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Surfbabe13

Surfbabe13
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Member since: 23.11.2008

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    • More +
      09.06.2010 22:01
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      just point, spray and wipe

      Pledge Furniture Polish has been the choice of polish in our family for years. Its easy to use, has that traditional polish smell and works!

      There are three fragrances of Pledge polish, Natural, Lemon and Outdoor - now the only one I have used is the original as I prefer the traditional smell of beeswax. I'm not sure that wood smelling of lemon or the outdoor is right really!

      The packaging - I like the traditional aerosol can and the original polish - a tall slim tin in browns with a brown lid and depicting a swathe of wood having been polished.

      Now to ease of use;- just point and spray and wipe with a soft cloth. I still use the aerosol can, so it is just a case of pressing the button on the top, making sure that the nozzle hole is pointing away from you. the dust comes away with one wipe and I find you then need to buff the furniture up to get a really good shine. - its no good using a J-cloth - it has to be a proper soft duster type cloth - otherwise you can't get the shine. Don't use too much though - I left my niece to polish my mums desk and she used nearly the whole tin because it was such fun spraying it and the soft cloth could be rung out!

      As too price - well it depends where you get it from but it is around £3 per can and can be found in all supermarkets.

      There are own brands on the market, in the same type of packaging but they are not a substitute for the original Pledge.

      All in all a quick and easy way to keep surfaces looking clean and sparkly.

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    • Cheatwell Humm Bug / Board Game / 12 Readings / 12 Ratings
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      07.01.2010 15:30
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      A frustrating board game if you are not up on every song writtien in the last 50 years !!!

      We always try to have a new game for Christmas and this year liked the look of HummBug. Now it says for age 14 upwards which is fine - my children are adults !! (18 and 20) so we thought it would be a good one for that period between the Queens Speech and tea!

      I actually wish we hadn't bothered. The blurb makes it look fun and I quote ""Old songs, new songs, love songs and blues songs& Humm Bug is the ultimate musical collection with over 1,000 memorable tunes ~ and a hilarious board game too!
      In this marvellous mix of fun and nostalgia you'll soon be humming famous songs from the fifties to the end of the century& timeless-classics in the Rock & Pop Hall of Fame!
      Remembering the songs is only half the battle& You have to hum the tunes for your friends to guess! Whistling, singing or la-la-ing is STRICTLY FORBIDDEN ~ and you're up against the clock! "

      All well and good, we thought, we are all musical, we can all hum but what it doesn;t allow for is the fact that not many people are going to know many of the songs. Yes - they maybe songs you have heard of but that is not the same as knowing them. Humming is a lot harder than la-la-ing but that makes no difference if you don;t know the tune in the first place.

      The object of the game is to get from one side of the board to the other first, by guessing correctly the song being hummed. Each space is surrounded by 6 dates, so you choose which song from the card to hum from one of the catagories. Thats where the problem lie - there are 6 catagories but you may end up on a space that has only 4 choices around it because of duplication - meaning that you have no idea of any of the songs. Ti became extremely frustrating and although we did manage to finish it was only because we allowed more than one card to be drawn until the player had found a song they knew !! - not quite the object of the game.

      I'm sure that playing it in teams with people of a wide spread of ages would be much more fun and not so frustrating.

      It is hard to hum and we did allow ah-ahing instead of la-laing (there is a difference!) purely because we were getting fed up.

      If you feel you must play this - then borrow a set and make sure you have lots of people with reasonable music knowledge!!

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    • Neff S54M45X2GB / Dishwasher / 17 Readings / 16 Ratings
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      07.01.2010 10:23
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      An efficient dishwasher with a range of programmes to suit everyone

      We have never, in 25 years of house owning had a dishwasher until the week before Christmas 2009, when our first ever new kitchen was installed, and it was my husband (who is the worlds best washer upper )who suggested that we had one. I don't know how we ever manged without one before!!

      We have the Neff Integrated Dishwasher as illustrated here - except of course ours has a wooden fascia.

      I can't tell you how easy it was to install as our kitchen fitters did that but I can tell you how easy it is to use!

      Firstly - read the instruction manual - you can't use it until you have bought the appropriate salt, washing up stuff and rinse aid (we went for sainsburys own brand but thats another review).

      Secondly - check your water softness / hardness - this is easily done by typing your postcode into your local water supplier website and it should tell you. Compare this to the table in the instruction book and then you should be all set to get the machine working. Don't under estimate this step as too much or too little of any of these washing/rinsing aids can have an effect on the proper running of the dishwasher.

      The dishwasher has two trays which can be configured in various ways as the racking for plates folds down which means that large items can easily be put in without problem.

      The upper tray has racking for glasses and mugs and a top "shelf" for long handled utensils, such as slotted spoons etc and is also useful for sharp knives - no change of stabbing your finger on them. There is also racking for small plates which can be folded down to make a space for larger items. The top shelf is also used to lean long stemmed glasses against.

      The bottom tray has a seperate cutlery holder with various depth floors in so you don't lose those little spoons. I put the cutlery in handle upwards so that the eating surface is nearer the sprays for cleaning - it also stops you piercing yourself on sharp knives when emptying it!

      The controls for the dishwasher are along the top inside edge and are purely electronic. - so no knobs to turn. There are five different wash cycles although we have found that the only we have used so far has been the quick programme which takes about 25 - 30 minutes. This doesn't dry the dishes, which apparently some of the other programmes do - although having said that by the time you open the door to put stuff away it has dried off.

      It is fairly simple to load the dishwasher with salt and an indicator light on the control bar tells you when you need to refill it. So far we haven't needed to do this and we are in a hard water area. The rinse aid goes in the door and again a indicator light tells you when this needs doing. The washing up tablets go in the door as well in a neat hole with a snap close lid.

      The filter is located in the floor of the dishwasher and it's very simple to lift this out for cleaning, which needs to be done regularly to stop a build up of all those little bits of food that lurk!

      We have found that we only use the dishwasher once a day usually first thing in the morning or last thing at night and our kitchen looks a lot tidier as everything is stacked in there as it is used rather thatn cluttering up the worktops.

      As the machine is electronically operated it remembers what the last programme was that you used so as soon as you turn the on/off switch on it is ready to go - that is as long as no-one has used the rinse or another programme in between! the machine only starts when you shut the door completely and it is quite quiet.

      A dishwasher I would recommend for its ease of use and quietness although there maybe cheaper alternatives

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    • Beko WM5100 / Washing Machine / 23 Readings / 20 Ratings
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      10.10.2009 19:50
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      A cheap, basic machine that does the job it was intended for

      My washing machine died about a month ago and with four adults in the house, two of which were getting ready to back to University I needed a washing machine quickly.

      Now I'm not one of those people that believes that the more expensive the better and neither to I feel that the washing machine needs to sing and dance around the kitchen ............... I wanted a basic washing machine that would take a reasonable size load, had a 30 minute cycle (as lets face it most clothes only need freshening up), but could also do a hot hot wash for towels . It also needed to be at a price I could afford

      So I spent the evening researching machines on-line including reading reviews on Dooyoo. I paid £169 from Co-op Online which included free delivery and I get Quidco Cash back as well.

      The Machine itself is the white version. Its is wonderfully quiet and takes a 5kg load. However the 30 minute wash says to only load it with 2.5kg (whoever weighs their washing !) and so filling the drum only half full is quite easy and you are still using less power doing 2 loads like this than a full load at 40C.

      I use washing powder that you just put in the drawer and fabric conditioner goes in the middle part. The powder doesn't always completely dissolve but I think that may be because the machine is a cold fill so it is cold water dripping on the powder not hot !

      There are 16 different settings you can use - I have to admit that I have only used 3 of them and they all work perfectly well. Although the spin speed is only 1000 as opposed to some machines being 1200 or more, I have found that this is perfect for then being able to shake things and hang them on the washing line and they are not already creased from spinning.

      All in all, I would recommend this machine if you are happy with a basic machine at a very reasonable price.

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        06.08.2009 21:49
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        A routine Medical examination that is vital in detecting signs of Cancer. Don't miss your appointmen

        When you reach a certain age (ie 50) the NHS automatically invite you to take part in their Breast Screening programme. The invitation can come at any time after your 50th birthday and I have to say you can wait up to a year depending when your birthday is and how your local Health Trust run their programme. I was lucky in that my invitation came within two months of my birthday but I had to postpone the appointment twice due to being ill and then having to attend a funeral. When ringing to re-arrange the appointment the staff where very helpful and didn;t make me feel as if I was putting the inevitable off !!!

        The screening itself can take place in either a mobile unit or at the nearest local hospital taht has a breast care unit.

        My initial appointment was at our mobile screening unit which was resident in the local Coop Car Park !.

        I was slightly apprehensive about what was going to happen - the process had been likened to making a "Boob Sandwich". Oh well I thought - you have to endure these things and it can't be any more embrassing or intrusive as a cervial smear test !!!

        So off I toddled to the mobile unit, making sure that I was wearing an easily take offable top and a semi decent bra, they also ask you to make sure you didn't wear spray on deodrant or strong perfume.

        The first thing I noticed when entering the mobile unit was that only a small area was reserved as a waiting area - so how big was this machine going to be. Well I was soon to find out - The nurse ticked my name of the list and asked me to take as seat and within no time had explained to me that I would need to go into one of the two cubicles and remove my top and bra and then put the top back on. I was whisked into the machinery room to be greeted by a lovely lady (not sure if she was a nurse or a xray lady!) who then proceeded to explain exactly was going to happen.

        Basically the machine is a special x-ray type machine that has two plates that can be horizontal or vertical and which are squashed together with your breast stuck in the middle. Now that may sound very straight forward - but you need to be a contortionist to get everything where it should be. One arm is up, one arm is out and down you can't stand straight as you have to get one breast out of the way - but althrough the lady was very gentle and explained exactly what she was trying to achieve - which of course was a clear picture of your breast. Each one is photographed vertically and horizontally and I can quite see where the analogy of being a boob sandwich came from. I now know what a panini roll must feel like in a panini press!!

        The two plates come together quite hard and the nice lady beats a hasty retreat to press the button that will take the photo. All this of course is done under stricit healthy and safety quidelines and every detail of my identification was logged on the photographic plates. After what seemed a lifetime but of course was only about 20 minutes everything was finished and I was allowed to get dressed and then had to wait while they checked that the photoplates where ok. I was told that the results would be about 2 - 3 weeks as they are checked by 3 different doctors at the main hospital before a final result is agreed upon.

        Two weeks later I received a letter in the post - now our post does not come until about 2.30pm - and I then had the worst 24 hours of my life. The letter basically said that they would like me to attend an appointment the following day at 2.00pm as there was a problem with my photos and they needed further investigation, plus an apointment with a consultant and I should allow at least 2 hours for the appointment as it could be necessary for a biopsy to be done as well. Now my mind went into overdrive as I believe most women would as you can only imagine the worst, and that you are going to be dead within the year of breast cancer. I managed to get through the rest of the day, very close to hysterics and no matter how much I tried to think positively and tried to convince myself that there was nothing wrong it didn't work.

        My husband came and picked me up from work the following lunchtime and we went through to the Breast Care Unit at our local general hosiptal. The staff there are obvioulsy used to dealing with near hysterical ladies who fear the worst. The Photograph lady explained exactly what they had found on the plates and why they needed to retake certain plates. Still panic striken, it didn't help one iota seeing in black and white what she was talking about!.

        After being sandwich again in the machine I was sent back to the waiting room to wait to see the consultant. All the time my husband was reassuring and I felt very sad for the lady that came in whilst we were in the waiting room who had no-one with her to reassure her.

        Eventually I was called in with my husband (thinking - this has to be bad news if they want him as well!) to see the consultant. She had the first and second lot of photos on the light board and showed us exactly what we were looking at - a big mass on the first one which was only a tiny mass on the second one. She wanted to do an ultrasound, so once again I undressed, laid on the couch and was smoothered with the jelly stuff they use before being able to look at the pictures as she undertook a very comprehensive examination. All the time she was explaining what we were seeing and to my everlasting relief declared that there wasn't anything there that was sinister and that everything was fine.

        We had a discussions about why the photographs which were taken the first time had shown this large mass and apparently if the breast is not positioned exactly right and/or the plates aren't pressed in hard enough it can show up what appears to be an abnormality. I did tell her how worried I'd been to recieve a letter with an appointment less than 24 hours away and she quite understood where I was coming from, but as she pointed out it was better to get people back as soon as possible rather than wait three weeks or more for a follow up appointment.

        Now I have nothing but admiration for the way the NHS treated me - the staff at all times were courteous and answered any questions, no matter how trivial they seemed.

        I was lucky - my scare turned out to be nothing but I am sure that their treatment of more serious cases would be just as sympathetic and professional.

        Deep down I probably knew that nothing was wrong as I do undertake regular self-examination and had not felt anything different in the make up of my breasts - but having said that I am extra vigilant now.

        Whilst the Breast Screening programme will not stop Breast Cancer altogether, early detection of the disease can only be a good thing in ensuring survival.

        It is a shame it is not offered to younger women routinely, although any problems with your breasts should immediatley be reported to your doctor who will arrange for a mammogram.

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          03.08.2009 14:29
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          A quality product for that quickish snack how ever you intend to eat them

          Oh how I love fish fingers ................ and luckily my children do to.

          I always have a pack of fish fingers in the freezer although they don't last very long once my daughter realises they are there. At the moment they are on special offer at our local coop and at 99p for 10 (i think!) that is a bargain.

          Now my love of fish fingers stems back to when I was quite young - we sometimes had them for tea with chips or with mashed potoato and peas but my favourite was for breakfast with grilled tomatoes. My mum was a stickler for a good breakfast before going off to school, so we used to have fish fingers or chipolata's with grilled tomatos, toast etc.

          My ultimate favourite though has to be a fish finger sandwich! I have to say it is my daughters as well, although there are very stringent requirements on the bread - it has to be white and very very fresh, with butter or whatever you usually have and in my case mayonnaise and in hers mayo on one side and tomato sauce on the other.

          Right now onto the fish fingers themselves. The are about 4 -5 inches long and about 1 - 1.5 inches wide and about 0.5 inches thick. They are made of 100% cod, coated in breadcrumbs which are an orangey colour due to the paprika and tumeric in the coating.

          They are easy to cook - pre-heat grill and stick them under for 15minutes, turning at least once until they are nicely crisp and and an even colour. you can oven cook them, which is fine if you are putting the oven on for chips etc.

          Three of these lovely fish fingers will set you back 165 calories. For a child this is 10% of the recommend daily intake of Fat. The are low in sugar but high in salt according the packaging and if you look at the % not the actual amount.

          Taste wise - well these do taste very much of fish with out being overpowering or smelling very fishy. The fish is flaky rather than minced (which is what the value ones are made of and as my daughter said once - they obviously use the fishes hands for these ones!), so you can tell it is the real thing as I doubt even Captain Birdseye could replicate flaky fish.

          Fish Fingers are available from all supermarkets and they all do there own make ones but I haven't found anything to replace Captain Birds Eye Fish Fingers.

          PS. Daughters Boyfriend has now been introduced to fish finger sandwiches - at the age of 19 he had never had them !!!

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            03.08.2009 13:54
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            An easy to use Cup a Soup, excellent for those times you n eed something quickly

            Cup a Soups are a handy thing to keep the cupboard for those miserable days when you can't be bothered to cook and its too horrible to go out and get something. They are also handy for those times when you need a quick "something" on the run.

            Having been stuck at home for the last week with Shingles I've used the remaining pack of these for my lunch as I tend to find they fill me up without too many calories, which is great when you are prone to putting on weight and can;t go for your daily swim. One serving is 138 Calories.

            On to the product itself; The box is it's usual recognisable blue with a picture of brimming cup full of delicious looking soup, surrounded in this case by vegetables as the one I have is Cream of Vegetable with croutons. I have to say the finished product does look remarkably like the box (exceot fior the vegetables round the box of course.

            My box contained 4 sachets of soup and I have no idea how much it cost, but probably in the region of £1.

            This is one product that does tell you how much boiling water to add which is a big help as too much water and you have an Oliver Twist like gruel consistency and too little water and you can stand your spoon up unaided.

            So empty the contents into a mug, add 230ml of boiling water and stir well. Make sure you do stir really well as the powder can stick together a bit and you end up with clumps of powder instead of a smooth soup. Wait a couple of minutes for it to thicken and he presto you have ameal in a mug.

            Taste wise - the Creamy Vegetable is actually quite nice -- It does have bits of vegetable in it (11% of total made up serving) and mine was the version with croutons (1%), the rest is water and thickenings etc. It is creamy, the croutons do crunch, although they are quite small so only a little crunch, and you can taste that it is vegetable soup rather than chicken or mushroom.

            I have tried other versions of the Cup a Soup range but this is the favourite so far.

            A good staple to have in the cupboard - I wouldn't have them everyday out of choice, but nevertheless they are a tasty soup if you are in a hurry

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              02.08.2009 18:06
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              A readily available chocolate that will be fairtrade certified and ideal for a sweet tooth.

              I like Chocolate but tend to prefer the really dark plain chocolate of 70% or above. Unfortunatly we didn't have any chocolate in the house when I had a "chocolate" moment and I resorted to eating some of the bar of Dairy Milk which was lurking in the fridge.

              Cadbury's Dairy Milk - I've decided that the dairy part is the most obvious here - it is very creamy and milky and sweet and not really very chocolatey. In fact on reading the packaging it only contains 20% of Cocoa Solids.

              Everybody recognises Cadbury Dairy Milk with its distinctive purple cover and the glass and a half of full cream milk being poured into a sqaure of chocolate. It doesn't tend to come with a foil inner anymore - its heat sealed in one go .

              Now the bars come in several sizes - my bar (or rather my son's which I knicked) was a 230g bar and one or two of the chunky squares is enough in one go.

              Dairy milk has a lot of uses I've used it in cooking, as a topping and in milkshakes.

              Most recipes call for plain chocolate but I've found that Dairy Milk does actually work OK most of the time in things like Brownies and Muffins - you just end up with a lighter brown cake. It is quite easy to break it into small pieces to use as chocolate chunks in recipes (best way is to put it in the fridge and then when cold, bash it with a rolling pin!). It is not the cheapest chocolate to use for cooking though.

              This chocolate melts easily so is not one to buy and leave in the car as a munchie - it goes soft quite quickly. I prefer my chocolate to be thinner and crisp and that is one thing that Dairy milk doesn't fit criteria wise.

              The one really good thing about Dairy Milk is that Cadburys have recently announced that from September all their Dairy Milk Chocolate will be Fair Trade certified.

              In conclusion - Dairy Milk is an alright chocolate for that occasion when nothing else is available - it isn't my first choice although it is my sons choice .............. but then thats why its good to have lots of choice...... and they do sell over 300 million bars of dairy milk every year!!

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              • Eggs in General / Recipe / 19 Readings / 18 Ratings
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                30.07.2009 15:22
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                A food that ticks all the boxes, is versatile and cheap

                Eggs are one of the most useful of food products - they are natural and depending where you get them from free from additives.

                Now I say it depends where you get them from - I have bought all sorts of eggs over the years - free range, organic, mass produced (ie battery when i didn;t know any better), barn eggs, the list is quite endless, but the point is none of these have had the freshness or fantastic taste of the the eggs that I now use ................. why?.................. because we now have two chickens who produce the most fantastic eggs imaginable.

                As previous reviews have said eggs can be used for all sorts of things; you can boil, fry, scramble and poach them; you can combine them with flour, sugar and butter to make cakes; you can whizz them up with flour and water or milk to make pancakes or yorkshire puddings. They make a mean egg custard tart filling or the topping for a quiche or a filling for a sandwich... But you can really tell the difference between the different types of egg.

                Not only can you buy chickens eggs, you can if you are lucky buy ducks eggs, goose eggs and quails eggs, although I think these are either too big or too small to be of much use.

                Thats the thing about chickens eggs - they are just the right size for a normal person to eat.

                I was never one for dippy eggs and soldiers ! but since having our own chickens it has become a ritual on a Saturday morning when getting home from work to have this for breakfast.

                The best thing about having our own chickens eggs is that we know what the chickens have been fed and whether they have a happy life - not like those bought in the supermarket.

                The yolks should ideally be a deep yellow colour and the whites - which of course are clear in an uncooked egg should be a thick jelly like consistency. If the whites (albumen) are watery they eggs aren't all that fresh.

                Eggs are a good all round source of protein, minerals and vitamins and are only 80 calories or thereabouts (that is until you cook them). You could not find a more versatile food source.

                Before I finish - the perfect boiled egg should have a firm set white and a runny yolk - bring water to boil, when rapidly boiling, set timer for 5 minutes and lower eggs in. Lift out immediatley the timer goes and the water should evaporate straight away. This works every time with our eggs but then they have usually only been lifted from the chicken run 5 minutes before so are really really fresh.

                Enjoy - well enjoy fresh free range eggs not battery ones!

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                • Tesco Tiger Bread / Snacks / 13 Readings / 13 Ratings
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                  30.07.2009 13:20
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                  A different type of bread with lots of uses

                  My children spotted this type of loaf several years ago in Asda and have been hooked ever since. We don't actually live near Asda so were really pleased when our Tesco store started producing Tiger Bread. Now you can buy not only Tiger Bread Loaves, but rolls and baguette type sticks as well.

                  Tiger Bread is disinctive because of the stripy texture on the top - this is made apparently by using sesame oil and painting a paste of rice flour on the top to give the stripey pattern.

                  Tiger Bread has a distinctive taste which I can only assume comes from the sesame oil used and if you manage to pick up a loaf that has just come from the ovens the aroma is wonderful. How a loaf ever makes it whole to the checkout I will never know!.

                  I like to pick the loaf that is the least brown as I think the golden colour topping holds its flavour better and it does seem to be softer.

                  The loaf itself is not easy to cut as it is soft and fluffy inside, although that may be down to my bread knife being really old!. But the taste when you do is lovely. It doesn't taste so processed as other white breads and is lovely with just butter or even on its own. It is difficult to make sandwiches with on the first day of buying as is soft.

                  The baguette type tiger bread is every bit as good and is great for pulling apart to have with pate or cheese as an informal lunch. It doesn't last long enough to slice up, although I have done this once to make a bruschetta type lunch and the distinctive taste worked well.

                  The tiger rolls make a change for packed lunches, they are slighty bigger than normal rolls and again have the distinctive topping on them.

                  All in all I would recommend Tiger Bread / Rolls or Baguette as a welcome change to ordinary shop bought white bread - it nevers appears to be any more expensive, usually around £1 a loaf, but the taste and texture is so much better.

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                  • Tesco Egg Custard Tarts / Snacks / 12 Readings / 12 Ratings
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                    30.07.2009 13:01
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                    A lovely Egg Custard Tart, perfect for any time of day

                    I love cakes and pastries but don't often buy them - however I am partial to an egg custard tart and have loved them since a child when they were a real treat.

                    I 've found that Tesco Egg Custard Tarts are the best so far if you exclude our local bakery.

                    The pastry is just the right depth - not so thick that you feel you have to chew it too much, nor to thin that you feel shortchanged. It has the right consistency that the tart is easy to get out of the silver foil holder it comes in with out breaking up, thats if you haven't picked the edging off beforehand of course. The pastry isn't so crumbly that it disentigrates nor so hard that you break your teeth on it. The base is usually slightly moist where the custard has soaked in but it doesn't go soggy!

                    The filling is creamy yellow in colour and you really do have to eat them chilled. The consistency of the filling is smooth, creamy and set, but it is not set so much that it is chewy. The topof the filling is speckled with nutmeg, which is a vital ingredient for custard tarts

                    Now custard tarts are unforuntaley not low in calories - one of these scrumptious tarts will cost you about 250 calories so eating the whole pack in one go (which I have been known to do) is probably not a good idea especially if you try to watch you weight.

                    Cost wise these are very good value - approximately 60p for a two pack or £1.10 for a 4 pack - however mor often than not they are on special offer at £1 for two two packs or £2 for two four packs. Look out for them being yellow stickered as they reach their sell by date - I've picked them up for as little as 40p for 4!

                    A lovely little tart for eating at anytime of day - not just for dessert

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                    • Kenwood TTP103 / Toaster / 27 Readings / 24 Ratings
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                      29.07.2009 20:39
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                      A reliable, cheap toaster that does all the things you want a toaster to do

                      I've had this toaster for a little while,after my previous toaster blew up (well it was second hand!). I like machinery to be simple and don;t need lots of whizzy dials and buttons for making all sorts of stuff that can be done just as easily in a grill...... so the Kenwood toaster was just what I was looking for. I also refuse to pay over the odds for something and believe me toaster prices can reach the £000's!!!.

                      Anyhow this one cost me about £20 in the local Coop Home store so not only did I get my dividend on it, I got a good basic model for very reasonable price.

                      The toaster is white with three buttons on the side that light up an interesting shade of blue! The toaster supposedly takes four slices of bread, but I've only had that happen successfully when the slices have been from a bog standard square cut loaf. Decent bread (ie bread that is not prepacked and comes in tin or bloomer shapes) is better toasted two slices at a time, or possible three is you cut one slice in half.

                      The toasting holes take varying sizes of bread and will also take crumpets and muffins, so if you like thick buttered toast or thin buttered toast this will serve you well.

                      There is a crumb tray which does what it says - it collects the crumbs that invariably fall from the bread. This slides out easily so that you can dispose of the breadcrumbs daily if you so wish.

                      This toaster has a defrost button - which I have never successfully used. The bread seems to start toasting instead of defrosting. You can reheat toast, although why you would want to do that I'm not really sure - surely the point of a toaster is to toast the bread and then eat it.

                      On to actually toasting bread, which after all is what this is designed for. There is a browning control slider on the side which you can use to set the amount of browness you want your toast to be. This is more awkward than it looks and I seem to either end up with burnt or undercooked toast. The rest of the family seem to be able to deal with it OK, so it is obviously my failing not the machines!. It is possible to lok into the top to see the elements and whether they are heating up, but don't panic if they don't appear to be bright red - it doesn;t mean they aren't working.

                      There is a second lever on the side for plunging the bread into the depths of the toaster. This can also be raised slighty on finishing to get the toast out easier ( you are not supposed to stick a knife in to pull the bread up when done as most people do!)

                      The lead can be kept as long or short as you want as it can be wound up in the base, meaning that it can be kept out of the way at the back of the worksurface so that little hands can't grab it.

                      All the usual rules apply to this electrical appliance;
                      Don't use near water
                      Don't immerse in water
                      Don't put metal objects in the toasting slots
                      Do keep out of reach of children

                      The machine is easy to keep clean - just wipe with a damp cloth on the outside and ocassionally wash the crumb tray when you empty it.

                      The only drawback I have found with this toaster is a purely personal one. I would like the controls the other way round, with the levers and buttons on the left as it would fit better on my worktop !!!

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                        28.07.2009 13:23
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                        A useful machine if kept out of the cupboard

                        We have had this smoothie maker since Christmas and use it several times a week.

                        It has a smart silver base with black buttons so looks good on the work top. The jug holds 1.8litres, although I've never filled it this full. It has three buttons, off, whizz and super whizz, so couldn't be simplier really as well as an ice button on the opposite side. The tap doesn't stick out too far so doesn't intrude on the worktop space, although it does make it harder to store in a cupboard! The jug locks into place by lining up the black and silver arrowhead and it won't work unless they are alined properly. There are two parts to the lid; a black one that must be clicked into place and then either a small clear plastic one that clicks in the middle or else the long stirrer can be fitted which helps if you are making a thick drink as it is already in place to stir the mixture if starts to clog up.

                        We mainly use it for making milkshakes rather than smoothies so don;t tend to have thicker mixtures to deal with, but the few times we have used for a smoothy it has worked reasonably well.

                        It is quite simple to make a simple drink using this machine. You basically add milk, ice and/or ice-cream and flavouring of your choice and zap it!. All sorts of combinations can be used of yogurt, ice, ice-cream, milk and fruit. I haven't used it for vegetables so don't know how it would cope with ones such as carrots, but it deals well with all sorts of fruit. It is worth reading the instruction booklet that comes with it as it does contain useful tips and hints as well as recipes.

                        You only have to zap it for 10 seconds on whizz and 5 seconds on super whizz to have a ready to go drink. As to loading the jug - this is where you have to go carefully. The tap is the one feature on this machine that is not foolproof. We have taken to holding another glass underneath the tap when pouring stuff in as the valve does not always shut tight after cleaning and needs several wiggles in either direction before you can before sure it won;t let liquid out!

                        I tend to load the jug in what ever order I feel like and it doesn't seem to make much difference to how it turns out!.

                        Cleaning the machine can be a bit of a pain as the whilst the jug detaches from the main base it is attached to the sub base which houses the connector for the motor - therefore you cannot immerse it in water to clean it !. I've found the best way to clean it is to squirt a little washing up liquid into it and then add hot water (making sure the tap is closed !) then give it a good brush with a washing up brush so you can get between the blades, open the tap and let the water out and then rinse in the same way with plenty of clean hot water. At this point I usually run some more water through and test the tap until it stops the water and then up end it to get rid of the remining water. Dry with a clean cloth and reassemble the unit ready for next time.

                        I like this machine but I wouldn't have bought one myself - my Kenwood liquidiser does the same job equally as well, but it was a worthwhile present and it does get used quite often which means that we all drink more healthily!

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                          25.07.2009 14:59
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                          A sharp, crisp juice to drink on its own or as a mixer

                          I dont particulary like fruit juices but Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice is the exception. Its the one juice that I do drink everyday at breakfast time instead of Apple or Orange that the rest of the family eat.

                          The carton hold a full litre of juice and is quite eye catching with the distinctive Ocean Spray Logo and a bunch of cranberries on the front. The new cartons are easy to open as it has a flip lid of white plastic and a small silver foil pull strip underneath. It can be difficult to pour the first glass without slipping it, but I think that tends to be the case with most cartons of drink and is not just this particular brand.

                          The drink is a deep red colour as you would expect and is transulcent rather than opaque and thick.

                          The one thing I've found is not to drink this immediatley after cleaning your teeth - the taste then is awful !! It is quite a cleansing taste - not sweet but not sour either - its quite a clean sharp taste, but is porbably an aquired taste. Neither of my children will drink it although they will happily drink orange and apple.

                          There has been much talk of the health benefits of cranberry juice and that a glass a day helps prevent things like cystisis. I don't think that this true and in fact in the last couple of weeks this has been disproved. Drinking a glass a day adds to your 5 a day total and obviously has health benefits in that respect.

                          Cranberry Juice can be used as a mixer (so I am reliably informed) with Spirits and also drunk as a long drink with the addition of ice and sparkling water or soda ( which I ahve drunk).

                          Ocean Spray not only produce Class Cranberry, but a lighter version which I actually prefer, as well as Cranberry mixed with other juices which I haven't tried.

                          This drink is a worthy rival to Orange or Apple juice and is worth a try. It is quite often on offer at major supermarkets but otherwise it retails at around £1 a litre.

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                            01.07.2009 21:46
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                            There are better places in Padstow to eat

                            The Old Ship Hotel is situated just off the quay at the Cornish town of Padstow. It is a hotel, restaurant and bar/pub. We have been there twice in the last year - once just for a drink and once to eat, so can't comment on the hotel side of this establishment.
                            There is a covered outside seating area with 12 long benches, seating about 10 at each table so it can get quite crowded, which was quite good the first time we went as it was chilly and the amount of people around warmed the place up as the overhead heaters do not appear to be very efficient. The atmosphere was jovial and there were lots of people eating. The menu looked really good, but on that occasion we had already eaten so had to forgo trying all the lovely items!
                            The second time we went intending to have tea, dinner, supper - call it what you will - there. It had been quite a hot day although there was a cold breeze and by the evening it was necessary for a lightweight jumper to be worn. At this point we were hoping that there would be lots of people filling the outside space so that it would be comfortably warm - however this was not to be. Only 3 tables had people around them, leaving 9 to choose from, none of which were under the heaters and at that point there was a stiff breeze blowing in from the quay. Not the most conducive atmosphere for seating out and eating an evening meal.
                            There is an extensive menu and a daily specials board featuring the best seasonal Cornish produce including, crab, lobster, fish, vegetables and meat. There are classic dishes, such as lasagne, fish and chips, moule mairineire, Gammon, steak as well as lighter healthier options such as salads, and baguettes.
                            We ordered, moules mairiniers, Gammon Steak and Fishermans Pie. This is when things started to go wrong. The staff had given us the menu's and we had ordered from the ones we'd been given. Unfortunately they had given us the lunchtime menu (at 7.30pm) so we then were asked to re-order. We weren't too happy about it but did choose something else and substituted the moules for squid.
                            Things got no better as the evening wore on - the service was awful - we waited well over an hour for our meals and they were mediocre to say the least when they did arrive. The staff could not come up with a decent reason for the delay, which was made worse by the fact that people that ordered after us received their meals well before we did. As to the food itself - well it was mediocre. The fish pie was just a sludge of cheesey sauce with potato on top, the fish having disentegrated completley, so I couldn;t even tell you wht fish it contain. The gammon , according to my daughter was quite leathery, although she did concede that the chips were ok. The Squid - well this looked like huge onion rings in batter and actually tasted a bit like it. It was a huge plate full of chloesterol basically. There was no discernable taste of fish to it and it came served iwth a huge mound of chips. All in all a huge disappointment as all three dished could be so brilliant if cooked well. We had moved inside by the time our food did appear, having told the staff that was what we were doing, as it had got extremely chilly outside. The bar part of the hotel was very noisy, with the ubiquitous large screens around pumping out inane music and videos.

                            All in all the experience was not a terribly enjoyable one and it may well have been that we hit the place on a bad night. The atmosphere the previous time had been completely different.

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