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I stayed at the Dolmen Resort on my recent trip to Malta with my girlfriend and this is what we thought:
The hotel is situated in Bugibba, which is in St Paul's Bay and around 45 minutes from the airport. It overlooks the beach and is just a 2 minute walk from the main square in Bugibba. Bugibba itself is quite small, but there are a few bars and restaurants around the square. Just across the road is the main bus terminal, which makes is very easy to get around the island and fairly cheap too. It's about 45 minutes to Valetta and costs about 2 euros for a return. You can also go the opoosite way along the bus route to the Gozo ferry for about the same distance and cost.
The hotel itself is very clean and accomodating. It has several outdoor pools and one indoor pool, with sauna, gym and treatment rooms. There is also a tennis court. The indoor pool is quite small and so tends to get quite crowded, but we were there at the time of year when it was too cold to go swimming outside. There are 5 bars and 3 restaurants but only the main one was open when we were there. The food at dinner time was a buffet which was ok, but don't expect too much in the way of quality. There was plenty of variety each night for the starters and main courses but the puddings and cheese seemed to be quite repetitive and quite bland. There is plenty of entertainment on each night including karaoke, jazz bands if that's your kind of thing.
Our room was clean and spatial and even though we didn't have a 'sea-view' room, we could see plenty of it. The only complaint I would have is that the air conditioning didn't work which wasn't a problem for us while we were there in April, but would have been a problem had we been there in the summer. There was a fridge with mini bar and tv so everything was fine with the room
We we in Malta in April and it wasn't the warmest! Although we had two failry warm days (about 23 degrees) most of the time it was windy and rained a couple of days as well. If it's a sunny holiday you are after I would recommend going later in the year when it gets a lot warmer. We were expecting to be able to do some snorkelling but it was just too cold in the sea!
Malta as a whole
There's quite a bit to do in Malta and I would recomment visiting Valetta which has plenty of shops, bars and restaurants and the harbour area is very nice. We took a boat tour around the harbour and I would say that's definitely worth doing. Another day trip we did was to go to Gozo which is Malta's sister island. It's easy to get to by just getting the bus to the port and then hopping on the ferry which costs about 5 euros and takes about 20 minutes. Gozo is a nice quiet island with plenty of churches and history and beautiful old buildings. The sightseeing buses are good because you can hop on and off all day and get around all the main sites. The other outing I would recommend is a trip to the races. The jockeys actually sit in a cart and are pulled along by the horses which is quite strange!
All in all we had a nice relaxing week and although the weather wasn't great, there was plenty to keep us occupied and would certainly recommend it
I obtained a two year fixed mortgage from Britannia in 2010 on the basis they offered the best rate at the time (4.9%). However, I really wish I hadn't.
Right from the beginning I constantly had to chase them up because they just didn't seem interested in completing the mortgage by the deadline I had given them (this wasn't unreasoable - about 8 weeks from the mortgage offer being issued).
A general problem I had was whenever I rang them with a query, almost every time the person on the other end of the phone didn't have the knowledge to deal with my query which meant that having already spent a while on hold, I then had to wait again for my query to be answered.
Unfortunatley after a few months my relationship ended with my ex-partner and we had to change the mortgage from a joint to sole mortgage. I was told this wouldn't be a problem given my income and they would begin to process another application for me. After initially being told a valuation wouldn't be necessary on my house, they changed their mind and told me it was. Although it would cost me £60 to carry out I thought it was best just to get it done and not make a fuss. They employed a surveyor to come and value my house who spent about 3 minutes inside the property and valued my home around £15k less than identical houses on my street that were on the market. This then meant that my income wasn't enough to process the application because I no longer had 15% loan to value.
I tried everything I could to get round the problem - I had now taken in a lodger which was boosting my income but was told this couldn't be taken into account. I also suggested my parents could act as a guarantor but it was obvious Britannia had no interest in helping me and adopted an extremely inflexible stance. In the end I had to borrow £5k off my parents to make up the shortfall. I have no debts, have made every payment on time and have a good, steady job. I was effectively being penalised for the mess the bankers had put the country in.
All this has meant that as soon as my fixed period is up, I will be leaving Britannia and will never use them for anything ever again. All for the sake of £5k
I recently visited the Nottingham branch of GBK which is located in the courtyard area of Trinity Square. I didn't realise when we went in that there isn't actually any table service, you have to go up to the counter yourselves and order, which is a bit of a pain when the restaurant is busy.
I ordered a blue cheese burger at a cost of just under £8 and skinny fries at about £2. I wouldn't mind paying this for a burger in a restaurant but considering you have to do everything yourself apart from cook the food, I thought this was a bit steep. However, the service was quite quick and we didn't have to wait long for our meals. One of the advantages of this place is that you can help yourself to free nuts while you wait, which was an unexpected bonus!
The blue cheese burger was very nice and was made with good quality beef but I don't think I would order skinny fries again. They were literally skinnier than matchsticks and a bit of a pain to eat! I did like the plastic tomatoes filled with ketchup and made a nice change to having to use those awful sachets.
Another thing I noticed at GBK was their charity work and campaign for saving the kiwi bird which is New Zealand, which is where GBK originates. As well as this they carry out local chairty work and their brand is defintely based on being part of a community.
To summarise, I was satisfied with the food and am impressed with what GBK stands for, but if you have to order your food yourself I believe the prices need dropping slightly
For the last couple of weeks I just started watching this programme and is surprisingly entertaining. It involves 3 professional doctors setting up a clinic in which members of the public are invited to come to and try and get their problems resolved. They also visit towns and cities around the country for people just to drop in and they also carry out free STI tests and other things.
There is no censorship and whatever the problems are, they are shown in full detail - even piles, prolaspses etc! The idea is that they can offer then different advise to what they have received from their GP and I think they may offer another incentive in the form of free treatment. I certainly wouldn't recommend that you watch the programme whilst you eat your dinner!
There are things on the problem that you have never heard of and there are new things every week that people are suffering from e.g. extremely sweaty hands that literally drip with sweat all day. I'm not sure whether the doctors are prompted before the patients come in (they say not) but they always seem to have a solution for the problem, which I guess is good!
At the moment the programme is being shown on Channel 4 on Friday nights at 9pm
Walkers baked crisps are fairly new to the market and can be bought in different multiples of 6, 10 or 12 pack multipacks or individually.
In terms of nutritional information, a bag of these crisps is fairly good for you and much better than normal fried crisps. They only contain 99 calories. 1.9 g of sugar, 2.1g of fat and 0.4g salt. Walkers now make this part of their 'under 100 calories' range in a bid to cut obesity rates.
I consider myself to be a big crisp fan and somewhat of a connoisseur! Recently I have been trying to lose a bit of weight and whilst I think it's impossible to remove crisps from my diet, I thought I could cut down by trying the baked range of Walkers.
The fact that they have 70% less fat than the ordinary fried crisps was appealing but I soon discovered why this is the case. You get about half the amount of crisps as a normal bag! It really is a disgrace when you open the bag to find that it is only about a third full. It defeats the object of trying to reduce your fat consumption because you end up having to eat 2 or 3 bags to stave off your hunger!
There are other ranges in the Wallker's brand which are much more appealing and have even less calories in them if you are trying to cut down such as French Fries and Quavers. And you won't have to have 2 or 3 bags to fill you up!
Every Christmas I receive at least 3 bottles of aftershave and most of them go straight on ebay simply because I would never get through them all! One which I have defintely kept hold of is this one as it is my favourite aftershave at the moment.
I think it has a unique sweet and fresh scent to it and always keeps me feeling fresh when I go out. I think this and Paul Smith's Extreme are the two that stand out from the rest, which can seem to be very simliar. The stylish torso shaped bottle adds to the appeal and it comes in a cylinder shaped tin which could be re-used to store something else.
In terms of price it's on a par with the other top brands like Gucci, Armani and Paul Smith and comes in various different size bottles e.g. 40ml, 75ml, 125ml. For a 75ml bottle, the price is around £35, depending of course on where you shop. As it is quite a strong scent I would say it is quite economical because less sprays are required than other brands. As well as the spray you can also get it in a screw cap which you then just pour out - you would probably end up using more aftershave with this method though
I have recently started wearing quite a lot of Superdry clothing because as well as it being trendy and fashionable, it is very affordable and very comfortable. I have quite a few t-shirts that have cost around £20, compared with the likes of Ted Baker and Diesel where you would pay about £35 for the same sort of item.
What I have found however is their sizings are very small. I have bought some items that are 2 sizes bigger than what I would need in other shops and I am different sizes for different things i.e. I am a large in coat size bit extra large in T shirt. Therefore I would definitely recommend you try the items on before you buy them to save you having to take them back.
The only bad thing about Superdry I have experienced is the strange zip system they have on the coats. I had one bought for me for Christmas and had to take it back because the zip didn't have a stopper at the bottom which meant that the zip kept opening from the bottom. This wasn't a fault with this particular coat, it was designed like that. It was a shame because apart from that, I really liked the coat
I have only visited the Card Factory in Nottingham but would imagine they are pretty much all the same. They sell the kinds of things you would expect from a card shop - cards, wrapping paper, gift bags, teddies and other small toys, mugs etc etc.
The best way I can sum it up is that it is a poor man's Clinton's. That is meant as a compliment in that they sell pretty much everything Clinton's have, but much much cheaper. Whilst the quality of cards if not quite as good, the value is certainly better. I find it ridiculous that at most card shops now you don't get much change from a fiver for a card but you can get good quality ones at Card Factory for about £2.50-£3.
The only disadvantages I can think of is that it is always too hot in there and it can get rather crowded in a very tight layout - Christmas time is a bit of a nightmare! However, the service is quick and there are always plenty of staff around to offer assistance
Over the last week I have been struck down with a horrendous sore throat and sadly in this day and age, there is still no progress been made from the tired old Strepsil.
Strepsils come in flavours of honey and lemon, cherry, blackcurrant and orange. They can be taken by both adults and children, although the dosage varies for both parties. The pack contains details on how often they can be taken, but I think the norm is one every 2 or 3 hours.
I have tried Strepsils in the past to no avail but decided to give the honey and lemon flavour a whirl as I hadn't tried this flavour before. What I found is that I had to throw about 4 down my throat before I even experienced even a light relief and the result of this was that I couldn't get the taste of lemon out of my mouth for the rest of the day!
They're also not cheap. I paid about £3.99 for a box of 24 (although you can get them in different quantities) and I think I'll just suffer next time and keep my money in my pocket. Surely with medicine as advanced as it is now there must be something to replace the outdated Strepsil?!
What a god foresaken place this is. I'm a Notts County fan and have visited this ground on a few occasions and every time it seems to get worse.
We went there last Saturday and firstly, some moron had decided to hose all the seats down with water, which had not only left the seats wet through, but also dirty as the dirt from the floor had obviously been washed up onto the seats. I'll be surprised if the toilets have any toilet paper in them because almost every Notts fan was using it to wipe their seat down before the game started.
As it was a cold day I thought I'd warm myself up with a hot chocolate before the match. At a cost of 2 quid, I expected a bit more than half a cup of water and half powder that resulted in a gloopy mess halfway down the cup. Nice.
I'm used to visiting shocking grounds but most of this standard do not have the gaul to charge £18 for the privilage. Anyway, we won 1-0 so it wasn't all bad!
Coinstar machines are a good way of turning small change into 'bonus cash'. They are located in various supermarket chains and all you have to do is to take all your loose change along and pout it into the machine. It then calculates how much you have put in and then turns it into a voucher which you can either use for your shopping or go into the store and redeem for cash at a checkout.
There's also an option of donating to charity if you wish and the only catch is that Coinstar take a cut of about 7% off your total. It's still well worth it and I save up my coins over the course of a year and then cash them in and this usually gets me about £50 and pays for a night out!
The one other downside to the machine is that it does make a loud noise when you are pouring the money in. I have found this does result in everyone around the machine staring at you and you can feel like a bit f a cheapskate!
I could spend all day describing my comtempt for the second rate coverage that ITV provide in comparison to Sky, but I'm going to focus on one area in particular that has really got my goat in this season's FA Cup coverage
I have found it baffling that by next week, Leeds United will have had games televised 5 times in 4 rounds. I'm not 100% certain of my figures, but at something like £72,000 going to each club featuring in televised games, this amounts to a £360,000 payout. As a national TV station, how can such bias be justified? There are clubs up and down the country struggling on a daily basis to survive and just one of these payments would keep the creditors at bay for a short period at least.
I accept that Leeds have had some good draws and their games have made for good viewing in this season's cup. I would have expected them to be shown in earlier rounds as the biggest club in the bottom 2 leagues but more than once a round is a bit rich isn't it? If they beat Spurs this week they are due to be shown in the next round as well!
Small clubs are still suffering now from the collapse of ITV digital and this pandering to the 'big' clubs in the lower leagues is another kick in the teeth
I got this book for Christmas and have read it straight through already. The idea of the book is to look at some bizarre and strange occurences in the history of the beautiful game. Murray's aim is to tell some stories that people haven't heard before rather than just re-hash old news.
I think he does this rather well, and although inevitably, there are stories I had heard before, most of it was new to me and a thoroughly enjoyable read. The depth of Murray's research is quite extensive and goes deep into non-league to find the very best stories. For example, there was a non-league game somewhere where the players and fans were holding a minutes silence to mark the death of the clubs oldest and biggest fan, only for said fan to walk through the turnstile halway through the silence!
The book covers a wide range of different football stories from strange transfer deals, to finding the most hardcore of fan and as an added touch, there is a quirky little fact on every page about all the clubs playing in the professional leagues of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.
Take Me Out is kind of a modern version of Blind Date with Paddy McGuinness stepping into Cilla's shoes. The format is very simple. There are 30 single girls all looking for a date and 1 man who has opportunity to impress them and take one of them out on a date.
The 30 girls are lined up and the man enters via a large tube coming down from the ceiling to his own choice of entrance music. He introduces himself and then its the girls first chance to make an initial choice of whether they fancy him or not. The idea is that if they like him they leave their lights on in front of them and if not, they turn them off. As the show goes on, the girls learn a but more about the man and at the end if there are any girls with their lights still on, the man gets to choose who he will take on a date after asking the last 2 a question.
What I like about this show is the humiliation that is regularly served up. It is often the case that all the lights have been turned out and when this happens, the man gets no date at all! This also happens when the girls are rejected in favour of someone else and they instantly take the moral high ground and adopt a stance of 'I didn't like you anyway/you're not my type' mentality.
In true Blind Date style the date is filmed and the highlights are shown the next week to see how they got on. After watching a few shows now, there haven't been many success stories! After the date has been chosen, the girl that has been chosen is replaced by another and the process repeats itself.
It is the same girls on the show every week and the idea is that all of them will have the chance of getting a date - kind of like Deal or No Deal.
Take Me Out is on ITV1 on Saturday evenings. The time varies from week to week
The Restaurant is a programme on BBC 2 in which 9 couples compete for the prize of opening a restaurant with world class chef Raymond Blanc and his two business partners, Sarah Willingham and David Moore. The concept of the programme is kind of a cross between The Apprentice and Masterchef as not only is Raymond looking for good food, he also wants a couple who have good business acumen
Each couple has a chef and a front of house and must work together on various different kinds of tasks each week. Like The Apprentice, Raymond sends his two business partners out to watch how the couples get on and then feedback to him. He then weighs up their thoughts with his own and then each week a couple is voted out and their restaurant is closed.
Each couple must come to the show with a concept that they feel the food industry needs. For example in this series, there is Nigerian themed food and a Summer based theme in which two guys try and promote outdoor picnic eating all year round. Tasks have included setting up their own market stalls and hosting singles nights.
I have watched previous series of the programme and have to say this series has the worst bunch of contestents so far by a mile! Examples include a couple in which the chef leaves everything to his assistant and does no cooking and another in which the front of house swears at customers! Remarkably, these two couples remain in the competition as it reaches the final two episodes.
What I like about this programme is that it is not just about cooking, but an insight into the business side of running a restaurant. It is very entertaining and you will be surprised at the kind of mishaps that occur!
The Restaurant is on BBC 2 and BBC HD on Thursday nights at 8pm. It is also available on the BBC iplayer