi-Fi there are cheaper e-readers available. But I would pay the money for a Kindle, I could not be happier with it or recommend it more. That I can carry multiple books around with me at any one time and not be weighed down is amazing!
The only thing I miss is being able to pass on a book that I've really enjoyed to a friend or family member. Now I can only recommend that they buy or borrow it from somebody else, and hope that they remember to do so.
Thanks for reading!
Originally posted on Ciao under same username
Skiing at Lake Louise was such an amazing experience for me. I went for a week at the very end of the season this year and it was the best snow I have ever seen!
This was only my second time skiing (the first was France at christmas) and has helped boost my confidence so much. The runs are very wide and there are some great long runs for beginners. From every lift there is a green run which meant i could spend a lot more time with the rest of my party who are all a lot better skiiers than me. This also meant there were non of the panic attacks I had in France when I was getting pulled onto a lift without knowing where it lead to or which runs would let me get down.
Another really noticible difference to Europe is the queues for lifts, mainly there were non existant but when there was a bit of a queue you really notice there is none of the pushing in and "every man for himself" mentality you get in Europe. I think a lot is due to the fantastic ski instructors, who don't just let anyone having a lesson push right in at the front.
As the runs were so wide they were really good for nervous beginners such as myself as there was loads of room for faster skiiers to pass without getting too close. There were plenty of times over the week where you would be on a run and feel like you had the whole mountain to yourself. It was such an amazing experience.
I stayed mainly on the green runs as I really wanted to build up my confidence after France and not do anything that would scare me too much; the best areas for beginners are the deer run which is a long run right down the front of the mountain, and the run down the back of the mountain to the larch area, and then from larch area there are two shorter very easy going runs (Marmot and look out). If you are a beginner such as myself I would avoid the ski out run from the larch area to the lodge of the ten peaks as it is so flat that unless you can start it with some serious speed it involved a lot of skating and is very hard work- by the end I had stripped down to a t-shirt I was so hot from all the extra work. However if you can build up some speed this is a beautiful run with an amazing and tranquil track through the forest.
My experience at Lake Louise has completely built up my confidence, and I just can't wait to get out on the pistes again. It was a fantastic week and I would love to go back there as soon as I can afford to.
Obviously it is a bit more costly than Europe but in my humble opinion was completely worth it!
The food on the slopes was reasonably priced, better than expected and a good choice of sandwhiches, salads and hot foods. One place I would definately recommend its The Powder Keg which is upstairs at the Lodge of the ten peaks. Try the ceaser salads and the pizzas but beware the portion sizes are HUGE, you will need the "bottomless soda" to refresh you!
Ski Hire at lake louise was another perfectly simple process that fares so much better when compared to my experience in France. There is a computer system where you enter all your details (height, weight category, capability, etc). Which you then take to pick up your boots, skis and poles. I had a problem with my boots which was resolved easily and quickly by the very capable and approachable staff. Another point I feel is worth mentioning regarding ski hire is that one of my party took ill on the last day and we returned his boots not expecting any refund but were offered a full refund for the last day.
If you have the opportunity you should definately visit Lake Louise, although spend a day at neighbouring resort Sunshine if you can too- it is also an experience not to missed!
When we first arrived at Lake Louise Inn we immediately got an impression of the mayhem that would follow...
We arrived late at night, and due to some confusion with an upgrade we had made were sent to the wrong room by a bemused night porter. There were five of us- the room we were sent to had two beds...? Two of our party returned to reception to try to sort out the problem whilst the other three of us huddled in the doorway of the wrong room trying to escape the freezing conditions.
Whilst waiting we got talking to a young canadian man who had got locked out of his room in just a t-shirt and trousers. He was on a business trip and his doorlock (card-reader) had malfunctioned and all his work was locked inside. The night security guards attempt to solve the problem did not fill us with confidence about our own problems.
It was at this point that we began to realise the missing members of our party had been gone a while. By this point it was 2AM and after a full days travelling we were more than ready for bed!
Eventually our party members returned; the confused night porter had sent them to another room; this one had enough beds yes- but unfortunately they had people sleeping in them. I wonder if they ever realised that people had come into their apartment room whilst they slept?
Eventually we arrived in the right room. An apartment room with an upstairs loft containing a double bed and an ensuite toilet and shower. The downstairs had a living area with a bathroom and a secondary bedroom with a bunkbed and a single bed.
The apartment was clean and comfortable, although the decor was a little dated. There was a lack of privacy for the master bedroom though, as the door was only a stable door and there was a balcany rather than a full length wall. The apartment had most of the mod-cons you would expect a modern hotel room to have; televisions (one in the living area, and one in the master bedroom); alarm clocks in the bedrooms; coffee maker, etc.
The Lake Louise Inn boasts a heated (i would dispute that) swimming pool and hot tub. There is supposedly a steam room although this was out of order at the time of our visit and reception staff informed up would be for the next four or so months!
One thing that the Inn does get right is food, there's a restaurant, an italian and a bar serving food- You can even get pizza from the italian delivered to your room. The sevice in the whole of the Lake Louise area was impeccable, and you can expect no less than that at the Inn.
Our stay in the Lake Louise Inn although not perfect was incredibly enjoyable, Lake Louise is a beautiful area, and the skiing is unsurpassed. The Inn is only a few (free) bus minutes away from the ski resort.
In all honesty I would defintely visit Lake Louise again, however I would not stay at the Lake Louise Inn.