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herbie__53

herbie__53
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Member since: 10.01.2009

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    • Sweetcorn / Plant / 28 Readings / 25 Ratings
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      06.05.2009 10:47
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      Give it a try, you'll never look back!

      Sweetcorn is a very easy vegetable to grow. You can start sowing indoors on a windowsill from mid march, and outdoors from May.

      To sew indoors, I recommend using peat pots which you can transplant straight into the garden as this way you do not cause root disturbance. I would recommend planting one seed per large peat pot as the roots can get very widespread very quickly and need the space to grow. Place the pots on a sunny windowsill and in a few days you will start to see the seedlings. In May you can transplant them outside to the garden, either into the ground or into a deep pot or tub.

      To sew outdoors, plant two seeds per station as you will need to pull out the weaker one and let the stronger one develop on. Plant in a sunny site, but try to avoid areas with strong wind and the seedlings will get shredded!

      The packets of seed say to leave 30cm or more between plants, but I have planted them in a grid of 15cm gaps with no problems. Try not to plant them in a single row, plant them in a grid if you can as this aids with pollination.

      Make sure you give the plants plenty of water as sweetcorn are thirsty! You do not need to add support to the plants as they have a strong enough stem to support themselves. They grow very quickly and get to over a metre tall. You will see that they will start to grow the cobs at the junctions between the stem and the leaves, and at the very top of the plant will be the arms that have the pollen on them.

      To aid pollination, you can break off these arms and rub them over the fine hairs that will appear at the end of the cobs. The idea of planting in a grid is that when the wind shakes the pollen off the arms at the top and floats down, it has more chance of falling on a cob than if they were planted in a row.

      When the hairs at the end of the cob turn brown and shrivelled the cob will be ready to eat. However it is also a good idea to pull away some of the casing of the cob just to check that it is ready, as I have pulled off a cob thinking it was ready but there was just the core of the cob and no corn!!

      Once all the corn has been picked, you can let the plant die off. I had a hard time pulling mine out of the ground last year as the root system is very strong and the stalks of the plant are tough! I think perhaps it is better to wait for the plant to dry up and die completely before attempting removal....!

      Overall I find this is one of the easiest plants to grow, and you get delicious fresh cobs that a not a patch on the days-old stuff you get from the supermarket.

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      • O2 / Telecommunications Service / 19 Readings / 17 Ratings
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        02.05.2009 08:40
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        Very happy with them.

        I have my pay monthly contract with O2, which I am a few months into.

        I chose O2 becuase they had the best deal on the phone I wanted - 100 minutes and unlimited texts for £15 a month. I also went through Mobiles.co.uk and got a further 11 months half price line rental.

        I have phoned O2 a few times since getting the phone, but they have been helpful every time. As the contract is in my husbands name, he phoned them to see if I could call them about the contract without having him there, and they said that was fine and all I had to do was set up a password, which was done quickly and easily over the phone.

        I transferred my number from another network which O2 handled very well, we phoned them up with the PAC code from my old network and O2 processed the transfer and even sent me a text to tell me the date the number would transfer. They told me that in order to activate the transfer on that day, I needed to make a chargeable call. Now, in their defence, I did forget to do this, and was quite stressed to find that I couldn't send text messages after the transfer!! I could receive them, but not send. Once it dawned on me that they had told me to make a call, I did this and then everything was fine. I feel though that O2 could have told me I wouldn't be able to send them until I'd activated the transfer, but I guess it was my fault for forgetting!

        I find the signal to be great everywhere, I was previously with Vodafone and used to have to go upstairs to make a call because there was no signal downstairs! No problems with O2 though.

        My main gripe with O2 is that they don't do delivery reports, which I didn't realise when I took out the contract. I am used to not having them now, but I wish I had of known this before. If you are desperate for a report you can type in *0# at the start of your message (the recipient won't see this) and you will get a report through, but this is such as hassle to do every message so I've only done it a few times for the important texts. But the delivery report does come through as promised.

        Overall I am very satisfied with O2, their customer service team are friendly and helpful and I haven't had any problems.

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        • musicmagpie.co.uk / Internet Site / 7 Readings / 7 Ratings
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          02.05.2009 08:30
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          A site I will likely use again.

          I used Music Magpie for the first time I few weeks ago, as I had several cd's that I had tried to sell on eBay but I just couldn't shift them!! I had heard of Music Magpie so thought I'd give them a look and see what they were all about.

          The website is easy to use, when you first land on the homepage you will see where you need to enter details of your item in order to get a price. You have to enter the numbers from the barcode on the item into the box that's on the screen. Careful here though - you have to enter ALL the numbers, even if they are a little bit seperate from the main group of numbers. This can be a bit frustrating as sometimes it will say "Cannot find item" as you've missed a number off. I got there in the end with all my cd's though, as once you've done a few you can guess which numbers they want.

          As you enter an item in, it will come up with the price that they will pay you for it. I only put cd's in, but the lowest I had was 30p and the most was £3 for a 3 disc Elton John cd. Most of my cd's were quite old so a lot of them came up at 30p - a bit disappointing but 30p is better than nothing and having them continue to clog up my cd rack!

          If you are selling old cd's watch out for the quality of the cases - Music Magpie will deduct 50p off your cheque for each broken case or cd without it's artwork/leaflet.

          Once you have entered your items in, they will show you the total that they will pay you for all your items. If there is some items where you are not happy with the price you can simply remove this item from the list, one at a time. Once you are happy with the list, click "Complete Trade" and you will then have to enter your address details.

          Music Magpie will then send you an A4 sheet of freepost stickers, that have a barcode on which is specific to your order. You have to parcel up your items (in as few parcels as possible), pop in the picking list they will send you (marking any items you are not sending) and fix one of the freepost stickers to it. Take it to your local Post Office and get a proof of posting.

          Music Magpie's website says it guarantees to process your order within seven days of receipt. Be patient - you sent it to them via a freepost service which takes longer than standard mail! You just have to sit back and wait for your cheque to arrive now.

          From submitting my claim on the website to receiving my cheque, the whole process took about two and a half weeks. I found the service to be a very useful one, especially for those cd's that you can't even get rid of on eBay! The website was easy to use, and if I ever have another batch of cd's to sell I'll use this website again.

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          • Pathology (DVD) / DVD / 24 Readings / 23 Ratings
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            28.04.2009 08:28
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            It was ok. 7/10

            Pathology is a 2008 film directed by Marc Schoelermann and starring Milo Ventimiglia and Michael Weston in the main roles.

            Plot summary is as follows:
            Well-to-do pathology student who is top of his class moves away from his fiancee for a few months to study at a hospital. He soon becomes involved with a group of the other pathologists at the hospital who have a more edgy lifestyle - drink, sex and drugs. He despises them and tries to avoid them but soon becomes involved in their "game" - they take it in turns to kill someone and the others have to figure out how they died. As is predictable, it soon all gets out of hand.

            I won't say any more because that will spoil it for anyone who is wanting to watch it!

            What I will say however though is that this film is NOT for the faint hearted. There is gore and blood right from the outset - and cracking of ribcages and lots of blood. To start with it did make me feel a bit queasy and I considered turning it off - but it got better and I think all of the gore is at the start of the film. As we move into the film the focus moves off gore and onto sex!

            Overall I thought this film had a good story to it, and the acting was good too. I did however find the horny girls a bit annoying, especially with each other. There was one scene I remember cringing at - they were all standing round the latest offering for the game, and one girl said to the other, out of the blue, "You are so hot right now", I remember thinking - "What??" - she is so hot becuase she is standing by a table?? Come on!! I think that bit was more for the randy males watching!!

            Not to sound boring, but I feel as if the main story was overshadowed a bit by the sex and gore!!

            If its on telly and there's nothing else on, or if you can borrow it off a friend, give it a try. Just don't pay too much for the dvd as you may be disappointed.

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            28.04.2009 08:14
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            A good buy.

            I bought this dvd as part of the Davina box set, containing this and "Power Of Three".

            For me, fitness dvd's have the edge over going to the gym or a class becuase they are so much cheaper (once you have bought this dvd that's all you have to shell out for), you can do them in the comfort of your own home in your grotty jogging bottoms and sweatband, and at any time you choose!

            "My Three 30 minute workouts" features Davina and her two personal trainers, Jackie and Mark Wren. There is some friendly chatter between them all during the dvd, but there is an option to have "Mostly Music" which turns Davina off so you can just have the music! Make sure you know the routines well before doing this though.....

            This dvd, as the title suggests, has three 30 minute workouts. They are as follows:

            Pump: This is quite a high intensity routine, with weights and lots of squats! I use tins of baked beans for the weights here, but you can go without the weights if you choose (although you wont be working as hard!) Every so often there are intensive intervals - don't worry this isn't as scary as it sounds - it's just a minute or so of running on the spot or star jumps to keep your heart rate up.

            Cardio Box: As the name implies, this is a mix of cardio work and boxing. This is slighly less intense as it focuses more on the arms, but you will feel it the day after!! Again this one has the intervals of fat burning to keep your heart rate up and the pounds melting away.

            Core Stability: I was lulled into a false sense of security here, thinking that it was going to be easy. It's NOT! It involves stretches and positions to help with your poise, posture and balance, but for a first timer with weak muscles they really are a challenge! It also focuses on breathing correctly during the stretches, which is really hard to do when you think your arms are going to give way underneath you!!

            I think as these routines are only 30 minutes long it makes it easier and more appealing to say, fit in before work or in the evening. 30 minutes sounds so much better than an hour when you have a busy life!

            There are several extras on the dvd also, which are:

            Davina's Ten Quick and Easy Meals
            Outtakes
            Big Brother: Behind The Scenes
            Big Brother: That Bikini Moment

            Now personally, I hate Big Brother with a passion and have no idea why they thought it was a good idea to put extras relating to it on this fitness dvd. The quick and easy meals are handy for ideas, and the outtakes are funny, but it would have been nice to have more fitness related extras rather than stuff on Big Brother.

            My only other gripe is that during the dvd, they dont give you advance warning of say, changing legs or countdown how many more reps to go. You are taken by surprise when they just "move on"!! But I'm sure this will become less of an issue once I have used it a lot more times.

            Overall though I think this is a great dvd to help get you fit, the exercises are not boring and repetitive like some dvd's I have tried and you can feel they are working your body hard!!

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          • Tomatoes / Plant / 24 Readings / 22 Ratings
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            23.04.2009 21:18
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            Give it a try, its suprisingly addictive

            One summers day last year I suddenly had an urge - an urge to grow some vegetables. So I took a trip to our local garden centre and explained to the sales assistant that I'd had this urge, and that I didn't have the foggiest what I wanted to grow or how I should go about doing so!

            She suggested tomatoes as a good starting point - very beginner friendly. So I bought my packet of seeds (about £1.50 for an insane amount of seeds!), Gardener's Delight if anyone is interested, a bag of seed compost and a windowsill propagator.

            Tomato seeds are small and fiddly, but not as small as some! I was told to fill the cells of the propagator with compost, and plant double the number of seeds than the amount of plants that I wanted. This would be so that I could pick the strongest one out of every two seeds to grow on. Not knowing how many tomatoes I would get off a plant, I went for a round 30. (I later found out that this was WAY too many plants!!)

            I watered the seeds as instructed, and sure enough within a few days the little seedlings began to poke through the soil. Excited that I had even got something to germinate, I took care of them well, moving them into patches of sun and keeping them watered.

            When the plants are a few inches high and big enough to handle, they need to be potted on into slightly bigger pots (to give them space to grow) which I did carefully, holding the plant by the stalk.

            Again when they were around 6 inches high and really starting to produce lots of leaves, they can go into their final pots. I grew some plants in growbags and some in pots, and found the deep pots to be better because you will need to stake the plants to provide support and the growbags do not provide enough depth to support either the plant or the stake, and the plants kept falling over.

            As they are growing, be sure to pinch out any "side shoots" that appear between the join of the main stalk and branches. This will ensure you get a single stalked plant - I missed one on one of my plants last year and ended up with a double-stalked plant which was really awkward to get to stand up!

            Gradually accustom the plants to outdoors weather by putting them outside in the sunshine during the day but bringing them in at night when the temperature drops. When the weather really warms up (mid-may time) you can leave them out there permanently.

            They will do fine on just water until you see the plant start making the "trusses" which will go on to grow the tomatoes. Then you can start using tomato food (which is also good for other veg) as per the instructions on the bottle. Make sure you keep them well watered, do not let them dry out.

            Soon you will see the tomatoes start to grow, and they will be green. Dont panic - they will go red! Some I had took ages to go red, but they will! Usually one will turn, and then this one will turn the one next to it and the one next to that... and so on.

            Once they are red you can pick them and use them in salads, sandwiches, pasta, anything you like! They taste so much better home grown and straight off the vine.

            I learned from experience that 30 plants was way too much and had to give most of them away - I whittled it down to six plants in the end and even that was still too much. This year I have four - two large tomato and two cherry tomato.

            I recommend growing tomatoes to anyone - if I can do then anyone can! You learn fast from experience, this year I already have way more veg growing knowledge than last year, and am growing a lot more than tomatoes now! Its addictive!!

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              23.04.2009 16:30
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              A healthier treat than some ice creams

              Solero is an ice cream lolly made by Walls. They do various flavours, but this review is for the Exotic flavour.

              The ice cream is oval in shape, and comes on a stick. The outside of the lolly is fruity flavoured ice, the inside is creamy ice cream with a swirl of the outer coating in the middle.

              The ice on the outside tastes very tropical, like a mix of mango and pineapple flavours, and it is the orange colour of mango flesh. The ice cream inside is white in colour, vanilla flavoured and very smooth and creamy. It's so yummy, it's hard to believe that this entire lolly only has 99 calories in it!

              The ice melts rather quickly (and if you take too long it will slide off the lolly and onto your hand) so you can't eat it slowly! Personally I like to bite off all the ice and just be left with a big lump of the ice cream, mmm!! The way it melts in your mouth is just dreamy, in fact it does taste a bit like Dream Topping!

              As I mentioned earlier this whole lolly only has 99 calories, 17g of sugar and 2.5g of fat. This makes it one of the healthier choices when it comes to the ice cream van! I'd say the ice cream inside this lolly is very similar to that of a Mr Whippy - it has the same smooth texture and rich taste, but with the added bonus of the fruity swirl in the middle.

              You can buy Solero's singly in paper shops, Co-ops etc for around £1 each, or you can buy packs of three lollies from the supermarkets for under £2. If you are lucky you will get them at two boxes for £3, a lot of supermarkets seem to do this offer once the weather warms up!

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              • tesco.com / Online Shop / 26 Readings / 26 Ratings
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                22.04.2009 21:14
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                A great shopping experience, I'm converted!!

                Every Wednesday evening after work I make my reluctant pilgrimage to our local Tesco. Why is it reluctant? Becuase I hit the rush hour traffic, always get stuck behind slow drivers, and by the time I walk in to the store it seems every person from the local area is in there at the same time as me - just to get in my way and slow me down.

                I had never really entertained the idea of grocery shopping online - the delivery charge was what put me off. Why pay delivery for something that I could go and get myself? But for some reason, last week something inside me wanted to give it a try.

                You go on to the Tesco's website, and select "Groceries". You will then be prompted to register for the service before you can go any further.

                Once you are into the main grocery site, your first step is to choose your delivery slot. They will show you a table with all the two hour slots available, and the cost of delivering at that time. Fridays and weekends seem to be more expensive, at around £4 - £5, but Tuesday and Wednesday evenings were the cheapest at £3.50. I chose the Wednesday, between 5pm - 7pm, for £3.50.

                Next you need to add things to the basket. If you registered your clubcard with them online, you can click on "My Favourites" and it will list the items you commonly buy (it knows!!) so your first shop need not take you ages! You can just go through the favourites list and click "Add" to any items you want to include on this shop.

                You can type in the item you are looking for eg "baked beans" and it will come up with all matching items. They do not seem to appear in any particular order, like cheapest first, or all the same brands together; it would be useful if they had a filter here as when I typed in "olive oil" it came up with four pages of results, eek!

                You can choose different quantities and also add notes to the item - for example requesting at least two weeks date on something or the approximate price of a block of cheese. You can also make notes for substitutions of products - eg "do not substitute", "substitute for this item ___" or "choose a suitable alternative for me". If the driver brings you a substitution that you do not want, you simply hand it back to him and you will recieve a full refund.

                When you have finished adding items to your basket, you will see a "guide price" at the bottom. Confusingly, and annoyingly, this does not include any offers such as buy one get one free reductions or 3 for 2 adjustments. You'll have to make a mental note of how much you have saved in offers along the way and deduct this from the guide price if you're particular about a budget.

                You then enter your card details, but you are not charged until your shopping is actually delivered to allow for substitutions not wanted etc. Also now is the time to enter any promotional codes - if you hunt around on the net you can find codes for double clubcard points, free delivery and money off, so its well worth a look.

                The driver will bring your shopping in carrier bags, or if you want to earn your green clubcard points, he will bring them in crates which you have to unload when they deliver. Of course if you are elderly or cannot unload the crates they will do this for you if you ask. To make it easy for you, any substituted items are packaged in blue carrier bags so you don't have to rummage around for them!

                The driver will provide you with an A4 sized receipt stating all your items bought, clubcard points earned and total cost. I checked my receipt against my items and all were present and correct, none were damaged. You will have to sign for your delivery too.

                Overall I was very pleased with the service, the delivery guy was very friendly and cheerful and arrived right at the start of my two hour slot. For the £3.50 delivery it was so worth not having to spend an hour of my evening in the supermarket aisles, and fighting the traffic. I will definitely be doing this again in future!!

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                • amazon.co.uk / Online Shop / 26 Readings / 26 Ratings
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                  22.04.2009 14:43
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                  Well worth a look.

                  Amazon.com is a shopping website that sells just about anything. Books, CD's, DVD's, clothes, shoes, electronics.... You name it they sell it!
                  It is a very well know website and has been floating around online for years. It has a very large customer base (including me!) and has a good reputation as an online retailer.

                  When you first land on the homepage, you are invited to search for the item you require in the search bar at the top. You can either choose to search the whole site for your item, or you can search by category eg books, electronics etc. When you click search, Amazon will show you all the matching results, which you can click on to view further details.

                  Amazon also have a "Marketplace", where other traders can sell their new and secondhand items. Although Amazon do free delivery on any items they themselves supply (for orders over a certain amount), if you buy from another trader that is on Amazon they can specify their own postage costs and these can be quite high (£4.75 delivery for a memory card springs to mind!). Sometimes I actually find these unreasonable and there is often a better deal to be had at another online site somewhere. For example you can pick up books for a penny, but then you get hit with the £2.75 delivery charge and for a thin paperback the deal suddenly doesn't look so good. So when buying from Amazon I tend to stick with their own items and get the free delivery.

                  Talking of delivery, certain orders over £5 qualify for free Super Saver Delivery (the item's page will tell you if that item qualifies for it), which although takes 3-5 working days, is free, and that's always a bonus! Even if your items qualify for this free delivery, if you want them sooner you can choose either first class delivery or next day delivery at the checkout screen, but obviously you have to pay more for these.

                  You are also given the option to sign up for a free 1 month trial of Amazon Prime, which is a subscription you can take out which, for a fee, gives you unlimited next-day shipping on any orders you place with Amazon. I signed up for this trial last week, and have since had two packages delivered quick sharp. After the free trial, a year's membership costs £47.97, so you have to work out whether you will order enough items from Amazon in the next year to make it worth the cost. If not, grab the free trial and get one month free (just remember to cancel the trial so you don't get charged!).

                  I have bought a variety of items off Amazon, from an expensive mp3 player to a pocket Japanese phrasebook, and never once had a problem with them. All my items have arrived when they should, and have been very well packaged.

                  Amazon is also a secure shop, you create an account to save your address and card details - but your first purchase must be delivered to the card's registered address, and if you request a delivery to an address you have not used before, you must re-enter your card details for security.

                  Another bonus point is that you can spend your hard earned Dooyoo miles here!!

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                  22.04.2009 14:42
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                  A great snack.

                  Go ahead tropical fruits yoghurt breaks are made by McVities and a great alternative to biscuits, and are ideal in a lunch box for school or work, or as a snack when you are feeling peckish! Go Ahead is a healthy eating range from McVities, the products are designed to be better for you than the conventional alternatives (in this case biscuits, but they also do cakes and chocolate bars).

                  They come in individually wrapped packs of two slices, with five packets to a box. Each slice is about 10cm x 4cm large, and about half a centimetre thick. They are a biscuity base with fruits in it topped with yoghurt. The fruity filling consists of sultanas, currants, mango paste and fruit concentrate of pineapple and peach. The sultanas and currants are what bulk out the fruity filling - the tropical fruits are merely hinted at with the pastes and concentrates but you can still taste them!

                  Each bar has 78 calories in it, with 2g of fat and 0.1g of salt. Per 100g of the product there are 11g of fat, 6g of which is saturated, so they are not ultra-low in fat (for a low fat diet, products with less than 3g of fat per 100g are recommended), but they are still a better alternative than a biscuit!!

                  The biscuit base is light and crumbly, and although there is not much fruit you can certainly taste it. The yoghurt topping (I think vanilla flavour?) finishes them off nicely, I feel that if it didn't have this topping the slices would be rather dry and bland. I think that maybe if they made them into triple packs rather than twin packs then they may make a bit more of a filling snack, but that's probably just me being greedy!

                  They do have a lovely tropical taste, and are more interesting than a plain slice of ryvita!

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                  • Yotel Hotel / Hotel National / 14 Readings / 13 Ratings
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                    21.04.2009 21:07
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                    A brilliant concept.

                    I first discovered the Yotel hotels when I was due to fly to Egypt from Gatwick at some insane time in the morning, and didn't fancy getting up at 3am to leave my house in time to get to the airport for check in. So I decided to look at the hotels in the vicintiy of the airport, but got dismayed when I saw the prices and then the fact that the "convenient" shuttle bus doesn't run early enough for us....

                    Then I came across Yotel. They are located in, yes IN Gatwick airport, just off the departure lounge. You don't even have to leave the airport. So you can wake up, shower, and walk the 100m or so to the departure area. What could be better?

                    The Yotel is loosely based on the Japanese capsule hotels, and as well as Gatwick there is one in Heathrow and also overseas at Amsterdam. The rooms you get are very small, but they have everything you need including bed with fresh crisp linen, a TV, luggage space, a shower and toilet.

                    Bookings are for a minimum of four hours, up to however long you need. If you book until say 4am in the morning but your flight is then delayed for four hours, you are able to extend your booking on site.

                    There is a choice of three different types of rooms:

                    Twin (2 large singles bunk-bed style)
                    Standard (Large single bed)
                    Premium (Double bed)

                    The prices do vary between the room types, with the premium being the more expensive. Me and my husband went for the Standard (As that was all they had) and we shared the bed comfortably. One thing I will mention though is that in our Standard Room the shower and toilet is seperated by a glass wall.... with no curtain! I presume that as it has a large single bed they only expect one person to use it, but be warned!!

                    There is a TV in the room which you can set an alarm on so that you don't miss check in, we set this and it worked fine. I may suggest to bring some earplugs though, as it can get quite noisy with other guests arriving and leaving all throughout the night!

                    When you arrive at the Yotel you check in at a machine that scans the debit card you used to book online with, and once it has verified a few details it gives your your room number and electronic key. The corridors are a very space age fluroescent purple (check out their web page for the pics) and very modern, the room numbers are clearly signposted.

                    Yotel have a website where you can take virtual tours of the cabins, read FAQ's and most importantly book a cabin. Its www.Yotel.com.

                    Booking on this site is very easy and straight forward, all you need to do is choose your Yotel, the dates and times and it will tell you what type of room is available. We stayed there for 8 hours in September 2008 and the cost was a very reasonable £52 - compared to the other hotels in the airport (the Hilton springs to mind!) this is cheap!!

                    Thoroughly recommended as an alternative to leaving your house at some unearthly hour of the morning to get there in time for check in, and also you dont have to worry about traffic jams!!

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                      21.04.2009 08:15
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                      The best cross stitching mag around.

                      Cross Stitcher is a monthly magazine published by Future Publishing. At the time of writing the current price is £3.75 and contains on average around 100 pages and 55 cross stitch designs.

                      It focuses on the hobby of - yep you guessed it - cross stitching! The magazine contains colourful and modern designs from various cross stitch designers. All charts in the magazine are "Cross Stitcher Quality Assured" which means that they have been checked for errors and make the most use out of accents such as fractional stitches, backstitch and french knots (compared to other magazines where the designs look "blocky" because of the use of whole stitches only or backstitch that exactly follows the grid lines).

                      I have read all the cross stitch magazines at some point or another, and must say I find that Cross Stitcher consistently comes up trumps. I think it is because of the quality of the charts in there - they are in full colour and easy to read and equal the quality of charts that come with full kits in the shops.

                      As well as the designs featured, there are also other regular sections such as:

                      Reader Letters
                      Questions and Answers on reader's stitching queries
                      Techniques
                      Competitions and Giveaways
                      Guide to basic cross stitching to get you started
                      Stockist list of where to buy everything featured in the designs
                      Subscription offers for those of you that would like more!

                      Cross Stitcher designs featured are not just traditional pictures, they feature towel borders, cards, cushions, stitching on clothes... the inspiration is endless!

                      The magazine comes with a free gift each month, this is usually in the form of a mini cross stitch kit. I remember the days in the 90's where the free designs were about two inches square at most, but the free kits have really come on a lot since then let me tell you! Recent free gifts I have seen are Margaret Sherry Kits (a lot bigger than two inches square!), Oriental kits and a thread organiser. All free gifts are of a very high quality and the kits come with everything needed - threads, fabric, needle, chart and mount! Sometimes you dont get the mount in the kit but can print them off the website, I feel this is a disadvantage to the people that dont have the internet (perhaps the older stitchers) or people that don't have a high quality or colour printer.

                      But overall I'd say this magazine is brilliant for any cross stitcher - old or young as the designs cover such a varied range of styles you are bound to find something you like!

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                    • Feast of Love (DVD) / DVD / 18 Readings / 18 Ratings
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                      20.04.2009 21:25
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                      You really must see this - its fantastic.

                      Feast Of Love is a 2007 starring Morgan Freeman, Greg Kinnear, Selma Blair, Billy Burke and Toby Hemmingway.

                      What originally drew me to this film was the fact that Morgan Freeman was in it - I think every single one of his films are brilliant as he is such an amazing actor. I had seen the trailer for this and it looked pretty good, so I decided to give it a try.

                      I feel that the best way to describe this film is a more emotionally intense version of Love Actually - in the sense that it follows the characters who are all intertwined and experience their own version of love. I say it is more intense becuase where Love Actually is a very heartwarming film, it is also more of a feel-good film, whereas this movie deals with more edgy issues such as violent parents and lesbian love.

                      Some of the stories followed are Harry (Freeman) and Esther Stevenson, an old married couple who are mourning the loss of their only son to drug abuse, Bradley (Kinnear) whose wife leaves him for another woman right under his nose and from then on his life goes from bad to worse, and Oscar and Chloe - a young couple whose love is doomed right from the start by a sombre prediction from a fortune teller.

                      This film had some very heart warming moments but I will warn you there are some serious tear jerking moments too! Fantastic performances from all characters make this a real hidden gem of a film - it's a real must see. I won't tell you any more of the plot as it will spoil it for those who choose to now watch it.

                      Feast Of Love deals with the all the different sides of love, and whether it is the sole reason for us being here, or, in the words of the film "a plot to get us to have more screaming babies"!

                      Running time 102 minutes.

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                      • More +
                        19.04.2009 14:47
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                        A great buy.

                        I have recently lost three stone, but despite running on my treadmill every morning I just couldnt seem to lose the last few pounds and get rid of the "love handles"!! So I thought it might be time to do some toning exercises to see if they did the trick.

                        I bought this dvd as I heard that Davina's dvd's are very good - I'm not really a fan of her but if the dvd made me look like she does on the front cover I'd be happy!

                        The whole workout is just over an hour long, and as the title suggests, there are three sections:

                        Legs & Bums
                        Upper Body
                        Abdominals

                        As well as these there is a warm up and a cool down section too.

                        The workout is performed by Davina and her two personal trainers - Jackie and Mark Wren. Often Jackie will drop the workout down a level so if your feeling a bit out of puff, you can follow what she is doing until you feel able to join in again.

                        If you do the whole dvd, you'll cover the following:

                        Warm Up - Starts off easy! Lots of stretches and gentle exercises to get your muscles warmed up and the heart rate raised.

                        Legs and Bums - Lots of squats!! And variations on squats too. This section is an absolute killer (it was for me anyway!). You do a minute of interval fat burning training, then a session of the toning exercises, to keep your heart rate up. The intervals are tough (even though one minute doesn't sound that long - it is) but you will be thankful for them to give your thigh muscles a rest!! The intervals consist of things like skipping, running on the spot or star jumps.

                        Upper Body - This one requires some weights (I used soup tins - still with soup in though not empty ones!) and a chair without arms. This section I found was a bit easier than the previous one - maybe my arms are in better shape than my legs! It focuses on different ways to lift weights to tone up the arms and upper body and banish those bingo wings!! You'll need the chair not to sit on but to put your arms back onto, and lower your bum towards the ground and up again. This I found was the toughest exercise on the dvd, very closely followed by the press ups which I could only do a couple of!! Again this is in the same format of interval training minutes followed by the weights for a bit.

                        Abdominals - If there is one place I desperately need to tone up its my stomach. There are plenty of exercises in this section to help with that! Lots of sit ups and different takes on sit ups, and exercises to help tone your waist and lower back. By this stage in the dvd the interval sessions are getting hard, you come to dread the minute of star jumps!!

                        Cool Down - This has got to be the best bit, you get to sit down for it! Lots of stretches to help tone your muscles after the ordeal you just put them through.

                        Overall I was very impressed with this dvd, and Davina is far from annoying! Its really encouraging to see that she is struggling with the exercises too, and counting down until the reps are over! You don't need a lot of room to do this - I did it in my small living room and it was fine.

                        Also on the dvd are some extras:

                        Davina on Clothes
                        Davina on food
                        More Davina
                        Davina's healthy eating plan

                        I watched these but didn't really gain any useful knowledge or tips from any of them, they are more for entertainment really!

                        Overall I think this is a great dvd and something I have managed to stick at. I used to pay out £5 a week to go to a fitness class at our local centre, but I paid £11 for this dvd which is more fun, and that I can do in the comfort of my own home whenever I want!

                        The only gripe I have is that unless you count as you go along, its hard to know how many more reps there are to go and they dont warn you when you are at the last one! So they are merrily changing leg/arm while you are none the wiser it was coming. But don't let that put you off - its a really good dvd.

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                        • More +
                          19.04.2009 14:26
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                          Perhaps give the book a go instead!

                          I had seen this book in the shops for quite a while before I watched the film - I didnt know what the story was about and just thought it was a strange title! Then when I read a synopsis of the film I understood what the "Striped Pyjamas" were all about.

                          The phrase refers to the uniform that the "boy" has to wear - for he is a Jew in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany.

                          The film follows an eight year old boy called Bruno that has to up sticks and move to a new house for his father (a Nazi Soldier) has received a promotion and must go to wherever his job calls for him. Along with Bruno and his father, his 12 year old sister and mother move also.
                          Whilst sitting in his room bored, Bruno looks out of the window and sees a "Farm", with workers on it. He manages to escape the confines of his house and get up to the barbed boundries of the camp, and it is here that he meets Schmaul on the other side of the fence - the boy in the striped pyjamas.

                          The film follows their forbidden friendship through the eyes of a naive child - Bruno never really grasps the purpose of the camp or the horrors that go on there. As it is told through the eyes of a child, we never really get the "impact" that a holocaust film should have - the only real true colours of the situation that are shown are right at the end, but even then the scene is more "implied" than shown before us.

                          I feel that Bruno's mother and father could have had more prominent parts - I think there was a lot of scope for a family disagreement as the father continues his brutal Nazi duties even after his wife learns the truth of what is really going on and is shocked and horrified.

                          The film is quite slow to get going, and it really doesn't have the gripping edge that Schindler's List had. I feel perhaps that a film of this emotional height should not have been left to child actors who have probably not even learned about the Holocaust in school yet.

                          Overall it was a watchable film - slow, but watchable. I think I perhaps would have prefered to read the book rather than the film, but the book is quite thin and I would have read it in one day!

                          The film is a 12 certificate and runs for approx 94 minutes.

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