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daylelisahall

daylelisahall
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Member since: 26.12.2006

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      16.05.2010 22:03
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      A must try product for me!

      I usually buy Tesco salmon fishcakes as I am quite partial to salmon. However, when recently browsing the shelves of Tesco, I noticed that they had a special offer on their fishcakes so opted for the Smoked Haddock fishcakes instead.

      The Fishcake
      Tesco's Haddock Fishcakes are made from flaked haddock fillets and potatoes and have been seasoned and coated in crispy breadcrumbs according to the product description. Each fishcake is about 4 inches (at the widest point) and nearly an inch deep so they are a fair size and were certainly larger than I expected them to be.

      Cost
      Tesco's Haddock Fishcakes come in a 180g pack which contains 2 fishcakes. Each packet costs £1.14 but they are currently on a long-term price offer so you can buy 2 packs for £2.00 which I think is pretty reasonable.

      Cooking
      These fishcakes can be cooked in several different ways - shallow fried, grilled or cooked in the oven. I always cook them in the oven. The back of the packet suggests cooking them at 220 °C / 425 °F / Gas Mark 7 for 15-18 minutes. I have found that they actually need a little bit longer than this, and I tend to cook them for about 25 minutes instead. They need to be turned over halfway through the cooking time.

      Taste
      I adore these fishcakes. The outside of them (the breadcrumb coating) becomes a golden brown colour and is nice and crispy. The inside of the fishcake has a lovely texture which I suppose is quite similar to mashed potato. I have found with some fishcakes, that there never seems to be much fish inside them but I am pleased to report that this is not the case with these as the chunks of haddock are actually quite large.
      These fishcakes are actually surprisingly filling too. Sometimes, I just have them on their own for lunch and find them more than filling. I have also had them for dinner, along with a jacket potato and salad.

      Summary
      In summary, I would definitely recommend these fishcakes to any haddock lovers. I think they are pretty good value for money when you consider that you get 4 fishcakes for £2. The fishcakes themselves are a good size, making them suitable to eat either on their own or as part of a meal and they are also very tasty.

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        02.05.2010 20:49
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        One I would recomend

        I stayed at the Park Plaza hotel in Leeds in August 2009 when I visited a friend in Leeds.

        Booking
        I booked online through the Park Plaza website. I found the website easy to use and thought that it was well laid out, making it easy for me to choose the room I required. I decided on the entertainment package offer which was £89 for bed, breakfast, a bottle of wine and free movies. I thought this offered pretty good value for money considering I was staying in the middle of the town centre.

        Location
        I thought the location of this hotel was excellent, right in the centre of the city. Parking was sadly a little bit away from the hotel at the Q Park in Criterion Place, which is discounted for Park Plaza guests. You are given a discount code upon check in. I found the car park to be secure and it was only about a 5 minute walk from the hotel. The one downside to the hotel was that although the hotel was massive, I found the actually entrance seemed quite tucked away and I did have to look hard to find it.

        Arrival
        The hotel in very large and modern looking. Upon entering the main reception, I thought it looked very welcoming and had a friendly atmosphere. I arrived in the evening, around 8pm and was pleased to find that there wasn't a queue to check in. Upon checking in, the very friendly receptionist informed me of the breakfast times and also what time I would need to be checked out by. She then told me my room number and gave me directions.

        The Room
        I was extremely impressed with my room. I was located on the 5th floor and although I didn't have the best view, I could still see across Leeds City Centre. My room was round the back of the hotel, opposite the train station so this was my main view which wasn't a problem anyway as the stunning room more than made up for the lack of view.
        The room itself was huge with a massive bathroom. The bathroom was lined with mirrors which was lovely, although slightly odd when I had a bath, seeing myself from every angle! The room was decorated in neutral colours with a few modern paintings on the wall. The room was spotless and smelt lovely.
        My room has an absolutely massive window which pretty much look up one wall of the room and made the room feel larger than it already was.
        The room was furnished with a massive desk. Work top along the window wall which housed a large LCD TV, DVD player and a free view box.
        The bed was gigantic and had clean bright white and blue sheets and was very comfortable. I certainly slept very well when I stayed here.

        Food
        Breakfast was included in the rate for the room so obviously it would have been rude not to take advantage of this. The breakfast was served in a buffet style with all sort of goodies on offer including traditional fried breakfast (with veggie option available), cereals, fruit, and yogurts, croissants as well as tea, coffee and fruit juices. I had a fried veggie breakfast and tea and have to say that the food was very yummy.

        Summary
        Overall I would certainly recommend this hotel to other people. I thought that it was in an excellent location if you need to be near the city centre and it offered pretty good value for money with the prices on offer. I was very impressed with my room and the little extras such as the free wine and free movies. The one thing that let my room down was the view but like I said, I didn't stay here for the view so it didn't really bother me. I should imagine the views across Leeds from some of the other rooms are quite amazing though.

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          19.04.2010 02:05
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          A lovely, good value for money hotel

          My friend and I stayed in this hotel in February 2010 for a week.

          We mainly booked this holiday to completely chill out and enjoy a bit of sunshine.

          Flight Time From UK
          We flew from London Gatwick and our flight took four and a half hours which I consider to be a relatively short flight to get to somewhere so hot - not like my last flight which was 16 odd hours! Caribbean World Resort is only about a 50 minute journey from the airport in Hurghada but because we had other drop offs on our transfer; it ended up taking us about 2 hours to get to the hotel.

          Price
          We paid £330 per person for 7 nights on an all inclusive basis which I thought was very reasonable. This price included flights, in flight meals, accommodation and transfers.

          Arrival And Check In
          We were greeted by the very friendly staff once our coach arrived at the hotel. The staff were only to keen to carry your luggage for you and welcome you to Egypt.
          In the reception area there is a metal detector which you walk through and the luggage you are carrying (not your suitcases though) are checked by the security guard who is sat to the side of the metal detector.
          The staff at the reception desk were very friendly and I felt that there were plenty of staff on duty to deal with the six couples that were checking in.
          After a very quick check in, we were escorted to our room by a very friendly member of staff who took us in a little golf buggy (as our room was a little bit away from the reception). As he took us to our room, he also gave us a guided tour of the hotel and pointed out the various restaurants and pools.

          The Staff
          All the staff at the hotel exceeded our expectations. They were extremely helpful and very well mannered. They looked very smart in their various uniforms and I couldn't help thinking that they must get awfully hot in their uniforms. They all speak a high level of English so there is no language barrier which we found useful when talking to them about things to do while we were in Egypt.

          The Room
          When we arrived at our room, the first thing we noticed was how clean and spacious it looked. We booked a twin room and got two double beds so needless to say we were very happy.

          The beds were large and smelt very clean. Each bed had a pillow on it and we were also provided with extra pillows if needed (these were kept in one of the cupboards)
          In the room, there is a flat screen TV (with quite a few English/American channels as well as lots of German and Russian channels) a fridge, a table with two chairs, a large dressing table, a large wardrobe with a free safe inside (which we thought was a nice touch as normally you have to pay extra for a safe), there is a bedside table beside each bed, with a small bedside lamp on each one.
          The bathroom was spacious and consisted of a large walk in shower with a really nice power shower inside. The shower took up one entire length of the bathroom! There was also a sink and mirror area which was fairly large and plenty of room to store all our toiletries. There was a hairdryer attached to the wall in the bathroom so I wouldn't bother to take your own if you are staying here.
          The hotel provided us with fresh, clean towels every day and these were left on the towel rail in the bathroom.
          Also in the bathroom was a small rack on which free toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner and shower gel were provided by the hotel.
          Our room had a great little air conditioning unit which also doubled up as heating if you needed it. I was pleased to see that the air conditioning unit was fairly quiet when switched on as in some other hotels; the air con can be quite noisy.
          Each room has a balcony or a terrace and I should imagine that most room have a scenic view, we overlooked one of the 4 pools and pool bars and if we looked to the right, we could see down to the beach so we were more than pleased with this view! There are sliding patio doors which lead out to the balcony, also meaning that plenty of light was let into the room. Our balcony was furnished with 2 reclining chairs so you can chill out on the balcony.
          The rooms are cleaned to a very high standard and towels and bed sheets replaced every day.

          Restaurants
          We stayed at the Caribbean World Resort on an all inclusive basis so we were thrilled to find lots of bars and restaurants to choose from. We only actually ate at two of the restaurants so I am only able to comment on the food in these but will also give a brief outline of what is served in the others.

          Caribbean Restaurant
          This is the main restaurant and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is the only restaurant that serves breakfast which is served from 7am - 11am. Breakfast is self service in the form of a buffet. Breakfast was one of my favourite meals here, purely because there was so much choice - cereals, large selection of fresh breads, cakes, croissants, fruit, yogurts. There is also a counter where there are chefs behind coking various items fresh. These items included fried eggs, waffles, omelettes (various varieties) and pancakes. There was a selection of fresh juices which you could help yourself to, as well as a tea and coffee station. As well as all that, there was also a hot selection in the breakfast area which consisted of items such as scrambled egg, toast, sausages, beans, tomatoes and fried potatoes. There was also a smaller section where they served Egyptian style breakfast which was all spicy fried food. I did try this one morning and it was very yummy although a little bit too spicy for breakfast!
          As I already mentioned the selection is huge for breakfast and the food is kept nice and hot despite the fact that it is buffet.

          There is a fresh fruit section where you can chose from items such as apples, oranges and local fruits (although I'm not sure what some of there were)
          On entering the restaurant for breakfast, you simply pick and table and sit on it. You help yourself to tea, coffee, cold drinks and food but there are plenty of waiters around to collect the empty plates and cups so there is always a table available despite the fact that it gets quite busy.

          Lunch starts at 12.30 and finished at 15.00. Lunch is served in a buffet style in this restaurant and seemed to be the same kind of food every day. Items such as different varieties of rice, vegetable dishes and fish were available. There was also massive selection of breads. There is a chef station where they serve fresh pasta and you literally just tell them which type of pasta you would like,, and what you would like in it i.e. onion, pepper, chillies, tomatoes and they cook it all fresh in front of you.

          Dinner is served between 19.00 - 22.00 and this is served in a buffet style also. Dinner in this restaurant is served in themes and you have a different theme for every night. The themes while we were there included international, BBQ, Chinese and Egyptian to name a few. The food was always nice and hot and I felt there was also a good selection to choose from so if you didn't like one type of dish, you could easily just pick another.

          Dessert is also served at dinner time and some of them were delicious although it did tend to me the same types all the time. There were items such as Baklava which is a local dessert and consists of layers of filo pastry drizzled in chocolate - very yummy. There were also rice puddings which are served cold and chocolate mousses too. Every evening there was a large dish in the pudding section which had a different pudding every night such as hot sponge pudding bread and butter pudding and hot rice pudding.

          Within the main restaurant there is a part that is section off and specially designed for children to sit together and enjoy their meal with a small buffet style section of food and little tables and chairs for them to sit at which I thought was a nice touch.

          Tortuga Beach Grill Restaurant
          This restaurant serves a selection of grilled meats and fish. It is located near to the beach so you can enjoy your meal while listening to the sea.

          The Barbecue Restaurant
          This restaurant is pretty self explanatory; it serves a selection of meats and fish which are all cooked fresh on the BBQ in front of you.

          La Palma Italian Restaurant
          This restaurant is included on the all inclusive basis but you have to reserve a table the night before in reception and we never got round to doing this! They serve a selection of Italian dishes. In here they have belly dancers that come round while you are enjoying your meal.

          Bars
          There are also lots of bars within the grounds of the hotel so there is plenty of choice.

          Caribbeano Lounge & Disco Bar
          The Caribbean Lounge & Disco Bar is located in the building next to the main reception and it upstairs. The atmosphere is relaxed with lots of seating available. There is a small circular dance floor in the middle of the room so people can have a dance if they wish to do so. They serve a selection of alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks as well as light snacks. The décor in here is lovely, lots of big leafy plants and the furniture is all dark wood with funky coverings in animal print. There were also several leather sofa dotted around the disco.

          Cuba Beach and Disco Bar
          Sadly this is only open in the summer and as we visited during their winter, we were unable to go in here. We did however have a look from the outside and it looked nice enough with bamboo furniture and a small bar. I should imagine the atmosphere would be chilled out as this bar is located right on the beach. In here they also serve a selection of alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks as well as light snacks.

          Aladin Café & Shisha Corner
          This is basically designed as a massive tent and in the summer, the remove the sides and it becomes open air (they did this on the day we left!). In here it was lovely and cosy with bamboo furniture with big soft cushions. We visited in February so the evenings could be a little bit chilly. In this bar there are massive heaters which they move nearer to your table if you are feeling the chill. There is a big bar in the middle of the 'tent' and they serve a selection of fruit juices and alcoholic drinks. This is also the bar where they offer shisha pipes (which is basically a water pipe where you can smoke different flavoured tobacco such as apple, cherry etc). The shisha pipes are charged as extra though and were about £2.50 each.

          Jamaica & Snack Bar
          This bar is located near the swimming pool and offers a selection of alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks. They also serve food between 12-3 which includes items such as chips, salad and BBQ items like burgers, chicken wings and sausages.

          Melody Gazebo Bar
          This bar tends to be used for the welcome meetings provided by the holiday reps and aside from that, it didn't appear to ever be very busy. There are plenty of seats in the Gazebo bar and they serve a selection of alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks.

          Aloha Lobby Bar
          This bar is located near the reception and is surrounded by a variety of souvenirs and jewellery shops as well as a chemist. This bar was probably one of the busiest although it was actually quite small and cosy. There was a small bar which offered a selection of alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks as well as all inclusive cocktails. Here, they also served hot drinks such as tea, coffee and a very yummy hot chocolate. We really liked this bar and went here at the beginning of every evening for our first drink. Quite often, we would arrive to find there were no seats and the barmen would re-arrange the seats to enable us to fit down which was a nice gesture.

          The Beach
          The Caribbean World Resort Hotel actually has its own private beach which can only be used by guests staying at the hotel. The beach is reached by walking down to the far end of the grounds of the hotel. There are plenty of sun loungers with umbrellas and also lots of winder breakers. When we visited in February, it was actually surprisingly windy so the windbreaker came in very useful. The beach is all one level so is easily accessible for anyone with mobility problems as there are no steps to tackle.

          There is a bar in the beach where you can get drinks all day long. At the far end of the beach is the Dive School where you can do scuba diving and snorkelling. Near to the dive school are a group of men who offer water sports such as banana boat rides, boat trips and wind surfing which you have to pay extra for. There is also a gentleman who stands on the beach all day offering camel and horse riding at an extra cost.

          Swimming Pools
          There are three swimming pools which are all sort of interlinked although you can't swim between them as they are blocked off by bridges and features. When we stayed in February the pools were a little too cold for my liking but luckily one of the pools is heated so we were still able to have a swim and enjoy ourselves.

          The pools never appeared to be very busy during our stay although I am pretty sure it was because we went a little bit out of season and as it warmed up towards the end of our stay, the pools did become slightly busier.

          Again, there were plenty of sunloungers available.

          Towards the lower grounds of the hotel there is another smaller swimming pool which is surrounded by water slides which are free to use. There was a twisting slide as well as a flume and three flat slides.

          Towel Station
          There is towel station which is located near the swimming pools. Once you arrive at the hotel, you are given a welcome pack which is full of information about the hotel facilities. In this pack, you will be provided with 2 towel tokens (which are similar to a credit card) If you hand these tokens into the people behind the towel station then you are given a nice yellow and white striped towel to use for the pool and the beach. You can change the towels everyday and then on your last day, just exchange the towels for your tokens which you will need to hand back into reception when you check out. If you lose the towels or the tokens you are charged 20 euros so make sure you keep them safe.

          Family Friendly
          Personally I do not have any children yet but I did notice while staying at this hotel that it would be a great place to take children (as long as you take great care to protect their skin from the heat).
          The hotel caters for children very well with lots of children areas such as a kiddie's area where they can play with toys, watch videos, colour in etc all under the supervision of the animation team so you know they are in safe hands. There is a children's centre where you can drop your children off for the day with the animation team who will keep them entertained. Just outside the children centre there is a fairly large children's plays area complete with swings, slides and climbing frames.
          There is a small children's pool which will certainly keep them entertained for a while.
          Also, as mentioned above, there is even a kiddies section where they have children's table and chairs and even a selection of food to choose from.

          Dive School
          As I mentioned earlier, there is a dive school located on the beach. I am a PADI qualified diver and my friend I travelled with has never scuba dived before. While we were there, we decided to do a dive. I just did a normal dive and my friend did a Discover Scuba dive. We found the Dive School to be very friendly with efficient staff and I would certainly recommend them to anyone wishing to learn scuba diving. Considering they are an onsite dive school I considered their prices to be fairly reasonable and it was so handy them being located within the grounds of the hotel.

          Other Hotel Facilities

          Health Club
          This hotel has a lovely little Health club with a sauna, steam room and hot tub. We didn't actually use any of these facilities because they cost extra but the staff did give us a guided tour of it and it did look very nice.

          Gym
          There is a fully air conditioned Gym onsite at the hotel which I am proud to say we did use once. Sadly, the air conditioning was broken when we used it and the heat did become a bit unbearable halfway through our workout.

          Hairdressers
          There is a hairdresser's onsite which offers many services such as hair cuts, hair colouring and hair braiding. We decided to get our hair braided while were we here. We got a half head of braids and we negotiated a price of £10 per person which I thought was reasonable. The staff were very friendly and chatted away to us while we were getting out hair done.

          Massage Parlour
          This was located within the Health Club. All massages cost extra but they were all fairly reasonably priced with a 30 minute massage costing about £25. There was a large selection of treatments that could be bought from here so this area is well worth a look for anyone one who likes massages!

          Shuttle Bus
          There is a Shuttle bus service from the hotel to the next town Hurghada which cost about £6 for a return trip. This needs to be pre booked at reception though. We ventured into Hurghada fore one evening but to be honest, I wasn't overly impressed. It was very busy and as two young girls by ourselves, we did receive constant hassle from the locals which was a bit off putting when all we wanted to do was have a walk around. Having said that, I still think it was worth the experience.

          Trips
          There are members of staff who walks around the hotel grounds offering trips to the guests. These are charged as extra but I liked the idea that there are organised through a company associated with the hotel. We went Quad Biking and also visited a Bodrum village through these tours. The trip was £30 which I thought was very reasonable and we had a really good time.


          In Conclusion
          I would certainly recommend this hotel to anyone wishing to get away somewhere hot for a reasonable price. We just wanted somewhere warm and we weren't too bothered about doing much while we were there and this hotel suited our needs perfectly. Even though there isn't really much to do in Soma Bay, you still have to option of going on one of the trips offered which gives a little bit a variety for those of you who get easily bored.
          The all inclusive basis is definitely worth the money as you have a great selection of food and drink. The facilities are clean and modern and certainly meet the expectations you would have of a 5* hotel.

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            13.04.2010 23:26
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            A must try product

            I am a massive crisp fan and to be honest, tend to favour savoury snacks over sweet ones. When at work, I often pop to a shop just around the corner to buy snacks when I am hungry and this is where I came across Brannigans Ham and Pickle flavour crisps.

            Packaging
            These crisps come in your typical foil style packaging but they actually look quite different to most of the typical brands such as Walkers, Quavers etc. The packaging looks quite traditional and old fashioned. The packet is a dark salmon pink and beige colour with a picture Mr Brannigan (I assume) in the middle of the packet. The Brannigans logo is in big white letters across the front and the words smoked ham and pickle are written in bold pink text. The usual nutritional information is written in short of the front of the bag and on the back it is described in more detail. These crisps come in 40g bags.

            Cost
            In my local newsagents where I buy these crisps they cost 50p per 40g bag.

            The Crisps
            The crisps are a golden colour and are quite thick compared to other brands such as Walkers. The crisps were all of a reasonable size and for some reason, there never seems to be very many broken crisps lingering at the bottom of the packet. I assume this is because the crisps are much thicker than your average crisp which stops them from being broken in the packet.

            Taste And Smell
            The description on that packet informs us that these crisps are "proper thick cut potato crisps made from specially selected potatoes and are bursting with strong classic flavours. Each bag contains mouth-watering flavours, carefully checked for quality, crunch and fullness of flavour."

            Upon opening the packet, you are hit with the lovely mix of the smoked ham and picket flavours. I would say that the ham is the dominant smell that comes through first and then you can smell the underlying sweetness of the pickle.

            These crisps are just as they are described on the packet; they are thick cut and have a good crunchy consistency. What really makes these crisps appealing to me though is the taste. You can really taste the smoked ham and it doesn't taste at all artificial. I think that the saltiness of the smoked ham flavour really compliments the sweet, slightly tangy taste of the pickle.

            Summary
            I would highly recommend these crisps to any crisp lovers. The flavour is unique and strong without being unpleasant. These crisps are somewhat different to your average packet and they certainly taste of a better quality. My only grumble is that as far as I am aware, they only come in two flavours, which are Ham and Pickle and Ham and Mustard. One disappointment is that these crisps don't seem to be stocked in a wide variety of shops and I have only found them at one shop in my local area.

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              30.03.2010 15:35
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              Save yourself a fortune in shaving gel

              I am not particularly fussed about which shaving gel I use and tend to just opt for the cheapest one. I usually do my weekly shop at Tesco's and this is where I came across Tesco Moisture Rich Berry Shave Gel.

              Packaging
              The shaving gel comes in purple and pink 200ml can. The packaging is bright and really stands out from the others on the shelf. The name of the shaving gel is written across the front of the can with a small picture of berries on the front. The back of the can has all the usual info such as a product description, ingredients and aerosol warning.

              Cost
              As I already mentioned, this is bought from Tesco's where a 200ml can costs £1.05 which I think is very reasonable compared to other brands on the market.

              Scent
              Obviously this product is advertised as being berry scented and it doesn't disappoint. The smell is very strong but not unpleasantly so. The smell is very sweet and girly and the dominating fragrance is of blackcurrant. The smell of the gel remains on your skin after using it and my bathroom always smells of it for a good few hours after using this product too.

              How To Use
              There are directions for use on the back of the can which state that you should 'Wet skin and dispense required amount onto fingertips. Gently massage onto the skin to produce a rich lather. Shave. Rinse well after use.' Having said that, I tend to squirt the product into my hand and lather it up on my hand and then apply to my legs. One thing I will say about this product is that is does tend to come out of the can with quite some force so this is something you need to be aware of or it will end up going everywhere.
              I have found that a little really does go a long way with this product so it lasts a long time too.

              Summary
              In summary I would definitely recommend this product. I think that it offers brilliant value for money and the scent is scrumptious too. It always gives a close shave but whether this is down to my razor or the shaving gel, it's difficult to say. I think that this shaving gel is just as good as the more expensive names brands and is more the half the price.

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                15.03.2010 21:45
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                One to try!

                I must start by saying that I am not actually a massive fan of cider, having only previously drunk it with the intention of getting very drunk when I was about 15 and White Lightening was very cheap. However, having said that, last year one of my work colleagues introduced me Jacques fruit cider and I have been a big fan ever since.

                Packaging
                Jacques fruit cider comes in 2 sizes which are 750ml and 440ml. However, the 750ml bottle is the most common size that is sold and I often find it hard to find the 440ml on the shelves of the supermarket and have never seen that size being sold in the pub. The bottles are clear glass and have the Jacques logo embossed on it. The bottle has a screw top fastening lid which is useful on the bigger bottles as you can stop it from going flat.

                Price
                I do think Jacques is quite expensive but to me, it is definitely worth it. The 750ml bottle ranges from £3.50 - £4 depending on where you buy it from. I have found it cheapest in my local Netto store when it was on special offer for £3.50.


                The Cider
                When you first open the bottle there is a real fizzing noise. The cider is a deep pink / red colour. You can instantly smell the berries that are used to make this cider and there is also an underlying hint of apple as you would expect.
                The taste is beautiful, very refreshing and pleasant. The apple and mixed fruits work so well together and the berries also help to make this a much sweeter drink than average cider. This cider is sparkling so obviously it has a nice fizz to it. Personally I think this cider is best served freezing cold and when I buy it in a pub, I always ask for a glass with ice to ensure the Jacques stays chilled.


                Other Information
                5.5% volume
                Contains 2.4 units
                Jacques comes in 2 flavours Orchard fruits and Fruits of the forest.

                Summary
                If you are a regular cider drinker then you would have probably come across this anyway, but if you don't normally drink it I would urge people to try it, even if you are not normally a fan of cider. It's very fruity in flavour and makes a nice refreshing change to 'normal' ciders. It may be one of the more expensive ciders out there but it is definitely worth the money in my opinion. This drink could easily convert people who don't usually like cider because it certainly did for me! If you like sweet, fruity drinks that are stronger than they taste then get out and buy a bottle of this!

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                • Tesco Value Clear Honey / Spread / 69 Readings / 68 Ratings
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                  06.03.2010 10:21
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                  Definately a product I would recommend

                  I have been eating healthily recently and porridge is something that I have been eating more and more of due to the fact that it is so filling. However, I can't just eat porridge on its own as I find it quite bland and boring so I have taken to adding either a tablespoon of honey or jam to my porridge.

                  I decided to buy Tesco Value honey purely because I knew I was only going to be using it in porridge and I didn't really see the point in paying out loads of money for some posh brand when I wouldn't really taste the difference once it was stirred into my porridge anyway.

                  Cost
                  I paid 65p for my 340gram jar which is considerably cheaper than all of the other brands on the shelf.

                  Packaging
                  Admittedly the packaging isn't anything to write home about but that doesn't bother me. Tesco Value Honey comes in a clear jar with a basic Tesco Value label around the middle with clear honey written across the front of it. The lid is the usually screw off lid which opens and closes easily.

                  Honey
                  I think this honey is very sweet and full of flavour. For a product that was so cheap, I almost expected it to be lacking in something but this wasn't the case at all. The one downside is that the honey is really quite thin and runny so isn't particularly good for things like toast but it was more than suitable for what I needed it for.

                  Summary
                  In summary, I would recommend this honey. I think it offers excellent value for money. Although I don't think that the honey would be that suitable for spreading on toast, I do think it works really well in my porridge and would also work well for being used in recipes. One downside of this product is that because the honey is so runny, when transferring it from the jar to wherever you want it, it does tend to dribble off the spoon which can be a bit if a pain as honey isn't the easiest substance to clean up. Having said that, I would still highly recommend this product.

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                  • More +
                    02.03.2010 01:52
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                    Well worth a try for anyone dieting

                    I have been trying to eat healthily and lose a bit of weight recently. However, my one problem is that I do have a bit of a sweet tooth and I also really like my food. Whenever I seem to diet, I crave all the naughty things I am not meant to have. My Mum (who is also dieting) told me that I should by Weight Watchers Dessert Recipe yogurts if I fancied a little, low calorie treat.

                    Weight Watchers Dessert Recipe Yogurts
                    I have to admit that I thought the Weight Watchers Dessert recipe yogurts sounded rather yummy. There are four different flavours which are Strawberry Tart, Raspberry Tart, Lemon Cheesecake and Toffee Apple.

                    Packaging
                    I was surprised to find that the yogurts were not actually that easy to spot on the shelf. I thought with the Weight Watchers logo they would be really obvious but that wasn't the case. These yogurts come packaged as a group of four (much like other yogurts). The four pots are enclosed within a cardboard sleeve. There are photos on the cardboard to demonstrate the different flavours i.e. the lemon cheesecake pot has a picture of lemon wedges and biscuit crumbs.

                    Cost
                    At the moment these yogurts are on special offer at Tesco where you can buy two packets for £2. So this mean you get eight yogurts for £2 which I think is really reasonable.

                    The Yogurts

                    Strawberry Tart
                    The pot has a picture of sliced strawberries and crumbled biscuits and certainly wets your appetite. On opening the lid, you can definitely smell that this is a strawberry product and the small somehow managed to be fruity and creamy at the same time. The yogurt itself is quite a dark pink colour, a bit darker than I expected it to be. There are chunks of strawberry and biscuits throughout the yogurt too.
                    The contrast between the sweetness of the strawberry and the crunchiness of the biscuit was very nice.

                    Energy: 56 calories
                    Protein: 5.5g
                    Carbs: 7.1 g
                    Fat: 0.7g (saturates 0.3g)
                    Fibre: 0.3g
                    Weight Watchers points: 1

                    Lemon Cheesecake
                    I am a bit fan of lemon desserts so was pleased to see this flavour. Upon opening the lid of this yogurt I was pleased to find a strong but fairly sweet lemon smell. The yogurt itself is a pale creamy yellow colour and has light brown lumps / crumbs dotted throughout it. The biscuit crumbs range in size, with the largest being the size of a piece of sweet corn. The yogurt is lovely and creamy and has a nice thick consistency as advertised. I think this dessert tastes just like lemon cheesecake and the consistency is perfect to make you think you are actually eating cheesecake. Flavour wise I think Weight Watchers got it spot on as the yogurt is sweet and tangy and contrasts really well with the biscuits crumbs.

                    Energy: 62 calories
                    Protein: 4.9g
                    Carbs: 8.5 g
                    Fat: 1g (saturates 0.6g)
                    Fibre: 0.2g
                    Weight Watchers points: 1

                    Toffee Apple
                    The pot has pictures of apples slices and chunks of toffee and again looks very appealing. The yogurt is a pale cream colour with light green apple chunks inside. I thought the apple chunks were quite large compared to the sizes of the fruit chunks in the other yogurts. The yogurt has a lovely thick consistency and tastes of toffee which is lovely and sweet and contrasts well with the sweetness of the apple. The texture of the apple is really nice as somehow is still has a slight crisp to it but is also a little soft (I guess where it has been in the yogurt for a while)


                    Energy: 55 calories
                    Protein: 4.0g
                    Carbs: 7.9g
                    Fat: 0.8g (saturates 0.5g)
                    Fibre: 0.4g
                    Weight Watchers points: 1

                    Raspberry Tart
                    This pot has pictures of raspberries and biscuit crumbs on the front. Upon opening the pot, you can definitely smell the sharpness of the raspberries. I really liked the smell of this yogurt in particular. The yogurt itself is thick and is a creamy pale pink colour with small pieces of raspberry and biscuits all mixed into the yogurt. Again, this yogurt offered a lovely contrast between the sharpness of the raspberries, the creaminess of the yogurt and the crunchiness of the biscuits.

                    Energy: 56 calories
                    Protein: 4.8g
                    Carbs: 8.0g
                    Fat: 0.6g (saturates 0.4g)
                    Fibre: 0.2g
                    Weight Watchers points: 1

                    Summary
                    I obviously eat these yoghurts as part of a calorie controlled diet, but I would still recommend them to anyone. They help me to stick to my diet as I feel like I am having a real treat when I have one, and as you can see, they contain hardly any calories or fat so you can really enjoy eating them with that guilt free feeling.
                    These yogurts are truly scrumptious and are much healthier than your average dessert.

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                    • Thomas Cook Airlines / Airline / 58 Readings / 55 Ratings
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                      17.02.2010 07:03
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                      Would travel again but only for short haul

                      I flew with Thomas Cook airlines in February 2010 when I travelled to Hurghada in Egypt.
                      We booked our holiday as a package so we did not specifically book this airline; it just came as part of the package.

                      Check in
                      Our paperwork told us that we would be able to check in with Thomas Cook 3 hours before our departure. You can also check in online although we chose not to do this. We arrived at the airport 4 hours before we were due to fly and we really pleased to find that the check in desk was already open. I found this quite useful as it allowed us to check it our heavy luggage and then we were able to enjoy something to eat and drink and have a quick browse around the shops. As we had arrived at the airport so early, needless to say, there wasn't a queue. In fact we were the 10th and 11th person to check in for our flight!
                      We were travelling economy class and were allowed 15k of luggage. The check in lady obviously checked our passports and tickets and went through the usual security questions. She also asked us if we were aware of the restrictions on hand luggage and that we would not be allowed certain items. Check in was quick and professional.

                      Boarding
                      We were called to board our flight a few minutes early which is always welcome. Boarding was organised by seat number and we were in the first lot of people to be called. As we boarded the plane, we were greeted by a member of staff who asked to see our boarding pass, she then directed us to our seat. Even though we were the first group of people to board, the whole boarding process didn't seem to take very long at all.

                      The Plane
                      My first impression on getting seated in the plane was how little room we had. I would like to point out that I usually fly long haul and fly with the slightly 'posher' airlines such as Malaysia Airlines and these airlines tend to have things such as extra leg room as standard. So to me, this plane seemed very basic and very small. I am only 5 ft 4 and my legs already touched the seat in front of me when I sat down so I felt awfully sorry for anyone taller than me. The plane was set out in two rows of three with a middle aisle. Personally I wasn't really that keen on the layout of the plane as the majority of people travel in two's of families of four so I feel that setting the rows out in three's just separates people. Having said all that, the plane was nice and clean.

                      Entertainment
                      Our flight was only 5 hours so we had one film showing and then a selection of half hours programs such as Gavin and Stacey. The TV's were set at various points within the plane and the idea is you watch the one nearest to you. Headsets were either £2.75 each or you could get two headsets for £5. Luckily I remembered to pack some headphones that I had bought on a previous flight so I didn't need to by any.

                      Food and Drink
                      I am a vegetarian and often have lots of trouble trying to get a veggie meal on flights. Even though I order it there is usually some confusion when I tell them I have a meal and more often than not it has not been ordered and I end up with nothing. When they brought the food round, I was given a normal non veggie meal and I explained to the woman that I had a veggie meal ordered and she informed me that they had no record of it, but they did however bring some spares with them so it wouldn't be a problem me having one. Obviously I was very appreciative of this as I had paid for my in flight meal. My meal on both the outbound and inbound flight was absolutely delicious and I am not normally a fan of plane food but Thomas Cook airlines definitely get a thumbs up from me for their food.
                      The staff brought round a drinks trolley twice during the flight but I didn't opt to have any drinks as I thought they were too expensive at £1.50 for a cup of tea and £2 for a hot chocolate.

                      The Staff
                      The staff were exceptionally helpful and always had a big smile on their face. They were all dressed very smart and were well presented with perfectly neat hair and make up. I always think it helps a plane journey to be more pleasant when they staff are nice and I felt that the staff on both my flights with Thomas Cook were both professional and friendly.

                      Summary
                      All in all, my experience with Thomas Cook airlines was a fairly positive one. I really didn't appreciate the fact that the plane was so small, neither did I particularly like the layout of the plane. Having said that, I felt that the staff were very friendly, the flights all left on time and Thomas Cook seemed fairly well organised in the whole process or boarding / unboarding. I was also impressed that the staff had thought to bring on extra veggie meals as quite often I have had to go without with other airlines. The food was delicious too so I felt it was well worth booking the in flight meals.

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                      • More +
                        20.01.2010 18:01
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                        Great for dieters

                        To be honest, I had never really eaten much cottage cheese up until last year. It was only when I started a diet, and my Mum advised me to have cottage cheese instead of Cheddar on my jacket potato that I came across it. I always like to try new things so thought it would be worth a bash. Upon first trying it, I wasn't that keen as let's be honest, it doesn't really compare to Cheddar. However, I persevered with it as I realised how good it was for me and it is now one of my favourite things to eat.

                        Packaging
                        Tesco healthy living cottage cheese comes in 300g tubs which are plastic. The tub is mostly white with a different coloured strip running along the top of the tub, depending on the flavour inside i.e. green for chive flavour and yellow for cottage cheese with pineapple. The lid is a clear plastic lid and the tub also has a foil cover over it which easily peels off.

                        Cost
                        A 300g tub only costs 78p which I think is really good value for money. They also do a 650g tub which costs £1.45. The flavoured cottage cheese, such as with pineapple and with chives are slightly more expensive with a 300g tub costing £1.08.

                        The Cottage Cheese
                        Cottage cheese has a quite bizarre texture. It is creamy, with clots of the cottage cheese in a thin white liquid. Upon first opening the tub, I find that the clots have separated slightly from the liquid so I find that stirring the contents makes the texture more suitable for eating.
                        Taste wise, it is difficult to explain, it tastes creamy but also slightly sour at the same time, although not unpleasantly so. Obviously there is a slight taste of cheese but this is more like an underlying hint rather than a full on flavour.

                        Uses
                        Cottage cheese is actually a very versatile product and can be used in a manner of different ways. I most commonly use mine as a filling for a jacket potato along with baked beans. I also like to include cottage cheese in my salad dishes so I can eat it alongside my salad which makes it more enjoyable and also cuts out the calories of using a salad dressing. Another meal I like to have involving cottage cheese is a jacket potato filled with garlic mushrooms, but I cook the garlic mushrooms in a serving of cottage cheese - this makes a nice cheesy sauce to accompany the mushrooms and it is also healthy.
                        I also cut up pieces of veg such as carrots, celery and cucumber and use them for dipping into the cottage cheese. These are great as a healthy snack and can easily be taken into work.
                        Cottage cheese can also be used instead of cream cheese in things such as lasagne, pasta sauces and cheesecake - this helps to massively cuts down on calories.
                        Finally cottage cheese can also be used in sweet recipes such as pancakes although I have no actually used it for nay such recipes to date.

                        Extra Info
                        Per 60g serving (5 servings per pot):
                        Calories: 48
                        Fat (saturates): 0.9g (0.5g)
                        Protein: 7.3g
                        Salt: 0.25mg

                        So as you can see from the stats this is a very good nutritional product, especially as it has a 65% reduction in fat from the normal cottage cheeses. It also contains no hydrogenated fat, is a brilliant source of calcium and is suitable for vegetarians.

                        Summary
                        I would highly recommend this product, especially for anyone dieting or trying to be healthier with their food. I would advise you to persevered of you are not keen the first time you try it, as I wasn't either but now I thoroughly enjoy it. I like the fact that one product has so many uses and find that it is a good product to have in a fridge, purely because you can use it to accompany so many different meals.

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                          19.01.2010 06:48
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                          Definately a product I would recommend

                          I love nice smelling things, perfumes, and fresh laundry, just generally anything that smells nice. Since giving up smoking, I have found that my nose is a lot more sensitive to smells and I notice things that I may not have noticed before. When I first gave up smoking, I treated myself to some Avon linen spray so I could really appreciate the house smelling nice after giving up. Since then, I am now an addict of the stuff and have tried nearly all the scents. One of my favourites is the Coconut and Papaya flavour.

                          Packaging
                          This spray comes in a clear plastic bottle with a plastic lid which pops on and off. The spray can be released with a spray-pump action nozzle. There is a label on the front of the bottle with the Avon Naturals logo on, along with a product description.

                          Cost
                          A bottle of this usually costs £3.50 which I think is fairly reasonable. Having said that, Avon often have these products on special offers such as buy two, get one free. They are also quite regularly half price at only £1.75 a bottle so it's definitely worth having a look online.

                          To Use
                          This spray is used in the exact same way as perfume, just depress the nozzle and wait for the spray to come out. Although this is labelled as linen spray I use it on a whole manner of things such as cushion covers, curtains and also on my carpet to give the room a really fresh smell. I have two dogs who have soft beds in the living room and I often give their beds a quick blast with this product to ensure the room doesn't start to smell 'doggy'. I like the fact that this spray is quite light and water based so it doesn't leave any marks on the items that you are spraying.

                          The Scent
                          I think that this particular scent is quite sweet which is great for me as I love sweet, feminine smells. I think these two fragrances work really well together as you get the sweetness of the coconut, along with the fruitiness of the papaya. When you first spray this product, the coconut smells seems to dominate but after a minute or so, the fruitiness of the papaya comes through. I tend to use 5-6 sprays of this product in my living room (which is the biggest room in my house) and this manages to make the whole room smell lovely. One thing I like about this spray is that it has really good staying power. For example, I make my bed in the morning and spray a few squirts on my sheets before placing the duvet over the top and my sheets smell amazing when I get into bed that night.

                          Summary
                          I would highly recommend this product. Personally I really like this scent but a few of my friends have commented that they find it too sweet. But there are many fragrances to choose from so even if you don't go for this particular scent, this product as a whole provides excellent value for money and a great smell that has decent lasting power. It is definitely worth keeping an eye on Avon online and stocking up on this product when it's on special offer.

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                          • More +
                            16.01.2010 00:59
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                            Definately a product I would recommend

                            I am not a big fan of winter but one thing I do like is snuggling down in front of the fire with a lovely big mug of hot chocolate. Lately I have been trying to eat healthily and watching my calorie intake so have opted for the lowest calorie hot chocolate I could find. This is how I came across Cadbury Instant Hot Chocolate.

                            Packaging
                            This hot chocolate comes in a circular plastic container that has a screw top lid. The container is the usual Cadbury's bright purple colour which makes it easily recognisable on the supermarket shelf. All the usual product information and directions for use are written on the back of the container.

                            Cost
                            I managed to find this product on special offer in my local Saver store where it was 99p for a 500g tub so I stocked up on it. My local petrol station actually sell individual sachets of this product for 49p or a double sachet of this product for 99p which is actually quite expensive when you compare it to the price of the 500g tub.

                            How To Make
                            With this particular brand of hot chocolate, you only need to add hot water, no milk - which is what keeps the calories down. To make this hot chocolate, you need to add four heaped teaspoons of powder to 200ml of hot water and stir until all the powder has dissolved. If you so wish, you can add a little bit of milk to the top of your drink to make it milkier but personally, I don't find that you need to.

                            Taste
                            I have found with other hot chocolates that are made with just hot water that sometimes they can be a bit watery and tasteless but this product certainly doesn't disappoint. The hot chocolate ends up being chocolaty, creamy and smooth. To be honest, unless I had made it myself, I would assume that it had been made with milk because it really does taste so delicious and has a consistency similar to the brands which use milk, rather than hot water.

                            Summary
                            I would certainly recommend this product to anyone who enjoys a chocolate fix. I am not a massive chocolate fan but for some reason, whenever I begin to diet, I always crave chocolate and I find that this product is perfect for curbing those cravings. One cup is only 120 calories which I think is very reasonable. I love the fact that as well as being cheap, this product is actually highly enjoyable and to top it all off, is low in calories.

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                            • More +
                              01.01.2010 02:21
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                              The most brilliant moisturiser I have ever come across

                              The past few months I have been on a bit of a health kick, eating healthily, exercising more and just generally trying to look after myself a bit better. Part of this process has involved looking after my skin better as well.

                              My work colleagues wife works on board the boats where she can get her hands on items such as perfume for cheaper prices than the high street. She also gets a 20% staff discount so I recently asked her to get me some Elizabeth Arden Daily Moisturiser SPF 15. I got 50ml for the bargain price of £16. I currently use the Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream Skin Protectant and think it is amazing so thought I would give the moisturiser a go too, especially when I can get it for that price.

                              The Product
                              Elizabeth Arden claim that this product can protect skin from the effects of extreme weather and climate changes as well as protecting you skin from the harmful rays of the sun with the inbuilt SPF 15. This product is meant to leave your skin feeling soft, smooth and moisturised for up to 8 hours. It is formulated with the scent from the 8 hour cream skin protectant so it also smells very nice.

                              Packaging
                              This moisturiser comes in a plain white box which to be honest, looks a bit boring. The box has the Elizabeth Arden logo on the front in red with the words written above it. All the usual information is on the box such as size of tube inside, description of product and on the back is the ingredients list and a customer comments address and phone number.
                              The tube of moisturiser itself is white with a white lid that has a silver band running around it. Again quite plain and simple but at the same time, quite sophisticated.

                              Cost
                              Obviously I got my cream at a reduced rate through a friend but I have had a brief look online and have found that you can get a 50ml tube of this moisturiser for £26 at Debenhams.

                              Smell
                              For those of you who have used the 8 hour cream skin protectant, then this product smells like a weaker version of that. For those who have no smelt the above product, I would say that it is probably quite a unique smell, some of my friends hate it, and others, like me, love it. It almost smells medicated (although not in a horrible way) and smells ever so slightly of tea tree oil.

                              My Opinion
                              I think this moisturiser is amazing. I literally only have to use the smallest amount as a little goes a very long way. It rubs in easily and doesn't leave your skin feeling at all greasy as many moisturisers do. Instead your skin is left feeling silky smooth and totally hydrated. I suffer from sensitive skin and often have dry patches appear on my face from my eczema and this cream has literally made these vanish with just one use. This cream does boast that your skin is meant to feel the effects of the use for up to 8 hours and I can certainly vouch for that as my skin feels so smooth for ages afterwards.

                              Summary
                              I would highly recommend this moisturiser. Although I do think it is on the expensive side, I believe it actually offers great value for money purely because it lives up to all the claims and a little does go along way too. I have never come across a moisturiser as good as this before. I love the fact that it leaves your skin feeling hydrated and silky smooth without leaving any signs of grease at all.

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                              • More +
                                18.12.2009 21:21
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                                This is a must see attraction if visiting Sri Lanka

                                My friend and I went on an Elephant and Spices Tour of Sri Lanka in September 2009. We had a fully packed itinery and in the 10 days we were there, I would like to think that we saw most of the main sights to beautiful island has to offer. A highlight of my holiday was a visit to the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage.

                                Pinnewela Elephant Orphanage
                                Pinnawela is situated near the town of Kegella, halfway between the capitol of Columbo and the town of Kandy. Pinnawela was established in 1975 by the Sri Lanka Wildlife Department. It was initially set up because elephants had become endangered, mainly because of people hunting them for their tusks, and party because of farmers killing them to protect their land and crops. Many baby elephants were found abandoned because their family had been killed. In the 70's, killing and elephant in Sri Lanka became outlawed and so began the wonderful work at Pinnawela.

                                Pinnawela covers 24 acres and is also a breeding centre for elephants as well as taking in abandoned or injured elephants. Pinnawela boasts the largest herd of elephants in captivy in the world. The elephants are all trained to become working elephants, which in turn help the local people. Elephants that are born here are fitted with tracking devices and released into National Parks to live a free life.

                                Getting There
                                Obviously our trip to the elephant orphanage was all included in the itinery that we booked. However, we did speak to various other couples while we were on holiday and we were informed that it is fairly easy to take local transport to the orphanage although obviously the price will vary depending on where you are staying and how close to the orphanage you are. Every local person in Sri Lanka will know where the Orphanage is as it is one of the islands main attractions.

                                The Actual Visit
                                We arrived at the orphanage around noon and were informed by our guide that the elephants would be making one of their daily trips to the watering hole. We made our way down to the watering hole by means of a dusty track. Then we proceeded down about 30 steps and the full extent of the orphanage became apparent. The watering hole is absolutely huge and just near the entrance to it, are lots of rocky areas which visitors are allowed to sit on to relax and enjoy the privilege of watching the beautiful giant creatures. We made our way right to the front of the rocks, even though there appeared to be loads of people there, for example, in our group alone there were 28 people, it wasn't a problem getting to the front. From here, we were allowed 45 minutes to just sit and observe the elephants. Although there were keepers in the water with them, they were mainly there to ensure the elephants didn't wander too far. Having said that, a small group made their way right across the other side of the lake and were happily smearing themselves in bright orange mud!

                                There were several men stood near the water who were offering bags on bananas for the equivalent of 50p a bag. If you bought a bag, as we did, the men then take you down to the edge of the water where you are allowed to feed the elephants. This is all supervised so you are perfectly safe but you are warned that these animals are semi wild and care must be taken. There were several elephants near to where we were taken and we fed them our bag of bananas. It was an amazing experience and we even got to feed some of the babies. I would strongly advise doing this! Also in the watering hole, was an elephant named Sama who had part of her front leg blown off when she stepped on a land mine. The orphanage went and rescued her and she has been living there ever since and has adapted very well to her leg being around 6 inches shorter than the others.

                                After watching the elephants in the watering hole, we made our way to the restaurant for lunch (more about this later). After lunch we went over to another area within the orphanage where we could see the baby elephants being fed on coconut leaves. Personally I didn't enjoy this particular section very much as the elephants were chained within a large concrete area, with all the visitors gathered around watching them. For me, this area was too noisy and it didn't feel very natural for the baby elephants, having hundreds of noisy people stood watching them, when they couldn't really move away from us if the wished to do so. Needless to say, I only stood in this area for about 5 minutes.

                                After this, we walked across to another section of the orphanage - the grazing land. This is where you can see the elephants in their most natural state, in herds, just grazing the land. Obviously you are not allowed to just walk in amongst the elephants and there are signs up telling you where you can and can't walk and there are members of staff to ensure you stick to the relevant areas. In this section, you can pay the staff a small tip (although you don't actually HAVE to, they kind of pester you for it and are happy with around 50p) and then you are allowed, with their guidance to stand near one of the elephants and have your photo taken, which of course we did. In the far end of this section, there was a female elephant who had been left blind after farmers threw a homemade bomb at her when she was on their land. Local monks came across the elephant, totally lost and badly injured and called the elephant orphanage to help. She has now been living at the orphanage for 12 years. At the time we visited, she was kept separate, away from the other elephants and again, you could pay the staff a small tip and have your photo taken with her. Personally I didn't do this as I felt she was being used as a bit of a tourist attraction. I spoke to my guide later about it and asked if she is always kept separate and he told me that she is allowed within the herds and is accepted, with the others looking after her.

                                Daily Itinery
                                As I already said, we visited at noon so we got to see the elephants at the watering hole. There is however, a daily itinery at the elephant orphanage so depending on when you visit, you will see something different happening. At the time we visited, the daily itinery consisted of the following;

                                8am - the baby elephants being bottle fed their milk and allowed to roam the 12 acres of grassland within the orphanage.

                                10am - the elephants are walked down the watering hole and allowed to bath, play and roam in the water for around 2 hours.

                                2pm - the elephants make their second trip to the watering hole.

                                Between 4.30pm - 6pm - the elephants are taken to their stalls and tethered for the night. It is here that they are given their evening feeds, and the babies are once again given their milk. Each elephant gets around 75kg of green matter a day, along with a 2kg mix of maize, rice bran and seeds.

                                The Restaurant
                                As our trip to the orphanage was part of an itinery, we also had lunch included with that. The restaurant was beautiful and the seating meant that you could overlook the watering hole as you ate. Our lunch was served in a buffet style and was one of the yummiest meals we had while we were out there, all Sri Lankan curried, rice dishes and a few sweets. I am vegetarian and there was a lot of choice on the menu for me.
                                There are also toilets located in the restaurant which were very clean.

                                Gift Shops
                                There are around 20 stalls / shops selling a whole variety of souvenirs. There was one shop that sold elephant dung products, where the elephant dung is processed until it becomes paper and there were items such as note books, pretty boxes and calendars available. I really liked this idea. At the main entrance to the orphanage, there is an official elephant orphanage shop and you are advised to buy something in this shop, because the proceeds go straight back into the orphanage. Although I didn't actually buy anything, there were some lovely items in the shop and they were only slightly more expensive than the stalls which sold the same items which I didn't mind because the money went straight to the elephants.

                                Taking Photos
                                If you are taking a camera or video camera into the elephant orphanage, you are required to pay a small fee. If I remember right, it was about £1 for a camera and £2 for a video camera. You are allowed to take photos in every section and I would strongly advise doing this as I have a whole album of memories from here.

                                Conclusion
                                As you have probably guessed, I would highly recommend a trip to the Elephant Orphanage. Personally, I think it is important to spend money visiting an attraction like this because it helps to put money into the cause. I thought that we had ample time here, probably around 3 hours including lunch. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the elephants play around in the watering hole and during our visit, our guide informed us of all the good work that happens at the orphanage, how it came about and their success stories. Some of the keepers hold nasty looking sticks (basically a stick with a big hook on the end) which worried me a bit at first as I wouldn't have liked to have seen one being used on the elephants but it soon became apparent that they had these in case anything major happened, like the elephants began to stampede etc. In our time there, I didn't see a keeper using it once. If you visit Sri Lanka, you must take a trip to Pinnawela.

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                                • Stand By Me (DVD) / DVD / 57 Readings / 56 Ratings
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                                  13.12.2009 02:13
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                                  A must see film!

                                  I first watched this film when I was very young, probably around 10 years old and since then, it has always been one of my favourites. I was recently working nights and got talking about films and found out that my colleague had never seen this film so I took it into work and watched it once more.

                                  The Story
                                  Stand By me is based on the short story 'The Body' which was written by Stephen King. The film is narrated by one of the main characters in the film, Gordie Lachance. He narrates the film as a 40 something man, with children who is looking back on his life, at a time when he was 12 years old.
                                  Gordie and his three friends set out on the biggest adventure of their lives when they decide to go and find the body of a missing boy who was the same age as them. They're plan is to find the body and as a result, get fame and fortune.
                                  However, they come across many problems along the way, one of them being a local gang of bullies, known as the Cobra's who have the same ideas as they do. The big question is who gets to the body first and what each of the boys discovers about themselves and each other on their journey?

                                  The Cast
                                  Personally, seeing as I was only born in 1984, most of the cast are not names that I am familiar with. Having said that, this doesn't change the fact that although there may not be many 'big names' starring in this film - I would still class it as an all time classic and a must see for everyone.

                                  Bearing in mind this was released in 1986, the biggest star in the film at the time was River Phoenix who died of a drugs overdose, aged only 23. Phoenix was only 16 when he starred in this film and I think he gives an amazing performance. He plays Chris Chambers who comes from the local 'rough family' of alcoholics and criminals. Everyone knows he is never going to make anything of himself because of this, despite that fact that he is actually a really bright lad. Chris and Gordie are best friends and the bond they share is beautiful to watch throughout the film - although they are entirely different and come from very different family, they have un-unbreakable bond.

                                  Vern Tessio is played by Jerry O'Connel. Vern is the typical fat kid who always gets picked on by everyone else and the rest of the gang always take the micky out of him as he is an easy target. Jerry O'Connel was only 11 years old, and the youngest member of the cast when he starred in this film. It is very difficult to believe that he grew up to play his roles in Jerry McGuire and Scream and he is actually quite a good looking man, although you would never have guessed it from seeing this film.

                                  Teddy DuChamp is played by Corey Feldman. Teddy is a bizarre little boy, whose dad turned crazy and is locked away in the local nut house. You can see that Teddy adores his family, although you never understand why because he Dad treated him awfully, once pinning him down and burning half his ear off! Corey Feldman has starred in lots of films; the main ones I know of are Gremlins, The Goonies and The Lost Boys.

                                  Gordie LaChance is played by Will Wheaton. He narrates the film and is best friends with Chris Chambers. Gordie is the quiet boy of the group who enjoys telling stories and writing. As the film progresses, we discover that Will's older brother, who was adored by his parents, died in a car accident. His parents haven't coped very well with the death and as a result, Will is practically ignored by his father. You can see this has a deep affect on him.

                                  Another member of the cast is a very young Keifer Sutherland who actually has a relatively small role, playing a member of the rival gang. However, he is probably the actor with the most success out of the entire cast.

                                  My Opinion
                                  The reason why I love this film so much is because when you break it down, it is actually a very simple film. There are no big fighting scenes or massive special effects; it simply follows four young boys on a journey of self discovery. The film really gets across the fact that one event can change someone's life totally.

                                  This film really makes me reminisce about my life and friends that have come and gone throughout it. At the very end of the film, Gordie is writing his memoirs (and narrating it to the viewer) and he says one simple statement that I think is very true. He is informing the viewer about what happened to each of the characters 20 years later and at the very end he says; "Although I had not seen him in over ten years, I know I will miss him forever. I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?" I love this statement because I think it is so true, everyone has a time in their life that will stand out for them as being an amazing point in their life. Mine is when I was at college between the ages of 17-19, when I had an amazing group of friends and we did the craziest things. Although most of us are settled or in different countries and don't see each other like we used to, nothing will ever be able to take away my amazing memories of our time together and Stand By Me really brings that point home.

                                  DVD Extras
                                  Normally I don't find the extras that come with the DVD very interesting but I thoroughly enjoyed watching the extra for Stand By Me. It shows interviews with the cast, obviously excluding River Phoenix.

                                  Many parts of the film are explained to you which makes you think about things from a different perspective and understand why certain things were included. For example, there is a scene involving leaches which you learn comes from Stephen King's childhood.

                                  One part I did find amusing what that apparently Keifer Sutherland (who plays a bully in the film) stayed on character for the duration of filming so the four younger boys were genuinely scared of him.

                                  Conclusion
                                  As you have probably gathered, I love, love, love this film! It is really easy watching and gives across a very simple yet extremely affective message. I wouldn't really class this as a feel good film as there are parts which are sad but I love films that make you sit back and think about your own character and the way you live you life, and for me, this film really does that. Another great bonus of this film is the soundtrack which features songs such as Stand By Me - Ben E King, Everyday - Buddy Holly and Great Balls Of Fire - Jerry Lee Lewis.

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