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goclimbing
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Member since: 02.08.2001

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      25.11.2002 14:48
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      • "a con"

      I entered a "competition" at this years ideal home show in Glasgow to win a free holiday, the impression I got was that it was organised as a thank you for attending the show. A week later I received a phone call to say that yes I had won the competition and all I had to do to receive it was to attend an exhibition and answer a questionaire about the types of holidays I like to go on ... and there was an administration charge of £39.50 per person. I received confirmation of this in the post, this also stated that I would be required to attend a presentation by GVC, arrange my own travel insurance and pay any airport taxes. Already rather sceptical I was dragged along to the presentation by my partner ... "just to see". After 2 hours of hard sell where I got the feeling that they had different prices for different peoples salaries and lifestyle, we were told that the free holiday had nothing more to do with GVC but would be through a company called "sunseekers" and that they do not use GVC resorts. I declined the offer to buy GVC points for holidays partly because I didn't trust the salesman and because the GVC scheme doesn't suit our needs. We were given a leaflet to claim the holiday and told just to send in the application form at the back within 7 days. Oh and we were also given 3 bottles of cheap plonk. On reading the small print and looking at the companies website I discovered that the free holiday was with Feria holidays, part of GVC and not sunseekers, that travel insurance had to be arranged through GVC (although we are already covered by my partners bank account), that there was an additional charge of £50 per person as a deposit at the time of booking (to be returned to us after the holiday) and we'd have to attend another presentation lasting 90 minutes while on the holiday. I was to supply the company with 4 possible dates (each one at least 21 days apart) within the next 18 months. As the holiday I'd "won" was for 4 people I was required to send £200 deposit plus £158 admin charge plus £49.99 travel insurance to them when booking and they would charge my credit or debit card that was a lot of my money they were sitting on for potentially 18 months before I received the holiday. I was not enough of a mug to send them this money ... I decided that its a scam. Also all the resorts and destinations mentioned as options for the free holiday were also ones owned (at least in part) by GVC and there was no mention of sunseekers so in all likeihood the holiday was to be at one of their resorts to show you how wonderful it is. Has anyone out there actually been on this free holiday? I'm only annoyed that I gave these fraudsters even a minute of my time, it is clear that they have told a catalogue of untruths throughout and I pity anyone thats gone ahead and signed up with them ....

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        14.09.2001 17:06
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        I am a supporter of neither Rangers or Celtic. I thought however that I would write an opinion on this subject as a neutral observer. I live in Ibrox, I can see the ground from my kitchen window. I don't think that the Old firm joining the premiership is viable. I believe that football in Scotland plays a central role in most communities, there is a deeper belief that it is more than just a game. The Old firm have their religious differences which run very deep. My windows were painted green for no particular reason, I regularly was on the receiving end of broken windows. On painting them blue this stopped. There are regular orange marches through Ibrox etc. This is something not encountered in the English game. (to put an earlier opinion right, there are no proven links between Celtic and the IRA). Most Scottish fans are great, they know how to enjoy themselves and are generally good losers. However there are some fans who are bigoted, sectarian vandals. One could argue that there will always been certain fans out to cause trouble. However I believe that these fans would not travel well to England. They have a desparate hatred of the English and I would predict that ugly scenes would result. I would imagine the situation to be worse in the scenario where English fans travel to Glasgow, have a few drinks and pick a fight. At present although the Old firm seem to have a monopoly on the SPL title they are certainly not a league apart from the other teams. Both Celtic and Rangers get beaten! If they really were much better than the other teams in the SPL then there would be a case for them playing in a different league. Time will tell how the Old firm get on this season in the SPL and Europe. I would just hope that any decision made about joining the premiership takes the wider implications into consideration.

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        • United Patients / Health Insurance / 2 Readings / 11 Ratings
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          23.08.2001 15:08
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          Here is an account of my recent dealings with United Patients (UP). I am writing this because my experience of this company has made me VERY ANGRY. They obviously have a hard sell marketing strategy without any backup. READ ON AND DON'T BE FOOLED. In July I first received a call from a company called United Patients. Normally I tell people selling something where to go and then hang up. I tried but this one was persistant. I was told that UP were a relatively new company offering a health plan (NB NOT private health insurance) where if ill or hospitalised you would receive certain benefits (cash, private room) and a lump sum of £25000 if you die. All members benefit from a free Harley Street medical check up and 14 nights free Hotel stay on an annual basis. This sounded OK but I wanted to check on the small print so I asked them to send me a brochure. After a fortnight it finally arrived. I had a read, it sounded OK. The premiums were quite cheap (between £3 and £5 per week). I then got to the small print. There wasn't very much of it. This is either a good or bad thing. One thing that concerned me was that climbing and mountaineering (among other sports) was listed as excluded. This means that if injured whilst climbing I would not be covered. A few days later their representative called again. It was an inconvenient time for me (I was painting my lounge) but again no matter how assertive I was he persisted. I asked him whether I would be covered while climbing. He assured me I was covered unless I was a professional. I asked him this question at least 3 times. I asked him to write me a letter stating that. He refused. Eventually I pointed out the small print. He passed me over to his supervisor who told me that as a climber it was far too risky for them to cover me while climbing. After explaining that climbing isn't that dangerous ( I've been climbing for 10 years and still alive! and more people are killed annually while angling) he agreed to cover me by their most basic plan. He said that a letter would be included to state that I would be covered while climbing. Having been on the phone for nearly an hour and a half I realised that I would not have the rest of the evening to myself if I didn't sign up. It sounded OK £12 a month. Once I had agreed to this I was told there was a one off joining fee of £25 but that my premiums would not increase in price for the rest of my life and that once I reached the age of 60 years it would become free. I asked if that was in writing in the policy, I was told it was. A few days later a bumper pack arrived. I sat down to read and this is what I found. 1) Although they had agreed on the phone to give me the same benefits under their silver (basic) plan as a climber, there was a sentence in the letter saying the benefits would be severely restricted if I hurt myself whilst climbing. 2) The "free" stay in the hotel amounted to a free overnight room but being charged for dinner and breakfast (extortionately) whether you chose to take it or not. This was anything up to £90 per person for a basic highland hotel( ***). 3) The Harley Street medical check up amounted to a few basics which the NHS can perform just as well (blood pressure, cholesterol, liver function tests) and any more complex tests (cervical smear, breast screening) would have to be paid for. It wasn't worth bothering travelling to Harley Street from Glasgow! 4) There was nothing to say that the premiums would not increase in price for the rest of my life and that once I reached the age of 60 years would become free. 5) They wanted access to all my medical notes from my GP! The list goes on.... I phoned the member helpline given in the paperwork I'd been sent. The telphone was answered by an elderly well spoken gentleman. He was not interested in listening to me, that he couldn't understand what I was saying and that he would prefer to read a letter than speak to me on the phone! I promptly wrote a letter telling UP where to put their policy and that that would not be the end of the grief they were getting from me! UP plan sounds like a good value for money idea, but if they can't keep a few promises on Day One I can't believe they would actually pay out should the need arise! YOU'VE BEEN WARNED!!!!!!

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          • Road Rage / Discussion / 0 Readings / 17 Ratings
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            20.08.2001 20:55
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            Here are the 5 things that give me road rage (to varying degrees) 1. Middle/outside lane hoggers. Don't you just hate being on the motorway having to overtake someone dawdling at 50mph in the middle lane when the road is otherwise clear? Is it because people become lazy or just can't drive???? Almost as bad are people who sit in the outside lane and don't bother moving over. 2. People driving while talking on the mobile/ attending to kids/ snogging * *delete as appropriate I hate being stuck behind someone who isn't paying proper attention to the road in front of them. They change lanes without signalling, are slow to move away at traffic lights etc. aaargh 3. Taxi drivers Some taxi drivers are great but most think they own the road. If they don't have a hire they dawdle at 20 miles an hour in the middle of the road. If its a busy time or they have a lift then they pull out in front of you, drive quickly and erratically, double park where they feel like it and are really rude. 4. White/blue/black/green/yellow with polka dot etc van drivers Van drivers also think they own the road. They can move without signalling, park where they like by putting on the hazard lights. Van drivers generally drive too quickly and are the first to cut anyone up. 5. Restaurant delivery drivers In my experience restaurant delivery drivers will stop outside the house they are delivering to without parking properly. They seem to double park rather than pulling into that convenient space. by the way no offence meant to anyone in the above categories. PLEASE THINK ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE WHILE YOU ARE DRIVING, DRIVE SAFELY, BE COURTEOUS AND SMILE. ROAD RAGE WOULD THEN BE SOMETHING OF THE PAST

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              13.08.2001 23:41
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              Scientific American or SCIAM is a science journal published in the US once a month. I have subscribed to the journal for the past three years and was buying it on and off for the previous three years. SCIAM is a good quality science journal. It publishs a broad range of subjects, from physics and chemistry to social science, archaeology, neuroscience and molecular biology. SCIAM is a 'heavier' read than the New Scientist. The articles are generally longer, more complex and involved. SCIAM assumes a basic scientific background and interest. It does not teach granny to suck eggs, which I feel the New Scientist is prone to at times. SCIAM is published monthly, it takes me three weeks of bedtime reading to get through one issue. It is the sort of publication one can dip into, you don't need to read it all at once. All issues follow a general layout. There is a news section, reporting on the scientific goings on of the previous month which is usually well researched. There are 5 or 6 main articles usually 3 or 4 pages long, either on varied subjects or different aspects of one theme. Towards the back of the magazine is a mathematical/logic problem or proof. Also my favourite section which is a things you could try at home. Recent ones have been constructing your own microbalance and an attempt at DIY PCR (PCR is the polymerase chain reaction used to separate proteins). Did you know that the end of a british rail (or similiar) coffee stirrer is an accurate measure of 40 microlitres? There is also a section reviewing recently published popular science books which usually sends me rushing to waterstones! Generally SCIAM is an interesting read. It presents an interpretation of theories, facts and figures and generally an unbiased opinion. The subjects within one issue cover a wide variety of subjects. I would recommend SCIAM to anyone interested in Science and its use and development in the 21st century. It can be bought from most newsagents such as WHSmith for about £3.50 an issue. One years subscription costs me £32. SCIAM would not be everyones kind of thing ... try it you might like it and I can guarantee it will stimulate your mind.

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              • Crown Paint / Household Product / 0 Readings / 10 Ratings
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                13.08.2001 15:37
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                My house is a Crown house. All the walls and ceilings are (were) painted with Crown paint. My reasons for buying Crown have been: - a medium quality at reasonable price - durable finish - good coverage when using both a paintbrush and roller However after several painting sessions in various rooms I am beginning to change my mind. My bathroom was painted 18 months ago in Crown Silk Emulsion, the colour was Soleil (bright yellow). After a flood from the flat above it was necessary to repaper and paint one wall. I purchased the paint which I noticed had been repackaged and began painting. Once the paint had dried it was immediately noticeable that Crown had changed the shade of yellow. The original colour was a bright colourful but slightly cool yellow, the new paint appeared slightly orange and warm. I did not really mind the change but it meant repainting the bathroom thereby purchasing more paint. I did mention this to the people in Great Mills where I purchased the paint who said that the range had been redesigned (aka new formula I assume) and a slight difference in colour could be expected. I found the coverage of the new paint not as good as the older one. The new one seems much thicker in consistency and requires more paint to acheive an even application. I have also recently painted my bedroom. Essentially just painting over textured wallpaper. The original colour was white and the new colour pale blue Crown matt Emulsion (colour name chinoisie). I used a roller (for textured surfaces) and tray to begin, after 5 minutes I realised that the paint was not covering as well as it should be mainy due to its very thick consistency. I changed to a paint brush and it took lots of effort and more paint than it should have to acheive an acceptable finish. Most paints are known as thixotropic, which means that they are thick until a shear force is applied eg stirring or painting with a brush and they then become thinner and easily spread. It would seem that the new Crown paint does not exhibit the correct rheological (ie flow) properties for emulsion paint. Generally over the years I have been impressed with Crown paint however these recent experiences have made me think again

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                • Tents in General / Discussion / 1 Reading / 7 Ratings
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                  10.08.2001 20:36
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                  Terra Nova is a manufacturer of high quality mountaineering tents. They were originally called winter gear and then wild country. To avoid confusion Wild Country still exist and still make tents, but they sold off their tent business to Terra Nova about 7 years ago and then recently started making their own tents again. I own two tents and one bivvy bag made by Terra Nova or their predecessors. The bivvy bag is approx 15 years old, winter gear goretex zip bag I have a trisar (small two man backpacking tent) approx 8 years old and a Quasar (big brother to the trisar, 2 man base camp tent) 2 years old. I give all three pieces of equipment serious abuse, exposing them to rain, UV light (aka sunshine), snow and wind. I use at least one of them every weekend. GENERAL COMMENTS: Terra Nova tents tend to be pricey. I however believe that the quality of materials and the lifetime guarantee justify this. The poles of any geodesic or dome tent are the weakest and most easily broken part. The poles of a cheap tent are made from fibre glass whereas Terra Nova poles are made from aircraft quality Easton aluminium. I have as yet not suffered a brokien pole on either of my tents. The material is one of several different types of ripstop nylon. The material "weathers" well although I have noticed some fading on the trisar. One of the guy wire attachment points recently broke on the Trisar probably due to the fabric being weak due to old age. I sent it to terra nova who fixed it for free! The general design of the tents is superb. They tolerate strong wind, heavy rain and snow well. The poles are flexible so they bend in the wind but both my tents feel stable. The design of both tents has harly changed in the last 12 years. Although they added an extra (optional) pole to the trisar a couple of years ago. Both tents are easy to erect in less than 5 minutes. They are assemble d inner first then outer. If its windy and raining this can sometimes be a problem as the outer must be laid over the inner to protect it from getting wet during erection. TRISAR Cost: £300 Weight:2.2kg Pros: Excellent wee backpacking tent. Lightweight. Good if you're on your own. Cons: There is only a porch/entrance at one end so for two people it can be awkward climbing over a pile of gear to get out for that pee in the night. Storage of gear is a problem as space is limited. I get round this by putting rucsacs etc in a large plastic bag and leaving it outside the tent. Would be very cosy for two large people. QUASAR Cost: £350 - £400 Pros: Excellent and popular 'base camp' tent. Has been around for 12 years so tried and tested. Will last a long time if taken care of. There is a large porch at both ends so plently of room for gear etc Very spacious for two people. Cons I can't think of any except its a bit heavy to carry as a backpacking tent. I would recommend a Terra Nova tent to anyone who enjoys hassle free camping and is looking to invest in a tent that will stand the elements, and last a long time.

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                • Royal Canin in General / Discussion / 1 Reading / 8 Ratings
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                  09.08.2001 15:59
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                  I discovered Royal Canin catfood in the pet shop in Inverness 6 months ago. They were giving away trial packs in several varieties. Royal Canin is another dried food "science" diet. It is available in small 200g bags (enough to feed the average cat for 7 days) or a larger 2kg bag (lasts about 5 weeks). I thought it would be difficult to buy in Glasgow, however several pet shops have ordered it for me, and one now stocks the full range. I understand that any pet shop can obtain it from their wholesaler. It costs £2.40 for 200g or about £11 for the 2kg bag. Having been sceptical about the science diet idea I was pleased to see the Royal Canin range was targeted at a specific type of cat eg. indoor, sensible, senior, hairball control, persian etc. The other kind of science diets (Iams/Hills) cater for the kitten, adult, light (for overweight cats) and senior, the Royal Canin diets offer more than that. The diet I feed Fergus (my cat) most often is the indoor one as he is a house cat. The diet is lower in calories as he does less exercise then if he was allowed to run around outside, is easily digested so his stools are low in volume. The best thing is that the food contains ingredients which stop his stools from smelling, this is very effective and something the other science diets don't do. Fergus loves this food, in fact on occasions I have run out and he refuses to eat anything else! I have been feeding it to him for the past 4 months and am happy to report: - a happy cat who loves feeding time and always eats up - his weight has remained constant. (I feed him the recommended amount of food for his bodyweight) - low volume stools which have no detectable odour - Fergus has had no furballs (I think there are ingredients included in Royal Canin which digest these) As for the pros .... well - I always have to give Fergus lots of water to drink - The amount of food s eems like a very small quantity, however he never really begs for food unless its feeding time. - There have been suggestions that a science diet is unhealthy for a cat in the long term. However my sister (who is a vet) assures me that this is not the case. The concern expressed over kidney damage due to concentrated vitamins and minerals and excessive water drinking is a myth and not based on scientic evidence. I have also fed Fergus the sensible variety for the fussy cat. He liked the flavour and seemed it to be easily digested. I would recommend Royal Canin to any cat that will eat dried food, it really is something better than its competitors.

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                    08.08.2001 20:08
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                    • "have to book on the day"

                    This opinion is of the website www.5pm.co.uk . This website started about 18 months ago in Glasgow but is now expanding rapidly throughout the UK. 5pm as I will call it for short is a website where one can book cheap or cheaper meals in restaurants via the web. I have used the website 50+ times to book various restaurants and have had loads of great cheap meals in some quite up market places. One of the best was a 3 course meal for £7.95 at Gengis in Glasgow, the menu was not restricted! Here are some of the pro's and con's of using 5pm. Pros: - affordable meals - get the opportunity to go to places which you could not normally afford - I can now afford to go out for a meal more often - well organised site which is regularly updated - the site is generally quite fast and the server rarely "down". - choice of lunchtime or evening offers - know roughly how much a meal will cost. - usually get coffee or glass of wine included with meal. Cons: - you can only book on the day you intend to go out for dinner. The earlier in the day you book the more choice there is. - not all restaurants are available every day. - you need to register with the site to be able to book restaurants - limited availability of times and places. There is generally more choice during the week than at weekends. Most of the offers are either at pre-theatre times or later. on. - some of the offers apply to a special 5pm menu or pre-theatre. However this is always stated on the website. - there is nowhere to comment on you meal on the site. For example I recently ate at est est est in glasgow booked thru 5pm and the service was appalling. However I s'pose you could use dooyoo! In summary: If you are flexible with the time you want to eat, enjoy going to new places and the meal won't be for a large number of people then use 5pm!

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                      08.08.2001 16:31
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                      I was given four Giant African Landsnails or GALS for short by my sister as pets. She was working in quarantine in a uk airport and they would have died had they not been adopted. There were two large snails and two baby ones. The largest measured 22 cms in length! Initially I thought they were strange, smelly and horrible creatures. It was hard to find any information on how to care for them and what to feed them. It was very much trial and error but it seems to work. I bought a large plastic spacesaver box with a snap on lid as a home for them. The first box I had the lid didn't attach so the snails kept escaping as they like to hang upside down on the lid. I also bought so tropical rainforest substrate from the local petsmart (about £3 per bag) as the snails like to bury. If they don't have substrate in the box then they can still live but will not lay eggs ( this is handy if you don't want lots of snails). The substrate must be kept damp and can be washed. I put it in a plastic carrier bag (with holes in the bottom) and run tap water over it for 5 minutes. This needs doing once a week. For food they seem to eat any vegetable and fruit waste from the kitchen. They especially like cucumber (but they only eat the middle bit), peach, melon and apple. I have given them bran mixed with water and bread which goes down quite well. On a daily basis I remove any decaying food and spray them with warm water. Once a week I clean out the box. As a special treat I let them out on the lawn, they need constant supervision as they move deceptively quickly. GALS are satisfying creatures to keep as pets. They grow quite quickly, have personalities and are intriguing to watch. They have a beautiful shell which is tortoisehell brown in colour with a pink lip. (Mine don't really smell too much either). If you are looking to buy GALS then try a specialist pet shop (I have seen them adv ertised in a reptile magazine for £6 each), or if you live near an airport telephone the quarantine and they might let you have some. They are generally imported into the uk for restaurants who then decide that they don't want them (aargh). I would also recommend not just getting one, as they like to climb over each other and sleep together. They are easy to keep and I would think ideal for children as first pets. The snails hide in their shells until they are sprayed with water or fed and then they come out to play. They like a warmish place in the winter (not next to the radiator), the summer temperatures in the UK are warm enough. I have kept my snails for over a year now and wouldn't part with them. And finally it is legal to keep GALS in the UK however in the US it is banned and there are large fines if you are caught keeping them.

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                      • Vax / Vacuum Cleaner / 4 Readings / 10 Ratings
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                        08.08.2001 15:41
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                        • "fiddly to unblock nozzle"

                        Having seen the new op on this subject I thought I would dissappoint everyone who loves their Vax vacuum cleaner. The Vax is a wet/dry cylinder vacuum cleaner which has been on the market for at least 10 years. My first Vax was bought 8 years ago and was great, until it started suffering from old age and being abused on a daily basis. It suffered a number of split hoses and finally the motor died. However I was pleased as it had served me well. So I decided that I would buy another one (in March 2001). I went to Comet expecting the Vax to be the same or maybe even with a few improvements (not that I could think of any that they could make). I picked up the box, paid for it and took it home. On assembly I realised that it had been re-designed. The nozzle attachment was completely different it was larger and had two wheels as well as a large plastic cover (so that you can see what you are hoovering up I s'pose). There were no brushes on the attachment merely a plastic part to snap on if you were dry hoovering carpets. The same nozzle is used both for wet and dry. I began hoovering .... hum. The Vax did not seem to pick up as much dirt and bits as my previous one probably due to lack of brushes. Then within 5 minutes of starting it went over a small piece of plastic wrapper (1" x1" in size), this stuck under the plastic cover and made further hoovering impossible. I fiddled and funmbled and tried to pull it out but alas to no avail. Eventually I managed to unscrew the cover and pull it out. Since then I have had to do this on a number of occasions for things such as a paperclip, a small piece of wood (1cm x 1cm x 2mm in size), plastic and paper tissue. This becomes increasingly frustrating as the screws holding the plastic on are tiny and it makes hoovering a far longer job than it should be. I tried the wet option and am happy to report that this is identical to the previous model. However when usin g the vax with water one needs to remove the plastic "snap-on" carpet attachment. I tried to replace this afterwards which was very difficult and then sometimes falls off when dry hoovering. About 3 weeks after my purchase one of the plastic wheels fell off. I took it back to Comet and they swapped it right away. However the design of this is very flimsy and I have no doubt that it will happen again. Over the 9 months I've had the Vax I have been dissappointed with the suction when hoovering carpets (dry), and have found that the wet attachment was failing to suck the water out of the tank and onto the carpet. So I boldly took it back to Comet who sent it away for inspection. After 18 days I phoned to enquire whether anything was wrong, I was told that it needed a new pump and motor! ... it is now over 3 weeks that I have been without and the carpets are seriously manky .... and its not even a year old!!! I think the redesign of the Vax is impractical and of poor quality and anyone who is happy with their old vax not to replace it with a new one.

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                        07.08.2001 19:47
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                        I think the cost to the consumer of prescription medicines to the consumer is fair. For the average person aged 16 to 60 who is generally healthy a £6.10 charge per item is reasonable. Especially as they maybe have one or two items per year. For someone who has a chronic illness and requires more than 5 items in 4 months a pre-payment certificate is available. Essentially this is a season ticket where any items are free as a fee is paid up front. This costs about £32 for 4 months or £80 per year. Anyone aged younger than 16yr or older than 60yr automatically gets free prescriptions. Also if aged up to 19yrs and in full time education, get income support or family credit or jobseekers allowance, disabled persons tax credit. Anyone who suffers from certain long term conditions where the result of not taking medication could result in death gets free prescriptions. These conditions include: diebetes, thyroid problems, epilepsy. The contraceptive pill, morning after pill, contraceptive implants and injections are always free. So of the prescriptions I dispense as a pharmacist only about 1/10th are paid for. Some medicines cannot be prescribed on the NHS. Examples include viagra (there are some exceptions), certain anxiolytics, medication for malaria prophylaxis. In this case a private prescription is issued by the GP (for which there is usually a charge of £8 just for the script). The pharmacist the charges:trade price of medication + a small markup + a dispensing fee (usually 50 pence) + a container fee (usually 50 pence) - VAT. Most people cannot believe how much more a private script costs than £6.10. Where does the £6.10 go? People always seem confused as to what happens to their prescription charge. It goes into the chemists till so surely they get to keep it. THIS IS NOT TRUE. At the end of the day the pharmacist counts the number of prescriptions dispensed and sorts them into 2 piles (paid and exempt). At the end of the month the prescription forms and figures are sent to the pricing bureau. Here they calculate how much money the chemist has taken for paid prescriptions, the total drug cost of all prescriptions (this is the cheapest price they can be bought at) and the dispensing fees due. The pricing bureau then owes the phrmacist the drug cost plus dispensing fee less the amount in paid prescriptions. The chemist is then paid the difference (usually 6 weeks in arrears). I read somewhere that the average cost of a prescription is about £12. So in summary I believe the cost of prescription medication is fair, generally the less well off and heavy users of the system either get them free or cheaper with a pre-payment certificate. Over the counter (OTC) medication is something the consumer decides to buy to treat a condition without seeing the GP. For some conditions the GP would probably issue a prescription and then the £6.10 levy applies to it so it works out cheaper to buy (for example the anti-inflammatory Ibuprofen). The cost of some OTC medication is high, this is mainly for preparations which are abused by some (for example solpadeine, nurofen plus, night nurse). Resale price maintenance has fallen so the cost to the consumer of some OTC medication is falling too. Some places are selling calpol for as little as 99p. In conclusion: In the UK we get a fair deal on both prescription and OTC medication and until the system changes people won't appreciate how good we have it at the moment.

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                          07.08.2001 17:24
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                          Secret deodorant sticks were launched onto the market during the summer of 1999. I received a freebie one through my door, stuck it in the bathroom cabinet and promptly forgot about it. Last month while tidying up I found it and decided that as the product is still on the market it can't be that bad and gave it a try. Secret is a stick deodorant (I tried the satin and normal kinds) which you only need one stroke of the stick for 24 hours of protection (so they claim), the smell is pleasant. The stick feels quite waxy when you put it on your armpit. On the first day of testing RESULT: trip to gym = BAD BO On the second day RESULT: day at work = bad BO and white waxy marks on clothes I thought that the product may have "gone off" as I'd had it a while so I wrote to the address on the back of the product complaining and was sent another one. BUT NO: exactly the same results. I have used Natrel for a number of years and it has proved effective so if secret is such a good deodorant it should work too!? I certainly won't be buying it, I hate BO and stains on my clothes. Secret left me feeling as if I need to shower twice a day. Why is this product so successful in the USA? is it the usual marketing hype? or because it smells nice?

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                            07.08.2001 16:22
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                            I was always told to leave french polishing to the professionals. However I decided to have a go on one of the doors (made from douglas fir) in my lounge. I figured that if it worked I would keep it and if not then I could sand and paint instead. I bought a packet of blonde shellac (dewaxed) from a specialist hardware shop (crockets in Glasgow) for £8. It made by a company called Liberon, most places will order it if you ask. I dissolved this in 1 Litre of meths in a demi-john(sealed with a rubber bung) (the only largish glass container I could find in the local charity shop - cost 50 pence) and left it overnight, stirring occasionally with a piece of wooden dowel. The following morning the solution had turned a brown/red colour and was syrupy on the bottom of the demi - john. After vigourous stirring it appeared homogenous. I then used a piece of absorbent cotton (found in first aid kit but can be bought from any chemist) and an old triangular bandage to make the "rubber" (cloth for applying shellac solution). I applied lots of shellac to the cotton wool and then folded the triangular bandage around it. I then wiped the door with this cloth to get an even finish. I repeated this every night for 10 days until the door was evenly coated and really shiny. Whahey! It took care to achieve an even finish but it looks really impressive so I'm told. I had some shellac left so I thought I would have a go at the skirting board. I had previously sanded it and put 3 layers of brushing wax (available from B&Q) on and polished it to a satin finish. I applied three coats of the shellac on three consecutive days. It worked really well, making the grain of the wood more prominant and deepening the colour without giving too shiny a finish. Some hints and tips if you're having a go. 1) Sand the surface with fine sandpaper or steel wool. Then wipe any dust off with white spirit and leave to dry. 2) If you are trying this on a waxed surface, allow the wax to dry for 3 weeks prior to coating with shellac. 3) Apply the shellac with quick flowing strokes as it will quickly become sticky and then dry. Do not go back over areas that have become sticky as the cotton with stick and leave fibres. DO not try and polish at this stage. Always allow 24 hours between coats. You will not notice much difference in appearance in the first few coats as this is filling in the grain of the wood. 4)Once the shellac is dry polish with a soft cloth (I use a duster). If there are any dust particles ingrained in the shellac coat once dry, rub with fine steel wool to remove. 5) Apply multiple coats and stop when you are happy with the finish. 6) When dusting anything coated in shellac avoid silicone based polish eg Mr Sheen as it leaves a streaky finish. I have not tried commercial already dissolved french polish, they work out dearer but might be better if you are renovating furniture etc. I tried shellac because I was intrigued. I was impressed and amazed how eay it is.

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                              06.08.2001 15:56
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                              • "badly designed"

                              Having read a number of opinions of Cif glass and window wipes I decided to go out and buy a packet (£1.50 for 20 large wipes, from ASDA) having missed out on the freebie that everyone else talks about. They come in a blue packet similiar to baby wipes with a resealable sticker. Once I arrived at home I couldn't wait to see if they were as good as most people make out. I opened the packet and pulled the first wipe out. It is about the same size as a baby wipe (such as pampers) is moist and smells slightly citrus. The wipe feels quite soft and is made from quite large fibres. The bathroom mirror was the first to great a going over. Initially the wipe picked up some dust, but did not remove shaving foam or toothpaste marks. I turned the wipe over and tried again ... still no luck. By this time about 45 seconds after I started using it the wipe started to shed long (up to 5mm in length) white fibres. I pulled out a new one and tried again, it would not remove these fibres so I gave up and left it to dry. After 5 minutes the mirror was soo streaky that I could hardly see myself and covered in bits of white fluff. not a good start. I then decided to try them on a window just in case the bathroom mirror was not the ideal surface. Again the wipe removed some dust, but would not remove stubborn watermarks, and other (source unknown) marks. The window was left streaky and again covered with fibres. Feeling rather frustrated by now I pulled out the Asda window cleaner and a cotton cloth and cleaned the window. More dust and dirt was removed as well as the marks, the finish appeared slightly streaky (I am a perfectionist). To remove the streakyness I wiped the window with meths. One clean window. In my opinion Cif wipes are: - overpriced - glorified baby wipes - they are made from a non-ideal material, a tighter weave cotton would be better. - the cleaning agents they are impregnated with are too creamy which leaves the streaky finish I shall stick to the old fashioned way of cleaning glass and mirrors until someone proves that their is a quicker and better alternative.

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