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annieboo

annieboo
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Member since: 11.11.2008

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      20.07.2009 17:20
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      Taste fantastic and very meaty.

      So its Saturday and I am seriously bored. I left home at an insane time to ensure I would not be late for a job and as luck would have it shot through and have time to kill. Now if you are normal or sensible you get some shut eye or do something interesting but if you are me you go to the supermarket(I know I know)..

      So I am in a reasonably large Tesco having a mooch for bargains and I come across a six pack of these crisps for 55p! So in the name of research (honest)I bought them.

      The first thing that struck me was just how few crisps you get in a bag a whopping 25g! However that aside the smell as you open the bag is terrific really meaty and very inviting. The crisps(what few there were) were golden and not at all greasy. Most were of a decent size with very few crumbs.
      The taste was very meaty although it should be noted that this product is suitable for vegetarians.Given that, I was surprised just how strong the taste of meat was although I didn't pick up much onion.

      The crisps were a lovely surprise both in terms of quality and taste.
      The pack was brown and currently has an offer(on all the crisp range)where you can "bank" points in the form of codes on packets that can be used to gain savings at various attractions very useful in these times.

      Also the front of the pack clearly displayed all the nutritional information needed to help consumers make an informed choice with regard to the the recommended adults daily amount contained within.

      Each 25g pack contains
      Figures in brackets represent the percentage of an adults guideline daily amount
      Calories 131 (7%)
      Sugar 0.5g (1%)
      Fat 8.3g(12%)
      Salt 0.35g (6%)
      I also think it important to note that these have no MSG, artificial colours or preservatives and are also suitable for coeliacs. All the information is clearly stated on the pack.
      I feel that having the above information easily available helps consumers to make an informed choice. Although I have to confess I only read the reduced sticker!

      This is a decent quality product that tastes excatly as it should. One of the reasons I stopped buying crisps was that "what is this flavour" moment I so often found myself having, with these it does exactly what it says on the packet.
      The downside for me would be that they are so tasty I would be very tempted to eat more than one bag particularly given the amount of crisps in each packet- but then again I guess most of you have more willpower than greedy old me!
      (I haven't eaten them all though yet! I really enjoyed (scoffing) researching this very tasty and good quality item for YOU things I do for dooyoo eh?

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      • Halloumi / Cheese / 148 Readings / 140 Ratings
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        18.05.2009 19:30
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        A very tasty cheese!

        I first came across Halloumi whilst watching Delia Smith on tv. I think it was on the summer collection I was curious as I couldn't see how a cheese could be cooked and stay firm-cheese melts doesn't it?

        Anyway, I was interested but not enough to go out and buy some. Then three things happened. Firstly I got married- to a vegetarian; I had the Delia Smith summer collection on my wedding present list and finally we went out for a meal to a Cypriot restaurant. When we got the first part of our delicious meal we saw something we could not identify. We suspected that it might be fish of some type (You would be amazed just how many people think vegetarians eat fish) We asked the waiter and were told it was Halloumi talk about love at first bite!

        However I somehow forgot about buying some to have at home, no idea why to be honest. Anyway, it was on my "maybe worth a try"list however it was a pretty long list(still is to be honest) So what happened to change me to such a huge Halloumi fan? Nothing that exciting really just that one day
        I went shopping in a hurry! The result of this being I found myself with a pack of Halloumi instead of the intended purchase(can't remember what it was)

        Seeing as our grill is total rubbish I decided to fry it. I was very pleased with it but felt it to be lacking something. It is a very salty cheese and the first time I cooked it I served it on its own as a light meal which didn't really work. Since then I marinade the slices in a pryex dish in a small amount of lemon olive oil and a grinding of black pepper(I sometimes grate a tiny bit of lemon zest if I have a lemon on the go) Leave it for about half an hour and then fry it in the oil turning often. It goes a lovely charred colour. I serve it with a very simple salad either a herb or green type. I would avoid olives with this as I think they make the meal far too salty for my taste.

        I now tend to buy ours from Costco in a pack of four which costs around £5.17. This compares very well with the supermarkets as the cost has(along with most foods) rocketed recently I think the last time I bought from a supermarket it was something like £1.97.
        The cheese has a very long use by date(I bought a four pack just before Easter and the use by date is Dec 2009)so multi buying is not an issue to worry about.

        I slice ours into about 6 slices-use very sharp knife otherwise it goes "squdigy". I love the texture it is firm and nothing like "normal" cheese. I have never tried it raw although I guess you could eat it in this way I love it cooked so much I don't feel inclined to try it. Also as the majority of cheese is eaten as it comes I like the change it offers.

        Another huge bonus for me is that I can even eat it when I am working! I have to lay off all dairy products as my voice is badly affected no matter how little I consume but I can eat Halloumi(deep deep joy) I don't feel quite so badly done by since I discovered that i can still have some cheese.

        I had some deep fried Halloumi cubes last year whilst I was away from home. Avoid unless you like salty rubber cubes. For some reason the deep fried cubes were far saltier than the shallow fried slices I do. I couldn't taste anything and felt this did not work.

        I have not tried the low fat version as Costco do not yet stock it but I am sure that it would be just as delicious. I would say it is well worth a try if only for the novelty factor and makes a lovely change. For a more substantial meal add a baked potato to your salad and enjoy!

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        • Tesco / Highstreet Shopping / 84 Readings / 84 Ratings
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          27.04.2009 19:30
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          A good range but are they too big?

          I like Tesco, however I am far from being a slavish Tesco shopper. I love supermarket shopping and take every opportunity to check out as many other supermarkets as possible.

          Anyway, back to Tesco. For the purpose of this review I am going to concentrate in the main on one large 24 hour Tesco(Irlam) but will discuss others in passing. Tesco Irlam is a huge store. It first opened in Oct 1976 and when it first opened was known as a Hypermarket. The television adverts at the time had the slogan-the largest in the land in the land. There was chaos when the store opened. Something I vividly remember.

          Anyway, this isn't a history lesson. The store has been rebuilt during this time and expanded hugely. Additionally some three years ago they added a second floor. This was done with minimum disruption and the store remained open during the building work.

          The store has a large car park and also has a twenty four hour petrol station(with a car wash) Also they have a recycling centre which isn't very good. It is often full and a bit cluttered.

          As you approach the front door there are cash points to your right. There are three machines which has improved things greatly. You will normally find at least one cash point open. Even if you are not a Tesco customer it is useful to know about the cash point as Irlam isn't exactly over stocked with cash dispensers.

          As you enter the store with your trolley the customer service desk is on the right along with a small jewellery counter, tesco direct desk and the lottery and cigarette counter. At the end .straight ahead is the cafe. I would advise against eating here unless you are starving. When it was run by Tesco the food was fine however since it has been contracted out it is somewhat interesting and not in a good way!
          Well, assuming you manage to resist the delicious(!) repast on offer you retrace your steps and enter the store. The travelator(who thought of that name?) is straight ahead. To your right are the interesting non food items.

          There is a large selection of magazines and on the next aisle a comprehensive selection of books for every age and interest. They often have decent offers on and at the moment have two chart books for £7. They also have a lot of gift type books that I often succumb to!

          Another big favourite of mine is the stationary aisle. There are real bargains to be had here. I got various card making items for a gift at 75% off(and no, I wasn't a cheapskate I just bought more!)

          There are also soft furnishing, bedding and towels. An aisle filled with vases candles prints and clocks, one with DIY and car items, a very comprehensive sport goods section(including equestrian ) a fantastic kitchen goods aisle and at the back large free standing kitchen appliances with smaller (kettles, blenders, toasters etc) on the back wall.

          This Tesco often have very cheap special buys at the end of each aisle I have picked up quite a few decent items for £1 including three rolls of packaging tape(the brown wide stuff) a clothes hair remover(this was rubbish) and garden twine for 25p.

          The store is well laid out and has both a fresh meat and a fresh fish counter. The aisles are wide and normally well stocked. At weekends they normally have demonstration of products often with samples to try as they tend to demonstrate either brand new or top end items this can really boost your day(the Tia Maria, Southern Comfort, Ferro Rocher hat trick is still one of my favourite shopping days!)

          Generally speaking, I find Tesco own brands to be good and do take full advantage of the various offers. The bakery at Irlam have a good range and regularly introduce new items and speciality breads.

          This branch has a large baby section with moses baskets and baby baths as well as the usual toiletries. If you do ever find yourself in this branch even if you do not have a baby I would advise you to spend a couple of minutes having a mooch round this section. The reason being there is usually at least two shelves of top end cosmetic cleansers and face creams and other such stuff hugely reduced. I have often picked up real finds-I got a cleanser last week for 95p currently in Boots for £5.95.

          This tesco has real bargains to be had. My husband got a very high spec exercise bike that we had first seen when it was reduced to £79 for the fantastic price of £19 FOUR days after it had been £79.
          I got a value crockery set(4x cups, saucers, side plates and dinner plates)for £3.49 two weeks ago. Last week it had gone back to full price despite it having been labelled reduced to clear when we got it. A friend of mine bought a patio set for £30 only to see it for £ 15 then £7.50. It is now back on sale at £70.

          The second floor has a electrical department with mobile phones, laptops, printers and other peripherals such as inks, cables, keyboards, mice and webcams. There are also freeview boxes, tvs ipods and radios.
          On this floor there are also loads of DVDs and CDs both chart and older products.
          The other side of the floor contains clothing. All the Tesco brands are available (some smaller Tescos do not carry the entire range). This branch has a very large menswear range and footwear for both women and men. The children's clothing is very good value and very well made. The mens formal range is particularly good with suits from £49.
          I often buy socks for my husband(I seem to make a habit of losing one sock from each pair so need to keep topped up!)and find them good quality. I never pay full price as there are always reduced to clear offers on.

          As you may know I do often spend some time away from home working. I always try to find out in advance if there is a major supermarket in a strange town I have had far too many rubbish meals in very odd places and it reassures me knowing I can get something edible for some strange reason!
          I do think that there are downsides to such huge domination however. I have become aware just how much it is the supermarkets who decide what we buy and not us. Three years ago I wanted to make some Christmas cakes and puddings and wanted a large mixing bowl and various cake tins. I found it impossible to buy from either Tesco or ASDA as it was not the "right" time (August) I ended up buying a large washing up bowl and going to a specialist kitchen ware supplier to get the tins. If I had been able to wait a few weeks there would have been both items. My "problem" was buying out of season(was out for most of Sep-Oct) this brought home how much we have learnt to rely on the supermarkets.

          We rely on our supermarkets but I feel that this not always a good thing. Tesco has become a huge one stop shop sometimes at the cost to local retailers but it is useful to have access to so many products under one roof.
          Additionally, the Tesco clubcard is a fantastic bonus. I save my points and use them for goods rather than for money off my shopping. I got our RAC membership(the lot relay etc)for something like £42 this year as when you use your vouchers for goods you get four time the face value.

          I guess I am a hypocrite- I want the value and the bargains but regret the loss of local shops. I want o know i can find a "big" supermarket in a strange town but moan that all towns are the same. I guess I need to decide what I want. Difficult eh?

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          • Room 101 / Discussion / 62 Readings / 60 Ratings
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            27.04.2009 13:58
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            The world would be a better place wihtout these.........

            Now it might be because I am in a lot of pain today, or perhaps I am just a grumpy cow, or it may be that.... "THEY" are out there and need putting into room 101.

            So what first? Without a doubt it would have to be not a person but a purveyor of total and abject misery nonetheless. An item so hideous and vile it has ruined many many lives(ok I have no proof but how could they not?) I give you................................

            BROAD BEANS
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            ---------------------
            Vile in any form. Anyone who likes these horrors are simply wrong and need "re educating" (I didn't say my realm would be democratic did I?)

            SLUGS
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            Horrid beasts. I hate the slimy little buggers. I put my finger in one when I lifted the lid off the composter. Totally disgusting. I occasionally find one in the kitchen, this is beyond disgusting. The big fat tiger ones are the worst(the big orangey ones YUCK!!) They decimate all young plants particularly the ones I like. (I think they are after me-they certainly know where I live!)

            LLOYDS TSB
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            Not known as The Stupid Bank for nothing, Enough said.

            PEOPLE WHO KNOCK ON MY DOOR
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            If I want to switch my gas/electricity; get converted; switch telephone providers; have a tree cut down; buy facias/double glazing; have my garden "sorted"; my hoover serviced etc etc I will look for the information myself thank you.

            PEOPLE WHO KNOCK ON MY DOOR AND WON'T TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER
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            Ie last week the salesman who didn't seem to think me capable of knowing my own mind. (Small example of our "friendly" conversation "so you don't want to save money then do you?" "no I love paying over the odds" (this was after a L-O-N-G time when he was rooted to my path) "you ladies is the boss in?" "WHAAAAAT?" "your husband love, let me have a chat to him" He left very soon after. I want him in room 101 being fed broad beans.

            X FACTOR AND GENERAL WANNABEES
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            Shows like this seem to breed people with an unreailistic notion of what being in the music industry and singing in general involves. Some have no idea and even less talent. Hovever even those you meet that do have some ability often are not prepared to start at the bottom. I have been told(by a 16 year old)exactly what is wrong with the industry and how she would improve things. All this by someone that had never sung in public! I despair. Also have been told by more than one person that they are not interested in singing in clubs and pubs as that is "not the kind of singing they want to do"

            BUSSES
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            Yueeck.


            **** ***********
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            One fine day folks. I will NAME the above. But not now. A "star"(ha ha ha) a man so vile, up himself that when they first meet him people normally think he is being ironic. If only. Had the "pleasure" to work with him years ago(when I was very young and just starting out) he was a sh** then, and is still a grade one sh** now.

            ANIMAL CURELTY
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            If you don't like animals don't have animals. Simple as. Also people that have dogs and just let them roam all day.

            SOFT BOILED EGGS
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            Well, runny eggs in general. They make me sick. No really they literally make me sick. There was recently a Marks & Spencer add with a runny boiled egg and it had the "normal effect" to be honest even writing about them makes me feel bad .

            BEING TALKED OVER
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            If you are going to ask me a question then at least PRETEND you are listening to the answer.

            TEXT SPEAK
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            Ok on mobiles but in letters and on the net????? WHY

            Reading this back I reailise I sound like a boring,narky old bag who should get a life. Which brings me neatly to my final candidate......

            ME
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            There is so much about me that annoys me- I keep leaving the capital lock on; or leave it off for the first letter hten have the rest of the word in SHOUTY- ARRGH. I am disorganised and forever getting the t and the h keys mixed up(eaxctly HOW many time scan anyone spell the as hte-stopped counting after 10,000) And I am grumpy...........

            But I can't go please don't make me go....... its the eggs you see and the broad beans and the................

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            • Cleaners / Local Service / 102 Readings / 100 Ratings
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              19.04.2009 19:42
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              Cleaners make life that bit easier!

              I have had the grand total of four cleaners since I left home. Sadly I now don't have a cleaner and I do really miss having one. (So does my skanky house but that's another confession I mean story!) These have varied in every way it is possible to imagine from the great to the well...read on(if you dare!)
              NUMBER ONE (Lucy)
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              So the first one was the daughter of my local newsagent. She was fifteen and after a small part time job. This suited me as I only had a smallish flat and wasn't at home that often so it didn't get too bad. Also, I was at home at odd times and really didn't want anyone during the day. She only did three hours a week which suited everybody. Her studies weren't affected and the extra money came in useful and it didn't cost me too much! The other good point about having Lucy was I was pretty young (ah memories) and really wouldn't have felt comfortable with an older "proper" cleaner.

              This arrangement worked really well initially, however the downside was that she very quickly realised that I was often at home during the day and took to popping in for chats, not a problem in itself but sometimes I felt under siege! Our arrangement came naturally to an end as her exams kicked in and I got some work which involved being away from home for twelve weeks.

              NUMBER TWO (Mrs West!!!)
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              Oh my God what can I say. My then agent(he was a rubbish agent as well!) brought Mrs West into my life. I guess he thought I didn't have enough trauma and misery in my life!
              Mrs West(think her name was Eileen-was never formally told it) was a nightmare in every way. "Highlights" included her throwing out all my "old" (they weren't honestly!)herbs and spices; keeping the phone (MY phone) off the hook when she was in the flat as it "disturbed her" (I didn't know about this as I tried to keep out of her way as much as I could) binning various half full toiletries as they were going bad(I suspect they went home with her).
              I couldn't get rid of her either(being a 100% grade A wimp-well I was young) and felt utterly miserable. She made me feel uncomfortable and stupid. Anyway, my lovely mum came down to see me(she was coming anyway but I think she was fed up of me whinging about the dragon) and told her her services were no longer needed.

              I had learnt my lesson and for ages did all my own housework! When I bought my own house I again needed help.This was the busiest part of my career and I was barely at home. I had moved quite close to the hospital my mum worked at and was determined that she wasn't going to "do" for me. Hence needing number three.

              NUMBER THREE (Cath)
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              Lovely girl, good cleaner. Fond of my Lp's(was once left a list of albums to tape for her as she didn't have the time to tape what she wanted!) and VERY fond of my (then) boy friend. He wouldn't come round before checking she wasn't due!
              But she was funny rather than intimidating. Cath lasted for three months (I am not THAT bad honest) leaving as she got a job doing refreshments on Inter City Trains.

              NUMBER FOUR (Mary)
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              Dear sweet Mary. A lovely lady. Worked fantastically, very quiet slightly nervous woman. She did the impossible. Sorted my chaos and brought order into my home. I could find things! She was perfect in every way. She was a whirlwind, didn't tut at me and didn't make me feel stupid!

              Mary was the main breadwinner in her house her(bit creepy)husband having a "bad back" (although I didn't know that when I paid him to decorate my bedrooms and saw no evidence of him being anything other than fully able bodied) Mary got on well with my mum and I saw a lot of similarities, both were Irish and worked far too much. Mary had eleven houses that she cleaned and also offices in the evening.
              I was very lucky to be told about her and never had any fears about her having a key to my house. I never had a seconds worry when I was away from my home.
              Sadly it didn't last. Mary wasn't too well (not surprised given how hard she worked) and gave up half of her clients. She was really honest and operated a last in first out. So I had it. No more Mary. Chaos again(well not too much really as I now had systems) I used to see her occasionally and she was very kind when my mum died.

              ARE THEY WORTH IT?
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              Yes yes yes. I wish I had a cleaner now although my husband would rather eat his own foot than have a cleaner.
              If I were to look for a cleaner then there are various things I would do.

              1) Personal recommendation. A great way to find someone you can rely on. You can get a first hand idea of how your potential cleaner operates.

              2) Check references. Remember they are comming into YOUR home.

              3) Are they insured?

              4) Do you feel comfortable with them? Whilst you probably will not have much day to day contact with your cleaner you will still need to have a relationship with them. Also it is likely that they will be alone for long periods alone in your own home.

              5) Beware agancies that do not provide a landline number or an address. We recently had a flyer through the door advertising an agency(both offering and trying to recruit cleaners) that were ofering very low rates of pay and only had a mobile number on the advert. What would happen if there was any kind of problem with your cleaner?

              6) Relax. I used to feel guilty and somewhat lazy by employing someone to clean my house. If you are lucky enough to have a cleaner then don't feel bad just feel LUCKY!

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              • More +
                14.04.2009 21:50
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                My mum- a REAL star.

                Tomorrow is a significant day for me. It is seventeen years to the day I lost my beloved mum. I miss her every single day. Now you don't know anything about my mum so I decided to do something about that.
                My mum was born in Co Westmeath, she was the first child born to Ann and Michael. There was to be another two sisters and four brothers(one of whom died in infancy).
                Life in rural Ireland was tough but fun and I used to love hearing her tales.
                The family did not have much money(lived in virtual poverty to be honest) but love and adventures a plenty! My grandmother did not enjoy good health and a lot of the everyday work fell to my mum.
                On the day my mum turned 14 my grandmother died. My mum was devastated and never fully got over it. Of course mum took over the running of the household.
                Years later, she went to Dublin(sending money back to her dad and the rest of the family each week) to train as a nurse(her dream). She would tell me many exciting tales of her time at Dublin and her addiction to sweets! It was whilst working at a nursing(maternity) home that she had her first taste of Champagne provided by a very grateful actor upon the birth of his first child.

                Fast forward to 1959 and mum came over to England. She initially worked in a factory before resuming work in a large hospital. Some time later she met my dad. Now she did already know him in as much as they were from the same part of Ireland and she knew his sister very well. He was asked to keep an eye on my mum to make sure that she was ok. He was a widower and older than my mum. Anyway, they ended up married, followed by me!
                I feel that mum could have done far better and that she put up with a lot. My dad had a daughter who was only 16 years younger than my mum. She was (understandably) missing her own mum and has admitted that she gave my mum a rather hard time. My sister was born when I was almost four. She was very poorly and was in and out of hospital although to be honest I don't really remember that. I do remember mum crying a lot though.

                When I was five my dad got ill. I do have vivid vivid memories of various hospitals- I always associate cold bottoms with hospitals. The hospital authorities were not so "child friendly" then. Children were not allowed in to the wards and visiting time was a strictly enforced hour. There were bench type seats outside the doors to the ward and children were not even allowed to sit on these! I used to have to sit on the stairs-hence the cold bum!
                My dad died just after I turned seven. My mum was a widow at 32. She was not able to go back to nursing as there wasn't anyone to look after me so she took on various jobs. Cleaning; looking after a family as a kind of housekeeper and picking potatoes. It was a very brutal time and I vividly remember that she would work herself to exhaustion, collapse, the doctor would come out and she would be in bed. Her friend would move into care for us and then when she recovered it would all start again.
                When I was eleven she went for a job as a factory nurse as the work was daytime only. She was offered the job only to discover it was only two days per week. She was however offered a job in the factory which she took. She liked the people and the job was clean(assembling printed circuit boards) and I remember this as a happy time.
                We didn't have a TV and used to spend hours talking and reading. As usual we really did not have much money but we were really happy. I was different from all of my friends, who had dads and things like cars and holidays and even siblings! Yet none of this mattered. I felt safe, secure and loved.

                When I turned 14 she finally went back to nursing. She was at a quite small hospital and loved every second of it. Ironically it was in one of the hospitals that cared for my dad(and had always been my favourite hospital as they treated me very well)
                She did have the occasional "boyfriend" and I was a total cow to them and to her if I am being totally honest. But she did have rubbish taste in men!(although I might be biased) Eventually she started seeing the man next door who eventually moved in. Interesting times.
                The main area where we disagreed was in hte area of my future career. I was quite ok at school and was being pushed in a direction that I had no desire to go in(I do NOT care very much for blood and did NOT want to study medicine) I must admit that I felt a little let down and felt that she sided with the school rather than with me. I couldn't see why she did not understand that I HAD to perform. It was the only thing that mattered to me.
                Mum didn't force me to do anything I didn't want to though. She wanted me to be happy. She was bemused by my desire though as she was quiet and a rather shy lady.
                She then put up with her cow of a daughter and all the ups and downs of following a dream. When I moved into my own flat she cried all night.
                Like I said before, poor mum! To her despair I worked in a shop when work was thin on the ground and played clubs, pubs and hotels anywhere I could get a gig to be honest.
                I took three A levels in 1985 and decided to go to uni in 1986. Guess who was delighted? And supportive as always.Yes, my fantastic mum.
                The last photo I have of us together is on my graduation day in 1989 at the Midland hotel in Manchester. She looked so lovely. The day I got my results I came back to my house(my career had been ok and I managed to buy a house) to find it full of flowers and wine!
                The hospital she worked at was quite near to my house and when she was on a split or a late she would call in for a cup of tea. Whilst she never really "got" the whole music scene 9and my part in it) she was always pleased when htings went my way and very very loyal. She came to some of my gigs and was always really happy to be there.
                Fast forward to Oct 1991. She had been unwell-nothing serious but niggly for two weeks. On this particular Monday she had an appointment with her GP and I told her I was coming along. Now I am about as psychic as a wellington boot but I knew. I just knew. I cried all the way from her house to the health centre and then on to the hospital x ray dept that we were sent to. Mum was getting really hacked off with me but despite my best efforts(and I did get a grip when we got to "her" hospital) She had the x rays and we went home.
                I cried all night(in my own home-I cancelled all my work commitments that week) Two weeks later the results were back and clear.However they needed to admit her as it was felt she had a blood clot. I was still devastated and felt that the true nature of her illness hadn't been found.
                I am not going to inflict the next few weeks on you. It was a lonely and difficult time. In late Jan 1992 we were told that my beautiful, beloved mother was terminally ill.
                She was discharged in February and this was a special and very happy time for us. We spent a lot of the time laughing and having fun. It truly was a happy time as stupid as that sounds.
                My mum died on hte 15th April 1992. It was a wednesday. A bright sunny day. My life has never been the same again.
                To see us together you would never think we were mother and daughter. Mum was tiny (5'1" on tip toes) really slim 7 stone at her heaviest and had very fair hair. Me well-I'm 5' 7"+ Very dark hair(even without the dye!) and well lets be kind and say I am buxom!!
                My mum was the strongest person I have ever met. She saw good in everyone and never held a grudge. She saw good in everyone and had faith in the goodness of people. SHe was a wonderful loving person and i am so lucky to have had her in my life.
                I hope this has been ok. I have written this from the heart and will correct any typos and faults on Thursday. Thank you for yor time in reading this. My mum really mattered to me and I wanted the world to know exactly how special she was.
                I love her and my God how i miss her.

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                  14.04.2009 14:45
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                  A good quality, good value product. Adds interest to meals.

                  I love mushrooms and I love cooking, normally from scratch. In my kitchen you will always find fresh mushrooms(often a couple of different types), a huge container of mixed dried mushrooms and a load of dried Shitake mushrooms from the Chinese supermarket. Why then do I make sure that I always have some tinned sliced mushrooms in my cupboard? Simply because they are ultra useful and essential when I am cutting corners!

                  The mushrooms are ready to eat from the tin although personally I wouldn't. When you open the tin the first thing that you notice is the sheer amount of liquid this has to be drained prior to use. I normally use a piece of kitchen paper before adding to a dish. This is not totally logical as I am
                  normally adding them to dished containing lots of moisture anyway but I guess that's just one of my many quirks!

                  I use these more as a standby than as my first choice . I usually like to use fresh open cap mushrooms sauteed in a little butter. There are however some dishes when I use tinned mushrooms as my first choice. When I am making lentil loaf(much nicer than it sounds honest!) I like to change the ingredients that I use and often choose a tin of these to add flavour and moisture to the dish. When making a mushroom pate these really come into their own and really blend with the other ingredients extremely well.

                  I have also successfully made a mushroom based dip entirely from these. They do go exceedingly well with cream cheese and lemon juice. Other ways I use these include as part of a Spanish or mixed veg omelette. I have added them to a quiche and of course to a chilli and bolognese.

                  As with most food items the price of these has risen, although as I was in Asda last Thursday (9/4/09)and got four tins for the 29p per tin it seems Asda has reduced them once again. I did not see any Roll back signs so hopefully this will remain the price.
                  So would I recommend this item? Yes without a doubt. It is a good standby item. Adds flavour to most dishes and stretches food that little bit more-very useful in these difficult financial times. The mushrooms are a decent quality. There are some small pieces but generally each tin contains slices most of which are a decent thickness.
                  Any drawbacks? Hardly any. Personally I wouldn't use these as fry up ingredient although you can. If you are frying these, you MUST dry thoroughly before use. If you don't then expect brown butter and lots of spitting oil!
                  This is a good product both in terms of content and quality and most importantly in terms of price. Very useful at a time when most of us have to make our pennies stretch that little bit further!

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                    13.04.2009 16:26
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                    Every room in the house catered for.

                    I was not aware of Dunelm Mill till they opened a branch at a small retail park very close to my home. I had heard a little about the company. It was initially started by a husband and wife team on a market stall. From such humble beginnings it has grown to the huge company it is today. However, I was in no hurry to visit as (to my eternal shame) sounded rather dull and uninspiring-that was till I made the effort to go for a look round!

                    The first thing that struck me was how large it was and what a huge selection of bedding was available. All sizes of bed catered for and a large amount of fabrics, colours and styles. A lot of these are displayed in "real beds.
                    There are three full aisles of pillows ranging in price from £4.99 to over £45! These range from polyester to various types of feather, down and different proportions of feather and down. They also have a lot of memory foam pillows.
                    The really good thing about the display of pillows is that there is a sample of each to feel pinch(and if you are us take hours discussing!) There are also non standard items- V shaped pillows, whole body pillows and a bolster pillow(Don't bother with one of those it really isn't that great as my neck can testify!) Additionally they have seat pads and cushions.

                    I was also very impressed with the amount of duvets on offer again, displayed so that you can actually see what you are buying. It drives me nuts when you buy a "good" duvet only to find something thin, weedy and uninspiring when you remove it from the packaging!( Now those of you less in love with their beds may be thinking "how can a duvet be inspiring"? Take my word they can and having a thin duvet is a crime in my book!)
                    Also in the bedding section there are large tables of end of range and clearance items to rummage through. I have sometimes found some real bargains here. Well worth the effort.
                    The towel section is well worth a visit. Again loads of choice and everything from face cloth to bath sheet size always available. Last time i was there they also had toweling bath robes which seemed pretty high quality.

                    This store(Trafford retail park) also have a decent lighting section with lights and light fittings for the entire home not simply the bedroom.
                    Close by the lighting is a section with art and wall hangings in general. Most are interesting and well worth a look although there are some items that you think "and they expect you to buy that because?"- over priced and rather ordinary.
                    There are hundreds of pairs of ready made curtains in all sizes and price ranges. I haven't bought any curtains from here but they do seem to have a good selection. It is also has window blinds both off the peg and ones that can be made to order.
                    The storage section is really fantastic with everything from small girt type boxes to huge painted chests(round about £35-40) also wicker boxes from the tiny to huge bedding chests. They have some delightful children's storage very pretty and very good value.


                    There is a large section of the useful but dull items- ironing items, mops and buckets, bin bags, pegs and food bags the type of things that whilst not making your heart beat faster with delight are the kind of items that are a pain if you run out of.
                    The kitchen ware department is very good with pretty much everything you could need. They have a large stand with all types of wooden spoon(it is not possible to have to many wooden spoons honest! ) a display of aprons, a stand of individual pieces of cutlery and a stand with other assorted cookery items(icing stuff measuring spoons etc)

                    They have a huge array of crockery and glasses ranging from the traditional to the very modern. Loads of the sets are available to buy as an individual item(have my eyes on a very pretty poppy set at the moment) although the sets are better value. I am always blown away by the choice and variety on offer here. Also as someone who loves a bargain I am always happy with the prices here.

                    In the centre of the store there are smaller items these include candles, mirrors and prints(smaller type) additionally there are craft items, frames, some gift sets(depending on the time of the year) and beautiful silk flowers. These are the huge showy kind. They are slightly pricey most are £4 + but then again you would only need a couple for a stunning effect.

                    On the first floor you will find a coffee bar which has a very good reputation.(I am not like the people in soap operas seems a bit pointless to have a coffee so close to home) However for the purpose of this review I have rung a friend who is a semi regular and I am assured it is very good. She particularly recommends the cappuccino.
                    The upper floor is dominated by fabrics of all types clothing and furnishing. It is also crammed with everything needed for sewing and has sequins fabric glue and other sundries.
                    There is also a made to measure curtain service on this. The first floor is accessed by quite steep steps although a lift is available.

                    This store does get very busy but the staff are good and will always open other tills when busy. Additionally, the customer service desk acts as a permanent till. There are loads of small items at the till such as light bulbs, air fresheners and microwave wheat bottles.
                    So do I think its worth a trip? Yes definitely for bedding and household linens in particular. I also think it is gaining a well deserved reputation for the quality of its kitchen items. I would reccomend a trip here if a say a wedding gift were needed. The range of items Dunelm Mill stock seems to be growing and the quality remains very good.
                    Our last three visits have seen us come away with-
                    A kitchen wall clock(under £5) that is a very close copy of a clock I have seen for £59;
                    A duvet(very good)
                    A bolster pillow(not so good)
                    A childs cutlery set for a gift (lovely)
                    Tea towels(decent quality)
                    four wooden spoons(for my ever expanding collection)
                    A candle
                    Pyrex jug
                    and a fluffy duck!

                    This is a very good shop to find bargains and to fritter away a couple of hours but be warned I bet you find loads of things to buy! If somehow you don't -well theres the poppy crockery set, those individual jugs(the lemon one and the blue one please) A couple of the silk flowers -Poppy and the Iris, a few wooden spoons, that nice painted chest(the French looking one) and the wooden salad bowl. Just leave them at the till(already paid for of course) and I will be there shortly! and thank you!
                    p.s. for those of you who are burning with the desire to buy me(or ever items for yourself!) items from my list(don't fight the impulse!) The Trafford retail park has free and plentiful parking and is situated at J10 of the M60. Dunelm Mill is open seven days a week.(The Trafford centre is the other side of the Motorway island)

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                    • freecycle.org / Internet Site / 83 Readings / 80 Ratings
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                      07.04.2009 17:46
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                      A great idea under threat due to abuse.

                      We are in a few Freecycle groups, this is not through any rampant greed but simply that we are on the border of a number of groups. I read about Freecycle over three years ago and managed to join about two and a half years ago.
                      Initially it seemed that each group was the identical with only geography separating the various groups, however is very quickly became apparent that nothing could be further from the truth! Whilst it is true that each group is broadly the same with the similar aims, the rules vary hugely!


                      When I first joined I was taken aback by some of the things on offer and how many members there were. I was almost waiting for the catch-it seemed far too good to be true! However since joining, I have met some lovely people and have been gifted some terrific items.

                      These include a deep fat fryer; a music system; a stunning four tier cat scratching/play/sleeping platform; four feather pillows and a HUGE amount of the most fantastic towels.
                      I have found a new home for lots of stuff- a rowing machine; our flymo; a soda stream; two complete sets of weights; a sewing machine; a typewriter and a washing machine(it wasn't working but DID have the spare part needed to mend it included)
                      I am always surprised at what is useful to people one of our most popular offers (with over 25 replies!) was a large bag of hangers- I only posted them as there had been a lot of wanted posts for hangers.

                      The hangers bring me to one of my personal bugbears with Freecycle. As I said there had been quite a few wanted posts for hangers but when I contacted the members concerned one didn't reply, one said I would HAVE to drop them off at her house(well actually I don't HAVE to do anything!) and one sent a three word message back "got them now" charming.

                      I am also surprised by a lot of the wanted posts in the last few days these have included 4 requests for cars(including a seven seater) enough tents to cover the entire continent of Europe, two caravans and the usual million or so requests for laptops(bit of an exaggeration but I am sure you get the idea!)

                      At the beginning of this review(if you are still awake!) I did comment on how very different the local Freecycles are. Most do not allow the freecycling of animals. This is a policy that I totally agree with but sadly, two do.
                      One of these(Stockport)often has animals seeking new homes. I am uneasy about this to say the least as I feel there are far better ways to re home pets. It is a policy that I fear could be fraught with problems and as usual it will be the poor animal that will suffer in the long run.

                      As an example of the difference in policy, Manchester put the entire group back on moderation due to two separate attempts to re home animals within an hour!
                      Also some mods do get a little "power crazed" one Freecycle group won't allow the word "need" in any post-this often makes very funny reading! I am very tempted to ask for some wantels as I am sure that needles would breach many many rules! But still they allow the "I want" lists often with links to the items required!
                      Now, you may think I hate freecycle but this is not the case far from it. It is because I think it is a great idea and that it can really help people that I would like to see changes. Firstly, I think the rule that you have to offer at least one item before placing a wanted. Secondly, re selling without making it crystal clear that is what you intend to do should be stopped. Finally, there should be a curb to the amount of wanted posts a member can make
                      .
                      Freecycle is without doubt a fantastic system. It is a great way to extend the life of unwanted goods and you do loads of really nice people. However, the very fact that there are so many kind and decent folk also makes it open to abuse. I know of three people that no longer are members as they felt disillusioned with the lack of manners and general greed. In one case they went to a car boot sale two days after gifting their travel system and moses basket to a "needy, genuine" couple only to see both items on sale and the said "genuine" pair totally unabashed. It is incidents such as this that will spoil it for the decent majority.

                      If the rules were tightened up then perhaps it would have an impact. Maybe it is just me although I have noticed a couple of postings mentioning manners and people not turning up when they say they will. A smile and a thank you costs nothing and who knows it might make all the difference.

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                        02.04.2009 21:22
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                        A real find. Fantastic.

                        I had never been to Brighton before and even though I knew I had to find and book a hotel. I was a bit worried about this, the reason for the concern about this was that my booking was far from straightforward. Firstly, I really needed a early check in(a very early check in!) as I was travelling through the night(via Ipswich) and would arrive in Brighton with the dawn!

                        I initially tried the usual value hotels their check ins were 3pm not good! I then tried Brighton tourist information who were worse than useless. I was getting seriously worried by now as I HAD to find a hotel that would let me get some sleep in the day but also one that wasn't stupidly expensive either.
                        I then had a flash of inspiration and asked on the Money Saving Expert site. I wasn't disappointed and got loads of advice(all I knew was that I needed to be in the Kemp town area) including the Alvia. I looked on the website and really liked the look of the hotel.
                        When I made the initial enquiry the lady was helpful and didn't think I was odd! She did agree to a very early check in but did warn me that it was dependant on room occupancy the previous evening which I fully understood. However she did say that even if the room was not available I could at least arrive and wait. This was good enough for me and I booked the room.
                        So fast forward to October everything went well the day before and having travelled through the night I arrived in Brighton about 6.45. The hotel is about a ten minute walk from the Brighton Dome. I arrived just before 7, totally exhausted, desperate for a shower and a sleep in that order.
                        I was met with a huge smile and made to feel so welcome. I was allocated a room in the basement as the owner felt that I would be able to get a decent sleep without being disturbed. She told me that nobody would disturb me. She very kindly carried my bag down the stairs and let me into the room, wished me a good sleep and left me.

                        Upon entering you are in a small vestibule type area. There is a large full length mirror and coat hooks. Directly ahead is the bathroom, it is a decent size, fully tiled with loads of space to put make up etc on with a large shower, and loads of loo paper! The bathroom is very clean and welcoming. There are two large dispensers one with body wash/shampoo and the other has body lotion. I am sorry that I can not remember the name of the products other than to say that they were of very high quality, were made by a company in Peterborough and were available to purchase for £10 per bottle from reception.
                        Going out of the bathroom the bedroom is to the right. Despite my being totally exhausted I was struck by how nice this room was. The bed was large, very inviting and had four very plump pillows and a beautiful silky burgundy cover. The bedding was clean and plentiful. There was extra bedding in the wardrobe should anyone need it. As the room was warm and had a very cosy feel I would doubt that you would.
                        There are beautiful burgundy full lenth curtains covering hte large bay window. The feature wall(opposite the door is a taupe shade and the rest of the walls cream. Very modern and tasteful. Such a stylish room.
                        There was a TV and kettle with plenty of supplies(including a couple of very tasty bickies) two cups and two glasses. A desk with lots of information about Brighton in general and the services the hotel could offer. There were two very comfortable chairs in the room and bedside lights that cast a warm glow.
                        The wardrobe is large with loads of hangers. There is also a safe hidden in the wardrobe. Also I noticed a CD player on the mantelpiece. The print on the feature wall was large and very modern. Perfect for the room.
                        The shower was delightful and I sank into bed. It was as comfortable as it looked. I slept well and was not disturbed in any way.
                        I woke about 11am and felt great. I didn't really see many members of staff for the rest of the day as I was in and out but when I did see anyone was greeted warmly.
                        Again I slept very well & honestly was delighted with the quality of the bed.
                        Breakfast is served in the dining room at the front of the hotel. There is a choice of full English or continental. My waitress was very attentive and took no time to bring my piping hot coffee. You serve yourself with cereals and juices. I was given the choice of white or granary toast and even better she listened to how I wanted my egg(I hate runny fried egg)
                        The breakfast room was clean and modern. The crockery was all white and ultra modern. The wave pattern from Vilceroy and Booth. The food was well cooked and there was more than enough. A request for a coffee top up was greeted with a smile and took no time at all to come.
                        When it came to check out time it was problem free. I was chatting to the owner who is lovely. Nothing was too much trouble for her. I mentioned that I had bought a pint of milk (I didn't feel it would be fair of me to expect extra milk given that I was there for essentially an extra day) she said I should have got milk from the hotel and it would have not been a problem.
                        This hotel is really a gem. The hotel is about two minutes from the sea which is at the bottom of the road. I loved it and can't wait to return. I would have no hesitation in recommending this to anyone. Also as a lone female traveler I felt safe and comfortable at all times.

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                          02.04.2009 18:28
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                          Death the great leveller.

                          When I saw this topic it made me stop and think. Now before I start I must confess I don't really buy into the whole celebrity circus but I AM sometimes moved by peoples individual stories.
                          I am "lucky" enough to know a quite few people in the public eye but then again I know lots of people that are not. The point is that there are not that many differences between them. True, some(but by no means all)of the famous ones have more money but death is a great leveler. As the saying goes there are no pockets in a shroud.

                          Why is the death of someone in the public eye somehow more important then? Truth is I don't believe it is. The main difference is more people know them. It is a strange fact that somehow being in the public eye means that often people feel they have the right to comment on all aspects of their life-areas entirely unconnected with the area in which they are famous for. Taking this to its logical conclusion when a cleb dies we feel as though we have lost a member of the family.
                          Sometimes this can be the first expierence of death, thankfully with the improvements in health care and preventive medicine people are living longer. When a famous person dies after the initial shock(believe me death is ALWAYS a shock)their is a reminder of our own mortality. We see people living in a way that many people aspire to yet they still die. Money, fame and success and still they die.
                          Personally although I am sad when I hear about anyone dying(famous or not) I am not overly scared of the process. No i am not a ghoul but I do have far too much expierence of death(and no, I am NOT an undertaker either!) My sister died when I was 5, my Father in the September as I had turned 7 in July.
                          In the last year alone I have lost 3 people I was very close to. Obviously these deaths affected me far more as I KNEW them(and was related to two of them). However I feel that grief hits people in many ways. There is no "correct way" to grieve. The death of a celebrity can act as a catylist, it can "allow" people to show their loss. Somehow it is more acceptablt to be upset about someone you don't know, have never met and (had they lived)would never meet anyway!
                          The huge ammount of magazines simply dedicated to the lives of clebs simply promote the idea that we "know" people such as Jordan, Cheryl Cole etall. Losing a friend is awful losing someone you may read about every week can be almost as devistating I guess.
                          If this "trial run" helps to get death out in the open and allows discussion of the subject then it can be only a good thing. However there is a rather mawkish almost industry springing up which I don't feel is healthy.
                          I honestly think that it is important to be able to "draw a line" between those we know and those we THINK we know.
                          I can honestly say I was sorry to hear about Jade Goody but as I have never watched Big Brother(honest) and didn't follow her career in any way. I was sorry to hear that she had died but there again I would feel the same sadness if I heard about ANYONE so young and with such a young family. Death is tragic for anyone famous or not. Fame does not take the pain away.

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                            30.03.2009 16:10
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                            Bad illness made worse by "know it alls"

                            ME/CFS touched my life some nine years ago. I am writing this review as the wife of a ME/CFS patient. Firstly why the dual title? Well as with most things connected with this awful condition there seems to be a debate regarding what to even call it although CFS is now the accepted name for the condition.

                            This condition really divides opinion-so many people think its a skivers charter and that it has replaced the "bad back" as a way of avoiding work. WRONG WRONG WRONG. Some of the comments that "friends"(and some family, sadly) have made include "well I get tired but I don't go running off to the doctors;" "Its all in the mind you know;" "Well he doesn't look ill to me;" "I'd like to see you if you had(insert specific condition) like i have:" Or the quite stunning "but hes so tall!" I am still trying to work that one out!

                            In January 2000 my (tall!) husband came home from school(he is an English teacher) and said that he didn't feel very well and that he had a really bad headache and he went to bed. Without boring anyone with the ins and outs of the next 30 hours(awful) I found myself watching my husband being admitted to hospital with meningitis. He looked so helpless with various tubes and a drip in. He was very poorly and they were very concerned about his condition.

                            Eventually he was discharged but had to undergo various tests including a CAT scan and enough blood tests to keep a vampire happy for a month!
                            Even though he was gradually improving from the meningitis things were far from ok. He was weak and felt washed out. However we weren't unduly concerned as we just thought it went with the overall recovery and was to be expected.

                            My husband mentioned this to his consultant at a follow up appointment. It was this doctor who first mentioned the possibility of ME(as it was known then) however that's all that happened he did say to have a word with the GP if things didn't improve within a month or so.

                            Well things didn't get any better if anything they got worse. He did go to his GP who was unsympathetic to say the least. She made it crystal clear that she did not believe that ME existed. He was prescribed anti depressants and advised to get back to "normality" as soon as possible(this was just about the worse advice he could have been given)

                            He did go back to work although he was really having a really hard time. During he started to see another GP within the same health centre. This time the doctor was much more willing to listen my husband and didn't treat him as a malingerer looking for any excuse to avoid work. This alone was a terrific help.

                            He had convinced himself that he was weak and had to do better. At this time he had applied for(and got)a new teaching post. As with all teaching jobs he underwent a medical. He was totally open with the Occupational Health doctor(due to the previous illness it was a full and comprehensive medical) It was felt that he was employable although the Dr did have some concerns about his overall health and felt that he had returned to teaching far too quickly. However(thank God) he felt that even if it was ME the head teacher(who had had first hand expierence of ME), the occupational health department in general and more importantly himself(who had written a paper on ME) would all be able to support and assist my husband.

                            So he started at the new school in the September. He had almost nothing during the summer holidays other than rest. The school was great, with terrific children and he loved everything about the school. However he was so poorly that I started to think he had something terminal.
                            He had no energy, had loads of aches and pains, skin problems, could sleep on a washing line, was depressed, frustrated,weak and had no energy at all. He had loads of bugs at this time as well. All of this in someone who previously had never been ill(prior to the meningitis had only had had six days sick in his entire working life)

                            He got the flu and was really poorly and it became obvious that he couldn't carry on as he was. The school was very supportive and he got loads of support, however things just went from bad to worse. He would drag himself into work when he really should have been off. He would sometimes have to sit in the car outside our house for fifteen minutes before coming into the house as he didn't have the energy to get out of the car and walk down the path.(We only have a small path) He used to get into school by 7am so that he could rest before the start of the school day. Always blaming himself for his "weakness, his "lack of guts" and his "uselessness".

                            The fantastic head of occupational health managed to refer him to a specialist ME clinic for an initial assessment. When he was eventually seen(after a battery of yet more tests to rule anything "nasty" out) and the verdict was that he did indeed have ME. There was no doubt of this. In many ways this was a relief as putting a name to the symptoms helped me if not him! He was still blaming himself and unwilling to accept that he did have a medical problem.

                            He was then accepted on to the ME/CFS(this was the point at which I was aware it had changed name)treatment programme at the Royal Liverpool Hospital (despite us living a LONG way from Liverpool). He commenced it eighteen months after the initial appointment. This is entirely due to the demand on such programmes and the need for them.

                            The programme demands total commitment with a set programme of gradually increasing exercise on a daily basis increasing each day. Additionally, there are meetings for both the patient and their partners/parents and a programme of cognitive behaviour therapy. Each intake has twelve patients and lasts for eighteen months(the meetings tail off after the initial six months).
                            The range of patients varied wildly. The oldest in "our" group was 61,the youngest 15, everyone had different symptoms.and the range of severity of the problems encountered just proved that CFS is a vile and cruel condition.By the way, we had been told not to refer to CFS as ME anymore.
                            However there was one very interesting thing we learnt about the condition. Whilst there are loads of illnesses that can act as a trigger for the condition there are specific personality types that are prone to this illness. Driven, high achieving individuals are far more likely to be affected. Additionally, people who either have unrealistic ideas about their workload in any field; people who "drive"themselves(quite a high proportion of sports people are affected)people who feel the need to prove themselves either to themselves or others. All these are typical. Often the condition is made worse by the need to "not give in" I feel that it is not helped by some of the guff written about the condition by some newspapers in particular.

                            When things became really bad(after the initial consultation but before the programme) we decided that my husband was unable to carry on teaching. The random nature of the condition means you don't know when you will have a good or bad day. This was heartbreaking as the school had been wonderful to the extent of offering him various options ranging from full time teaching(as he was doing) to .5-one half day and everything in between to a leave of absence. He would have loved to stay there but had to admit that he couldn't continue. So he left to concentrate on getting better.

                            During that time we managed financially by living on our savings. We had a house that was mine before we got married. It had been rented out and had been stood empty. We had it on the market with little joy and then had our first big stroke of luck as we had an offer on it(snatched their house off!).This combined with my (flexible thank goodness)work meant we managed without claiming a penny from anyone.

                            It has been a rocky road, he developed various problems and I have seen the inside of more hospitals than I would ever want to. He had a serious eye condition and various oher nasties that seemed never ending.
                            However, now he is back teaching and has been for a few years. He went back firstly as a mentor then did supply before taking the plunge back into full time teaching. He still has to be careful. His immune system will never be great, he has to have the flu injection each year and he takes ecchinacia on a regular basis.
                            And as for me? Well I know so much more about human nature now. I no longer speak to my half sister and feel that I am a much more tolerant person. However, I am also rather cynical and a little bit pessimistic now-if I see a bright light at the end of a tunnel you can bet your life its a bl00dy big train comming for me!!
                            CFS/ME does exist and its a life sapping and nasty condition I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

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                            • Mothers Day in the UK / Discussion / 50 Readings / 48 Ratings
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                              22.03.2009 17:42
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                              mums are special. EVERY day.

                              So, another mothers day. I lost my mum 17years ago next month and so am something of an observer to the general mayhem and flower buying frenzy. I was in both Tesco and Morrisons yesterday and was staggered by the amount both of flowers on sale and being purchased. It looked as though there was a large army camouflaging itself for an assault on an RHS flower show!
                              There seemed to be an awful lot of stressed people who were simply going through the motions. A lot of (admitedly beautiful)flowers seemed to be rather more expensive than they normally are as well. Although I know why this happens it is hardly in the spirit of the occasion is it?

                              I always had mixed feelings about the entire concept of a special "mothers day" I did buy the usual cards and gifts, and did take her out for a meal on the day itself once(only once mind you ARRGH) I have always felt that it is important to show you love and value your mum throughout the year not just on a special day. Why do we need "permission" to show our love?

                              The one mothers day meal we had was truly memorable but not in a good way. We were driving around for ages getting somewhere not totally booked up (yes I know I should have booked but in my defence I was a lot younger then) and when we did find somewhere decent we had a huge wait then were packed in like sardines. Still we did laugh about it later. Much later.
                              I have also been on the receiving side of a meal so to speak as well, my daughter took us all out (me hubby and her)for a meal years ago. I felt so sorry for her. She had saved up for ages (she was 14 at the time)and had rung to ensure they would cater for a veggie(husband). When we got there she was talked down to, the meal was ordinary at best and we were rushed. In any other circumstances I would have complained but to do so would have ruined her treat.

                              I never used to get flowers for mothers day as mum had a large garden and at this time of the year it was always packed with daffodils which were stunningly beautiful. Also I always liked the element of surprise-I used to send her a bouquet of flowers a couple of times a year on days of no special significance.
                              I also avoid the cemetery on mothers day for pretty much the same reasons. It is SO busy with loads of people making their duty visit. I took some flowers last weekend and will go next week when it is the peaceful place it normally is.
                              I sound so negative about mothers day and truly I am not but I wish it was a more simple and less commercialised day. I miss my mum all the time and am grateful for the time we had together.

                              She was a wonderful person and a rock. My sister died when I was very small and we lost my dad when I had just turned seven. She held our family together and worked herself into the ground (literally-being hospitalised once) she had two office cleaning jobs in the morning, picked potaotes in the day then back to the cleaning as she did not want to leave me alone for too long. She did this for three years till I went to high school when she worked in a factory. Then, when I turned 14 she went back to nursing.

                              When I got married we took a large bouquet of flowers to her grave as, sad though it sounds, I really didn't want her to miss out on anything that she would have got had she been alive.

                              I am aware that this mothers day will be the "first without mum" for so many people including three of my cousins. My heart goes out to anyone in that position. It never goes away but sometimes things are slightly easier to cope with. Eventually the memories don't hurt quite as much.
                              So mothers day means different things to everyone, which is only right as each mother is different. I hope your mum has had a wonderful day and that you don't just say "I love you mum" on this day. Mums are special. Treaure the one you have.

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                              • More +
                                15.01.2009 15:38
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                                Money, friends, support and fun!

                                This is my very favourite website for a number of reasons, it truly a one stop source of information, advice, chat, recipes and support.
                                Firstly what is it? Well it a website wholly owned by Martin Lewis. He is a financial journalist who specialised in helping the general public. He is a regular on Radio 2's Jeremy Vine show and as well as his own tv show on Channel five(It pays to watch) often appears on ITV.
                                Martin Lewis wants to help consumers get a good deal and help then to save money whenever he can.
                                So how does the website work and is it any good? The website is divided into many parts; firstly there are the guides often down loadable(although you can get them posted out if needed) then there are loads of articles covering everything from switching utilities and saving money on your bills to savings advice.
                                Martin also takes an active part in campaigns related to money matters. Some examples of this are the Reclaim your bank charges campaign, on the site there is a step by step guide to reclaiming all your bank , starting with the initial template letter then a follow on letter etc.
                                Other campaigns include helping to reclaim PPI on loans and also a petition asking Carol Vordaman to stop advertising secured loans.
                                So what do I think makes the website so special? Without a doubt it is the forums. They are fantastic with a great amount of information available. Also the support is priceless. When I first registered to post on the site(having been a long time lurker) I was so stressed that as well as having a skin condition that was diagnosed as stress by my GP, I also had patches of hair falling out(again stress related)
                                I posted all my worries and really didn't expect too much except perhaps a bit of finger wagging and disapproval instead I got help, advice and loads of support. My debts didn't seem anything like as bad as I had thought they were. I didn't feel as alone as I had and I had someone to talk to (my husband was seriously ill and I was trying to keep the pressure off him)
                                I was taught how to do a SOA(statement of affairs), how to budget(and stick to it), trim my budget and to keep a spending diary(amazing where the money goes!) Now three years after I joined as a member things are so different. Money is under control, I have reclaimed my bank charges,made loads of friends and found loads of additional opportunities.
                                The forums are divided into lots of different boards. These include Up your income; Mortgage free wannabe; DFW(Debt Free Wannabe) Local money savings; house buying and selling; OS(old style board) Green fingered money saving; Freebies board and competitions board.
                                Each board has a particular theme and tends to have regulars but there is also a lot of movement within the boards. In hte main there is a lot of support although there are some mischief makers(trolls) who normally get found out very quickly.

                                I tend to post on the OS, DFW, Up your Income and local money saving boards(although I have posted on lots more.) I have learnt so much and have made real friends from initially posting.

                                WHAT I HAVE GAINED FROM MSE;
                                FREEBEES- including
                                King of Shaves razor
                                Shower gel
                                Tea bags
                                Free chocolate
                                Shopping bag
                                coffee
                                Soap
                                Mascara
                                Body spray
                                cook books
                                shaving gel
                                Gilette Razor
                                Hair care pack

                                MADE MONEY by
                                registering as a mystery shopper(x3)
                                registering with quidco
                                getting my bank charges back
                                registering with Pigsback
                                Doing surveys(including the fantastic Pine cone)
                                Product testing

                                MADE "REAL" FRIENDS

                                And finally last but not least had(have) loads of fun!

                                It is a fantastic site and I honestly think it has something for everyone. The support is moving and is there for as long as you need it. We lost a family member in a dreadful accident last year and hte support was breathtaking. I can vividly remember the feeling of coming home to an empty house after my husband was rushed in to HDU. How I wish I had known about MSE then.
                                Do visit the site I bet you will really like it!

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                                • Gems TV / TV Channel / 62 Readings / 61 Ratings
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                                  08.01.2009 12:26
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                                  Excellent way to increase your gem collection at fantastic prices.

                                  I have been watching Gems since the beginning and have bought(and have had bought for me) quite a few items.
                                  These include a citrine cluster my first purchase(-very pretty but tiny) in 9ct gold. A huge garnet solitaire and a pair of topaz earrings(bought as a present)

                                  Firstly ordering is easy and the call centre operators are helpful and friendly. Delivery is speedy and you will be told when it is due. You can also nominate any address to receive your goods. This is very useful if you can't afford to sit in and wait for your delivery.

                                  The items come well packaged and as well as the outer bag my items came wrapped in bubble wrap, they had a cardboard outer wrap and a very nice ring box. The package also contained a gems magazine which had items about presenters and features about various gemstones and a copy of a gem guide(I had the option to add this to my order) You also receive a ring sizer and details of the company they recommend using if a ring needs resizing. Each item also includes a certificate of authenticity containing information specific to your purchase ie what the gem is; country of origin and carat weight. There is also a picture of the item on the front.

                                  My husband bought my a lovely pearl and sapphire necklace which again, was stunning. I have also had a enormous garnet and white sapphire ring; a London blue and white topaz and a fantastic garnet and diamond cross(all gifts from my lovely husband!)

                                  We had the rings re sized via the company Gems recommended very easy. You send the ring and the registration card(Special delivery is recommended) tell them the size required and the ring is back within a week.

                                  I have only had to send one item back a sun-stone and topaz ring which looked awful. I followed the instructions and had no problems with hte money being refunded in full(purchase price NOT delivery) within three days.

                                  I have also changed my mind once-I ordered a watch but then was wracked with guilt so rang the next day to cancel it. The customer services lady I spoke to was lovely and I had no problem at all. I was not put under any pressure or made to feel bad in any way.

                                  However there are some things to note. Firstly. all rings come in the same size Ladies size n. This is not a huge problem although you need to factor the costs involved in resizing when you are deciding if you are getting a bargain. The mens items cone in size T.

                                  Also there have been loads of changes within the last year, various presenters have left(some to a rival jewellery channel) the station has been sold and there are a lot items I consider to be fillers(jewelled pet collar anyone?) and it is not quite as "cuddly" as it once was.

                                  I think it is well worth a look. I have learnt so much about various gems and have had the chance to aquire some really pretty items that I could never have afforded on the high street


                                  Gems 1 is on sky channel 652
                                  Gems 2 is on sky channel 656
                                  Virgin channel 755 & 756
                                  They also broadcast on the freeview system(channel 43 & 44) between 7-9pm and 9am-12pm
                                  Freesat 805

                                  the website is www.gemstv.co.uk and is well worth a look.

                                  Delivery is from £5.82 and is per day not per item so multi purchases on the same day just pay one charge.


                                  Gems are a very good, safe company to buy from.
                                  I have learned a lot from them and had fun doing so !

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