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It was the week I had my mock GCSE's - I was 15. I'd been dreading that week for ages because I knew I just hadn't worked hard enough... I'd been spending lots of time with my boyfriend at his house because I just didn't get along with my family and staying at home for any length of time resulted in the same old arguments.
That morning I'd been drinking some fridge-cold orange juice and promptly gave it to the toilet, I had no idea why - I put it down to dodgy juice - that or being tired, I'd been so tired for ages, of course I blamed this on staying out until 11pm every night.
I had to run out of my Food Tech exam to be sick, I was so nervous to walk back in the exam room and have everyone look at me that I waited outside.
Later that night I had the most intense stomach pains ever. I didn't feel sick anymore, it wasn't period pains. I never moaned too much about being ill, I would just go in my room and feel sorry for myself, but this time was different and I was in agony, I made my mum take me to the hospital, where I was taken to a side room and doctors couldn't understand where the pain was coming from so they did a pregnancy test.
Around 30 minutes later a nurse came in the room and told me the news - I was pregnant. My first thought wasn't fear, guilt or maternal instincts. My first thought was, oh my god - I need to get rid of it. My second was how could I have been so stupid?? I asked the nurse if she could tell my mother because I couldn't bring myself to do it. I was amazed - she was fine about it, for a moment. Then she went crazy at me, but I told her to get over it, it's happened and I will get rid of it, simple as that.
My boyfriend felt so guilty, so stupid. He was a level headed 16 year old, we just made a mistake; a mistake that would cost us both for a long time regardless of the outcome.
A few days later I went into the women's centre and was given a tablet. They told me to go back the next morning where I would be staying the whole day. I thought the tablet was to prepare me for the next day but it didn't quite work like that.
I can't explain to you the pain I felt that night in bed, I must have bled more than a car crash victim, and I went to the toilet where it all happened and there I was - that moment was never going to leave my memory.
The foetus was white, with a black spot where the heart was going to be. It had ears already shaped and if you looked closely enough the fingers had already started to form.
Why don't they show you this in school? It would have made me think more realistically. Next came the placenta, which was so small I had to pull it out - it was weird, like flesh.
That was 8 years ago. My mum told me to flush it down the toilet - I did.
I've always been of the opinion that it's not truly a life until a certain time, and my pregnancy after 11 weeks was not beyond that threshold. Thing is, when you see it for yourself you change your feelings.
I didn't learn my lesson much - I got pregnant again at 17 and I truly believe I was and am emotionally mature enough to have had a baby. I have never stopped working since he was born, and we have a cosy life now, I wouldn't change anything.
Schools don't teach you anything, I think the number of teenage pregnancies is a disgrace, and unfortunately I am part of the statistic.
I wouldn't have an abortion now, or recommend one - aside from rape or severe disability - I'm open minded, but my mind is scarred by what I saw that night when I was 15.
I was unsure whether to discuss this in Abortion, or Teenage Pregancies, but for me the two are connected so it didn't matter either way.
Okay, I'm going to start by saying that I'm generally a latecomer to all music. No matter what or who it is, it's becoming a habit of mine to get into an artist once the hype has all died down.
The same applies here. Around the time Rehab came out, I was aware of Amy Winehouse - I just didn't rate her much. I heard 'Back to Black' (the track) on Youtube while browsing one night, and it drew me in enough to download the album. It's a genuine shame she has her current reputation - this album proves she is hugely talented.
Well we all know this one don't we? Irritatingly catchy; no one can deny this is a brilliant pop record, and even for me who gets bored easily, I'm not too sick of it yet; although when it was on the radio every 3rd song I was.
You Know I'm No Good.....
What can we say? She did warn us she was no good.
Anyone who's a fan of the X Factor (yes I admit I'm a fan) will remember Rachel singing this in her first auditions in what turned out to be her single best performance on the show. But enough of that...
This is a great song, it never sounds out of place in a classy bistro at night it seems to bring a fantastic atmosphere no matter what.
Me and Mr Jones.....
Ooooh.. it's an angry one. I love this song, she's so feisty and I for one wouldn't f&ck with her!! Even so, this song is still so classy and I want to say motown, not sure why! Just brilliant.
The thing I love most about this album is its lyrical ability to connect to anyone who has ever been in a less than perfect relationship. I'm always amazed to hear that a song can sound like it was written for me. I'd say this track needs a few plays; it's definitely a "grower" but even when fully grown it's not as special as the rest of the album...So moving on...
Back to Black....
So here we are, at the title track and reason I bought this album.
I could rave all day about fantastic this song is, if you've never heard it - load it up on Youtube at least. When my partner left me last year, he went back to an ex - at the time I really got into this album meaning this song holds a special place for me, at that time I really did go back to black - whatever that means. I interpreted it as a dark place, but you can take it how you want.
Tears Dry on Their Own.....
You'd almost expect this song to be a slow, heartbreaking song. It's upbeat and wow that chorus sticks like pancakes on a ceiling. I love the way this song gives the impression of a vulnerable upset and heartbroken young woman. It's not the case, listen to it and hear a strong feisty independent woman.
Wake Up Alone....
This song is really sweet - less feisty but still her powerful emotion draws you in. If you've recently split with a partner, and you listen to this song I believe you'd feel your heart sink while crying, and more importantly singing along. Okay so that gives you an image that sounds like something out of a movie but trust me, it does that to you. It's beautiful, breathtaking.
Some Unholy War...
I can't say much about this track, as it was completely missed when I downloaded the album and I've never been very familiar with it. It's a good track, strong and clear lyrics.
He Can Only Hold Her....
You get to hear a few additional notes of her voice she has been hiding. It's not as catchy (by far) as the other tracks on the album, and I've found it hard to feel anything from this song but all the same - I like it, it's just not my favourite.
This is one of those songs that you feel like you've heard before. It's another clue to us about the kind of personality she has. Nice beat, but a mediocre song.
Well if anyone is still reading by now, go buy it! One of the advantages of being a slowcomer to music means that this album is now only £4.99 on Play.com, it won't outdate EVER so it's a good investment.
This whole album holds so much emotional meaning to me, but only because of the genius, powerful lyrics and incredibly catchy tunes. Not to mention her voice, it has more sounds to it that you'll know if you've only heard her singles, so I'd recommend this album to anyone who is undecided on her, as I was.
I bought this for my 5 year old boy; it was to be his "main" Christmas present this year from me.
I was debating between this and a Nintendo DS, and due to money being tight I stuck with the Cyber Pocket, since it was around half the price of the DS and the games are somewhat cheaper, as well as being more educational than some of the Nintendo games I have seen.
VTech is probably one of the most innovative brands as far as kids toys go, so I knew I wouldn't go far wrong with this games console. They are also known for making their toys educational, so I was happy to let my son have this as his first ever games console, there is plenty of time for him to have the likes of the DS.
The box isn't very big of course, so it didn't look as extravagant under the Christmas tree as some of his other toys, not that it mattered - this was an instant hit.
The console comes with Scooby Doo's Funland Frenzy game; which, as far as my son goes, I wasn't too optimistic about because he's not a fan of Scooby. Or if you buy the pink version, I believe it comes with a Cinderella game.
_____________________The console: _____________________
The machine itself is really quite bulky, but it doesn't matter. It has a flip up screen and a touchpad which allows for more interactive game-play using a pen; this encourages hand-eye co-ordination in a fun way, just one of the many impressive features. The pen can be handily clipped onto the back of the console when not in use, something I didn't discover until a few days of having it.
Another thing you should note, is that if you've ever bought your child a VSmile console (not handheld, or indeed the non-flip screen version of the handheld) then the games are compatible with all of these, so it may well be that you don't need to buy the games if you have them already.
_____________________The buttons: _____________________
Around the touchpad there are the usual useful buttons. The first is the Exit button which you can use to navigate back through the menus in-game. Under this is a help button, which in most games will remind your child what to do next in case he forgets. There is also a Learning Zone button which is a handy shortcut to get to that part of your game, although we've never really used this.
On the right side is On and Off buttons, clearly labelled for young readers. There's also an Enter button, but I can't see why this would need to be used since there's a big round button which does the same thing.
Underneath is the 4 coloured buttons which your child will be prompted to use in most games.
The main buttons are the "joystick" direction pad and a big round enter button; both of these are big, round, and well-placed for little or large fingers and thumbs. There is a small clip on the back of the machine which you can use to flip these buttons upside down, to reveal these buttons in blue, and opposite for left handed users.
_____________________The screen: _____________________
The screen itself is clear, large and bright. You can adjust the contrast with a dial on the front of the console, but ours has stayed on highest. There is also a handy volume control.
When flipping up the screen the first thing I noticed was that you cannot choose how far back you have the screen, which was just a minor niggle, it will only stay part way up if you keep very still, but it's designed to be folded all the way back.
_____________________The extras: _____________________
There is a built in microphone, but I've not yet used a game which requires this, I'm sure there's plenty. There is a headphone socket which is also a nice little extra.
In the box you get a cable to connect to the TV, very handy and easy to do. Simply plug in the white and yellow connectors and it shows on your large TV screen; although not crystal clear, but good enough.
You also get a wrist strap, but as I mentioned earlier it is a little bulky so I'm not sure I'd let my little one carry it around anywhere far.
_____________________The games: _____________________
The games come in a range of ages and characters. The ones I bought are Disney Pixar Cars, Nemo and Wall-E, all of which have been hits - but my son (who doesn't like Scooby) particularly likes the game it came with.
I was concerned I'd bought games aged 4-6 for my almost 6 year old but there are different levels of difficulty which you can select so they are fine.
_____________________The price: _____________________
I paid £49 for the console in Toys'r'us, which was £10 lower than RRP.
I also claimed £10 cashback from VTech directly - I believe this promotion runs until March 2009, I posted the barcode and receipt to the address on the box, along with my name and address and received a £10 cheque a week later, along with my receipt.
The games are expensive though, I bought them on a 3 for 2 offer which was available to me as I was buying the console at the same time, they generally cost around £18 - £22 each which is a little too much in my opinion - it is worth finding out if your friends have any of the VSmile range so you can swap games etc.
_____________________The batteries: _____________________
It runs on 4 AA batteries which actually (and surprisingly) last quite a long time, it's worth getting some rechargeable ones though. I don't know exactly how many hours of play you'll get but I would estimate at around 6-8 hours before they die.
Alternatively, you could do as I did and buy the 9v adaptor (I paid £5 in a sale but they're generally £6-£9). The problem with this is it's no longer mobile, and the wire isn't very long to allow for moving around. I'll be sticking with the rechargeable batteries unless he starts sitting in one particular spot when he plays. Also if you're halfway through a game and accidently pull the plug then you lose progress! So having batteries in there too is a good idea.
_____________________Overall opinion: _____________________
My son loves it; I like it and have played it regularly. It's educational and fun, and fairly priced if you can get a good deal on games or especially if you have games from an existing VSmile console. He hasn't stopped playing with it since Christmas day.
I would recommend this for anyone who believes their child is too young for some of the older consoles out there, but if you feel you child would grow out of it too quickly (the game go up to age 9 I think) then maybe you'd prefer a DS.
Bisto is a way of life.
Okay okay, it's a way of life for morons like me who have no idea how to make real, homemade gravy.
I tried several times to make my own homemade gravy with traditional gravy salts, and several times it was too salty, too tasteless, or too ....lumpy.
Bisto solves all of these things. It doesn't matter whether you want to use your veg water and meat juices, or water straight from the kettle, Bisto will never let you down.
I always stick with the Beef granules, no matter what I'm cooking, whether it's sausages, chicken, pork or believe it or not - beef. This is because I've found the Chicken one far too salty and haven't really ventured to the others yet, maybe I will on a recommendation?
It doesn't matter how much of a ready-meal-fiend you are, you can surely make any meal a tasty meal with Bisto granules.
No other brand can compare to good old Bisto.
I'm currently cooking mince and dumplings, with the use of these, and maybe one day I'll learn how to make my own gravy.
Until then, "Ah, Bisto".
Nokia, Nokia, Nokia...... I've never wanted to use a phone by any other company than Nokia.
Nokia always come up trumps for me, every time. The handsets are easy to use and the Symbian operating system is easily customisable.
I'm not going to fill my review with hoardes or technical data that you can find elsewhere, this is about my own experience of using this phone, so I'll try and keep this relatively short and sweet.
I bought this phone as slight seconds less than 2 years ago on eBay, because I couldn't afford the £300+ they were going for, without a contract. (In a bid to reduce bills I've never planned to go on an expensive contract, no matter how tempting it is to have the latest phone).
The 3.2 megapixel camera was the biggest reason I wanted this phone, and I have to mention they produce better pictures than my 5 megapixel Fuji camera, and given the camera isn't the main purpose of a phone, I'd say that was a majorly impressive feat. Even the video recordings are surprisingly high in quality.
The biggest reason I always stick with Nokia/Symbian handsets is because you have a whole internet catalogue of themes, games and applications - most of them are free if you look in the right places.
Before I bought this phone, I had a 3250. You know, the one that looked like a choc ice, with the bottom third spinning to turn it into a music phone, and with a poor 2megapixel camera, with no flash - but with fantastic speakers that put even the Sony Walkman phone to shame.
The N73's speakers are better, meaning you have an all round fantastic phone that takes amazing pictures (far, far superior to the SEK700, in terms of picture colour, quality and flash); plays high quality stereo music, and you can turn it into your very own pocket entertainment system with the vast array of downloads you can install onto this.
It takes a good sized memory card, I'm currently using a 1gig which is more than ample for my uses.
The only bad points I can mention are all N-Series phones are known for their bugs, and firmware problems. I seem to recall it taking an age to send a text message since the phone would crash, but a small firmware update soon sorted this, along with the issue I had that it took what felt like hours to delete messages from an overfilled inbox,
The buttons are a good size, not too small, and easy for typing if you're an avid texter.
The biggest downside of the firmware I updated to a few months ago (4.0735) was that although it updated many bugs, it now makes the music player open up on start-up meaning you have to close it manually. But since these things are so customisable there will be ways to stop this.
I would recommend this phone, it's taken many a battering and has served me very well.
I bought this cooker over 2 years ago and it's been my best ever purchase. I paid around £400 for it from Kays Lifestyle, so I expect it was a little overpriced compared to other stores from the catalogue. This didn't include installation but luckily I have a friend who is Corgi registered.
The main reason for this purchase was that I had previously been using an OLD cooker with eye level gas grill - space was limited.
So this was a bonus to see that my new cooker not only had a separate grill, but the grill also doubled as a top oven too.
The cooker looks fantastic, the internal glass door inserts are removable so are very easy to keep clean, and the non stick coating inside the oven and grill makes "cleaning the oven" somewhat less frown-inducing than what I was used to. All of the steel trays and holders are easily removable too.
The main bottom oven pre-heats very quickly, you should follow the guides for fan assisted ovens when deciding cooking time with this oven. The reason i say this, is I was told it was not fan assisted (it has a fan, i'm no expert but i'd say that it assists) and the cooking times are brilliant.
The main oven distibutes the heat perfectly, i've used several cookers which i've had to spin food around halfway through to make sure it's not being burned at the back - but this one never has.
The grill only has one heat setting, but you can adjust the height of the grill pan to vary the heat. The grill pan itself is very generously sized and you are given a handle to keep unattached from the pan to allow for easy storage and is very easy to slide onto the pan.
The top oven is ideal for things like pizza's or anything not worth using the big oven for, although it's not as good at distributing the heat around so I would only use this for cooking small things, preheating cooked food or finishing off things like roasties when making a roast dinner.
The hob has 3 different sizes which I've found to be perfect for cooking any large meal, 1 large, 2 medium and a small simmer hob.
The cooker has a digital display which you can set as a clock, and is really simple to use as a timer, there is a couple of different style beeps you can set too, depending on how well you need to hear it.
The light inside the cooker works on both the top oven/grill and the bottom oven at the same time. It's bright enough to see clearly what you're cooking with the door closed, unlike many other cookers I have used.
This oven got my attention by the brilliant safety features. If you lift down the glass lid when the hob controls are on, it will not only switch off the gas supply, but it will turn the knobs too.
The grill is the same, and shuts off the supply when the door is closed.
I am fully confident I won't have to buy another cooker for at least 10 years, this Stoves oven looks as new as the day i bought it.
I would highly recommend this brand to anyone, just remember to tell them you don't want insurance on it the first time they write to you, or it never ends!
My son is mad about Disney Cars so to buy him this was a no-brainer. It was relatively well priced, and comes complete with sounds and spinning propellers.
It re-enacts the part of the movie where Lightning McQueen takes up an offer from Dinoco to let Mater fulfil a dream of flying in "one of them helicoptors".
There is a pull button under the tail of the helicopter which makes the propellers spin, sadly this function broke on my son's after around 6 months.
The back door opens to allow space for 1 or 2 other cars, but the main part of this toy is that you press the button on the front and out pops Mater (or any other car you want to use) along with Mater's voice saying the below phrases, which anyone who's seen the movie will instantly recognise.
"boy i'm flying"
"i'm happier than a tornado in a trailer park"
I paid around £20 for this toy over a year ago in Woolworths (RIP Wollies) and aside from the above mentioned problem(s) it's lasted well. You can still find these in Toys'r'us at £17.60, which is probably overpriced due to the Disney name but would make a good birthday or Christmas present.
The toy only really holds value to a true Cars fan, if you bought this as a general toy for a child who hasn't seen the film they may find it a little boring and not appreciate it.
They toy is marked as 3+ which is probably accurate due to it's size, as it's supposed to be carried around (flying) then it could be too bulky for any smaller kids.
I haven't changed the batteries, it still contains the display batteries and they haven't run out yet!
Overall it's a nice toy, but I would say it's better to see it as part of a collection of Cars toys, rather than a standalone toy, because it will soon become boring.
Having now heard her album, to compare her to Lily Allen is a travesty. Adele is far better, her smooth voice and song writing skill for starters...
And whilst we're on the subject of comparisons, there's only one similarity to Amy Winehouse - and that is I love both of their albums, when my expectations were low.
Daydreamer: A chilled, melodic start to her debut album, but on first listen you kinda want to skip it to speed up your new listening experience. This is definitely one of those tracks you have to listen to a few times. Vocally she is very good.
Best For Last: Sounds quite bluesy, simple yet effective guitar backing throughout the beginning. Then the song gets going, catchy, warming and just simply easy to listen to. Love it.
Chasing Pavements: The song everyone will have heard already; perfectly placed on the album, vocally excellent and the main reason I noticed her in the first place.
Cold Shoulder: I read on another review the similarities between the intro for this with Massive Attack's Unfinished Sympathy. It's true; the sound is there, for about 10 seconds... The song itself is more upbeat than the 3 previous tracks, and in the middle of it there is a section that reminds me strangely, of Kula Shaker. ("time and time again I play the role of fool")
Crazy For You: Not my favourite song on the album. I do most of my listening in the car and I have been known to skip this one on more than one occasion.
Melt My Heart To Stone: When this song begins is the point in the album where she reminds me of James Morrison. I can't explain why, but it's no bad thing, I am a fan of his work also. Love this song.
First Love: This is a good song, but I for me, it drags a little. Not my favourite, I think I like this less than Crazy For You.
Right As Rain: If she was ever going to be compared to Winehouse, it would be because of this track. Fabulously catchy, I love to sing along to this in the car. I love the lyrics too, definitely one of the best.
Make You Feel My Love: Simple, yet beautiful. It is just the right duration; if it lasted much longer it could get boring.
My Same: If Adele was to ever be compared to Gabriella Cilmi, it would probably be for about 3 seconds into this song. But Adele goes on to prove her refreshing style one more time in another upbeat track with catchy sections, while retaining a smooth blues sound.
Tired: Arguably one of the best, If not THE best song on this album. Her enunciation can remind you of Lily if you are trying to compare. Love this song.
I'm impressed, and very surprised. I haven't yet got bored of this album and 10/12 are all brilliant songs. A strong debut, and to top it off, she's a nice person, she isn't (yet) a media monster and I hope it stays that way. I hope to see her around for years to come.
(Edited to say- I have also published this review on Amazon)
We bought this seat for my 5 year old son who is mad about Disney Cars.
Unlike many booster seats like this, it is made of plastic, not polystyrene, which makes for a more solid, sturdy booster seat.
We've had this for almost 2 years now and it is still going strong, the Disney Cars padded seat cover is removable by velcro, therefore easy to wash. The biggest bonus of it is the side rests which you can tuck the seatbelt into which helps prevent the seatbelt rubbing your little one's face!
I don't believe any booster seat this basic should cost £17 however - since it's a neccesity to have one, but i paid much less in Matalan so it's worth shopping around.
Overall this is a good, sturdy, hardwearing and longlasting booster seat, with the added bonus that it's Disney Cars! If i should ver lose/break (unlikely) this seat, then i'd buy it again.