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The first modern day greyhound race was way back in 1926. It was hosted at Belle Vue Stadium in Manchester which still holds meetings today. For all those who have never seen greyhound racing, it is very simple to follow. Six dogs chase a mechincal hare around an ovoid track and the first dog over the line wins. THE TRAPS Each dogs wears a different colour jacket depending on what trap he is in. Trap 1 wears red, trap 2 wears blue, trap 3 wear white, trap 4 wear black, trap 5 wears orange and trap 6 wears black and white stripes. The coloured jackets make it very easy to identify each dog as it is running around the track. The process to choose which dog comes out of which track is a very simple but important one. Dogs are either classed as railers (this means the run close to the rail), middlers (the just run down the middle), or wide runners (this means that as they run around the bends, they go to the outside of the track). Based on this fact there is a draw between the two railers for traps 1 and two and another for the wide runners for trap 5 and 6. This makes the race as safe as possible as well as being fair to all the dogs involved. THE DISTANCES There are four distances that dogs can run. The two main ones are 484 meters (this does vary from track to track). This are known as A races. The second is a slightly shorter distance of 442 meters, known as Q races. Some dogs can run for a longer distance with ease and these are known as "stayers". These dogs are entered for marathon races which cover a distance of 660 meters. These races are known as S races and are very exciting to watch. They cover six bends rather than four and that extra distance means that the start isnt so important. What is fantastic to watch about these races is that the dogs knows excatly when to stop pacing himself and run at full speed. The final distance is quite rare but it is a short sprint. These races dont come up that often at meeting as it doesnt suit very many dogs. Greyhounds can also run hurdle races. These are run over all distances expect the sprint. Dogs that do hurdle races are often dogs that have "turned" on another during a race and the hurdles make it more interesting for them. GRADING Each track has a grading system that goes from 1-9 (with 1 being the best). Before a dog is allowed to race at a track, it has to have at least three trials to the racing manager knows which grade the dog is most suitable for. The dogs grade is reviewed after each race so that if he does a very good time, he will be moved up to the next grade. If a dog isnt doing very well, and his times have gone right down, then he will be put down a grade. This system means that each dog should be up against five other dogs that are capable of silimar times. The best dogs in the country arent called graders but open racers. This means, unlike the graders, they can race at any track in the country. These dogs are the best of the best and you can always guarentee a good race with opens. This is reflected with the prize money. The average 1st prize for a graded race is £100, the winner of the Greyhound Derby walked away with a £50,000 cheque. Enough said I think!! THE NRGC The National Greyhound Racing Club looks after all the licensed tracks. It was set up 1928 and its aim was to make sure fair racing was in play. It makes sure that none of the dogs can be tampered with in anyway prior to a race. Each dog is weighed before each race and a major increase or descrease will mean the traing facing the stewards to explain why. The most important thing that the NRGC do is to stop the use of drugs. A urine sample is taken from all the dogs prior to their race. If a dog runs a race that is alot faster than its previous form, another urine sample is then taken. If answers still havent been found then the trainer is forced infront of the stewards to explain. Another huge part that the NRGC play is to register all racing greyhounds. Owners as well as trainers are monitered and anyone deemed unfit will be banned from owning or training greyhounds in the future. Not all tracks are controlled by the NRGC. These tracks are called falpping tracks and most arent very nice places. They have hardly any controls and I dread to think what happens inside these tracks. I would avoid these tracks and stick to the licensed ones where the rules have to be followed and obeyed. GOING RACING Although every track is different you will pay about £5 on average. This will include your race card that gives you all the races as well as the history of all the dogs racing. This helps to give a picture of what each dog is capable of and so, in theory, pick the winner. You dont have to bet but it does add to the fun if you. Each stadium will have a tote and some independant bookies. The minimium straightbet on the tote (again it varies) is 50p. If you would rather bet in notes, then bet with the bookies as you will get better odds. Each staduim has an outside area that is brilliant for the atmosphere. You can always pick out the owners shouting and screaming their dogs home. The is an inside area with a bar and usually some sort of food area for things like burgers and chips. Some of the larger stadiums also have large restuarants which makes a brilliant night out. Most stadiums have racing three or four times a week in the evening. Some also have afternoon racing known as BAGS. This stands for Bookmakers Afternoon Greyhound Service and these are the races that are shown at the bookies in the highstreet. It is worth contacting your local stadium as many offer special deals to try and draw in more system. This may include a drink, a burger and a £1 tote bet all included in your admission fee. I hope that I have laid to rest some of the myths of greyhound racing. Its not full of men in camel coats smoking cigars and you will find a lot of families with children going there. Greyhounds love to race and are very well cared for. There are strigent rules that have to be followed so all the dodgey dealing that are shown in TV shows (such as dogs being swapped) are impossible in real life. Just remember that you cant force an animal to run if it doesnt want to and once a greyhounds has had enough, it will certainly let it be known. Greyhound racing isnt just a summer sport but runs all year long (weather permitting of course!) So support your local track and go and have some fun!!
When we finally had enough money to buy a camcorder I was totally confused with the different makes and models on the market. It seemed that you could spend as little or as much as you wanted and the technology on them all, seemed to be very different indeed. We had set ourselves a budget of £500 and we went about the task of seeing what we could get for our money. It took several weeks but in the end we choose the Sony DCR-TRV130 and this is why...... The camcorder is digital. With it costing £500 it is one of the cheaper digital camcorders on the market and so I did wonder if that meant the quality wouldnt be as good. My fears were put to rest straight away. The picture quality is superb. It is very crisp and clear and with this quality alone I felt like we had made the right choice. The main features are: Adjustable exposure. There is a nightshot feature which is very simple to operate and is very effective. If the nightfeature isnt enough then the supernightshot should do the trick. This makes the subject about 16 times brighter than using the nightshot. A very simple idea that is very effective. There are also modes called:- SPOTLIGHT - This stops people faces from being extremelly white when using in places such as a Theatre were there are strong lights in the area. SOFT POTRAIT - This brings out the person or subject and makes the background seem very soft. SPORTS LESSON - This vertually stops the shake on fast moving subjects such as in football or tennis. BEACH AND SKI - This helps peoples faces from being made very dark by the light reflecting off the beach or off the snow. SUNSET AND MOON - This allows you to maintain atmosphere and is brilliant when recording sunsets or firework displays. LANDSCAPE - This is when you are filming something in the distance and it prevents the camcorder from focusing on glass if you are behind a screen or a window. LOW LUX - This makes what you are filming brighter if there isnt enough light. To help your recording look like a masterpiece the camcorder also includes:- A fader (speaks for itself I think!) Special effects - I havent really mastered the art of this yet, but you can add special effects to your recording. These can include things such as a still image superimposed on a moving image, swapping a brighter area in a still image with a moving image and you can even add an old movie type atmosphere to your masterpiece. All this is very good but it is quite technical and I havent quite worked it all out yet!! Superimposing a title - You can chose one from eight preset titles (which are hello, happy birthday, happy holidays, congratulations, our sweet baby, wedding or vacation. You can then change the language the size and the colour. Zoom Lens - This is brilliant. I cant remember what the actual ratios are but we have recorded things that you can just see on the horizon with your eye, and using the zoom, they come at as clear as they are standing right next to you. One major advantage of a Digital camcorder is that you can take stills from it. When recording normally, you simply press a button and it freezes that frame for five seconds. We have managed to get some excellent pictures like this, although they arent as clear as they are from a normal camera. The only disadvantage to this camera is that is doesnt have a memory card. This means that if you have been recording for a little while and you have taken a "picture" the middle, the only way to find it is to rewind and search using your own eyes, rather than the camcorder doing it for you. All in all and Im very pleased with this Sony camcorder. It has everything we will ever need. As well as the added features it also has a LCD screen which I personally find much easier than using the eyepiece. The quality of the film is perfect and, on the whole is it e asy to use. Although it isnt the smallest camera on the market (this is partly because it uses the slightly larger H8 tapes), it is quite light and I can hold it for quite a while whilst filming. The buttons that you use whilst filming (such as the fade) are in a sensible place, so you can easily reach them without having to search for them. For the money, I dont think that there is a better digital camcorder on the market and I really cant think of a bad thing to say about it!! Top marks for Sony!!
"I cant believe the news today, I cant close my eyes and make it go away." Ok, so they may be the words from a U2 song about another terrible bloody mess but they are so true. Even now, when I see the pictures on the television, I still cant quite believe that a human being would do this to another human being. The first question I have to ask myself is how did this happen. I know that over the years many aeroplanes have been hijacked and people on the planes have been murdered, but how did they manage to fly these planes into such prominent buildings without even being tracked? Surely some sort of air traffic control monitors all its own airspace? How did four aircraft manage to be hijacked at the same time albeit from different airports? And how did these evil men manage to do all that they did armed only with penknives? Does that mean there was too many of them for the passengers and crew to overcome? Im sure that as the weeks pass, some of these questions will be answered but not all of them. Im sure that we, the ordinary people will never get the full story of what happened on that dreadful day. My next questions have got to do with why? Why is there such hate in the world today? Surely humans can all get along with each other. Why would someone feel it right that another nation deserves to have as many people killed as possible and think that it is right. What sort of bitter and twisted minds have they got. Dont these people understand that the victims were just ordinary people, with families, just trying to make a living and get on with their lives. They had no power over the way the country is run. I know that for a great mnay years America has been hated by so many nations. I can only think its because of some sort of jealousy. Jealousy of the power America holds, jealousy of the money and success it has. Does that make it right for thousands of people to be murdered? This barbaric attack on human life must have taken mo nths, if not years of planning. There must have been many people involved and money must have changing hands for the right information. Noone has claimed responsiblity for this madness. I can only think its because they are cowards. They wanted to cause major destruction to their enemy, without any warning. The killed thousands of innocent and unsuspecting people and they cant even even tell they world who they are. I heard on the news today that the FBI have got 40 suspects. I guess these people are just at the bottom of the ladder. The people at the top will never get caught and they will be able to carry on their lives, basking in the glory of their success. The day will come though that they will have to face "their god" and I hope on that day they get all that they deserve. In my lifetime, I have seen such brutality and evil. I am only 29 but I have seen wars and I have seen innocents murdered. There doesnt seem to be a night pass where one nation isnt fighting with other. I look back on the world and all that has happened and i think that we have made such a mess of things and sometimes i feel truely ashamed to be human. My thoughts will remain for a very long time, not only with the families of the victims but also with the survivors. I think the will spend the rest of their lives haunted by the images they have wittnesed.
Chessington has changed a lot over the past 20 years. When I first went there it was a zoo with a handful of rides and a circus. These days the animals have taken a back burner and at the forefront of the park is the rides. Chessington is split into nine zones. Each zone is clearly signposted and on each signpost it states what rides are in that zone. This makes Chessington really easy to navigate around as they also place maps of each section at the begining of the zone. Each zone has a theme and so the decor of the buildings and even the eating areas reflect what zone you are in. This may seem a very simple idea but it does make life really easy. The nine zone are: MYSTIC EAST The rides here are Dragon Falls and Samurai. Dragon Falls is a long flume ride. It is gentle for a long time and tends to lead you into a false sense of security. It may seem gentle but you will get very wet. This is the only ride in the park that has a virtual Queue. Samurai is a stomach churning ride that I dont think I will be brave enough to go on. The only way I can describe it is that there are six struts coming of a central base. You sit in the strude side by side. The whole ride then circles around backwards and then each individual strut then spins around 360 degrees. The screams for this ride can be heard at the other end of the park! The main eating place in this zone is a chinese restuarant. FORBIDDEN KINGDOM The rides in this zone are Forbidden Tomb and Rameses Revenge. I havent been in the Forbidden Tomb for a few years but if it hasnt changed then you are in a car that travels around inside a building. You are following the story of an explorer and although the ride is hardly heart stopping stuff, there are a few sharp bends and "scary" visuals. Rameses Revenge is a spinning ride but also a wet ride. There are three rows of seats and you sit side by side and about 15 people fit in each row. The operators are in total control of this ride so it really does vary. The ride has a large arm at either end which lifts it up and then it spins 360 degrees. Sometimes the operators make it spin continually for a few minutes but other times it hardly spins at all. All the time you are spinning you are aware of jets of water just infront of you. At the end of the ride the operator positions you so you are ever so slowly moving straight towards the water. All of a sudden the jets are put on full power and they are right in face and you soaked to the skin. This ride is very funny to watch if you are not brave enough to go on it yourself! MEXICANA The rides in this zone are Rodeo, Rattlesnake and the Runaway Train. The Rodeo is a fast moving walzer and the Rattlesnake is the same as a mousetrap ride. Both too fast for young children. The Runaway train is the closest ride you will get to a rollercoaster. Although its not very long and you dont get that many twists and turns, it does build up some speed and so you do get thrown around quite a bit. My daughter, who is three, said this was her favourite ride. If you fancy something Mexican to eat then this is the place as they have a Mexican Diner that sells a variety of food. BEANOLAND This is a fairly new zone to the park and it aimed at children. The rides here are Rodger the Dodger Dodgems, Bash Street Bus and Billys Whizzer. The bash Street Bus is a childs version of the Magic Carpet. Although it doesnt look like much it did make my stomach lurch! Billys Whizzer are chairopanes. These go quite high and are very fast so not suitable for young children. As well as the rides this zone offers mischief for children. There is a fountain that squirts water that the children can control by pushing buttons and there are water fountains in the ground. There is a Denis the Menis show that although doesnt last very long, is very good entertainment and more water fights are guarenteed. The final part of this zone is a section where you can fire water bombs at each other. It has to be said that the children didnt seem to be getting a look in here as the adults had taken over. Lots of the characters from the beano also walk around and shake hands with the children and cause even more trouble! TOYTOWN This is the main area for small children. the rides here are Tiny Truckers, Carousel, Flying Jumbos, Berry Bouncers and Toadies Crazy cars. Tiny Truckers are trucks that you can ride on with your children. They can be inside the truck so they can "drive" and then you are on top on the outside. Be warned though because you do looks really silly and you will be laughed at! The carousel is very slow moving so it is suitable even for babies. The flying Jumbos were my youngest (18 months) favourite ride. This is yet another ride where adults are also allowed on them. Each elephant fits two people and the fly around in a circle. There is a stick in the front that lets each person move their elephant up and down. Great fun! The Berry Bouncers are the same as the bouncing star that you get in funfairs. Six people sit side by side and the ride gently moves up and down by bouncing. Once again adults are allowed on this ride but it is desinged with children in mind and I just about managed to squeeze my big bum into the seat...enough said I think! Toadies Crazy cars are vintage cars that run around a track. They each set four people and the front has steering wheels so the kids can "drive". Speakers at the back of the car let out very loud laughter from Toad. As you move around the track you can see different scenes from The Wind in the Willows. A very enjoyable ride for kids of all ages (it was my husbands favourite!). PIRATES COVE This is only a small zone and the rides are Black Buccaneer and Seastorm. Black Buccaneer is a Pirate Ship that rocks form side to sid e and makes you feel like you might fall out. Seastorm looks like a childrens ride as it is a carousel with boats on it, but once it starts going, it gets quite fast. Not really suitable for young children. MARKET SQUARE If you are feeling hungry then this is the place to be. Here you will find KFC, Pizza Hut and even a pub that serves a BBQ. In the centre of Market Square, there is entertainment in the form of clowns. The only ride in this zone is the Safari Skyway. This is a monorail that runs above the animals section of the park. TRANSYLVANIA The main ride in this zone is the Vampire Ride. Unfortuantly this is closed this year due to major redevlopement. This just leaves Professor Burps Bubbleworks. This is a boat ride that is inside. You are in a round boat that seats six people and you float around the story of Professor Burp. At the ned of the ride though, there is strobe lighting and you will get wet! If this ride makes you hungry then there is a fairly large McDonalds. ANIMAL LAND This part of the park is often missed out by people that just want the thrills and spills of a theme park. It is such a shame because there is a fair amount to see. You can follow the Trail of Kings around and get a close up view of the Gorillas, lions, tigers, leopards and a sevral. There are also sealions and the show is well worth watching. There are also a variety of monkies and birds. My overall impression of Chessington is very good. The park is well thought out and there are little things that make a big difference to your day. I was a bit worried that my husband and I would be bored sensless putting the girls on and off the rides all day. It was great that we could go on all the rides with them and also that so many rides were suitable for Emily even though she is only 18 months old. There are plently of places to eat although it can work out expensive. If you decide to bring your own food, th ere is plenty of places to eat as there are tables scattered around the park and also a large grass area. There are toilets and baby changing all over the park and are all kept very clean. Other facilities include a medical centre, cashpoints, a mothers feeding room, lockers and buggy and wheelchair hirer. The only downside that I can think of is the price. Adults pay £19.50 and children pay £16. Under 4's are free but I really do feel that under 5's should be free. You can buy a family ticket that works out slightly cheaper but my advice is look out for offers at various high street stores that offer two for the price of one at various theme parks. The park is open from late March through to October. Opening times vary depending on the time of years. At the height of summer, it opens at 9.30 (rides open at 10) and closes at 7.30. We had a fantastic day and spent a whooping eight hours at the park! If you want more information check out their website on www.chessington.co.uk. If you want to prebook tickets, you can do so on their website and save yourselves a few pounds.
At the end of the last book we find that Bridget has got her man and plans to live happily ever after. Huh, fat chance of that Im afraid and so we are let into yet another year of Bridget Jones. Things go very much down hill when Bridget is convinced that Mark has got a thing about "stick insect" Rebecca and Mark is convinced that Bridget has got something going with just about every man in London. After consulting her mass of self help books and of course her friends Shaz, Jude and Tom, it is decided to let Mark go. After all everyone knows its much better to be a singleton that a smug-married so Bridget is sure that she will be happier. Bridget then finds herself back to how she was a year previous and is once again checking answer machine at every possible moment and of course 1471 but still no word of Mark. The format of this book has changed very slightly from the first. The chapters arent seperated into months but into "little stories" and I think that her diary has turned into yet another obession. She writes entries as things happened so on somedays she will write 5 entries that cover a ten minute period. This may sounds a bit daft but it actually gives an extra dimension to Briget and you can see even more where her line of thought is going. This also makes Bridget seem even more neurotic than before and so even funnier. There are serveral parts of the book that are fantastic and are guarenteed to make you laugh out loud. One is when Tom gives Bridge the idea to become a freelance journalist. Bridget is convinced that this will be the life for her and so sets about an interview with Colin Firth, the original Mr Darcy. Of course things dont go to plan and the outcome is v.good indeed! Disaster does knock at Bridgets door when she and Shaz go away together to Thailand for a man free holiday. Things dont go according to plan and Bridget is held in a Thai prison on account of drug smuggl ing. I dont really need to tell you who comes to her rescue do I? I found this book even funnier than the first and it is still set out in the easy to read format that you dont have to concentrate on. I found every page of the book really good and just wanting to read "just one more page" all the time. I cant say why, but I did feel the end was a bit of a let down and not up to the standard of the rest of the book. It is the same Bridget and she is still dieting and trying to give up her vices but all these things just make Bridget normal and we all find ourselves relating to her in one way or another. Maybe her and Adrian Mole could meet up one day....I would like to read their diaries of they did!
I think that Lynda LaPlante is one of the most talented female writers this country has produced. Most people will have either read or seen something of Lynda's and I would think most people would have enjoyed it. Most of her writing would come under the category of crime/thriller. They are exciting stories and have many twists and turns along the way and quite often leave you very confused until very near the end. If you would like to read something different by her I would like to recommened a book called "Entwined". This book was written back in 1992 and the backdrop to the story is the Holocaust. Have you ever heard the name Mengele? Well I never had but he was infamous in the Auschwitz camp. He was a doctor that was posted there to do experiments. His great passion was twins and he carried out a variety of tests trying to work out how great telepathy between twins really is. I wont go into great details, but what this man done to children is truelly evil. Mengele was only at Aushwitz for a year but in that time it is estimated that three thousand twins passed through his experimental labs and only two hundred were known to have survived. The story starts in current times in Berlin. A rich Baroness is being taken to a very good doctor. She has very bad mental problems and this is a last resort for her husband. She has mood swings and lashes out at people without even knowing why or ever having a memory of it after. It is hoped that Dr Franks will be able to hypnotise and find the root of her problems and cure her tormented mind. Ruda is a wild cat trainer at a circus in Berlin. She has never made any secret that she was a prisoner at Auschwitz. although she never tells anyone what she suffered. She can remember her twin and they were seperated after the camp was liberated and she hasnt seen her since. She is tormented by the horrors that Mengele put her and her sister through. She has scars on her templ es where she was electrocuted. She has scars on her body where all her internal sex organs were removed but worse are the scars in her mind as day after day she relives the torture that "Papa" as the twins had to call him, put her and her sister through. Once out of the camp, Rebecca got taken to a hospital. People didnt realise that she had been in the camp. Everyone that was in the camp were bearly more than a bag of bones, but here was a little girl that looked fat. What outsiders didnt realise what that she was bloated from all that drugs that was injected into her body. A Canandian helper was at the hospital and took a shine to Rebecca. There was so many orphan children in Berlin after the war, they decided to adopt her and take her back to Canada. Her new family couldnt cope with Rebbeca. She was silent, would steal of anyone and was very abusive. Her adoptive mum found that the only way to control Rebecca was through hypnotism. It took time but she taught Rebecca to lock away her past inside her. Lock it away and forget about it. As the years went by, she had forgotten everything about the camp and forgotten that she even had a sister. The only family she knew was her Canadian ones. Life after liberation was very different for Ruda. She was a walking skeleton with a temper. She was placed in a mental institude. Life was terrifying for her. She was terrified of everyone in white coats and gloves as she thought they would carry on the experients but these people were everywhere. Out of desperation she ran away. She was looked after by the local madam, who in the end introduced her to prostition. Ruda had one aim and that was to flee to America. Adult life for Ruda was always a struggle. She turned to prostition to earn money and nothing was easy for her. Rebecca on the other hand became a top model and then married a French Baron. Money was never a worry but she had terrible nightmares that she didnt understand and would do strange things infront of her children and frighten them. One such incident was when she stacked up all her young daughters dolls and them set them on fire. She didnt understand why she done it but later found out it was because that was what she had seen at the camp. She had witnessed women given birth on a stone slab outside and then the babies being stacked up and then set on fire. The book doesnt take long to get into as it does get down to the facts straight away. There arent many characters in the book and the plot isnt at all complicated so it is very easy to follow. Although it is a very simple story it is so very tragic. The actual story of Rebecca and Ruda is fiction, what Lynda descibes as their time at the camp did actually happen. Lyndas brilliant mind plays with the words and so many things go unsaid but she makes you see beyond the written word. It made my blood go cold to think that this wasnt hundreds of years ago but a mere fifty. This isnt something that happened thousands of miles away in some strange country but here in Europe. Although this book isnt full of the usual twists and turns of Lyndas work, it is a brilliant read. It must have been a very difficult story to write, trying to put yourself in the shoes of two women that have been through unimaginable horrors. Lynda carries it off beautifully and so tells the untold story of the Holocaust. I find it very hard to believe that I had never heard the story of the thousands of twins that were tortured in the name of science. I think that possibly Lynda was shocked and horrified as well and thats why she wrote this book so the world knows what evil Mengele and people like him can do. It made me stop and think and maybe it will you to.
Its scary when you think how much money you borrow when you buy you own home. Most people, once the mortgage has been signed, tend to carry on paying each month without much thought of it. My husband and I were such people until my brother mentioned how much his repayments was going to be on his new mortgage. This set alarms bells ringing for me as we were paying a lot more, for a similar amount of borrowing. Over the years Direct Line have got our business. Both our car and home insurance is cheaper than anywhere else we have found and we did find it the cheapest place for a loan a few years ago. I decided to have a little look at their website to see what they have to offer. They have a handy little calculator on their site that means you can find out very quickly how much your repayments will be. You just enter how much you think your home is worth, how much you want to borrow and over what period. It will then tell you what your monthly repayments will be. I found the actual rates a lot cheaper than our current ones with the Abbey National. At the moment for the first six months there is quite a large discount so the rate is 3.75%. For months six to 36 its 6.25% and then it goes upto their standard rate of 6.46%. I worked out that we would be saving at least £30 a month which over the whole course of the mortgage is a massive amount. The Direct Line mortgage is a flexible mortgage so this gives you severval different options. You dont have to pay the set amount each month, you can pay more if you wish. If you pay more on a regualar basis then this makes a huge difference to the amount of interest you pay. You can do this at any time and it doesnt have to be by prior arrangement. The quote that Direct Line have given is that if your mortgage is £70,000 and you pay an extra £95 a month, then over the course of the 25 years you will save a whooping £25,277. Not bad really is it?! They is also an option that you can pay less each month or even take a payment break. Its nice to know these things are avaliable as you never know what around the corner. When your mortgage is agreed by Direct Line they set a credit limit. This means that you can borrow upto this amount at anytime for any reason and that money will just be added onto your current mortgage. Just to give you an idea, my husband can borrow another £27,000. What a scary thought! You may be put of a remortgage because of cost and the actual effort of contacting everyone invloved and so decided that all the fuss isnt worth the effort. Direct Line have made it very simple. *Step one. Give them a ring. They take all your details down and the call takes around 20 minutes. They then set the ball in motion. They arrange for a survey to be done and although you do have to pay for this, they do refund at completion. If you agree to use Direct Lines solicitors you dont pay any legal fees. Once again, Direct Line sort all that out and you dont have to do anything. *Step two Forms will come fast and furious through the post but they are very simple to understand. All you need to do is read them, sign them, and post them back. *Step three Well thats it really. The solicitors will get in contact with your old mortgage company and as soon as completion has taken place, they just forward the money on to them. There is now massive competition in the mortgage so dont be tied to your old lender. Big companies have made it easy to change to them so take advantage. Although you may think you have to pay out a lot, at the end of the day, they only thing that we have to pay is a redemption fee to the Abbey for £85 and this we will save in the first months repayment with Direct Line. Make sure though that you do check with your current lender as many do put redemption clauses into their contracts. Start looking around today and you to could so on be saving a fortune! If you are interested in contacting Direct Line then the number is 0845 246 8165 or visit them at www.directline.co.uk/mortgages.
When my husband announced that he wanted a widescreen TV, my inital reaction was "Oh no...what do we want one of those for? Cant we just keep our normal TV?" These days I am glad that he stuck to his guns and even I can see how much better this Tv is. The TV has a flat screen which I had always thought was just to make the set look nicer. What is actually does is somehow reflect the light of the actual screen. When the sun is coming through the window, I can still see a brilliant pciture which is great news if your room is south facing! With a normal screen the best way to look at the picture is to sit right in front of it. The more off to the side you sit, the less of the screen you can see. This isnt so with a flat screen so this means that you can sit virtually anywhere in the room and still be able to see all the picture. The size of the screen itself is 28 inches and I find this just right for a normal size room. I think that if you go much bigger, you will be sitting too close to it and so not get the full benefit. The television itself is very easy to set up as you just follow very simple instructions and it is all done in a matter of minutes. The instructions are all on screen and its just a matter of pressing a few buttons on the remote control to confirm that everything is ok. There are six different size settings for the picture and these are: Normal - a standard size picture with a border at both edges. Panoramic - the picture is streched on both the left and right hand sides to fill the screen and it doesnt make things change shape! The only problem with this setting is that if you are watching something with writing at the top of the screen (like football with the scores) or something where there are sub titles then you do lose the writing as it cuts of the top and bottom of the picture. 14:9 Zoom - the wide picture is zoomed up to the upper and lower limits. We never use this mode as it does seem pretty pointless. 16:9 Zoom - the wide picture is zoomed up so it covers athe whole screen. We really dont like this mode as it seems to distort certain things. 16:9 Zoom subtitle - the wide picture is zoomed up so you can see any subtitles that appear but it does cut of the top of the screen. Full - a normal sized picture is stretched to fill the whole screen. This mode does sound the best but it does take some getting used to as it makes people look like they have doubled in size!! I was quite suprised at the effect that the different screen modes have on the picture and it does take a while to get used to what type of programme to watch on what mode. The setting are very easy to change so it doesnt cause much of a problem but it is frustrating to have a husband that keeps flicking the screen from one mode to another just to get it perfect! The actual picture quality itself though is crystal clear and it makes me wonder how we used to suffer watching the old TV. The TV has nicam sound which means that the speakers are built into the set. If you wish, you can link them up with your stereo but the sound is lovely on its own so we have never bothered. The sound is very clear and like the picture, has several different settings. You can alter the bass and the treble on it and it does make alot of difference. If you are listening to a music programme or a good film, then it has something called Hyper Sound. This is to give sound a wider ambience and it does work. It makes it sound like its coming from a good quality stereo rather from the TV. You do need to bear your neighbours in mind when using this mode though as the sounds really do travel!! The Tv comes with fast text, a child lock, and a sleep timer. You can set this for a maximum of two hours to go off in ten minutes increments. The TV itself is silver and although we thought it looks really lovely, my mother thought it l ooked old fashioned so I guess thats just a matter of taste. It comes with its own stand that sits flush with the television and has two glass shelves. I really love our new television. It has a crystal clear picture and the sound is near perfect. Although the picture settings can be annoying, you do find the right one in the end. We paid £500 for our one (I think the RRP is £650) to be quite honest, Im not sure what you are paying for when you go upto the £1000 mark. JVC has a good reputation for being reliable so hopefully we shall enjoying near perfect viewing for many years to come!
Bridgets first diary begins at about Christmas time and by the end of the first entry, you are begining to understand this woman. Bridget is in her early thirties and is single. This is the main thing in her life...the fact that she is single. Her mother and her mothers friends are always making comments about her being single which hurt her because she is so lonely. Bridget has decided that this year she is going to make big changes to her life and her diary is going to be proof of them. She sets herself some big New Year resolutions and records her day to day combat with them. The book is set out with an entry for most days and a separate chapter for each month. Each month has a title so you have a rough idea what sort of horror Bridget is about to endure. Before each days entry, Bridget keeps a record of the negative things in her life that she needs to change. The first is weight. She is totally obsessed by her weight and weighs herself every day and even gets up in the middle of the night to weigh herself. At the start of the year she weighs in at 9 stone but she is convinced that she really needs to lose 7 pounds. Next she records how many cigarettes she has had. It was one of her resolutions to give up but she does write down her excuses as to why she has been tempted! Next is how many calories she had consumed. This ranges anything from 600 right up to 6000. Again she gives excuses and reasons Some are really very funny and some even sound familiar! Throughout the year Bridget picks up other vices that she starts to record. This begins with her addiction to lottery instants and moves on to how many times she has dialed 1471 in the space of an hour. Bridget is very strongly influenced by her three best friends. They all have very strong characters that emgerge through Bridgets ramblings. Im sure that Helen Fielding could write diarys for them and they would be equally as funny as Bridgets. The last main influence on Bridgets life is her mother. I think she would be every mans worse nightmare for a mother-in-law and I think she is the reason that poor Bridget is so neurotic. Overall this book is exremelly funny to read. Helen Fielding has got an excellent sense of humour and so even when Bridget is feeling her worst, Helen makes you laugh. As the book is so light-hearted, it is easy to read even if you just have a few minutes to spare every now and again but I did find it difficult to put down as I just had to know what happened next. I am not a fast reader but I managed to read it all in two days so that should tell you how much I enjoyed it. Give it a go and I bet you can see a part of Bridgets character in yourself!
As BB2 has been on our screens for over a month now I guess its time that I put in my pennys worth about what I think about the people that are still left..... Amma In my mind Amma is taking the whole thing too seriously. Whenever you see her talking to someone or talking to Big Brother, she always thinks very carefully about her answers and they are always very serious. If one of the housemates asks her a question she is usually honest with them and she does get herself in some situations because she loves to debate. She doesnt seem to be particually close to any of the house mates and she can be quite often seen "eyeing up" different people trying to work them out. Maybe she, like so many people has a great distrust in the human race. Brian Brian loves to be the centre of attention. He has an excellent sense of humour and often turns on the humour when things are getting a little serious for him. Brian lves to talk and loves to make people around him laugh. I do get the impression though that he can be quite naive but he does know this and once again his humour comes to his rescue. The one downside to Brian is that I think he is used to getting his own way. He hides it most of the time but every now and again that sulky face comes to the surface! Bubble Bubble is the one housemate who I cant work out. One week I really dont like the chap, but the next I think hes wonderful. If first impression are anything to go by then I would say that he thinks too highly of himself. By the way he talks, he obviously feels like hes the best person in the house and so he should win the money. I get the impression that he doesnt really enjoy the company of the rest of the housemates and at times struggles in there. He comes across as being lazy but maybe he just likes time on his own. I do wonder though whether when he hurt his leg he was possibly milking it slightly to get him out of the dancing!! Dean Many people dont like Dean because he is classed as boring. I dont think his boring at all. He is very calm and doesnt let anything stress him out. He is always there to listen to peoples problems and I think he makes a great shoulder to cry on. There have been plenty of arguements in the house, but Dean never takes sides but just patiently listens to everyone. Dean is mature, calm and strong...just what that house needs! Elizabeth My first impressions of Elizabeth was that she was hiding something. I thought that she wasnt being true to herself and that she was sly. As time has gone on. I think she just wanted to see what people were like and hide in the background for a bit. Elizabeth, like Dean is mature and calm. She is a good listener and I think that she would be there for anyone who needed her. Elizabeth likes to have fun but doesnt like to be the centre of attention for too long. Helen Im sorry to say that I dont like Helen much. She is so full of herself that she doesnt seem to understand that other people in the house have needs as well as her own. She loves to be admired and had that need to be wanted. She is a very jealous lady and doesnt like it when she feels that someone has got one over on her. Helen has so many negative traits about her. She is loud, hurtful in her comments, vain and she has even lied on various occasions just to get sympathy. There is no way on earth that i could live in the same house has Helen for a week let alone months!! Josh I cant help but like Josh. He may be a posser but he isnt a boaster. He thinks that he has got a good body and not that he is Mr Wonderful. He comes across as being calm and placid and can take most things in his stride. He doesnt like to offend people and you can see him weighing things up before he opens his mouth. I think that at home, Josh is one of those people that cant sit still for long and always seem to have something on the go. You can see him kicking around the house alot these days so I guess that boredom has started to creep in. Paul I cant believe that Paul has been nominated every week. I really like the guy. I know that his story telling day in and day out must take its toll but it stands out a mile that he is a nice bloke. You can see that he might be a bit of a lad when hes at home but he is a caring person. He is not afraid of letting people know that he is a softie deep down and doesnt mind when his emotions get the better of him. It makes a change to see a man on telly that doesnt mind showing his inner feeling rather than pretending his the "hard nut". Please please dont vote Paul out this week because even if nothing else, his sleep talking should put a smile on many peoples faces!! Although I am enoying Big brother 2, the people are totally different from first time around. They dont seem to have jelled as well as a group and that can only be because they are all so different. I have to admit that I am also a bit chocked that I cant get E4 because it seems that us poor folks that cant afford digital miss out on a awful lot. Its great that Divina is still hosting the Friday night show but I do wish she wouldnt run about quite so much!! Who do I think might win it then? Well I have to say either Brian or Elizabeth at the moment. I do like Dean but I think he might start building enemies because so quiet. At the end of the day, whoever wins throughly deserves every penny of that money because because there is no way on earth I would like to be shut up in the house for all that time!
This is the first book in a set of three that Dave Pelzer has written about his life. I have been debating whether to read this book or not for some time as I have heard so many reports about how disturbing this mans story is. David Pelzer was a boy living in California. He had two brothers and lived a very happy life. His mother was doting and spent all her time attending to her childrens needs. His father was a firefighter and they were a close family how enjoyed family outings and especially the family holiday that they spend every year at Russian River. One day life changed for David. He noticed his parents behaviour start to change. Drinking sessions begining early in the afternoon became a regular occurance. As his dad was in the Fire service, he was often away from home. On these days his mother wouldnt move from the sofa. All day long she laid there not even bothering to get dressed. She was always angry and it was always David that ended up getting the brunt of her anger. The punishment was simple to start with. David was sent to his room and made to stand in the corner and not move until his mother said he could. As time passed Davids punishments got more and more severe. His mother changed from a loving warm woman to a vicious and evil women. She started playing games and using David as her pawn. The beatings got more and more severe. She beat him from one end of the room to the other. Beat him so hard that he couldnt even get up of the floor. The games then took a vicious turn. She took him away from the family and turned into what David himself calls a slave. She no longer allowed him to sleep in his bedroom but made him sleep in the basement on an old Army Cot. He was allowed no blankets and was only allowed on his cot at bedtime. The rest of the time he was either doing the chores around the house that his mother set him or sitting at the bottom of the stairs with his hand under his bum and his head thrown back. His mother m ade him sit like it as it was how prisoner of war were treated in the second world war. With each passing week his mother seemed to dream up more evil ways of punishment. One day because David had been a "bad boy" she put his arm over the gas ring on the cooker and burnt him. After doing this she told him to lay on top of the ring because bad boys needed to be punished. It was only his brother coming home that saved his life. Eating was a rarity for David. At the begining his mother allowed David to have what was left of his brother cereal in the morning, then he had a sandwich and lunch time but no dinner at diner time. As time grew on food was becoming less and less. He had to clear up after the family had their meal but he was only allowed left overs every three days. David was stealing food from other children from school out of desperation. One day he found that he could steal frozen meals from the canteen. His mother got wind of what he was doing and made him make himself sick. That then become the routine for David. Chores before school, a run to school as his mother no longer allowed him in her car, a run home again, his mother making him sick to make sure he wasnt getting anything to eat, more chores, toture from his mother then bed. This book is written in Davids own words and written in the way a child would. You can see the hatred there but it is like a childs hatred. Deep down all he wants is to be loved like every other child. He just needs the warmth of his mother and the love of his family. What I find totally unbelievable about Davids story is the fact that noone guessed for a great many years what was happening to David. At school everyone just thought he was a bad kid. How on earth can that be? He was always covered in bruises, he must have been gaunt and weak with hunger and his school clothes were rags but noone was there to help him. His mother was obviously a very very sick woman. Of cours e his brothers couldnt help him. They didnt understand what was happening. Their mother told them that David was a bad bad boy and they believed him. What I found truelly stomach churning though was the fact that his father knew everything that was happening and yet did nothing. He could see his son being beaten, starved and totured and yet done nothing. I think that he will have to live with these demons for the rest of his life. This story covers the first 11 years of David terrible life. This book shows never ever give up hope and shows how much courage even a child can find inside himself. I managed to read this book in a day as I was totally engrossed from start to finsish. By page 10 I had cried my eyes out twice and by the end of the book I think I was in total shock. I can only say that you should read this book for the sake of children like David and hope that we are wise enough in this day and age to be able to reconise child abuse and to put a stop to it.
TK Maxx life began in America over twenty years ago and now claims to be the biggest discount retailer in the world with shops in four countries. Their idea is simple: sell labeled clothes at huge discounted prices by taking the no thrills approach. They now have about 80 stores in the UK alone. TK Maxx sell a variety of womens, mens and childrens clothes and a small amount of household items and yes, they really are cheap. If you like your sports clothes, then I would recommened this shop as my husband had bought a pair of addidas trousers that cost him £25 in a certain well known sports store. Here they was selling them all for £10. What the no thrills approach means is that you wont find any fancy displays here. Everything is divided up departments such as ladies and mens and then divided on rails into sections such as skirts, tops or jeans. Each rail is then divided up into sizes so in theory it is very easy to find exactly what you are looking for. I really didnt like this set up at all. The sizes were actually all over the place and I seemed to spend ages looking without really seeing anything. The rails are so packed its difficult to see whats on them and these shops are huge that I think you would be in there all day of you wanted to look at all the rails. There was a section for "oversize women" which was for 16plus sizes. The choice here was terrible so maybe us "oversize" women just arent meant to wear designer gear!! My husband had more joy with the mens wear as once again there was a massive choice. He did find the same thing though about the sizes being all muddled up and was started to get slightly frustrated. The childrens clothes arent much better Im afraid. My youngest is coming up to 18 months and there wasnt one single thing there that fitted her. I had more luck with the eldest but I think their clothes are more aimed at children aged 5+. The homewear section sold a variet y of things such as sheets and pillows to knives and forks. The home section though was complete mess. It seemed as if things were just thrown on the shelves no matter what it was. They were pilled up so high and so tight that if by some miracle you found something you wanted, you wouldnt have a hope in hell in squeezing it out! They also sell a small amount of toys but these didnt stand out as being particually cheap and there really wasnt the choice there. My overall opinion of TK Maxx then is that if you are slim and you love your labels, you really could save money. The downside is that there is no order and choas rules in this shop so you need to give yourself plenty of time and be patient!!
The beginnings of 101cd.com started in a shop in Croydon and now they have got to be one of the best music online shops. They have four departments on their site that sell Music, Videos, Games and Books. The web site itself is very easy to navigate around and you will be sure to find what you are after in no time at all. You can use the search option to find what you are looking for or use the tabs at the top to access each indivual department and browse. Shopping in itself couldn't be easier. You just click on the item you want and then add to basket. If you find there are items that you are interested in but you cant afford them at the moment you can put them in your "hold bin". When you are ready to buy the items you simply go into your hold bin and transfer the item you are ready to purchase into your shopping basket. There are a variety of ways to pay for your order including the usual credit cards, sending a cheque via the post or using a paypal account. Once your order has been placed, they send you a confirmation email. Another email is then sent when your goods have been dispatched. What I found suprising about this website is how cheap the Cd's are. They have an enormous collection that are just £9.99 and the even better news is that if you order any of these then delivery is free. What a bargin! Even if your Cd's arent included in this then you will still only pay £1 for the first CD and then 25p for each one after that to a maximum of £4. The choice on this website is huge and they even have a massive range of imports from both USA and Japan but of course these do come at a price. I ordered three CD's that cost £9.99 each. As I didn't pay for delivery I wasn't really expecting a speedy service. I was in for a big suprise though. Even though I only placed my order at around 5pm yesterday afternoon, the CD's popped through my door this morning. Now thats what I call excellent service. Not only does 101cd.com offer a massive range at a good price, excellent service, they will also give you 3 ipoints for every £10 you spend. Now thats what I call an impressive website! I really cant fault this site at all. It quick, efficient and even a complete internet shopper can use it with ease.
So here I am at the ripe old age of 29 and I find myself reading a book aimed at under 10's. Even more embrassing to admit, is the fact that I throughly enjoyed it!! Harry Potter is an orphan who went to live with his Aunt and Uncle when he was only one year old. Aunt Perunia and Uncle Vernon dont like poor Harry much and so he does lead a bit of a sorry life. Perunia and Vernon have a son that is the same age as Harry and his name is Dudley. Dudley is the worst type of child. He is spoilt and always gets his own way. He is rude and cruel but worst of all he takes pleasure in being nasty to Harry. His parent always side with Dudley and so poor Harry is always getting into all sorts of trouble for things that wasnt really his fault. Harrys bedroom is actually the cupboard under the stairs. This is because Dudley needs two bedrooms...one for him and one for all his toys. Harry has all Dudleys old clothes and he doesnt have anything to call his own. To Harry's credit, none of this makes him bitter, but he just looks upon it all as normal as he doesnt know any different. Life soon begins to change for Harry when strange letters arrive for him. Of course he never gets to read them as Uncle vernon takes them away from him but he cant help but be curious. Every day these letters come and it is obvious that Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia are getting more and more stressed by their arrival. In the end Uncle Vernon takes matters into his own hands and moves them all to a place next to the sea, right in the middle of nowhere where no one will be able to find them. Unfortuantly, Vernons plan didnt work as the writter of the letters still manages to find Harry, and turns up on the doorstep in the early hours of the morning. The stranger's name is Hagrid and he has some very good news for Harry. It turns out that his Aunt and Uncle havent been completely truthfull with Harry. Harry is a very special little boy inde ed. His mother was a witch and his father was a wizard and they was not killed in a car accident as he had thought but by an evil wizard called Voldermort. This evil wizard tried to kill Harry, but he couldnt and all that Harry is left with is a scar on his forehead. Voldermort disappeared after his failure to kill Harry, and so Harry is regarded as a hero. As Harry is now 11 it is time for him to go to Hogwarts, the school for wizards and witches. For the first time in his life Harry makes lots of friends and he sets about learning how to be a brilliant wizard. He has lots of lessons to learn along the way, but with the help of some good friends, he manages once again to come good. Trouble is brewing at Hogwarts though and evil is in the air. Its up to our unassuming hero to save the day once again!! I enjoyed this book so much more than I though I was going to. It is only a small book (a litle over 200 pages) but his packed full of adventure. All the characters seem to come to life and the book did manage to keep me interested all the way through. Im sure that if ever JK Rowling wanted to upgrade the book and make it an adult series, it would be a huge success. So dont be ashamed to be seen reading a children book...just get stuck in!
We have come a long way since the first book in the Courtney series as the year is 1952. The main character in this book is Shasa Courtney, son of Centaine Courtney-Malcomess. Shasa is a politician and a very good one at that. He is married to Tara and they have four children. Shasa and Tara's marriage isnt a happy one. Shasa can not seem to resist a pretty woman and Tara knows that South Africa isnt looking after all her people. There is unrest across the country. Whites have total control over everything. Blacks are treated as second class citizens. They have no rights over how their country is ruled, they have their own townships to live in and black and white people are not allowed to be seen together. Whites look upon the black as evil and trouble and blacks hate the white for taking over their country. Black people have to carry around passes, much like the Jews had to in Europe during the second world war. They arent allowed to protest. If they do they get impossed with a banning order meaning they arent allowed to speak to more than two people at any one time and they have to report to the police station everyday and tell the police where they will be going. There are people though, that are willing to do anything to get power for all back to South Afica. People like Nelson Mandella and the very powerful Moses Gama. These people know they have to stand up to the terrible ways of the white rule. Tara Courtney has lived a life of luxury. Her father is leader of the opposition party and she is the wife of one of the richest men in the country. The Courtney business has gold mines, a fishing businesses and property to name but a few. Tara is willing to give up all this to do the right thing and help the black uprising. Although she is a well known activist, things take a turn for Tara when she meets and falls in love with Moses Gama. No-one could even dream how far Tara is willing to go to help Moses achieve his d ream of a black South Africa. She leads a double life but is totally besotted with Moses. Together they make a plot that could change South Africa forever...... This book is quite heavy going as it is based around the facts of post war South Africa. I found some of the book quite disturbing in places and I couldnt believe how little I knew about what South Africa was like for the black people. The book is very long, nearly 900 pages, so unless you read alot, it might be one to stay away from. Wilbur Smith has got a fantastic talent and seems to make all of the characters come alive. You can feel how powerful Moses Gama is, you can feel how forceful Centaine is. You can feel the anger in the air that must have been around in South Africa at that time. All in all this was an excellent book that just seemed to get better and better the further into it you got. A fantastic book to read even if you havent read any of the others in the series. Give Rage a try..it might open your eyes to some of the wrong that still goes on in our world, even today.