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My family and I have been to Blackpool four times for short breaks, and each holiday has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
* Transport *
We are from Liverpool, so Blackpool is only an hour and a half away by car. Once we arrive, we don't use the car until we go home - we just park it in a car park and use the trams or walk.
The trams aren't exactly cheap, but you can by day travel cards and they are a great way to travel around. My children love the novelty of going on a tram, and I must say I do too! They can take you right along the promenade and stop at the many attractions, such as the Pleasure Beach and the Tower. On the night the illuminations are turned on, several of the trams are decorated with lights, which is a nice touch.
Walking is also a good way to get around Blackpool, depending on where you are staying. Our hotel is within walking distance of the Tower, and it is a really nice walk there, as you can often fell the spray of the sea on windy days. Walking is also a wonderful experience at night when the lights are on.
* Attractions *
The main tourist attraction has got to be the Blackpool Tower. We have been several times, and we all really enjoyed it. Going up to the top and walking across the glass floor (if you're brave enough!) is a really exciting experience, and you can even post a letter from the top of the tower! There is also a circus, aquarium, several food places and 'Jungle Jim's', a massive adventure playground for children.
The Blackpool lights / illumination are a big highlight of our trips. They are normally on from the end of August until the start of November, and on the night they are switched on for the first time, there is a big event. The lights stretch out for miles along the main road by the seafront, and it is a lovely sight.
There are attractions we haven't visited like the Sea Life Centre and the Sandcastle Water Park, but both look really exciting and I would imagine they are well worth a visit.
I must admit we have also never visited the beach at Blackpool, because we have always visited around the beginning of September, when it isn't really beach weather. However, Blackpool does have a nice, long stretch of sand, so if you are going in the summer, you might want to pay a visit to the beach.
One thing my kids love about Blackpool is the amount of amusement arcades. There are loads, particularly around the Tower area, and we always enjoy going on those two pence penny-push machines.
There is also the Pleasure Beach, the theme park with that pretty terrifying looking rollercoaster, the Pepsi Max Big One! We used to visit the Pleasure Beach just to have a look around, when you didn't have to pay to enter. But now you have to pay for a wristband (I believe) to just get into the park, whether you want to go on any rides or not, so we didn't go on our last holiday to Blackpool.
There are loads of things to do in Blackpool, including a nice shopping area. It really is hard to get bored!
* Other Information *
Blackpool is generally quite a cheap place to spend a few days or a week or two, with accommodation ranging from cheap hostels to the Hilton hotel.
The weather is probably one of the only slight downsides to Blackpool, but it is England after all. There are plenty of indoor attractions, so as long as you take umbrellas you'll be fine.
* Conclusion *
I would thoroughly recommend a holiday or a day trip to Blackpool to anyone, it's a lovely classic British seaside town.
The Crocky Trail is an adventure playground, suitable not only for children but for adults too!
* Location *
The Crocky Trail is located in Cotton Abbotts, Chester, Cheshire. We did get slightly lost when arriving by car, but overall it wasn't too bad finding it (we came from Liverpool).
* Prices *
I thought the prices were very expensive, and should have been quite a lot lower for what the trail was. One word of warning, when we went, credit cards weren't accepted - but we had no idea. We didn't have enough cash on us to cover the prices of the four of us (two adults, two children). We were lucky in that we were allowed in on the condition that my sister didn't go on any of the rides, which was fine, as she wasn't planning to any way.
It is £10 per person, and under 5's go free.
* The Course *
The first part of the Crocky trail was made up of a variety of different rides and obstacles. We're not talking Alton Towers though; the "rides" are basically made out of bits of junk (okay, a bit of an exaggeration). This didn't affect mine or my kids enjoyment (the rides were lots of fun), but was one of the reasons why I though the prices were far too expensive.
I know a lot of people dislike the Crocky Trail because it is pretty dangerous - it's a wonder Healthy and Safety haven't closed it down. The day we went wasn't too crowded, but if there were lots of boisterous teenagers around, the rides would be overcrowded and dangerous. There are plenty of opportunities to fall off things, get whacked, slip, ect, but as long as you tell your kids to be careful and watch them, it shouldn't hopefully be too bad.
Make sure to wear old clothes you don't mind getting wet and muddy, and possibly ripped. The rides and obstacles aren't clean, and may fall in the river later on in the Trail!
I will describe some of the rides below, to give you an idea of what sort of things to expect.
- The Titanic -
This was my kid's favourite. It starts off as a slightly raised long platform, made of this very slippy black plastic material. Everyone goes to the very back and sits down, and then the Titanic begins to rise. It is basically a slide that becomes steeper and steeper and steeper. Soon you can't hold on any more, and slide off to the bottom. The idea is to stay on as long as possible. Anyone still left on when the ride reaches its highest point gets sort of flipped off, so they slide down too.
- Hamster Wheel -
Basically it is what it says, a big tyre shaped ride, once again lined with the slippy plastic. You get it in and run, trying not to fall over.
- The Death Slide -
This is a completely vertical slide. I was too scared to have a go, but the kids loved it.
There are also climbing walls, other slides, balance beams, ect. All lots of fun, and great exercise!
The next part of the Trail is a long river, with many different ways to try and cross it. Scattered along the way are rope swings, wobbly bridges and balancing logs. This where you may get wet, as it is quite easy to fall in.
You can go around the course as many times as you like. There is also a small shop at the end, selling sweets and drinks.
* Conclusion *
Overall, the Crocky Trail is worth a visit, especially if you like assault courses and that kind of thing. A great chance to be a kid again.
My family and I have stayed in the Savoy Hotel, Blackpool four times in the last 10 or so years.
* Location *
The Savoy is conveniently located on Queens Promenade. It is in walking distance from Blackpool Tower and the main shopping area, or you could catch a tram. There is a tram stop just across the road from the hotel, so it really is in an ideal tourist location. The illuminations are on either side of the hotel, so night time makes for a pleasant walk if you are visiting in autumn (when the illuminations are switched on). The Pleasure Beach is not really in walking distance, especially if you have young children, but it is only a short tram ride away.
* The Hotel *
The Savoy is three stars, and is very grand looking, both inside and from the outside. The check in process was very smooth and without problems, like the booking process had been. All four times we have stayed in the same type of room, a master bedroom and a twin room connected by a door. However, on our latest visit, the twin room had changed slightly: instead of two twins, there was a single bed and a bunk bed. There is one television and one bathroom, along with coffee making facilities. The views from both bedrooms were lovely - you could see the lights, the beach and the promenade.
Breakfast was very nice. There was a choice of cooked or continental, ranging from bacon and sausages to toast and tea.
There was a car park outside the hotel, but it was full on our last visit. However, there was a cheap one close to the hotel, so it wasn't a problem.
In some of our past visits we have found the hotel to be a little bit dirty, but nothing major, just clumps of dust on the skirting boards and a few dodging looking marks on the carpet.
* Prices *
We have always paid for our holidays at the Savoy with Tesco Clubcard vouchers. I have just checked online, and the prices are apparently from £30 per night per person. The cost of the adjoining room we always have is normally over £100 per night.
* Conclusion *
A great hotel, a perfect base for exploring Blackpool's many tourist attractions.
The Swirly Chocolate Sundae is a chilled dessert available from the supermarket Tesco.
*Where to find them*
As I said above, they can be bought in Tesco, but Asda also sell a practically identical product for the same price. The dessert can be found in the yoghurts sections. I have found that they don't always have them in stock; I have been disappointed to often come and find that there are none available.
The sundae is made of several different layers. The top is my favourite - whipped cream! Below this chocolate mousse, then chocolate brownie, which tastes lovely when mixed with the fourth layer, chocolate custard. At the bottom there is more whipped cream, this time swirled with chocolate sauce.
This dessert really is delicious. The different layers add variety and contribute to the lovely taste. In fact, I preferred this sundae this Sunday to the £1.98 Tesco Finest Sundae!
As you expect, the dessert is high in fat and calories, so best saved to have as a treat.
Fat - 22.6g
Calories - 340
Sugar - 23.9g
Saturates - 13.2g
Salt - 0.4g
Ingredients: Cream Mousse (28%), Chocolate Mousse (28%), Chocolate Custard (21%), Chocolate Loaf Cake Pieces (12%), Whipping Cream (6%), Chocolate Sauce (5%).
Not cheap at £1.00, but for as long as I've been buying them they have always been on offer - two for £1.50 (saving 50p), so it is worth buying two at once.
Really nice dessert, worth trying!
Blackpool Illuminations is a yearly lights festival in Blackpool, the seaside town in the North West of England. The lights are on from late August/early September till early November (this year it is the 4th September - 8th November). On the opening night of each year, an event called 'The Big Switch On' is held, where a celebrity presses the switch in order to turn on the illuminations.
Two years ago, in August 2007, our family visited Blackpool for a short break specifically for 'The Big Switch On' ceremony. This was because David Tennant was switching on the lights, and my family and I are big Doctor Who fans. There was also going to be Doctor Who illuminations.
So on a dark Friday night, we headed out of the hotel and began to walk down. From what I can remember, the BBC Radio 2 arena where the event is held is nearish to Blackpool Tower. We had passed the arena earlier on in the day, and it was already heaving with people. Before the actual switch-on, I believe there was also a small concert, but we didn't attend this so I can't comment. It is free to attend the concert and the switch-on.
Blackpool was crawling with girls in bunny ears and 'L' plates that evening, as I guess it was an exciting night to have your Hen party. I think there was also a motor bike show, as a load (when I say a load, I mean around 100) of them zoomed passed us, which gave us a bit of an ear-ache.
Anyway, the actual ceremony was absolutely packed, as you can imagine. We couldn't see the stage where the main action was happening, but there was a large screen which captured what was happening. However, even that was hard to see, due to kids on parents shoulders, people waving fluorescent lights, ect. Despite this, the atmosphere was electric and very exciting. Everyone began a count down from ten, and the whole town lit up.
The lights run for 6 miles, and on the night many people drive through the main illumination-lined street to see them. We saw some special decorated trams on the tram line, such as a boat themed cart, covered in lights. By the way, I wouldn't advise getting a tram to or from the ceremony - they are crammed and you have to wait for ages (we learned this from our holiday a few years earlier).
Apart from the Doctor Who lights (which were very good), I also noticed some Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen ones, along with various other themes. The lights run along the promenade, and are great to look at even during the day.
We visited Blackpool again just last week, for the 2009 turn on evening. We didn't go to the ceremony this time; just we walked along the road. They had some new Doctor Who lights this year, but they were further along, towards the Pleasure Beach.
I would really recommend that anyone planning to visit Blackpool does so when the lights are on. We have had four family holidays in Blackpool now, and the illuminations never get old.
Like many people, my daughter is a big fan of Cadburys - particularly their chocolate buttons. So it was no surprise to me when she picked the Cadbury Buttons Birthday Cake in Tesco for her birthday.
* Where to Buy *
As stated above, I purchased my daughters cake from Tesco. They don't always seem to have them in my local one, so I went to a slightly larger store were they had a wider selection of cakes. I'm pretty sure you can purchase this cake from most medium-sized supermarkets.
* Appearance *
The cake is rectangular shaped, covered in milk chocolate with 'Happy Birthday' written on it in the middle. Around the 'Happy Birthday' are chocolate buttons, alternating white and milk. The edge of the cake has a rim of chocolate butter cream.
The box is the tradition Cadbury colour of purple, with a plastic window in it to enable you to see what the cake looks like. It claims to serve 16 slices, which I would say was about right.
Once you take the cake out of the box, you will notice it is in what they call an 'easy serve tray with easy open corner tabs'. This is basically the normal flat base you have on cakes, but with sides (like a cuboid without the top). You have to pull the tabs off to fold down a side, enabling you to get in to cut the cake. To be honest though, I would found it easier and more practical without tray.
* Taste *
I really enjoyed my slice, especially the butter cream which I though was the best thing about the cake. The actual chocolate sponge was a bit dry, but still enjoyable and nice. I could hardly taste the chocolate buttons; they were soft and just sort of blended into the rest of the cake. I would say that the description on the box was pretty accurate in reference to the taste: 'a rich chocolate sponge topped with delicious chocolate butter cream and decorated with Cadbury milk chocolate and white chocolate buttons, in an easy serve presentation tray'.
* Nutritional Information *
Calories - 165
Sugars - 13.8g
Fat - 9.1g
Saturates - 4.1g
Salt - 0.4g
* Summary *
Although I wasn't a fan of the 'presentation tray', I would buy this cake again and would recommend it. I think it's suitable for all ages, and would make a good cake for a small party (as it has 16 slices).
My family and I visited Madame Tussauds on a holiday to London, but unfortunately it wasn't quite as good as we had hoped it would be.
* What Is It? *
Madame Tussauds is a popular tourist attraction in Central London. It is a wax museum (established by Marie Tussauds and operated by Merlin Entertainments) featuring a variety of wax figures including sport stars, actors, world leaders and musicians. Madame Tussauds also includes the planetarium.
* Where Is It? *
Madame Tussauds is very near the Baker Street tube - only a two minute walk away. We had no problems finding it... it was unmissable due to the huge queue leaking out of the door!
* How Much Is It? *
If you buy on the day, the prices are:
Adult - £25
Child - £21
Family - £81
If you buy the online 'priority access' tickets, the prices are:
Adult - £22.50
Child - £18.50
Family - £78
There are also 'flexi' and 'all inclusive' tickets, along with packages to combine other London attractions with Madame Tussauds (such as the London Eye and the London Dungeons). Details of these prices and packages can be found on the website - www.madametussauds.com.
As you can see, the museum is not cheap, especially if you have a large family. I would look out for offers and discount codes. Tickets can also be bought with Tesco Clubcard vouchers.
* My Experience *
After queuing for what seemed like a lifetime we finally reached the entrance. We had bought most of our tickets online, but two of our daughters had Blue Peter badges and therefore got in for free.
Once we got inside, I could tell it was going to be a bit of a nightmare. We had come in the October half term, and the place was absolutely packed. You could literally barely move and had to shuffle along. From what I could through people's heads, the waxworks looked very good - I spotted Kylie, Ant & Dec, Marilyn Monroe and Simon Cowell among others. I'd hoped to get some photographs of my family standing next to the figures, but this just wasn't possible without pushing others out the way and then having a million and one strangers in your photo too. Anyway, we just pushed on, hoping to come back to the main waxwork area later, when the crowds had died down.
We then came to the Chamber of Horrors - a darkened room filled with spooky special effects and some pretty horrific waxworks of murders and serial killers. My kids didn't find it frightening, but my daughter told me that when she went on a school trip to London in 2004 (in Year 5, so all the kids were aged 9-10) a lot of her classmates found it terrifying; some were crying and had to be taken out. Although apparently the Chamber of Horrors was scarier then, I would not advise very young children to go in, but you know your child best and can make your own decisions on whether to take them in or not (the Chamber is entirely optional and can easily be skipped).
The next attraction we visited within the museum was a ride called the Spirit of London. You are seated in carts designed to be like London taxis (a welcome opportunity to sit down!) and are taken on a little ride showing you the history of London. Periods of time/events we saw included Tudor times, the Great Fire of London and the Industrial Revolution. The ride isn't like a rollercoaster or frightening or anything, so I would imagine it would be suitable for all ages. Near the end of the ride a photo is taken, which you can view once you get off and purchase it if you want.
The last part of Madame Tussauds was the planetarium - you can spot it outside by its big green dome. Once seated in here, we were shown a short movie on a cinema screen about aliens meeting celebrities or something or other. It was pretty dire and boring, so skip it if you're not interested.
Finally we came to the gift shop, which sold the usually sort of souvenirs. Wanting to revert back to our earlier plan, we tried to retrace our steps into the main waxwork room, but this wasn't allowed. The kids left feeling disappointed, and my husband and I left feeling cheated.
Overall, I wouldn't recommend a trip to Madame Tussauds. For the ridiculous price they charge, it's simply not worth it. There are many cheaper and free attractions in London to try instead. However, my daughter really enjoyed her visit with her primary school in 2004, and they went on a weekday not in school holidays, so I imagine we would have had a much better time if it wasn't as busy.
The London Eye is a popular tourist attraction in the capital city of London. I have been on it twice, most recently with my family, and I really enjoyed my experience.
* What Is It? *
At 135 metres tall, the London Eye (also known as the Millennium Wheel) is the largest Ferris wheel in Europe. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions n London, with thousands and thousands of people visiting every year. It has 32 egg shaped capsules moving slowly around in a circle, giving phenomenal views of London.
* Where Is It? *
The London Eye can be found on the South Bank of the river Thames, opposite the Houses of Parliament. The nearest tube is Waterloo, but Embankment, Charing Cross and Westminster are all within walking distance. The river cruise also stops off nearby at the Millennium Pier. We found the London Eye very easy to find - after all, it is kind of hard to miss a 135 metre wheel!
* How Much Is It? *
The prices for a standard flight on the London Eye are:
Adult (16 plus) - £17.50
Child (4-15 years) - £8.75
Child under four - Free
Senior (60 plus) - £14.00
Disabled - £14.00
There are also different packages you can buy, such as a Champagne Flight, a Fast Track (which means you have a shorter queuing time) and combining your flight with a River Cruise. I believe you can also get married on the London Eye!
* How Do You Get A Ticket? *
You can buy online, which I recommend to avoid having to queue on the day. Just go to the website - www.londoneye.com. You also get a 10% discount.
If you want to book on the day, the ticket office is inside Country Hall, which is right next to the London Eye. But be prepared for big queues.
* My Experience *
Even though we had booked online, we still had to join a pretty long queue. However this did move quite quickly and we were soon near the front. A security man had to check our bags, and then we got ready to board. The capsule is actually moving when you step in, which I think would worry some people, but it is going really slowly so you just need to do a quick jump (or large step). Once inside, the capsule has a wooden bench in the middle, but otherwise there is nothing but the floor to ceiling windows around the outside of the pod. Twenty five people are in the capsule with you. The London Eye moves very slowly - it takes around thirty minutes to complete the cycle. Because of this there are plenty of photo taking opportunities, and you can take your time in looking at the magnificent views over London. I wouldn't advise going on the Eye if you're scared of heights though.
I would definitely recommend a ride on the London Eye to anyone planning to visit London.
Argos is a UK shop in which you purchase items from their catalogue instead of from the store. It is very popular due to its wide range of stock, many nationwide stores and an easy way in which to buy your items.
* The Store *
Argos stores are quite small, and can usually be found in city centres and shopping centres. They have a lot of laminated versions of their catalogue set out, along with pens and ordering forms. They also have little computer things that when you type in the catalogue number of the item you are interested in, it tells you the current price (as it might have been reduced since the catalogue was published), and how many of the item they have in stock. A few items can be seen around the store that are available to buy, but the majority of items can only be purchased from the catalogue.
* The Stock *
Argos sell everything you could possible imagine - furniture, toys, fitness equipment, jewellery, gifts... The Argos catalogue comes out twice a year (for winter and spring), and can be picked up for free at any Argos store.
Sometimes I am a bit disappointed with my purchase, as it may not be like how I imagined it. I don't think this is really the fault of Argos, as I suppose you do need to use some imagination when choosing what items to buy, considering you do just get a tiny picture and description to go by.
* How It Works *
Stock can be reserved and then picked up in store, or you can have it delivered to your house (standard delivery costs £5.80). If you reserve an item, you pay in store and are given a receipt which has your collection point (A, B, C or D) and the estimated waiting time (so you know if you've got enough time to nip into another shop while you wait).
* The Staff *
I have found the staff to be polite, friendly and happy to help, even during busy and stressful periods like Christmas.
* Conclusion *
Argos is perfect for your everyday needs at sensible prices.
Fun House was a UK game show (based on an American show of the same name) that ran from February 1989 to December 1999 on CITV. It was hosted by Pat Sharp and the twins, Melanie and Martina Grant Gary King was the announcer.
I used to watch this show with my daughter when she came home from school; we both loved it and it was her dream to be on it. It is currently being repeated on Challenge TV, but unfortunately we don't have Sky/Cable.
Fun House involves two teams, Red and Yellow, both made up of a school aged boy and girl. Their aim is to win the most points after rounds one and two, and therefore getting to go into the actual Fun House, where they can win lots of prizes.
Round one consisted of three very messy and gungy games. The winning team would get points, although in some games (known as "key games"), the losers would also win points. After each game there was a question round - an opportunity to win more points.
Round two was the Fun Kart Grand Prix - a go-kart race. The contestants took it in turns to race around the track and try to grab tokens hanging from the ceiling (the tokens were buttons or steering wheels, depending on the series). After round two, all the scores would be added up to whether the Reds or the Yellows would be going into the Fun House.
The Fun House was like a big play area, with slides, ball pits, tunnels, ect. Throughout the Fun House were tags which had prizes written on them that the contestant must grab. One tag was the power prize - usually something like a holiday. To get the power prize, the contestants also had to answer a question.
My daughter still misses this show years after it ended, and I think it would be great if they repeated it on terrestrial or Freeview channels.
The Cube is a new Saturday night ITV game show, first airing two weeks ago on the 22nd August 2009. It is hosted by Philip Schofield and Colin McFarlane voices the Cube.
The idea of the show is that a contestant enters 'The Cube' (basically a transparent plastic box) and attempts to complete a seemingly simple challenge. However, due to the restricted space within the Cube and the studio audience, the task is actually a lot harder than it looks. If the contestant completes the challenge, they move up to the next amount of money (£1000, £2000, £10000, £20000, £50000, £100000, and finishing at a mighty £250000).
The contestant begins with nine lives, and they lose one every time they fail a challenge. If they lose all of their lives, any money they have won is lost and they leave with nothing. A 'Simplify' and a 'Trial Run' are also available should the competitor wish to use them. The 'Simplify' makes the challenge easy in some unknown way. The 'Trial Run' allows the contestant to have a go at the game without committing to it (as once they are inside the Cube, they cannot come out until they fail or complete the challenge). The contestant can leave with the money the have got so far, as long as they don't enter the Cube for the next challenge.
Before each game, a mysterious female figure, known as 'The Body', completes the task to show how it should be done. Also, Philip Schofield often gives statistics before the challenger attempts the game (such as '50% of people do this game within two tries').
There has apparently been about sixty games created for The Cube, so hopefully this will mean we aren't seeing the same challenges over and over again. Some examples of my favourite games that have been played are:
- Direction: The contestant is blindfolded and must walk diagonally from one corner of the Cube to the other, while staying inside a narrow path. The trick here was not to go slowly and steadily, but to run.
- Multisphere: A cylinder with 25 red balls inside is placed upside down on a podium in the centre of the Cube. The contestant must lift the cylinder up so that the balls are released and scatter all over the floor. They then have 15 seconds to put all the balls back inside the cylinder.
- Barrier: The contestant is blindfolded and most step over two raised bars without knocking them over. The contestant was allowed to remove his trousers on this game as they were restricting his movement.
One thing I really like about The Cube is the use of slow motion and freeze frames. This sort of thing would usually annoy me, but I found it to be really effective and dramatic. For example, when a ball had to be blown into a box, the action would slow right down just before the ball reached the box, creating suspense.
Although I love this game show, it can be predictable during the second half or so. As the contestants don't continue into the next show (like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?), it is easy to guess how well the contestant will do, according to how much time is left.
Overall, I really like The Cube, and can't wait to see what other games are in store for the contestants. I find it keeps me gripped throughout the whole show - perfect Saturday night viewing.
Home Bargains is a popular UK based high street shop. I have been going here for as long as remember, as it is a great place to find cheap stuff.
* The Shop *
Home Bargains is recognised by its blue and red logo, and the stores are normally red too. The shop has an easy layout, set in aisles like many shops, with common items grouped together.
* The Products *
The products are very inexpensive - hence the name of the store - and can often be found here quite a bit cheaper than in most shops, for instance Tesco and Asda. Despite the low costs, the quality of the items I have bought have been very good. The only occasions I can think of when I was dissatisfied with my purchases was a few years ago when I bought some tennis balls that didn't bounce and some stale chocolate lollipops. But for the price I paid, I wasn't too bothered.
Home Bargains sell a wide range of goods, such as food and drink, stationary, cards, toiletries, toys, cleaning products and household accessories. The stock can change quite often, for example they seem to stop selling some products once they have run out.
Some items I buy regularly are Pepsi (39p / 3 for £1 instead of the usual 95p or so), Haribos (59p instead of over a pound) and Walkers Sunbites (10p instead of around 42p). So as you can see, you can make some pretty good savings.
* The Staff *
Most of the staff are friendly and polite, although there are a couple of grumpy checkout operators in my local store. One thing I've noticed is that the majority of the staff put your stuff in the bag for you. I personally find this a bit annoying, especially when I don't even want a bag.
* To Conclude *
Home Bargains is brilliant for getting your everyday purchases a lot cheaper.
Claire's Accessories is a shop aimed at pre-teens and teenagers. Now more commonly know as just 'Claire's', it can be found in most city centres and on a lot of high streets. They stock a wide variety of fashionable accessories, and also offer ear piercing services. By daughters love this shop and I often go there myself to purchase hair bands and bobbles.
* The Shop *
The outside of the building is often white with the logo on it - simply 'Claire's' in purple writing. The first thing you will notice is that the shop is tiny. The walls are crammed with merchandise, and spinning racks and stands take up a lot of the floor space. With Claire's being such a popular store, I think they really need to do something about the lack of room. At weekends and during busy periods (especially Christmas), the shop is near impossible to get into. Even when it's empty, I've found it hard to move around without getting a face full of glittery scarves.
* The Staff *
As soon as you enter Claire's, someone greets you with a basket and tells you what special offers they have on today. Maybe it's just me being picky, but I find this pretty annoying. Most of the time I just come to browse, and if I do buy something, it'll only be hair accessories, which I don't exactly need a basket for. The special offers are already plastered around the store, so I'd rather not waste my time being told them. I get even more frustrated when they follow you around the store asking if I want any help - if I need help, I'll ask! Anyway, rant over. The staff are friendly and polite, and obviously happy to help.
* The Products *
Claire's mainly sell jewellery, hair accessories, socks, make-up, bags, hats, gloves, scarves and other bits and bobs such as mobile phone covers and pens. I have found the stock to generally be of good quality, but I know people whose jewellery has left a greenish mark on their skin. The prices aren't extortionate, but they're not cheap either. They often have 3 for 2 offers on, so look out for these.
* Ear Piercing *
Although I don't have any personal experience of ear piercing at Claire's, I did look into it a while a go for my daughter, so I have a bit of understanding of the service. First of all, the piercing takes place in the main shop area (often in front of the window), which would put me right off. I'd be terrified enough without strangers staring at me, and I'd probably show myself up by screaming or something. They use guns which are apparently more painful than needles, and their hygiene supposedly isn't great.
* Conclusion *
Despite my negative comments, I would recommend Claire's. Their products would be great if you're looking for a girl's birthday present. I can see my daughters and me coming to Claire's for many years to come.
I have recently discovered the wonderfulness of Trident Splash Strawberry and Lime chewing gum.
* Packaging *
The rectangular packets are easy to spot on the shelf - bright red with the name of the flavour (you can also get trident Splash gum in flavours such as apple & apricot and vanilla & mint). Once opened (just slide the cardboard away), there are nine pieces of gum inside individual sort of bubbles, which you pop out (like tablets).
* The Taste *
Strawberry and Lime may sound like an odd combination, but trust me - it really works! Once you put the gum in your mouth, the first chew greets you with a strong burst of flavour. The first few bites bursts open the outer coating of the gum, so the liquid inside can come out. The strawberry flavour is the more predominant of the two, and lasts for quite awhile. After some time, you will notice that the taste starts to wear off.
* Where To Buy & Price *
The chewing gum is available in supermarkets, corner shops, ect - anywhere that sells sweets. Be warned though: it is pricey at 50p for nine pieces. I know a lot of people who think this too much to spend on a small amount of gum. However, I solve this problem by purchasing my packets of gum from Home Bargains. From there, they're only 10p! That's just over 1p per piece, which I think is much better value.
* Nutrritional Information *
No need to worry about your teeth falling out with Trident Splash, because the gum is sugar free. There are 175 calories per 100 grams of chewing gum.
* Conclusion *
Overall, I really enjoy eating Trident Splash Strawberry and Lime chewing gum. I will have to knock a star off for the price though.
Tesco is a supermarket chain, based in the UK but with stores around the world. Founded in 1919, it now has hundreds of stores in the UK, selling groceries and other goods.
I have been shopping at Tesco for as long as I can remember, and I have no complaints. The shelves are normally well stocked, the staff are polite and happy to help, most things are easy to find - shopping there is easy and cheap.
There are four main types are Tesco, we are lucky to have at least one of each in our local area:
Tesco Extra - if you ever see a massive Tesco store when on the motorway, it is likely to be an Extra store. They are normally a bit out of the way, due to there large size. Apart from a bigger range of the usual groceries, Tesco Extra stores sell clothes, electronics and home items and entertainments. Most also have a café or coffee shop (such as Costa or Starbucks) and petrol station.
Tesco Superstores - a normal supermarket, the most common type of Tesco. They sell groceries and bits of other merchandise (eg. some books, CDs, DVDs, cards, toys, socks, ect).
Tesco Metro - these are sized between Express and Superstores. They can often be found in city centres and on high streets.
Tesco Express - slightly smaller than a Metro, a bit like a corner shop.
The Tesco Clubcard is a loyalty card for customers. You get one Clubcard point for every pound spend in a Tesco store (or online at tesco.com or at Tesco petrol stations), but recently this has changed to two points per pound. A point is worth 1p when spent in store or 4p when you buy from the Clubcard brochure (which contains things such as hotels, magazine subscriptions, days out and restaurants). 4p may not sound like a lot, but it all adds up and we have had several really nice holidays from our Clubcard points. Also, every few months you get sent coupons with offers on, for example double points on your shopping (good to save for when you know you will be buying a lot).
All Tesco stores (even the Express and Metro ones) now have the self-service checkouts installed. Although I do use these when I have a small amount of shopping, I am personally not a fan. The idea is to scan the barcodes of your items or identify the item by hand in the case of fruit and vegetables. I don't think I have ever had a visit to a self-service checkout with some kind of problem! The main issue is that some items do simply just not want to scan, which means you have to attract the attention of an assistance and get them to help. All while having an impatient queue of people behind you. Still, I shouldn't be complaining, as there are normally plenty of the regular tills to go to.
Tesco has many of its own brand products sorted into different categories according to quality and price. These are Tesco Finest (the most expensive), normal Tesco own brand and Tesco Value (the cheapo range). I hardly every buy the Finest products due to the price, but I've found the Value range to be ridiculously cheap for some good quality products. However, I would never buy Value meat - but perhaps that's just me.
I have only visited the Tesco café twice (at two different stores), but found the service to be reasonable. From what I remember, it is self-service and very inexpensive. The food was okay, not horrible, but not nice enough not make me want to visit regularly.
Overall, I would thoroughly recommend Tesco. It's a great supermarket with everything you need for your weekly shop.