Welcome! Log in or Register

Shazzy

Shazzy
  • 29
  • 122
  • 0
  • 2325
  • 4265
  • 3924
  • Crowns
  • Premium reviews
  • Express reviews
  • Comments
  • Reviews rated
  • Ratings received

Member since: 11.09.2000

  • Sort by:
    • More +
      01.06.2004 22:06
      Very helpful
      (Rating)
      7 Comments

      Advantages

      Disadvantages

      I?ve used a good few perfumes in my time and for more years than I?d care to count. Standing by the perfume counter, slowly perusing the bottles on display, I wondered whether it was time to try something new. Not having time for the spray-wait-sniff test I?d almost decided to stick with what I already knew when another Elizabeth Arden fragrance caught my eye. ?Splendor? was on special offer for? wait for it? £4.99!! Surely a decent perfume couldn?t be that cheap? I looked away, looked back, looked at the label again and sure enough, it was still showing the same price on a sign you couldn?t fail to notice. Now I know ?Red Door? can often be found on offer for around £8 but a fiver just seemed more like a joke than anything else. I asked the assistant if the price was correct and yes, it most certainly was. That did it. There was only one thing to do. A bottle was procured and securely stowed in my handbag. I had no idea what to expect. At that price, it could?ve been complete and utter rubbish but having had several Elizabeth Arden scents before, I knew that while they weren?t necessarily top of the range, they certainly weren?t your usual pound shop junk either. ~~+~~ THE BOTTLE Inside a rather boring looking pale blue box was a rather appealing little bottle. Not the prettiest perfume bottle I?ve ever seen but certainly one that would look good on a dressing table or cosmetics shelf. Just look at the picture at the top. Don?t you think it?s nice? Mind you, it isn?t quite as gold as it appears in the picture. My bottle?s clear and has a silver band below the ball on top. I actually prefer it this way; it?s trendy without losing its classic elegance. Elizabeth Arden aren?t known for being particularly creative with their bottle de signs so in that respect, I was really quite impressed. In case there are any males reading that are wondering why I?m giving the bottle so much importance, let me just tell you that perfume bottles are funny things. I don?t know what it?s like with after-shave but for us girls, a lovely perfume in a pretty bottle somehow makes you feel pampered. Not to mention its decorative value. Can you imagine putting a milk bottle on a vanity table? I think not. Bottle: 3/5 ~~+~~ THE SCENT Now that we have the bottle out of the way, let?s move on to the really important part. What did it smell like? I?m no authority on perfume and have no idea about key notes, top notes, middle notes and the rest. I just know what I like and what I don?t. I can?t really separate the various floral notes from one another but this one, to me, smells very light and sweet, almost like springtime or early summer. Not balmy enough to be a hot summer?s day and a little too colourful for winter. Do you understand what I?m saying? There?s sweet pea in there and maybe some magnolia and musk but that isn?t all. There?s more that I can?t identify. A quick look on the web told me that the actual fragrance is: top note - sweet pea, water lily and freesia; middle note - magnolia, champagne and musk and base note - amber, rosewood and sandlewood. Give it half an hour after spraying before making a final decision because it isn?t until then that its true colours shine through. I found it changed quite drastically during that time. There?s something youthful about the scent. I can?t imagine a very mature woman wearing this but it isn?t so youthful that only the very young can use it. It?s light hearted and says ?lets have fun?. Sexy? No, not really. Gosh, scents are difficult to des cribe, aren?t they? Scent: 3/5 ~~+~~ WHAT?S IT SUITABLE FOR? It?s certainly fresh and although not a particularly romantic fragrance, is still suitable for evening wear as well as every day use. I?m quite happy to use ?Splendor? at all times of the day because while it has enough depth for casual evening use, it?s also light enough for work and pushing a trolley around Tesco. I wouldn?t choose this as my ?best? perfume; it doesn?t evoke enough passion in me for that. There are others out there that would make far more of an impact when you?re really trying to impress, especially if elegance is on the menu. Although described as being suitable for romantic occasions, if you?re hoping to get a certain temperature rising, I doubt this is the perfume to choose. The musk may have some effect but other than that, it just isn?t seductive enough for any real ooh-la-la! Usability: 3/5 ~~+~~ HOW?S ITS STAYING POWER? Hmm, difficult question. Our noses become accustomed to a new smell very quickly so while we sometime think our perfume has worn off, others can still smell it. This can lead to unnecessary reapplication and women who absolutely reek of the whore?s parlour syndrome. My mum, bless her, falls into this category. When she goes out, Estee Lauder?s Youth Dew can be smelt for about a mile around her! I do try to tell her? Anyway, back to Splendor. This one isn?t by any means overpowering (unless, according to my better half, you apply it whilst sat in a closed car) so I decided to do a test. I was all alone last night so I sprayed some on my wrist before going to bed. I figured my nose would forget the smell during the night and I?d be able to tell how well it?d stuck around easier than with a day-time test. By the time I woke, the perfume had been on for 9 hours and could definitely be smelt. Not strong but a lovely wafting fragrance. Do bear in mind that I wasn't active during the night (I said I was alone, didn't I?) so the sweating associated with normal daytime activity may well effect its staying power somewhat. I?d say the strength of this is just right for day time use but evening wear might demand something more powerful depending on the occasion. However, as with the way scents develop, their staying power also tends to vary from person to person so any definite answer to this question?s impossible. Staying power: 4/5 ~~+~~ AND THE PRICE? As I said, I got my bottle on special offer but having looked on the ?net, I found a price of £7.99 for 30ml bottle eau de perfum. This carries a RRP of £20 (this is the price Ciao?s sponsors are currently selling it for). I wouldn?t pay £20 for this perfume. £7.99, yes. Maybe even a tenner. I think that?s as far as I?d go, though. £4.99 makes me even happier! Price: 3/5 (because it?s often on offer but is too expensive otherwise) ~~+~~ WOULD I RECOMMEND IT? Another difficult question. Perfumes smell different on different people so unless you have the same chemical reactions as me, it may well smell awful or even better on you. If you?ve tried Red Door, Sunflowers or White Diamonds and got along with them then you?ll probably like this. Cerruti 1881 smells dreadful on me as does Ysatis so if either is one of your favourites, you?d probably do well to steer clear of thi s one. I?m just guessing, though. It?s a decent, all-purpose sort of scent but I wouldn?t recommend paying full price. For those who like this fragrance, it?s excellent value for money if you can find it on offer and the offers also make it easier to try without losing too much should you decide that it isn?t for you. Overall judgement: 3/5 ~~+~~ I?ve been having little sniffs whilst writing this, both on my wrist and from the bottle and am starting to feel a bit woozy now. Too much perfume does that to me. I think I?ll grab a bath and go au naturelle for the rest of the day. No, not naked! I?m painting the shed and somehow I think a naked Sharon wielding a paint brush might be a little too shocking for my neighbours.

      Comments

      Login or register to add comments
      • Garden News / Magazine / Newspaper / 1 Reading / 17 Ratings
        More +
        29.04.2004 20:13
        Very helpful
        (Rating)
        7 Comments

        Advantages

        Disadvantages

        It won?t come as any surprise to those who regularly read my reviews when I say I?m a keen gardener. There?s something about the feel of the earth between your fingers and the sense of satisfaction to be gained from watching a fragile seedling or a tiny cutting grow into a vigorous, thriving plant. However, I?m not a winter gardener. I don?t have a proper greenhouse and I don?t react well to spending too much time outside in the cold and damp. It?s during those short, miserable days of winter that I can be found with my nose stuck into some sort of gardening literature. Garden News is published weekly and is available to buy on a Wednesday. If, like me, you choose to subscribe, you?ll receive it a day before it hits the shops although I?m not sure that has any real advantage. For me, subscribing simply means that I?ll receive it every week without having to dash to the shop on publication day because in our town, leaving it one day later would usually mean it?s sold out. You wouldn?t believe the times my other half has trawled the shops of Crewe in search of Garden News for me. I believe it was after one such fruitless journey that he suggested I take out a subscription. Published by emap, this isn?t a magazine as such, more a gardening newspaper that generally consists of about 50 pages at a cost of 1.30 per issue. It?s easy reading and although probably not of much interest to the professional gardener, I?m sure even those with a good few years behind them spent picking up gardening knowledge will find some handy hints and tips now and then. Any specialist periodical will eventually have to repeat information as new readers won?t have seen the original piece and also because techniques develop that may give the same subject a slightly different angle, but I find Garden News to be just a bit too repetit ive. I?m not overly impressed with their main feature articles either as they often leave out what I consider important information, like when a particular plant should preferably be put in the ground and when it?s likely to flower. Telling me what sort of soil it prefers and how to feed it is all very well and good but I?m not likely to be able to make an informed decision as to whether or not to add a particular plant to my collection when I don?t even know when it?s going to flower. However, there are always lots of little tips and hints about things you should be doing in the garden at the time of publication and they often include information on how to do these things so it?s not all bad. The particular issue I?m looking at right now has a piece about feeding the lawn, another about making a sedum mat in the patio or pathway, how to pot on fuchsia cuttings, growing busy lizzies from plugs, cleaning up your garden pond and how to grow oriental vegetables. And that?s just three pages worth! There?s a two page spread on Auriculars but unfortunately, as I?ve come to expect, there?s no mention of when they flower. Maybe because they?re flowering now they figure everybody will know that they?re spring flowering. But would they? How do we know they aren?t going to continue flowering through to Autumn? There?s advice on where to plant them but unfortunately, there isn?t really any proper after care advice either. There are several regular features including ?Hot New Plants? where Frank Hardy introduces a couple of plants that have recently been launched. This is one of the more interesting features in my opinion as it helps me keep up-to-date with what?s on the market and there have been a good few times when I?ve seen a new plant at the garden centre and known what it is because I?d recently seen Frank?s review of it. The letters s ection seems to be popular as there are always plenty of reader?s stories and ideas to browse through. I often think that experienced amateurs can offer more real gardening advice than a lot of the professionals out there who?ve become so hung up in water features and hard landscaping that they?ve almost forgotten what roots and blooms are and as such, there are often some very good tips to be picked up through reader?s letters. ?Steve?s Scene? is a column by Steve Brookes and varies from cute anecdotes to interesting ideas that he?s thought up and tried. Sometimes funny, sometimes serious but always entertaining. ?Other People?s Gardens? is another of my favourite sections. Every week a reader?s garden is featured as a 3-page spread and more often than not, I?m totally envious! They?re not all huge gardens either; sometimes the featured garden isn?t much more than postage stamp sized but you?d be amazed at what some people manage to do with a tiny plot. The colour pictures usually give me new ideas for my own garden though and they?re always accompanied by tips from the gardener. There?s also a half page feature called ?Readers? Gardens?. These gardens are usually less impressive than the main feature although I don?t mean that in a derogatory way. They?re still over and above what you?d find in an average garden but this feature offers only one colour picture of the garden, a picture of the gardener(s) along with a question and answer type interview. Again, there are tips to be had from what the amateurs have done. ?Question Time? with Nigel Colborn usually spans 2-3 pages and consists of, as the name suggests, questions from readers. Some demand more in-depth answers, some are what they call ?quick queries?. I?ve learned lots through this and every now and then, a question will come up that covers a problem I?ve also been having. There are questions that seem to be repeated a tad too often, usually the ones about getting rid of slugs and vine weevils but I suppose that?s because they?re the sort of problems most of us will get from time to time (or in my case with the slugs, all of the time) and new readers will be needing help with them. Joe Swift draws up a design for a reader?s garden each week along with planting instructions. They?re real gardens that are causing a problem for their owners and can range from dark areas up the side of a semi to boggy areas and those with sandy soil that?s sun-baked throughout the day. He always has a solution and I find it interesting to see what he comes up with. Unfortunately, this is another area where there?s plenty of instruction related to the actual planting but very little related to after care. I?m sorry, but plants don?t look after themselves. Another of my favourite features is ?On The Wildside? where Julian Rollins tells us a bit about wildlife that can be expected in the garden, what we can do to entice them in, what the different varieties are useful for and lots more. He also pops in some information on wildlife that you don?t want in your garden and what to do to prevent them visiting. We?re planning to make a wildlife pond this year so it?ll be exciting to see whether it helps. There?s a reasonably good balance of organic and non-organic cultivating advice and problem solutions which I feel gives the individual a better chance of making a decision regarding which way to go. I try to be organic in as far as not using chemicals that are harmful to the environment but there are times when non-organic products cut the mustard better. All chemicals aren?t necessarily bad. There?s plenty of information for the vegetable gardener too, although I rarely read those pages as I don?t do veg. I should but I just don?t have the room for both and I love decorative plants too much to give them up. I want a relaxing oasis at the back of my house, now an allotment. But each to their own and if asparagus and broccoli are your thing, there?s some advice for you to be had here too. I wouldn?t, however, recommend it for those who grow only vegetables. There?s a crossword and a children?s page, a few pages dedicated to small ads, reviews of garden tools and other equipment and some special offers although I?ve never actually taken advantage of them. Most weeks there?s a free packet of seeds but unfortunately, not usually the seeds I?d want. Mind you, having said that, I will be planting both the nasturtiums and the morning glory that have been given away recently. I hate throwing seeds away so they?re all collected in a box in the cupboard under the stairs but I know I?ll never use most of them so perhaps it?s time to find them a new home. Subscribing is easy. Inside the paper you?ll find a coupon that can be handed to your local newsagent instructing him/her to reserve a copy for you every week or you can do as I did and go to the ?Magazine Subscriptions? website (url can be found at the end of this review) to subscribe on a monthly basis. The cost is then £4.33 by direct debit. When considering magazines such as BBC Gardener?s World and Garden Answers, this one?s pretty dire in comparison. But it costs less so what can you expect? It?s certainly better than its closest competitor, Amateur Gardening, which is a proper magazine that?s also published weekly at 30p more than Garden News. I bought Amateur Gardening every week for at least a year and although it has lots of pretty pictures and big name columnists, it hasn?t anywhere near to amount of information that Garden News has. What? s more, being made of newspaper, when you?re finished with it you can rip it up and put it on the compost heap or use it as a mulch! I don?t know how long I?ll continue to subscribe to this particular publication but until something better is available on a weekly basis, I?ll be sticking with it. ~~+~~+~~ URL Magazine Subscriptions: www.magazine-subscription.co.uk/garden_news.htm

        Comments

        Login or register to add comments
        • Sweet Pea / Plant / 6 Readings / 17 Ratings
          More +
          26.04.2004 19:43
          Very helpful
          (Rating)
          6 Comments

          Advantages

          Disadvantages

          Colour, texture and scent are all important elements of a well designed garden. A mish-mash of plants that are chosen without any particular scheme in mind and thrown into the ground in any old spot will rarely work. Sure, they may bloom but you probably won?t be getting the best from your garden. Our back garden is based on plenty of foliage for texture and cool pastels to add splashes of colour so sweet peas, latin name Lathyrus, fit in perfectly. They?re very easy to grow and look lovely winding their way up a wigwam of bamboo canes in a pot or through a trellis along with clematis or other permanent climbers. Sweet peas usually grow to about 8 foot but in a pot with bamboo canes you can either keep them down by pinching out the growing tips whenever they?re too long or you can help them wind their way around the wigwam by tying them to the canes with soft twine. Obviously, the higher your canes, the better. Hold the canes together at the top by either twisting garden wire around them (it looks like the seals you use with sandwich bags only green instead of white) or buy special caps that have three gaps for fitting over the top of the canes. The second option is the safer option as you?re less likely to damage your face when leaning over your plants although until this year, I?ve always used wire and have never had an accident. I?d probably be more inclined to use them if I had inquisitive children, though. Now?s a good time to plant the seeds. They?re quite big, about the size of a garden pea, so easy enough to handle. Just poke them into the soil where you want them to grow and within 10-14 days you should see the seedlings appear. In a pot, plant the seeds around the canes, planting about twice as many seeds as you think you?ll need. Not all will germinate and should you end up with too many, pull out the weaker seedlings leaving just the strongest of the bunch to grow on and become vigorous, floriferous plants. Some gardeners swear by soaking the seeds for 24 hours before planting, others say that you should rub the seeds with sandpaper to aid germination. I?ve done neither and never had a problem. If you do decide to plant sweet peas and find that you like them so much that you?ll be wanting some next year, late autumn/early winter, around October/November, is the best time to sow the seeds if you have a greenhouse or shed window sill available although January still isn?t too late. Sweet peas hate having their long roots disturbed so the insides of toilet rolls come in handy here as root trainers. Stand them in a seed tray, fill with good quality seed compost and poke 2-3 seeds into each. Again, they?ll have germinated within 10 days or so and will grow slowly but steadily throughout the winter. By the time spring comes they will be ready for planting out and in flower at least a month before their spring sown counterparts. Young plants growing directly in the ground are often prone to slug and snail attack. A hungry snail can strip a whole row of sweet peas within minutes. Ok, so maybe not quite that quick but it certainly seems like it when you?ve just been admiring some nice, strong baby plants only to discover that they?ve been devoured by public enemy number one whilst your back was turned. Obviously this can be a problem with sweet peas growing in pots too although mine seem to have got away without any sign of attack so far. Those who grow sweet peas for show purposes remove the tendrils that they?ll naturally use to climb as this produces longer, straighter flower stems. However, it means more work, not only because you have to check and remove tendrils on a daily basis but because you?ll have to tie in the plants throughout their lives as they?ll no longer have a natural way of climbing. By leaving the tendrils intact , you?ll only need to tie in for the first 6 inches or so, until the plants establish themselves but the flowers will be on shorter, less straight stems. Personally, I think that?s part of their charm. In flower from July to September (earlier if sown the previous year), the plant is hermaphrodite, meaning that they have both male and female organs and can be pollinated by insects without the need for the insect to have first visited a plant of the opposite sex. Flowers are highly perfumed and beautiful when cut for the house. You don?t even need to feel guilty for cutting them either; the more flowers you take off, the more the plant will produce. In fact, it?s important to keep cutting the flowers as if allowed to run to seed, flowering will come to an abrupt end. Colours range from white through various shades of pink, red, peach, lilac, blue and purple with streaked and marbled varieties available in combinations of these colours. A pale yellow variety is also to be had although I?ve never seen it in bloom. Picotee flowers, with their wavy edges, are especially pretty. Although preferring a sunny position, sweet peas will also grow happily in dappled shade. Full shade, however, is a no-go zone. During recent years a few dwarf varieties have appeared on the market. These generally grow to about 12 - 16 inches and are therefore perfect for hanging baskets. Imagine a basket full of lush, pastel coloured, fragrant sweet peas, delicate lobelia and maybe a verbena or two. You can?t possibly dispute how pretty that?d be. Sweet peas seedlings can suffer if over watered but established plants are thirsty, needing the soil or compost to be kept damp but not waterlogged. For pot or basket grown plants, watering at least once a day, preferably during the evening, will be necessary. However, they?re not particularly hungry so I don?t b oth with slow release fertiliser in their pots, I just give them a drop of a good balanced fertilizer once a fortnight. (I personally prefer Miracle Gro although there are organic alternatives available). There are some viruses that sweet peas can be prone to although I?ve never had a problem with them. Maybe I?ve just been lucky. I?m told that they?ll generally show up as flecking of the leaves, stunting or distortion of the plant and/or flowers. Aphids are usually to blame as they transfer virus from one plant to another. Remember to love those ladybirds and lacewings as they really are the best aphid control available although a spray with a solution of 1 part washing up liquid to 5 parts water will usually get rid of them for a week or so. Any plants that appear to be affected should be removed immediately and destroyed. Don?t throw them in the compost bin as some viruses will survive and infect any plants that are later grown in or mulched with your compost. My other half just reminded me that the seeds are poisonous so it?s important that children understand that they are NOT edible as if allowed to run to seed, the pods look very similar to those of edible peas. Our climbing sweet peas are doing well in a pot on the patio and a couple of days ago planted a few more seeds to grow up and around a cherry tree that also grows in a pot on the patio. I?ve some of the dwarf variety ready to be transferred to a basket once my darling partner gets his power tool out and hangs the blooming thing up, too (no pun intended there). Oh, how I love this time of year. I can?t imagine anything more therapeutic than pottering around in the garden. ~~+~~+~~

          Comments

          Login or register to add comments
          • Holly / Plant / 1 Reading / 26 Ratings
            More +
            02.12.2003 01:15
            Very helpful
            (Rating)
            8 Comments

            Advantages

            Disadvantages

            Holly. Ilex aquifolium. Generally forgotten for most of the year, it's once again about to take centre stage as a symbol of Christmas, surpassed only by the jolly man in red and fir trees, real or imitation. Maybe flashing lights have also passed it on the popularity polls of late but there's no doubt that where many of our oldest traditions have long since disappeared, decorating the house with holly has survived the test of time. Being evergreen, holly's first association with Christmas was as a symbol of Christ's eternal life, the white flowers in spring were said to symbolise his immaculate conception 9 months earlier, the red berries his blood. Legend has it that the berries were originally yellow, turning red only after the crucifixion. Christmas, however, is a relatively modern celebration whereas holly is one of our oldest native plants. As far back as the first century, roman writer, Pliny, wrote that planting a holly close to the house would ward off any evil spirits that may be lurking as well as providing protection against witches. Our holly is at the bottom of the garden, about 30 feet from the house so I'm hoping it's close enough. By medieval times things had changed slightly. Rather than just protecting against any old evil spirit, holly was now said to protect specifically against house goblins. I can assure you that I've not once seen a goblin in this house (although my mum did once try to buy me a teasmade), so I can only assume that our two bushes are doing the business. At around the same time it was also considered unlucky to cut down an entire tree rather than just removing a few branches. Holly was also said to predict the coming winter weather. People once believed, and I'm sure some still do, that a heavy crop of berries predicted a long, cold winter as the berries would supply extra food to keep the birds alive. It sounds reasonable enough but we now know that th e amount of fruit is a result of a good summer and bears no relation to what will happen with the weather ahead. Not to worry though, regardless of whether you can predict the weather with it, a heavily laden holly is certainly a sight to behold and it's unfortunate that the introduction of mechanical hedge trimmers along with the destruction of our hedgerows has affected its availability at Christmas, pushing prices up. All isn't bleak though. The general decline in free roaming, grazing farm stock that previously destroyed young holly seedlings has meant that the numbers are again increasing. Holly bushes are one of the easiest shrubs to grow. With their dark, glossy green leaves they made superb hedges, especially as a backdrop to a colourful border. The variegated varieties make excellent specimen plants. With so many to choose from, I couldn't possibly describe them all. There are varieties with pale leaves, blotched leaves, large leaves, tiny leaves, spiny leaves and those without any spines at all. Pop along to any good garden centre at this time of the year and you'll no doubt find a decent selection on offer. Hollies are slow growing shrubs. A 40cm example (a common size when sold) will take about 8 years to reach a height of 1.5 metres. In other words, although they made lovely hedges, if you're in a hurry, this isn't the plant for you. As a specimen it's perfect as it isn't anywhere even close to rampant so won't grow out of control and if you're able to let it develop into a dense bush, it'll provide a safe nesting site for a variety of birds. The big drawback with holly is the need for two plants if you're to get berries on one. One must be female, the berry bearing plant, the other male. We have ours planted together in the far corner of the garden by a mature field maple. There's plenty of room for them there, one's variegated, the other dark green, and I thi nk they look lovely, with or without berries. If you're lucky enough to have a large garden, you can always tuck the male away out of sight behind the shed or garage, along with the composter, bins and other necessities that you'd rather not display. If you're happy to grow two hollies, or happen to know that there's definitely a male growing close by, you'll find these extremely hardly shrubs a doddle to grow. While they prefer good, well drained soil, they'll tolerate just about any toil and position; full sun or shade, windy or sheltered, sandy or clay. They're even happy growing in seaside gardens. Pruning isn't necessary other than to remove sprigs for Christmas decoration or to maintain a particular shape or size. A good going over with a pair of secateurs after fruiting is all that's needed to keep a small bush looking tidy, larger specimens can be clipped with shears. Left alone they'll reach a height of 12 metres (40 feet), and look magnificent. Don't worry though, it really is easy to control. I think I'll wait another couple of weeks before bringing any holly into the house for Christmas but in the meantime I'm crossing my fingers that our bushes will continue to keep the goblins away. ~~+~~+~~

            Comments

            Login or register to add comments
            • More +
              29.11.2003 00:42
              Very helpful
              (Rating)
              10 Comments

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              My dad used to love his roses and had some beautiful hybrid teas. They're the type that have lovely tight buds and keep their shape well as they open. I can remember a fabulous velvet red rose, a pretty lilac rose called "Blue Moon" and, what's probably the most popular rose of all time, "Peace", a pretty mixture of yellow and blush pink. Every Saturday evening during summer, I'd go down the path and pick the most perfect bud I could find to take to our local working man's club for my uncle to wear in his buttonhole. I was about six at the time. None of us stay children forever though and by the time I'd reached my mid teens I'd learned to hate them. Being planted to flank the path on both sides meant that my tights were constantly being snagged, several favourite jumpers received nasty pulls and I lost count of the time I went to get the washing in only to find the bed linen hooked to the roses. Those beautiful flowers that I'd so lovingly picked as a child had turned into the enemy! Their beauty, as far as I was concerned, was there for no other reason than to entice innocents to come closer so that the wicked thorns (that are actually prickles because they grow on the surface of the stem) can, at best, ruin your clothes or, at worst, rip into your flesh, drawing blood and leaving you screaming obscenities at it. Stop and smell the roses? Not me, thank you very much. This strong dislike of roses followed me into adulthood and, although I?ve always loved flowers and gardening, roses have never featured on my plot. Not only had I never planted one, I actually removed several from one of my gardens. However, this has recently changed. We've been sorting out the patio and wanted something to grow up a 15 foot wall and although ivy or virginia creeper would've done the job beautifully, we really wanted something that would flower. Clematis was out, at least as a stand alone, as it just w ouldn't reach the necessary heights; honeysuckle could possibly have done the job nicely but we already had one growing on the opposite fence and really wanted something different. "What about a climbing rose?" a friend suggested. My immediate response was one of dismissal. I don't do roses, climbing or otherwise. But try as I might, I couldn't find anything else suitable and as Richard, my other half, quite liked the idea of a rose up the wall, I ordered the David Austin catalogue. It arrived within a couple of days and was one of the most beautiful catalogues I've ever seen. I'd ordered several other rose catalogues too and whereas the majority were equally as informative as far as roses go, none of the jumped out and grabbed me the way David Austin's did. After reading the whole thing from cover to cover, I felt I was in a far better position to make a decision. There were indeed roses that could climb to 15 feet and more! And what's more, they didn't appear to be too difficult to look after. A prune in February, a handful of rose fertiliser once active growth gets underway and again in June, and a mulch in winter. They also recommend an occasional spray against aphids but that wouldn't be popular amongst organic gardeners, like myself. Personally I prefer the ladybird method. Obviously, a catalogue like this is limited in that they simply don't have the room for an illustration of every rose they have available. Wanting to see more, I logged onto the website to have a peek at some of the roses that sounded useful for particular need. While the choice wasn't huge (most roses don't grow to such heights), there were pinks, scarlet, magentas, crimsons, whites and yellows available. Surely that's enough for anybody? Even I had to admit that some of them were particularly beautiful. The website's easy to use. You first arrive at a splash page where you choose your location by clicking on a flag. You're then led to the main introductory page where you'll learn a little able David Austin himself. From here you can search for roses, order the free catalogue, find information related to choosing and cultivating roses, see the photo gallery and various other bits and pieces. During my search for the perfect rose, I did find another company, Peter Beale's Roses, to have a better website, especially as you could search by height which saved me having to click on each climber to see whether it would be tall enough for us. That's something that would be worthwhile for David Austin to add, but even though it wasn't best, it was still a top class site. After reading the catalogue and browsing the website, I'd made a decision. I'd leave my 30 year long loathing of roses behind me and grow one in our garden. Once the decision had been made, I could hardly wait to get in the car and head south to Albrighton, just outside Wolverhampton, and luckily only about an hours drive from our home in Crewe. A friend, the same one who originally suggested a rose, wanted to come with us so a date was agreed upon and soon we were trundling towards what may well be one of the sweetest smelling places on earth. The nursery is located of a narrow lane in what appeared to be the middle of nowhere, although on closer inspection proved to be overlooking the main runway at RAF Cosford. A map is provided in the catalogue and on the website under the "Contact Us" section (you have to click on a further link to bring up the map), and as the nursery is well sign posted from the A41, it's easy enough to find. The sales area is extensive with all current retail stock displayed in a pleasant courtyard type area along with a more open area to the side. As we visited late in the year (early September), only a minority of plants were in bloom but all appeared to be strong, healthy examples. Thes e were container grown plants and can therefore, so we were told, be planted at any time. They are, however, slightly more costly than their bare-root counterparts. The drawback with bare-root plants is that they can only be planted during the cold half of the year. To weight the balance back though, bare-root plants (and this goes for all shrubs and trees) will generally grow to be stronger, more vigorous plants. I wondered for a moment whether to order a bare-root plant instead, but that would mean a hard pruned rose that wouldn't be seen in its full glory until next summer. Richard had already found a healthy looking plant that would climb to 20 feet that was covered with bunches of exquisite, shell pink flowers with a beautiful perfume, somewhat like a mixture of myrrh and sherbet. I simply couldn't resist taking it home and enjoying the flowers and scent for what remained of the season. Had I ordered a bare root plant, this rose would've cost £9.25 plus £5.50 carriage and packing. The one we bought was slightly more than 4 feet high with an equal spread, in full bloom and cost £10.95. I'll admit that compared to the £2.99 roses that are sold in plastic packages in supermarkets, this probably seems a bit steep, but you really have to see the quality of he plants to appreciate the prices difference and you'll certainly never find the same variety of choice in a supermarket. The choice is huge! I don't have a definite figure but there must be at least a thousand different roses available ranging from David Austin's speciality, the English Rose, to Floribundas, Ramblers, Gallicas, Damask, Shrub Roses, Ground Cover Roses, Wild Roses and Standard Roses, each beautiful in its own right. The shop has a variety of tools available, although these are all at the higher end of the price range. A pair of secateurs costing £62.00 is out of my range, anyway. I appreciate that they're the mutt's nuts of secat eurs but my £5.99 pair do the job to my satisfaction, thanks. They also sell some gorgeous, rose scented toiletries. I tried to drop a couple of big hints re the rose perfume but I don't think anybody sneaked back in so I'm not expecting any under the tree this year. There were books about roses, but at prices like £20.00, I'm sure they're more likely to be of interest to the enthusiast rather than the likes of me who may never grow more than one rose. There were cheaper ones but I'll just wait until I find something suitable at a car boot sale. I'm so cheap! Alongside the nursery are the show gardens. Considering how few plants were flowering in the sales area, we were positively surprised at the floral display of the gardens. We were lucky because not only did we visit late in the season but also late in the day so had the gardens to ourselves. I can only describe them as stunning. Paths of perfectly manicured lawns lead you through walkways of the most delicate and impeccable roses. Arches and arbours are clad with yet more flowers and just as you start to think you'll go into sensual overload, the path opens out to reveal a fantastic renaissance garden featuring a long, oblong fountained pond a la Taj Mahal, flanked by fabulous standards and leading to a stone platform where one can sit amongst yet more roses for some quite contemplation. Before I finish, I feel I should also mention that Claire Austin, who, if I remember correctly, is David Austin's daughter, raises hardy perennials and part of the nursery is devoted to her plants. We bought a beautiful delphinium, a hosta, a clematis and, as she has a reasonable selection of native wild flowers, a couple of dog tooth violets. The delphinium has now gone to bed for the winter, as has the hosta, but the violets are going great guns. I'm hoping they'll give plenty of the pretty little flowers in early spring, although on must've got a little confused b y the warm weather as she bloomed last month. The rose has lots the last of her blooms, as has the clematis that's growing through her, but both still look healthy and I have every faith that the wall will one day be covered with beautiful blooms. If you're close enough to Wolverhampton for a visit and you think you'd enjoy a display of roses, I'd highly recommend a visit to the gardens next summer. You can always get a little taster by looking at the pictures on the website. If you're looking to buy a rose, thanks to the mail order service, you can be just about anywhere in the world and still be able to enjoy a David Austin Rose. P&P is £5.50 inland for up to 3 plants, others must apply for a quotation. With our pretty pink rose growing beside the patio, I'm more than happy to stop and smell the roses now - I just don't get too close! ~~+~~+~~ David Austin Roses Bowling Green Lane Albrighton Wolverhampton WV7 3HB General Enquiries: (01902) 376300 Catalogue Order Line: (01902) 376376 Web: www.davidaustinroses.com ~~+~~+~~

              Comments

              Login or register to add comments
              • More +
                17.11.2003 22:57
                Very helpful
                (Rating)
                15 Comments

                Advantages

                Disadvantages

                q: When did you join dooyoo? a: I originally joined in September 2000 but didn't really do much. Just looked around a bit and went away again. I came back in the spring of 2001 with fresh interest and the rest, as they say, is history. ~~~+~~~+~~~~ q: How did you discover dooyoo? a: I used to run a website aimed at women and one day I received an email from somebody at dooyoo telling me that my site had been given 5 star ratings and would I like to display a graphic to this effect? Obviously, I wasn't going to answer that without first looking at the site so I nipped over, registered, had a look and decided that no, I didn't want a tacky green graphic on the front of my tastefully designed site, thank you ;-) ~~~+~~~+~~~~ q: Why did you join? a: I've already answered that above, but if you mean "why did I start using the site?" then the answer's different. I wanted to improve my English. I'd left England as a 19 year old who'd wasted most of her teenage school years bunking off and doing nothing useful. My language skills developed and matured abroad and on my return, about 6 years ago, I found that, horror of horrors, I was still using English as a teenager would! My vocabulary quickly improved but my spelling and grammar was atrocious. Something had to be done and I figured that by reading other people's work, trying to figure out what was good and what wasn't and then actually writing something myself, things would eventually improve. Have they? I think so. I certainly hope so! ~~~+~~~+~~~~ q: What was your very first opinion on? a: I wrote about Norway. It's the country I lived in for so many years and a place where part of me will always belong. I'd go back tomorrow if circumstances allowed it but that isn't going to happen. Maybe I'll update that opinion one day. ~~~+~~~+~~~~ q: Did you fi nd it easy to get the hang of dooyoo? a: Well it's not exactly rocket science, is it? To be honest though, the old dooyoo that I joined (I believe it was Mk I) was a lot simpler in design than the current version. It looked more or less like a search engine and you couldn't really go wrong with it. Then came Mk II and things became a bit more confusing. It didn't always work properly and sometimes we'd nip in through a back door that ILoveJackDaniels had so kindly supplied for us. The big problem came with Mk III, the arrival of what was supposed to change the way consumer websites worked, the dreadful Aurora. Well it certainly changed they way dooyoo works by practically destroying it! It's slow, things don't always work as they should and it's very difficult to navigate. I feel sorry for those who join these days. ~~~+~~~+~~~~ q: Did you read other opinions before you posted your first one? a: Yes, quite a few. The first ones I read were the ones related to my website, then when I came back I read all sorts of things and found some really good authors. I learned a lot from reading them and still do. ~~~+~~~+~~~~ q: Do you write no/some/many comments? a: That depends on how you define 'some' and 'many'. I leave a comment on about half of the ops I read. I don't like leaving comments just for the sake of it and can't stand it when people leave comments that are nothing other than a smiley or a simple comment that isn't relevant to the opinion they've read or at least a remark that the author would 'get'. Why? Just so that they can get their name about? Sometimes I'm sure people don't always read the opinion and just leave a general comment so that it looks as if they have, but I guess I don't have to start that argument here. ~~~+~~~+~~~~ q: When you click on the list of Newest Reviews, do you read your friends' opinions no matter what they're on/according to subject no matter who has written on it/preferably the opinions of new writers? a: I'm assuming here that 'friends' means those in my Circle of Friends? There are some whose work I'll almost always read regardless of subject matter because I know they're going to both entertain and inform me. It's simply a matter of enjoying their style of writing and knowing that they can turn even the most mundane subject into something interesting. Others I'll read as long as they're writing on a subject that I think will interest me, otherwise I look for anybody who's written on anything that I want to read about. I'll generally steer clear of gaming and computer related opinions, tending to veer more towards books, house & garden and anything that sounds like it could be funny. Unfortunately, I don't read new writers anywhere near as much as I'd like to. I just don't get enough time on here to read everything I'd want to and tend to stick to those I know I'm going to enjoy. That doesn't mean to say that I never read new writers, just not as often as I'd like to. ~~~+~~~+~~~~ q: Do you write your opinions in one sitting? a: No. I usually write them with a pen on paper first then when I'm happy with it there, I'll re-write it on the PC. Even then, I'll probably still change little bits here and there before posting. ~~~+~~~+~~~~ q: Do you use a spell check? a: YES! I'd never manage without one! Mind you, I have to say that it's nice to see that as time has passed, the amount of mistakes my spell checker finds are fewer and fewer. It's even got to the point now where I can check an opinion and it'll find no mistakes. That makes me feel as though I've gotten somewhere :-) ~~~+~~~+~~~~ q: Do you think you can improve your chances to get a crown if you suck up to a guide? a: Hehehe. Are you trying to start a war here? No, I don't think you can. I honestly think that the guides on dooyoo are mature enough to not be swayed by silly actions like sucking up. When I was a guide I'm sure I would've been less likely to nominate for a crown if somebody was obviously sucking up to me. I realise that isn't the right way of going about things either, but I really can't stand that sort of thing. I nominate the usefulness of the opinion, not the writer. And I don't nominate opinions just because they have quirky little stories attached to them either. It's consumer usefulness that matters. ~~~+~~~+~~~~ q: Are you a member of a forum or a chat room? a: Yes. I miss the OpCom chat room but am usually on Chatterweb a few times a week if not daily. I don't post as much there anymore, it's the problem of time again, but I like to keep up with the goings ons. I visit Tooyoo but not often. There's no doubt that these places strengthen the community and if that's what people are looking for here, they really should join because the community spirit around here is second to none. I know, because when I was taken ill earlier this year and consequently spent four months in hospital, the people here rallied round in a way I would never in a million years have expected. Cards, letters, CDs, quiz books, jigsaws, cuddly toys, flowers, night-dresses (because I had to have button through ones which were proving difficult for my partner to find) and all sorts were sent brighten my days, keep me occupied and generally make life easier. They were truly wonderful! ~~~+~~~+~~~~ q: Does it get to you when members praise or condemn you? a: I doesn't "get to me" as such, in that it upsets me or sends me dancing on clouds, but it certainly affects me in that it has an influence on how I perceive my writing or my manner towards other. Maybe condemn's the wrong word; I can't say I've ever felt condemned by anybody, but I've certainly been criticised. Sometimes I've felt it was unjustified and have told the person so, other times I've agreed. There are times when it takes somebody else to point out our shortcomings, even on a website. ~~~+~~~+~~~~ q: What did you do in your spare time before you joined dooyoo? a: I wrote, but mainly in Norwegian. To be honest, I more or less did the same things as I do now. Boring, eh? ~~~+~~~+~~~~ q: What do you wish for the future? a: For dooyoo? That they'd re-design the site so that it was easier to navigate and fix the bloody bugs! Maybe the place'd liven up a bit more then. Not too much to ask, is it? ~~~+~~~+~~~~ P.S. Please don't take this challenge to ciao without asking MALU, she'd rather decide herself what to do with a text she's written, when to take it there or if at all. Thank you.

                Comments

                Login or register to add comments
                  More Comments
                • More +
                  16.11.2003 01:01
                  Very helpful
                  (Rating)
                  10 Comments

                  Advantages

                  Disadvantages

                  Every now and again a new product's launched that, after owning it for a while, makes you wonder how on earth you ever managed without it. Ok, this particular product hasn't made the sort of impact on my life that electric light had on my grandmother or the automatic washing machine had on my dear ol' mum but for those who are partial to a spot of gardening, the Garden Claw's certainly a worthwhile addition to the tool shed. Before I go further, let it be said that our version of the garden claw is NOT the original by Joseph Enterprises, but a cheaper version by 'The Kent Collection', whoever they may be. I saw a trolley load of them being sold off for £3.99 each at our local Focus store and although I'll admit to thinking that they were probably rubbish to be 'dumped' at that price, considering the original are being sold at £34.99, it was worth the gamble. Our claw is a green and about 36 inches high (3 foot). I'm 5'9" and although not exactly uncomfortable to use, it could've done with another couple of inches to be the correct working height for me. But these things are no doubt designed for the average gardener and if they're statistically 5'7", who am I to argue? However, I believe the original Gold version of the Garden Claw is height adjustable. It's made of steel and weight wise, it's just about right. I tried to find our version on the net but there's no trace of it so I guess they're knocked out cheap in Taiwan or somewhere and sold here for a tenner, or four quid when they don't move quick enough. Where there would normally be a fork or spade on the end of a long shaft, this tool has...yes, you guessed it, a claw! This claw is a six pronged contraption, four of the prongs positioned in each corner of a square pattern with two shorter prongs in the middle. The outer prongs are slightly angled (like a whisk) and each prong h as a flattish, narrow arrow type point at the end. At first glance it didn't really strike me as being something that'd be particularly useful to dig with at all and unless you saw the original TV ads, you'd be excused for not being entirely sure how to use it. The idea is to twist rather than dig. The corkscrew spiral action loosens up compacted soil thus making the soil easier to weed, plant or move. You'll still need a fork for lifting out embedded roots, bits of rubble and the likes and you'll still need a spade for shifting earth and digging deep planting holes but when it comes to breaking up soil or turning the earth, it really don't think it can be beaten. I recently wanted to make a patio and gravel garden under our kitchen window and thanks to the claw the whole job was completed in one afternoon. You're probably thinking I must be a strong, energetic Charlie Dimmock type for managing that but I'm afraid that's way off the truth. I have a condition that leaves me bed bound on a bad day and, if I'm lucky, capable of walking about 100 yards on a good day, before I need a rest. Given that when I'm working in the garden I probably spend more time taking a break than actually doing anything physical, getting the patio area cleared, evened and graveled in one afternoon was something of a feat. Add to the equation that our soil consists mainly of clay and builder's rubble and it's not far off a miracle. I've been gardening for a long time and in lots of gardens so I have enough experience to be able to say for certain that I wouldn't have finished the job anywhere near as quickly without the claw. A spade wouldn't have penetrated the heavily compacted, weed ridden surface and even if it had, the pieces of brick and cement would've made digging difficult. A fork would've been easier but the heavy, damp clay would still have been difficult to work; the grass and weeds would still have taken a lot of pulling away from the clods. The claw works in a way that's almost like ploughing. You push the prongs into the soil (you don't need to go deep so this is easy) and then simply twist. As the handle's a T shape, the twisting action is no more difficult than turning the handlebars on a bicycle. One twist is usually sufficient on good soil that just needs some aerating, three or four twists in each spot if you're loosening an area like mine. Each twist works the tool deeper into the soil with the final result being soil that's loose enough for the vegetation to be easily picked out. Once the area was cleared I needed to mix plenty of compost, manure, grit and bonemeal into the soil where plants were to go. The faithful claw came in handy here too. First I removed about six inches of the loosened soil with my shovel, tipped the humus and other goodies into the trenches, then used the twisting action like a mixer, blending the ingredients together with the underlying clay to make a more free-draining, nutritious base that the plants would thrive in. You can easily adjust how deep you want to go so the claw's also useful for loosening up the surface of beds and borders without disturbing any underlying bulbs or damaging delicate roots. Breaking up soil is necessary for efficient watering, it allows rain to penetrate the soil and loose crumbs are vital for seeds in need of a good start. There's also a small, hand held version available that's designed for removing individual weeds and breaking up the surface between established plants. Personally, I'd imagine that a hand held fork or trowel would work equally as well but we don't have one but a friend and fellow gardener assures me that it's very handy. I'm sure she knows better than me. The claw's also useful if you have a lawn as the tines (prongs) can be used to aerate it. As our est ate's having a gardening competition next year, I've decided that the scruffy lawn at the front of the house has to go so our Garden Claw will be put through its paces once again. I'm even looking forward to it! For me, the Garden Claw's invaluable. I know I wouldn't be able to do anywhere near as much in the garden without it and unless you particularly enjoy doing things the hard way, I'd highly recommend it. ~~~+~~~+~~~

                  Comments

                  Login or register to add comments
                  • More +
                    14.11.2003 02:23
                    Very helpful
                    (Rating)
                    7 Comments

                    Advantages

                    Disadvantages

                    This opinion has been written as part of Malu’s challenge. Why not join in the fun? Just copy the questions and add your own answers. ~ What is your favourite genre? To be honest, I find the thought of a favourite genre rather scary. There may well be a genre that I read more than others but if that’s so, and even I don’t knew whether it is, it’s purely coincidental. I’d worry that if I started to pidgeon hole myself by saying that I favour this or that (or even a bit of the other), I’d subconsciously starve myself of lots of great books. I’m a book-a-holic who would read a book about anything and by anybody rather than read nothing at all. And anyway, if it wasn’t for reading books I didn’t think I’d enjoy, I’d never have read half the books I love. ~ Do you read the classics, the great authors of the 18th and 19th century? Who are the great authors? Dickens, Hardy, The Bronte Sisters? Surely an author’s greatness is subjective? I didn’t go to school much from the age of 13 onwards so was never forced to read the classics and consequently never really gave them much thought until well into adulthood. I did read ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ when I was quite young though and when Kate Bush hit the charts with ‘Wuthering Heights’ I tried reading Emily’s book but confess to not getting far. I’m currently reading ‘Pride & Prejudice’ by Jane Austen. Whether or not she’s a great author I really couldn’t say until I’ve finished the book but it’s a classic (it says so on the cover - ‘Penguin Popular Classics’) so I guess the answer’s yes. ~ Are you interested in thrillers? What’s meant by interested? Do I have a special interest that reaches beyond simply reading them? No, not at all. I do read them though; is that interest en ough? I read a lot of Desmond Bagley during the 80s and, if they count as thrillers (I’m never sure of where one genre ends and another begins), I got through a few of Peter Robinson’s ‘Inspector Banks’ series whilst laid up in hospital recently and finished Patricia Cornwell’s rather disappointing debut ‘Post Mortem’ just a few weeks ago. ~ What about horror stories? They’re scary and they make things go bump in the night. Seriously, a good horror can take some beating but unfortunately, there’s a lot of dodgy stuff out there. I love old Victorian ghost stories but what really amazes me with horror is how the authors come up with the ideas in the first place. I mean, there are some pretty weird ideas behind the likes of Stephen King and James Herbert. Incidentally, ‘Others’, by James Herbert, was the last horror I read and it was excellent! ~ Do you read Science Fiction? No, not as a rule. Not because I don’t want to but because I rarely come across anything that tickles my fancy. I read George Orwell’s ‘1984’ back in the 70s although only because everybody seemed to be reading it at the time, but on the whole my knowledge of science fiction is pretty scant. ~ How many Harry Potter books have you read? None, and for the time being, that’s the way I intend it to stay. The same goes for ‘Lord of The Rings’ and everything Terry Pratchett’s ever written. One day I might get the urge, I learned a long time ago never to say never, but I can’t see it happening in the foreseeable future. ~ Have you ever read and enjoyed biographies or autobiographies? Absolutely. I’m always curious about other people’s lives; it’s a substantial part of what being a woman’s about, isn’t it? I’m not even particularly fussy about who’s sou l's being bared either. Rich and famous or just ordinary old Jack On The Street, people’s lives are always interesting. Actually, I’m not quite as nosy as that sounds. I’m not particularly interested in people’s dirty washing unless it’s of some relevance to a major life-changing event, but dirty secrets just for the sake of them, no thanks. And although books that cram in every aspect of a person’s life are all well and good, some even very good, I tend to prefer those that, although not (auto)biographies in the strictest sense, deal with a certain aspect of a person’s life, such as their career, as in Paul Britton’s ‘The Jigsaw Man’, or the fulfilment of a dream, as in Chris Stewart’s ‘Driving Over Lemons’. ~ Do you remember any of the books you read and loved as a child? Definitely! Doesn’t everybody? I mean, marvellous authors such as Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton and wonderful stores like ‘Black Beauty’, ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’ and ‘The Railway Children’ are surely all once read, never forgotten? I wonder how many remember the first book they ever read? I certainly don’t, although it was probably a ladybird book about Jill & John or something similar. ~ Have you reread these books as a grown-up? I’ve often wanted to but I’m not sure they’re meant to be read by the analytical minds of grown-ups, with the possible exception of ‘Gulliver’s Travels’. They’re perfectly happy to live on as memories and why change something that’s fine the way it is? ~ Is there a book of which you can say it has influenced you? Oh yeah, for sure! Books are more than just fiction aren’t they? Surely everybody’s been influenced by factual books at some time or another? After all, lots of them are de liberately written to influence us (just think of all those make-over books). ~ Which are you favourite authors? I generally steer clear of anything that expects me to name a favourite because I find them so difficult to answer. Favourites change depending on moods, don’t they? One day it could be a toss up between Bill Bryson and P.G. Wodehouse, the second day it may well be Anne Holt or Agatha Christie and the third may find me longing to read some Graham Masterson or Dean Koontz and so it would continue. In a world full of talented writers, how can anybody possibly choose just one favourite? ~ Which book would you take with you on a desert island? May Grete Lerum’s ‘Livets Døtre’ (Life’s Daughters). Apologies to those who’ve never heard of it, let alone read it, but there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind. It’d keep me entertained for a while as it’s in 55 instalments, all of which can be read as stand alones but far better when read from beginning to end as it’s a saga following a fictional Norwegian family from the early 18th century through to the present day. Lerum is, in my opinion, nothing short of genius for the way she portrays her strong female characters and their lives; women who I’d no doubt find inspirational if stuck on a desert island on my tod. I’d probably end up talking to them but that’s besides the point. ~ What is your attitude towards translations? I don’t really have an attitude as such although I’m sure the world would be a poorer place without them. Sure, some of the original ‘feel’ can be lost in translation but I’d rather lose a little than the whole thing. ~ Do you buy, borrow or steal your books? Judging by the amount of overdue fines we pay in this household, I sometimes think we’re solely responsible for keeping our local lib rary in new stock. We do buy lots of books too, car boot sales are a great source of cheap books, but we have a huge storage problem so far too many end up in the loft. Small houses should be illegal! ~ Do you prefer hardcover editions or pocket books? I don’t really have a clear preference. Hardbacks look better on a shelf and will probably still be around long after paperbacks have been sent for recycling but paperbacks are more comfortable to read and fit nicely into my handbag. I’m really not fussy, just as long as what’s written between the covers is worth reading. ~ Have you ever tried Audio Books? No. My son has them because he can’t read but they don’t appeal to me. They’re certainly a valuable alternative to the written word though. ~~+~~+~~

                    Comments

                    Login or register to add comments
                    • Hints and Tips in General / Discussion / 0 Readings / 14 Ratings
                      More +
                      11.11.2003 22:36
                      Very helpful
                      (Rating)
                      9 Comments

                      Advantages

                      Disadvantages

                      Hasn’t it been a fabulous autumn? In my 43 years on this planet I can’t remember ever experiencing such a wonderful display either in terms of colour or duration. The fiery blaze of brilliant oranges and reds combined with bright butter yellow and dark evergreens has appeared even more vibrant when lit by the warm, soft rays of a low sun against a backdrop of azure blue sky. Absolutely breathtaking! Oh, how I love autumn! Enjoy it while you can though, because it can’t, and shouldn’t, last much longer. Plants need a dormant period of rest and before you know it, the colour will be gone and our gardens, along with the countryside, will be left looking rather gloomy and colourless. The garden doesn’t have to be dull and uninteresting in winter though. Obviously, you can’t expect to enjoy the amount of colour and variety that summer offers but by planting a few carefully chosen plants you can certainly make the garden a brighter place to be. Shrubs are the most important contributor to the winter garden as they not only offer colour but provide structure for added interest. Berrying shrubs are undoubtedly the most colourful and our own native Holly (Ilex aquifolium) is probably the most common. Carrying glossy green, spiny leaves that are attractive in themselves, the bright red berries bring colour into dull corners of the garden as they’ll happy grow in shady areas. They’re not fussy about the type of soil they’re planted in either so just about any garden can have one, although you have to remember that left to their own devices, they’ll grow to about 20 foot (6 metres) and to keep them low, regular pruning’s needed. It’s also important to remember that only the female bears fruit so to ensure a decent crop of berries you’ll need to plant both a male and female unless youR 17;re certain that there’s already a male growing in a neighbouring garden. An easy shrub that’s well worth planting if you have the room. My personal favourite amongst the berrying shrubs is the gobsmackingly stunning Pyracantha (Fire Thorn). These are best planted against a high wall or fence where they’ll easily cover a 10’ x 10’ space within a few years, but are also useful planted to scramble through an otherwise dull hedge. These evergreens are heavy croppers of fat, bright red, orange or yellow berries, depending on the variety, that are held in long clusters. Birds love them and will do their best to strip your plant but does that matter? Birds bring extra colour and interest to the garden anyway. Being a thorny climber, a dense Pyracantha against a garden wall will also serve to keep out unwelcome guests and as long as you give them some sunshine (they won’t produce such a good crop in shade, although they will grow) and reasonably well drained soil (no heavy clay, thanks), they’ll happily grow away for many tens of years. The Cotoneaster group also offers a berrying plant for just about every situation from ground covering shrubs no more than a foot high to whopping bushes at 10 feet and even a climber. Not as spectacular as the Pyracantha, but as you won’t need two plants to ensure a crop of berries, possibly a better alternative than Holly. Now that we’ve looked at the large berrying shrubs, I’d like to mention one of smaller types that are useful closer to the house or in tubs on the patio. Pernettya is it’s name. This is another evergreen that carries juicy, fat berries in a choice of deep pink, pale pink or white from early autumn through to about January, depending on the weather. Neat and compact, they won’t grow to more than about 12 inches (30 cm) although like ho lly, they need a male close by to guarantee berries. I do believe there’s a hermaphrodite form available although I’ve neither tried or seen it so couldn’t really comment. Anyway, you’ll find the female forms going reasonably cheap at garden centres during autumn (I paid £2.99 for each of mine) so you can easily use them in a pot the first winter and then plant them out, sit back and see what happens next year. Either they berry or they don’t. Whatever happens, they’ll have been worth the display during the first year. If you have young children, it’s important to not plant berrying shrubs close to where they generally play to keep the temptation of eating them to a minimum. I’m not sure that it’s necessary to avoid them altogether though as it’s very rare that children come to any serious harm through plants growing in the garden (and there are plenty of poisonous ones about). I’d certainly tell them not to eat them but of course, if you want to be absolutely certain, don’t plant them as most will make them vomit at the very least. Yews, especially, are very poisonous. One of the best non-berrying shrubs for winter colour is the Siberian Dogwood (Cornus alba ‘Sibiriea Varieata’). It’s important to buy the variegated type unless you want a plant that leaves very little to be desired during summer. At least that way you’ll have some year round interest although it’s definitely during winter that this plant really becomes valuable. The naked stems are covered in stunning, bright red bark that really brighten up the garden. They’ll grow happily in just about any soil, harsh winters won’t hurt them (we had them in Norway and they were always happy) but they do prefer a spot in full sun to bring out the best colour. These shrubs can reach about 10 feet (3 metres) but by pruning them right back to almost ground level each spring, you’ll not only keep them at a more manageable height (about 4 feet) but will enjoy the freshest, brightest red stems. Evergreens and conifers are also useful in the winter garden. Of the evergreens, Box (Buxus sempervirens) is one of my favourites for it’s compact growth, not to mention the fact that you can let your artistic streak go to town on creating topiary. Spotted Laurel (Aucuba japonica) is another good one that’s very easy to grow. Plant it anywhere from sun to shade, dry soil to heavy clay and watch it thrive. Its leaves are dark green with spots and streaks of butter yellow so great for brightening up a dull corner. Ivy looks lovely covering an old wall or growing through a tree and although it can easily get out of hand, if you’re willing to spend a few hours cutting it back each spring, it shouldn’t be a problem (except in The Operator’s case, where it grew in through the airbrick and poked out through the skirting board - very attractive, I’m sure!). Conifers, although out of vogue at the moment, come in all shapes and shades of green from tall columns of blue grey to squat bushes of lime green that appear almost luminous on a dull, winter day. Shrubs aren’t all you can use though. There are a good few flowering plants that can really bring colour into the garden as this time of the year. Winter flowering Pansies and Violas are probably the best known. Pansies are the bigger of the two and come in all sorts of colour combinations, usually with a darker central area and brighter towards the edges, sometimes frilled. They’re available in just about any colour you can imagine and have 5 petals with happy little faces and whisker type markings. Being bigger than Violas, they’re more prone to drooping during wet or very frosty weather and for this reason I prefer their smaller cousins. Not only do Violas withstand bad weather better, they’re generally more floriferous, and many have the added bonus of scent! We have some pretty orange ones in a basket on the patio table that smell of honey and a tub of lilac ones that remind me of parma violets (anybody remember those sweets?). Planted en masse in large pots or any other container available (just remember that they MUST have drain holes), these will really brighten up any sunny or semi shaded spot. They also look lovely planted between shrubs and in mixed planted pots with dwarf conifers and tiny evergreens. Polyanthus, of which the humble Primrose is the best known variety, are also charming little plants for the winter patio. They’re naturally spring flowering but clever nurserymen have learned to force them to flower in autumn where they’ll continue well into winter. Their broad leaves form a neat rosette out of which grow a clump of flowers that are available in a vast array of colours from pale yellow through bright red, shocking pink, purple and deep blue, all with a yellow eye to the centre. The scent is beautiful too. Just make sure you buy them in flower otherwise the chances are they won’t give you any colour until spring. Again, use in pots either alone or in mixed plantings or plant them between shrubs in sunny spots. Ornamental cabbage is one of those ‘love it or hate it’ plants. I think they’re lovely, simply because they’re unusual and give me that much desired winter colour. They can be bought in garden centres in autumn, looking pretty much like an ordinary cabbage except for the heart which will be either white, cream or pink. Various types are available, some bigger than others, but all are easy to propagate at home from seed during summer. One o f the best features of this plant is that the colder it gets, the brighter the colour becomes. It isn’t really until after the first frost that you get the true colour coming through. Obviously, those that you buy have been treated to a false frost and therefore ready coloured but it’s far more fun watching your home sown plants change colour. Happy in pots or in beds, happiest in full sun. Evergreen grasses are also useful, both in mixed planted pots or as specimens in the border or around the patio edge. The blue grey Festuca Glauca is a lovely grass that makes low mounds (approx. 15” x 10”), as is the larger Bronze Sedge. I could go on, but I think I’ve covered the most important plants for winter colour now. If you think your garden could benefit from some extra colour and structure during winter, pop down to your local centre and see what you can find because luckily, winter is the best time for planting shrubs. It gives them time to rest and get used to their new home before having to find the energy to put on lots of new growth and develop the flowers that will eventually make the seeds necessary to ensure the survival of the species. And remember, berries in the garden are synonymous with birds in the garden (unless you have lots of cats prowling) and birds are both colourful and lively. Nice dense bushes of berrying shrubs also offer them places to nest in spring so your shrubs can be useful for more than just admiring from the kitchen window or patio. Happy gardening! Don’t stop just because winter’s almost here. ~~+~~+~~

                      Comments

                      Login or register to add comments
                      • washerhelp.com / Internet Site / 0 Readings / 38 Ratings
                        More +
                        27.01.2003 18:02
                        Very helpful
                        (Rating)
                        16 Comments

                        Advantages

                        Disadvantages

                        One of my chores as a kid was helping my mum lug the weekly wash round to the launderette. A huge black plastic sack of dirty washing, enough to fill several of those whopping great machines that, as a child, seemed big enough to swallow me up. That wasn't the worse part though. Mum didn't have much money so using the dryers wasn't an option and the whole lot had to be lugged home again, wet. I'm telling you, that bag was heavy!! I can understand what older people mean when they say that we don't know we're born. These days, almost all of us have washing machines in our homes and can just pop on a wash whenever we feel the need. But all this modern day equipment isn't without it's problems. With so many choices available, how do we know which machine to buy, the best detergent to use, and what to do if our beloved washer goes wrong? This is where washerhelp.com comes in very handy. Andy_(Art)_Trigg, one of dooyoo's respected members (well I don't know about you but I respect him), with 25 years experience of washing machine repairs notched onto his bedpost, has created a website designed to help us with any questions we may have related to.... yes, you guessed it, washing machines. Whether you're just about to go out and buy a machine, need advice on how best to use it, or are experiencing problems with the one you have, there's plenty of advice to be had. Should you buy new or reconditioned? Are all washing machines the same size? Which machines are the most reliable? Where's the cheapest place to buy one? Is powder detergent better than liquid? Should you use Calgon tablets? What should you do if the door won't open or no water comes into the machine? The list of questions goes on and on, and although dealing with the household clothes wash isn't exactly rocket science, there's obviously far more to choosing and using a washing machine than "that one looks nic e" and "bung the clothes in and turn it on". The site design is easy on the eye without lots of graphic overload and navigation is as easy as it gets. A list of links to the various areas of the site is placed clearly on the opening screen along with Andy's contact information. Clicking on a link brings you straight to a list of questions related to the area of your choice. The answers are all on the same page so save page loading time, but are linked so that you're taken straight to the answer when clicking on a question. The text's large and legible, unlike the tiny fonts that some site designers choose to use, and everything's written in non-techy language that even I can understand, and believe me, anything with buttons and knobs (don't even go there - you know exactly what kind of knobs I'm talking about) usually has me running a mile suffering full blown incomprehension. To make things even easier, there's a search option too. Just put in your key words and up comes a list of links to areas that could contain the answer you're looking for. Each link gives a few lines of text to help you decide whether your answer is likely to be found there or not. One feature that I found both interesting and useful, is the forum. If you can't find the answer to you question elsewhere on the site, just pop along to the message boards and add your question to the ever-growing list. There are separate sections for "Hoover", "Hotpoint" and "Other Makes", already containing subjects like "Candy Eclypsa taking 24 hours to complete its cycle" and "Indesit: Replacing the door seal". In most cases, Andy appears to have answered questions within a few hours and, at times, within just a few minutes! How's that for efficiency? You'd be hard pressed to find this kind of free service elsewhere. I've seen the site grow from its infancy and can honestly say that I'm extremely impressed with the work and, probably more importantly, the knowledge that Andy's put into it. Anybody who owns or is considering buying a washing machine would undoubtedly find a visit worthwhile. And don't forget to bookmark it. You just never know when you'll be needing Andy and his virtual spanner. Now, if only my machine would stop eating the clothes and spewing suds all over the kitchen floor...... ~~+~~+~~

                        Comments

                        Login or register to add comments
                          More Comments
                        • Sawdust / Discussion / 1 Reading / 26 Ratings
                          More +
                          10.11.2002 03:58
                          Very helpful
                          (Rating)
                          13 Comments

                          Advantages

                          Disadvantages

                          Sawdust is little bits of wood. When a bloke (it’s usually a bloke) saws up wood, lots of little bits fall off in a pile of the floor and that’s sawdust. I’ve only ever used it as a carpet for our rat. It sucks up the pee really well, in much the same way as our landing carpet sucks up the dog pee when she’s too lazy to ask to go out. I’ve also heard of people using it as cat litter, but I don’t fancy trying it because I’m sure it’d get all over the kitchen floor and probably trodden into the landing carpet along with the dog stuff. Butcher’s used to have it on the floor of their shops to suck up the blood from the meat. I don’t know whether they still do because I haven’t seen a proper butcher’s shop for years. ~~+~~+~~

                          Comments

                          Login or register to add comments
                            More Comments
                          • Aiwa in general / Archive Electronic / 0 Readings / 28 Ratings
                            More +
                            13.09.2002 20:57
                            Very helpful
                            (Rating)
                            17 Comments

                            Advantages

                            Disadvantages

                            [Note: This opinion describes the AIWA CSD TD24 rather than Aiwa in General. Sorry, but it doesn’t have a category of its own and it's impossible to get new ones posted these days] ~~~~~~~~~ “I’d like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony – I’d like to hold it in my arms….”. Sorry. Radio 2 y’know. Eeek! I’ve turned into my mother! I can remember very clearly telling my mum that old fuddy-duddies were the only people who listened to Radio 2 and come what may, I would ALWAYS listen to Radio 1. But alas, Tony Blackburn, David Hamilton, Noel Edmonds, Rosko and all the other much loved presenters of the 70s have since moved on and Kenny Everett, who was very much involved in the development of Radio 1, has sadly departed for the great radio station in the sky. These days, the only reason we actually have Radio 1 programmed into our AIWA CSD TD24 is because my 13 year-old listens to it. For the most part, our radio’s tuned to Radio 2 or BBC Stoke. Am I sad? Our silver AIWA is used daily and has been with us since Christmas last year. Over the months, I’ve come to know it reasonably well. ~~ DESIGN ~~ This CD/radio/cassette player looks reasonably sleek and is quite compact with nicely rounded edges. The controls are all positioned in the central area of the front, with the exception of the cassette player controls that are positioned on the top, in front of the CD player. Ours is silver and I believe this is the only colour available. I’ve certainly never seen them in any other colour. The single cassette player is at the bottom and opens smoothly. No nasty jerks like you sometimes get on cheaper models. I do find it quite confusing that the cassette controls are on top of the set though, rather than directly above or below the actual cassette player. Also, as there’s a relatively large arrow sh aped button directly above the cassette player, this tends to give the impression that the tape will be played heading towards the right, whereas the opposite is actually true. Maybe it’s just me that’s easily confused, but I’m forever pressing ‘reverse’ when I want to ‘fast forward’ and vice versa. There are no knobs or buttons that stick out on the front; the controls are all nice and flat and very easy to press. The CD player is accessed by means of an opaque plastic lid that’s opened by depressing one corner. From past experience, I know that these lids can easily break or come loose, but after 9 months of regular use, ours is still in perfect order. Like the cassette player, this cover also opens smoothly. The display screen is clear and nicely sized for easy viewing. This screen will tell you which wavelength you’re tuned to, which track of a CD is playing, will aid station tuning and programming of listening order of CD tracks as well as which of the preset equaliser modes you’ve chosen. A handle lies neatly around the CD player cover. This feels comfortable in the hand although, as we don’t carry ours around much, I can’t tell you whether this is particularly durable or not. 4/5 (one point lost due to cassette controls being somewhat confusing) ~~ RADIO ~~ The tuner will accept MW 530 – 1,710 kHz through the built in antenna. There’s also a rod antenna attached to the back that will take in FM 87.5 – 108.0 MHz. The set will also take in LW 153 – 288 kHz, although this isn’t something we regularly use. Reception is good, although no better than on the other 3 models that can be found in our house (no, we’re not gadget freaks, the kids have their own and we have one in the bedroom). Tuning is easy via two oval buttons beneath the screen - one for up, one for down. During FM tuning, “stereo” will be displayed when you have reached premium reception. If, however, your FM station contains unwanted noise, pressing MONO will usually eliminate this. Tuning intervals for MW is 9 kHz; however, in some areas the frequency allocation is, evidently, 10 kHz. This model allows for this to be changed to suit your area. Up to 15 stations can be preset. I found this process to be quite complicated, and should you wish to delete a preset station, all of the following presets will jump one position forward, a function I’m not entirely happy with. The instructions do clearly explain how presetting is done, but because the method isn’t logical, at least not to me, I’ve needed to dig out the instructions every time I’ve wanted to preset a new station. I’m sure this could’ve been done better, but ok, it isn’t a function that’s used that often so not too annoying. Pressing any other function button will turn the radio off. 4/5 (one point lost because of illogical preset programming) ~~ Cassette Player ~~ This comprises a single cassette player without auto reverse. As I rarely listen to cassettes, I’ve never found the lack of auto reverse a problem, but I’m sure this is something that would put some people off of this model. This is the age of leisure; nobody wants to keep jumping up and down switching cassettes more than necessary. The controls, as mentioned earlier, are positioned on the top of the case. These buttons are somewhat harder to press than the front positioned function buttons. They also feel as though they’re more likely to break, but so far, ours are still intact. Although I don’t listen to cassettes often, this has been used quite a bit as I record a lot of music to listen to in the car. You just can’t set out on a long journey without something to bop to, can yo u? Recording's easy from both the CD player and the radio although there's no facility to preset recording from the radio. I've only had this facility on one other model and as it isn’t included on any of those we have at the moment, I doubt it's something you can expect. Tapes seem to run smoothly and so far we haven’t had any of ours “eaten”, although the motor doesn’t automatically stop at the end of fast-forwarding or rewinding. 2/5 (one point lost because of controls being placed away from the tape holder, one due to the lack of auto reverse, and one because the motor doesn’t automatically stop) ~~ CD Player ~~ As with most portable CD/radio/cassette players, this model holds only one CD. The CD player is very easy to use, although each button has several functions. This, I imagine, was done to keep the whole thing nice and compact. The on-screen display is a feature I particularly like with this model. This shows the track being played as well as the elapsed playing time. Tracks can easily be skipped with a quick press of a button. This also has a reverse function, meaning that you can quickly hop back to the beginning of a track, or the track before that one etc. The repeat function can be used for either a single track, or an entire CD. The single track function can be damned annoying when you have a teenager who insists on listening to one particular Nickelback track for 4 hours but I guess some people would find it handy. I’ve never wanted to use it, but its there should you need it. You can also programme the order of tracks to be played. This is also relatively simple to achieve, even for a technophobe like me. 5/5 (nothing to grouch about here) ~~ Miscellaneous ~~ Sound quality is good, or at least as good as can be expected on a portable p layer in this price class. It certainly isn’t tinny, the way some portables can be. The output is 2 x 2.5 w. That doesn’t sound much, but when my daughter turns it up full blast, believe me, it’s loud! Well, loud to a 42 year-old Radio 2 listener, anyway. Obviously, at full volume the clarity of sound is somewhat distorted - this isn’t an expensive sound system, after all. There’s a jack for headphones on the back of the unit that takes a stereo mini plug, but no microphone facility. A sleep function allows you to specify a time at which the unit will automatically turn itself off. Handy for those who like to fall asleep to music. This can be timed between 10 and 90 minutes in 10 minute steps. The 3-mode equaliser offers a choice of Rock, Pop and Jazz or no equalisation. This function has its own designated button, so switching between modes is easy. The AIWA CSD TD24 also has a t-bass system that, according to the user manual, enhances the realism of low frequency sound. The sound certainly does sound deeper and more “booming” when the button’s been pressed, so I guess it works. My teenager tells me that this function is an absolute must. Sadly, there’s no remote control. 5/5 (I almost knocked off a point for the lack of remote control, but decided against it as anybody requiring one probably wouldn’t buy this model anyway) ~~ Overall Impression ~~ All in all, I’m very satisfied with this model. Although there are some features that I feel could be improved, it’s generally well designed and does the job for which it’s intended. As I’ve said, ours has been used daily for 9 months and is still looking like new. The case doesn’t scratch or mark easily, all the buttons are still intact, as are both the cassette and CD compartment covers. At 41.5 cm x 18 cm x 23.5 cm, this is just a nice size to f it neatly on a bookshelf or small table. As the wires at the back don’t stick out too far, ours stands about 2 cms away from the wall. Its weighs 3.2 kilos so is light enough to be easily carried around. I’ve known so-called portables that’ve been so heavy I could barely lift them! Power is either through your mains outlet or 8 size C batteries. I’ve never used mine with batteries so, unfortunately, I’m unable to tell you how long you can expect them to last. I’ve generally found that portable CD/radio/cassette players tend to go through batteries very quickly though, and I doubt this one’s any different. However, the power consumption is 15 W so maybe that will give you a better idea of what to expect. My overall impression is that this model offers good value for money. It’s reliable, looks reasonably good, is easy to use, although the cassette player isn’t quite as good as I’d expect. 4/5 (It’s that darned cassette player, y’know) Right, I think I’ll nip off and do some taping now. We’re off to London tomorrow and quite honestly, Mr O’s musical taste is, well, let’s just say that I wouldn’t want to listen to his cassettes for 200 miles ;-) (Note: This was a present, and as I haven't been able to find a price on the net, £70 is an estimate. I'm sure I've seen it for about that price somewhere. Oh, and the drop down multiple choice boxes aren't working so please ignore anything in that area). ~~+~~+~~

                            Comments

                            Login or register to add comments
                              More Comments
                            • More +
                              11.09.2002 05:11
                              Very helpful
                              (Rating)
                              11 Comments

                              Advantages

                              Disadvantages

                              If there’s one thing I really don’t want to be, it’s a pongy person. We’ve all found ourselves stood beside them at some point in our lives, albeit not necessarily through choice. I’m sure most would agree that it isn’t a pleasant experience. The scary thing is that a lot of us, through no desire or our own, have probably been the pongy person at some time or another. As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve been one. There’ve been times when I’ve run out of deodorant and had a particularly stressful day resulting in clammy beads of sweat dripping beneath my blouse, building up their whiffing power so much that by the time I’ve arrived home and managed to lunge myself into the bathroom, even I’ve been repulsed at the dubious bouquet that’s hit me. There have even been times when I’ve spent a week or so in the midst of the forest, far away from running water and, although I’ve given the most obvious bits a quick once over with water from a spring or similar, I’ve taken pity on the poor people who were in the supermarket when I stopped off to stock up on supplies during the journey home. However, I don’t make a habit of ponging. It just isn’t nice and certainly isn’t a way to win friends. The trouble is, I’m one of those people whose sweat turns sour very quickly, so I need to be very careful or I end up stinking to high heaven before I’ve had a chance to turn around and spit three times. Now I know that a faint odour of natural sweat can be a turn on to some men and shouldn’t really be considered “smelly” but, there’s a fine line between natural sweat and sour sweat, and in my case, the transition can happen too damned quickly. I also sweat A LOT! Buckets of the stuff! This is where my beloved Sure comes in. For years I’d trawled the supermarket shelves in search of the perfect deodorant. Lord only knows how many I tried, but they were all either too sticky, stung like buggery, brought me out in nasty red spots, or simply did not do the job for which they were intended. Then one day, oh… about 15 years or so ago, a friend and I were getting ready for a night on the tiles. On noticing my facial contortions after performing the underarm spraying routine, she whipped out her can of Sure and, in the manner of true friendship, said “here, try that”. What she offered me was a sleek looking, white can of deodorant with a huge tick on the front, explaining that, although she had sensitive armpits, this one never gave her the old “ouch” syndrome. I dashed off to the bathroom and washed off my old deodorant, returned and sprayed. Sure enough, even though I’d just shaved my armpits, leaving them at their most sensitive, this one didn’t sting. But would it keep me sweet smelling? Well considering we were about to embark on a hip-shaking, foot-pounding, arm-swaying, dance-floor thrashing evening, I figured it’d be put to the ultimate test. Wonder of wonders - that night I was chatted up left, right and centre so any amount of ponging must’ve been minimal. Either that or the blokes were too drunk to care! Not to worry though, I could tell it was working; I’d have had some unsavoury whiffs of rancid body secretions following me about otherwise. Any odious scents on the dance floor that evening were definitely not coming from me! Sure has stayed faithfully by my side ever since. There have been times when lack of availability has forced me to use other products, although I do try to not let this happen too often. I’ve been through Mum, Dove, Avon, a deodorant crystal, various own brands and some strange foreign concoction bought at the market. A couple were probably as good as Sure, with Mum and the crystal topping that list, but old habits die hard and I ’ve always returned to my old dependable brand. Mind you, I have moved with the times and now use the 24-hour Ultra Dry Intensive Anti-Perspirant Spray Deodorant. Sure was first introduced in 1965, but didn’t become a household name until the early 70s, when the “Sure Tick” advertising campaign was introduced. Bodies beautiful sweated their way through the jungle and other blistering exotic locations, sporting very little more than a dry tick on their backs. The tick became a major trademark long before I’d ever heard of Nike! I doubt anybody with any sense, actually believed that spraying Sure on their back would prevent sweat from appearing whilst marching through the tropics in extreme temperatures but, the advertising campaign certainly got the message across, even though I was a late starter, not quite grasping the said message until the mid ‘80s, and even then at a push. Advertising aside, the point is that Sure does keep you reasonably dry. I don’t honestly expect any deodorant to clog up or inactivate my sweat glands to such an extreme that my armpits will remain bone dry all day, but I don’t get those awful huge, soggy patches on my clothes anymore. I don’t flinch when I spray it after shaving, I don’t come out in angry red spots and, most importantly, I don’t pong! Apart from having Botox injected into my armpits, Sure seems to be the best solution for me. I have heard some complaints though, especially about it leaving white marks on clothing. Fortunately, I haven’t had that problem at all. Why it should effect some people in that way and not others, I really couldn’t answer for certain, but obviously it must have something to do with chemical reactions so my guess is that it depends on what your sweat’s comprised of. Maybe there’s a difference depending on what type of diet you have or something. I’m just guessing here thou gh. I don’t want to call anybody else dishonest when they say that it leaves ugly white marks on their clothes, but at the same time, I want you to believe me when I say it doesn’t happen to me. Sure works for me, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it would work equally as well for you. I only ever use the aerosols, which, incidentally, are CFC free, but Sure’s also available in both a roll-on and a stick version, although I’m not in a position to tell you whether they work equally as well or not. The cans are slim with easy to remove caps. The spray nozzles are wide, comfortable to press and never seem to clog up or break before the can’s empty. Each can contains 250ml of deodorant and costs about £1.95. There are several fragrances available, all of which are discreet and won’t compete with your perfume. I tend to stick with Cool White as this seems to be the least intrusive of them and, although I want to smell clean, I prefer the natural smell of a person’s body to the smell of deodorant. To use it, you must first wash and dry your armpits. I know that seems obvious, but there are people out there who just spray it on over yesterday’s sweat, hoping that it’ll cover up the smell. Anyway, once nice and clean, hold the can about 6 inches away and spray. Couldn’t be easier! One drawback with this particular brand, although probably more important to some than others, is that Unilever, who manufacturer Sure, do use animals to test their products. I haven’t been able to find out whether or not this applies to this specific product, but I certainly can’t tell you that it isn’t tested on animals. I’m personally against the use of animals to test anything other than medicines, and even then I’m undecided, but until I can find an alternative, I’ll stick with this. One thing’s for sure though, if animal testing is consider ed necessary to develop new deodorants, then surely there are enough on the market already? It’s a sad thing indeed that animals should suffer for the sake of our vain needs. [Title courtesy of Barbieblonde] ~~+~~+~~

                              Comments

                              Login or register to add comments
                                More Comments
                              • More +
                                08.09.2002 19:15
                                Very helpful
                                (Rating)
                                16 Comments

                                Advantages

                                Disadvantages

                                How would you like a freezer that’s always so frozen over that getting anything in or out of it is a complete impossibility and a fridge that doesn’t get cold enough to keep your food fresh? No, don’t worry, this isn’t a description of my BEKO fridge/freezer, but the one it replaced. I moved house about a year ago and as my dear old chilling/freezing machine went on the blink at the very same time, it obviously didn’t approve. I suppose it felt that it hadn’t been given the care and attention it deserved during its journey in the back of a transit van. The poor thing did look rather bruised and battered when it emerged. From that day onwards, it refused to co-operate. Its lower quarters froze up and refused entry of any kind, hanging on to its drawers like a woman with a headache. Its upper half, however, seemed to want to draw everything and anything into the shelter of its warmth. As you can imagine, my beloved fridge/freezer had turned into the enemy. Fresh food was ruined at an alarming rate, and freezing anything for later use was an absolute impossibility. The situation was dire, but with no money with which to purchase a new one, I had no choice but to try my best to coax and cajole it into at least hanging on to my cooked ham and liver paté for at least a couple of days. Then one day the family found themselves queuing for the toilet. We were all suffering from a bout of the squirts. On hearing about the situation, Mr O, safe in his creep-in down in Kent, decided that enough was enough. He would come up the following weekend and we’d go out, armed with his credit card, and buy a new one. Whether or not we were suffering from food poisoning as a result of the old fridge/freezer is still up for debate, but Mr O was taking no chances. He wanted us strong and healthy. The big day arrived, and off we went in search of the perfect replacement. We knew we had to stick to a budg et of about £300 and I was determined to get as much fridge/freezer as possible for the money. The choice, after browsing various shops and inspecting many a model, fell on a BEKO CS 460 FF (sounds a bit like a foreign car number plate if you ask me). Our initial decision was based on the combination of price and capacity. For £299, this is a larger than average fridge/freezer. At 11.3 cubic feet, it’s certainly a good deal larger than any others in this price range that we looked at that day. We choose the white version, although for a few pounds extra, it’s also available in silver. I rather like silver kitchen appliances, but as this one appeared to be more a dark grey than silver, we decided to give it a miss. The design is quite sleek, with gently rounded doors and no screwed-on handles to come loose. There are gully type handles at the edges where the two doors meet. These are quite deep and very comfortable to grip, although they do tend to collect grime. However, the rounded edges make cleaning them easy. The doors can also be repositioned, depending on whether you want left or right opening; a very handy feature that wasn’t available on all of the competing models that we saw. The feet are also adjustable. The fridge has a storage capacity of 162 litres, divided by three wire shelves and one glass shelf. The middle wire shelf has a flap, allowing easy storage of tall bottles. Below the glass shelf there are two crisper bins, both of which have clear fronts. The space in the door is also well designed with three small storage shelves that can be positioned at various levels, an egg tray that holds 8 eggs (rather silly as you never buy 8 anyway), and two small covered storage shelves at the top. The milk shelf at the bottom has grippers to stop your bottles rattling around when the door’s opened. The light, placed on the ceiling of the fridge, is large and bright (15w) with an easily removable cover. The freezer has the usual 4 star rating and with its 4 drawer, 96-litre capacity was definitely the biggest we found in our price range. Even most of the more expensive models only had 3 sections. The top section is a fast freeze section and has a pull down cover on the front. Unfortunately, this cover didn’t withstand being used by my son, who can be rather heavy-handed, and snapped off within weeks of our purchase. I can’t say I’ve noticed any difference in its performance without the cover though, but I do think it could’ve been better designed as the hinges were rather flimsy. The three compartments below this are for freezing and storage and are designed as wire baskets with clear fronts. Being able to see at a glance what’s at the front of each drawer is very handy and, although they do mist up with the cold, the misting is so insignificant that it doesn’t impair visibility to any real degree. One of the features I really appreciate with the BEKO CS 460 FF is the ice bank. At the very top of the freezer section, there’s a narrow pull-out tray. This holds an ice tray for making your cubes. The finished cubes are then stored on the pull-out tray meaning you can have lots ready for those hot days when the kids are continuously asking for cold drinks. Handy for parties too! You do have to be careful with it though; if you pull it out too far, the tray tilts and you end up with ice cubes all over the kitchen floor. Yes, of course it’s happened to me, how else would I know? The only drawback with this model is its energy efficiency. Whereas most fridge/freezers are rated B, this is rated C meaning that it’s slightly less efficient than most. The estimated energy consumption per year, based on standard test results over a 24 hour period, is 493 kilowatts. This may vary depending on where the appliance is located and how often the doors are opened. After being used to the racket that my old fridge/freezer made, this one seems positively silent. Of course, it isn’t silent, all fridge/freezers will make some noise, but it certainly isn’t intrusive. After 6 months of use I’m extremely pleased with this model and if I had to go back and choose again, I’d still buy this one. It has everything you need in a fridge/freezer, is well designed and, although the front flap of the fast freeze compartment broke, seems generally well made. BEKO, evidently, are quite up and coming these days. They make everything from freezers to wide-screen TVs and have their manufacturing plant in Turkey. Now, enough waffle, let’s go and get that joint out of the fridge and get on with Sunday lunch before the good Mr O starts wondering why he bothered to buy it. ~~+~~+~~

                                Comments

                                Login or register to add comments
                                  More Comments
                                • More +
                                  29.08.2002 09:47
                                  Very helpful
                                  (Rating)
                                  13 Comments

                                  Advantages

                                  Disadvantages

                                  Beer and chocolate? These two things don’t really go together, do they? Beer and crisps, yes, but surely not chocolate? Hmmm. Very odd. The first time I ever heard of this strange concoction was here on dooyoo, over a year ago. Some chap had written and op about it and I can distinctly remember thinking that it sounded thoroughly revolting. Little did I know that I’d one day be sharing a bottle of it with the author of that original op. Funnily enough, my comment on that op was one of the very first encounters I had with the man who now shares my bed, the washing-up and my PC (damn his Mac not working), as well as the odd bottle of beer. I was sitting on the sofa, happily sewing curtains when he offered me a glass of choccie beer. I don’t drink a lot of beer, just the odd glass now and then, but being a bit pre-menstrual, the word “chocolate” was enough to invoke an immediate positive response. Yes, yes, bring on the chocolate! Obviously, being only a very occasional beer drinker, I can’t give you an opinion from a connoisseur’s point of view, but I know what I like and what I don’t and this one isn’t going to have me rushing off to the local off-license in a desperate quest for more. Of course, if you’re already a devout stout lover (no, I don’t mean a tubby person who’s good in the sack - I’m talking about somebody who likes to drink thick, dark brown beer), you may well see this stuff in a completely different light to me. I’ve never been a great lover of stout, y’see, and Young’s, even though they make this sound oh-so enticing with the words “double chocolate”, have done very little to change my mind. Quite honestly, whilst downing this stuff, I couldn’t help feeling I’d been conned. All I could think was “where’s the damned chocolate?”. Ok, so it’s the right colour and th e cream, caramel coloured head gives the impression that you’re about to experience something that’ll have your taste buds begging for more, but I’ll be buggered if I could taste the chocolate. BUT, and this is where it becomes interesting, about half an hour after finishing my glass, a distinct chocolately taste started to emerge. A sort of belated after taste. A bitter chocolate taste, rather like cooking chocolate. Unfortunately, it also left my mouth feeling very dry. Actually, when I say it’s the right colour, I’m not being entirely accurate. According to the people at The Ram Brewery, who are responsible for this strange combination of malt, barley, hops and chocolate, it’s ruby coloured. Maybe if you hold it up to the light you’d see a reddish sort of tinge to it, but both on the table and in my hand, which is where you’d normally see a glass of beer, it looked dark brown. Personally, I think chocolate beer should be brown rather than ruby anyway. If I bought a bar of ruby coloured chocolate, I’d expect it to be strawberry or cherry flavoured chocolate, not beer flavoured or even just plain old chocolate flavoured. No, chocolate beer should be brown, and if I’d noticed that ruby colour, it may well have put me off. Another interesting point is that whilst the beer has nothing more than a mild aroma of chocolate, the empty glass positively oozes chocolate. I kept sniffing at my empty glass for ages and wanted more. A very strange effect indeed. Not being particularly knowledgeable on the beer front, I had no idea who Young’s were or that they were based in London. Oh lord, my dad would be ashamed of me! I’m so lucky to have the good Mr O, who really does know his beers, to give me all the relevant information I’d need. Did you know, for example, that in Central London, Young’s still deliver by horse drawn dray? Or that the Ram Brewery is the oldest site in Britain on which beer has been brewed continuously? It’s true, they’ve been doing it since Elizabethan times, way back in 1581. They’re a bit crafty though. The label’s purple and gold and immediately made me think of Milk Tray. Well, to be honest, I first thought of Dairy Milk, but they don’t have purple wrappers do they? Whatever way, there’s definitely a connection made when you see the label. I’m certain they’ve devised this stuff purely for the sake of capturing the female “that time of the month” market. Anyway, now that you know not to expect too much of a chocolate sensation from this, I’ll tell you that it is actually quite drinkable. Not great, I wouldn’t go out of my way to get it, but if somebody’s offering then, yeah, sure, I’ll share a bottle. Mind you, according to the bottle, this “double dose of pleasure” could earn me a reputation, so, considering it has 5.2% alcohol content, I guess I’d better be careful who I share it with. ~~+~~+~~

                                  Comments

                                  Login or register to add comments
                                    More Comments
                                  1 2 3 4 5 6 ... 9