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We've been staying at Sussex Beach for a weekend or two each year and often for whole weeks at a time. We have enjoyed the benefits of an aunt who leased a chalet for a few years. Our children enjoyed the park which has steadily improved each year, with a good outdoor swimming pool and the recent additional of a shallow area for young children. The tennis courts are ingood condition although the location can be a little windy. plenty of safe areas for children to play. Best of all, it's a quiet site, equally welcoming of families and older people. The site benefits from a significant proportion of long term leases and generally people respect the site and your privacy. Some of the chalets are ageing but the site owners are steadily upgrading them and installing decking to increase the usable floor area for most chalets. Beach is quite stoney and except at low tide doesn't have much sand. Long pleasant beach walks are possible in both directions along a nice piece of coastline. Site would benefit from a better shop, but it would probably need more regular customers.
Just a short review. The Ryanair website is like the Ryanair service - simple and effective with a few gaps.
They've changed their baggage handling arrangements since we last flew. When booking you have to say how many checked bags you will take. We boked two flights this weekend but were unsure. For the first one we selected one checked bag each and were charged for 2 at £2.50 each. We read the small print before booking the second and concluded that one checked bag was included in the proice, so we selected NONE second time round and got - none. Has anybody worked out how to do the "normal" thing and book one bag each to go into the hold? If so, please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org!
I'd wanted a digital camera for years, but couldn't really justify buying one because I could usually borrow one from work. So when I changed jobs, this semed the obvious thing to buy with the cash from my leaving gift. I'd been looking for weeks and decided that the best I could afford was a Fuji Finepix until we made a short trip abroad on a budget airline. We say the camera in Dixons at Stanstead airport and the purchase of a magazine quickly comapred that at £250 I was getting a bargain. Apart from price, two things prompted me to choose this camera. The first was the brand name which I regard as synonymous with solid family values (and not just because my Dad used to work for them!). The second was the zoom lens. Forget the digital zoom claims of digital camera manufacturers - they have no vlaue in terms of picture quality because you can do all the digital zooming you want when you get the image onto the PC. No, real zoom is what the lens does for you, and with a magnification of 10x you can really see the action. This model is the "prosumer" shape - it means it's more of a cube than a conventional camera but this also means it balances nicely in your hand. Controls are easy to use and within simple reach, except for the dial on the rear which is a bit fiddly if you haven't got thumb nails. The camera makes a reassuring shuttr sound when you take the picture, but for those who don't need such traditional prompts the sound does turn off. You can choose between the conventional viewfinder or the large colour display on the back. The camera doesn't come with a case so I've taken the precaution of fitting a screen protector on the back. You'll probably want to buy a camera bag to hold the charger, mini tripod and all the other accessories you quickly accumulate. Most of the controls are intuitive but it does help to read the instruction booklet (I found it useful enough to warrant prin
ting the whole thing out - the original comes as a PDF file on disk). My pictures improved once I took the trouble of finding out what all the controls do. Kodak have ben a bit skimpy with the internal memory (16mb) so its worth investing a bitmore in a large capacity SD card (it cost me £40 for a 128mb card which will hold all the pictures I'm likely to take between visits to the computer). Like all modern digital camera it will also take video clips and record soundbites and you can link it to the PC as a webcam or plug directly into the TV to view your pictures and video straightaway. This camera was the same price as the one I used to borrow, but in the five years between them the technololgy has moved ahead miles. I won't be using conventional film anymore because the picture quality on this comes close to ordinary Kodak film at 2megapixels, but when you take pictures at full 4mp quality they're exceptional. Sports pictures turn out nice and sharp, landscapes have good colour balance, portraits are really sharp (too sharp if you're trying to hide spots) and that's just using the pre-defined settings. If you know how to work a camera properly this little baby will keep you entertained all day.
Well it's three years since anybody wrote a review on this telephone and that's because it's long since been replaced by the Sony Ericsson P800 and now the P900. I discovered the R380s by chance when I was browsing ebay. At the time of writing decent P800s from reputable vendors are fetching £200 on ebay and the P900 usaully fetches twice that. So I decided Icouldn't afford and I was browsing for a mobile telephone which could do much more than make telephone calls ..... and I found it in the R380s. I paid £30 on ebay and that's about the going rate in March 2004 for a handset that's in good-as-new condition. For your money you get a large but lightweight telephone which looks like a telephone, works like a telephone and sits comfortably in the hand. But it also has all the functions of a basic PDA, links to your PC and talks to Microsoft Outlook so that you can carry a large address book around with you and synchronise it daily with your email and address book. You can send email messages as well as simple SMS texts, and of course you can receive them. The stylus fits neatly into the battery (so neatly that it took me three days to realise where it was!) but the icons are clear and well set-out so that you can operate them with a thumb for easy look-up of numbers. Four years ago you would have paid over ten times the price for this telephone, and its qualities reflect that heritage. It's not the latest must-have toy but it will do me fine for a couple of years until you can pick up P800s at give-away prices.
We visited Stockholm in the summer of 2003 - you'll remember it as a very hot one and we visited Stockholm in the hottest week. It was our first family trip abroad and we went with the benefit of a brother and sister-in-law who have lived there for a few years. Stockholm and Sweden in general are everything you expect them to be. Think of a few Sweidsh products - Volvo, Ikea, Ericsson etc. - and all have an excellent reputation. The capital city is the same. It has an excellent Metro system - fast, frequent, clean and easy to navigate. Make sure you buy one of their cards for multiple journeys as this works out cheaper than paying for individual journeys. Don't worry about language difficulties since the locals have taken the trouble to learn English in recognition of our unwillingness to learn their language. Our 8 year old realised that "Tack" (Swedish for thanks) and a smile usually sufficed. Sweden has a reputation for being heavily taxed but shop prices are generally reasonable. However they believe drinking in public to be bad and charge an arm and a leg for alcoholic drinks when you eat out (but retail alcohol in the supermarkets at a good price). You'll want a good guidebook and the "Rough Guide to Sweden" was more than adequate for us (although we shouldn't undersetimate the value of my brother's local knowledge). We'd recommend a visit to Skansen - a museum of Swedish traditions. Make sure you take a boat trip or two around the city, either as a means of getting from A to B or as an end in its own right. The Viking ship does good tours at a reasonable price and we'd recommend the on-board catering. Spend some time in Gamla Stan (Old Town) which is also where you'll find the tourist shops. During our stay we even went to visit a beach (imported gritty sand but superb clear lake water) on the outskirts of the city. This was typical of the Swedish planning - they really
know how to make the socialist ideal work - and wherever you turn they have laid on facilities for the common good. We found a string of three beaches within 1km each with designated bathing areas and lifeguards and pontoons and diving boards which kept our children and those twice their age entertained for hours (literally) Flying Ryanair from Stansted made this a ridiculously cheap holiday - retrn flights for a family with 3 children only cost twice as much as the Stansted car park!
After the neighbour had complained every time we had a bonfire (even on November 5th) we decided to look for an altrnative way of handling the green waste from our large garden. My parents have used a shredder before but found it made a lot of noise and blunted quickly. Our Bosch is a different beast altogether. Advertised as a quiet product it does exactly what it says on the box. We've been using it for two years now and whilst the heavy usage has taken away the initial sharpness it stills has no problem in tackling sticks and green shoots thicker than its advertised maximum. It's not quite so clever with very mushy green shoots and can clog up, even below the grinders. Strategic assistance with a wooden stick can clear this and we find it best to chop the softer stuff first keeping back the woody material for later or using it to clear any blockages on the way. The ground material has kept our compost heap warm and it rots away surprisingly quickly. See if you can get some conifer hedge trimmings to shred last and you'll even create an aromatic compost heap! Ideally you'll buy three buckets for use with the shredder so that you can be carrying two bucketfuls to the compost heap whilst the shredder chews its way through a long item - alternatively get an extension lead so that the shredder can work near the compost heap. Shop around for prices - we found ours £80 cheaper in Safeway than other stores were selling it for at the time (and were even honest enough to check with the store that it was correctly priced).
Our ice cream maker was a Christmas present and we have got through gallons of double cream during the first year. Having taken a while to get to know the basics, the ice cream maker is one of the easiest appliances to use at home. We found the recipe book was a little short on ideas so surfed the eb and raided WH Smith for a few more ideas. Most useful of all was the recipe made with egg whites. Nowadays we make two batches together - one using the egg white which can be frozen immediately after mixing up whilst the other is made with egg yokes which have to be heated to make a custard and allowed to cool overnight and in the fridge. The ice cream maker is well made and appears to be more robust than it first looked. There is an irritating little socket in the rim which tends to fill with ice and has to be chipped open to enable the churner to operate. We find that to freeze the ice cream well you have to leave the freezer on fast freeze for a couplke of hours before using the ice cream maker and this makes the other things in the freezer (including previous batches of ice cream) too solid. The ice cream maker comes into its one for some speciality ice creams, like my vanilla and strawberry recipe which contains chunks of strawberry. This only really works for freshly churned ice cream and doesn't tast anywhere near as good once the strawberry chunks have frozen. Don't be afraid to experiment. Our family favourite is almond ice cream, made with plenty of almond essence. Go one - give it a try, but watch out for your waistline.
August 2001 - placed order for 3 piece suite in Courts Milton Keynes. September 2001 - delivery (6 weeks after order as promised) - delivery driver spots mark and reports it to store. That evening in artificial light we spot huge mark and report to store. October 2001 - After 10 telephone calls and 2 letters service engineer visits, removes the marks identified by the delivery driver and identifies the larger marks as being pressure marks caused by tape or an object and recommends replacement of the cushion - store manager agrees. December 2001 and January 2002 - 4 further telephone calls and 2 further letters fail to identify why the replacement cushion has not been supplied, but store manager volunteers that after this period of time getting a shade match would be difficult and offers to replace the whole suite. March 2002 - 7 further telephone calls and 3 further letters reveal that store manager has left without notice period and they have no records of my problems. UK Customer Services refer the matter to a man in the store who describes himself as "Mr Invisible". The best offer he can make is a repeat of the January one with no guarantees, faster delivery period or compensation for the costs incurred in pursuing. Realise that their best offer is inferior to what they would offer a new customer walking through the doors of the store (new customers would get a year's interest free credit - we are over half way through that period). Decide to cut our losses and reject the goods. Before we walked through the doors of Courts, we had a worn out suite. After 6 months aggravation, faulty goods and faulty customer service we start again with another supplier knowing that until they can deliver we will have no suite. Thank you Courts.