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I can't pass a Lush shop without wandering in, as the smell is divine! I've tried various things from the shop but my favourite item is lemony flutter cream.
It retails at apx £4.30 which is quite steep for a pot of cream! However I find it lasts ages as it is very thick, so ends up worth the price.
Lush website lists the ingredient as:
Fresh Lemon Infusion (Citrus limonum), Shea Butter (Butyrospermum parkii), Beeswax (Cera alba), Lanolin, Soya Oil (Glycine Soja), Cold Pressed Avocado Oil (Persea gratissima), Cold Pressed Flaxseed Oil (Linum usitatissimum), Mango Butter (Mangifera indica), Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil, Castor Oil (Ricinus communis), Perfume, Cold Pressed Wheatgerm Oil (Triticum vulgare), Lemon Oil (Citrus limonum), Lavender Oil (Lavandula hybrida), Tagettes Oil (Tagetes glandulifera), Chamomile Oil (Anthemis nobilis), Sodium Borate, Gardenia Extract (Gardenia jasminoides), *Citral, Geraniol, *Citronellol, *Limonene, *Linalool, Methylparaben, Propylparaben,.
*Naturally occurs in essential oils
All of these are natural ingredients, so should not produce any unforeseen reactions.
The product comes in a black pot with a smiling face and name of the person who made it by hand, it also has the date it was made. When you collect 5 pots and return them, they are recycled and you get a free herbal face mask.
On opening the pot you are hit by a wonderful lemon smell. I love the smell as it is strong and clean but not artificial or over powering. The cream is very thick which is why they say it is a cuticle cream. I use it all over (not face!) It is quite difficult to spread and takes a few minutes to soak it, but then leaves you really soft for ages, and smelling wonderful! Rough areas such as heels, elbows and knees respond so well to this cream. I use it last thing at night too as handcream and find my hands really soft by morning.
I bought a pot for a friend who had very sore knees from nappy changing, and she found her knees better within a few days of using this!
I always take a pot of this on holiday with me as feet in sandals and dust can get rough, but also you can use it after too much sun to rehydrate skin.
I've tried most of the other lush hand creams and find they don't touch this one for effectiveness!
I think fair-trade has one of the best marketing campaigns I've ever seen....they play on people and make it over simplistic, do this and you'll help! If only global economics was that simple! I believe not giving people the full facts about all sides of the argument is very wrong, so I choose not to support fair-trade and instead am vegetarian which has a massive impact on both the third world and the environment. Shouldn't we all have the choice of how we best view global economics, and not be pressurized by our supermarket or church to only do one thing?
Sadly, despite the massive advertising campaign there are no facts or statics about if fair-trade actually works! We're simply shown a few smiling farmers telling us that it has worked for them. One report claims that Fair-trade helps a small number of farmers at the expense of other farmers.
Fair-trade insists they deal with land owners, so the poorest farmers who rent their land, can't sign up, then less are buying their goods, so real poverty for them. Many other farmers find that the coffee they used to produce in abundance is not selling since it does not have the fair-trade label, so they are forced into poverty too. Agricultural workers have no protection under fair-trade, only the landowners.
The UK supermarkets take a bigger cut of fair-trade goods than any other goods! No wonder they try to get us to buy it. If they honestly believed in it and wished to help, why not lower their cut? I also want choice in my shopping so in Sainsbury's I can only buy fair-trade bananas, flown half way round the world. Should I not be able to choose bananas with less air miles if I choose? Actually 10% of the price you pay for your fair-trade goods actually goes to the farmer!
Fair-trade competes very successfully with many other ethical charities. Many other charities' also help farmers such as rainforest alliance, but these are now in decline since the mass push of fair-trade. Starbucks used to run it's own charity helping farming communities, but have been forced to buy more and more fair-trade since public demand and pressure.
It creates a false market, which at the end of the day doesn't work. Allowing Africa etc to trade with Europe, USA etc in a free trade way, would be of far higher value, and works! Instead we block much of the trade with nations outside Europe, so they don't get a chance, and then we patronise them by paying slightly more for their coffee! Inflating the price also may create a false market, many people in India, for example, have got out of poverty by going into IT and telephone services. There is the danger that fair-trade will keep them in crops that may not be the best industry for them. Long term, fair-trade doesn't help economic growth; it creates a false market for those farmers lucky enough to get on the scheme. China's standard of living has risen since they have got into manufacturing, would it be better to keep them growing fair-trade tea for us?
Mexico a developed country has 51 fair-trade farmers, Rwanada has 10 and Ethiopia has 4! Is it really helping the poorest countries as it claims?
Our children are now taught to buy fair-trade during key stage 2 and 3 at school. I find this quite alarming if they are not taught all sides of the argument! Many Churches now insist that churches only buy fair-trade coffee for events. Even some local governments have the same policy. Wales is trying to become the first fair-trade nation, whatever that means!
I'm sure fair-trade means well, and at least attempts to give one answer to the massive problem of poverty which we all need to take seriously. I do believe though, that consumers should be given the full picture and be free to decide for themselves. A campaign that works on half truth and emotional blackmail is not for me! But each to his own. Surely the important thing is that we all do what we can, and what we believe is best, to try to eradicate poverty?
I love Marks and Spencer's food but found that it was over priced so stopped going in there. My friend told me how good their offer was "dine in for £10 for two", so I popped in and to see. I came out weighed down as I couldn't resist!
It seems most weekends currently, they put on this offer, but I haven't seen many adverts for it. The offers are clearly marked with a black label "dine for two", and are on the ends of stand, under the various headings, there are always staff too available to explain the offers and choices to you. Basically you pick one main course. These vary each week, but there are about 8 to choose from. I'm vegetarian and there is always at least one option for me. There is always a fish option too for those eating less meat. I've seen whole chickens (but nice corn fed, Norfolk, ready prepared), lovely looking paellas, chicken breasts with sauce, some Italian dishes, some Chinese. They vary so much, but there are loads to choose from. You then select one "side" dish, again about 8 choices, this week I had lovely dauphinoise potatoes, the week before baby veg including potatoes in a sage oil. They do salad or ready prepared veg if you'd rather. The main point seems to be whatever you choose, you just place it in the oven, it is all prepared. (well you don't place the salad in the oven!) You then move on to a dazzling choice of desserts, from lemon pie, melting chocolate pudd, cheese cake, profiterole stack, a box of 3 cheeses, fresh fruit salad etc., if you don't like these, you can have a box of after dinner mints. You can then pick a bottle of wine, usually either red or white, but they vary, if you don't drink you can a double pack of fresh juice.
I find when I check my bill, one offer saves apx £6-8, compared with if each item had been separately charged. Sometimes I keep the wine or mints for presents, or taking when people invite us for meals to their homes.
One newspaper reported that this was one of the few areas that Marks is currently making a profit on, so it shows what a good idea it is in a recession. As well as helping people keep to a budget, it also helps you stick to calories as you can see exactly what is in your meal, and there are low fat options available.
Today it is snowing so I'm going to curl up in the warm and dine at home for £10! Perfect!
I love shopping online as I find it so convenient, but sometimes don't want to wait ages for delivery, especially if companies won't tell you when they are delivering. For me Argos is the perfect balance, I can shop and browse online, then either reserve and collect immediately at my local store, or book a delivery slot that suits me!
The online catalogue for Argos is similar to the in store one, but more up to date, with new offers etc. You can search for items by typing in a key word, or by going through the different sections such as home furnishing. The results can then be viewed as the most popular item, or by price, low to high or high to low, which is handy. You can view all the details of the item, including a larger photograph; many items have customer reviews too. You can then check availability for your item, before you decide.
If you decide to buy the item you can decide whether to reserve it in a local shop or arrange home delivery. For me, that depends on the size of the item. My recent washing machine I arranged delivery as that was the only option! For an extra £7.40 I could click and arrange the old washing machine to be removed plus all the packaging. You can also pay extra for connection but I didn't bother. If you decide to reserve the item for collection, you type in your postcode and local Argos branches are listed, so you can choose. You are then given a reservation number, which is also emailed to you. You take this number to the local branch. You can either queue to pay, or use a machine to pay by card, which I find very speedy.
Argos has worked on its customer services recently and I find all the staff very helpful. My local store had never kept me waiting more than about 3 minutes to collect goods! Any returns or broken items are replaced with no problems.
I find the prices some of the best around. In the Jan sales I bought two 100% leather settees for £488, sand they are gorgeous. They said 35 days for delivery, then rang after 14 days and offered me Saturday delivery at no extra cost. They even give you a time slot usually 7am-noon or noon-6pm, But better than waiting in all day.
I find the range of good offered is massive, and often I need to look no further than Argos. I have shopped with Tesco direct and find them dearer on most items, or often goods out of stock.
The downside of Argos is that you can't view goods before you buy, but that is true with any online shopping. They do offer to give a refund for any good you are not happy with, so that seems fair to me! One other gripe, but only a minor one is that they no longer keep samples of fabric in store for you to view, nor do they allow you to order online! You have to ring, which did not take long, but then the fabric sample is posted 2nd class, so in my case, came over a week after phoning. I felt that was too long as in the sale, goods sell out! It might be a good idea to have a fabric sample section online, where you could at least bring fabric samples up full size to view on screen.
All in all, I find Argos online a great balance between home and store shopping, great value for money, wide choice, and helpful staff.
My old Braun Tassimo died after 10 month use so happily we were able to get the new Bosch Tassimo as a replacement! Bosch seem to have ironed out many teething problems with the Tassimo and hopefully this one will be more reliable too!
The machine arrives well packed in a box, it is fairly light and easy to unpack and looks very sleek in a corner of the kitchen. It comes in black, silver or red, and I think they all look nice. You have to wash, then fill up a water tank, which clips on the back, after that I fill it via a jug rather than lift up the tank each time. You get a yellow cleaning disc, which lives in a slot in the back of the machine, and need to insert this and wash the machine out 4 times before you can make coffee. So within 5 minutes you are ready to make your first drink.
The machine does not contain any free samples of drinks, which I feel is a bit mean, and bad marketing. This means if it was a present you need to rush out and buy discs! However you do get a coupon for 1 free pack if you register the machine, but I recall this took 6 weeks to arrive!
All the major supermarkets now stock T disc, they are in packs of 18 for apx £2.99-£3.29. There is a wider range of T discs online from Tassimo with free P+P if you order over £25 worth. The range of drinks is massive with something to suit every taste. There are two espressos, Kenco which I find weak, and Maestro Lorenzo which really packs and punch! Endless ground coffee from Kenco medium, rainforest alliance, Colombian, star bucks, a maestro Lorenzo crema, Jacobs mild and strong etc. Some make half mugs therefore stronger, others full size mugs. There are a few decaff coffees, voluptuous, short and strong, café hag, and Kenco decaff. Twining produce a range of teas, English breakfast, earl grey, camomile, green tea with mint and fruit of the forest. I find the tea handy as each one is sealed so they keep fresh if like me, you don't drink tea! There are two hot chocs a rich suchards and a milkier Milka. Some T discs have milk discs too, and make cappo or latte, I find the milk plasticy and horrid so don't use them, but they certainly look pretty and are handy if you are prone to run out of fresh milk, as again they keep fresh and sealed!
You can put the machine on and leave it on in standby mode, or just switch it on when you need it, the new bosch heats up very quickly, one of the changes they made. You then put a disc upside down and close the lid. The clever machine reads the barcode and automatically knows how much water, and what temp to put in! The brewing takes a moment as the water enters the disc then seems to stop, while it brews inside the disc! A light at the end allows you to press and add more water if you like weaker drinks, similarly you can hit the start button during the cycle to stop more water, for a stronger drink.
You need to place a cup or mug on the cup stand, the packets of coffee tell you apx what size you need, but you soon get used to it. The stand can be adjusted for taller or shorter mugs or even removed for travel mugs! You don't need special mugs with this system, which is handy!
The old Braun used to pee into its cup stand, often lots of hot water, the new Bosch doesn't do this, which is nice! I do find that means the steam instead builds up in the lid, so you need to leave the t disc a moment after brewing or face a hissing steam filled lid when you open it.
Cleaning is so simple, you can rinse the machine out with the cleaning disc, or remove the piercing spike for a dishwasher clean. I find a quick wipe is usually Ok unless you've made hot choc when I do wash it out. If you don't wipe the barcode reader it gets blocked so won't work.
I'm delighted with the system and no longer keep instant coffee in the house as it just goes stale! I know find myself coming home for coffee when out, as I prefer mine to many cafes and coffee shops!
My Servis washing machine packed up a few weeks ago after 13 months of use! The engineer said it would be dearer to fix it than get a new one, as the computer chip part had blown! He charged me £45 call out to tell me that! Oh joy!
I found this whirlpool in Argos sale so ordered it, having previously been very pleased with my whirlpool.
It arrived! Hubbie and I had decided that we could install it easily enough, as had done so with other machines! We looked in the manual and saw pictures of 4 transit screws which needed to be removed, and words matched the pictures, so we removed 4 transits screws! We then attached the cold only pipe, and drainage, and put on the first load! We have never heard such a racket in our lives, loud shaking, vibrating, hammering noises! It seemed to get worse and worse until finally the load finished! Alarmed we rang Argos, they told us to ring whirlpool! Whirlpool told us that the guide book is not accurate, but actually there are white plastic screws which also need to be removed before use or the machine would be damaged! We said this seemed a little odd and they agreed!!! So back out came the machine and we wrestled with the white plastic screws to remove them! No joy! So we got out a large screw driver to prise them out, and one snapped off! So the screw was still inside, the head now on our floor, and the machine not in useable position! We rang whirlpool back and they finally sent an engineer out to remove the screw from the inside! But we still feel that transit bolts should not pose this much of a problem!
Once the bolts were finally out the machine was great!
Fairly small drum as 5kg but plenty for us. Normal wash cycles for various materials, all clearly stated on the machine itself. Dial to change the spin speeds. It is electronic so you need to reset to 0 each time at the end of a cycle, plus you have light to tell you which stage of the cycle you are in. I love the 30 min half load, as this proves very handy. It has rinse hold, which is great if you are popping out, as it keeps your clothes in cold water prior to the final spin, to save them creasing up. It also has a delay wash button so you can set it to start in 1, 3 , 5 or 7 hours time.
Personally I prefer to old manual machines where less seemed to go wrong, but you simply can't get them these days! I just hope this one will last longer than 13 months! But so far so good, cleans well, spins well! But don't forget to remove the white transit bolts too!!!
I really enjoy sorbet and frozen yoghurts but find many UK shops stop selling them in the winter. The few you can find are packed with chemicals. I therefore decided to try my hand at making my own.
I read reviews, searched the net, and found a smallish machine for £18 on Amazon, free delivery too, so I placed the order. I chose a smallish machine as you need to keep the bowl in the freezer unless you buy one of the £200 plus machines!
The machine arrived a week later. It was well packed in a medium size box. Easy to unpack, fairly heavy but not too much so. You get a base unit, which need to be frozen for 24 hours before use, and then preferably kept in the freezer. There is a lid unit with a power cord, but the power chord comes off for when you want to wash the lid well, then a paddle you slip easily on the lid. There is a small guide, easy to follow which also contains about 8 recipes (all really nice!) but many more recipes can be found free online.
I made some ice cream to chill over night while the machine was freezing for 24 hours, then you simply put the lid on the machine, set it running and pour in the liquid. About 20-40 mins later, you have slushy ice cream/sorbet which you transfer into your freezer. I use individual dishes for freezing, but you can make one larger container for sharing. Most recipes makes about 4-5 portions.
The machine claims to be about 0.6 of a litre, which I find plenty big enough, but larger machines are available if you want. Of course the liquid also expands slightly as it freezes.
I have made a number of batches of really nice sorbet, strawberry, mango, grapefruit, and orange. You simply use fruit juice and/or liquidise fruit, one egg white, and sugar or sugar boiled in a little water. So fairly healthy (depending how much sugar you add). You can miss out the sugar but it's not as nice!
Ice cream is a little more complicated, you make a custard out of sugar and egg yolks added to nearly boiling milk, then add flavourings(and cream if you want to be naughty!) the results are amazing. Of course it is also a good way of using up the egg yolks left over from using egg white for sorbet!
I have made frozen yoghurt by simply pouring any yoghurt into the machine! Again really nice results! I have also made low cal ice cream by pouring in any flavoured low fat milk shake!
So all in all a good buy and one I don't regret...even though my freezer is full to bursting!
I always have Sony Erisson's phones as I find them so reliable, so when I wanted an upgrade I only looked at Sony Ericsson's. I finally chose this one and after 2 months of use, am delighted with it.
On opening the box I was delighted by the look of the phone, mine is a dark blue, it is quite small, and slides easily. I was thrilled to discover it came with a free 2GB Micro Sd memory card, as Virgin had not mentioned this! It is in the slot so simply switch on and ready to go! Also in the box is a CD with the software, a USB cable, headphones, and a charger. There is a small instruction leaflet but the main one is a free download from the Sony website.
On switching it on, I was impressed by how clear the screen is great colours. The menu is familiar to Sony Ericson users, as are the buttons. All simple to use, even if you haven't before.
Being a Wlkman phone this is a portable music device too. It has plenty of storage, songs can be converted via the software, or MP3 files dragged and dropped. Playlists are easy to arrange. You can use music and TrackIDTM (powered by Gracenote Mobile MusicID) which returns the song name, artist and album to your phone within seconds, although you do pay for the GPSR for this. This model contains shake control, a bit of a gimmick, you hold in a button and shake in different ways to change tracks or volumes! Music transferred via the software is also added to sense me, where you can select a song based on your mood! An FM radio is included too.
There are several java games pre installed, some using the shake control, much like the Wii ! Guitar Rock tour is one of the games, plus a racing game and music quiz. This phone includes Google maps which are fun if lost!
There is a 3 million pixel camera which takes great day time photos. Sadly they have no flash, and have even removed the light, so night time photos are not good! The photos are easily emailed, saved or sent as picture message. The video camera is fine too, for basic shots, and can be uploaded to You Tube easily.
One of my fav features is the walkmate, a pedometer which resets each day, and lists your weekly steps! Very handy!
The phone is 3G so very easy and fast to use the internet, the mobile browser is easy. You can sign up for podcasts, and RSS feeds.
It is a slide phone so easy to lock, you can set it to answer phone calls when you open the slide and disconnect when shut. It delivers good call quality.
Bluetooth and quad band add extra features.
This phone has only been out since Oct 08, and I think will be popular. I'm delighted with mine but shame about the lack of flash!
I paid £144 on pay as you go virgin, but they are available free with contracts.
For those of us old enough to be kids in the 70's....stylophone helps us relive that childhood! I spent many happy hours playing on my Grandpa's stylophone, and generally deafening anyone near!
It is a small, retro looking machine, easily held in one hand. It is black and silver, the new version looking identical to the 70's version. There are small keys which you press with a stylus pen. The pen is attached to the stylophone, and sits neatly in its own little space. The keys are numbered so no musical experience is needed, you can just follow the numbers if you wish. You can either hit the keys one at a time, or slide the stylus along for some weird sounds!
Once out of the retro looking box, you insert 3 AA batteries (which last for ages), remove the stylus from its space, switch on and you are ready to make music! You can hold the stylophone as it is light, or place it on a work surface. It has surprisingly loud internal speakers! There is a vibrate tone if you really want weird sounds. This newer model had another new sound, like a dirty organ. There is a head phone socket if you want to spoil the fun! On the back is a tune button so you can tune it into whatever song is playing and play along. This newer model also has an MP3 connector, so you can play your MP3 songs via the stylophone then play along with it!
I think the price is excellent, currently Amazon are selling these for only £10.45, so not bad for a fun pressie to wake everybody up after Christmas lunch! Other sites sell these for £14.99.
Rolf Harris made these famous in the 70's in adverts and used them in "two little boys had two little toys". They also made an appearance in Doctor who, and with David Bowie in Space Oddity!
So do surprise your family and pop one of these into their Christmas stocking! You won't be disappointed I assure you!
I am a self confessed coffee addict and seem to collect coffee machines the way other people collect china or whatever!
The latest addition to my collection is the Nespresso M150, as I was craving a way to make decaff espresso, which none of the other pod systems offer!
There are many Nespresso machines to choose from, depending on what you want it to do. I chose this one as I liked the top bit to heat up your cups, plus the arm to froth milk (or make a cup of tea it turns out!)
On arrival, the box is massive, but well packed. The machine is fairly large, but not heavy, but you would need to measure that you had space first, the measurement for all the machines are on the Nespresso website.
There are simple instructions in picture format, so within 5 mins, mine was set up and I'd followed the instructions to rinse it out before beginning.
All Nespresso machines only use pods which are only available online (or from Harrods!). The online shop seems very efficient and sends your order within a few days.
The machine comes with a welcome pack containing one of each type of coffee to try, plus an espresso and lungo cup and saucers. I nice touch I thought.
You switch the machine on, pop a pod in, move the switch to the cup symbol, and hey presto, perfect coffee. If you move the switch the other way, the steam arm produces either steam for frothy hot milk (very frothy too!), or boiling water for making longer coffees. A quick rinse of the pod holder is all it needs to clean up too, no messy coffee bits!
Now the important bit is the coffee! This machine is for real coffee addicts. They make 12 different pods, each 25-6p each. 9 are espresso, ranging from strong, thick, blast your socks off, to a mild gentle one, and everything in-between! They then do 3 lungos which are longer coffees. You can of course add milk, to create lattes and cappuccinos, or more boiling water to make Americano. All of the coffees are outstanding! Also fresh each time as sealed in pods. The main problem now is that coffee out in Starbucks seems weak and horrid compared to this!
It is pricey, but when you think of the price of a coffee out, it suddenly seems cheap!
The Nespresso website is great, as well as ordering pods, you can find recipes, see how their coffee is sourced, buy cups etc (very expensive!), plus lots of other things. It does sing at you however, a major fault I feel!
So a great buy if you want to make coffee like Costa's coffee. Pricey if you just want long mugs of coffee.
In many foreign countries I have visited, public transport is cheap and efficient, so everyone uses it! Here is it expensive and unreliable so many of us don't use!
I am quite into the environment and often walk places, for longer journey's I would love to be able to leap on a bus. Where I live we get one bus an hour, but they are often late, up to 15 or 20 mins. My bus stop doesn't have a cover so you get soaked waiting. The 6 mile journey to town costs nearly £4 return, so if hubbie and I go not much change out of a tenner, and massive inconvenience waiting then going all round the mulberry bush to get there! So we drive instead and pay £1 parking. Sometimes we've walked to town then decide to catch a bus back, but the single fair is the same as return? Weird?
Getting a timetable from my local company is a joke. They change the times each year and if you pop in the depot they tell you they've run out of timetable. They have a website but don't update times on it for several weeks after a change! All such appalling business tactics!
My friend works in the town 6 miles away and decided to try buses instead of driving. Like most people she finishes work 5pm, to her horror the first bus home 5.45pm, so she has to hang around 45 mins then the journey takes an extra 30 mins than driving, adding over an hour to her working day. The bus down leaves quarter to the hour, so to arrive in work at 9am, the 8.45am would make her late, so she needs the 7.45am. She now had added about 2.5 hours to her working day! She gave up and bought a car!
Trains are also expensive and often run late or are cancelled altogether. A major problem is that lines are always repaired on Sundays which is often when people want to travel after a weekend away. No easy answer to that one, except perhaps to repair at night? You can now book tickets online but then have to pay 50p to collect them from a machine at the station. I don't understand this, as it saves staff sitting in pay booths. I asked my station and they said the machines were expensive so the customers had to pay for them??? Many of us frequently have to stand on trains which seems outrageous given the cost.
But should public transport have public funding? I think that as we pay the highest amount of tax on fuel virtually in the world...some of that money should be used to improve and subsidize public transport. I also think it should be used to improve roads too, but it isn't currently.
Pensioners now have free bus travel anywhere in Britain and the papers said other public services would be cut to fund it! That seems mad to me. I think free local bus travel or 50p a journey, makes sense. But why does every pensioner, regardless of how much money they have, be able to travel across the UK free. Disabled pensioners already get an allowance towards transport or a free car. In my area many taxi firms have gone bust since free buses, so now those taxi drivers are on benefits instead of earning and paying tax! My local greengrocer also went bust as the pensioners had free buses to go to Tesco for their veg! I liked the old system in many areas, where pensioners were given vouchers each year and could choose to use them on buses, trains or taxis, and then had to pay once they'd used their years supply.
So in conclusion I think until public transport is cheap and efficient, people will not use it, so continue to add to congestion. If a government is serious about congestion, not just after more money, they would use some of the massive road tax/petrol tax to help people be able to use public transport!
I'd had the Sony Ericsson K750i for 2 years, when the little joystick in the middle broke. This didn't seem too bad after 2 years of constant use, plus dropping it several times. I therefore decided to go for another Sony Ericsson, with similar features but no joy stick. I looked and found the W610i.
When it arrived I was impressed by the look of it. Very thin and the back is bright orange which I like (others may not!) It was easy to set up, just slip in the sim card, memory card and battery and off you go! It came with a USB cable, CD to link it to the PC, and power cable.
It only comes with one boring old game but others are available to download, some free via a PC. All the usual features are there, animated screen savers, photo phone book, colour menus, organiser, calendar, GPSR, calculator, infra red port, Bluetooth, alarm, built in modem. It is quad band, handy for USA holidays! You can download ring tones but not make your own. There is tuner thing, to tune your guitar, and a metronome for piano practice!
As it does not slide, you have to press two keys to manually lock the phone if you don't wish to dial out when it is in your bag! The silent vibrate mode is easily put on pressing one key.
It is a walkman phone so easy to put music on to it, and a dedicated key to switch the music on and off. You are able to create play list, plus put on bass etc. It comes with dedicated earphones. Personally I find these annoying as they are the buds to fit in your ear, and I can't keep them in! You are only limited to how many songs you put on by how large your memory card is. It comes with 512mb as standard, but you can cheaply buy up to 2GB.
The main feature I wanted was the 2 mega pixel camera. I must say this is a little disappointing. The photos are good enough to print if taken outside on a clear day. Indoor or at night, you have settings you can put on, plus a light, but the photos aren't that clear. I had bought a separate flash unit with my K750i and it doesn't work on this phone, which is annoying. It does video too but again, not brilliant quality, but fine for fun! Photos and video can easily be moved to PC via the USB cable. It is easy to send photos via MMS or email and the phone will make the photos smaller for you if you wish.
Overall I'm pleased with the phone, I paid £129 on virgin for it, but for that had 800 free texts over 4 months, plus they gave me £22 balance for sending my old phone back to them for recycling.
OK, let's start with a confession! I am a coffee addict! I now have 3 different pod coffee machines in my kitchen, and cupboards full of various types and blends of coffee! As well as the Tassimo I own a Senseo and Krups dolce gusto, each having their own good and bad points.
The Tassimo is probably the most high tech of the current pod systems around. It reads barcodes then makes the perfect cup size, strength and hotness based on that!
The Tassimo is no longer easy to purchase, I have no idea why, amazon don't sell it directly but through a seller (meaning you pay P+P!), Comet seems to be one of the few places I could buy one, although they won't sell it online, only it store. Currently it is £89.99 but no welcome pack, yes, how mean, not one single free coffee pod to try!
Set up and go:
It comes in a large box, well packed. It is easy to unwrap and assemble. You then fill the water container, switch on and lights flash at you. You have to insert a special plastic T pod and rinse out the machine before you are ready to use it. They suggested twice, I rinsed mine out 10 times to make sure!!
You then insert your T disc (if you've remembered to buy some in advance!), within a few minutes a green light appears, you hit start stop, after you put a mug under the nozzle! It makes a few weird noises plus stops and starts as it brews, but soon you have a hot, steaming delicious cup of coffee. You can then add milk if you wish. So very quick and easy to set up and use.
You do not need to wash anything between drinks unless you use milk or hot choc, then it is simply a case of rinsing a tiny part under the tap. Most parts of the machine are dishwasher proof for a good weekly wash if you wish.
The unit takes up the same amount of space as a toaster, but thinner and taller! I think it looks quite cool in a kitchen, I have the silver, but you can buy it in black too.
All the supermarkets I visit now sell the Tassimo T discs, as do ebay, but also their own website has an online shop selling a wider range again, many from abroad, plus herbal tea. The P+P online is £4.50 so worth stocking up while you pay that amount!
They have a massive range of coffees, for black coffee: espresso, café noir, decaffeinated (3 types online!), café creama, and classic blend. You can add milk to these as it comes out very hot, or buy milk T discs to add hot frothed milk (yukky taste I think!) For white coffee they sell cappuccino and latte, these look amazing but do taste a little plasticy to me, I'd rather real coffee and real milk!
I'm impressed by these as most coffee machines don't make tea, or make it like cat's pee! Tassimo tea is hot and strong. They do twinning English breakfast, twinning Earl Grey, then 3 herbal teas: green tea with mint, camomile and orange, and fruits of the forest. All a nice change when you've had too much caffeine!
Wow! Made by Suchards so how you could it not be amazing?
These are not cheap, but I think they are worth it, especially when you compare the price off coffee out in Starbucks etc with this! I certainly drink coffee more in and less out now, so save money, I think!
The packs vary but apx cost is £2.99 for 16 discs. That does mean the cappo and latte are double as you use a milk disc and a coffee disc for each cup. So about 18-19p a cup on average. Often supermarkets will sell 4 packs for £10 so worth stocking up then!
T o sum up:
This gadget won "coffee maker of the year" award for 2007. I couldn't disagree with that. It is stylish, not too large, easy to use, very easy to clean and maintain. It makes hot, delicious coffee, tea and hot chocolate quickly. I love the wide range of drinks and different strength coffees for every taste. I no longer use instant coffee at all.
If I had to choose between the Dolce and Gusto and Tassimo, I couldn't! I love both and suggest you buy both! (then enlarge your kitchen!)
Nabaztag is a plastic rabbit shaped gadget that communicates wirelessly over a wireless network.
We first had a Nabaztag a year ago as a gift. It arrives in a sturdy box, you take it out, attach a pair of ears in the slot, plug it in to an electricity slot, and are ready to set it up on your home network. Very simple so far.
You need to enter your home network wireless settings, find the new gadget, which is listed as Nabaztag, and enter the password to allow it to access your home network. You then have to go to the Nabaztag homepage: http://www.nabaztag.com/en/index.html
This page is very annoying as it sings at you!!! You then have to enter your personally serial number that comes on a card with your smart rabbit, then decide on Bunny's name and password!
You can then use the Nabaztag website to send messages to other Bunny's around the world which are read out in a choice of voices and accents, surprising clear actually! If you don't wish to subscribe you have a set number of messages per month (10 last time I looked but it keeps changing). There are set phrases that you can send as many as you like, but they limited. You can also sign up for 1 free service, such as the weather forecast at a set time a day, but more services you need to pay for. You can also send a set amount of MP3's a month, which are played very clearly by internal speakers. If you are in work, you could send your children messages or instructions! You can set your bunny to go to sleep and wake up and set times, or he'll talk all night! You can set up various blogs to be read by Bunny, and have live news via RSS feeds. You can set rabbit face up to flash in a certain pattern when you receive email. These 2nd generations Bunny's have voice recognition to, which is not avaible in the 1st generation.
When Bunny talks he has different coloured lights that flash, and his ears turn around in various directions, all of which is great at first, and very irritating after a while. My cat was terrified of this gizmo!
There are new services and programmes being written all the time for these Bunnies, so the internet is the limit with them.
However, we found ours really cute and fun at first, then very, very annoying. If you put the Bunny in room where you need to concentrate or watch TV he constantly interrupts you! If you put him somewhere quiet you never see or hear him! The final straw for us, was when he started to sing adverts! The Disney one to be precise, at least 10 times a day! We suddenly realised we were easy targets for anyone who wanted to spam in real time over the internet! We disconnected, and to our horror, we kept getting emails from the company asking why we'd disconnected! So they knew when Rabbit was online and off, they had access to our email account, and could target us with adverts! Not good we thought so we have stayed unplugged ever since!
I'm sure these things have a use and are at the cutting edge of all sort of developments for the future, but they need to sort out adverts if they are to succeed!
As there is no photo of this product, allow me to explain. The play block looks like a 4" piece of tree trunk that has been hollowed out to form a smooth tube inside, and then various holes drilled into it too. It has been smoothed off to prevent little creatures' feet getting splinters!
It is designed for small creatures such as hamster, mice and gerbils.
It serves two purposes:
1. It is fun for the little things to play with, they love running through the tube, then popping out of the various holes in it. My hamster, Homer, also enjoyed climbing on top of it. This gives your little creature fun but also valuable exercise.
2. Rodent's have teeth that grow continually so they need to gnaw in order to keep their teeth down; otherwise it is an expensive visit to the vet to have them cut. This block gives something to gnaw on safely, and keeps the furry little thing's teeth in excellent shape!
These are easily purchased from any pet store, or ebay and other online shops. Mine cost £4.99 in Wyevale, not bad as my hamster loves it!
You can also buy these play blocks in plastic, they have similar design and can also be gnawed. You can buy several plastic tubes and they clip together in different shapes to keep your little creature amused. I use one of these when Homer comes out to play, as there is not enough room in his cage for all his toys! He does however seem to prefer the wooden one for gnawing, which is why I leave that one in his cage.
They do need washing occasionally, the wooden one then need to be dried out carefully before returning it to the cage. The plastic one is easy to dry.
So good value for money, and provides hours of fun for your little furry friend!