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johnboyle007

johnboyle007
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Member since: 19.06.2009

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    • Silverandjewels.co.uk / Online Shop / 8 Readings / 7 Ratings
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      24.03.2010 19:41
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      support a small website

      I came across this site by chance whilst looking for a birthday present for my sister. I have made one purchase from the site and everything went ok.

      The site looks like it is a small business just starting out . It has a number of pieces of sterling silver jewellery pendants, bracelets and ear rings. Everything is well laid out on the site some of the photos look small but you can click on them and they enlarge to give a clear picture of the jewellery

      Some of the jewellery does match and where they do it is described but their is no link so you have to search but no big deal

      Being a small site I had a look at the returns policy and it looked very fair and clear . Payment is by card through use of PAypal. This might put some people of but as I use Paypal on ebay it was not an issue for me.

      I placed my order and it was acknowledged straight away. I received the necklace about three days later the package arrived in a jiffy bag. The necklace was in a velvet bag as promised and was identical to what I ordered.

      For a small site I was concerned it might be bad service or the necklace would be a bit shoddy but the proof of the pudding is in the service and I had no complaints.

      They could do with adding some more items and perhaps some of the photos could be better but overall I think they have some good jewellery it is aimed at the mid market not £1.99 Primark stuff so if you want a nice present give it a go

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    • SJ Railways / Transport International / 6 Readings / 6 Ratings
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      05.03.2010 13:30
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      Easy travel option

      I have visited Sweden now several times in recent months and have used the train at least once on each occasion. The route I have taken is Stockholm to Vasteras which is about an hour's journey.

      Stockholm Central is a big old style railway station with a massive central area with shops down one side. The process for booking a ticket is very simple you can either queue and buy your ticket, the staff tend to be fluent in English or have at least the basics. Linguistic skills across Europe do embarass us English.

      The other choice is to use automatic machines which are plentiful near the booking office. When you use this you cn select English as the language which makes things a lot easier. A tip when you are typing in your destination you have to use the spelling as in swedish . So typing in Vasteras does not show up as my destination you have to use the a with double dots etc

      The machine takes all credit cards.

      Once you have selected your journey ticket and receipt printed off.

      Swedish trains are a mixture of new and old. First trip was on a modern double decker coach which gave great views of a very snowy and cold Sweden. Second journey was by an older train loco hauled. The coach was clean but looked like it was from the 1970s and the seats weren't as comfortable.

      Punctuality is important and every journey I made left and arrived on time despite weather conditions minus ten one morning

      On board the train I did not explore but the toilet were clean. Ticket inspectors were friendly and polite and switched to English when they realised.

      Swedish Railways overall was good experience and easy to use and despite what many people say meet the standard of UK railways

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    • BT Accelerator Plate / Modem / 13 Readings / 11 Ratings
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      16.12.2009 14:34
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      worth every penny

      I have been having trouble with broadband speed since I first switched from Dial Up to Broadband. Lots of tweaking , optimising software, accelerator software but no joy I was at best getting 1MB against advertised 8MB. Downloading an 30 minute program from BBC iplayer could take up to 3 hours and watching a program by streaming was impossible as it would keep buffering.

      In a magazine I saw an article about the BT Accelerator Plate and how it could boost line spped by upto 2MB. Out of desperation I went online to BT website and purchased one for £7.95 including delivery. A few days later it arrived, at first was concerned as there was no installation instructions. Looking at it though it was obvious what you did.

      You remove the two screws from your existing phone socket take off the plastic cover. The i-plate plugs into the socket and you then screw the cover back on using the two screws provided as they are longer. That is it.

      You should check on the BT website that the phone socket you have is suitable as some older sockets cannot take the plate. My house in 13 years old so for vast majority this should not be an issue.

      There is no impact immediately as for some technical reason the impact takes a week or so. If anyone can explain please do. So about a week later I went to download a program and it said 10 minutes download time a mistake I thought but no it took just under 10 minutes. Finally a gadget that does what it says. Let me go on the TV and shout the joys of the iplate. I checked line speed and it was showing 4MB. About a week later I checked again and it was showing 6MB. Happiness abounded in our household.

      It is now possible to watch TV streaming and to view video without any buffering. Would I recommend this product yes I would and very loudly.

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      16.12.2009 09:33
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      stay for convenience only

      For the first time I have to say I was disappointed at a Holiday Inn hotel. The only reason to choose the hotel is because you have an early morning flight or you area rriving late. There is nothing around the hotel it is adjacent to a office park. Do not use it as a base to visit Brussels.

      There is a train station 5 minutes walk with regular links to Brussels or a taxi is about Euro40.

      To get to the hotel there is a shuttle bus but I could not find it at the airport. I have been to Diegem where the hotel is numerous times so my tip for travellers is if you get a taxi ( about Euro12 ) do not tell the driver where you are going until you are in the taxi as they will complain loudly at you - they want the Euro40 into Brussels. Additionally, there is a common con where when you arrive if fare is Euro12 and you offer Euro15 they will say they have no change. So bring some change with you

      Anyway back to the hotel. Positive point is it is about Euro100, competitors at Diegem charge up to Euro160 for similar service level. Reception is one person so you quite often have to wait which is not a problem after all we British made queuing an art form. When I went to the room did my usual bathroom check and it was a worn and tired bathroom. I unloaded my bag switched on TV and guess what it did not work. Later I then turned on the electric radiator which warmed up about six inches or air around the radiator. So no TV and no heating not happy. HI Express generally do no meals but do have a vending machine and a bar in reception so to get a meal I went around the corner to the proper Holiday Inn for a good steak dinner.

      Next morning I had a standard continental breakfast in the restaurant area which is a freebie in the room price. Good adequate selection of food, cold meats, pastries and a selection of hot drinks

      Overall HI Express has a high occupancy rate and the rooms are in need of a refurb as a result. It is a functional hotel but not one I would stay at if on holiday.

      Since this first visit I have since stayed there again this time TV worked but same ineffective radiator and tired room.

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      16.12.2009 09:26
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      Does what it says onthe label

      My experience is limited to Terminal 5 which is used for Scandinavian flights and full cost airlines such as BA and KLM. Budget airlines are located in Terminal 2. I arrived at the airport by taxi so it was a simple case of out the door and into the Check in Hall. There is also a good selection of public transport in the Arlanda Express train ( 20 minute journey from centre of Stockholm ) and bus longer but cheaper. Taxi to centre of Stockholm is about 450 SEK so quite pricey if you are on a cheap weekend trip

      Arrival at Arlanda is without incident we arrived on time straight to the gate and bags were being offloaded before the passengers got off. When you had walked around to the baggage claim the conveyor was just starting and the bags soon after appeared. There are a couple of money exchange places in the baggage hall as well as a couple of cashpoints. The cashpoint enabled you to change language if needed to help you withdraw money. Usual caveat airport exchange rates are not very good so get your money before you travel.

      Check in is the usual arrangement. Scandinavian has use of one end of the hall and other airlines are at the other. The check in staff guide you towards the use of self check in terminals. If on a direct flight I will use them but if I have to change planes and use a different airline I prefer to talk to a human and check in - call me old fashioned I know. Check in was usual series of questions about packing bags etc and was done in a polite, friendly way . Straight through passport check and then through security, what was noticeable given it was 5pm was that there was no queues a reflection in drop in passenger numbers.

      Once through security you have no choice but to walk through the duty free shop before you enter terminal proper. There is a good selection of shops but all the usual high prices that you expect at the airport. With the way exchange rates have gone bargains are few and far between. Alcohol even when on offers is still more expensive than at the supermarket.

      The terminal is spacious and plenty of clean comfortable seating was available. A quick visit to the loo and no complaints there except that the prevalence of recycled toilet paper in Europe does cause me issues. Terminal 5 was re-opened earlier in 2009 so you would expect and you do get a modern, clean terminal building.

      I walked up to the gate fortunately only a short walk and as I arrived the gate was opened for boarding. Usual rush of passengers but it was all done efficiently by the two staff members.

      Arlanda Terminal 5 is a modern hassle free terminal and took some of the stress away from the usual transit of an airport.

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      • SAS Scandinavian Airlines / Airline / 3 Readings / 2 Ratings
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        16.12.2009 09:24
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        airline needs an overhaul again

        I have recently used SAS as they used to be called between Brussels and Stockholm., With the squeeze on travel costs I made the journey in economy class both ways. On SAS flights you have three classes Business, Economy Extra and Economy. I was in Economy. The flight was about 2 hours so not complaining.

        Check in at Brussels was easy as I had already checked in online and had printed off the boarding card. Scandinavian flight was departing from Terminal A which is a good 15 minute walk which involves descending three sets of escalators a travelator through the tunnel and then up two flights, to break the journey you pass through security. Something to bear in mind if restricted mobility an issue PS There are lifts.

        Arriving at the gate the flight boarded about 20 minutes before scheduled take off. The crew gave a friendly welcome. Plane was a 737 600 with standard seat pitch . It was clean. In flight service wasn't an issue for me as I had eaten before flying but had I wanted to there was a selection of sandwiches, snacks and drinks both soft and alcoholic. Pricey but they do have a captured market beer 60 SEK , coffee and muffin 45 SEK , coke and crisps 35 SEK .

        By the time you had walked around to the baggage hall the bags were starting to arrive. Scandinavian claim that only 5.8 bags out of a 1000 were misplaced in September no idea how that compares to other airlines but I did wonder how 0.8 of a bag went missing

        The return flight was much the same. Having said that my flight was at 17.20 and I arrived at 16.40 and was still able to check in, clear security and get to the gate in time. So big plus point to Scandinavian for allowing that something that would not happen Easyjet / Ryanair. It is a reflection of state of airline industry that queues have disappeared at security points I guess

        In summary Scandinavian has nothing to distinguish themselves as an airline, they provide a service full stop. The ex President of SAS wrote a book about quality of service and how staff should see every contact with a customer as a "moment of truth" ( title of the book if I remember correctly ) it would appear that the training given then is now long forgotten.

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        16.12.2009 09:23

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        good hotel would stay here again

        A late arrival in Stockholm meant staying near to the Central Station so I could get an early morning train. The Nordic Sea is located about 20m from the exit from the Arlanda Express which runs from the airport so it has a big plus point in being easy to reach.

        It is a very modern hotel and appears to have a mixture of tourists and business people. Room rates are 1650 SEK a night which included breakfast. Usual reception area with ultra modern designer lighting - gave me a headache the changing colours. Very efficient couple of minutes to check in and then pointed to the lift. The hotel has a nautical theme and this is reflected in the rooms. The door to your room opens out into the corridor and as you enter you realise why the room is like a cabin on a North Sea ferry about ten feet long and the width of a bed. Oh forgot to mention it was a bunk bed !. Just like on a ship there are outside rooms available with a window, no doubt for a little bit extra

        When the door was shut I thought good job I am not claustraphobic as there was no window to the room. Bathroom check small but sparkling. I liked the room very Swedish clean and functional. Despite being busy I found the hotel very clean and quiet

        Breakfast was included in the room price and it was aq very good selection of fruits, cooked breakfast english style bacon sausage and egg, selection of breads and a good range of hot and cold drinks.

        It is a quirky hotel and from what I could see on the map well located if you are doing Stockholm as a tourist. One other feature of the hotel is that it has an ice bar. As a hotel guest you pay reduced entry of 150 SEK which includes a free cocktail. Visits are limited to 40 minutes and you get timed entry. The bar is made from ice as are the glasses and furniture and is at a temperature of minus five, twice a year they rebuild the ice features. Did not go in but sounded different. Forgot to add they do provide you with suitable clothing when you go in so no embarrassing freezing your bum to the seat

        Would I stay here agin yes I would for both business and pleasure

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        16.12.2009 09:18
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        stay here again ? yes

        Part of the Scandic chain which has hotels across the Nordic region. It is a mid range hotel chain with top end hotels in the major cities.

        In Vasteras which is a large industrial city about 90 minutes from Stockholm the Scandic is popular with business people as it is convenient for many of the large companies. It is located away from the city centre and is about a 15 minute walk if you want to pop into town.

        Reception is usually manned and booking in was prompt and took only a couple of minutes even though they were busy. There is a small shop in reception to buy those little things you have forgotten e.g. toothbrush and also snacks

        The hotel accommodation is good. Very clean rooms. I always look in the bathroom first because that to me sets the standard for a hotel grotty bathroom usually means not so good hotel. The bathroom reflected the hotel very clean which was good

        The hotel has a full service restaurant offering a good choice of meal. If you order a main meal you get a salad bar trip included. As with most business hotels lots of individuals having dinner but service was still prompt and efficient. Beer another good benchmark was about £6 a pint so not a place for alcoholics to visit

        It is the first time I have used Scandic chain and I will be back in Vasteras in the New Year and will choose to stay here again. Cost 850 SEK

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      • Brussels Airlines / Airline / 13 Readings / 12 Ratings
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        28.11.2009 10:45
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        Would fly with them again

        Brussels airlines was formed out of the demise of SABENA the old national airline of Belgium.

        They offer a very good service out of Birmingham to Brussels with convenient flight times and good onward connections to Berlin.

        I have flown four return trip swith them in recent months and I have found them punctual, reliable and a decent level of service. A lot of the flights I have taken are on Avro jets and if you have carry on luggage avoid seats in middle of aircraft as the lockers are very small due to the plane having overhead wings. The planes are a bit tired but are clean.

        Usual in flight service with selection of drinks and a sandwich. Nothing to write home about but usually tasty and fills a hole when you have missed breakfast. I can remember the days not so long ago when you would get a full breakfast even in economy sigh I am getting old reminiscing about airline breakfast.

        Check in at Birmingham is a doddle if you havent checked in online. If you are in transit through Brussels be prepared for a good 10 minute walk to mofom one terminal to the othe including seral escalators and a trip through security. The transit point is not very well sign posted so ask if not sure

        Check in at Brussels is also straight forward a little busier as it is the hub for Brussels Airlines .

        Another advantage of Brussels Airlines is that they have recently joined the Miles and More scheme of Lufthansa so very useful for the air mile collectors out there

        Overall an efficient airline

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        28.11.2009 10:08
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        good hotel

        Before I start if you are visiting Brussels do not book in here as it is in the middle of an office park and a Euro35 taxi ride to centre of Brussels. The other alternative is to get a train into centre of Brussels from Diegem station a short walk and about a 20 minute ride. If you are looking for a convenient hotel near to the airport then this hotel is ideal.

        This is a very modern HI decorated in the new HI scheme bright white and greens. Reception is very modern and spacious and most important efficient.

        The rooms are very modern and laid out in an untraditional manner with the bed facing out towards the window. Design of the room shows who the target market is with a little office area behind the bed. Rooms again very spacious clean and modern and comfortably heated and aircon

        I used the hotel bar for dinner as nothing else nearby. It is a very limited menu but the choice was ok for me . Clearly you can see it is aimed at business travellers overnighting before an early morning flight. There is a good selection of the commercial Belgian beers which helped to pass the evening. Food was good went for a steak which was a good size and well cooked

        Rooms are pricey Euro140 but keep an eye out for offers on website
        I had a 5am check out due to my flight and so did not get to sample breakfast. Check out was no problem not many people around at that time. Taxi I had ordered was there waiting as I checked out and with that another Holiday Inn stay was ended

        Recommendation ideal for airport not so good as a base for being a tourist in Brussels.

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        26.09.2009 23:36
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        First stop for advice

        It is probably very hard to write a review pointing out anything different from all the comments made but here goes. Martin Lewis has developed probably one of the biggest consumer websites in the UK if not the world. It is probably unique in that it is self funded with no adverts and very unbiased.

        The weekly newsletter is sent out by email and provides lots of news and links to money saving opportunities. Worthwhile getting this

        However the content changes so quickly that there is a separate section called Forums which has content generated by Users which is moderated with quite a strict set of rules.

        Topics include everythiing from competitions tips, upping your income, help for people with money issues , computer help, how to solve problems. I think it is safe to say that whatever problem or query you have related to personal finances or shopping you will find help and advice somewhere in the many forums.

        It is worthwhile visiting the site regular because they have details of many money saving offers from Shops and websites ( Grabbit while you can ) Additionally there are forums which deal with loyalty cards giving advise on how to max your points especially good when people post accidental mistakes by the shops where the points you get are greater than the value of the goods. Boots and Tesco are frequently doing this

        Overall Martin runs a very good website which is driven by user content.
        He has been very supportive in helping people claim back money from the banks and builsing societies over back charges and mortgage mis-selling even creating pro forma letters to help people claim.

        Well done Martin for helping the little consumer fight back

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      • Quidco.co.uk / Internet Site / 8 Readings / 6 Ratings
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        26.09.2009 23:18
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        Go for it you have nothing to lose and everything to gain

        I have been a member of Quidco now for 18 months and have received just under £1200 in commissions less £10. Overall I have to say I am very satisfied with Quidco.

        Like many I heard about Quidco through Money Saving Expert.com and I would like to pass on my tips for you

        registering is very easy all the usual info required including bank details

        Bank details required to pay you your commissions. You can alter the minimum amount to be paid out but be aware if you do change this value it stops you from receiving your money for I think 7 days

        I dropped mine down to £50 so I get regular payouts plus if they do go out of business my loss is not signficant

        Do not let Quidco earnings influence your choice there is a chance that the amount due is not paid. I recommend you do all the usual searches to find the best deal and then when you find a deal you are happy with go back to Quidco and log on and click through to your chosen website to complete your transaction

        It is useful to clear cookies from your PC before you do this because sometimes if you have visited a website and done the comparison bit the cookie from Quidco does not register

        There is quite often a delay between your purchase and teh amount being credited to your account. You can keep a track on the "Earnings " tab of how much and when you have money due

        If you have a query eg amount or a payment is overdue query it straight away as it can take time to resolve queries.

        The £5 fee is taken only after you have joined Quidco and earned at least £5 so really it does cost you nothing

        Keep an eye on moneysaving expert.com in the FORUMS section there is a detailed section showing many ways to earn additional pennies through Quidco often without any purchase being necessary

        I have had a few queries and most have been resolved and a couple went against me but I did not get too concerned because I do not rely on the money I just see it as a bonus. When it was rejected I think probably 50 / 50 blame
        Overall Quidco is very easy to use, pretty reliable on the payouts and a very simple way to make a bit of money on purchases you intend to make anyway

        Long live Quidco

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          26.09.2009 22:47
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          in need of a once over

          As a regular business traveller I clock up quite a few nights with Holiday Inn and I booked a two night stay at Chester using Priority Club points.

          It is easy to access the hotel from the A55 however in busy periods it can be difficult to cross the road
          We were quite disappointed the hotel from the outside looks run down and very 1970s. The staff were pleasant on reception booking in was no problem

          The room was ok when we walked in but was severely let down by the bathroom. It had been refurbished but tiles were missing around the toilet and sink. When we used the shower it would not fully turn off and we suffered a night of dripping shower. We reported it next morning and the handyman obviously looked at it as they had dumped the towels he had soaked on the floor.

          The restaurant was very good - they have an early dinner menu before 7pm with starter and main for £10. Good selection I went for fish and chips my partner for salmon no complaints

          Second night went for room service which again was very good two tasty curries.

          Both mornnings we had buffet breakfats for which you could get a voucher at reception for £9.95 each against normal rate of £15 so not bad. Choice was ok but not as generous as many HIs I have stayed at.

          Parking was fine big car park . If you want to go into Chester the Park and Ride is just across the road. If you want to head into North Wales and Snowdonia you have easy access on teh A55

          Overall the bathroom really let the hotel down the morning we left it still leaked. If staying in Chester area I would opt for the recently renovated Chester West hotel

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          03.08.2009 09:41
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          Reasonable Price for good level of comfort

          I stayed in the Holiday Inn Downtown Shanghai for eight nights last month. I chose Holiday Inn as it is a chain I am very familiar with and I am always confident in the level of service that I receive.

          The hotel is located in central Shanghai opposite the Shanghai Railway Station ( no train noise to worry about ) and is split in two halves The Plaza Wing ( which I stayed in ( and the Great Wall wing ). The two halves are linked via the underground carpark and they will take you in a golf buggy between the two receptions though it is only a one minute walk.

          Plaza reception is very grand lots or marble but more importantly well manned and efficient. When you check in they will take a deposit from your credit card - but it does not deduct any money- this is common practice in hotels here.

          I went up to my room on the 14th floor and it was the standard Holiday Inn room very clean. Bathroom was typical standard with usual range of complimentary toiletries. The bed was firm and lots of pillows.

          From what I understand the Great Wall wing has been refurbished recently and the rooms are much more modern with flat screen TVs etc etc. I was quite happy with comfort level in my room

          The restaurant is located on the third floor and was a clean and spacious dining room. The food choice was excellent. Choice was a la carte with a mix of Western and local dishes or a buffet. I tried both menus. The buffet was my preferred choice and I was able to try a mix of dishes every night. I was daring and can say that steamed bullfrog is a bit chewy and tastes quite plain.

          Staff were very friendly and were attentive to people. I overheard a number of people make observations to the staff and surprisingly they were actioned straight away. For example, I heard one guest say at breakfast that he thought the staff should walk around and ask guests if they wanted more coffee / tea rather than the guest having to call waiter over. Next morning every couple of minutes I was asked would you like more tea or coffee which I thought was good.

          In the reception area there was a small bar and a coffee outlet. The coffee outlet served excellent sponge cake and I felt obliged to have seconds.

          Check out was very efficient no queues. Probably because it was 6am.

          The day before I left I took advantage of the laundry service all your clothes washed and folded for 120RMB. So bargain, that I was able to come home with no dirty washing to speak of. Clothes were picked up from room at 8am and when I returned in the evening they were very neatly bagged and folded.

          Negatives the hotel is located on a busy road 6 lanes in both directions and even on 14th floor traffic noise could be heard at night. But nothing too invasive. It is also located away from the Pudong business district and the tourist bits, but given taxis are so cheap it is not really an issue

          Positives staff very helpful without being overbearing , good food and very reasonable price about £40 room charge a night.

          Overall it is the longest I have stayed in the same hotel for quite a while and I found it very welcoming despite its size.

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        • Diet Chef / Discussion / 16 Readings / 11 Ratings
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          02.08.2009 20:25
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          a partner wanting to know more

          My partner is looking to start the dietchef regime. I have the concern that a restricted diet like this 1400 calories per day is not healthy.

          As a male I have always been led to believe to lose weight effectively do it a couple of pounds a week.

          Can I have some reassurance from people who have done this diet that it isnt harmful heath wise. she enjoys running so how can she get enough calories to keep doing that.

          Can you only eat what is provided as part of the weekly food package or can you supplement it with fruit etc. I guess to have the full benefit you stick to the 1400 a day with no other snacks.

          Do people who do this also take vitamin supplements etc. I would welcome any helpful advice as I want to be supportive on this . I have an existing medical condition which means I cannot join her on this diet. I have spoken to my dietician about this and I await feedback which I will post on her

          thanks to all for your comments in advance

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