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Swimbabe
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Member since: 26.05.2007

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      18.06.2007 21:24
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      Setting up home in rural France, a true witty story

      The Author of C’est La Folie, Michael Wright has penned this true and very witty book based on his own real life French adventure. In the late summer of 2004 he left his comfortable existence in South London to begin a new life in rural France which included the purchase and renovation of a fifteenth century farmhouse and his transformation from townie to solitary country farmer on foreign soil. His only company to begin with was his long-suffering cat! He had a weekly column throughout this time with the Daily Telegraph Newspaper and due to the success of his column the book was born.

      A childhood dream to have sheep and chickens, to make friends in a foreign language, have manly power tools and live abroad alone became a reality after eventually finding a suitably run-down property in the middle of nowhere, the nearest town being Jolibois (not likely to be found on a map). The name of the house La Folie which translated means madness or insanity!! The seller of the house a Monsieur Zumbach a divorced Polish man whom Michael described as” looking as big as a minotaur” with “huge , hunched shoulders and a biblical beard, like a vision of Satan drawn by William Blake”. With papers signed, Michael, assisted by friend Simon and a dodgy van moves all his wordly in goods in several trips to La Folie minus his piano(which arrives at a much later stage) and his beloved private aeroplane which needs its own special home!

      The renovation of the property had been started by the previous owner Monsieur Zumbach , who pops up from time to time in the book. The property is so bad that when builders came to have a look they would all exclaim “Pas de probleme”. There was no landline telephone, no gas, no electric apart from the electric wire that ran to La Folie from another property! No mains drainage-le fosse septique of which we have a small funny chapter. At one point he feels sure the only reason the house has not fallen down is because there is so much scaffolding in it!

      Although he was isolated, he soon got to know the locals both French and English and became involved in the community even playing the organ in the church and tennis at the local tennis club. Many of the earlier encounters proved difficult and silent but his humour comes through all the time. There are too many characters to mention them all but I’ll give a few examples. The bank manager who associates London with “Tottingham Hotspur” and “Buckingham Palais”. Peter Viola the English man at the local Aerodrome who fears that Michael has come to see him from the Inland Revenue, but who later becomes Michael’s first friend. Frere Sebastien the gardening, cassockless, monk dressed in “yellow lifeboat’s anorack, sports a brilliantined fifties quaff, and has a lined face that makes him look like he probably did some hard living before he found Jesus. Neighbour Monsieur Valette with “that weird handshake, the knuckle in the palm”. The cat fight between two women at the local supermarket at Jolibois whilst buying food for his first all-French dinner party. Attempting to prise them apart was “like trying to rip the beard off a mountaineer”.

      As well as his trusty mouse catching cat from England Michael quickly learns the ups and downs, highs and lows of keeping his own animals even though he only has a few. The hens, bought for a few euros each named Mildred, Melissa, Margot, Marta, Mary and Meg plus the cockerel Titus. The eight sheep that he arranges to collect and transport in the back of his Espace (mouton mover) including the toothless Garston who despite a runny nose and bad dose of pneumonia manages to impregnate all the females. He learns the joy of discovering the first tiny brown egg to be laid even though it “tastes as about as interesting as polenta”. Life and death situations present themselves with the birth and joys of new lambs or an egg hatching into a chick even though they mostly are males! The lesson in how to kill three of his chickens from his helpful neighbour Gilles “Gilles picks up a small knife, the sort you’d use for chopping a carrot, its blade worn thin from years of sharpening. “Qu’est-ce tu f-?” I begin to ask.” The stark reality of taking his three male rams to market at Les Herolles because of the serious risk of inbreeding! He even considers dumping them in someone else’s field “ in the first known case of sheep rustling in reverse”. I won’t spoil the ensuing story suffice to say that after much negotiating he only ends up with thirty euros for all three. He asks the buyer Lorre what he intends to do with the sheep and he hisses, leering as he slices his hand violently across his throat, “I’m going to eat them”.

      I enjoyed this book very much, even though it lacks any great depth I think the humour more than makes up for this. I found this an easy read and would recommend it as a holiday read and for anyone who has an interest in France and their way of life. There are quite a lot of small French quotes in the book which I enjoyed. Romance was lacking for poor Michael as he found that all the local women seemed to be married!

      The book can be purchased in hard back(£8.99amazon) or paper back(£3.99amazon). I have the hard back version which is 446 pages and is written in memory of three of his animals that died . It is worth checking out the daily telegraph website www.telegraph.co.uk for the column.

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        17.06.2007 23:38
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        A great website to search and book your holiday apartments and villas

        Holiday-rentals.co.uk. may be the website for you if you like to book your self-catering holiday accommodation independently. It is a part of a company called Homeaway.com based in the States specialising in online vacation rentals. Their global marketplace consists of 130,000 vacation rental homes across 100 countries under various rental sites.

        # Overview #

        The website works two ways, property owners can advertise their properties here and potential holiday renters can view what is available and of interest to them and make bookings. Each property has a reference number which can be saved as a personal shortlist to go back to later.

        The opening page gives the following easy search options:
        Click on the map - for a destination and search from there, click World, Europe or North America. For example if you click Europe, everything in every European country will appear in alphabetical order and then you can click on what you are interested in. There are places there that you have probably never even thought of!

        Search for holiday homes – here all the destinations are listed once again alphabetically from Andorra to Wales. Go from there where everything in that country is shown and the search can be refined by you to destination(in that country), number of bedrooms required, number of people it will sleep, property type (apartment, house or villa) , facilities( air con., pool, internet access, dishwasher, washing machine, garden etc ) , activities ( swimming, golf, ski etc) , location ( beach , city centre, mountains, rural, town, village, resort ) and suitability ( children welcome, wheelchair accessible, suitable for elderly or infirm and pets considered) .

        Late availability searches by various country.

        New rentals – properties that have just been added to the site.

        Spotlight on – it’s Spain this week, but changes.

        Villas with pools.

        Holiday homes near golf.

        Ski Chalets and more.

        So you can see there is a wealth of search options available on this site that I find are easy to read, negotiate and you could spend a pleasant few hours browsing.

        # Properties of interest #

        When you see a property that is of interest, to find out more click on the blue view details tab and several photographs, details of the location(and a map) and how near it is to the airport, motorway and if a car is advised. The owner gives a brief description of the property just to give you a taster. A booking calendar should appear also and this will enable you to see if the dates you are interested in are available(word of caution not all advertisers keep theirs up to date) and below this a rental price tariff should be shown but I have noticed that some owners are not always up to date ! Some owners state that changeover days are flexible or fixed and this is quite important if you have already booked a flight or want to travel mid week. The accommodation and facilities of the property are then listed in a table so you are able to see at a glance if the facilities that you require are there. The list includes property type, accommodation type, floor area, theme, general, kitchen, living room, dining room, bathrooms, bedrooms, entertainment, outside, swimming pools suitability, local activities and notes (certainly worth a read as may include things that incur and extra charge!). Below all this there may be more extra details and then the all important form to contact the owner if you have an interest and want to make a booking or find out more.

        # Making an enquiry / booking #

        Use the form at the bottom of the details page entitled make an enquiry. Just fill in the basic details required such as name, email, telephone, required dates and other queries you may have regarding the property. The advertiser’s name and telephone number is shown here if you need it. When you have sent the enquiry you will receive an email in response from holiday-rentals letting you know that your enquiry has been forwarded to the owner. Just keep an eye on your emails for a reply which is usually fairly speedy and should certainly be within 24 hours. When the owner gets back to you they should confirm your dates, prices, conditions and how to make the formal booking. This now becomes a transaction between the two parties. If what you had requested was not available they should still reply and may even come up with another property or offer you different dates.

        # My experience/advice/tips #

        I find searching this site easy and enjoyable and it is possible as with may websites to spend more time on there than you mean to!! The searching is easy and you can tailor it to suit your own personal requirements. There is also a facility for saving your favourites to a shortlist and it is also worth joining the email newsletter as this often has special offers.

        Two years ago I made a booking for an apartment in Calahonda , Costa del Sol Spain via this website and it was highly successful. The owner agreed the dates and sent me a booking form by email which I filled in and sent to him with a 10% deposit and paid the remainder six weeks prior to travel. At this stage he confirmed details for keys which was straight forward enough, all I had to do was phone the key holder from Malaga airport to let her know we were on our way and she met us at the apartment and showed us where things were etc and just to contact her if there was a problem of which there were none! We had a great holiday there and have booked with the same person again for this summer through the website.

        Be wary of a few things though….many of the owners(of the Spanish properties and this probably applies elsewhere) are either not flexible with their changeover days preferring Saturdays or say they are but when it comes to school holidays they are not. I found this very frustrating when searching this year as we wanted to travel outside of the weekend as the flights are cheaper and Malaga airport and its car hire are a nightmare at weekends. Having said that some of the owners offered other options such as other properties or dates. The other advice is to look for extra charges such as cleaning, laundry or electricity as some add this on at the end and it could considerably increase the price of your rental compared to one that included everything in the original rental price. There is plenty of helpful advice on the help pages. What I am not sure about is what happens if your holiday goes badly wrong-there is probably a disclaimer hidden there somewhere as the site is really just an advertiser.

        If you don’t mind doing the booking of flights and accommodation yourself I think you generally get a better deal on accommodation this way than with a tour operator package for example if you are a party of four they always try to put you in a one bed apartment so two poor people have to sleep on a put me up! If you want more bedrooms you have to pay a silly supplement. Think about it. At least you can get the bedrooms you need with no supplement this way.

        # For owners #

        Just a little info for anyone thinking of registering their property here. The price for one year is £155 and includes four large colour photos, 27 searchable property features, customised map and availability features and free SMS alerts for email enquiries. There is a whole host of other services offered to owners that would just take to long to go into here. If you are interested just click the Advertisers button for more.

        # Finally #

        The website address is http://www.holiday-rentals.co.uk/index.cfm. Take a look and see what you think. I would certainly recommend it.

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          01.06.2007 19:14
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          Hamburger Union where the service is fast and the burgers are healthier

          Whilst on a short break in London recently my family and I were looking for somewhere to eat in the West end and came across HAMBURGER UNION in Garrick Street, Covent Garden. None of us are great fans of burger "joints" but decided that we would give it a try, as from the outside it looked modern and clean and although busy not bursting at the seams as some place are up there. Also it was great to go somewhere "non smoking".

          On entering it reminded us of restaurants in America, you order everything (food and drinks) at the counter, pay and then proceed into the main eating area and place your order number on the table for the server to see.

          The seating area was clean and the seating was mainly stool type and tables were of varying sizes so if you were on a long table you could end up with other people. It was bright and spacious and you could look out at the world passing by whilst resting your feet and enjoying your meal.

          We didn't wait long at all for the food and the server came back after a while to make sure that everthing was ok. This restaurant is in an excellent position for all the West End Theatres and you can be sure that if you want to fit a decent meal in before a show that it will be served promptly, which is more than can be said for some of the places around there.

          Now, the menu(most important)
          Burgers

          The Union Burger with ketchup, mayo, red onion and lettuce £3.95
          Cheeseburger with ketchup, mayo, red onion and lettuce £4.50
          Monterey Jack Cheeseburger with ketchup, mayo, red onion and lettuce £5.00
          Bacon Cheeseburger with smoked streaky bacon, ketchup, mayo, red onion and lettuce £5.50
          Monterey Jack & Bacon Cheeseburger with smoked streaky bacon, ketchup, mayo, red onion and lettuce £6.00
          Chorizo Sausage with olive oil, piquillo pepper and rocket £4.95
          Barn reared Chicken Sandwich rosemary, lemon and thyme marinade, tomato, lettuce and mayo £5.95
          Fillet Steak grilled to order with English or French mustard or horseradish, tomato and lettuce £6.95
          Vegetarian
          Citrus Marinated Halloumi chargrilled with red onion, piquillo pepper, beetroot and rocket £4.95
          Field Mushrooms chargrilled field mushrooms, garlic butter, tomato, red onion and lettuce £4.95
          Vegetable Sausage Pattie chargrilled with ketchup, mayo, lettuce, and red onion £4.95

          Extras
          Tomato, Red Onion, Lettuce 20p each
          Piquillo Pepper, Whole Dill Pickle, 95p each
          Cooked Beetroot, Sliced Pickle, Rocket50p each
          American Cheese 95p
          Monterey Jack Cheese £1.45 Bacon £1.10
          Mushrooms £2.50
          Halloumi Cheese £2.95
          Caramelised Onions 95p

          Side orders
          Chips - Proper chips£2.25 Mixed Salad - House Dressing £2.95 Coleslaw £1.95

          Milk shakes, malts & desserts
          Milk Shakes £2.95, Malts £3.25 Choose from Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry or Banana
          Ice Cream - 3 scoops £2.95 - Choose from Vanilla, Chocolate or Strawberry

          Cold drinks
          Coca Cola, Diet Coke, 7Up, Fanta £1.65
          Ginger Beer £1.95
          Freshly squeezed orange juice £2.50 Chegworth Valley pressed apple Juice £2.50
          Chegworth Valley pressed pear Juice £2.50
          Mineral Water £1.2

          Hot drinks
          Hot Chocolate £1.75
          Cappuchino £1.75
          Latte £1.75 Espresso £1.25
          Double Espresso £1.45
          Macchiato £1.45 Americano £1.10
          Teas 95p
          Herbal Tea 95p

          Wines Glass
          175ml Bottle
          750ml
          Red Wine
          Trivento Shiraz Malbec £3.50 £11.95
          Ribera Del Duero Tempranillo £4.25 £14.95
          White Wine
          Trivento Viognier £3.75 £12.95
          Pinot Grigio Pasqua £4.25 £14.9

          Beer
          Pilsner Urquell £2.95 Hook Norton Best Bitter £3.25

          Cocktail Shakes
          Baileys, Tia Maria or Crème de Menthe Shakes £3.95

          There are both vegetarian options and diet options within the menu. For dieters you can choose to have the burger "protein Style" between lettuce. Also for those that are really hungry you can order your burger as a double by adding £3 for the meat or £2.50 for the vegetarian one.

          I chose the union burger and asked not to have the onion and mayo and it came exactly as I had ordered and it really was very nice and tasty. My husband had the Monterey Jack Cheesburger and the girls had the Barn reared chicken sandwich which looked very nice. We all enjoyed our meal very much.

          The company state that all the burgers are made on the premises from naturally reared , grass fed or free range meats and then chargrilled. You can either eat "in" or "take away". The chips are fresh not frozen and very chunky and tasty too. We found that two portions between the four of us sufficient. The company also have a policy of not using hydrogenated vegetable oil.

          There are five other restaurants in the chain in London:
          23/25 Dean Street Soho
          341 Upper Street Islington
          1 South End Road Hampstead
          64 Tottenham Court Road
          3-5 Charing Cross Road

          Check out their website www.hamburgerunion.com

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          • More +
            29.05.2007 21:32
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            Brand new shopping experience for Plymouth City Centre

            The Drake Circus Shopping Mall opened in the heart of Plymouth in October 2006 following months of the city centre looking and feeling like a massive building and construction site (which it was!). It replaced a crumbling old shopping complex which was totally razed to the ground to make way for the new one. There has been much local discussion about the outer architectural appearance of the Mall but I won’t go into that here, suffice to say that everyone has their own opinion and it always makes for a good debate.

            The Location/How to get there etc.

            Situated in the heart of Plymouth City Centre.
            Buses- served well by all local services and Park and Ride from two locations on the outskirts of town.
            Plymouth Bus Station (not the nicest of places-avoid unless there is an emergency!!!) 5 minutes walk.
            Trains- Plymouth Railway Station 10 minutes walk.
            Plymouth University – only 1 minute (good for a sneaky shop between lectures).
            Parking- Car Park (Covered) top floor. 1270 spaces. A “Pay on foot” system operates by taking a ticket on arrival and on leaving you pay at one of the pay stations by card or cash. Charges as follows: Up to 1 hr £1.10, 1-2hrs £2.20, 2-3hrs £3.30, 3-4hrs £4.40, 4-5hrs £5.50, 5-6hrs £6.60 and over 6hrs £12.00. This could become expensive!!! It is convenient though as the car park leads straight into the Restaurant area and there are lifts and escalators to all areas from here. Also direct access to the Marks and Spencer top floor.

            The Shops

            These are spread over the lower two floors with upper floor housing the Car Parks, Restaurant Court and Toilets plus one local electrical store ETS(white goods and audio and audio visual goods).

            The main flagship stores are at either end of the mall, Marks and Spencer (all departments from home-food hall on four floors) and Primark which has proved to be the most popular shop so far in the mall and is on two floors.

            Here is a list of the stores apart from those mentioned above: Drakes Jewellers, Hotel Chocolate(yummy but expensive), Clinton Cards, Virgin, Carphone Warehouse, Fraser Hart Jewellers, H&M, 02, Game, Build a Bear(always very busy), Billabong, Waterstones including Costa Coffee within, Boots(not as good as we had before-too many makeup counters at the expense of everything else), New Look, Mothercare(too small), Claire’s Accessories(always too small)The Perfume Shop, Dr China(Chinese medicines), Pine and Oak World, Next (two floors and sell all ranges), “3” Store, Sole Trader, Jane Norman(nice but small), Office, Oasis, Schuh, La Senza, Parchment, Wallis, Monsoon, Faith, Bershka, Zara, Coast, Republic, River Island, Lush, Passion for Perfume, Storm and a small convenience store of which the name escapes me.

            Eating and Drinking

            Marks and Spencers have two coffee shops one on the lower mall near the entrance with very easy access and one on the top floor of their store.
            Waterstones have a Costa Coffee in their store on the lower mall.
            Starbucks is situated on the lower mall adjacent to Primark.
            BBs Coffee and Muffins (also ice creams) is on the upper mall floor but is hidden away near the stair well which is a shame and as there are no windows it’s a bit dull inside. However, the coffee and food is good and reasonably priced.
            The Restaurant Court level at the top houses Spud U Like, Burger King, Juice Moose and Café Curva (meals as well as coffees etc can be purchased here and there are panoramic views from the windows here. Just ignore the police station view!).

            Other Info

            There are two sets of toilets (both including disabled ones), one on the lower floor and one on the Restaurant Court level. The toilets on the Restaurant Court level are by far the best and cleanest and there are loads of them. The lower level ones in my opinion are not so nice and there always seems to be a big queue there.

            The Drake Circus mall have their own staff to help people( security, cleaning etc) and they all wear a uniform suit including a purple tie and identifiaction and are very helpful. Also touch screen information points on all levels and leaflets with maps available from these points.

            Wheelchairs and power scooters are available for hire from the Plymouth Shopmobility scheme.

            I have covered as much as I can about the place but what do I think about it? It is a pleasant place to shop for sure especially if you like clothes and shoe shopping. However, there is really not the mix of shops that you get in a town centre, for example there is no major newsagent apart from the small convenience store and not a lot in the way of home wares. The other problem is that a lot of the shops have simply relocated from the town centre itself and left large retail gaps in the town that are not yet filled. I also think that there should be more seating about the place for people just to rest their weary legs! As with many malls it can sometimes seem a bit “airless” inside and it is not a pleasant feeling at all. All in all though it is a lovely modern place where it is very easy to spend a few hours shopping. Why not give it a visit.

            Drakes Circus Shopping Centre
            1 Charles Street
            Plymouth PL1 1EA
            www.drakecircus.com
            01752 223030

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            28.05.2007 21:18
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            A great stay at the Holiday Inn Bloomsbury only two tube stops to the West End

            My family and I recently stayed at the Holiday Inn Bloomsbury London from Wed 11th-Sun15th April 2007 on a three day advance deal with full breakfast included. We were two adults and two children and it cost £116 on the Wed and Thurs Nights and £107 the Frid and Sat nights. On arrival we were upgraded at no extra charge to an executive room on the top(6th) Floor. I am a Priority Club member (register free for this on www.priorityclub.com) so maybe this helped with the upgrade. Check in was 2pm and even though we arrived an hour earlier we were allocated the room straight way.

            Where this hotel wins hands down is its LOCATION in the Russell Square area just a couple of minutes from the tube(2stops + to the West End) and a pleasant 10-15 minute walk to the West End. The local surroundings were pleasant with a shopping centre including a Sushi Bar, Waitrose, Juice bar, Carluccios coffeebar/restaurant and clothes shops. Behind the hotel was a 24 hour Tesco stocking all the essentials at reasonable prices. Russell Square park was lovely with a cafe and fountains and good outdoor space. There was a busy pub opposite and the Hotel had its own Callaghans Irish pub which looked nice although I did not try it out. Apart from the traffic not too noisy for London.

            Back to the hotel which is set on six floors serviced by three lifts(talking ones!) which were quick, efficient and working for the whole of our stay. We did experience the stairs on our first night at about midnight when the fire alarm went off and we had to evacuate to the front of the Hotel. Be under no illusion that when that alarm goes off you will know about it! We had just dropped off to sleep and to be honest it was so loud we had no option but to get out! There was no fire but the Fire brigade came quickly and we were soon allowed back in.

            The room was spacious with a queen bed and double sofa bed both with nice duvets and pillows all lovely and clean and crisp white. Inside the door was a large wardrobe with plenty of shelf and hanging space plus trouser press,ironing board and iron. TV with digital clock, mini bar(pricey and take care not to remove anything or you will be charged),complimentary tea/coffee/hot chocolate/bottle of mineral water and kitkat chunky. Two white towelling robes and a pair of slippers were for our use also. Inside the pocket of one of the towelling robes was a note saying that if you wished to purchase the robe at the end of your stay the extra on your bill would be £35.00!!!

            A spacious modern bathroom contained plenty of clean white fluffy towels(changed each day) and complimentary items of soap, shower gel, shampoo, body lotion, shoe shine, emery board, sewing kit and shower cap. The only problem was that although the basin taps had plenty of hot and cold water the flow through the bath taps was a pathetic trickle so you had to think in advance to fill the bath and of course the shower was not "power". May have been on low pressure to save water but didn't spoil our stay at all.

            The restaurant was on the ground floor and was open for breakfast, lunch Mon-Frid and dinner in the evenings. We only used it for Breakfast which was excellent and buffet style. Hot and cold items including many different boxes of cereals, croissants, mini danish(two kinds), fresh bread, sliced bread for toast(do it yourself), butter, preserves, fresh beautifully prepared fruits including oranges , grapefruits, melon, pineapple, mango, apple/pear compote, berry compote, yoghurt, bacon, sausages, baked beans, black pudding, hash browns, mushrooms, eggs scrambled or fried and tomatoes. All very very nice and hot drinks served at the table and topped up for you. Fruit juices were self serve. The restaurant was spacious, modern and comfortable.

            There was car parking below at I believe about £17 per day which we didn't use as we arrived by train. There was a Fitness first Gym that was free 8-12 noon outside the front of the hotel and down stairs or lift. Room service 24 hours. Hotel mostly air- conditioned (our room was but we had the window open instead).

            We really enjoyed our stay at this well positioned hotel which was clean, friendly and welcoming. Go for it. www.london-bloomsbury.holiday-inn.com

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              27.05.2007 21:11
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              A very enjoyable stay at a central Bristol hotel

              My family and I stayed at this hotel for one night last October half term. I had priced up the one night on the internet but wondered if there was any way of getting it at a lower price so I decided to phone the reservations department at the hotel direct, resulting in a slightly better deal. £84.00(saved about £5). This was for a family room and included breakfast for four of us. We find it a better deal than a travel lodge or Inn as the breakfast is usually extra in those places and the rooms are not so spacious.

              The hotel is situated on a very busy road and even though our room was at the front the noise didn't bother us as the windows were very well glazed. There was also air conditioning in the room so in the summer you wouldn't need to open the windows. Of course there was heating for the winter too. The room was a family size and comprised a queen sized double bed and a large sturdy double sofa bed for the children which they found comfortable. A television with a welcome screen and various extra channels such as Sky news, plus the usual terrestrial ones was included. A modem plug was there plus a table that would swing out to become a desk meaning that for those on business a lap top could be used comfortably.

              The very nice en suite bathroom had a very clever internal door that could make the toilet separate to the bathroom if you wished. That is very useful if four of you are sharing and this seems to be a feature of Novotel bathrooms. There were nice white fluffy towels and hotel size shower gel, shampoo, soap and a shower cap included. Plenty of hot water and a decent shower over the bath. Well lit, plenty of mirrors and piped television from the room!

              Just inside the room was a unit with shelves and hanging space and also a mini fridge and kettle/hospitality tray. The contents of the fridge were very pricy to say the least ie Chunky Kit Kat £1 ! Considering there was a mini market just across the road we didn't bother . The tray had the usual tea , coffee (reg and decaf) , sugar, sweetener, milks and also a couple of sachets of instant hot chocolate and a couple of twin packets of shortbreads.

              The only leisure facility was a gym on the top floor and as you had to ask for the key we didn't bother to see what it was like. Pity there was no pool.

              Downstairs there was a lovely wide open area with comfortable contemporary seating and a large reception desk and leaflets about the area. The rest of the downstairs was a large bar area and then the restaurant beyond. Bar meals and drinks are available all day and evening from the bar and the restaurant was open for breakfast , lunch and dinner. There was 24 hour room service with a menu in the room. The breakfast was a typical Novotel one! A table is allocated to you and they bring you the hot drinks to the table so no queuing at machines here. Then it is buffet style including fruit juice, hot breakfast items like bacon, eggs, sausages, tomatoes, mushrooms, hash browns, continental items such as croissants, pastries, toast(make it at the machine), fruits , yoghurts and cheese. As much as you can eat! Very good indeed. The lunch and dinner menu looked nice if a little pricey but we chose to eat in the town.

              This hotel is very near the main railway station ( 5 Mins walk), the town(10 mins) and the docks (10-15mins). Very convenient and as the name suggests a central location. Plenty of restaurants and pubs within a 10-15 min walk.

              The downside if you have a car is that 24 hr parking underneath the hotel is £5 payable at the hotel desk, but it was in a safe place and there was a lift direct from the car park level up to the reception area. The entrance from the road was not that easy to see especially if you don't know the area so take care when entering.

              All in all I would use this hotel again as it was clean , the staff were friendly and helpful , the food was good and the room was very nice and comfortable

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              • Zanussi ZENB2725 / Fridge / 29 Readings / 28 Ratings
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                26.05.2007 21:03
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                Frost free fridge/freezer that I am very pleased with despite having back luck with my first one

                I decided recently that it was time to replace my 26 year old separate fridge and freezer with something more energy efficient and "frost Free". It was decided that a combined Fridge/Freezer would fit the bill.

                I proudly took delivery of my Zanussi ZENB 2725 from my local Co- Operative department store, on the Tuesday and at the same time for a small fee they took the old ones away.

                All was going well and I was very pleased with it .....UNTIL....the following Monday morning, less than one week after its delivery, the light in the fridge went out. I thought perhaps it was just the bulb...that was optimistic..the whole appliance had failed on me. What bad luck after having the old ones for 26 years and never spending any money on them except for one small light bulb. The store agreed to compensate me for the food that had to be thrown away(there was a lot)and swap the faulty one for a new one on the Thursday(earliest they could do it).

                I was glad when Thursday arrived, as you can imagine, but unfortunately the delivery van only had instructions to take the faulty one away and had no new one on the van for me. I was not happy as we are a family of four and managing without was getting difficult! The problem was sorted and eventually the new , working one arrived on the Saturday to my relief .

                As I was going on holiday a few days later I was worried that the same would happen again but it has been fine so far(about three weeks now).

                As I mentioned this appliance is "Frost Free" both for the Fridge and the Freezer so it only requires a wipe out now and again. Things like bread slices don't seem to stick together and you have to be careful with ice cubes as I found when taking the tray out that they flew everywhere! Perhaps investing in a covered ice tray would be best as the one that came with it was the normal kind.

                All very easy to operate with a cool air flow slider in the fridge and a pilot light/conrol outside at the top. The instructions explain how these should be operated depending on the ambient temperature.

                The Fridge has three glass shelves that can be positioned how you like, one is full size and the other two are half size. The door has the usual bottle shelf below which has rubber flaps to stop the bottles rattling around. Above is a small shelf ideal for cheese etc and above that a compartment with a clear door that lifts for storage , ideal for eggs for which a removable holder with a handle is supplied. Two nice deep salad drawers are postitioned at the bottom and just slide in and out and I find these ideal for all sorts of things apart from salad! A light in the fridge comes on when you open the door.

                The Freezer houses four nice deep pull out perspex trays that are clear which helps with identifying what is where. To fast freeze fresh food the temperature controls can be altered and full instructions are in the leaftlet that came with it. No light in freezer compartment.

                There is a little noise at times when the appliance is defrosting itself but its comforting to know its working!

                Specifications:
                Height 172 cm
                Width 55cm
                Depth 62.5cm
                Average daily usage 0.915kWh
                Capacity Net Fridge 1341
                Capacity Net Frezer 901
                Energy A rated

                I paid £359 for the Fridge/Freezer and as I had bought it locally at least it was easy enough to sort out the problem I had. Guaranteed for one year. It can be registered by phone, post or they say via the website www.zanussi-electrolux.co.uk. I tried to register on the website but that was not to be as the item was not listed there! Yet the website states that it is so easy to register on-line and I was not impressed. After complaining to them about it they promised to sort it out.

                Overall I am very pleased to be "Frost Free" and my "A" rated appliance is using quite a lot less power than my old ones did.

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