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this is my experience of Groupon.
I learnt about it from my sister-in-law who had got a deal on highlights and a cut at a Manchester salon. It seemed like a good deal so I set up an account with them. They email you on a daily basis with both local (I am in Manchester) and national deals, then you decide if you want to purchase.
I have bought 3 deals with Groupon. Firstly was a highlights and hair cut at a local salon, £29 instead of £99, considering I would normally pay £80 at my usual salon this was a good deal. The deal was only valid on tue-thurs for 4 months. The only issue was trying to get an appointment. So many people had purchased the deal they were completely over booked. However when i did get in the cut and colour was good and I wasn't asked for any additional payments.
The second deal was for a mexican restaurant, beer and buritto people for two for £7 (saving £11). Since I knew the restuarant i knew this was a good deal.
The last deal was for a photobook, 26 large glossy photobook for £9 (plus p&p) instead of £33. I make a photobook in for each year, and again i knew this was a good deal although I had not used the company before. I downloaded the photobook software, produced the book and it was delivered within 5 days of the order being placed.
I have not had any bad experiences with Groupon however I have always gone for deals where i knew that the full price quoted was accurate and fair, and all three were I would have been buying anyway. My tip is know what you want and what you are willing to pay. However you may be drawn into spending money on things you don't really need.
We visited Newquay Zoo on a drizzly day in June this year (2011). With two small boys (age 1 and 3) we needed somewhere to go and keep them entertained. We were staying in Padstow so Newquay Zoo was only a 30min drive. It is well signposted once in Newquay and has a carpark close by.
It's not the biggest Zoo (when compared to Chester Zoo) we had been too however had plenty of the usual animals monkeys, penguins, zebra's, lions and of course meerkats. It also has a small farm area with sheep, goats, pigs and chickens. Everything was nicely spaced out but not too far apart for little legs to walk around.
We ate at one of the snack bars, which did a lunch box for the kids (sandwich, crisps, yoghurt and drink). ice picnic area with large umbrellas for the British weather! the only nuisance was the large number of greedy seagulls which would take food out of hands if allowed.
Zoo also had a nice little play area for the kids to run around.
Overall a nice few hours were spent wandering round despite the weather, and the boys had fun. far better value for money and time that the Aquarium.
PS my youngest son is now obsessed by penguins and carries a toy baby penguin everywhere he goes
This was bought as a Christmas gift for my two sons (age 1 and 3) in 2010. We already had a Thomas Train set but felt this would confine it to a set space rather than taking over the lounge floor.
We decided to build this on Christmas eve which was a good decision since it wasn't the easiest table to build. The two drawers in the side are very useful for storing both the smaller parts of the set and the track (although they aren't large enough to hold everything in the set).
One disappointment was the top of the table, it came in two pieces which fit easily onto the base table, however would not be strong enough to support any weight. Not very practical if you have two boys like mine who climb on everything!
Apart from the top the table is quite sturdy, can cope with two energetic boys. It's the perfect height for my boys to play at.
The wooden track and various buildings make for a complex layout which takes some time to set-up unless you keep hold of either a picture or the instructions. However you can make up your own layout given the amount of track to play with.
I also wasn't expecting there to be sound effects (crossing bridge, train station etc) which add to the boys enjoyment but can be annoying for parents, especially as some can't be turned off easily).
There are lots of small pieces (lights, trees, freight, people) included in this set which we put away as they made perfect teething toys for the youngest.
After 9 months i can say overall this has been a good purchase. The drawers keep most of the toys off the floor and easy to put away, and can also hold other small toys. Track easy to build once you know layout, and the boys love playing with it. Plenty of trains, vehicles, and other parts to play with and share.
Main disadvantage is it's size. It does take up a good portion of our living room floor!
Well I've had this phone for around 6 months now, and i have to say i have a love/hate relationship with this phone. Mine uses microsoft mobile.
Let's start with the love:
Love the size- neat and small very comfy in my hands, i find the iphone too big.
Love the weather update- windscreen wipes when it rains, frosty appearance when snowy.
Love nice clear screen and sharp images
Love that its easy to navigate round and find what you need.
Love email nice and easy to use
And the hate:
problems texting- sometimes it gets confsed as to whom texts are going to, friends being sent texts meant for my husband- glad i don't send anything more exciting than requests for shopping!
Home page only holds 9 favorite links- not enough.
limited apps available via marketplace
i have had to reset it twice in 6 months losing a lot of things i had set up- had to reset due to screen freezing.
I am not sure if the problems are caused by the phone or the software. I will stay with this phone until my contract ends but probably won't buy htc again.
When I first heard about Flash Forward I was intrigued. For 137 seconds, everyone on earth blacks out and sees a vision of themselves 6 months in the future (April 29th 2010). For some this brings good news, others bad. As well as seeing the future, the blackout clauses global chaos, as cars and planes crash.
The series focuses on FBI agent Marc Benford and his team investigating the phenomena, and Marc's family. Marc has problems, an alcoholic who has been dry for seven years, his flash forward shows him drinking. However Marc's vision is also providing clues into the investigation. Marc's wife sees herself with another man and realises that her marriage is going to end soon.
Interesting Marc's partner is one of a few people who don't see anything, and as Marc's investigation continues, he realises that this is because he will die before April 29th.
It is a very well thought out premise, which asks some interesting questions. If you know the future what would you do to change it? For those looking at a bleak forecast, almost anything. Yet people who have seen hope want that same future to happen.
Added to this is the conspiracy theory, who or what caused the blackouts and why. What purpose did they serve? Will it happen again?
The cast is impressive and boasts a large number of brits (mainly supporting American accents) including Joseph Fiennes, Jack Davenport, and Sonya Walger. However I do find the acting and pacing of some episodes difficult at times which I find frustrating. However one thing this series has been really good at is the cliff-hanger. Every episode so far has finished with a great cliff-hanger which has kept me hooked and returning each week.
I have hopes that this is a show which will continue to improve once the characters are more developed.
When you are pregnant with your first child, you read as much as you can, either via internet or books. One thing you realise that's common in all information is a list of everything you and baby will need. You are inundated with advice!
Well when it comes to baby toiletries there is an easy answer. Forget all the sets you can buy (I still have items from a Johnsons baby box used after 2 years), since most midwife's/health visitors do not recommend using products (and this includes baby wipes) on babies until at least 4 months old.
The best things you can buy to help baby are:
Cotton wool (used for washing and nappy changing).
Olive oil (great for problem or dry skin and baby massage)
And that's it! No shampoo, no wipes, no lotions or potions.
What about for you? Well the main item I got was Lansinoh nipple cream for the first few weeks of breastfeeding. Quite expensive but worth it! I did get given some pampering stuff, but quite frankly never had time to use it.
Once baby can have toiletries I would highly recommend any Tesco baby stuff, it's reasonably priced and good quality, and I have used their baby wipes, baby bubble bath, nappy bags, and nappy cream.
Stargate Universe is the latest spin off in the Stargate franchise and comes with an impressive cast including Robert Carlyle, Lou Diamond-Philips, and Ming-Na.
The premise a group of scientists, diplomats and military staff based on a distant planet, are investigating the mysterious 9th chevron. When the base comes under attack, a wormhole is opened to an unknown destination, and the team are forced through the gate in order to survive. They reappear on an Ancient ship in a distant galaxy unable to return home. With limited resources they are forced to survive as best they can.
The first episode aired in the UK on Sky1 on Tuesday 6th September as a double bill. First episodes are notoriously difficult as they have to set the scene and establish characters quickly.
What did I like about the first episode? For existing Stargate fans there was the appearance of original characters Jack O'Neill, Sam Carter and Daniel Jackson. Also a nod to the original Stargate movie where Daniel Jackson is bought in to help solve the riddle of the Stargate. This time we have computer/maths geek Eli, who solves a problem on a game, and then is whisked off to work with Dr Rush on a distant star base. There is a brief explanation of Stargate given to Eli en route to the base, which would help initiate any viewers unfamiliar with the Stargate franchise.
A few episodes in and the group are still fighting for survival aboard the Destiny. The writers have avoided the quick fix and have not even introduced us to any new threatening aliens, which gives me hope that this isn't just a standard space set drama. It's all very well written and character centric. Not only are we having character development of the main cast, but also getting glimpses into the supporting roles. However, Ming-Na and Lou Diamond Philips are currently under used and have only been shown briefly. Robert Carlyle as Dr Rush is both brillaint and completely bonkers, and as a result not quite trustworthy. He will either save them all or kill them.
Comparisons can be drawn to both Star Trek Voyager (in the scenario) and Battlestar Galactica (in the look and feel) both of which I thought were excellent shows. I am hopeful that this show will continue to develop both interesting characters and storylines.
Robert Carlyle ... Dr. Nicholas Rush
Justin Louis ... Everett Young
Brian J. Smith ... Matthew Scott
Elyse Levesque ... Chloe Armstrong
David Blue ... Eli Wallace
Alaina Huffman ... Tamara Johansen
Jamil Walker Smith ... Ronald Greer
Jennifer Spence ... Lisa Park
Ming-Na ... Camille Wray
I have reviewed a number of Dean Koontz books previously as he is one of my favourite authors.
I was off work sick last week and while resting in bed decided to re read Intensity. It is one of the best books he has written, and it is very difficult to put down once started as it lives up to the title.
From the first chapter you are drawn into the troubled personality of Chyna Shepherd, a young woman who has suffered more than most, raised by an abusive mother and her numerous boyfriends, Chyna has learnt to be a survivor. She has struggled to become close to people, but when she starts college she is drawn to the vivacious Laura who embraces life and brings joy and hope into Chyna's life.
Then on a weekend visit to Laura's family, Chyna is disturbed in the night by suspicious noises, her survival skills kick in, and while hiding she realises than something terrible has/is happening to Laura's family. Her parents have been murdered, but Laura herself has been raped but still alive. Evading the killer, Chyna creeps around her friend's house to find an escape or a weapon, but to no avail. When the killer returns in motor home to take her friend away, she hides aboard in the hope of helping her friend.
Later when the killer stops for petrol, she overhears him talking about a young girl who is holding at his house. Drawn back to him, in the hope of saving Ariel, she gives chase.
The killer is fascinated by Chyna and her efforts to rescue Ariel, and therefore after he captures her keeps are alive in order to find out about her.
The rest of the book is the ongoing battle between Chyna and the killer, and Chyna and her demons which she must conquer in order to save herself and Ariel.
There are numerous twists and turns in this book, which keep you surprised and since it is set within a short time span (48hours max) you really get the sense of time ticking away. The main character Chyna is well written, and the killer is also intriguing and complex.
Well worth reading.
I have been selling and buying via eBay on and off for the last few years. Mainly to clear out stuff in my house and make a bit of money while on maternity leave.
Advantages I get to set a price for any goods I want to sell and an appropriate level of postage. I also don't have to haggle or speak to anyone. I request payment by PayPal only ensuring that payment is received and prompt, in the early days it could take days for a cheque to arrive and then be cashed. I have had very little problems selling items via eBay.
The main items I have bought from eBay are baby stuff and print cartridges, both excellent value for money, and a quick and prompt service from the sellers. I have a small number of sellers saved if I have been happy with their products and service in case I want to buy a similar item again. I have never had any problems purchasing items from eBay and have always been happy with the goods I have received. Again I make any purchases using PayPal, which also helps to make any transactions quick and easy.
Now if there is something specific I want, I always check eBay since you might find what you are looking for at a bargain price. Though I must say always check that including P&P you are paying less than you would buying new. It amazes me the number of people who pay more than you would in a shop for some items. Just because it's on eBay doesn't mean it's a bargain!
I got given this book when I was pregnant with my first child, and I must admit I was a bit reluctant to start reading. I was already concerned about reading too much in advance of giving birth since I did not want to read lots of conflicting information. It's bad enough being pregnant and the advice on what you and cannot eat changes on a daily basis. So having a multitude of books on child rearing was not on my agenda.
However I was given this book, and I must admit it's quite good. Easy to read and split into nice chapters depending on the age or stage your baby is at. As my son was going to be breastfed and I was not going back to work for 12 months, getting him into a set routine was not something I was bothered about. Therefore I felt that some of the chapters where not relevant to me or my baby.
This book did become useful when I started to change over to bottle feeding especially on the how much and when I should be feeding him, as I was concerned about giving him too much or too little. It was also useful when getting ready to wean him and prepare for solids.
Overall, a handy book for a new mom to have around, but by no means should be treated as law. If you want or need to get your baby into a routine quickly you might find it more useful than I did, but in the end your baby is as individual as you are, and a strict routine may not be for them or you.
Best advice I was given about the first year, relax and go with the flow. I certainly did and my baby did too.
I have since passed this book onto my cousin, but with the advice, use as reference material!
This is one of my must haves for any mums-to-be.
When I was preparing my hospital bag for the birth of my first child, I did not pack any Lansinoh or any other type of nipple cream. Mainly because of the cost, at about £10 for a tube I thought it was a bit too expensive.
Well within 24 hours of breastfeeding my nipples started hurting, and although never bled, became very dry and sore. I immediately dispatched my husband to buy something and he came back with Lansinoh. It's very thick and oily (rather like Vaseline) but you only need a tiny bit and it's works so well. And I immediately had some relief. An added benefit is that it's perfectly same for baby too, so you don't have to remove it before feeding again.
After a few weeks breastfeeding, I didn't need it anymore as things settled down but a tube is definitely going in my hospital bag this time. I won't be going anywhere without it.
As I approach the start of another round of maternity leave I have been looking for a lightweight tv show to save on my sky+ box to while away the hours before baby arrives.
Currently re showing on E4 at 2pm is Gilmore Girls, the story of Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. Mother and daughter who are more like best friends, partly because Lorelai had Rory when she was 16 (Rory's current age as well). Their lives become for complicated when Rory is accepted at private school and gets her first boyfriend, Dean.
The former makes Lorelai asks for help from her rich parents, whom she has never got along with, partly due to their strict upbringing and her teenage pregnancy. The majority of stories highlight the differences between Lorelai's relationship between her mother and her relationship with her daughter.
They are supported by a number of friends in the weird little town of Stars Hollow where they seem to be celebrating something every weekend. Sookie, Lorelai's best friend and manic chef, Jackson Sookie's beau and produce supplier, Luke owner of the coffee shop and possible love interest for Lorelai, and Laine, Rory's best friend who is stuck with a very strict Korean mother.
It's funny and sweet, with lots of charm, and light and fluffy. It's tv show which doesn't require any thought processes so you can just sit back and relax and watch with pleasure at the character's antics. At present we still on series one with another 6 to go, so should keep me quite for a while!
Well they've finally arrived. Our new recycling bins, one blue and one brown, which means I can now recycle cardboard, plastic and cartons without having to drag them to the supermarket.
This is great for me, I do try and be good and recycle as much as possible, but I have found trying to recycle some materials quite annoying. Cardboard is one of these. Mainly because it has been impossible to take it to the bins at the local supermarket since they all always overflowing. Therefore it has meant a special trip to the local tip, which when you have a toddler and a husband who hates going to the tip makes it near on impossible. However now I have my lovely bin I can finally sort out my cellar and get it clear of all the cardboard that's lurking down there!
I am also quite excited at being able to recycle drinks cartons now, as there was only one recycle point close by and again always overflowing.
I love recycling, and now it's even easier.
As an adult visiting a zoo has never been on my wish list. I only vaguely remember going as a child. However since having my son, a fun day out at the zoo seemed like a good idea. He's approaching 2 and is developing an interest in animals (mainly cats).
Chester Zoo is the nearest to us (we're South Manchester) but we decided to wait until early September, once the schools have gone back before going. The Zoo opens at 10am, so we arrived shortly after that.
Already the queues were forming and we had to wait about 15mins to get in. It cost us £15 each, but son being under 3 got in for free. Included in this price was a donation to the Zoo which could be gift aided. However once we were inside the Zoo was really quiet and pleasant to walk round.
The animals are nicely spread out with not too far to walk in between each section. Which was great, especially in the afternoon when my son was tiring. My son was also distracted by the monorail (he loves trains) which we went on after lunch. This was an additional cost of £1.50 per adult (again children under 3 are free) But this is only for one journey to the next station.
We also decided to eat at one of the restaurants. The food was ok but basic, sandwiches and salads in the cold food. Fish and chips, chilli, burgers, nuggets, pies, jacket spuds in the hot food. We decided on hot food and the food was ok. It was a little on the pricey side but expected that. There were plenty of picnic areas set around the zoo if you wanted to take your own. Also plenty of toilets in each area.
So what animals did we see?
Elephants, giraffes (including the new baby), various monkeys, including the great indoor section for Orang-utans, Jaguars, lions, penguins, zebra and meerkats. There were more see but my son and myself (I am pregnant with no2) were tiring so we cut some animals out.
We had a quick wander around the shop before we left which sold the usual sort of Zoo related gifts: soft toys, books, t-shirts, and balloons. From the cheap to the expensive. My son was instantly attracted to the animal balloons but these were quite large and I could see problems trying to part a toddler from balloon back at the car.
Overall we had a great day. Yes it was a little expensive, but worth it to watch my son's face when he saw an animal for the first time (the monkeys in particular). It was a great time of year to visit, not crowded and the weather was still okay, in fact it was the driest warmest day we had had for awhile.
After you've paid the entrance fee you can spend as much or as little as you want.
I must admit that since becoming a mom, life has become too short for a lot of things. One of these is making roast potatoes from scratch. I know it's cheaper to buy proper potatoes and make my own, but then because we don't eat a lot of potatoes I often end up throwing mouldy potatoes away.
The answer came in the form of frozen roast potatoes. 30 minutes in the oven to perfect crispiness, with a fluffy centre. Just how I like them. They are quick and easy to cook and taste delicious. I like the mix in size, sometimes small they get very crispy and others on a larger size so more of the fluffy centre. Also a lot less washing up!
They are very useful to have in for knocking up a quick dinner for a two year old when you need to produce something quickly. He also loves them and he's a very fussy eater!
They can be expensive so look out for deals but they are the best frozen roasties I have tried.