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My husband, lovely as he is, decided to buy me a new car, and after weighing up different options we opted for Carland. The closest showroom to us is Enfield so we took a look at their website www.carland.co.uk . The site was well put together, with everything I needed you could even apply for finance online, which is what we did. A few days later we received a phone call from Carland stating that we had been approved finance and would we like an appointment to view some cars. I made an appointment for the following weekend and we started checking their website regularly for any updates and bargains. Our appointment was for 10am but seeing as we weren?t sure what the traffic was like on Sunday?s we left early. Carland was very easy to find, situated along the A10 at Enfield Retail park. You can see it from the road so you can?t miss it. We arrived with half an hour to spare until our appointment and seeing as our sales rep hadn?t arrived we started to look around. There was a play area for the kids - so they were happy to stay there while we made up our minds. The choice of cars was good, cars to suit all tastes and pockets. We picked out a couple we liked and went back to reception to see if our rep had arrived. She hadn?t, but it was only ten to ten so we got ourselves a coffee and sat at reception to wait for her. This is, I regret to say, where things took a turn for the worse, we waited at reception for over an hour. There were many members of staff standing around and not one asked if we were ok, or offered to help us. After I could take no more I went up to a member of staff and complained. He directed me to the other side of the showroom to the offices and told me to ask them to ring her. In the office they fobbed me off with excuses that she had changed her mobile number recently and they didn?t have her new one yet and offered no more help at all. My husband and I were just about to leave when the man I had complained to took our details and took us to his desk. We showed him the car we wanted and he took us for a test drive - Great - finally we were getting somewhere. He took all our details and gave us a couple of forms to fill out and about 15 minuets later he came back with our credit agreement. We were then taken to deliveries and told to wait to be called, he wished us luck and left us with another staff member. He informed us that our details would hve to be faxed to their credit brokers and that this would take about an hour - could be two and then we could drive away our new car. We went and sat with the kids and waited, the time dragged by and I felt like I?d been there all day. Two hours later I?d just about had enough and went to find someone in the office. There was no one there. Finding the sales rep who took our details I asked him to find out what was going on - he just couldn?t believe we were still there - nor could I! Anyway, it seemed that the only person who could fax the broker was the girl who we had an appointment with that morning, she however had called in sick and no one had bothered to tell us. We left in disgust and have since bought a car elsewhere.
Last month we decided to buy a new computer, we opted for Curry?s simply because they had the credit options we wanted. We went to the newest shop in Leyton Retail Park and looked at their selection. The choice wasn?t bad and the staff, if somewhat a bit slow, seemed to know what they were talking about. We picked out a decent machine and asked for the credit option. We got the credit and was told that our computer would be in store for us to pick up in less than a week - I was more than happy. A little under a week later on a Thursday I received a message on my answer machine to say our computer was ready to be picked up so I phoned the shop to ask if I could go and get it the following morning. The girl on the other end of the phone had no idea what I was talking about. She went to check if it had come in, but told me it hadn?t. After spending the next half an hour on the phone I found out that it wasn?t being delivered until the next Tuesday. I could live with that. On the Tuesday morning I phoned Curry?s to be told that I could go and collect the PC after 4 pm, so after collecting my children from school I drove to Leyton. When I arrived at the store staff there told me that no deliveries had come in that day but went to check anyway..Yes, you?ve guessed it - no computer. I wasn?t to happy at having driven there when I didn?t have to so I asked to see the manager, he wasn?t there! I was told that according to the call centre my PC would be ready for collection the next Thursday, I asked for a guarantee but was told this was not possible as sometimes things go missing before they are put on the lorry! On Thursday I drove back to Curry?s and I arrived there at about lunchtime, to be told by yet another staff member that they couldn?t find my PC. They were however, expecting a delivery at 3pm so told me to come back at 4 O?clock. I collected my children and my husband and we set off back to Curry?s at around 5pm that d ay. . Hurray my computer was there, but the monitor wasn?t! We were told we would have to wait another week for the monitor, which as far as I was concerned was just not acceptable. So on Saturday we set off to PC World thinking we would return the original to Curry?s and get another model from them. Did you know that PC World is owned by Curry?s? Well you can?t have credit at both because they are the same to we just had to wait. The manager at Leyton finally came up trumps for us and managed to get our monitor for us in less than 48 hours he also let us go and collect it before the shop opened, so he kind of made amends for his staff. If they had told me I had to wait three weeks I would have, it was just all the messing around driving there and back for nothing I was annoyed at - my advice? Go to Simply Computers and avoid Curry?s if you want a PC fast.
I had been invited to visit Oxford with a US friend of mine, and seeing as neither of us had ever been before we decided to stay the night there. I looked around online for a room for the night as we’d decided to share, and found that most of the advertised accommodation was in fact guest houses. I wanted a private bathroom and I saw the Travel Inn website. Looking further all rooms had an adjoining bathroom and there was one just two miles outside Oxford City centre, perfect. Reservation was simple, there was a host of numbers, online booking was unavailable, so I rang central reservations, gave my credit card details, address and contact number and we were all set. I wasn’t quite sure of the way to the hotel so I rang at a later date and asked if it was possible for them to mail me a map or directions. I was told that the hotel only had fax capabilities. They did give me the road name however, so I got very accurate directions using AOL Travel Direction Finder. Central reservations had told me that check in was only available after 2 p.m. so we set out at midday. I found the hotel easily, you can't miss the sleeping moon sign on the outside and we made it by quarter to two. There was ample parking and sign posting was good. We made our way to reception, crossing a little bridge over a man made stream. After checking in and signing a small form, we were asked if we wanted breakfast. Taken aback at the question we asked what there was and were informed that we could either have English or Continental, opting for English we were asked to pay. The room was £50 and the breakfast £6 each. Reception gave us our room key and told us that our room was in another building. We found our room eventually, which was a double and a smoking room. It was impossible to miss the smoking section, as you could smell it a mile away. I don’t think the corridors had been cleaned since the hotel was built. Using our card to open the door we looked around. There was a double bed, a wardrobe without doors, a chair, a desk with a TV on and two mirrors. I thought I'd call my mum who was babysitting for me and tell her I'd arrived but I couldn’t find the phone, I searched the whole room but no there was no phone. My friend looked in the bathroom calling me to see the toiletries that were provided. There was none, except a very small bar of soap. Now I ask you to imagine the smallest bar of soap in the world, it was one inch by one inch, oh well we'll have to find a chemist! We decided to go and look around Oxford, so while my friend was changing I sat on the chair and turned on the TV. Noticing that the Info channel didn't work, I looked a little more closely at the room. There were stains all over the carpet, the curtains were filthy, and then my eyes caught the bed. On one side of the bed was a stain, a stain that looked suspiciously like urine. Pulling back the sheets I noticed that the stain covered almost one half of the mattress. I was horrified, and I decided there and then and there that we weren't staying in this room. Seeing as there was no phone in the room we had to leave our building and walk across the car park to reception. We complained about the room, asking if the manager would accompany us back to the room to have a look. The staff at reception asked if we’d like a refund and to find another hotel, but as we are a lazy pair we opted for another room. I also informed the staff that we didn’t have a phone to be told "That's right you don't." surprised I wanted to know why not, it turns out that no Travel Inn rooms have a phone. If you need to make a call you have to use the public phone box and the end of your floor. Working this out I realised that there was no room service either. It also turns out that there are no hair dryers provided in the rooms or for hire by the hotel. Our second room was next door to the one we had just vacated, exactly the same layout and almost as dirty. I really was not satisfied, and seeing as we'd paid £50 for this room, which by today's standards is average I remembered the signs all over reception. "100% Satisfaction Guaranteed or your money back" I made my way, in the rain, back to reception. By this time I was fairly peeved. I wanted to know exactly what we have paid £50 for and I had decided that if I was not offered a suitable room I was going to take the refund and go hotel hunting. After a debate I was offered a room in the non-smoking area of the hotel I took the key telling her that I would look at it. My friend and I decided that this room was adequate and after all we had spent enough time room swapping. After handing our second room key into reception we headed out for the evening. Upon our return the fire alarm was ringing in our building. Again we trotted across the car park to reception to tell them that the alarm was ringing. Reception was empty and there seemed to be no bell or way of alerting anyone. I looked around and saw that the computers were still on so I shouted for a member of staff. A man appeared from a back room and told us he would deal with the alarm. We returned to our room and I slept in my clothes on top of the bed. I really didn’t trust the cleanliness of this hotel at all. I woke up at 8 a.m. and went to the bathroom. I didn’t test the shower, as I didn’t have a hairdryer, so I had a bath instead. The water was hot but the towels were tiny. I dried myself using two hand towels. I made some coffee using the few sachets provided in the room and we decided to make our way to reception side for breakfast. Breakfast was a buffet. There was plenty of food consisting of bacon, scrambled eggs, mushrooms tomatoes, and sausages. Also provided was cereal and fruit juice. It all looked very nice, but w hat I really wanted was some coffee. The food was unlimited, but the coffee was limited to a mug per person. I grabbed a plate and put some bacon, mushrooms and scrambled eggs on it. Now I thought the room was bad, I can tell you the food was worse. The bacon was hard and tasted of oil, the mushrooms were overcooked and also tasted of oil and the egg was like water. I couldn’t eat it, so I asked for a slice of toast, which was brought. Leaving the breakfast room we vowed never to stay at a Travel Inn again and I vowed to write an opinion to warn anyone else thinking of staying at one.
The Kensington Hilton is probably one of the most famous Hilton's in London, the first being the Hilton Park Lane for it's grandeur if nothing else. The Kensington Hilton is situated in Holland Park, a charming and exquisite area of London minutes from Notting Hill, Earls Court and Shepherds Bush. Public transport is abundant within this area of London, Holland Park Tube Station is east of the hotel while Shepherds Bush is west of it. Only one bus passes by the hotel and that is number 94, although the number 49 stops just round the corner in Holland Road. The Kensington Hilton, according to their website has 603 guestrooms, executive floors which include their own check in, and suites which boast a living room as well as an impressive king sized bedroom. This particular Hilton also has three restaurants and a bar, which are open to all visitors as well as guests of the hotel. I have driven past the Kensington Hilton many times on my way to various destinations in West London and hardly noticed the modern pleasantly lit building anymore. Although I had been meaning to visit the Hikoro Japanese Restaurant within the hotel for a long time. What with me being a celebrity junkie Hikoro is somewhere worthwhile to visit. As a treat recently my partner and I decided to stay in the hotel for a night, and even though check in is usually 2pm the hotel staff found us a room at 10am. The staff were incredibly helpful, if a little slow, and informed us of the option of becoming a Hilton Member. This service has the advantages of The Hilton keeping members details on file making future reservations and booking easier and quicker. The process of joining is easy and efficient. All you have to do is fill out a form allowing them to put your name, address and requirements in to their computer system. In return they give you a member number, which you quote in future reservations and bookings. The standard advertised price of a single pe rson staying is between £75 and £85 a night, with two people sharing the price is slightly higher. Obviously the executive floors are more expensive varying between £109 and £190 a night, and suites start at £200 a night. Do check with the reception desk at the hotel though as usually you will be able to get a better deal. Also don’t forget to check the Hilton website for any special offers. ( www.hilton.co.uk ) Our room was not on the executive floor, but was of a higher quality than a standard room. We paid £90 a night for our room and I considered it to be a bargain. Later in the day we decided to bring our children to the hotel and treat them too. I phoned down to reception and asked if we could have a twin room for our 8 and 13 year old daughters. I was asked if I would like the children near me and of course I said yes no more than two doors away. After waiting for a few minutes for reception to ring back we were told that the hotel had managed to give us the room next door for our daughters. Now I could relax. I decided to give the rooms the once over and I will give you a brief description… Our room had a double bed, a large Television encased in it’s own wooden cabinet, writing desk and chair and in the corner of the room by the window was an armchair, behind which was a standard lamp. The décor was simple, beige and cream walls and a red patterned carpet. The bathroom consisted of a bath with a shower a vanity sink a toilet. On a closer inspection I noticed that there was a large wardrobe and inside was a trouser press. An extra pillow was inside and enough hangers for a short stay. Next to the wardrobe was a fridge and on top of that was a tray with a small electric kettle and sachets of coffee, tea sugar, and little pots of crème. The bed had white crisp sheets, a blanket and a red bedspread that matched the carpet. Over the bed on each side were wall lamps within easy reach and with a pleasant night-light. Also, on either side were two bedside tables each with their own phone. The carpet in the room went up the wall and it had no skirting boards. The bathroom had a heavy-duty floor and even though the showerhead was loose it had a powerful spray which could be set wider or thinner by a small knob on the showerhead itself. The wall above the sink was completely mirrored, and next to the door was a big brown box. On further inspection this turned out to be a hairdryer, it wasn't very powerful but it did the job. On the side were complimentary soap, shower gel and shampoo. However, if you were thinking of staying at the Hilton I would suggest taking your own conditioner as I found the shampoo alone inadequate. The twin room was exactly the same as the double except it had twin beds. Both rooms had fully adjustable air conditioning, which was easy to use. As my children were staying there I decided to phone down and ask if the adult Television channels could be turned off, and the fridge which was a mini bar locked. Both were done, but it took staff at least half an hour to lock the bar. Thankfully my daughters heeded my warnings about playing with the bar in the meantime. My husband and I had both taken showers and the room was in a bit of a mess, so I decided to see what happened if I hung a room cleaning sign on our door. We headed out for a while and upon our return the room had been cleaned. Fresh towels, new soap and the room hovered. I had left a magazine on the desk and it was gone. I hadn't read it so I rang housekeeping informing them that my mag had been swiped. I was told that the housekeeping manager would look into it and bring me a new one of mine could not be found. Less than 15 minutes later the manager was at my door with my magazine telling me that the maid thought it was rubbish. She obviously had because the cover was all wet and soggy, but he didn’t offer me a new one. The room all seemed very nice so I thought I'd make a phone call to a friend to tell her where I was. Hanging on the phone was a list of charges and I can tell you they weren't cheap. Local calls were charged at 69p a minute while mobile and international calls were charged at a whopping £4.23 a minute. I thought I'd look at the room service and mini bar prices after seeing what the phone cost. The mini bar was very expensive, considering that we'd already paid a near enough a hundred pounds for the room, A coke cost £1.80 for a small bottle and over £3.00 for a sprit. There was a warning on the price list. "Please note that our mini bar is fitted with sensors. If you remove an item from the bar it will automatically be charged to your account. Therefor it is advised that our guests do not use the bar for their own items." The room service menu was much the same with a sandwich priced at over £6.00, and meals at around £15. But we were treating ourselves so we ordered the children some ice cream, my husband a pizza and I had a piece of chocolate gateau. I certainly couldn’t complain about the portions and the presentation of the food, but the quality I felt was poor. The children's ice cream was good, although a little rich for them. The pizza looked good but it tasted like a frozen pizza from Sainsburys. My gateau was poor in flavour and soggy, and I felt not worth the £6.00 I'd paid for a thin piece. We booked a wake up call for 7.30am, which cost us two pounds, and I slept like a log. The hotel was quiet and the bed very comfortable. The temperature of the room we set using the air conditioning and even though I opened the window the room was not cold. To be honest I could have stayed another couple of nights, but our budget wouldn’t allow it. All in all and enjoyable experience, although I felt that with the prices of the room that the little extras like the mini bar could have been a little more reasonably priced. I'd say that if I were going to stay at the Hilton in the future I would take in my own snacks. Perhaps we'll try a suite next time.
Some US friends were on a visit to London recently, and after dining at some expensive restaurants we decided to try somewhere local to my friends flat. We made reservations for Café Med. Kensington Park Road London W11. My husband and I were a little late, as the traffic was horrendous as usual into West London. Still we made it within 10 minutes of our reserved time. As soon as I entered the restaurant I noticed the lighting. It was dim, they would probably describe it as subdued, but I would say almost non-existent. This did not bode well for me, as I never trust a restaurant that doesn't let you see the food you are eating. Still, my five friends wanted to stay and we were all starving so we went downstairs to the basement to our table. We were seated at a wooden table with wooden chairs that looked like it would be better placed in my grandmother's kitchen. Above our heads was a fairly large pipe constantly gushing from what I imagined to be the kitchens. We were given the menus, and chose our food. I decided to have Pasta, safe enough choice I assumed. My friends decided to have steak, which arrived half an hour later, on it's own in the middle of a large plate. There was not enough room on our table for the six of us and our waiter was indifferent and unhelpful. I resorted to putting some of the clutter onto the next table, which was thankfully empty. My pasta was greasy, and tasteless, so I used my side order of green salad to help soak up the grease. I didn't work and I left the dish uneaten. Needing more drink I called the waiter over and asked for a bottle of water, he nodded looking bored and didn't return for forty minuets. When he did eventually come back I asked about my water and he said "ok, I'll get you some.." nonchalantly. The bill came to over £140, which for the food was exorbitant, and all I could think about was getting out of the cramped smoky atmos phere, so we paid it and left. Much to my horror my American friend left a hefty tip, saying that waiters / waitresses don't make much money. As far as I was concerned, I would have been happier if our waiter didn’t get paid at all for the service he reluctantly gave us. If you want my advice, and are thinking of dining in local Notting Hill then try 192 a couple of doors away from Café Med.
Is it that time of year again already? Christmas seems to come earlier nowadays, or maybe it's just that I'm getting older and the years are seemingly shorter. As soon as I take out the Christmas tree the atmosphere changes in my house, or at least the kids are too busy preparing for the big day they don't argue as much. I spend a few days getting the tree right and usually end up changing the decorations around to maximise the glow of the lights. We had a few problems last year, my youngest daughter was only nine months old, and therefor the tree ended up lying flat and crumpled more than once. It was only when my six-foot high tree fell on her and she was tangled within the branches that I decided I had to take swift action. I put my pride and joy back under the stairs, and bought a small, light, tinsel one. I decided to do my food shopping in the early hours, I won't do that again my local Sainsbury's was busier than I have ever seen it during the day, and didn't have hardly any food! We usually all descend on my mum for Christmas dinner, but being the only daughter it is inevitable that I do my fair share of the work. My dad always cooks the pork on Christmas Eve, and takes great pride in doing so. He puts it in the oven on a very slow heat at around 11 p.m. and by Christmas morning it's cooked to perfection and ready for us all to start picking at it. Christmas is for the kids, and there is no sight worth watching in the entire world more than their little faces as they rip the paper off their presents. It was all over way to quickly for my liking last year, so I made a mental note to start buying stocking fillers during the summer. After we've all eaten, I help my mum wash up and we all sit watching whatever is the Christmas Special from David Jason. By this time it’s gone 8 and my darling children are getting fed up with the few toys and nanny's and p repare to whine until I get my coat. We head home, which luckily is only round the corner and the kids disappear into their room. I take out the mountain of meat my mum has wrapped in foil and make us all a sandwich and a cup of tea, then my husband and I sit and watch the big movie of the year. The little ones are asleep before we know it and I sit in the dark, with just the glow of the tree lights soaking up the wonderful atmosphere that only comes on Christmas Day.
Well I have to admit that I am a bit of a Robbie freak, and even though I have all the CD's and hours of Robbie tape I had not seen Robbie Williams live in concert before November 2 2000. My friends and I arrived at The London Arena in Docklands at 5 p.m., when we saw the length of the queue we all said that we should have arrived before 3 in the afternoon. As we had standing tickets, and were hoping for front row (wasn't everybody?) our hearts sank. We needn't have worried though, it turned out that the vast majority of the hundreds of people queuing in the rain had seats. I remember thinking to myself, how strange that all these people with reserve seats decided to stand in the rain, and sit through Crispin Mills. The doors opened a little after 6 p.m., to a huge sigh of relief from the wet throng of people. The security staff were very efficient and we were inside the arena and 4 rows from the front within 10 minutes. No sooner were we in place that I had to go to the ladies, again not too bad an experience, the toilets were clean and the queue was almost non-existent. Grabbing a hot dog and a drink I went back to my friends. A word of advice though, if any of you decide to go and see anyone at The London Arena take your own food. I bought two small hot dogs a small bottle of water and a packet of crisps and I was charged £8.50. At around 7.30 p.m. the house lights went down and the support band the Dum Dums took to the stage. I was pleasantly surprised, they were enthusiastic, good musicians and really got the crowd warmed up. If anyone is interested The Dum Dums are playing Sheperds Bush December 19. The Arena had really filled up by the end of their set and it was getting quite hot. Although I desperately wanted another bottle of water I decided not to risk leaving and not getting back into the good position we had. A little after 8 p.m. Crispin Mills of Kula Shaker fame took to the stage. I ha d heard that Mr Mills was not the best entertainer, and I have to tell you that he was a tad boring. Still never mind, it meant that we were getting closer to the main attraction. The heat was getting almost unbearable by 8.45 p.m. and I was just about to give up my view when security staff at stage side started handing out water. Ice cold water, and I can tell you I have never been so relieved in my entire life. Then as stated in other opinions here, "this is a public service announcement" boomed from the speakers. Fat Bottomed Girls played and it was time for Robbie Williams to emerge. The atmosphere was electric, and as the sound of Let Me Entertain You boomed in my ears, the band (except for Robbie) was lowered form the ceiling on a movable stage. The music was just about audible through the shouts and screams of the 11 000 strong crowd. Then form the bowels of the stage Robbie Williams rose in a make shift cage, dressed in a white shirt and jeans. He raced the length and breath of the stage, his vocals perfect, and the crowd bounced along. Then it was straight into Karma Killer. I had smuggled my phone in and had seen it flash, answering it I saw it was my daughter so I tucked it into my jeans and she listened to three songs before her credit run out! The set list was slightly different to previous shows, gone was Knutsford City Limits and Road to Mandalay, replaced with Life Through a Lens and Man Machine. I sung along with all the tracks, and danced away forgetting about my thirst and aching feet. Robbie informed the audience tat he wasn't feeling too well "I've got the flu… I wasn't going to come on…" He still gave the performance his all, showing beyond all doubt that he is Britain's brightest performer. During the second encore Angels was played, and yet again the crowd sang it for him. I'm not sure how to explain how it felt except to say it was al most like a religious experience. Before I knew it the show had ended and we were in the queue for merchandise. I bought a T-shirt, which cost me £18, but well worth it. Then, as though I have to tell you, I was back to do it all again on the 5th.
Calls have been made to move The Angel Islington up the Monopoly board, I say no, because every time I buy it I feel as though I have got a real bargain. Islington spans a huge area of London from Archway to Kings Cross, touching parts of Camden and Hackney also. Although, the area's that most people see, if they are not residents, are The Angel and Highbury. I live at The Angel and I marvel at how it is constantly changing, becoming the restaurant capital of London, and attracting lawyers, doctors and actors into it's overpriced housing. Islington has been a fashionable area of London for some years now, and house prices reflect this. The average price of a house in Islington is £350 000, although Tony Blair's house sold for a massive £750 000. Most of the houses are Georgian is their architecture, but if you look you'll see factory's being made into luxury flats popping up all over. As I see it things started to change in Islington with the opening of the Royal Bank of Scotland head offices. This brought a sudden influx of hungry lunchtime traffic and the shops gladly accommodated this. A couple of years later a rich business man saw the potential of The Angel and bought The Blue Hall, a dilapidated entertainment building, and turned it into The B usiness Design Centre. Suddenly Islington had conference traffic, and Stakis built a hotel next to the Design Centre. London Underground saw the extra commuters travelling into The Angel, and renovated The Angel Tube station. The station was decorated with they style of the new Jubilee Line, and has the longest escalator in Europe. London Underground probably saved lives in doing this, as they took away the horrific single platform popular with suicides. New restaurants and shops opened to cope with the ever-increasing traffic and now Islington is a busy, bohemian area, populated by people from many different backgrounds and cultures. Although there seems to be a slump in house prices London wide, and Islington is not immune from this, the building in Islington continues. Due to open this year is a huge shopping complex, which locals fear will take trade away from Chapel Market. The complex is planned not only to have shops, and even more restaurants, but a five-screen cinema too. Somebody commented to me the other day how we know that Islington is a major player within London now. The Hilton bought The Stakis and The Angel is now one of the few boroughs to have it's very own Hilton. They are probably right, Islington is set to grow and grow, and with funding and belief the sky's the limit.
Straight down Bayswater Road past Hyde Park you come across one of the few 'villages' within London, Notting Hill. As soon as you enter Notting Hill you can feel the atmosphere change, gone is the hustle and bustle of the city, and here are the little antique shops, patisseries, chic boutiques and restaurants. Notting Hill boasts good public transport, and you can ride the tube (Central, District and Circle lines) or the many buses that pass through the area. I suppose the most famous place in Notting Hill is Portobello Road, which houses one of the most famous market in London. Portobello Road Market is like any other market on weekdays, with its fruit and veg, clothes, household products, and of course fish. Then, at the weekend, Portobello Market changes into the biggest antique market in London. People come from all over the world to visit, and they are not disappointed. If, on your visit, you wish to steer clear of the tourist trap and see the 'real' Notting Hill then you must visit The Pharmacy at The Gate, it has the most unusual interior, and the prices aren’t too bad. Many of the local residents, including the famous ones, eat here. I'm told Madonna eats there regularly, or at least she did up until a month ago. Coins Restaurant in Talbot Road used to be the 'in' place, and locals would go there for their breakfast, it has changed owners, and it's relaxed atmosphere, friendly staff, and good menu has now gone - so steer clear of that one. Notting Hill gate is a very bohemian area, with residents from all walks of life, and yes it has more than it's share of rich and famous, including Damon Alburn, Gail Porter, Jamie Theakston, and many more. The disadvantage of Notting Hill as a place to live is the fact that it's geared up to the 'financially cushioned', it has no supermarkets, and only a handful of small grocers. The main one is Ha rts on Holland Park, which is very much like Cullens even in it's design, and especially in it's prices. House prices in Notting Hill are high, as in most nice areas in London, the average house price in Notting Hill is £560 000 and rising. The most expensive house that has been sold in the last month was a house in Clarendon Road which went for a massive 4.5 Million. The road which has experienced the biggest rises in recent years is Elgin Crescent, a lovely little road with houses painted in pastel colours almost exclusive of Notting Hill. If however, you go towards Ladbrook Grove, you hit the poorer end of Notting Hill, I'm told crime rates are high, and drug related crime being the highest. A friend of mine recently moved out of Notting Hill because she couldn't stand her children stepping over syringes on their way to school. Never the less, I love Notting Hill and I would move there tomorrow, finances permitting of course, it is one of the few places in London in which I feel at peace. It's a happy friendly place, and I'd love to have a W11 address, or maybe that's just the snob in me coming out.
A good friend of mine was coming over form the US, and as a kind of celebration we decided to dine somewhere special. We booked a table for 6 at Nobu, and as it was my first visit I had no idea what to expect. All I knew, was that Nobu was an upmarket Sushi restaurant to the stars, good enough for me, a chance to see someone famous eating was all I needed to know. On the big night we got a cab to the restaurant, and it's just as well we did as we might not have had an easy time finding it otherwise. Nobu is situated above the famous Met Bar at the Metropolitan Hotel at Park Lane, London W1. As we walked in I noticed straight away the décor, consisting of wooden floor and subtle spot lighting. We were shown to our table, and given our menu. I have never eaten Sushi before, so I was quite lucky that others in my group had and were telling me what things were. They needn't have bothered though, because our waitress was very helpful and more than happy to explain what all the dishes were. She gave us her opinions of the best dishes and, for the most part we went with her. The food that was brought to the table was a colourful mix of well presented food with an aroma that made my mouth water. Bearing in mind I had always heard that Japanese food was well presented and tasted terrible I took my first mouthful. I have to say that the dishes we ate, which consisted of Crab in a wonderful sauce, Black Cod, Prawn's Sushi Rolls, and Steak was by far the best restaurant food I had ever eaten. We moved on to deserts and ordered some Chocolate Rolls, Pineapple Soup with a Coriander Ice Cream, which sounds weird I know but tasted superb. Some of us drank Saki and some drank Port, and the bill for six people came to £195 which I think is comparable to many London restaurants nowadays. We even saw Goldie Horn's daughter snogging some rock star all night - All in all a wonderfu l evening spoilt by the fact that we couldn't get into the Met Bar after our meal. I recommend Nobu to anyone who's into good food and excellent service, Nobu was worth every penny.
I love Safeway, if, for nothing else than their excellent customer service, and the fact that they are so much cheaper than Sainsburys. I will admit that different stores have different managers, so there are a few Safeway shops that are not up to the wonderful service I have come to expect from them. But in general if you go into one of the big stores you'll be ok. I use Safeway at least four times a week, and I'll tell you why. As soon as you walk in, you will see the 'special offers', ranging from half price, buy one get one free, or just a significant amount off. If you spend £60 in Sainsburys, and buy the same goods at Safeway I guarantee you will save at least £10. The saving of money is a great excuse for shopping at Safeway, but it's not my reason really. I think that the staff are just so helpful and cheerful. No matter what you ask for, be it getting something from the stockroom, finding an item, or even refunds, the Safeway staff are more than happy to help you and even do it with a smile. I have found shopping at Sainsburys not such a nice experience, with grumpy staff who would quite obviously rather not be there, and I have even had a somewhat heated argument with a manager at Sainsburys who was ruder than the member of staff I was complaining about. Bad managers, bad staff. I have never even had anything to justify a complaint at Safeway, and if you shop there rather than Sainsburys once you will see the difference straight away. At the checkout, the staff at Safeway are chatty and happy, with only a handful at all the checkout staff at the stores I have shopped in looking miserable or tired. The managers are happy to get a member of staff to help you pack and they will even carry your shopping to your car if you ask. All in all, I find my shopping trips at Safeway to be a happy non-stressful experience, just try it and tell me if you don't agree.
I watched the events unfold within the big brother house yesterday, and I can't believe the hypocrisy of it all. Every single member of the Big Brother house is guilty of the same things that The Sun have started a witch hunt against Nick for. They have ALL discussed nominations. Caroline, Sada, and Nichola are more guilty of voting tactically, they all swore to only vote boys out! Nick was ousted for cheating was he? hmmm well why didn't Channel 4 evict him last time he was caught? I'll tell you why, because Nick was the Big Brother interest, now that Nick is gone the ratings will plummet. I do not believe that the nominations should be cancelled, after all, every contestant went into the diary room and cast their two votes. Do you really think that they are all so weak that they let Nick tell them how to vote? And even if they are, they still went in the box and cast their vote. The only thing Nick is guilty of, is not standing up for himself yesterday round the table. He should have let the whole group know that they were all as bad as him. They all discussed nominations too, and they have all voted to suit their own needs. The only reason Craig was so angry was because the vote this week was against him - he wasn't angry the last three weeks when he was very much a part of the "get Caroline out" crew. I think Nick should have pointed out what each member of the house had said to him, and walked out with the upper hand. It's such a shame now that the rest of the contestants are feeling superior for something they are just as guilty of. I hope none of them win, and that whoever is the new contestant coming in takes the prize.
Firstly I'd like to say that I am in no way a guru, I am an ordinary housewife who enjoys building a few sites. I was using Front Page up until about 2 months ago, when my husband, a professional web builder urged me to try Dreamweaver. After a few weeks of his nagging I caved in and opened the programme. The sight that hit me was one of windows popping up everywhere (actually it's only four) with words on them I didn't understand, and I don't mind telling you I was a little scared of it. My first reaction was "No I can't do this" and I closed the programme, much to my husbands horror. He almost forced me to open it again and offered me a short lesson. After whining quietly under my breath, I sat quietly and listened. I was so surprised at how easy Dreamweaver was to use, and after about an hour I was on my way to making my first professional looking page. Everything you could think of doing on a web page including Java, style sheets mouseovers etc, can all be done from the main window, so if the three little windows that open up confuse you close them. The small windows are, as I learned, shortcuts. It's very easy to create templates, and I would say to use this feature as it saves a lot of time with link updating. My newest site is around 80 pages and growing, I update it everyday using Dreamweaver and it takes me no longer than an hour. Another fantastic feature of Dreamweaver is the 'behaviour' function. This enables you to add rollover pictures and links. For example, you can put a JPEG on your page that when a mouse is hovered over it changes to another picture, and then maybe add a link to something else there too. Sounds complicated, but I assure you it isn't and it really looks flash. Dreamweaver includes a comprehensive help file, but I suppose if you want you can ask my hubby for a tem minute lesson.
Dotmusic is one of the most definitive music sites on the Internet that covers all genres and giving the best choice for the music fan on-line. As soon as you hit the index page you will fond a wealth of information about the latest releases, the charts, and the most popular artists. If you have an artist in mind you can usually find them somewhere on Dotmusic, and mostly they have their own page updated as news comes in. For the more hardened fan there are the forums, which are in general friendly places, well as friendly as anywhere on the Internet. I find it very easy to navigate the site, including the forums. There are clear links anywhere and you can usually jump to where you want to go in three links or less. If you are looking for celebrity gossip then the forums of Dotmusic are the place to go. There is normally links posted to all the latest news and music clips. And you don't have to register to read the posts. I would urge anyone interested in music to pop along and take a look, but watch out because like me you may become addicted. I have made my favourite forum my homepage now and I normally pop in a few times a night.
I have just watched The Pepsi Chart show, with Mel C performing her latest single and I felt compelled to write something. What has happened to Mel C? Has she had a body transplant? I was at the said show, which was filmed a month or so ago, but I left before Mel came on for obvious reasons. I think I should point out that the hordes of fans seen on the show were in fact Robbie Williams fans and they were bribed to stay and watch Mel C by Dr Fox telling them that Robbie was coming back out to perform. I myself was having none of it and got out as fast as I could. I now wish I had stayed, because I would love to have seen first hand the woman who has deteriorated from 'sporty spice' to 'slobby spice'. I can't believe that Mel has made it to Number one, although my husband pointed out that Posh Spice probably bought half a million copies just to knock Robbie off the top spot. All this however is digressing from the point that Melanie C has lost the plot. She has no musical direction of any worth, and is just trundling along churning out mindless tracks that she has probably bought cheap somewhere. Mel need a good writer and a decent producer, because as it stands she sounds like she's singing live when mixed in the studio for weeks on end. Some of you may think that I am being too hard on Mel, but y'know it had to be said.