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angusreid

angusreid
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Member since: 08.04.2001

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    • 1and1.co.uk (1 & 1) / Internet Site / 20 Readings / 13 Ratings
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      06.04.2012 09:38
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      better off with a carrier pigeon.

      Need a website? Affordable, easy to manage? We have just the thing, sir. Follow me. Picture this evil cackling man in a long black cloak, rubbing his hands together in a similar way that the child catcher in Chitty Chitty bang bang and you have the salesman from 1 and 1 summed up perfectly. What a terrible company! I took out a 30 day trial to trya dn open a website with an aim to make it an ecommerce site but they failed to meet my criterea for customer support and simplicity so after 4 attempts to laod a cart with their "customer help" I gave up and sent them a message saying I did not want to carry on. 2 weeks after I had canceled the tril, they took £71 from my paypal account. Luckily Paypal refunded me straight away but I was fuming. It was meant to be an £18 a month deal even if I did keep it. Next I receive a letter saying I owed over £100 so I called their service people and they said I had not and could not cancel. Erm, I have, I can and I will. I will not be bullied by a sales team who think they can just take money from people and expect them to bow down to threats of collections companies and debt recovery. Despite 3 emails to them they say none were within the 30 day trial and I had agreed to a 12 month contract. I told them I messaged your customer support team through the online messaging system to cancel but they seem to think you can't just cancel a contract by canceling a contract! Again, I told them that I did not cancel a contract, I canceled a 30 free trial. I know what is going to happen now, debt recovery etc but as with 3 when they refused to cancel my account because I could not remember the postcode I had when I took the contract out, I am happy to take these rip off, conmen to court and defend myself as I think too many companies do this and it is nothing short of criminal in my eyes. I really would think long and hard before dealing with these people.

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      • ebid.co.uk / Auction / 29 Readings / 26 Ratings
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        14.02.2012 16:52
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        Very cheap and easy way to sell goods, eventually.

        Has it really been nearly 6 years since my last review? You probably don't know me by now, (That should be a song title...) but I am older, wiser and much more cynical than I use to be. (insert smiley here) Ebid is an auction site which lives in the shadow of her great rival, Ebay. If you know your way around Ebay, then you know your way around Ebid. Ebid is more difficult to search but not to the point of off-putting, you just have to use your head with search words. Categories are very similar but more personal and the forums on Ebid are much friendlier than the bitchy Ebay know-it-all forumites, but not as entertaining. Adding products is also an easy procedure, similar to Ebay but half the time. It is free to join but you can pay a one off fee of £50 within 24 hours of joining (although it never seems to go) and have lifetime membership with 5 shops and many small benefits which help a lot. Best thing about this is that if you are an Ebay business such as myself, you can download all your listings through Turbo Lister and then upload them to Ebid via Ninja Lister which saves a load of time. There are often a few gliches though so you have to wade through them to sort out the minor points but hey, it is free, is it not? Speaking of free, that's what it costs to list an item, NOTHING! This suits people who are more craft or rare items and those selling cheap items such as the 99p shop on there. (Not the High Street Shop but someone with the same idea.) Sales are slower than Ebay, thats for sure, but my £200 a month bill just to list items on Ebay is quite steep and the same items on Ebid cost me NIL, ZILCH, ZERO, NOUGHT, NOWT and NOTHING per month so even if I sell 20 to 1 ratio with Ebay, it is not really a massive concern and it gets me much more recognition out there plus adds new ways to pay, such as Google Checkout and PPPcom etc. I would not join Ebid to make money quickly but if you are sitting on items which don't sell overnight, you coud do a lot worse with them than put them on a free auction site with the outside chance someone will buy it one day. I prefer Ebay for selling but Ebid is much nicer, friendly and easier to deal with and sales do come eventually.

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          19.08.2006 13:03
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          Possibly the best scented candles you can ever use.

          Back in April, Sherry my better half mentioned she had placed an order with Yankee Candles and purchased a large stand to display them in our shop. Well, I looked at the brochure and turned to her and said “We will never sell these!” Big mistake, huge! I am constantly made to eat my words on a daily basis as we now have 4 large stands and a centre spinning stand and almost half our daily take is from Yankee Candles. So just so Sherry can look smug once more, I was wrong. What is Yankee Candle? Well, some young chap called Mike Kittredge made his mother a candle by melting wax crayons into a milk carton. The idea caught on quickly with people buying these candles from the young chap and over the next thirty years Yankee became the premier candle in the USA. It was not that long ago that Yankee Candle made their way over the waters to the UK and a few Yankee candle outlets shot up. However, the candles are not cheap, but they are quality. I will briefly run through the range but will omit a few as I would need three pages just to show you so if you want any more info, go to my website www.yankeecandles.biz and follow the links. (Please note that this is my website and not Yankee’s official one.) Tarts, oh titter ye not! Small cakes of scented candle wax which you melt in an oil burner and they scent the room like summer has burst through the door. These things last for ages do not spit and are perfect to freshen any room quickly. Usually get 6 burns of 3 hours each before scent disappears. Jar Candles. 22oz These are the mother of all candles and last for up to 120 hours. They come in a jar would you believe and have a lid to keep the scent in when you are not using it. Also available in 14.5oz and 9.5oz Jars. Votive candles. Small sampler candles which can burn up to 12 hours and offer the cautious a trial before buying the large jars. Extremely useful for small rooms such as the bathroom or conservatory. Tea Light Candles Ideal small and handy to place in burners and decorative holders. Again strong scents and a good idea to try out before buying the big uns! Come in boxes of 12. Also available are pillar, floating and taper candles. Car Jars. Hang up in your car and last for 6 weeks. They look like those magic trees but are in the shape of the jar candle. Fragrances like Leather, French Vanilla, Fruit Smoothie etc. Scents. This is where Yankee stand above all other candles you have ever sniffed. There ingenuity and authenticity of their scents are amazing and fantastic. The first one we used was the Clean Cotton and it really smells of fresh cotton sheets. You know that smell you get when they are fresh out the wash and being spread onto a newly made bed? That’s it, that is the exact smell and wow! My favourite scent has to be the Juicy Cherry. Just smelling this makes my mouth water and reminds me of cherry liquorice shoelaces and jelly sweets. Mackintosh is their apple fragrance and reminds me of walking through an Orchard in early October when the fruit is ripe and bursting at the seams. The list of scents is long, some 100+ and they are all unique in their own way, Storm Watch smells like the air before a thunderstorm, wedding day, like a brides new dress and Christmas Cookie has a fresh baked smell with a hint of Christmas Day, you will know what I mean if you smell it. Accessories How can you accessorise a candle, I hear you ask? You would not believe me but here goes. Sheep, cows and chickens spring to mind. Tart burners which hold the wax, are hollow and let you put a Tea Light in them and it melts the tart yet does not seem out of place in a kitchen or on your display cabinet in the lounge. Flip flops and hearts which house a Tea Light or Votive candle and are quite funky for a modern house. Lamp shades that fit on top of your Jar candle and personalise the look to colour match your room, sleeves that hide the jar and plates that they can then stand on, making them look like little porcelain table lamps, fantastic. They are also available in glass mosaic etc. Lots more accessories and if I was to list them all you would be more bored than you are now. At almost £25 I thought the scented weeds were a never sell option but fans of Yankee love these as they last forever, allowing the scent to soak into their stems and fill the room with a more subtle scent. They also look quite chic and decorative and fit into all room types. There are so many different items in the Yankee range that the candles alone have over 100 different scents and many different colours so they can be colour matched to fit into any room or décor. My thoughts. I am a fan of candles and love to watch TV, eat a meal or just relax by candle light as the mood and sway of the flam relaxes the mind and body. Yankee Candle won me over by their quality and strength of scent. None of this bending over the candle to smell them as you can smell the scent as soon as you open the door. I often use the Fresh Mint to calm myself after a stressful day and the smell of fresh mint leaves works wonders with the spirit. I thought the candles were a bit over priced at first to be honest with you but when you compare the burn time to the ratio and the fact that the scent lasts all the way to the bottom of the candle makes you think twice. The Jars start from £7.49 and the Tarts from 89p so depending on your budget, you can try almost every candle in the range. I think they are great gifts for Christmas and weddings as their decorative appearance makes them ideal for the occasion. Unlike other candles I have used in the past, I have never been disappointed in their scent and burning quality so really the price justifies the end product. Overall Yankee candles are something you would use once and fall in love with. I now can’t even look at another scented candle nor would I dream of having an affair with one as I am besotted by the Yankee girls in my house. Available from www.yankeecandles.biz or www.cherishedgifts.co.uk both my own websites by the way so take that into account when considering your rating as although I am biased I really, really love these candles.

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          • Lipotrim / Other Service / 104 Readings / 69 Ratings
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            27.07.2006 18:33
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            LIPOTRIM, makes fat people think they are slim.

            Wow, just how good is this LIPOTRIM? It loses fat and makes you slim. I know, I know I may confuse, For this product I never use. But hey, just pop over to the site, And become skinny overnight. Say goodbye to your big fat bum, It’s great so give some to your mum. The packaging is really sweet, It comes in a box that looks so neat. Mix with water, mix with gin, Remember the name? it’s LIPOTRIM. Hey, I am not sure what I am meant to do? Is it try it before you write a review? Why, I mean can’t you see? It’s an easy way to get 3p Don’t delay, get to the shop, With LIPOTRIM your fat will stop. I used it when I was 30 stone, And now I am all skin and bone. So just in case you missed the name, It’s LIPOTRIM, of LIPOTRIM fame. Come on fattys, join with me, And you can get to be skinny. LIPOTRIM, LIPOTRIM I say, 3p a read is what they pay. Come to Dooyoo, LIPOTRIM churn, 3p a read is what you will earn. LIPOTRIM, I say it once more, LIPOTRIM, LIPOTRIM, what a bore. I know what I will write about soon, How slimfast stopped me becoming a balloon. LIPOTRIM, LIPOTRIM, LIPOTRIM. It is good for her, it is good for him. So if like me, you’re a fat nuke, Drinks lots of this and make yourself puke. Take LIPOTRIM, go, make haste. Or your tracksuit bottoms won’t fit your waist. Available from places that sell it, LIPOTRIM!, oh b*****s, it tastes like s**t!

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              22.07.2006 12:26
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              Just be you and be fun!

              Hi all you wannabe fashion and beauty writers, welcome to the world of “You can’t please everybody, all of the time!” That to me sums up how to write a good fashion and beauty review. Unlike my predecessor, I think Fashion and Beauty are NOT separate categories but are in fact one. Fashion is not just about clothes but hair styles, the “in” scent and jewellery, etc. Beauty is about looking and feeling good about yourself and starts with a “spiritual” or inner feeling of confidence and comfort. Each and every person here will have their own style, their favourite perfume/aftershave, favourite shirt or top, so why separate when you can combine and create. Writing a review is all about you. What you like. What you use. What you do. What you feel. Like any review, it has to be about the experience and about personal insight. Without that you are describing and not reviewing. I am not going to drag this out and let it become a “I am better than thou!” rant at how people write reviews, that is what my rate is for, to show how I feel about somebody’s review. This is about what “I” look for in a fashion or beauty review. Here is the bit where I sell myself; I co-own Cherish with my wife Sherry and I am the main buyer as well as a wholesaler to three other shops in the area. My skills lie in finding products that people will buy, staying ahead of the fashion and ensuring that our products meet the standards our customer set. With any cosmetic, I need to know what is in them. Without this knowledge I will never buy a product. Also, how they were tested. Animal testing is a big no-no and we will not entertain it. Ethnic products must be fair trade and come from government backed businesses. All these are important issues when it comes to selling a product to a customer and are frequently asked questions. I have never bothered asking any supplier what the packaging is like, never. I make my own cosmetics such as soap, lip balm, massage bars and other items and have a good understanding about the legislation involved in these processes. We do stock a lot of body jewellery and silk scarves, as well as being opposite one of the best ethnic/gothic clothes shops around, (called Dazzle) and we often have people pick a skirt from Dazzle and come into our shop to match it to the jewellery we have. So all in all I have a very good knowledge of the category I am now guiding. Right there is my CV back to the subject in hand, (titter ye not!) I will look for anything that merits a nomination to Dooyoo for a crown even if I only find the review useful. A useful review to me may have all the relevant info but not be of a style I enjoy reading so this will tarnish a good review. Much in the same way as if I read a magazine article about something I liked and it was written in a boring fashion, I would not finish the article so it would not be very useful to me. Harsh? Not really, just my personal choice and opinion. So do not get disheartened if you feel my rate is somewhat different to the core of raters, my personal opinion is not that of Dooyoo’s who award the crowns. I have actually put forward two reviews so far which I did not like. These reviews have a comment from myself about the style and are now in the hands of Dooyoo to decide if they merit a crown. I will do this for all reviews where I feel the effort has been put in and the information is all there so do not change your style for me, change it for you if you do so wish. To me, providing you cover all the main things in a personal matter, then a review should be worthy of a nomination, regardless of how I feel. What a review must have is a difficult one as there are so many things but to simplify it here is my thoughts on the core values. Ingredients (At least the main active ones) Description (A must) Small amount of background Usage (Again, a must.) Cost Personal insight Packaging only if it is an important part of the products image. Remember, all reviews should be personal, not too long and interesting to read in my opinion so try to structure your review around your own style and personality and make them shine. *UPDATE* I have changed my stance on ingredients due to ovewhelming opinion that it should not be a must to include all the ingredients and as long as the main active ibngredeints are mentioned I will not let it affect my rate.

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              • Rescued Cats / Discussion / 92 Readings / 75 Ratings
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                06.07.2006 17:24
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                Always remeber a cat is for between meal snacks.

                Ah well, the things you do for a friend eh? My cat, Din is a rescue cat, so far as I found her abandoned in St Mary’s hospital, 11 years ago. So far as to say, she has had a life of luxury and has been spoilt rotten since then, but let us go directly to Din and find out from a pets eye view what rescue cats are all about. “So, tell me Din.” Said I, “What does it feel like to be unwanted?” “Unwanted, me? Pft, you stole me and now I am stuck with a northern car dealer who is never home!” “Ha, not so fast you ungrateful sack of shaggy black hair! I found you in the pouring rain, dejected, soaked through and totally confused. I stuck you in the back of my taxi, took you home and nurtured you back to health. I even paid for a VET, yes VET to heck you out and make sure you were healthy.” “Healthy, me-bloody-ow! I had only been to the vets a few days ago and had the me-bloody-ow op done, bald patch still showing and all! You gave me the name “DIN” which is Portsmouth slang for “thick” and make me wear a dog bone as an address tag and you think I am ungrateful?” “Ha, you were called DIN as you tried to jump though the closed window every time we took the net curtains down to clean them, lol.” “Me-Ouch, don’t remind me. I still have the lump on my head.” Well, there is the intro for Din my long haired cat who we found and have had 11 years. When I found her, I contacted all the vets, put an ad in the paper and contacted the cat rescue in Titchfield, just south of Fareham. We went along and had a chat with them and they showed us around and gave a lot of tips on how to look after her. The difference between a rescue cat or a cat you find is that they are often confused and either over affectionate or cautious. Din was very affectionate but a bit scared and we think her owner had been taken to the hospital with the cat and with her being a long haired pedigree cat, she had been treated with a lot of love. Despite a two week ad campaign, the only people who phoned up could not identify her collar, which was red tartan so I would not let them have her. When we took her to the vets, it was he who advised us to go to the cat rescue centre and chat to them. Now if you have ever been to a cat rescue centre, it is quite an emotional experience and when you leave you want to take them all home. However, they are not that quick to give their cats away. They come round to inspect your house and interview you first to make sure you are worthy parents for their children. You also have to pay a fee to cover vets expenses and a donation to the centre which is fairly hefty but can be a deterrent for wannabe time wasters. After the visit they will, if you pass of course, allow you to have the cat for a short time and then inspect and interview again to make sure everything is still okay. All this may seem like a lot of hard work and effort for a bundle of bird-chasing fur, but trust me, they have few re-offenders in the back on the streets cat gang. Once you get your fur bag home, and she tries to adapt to the new surroundings, be careful and loving with the beast and let her find her own paws before petting and spoiling. Get a few different tins of food and find out which one she prefers (The menu madame?) try to give her water instead of milk as milk forms mucus and is not easy for cats to digest. Make sure you have a litter tray as we found our little din using the Rubber Plat pot as a toilet! Try to let her sleep on the bed if possible so she does not feel alone, as you are never sure if their owner passed away or just did not want her. Taking her to the vets was fun though, she had just had the op so we knew she had been well looked after but to make sure we paid for a check up and that was the last time she went to the vets, 11 years ago! Pet insurance is advisable although we did not bother and have been lucky so far. Now Din is a funny cat and does the most stupid of things, such as sit in cardboard boxes when you open them and as we said earlier, try to jump through pains of glass. She gets her own back by dribbling on your face when you are asleep and climbing on to your chest and sleeping when you sleep on your back. She brings birds in during the night and chomps away so you can hear the bones crunching, and catches mice then makes a miaow noise like a baby crying until you get up, witness the mouse which she picks up again and runs back outside. We in turn get our own back by opening a tin of tuna and walking around the house, up and down the stairs with the cat following like the Pied Piper singing away in that same baby cry sound. Being a long haired cat, she needs a lot of grooming and fleas are difficult to remove so regular sprays and flea collars are required. I refused the flea course at the vets due to bad press and also the flu jab was giving a miss for the same reasons. Rescue cats make great pets if treated with love and affection but allowed to blend into the environment and unlike dogs they tend to be more docile once re-housed. If you are thinking of a cat, go and choose one from a rescue centre and you will not be disappointed. There you go, the big old miserable lump has a soft side.

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                • Top Five Pets / Discussion / 69 Readings / 52 Ratings
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                  25.06.2006 12:16
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                  I gave my mind the day off.

                  Seriously, who thinks of these things and is it just another way of getting 3p a read? You bloody Ciaoers have a lot to answer for. Number 5 pet. Mexican Jumping Bean. I mean, what pet costs less to feed, takes no looking after and does not cry when you walk out the door? I have one called Juan once, which sounds like one because I only had one. Had I had two I would have called the second one Juan Two, then it would sound like I had one two as well as one so that would be two. Mexican jumping beans come from Mexico which is like part of the USA for poor people and is not recognised on their National flag other wise it would have a star. Mexico did kick Texans arses in the Alamo though, I know because I once saw a movie with John Wayne where they all died except Davy Crocket who hid, bloody coward! Anyway, if you put Mexican Jumping Beans in the oven they jump higher and more often but it is cruel and they die in the end, so don’t do it unless you are a student or drunk. Number 4 pet. Alligator. These things are great you know? Scare the shit out of next doors dog and stops the cats shitting on your lawn. If you get a long chain they can hide under the hedge and bite the postman’s leg of when he is not expecting a gator to jump out and attack him. Do not do this if you are expecting an Ebay delivery though, as the gator may eat the parcel and you could end up giving negative feedback to some genuine person and feel a complete bastard afterwards. Did you know that Florida is the only place in the world where they have crocs and gators living together in the everglades? Well, they have them in zoos as well but they have separate enclosures so that does not count. You can eat gator at Key W Kools, a restaurant on H192 in Kissimmee and the serve them in little nuggets called gator bites and with a hot dip. Lovely. Gators normally feed on small children and puppies so do not buy one if you have either. Number 3 pet. Meerkat. PMSL, these are funnier than a serious post by Jim 29th. Every time we go to a zoo, Sherry has to pull me away from their enclosure. These animals are constantly pissed, of that I am sure. We used to have a mate in the Navy called Eddy Hemmings (not his first real name) and he looked just like a Meerkat, tall, ging and moved his head in a sharp action. He was funny. Meerkats live in the desert between the cream and the jelly. The often feed on things otherwise they would die. You cant really keep one in the house otherwise it would dart up your trouser leg and bite your gonads, but if you wear bicycle clips they can’t do this and you can have a good laugh as they scurry around the bottom of your trousers looking for an opening. Don’t have a Meerkat if you have babies as they may nest inside their cot and scratch them. Number 2 pet. Road Kill. Anyone will do, Badger, rabbit, hedgehog and even Fox. They are easy to carry as they are much lighter than their live counterparts and you can make handles by tying their legs together or their ears if you have a rabbit. Brilliant as gifts as they can be slid under a door if the letterbox is too small so none of that going down the sorting office before work to collect the package. They don’t eat at all so you have no real living costs except some fragrance oil to mask the smell of rotten flesh. You are best finding one with no guts left ass they smell less and last longer. After a while, a really good example of a flattened Road kill can be used as a frisby for the kids to play with or small road kill can be used as place mats at a table. You can have some wonderful games working out what the animal was before the X3 bus ran over him. Number 1 pet. A Gung-Ho American. These are the most playful of all the pets a person could ever own. If you get one of these, you must immediately convince him that the people you do not like have oil in their garden, tell him that whatever he does is in the name of god and is therefore excusable no matter what law it breaks and also that your house is the 53rd State of the US of A. (51 and 52 being Mexico and Iran). Your Gung-Ho US of A man will guard your house while you watch the World Cup and claim it is a fixed tournament anyway as the Commies and Charlie rig it. Whenever GHUS of A man gets a bit timid, you must remind him that the whole world is against him and that they are mounting secret raids to take his country down. Gung-Ho US of A man probably comes from Texas and drinks lite beer or LA and drinks Pina Coladas. He will defend his owners to the end despite the wrong doings you make. A loyal pet is the Gung-Ho US of A man and will never listen to the truth unless it is to praise you. God bless Gung-Ho US of A man, the number one pet.

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                  • Mercedes-Benz ML 270 CDI / Car / 61 Readings / 48 Ratings
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                    09.06.2006 17:01
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                    An ideal car for taking your kids to school. (JOKE!)

                    ML270 CDI This car was possibly the best 4x4 I have had the honour to drive right up until she became obsolete and replaced by my current car, the ML320 CDI. Never having really been a fan of the 4X4. Chelsea Taxi/Sloane Rangers Horse/Desperate Housewives School run buggy or whatever else the media may label this with, when I was first handed the keys to my 270, I thought that I would not enjoy it nor really want to try and get it in my limited driveway which has single lane access. The Ml itself is rather a bulky car and as high as I am tall, so not the prettiest of cars and not the most elegant. If you like WWE (WWF as I knew it) then you can imagine The Rock standing next to Kylie Minogue. One is manoeuvrable, can take a good load and handles well, the other is the The Rock. Walking around a car is a common thing for me to do. I drive that many different cars, I instinctively look for damage so as not to be blamed when the next person gets to drive it. Walking around the ML takes a bit longer than walking around the E class I am use to and you get to notice how dominating the wheels are and the distance they are from the actual wheel arches. Of course, the ML, although an off road vehicle is primarily used for on-road purposes, however I did go on the Mercedes off road day, close to Maidenhead and took 5ft Sherry (my wife, not a large bottle of drink!) with me and she excelled getting the big lump up and down gorges and dips. She also drove the car well. The ML does hold its own off road but the tyres need changing to accommodate this. I will go on about this a bit later. Okay, bulky appearance but front views show a predominant grille which resembles a row of sharks teeth really. The bonnet is high and throne-like with a slight angled windscreen tilting back to the long drawn out roof bars which are located at each side of the car. Side steps are optional but make the car more pleasant to the eye and allow the old granny access to the vehicle without the whole family trying to push her up and in while avoiding the passing of wind ceremony that old granny’s tend to deploy as a matter of defence. The rear access into the boot is simple unless you have opted for the 7 seat version which then leaves a clumpy old spare wheel attached to the back and this must be swivelled away before raising the boot to its 6ft plus height, making it impossible for any dwarf-like person to reach. Now bearing in mind this car is used on school trips quite often, the scene of a diminutive housewife leaping in the air and swinging off the pull-handle is a somewhat mirthful experience for even the most cynical school crossing attendant. Easy access for loading though, as the back seats fold down allowing a load of 6 ft to slide in. Now here was where I found my first fault with the ML. I bought 8 6 ft fence panels after measuring the car to ensure that they would fit. Even the manufacturer’s guide says the access is 4ft 3” so no problems you’d think? Wrong! The first two slid in like a *insert smutty joke here* and then the next one jammed. The car contours in to a width of 3ft 9” at the top so the third went in at an angle and the fourth only just squeezed in but then I could not close the door! So Sherry had to wait at B&Q while I did two trips! Grrr and other noises associated with anger and frustration. Anyway, I digress. The car is great for normal work loads and can accommodate a fair amount of junk as we use this for our market days and picking up supplies for the shop. Inside the car is a different matter as far as comfort and space is afforded to the passengers. The car must have what they call the Lux pack or luxury if you like. This gives you metallic paint, leather, memory seats and heated seats. Without this your car is worthless on the used car market and will drop £3000 on book price. It cost less than that to put on a new car so it gives you a guide as to what to look for in a used car (Again, they no longer make the 270 version!) the wheel tilts and slides so it is so easy to get a comfortable driving position and programme it in to the three options on the memory select panel and you are there. Dual air-con and multi CD are a must as well, the air-con being standard but the CD an extra option. I was fortunate to have COMAND (Sat-Nav and other stuff system) in my cars which help the entertainment factor of being stuck in traffic as you can pretend you are in Paris, Barcelona or where ever you want really. (Only available on DVD Nav system, not the older CD one!) This dominates the centre console with the automatic gear leaver under this stretching to the mid section of the rear passenger seats. The passenger sitting next to the driver is not forgotten with heated seats to warm their bums and their own air con as I mentioned. If you want to have a laugh, switch the heated seat on when the passenger is not looking and snigger as they squirm in their seat before realising what you have done. Naughty! The rear passenger seat has plenty of head and leg room and affords a comfortable cruise for the back seat crew as long as the roads are straight and flat. Two faults with this car here are the handbrake, which is the traditional Merc foot pedal which means unless you are tall, a hill start is difficult even with an auto box but in manual, forget it. The other thing is parking, unless you have parktronic fitted it is an absolute nightmare and very difficult, even for us seasoned parkers. Driving the beast has a mixed review from me. The earlier models (1998 to 2001, before the second face-lift) tend to buffer and bounce you around a bit and people in the back can be a bit nauseous. Not that they are bad people you know, it is just the monotonous bouncing around can get to you after a while. Being in the front is a different story though. An elevated position gives you a good all-round vision and a comfortable armchair feel so you are not treated in the same way. In fact, after completing the Edinburgh marathon last year, I drove this car back to Birmingham before swapping with my co-pilot and felt better driving than I did as a passenger. She handles well although cornering needs to be thought about when you are use to a saloon car. Braking is good and all the usual Mercedes features come as standard as far as safety is concerned. Servicing for these cars averages an impressive £450 per 15,000 miles service (has an onboard computer that tells you when it is due.) and the cost of running one is not bad either. Driving sensibly, you can average 35 mpg, and a run from Edinburgh to Poole averaged 38 mpg. The drive from Pool to Salisbury every day averages 28 mpg, based on an 800 mile two week period. Tyres are hard wearing and if you are not a complete lunatic driver, should get 20K plus before changing at a cost of £130 per tyre. Brakes are a killer though, costs about a bag of sand (grand or 1500 Euros for our European counterparts) to replace discs and pads, ouch! Overall, this is a nice car and can be a joy to drive but make sure your budget can afford a few hefty bills in the service department if you are buying an older version. Avoid the pre2001 face-lift models and the easiest way tot ell is that the 2001 onwards had indicators in the mirrors. Colour coded bumpers became standard on the first facelift so do not fall into that trap. In the later years, they made a few special editions with chrome finish grilles and side steps, bull bars etc and they looked the biz. These cars will stand higher in value come later days as the ML tends to depreciate about 50% in 3 years (£36K new to 18K used is a big drop.) but if you buy one of these cars away from a main dealer then you only have yourself to blame when you find out a Mercedes Repair Bill is 4 figures and the warranty does not cover the repairs. I am not saying only buy from a Mercedes garage as you will get a bargain privately but allow a thousand pounds to get it up to the standard of a Mercedes Forecourt vehicle. Anyway, I have used up my allotted 1500 words already so I hope that you can get from this what you need. In short for the skimmers. Good: Front Seat Comfort, MPG and Drive Bad: Back Seat Drive, Rear access and cornering. Bye.

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                      01.06.2006 14:28
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                      Pound for pound,the best around.

                      Rolling, rolling, rolling, keep those wagons rolling, rawhide! Been a while you know, since I typed a review of any motor, more into soap these days my close friends will be pleased to hear. However, my blood is fully synthetic and my super charged ego can not help but to try and release the pent up tension stored since my enthusiasm to scribe a car review faded like Rooney’s Starting chance in the first stage of the world cup. Why the E320 CDI Elegance 4dr Saloon I hear you ask, or not as the case may be? I have had 4 now, 2 Elegance and 2 Avantgarde and each one I have had for over 10,000 miles and 3-4 months, so I guess that qualifies me in a small way to write about this beauty and the beast automobile. Often called the “Taxi” due to the amount of these cars seen on the roads of Germany and other European cities, very distinctive in its long, elegant style and commanding respect from the eye of any motor enthusiast. Her body contours in a cruise ship style rather than sleekness and the word limousine, although a small one, is often used to define the cars appearance. Her twin round headlamps were the first characteristic you would notice when they gave the 210 chassis a facelift to incorporate the ever changing style and modernisation hitting the market at a rate of knots a naval warship would be proud of. The three pronged star dominates the bonnet and two offset sharp lines enhance the shape that stretches to the angled windscreen with the dark tint joust above the eye line. Chrome is in abundance on the exterior of this car, the grille, handles, bumper and body benefit from strips and flashes, catching the light at every angle and ensuring that the passer-by has his head turned away from the usual run of the mill production cars. With a boot space that is big enough to accommodate two sets of golf clubs, this is a mans car. Not for the 5ft 3” wannabe aggressive driver, but the man with time to spare, jokes to share and golf balls to hit all day long. The Elegance is a drivers car and built ergonomically to that belief, she lives as a slave to the timeless country drives and purrs in traffic jams as if enjoying the rest. The drivers seat snugs around your physique and gives a little to accommodate for that middle-aged spread, encompassing you like a housewives hug as comfortable as your favourite armchair by the fire, the seat for me is by far the most comfortable of any drivers chair I have placed my bottom on. To the right of you, the memory seats can be altered by depressing the button, 1, 2 or 3 and watching as the seat moves, the steering wheel moves and the mirrors all adjust to your last recognised position. Clicking through the onboard computer and checking your fuel distance, radio station and any faults etc, turn the key, enter your destination on the Cockpit navigation Display system COMAND for short, and buckle up your seat belt, you are off. There is ample foot room to play with and the automatic cruise control takes away the need to rest your weight on your heel, which most taxi drivers will tell you can cause an ache after a few hours of stop start driving, so comfort is not an issue. Nor is visibility with its bulbous fisheye like windscreen which is like having a conservatory to look out of. With automatic rain detecting windscreen wipers, you don’t even need to move your hand when the usual British summer kicks in. side, drivers and window airbags ensure that the only thing you will be hitting in an accident is the idiot who hit you. Event the seatbelt has a special function where a gas canister releases a charge to avoid injuries to the ribs in a sudden stop accident. The drive of this motor is exceptional. Even though powered by the 3.2 litre V6 diesel engine, this car will leave a 2.5 V6 petrol car screaming tears at you to slow down. Bullet is an understatement to describe the acceleration which can get me from 0-60 in around about 7 seconds which does not really agree with test figures, but then I love to floor the pedal and feel the rush. She makes a mockery of her size when let lose of twisty, winding roads and my constant bombardment of B roads and shortcuts through the rush hour traffic over a 30 mile stretch covering three counties is an absolute dream. The braking system which incorporates ABS, ESP and ASSYST, all advanced computerised braking techniques, means that you can stop before you get there. I am so pleased it is a saloon rather than a hatch as when some idiot goes into the back of me as they can’t stop in half the distance I can, it will serve me well in the protection stakes. Road holding, road handling and streetwise, this car excels and shows why Merc are market leaders in their filed. They have pioneered almost all the safety features you see on a car these days and spend a million quid every day ensuring their cars meet and beat every safety record they can find. Economy is somewhat surprising with an average 35 MPG based on 38MPH average speed, and that is me basing my mileage over 10,000 miles on 4 different cars so ignore government figures etc, these are true numbers from heavy footed wannabe rally driver. Servicing can be as far apart as 20,000 miles and would cost an average £350 less for an A service and more for a B service. Tyres are £120 + each and last the same as normal tyres depending on the driver and the style. Insurance is around £400 for a 36 year old with 5 years no claims and some insurance companies would insist you have a tracker fitted which comes to about £750 including lifetime subscription. So what is bad about the car? Earlier 211 models had the seat offset slightly to the left and this resulted in back ache for a few people, especially the elderly. They had to recall all the cars for electrical faults and also to refill the door seals and change the rusting wheel bolts made with inferior chrome which oxidised within months of hitting the road. The doors are quite wide and in multi-storey car parks you struggle to not only fit into a space but get in or out easily. Legroom in the back is okay, but not quite enough to accommodate a burly six footer for too long. Avantgarde version is a bit bumpy and loses the glide you get due to the elegance having a softer suspension. Not really that many bad points. One of these girls will set you back about £40,000 new and a 3 year old one about £27500 assuming average mileage and using a retail price list as a guideline. Overall, after over a year of driving the E320 CDI I loved the car and cant fault it as a big old beast, in a beauty stereotype way. I now drive the ML320 CDI which has the same engine and boy is that engine a prize winner! You can feel the build quality when you get in this car and even a day circling the M25 would not dampen your spirits with the comfort and luxury this car affords you. Its 85 litre tank ensures a 600 mile gap between petrol pumps and allowing even the longest trips to be made with ease. I love this car, really, really love it and would own one tomorrow if given the chance. The E class is a great car and the 320CDI, her flagship.

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                        20.05.2006 16:48
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                        Growing daily and should soon be a very good palce to debate.

                        The review writers forum, known as FOIB2 amongst other opinion forums (Forum Of Infinite Blueness, its predecessor.) is a place where people from here and Ciao get together and discuss, moan, whinge, debate, play and jolly well do whatever they jolly well want you know? I have held back from writing this as I wanted to make sure I could base my conclusions on both experience and knowledge rather than feelings, so I have been interactive on the site for a few months now and am probably one of the most prolific posters, wind up merchants, argumentative and topical members, if I do say so myself and I do. At review writers you get to do whatever you jolly well want (did I mention that earlier?) you can ignore the current debates and play word games or arcade games depending. You can join the 18 plus section which tells naughty jokes, not racial ones though as you get your hands slapped for that! You can find free items through the free samples section and drink pink lemonade whilst watching the daisies grow, la la la la. That is the sweet and nice side of RWF, friendly and fun, mellow and lackadaisical, whatever turns you on really. Me, I prefer to debate and discuss current affairs, argue the merits of long reviews and crush small beetles between my fingertips, so I tend to hang around the Dooyoo, Ciao and Current affairs sections and involve myself with anything that looks half interesting regardless of whether it regards me or not. Yes, I am a cantankerous old bar-steward and I don’t care, it’s what makes debate fun rather than talking about what colour ribbons to put into your poodles fur. You see, rumour has it that RWF is a fluffy place and not somewhere to have a point of view that is in any way controversial or “gasp” against the grain and to a point, it is but no where near as bad as when I first joined. Once people realise that you can discuss in a “strong” way without lowering yourself to personal slating and flaming (not the Burger King version) the discussions seemed to have moved up a couple of gears and we do have quite a few good debates. One was about whether you believe in God or not and ran for longer than most of the debates I have been involved with on other sites. True, a few people took it down a peg or two and had the odd personal dig, but you get that in school playgrounds and fragile ego opinionaters are not much different to school kids at times, accept it, it’s more fun if you do. They have competitions now and again although my donation of a gift box worth £20 was turned down as some of the admin thought it would “force” people to buy from my website, a decision I found uncontrollably hilarious and ludicrously funny, but again, I am bitter and twisted at best. You can win Amazon vouchers and stuff, nothing major but for free, it beats collecting dead flies from the window ledge. I am not going to go into detail about the things you can do really, it makes sense to go there and look yourself or rate this NU and go back to filling your bath with water in case they put a stand pipe in the village square next week, I don’t really care. The good points of RWF are that the debating is actually getting better and people are starting to grow into good thread posters rather than the usual “How much did you get from the premium fund?” shitty little self-promotion style topics. Big brother has just started and that thread will go on and on despite the odd halfwit trying to spoil it and I am sure now that a few seasoned veterans are taking part in the debates, they will flourish and make it so much more appealing to people who enjoy a good old chinwag between tea breaks. The bad side is that some people can not differentiate between a discussion and an argument and tend to have hissy fits and toys out the pram every time you disagree with them. A couple have left sadly, shame as it makes you feel that they must live a sheltered life and hide away from decision making and confrontation unless they have a big mate with them. One person had their membership cancelled for racial remarks which I thought was a good decision by the admin team and set an example for all to see. The “dark” side also like to shout “bully” when more than one person disagrees with them which again stinks of not wanting to accept a situation or admitting they may not be right. One person who loved to insult people and intimidate on review sites actually left because he said people were bullying HIM! LMAO. Well, most of the whingers have either left or accepted that debate is healthy and thankfully the site has not suffered but rather grown and is quickly becoming the place to be seen, like the chic café where everyone drinks espresso and smokes cigarettes through those long holders and chats about gothic art. My final thoughts are that RWF has to be taken seriously now and is incorporating change and growing daily. Rachel, the site owner, has come around to thinking that there is a growing need for people to chat about things other than who is what coloured dot, and is making this place into a creditable site in my view, that’s as close to a compliment as she will get though, for now. Time will tell if RWF becomes this years opinionaters, ciaochat or whatever, you will just have to join in and make your own mind up, if you have one that is. ;o)

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                        • thebookbag.co.uk / Internet Site / 58 Readings / 45 Ratings
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                          08.05.2006 15:13
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                          Go here and read some honest and superb reviews written with passion.

                          It was not by chance I stumbled upon this site, but I think I saw the link in a forum under a username and thought to myself, “What is this all about?” so, being the nosey old so and so that I am, I surfed along and came upon this. Not the analytical type, you will have to forgive me if I approach this somewhat different to an internet site but at the same time, The Bookbag is not your typical internet site as you will see. Two naughty schoolgirls who have never grown up thank god, have frequented review sites such as Dooyoo and Ciao for half a decade, bringing with them a charm, wit and also a sense of enjoyment to the sites. Their reviews have been of such an exceptional standard that anyone with half an eye for a good read will always be riveted to their personal feelings on any subject. So it came as no surprise to me, when first casting my curious eyes upon their project that it was a welcoming site and the homepage was simple, warm and colourful. I think I used the word “simple” to describe the site but please do not take that as amateur or makeshift, as Sue and Jill have had a little bit of help to make this as professional as many a site I have visited. I do believe they received a bit of help from another review site guru known as Keith (Alkiliguru if you are familiar with Dooyoo or if you want to check out this chap for future internet business.) but I feel that the heart of the project was their own. The blue writing on the homepage makes you feel like you are in a cottage kitchen, and their introduction is superbly written to make you feel welcome and that you are not there to be sold to. Scrolling down the homepage you find the latest book reviews, presented in a clear an easy to view fashion with a picture of the book to give you even more idea what it is you are looking at. By simply clicking on these pictures you get to read the whole review if you wish to do such a thing. They set the categories out along the side so that if you wish to look by genre, you do not have to scroll, tab, click then search, makes for a much quicker and easier and less of a fuss. Just so you know what the sections are at the moment, here is a horrible list type thing. Biography & Autobiography Children's Books Cookery Books Fiction Home and Family Politics and Society Once you click on any of these sections, the books that have been reviewed can easily be found here. Now there about us tells you who they are etc and adds a personal feel to the place. None of this big corporate feel and it kind of makes you feel like you’re in part of someone’s diary, looking from the inside out if you know what I mean. The “you might enjoy…” link gives you a personal insight into their associated links and websites they enjoy using and that you may like to try yourself and the competitions they have are fun and enjoyable, with a chance to be a guest writer and win a prize to boot. Now that is basically the website as a whole, but not why I am writing this or why I think it is something special in this world of impersonal, amateur website mayhem. Having written reviews for so long, I became bored and a bit disillusioned with the standard and layout of review site reviews. They tended to be “for the crowd” rather than for the reader and aimed at personal gain rather than pleasure and this is why The Book Bag or Bookbag Towers as they like to call it, grabbed my attention and interest. Both of these naughty grown up schoolgirls have rekindled their writing pleasure and managed to get this over in their own unique styles. No more writing to impress or to gain reward, yet their writing seems to wake the passion for reading in this once gluttonous reviewaholic who longed to be entertained and enthralled by people who wrote with a passion. Once more I see that sun shining from a computer screen and I feel myself being lost in a world of charismatic entertainment achieved only by reading something from someone who really enjoys writing. Bookbag is a breath of fresh air in a carbon dioxide reviewing environment and I recommend anyone with an inkling for reading work produced with passion to nosey on down to this site and “have a butchers” for themselves. I can only shout from the rooftops my admiration for two people (and Keith) who have taken review writing to the next level. Go on, go to www.thebookbag.co.uk and prove me wrong, but I feel if you go there to do that, you will be proving yourself wrong.

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                          • cherishgifts.co.uk / Online Shop / 94 Readings / 72 Ratings
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                            07.04.2006 14:47
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                            The perfect place to find a personal gift online

                            January 1st, 2006 and a dilemma, Sherry had two job offers and neither was perfect but she wanted to juggle them around each other and do both, however a text message was to change both our lives with dramatic effect. The text simply said “not heard from you so have looked elsewhere to fill the position.” That was from a long term friend and the fact that they had not even had the decency to call us, never mind text on New Years Day got my back up. 3 hours later, the dream of Sherry and I running our own business took shape and Cherish was formed. 4 weeks later, our shop opened in Boscombe, Bournemouth and the hard work started. I wanted to sell products that are used everyday, and thanks to my association with review sites, Lush sprang to mind so I contacted them but they did not supply anyone else. My research took me to another local company, Bomb Cosmetics who were the company Lush split from (or vice versa) and were much more willing to negotiate a deal. Supplying similar products as Lush, Bath Bombs and soaps made with Essential Oils, lotions and potions and solid shampoo etc, and we now have a long term partnership in place. They have supplied Body Shop and Boots etc so the quality was never in doubt. Sherry found a company who make hand painted glassware and they supply Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s cathedral gift shops so again, quality was never in doubt. Also the essential oils and aromatherapy products were all sourced via viewing and testing before we decided to stock the products. It was all good fun and hard work, but when we opened the doors on Feb 2nd, it all seemed more than worth the time and effort. The name Cherish was chosen as it was mainly the money inherited from Sherry’s mother that made the dream come true so Cherish was to cherish her memory and to thank her for the opportunity. Right, yesterday thanks to the help of Keith (A long term review site guru and sparring partner of mine) we managed to get the website live and now people can shop inline for our products. I really tried my hardest to make the online shop as simple as possible and as personal as Ecommerce can be, and I do believe I have almost achieved this. For those people who do not like typing all their details in, we have our phone number on the home page and you can simply pick your items, call us up and we can pick them off the shelf for you. Advice is free and forthcoming, if you have any doubts as to what to buy you simply chat to Sherry, tell her the type of person you are buying for and she will help you match products to the person. Gift-wrapping is free of charge and the item can be posted directly to the intended suitor at no extra charge, in fact postage is only £2.50 in the UK no matter how much you order. We try to dispatch items the same day or the very next morning at latest and our trial runs on Ebay have proved to be a huge success with 100% feedback and compliments on speedy delivery. All products come with a 100% money back guarantee and postage will also be refunded if the product is damaged by means of delivery. Now bearing in mind this is my own shop, although I have not left my current employment so technically it is Sherry’s shop, I am a bit biased in explaining the business here as I do believe it is fine tuned to meet personal requirements rather than bulk sales and fast turnover. The site itself is easy to navigate with one click getting you to the category you want. With only 400 or so items, it is easy to find what you are looking for. The colours are vivid red, and a husky yellow which are the shops colours as well. Simple pictures which you click on the see larger examples mean you see the exact product you are buying and this helps a lot with the perfume bottles and glassware. Payment is simple, enter your address details, then card details then click! Pages load very fast for me with basic 2mb broadband on Tiscali so it all seems too good to be true at the moment. The categories are; Bomb Cosmetics Glass Attic Glassware Aromatherapy Candles Jewellery Other Glassware But there will be more categories later, as we are expecting a shipment of hand carved soapstone products from India (Fair Trade) in the next few weeks. You know, it’s all good and well me blowing my own trumpet, but the only way you will be able to see if I speak the truth is to visit www.cherishgifts.co.uk and see for yourself. Are you still here? UPDATE 1 We have closed our original shop to move to a much larger one in the same Arcade. This is due to the overwhelming sales and customer demand and the fact that we have expanded the range to include Yankee Candles, the biggest selling candles in the world. Website is growing every day and we are hoping to add a 99p section soon. Already added Incense Sticks section and a misc section so we can put the potpourri and so forth on there. Also looking to make our own products soon and we have lip balm to retail just as soon as we get the legislation in place.

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                              16.12.2005 16:20
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                              Lots of steps to conqeur this one but well worth it.

                              The Basilique du Sacre Coeur, a church of monumental architectural beauty and a symbol of religious wealth. Built on the hill of Montmartre above the City of Paris, this building and her fine white domes can be seen from almost everywhere within the city limits. Montmartre means mount of martyrs would you believe? So called because it was the place of martyrdom and some chap called Saint Denis, a bishop around the third century. It used to be a Benedictine Abbey until the barbaric French revolution when they guillotined all the nuns (sick) and destroyed the place leaving all the peasants to starve or fight for their survival. Interesting off topic piece of useless irrelevance. During the wars in 1870, the people of France were surrounded and had to survive by eating ALL the animals they had, cat, dog, horse, rat, the whole lot of them, hence why you still do not see as many animals in Paris as you would expect. Check the menu by the way. Back on topic. It looked as though France would taste defeat to Germany, but they managed to survive and two extremely wealthy chaps, Alexandre Legentil and Hubert Rohault de Fleury decided to build the Sacre Coeur as a mark of repent of their sins (The sins of Paris rather than themselves) and dedicate it to the heart of Christ an odd dedication as most of the other churches of that era, Notre-Dame etc were shrines of Mary, the immaculate conception mother of Christ. Anyway, these chaps had a load of money so they got what they wanted and set about building this large domed church. They did collect many donations from other repenting wealthy people and the reward for their donation, their names carved eternally into the stone of the Sacre Coeur. I caught the metro from Orleans to the Chateau Rouge and then headed uphill. Disabled people or anyone with walking difficulties will suffer here as the roads are steep and you have to climb many steps to reach the Sacre Coeur from here. There are alternative methods of ascending to the church but even when you are there you need to be fairly mobile or be accompanied by some strong people in my opinion. Anyway, we climbed what seemed like 2 or 3 hundred steps to gain access to the church via the East side. This was an arduous task even for the fit so it’s a reason to do a rocky dance for old fatty here when I reached the top. FACT: You can get an all day Metro ticket for about £6 and it gives you unlimited travel throughout the three main zones in Paris for the day. You also get a booklet of discount coupons which include a two for one boat trip which saves you almost a tenner. When you reach the top you can see forever. Below you, Paris seems so far and distant and the Eiffel Tower looks like it is a lamp post. If you walk to the top of the road that fronts the church, you have an uninterrupted view of Paris and the Seine, with her many bridges. I would recommend that you do this on a clear day as the haze can limit your view as we found out to start with. Enough, the church itself beckoned so we walked the dozen or so steps from the road to the big brass doors. Above and to each side, you have two saints on horses, one is Joan of Arc, the other is St Louis I think, not sure as I am doing most of this from memory so I will grab you a website for more info later. I remember craning my neck to look up at the massive dome and squinting as the sun reflected back into my eyes. There were no queues to get into the church and with it being a Sunday morning, I was quite surprised. Mass was taking place so we had to be extra quiet and tip toe around. Inside you have a fantastic, colourful mosaic of JC above the cloister or place where the bloke in the dress stood, whatever they call it. People were buying candles and lighting them in memory of loved ones, but w had done that yesterday at Notre-Dame so we politely turned down the request this time. STRANGE BUT TRUE FACT; Sherry (My wife) lit a candle in the Notre-Dame for her mother who passed away 2 years ago. When we returned home, there was a cross lying next to the bed and it was the same cross Sherry had been given from her father 22 years ago. She lost it when she was 14 and has moved house 5 times since then. It may have fallen out of something when we packed to go away and been missed then, but how spooky is that? We walked in an anti-clockwise direction around the church looking to one side at the various places of prayer and worship and upwards to the hollow dome to where the 19 ton bell is held. The ambience of the church itself was eerie and clam, not quite like the vibrant atmosphere the Notre-Dame had, but more a solemn mood, more serious and regimented, if you follow me. The stained glass was “nice” but the original was blown out in WW2 so they are not quite as authentic as perhaps those elsewhere. Mind you, this church was only finished in 1914 so the windows would have had a more modern look which I am not akin to. You can access the dome itself via a separate entrance to the side of the church. The top of the dome is 200m above sea level and the second highest point of Paris next to the Eiffel Tower. No lift here though, just a steep climb up more steps and then a spiral staircase to take you to the top. We declined this as well due to the mist outside hampering the view. The confessionals were glass booths and there were queues for those as well. Seemed a lot of people like to repent their sins here, I am not a believer though so I just ambled past the uncleansed patrons and took in the fine carved wood, sculptured pillars and general décor in the church. They had a manger set out with the full puppet works of JC and the likes, the children liked it but I found it a bit tacky if I ma honest. We left the church after about 15 minutes of viewing and then walked down the steps through the garden which gave a magnificent view back up to the church and all her splendour. Again, these steps are steep and plentiful but there is a cliff lift similar to the ones in Bournemouth and Scarborough which can be used free if you have the day pass from the Metro. The things we did not see were the crypt and the view from the Dome, but the mist lifted as we left so we sat in the garden for a while and mulled over the view before walking down to central Paris and her coffee houses. My advice to anyone who visits this place is that ensure you have decent walking shoes and a bit of tolerance for climbs, but the view of both the church and Paris makes it well worth the hike and I am glad I went despite my non-conformist attitude to religion.

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                                15.12.2005 17:54
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                                If you only have one day in Paris, spend it here.

                                Champs Elysees ( Chomp elazy) Paris, France: Roughly translated, Champions of being Lazy. Whenever you watch the Tour de France (roughly translated, a tour of France.) or rugby from the Parc des Princes, (Roughly translated, park full of princesses in rugby outfits.) you always hear them mention something about this place and broad Yorkshire accents trying to pronounce it, which provides me with great mirth. So naturally, we had to see what the hype was all about when we arrived in the centre of Paris one cold but beautifully sunlit morning this December (2005). We walked uphill from the Eiffel Tower for about an hour as we stopped to amble through the fish and veg market around about the Palais Galliera (roughly translated, Playing in a gallery is wrong.) before ascending to the most notable attraction that C.E has to offer, le Arc de Triomphe. (Roughly translated: triumphant Arch blocks traffic!) Now the Arc de Triomphe (arc de treeumph) is a big marble Arch really, built by napoleon to celebrate his famous victories (snigger) but not finished until after he died. Story has it when he ditched Josephine for being unable to bear children for him, he moved on to a younger chick who had fertile land for hire and had a replica arc built so they could pass under it on their wedding days, the scandal eh? Well, the Arc has some excellent carvings in her stonework and a final resting place of the unknown solider. Strange, but people flock to the unknown soldiers tomb and prey, leave flowers and little gifts and generally worship him you know! Thing is, they do not know who he is, so he could in fact be a British spy who donned the uniform of his enemy to break through enemy lines and leave E-N-GER-LAND graffiti on the side of the Eiffel tower you know. Now wouldn’t that be funny? Looking down the Champ from here, you can see a perfectly straight road leading to a big spiky monument type thing called the Place de la Concorde (roughly translated; The place they landed the Concorde.) or something, but it had no wings so I was puzzled. Anyway I walked towards it to see if the wings were nearby. Crossing the extremely busy road, drive whichever way you want, whenever you want, ignoring traffic signals but not pedestrians and preying when I reached the other side alive, the first thing that you notice are the size of the designer shops, 2, 3 even 4 stories high, Gucci, Chanel Rolex etc, with doormen and valet parking, different class. We browsed at a few 25,000 Euro necklaces. Dreamed of the 10,000 Euro watches and bought some 1 Euro postcards. We sat and had a coffee at a small café some 200 yards down from the Arc and did not ask how much they were as we did not want to know. 1 Cappuccino and a black coffee came to 8 Euros, about £5 so I was happy as that is what I would expect to pay in Bournemouth to be honest. We sat for a while watching the people meander past, not the rushed hustle and bustle you would see in Oxford street but more a stroll and no necessity in their actions. Rather refreshing and relaxing I thought. Carrying on our journey, we walked past all the shops and into the first of the parks opposite the Grande Palais (Roughly translated; Great play time.) being winter, twas rather nippy and fresh so the trees and flowers were bare but you could see there was love in those there gardens. Clipped and pruned ready, for springs first buds and not a weed to be seen. Quite a few theatres popped up around here and one restaurant that we considered going back to in the evening with their menu of St Jaques (Scallops) tempting to my taste buds. Now the Place De La Concorde has to be one of the most astonishing pieces of roadmanship I have even seen. 4, 5, 6 lanes wide but no one sticking in a lane, it was a free for all when the lights changed and only the brave dared risk a red man rush here. However, what a beautiful place to be in. Sculpture, statues and fountains adorned the streets and the wrought iron gates were crafted with love rather than crass tastes. Walking into the Jardin Des Tuileries (Roughly translated; My Jaw’s been to hell these days!) and beyond the fountains to the mini Arc, or Arc De Triomphe Du Carrousel (Roughly translated; Triumph Arc on a roundabout) and you find yourself staring at a large glass pyramid which is the underground shopping centre and entrance to the famous Mussee Louvre (Roughly translated; Museum of old Loo’s). although out of place in a mainly 18/19th century period design, the pyramid adds a bit of fascination to the whole journey of about 2 miles in total, and looking back up towards the Arc De Triomphe, you have to catch your breath at the precision the inline design gives to all of the monuments along the Elysees in almost a perfect line. We trundled into the Louvre for a quick Pepe Le Pew at the Mona Lisa (Roughly translated; Moaning old cow.) and then walked on to the Notre Dame before walking the 3 or so miles through the Latin quarter, Luxembourg and back to P. Orleans to our hotel. I liked the Champs Elysees if I am honest with you, the shops were only an after thought to the fantastic architecture and magnificent views of the Seine and the surrounding Paris, with of course the Eiffel tower never out of sight. The romance seems to have seeped away from this once passionate city though, maybe it was the cold December air, maybe it was the barren trees and gardens or the murky Seine, maybe even cold hearted old me, I am not sure, but I do think I would love to visit here in June and see the colours that mother nature could paint her with and only then would I believe that I have seen the real Paris and feel the passion that so many before have devoted their literary life and times to. Paris in spring or summer and maybe an open air meal in one of her magnificent Jardins would make the Champ Elysees even more of a must be place.

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                                • Moulin Rouge / Club International / 70 Readings / 54 Ratings
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                                  14.12.2005 16:36
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                                  Only go there if you are a fanatic of dance and pomp.

                                  Giuchie, Giuchie, ya ya dada (Hey hey hey) Giuchie, Giuchie, ya ya here (here) Mocha Chocalata ya ya (oh yea) Creole lady Marmalade Lyrics by Christine Aqua-lover Our Christmas outing this year was to gay Paris, with a bus load of firemen from Dorset Fire and Rescue . Courtesy of my wife’s work. You know the ones, a 13 hour coach trip when we could have paid half and flew there in an hour? But it was fun and I never would have got to discuss the merits of keeping a small lizard in an ashtray if I had not travelled by wheels. Included in our 3 night stay was a visit to the Moulin Rouge (roughly translated “Mouldy Red”.) including dinner for the princely sum of £98 per person or should I say poison? Anyway, let me tell you the boring bits first (unless I already have.) On October 5, 1889, the Moulin Rouge opened as the "Rendez-vous du high life" which roughly translated means meeting place for tall people. (Please note; my translations may not be very accurate.) It was a famed music hall for the “wanna be” Goths, ant establishmentarians, rebels and perverts really! Well, if you wanted to see a girl flash her knickers at you then look no further. Toulouse Lautrec, (Roughly translated; to lose ones track of direction) the famous dwarf-like artist used to hang out here literally. He painted those famous turn of the century posters that depicted the sexual presence of the French folly in her fur coat and no knickers pose. Well he had his own high chair and was welcomed as he spent a fair few bob on the girls, if you know what I mean. Situated in the Montmartre district of Paris, (roughly translated; Mounting a Martyr) an area noted for its red light district, sleazy peep shows and now DVD/Porn shops, this area is a place of two evils in a way. At the bottom of the hill or mount you have the sleaze and at the top, up hundreds of blardy stairs, you have the Sacre Coeur, (Roughly translated: sack of coal) a symbolic monument of how money can have anything built in the name of religion. This church or shrine to JC can be seen from all over Paris with its white domes and massive view point. In fact, if you stand at the observatory south of Luxembourg Palace, some 2 miles due south of the Seine, you can see her glistening when the sun shines on her, as we were fortunate enough to witness ourselves. Anyway, if you can imagine the Rendezvous in Soho, then you have the Moulin Rouge in Paris. Famous for its big windmill outside the building and her crude neon lights, but more famous for her cancan dancers with their high kicking spectacle of flamboyant feathered frolics. We arrived at 6.30 to be made to wait outside in the freezing cold for 20 minutes, just to improve Anglo-French relations. This played havoc with the ladies in their elegant frocks of fine, flimsy material. However, once inside it warmed up, by about 3 degrees and I do not mean they were the cabaret. Sat at our paste tables on seats more familiar in primary school classrooms, we were served the free champagne which was included in the price of the meal (half a bottle per person) it was, to be fair, very nice and not too cheap tasting. Our starter came, a lovely potato and a hint of leek soup! A bread stick was offered in the guise of a bread roll but I was not fooled. After the somewhat disappointment of this powdered offering, a plate came with veal upon it, small breaded and similar to that you would expect on a table in Benidorm rather than a country famous for her cuisine. Our meal ended with a piece of cake filled with cold custard, mmm, I can tell you are all jealous. The meal was nothing short of a disgrace and something I would have sent back even at a cheap Christmas dinner, but considering the company we were with and the environment of the Moulin Rouge, I think it would have done far worse to complain than to just let it lie. To make matters worse, there was a leaflet on the table stating the minimum drinks order per person was 95 Euros, or an incredible £65 each! So that half bottle of champagne was made to stretch for the 4 hours we were in there. They really rubbed it in when the cabaret act they put on stage to entertain us during the meal were obviously Eurovision rejects and we had the gendarme (roughly translated; gender of your arm.) notified who charged them of 14 different accounts of murdering songs! Aye carumba, I hear you say, why did you not just leave? Well, two reasons, one was the £95 we paid to get in and the second was the show had not started. The show At last, we sighed a sigh of relief as the curtains gave way to a ménage of colour and sparkle and the show began. Straight away, the topless girls started the show with song and dance and big cheesy grins. The music was loud but not too loud so that you could not hear each other talk. The dancing was pretty good to be honest and after the novelty of the girls being topless wore off you did not really notice their predicament. In fact, it did lead to the question as to why they had to be topless to start with? The choreography was good and their timing was pretty impressive so we started to relax a bit in our small chairs. Next, two male acrobats performed an act of sheer strength and balance and it kept the women glued to the stage for a while and us men calling them gay or impotent. Seriously though, they had amazing strength and their performance was pretty impressive. Other shows between the acts were a talking mime artist, (yeah, really!) and a unicycle balancing man who juggled and stuff. More dancing and more costume changes followed and one fantastic performance when one of the dancers leapt into a tank of snakes, some as long as 10ft I would say and swam amongst them, wrapping them around her neck and body and generally scaring the hell out of Ophidiophobes. But after a while the dancing became a bit of the same old same old and when they eventually did the cancan, if was more to wake the audience up than to showpiece their famous trademark. After that, it became more a glance at the watch time than a watch them dance time and when the final curtain came down I was the first person at the cloakroom and first to leave the building. The music score was that of a typical dance hall, loud and promiscuous, bold and brassy. Although the headphones they sang through (or mimed, you decide.) killed any music hall days reminiscing, you still enjoyed the show as a whole. What did surprise me though is that having seen the movie Moulin Rouge, none of the songs from that were actually in the actual show. Okay, I did not think there would be a giant elephant and a love song medley but I thought lady marmalade may have spread herself within the show. Was I disappointed, you bethca bottom dollar I was, but mainly with the meal and the ambience if I am honest, had I have paid the 97 Euros for the show (about £65) and got in at 9 instead of 7, I would not have been as bored waiting around and would have probably had a nice plate of Moules Mariner (roughly translated; Mouldy seaman.) inside my belly. So I think the show was okay but not worth anymore than say £30/50 Euros but the meal is not worthy of an Iceland 3 for £5 special. If you go to Paris and you really love dancing and shows, then go, just to say you have but I feel that you will only be kidding yourself if you think it is either value for money or a unique show. It was not the near £100 we paid (each) that disappointed me, I would gladly pay twice that for a good evenings entertainment, it was the pre-conceived notion and romance I thought the Moulin Rouge would provide us with that let me down. I would have preferred to sit in a Latin Quarter café and listen to a sax player jamming or even the purr of the nights pulsating mood than be crammed like battery hens in a place living on its reputation. But don’t go there unless you have nothing Toulouse. Boom, boom.

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