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During a freak bathroom accident a few weeks ago, I smashed my bottle of Chanel Allure Homme Sport causing what was once my fragrance of choice to become an annoying background scent everytime I used the toilet! Without delay, I headed to my nearest Boots, wife in hand, to find what my latest fragrance would now be...
Without any idea of what to buy, I started the frustrating process of spraying lots and lots of different men's fragrances on to the tiny pieces of card provided. What I found were lots of decent scents but nothing outstanding. On top of that, you can't help but feel that all the fragrances merge in to one very quickly and you question the stamina of your sense of smell. Yet just as I was about to give up, I squirted a bit of Hugo Boss Pure on to another of those little white cards, and things started looking up.
The first thing that came in to my mind when I inhaled the fragrance was just how fresh and different it seemed to the rest. There didn't seem to be any of that predominantly musky smell that most men's fragrances seem to rely on, this was soft, subtle and incredibly refreshing. The wife was in complete agreement that this was the one and I promptly handed over my cash.
The Eau de toilette fragrance comes in three sizes:
30ml - £25
50ml - £35
75ml - £45
The bottle is a rectangular shape with chunky lid, one side being transparent and the other being a mirror-effect finish. The packaging is a subtle grey-blue box with the delightful fragrance supported inside.
In all fairness, the only criticism I have of this fragrance is that it perhaps doesn't last as long as you would like. The manufacturer's suggest that the product is "utterly energizing and bursting with aquatic freshness, this scent is the perfect complement for the style-conscious, confidently ambitious and successful man." Personally, I think its probably one of the best fragrances out there at the moment that really stands out from the crowd.
Urban Pie is situated in the Bullring Shopping Centre in Birmingham City Centre. It is home to a great alternative food choice to the many baguette, sandwich and pizza restaurants in the area.
As the name suggests, Urban Pie offers a wide variety of "gourmet pies" for £3.95. They include:
Steak & Kidney
Steak & Stilton
Minced Beef & New Potatoes
Thai Green Chicken
Chicken & Gammon
Chicken & Asparagus
Chicken & Mushroom
Sunday Dinner Pie
Lamb & Rosemary
Lamb, Potato & Fresh Mint
Wild Mushroom & Asparagus
Mature Cheddar & Red Onion
A number of "Junior Pies" are also available for £2.95 including:
Minced Beef & New Potatoes
Chicken & Ham
An absolute must with any pie is the Handmade Mash (£1.75) and lashings of gravy (20p). You can also have a side of Garden or Mushy Peas, Baked Beans or Sweetcorn (all 95p) and Mash Toppings such as cheddar cheese or crispy onions (50p).
Sweet Pies are also available for those less inclined to the savoury such as Apple, Cinnamon or Cherry Pie (£2.65). The store also hosts a variety of cold and hot drinks both alcoholic and soft.
Urban Pie provides a changing menu of "seasonal pies" in order to try and tempt you away from your favourite and pies can be taken home either cooked or uncooked if you ask.
Opening Hours are:
Monday - Saturday: 10.00am - 8.00pm Sunday: 10.00am - 6.00pm
I find the best time to go is after 5pm where all pies are half price. Obviously, the selection is a little more limited following the lunchtime rush,but there are still some bargain pies to be found!
My only real issue with Urban Pie is that the seating area inside is tiny and you have to be quite at ease with other people invading your personal space at busy times. There is further seating outside, which soon fills up on sunny days.
This place does get really busy which is perhaps a sign of just how good the food is here. There really is something for everyone and the pies are made with the finest ingredients. Each pie comes in a special card box which opens up innovatively in to a little plate and is fully recyclable.
I'm a big fan of Urban Pie and its in a great location if you like people watching whilst enjoying some delicious food. Just make sure you get there early to secure a good seat!
I was really struggling to think of a Dooyoo review to write until I saw this subject area! As I've been working for the police for the past 16 years both as a civilian initially and now an actual officer, I thought I'd share my experiences.
Whatever your background everyone seems to have an opinion of the police whether thats a "they do a great job but its not for me" attitude or the "as opposed to lecturing me for speeding why not catch some real criminals" one! Some choose to discover what being a police officer is like for themselves and I can really recommend it.
The job itself is a trying one with plenty of highs and lows. My initial experience with the police was as a 16 year old working in a department called the Admin Support Unit (ASU). This department housed the hundreds of files that were ongoing through the court system and gave me an insight as to just how much paperwork was required in the job. Many of the office based jobs had begun to be "civilianised" at the time in order to free up police officers to be out on the streets and I could see, as a civilian, just how time consuming and draining dealing with all that paperwork could be. But this was and still is the price of our Criminal Justice system and it is the burden of the prosecution to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that a suspect is guilty of a crime. As such, for all the governement's ongoing promises of trying to "beat bureaucracy" I feel that lots of paperwork will always be an integral part of the job.
Seven years later and a colleague of mine said he was applying to join up as a police officer and leave the civilian ranks behind. I'd never really fancied it myself but decided to take the plunge as a support to my mate, and to see if I could get through the many hurdles facing applicants. I'd be lying if I didn't mention that at the time I would also be earning about £7k a year more as an officer as opposed to a civilian!
The beauty of joining the police is that no formal qualifications are necessary so you get a real mix of university educated applicants next to those that have "studied at the university of life!" The real key to joining is how you are as a person and how you react to certain situations. Also, if you struggle to communicate effectively, there is no real point in even attempting to join. As long as you are 18 or over, you are welcome to apply with no upper age barrier.
I was in an ideal position as a civilian to join up as over the years I had befriended a number of police officers that had come through the doors of the ASU. The initial process was the application form which was a mix of a number of security questions plus a fairly detailed section about what makes you as an individual tick, what life experience you have, and of course, why you want to be a police officer. The application came in the form of two booklets which seemed to take an age to complete as they had to be handwritten so that the assessors could check that your writing was legible!
Different Forces mix up the next stage of the application but I had an assessment which tested my ability to work in a group, problem solving, basic numeracy and writing tests as well as logic and observation tests. My observation skills have always been awful, but fortunately the scores were taken over all the subject areas and I got through.
The next test for me was the physical and again, the nature of these vary across the Forces. Mine involved 3 laps around a mini assault course, designed to mimic some of the aspects that you may face as a police officer. It involved sprinting, crawling, jumping over obstacles, pulling a body (which in my nearly 9 years as an officer I have never had to do!!!) and a push-pull machine to test your strength. Although I didn't find the course overly taxing, a decent level of fitness is required and if you push yourself too hard you make mistakes which incur time penalties.
Following the physical was the medical for me which is basically a general health test. Forces again vary regarding what their standards are. If like me, you had a bit of childhood asthma, you may seek to join one of the bigger metropolitan Forces as their standards for lung capacity and things like eyesight fluctuate massively from the rural Forces that have far fewer vacancies and can afford to be more choosey.
If you pass all of those, then there is just the little matter of an interview to get through before you pick up your uniform. The interview is usually conducted by a Superintendent or above with an Inspector and Sergeant. If you are thinking about joining, I would strongly recommend popping into your local police station and asking for some advice about the process. Most of the Forces websites also now contain a great host of useful information to read up on.
Assuming you pass the interview you go into training after your welcoming ceremony. Your first two years as a police officer are classed as your "probation" with much of the initial 3-6 months being classroom based as you start to go through the law books to make sure that you don't arrest someone for the wrong thing when you are unveiled on the streets! This really pushed people when I went through it as not everyone is as academically minded as others. Although you don't need to be a brain surgeon to get through this, some people did really struggle and a few of my colleagues dropped out which was sad considering all they had been through to get to this stage in the first place.
If you can battle through the law input, along with all the policy and procedure work you will be allocated a "parade station" and a tutor officer. The tutor will be an experienced officer that basically watches your every move for the first 10 week and assesses your development. Any problems should be ironed out with a little discussion and practice although for some, this is the stage that they get to when they realise the job is not for them.
When you get through your tutor phase there is just the little matter of completing that initial two years before you are confirmed in rank. This period is perhaps the most nerve racking for officers as the comfort blanket is pulled away more and more and you are expected to deal with issues and take the lead. It is perhaps the steepest learning curve part of the job but getting through it is so rewarding.
Once you're confirmed in rank the world is your oyster. You can now choose to carry on working on a response team (24/7 shifts) or a Neighbourhood Team (slightly more sociable hours focussing on specific communities) or widen out to the likes of CID, Firearms, Traffic or any other of the many departments that exist. If you haven't had your fill of exams and law, you can also apply for promotion and take another beast of an exam to start that process.
For me, the beauty of being a police officer is the wide variety of work and the worn out phrase that "no two days are the same." It really opened my eyes up to what goes on in the world and that there are some truly evil people out there along with some truly wonderful ones. It can sometimes get difficult to switch off from work, particularly when you get ladened with some of the ridiculous amounts of paperwork that the job heaps upon you. Many a night I have struggled to sleep thinking about what I need to get done the next day.
There is obviously the side to policing that would shock and disturb a number of people. I have attended some truly horrible road traffic accidents which perhaps makes me realise why so many of my colleagues are so vociferous in enforcing seat belt laws, particularly when children are involved. Also the first murder scene I ever attended is something that I can vividly recall to this day.
Counselling is available as part of the job, and its perhaps not surprising considering the kinds of situations you can be exposed to. I'm glad to say that mandatory referrals are now common place for certain incidents meaning that all the bravado that some officers try and show afterwards can still be probed to make sure there are no deeper issues.
The last 9 years that I've been a police officer have been a real rollercoaster. I've met some amazing friends that I'd like to think I will be close to forever and have lost, in the line of duty, some close friends that I have been proud to have called more than just "colleagues."
The Police Service isn't for everyone and some people decide at one stage or another that its not for them. It can be depressing with the incredible amount of paperwork that only seems to have increased since the age of "blame culture" and popularity of lawsuits against people. It always upsets me when a suspect is handed a paultry sentence for a serious offence he's committed when I know I've worked hard for the past 3 months to get him to court. That being said, there is perhaps no greater feeling than when a serious offender is handed a good term of imprisonment and you can tell the poor victims that their ordeal is perhaps now over.
Working shifts can also be a trial if you have never worked them before. Added to the fact that you are not always guaranteed to finish on time, many a romantic dinner date has been ruined thanks to the perils of the job!
Policing certainly isn't for everyone, but for me, I love it. My opinion is that the positives far outweigh the negatives and the thought of being able to make a real difference in peoples lives day in day out is something that few other jobs can offer. I'm really glad I joined and the fact that I can retire on a full pension at 48 helps too!!!
1)How old are you?
2) Colour of my eyes?
3) How tall are you?
4) Hair colour?
Light auburn/strawberry blond...well, ginger really!
5) Any brothers or sisters?
One evil sister - Hi Louise!
6) Do you prefer cats or dogs?
100% cats. I've got two called Jack and Meg and they are great. Very affectionate and they don't play in the road!
7)What job do you do?
I work for the police but please don't hate me for that!
8) Do you like your job?
Its a great job and I get to meet lots of weird and wonderful people
9) Favourite dessert?
Anything fruity really. Eton Mess is delicious
10) Food that I loathe?
Broccoli, Sprouts and Cauliflower - all the things my mum used to force down my throat as a kid!
11) Sweet or Savoury?
12) The last 2 films I have watched
Errrrm, Road to Perdition and Full Metal Jacket
13) Song I can't get out of my head?
"I just can't get you out of my head" - the irony!
14) Favourite Programme?
Pineapple Dance Studios by a country mile - without doubt the greatest TV programme of all time!
15) Next Holiday
Off to Newquay for a stag do where I've already been warned that one of the nights is going to have a "lycra theme" - oh dear!
16) Favourite Country?
Other than England?!? New Zealand is fantastic
17) Favourite beach holiday?
Australia - there are some awesome beaches and coastilnes
18) Favourite hobby?
It was football before I broke my leg! Watching football is probably more accurate now!
19) The last thing that made me laugh?
My cat just trying to jump on my lap and completely misjudging the height - he fell off the chair!
Over the years I've always suffered with a bit of redness to the face. My skin has always been sensitive and in the past I've suffered with the odd bit of eczema too. Its always cleared up over time through use of creams such as eumovate on my body, but finding a reliable facial skin product has always proved a problem for me, until now.
I recently read a magazine review about Dr Nick Lowe Redness Relief Correcting Cream and it sounded too good to be true. I'd previously been using an anti-redness cream by Avene, which was good but never seemed to "cure" the problem and funnily enough was covered in the same review. Dr Nick's cream (and I can't help but think of the charlatan Simpson's doctor everytime I write his name!) seemed worth a try and so I headed down to Boots to pick some up.
The cream is currently on offer and costs £10.95 (usually £14.95). It comes in a white 50ml pump action tube with a flimsy plastic lid which always seems to fall off! It claims to help"calm and comfort red skin" and "minimise red skin tones."
The cream itself is a lightly tinted yellow/brown colour as opposed to the usual green colouring that most anti redness creams tend to be. It is of a consistent creamy texture - neither being too thick nor runny. It has a distinctive menthol scent in order to give the produce a soothing and cooling sensation when applied to the skin.
The cream contains Arnica, Chamomille and Allantoin which are all known for their calming and soothing action, Ferulic Acid to offer ultimate protection against UV damage and Vitamins A, C and E. The cream comes fully Dermatologically tested with an allergen free fragrance.
Dr Nick himself, far from being a Simpson's character, is a respected Dermatologist and having used this cream, I can see how he has built his reputation. This product is fantastic and works really well. The menthol scent, although initially a little offputting, really did soothe my skin and almost had an anti itch effect leaving irritated areas instantly calmed. I also clearly noticed over a few days that my face was distinctly less red and irritated than it had previously been.
I can't recommend this product enough as it has really done the trick for me. At around £10 its not the cheapest cream out there, but its certainly not the most expensive either. The smell isn't the greatest but I don't think its really noticeable and if only they could re-design that troublesome lid, I'd say this product was perfect!
For me, this product earns a well deserved 5 stars. If I could give it more, I would!
The Whittington Arms is a pub/restaurant on the outskirts of Lichfield, Staffordshire. It is situated on the A51 which runs between Tamworth and Lichfield and is positioned not far from Whittington Army Barracks.
The building itself dates from the early 20th century and inside it portrays a rustic yet contemprorary feel. If you think of plenty of wooden beams fused with glass partition screens then you start to get a feel of what this place looks like.
The Whittington Arms functions both as a traditional pub and as a restaurant. It has one long main bar at the far end with a dining section to the left of the main entrance and a comfy-seated bar area to the right.
The bar offers a wide variety of draught beers from well known Peroni, Guinness and Strongbow through to locally produced Guest Ales. The pub also has an excellent wine list to choose from whether you decide to dine or not.
The Whittington is perhaps best known as a restaurant as it is a little too out of the way to function solely as a drinkers pub. The menu consists of:
STARTERS - From Deep-fried breaded Somerset brie with an orange and redcurrant dressing to Chicken terrine & duck rillette served with toasted brioche, onion marmalade and fresh horseradish. Expect to pay between £4.50-£7.
SHARING PLATES - As an alternative to a starter the sharing plates offer such delights as the highly recommended Sautéed king prawns, calamari,
deep-fried white bait and taramasalata, served with a chilli dip & crispy tortillas through to French and Mediterranean style options. Expect to pay between £10-£13.
SEASONAL DISHES - From Grilled guinea-fowl breast stuffed with chorizo & tomatoes and wrapped in bacon, on crushed baby potatoes with seasonal vegetables and a Madeira sauce through to Grilled salmon steak served on a classic nicoise salad. There really is somehting for everyone in this section. Expect to pay between £9-£17.
PUB CLASSICS - From light bites such as Chef 's baked fishcakes served with lemon crème fraîche and a side salad right through to traditional Chargrilled ribeye steak with baked beef-steak tomato, grated fresh horseradish, a peppercorn sauce and home-cut chunky chips. Expect to pay between £8-£15.
The menu has the usual side order options and a good dessert selection. A "Specials" board is also available offering the very latest "trial" dishes or seasonal produce. A "Sunday Roast" option is also available at the weekends.
The Whittington Arms does get busy and it is wise to book in advance to save waiting on 01543 432340.
If I was to criticise this place I would say that I think it sometimes tries a little too hard. The Whittington desperately seems to want to be classed as a "Gastro Pub" but it never quite convinces me that it is there. I think the management have also tried to cram as many paying customers as they can into the dining area which means that you can sometimes feel like you are part of someone else's conversation as the next table is so close to yours!
Overall, I enjoy going to the Whittington Arms and they do provide good quality food at decent prices. I always seem to opt for something from the Specials board, which perhaps says a lot about the menu, and as my wife is a vegetarian, the menu choices for her are limited.
The Whittington Arms isn't a bad little country pub, but its not the best. If I could, I'd give it 3.5 stars.
Having been a convert to Green Tea for some years now, I started drinking White Tea over the past 12 months. Why? Well a University report last year showed that it had high anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-collagenase, and anti-elastase properties which could potentially reduce the risks of developing rheumatoid arthritis, some cancers, heart disease & slow the enzymatic break down of elastin and collagen (ie wrinkles or sagging) which accompany aging.
As white tea is made out of young leaves and buds, it has more of amino acid theanine (which has relaxing and mood enhancing properties) than green and black teas which are made from older leaves. Another University study showed that White Tea has more anti-viral and anti-bacterial qualities than Green Tea.
Twinings White Tea is made from the unopened bud and young leave of the Camellia Sinensis from the Fujian province of China. Green, Black and Oolong also come from the same plant but differ in that Black and Oolong are oxidised before curing. Accordingly, White and Green Teas are less processed.
Now I know what you're thinking - all that science and health talk is all well and good, but how does it taste?!?
White Tea generally has a mild and light, delicate taste. Similar to Green, it is best enjoyed without milk and it is advised not to use boiling water as it can burn the leaves. I tend to boil the kettle and just leave it to stand for 30 seconds. The bag should be left to infuse for around a minute beofre removing it for the recommended best taste. Some of my friends do like to leave the bag in for more flavour.
I find this a really light and refreshing tea and drink it more than "normal" tea nowadays. 20 bags cost in general around £1.79 from Tesco and there is also a White Tea and Pomegranate option for those of you who like a fruity twist.
The only real criticism I have of this product s that each of the bags is individually wrapped which seems a bit of a waste and not environmentally friendly. Clipper also offer a similar White Tea product at a slightly lower price.
Despite its slightly rude sounding name, The Cock Inn is a fantastic restaurant and bar on the outskirts of Birmingham in the village of Wishaw. The restaurant is not far from the Belfry Golf Course and isn't a bad place to spot the odd minor locally based celebrity or footballer!
The building is covered in rustic charm with exposed beams on the inside and log burning fires offering a warming welcome over the winter months. The Cock Inn is also an excellent place to visit in the summer months with a good amount of outdoor seating for those who prefer alfresco dining or just a drink in the sun. The view outside isn't fantastic as it just looks out on to the road, although it is a country lane so its not too bad or you can just admire the fancy cars pulling on to the car park!
The restaurant is split in two with a bar and comfy seating area on the left as you enter and the restaurant on your right. I find the bar a little overpriced personally and because the pub is in the middle of the countryside, its not really worthwhile going to for a drink only unless you've got a willing nominated driver!
The place really comes into its own for the food, which again, isn't cheap, but is delicious. The Cock Inn changes its menu seasonally but they tend to provide fancy versions of traditional meals such as steak & chips or pizzas alongside Chef's Specials which tend to have a mildly Mediterranean twist.
The menu is split into the following categories:
SHARING PLATES - Offering such dishes as Antipasti of cured meats, dolcelatte, roasted vegetables, rocket, parmesan, stuffed peppers, curly green chillies and warm stone baked flatbread or Greek mezze of taramasalata, red pepper hummus, tzatziki, feta and flatbreads.
STARTERS - Offering extremes from Soup of the Day to Seared pigeon breast, smoked bacon, black pudding, frisée and raspberry vinaigrette. It also includes everything in between!
LEAVES - Offering such delights as Smoked trout, prawn, pancetta, horseradish dressing, watercress, spinach and baby potatoes or my personal favourite, Crispy duck, mouli, carrots, spring onions and plum sauce which is outstanding!
PIZZAS - Again, from the extremes of a basic Margherita to Siciliana - Serrano ham, roast artichoke, olives and mozzarella.
PASTA - Offering pork, veal, with oregano meatballs to Bucatini, tiger prawns, crab, chilli, tomato and parsley.
FISH - Offering salmon, haddock, tuna, lemon sole, cod, mussels and Chef's Fish of the Day.
ENTREES - From steaks and burgers to Ostrich and Calves Liver (Yuk!)
SIDES - As the name suggests, a variety of side orders.
There is a separate dessert menu offering some scrumptious treats and an excellent wine menu to support your choices.
The staff here are excellent and need to be as the place gets really busy on the evenings and weekend. It is wise to book a table well in advance to avoid disappointment and the private window seats are well worth asking for when you book.
A meal for two tends to cost us around the £60 mark but it can be anything depending on how much you drink and eat. At the best, I managed to get the bill for two of us to £120 and I promised never to go there again after that as I can't afford it but maybe those Dooyoo cheques can get me back there!
The Cock Inn really is an excellent restaurant with beautiful and original dishes on offer. Okay, even though its in a countryside village location, its not the most picturesque place I've ever been, but as an occasional treat when you're feeling flush, its a great venue. Give them a call on 0121 313 3960 and book yourself a table...you know you want too!
Selfridges is probably the most iconic part of the newly renovated Bull Ring Shopping Centre in Birmingham, perhaps second only to the bronze bull itself. The unique and futuristic curved shape of the outside of the store, which is covered in 16000 aluminium discs, makes it a real focal point for visitors.
It is rumoured that it cost £40 million to make the store what it is today and it truly is an excellent shopping experience throughout. The whole store has a very contemporary, modern feel to it on each level. Selfridges is set over a number of levels with criss-crossing escalators throughout the centre and lifts on the outside.
The ground floor consists of the food court area which gets extremely busy! It perhaps should not be a surprise as the food here is fantastic and there is always something to suit every taste. Yo Sushi has always been very popular, and it is perhaps with this in mind that another Japanese style noodle bar has recently joined it, in place of the old smoothie bar. There is a Pret A Manger in the centre of the food court area offering various snacks, Tiffin Bites which offers a selection of world foods and a Krispy Creme for those with a sweet tooth.
Throughout the food court area there are also numerous stalls offering delicious desserts, cheeses, olives and much more. This really is THE place to come for great food in Birmingham and I don't think I've been able to get past the dessert counter yet without buying one!
There is a huge sweets and chocolate section which covers everything from your High St favourites right down to more exotic foreign brands with a particular penchant for American goods. There is an impressive multi-coloured Jellybean built bull on the ground floor mirroring the bronze one outside.
The ground floor also offers cards, household goods and gadgets amongst other things.
The first floor houses what I call the "affordable clothing" sections. It is an open plan design, similar to the ground floor, and houses brands such as Topman, Fred Perry, G star, Allsaints, Superdry and many many more. There are a whole host of trinkets and other bits and bobs to buy around here too, including a decent mix of trainers.
This floor also houses a tattoo and piercing salon and an electrics section, home to all things TV.
As you go up the floors, so do the prices, hence the fact that I tend not to venture too far above the second! This is home to fragrances, watches, beauty products and the like, before you continue on up to the "non-affordable clothing" sections and finally a top floor champagne bar for those who wish to celebrate their purchases in real style!
Overall I would say that Selfridges in Birmingham is a good shop with something in there for everyone. It does get very busy, particularly at the weekend, and it is expensive compared to other stores.
If you want something a little special to wow guests at an evening get together, this is the place to come, just make sure you pack your wallet!
It seems strange to me that over time the popularity of "lad's mags" such as FHM, Loaded and Maxim seems to have decreased, whilst "fitness" magazines such as Mens Health and Mens Fitness have increased. Perhaps its a sign of the times, or maybe more people are genuinely trying to get fitter.
Men's Health costs a gut wrenching £3.99 per issue now so at least your wallet will be getting slimmer after that purchase! But what do you get for your money?
As the name suggests, there are a number of articles in the magazine covering various health and fitness issues. There is always a bloke on the front with a ridiculously toned six-pack stomach, generally accompanied by a slogan such as "Fat to flat in 5 easy steps." Whether people genuinely believe that such a perfect washboard look can be achieved quite so easily is another thing, but the magazine does give useful exercise tips.
There are always dietary articles in here too, generally focusing on weight loss, muscle build and the like, with recipes included. There always seems to be an article on the latest "superfood" to be discovered and obviously lots of encouragement to eat it in copious amounts!
Also included in the magazine are articles on the latest fitness gear both in terms of clothing and equipment, along with all the usual blokey gadget type of spreads. There is usually at least one article offering to give you the inside track to "mind blowing sex" or how to understand the complexities of the fairer sex.
The most annoying thing about this magazine is the ridiculous amount of adverts throughout it. If I'm paying nearly £4 for a magazine, I expect it to offer me things to read of interest not page upon page of fragrance, clothing and watch advertisements.
Overall Men's Health isn't a bad magazine and does offer some useful fitness advice and exercise tips. It could be better though by lowering the hefty price tag and losing some of the thousands of adverts. I tend not to buy this magazine every month but find it useful as a catalyst for when my gym attendance drops off a little!
Jagermeister is an alcoholic drink brewed in Germany and is 35% volume. The drink is made from a mixture of herbs and spices and tastes a little bit like the old herbal cough sweets your nan always had!
My ill fated dalliance with Jagermeister started about a year ago when I was enjoying a night out with some friends. As we discussed what to drink next, one of them helpfully suggested a "Jagerbomb." As I had no idea what this was, I enthusiastically agreed and back he came with a number of glasses of Red Bull with shot glasses of Jagermeister floating inside them. We all looked at him quizically and questioned him as to why the bar staff hadn't just poured the shot into the Red Bull. He assured us that "that's how you drink them" and we each necked our drinks. We all agreed that they were pretty good, and as the rest of the evening paled into severe memory loss, we all remarked the next day that the Jagerbombs were to blame!
I've since seen other Jagerbomb-style drinks offered in the Wetherspoons chain as "Jagermonsters" - its basically the same but using a different energy drink and generally about half the price it is in other pubs!
My wife recently came back from a skiing holiday in Austria which I missed because I had broken my leg beforehand (I thought I'd save myself the trouble of doing it there!) and dutifully brought me back a huge bottle of Jagermeister. I thought that it would only be fair to try it neat, which is apparently what they were all doing over there. Its not bad, but for me, the Red Bull takes its slightly strange taste to a more acceptable level and I'll stick to my Jagerbombs.
The bottle encourages you to drink it the German way of either straight from the freezer or "on the rocks" and it does seem to taste better chilled.
Other suggestions include Jagermeister and Tonic or Jagermeister and Lime, but in all honesty, I haven't tried these...yet!
Overall, Jagermeister is an interesting drink and a good alternative to some of the more popular spirits. If you or your friends haven't tried it before, ask for a Jagerbomb in your local pub before you buy a litre of the stuff!
During a recent visit to Bangkok, we decided to live it up and stay at the Millenium Hilton. A double room was quite reasonably priced at around £80 and we paid a small further charge to include breakfast, snacks, lunch and free evening drinks which I certainly got my moneys worth out of!
The hotel is very grandiose and overlooks the Chao Praya River. There is a free shuttle boat service for guests allowing access to the main river boat station and the skytrain. I founf the staff on the shuttle boat particularly friendly (even if their English was a little off!) and they were more than happy to take photographs and the like.
The hotel itself has a fully equipped gym, spa with twelve treatment rooms, infinity pool overlooking the river and even its own white sand beach! If I had to moan, I would say that the pool was freezing even on hot sunny days!
There are a number of bars and restaurants in the hotel. The 360 bar is the distinctive round building on top of the hotel, and as the name suggests, boasts some stunning views across the city. There is usually some sort of entertainment on here in the evenings, generally of a jazz or easy listening persuasion.
Prime restaurant is mainly a steak based restaurant although they also offer a good line in seafood dishes. Flow restaurant is near to the river and offers a mix of dining options. Yuan restaurant offers traditional Oriental dishes and again, has a nice river view. The Lantern is a kind of light lunch and coffee shop whereas Maya is a restaurant offering authentic Thai cuisine. There is a small bar at The Beach where you can sup your drinks at the side of the infinity pool.
The spa was excellent, if a little pricey, and there was a wide array of treatments you could enjoy. We opted for a mud wrap and relaxing massage to chill us out before the long flight home. I have never been so relaxed at an airport in all my life after that!
Our room was a good size and equipped with a beautiful bathroom. The usual mini bar, safe, TV and freebies were all there and staff were really helpful and spoke good English. We had an excellent view over the river and across the city and it was lovely watching the boats lit up at night.
I really enjoyed staying at the Millenium Hilton and it was a good base to explore the rest of the city as it was close to all the main attractions. It is expensive compared to some of the other hotels in the area but it is far cheaper than what you would expect to pay back home. The 360 bar was a highlight for me and I enjoyed the glass elevator you can travel back down in which runs on the outside of the building offering fantastic views across the city.
Muller's "Vitality" brand offers a range of products, two of which I use - the yoghurt drinks and the yoghurts themselves. The yoghurts are available in a variety of flavours such as strawberry, raspberry and cherry amongst others.
The real selling points of these products is that they contain a prebiotic fibre and probiotic. What?!? Well the theory is that inside our stomachs are a mix of good and bad bacteria and when there is an imbalance, you start to feel it through bloatedness, discomfort etc.
Both prebiotic fibre and probiotics have been scientifically proven to assist the good bacteria in our digestive system. The prebiotic stimulates the growth of good bacteria whilst the probiotic (Bifidobacterium - to those of you who didn't know!) works in conjunction and helps maintain the natural balance.
Now that the biology lesson is finished, do they actually taste any good?!? Personally, I love them and I think Muller have got the balance bang on with the yoghurts not being too creamy nor too thin. The flavour is fruity and refrreshing without being overly sugary as some yoghurts can.
The yoghurts are generally purchased in packs of four for around £1.25, although there are usually supermarket discounts available on these and the drinks. The pots are 125g in size and are easy to fit in lunchboxes.
A word of warning is that the sugar content is a little high (13.6g per 100g) although each pot contains 50% of your RDA for prebiotic fibre.
I can't recommend these things enough although I'd be lying if I said I never get a bloated stomach any more. Perhaps the last word should go to friend of the Gurkhas and new Muller spokesperson Joanna Lumley - "I benefit from the probiotic yogurt with the prebiotic difference." Amen to that sister!
Surfers Paradise is a funny old place. I first visited there a few years back when I drove from Cairns to Sydney down the east coast of Australia in a campervan. As a wannabe surfer myself, I was really looking forward to visiting here and catching a few waves but in the end, I was disappointed at how run down and tatty the whole place was. It reminded me of a cross between the worst bits of both Vegas and Blackpool combined!
It was with some surprise that I visited here again at the end of last year when visiting family on the Gold Coast. The area was preparing itself for the annual "schoolies" event - where around 50,000 graduated school kids takeover the area, all be it, under very close supervision! I could see that the area had undergone some significant regeneration and had clearly had a fair amount of money pumped in to it.
Surfers Paradise or just "Surfers" as its locally known, has a huge beach which is great to catch waves lapping against it. Hundreds of surfers and bodyboarders flock here every day to catch the waves, although the nearby Burleigh and Snapper Rock areas are both better and quieter.
The town is packed with high rise hotel chains and has an almost american feel to it as you drive through. The contrast between the line of skyscrapers where they meet the beach and sea is an image that adorns many a Surfers postcard and it is an impressive sight.
Although it has undergone some regeneration, the town itself does feel a little worn in places. Don't get me wrong, areas like the Cavill Mall and Avenue areas host some of the best shops, bars and restaurants in the area, but there is equally a large number of dated casinos and bars which really drag Surfers back to the 70's and 80's when it was THE place to be in Australia.
Historically, the innovative local businessman Bernie Elsey introduced the Surfers Paradise "Meter Maids" back in 1965. These were attractive girls dressed in gold bikinis who would leave one of Elsey's business cards under the wiper of a car as opposed to a parking ticket. The girls became popular figures around the town and have since been reintroduced, all be it as charity collectors.
Areas likely the newly developed West Quay offer quality drinking and dining experiences at the riverside and perhaps show best the "new" Surfers image that the local government are trying to portray. Although it does have some run down areas, a visit to Surfers is still rewarding and a photograph under the iconic beach sign is a must for any tourist.
I have been using tesco.com on and off for the past few years but have recently started using it regularly again. I stopped using it because clearly the Asda's and Morrisons of this world offer cheaper shopping and I have two supermarkets local to me. It was only when I broke my leg in February that tesco.com became a useful service again and I have continued with it since.
If you haven't shopped with Tesco online before, it really is quite straightforward. Once you've registered with the website you can dive straight in, by firstly selecting your "delivery slot" which is a two hour period. Depending on what day of the week and time you select the price varies between £3.50-£6.
From there you can crack on with your shopping. There is a free text search box where you can type in as much or as little as you like. For instance if you type in "tomato" the website will bring up fresh tomatoes, tinned, puree etc so sometimes it is more worthwhile if you know exactly what you want, to type in say "Heinz Tomato Soup" and that product will come up with a price and picture along with any offers. You can generally click on the image to bring up the ingredients and nutritional information. You then simply click on how many tins you want, and the product leaps across on to your grocery list.
Once you've completed your shopping list you can then click on "checkout" where you will be redirected to the payment screen. Remember that this is only a ball park figure and will not take into account specific discounts and offers, so generally you will pay less. There is an option on this screen to use any e-vouchers that Tesco seem to regularly send when you start (or stop) shopping using this service.
It is at the checkout stage that you can input your clubcard details if you have one and the system will store your details for the next time you shop to save you having to input it time and time again. You can also request whether you wish your shopping to be delivered with ot without carrier bags (without equals more clubcard points and saves the planet!) Its then simply a case of inputting your payment method and hey presto, your shop is complete and you will receive an e-mail confirming your order and delivery time.
Come delivery day a little Tesco lorry will pull up outside your house and the groceries brought to your door step (perfect for those of you with broken bones!) At this stage, the delivery driver will inform you if there are any substitutes to your shopping list which can generally be quite amusing. Tesco SHOULD try and offer you a similar product so say if you ordered pink grapefruits and they didn't have any in stock, they may offer you red grapefruit as an alternative. However, this doesn't always happen and random substitutes get offered that have nothing to do with the original! It is easy to just refuse the substitute if it is not of use and you will not be charged for it.
Once you have signed the driver's electronic handheld computer, you are all done and you will receive a print off of the actual shopping you have just received and the final price including savings and discounts.
The next time you go in to tesco.com you will find that it has remembered your previous shopping list and you can use it if you need to buy similar things again. Personally, my shopping changes each time, so I tend to just use the free text search option.
As I mentioned before, tesco.com has been a great help to me when I physically couldn't get to the supermarket and I have stuck with it since. I appreciate that it is more expensive than some of its competitors and perhaps I should look at some of thier websites before giving tesco.com too glowing a review. They have always turned up within the delivery slot and the drivers have always been friendly and helpful in my experience.
If your head is too easily turned when you visit the supermarket and you buy things you don't really need, then maybe its time you switched to tesco.com.