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BALM BALM FRAGRANCE FREE LIP BALM
My lips have never been in the best condition and I have tried everything from rubbing them gently with a tooth brush then applying Vaseline to using medicated lip balms but nothing seems to improve their condition.
My lips usually get worse in the Winter when the cold condtions make all common ailments worse.
My lips are constantly dry and flaky which led to me biting the excess skin off my lips in order to get a smooth feeling. Of course the more I bit the skin, the worse it looked and felt. It was a bad habbit which was making their condition even worse.
For some time now I have been buying and trying a multitude of products in the hope of finding anything to improve their condition and maintain healthy lips.
After trying around thirty products I was doing some research on the web and I finally stumbled across Balm Balm Fragrance Free Lip Balm.
It was the company itself which first caught my eye with their participation in the Symbol Savy : Organic Certification Campaign.
It brought to my notice how companies can claim their products are "natural" or "organic" without actually being so because their is no existing Government Legislation or Definition detailing what Natural or Organic Beauity is.
Companies will use ingredients claiming they are safe only to remove them later when their harmfulness has been proven.
Balm Balm's advice is to check the product is certified by a responsible organic or environmental association. For a full list of logos and products to trust go to the website www.biggreensmile.com
All Balm Balm products have the "Organic Soil Association Standard" logo on their products which confirms that not only are their products 100% Organic and Natural but also their packaging is all recyclable and sourced from sustainable forests.
Balm Balm do not test on animals which is also important to me and I really believe they do conform to responsible buisiness practices and make careful well though out decisions.
Their Lip Balm is available directly from their Website, www.balmbalm.com which sell a 7ml pot of lip balm for £2.99.
They can also be found in all Lloyds Pharmacies but if you go to the Balm Balm website you can locate your nearest local store by simpy clicking on your town on the map.
I actually bought mine in SuperDrug for the bargain price of 78p. Needless to say I grabbed three for less than the price I would ordinarily pay for one! Bargain!!
The lip balm comes in it's own little green recycled box with a small white tub filled with Lip balm. The whole package looks very organic and appealing.
Upon reading the package I see that not only is this a lip balm but it can also be used as a balm for the face, hands and feet!
I have chosen the non scented variety as I wear a lot of make up and other cosmetics which all have their own scents. So rather than having lots of contrasting smells competing with each other, where possible I will use a scentless variety.
This lip balm does however also come in a Rose Geranium Variety and Tea Tree Variety. I use the former scent at bed time when I have a clean face and I'm no longer wearing many scented cosmetics.
They come in the same tub as this one but in different coloured packaging.
The tub has a small lid which screws on and off very easily even when my arthritic hands have traces of the product on them.
When the tub is first opened you see a clear substance reminiscent of Vaseline but much firmer.
To apply I find it easiest to rub my finger around the edges of the balm until a thin layer has built up. Then simply rub onto your lips, rubbing any spare balm into your hands, face or even feet. No point wasting it!!
When I first applied it because my lips were in such bad condition it had been absorbed and needed a new application with the hour. However the more I use Balm Balm the softer my lips get and the less frequently I need to use it.
I find on healthy lips an application every seven hours is suffice.
Fairly quickly I felt the condition of my lips improving and the dry excess skin disappeared overnight.
The texture of my lips still felt slightly rough and uneven but I resisted the temptation to bite them and within a few days my lips were as soft and as smooth as a babies bottom!!
Everytime I applied the balm I ended up having excess on my hands so rather than waste it I rubbed it on my elbows ahich were sore and dry due to exema. Within days my exema was much improved.
This lip balm does ressemble vaseline but that is where the similarities begin and end. I find vaseline much greasier than this and it doesn't absorb nearly as quickly as the balm balm.
Even with the vaseline being greasier it still doesn't moisturise as well so although it is a third the price I would definately recommend paying the extra for Balm Balm.
I would strongly recommend Balm Balm Fragrance Free Lip Balm. In my opinion it was the miracle cure I was looking for and is the best out of thirty other well known products which I had previously tried.
It is also great for men and children because it has no scent and when dry does not leave lips with a glossy sheen but still keeps them kissably soft!
I have been using Balm Balm for six months now, and I am still on my first tub!! You need to apply so little that it lasts a very long time and turns into a great value product.
It was a great purchase and one which I will never look back from.
A birth plan is something your midwife starts to speak about very early into your pregnancy.
A birth plan is meant to ensure than everything goes smoothly during your labour.
As it was my first child I made my plan with my midwife, set it aside for the big day and didn't think much more of it!
As far as I was concerned everything was planned and would be fine if I just stuck to what we had organised.
How wrong could I have been!?
I think it is really important for first time mums to realise that when you make a birth plan you must plan for every eventuality.
Ok, most things won't go wrong but if they do, at least you will be prepared. I am not saying to be pesimistic but like most first time mums I planned everything and just wanted to enjoy the birth and cherish the moment.
As it turned out I remember very little about giving birth to my daughter as even though I made a plan as the midwife told me to I was not prepared for anything that occured that day.
My plan was fairly simple. I had requested to use the birthing pool as I had been told water is very comforting during labour.
Now I did realise that Aberdeen Maternity Hospital could not guarantee I would get one of the two available pools, as they were used on a first come first served basis and it all depended on how busy they were at the time of your admission and if anyone else was already using them.
I fully understood this and had braced myself not to be too disappointed if there were no available birthing pools.
The next part of my plan was to enjoy my birth and in order to do that I decided I would get a Spinal or an Epidural to help with the pain if I needed it. (My hope was the birthing pool would be relaxing enough, but planned this just in case one was not available.)
An epidural is a local anaesthetic that provides pain relief from contractions, and during the last stages of delivery. A spinal is very similar but can be used earlier in the labour or for caesarean sections.
I understood that this could numb my contractions and make it harder to time the pushes correctly but as I suffer from anxiety and depression I felt the most important thing was for me to be calm and happy.
I had also made the decision that I did not want to use morphine as it can make the baby sleepy and I did not want any extra risks to my unborn child.
I also made the decision to be hooked up to a monitor at all times so I could hear babies heartbeat.
This decision was made more for my comfort than for any specific medical reason, as I tend to panic and get over anxious. The midwife felt this would help me and of course baby to remain calm and relaxed.
My partner was to be at the birth with me and be present throughout.
At the time I led a very unstable lifestyle which was really not ideal to bring a baby into, none-the-less it was happening and I had to deal with it the best I could.
As a first time mum I did not know what to expect or what a contraction would feel like.
It didn't look like it was going to happen voluntarily as I was already two weeks past my due date and was booked in for an inducemnet in a few days time.
Baby had other plans however but I didn't know that yet!
Leading the hectic lifestyle I did, at two in the morning I ran out of cigarettes and being only seventeen and still rebelious I decided in my heavily pregnant state to walk a mile to the twenty four hour garage.
My contractions started just after arriving at the garage but rather than call my partner or mum I decided to walk the mile home.
By the time I got through the front door my contractions were in full swing so I called my mum to come take my to the maternity ward, then notified the hospital that I would be arriving.
I jumped in the bath till my mum arrived and the water really relaxed me and eased the contractions so I was really hoping for a birthing pool when I arrived at the hospital.
The birthing pool was the first item on my plan not to work out. I wasn't too disappointed as I was well aware that this could be the case.
I was told if one became available I was next on the list. They reminded me that I may still have around twelve to eighteen hours to go and the pool may well be free before then.
I was escorted to my birthing room and my waters broke as soon as I walked through the door.
The heart monitor was connected up and I could hear my little girls strong and regular heart beat.
I was already in a lot of pain as it was now six in the morning and had been in labour for around three hours.
I was using the gas and air but the pain was increasingly getting worse and I kept feeling like pushing when I was less than a cm dialated, basically no where near ready to push!
I was getting very stressed and becoming highly strung and babies heartbeat was beginning to get eratic as well.
My partner was meant to be there to comfort me but he spent more time outside smoking than he did in the birthing room.
The midwife brought the doctor to see me and after a quick collaberation they decided now was the right time to give me an Epidural anaesthesia.
I was relieved and sat on the edge of the bed as instructed and rolled onto my side with my knees up. I could not feel the needle being inserted as I was in so much pain by this time that that was the least of my worries.
Usually an epidural is performed reasonably quickly and will start to work as soon as five minutes after being administered.
After ten minutes the epidural still hadn't been administered and by this time there were three doctors in the room all jabbing me and deep in discussion with each other.
Eventually it was announced to me that 1:1000 cannot have an epidural as they have tiny veins all over there back.
Each time the doctor inserted the needle they were hitting a vein and drawing blood. An epidural must not be put into a vein as this can be highly dangerous for both the patient and the baby.
At no time during my pregnancy had either the doctor or the midwife said to me, whilst discussing my birth plan that this was a posibility. No matter how remote I should have been told.
Being unprepared for this I had no other plans for pain relief. This is where things went from bad to worse.
By this time babies heart beat was extremely eratic and kept dropping to dangerously low levels then rising again.
I was becomming more and more agitated and the doctors decided I needed morphine.
The choice was made for me, with permission from my mum, as with my history of mental illness, at this stage in my labour they deemed me not in a fit state to decide what was right for my baby.
They hoped that the morphine would calm both me and the baby down. The dreaded morphine was administered and both baby and I relaxed.
An hour later I was through the roof again and now in a drugged up state was screaming for more morphine.
I was told I could not have anymore (thank goodness!) and told to persist with the gas and air.
I continued to get more and more irate and stressed. The most vivid memory I have of my labour is of this point when the babies heart started decreasing rapidly.
All I remember them saying is "We're loosing her, We're loosing her." A doctor then came charging into the room and told me I was being preped for surgery.
They tried to give me a spinal this time so my partner could be present for the C-section but again it was not to be.
At 6.29am I was given an emergency c-section and Baby Ritchie was born at 6.33am.
When I awoke baby had been born five hours earlier and my partner was the first to feed her, much to my disgust.
I was then told that baby was fine and the birth had gone well but I had hemoraged and had needed a blood transfusion.
By this time I had been put on a morphine drip, again not what I really wanted but this time I certainly had no choice in the matter.
Slowly I got stronger and baby Cherith and I were allowed home but the birth became a trauma which I would rather forget, than a moment to cherish forever.
I like to think if I had been more prepared and had been given all the information things would have happened differently so I strongly recommend you research everything you can and plan for every possible eventuality.
However in the end the only thing that really matters is that I gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby girl weighing 6 pounds and 8 ounces.
WHO AM I?
I am writing this review primarily for two main reasons.
The first being that I am new to Dooyoo and it will give the community a chance to get to know me a bit more. (Sorry to those who have already read a very similar version of this on Ciao!)
Secondly for self discovery. I am twenty nine and I am still not entirely sure who I am or what exactly my purpose in life is.
If you have read some of my previous reviews you may have heard me mention that I had a turbulent adolesence and was very confused through my teenage years.
It is only now that at the age of twenty nine that I have begun to love and appreciate myself for just being me and not trying to fit in or conform to a stereotype.
I now realise that I am wonderful just the way I am as are all human beings and it is actually our differences that make us so special. After all if we were all identicle it would be a pretty boring world!
This is something I have tried to make my daughter understand from a very young age, that she does not have to act a certain way to be liked and if someone doesn't want to be your friend then they are not worthy of your friendship in the first place.
This is something I wish I understood at a young age as I think it would have changed many of the decisions I have made in my life.
Although all the decisions I have made have shaped who I am today many of them have been hard and costly lessons to learn so much so that I am lucky to have survived them.
However I would not change the path I have taken as I would not be the person I am now and I would not have my beautiful daughter.
When I first fell pregnant at the age of eighteen I was so delighted as I thought finally I would have someone to love me un-conditionally, if only I had realised that I had two people all along - my parents.
I put them through so much as a teenager and it is only now that I am a parent myself that I understand that all parents very much love their children un-conditionally.
Sometimes they have to make hard choices which we as children do not like nor understand but I now realise they did this out of love.
A big part of my life was impacted by the years I spent in Secondary School, or more acurately the hell I experienced there.
I began life as a happy-go-lucky and care-free child and virtually within six months of starting Secondary School, turned into a shy, introverted mess of a teenager.
To make matters worse teachers at the school knew what was going on and did little to help me.
Even then my parents tried to intervene but they simply did not know the true extent of what was going on.
I relatively went un-noticed by the teachers because I kept my head down and was good at my written work.
They did not query why I barely spoke or when someone was paired up with me why they pulled a face or uttered a remark.
I got good grades and that was all that mattered to them. I was never encouraged by teachers to speak or to socialise and even though my personality had done a complete 180 since primary school no investigations were made.
I could quite easily go a whole week without speaking to a single peer at school. Of course I spoke to techers when spoken to because I was at that age still an obedient child.
I was a virtual prisoner inside my own body and I needed a way to escape before I exploded.
I began to self-harm.
The release was intense and it became more and more addictive. When I watched my own blood trickle down my skin, it gave me a feeling of control that I never wanted to loose.
It started off with small things which I actually did whilst sitting in the classroom, such as rubbing my cardign back and forth on my wrist until it was red raw and bleeding.
Despite frequent visits to the toilet and the nurse teachers didn't seem to notice.
My mum however, began to realise what I was doing and what she did next made me resent her for a long time.
She did nothing.
I felt abandonned, after all I was crying out for help and my own mother ignored my pleas.
She was too embarassed I thought, didn't want her perfect friends to know what her imperfect daughter was like and ruin her perfect little world.
I now realise the only thing my mum was guilty of, was loving me too much.
She kept things quiet because she did not want me to go through the trauma of being in a rehibilhitation centre.
She seen great things for me: she could see all the greatness that I had programmed myself to over look.
I slowly began to self destruct looking for trouble, looking for danger and generally doing all the things my parents had warned me not to do.
Why? Because I could. Rebeling was one of the things I could control.
I continued this behaviour long into my teens and really only stopped when I fell pregnant.
Something inside of me snapped and I began to stop feeling sorry for myself and started caring about the little human that was growing inside of me.
I finally sought help because I wanted too.
My life was such a mess by this point that it really could not have got worse.
Slowly I began to live life for my child.
I carried on like this, reasonably happy for a good few years but constantly plauged with depression and not really knowing why.
It was only a few years ago that it became apparent to me that you cannot live your life for someone else, even if it is for all the right reasons.
I have only started to become trully happy by living life because I want to and starting to furfill those dreams that I long ago burried.
I was offered a place to study Dietetics when I was 17 but in self-destruct mode turned it down.
Twelve years later and I have re-applied and been accepted and I am looking forward to starting my studies after the Summer.
I used to think it was selfish to do something for myself and not stay at home with my child but now I realise I can lead by example by showing my daughter what it means to study and work hard to improve your standing in life.
I have come to understand that It is not being selfish making myself happy as only by being myself and being happy can I make my daughter happy.
The older she got the more I realised that what was most important to her was not toys or money but our relationship and my love to her and also my happiness.
My daughter has given back to me the greatest gift ever and that is my life.
I hope by telling you this it has let you understand a little bit about where I have came from and where I am going, and remember, "Life is Great, so live it!"
The Moulinex Minuto Snack Fryer AF100315
Availability - Readily available from a variety of electrical stockists, such as Argos, John Lewis, Comet and Lakeland Plastics.
Price - I paid £22 for this from Lakeland Plastics and have now had it for three years. I have used it quite a bit in that time and have had no problems with it. Considering what I paid for it I think this is great value for money.
Size - This is an extremely compact fryer(20cm x 20cm x 20cm) and would only be suitable for either occasional use or why I bought it, to regularly fry small amounts. ( Although it is small it still takes just under two standard bottles of cooking oil (500ml).)
Setting it Up/ Users Mannual - It all came neatly packed in a box you would expect to find a toaster in, not very large.
It came with minimum packaging, most of which you could recycle, and a small user's manual.
Setting it up was extremely easy as on the first two pages of the manual which fold out from A5 to A4 size, there is simple easy-to-follow black and white line diagrams. These show you exactly what each component should look like and how they should all fit together.
The rest of the mannual was just as easy to follow with vivid and clear instructions written in a good size.
Preparation - Before using for the first time, remove the lid and wash all the other components in hot water and detergent. Rinse and dry everything thoroughly then attach the handle to the basket.
Again there is diagrams to help you follow this procedure.
Filling with oil - Simply fill to the max level, which is approximately one litre. It is recommende to use vegetable oil, but you can also use sunflower oil or solid vegetable fat but this will need changed more often than vegetable oil. (Approximately after every 5 uses)
I think that it depends what you are frying as to how often the oil needs changed. If you are frying very small portions such as I do you can use the same oil for much longer.
Also if the item is quite solid that you are cooking, and lots of little pieces don't fall off, again the oil will last much longer.
Preheating the Oil - Put the lid on the fryer, and keep on whilst the oil is warming. Turn the dial to select your temperature. The indicator light will turn red, the light will go out when the oil is up to temperature.
I found that the oil heated up quite quickly even when using higher settings.
Loading & lowering the basket and cooking - I find it is easier to load the basket before you place it in the fryer.
Never fill it completely, about 3/4 full is fine. Then lower the basket into the oil but be careful as the oil can sometimes splash. I find if you lower the basket more slowly this can help a bit.
Also when checking your food during cooking time the oil can again splash.
During the cooking time it is normal for the ready light to flash on and off.
Included in the user's manual is also a list of aproximate cooking times for a variety of foods. It gives you times for fresh and frozen produce.
The times are only a rough guide and you may need to cook for longer or shorter, so keep an eye on your food and make sure all meat is cooked right through.
However I have found the guide to prove useful as it covers a wide variety of products. I have stuck mine onto the inside of one of my kitchen cupboard doors for quick and easy reference.
When the food is ready, remove the lid and place the basket onto the hanging clip allowing the oil to drain into the fryer. The food is ready to serve.
Switching off and Cleaning - When finished lower the thermostat dial to its lowest setting and un-plug. Allow to sit for at least two hours before emtying. This is important as the oil can seem cold, but is not cool through-out.
When throwing out oil, do not pour down the sink. Pour it back into the bottles it came in and throw out.
I find the cleaning relatively simple, but I find I need to clean mine quite a bit.
To clean, simply wash all the components, bar the lid, in hot soapy water, then rinse and dry carefully.
You can then store it in parts or store in as a whole. I actually leave mine clean and sitting on display in my kitchen, as the product is very compact and looks very good. Also it matches with my stainless steel toaster, kettle, fridge etc.!
Recomendations - If you want a small fryer for minimal use then this is the one for you.
If you want to cook large family portions then pass this one by. This fryer would be great for a single person, a child-less couple or why I bought it for occasional use and to fry small portions.
TAKE A BREAK
Take A Break is a womans weekly magazine which I have been reading for several years now. I remember when I was eighteen thinking this magazine was for elderly or middle-aged women!!
I'm thirty now and still consider myself very young and so now of course have changed my views and definately think this magazine is for younger people too!
It's more grown up than magazines like Seventeen or More which really are teenage magazines in my opinion.
Take A Break is a magazine for and about people who have lived life and have advice or a story to tell.
Take A Break is sold for eighty pence and averaging at just over sixty pages with around sixteen competitions with great prizes, each week I think this is tremendous value for money.
Take A Break and magazines like this in general are great to make money from and in the last year alone I have made around £300 from sending in photos, tips or little thankyous to my loved ones.
Obviously you can sell a larger story and get paid up to £700 but I'm not really into bearing my sole for a magazine and have made my money in £50 or £100 denominations and have even won a few prizes in their give aways and competitions.
The magazine is bright, with a clear contents page which will help you find what you are looking for and also features regular columns and a series of readers stories which spans over various weeks. It also has recipies, beauty features and handy tips.
Take A Break Street is always on the first two pages of the magazines and is one of the ways which I have featured in Take A Break. I sent in a picture of four generations of women in my family all celebrating my grannies 80th birthday and got paid £100.
All features in Take A Break Street get £100. The kind of things they feature are family photographs, cute pet photographs, funny holiday snaps and children and babies pictures.
If you write in you need to be original. Feature a special occasion or something special to you but remember they get thousands of letters a week so you may get rejected quite a few times before you are successful. - I did!!
Take A Break Street is a feature which I always enjoy reading as it can be humerous, heart-warming, sad, a thankyou letter or even just a random moment caught on camera. However it has such a relatable feel to it that you feel involved with, and warm to it even when you are not in it!
After this there is usually a shocking story told over two or three pages and this is often one of the titles which will feature on the cover. Stories like this are generally all through Take A Break but not all are sad or shocking.
The most important thing with this stories I feel is that the teller who is often a victim is getting some sort of closure or satisfaction from telling other people.
It may be done to help people, raise awareness of an issue or condition or even to warn people, for example there were several rapes in Tunisia commited by the same man.
The police over there did little to stop it and he was still working among tourists. He was actually married to a British women and had family to her but even she learnt what he was really like and vowed to keeptheir kids from him.
Take A Break took a stand, revealed pictures of this hideous man and told at least ten readers stories, all people who had been brutally raped by this man and warned potential tourists and victims to watch out for him.
Take A Break will often campaign for a good cause such as this and with so much readers usually gain a lot of public support like they did in their appeal to improve care in British NHS hospitals.
Although there are lots of stories they are spread out with competitions and regular features mixed in thoughout.
There is also a really sincere feature called Magic Moments wher readers share a special moment in their life and recieve £150. These can be stories about your wedding, meeting your true love, having a great mum or surviving something with a loved ones help.
This feature can be happy and inspiring or sometimes upsetting to hear what someone has gone through. However it is always good to know that they have survived, became stronger and are now out the otherside.
The Brainwaves Roadshow is yet another feature I have starred in, if you can call it that! Basically you send in a money or time saving tip and Take A Break Pay you for it!
If you send in a tip with a photo demonstrating how your tip works you will recieve £60, or £30 for just the tip.
I actually just got thirty as I text messaged my tip in. You can also write or e-mail.
Lots of the tips are actually really handy especially with the economy in the state it is in.
One of my favourite tips sent in by a Jenniffer Gardener was to re-use any character oven gloves as hand puppets for your children. She even picked some up from Bootsales and Charity Shops for less than a pound and her granddaughter in the picture seemed to be having a blast!
Another useful and interesting regular feature is "HEART beat" which features readers medical stories, up-to-date medical news, general health information, a regular feature on a different illness/condition each week and doctors advice.
During the summer there were a lot of features about skin cancer which led me to be concerned about a black mole which I had on my arm.
The stories with various skin cancer victims and survivors ran over several weeks and really got my attention and kept nagging at me.
Fortunately I didn't wait too long before going to a doctor and luckily because it was caught early it was successfully removed.
I have to go back in a year in case it has re-grown or spread but thanks to Take A Break it was caught early and given me the best possible chance of beating it.
Another regular which I enjoy is Rebecca Flemmings real-life articles. She is a working mum, with a partner who she is not married too and an ex and three children!!
She truthfully tells us her experiences, opinions, problems and fears in a funny, up-beat and ever so truthfull way. She reminds us that mums are not perfect but do their very best and should not be too hard on oneself.
In case of problems however there are regular pages where you can write in and ask advice from various professionals and other normal working people like ourselves.
There is also a great Beauty Page done by Liz Wilde where you can ask or offer advice.
I appeared in this feature two weeks ago offering advice about eyeliner! I recieved £25 for my advice and £25 for my picture being used, again another £50 in the bank!!
There is also a regular astrology feature with Denna who does the stars every week.
I don't tend to follow mine or believe in it really, so I can't tell you if it's accurate but there is always a competition on the bottom of the page called Starscope where you can win £100. Hence I would definately turn to this page even just for the competition!!
On the last pages are the coupons for competitions, give-aways or to share your story. You can also enter the competiotions via the phone, on-line or by texting which I my prefered option.
Overall I must recommend this magazine. You get so much for your money and it really is an inspiring read. I have even caught my hubby sneaking a peak!
Ever since my daughter has been able to walk I have always bought my daughter Clarks shoes.
Clarks shoes are a reliable brand with an excellent returns policy for un-worn or damaged shoes. The brand is of un-mistakeable quality and although double the price of some shops such as Asda or Shoe Express they last so much longer, are so much better for my childs feet and are comfier too.
This may be because they provide shoes in different widths and half sizes and so the fit is tailored exacty for your childs feet and not just your childs age group or a foot similar to your childs.
At first I would take my daughter into the shop so she could be measured but sometimes our schedule just wouldn't allow this. However I tried to persevere as the personal service and time they gave each child was desirable and in my opinion not matched in any other store.
Other parent's obviously felt the same way as the store was always packed and you had to take a ticket like you would at a cold meat counter and queue. This made fitting in a visit to Clarks even harder to schedule and needed at least a half hour to be set aside to do this.
It was time we just didn't have and so eventually as I didn't want to compromise on quality, I resorted to using clarks.co.uk.
The plan was to visit the shop once a year to have her feet measured and shop on-line until we felt her feet had grown enough to need a new size.
Upon first arriving to the site I was greeted by a genuinely appealing and easy to explore site. At the top you could choose who you were looking to buy shoes for, that is, men, ladies, boys or girls. There was also a general sale section if you wanted to check there first.
As I regularly shop on-line I realised that I would have to register before ordering. When you go onto the site for the first time you will need to allow around ten minutes to do this.
This is slghtly time consuming and inconvenient but the good thing is you only need to do it once.
You need to give them an e-mail address and a snail mail address for delivery. It is not essential but is helpful also to give a phone number so you can be contacted immediately if your order is delayed or a prolem has occured.
You need to make a password which you need to use each time you order along with your e-mail address. They send these details to you in an e-mail after you join, which you may want to save or print out.
When you register you can also choose to opt in or out of offers. It does not specify how they will contact you but I have only ever recieved e-mails or the odd leaflet.
Contact is usually around once per season and will not clutter up your in box too much like some companies tend to do. I have also found most of the e-mails they send me are about relevant products often similar to those I have already bought.
This is because you can add your family members, their ages and shoe sizes into your account information so they know exactly what is relevant to you.
I have often grabbed good bargains this way as if there is a few appropriate sizes left of a shoe or style you have bought before or is relevant to you they will send you a reduced price offer.
I think it is a good idea always to check the sale first as it is not just seasonal products they reduce, for example sandals in the winter, you can find all types of shoes any time of year.
Often the shoes for the correct season are there and they might be last years stock, away to be discontinued or even a good seller and there is only a few pairs left.
Once you are in the correct category you can then shop a variety of different ways. You can browse by size, width, age or shoe type. It is helpful if you have an idea what you are looking for because there is a huge selection.
If you are going on-line just to browse you will need to set aside considerably longer than the ten minutes I shop in. After all I use this site to save time so it doesn't make sense for me to spend hours browsing through the catalouge when I could go to the shop in the same amount of time!
I usually shop by shoe type. For example, school shoes, then I usually input the size I require and immediately the shoes they have available in the correct size are displayed.
This saves so much time and is one of the quickest and most convenient sites I have ever used.
Straight away you can see what each shoe looks like and if you click on it for a close up you can then see it from around six different angles. The different colours available will also be displayed as well as any similar shoes which they think you might be interested in.
You then just click on the size and width of your chosen shoe and it will go straight into your basket.
You an also choose to add on items such as an in-sole and the price will also clearly be displayed and added.
Once finished, checking out is also extremely quick. This is when pre-registering does save time as they already know your delivery details so you just order and pay.
However sometimes certain shoes must be collected from your nearest store. Although this can be a pest at least you don't have to queue and your child also has a chance to try them on before you pay for them as you must pay in store when you pick them up.
When you check out if your item will need to be picked up, straight away it will tell you payment not taken on-line. In which case if you really do not want to go to the store you can just go back and choose another item.
However if you do go along with this they will call you as soon as your shoe has arrived. All you need to do at the store is a quick try on then settle the bill so even thi is a much quicker option than browsing in store.
When paying I have never had a problem with the connection not being secure and in my opinion Clarks is a completely safe store to shop at.
Clarks.co.uk accept credit and debit cards, including Master Card, Visa, Solo, Visa Electon and Visa Delta.
Orders are usually delivered in no longer than a week but in most cases I find my order will arrive around two days after placing it.
I have began to find recently however that sadly my child is getting too old for Clarks shoes and would rather have a pair of Nikes or other fashion shoe.
As my child is now nine I am finding it harder and harder to please her at Clarks and I definately fear this shall be our last year shopping here.
In conclusion I would definately recommend clarks.co.uk. The website is extremely quick and easy to use and navigate and the service has been exceptional.
I have never had a problem with delivery either and although some items have been delayed I have never waited more than a week for delivery.
As I previously mentioned Clarks are more expensive but I don't mind paying for quality, sustainability, reliability and comfort
POINT HOTEL IN EDINBURGH (34 Bread Street)
My mum and I take several short breaks away together every year, just us two, to spend some quality time shopping and gossiping!
Usually when choosing a hotel the first thing we check is if it is suitable for children. However this time as my own child wasn't with us, we decided we didn't want to have anybody else's children to deal with either!
The Point Hotel does not accomadate children at all and states they have no room for even a cot in their rooms. This is certainly a hotel for relaxing with your paartner or catching up with your mum as I had planned!!
We travelled from Aberdeen by train to Waverly Station in Edinburgh. The hotel was a ten minute walk from the train or an in-expensive cab ride. We decided to get a cab from the station as even though it was only a long weekend stay, being women we had a fair bit of baggage!! The taxi only cost £4.80 so it wasn't too bad.
This hotel is extremely handy and is smack bang in the middle of everything, located within spitting distance of Edinburgh Castle. The main high street is easy to find and an easy five minute walk from the hotel meaning after shopping we would not have to walk too far with our purchases, which I was sure there would be many!!
One thing we noticed upon arriving at the Point Hotel was that there was no parking available which to us would have been very inconvenient if we had drove down. Thank goodness we hadn't!
The holiday was for two adults as I mentioned and we stayed from Friday 5th January 2010 until Sunday the 7th January. We booked one room for the two of us and had the choice of a Continental or Scottish Breakfast. My mum booked the Scottish whereas I chose the Continental. We paid £142 for the two nights.
We arrived at five thirty and were glad to be checked in extremely quickly as we were really hungry after the train ride. The receptionist was extremely polite asking where we had come from and engaging in idle chit chat.
Check-in time is from two pm, but if you ask when booking it should not be a problem for an early check-in time but there may be a charge depending on how early it is.
The reception was a lot more modern than we expected and the restaurant which was on the left side of the Hotel lobby seemed nice too, which was where we headed first after swiftly dumping our bags in our room!
First of all you come to Monboddo Bar which is chicly designed with all the mod-cons. Glass shelves cover the rear of the bar and there was some extraordinary if not a bit weird artwork!
The Cosmopoliton Point Restaurant is a bit more restrained with it's dark mahogany furniture and plain white drapes with contemporary chandeliers making for a relaxing atmosphere.
There seemed to be a lot of buisiness men and women in both the restaurant and the hotel itself making me think that the hotels main clientelle are indeed buisiness men and women who are visiting the city for work purposes.
They did not cater for families and the tastes were rather more sophisticated and distinguished.
The restauant serves food Monday to Friday from 7am till 10am, then noon till 2pm then dinner at 6pm till 10pm. On Saturday breakfast is from 7am till 11am and dinner is from 6pm till 10pm. On Sunday breakfast is from 7am till 11am and dinner from 6pm till 9pm.
For some reason Lunch is not available at the weekend which we were a bit disapointed about as we hoped to have lunch before we left on the Sunday.
The prices were what you would expect for a restaurant catering to business clientelle and you could purchase individual menu items or a set lunch or dinner.
The set lunch was two course and was a great deal at on £6.95. This is something we would definately have gone for but unfortunately with no lunch served at the weekend this deal was redundant to us.
The two course dinner was a bit steep at £16.50 per head, but when we arrived we were that hungry that we were past caring about the price and so settled down to eat.
The menu was wide and varied with some clever and well put together choices. Lots of the options were original and seemed to fuse Scottish, Chinese, Irish and Thai food together! There was also classic menu items for the more traditional palettes.
Both me and my mum chose a starter and maincourse. There was a wide variety of meats, fish and vegetarian choices but I can only really comment on what we ordered.
For starters, being a vegetarian I ordered the wild mushroom and leek tartlet topped with goats cheese. There were a few other choices but this was preferable.
The pastry was excellent and melted in your mouth but the mushrooms and leeks were a bit oily with whatever they had been sauteed in. The goats cheese was a welcome topping and without it the tartlet may have been almost inedible. As a whole it passed but it wasn't anything to write home about.
My mum ordered one of the more original starters which was Haggis Springrolls. She loves haggis and springrolls but would never have thought to fuse the two together!!
It worked surprisingly well and my mum really enjoyed it. It was served upon a small bed of leaves with a simple dressing which complemented the springroll perfectly.
For the maincourse I had pasta with tomato and pine nuts with more goats cheese accompanied with a bruschetta.
This was absolutely gorgeous and although I have had plenty of pasta with a similar description to this I have never had anything this good. The ingredients were all so fresh and combined in just the right way.
The only thing I could moan about is that there wasn't enough!! This is very unusual for me as usually I leave half a plate but not this time!!
My mum had a sizzling sirloin steak which was beautifuuly presented with a tower of whisky battered onion rings and half tomatoes, corn on the cob and twice baked potatoes.
My mum totally enjoyed hers and like me had no complaints what-so-ever about the main course.
We washed all this down with a bottle of the house wine which cost us £12 and went well with what we ordered.
After filling our bellies we trotted up to our rooms ready to sleep!
The room had two comfy single beds with a reasonable amount of storage and space. The room seemed modern and was extremely clean looking.
The first thing that caught our attention was the huge plasma screen television embedded into the wall and in the perfect position to lie and watch it from our beds!
There was also internet access available but there was an extra charge for that of £4 per session. You could choose a morning, afternoon or evening session or book all three for £9.
There was complementary tea and coffee in the room along with the facilities to make it. This was found on the dressing table which was substantial enough for me and my mum to do our make-up.
There was a hairdryer provided but with two women sharing the room, only having one was a bit of a pest!
The on-suite was more basic than I would have expected for this hotel but much better than some I have been in. It was clean however and fresh towels were delivered daily.
The shower was old fashioned with separate hot and cold taps which made getting the right temperature of water rather challenging and I usually ended up either scalding myself of screaming with the cold!
Overall the room was acceptable and we had a comfortable and enjoyable stay.
The tea and coffee facilities were definately a plus as when we had too much shopping to carry we would go back to the hotel, put our feet up and re-fuel with a cup of tea or coffee.
We also ordered scones on room service which was very efficient. A full menu was available for room service but this was the only thing we ordered because at £8 for the two of us it was rather pricey for afternoon tea!!
The breakfasts were reasonably good but I am not sure why you had to pre-book Scottish or Continental because everything was spread out in a buffet.
There was a huge choice of bacon, eggs, beans, fried tomatoes and mushrooms, hash browns and even fried bread. You could also have porridge or cereal.
For the continental breakfast there was a choice of cresents, scones, pancakes, toast and breads along with a huge spread of cheese, marmalades, jams and other fillings.
There was also plenty of tea and coffee, fresh fruit juice and even hot chocolate.
Everything was fresh and warm and on both mornings we enjoyed our breakfast. It was most relaxing having breakfast just there for you and not having to prepare it for the whole family.
You have to be out of your rooms by 12noon. We found this perfect as we strolled down for our breakfast then popped to the shops for some last minute bargains.
The reception had pre-booked a taxi to take us to the station as we had even more luggage now! This came on time and got us there promptly.
We would definately go back here as it was the perfect relaxed weekend which my mum and I had been hoping for.
The hotel would also be perfect for a romantic get-away and there were special rooms for this which were extremely luxurious and even had a jacuzzi!
We thought it was fairly expensive but with everything being of a good standard we were quite happy and it certainly suited the purpose of our visit.
JAM AND JEOPARDY
written by Doris Davidson
Doris Davidson was first brought to my attention by my mother-in-law a couple of years ago now. I was quite surprised I had not heard of her as she was born and bred in my home town of Aberdeen and unlike lots of other people who reach some-kind of stardom, she had not left her birthplace or forgotten her roots.
Doris Davidson was born in 1922 and became a primary teacher although she always dreamed of becoming an author and had written little stories even at school to keep her and her friends amused.
She finished her first book in 1984 but it got rejected. She kept this and her three other novels subsequently written, which were also rejected.
She never gave up and kept pursuing her dream and eventually in 1990 her fourth book "Brow of the Gallowgate" was published.
It was after this she then re-submitted the other previously written novels. Jam and Jeopardy was the third of the three and was first published in 2006.
Like many of her novels Jam and Jeopardy is set near Aberdeen. However, in many of her other Novels real places such as Lodge Walk, the prison in Aberdeen or Stonehaven, a town near Aberdeen are mentioned but Jam and Jeopardy is set in a completely fictional town called Tollerton.
Aberdeen is still mentioned and with the occasional but not overly-used Scottish Aberdonian dialect thrown in, there is no mistaking where the story is set.
The story introduces us to 87 year old Janet Souter who the reader soon develops a dislike for.
Janet enjoys raking up dirt and generally making everyone else's life a misery. She is disliked in Tollerton by almost everyone with even the vicars wife struggling to remain pleasant to her.
Her two nephews Ronald and Stephen are no exception. Both are struggling buisinessmen and although Janet is sitting on a fortune she prefares to rub it in their faces rather than help them, and for her amusement plays one off against the other.
Janet gets some arsenic from one of the other local residents to kill the rats in her back garden. She decides it would be a good idea to boast about the arsenic to everyone including her two nephews.
She devises a sick plan. If one of the two nephews makes an attempt to take her life Jannet will leave which ever one all the money. If they both try they will share it and if neither tries she will instruct her lawyer to leave the whole lot to charity!
She concocts a full proof plan hiding the arsenic and replacing it with flour so no real harm can come to her. However Janet ends up dead and there is a whole town full of suspects!
Janet's character is well constructed and has a lot of depth even though she is only alive in the story for the first few chapters. A good picture is built up of her and you really begin to understand what a sick and twisted little woman she was.
I like to think that good, even if it is just a little bit, can be found in everyone but Janet is the first murder victim I really have had very little sympathy for.
Although she is dead, many of the villagers in Tollerton still cannot speak a good word about her, making this case far too complicated for the local constabulary to crack.
The CID get drafted in from Aberdeen in the form of Detective Cheif Inspector McGillvary and Detective Sergeant Moore but things are a lot more complicated than even they expect.
The CID duo are an unlikely pairing and I think their relationship and characters help the story develop even more. I like how the more senior of the two hides details of the case from his more junior partner and the reader only revealing little tit bits when the time is right.
The crime becomes even harder to solve when numerous people confess to an attempt on Janets life but only one of the attempts was fatal, but which one was it and why does the story of an illegitamate child born nearly sixty years ago keep cropping up?
Jam and Jeopardy is not one of Dorris Davidsons best works but it was the first I read and I certainly enjoyed it enough to read more of her books.
Jam and Jeopardy is unlike an other story I have ever read and verges on being slightly over worked. However the local connection and language kept me enchanted until the very end.
Parts of the novel do become a little tedius and I'm not sure if a reader who had no or little interest in Aberdeen or even Scotland would have persevered until the end.
However it is a charming little read and if you can forgive the few weak litterary moments it is a fantastic story with many un-expected twists and turns which keep you guessing right until the end.
There is so many storylines and sub-plots however that some people may be put off, but in my opinion all this just added to the mystery and depth of the story.
I would highly recommend this book but may be slightly biassed because I am from Aberdeen. However Doris Davidson is an amazing local author and even if you don't like the sound of this one I strongly recommend you try at least one of her books.
I buy all my Doris Davidson novels from the WH Smith in Aberdeen where she can be found in the local artist section.
Jam and Jeopardy retails at £4.67 and can also be bought from the website www.aboutaberdeen.com/dorisdavidson
All her other novels can also be purchased here but Jam and Jeopardy is the cheapest one so if you want to watch your pennies, it may be a good place to start.
LASIK AND LASER EYE SURGERY
I have worn glasses since the age of thirteen but because of bullying at school changed to contact lenses at sixteen and have worn them ever since. Some people need glasses but choose not to wear them however I could never get away with that. Without them when I look at a person only a metre away from me, all I could see was a blob! It could have been my husband and I would've been none the wiser! Basically I could not distinguish facial features or expressions, patterns on clothing or even if they had glasses or a hat on. As for seeing at a distance that was obviously even worse!
As you can imagine I had been thinking about laser eye surgery for a long time. When it started to become more common around ten years ago now, I didn't want to dive into it as I wanted to see if say ten years down the line there would be any side effects. Ten years came and went and I was still wearing my contacts! The other problem was the huge price tag which went with the surgery. I decided to enter a competition on line for free surgery and then everything happened from there so fast! Before I knew it I had booked a surgeon and payed for it too!! Guess I was just needing some gentle persuasion!!
The first thing you need to decide is where to go as now-a-days there are so many clinics. I chose OPTICAL EXPRESS, as they had a clinic in Aberdeen and are Europes Number One in eye surgery. Make sure you choose a reputable clinic and try to read some patient testimonials about their experience there.
I filled in a form via the internet on the 28th of December and by the 29th they were on the phone asking me to attend a free consultation. I decided to put it off until the 5th of Janurary as that was the day my daughter returned to school after the holidays. You are told to allow two hours for this and you are more than welcome to bring along a spouse or parent as they understand this is a big decision and one which you may need help in making.
I was told if I wore soft contact lenses I would need to take them out a day before the appointment and for hard or gas permeable lenses it needs to be three days. You also needed to bring your glasses and a note of your prescription along with you. If you don't know your prescription they can work it out from your glasses or take along the contact lense box as it is usually on the side of that.
They phoned me the day before my appointment to make sure I still wanted to come. At this stage they also told me if I required finance I would need to take along identification, such as my passport. You should note if you want to book your treatment you need to place down a deposit of a minimum of two hundred pounds. The mention of finance at this stage scared the living daylights out of me as I was still insistant that I was just going along for a nosey!! However I asked my dad to meet me an hour and a half into my appointment (Finance Time!), just in case!!
I arrived at my appointment and was asked to take a seat and given a rather lengthy form to fill in. The form asked you questions about your general health, your GP and even your mental health. Apparently Optical Express have to assess all of this to help them to decide if you are suitable. I had never even though about this and began to get a little concerned that my depression would hinder me in getting laser eye treatment.
I needn't have worried as shortly after that I was taken upstairs to the Laser Eye Clinic. The woman introduced herself as Fiona McDonald, my "Laser Eye Councillor". She told me if I went ahead with the treatment she would be with me throughout the whole process. She was also the person to call if after today I had any questions. She was very polite and I felt she tried to make the service personal to me. She was very excited that I had came to the clinic and generally made me feel like I was doing the right thing.
I sat with Fiona for about ten minutes during which time she explained the basic process for laser eye surgery. She also explained that there were different types available and each came with a varying cost depending on your individual prescription. I was also told that not everyone is suitable for Laser Eye Surgery and before my consultation was over I would know whether or not I was suitable.
She then took me through to a consulting room to do some basic tests. I had to look in a machine and a little house was going in and out of focus. This was the actual LASIK machine and it was taking a detailed photo of each eye in order to understand exactly why my vision was faulty. These would be the calculations the laser would use to correct my vision if I went ahead. Fiona then went to get my optician who was introduced as Scott McGhee.
Scott took me into yet another room where he did an eye test similar to what an optician would do on your six monthly or yearly visits. This took about forty minutes. During which eye drops are given which make reading and driving hard and make all lights rather bright. It is a good idea to take sunglasses for after your appointment and you certainly cannot drive yourself home.
After this he finally delivered the news that I was waiting for. I was suitable for laser eye surgery. He explained that suitability usually depended on whether or not your prescription was stable. Mine had not changed in over ten years which made me a great candidate. Then came the bad news - the price!! Unfortunately because my vision was so bad and my corneas were thin I would need to get the Lasik treatment, the most expensive of the three options. It was going to cost me £1750 per eye. At this point I was ready to leave as for me the price tag was just too much.
However my dad took over at this point and put down a £1000 deposit and took credit over a year. This meant he had to pay £250 per month and because it was over a year the credit was interest free. You could also take credit over two, three or four years and the interest for all of this was 11%.
Before I tell you about my surgery I will explain the three types available and the main differences between them. In each method a cut or a flap needs to be created which is then lifted to allow the laser to do the correction. The main difference between the treatments are how the flap is made hence effecting the amount of healing time required.
STANDARD - Known as LASEK - From £395.00 per eye - The flap is made using an alcohol solution. The laser then begins correction, after which the flap is put back into it's natural position and a bandage contact lense is used to aid healing. With this method it can take up to twenty days to even get proper vision and the actual healing process takes over a year. However most people do get some sort of vision after six or seven days.
WAVE FRONT - Also known as LASIK - From £795.00 per eye - A suction ring is placed on your eye whilst the surgeon manually creates the flap with a scalpal. The laser then corrects your vision and the flap is placed back in it's normal postion and left to heal naturally. The healing process is shorter than the first and you should achieve some sort of vision the next day recieving a better standard after three or four days. Full healing takes around nine months however.
ADVANCED WAVEFRONT LASIK WITH INTRALASE - Also known as INTRALASE LASIK - From £1,095 per eye - Again a suction ring is placed on your eye but this time the flap is made using a laser then a second laser corrects your vision. The results are instant and you should be able to see within an hour. They recommend you can go back to full time work in two days but full healing actually takes from three to six months.
It was the third method, the Intralase Lasik which I was to receive. The remainder of my review will be about my experience with this method.
My surgery was all set for the 22nd of January at 1.30. One important thing which I needed to do and would not be able to get the surgery without, was a letter signed by my GP. This needed to be handed in a week before my surgery date. I needed this because I suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis and the Laser Team would not go ahead without my doctors agreement. This is also the case with other long term illnesses. However if you need a letter you will be told at your free consultation.
Again if you wear contact lenses you have to take them out beforehand and wear your glasses. Three weeks before for hard or gas permeable lenses or one week before for soft lenses. It is very important to do this as contact lenses can alter the shape of your eye meaning that when the Lasik machine takes a map of your eye and subsequently the caculations for your laser treatment, if you keep your lenses in this could end up being calculated wrongly.
I was also told not to wear mascara for two days prior to the treatment and to wear no eye make up or perfume on the day of the treatment. It is important to wear clothing you feel comfortable in but not clothing with loose fibres such as a wooly jumper. You should also take any medication you are on in your usual way on the morning of your treatment.
It is also important to take sunglasses with you as your vision will seem bright after treatment. If you forget you can buy sunglasses from Optical Express on the day of your treatment. Also because your vision will be slightly blurred when the treatment is first done you will need to either be picked up by a friend or family member or have a taxi pre-ordered.
As I was expecting to be at the clinic for around two to three hours I also made sure I ate a good breakfast and lunch so I didn't end up starving by the time I left the clinic!
As this treatment is a personal choice and not medically nesecarry, you have to sign a consent form as with all procedures there are risks. The consent form details the risks and the opticians will also talk to you about any concerns which arrive from this. You must sign the form before they will begin the procedure.
My dad arrived to pick me up at 1.00 and we drove the short distance to the clinic. When we arrived we were given tea and coffee and basically the red carpet treatment! We did have to sit and wait for about twenty minutes before being asked to come up to the Laser Eye Surgery Area which was a bit nerve wrecking, as by this time nerves were kicking in and I just wanted it over and done with.
I thought my dad would be with me throughout the whole procedure but he was asked to leave at this stage and I had to go through the rest alone. This was rather worrying however having gone this far there was no going back!
After going upstairs and sitting for around ten minutes, I was taken for a pre-examination with one of the surgery team. This is not always necessary but they wanted to check the calculations which the Lasik machine had made for me were still the same now that my contacts had been out for an entire week.
After this I was taken back through to the waiting area which was airy and comfortable. There were tea and coffee machines and light snacks available. It was really busy though with at least ten other people getting surgery the same day as me.
I was prepared and had taken my ipod and a book but some others were sitting looking completely bored so it is definately an idea to bring something to occupy yourself.
I was sitting here for another half hour before the surgeon Susanna Boytha took me into an examination room to introduce herself. She was a very nice and polite women, who was very experienced and had performed over twenty thousand of these procedures. She did some final checks on my eyes, making sure they were healthy and that she agreed with all the previous measurements the optician Scott had taken. Everything was fine and this was the final green light needed for the procedure to go ahead as planned.
I was again taken back to the waiting room with it dawning on me that surgery was becoming more and more imminent and I was becoming increasingly nervous. I kept telling myself that the procedure would only take five minutes and it would be well worth it. I was a bit worried about the aftercare but had been told that it was really easy and as long as I followed the instructions I couldn't go wrong.
After waiting another thirty minutes and countless trips to the toilet I was finally taken through to yet another room this time to prepare for my surgery.
A really nice Greek woman greeted me and showed me three bottles of eye drops and told me what each were for. There was one to keep the swelling down which had to be taken six times a day. There were drops to prevent an eye infection which had to be taken four times a day. Finally there were "Blink" eye drops which had to be used at least four times a day but these were "tears" to make my eyes moist and I could apply these as much as I felt nessecary.
She then took my glasses and put them in a bag along with these drops and told me they could make them into sunglasses if I wished. I said that would be great and she told me this could be organised at a later date.
The room I was sitting in was the pre-op room and was adjacent to the surgery. Eye drops to numb my eyes were put in. These were painless and administered easily. I could hear a lot of loud noises and an extremely loud clicking noise, she told me this was the laser and these noises were what I would hear whilst my procedure was being done.
After sitting for five minutes, I was taken into the surgery and asked to lie down on something similar to a black leather dentists chair with a head rest. More eye drops were administered after which I was told they were ready to begin the procedure.
I suffer from anxieties and panic attacks and at this point I litterally started shaking like a leaf. The whole team were great though and a special assistant was brought through to hold my hand and talk me through what was happening step by step.
First of all the suction cap was placed onto my right eye to stop me blinking. This did not feel sore, just akward and a little uncomfortable. Again more drops were inserted and the chair was slid under the first laser where I was told to get ready for the first cut. However unfortunately the surgeon then said to me, "Whatever you do, don't move!" This was entirely the wrong thing to tell me as it made me even more nervous and my whole body started to shake in a convulsing movement.
More of the team were then drafted in to hold me still and the laser was switched on. It was extremely bright and felt like someone was pushing down hard on my eyeball, but it was not at all painful. After around thirty seconds I was told I was doing great and the first cut had been made. My right eye was washed out some more and the same procedure then repeated on the left eye.
Now it was time for the correction procedure and again they would start with my right eye. I was told to look straight up at the red light. The red light went in and out of focus and other normal lights appeared to go on and off. I could hear one of the team counting down the laser which helped as you knew exactly how long there was left to go.
One thing which was really horrible was the smell of burning flesh coming from the laser making contact with your eye. It was really strong and remained present throughout the process. Finally I was told the procedure had been sucessful and it was time to repeat it on my left eye.
The whole procedure was rather traumatic but did take less than five minutes. The surgery team were very professional and worked great together. Everyone was supportive and made the process far easier for me to endure.
After lying still for another thirty seconds and having both my eyes rinsed I was asked to sit up. As soon as I sat up they asked me to look at the clock. However I already knew it had worked as when I walked into the room the surgery team was introduced to me but each of them were just shapeless blobs as I couldn't see much.
Upon sitting up I immediately noticed the two girls were smiling and could see clearly that one had brown hair and brown eyes and the other had blonde hair and blue eyes! Being able to read the time was just the icing on the cake!
I was then led to a dark room where I sat for ten minutes. My dad had arrived back for me and was brought into the room to sit with me.
It was amazing, everthing seemed so much brighter and clearer and already I was reading at a distance. The surgeon called me into another room to see me once more before I left and again went over the instructions for using my eye drops.
An appointment was made for me to return the next morning to ensure my eyes were healing properly.
On arriving home, as advised I went to sleep for a couple of hours. I was worried beforehand that I would not be able to sleep but I didn't have any problems as although I didn't feel tired, my eyelids felt very heavy.
When I awoke, my sight was even better and by morning I was ready to return to the clinic. I was greeted by Fiona and Scott who asked me how I was and both seemed genuinely pleased and excited for me.
After an appointment with Scott, I found out that I now had 20/20 vision. Things are still a little blurry at this stage because your eyes are really dry. It sometimes looks like there is smoke in the room but using the Blink eye drops tends to combat this a bit. Another appointment was made for a week later.
In the mean time I had to carry on with the eye drops. I will need to use the Blink ones for anything up till six months but you can discard the other two after a week.
It is also important not to wear any mascara for the first week, or go swimming. You must also wear the goggles which Optical Express provide when sleeping for the first week. They look like swimming goggles but have holes in the lenses to allow your eyes air to breathe.
You must wear these to ensure that you do not rub your eyes during your sleep or bump your eyes in any way. I found them rather uncomfortable to sleep in and for the first couple of days had to resort to sleeping on my back. After a couple of days however, I did get used to them and I was able to sleep on my side.
A week later I returned for my appointment and my eyes have gone from strength to strength. They were healing brilliantly and as usual any questions which I had were fully answered by my optician Scott.
Overall I am very pleased I decided to go ahead with the laser eye surgery. I would recommend using Optical Express as they really were excellent the whole way through and certainly did not dump me as soon as my procedure was completed.
The aftercare I have received has been of an excellent standard and they are only too happy to answer any questions or give you more drops if you run out. The treatment also comes with a lifetime guarantee and they will match the quality of procedure you originally had during the odd occasion that you do need more surgery. The policy does not cover natural ageing.
Having laser eye surgery has completely transformed my life and sometimes when I wake up in the middle of the night I think I've still got my contact lenses in as I just can't believe I can actually see.
The INTRALASE LASIK procedure is very pricey but I would not advise going for a cheaper option as results really are more or less instantaneous and the healing time is extremely fast. This has definately been the best £3400 I have ever spent!!
To book a free consultation call 08702 20 20 20
When in Canada a couple of years ago we actually bumbled into Chinatown accidentally when visiting an Art Gallery on Dundas Street.
Chinatowns main two streets are Dundas Street West and Spadina Avenue and are an amazing site of colorful shops, amazing foods and smells and a diverse ethnic population.
Cantonese is the main language spoken in this area and all the street signs are also in Cantoneese, however many of them also have the English translation written alongside it.
When bumbling into this area we would be forgiven for thinking we had somehow wondered into China. The shops, people, cafes and even the atmosphere was an iconic and traditional Chinese setting with a bit of Hong Kong thrown in!
We happened upon Dundas Street around four o clock and set out to find some Eastern Cusine for Dinner. We ended up in a restaurant called Liu Liu Hot Pot which was an amazing experience which I would love to repeat even if finding it was accidental! It certainly was a happy accident.
You will find Lui Lui in Kensington Market on Baldwin Street and I definately recommend a visit.
We didn't realise what a hot pot restaurant even was but it didn't take us long to find out!! Soon three huge pots were taken to the table, one for each diner!
The pots had a brothlike substance and we were given a platter of meat and vegetables. The lady server seen the surprised look upon our face and speaking little English gestured for us to start cooking and eating!
She also pointed to a table with raw ingrediants such as cheese, eggs and other chinese herbs and spices.
My daughter had a whale of a time cooking it but wasn't so keen on fishing it out and eating it!! However once it was all on the plate everythng you had cooked had taken on the flavour of the broth used to cook it.
I am a vegetarian but hubby and daughter both eat meat and we found this was a great place for both as you could basically cook whatever you wanted in your hot pot!
This was just one of the great experiences we had in Chinatown and have never experienced anything close to this again.
After leaving here we ventured into Kensington Market which to our horror had a legalised cannabis cafe.
That was one of the problems which we found in Chinatown, that there were many adult themes blatantly displayed and flaunted infront of hundreds of children.
It got worse at night when Sex Shops seemed to spring out of no where. However if you manage to avoid these Chinatown is beautiful at night.
There are so many lights and people still bustling about. There is pigs being roasted in the middle of markets, and strange foods which we couldn't even identify!
We tried many new things that afternoon but if you are a vegetarian like me be careful what you are trying, as many locals will give you a sample only to tell you afterwards it was tripe or bulls privates!!
There were also herbal remedies for almost every ailment you could think of! We enjoyed the shop "Chinese Natural Herbs" which we found on Dundas Street west.
There was also a fantastic tea shop on this same street called "Ten Ren's Tea and Ginseng Company" which is a lovely place just to rest and put your feet up and watch the world go by.
There are also some large and unusual sculptures in Chinatown such as Henry Moore's "Large Two Forms" Sculpture outside of the Ago.
Even the entrance to the afore mentioned Kensington Market was an art form in itself. There were two huge poles with globes on the top with cheese and fruit and other delicasies orbing around them!
If we are back in Canada we will definately purposefully visit Chinatown again! We were staying in London which is actually really close to it. I am so glad we took the wrong turning or this hidden beauty could have remained undiscovered to us!
MARINELAND THEMEPARK, ONTARIO CANADA
Marineland is easy to find as it is situated very close to Niagara Falls. It is open from May through to October usually from 9am.
When we visited a couple of years ago we stayed in London Ontario. We took a trip to Niagara Falls and was hoping to go here afterwards on the same day.
This did not happen as there was just too much to take in on one day. Marineland itself needs a whole day if not two or three.
And why not, for an extra five dollars on top of the normal ticket price you can visit the park as much as you want during the same season.
Obviously this is great value if you stay here but I advise tourists to take advantage of this offer too as it really does make the trip more relaxed knowing you don't have to rush round it in one day!
We bought our tickets at the entrance. Children aged four or under are free and children aged five to nine can buy a junior pass for $32.95. A regular pass is needed for those aged ten to fiftynine and this can be bought for $39.95. A senior pass for those aged sixty plus can be bought at the same price as a junior pass.
You can also buy your tickets in advance on the internet and print them out before you go. To do this go to www.marineland.ca/estore
There is plenty of busses which go to either Marineland or Niagara Falls and either of these are ok to catch. There is also plenty of parking but it costs around seven pounds a day which we thought was quite pricey, especially if there for more than one day, hence I would definately advise catching a bus.
The park is extremely child, elderly and disability friendly.
Once there you can hire a pushchair or wheelchair if you don't want to lug yours on the bus. The service was actually reasonably priced and worked out at just less than five pounds a day.
There are special viewing areas provided for disabled guest and buggies are also permitted to use these areas.Special viewing areas are provided for disabled guests at the King Waldorf Stadium, Aquarium Dome, Friendship Cove and Arctic Cove.
Most rides are accessible for the disabled but it depends on the individuals ability and strenghth whether the rides will be suitable or not.
Toilet and Baby Changing facilities were convieniently located over several areas of the park and we found them to be clean but at times rather busy.
Surprisingly no dogs are allowed in the park which was pleasant as you didn't have to mind where you stepped!
There were plenty kiosks selling fast food and snacks but the park also allow you to bring your own food and provide several picnic areas.
We opted for this is did a lot of other people so the picnic areas tended to be over crowded but the amazing weather may also have had something to do with this!
The restaurants were very expensive but sold chicken platters, chicken strips, hot dog platters, pizza platters, cheeseburger and hamburger platters, chips, nachos, salads and sweet treats.
Smoking is not permitted anywhere in the park and you have to use the designated areas which we found very irritating but I am sure non-smokers found it more acceptable and it is primarily a kids park.
Friendship Cove was one of the first exhibits we went to and couldn't believe how close to the whales we were. You could feel the water splashing your face and they were huge!!
There is a board outside friendship cove telling you the times the shows are on but it was roughly every forty five minutes and no extra fee needed to be paid to see the whales.
The whales put on a fantastic show diving deep into their pool and hurling themselves into twisting like movements in the air. They were breath taking and looked so controlled and tame.
Our next stop was for Artic Cove, which you need to book tickets for when you arrive. Remember to try and plan your time as we were at another show and nearly missed our booking.
It is quite expensive but really worth the extra money. You can touch and feed the distinctive looking Beluga Whales. It is a once in a lifetime experience.
Then you can view them through an underground window to see what they get up to in the water.
The Artic Cove is very busy so it is best to book in the morning to ensure you get to experience them. If you are going to the park for more than one day, depending on how busy it is you may need to book a day in advance.
Another wonderous site was the killer whales. My daughter was terrified to go and see these as she though they might try and bite her. Although we were not too close to them she soon realised how friendly, affectionate and docile they were.
They performed a half hour show gliding majestically throught the water and the air. This was again a free show.
There is also the King Warldorf stadium which this time presents bottlenosed dolphins performing tricks and jumps.
Again the times of this show are posted on billboards near the stadium and like all the shows seats are given on a first come first serve basis.
This show was extremely comical and fun for children and adults! This was my daughters favorit show and I think we must of seen it around three times!
Also in various areas of the park are other animals such as giant tortoises, black bear, fish, elk and even deer. (And many many more!)
Most of the animals can be quite closely viewed but you can actually feed the deer. My daughter was in her element with this and we had difficulty persuading her to leave the deer.
She was very lucky as she even got to bottle feed a baby deer however I am not sure if this would always be possible.
Not only is the park filled with all thes wonderful animals but it also has a huge selection of rides for all ages.
The best known ride being the sky screamer which is the WORLDS highest tripple tower ride, lifting you then plunging down over 450ft at speeds of up to sixty miles per hour!
My daughter was too small for this as there is a 48inch minimum height requirement and hubby used the excuse that somebody had to stay with child!!
So while they experienced milder thrills I went on this three times. It was amazing and the pull of gravity on your face is unreal!
The Topple Tower was equally as fun and high! This having a slightly lower hight restriction at 45 inches all three of us ventured on this. However this is a thrill ride and very scary for children.
You are at the top of a high tower, legs a dangling which rocks from side to side making you think the tower will topple. My daughter liked the sensation but the fear of falling was a bit much for her.
The Ocra Screamer was one she loved. It was basically a child version of the Sky Screamer which kids could board alone or with adults depending on their height.
This was one Cherith tried alone while we rested and re-gained our breath!
The bumble bee was a fantastic family round which all three of us went on about six times. It had enough thrill to keep adults partially entertained but was not too scary for children.
Another ride all three of us loved was the Wave Swinger which was like cheroplanes, which are giant swings which go round amd round and up and down!
The Hurrican Hove was also excellent for kids and adult alike. It was a bit like the waltzers or the tea cups, but you could not control how much you would spin.
It would sometimes take a while for the Ocra to start spinning but once it did there was no stopping it! Lots of hugging and squeezing from my little girl on this one!!
The Sky Hawk was another amazing family ride. It soared up high over the hole park and hovered back down slowly giving you amazing views and a much needed rest and a chance to take photos.
The Magic Experience was also a ride all three of us boarded. You sit in a circular car in fives or less and move in a variety of different ways. It's not a scary ride but experiencing various motions at once is a strange sensation.
There was also the Lady Bug coaster which was the only roller coaster suitable for younger children and there parents and was another favourite of our daughter.
Another relaxing ride is the boat carousel and is a must do ride as it takes you round a large part of the park where you can view and photograph animals and just sit back and relax for a while!
This park was absolutely amazing and my daughter didn't want to leave!! Just as well she did not know about the camping facilities.
This is called The King Waldorf Tent and Trailer Park and is the closest camping facilities to Marineland.
We did not see them so I am not sure what they are like but I believe you can pre-book a spot on the website.
Go to www.marinelandcanada.com/camping
The daily rate for tents is $35, and for trailer and RV's $45. However if you want a waterfront site for the latter it will cost you $65.
I highly recommend visiting this park as it really is a supperb day out for both adults and children. If you take advantage of the season pass offer you can fill three or four days, or more if you like on a relatively small budget.
Also worth going on is the Viking Adventure, Tivoli Wheel, Space Advenger, Kandus Twist and the Flying Dragon.
TWININGS AROMATICS - LADY GREY TEA
Twinings was first started in 1706 when Thomas Twining set up his first shop in London, which is still open and selling tea today.
However the company has changed enormously since then, as what started off as a humble family ran company has turned into a multi-million-pound business now producing over 100 varieties.
Lady Grey is a tea invented by Twinnings specially for their customers and is loosely based upon a traditional cup of Earl Grey.
Earl Grey is a tea blended with the distinct flavour of the bergamot orange rind.
Lady Grey is wholly similar to this but is a more uplifting richer tea, and like Earl Grey is blended and scented with bergamot peel, but it also contains additional seville orange and lemon oils and rind to give it a more distinct citrus flavour.
The Earl Grey blend was named after the Second Earl Grey, Charles Grey who was the British Prime Minister in the 1830's.
Lady Grey however was named after Charles' Greys wife, Mary Elizabeth Grey.
Twinnings Earl and Lady Grey tea's bear the official endorsement and signature of Richard Grey, the sixth Earl Grey.
Twinnings Lady Grey Tea is widely available to buy from many supermarkets, such as Asda and Morrisons, or direct from Twinning's from one of there stores or from the website.
Lady Grey is sold in packs containing 100 teabags for £5.39 or 50 bags for £2.89, or a smaller pack containing 20 bags for £1.69. The tea can also be bought in loose leafs starting with 125g boxes for £2.03.
You may have to try the website for larger packs as in Asda and Morrisons it is usually the 20 bags which they stock, however I have upon rare occasions seen the pack of 50 available.
If you are not sure if you are going to like this tea you can do what I did and sign up at www.twinings.co.uk and additionally for an e-mail publication called Tea-mails.
On the website after joining you are allowed to select any two teas to try for free out of a rather large selection.
Lady Grey was one of the teas I chose and was delivered straight to my front door just in time for breakfast!
It came with a letter telling me any current happenings at Twinings and also a leaflet detailing about twenty of their most popular teas and how and when to enjoy them. Both my teas were included in this publication.
The teabag comes in a paper packet which opens to reveal the teabag which is attached to a handy string with a small paper tag. As this individual packet gave me directions on how to make and enjoy this tea, the pack instructions were not needed.
It is advised that this tea is drunk black and served alone or with a slice of lemon or orange. You can also add a touch of milk according to Twinings but that is not their recommended way of drinking this tea in order to maximise the taste.
Twinings decribe Lady Grey as a "Zesty, Bright and Reassuring tea" best drunk in the afternoons with cakes or biscuits to "brighten up your day" and "Bring a touch of Sunshine indoors!"
Making the tea is extremely easy. You simply place the tea bag in your chosen cup or mug then submerge it in boiling water leaving it until it has brewed in the way you like.
They advise leaving it for three to four minutes however I find this delivers quite a weak cup of tea and I choose to leave mine for five to seven minutes until it has a deep rich brown colour with an orange undertone.
If you like your tea extremely strong I would advise you to leave for as long as ten minutes.
When I drink coffee and flavoured teas I always add plenty of sugar, however with traditional teas such as this I find sugar masks the already perfect taste and if you are going to add sugar your probably as well drinking a normal tea as in my opinion you won't taste the difference anyway.
As soon as this tea begins to brew you are hit with a zesty aromatic smell. The tea is coloured similar to a normal cup of tea but when held in the light you can see a shiny orange tone throughout the cup.
Lady Grey has a strong full bodied taste yet is delicately refined with the tingly zesty flavours which accompany each sip. This tea is wonderful when drunk pipping hot however as I tend to loose track of time I will often end up with a nearly full cup of cold tea.
This is no problem with Lady Grey as when it cools squeeze a small amount of fresh orange, lime or lemon juice into your cup, add ice and enjoy as a cool and refreshing tea.
It seems I am not the first one to have this idea as Snapple produce an iced tea which is based on the very similar Earl Grey however I have not tried it. - Why pay £1.50 a bottle when you can do the same with a cold cup of tea!!
In the summer I fill a two litre jug of the Lady Grey Tea and allow it to cool. I then squeeze in the juice of a quarter lemon and a whole orange, cool in the fridge for a few hours then serve with ice. This really is worth trying.
Whether drinking the Lady Grey hot or cold I alwys find it most refreshing. Sometimes when I drink something like coke, I will drink and drink it yet not have my thirst quenched. This is the perfect time to bring out the Lady Grey as the bitterness offered by the lemon and orange offer such a crisp taste which quenches your thirst everytime.
As this is a review I have tried to find a negative with this tea and the only negative factor which I feel is worth mentioning is that this tea contains caffeine and although the Earl Grey comes in an Organic alternative, as of yet the Lady Grey does not.
I would recommend drinking Lady Grey at most times of the day however it probably is best to avoid at bed time as it peps you up and invigorates you rather than helping you to wind down.
Saying that, it is great for first thing in the morning to give you that get up and go attitude, or if you begin to tire in the afternoon then sip some Lady Grey and you should soon perk up.
I recommend this tea for all ages. A lot of people to consider this to be a "grannies" tea but this is simply not true. It is light, zesty and refreshing providing you with that welcome boost.
I would most definately recommend trying this tea. They can be bought at very reasonable prices and if you do really like this tea buying in a 100 bag pack would be the cheapest option.
Who is Shah-Rukh-Khan?
He is an Indian actor and singer who has been in Indian TV shows as well as over thirty films. He was born in a difficult birth, with the umbillical cord tangled round his neck and the nurse who delivered him said he was a blessing and predicted great things for him, on the 2nd November, 1985 in New Delhi.
What is on the website?
Basically anything you ever wanted to know about Shah Rukh from all the films he has appeared in, baby pictures, sexy pictures and even stories about him and his family.
There is links to his films, DVDs and Cds on the website telling you how to purchase them. I purchased his CD through this way last summer and it arrived within a week and a half with no problems at all.
There is a lot about what kind of person he is but as this site was devised by a fan it is the fans opinion rather than from the horses mouth.
The only link on the site which does not appear to work is the "Thoughts on SKR" link.
This site is basically like a shrine to Shah-Rukh_Khan and is easy to see it has been adoringly created by an obsessed fan!!
Needless to say if you want to know more anout this gorgeous actor this is definately the place to go, however it is not an unbiased opinion it is very much to celebrate his glory!
OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER
Before I explain more about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) I want to tell you why I decided to write this.
Luckily I do not suffer from OCD but my husband does and as of yet has not managed to completely rid it from his life despite recieving therapy and medication for it.
OCD is a chronic mental health disorder which effects both how you think and behave. People who have OCD have obsessive thoughts and/or ritualistic behaviour.
OCD is not like an addiction where the person gets great joy from gambling or taking drugs or whatever their addiction may be. A person with OCD will get no joy or pleasure from their compulsive behaviour and have to complete it, in their mind to prevent a bad event from occuring or their obbsession from comming true.
I am not sure when my hubby's OCD first began but specialists believe OCD is often started in childhood and begin with a simple obbsession such as not stepping on the cracks in the pavement.
However it is believed my husbands OCD started when he was doing a five year prison sentence, years before he met me. It is believed that because so many privliges and choices were taken from him, he gained a compulsion about personal hygiene and tidyness because this was something that the Prison could not control.
If OCD goes untreated symptoms will usually not improve and if left, it will usually escollate.
His OCD went unnoticed for years after, probably because he lived alone. It wasn't until another eight years later when we met and another two years later when we began a family and moved in together that I noticed his obsessive behaviour.
At first I thought he was just extremely house proud. However the more I watched his behaviour the more it worried me until I did some research on the internet and came up with OCD.
The first reason I noticed his behavior was because we always seemed to be late for everything. I began to realise the reason for this was that we couldn't leave the house until hubby had swept every floor, emptied every bin, closed every blind and un-plugged every plug.
I began to start documenting all his behaviour which I considered compulsive as he didn't agree with my diagnosis!
For months I watched and it became more and more obvious. I began to test little theories I had to see how he reacted.
For example we have six coasters which sit on our livingroom table and I would push them so they were squint and tempt hubby to leave them if he didn't have OCD but he never could. He just HAD to straighten them like his life depended on it.
Other habbits which he had were when we were walking outside, any Telecom Slabs or Drainage Slabs which were attached together in a set of three had to be avoided. He would litterally knock me or our child over just not to stand on a "Threesome" as he called it.
Apparently the only time he had ever stood on one of these was the day he got five years in jail. I tried to point out that he had commited a crime and if he had not done so, whether or not he stepped on the threesome would have not mattered but he could not grasp this.
He associated this with something bad happening and was convinced something bad would happen everytime he stood on one.
It was also staring to affect our family life. My daughter was seven at this point and had started to recieve pocket money in return for doing a few chores.
Included in this was making the bed and assisting with the washing up. This actually caused more arguments as hubby told her not to do this as she couldn't do them to his high standards, and apparently neither could I.
This was the final straw as my daughter loved to wash the dishes and as much as hubby loved her he couldn't bear to let her do this.
By this time his cleaning habbits had escalated as well. He would make tea for everyone but would not sit down to eat his till the oven was cleaned and the dishes were washed.
Another annoying habbit he had developed was rug sorting. We had several rugs in the house with tassles and he would straighten every single tassle by hand until they were straight.
I told him the rug was for walking on and it didn't need to be perfect but there was no rationalising with him. In the end I cut the tassels off the rug which just diverted his obbsessive behaviour elsewhere.
Eventually I contacted his doctor, who was a long standing friend of the family who arranged an appointment for him to see a psychologist.
I brought along all my documentation and within five minutes of the pshycologist speaking to hubby he diagnosed him with OCD.
A treatment plan was devised which included anti-deprssants and a course of CBT(Cognitive Behavioural Treatment). I was relieved to know that at last something was being done to help him.
The anti-depressants seemed to lift his mood but I think the main difference was made by the CBT.
CBT is based on the idea that most unwanted thinking patterns, beliefs, and emotional and behavioural reactions are learnt over a long period of time.
The aim of CBT is to identify the thinking patterns that are causing you to have unwanted feelings and behaviour, and to learn to replace this thinking with more realistic and useful thoughts and beliefs.
The idea also was to expose hubby to situations he was uncomfortable in to try and slowly change his reactions in these situations.
We started off with small things such as pushing a few pictures on the wall so they were squint. When we first started this I could see hubby itching to straighten them and at first he always did.
However slowly over time something wonderful happened and hubby began to realise that although the pictures were unsightly and made him uncomfortable, no harm would come to him or his family if they were left like this.
We began to push his boundries further and further and although his treatment is still ongoing, confronting his OCD has saved our marriage.
My husband still has a long road to recovery in front of him but we will get there and now as a family, we couldn't be closer.
THE BRITISH HEART FOUNDATION
The British Heart Foundation are a charity which want to create a future where people do not die prematurely from heart conditions and lower childhood obesity which can also lead to this. They aim to achieve this through a variety of ways.
*They pioneer groundbreaking research to advance the medicines currently available to treat heart conditions and people who have survived heart failure. They also reasearch new ways to prevent heart disease and lower heart disease.
*The British Heart Foundation educate both adults and children to help them lead a healthy lifestyle and thus lowering their risk of contracting heart disease. They do this by providing free leaflets, internet content, free clubs, school visits and free monthly magazines.
*They train highly specialised Heart Nurses who visit and help patients who have survived heart failure and help them adjust to their new life, as well as help them manage their medication. The heart nurses are so specialised that they are also used to train surgeons, doctors, paramedics and nurses cope better with patients who suffer from heart conditions and the medication available to treat them.
*They also provide areas with defibrillators and train someone within the area to use each one placed.
Although the British Heart Foundation have a large professional sector to make all this possible, none of this could happen without volunteers and public donations.
It is extremely easy to become a volunteer and very rewarding. Most of the work done by volunteers is fundraising, but you can contribute to this in a variety of ways.
To become a volunteer it is best to call your local office who will then send you out a pack. Once you fill this in and return it a meeting will be arranged with your local representative then you can get stuck in.
The addresses and numbers for each Country will be posted at the end of the review.
As you may have guessed by now I am an ambassador for the BHF and I volunteer in my local area Aberdeen. The ways to get involved are many and varied from simply working for a couple of hours in yourr local BHF shop or going to your childs school and asking them to do a fundraising event.
Most areas will also have a committee which have monthly meetings and this is a good way to start getting involved especially if you want to and enjoy meeting new people.
What I do is to spearhead campaigns and projects in my local area, either to raise public awarness of the BHF or specific projects within the BHF or to raise money for the BHF or specific areas within the BHF.
Rather than list what you could do the rest of this review will be about my experiences as a volunteer and what I have learned and gained from it.
My story start off in rather a selfish way to be honest as I started volunteering to gain work experience and a reference to get into University.
However as my mum always says, "Motives for going into something are not important but what it is, is what you give and get out of it and the feelings you leave with."
I was very lucky when I first started to volunteer as the first meeting I had was with a woman called Kathy McLlwaine who was such an inspiration and genuinely seemed to enjoy her work with the BHF.
Kathy was brilliant to learn from as her knowledge about the BHF seemed to be vast and endless but she encoraged me to do the research and put the work in and ensured me my own knowledge and confidence would improve.
It has, but I will not pretend it was easy and it certainly didn't happen overnight. I spent many hours trawling through their internet sight absorbing and learning all the information I could.
They also have a fantastic resource centre where you can order information about a wide variety of topics to do with heart disease. These are all free but a donation is expected as obviously all resources cost money to make.
One of the first projects which I did for the BHF was "The Community Corner" at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. This is a perfect example of how the BHF will match your talents and interest to the posts available.
I was known to be very artistic and crafty and so I was asked to set up a display at the hospital advertising the BHF, telling people about the services we offer, giving free leaflets with health advice and also asking for donations and volunteers.
The display was up for a week and the station was also manned by several volunteers at a time.
One of the first things I experienced was the joy at volunteering and doing a good job, not because I had to but because I wanted to. Everytime someone complemented me on my display I felt so pround and really felt like I was in the right place and helping a great cause.
Another thing which I loved, not just when manning this stall, but when representing the BHF at any event, is the many and varried people you meet.
Some of them just stop to say the BHF are doing a good job but many of them have their own stories to tell about how the BHF have helped them. I have seen people in teers with gratitude because they trully believe without the existence of the BHF, they would not be alive today.
Another project which I did with the BHF was simply to "shake a tin" and collect money but again the BHF thought of my interests and I got to do this at a football match at Pittodrie between Aberdeen and Rangers!
It was windy, rainy and freezing but I had an awsome time. I even brought my daughter and mum with me to help and a large amount of money was raised.
Even if you don't want to volunteer have a look around your neighbourhood as there are other ways to join in such as going to local BHF run Quiz Nights, BBQ's, Dances, Sponsored Walks and for the daring Sponsored Parachute jumps!!
There is a big emphasis right now on "RED FOR HEART" which is a campaign running all through February.
I have got my daughters school involved. All the children are going to pay £1 so that they can wear something Red for the day.
Your local school can do something small like this or they ca go the whole hog and have a red quiz day or even an Ultimate Dodgeball Tournament!
I have got RED for HEART packs which tell you how your school or work place can get involved. If you would like one of these packs send me a message via DooYoo or contact your local BHF office.
If you want any more information on the BHF go to bhf.org.uk
There are also free clubs, games and web-clubs for children and free magazines and information for adults which can again be found on the website.
If you live in Scotland or Northen Ireland:
4 Shore Place
Tel :0131 5555891
If you live in England:
Oak House B
Ransom Wood Business Park
Southwell Road West
Tel: 01623 624558
2255 Coventry Road
Tel: 0121 7228350
PO BOX 296
Tel: 01892 890002
If you live in Wales
PO BOX 50
Tel : 02920 382368