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emmakate06

emmakate06
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Member since: 21.02.2009

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    • More +
      05.02.2010 09:33
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      Great fun and a nice way to earn some extra pounds!

      Having spent a lot of time looking for work at home opportunities and realising very quickly that they are few and far between, I decided to take a look at two of the most popular work at home opportunities, Avon and Usborne Books. I weighed up the pros and cons of each of these opportunities and decided that with my love for books and the connections I already had with a few local schools that Usborne Books was the one for me.

      I firstly spoke to several people on different forums to find out more about it from people who do it, and what the realistic earning potential was. I also wanted to find out about the benefits and incentives the company offered and so again I referred to forums and Usbornes own website to allow me to make an informed decision. I found out that the start up price was very reasonable and having taken some time to think it over I decided to go for it, and im glad I did!

      Firstly, there is a low start up fee which varies from month to month as they have special offers. At present it is £20.10 and for this you get a starter pack which contains various items of stationary such as invitations and posters and you also receive numerous books which amount to approximately £100 in value. It is easy to sign up and can be done by speaking to an existing representative if you know one, or by downloading a form online and posting it off to them with your payment for the starter pack. Within a couple of days you receive a welcome email, which provides you with a lot more information on how you can make Usborne Books work for you and gives you lots of ideas as to how you can earn money. Your starter pack is then delivered by courier a couple of days later. I couldn't wait to open mine when I received it as I was keen to get started and I was very pleased and impressed with the quality of the books in my starter pack.

      To begin with, I made contact with my team leader and we discussed some ideas as to how to get started and what would be the best earning opportunities for me. I have 2 children aged 2 & 3 and I am also in the process of completing a law degree and so I explained that there may be some weeks where I would do lots of work and then other weeks where I may not do anything. My team leader was more than supportive of this and advised that there is no pressure whatsoever as to when and how often you sell. You simply work as and when you can and to suit you and your family. This made me even more pleased with my choice as I was slightly worried that I would be pressured to reach certain targets on a weekly basis but this was not the case at all. My team leader advised that the only requirement when you join Usborne is that you sell £100 worth of books within the first 12 weeks of you joining, otherwise they bill you the difference for the price you paid for the starter pack and the actual value. This is fair enough I think as otherwise people would sign up all the time just to get the free books without going on to do anything else, so from a business perspective I think that this is a very reasonable ask and easily achievable just from selling to friends and family. After the first £100 you then never need to sell again if you don't want to which again I think is very flexible and reasonable as if you decide its not for you and don't want to continue, your not tied into any contract. I sold £103 of books in my first week just from showing my catalogue to friends so I was very happy to have done so well in just a week of getting my pack.

      The earnings are very good and the rates are 24% commission on personal and party plan sales and 20% on school and library sales. There are plenty of ways for you to earn your money and a few ideas are:

      Sell to friends and family - Whilst these may not be the highest orders for you, it is a good stepping stone to help you learn more about the books, the order process etc and to build your confidence.

      Leaflet drops - Leaflet packs are available at 50 leaflets for £4 and feature a selection of the books Usborne offer along with any special offers. These can then be left with friends, family, colleagues and when you feel ready to, you can approach some local schools and provide them to classes for them to take home to their parents.

      Book Sales - Attend Christmas Fairs, Baby Shows etc and get a stall for the day selling your books. Stands are available to purchase to help make your stall look very professional, but there not essential by any means as the books draw attention by themselves. It is definitely worth starting out with something small, to check that it is worth your while doing these type of events as sometimes the cost of the stand can be more than any profit you are likely to make especially at bigger events.

      Ready, Steady, Reads - These are sponsored reading events which can be organised within a school or nursery. You basically provide the school with sponsor forms and promotional material and then children read as many books as they can over a period set by the school. The benefit of this is that if the school raise £500 they can get 60% of that in FREE books. These events are great as the school benefits from the free books and the amounts usually raised at these kind of events also means a nice commission for the representative too and a great way of increasing your income.

      Ready Steady Listen's - These are very similar to the above but aimed more at pre-school aged children. These sponsored events work in the same way except children are sponsored to listen to stories as opposed to reading them, which also helps to get parents involved too.

      Community Book Pledges - This is where, with a schools permission, you write to local companies to ask them to purchase some books to donate to the school. These help to establish community links and also helps to promote local businesses who can have their donation mentioned to the local press. The school benefits by receiving free books and they can also be a very good earning potential for representatives.

      As well, as your usual commission, there are also many representative benefits. Usborne run regular incentives to win trips abroad and other experiences such as spa days. The current holiday incentive is a Trip to the Northern Lights and previous trips have been far and wide including Hong Kong.

      So how hard is it to sell? I often read reviews where people say that the books sell themselves. Whilst this is true to some extent, you still have to get the books out there for people to see, which is where the hard work comes in. It can be nerve wracking approaching your first school or business, but once you have got over the first hurdle your confidence builds. Usborne provide you with a vast amount of downloadable materials to use for any events you plan and these can be printed off at home. The majority of time I find, is spent on the phone and answering emails, which is a big benefit to me as my children are yet to start school. The more hard work you put into your business then the more you get out of it.

      Earnings will vary from person to person and from month to month, it all depends on how many hours you can put in. My husbands income covers all necessities and bills and so we use my Usborne income for extras such as days out, and holidays and on average I can earn between £200-£500 a month depending on how many hours I put in. I hope to be able to do some more once my children are in school full time. There are also some very big earners though within the company who have built up a big business. In the latest newsletter I read about someone who received a commission cheque for £20,000 for just one month!

      In conclusion, I enjoy working for Usborne very much. The hours are flexible and I base them to suit me and my children. If you would like any more information then please feel free to message me and I will help as best I can.

      Thanks for reading.

      I am also on ciao.

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      • More +
        10.08.2009 17:18
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        Great family friendly hotel.

        I recently won a competition to Ireland from a Manchester Airport Competition. Included in the prize was flights, transfers, food and accommodation. I soon learnt upon winning that the accommodation chosen for us was Breaffy House Hotel, which is located just outside the town of Castlebar in Western Ireland.

        I did have a look for some reviews on the property prior to going, and was slightly concerned by several bad reviews which I had read. However, I needn't have been as our weekend break was fantastic and the hotel was brilliant.

        On arrival at the hotel, you go up a long tree lined sweeping driveway which leads you to the entrance of the property. It is a beautifully large hotel which is very well presented. There is some seating located outside and a large helipad which can be used for a private helicopter transfer which would only be a ten minute trip from West Ireland Knock Airport as opposed to an hours drive. I would imagine that this would be fairly costly, but it is a great idea for a special weekend away or a honeymoon for example. The grounds looked fantastic and very well kept and we also noticed a small crazy golf course at the far side of the front garden.

        We entered the hotel and walked into the large foyer which was very grand and had a large sweeping staircase to the left hand side which looked lovely. There was also plenty of seating for guests and free wifi access was also available in the foyer area. The receptionist welcomed us to the hotel and was very friendly, providing us with plenty of information on the facilities in the hotel and where we could find everything. She gave us clear directions to our room and provided us with two keys. We were advised that our allocated room was number 335 and we were provided with dinner vouchers for our evening meals for the two nights which were staying. With everything in order we set off to our room.

        The hotel is extremely large, and ill be honest it is quite a maze to get around. Our room was located the furthest away from reception, but we soon found out that this was for good reason and were pleasantly surprised when we actually got to our room. On arrival outside we noticed that the gap between the rooms was much larger than all the other rooms we had past and my husband joked that perhaps they had given us a suite. Luckily for us, he wasn't wrong and it turned out that we had been given the Presidential Suite which was obviously located quite far away for privacy.

        The room was huge and had an Eastern Meditteranean theme to it. There was a large seating area with a dining table and huge plasma screen tv and entertainment system. Four bottles of 25cl wine had also been left for us along with a welcome note and some glasses. The seating area then led into the bedroom which had a king sized bed, a further television, two dressing tables, and two bedside cabinets. Leading off from the bedroom was an ensuite bathroom with a bath and a separate walk in shower and a large walk in wardrobe come dressing room. It was all beautifully decorated and the Mediterranean theme continued throughout all aspects of the room. In total there were four extremely large windows which overlooked the grounds and from our room we could see the whole property. It was very clean and tidy, and in addition, the cleaners had also left us some bathrobes and slippers. I noticed that there was a rate chart on the rear of the door at that the room usually cost Euro299 a night. Expensive but definitely worth it!

        We decided to start our stay by exploring the hotel, having a look at the facilities and checking out the grounds. Our first stop was the spa and leisure centre. The spa looked lovely and smelt fantastic, however I didn't actually use any of the facilities here so apart from a quick peek inside to pick up a price list I didn't really see any more so cant really comment on it. The leisure centre features both a gym and a swimming pool. The pool is well designed and has one side sectioned off for swimmers who wish to do lengths and then the remainder of the pool is left for those just wanting to have fun or for persons learning to swim. There is also a shallow area for toddlers to have a paddle. Alongside the pool and up some steps there is also a Jacuzzi, and Sauna. These facilities are free to use for hotel guests and you just show them your hotel key card. Towels are not provided so you must bring them down from your hotel room or just bring your own from home. One big thing here is that you have to wear a swimming hat in the pool. We were not made aware of this prior to arrival so had to spend Euro3 each purchasing a hat which I know we could have bought for much cheaper back home. We didn't really mind on this occasion but had I been travelling with my children this would have cost us Euro15 which is quite high to purchase some hats which will probably only be used on that trip. Another thing to note is that the changing rooms are communal. There are no cubicles, however it was empty when I was in there so it didn't bother me.

        We then went to the Games room. This was slightly disappointing as we had been looking forward to having a game of Pool or Table Hockey but both of these were out of order so we were unable to use them during our trip. There were also some driving games and arcade machines which mainly seemed to be used by children in the evening and were charged at Euro1 each. It was clean and tidy though and had the equipment been working we would have been more than happy in there for an hour or so.

        We then asked at Reception about the crazy golf and enquired as to how much this was. I was surprised to be informed that it is free of charge for hotel guests so we grabbed a couple of golf clubs and balls and set off outside. Some of the holes were very hard but we got all the way around and we actually used this several times over our weekend stay. It was good fun and it was also nice to have a bit of banter with other hotel guests also playing on the course.

        The Bar area, was very clean and had plenty of seating. The prices were reasonable and we noticed that they also had entertainment on in the evenings. There was also a bar menu which had a small selection of snacks and meals, all of which sounded very tasty. Again the prices seemed very fair for hotel food and having seen some of the lunchtime snacks that other residents had, I can tell you it looked delicious. Seeing all this lovely food made us look forward to our evening meal and a couple of hours later we headed for the restaurant for dinner.

        As we entered the restaurant we were greeted on arrival and taken to some seating by a waitress. She remained our waitress for the entire evening and made sure that we were happy with our meals and that we had enough drinks, water, and bread at the table. We were provided with menus and she came back to take our order a few moments later. The menu itself is a set three course meal with three options for each course. I chose Vegetable Soup for my starter which was the nicest soup I have ever had, Roasted Ham with Chefs Gravy and Potatoes for my main and Black Forest Gateux for dessert. This was a lovely meal which I very much enjoyed and I heard numerous guests saying the same.

        Overall, this was a fantastic weekend break for my husband and I in a fantastic hotel. I cannot commend the staff or the accommodation enough and we are already planning on going back here with the kids at the end of August. I would highly recommend this hotel.

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        • More +
          06.08.2009 19:47
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          A disappointing attraction

          I recently visited Pili Palas Butterfly centre after spotting it whilst passing on a day trip to Anglesey. We had set off without anything in particular planned and it was just one of those spur of the moment trips out where we just thought we would see where we ended up. We noticed a sign for this attraction and knowing just how much my children love nature and animals, we decided to stop and take a closer look.

          We drove into a small car park and the entrance to the attraction was clearly signposted from here. On entrance you are welcomed into a reception area which is attached to a shop, which is very open to ensure that your children spot all the toys they must have before youve even started to take a look around. The entry fee was reasonable and it was £6.50 for an adult and £5.50 for a child aged 5-16. Under 5's are admitted free of charge. There is also a playzone attached which is an indoor soft play area. If you are just wishing to use this facility then your child can be admitted for a cost of just £3. It is open daily from 10am to 5.30pm.

          After purchasing your entry tickets you are directed through some plastic screening. This is where you enter an amazing butterfly kingdom with butterflies of all different kinds of sizes and varieties. It is a lovely sight and a short walk around the indoor exhibit then leads you to some of the other animals located outside. Unfortunately, in my opinion the rest of the attraction is not as good as the butterfly exhibit. The farm animals outside are housed behind stone walls which are too high for a child to see over. There are a few reptiles inside but the majority of the enclosures were empty.

          Outside there is a large park area which is suitable for children of all ages and there are numerous picnic benches available. There is also another park area where there is also a bouncy castle and some motorized cars. These bear an additional cost though.

          Located to the rear of this park is an indoor play area. This really isn't that impressive and having being to many indoor play centres this was somewhat dissapointing. It is not well designed at all and the area which is supposed to be suitable for toddlers isnt as once they go down the slide the exit is too high for them to climb over so adults had to keep going in to help their child out of the ball pit.

          Overall we were here for only about an hour and a half at the most. We weren't impressed and neither were the kids. Whilst the butterfly area is lovely, the rest of the attraction is a disappointment and I personally shall not be visiting again.

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          06.08.2009 19:22
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          Great family attraction that doesnt cost a small fortune to visit!

          I recently visited Foel Farm Park with my children at the start of the school summer holidays. On arrival, I thought that the attraction looked really small, and didn't quite see how it could house all the things that were advertised in a recent leaflet I had seen about the attraction. However, the entry costs seemed fair and so we decided to take a further look and I am very glad that we did. The attraction itself is based on the Anglesey coast and is easy to find and well signposted from the Menai Bridge. It is located close to Brynsciencn should you wish to locate it on a map.

          The entry costs were £5.50 per adult and £4.00 per child which for a North Wales Attraction is very reasonable. OAP and student entry costs are priced at £4.50. The attraction itself is based on the Anglesey coast and is easy to find and well signposted. Bags of food for the animals are also available for 30p each.

          Once we had paid our entry fee we headed straight over to meet the bunnies. These were very tame and friendly and a member of staff sat my daughter down and showed her how to hold the bunny gently and to let her stroke it. We have two rabbits of our own, so my daughter really enjoyed this. They had a selection of chairs in the area which I thought was a great idea as they were providing seating for persons of all ages and sizes and it was nice that my little girl could sit on a small chair as opposed to having to climb up a large adult chair which could obviously pose a danger if she was to fall off, so from a safety perspective I thought this was a good idea.

          On site there is also an animal barn which is where the Pigs, Sheep and Cows are all waiting to meet you. Again they are very friendly animals and seem very tame. They didn't seem to mind being stroked at all and as soon as you walked past they would come running over to you. Bottle feeding times were also clearly displayed in the barn for the lambs and the calfs and they provide you with the opportunity to feed them yourselves.

          To the rear of the barn, is a large outdoor play area, with swings, ride on toys and a large bouncing pillow which is very similar to a bouncy castle but it doesn't have any sides. Adults are welcome to use this too which was great as we were all able to have fun bouncing around together. In this area were also numerous picnic benches and tables for if you have brought your own refreshments.

          To the rear of the play area is the Tractor parking station. There is a large trailer attached to the rear of the tractor which has some bench seating which can accomodate about 12 people comfortably. Once the trailer is full the driver of the tractor will set off and take you on a tour around the farm and the surrounding field where you go to visit and feed a large white shire horse. On our most recent visit I learnt that this gorgeous horse is 23 years of age and her name is Queenie. She is a beautiful horse and she comes to the side of the trailer so that you can feed her. I enjoyed this part of the tractor ride just as much as the children.

          The next area we went to was the sand pit. This is a large sand filled area with numerous toys, trucks, diggers and spades. There is plenty of room for a fair few children in here and my children spent the best part of half an hour playing with the toys before deciding to move onto something else.

          Next, my daughter headed for the pony ride. We explained to the lady that whilst she was excited she was also a little nervous and so the lady in charge allowed my husband to walk alongside her just for reassurance. It was only a short walk and lasted a couple of minutes, but I felt that this was more than enough time for my little girl. Not wanting to leave my son out we also allowed him to sit on the pony. He is only one so doesnt quite understand how to hold on and stop himself from falling so we just sat him on it for a few seconds and he absolutely loved it.

          Overall, this is a great family attraction with plenty to see and do. The entry prices are very reasonable and there are no additional charges once you are inside which for me is a welcome change to some places I have visited. I would highly recommend this attraction.

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        • lovefilm.com / Internet Site / 33 Readings / 33 Ratings
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          30.07.2009 21:06
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          Great service, great idea!

          I first decided to registed with Lovefilm, after the birth of my first child. As we weren't going out very much we decided to have dvd nights and with our local charging £3-£4 a night for a DVD, I decided to look into online dvd rental.

          I came across Lovefilm, and at the time they were offering a free 2 month trial. I checked out some of the cashback sites I am a member of and I managed to get a 2 month trial and £15 cashback so this was a great start.

          There are a choice of packages to choose from. You can select to just borrow one or two DVD's a month or opt for unlimited rental. If you are also into your gaming you can select a combination package combining rental of the two. My stepson owns both a PS3 and a Wii and with games being so expensive, it made sense to go for the combination option. The prices and packages seem to change quite regularly. The deal which I got was the unlimited combination deal for £9.99, but Im pretty sure that this deal is no longer available, but definitely worth checking.

          The first step once you have registered is to start compiling your wishlist. This is your list of anything and everything that you would like to rent in the future. You then select your preference for each item as to whether it is high, medium or low on your wishlist and once you have at list ten items saved, Lovefilm will automatically start sending the dvd's or games out to you.

          Postage is free both ways so there are no return costs. You can keep the DVD for as long as you like, but you are unable to hire another whilst you still have one (or two depending on your package) in your posession. The DVD's come in a resealable envelope, but should you damage this, you can request a replacement envelope online through your account. I have always found their delivery process to be quick and efficient and on average we hire 1 DVD and 1 Game per week.

          Their customer service is very good and they offer online forms and support should you experience any issues. I recently returned a game and it was still showing as it being at my home a week later. I reported this to them using their online form and provided them with some details such as the post office I sent it from and the date and they immediately updated their records.

          Following our two month trial, we did decide to keep our rental account open and have continued to pay for the service. Overall, I find Lovefilm to be efficient and easy to use and they offer an extensive range of DVD's and Games. There are always plenty of offers around for cashback or free trials, so its worth looking around before signing up to make sure you get the best deal. I would highly recommend them!

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          • More +
            29.07.2009 12:11
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            The nicest airport I have ever been to.

            I recently won a competition for a weekend break in Ireland, my flights were booked with BMI Baby and I was advised that the airport we would be flying into was Ireland West Airport Knock. I had never heard of this airport before, but I recieved some communication from the Marketing Manager at the airport providing me with some information on the facilities available and supplying me with some local information regarding taxi companies, restaurants and attractions that were in the area. I also had a look at their website which was a nice bright and clearly displayed site, so I thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect when I arrived.

            I was however, quite surprised when I arrived. I have never seen such a small airport. As we landed on the runway, I was looking around for the terminal building and couldnt quite believe the size of it when I spotted it. Having become quite accustomed to larger airports such as Manchester, Heathrow and JFK, this tiny airport was quite a novelty.

            There are currently only a small number of airlines which fly to this airport which include BMI Baby, Ryanair, and Aer Arran and the airport on average only has around 4-10 flight arriving and departing on a daily basis. There is enough room outside the terminal for two planes to park, but even this was a squeeze and when watching the planes trying to turn around to leave I was sure they were going to either hit each other or the terminal building the area was that small. I also found it quite funny that the airport is only open 7:30am til 7:30pm as I have never known an airport with opening hours!

            Once we had landed we were very surprised by how quickly we were able to disembark the plane, Usually there is a bit of wait whilst you wait for the tunnel to attach, but being a small airport you just used stairs to exit the plane and they had these by the side of the plane. The staff at the foot of the stairs were very friendly and gave us a warm and happy welcome to Ireland. As we walked into the building, we noticed that Passport Control, customs, and the baggage carousel were all in one room, which again we found a bit of a novelty. The passport control was just two people sat in a booth who again were really happy in friendly and it gave a really nice welcoming atmosphere for us. As we walked over to the luggage carousel we could see the person on the other side loading them onto the conveyer belt, and it was nice to actually see them being loaded carefully onto the belt as opposed to how they are probably thrown on, in the larger airports.

            As we exited the luggage area we were met by the Marketing Manager who directed us to our taxi driver and again welcomed us to Ireland. She was really friendly and enthusiastic just like all the other staff we had met so far and we felt so welcome it was fantastic. I have never been to an airport which was so friendly.

            As we left, we noticed that there was a small cafe and shop which had a few seats in there for customers. They also had some deals on such as a pie and a pint for Euro4.95 which I thought was quite reasonable for the size of the pies!

            Our taxi driver took our cases and led us outside to the taxi waiting area where there is probably enough room for a bout three vehicles. He too was very friendly and off we set to our hotel. ( I will be writing a separate review about this). There was also a car hire company located outside.

            We next returned to the airport two days later for our return flight home. The check in queue was very small when we arrived and we noticed in total that there are approximately only 10 check in desks altogether. BMI Baby opened two of them and they seemed to get through any queue quite quickly. We were advised that there was a 1 hour delay for our flight due to the xray machines breaking at Manchester Airport and this had therefore had a knock on effect with the flights. They were very apologetic though even though it wasnt there fault and they told us where we could find the larger restaurant which was located upstairs. We were advised to go up there instead of the departure lounge as it was more spacious and there were more refreshments on offer so this we did.

            The restaurant was very large and occupied half of the upstairs floor. There were large windows located all the way around which overlooked the runway, though in fairness there wasnt really much to see as there were only four flights on that day. The food looked delicious and again the prices seemed very reasonable. We didn't actually purchase anything but having looked at the prices and the portion sizes that other people were walking away with it looked very good value for money. There was plenty of seating and tables and they also offer free wifi throughout the airport, so we were quite happy with a drink and the internet for an hour or so until my battery ran out.

            We then decided to make our way to the departure lounge. There was quite a large queue to get in here. This was due to the fact that you have to pay a Euro10 Development Fee when leaving which alot of people in the queue seemed unaware of despite there being numerous signs throughout the airport and everyone being told this when they checked in. Therefore there were delays whilst these people were seen to, which seemed to be about 50% of the queue. Then you go through security which is a quick and easy process and then exit into the shop which is attached to the departure lounge. Quite cleverly done I think as you have no option but to walk through the shop to get to the lounge.

            The shop itself does actually stock some very nice items. I didnt purchase anything but had a good nosey around and was quite impressed by some of the things they had on offer. Some of it was the usually rubbish that these kind of shops tend to sell, but they also sold some good quality products. This and a bar area was the only thing in the departure lounge which also seemed very small and crowded so I was appreciative of the earlier advice to sit upstairs first. We were regularly given updates about the status of our flight and we had around a 45 minute wait in here prior to our plane arriving.

            The announcements were clear and regular and we were informed that we would be boarding within ten minutes of the plane arriving which is obviously a very quick turnaround time. The staff worked through the queue quickly and we were directed alongside the runway to our plane. I was expecting it to be a bit dirty given how quickly we were boarding but I noticed the airport staff helping on the plane which I thought was really nice of them.

            Overall, we recieved exceptional and friendly customer service throughout our time at the airport. I have never been to an airport where the staff have been so friendly, happy and enthusiastic. They all seemed to really enjoy their jobs which made our trip all the more enjoyable.

            We have already looked at returning here in the future. There is some beautiful accomodation nearby and being only an hour flight from the UK it is the ideal destination for a weekend away.

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            • More +
              28.07.2009 21:01
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              Cleverly designed pushchair which I highly recommend!

              I first noticed this pushchair on the television programme The Apprentice. It was one of the items which they were trying to sell at the Baby Show and it caught my interest as soon as I saw it.

              Being a fairly frequent traveller I had been looking for a new pushchair for each of my children which was compact, comfortable, stylish, light and easy to use. This pushchair seemed to tick all of these boxes so I started looking for further information as soon as the programme finished.

              The stroller itself is very compact and can be folded down to measurements of just 50x44x30cm making it very easy to use on public transport and to fit easily in a vehicle whilst still leaving plenty of room for all the other things that you need to carry around with a toddler. It has an adjustable backrest which can be positioned in both an upright and a recline position. The chassis is made of a lightweight aluminium frame and weighs only 8.6kg which is very light compared to some of the other pushchairs which I have. In addition there is a shopping bag attached which I find very useful. This is included in the purchase price which I think is great as many companies will charge you extra for this. For the comfort and safety of your child there is a five point harness which is easy to use for an adult but is cleverly designed so that it would be difficult for a child to open. The button fastener needs to be pressed twice, once on each side in order for the harness to open which I personally think would be quite hard for a child to figure out. There is also a bar which can be placed across the front of the pushchair for added security, but can also be easily removed if you require it to be. The hood which goes over the head is quite large providing plenty of sun shade. It also features a small clear plastic window in the top of the canopy hood so that you can still see your child whilst the shade is open.

              Pushing the stroller is very easy and it is so light even with my two year old sitting in it. The wheels are both swivable and lockable and there is a rear brake which is simple to use. Due to the pushchair being so light, it can be pushed a bit by the wind so I always put the brake on when I stop just for security.

              After looking into this pushchair for a couple of days, my husband and I decided to purchase it. Due to it being featured on the Apprentice, practically everywhere seemed to be out of stock of it, which is quite ironic as a couple of weeks prior to this Amazon and Kiddicare had sold all of their stock of these for just £99 clearance price due to being unable to sell them at full price, I bet they wish they hadn't now as those companies who do have these have stock have now been managing to sell them for between £160-£200 and most sold out within a couple of days. I checked out Ebay but they seemed to be selling for even higher than this and so after some searching, I managed to find a newly opened local baby store who had these on order from the supplier. As I wanted to purchase two, I did a bit of haggling and managed to get them for £135 each including a trolley bag which the pushchair can be fitted into and then pulled along like a suitcase, which is ideal for us when going to the airport, these trolley bags are usually sold for an extra £26 each so in all I managed to get a very good deal.

              They come in a range of colours, I have the colours Devil which is red and black and I also have one in Cognac which is Orange and Black. They also do Gold and plain Black which all look very nice.

              I have had these pushchairs now for a couple of months and I can honestly say that they are the best pushchairs I have had. They are so light and easy to use and we know take these everywhere with us instead of using our bulky double pram.

              Overall, this is a fantastic pushchair and is cleverly designed. I would highly recommend this item.

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              • lipsy.co.uk / Online Shop / 24 Readings / 23 Ratings
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                26.07.2009 13:31
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                Great store, great products, great value!

                Whilst looking for a dress last Christmas for an upcoming party, I had an idea in mind of exactly what I was after, but yet couldn't seem to find it. I mentioned this to a friend ad they recommended Lipsy. I had heard of them before, but not enough to have really thought about using them, so I searched for the website address and decided to have a look around. Since then, I have used them several times, with great service each time. Every time I look in a magazine there is always some celebrity sporting the latest Lipsy frock which is showing their growing popularity.

                The website itself is very user friendly and clearly laid out. Categories are displayed along the top of the page and in addition there are usually sections highlighted on the home page, showing you the latest additions to the Lipsy range or their best sellers. The home page is based on a black background with white writing so it is easy to read and is not so busy as some other sites as to give you a headache. Sometimes they also have a sale section, which when they do, offers some amazing bargains.

                So what do Lipsy sell? Well in addition to their amazing dresses they also sell tops, skirts, trousers, outerwear, denim, leggings and jumpsuits. They also offer a small premium range called Lipsy VIP. Accessories are also available from the website to help you complete your outfit. Their products vary in price but the dresses for example tend to range from £30 to £80 which does offer excellent value for the stunning dresses they offer. When they do have a sale, you can pick them up for between £15-£40 but for this reason they do tend to sell out of a lot of sizes very quickly.

                One function of the website which I find useful, is the ability to shop by size. I hate it when you search on clothing websites, spot a gorgeous item and then when you click to buy you then find that they have it in every size but yours. This therefore helps to eradicate that problem and it means then that I don't end up having a tantrum over a top that I can't have as I simply won't see it if its not in my size, so I wont ever need to know about it! In addition, you can also shop by colour, so if you know you need a black dress, then you can select black on the left hand side and this will filter all the black dresses through for you.

                As well as just selling you their products, the Lipsy website also offers a lot of additional information such as care instructions for their items, a size guide and company information. There is also the ability to search for stores and stockists and get information on existing job opportunities with them. I would definitely recommend checking out the size guide as I personally do find their sizes to be quite small and so for that reason I always buy the size up from what I actually am, so it is worth taking a look at before purchasing to help prevent you having to return a product due to it not fitting. Returns are not free and have to be paid for out of your own pocket, so definitely worth avoiding having to if possible. Another downside, is that returns cannot be taken to a Lipsy store as they will only accept them by return of post so this could be quite inconvenient for some.

                Their delivery charges are reasonable at £3.75 within the UK. They will also post to the Republic of Ireland at a charge of £9.50. Worldwide delivery is also available at other rates which can be found on the delivery information page or their FAQ page. I do find their delivery to be quite slow as if you place your order before 3pm Mon-Thurs they claim to dispatch it same day, yet delivery takes 3-5 days so I am not sure why it would take so long. There is no option for next day delivery so you need to make sure you buy in plenty of time and dont leave it to the last minute otherwise it may not reach you in time.

                Overall, I find the Lipsy store and site to be very good. I definitely think that they should start doing next day delivery though, but the fantastic quality of their items makes up for this for me! I would highly recommend this store!

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              • Evian / Soft Drink / 28 Readings / 28 Ratings
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                25.07.2009 21:56
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                Refreshing, well priced mineral water.

                I have recently started drinking Evian due to being on a low carbohydrate diet, so I always have a bottle on me when I am out and about in case I am unable to find a low carbohydrate drink whilst out. I picked up the Evian brand quite simply because it was a brand I had heard of before and it was on offer.

                The bottles themselves are quite basic and are made of a see through plastic which is 100% recyclable. They then have a sticker around the middle with the Evian logo displaying the brand name. On part of the label there is a section which advises you how the water is filtered along with some information on how your body is made up of 60% water. The label also clearly displays the water composition in mg/litre which is made up of the following:

                Calcium 80
                Magnesium 26
                Sodium 6.5
                Potassium 1
                Bicarbonates 360
                Sulphates 12.6
                Chlorides 6.8
                Nitrates 3.7
                Silica 15

                I find the water itself to be very refreshing. I personally prefer it chilled from the fridge, but I have also drunk it at room temperature quite comfortably and I definitely find it much nicer to drink than tap water. I have also tried some cheaper bottled water brands in the past and I have found that some have a plasticy taste to them obviously from the packaging, but that definitely is not he case with this product.

                The product itself can be bought in a different range of sizes. I usually purchase 500ml bottles as I find these easy to carry around, but you can buy the water in a 1 litre bottle also and a 750ml. They are also available with sports cap in some shops which is a big advantage if you are using the water whilst cycling or running for example.

                Overall, Evian is my favourite bottled water brand and one which I shall remain faithful too.

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                • Huggies Pure Wipes / Nappies & Wipes / 14 Readings / 13 Ratings
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                  25.07.2009 21:40
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                  An Ok product which could do with some improvement.

                  I recently used these wipes when my usual brand of wipes were out of stock. They were on offer at Tesco priced at £1 per pack with each pack containing 72 wipes. Therefore being priced at £1 these seemed to offer reasonably good value for money. I therefore purchased three packs as with having two toddlers I seem to get through these packs very quickly.

                  The packet itself is a simple red and blue colour with a picture of a baby on the front. It features a reasealable sticker on the top of the packaging in order to maintain the freshness and moisture of the wipes. There is also a statement on the top of the packet which claims that the wipes are 'Gentle cleaning like cotton wool and water'. The packaging also advertises the fact that the wipes are alcohol free and fragrance free.

                  When I got the first wipe out, the first thing that I noticed was the texture, it didn't feel as soft and gentle as my usual wipes, but when I rubbed a wipe on my arm, my opinion became quite contradicted as they actual felt quite smooth being rubbed on my skin, yet when held in my hand they felt quite hard and rough which is quite confusing. The wipe also seemed a lot thicker than my usual brand and I wasn't sure at the time whether this would be a good or a bad thing.

                  When it came to using the wipe, I did find them a bit harder to use as due to being a bit thicker they weren't as flexible to manouvere, therefore meaning I was actually ending up cleaning a smaller area than what my usual wipes would and per nappy change, I was probably using double the amount of wipes which I usually would. They did do the job however, and there was no irritation to my childrens skin.

                  Overall, they are good value for money, but I certainly won't be replacing my usual brand with these. I would still consider using them if my normal brand is out of stock, or keeping a pack in the changing bag for emergencies. It is an ok product which does do the job, though not as good as others and is in need of improvement.

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                  • Lidl / Highstreet Shopping / 36 Readings / 36 Ratings
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                    25.07.2009 10:28
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                    Some good deals to be had.

                    I recently visited Lidl for the first time following a recommendation from a friend regarding their fruit and vegetables. We go through a lot of vegetables each week and my children love fruit so as I had a spare morning, I decided to pop in and see what Lidl was all about.

                    The store nearest to me is in Queensferry, a short driving distance away. There is a reasonably large car park and on the same retail area is also Pizza Hut and B & Q so if the Lidl car park was ever full, it would be easy to find a parking space nearby. The trolleys are obtained using a pound coin, which I wasn't aware of before my arrival, but luckily I had some change on me so this didn't cause a problem.

                    On entry to the store, I noticed that a lot of the promotional offers on food and drink are located by the door and are clearly displayed with their price aswel as being easy to reach. They do stock some brand names such as Pepsi, 7Up, Heinz Baby Food, and Magnums to name a few, but I noticed that the majority were european brands which I had not heard of before. This didn't really bother me though as the food looked good quality and was priced reasonably.

                    To the back of the store was where the fruit and vegetables were located. These were all very well priced and all looked delicious and in very good condition as opposed to some which you see in other larger supermarkets. They had a selection of bags for you to place your fruit or vegetables in and the prices were clearly displayed to avoid any confusion over quantities or weights. I purchased some onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms, cucumber, apples and bananas, and they were all just as tasty as my usual whilst also saving me a few pennies.

                    Lidl also stock a variety of non-food products and have a range of different offers which vary each week, so for example one week you could find home decorating equipment for sale and then the following week it could be motorcycle and car equipment. We usually get a leaflet through the door each week advising what the weekly offers are. In my opinion some of it appears to be complete rubbish, but occasionally their are some great bargains advertised. I have heard from a regular Lidl shopper though that the best stuff usually flies off the shelves within minutes of the store opening.

                    Plastic bags are available at checkout for approximately 3p or you can obviously bring your own to use. There are several checkouts in my nearest store and they all seem to work through the queues quite quickly. At my store they only accept debit cards or cash and no credit cards. I am not sure whether this is just my store or nationwide so may be worth checking on your arrival.

                    Overall, I will definitely venture back to this store again for my fruit and vegetables and may try some other products of theirs in the near future.

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                    • Tesco / Highstreet Shopping / 28 Readings / 27 Ratings
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                      21.07.2009 22:25
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                      Great store!

                      I have used Tesco home delivery service for a few years now, though bizarrely, I have not ventured into an actual Tesco store for a good couple of years, that was until recently, when I decided to pop into the new Tesco Extra store located just outside Bangor, North Wales.

                      I recently visited the Next Sale which is located on the same small retail park just outside Bangor, so after feeling brave and hitting the sale, I decided to take a more leisurely stroll around the new Tesco Extra to see if I was missing out anything by not visiting the actual store more regularly.

                      The first thing that I was very pleased with, was the vast amount of parking available and the car park didnt seem at all too busy or crowded. There were numerous parent and child spaces, along with double the amount of disabled bays that I have seen at other supermarkets. The car park was easy to navigate round, unlike the Asda supermarket in Queensferry, which is unbelievably shocking and dangerous to drive around and if any of you have ever been there, you will no exactly what I mean! This Tesco supermarket was nothing like that at all though, it had roads which could easily fit two cars down, along with nice corners where again two cars can drive around easily without scraping past each other and losing half your paint work. I therefore found a parking space very easily and off I went inside.

                      The first thing I noticed was how clean, fresh and open this supermarket felt. It didnt feel at all claustrophobic and every aisle was wide and neat with everything in its place. At the entrance there was some large fridges which housed lunchtime snacks such as sandwiches, wraps and pasta dishes along with crisps, drinks and a selection of newspapers and magazines, which I think is a great idea to have at the front of the store for those just wanting to pop in for a quick snack without having to trek around half the store. At the front of the store is also a photography area and the customer service desk.

                      Further down the front of the store is the clothing section, they have some lovely items here and have both a sale section and a regular priced area. Again, everything is well laid out and that staff obviously work hard to maintain the area as I did not find one garment of clothing on the floor or in the wrong area, which suggests to me that it is checked on a regular basis. Also along the front of the store is the toy, gift and cards section, meaning that there is no need to venture into the grocery area which is located all along the back and mid section of the store, unless you have to, which I personally think is a great idea and a layout, which in this store, seems to work well.

                      The grocery section is well displayed and the aisles can easily be identified by the large signs hung over each aisle along with the smaller signs in each area. There were also plenty of staff around, who im sure could have assisted me should I have need any help. All their products seemed competitively priced, as they do on line and items which were on offer or had a reduction in price were easily identifiable. Again this area was very clean and tidy and nothing seemed out of place, which I was very impressed with.

                      To the back of the store there are some stairs and a customer lift which leads you to a cafe. This cafe was in my opinion absolutely marvellous. It was clean, spacious, and had plenty of seating. The seating was well spaced out which meant that it was easy for us as a family of five to find seating for us all together which is usually quite hard in a restaurant and cafe setting. There were plenty of high chairs available which were all lined up neatly and easy to access. We ordered two childrens meals which cost £1.47 each which is excellent value for the large portion size that they were given, a jacket potato with filling and salad, and my husband and stepson opted for a portion of chips and beans. Along with a large coke, this came to just over £8! Amazing value for money and the food was really tasty too. The service was very friendly and when my stepson accidentally spilt his drink, an assistant was straight on hand to assist with cleaning it up. Despite me offering to do this myself, the cafe assistant was more than happy to do this for us and even managed to maintain a smile on their face whilst doing so.

                      Before leaving the store, we picked up a few items and went to checkout. We opted to use the self service check outs which my husband seemed to have the know how to figure out how to use them, but there were plenty of conventional checkouts and none of them seemed to have large queues.

                      Overall, I really enjoyed visiting this store, and may now start visiting the store more often as opposed to home delivery.

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                      • Next / Highstreet Shopping / 29 Readings / 28 Ratings
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                        21.07.2009 21:23
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                        An ok store with some nice garments

                        I have occasionally shopped at next in the past, particularly for baby and younger childrens clothes as I used to find these very good value, until George became very competitive with their similar designs and character tops and I must admit that over the past couple of years I have strayed over the the George line and have been shopping at Next more and more infrequently. I have never purchased my own clothes from here as I do find the adult clothing quite overpriced for my liking. Anyway, I was driving to Bangor on Saturday when I spotted a large Next store advertising their end of season sale. I wasnt in any particular hurry to get into town so thought I would stop and take a look.

                        On entry to the store, there were a couple of store assistants stood either side of the door with plastic bags for you to use to carry your purchases around with you. They were very friendly and welcomed me to the store. I asked where the childrens section was and they directed me quite cherrily over to that area. Now fortunately, I have been to a Next sale before so I was quite prepared for the crammed bustle of people all trying to find their ultimate clothing bargain. There were numerous people who were struggling with their mountains of bags yet still managing to maintain their multi tasking skill of still being able to shop through hoards of clothes at the same time. There were also a few with that devilish look in their eye who you could tell would clearly take no prisoners if it came to fighting over a must have garment. This was at midday as well so I would have hated to have been there any earlier as it would have been even more busier, although I have been tempted in the past to pop along at 5am when the sale starts just to see how many people actually turn up at this ridiculously early hour.

                        I found as with previous sales, that there is no specific sections for ages, so you cant just go to one rack to find all the 2-3 year old clothing for example, no that would be too easy, instead you have to check through every single sale rack as there could quite easily be an aged 2-3 top next to a 12-13. Unfortunately for me, despite searching through the endless amounts of clothing, I only found three items of clothing that were nice which left me slightly disappointed as I was hoping for a bit more.

                        Another thing I noticed whilst at the store was that the changing room is not open during the sale, so you are unable to try any clothing on. I can see the reasoning behind this, though I can also see how this could be quite inconvenient for some customers, who when they get home, find that the item doesnt fit and then have to drive back to the store to get a refund.

                        Despite the amount of people in the store, there was no queue at checkout and I was able to purchase my items and leave the store very quickly. Overall it was an ok experience, but the clothing was not as good as previous purchases.

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                        • toluna-group.com / Internet Site / 45 Readings / 40 Ratings
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                          13.07.2009 12:10
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                          In need of a little improvement

                          I am a member of a fair few survey sites and at present Toluna is currently my favourite. The registration process is very simple and you will be sent an email to activiate your account to ensure that you do indeed have access to the email address you have signed up with.

                          When you have then signed up, there are a number of profile surveys on the home page, all of these awarding you with extra points. There are 14 interest surveys altogether providing you with 300 points each for each completed one. Then once you have completed them all, you recieve a one off bonus of 2000 points. So to get you off the ground you can already obtain 6200 just by filling in these short questionairres. In addition you are awarded 500 points just for registering.

                          The next way to obtain points is to have a look at the polls and short surveys on the home page. These can award you with up to 150 points each time, and often only involve one easy question. You can also obtain points by offering your opinions on a wide range of subjects.

                          Your main aim in collecting all these points is to reach the 60000 point mark. Once this target is met, then you are able to exchange your points into a voucher. The only downside to this is that delivery of your voucher is not as quick and easy as participating in the surveys and polls and instead of taking a couple of days to reach you, it instead takes approximately 8 weeks which in my opinion is horrendous! The plus side though is that 60000 points is easily achhieveable with not too much effort and in my experience it takes me approximately one month to obtain enough points. For a survey site this is very good as if you keep up to date and response to their email surveys you could come away with a voucher each month. For some reason, the voucher amounts are for £12 as opposed to a nice £10 round figure but if you are obtaining a £12 voucher each month this is helping you to raise £144 throughout the year. I tend to save mine up throughout the year and then I have £144 in vouchers to splash out at Christmas.

                          I think that there is also the potential to earn more, however I only participate in surveys which interest me. If I qualify for the survey after the screening process and then find it to be really boring then I will promptly exit as I personally cannot be bothered to spend 20 minutes answering 100 questions on cream coloured paint! There are many surveys however that I do enjoy doing. My favourites tend to be the ones where you watch television adverts and give your opinion or ones where you are helping them to select a new name for a product. I find these much more interesting than just answering the same repetetive questions over and over again.

                          At the start of eveyr survey which is emailed to you, you often have to answer a few screening questions to ensure that you are part of the target market that is required to participate. This does sometimes annoy me as you can be answering questions for around ten minutes to then be told that you don't qualify. The other thing which irritates me is when they email saying you definitely qualify for this survey and then you try to do it and get told that in fact you don't, so there is definitely room for improvement there.

                          The good thing is though, that I do qualify for a lot of their surveys and I recieve regular emails from them usually offering me between 2 and 5 surveys a day helping me to earn points very rapidly.

                          Overall, I find it an easy site to use, but could do with some improvement.

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                          • hotukdeals.com / Internet Site / 32 Readings / 31 Ratings
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                            13.07.2009 09:40
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                            Great site to find a bargain or help you save some money

                            I first start using Hot UK Deals website whilst searching for some discount codes for my Tesco shopping. I came across this website and I am now a regular user finding numerous bargains, deals and freebies through the site.

                            The website itself is very user friendly and well displayed. There is a search function at the top of the page and also a voucher search section where you can look for a particular company to see if they have any free delivery or discount codes available.

                            The deals section is where other users post information on deals which they have found, such as a good sale item, reduced holidays and in some cases price glitches which can offer you an enourmous saving if the company actually allows the sale to go through. A recent one which I experienced was the posting of a £5 voucher code with free delivery for Dorothy Perkins with no minimum spend. Of course within a couple of hours of this being posted there was nothing left in the doroty perkins online store for under £5. However, everyone who had placed orders then recieved emails a couple of days later advising that their terms state that if a glitch is found then they have no obligation to fulfil their order. Needless to say that there were many disappointed forum users or had huge hopes of getting something good for nothing. On the right hand side of the page it will also display the hottest deals as voted for by members and you can select to see todays best deals, the last three days, the past week or the most recent month.

                            One of the other sections of the website is Freebies. Here you will find postings for any freebies that users have found, whether this be for free cosmetic or fragrance samples, or for free magazines. In the past year I have recieved a few full size make up products from Rimmel, fragrance samples and some bird seed all from using this section of the forum. There are also regular posting for free film viewings in this section, but you have to be quick with these as spaces go very quickly.

                            The next section is a competitions section. This isnt anywhere as big as some of its competition rival forums such as Money saving Expert and Loquax but they do list a few and more often that the not the ITV competitions will be listed here along with the answer which is great if you have missed the programme.

                            There is also a section for deal requests, if you are looking for something in particular for example a cheap wii fit deal, you post here what it is that you are looking for and people will respond to your query trying to help you find the best deal. In addition to this the following section is a Buy/Sell forum. I personally have never used this part of the site and so can't comment on its usefulness or reliability factor.

                            Overall, it is a good site, which is easy to use and great to help you find that bargain or save money on your shopping.

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