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Throughout my time as a Dooyoo member I have resisted the urge to write an opinion on Dooyooo because I felt I was preaching to the converted and it seemed a little overdone. However with the advent of the new Dooyoo, the time has come that the urge has become so great that I can resist it no longer! I have not been writing opinions for a long time(September was my last one until yesterday), though I have been a member for almost a year. The reason was that it's a very time consuming business and I just haven't had any (time that is). However during these lean months I have visited Dooyoo often as it is still the place to find out what's worth having and what isn't. It's also help me locate sites I have been after on the internet. So, onto the new Dooyoo. Brilliant! I am very impressed that Dooyoo has listened to us and given us what we want. I am one who wrote to Dooyoo asking for a way of linking back to the comments I have written - I have often written a comment and forgotten where/who it was when I've wanted to look back to see if a reply has been written. This is very useful because if I leave a comment now I know that it is like putting the product in my favourites so that I can refer back to it at a later date. For example I wrote a comment about a book review and wanted to buy the book, by the time I came to buy it I couldn't remember what it was! However, the person who wrote the review did personally email me to give me some more information I was after, which is another example of the wonderful community that Dooyoo has created. I feel I have made friends through Dooyoo. When I didn't write any opinions for a while I received emails from people in my circle of friends asking me if everything was ok. Brilliant again! The quality of opinions on Dooyoo has certainly improved. There were times that I felt some people were just in it for the money and they would churn out any old trash just to get th
e points. The methods that Dooyoo have employed (such as premier ratings and, I hate to say it, less money) have instigated these improvements. As Dooyoo do take our comments seriously I feel this is my chance to say the other factors that could be improved. I preferred the old graphics but that is a minor point. I would like drop down boxes listing the sub-categories under the major headings (call me stupid but I didn't know what heading digital cameras came under last night!). The final suggestion which I think would be the most useful change, would be the opportunity to remove opinions I have written that are no longer relevant. For example, I loved Etoys and wrote a review of them but unfortunately they have ceased trading now, so an opinion on them is pretty pointless. I wrote about Big Brother the first time around but I would like that removed. Also there are websites that I've written about that also no longer exist.
It's a shame that our health service has come to the stage that we have to ask the question, 'NHS vs Private Health Care'. Our NHS used to be one of the best in the world but is rapidly in decline. If only we could turn the clocks back and with the advantage of hindsight not let it get to this stage. The NHS is in such a bad way (does anyone need me to tell them that?) that DR's and nurses are emigrating for higher paid jobs elsewhere and the vicious circle of having to pay higher salaries to agency nurses (further draining the health service) which is in desperate need of a serious cash injection. Don't get me wrong, I don't blame the nurses for taking agency jobs - they do a job that warrants much higher salaries than they currently get and have to work anti-social hours with loads of stress. I do have private health care (through my husbands job) and I have had cause to use it (albeit reluctantly). I had a swelling in my face which required me to see a consultant. I saw no need to go private, so went on the waiting list so that I would not be 'queue jumping'. However after waiting 6 months to see a consultant I was wrongly diagnosed and had to be referred back. I waited again when the same thing happened. After 2 years, and a different consultant I was finally taken seriously. It was then that it was decided that I needed scans etc and I was to be further put back on the waiting list. At this point I decided that enough was enough and I would go private - suppose the swelling was malignant and I had been living with it for 2 years? When going privately I saw the same consultant that I had seen on the first 2 occasions (he was supposed to be an expert in his field) but the wheels were put in motion at an extremely fast rate. The facilities necessary (MRI scans, CT etc) were only available in the NHS hospital so I was seen outside normal hours when these facilities were not in use. I had MRI and CT scans and an ang
iogram all within the space of about 10 days. I was also able to insist that I had an appointment with the consultant to discuss the findings. I was then told that I could revert back to NHS and the timescale would remain the same, 'in view of the length of time that has passed to date'. I decided to continue Private feeling that at least I was pumping some money back into the system and not using NHS beds. For the opreration I was put in a side room on urology (?!!)complete with tv and en suite. Actually it was quite lonely and I did have nurses coming in telling me they didn't agree with Private health care (made me feel great) and in fact I felt disadvantaged by the fact that I was off a ward where the nursing staff knew nothing about maxillo facial nursing. Many private hospitals do not have the facilties to deal with serious operations (my local one had no intensive care facilities, hence been operated on in a NHS hospital). I know someone who died from routine surgery that had complications and there was no intensive care facility and she subsequently died. I don't think there are any easy answers/solutions to the problem of the NHS vs Private Health Care, but I do know that competent health care should be a right to all and maybe if we can afford to pay we should so that there is less drain on the NHS. If I was faced with the same scenario again, I would get a consultation privately in the first inst so that I could get a quick diagnosis and am effectively 'on the list'. If it is then something that can afford to wait, I would revert to NHS so that I can take my turn like everyone else. I am not resolved to the full issues of Private, but patients with fatal/ serious health problems should be seen immediately whether private or NHS. I cannot condone many of the issues that have been in the media of people who have serious illnesses such as cancer who will probably die because the waiting lists are so long a
nd the other issue of waiting lists been shorter in certain parts of the country to others. It should NEVER come down to whether you live or die by wealth. It seems ludicrous to me that millions of pounds were found to fund the Dome when there is nothing as important as health. Something has to be done - I don't have all the answers but I'm not the one holding the purse strings.
I actually won the Sony DSC F505V which is just as well because £650 is quite a hefty price tag for a digital camera. That said I just love it. I have always been a conventional photographer saying that the quality of digital photography can't compete. This camera has made me change my mind! With 3.3 million pixels CCD (effective 2.6 @ 1856x1392 image size) is holds up to close scrutiny even with considerable enlargements. It is strange to look at but is very light when used to conventional cameras which are slightly larger but much heavier. There's very little it can't/doesn't do! In fact some of its capabilities will probably never be used by me but they are there for those who are so inclined. At the click of a button your images are converted to black and white, sepia, solarize or neg art (basically in negative). Having addressed the facilities which I probably won't use there are many features which I regularly use. I love the email facility, this takes a small-size (320x240) image at the same time as a still image. This is great if you like to send snaps by email but don't like to time it takes to send them. I have also printed them out as dinky, wallet-sized photos. The 10x digital zoom is also another boon, though mostly used on 5x (38 - 190 mm when converted to a 35mm still camera). As it is a Carl Zeiss lens, the optics are as good as you would anticipate. Focussing is automatic but there is a manual override. The lens also has buttons for macro, a spot meter and a white balance which can be set for outdoor (daylight), indoor (tungsten), or auto which will adjust the white balance automatically. The lens also holds the built in flash (though you can connect an external flash). Exposure can be overidden if you want a darker/lighter shot. The camera is very simple to use when you get the hang of it, with self-explanatory menu words/symbols shown on the LCD which you navigate around by clicking a button up,
right, left or down (to remove display from view). The only disadvantage with the LCD is that it is difficult to see in bright light. I didn't think I would use the movie facilty, especially as I thought it would be hungry for my 8mb memory stick, but I have had several still images on there and several short movies. It will automatically record 5 seconds but if you keep the shutter button depressed it will continue for up to 60 seconds complete with sound. Obviously it is not intended as a replacement for a camcorder. A feature that I particularly like is that after taking the image if you would prefer to crop or alter the composition it is easily done. Zoom in on the image you have taken and move the top, bottom, left and right until you have the desired image and then depress the shutter button again takes your newly composed photo! The camera comes complete with a very compact 8mb Sony memory stick. These are made in 4, 8, 16, 32 and 64 mbs but only by Sony. The obvious disadvantage here is the cost - Sony's are more expensive than the smartcards which are made by several suppliers (which in turn brings the price down). An 8 mb costs about £30 and a 64mb is about £130. It has a rechargeable battery which takes about 1 hour to fully re-charge. To sum up, I have discovered that digital photography is wonderfully simple but it doesn't make you a better photographer!
Jailbreak is a new Big Brother-style programme on... Channel 5 (yes, they really do make programmes). Hosted by Craig Charles, this, like Big brother, has 10 inmates (5 of each sex) who are locked away in a genuine prison. The aim is for them to escape and the first person who succeeds gains a £100,000 prize. They can work as a team and get £10,000 each but in the first episode (screened 12.09.2000) some inmates are afraid to share their know-how with others incase they use the info to go it alone. The SAS were asked to see if they could escape from the prison and they were apparently successful so modifications have been made. They are filmed 24/7 and have a website. Joe Public also has the chance of winning £10,000 by emailing clues etc. The programme is broadcast twice daily. The inmates are virtually treated as prisoners with frisking, body searches (some tried to smuggle items in with them such as a manual on picking locks. Subtle?!) and work tasks during the day. They are watched by prison officers who have a watch tower and all the usual security devices including and iris scanner (so that no inmates can get a mate in to help). They also have a prison Governor who says that his reputation is on the line so he has no intention of letting them escape (all part of the hype). Males and females are segregated into separate dorms. Amongst them there's a bodyguard, a builder (who consequently has already spent one night on the run from an army prison), an architect and of course the obligatory glamour model. On day one they were already putting escape plans into action. Could be fun if the characters gel (or maybe even if they don't!). One was claiming that he didn't intend to be in for more than 2 days - we shall see!
I've been a member of the AA for years and years and years. In the past I would have rated them extremely highly. I would still rate the AA patrolmen highly. However the AA organisation has gone into a decline. It's not as if I call them out all the time, though it has to be said that if I have a problem with the car (beyond putting in petrol, oil and water) I'm goosed. On the last few occasions I have called them out I have not seen an AA patrolman. They have sent out a local garage. I actually called them out last week after I stopped the car and it wouldn't start again. They put me on high priority because I had a child and a dog with me (actually I don't think they were bothered about the dog!). The local recovery was sent out and the chap didn't even fiddle around, just said that it was the starter motor and he would get it started again and told me to drive straight to a garage because if I stopped it wouldn't be able to start again. He then left me. Roadside assistance states that if an "on the spot" repair proves impossible then the AA guarantees to get you home or to the nearest recommended garage which ever is nearer. I have roadside, relay and relay plus. I was about to travel about 50 miles and he told me not to go. I took it to a local garage who fixed it by changing a 30p nut! In the past the AA Patrolman would have fixed this (and would not charge for the labour). If they are unable to fix it the Patrolmen have always followed me to a garage and driven me home. I have relay plus which means that they will hire a car for me if required, however when you get a local garage out you have to take this up with the AA so you are left stranded. There are several other recovery sevices that offer a service where they call out a local garage and they are far cheaper than the AA. The benefit of being an AA member in the past has always been the AA Patrolmen who make every effort to get you going a
gain and sort the problem out there and then. They cannot guarantee this level of service when using other garages (as my experiences have proved). As far as recovery times, you can guarantee that if they tell you it's going to be an hour then it will be an hour and 5 mins. I'm sure they sit round the corner waiting for the allotted time and then come. The AA cannot rely on past reputations. I did complain and I was told that you can request to specifically get an AA chap but would have to wait longer. What does this say to me? That they need more Patrolmen.
I can't pretend that I'm the perfect parent because my daughter would be straight on here to tell you I'm not! However I can give you various tactics which may or may not help when discipling your children. Someone once said to me that however you choose to bring up your children is the right way. There's a lot of commonsense in that. Everyone wants to give their threepennies worth which may be useful, but no one has to live with your children 24/7 like you do. I definately think it's wrong when people are judgemental to about parents' methods when they see the parents/children in a public place. They don't know what has gone before the incident and the ins and outs of living with that child. So onto suggested methods of discipline. Obviously it depends on age to a certain extent. Personally I don't smack my children. Part of the reason is that they like to batter each other (which drives me mad) and how could I oppose violence if I was involved in it also? I use the line that I don't hit them so I don't expect them to hit each other. If my children are fighting then I send them both to their rooms until they have calmed down. How long they are there depends on them. I tell them that they can come down when they want to be reasonable human beings. Usually they return cool, calm and collected otherwise they get sent away again. If you feel a need to smack then ensure it's for the childs benefit and not for yours - are you in control when you smack? I have one child who is more difficult to handle than the other. When they have been going through a particularly difficult phase I have introduced a star system. Each day that the child has been in control (or not done whatever) they are rewarded with a star. If they don't deserve one that day then the chart is left blank. When a pre-agreed number of stars is achieved then there's a reward for both children (also pre-agreed such as a beanie bab
y or a trip to Macdonalds). Call it bribery, but if it restores law and order, so what?! I know that this is advice if fine when you can reason with your child, but it is true to say that this begins at an early age ( and the reward methods is still appreciated by my 10 year old - especially if there's something in it for her!). I have found it particularly useful when they enter a phase of bad behaviour. As for toddlers. I had one that used to bang her head on the door when she didn't get her own way (very distressing because she had a permanent bruise/bump on her head). She would get hysterical so that you couldn't stop her. Then someone gave me a solution from a doctor which was a brilliant solution. Fill an egg cup half full with water and throw it at their face when they are having a tantrum. Instant success and it stopped the bruises!
I have to say that I like this site for a few reasons, not least because it separates the British freebies from the American ones. It is also fairly easy to find your way around. But the biggest plus about this site, as far as I am concerned, is that you can get to Dooyoo when Dooyoo is down! I have been finding it increasingly difficult to connect to Dooyoo these last few weeks and in fact as I write this I had just rated someone elses opinion and then came to do a search and I got the all too familiar (these days).. *Dear Dooyoo community, we are optimizing our system* page and couldn't go any further. So I've whizzed along through britishfreestuff.co.uk and Bob's your uncle - here I am!! Try it and see!! Just connect through read/write your opinion. Oh by the way it's also useful if you'd like a change from the *Dooyoo green* 'cus it's *britishfreestuff blue*!
I feel I have to put a different perspective on Egg. I have recently changed my Visa account to Egg, attracted by the low interest rates (particularly for the first 6 months of moving accounts). Yep, their interest rates are good but there are problems associated with on-line banking. I recently tried to purchase a product from Jungle.com (I did rave about them in my review but I've sinced changed my mind - but that's another story). However, I found that Jungle were telling me that Egg had denied payment. I could not understand this as there was plenty of money in the account. Whilst it did end up being the fault of Jungle and Egg advised me that they had not refused payment, when I tried to check this out I found that when I email them, they state that they usually reply within 24 hrs. I didn't think this was satisfactory so I looked for a phone number. However, Egg state that if it is a matter with which they are able to deal with online, then they will charge your account with £2 for telephoning them. I would accept that they are an online banking facility and therefore need to discourage telephone calls but 24hrs is not a satisfactory reply time. I also had occasion when it was not possible to access my account with no reason given. This continued for several hours. I do not find the site easy to navigate and it is quite slow to load the page.
I'm not a great lover of pumping my body with chemicals but there are times (especially when you have children) when you just haven't got time to be ill. When I get a cold that leaves my nose streaming, I have to reach for the Contac 400's. Whilst they make you feel as though you are on a different planet (there are those that would say I'm always on a different planet?!), they do dry up the cold so that at least you can function relatively normally, until you are over the worst. Each capsule lasts for 12 hours so in theory you take 2 per day. However, I find that as long as I function normally during the day then I can dispense with the night time capsule. They come in 3 and 6 day packs but the sooner I stop taking them the better so I only take them for the first day or so.
I have a daughter who is particularly afraid of wasps (I'm not too keen myself!). Having visited Wasp Paradise alias Alton Towers, we were due for another visit but my daughter did not want to go because all the queues file past numerous bins which swarm with wasps. To encourage her I bought some Jungle Formula 'Wasp Away'. I bought the body spray variety which is said to 'effectively repel wasps, hornets and horseflies for up to 6 hours' (or up to 2/3 hours in a tropical climate). As we queued for the monorail at the entrance we were being plagued by the little devils so began spraying the Wasp Away. I can guarantee that there would be no better trial than this situation. Unfortunately, the wasps did not seem to have read the label and made a bee-line (?!) for us as much as the next person. Interestingly, the instructions advise to 'avoid sudden and agressive movement when they are present'! Whilst I appreciate that this is good advice, try telling my daughter this and should it be necessary if the wasps are repelled?!
OK so I cheated! Ashbourne in Derbyshire isn't actually a city. However I thought it was worth a mention so you could all organise next years diary! This is my local town and it is quite quaint. If you live here it's slightly irritating at times because it's really geared up for tourists because you can buy any sort of gift that you care to name. Antique shops are also plentiful but it's not the best for basic commodities for which you have to visit the dreaded Derby (see my opinion on that!). As a tourist town it does have several high points. It is in the Debyshire Dales and as such is great for keen walkers. Ashbourne also sees the start of the Tissington trail which is an old disused railway line which has now been cemented over to provide a bike trail that runs for over 35 miles. You can bring your own bikes or hire them. There are several high points of Ashbourne's social calendar such as the Highland Gathering (the largest outside Scotland) with all the pipe bands descending for a 2 day event in July; the arts festival (not the biggest or the best at the moment - though Wirksworth, a short drive away has an excellent week long festival). But the real creme de la creme has to be the Shrovetide football match. This is a two day event run on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. This has to be seen. The whole town closes down each afternoon on these two days and the ball is thrown up in the town centre (Somerfield carpark actually!) at 2pm. It is a free for all where it is the up'ards against the down'ards (depending which side of the river you live). The goal posts are 3 miles apart and the game is played from 2pm until 11pm each day with no real rules apart from the ball must not be taken on public transport! The shops get boarded up so that no one falls through a shop window and play continues into the river or wherever else the ball may go. The whole town gathers together for the occasion, but most of us at
a distance, as there are some real big guys, and lots of pushing and shoving (it's more like rugby than football). It is a real tradition in the town and it's good to know that there are still some such traditions around that have not been quashed or fizzled out over the years. If your around the area /sober enough on New Years day, then take a trip out to the little village of Mappleton(about one mile from Ashbourne) at 12.30pm. Here about 6 teams compete in a raft race down the river Dove for about 1 mile. They then have to get out of the raft, run up the bank before jumping from a high bridge into the river (some start to bottle out at this point). Once in the river they swim to the side of the river, before climbing out and finally running across a field to the finishing post which is the Okeover Arms pub! In fact if you're that way inclined you could always enter but remember it is New Year's day and the water is very cold! Far better to join the celebrations (all in aid of charity) in the pub!
OK so there are a lot of people out there that have a life! On the other hand there are a lot of people like me that had a life but now have young kids. Why do the TV planners have to rub salt into the wound and point out that it’s only sad old gits that aren’t out having a good time on a Saturday night and we’re not worth more than repeats or the real dregs. Every Saturday is the same – An audience with Cliff Richard, or Whatever happened to the likely lads (again), boring rubbish or stuff that makes even me feel like a youngster! I’ll admit that sometimes there’s a film on that’s been repeated several times but would be worth a watch if you haven’t seen it. Trouble is we HAVE seen them ‘cus we’re always getting videos out on a Saturday ‘cus the tv is so appalling. Yes, we would like to be out painting the town red but we have to stay in ‘cus the babysitters are always out having a good time on a Saturday. The highlight of last night was Big Brother on at 12.40am (so technically this is actually Sunday!). Why is it on at this time? Because that’s when all the people that would like to watch it will be back from the pub. Well this is not a new situation but I think it’s about time something was done about it. I think I’m going to cut a 1/7th off my tv licence bill ‘cus I can confidently say that I won’t be watching tv on a Saturday. As for the tv licence, for the price I'd rather have a few adverts - at least I've got time to get my cuppa, slippers, and fluff up my cushions. The tv is making me old before my time!
Net1mail.com is another free email account provider. However if your ego is bigger than your current email address then this one is for you! It is easy to sign up and you can choose your address from email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org! You do not lose your address if you change ISP's and it can even inform another of your email accounts when you have received mail to that account. It has the usual extras such as mail filters. The real goody is that you can enter a start and end date of your holiday and write a message, which will then be sent to anyone that writes to you while you're away. There are a limited range of background/type colours and stationary.
They usually say beware of the quiet ones but I hope that Thomas is the winner in all this. They also say that the truth will out, so I hope that that is the case and they all realise that Thomas is not out to stab anyone in the back, nor does he have ulterior motives (apart from wanting to win £70,000 - but wouldn't we all?!). He definately seems the most sincere to me, though I do like Anna. All Thomas has to do is carry on as he is and most people won't even notice he's there - he's cetainly not controversial like the others (all in one way or another)!
At first I refused to be drawn in to this programme but I can't resist having a sneaky look at the daily highs and lows. I do enjoy the fact that I can tune in just to the highlights - afterall I don't think any one would find my life exciting 24/7 and I'm allowed out! The point I dislike most about the programme is that they ask the inmates to vote each week on the 2 people they would most like to leave before telling them all who they've chosen! Is this really necessary? Couldn't they then just divulge the 2 to us to vote on, which wouldn't then cause so much bad feeling between them. Afterall, Caroline is there this week, knowing that she was the other nominee by all the others last week - it couldn't make it particularly easy for her. I was one who wanted Sada out last week and I think when she eventually left she redeemed herself to me as there was no back biting about all the others just 'cus she was out and I think that, once she'd come round to the idea, she took it really well. So Big Brother - by all means ask the inmates who they want out but don't cause unnecessary bad feeling by telling them all. Just tell us - afterall, it's our choice from then on. Caroline, must know that she will be on the hit list again this week.