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Lets start by rewinding our memories back to December 31st 2006, its almost midnight and most people are waiting for the countdown for the beginning of 2007.
Its a time when people generally hope for happy times, and wish others the best of luck for the following 12 months. For some people its a time when dread sets in, over what traumas and nightmare they will face over the next year.
Much happened in 2007, but looking back on the year as a whole, for me, it made me realise what kind of a world we live in today.
New Years Eve 2006:
My friend and her partner had a party for New Year, there were only around 10 of us around to their house for drinks, a few daft party games and a curry. It was fun - we usually all go out to a pub or club for new year, but decided this year it would be quiet affair.
Half way through the night around 10pm around 20 kids were fighting outside, completely paraletic on god knows what. We heard the commotion and looked out of the window. One boy around 13-14 years old was getting beaten up by 3 other lads around 16 years old. We rang the police. One lad gets up onto the roof of my friend's boyfriends car and starts jumping up and down. The Police turn up, riot vans, the works. On going outside to one of the police officers, my friend's boyfriend told the officer that the car belonged to him, that he didnt know the youth standing on the roof of it, and asked the officer to get him down immediately. My friend's boyfriend wasnt aggressive, drunken or abusive, yet the police officer pushed him to the floor, then politely asked the lad to jump down from the car and move on.
We were disgusted that the police officer was so lenient on these drunken kids, physically assaulted my friend's boyfriend, and then made everyone go on their way. We took the police officer's ID number and made a complaint about him the following day. The sergeant in charge, denied that this officer was even working on this night, and accused us of making the whole thing up.
Once again, the guilty get off scott free, my friend's boyfriend is left with a damaged car and a bruised back from where the police officer pushed him over.
The very start of 2007 taught me that the is no meaning of the word Justice.
I turned 28 years old in 2007. Its not old, its not young, its an age where you have had hopefully, a third of your life experience. Alot of people consider 28 to be young, but when I see teenagers in 2007, murdering other kids, holding knifes to everyone and beating up innocent people, 2007 made me realise just how much life in the UK has changed for many over the past 20 years.
2007 also made me nervous about having children. I want kids, but it is so difficult to bring up a child, as many of my friends are experiencing at the moment, with all the gang culture of today.
2007 saw many children murdered by other children, 2007 saw many elderly people assaulted by children, and 2007 saw a craze of "happy slapping".
I remember 20 years ago in 1987, us kids were petrified of kicking the football in the street just in case it hit a car and we would get told off. We would never ever dream of back-chatting or verbally abusing an adult. We didnt run riot in huge gangs, or be threatening to anybody of any kind.
In 20 years where has it all gone wrong?
I know this is a slightly morbid review, but I'm in a situation now, where I'm sturggling to believe that this country is a safe place to live. Home is supposed to be about feeling safe, feeling secure and confident in your being. Many people just dont feel like this anymore.
If 2007 is anything to go by where improvement is concerned, god only knows where we will be in another 20 years.
People could say I should put this review in another section, but I dont feel it belongs there. This review IS about looking back at 2007 for me, as it is when the light cast a bright beam with the realisation of the world we live in today.
I hope there is a section for "Looking back at 2008" in a year from now, it would be nice to write a review about people doing good things for one another, about being safe and secure.
We'll see what happens and I'll see you in 12 months, provided I've not been murdered by a hoodie.
I am the latest one to jump on the bandwagon and do this little questionairre. I read a few of the other reviews with these questions and thought, why not?
Its just a bit of fun, and gives me a distraction from facing the housework I have to do today!
******1. How long, on average, does it take you to get rid of someone trying to sell you something over the phone?******
Not long. They usually ring to ask me if I want new windows/ plumbing/ car insurance/ switching my bills/ a new mobile. I don't know where these people get my number from, as for 1. it is ex-directory and 2. I don't give it out to anyone except friends and family, so maybe there is a traitor in our ranks, who knows. You can always tell when you are getting a cold call. The line goes fuzzy and there is a pause before anyone speaks. I say "hello". They say, "Can I speak to *insert name here* please?". I say "What are you trying to sell me?" They come out with some jargon about their company, and I put the phone down.
The only time I have lost my temper is when, a few months ago I had just sat down with my tea, in front of the TV, after a long day at work. The phone rang and it was someone trying to sell me something, I put the phone down and continued with my meal. The phone rings again, same thing happens. I'm just settled again, with my meal starting to go cold, and the phone rings yet again. I yell "$£%" OFF" down the phone and I am then greeted with "Its your mother". Now I always wait for that little pause and for the other person to speak before I yell anything abscene.
******2. What is the most expensive object you have ever broken on purpose? ('when angry' counts as 'on purpose' even if you regretted it soon afterwards)******
I'm not sure I should be admitting this on here, as nobody knows about this little incident, but it was over 20 years ago. I was around 7 years old, and used to play with all the other kids who lived down my street. There were around 10 of us in total, all around the same age and we all got on great. However, there was a girl who lived directly across the road from me, who was older than us, she was around 12 years old. Her family were horrible, all scroungers, none of them worked and they were as dogdy as hell. Her dad used to use a van to do "odd jobs", which involved knocking on people's doors to see if they wanted their garden done for 20 quid, that type of thing.
This girl had no mates that we knew of, simply because she was a nasty piece of work. She used to try and bully us all, taking toys and bikes from us, and keeping them in her back garden for herself. When we knocked on her door and asked for them back from her parents, we would get verbal abuse and doors slammed in our faces.
One day in particular, we were all out and about, playing in the street, minding our own buisness when this girl in question, came out of her house with a house brick and smashed it straight into my jaw, for no reason what so ever. Her dad, who was in the front garden, saw this and laughed and went back in the house, followed by his bullying daughter who also found it hilarious. I ran in my house crying and had a huge bruise and a swollen jaw. I went back out to my friends and found they had all gone in for their tea.
I saw my opportunity, went back into my house and got 2 of the biggest safety pins I could find in my mum's sewing box, they were around 3 inches long and went back outside. I made sure nobody was looking and stuck one safety pin in each of her dad's "work van" front tyres. It took all the strength I had to get the pins really deep into the tyres so you could hardly see them sticking out. I went back home for my tea, and I made sure I sat by the window and kept checking to see if anyone had come out to the van. Nobody did, and it grew to time for my bed time.
Next morning, I am leaving my house on my way to school and the girls dad is at his van shouting and swearing to himself and the two front tyres are completely flat. He never found out who did it, and neither did anyone else... untill now!
******3. If you buy something for 99p with a £1 coin, do you really want the 1p back? ******
Yes I would. I have a penny jar that I stick all my coppers and 5ps in each day, and have amounted to a fair amount of cash to go shopping with. I changed a load last week, which was to the value of £37, which got me a pair of new shoes, so yes - always save the pennies.
******4. What was the last thing you shouted while alone in a car? ******
This is a rare occasion for me, as I don't drive so the only time I am ever alone in a car is when someone else is driving and have stopped and got out to go to a shop or something. I shouted at a driver yesterday though, and I was a pedestrian, so that will have to count. He was driving on the wrong side of the road, in a residential area where kids were playing. He pulled up the car outside the corner shop (where I was just coming out of), and nearly hit a child. I called him a few choice words and he shouting something back at me in a language I couldn't understand.
******5. What is your typical path through a supermarket? ******
Fruint and veg, bread, chillded foods, tins, cleaning, freezers - only because that is the path in my Asda store, and this path changes whenever they move the store around, and when they do it annoys the hell out of me.
******6. Do you lick the underside of the foil top when eating a pot of yoghurt? ******
I used to, but haven't done for years. The reason behind this, is at school my friend cut her tongue wide open on a yoghurt pot lid, and it bled like crazy. That put me off, so no - not anymore.
******7. How many greetings cards have you sent in the last 12 months?******
Not that many. Probably around 10. I only send Birthday cards, I'm not into this "sorry your leaving", "you've passed your driving test", "good luck in your exams", rubbish. Some people would send you a card for going to the toilet if they were available to buy. I'll send Birthday cards, and call me miserable but people close to me don't need me to spend 2 quid on a thick piece of paper everytime they do something to know I care.
******8. A criminal maniac invites you to "Pick a city for destruction, Mr. Bond." Which one do you choose? ******
I don't think I would pick a place or a city, it would be a group of people, and those people would be anyone with a connection to terrorism.
******9. Which font do you use most often?******
Arial Size 10. Always.
******10. If you had the choice between a petrol chainsaw or a bread knife, which would you use for felling a small tree with a 1" diameter trunk? ******
It would have to be the knife. Simply because I have seen the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and it scared me.
******11. On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident are you that you know when to use a semicolon?******
Probably about a 7.
******12. What proportion of the CDs you own are in their original cases right now?******
100%. .. No who am I kidding? About half of them, and they are all thrown in a pretty looking box under my stereo. The mess is well hidden.
******13. Favourite colour black or white?******
Neither to be honest. White is a colour that turns see through when wet, and black is a colour associated with work and fat people wanting to look thin. My favourite colour is blue, or yellow.
******14. How accurate is the time on your watch?******
I haven't a clue. My watch was quite expensive and I have lost it so I refuse to buy another until this one turns up.
******15. What you wearing right now?******
Blue jeans from Dorothy P's and a grey Nike hooded sweater, and odd socks. Yes, I am scruffy today as it is my day off, and I'm not going out.
******16. Have you ever written to, emailed or telephoned a newspaper, radio station, TV programme etc? If so, what did you say?******
Yes, actually I emailed ITV about Bad Lad's Army, when they killed, skinned and ate about 30 rabbits to train the recruits on how to do it. The problem was, that as these people weren't trained, and didn't do it right, it resulted in the animals suffering, and the poor little bunnies were petrified. They had no need to kill the animals, and it was just cruel and barbaric. When I emailed my disgust to ITV, I got a snotty reply which told me they had done nothing wrong, and that if I didnt like it, I should go to a higher authority with my complaint.
******17. Do you, in the most fundamental depths of your soul, give a crap about the extinction of the Red Cockaded Woodpecker?******
Yes, I do as they are just one of hundreds of species of animals facing extinction if we humans don't buck our ideas up.
******18. What is the cheapest thing youve bought with a debit or credit card in the past month?******
I had to go the shop for bread and milk and had forgot to take money from the cash point earlier. The nearest cash point from me, is a 15 minute walk so I used my card and got a 25p charge as I hadn't spent the £5 limit. Never mind, it is only 25p.
*****19. Favourite books?******
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, I have loved this book since I was little and still read it from time to time.
A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown
******20. What is your most favourite meal?******
Ooohh a lovely Sunday dinner, chicken, veg, potatoes and all the trimmings, followed my strawberries and yogurt. Yum.
A fun little review to do... now ... back to that housework.....
There are many many sites out there on the worldwide web these days that give you a reward for givng your opinions, taking part in surveys, and testing products.
When I joined Dooyoo, almost 2 months ago, I had never been on a reward site before. I guess Dooyoo got me a little hooked! I read some reviews on Dooyoo about other reward sites, and decided to give a couple of them a go. I signed up to Valued Opinions and Test and Vote on the same day. As yet, I haven't really been offered much from Valued Opinions, and have had alot of use out of Test and Vote so far, so that is how I have come to review this site.
What is this site all about?
Test And Vote are a french company who research opinions and feedback on products from hundreds of different companies. The members on this site are the people who do this, and earn a fair amount of rewards for doing so. You build up "points", just as you do on Dooyoo with miles, and convert them into vouchers, or other offers they may have at that time. I will explain a little more about the points and how to get them as we go along.
The ways in which they do their research, broken down is easy to use and very self-explanatory on the site. Alot of sites like this can be full of jargon, and have "busy" pages, with so much information on, you don't know where to look first, which not only becomes confusing, it makes the site hard to use. Test and Vote isn't like this at all, and the web pages are laid out in a very clear, simple and easy to navigate way. I have found, however, that if you access the site between 6pm and 8pm, the site is very slow to run, and at the moment (it is 7pm now), I have just tried to log-in and can't as the site is down. It also logs me out automatically after about 5 minutes, whether I am active on the site or idle, during these times. I guess the site is just very busy during this period.
The ways in which you can make points, are as follows:
Signing up is very easy, just clicking on register, it guides you through how the site works, and how to create your account. Nothing different to any other site out there to be honest. Just by signing up to this site, you get a huge amount of points. You get 1,500 points for just signing up. Then, there are small questionnaires to fill in about you, and you get 500 points each for them. If you complete all of these, and I think there are around 15, you get awarded a further 2,000 points for your trouble. So in total, if you sign up and fill everything in, you are awarded a massive 11,000 points. The questionnaires also increase your chances of being selected for surveys too, so it is a win-win situation for you, as long as these are filled out.
Test and Vote send you surveys via email and the reward for these can vary from 3,000 to 30,000 points. So far, the highest amount I have got from one survey is 10,000 points. When you sign up to the site, you fill in a series of questionnaires which they use to determine if you are "matched" for taking part in any particular survey. They only have a set number of people needed for each survey, but they will send the survey out to alot more people than this needed number, so this means you have to be quick. If you are not fast to respond, sometimes the number of replies back from the survey has already been reached, and enough members have filled the survey in, so you will get a pop-up saying you are not required as the number of people filling the survey in was reached. This means you have missed out on earning miles, so responding fast is a must. I have missed 2 surveys this way, missing out on 14,000 points.
Occasionally, you need to answer a couple of questions to see if you are suitable for the particular survey, and if you do not match the criteria they are looking for, it will boot you out of the survey. This has also happened to me twice.
I have had 9 surveys sent to me in 2 weeks of being a member, earning me so far, 24,500 points just for the surveys I have filled in. These points do not get credited to your account straight away though, and can take up to 28 days to appear. I have had 4000 of these credited so far to me, so I keep a note of how many points are pending, to keep track of this, as there is nothing on the site showing pending points. I only filled out 3 of the surveys in the last 3 days, so I don't expect them any time soon, having said that my 4000 points were credited the next day so it is a little random on how and when they credit you.
The surveys can be about anything and everything. I have had car, cinema, shopping, advertisments, and magazine surveys so far, and they are very easy to fill in, usually multiple choice questions which you just click on which ever answer is closest to your own thoughts.
Opinions are part of this site, but don't work like Dooyoo or general review sites. You basically select your topic, and you write an 80+ word opinion on it. These topics vary from products, films, people, politics, advice - very similar to Dooyoo products really. For each opinion you write, you get 100 miles. You don't get any more points for member reads, and there are no crowning systems in place. You get your 100 points, and that is it, so I generally keep my opinion writing to around 100 words, as there is no point in writing a detailed review.
The opinions are verified by Test and Vote first before they appear to other members, and you are credited as soon as this is done. I have written 7 of these so far, and have been credited within around an hour of submitting each one.
There is a system in place, for rating reviews, but there is no explanation on how this works anywhere on the site. So far, I have been awarded an extra 5 points for one of my opinions, and a number 3 has appeared next to it. I have no idea how this system works, as there is nothing on the site telling you about it, but you can rate other members opinions, so this must be connected somehow.
Quick votes are a very fast way to earn miles. They are 1 question surveys and mulitple choice. On the Quick Votes page, you simply have a list of questions. Underneath a question you click on "participate" and a drop down menu appears consisting of answers. You select an answer and that is it. You can only answer each question once, and for each one you are awarded 15 points. It took me around 10 minutes to answer about 50 of these questions earlier this week, awarding me with 750 points.
New questions on the quick votes page are added, usually daily, so there are always ways to make points.
Test and Vote offer products for you to test out. These can be anything from a hairbrush to a sat-nav system. You register yourself to test a product, by clicking on it, answering 2 questions and if you are selected, the product is delivered to your home address, and you review that product. If you are selected, you also get to keep that particular product. I have registered for 3 of these so far, but haven't been selected, but it really is pot luck and a prize drawer as to who gets this.
What are the points worth?
The rewards on this site are very good, and although they don't offer cash I still find them very worthwhile:
You can exchange some of your points to enter competitions, by exchangin 1,500 of your points per month you can enter a prize drawer to win £1000 cash.
(When you sign up to the site you are given one ticket for that month's cash draw, free of charge, on top of the points you get for signing up)
You can exchange 500 points you can enter an Itunes prize drawer to win one of 25 £20 ITunes cards each month.
You can exchange 1500 points to enter a "Miles and More" competition to win "Miles and More" points.
5,000 = 7.5% discount at thebeautifulcompany.com on all purchases
5,000 = 10% discount at drinkstuff.com when you spend £50 or more
40,000 = 1200 ipoints
60,000 = 600 bonus "miles and more" miles
60,000 = £12 HMV voucher
60,000 = £12 Halfords voucher
60,000 = £12 Cdwow voucher
160,000 = Priority pass to give you access to 500 VIP lounges in 275 cities worldwide
How can I track my progress?
The is a tab at the top of the page called "Personal Area". This page gives you access to your profile, what points have been awarded to you, and for what, and on what date. It tells you if you have a any prize draw tickets for that month and if so, you ticket number. Here you can update your profile, and personal details, along with check any messages you may have recieved from other members, although I don't think the messaging part of the site is used, apart from by people that probably already know each other.
You can also refer friends to Test and Vote, and each person that signs up that you have "recruited", you get awarded an extra 500 points per person.
I think the site is a very nice little earner to be honest, and I have clocked up, including pending points, in only 2 weeks - 39,760 points. I am getting an email every other day or so, with a new survey, and write 2 opinions every other day or so, which take no longer than 10 minutes. I also do the new Quick Votes every other day, and in total, probably only log-in for around 30 minutes every other day, and that includes filling out the surveys.
The site is french owned, and occasionally there can be a faullt in site where certain parts of the page are in French, but if you log out, then back in again, then it usually corrects itself, and I have only seen this twice in a fortnight.
I am going to opt for the HMV vouchers, which are sent my email, as this is probably the only thing I will use, but I'm more than happy with that, as I shop with HMV quite a bit.
The only downside to this site, is that there isn't really a community, there is a messaging system in place, but as quick vote, surveys and product tests are all anonymous, then you don't really get to mix with the other members, apart from on the opinions page. There is a private messaging system to use if you want to, but as yet I haven't spoken to one single member, or nor do I know any members of this site. The only reason I think you would need to message someone on this site, is to ask a question about how it works in some way, I don't think it is a "community site", in the way that Dooyoo is.
All in all, it is a site I have running in the background on my pc every other day or so, making a little bit of pocket money at the same time.
For more info:
~~What do zoos in the UK mean to us? ~~
In the UK the majority of us love a good day out at the zoo. I know I do, I have reviewed Chester Zoo already, which is one of my favourite places to visit. When I was a child I would get excited about a trip to the zoo and remember being so excited about going, that I could never sleep the night before. The reason I love zoos? It is a chance to see animals that I will probably never get to see in the wild, some animals that won't be in the wild in 15 years time due to extinction, and some animals that are extinct already. It isn't just seeing these animals that makes me enjoy visiting the zoo, it is seeing them in great, spacious enclosures, close to their natural habitat, and in which they seem to be very comfortable and happy.
It is great to learn about the animals on a zoo visit, and it is fantastic to see zoos doing something for environmental issues and conservation, protecting endangered species and setting up breeding programmes to keep these animals in life. A few people think zoos are cruel places and in the UK we are lucky enough to be a nation of animal lovers who only want the best for the species that are being kept in this country.
**Chester zoo - Chester zoo is my favourite place to visit for a day out, I won't go into huge detail about the zoo, as I have reviewed this already and will be going off topic a little but they have a whole range of campaigns to help with protecting endangered species, including supporting anti poaching of Rhinos in Africa to connservation in forest reserves in China. They really do have a huge input, and at the same time care for their animals in the best possible way they can. They are constantly striving to improve and constantly renovating, and building new enclosures for the existing animals in the zoo, as opposed to leaving them where they are and just making money. They have a new super-enclosure opening next month called Realm Of The Red Ape, which is an enclosure for orang-u-tans, and for those of you who don't know this, this species of ape is expected to be extinct in the wild in the next 20 years. The enclosure has cost £3.5 million to make and this is evidence enough to show that Chester Zoo care about the animals on our planet and in their zoo.
I can go into detail a little more about Chester Zoo, as I have further knowledge of this zoo that any others, and visit on a regular basis.
*Bristol Zoo - Supports Cameroon Wildlife Aid Fund, the conservation of seabirds in South Africa, and they support the protection of Tamarins in Brazil, along with numerous other campaigns and funding that they all give to promote consevation and protection of animals.
*Blackpool Zoo - Supports Parrot welfare, and Mountain Gorilla's fight for survival, another animal in danger of becoming extinct. I have also reviewed this zoo and all the animals seemed so happy and had enclosures that were fantastic.
*Edinburgh Zoo - Are helping Save the Rhino, stopping the bushmeat trade in which primates are killed often leaving stranded orphans behind to starve to death, and this zoo has numerous animals entered in breeding programmes to prevent their species from becoming extinct. They are actively involved in conservation in Scotland, as well as other parts of the world.
*London Zoo/whipsnade zoo - Both of these places are ran by the Zoological Society Of London (ZSL). The ZSL run over 30 conservation programmes worldside and run many different campaigns and breeding programmes to protect the planet, fight extinction, prevent global warming, preserving rainforests, water supplies and so much more. This zoo really leads the way as one of the top activists.
All 5 zoos I have mentioned so far, and only 5 out of many zoos and safari parks in the UK, are doing fantastic work for animal welfare across the globe, but at the same time, realise their number one priority are the animals within their care. Chester Zoo is a clear example of this by constantly aiming to improve standards within their zoo, as their moto seems to be "nothing is ever good enough", which is a fantastic attitude to have where animal welfare is concerned. In the UK we have some of the world's leading experts in wild animal care and zoology working within our zoos.
To sum up the first part of the review - we can see that as a whole, the UK seems to strive to be the best at keeping the animals in great conditions, the animals seem happy, and always strive to do better and improve themselves. Zoos in the UK are a "happy place" for us to visit, when we think of a zoo, the majority of us will think of animals being kept to a high standard, an educational, yet fun day out. I find it quite sad that I have to move on to the second part of the review.
<<In the UK - definition of the word ZOO>>
- A place to care for, protect, preserve and nuture many species of animals allowing the public to view them, educating the public at the same time, raising awareness of extinction, conservation issues and campaigns, striving to fight anything terrible happening to the millions of wild animals across our planet.
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~What does the word "Zoo" mean abroad?~
Moving on to the second part of the review... sadly it is not the same as the UK where the rest of the world is concerned. Countries such as America, Canada and Austrailia, and certain European countries seem to have got it pretty much right, with a few exceptions.
Not a great deal can be said for the rest of the world, I'm afraid.
*City Zoo, Warsaw, Poland. - This zoo is over 70 years old and alot of it is rotting away. Used as a money maker, this zoo doesn't seem to give a hoot about it's inhabitants. I have never visited this zoo, but have read that there have been a few improvements over the last few years, but they are no where near up to any means of what I would call a humane standard.
Here is a video of a polar bear being kept at Warsaw Zoo. It is pacing up and down, rocking through boredem, no food or water is visible, the swimming pool is green, and no toys, no company.
*Changchung Wildlife Park, China. - This place has to be one of the most barbaric and cruel places ever. For a charge, visitors can "purchase" a live chicken, lamb or cow, and have them fed live to animals within the zoo. I find this unnecessary and cruel. In this country it is illegal to feed live animals to a captive mammal, it is a huge shame that the Chinese cannot realise that it is cruel to do what they are doing.
Here is a video of the whole procedure from this zoo:
*Various animals from various Chinese Zoos are being forced to take part in the annual "Animal Olympics", a cruel and barbaric way,of yet again, making money. It involves wild animals doing all kinds of tricks, involving bears, primates, reptiles. A truly sick sport, and money maker. An example, bears are gagged, muzzled, and chained together so they "wrestle"... this is "bear fighting". They are screamed at by crowds of people cheering them on who have paid to watch this sick event.
China, as a country is a very wealthy and very educated country. How on earth can they not realise that what they are doing is unneccessary, sick and cruel?
*Unknown zoo, Thailand - This zoo uses animals to perform tricks, of course always at a charge to make money money money. Elephants riding bikes, which they are clearly "stuck to" to perform. This is not keeping animals in their natural habitat, this is not preserving wildlife, this is not keeping them in great conditions, and this is not humane.
Here is another video, this one of the elephant riding a bike:
The above zoos are only 5 out of the thousands of zoos worldwide. My advice is, if you are travelling abroad, do not visit a zoo. 1. You are only encouraging them by handing over your money. 2. It will be extremely upsetting, after visiting a zoo in the UK to be faced with derelict conditions, poor treatment of animals, and what would be classed as a serious cruelty charge here in the UK.
Of course, not all zoos abroad are like this, but it is a sad fact that the majority are. The majority of zoos abroad do not do anything for animal welfare, no campaigns and no charites. They are all out to make money for themselves and to hell with the animals. It seems the attitude here is "If the animals are alive, then we make the cash".
To sum up the second part of the review - I cannot understand why on earth, the UK, a teeny tiny little area of the globe can be so advanced with animal welfare, care and protection when major, established countries like China, haven't got a clue. They are lucky enough to have some of these animals living wild in their country, and take them for granted, maybe that is the reason, who knows? I certainly cannot get my head around the fact that we, a tiny nation are so far advanced with our animal protection laws, than further established countries in every way possible. The UK seems to be a place that has its priorities right where it comes to animal welfare, and we should be proud of setting a fantastic example to the rest of the world - its just a pity they don't seem to be following.
<<Abroad - Definition of the word ZOO>>
- A place to keep animals, perform animal shows and make money.
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So to sum up the whole review:
Zoos have a place in today's society. They have a fantastic place in society within the UK, and not the case abroad. The problem is, I don't think this will ever change, untill other countries start to change their laws on animal cruelty as their standards of animal husbandry are terrible. Not all zoos abroad are like this, but alot sadly are, with China and Eastern Europe being amongst the worst.
The answer to the orginal question depends on what society you live in, if you live in a society where animals are looked after, they seem happy, they are not forced to perform, they have habitats as close to their natural wild habitats as possible, they are fed the correct foods, have plenty of things to do, not overcrowded by guests, and are seriously treasured, then yes, Zoos have a fantastic place in society. If not, then zoos should be forced to close and the animals moved to a safer place, i.e. a REAL zoo. Many of the zoos in Eastern Europe only house around 50 animals, kept in dire conditions. On the other hand, you have Chester Zoo, with over 7000 animals kept in fantastic conditions.
I will never ever visit a foreign zoo untill conditions are improved and they get off their backsides, stop wanting to just make money and actually give a damn about the animals on this planet.
Regis Hair Salons can be found in most towns and cities across the UK and are growing to have a good repuation. I have reviewed Regis as a salon already, but last week I went in to my local salon after being told by a friend about an offer on their hair products at the moment.
~Why did I need a new shampoo?~
After years of having highlights in my hair it is starting to get very weak. I have my hair cut every 6 weeks or so to keep on top of split ends, but they still kept appearing. My hair is in great condition underneath, but on top where the bleach is, my hair has come to resemble something inbetween straw and wool. Not a nice thought.
I have tried all different shampoos and conditioners, Dove, Orginal Source, Pantenne, Tony and Guy and Aussie to name a few. I have used all their repair, protect, rescue remedies, and conditioning treatments but nothing seemed to work. I have been told numerous times to stay away from Salon shampoo as they just put the price as high as they like, but I thought I would give it a go. Anything was worth a shot with my mess of a hairdo.
I walked into the salon and started to browse in the shop area (they have a shop at the front of the salon about the size of a small newsagents), and a girl came up and asked if I needed any help with anything. I told her that I was looking for a new shampoo and didn't want something like Tigi, or any named brand. I wanted preferably their own brand as I know that when I go to a Regis salon for my haircuts, they always use this, so I know it suits my hair.
Regis have their own brand of hair products called Design Line, in which they do practically everything you can think of for hair. There are all different types of shampoo, and the assistant could see my hair is poker straight, so I obviously use straighteners. She showed me Design Line Straight Pressed Shampoo, which was priced at £10.80. However, she told me about the box set on offer, for £18.00 which included the shampoo but also included the conditioner (usually £10.80), straightening spray (around £12) and a straightening protector (around £15), so I got about £55 worth of products for £18.00 - Bargain!
~What was the product like?~
The Shampoo comes in a 300ml bottle, or you can buy a 500ml. I opted for the 300ml to start off with as it was in the boxset. The bottle is fairly plain and simple, but as they say its whats inside that counts! The shampoo contains Shea Butter as an ingredient, which is one of the most moisturising ingredients in the world, being used for 1000s of years by women in the rainforests. When putting it on my hair it made an instant difference as my hair just seemed to soak up the moisture being offered by the shampoo, even though my hair was obviously wet, I could still see a difference from using normal shampoos. It lathers well, and you only need a very small amount. I also noticed it is very easy to rinse out. Often I am standing there for what feels like an eternity waiting for my hair to be bubble free, and it certainly wasn't the case with this shampoo. It has a very clean and fresh smell to it, and leaves your hair feeling super-clean and soft.
I used my normal conditioner, and decided to save the Regis conditioner untill I next washed my hair, as I wanted to see if the shampoo made a difference on it's own. I let my hair dry naturally as usual, and then ran the straighteners over it afterwards to control any fly away bits. My hair was softer than it has been in a long time, and was alot more managable. I hardly needed to use the straighteners as my hair just seemed to look straight without them.
As I have already said, I visit Regis salons every 6 weeks or so, and my hair always looks good and feels great afterwards, but I always put this down to the stylists, blow drying, and straightening my hair professionally, but to be honest, after using this product, I think the results you get from the salon have alot to do with the products they use. In the salons they ONLY use Design Line products, and since using the shampoo on it's own, I have used the full collection as a regime, and my hair felt like I had just been to have it cut and styled.
I will be using this shampoo from now on. Since initially buying the boxset a week ago, I have washed my hair 4 times, and the condition of my hair seems to be improving each time, by a big difference. I washed my hair on my day off on Monday, went into work on Tuesday and a girl I work with asked me if I had had my hair done, as it looked really nice, and I never mentioned the shampoo to her prior to this. On telling her what I had used, she too went and bought some and thinks it is amazing stuff too.
Although it is a little pricy at £10.80 a bottle, the boxset is amazingly good value, and the assistant who served me in the salon told me that they also have regular 3 for 2 offers on them too, so that makes it a little easier on the pocket. The money I have spent on numerous products, trying to improve the condition of my hair, probably amounts to way more than this anyway, at least now I know I have found something that works!
A great shampoo, a little pricy, but well worth it!
There are people that annoy me, day in and day out, and I am sure there are people who annoy everyone reading this, day in and day out. People who annoy you, you can generally just walk away from them, distance yourself from them, or in the case of Dooyoo -you can just avoid reading their reviews!
However, there are certain people that you just can't escape from as they are in the newspapers, magazines, on the TV and news. Celebrities, some of them not celebrities and famous for just being... well... famous, are in our faces on a daily basis through no choice of our own.
So... my Top ten annoying celebs:
10. Richard Blackwood.
He has mainly been a TV host over the years on various different shows. I find this guy extremely up his own backside and quite racist against white people. I remember watching an awards show that he was presenting, and everytime I white male went on the stage he called them "White boy". If that had been the other way around, there would of been all hell to pay. He appeared on realilty TV show, The Club, which again he came across as an idiot. He was declared bankrupt a while back, so lets hope he has given up on the celeb lifestyle and got himself a normal job!
9. Katie from The Apprentice.
So she got down to the finals of the Apprentice. She then turned down a place in the final, losing out on a chance of a 100k a year job. She was then sacked from her own 90k a year job after appearing romping in a field with a married man. When asked if she has ever lied to get what she wanted she replied with "I have lied to get another woman's husband". She is ruthless, and doesn't care who she hurts along the way. She allegedly helped her step-daughter on the way to anorexia by teasing and taunting her about her weight, along with loving to ruin people's lives by being a homewrecker this girl's 15 minutes of fame should be up by now. I hope she ends up alone and on the dole.
8. Naomi Cambell
We all know she is a complete nutter, lashing out at people wherever possible and having many diva fits. The main thing I dislike about her is the fact that she gave full support to an anti-fur campaign by animal charity, PETA, and then returned to the catwalk not that long after wearing fur again. I am almost certain this girl has lost the plot and to be honest she is just one of those people that grates away at my patience.
I am using a collective term for number 7 as I could probably end up going to 20 people in this review if I do this on individual people. Abi whatdoyoucallher, Coleen whatsherface, danielle thingymabob, and god knows how many more, silly little girls who think marrying a footballer, having a boob job and having a daily manicure, fake tan and shopping trip is a career move. I hope these girls fall on their backsides and realise that people in the real world actually have to work for a living. I do not include Victoria Beckham or Cheryl Cole in this collective term, as I consider both to have their own careers, which they had before hubbies came along.
6. Pete Doherty
The babyshambles singer. The druggie. The thing that keeps appearing in the newspaper. I think his band are rubbish, and wouldn't go to see them if you paid me. He is only really famous for being attached to some part of Kate Moss, and usually with a face full of the biggest yellow-headed zits you have ever seen in your life (with his money you would think he could afford some kind of antibacterial facewash), with a police officer not too far behind him to search him for class A drugs. Each time his picture is in a magazine he is filthy dirty, with half a garden under each long fingernail. This guy doesn't deserve to be famous.
5. Paris Hilton
4 Jodie Marsh
You have to feel sorry for this girl. Being Jordan's biggest rival she has had bad luck after bad luck. First of all, the bitter bitchy fight with Jordan to the top. Jordan made it, as behind the boobs and make-up she is a genuine person, who loves her family and has brains. Jodie on the other hand came accross to the public as a desperate case always wanting to strip off and act like a complete tart. The public didn't like this.. and her reputation unfolded. She then went on Celebrity Big Brother, in which she was evicted during the first week. Just recently she has been taking part in a TV show, in which males have to audition to marry her. In the first two auditions 2 people turned up, one of which was completely drunk. I think it is time she gave up on the attempt at being a celebrity and got herself a 9-5 job.
3. Grace Adams-Short
This is turning into Top Ten Most Hated Big Brother Contestants, but never mind. Grace, the public schoolgirl, superbitch with her posh double-barrelled surname and pre-big brother lifestyle - a posh flat in Notting Hill, paid for by daddy, this silly girl has taken herself away from her very expensive education and taken the career path of being famous for throwing a cup of water over fellow housemate, Susie. Being famous for that, and being the most ever hated BB housemate, and getting the loudest ever boos it probably wasn't a clever career move. She currently does magazine shoots and nightclub promos, which basically involves, her going to a club for a drink to get people through the door. At least they are advertised so I know where to avoid...
2. Nikki Grahame
WHO IS SHE??????????? Well, she is a loud mouth, immature little barbie wannabe from last year's Big Brother. Starting a romance in the house, and having numerous tantrums that my 2 year old nephew couldn't challenge, being publicly dumped by boyfriend from the house, and now being an "it girl", this wannabe is a typical example of someone who is famous for absolutely nothing... she doesn't have a talent.. she doesn't sing, act, write books, or do anything else remotely connected with proffesional showbiz. A wannabe who is fast becoming a hasbeen.
AND THE WINNER IS......................
1. Piers Morgan
This was a tough choice, but he probably wouldn't have made it to the top if it hadn't been for ITV1's "You've Got Talent" show, for which he was a judge for a week, on our screens for 7 nights in a row. He is one of the most patronising people on the planet, and one of the most unremorseful. His comments on street dancing and himself claiming to be "street" each night left me reaching for a cushion to cringe behind, along with some of his sexist and chauvenist comments. He was sacked from his job as editor of the Daily Mirror in May 2004 for publishing photographs of British soldiers torturing and urinating on Iraqi detainees. These photographs were later proven to be fakes, and after hurting and ruining many people's lives, and without doubt causing the death of many people in Iraq by adding fuel to the fire during the war, Piers Morgan appears to want forgiveness from the British public by becoming a judge on a reality TV show. I don't think so................
I could go on and on with this list but I'll stop here. There will no doubt be people that I will want to add to this list, as more people become famous for doing less than farting, so I may just well edit this review in the future. Probably at the end of this years Big Brother when we are stuck with seeing 14 z-list celebs on every TV show and in every magazine.
Thanks for reading!
I get up in the morning, get ready for school,
getting ready for those who think they are cool.
They think they are great to continually beat me,
They are wrecking me life, just why can't they see?
I make it to school with a just a blood covered nose,
nobody understands my trouble and woes.
I'm not a bad person, just different in looks,
And just because I read lots of school books.
They tease, beat, humiliate, abuse and taunt,
When i'm dead, it is these I will haunt
I want to fight back, but the strength I cant find
Why can't these people for once be kind?
At dinner, they steal my money, pulling my hair,
I daren't tell anyone as nobody will care
They say i'm a freak and call me a witch
They say i'm wierd and an ugly bitch
They all are popular and have lots of friends,
They all go out to have fun at weekends.
It's an endless circle in this life of hell,
I may as well live just in a cell.
I can't go out and have a laugh, wear a smile,
I'm always on my own, no friends now, for a while.
I can't remember where it all went wrong,
Its all gone on for way too long.
They don't give up, there seems no answer, no way out,
People don't understand what i'm talking about.
One day I'll be brave enough to stand up and bite back,
At the moment, its just the confidence I lack.
One day I will learn to be proud of me,
And maybe then, they will let me be.
I won't let them beat me, batter and abuse,
I will end my school day with not one bruise.
What will happen if I tell? Will they say that I lie?
I will not give up till the day I die.
I will try and be strong, and keep my pride,
Try to keep a smile, bright and wide.
I will suceed one day, and I win will it all,
I will not trip up and I will not fall.
They won't suceed in life, as they don't know how,
I just have to survive my last school year now.
It is then I will succeed and my life will shine,
My life won't be theirs, it will be all mine
Untill that day I have to be brave and strong,
Only one year it - isn't that long.
There are hundreds, and thousands of children bullied every single day at school. Bullying can be mental, physically and emotionally straining for the victim, and can effectively ruin people's lives. Often the victim hasn't done anything wrong, they just maybe look different, act differently, or have different interests to the other children around them. Certain bullies see this as weak spot and target that area to abuse and taunt the victim. Often the bully doesn't realise what effects this has on the victim's lives. It can lead to drug abuse, drinking and self harm.
When I was at school, there was a girl in my form who was from a very poor family. She had her uniform donated to her from the school, and everyone knew this. The bullies got to her and used this as her weak spot. She became shy, withdrawn, and started skipping school. Nobody ever dared to step in as we didn't want to be the next victim in the bullying campaign, so most of us stepped to one side and didn't say anything. Not that the teachers would of done much, as bullying, back then, wasn't as publicly recognized as it is today, and this was a long time ago. People just tended to ignore it in those days, untill all the media coverage of campaigning against bullying and various advice lines and active charities came to light. I know that when I was at school, the only place I had ever heard of for help like this was Childline, but even then if you had a problem you probably wouldn't ring the number incase anyone found out, and it would be too embarrassing.
The girl who was bullied at school, I heard, years later, than she had become admitted to a hostpital for self-harming, and that later again, she had become a drug addict and prostitute. I'm not saying this was all down to bullies, but it certainly wouldn't of helped. In the present, I realise that if I had stepped in maybe to help her, then she may have not self harmed, got hooked on drugs or became a prostitute, these things can be a knock-on effect from a life of being bullied.
The only reason myself, nor my friends stepped in, is because we were scared of these bullies too, and if we kept our distance, then maybe they would leave us alone, which they did. Sounds a selfish act, but being a child I didn't think of the consequences this would have on her as an adult. I have never bullied anyone, and never would, but now if I knew a victim of bullying I would step in and help them in every way I could as I know now, what effects bullying can have an a person.
For the consquences of the above, I think it is important to raise awareness in school and show children what can happen to somebody who is bullied at school, later on in life. There are hundreds of children self harming, and committing suicide each year due to bullying as they feel that have nowhere to turn, and nobody to talk to. If the bullying was stopped completely, there wouldn't be any need for all the helplines and counselling services aimed at bullying. If the problem is cut off at the root cause i.e stopping the bullies in their tracks by harsher punishments and educating children on how bullying can affect the victim's life, then this may just save a good few people. All schools should hold bullying workshops, once a year, which every single pupil has to attend, to raise this awareness.
I was around 14 when a girl, of about 16 picked a fight with me. She and her family were notorious for being bullies and alot of people were scared of them. She made sure, by shouting as loud as possible that she had an audience of around 70 people. I was really small for age, I was in age 10 clothes at 14 years old, and she was alot bigger than me. She started pushing and shoving, shouting and name calling, and I just snapped. I wasn't going to become a victim, and punched her as hard as possible. She crumbled to the floor and legged it in tears, and she never came near me again. My reaction is in no way right, nor moral, but I made sure that I didn't become another one of her victims, and that nobody else tried to bully me again. It worked for me, but that was years ago, and nowadays times have changed, reacting like that can land you in a lot of trouble, so I wouldnt advise it! These days alot of bullies carry weapons, and this is a really scary fact. The only way to help someone out now, is to go to a person in authority.
Obviously times have changed a little now, but there are still people out there, who are too scared to speak out and tell someone that they are being bullied.Being bullied is nothing to be ashamed off, and it is the bully who should be ashamed for the rest of their lives.
My advice to anyone that is being bullied is tell someone. Tell your parents. Make sure that you tell a person in high authority. Tell the headmaster - not the teacher and keep persisting untill something is done. Fight back at the bullies this way, and often they are expelled from the school. If you tell a teacher, the teacher will then go to the headmaster, and tell them a second version of the events. Cut out the middle man - be brave, and go to the headmaster, with a parent or a friend if possible.
If a child is getting bullied on the way to school, this is not on school property, but it still the responsibility of the school to sort it out. Again tell the headmaster.
If after telling the school once, and nothing is done, go one step higher and go to the education board and to the police. If a child is beaten, the child can still prosecute for assault. The school would also then be hightlighted for ignoring bullying.
Don't back down to bullies. It is so easy to do so, but keep your head held high, and keep proud and positive. Keep going, telling the police and headmaster over and over and over if necessary, they cannot ignore you, they are not allowed to.
If you are worried that somebody may come after you, or the bullying will get worse, don't worry about this, it won't happen. As long as you stay brave, and hold in there, the bullies will get what is coming to them. Injunction orders from the police are available to you, and if you get one of these, this also means that the bully is suspended from school untill the investigation is completed. You are not on your own, and police and teachers cannot ignore bullying, make sure you tell them.
For help and support:
I wake up in the morning, in my super-comfortable bed, stretch, put my lovely, soft robe on, and stagger to the bathroom where I use my own clean toilet. I wash my hands with clean water, soap and dry them on a fresh clean towel. I stagger downstairs and go to the kitchen. I open my fridge, which is stocked full of fresh foods, and take out the orange juice. I pour myself a glass and go and switch the TV on. I have a look at the news, and go back to the kitchen to make myself some tea and toast. I go back upstairs and have a nice, warm, refreshing shower, dry myself on a nice clean towel and brush my teeth. I get dressed, do my hair and makeup, get my things together and leave the house. I am going into the city centre for a shopping trip. I go to my car, and drive to the city. I take these luxuries for granted, not having them doesn't even cross my mind. In my own arrogance, I leave the house without a care in the world.
Whilst I am doing all of these things in the luxury of my own house there is a young woman already in the city centre that morning. She has not used her bathroom this morning, she has not had a refreshing breakfast, nor a wash, she has used an alleyway for her bathroom as the public toilets were locked. She has not brushed her hair, as she doesn't own a hair brush, never mind any make-up. Her clothes smell terrible and have holes in. She hasn't brushed her teeth for around 3 weeks. She doesn't have a TV to watch, and she even doesn't have a comfortable bed to sleep in. She isn't on a shopping trip, without a care in the world, she is fighting for survival.
I get to the city centre and park up. I start off with a few high street clothes shops, and spend around £25.00. I am happy with my purchases, and carry on browsing the shops. Around an hour later I stop for a rest. I go to a coffee shop and hand over £2 for a cup of coffee. I sit, enjoying my coffee, thinking over my purchases and what shops I am going to visit next. I finish my coffee and the shopping spree continues.
The young woman is sitting in a doorway. She is cold, and hungry. It is 10am She has to wait until 4pm for something to eat. Hopefully. She has heard there is a food handout at a local community centre that afternoon. She hasn't eaten for 24 hours and is looking forward to this. She just hopes that there isn't too much of a queue and she will have to get there early. With around 7 million people in London, and there being more than 50,000 homeless people on the streets, she has to be quick. Just the night before she walked for 2 hours trying to find a doorway to sleep in, without getting moved on, or it being already occupied. She had tried 3 hostels, but they were all full. Sometimes she has been lucky to get a bed in a hostel for the night, but only a few times. She carried some cardboard boxes and her only blanket for a comfortable sleep. The blanket she has, is a soft fleece, blue blanket. It is only small, as it is a baby blanket. Around 3 weeks before she had seen a baby throw it from a pram, and the mother didn't notice. The young woman felt so guilty, but she new the mother could probably afford another one, so she took the blanket and kept it. She is tired and aching, but food is important, so she gets up and trudges through the city centre, for the 3 mile walk for food.
She first came to London 2 years ago, when she was 16. She had ran away from home as her father had sexually abused her for years. After one particular brutal rape, she confessed all to her Mother. Her Mother didn't believe her and threw her out of the house. She never looked back. She couldn't look back as she knew that nobody wanted her, nobody believed her and she was now on her own. She had £45 to her name, but that lasted less than a week as she didn't know how to survive on her own. She jumped on a train to london and hid in the toilets so she would get away with not having a ticket. She will never forget that first week in London. She learnt some of the tricks of the trade. She was beaten, and she was raped. She shoplifted, and got tempted my another girl to become a prostitute to earn money, but she decided against this. She dreamt every night of a warm clean bed that she could call her own, and one day she would get it, but for now survival was top of priorites.
Meanwhile, I am in Topshop. I'm in a predicament. Do I buy the dress or the skirt and top? I have been in the Topshop changing rooms for 20 minutes trying to figure this mess out. If I buy both, that is a big chunk of my money spent for the shopping trip, and I have more shops that I want to visit, so I just opt for the top and leave the skirt and dress there. I am happy, over the moon in fact, with my treats so far and continue up Oxford Street.
The young woman has stopped on Oxford street. She is only around a mile from the hand out and still has 4 hours to kill. She knows that the meal hand out, if she gets it, at 4pm will not last her for long. She still has to eat later that day, or if not then, the following morning. She picks up a discarded paper cup and sits outside an unoccupied shop, which is practically derelict, but still in a busy area just off Oxford steet. Endless asking for "Any spare change please?" in an hour gets her 22p. Another few hours of doing this will get her, hopefully enough for a hot drink and even maybe a sandwich later on. Other than that, it will be having a look through the rubbish bins outside fast food outlets, as she had done the day before. She had found a real treat of nearly a full pizza, still warm and had devoured every last bit. That was just lucky though, sometimes the food has maggots on, especialy in warm weather, but it is good to get lucky every now and then.
I am still on Oxford street, and have so many bags of treats that my arms are aching. I decide to go back to the car, to drop the bags off and then carry on shopping. I turn off Oxford street, and see a young woman sat on the floor, holding a paper cup. She asks me "Any spare change please?". I mutter a sympathetic, "Sorry, no I haven't", knowing full well I have got change in my purse, some in my pocket too, but I put my head down, feel a little awkward, and carry on walking. Seconds later the woman disappears from my head and I start to worry, "where the hell did I park the car??". Around 10 minutes later I find the car, put my bags in the boot, and make a mental note of where the car is! I leave the car park, and return to the shopping spree.
The young woman has now made £1.30. A generous man came past and gave her a pound coin. She must keep this money save, and she removes the pound coin from the cup and puts it in her pocket. When she first came to London, 2 years ago she had made the mistake of leaving £3.00 in her cup and another homeless person had come along, punched her, giving her a black eye and had stolen the money from her. She had learnt from this and now kept the larger amounts of money hidden. That way, if she did get hit or threatened, she could take that, and she wouldn't lose her money too. She also has a hot cup of tea, a kind old lady came up to her and handed her the tea. She said however, "I don't mind getting you the tea, as if I give you money, it will only go on bad things". The young woman thanked her, and did appreciate it, but she did feel a little angry, as she can only assume that the old lady meant the "bad things" were drink or drugs, which the young woman had never touched in her life and she was very proud of this. Just another stereotype, but never mind, she is more than happy with the tea! She hasn't had a warm cup of tea in 3 days.
I am again overloaded with bags, and my shopping trip is coming to an end. My last stop in Mcdonalds for an unhealthy feast, which I was seriously ready for. Shopping can be hard work, which deserves a lovely fill up on junk food. I leave McDonalds, and just outside, the is a young man with his arm reaching in the bin. He pulls out a half eaten burger and eats the lot. I feel a little sick on seeing this. It just isn't nice! I go back to my car and drive home.
The young woman gets to the community centre an hour early and there is already a queue forming of around 30 people. This is okay, as she has been to things like this before where there have been more than 200 people queuing, so this isn't too bad at all. She gets talking to a guy in the queue who tells her there is another handout the next day at another centre around 6 miles away. The young woman is grateful for this and will certainly be going. She reaches the front of the queue eventually and gets a hot cup of soup and 2 pieces of bread. This has made her feel 100 times better. She spents the rest of the night carrying her paper cup, gaining small amounts of change, a used condom which was thrown at her by some drunken idiots, and a bruised leg from falling over, while running away from a complete wierdo, who she seriously thought was going to rape her. This is just the normal though and she is thankful, again, as she is at the end of every day that she is still alive and unharmed.
I get home and look through my purchases. I am really pleased with my bargains, and some, not such bargains, but I am tired out! I spend an hour or so just tidying up, and pottering around. I ring my friends and organise a night out for the following week. I go for a nice warm bath, put my robe on and make myself some dinner. A warm jacket potato, with tuna and salad. I slump in front of the TV for the rest of the night. I start to watch a documentory on homelessness in London. It is so disturbing and the amount of trauma and abuse that these people go through is shocking. Suddenly, my mind casts back to the woman sitting in the street just off Oxford Street. She asked me for money, spare change, and I gave her nothing, and carried on walking. When I looked at her, I felt pity, but at the same time, felt that if she wanted to get out of the situation and sort her life out then she could. I'm sure that is what alot of people think, even if they won't admit it. The documentory really disturbed me and when I went to bed that night, I couldn't get the image of that young woman trying to find a place to sleep for the night, out of my head, and ended up with a restless night's sleep.
The young woman throughout this story is a fictional woman, but the fact that I saw a young woman on the streets, and in those places and the things that were said are true. She doesn't have a name on the streets - she is just a number, just another street begger. But there are 50,000 people on the streets of London alone, not including the rest of the country. There are many many reasons why people end up there. Most people who end up on the streets are there through no fault of their own, but we continue to ignore them, look down on them, and walk on by.
Each time I go out now to London, I make sure I give any spare change to any homeless people in the area. It isn't a solution to the UK's growing problem, but it helps a little. Anyone can end up on the streets, and I honestly hope I never do. If I did I would like to think people would be kind enough to help me out a little.
In future when you are in city centre, and you see a street begger, or homeless person, just given them the loose change in your pocket. You won't miss it, just don't spend £2 on that cup of coffee, or don't buy a newspaper for the rest of the week, it isn't difficult. I know from now on, I will do this, and I admit, just through the guilt of not giving that young woman some change during my day in London.
If you don't feel that giving money to homeless people on the streets, is right for whatever reason - some of the street beggers do spend this money on drink or drugs - then you can give to numerous charities or shelters in and around London, or the local area that you live in.
Useful information can be found at:
I have been a member of Dooyoo for a month now, and have enjoyed it so far. I don't see it as a money making scheme, it is more of having a bonus and a reward for a site I enjoy being on, which is always good!
So far I have written 27 reviews, including this one, and had 867 reads. I have read and rated 1510 reviews and left 211 comments. I now feel I am quite an active member of this community based site.
I have spoken to quite a few members through the messaging system, some when I was a newbie and needed some guidance, some just friendly chit-chat, and some when people have asked me for advice.
I see many great factors in Dooyoo, the main one being of course the rewards system. I have decided to give the vouchers a miss, and save for the cash. I don't use Amazon and don't really want to join, so I'll just sit tight and wait for the cheque - no rush.
My reviews have improved alot, I think, since first joining, and have so far got 3 crowns. Most people have been really friendly, and nobody has been nasty or "horrible to the new kid" as you get on many sites that have a community, but are more of a clique.
I do have a few gripes with Dooyoo though, being the following.
1. The updates: Nothing ever seems updated. On the Dooyoo home page if you click on "community", it gives the competition winners for January, and tells you how to enter competitions for March. Um.. Hello? Am I being thick here? Are we not in June? If you scroll down the page, it then announces winners for the June competitions. So I assume this is June - last year??? It doesn't say. For new members this can be a little confusing as these pages dont seem to get updated.
On "myprofile", if I click on the monthly newsletter to read it, it has the newsletter for May 4th 2007. Now, again call me stupid, but are we not in June and is this not meant to be a monthly newsletter?
Work really needs doing on keeping the site updated - for the members.
2. The Crowns: This system should be explained properly in the information pages on this site. I can only find a brief explanation of the basics I am just about to talk about. Maybe a useful explanation is there somewhere, but if it is, then it is well hidden. The explanation of the basics is very simple. If you read a review, and think it deserves a crown, then click on "nominate this review for a crown". If you have written a review, and it gets nomiated, then the Dooyoo guides, and Dooyoo, award all award deserving reviews with a nice golden crown next to the review title, and £1.50 goes to the writer. Simple and foolproof.
I have a few questions on crowns I would like to see on the information pages however:
When do crowns get awarded and how often? ( I only know this is each Monday, by asking another member as this information was nowhere to be found on the site)
If a review was written a year ago, and I have only just read it, and nominated it - does it still qualify for an award?
If a review was nominated the week it was written by members, and didn't get a crown, and members nominate it again in the future - does it still qualify for a crown?
I have been awarded 3 crowns so far, and one of which I really didn't expect as I didn't think it was one of my better reviews. Since then, I have written more reviews, 2 of which I think are my best to date, and have been rated "really useful" all the way through, with numerous "nominated" comments. Yet these reviews haven't been crowned and it has been almost 2 weeks. Does that mean they will never be crowned?
3.Reading and Rating: I don't read reviews to get return reads. I read them because I like reading them. I appreciate every single person who has read one of my reviews and I always try and return read them as it is only polite. This site is, as I said above, community based and I think people should take an active part in this if they want to make money from Dooyoo.
One thing I find very irritating is the people who write review after review, clogging up the "newest reviews" page with 20 x 50 word reviews, who don't read anyone elses reviews. They expect to make money from this site, yet can't be bothered to have a read of some reviews themselves. It is just ungrateful to the people who have read their reviews. I think that all members should have to take an acitve part in the site, and should have to read a certain amount of reviews per week, or they do not qualify to submit a review the following week. Or it could be that they have to read a number of reviews before posting a review, something to that effect. Dooyoo is a community site, and without a community it wouldn't exsist, so those members who just run in, post 30 reviews in a week, make their money and run off, shouldn't be allowed to do it.
I also think there should be a limit on how many reviews are posted per member, per week. I made this mistake at first and posted too many reviews close together, and members did message me and give constructive critism on this, for which now I do appreciate. I think that there should be some kind of email sent out to all new members highlighting how to be a "member of the Dooyoo community". I am not a perfect member of this site, I am sure that status doesn't exsist. If you are at school/college/work, you should respect your collegues and workplace, and I feel people should do the same here.
While Dooyoo has been a great site for me so far, I think there are certain problems that the Dooyoo team need to address, and I think these are the 3 main ones.
Thanks for reading!
Fish Tanks look fantastic and are a talking point in many homes, but only if they are set up right and looked after properly. So many people buy a fish tank, and fish, set it all up without learning anything about them and then get angry with the pet shops when things go wrong. Keeping a tropical fish tank isn't easy and there is quite alot of work involved.
I worked in a pet shop, running the fish department, at the time Finding Nemo came out, and the amount of parents with children in tow, coming in on a daily basis for a "Nemo fish" was unreal. "Nemo Fish", or clown fish using their proper name are not tropical, nor coldwater fish. They are marine fish. Marine fish take 3 times the work of a tropical fish tank. I have kept fish for 15 years, and ran a fish department dealing with 2500 fish in 35 tanks per week, and I wouldn't know where to start with Marine fish. So I will stick with tropical on this review, I just wanted to get this in, with Finding Nemo, as people still ask for these fish for goldfish bowls to this day.
Here is my advice on tropical fishkeeping, along with tank set-up, breeds and maintenance. I apologise for the length of this review, but there really is alot of information to fit in for anyone that looks this topic up on Dooyoo.
A basic list of what you will need, you can buy kits with everything, or most things already in but just so everything is remembered I will list everything seperately and I will explain what each item is for as we go through the review:
Tank (For tropical fish, at least 24x12 inches)
Cabinet for the tank to go on
Gravel or other suitable substrate
Plants (ideally live, just as cheap)
Filter and Air Pump
Rocks, tank ornaments
Light and light power pack.
Bacterial water treatment
White Spot treatment
You have got your tank, and cabinet. The cabinet cannot just be any old cabinet, even if it is pretty sturdy as a fish tank full of water and stones weighs alot, and it is surprising how many people make this mistake. Working at a pet shop for 4 years, we had numerous people come in and say their tank had smashed and all the fish had died as a result of not having a strong enough cabinet. Specially made fish-tank cabinets are available from most aquarium stockists, and these are made with stronger wood and reinforced joints and screws. You also need polystyrene pads to go under your tank to absorb any pressure, unless stated on a specifically made cabinet. You can buy these from most pet shops for around 50p per 12x12 inch sheet. If you dont have these, and a little stone or piece of gravel is between your tank and cabinet, the pressure caused by this stone, when you fill the tank up can cause the tank to shatter, so the poly pads absorb the pressure so this won't happen.
You need to decide where you are going to put the tank. Near a window, or source of heat is a complete no-go as the heat/sunlight will only make algae grow, and before you know it your tank will be green. You also need an area where the temperature doesn't fluctuate too much and somewhere that is fairly peaceful. Fish in general don't like stress and a place where people will be walking past the tank all the time will only stress the fish out, leading to disease. Your tank does need a little natural light, but not too much, so getting the balance right here is important. Make sure the inside of the tank is clean, and never use any detergants to wipe it or clean in out before use, as the chemicals will stick to the glass, and poison your fish.
Also, make sure you have enough plug sockets available within reach of the tank! I made the stupid mistake of doing this the first time I got a tank. I set it all up and realised the nearest plug socket was on the other side of the room. You will need at least 3 plugs to be plugged in 24 hours a day, so this is an imortant one!
Once you have the tank and cabinet in place, we are ready for the next part.
```Setting Up The Tank````
**You first of all need to prepare your substrate (the floor of your tank). Most people use gravel, but you can use sand too, although this is better left for the more expert of fishkeeper as it is very difficult to maintain. (I'm not brave enough to use sand in my tank yet). Tip your gravel into a sieve and run cold water through it for around 40 minutes. It states on the back of the packet of most aquarium gravel, around 15 minutes but this is never enough, as the dust on the gravel still makes the water cloudy. You aim is to get rid of as much gravel dust as you possibly can. After you have done this, carefully scoop (I use an old plastic cup), your gravel into the tank, being gentle for obvious reasons. Try to slant your gravel so it is approximatly 5 inches high at the back and 2 inches high at the front. The reason you slant the gravel, is that is makes cleaning the tank and tank maintenance easier once established (see later in the review).
**Time for the filter and pump. You can buy a 2 in 1 filter and pump, or you can buy them seperate. I find the Fluval filters and pumps in one are fantastic value, and are readily available, along with the spare parts. Place your filter/pump/seperates into the tank, but never plug them in. They are only designed to work in water, and again we had numerous people coming into the pet shop I worked in for replacement filters as they had plugged them in out of water and they had blown. The same goes for the heater. Place this on the back wall of the tank, and an angle of 45 degrees. The 45 degree angle gives the best possible even output of heat. Again, do not plug in. Feed the 2/3 wires, over your tank, down the back, and create a "drip loop". This means that you need the wire to hang below the plug socket in a "loop shape". This way if any water is spilt and it runs down the wire, it will drip onto the floor from the loop in the wire, instead of running down the wire and straight into the plug socket.
**If you have purchased a lightbulb for your tank, and you have a specially made tank lid with your tank, then you probably have a fitment inside the lid to clip your bulb into. If not, then lighting clips are available and you simply screw them into the lid and then clip the bulb in place. Connect your powerpack up to the bulb, and again create yourself a driploop. I cannot go into great detail about the powerpacks, as I have had 3 different ones over the years, and all 3 are completely different, but they always have instructions anyway. Always use a flurescent tube for your bulb as this not only looks the nicest, but it is also the most beneficial one to your fish.
**Plants are essential to a healthy aquarium and it is better to use live plants, again available from most good pet shops, as they provide oxygen in the water and give your fish somewhere to hide. They also help to "eat up" some of the nitrates in the tank, created by fish waste and uneaten food. Plants don't need much care in a fish tank either, and are easy to maintain. They are also very nutritional for the fish, and some plants, especially the grassy plants will get eaten quite quickly, so I tend to stick to the more "leafy" type plants, which the fish tend to leave alone. Different sized plants can also create space and depth in your tank. For example, if you put a taller plant at the back of the tank, and a shorter one at the front, this gives an illusion of your tank looking bigger than it actually is. Play around with the plants, and find where you want to put them, and just dig their roots into the gravel.
**Rocks and ornaments, like plants, also give the fish somewhere to hide, and choosing the right ones can make your tank look beautiful and just add that finishing touch. There are hundreds of different ones available, but don't use any old item or ornamant, as fish tank ornaments are coloured with non-harmful paints, which won't poison your fish. Also be aware that if you chose bogwood as a decor item, it contains a natural high level of Tannin, and this can turn your a water yellow/brown colour so bogwood needs soaking for at least 48 hours before putting in a fish tank. Personally I have never bothered with bogwood as I find it more trouble than it is worth.
**I bet you wondered why on earth there was a breakfast bowl in the "whats needed" list at the beginning of this review. Place the breakfast bowl in a gap on the gravel in your aquarium, and using preferably a hose pipe, otherwise lots of trips back and to with a jug, fill your tank, using the breakfast bowl to pour your water onto. This stops the floor of the tank being disturbed, and also prevents disturbing any missed gravel dust from the earlier washing of the gravel. Allow the water to spill over from the bowl, onto the gravel, and this helps the water to stay crystal clear. Fill all the way up, leaving around 2 inches at the top, or on most tanks they have a "fill line".
***Turn all pumps, heaters, filters, lights on to make sure everything is working okay. You should be seeing air bubbles in the tank, somewhere, along with seeing that the filter is working as you will be able to see the current in the water. Your heater should be set to approx 26ºC. Most heaters have a thermometer on them so you can physically see what they are set at. It is better to also have a thermometer on your tank (you can buy ones that go inside the tank and stick on the inner wall with a suction pad, or a sticker thermometer than goes on the outside wall of the tank). I think the internal thermometers are better, as the external ones tend to take the temperature of the room into consideration too, and therefor are not very accurate. It will take around 6 hours for the water to steady itself at the correct temperature.
```The Waiting Game```
Your tank is all set up and you are ready to go. Now is the frustrating part! As tempting as it is to go and get yourself some fish for the tank - don't! You need to wait at least a week to allow the water to settle, gain a level PH level. You now need to treat your water ideally, to get the right level of bacteria in your tank so the tank develops it's own kind of eco-system. There is a constant cycle in fish tanks, with Nitrates, Nitrites, and Amonia. This treatment will start the cycle off and will be completed in around 7 days time when the filter has enough "good bacteria" stored in the filter pads. If you add fish straight away they are pretty much certain to die. This is something worth reading up on as it is quite complex, and would take me all day to explain it, which is quite hard to do without being able to draw a diagram. To put your mind at rest, take a sample of water from your tank after 7 days (around an egg cup full) and take it to any Pets At Home store, or any good aquarium shop and they should do a free water test for you. They test the PH, nitrates, nitrites and amonia levels to make sure you have the right balance, and if not, they advice on what you can do. Sometimes the answer is very simple.
On the 5th day, place some white spot treatment into the tank, as this can help maintain the balance as well as providing a barrier for your fish, as this can prevent them from getting the White Spot disease.
On the 7th day (I'm beginning to sound like a Christmas song), place some aquarium salts into the tank. This will prevent your new fish getting any other diseases on arrival and is very good for the "cycle" in your tank.
Now.. you are ready for the fish.
```There Is So Much Choice!```
It is best to start off your tank with around 6 neon tetras. These fish are hardy and can stand water conditions that are slightly off standard, so if you haven't got it quite right your fish have a better chance of surviving. It is normal to lose a few fish in the first few weeks with a new tank. You then need to introduce fish, every 7 days, around 4 at a time, if possible having a tank water test inbetween each batch of fish. You can buy a water testing kit to do this yourself if you wish for around £15.
Each time you add new fish to the tank it raises the waste (nitrate, nitrite and amonia), level and this is effectively poison to your fish. The natural "cycle" in your tank naturally turns this around, but if you overload on waste in your tank the fish will be poisoned, and will probably die. If you only add a few fish at a time then these waste levels never go up too high. If you add 20 fish to a small new tank, chances are by the following morning they will all be dead.
The following breeds of fish I am going to advise on are ideal for a first-time fish keeper, and are all compatable with one another, ideal for a community tank.
Generally a hardy fish, and come in lots of different varieties and colours. As mentioned, neon tetras are one of the best fish to start off with. These fish are happier in schools of around 5 or 6 per type of tetra. These fish swim around in groups for safety in numbers. If you only added one tetra to a tank, chances are it would be bullied, or just get so stressed, it would get ill and die.
Mollies are again schooling fish, but you don't need as many. It is important with Mollies that you check the sex of these fish. You can do this by checking the anal fin (underneath the fish), if the fin goes back into a point, this is a male, if it goes back into a triangle shape, this is a female. This is really important as these fish breed like crazy - they are certainly the rabbits of the fish world! Each litter of babies can contain upto 20 offspring, and before you know it your tank is full. This of course builds up excess waste in your tank, and can poison the rest of your fish. Alot of the time the babies get eaten by other fish, or stuck in the filter, but they can survive and before you know it these fish have taken over your tank.
Guppies are lovely fish, and are very peaceful. The males have brightly coloured long tails, in a variety of colours, such as gold, electric blue, red, yellow, white, silver and some rainbow guppies which contain every colour possible! The females are similar size and shape, but don't have these long bright tails and fins. These fish don't breed as well as Mollies, but they will still breed. If you are going to keep males and females it is important to have a ratio of 3 females to 1 male. If you have any more males to the females, the males fight for attention of the female, which results in torn fins, and stress to the other fish in the tank.
You would think sharks would be agressive in a tropical tank, but I assure you they are very very peaceful, especially Silver Sharks. It is really important to only ever have one shark per tank as they are terrortorial with their own species. 2 sharks in one tank will fight to the death, and stress out all of the other fish.
You do have to be careful when choosing Catfish, and one of the most popular types is a Plecostomous. These are bottom feeders, who live off algae and bacteria in the tank. You need to only get a catfish once your tank is established (at least 6 weeks), as there won't be enough algae or bacteria for the catfish to feed off. You can however get around this by buying catfish pellets to feed them on, but these can be quite expensive and don't have a great shelf life. A Plecostomous will also grow up to 2 feet in length. Most fish will only grow to the size the tank allows them to grow, but a Plecostomous will keep growing and growing untill it's tail is sticking out of the tank. This will take a long time, possibly years, but it is something to think about. There are many other types of catfish available which stay quite small and they are great at eating all the uneaten food than sits at the bottom of the tank, which helps with the "natural cycle".
I feel I have to mention these fish, as they are known as a peaceful community fish. They are very peaceful, provided they are kept with the right species. You can only have one per tank, as if 2 males are put together they will fight to the death. As they have long, bright flowing tails and fins, they will also attack any other fish that has long, bright, flowing tails, as they mistake it for another male fighter. If you put a Japanese Fighter in with male guppies, it will tear them to shreds. If you put them in with tiny neon tetras, they will all live happily ever after. They really are a beautiful fish, as long as they are kept correctly.
The breeds of fish I have just briefly talked about are only a few of the different types of fish available. These breeds though, I think are the best ones to start off with. Always check in the pet shop when buying your fish that they are compatible with what you already have. There are so many breeds that clash, and just one mistake can lose you your entire stock of fish.
Building the tank up and getting it established is the hard part. The easiest part is looking after it.
Feeding - The golden rule is never overfeed your fish. When you feed them, feed a little at a time, and make sure this as all been eaten before adding anymore. A pinch of tropical flakes each day is plenty. It may seem that your fish are eating it all in one go, but most breeds actually digest what they need and then spit the rest out, which sinks into the gravel creating excess waste (poisoned water). Once a week I feed my fish live bloodworm - I buy this in small frozen blocks - which is available from most pet shops. Live food is a great source of protein and essential nutrients for fish and really does them good. You get alot of waste from this though, so I always do this the day before a partial water change (see next part).
Health - Check all you fish look healthy (see later in review for how to do this), and that there are no dead fish, and check that the heater and electricals are all working okay.
The light on your fish tank should only be on for around 8 hours a day, anymore and your tank will be covered in green algae before you know it.
Cleaning - Each week you need to do a particial water change using a gravel cleaner. The gravel cleaner (around £4 from most pet shops), acts as a mini hoover for the bottom of the tank. This also takes water out to enable you to do a partial water change, so you will need an empty bucket. Right the way back near the beginning of the review, i mentioned about sloping the gravel, so it is higher at the back, and lower and the front and this was the reason why. Gradually fish faeces and uneaten food tend to fall down the slope of gravel down to the front of the tank, so not only can you notice it needs doing, the waste is easy to remove. You can concentrate on the front of the tank and clean it thoroughly, and then just skim over the gravel in the rest of the tank. When the gravel cleaner is working it's magic, of course it is removing water from the tank at the same time. Remove around 1/3 of the tank water and then stop. If you remove anymore you will upset the balance of the tank too much. If it is really dirty, repeat this process in around 2 days time.
Using a sponge, with of course no detergents or cleaning agents on, wipe the insides of the tank walls to remove any algae.
Fill the tank back up with cold tap water. Some people say this is harmful to the fish, but I have done this for years and have never ever had a problem. Lastly add a dose of aquarium salts to the water.
Plants - Remove any dead leaves from plants, or any that are brown and slimy looking.
When doing your gravel clean and partial water change on your tank, every 4th week, save the bucket of dirty tank water. Remove the filter pads from your filter and rinse them out using the dirty water. This way none of the "good bacteria" is washed away and keeps a steady balance in the tank.
Replace any live plants.
**Every 3 Months**
Replace the filter pads in your filter. These should be available to buy, where ever you bought the filter from. Because your filter is the "eco-system" for your tank, just putting a new filter pad in and throwing the old one away would completely upset the balance in your tank. Replace the old filter pad, but float the old filter pad in the water for 24 - 48 hours to get the "good bacteria" levels up in the new pads. Alot of the newer filters available now have 3 or 4 filter pads, which enables you to only change one at a time. These newer filters have been made this way for this very reason.
So each day you need to do a quick scan to make sure your fish are healthy.
Things to look out for:
White spot - This is a disease called White Spot, and they simply look like tiny pin head size white marks on the fish's fins, tail and/or body. This is disease is potentially fatal but is treated quite easily if noticed quickly. The main cause of this is stress.
Fungus - This is commonly mistaken for White Spot, but the symptoms of this are usually clumps of white on the fish, instead of pin-head spots. Fungus spreads quite quickly and can affect the entire body, or just one area. Again, this is easy to treat. The main cause is stress.
Finrot - Fins on the fish appear jagged, or torn. The name is in the disease, the fins just basically rot away. This disease is commonly linked to Fungus, and the treatment for this comes as a dual purpose one, more often than not, as a "fungus and finrot treatment. Again easy to treat and the main cause is stress.
Swimbladder - This disease affects the way the fish swims. Swimbladder is when a fish loses it's sense of balance in the water, and if a disease or infection affects the swimbladder, the fish usually looks very bloated and it is quite obvious to see the fish is struggling to stay upright. Fish can float upsidedown in a tank, and people often think they are about to die, but with a swimbladder treatment they can often be saved. Again the main cause is stress.
Lack of air - If fish are "gasping" at the top of the tank and sometimes you can hear a faint popping sound, this usally means the fish aren't getting enough oxygen. Check the air pump is working okay, and you may have to invest in a more powerful pump. Add more live plants to the tank to create more oxygen. You can also buy oxygen tablets for fish tanks from most pet shops at around £1.50 for about 20 tablets.
These are just the most common fish diseases and you will have probably noticed that they are mainly brought on my stress. When a fish is stressed the immune system completely drops and this is when they develop these diseases. The biggest cause of stress is too much waste (ammonia, nitrates and nitrites), which is as I said earlier, uneaten food and fish faeces. This can be prevented by following the daily, weekly, and monthly routines above.
The other easiest ways to keep your fish stressfree are as follows:
*Never allow children to bang on the glass of a tank.
*Always take the fish straight home after purchasing them. Try to make the time they have in the bag as short as possible.
*Never overfeed them
*Do regular water changes
*Don't add too many fish at once
*Keep the right breeds together
*Get schools of the same breeds
*Test the water on a regular basis.
In all a tank and all the set up would usually cost around £300. The maintenance of this is fairly low from a financial point of view, but expect to spend around £10 a month on average, for food, treatments, and extras. Of course the biggest cost is electric as you are running a light, heater, filter and pump.
When you are used to these routines, or have developed your own routine fish keeping really is a breeze. Once you know the basics, you can advance and advance. The reward for all of your hard work is a beautiful tank, with beautiful healthy fish for all the family to enjoy looking at. Fish tanks are peaceful, and relaxing and if done right, a joy to all the family.
Thanks for reading and I hope this helps anyone wishing to start up a tropical fish tank.
```For The Record```
If you chose to follow any of my advice on fish keeping you will do so at your own risk, and I have no involvement or any responsibility for an unfortunate event, mishap or mistake due to my advice given. What you read here, is not rules of fishkeeping set in stone, and anything lost because of this advice I am in no way resposible for.
First of all, I have placed my review in Speaker's Corner, instead of "Channel four" under the "TV Channels" section, as I'm not exactly reviewing the rececption of the channels, what their broadcasting channels and times are, nor their programmes. I am however putting across my opinion of how I think they make their money. I watch C4 on a regular basis, but I think they use controversial issues to cause a stir, pull in the ratings and then make the money. This is why I have placed this in "speakers corners", as I think it is more of a discussion item, as opposed to how the Channel is recieved on TV. There, after all wouldn't be a subject called "channel 4" in Speakers Corner for no reason.
Channel 4, when I was about 8 years old, meant boring programmes and nothing really of interest to me, and it was all politics, talk shows and nothing at all interesting.
Channel 4 re-vamped it's image a few years ago now and made teenagers and young adults it's main target audience. Not every single programme is aimed at younger people however, yet no matter what they show whether it be a "younger" programme, or a adult documentory, then there is always, always controversy.
With shows such as Friends, Ugly Betty, Big Brother, Wife Swap, Gordan Ramsey's F Word, Deal Or No Deal and Hollyoaks to name a few, these shows target the younger generation. Starting off with a Sunday show, called T4, which included all of these programmes and more, in it's set Channel 4 become very popular with teenagers and young adults alike. With modern presenters, and fun shows this was serious competition for ITV and the BBC, as ITV axed one of it's Saturday morning shows, SMTVlive as they simply weren't pulling in the viewers anymore. Channel 4 now shows some of the most popular TV programmes throughout the week, as well as at weekend.
Channel 4 has seriously turned itself around over the years and turned into one of the most popular channels out there. With a spin off channel, called E4, these two channels have worked hand in hand over the last 10 years or so to deliver some of the best entertainment and reality programmes on TV to date. E4 usually show C4's repeats and "extra" shows, such as extra live footage of Big Brother, which isn't shown on C4. Again, with young modern presenters and a young modern feel to the channel this has the target audience again for young people.
It isn't all just fun and games, as C4 tackle issues that affect teenagers in everyday life. For example Hollyoaks, aimed at teenagers, has tackled many issues such as teenage pregnancy, eating disorders, bullying, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, self harm, gambling, gangs, death, shoplifting, and exam stress to name a few. These shows always offer support lines or support websites after the shows, in order to help teenagers facing these problems, and of course C4 acknowledges these problems exsist by showing them in the first place, making the teenage population of the UK, realise they are not alone in facing these problems. I think the work that C4 has done in this area has been fantastic. I have only highlighted Hollyoaks too, they tackle such issues in the majority of their shows.
C4 has been in the headlines recently, however, with the race row involving Shilpa Shetty, Jade Goody, and Danielle Lloyd. Danielle and Jade, along with other housemates were accused of bullying and making racist comments to Shilpa, on Celebrity Big Brother. There was so much confusion over the whole thing, and this has sparked many a debate no doubt. C4 has been made to make a series of apologies about the racism, by Offcom, on the new series of Big Brother, which is now on our screens.
However... there has been yet another race row as a housemate in the new series of BB has now been kicked out of the house for making a racist remark this week. Channel 4 have been quick to act on this and somewhat "panicked" by it all ,and booted Emily Parr out of the house for calling Charley, a fellow housemate the "N" word. Emily remains to her word that she didn't mean it intentionally, and I think the majority of viewers can see this. Emily is just an immature girl who didn't mean it in a nasty way. A racist remart is a racist remark though, and obviously C4 are't taking any chances on this and booted her out straight away after being accused of not acting quick enough last time during the whole Shilpa episode.
One thing I did notice though, was that they dedicated a whole hour and a half of TV to this latest race row on C4 on Thursday night, therefor cashing in on the racism, but getting the ratings. They have used this latest episode in the C4 racism drama, to their advantage and to get the viewers to tune in.
So the question is - Did Channel 4 use racism to make their money? - my answer is "Yes they do!"
Because of all of the above I think C4 is ran by some very clever people who know perfectly well what they are doing, and know full well it is controvesial as it gets the viewers to tune in.
I do think though that eventually C4 are going to fall flat on their behinds, when a serious (its already got serious enough with the Shilpa Shetty row!), incident takes place. That incident will probably be on Big Brother at some point. Big Brother try their best to mentally torture the housemates, by playing wtih their minds, taking everyday objects like loo roll and food away from them, and creating a claustrophobic atmosphere in the house. They stir things up, by getting housemates to "play games" with each other's minds. There have already been racist arguments, fighting, aggression and bullying over the last 8 years so who is to say that someone won't try to harm themselves in the BB house or try to do damage to someone else? I believe that eventually someone is going to crack and do something that will land channel 4 in terrible trouble. But then again, controversy is what C4 is all about. They aren't afraid to step near the line of unacceptable, and they aren't afraid to be controversial with hard-hitting issues.
So the question is - Do C4 takes risk's with people's mental state and encourage them to fight and fall out, with potentially dangourous repercussions? - my answer is "Yes they do!"
The Diana, Princess of Wales documentory that has just been shown on C4, talking about the part that the Paparazzi had to play in the death of Diana has sparked furious debate, and has the potential to ruin lives by pointing the finger, at what could be a guilty group as a whole, but an innocent individual, targeted because he or she is a photographer and was in the area at the time. The channel refused pleas from Princes, Harry and William, not to show the pictures of their mum lying in the mangled car crash, that killed her, but C4 went and showed it anyway, granted they blanked out her face, as again, they created all this hype about the photographs, and left a "will they, won't they" feel to it, so that viewers just had to tune in to find out.
So the question is - Did C4 use Diana's death and publicise the use of disturbing photographs of her body to make money? my answer is "Yes they did!"
Channel 4 deals with controversy every single day, and take huge risks, but their ratings according to the Broadcasting Audience Reseach Board, are increasing and they pull in an average of 2 million viewers for their less popular programmes, not including the Diana documentory, or Big Brother.
In my view C4 is a brave channel, ran by brave, yet very clever people, but I would change the name to "Channel Controversial".
So the question is - Will they carry on this way after all the trouble they have been in? my answer is "Of course they will!"
For more information visit www.channel4.com
Wilkinsons is a family run buisness that started way back in 1930 by JK Wilkinson and to this day is still ran by the younger generations of his family. In 1930 the first store opened up in Leicester and now, the Wilkinsons shop is on most high streets in most major towns and cities, with 280 stores nationwide. Quite an achievement you may think, but with the fantastic range of products at fantastic prices I'm glad this company has made it to the top.
Wilkinsons aka Wilkos is one of my favourite places to shop, as they sell such a wide range of items. I used to get all of my necessities in one weekly supermarket shop, but it was costing me too much money, so this way I broke the shopping in two. I bought my food only from the supermarket and everything else from Wilkinsons.
````What Do They Sell?````
I should really say what don't they sell as this would probably be easier to answer! You can buy most household items at Wilkinsons such as:
Pet foods, cages and accessories
Kitchenware, anything that goes in your kitchen - they have!
Toiletries, health and beauty products
Household cleaning products and accessories
Household decor, pictures, lamps, lights, bedding, rugs, curtains and many more
Decorating equipment and products
Toys and games
A small food section
Arts and crafts materials
Indoor and outdoor plants
Office items and stationary
Seasonal items, at Christmas, Easter, Halloween.
Their seasonall items, especially at Christmas are fantastic, and great value for money. Last Christmas I bought a 6ft tree for only £10. They have a huge range of seasonal items to chose from and in my view they beat every high street shop for Christmas decorations.
The prices at Wilkinsons are fantastic. When I moved house and went to live back at my parents, I got rid of most of my kitchen appliances. Silly mistake as when I moved out again I had nothing for my kitchen. I took £50 to Wilkinsons with me, intending on getting a little bit and I managed to get: Kettle, toaster, dinner service, cutlery set, bin, dustpan and brush, rug for kitchen floor, tea towels, dish cloths, bin liners, sandwich maker, and around 5 bottles of kitchen cleaning products. For £50 in some places you wouldn't have got the kettle, never mind the rest!
The health and beauty prices are fantastic. You can pick up many items that are in Boots or Superdrug for a fraction of the price. Things like toothpaste, soap, shampoos, conditioners, shower gels and bubble baths are always a bargain from here and the offers change on a regular basis such as a 3 for 2 or bogof offers, so it is always value for money.
The household items are great value too, and I always buy my bedding from here as it is cheap in price, lovely in design and last for ages. I bought a duvet set from M&S last year for around £25, and after around 10 washes it has really faded. My wilkinsons set that I have had for years and cost me around £4.00 in the sale still looks like new.
Their sales are fantastic and they reduce everything seasonal about a week before Christmas, including toys, so you can really grab a bargain. They really slash the prices down too, last year I got a cuddly dog for my friend's little girl, it was £3 down from £15. I ended up getting her another present as I felt I hadn't spent enough on her, but if they hadn't put the sale out before Christmas (we all know that most stores wait until after), then it would of cost me £15.
All in all the prices are very very good.
I have found that there are alot of staff available around the store, but they aren't trained on what products they sell, apart from Wilkos own brands, so if you have a question about a particular product you have to do the research yourself, as in general you get a blank look or a "I'm not really sure", unless you fall lucky and find a member of staff who happens to know. If you ask where a particular item is in the store, I have found the staff member points you in the direction, or tells you where it is, instead of taking you to the item. Wilkinsons stores are usually quite large, so if you are after, for example, a dinner set, you would be pointed to the kitchen section. The kitchen section is usually quite large, about 6 or 7 isles, so you have to find the item once you get there.
For refunds and returns there is a seperate desk, so you don't have to queue up at the till for this. However, the customer service desk is usually very busy during peak trade and you do have to wait a while.
There are 14 tills in my local store, and generally during the week only around 7 of the tills open, but you don't really have to queue. On a Friday and Saturday all the tills are usually running but the store gets very busy so you do have to queue for a while.
On the website for the store, it gives members of the public a chance to be a mystery shopper for Wilkinsons as a one-off or on a regular basis. You can pick which store you want to visit, and use their check-list to do your mystery shop. You then complete an online form giving an honest review and provided this is done 24 hours after your visit they give you £10 for your trouble.
This mystery shop seems they really want to know how the public feel about their customer service and are seriously looking at improving it, which can only be a good thing. As it stands at the moment, they don't have great customer service skills, but at least they are realising this and doing something about it.
The stores offer trolleys and baskets for customers, and have done "bags for life" for a while, but I think they have stopped doing this as I havent seen any of these in my local store for a while. You are offered help with packing your items at the till, however, this is only offered when you buy alot of items.
You can shop one of two ways with Wilkinsons, either in store or online. Online is better for the larger items, such as garden furniture and the delivery prices are fairly average. Instore is better for the smaller items as sometimes there isn't a great deal of choice online.
````To Sum Up````
A great store, with low prices and a wide range of products to chose from. Customer service could do with a little improvement but they seem to be working on this. Certainly worth a visit if you are just moving home or are a first time buyer/renter and need things to kit out your home.
For further information visit www.wilko.co.uk
The product is Nivea Pearl Beauty Roll On Deodorant, and claims to give 24 anti-perpirant protection.
Made by Nivea, the company gives the following statement about this product.
Taken from the Nivea website:
NIVEA Deodorant Pearl & Beauty Roll-on for Women
... for beautiful, smooth underarms.
It's innovative formula with precious pearl extracts leaves underarms feeling smooth and cared for and looking beautiful.
>>>Smooth, beautiful underarms
>>>Ideal for use after shaving
>>>No alcohol or colours. Skin compatibility dermatologically approved.
>>>It's the perfect combination of NIVEA's mild care and reliable anti-perspirant protection. All day long.
~Why Did I Buy It?
While in Boots the other day (the store, not the shoe type), I came across a 3 for 2 offer, which they have on a regular basis on various different things. I went in for my usual deodorant - The Vaseline Intensive Care Roll On. The Vaseline one is usually on some kind of offer, which is usually a 3 for 2, so I usually stock up and buy 3 at a time. This particular visit the deodorant wasn't on offer, however the Nivea Pearl Beauty one was. I fancied giving this one a go and it's attractive packaging made it look like a quality product. I bought 3 for the price of 2 and it cost me £3.98.
This one concerned me and I should of read the ingredients first, but Nivea being a brand with a great reputation for skin and body care, I trusted them.
The first ingedient is water. The second ingredient is Aluminium. There are many debates about Aluminium in deodorants at the moment, but it is proven that these are harmful. Basically anti-perspirants prevent the body from perspiring. They do this by effectively blocking the sweat glands. Aluminum is toxic to the body and gets absorbed by the vital organs and the bloodstream, and as the body tries to rid itself of these free radical toxins in Aluminium, they reach the armpit area to come out as sweat but can't as the glands are blocked due to the deodorant. So the Aluminium toxins sit somewhere in the body, usually close to the armpit area, usually the chest and the tops of the arms. This has been linked to causing Breast Cancer and other illness related to toxins. A little extreme you may think, but there is proof of this out there, and for it to be the second ingredient, that makes an awful lot of Aluminium in one small deodorant. It states on the back of the deoderant (conveniently underneath a sticker that you have to peel off), that this product is 10% Aluminium.
The other ingredients are: steareth-2 and steareth-21. Now the Nivea company claims that (see statement above), that there is no alcohol in this product. The full name for the first of these two ingredients is: Polyoxyethylated stearyl alcohol (Steareth-2). You could say this is a slight contradiction to what is actually on their website, and on the back of the bottle as you can clearly see the word: Alcohol, in the full name of this ingredient.
Other ingredients: Parfum, Hydrolyzed Pearl, Persea Gratissima (This is actually Avocado, and is the moisturising part of the deoderant), Trisodium EDTA.
The packaging is very nice as far as packaging goes, and is in a white bottle, you can see the picture provided by Dooyoo, but on the back, which you can't see there is just one sticker, with a bar code, 50ml, and a note telling you there is a 12 month life span on the product. You have to peel off the label for the ingredients. One good thing I will say however, is that the packaging is see-through so you can tell how much you have left. There is nothing worse than getting ready one morning and realising you are out of deodorant, so this won't happen as you can clearly see how much is left.
~Does it work?~
I have never ever had a problem with body odour, nor am I a sweaty person. I have used Vaseline Intensive Care deoderants for a while now and have never had any problems with it. As I say, I only bought the Nivea product as it was on offer and my usual one wasn't.
The first morning I used this, I got up and had a shower as usual and shaved my underarms. I put my new deodorant on, and it didn't sting in the slightest as some aerosols and some roll-ons do (I find that "Sure" deodorants sting like hell). There was no "wetness" as you get with some deodorants, and it dried quite quickly. I got dressed, and as I have to wear black for work, this day I had a black short sleeved t-shirt on. I looked down and there were white horrible stains all over my T-shirt from the deodorant, so I changed my T-shirt and re-applied some more deodorant whilst wearing the top to prevent any stains on my clean T-shirt. I walk to work in the morning, and it takes around 20 minutes. When I set off for work, it was reasonable sunny, but as it was 8am, the temperature was still cool. I arrived at work and could smell myself!!!! It was disgusting, if anything, the deodorant, I felt, made me sweat! It was awful and embarrassing. My underarms were soaking wet and the smell was foul! So before work, I had to run to Asda, grab a black T-shirt from George, and some Vaseline deodorant (my usual deodorant), get to work, have a wash in the toilets at work, change my T-shirt and apply the Vasleline deodorant. I had to throw my original T-shirt away as the smell was awful! Now that to me, does not provide 24 hour protection. It provided zero protection. After applying my newly bought Vaseline deodorant from Asda, I was fine for the rest of the day, and fine up untill the present as I havent detered again from my old faithful, whether it is on offer or not. The Nivea deodorant provided me with a potentially embarrassing and costly situation. I won't be buying this product again in a hurry.
I really wouldn't bother with this product.
It stains clothes, does not provide any protection, does not state the ingredients very well, and the statement from the Nivea company on this product is untrue and misleading.
There are many pointless laws in the world, why do they even exsist?
In Alabama it is illegal to play donimoes on a Sunday
In Colorado car dealers cannot display their cars on a Sunday
In Florida it is illegal to have doors that open "inwards" on a public building
In London it is illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament in a suit of armour.
Crazy you may think, but why are there not laws in place for the things that we really want banning?
There are many laws that should exsist and in my opinion a few are as follows:
~Wages should be fair~
Yes, there are laws in place to ensure a fair place in employment, such as age, race, and sex discrimination. Footballers are on crazy wages, while other people who work seriously hard for a living scrimp and save for their food shopping each week.
I think a law should be introduced to companies to ensure that anyone working full time should get a higher wage than those working part time. This will encourage people to want to work, and those who only work 16 hours a week so they can also claim all their benefits, such as housing and council tax benefits, will actually be worse off than those working full time. It really angers me when people I know work 16 hours a week, they dont want to work anymore hours as they will lose their benefits, and be worse off if they work full time. I work 39 hours a week, and they have a better quality of life as they have more money than me.
Obviously there will be some problems with this law, and the only people that will moan and gripe about this are those who drain money from the government - our money than we pay through our taxes. And why do we pay this money? Oooh yes, thats right, because we work full time. I also think that those people who are on benefits should be paid by voucher ONLY, as most of the teenage girlies who think a baby in a pram is a fashion accessory should use their "hard earned" benefit money to buy baby products and child care (so they can go out and get a job), instead of the latest top or pair of shoes from New Look.
I hate this. There are two types of spitter.
-There is the collective group of proffessional spitters. Lads, and many girls, walk down the street normally, then you here this foul sound coming from the pit of their stomach while they create the biggest glob of mucous you have ever seen and spit it out of their mouths, making it fly 10 feet.
-Then you have the wannabe spitters who are having a conversation with you, and after ever sentance they spit just a little saliva on the floor. You make a fast escape from them before you are paddling your way across the street.
Both of these groups should be fined £30 per spit if they are seen and the money donation to charity. This would stop them, and stop old people slipping over the slippery globs all over the floor in the town centre, while out shopping on a saturday morning.
Dog walkers should keep their dogs on leads, unless on a beach, or an open place. I am sick to death of walking my dog and being approached by another dog off their lead with the owner trailing 100 feet behind. My dog doesn't like other dogs, why should I keep him muzzled, when I keep him on a lead? If I see another dog approaching on a lead I can simply cross the road, if the dog is off the lead it is on my dog in seconds. Twice, my dog has been attacked my another dog, once by a huge alsation, and the other by a staffordshire bull. The owners couldn't of cared less and didn't even apologise, they said they had the right not to have their dog on a lead.
A law to have all dogs to be put on leads in public areas, exept designated areas, so those who want their dogs off leads can do so, at their own expense. Those who don't adhere to this should again be fined and the money donated to an animal rescue or animal charity.
~Groups of kids~
We have all been young once, but 60 teenagers on my local park, right near my house, untill midnight every Friday and Saturday night is hell. This isn't just my problem, this problem exsists on most parks, and outside corner shops in the country. They are all rowdy, all drunk and all usually fighting by 9pm. The police come, take the ale off them (this has no effect as they are usually already out of it), and move them on. An hour later they are back again. And it continues....
So, a law stating that no more than 5 teenage individuals can "hang around" on the streets after 9pm. Any found after that are taken home and parents are fined. Simple.
I think there should be law in place on TV channels to only show repeats a certain amount of times. I am sick of turning on the TV to find I have already seen almost every programme on every channel. BBC1 repeats it's programmes on BBC3, and BBC2, yet we pay a TV liscence to them. So if they break these laws in one year, nobody has to pay the liscence.
There are so many burglars, usually druggies who rob people's homes and property. Most of the time by the time they are caught they have sold any goods on, and spent or hidden the money. The vicitims of these often crimes don't get a penny back. The criminals get a little prison sentance, and are out again in a few months happy as larry. The victim struggles to find the money to replace whatever was stolen from them
If someone steals your car, drives it and crashes it, you have to pay for the damage yourself if the criminal doesn't have car insurance. So if they do £3000 damage to a £3500 car, you are screwed.
When these idiots go to prison, they have 3 meals a day, sky tv, playstations, a gym, a nice clean room, and lots of courses to attend to aid them get a job on release.
So... when I was at college, at the age of 23, i had to pay for my course, as I was too old to get a free education. I struggled to find the money to pay for 3 meals a day, didn't have Sky, or a playstation, or a gym, and was seriously skint. I worked 30 hours a week as well as studying to pay to live.
I should of just robbed a house, sold the goods, spent the money, handed myself in, gone to prison, got fed, had a nice room, worked out and done my course for free.
A new law taking all these luxuries away from these losers and bringing back hard labour in prisons may just deter. I am unfortunate to know of 2 people who went to prison for drug offences, and they are never bothered about going back in, both have said they have a better life on the inside than they do on the outside, so where does the punishment come in? That is the thing - it clearly doesn't.
Before criminals go to prison they should be named and shamed in the town centre, and be made to stand there for a few hours, with gaurds of course so people can mock them, then send them off for a year of hard labour. That should work.
I could carry on and on and put the world to rights, but I'll stop here. We all know these laws probably won't ever come in for force, but with the ridiculous laws I mentioned at the start of the review - who knows?
Ever wondered what your old classmates are up to from school? Even if it is just 5 years since you left school, or 50 years it doesn't matter with friends reunited.
Set up in 1999 by a married couple, expecting their first baby, the couple wanted to announce their news and catch up with people they had gone to school with and trace old pals. So they set up this genius site, for everyone worldwide to find their old pals.
Setting up an account on this site is so easy, and free of charge. You simply follow instructions on screen to create your own profile with details such as, what you are up to now, your career, likes, dislikes, favourite TV, films, and music. You can add photographs, or if you want to go for it, a full album, onto your profile, of what you look like now or what you looked like back in your school days or both!
You search for your school using the site's school search system, enter the year you left that school and "join" that school. You then appear in the list of people that all left in the same year that you did. You can do this for both your primary school, senior school, as well as colleges, universities, jobs, armed forces and clubs. To view someone's profile, you simply click on their name.
Your "places" and your details appear as your "homepage" when you sign in to the site, and from there you can browse through all the people that you know, or used to know, by place or year of leaving.
If you see someone that you want to get in contact with again, you can "buzz" them for free, which sends a small one sentance message to that person's profile. That message however, stays on that profile and is for all to see. If you do want to make the message more private you can pay £7.50 per year to the site, and this enables you to send emails to that person through the site.
The security for this is really good as all messages are sent through Friends Reunited, meaning that no email addresses for anyone are ever given out, unless you want them to be. You can't put your email address on your profle either as this is automatically filtered out, so this prevents abuse and the wierdos that you get on sites such as faceparty. This means the site is safe for all ages to use and is so simple to follow that the most novice of computer users can get the hang of it quickly.
For each school there is also a message board where you can share your memories of favourite teachers, rules of the school, school dinners, photos, and memories of mischief such as detentions and what other trouble you got up to! You can talk to one another, or just browse through the members, you can even organise a school reunion through the site!
The are 16 MILLION people registered on Friends Reunited, so you are pretty much gaurenteed to come across someone you remember from school or someone you know. When someone has looked at your profile, you won't know they have been there, unless they leave you a message, so therefor, you can look up all those people you didn't really like (you know you wont be able to help having a little peek!), they won't know either!
There is a handy search tool on the site, which easily allows you to find any school, there is also a name seach if you aren't sure which school the person you are looking for went to. You can narrow the search down by entering the person's age and last know location and I have found a few old friends this way that didnt go to my school.
You don't have to have attended a school to browse it either, you can look up anyone you like, anyone in the UK.
Friends reunited have also set up some sister sites, the most popular being Genes Reunited, which you can access through the Friends Reunited page, which enables you to trace your family tree and read old cencus papers.
So there are the basics of Friends Reunited. So why do I rave about it so much?
When my sister was 4 (she is now 30), we were separated through divorce and she went to live away, with her mum (we have the same father, different mother), and I never saw her again..... untill...
I got curious, this was only 5 years ago and started to look for her. I couldn't find anything anywhere about her, untill I came across Friends Reunited. I typed her name in the search bar, and the results showed 7 people in the UK with the same full name as her. I narrowed it down by age, and a vague location to one person.
I signed up the £7.50 subscription fee, which as I said earlier allows you to contact people, and I emailed her through the site. Within 24 hours I had a reply sitting in my inbox. I didn't know whether to open this email or not, and actually sat staring at it for about half an hour, not knowing if my sister was about to tell me to push off, or that I had got the wrong person, or a big warm welcome.
I opened the email and it was my sister alright, she had been looking for me too and had been told about Friends Reunited by one of her friends. She had gone online to have a look at the site, and checked her emails first. They sat that first email from me, through Friends Reuited!
So what happened next? We exchanged telephone numbers and met up about 2 weeks later. We are so alike it is shocking, in looks and ways. It is through Friends Reunited that I got my sister back, after 26 years.
While everyone doesn't have a long lost sister to find, everyone or pretty much everyone has got people they have lost contact with over the years. With Friends Reunited there is no awkwardness, and there is no feeling of "I daren't say anything to them!", as Friends Reunited make it very informal and easy to do.
A highly recommended site.