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I bought a Siemens C35i on the Virgin Mobile network a few weeks ago. Originally I had wanted a Nokia 3310 but for an extra £10 I could have so many more features! Don't let the pictures put you off - I wasn't convinced at first and thought it was going to be a chunky phone that just didn't look cool, but how wrong was I! It very small (110g) and looks fantastic - lets face it part of the decision to buy a phone is how it looks! It's a dual band, WAP phone, with a modem, clock/date, calculator, currency converter, chronometer(alarm/stopwatch/countdown), appointments, 4 games (yep they're pretty naff), a ringtone composer, vibration alert .. what more could you want?! One good feature of the phone is it's Battery Care option which discharges the battery for you and then charges it up. You can attach pictures/symbols to people in your phone book so when they call you get a picture on the screen instead of a name! For text messaging it has this predictive text input which i find quite annoying but can be switched off. Also you can send pictures between other Siemens phones with your messages. The internet function is easy to use and the only bad thing I would say is that it's a bit difficult to know whether you're connected or not.. apart from that it's a fantastic little phone - OK you can't change the faces or download ringtones but if you want more than that it's well worth a look.
I decided to look for a new "pay as you go" mobile in January and the choice was overwhelming. I whittled the network choices down to One2One or Virgin mobile. I finally decided to go with a Virgin Mobile as a friend had recommended it, it had the phone I wanted and the price was right. I must say that I'm very impressed. Virgin Mobile uses the One2One network, so has quite extensive coverage (well as much as I need at least), calls to voice mail are free and after spending 15p a minute for the first 5 minutes of each day, calls drop to just 5p a minutes for the rest of the day - as far as other call charges are concerned the cost is pretty much the same as all the other pay as you go network costs. At the moment (until 18th March) if you buy a Virgin phone (in the shops or on the internet) and £20 of call time you get £20 off the phone - it equates to a free £20 of call time (plus £5 you get already with the phone). I must say I was a bit dubious to begin with seeing as it's a relatively new service and thought that I may have problems with reception. So far so good and it looks like another Branson venture that will succeed. I definately am glad I bought my virgin mobile!
I went to Nottingham this weekend and decided that having travelled all that way we should look around furthur than the bars! We opted for Nottingham Castle & it's caves - though if you take a tour the guide will say it actually hasn't actually been a castle for a long time and since then has been a duchal palace and is now a museum. It cost £2 to get in as it was the weekend, though I must say I was very impressed to learn that during the week it is free. The grounds are nice - plenty of grass to sit on in summer and a playground for the children! The best bit though has to be the museum - it is really interesting. There is plenty of information about Nottingham and it's castle through the ages with displays and videos to watch. There's a section more designed for children with plenty of things for them to interact with and also various art exhibitions with the work of many local artists displayed. All this for free (during the week) - pretty impressive in this day and age. An optional extra which would cost £3.50 in the week but is just £1 at weekends is the tour of the caves below the castle. The tour guides are volunteers from the local civic society (if memory serves me well) and certainly know their stuff. The tour took about 45 minutes and involves a lot of walking up and down stairs, but you definately learn a lot about the history of the place. The only down side about the whole place was the cafe - the service was poor and very slow and the cutlery was dirty. Putting that aside, if you're in Nottingham and have a few hours to spare give it a look, you'll definately learn something and may even enjoy it!
I first heard of Independent Energy one evening in February. In an attempt to get rid of the saleswoman I agreed to what I thought at the time was furthur information being sent to me .. this was however not the case. On the doorstep the saleswoman had filled in a form. On this form my partner was named as the person on the bill and I signed the form in my name, which is totally different. We had a dispute over whether or not I would hand over my bank details and she finally agreed that I would not. We waited for the "information" I had requested and heard nothing. That is until about 2 months ago. My partner received a letter through the post informing him that our gas supply would change on such and such date and could he please provide a meter reading. By this point we had decided that since it had taken them over 5 months to contact us, we would not bother changing our gas supply. He called their customer line and asked for this request to be cancelled - they said fine. We thought nothing more until we had a second letter requesting a meter reading, after which he called up again and explained that he had never requested our supply to be changed or signed anything. In response, they mailed us a copy of the "Contract" - this turned out to the be paper I had signed back in February with my signature and his name. He called up again and requested that this be cancelled as surely I should not be able to sign for the gas supply to be changed in his name. Anyway they said find we'll cancel the request. About a week later we received a "sorry you're leaving us" letter from British Gas and a "welcome letter" from Independent Energy - the swines had been round and read our meter and changed us over. We were, needless to say, furious and called up British Gas to switch back and Independent Energy to complain - nothing came of it, we switched back to British Gas (who I must say were extremely helpful) and although we
were still cross we thought nothing of it. The other week the whole thing started again, only now it's our electric that they want to change over. He has made numerous telephone calls to the company who seem to have adopted a new approach - answer the call and then forward it on to somewhere else, in our case Age Concern (or something similar). Finally when we had the letter from the SWEB the other day saying sorry you're leaving he called up both companies and hopefully this is the end of it. Independent Energy UK Ltd have caused us and various people living round about us, no end of hassle and have given no apologies in return. Although I have read some of the other opinions and some people are happy with this company - my advice would be to steer well clear unless you definately want to change. Update: Well it's now Mar 2001 and the saga is ongoing. In the past 3 months we have had numberous bill payment demands requesting we pay £19.XX for the gas we used whilst they were supplying us. After each bill we contacted the gas company, explaining the situation and each time we were guaranteed by the person on the end of the line that our account would be cleared and not to worry. Then in January we were sent a final demand and threat of legal proceeding from NPower the receivers for the company. Again we were reassured by the person on the end of the line that this was a mistake, the account would be cleared and not to worry. Well the past 2 days post has bought 2 new bills - they now want £40.XX (apparently the previous bills gave us a £20 discount due to the inconvenience caused!) and when my partner called the given number he was basically told we'd have to pay. He spoke to the manager, explained the situation and was told that it wasn't their problem and we'd used the gas so we'd have to pay. The matter is still not resolved and we're currently trying to get some advice on the situation.
Having a dog and 2 cats who never seem to give moulting a miss, buying a new vacuum cleaner that actually did the job was very important. My first choice was a dyson, but my partner was convinced this was just because "it's a pretty colour" - he's probably right! Needless to say after trying numerous out in Currys we finally opted for the Electrolux. What a bad choice this has proved to be. This vacuum cleaner can be bagless or bagged depending on your preference - we keep it on bagless as the amount of dog hairs we hoover up means that after one tour of the house, it's full. Another feature of this cleaner is that it has wall to wall cleaning, an extra filter and came with a few attachments to get into those difficult to reach areas. It all sounded marvellous. However, I have found this cleaner does not live up to my expectations. The bagless feature is useful for ease of emptying, but seems to fill up remarkably fast and when half full the suction seems to drop dramatically. The wall to wall cleaning feature does not happen as far as I can tell and to get into the skirting boards I will invariably have to use the attachments. Finally, within a year of having the cleaner and having returned it once already for this fault during the warranty period, where the hose plugs into the cleaner, the plastic join seems to have slipped away/snapped and no longer provides an adequate seal, thus making the suction even worse. All in all considering that this cleaner cost us approximately £180, I would definately not recommend it to anyone and am seriously considering purchasing a Dyson.
I hadn't heard of coasteering until recently when a group of us gave it a go for a friends birthday. The basic idea of coasteering combines rock climbing, swimming, jumping off cliffs and scrambling around the edge of the water over the rocks. It was brilliant - there were about 12 of us and 2 instructors and we set off for approximately 3 hours kitted out in wetsuits, helmets and lifejackets. First we climbed down the steep cliff path to the rocks at the bottom, clambered/swam through a hole in the rock to the open sea. Then it was time for 3 hours of swimming to the next set of rocks, clambering out, over and around the rocks, jumping back in and swimming some more. As the time went on, the rocks we were jumping off were getting higher and higher until we reached the finale - a rock face which we could jump off up to about 35-40ft high - I was too scared for this, but it was entertaining watching the others try it! I'm not a particularly strong swimmer but this wasn't a problem. Armed with lifejackets which kept you afloat and team mates to drag you along when needed - anyone can give it a go. It's a brilliant, totally exhilarating experience and I'd recommend it to anyone. Here's the website of the instructors we used, based in St Davids, Wales - http://www.tyf.com/
I joined the Quality Paperbacks Direct bookclub originally as a colleague wanted the free book for recommending a friend and seeing as I read a lot I thought it would be a good idea. Initially it is quite good, you receive 4 or 5 books for around 50p-£1 each (depending on the offer at the time). The delivery is always good - I was never kept waiting for my books and never had to chase them up. The only thing that I found annoying at the start was that you will receive a recommended choice book each month and unless you reply stating that you don't want this book and order another one, it gets sent out automatically - you then have to pay to return it. Needless to say if you're organised this shouldn't pose a problem. You do have to suscribe for a minimum of a year or 6 books, but as each issue of the magazine has a wide choice of discounted books this was not a problem. All in all I was reasonably happy ... that is until I tried to terminate my subscription! The telephone number provided on the statements took me to an automated voicemail system allowing you to order books, check your order, pay your bills .. everything you'd want except to cancel the subscription. On selecting the choice to speak to a customer service advisor I was told that I was in a queue and to be patient - after a couple of seconds however, I was cut off! It was impossible - I tried daily for a couple of weeks at different times of the day, called Directory Enquiries to check the number (they had no entry for the company - which seemed a little weird) and in the end I was forced to write them a letter to cancel my membership. Some may say I should have done this initially, but given a choice I do prefer to speak to a person, as I then am sure that what I wish to be done, has been done. Although my subscription was cancelled promptly, this experience left me feeling that there was something a bit dodgy about them. Maybe it's just me, but I think that knowi
ng that you cannot speak to a person should you need to does not inspire much confidence and I am always a little wary of mail order magazines now unless I know that they are large/well known.
A few months ago we popped into our local B&Q to purchase a tool shed. Things started well, we selected the shed, went to the information desk to enquire about it and were told there were none in stock but more were arriving on the following Friday, so to pop back then. This wasn't a problem, so we popped back on the Friday evening. The first hurdle was to find someone in the "gardening" department to help. The information desk called for a salesman and left us standing for nearly 20 minutes. They called for someone again and left it another 10 minutes with no apology. When the saleswoman arrived they informed me that there were none in stock. I explained that I had been in the week before and advised to return as they were expecting some in. They wandered off to explore the newly delivered stock and returned after another 10 minutes to explain that they hadn't arrived. Needless to say we were slightly annoyed by this time. The store manager arrived and to give him his due he was very helpful. He asked if we were prepared to go to another store nearby and then offered to call round them to find out which one had the shed in stock. To cut a long story short he reserved us a shed in the local B&Q warehouse. The redeeming factor was that we arrived at the store and the shed was all ready for us, we simply paid and left. However, on packing the shed into the car we found that they had forgotton the screws/nails .. We returned to the desk and explained the situation - nearly 45 minutes later we received the missing items. To be perfectly honest, although the staff do try and they are busy, keeping people waiting that long without any explanation must lose them a lot of business and is not good for customer relations. At the end of the day we will probably continue to buy things in B&Q as the selection is good and the price is right, however, I will think twice about purchasing things I cannot pick right off the shelf and take to the checkout.
Last year I won a Breville homee breadmaker in a competition. I had only made bread once before and it was a complete disaster so I was quite keen to see how easy this automated process was going to work. If you like freshly made bread and have just enough patience to chuck a few ingredients into a "bowl" then this is the gadget for you! It's taken a few attempts to get the right blend of ingredients for the 'perfect' loaf but it really is simply a case of throwing in the flour, butter, yeast etc into the metal container in the machine, select the required program and 4 hours later, freshly baked bread! This particular machine has numerous settings allowing you to choose you particular choice of bread. The instructions are all very easy and the buttons on the front are clearly marked. You can set the machine so that it will start it's 4 hour cycle at say 4 in the morning so there is fresh bread ready for breakfast - what more could you ask for?! Waking up to the smell of newly baked bread is defnately a good start to the day!
Ok that was a slight exaggeration(!) but ... it was definately worth the investment. It's not until you give an electric toothbrush a go, do you realise how little cleaning your teeth with a normal toothbrush actually does. It's small round rotating head is perfect for reaching all places in your mouth and the 2 minute alert lets you know when you've brushed enough. Once charged the unit will last for about a week with 2 of us, so if going on holiday you'll need to take the charger or a normal toothbrush. The heads last a few months and are quite expensive, £7.90 (ish) for 2, but the benefits far outway the cost. Since I started using the Oral B plak removers toothbrush about a year and a half ago, I have noticed that the visits to the dentist involve a lot less scraping/cleaning than previously - definately a plus point! An all round good toothbrush, well worth the initial investment and results in teeth that look and feel very clean and should last a lifetime!
The original book was hilarious .. right from the start I knew it was going to be a book I'd enjoy. I looked forward to the sequel and received it for Christmas. Reading the first few pages I was put off by the fact it appeared that Bridget had actually sorted out her life, had a perfect boyfriend, perfect body etc etc, so I packed it ! Needless to say, I picked up the book again this weekend, persevered through her happy times and low and behold it wasn't long before she was actually back to her original self, making a mess of everything and someone you could identify with!! I couldn't put it down. Being a sequel this book doesn't have the advantage of being original and does have a lot to live up to, however, there are some brilliant parts - my favourite being the Mr Darcy interview which is just hilarious!! This book is definately not as good as the original but it is worth a read.
It's amazing isn't it - how one 5 minute car journey to or from work can totally alter your outlook on the day.. The thing about other drivers that annoys me most is the lack of courtesy shown to their fellow drivers. On a few occasions recently I have shocked myself at how angry I get when people take me for granted. Working in a business park where for some reason people park anywhere (especially if it's going to get in the way), you will invariably have to wait for someone to pass before you can carry on. This is just my opinion, but the most rude and confrontational drivers I have encountered seem to be businessmen, both young and older, in large cars! On many occasions I have been driving down the road, only one car width and they will deliberately drive at me, forcing me up onto the pavement out of the way. They seem to assess you, like, you're a woman and in a small car, therefore easy to intimidate - unfortunately they're right. If they don't ram you off the road and you wait patiently for them to come through, they will ignore the fact you are sitting there - women on the other hand are usually more courteous and will give a wave. It's things like these that wind me up and I should imagine I'm not the only person. There are two things I would say to anyone reading this who is one of these drivers: - one little gesture of thanks can make the other person feel so much better - just because you have a larger car/company car than another person, it doesn't give you more rights on the road.
I haven't been to Dawlish/Dawlish Warren for a few years but it was always somewhere we'd visit in summer on a Sunday afternoon for a stroll, or for our Geography field trips at school (apparently there was some good coastal erosion to be found there!). Just up the coast from Teignmouth and about 30-40 minutes in the car from Torquay, Dawlish is a pretty, small town. If you catch the train down to the South West you pass through/near the town and the views are spectacular out over the bay. From memory Dawlish is one of the few places (maybe the only place) in Britain where they have black swans and they also have good floral displays. There are amusement arcades and some shops. Dawlish Warren is a Nature Reserve and just a little furthur up the coast from Dawlish. It offers numerous caravan parks for the tourists (do a search on the internet for Dawlish and you should get back 5/6). The beach is long, 2 miles of golden sands and rock pools, backed up by the protected sand dunes. There are yet more amusement arcades, shops full of the usual touristy knik naks and places to eat and drink. The promenade is long and flat for those with pushchairs/wheelchairs. For those visiting for the day there's a large car park within easy walking distance of the beach.
I reckon I'm pretty lucky to have been born in Torquay and to have spent most of my life in such a beautiful place. I also have the added advantage of still having family living there so even though I've moved away there is always a good excuse (like I need one!) to return. Being a sea-side town there is plenty to do both in Torquay and the surrounding towns and villages. There are numerous beaches from the sandy Torre Abbey Sands to the pebbly Oddicombe and Babbacombe beaches (if you go to Oddicombe there's a cliff railway you can catch down to the beach and up again which is fun and saves your legs!!) to the nudist Pettitor beach. There's the Model Village and Paignton Zoo which are always worth a trip. Cockington is a particularly pretty little village just off the sea-front with horse draw carriages and thatched cottages. There are numerous deep sea fishing trips you can take or simply a boat accross the bay to Brixham, a pretty fishing village about 7 miles along the coast from Torquay. There is plenty of accomodation to be found from camping just outside the town, to the various 4 and 5 star hotels. The nightlife varies from pubs, restaurants and nightclubs to theatre shows and strolls along the prom. Bear in mind that this is a VERY busy town during the summer season and getting to Torquay can take a fair while and a lot of patience on the M5/A38. The town is brimming with tourists and the vast ammounts of foreign language students who decend on the town to attend the many language schools in the area. All in all it's a great place to live and definately a place to visit! The English Riviera has something for everyone and caters for all price ranges.
This film is slightly confusing to begin with, but has great one-liners and is very watchable. It follows the lives of two very rich step-siblings who's idea of fun is to manipulate the lives of others. The step brother, Sebastian, (Ryan Phillippe) is obsessed by step sister, Kathryn (Sarah Michelle Gellar). In the search for new & exciting entertainment, the ultimate bet is set between the two. Sebastian must seduce the new headmaster's virgin daughter - should he fail, Kathryn keeps his vintage car, should he succeed he "wins" Kathryn. This is a good film, a definate must if you're a teen movie fan. Ryan Phillippe is excellent and though he reminds me of Jude Law (it must be the clothes/hair) and Sarah Michelle Gellar plays a totally different character from her usual squeaky clean prom queen type. This is a light hearted black comedy of sex and seduction and is worth a glance.