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I've had a nokia C3 for just over a year now, and am pretty happy with its performance. Originally attracted by the fact it looks a bit like a Blackberry, my nokia came with a free sim PAYG sim card and a sports baseball cap. I use my phone more or less for the old fashioned basics - texting and calling. It's very straightforward to use and has the same shortcuts as most other nokias. Connection to the internet is simple, and the nokia is good for displaying facebook. There's an application you can use to easily check your PAYG balance, which I use a lot.
My only real criticism would be that the keys are a bit on the small side, and can be a bit fiddly if you're trying to type fast. The preprogrammed games are also a bit dull - you would need to download a couple if you have a long commute! You can set up the phone to access your email and to automatically alert you to facebook notifications - I personally haven't bothered with this but it seems straightforward.
The camera is 2.0 megapixels - good enough for random snaps but not much more! The screen is surprisingly tough, I've dropped my phone a couple of times with no real damage. It does get small scratches pretty easily though.
All in all it's a pretty good, reliable phone though at some point I will have to bow to peer pressure (AKA my partner) and buy one of those touchphones...
I use abebooks all the time, it's basically a book buying search engine - it searches a whole heap of booksellers and finds the book your looking for, simples! The prices and shipping costs are all displayed to make it pretty much foolproof. I have recently started picking up old books on exploration and find that abebooks is great for this - there are lots of small booksellers who I would usually never come across. Abebooks even shows results for companies like BetterWorldBooks, who sell books cheaply and donates profits to literacy projects across the world. This means you can find complete bargains!
I've spent a couple of hundred pounds with abebooks in the last few months, and have yet to have any issues with abebooks. My orders are all delivered promptly and the books are always ridiculously well packaged. Communications are good and I like being able to "save for later" when I like a book but don't fancy purchasing it straightaway.
I bought one of these cameras after years of owning compact point-and-shoots, I was after something with a few more features, and dare I say it something which looked a bit fancy as well.
I think it's a great little camera, granted it is plastic but once you have all the batteries in, it's heavy and feels sturdy. I love a number of the features but my favourite is the playing around with the colours using the "program" mode. I can set my camera to make the blues or greens more vivid, this was great fun on a recent trip to NZ. The movie setting is a bit tricky to figure out - my boyfriend couldn't figure out to film anything. The screen is really good, and flips out so you can easily take photos of yourself - fantastic if you're a lone traveller. The photo quality is really good, I find, and I've even had some great photos of Indian dancers in a low light setting. The camera is well designed and easy to hold, even when you're on the move. It takes SD cards, which are cheap and easy to find. All in all I'm very impressed with my purchase.
My only issue with my Canon is that I almost instantly lost the lens cover - it doesn't always click into place very well. I bought a replacement and got a friend to drill a small hole in it so I could attach to the strap with some string, this seems to have done the job very well!
Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of my favourite sights in town. It's nothing short of breath taking the first time you drive over it - and you certainly can't count yourself as a "Sydneysider" until you have taken on the several lanes of traffic! There's a number of ways to see the bridge - you can climb it, walk it, or go under it in a ferry. Sydney BridgeClimb is the company which can take you for a walk to the top of the bridge. I've heard good reviews of this, but it's a bit pricey for my liking, costing around $200 each. My preferred option would be to fork out the $8 to climb the south east pylon, you get very good views of the city and change to pay for a fancy dinner!
To walk across the bridge, simply take the train to Milsons Point and follow the signs. You should walk from this station back to the city in order to take advantage of the awesome views. My favourite way of getting some great bridge photos is to take one of the cute ferries from Circular Quay to Milsons Point, from there turn right and there's a tiny park with a great vantage point - hey presto, great photos of you in front of both the Opera House AND harbour bridge!
If you're heading to Sydney for a holiday, its worth looking to see when the annual picnic on the bridge is - they close the bridge to traffic and put down astroturf, then lots of people go and have a picnic! You have to enter my ballot but it looks like great fun! Oh and if you're in town on Australia Day, head to the bridge for a great spot to watch the Ferrython, where all the public ferries race from one end of the harbour to the other!
Sydney airport is 9km from the CBD (city centre), it's easily accessed by trains running on the Airport Line, which run from the city roughly every 15mins or so. The fare is about $15 each, but if there are a few of you travelling together it'll be cheaper to get a taxi. If you're a backpacker or desperate to sae money, you can actually take the train to Mascot and walk the last kilometre from there, it'll save about $12 / person - the airport ticket fares are higher than the other surrounding stations.
The airport is pretty modern and clean, there are three terminals - domestic, international, and Qantas. If you're connecting between the domestic and international terminals there's a $5 ticket fee to use the train stations. The terminals all have good facilities - plenty of cheap food stands and book shops to browse through. Whether entering or leaving Australia, I've always found the immigration and customs staff to be really helpful and friendly. When entering Australia make sure you declare anything you need to - there's a $200 fine for not declaring items ranging from food to wooden products! Also, declaring items will generally push you to the front of the queue at Quarantine, so it's actually worth trying to find something to declare!
When travelling within Australia remember that you can carry any liquids you want in your hand luggage, some states have strict quarantine laws regarding fresh fruit and veg so check these before youleave home, and you'll only need a drivers licence, or medicare card + credit card if you need to check in for a domestic flight at a check-in desk. Happy travels!
Marmite is one of those things which divides the country, much like rugby union vs rugby league, or Oasis vs Blur. I sit happily on the "love it" side of the fench, and couldn't be doing without my marmite. It is quite an unattractive sight as far as food is concerned - it's a very sticky, dark brown smooth paste which comes in a jar. It smells a bit like beer and meat, but not really. The reason for this is marmite is a by product of brewing beer. It was initially produced in 1902 in Burton upon Trent, and these days belongs to Unilever.
In my opinion, the best way to eat marmite is on a slice of toast with butter. It's quite salty so you don't need to use very much. Marmite is suitable for veggies and vegans, and is often seen as a vegetarian alternative to Bovril, which I think is a meat based paste which is quite similar.
A recommended serving of marmite is 4g, which contains 9 calories, 0.5g salt, and no fat.
I went to the rainforest a few years ago, and was told that eating marmite is a good way to keep the mossies away, due to the high content of vitamin B12. Whether this is true or not, I don;t know.
In Oz, they make a similar paste called Vegemite. I've tried this, courtesy of my Australian friend, and can confirm that it is disgusting. Even he says that Marmite is much better.
I will continue enjoying my mornings with marmite on toast accompanied with a cup of Yorkshire tea, mmm....
Cadburys is my favourite main stream brand of chocolate. Cadburys was first set up in Birmingham, England in the early 19th century. Back then, the firm only sold coffee, tea and hot chocolate. Today its headquarters is in London, and the company produce numerous types of chocolate but also own a number of soft drinks brands, including Dr Pepper.
The most famous chocolate bar from Cadburys is the dairy milk bar. This is usually sold in a bar which weighs about 50g and costs around 55p, although you can find it cheaper in some newsagents, or at Home Bargain stores where it today cost 39p.
Other popular chocolate bars include Flakes, Twirls, Mini Eggs, Cadburys Creme Eggs (sold around easter) and Crunchies.
Cadburys chocolate is pretty darn nice, it isn't too milky, which is the problem I find with Galaxy, and it smells nice and quite rich. Recently the company has switched to using Fairtrade cocoa to manufacture its bars, which just gives me another reason to eat them! Obviously they aren't too healthy for you, with a 50g bar containing around 15g of fat and 260 calories. However, if you limit yourself to eating these as a treat once in a while then it isn't too bad.
You can buy Cadburys across the world, I've personally tried it in the USA and Malaysia, and it isn't nearly as nice. Obviously they follow a different recipe in these places, so if you're moving overseas then you should stock up beforehand!!
Pepsi Max is my soft drink of choice, apart from Dandelion and Burdock that is.... I think it is much nicer than diet coke, and will usually pick Pepsi Max over it, largely because I think it tastes a lot better. The artificial sweeteners make it taste like it isn't a low-cal drink and I often can't tell the difference between this and the full fat equivalent.
When you first open a bottle of Pepsi max, you can definitely smell the typical coke aroma - which I sometimes can't with diet coke. It has a nice taste to it, and doesn't taste at all watery, again which I find is the problem with diet coke.
A 500ml bottle of pepsi max contains 1.6 calories, and no fat. Compare this to a bottle of regular pepsi, which contains just over 200 calories - this is 10% of the recommended daily calorie intake for a woman. This is a big difference considering that, especially chilled, it doesn't taste very different.
My only problem with pepsi max is that it is usually too fizzy when newly opened, this is easily remedied by leaving the bottle open for a while.
This can be brought quite cheaply, a 500ml bottle usually costs about £1.10 or so at full cost, but can be brought at shops like Home Bargain Store for only 39p a bottle. Superdrug in particular always has Pepsi on sale, today they were offering two bottles for £1.09.
Obviously, it still isn't healthy to drink too much pepsi max, and the fact it contains phenylalanine will put some people off, but if you are going to have a low-cal soft drink, then you could do far worse than cracking open a bottle of pepsi max!
I have been a customer with Orange for a couple of years now, and have usually been pretty impressed with the service I've had from them. I'm on the Dolphin 15 (promo) contract, so I pay £15 a month, get unlimited free texts and 100 free minutes a month. I also got a shiny Nokoa 6300 which I'm really happy with - it's a great little phone and I'm going to keep it when I change my contract soon.
Through Orange, I've also been able to use their "Magic Number" offer, where I could phone my boyfriend's mobile free any time I wanted, but only because he was on Orange. I could add one Magic Number every 6 months, and phone them all for free whenever I want.
I rang up today to get my PAC code for when I change providers, the phone was answered straightaway and although I got a bit of an interrogation about why I wanted to change providers, it was very simple and straightforward, and the guy on the phone was prompt and friendly.
I'm only changing providers so I can get a free iPod touch, hopefully, with my new contract. I will miss Orange, they had some good offers, the 2 for 1 cinema tickets probably being the most useful one. I think international text messages were quite pricey, and this is the only gripe I have with the company.
I would use Orange again in the future
Cliffords Tower is one of the premium tourist attractions in York. It was first built in the 11th century, although the tower which remains probably dates from the 14th century. It has a very long history, probably most infamously as the site of a mass suicide in 1190 by a group of Jewish people who were hiding from a mob. The ones who surrendered were killed.
These days, it's a far more tranquil place and is located relatively close to the centre of York. It is next to the Castle Museum, which is where Dick Turpin was imprisoned before his trial. There is also a big pay and display car park here, which is handy if you are visiting either attraction.
Cliffords Tower provides a pretty nice vantage point over the city, and is especially nice in the spring when the daffodils are in bloom. These days, only the walls of the Tower remain and it is open to the elements.
The Tower is open seven days a week and costs £3.50 for an adult, or £1.80 for a child. The site is managed by English Heritage, so you would get in free if you have membership with them. Whilst you're there, Castle Museum is worth a look, and is free for people who have York Cards.
In the summer, the hill is quite popular with drunk people who like rolling down it. I have known people who have been told off by the police for doing this, so beware!
North Carolina was probably one of my first true loves. It is located on the east coast of the United States of America, and is bordered by Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina. It was one of the original thirteen states and was named after King Charles (or Carolus, in Latin). It is the 28th largest state in the USA and contains the highest peak in the eastern US, Mt Mitchell.
There are a number of major airports in North Carolina, the main one being in Raleigh. The most fun way to travel in the state is by Greyhound as there are a number of stations, including in Asheville - gateway to the mountains.
There are two main types of environment which spring to mind when you think of North Carolina - the mountains of the west, and the coastal area of the east. It is the mountains which captured my imagination.
The Smoky Mountains are partly in western North Carolina, and contain some of the most beautiful scenery I have seen anywhere. There is plenty of wildlife, from the tiny salamanders to black bears. Other natural areas worth visiting include the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Slickrock-Kilmer wilderness, as well as Linville Gorge. Cape Hatteras on the east coast is very picturesque and also worth a visit.
People in NC are some of the friendliest you will find anywhere, they are generally right wing, religious types, but are hugely hospitable and you will often be busy fending off invitations to various events!
For a taste of southern hospitality, you could do far worse than heading to North Carolina!
I used to have a mild addiction to this magazine. It had all those real life story which a very strange part of me finds compelling, even those stories like "run over by my own lawn mower" - reading these in front of Casualty on a Saturday night = excellent.
Love it is published every Tuesday and I believe currently costs about 68p. My favourite sections are the real life stories, the agony aunt pages, and the sex problems, which I find oddly reassuring....!
However, over the last year or so I started finding that too many pages were given over to glamour products and interviews with stars. I find these a bit dull, although I'm sure there are plenty of people who this appeals to, as it's a pretty good compromise between some of the glossier magazines and the really trashy real life ones...!
Sometimes the magazine is on sale, especially in Sainsburys for some reason, and the price can go down to 30-35p.
I'll carry on buying Love It magazine, especially because I really enjoy some of the baffling lettes which are sent in to the psychic agony aunt. Definitely worth a look just for this.
This magazine is perfect for a night in with a glass of wine, or for a holiday by the beach.
I got my Nokia 6300 for nothing when I first took out a contract with Orange (£20 / month), and I think it's a great little phone. I don't want a phone which can stream youtube, or predict the future, all I want is a phone which I can use to text and ring people, and use as an alarm clock. This phone is ideal for this.
The menu is straightforward and easy to use. Most of the features are typical for Nokia, which I like because I find it easy to use.
The Nokia 6300 is a perfect size and weight, weighing in at only 91 grammes and quite skinny, so I don't feel like I'm carrying a brick around in my pocket.
The battery life isn't great if you use your phone all the time, I find that I need to charge mine every couple of days or so, using it for about 10 texts a day. I use the camera which is built into the phone and which is of a fairly decent standard - 2.0 megapixels. It's never going to be geat for a serious photographer, but is good for candid drunk shots..!
My favourite feature on this phone is the two lights either side of the screen. These flash blue if I have a missed call or a message, so I can tell at a glance whether I need to look at my phone or not.
I used some of my Dooyoo miles on an Amazon voucher recently, and brought this DVD. I've been a big fan of Long Way Down and Long Way Round and thought I'd give this DVD a try as well.
This time Charley Boorman is on his own, and trying to get from Ireland to Sydney by any means of transport which are available and suitable for the area he is in. This involves tuk tuk driving, small plane flying and even catching a boat in Indonesia. Charley crossed some truly amazing countries, including Iran and Nepal, making for some really interesting viewing.
The main common factor between this show and the Long Way... Series is the producer - Russ Malkin. Ewan McGregor puts in a few guest appearances but most of the show is about Charley.
Personally I felt that although Charley is brilliant, the tv show would have been better if it had had another big character for him to interact with. Russ Malkin comes across as a bit insipid and a bit of a fun killer - trying to keep the show to time etc.... Although I realise this is necessary, the lack of Ewan means that this desperation to keep to time shows through more than it did in the original Long Way Round programme.
The series consists of 6 episodes which last one hour each. The DVD contains all of these and some special features including interviews with crew / cast, and a photo gallery.
This programme is definitely worth a watch for Charley and also for some amazing scenery, but there is definitely something missing....
I should mention, By Any Means 2 has just started showing on BBC2 on Sunday nights, which is the story of Charley's journey from Sydney to Tokyo via the Pacific Rim, worth checking out...!
I have become something of an addict to TV hospital dramas, and while Casualty will always have a special place in my heart, I also quite enjoy watching Holby City.
I should start by explaining that both dramas are actually based at the same hospital - Holby City. This is meant to basically be in Bristol, which explains some of the regional accents you come across.... Holby City is the spin off of Casualty and began being screened in 1999. It is meant to show what life is like on other wards in the hospital, away from A&E.
The storyline focuses on the main characters on the wards, and also on the lives and problems facing the unfortunate patients who are wheeled up. Some of the main characters include Ric Griffin (surgeon), Elliot Hope (surgeon) and Jac Naylor (surgeon).
Right, as fond as I am of Holby City, I find that there is far too much focus given to the politics which exist in the hospital trust and also between the workers. This in itself doesn't enthrall me, as I prefer the Casualty approach of focusing on the patients and their stories.
I find that the setting for Holby City is too static for my liking - I like the big explosions which seem to frequently occur in the Bristol of Casualty.
Holby City is broadcast on BBC1 at 8pm every Tuesday night and lasts for an hour. You can also watch it on BBC iPlayer, which is a very handy website all round...