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This is a great website when trying to find a cottage in UK, they also offer cottages in Europe. The site is easy to use and allows you to refine your search by location, occupants, pets, children, family etc. You can also carry out a quick search with minimal information.
The results are clearly displayed with a brief overview, price guide, image, occupancy, reference number and details about pets. Some properties have virtual tours, which are ok but don't give you a sense of scale, but most have a variety of picture showing the various rooms of the property.
You can easily see availability and get a quote on a price for the time period you are wishing to stay for and then follow through and book instantly online.
The after service is great, you pay a deposit at the time of booking and then all of the information is emailed through to you with details of when full payment is required.
You can also view properties on the same complex with different occupancy sizes, making it easy to find the perfect accommodation for your trip.
It's not that easy to go back into the site and find the property to show your friends unless you remember the code of the property.
I love Marian Keyes, I've read all of her books and always try to get them as soon as they come out.
They do all tend to follow a similar plot, Irish woman, great job, looking for love.
This book, however, was a bit different. It started off being a little 'odd' and hard to follow, but I persevered with it. I'm so pleased that I did, it turned out to be one of Marian's best books. It focuses around a house in Dublin, 66 Star Street, which has been converted into several flats. The story follows each of the characters living in this house, and how their lives intertwine.
Some of the subject areas are a little hard hitting, rape, death, violence, but not in a graphic way so it doesn't spoil the enjoyment of reading.
The characters, as usual, are well written and believable, with a good deal of 'personality' woven into the book to make they come to life. There are twists and turns throughout, with some unexpected endings for some fo the characters.
I couldn't put this book down and was glad that I was on holiday when I was reading it, otherwise I might have got in trouble for missing work! I'd recommend this book to any of Marian's fans, but also to those people that like to get lost in a book whilst getting to know some great characters!
Due to a lovely man driving into the back of my Renault Clio I now have a hire car - a vauxhall Astra.
Prior to my accident I was thinking of buying an Astra so was pleased when it arrived so I could test it for a few weeks.
My initial reaction was that it felt very good quality (although, compared to my very old Renault that wouldn't have been hard), the doors were heavy and sturdy.
The seating position of the Astra initially felt very low, I felt that I couldn't see over the steering wheel very easily, but I think that was just because it's a different car to the one I'm used to. After a couple of weeks I've forgotten about it completly
The car is very spacious inside, both in the front and the rear seats and very comfortable. There is certainly enough for 4 large adults to travel very comfortably.
The ride is excellent, very smooth and gentle. The drive is average, the biggest issue I have with the car is the gear box, it feels very 'clunky' particularly from second to third, although, this could be because it's only done 1,000 miles. I keep knocking my elbow on the drivers seat when changing gear.
The car accelorates well and I have confidence in the steering and brakes, I certainly feel safe when driving it.
The only other bug bear I have with this car is the indicators. They have 2 settings, if you gently tap them they come on for 2 or 3 'blinks' and then go off again, if you push them harder they stay on continuously. This takes some getting used to and I found myself either not indicating (because they'd gone out after 2 blinks) or, continually indicating whilst driving on the motorway. I've got used to it now though and it seems to be ok.
The car seems to have quite a low MPG (not sure exactly what I'm afraid as their isn't an indication on the dashboard), I've taken every effort to drive at 70 on the motorway to be as econmical as possible but I am still using a lot more petrol than in my Renault Clio.
I signed up for snapfish.co.uk some time ago and get regular emails from them with special offers. A friend of mine used them to print some canvas', something I've been thinking of doing for some time but felt was very expensive.
I changed my mind very quickly when I saw the quality of the canvas that my friend had delivered and so decided to place my order the next day.
Snap fish is a site that allows you to share your digital photos with friends and family and get them printed either as straight forward photographs or on canvas. Snapfish also offer a wide range of gifts, such as mugs, calendars and photobooks.
Their site is very easy to use and navigate. You register with them, which takes only a couple of minutes and then upload your photographs. From there on it you can then order what you want.
At first I thought that the canvas's were quite expensive (£24.99 for an 8" x 10") but when I saw the final product I was definately sure it was value for money. A friend of mine had had some very cheap canvas' printed and you can certainly tell the difference, the snapfish items are very good quality and I'm proud to hang them on my wall.
Once you've been to the site and placed an order you get special customer discounts, which you can see on the right hand page of the site when you log in. Things like 50% of collage prints or 10 free prints, all useful offers that I will use, not the usual marketing tactics to try to get you to come back to the site.
The customer service team of snapfish are great, very friendly and knowledgeable. They answered my queries very quickly and had all of the information to hand immediately.
The items that I ordered arrived very quickly (within 7 days), they were well packaged and so arrived in good quality.
The only downside of snapfish is the postage, I had to pay £16 for 3 canvases to be delivered, I asked customer service about this and they said that this was due to royal mail as they had to send them as 3 seperate packages, which cost more.
I had my first Gourmet Burger Kitchen experience in London a few years ago and have been banging on about how great it is to all my friends. I was so excited to hear that we were getting one in Bristol (Park Street).
The decor of these 'restuarants' is very modern, lots of wood and chrome, really nice and clean. You do have to wait a while sometimes to get a seat but they have a nice bar area to wait in and I always think that if you have to wait it must be good!
You are seen to your seat and your drink order taken, you are then advised that you order your food at the bar. The menu does what it says on the tin really, - great burgers.
They have a range of burgers, mostly beef but they do do vegetarian options. These come with a variety of fillings, my personal favourite is chicken (which is a whole breaded chicken breast), camembert and cranberry sauce. It is truly delicous, I highly recommend it. The burgers are huge, alright, they do cost £7.50, but it is definately worth it. I never order a side and I usually struggle to finish the burger to be honest but I have tried the chips and they are great too.
The staff are really friendly and the food is served quickly. I've never been disappointed with my burger and neither have any of my friends that I've been with.
This series started out really well. A variety of charcters, some mystery and secrets that you felt excited about as you hoped they would unfold throughout the show.
The first season was great, following the Darling family each charcter had their own plot, with a few twists and turns thrown in. Based in New York, the Darlings are the richest family in the city and so you get to see a side of New York that perhaps you or I would never know about it.
The second series followed these plots even further, with a few interesting twists, however, it got a little silly in the end. Plot stories that were completely unimaginable, charcters appearing for the sake of it and then disappearing again with little mention thereafter.
The Darlings and their antics became silly and in the end I stopped watching this series because it was just unbelievable and a poor attempt at drama.
Rome is a 2 series DVD box set co-produced by the BBC and HBO about, naturally, Rome. Season One concerns the rise and eventual murder of Julius Caesar, while season two deals with the rise to power of Caesars'' adopted son Augustus and his struggle to gain control of Rome after Caesars' death. The show is told roughly from the perspective of 2 Roman soldiers, caught up in the plotting and politics of ancient Rome.
Both series are splendidly acted by a group of well cast actors, winning critical acclaim and many deserved awards. The sets and costumes are lavish and the show has a very believable atmosphere about it. It's very political with many characters vying for power and plotting against friends and family and can be hard to follow if you're not concentrating. The show is full of profanity, sex and violence so if you're easily offended then be prepared, but it's a fascinating and rewarding series giving an insight in to what we believe ancient Rome was like.
The nokia 6301 has been around since the beginning of 2008 and has aged very well. The first thing you'll probably notice about the phone is how slim and lightweight it is, but not at the expense of quality as it has a metal case giving the phone a good, solid feel. Something else you'll notice is the large bright TFT screen, very good for displaying photographs due to its high resolution. Technically, the phones' features are more than adequate for the average person, it boasts a modest 2 mega pixel camera with 8 x digital zoom, but no flash, which would have been useful, video recording facility, mp3 player and fm radio. The 6301 comes with 30 megabytes of onboard memory, pretty good for phones released 2 years ago but a little limited by today's standards. What is welcome is the phones' ability to increase it's memory with SD memory cards, accepting up to 4 gigabytes, turning it into a useful music player.
Probably the best feature of this phone is it's support of Wi-fi. Basically, if you have wi-fi at home or are in a wi-fi hotspot (Starbucks for instance) then you are able to make free calls over the network. As well as being free the you have the added benefit of stronger reception and quicker data connections. The only downside is the strain this puts on the battery.
If you are familiar with Nokia phones then you will find your way around the 6301 with comparative ease: The usual functions are present, Calendar, Bluetooth, E-mail, To do lists alarm clock and games to name a few. The phone also features a mono speaker, vibration and supports Triband.
In the box you get the USB cable to connect to a PC, headphones, charger and, my personal favourite, a matching silver metal docking station for charging the phone on your desk. If it's a reliable, smart looking phone you're after then you could do worse than the 6301, it's not as flashy as many phones on the market today but what it does, it does well.
The Wire is an American TV series spanning 5 series set in Baltimore concerning the efforts of a group of Detectives and their attempts to infiltrate a notorious Drug gang operating in the city. Along the way the show explores the social and economic problems in the cities' school system, political institutions and media organisations, Each series cantering on a different theme. The show has been something of a sleeper hit around the world, winning much deserved critical acclaim about the structure of the show and its ensemble of actors. The show is addictive viewing, one episode per sitting is never enough. The more you invest in the show the more it rewards.
Be careful though as the series is often violent and littered with profanity so if you are easily offended then this may not be for you. It's a police drama like no other, the good guys often aren't that good, and don't always win but that's what gives the show it's realism and grounds it in reality. If it's car chases and explosions you're after then you may be more entertained by 24 or The Shield but if it's outstanding plot and acting performances you enjoy then this is the perfect series.
I, Claudius is the 13 episode BBC2 serial detailing the life of the Roman Emperor Claudius, based on the 1934 books by Robert Graves (I, Claudius and Claudius the God). The series follows the life and times of the first four emperors of Rome, From Augustus to the death of Claudius himself. It's a superbly acted series featuring some fantastic actors and performances including Brian Blessed, Patrick Stewart, John Hurt and, unforgettably, Derek Jacobi's brilliant portrayal of the stuttering, lame emperor Claudius himself.
The series was a landmark on it's release in 1976 and has aged well all things considered. Initially viewers may find it difficult to get past the quite dodgy BBC sets, but they quickly become irrelevant as you are drawn into the plots and intrigues surrounding the early Roman emperors. The performances from all of the cast are superb and if you have an interest in the subject matter then this is a worthy purchase. Some of the subject matter has been cut in order to condense the two books into a 13 hour series but only readers of the books will notice this and it doesn't take away any of the viewing enjoyment.
This TV series is about 3 priests and their housekeeper. Based on Craggy island, each show follows the misadventures of these poor b$stards!
The show has spawned several catchphrases, "ahhh, go on, go on, go on, go on", "drink, feck, arse, girls" and "will you have a cup of tea now".
You don't have to be an expert on catholosism to enjoy this show. It's a simple, well written comedy show that will have you laughing throughout.
Starring Dermot Morgan, Graham Norton & Ardal O'Hanlan, the acting is really good, with some classic moments of TV, the writing is second to none.
The scripting can be a bit close to the bone at times, but I wouldn't say that this was enough to put anyone off. Definately not one for children, mainly due to Father Jack's constant cursing and drinking, but other than that, I think everyone would enjoy this show.
You can get all 3 seasons in a box set for a good price, which is definately worth picking up if you come across it.
The Royle Family! I think if we were all honest we would all admit that there are tiny bits of each of us in this family.
This show, shown on BBC, is literally set in the front room of the Royle household. There's Jim (Rickly Tomlinson), the father, who doesn't lift his finger or move out of his chair, Barbara, the mum (Sue Johnston) and their two children (Caroline Aherne) and of course Nana.
Each show focuses on an evening with the Royles, either watching a certain TV show, or talking about the next door neighbours latest operation. It's a very funny show, I think because we all recognise aspects of the characters, or at least we know people like them. Their's no ground breaking plot, or twists and turns in the story line, it's purely observational, but I think that's why I like it so much. You feel as if you are part of the family, with a fly on the wall view of life behind the windows of any one of the 1,000's of terraced houses in England.
This American TV series caught my attention from series one. It's based around the Walker Family, a Californian family who from the outside look like they have everything. A family business, a lovely home, lots of loving brothers and sisters.
However, when you look more closely you discover the truth. The Father of the family, William, dies in the first episode and over the coming shows it's discovered that he had been cheatin on his wife for years. This throws the family into turmoil, what are they supposed to do now. They can't confront him, but can they be mad at him either, he's dead after all.
The following shows, currently at 3 series, centre around the walker family, with peripheral characters becoming more and more involved throughout the series. Nora, the mother of the family is played by Sally Field, who is outstanding. She plays her part so well and deserved the awards for her role that she recently won. She struggles at every turn to keep the family together and as a unit, with new problems arising all of the time. These include Justins alchohol dependency, Kitty's political career, Sarah's divorce, and that's just the beginning.
The storylines flow really well and you don't get any of that sense of jumping from one plot to the next as you can with some shows. The characters have been well thought out and stay true to the personalities and trait displayed in episode one.
I'm so excited that series 4 has been commissioned, I can't wait!
This is an English version of sex and the city, with slightly less nudity but more infidelity.
It's based around 4 british women, all living in the same area (filmed in Bristol), but all with very different lives. You've got the career women and then the stay at home mum. The promiscuious one, the one who keeps ending up with the wrong man, you know the kind of thing.]
The characters grow and evolve over time and their stories slowly begin to unfold with some happy, but also some very unhappy, outcomes.
This has now been running for 2 series, 6 episodes in each. It started off really well, with a few twists and turns so you didn't know exactly what was coming, but, enough information so you could learn about the characters and what they were all about.
While I still enjoyed the second series, it was a little more far fetched than the first and took a bit more 'imagination' to believe. Some of the antics of the characters was a little bit hard to believe and some conincidences just a bit too far fetched.
However, saying that, I still enjoyed it and in fact was recently given the DVD set as a birthday gift. I've thoroughtly enjoyed watching them again.
The pianist, directed by Roman Polanski starring Adrian Bodi is a very emotional and heart wrenching tale of survival during the Nazi occupation of warsaw in the second world war.
Based on a true story based on the life of Speilman, this movie follows the touching journey of a war torn jewish families desperate attempt for survival. The main character Speilman is a young jewish pianist who plays for the Polish radio until Poland was attacked.
Eventually his family was moved to the Ghetto, where the film follows his journey in an attempt to keep the family together.
This is a superbly acted film that has rightly won a great many awards including 3 Oscars and 2 BAFTAS.
This is quite a long a movie (2hrs 23mins) so does need some commitment, but is well worth the effort. It's rated a 15, but to be honest probably wouldn't appeal to anyone under the age anyway as it is quite gritty and dark. Certainly not a happy film!
Be warned though, this certainly isn't a first date movie! But is definately highly recommended, you might need the tissues though.