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Easy to reach as it is just off the M 9 and close to Falkirk, it is also handy for people in West Lothian.
We were a group of 9 ladies and had booked weeks before, but it was surprising just how busy it was on a Thursday lunch time. Well perhaps it shouldn't have been as they do an excellent value lunch time menu. Just £10 for 3 courses.
As this was a celebration we had the main menu and everyone enjoyed their starters. The langoustines with Cointreau dressing on the salad was fabulous. Some people had veal and chicken cooked in various ways and I had Lobster stuffed ravioli which was delicious. Main meals varied in price from around £8.95 to £13.95 and there was a good choice of pizza too, which I noticed other people eating.
Lunch wouldn't be lunch without dessert and the Tiramasu was lovely. Ice cream stuffed pancakes looked lovely too!
Good selection of wines and other drinks and the staff were all very friendly and helpful.
Toilets -well the ladies was clean and ample soap etc, and a huge mirror and accessories showed they thought the toilets important too.
Would I go back ? Yes and hopefully in the next few weeks as I enjoyed my meal very much. not cheap but well cooked and nicely presented so worth paying the extra.
Returning home from a leisurely canal holiday we decided to meet up with relatives and chose the 4 Star AA Best Western Leyland hotel at Preston because it was close to the M6 for them driving from the south and for us to return north the following day. It really was easy to find and only minutes from the motorway. There was a security gate to the car park but this was in the upright position and we easily found a space to park.
They knew we were coming as we had booked but I hadn't expected the "Red Carpet" to be out for us! But we soon discovered there was a wedding on, and later discovered that there were 2 weddings!
* 93 Executive Bedrooms
* Open plan J28 Lounge Bar
* FREE WIFI
* Spa bath
* Fitness room
* The beautiful Four Seasons Restaurant
* 14 Meeting & Conference Rooms
* Swimming pool
* FREE Car Parking 250 spaces
Once we had cleared the red carpet we found ourselves in a busy reception area that was also a lounge and bar area and had a wide variety of seating including a huge chair and various other interesting pieces for photographic occasions. There were lots of old Leyland photos and busts fitting in with the Italian theme. We were seen quite quickly but as they were busy our room wasn't ready - we were one hour early and due to the rain hadn't stopped en route as planned. But they took care of our luggage whilst we sampled the food in the bar area. We later checked in and received one electronic key card. Possibly we could have asked for two and I wish someone in a nearby room had as they woke us up at about 2am with someone knocking on the door and asking to be let in!
Some of the Conference rooms led off the reception area and they had rooms for many size of groups from 16 to 250. Being very close to the Motorways and only 22 miles from Manchester airport makes this a good venue.
As far as I could tell all the bedrooms were classed as Executive and although not huge were of a good size. There was at least one Honeymoon suite with a four poster bed. There was cream flecked wallpaper and a piece of canvas type modern artwork. The king size bed had lovely Egyptian cotton sheets and a white cotton duvet with a beautiful throw in brown with gold circles matching the curtains. There was also a net type curtain and blackouts. It was good to see 2 pillows each plus cushions, and a free safe in the single wardrobe. Above the bed were 2 wall lights and a small bedside table on both sides of the bed with a telephone and clock. A large writing table with drawers and lights above the mirror and a light on the wall near the bathroom. There was a rest for suitcases and a small cupboard for the tray with kettle and mugs for the tea/coffee etc. There was one arm chair near the small table and a computer chair by the writing table where there was a good selection of sockets. The flat screen TV with free view was wall mounted and there was a CD player with docking unit for an ipod. There was free internet access but I could only use my iPad in the public areas where there was wifi. Although advertised that an iron and board was available by request we had one in our room, although I didn't use it!
The bathroom was small and could have looked nicer with some more colourful tiles but it was adequate and very clean. Plenty of toiletries which were in tubes plus nice white towels. I can't remember if the hairdryer was in the bathroom or in the bedroom as I used the drier in the changing room by the pool.
I assume there were some bedrooms on ground floor as there was no lift.
Not a lover of swimming, (OK I can't swim) but I do enjoy sitting in a Jacuzzi so the others had a swim and used the sauna and joined me in the Jacuzzi later by which time I was nicely wrinkled! Good changing rooms with showers, hair drier and curling tongs. Towels were free from the Club reception where you just had to sign in. Water was available from a drinks machine and although I didn't use the gym there was some machines available. There was also seating in the pool area and it was nice and warm and better than outside in the torrential rain!
Four Seasons Restaurant
A large interesting restaurant almost round in shape, with a lovely wooden roof and spectacular lighting so you felt you were eating under the stars. Several statues and pillars added to the ambiance. The glass ware was stunning, as were the unusual shaped plates which added to the restaurant and the food certainly didn't disappoint. We were booked in for dinner with bed and breakfast and had up to £25 to spend, but chose food that cost more but that was just added to our bill. We had all been given a book of tickets for 3 free drinks each - an offer that was running whilst we were there. The Table d'hote cost £21.95, starters were about £5 or £6, mains £18 - £21 and desserts around £5. Steaks and pizzas were also available. All the food was sourced locally - within 30 miles and the duck I had was absolutely delicious and cooked to perfection.
Breakfast was one of the best I had had in hotels recently with everything you might want and as I don't often eat cooked breakfasts so to see that Pancakes and maple syrup was available made me very happy. The staff were very pleasant girls, knowledgeable about the food that was available and seemed to genuinely
want to help.
Would I return?
Yes I would, it was a good hotel but.....
Best Western says "All our rooms offer elegance, space and most importantly tranquillity". Yes the furnishings were elegant and there was a reasonable amount of space but I argue with the tranquillity!
I would check if there was a wedding on as the one conference room opened up into some outside space with lights and tables and as it was a humid evening we left the window open but it was noisy until the rain sent them all back indoors.
This obviously depends on days and dates but the end of June/beginning of July it cost us £119 per room for Dinner, Bed and Breakfast.
Whilst exploring the Azores we stayed in Horta on the Island of Faial for a few days at the 4 * Hotel Do Canal which was opposite the ferry and had magnificent views of Pico mountain when the cloud cleared from the top! Ten minutes from the airport and a ten minute walk along the front to the Marina and town also close to the beach and Whaling museum. There was some parking near the hotel. The hotel is in the Bensaude chain and has just over 100 rooms.
The large reception area had some seating and 2 lifts and stairs to the upper floors and extended into a lounge area, outside seating with water feature and a small bar and the restaurant.
Our bedroom had a minute balcony and overlooked the church. The carpet was deep red around the edges of a natural, gold, teal and red check, it looked quite luxurious and with plain white bed covers, gold throws and bright cushions made the room very attractive. There was a red leather stool at the writing desk which had drawers and a fridge built in, and TV on top. There were two dark mahogany wood bedside tables and lamps above the bed and also standard lamps. A small round table had fruit and water on when we arrived which was a nice touch. There was a tray with kettle, cups and saucers, tea, coffee and sugar but no milk, but we discovered at the end of our stay that you could get milk from the bar. Perhaps a small jug in the fridge at the start would have been good! A case stand had a cupboard underneath and there was a double wardrobe and a cupboard with a safe, shelf and drawers. A wooden suit stand may be useful for business guests but we didn't use it. The wall mirror was not above the writing desk so doing hair and applying make up wasn't easy.
The bathroom was medium sized with a black marble floor and washbasin unit and white tiles with a black strip of narrow tiles. The shower was over the bath, bidet and toilet were standard and a useful stool. Plenty of toiletries nicely displayed a new shower curtain and the largest fluffiest white towels of our holiday.
There were dark wood tables and linen napkins and cloths. There was a boat style central unit for the buffet where the food was attractively displayed. Lunch was priced at 19Euro and Dinner 25Euro. There was soup for dinner, or Pasta, choice of meat and fish dishes and desserts, cheese and biscuits and coffee. There was always a good selection of nicely cooked food and we were impressed with the friendly service. Breakfast had a great selection of cold meats and cheeses, often smoked salmon and even champagne, plus the usual cereals, fruit and juices and yogurt plus lovely breads and pastries and a selection of bacon, sausages and eggs for those who like a cooked meal.
There were two more lounges upstairs, one with a bar and snooker table and access to an outside balcony with wooden chairs which overlooked the square and ferry port and the other lounge had plenty of comfortable seating and a TV. You could pay for wifi at 3Euro an hour although it was available free in the Business centre.
The Jacuzzi was in an upstairs area on the opposite side to where our room was and partitioned off from a few Gym machines, the highly polished floor looked a bit dangerous for people getting out of the Jacuzzi and there were no towels or changing rooms that I could see. But as we were out most of the time this wasn't a problem.
Verdict? A very nice hotel, good food, comfortable room, pleasant staff. Would I return? Yes please, I loved the Azores.
Firstly, this review is on a product I won rather than purchased. Foundation makes your skin become alive and attractive if you are blessed with pale skin and that is so important plus long lasting foundation is even better. Flesh comes in many colours and so does this brand of foundation, 6 colours in all, a nude and shades of beige and ivory. Faces need to be looked after and this foundation does just that.
Fabric is a narrow glass bottle about 8cm high, rather like a narrow shot glass with a pinky red plastic lid that pulls off to reveal a push down dispenser. Full to the top with 30 ml of foundation. Flabbergasting improvements have been made over the years and this foundation is so much better than products I used in my youth.
Fingers are perfect for applying this make up but you can use a damp sponge for a perfectly even application. Finish is really even and perfect for all occasions. Flaky looking foundation is a thing of the past using Rimmel 25 hour, it is sweat, heat, humidity and transfer proof for 25 hours according to the bottle. Frankly I find I need to brush on a little mineral powder after 8 hours just to freshen it up. Feels hydrating, all day long with its moisturising aqua primer. Fragrant is perhaps not the correct description but there is a light and pleasant smell when applying the foundation. Feeling good is what using makeup is all about.
From Boots and other chemists and supermarkets, it is easy to find on the high street. Fritter away your money on more expensive products if you want but this little bottle is well worth buying at £6.99 or 2 for £10 at Boots.
Fascinating how fashion has changed over the years and Rimmel which was classed a rather "cheap" product now wins in some polls for value for money.
Finally, I would recommend this product as excellent value for money.
For your information specially written for Dooyoo's Synchronized swimming completion.
The Azores consists of 9 islands in the Atlantic Ocean between Lisbon and America, belonging to Portugal. Sao Miguel is in the Eastern Group and is the largest of the islands, with the largest town being called Ponta Delgada. Even though the islands are volcanic they are all blessed with plenty of plant life and Sao Miguel is called the Green Island. This was our second visit to the Azores and our first hotel stay this time was in Ponta Delgada at the 4 star Atlantico Hotel opposite the Marina and on the east edge of the town, although described as being located in the heart of it! Admittedly a short walk along the front and you soon reach the shops and cafes. The airport is about 4Km from the town.
The hotel is designed to look like a ship with decking on the pavement and supports to give a ship like feeling. It has 184 guestrooms and is made of volcanic stone. Some of the rooms facing the sea have balconies and there are 2 lifts in each section of the hotel. There is parking under the hotel if you have a hired car.
The reception is large and airy and a tray of iced tea is always available for guests. There is a small room near the lifts with computers and you can buy time from reception. There are toilets on both sides of reception with conference rooms on the side nearest town and a lounge, bar, shop and restaurant on the east side. During the first weekend a man was playing a keyboard near the bar. Snacks can be ordered at the bar. A mezzanine floor reached by the lift or stairs from the lounge provide more seating and gives a better view out over a swimming pool toward the newish cruise liner terminal and cafes. The sofas and chairs were very comfortable and there was a baby grand although we didn't see it in use.
Our first bedroom was a family room and on our return a twin room, both decorated in similar colours. We had a view of back gardens of houses opposite the rear of the hotel and a road, and could see up to a lovely church on the hill which was illuminated at night. The window was quite small, but did let some air in.
A dark brown silky cover with a pale blue panel covered the white bed linen edged with pale blue and the curtains had wide stripes in blue and brown, and a narrow stripe on the carpet. There was a long dark brown dressing table with drawers and a fridge/mini bar, with a mirror above. There was a leather stool, armchair and plenty of lights. Pictures on the walls were of old yachts, the bin was separated for recycling and there was a phone on one of the bedside tables. The wardrobe area was near the bathroom giving plenty of space when selecting clothes. There were shelves, drawers and a digital safe within the wardrobes. There was a TV with some cable programmes and air conditioning. The large bathroom with a window letting in plenty of light and fresh air had a great hairdryer, over bath shower and bidet, toilet and wash basin with ample room for all the free toiletries and our toilet bags on the marble surround. The towels were of reasonable quality and changed every couple of days unless you wanted them changed more often.
A good size with tables arranged to suit all sizes of groups, with a buffet in one part. The windows over look the road and sea and had blinds which were automatically activated when the sun was strong at breakfast time. The breakfast buffet had a great assortment of food, the usual cereals, fruit and yogurt. Cold meats and wonderful cheeses, bacon, eggs and fabulous breads including local varieties plus cakes and pastries to die for! Fruit juices, tea and coffees and champagne if you wanted to celebrate!
At dinner time soup was waiter served and then you could help yourself at the buffet to salads, pasta, fish, meat, and vegetables. A lot of the dishes were local and very enjoyable. About six choices of dessert and always fresh fruit salad plus tasty cheeses, biscuits and quince jelly. The local wines were very reasonable with the white being my favourite, the red was a bit rougher than I like. Bottled still water was provided free of charge. They did a special offer for Saga guests with 2 beers or 2 glasses of wine for Euro3.50. I think dinner with drinks was about Euro25 if you weren't on half board.
We were so busy doing things and going places that we didn't try out the leisure facilities, but there is an indoor pool, Jacuzzi and sauna plus massages are available if booked in advance. It is necessary to wear a cap when swimming.
The staff were all very friendly and spoke English, although a Bom Dia or Boa Tarde was appreciated as was Obrigada by way of thanks. The majority went out of their way to help in any way they could.
Would I recommend?
Yes definitely if you want to stay in the town, when we went before we were a long way out of Ponta Delgada so it was good to be within walking distance to enjoy all the facilities, visit the churches, fort and gardens etc. It is a modern hotel and frequented by business men and women and families as well as tourists. Rates vary from about Euro74 a night.
It would have been better if there was somewhere to sit outside apart from the few tables by the bar.
Pouring yogurt? I was a bit sceptical at first but I admit I really love the Vanilla flavour and would go so far as saying it is as good as cream!
Marketed as a breakfast yogurt to serve with cereal, to use in smoothies or just on its own, it is available in 3 flavours, Vanilla, strawberry and natural.
The carton is quite tall and slim so easy to fit in the door of the fridge, recyclable tetra pack, with a screw top so easy to serve and seal again. The carton has the typical green colour of Activa and features a picture of how it can be served. Contents are 950grams and the nutritional information is on the side of the carton.
The vanilla pouring yogurt is a thick creamy consistency, it smells of vanilla and is a nice deep creamy colour. It tastes delicious, a lovely vanilla flavour, having not sampled the other flavours I can't comment on them. Strawberry yogurt is amongst my worst flavour and natural doesn't tempt me!
They suggest 130 grams as being an average serving that means you can use a carton in 7 days. which is the length of time suggested for storing after opening. One serving has 85 cals, it has 4 grams of protein, 12.4 grams of carbohydrate, 2grams of fat, and a trace of salt, plus some useful calcium.
Advertised as less than 2% fat it is a healthy option and it contains Bifidobacterium lactis which is good for the gut by helping the digestive system.
Obviously on cereal for breakfast, on top of fruit and pancakes, with fruit salad, in smoothies or on top of pies, tarts apple cake instead of cream for dinner or a snack. The natural flavour could be used in cooking where ordinary yogurt would be used like in naan bread.
Why did I buy it?
Well to be truthful I didn't. I am a Bzz agent and had a voucher to receive it free and tell other people all about it.
Do I like it?
Yes. It is really delicious and versatile and something I will pop in my trolley more often now.
Normally £1.98 it is on offer in Tesco for £1 until May 15th.
Have you ever counted how many times a day you wash your hands? Try and if you are good at counting you may be surprised by the result! In this very "Health and Hygiene" conscious land our hands are in and out of water constantly, especially if you are a Mum( or Dad!) with a child or preparing meals and so your hands can become dry and it's essential to use a good hand cream to keep them soft and hydrated.
I had nearly finished a tube I'd been using and looked in Tesco for a replacement when I spotted a tube of Nivea. Something I remember from my childhood in a blue tin! Nivea has actually been on the market for over 100 years and is a well trusted name, although this tube looks very modern and although it has the blue and white brand name it looks modern and is described as being "Pure and Natural". Paul Beiersdorf gave his name to the company who produced Nivea in the 1880's and it is still the name of the company now.
What does the tube look like? The white tube has a pale green picture with some leaves and pale yellow what at first I thought was flowers but decided it is small globules of Argan oil! A little stamp says it is 95% natural origin, and gives protection for Dry hands. It has a blue flip lid and stands upright on this base.
On the back of the tube there is some information about the product stating that the Argan oil helps soften and smooths the skin. The formula supports the skin's natural balance protecting and nourishing dry hands all day long. There are no parabens, no colourants, no silicones and no mineral oils contained in it.
And what on earth is Argan oil I hear you ask, it is also known as liquid gold and is becoming more popular in this country now in beauty products although Berber women have used it for years and they are being paid a fair wage for they work in Morocco. It contains a lot of Vitamin E.
So do you want to know about the product? The hand cream is white and fairly thick but soon is absorbed into your skin as you rub it in, a little goes a long way and the fragrance is one I really like, the smell reminds me of sea fresh smells similar to other shower gels and air fresheners, but the fragrance soon disappears so won't clash with perfume. If it hadn't said there was no silicone I would have thought it contained some as it reminds me of products I used to use from Avon which were silicone and left your hands feeling soft and protected from washing up liquids etc.
How often do you need to apply? A difficult question, I might only apply it once a day or might use it four or five times, depending on what I'm doing and what condition my hands are in. I leave the tube besides the computer as I often come through from the kitchen and sit down to relax online and give my hands a treat. My hands feel soft for quite a long time after applying but I'm quite likely to have my hands in water after an hour or two although if I just wash my hands after using the toilet I don't always apply again as my hands will still fell soft, whereas if I'm doing hand washing of clothes or dishes I will probably re-apply. My hands aren't left feeling greasy or sticky, and if they were feeling itchy after cleaning products it soothes them instantly.
I bet you want to know how much it costs. Well I paid £2.55 in Tesco and saw it at Boots for just over £3, so thought I had a bargain but Sainsbury's currently sell it at £1.70 for a 100 mls tube so that makes it a really good buy.
Would I recommend it? You bet I would, it's keeping my hands nice and soft and is a good price and women in other countries are benefiting from me buying it.
Do you need a face lift? Is your skin not as pert as it used to be? Have you got wrinkles? Not many of us ladies want to go down the avenue of Bo-tox and face lifts so using creams to improve skin is a necessity. I'm a Boots No 7 girl (older woman actually!) but just occasionally I try a different product as having a change can be good for your skin. I had a coupon for money off L'Oreal Revitalift in Tesco and decided to pop it in the trolley along with the food, my husband wouldn't notice how much it was that way!
The box was contained in a plastic sealed unit in Tesco - showing to me it was an expensive product that they thought might be shop-lifted! The cardboard box is white with gold writing and a red foil stripe. It was described as a new formula and contains Pro-Retinol A + Pro-Firmyl technology. It is a Night cream and is both Anti-wrinkle and firming. Underneath the box is a long list of the ingredients which I will mention later plus other information.
This cream has been developed to help boost the skin's own eight natural firmers, which are Elastin, Collagen I,III and IV, Perlecan, Integrins, Fibrillin and Chrondrotin S. Pro-retinol A is a powerful anti-wrinkle ingredient and is known to stimulate skin cell renewal.
The blue glass jar is quite heavy and has a pearly white screw top lid and an extra plastic lid inside. My jar contains 50 ml and the cost now is about £8, although it is worth shopping around for as it can vary from over £15 to £8.16. It looks good sitting out on the dressing table.
On opening the jar a beautiful fragrance greeted me. Similar to other skin creams I have used and I was pleased to see the cream was fairly thick. A little goes a long way, and I apply some cream every night after I have removed my make up and cleansed and toned my skin. Sometimes I apply some serum first, other times just the night cream. I did wonder how easily it would be absorbed as it appeared quite thick, but it seemed to melt into my skin and was quickly absorbed. My skin felt well hydrated but not greasy and I felt it smelt pleasant. No rude comments from my other half anyway!
Included in the box was a leaflet in 12 languages describing different products available. It says that from age 40, wrinkles become more apparent and the skin's firmness is reduced, so I presume that this cream should be used from 40 onwards, so probably I started a bit too late! But, having said that, I can comment on the "Results" that are given on the box. It says after one night the skin is hydrated, feels softer and comfortable and I agree my skin did feel more hydrated and softer. In 4 weeks wrinkles appear visibly reduced and skin feels firmer, and again I would say my skin is firmer, I haven't that many wrinkles, but fine ones do seem less.
Lastly a comment on the ingredients, like so many things Water is the main ingredient and Glycerin is high on the list. Ingredients like Mineral oil, Paraffinum and Apricot kernel oil all help soften the skin, one ingredient I noticed is that Aluminium Starch is contained and some people may be put off by this but tests have shown it is safe in cosmetics and is used widely.
All in all I would recommend this night cream for anyone over 40 years as it has certainly helped my skin feel good and look better. As with all shopping look around for the best price and I'm sure you won't be disappointed.
My daughter decided that it would be easier if we had a high chair for when they came out with my little Granddaughter and as well as ordering it online she ordered some other items to make meal times easier and to save bringing cups and spoons etc. Some of these items were made by Tommee Tippee, which is a name I remember from the 70's when my children were small and I was surprised to see how the cup had changed over the years.
The cup is a pretty pink, although I think you can get it in green and blue instead of the yellowy orange I remember. Described as a first cup it is suitable from 4 months onward. The lid is quite tight fitting, which saves baby knocking it off and spilling the contents, but the improvement in the mouth piece is worth a mention as it folds down to save spillage if you are travelling. This is described as free flow drinking, and although occasionally my little Granddaughter has spluttered when she takes too much, it is better than having to suck on a cup which has valves as they learn how to drink and swallow. On the opposite side to the mouth piece is shaped lip which allows you to take the lid off easier to empty and wash.
The handles are quite narrow and easy to grasp, two handles are much better for young children, and this is quite a light cup to pick up. The plastic is see through and has a measure on the side, up to 170mls, so if you are diluting juice it can be done accurately.
It is easy to wash, and can be sterilised by heat treatment or liquid steriliser, or as baby gets older just by washing in hot soapy water and rinsing.
The cup we have was bought from Kiddicare and cost £1.99, but is available in Tesco for £1.79 and other shops. The recommended cost is £2.49. There are other cups as baby gets older but for a first cup I think this is a great little cup at a good price and can be used without the lid when baby gets better at drinking.
Any disadvantages? Well not sure if I can blame the cup or the design of the high chair, but on the tray of the high chair is a deep hole for the cup but the handles make this cup too big to fit in! Otherwise I can't fault it and my little 7 month granddaughter holds it very well and enjoys drinking her water.
Baileys Irish Cream was created by Gilbeys of Ireland and is a popular liqueur. The original Baileys has been used to create new flavours and Biscotti is the latest liqueur to come onto the market.
Baileys is a mixture of cream, Irish whiskey and chocolate, producing a creamy drink and one you don't need a lot of as it is both rich and has a high alcoholic volume. Biscotti is a twice baked Italian Almond biscuit which used to be served with wine but nowadays is often served with a Cappuccino. Mixed with the Baileys it creates a really lovely drink. All the flavours I love in one small glass!
The taste is a creamy blend of whiskey and almond biscuit which I drank on its own on a cold snowy night and it left a lovely warm feeling as I drank it, comforting and sensually silky. I'm not a great lover of Whisky (Scotch) but do like Baileys, perhaps the Irish Whiskey tastes different! A lot of people drink Baileys over ice, it chills it and dilutes it and gives a different sensation as it is swallowed. The alcohol volume is 17%, which is surprising as it doesn't taste that strong! So my advice is to drink wisely and not have too many! One 50 ml glass is just under 1 unit.
Diageo who own Baileys, are proud that they use and source over 80% of the raw ingredients and packaging in Ireland. The fresh dairy cream is blended with whiskey, sugar and flavourings and the alcohol acts as a preservative giving this liqueur a shelf life of 2 years, even if it has been opened and it doesn't need storing in the fridge.
The bottle is dark brown, with the name Baileys in large letters and a picture of a couple of Biscotti biscuits. I received a free sample bottle from Baileys, but it can be bought in Tesco until December 13th at just £11 for a 70cl bottle, after that date it returns to £13.84. But a 50ml glass - the size of a miniature, still would cost less than £1 so a bargain in my opinion.
Drink Bailey's Biscotti neat, over ice cubes or use to make a cocktail by shaking together 50ml of Baileys Biscotti, 25ml of Kahlua, 25ml of Grand Marnier and some ice. This of course makes it more alcoholic and is about 2.4units. Sprinkle some grated chocolate and orange zest on top to make it look and taste even better. Of course Baileys Biscotti can be used added to a shot of espresso coffee and some steamed frothy milk, to make a hot drink or used when making desserts like Cheesecake or Crème Brulee.
Are there any downsides to this interesting drink apart from being nearly 1 unit a little glass? Well yes, if you are watching your weight! Two x 50 mls glasses add 327 Kcals to your daily total and have 13 grams of fat, another reason not to have too many!
I can't help but wonder why Baileys who already have a Hazelnut flavour didn't just make an Almond flavour, but the Biscotti perhaps sounds more interesting and has a little extra flavour than just almonds.
Would I recommend? Personally yes I would if you like creamy drinks, or it would make an excellent Christmas present for someone who loves Baileys or for someone who likes cooking interesting desserts!
Situated close to a beautiful private beach at Santa Margherita di Pula, the 4 star Hotel Flamingo is a 2 storey white building, with other blocks of buildings with standard bedrooms and the Il Nidi suites near by. It takes about 45 minutes from Cagliari airport which is in the south of Sardinia and there are small local buses running past the hotel to go into Pula, and from there you can catch a bus into Cagliari. A taxi costs about 20Euro to Pula.
The hotel is situated down a narrow Eucalyptus tree lined road, opposite a camp site, apart from a couple of homes there is only a church at the junction with the main road. The camp site had a small supermarket and café which proved popular with many guests for drinks and in the evening for watching football on the television!
Reception and Lounge
The reception of the hotel area was large and airy and the four staff on duty quickly checked everyone in and handed over keys, whilst other staff escorted everyone to their rooms, using golf buggies for people in the annex buildings. There are no lifts and the curved staircase in the main building means disabled people have to stay in the ground floor rooms in the annexes. The rooms in the main building are Superior rooms, some face the sea and pool and others look towards the mountains.
The Reception area opens onto the large lounge area which has several doors leading outside and plenty of comfortable sofas and chairs. In the centre of the area is a glass feature with a bronze flamingo inside and you can look down to the indoor pool in the spa. There is also a small shop which opens during the morning and late afternoon selling mostly souvenirs and beach toys and postcards. A small library area was popular with guests who needed more books. Doors off the far end of the lounge area lead to the main dining room and nearby is the small bar, which has 3 service areas, one being outside in a covered area by the pool, where there is waiter service for the tables set outside too. Hidden behind a huge pillar are the only public toilets in the hotel, one door leads to male, female and a disabled toilet. Considering there are 118 rooms, I did find it surprising that there were only 2 ladies toilets, especially as a lot of the rooms were away from the main building and pool area.
The dining room has different sized tables and you are allocated a table on the first evening for the entire week. Although it is a large area it is divided into sections with archways making it seem more private. Wine and water not consumed will be kept refrigerated for the next day and is ready on the table when you arrive. The first two courses are ordered and the dessert is on a buffet table. Breakfast is served in the Il lantern restaurant which is partly open so you get fresh air but unfortunately also the wasps which were in abundance! There are also tables set near the pool and a few in part of the dining room, but mostly it is set ready for dinner. Lunch is served in the Il Lantern too, but they did have to use part of the dining room towards the end of our week as the wasps were so bad people were being stung and plates of food were covered in wasps! Lunch there was a choice of two starters usually pasta, with plenty of bread, a fish and meat main dish, with vegetables and fruit or a dessert.
The menu for dinner consists of typical Sardinian food. Although usually there was a roast like pork or Turkey, Beef Wellington etc the other choices were more typical of Sardinian food like Rabbit, fish or delicious Roast Monkfish in saffron sauce. The starters were often types of Pasta or risotto and always one or two soups. With the main dish there was a choice of vegetables or a salad, every night the potatoes were served in a different way, one night we had pear potatoes which intrigued me, but in actual fact it was mashed potato shaped like a pear and bread crumbed and fried, with a tiny piece of spaghetti for the stalk. It was lovely to have different vegetables like a little dish of mushrooms, grilled tomatoes or spinach with garlic aroma, a pleasant change from UK hotels who give you carrot and broccoli etc. All the food was cooked nicely and well presented. The desserts weren't quite as good and the choice was often reduced as dishes were finished and not refilled. There was always fruit salad and fresh fruit and usually a huge fruit flan.
Breakfast was served in the Lantern restaurant and outside with tea, coffee and fruit juices set out on a table to help yourself and the rest of the buffet in part of the main dining room. There was always fruit salad, yogurt, breads, scrambled and boiled eggs and cold meats and cheeses. There was also a selection of jams, cereals and croissants, pastries or Madeira cake. We did learn by observation that you could order a cappuccino at breakfast time or an espresso at no extra charge instead of the coffee from the large container, and at lunch time you could get a bowl of salad or ice cream if you ordered it, but no one tells you this!
On the whole the food was very good and we were impressed by the neat way food was served considering how many people were being served at one time. The waiters were a bit erratic at times, plates could be waiting to be collected for a long time as could the chitty with our order on after the MD had taken it. But other times the MD would direct a waiter to serve us or another table when he noticed we were still waiting. I felt a bit more training would have helped, but perhaps they were getting tired after a busy summer and were winding down! On our first night it was a Buffet using roast suckling pig and chicken that we had seen being barbecued outside, but it was rather chaotic with queues of people and no plates, or plates would arrive and no jacket potatoes to go with the meat. Fortunately the buffet after that was only at lunch time and for dessert. We sampled delicious Sardinian wine at around 14Euro a bottle and water was about 3Euro a litre bottle.
If you stayed in the Il Nidi suites you could eat in another restaurant, called the Wild Duck away from the main hotel but this had closed for end of season whilst we were there. Other guests could pay extra to eat there if they booked.
There was a large pool and one for children outside the dining and bar area with showers and a gate onto the beach, a reasonable amount of sun beds which were free and some umbrellas, but we preferred to sit on the beach under bamboo shelters on comfy deck chairs. There were two rows of sun beds with a small sun shade for your head which gave at a cost, they could be paid for daily or a block payment of 60Euro which included sun beds for a week, beach towels changed daily and two entrances to the spa. There was another pool away from the hotel near the Wild Duck restaurant, it was very quiet there whilst we were staying. There was a selection of water sports available at extra cost and we enjoyed watching the kite surfers and windsurfers, especially when there was a good wind, but you did need some experience as the wind could be challenging. There was a lifeguard/pool attendant who was very quick to act the one day when an umbrella blew from the pool area over a high fence and onto the beach, fortunately no one was injured, but the wind from the land was very sudden and very strong and he immediately rescued the umbrella and raised the red flag for no swimming in the sea. The beach was lovely soft sand and very clean, but there was a drop down into the sea and some pebbles before you could get out to swim. There also was quite a strong current at times and you could feel the drag on your legs as you walked along.
There was a Gym across from the main hotel, a reasonable size with lots of new equipment, I looked inside but didn't participate.
Had we been earlier in the year we could have taken part in aerobics in the pool and beach volley ball etc but the team had finished just as we arrived. (Whew! Wasn't I lucky!)
Our bedroom was a good size Superior room with a view of the sea and pool. The balcony had a small table and two comfortable wicker chairs. There were two single beds with a shelf/headboard which proved useful for a glass of water for during the night. There were two wardrobes either side of the bed with 2 drawers and a shelf, with a safe inside the one- at no extra charge! There was a blanket if needed although we found the sheet warm enough and used it as an extra pillow, but full marks to the staff we were given extra pillows the next day. There was a long table with a large mirror in a turquoise painted frame on the wall above, the TV and a lamp were on the table and a spindly metal chair tucked under it, also a cupboard containing the mini bar. But only one wicker chair inside the room. The bathroom looked a little old fashioned in green tiles reminding me of hospital corridors when I was small! It had two levels with the wash basin on the lower level and toilet, bidet and a bath one step up! There were plenty of nice toiletries, the white towels which were thin dried efficiently and linen hand towels were OK. The hair drier was in the bathroom and was alright but not high powered. The floor was tiled and the walls painted cream except for a pretty floral mural on the wall above the bed. Cream bedcovers and curtains and pearly light shades on the lights above the beds and on the wall kept the room light. The sheets were changed every couple of days and the towels were changed daily. There was air conditioning but we had a problem with ours and it dripped onto the floor! Eventually after being given towels to catch the water on the first night and asking at Reception a few times over the next 4 days we got it fixed, but it was a bit annoying.
I didn't see any of the other bedrooms so can't comment on them, but we did walk one evening down past the blocks of standard rooms and found it was a bit "smelly" as if the sewage went into the stream. I was glad we were in the main hotel. I did hear some people complaining that there was a smell in their rooms.
Whilst we were staying there was a wedding and two conference groups in. The wedding was after we had left but guests arrived the previous evening and were rather noisy, two guesses where they came from and it wasn't Italy! The conference group ate in the smaller restaurant on the evening we were there and had meetings in one of the many conference rooms that were on the lower level of the hotel, and the other group of young people had most meetings and their meal in the other restaurant which was then closed to ordinary hotel visitors.
I love to be pampered but hadn't decided to go and book anything until towards the end of the week. The Spa was down a slope from the entrance or reached down stairs from inside the hotel. There was a pool which I saw a couple swimming in and lots of small rooms for treatments. I booked in for a special offer which I thought looking at the Italian list that it was reflexology which fitted in with the time slot that was available the next day, I had wanted a massage but it took too long. When I arrived the following morning I was escorted by a lovely young man to a small room subtly lit with candles and he spoke in Italian and signed that I was to remove my clothes, put on a miniscule black pair of paper pants and lie on the couch, covering myself with the towels! All this for reflexology! He came back later and gave me a very good massage that really helped the pain I suffer in my neck and shoulders. I never did get the reflexology! The prices were similar to Spa's in this country.
Having stayed in the north of the island we knew that there was a relaxed feeling to service and having read other reviews we were open minded and relaxed about things but having said that occasionally I wanted things to happen - like sorting the dripping water which made the floor dangerous. The food was really good most of the time, sometimes the lunch choice was a bit depleted, but if you waited more food would be brought through from the kitchens.
But the beach was beautiful and it was just the right place for a relaxing holiday which was what we wanted and my massage in the Spa was top class. The staff were friendly and very patient as we tried to order in Italian, getting better each day!
A good base if you want to hire a car and drive to other beaches and to see the ancient sites but equally good if you want to just relax and not leave the complex. I would have loved to have sampled the other restaurant but would need to go earlier n the year.
PS. Only bronze Flamingos in the hotel but we did see lots of flamingos on the way to the hotel close to the road.
Cooking from scratch doesn't have to take ages, especially if you cheat a little by using a packet of couscous! Although it doesn't take any longer to prepare plain couscous, a packet of flavoured adds a bit more interest to the taste and is easy for people who don't like experimenting.
My packet of Morrison's couscous is flavoured with mushroom and garlic and certainly went well with grilled gammon steaks and vegetables, and it was all cooked in 15 minutes. It was purchased from Approved Foods at a reduced price as it was out of date but I don't think it is very expensive to buy.
The sachet has a picture of the finished product and a lot of writing on it, which makes it difficult to see that it is actually Mushroom and Garlic. On the reverse is a recipe for Stuffed courgettes and also the basic instructions, ingredients and nutritional values.
There is 88% dried couscous, 1.8% dried mushrooms. 0.3% garlic powder and various spices and flavourings. If you eat half of the packet - which gives a very decent helping then you consume 209 calories, so not very good for diets! But there is 2.4grams of fibre and the equivalent of 1 gram of salt. There is just 1.7 grams of fat.
It is quick and easy to make, the contents are emptied into a pan and you need to add 7fl oz of boiling water and can also add 2tsp of vegetable oil if you wish. I think this actually helps to keep the grains separate. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and leave for 5 minutes off the heat. Then return to heat and stir with a fork for 5 minutes until separated and hot right through.
It is brown in colour so may put people off but the smell is lovely and you can see pieces of dark mushroom. The flavour is good, quite garlicky which I like as I love garlic, the texture is soft couscous which is easy to eat. You can eat it hot or cold, I like it hot, but you can serve with salad and add some chicken pieces or prawns to make it more interesting.
Verdict, if you haven't time to make plain couscous a bit fancier and flavoursome then go for a packet, you can't go wrong! And it's suitable for vegetarians too.
Apologies for people who don't know how Taggart says Murder!
Glamis castle is in Angus, Scotland just 5 miles from Forfar (the home of Forfar Bridies) and reputedly is where Macbeth murdered King Duncan according to Shakespeare's play. It is open from 10am in April to October and 11am in November and December.
Glamis castle looks rather more like a French Chateau than a Scottish castle due to the fact much work has gone on over the centuries. It has been the family home of the Earls of Strathmore since 1372 when it was given to Sir John Lyon, now the Bowes-Lyon family. The original Tower house still remains at the centre of the castle. Glamis was the childhood home of the late Queen Mother and Princess Margaret was actually born there.
The ticket booth is at the bottom of a long drive and as you travel along the tree lined drive to the car park you get a lovely view of the Castle against a backdrop of hills. There is plenty of space for children to run and play and to have picnics, as well as walks and a children's play area. Dogs are allowed in the gardens. The Castle tour lasts about 50 minutes and is guided, it costs £9.50 for adults, £7 for children, £27.50 for a family ticket and £8.75 for concessions. We even got an extra £1 of each ticket as we had a leaflet with money off vouchers when visiting other places in the area. If you only want to visit the gardens it is cheaper and you can go in the restaurant, shop and Coach House exhibition. Children are given a souvenir booklet which explains the story of Glamis in a simple and fun way and foreign visitors are offered written translations available in several languages. We had many foreign visitors in the group we went round with and some were rather noisy speaking in their own language but were politely told by our Guide to be quiet as they could read the information as they had been given leaflets but the rest of us needed to hear what she was saying! I was a bit surprised but grateful as I had missed much of what was said in the one room.
The tour goes through 15 rooms, how I wished I had taken a notebook!
The Dining Room
This was installed in the 1850's by craftsmen from northern England. The ceiling was stunning and the plaster was decorated with thistles of Scotland, roses of England and Lions of the Lyon family. There are stained glass windows, wooden panelling and some lovely paintings, including one of the Queen Mother's parents. The huge mahogany table seats 40 guests and is available for corporate events. There was a wonderfully ornate nef or ship centrepiece on the table presented by the estate tenants to celebrate the 13th Earl and his Countesses Golden Wedding in 1903.
This had thick stone walls and a domed roof, here we heard a story about a dark secret of Glamis, as this room hides a secret room which has been bricked up but you may hear cards being dealt as here some of the ancestors lost their souls to the devil by playing cards on the Sabbath. The room is lined with hunting trophies and armour and there is an old well at the bottom of the stairs which was the castle's only water supply although it has since dried up.
The Drawing Room
This is above the Crypt and was originally the great hall. It is a really large room and has an arched ceiling and some old but beautiful plaster work. The walls are 8ft thick and there is an enormous fire place which had two little stools at the sides where the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret used to sit. Again they are some beautiful paintings. In most rooms there can be found the Glamis Lions carved in wood.
We were invited to sit in the chapel and could feel the peace, it is said to be one of the finest private chapels in Europe. The ceiling has amazing paintings on it of the life of Christ and the walls have paintings of the 12 Apostles. Our guide told us that there is a ghost, although she is friendly called the Grey lady and someone was sitting on her seat! She is said to be the ghost of Janet Douglas who was burned at the stake as a witch in 1540 by JamesV. The stained glass window depicts an angel collecting the blood of Christ whilst he was on the cross and is surrounded by roses and thorns and thistles.
The Billiard Room
Apart from an enormous billiard table and huge lights, there are some tapestries and other games. There is also a grand piano and lots of more modern photos. This used to be the Library and some books still remain.
King Malcolm's Room
Named in memory of King Malcolm who died at Glamis in 1034, this room has some embroideries, a fine oak fireplace and samples of china, including a dinner service part of which was a wedding present o the Queen and Prince Phillip, but they returned it to keep it complete as it was made in China in 1770.
The Royal Apartments
In 1923 the Countess converted part of the castle into private apartments for her daughter the Queen Mother and her husband, they remain much as they were then. The wonderful four poster bed has a cover embroidered by the Countess with roses and thistles and the names of her 10 children are embroidered inside the canopy! The sitting room looked comfortable enough to relax in, but the King's Room had a very small four poster bed, although we were told this was a study and dressing room rather than a bedroom and has some of the most valuable pieces of furniture.
A ghost of a small boy servant is often seen waiting patiently on a stone seat just inside the Queen Mothers Sitting Room.
This was quite small and a bit dull and cold feeling. Everyone entering the Castle came in this way and it also had a stuffed bear that was reported to have been a pet at one time. Duncan is said to have been killed here.
We ended the tour in a room full of exhibits in glass cases that were quite interesting to look at and a lovely dolls house.
Other things to do at Glamis
There is a restaurant in the former Victorian Kitchen, using fresh local produce and also a kiosk with ice cream, coffee, sandwiches etc. There was a small shop selling local food and also a larger shop with the usual Scottish gifts.
The coach house exhibition had a short video about Glamis castle and the exhibition changes each year, we saw various Royal wedding dresses which were lovely to see.
The Italian Garden was well worth visiting and fortunately the rain stopped to allow us to enjoy it. I loved the beech trees which had grown together to make covered walkways.
We walked down to the Princess Margaret memorial and along part of the Nature trail and Pinetum. The trees were named so you could learn a bit more about them and although we didn't see any red squirrels or roe deer they can sometimes be spotted. We didn't have time to walk down to the Walled garden which is being restored, but walked to see the towers and Sundial in the garden.
The toilets - I only went in the ladies were busy but fairly clean, and there is a toilet for disabled people but unfortunately the Castle tour isn't suitable for disabled people because of the stairs, although the gardens and restaurant were accessible.
I enjoyed my visit to Glamis Castle and found it very interesting because of the connection with the Queen Mother. Our guide certainly knew all her facts and was very good at telling us about all the ghostly and spooky stories. I thought it fairly good value for money as there was a lot to see and you could easily spend all day there in good weather enjoying the walks.
It is possible to buy a special ticket giving you access to Blair castle and Scone Palace at a reduced rate and also throughout the year there are some special events.
If you happen to be in the Angus or Perthshire area I can recommend Glamis castle as a place to visit.
Also on Ciao under my name jo145 with some photos!
My baby Granddaughter has quite a lot of books already, even though she is not quite 4 months old. One I like reading to her is called That's not my puppy and it is an Usbourne book, written by Fiona Watt and illustrated by Rachel Wells. The book is made of board and about 6.5" square. The outer front cover is red and shiny with a picture of a dog which has a hairy coat made of fur fabric so nice to stroke. There is a tiny mouse on the front too, and it is the mouse that can't find his puppy.
There are 4 pages or boards in side the book and each has something textured to feel, so a child can learn what different things feel like. The first puppy is a pink poodle with a fluffy tail, and then the next puppy has bumpy paws and so on. There isn't a lot to read, but it is repetitive making it excellent for young children, each page saying "That's not my puppy" and the reason why - like It's collar is too shiny or It's ears are too shaggy.
My Granddaughter can stroke the different textures and look at the pictures, with help but obviously her span of attention is short but she is happy to listen, look and touch. As a child gets older they can look for the little mouse on each page and learn new words of other things in the pictures like butterflies, leaves, bumble bees and the dog's bone. Teaching the different colours and counting things can also make this book suitable for toddlers as well. It is a little too heavy for really young children to hold so help is needed.
Usbourne are well known for excellent things for children and this book doesn't disappoint. It is a strong book and hopefully will last several years as my Granddaughter grows up. She is quite used to dogs already as my daughter has a rather large "puppy" that is very protective to this baby who has got lots of toys that he can't play with, books don't interest him fortunately!
This book has a recommended price of £5.99 and ISBN 978-0-7460-3778-2 , but is available on Amazon at only £3.67 with free delivery or used from only 1penny plus £2.80 postage.
This is one in a series of touchy feely books and although they will be similar they are slightly different and fun to read and touch.
You might think that 4 months is too young to have books but it has been proved that the more words children hear the better they will be at speaking. It will also help when they are learning to read and they learn different concepts like numbers, letters and colours. It also is a special time when your baby or child is sitting close to you, hearing your voice and sharing something that is fun and hopefully teaching them that books are worth reading.
I would imagine that most parents tell their children how things were when they were young. I know I have, but Sophia has never spoken about her childhood. She only admits to have grown up in a small village in Crete before moving to London. Her daughter, Alexis Fielding has decided to go on holiday to Crete with her long term boyfriend, who she feels she doesn't really love and her Mother gives her a letter to take to an old friend, and promises that through her friend she will learn more about her childhood.
Alexis suddenly tells Ed, that she is going away for the day and leaves him at the hotel and makes the long journey to the small fishing village called Plaka, which was her Mother's home town. Alexis is surprised to see that the deserted island of Spinalonga, which was once the enforced home to many lepers in Crete is not far out to sea and goes on a visit there. Something I am told from a friend that you can actually do now.
After a refreshing drink she asks where she can find Fotini and soon discovers her Mother's old friend, who was expecting her and knows she has along story to tell to Sophia's daughter.
The story unfolds over many days and Alexis doesn't really think to let Ed know that she is staying longer. She discovers all about Eleni, her Great Grandmother and her family, the connection with the Island and about other families. About secrets which were kept for many years and why her Mother kept quiet about her childhood.
I liked the way the story was told starting with the present as Alexis prepares to go on holiday, then most of the story is in the past, and I was really hooked here, and thoroughly enjoyed the details about the lepers on the Island, learning things I knew little about. This was mostly seen through the eyes of Maria who was Sophia's aunt. Then finally it goes back to the present.
I have never been to Crete but I felt I could imagine what it was like, how the simple houses were furnished and what they did in their daily lives. How Maria's fisherman father rowed over to the island each day with food and transporting a Doctor who worked there.
Of course I won't tell you the ending, you'll need to read the book to see if Alexis finds out all about Sophia's childhood and her family secrets which she has never shared and what happens with Ed who was deserted on his holiday.
Victoria Hislop's first novel "The Island" is an international bestseller. It was selected for the Richard and Judy Summer Read, and won Victoria the "Newcomer of the Year" Award at the Galaxy British Book Awards 2007. It has been translated into more than a dozen languages.
This is a story with secrets, lies, deceit, scandal and of course love! And unusually leprosy. This made it a bit different to the usual love story but I would say it is a book for the ladies, and a good one to take on holiday or read on a long journey. It has 473 pages and can be picked up at reduced prices on Amazon or eBay, although was originally £7.99.
I enjoyed it, I know several others who enjoyed it too, so can recommend this for a good read slightly different to your usual love stories.