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belglen

belglen
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Member since: 21.07.2008

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      28.09.2010 20:22
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      A good story, with humour and emotion

      I had not come across Jill Mansell before I read this novel, I selected it at random along with another book just because I wanted to do a bit more reading, but nothing too heavy. I bought "The One You Really Want....." in Sainsburys on a two books for £7.00 offer. Overall I really enjoyed the book and would recommend it to others.

      The story evolves around the lives of Nancy, Carmen, and then Mia and a circle of other characters that connects the main characters and keeps the story going. We are firstly introduced to Nancy, who is married and lives in Scotland, we come across Nancy at Christmas when she is talking on the telephone with her best friend Carmen, and they are discussing a very strange present that Nancy has received from her husband for Christmas. I did find this quite a funny start to a novel and wasn't quite sure where it was going to develop from this beginning, but it did surprise me and it did engage me. We are also introduced to Nancy's mother Rose. Despite beginning in Scotland the story moves quickly to London and this is where it is mostly centred.

      Although the story begins with Nancy the main character, in my view, is Carmen and everything and everyone leads from and to her, she is the pivot to the story. Carmen is the widow of a pop star and although it is a few years from her husband's death she still has not addressed her grief and so is living her life in a kind of insulated bubble, not really interacting with anyone or actively partaking in her own life. Carmen is basically numb but we see her eventually start to get some stirrings and feelings back into her life. Carmen is very close to her dead husband's brother, Rennie, and he can see how deeply she is affected by the death of her husband. Rennie appears shallow but he does have hidden deaths. I did find him a very likeable character.

      Next door to Carmen lives Connor, he has been living next door for a while but Carmen knows nothing about him, not even his name. We are introduced to Connor initially through Rennie, we then come across his young daughter Mia. Connor is an Irish business man living and working in London, Mia moves from Ireland to live with him so we watch their relationship develop. Connor's life then becomes intertwined with Nancy and her group of friends.

      The story is quite good, it is well written and easy to read. The characters are engaging and you do become interested in them and what is happening with them. There are some very funny moments in this story and some more emotional episodes and overall I found it a good read. I would definitely read some more of Jill Mansell's work.

      The novel is 470 pages long, my copy is paperback and I bought it in Sainsbury's on a 2 for £7.00 deal. The book is published by Headline.

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      • Britvic 7 Up Free / Soft Drink / 76 Readings / 75 Ratings
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        24.08.2010 16:50
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        A tasty refreshing fizzy drink

        I try not to drink too much fizzy lemonade and cola, however on a Saturday night we usually have a pizza and I like to have a cold non-alcoholic with my pizza. I tend to try and stay away from cola and like to have fizzy orange or sometimes I have 7up, usually the 7up free. I like 7up but I really don't like Sprite.

        The blurb on the label states that it is:
        * "Sugar free;
        * Calorie free;
        * Colouring free; and
        * Caffeine free"

        All these free things appeal to me very much and I think it tastes better that many of the fizzy flavoured waters. Basically 7up is a clear lemon and lime flavoured soft drink with sweeteners. It is best served chilled and I find this drink to be very refreshing and it tastes good. It definitely tastes of lemon and lime and when it is first opened there is a real fizz out of the can or bottle, you can smell the lemon and lime instantly. I usually pour my 7up over ice and then when you take the first sip it almost takes your breath away, when it is cold it is very sharp but when it is less cold and has perhaps been sitting for a little while it is quite soft, I find it does tend to go flat quite quickly. It is made with sweeteners and whilst I do find it sweet I do not experience the aftertaste that can be common with sweeteners.

        My husband and I usually drink the 7up between us and I find my children are not overly keen on it, I think they find it a bit boring. I think 7up is more of an adult drink rather than a kid's drink. I enjoy 7up and find it is a good alternative to fizzy colas and I will continue to buy it. The packaging of 7up has changed very little over the years, and the "Fido, Dido" character with the spikey hair still appears on the packaging.

        An enjoyable and refreshing drink.

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        • Coco Pops Cereal Bars / Snacks / 50 Readings / 49 Ratings
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          22.08.2010 19:18
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          A decent cereal bar for adults and children

          I buy these snack bars for my seven year old son, he eats Coco Pops for his breakfast most days and was keen to try the snack bar. I buy the bars in a box of six, you can also buy them singly. Each bar is 20gs and is packaged in an individual wrapper, within a yellow cardboard box. The wrapper is very distinctive, it is bright yellow with Coco Pops Cereal and Milk Bar written on it, there is also a picture of Coco the Coco Pop's monkey. Each bar contains 84kcals, 2gs of fat and 0.1g of salt, they are made from Kellogg's Coco Pops, which are a rice based cereal and they have cocoa powder and calcium as well as other ingredients but these are the headliners.

          The bar is basically a rectangular shape and is made up of compressed Coco Pops with a white layer, the milk. The bars are crunchy rather than chewy, although the white layer is a bit chewy. Personally I don't eat these bars, it is my son who eats them, but I have tried them and they are not too bad. I don't really like Coco Pops but I must admit I was pleasantly surprised by the taste of these and I could eat them if I had to. They taste chocolaty but surprisingly they are not overly sweet, I have eaten sweeter supposedly healthy cereal bars. They a have a good texture and are not sticky but chewy and the individual Coco Pops have retained their crispness.

          My son eats these as a snack and if he was allowed he would eat two or three at a time, he really enjoys them. I haven't bought these as a breakfast replacement but as a snack, although sometimes in the morning he has a bar, they are very handy for school break and lunches as they are self contained in their own wrapper and they are not prone to melting like chocolate bars or biscuits. These are not a cereal bar that is covered in chocolate, it is a bar made up of individual Coco Pops that are moulded together.

          I have eaten the Rice Krispies cereal bar and would say these taste much better, the Rice Krispies bars are really too sweet but these are fine. The bars are fortified with B-vitamins and iron so they do have some redeeming qualities. I am happy to let my son eat these as an occasional treat and he would recommend them.

          The bars are available in most supermarkets and other shops and cafes, currently Tesco have them on offer at a box of six for £1.00, normally they are around the £1.90 price.

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          • Haribo Maoam Stripes / Sweets / 56 Readings / 55 Ratings
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            19.08.2010 12:33
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            A chewy sweet perhaps more suited to adults

            There is always a supply of sweets in our home, I have three small children who love sweets and a husband with an even sweeter tooth than the children. I try to buy bags of sweets that the children can have one every now and again without eating a whole packet.

            Maoam Stripes are made by Haribo, we buy the 180g bag and in the bag there are a number of different flavour chews: strawberry, orange, cherry, raspberry and apple. The chews are individually wrapped in a sealed coloured wrapper, indicating the flavour of each sweet, a green wrapper for the apple flavour, a red for the strawberry, orange for the orange flavour etc. Each chew is rectangular in shape and measures approx 5.5cm long and 2.5ccm wide. The packaging has cartoon characters of the different fruits having fun such as surfing. The packaging is quite eye catching, mostly red with a transparent panel through which you can see the sweets. It is very obvious from the packaging that the chews are made by Maoam and they are called "Stripes".

            These chews are very fruity, quite tart in taste but each flavour is very distinctive. The chews are white in colour with little flecks of flavour through them, they are not stick to the touch. They are definitely very chewy and flexible, they are soft, they taste of the flavour they are supposed to be and they kind of make you screw up your face when you first put them in your mouth. I find the chews are quite tasty, they make your mouth water when you are eating them and they are fine for a quick sugar fix. My husband loves these chews and he eats more of them than the children, I think the children find them just a little too tart for their tastes.

            On the back of the bag there is a list of ingredients for the chews, but on the front there is a statement that the chews contain no artificial flavours. There are 394kcal per 100gs. We buy these regularly and will continue to do so, but for my children they are definitely in the one at a time ranks whilst my husband could finish the bag in one sitting. I haven't counted how many individual chews are in a bag but there is a good even spread of all the different flavours. I am not quite sure why they are called "Stripes" as each chew is white with coloured flecks rather than stripes, although there are little coloured stripes on the individual wrappers.

            There is usually a bag of these in our cupboard but I have to hide them from my husband rather than my children.

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            17.08.2010 00:27
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            A great snack to accompany a glass of wine

            We have three small children so don't get out very often but occasionally when we get the kids settles we like to sit down and have a little drink and snack just for me and the husband. Monday night is treat night for me and the hubby and we usually have a bottle of red and a bag of grown up crisps between us. At the minute we are having Lindemans red and Tesco's sat and vinegar Twirls.

            The Twirls are a favourite of ours and we have tried quite a few varieties, Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's and have to say the Tesco variety are our favourite.

            These are described as a "potato snack" as opposed to crisps and not knowing what the difference is I just refer to them as a crisp. These are salt and vinegar flavour and they are definitely fiery in the vinegar stakes, I don't normally like vinegar but these are delicious and there is a salt aftertaste, especially if you lick your fingers after eating them.

            I think these are more a snack for adults rather than children, I think they are just a bit too tart for children to appreciate the flavour. I have served these as party food and find it is the adults who eat them rather than children.

            Basically this snack consists of twirls or spiral shaped potato snacks. There is a definite crispiness to them when you bite them, they definitely crunch when bitten. Sometimes I like to suck them in my mouth and let them go soggy and find they are still as tasty regardless as to how you eat them.

            These are Tesco own brand and they come in a blue foil pack, they are very distinctive with lots of "Twirls" on the packaging. We tend to eat the whole pack in one go but if storing should be sealed tightly to ensure the crispness of the snack. I have only ever seen the 125g pack, and it costs around 90p. There re 480kcal per 100g and 2.9g of salt, so they are not a healthy snack but perhaps alright for an occasional treat.

            Lots of salt and vinegar flavour, great crunch when you bite them. I think they are a great snack and go really well with a glass of red wine.

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            14.08.2010 16:53
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            A good story set in lovely scenery

            I have just finished this Cathy Kelly novel and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. It wasn't a "can't put down" novel but it was a very good read. It has good characterisation, a decent plot and the story is well developed.

            The story centres on three main characters Cleo, Mel and Daisy, although all three are from the same Irish town their paths do not cross until they all have reason to go to a newly opened Spa and health resort, Cloud's Hill. At Cloud's Hill they come in contact with and are influenced by the mysterious Leah. Leah is an American who comes to Carrickwell, the town of the story, in search of the ideal property in which to open a Spa, she discovers a run down large house in the hills above Carrickwell.

            The story opens with a prologue and finished with an epilogue given us both an insight into the background of the story and a little bite more information on the characters after the story finishes. The writing style of the novel is very laid back and conversational in places. The structure of the novel is that it is set into chapters, the different chapters deal with episodes in the three character's lives and how they come to needing to go to Cloud's Hill.

            The three main characters are very likeable, all female with slightly different lifestyles and are of different ages, Cleo the youngest in her twenties, Daisy in her mid thirties and Mel just into her forties. The main characters have other minor characters around them and we are introduced to some of their friends and partners. The three characters are at different "stages" in their lives and have critical events that happen to them and these events propel them in a search for something or someone, and eventually lead them to Leah.

            Leah is quite a mysterious character and we do not learn very much about her background until late in the novel, although she does have a big influence on the lives of the other characters. All the characters are likeable and you do have sympathy, perhaps even empathy for them at different stages in their stories. The novel is quite light hearted in places and there are some quite funny parts, it is not full of doom and gloom and the re is always just the possibility that good things are going to happen.

            Cathy Kelly is very good at describing the scenery and the places sound beautiful but they also sound believable, there is nothing too far fetched or idealised. All the characters have weaknesses in their personalities but they also all have very good points that need to be explored and appreciated by them. Cathy Kelly treats her characters equally and no one character steals the book, they are all given equal wordage and attention to detail.

            This is a book I thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend. It is easy reading but you do come to know and like the characters, you feel for them and they work through their lives and you find yourself wishing them well.

            The novel is 472 pages long, my copy is paperback and I bought it in Sainsbury's on a 2 for £7.00 deal. The book is published by Harper Collins. The cover on my book differs slightly from that in the Dooyoo catalogue and the ISBN is 9780007268627

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              13.08.2010 23:01
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              A toy that looks good but does very little

              George is Peppa Pig's little brother. Peppa Pig is a cartoon series shown on different television channels but originating with Nick Jr. My children are Nick Jr fans and my youngest son, who will be three in 2 months time, loves Peppa Pig, he especially loves George.

              For my son's second birthday he received a number of Peppa Pig toys including the Character Options Talking Pirate George. This toy George is dresses as a pirate with a blue and white striped coat, with gold buttons. The coat has a Velcro fastening and can be removed and washed. George is also wearing a black velvet pirate's hat with skull and crossbones motif and trimmed with gold, he also is wearing a patch across one eye.

              The toy advises that it is suitable for children aged 18 months+, I think up to about three is the right age range. This George has a voice box and you can squeeze his tummy to make him sound, a kind of motorised "oinking", but hard to distinguish. The voice box requires 3 x LR44 Button cell batteries, we have had this toy nearly 10 months and have not yet had to replace the battery.

              It is a toy that looks good, and it definitely looks like the cartoon character, I just find it a bit boring. Yes it does make a noise but nothing significant and all the voice box does it make it a little difficult to cuddle. My son does not really play with his Talking Pirate George, it occasionally gets released from the toy box but then goes back again. It has been durable and is still going strong but it isn't a favourite in our home. I suppose it is a toy that encourages children to use their imagination when it is played with, but to be honest I haven't noticed my son paying it too much attention. A toy that wouldn't be missed if it got lost.

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              • Little Tikes Slide / Outdoor Toy / 39 Readings / 36 Ratings
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                11.08.2010 15:19
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                A great piece of play equipment

                My youngest son is 34 months old, he'll be three in October, and since he started walking he has wanted to play in the back garden especially on the Little Tikes large slide. Our slide was given to us by my sister-in-law so is about 10 years old. This slide is really durable and my son has great fun using it every day.

                The slide is yellow and green, the slide bit is yellow and the steps up are green, there is a small plaque at the top of the slide with the Little Tikes logo on it. There are three steps on the ladder part to be climbed and then the top of the slide part counts as a fourth step. The ladder part is quite chunky and little hands can easily hold on when climbing up. The slide at the highest point is approximately 31 inches and for a toddler this is quite high. My son has no fear of the slide and really enjoys sliding down it, he goes down on his back, on his front and even head first. My little son can entertain himself for ages playing on the slide.

                The slide comes in one hinged piece and can be folded down for storage, there is a plastic bar attaching the slide part to the ladder and this disconnects to allow the slide to be folded in half for storage. The slide was very easy to put together when we first got it, basically it was opened out and the bar part attached to the ladder, there were no tools needed. We have had this slide for a number of years and it is never been folded down, it just stays in our garden all year round, it has been out in sun, snow, rain and frost and it is still in excellent order. There are no sharp edges or rough parts on the slide, everything is very curved and suited to small children. The slide is sturdy and is well weighted, ours has never toppled over and so far we have not had any accidents on the slide. Children should not be left unsupervised on the slide as they could fall off but my son is now at the stage where he plays independently in the garden although we still keep a watchful eye on him.

                The slide can be used indoors or outdoors but ours stays in the garden. We didn't buy the slide but I have seen them in most large toy stores and they are available from the likes of Tesco Direct and Asda etc. The usual price for this slide seems to be around the £50-£60 mark. This slide is very durable and ours gets plenty of playing with but it is still in good order. There is no maintenance required other than sometimes it needs dried off or wiped over to clean muddy footprints.

                There is also a smaller version of this slide available to buy. This slide is a great piece of play equipment and we would definitely recommend it.

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                  09.08.2010 20:17
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                  A good basic pasta sauce

                  We, like most families, are very much trying to trim back on our spending budget. We are a family of five and our food spending had crept up to over £100 per week, much too much for us to sustain. As part of our efforts to trim the spend we set out a weekly menu plan and shop according to the meals we have planned for. In our store cupboard you will now find Sainsbury's Basics curry sauce, 9p a jar and Tesco Value Pasta Sauce, the latest I bought was 26p. I know I should make these sauces from scratch myself but time limitations caused by working full time mean that I need the ready prepared sauces to prepare the main meals, also I doubt very much if I could make these sauces for the same price as the big stores are selling them.

                  Monday night is pasta night and we use our Tesco Value Sauce on a regular basis. The glass jar has contents of 440g and I can comfortably feed my family with this amount of sauce. One of the main reasons the sauce appeals to me is that it is smooth. The sauce is "a tomato based pasta sauce with mixed herbs", it has no lumpy bits, my children hate lumpy bits, they like vegetables but they eat them separate to the sauce, mainly peppers and courgette, they don't like onions or mushrooms. Basically I divide the jar in two, half for my husband and me and the other half for the children. With the half for us I add it to chopped vegetables: peppers, mushrooms, courgette, and onions. I cook the vegetables by dry frying in the pan and then a couple of minutes before serving I add the pasta sauce just to heat through. What I don't like about this sauce is that I find it quite sweet, probably the reason why my children like it so much. To get rid of the sweetness I add a little bit of tabasco, it gives it just a little kick. Sometimes I add diced bacon or even chorizo but we usually eat it without meat.

                  My youngest child is only two and pasta is his favourite food, most nights he just eats plain cooked pasta for his dinner, sometimes I open a jar of this sauce and use it to add to his meals, I use some of the sauce from the jar and then store the rest in the fridge, it can be kept for 3 days in the fridge once opened.

                  This sauce has 22kcal per 100g, which is very good, however it has quite a high sugar content 1.8g per 100g. The sauce is a good colour of red and you can see the little bits of herbs throughout, it smells pleasant, you get a definite whiff of oregano when you open the jar. The jar is a screw top and is quite easy to open, it also has the distinctive Tesco Value logo etc on the labelling. All in all this jar does what it is supposed to it is a good basic pasta sauce and could be used for other dishes such as chilli, or lasagne. It is a sauce that appeals to my whole family and is very good value for money, available in Tesco. We will continue to use this sauce.

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                • Tomy Hide 'n' Squeak Eggs / Baby Toy / 49 Readings / 48 Ratings
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                  07.08.2010 17:37
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                  A good durable toy for little children

                  I have three children the oldest is nine and the youngest is two and all three have thoroughly enjoyed playing with our Tomy Hide 'n' Squeak eggs. Basically the toy is a plastic egg box containing six toy eggs, the toy is dual purpose, it is a shape sorter and a discovery toy.

                  The egg box is similar in size to a real egg box, it is plastic and is bright yellow, and it has TOMY embossed on the lid. There is a little catch to ensure the box stays securely fastened when it is closed, it can be a little hard for children to open the box but mine were able to master it quite quickly. Inside the egg box there are six individual eggs, each about the size of a real large egg, on the flatter part of the egg there is a little shape that helps fit the egg into the egg box. Each egg has its own shape on the bottom, heart, square, triangle, cross, circle and star. Children can have great fun sorting the eggs into their correct place.

                  The outer "shell" of each egg is white, and each one has a little face with different individual expressions, eyes closed, one with one eye open as if winking, another with eyes wide open. The eggs split in two, so when they hatch, inside each shell there is a little chick, there are 2 blue chicks, 2 purple and 2 yellow. Each little chick can be pressed down and as it does so it lets out a little "cheep", my youngest son finds this little cheep very amusing, his favourite game is to press down the little chick behind you so as to surprise you and make you laugh.

                  This is a very simple toy but it is fun to play with and it helps with development, it helps children with their dexterity and their fine finger movements. It is fun to sort the eggs into their correct place in the box and it is also fun to open each in two and then put the little faces back on the eggs. This toy is very durable, it has been in our family for nine years and has been played with by three children as well as visitors to the home. The eggs are just the right size for little hands to hold and use, there are no small parts and no bits to break off. This toy does not need to be charged up nor does it require batteries to be replaced. The eggs and the box are all easy to keep clean, just a wipe over with a damp cloth and a wash with warm soapy water every now and again.

                  The box of eggs does not weigh very much so children can carry it around with the, we originally bought the eggs for my daughter to take away with us on holiday, so it was very easy to pack as all the parts fit so well inside the egg box. The Hide 'n' Squeak can be bought in most toy stores and other stores that sell children's toys. I don't remember how much we paid for our set but don't think it was too much, they are current available on Amazon for around the £5.00 mark. A toy we would definitely recommend, it may be low tech and uncomplicated but it is good fun for little children and will keep them happy and amused.

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                  • FIFA 10 (DS) / Nintendo DS Game / 35 Readings / 33 Ratings
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                    06.08.2010 17:16
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                    A game to be enjoyed by children

                    I'm writing this review purely from a third party persepctive, it is my 6 year old son who plays the game. Neither am I a gaming or technical expert so cannot really comment on the technicality of the graphics etc. Most of the reviews of the game I have read have rated it as rather poor, however my son gets great enjoyment from the game.

                    My son received this game as a reward for good behaviour over a period of time. He has had it a fair few months now and I can honestly say that anytime his DS is picked up the cartridge in the DS will be Fifa 10. This game is played on a daily basis, now I don't allow my son to play all day on his DS, strictly after homework and if his behaviour has been good.

                    I listen to my son playing the game and he gets really involved in the matches, it is almost like having a running commentary from Match of the Day. He really gets into the characters and the flow of the match, the game holds his attention, enthusiasm and he generally has great enjoyment from it. He shows me action replays and looks for consolation if a referee's decision does not go his way. I have looked at the images on screen and the graphics seem ok for an electronic game, it is obvious who the teams are if not the individual players. I cannot compare this version against over consoles as we only have it for the DS.

                    This game seems to be good fun and my 6 year old thoroughly enjoys it, older DS players may want a more tactically challenging game but for my son this is a game he plays over and over again. A definite recommendation from my 6 year old son.

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                    04.08.2010 19:25
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                    A very poor experience from this world wide chain

                    I recently had a one night stay at the Hilton, Paddington in London, it was a celebratory weekend with 3 ladies I have been friends with since primary school. We had all turned 40 the year before but this was our first opportunity to celebrate together. As this was a special occasion we thought we would come to London for the weekend and have a real treat, somewhere nice to stay, some shopping, eating and drinking and more shopping. Hence we decided to book a suite at the Hilton, it was the most convenient for us as we were flying into Heathrow and also we were meeting up with a friend who was travelling to London by train. We booked our suite for Saturday 26th June 2010. We specifically wanted a suite as it advised online that there were suites that would sleep four adults.

                    I have to say that getting to the Paddington Hilton was a breeze, we literally flew into Heathrow, got the Heathrow express to Paddington and walked about 4 minutes through Paddington station and into the hotel just off the concourse. The hotel has its own direct entrance/exit from the station and it was so simple to get to, this was very important for four women travelling to the big city for a visit.

                    Our first impression of the hotel was very good, we arrived from the Paddington station entrance which is at the back of the hotel so we walked through the bar area and found a table to sit at to wait for our friend. The bar area was pleasant, clean and the seating was comfortable. We ordered some drinks, which were a bit slow to be brought to the table, we then waited as our check-in time was 3.00pm, which was about 45 minutes to wait. At 3.00pm we went to the reception desk at the front of the hotel. The front entrance is very pleasing, there is a revolving door and a concierge desk to the left of the entrance and the reception to the right, the whole reception area is bright and spacious and appeared well maintained.

                    The suite had been booked online and we had brought the confirmation email with us, however when we got to the desk we were told the suite was not ready and we would have to wait a little while, that was it no apology, no offer of refreshment, nothing we would just have to wait. We waited half an hour and then went back to reception to be told the suite still was not ready but we could wait in the executive bar. At this point we did express our displeasure, we had travelled far and would like our room to get ready in as we were on a short visit and time was precious. We requested the duty manager, who eventually arrived after we had sat in the executive lounge, we did ask for a complimentary drink and were given one alcoholic drink each. The room still was not ready and we were told it was taking longer than expected because it "was very dirty"!

                    Eventually at 4.10pm we got the room passes and we went up to the suite. We purposely asked for a suite so as we could all be together and it was be a bit more luxurious than the other rooms, however it was a bit disappointing. We entered the suite, it consisted of a bedroom, bathroom, hallway and dining room with a very large table. In the bedroom there were 2 single beds side by side a put up bed on the floor and the fourth bed was in the dining room on its own. To be honest we were a bit gob smacked as the room was a bit of a let down. We had booked a suite for 1 night and the tariff was £400 before taxes, so it was not a cheap room. I went to the reception desk to complain to the duty manager, who was very unhelpful and not at all accommodating, we didn't expect the beds to be temporary beds and we didn't expect one of them to be just abandoned in the dining room, this was not how the suite was portrayed on the internet and was not at all what we were expecting. The duty manager was unable to offer us any solutions until one of my party asked for the fourth bed to be moved into the main bedroom with the others, this was done when we were out for the evening and whilst it ensured we were together it was done begrudgingly. The 2 put up beds weren't really acceptable for adults, they would have been fine for small children but not adults.

                    The hotel does look reasonable inside and the carpets and fittings are gold and red and look decent, there are many art deco features and it is pleasing in appearance. The executive lounge area, which you have access to if you book a suite, was ok if a bit small, nothing special you also have complimentary soft drinks up to 7.00pm, it is a bit like an airline's executive or business class lounge. We did use the toilets when we were in the bar area and they were clean with a good supply of soap etc.

                    The bathroom in the suite was a good size, it had a toilet, separate walk-in shower and a large vanity area, no bath, it had good lighting and was well stocked with toiletries. There is also a separate toilet with wash basin just off the dining room at the back of the suite. The dining area just seemed completely pointless, it had a very large table and a television, it was not at all comfortable and wouldn't be somewhere you would sit to relax, and it was more like a meeting room. The suite had air conditioning, which was very noisy during the night, but we couldn't figure out how to adjust it or turn it off.

                    The main bedroom was large and would have been fine for a couple, but was not really suited as a family bedroom or room to sleep more than 2 people. As well as the bed there was decent storage and a television, there were large windows but we couldn't figure out how to open them. There was a mirrored bar area just off the hallway with kettle, cups, coffee, tea etc, there was also a minibar but the prices were very expensive and we didn't use this. When we arrived in the room there was complimentary fruit and some water, but considering the suite was booked for four adults there was only 2 small bottles of water left for us.

                    We did not eat in the hotel restaurant, instead we went to an Italian restaurant in the area. The nightlife seemed quite bustling and there were plenty of places to eat and drink located nearby. After we had finished our meal we returned to the hotel and went into the hotel nightclub, as we were residents in the hotel we did not have to pay an entrance fee. We had a few cocktails in the nightclub but did not stay very late, there appeared to be a DJ box but I'm not sure what time the DJ started. The nightclub looked ok, it was dark but there were not too many people in it when we were there around midnight.

                    Because we had booked a suite we were entitled to breakfast in the executive lounge in the morning. The breakfast was fine, buffet style. There was a selection of cooked and non-cooked, plenty of fruit and cereal and continental breakfast items such as cheese, hams, yoghurt etc. Tea, coffee, hot chocolate and juices were on tap from machines. We enjoyed the breakfast and we had our fill before we left for the day. Check out was 12.00 and was easier than the check-in, we were able to leave our bags at the concierge's desk during the day and collect them again later before we boarded the train back to Heathrow.

                    The suite was clean enough and perhaps the best feature was the bathroom, the shower was very good. We didn't have dinner in the hotel, so I don't know what the restaurant service was like. However the biggest disappointment for us was the customer service, we found the reception staff to be very unhelpful and there was definitely a language barrier. There was no effort made to ensure our room was what we needed or had indeed booked.

                    Overall the hotel was alright, nothing special, probably 4 stars from an accommodation perspective but the customer service was very poor. Everything seemed slow and the staff were disinterested, the hotel has an excellent location for travelling throughout London and it would take very little effort to ensure visitors had an enjoyable stay. It is not somewhere we will stay again, too pricey for the standard of service. We are visiting London at the end of September for 2 nights and will definitely be looking to stay elsewhere.

                    More information on the Hilton group of hotels can be found at www.hilton.com and specific information on the Hilton Paddington can be found at www.hilton.co.uk/paddington we had no problems with booking directly through the website, but if you have particular requirements it maybe better to contact the hotel directly by telephone. All in all the hotel was just ok, and I would stay there again but with lowered expectations, I did think it was expensive for the one night but it was very convenient for accessing the city and getting to and from Heathrow.

                    Also on Ciao.

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                      01.08.2010 17:16
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                      A good product that works

                      We go through quite a lot of shower products in our home with 2 adults having a daily shower and 2 children have a couple of showers a week. I have tried various makes of shower products but usually buy Sanex or Radox, however I recently was attracted to Original Source Lime shower. I think it was the vibrant colour that attracted my attention and then the price in Tesco that persuaded me to buy the product.

                      I paid £1.00 for 250ml in Tesco, Original Source products are available in other shops, chemists, supermarkets etc. The packaging is basic, a plastic oblong shaped bottle with a black lid. The lid is flat so the shower gel/creme sits on the bath rather than hanging from the shower. The lid is a basic push up lid, it closes securely to avoid leaks or spillages. I am not sure whether it is a shower gel, crème or liquid, the consistency is quite thick but not gloupy, a gentle squeeze of the bottle and it comes out easily, but neither is it runny.

                      When you open the lid and squeeze some of the product out you are immediately hit by the really strong smell of lime. It reminds me of the lime sweet in the original Opal Fruits or Starbursts as they now are. The smell is very strong but not overpowering and when you apply it to a sponge or your skin the smell is definitely acute, although it is not a lingering smell. I found the smell to be really pleasant and I find that first thing in the morning it really does give a zing to waken up your senses. There is no burning sensation or stinging when applied to the skin, I found the gel to lather very well when applied direct to the skin or onto a sponge.

                      According to the label on the back of the product Original Source lime is endorsed by the Aromatherapy Trade Council, it is suitable for vegans, is in a recyclable container and once opened should be used within 12 months. My daughter has sensitive skin and she has been able to use this product with no ill effects. I have found that after using the product for a couple of weeks there is no drying effect on my skin nor does it cause me any itching or any other irritation. There is a list of the product ingredients on the back on the bottle so you could check out what is in it before using it.

                      We have found this to be a totally satisfactory product, it does exactly what you would want a shower product to do, wake you up and wash your body. It is described as "mouth-wateringly zingy" and I think this is a very fair and apt description. I would recommend this product.

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                        22.07.2010 00:06
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                        Tasty, healthy snack

                        My children have to take healthy break to school for their morning break, sometimes they take fruit and other times they take, French toasts or Kallo rice cakes. My children have eaten rice cakes since they were small babies, I gave them small rice cakes as finger foods when they were being weaned onto solids so they have always had a taste for them. Personally I find rice cakes a bit bland on their own but my children just eat them plain with no topping.

                        These Kallo rice cakes , are wholegrain, they are large circular discs measuring approximately 9cm in diameter and 1 cm depth. They are basically pieces of puffed rice fused together to form a crispy circular snack. They are an off white colour with little bits of brown through the cake, the wholegrain rice. The rice cakes are not sweet they are a savoury item, they taste rather nutty and have a slightly salty tinge to them. They don't really taste of very much but they are not unpleasant and my children eat them all the time, you could add toppings to try and make them more interesting, perhaps cream cheese or some other spread, even just sliced tomatoes or cheese. I don't find them very filling and would consider them to be quite light in texture, not at all stodgy.

                        We have tried various makes of rice cake but Kallo id definitely my children's preferred choice. They come in a 130g cylindrical paper pack, with Kallo logo on the front, it is quite distinctive packaging. I never have any bother finding them in the supermarkets, they are sometimes in the biscuit aisle with the savoury crackers and sometimes they are in the "free from" section, but usually I can find them easily enough. The rice cakes have only 28 calories and are low in fat. These are a regular in our shopping basket, even when the children are not a school, they sometimes just have them as a snack between meals. My youngest child is nearly three and I find it very difficult to get him to eat a breakfast in the morning before he goes off to the childminder, but most mornings he will munch on a Kallo rice cake before we head off.

                        There are some other varieties in the Kallo range but we generally buy the wholegrain rice cakes. They are suitable for vegetarians and vegans and are gluten free. If they are left exposed to the air they can go a bit soft, so they could be stored in an airtight container, I usually have no storage problems with them because they get eaten quickly in my home. These are a relatively healthy snack that taste fine, they are versatile and can have toppings added or just eaten on their own. We recommend these rice cakes.

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                          15.07.2010 20:04
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                          A very simple toy and young children will enjoy

                          This toy was bought for my youngest child as a present when he was a very small baby, he is now two. The Playskool lullaby gloworm is played with every day in our home and my son especially likes to have it with him when he is going to sleep.

                          Basically it is a little gloworm that lights up and plays some lullabies. The child presses the gloworm's tummy and this causes the little face to light up and also to play a short medley of some lullabies. My little son loves his gloworm or bug as he calls it. The light fades as the music finishes and it is only on for a matter of a minute or so.

                          The toy has lasted nearly 2 years and is still going really strong. The 3 AA batteries can be replaced but they last so well, I think I have replaced the batteries only twice in all the time we have had it. The batteries are contained in a little compartment in the gloworm's back, this compartment can also be removed to allow washing of the gloworm.

                          It is a good size for little hands and is easily carried around. The gloworm has 2 outstretched arms, a plastic face and a hard body with soft tail and it looks very friendly and inviting to any child. The one we have is exactly like the Dooyoo picture, but it is also available in other colours, I think with a pink hood. I don't think the colours make it a toy for a boy and it would be suitable for boys or girls.

                          This is a very simple toy, it is really meant as a soother as it does not really do very much but then again it is meant for young children and they have great interaction by pressing the tummy and seeing the face lighting up while playing soothing music. This is a very pleasing little toy for small children. It is reasonably priced and readily available.

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