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Member since: 28.06.2009

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      22.04.2012 21:48
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      Want to know how far along you are? Then these are for you

      I saw these in the shops when I was trying to get pregnant last time, and I was intrigued. The claim to tell not only if you're pregnant but how many weeks pregnant you are.

      Cost
      Initially the cost put me off a bit at £12.99 for two in boots, but I went online to Amazon where they cost £6.99 for two and that was much more affordable.

      Packaging
      The tests come in a cardboard box with the world clearblue digital on the front with a photo of the tests. Each test is individually wrapped. Each test is white with a thick blue lid, on the front is a little window which will give you the result.

      How to Use
      Open the wrapper and read the instructions in the box. Remove the test from the wrapper and remove the cap. With the tip pointing downward, urinate on the end of the test for 5 seconds. If you prefer you can urinate in a cup and dip for 20 seconds in the cup. Replace the cap and place the test down on a flat surface.

      An egg timer should appear in the display to window to let you know it is working. In 3 minutes the result should appear in the window.

      Reading the Result
      There are 4 possible results with this test:
      Not Pregnant, if the screen says not pregnant, then you are not pregnant, or it is too early to detect your pregnancy
      Pregnant 1-2: If the screen says Pregnant 1-2 it means you are pregnant. But it doesn't mean you are 1-2 weeks pregnant, it means conception happened 1-2 weeks ago, so you are 3-4 weeks pregnant, as pregnancy is calculated from your last menstrual period.
      Pregnant 2-3: As above, this means you are pregnant, and conception happened 2-3 weeks ago, so you are 4-5 weeks pregnant.
      Pregnant 3+: This too means you are pregnant, and that conception happened more than 3 weeks ago, you are more than 5 weeks pregnant. This means you could be anywhere from 6 weeks to 36 weeks (or more)!!

      Reliability
      Clearblue claim to be 99% accurate if used from the day you period is due and 92% accurate at determining how far along you are.

      I found it to be very accurate. When I used it when I just over 4 weeks pregnant I got 2-3 weeks on the conception indicator. A week later, I found my normal pregnancy tests were suddenly really light and I thought I was going to miscarry, so I took my last conception indicator, and it said 3+ which I found very reassuring. It can really put a nervous pregnant woman at ease.

      I have seen them give inaccurate results though, the problem is that the pregnancy hormone HCG that theses tests are measuring can vary wildly between people, so sometimes they just aren't accurate. And if you don't get the result you expect it can cause a lot of worry.

      Most of the time though these tests work very well and with a reported sensitivity of 25miu, they can be used a couple of days before your period is late and give a fairly accurate result.

      But considering the price, I would suggest testing with other tests and using these to back up a positive and determine the time since conception, rather than as your only pregnancy test.

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        21.04.2012 19:31
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        A great, reasonably priced nail varnish, with lots of colour choice.

        The problem with most budget nail polish is that it generally chips or peels easily if you do a lot of typing, which I do. Quick drying nail polish can also be quite hard to get right, as it can go thick and gloopy as you are applying it, but I have been quite impressed with the Rimmel 60 second nail varnish.

        Cost
        I would consider this a budget nail varnish, costing around £2-3 for an 8ml bottle.

        Appearance
        The bottle is a little small, but since I never fully use a bottle of nail varnish before it goes funny, it's fine. The bottle is clear and the colour is pretty true to life when you apply it. The lid is long and black and the brush small.

        Colours
        The colours are what first attracted me to this brand. I found myself inexplicably drawn to a bright blue/green metallic bottle called 819, Green With Envy. It's perfect and beautifully bright. My husband tells me it's like I've been killing smurfs. I also ended up with the purple one and a red one. There are some lovely bright colours, really some different colours. I love them.

        Application
        This nail varnish goes on well, it's a little thicker than I like and because it's hard to get it smooth first time, I always do a second coat, but at a pinch you could just apply the one coat, as the colour is bright and clear, but the brush strokes are a bit visible.

        Quality
        This nail varnish comes across as good quality and although it doesn't have the staying power of some more expensive nail varnishes, it doesn't chip as easily as a lot of nail varnishes, even some which cost a bit more.

        I also love how 2 years later, this nail varnish is still usable, it hasn't gone too thick and gloopy and it still works as well as it did 2 years ago. This is a sign of good quality in my view.

        The nail varnish does dry really fast so it's great if you don't like waiting around for your nails to dry, or you've suddenly been invited somewhere and need to get ready fast.

        Overall
        The colours are really bright when applied and I love how metallic some of the colours are. My nails really stand out with my Green with Envy, and it does exactly what it says on the bottle - dries in 60 seconds, or maybe slightly more. Overall, one of my favourite budget nail varnishes with lots of colours I love.

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          20.04.2012 17:29
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          Obsessed with testing early? Then these aren't for you!

          When I first bought these, years ago, the seller claimed they were "high sensivity" measuring 10miu of the pregnancy hormone, HCG, in the urine. I was soon to discover this was not true.

          Cost
          I buy these off ebay for about 10p each, much cheaper than most high street brands of pregnancy tests.

          Appearance
          To distinguish these from the One Step Ovulation tests, these strips are blue rather than green. You might ask how you can get confused between the two, but honestly, it really is possible to accidentally urinate on an ovulation test, see a line and think you're pregnant...

          Each test is individually wrapped with a little pack to keep away moisture.

          Ease of Use
          Simply rip open the packet, discard the little packet and dip your test in a cup of fresh urine, for at least 10 seconds and wait no more than 10 minutes to read. Do not go over the max line and do not urinate directly on the stick as this usually results in a smeary and unclear test with unreliable results.

          If you are desperate, I have recently discovered that you can urinate inside the packet itself and then dip the test in there.

          When to test
          Realistically you shouldn't test for pregnant before about 10 days past ovulation, or 4 days before your period is due. If you do test that early, I would recommend a very sensitive test, these cheap tests are not going to provide a readable result until at least 12 days after ovulation, or 2 days before your period is due.

          Reading the Results
          If there is a second line within the time limit of 10 minutes, the test is positive and you are indeed pregnant. Congratulations...or commiserations depending on your situation. It doesn't matter how faint the second line is, if it's there you're pregnant.

          Reliability
          Some cheap tests are well know for giving false positive readings. But not the one step. In fact you are far more likely to see a false negative result. These tests are nowhere near as sensitive as they claim. When I actually did get pregnant and used these tests, the line was so faint at 11 days past ovulation, I wasn't sure it was there at all. I spent most of the day wondering if I was or not. In the end I got a much more expensive first response test, which claims to measure 25miu of HCG, rather than the 10miu on these tests and I got a clear, easy to see, nice and dark pink line.

          So while I have never got a line when I wasn't pregnant, and there has never been false hope, I wouldn't rely on these to give me a clear result before my period was due. I'd say around 14 to 15 days past ovulation, you might get a clear pink line, before that I would rather use a much more sensitive test.

          Overall
          I wouldn't recommend these if your period is not late yet, if you like to test early then I'd try a first response for better accuracy. If your period is late then these will be perfect to give an honest and reliable result to that every nagging questions...am I pregnant?

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          20.04.2012 17:05
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          Overall, a good cheap way to monitor ovulation and hopefully get pregnant

          I've been trying for a baby for many years now. There was a short interlude of 6 months where I was pregnant, but that didn't end how I'd hoped, so here I am again still trying for that ever elusive baby.

          Why do you need Ovulation Tests?
          The honest answer is that most people don't. Most people will either get pregnant quickly when they start trying or get pregnant accidentally when they weren't trying. Unfortunately some women aren't quite so lucky and have to go down the timed intercourse, monitored fertility route.

          Many doctors will tell you that you ovulate around day 14 of your cycle. In reality most women ovulate about 14 days before their next period, not 14 days after their last period. This distinction between these two points can make a big difference. There are a few ways to monitor ovulation, and ovulation tests like these one step tests, test for the hormone LH in the urine. An LH surge happens about 12-36 hours before ovulation, so if you keep testing then you will notice a positive test and know when to have intercourse, so as not to miss the tiny 2 day window of of opportunity.

          What does a positive look like?
          Unlike pregnancy tests where a positive is any line at all, no matter how faint. On these One Step ovulation test, and most ovulation tests, a positive is where the test line is as dark or darker than the control line.

          Appearance
          The tests have a thick green handle with an absorbent tip with a max line, they come individually wrapped in plastic wrappers with a little packet to prevent moisture.

          Ease of Use
          Simply rip open the packet (taking care not to rip your test) throw away the little packet inside and then dip your test into fresh urine. Urinating directly on these does not work and will cause an erroneous result. However, if you have no container to urinate in, I have had success urinating into the packet itself and dipping the test in there.

          Dip for at least 10 seconds, but do not go over the max line. Then lay the test strip flat on a non-absorbent surface and wait for no more than 10 minutes for a result.

          Reading the Result
          Although in theory, the test line has to be as dark or darker than control, I find these tests are not very sensitive. I have used these tests every cycle for about 4 years (minus 6 months) and have only got a "true" positive on a handful of occasions - usually while taking clomid. Perhaps the sensitivity isn't great for these tests, different brands of tests will measure different concentrations of LH in your urine. Too sensitive and you will get a false positive before your surge, since most women have some LH in their urine every day. Not sensitive enough and some women won't get a positive at all.

          These One step tests aren't that sensitive, at least for me. But I am still happy to use them as I know what a "positive" looks like for me. So although the line wont be as dark as control, I can tell that for me, it's my surge. I've tried other tests, like wondfo, and found them to be far too sensitive, resulting in days and days of positive results. These are much better.

          Backing them up
          If it's important for you to make sure you don't miss your positive - perhaps you are taking time sensitive fertility meds, or IUI, then it can be helpful to back them up with a digital ovulation test. My favourite is a clearblue digital, which shows a smiley face if you are ovulating or a blank face if you aren't. Usually a negative, but dark line on one step, is positive on my digital. But the digitals are expensive, and these are cheap, and since you need to test often it's best to only use the digital as a back up.

          Cost
          I buy these tests on ebay, and they usually cost between 7 and 10p each.

          Overall
          I have been using these tests for a long time and mostly I'm happy enough with them. They are cheap, they work well enough and I know my own body well enough to interpret these correctly. But if you do need certainty then a digital would be better

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            19.04.2012 18:15
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            Visit Llandudno for the good old fashioned seaside experience

            I live just near Llandudno in North Wales, in the smaller town of Conwy. But I frequently go out to Llandudno to do my shopping and just generally walk around. I love that although it is a seaside town it isn't like some which have arcades every 2nd shop. It has a little bit more class than some seaside towns but it still has the fun seaside feel.

            Things to Do
            Go up the Orme by cable car and see the most amazing views. Beware though the cable car only runs in good weather, if there is wind they shut down. You can also use the tram, which is a nice vintage way to see the roads up the Orme. If you prefer you can pay a toll and drive the scenic route up the Orme yourself by Marine Drive. However, the cafe at the top of the Orme is abysmal, and I refuse to eat there, perhaps bring your own food or eat in Llandudno first. At the top of the Orme is mini golf, which isn't top of the range, but is a fun hour or so for the family to enjoy.

            While up the Orme, perhaps visit the Great Orme copper mines, take a tour through the old mines and learn a bit of history too.

            Go skiing at the Llandudno Ski centre, or even go tubing or tobogganing, it does get busy so if you have a big party remember to book ahead.

            Go visit the famous Llandudno pier, there is plenty for children to do - slides, rides and ice cream and if you fancy a trip on a speedboat you can get on one near the pier and have the most exhilarating ride. There is also fishing for the adults and donkey rides during summer on the beach for the children to enjoy.

            On West Shore there is a duck pounds and play area and a lovely beach to play on.

            To experience a bit of culture, go visit the Llandudno museum or the home front experience where you can learn about life during the war and sit in an Anderson Shelter while you hear the (fake) bombs overhead.

            A bit farther afield in Colwyn Bay is the Welsh Mountain Zoo, a relatively small zoo, but very sweet and lots of fun things to see a do.

            Coffee Shops
            I love nothing more than going out for a coffee and a cake. But since I am allergic to milk, the places I can go for my weekly coffee are very limited. There are four that make reasonable soya milk coffees.

            Coffee Culture is a little coffee shop above Waterstones. It serves soya milk coffee, but no dairy free cakes. The coffee is reasonable, but can be a bit sweet if you ask for syrup.

            Costa Coffee serves nice tasting coffee, but I don't like the actual coffee shop, it's always so busy and there is no where nice to sit and relax. Also there is nothing I can eat at all there.

            Newly opened is Cafe Nero. I decided to try this out the other day and I really enjoyed it, the coffee wasn't too bitter and was smooth and tasted nice, the latte had plenty of foam and there are lots of nice places to sit upstairs. And some of the sandwiches are dairy free, which is always good if .I'm hungry

            Badgers in the Victoria Centre is perhaps one of the nicest coffee shops in Llandudno. It's not dairy free and it is expensive, but I love the specialist coffees with cream, and the cakes are to die for. Treat yourself to a cream bun or a homemade crumpet and feel truly extravagant as the waitresses dressed in their Victoria clothes serve you.

            The Hambone is a very popular sandwich bar, serving the best selection of sandwiches and the chips are amazing. They have recently opened a restaurant and coffee shop and I have to say I really love both their coffee and their food. They sometimes have soya, but not always, and when they do it really depends on whether they know what they are doing, more than once they handed me soya coffee with curdled milk and I've had to explain to them how to prepare soya. But the food is lovely, a bit expensive but very nice and they will keep it dairy free if you ask and make it clear that traces of milk are OK. It is very busy though.

            Shopping
            There are some main shopping areas in Llandudno - the Victoria Centre is a precinct of various shops and cafes and eateries,

            Parc Llandudno is a retail park with some big shops like Debenhams and Costa Coffee and the streets of the town are lined with plenty of shops to keep any one amused for hours.

            For those partial to a bit of second hand there are plenty of charity shops and a very good second hand baby clothes store to visit.

            There is also big asda for all your grocery shopping needs and the Mostyn Champneys Retail Park which holds all the usual businesses like argos and pets at home.

            I really love Llandundo, it's nice for a day out, even when I've been many many times, and although it can get busy during summer it doesn't put me off. Even during winter I enjoy a nice roam through the charity shops, and I bought everything I could ever need for my baby at the second hand store. When I feel like getting out the house, I pop into Llandudno, have a nice coffee and peruse the shops. The perfect seaside town.

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            19.04.2012 13:39
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            A good product for a reasonable price, but there are better options out there.

            I have tried several of the Sally Hansen products, attempting to get my nails strong and long and healthy. My favourite to date is Nail Growth Miracle, as it really does work, but this is a close second. I have very thin nails that break too easily and don't grow at all, so these are the problems that need addressing.

            Cost
            Cheaper than the Nail Growth Miracle, maximum growth costs anywhere from £3-6

            Appearance
            The bottle is clear, showing a lightly pink liquid with a white brush attached to a long silver lid. It doesn't look exactly expensive, but it's not horrible either.

            Application
            Application is a little thick and sticky I found, but it goes on easily enough. I hoped it would have a nice pink tint, but it doesn't really. It does leave your nails looking nice and shiny but it has a pretty awful smell which makes your eyes water.

            Effects
            If you follow the instructions to the letter it does make your nails feel a bit stronger and you will notice some growth. It isn't anywhere near as fast growth as Nail Growth Miracle, but it does work. I noticed my nails were less bendy and didn't split as easily, they stayed strong long enough to actually gain some length.

            Is it worth it?
            I think there are better products out there, but if you are prepared to put the effort in and follow the instructions to the letter you will get stronger and healthier nails with increased growth. One thing I do like about this compared to Nail Growth Miracle is that it doesn't make your nails as brittle. Some nail hardeners harden your nails to such an extent that they can just snap, because they can't bend at all, and this resulted in many a snapped nail, this one gives a little bit of bend to prevent too much snapping.

            Also, Sally Hansen sells Maximum Growth in different nail colours which is a nice addition. But I don't find the nail colour is very good quality, it's very thin and needs a lot of coats and easily chips.

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            18.04.2012 20:47
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            Not bad for a backup, but there are better products out there.

            I don't remember where or when I bought this, but I was searching for my Sally Hansen nail growth miracle that I used to use before I got pregnant. I love the nail growth miracle, it works really really well to strengthen your nails and helps your nails grow. But during pregnancy I wasn't happy about applying something that had all sorts of toxic chemicals including formaldehyde, so I stopped using it. When I finally found it, it had gone yellow, thick and gunky. There was no way I was going to be able to use that. But at the back of my nail varnish box was this one "No more breaks" in a charming green colour. So, I went ahead an used this.

            I have very thin nails, that break far too easily due to years of nail abuse. They simply don't grow either, so I really wanted nice nails again, like I had with Nail Growth miracle.

            Cost
            Although I can't remember what I paid for this, it seems to cost around £4 now.

            Appearance
            The bottle is clear with a tall white top attached to the brush inside. You can clearly see the green liquid inside, which is a strange offensive colour.

            Application
            The liquid isn't too thick like some, despite sitting at the back of my cupboard for at least 2 years. It's easy enough to apply and the brush is a good length and not to thick.

            Effects
            I did wonder if this would leave my nails with a strange off-green colour but it doesn't. But it doesn't make you nails look bright, it gives them a strange yellowing colour - like a smokers fingernails. Not exactly sexy. I apply two coats every other day, it leaves my nails shiny with quite a high gloss look, and I have noticed a slight increase in growth and I think they are a bit stronger and less flaky, but not nearly as much as I'd hope for.

            Is it worth the money?
            It's not as expensive as the nail growth miracle, but it doesn't work nearly as well. With nail growth miracle my nails grew fast and strong, albeit a little brittle, No more breaks isn't giving my nails quite the same strength. If I was going to buy another Sally Hansen, I'd go ahead and buy the nail growth miracle again. But this is a good backup, but perhaps cover it up with nail varnish to hide the weird yellowy tint.

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            17.04.2012 22:49
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            I have a lot to thank my wii fit for, but perhaps it's time to get a kinect?

            I bought a wii several years ago and enjoyed it immensly. After that I began hankering after the wii fit. It took me a while to make the decision to spend so much money and buy one.

            Price
            The board cost about £80 on offer and came with wii fit game.

            Weight Limit
            Initially I was pretty worried about the weight limit, a few years ago I was very heavy, over 20 stone, so I was concerned this wouldn't take my weight but I've never had any problems and since I weigh a lot less now - thanks to the wii fit, I'm happy!

            Ease of Use
            It's fairly easy to set up. Just put in the batteries, insert wii fit and turn on the wii and select your game. It will tell you to sync the board, you will see the sync button on the wii and inside the battery compartment of the wii board.

            Games
            There are plenty of mini games on the wii fit disc, from yoga to hula-hooping, but there isn't a great choice in actual other games out there. I had hoped that they would bring out more games to play, but there isn't a great choice and it can get boring.

            Effectiveness
            It is after all called wiifit. Did I get fit? Yes, I actually did get fit. I was doing yoga every morning and using another game with the balance board to do cardio 4 times a week and I lost 70 pounds in about 10 months! So really it did what I bought it for.

            Overall
            I have enjoyed having the wii balance board, but I am disappointed they haven't improved the games for the board and there are better things out there now - such as the xbox kinect which I am tempted to buy. I hardly ever use my board now, except as a scale as it's very accurate. But it's very expensive for just a scale.

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              17.04.2012 22:06
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              Great for a treat, too expensive for every day.

              During summer I find it a bit of task looking for something low calorie and dairy free to eat on those lovely scorching hot days at our local beach.

              As I'm allergic to milk all ice cream is out of the question and a lot of so called "ice lollies" are too. And most plain ice lollies have little to no flavour and what little flavour they have is sucked dry by my slow licking.

              Fruits pastille lollies are different. They are long and have 5 different colour with each layer sucking down to another flavour underneath.

              If, like me, you're a sucker, they last a good 20 minutes without losing any flavour. The flavour is pretty intense, and the lolly is really "juicy." Once you start licking, it's like having a drink of juice without actually drinking, and none of the flavours taste artificial at all. They don't melt all over you either and large chunks down't fall off as they melt like some lollies.

              The only real downside is the cost at £2.50 for 4 in tesco, Each lolly comes individually wrapped, when you try to remove the wrapper sometimes it gets stuck on the lolly, but this doesn't cause any problems. they really are only for treats. But on the plus side they only have 61 calories per lolly, so they wont make you fat but sugar is high at 14.6g, so you shouldn't eat too many of these in a day, they are probably pretty bad for your teeth, not to mention your sugar intake.

              Sometimes I think they are a bit too big and I get tired of eating them halfway through, but they really are nice, and one of my favourites.

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            • Oral B Satin Floss / Oral Care / 14 Readings / 13 Ratings
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              17.04.2012 20:59
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              Good for tightly packed teeth.

              I must have tried every dental floss out there to try and find one that suited me. My teeth are very tightly packed together and my gums sensitive, so most flosses just hurt and are too thick so I end up getting horrid tooth pain for days.

              I finally found I like Oral B satin tape, it was easy to use, it glided through the teeth and it was thin enough not to cause too much pain and it didn't cause any cuts in my gums. But one time I accidentally picked this one up instead of the tape and I wasn't pleased.

              Although it is better than some flosses, it still hurts sometimes to use it, and it doesn't glide nearly as well as the tape. I recently used a cheap generic floss and that hurt a lot and when a few weeks later I changed back to Oral B I was flossing gunk out of my teeth for ages and ages. So, I wasn't happy and I don't have that sort of problem with this floss. Just that it isn't as comfortable for me as the Satin Tape. And because it is more expensive at £2.14 rather than £1.50 for the tape, I'm definitely sticking to the tape if I can. It really gets between the teeth without causing pain and right down into the gums without causing bleeding. Plus it has a nice minty flavour.

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              17.04.2012 19:56
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              If you want a degree, or just like studying, then this is for you!

              I've been studying at the Open University since 2007 and am 2 course away from getting my degree!

              I have studied a selection of courses from different subject areas, as I love learning and enjoy the challenge of starting something completely different.

              I have done:
              Exploring Psychology
              Child Development
              Death and Dying
              Investigating Mental Health
              and currently Exploring Philosophy

              Cost
              The courses are not cheap, at around £500-700, but if you take into account the ridiculously high University fees, they really are good value as they come with most of your books, your DVD's, CD's, access to the website and tutorials both online and in person.

              Ease of use
              Each course is normally worth either 30 points or 60 points and you need 360 points to get a degree, which have to be taken from various different levels - 1, 2 and 3. But can be taken from any subject for an Open Degree.

              The courses come with several books included in the price. For a full course, each book is usually for one month and one assignment. This means a lot of reading and a lot of dedication to make sure you get things done.

              The website clearly lays out what you are supposed to be reading when, and when assignments are due. Along with quizzes, forums to discuss things and access to the online library.

              You submit most assignment using the online ETMA system, which is easy and simply to use.

              Compared to a University Course
              The Open University is very reading focused, so if you are a visual learner like me, you will find it easy enough. But as some people are auditory learners or kinesthetic learners, some people might find the high reading requirements very dull and the material very hard to learn. Although there are some DVD's, CD's and online things to do, for the most part it is all reading, and although I do like this, it can get a bit boring.

              I've been to University before and part of me enjoyed being in a class, and discussing things with others. But I also like how flexible this course has been. If I'd been studying at University during the last course, where I ended up in hospital and when my son died, I would have had to defer a year. Whereas I was able to continue my course and still pass despite my absence.

              Tutors
              I have had very different experiences in each course with tutors. I found in exploring psychology, the tutor was being overly strict with the marking throughout. I was sure she was marking me down, but wasn't sure why. I was getting on average 50-60% on my coursework, then I took the exam and got 89% so I knew I was right, she was marking me down as the exam is marked independently.

              During Child Development I got ill and sat the exam in quite a state, but still passed. I enjoyed the course and found the marking to be fair and the tutor to be reasonable.

              During death and dying, my father died just after I started and it took a lot of effort to persuade myself to continue with that course, especially considering the course content, but I did. The tutor was very understanding and gave me extra time to complete.

              During Investigating Mental Health I ended up in hospital and my son died. For about 10 weeks I did nothing at all, and my tutor did everything in her power to help me complete this, and although I missed a couple of assignments I actually did manage to pass with a grade 4.

              My current course I have not been so happy with. My tutor has continuously marked me down for minor grammatical errors and openly declared that he does not like my "writing style." I do not think that he should be able to mark students down for their "writing style" and I have been forced to keep my writing free from creativity and flourish in order to pass the assignments. As a writer, I have found this hard, but I have done what is needed to get this far.

              Overall
              Considering the problems I've had year after year while doing the courses, I am happy enough to recommend them to friends and family. It's cheaper by a long way than going to University and I hope that in a couple of years I will proudly have my Open Degree. Although goodness know what will happen in my life in the next couple of courses.

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              17.04.2012 16:25
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              A moving, compelling take on an old fairy tale and an insight into the pain of loss and infertlity

              In the bookstore, I picked up this book, attracted as I was to the cover and read the blurb at the back. I was instantly intrigued. A far cry from my usual thrillers, this book attracted me for an entirely different reason. Early last year my own infant son, and only child died, and it was for the this reason I bought the book and took it home to read.

              As we open the book, we are instantly drawn into the harsh lives of middle-aged Jack and Mabel, living in the cold, cruel and unrelenting 1920's Alaska.

              The basis of the story is the Russian Fairytale of a childless couple, who one day build a snow-girl and she comes to life. The ending of the story varies from tale to tale, but the concept itself is played out brilliantly in The Snow Child without sounding pretentious or unbelievable.

              I read the entire book in 1 night, I literally could not put it down. As I followed the story of Jack and Mabel, I truly felt the harshness and barrenness of their lives in Alaska, echoed compellingly in the harshness of their childlessness and the barrenness of Mabel's womb. When Faina, the snow child, enters their life, Eowyn Ivey, accurately portrays the desperation, the pure desire and need for her to stay and become a part of their lives.

              While some people may read the Snow Child and not understand Mabel's unrelenting NEED to have a child of her own, and how much it utterly consumes her life, I think Ivey's account of this feeling is truthful and compelling. As an infertile woman, with no living children who has suffered the loss of my only and much loved child, I can honestly say that the emotions portrayed by Ivey in this book are as close as you can get to experienced that agonizing, ever obsessive torment without going through it yourself.

              There was a lot of tears as I read The Snow Child, a book that echoed so many of my own feelings and pain. As the book drew to a close, I found myself desperate to know the outcome. What would happen to Faina?

              And while the true identity of the Faina, the snow child remains a mystery, the entire book left me feeling both sad and uplifted, upset and yet exquisitely satisfied with everything that had happened.

              Ivey's skill as a writer shines through this book, her ability to weave mystery slowly into her story, and yet keep the reader hooked throughout. How she knew how to portray Mabel's feelings, I will never know, perhaps she spoke to other women, or perhaps she simply used her skill as a writer to empathize and imagine that situation. But however she did it, I was moved by her words and her story telling skills. And it is a book I will keep in my book case for a long time to come.

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            • Belvita Breakfast Biscuits / Snacks / 14 Readings / 12 Ratings
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              16.04.2012 22:29
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              I really love these but they are just bad on my budget and my waistline

              I saw these on offer, and because I like things that are on offer when they were offer I started reading ingredients of the various flavours.

              Flavours:
              They come in fruit and fibre, yoghurt crunch, honey nuts, crunchy oats.

              Dietary Information:
              Because I am allergic to milk, I didn't expect to actually find any of these biscuits that I could eat. And I was right, I read through all the different flavours and all of them contained dairy until I picked up the honey and nuts with choc chip. Surprisingly these do not contain milk.

              Calories:
              Per biscuit is 58 calories and they come in packs of 4 biscuits.

              Cost
              These cost £2.49, they are not cheap.

              Taste
              I didn't expect much of these, but there is something strangely addictive about these biscuits. They are salty, yet sweet, crunchy yet chocolately, and are really nice dipped in fresh almond milk. Once I started eating these I could not stop. I just ate the entire pack, and then worked on the rest of the box.

              They try to market these biscuits as a healthy breakfast, but they aren't. If you consider that each biscuit is 58 calories and 3.1g of sugar and 2g of fat! If you eat all 4 like they recommend you will eat an amazing 232 calories, over 12g of sugar and 8g of fat! That is shocking and certainly not healthy.

              But they do taste delicious and if you can just eat one then go ahead and buy these. But they are expensive and they are not healthy, so do not be fooled.

              And as they are addictive, they can really make a dent in your weekly food budget if you start buying these weekly and a bulge in your waistline!

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            • More +
              15.04.2012 23:41
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              • Reliability
              • Reliability

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              Overall, I really love my camera, it is everything I could ever want in a camera.

              When my husband bought me this camera as a present and I was both ecstatic and overwhelmed. It looks like a professional SLR, it has hundreds of features and honestly I had no idea how to use it.

              Cost
              This model will set you back about £200-300, a drop in the ocean compared to a proper SLR, but still not cheap for a camera.

              Appearance
              The camera looks like a SLR, it's big and bulky, but not too heavy. It fits nicely into your hands and looks pretty professional.

              Features
              This camera has a whole slew of features.
              12.1 megapixels and 18x optical zoom.
              It takes HD movies and intelligent auto with face recognition
              There is also many different scenes and settings to help the less experiences user out
              The 2.7 TFT Screen LCD display is great for reviewing your images

              Ease of Use
              As overwhelming as this camera might look to the novice, it really is as simple as point and click to start. Just turned the dial to auto, press down to focus and then press to take the photo. This is plenty to take some amazing photos. The quality is fantastic, clear, concise and usually very good in composition. You can also choose a different scene, like fireworks, candlelight or pet and many many others, to really get the perfect image.

              The more experienced user can play with any setting possible to compose the perfect image, to adjust for atmospheric conditions and light and to alter the appearance to create mood. There are so many options, you will never get bored of trying new things.

              Good Points
              I love how easy it is to take a good quality picture. I don't need to really think about it, just point at my subject and click. If I want to play with all the settings I have that option too, and I have tried new things out since getting this camera. For example, recently I tried light painting using a long exposure, and I've really had fun playing with camera techniques. The camera is heavy as you'd expect, but not too heavy to carry around all day if you want to.

              The zoom is brilliant, and I think you can add another lens if you want to increase zoom, but as it is, it works very well and is as easy as just moving a little switch back and forth.

              To change the automatic setting, you can simply turn the dial to macro setting, or action setting in seconds and simply work from there without needing to play too much with the settings.

              The LCD screen is the perfect size and works well, even in bright light and the HD movies are very high quality and better than some video cameras I have.

              The battery power is fine, you can use it all day and not run out. In fact if you don't use it at all, or only a little bit, one full charge lasts weeks and weeks.


              Bad Points
              I think there are so many options that finding the right one can be difficult. Other than that I don't really have any complaints.

              I'm sure there are better cameras out there, but this one is the perfect combination of high-end digital SLR and easy-to-use novice camera. I am still learning the features of this camera over 18 months later, and I suspect I will be enjoying it for many years to come.

              If you want an SLR, but don't want to pay SLR prices this is a great start. In fact I can't think of anything else I could want in a camera.

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            • BT Home Hub 2.0 / Wireless LAN / 17 Readings / 16 Ratings
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              15.04.2012 19:38
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              A mostly reliable modem for the whole family

              When I move house, I decided to move broadband providers too. I did a lot of research before coming back to BT. I'd had some bad experiences with BT in the past and was a little aprehensive about signing up with them again. But because we live in the country, we do not have that much choice, and most broadband providers only provide either a very low download limit or very expensive broadband, BT was really the best.

              Package
              I get unlimited downloads, unlimited phone calls and line rental and broadband for £40 a month. If you live in their high speed ares, you can get a much cheaper package. But they do not provide these in our area.

              Speed
              Mostly we run around 5-6MBPS. However, there has been long periods of time where for no apparent reason we were running at less than 56kbps. The speed can be unreliable around high peak times, so even watching a video on iplayer can be difficult and it can get very frustrating.

              Appearance
              The hub is black, sleek and curved. It comes with it's very own hub phone so you have a separate phone line and it doesn't look bad at all.

              Reliability
              Overall I have had fairy consistent connection with my hub. But for several months we suffered speeds so slow, that the speed tester would run at all. Eventually they send us out a new hub, but this didn't change anything. Then after speaking to them several hundreds times BT finally did "something" their end and we ran just fine. I don't know what they did, but it fixed it.

              Overall
              I have been fairly happy with my hub, when it works the speeds are excellent. And the hub is actually quite nice to look at rather than usual boring looking modem. And although we have had our problems they have now been fixed and we've been with BT and the new hub for almost 2 years.

              If you want a speedy modem for all the family then this may be the one for you, especially if you live in the "right" area and can get a cheap deal.

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