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When I was growing up I was interested by all things "Space". I remember watching the first Space Shuttle launch, building rockets from Lego, and spending every Saturday morning watching a worn copy of Star Wars - recorded on a Betamax from the TV at Christmas!
Later when I became interested in video games, Elite, and it's sequel Frontier, consumed hours of my time! The freedom to fly around the galaxy doing anything from delivering parcels to fighting pirates captivated me.
Universe Genesis (universegenesis.com) is a free-to-play browser based game that captures the feel of these classic space games. It is a multi-player game with a giant, persistent universe. There are thousands of sectors to visit, asteroids to mine and pirates to fight. You can build space stations, bigger and better spaceships, and lots of weapons and upgrades. It is advisable to join one of the many clans in the game, as this will give you access to even more possibilities.
Like many other free-to-play games, there is the option to spend a little money to get an in-game currency, allowing you to buy special upgrades. Unlike other games though, this really is not necessary! You can earn the special currency "black capsules" without spending real cash - by creating and submitting content to the game. Everything from the ships you fly, the weapons you fire, and the technologies you research, have been created by other players. It is easy to create and submit content, and I find it particularly rewarding when I see another player using a ship that I created!
The ability for players to add content to the game means that it is constantly evolving and growing. I've been playing the game for a few months now, and in that time dozens of new features have been added. The game just keeps getting bigger and better!
I would recommend this game to anyone with a little spare time to kill, it costs nothing, unless you want to spend a little, and it runs in a typical browser window on just about any computer!
As much as I'd love to win the lottery, I do think there would be some drawbacks. I'm sure "friends" I've not spoken too for years would suddenly appear as if by magic, offering to help me with my finances!
Whilst I would undoubtedly give a lot of money away, I'd be more inclined to give money to charities that help those that really need it, rather than friends. I lost my mother to Cancer, and my father to a heart-attack - so Cancer Research and the British Heart Foundation would both get a hefty donation.
That doesn't mean I'd neglect my friends completely! A lot of my friends have young kids, so what I think I'd do is block-book a load of rooms at Disneyland Paris and we'd go for a week as a big group.
As for myself. I think I'd go back to university and study something new. I wouldn't work full time, although I might get a part-time job after a while, or do some voluntary work, just to keep busy.
A big house and a flashy car are not really my style. A detached 3 bedroom place somewhere quiet, and something big and comfortable to drive will do me nicely! I'd have a couple of luxuries though - a sauna and a hot-tub!
Rather than go on some big round-the-world trip, I'd take 2-3 short holidays a year. A long weekend in New York, a trip to see the Northern Lights in Norway or Finland, sampling the beers at the Oktoberfest in Munich - these are the sort of trips I'd enjoy. I'd be able to afford several trips like this each year without blowing all my cash!
Of course none of this is likely to be possible, especially if I keep forgetting to buy a lottery ticket!
Gin and Tonic is a classic drink, enjoyed by millions for well over a hundred years. Indeed Schweppes Tonic Water was first produced back in the 1770s, a time when Gin was far more popular than it is today. It became a particularly popular drink in India during British Imperial rule, as the quinnine contest of the tonic was considered a good prevention for Malaria.
I could write about the taste and the fizzyness of Schweppes Tonic water (It is of course excellent), but instead I would like to give you a useful health tip!
In the summer I occasionally get terrible cramps in my calves when I wake during the night, especially if I have been exercising the day before. A friend of mine suggested keeping a small bottle or can of Schweppes Tonic Water by my bed, and drinking it if I get cramp. (I use the small "airline size" cans.) It does not prevent cramp, but once you have cramp if you drink it, it seems to stop the cramp from returning. Now the interesting thing is that I have tried using "Slimline" tonic, and also other brands of tonic, but they do not seem to work as well. Perhaps there is an ingredient, or combination of ingredients, in Schweppes that is not present in other types of tonic?
It is interesting that a drink originally marketed as having health benefits, and becoming popular as a result, can still be used medicinally today.
So, Schweppes Tonic Water - tastes great, traditional, has medicinal benefits.
What's not to love?
Growing up, we always used to have a bottle or two of American Ginger Ale in the house at Christmas. My mother used to like it as a mixer, and would make a long drink of it with Bacardi and plenty of ice. The problem was, I took quite a liking to it myself, and preferred it to the typical fizzy stuff bought for "the kids" to drink over the holidays. There would inevitably be raised voices when my Mum had nothing to mix with her Bacardi as I'd drunk it all instead of whatever sugar and colouring laden fizz had been bought for me. Apparently Bacardi and "Blue Raspberry" drink just didn't work!
To this day I still enjoy the taste of American Ginger Ale, and the Tesco's own brand version is perfectly good when compared to more expensive brands. I am sure some people will say that they can tell the difference between this and the up-market versions. I'm honest enough though to say that if this was served ice cold and I didn't see the bottle I wouldn't be able to tell it from Schweppes! (My wallet knows the difference though!)
I do (rarely) drink this with Bacardi like my Mum, but I am just as happy drinking it as a soft drink on a hot day. It isn't as sweet and cloying and ginger beer, and it has a "dry" flavour that I particularly like. It is a good product to keep in the fridge, as it make a nice mixer if you have guests, but is nice on its own!
I guess this could be summed up well as a "grown-up" soft drink for the summer.
If there are two things you should know about me, it is that I have a sweet tooth, and that I love Coffee! With this information in mind, you will not be surprised when I tell you that I made an instant impluse purchase of a bag of Kopiko sweets the first time I saw them.
Kopiko sweets are indivitually wrapped coffee flavoured hard candies. They are sold in large hanging bags, such as the one pictured, or smaller rolls.
What sets Kopiko sweets apart from similar products, is that they are made from real Java coffee beans. This gives the sweets a rich, smooth, coffee flavour that you don't often find in coffee flavour sweets. Java coffee beans are generally considered to make particularly good coffee and you do get a "premium quality" taste from sucking one of these sweets.
The sweets and very hard and long lasting. I can easilly make one last over five minutes by letting it slowly melt in my mouth. I do not recommend trying to crunch them unless you have particularly strong teeth! I can imagine people breaking a tooth easily on one of these!
I have taken to carrying a packet of these around with me in my pocket recently. I often feel the need for a cup of coffee during the day, and in my job it is not always possible to have one. I can pop a Kopiko candy in my mouth though and get a genuine coffee hit at any time! They last long enough that I only need to eat one to satisfy my coffee and sugar cravings, rather than munching through a packet of other sweets.
If you like coffee, keep your eye out for these.
Unlike the majority of "sports shops", both on the internet and in the high street, Newitts have not fallen into the trap of selling branded sportswear and little else. Instead they are a genuine sporting goods retailer. Newitts offer a wide variety of specialist clothing and equipment not often found elsewhere.
I first used Newitts a few years ago when I joined an athletics club and decided to have a try at throwing the hammer. Hammer throwing can be hard on the hands and a glove is worn to both protect the fingers, and also aid the correct release of the hammer. These gloves are hard to find at the best of times, as to be honest hammer throwing isn't a particularly popular sport. Add in my left-handedness to the mix, and you can imagine the difficulty I had trying to locate a glove. Having almost given up my search, I stumbled upon Newitts and they had exactly what I needed.
Since that initial order I have purchased a wide variety of products from Newitts, including stopwatches, tape measures, a shot (for shot put) and several kettlebells. The items have always been shipped quickly and have been of good quality.
Newitts may not always be the cheapest place to buy the more mainstream types of sporting goods. The strength of their service is that they stock such a wide range of items, and that they are often one of the only places where you can find exactly what you need.
I would recommend Newitts to anyone without hesitiation, especially to those who are seeking something a little unusual.
I take a red Reebok backpack with me to work most days, and it is filled with a variety of items both useful, and pointless. Time to have a root though it and see what lurks within! Let's start with the main part of the bag...
Firstly I have three English textbooks that I used today for my lessons. (I teach English to foreign students)
I also have a packet of tissues, actually half a packet as I have used a couple. No used tissues in here though.
Delving deeper into the backpack reveals half a bottle of Sprite. I think that has been in my bag for over a week, so probably not a good idea to drink it now.
Amongst assorted fluff and sweet wrappers in the bottom of that bag I have found no fewer than four pens! Two of them are black, one is red, and one is blue. The blue pen doesn't work.
Right at the bottom of the bag is a Vick's inhaler that is probably a year old, but it still seems to have a strong smell, so I'll keep it!
My bag also has a small zipped pocket on the front. In this part of the bag there is a small notepad. The pad is almost full of random notes, and lets of pages have been torn out. There are probably only 6-7 pages left.
That is everything. Nothing particularly interesting or unusual sadly, but there you go.
Not so long ago I had the misfortune to be unemployed for the first time in my life. I had a number of fixed ideas in my mind as to what actually happened when you went to the Job Centre. These ideas all turned out to be false, especially my belief that the "advisors" are there to help you find work.
Apart from an initial meeting with a really nice older lady who asked me lots of questions about my qualifications, experience, and seemed genuinely interested in helping me, my trips to the Job Centre were a depressing and pointless experience. Every time it was the same. A bored and jaded advisor would ask me if I had been looking for work. I would say yes and show copies of job applications I'd filled out since the previous visit... and that would pretty much be that. Never were any suggestions made to help me, or was any advice given. I'd check the computers for a few minutes to see if there were any interesting vacancies listed, then go home.
Apart from trying to combat benefit fraud by checking people exist I really do not see what the point in these appointments is!
In saying that, I had a much better experience with the Jobcentre Plus on the telephone. After I had been unemployed for about six or seven weeks I received a call asking if I could work in a town about 15 miles from home. I replied that I could and was given details of a job and a phone number to call. This actually led to me getting a temporary job on a three month contract. It seems like part of the system does actually work!
Whilst the visits the Job Centre itself really did nothing to help me find a job, it does seem that things do happen behind the scenes.
Perhaps the actual role of Job Centres these days it to provide jobs as advisors to those who would otherwise be claiming benefits themselves, or am I being a cynic?
I must be getting old, because I can remember when these were called "Cadbury's Caramel" and came in a yellow wrapper. They were advertised by an animated rabbit and the slogan was "take it eeeeasy". A few years ago this product got swallowed up under the "Dairy Milk" brand and became known as Dairy Milk Caramel. Whilst I can see the sense in this to an extent, as Cadbury's is known mostly for its milk chocolate, in the case of this product it is the caramel filling that is that star. The good news is that apart from the name and the wrapper, little else changed. The recipe is unaltered - why change a winning formula?
The wonderful caramel filling is the perfect accompanyment for the Dairy Milk chocolate, it is just the right consistency for me at room temperature - soft and smooth. For people that like their caramel to be a bit more chewy, a few minutes in a fridge will harden it up a little.
For me the best way to eat this is to put a piece in my mouth and let it melt - you get all the flavour of the chocolate, and then the sweetness of the caramel comes though! One of these bars, with a coffee or hot chocolate, makes for an excellent snack during a break during work.
My only real criticism of Dary Milk Caramel as a product is that it isn't big enough. A standard sized bar always leaves me wanting more! Maybe I'm just greedy?
York have been making these cheap, silver coloured, vinyl weight sets for years. There have been few, if any, design changes whilst they have been on sale.
My first ever weight set, given to me for my 16th birthday was a 50kg version of this product. Many years later I bought a similar set for my mother as she needed to strengthen some muscles after surgery. Ten years had passed between getting the two sets, but they were identical, York had not altered the product in any way. Although these sets are sold in a variety of sizes, from 25kg upwards, the basic contents remain the same with just the number and sizes of the weight disks changing.
Whilst this type of weight set is excellent for a teenager or a woman to use for light exercise at home, there are a number of disadvantages that make the set impractical for anyone looking to train seriously to improve sporting performance.
The first problem with the weight set is that the included barbell is quite short. Whilst this does allow you to workout in less space, it very much limits the usefulness of the bar, as it limits the amount of weight the bar can hold, and also the range of hand placements that are possible. As a large adult for example it would be impossible for me to use this barbell for several exercises as I would need to place my hands further apart than is possible.
The barbell itself is also not particularly strong and is not designed to hold a sufficient amount of weight to make it useful for a serious athlete. Indeed the vinyl plates supplied with the set are extremely bulky and it is impossible to fit enough weight on the bar in many cases to tax the muscles whilst performing certain movements.
Perhaps the biggest flaw with this product is the design of the "spinlock" collars that are used to hold the weights on the bar. These often come loose during the course of an exercise, especially on the dumbbells, and this is distracting at best, and a safety issue at worst.
This product is useful for a teenager as an introduction to weight traning, and in certain other circumstances. It also has the advantage of being extremely cheap. Personally I would not recommend this product however, as I feel anyone who is serious about weight training would be better served by either joining a gym, or investling in a better weight set with cast iron weight discs.
I got one of these SD cards for free when I purchased a new digital camera. I haggled with the salesman in the shop and he agreed to throw in a 1GB Sandisk SD card for free. This was well over a year ago now, and my SD card has been regularly used during that time.
As well as using the card in my camera to store photographs, this card also fits in my laptop! This has proved extremely useful as it makes transferring pictures to my laptop to upload to Facebook etc. very simple indeed. I have also used this card a couple of times to transfer documents that I have been working on at home to the computer in my office.
That the card is so small is both a great advantage, and also a potential problem. It is very easy to slip the card into my wallet or shirt pocket to transport it, making transferring documents and pictures convenient. I do worry about losing the card though, as it is small enough to misplace if you are careless. (as I am!)
Despite being regularly used, abused and transported I have never had a problem with any corrupted files, so this seems to be a good, reliable, product.
When I first got this card I thought I would only use it in my camera, and that 1GB would be big enough for my needs. Now I have an appreciation of just how useful SD cards are, I will be buying one or two more in the future, and in bigger sizes. This Sandisk card has never let me down, so I will have no hesitation in buying Sandisk in the future.
On a hot summer's day I like nothing better than a large glass of fizzy drink with a few ice cubes to keep it cold. Whilst I like the typical clear lemonade you can buy almost anywhere, in all honesty it often just tastes like sweet fizzy water rather than being particularly "lemony". For this reason I have picked up Tesco's Cloudy Lemonade a few times in recent summers. Unlike the typical lemonade you can buy this ACTUALLY TASTES OF LEMON!!
The difference in taste between this product and clear lemonade really cannot be overstated. This has so much flavour and is far more tangy than clear lemonade. Cloudy lemonade is also much more refreshing when served over ice. I do not recommend drinking this product at room temperature though, it definately needs to be cold to get the full "lip-smacking" effect!
For a more "grown up" summer drink, this works really well as a mixer with a generous shot of vodka served in a tall glass with plenty of ice!
Although I like this product, I feel a couple of words of caution are needed. If you are prone to suffering from acid indegestion then this definately is not the product for you, I once drank a two litre bottle of this in a single afternoon and found myself reaching for the Rennie's as a result. Diabetics and anyone watching their weight would be wise to choose the diet verson of this product, it still has the same refreshing flavour, but without the sugar!
I've suffered for much of my life with sinus problems due to having a deviated septum. I could have surgery for this, but I am a wuss and I hate the idea of being in hospital! As a result of my condition a simple cold often quickly leads to a sinus infection that makes breathing through my nose impossible.
Vicks inhalers have been a massive help to me down the years, it is amazing that something so small, cheap and simple can make such a huge difference to my quality of life over the winter months.
Shaped like a round-tipped bullet, the inhaler is used by inserting it (gently!) into the nose and inhaling deeply. The inhaler has a plesant smell, fresh, herbal and cooling. I find it works better if you try to exhale afterwards though your nose as well. Within minutes the vapor seems to soften and loosen any blockage in the sinuses, enabling you to clear them with a "good blow". The only downside to this product is that it is not something I feel comfortable using in public. I tend to dissapear around a corner, or into a bathroom, when I need to use the inhaler.
I've seen quite a range of prices charged for this product, depending on whether you are buying it from a supermarket, pharmacy, or even a petrol station. Major supermarkets seem to be the cheapest places to buy them. Personally they work so well for me, and are so convenient to use, that I really don't care too much about the price.
I doubt anyone really considers themselves "normal" we all have our own little quirks and habits that make us unique. What is "normal" anyway?
I am sure my girlfriend can think of a million strange things about me, but I'll limit myself to just five here.
1. I love kechup, tomato puree as part of a pizza, and even tomato in pasta sauces, but give me a fresh ripe juicy tomato to eat... Eeeew! I can't even bring myself to try them! Even worse is tinned tomato - even the smell disgusts me!
2. Since I was a young child I've been facinated by the shipping forecast on the radio. I remember once listening to cricket on the radio during a car journey and they played the shipping forecast in the tea interval. I was hooked! Dogger, Viking, South Utsire - where were these places? As an inquisitive young lad I was dying to find out!
3. I used to eat toothpaste! When I was a child I loved mint sweets, in fact I still do. I remember thinking one day when I was about five years old that toothpaste tasted like sweets. I didn't have any sweets, but there was toothpaste in the bathroom. I'd eaten half a tube of it before my Mum found me with it all over my face and hands!
4. I am scared of heights, but I love flying. I have always been terrified of heights. When I was a child I didn't even like walking up open staircases! The feeling you get from sitting in a plane as it powers into the sky is fantastic though and does not scare me at all!
5. I love watching poor quality, low budget, horror movies! The cheesier the better! The sort of movie where you can see the zipper on the monster's costume and the blood is ketchup is my idea of great entertainment!
We are all strange ways, embrace the wierdness in everyone!
I've been a member of Dooyoo for several years now, although I have had long stretches of inactivity due to real-world commitments taking up all of my time.
I've been lucky enough to cash out £20 from Dooyoo in the past, which I took in the form of Amazon vouchers. The beauty of Amazon vouches that that Amazon sells such a wide range of items that there really is something for everyone!
I put my "hard-earned" (not really!) vouchers towards gifts in the past. I bought a Gordon Ramsay cook book for my girlfriend, which resulted in several nice meals for me as a result! I also bought a set of DVDs of the classic 80s childrens show "Fraggle Rock" which led to much enjoyable nostalgia as I sat watching them with my young niece.
One mistake I made in the past which I will not repeat, is letting my Dooyoo Miles expire. One of my periods of inactivity resulted in the loss of over 500 miles - a tragedy!
I think I will try to hoard my miles for the time being, and then put them towards a large purchase from Amazon close to Christmas. If I can get enough miles to save £30-£40 off the price of a new TV for example, then that would be very nice!