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I know that I am no spring chicken but its not only women in their twenties and thirties who decided to go under the knife.
I am a lady of a certain age shall we say. I take fairly good care of my body- I am not overweight, I go to the gym 4-5 times a week, dont smoke and hardly drink. SAdly there are some things that are just out of my control-namely gravity!!
Yes I admit it. I had a boob job! in january this year I had a breast uplift with very small implants and I cant tell you how much better it has made me feel despite the scars!!!
Over the last 5-6 years I have seen 3 different consultants and they all told me basically the same thing. I would need a breast lift (mastpexy). I was put off this by the fact that the operation would leave a vertical scar from my nipple downwards and so decided it wasnt for me.
However things change and I decided to go and see a consultant again. This time I went via mybreast and went to a local private hospital and saw a consultant.
He took down some details then had take off my bra so he could have a look. We decided that I would go for a breast lift and later I decided to have a small implant as I was going to have a scar anyway so I may as well have a slightly bigger pair of boobs as well for the small amount of extra it would cost.
I paid nearly £5000 and In january had the operation. I took a week and a half off work as holiday but to be honest felt like I could have gone back after a week.
When I first saw the scars I must admit I cried my eyes out. My breasts were black and blue with bruises which lasted about 3 weeks. I was sore and my breasts were like rocks and I did regret it just for a while. When I first had to change the dressing I passed out!! what a wuss I am!
I took photos from pre op almost on a daily basis so I could see what the differences were. At first my breasts were very mis-shapen, lumpy, and just plain weird but now 10 months later they are great.
Ok I still have scars but they have faded so much they are so not easy to see but the difference they have made to me is fantastic. I dont wear low cut tops as that just is not me but I know that what I have makes me feel great and I dont have to feel I need to show them off. A few of my colleagues both male and female knew what I was having done and the first day back was a bit embarassing but soon got over that.
Before the op my breasts were like old balloons that have been behind the sofa for a couple of months-all soft and saggy and I would never even look at them myself let alone let any one else see them but now I dont have a problem with getting changed in communal areas and feel just so much better about myself that I wish I had done it years ago when I first had it in mind.
Some people may say that its all false and I am pretending to be something that I am not but I dont see it that way. Women colour their hair to look and feel better, wear make up to look and feel better and wear nice clothes for exactly the same reason. I just took it a step further. I am happy now with my body and dont have any yearnings to get loads more surgery done and I dont regret it for an instant.
The Park Inn Hotel in Walsall belongs to the Rezidor chain of hotels. I had no idea who this was as I had never heard of them but I looked at the website for the Hotel and it looked ok- all mod cons etc plus it was £50 for one night for two people including breakfast so I booked it- and it was where I needed to be. The hotel has approximately 121 rooms.
The hotel Web-site says it is close to Bescot stadium. I am not a football person and what I didn't know that Bescot stadium is a football ground. Its so close I could have spat on the pitch! It wasn't a problem though as all rooms were double glazed and there wasn't much noise coming through. Not sure how you would get on traffic wise if you were arriving when a match was due to be played as the road its off is the one that all traffic must go down for the football.
Its located close to junction 9 on the M6 (Ikea territory!) and was fairly easy to find although the Hotel is set back a bit and can be easily missed. There is ample free parking as well in a well lit car park but not a secure car park in that anyone could essentially park there as there didn't seem to be any barriers etc.
The foyer was pleasant and very modern. Check in was faultless and room key assigned. There is a lift available but I was only on first floor so walked up.
First impression of the room was good. Double bed, TV, tea making facilities, hairdryer-all usual stuff you would expect to find. TV included some satellite channels at no cost as well as some pay per view channels. Internet was also there but never tried this so don't know if it's a payable service or not.
The bathroom was very modern. It had a walk in power shower of the type that has no door. The shower itself was fabulous-very powerful and hot although the spray did go into the rest of bathroom a tad. The basin was a stainless steel jobby- great to look at but a pig to clean-luckily I didn't have to do this! Plug was very strange though as you had to kind of push it so it rotated.
There were more than enough towels and they were of the very white, big and fluffy kind. Hair/shower gel was attached to wall as well just in case you had forgotten yours. There were some complimentary items such as sewing kit, toothpaste etc available at reception but I did not ask for these.
To me one major drawback of the room was that it had all laminate floor and no carpet. Not only did this feel cold underfoot but did not do much for noise absorption. Now I know that hotel bathrooms are never brilliant and I always feel bad using them for noise echo reasons (you ladies know what I mean!) but this one may just as well have been in the main bedroom with just a curtain between it and the bed. Whether it was due to no carpets or what but I swear I could hear my partner breathing when he was in the bathroom as noise travelled that easily!!
The room had air-con and fan but it seemed fairly complicated so I left the settings as they were.
We went downstairs to the bar/café area and had a coffee as the net said it was Costa. It was nice but expensive. I had a cappucino which came in one of those hot toddy type glasses with a biscuit. It cost £2.95 which I thought was a bit overpriced as the same in Costa costs about £2 but for a much bigger one.
Evening meals can be had at the hotel too. I had a look at menu but didn't eat there. It ranged from bangers and mash at £7.95 ish to steaks etc at about £21. We didn't eat there in the evening so cannot comment on that but if breakfast was anything to go by then am glad we didn't!
Breakfast was a self service type-continental and full English. I don't know if it was the fact they were busy or maybe they had less staff than normal but service was bad. I had to clear my own table, get own cutlery, which was fine.
I decided to opt for an English breakfast but most of the items were empty so waited for them to be replenished. Sadly they didn't replenish all at once. They bought sausages out. Then a few minutes later some bacon, beans were already there but mushrooms were empty as was the scrambled eggs. I waited a few minutes and nothing else was forthcoming so started to fill plate. After I started eating more stuff was bought so I had to go back up but by this time rest of the stuff was cooling on my plate so not good. Toast was also self serve and not the quickest it has to be said.
There were no cups for tea and , as this was only self-service with only one machine , there was a queue. Some cups came out of kitchen but were not the cleanest so asked for some more. The food I had was good just a shame it could not have at come at the same time.
Overall to be honest I don't think I would bother going back. The shower was great and also the towels and TV. Minus points were the hard flooring and bad service at breakfast plus the hotel alarm went off for about 30 seconds at 7.00 am Sunday morning and had no idea if there was a real fire or someone had just pressed a button!
I recently started 'growing my own' after getting an allotment for the first time this year. I really hadn't a clue as I had only grown flowers up to then. I found a website called 'growfruitandveg 'which I think is a forum set up by the people who produce the magazine. I saw the mag mentioned on there and decided to subscribe. Its aimed not only at allotment gardeners but also those who may grow fruit and veg in their garden or even in pots on a patio.
It costs roundabout £30 if you do a search on the net and this covers 12 issues and is produced monthly and sent straight to you via the post.
Each month covers what you should be doing that month (great for beginners like me) a section on vegetable growing and looking after and a section on fruit growing. There is also an 'ask the expert' page for questions, and seasonal recipies.
There are useful artciles each month too. The August issue for example has an article on organic gardening, compost making , keeping chickens and slug control amongst other things. There are articles useful for both beginners and seasoned hands too. There are also articles now and agin on things such as laying paths, making a cold frame and winter protection.
For 3 issues I have also had packets of seeds-beetroot, chile and salad which is a added bonus!And also a garden planner for the wall came with one issue.
I think the subscription can also be sent to someone as a gift if you know anyone that wants to grow their own fruit or vegetables.
If you are interested in growing things to eat then I would really recommend this magazine-especially for the winter months when all the planning can be done from the sofa!
I had not been to Warwick Castle since I was a kid at school (believe me thats a long time ago!) and a friend and myself decided to spend the day there a couple of weeks ago. We had been looking for a day out that wasnt far away (Ilive in Midlands) and didn't cost too much but was also a 'good day out' . In the end we chose Warwick Castle and what a great da we had,
I booked online throughLast Minute.com who were doing a special price promotion. The advert was a bit confusing but I took it to mean 2 people for £10. This was a great saving on the proper price of £15.95 per adult if you pay at the gate or a few pound less if you book in advance. I thought it was £17.95 each when I went but have checked this online and I must have been wrong.
We went on a Saturday and got there jsut after they opened at 10 am and there was a slight queque but not much of a wait. I fully expected the price to be £10 each when i got to the front but no it was 2 for £10 which was an absolute bargain.
On the day I went there were no special events on. At half term and holidays they tend to do things like jousting, falconry displays and things of that nature but we were both still thrilled.
I remember when i went there as a kid going up a really high, wining staircase turret things and was so scared I got a panic attack and wanted to see if I could find it again! We started off by going all up to the top of the towers and walking along a rampart kind of thing. The views from the top were great but it took an awful lot of step climbing to get there so would not be possible for anyone with walking disabilites or heart problems either.
After we had climbed up all the things we could climb up I couldnt find the one I remembered from before but noticed there were a couple of places where you could not access and maybe it had been one of those.
From there we went to the main apartments which were reproduced as a royal weekend party in 1898 given in honour of the then Prince of Wales omplete with Madame Tussaud type waxworks .
The best bit for me though was the Great Hall! Loads of armour and things including knights in armour on horses!! And swords which you can pick up !They are chained to the wall but you can still get a feel for how heavy they were. There are some more rooms here as well with a waxwork of Henry V111 and some of his wives which are very realistic. There are also some lovely stained glass windows on the gallery which I took some lovely photographs of even though that kind of things really doesnt interest me.
Outside there are some gardens which I only visited fleetingly as it was a bit cold and a large hothouse with various large plants in. There is a peacock garden but There were only a couple of peacocks about as they must have been in the warm somewhere.
I also visited the mill house which is where electricy was generated from the river and there is the biggest battery I have ever seen there. This leads to a really nice walk along the river but there are some works been done due to flood damage I think it was said so there is some building works here at the moment.
there are a couple of places which sell hot and cold drinks which were reasonably priced I guess. I cant remember exactly but I think a large cup of tea was about £1.30 ish. If you want food there are a couple of restaurants there which sells hot food but I did not go in either so cannot comment. Toilet faciliteswere pleasant enough and were dotted about so there was always one not too far away.
If you have children there is a childrens play area for them to let off a bit of steam and aghost tower to keep them entertained but there was a queue here so I didnt wait.
All in all it was great day out for adults as well as kids. There is the usual souvenir shop selling replica swords as well as the usual sweets, soft toys and fridge magnet kind of things.
Prices seem to vary depending on when you go and if you book in advance or not. At the moment price on the gate is !15.95 adults and £10.45 children or a bit ess if you book in advance. There is an offer at the moemnt also of £30 for 2 adults and 2 children if you book in advance.
For Christmas they are putting an lots of things. ther are ice sculptured, a groot, christmas trees and treasure trils type of things but check their site or prices as they go up at the end of November. i think they are also having a craft weekend as well.
Its a great place to visit but have a scout about for prices as there are oftren special offers on. Otherwise a family of four could be an expensive day out
I have read a few of the bereavement reviews on here and all of them come from the heart and its good to know that in times when you have lost someone whether to disease or in an accident or whatever that there are people you can talk to even if you have never met them before and sometimes its better that you dont actually know these people.
Sadly its a fact of life that when someone close to you dies apart from the emotions you are feeling at the time you also have to deal with all the legal matters and other family matters at a time when you are more than likely feeling pretty low yourself.
My mother died a few weeks ago after battling with cancer. For the last few months she spent more time in hospital than out and although we all knew that things were not good it still stupidly came as a shock to us all when she did die.
Apart from the death itself I found it difficult to deal with everything that you have to deal with in the first few wekks. From them having to carry out a possible post mortem (thankfully it never came to this) to dealing with the funeral directors, pension people, utility companies etc was a very big learning curve for me and I guess for everyone else who has to do this.
My mom had a rented flat so there was nothing major to sort out in that respect. She also had very little money so that bit was fairly easy too but what I found really hard was going through all her stuff after she died as I only had 3 weeks to clear out the flat.
To be fair most of the stuff she had was compete rubbish but it must have meant something to her and I felt really guilty as I was taking bagfuls of stuff to the tip. I dont think that she had ever thrown away a card in her life whether it be birthday, christmas etc!! there were loads.
I now have a huge box of photos I am going to put into some kind of order to share with the rest of the family.
After having to go through her things in this way made me think really hard about my things and what would happen to all my stuff if I were to suddenly drop down dead tomorrow.
It has also spurred me on to sort out my own finances and important documents. My mom was the traditional one bank account type of person but all mine are online with no letters etc so my family would have a very hard time indeed trying to sort my finances out. I am also going to write a will. I have siad this for ages but its really spurred me on as I had no ideas what funeral wishes my mom had so just carried everything out as if it were for me and what I would like.
She will be missed this Christmas
I wanted to get some photo gifts as Christmas presents and saw that Photobox had a special offer on in October in that if you bought certain things it was buy one get one free! This type of printing is just one of the things they do. They also carry out printing of regular photos and have sites where you can just upload your photos to share them with friends but my review will concentrate on ordering photo gifts from them.
For the choosing of photo gifts after choosing what item you want whether it be coasters, diaries, greetings cards or whatever you choose, you first have to upload the digital photos which are on your pc which are then loaded into an album in your photobox account. The next step is to get the photos from this album onto whatever item you have chosen by simply dragging it from the album onto your item. On the screen. That's how it was supposed to work but I had a lot of problems with it .
I decided that I was going to buy 2 mugs. I got the photos into my album no problem, I then chose the style of image I wanted (there are various mug designs suitable for men, babies, children etc) and ran into problems when I tried to drag my images across. Maybe I was just unlucky but it did take me 3 goes to actually get the pictures dragged.
Once I managed to get the images onto the mug design there was an opportunity to do a bit of manipulation of the photo such as rotating the image and correcting the size but if you have anything more to do than this its best if its done before you upload your images in the first place. You also get a chance to see what the image looks like all round the mug which was quite good and there is a little smiley face if your image is good quality (and maybe a sad face if its not!)
I paid a total of £10.98 for 2 mugs with a different photo on each and a different background deign on each. You also have the chance to add some text- in my case it was 'Happy Christmas 2008'.- but I don't have to have the same words on each mug. I also opened my Photobox account via Quidco so should have a £4 cashback and have just found out that this has been raised to £5. However Photobox will only give you the money after the cookie has been there for 60 days . If like me you clear your cookies on a regular basis you must remember not to clear this one. Also with all the problems I had getting my photos on I think the tracking process may have not accepted my account so I will probably not get the £4 from Quidco.
The mugs came about 2 weeks later and must admit that they were packaged extremely well. They came in a box which could have held up to 4 mugs and were very well protected. I guess if you had dropped it on the ground with some force they would have broken but they got to me in one piece!
I would order more photo items from them again but not sure if I would do so at full price as my local Boots and other photo shops do them at a similar price but without the p and p charges. Normal price for the mugs is £7.99 each which I would not pay.
I found the site easy to navigate but the problems of getting the images across to my chosen product was very frustrating but would not stop me doing it again if the price was right
I really don't enjoy drinking coffee apart from the occasional treat of a cappucino at Costa so seemed a bit silly me having one of these coffee makers but I love it!!
I first tried it at a friends house and I usually only drink tea but she didn't have any and didn't want to refuse so had one of the chocolate drinks from the Dolce Gusta and loved it!
The thing I like about this machine is that its so easy to use and you can make a gorgeous cup of coffee for just one person if you want without any waste.
Once the jug is filled up with water its just a matter of popping one of the bought pods into the machine and click and in what seems like a minute you have a lovely hot drink. I adore the chocolate, cappucino and mocha with the latte machiato being my fave I think.For me the Lungo is a bit too strong and I have yet to try the Cappucino Ice version and they also do a decaff version
Its so easy as there is no mess, nothing to really clean apart from the water holder every time you fill it up but as it only has water in and not coffee its very easy to keep clean,
Perhaps its just me but I always feel that the drinks are never as hot as they could be. I can always drink them fairly quickly it has to be said but for me this is the only drawback.
I got mine from Argos and they come in black, ivory and a red finish. Ther may be other colours but these were the only ones available at Argos. It also comes with a starter pack of a cup and saucer, a tall glass type coffee cup and some pods of different drinks but this may have been a special promotion. The drink capsules themselves are available at most major stores and come in boxes which cost about £3.20 ish for 16 or you can maybe buy cheaper online
I seemed to be eating an awful lot of yogurt so thought I would buy a yogurt maker rather than try to mess about with heating milk and leaving it in a flask over night like I used to-which never worked.
I bought the Easiyo from Lakeland as there doesn't seem to be much of a price difference wherever you go and I have one next to where I work.
After reading the instructions it seems fairly foolproof.
I first fill the white plastic outer jar with boiling water up to the level indicated. Second step in the process is to use the supplied plastic screw top jar and put the packet of yogurt mix in it. You then mix it with cold water, give it a shake so all the powder is dispersed. After this all you have to do is pop the yoghurt mix into the vacuum type white jar and leave it preferably overnight. Next day-hey presto! A whole litre of yummy yoghurt!! The main drawback to the Easiyo system is that it's so easy I am eating far too much yoghurt. I am sure eating half a kilo a time cant be good for you!!
There are various packet mixes you can buy from plain yogurt, to Greek yogurt to fruit flavoured ones. I have tried most of them and the only one I ever seem to have a problem with is the banana one. It still works but the texture of the yogurt is slightly different from the rest. But still good to eat.
Personally I have never ever had a problem with the yogurt setting. I tend to make it in the evening about 6-7pm then leave it overnight and by the next morning its done. If you don't eat as much as me it will last several days before you make the next batch.
To save on the packet mixes you can also make your own natural yogurt in it as well so instead of using a packet mix just use a tablespoon of a bio natural yogurt and use semi skimmed or whole UHT milk then use as before. This makes a fairly creamy natural yougurt and the process can be used for ever just by keeping a spoonful aside and starting over again!
If your family eats a lot of yogurt this is a good way to get a kilo at a time which works out cheaper than buying a big tubful and even cheaper if you do it without the mix! If you make a natural one you can always jazz it up with some fruit or such like.
I bought the TomTom 520 sat nav recently. I have never had sat nav before and I really don't know why! I am the type of person who can get lost going home so really don't know how this one passed me by.
I love my go520!! One of the main reasons I bought this particular model was the fact that I can also use it as a blue tooth so once I have paired my phone with it if its switched on I can talk through it to answer my phone which I find great!
Once I had charged it up I found it fairly easy after the first time to use it and its certainly paid for itself in unused petrol with me not getting lost!
I guess most sat navs have fairly standard things. This one has UK maps as standard but you can buy others if you are going on a driving holiday. You can set it up to warn you of approaching speed cameras to sound with various noises (I have a cow!) and also to warn you when you are driving over the speed limit. With the speed camera one you have the option to set t to so many seconds before the camera it warns you. I guess this can vary depending on your speed but I find that it always gives me plenty of time to slow down safely if I need to . Most of the safety cameras I have come across are showing but I do know of two on the same stretch of road which do not show up so its not infallible! I was going to enter this one myself but it proved too difficult for me to enter so have not bothered.
There is a choice of voices which are pre loaded and there is the option to download others. I did try this but got really fed up so have gone back to the standard voice, It does have the facility to record your own voice commands but this looks fairly intense so have not even bothered to look at it.
Entering your destination address is easy if it's a house say but I have found problems with entering things such as IKEA even if I enter the postcode. With a shop as big as this its easy to find but it may also happen with smaller places too but on the whole its not a problem. If I enter a post code for IKEA say it will find the road then ask me what number on the road it is which I haven't a clue so I just enter anything!
You can enter your home address to show as your home destination with just one touch which is good. A policeman did tell me though to enter an address a few doors up just in case it ever got stolen and they know where to go to rob!
The satnav itself is a touch screen unit which is simple to use. You can either charge it via the pc or by plugging it into the cigarette lighter while you are driving. If there is charge in it, it can also be used as a hand held device. It attaches to the screen with a suction cup which attaches to the rear of the unit and in my opinion this is not very good. A few times it has just fallen off as I have been driving along and as I caught it pressed a button inadvertently and changed the destination. My mate has an older version and the suction thing on his was far superior.
The screen itself is big and easy to read and you can vary the colours and some of the things it shows you. It gives you an estimated time of arrival or you can switch this bit off. It also gives you your speed and again you can turn this facility off. The way is marked clearly and instructions are clear and precise and given in plenty of time.
All in all I love my satnav and have no problem with recommending this particular model as it has no real drawbacks.
Birmingham International Airport (BHX) is located one mile from junction 6 of the M42 in Birmingham and also within easy reach of the M6 and M5 network.
If you are travelling to it via public transport there is a mono rail link from Birmingham International rail station which is a short distance away and this line goes to Birmingham centre amongst other places.
If you are travelling by car there are a number of options available to you depending on how long you are going to be. At the time of writing there is a surface car park which is free for an hour but be warned- It is such a popular car park that if you are parked right at the very end it may take you 30 minutes to walk to the terminal!
If you are dropping off there is a large surface car park to the front of the terminals where its £1 for 20 minutes but after this the prices shoot up. If you are going to be longer than 20 minutes then I suggest you stay in one of the multi story car parks at the airport.
Like most airports now with the always present threat of terrorist attacks you can no longer drive right outside the terminals which means it's a bit longer for disabled folk to travel and there is no way around this due to the security measures.
The airport has 2 terminals (one and two!) which are next to one another so if you go to the wrong one you can just walk through as its no great distance.
There have been some major building work lately both inside and out and as I write there is a new international pier being built to replace the one that's been there for years but works are not obvious from inside the terminals. Loads of new lighting and seating have been installed to make it more comfortable than before and there appears to be a big choice of places to eat and drink while you are waiting for your flight to be called. There are also lots of places to spend dome of your holiday money too!-Dixons, Boots, Accesorize, sunglass hut to name but a few. And of course the Duty Free shop! For those IT minded there is a wi fi area and access to the internet which is chargeable.
There are plenty of toilets-very important- and to me they are always kept clean and tidy. The general feeling of the waiting areas is also one of cleanliness.
The airport now operates a 'quiet airport' . What that basically means is that you don't get that irritating 'bing bong' announcement every time a flight goes out but you do have to keep an eye out on the departure (or arrival) screen!
The airport is busy at most times I have been there but there seems to be enough waiting areas and I have never not been able to sit down if I wanted to. Once you have dropped off your luggage and got your flight cards it's a short walk to go through to customs and security. At peak times I guess there is always going to be a bit of a delay here but it gives me confidence that they are being thorough and lets face it you do have a coupe of hours to kill usually.
Compared to other large UK airports its certainly got to be one of the top ones and as I live fairly local I will always go from there if at all possible. Its busy but not so busy its maddening and there are things to do to while away those 2-3 hours before the flight goes and plenty of things to eat and drink with some quieter areas if you just want to read. I think there is also a multi faith pace of worship but I have not used this so can not comment.
I must admit to being a bit of an insurance tart! Each year just before renewal time I look around for the best offers and prices and tend to change every year. Last year I had a £50 cash back via Quidco and ultimately chose to go with More than- mainly because of the cost to be honest rather than anything about the company.
I have always regarded house and contents insurance as a bit of a rip off- Think the prices are quite high and I never claim so effectively I am paying for a what if situation. You may be perfectly happy with one insurance company as opposed to the other but sadly the only way you can tell if they are a good company is if you had the misfortune to have to make a claim.
Anyway back to Morethan. I took out a combined buildings and contents plan with them with optional accidental cover as you never know what may happen. I don't have pedal cycles or things like that so didn't have this option but did raise the up a bit in personal possession's. Without checking my paperwork I cant say exactly how much it was but as I couldn't afford a lump sum payment I chose to pay it by monthly direct debit which worked out at about £25 a month
The bank direct debit has worked faultlessly and have never had a problem with this and all the paperwork came through within a few days. Like all insurance policies you have to go through the various clauses with a fine toothcomb as I am convinced that they will wriggle out of it somehow!! But all seemed well.
Everything was ticking along nicely until 2 moths before my policy was due and I had a break in at home. Could have been a lot worse but some things were taken. I deliberated for ages over making a claim as I also had £100 excess and thought if I made a claim by premiums would go up. However the stolen goods amounted to about £1500 so in the end I put a claim in and crossed my fingers.
The police had been round and fingerprinted etc so I had a crime number to Hand when I called. The person on the end of the phone took all the details down including an approx cost of stolen goods and was told as it was over a certain amount they were not allowed to ok it so it had to go to an assessor. An appointment was made.
I was dreading this. Not because I had anything to hide but I thought an assessors job was to ensure they paid out as little as possible and I was ready for a mental fight!
How wrong could I have been.!!! The assessor came and I did have a fair few receipts even though they were about 4 years old. They asked to see where the break in happened, took some photos, arranged a repair man to come out and put it right on the spot. I was asked to make a list of things that were taken and model numbers etc which I was pleased to . Within a week I had full settlement -less my excess- and I was MORETHAN happy!!
2 months down the line and insurance is due again. I tentatively did a search bearing in mind my recent claim. The prices that came were 20-30 in the range of the more than renewal so have gone with them for another 12 months.
Overall I am really ,really pleased with them. Sadly I had to make my first ever claim in 20 years and it was dealt with very quickly and smoothly and with less hassle than I had anticipated. I would recommend them if they are in the same price range as another company.
Diving in the Uk
Ok so you have been on holiday somewhere nice and warm and maybe did a PADI open water or advanced course and now you are back at home thinking 'Can I dive in the UK?'. Do I want to dive in the UK? Is there anything to actually see? The answer is a great big YES!!!!
I have been diving for a good few years now both in the UK and in much warmer places. I would be silly if I said that I enjoyed diving in colder UK waters to say diving in Egypt but it can be just as exciting and its just a different kind of diving!!!
Diving in the UK requires different kit though. I would never entertain diving here without a dry suit but some of the more hardy types wear a thick wet suit in the summer months! Obviously you would have to have some instruction to dive with a dry suit as it's not quite the same as a wet suit. You can do this through your club if you have one and I think PADI also do a dry suit speciality course. You would also need some other bits of kit which your course should make you aware of.
Once you have tried a dry suit there are some places which rent them out but usually you buy one. Like anything you can pay what you want for these but start from £300 upwards but see if there is someone who dives in the UK who is a similar build to you and see if you can borrow it for the weekend!! I got one off Ebay but if you don't know about dry suits ask someone who does or you may be sold a useless thing!
I love diving in the UK. Ok so its fairly cold and I have been diving inland in winter at 3 degrees and believe me it was cold!! But its also a lot of fun and there is loads to see.
Last September (2007) I was in Cornwall at 40m doing my deep dive course and had my new little camera with me and the photos were fantastic.( not blowing my own trumpet here by the way. It was just luck!) There is so much colour there that people at work just didn't believe that they were taken in the UK. Lovely huge pink sea fans if you know where to look, loads of starfish, and cute little crabs and I even took a lovely photo of a cuttlefish trying to get a little shut eye without my strobe in its face!!
I have dived in Pembrokeshire in Wales loads of times and I love it there. The sea beds there have a lovely amethyst colour to them and its just star fish heaven. Seemingly millions of them all different shapes and sizes. Along with the dinner plate sized spider crabs, lobster and edible crabs. All this and the much smaller items too such as the odd nudibranc and small corals.
On one dive in Wales I was also kissed underwater by a playful little seal!! That was magical!
In Wales and Cornwall too there are also loads of wrecks for you to have a mooch about. Some of these are well within easy reach of the surface while others are sort of 35 metres and deeper. All the wrecks have plenty of life on them usually dead mans fingers, cup corals and things like that. A lot of the wrecks are still fairly intact but some would be hard placed to say it was a wreck unless you had been told! There is nothing like going into a wreck that has lain at the bottom of the sea for years and years and there are plenty in UK waters to choose from.
There are even wrecks sunk specifically to make an artificial reef like HMS Scylla , a 113 metre wreck placed just down by Plymouth in 2004 which already has loads of life on it already with wrasse, bib and pollack.
If like me you lives 2 and a half hours away from the nearest coast there is also a number of inland sites which I dive all year round even in the winter and this year we have a new year days dive planned. Don't be put off by others poo-poohing inland sites. They serve a valuable purpose. It gets you used to dry suit diving in a fairly safe environment and you can try out all your new bits of shiny kit, reels, smb etc before that trip to the coast. I meet up with my dive buddies at least once a month in Inland sites all through the year . We have great fun meeting up, diving, getting cold, diving again and going for a bite to eat and generally having a laugh.
Fuji, like other camera manufacturers seem to bring out new models about 2-3 times a year each one with more features, more mega pixels and more little tweaks than the next that its hard to see where it will all stop!
I had a Fuji f31fd which I bought in summer of 2007 when it was just out and now its already been overtaken by the F40 and the f50 and now the all new F100. The F50fd is still available everywhere right now and has many things to offer in a digital compact camera although in my opinion its nowhere near as good as the F31fd!
Ok! So lets see what this camera has to offer!
It has an amazing 12 million mega pixels for those who like the more pixels the better school of thought but in my opinion this is a slight disadvantage in that I understand that the sensor used is the same size as the one that was previously used in the lower megapixel F31fd .
In the case of a digital camera if you want to get satisfying photos from your camera there are a number of things which you have to take into consideration. And having a camera with the most mega pixels is not all what its about Its also the size of the sensor, the lens and the ability to reduce its noise.
I haven't a great understanding of cameras or a huge amount of photography but if there is that huge amount of pixels in a camera that uses the same size sensor as one that has half this then surely something has to give?
In the case of the Fuji F50 its that on the higher ISO settings there is quite a bit of noise evident and in case like me not so long back, you thought that noise was something that comes from people's stereos or kids out playing in the street then I will enlighten you!
The higher the ISO you set for a digital camera the more noise is shown in your finished photo. This shows itself as a grainy type effect with colours showing where there should be none. For instance if you take a photo of a nice blue patch of ocean if there is lots of 'noise' due to maybe a high ISO setting then the photo image will shows little bits of other colours like pink, red , purple and such like.
Ok so lesson over! Basically at high ISO settings -above 800 I have found there is more noise on my images than I would like whereas the earlier F31fd didn't have this problem. This is the only major drawback to the camera though as far as I have used it and I knew about it before I bought it and still enjoy it! The F50 does give you the chance to alter the quality of the settings however so instead of taking images at 12 mega pixels you can take them at 6 mega pixels to try to get over this problem. It does mean that your finished image will look better at an A4 size than A3 but it depends on how big you want to print at. I have not fully looked at this issue yet but am hoping to get some low light shots taken soon to play with this new function.
The camera itself, as most compacts now, is fairly small and light and comes with a camera handle to safeguard you dropping it whilst taking that important shot! The camera itself is easy to hold and fits in the hand well.
The LCD is bigger than in the previous range and its now 2.7 inches which makes it much easier to see your shot. Like other Fuji's it also has a range of scene settings to choose from whether its natural light, partytime, sports etc and as a bonus for me as a diver there is also an underwater setting to boot! This settings helps to restore the colours usually lost when underwater and is great for the low light levels we get here in the UK
As part of the standard functions that most cameras now seem to have are things to make your photos a little better with face detection, red eye correction and this Fuji also has new image stabilisation which helps with camera shake and blurring.
The camera can be used in full auto mode, aperture priority and shutter-priority exposure modes as well as self timer mode so you don't have to be left out of the shot! There is also a choice of auto or custom white balance or various pre loaded white balance settings .
The F50 also has video capability complete with sound and as a bonus it takes the cheaper Sd memory cards or XD picture cards so take your pick. White balance cannot be set on the video as far as I have worked out which is fairly usual.
All in all it's a decent camera for the money. Personally I don't think its as good as the F31fd in the noise department but I have taken loads of shots in different conditions since I bought it and have been very pleased. Downloading your images is a doddle and it even has IR capability to link with other devices that have it as well to get high speed transfer . Like most digital cameras of this range it takes JPEG format and not RAW as in most digital SLR but that's not a problem for me. One minor niggle is the zoom button which is now located on the top of the camera but this is something that you soon get used to.
I hope this review has helped you.