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Branston baked beans were launched in November 2006 in a direct ploy to take over some of the market dominated by Heinz baked beans. A big advertising campaign was launched with taste tests showing the Branston beans to come out on top. So three years later-which do you prefer?
I usually buy shops own baked beans purely as they are cheaper to have as an side with a main meal but if I am just having beans on toast I tend to use a more expensive brand as you can tell the difference. Personally I prefer the Branston mainly because the sauce is thicker and I hate beans with loads of runny sauce. The taste is a bit more 'tomatoey' also.
The cans I have in the cupboard are different to the one pictured above,the main part of the wrapper is in silver making it look like the can is bare with just the shield shaped logo and picture on the front and the ingredients and instructions on the back. Underneath the logo on the back of the can it says 'Branston is famous for it's pickle and we'd like to become famous for our beans' -I don't think they are quite there yet!
Each 420g tin of beans contains 1.6 grams of fat and 366 calories making them a great healthy choice. Cooking is easy, just put in a saucepan and heat gently while stirring or, if using a microwave, put into a suitable container, cover and vent. Cook for three minutes stirring halfway through the cooking time. Make sure you do cover them as they do tend to explode a bit near the end of cooking!
Branston beans are currently priced at 49p for a 220 gram tin at Tescos or £2.39 for a pack of four 420 gram tins. They very often have offers on for the 4 pack,the last ones I bought were £1.99.
Branston also make a large range of other beans including, beans with sausages, Bloomin big beans (50% bigger than normal beans), Beans with Omga 3, Healthybeans (50% reduced salt and sugar) and also Soya beans in either a sweet chilli or mediterranian sauce...Phew!
I love these beans they are tasty and a good alternative to Heinz
Ok-I have a confession, I am a secret Hollyoaks fan - at the age of 36 I should know better but it is addictive. This 'teen soap' has been running since 1995 and at the start was produced by Phil Redmond who is responsible for Grange Hill.
At that time there was not much programming for teenagers unlike today with programmes like Skins so it was well recieved,not so much by the press who slated it at the start but the public loved it.
Based in Chester the main activity took place in the community college and the local pub (The dog in the pond) These days the locations have grown to include the Loft nightclub,Evisa beauty salon and Il Nosh (a pretentious restuarant run by the equally pretentious Tony)
Tony Hutchinson has been in the soap from the start and is pretty much a fixture in the way Jack Duckworth is in Coronation Street. He is played by Nick Pickard and has in the last few years been joined by his brother John who plays his brother Dom on screen.
In the first episodes there were only a few characters, the main ones were Tony, Jambo (played by Will Mellor), and Carol, played by Natalie Casey-now in Two Pints of lager with Will Mellor.
Nowadays there seem to be hundreds of characters and the programme has suffered a bit because of this, It seems to be trying to fill all the stereotypes of people and storylines, black,white,asian- gay, bi,tranvestite you name it you'll find it in Chester. Just in the last few months we've had murder,drugs,daughter sleeping with Dads girlfriend, prostitution (for drugs),kidnapping, more murder and H.I.V.
Despite all of this it is a good soap to put your feet up and watch while you're having your tea/dinner, there are some amusing moments in between all the drama and most of the actors are convincing. There have been a couple of spin-offs that have been shown late night so they could get away with more shocking story lines (and more girls in underwear),over the years these have included Moving on, Let loose,Crossing the line and Hollyoaks In the City. These spin offs have taken a few characters from the main soap and added even more.
I suppose they need to have a lot of characters so the annual Hollyoaks calendar doesn't have the same people on every year...?!
Over the years I have spent a fortune on dog toys, some last for months, others are eaten in two minutes. These are the top three that I would recommend for destructive doggies!:-
Firstly-the original red Kong toy, These graduated cone shaped toys are ideal for all dogs,either as a chew toy or filled with treats to keep them occupied when alone. If you fill the Kong with dry treats interspersed with some peanut butter you can freeze it to make the treats harder to get out, ideal on a hot summers day as well to cool the dog down a bit. The Medium sized Kong costs £5.37 from Pets at Home,they are also available in variations for puppies (pink and blue), senior dogs (purple) and extreme chewers (black)
Next- Nylabones, these are bones made from nylon (hence the name!) they are extremely tough and last for ages, I paid £7.99 for a big one that has been chewed by my Collie for months now and is still going strong. You can get them in various sizes and they are impregnated with flavour such as beef or chicken. As the dog chews very small slivers of the bone can come away but these pass safely through the dog. Chewing her Nylabone keeps my dog amused for hours.
Lastly, a latex pink pig that she was given for Christmas, I passed it by when I saw it on sale at a local garden centre as it looked very flimsy and my dog will destroy toys in seconds,however she has been playing with it for three weeks now and it has no signs of damage. It is a squeaky toy but it grunts instead of squeaks! When she chews it the sides squash in and the latex rubs against itself, I think this is why she can't get a hold on it to bite it. I'm not sure of the make because the tags were removed as it was a gift but it cost £5.99 it's about 6 inches long and it very lightweight, this makes it ideal to play fetch with especially indoors.
So there you go-keep your dog entertained with these toys
This review has two functions-first to give some hopefully helpful advice to those who have a dental phobia and secondly to recommend a great dental surgery.
As someone who didnt visit the dentist because of a phobia for 10 years it got to the stage where I eventually got an infection and had to go and have four teeth removed. I was in such pain that my mum forced me to make an appointment.
Before I went I visited my doctor to see if there was anything she could give me to calm me enough to get me to the dentist. She prescribed me a low dose of Diazapam (also known as Valium) I took it as directed and sure enough I was calm and relaxed enough to go to the dentist for my consultation. I took it again 2 weeks later to get me to the surgery to have my teeth removed. I had this done under an anaeasthetic somewhere between a local and a general, you have a drip in the back of your hand with the anaeasthetic in,you are aware of the tugging of your teeth but are in no pain and you don't care what they are doing! An anaeasthetist from the local hospital came to the dentist for the procedure which cost about £300. I have heard recently that this procedure can no longer be carried out in dentists but only at the hospital.
If you are putting off treatment because of a phobia I would advise visiting your doctor and enquiring about Diazapam,obviously it is a prescription drug and carries a risk as with all drugs but in my opinion it's worth it, I was in pain for months before treatment and now am absolutely pain free.
The dentist I had my treatment at is the Vicarage Street Dental Surgery in Vicarage Street, Barnstaple, North Devon. They are a very good practice, the dentists are brilliant at dealing with nervous patients and i would recommend them to anyone. You will need to put your name on the waiting list for NHS treatment as they do get booked extremely quickly as soon as there are patient vacancies.
If you don't live near this surgery then it always advisable to ask family and friends where they go, there are good and bad dentists as there are anything else. There is one in particular in my area that give the hospital one third of all their corrective surgery patients in the dental department (info from the surgeon at the hospital) Be wary of surgerys that are constantly taking on NHS patients,if its a good surgery you will usually need to wait.
To sum up, if you need to go don't put it off-there is help for you with your phobia
In my kitchen cupboards you will find lots of value products as I believe that in most cases they are just as good as the branded products. The exception to this is washing up liquid. I have tried many different value and own brands and none are as good as Fairy liquid.
Although it is more expensive - 500ml of Fairy costs 93 pence compared to Tesco standard liquid at 50 pence for 500 ml and Disy liquid at 77 pence for 1 litre. It lasts so much longer and is so effective you don't need to use as much so it actually works out quite cheap per use. I tried the Daisy liquid last time and it was terrible, it didn't foam up properly and you had to use loads to get the dishes clean.
The liquid itself is a clear dark green colour, the bottle is clear with a red lid and has a logo of a baby in a nappy walking into a big bubble.
Fairy is one of those products that reminds you of childhood, the smell takes me back to when we used to use it to refill our little pots of blowing bubbles.
You only need a little bit to get the dishes clean and even though I suffer from exzema on my hands sometimes it doesn't aggravate it at all unlike some other liquids.
I thoroughly recommend Fairy liquid-it's definately worth paying that bit more for.
There are some mornings where you just need that sugar hit to get you awake enough for work so on the way I popped into Lidls looking for a can of Coke, unfortunately they didn't have any so I was stuck with Pepsi which was on offer at 28p a can or 4 for a pound-what a bargain!
It was then that I remembered that i didnt actually like Pepsi but as I hadnt tried it for a while and I'd already paid I thought I might as well try it. On opening the can it didnt seem to fizz as much as coke does. Tastewise it just doesn't taste as 'flavoured' you can taste sugar but the cola taste isn't very pronounced. I drank half the can and left it for an hour, on going back I found the fizziness in the drink was nearly flat, Coke seems to stay fizzy for much longer.
Each can of Pepsi contains 36.3 grams of sugars-your daily recommended allowance is 90 grams-ouch! Obviously Coke isn't any better on this score and they are not advertised as healthy drinks but even so! Of course there are the diet or max versions but in my opinion they are absolutely disgusting.
Overall-at 25p a can it's ok but I wouldn't pay any more, I'm sticking with Coke!
www.smallcarsbighearts.co.uk is the website of the North Devon Mini Register. Contrary to the name the register has members from all over the country and the site was started to keep them in contact and to organise events. It has turned into so much more than that though.
Registration is free, only takes a minute, and then you become a official nutcase (as the members are known) As you post on the forum more your status rises all the way up to Nutcase -certified and sectioned. On the homepage there are links to the different sections -the forum,history of the register, the shop, photos ,info about events and even a games section. The site is clear and easy to navigate your way around.
The forum aka the soapbox has different sections, general,events, for sale and wanted and technical help. Sometimes it is easy to forget that this site is for mini owners as a lot of the threads are completely unrelated but whether you own a mini or not you are welcome and BMW mini owners are accepted too (good job as that what I have!)
Too understand the site a bit better I'd better give you a bit of info about the club itself:-
The main event that the club organises through the website is called the Legendary Grand Tour. This has now been going for ten years, every August Bank holiday Sunday and Monday we take over North Devon and drive in convoy (over 300 minis).Streets are closed for us and thousands of people line the route.You can find clips of this on youtube and it's well worth a watch, particularly the Monday where it is fancy dress for cars and drivers! The route goes through Westward Ho, Barnstaple, Lee Abbey and finishes in Ilfracombe, although the most important place we visit on route is the Childrens Hospice South West (Little Bridge House) in Fremington. This place is the core of why we do what we do, since the register started we have raised over a quarter of a million pounds for charity, we have paid for a messy play area at Little Bridge house ,another at Charlton Farm in Bristol and are now raising money for a new hospice opening soon in Wales. We drive into the grounds of the hospice on our route and the kids are brought out to see the minis come through, you never drive out of there without a tear in your eye as you realise that a lot of the kids watching you won't be here next year.
There are a lot more events happening this year as it is the 50th anniversary of the mini and we are attempting to raise 50,000 to celebrate this fact.
Anyway back to the site , the newest addition to the homepage is a link to the Cry Wolf campaign, This is not a money raising campaign but an awareness raising one. The founder of the register, Mr Terry Baker has twin daughters in their twenties, recently they were both diagnosed with breast cancer, luckily they both survived ( although they had mastectomies ) and one has recently given birth to a daughter. The point of the campaign is that one daughter went to the doctor twice concerned about the lump in her breast and was turned away as 'people your age don't get breast cancer' It took her persistance to get a scan by which time the cancer had spread. Her sister had a similar problem. The campaign is to make it so that any woman of whatever age who goes to the doctors with a suspicious lump should get a scan without having to beg for it. A Facebook page about this has also been started and a link to this and a petition can be found on the smallcarsbighearts website .
This is a great entertaining website but also has a serious side.
In need of cheering up on a cold winter day I purchased this drink at Tescos because it sounded tropical! The box is different to the picture at the top right of this page, it is turquoise blue with, yes, what a surprise, a picture of a pineapple and some coconut on it.
The box contains 1 litre of the drink , which is suitable for vegetarians and costs 86 pence.
On opening the box (it has one of those fiddly pop open plastic lids with the foil inside that you have to peel off) you are met with a gorgeous smell of coconut followed by the sweetness of the pineapple, pouring it into a glass it is a pale translucent yellow colour.
The taste is lovely-like a non-alcoholic Malibu and pineapple, if you drink a lot it gets a bit sickly but it is very refreshing especially when served cold.
A 250ml serving of this drink contains 28.3 grams of sugar-ouch! And also contains 1 gram of fat due to the added condensed skimmed milk and the coconut milk I guess.
Pineapple juice from concentrate (40%)
Sweetened condensed skimmed milk
Coconut milk (1%)
Stabilisers (pectin ,acacia)
Due to the high sugar I would recommend this drink as an occasional treat not for everyday but it is lovely!
Once opened it keeps in the fridge for 5 days.
My local area is relatively new to the whole Lidl experience having only had one branch for just over a year and another opened last month.
A lot of people look down on this German chain for selling 'cheap' food. Yes, it is cheap but what they are missing is that a lot of the time the quality of the products is far better than the equivalently priced items from Tescos/Sainsburys etc. My Mum who usually does all her shopping at Sainsburys makes special trips to Lilds just for their canned fruit which is exceptional.
As you enter the store you are immediately aware that this is a 'budget ' store , there is no music and the goods are stacked high on shelves and on the floor on pallets. Staff are thin on the ground but the store is always tidy and well stocked .
Some good advice is to take your own carrier bags as these are charged for ,various sizes are 3/6/9 pence each. Also credit cards are not accepted but debit cards are.
One thing I won't buy from Lidls is the bread, for some reason it tastes stale to me and I prefer Tescos Value. Apart from that everything else is good, especially the fruit and veg and meat.
They also sell a range of household products ranging from tool kits to underwear-last time I went they were selling bass guitars and a P.A system! These products change on a week to week basis so if you see something snap it up there and then-it won't be around on your next visit.
All in all a recommended shop-forget any snobbery and give it a go
Argos was the scene of one of the most traumatic episodes of my childhood. At the age of ten (a long long time ago) having some birthday money to spend I was unaware that this was no 'normal' shop. I merrily trotted in and up to the counter clutching in my little hand the magic paper slip with the code number of what I wanted written on it (In those days you used to get the slips in the back of the catalogue so you could write them out at home)
My mum waited outside the shop as her big grown up daughter handed over the slip and her birthday money and then ran out of the shop in floods of tears. 'Whats the matter?' 'I gave the lady my birthday money and she didn't give me my toy-wwaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh.
Not my fault that no one explained to me that you had to wait for the item you wanted to come down from the warehouse, i though i'd been robbed by a kindly looking lady in a blue uniform.
Anyway, childhood trauma's aside I now tend to buy from Argos on-line as it saves the flashbacks..er.. I mean the queuing .
The procedure is- go to the tables where the catalogues are laid out for you to pick your items, tap the six digit code of the iem into the keypads at the back of the table-this will tell you instantly if your item is in stock and how many they have of it. Then you need to fill in the item numbers of your goods and how many required onto the slip of paper on the tables, pens are generally provided (if someone hasn't stolen them). After this you need to queue up to pay for your goods, you are given a receipt with a customer number on and also a letter which corresponds with a queuing point, this is where your item will appear from when they send it down for the upstairs warehouse. There is a screen hanging from the ceiling which shows approximately how long you will have to wait and whether your order is on the way. when your customer number is called thats when you go to the counter to collect your item.
It is usually busy in there but at Xmas you cannot move, even with the supposedly time saving booths where you can pay for your item without having to queue up. It tends to be the time you are waiting for your item to be picked from the warehouse that takes the longest anyway.
It is good that you can check availability of your chosen items on the small kepads before you queue up but it's very annoying when things are out of stock.
There is generally a new catalogue twice a year (spring/summer and Autumn/winter )with sales going on in between times, often jewellery around Valentines day, exercise equipment in January etc.
Funnily enough I can't even remember what it was I bought on that fatefull day!
They reckon that the one thing that converts vegetarians back to eating meat is the loss of bacon, now this product isn't going to convince you that you are eating the real thing but it's pretty darn good in it's own right!
Quorn bacon style rashers cost £1.85 at Tescos for 8 rashers, they come in a cardboard box and inside the rashers are fanned out onto a cardboard base covered in plastic. They could really do with a redesign as because this product is frozen it is really difficult to separate the rashers. It says on the pack that you can leave them to defrost for a few minutes so they will separate and then it is perfectly safe to refreeze them. I am generally too impatient to wait and end up trying not to slice my fingers apart using a knife to force them apart.
Cooking is easy, just 2 minutes each side in a bit of oil in a frying pan and job done. They do smell nice while cooking although not much like bacon and the taste is salty and savoury , not as greasy as bacon, in fact these are pretty low in fat as are most Quorn products.
Recommended for an easy veggie snack.
Yet again I am waiting for tea to cook so whilst I'm waiting i will review my main ingredient which is Quorn burgers. I am veggie but my partner isn't so I usually cook meat burgers for him and I have these.
I wouldn't say that if you gave these to a non-veggie that they aren't going to notice they aren't eating meat but they do have a chicken style taste and texture to them. They also are lower in fat than chicken and have more protein which has to be a good thing!
The cooking instructions say to grill, shallow fry or microwave but I usually just chuck them on a baking tray with the oven chips and they are fine. I serve them in a burger bun with cheese letuce and tomato and they taste lovely. The fat content per burger is only 2.4 grams, 0.3 grams of this is saturates and has only 73 cals per burger.
Quorn in a mycoprotein which is basically a mushroom style fungus, these burgers also contain egg white to bind them so are not suitable for vegans. When quorn first came onto the market the eggs used were not free range, they are now and Quorn has therefore won approval from the Vegetarian Society ,you can see their logo on the box.
A box of 4 burgers costs approx £1.49 and are widely available in most supermarkets along with the rest of the Quorn range.
My local branch of Tescos happens to be on my way to work so it's handy if I haven't been bothered to make myself a packed lunch. Recently I have been buying a ready meal of tomato and mozarella Italian pasta which is on offer for £1, unfortunately a lot of the time it is out of stock which seems to be a relatively common occurance in my local branch on a lot of things. I don't know if they under order on purpose or if it's just unexpectedly busy but it is very annoying when it happens all the time. Anyway-i digress...
Tescos in general is a great shop although they have steamrollered over a lot of smaller local shops which closed down when they opened. Much has been made recently about Tescos buying our local independant family run supermarket which was kept so quiet even the staff didn't know, some of them have actually left as they liked working for a locally run firm and didn't want to help a massive conglomerate like Tescos.
The store is well laid out and most things are easy to find, the clothing range used to be good but unfortunately it seems to have shrunk to half it's previous size (the range not the actual clothes) and now there isn't a lot to choose from, our Sainsburys branch has at least three times the choice.
Being a vegetarian I can't really comment on the freshness of the meat and fish but my Mum shops there and has no complaints! The fruit and veg is generally well stocked and in good condition occasionally you can pick up some reduced items but discounts don't tend to be huge.
As well as the food they also do a range of stationery items, Cd's ,Dvds,books and mobile phones. They have a photo developing lab which i have tried and it's well priced with good results.
Special offers tend to be buy one get one free's or 3 for 2's, they used to give you an extra 100 clubcard points here and there on special offer items but I havent seen this recently .
The clubcard scheme itself is a good one if you use the vouchers wisely, every so often they send you vouchers corresponding to the points you have earned while using your clubcard while shopping, the trick is not to use these vouchers off your shopping but to convert them into clubcard deals vouchers which are worth four times the amount. My sister recently converted hers and had a great day out at a Sealife centre and a restaurant meal afterwards. You get a booklet with the deals in when they send you the vouchers so you can choose where you want to go or what you want to buy.
Recently I was sent an email offering me a free Tescos home delivery so I thought i'd give it a go, it was easy to pick what you want on-line and then you choose a 2 hour delivery slot, times range from 7am to 9pm in my area. My shopping arrived on time, there were a couple of substitutions of items that were out of stock, one was ok and one wasn' , the driver took the unsuitable one away and my card was refunded for it the next day. You can tick a box on the order form if you don't want them to substitute items, also if you choose to have your delivery without carrier bags you earn extra 'green' clubcard points.
I recommend Tescos in general but i prefer shopping on-line with them rather than instore as it's a lot less hassle, guess I'm just lazy!!
As I'm having this for tea i thought I might as well review it whilst it's cooking!
This jar of Uncle Bens sweet and sour sauce is 750g which is the largest size they sell, I like to buy this size, use half the sauce to serve two of us and then freeze the other half in a tupperware box to use another time as it works out cheaper than buying smaller jars.
The sauce is originally meant to be served with chicken but i use quorn, you can also just use a selection of vegetables if you prefer. I like this sauce as it's not too spicy even the other half who doesn't like 'foreign food' will eat this.
It contains no artificail colours,flavours or preservatives and only has 0.3 grams of fat per serving, unfortunately it also has 22.5 grams of sugar which isn't so good.
The sauce is quite sweet (hence the name ) but it is offset well by the sourness of the vinegar. It contains some quite large strips of vegetables including carrots,green peppers and red peppers and also has pineapple. (if you like pineapple there is another version of this sauce that has extra pineapple in it)
It is a very bright orange colour and does tend to stain if you are a messy eater like me and usually chuck some down your front.
It does make a good quick meal, just brown some chicken or quorn, chuck in the sauce and simmer for 4-5 mins and thats it, serve with some rice and there you go-speaking of which -mines ready!
Having recently got a freeview box we are still getting used to the vast array of channels now available to us, unfortunately most of them are pants so the one that usually makes it way onto the tv is Dave. Supposedly named because 'everyone knows a Dave' it features what mainly seems to be repeats of programmes such as Top Gear.
I presume this channel is aimed at men going by the name but i find myself watching it quite a lot as it does show some of my favourite programmes especially QI which is presented by the fabulously funny and scarily clever Stephen Fry and Never Mind the Buzzcocks.
Each day there tends to be 2 or 3 hours of the same programme which can get a bit boring-on your 6th episode of Top Gear you tend to lose the will to live a bit, even the novelty of laughing at Jeremy Clarksons early 1990's perm wears off. It does also show new programming though like Mock the Week and World Rally.
To sum up you can usually find something worth watching on this channel.