- Premium reviews
- Express reviews
- Reviews rated
- Ratings received
I first found a love for greyhounds when I visited my partner's cousin for the weekend and she had a 7 year old greyhound called Harry. I had never really thought of greyhounds as a pet at this point and I had thought of them as a ugly dog due to the teeth baring muzzled dogs you see in the racing pages of the paper. How wrong was I.... after meeting Harry my love affair with the greyhound began!
A year after meeting Harry the greyhound I moved in with my partner, before this I lived in rented accommodation and was therefore unable to keep any animals, it didn't take long till my quest to convince my partner that a greyhound was what we need to complete the family home.
Around a month later we were on a day out when we saw a stand for greyhounds, much to my surprise my partner pointed it out to me. The stand was organised by one of our local retired greyhound trust centres, Monmore Green, and the man gave me some leaflets and answered some questions that I had about greyhounds and their needs. Well this convinced me that I didn't just want but needed a greyhound! My partner however was still not 100% sure due to the responsibility, but agreed that maybe we could go to the Monmore Green just to have a look at some point.
I wasn't going to give up that easily, therefore I was the perfect girlfriend for the next few days and on our next day off together I managed to convince my partner that we should go and visit the greyhounds, my work had paid off and my partner readily agreed and his mum came along with us. Before we left my partner stressed that we were just going to have a look, not to get one! (damn!)
We arrived at the centre, which was surrounded by farmland and asked one of the volunteers if we could look around, they readily agreed and arranged a member of staff to come and answer any questions we had. I knew what type of greyhound I was looking for! I wanted a female greyhound as they are usually quite a bit smaller than the males, I also knew I wanted a 'black beauty' as the trust finds black greyhounds are the most difficult to re-home as people favour the brindle and other greyhound colours.
We wandered through the building and a few kennels in I fell in love, I didn't need to see any of the others, a little lady walked to the edge of her kennel and wagged her tail at us as we walked past, her name was Flo-Jo, her racing name was Fabulous Hostess, she was indeed a black beauty with a pretty face, white socks and a white chest. They say that you don't choose the dog, they choose you and I believe Flo-Jo chose us as she took a instant like to us, where we have later discovered Flo-Jo can be quite nervous of strangers. We asked some questions about her and found out she was only a young greyhound at 20months old.
My partner made me look at the other dogs, however I knew Flo-Jo was the one for me! We did take some interest in another dog called Delta, but after taking each dog out for a walk we all agreed that Flo-Jo seemed much more comfortable and interested in us. My partner caved in!!
Flo-Jo was so friendly and loving that my partner couldn't help it, he didn't want to lose out on having her and decided that yes we did indeed need a Greyhound!
We organised for a home check and a week later Flo-Jo was ours! We did have some initial teething problems with separations anxiety for around 2 weeks but since that our life has improved from having Flo-Jo in it. Greyhounds are the most amazing and loyal dogs, they are fantastic with children, patient and well behaved. I would never go back to having any ordinary dog again!
I'll tell you the information that I have learnt about greyhounds requirements since we have had Flo and please feel free to add comments or ask for any information I have missed out.
Where to get a greyhound
We got Flo-Jo from Monmore Green which is one of 70 branches of the Retired Greyhound Trust (http://rgtwolverhampton.co.uk) The trust was very helpful in assisting us with our choice and answering any questions that we had. Upon re-homing a Greyhound you are required to have a home check, but the Greyhound Trust are flexible with your circumstances and you don't even need to have a garden, the check is more to see that you are who you say you are. The Greyhounds are neutered and vaccinated as well as micro chipped and you also receive a coat, outdoor collar and lead and a weeks worth of food for your Greyhound. The trust request that you make a donation, I have noticed that many trusts request a minimum of £100 donation, however Monmore request a donation of whatever you can afford and when asked what was the usual amount they told us that most people donate between £50-£100. You also get sent home with a money box for your loose change, which you then return when its full to help keep the trust running.
We struggled to get this right at first as there are lots of misleading information on different websites and at the end of the day only you know what's best for your own dog as all the dogs are different. The most important thing to remember is never give your retired greyhound feed that is above 20% protein or they will be bouncing off the wall! We started Flo-Jo on Weetabix for breakfast with dry complete resting greyhound food for tea, bought through the trust as this is what she had when she was there. Flo was starving all the time and stealing any food left in sight! So back to the website's and we were informed on a forum to forget the cereal as its not got anything in that your dog needs. So just to the dry feed.... Flo's coat was very flaky and she was going to the toilet a lot! Visit to the local pet shop was in order, The owner seemed horrified that we used to give her cereal and explained that the food she was on was too high in residue hence the large bowel movements, she also told me that skin problems can be a sign that the dog is either unsettled or that the dog could have some intolerance to the food. The pet shop owner advised 2 brands of food, we had been in touch with Harry's owner and one of the brands that the pet shop recommended was the same as what Harry's owner suggested. So Burns it was. 2 weeks later, Flo's coat is shiny and bright and she is having less bowel movements, she also seems much happier and more playful. Success!!
Greyhounds are almost house trained from the moment you get them! Yay! As Greyhounds live in Kennels they don't like to toilet near their bed, hence they become used to waiting for someone to come and let them out. As long as you don't leave the greyhound for a long time they are unlikely to have a accident. If you are leaving them for a while I would suggest leaving paper in a designated area and we have found that Flo-Jo will aim for that. Remember they will have occasional accidents as Greyhounds have never been allowed to be a puppy and will have to learn from scratch from everything from toileting to learning how to play, so never shout at your greyhound, firmly say no and put them outside for a short time.
40mph couch potato. Greyhounds do NOT need lots of exercise! Yay! Greyhounds are used to short bursts of exercise not long walks, the do need a walk everyday, preferably 2 walks but not long walks as they initially struggle to walk far. Flo-Jo gets shattered on the 40minute roundtrip on the school run and plods for the last 10 minutes. However you can train your Greyhound to walk long distances and I know someone who walks their Greyhound for 5 miles, however they don't usually favour so much exercise. If you are walking your greyhound far remember to up their feed accordingly, also never allow your greyhound to run after a meal as this is fatal. Greyhounds do not have much fat on them and do struggle in extremes of temperature, the guide is if you need a coat your greyhound needs a coat. Also never leave them out for long periods in the sun as they may get heat stoke or sunburn.
I hope this information is helpful to all greyhound or potential greyhound owners. Once you meet a greyhound you can't help but fall in love with these gentle creatures, you will also find that people will ask you about your greyhound when you are out with her its surprising the amount of people that are fond of them. Most greyhound owners are happy to talk about their dogs and happy to promote Greyhounds as pets so always feel free to talk to a greyhound owner when they are out with their dog.
We were looking for a good value short break within the UK for 4 adults and 2 children, both aged 6, when we stumbled upon a deal with Legoland Windsor. We stayed in a luxury apartment for 3 nights, Tue - Fri, 1 day Legoland tickets including Q-bot for £495.00. This did however include a NHS discount and the regular price was around £550. I found this price very reasonable for a break in August for 6 people.
Anyway back to the park!
Legoland is based very close to Windsor and is within easy reach of the M4, M3 and M25, so it's a great location that is easy to get to. It is also close to ascot and about 10 miles from Bracknell which is much cheaper if you are looking for somewhere to stay.
As you arrive into the car park the first one you come to is priority parking, this parking is charged at £5 per car, but if you arrive before opening time of the park you should be able to get a reasonably close parking space for free.
As you approach the park there are ticket booths to purchase tickets and turnstiles for when you have bought your ticket or for you to swipe your e-tickets. The Lego team members are on hand to offer help here and we found them very helpful.
In August Legoland is open from 10am - 7pm, the hours are reduced at different times of the year. We arrived at 9:50 and the park was already open.
Our Legoland tickets were included in our holiday deal, however the standard price is £37 per adult and £28 per child/senior. There are often reduced price tickets through the website and in the summer you tend to be able to get 2 for 1 vouchers. I believe you may also be able to use Tesco club card deals vouchers for this attraction.
As you go through the turnstiles you arrive at the area named 'the beginning' very aptly named as you are at the beginning of the park. This area is where the Lego big shop is based, full of everything you could want to do with Lego!
You will also find toilets and lockers in this area. We found the toilets were well maintained which was great given the high level of visitors that day. The lockers were £1 and non-refundable, the lockers did go quickly in this area so I would recommend to head straight for them when you enter the park. If however these have all gone there are more lockers in Duplo land and at the Imagination centre.
The Q-bot centre is also based at 'the beginning', this turned out to be the longest queue we had to wait in all day but saved us hours of queuing later. Those that are wondering what I am going on about, a Q-bot is a virtual queuing system. The basic instructions are you select your ride using the key pad, it offers you a ride time and you confirm if you want to reserve your place in the queue for that particular time. Please bear in mind that you are unable to virtual queue for anything else at the same time. Therefore 2 of your party can not virtual queue for one ride while 2 others queue for another. The Q-bot costs £10 per person and up to 6 people can ride on 1 Q-bot. You are also required to leave your card details to enable them to charge a £50 refundable deposit.
Guest services is next to the q-bot station and while you are waiting in line it's a good idea to send a member of your party to obtain some lost parent stickers for your little monsters to wear, these are brightly coloured stickers and you can write your mobile contact number on in case your children lose you.
Legoland is set in 10 main areas. These are Adventure land, Duplo land, Lego city, Traffic, Mini land, Imagination centre, Kingdom of the pharaohs, Wildwoods, Knights Kingdom and Land of the Vikings. I'll tell you about all our favourite bits in each area. Unfortunately due to time restrictions (you really need 2 full days to do everything here!) we did not go to Adventure land, Knights kingdom or Wild woods.
Duplo land in my opinion is most suited for children age 7 and under. Duplo land houses the chopper squadron, which is a helicopter ride (similar to dumbo ride) this is quite a fun and daring ride for younger children. Fairytale brook is a gentle boat ride around a fairytale wood, here you see all the familiar characters made out of lego, such as Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel, this ride is shaded under trees so lovely to get out of the sun on a hot day.
Our favourite bit of Duplo land was the waterworks. This is a fountain play area for children, do take swimwear or a change of clothes as they will get very wet! This is ideal to cool the kids down on a hot day and gives you chance for a rest! Beware you will almost likely get wet too when you try and get your kids to leave this attraction, I tried to dodge the fountains and thought I had successfully done so but just as I got back to my partner a load of 'rain fall' came down from the tower and I was drenched!! Just along from the waterworks is play town, it is a play area but just that bit more special with play equipment and climbing frames that you would not find in ordinary parks.
Traffic was the area that our party favoured the most. The kids headed straight for the driving school, this is a driving track that has junctions, speed cameras and traffic lights. The children had to watch a safety video first explaining about driving rules, ie driving on left side of road, following the traffic lights and to stop at junctions. A photo is taken of your children on this ride and you can then purchase a driving licence for £5 which our children loved as its just like a grown up photo licence.
We then went on to the fire academy, you had to have a race to put of the house fire, warning don't let go of the pump to make the engine move until you have come to a standstill as I did and fell and hurt myself quite badly! The kids enjoyed this ride but for the adults its very high impact with all the pumping!
Then on to the balloon school this was hot air balloons attached to a big track and the children can pull a cord to make the balloon go higher or lower. This was a nice relaxing ride and gave us adults chance to recover after the hard work of the fire academy.
This land was amazing it had model scenes from London, Europe and USA made out of lego bricks, given chance I could have spent hours here as the models and detail were fantastic.
The show revenge of the Aztec queen is held here, we didn't see the show but apparently it is a stunt show where one of the characters falls off a building. Digger challenge is basically a digger and some balls and the kids have to dig the balls and try to collect the most. Easier said than done. Orient expedition is a nice little train ride that follows a track around the park, you also get to see the lego 'zoo' where all the animals are made from lego.
This is where the 4D theatre is based, We opted to watch Bob the Builder and it was amazing, we even had snow at the end of it (made of soap suds) and we got a little wet as spud spilt water on us! The skyrider was based outside the theatre and gave panoramic views of the park.
Land of the Vikings
This was the home to the Vikings river splash which was our favourite ride, we were grateful to have a Q-bot for this ride as the queue was 2 hours by the time we arrived at the ride. This was just the traditional rapids ride but we all had so much fun and our party ranged from age 6 to 68! Be warned you will get soaked on this ride!
Kingdom of the pharaohs
This is the home to the well advertised laser raiders the queue to this ride was very long and if you don't have a q-bot I would recommend heading here as soon as you enter the park or you wont get on this ride without a very long wait! In this ride you had to shoot mummies and skeletons with a laser gun to obtain points. My little boy who is usually scared of everything loved this ride but my partners usually brave niece hated it!
The thunder blazer was a swing ride which our niece found boring, much suited to younger children. The aero nomad is a smaller version of a big wheel and the desert chase is a slow carousel ride so again suitable for young children.
Eating and Drinking
Legoland have joined forces with Annabel Karmel and now offer healthier options on the menu, we however after reading some reviews of the food chose to take a picnic, therefore I am unable to give you any opinion on the food. We did however get ice cream and for the 6 of us it came to around £10, so about averagely priced for theme parks. Legoland also did a refillable drinks bottle for £4.99 which they can then take home after, in theory this is a good idea but the drinks on offer are only fizzy drinks, which as the average age of children at Legoland are of primary school age I was surprised that there was not a squash option, also these bottles were wasp magnets!
The restaurants on offer were a carvery, burger ranch, ribs, pizza, pasta and rotisserie. As well as the usual ice cream, donuts and sweets for sale.
Not something I required on this occasion but when my son was little I always checked out the facilities before visiting anywhere!
Every set of toilets had baby change facilities. Pit stop café and city walk restaurant have feeding stations with microwave and bottle warmers, there is also a baby care centre in Lego city which has a private area for feeding.
I hope I have managed to give you a insight of what Legoland is all about without boring you too much! As you can tell Legoland is a big place and I recommend that you plan ahead what you wish to go on before you arrive so that you ensure you make the most of your day. Legoland is also very tiring and if you have children who are just out of pushchairs it maybe worth hiring one for the day!
Cash machines are available on site and are located near the entrance. Designated smoking areas are dotted around throughout the park and are set away from the rides which is great
All in all we had a fantastic day and we really feel that Legoland is a magical theme park, the best we have been to in Britain and I highly recommend it.
While looking for places to go to in the school holidays I stumbled upon a advertisement for Shugborough estate and as it was only 25 minutes from where I live in Lichfield I decided to go, I was unsure if it would be to my 6 year old's taste as like most children he prefers tacky places! However I knew that my partner and I would enjoy it ! And in-fact we all loved it!
What is Shugborough?
Shugborough is a working historic estate based near Stafford. The estate is set out in 5 main areas, the walled garden, Park farm, Parkland monuments and gardens, servants quarters and Museum and the mansion house.
- Walled garden
The walled garden is half a mile from the mansion house, this is due to the gardeners being considered as 'unsightly' and to avoid restricting the view from the house. The walled garden was originally created in 1806 and supplied all the fruit and vegetables on the estate. You can buy some vegetables when you visit the walled garden for £1 a bunch! There are actors in this area who will answer any questions you have about how they performed their job and the tools they would have used. The garden was impressive and my Son was amazed by the 6 foot sun flowers!
Along from the walled garden is the bothies, the bothies provided living accommodation for young unmarried gardeners. These are now used as craft shops, the craft shops are independent but will happily tell you about the craft they do, ie candle making and wood work. My son had a go at candle dipping and rolling for a small nominal charge.
- This is the bit my son enjoyed the most , you first go through the farm house and learn about how food was stored and how the house would have been. The farm bailiff used to live in this house and it is a very grand house for someone of that status. This was made more enjoyable for my son as the farm had a bear hunt on and my son enjoyed dashing from room to room looking for the hidden bears. The staff were very good and stayed in their roles through out even when I told my son that my mother had an 'old fashioned' weighing scale similar to the one in the kitchen, the bailiffs wife stated that they are not old fashioned but the latest invention for them! If you get the chance to, do taste some of the griddle cakes that they place for you to try in the kitchen they are amazing and melt in your mouth! There is a dairy attached to the house and the lady in their happily explained to my son how cheese was made - I was surprised how fascinated my son was! As its school holidays the farm had events on throughout the day and we decided to do the mask making, as few people joined in the staff passed myself and my partner a mask to decorate, to which we had fun pretending to be big kids and letting our imagination go wild with pots and glitter!!
Then on to the fun bit - feeding the animals with the purchased on site feed, my son enjoyed feeding the goats, although beware there are a few wandering around and will follow you!!
Parkland monuments and gardens.
The parkland is stunning and you could have a lovely walk over the estate... however as time was against us on this occasion we didn't take advantage of this. We will be going again though as you can view the out buildings and parkland for just the parking fee of £3 and take your dog with you if you have one.
Servants quarters and museum
This was interesting as it had things that would not of originally been at the park but that were typical of the age, the museum staff gave my son a quiz to fill in as he went around and this was invaluable to keep him interested, He was particularly interested in the medical instruments! The laundry was very interesting and again the staff made it great for my son with demonstrations of the hot rods and irons!
The Mansion House
- The mansion house is absolutely stunning, we bought a children's guide book on our entrance to the estate which became invaluable once we got to the house. The guide book explained about the house in the way a child would understand and had tasks and questions for my son to find the answers to. As a adult viewing the house, it is absolutely beautiful and the furniture and wares were amazing. My partner did not think he would be that interested in the house being a typical man, but I think he was even more enthralled than I was!
As well as those areas I have listed there is a play ground by the farm park this has lots of things for the children to play on and even has a swing and roundabout for wheelchair bound children.
Eating and Drinking?
At the farm park there is a tea room, we had planned to eat in here until we found they only did pre-packed sandwiches, therefore we did a quick exit and made our way up to the Ladywalk tea room at the house. This is exactly what we were looking for! The tearoom serves hot food until 2:30 but then does freshly prepared sandwiches and jacket potatoes, cakes, homemade biscuits etc until 4pm.
The tea room was decorated lovely with flowers on each table and all the staff in old fashioned kitchen made outfits. The hot food looked lovely and there was plenty of choice, but we opted for a sandwich. There was a wide choice of sandwiches but both my partner and I chose the farm house cheddar and chutney baguettes, you could have it on wholemeal or white and a baguette or sandwich, the sandwiches I saw were large doorstep sandwiches!! There were a variety of drinks, soft drinks, ginger beer, beers, wines and hot drinks. My partner also had a chocolate refrigerator cake which didn't even touch the sides so must have been nice! For children there were hot meals with a free piece of fruit for afters or a packed lunch with a freshly made sandwich - a packet of walkers crisps, piece of fruit and a freddo bar.
There are also plenty of areas to picnic should you wish but I do highly recommend the tea room if you are not on a strict budget.
There is also a sweet shop - much to my partners pleasure with old fashioned sweets and also a icecream parlour which we did not partake in.
The best bits?
I found the whole place amazing but I think the was the best bit for children, however the staff really make this attraction what it is, they are fantastic in character and really bring the place to life, I have been to other attractions in the nearby area and this is twice as good as that was and I would recommend it to anyone old or young.
Adults £12, concession £9.50, child £7, under fives are free.
FAMILY (2 Adult & up to 3 children) £30
FAMILY (1 Adult & 1 child)£15
PARKING CHARGE £3.00 per vehicle, fully refunded on purchase of a ticket
is available for £3. Parking charges will apply
SENIOR DISCOUNT DAY ON MONDAYS
Seniors can get a full site ticket for just £5 on Mondays
How to get there?
"Shugborough lies just a few miles from the county town of Stafford and is well signed from Junction 13 of the M6. The main entrance is located at Milford Common on the A513 Stafford to Lichfield Road" Taken from the Shugborough website and not counted in the total word count.
Stafford - 15mins
Lichfield - 25mins
Stoke-on-Trent - 35mins
Wolverhampton - 40mins
Alton Towers - 40mins
Birmingham - 45mins
Derby - 45mins
Warwick - 1hr
Shrewsbury - 1hr
Chester - 1hr 15mins
Manchester - 1hr 20mins
Sheffield - 1hr 30mins
London - 2hrs 40mins
Taken from Shugborough website www.shugborough.org.uk not counted in word count.
Thank you for reading my review - I have tried to give as much information as possible if I have missed anything please don't hesitate to ask. You can get the bus to Shugborough as there are bus stops outside the main drive but I am unsure of the service details but if you put the details in www,travelline.org,uk you will be able to get the direct route.
I recently went to the snow dome for my sons birthday, we did not book the party package as you had to have a minimum of 10 children at a cost of £9.95, but as we were having 2 parties we did not have the correct numbers.
The first party we had was junior sledging. We were told to book as it was in the Easter holidays and would be busy. We booked a 4pm slot - and luckily our party were the only ones booked in and therefore had the whole slope to themselves, much to the children's delight.
The children sledged on a mid height slope with disco music and disco lights, there was a seating area at the bottom for the parents. The cost for half an hour was £5.50 per person but looking at the smiles on the children's face it was more than worth it.
The staff looked bored the whole time and I felt they could of interacted with the children better. The children get very wet so make sure you take plenty of dry clothes for after.
The second party we did was snow play. The children basically play in real snow, The can go down slopes, sledge, build snow men and most of all have lots of fun. This is also £5.50 per 30mins but 30 mins is more than enough as its freezing! But very good fun. Other family members can view the children from the starbucks cafe.
The cafes available are a starbucks which serves all the usual at the usual starbucks prices, or there is the aspens restaurant.
We chose to eat in the aspens restaurant - This was diabolical and let the snowdome down. Its £3.95 for a children's meal and its off a hot counter.
When we got to the counter there was nothing suitable for children, even though we were assured there would be. All that was on offer was curry, casserole or spicy pizza!
Eventually the chef managed to 'find' (his words) some chicken nuggets so the kids had chicken nuggets and chips - no beans etc for £4!! Puddings cost extra. We got a small jug of juice at £2 per jug.
The snowdome its self is brilliant - has a fun swimming pool, skiing, tubing, sledging, snow play, ice-skating. Everything you could want.
Its just the food outlet and staff that let it down.
Top Ten websites
After seeing a few of these reviews I decided to compile my own top ten website list as follows:
I spend the majority of my life of face book! For those of you who have not heard of face book (where have you been??) It is a social networking site where you can find people you know and become their face book friend. You can also hear about local events and causes and what your friends are up to. You can see when your friends are online and start a conversation with them if you wish to. As I do not live near any of my old friends I find face book is a invaluable way of keeping in touch with them.
I expect Dooyoo is in most Dooyooers lists of top ten websites! I was introduced to Dooyoo through a friend and I found it really easy to navigate round, I feel there is a good community spirit and its much better than other review sites.
This site is fantastic, its basically deals that people have found online or in shops that they are happy to share with others. Perfect for bargain hunters like myself. There are also a lot of freebies on this site that come in useful. It has helped me with my Christmas shopping to source the best bargains.
Martin Lewis is a god!! I have a thing about bald men with hairy chests!! Anyway he created the site money saving expert and he helps you save your pennies! The forum is really good and the members are helpful you can get advise on all money matters and find bargains!
I don't really like this site but it is on my top ten as I have to use it regularly when I go to my partners. I tend to just use this site to get my train times, I rarely buy my tickets from here as you have to pay transaction fees and postage costs. The site is however very easy to navigate around.
6)Rugby Freecycle - Part of Yahoo Groups
I found out about this group in my local paper, basically people offer items free for other people. There are all types of weird and wonderful things on the site, I have offered up numerous items like men and womans mountain bikes, up lighters, books, kitchen goods and so on. However I have also got some great things from there such as a washing machine, fire guard, games table and pushchair. It really is worth a look!
I google everything, I don't know how I coped before I found google as I use it daily and find it a invaluable search engine to find what ever you are looking for.
I love the bargains you can find at amazon, I also love the fact that I can spend my dooyoo miles at amazon. I have managed to get some brilliant Christmas bargains. Amazon also do a rental club which is very good.
Net mums is a site for mums, you can get information on schools in the area, places to go, child friendly restaurants, and family advice and recipes. There is also a meet a mum page where you can arrange to meet other mums in the area and a forum where you can get all sorts of advice from discipline to cooking help!
Another site to save money! Quidco is a cash back site, however you can get 'free money' just for signing up for certain free things. You also can do things like free bets where the cashback is higher than the cost of the bet and you could still win from the bet too.
Well as you can see most of my websites are to do with saving or making money, hopefully they will be of some use to you if you have not heard or used them.
New Look is Currently one of my favourite bargain clothes and shoe shops. New look started of in 1969 with one store in Taunton, by 1990 they had 70 stores and only 4 years later they had expanded to 200 stores! The biggest New Look store is in Liverpool at the new Liverpool One shopping centre. For those that are paying a visit to the Liverpool one store its on the very bottom floor or if you go to the top floor and go down the large escalators its to the left of there. I had to search the whole of Liverpool one before I found it!
New look started by just doing clothes in sizes 10 - 18 and I recall the quality being terrible! Now New look has a much better range and the majority of stores have expanded to large stores. The large stores such as the Liverpool one store and the Coventry Store have the following ranges:
Standard - Size 6 - 18
Inspire - Size 18-26 - both these ranges also stock petite and long trousers.
There is also a tall range where the clothes are made longer in the body as well as the leg.
Baby and children wear
Shoes - standard and wide fitting.
As I am of ample curves I tend to shop in the inspire range as I find the standard range isn't always very forgiving! The range of clothes in the Inspire range varies from store to store, but the larger stores have a great selection to suit the curvier lady, including coats, tops, trousers, dresses, jeans, swimwear and occasionally underwear. The standard ranges include all that and more!!
My friend shops for her young teen here and she can usually pick anything from here and her daughter is happy just because it came from New look so her friends will approve!
My partner usually wears designer jeans and shorts however when waiting for me in the Coventry store he browsed the men's wear and the range was fantastic and he managed to pick up some shorts in the sale for a bargain £3!!
The Coventry store also has a baby and children's section and the clothes are adorable, my 5 year old is a little fussy about what you dress him in and I tried to get him to look in new look but he refused as he said he didn't want clothes from a girly shop!! However I went without him another time and bought him some clothes such as a long sleeved hooded t-shirt for a bargain £6 and he told me he thought they were cool!! So I think that means it's a thumbs up for children's clothes.
The shoes in New look are fantastic - stiletto heaven, new look are very good at copying more expensive brand shoes and generally the shoes are quite well made, they come in 2 different fittings and go right up to size 9! Check out the sales you can usually pick up some fab shoes for a fiver.
The shoes are a much better quality that the clothes, my partners clothes lasted well there as did my sons, however my clothes have been hit and miss, the jeans are great and last well however trousers seem to wear quickly and a lot of the clothes have bad stitching and may need repairing. As they say you get what you pay for!
I always like my nails to look nice but find that applying nail varnish can be tricky and time consuming, so when I saw Bourjois had brought out the 1 second nail polish I instantly bought it in a red berry shade and a pearl shimmer.
Who are Bourjois?
Bourjois are a make up manufacturer based within Paris, Apparently the original owner of the company, Monsieur Alexandre Napoleon Bourjois, had a light bulb moment in 1863 when stage actresses were moaning about the make up they had to wear and therefore he decided to create something more suitable and created the powder blush and Bourjois was born!!
What does it do?
The makers claim that you can put this nail polish on in 1 second due to the large application brush that apparently fans to adapt to the size of your nails. The makers also claim that the varnish dries in 50 seconds. So in theory you could paint your nails and be ready to leave in a minute!
The packaging is a small bottle with a long handle with a rough edge for gripping purposes, the packaging is coloured according to the nail varnish colour that you choose. It had a picture of the brush on the front with the words '1 seconde' along the top and the company name along the bottom.
So does it work?
Yes and No!! My nails are very petite and I found it really difficult to fit the brush on my smaller nails, it was brilliant for my toes though. The brush is thick and loads up really well so there is no need to do 2 coats of polish as it coats well on the first stroke. However it certainly doesn't dry within 50 seconds and a few minutes later it still smudged. The varnish left my nails with dull looking nails - not very polished!! A day later I already have smudges!
Quick to apply but much better to spend longer applying a polish that will leave your nails shiny and un-chipped!
Pizza hut is a well known international Pizza / Pasta restaurant. There are the ordinary 'Pizza huts' which is where you order your food as a restaurant, there is also pizza hut express which is where they do small pizza's in a meal deal format and is usually housed within a food hall. They also do Pizza delivery in some areas - although unfortunately not mine!
Pizza hut do pizza's in 3 different sizes, individual, medium and large. They also do 4 different bases, Pan - which is a deep pan pizza, the Italian - which is a thin base., Cheesy bites - a ring of doughy bites filled with cheese and finally stuffed crust which is as you expect a crust stuffed with cheese!
The classics are Margarita, hot n spicy, Hawaiian and farmhouse. The favourites are supreme, chicken supreme, vegetable supreme, Meat feast, pepperoni feast, vegetarian hot one and sea food lovers. The speciality consist of Super supreme, BBQ deluxe, Mediterranean meats deluxe and goats cheese melt - my favourite.
Individual £4.99-£6.99, Medium £8.99-£11.49, Large £10.99 - £13.49
**PASTA and SALADS**
Pizza hut are trying to push their pasta range which is why they have changed some of their stores to the name of pasta hut, although apparently pasta makes just 1% of their current revenue.
They have Lasagne, Cannelloni, Salmon Pasta bake, Mezzaluna, Carbonara, Meatballs, Arribiata and Alfredo. There salads range from goats cheese salad to a trip to the salad bar.
Pizza hut do a weekday lunchtime buffet which is £5.99 per adult which I personally feel is a very good deal as it includes Pasta, Pizza and Salad, all unlimited!!
They also do meal deals from £6.99 a person consisting of starter or side and a individual pizza or pasta.
The pizza huts are generally decorated quite contemporary, with booths and individual tables and chairs, they are set with the salad bar quite central and are all based in a red colour.
The staff are hit and miss at Pizza hut and generally more miss as they are usually students who really can't be bothered! However the management are generally quite good as I had to complain on a occasion and they immediately reduced our bill by 50%.
Overall I don't think you can beat Pizza hut pizza for flavour and range, they really are the best! However I did have one of their speciality salads once and it wasn't very nice. If you are going on a first occasion I would highly recommend the lunchtime buffet as you get to taste a variety of the pizza range and basically get to pig out!!
I had used Ryan Air a few years ago and had a disastrous experience, however I recently decided to give them another go and my review is based on my recent experience.
My partner had booked some days off work so I decided to look for a day trip we could go on, I considered going to London but then summed up the prices of train etc and decided to look else where. On the off chance I decided to see if we could get good flights to go to Dublin for the day and Ryan Air was the obvious choice as it is a Irish airline and is known for cheap flights.
I did a search and managed to find the perfect flights for only 1p each way per person and no taxes!! Woohoo! As it was a day trip we could do online check in as we did not have luggage. The costs are considerably more if you have luggage and don't check in online, there are also extra charges for priority boarding etc.
Unfortunately Ryan Air charge a transaction fee for payment by card of £4 per person per flight, which unfortunately you have no choice but to pay this as you have to pay by card! However £16.04 total for a return to Dublin is fabulously cheap!
We boarded the plane at Birmingham Airport on time and the staff were friendly, Ryan air flights are basically a free for all, you choose your own seats on the plane so if you are at the back of the boarding queue do not expect to be able to sit together! We managed to get a seat together near the back of the plane and we were quite impressed , the plane was not as cramped as my last experience and the seats were leather and had arm rests that you could lift up, which is always a benefit when I have to squeeze my rounded bottom into the seats J
The staff on the plane had strong Irish accents and we were relieved that the safety information was given as a pre recording from someone with a more clear Irish accent! The safety information was given quickly and then the pilot introduced himself. He explained that the flight would be quite turbulent.
Once we were finally in the air the pilot announced that as the turbulence was moderate he would not be removing the seat belt sign and that we were only to leave our seats if necessary i.e. for a toilet run!
Shortly after the pilots announcement a very annoying ditty blared out of the speakers and it was Ryan Air's new signature tune that they were trying to get passengers to buy for kids - no chance!!
The staff brought round teas and coffees, I ordered a coffee which was £2.50 or Euro3, however it was impossible to drink with the turbulence!
Time for decent, we arrived on time and this was notified buy a loud hooter going off and an annoying American accent announcing that we had been on a Ryan air flight that had landed on time and apparently the majority of Ryan Air flights land on time. As I am sure you can imagine there were lots of sniggers after this hooter sound went off.
As I mentioned in my Dublin airport review coming home started off very traumatically as we almost missed our flight! Anyway when we finally got to the plane I was in the process of having a panic attack so my partner asked the steward for a cup of water at first the steward said they had nothing, then he took one look at me and as I was shaking head to toe and practically blue in the face he managed to find some! The steward looked more panicked over the situation than I was and I think it must have been the first time he had dealt with such a situation! We took out seat and the rest of the passengers boarded , within minutes the steward was back with me checking that I was ok and he checked a few times through out the rest of the flight. I was really impressed with the fact that he checked that I was ok on a few occasions.
The flight on the way home wasn't as turbulent as the way there, however they were not serving any drinks on the way home at all so we were dying of thirst and for that reason they lose another star as I would of given them four star if not!
I was taking my son's friend out for the day and realised I had forgotten to pack his cup so in a rush I ran to the nearest poundshop and they had Tommee Tippee first cups for sale for obviously a pound!
Looking at other shops these cups range between £1.50 and £2.00 and Tommee Tippee are selling these for 4 cups for £5 at the moment so I really did get a bargain!
They come in 4 colours which are all bright colours of blue, red, yellow and Green. The packaging said these cups were suitable from 4 months plus.
What's special about this cup?
The cup has measurements on the side which I found was really handy to keep track of how much water or milk your baby has had, It also has a juice line which is really good to ensure that you are not making your child's drinks too concentrated. It has large easy grip handles on either side.
The lid is really handy as it has a flip lid which you can flip up when baby needs a drink and fold back down when they are finished. This is great for weaning babies who are unused to using a cup as you can pour the water on to their tongue while they get used to it. Also it avoids spillages and leakages. The lid has a lip that you can take the lid off with, in the past I have found certain cups the lids have come off too easily or not easily enough! I found this easy enough to take off but road tested it with my 5 year old son and he was unable to remove it so it passed that test!
These cups are fully suitable for all types of sterilisation but I did notice it fading slightly when used in a microwave steriliser.
These cups can last a long time as when baby has grown up a little you can put sipper lids on the cup to help them move on to a open cup.
All in all a great cup for a bargain price!
Recently my partner and I were meeting his mother and Aunt in Birmingham for Lunch as we only had a couple of hours spare we needed somewhere that was conveniently located so it was close enough to the train station and Bull Ring and somewhere that was quick to eat in but not fast food. Usually if I am eating in Birmingham I would head to Brindley place and if anyone is thinking of dining in Birmingham I would highly recommend heading there!
Anyway as we had little choice we decided to head to Bella Italia.
What did we order and what was it like?
I ordered Cannelloni with spinach and ricotta, this was brought out in a hot dish, there were 3 cannelloni tubes stuffed with some spinach and ricotta and topped with a drizzle of tomato and béchamel sauce. As soon as I saw it I though wow this is a small portion! And the taste was horrid! It was so bland that I had to have a drink after every mouthful! As I was with my partners mum I didn't want to kick up a fuss so I ate as much as I could!
My Partner had Meatballs and spaghetti and said he thoroughly enjoyed it.
My partners mum had Lasagne and although it was also a tiny portion and looked very thin, she too said it had a lovely flavour.
However my partners aunt who ordered Penne Fresco which consisted of goats cheese, spinach, tomatoes and pine nuts, she had a search for her goats cheese and seemed very unconvincing when she said she was enjoying her food - much as I expect I seemed unconvincing too!!
We also ordered some garlic bread to share and it was sticks of garlic bread that were drizzled in garlic butter and were very yummy!
The waitress that served us was very friendly and helpful although we did have to remind her that she had not yet warmed up the baby food that we had requested on a few occasions, we also asked for a highchair on the way in and had to ask again once we were seated as it had not surfaced. However saying that there were hundreds of staff but our waitress seemed to be the only one doing any work!
The décor was very pleasing to the eye and was as you expect with a Italian theme, with deep ruby reds and mahogany tables.
Overall and the bill:
Our bill came to £60 that was for 4 main courses , 4 soft drinks and 4 coffees. Not bad I suppose if it was a evening but I felt it was over priced for lunchtime as most other restaurants reduce their prices for lunchtime or do lunch deals such as 2 courses for £7 etc. All in all the experience was not a bad one but I wish that we had just taken advantage of the bratwursts on offer at the German Christmas market and then gone for a dessert and a coffee somewhere in the bullring afterwards!
I am a big fan of having dinner parties and introducing new tastes and flavours, especially as a lot of my friends are meat and veg people!
One of my favourite recipes that really tantalise the tastes buds is a Moroccan lamb tagine or tajine as its sometimes spelt.
Moroccan food is extremely rich but generally healthy and the spices used bring out the flavour of the meat.
1tsp of all the following spices
Paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper, ginger, tumeric, crushed cloves and cinnamon
Lamb - 1 shoulder will be sufficient but use which cut you can find that you can afford. (diced)
2 large onions
Tub of passata 500ml
1pt lamb stock
2 tins of good quality tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic crushed
100g dried apricots
2tbsp of following - rosemary, honey, coriander and parsley
Marinade lamb in spices over night.
Fry onion with garlic in pan for few minutes and then add lamb and fry until sealed.
Throw all other ingredients in slow cooker and add the lamb mix cook on high for first few hours then turn to low until desired.
To add bulk you could even add peas to this recipe.
Serve with rice or crispy fried potatoes
A yummy winter warmer that impresses everybody and is so easy! If you don't have slow cooker put in casserole dish and cook on 150 degrees for around 3 hours.
This is my favourite starter when I have a dinner party as it looks impressive is simple to do and can be prepared in the morning to just cook when your guests arrive, which I feel is important as there is nothing worse than the host being locked in the kitchen!
Goats Cheese and Red onion Pastries
You will need:
Goats Cheese - get one from deli counter that is quite a high strength as if not it can taste bland
Olive oil or melted butter
Lay one sheet of fillo pasty on side and brush on oil or butter. Lay second sheet on top.
Chop goats cheese into small chunks and finely slice the onion.
Put onion and goats cheese in centre of pastry and fold in to make a parcel shape using more oil or butter to seal if necessary and trim off excess pasty.
Make additional parcels as above. Fry gently in frying pan until under side is brown. Gently turn over handling as little as possible so as not to pierce the pastry. And place in a preheated over around 180 degrees for around 15 minutes.
Serve with a green salad and onion chutney (pre bought) or make your own red pepper coulis as below.
Red pepper coulis
Roast pepper and shallots - blend and puree using as much boiling water as necessary until consistency as required.
You could do variations of this tart by using different cheeses and different vegetables. You could also make one large parcel and cut up for your guests - which if you do this I recommend cutting it at the table so they can see the presentation before it is slopped on their plate!!
Having used Dublin Airport on a few occasions I found the last occasion to be the worst for numerous reasons and my review is based on that trip.
Dublin Airport is 10KM from the city and there are plentiful buses that go from the airport to the city as well as taxis and coaches.
We flew with Ryan Air and arrived on time at the airport. We had to exit the plane and walk across the tarmac to get to the airport building. It was then a long walk to arrivals, my partner was walking at a speedy pace and I told him not to bother as he would be shattered at the end of the walk!! 15 minutes later you arrive at passport control. Expect long unorganised queues!! Finally through passport control 15 minutes later and as we were only on a day trip we had no luggage to collect thankfully as this seemed ultimate chaos!! Out through the exit and there is the tourist information desk, bus information desk and a few shops as well as maps etc to find your way around the city.
Both my partner and I decided to use the toilet facilities and we both noticed a poster advertising the Dublin card and a 10% discount if you mention the advert. Hence on our exit from the toilet we were both poised with the same suggestion to get a Dublin Card. We located the tourist information and got in a queue again. There were two woman working behind the counter and neither seemed in a rush despite the long queue! Another 10 minutes later and it was our turn. We asked about the Dublin card discount and was told that the discount was only available on a 2 day card or longer! If we had known this and had added up the time available and the things we could see I am not sure if we would of taken advantage of the card, however as the woman was already thrusting the cards in our hands and we decided that it would be worthwhile as it included travel from the airport. We went out side the terminal building and it was clear where to get the coach from so we were very pleased as there was a coach ready to leave as well. We were about to jump on when the bus driver said the Dublin Card was invalid as the tourist information lady had not validated. Back into the airport and more waiting I refused to queue as it was not my fault and the woman at the desk tried to send me to the back of the queue which I refused point blank. Finally sorted with no apology and back out to the bus, which had left!
We finally got to the city over a hour later than we had originally expected and as we were on a day trip we were non too pleased especially when we found out half the attractions available on the Dublin card were not open on a Monday. BIG HINT - do not go to the tourist information within the airport - they are beyond useless!!
Our flight was due to leave at 20:00 and the gate closed at 19:30 therefore we left the city at 18:00 as we did not need to check in and guessed that would leave us with plenty of time to explore the shops within the airport as I remembered a good sweet shop and the Guinness shop from when I last went to Dublin. Due to the Airlink bus breaking down we did not arrive until 19:00 at the airport but we were not worried as this would still give us time to get through security and have a toilet break before heading for the gate.... Or so you would think?!!
There were two lines for security and both were similar length so we just joined the closest one and waited... and waited....and waited.... Panic setting in. The queue on the left was going quickly and the one we were in was going very slowly.... The minutes were ticking by and I was getting more fretful, the lovely people in front of us told us to go ahead of them, we finally were at the front of the queue and realised what the issue was. The queue on the left had 3 barriers to go through however our queue only had one?!! Why they didn't divert half our queue to the other side I don't know and we mentioned to the security that our flight was due to close the gate 5 minutes ago and he said it can't be helped and he really was not bothered as he said they had not called out name. Another passenger said if we had checked in online the airline just assumes that you are not arriving and wont call for you!!
Finally through security and we start the run to the gate - another 10 minutes walk or 5 minutes run. We finally got to the gate at 19:45 and it had not even started boarding - in that time I started to suffer a panic attack and was a wreck by the time I got on the plane, if the airport had announced that it was boarding later or someone had helped us get to the gate due to the panic they could see we were in then my panic attack on the plane would have been avoided!
The main issue was the security and if they had been more efficient we would not of suffered the way we did. We should of got through security in 10 minutes flat and the fact they didn't seem bothered is what angered us further. Anyone flying back from Dublin I would suggest leaving more that 2 hrs before your flight in case you have to deal with the useless security team that we had!!
I would also warn people that have mobility issues or struggle to walk long distances beware the walk to and from departures are a hike and a half and although there are travelaters we found a few of those were out of order.
Dublin Bus is the main bus company in Dublin, it covers the majority of the inner city services, including the airlink bus and the city tour bus.
The Dublin bus office is based on Upper O'Connell street which all buses that go into the city centre stop on.. The office is open from 08:30 - 17:30 Monday and 09:00 -17:30 Tue - Fri. Its only open half day on Saturdays and closed Sundays and public holidays. The office its self is quite easy to navigate round, there are information leaflets/ maps and a area where you can locate bus timetables. The staff are very friendly and are happy to help and offer you information. I had used the city bus tour some years previously but my partner had not, therefore we decided to book some tickets for this tour at 15euros each. There is another bus tour in the city that is slightly cheaper, however most of those buses are recorded audio.
The city tour has both live audio and multilingual buses available, the multilingual are few and far between and if you are trying to avoid the multilingual ones (which I would advice to do so) you will only have to wait another ten minutes for a live audio bus. The buses are big green buses that arrive a designated stops ten minutes apart, they stop at a total of 23 stops and are valid for 24 hours. Therefore if you are staying over in Dublin I would recommend validating your ticket later in the day so you can use the bus ticket over 2 days and that way you don't feel you are on buses all day! The total tour takes on average 1.5hours, however most people use the tour to get to popular destinations and hop on and hop off throughout. The buses are very clean and the top decks are open top which can get pretty blustery but well worth it if you can cope with the cold as you get some nice views.
The drivers of these buses are fantastic, very helpful, will happily give you advise, as we were getting off one stop they checked with us that we knew where we were heading and advised we waited until the next stop as it would be closer to our destination. The bus drivers talk about the city of Dublin and give you some very interesting facts about the city, they also advise which attractions are well worth a visit and having encountered on many of these attractions I have to agree. The bus drivers are very humours and often make jokes at people coming back from the brewery tours, they also ensure they get the whole bus laughing and joking by singing popular Irish songs and making silly jokes. The tour is worth it just for the entertainment from the drivers!
The tour stops at the following locations:
1) Tour Starts Here - Cathal Brugha Street.
2) Abbey Street - Lower O'Connell St
3) Trinity College Dublin - College Green
4) Nassau Street - Nassau Street
5) National Gallery. - Merrion Square West.
6) Government Buildings - Merrion Sq West.
7) St. Stephen's Green - Grafton Street.
- great for shopping!!
8) Tourism Centre - Suffolk Street
9) Temple Bar - Dame Street
- Best place in Dublin!
10) Dublin Castle - Cork Hill
11) Christchurch / Dvblinia - Christ Church
12) St Patrick's Cathedral - Patrick Street.
13) Guinness Storehouse - St James's Gate
- see separate review
14) Museum of Modern Art - Royal Hospital
15) Kilmainham Gaol - Old Kilmainham
- well worth a visit
16) Heuston Rail Station - St. John's Road
17) Dublin Zoo - Phoenix Park.
- lovely park location with deer.
18) Ryan's Victorian Bar - Parkgate Street.
19) National Museum - Collin's Barracks
20) Old Jameson Distillery - Smithfield
- Brilliant tour much better than the Guinness tour
21) Liffey River Cruise - Bachelor's Walk
- easy to walk to shopping area from here.
22) Dublin Bus HQ - Upper O'Connell Street
23) Writers' Museum - Parnell Square North
Another note regarding the drivers are they are much better than the tourist information centre as they actually give you helpful information, tourist information didn't bother to tell us that the museums are closed on a Monday but the helpful drivers did.
I only used one of the general buses but again the bus was clean and well kept and the driver was very efficient.
The Airlink bus costs 6Euro each, which I would say if there is a few of you travelling you would be cheaper hiring a taxi, this bus runs every ten minutes from O'Connell street from 5past the hour onwards. Throughout the day I noticed these buses seemed to be travelling on time and seemed to be efficient, therefore we decided that as we were not flying until 8pm and had already checked on the 6:15pm bus would get us there in plentiful time. Wrong!! Unfortunately the bus did not turn up until 18:30 and there were a lot of people pilling on the bus due to the lateness. We finally set off, all ok and we were not too worried as we would still be there in plenty of time..... Then the bus broke down!!
Panic sets in!! Luckily another bus came by and crammed us all on 2 minutes later and we were on our way. We arrived at the airport for just after 1900hrs and if it wasn't for the useless security at the airport we would have had plenty of time ( but will review the airport and explain more on that later!!)
The bus drivers were apologetic and again very friendly and unfortunately vehicles do break down so I can't really put the blame on the bus company for this.
The company as a whole are much better than most bus companies you would find in England and the drivers are very helpful I would just say it would be better if the company had a few extra buses on the airlink during the busy period early evening to ensure that people get to the airport on time!