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Decaffinated Filter coffee, i'd never heard of such a thing. I love my coffee, wheter it be filter, capuccino, cafetierre and even some instants. But I have to have decaffinated, for those of ou that have read my Red Bull horror story, you will know why. Carte Noire - sounds awfully posh doesn't it. They make both instant and ground coffees, decaffinted and not. The packet is quite striking and easy to recognise as the decaffinated version. It is black at the top and royal blue at the bottom, with the traditional Carte Noire gold band and writing. As with most packet coffees once opened it should be refrigerated or kept in a sealed container, the flavour deteriorate rapidly if this is not the case. Most filter coffees are just suitable for filters, however, the packet states that it can be used in filter machines, cafetieres, percolators and expresso machines. I have both cafetieres and a filter mchine and it is equally tasty made in either. Most ground coffees come in 227 gm packs, as does this. Most give a strength guide, however, although this one doesn't, I would put it at about a 3. It is an ideal breakfast coffee, or if you like a medium after dinner coffee this is for you. Carte Noire is made by Kenco and made in France. It is made of pure arabica coffee and although decaffinated, it does not have the after taste of some other decafs. It smells divine. To make a perfect cup of perfect carte noire coffee, use one dessertspoonful of coffee per cup. If making cafetiere coffee as with all of this type of coffee do not use boiling water, as this almost burns the coffee and leaves a bitter after taste. At £2.79 a packet it is worth trying, as decafs go it is hard to beat. "For the ultimate coffee experience", be seduced by Carte Noire. Must go my coffee is at its peak. Ahhhh lovely. Want a sip?
Avon to many of you is the old fashioned door to door ladies selling make up and perfumes. If this is your opinion then maybe you should look further. Skin-so-Soft is a range of skin products for, men, women and children. There are 4 fragrances - Soft & Sensual (one for the ladies) Woodland Fresh - Something for everyone, but ideal for the men Sensitive - for the sensitive skinned amongst us Light & Lush - Suitable for all skin types and everyone The products available are again suitable for everyone and the 2 I most favour are:- Anti-bacterial Wipes - These are lanolin Free, 25 in a pack, small enough for your handbag, glovebox, etc. They come in one fragrance 'Fresh & Clean', again suitable for everyone. Keep thm inyour handbag you never know when you might need them. If you are out for the day and the baby needs changing they are there, if you spill your juice and are left sticky they are there, if your old man is a messy eater they are there. The normal price is £3.00 a pack, but as with all Avon producs they are often on offer. Once you have tried them you will wonder how you managed without them. Give them a try. My second choice is Moisturising Dry Oil Body Spray - This comes in 2 fragrances, Sofy & Sensual and Woodland Fresh. It comes in a 250ml bottle. Ideal for dry skin left by too much exposure to the sun (ok humour me - too much sun when we have it). The spray spritzes on and moisturises your skin instantly. It is quick to rub in, absorbed easily and is not at all greasy. Another use for the Woodland Fresh fragrance, although only discovered by chance, is that the mossies and gnas don't like this one. So you can use it as an insect repellant as well. The normal price is £4.50, but once again watch out for the offers. There are ma
ny other items available in this range and they have been reviewed previously. They are all worth trying and if you want pampering at a price that won't break the bank give them a try. To find your local Avon Representative or to find out more log on to Avon.uk.com. I don't just sell it, I use it. Why don't you give it a try too.
I must just point out that I am adverse to drinking alchohol, one drink I am completely legless. I will set the scene, to give you a build up to this unfortunate incident. I am 41 years old, my daughter was having her hen night and I was invited. I didn't want to go - for various reasons all of which I won't go into. We arrived in style "hmm hmm" in 2 white stretch limos. 18 of us, I not being the youngest nor in fact quite the oldest, but defintely feeling out of place. They started on wine in the limo, I obstained politely. When we arrived at the venue "The Chicago Rock Cafe" in Southend. We were told that our drinks would be 2 for 1 until 10.30, it was 8.00 p.m. I purchase 2 bottle of sparkling water. We started our meal, more wine was 'plonked' (sorry for the pun) on the table. I stuck to my water. One of the guests left the table and arrived back with 10 cans of Red Bull, there were 18 of us. "Just add this to your wine she said, I put less than half a can in half a glass of water. That was it. Now don't get me wrong, I don't need alchohol to enjoy myself but within 10 minutes I had what only can be described as the fidgits. By the time I had finished my meal I was buzzing, raring to go, where - to the dance floor ME. My sister was also at the hen night and again wasn't drinking. I got up to dance at 10.15 and danced and danced and danced until 1.15. I felt as high as a kite. I had so much energy, where was it all coming from. Some of the younger members of the party thought I was 'a cool mum', apparently according to my sister I was far from cool. We left in the limo at about 1.30 p.m. As I wasn't drinking I had been nominated to drive some of the group home, which I did. I finally arrived home at about 3.15 p.m. bright eyed, bushy tailed and wide awake, 4.00 a.m., 5.00 a.m., 5.30 a.m.ish I dropped off 6.15
a.m. I was wide awake and raring to go. But I felt like I had been kicked in the head by a horse. It took me until monday morning to recover. Whatevers in it I don't want it again. So beware, alchohol can be lethal but red bull can be worse. How many of you have been effected the same way I wonder?
Moving house and needing inspiration for completely updating the decoration and fittings on a limited budget is a tall order. Since moving house at the end of April we have been looking for inspirational ideas for decorating. Its ok to have ideas, but putting them into practice and spending your hard earned cash ia=s another. So I have become addicted to but=ying and trawling through "inspirational home magazines". This is how I came across Your Home. Most of the magazines retail between £2-3.00 and claim wonderful things. Very few offer affordable, practical ideas for average budgets. Thats where Your Home comes in, having purchased the last 3 issues at £2.30 each I have gleaned many affordable ideas. The magazine is broken down into regular feature and one off features. As with all magazines there are quite a high proportion of adverts but the overall content is good. The July and August issue are combined and theme of the whole magazine is summery - indoor and outdoor looks and ideas for summer. All we need is the weather. The main thing I found useful about the magazine is even with small items, they give details of the price and the stockist. There is nothing worse than seeing a feature in a magazine and liking a small accesory which isn't listed in the run down of itewms you can buy. There is a "real homes" section and they are 'real homes', not mansions that very few people can afford. Over the last 3 issues Linda Barker has been running a colour masterclass, which I have found very useful, as it gives you the confidence to try out mixing different colours and see what they look like first With the usual giveaways, competitions and shopping guides, all in all I would recommend this as a good all round house inspiration magazine. Certainly worth a look. One tip which I find useful, is to make a colour board. Cut out snippi
ts of colours, curtains, wallpapers ideas from a magazine and put them on to a board to build up ideas for a room makeover. It saves raking through loads of mags for that must have wallpaper,etc.
Easter weekend, what a bad time to buy a new vacuum cleaner. The other one blew up, so I had no option. Living fairly locally to the Tollgate Shopping area, an out of town complex of mainly electrical stores, we headed off there on Friday morning. Obviously being a nice day more people were heading to the seaside. Powerhouse has recently doubled in size and had a very wide range of vacuum cleaners on display. Having selected the one we wanted to buy and noted the price, we did the round of the other retailers. Back to Powerhouse, who were not the cheapest. A young pleasant enough salesman asked if he could help. I told him which item we were interested in and told him that one of their competitors we selling it at £22.00 cheaper. No problem, he would match the price. This was a good deal becuase the other store was only offering 3 months interest free credit and Powerhouse were offering 6 months. He checked the stock on the computor and then manually just to be on the safe side, the deal was a free wet and dry vacuum included in the price, therefore, he wanted to make sure they were both available. We were then taken into a small office to do the transaction. This was the only point at which I could fault Powerhouse. There were two desks, each with a computer and 2 chairs almost touching each other. The couple at the other desk were haggaling with the salesman and getting a bit stroppy, we had to listen to that. Having agreed to the price promise we were then offered an extended 3 year warranty at £55.00, which we declined. We were told that at any time during the 3 year peiod the vacuum would be completely replaced free of charge. Again we declined, we were then offered the warranty for £30.00, £10.00 a year, a replacement vacuum can't be bad. So we accepted. The cost of this was also added to the interest free credit. Now the paperwork, quite painless really, no credit check,
no deposit. Nothing to pay until October - pay in full then no interest. If you don't well you could have bought 3 vacuums. Overall the service was good, the Salesman wasn't at all pushy and the whole experience was completely painless. Always ask if there is a price promise, they are not always strategically displayed and always haggle over warranties. They would rather get a sale at a reduced cost than no sale.
I have very recently discovered this programme on UK Style, Channel 148 on Sky Digital. Not being a daytime television watcher (due to the fact that when I am not working I look after my yound grandson) this is new to me. But help, I am hooked. Let me on there. The idea of the programme is 2 teams (of 2 people), a red and a blue team are given £200 to spend at a Collectors Fair. They have an hour to spend the money, with the help of 'an expert', usually an Auctioneer or an Antiques Dealer. They have to use their skill, judgement, nose or any thing they can, with or without the help of the so called expert to purchase items to the value of £200 which they think will make a tidy profit at Auction. With me so far - Thye have to cajole stall-holders to sell them items at knock down or in some cases hyped up prices that they think will make more money at an auction. Once they have made their purchases, the host of the show, whose name escapes me, but once seen never forgotten looks over the items and gives his opinion on their potential worth. In the 2 weeks I have been watching the show not one couple have made a profit. Off to the Auction, the lots are put up for Auction in the normal run of things and bidders do their best or in most cases worst. I do not claim to be an expert in any field, let alone collectors or antiques, but have fun guessing how much they will lose. At the end of the programme the team with the smallest loss or the largest gain wins. If there is a profit, however large or small the winning couple get to keep it. Can't be bad if you yourself have a nose for a bargain then it might be worth applying to go on the show. Me, i'm happy to watch and I wait with baited breath for someone to show a profit. Now for the re-cap:- Time - 6.00 p.m. Monday to Friday Place - Sky Digital Channel 148 (UK Style) If you want to watch something
a bit different this is well worth a look. Now where did I put that old clock?
For those of you not fortunate to live near Colchester in Essex, which is where my local Glynn Webb store is based then sorry. I am not aware where other stores are based, but if I were you I would certainly find out. This store is primarily a DIY store, but does not stock all the perfierals of a large B&Q or Wickes (i.e. power tools, handles, etc). If you are looking to decorate your house on a budget, with out compromising on style then this should be your first port of call. Talking about Ports of Call, the wallpaper designed by Jeff Banks I mean. One of theshortly to be discontinued ranges, which I have had my eye on for quite a while, was selling in B&Q for £6.99 a roll, borders at £5.99. When you need a lot of wallpaper you are talking about a lot of dosh. Glyn Webb - £1.99 a roll but no borders - no problem. The big borders, named as such because they are 6 inches wide are on sale at just 25p each. They come in a choice of 6 or 7 colours and as they are plain, or with just a silver edge they match ideally with most of the paper on sale. For the price of 2 rolls of paper and 2 borders - £26.00, you can buy 12 rolls of paper and 8 borders. As the borders are so cheap I picked up 4 of each colour for my new house, well I don't know which colour I will want and if I don't want them all i'm sure someone else will have a use for them. They stock a wide range of discontinued wallpapers from 50p a roll, so don't dither, if you see it buy it. It won't be there next time. They also stock their own make wallpaper, which starts from £2.99 a roll and isn't rubbish. There is a good range, stylish designs and colours and they will reserve it for you if they are low on stock. So if you can't see it ask. Now to the paint. Again huge choice Dulux, Crown and many of the other top names. Latest colours, discontinued colours, big tins, littles tins, you name it they'v
e got it. 6 litres of Crown white emulsion £6.99, can't be bad. 2 1/2 litres of discontinued colours, or shortly to be discontinued (obviously) because they are still on the colour chart, for as little as £3.99 (again Crown or Dulux). Cutains, duvet covers, voiles, lighting, flooring, need I go on. All at great prices. Beds, dining room furniture, bathroom fittings all in store. Two 8 foot patio doors (new house again) - no problem. Beautiful sculptured voile cream or white for just £14 for each set of doors. With spring just around the corner they are just starting to get in a new stock of garden things, pots, benches, etc. Looks like i'll be back again next week. So if like me you are about to move house and need your money to go a long way, pop down to you local store, if you have one. If you don't then there is always B&Q I suppose. The store in question is located just off the roundabout on the bottom of Ipswich Road, opposite Hoomebase. Ample free parking and it is open 7 days a week. Certainly worth a look.
Firstly before I get into the throws of writing, I apologise if this isn't strictly in the right section. Having recently put our house (our lovely home) up for sale, we had the unpleasant experience of looking at other peoples hell holes. How people can live in the kind of houses we have had the misfortune to visit is beyond me, but how they think they can obtain top market prices is beyond belief. My home is my pride and joy, it is immaculately presented, my husband (an ex painter and decorator) has a great idea for detail, colour and design. We are both very houseproud and have bought our children up to respect things. Some people either don't care or can't be bothered. How long does it take to run a hoover around if you are expecting potential buyers. These are some of things we have come across, which with a little time and effort (and in some cases a bit of money) could have made all the difference. The first thing you see when you arrive at a property is the front of the house, first impressions count don't they. Well obviously some people don't think they are important. At one property we were confronted with guttering hanging off the wall, rotting paintwork and what can only be described as a wilderness in the front garden. One stepping insidea house, you expect to feel something, welcome would be nice and safe would be even better. Think again, we have experienced germs, filth and grime and numerous houses that looked like jumble sale rooms. Smoke filled rooms, yellowing paintwork, grey net curtains, tide marks around the sink, toilet and bath, to name just a few. All of the above have been experienced in many properties, at one stage we got to thinking we would be better to stay where we are. How much does it cost to wash down paintwork, clean your kitchen and bathroom, wash your net curtains and generally make your house welcoming. A vase o
f flowers and a bit of aromatherapy oil in a burner can get ride of unpleasant odours like smoke and pets. I know that when you buy a house, you do exactly that, you don't buy all the filth, bad taste furniture, etc. But how can you feel enticed to buy something that is so uncared for. So if you intend to sell (or attempt to sell) your house in the near future invest in a little time and effort and maybe a spot of paint,etc. After all your house is for life not just for christmas and is most likely to be the biggest single investment you will ever make.
Although this title is how to buy a house, it would be better to rename it how not to buy a house. First and foremost DON'T PANIC BUY, its not a dress or a pair of shoes, you can't take it back if you don't like it. You buy it and you are stuck with it, unless of course you want to do it all again. Never trust Estate Agents particulars they are misleading and in some cases downright wrong. A comfortable desirable family residence, well this could be a small decaying cottage. Ample parking, this could mean you can use the whole street. Must be seen, usually means they need to entice you in, not that its too good to miss. GET THE IDEA. Don't wait until you have sold your own house to start looking for one to buy. By all means go on the mailing list of local agents, but be very specific in what you are looking for. You know you can only afford up to £150,000, they think that means £200,000, so tell them you can afford up to £130,000. If you get particulars on something you think you mmight want to view, drive around the area, look at neighbouring areas. Pick a time when the street is likely to be at its busiest and then go again at a quieter time. Don't set your sights too high, if your current property is hard to match then why are you moving. You often need to use a bit of imagination and ignore the mess, dirt, animals, etc. You will be buying the property not the people and items in it (thank goodness for that in some cases). Once you have found a property you are interested in or maybe two, make a list of the plusses and minuses, this helps narrow the choice. Ok so you've made up your mind - make an offer, what do you think it is worth (it doesn't matter what they are asking for it - what do you want to pay). If they don't accept your first offer try again, if this doesn't get accepted either and you think it is worth the ask
ing price then pay it. Get clear before you agree to buy the house what is included in the price, think about all the hidden extras, carpets, curtains, light fittings, etc. Although they might not be to your taste they are better than nothing at all. Moving house is a stressful thing it takes time and patience and sometimes a few disappointments. Happily, at last, we have found a house to buy. Third time lucky, not the home of my dreams but in the area we like, at a price we can afford and chain free. So just because you've made your offer and its been accepted don't get too excited, you could be disappointed. Hopefully, some of the things I have listed will be of help to you. Finally, I found a very useful research website - www.upmystreet.co.uk, it gives a wealth of information about the area you are interested in, schools, amenities, council tax rates, etc. Well worth a visit. Now comes the worst bit the packing and the moving-good luck.
Before I go into the details of what and why I think this album is so great, let me put the record straight. I hate Robbie Williams, as a pop singer, as a person and until now had no time for anything he said or did. Then came Swing While Your Winning. I was born in 1960, to a family who never were great music lovers. I recall that we had a radiogram at one time and the one song I remember coming out of that was Mack the Knife, i've never forgotten it. When my father died last year we were trying to come up with music for the crematorium, not an easy thing to choose. It had to be just right. We came up with a Frank Sinatra classic, "I did it my way", because it reflected everything my dad was. Sorry I am digressing from the op slightly. The reason for this was that when we were choosing the music we listened to many oldies and at, 40 years old, I decided that I now enjoyed listening to it, it gave me something which at the time I couldn't pinpoint. So back to Robbie. My daughter and future son-in-law brought it for me for Christmas, why I don't know. When I asked if I could play it on Christmas Day (the first christmas without my father) there were moans and groans, yuk, fuddy duddy, not today, etc. But I played it for the first time, on christmas morning and me and my mum cried and cried, it seemed to bring back the memories of my dad. We played up to track 4, that was enough, we couldn't listen anymore. The cd didn't come out again until New Years Day, I played it right through and strangely enough although it bought back memories of my Dad they were good ones. Robbie William has a great presence when performing these songs, he really becomes the original artist. He puts his heart and soul into them all, it is a jo to listen to. There are 15 tracks in all on the CD, a mixture of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and others. A couple of duets and a new one writ
ten and sung by Robbie Williams. Track 1 - I Will Talk and Hollywood Will Listen. This written by Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers and sung by Robbie. To hear this you would think it was from the 50s. Track 2 - Mack the Knife. Originally sung by such greats as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Bobby Darin and Louis Armstrong. Robbie gives it his own slant and it is still as good as ever. Mack is certainly back in town. Track 3 - Somethin Stupid. Originally sung by Nancy and Frank Sinatra. Recently released by Robbie and Nicole Kidman, this duet was a great remake. Track 4 - Do Nothing Till you Hear From Me. I was not familiar with this track. Great performance and brilliant trumpet solo. Track 5 - It was a very good year. Robbie sings with Frank, strange but true. What can I say. Track 6 - Sraighten Up and Fly Right. Originally written by Nat King Cole, although sung brilliantly this is my least favourite track. Track 7 - Well Do You Evah. Originally sung by Frank and Bing the greatest crooners ever. Now sung by the new crooners Robbie and Saturday Night Live's Jon Lovitz. This track comes close in my mind to be as good as the original. Track 8 - Mr Bojangles. Another classic fantastically recreated, it brings tears to your eyes, well it did mine. Track 9 - One For My Baby. Another of Frank's greats. Robbie performs this with Frank's long time pianist Bill Miller. What must he have thought. Track 10 - Things. What a combination Robbie and Jane Horrocks. It works well as a duet and is my second favourite track. Track 11 - Another Kick in the Head. Another unfamiliar track to me. Great performance by Robbie and great musical backing. Track 12 - They Can't Take That Away From Me. A Perry Como track again covered marvelously by Robbie. One of my favourites. Track 13 - Have You Met Miss Jones? Well if you have
watched Bridgit Jones Diary you will have done. Another Sinatra classic and now a hit for Robbie from the film. My joint favourite. Track 14 - Me and My Shadow. No one could match the brilliance of Frank and Sammy's original version, but Robbie and his flatmate Johnathon Wilks give it there best shot. Track 15 - Beyond The Sea. Second or maybe jointly with Have You Met Miss Jones this is my favourite. For some reason it reminds me of tne film Bedknobs and Broomsticks, it must be the sea bit. It certainly brings back great memories. This album has to be the best addition to my CD collection last year. A great buy at between £8.99 (CD WOW) and £11.99 its worth a listen. Memories are certainly made of this, thanks Robbie and Friends.
Time is something you have no control over, or do you? As you go through life you find yourself wishing for more time. More time time to do what. "There are so many things to do and not enought time to do them. If you put a broom up my bottom I will sweep the floor at the same time. If I go any quicker I will meet myself coming back". Need I go on, how many times have you said or heard said some of the above. I am one of those people that doesn't have enough time to breath, you know what I mean, you too well why. What do we achieve. A typical day in my somewhat rushed and mundane life, you may well be able to relate to it. 6.30 a.m. My husband goes to work. I am awake but still in bed. 6.30 - 7.00 a.m. I contemplate getting up. 7.00 - 7.10 a.m. I get up. 7.10 a.m. Wake up youngest son (11) who can't bear to be late for anything, who has to either catch the bus at 8.00 a.m. or catch a lift with me at 8.10 a.m. From 7.10 - 8.10 a.m. it is one mad rush STOP & THINK, WHY? WHY DO I HAVE TO RUSH AROUND WHAT HAVE I DONE WHICH COULDN'T WAIT. 8.10 a.m. Drive my son to school (2 minutes from office) and get to work - now 8.30 a.m GET IN THE DOOR & OFF I GO AGAIN, SO MUCH TO DO SO LITTLE TIME TO DO IT. 1.00 - 1.10 p.m. Attempt to stop for lunch, constant interruptions, need a break, too busy, bolt down lunch. No time to go out, back to work. 1.30 p.m. to 5.30 p.m.ish Work, rush, work, rush, set off home. %.30 - 5.40 p.m. driving home, all the way deciding what to do first when I get in, whether I will have time to do this or that before preparing tea. Thinking ahead to tomorrow. 10.30 p.m. Exhaustion overcomes me and I crash into bed, only to find my mind racing and preparing for tomorrow. This is what I would call a fairly typical day, you can probably relate to it yourself. However much
there is to do there is always time to do it. It doesn't matter if you don't do it today, it will be there tomorrow. So why do we have such an obsession with time. If you think back to when you were born, it starts there. You sleep at a certain time, eat at a certain time, etc. etc. But really you have no control over this. When you progress to school the same thing happens, you are dictated and therefore so is your time by the regimentality of the school day. So when you become an adult, although your time is governed to an extent by your restrictions of working hours, why oh why do we carry the time restrictions through to our own time. Time is very precious, none of us know what is around the corner. For all the rushing and cramming in so much in the time we have available to us, surely we are shortening the quality time. Our stress levels increase, we tire easily, we become agitated and in turn resent the time (or lack of it). We only have one life, so why don't we take our time to enjoy it. It is easy for me to put my opinion down in words, why then do I find it so difficult to follow my own advice. Life is for the living, but it doesn't last for ever. I think we should try, at least once a week or once a month to have a day when time is imaterial, when we don't work to the clock and see if we feel better for it. They say time waits for no man, but don't let it pass you by. Time I was somewhere else, oh well there is always tomorrow.
For someone who does not have any need or desire for Sky televisiokn, namely me, I have found one channel which makes it all worth while. UK STYLE - Now don't be fooled by the title of the channel, its a bit of a ruse really. Firstly not all the programmes are from the UK, well at least the ideas aren't. Secondly you have to hunt for the 'style' in most of the programmes. This channel can be found on Sky Digital, channel 148. If you are into (or would like to be) food, gardening, diy and hunting for bargains, antiques, etc then this is a channel not to be missed. The main thing I like about the channel is that most of the programmes are only on for half an hour and they are usually quite varied. By varied I mean cooking followed by gardening and then diy based shows, not hours and hours of cooking or DIY. One thing to remember is that quite a few of the programmes are repeats from other channels, so sometimes you settle down to watch what you think is a new programme, low and behold its a repeat. Nothing new there then. The diy shows can be a bit tacky, especially Changing Rooms, which of course can be seen on BBC 1 and most of these have been. My favourite programme has to be The House Doctor. For those of you not familiar with this programme or the concept, I will try to give you an idea of hat its all about - Ann Maurice, a Californian Real Estate Agent, comes to the homes (invited, of course), of people who are trying to sell their houses. For any number of reasons the houses are not selling, she casts her beady eye over the property and tells you why she thinks it isn't selling and what can be done to rectify the situation. She picks holes mainly in decor, clutter and de-personalises the houses, as apparently potential purchasers can't see past your own ideas and style. Video recordings are taken of potential purchasers and shown to the sellers. These are sometimes very blun
t, rude and also give an idea of what is wrong, why the house isn't selling. With your agreement (and sometimes even without it) she makes the changes she feels will help to sell your home. Eventually when the changes have been made, the prospective purchasers return and if you are lucky you will sell your home, if not to them, then at least to someone else. Perhaps I should invite the House Doctor to my house, although maybe not, I don't think I could take her criticism. But, if like me you are trying to sell your home, you will pick up tips worth noting and maybe even trying. Sorry I have detracted somewhat from the channel. Some weekends are dedicated to one particular programme, so if you are obsessed with House Invaders, then tune in on Saturday and Sunday this week from 7.00 am for back to back House Invaders - I don't think i'll bother, but it might appeal to you. That is the good thing about the channel, there is something for everyone. Take a look and decide for your yourself. Or better still, if your other half is anti-diy or anti-cooking you might stir up a bit of enthusiasm, what have you got to lose. They also have a website - www.ukstyle.co.uk. This is full of ideas, competitions, recipes, etc, again certainly worth a visit. It also gives a guide to whats on and when, on a day to day basis. There are chat rooms and even real makeovers, well worth a look. If you are a sky viewer, it doesn't come cheap, as you will know. Our current package is £34 per month, so if there is only one channel worth watching I had better get my money's worth. Take a look for yourself and see what you think. You too could become addicted.
In April last year the government introdued stakeholder pensions. The idea being to make pensions more accessable to everybody. You do not have to receive an income and you can pay on behalf of someone else. The most you can put in each tax year is £3,600 (£2,808 net payment). This can be put in as a single premium, a cheque for £2,808 or a monthly payment of £234.00 net, through your bank account. This makes a pension for a grandchild a very tax efficient investment. What better start can you give your new grandchild than a £3,600 gross investment into a pension plan. If you are mega rich and have oodles of money you can put this amount in, year on year until they reach 18 and become able to afford to contribute themself. The advantages to this are that the money has many, many years to grow and you will be providing for their retirement, which children are always reluctant to do until it is too late. Fund choice can be adventurous in the early years and more cautious as they get older, very flexible. There are many Stakeholder providers and it is always advisable to visit a Financial Adviser to discuss your needs and get the best advice. Of course, there are many other ways of saving money for your grandchildren, but if you want to provide for their long term future this is the ideal solution. There are, of course, many other people that can benefit from the stakeholder regulations but this is one way of giving your grandchildren's retirement a boost. Sound good to you - then seek independent advice and get in for this tax before 5th April, you will be rewarded in heaven. This is only one benefit of the new stakeholder rules, but well worth considering.
I won a voucher for two free meals at this Brassiere on my local radio station over christmas. When the voucher came I was somewhat disappointed to note that I could not use it on Friday or Saturday evening or Sunday lunchtime. However, as it was my daughter's birthday on Sunday we decided to go on Sunday evening, so we did. The location of this restaurant is very central. Five minutes from the Marks Tey turnoff of the A12. Down the A120, turn right past Poplar Nurseries and about 1 mile later, on a sharp right bend there it is. Now Sunday evening was very foggy, so it was difficult to see the outside, but the inside was most impressive. Our party consisted of my grandson (11months), my youngest son (11), my eldest son (18), my daughter and her finance and myself and my husband. Out of this party 1 (me) is vegetarian, the boys only eat chicken and very little veg, difficult hey. There was ample car parking, well lit and directly behind the brassiere. You walked through a courtyard up to the barn, through large glass doors, in to what can only be described as a cavernous barn. Not at all what I was expecting, do you get the picture so far, it gets better. The glass doors opened into the eating area on your right and up 2 steps to your left was a bar area, with a glass petition overlooking the eating area. We were shown to comfortable leather sofas and chairs around a table, one of 6 or 7 in the bar area, very comfortable and inviting. A barman came to our table and took our order. Although the drinks were added to our food bill it worth mentioning at this stage that they were very reasonable for this sort of establishment. For 4 budweisers, 1 coke, 1 pint of bitter and 3 appletises it was £17.65, much cheaper than we had expected. Menus were brought to us in the bar area and we were left to consider our pleasure and advised that the "soup of the moment", aptly called so we
found out later, was basil and tomato. I should point out at this stage that the two free meals were from the £9.99 two course menu, although there was also a £5.99 two course menue and an a la carte menu to choose from. After much deliberation we ordered our food and remained seated in the bar area until advised that our starters were on their way and we were excorted to our table. The tables were ideally spaced and were large enough to accomodate additional plates, glasses,etc, more than enough room. My grandson was provided with a highchair and positioned on the end of the table in the aisle, but not in harms way. The starters arrived, 4 soups (not basil and tomato, the moment had passed) but a very acceptable replacement. Garlic mushrooms and smoked atlantic salmon. These were enjoyed by all. The main courses followed, with a suitable interval. 3 shanks of lamb (enormous), 1 goats cheese parcels on a bed of rocket and mixed leaves, 2 chargrilled chicken breasts on a bed of garlic mash with a sauce which could be served on or with the chicken. Side dishes of new potatoes in their skins and a medley of veg (sprouts,carrots, courgettes and swede - not everyones taste) were placed on the table and we ate. Again very enjoyable. As both the fixed price menus were 2 course, desserts were charged extra, £3.50 each from the £9.99 menu and £2.99 from the £5.99 menu. One thing I omitted to mention twas that there was a choice of 4 items in each course. 3 of us had desserts, which were superb, first impressions were that they were very small (they came on large plates and were fancied up) but they were just the right amount. Just to whet your appetite further we had, Lemon Tarte with marscapone, Pecan and Chocolate muffin w=served with a chocolate couli and Passion fruit and cream pavlova, bon appetite. The staff were polite, friendly and attentive. They chatted with the baby and paid grea
t attention to detail. Before we started our meal large fabric napkins were folded over our laps. All in all, although this isn't the sort of place we would normally eat we all enjoyed the meal. The atmosphere, the surroundings and the meals get an overall 9 out of 10. However, if we were to go again, which I am sure we will, I don't think we would take the children. One further thing I should point out, we booked in advance and booked the table for 6 O'clock, which was the earliest time for the evening bookings. There did not appear to be a dress code, some of us were very casually dressed and didn't feel out of place and there was a mixed age group of diners. This brassiere certainly gets my vote, if you are local to it why not give it a try. Well I expect you want to know what our total bill was - £88.09 including the drinks, but don't forget we had 2 free meals so we paid £68.11 - not bad hey. The Barn Brassiere - Phone 01206 212345 Fax 01206 211522
Having seen a banner for cdwow.com whilst dooing my dooyooing well before christmas, I decided to investigate. One of the methods of payment was paybox, an incentive to use this method payment was your first cd at a reduced cost (it seems such a long time ago now I have forgotten what it wss). However, at the time I was enticed by it. I followed the on screen instructions, to the letter I might add, and registered for paybox through my mobile phone. The idea being that you authorise the payment through your mobile phone, a pin number is set up and when you want to make a purchase they ring you to get authority, you put in the pin number and away you go. NO YOU DON'T. The first part of the operation went relatively smoothly, albeit there was a lengthy online form to complete. This completed you were called on your mobile and an automated (surprise, surprise) message is relayed to you with details of how to set up your pin number. After numerous attempts, far too many to mention, by which time my temper was fraying, no response. Knowing that my daughter was trying to do the same thing I sent her an IM to see if she was also experiencing problems, she was. She e-mailed cdwow and asked if they were experiencing difficulties and they said they were but to keep trying. Nine days later (I initially refused to give up) I has still been unsuccessful. The principal of the thing was good, it would (if it worked) be a secure way of paying for goods online. Eventually I gave up and purchased the goods through safedoor.com, again through a link on cdwow, success first time. I know that perhaps when we tried to set this payment method up it was in its early stages, but when time is of the essence (especially at christmas time) you need a failsafe payment method. The only qualms I now have are that I registered my bank account details, etc with paybox and have not been able to set up the account, what do
they do with them. I hope that others have had better experiences with paybox and would be interested to receive positive feedback as well as negative.