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If the memory serves me right, my first flight with British Airways was more than 35 years ago.
I lost count of how many flights I made with this airlines since my husband used to work for a Bank in London and spend around 20 weeks abroad every year on business. I accompanied him on some of these, on average 3-4 per year, and in addition to this, we flew with the airmiles he got.
British Airways have gone through different periods, but I still repute them a very good airline, mainly because of their network.
The only area where I found they lack presence is French speaking Africa.
Their flights are actually not so expensive if they are booked well in advance. When we redeemed miles for free flights, we still had to pay for the taxes and we realized that if we were able to plan well in advance, the actual fare was not much higher than what we would pay with the miles only.
Service is completely different in business and in economy. I flew mainly in economy, but I had few occasions were I was in business. Each time I went with my husband, he let me stay on his seat in business instead of him. While in business the staff is literally all over you, in economy you feel that some time asking one extra can of water, as I normally do, because I need to drink frequently, is not always equal to being served with a smile on their face.
If service remains good, in general terms at least, there have been few occasions where I felt let down. Once they broke the handle of my suitcase and they declined to refund or replace it, on the basis that I could still use the suitcase, which was true, as long as I lifted in a very unhealthy way, as opposed to pulling it up from the handle.
On another occasion, coming back from Prague, we were delayed 3 hours. On that occasion I was coming back alone, since my husband would then continue his business trip and therefore I did not have access to the executive lounge. For 3 hours we got nothing to eat, nor to drink, and initially we had been told the delay would only be 30 minutes. This is because they thought they could fix earlier a technical problem with the doors. Although it is one off, I remember I was very much upset by the way they handled the whole thing. I think my husband complained, but because I was the passenger, I only got an apology, while normally in these circumstances they give you free miles if you are a frequent flyer.
Still, although I have been rambling a bit, I prefer British Airways to other airlines.
I have a total of 7 different bank accounts in Uk, and the reason for this si not that I am filthy rich (not filthy poor either, though) nor that I am a money launderer.
The reason is simpler, different banks seem to offer good deals at different point in time and for different products.
Halifax is a bank I have been a client of for a very long time, since when it was a building society.
I currently have my Isa with them and also a couple fo saving accounts which offer a decent rate.
I do not operate online and I normally go to my local branch. In my previous job there was a large branch next to the office and the waiting time was surely bearable, but at this local one, the queue is always too long. This is my major complaint.
Otherwise, I am happy with it.
Service is good and they also regularly offer good deals for mortgages. When my second son applied for one, in the end it was the ebst deal he could find on the high street.
Saving rates are also decent. I never asked for loans.
Overall, not a bad bank, if only queues were shorter at my branch.
Most of my regular shopping is made at Tesco. I also use Sainsbury's and for small shopping the local Somerfield, which is the closer supermarket I have and the only one within a short walking distance.
There is a Lidl in the area where I live and we go there from time to time. The main issue with Lidl is that it is not a large store, at least this one and they do not have much choice. As a result, since most of the time when we go to a supermarket, we intend to maximise our time and buy as much as we can, so that the next visit is as far as possible far away, I do not visit Lidl as often I would like, because, in all honesty, I actual think that there are many good items on sale here.
Lidl position themselves as one of the cheapest brands in the market. They generally have only 1 maximum 2 brands for the same item, and by doing so, they keep prices low. If you are a supplier, and you want to work with Lidl, you know that your margin will be extremely low, but you will generate volume.
What do I buy at Lidl then?
Well, their salmon is really good for example. Some of the cheeses are also perfectly fine. My son loves their multivitamin juice. I also get few canned and tinned items. Tomatoes are generally also ok, and yoghurt is also an item we out in the trolley.
Lidl may sound and look a bit messy, and in fact it is. Goods can still be in the large boxes and you just go there and take them out, but it is all part of their philosiphy to keep prices low.
There are long queues, or at least, there is never a short one, but it is ok.
As I said, pity the choice is limited, but from time to time I shop here and you may want to consider doing the same.
I mainly do the shopping for my enlarged family and if I am on my own, it has to be Tesco. I also shop at Asda and Sainsbury's when I am visiting my grown up sons.
Somerfield is not a place I normally go to for large shopping, but since it is the closest to where I live, if I need few items and I know there are available there, I normally but thm at Somerfield.
Somerfield has never really attracted me. I feel they are not really offering good deals, some items are surely quite overpriced and also the quality is poor.
Particularly in the area of meat, there is no way I can buy anything from them apart from their lamb legs, which they regularly offer at half price and make for a decent roast for 4-6 adults.
What I buy from Somerfields are eggs, water, some beers on offer which I know my sons like. I also buy bacon, and some canned or tinned food, but I know that most of the time it is priced above Tesco's levels.
The people working at Somerfield are generally keen to help, but they do not seem to have a sound background. They are amicable and open, but I feel that they have not been deeply trained.
Somerfield also sell items from the Co0operative. Some of these are actual decent and I wish they introduced more, Iguess it will be the only way for Somerfield to stay ahead of competition.
In conclusion, if you can avoid Somerfield and shop somewhere else, do it.
Google mail is the free emailing service which is part of Google and is web based.
I already had an email address and account with Yahoo when I started exploring the possibility of having one with Google too. There are some features and benefits of the Google solution which brought me to this.
To begin with, Google organize the emails in a format similar to chats. The first time you see this, you may find it a bit strange, and even non user friendly, but very soon I realized it is a nicer way to keep track of your ongoing emails with friends.
What really attracted me to Google is the possibility of labelling and assigning to more than one folder one specific contact. Say for example your uncle is a fan of football and also likes gardening. You can assign this contact to "family members", "football fans" and "gardening lovers". Particularly if you deal with many different people, it can be a good way to be able to find those contacts which matter to you when you need them.
The storage space is also impressive. I have so far used just a fraction and I have been using Google for 2 years with more than 2000 emails and many of them carry attachments.
I also like the chat on Google, but I only use it with one friend of mine, and the lack of a solid chat community is actually the only reason why I still use my Yahoo account as well.
If you have not tried Google mail before, I advice you to do it.
Google is surely the largest and most powerful search engine. However, the page Google.com is actually more than a simple search engine.
We use Google.com every day in my house.
As I said, the main page defaults to a mainly plain white screen with a search engine in the middle of it. You type what you are looking for and then hit "Google search" (unless you want to try the sponsored link under "I am feeling lucky) and the results come up fast.
Advertizers pay to be on top of these searches, so do not expect necessarily the results on the first page to be the ones relating to the most common items. The search is free to use and I am quite addicted to it, I search a lot, also because we travel a lot and it is a good way to find information on places we either visit or plan to visit.
The other options on top of this screen are "Images", which is a database of photos, "News", for news from different sources and "Translate" which I use a great deal.
I will review this later. In brief, the translator is a multi language on line translator. Very useful for basic and intermediate messages in a foreign language, it is not always accurate, but it is a good help.
Recently also added a link to 'Youtube", their popular video sharing website.
There have been concerns on privacy with Google and the debate is growing. Surely Google have abused, or at least pushed their position, but I will still use them since they are very valuable.
Every time we go to Tesco, we buy those things which you can store at home and cost little, in fact, many of their so called value products. Tesco sell their own toilet paper for the grand sum of 1.32 for 12 rolls.
It is a great bargain and it is hard to find anything so cheap. The quality is good, but the rolls are smaller than similar products.
Tesco also sell another range of toilet paper, still cheap, but more expensive than this one, and also softer and larger in size.
I must admit that some time I feel a bit embarassed to have so many value products in my trolley and when I have too many, I may give up on the value toilet.
However, once I arrive home, and I put this in the bathroom, unless somebody know that it comes from Tesco because of the smaller size, there are no problems. Off course with toilet paper it is most my family which uses it, but I have a large extended family and 2 of my married children still stay with their families in our house when they come to visit us.
The children seem to be the ones who use the most of toilet paper and therefore I do not mind having this handy because it surely helps saving money.
I have been visting Barcelona for 40 years now. Many things have changed and the city really changed when they hosted the Olympic games and in many respects it is a much more European city today than it was 40-30 years ago.
One of the few places which have not changed too much is the Boqueria marquet, which is situated in the centre of the town, along the lower part of Ramblas (only 10 minutes walk from Plaza de Catalunya)
The market is covered and is located in the same place where it was established more than 100 years ago. Initially a farmer's market, when the boundaries of the city where much smaller, it remains a place where local people go to shop. The food is really good and tasty and very colourful.
One of the things which you will notice, is the number of people with their cameras, snapping the many stalls. You can freely do this, the stall holders will not complain because they have been "trained" not to do so by the local authority which manages the market.
You can buy fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, cheese, cured meat, but also snails and canned food. The market is open every day of the week, apart from Sunday, and the area is known on some tourist books as an area for pickpocketers, but having been there in excess of 100 times (I lived in Barcelona for a while) I never had any problem.
The area is still a bit dingy at night, you do not have any reason to go inside the market at night. I would not recommend women in particular to do so, since there are local prostitutes and drug addicts and drug sellers there, but during the day there are no problems.
If you enter the market from the ramblas, you will notice the huge gate at the entrance, which is the symbol of the Boqueria.
If you can only visit one market in Barcelona, this is the one.
When my younger son came to me and told me he had found a website where he would be paid for posting, I got intrigued and asked him more.
It turned out that the wesbite is Morachat and he suggested I signed up as well since as my husband say, "I have an opinion for everything"
I had a look. Morachat is a very simple website, in fact pretty much a chat board as you see on other similar websites where there is a "forum"
What makes Morachat different, is that they claim they will pay you for posting. My son was already on the grand sum of 28 cents of an American dollar, after spending a good 3 hours on it. I pointed out that this was not a good payout, but I also decied to sign up the day before in my office.
Most of the threads would appeal to younger people. There are threads on music and other social activities that are probably not for me. However, I found few interesting threads and read them and then added my comment. You can see your account growing as soon as you post. They accru money in your account based on the lenght of your reply and they quote up to the 5th decimal of an American dollar.
I posted few posts and at the end of the day I had nearly 6 cents. I decided that it is not worth the aggravation. They will pay when I reach 10 dollars and I am sure there are better ways to spend my time.
I also suggested my son to consider whether he really wants to continue, or whether may be, he should join websites like Dooyoo or Ciao which have better payouts.
For me the answer is easy, Morachat is a waste of money (plus I am not sure they will pay, although there is also a thread where people post when they have been paid)
Stay away is my advice
After many years, I am still a client of Barclays. You may wonder why, since they pay amongst the lowest saving rates in the country and they have been constantly doing so and when it comes to borrow, they are never top of the league.
Well, I think it is a bit of a combination of few things. Primarily the habit and the service.
Having used Barclays for so many years and having set up few standing orders, it would take me some time to change all that. I also have my income paid into them. However, really, the main reason for sticking to them is service.
I use their telephone banking, I do not use it via the Internet, but I find it very useful. I prefer to operate my account over the phone since even if I need to wait on line for a while, I can do other things on my computer. I have to make few payments every month to different parties and I also have few payments coming in. I normally check all this over the phone and then once every 1-2 weeks, visit the local branch to get a printout of my activity. To do this, I need to join a different queue than the one for the cashier and some time it is fast, some time it takes a bit longer, but generally it is ok.
Barclays gave me a Barlcaycard and also a credit card. I only use the debit card in UK. When I travel, I prefer to use Halifax, which gives me a bit of a rebate, or Nationwide, which does not charge a commission on foreign transactions.
The only issue I have with Barclays is that I cannot transfer more than 5,000 GBP per day, not even if I want to send them to another Barclays account not in my name.
Other than this, I am happy with them.
I was mentioning on my previous review on Tesco that I found out about Dooyoo when I began doing more research on the products we use in our family.
On the same review I explained that most of our shopping is made with Tesco.
One of the products we use the most are baked beans. Both my sons like to have a traditional English breakfast and the same is true for my husband and myself, although not every single day.
We buy the Tesco value baked beans and I believe we ended up being used to it. They are always on the shelves and currently cost 888 for a tin of 420 gramms.
Although Tesco has changed the layout of these over the course of the years, they are easily recognizable, with the tin having the red, white and blue colours which we associate with the value products.
A tin is enough for between 2 and 4 people, it really depends on how many beans you want.
These beans are not differents from other beans I tried or had in the local places where we some time go for breakfast. They have enough sauce and can also be used when we prepare the "hunter sauce" for pasta, which is a kind of rich stew we serve with pasta (you can also have it with rice)
Finally, an eco friendly note. The local Council has got facilities for recycling the tins, and we always bring them there. It is important we do not forget this! I read so many reviews in the past and was shocked by how little is written about what we do with the products, after we finished with them.
When I found out about Dooyoo, I started reading some reviews about items I normally buy from Tesco, and in most cases the general consensus was in line with my perception and opinion.
Tesco is a place I now visit at least twice a week, some time even 3 times. Our extended family has at least a large dinner together once a week, and I do not count the times I babysit the offsprings of my 2 sons.
I find that when you cater for different tastes and different needs, and different ages too, you need to go to a large supermarket. I also confess that being a large family makes the shopping at Tesco even more profitable, because some products are not available in smaller portions and I guess that single people may prefer the pre-cooked section of the supermarket, unless they are extremely hungry and fancy buying a lamb leg weighting 1 kilo and a half!
I know where most things I need are, but I still check the aisles to see if new products arrived. One thing I noticed is that rival Sainsbury's offer a wider choice of products from Europe.
Prices at Tesco are some time even lower than Aldi's. If and when they are, they proudly display it. Over the course of the next weeks, I will write reviews of the products I buy more regularly, a good part of which, are part of the value brand, which is the equivalent of the basics of Sainsbury's.
I know that in some areas there are concern that Tesco may kill communities. Here in Ipswich where we live I would not say I have direct experience of anything like that.
In conclusion, Tesco is a supermarket with a large offer of products and I will remain one of their clients at least in the visible future.