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ASDA Smartprice is never going to be considered serious competition to any manufacturers, despite it's wide variety of products that spans the length of ASDA's supermarkets. At 30p a packet this 100g bar of chocolate is cheaper than the retail price of an individual bar of Dairy Milk yet when I buy these I feel the need to hide them in my basket even under the tampons. There's something about Smartprice that recieves a negative response from the average shopper, yet if they were to try some of the Smartprice products they may be pleasantly suprised.
Each 100g bar currently contains 6 rows of chocolate, with each row containing 4 squares. It is recommended that the bar provides 6 servings however if you are to attempt this without 5 friends and limited stocks, I highly recommended hiding it well in somewhere you would never think to look for it as it is incredibly moreish. While my conscience justifies my greediness by pointing out the bargain price, my diet is not so thankful.
The packaging has been updated since the one pictured above to include a new Smart Price logo and a picture of the product itself, while still maintaining the minimal look associated with Smart Price. While the chocolate bar itself is nothing fancy when compared to Galaxy or Cadbury, a sleek design appears on the surface of each square making it more aesthetically pretty.
The taste of the chocolate is creamy and is what I would imagine Mars chocolate to taste like if they done a range of chocolate bars without any fillings. When it comes to my personal feelings about the bar, "you get what you pay" is not a motto that I can agree with. Leave behind the idea that only the likes of Cadburys and Thorntons can deliver on taste and give this product a go. I cannot guarantee that you will feel the same way as me but at 30p it's not likely to break the bank!
When I was 17 and ready to leave school, I was strongly advised by my school to go to University. At 17 I had no idea what I wanted to study or what career I wanted to eventually have and I had a fear of committing to a course that I might not enjoy for the next 3 years of my life. In contrast to my view of a traditional University, the Open University is a lot more flexible in it's approach to studying and it is allowing me to get the degree that I know I am clever enough to hold.
With the Open University a degree can be studied in a period of 3 to 16 years, with students deciding the pace that they would like to study at. Modules begin in October, February and May allowing students to tailor their studies to a timetable that may suit them better than a traditional academic year and the distance learning structure of the courses allow students to study at a pace and time that suits them. This flexibility has allowed me to work part time while studying.
My tutors are always at the other end of the phone or email and while I have not yet needed them for anything major it is comforting to know that they are there should there be a need. Study materials include a mixture of textbooks and online materials which are then reviewed at tutorials (which can take place both online and in person with other students). This independent way of learning is one which I enjoy immensely although it is not everyone's cup of tea.
The cost of learning varies depending on location. As a Scottish student my fees are reduced dramatically in comparison to my English counterparts, however without financial support I am still paying somewhere between £1500 and £1750 for each year of my course. For my undergraduate degree I am charged seperately for each module that I select and there is a variety of payment options available to students. I personally use OUSBA (Open University Student Budget Account) to pay my fees, where I am loaned the funds at enrollment and I pay back monthly installments for the duration of the module in order to settle my debt. The English fees system quotes the price of a full degree (at todays prices) at the cost of £15,372 however additional Government support is available in the shape of tuition fee loans to make it more affordable.
Overall my experience with the Open University has been very positive so far, with all services proving to be efficient and helpful. The sky's the limit with the Open University, opening doors to the people who previously would have been shut out.
I've been with the Bank of Scotland for about 12 years now and I have never found cause to complain. Wherever I go in Scotland there seems to be a nearby branch where I can pop in if I have any concerns and the service I recieve from the staff has never disappointed me.
The online banking service is a gem, showing me all my accounts and allowing me to manage my finances with ease. My online banking not only shows me my bank accounts but also my credit cards and my share dealing portfolio held with Halifax.
Sadly the interest rates offered on savings accounts have inspired me to move away from the Bank of Scotland but I still use them for managing my day to day finances and have no desire to switch. The customer service and the resources available for customers to keep track of their money are the reasons that I stay with the Bank of Scotland and plan to stay with them for many years.
When I first heard of Pixar's latest project, I have to admit I was a little sceptical. Despite the fact that Pixar have never disappointed me with their films, I was wary of the fact that they were keeping the exact details of the plot a secret. I was lucky enough to go to the European premiere and this meant that at this point, very few people knew the content of the story and I think this is the best way to watch it. I was completely taken by suprise by every turn the story took and it had me enchanted from the very beginning to the very end. The film centres around the fate of Princess Merida, the archery loving redhead who is encouraged by her mother, the Queen, to act more like a princess. This is a sharp contrast to her triplet brothers, whose main purpose in life seems to be to cause mischief wherever they go while her father, the King, entertains some special guests to their kingdom.
Pixar have completely transformed the graphics used for "Brave" and while I did not see it myself, I was informed by my boyfriend that I should be impressed. Pixar have undoubtably came a long way since the first feature film, "Toy Story".
The Blu Ray of the film comes with a variety of special features including Audio Commentary, Extended Scenes and my personal favourites, the Pixar shorts. As well as "La Luna", the short shown in cinemas before the film, the Blu Ray contains "The Legend of Mordu", a short which develops the story of one of the characters introduced in the film. At a 93 minute running time for the main feature, this film is a satisfying length as opposed to becoming an epicly long "Lord of the Rings" style film.
Although Disney films are often viewed as being designed for children, there is a lot of enjoyment to be had from the film for people of all ages and can be watched together with the family. The film itself is full of humour and the simple but engaging plotline makes this a brilliant Scottish fairytale.
"16 & Pregnant" is a TV on MTV following the stories of teenagers who fit the title of the show. While having a first child is a big learning curve for anyone, these girls find themselves having to grow up fast. During each 1 hour programme, cameras follow a new soon to be mum each week as they prepare for the new addition to their family.
While I have branded this as my favourite trashy TV in the headline of the review, I feel that the show itself is actually very informative for young people. The stars of the programme regularly have to struggle with issues such as housing, finding a source of income to support their child, keeping up with school work and handling their relationship with their other half. I think it would be a great resource to show in schools, seeing their struggles has given me a lot more respect for why it is considered better to wait to start a family than any lecture at school.
These one hour documentaries are the perfect blend of entertainment and education, giving a neat insight into a young mum's life without becoming too lengthy or requiring a commitment to watching the whole series. For 4 of the teenagers featured in each series, their journey is continued in spinoff series Teen Mom, where we see their trials and tribulations continue and also get to know the personality of their child as they grow older.
Overall I think this is a great series that I keep on watching again and again. Some high quality trashy TV with a moral.
I first became a fan of Pokemon in 1999 when, after seeing the TV show and people in my class at school playing the games at school, I went to America on holiday. While in a toy store, my dad and I saw a child begging their parent for a basic set of the pokemon trading cards. The mother was refusing to buy another set, as they already had an identical set at home, however the child insisted that they needed another one. It should have been a warning to me that this was not a typical 5 second fad that was sweeping the playground, though luckily as yet I have not felt the need to stomp up and down in a public place demanding something I already own.
Although there have been quite a few horror stories over the years regarding pokemon, I have seen a lot of positives from being a consumer of the franchise. I was still learning to read when I first played the pokemon game and I felt that it helped to increase my vocabulary immensely, it has also helped me to make friends with whom I could share my enthusiasm for the game and the trading cards. Social gatherings were organised to arrange the swapping of cards and with each card came a history - did this shiney Blastoise come straight out of a booster pack or did the previous owner swap multiple cards with someone else in order for a deal to be made?
It's very easy for me to romanticise the pokemon franchise however I am aware that because of pokemon I have grown up believing that certain pieces of paper are worth more than others. Every time that I upgrade my Nintendo games console to the latest release, I am aware that it is so that I can keep playing my favourite game series. Overall, every generation has had it's "must have" children's toy and I'm glad that I have seen some benefits from being caught up in this one.
My spending weakness is impulse buys, especially when it comes to food. I know there is food at home that I can eat, but something tasty catches my eye and I have to have it now. Being out and about means that I'm more likely to pay a premium for them too, especially if I'm in the city, but I look in my purse at the £1 I'm handing over and decide I won't miss it. It's a silly thing to decide really, that I won't miss £1. I wouldn't miss £1 too much if it only happened once, but this happens at least 100 times a year. I'd definitely miss £100 if it disappeared from my purse but because it happens gradually over time, it doesn't feel like I'm spending £100 a year on pointless things.
I've started to think a little more about the money I'm saving when I decide not to buy the shiney object that catches my eye. I've developed a new system where I put the amount that I was going to spend into my savings account instead, where one day it might take me on holiday or pay towards my studies. The money will go towards something I actually want long term instead of something I would like to eat while I'm on the train home.
I also have a little Sealed Pot at home which I keep all my change in. It might be change that I've been given in a shop or change that I've found in the street but either way it's probably too small to be spent meaningfully if it stays in my purse. Once it's full, all that little change makes a more impressive amount.
"Settlers of Catan" at first glance looks and sounds like a nerdy game that will be difficult to follow and even more difficult to enjoy (unless you're a nerd of course). When I was first introduced to the game I was sceptical, expecting that I would take a long time to understand what was going on. With hindsight this was probably because my boyfriend tried to explain all the rules before we began, a necessary step that never fails to baffle new players and make them wonder if they've made the right decision to play and sometimes question whether they've accidentally joined some sort of cult without realising (this was my initial thought and certainly it seemed the same for my mum when I tried to introduce her to the world of Catan).
When I began playing however, the rules and aims of the game began to make a lot more sense. There was a handy reference card to remind me which resources were needed to buy certain items in the game (such as a settlement or a development card) and consequently how much these items contributed to my quest to win the game. I won my first game however I probably would not have realised it had I not been with experienced players. In a group of people completely new to the game, it is probably possible for everyone to play and not even realise for a couple of hours that someone has won, however this adds to the experience of the game when it is eventually established who the winner is.
For those of you who are not familiar with "Settlers of Catan", I apologise for being vague on how exactly the game works. As you can probably tell from what I've wrote above, it can be quite a challenge to explain how the game works, even with the board and all the pieces set out on a table. The easiest way I can explain it is as a unique cross between Monopoly and Happy Families, great fun to play and well worth the effort of trying to get my head around the rules!
Twitter is a social networking website that, in a nutshell, does a lot less than Facebook. It asks users to summarise what they want to say in 140 characters ("tweets"), which is usually a sentence of two. This is then posted for your "followers" (people who have subscribed to read your messages) to read and respond if they feel it is necessary.
A lot of my friends who sign up to Twitter begin by not really seeing the point. They've been forced to register because someone else has told them how awesome it is and how their life will be changed by the website. Like me, they then soon to enjoy the feeling of people listening and responding to what can be utter nonsense.
I'm not saying that everything on Twitter is utter nonsense, today when a shooting took place in a Colorado cinema various journalists were using the site to find witnesses who may be prepared to help them write their reports. It was also a great help in keeping up with a story that was developing as more was heard. More commonly however tweets are about what has been happening to the author or their general wonderings. I find it great fun for keeping in touch with friends that I don't see often or those that I don't know very well and would like to find out more about their personality, however I am still acutely aware that this is a social networking site that probably shouldn't be as popular as it is!
I first truly discovered eBay when I was looking for a costume for a 60s themed show. My large feet were a bit issue when trying to find a good pair of go go boots and so, in frustration I ended up putting the phrase "where do drag queens get their shoes?" into google. One of the results was an eBay shop where I eventually bought a pair from.
It might seem a bit of an unusual story to open a review with, maybe even a little embarassing for me, but what I'm trying to say is that eBay caters for all sorts of tastes and desires. As long as it doesn't breach the eBay rules or any laws, there is a listing for almost anything. For buyers this is a treat as it's like a magical shop that has it all. For sellers it's also a treat because it means that the most ridiculous things can be listed on the website and there's always a chance that someone might want them - as the saying goes, "one man's trash is another man's treasure" and personally it has allowed me to make some spare cash from some items that were destined for the bin.
Although eBay is known for being an auction website, for those who are not fans of having to fight for the ownership of an item, look out for "Buy It Now" listings, where you can own the item instantly. The price may be a little bit higher than the starting price of an auction but consider this insurance as you know the item is now yours.
Personally for me I have not had any hugely terrible experiences on eBay yet *touch wood* however I have heard that sometimes eBay can take some unusual stances in disputes. Luckily for me I have not experienced this as yet and have always found them to be helpful and efficient.
An internet auction site that I love and trust.
When I was at school, I used to roll my eyes at any who was wandering the corridors with a Pukka Pad. Why did they feel that their school notes were so important that they had to be written on what was ultimately designer paper? I soon changed my mind however when I tried one out for myself.
The unfortunate thing about stationary supplies in the UK at the moment is that it appears that you get what you pay for. While all paper is equally capable of displaying revision notes, the cheaper note pads found in supermarkets tend to be less practical, though I doubt that they were designed with this intention. It might be that the lined paper isn't punched or when attempting to remove a page from the pad, the paper tears, or maybe that when the paper is removed, there is a scruffy looking margin that cannot be turned in for an essay as it doesn't look too presentable. While these are all very simple things to fix, it seems that Pukka Pads are one of the only writing pads that actually understands the practical needs of students. There's a perforated edge for smooth removal, all the pages are punched and the paper is lovely and thick meaning that it does not get damaged as easily. The funky design on the front cover is clearly not the only reason that people continue to buy these pads.
I still feel irritated whenever I have to buy a Pukka Pad, to an extent I am being suckered into the world of designer stationary with a higher than average price to match, however I know that a Pukka Pad is a pad that I can trust to present my work exactly as I need it.
I was 5 years old when my dad first introduced me to the Eurovision Song Contest. At this age I worshipped the Spice Girls so I assume he was trying to broaden my musical tastes. From this age I have continued to enjoy Eurovision every year and I hope for this enjoyment to continue for many more years.
The Eurovision Song Contest is probably the only time each year that large audiences from various nations tune in to hear the music of other nations. Based on recent entries from the UK, they may not reflect usual music tastes but that just seems to add to the brilliance of the competition. Another highlight for me is seeing what sort of quirk some countries choose to present - will it be singing grannies making cookies, knitting brides or Andrew Lloyd Webber on the piano? Press the red button during the BBC coverage and you will also be treated to singalong karaoke lyrics in both English and the native language if applicable.
There's a lot of controversy around the contest, coming from voting choices from certain nations but I find the best way to enjoy it is to forget it's a competition, forget about the politics and imagine it to be a marvellous international concert for all of Europe to enjoy. A yearly tradition that I love to celebrate.
From humble beginnings, TaylorSwift.com has had a couple of transformations in the last few years as her management aim to create a more social experience for Swifties.
The current homepage is very intricate, reading from top to bottom it gives a lot of information that regular visitors probably don't read very often, instead concentrating on the tabs in the top right which help to navigate to the area most relevent. As well as an introduction to Taylor on her "About" page, there's also information about upcoming events, music and her online community, Taylor Connect. Taylor Connect is the true heart of Taylor's website, where Swifties come together and chat with other fans. While this part of the website goes through a lot of changes one thing never changes - the friendly welcome that anyone will recieve upon their first visit. Jordan the administrator is also a lot of fun to talk to, although as he's very busy it's quite rare to get that chance nowadays.
Members of the forum can sometimes recieve special benefits for being loyal Swifties, from presale access to concert tickets to some lucky individuals getting the chance to meet Taylor.
My only issue with the website comes with the Store. Unless you are a US Swiftie, the items within the store currently make a rather interesting viewing, like a jumble sale leftovers - the things that no one wants and the things that no one can afford. I don't doubt that this will change given time though, as the new look website is still fairly new and there are a lot of things that the team behind the scenes are developing.
Overall a great home from home on the internet for any Swiftie.
In No Doubt, Gwen Stefani made her name with great hits such as "Don't Speak" and "Just A Girl". As her first solo album "Love Angel Music Baby" does not disappoint.
"What You Waiting For?" opens the album and gives the listener an insight into Gwen's reservations about breaking out from the band. Although there's no deep meaning to the song, it makes a great catchy pop track. "Rich Girl" follows, a modern twist on a well known song with some help from rapper Eve followed by "Hollaback Girl", a confident anthem that brings out the fighter in Gwen.
Next up is the track that I consider to be a nice follow on from the popular No Doubt track "Don't Speak". "Cool" is the story of someone looking back on a previous relationship that didn't work out, glad that they are still able to be friends now that they've moved on. It's a track that makes me smile whenever I hear it, especially when I play it straight after "Don't Speak" and know that everything works out for the best.
The rest of the album continues to present a nice mixture of sounds and emotions, there's a song for every occasion on this album and many years on I still consider it to be a great addition to my music collection.
I will start by pointing out that I don't consider myself to be the average member of Money Saving Expert. I don't have a mortgage or any debt, I don't have any utility bills to pay and I don't do the food shopping for my househhold either. Despite all of this, I still find the Money Saving Expert website to be very relevant to my life and I find that it encourages good spending habits and inventive thinking.
When I check my emails on Wednesdays, I know I'm in for a treat. I'm aware that this sounds cheesy but Martin has began to feel to me like a family member who is full of useful tips on how to make my money go further. I'm especially enjoyed the Money Dilemmas and the "Spill The Beans" sections of the weekly email, however it also gives me ideas of great offers that I might have missed otherwise, such as cheap meals out or free magazines.
The forums are my greatest source of inspiration on a day to day basis when I need to do a bit of financial soul searching. The stories of the members are incredible, from people who have made their way out of endless debt to people just beginning their journey to one retired lady that I particularly admire who has continued the frugal ways of life she was taught during the war. The challenges are ingenious, there is no other word for them. Often the best ideas encourage a habit of saving money or paying off debts without feeling any pain, such as the Sealed Pot Challenge or the 1% at a Time Challenge, where instead of trying to pay off £8000, one member is looking to find 100 ways to pay off £80!
A great social experience mixed with informative tools and articles, thanks to this website I now hope to get through my University years debt free! There's something for everyone regardless of financial situation and is a very welcoming environment to peoplefrom all backgrounds.