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My son nagged and nagged me for the collectors Gold Moshi Monsters tin. In the end I bought 2 - one for my son and daughter and they cost me £9.99 from Tesco Direct but you can get them at the supermarket, Amazon and probably EBAY.
Unlike the moshlings that you buy in the little packs these ones are special because they are gold. The eight moshlings included in the tin are: Fifi, Rocky, Jeepers, Sookiyaki , Honey, Oddie, Mini Ben and ShiShi.
There's a plastic compartment with a place for each moshling and you can pull this out and store lots more moshlings in the tin if you wish.
This is a great gift idea for any Moshi Monster fan - if your kid has a party to attend and you are stuck on what to buy as a present then this is a great choice at the right price.
We've just enjoyed a great family holiday at the 5 star all inclusive Sentido Perissia Hotel in Side, Turkey.
The hotel was massive with three pools and was beach side. There were also two slides in a separate area which were open in the morning and afternoon. You couldn't use them if there wasn't a life guard.
The rooms can fit a family of four - with a double bed, a single bed and a sofa bed made up for the 4th person. We upgraded to a family room which had a separate bedroom, was much much bigger and there was a Jacuzzi in the bathroom with a separate shower. The kids had a Jacuzzi every day and loved it!
The balcony area was small but nice.
The mini bar had 1 coke, 1 sprite, 1 fanta, 1 beer, 2 waters stocked daily.
Beach towels were complimentary and you could change them every day.
Breakfast was in the main restaurant and had lots of choice - with staff making omelettes, fried eggs and pancakes. There was amazing homemade jams and a fresh hive of honey and lots of fresh bread.
If you became hungry between breakfast and lunch then around 1030 the pancake lady would be there making delicious crepes filled with either cheese and other savoury options or chocolate spread. The first time I had one I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. After a few days of eating them I decided to stop as I was beginning to bulge!!
Lunch could either be in the main restaurant or outside at overlooking the beach. Lunch time was great. I ate grilled fish every day with lots of fresh salad and sometimes chips. They had kfc style chicken which was so delicious and my kids and husband loved this. There was always lots of fresh melon, cherries and other fruits.
The cake place opened in the afternoon which was lovely and there was always drinks and coffee available on the bars.
Meal times in the main restaurant was exciting and there was a lot of different foods to choose from. There were 5 special restaurants that you had to book and we used the Fish, Turkish and Italian Restaurant. The fish restaurant was disappointing. I was expecting great seafood dishes but had a choice between seabass or salmon as my main course! The calamari were delicious but it wasn't what I was expecting.
The Turkish restaurant was really nice and a Turkish dancer entertained us with some belly dancing.
The Italian restaurant was ok but nothing special. We decided we just wanted to eat in the main restaurant after this.
The entertainment staff are called the "Animation Team" and they were wonderful. Every morning around 10am they would do a little dance by the pool and after the pool games there was the "hotel dance" which they would encourage everyone to do - that was good fun.
The entertainment in the evening was very good which different shows on every night.
The kids club was really good, my kids never did the kids buffet and cinema but I heard it was good. The mini disco was very much enjoyed.
The private beach was nice and we always got a sunbed. There was free bottled water available on the beach and a private pier where with cushioned seats and ladder into the sea so you could swim and sunbathe. There was beach volley ball every day which was fun.
There was a spa there but I never used it but I'd had very good reports about the Turkish bath and massage service.
There were only two days that we left the hotel. One day we ventured into Side by Taxi and then walked back. The harbour was beautiful and there's plenty of shops and souvenier shops. We followed the beach path all the way back and saw there were lots of other great 5 star hotels to choose from in the area.
It's not cheap any more in Side and it was quite expensive for drinks. We had a meal and for the four adults and 2 kids it cost about £160. We didn't have starters either! Long gone are the days where £20 would feed four of you on holiday.
If you go to Side its best to go all inclusive because otherwise you will spend a fortune on eating out and drinks. It works out cheaper in the long run to go all inclusive.
We were very sad to leave the hotel and would definitely go back.
I love my Apple iphone 4! I've had it since May and I can't believe it took me so long to get my contract upgraded. I will never have another type of phone again. Apple is in a league of its own.
I am at the moment addicted to my iphone. It use it for email, texting, playing games (whilst the husband is watching the football) - I might have a little play on a game before I go to sleep and when I am waiting for my kids at their swimming, ballet and other kids activities I will now sit there and play around on my phone instead of being bored.
I use it for an alarm clock, diary reminders, facebook updates, as an ipod and one night I even watched an episode of Eastenders on it. It connects to the wifi in my home so I don't really pay for the internet on it.
I have some great apps on it - I love the weather app so I know when its going to rain or be sunny, love the tv guide app - I can set my sky plus to record something from my phone!
The things you can do on this phone are endless - I have more to find out - but for anyone thinking about getting one - GET ONE. Its brilliant!
I listen to Radio 2 every day Monday - Friday - its brilliant. Chris Evans starts me off with his fab breakfast show and he's the best radio presenter ever! I walk the kids to school and when I get back I have half an hour left of Chris before Ken Bruce comes on. I look forward to pop master and I like it when a celebrity does their own record choices. I like the banter that goes on with Ken and his team and he's a great presenter.
Then it's Jeremy Vine. I love this show. I have texted and emailed my comments a number of times but they've never been mentioned!
Jeremy Vine's show covers stories that are happening today and people ring in to debate and voice their opinions. It's sometimes very sad and I have shed a few tears listening to the show.
Then at 2pm it's Steve Wright - Steve and his team are very funny - I love the factoids and when they have guests on. They once had Take That presenting with them and it was brilliant and very funny. I hate it when they are on holiday and Chris Tarrant stands in. Don't like Chris Tarrant on the radio.
Then at 5pm it's Drive Time with Simon Mayo. BRILLIANT! I love the confession at 545 - sometimes the stories have been very very funny.
I normally switch off at 7pm as it's not really my cup of tea then but now Jamie Cullen has a show which is brilliant and I've sometimes caught the Jo Whiley show and she's very good too.
I do miss Terry Wogan but his shows on a Sunday are very good and he is the best presenter ever (apart from Chris Evans of course!)
Radio 2 is the best radio station for me.
The laptop itself is very heavy and not easy to carry around but I don't need to carry a laptop around with me all the time so that is fine. It's a great computer and I use it for my self-employed Web Design business.
My only gripe is that it's very sensitive sometimes - I'll be using my mouse to click and drag things and something triggers the "viewing size options in the tools area" and it the screen starts to change size. I haven't worked out why it does this.
The speed of the laptop is brilliant and I can have lots of different windows open.
The battery life is 3 hours but you can't remove the battery - it's screwed in. I've had a few occasions where it has crashed. With previous computers and laptops I have just pressed "alt ctrl del" which has opened the task manager enabling me to close down the program not responding so I can start again. This option doesn't work on this Dell. There were a few times when after having the windows updates - the next time I logged on the computer would crash. This was a windows 7 issue but because the battery couldn't be removed to restart the computer, and I couldn't press "alt ctrl del" I had to wait 3 hours for the battery to drain off and the laptop shut down so I could start again. That was pretty frustrating.
There have been a few windows updates since this and it has happened for a while. I am concerned that when the battery dies I can't just buy a new one and slot it in I will have to pay for someone to install a new one for me.
I have lots of software installed on the laptop and I still have lots of memory left.
All in all this is a great lap top!
I like this learning toy. It is a nice fun way for pre-school kids to learn the alphabet and the nice big red learning pad with carry handle looks bright and attractive. The letters are a nice big size for the little fingers to press, the vowels are red and the consonants are blue. Above each letter is a picture ie a picture of an egg above the letter E.
This is a good learning tool for your child and provides a fun way to prepare their learning before they start school.
There are five activities for your child:
Learning the letters and sounds: press a letter and it will say what the letter is and what it sounds like.
Learning the beginning sound: lets your child press a letter and you will hear the beginning sound.
Find a letter: you are asked to find letters ie - Where is the letter that makes the sound J?
Learn to spell the words: press a letter and it will spell the letters of the picture associated with that letter.
Fun time: press a letter to hear many sounds like a Cat or Dog.
The machine also turns itself off when there has been no activity for about 5 minutes which is good for saving batteries!
There's also buttons in the shape of a circle, star, square and triangle. When you press them it tells you what they are. My two year old knew her shapes by 20 months because of this toy and it keeps her occupied. My 6 year old uses the letter pad to practice his alphabet - it is a good toy and it cost about £20 so good value for money.
This film is brilliant. I love it when I really don't fancy watching a movie and then it turns out to be very entertaining. Liam Nielson plays Bryan an ex CIA agent and I must say his performance was outstanding.
The storyline covers kidnap, drugs, prostitution, and lots of violence so I knew the film was going to be one of those action packed films. What I wasn't expecting was Liam Nielson! If it wasn't for him the film would be rubbish. In my eyes he was better than Keifer Sunderland's Jack Bauer in 24 and I thoroughly enjoyed this film.
On a mission to save his kidnapped teenage daughter in Paris his actions are ruthless, especially when he discovers his contact in Paris has betrayed him. He has only 96 hours to save his daughter and time is running out before she is sold as a sex slave!
A thoroughly entertaining film filled with intelligence tactics and destruction. Look out for the small part played by Holly Valence - a little bit farfetched but that's movies for you!
I joined homestead in January 2009 and created www.love-shoppingx.com. Before I joined homestead I didn't have a clue about how to make a website but their system makes it so easy to learn. Their site builder program is a drag and drop design and "what you see is what you get". They have lots of templates to choose from, free images, buttons and depending on the package you choose you get email addresses and paypal buttons etc.
Once you've designed your webpage you press the publish button and they publish it onto the internet for you. If you can use word and powerpoint then you will easily learn how to use this.
The only thing that bugs me is that I pay about £14 a month for this so its pretty expensive but worth it if you need to learn how to do it. I do make alot of money from this website so the £14 a month doesn't matter as I make it back in earnings from the website.
I would recommend Homestead to any beginner - its a great place to learn how to build webpages and they have a help centre and forum to help you out if you get stuck.
I am a regular visitor of Wacky Warehouse as it's a great place to go when it's raining as it's somewhere fun for your kids to play while you sit and have a coffee and read a magazine.
I often visit the Generous Pioneer in Burley-in-Wharfedale as this is near my home. The Hare and Hounds in Menston is also nearby and the play area for the under fives is really good.
What I like about Wacky is that during term time they have a session called tots time which starts at 930am and ends at 330pm. Lots of mums meet at Wacky with their toddlers and tea, coffee, biscuits and juice is included in the £3.50 entry fee and you can stay as long as you like within the 930am - 330pm time slot. Weekends and school holidays you get about 90 minutes play for the £3.50 so it's not that good value for money.
Wacky also offer a party service which is good fun for the kids. For £5.99 a head you get a 2 hour party, party food, games and party bags. You can pay more for extras like balloons and face painting. My son had his 4th and 6th birthday at Wacky and has attended lots of Wacky birthday parties. He always has a fantastic time.
I very rarely use the pub and restaurant that is attached to a Wacky as it's not my ideal place for a meal out, but I will use the restaurant if I can't be bothered to cook as it's somewhere simple and easy for the kids and their kid's meals are ok. If I was going out for a meal with my husband or friends it wouldn't be my choice.
I have only eaten there twice this year for tea and once at lunch time for a sandwich. We had to send the sandwich back because the bread was stale. My kids are 6 and 2 and they love the Kids ice-cream desert as it comes with sauce and sprinkles separately so they can put this on their ice-cream themselves. The restaurants are always busy and seem to do well because they offer two meals for a tenner so good for people on a budget.
Going back to the wacky warehouse play area - these are fab for the kids. There are ball pools with slides, a big slide that they have to climb up to get to and lots of fun plays soft areas within the play area. I go there just so I can relax with my book while they run around and burn off their energy.
I can understand why some people don't like them but my kids love to play there and if they are happy that's all that matters to me!
I was addicted to this book as soon as I started to read it. It's a very interesting read and tells the story of Eduardo Saverin and Mark Zuckerberg and their involvement in the creation of Facebook.
The book portrays Zuckerberg as your usual computer geek type character with the inability to socially interact with the opposite sex. His Friend Saverin has a desperate need to be accepted into Harvard's secret Phoenix Club and while he embarks on his mission of acceptance Zuckerberg is hacking into Harvard's computers and copying all the ID photos of every female student to create his FaceMash website which resulted in a serious telling off from the Harvard Principle! This was the start of his facebook idea which he spent hours creating in his dorm room.
I did enjoy this book but I'm not sure it's a fair book because there is no input from Zuckerberg, so whilst reading the book, I became aware that its quite one sided and you start to wonder if Zuckerberg has read this and what his thoughts are on this story about him.
A lot of thoughts and queries were generated inside my head after reading this book. I don't one hundred percent believe everything the author wrote but it was a very entertaining addictive read and he does say in his note that his book is based on lots of different sources so some scenes in the book have been recreated .
Roundhay Park was a favourite place of mine during childhood. It's a beautiful park made up of 700 acres of green fields, a lake and woodlands and the home to a mixture of wildlife including, woodpeckers, foxes, roe deer, voles, moles, rabbits and squirrels.
My recent visit with my 2 children and husband was enjoyed thoroughly because we ended up in their Tropical World, home to tropical plants and exotic creatures and butterflies, which you must visit if you go to Roundhay Park (see my separate review on Tropical World).
You will find a nice pleasant lake house café which overlooks Waterloo Lake and during our visit we saw people rowing in the lake and wondered if they were practising for the Regatta!
There were a couple of people fishing and children were enjoying feeding the ducks and swans. There is a long path that follows the lake all the way round and I know that this is a popular meeting place for running clubs and mother and baby groups who meet to walk around the lake and then have lunch in the Roundhay Fox pub/restaurant.
At the end of the upper lake a waterfall meets the Gorge for a pleasant and peaceful walk along footpaths surrounded by natural woodland that is both refreshing and exhilarating.
In the Summer the park is an ideal place to go on a nice hot summer day and in the Winter it is great to wrap up warm and walk around enjoying the scenery. In September you can go just to collect the conkers that have fallen from the trees. The vast amounts of space and hills are very appealing for sledging in the snow and flying a kite on a windy day. A picnic in the park and a game of rounders or cricket with my pals on a sunny Sunday is what I have planned for future trips to Roundhay Park.
A visit in the summer is definitely a must just so my kids can have a ride on the Roundhay Rambler train which runs daily throughout the summer months.
I must say that I was disappointed with the children's play area. This is a huge park and surely they could have provided a better place for the young children to play in. When I think of the great play parks I have been to I was expecting a lot more. The feedback from my 5-year old son was very negative; he thought the children's play park was boring. If you take into account the available space in the park I really think they could have used some of the £8.2m lottery funding to build a much bigger more exciting play area!
Whilst in Roundhay Park you must visit the Mansion - years ago this was a great pub but now this grade II listed building is now a visitor centre for the park with a free exhibition area open from 10am - 6pm in the summer and 10am - 4pm in the winter. It is an impressive building inside and out with a fantastic grand entrance and beautiful staircase dominating the entrance of the building. There is a gift shop and public toilets and it is also now a spectacular venue for corporate events, civil ceremonies, wedding receptions, dinners and conferences.
As we left the path following the lake we climbed up the grassy hill that was scattered with mole holes and stumbled upon the Canal Gardens. There you can sit by the canal and enjoy the fountains. In the spring the lower side of garden is full of crocuses and daffodils and the canal has 3 small jet fountains which my kids enjoyed watching.
While you are walking around the Park you will come across some great features such as; Barrans Fountain, The Friends Garden, The Alhambra garden. Across from the Barran's fountain you will find the Victorian ornamental shelter so take a rest and enjoy the view.
Roundhay Park has also been a venue for some great pop concerts. I was there for the Michael Jackson Bad concert in 1988 and the Dangerous tour in 1992 as well as the fabulous Madonna concert in 1987. Previous years have hosted Bruce Springsteen, Genesis and the latest was Robbie Williams.
It also has a fantastic Bonfire event and firework display every year so if you haven't been to a Roundhay Park bonfire before I highly recommend it. Admission is free and it's not just a bonfire there will be entertainment and lots of stuff for the kids to do.
Roundhay Park is situated 3 miles north of the Leeds city centre off the A58 Wetherby Road at Oakwood and buses number 2 and 12 from Leeds will take you there.
We took our kids to Roundhay Park on Sunday morning. It was a cold brisk fresh day and as we were going home we decided at the last minute to go in Tropical World. I've never been before and wasn't expecting much but we had a fantastic time. My kids loved it and were so excited all the way through our visit.
It's really hot in there so we had to shed some of our winter layers while we were exploring the centre. There were many different animals and the biggest mouse I'd ever seen as well as huge fish and spiders and snakes. My son loved the bearded dragon and the lizards and the turtles. There were huge banana trees and butterflies flying around. Parrots in trees and beautiful birds flying around.
There's a great waterfall which you can stand under and my favourite part of all was the huge area where the Meerkats are. They were superb and very very cute.
There's a nocturnal zone which is very dark and my little 2 year old was quite scared and this was where the owl monkeys and Egyptian bats were kept. It was absolutely fascinating and I was truly impressed with the place though it did cross my mind that it must cost them a fortune in heating bills!
At the end of your tour you end up in the gift shop which is full of cute cuddly toys, games and gifts. It wasn't very expensive and we managed to just spend a couple of pounds on novelty pencils for the kids.
We didn't go to the cafe maybe we'll go there next time we visit.
The gardens surrounding tropical world are lovely and quaint with lots of roses and a couple of pretty fountains. There are lots of memorial benches and this is obviously a very special place for many people.
I have stayed in lots of Marriott hotels and they are my favourite chain. When the Marriott in Leeds first opened in the early 90s it would always be our starting point to the night. We would meet in their bar, John T's which you can enter from the street and have a couple of drinks to start our evening. This was my first memory of the Marriott and in 1997 I had my interview for Virgin Atlantic there to which I was successful. I then spent the next 2 ½ years staying in lots of hotels around the world and many of them were Marriotts.
You can't go wrong with a Marriott. I love their rooms and most rooms I have stayed in have two double beds which is great if you are sharing a room with a friend.
I stayed at the Marriott Leeds for my Hen Night and my 30th birthday. For my birthday they upgraded me to a suite which was fantastic.
What I've noticed about the Marriott is that they are all the same quality all over the world and some are more exclusive than others depending on where you are. It's safe to say that you can't go wrong with a Marriott and you must always take the B&B option because they always put on a great buffet breakfast.
Last November I stayed at the Marriott Dalmahoy in Edinburgh. This is an old building but it was still an enjoyable stay and my room was fantastic and very comfortable.
My best friend had her wedding at the Marriott Hollins Hall and this was a wonderful day enjoyed by all. The grounds at the Marriott Hollins Hall are beautiful, especially on a summer's day - we spent the afternoon out in their gardens drinking Pommes and nibbling on canapés in the sunshine. It was lovely and the staff were great.
Marriotts are good for corporate events too. Most of them have a well equipped business centre and free high-speed internet access as well as a gym and pool. They can provide rooms for business conferences supplying you with everything you need like flip charts, data projectors etc. They will do whatever you ask so if you want tea and coffee and cakes delivering 3 times a day then they will do just that.
So next time you are visiting a city, going away on business or away for the weekend. Try and get a Marriott booking - you won't be disappointed!
I went to Oulton Hall in May this year was pleasantly surprised as it had been refurbished since my last visit 14 years ago!
Oulton Hall is an 18th century mansion situated in the most beautiful gardens which are ideal for a summer wedding. The bedrooms are fantastic and the restaurant has the perfect service with the perfect staff. I was in awe of the head waiter and the wine waiter who were amazing. I've never felt so privileged before!
There are 152 rooms at Oulton Hall and the one I stayed in was luxurious. There was a play station and Sky TV in the room and the usual things you'd expect like free wifi, iron etc.
I was fortunate to have a tour of the place and felt really excited about what they have to offer. Not only are they good for a weekend away or wedding but this place is ideal for corporate events. As a PA I was trying to think of the next event happening at work so I could book this place. They have an excellent day delegate price which is very competitive and the service they offer is fantastic.
They have a 27 hole golf course and a club house separate from the hotel. This club house has a function room that can be hired out for parties and their restaurant: Claret Jug is less formal than the hotel's restaurant and does some great early bird deals. They have wonderful seating scattered about and open fires and in the summer the patio doors are open and you can sit out on the decking looking out onto the 19th hole and it really is a relaxing experience.
I did visit the spa on my visit and was very impressed with their service. The beauty rooms are fabulous and after your treatment there is a relaxation room fitted out with comfortable beds so you can relax and rest in a pleasant peaceful environment. They also have a VIP room which you can hire out. It's fitted with two treatment beds so you and your friend/partner can enjoy treatments side by side and it has its own private Jacuzzi.
Then there's the gym and pool which looked good but of course I was too relaxed to visit!
My meal at the hotel's main restaurant - the Calverley Grill was out of this world. I chose one of the expensive items on the menu - a steak at £42 which is a bit extreme for me but it was well worth it. It was amazing! The service is fantastic and the staff are highly trained. I was very impressed with the head waiter and the wine waiter.
I had a look in the drawing room and this was something from another world for me. They have a butler service to serve anyone wanting afternoon tea or cakes and there's the biggest whisky collection in an exquisite cabinet containing hundreds of whiskies from all over the world. I was told that one of the whiskeys costs over £300 a shot!
Before dinner I did enjoy a drink in the champagne bar and this was lovely. It really was a pleasurable experience and I would recommend this for a romantic weekend away, a wedding, a golf weekend away or a pamper weekend away.
This paddling pool is fantastic. My kids love it. I'd gone online looking for a paddling pool and got carried away when I realised that there were so many paddling pools to choose from.
There was plenty of variety from bog standard paddling pools to ones with sprinkler attachments and many featuring favourite characters like Dora The Explorer and Thomas the Tank Engine. I was also tempted to buy one of the huge family pools but had to think sensibly as my children are only 5 and 2 years old.
When I saw the Gazillion Bubble Sprinkler Play Pool I was immediately drawn to it because of the slide and the sprinkler. My kids love playing with bubbles and love running through the water when I'm watering the garden with the hose and this looked like ideal hot weather fun.
You can attach your hose to the sprinkler and there is also a bubble attachment so when you turn the hose on it activates the sprinkler which activates the bubbles. My 2 year old kept pulling the bubble bottle out and I quickly ran out of the bubble mixture (you get two bottles provided) so I used Johnsons baby wash and this still worked and made them smell nice too!
The only drawback is that it doesn't come with a pump so my husband blew this up himself!
The kids were amazed by this play pool and thoroughly enjoyed their time in our garden in the summer. It is now packed away ready for next summer.