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I have acquired nearly £1,000 worth of Clubcard points in the past 2 years. People are often really surprised when I tell them that as it's a fair bit of money. However, the £1,000 is only when I use my clubcard vouchers for deals. So, in reality, I only have £250 in actual vouchers, but when you use them for deals, they are worth 4 times their value. I used to always spend my vouchers in store as soon as they came through the post, but now I would never, ever do it! Deals are available on a large selection of items, from meals in places like Pizza Express and Cafe Rouge, to weekends away in a Hilton Hotel, to full blown holidays with Virgin and Cosmos. To order, you just need your clubcard vouchers and it can all be done online. It normally takes around 5 working days for the deals to come through. Points can be collected in store and on all Tesco products, like petrol, online and using their credit card. You can also collect points in other places, such as e.on gas and electricity. To collect your points faster, try recycling your empty inkjet cartridges (only on certain ones) or your old mobile phone. You also gain points for using your own bags, but make sure the cashier puts them on as they often forget and it's a quick and easy way to build up your points. Vouchers are delivered to your door quarterly (Feb, May, August and November) and you can use them in deals at any time you like. There are some terms and conditions, depending on the deal you choose, so make sure you read all the small print. You can also 'double up' your vouchers to use in store on items like clothes, toys, baby and toddler and wine. Overall, I have been very pleased with Tesco Clubcard and am now looking forward to cashing in my vouchers towards a holiday in New York.
Instant Polaroid cameras are great fun! I used one at my wedding, where my guests took photos of themselves and then put the photo into a guestbook. Then they wrote what they wanted next to their picture. All our guests commented on what a great idea it was and how much fun they had. It's also a wonderful memento of the day. You can get the specialised guest books from http://www.instantforever.com/ I think they are great to use at special occasions. They are easy to load and this version has a feature where you can zoom in and out. The films come in packs of 10, so you do have to be quite picky with the photos you are going to take. The films can also be pretty expensive, especially now as Polaroid has stopped making them. You can still buy them; ebay is a good bet, and the cost around £10 a pack. I bought a 2x 10 pack from Asda for £16 about a year ago, I'm not sure if they still do them. I was lucky enough to get my camera from Free Cycle. You rarely see them these days, but people love using them. I still have mine and don't want to part from it, even though I don't use it regularly. It's a shame Polaroid have stopped producing them as I think they're a timeless classic.
When I first moved to South Somerset, I went on the hunt for some good shopping. Yeovil and Taunton were ok, but I wanted something a little more and then I found Clarks Village in Street. It's easy to get to (both from the M5, where it's signposted or from Yeovil in the South) and there is parking. Parking costs 50p for up to an hour, or £1.50 for up to 4 hours-I can't imagine you'd need to spend more than 4 hours here. There are a wide range of stores, including many outdoor type shops, like Trespass and Mountain Warehouse, Nike, Gap, M&S, Cadburys, Whistles and kitchen type shops. A full list can be found at their website- http://www.clarksvillage.co.uk/ and they occasionally do offers on there too, so check before you go. In terms of facilities, there are toilets and a food hall, where you can sit down for food, such as Burger King. There are also little food vendors selling baked potatoes and sweet things. The setting is quite pretty and is kept really well. Another thing that I liked about the Clarks Village is that it's very close to Street itself, which is handy if you need a bank or a post office, for example. If you want to go a bit further afield while you're there, Glastonbury is only a short drive away of you wanted to combine the 2 for a full day out.
The cinema is a popular trip lately, especially with all the wonderful sunshine we've (not) been having this summer. However, it can prove to be a pricey one! My local Cineworld is in Yeovil and if you go before 6pm you have to pay for the car park, that's if you're able to find a space in the first place. Though, if you can be bothered, you can get your money back if you visit one of the places in the precinct and then go to the kiosk located in the car park. Then you have to pay for your tickets-not cheap! An adult (after 6pm) is now £7.10 on most days. In my opinion, this is a complete rip-off, so I only go on Tuesdays now as it's Bargain Tuesday, where adult tickets are only £4.50-much more reasonable priced, I feel. This price is for all day, not only during the day. Of course, there is also the Orange Wednesday where tickets are 2 for 1, but unfortunately, I don't have an Orange phone and I do prefer going on a Tuesday because it's less busy. Cineworld also offer a monthly ticket for £10.99, where you can see as many films as you like. Not bad, I thought, especially during the school holidays, but then I learnt you had to sign up for at least 12 months-not worth it in my opinion. Overall, Cineworld offers a good cinema experience-tiered seating, comfy seats, good range of films and times, though be choosy to when you go to save the pennies.
When people hear that I have participated in clinical trials, they look at me like I'm crazy and often ask why I risk my health. Well, to be perfectly honest, I do it for the money. I first heard about clinical trials when at university and thought I would give it a go and sign up to a research clinic. I had to go for a screening, which involved medical-usual things like, height, weight, ECG, blood sample etc. I then went in to see the Doctor, who went through my complete medical history and I had an exam done. After a week, they confirmed all was ok with me and I haven't got any horrible diseases and they said they would put me on their database and contact me when something came available. About a month later, a trial for ibuprofen came up, which consisted of taking the tablets and having a lot of blood samples taken at set intervals. I was nervous at first, but soon got into the swing of things. I stayed for 3 nights in a ward, where there was a pool table and TV, so I was all set. That was an easy trial and I got paid £500. On average, you earn around £100 a night, but it depends on how 'involved' a trial is. I have been on trials that have paid over £1,000. Overall, I have participated in around a half a dozen trials and have been fine for all of them. Some people say it is reckless, and things can go wrong, but I have never had any side effects and I choose my trials carefully; I knew the ibuprofen one would be fine because I take that at home. It's worth it for the money too. It was a great little earner whilst at uni. I'd say go for it, but do people careful on which trials you choose and don't forget to ask questions! One more thing, most clinics request that girls need to be on the contraceptive pill.
I am girl who likes to write lists, lots of lists. I used to write them on any scrap piece of paper I could find, and then what happened? I lost the list and it would turn up about 4 weeks later. Not helpful, or very organised. To someone who is normally an organised person, I was surprised that I hadn't sorted this out. My solution? The Filofax! It's the perfect item to have in my handbag, which keeps me organised and I actually get my 'to do' list done. You can buy pages separately for your filofax for your own needs. I have a diary, coloured, lined notepaper and my beloved 'to do' list. There is such a variety of pages you can buy, from lain white sheets to coloured tabs and a fold out year planner. My husband bought me an A6 red Italian leather, which never leaves my handbag. I also bought a pen with it, which is pricey at £20 from the filofax website, but it's fits perfectly on the side and I never have to worry about not having a pen to hand. There are so many different varieties, ranging from around £15 to £100+ so there will be a filofax for you. The service on their website was swift and they kept you up to date with every step of your order. I would use again. I don't know how I survived without this essential organiser, but I'm so glad I don't have to anymore. I could put all my lists and appointments into my mobile, but there is just something about the old fashioned pen and paper.
I was a self-confessed couch potato not so long ago until I decided to do something about it. I wanted to get fit and though running would be a good way to start achieving this. It's a relatively cheap exercise, with no constraints (apart from your own fitness). I invested in a good pair of trainers. It's worth getting your 'step' checked out before purchasing because it makes a difference. Many good quality sport shops would do this, especially smaller, independent stores. I bought mine for about £50 (I was lucky, they were on sale). Next, get some sportswear. I run in simple black ¾ length leggings (a fiver from Matalan), but I did invest in a Nike Dry Fit t-shirt, which really helps keep me cool. Then I was off. My first hurdle was trying to develop a programme that I would stick to. If I just went for a 15 minute run, I would've killed myself and wouldn't have stuck to it. So, on my iPod I bought an app called 'couch to 5k', which is a 3-a-week programme, starting really slowly and builds up from there. It goes on for 9 weeks and at the end, you should be able to run a 5k without too many problems. Day 1 is a 60 second jog, followed by a 90 second walk-perfect for me. I start each run with a 5 minute walk and a 5 minute cool down. One more tip-never, ever forget to stretch afterwards-this is a must if you don't want pain in the morning. I love the freedom running gives you, I go everywhere and anywhere on my runs and love that it's at my own pace-I'm in competition with no-one, except maybe myself. I feel a lot fitter already (it's only been 3 weeks). Go on, give it a try! The only downside is when I can't go for a run because of the wonderful, rainy weather we've been having! Though that shouldn't stop you going, I'm just a bit of a wimp.
Caswell Bay is one of the closes beaches on the Gower to Swansea. It's an easy place to get to (just follow the signs from Mumbles, or take the South Gower Road and follow the signs) and is family friendly. It's a hit with families and on hot, sunny days (yes, they do happen in Wales), it's hard to find a spot for your towel. The facilities are good, with a toilet block, cafe, fast food stalls, the usual ice-creams, buckets, spades for sale right on the beach. You can also hire surfboards or even take a surfing lesson with 'Gower Surfing'. The surf is pretty good here and it's an easy walk down to the waves. Dogs are allowed on the beach from September to May. The car park is payable. But be warned, on a hot day, you can queue for a long time to get in (it'll be a one in, one out system). Most people get round this by parking on the side of the road and walk down the hill-it's not a bad option and a lot of people do it. You can get a bus here from Swansea, which might be worth considering on such days. The beach itself spreads across about a mile and it's a lovely, clean, sandy beach. We chose this beach to have our Engagement party on. We had a BBQ and a games of rounders. I find it a very friendly beach, but do prefer it out of peak season, where you can nearly have the beach to yourself.
I'm not too sure of this review should be about the Campsite, but I wanted to review my most favourite beach of all time; Three Cliffs Bay. This is a hidden little gem, as it's not signposted nor is it easily viewed from the Gower Road. If you do find it though, you'll be rewarded with the best view on the Gower Peninsular. It has been voted as Britain's Favourite View on a recent ITV show. There are 2 ways of getting to Three Cliffs Bay. The first is a car park you'll come across that will show signs to Three Cliffs and you have to pay. Please don't stop here. Carry on driving and the parking is free, if you park on the gravel car park by the row of cottages when you enter Penmaen, or if that's full (which is mostly is in peak times), there is another car park that many don't know about. It's nearly opposite the gravel car park, drive over the cattle grid and you can park on the left in the small field. To get to the bay, you take a scenic walk before you get to the cliff tops. There is a narrow sandy path down. When it opens up, you'll be standing on a large sand dune, with the most stunning view I know. It was here that my husband proposed, so it's a very special place to us. You can walk on the Three Cliffs themselves , or if you're not feeling adventurous, there is a cave you can walk through, which is just as exciting (as long as the tide is out). It's a beautiful beach. I love going there in winter as you often had the whole beach to yourself. It's idyllic and breathtaking!
My student 'halls of residence' was in the Student Village called Hendrefoilan. It's situated about 2 miles out of town and is, like it's named, a little village of its own. Accommodation is in the form of houses or flats, from 8 to 12 students. The houses are on 2 levels, with one being a girls floor, and the other the boys. The flats are newer and each floor holds between 4 and 6 people (single sex). I lived in a house of 12 and was pleasantly surprised by them. Each room had a single bed, desk, chair and wardrobe. We all shared a fairly large kitchen and there was a bathroom with separate toilet. The village had its own student union, which was ideal for the first couple of nights and a good place when you don't want to head into town. It's got a shop for essentials and a fast food place when you just don't want to cook. For when you finally get around to it, there is also a Laundrette at a good price. Overall, this was a great place to live for the first year of university. You get to meet a lot of people and it is the most popular place for first years to live. You can bring your car as there is quite a lot of space to park and there is a recreational area if you want to kick a ball around. It's THE place to live in your first year.
Rhossili Bay is one of the most spectacular beaches on the Gower Peninsula on South Wales, around a 20 minute drive from Swansea. I spent 4 years at University in Swansea and this is one of my all time favourites, which I never tire of visiting. After the drive on the tiny, curvy country lanes, you are rewarded by a breath taking view of the Rhossili Down, which stretch to the ocean. There is car park for £2 a day, as well as a little shop for any essentials, a tea room, with a divine cream tea. There is also The Worms Head, a pub with the most spectacular views and wonderful food. If you don't fancy the long, and in places, steep walk down to the beach, have a walk along the cliff tops out towards Worms Head. It can get rather breezy up here, so do take a jacket and wrap up very warm in winter. If the timing is right with the tides, you can walk across to Worms Head, though I would warn to make sure you plan your walk in advance as you can get stuck by the tide and not be able to make it back. It's a beautiful walk and a fairly easy one as it's pretty flat. If you do go down to the beach, there is often some excellent surf and beautiful sand to relax on. If you continue walking down the beach, you will eventually come to Llangenith, another popular surf spot with a campsite just behind the dunes. When you look out over the Rhossili Downs, you'll see a lone house, which you can rent out as a holiday cottage. It's owned by National Trust and has the most amazing, unspoilt views. I was fortunate to check the place out and it would be a wonderful place to get away from it all. I warn you though, the waiting list is huge and you have to book around 2 years in advance. I miss this place and look forward to visiting every time I go back to Swansea. If you're in the neighbourhood, check it out, you will not be disappointed!
I promised myself that this would be the summer to kick start my fitness regime, and with limited funds, I didn't want to join a gym, so I decided to take up running. As a self-confessed couch potato, I needed something that would motivate me. Enter, Nike+ Sensor. So, I invested in a sensor that was £12 from eBay). As I had an iPod Touch, I didn't require the sport kit. You do if you have an iPod Nano though. If you have the Nike trainer that already has the section to put the sensor in, you'll have to find a way of attaching it to your shoe. I purchased a Nike+ Sensor pouch from Amazon (coast around £6), which you put the sensor in and loop through your trainer laces. Once it's sorted in your shoe, you need to link it to your iPod. It's very easy to do. Simply walk around and the sensor will be picked up by your iPod. Mine didn't at first and I thought I had a faulty product. But all I had to do was take the sensor out of the pouch and shake it around a bit. I set my Nike+ to basic, open-ended programme and I did my run. You can work out to a pre-programmed playlist and can also choose a 'power song' to really get you going when you're flagging. When you have finished your run, a voice will tell you how far you've run (in miles or km), what your pace was, how many calories you've burnt (this is the best bit for me) and the time it's taken you. Now, plug in your iPod and all the details can be sent to Nikeplus.com, where you can register your details and your run will be put onto a graph (a nice little touch), which gives me motivation. Overall, it's a great and smart little device that I can't run without now. Worth the investment!
Oh my gosh, how I love the world of Tiffany's! This is an upscale jewellery store full of every little girl's dreams. It is the epitome of shopping. I have loved Tiffany's from as long as I can remember and a visit to the store is an experience to treasure and remember always. I first visited the Old Bond Street store in London. It was the first store I ever went in where the door was opened for you by a rather serious, yet polite, gentleman. Despite the pricey items they sell, I never feel awkward in the store. I feel welcomed as a customer (even when I'm only browsing). My first purchase from here was my platinum wedding band-simple and classic, what Tiffany is famous for. I was bursting with excitement trying it on (the sales staff are very lovely and ask the appropriate questions) and I think I was even more excited when they started wrapping the ring in those perfect blue boxes with the crisp white satin bow, popped into an equally gorgeous blue bag. It is the perfect gift-that little blue box. A few weeks ago, I returned to the Old Bond Street store to purchase a gift voucher for my sisters' 18th. Just so you know, they only do gift vouchers in denominations of £50. I had to go up to the third floor, and felt dizzy whilst climbing the spiral staircase. Again, out came the little blue box and bag. Every time I buy something from Tiffany's (it's a rare occasion), I feel wonderful walking out the store, bag in hand. It's something I feel every girl should experience at least once in their life. Despite its grand outlook, prices can start from around £70-80 for a silver necklace, so it's attainable luxury.
American Eagle is a funky little store that is comparable to Abercrombie & Fitch, just a lot less expensive. I first discovered this great store while I was on my gap year in America and I bought so many clothes that I could have been sponsored by them! I like their slogan t-shirts the most as they have a large selection of tops with different designs. They are only about $20, which I thought was a bargain. With Abercrombie dominating the UK fashion scene, American Eagle have yet branched out in the UK, but boy, I wish they would! Their website (www.ae.com) does deliver to the UK for a price, but if you make a large order, they do tend to get stopped by customs and you end up paying a charge. Though I do think it's worth stocking up, especially when they have a sale, as t-shirts can be as cheap as a fiver. Alternatively, if you know someone in the US, have them buy it and get them to ship it over as a gift, and then you won't pay any fees (cheeky, I know, but it's in the sake of fashion-serious stuff!)
I admit, my first intention if opening up a Nationwide Flex account was to use (and abuse) their cheap rates of withdrawing money abroad (free within Europe and 0.84% outside), but I was pleasantly surprised by them. When opening the account, they were very interested in what I'm doing (I'm emigrating later in the year) and were very friendly. They talked through each of the steps and tailored their service to fit around me. In order to open up their Flex account, you have to use it as your main current account and switch over all bills and standing orders over to them. That sounded a bit of a hassle initially, but they do it all for you, which makes life simpler. Also, if you apply online, you get £50, which is more of a bonus. It takes a bit longer than doing it in store, but it's probably worth it if you're not in a hurry. I was, so I did it in store and the decision was made there and then. If you do this, just remember to take 2 forms of ID with you. I only had my driving license, but because I was on the electoral register, they could go ahead and open my account. Overall, great customer service and an excellent current account, especially if going abroad. I'm now considering their gold credit card for the same reason.