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In the last month me and my partner have just bought our first house, and are spending some time decorating it before we move in. My absolute favourite room in the house, named 'The Den' by the previous owners, is a small room downstairs at the side of the house. I guess they built this instead of having a conservatory, it has lovely patio doors facing out onto the garden. It took us a while to decide what to do with the room but we finally settled on turning it into a mini lounge that we can relax in and look out onto the garden.
I was looking on-line for decorating ideas when I came across www.wallpapermurals.co.uk Admittedly I may have been watching sixty second makeover too much while on my maternity leave but I spent ages looking at all the different murals on the site and decided that we just had to have one in our den.
When you open the website the homepage gives the name of the company, The Dream Scene. Looking at the main page you are immediately drawn to the slide show of various room and office pictures all displaying different murals. If you click the second tab at the top of the homepage you will be able to view all the murals they have available. They have pictures to suite any type of room, so whatever your decorating project there is probably something to suit your plans.
Now those of you who spend less time watching day time TV than me may not know exactly what a mural is so I will do my best to describe it. They are basically a replacement for your normal wallpaper. Instead of rolls of paper with a repeating pattern you can choose a photo mural to add an extra dimension to your room. The only real difference is that instead of one long piece going floor to ceiling the paper is poster size so will have a top and bottom piece. The number of papers depends on the size of the mural you have ordered. Each strip of paper measures approximately 1.4 metres high by 1 meter wide.
The first thing I did once I decided I was going to have a mural in my room was to measure the wall it was going on to make sure it fit. After a couple of hours browsing the gallery and thinking of how I could arrange the room I decided upon the Autumn Forest Mural. It looks like a beautiful green forest and I thought it would fit perfectly with the furniture I have to go in the room. This mural is one of the largest they make and measures 366 X 254 cm which is actually a little bigger than my room. They have other sizes so you can pick one that best suits the size of you room. One thing that disappointed me was that the murals in the gallery could not be resized.
For the more artistic among you there is the option to create your own mural using a photo you have taken. Looking at the site it takes around 5 days once the order is complete to make up your custom mural. The cost is £39.95 per square metre, and they have an installation service for custom papers. I cant comment on the custom designs as I have not used this aspect of the shop.
My mural cost £99.95 which was the most expensive one, the cost is dependant on size with the cheapest being £39.95. The price includes next day special delivery. While it did cost more than normal wallpaper I thought it would be worth the price for the effect it would give in the room.
The website is easy to use so ordering and paying for my item was quick and easy. On checking my email they had sent out an automatic confirmation. The mural was obviously posted out the same day as I received it by 12.30pm the following day. Once I signed for the parcel I could see it was packaged in a long red box, I have to admit to being worried at this point as the box was quite tatty at the ends. I needn't have worried though, I took out the mural which was in a roll protected with brown paper and inspected each of the 8 sheets. They were all in perfect condition, I was slightly concerned with how the mural would look as the clarity of the pictures wasn't very sharp.
For the next step I have to admit to cheating, I handed the mural over to a rather worried looking decorator. He spent a few minutes looking at the instructions in the box. The instructions are also on the website and you follow the steps you would follow for hanging normal wallpaper. The only difference being that you need to lay out the pieces first to ensure they go up in the right place. This was slightly harder than I thought it would be as it talks up so much floor space. The instructions show that the panels are numbered so we presumed that there would be numbers on the back which would have really helped, unfortunately the numbers were not printed on. It was still pretty simple to put up, we just had to keep checking that we had the right piece next.
One word of caution is to be careful as if you make a mistake you would have to buy a second pack to replace the damaged panel. The decorator was happy with putting the mural up for us and said it was no different to normal wallpapering. I asked him what tips he had for anyone if they were going to use one of the murals at home, he advised that people just need to measure carefully for the middle point of the room and to prepare well before they start. It was easy to trim the small amount needed off the mural and it didn't spoil the picture in any way.
I am absolutely in love with my forest room, it is so different to normal wallpaper. Whenever I get round to decorating my sons room I will be straight back to this company. I didn't need to worry about the clarity of the picture once I saw it up, in fact I think if the picture had been any sharper it would make it too intense in the room. I would recommend this company to anyone who wants to try out something different in their home. Even though the panels were not numbered they still get a 5/5 for me. From my experience on this purchase the Dream Scene are a professional, efficient company with brilliant quality products. I have been asked by several visitors to my house where I bought the mural, I just hope that friends would choose a different picture if they order as I like my unique room!
Being a first time mum is a minefield of potential for wasting money. When I was pregnant I spent many hours sat in front of the computer reading lists of what people think are essential baby items. How on earth are you supposed to choose where to spend a limited budget when one person tells you something is essential then the next person tells you the same item was a complete waste?
One thing most people seemed to agree on is that a bouncer or swing is essential for your newborn. Now you have to promise not to laugh here, when I tell you my criteria for spending £89.00 on this Mamas & Papas all singing, all dancing baby swing. I am going to tell myself nobody will think I am completely stupid here, I chose the swing as it was a neutral colour and would match the colours in my lounge. While I was pregnant I was put off by the brightly coloured options so I thought this would be more suitable. As you can see from the dooyoo picture this swing is beige and white. I was so pleased when I got home and it matched my furniture perfectly!
As was obvious to everyone but me, my now 8 month old boy loves his brightly coloured toys, mats and various bouncy toys. My lounge has been transformed into a space which would fit well in any Santa's workshop with all the bright, primary colours, it is nowhere near the tranquil selection of natural colours it once was. With this in mind I should start my review with how useful this product is for the best part of £100, rather than reviewing how well it complemented my colour scheme.
This swing is suitable for babies from birth to the age of six months or 9kg's, which ever is first. At 8 months my boy is not up to the weight limit yet and would still easily fit into the seat and harness so I think I could have used it for longer than six months if I wanted. There are three positions for the back rest so depending on the age of your baby and their head control this can be altered, you can also lay them back if they fall asleep in the swing.
The most important factor of this product for us is the swinging motion. You can alter the speed of the swing depending on the preference of your baby and there are 3 time settings, 5, 10 and 15 minutes. The 15 minute one is the setting I always used as the shorter ones got my newborn off to sleep but he would wake as soon as the motion stopped. With the 15 minute setting he seemed to be in a better sleep and would nap for an 30 minutes to 1 hour after it had finished. The swinging setting requires 4, C batteries which are not included and even when buying good batteries they needed changing every 3-4 weeks so this can really add to the cost of this product.
The next feature of this product I have to admit was rather underwhelming. The light display on the overhead canopy requires a further 2 batteries, this time AA ones. The box described the lights as twinkling, which made me think of soft fairy lights however the only way I can think to describe the light display is as formal in the way the pattern changes. Regardless of what I thought though my son started showing interest in them at around 5 weeks old and was mesmerised by them briefly. The lights are blue and purple in colour. The speed and pattern can be changed but you have to keep an eye out that the lights are working, the red on light on the canopy still lights up when the batteries are low and the display has stopped working. Several times I thought the lights were working when the batteries were empty!
The feature that I really like is the option to play music through the chair. There are lullabies available which are built into the swing but you can also connect an MP3 player using a cable they provide. My son has always liked the baby Einstein music so he always had that playing. There is a volume control so you can set it to a suitable level.
The seat is soft and comfortable, the harness is padded at the top so that it doesn't rub. It can be removed and washed in the washing machine.
I have to admit here that even though I like the product I only used it until he was about 6 weeks old. The main reason for this is that it is actually quite difficult to manoeuvre your baby in and out of the seat due to the design. If you put them in from the front then the toy bar and the sides of the swing can get in the way. I found it hard to reach in while holding my baby and then place him in the correct position in the seat. The toy bar is removable but even when I took it off it was still difficult to get baby into the right position . You can go to the back of the swing to place baby in but then you cant see what you are doing due to the light canopy.
In reflection having a little experience as a parent now this swing is obviously quite a boring design for a baby to get interested in it, even the toy sheep that are on the toy bar are white. He has never shown any interest in them. Having just checked the mamas & papas website this version has gone up to £99 but there is a brightly coloured one for £79 which I think would be more entertaining for young minds.
Even with the limited use I had from this item I am still glad I had it. It was the only way my son would nap during the day, apart from when I was feeding him. I still think a swing is a must have item for those first few weeks but if I could choose again I would look for a different design that was easier to use and for something brighter and more interesting, rather than something that matched my room.
I cant tell you how many times I have been to the dentist, to have him ask me if I am flossing my teeth daily. I would look at him and nod to say that of course I am flossing. He would just smile back as if somehow knowing that I was lying through my almost white but completely un-flossed teeth!
This isn't to say I never tried, it just always seemed I could never master the art. I could manage in between my two front teeth but that was about my limit before I would throw away the string and give it up as a bad job. I know the importance of flossing between you teeth as part of your oral care routine but could just never manage it, and if I am really honest was to lazy to persevere with.
The British Dental Association advises that flossing teeth can help to remove plaque and bacteria from in between your teeth and from underneath your gum line and that regular flossing can help to battle against tooth decay and gum disease. I actually looked on their website about 2 years ago for advice on flossing as I was having trouble with bleeding gums. They have a guideline for people to follow describing the best way to floss your teeth which the following link will take you to.
Even with these helpful instructions I was still finding it difficult to hold the string and floss, luckily for me the website recommended the use of 'flossers' for people still having difficulty.
On my next trip to boots I went to the dental care section and found the Oral-B humming bird along side the dental floss. Without having done much research into what I was going to look for I chose this flosser as I liked the look of it, and it was small so wouldn't take up too much bathroom space. The only difference between my one and the one in the dooyoo picture is that mine is green instead of blue. The length without the refill added to the top is about 6cm and it has a flat base so can be stood up on the bathroom shelf.
The flosser comes with one AAA battery, I have used this item most days for 2 years and have changed the battery twice (please bare in mind that I normally buy poundland batteries so they are not the best quality), with this in mind I think the battery life is pretty good. My one problem with this product it how you change the battery. You have to twist the base of the flosser which pushes up the top of the devise, you then pull out the top and replace the battery. The difficult bit is putting the flosser back together, you have to push down on the top while twisting the base. It isn't an impossible task by any meant but is just a little fiddly and I am an impatient person.
To use the flosser you push one of the disposable flossing attachments onto the top of the device. To turn the flosser on you have to push the button on the back and hold it down while you floss your teeth. The first time I used the Humming bird I was surprised at how easy it was to get between all my teeth. Some at the bottom were more tricky as my teeth there are very close together. After I few days practice I was finding it really easy to use and I could really feel the difference in the cleanliness of my teeth.
The humming bird also comes with a tooth pick attachment, I have only used this once when I had an annoying piece of chicken stuck between my teeth. It was very effective at removing the offending chicken but probably nothing a normal tooth pick couldn't manage.
I did find that when I first started flossing me teeth that I had some bleeding from the gums for the first 4 days. According to the British Dental Association this is completely normal and nothing to worry about. As with anything though if the bleeding carried on for more than a few days when flossing I would advise people to stop using it and get advice from the dentist or hygienist. The dental hygienist is really good for showing you better techniques for flossing and brushing teeth.
At the moment the cheapest place I can see the Oral-B Humming Bird for sale on the internet is at www.amazon.co.uk They are selling the starter kit for £4.27 this includes the humming bird with one battery, 3 flossing attachments and 5 tooth pick attachments. The flossing attachment refills are available for £2.10 for a pack of 15. I have to admit though I search for the refills when they are on special offer and haven't had to buy any for well over a year, I still have lots in stock even though I change it every day.
The true test of the effectiveness really had to be the next dentist visit. After he had looked at my teeth he said to me "I'm glad you finally started flossing". I really have no idea how he could tell but was pleased that there was a noticeable improvement for my efforts. So for around the last two years my teeth have been flossed most nights before bed. I would recommended the humming bird to anyone that finds the traditional string to fiddly. The device is very durable as I have never had a problem with it. It just looses a star as it is a pain to change the battery and I am sure this could have been made easier. I have never suffered form bleeding gums since initially using the flosser so I do believe it has improved the overall health of my gums.
I have loved computer games ever since I first played chucky egg on the school computer many years ago. The one problem I have with most games is the time limits you seem to be under in most games. I have enough pressure at work with meeting targets and fitting a huge workload into too few hours without playing games that also involve rushing about.
Animal crossing games are set in real time and there is no pressure to do things quickly. The game passes through the seasons so you will experience summer, autumn, winter and spring in real time. You can even make a smowman in winter.
The first task when you start the game is the bus ride to your town. You sit on the bus and a character named Rover will talk to you. This is you opportunity to check the date and time of your town, choose the mane of your character and the name of your town. As you get off the bus Rover will give you a town map and advise you to go visit the town hall upon your arrival. If you have played previous versions of this game you will find the start very familiar to the Game cube version. Much of the dialogue appears to be the same and there is only very slight difference in the quality of the graphics.
Use you map to find the town hall, when you walk in go to the counter and depending on the time of day you can talk to Pelly or Phyllis. They will tell you about the houses that are available to buy in the town. If you are the first player to register on your Wii then there will be a choice of 4 houses, I picked the one closest to Nook's shop as you have to visit it so often. You can walk into all the houses and when you step outside the house Tom Nook will appear and ask if you are ready to buy it or want to keep on looking. Once you have chosen your house you have to take a job at Nook's shop in order to start paying him back the Bells (Animal crossings currency) that the house cost.
Use your map to find Nook's shop, every time you create a new town the layout will be slightly different, though it will contain all the major buildings and features. Tom will give you a uniform and then begin to give you tasks to do for him. If you have never played the game before then these jobs are a good way to figure out lots of different aspects of the game. I found it quite tedious, all the time they spent developing this game the tasks are exactly the same as for the game cube version. You have to complete these jobs as you are not allowed to buy the things in Nook's shop until you have finished working for him. Nook will set up an account for you in the town hall where you can pay your mortgage in whatever amounts you like. There is no interest or time frame to paying off the debt but once you pay it off, next time you go to the shop Nook will offer to upgrade your house, there are several upgrades available including larger rooms, a basement and an upstairs. You really need these upgrades to be able to store all the things you have collected during the game. Of course you will want to spend time decorating and arranging the furniture!
Things to do in the town.
Meet the neighbours.
There are several other characters in the town who you will want to get to know. They sometimes ask you to deliver things for them to other villagers and for this you will get a reward. Occasionally you may turn on the game to find a villager has moved out or moved in. if you ignore them for too long they are more likely to leave your town.
Once you have bought a fishing net from the shop you are free to go to the river and sea to start catching fish. You can sell the fish to Nook, donate one of each to the museum and display them in your house. Different fish appear at different times of day, times of year, different places and in different weather. I got this game when it came out just before Christmas and still have some to find. You can also enter a fishing tournament several times through the year to try and win a trophy. The best way to catch a fish is to wait until the ball goes under the water then press A otherwise you may loose the fish.
You will need the net from the shop for this, as with the fish there are many bugs to catch at different times. They can be sold to nook or donated to the museum. You can go and view anything donated to the museum. Some bugs are harder to catch than others, I am still struggling to catch a blooming bee.
Digging up fossils
There are usually 3 fossils per day to be found. You will need the spade for this and you can find a fossil where there is a crack in the ground. Take them to the museum and give them to blathers. He will identify it for you and if it is one that is not on display in the museum he will ask you if he can keep it. If he gives it back to you then they can be quite valuable when sold to Nook.
The other items that can be donated to the museum are paintings, but be aware he can spot a forgery a mile off. Within the museum you can go for a coffee and create star constellations.
You need to keep on top of weeds in your village as there are new ones everyday. You can also cross-breed some of the flowers that you find growing in your town. You can sell the fruit from the trees in your town but you will only get 100 bells per fruit. If you manage to get a non-native fruit from someone else plant it as you will get 500 bells per fruit. You can find coconuts on the beach occasionally these need planting near the sand in order to grow. If you don't have a friend to swap fruit with you can post a piece of fruit to one of the characters in your town, they might just send you back an exotic fruit like an apple or orange!
This is just really the basics of what you can do in this game. There are also special events such as Christmas, jingle will come to town giving out presents if you can find him on Christmas eve. At Easter you can take part in the egg hunt, you will find lots of eggs that you can dig up in exchange for gifts from Zipper T. Bunny. There are loads of other events that take place, you normally get a warning about them several days before on the notice board by the town hall.
The one new thing in this game that wasn't in the game cube version is the city aspect. You can take the bus and visit the city where you can visit different shops and meet other characters. I think this is actually a let down in the game as so much more could have been done here. I think they could have combined the city aspect with the Wi-Fi and meet other players there, to me it feels like a missed opportunity.
If you know anyone else that has this game you can swap friends codes and visit each others towns. There are actually loads of internet forums where you can swap codes with people all over the world. Just be careful, if they want they can chop down all your trees and ruin you grass if they feel like it. Some people have the Wii speak version which allows players to talk to each other, I don't have this as I find it a bit creepy having someone talking to me through the telly! You can type messages to each other by using the Wii remote which is quite easy when you get used to it.
Overall I find this game very addictive and easy to play. I have to admit to being disappointed that that they haven't made more additions from the previous game. I guess I am to old at 28 to be playing computer games but it makes a change from watching TV while feeding my baby. This game costs £29.99 from Amazon and is brilliant value for money when you consider how long you can play it for. There are lots more things to do in the game than I have discussed but I don't want to spoil it too much if you like finding surprises in games. I hope I haven't rambled on too much with this review.
Up till a month ago I wouldn't have had a clue what condensed milk was all about or why you anybody would buy it. All that changed when I volunteered to arrange the favours for my brothers wedding later this year. I thought it would be pretty simple, bought sweets in bags, tea light candles, alcohol miniatures, you know the sorts of things I mean. A nice gesture from me but pretty easy to sort. Well all I can say is I am glad I am pretty much the colour of a bottle of milk already, this way nobody could see the colour drain from my face when my sister in law to be said she liked the idea of giving out home made sweets to all their guests!
I love my brothers fiancée to bits and she is absolutely perfect for my little brother and has given him direction and goals in life that I think he would have never found without her. The problem is she is absolutely perfect at everything, brilliant job, top marks in the year at uni, good at sports, cooking and baking she is also a really nice person. I could just picture the perfect, beautiful wedding with everyone commenting how nice it was that she let a small child make her wedding favours.
This is where my search began, trawling the internet for recipes for home made sweets. I went through several recipes that involved chocolates that melted one hour after they came out of the fridge and created a complete mess to home made fudge, which set as toffee that will break your teeth (not ideal for a dentists wedding) as I couldn't get the temperature quite right.
After several disasters in my kitchen I discovered a very simple recipe which called for condensed milk as the main ingredient. As this meant to be a review of condensed milk ill talk about that first, then tell you all about my simple home made fudge.
For some reason the can comes in a tin containing 397g of Nestle sweetened condensed milk, I have no idea why they don't make this 400g but I'm sure there must be some reason behind it. The ingredients are whole milk, skimmed milk and sugar. The nutritional information is pretty scary, per 50mls it contains 163 calories and 4.1 grams of fat so its probably best not to have the can for a drink!
On opening the can you can see that the milk is a white/cream colour which has a thick consistency. If you pour it off a spoon there will be a coating left behind on the spoon. The taste is exactly what you would expect from sugar and milk combined, absolutely sickly sweet. I had one table spoon full in the interest of writing this review and there is no way I could eat more and I do have a sweet tooth. Once opened you have to keep the milk in the fridge and use it within 3 days. The current price per can is £1.37 in Tesco which does seem pretty pricey and as yet I have not found it on special offer.
The can I bought is not the same as the one in the dooyoo picture, the whole can is red ant there is a picture of caramel shortbread on it instead of the pie that appears on this picture. There is actually a very simple recipe on the can to make the caramel shortbread, I gave this a go and it really is easy and tastes so much better than shop bought as you can use a good thick layer of the caramel when you make it yourself.
As much as I would love to have made the caramel shortbread for the wedding favours I feel that they might make a bit of a mess if they are left out of the fridge for too long.
This is the recipe I found to make for my brothers wedding favours.
200g bar plain milk or white chocolate
½ x 397g can sweetened condensed milk
50g chopped nuts, which ever you like the taste of (or you can leave out) pecans or hazelnuts are really nice
50g dried fruit, sultanas and cranberries are really nice in it, again you can leave the fruit out if you prefer
100g icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
Caster sugar, to sprinkle on the top.
1.Line a square tin measuring about 20cm x 20cm with greaseproof paper.
2.Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a heatproof bowl. Add the condensed milk and place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl is not in contact with the water. I found I had to continuously stir to prevent the chocolate burning on the bottom of the bowl.
3.Heat gently until the chocolate is completely melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the fruit and nuts if you are using them. Add the icing sugar and vanilla extract and stir until evenly combined. This mixture will become like a toffee consistency and will be difficult to stir when it is ready.
4.Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the surface with the back of the spoon. Chill for at least 2 hours until the fudge is firm.
5.Lift out of the tin and remove the paper. Dust the surface lightly with the sugar. Using a sharp knife cut the fudge into small 1cm squares.
The whole process took me about 15 minutes and is really easy to do. I'm not too sure how long they last as they always get eaten within a couple of days. I do normally keep them in the fridge but my partner took some to work in an airtight container and he tells me they didn't become sticky or melt throughout the day.
I am really happy with how these sweets have turned out and will be making up small bags with seven pieces of fudge in each one for the 120 wedding guests! I have to admit I was nervous on giving them to my brother and his partner to try but they loved them and were more than happy for them to be given out as wedding favours.
We have decided on three flavours
Dark chocolate with hazelnuts, orange peel and orange essence instead of vanilla.
Milk chocolate with pecans and raisins.
White chocolate with almonds and cranberries
Everyone will get a combination of the 3 flavours. Having never before in my 28 years bought a can of condensed milk I can say for sure that I am a convert and they will be getting much more business from me in the future. I already plan to make bags up for people at Christmas time.
I always seem to have a packet of Warburtons crumpets in my kitchen, and after much trial and error I have concluded it really does have to be the Warburtons brand I buy. I remember first having them when I was very young and my mum tells me I did become quite obsessed with them and requested them every morning for breakfast. I imagine that my parents became pretty sick of them as they seemed to vanish from our kitchen until I was a student and bought them for myself. In our house growing up crumpets were always called pikelets, I am not sure if this was just a name used in Leeds as I have never heard it anywhere else.
I have been sat for the last ten minutes after eating crumpets smothered in butter wondering how best to describe the taste and texture and am not really sure what to put. I guess they do taste like bread but a more spongy, chewy version. I like to grill them on both sides so they become crispy with a soft centre but I have seen my partner eat them cold out of the pack when he was running late for work one day.
I have tried many brands of crumpets and while on lots of purchases I am happy to buy supermarket own brand, in this case it has to be Warburtons for my crumpets. The only ones I have tried which were better were made and served fresh in betty's tea room in York. Let me be honest, betty's crumpets were a much better version but given that I haven't had a lottery win I will have to stick to Warburtons, often found on special offer in the supermarket at two packs of six crumpets for £1. For some reason the taste and texture of other brands of crumpets just cant compete Warburtons.
Almost any spreadable food is lovely on crumpets, one favourite on mine is crumpets with cheese spread, with a hot cup of tea on the side. I only really like them with various savoury toppings such as butter, Marmite and occasionally pate. My partner loves them with the sweeter options such as jam, peanut butter and chocolate spread. Even my 7 month old has been chewing on a crumpet this morning, though his was a plain one. He ate a little but discovered that the texture was too much fun and preceded to spend his time trying to put his fingers in the holes.
When reading the packet these crumpets appear fairly healthy, each one only having 100 calories and 0.4grams of fat. As soon as you start adding toppings they become unhealthy pretty quickly. The allergy advice on the pack states that they contain gluten and are produced in a bakery which uses milk, soya and egg.
Crumpets are a nice alternative to toast for breakfast, I also occasionally have two for my lunch. I really cant see anything negative about them.
I have had a bank account with HSBC for around 3 years now. The reason I opened the account was because a new branch opened near to me which open on Sunday and until 8pm week nights. This is the branch located in Meadowhall Sheffield. I do use internet banking but sometimes you really do have to go into the branch in person and I liked being able to go on any day of the week.
I now have several accounts with HSBC so I will go over them all separately.
I have my wage paid into this account every month and have several direct debits set up to go out from this account. I also have one standing order which I set up in the branch. I do not have an overdraft set up on this account but have found myself overdrawn on one occasion to the grand total of £2.54. having been a Barclays customer for years I expected charges to be added to my account, however to my pleasant surprise there was no charge, not even a mention of my error by HSBC. I have never had a problem with this account. My transactions and bill payments have all gone smoothly.
I have searched the website this morning for 30 minutes to try and find out the interest rate on this account and it doesn't seem to be anywhere. I don't get paper statements so I am really not sure what my interest rate currently is or how to find out without phoning them or going to the branch. Needless to say that in current times the interest I have received it literally pennies on this account.
I just have the basic account so there is no monthly fee, it is not possible to have an overdraft on this account. They have other accounts available including fee paying accounts, student and graduate accounts and premier accounts for those lucky enough to have a yearly wage of over £100,000 of over £50,000in savings. The HSBC home page has a really good outline of which account would be suitable for you.
Online Bonus Saver
When I first joined HSBC this had a brilliant interest rate however this has plummeted to a rubbish 0.75% AER with a bonus of 0.25% AER if you don't withdraw any money from it during the month. Ad the name suggests you have to open this account online, however if you have any problems once it is open the branch staff can help you out with any issues.
Again as the name suggests has to be opened online. As I am sure everyone knows you can put up to £3600 into this account per year which will be tax free. Following the budget in April this will increase to £5200 next year. Like all my other accounts the interest rate on this has gone down to a rubbish 1.75% AER.
There are many other savings accounts with HSBC and once I have sorted my finances out after moving house I plan to open a regular saver account and a high interest deposit bond to make more out of my savings (not that there is much left after buying our first house!).
I originally opened my credit card to take advantage of the interest free period on a balance transfer. The current offer is 0% interest for 15 months with a 2.9% transfer fee. The variable rate after this is stated as 16.9% APR however this can change on individual basis dependant on your credit check so you cant find out until after you have applied. From my own experience and that of other people I know they seem to start you off with a limit of around £1000 with the option to increase this after 6 months if the account is running smoothly. I paid off my balance before I had to start paying interest and closed the account. I may have kept it if they offered any cash back incentives on purchases.
We have just opened our mortgage account with HSBC and I cant begin to tell you what a nightmare it has been. Firstly ignore whatever the website tells you, the offers are always out of date when you try asking over the phone or in branch. Also don't bank on an offer in principle being accurate when it is time to actually apply. We were initially told we could have the mogtgage with a 10% deposit, then they wanted 15% finally they said we could only have the mortgage if we put in 25%. We decided at this point to look around for a different mortgage provider. I took a look at our credit ratings to check that everything was OK, to my horror I found that HSBC had done 8 credit checks on each of us over the space of 6 days! Prior to this we both had ratings of 900+, now we both have ratings of just over 600.
After speaking to several banks we were left with no choice to take the HSBC offer and find the 25% due to our now low credit rating. We have managed to get a fairly good offer, 3 years fixed at 4.99% but given the choice we would have got our mortgage elsewhere. We do plan to complain after we complete, which is this Friday but I doubt it will get us anywhere.
I have to say HSBC online banking is very efficient and easy to use. Transferring money between accounts is instant as is sending money to others, if I send money to my partner it shows in his account within 30 seconds.
the staff have always seemed polite, helpful and knowledgeable about their products, with the exception of the mortgage that is. I have to admit I love the array of machines they have in the larger branches, my favourite is the coin counter. You just put in your card, tip your money onto a tray and it is counted as you watch and paid into your account. There is also machines to pay in cash, cheques and separate ones for business use. There is always staff on hand if you are looking puzzled at the machines.
This is an outline of the products and services that HSBC offer which I have used. They offer a full range of banking services which you can read about on the website at www.hsbc.co.uk I have used several branches due to moving twice while I have been with them, the customer service has been good in all branches I have used however the older ones have less facilities and older machines so you have to rely on the counter service more and there can be a long wait for this.
At the end of April I went into hospital for an operation, one thing I didn't expect was for my throat to be sore for so long after. While I normally do like to make my own soup there was no way I was up to it so sent my partner out shopping for things I could manage to eat. He came back with a large selection of soup and ice creams for me which was about the best I could manage to swallow for about a week.
The first on I had was Heinz classic cream of chicken soup. It always reminds me of having a cold when I was little, the remedy was always chicken soup and the duvet on the sofa! The chicken soup comes in one of the small Heinz cans and contains 290 grams. The can has the traditional red label with a bowl of steaming chicken soup to tempt you on the front. The can also has a ring pull top which I find really handy, the lid can be a little sharp though so make sure you throw it away carefully straight away. I am not actually sure how much my partner paid for this soup in Tesco but normally it is 66p, or when it is on special offer you can get it at 2 for £1.
One tin is equal to one serving, it contains 144 calories and 8 grams of fat. Normally I would make it completely unhealthy by having it with loads of bread and butter but there was no way I could manage the bread so it turned into a pretty healthy option.
This soup can be heated on the hob or in the microwave. I prefer to heat it on the hob as I find it develops a skin on top in the microwave. It takes about 2-3 minutes gently heating on the hob to warm it through. Don't boil it or it looses some taste and changes the consistency.
The colour of the soup is almost the same as the pale yellow/cream colour on the front of the can. It has a nice aroma, and if you walked into the kitchen while it was cooking you would guess form the smell that it was chicken soup. The consistency of the soup is thick and creamy, just perfect for a sore throat. I like the taste of this soup it is very mild in flavour, the one thing that lets it down for me is the chicken pieces. They are very small and to me slightly spoil the taste and texture of the soup. I think I would prefer them to leave out the pieces of chicken, you can tell the flavour of the soup without them. When I make home made chicken soup put large chunks of roasted chicken in it which I prefer to these little bits in Heinz. The other let down for me is it's not really that filling when you have it on it's own. I found myself hungry about an hour after I had eaten it.
Overall I would still buy this soup again, its quick, convenient and filling if eaten with a bread roll. Maybe I could put it through the sieve next time then it would be perfect.
Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) is a medical condition I had never heard of before I was pregnant last year. It is an extremely sever version of morning sickness and can be described as unrelenting, extreme nausea and/or vomiting during pregnancy which prevents an adequate intake of food and fluid. I made this suggestion to dooyoo as I wanted to raise awareness of this condition. During my pregnancy I vomited for the first time before I had my pregnancy test and for the last time on the day my baby was born and every day in between.
There are several theories about why some women develop HG including genetic, biological, overall health and even psychological. As this condition affects less than 1% of pregnancies there is very little funding for research into the condition. One thing I can say for sure is that there was no way that I was vomiting 30 times a day for psychological reasons! The research seems to be leading to HG being caused by pregnancy hormones.
There are five key symptoms linked to Hyperemesis, I will try to explain how each of them effected my pregnancy.
loss of greater than 5% of pre-pregnancy body weight (usually over 10%)
dehydration and production of ketones
difficulty with daily activities
Firstly I should admit that I am overweight and could do to loose a fair bit, however no health professional would advise a pregnant woman to loose weight. At the start of my pregnancy I was just told to have a healthy diet to prevent me gaining too much weight. When I was 6 weeks pregnant I had been sick about 5-10 times every day, but was still managing to eat and drink. I wasn't too concerned when I had lost 6lbs, even my midwife had said this was quite normal at the start of pregnancy. Over the next few weeks my sickness increased and I continued to lose weight. At 22 weeks pregnant I had lost 26lbs and was finding it difficult to eat or drink anything.
Dehydration, ketones, nutritional deficiency and metabolic imbalances.
When I was 8 weeks pregnant I was admitted to hospital for the first time. My partner had called out the GP in the evening as I had been sick 32 times that day. I was sent straight to hospital where they took a blood and urine sample from me. I had high levels of ketones in my urine, ketones are produced when the body is starved of carbohydrates and starts to burn fat for energy. This is actually how the Atkins diet works, but is very unhealthy for both mum and baby. My blood tests also showed I was extremely dehydrated, I was also only passing a very small amount of urine. If this continues for a long period of time acute kidney failure can occur.
My blood test also showed that I had an electrolyte imbalance, meaning that my potassium, sodium, chloride and magnesium levels were incorrect. I stayed in hospital for 3 nights and was treated with IV fluids, with added electrolytes and given injections to stop me being sick.
I was also suffering from malnutrition and was given vitamins to correct this. If untreated malnutrition can lead to several neurological conditions which can eventually cause coma and even death, luckily I was nowhere near this stage.
I felt much better after the intensive treatment I received in hospital and was discharged with tablets to help with the nausea and sickness. Everything was brilliant for a few days but gradually I was sick slightly more each day. In total I was admitted to hospital 3 times for treatment. By my final admission I had read up on the condition and discovered that if I lived in America they would provide home nursing and equipment to manage the condition so it didn't become so severe that I needed to be in hospital. It felt like the NHS would only act each time when I had pretty much stopped passing urine.
After pestering my consultant constantly he agreed to allow me to have injections for the sickness at home but would not allow the IV fluids to be given at home. I have to say that I was only allowed the injections at home because my partner is a doctor and could give them to me, if I didn't have him they wouldn't have provided a nurse or midwife at home to help me. I think I would have had to stay in hospital for the duration of my pregnancy.
Difficulty with daily activities.
This is the really big one, during my pregnancy I had 11 weeks off sick from work. I couldn't go out, drive, cook, even walking upstairs made me sick. Every time I moved to do something I was sick. I think I was about 24 weeks pregnant when I went back to work, at this point I was only sick about 10-15 times a day and was managing to eat and drink better.
I can't begin to say how horrible this illness was especially when everyone was saying it was just morning sickness. I tried everything to stop it but none of the morning sickness remedies worked at all. I was so worried for my baby, however all the doctors and midwives I saw said that what little fluid and nutrition I managed to get would go to my baby first so he would be OK. One trick I used was to have a drink with me constantly and to sip it every ten minutes. I even set my alarm to ring every hour over night so I could have a drink.
When I was 30 weeks pregnant I was only sick about 5 times a day so I could start to live a pretty normal life again. I was able to eat and drink properly and when on the morning before my baby was born I weighed 1lb under what I was at the start of the pregnancy and my baby was born at a healthy 7lb 3oz.
My main advice to anyone who might have this is to get it treated early. The longer it goes on the worse it gets and the more risks there are for you and your baby. Hopefully other people might have a GP that is better at treating Hyperemesis but if you have a GP like mine you need to learn about the condition yourself and then pester them to be given tablets for the sickness early on. There doesn't seem anything to diagnose this condition until you have lost weight. From the reading I have done I would suggest that you are at risk if your sickness continues throughout the day and/or overnight.
There is no way to know if I would have Hyperemesis with a second pregnancy. So we are prepared if it happened again my partner is putting aside money every month to pay for someone to help me at home through the day if it was needed as there is no way I could manage alone with a toddler!
I haven't gone over all the potential complications of this condition as I wanted to review how it affected me. A good link for people wanting to read more is http://www.hyperemesis.org/index.php
If anyone has questions let me know I'm happy to answer. Ultimately I don't regret a second of it, the end result was worth it all.
When my baby was around 2 months old I was wandering round our local Early Learning Centre looking for any toys which might entertain such a young child. I found the baby Rainmaker in the music section, it had the youngest age range in the section. It is recommended for children aged 3-18 months. The toy normally costs £7 but I had a voucher for 20% off so got it for £5.60.
The rainmaker is 25cm long and is cylindrical in shape. The body of the toy is made of clear plastic with a blue cap at one end and green cap at the other. On the picture Dooyoo have provided you can see a pink and red band around the toy, these are a rubber material. The pink band has textured dots on and the red one has textured stripes.
Inside the rain maker there is a spindle running from one end to the other, threaded onto the spindle are 8 disks which work as filters for the beads inside the rainmaker, the filters are in different colours, each filter has 3 holes. The filters are smaller than the main body of the rainmaker so as well as the holes in the middle there is space round the edges for the beads to fall. There are approximately 150-200 small, multi-coloured beads inside the rainmaker, I can't count them as it's not possible to open it.
If you use the rainmaker as you would turn an egg timer you will hear a noise which sounds like rain cascading onto a conservatory roof. If you shake it it sounds more like a really noisy rattle. I quite like the noise but my partner finds it quite annoying.
Despite being a month under the recommended age for this toy my baby was mesmerised by the sound of it and would stare at it for ages when I kept on turning it over for him. By 3 months he was grabbing at it but was unable to hold it properly as it was quite wide for his small hands. This toy was brilliant entertainment for him until he was 5.5 months old. At this point he wanted to play with it more independently, he was able to hold it with both hands but inevitably within a minute of holding it he would bang it on his head. As the to is made of very hard plastic this led to tears and me having to put the toy away.
He is now 7 months old and is a little more coordinated with his hands, but is still managing to hurt himself with it. He is at a stage where he will allow me to hold it with him for a short time but then wants to assert his independence and take it off me. Despite the problems we are having with this toy right now I still think it was worth the money I paid for it. It is durable, and has been dropped on our wood floors and in the garden by my friends 3 year old many times, no damage has occurred to the toy. I am sure in a couple of months he will be able to play with it again without hitting his head.
Overall I would recommended this toy for young baby's as it has helped sooth my baby on several occasions when he was crying. For me the sound was a welcome change to playing so many nursery rhymes. Just be careful with the rainmaker when your baby is starting to want to play more independently. With the combination of textures, sound and colours this toy stimulates baby's senses, including sight, hearing and touch. It can also help to develop hand eye coordination as your baby learns to turn and shake it.
I have only been writing reviews on Dooyoo for a short time and am addicted to the site. The majority of reviews are well written and it is brilliant to be able to get others perspective on prospective purchases. I am slowly learning from everyone here what makes a good review and how I can improve my writing. As well as personal experience with a product I do think it is important in some subjects that safety information is included as mandatory. There is one category of reviews that I feel uncomfortable in the way they are presented, and have seen working in hospitals how harmful partial information can be.
Speaking as a registered nurse I find that many of the reviews written on medicines lack information related to the safety and appropriate use of different drugs. With the exception of alcohol poisoning the most common reason to be admitted for poisoning to A&E in the UK is for paracetamol poisoning. Admission to hospital for paracetamol poisoning is not just deliberate overdose but can be for accidental overdose. Paracetamol poisoning accounts for more than 70,000 hospital admissions per year. The incidence of accidental paracetamol overdose has increased due to a high number of combination drugs being introduced which are available over the counter. This includes many of the cold and flu remedies which I have seen reviewed with no mention of the paracetamol content. People with certain medical conditions or taking certain drugs are more susceptible to the effects of paracetamol, and may need to seek advice from their doctor before taking this drug.
Paracetamol overdose does not have to be taken all in one go, if you exceed the maximum recommended dosage it has a cumulative effect. While paracetamol is a safe and effective drug to use if you follow the correct guidelines it is a very dangerous drug if you take an overdose, among other things it can lead to liver failure and death. This is why alarm bells ring in my head whenever I read something that states 'there only 16p just take them' or other similar comments.
This review is not meant to be an attack on anyone who has written a medicine review on Dooyoo. I have to admit I often read them and close the review without rating. This is because I genuinely don't know what rating to give. The majority of reviews are very useful, by this I mean it is really good for people to read about what medicines have helped them in different situations and what hasn't worked as well. I just don't feel any of the available rates can make up for the fact that I feel reviews on medicines should all contain relevant safety information.
I have waited until now to give feedback on this issue as I was trying to come up with a solution to the problem. I think an ideal resolution would be that for every drug that is currently on Dooyoo and for any that are added in the future there should automatically be a box at the top of the review containing the information that it given on the medicine leaflet that is given out with all medicines. I think to ask every member of Dooyoo who writes a medicine review to include safety information is not enough as it is not and should not be subjective information.
Admittedly I don't have much knowledge of how the actual website works and if it would be possible to add an automatic information box to medicine reviews. I feel very strongly that there needs to be more regulation over the content of these reviews, I can't count the number of times I have had a patient who has taken a tablet because someone told them too when in actual fact if they had read the information leaflet they would discover that they shouldn't have taken it.
I have given paracetamol reviews as an example as it it a pretty straight forward one, but the theory applies to all medicines. Medication available over the counter can be just as dangerous as those prescribed by a doctor and everyone should check that each medicine they take is suitable for them. I hope people don't think I am being overly critical of their reviews on medicines and many do contain safety information. As I said earlier it is really helpful to read about what situations different medicines help in and I would hate to loose this advice from the site, I just think there should be certain information that is mandatory for each medication.
I first found www.ovusoft.com in early 2003 after I discovered I was having difficulty in getting pregnant. I had been searching Google for advice on getting pregnant in a bit of a distressed state as I was beginning to think it would never happen for me.
The website is based in America, Ovusoft itself is a medical software development company which has published fertility planning software. There are many aspects to this site so I will try to give a breakdown of everything to fully do justice to the site. The basis for the whole site is the software package they have developed.
The website started from a book titled Taking charge of you fertility written be Toni Weschler who has a masters degree in public health and in America she is a nationally respected women's health educator. From this book a software programme called taking charge of your fertility has been developed. This software is available as a free trial for 15 days and then requires you to pay $39.99 to continue using it. I'm pretty sure when I bought it years ago it was only about $15.00. You can pay via paypal and the software is downloadable so you can use it straight away, you get notified of updates which are available automatically. Obviously the price you pay for the software is changeable depending on the exchange rate at the time, I would recommend any woman who wants to learn more about their monthly cycle and fertility to give the free trial a go and see what you think.
The theory behind the site is the fertility awareness method which they summarise as a natural method of pregnancy achievement and avoidance that requires no drugs or hormones. It relies on simple body signs to determine a woman's fertile period and to estimate her day of ovulation. Because of its ability to accurately identify days of high fertility, it is effective at helping couples achieve pregnancy
The actual software is a monthly calender where you record personal information and can help to indicate if you are ovulating, when your best chance of conception is and if you might be pregnant. The longer you use the software the more information it compiles on you and the more accurate it becomes. You can add as much or as little information to the programme as you want, this includes taking your temperature first thing in the morning, when your period is, when you have sex, if you are taking medication and basically every other piece of information which is related to your fertility.
The information you put into the daily calendar is compiled by the software and can be shown as a graph. Initially when I first used the programme it was confusing as I didn't know what everything meant and it took me a few months to really get the hang of it and make sense of the information. This is where the rest of the website is really helpful. There is a huge members forum which is free to join. There are several sections including;
Infertility and loss
The fertility boards have loads of help and advice on the information you are given by the software, you can even publish your chart for others to see. The downside to the forum is that it is American based, their health system is so different to ours it can be hard to compare circumstances. There are a few British women around the site with some good advice.
On the website there is an index of abbreviations commonly used, you should read this as otherwise it can seem like a foreign language to begin with. The forum has a real community feel to it and people are generally very friendly. There are however several topics which promote heated responses, cause arguments and eventually get deleted. These topics seem to occur on the parenting board and involve issues surrounding sleep, discipline and feeding infants.
Advantages of the software for me
It made me aware of my cycle, or rather lack of cycle. It identified that I did not ovulate naturally which was later confirmed by my doctor. When I finally got my first appointment with a fertility specialist he asked me to monitor my cycle for a few months, I sheepishly took the charts out of my bag which I had printed off the computer presuming he would think I was crazy. He looked at them for 5 minutes and said looking at the information I probably wasn't ovulating and ordered the tests to confirm. I think this reduced my waiting time by 6 months as I had so much information to give to my consultant at the first appointment. It also gave me a good background knowledge to go into the first appointment with.
Disadvantages of the software for me
I became obsessive with it to the point where I was spending every free minute on the computer. You can tell from reading the forums that lots of people face the same problem. A point came when I realised that I had to take a step back as it was becoming an unhealthy obsession. I know 'relaxing' wont get you pregnant but the level of stress this created for me at one point can't have done me any favours. It was IVF that got me pregnant in the end.
Overall this website is a brilliant resource and has helped many couples to conceive. I still use it now and then but do limit my time on there. It is important to take a break from it for your sanity sometimes.
I knew when I first found out that I was pregnant that I wanted to breastfeed my baby. A little naively that was about as much thought as I put into it until I was 7 months pregnant. I had kept asking my partner when we were going to get round to buying everything that we needed as I had only got a few items of clothing up to that point. I wanted to invest in a breast pump as I wanted other people to be able to feed my son but really didn't want to give him formula.
When we finally went out on a huge shopping trip to say we were overwhelmed was an understatement. I had a list of everything I had decided we needed and on this list was a breast pump. We stood in the feeding isle in toys are us completely confused by the array of items in front of us. It was actually one of the shop staff that pointed us in the direction of the Tommee Tippee closer to nature freedom breast pump. She suggested this as it was half price at the time and advised me that if I found I would need to use a pump on a regular basis then I might want to look at investing in an electric pump. The normal price of the Tommee Tippee closer to nature freedom breast pump is £24.99 however there always seems to be special offers on them, even the direct website has them reduced to £17.99 at the moment.
We got the pump home along with everything else we had bought and put it to one side, it was much more fun for me to set up the nursery and fiddle about with all the cute things that we had bought. Fast forward a few weeks and I brought my new baby boy home from the hospital. For the first 2 weeks breastfeeding was very difficult without thinking about pumping as well.
My baby was about 3 weeks old when I first took the pump out of the box. Inside it contains;
1 sterilising box and lid
1 breast pump adaptor
1 solid lid for the bottle
1 size one silicone teat and cap
1 instruction manual
6 breast pads
The instruction manual for using this pump is extensive and lucky for me it is also on the Tommee Tippee website, I have a bad habit of losing these things.
After following the instructions to clean and sterilise all the pieces I sat with with all the pieces in front of me ready to assemble it. For the most part it was easy with the exception of pushing the handle into the pump, it took me about 10 minutes to attach them together as it is a very tight fit.
With some trepidation I went to use the pump for the first time. You have to rest your breast into the holder, this is cone shaped so is designed to be 'one size fits all'. I have to say though I think if I was any bigger then it would have been very difficult to use this pump, if you are bigger than a D cup before pregnancy you might want to look at other options.
Once you are sat comfortably and the pump is in place you have to squeeze the handle in order to start expressing milk. I started very gently to get used to the sensation and gradually built up the
pressure I was using. The first time I used the pump I only used it for 10 minutes and had expressed about 10mls I then moved to the other side and did the same again. I carried on using the pump once a day for a week and by the end of the week I was managing to express 90-120mls in half an hour. After 30 minutes of pumping my hand was feeling crampy from squeezing the handle of the pump. Other than that I found it pretty easy and hassle free once I was into the swing of it. If you plan to store breast milk you will have to buy special freezer bags that you can pick up in most supermarkets or baby shops like Mothercare. While the sensation from using the pump is a little odd it is not at all painful, and because this is a manual pump you are able to regulate the pressure yourself.
Once I had a small supply of milk frozen I decided it would be a good idea to try giving him some. Using a bottle my partner went to feed him. My baby didn't have a clue what to do, he had absolutely no idea how to feed from a bottle. 30 minutes and lots of crying later we pretty much gave up on the idea. I am having a full year off work and have never left him with anyone even at 6 months so the pump went away for the next 5 months.
I am using the pump again now to build up a supply in the freezer as I will be going for some surgery next week, hopefully just day surgery but you never know. I have actually spent the last 3 weeks getting him used to drinking from an open top cup. If you do store breast milk you should only keep it in the freezer for 12 weeks before it needs to be discarded.
If you want any more information on breastfeeding this is a useful link
Overall even though I haven't used this pump as much as I initially thought I would, I would say it is a good buy for the price and is handy to be familiar with if you discover you will have to be away from your baby for any length of time. Just don't expect that your breastfed baby will know how to feed form a bottle. I think if you had to go back to work early and pump loads an electric pump would be better to save you from hand cramp. Remember that no pump will be as effective as your baby for this job.
There is no sign of damage or wearing to any of the parts in the time I have had this product and it is easy to store in the plastic box you get with it for sterilising. All the parts are completely free from BPA, otherwise known as Bisphenol A.
I first bought Tesco own brand Fiery Ginger Beer two years ago when I started being more careful with money and stopped paying out a fortune for branded fizzy drinks. It is normally priced at 47p for a 2l bottle but is currently on special offer at 3 for £1.20. It is quite often on this special offer however keep your eye open for it on offer at 3 for £1, I noticed this offer just before Christmas so stocked up. The ginger beer had a one year best before date so plenty of time to drink up our supply.
Tesco ginger beer comes in a brown transparent plastic bottle with a matching brown label. There is a picture of a glass of ginger beer on the label. It does stand out on the supermarket shelf as most of the bottles are clear plastic.
On pouring out the ginger beer into a glass it is a pale yellow/ginger colour and smells of ginger. This drink does taste of ginger and is not too sweet, I have found that some brands of ginger beer can be too sugary and therefore sickly but Tesco seems to have got the balance just right here. This drink is very fizzy when you first open the bottle and I do find that I need to leave the first glass for 15 minutes before drinking as I don't like the bubbles going up my nose. The taste is very refreshing and thirst quenching, I love it served with ice on hot days.
I have to say that this is not my favourite ginger beer, my preference would be for D & G Old Jamaica Ginger Beer because the ginger taste is stronger. The price of this is about 40p for a can and isn't really worth the extra cost. Taste wise Tesco would come second for me. I recently wasted 99p on a 1litre bottle from Marks & Spencer and was so disappointed to find it was full of bubbles, sugar and no real ginger taste.
Tesco own brand ginger beer has no artificial flavours or colours but does have artificial preservatives and stabilisers. Per 100mls it contains 50 calories and a trace of fat. They cannot guarantee this product to be nut free and it contains gluten.
I thought I would include a drink recipe we have tried using Tesco ginger beer which has proved to be popular with friends and family.
300ml ginger beer
750ml bottle sparkling wine
2 fresh mangoes
200g caster sugar
2 lime juice
Halved lime slices, to serve
Peel mangoes and chop roughly, discard the stones. Blend the mango, sugar and lime juice until smooth. Pour mixture into a jug, when you are ready to serve add the ginger beer and wine. After pouring into a glass add a slice of lime for decoration.
Overall this is a cheap, tasty drink, it just loses one star as it is not my first choice if money wasn't a consideration.
It's an industry worth over £250million every year, the majority of which was generated by Heinz Baked Beans. In October 2005 Branston, the company best known for their famous Pickle launched their Baked Beans after spending more than £10million to develop and launch their new product. After Heinz initially dismissed the potential competition from Branston Baked Beans they were to find that by early 2006 Branston had already captured almost 10% of the market.
So what do I think of Branston Baked Beans? Firstly the tin is eye catching on the supermarket shelf. It has a shiny silver label with a bold logo on the front. I find it does stand out against the many different tinned foods on the supermarket isle. A 420g tin will normally cost 63p in Tesco but I have often found them on special offer at 4 for £1, I always take this opportunity to stock up.
The can does not have a ring pull lid so you do have to get out the trusty, almost redundant can opener from the back of the draw. To be honest I am not all that keen on the ring pulls as I have broken and bent enough nails trying to lift the ring.
On opening the can, it is full of beans, there isn't an inch of sauce at the top before you find the beans like you sometimes get with cheaper products. When you pour the beans out you have to use a spoon as they are packed into the can. To me this is a good sign as it means that the sauce is thick and not watery.
I always heat up the beans on the hob as the sauce becomes too dry for my liking in the microwave. On stirring the pan you can see that the beans are quite big and that the sauce is rich in colour and clings to the beans well.
For me the best way to have Baked Beans is on toast, its a quick, easy and tasty meal. The beans are tender to taste but not soft enough that they become mushy when cooked or eaten. The sauce has a strong taste of tomato and is not at all watery. I never buy value baked beans as I find them too watery, Branston baked beans in my opinion are slightly better than Heinz as the sauce is thicker.
Per half a can they contain 183 calories and 0.8 grams of fat. This seems pretty healthy for such a quick, convenient food. I just have have stopped putting cheese on top now and have them with brown bread, I don't even add margarine or butter as don't think you notice it is there once you eat it. Of course there are hundreds of ways to eat baked beans. One favourite of my partners is if I stir a small amount of chilli powder into them when they are heating up.
The biggest reason Branston is my choice of baked beans has nothing to do with what's in the can however. The main reason my cupboards are well stocked is that the tins are stackable. The bottom of the tin is designed to fit inside the rim on the top of the next one. When Heinz removed this feature from their cans I can't tell you how many times I have been searching in the back of a cupboard only to have a can of food fall out. Overall this product has everything I need from canned beans. For me Branston wins the battle of the beans.