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    • Twilight [2008] (DVD) / DVD / 46 Readings / 42 Ratings
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      29.11.2009 15:59
      Very helpful



      A great love story, much better than I was expecting

      When I first heard about Twilight, it didn't interest me at all. As a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan, I really don't like things with vampires in. They break all the "Buffy rules" around vampires and generally just annoy me.

      So when my friend (who is over from Oz) asked me to go and see New Moon with her, I wasn't very keen. But being the nice person that I am, I agreed. I bought Twilight from Amazon for £5; I didn't get the two disc special because I wasn't planning on enjoying it enough to want to watch the extras.

      I started watching it, with an open mind and after about 10 minutes I was completely hooked. I am now totally obsessed with all things Twilight.


      Twilight centres around 17 year old Bella Swan and her very intense relationship with Edward Cullen, who just happens to be a vampire, Edward and his family are not like other vampires, they call themselves "vegetarians" because they only drink animal blood.

      Bella moved from Phoenix to live with her Dad in Forks, so her mum could go on the road with her new husband. Bella hates the rain and loves the sun so Forks is like her worst nightmare as it rains more there than anywhere in the US. She settles in to her new school quite well and is a hit with the boys. She is immediately drawn to Edward but things don't get off to a great start, her blood is more irresistible to him than any other human blood, so he immediately wants to kill her. He tries to tell her to stay away from him but they can't stay away from each other and their relationship begins.

      She discovers what he is but isn't scared, she is already madly in love with him and nothing can change the way she feels.

      The Cullens, made up of Carlisle and Esme as the "parents," Emmett and Rosalie, Jasper and Alice and Edward are not the most popular family in town, humans are automatically wary of them without knowing why.

      The film picks up pace towards the end when Bella's is being hunted down by a vampire named James and his mate Victoria.


      My favourite part of the film is when Bella and Edward are on top of the trees and then it goes to Edward playing "Bella's Lullaby" on the piano, it's such a beautiful piece of music and really shows how close they are.

      Another great part is the baseball game, the music is great and the whole scene is just electric. The song "Supermassive Black Hole" by Muse is playing over this and although I'm not a fan of Muse, I love this song.

      My favourite character is without a doubt, Edward Cullen. From the minute I saw him walking into the cafeteria I fell in love with him. I think Robert Pattinson (Harry Potter) suits Edward Cullen perfectly; he is gorgeous and charming but still manages to look quite evil when he wants to.

      I quite like Kristen Stewart (Panic Room) as Bella in this movie, I think sometimes her lines are rushed and she lacks emotion but mostly she's ok. After reading all the books though I think somebody else would have suited that part better because she is really going to struggle, in the last book especially.

      The music in the film was excellent, I must admit to not actually noticing/remembering any of the music the first time I watched it! I think I was just too engrossed to notice! I have since paid better attention and I love it all. There are two songs on the soundtrack by Rob Pattinson, i'm not really keen on his voice at all but I think the song he does towards the end of the film really adds to that scene. His other song plays when he and Bella are sat in the restaurant.


      I have now read all the Twilight books and I think they stayed very true to the first book, I felt that most of the scenes they added were good and did add something to the film. The film was directed by Catherine Hardwicke and I personally think she did a great job; she really did the book justice.

      Overall I think Twilight is a great love story with a supernatural twist. The vampire element is definitely secondary to the brilliant love story between Bella and Edward. I would say this film gives a great introduction to the characters and sets up the rest of the films. There isn't a huge amount of action but I found it very engaging and it's the type of film I can happily watch again and again.


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      • More +
        09.11.2009 14:28
        Very helpful



        A great book by a great writer...

        I have been a huge Sophie Kinsella fan since this book was published way back in 2000. I have read all her books and I love them all but the Shopaholic ones are my favourite.

        Let me introduce Rebecca Bloomwood, Rebecca is a financial journalist working for Successful Savings magazine, a job she absolutely hates. As the title might suggest, Becky is a complete Shopaholic and if she sees something, she has to have it.

        As a result of Becky's spending habits, she is in a lot of debt and throughout the book we see how she tries to avoid her bank manager, what fibs she makes up to get out of paying her bills and how eventually she turns it all around.

        Becky is one of my favourite fictional characters, the way she gets herself into the situations she does is hilarious. She never means to cause trouble or do any harm but her desire to shop always seems to cause trouble for her. I must admit to finding her a little frustrating sometimes, if only she hadn't told that little white lie...

        The story is narrated by Becky herself and it's brilliant seeing what goes on inside her mind, how she convinces herself to do things even though she knows it's wrong.

        One of my favourite moments in this book is when Becky decided to Cut Back and makes a homemade curry for her and Suze... let's just say it doesn't go exactly to plan!


        Susan Cleath-Stuart - Suze is Becky's best friend and flatmate, Suze comes across as a bit ditzy and she loves shopping as much as Becky but Suze is very well off so she can afford to shop as much as she likes.

        Luke Brandon - Luke is the Managing Director of Brandon Communications, a financial PR company. He and Becky bump into other at press conferences and initially make contact when he lends her £20 to buy a Denny and George scarf for her "Aunt Ermintrude" who is poorly in hospital....

        Graham and Jane Bloomwood - Graham and Jane are Becky's loving parents. No matter what Becky tells them, no matter what she does, they love her unconditionally and always take her side. It's very heart-warming. They are really very funny as well, always bickering about completely random things.

        There are other recurring characters such as Martin, Janice and Tom Webster, Becky's parent's next door neighbours. They are under the illusion that Becky has a crush on Tom which she is very annoyed about.

        Dereck Smeath is Becky's bank manager, we see copies of letters he has sent her and how she will go to any length to avoid him.

        The story isn't just about shopping, it's also about Becky finding love and facing up to her responsibilities. It's a great book, it is very easy to read so if you're into heavy novels then it might not be your cup of tea but I love it.

        Also in this series:

        Shopaholic Abroad
        Shopaholic Ties the Knot
        Shopaholic & Sister
        Shopaholic & Baby

        Sophie Kinsella is also currently writing a new one! I cannot wait!


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        • Two & A Half Men / TV Programme / 52 Readings / 48 Ratings
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          03.11.2009 00:26
          Very helpful



          A great show that is easy to watch and is very funny

          I only discovered Two and A Half Men sometime last year, I didn't like it at first but after watching it a few times I grew to love it.

          It's shown pretty much every day on Comedy Central, several times a day in fact! It's now in its 7th season and new episodes are shown on Monday nights and then they are repeated throughout the week.

          Two and A Half Men follows the lives of Charlie, his brother Alan and Alan's son Jake.

          Charlie (played by Charlie Sheen) is a selfish, self centred man who makes lots of money from writing jingles and children's music. He used to be a playboy who did nothing apart from drinking and sleeping around but he's recently got engaged to Chelsea and he's trying to settle down but it's not easy for him!

          Alan (played by Jon Cryer) split up from his crazy wife Judith so moved in with a reluctant Charlie. Alan is very geeky and basically let's people walk all over him, he has little control over Jake and his ex wives take him for most of his money. After divorcing Judith, Alan got married to a hot 22 year old named Candy in Vegas; it didn't last though once the money had run out...

          Jake (played by Angus T Jones) is, in my opinion, the best thing about this TV show. When the show started he was about 9 and he is just hilarious. Now he's around 15 and he's just as funny but doesn't seem to get as much air time as he used to though which is a real shame. He's really quite stupid and lazy and some of the lines he comes out with just crack me up.

          There are some regular characters such as Jakes mum Judith; she is crazy and a bit of a man hater! She's remarried Herb, who like Alan is a total pushover. Judith is pregnant with her second child and we're not sure if the father is Alan or Herb...

          Berta is the housekeeper and she is so funny, she's really sharp and loves nothing more than bitching and stirring up trouble, she's definitely one of the better characters in the show.

          Evelyn Harper is Charlie and Alan's mother, she isn't the best Mum in the world so they have a sketchy relationship but she's really funny.

          Chelsea is Charlie's new fiancée and she is doing her best to get Charlie to settle down. I don't really know much about her, she isn't the best character really, and I find her quite dull.

          Rose recently made reappearance after not being in the show for a while; I really hope she comes back for good because she is really funny. She's completely insane and has stalked Charlie since they had a one night stand in season one. She does really crazy things like licking all his spoons or gluing his cupboard doors shut.

          Two and A Half Men is the biggest comedy in America and I can understand why. It's full of one liners, rude innuendoes and really daft comedy. It is quite "samey" but it doesn't get boring. I think it's a lot like Friends in that you can watch it over and over and still find it funny.


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          • Deal or No Deal / TV Programme / 26 Readings / 26 Ratings
            More +
            02.11.2009 23:36
            Very helpful



            Give it ago and i'm sure you'll be hooked!

            I have recently started watching Deal Or No Deal again, I go through phases with it really, either I'm completely obsessed and watch it everyday or I don't watch it at all.

            Deal Or No Deal (DOND) first aired exactly 4 years ago today - 2nd November 2005. I remember when it first started; I couldn't get my head around it at all. Surely there was more to the game than people opening boxes? Apparently not!

            The show is hosted by Noel Edmonds and if I'm completely honest, he's the worst part of the whole thing. He waffles on with himself and he doesn't really add anything, he doesn't build suspense, he just annoys me!

            HOW THE GAME WORKS

            There are 22 boxes, each worth a sum ranging from 1p to £250,000, these are split into the Blue half and the Red half. The boxes are sealed so nobody knows where the big money is. The player has to open the boxes whilst avoiding the high numbers. At intervals throughout the game, the player is offered a cash amount from the Banker, depending on what sums of money they haven't found. They can either DEAL or NO DEAL.

            If they DEAL, that money is safe but they continue with the game to see what they *could* have won. I absolutely love this part of the game, some people end up missing out on huge sums of money whereas some people end up "spanking the banker!" If they NO DEAL, they continue until they deal or until the end when they open their box.

            As the game has progressed over the years they have added more elements such as Swap Or No Swap, the contestant has the option of swapping their box with any other box still in play. Personally I wouldn't ever swap, I think you're just tempting fate by swapping!

            Bankers Gamble - Risk the money you have already dealt on in order to win a higher amount, it's a risky move, some people have ended up going home with a very small amount after taking the Bankers Gamble.

            Reading my description of this game show makes it sound really quite complicated and not at all exciting and that isn't the case. You really get engrossed in the game and you want the contestant to do well. I find myself covering my eyes because I can't take the suspense! I've even cried at it a few times, either because I'm really pleased with the amount they've won or because they've gone home with a blue.

            The ultimate disaster is going home with 1p and becoming a member of the 1p Club, so far I believe there are 24 members of the club.

            One of the things that annoy me about this show is how people have "systems" and "believe in their box" - this game is down to chance 100%, no matter how you do it. I think positivity is a good thing but it's still down to chance.

            One of my favourite things about the show is how close everybody gets and how you really get drawn into the game. Because the same people stay on the show until it's their turn to play, you get to know them and it's horrible when they go home with a blue.

            I really recommend watching this a few times and I think you'll be hooked; it's a lot more straightforward and exciting than it sounds. It's on Monday - Friday and Sundays on C4 and then repeated later on More4.


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            • More +
              02.11.2009 01:00
              Very helpful
              1 Comment



              A great shower gel with body lotion

              This is without a doubt my favourite shower gel ever. I have sensitive skin and I was very sceptical about using this as it has a very strong scent but I have been using it for over a year now and it's never disagreed with me.

              You can get this from Boots, I think it's around £5 for a big 500ml bottle and it lasts for ages, I'd say a good 6 months. You only need a very small amount because it lathers up really well. It has a pump so you don't have to worry about unscrewing the lid when your hands are wet. When it gets near the end of the bottle and it won't come out, I add some water, shake it up and you get a lot more out of it and it smells just as good.

              I really want to describe the smell to you but I am really bad at picking up on scents unless it's something really obvious but it's very strong and gorgeous and you can smell it on your skin for the rest of the day.

              Another bonus of Clean On Me is it has a body lotion built in so after your bath/shower your skin feels so soft and lovely.

              One more thing that I think is quite important; Soap and Glory don't test any of their products on animals.

              I have asked my boyfriend to buy me lots of lovely Soap and Glory products for Christmas, I hope he was listening!


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              • Twitter.com / Internet Site / 39 Readings / 37 Ratings
                More +
                02.11.2009 00:08
                Very helpful



                A great Social Networking site

                I first discovered Twitter back in January. I really didn't get it, I didn't see the point.

                Now 11 months later, I am totally addicted. It's one of my favourite Social Networking sites; I much prefer it to Facebook, Myspace, Bebo etc. I check it regularly throughout the day either on the web or through my iPhone.

                So what is Twitter I hear you ask? Twitter as I said above is a Social Networking site where you let people know what you are doing in 140 characters or less. These are called "tweets."

                You can also follow people, including lots of celebrities, this means that you can read their tweets and see what they are up to. Some people have no interest in celebs but I personally love them. And what's great about Twitter is the celebs actually tweet themselves (with the odd exception) so you get to see a side of them you never knew about. I get very excited when celebrities tweet me back, I don't get out much. Some of the celebs on Twitter are Jonathon Ross, Stephen Fry, Phillip Schofield, President Obama and Jimmy Carr.

                If you're very lucky and interesting, people will follow you back, which means they can read your tweets. Anybody can read your tweets though, so you have the option to protect your tweets so only people you approve can read them.

                You do get the odd spammer following you; I've just noticed two very rude ones following me! It's very easy to block people though.

                You can send people Direct Messages that nobody else can see, but only if you are following them and they are following you back.

                As well as letting people know what you are doing you can upload pictures and links to share with others. If somebody posts something interesting you can "retweet" it so people following you can read it.

                One of the best things about Twitter has to be the Trending Topics, these are the top 10 subject being discussed on Twitter and these are listed on the right hand side. They are updated in real time so they are always relevant.

                I personally have found Twitter great for keeping up to date on current affairs. I'm not one for reading newspapers or watching the news but if something important is going on in the world, you can guarantee people are talking about it on Twitter. I first heard about Michael Jackson dying through Twitter.

                If you haven't heard of Twitter I think you must have been living under a rock because it is huge now and is only going to get bigger. Go check it out, you won't regret it.


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                • More +
                  28.06.2009 17:52
                  Very helpful



                  A great seaside resort with lots to do

                  I went to Blackpool yesterday so thought I would write a review on it. I have been to Blackpool more times than I can remember, we used to go every summer as children and I've gone almost once a year since. I love everything about Blackpool, the lovely beach, the piers, the tower, the trams, the illuminations, everything. Every time I go, I have a brilliant time and never want to go home.

                  Our Day Out To Blackpool

                  We got there at about 11am and noticed that Blackpool Train Station has gone all modern since our last visit; you have to go through electronic gates to get in and out of the station and if you don't have a ticket, then don't even try!

                  It was a lovely day, not too sunny when we got there but not raining either, that's always a bonus! We walked down to the North Pier, it always amazes me that you have to pay 50p to get on this pier and yet it's the worse one! They did give us some vouchers though, for £1 off the carousel and 50p off an ice cream plus two more vouchers, I can't remember what they were though. As we walked down we noticed a group of lads playing cricket on the beach so we watched them for a while then walked down to the bottom where people were fishing. I wish it had been sunny because the sun terrace was empty and I could have quite happily sunbathed for a couple of hours!

                  My boyfriend and I are a pair of big kids really so we headed straight for the arcades. The first one we went in was Coral Island; I think this is probably the best one. They have the ghost train and mono rail ride for the kids (and big kids I guess!) plus it's huge and they have so many different games. One of the games stole my £1, I told somebody and he came and sorted it out straight away.

                  I then needed a sit down as I have a bad back so can only walk around for a short while, we were going to go in the Bar inside Coral Island but they had gone way over the top with the air con and it was too cold to sit in there, we tried their café too but it was really busy and we only wanted a drink so didn't fancy queuing.

                  We went into the amusements next door, I can't remember what it was called, they all look the same really apart from Coral Island so it's hard to remember their names! It was quite a small one anyway, we got a can of pop each (80p each!) then played a few of their games.

                  As we walked down the front, we came across Golden Isle indoor adventure golf, we love crazy golf and this place looked really cool so we thought we'd have a game. Because it's only just opened the price is slightly cheaper than it will be after the 12th July. It cost us £3.75 each (usually £5) they charge £2.50 for children (usually £3) and £10 for a family of four (usually £15)

                  The place looks amazing, you go in and it's themed like a pirate ship and it's very impressive. It's very dark inside with spot lights, black lights and pretty lights in the ceiling. There are 12 holes in total, some of them are quite straight forward but some are a little more complex but they are all great fun. We found we were waiting around quite a bit, it was really busy and we had to wait for the group before us to finish before we could go, it wasn't too bad as they have crates, barrels and rocks everywhere so I could sit down while I waited if I wanted to. The children that were in the groups before and after us really enjoyed themselves, it was very magical and they've done a brilliant job with it. Beats any crazy golf course I've ever been to.

                  After that we had a walk down to the Central Pier, it was starting to rain by this point, typical Blackpool! We had a walk down the pier, avoiding all the people who were trying to get us to play their daft games. The Central Pier is probably my favourite, they have some good rides, including the Big Wheel, my boyfriend is terrified of heights so wouldn't come on it with me and I'm not brave enough to go on by myself! Plus they have some interesting shops down at the bottom. There is a caricaturists, which costs £9 for black and white or £11 for colour (per face) I was going to get one done but the queue was too big. Further along is the shop where you can get old fashioned pictures taken, I'm sure it has a name but I didn't notice what it was, really should start paying more attention shouldn't I? Anyway I digress, in this shop they dress you up in old fashioned clothes and the pictures are printed in a way that makes them look really old. I had one done a few years ago and it was great fun, although it did cost £30 (that was including the frame)

                  There is also a chocolate and fudge shop, we couldn't resist getting something; the display in the window looked so delicious. I got some marzipan (that's really boring I know!) and my boyfriend got some Jack Daniels chocolate, it was horrible but then I do hate Jack Daniels, my boyfriend thought it was gorgeous! They were quite pricey I thought - £1.99 a bag and you only got 5 or 6 pieces.

                  The pier also has the famous Legends show, we didn't go to see it but it looks really good, it's basically a tribute act to stars like Robbie Williams, George Michael and David Bowie to name a few.

                  I was getting hungry by this point so we crossed back over the road and went into Fun Palace where they have a chip shop style café. I had pie, chips and gravy and my boyfriend had sausage, chips and gravy plus we had two large Pepsi's and it came to £9 which I thought was very reasonable.

                  Once we'd eaten we decided to get rid of all our copper because we were tired of carrying it around! We gave ourselves a challenge to see how many tickets we could get, I love playing the daft little games that are probably aimed at children! We did ourselves proud and got 369 tickets and exchanged them for some Me To You oven gloves, a Liverpool FC magnet and some sweets.

                  We crossed over the road and went and sat on the steps near the central pier, these weren't here last time I went to Blackpool and I think they look really good. It was lovely sitting in the sun with the waves crashing against the bottom steps.
                  We both decided to get our palms read, I know, we should have just flushed the money down the drain but it's become like a tradition for me to get my palm read and I always see the same lady and although I don't believe in it completely, she is usually quite accurate about some things. She is also totally wrong about some things too!

                  It was 5.30pm and I was in really bad pain with my back so we decided to go and get the train home.


                  We didn't even scratch the surface of what Blackpool has to offer, below are some other attractions I have visited in the past, I won't list all the prices because they tend to change with the seasons.

                  The Pleasure Beach

                  I used to love the pleasure beach when I was younger but I can't really go on the rides anymore due to my dodgy back but I still love walking around the pleasure beach, although this will now cost you £5 which I think is a bit cheeky. My favourite rides have got to be Valhalla and Avalanche. Valhalla is amazing, and very very wet! If you're going on it and you think you don't need one of those big plastic coat thingies, believe me you do! You get soaked, there is no avoiding it! Avalanche is awesome because I love the speed. I have never been on Pepsi Max because I was there once when it crashed and it put me off for life. Revolution makes me feel very ill so I've only been on that a few times. I love the roller coasters like the Grand National and the Big Dipper. I used to love the Log Flume but I believe it's closed down now. Looking on the website, there are some rides I haven't heard of such as Bling and Infusion.

                  The pleasure beach has a good choice of children's rides, in their own area named Beaver Creek. They also have a selection of cafes, bars, restaurants and gift shops. There are plenty of toilets scattered about the place and I've always found these very clean and tidy.

                  There is so much more to the pleasure beach they I haven't covered, it's a great day and I would highly recommend it to children and adults alike.


                  Blackpool Tower

                  I love Blackpool Tower, I think it looks brilliant and it represents so many good childhood memories for me. However I do think inside is really overrated. I went in just over 2 years ago with my nephew and we were really bored, we went up to the top, that's always good fun but besides that we couldn't find much to do. Looking on the website, they have a Jurassic walk and 3D show, this would have been brilliant but either it wasn't there when we went or it wasn't open. The aquarium is okay for about 10 minutes. The ballroom is okay if people are using it, otherwise it's just a huge empty room.

                  Now the circus is brilliant. I haven't been for many years but I still remember how much I loved it and I can't wait to see it again.


                  The Sandcastle

                  This is an indoor water park and it's great fun. I went just over two years ago with my nephew and we stupidly left it very late to go in so only had an hour and a half but we did have a lot of fun whilst we were there. Our favourite slide was the Sidewinder, it really takes your breath away and makes your tummy go funny but it's brilliant, we went on it about 5 times!



                  I've stayed over in Blackpool plenty of times but most were when I was younger and I don't remember where we stayed. One place I can recommend is Fortune House down near the South Pier, a few minutes from the front. It's a very simple but clean and friendly place to stay. I've stayed twice now and both times the owners have been lovely and always make the stay very enjoyable. They are really flexible with the breakfast; they'll make you pretty much anything you want! It's very reasonably priced too, starting at £20 per person per night which includes breakfast. The first time I stayed there we had a lovely four poster bed and it didn't cost any extra.

                  I've also stayed in the Premier Inn on the South Shore which was really good, very clean and tidy. It is a bit of a walk from the sea front though.


                  Blackpool has a lot to offer, you could easily spend a few days here and not run out of things to do. Just be aware that people may claim Blackpool is "cheap and cheerful" - well let me tell you, it's not! You might be able to find a cheap b&b, cheap cafes etc but you'll end up spending a fortune and you won't have a clue where it's gone! We spent about £70 in one day and we didn't even go to the pleasure beach or in the Tower.

                  Websites to visit for more information:



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                  • jet2.com / Airline / 38 Readings / 38 Ratings
                    More +
                    19.06.2009 17:29
                    Very helpful



                    Would definitely fly with Jet2.com again

                    I have just returned from Tenerife, I booked through Flexibletrips.com and we flew with Jet2.com.

                    We were flying out on a Friday at 3.40pm, we arrived at Manchester Airport approx. 2 hours before we were due to fly. We found the check in desk easily and there was no queue at all which we thought was great.

                    When boarding the flight, I was getting a bit upset, the lady who was taking our boarding cards told my boyfriend (not me) that I had to calm down or I would hold up the whole flight, I thought this was totally unnecessary and unkind, I was crying a little bit, not sobbing, I doubt anybody else even noticed and I'd stopped by the time we actually got on the plane.

                    I've never flown with Jet2 and as a budget airline; I wasn't expecting much to be honest. I was, however pleasantly surprised. The seats were "leather" and very comfortable, however they didn't recline. There are no television screens and they don't have a radio so it's essential to take your own entertainment!

                    The staff were very efficient and helpful and the pilot kept us informed. One of the air stewardesses scalded herself but they dealt with it very quickly and it didn't disrupt the flight or service in any way.

                    The food was okay, we didn't pre-book a meal so we had a sandwich each, it cost approx. £3.50 for a ploughman's on brown bread, it was nice but not worth that price but I kind of expect to pay that on a plane. My boyfriend had a coffee and thought it was delicious. They also sold hot toasted sandwiches, chocolate bars, peanuts and a selection of hot and cold drinks.

                    Both flights were very smooth, I don't like flying but I didn't find the take off or landing too traumatising.

                    Check in and boarding on the way home was again very fast and efficient. The air stewardesses were really efficient with the food/drinks and duty free shopping. My boyfriend bought me a little Radley purse because I didn't cry at all on the way home, hehe! They had a good selection of gifts on sale and because we were out of the EU we were allowed to buy cigarettes and alcohol cheaply if we wanted.

                    We each got a meal deal on the way home which was £6.75 each, for that you got a sandwich, we had ploughman's again, a can of Pepsi or a hot drink and a small tub of Pringles. I thought this was better value for money than the sandwich on it's own.

                    On the way back they offered people an upgraded seat, with more leg room for £10 but we were happy with our seats.

                    I would definitely fly with jet2 again however I would pre-book a meal next time as I think it really breaks the journey up, it was nearly 5 hours to Tenerife and it was really boring without a movie to watch or the meal.


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                  • More +
                    02.06.2009 17:36
                    Very helpful



                    A great summer read

                    I recently finished the latest instalment from Marian Keyes. I've read all Marian Keyes books and I wasn't disappointed with this one. I got the paperback copy from the local library.

                    The story follows the lives of four women, Lola, Grace, Marnie and Alicia and one man Paddy De Courcy. As with most books by Marian Keyes, the book is set in Dublin but we also visit County Clare and London.

                    The book switches between each of the four women and as the story unfolds you see how each of their lives have been affected by Paddy De Courcy.



                    Lola is a quirky stylist with purple hair (sorry Molichino!) She was Paddy's girlfriend until she found out he was marrying Alicia Thornton and her world was destroyed. In my opinion Lola's part of the story is the best; it's very funny and gives light relief to what can sometimes be quite a serious book. I love the style in which Lola's parts are written, very "Bridget Jones Diary."


                    Grace is a reporter, at first you think she's going to be a typical hard faced reporter but then you realise she's got a much softer side. Grace is struggling at work due to a colleague that seems to know every celebrity in the world and keeps getting all the scoops. Her long term boyfriend is also getting friendly with his ex wife which annoys Grace.


                    Marnie is Grace's twin sister, she lives in London with her husband and two children. I found Marnie's story very sad and could relate to how she was feeling sometimes. We see how Marnie struggles to fight her demons and get her life back on track.


                    Alica's story is only touched on slightly, she has a few chapters to herself but we mostly hear about her through the other girls.


                    It's quite a serious book, there are some heavy issues covered such as domestic abuse, alcoholism and it does get very political at times but I still found it very easy to read and I enjoyed it thoroughly. When it's switching between characters, you read about somebody being battered and abused by somebody but you don't find out who that is until the very end, I like this (not the abuse part you understand!) because it keeps you guessing and I changed my mind about who it was a few times throughout the book and I still didn't guess correctly.

                    My one tiny gripe with this book (well Marian Keyes really) is she chooses a word and it gets used way too much. For instance in this book Lola uses the word "burny" all the time and it does get very annoying. In "Anybody Out There" she uses the word "warcrime" a lot too. Just a tiny thing that I've picked up on that irritates me a bit!

                    Overall it's a brilliant book, sad and heavy at times but very funny and silly at other times. Well worth a read.


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                    • Hook (DVD) / DVD / 26 Readings / 25 Ratings
                      More +
                      02.06.2009 17:05
                      Very helpful



                      I love this film, it's a classic.

                      Hook was one of my favourite films growing up and it was on Channel Five the other day, much to the disappointment of my boyfriend who wanted to watch the FA Cup final!

                      The film was made in 1991 (I can't believe it's that old!) and was directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Robin Williams as Peter Pan, Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook and Julia Roberts as Tinker bell.

                      Hook is based on the classic Peter Pan story except Peter Pan left NeverLand, got married, became a grumpy lawyer and had two children of his own. Peter Banning married Wendy's granddaughter Moira and their children are Jack and Maggie. Peter isn't a great Dad and lets the children down on a regular basis.

                      Captain Hook kidnaps Jack and Maggie and takes them to NeverLand. Tinker bell comes and guides Peter back to NeverLand - "Second star on the right and straight on."

                      The film shows Peter trying to save his children from Captain Hook and remember his own childhood, the Lost Boys don't believe he really is Peter Pan as he can't remember anything about it.

                      One of my favourite parts of the film is when Rufio tells the Lost Boys to choose between him and Peter, one of the little Lost Boys starts pushing and prodding at Peters face and then says "there you are Peter" - all the other Lost Boys cross back over the line and start touching Peters face and they believe he really is Peter Pan. I absolutely love that part, it makes me want to cry!

                      Another is when they are having their dinner and they are eating invisible food and Peter can't see any food but then he has a slanging match with Rufio and suddenly he remembers how to play the game and lots of gorgeous food appears, it always makes me so hungry!

                      NeverLand really is a magical place, I love watching the film because I love NeverLand so much. It has magical creatures like mermaids, hidden passageways that lead to snow covered hills, beautiful waterfalls and the sea is brilliant blue. It really does capture your imagination.

                      I must say I was shocked when I found out Dustin Hoffman played Hook, it looks nothing at all like him! He plays him brilliantly though.

                      This is a kid's film but I'm 26 and I still love it so I would recommend this to anybody who likes to get lost in their imagination and loves a good heart warming film.

                      You can buy Hook from Amazon from £3.25 plus postage.


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                    • More +
                      02.06.2009 15:06
                      Very helpful
                      1 Comment



                      A great little story that had me hooked til the end

                      Somebody gave this book to my boyfriend over a year ago and it's just been lying around ever since. I was bored one day and had nothing to read so thought I'd give it ago. I'm so very glad that I did.

                      I can't understand why some people have given it a low rating and why King himself says it's not that great. I was absolutely hooked; I read it in about 7 hours straight and was desperate to know what happened next. Each to their own I guess!

                      I haven't read many of Stephen Kings other books so I can't really compare the writing style but I found this really easy to read once I got past the first chapter.

                      What's the story about?

                      Blaze AKA Clayton Blaisdells Jnr was a bright young boy until his abusive father threw him down the stairs leaving him with a dent in his forehead and ever since then he was known as a "dummy." He was a huge man, over 6 foot tall and weighed over 200 pounds but he was gentle with it.

                      He and his friend George are trying to pull the ultimate con, kidnapping a baby in order to demand ransom money from his wealthy family. The only problem is George is dead and he was the brains behind the operation. Can Blaze pull it off on his own?

                      The story flicks between the present and Blaze growing up. It flows very well and I enjoyed reading about his past as it made you understand what he's all about and why he leads a life of crime.

                      I had a lot of empathy for Blaze, I really warmed to his character and I was rooting for him all the way through the book.

                      The story with George was really interesting, he was dead yet Blaze continued to have conversations with him so it made you wonder if he really was dead or if Blaze was just insane.

                      Seeing Blaze bond with the baby was very heart warming and made you realise despite the fact that he is a criminal he isn't a bad person, he just got lost and had a lot of bad breaks.

                      Overall I found the book gripping and well written. I found the ending a little predictable but I don't think that took anything away from it. Well worth a read.


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                      • Tesco Clubcard / Credit Card / 30 Readings / 27 Ratings
                        More +
                        01.06.2009 16:46
                        Very helpful



                        Good way to have a cheap holiday!

                        Tesco Clubcard is a loyalty card that offers one point for every pound spent at Tesco, Tesco Direct and other third parties such as Eon. You have a card that they scan every time you shop or you save your card number on Tesco.com and they add the points each time you shop. If you choose not to use Tesco carrier bags you get Green Clubcard points.

                        Tesco used to offer really good promotions like 1000 points for a £100 spend but now those promotions are really thin on the ground. Looking back at my old statements I used to get double the points I get now even though I spend almost the same amount each month.

                        You could sign up to some of Tesco's clubs - Food, Wine, Healthy Living, Baby & Toddler, Christmas Saver and Greener Living. They offer extra promotions and vouchers. You can join as many as you like.

                        Tesco recently introduced "Double Up" - you can exchange your vouchers for Double Up vouchers and as the name suggests they are worth twice as much as the voucher. You can use these on Garden, Toys, Wine (by the case) Baby & Toddler, Kid's bikes and grocery delivery.

                        The best part of the Clubcard scheme is the Deals, you can convert your vouchers into deals and they are worth four times as much. So a £10 voucher would get you £40 in deals. I think they are renaming it Rewards now but it's the same thing. You can use the Deals on holidays, weekend breaks, magazine subscription, driving lessons and a lot more.

                        In 2007 I went for a long weekend at Haven in Cleethorpes, we stayed in a really nice caravan and the fun passes and bedding were included, most of that was paid for with Clubcard deals. We now have £314 in deals saved up to go to Ireland later on in the year.

                        The vouchers last for two years. You can choose to get paper vouchers to use in the store or e-vouchers to use online. Get a statement each quarter with your vouchers attached, it also tells you where you earned the points.

                        If you lose your vouchers, Tesco will reissue them for you. I signed my Mum up to the Clubcard scheme but she didn't realise she had to keep the statements so she threw them all away thinking they were junk mail. I rang Tesco for her and said she'd thrown them all away by mistake, they were very understanding and said they would reissue all the vouchers, almost £100 worth, which is £400 in deals. She used all the vouchers when she went to London for a long weekend.

                        Some people don't like the fact that Tesco know exactly what you're buying but it doesn't really bother me.

                        I still think this is one of the best loyalty schemes around because of the Deals but it's not half as good as it was 12/18 months ago.


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                        • freecycle.org / Internet Site / 52 Readings / 52 Ratings
                          More +
                          20.05.2009 16:05
                          Very helpful



                          A great resource if used properly.

                          What is Freecycle I hear you ask?


                          Freecycle is an online community where you can give things away to people in your local area and you can also ask for things. Each Freecycle group has a Yahoo Group which you can join, you can then sign up to receive the daily digest emails so you can see what people are offering or asking for. If you have something you want to give away or ask for, you send a message to the group admin and they will add it to the daily email for you. People will email you directly to ask for the item(s) you are giving away or if they have something you want.

                          The clue is in the name but absolutely everything on Freecycle has to be FREE. I have had a lot of people ask me to post things to them, but then that would cost me money so of course I always say no. Plus the way I see it, if I have two people, one willing to collect, one wanting it posting to them, I'm always going to choose the person willing to collect.

                          You can't ask for something until you have given something away. It's only fair really.

                          The day I gave LOTS of stuff away....

                          The first time I posted on Freecycle I had over 30 things to give away, I'd had a mass clear out and wanted it all gone. The things ranged from cardboard boxes to a couple of unused mobile phones to a leather office chair. I emailed the admin and awaited replies.

                          The next morning I checked my emails and was in shock. I had over 100 emails. OMG. How on earth was I going to sort all this out. I started thinking listing so many things at once had been a little ambitious.

                          I calmed down and created a spreadsheet (I love spreadsheets anyway so it was ok) I made a list of all the items then went through each email and put each persons name next to the items they wanted. All the people that had been rude (for example just putting I want x and y. No please or thank you) got deleted, if you can't be polite enough to even say please or thank you when somebody is giving you something away for free, then you don't deserve it. And anybody that had asked for every single item (and there were quite a few people who did this) got ignored too because they were just being very greedy.

                          I updated my spreadsheet throughout the day and part of the next day. Then I decided who was having what. I wanted it to be fair, some people had given reasons why they wanted things but you can never be sure how genuine people are being. So I asked my boyfriend to choose a letter on my spreadsheet (so for the first item, let's say 5 people asked for it, that would have been cells B - F) We did this for every item, some people ended up with more than one thing, some people ended up with nothing but it was completely fair so I was happy with it.

                          I sent everybody a standard emailing back telling them what I was offering them and then saying I wanted everything collected the following Saturday between a certain time and to confirm they could make it.

                          Some people didn't get back to my original email, perhaps they weren't happy with what I was offering them, who knows, if I hadn't had a response within 24 hours, I offered it to somebody else.

                          One the day, I had everything ready. I was quite nervous, what if people asked for more things when they got here? Was it silly to be letting so many strangers into my home? What if I got so confused and gave everybody the wrong thing? I told myself to calm down, all this fuss over giving some things away, so silly!

                          It did all go quite smoothly to be honest. Nearly everybody turned up, a few didn't, and they didn't ring to say they wouldn't be coming which is really rude if you ask me but then I guess that is the risk you take. I ended up getting rid of most of it anyway which is good.

                          I was very glad once it was all over and everything had been taken, I sent an email to the admin to confirm everything had been taken and to thank everybody. I received some emails over the next few days from people thanking me which I thought was nice.

                          My tips....

                          Don't list lots at once; it's very confusing and a lot of work. I'd suggest listing a couple of things at a time, getting rid of them and then listing something else.

                          Don't be fooled by peoples "sob stories" - you'll get a lot of them but you never know how genuine they are so I personally think it's unfair to choose people based on them.

                          Always be polite. If you are asking for something or collecting something, always show you are grateful and send the person an email to thank them. Don't forget your P's & Q's!

                          Be prompt. If you are collecting, get there at the time you say and if for whatever reason you're going to be late, contact them and let them know. If somebody emails you, reply as soon as you can so they don't think you're not interested.

                          Don't be afraid to list things that you might think are worthless. Your junk is another mans treasure. I gave an old remote control away once. I don't even know what it was for, just found it and thought, I wonder if somebody would want this!

                          Be realistic when asking for things. If you ask for a 42" Plasma TV with Surround Sound you're likely to get laughed out of town. Nobody is going to give away things like that.

                          I got the daily digest email yesterday and somebody had asked for a Dyson (working only) - the cheek of it. If you cannot afford to buy yourself a hoover, then surely any kind will do? Why do you need an expensive one like a Dyson? My Dyson cost over £100 and I got it in the sales! I mean if somebody happens to have one that they can afford to give away then brilliant but I honestly think asking for things like that is really cheeky.

                          Be careful when having people come to your home. I'm young and female so I always make sure my boyfriend is home. I very rarely invite people in, I am generally expecting them so have it ready and just hand it over.

                          And to conclude....

                          I personally think Freecycle is a brilliant resource, if it used properly. It can be hit and miss, some people think it's a god given right to be given something for nothing and have no manners. But you just need to ignore them and move on. There are a lot of good people on Freecycle, they far outweigh the bad in my opinion.

                          If you are unsure, why not give it ago, you can always leave the group if you feel that it's not for you.


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                          • Let Go - Avril Lavigne / Music Album / 28 Readings / 27 Ratings
                            More +
                            19.05.2009 17:56
                            Very helpful



                            A great album overall, probably her best.

                            Avril Ramona Lavigne (now Whibley) was born September 27th 1984 in Belleville, Ontario, Canada. The family moved to Napanee, Ontario when Avril was 5 and Avril mentions the town in My World.

                            This was Avril's debut album, released in 2002 reaching number one in Australia, Canada and the UK and number two in the US. Avril does write a lot of her own work but she collaborated with The Matrix team on this album. Avril also plays the guitar, piano and the drums (although not sure how good she is on the drums, when I saw her in concert last year it looked like she had just started)

                            The first single was the amazing Complicated. I remember this song being released and I thought she was brilliant straight away. She had such an attitude, she was cocky and edgy but in a very endearing way. Complicated reached number one in Australia, New Zealand and Mexico, number two in the US and number three in the UK. It was one of the most successful songs of 2002 and Avril mania began.

                            Her second single was Sk8er Boi and despite it becoming an instant hit, it only reached number eight in the UK charts and number 10 in the US, I don't suppose you can turn your nose up at that really but when songs by Bob The Builder and the Crazy Frog get to number one, it does make you wonder! I still put this song on now when I want to have a man few minutes dancing, it never fails to cheer me up.

                            Her third single was I'm With You, a change from her first two singles. I'm With You is a lovely slow song and it showed a different side to her. A lot of people maybe had her down as a grumpy teenager but this song showed a softer side of her. It reached number seven in the UK and number four in the US. I love the video to this song, it's so edgy and I love how it all seems to be in slow motion.

                            Avril went on to release Losing Grip and Mobile (in Australia only) Losing Grip is probably the "rockiest" song off her first album, this could be the reason it did very poorly in the charts, only getting to number 64 in the US and 22 in the UK. Avril has said this was her favourite song off this album.

                            I think my favourite song off this album is either Tomorrow or Naked. Although I love the upbeat My World. My least favourite songs on this album are Mobile and Unwanted.

                            I went to see Avril at the Manchester Apollo in March 2003. It was the best concert I have ever been to, it's not a huge arena so it was quite "intimate" although I couldn't see a thing because I was right at the back! She is amazing live, one of the best I've ever heard. I couldn't speak the next day because I'd worn my voice out! After the concert my brother and I waited outside for about 3 hours to meet her, we got her and the bands autograph and my brother made Jesse the drummer laugh, he was quite pleased with that. I've still got my signed t-shirt tucked away somewhere.

                            Track List:

                            1. Losing Grip
                            2. Complicated
                            3. Sk8er Boi
                            4. I'm With You
                            5. Mobile
                            6. Unwanted
                            7. Tomorrow
                            8. Anything But Ordinary
                            9. Things I'll Never Say
                            10. My World
                            11. Nobody's Fool
                            12. Too Much Too Ask
                            13. Naked

                            *** I got some of the factual information from Wikipedia. ***


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                            • More +
                              19.05.2009 17:18
                              Very helpful



                              If you need advice on anything, visit CAB!

                              ** Updated 1st June to add my personal experience of CAB **

                              BRIEF HISTORY:

                              CAB has been established since 1939, by 1942 there was 1074 bureaux opened, all run by volunteers. By the 1960's the number of bureaux had dropped to 416. In 1999 www.adviceguide.org.uk was launched and by 2003 the website was available in 6 different languages.

                              Citizens Advice is 70 years old this year. (2009)

                              ** This information is from http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/index/aboutus/factsheets/ourhistory.htm

                              WHAT CAB OFFER:

                              CAB offers FREE, IMPARTIAL, INDEPENDENT and CONFIDENTIAL advice to anybody that needs it, regardless of age, sex, race, disability, religion etc.

                              CAB is not associated with anybody, not even the government or local authority, so any information they give you is purely factual and is not biased in anyway.

                              They will never disclose your details (they won't even tell anybody you've actually visited) to anybody without your explicit permission.

                              HOW IT WORKS:

                              Generally CAB is a drop in centre, appointments aren't generally made, it depends on your Bureau and their resources. You can also contact some by phone. You must check the opening time of your local CAB because they are generally not open everyday.

                              Sometimes there can be a long wait once you get there, CAB is very busy and you just never know how long each interview is going to last, so patience is a must.

                              CAB is run by paid staff and volunteers. Everybody receives the same thorough training and nobody is allowed to advise unsupervised unless they are deemed fully competent by their supervisor.

                              A misconception of CAB is that the advisors know everything. They don't. They have very good resources and a "website" where all the information is kept. It is impossible for the advisors to know everything because the law changes so fast. With this in mind, sometimes the advisor may leave you alone for some time to find the information for you and to consult a supervisor if necessary. Advisors will always try to keep waiting times (before and during the interview) to an absolute minimum but sometimes if the information you require is quite in depth or technical, it can take a little while. If you have been kept waiting a while and you don't feel you can wait any longer, please let somebody know so the advisor doesn't spend a lot of time researching for nothing :)

                              This "website" that advisors use is not available to the general public although CAB do have a website where you can get general information - www.adviceguide.org.uk - you might ask why do people not just use this website instead of visiting the CAB offices. Well for one thing this website can only give general information, whereas in the office we can give specific information and we can also contact companies for you if necessary.

                              Another misconception is that CAB tell you how to solve your problems, well in one sense that is true but they never take the decision making process out of your hands. CAB simply tell you what your options are, tell you the pro's and cons of each option and then let you make your own mind up. Once you've decided on a course of action, CAB will help in anyway that they can. (E.G. send letters, ring somebody etc)

                              CAB covers a lot of different subjects including Housing, Employment, Family Matters and the two mains ones - Debt and Benefits. This list is not exhaustive though, if you have a problem that you feel does not fall into one of those categories, CAB will still be able to help in some way.

                              If CAB cannot help you (if you need a solicitor or a counsellor) or you need specialist help, CAB may refer you to another agency/company, they will always explain any costs that may be involved and of course it's always your choice to take up the referral.

                              MY EXPERIENCE:

                              I'm sorry I didn't add this in the original review, I forget sometimes that people aren't just looking for factual information, obviously forgot big time with this review!

                              I visited CAB about 9 months ago because I was having a lot of trouble with debt, I won't say exactly how much we have but it's more than my partner (as the "breadwinner") earns in a year, which is really scary. I had lost my job because I was ill and we were really struggling. I've known about CAB for years, my mum and other members of the family have used them quite a few times. So I went down one morning, I got there early because I know how long you have to wait sometimes. Luckily because I had got there quite early I was waiting less than an hour. I was seen by a lovely man, he really put me at ease. He explained how CAB works and about confidentiality, he told me my details would be kept on computer and checked if that was okay with me. I explained my situation and I could tell he was really listening to what I had to say, he wasn't taking notes all the time although he did take some notes towards the end, I didn't mind him taking notes, obviously he wouldn't have been able to remember everything off the top of his head but I was glad he didn't sit there writing the whole way through. I was getting quite upset at one point because I just didn't see how we were ever going to manage and we'd already missed payments on some things, he was so kind to me but not in a patronising way, he really reassured me that I could do something to make the situation better. He went into a lot of detail regarding my debt, incoming/outgoing, any assets we had etc. He said he had to go away to do some research and he'd be gone about 20 minutes. When he came back he explained what I could do, he suggested contacting the creditors and offering token payments for the time being, I could make an appointment with CAB's debt advisor or I could contact one of the debt charities like CCCS or Payplan. I wanted to see their debt advisor but the waiting time was 6 weeks and I didn't really want to leave it so long before getting some more advice so I asked for more details about the debt charities. I ended up contacting CCCS who were great and set up a DMP with them.


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