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The best use I have put e-Bay to is for picking up cheap CDs. I have a wide range of music interests, and occasionally pick up a few CDs, which will usually cost me between £20 to £30. Now, before I buy from e.g. Amazon, I will run a search through e-Bay to see if anyone is selling the music I want to buy. Frequently, the CDs being sold are offered new, and usually they are in very good condition if not new. Even fairly recent releases turn up on e-Bay, so it is always worth a search. I have just spent the weekend filling in some gaps in my CD collection, buying Pulp, Verve, Bob Marley and Eminem albums for a combined cost of about £15 including postage. Of course, you can always check the reliability of the vendor by looking at their feedback profile. This is obviously less of an issue if you are only spending a couple of quid. The same principle applies to DVDs and videos. Happy hunting!
We holidayed in Scilly in June 2001, and actually got married in the Town Hall in St Mary's during our stay - a fantastic experience, but that's another story. The weather wasn't brilliant generally, but at least half of every day was sunny and warm enought to be on the beach. Rain, when it came, was heavy, but passed quickly. You can travel there from Penzance by boat, small aircraft or helicopter. The ferry is the cheapest, but is known by locals as the "White Stomach Pump". It is a small craft with a minimal keel, which tends to create a bit of a roll, so be prepared if you do not possess a pair of sea legs. We were lucky to have two good crossings, spotting a couple of basking sharks on the return trip. Flights are very quick, and probably worth the extra money if you are susceptible to seasickness. The islands are a small, functional community, with beautiful coastal scenery in every direction, a rich mixture of wildlife and spectacular flowers. We spent most of our time on St Mary's, the largest and most populated (approx 2,000) island. Tresco, with its famous Abbey Gardens, is the next largest; accommodation is about twice the price of other islands! There are plenty of regular boat trips to the inhabited and uninhabited islands, and prices are reasonable. One of the nice things about Scilly is the relatively small numbers of tourists, so there is never much of a crush for popular events. It was perfect for us because our 3-year old son was having his first major holiday. There are beaches galore on Scilly, and not the typical British "cold mud" number. The beaches are sandy, with dazzlingly clear water, and are a complete haven for children. They don't get too crowded, they're generally pretty clean and there's a friendly, tolerant atmosphere. One word of caution - the sun is absolutely piercing, because of the clarity of the atmosphere. We burned really
quickly. It was more like a visit to a mediterranean island - a world away from England, and even Cornwall. Finally, seek out Julia's kitchen on St Mary's as a great place to eat with beautiful harbour views.
I've had loads of credit cards over the years, and this one stands out from the rest. First up, an uncomplicated 1% moneyback on your spend is a nice straightforward inducement. No nasty vouchers or money off your next pair of glasses. It's far nicer just to receive an annual bonus of £xxx, depending on how much you spend. Second, this is the only credit card I have used which has drawn gasps of admiration from retailers. On several occasions, I've watched shop assistants cluster round the little blue ob ject to admire it. Weird. Finally, the Amex customer service is top drawer. To give you an example: I was in a dispute with a supermarket who claimed they had made a refund to my card which had not appeared on the statement. The supermarket blamed Amex for this. Amex scoffed at this (nicely), credited the money to my card anyway and then explained exactly how I could shaft the supermarket for being sloppy and dishonest. I did this, and received a further 300% of my original refund after the supermarket admitted their error (I had to write to the CEO, if you can believe that). The statements are nicely detailed - what more can you ask for?
Is it me or is Sainsburys getting steadily worse? For starters, it's poor value for money generally. All its special offers seem to be along the lines of chucking out obviously unwanted or overbought stock before the corners start to curl. My two local stores are very badly designed, cramped and looking tired and scruffy. The staff park their trolleys all over the aisles to exacerbate the general overcrowding - and they seem permanently glum. I get the impression that this is not a good place to work. And most of the staff's endeavours seem to be concentrated on and endless game of pointlessly rearranging the stock, so that just when you've got the hang of where things are - you haven't any more. The shelves are often depleted, and some items seem to take days and even weeks to be restocked. If it wasn't the only local supermarket, it would not be doing good business. As it is, it's an uninspiring, pressurised place that looks like it's slowly being run down.
I was very glad to scoop up £20 worth of winnings with my first bet. Less glad to discover that the range of betting is actually quite limited. For football and cricket there are quite a range of betting opportunities, but beyond this it is quite limited. As this is a web-site for Coral's bookmakers, I would hazard a guess that they have tried to replicate the betting shop experience as closely as possible, ignoring the newer developments in on-line betting, and leaving you with the usual run-down of horses, dogs and football. Odds offered are reasonable enough, and no tax is payable at the moment. Otherwise, it is easy to navigate and use, and as I've already had a win, I'll say it's my favourite site at the moment.
For thirty years I have recoiled in horror at the mere sight of this newspaper, until recently I was encouraged to read it as part of a course I am doing. Well, the distinctive colour makes a nice change. And if you brace yourself for the lack of celebrity revelations, celebrity gossip and celebrity columns, you may be in a good position to learn something from a newspaper for a change. And red braces aren't compulsory in order to get something out of it. No gimmicks, free supplements, advertising features, or any of the other battery of modern circulation-war accoutrements, this is a refreshingly straightforward publication. Of course, it is oriented around commercial and business interests, but this has interesting consequences. There is a truly international perspective, because of the globalisation of capitalism. This means that rather than the scant "news" coverage in the other dailys, which is generally shock/horror related, there is steady coverage of more routine facets of the international scene. The perspective on general news stories, both political and social, has a unique slant, and I think a slightly more considered and mature one. The writing seems less politically motivated, or confinmed within an editorial whip. Overall, I think this has value as a more relaxed and grown-up medium, at a distance from the frenetic babble of a lot of modern journalism. I recommend giving it a try.
This conundrum will generate many column inches and dominate bar-room debates for months to come, while the FA stretch out the business and the tricky task of making the next wrong move in their pitiful management of the national managership. Appointing Keegan was a very short-term, high-risk policy. Precedent suggested he was prone to walk out at a moment's notice when things stopped going his way. It is time for the FA to think of the future of the national side in terms of five and ten year timescales, and build a structure that can withstand the whims of an individual. For me, that means trying to involve some of the leading contenders in a line of succession. Peter Taylor will be the next great England manager, but not for three or four years. If he can work alongside, or understudy, a national manager of the calibre of Venables or Robson, then there is great hope for the future. In any eventuality, it will be a refreshing change to see the FA take demonstrate some leadership, rather than delaying a decision while they take their time about deciding which way the wind is blowing, and who does or doesn't want the job.
Amidst a volume of remaindered, end-of-line and imperfect clothes, genuine bargains can be found. Although clothing, including children's clothing, is their main line, they also sell a haphazard selection of housewares and toys. The clothing is what most people are after, however, and the principle is a familiar one: heavily discounted items, including a fair range of labels like Calvin Klein, Adidas, Daniel Hechter and Tommy, left over from a brief skirmish on the front line of fashion. There is of course, a lot of dross to wade through, but there is always the prospect of finding a real gem. I bought an excellent Rainman jacket for £30, down from £90, but finding something really special is fairly rare in my experience. If you're just looking for fairly average clothing, then there is a huge range to choose from, all racked up and ordered in size. It's a warehouse experience, so you can hunt down what you want at your leisure, although staff assistance is limited - it's not that kind of place. And yes, the prices are very competitive, but you will also find heavily discounted goods in shops like The Gap, of generally better quality, which tend to be just a few weeks out of season. Worth a visit, although it usually tends to be a long one. It's not the kind of place you can pop in and out of.
And what marvellous dogs, as you will well know if you have ever met one. They are commonly mistaken for "baby greyhounds", although the breed is closer to the whippet, and has been well-established in this country since at least Renaissance times. A classic toy and lap dog, the IG has a wonderful nature: lively, comical and full of fun. They require a great deal of attention, in fact more attention than you could ever imagine giving. It is not a good idea to leave one of these animals on its own for long periods, as they have been bred for companionship, and this is exactly what they expect. They don't require heaps of exercise, although just watch them go if you take them out for a run. Brilliant with children, and an instant focus of public interest. Don't take one for a walk and expect anonymity - expect to be asked, "is that a baby greyhound?"
I've used the site on several occasions to purchase clothes for my son, and this would be the only reason I would go back. The site also offers male and female fashions and footwear, and although la Redoute's range is certainly different, I didn't find it particularly inspiring. I found they had a good range of practical and reasonably priced clothing for children, and it is about the only site I have found which does. Site layout, navigation and ordering are all of a standard you would expect, however be prepared for a wait for some items. One pair of shoes took a week and a half to be delivered, and I am still waiting for another three weeks later. I think all items are shipped from France, but even this doesn't explain those kind of waiting times. They have a free returns policy, answer their customer service email promptly, and generally inspire confidence in their set-up. Worth a look, particularly if you have younger children.
I grew up in and around Worcester, and found it offered very little to me as a youngster. As quickly as I could, I migrated to London, and really noticed the contrast between a real city and what Worcester effectively is, a very large town. As a city, Worcester seemed to lack excitement and enlightenment, and I was very glad to get away. However, now I really feel quite attached to the place, and generally love to go back. The city is really quite pleasant in a lot of areas, my favourites being the Cathedral (on back of £10 note), river and cricket ground. Despite a lot of development, the countryside is still close enough, and the influence of rural life still significant. The people do have a singular quality, a good sense of humour, slightly twisted and universally deprecatory, but a healthy cynicism on the whole. It seems to have become a boom town in recent years, with a lot of new business and housing. Fifteen years ago, there was a lot of evidence of depression, lack of investment, and all around the slowly degrading relics of past times. It does have a great history, and the development doesn't seem to have obliterated this, there's still a quirky charm. Transport links are poor, unfortunately, but then Worcester doesn't inspire you to go anywhere in a hurry.
Trinidad and Tobago is a fantastic mixture of cultures, experiences and people. Trinidad is not the traditional Caribbean package destination, and is much the better for it. It is far easier to meet "real" people, make friends and experience the life of what was once an oil-rich society, more recently riven by social upheaval and the devastating effects of drugs. Being the closest Caribbean island to Venezuela, Trinidad is concerned about cocaine and particularly crack, and this was voiced to us by a lot of people we met. I went with two friends, one white, one black, and this provoked a lot of interest amongst people. Although Trinidad is very ethnically diverse, the sight of two white and one black Englishmen (or American, as we were often assumed to be) always caused people to ask us questions, which often revealed interesting things about their own perceptions of British society. We spent most of our time in Port of Spain, and if you go there, be prepared for some serious hustling. It is vital to be ruthless with street hustlers, taxi drivers, and anyone else who sees you as a tourist commodity, or you are in for some serious grief. But we met so many nice people, so easily. People who were prepared to go seriously out of their way to find us somewhere to stay, or something interesting to experience. Travelling South to San Fernando was a real experience. We stayed a day with a family known through a friend of a friend, and received the most amazing hospitality. As for Tobago, well it is a package resort, and the pace is completely different to Trinidad. It has some A1 beaches, however, that cannot be denied, and also hosts the weekly Sunday School all-nighter, which is not to be missed. An ideal and relaxing beach-type holiday place, but you need to be ready to tolerate American and European package holidayers. Go to T&T for music (soca, calypso) and more music, people, rum and beaches, be prepared to put u
p with hustle and more hustle and the need to be a little bit streetwise when it comes to personal security.
It's so hard to make any real sense of this issue, and virtually every major Olympic discipline seems to be riven with disagreement and controversy. It would be easier to understand this if there were a bunch of drugs you could buy that simply enable you to go faster, lift more, jump further, etc. and had no other purpose. But so many of the dodgy substances are themselves ambiguous in terms of their multiple functions (e.g. cold treatment of performance enhancer), and even then it is impossible to have an absolutely definitive answer to what effects a particular substance will have on a particular person. Ironically, the only way to be really fair is to say "anyone can take whatever they like". If all weightlifters are abusing steroids then nobody has a particular advantage. I'm not advocating this idea, but just using it to illustrate what a mixed-up argument this is, and how perceptions of fairness and medical treatments are quite seriously compromised most of the time. Imagine this: I find that a special preparation of parsely allows me to increase my muscle bulk by 50% due to some bizarre metabolic reaction - does this make me a cheat?
Perennial under-achievers, carriers of the torch for the beautiful game, this has been my club for 25 years. A quarter of a century of mixed fortunes, from the sublime Stanley Bowles and Tony Currie, the destructive power of Les Ferdinand and the modern-day skills of Richard Langley, to the countless heartaches, including losing the Milk Cup final to Oxford, relegation after a long and illustrious spell in the First/Premier and the Tragedy of 1976. Perhaps QPR have always been too nice. They're not and never have been an attritional, win-at-all-costs club, and maybe a degree of that approach might have offset some of the less distinguished performances and campaigns of recent years. The ground is nice, the atmosphere excellent when it is full, the whole approach to the game and the experience is a good one. Traditionally a club for neutrals to visit and then eulogise over, the Rs are quietly waiting for the good times to return. Gerry Francis did it once before as manager, and, though he is often criticised, has the confidence of the majority of Rangers fans.
I've been using this site for about a month and have found it generally pretty reliable. I'm looking for a re-mortgage in about three months time whne my capped rate with Abbey National comes to an end. I'm looking to raise some more capital for home improvements, and also may have some other capital coming in in the next twelve months. E-loan allows you to search a range of different products by category. It's easy to compare flexible mortgages against fixed rates, etc., and has alreayd given me a fairly clear idea about the kind of deals that exist. The real joy of this site is that I can keep the market monitored as the time approaches to re-mortgage, and apply through the site to a new lender. Generally, I've found it easy to use, requiring me to submit fairly basic information and providing search results quickly. I recommend you give it a whirl if you're looking for any kind of mortgage, first-time or otherwise.