- Premium reviews
- Express reviews
- Reviews rated
- Ratings received
Some of the larger Tesco stores have an instore 'Photo Shop' - I am going to review my experience of the Photo Shop at Tesco, Yate.
My partner and I have been talking about getting a photo canvas to go over our fireplace for a while now, however having looked into this, we've found them to be quite expensive, especially for the larger ones - and we want quite a big one.
Going into our local Tesco last weekend, we noticed that they are currently having a sale in their photo shop - with all canvases half price.
We spoke briefly to the assistant about how the process works and he pointed us to a touch screen which takes you through the process step by step. He also pointed out example canvases displayed on the wall and I was quite impressed with the quality. We decided to go home and get our pictures and return to the store whilst the offer was on.
There are two options for selecting photo products, same day delivery (for most common projects) and a longer period for items that aren't made at the store.
The photo canvases were available for same day, and so we went ahead and used the touch screen system.
The process is very simple, with a step by step guide on the screen, which even points out where to insert your photo media. We found the system very easy to navigate without the need for the assistant's help.
After inserting your photo media (be it CD, SD Card, USB, you can even scan pictures), you can select the product you'd like and choose your picture, then you're able to edit your picture. You can crop, remove red eye, autocorrect and even change a colour picture to black and white or sepia. When you are happy with your selection you simply confirm your order following the instructions and enter your name and contact details. The machine then prints a receipt which you then take to the assistant to pay for your order.
We ordered two 50cmX70cm canvases, both half price and totalling £49.98 which I thought was fantastic value for money in comparison to other offers I've come across - I just hoped at this point that I wouldn't be let down by the quality or that the picture didn't get distorted when blown up. We were told to return in 3 and half hours for our pictures.
I was quite impressed that it only took 3 and a half hours to create 2 large canvases and so was feeling quite pleased with myself. We returned some time later to collect our order and both canvases were packaged in a cardboard carry case for protection, which was also quite good - I was expecting a plastic bag.
We got the canvases home and I must say I was absolutely thrilled. They look fantastic and very professional, the mounting to the wooden frame is immaculate and the pictures have not distorted at all.
Since putting our canvases up, friends and family have commented on them and are surprised when we tell them they only cost £25 each.
Overall I am extremely happy with my purchase and keen to try out other products in the range. The process for ordering products is very straightforward and there's plenty of scope for playing around with and adjusting photos at your own convenience. There are several computers in the photo shop so usually there's one available and if you do have any problems the staff are on hand to help.
The photo shop displays examples of most of the products so you can see for yourself before you commit to by and finally, the quality for the amount paid is absolutely fantastic, cannot recommend it enough.
Thank you for reading my review and for anybody interested the half price canvas sale runs until 16th May.
The Las Vegas sign is another must see attraction when visiting Las Vegas and is another thing you can do for free. It is in the middle of the road at the far South end of the strip and is very popular with visitors. It is located on a large strip of green with traffic flowing either side so ensure you use the pedestrian crossings!
During our stay in Vegas, we did a LOT of walking, and our visit to the sign was no exception. We stayed at the Luxor which is at the South end of the strip and is the last but one hotel, so we thought we were quite close and within walking distance.
On leaving our hotel, we asked concierge if we could walk it and how long it would take - 'no more than 10 minutes' was his response. It was more than 10 minutes - we walked for what felt like an age and every time we looked back, the Mandalay Bay hotel still looked just a stones throw away. Distances in Vegas are very deceiving - everything looks close but because the hotels are so big, the distance is actually quite large - the strip being more than 4 miles end to end.
However, the sign is walkable - but depending on where you're walking from you may want to think about a bus/taxi as it was about 20 minutes from the Luxor.
We visited the sign mid afternoon, but I must admit I felt slightly uneasy after we had passed the last hotel, I can't quite put my finger on why but I definitely felt safer in the hustle and bustle of the strip, so wouldn't recommend walking there at night.
When we arrived there were lots of other tourists taking pictures - and it's quite difficult to get a picture of you or your party in front of the sign without some randoms in the background.
Another thing is watch out for is people 'offering' to take your picture. We were approached by a lady who asked if we wanted a picture together (which of course we did) and so she took our picture for us. Very gratefully, we thanked her and began to walk off when she exclaimed, 'tips are appreciated'. Feeling slightly embarrassed for not realising sooner that everything comes at a price, I begrudgingly dug in my pockets and extracted the only money I had on me - $3 - and I can tell you she wasn't impressed! (Personally I feel $3 is quite substantial for taking 1 picture!)
We stayed for around 20 mins, taking lots of pictures and trying to get one of each of us without obstructions (no mean feat) and then we also took pictures of the back of the sign which says 'Thank you for visiting'.
The sign is just as it looks in all the pictures, bright blue and eye catching - so is worth a visit just to say you've seen it, and as it's free I would definitely recommend it.
My partner and I visited Las Vegas in late January of this year for my birthday. Of all the amazing things to do/experience in Las Vegas, the Eiffel Tower Observation Deck was one of my favourites.
The Eiffel Tower, located in the heart of the Las Vegas strip at Paris Hotel, is a half size replica of the European monument in Paris. The observation deck is located 46 floors high and is accessed by elevator which is located inside the Paris Hotel.
Ticket prices vary depending on the time of the visit, with evening tickets more expensive. When we visited, tickets before 6.30pm were $10 each - we decided to visit the tower at around 5.30pm, which in January is when the sun begins to set. As there is no time limit on how long you stay on the deck, we watched the sun set and saw the strip lit up in all its glory for the lower ticket price.
We also had a voucher for a buy one get one free offer meaning for the two of us, it only cost $10! This was a bargain price - the voucher was in the Las Vegas guide, which is a free of charge booklet you can pick up at various locations around the Strip (we got ours at the monorail station).
After buying your tickets, you are allowed access to the escalator which takes you to the elevator entrance. Along your way you are stopped for some pictures, which you can purchase from the kiosk after your visit. We didn't buy this, simply because the picture was taken inside the hotel and not on the observation deck itself.
After this, you are met by a staff member waiting at the elevator, and when the next elevator arrives, you are taken by another staff member to the deck/
The staff at Eiffel Tower were very knowledgeable and had lots of interesting facts to share about the attraction including its history, turnover and number of visitors each year.
Once you arrive at the observation deck, you are left to walk the deck and take in the spectacular 360 degree view of the Las Vegas strip - this is especially spectacular in the night when the strip is lit up.
We watched the Bellagio fountain show, which is a totally different experience in birds eye view compared to street level view and is something I would definitely recommend doing.
Although enclosed by metal railings, there are several 'peep-holes' where you can take unobstructed pictures of the strip and there are also binoculars available for use at an extra price.
For such a small space, the capacity is actually quite large (something like 80 people) and is easy to find a good spot for taking pictures, or just watching strip life.
The deck is a very romantic spot; the hotel even does wedding packages on the deck!
This was one of my highlights of Vegas, and a much cheaper alternative to flying over the strip by helicopter. Fantastic value for money and would definitely recommend as a must do for any Vegas tourist.
Having recently moved to Portishead (England) from Newport (Wales) for work, I thought I'd share my thoughts and opinions of Portishead as a Welsh girl living 'over the bridge'. :)
I'm not going to bore you with the 'what can you do in Portishead?' as there's plenty of websites with that information on but here's a little basic information to be going on with:
Portishead is a town on the Severn Estuary in North Somerset near Bristol, just off Junction 19 of the M5. Historically Portishead was known mostly for it's docks and industrial background, however it is fastly becoming a trendy and popular place to live thanks to the development of the Marina, with many housing developments popping up over the last decade with many more still under construction.
Pros of living in Portishead:
* Location - Beautiful area with plenty of places to walk and lovely surroundings. Also good transport links for any commuters.
* Dining - Plenty of restaurants/pubs with good food (will try to review at a later stage)
* Marina - Lots of boats, working lock, sailing club, surrounded by high spec new build accomodation with trendy bars/restaurants and facilities nearby.
Cons of living in Portishead:
* Cost of living is expensive, parking can be a nightmare!
* No low cost supermarket - we have a waitrose (expensive), a co-op (very poorly stocked), an iceland (which is closed by the time I finish work) and most recently a Lidl. Could really do with a Tesco/Asda/Morrisons/Sainsburys - nearest is at Cribbs Causeway (20min+ drive)
* Nightlife - or lack of it.
As a dog owner, having places to walk nearby is important to me. Here are my top picks:
"The Green" - this is quite literally an expanse of hilly grass and some walk ways outside my house. It is easily accessible and very popular with dog walkers. It has scultures and rocks displaying relics from the Ports former industrial state. It is well maintained and has dog litter bins which are frequently emptied and actually used. My dog loves the green, so many new smells each and every day from all the other doggies enjoying their strolls. I have noticed recently that this has also become the location for a 'bootcamp' session. I like the green as it's convenient and on my door step for poochies toilet breaks :)
"The Windmill" - the windmill is actually the pub next to this walk, but is what me and my partner have named this walk. It's actually the old portishead golf course, but has free parking, a great view over the water and lots and lots of green - brilliant for tiring a springer spaniel out. This is another spot popular with other dog walkers and is also well maintained and clear of any doggy doo doos.
"The Lake Walk" - not too far from the Windmill is Portishead lake, again it's on the edge of the water and popular with all sorts of people - runners (running club meets at the nearby open air pool), families (lakeside play area and cafe), tennis players (courts next to lake), dog walkers and even toy fans - I've seen many a middle aged man playing with his remote controlled boat on the lake. It's a lovely place to visit, again with ample free parking.
"The Beach" - More pebbles, rocks and seaweed than sand but the doggy loves it, you can walk for miles and glance across the water to good old wales, can even see cars driving on the other side on a clear day. It's another beautiful location and again it's free.
The Royal Inn - Prime location with views of the water, lots of outside seating and great food. Perfect place to visit on a summers day when you can sit outside and enjoy the surroundings, however there is a distinct lack of 'lounge' seating inside the pub and unfortunately doesn't have a good old 'pub' atmosphere. The main focus is food and so the only seating is dining tables. No event nights and so not a good place to go for a few drinks and socialising. Lovely food, though slightly on the expensive side - this pub has a slightly stuck up attitude. Best to visit in nice weather so you can sit outside.
The Windmill - Again a prime location. The main part of the pub has a floor to ceiling window giving impressive views over the water. Although this is a family/dog friendly pub (dogs allowed on main floor, family room downstairs, main dining room upstairs), again it's more focused on dining and so not somewhere to go for socialising really. Unfortunately after sampling the food on more than one occasion, my opinion is it's overpriced and not worthy of the price tag, I think you're paying simply for location.
Poacher/Plough - These are located on the high street and are the only 'real' pubs I have so far found in Portishead. The Plough seems to have a 'locals only' vibe and you do not feel welcome when you go in. However it is fairly cheap, has a pool table and a juke box - good old fashioned pub.
The Poacher is my favourite pub, it has a good atmosphere on the weekend and is usually bustling, the only thing it does lack is a pool table (if that's your sort of thing) It has outdoor seating both at the front and back so plenty of space to accomodate pubgoers whereas the plough is a lot smaller.
The Albion - Another pub wanting to be a restaurant, the times I've visited I've felt quite awkward sat at a laid dining table when all I want is a glass of wine - also seems to be the hangout of recently of age teenagers (at least I hope they're of age - they don't look it). If this place had some lounge seating it would improve 100-fold, however the food gets good reviews (though I'm yet to sample any)
Aside from those mentioned above, the only other place in Portishead I've discovered is Jacks Wine Bar. It's located on the Marina and is very trendy and modern. However, it's also very expensive and so is not a place I would start and finish my night (though it's in stumbling distance of my house which is a bonus). A lot of people rave about Jacks and it's very popular with young professionals, I'm yet to find out what all the fuss is about and don't really rate it too highly.
Portishead really isn't the place for shopping, we have a small retail park (New Look, Peacocks, Dreams, Pets at Home, Argos, Homebase) but aside from that there's not really a lot here. However, you're only a short drive away from Cribbs Causeway (about 20 mins) where you can shop til you drop.
The high street is made up of mostly banks, estate agents and charity shops, though there are a few local businesses.
I wrote a chunky paragraph about 'Bottelinos' and 'The Lock Keeper' both restaurants situated on the marina, but accidently deleted it so have decided to review these in more depth separately.
Personally I love Portishead, there is lots of natural perks to the area, as well as all the new and trendy places popping up everywhere. It's perfect for young families with a local school on the Marina and a playground just a short walk away. There's a leisure centre and all your necessities closeby - however for shopping and nightlife you're better off taking a trip into Bristol (£45 taxi return with a local firm - not a bad price!)
I'm hoping that when the time comes to buy a house, I can afford to buy one here. The marina in the summer is beautiful - just like being abroad. There is no litter and I haven't heard police sirens since leaving Newport despite living a few hundered meters from the local police station.
I would recommend a stop off at Portishead to anyone taking a long journey down the M5 simply for the scenery, although if you do live quite closeby and haven't been here yet, do come. It's lovely. :)
I bought this handset from my local Asda store a few months ago. After my expensive touch-screen mobile decided it just wasn't going to work anymore, I decided to buy the cheapest mobile I could find to tide me over until I could afford a decent one again.
I bought this handset for a mere £10, but just a few weeks ago I saw the same handset on sale in Asda for just £5 with £5 credit free! Bargain...
The Samsung brand is a name I've come to trust and over the years I've had several different models, each of which have been durable, sleek and easy to use. They've each lasted me well and none have ever broken on me and the only reason I've changed handsets is to keep up with the trends I suppose.
This specific handset, although extremely basic, has quite a stylish design to it. It is black, silver and quite thin and light. Although I'm usually quite a mobile phone snob, I'm actually not embarrassed to be carrying this phone.
Setting up the mobile was easy, after popping in the sim card and the battery, I found that it already had battery life and I wouldn't need to charge it for the usual 8 hours (although this is recommended). After turning the phone on simply enter the date and time and you're away.
The mobile automatically locks itself when not in use, to unlock simply press and hold the * key.
On your main screen you are shown the signal strength in the top left corner, battery life in the top right, date and time respectively under these and then the service provider name at the bottom.
The bottom left hand corner you have 'Menu' and bottom right 'Contacts'.
Press the button under Menu and you will be taken to a screen with 9 icons. This phone is very basic but more than adequate for what I use it for, which is predominantly texting. The 9 menu options are:
On first use, the menu will automatically highlight 'Messages', I won't insult your intelligence telling you what the options are for but the Game is 'Sudoku' and Applications include the likes of a calculator, convertor, etc.
If you just want a phone for the basic calls and texts then this is the phone for you, the battery life is fantastic and lasts more than two weeks when fully charged. If you want all these techy applications and 8mpx Cameras then obviously avoid this phone at all costs. But for me it's perfect, cheap to buy and cheaper than a contract phone, I used to always go over my allowance and have costly bills each month, but taking a technology step backwards and reverting to Pay as You Go has stopped me using my phone willy-nilly and has made me take advantage of the free landline calls I get with my home phone package whereas in the past I would of picked up my mobile for pure convenience and out of laziness.
I must also add that this phone is extremely durable, last week I stripped my bedding without realising the mobile was there and it ended up taking a 30 degree spin in the washing machine, amazingly it came out working... it hadn't even turned itself off!! Whereas my friend's expensive contract phone took one swift dunk in a hot tub and died completely.
Overall I would definitely recommend this phone, but if your looking for snazzy and full of different functions, this isn't for you.
It was way back in 2000 that Christina Aguilera burst onto the international music scene, but back then she wasn't the outrageous artist that we all love or hate today, she was a stereotypical all american girl. With her girl next door looks combined with her innocence and a massive voice, Christina was obviously going to be an international superstar.
Despite critics claims that her debut album was boring, dull and lacked the adventure and individuality of her follow up 'Stripped', it was actually a pretty solid piece of work.
The genre of the album is predominantly pop but has elements of r'n'b and soul too. Christina's first single release was 'Genie in a bottle', a fairly good tune but a bit deceptive as to the extent of her talent as it doesn't really showcase her fabulous voice.
The follow up 'What a girl wants' is similar in the way that it is an undeniably good song, but not exceptional.
It was the third release 'I turn to you' that really showed the world Christina's talent. A slow song with some huge notes that she belts out with real emotion. Unfortunately, this song didn't really get the credit it deserved.
Christina's final release was 'Come on Over', a more upbeat song with more of a dance element to it and started to shape Christina's persona as she really made this song her own and stamped her brand all over it. This was also the turning point for Christina's adventurous side, this video shows her with red streaks in her blonde hair and skimpy, tighter clothes.
Another song from the album people may recognise is 'My reflection', the theme song from Disney's Mulan. A powerful emotional song which shows the world just what a fantastic, strong singer Christina is. This, along with 'I turn to you' and an unreleased track 'Obvious', are the songs which really show just what a good artist she is.
'So emotional' has more of a soulful sound in contrast to the rest of the album and was a song with a bit more edge.
'Love for all seasons' was lacking a bit and could've been given to any artist and not somebody who has so much more potential. However, this being said, it flows with the album and is easy to listen to.
'Somebody's Somebody' is a more feisty and funky song, very catchy with the power in her voice returning along with a more r'n'b element than the dominating pop.
'When you put your hands on me' is a disappointing effort in my opinion, it had nothing unique about it and was distinctly average.
'Blessed' is similar to 'Love for all seasons' in the sense that it lacks a little. However, it's simple lyrics combined with Christina's voice just about rescues it. I don't think it's a song that you would miss had it not been included though.
'Obvious' the closing track of the album is a slow powerful ballad and is great closure to the album as it leaves you with the strength of her voice and her ability stuck in your mind. It's my favourite song on the album.
Overall, despite a few tracks that were a bit boring and average, it's a pretty good debut and gave an idea of what Christina was vocally capable of.
Spots. Blackheads. Dry patches. Greasy T-Zone. Pale. Freckles.
What does that sound like to you? The godfather of bad skin? Every female's worst nightmare? Well unfortunately, that is my face in a nutshell. Unlike my gorgeously flawless olive skinned younger sister, the above is what I have been 'blessed' with. As you can imagine, applying make-up to such an extremely problem prone area is no mean feat and being the make-up novice I am I generally try to avoid anything that's not designed for use on the eye area.
However, there does occasionally come a time when I have to try and make the effort and apply some slap. Take my 21st birthday for example, the celebrations started with a meal at a posh hotel with my family and my boyfriend. I couldn't go with my usual horrific complexion; it was time to invest in a foundation that would fake the flawless skin I so desperately craved.
After consulting a fellow fair skinned friend whose makeup is always immaculate, I decided to give L'oréal Paris True Match Minerals a go, a mineral powder with 'No Perfume, No Preservatives and Foundation-like Cover'. It was what she regularly used and recommended, and as she has the same pale colouring as me, I opted for her colour of choice 'W1 Ivoire Doré / Golden Ivory'
The price was what I considered to be rather expensive for such a product, but as I am not a beauty buff and have no idea what a reasonable price is for foundation, I paid the £10.99 Boots price tag and took my miracle pot home with me.
The product packaging is quite small (about 3 inches) but only a third of that is actual product. The rest is a brush head which screws onto a pot of powder with a sieve like lid. There is then a plastic lid that clicks on to protect the brush. The brush is very good quality and doesn't moult even with regular use and the powder is very fine and doesn't clump together at all.
Application was easy enough, even for me. Simply shake the pot (with the brush screwed on and the lid on or else you'll end up with powder everywhere!) then unscrew the brush and dab into the powder and brush onto your skin.
The product claims to even skin tone and whilst I have read bad reviews about it not living up to its claims, I truly believe that it does even skin tone, even mine. After applying, my skin was smooth and appeared fault free, despite the spots, freckles and patches lurking underneath.
I must admit, although I do have a lot to rave about with regards to this powder, it does have its downsides. Firstly I would advise to apply it before dressing, simply because of the mess it makes, even the smallest amount of powder on the brush applied directly to your skin results in powdery dust falling onto all nearby surfaces, including that gorgeous new white top you're wearing... If you do apply it before dressing I would then advise you be careful pulling your top over your head as the powder will come off and mark it. Another method I would suggest is to lean forward, so that your head and shoulders are as far away from your body as possible, this is how I usually avoid the falling powder storm as I never manage to pull my clothes on after applying makeup without marking them.
As you can imagine, a lot of product is lost from falling as you apply, but unfortunately this is something I haven't found a remedy for. That being said, I bought my first pot about 2 months ago and still have plenty left - though I only use it on the weekends or if I'm going somewhere nice during the week, my skin is too sensitive for constant application and removal of make up.
Durability wise, I think it's also quite good; on a night out I never reapply even though my friends are in the club toilet mirrors slapping their seventh layer on. By the time I get home, the only thing giving me away is my eyeliner which always manages to work its way anywhere bar my eyes. If you were to wear it for day and night though, you would need a second application by night.
Having just checked on Boots.com I can see that it is currently priced at £13.99! In my opinion expensive, but as I am yet to find anything with results to match those of this product, my next purchase will definitely be L'oréal Paris True Match Minerals.
I have rated 4 stars because I think this is a fabulous product, the reason I haven't given the full five stars is due to price and wastage, but I would definitely recommend it.
Everybody knows the Asda name, it's one of the most popular supermarkets in Britain and regularly tops value supermarket polls and wins 'Cheapest Supermarket' awards and the like. If you're a regular shopper at Asda, you already know they sell good quality products at low prices... but what about Asda Living?
Asda Living is a new concept recently introduced to various British cities by the superbrand. It's a branch of the company that cuts out the supermarket bit and concentrates on their clothing ranges, homewares and entertainment. And with it's popularity being proven, Asda Living is expanding and being introduced in various other parts of the country (see the website for more details).
The branch of Asda Living I'm reviewing is based in Newport Retail Park, Newport. Asda Living, Newport, is spread over two floors. The ground floor has an extensive range of clothing for men, women and children and also has a shoe and underwear section, along with a cosmetics and accessories section.
The various brands you would find in your local Asda are found here, such as George and G:21, but you have a lot more choice and plenty of stock (I usually find the supermarkets run out of my size quite quickly). The choice at Asda Living for clothing is as good as any other reputable clothing store but like the supermarket, is fantastic value for money. I bought a gorgeous Mickey Mouse t-shirt for £6 when similar styles were being sold in the likes of River Island for up to triple the price! My boyfriend also purchased a MINI tshirt for the same price which he has had lots of compliments on. I would definately recommend paying a visit to this store for clothing, especially if you like to keep up with the trends but are on a tight budget.
As well as fashion clothing, you can also find smart tailored clothing for work and special occasions in both the men and women sections. I bought myself a pair of black Mary-Janes for £8 and despite wearing them to work 5 days a week for several months, they are still in very good condition, bargain!
There is also a changing room available so you can try things on and a 30 day returns policy if you decide that pink sequin top isn't for you after all...
The top floor consists of homewares such as ornaments, bedding, soft furnishings and furniture for every room in the house, greetings cards and stationery, books, DVDs, CDs and anything else you need for home entertainment. At the moment, in my local store there are fantastic offers on 32" plasma TVs. They also stock seasonal items and at present there are 2 burner gas barbecues on sale for just £30. Also in stock is camping equipment and barbecue/picnic accessories at low prices so we can enjoy the British summer while it's here (how long before the rain comes back again ey?)
The upstairs can be accessed via escalator or stairs just off the main entrance, but at the back of the store there is also a customer lift for the disabled and for pushchairs.
If you fancy a break from shopping, there is also a cafe. I'm not sure if this is standard in all Asda Living stores but is definately a great addition to the Newport branch and is the only Cafe in the retail park.
Open until 8pm Monday-Saturday (and until 4pm Sunday), it's the ideal place to shop if you don't like swarms of people grabbing at the same rail as you, which is pretty common practice in town centres. It's always my first stop if we need anything for the home and myself and my boyfriend regularly take trips there to bulk up our DVD collection with lots of great titles from £3. We've also been heavily taking advantage of their '2 for £15' offer on Disney DVDs.
Overall I would say, Asda Living is a brilliant idea, it's like your Asda Direct... but instead of flicking through a catalogue you can browse the store and see all the goods Asda don't offer in the supermarket.
Extensive ranges, good quality and fantastic value, Asda Living is definately among my favourite offline shops. :)
My boyfriend and I returned from a two week holiday to Tunisia a few weeks ago and we stayed half board at Soviva Resort.
Soviva Resort is located in El Kantaoui, Tunisia. It is a few minutes walk to the beach and between 30-50 minutes walk to the Marina, depending on your walking pace.
We booked the holiday on a whim due to the cheap price and the length of holiday we got for the price. As we hadn't done any prior research before booking and putting down a deposit, we were extremely wary when we browsed the internet and saw the many bad reviews, 'Should be on Holidays from Hell', 'NEVER go here' and so on.
However, I must say, I completely disagree with those reviews; though I think opinions are swayed by the time of year that you stay at Soviva.
As we stayed in March, which is classed as a winter month, the hotel only opened one block (they have several and can hold 1500 people during peak season) and so we weren't overwhelmed with people and children as we would have been if we had gone in the summer. This suited me perfectly and although the weather wasn't fantastic for the whole holiday, it was hot enough for me and about as hot as a good British summer day.
We arrived at approximately 8pm on a Sunday and I felt extremely uneasy on arrival. The man on reception was unapproachable in my opinion and not very helpful and the long outside trek to our room in the dark with a porter was quite unnerving. On entering our room, the porter let us in and hovered in the room. My boyfriend was slightly confused but I realised he was waiting for a tip... bearing in mind we had literally just arrived and had nothing but travellers cheques on us! This was the start of the most irritating factor of the holiday, the constant expectation of tips.
After the porter begrudgingly left us, minus a tip, we inspected the room and I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised. We had a large bed, with crisp white fresh bedding and fresh white towels in the bathroom. The bathroom suite, although perhaps in need of a makeover was clean and a note on the toilet informed us it had been disinfected earlier that day. So far so good, the reviews had told us the rooms were dirty. This one wasn't, basic maybe but definitely not dirty.
Additional features of the room were a small fridge, a hairdryer in the bathroom, balcony with seating, a large double wardrobe, safety deposit box and a TV. The TV, despite being in Tunisia actually had a lot of channels with several channels showing American programmes such as friends and Oprah, which we usually watched before going to dinner. Another channel regularly showed films which were in English.
Being half-board breakfast and an evening meal was included in our package. On arrival at the hotel we were given a card with our name on and with details of restaurant serving times. Breakfast was served from 6.30am to 9.30am and dinner from 6.30pm - 9.30pm. When we entered the restaurant, the waiter located us a table for two and the card was placed in a stand which reserved that table for us for each meal time for the rest of the holiday, which I thought was a brilliant idea.
As we arrived after 8pm, we were able to have an evening meal that first night. The restaurant was buffet style with a choice of hot dishes available, along with 2 different soups each night, a salad table freshly prepared by a chef, a dessert table and a table with various kinds of baguettes on. A great addition was a chef in the corner of the restaurant preparing fresh stir-fry each night - and I ate mostly stir-fry for the entire holiday!
The evening meals were tasty enough, Ok it wasn't fine dining but it did the job and didn't make me ill (like reviews had said...). Breakfast was a slightly different matter though, although you were able to have toast, croissants, pancakes and cereal (which was more than enough for me to fill up on) the hot food was quite strange in my opinion. Ratatouille, rice and roast potatoes... at 7.30am? No thank you.
The restaurant itself was pretty spacious, though I can imagine it will be a nightmare during peak season, but in March it was more than adequate. There were plenty of waiters and the same waiter waited on us for the entire holiday (I say waited, but all he did was clear our plates...). Though friendly enough, I would say the number of managers outranked the waiters. Too many Chiefs and not enough Indians some might say!
Being half board, we spent most nights in Barocco Bar, which was a nice bar quite extravagantly decorated (the clue to the style is in the name). It was extremely comfortable and the waiters attended the tables and gave out snacks which was a nice gesture. We were also very happy that the Welsh Rugby game was even shown on the TV in there the one night! Drinks weren't too costly. A large beer was 6TND (£3) and it was large! However, spirits were extremely expensive, with a Baileys setting you back almost 13TND (£6.50!). Cocktails were 8TND each (£4) and cocktail of the day was 5TND (£2.50). Cocktail of the day, however was Tequila Sunrise throughout our entire holiday, personally I don't think they ever change the board!
There was another bar which was larger and louder and catered to all inclusive residents. They provided entertainment each night and kept the (very few) children entertained whilst the parents drank. The entertainment was provided by the 'Animation' team, a young group of Tunisians who were very friendly, fun and approachable, they also arranged activities for people to take part in during the day, free of charge, such as bowling, darts and table tennis.
My one criticism of the 'entertainment' was the pool tables, each time we wanted to play the tables were broken... and there were 3 tables! The pool tables were also quite expensive in my opinion at 2TND (about £1).
During our first few days, we were approached by a 2 men selling a 'Boat Trip' and 'Camel Rides' near the poolside. Despite our constant, 'No thank you's they constantly asked us and to be honest, my politeness began to wear thin. The best thing to do if you aren't interested and don't wish to be pestered is to give a polite but firm 'No'. Do not say 'Maybe another day' as they will keep on at you.
The main pool is shown in the picture, and despite being a freezing temperature whilst we were there, myself, my boyfriend and several other crazy Brits, braved it and went for a dip. We also tested the slides which were immense fun! Though I do wish it hadn't felt like plummeting into an icy lake... We spent the majority of the mornings (when it was hottest) lazing around the pool and there were plenty of sun loungers and mattresses available for use free of charge.
Another Hotel facility we tried out was mini-golf. In a word - don't! Although we only put a 10TND deposit down for clubs and balls (which we got back when we returned them) it wasn't the best way to pass the time. The 'course' is lumpy, bumpy, paint is peeling and is unplayable really. It also didn't help that for some strange reason a garden was hosing it down whilst we were playing making it the grass and mud around it soggy and slushy. Nice brown toes I had after that!
The day receptionist was very nice and helpful... and empathised with me when I said our power adapter didn't work and there was no way I could use my straightners! I was allowed to loan one for the 2 weeks at the cost of 5TND (I think you see the conversion by now - £2.50)
Located just besides reception was the exchange counter. It was open between 9am and 3pm and here you could change your travellers cheques and also convert other currencies into the Dinar. We were advised to change 'little and often' though due to the commission rate. Here you could also purchase a key to the safety deposit box. For two weeks we paid 31TND and were given 10TND back when we left. I would definitely recommend using this facility! We stored everything in the box and definitely made me feel more at ease.
The maids were fantastic! The same maid cleaned our room daily, this involved cleaning the bathroom, the floors, making the bed and changing the towels. She was extremely friendly and caring and one day when we left the 'Do Not Disturb' sign out all day, she tentatively knocked our door, apologised and handed me loo roll and clean towels and said 'I'm so sorry to bother you, may I come tomorrow?'. Bless. This elderly little Tunisian woman also picked up 'Hiya, you alright?' from my boyfriend which I thought was quite amusing. We tipped her every Dinar we had left.
To be honest, although I wouldn't go back, I did enjoy our time there. I think it would suit older couples better than twenty something's like us as there isn't much in the way of nightlife in the area. However, I would say don't be put off by bad reviews, it's a great resort with fantastic value for money and something you really should experience for yourself. Most of the bad reviews revolve around peak time holidays though so if you are considering staying here, stay during the quieter months.
Additional features (for information only as I didn't use/experience them):
-Indoor Swimming Pool (open until 5pm)
-Tennis Courts with racket hire
- Bicycle Hire
- Towel Hire
Well who's this little fella? Isn't he the sweetest thing you've ever seen!?
This adorable little ducky is my fourth and most recent addition to my Links of London Sweetie Charm Bracelet (which I have also reviewed).
My boyfriend bought him as a surprise for me when I was having a rough time, bless him... and it was just the thing to cheer me up!
As I said in my bracelet review, Links of London isn't cheap. And I wouldn't ever purchase anything from there for myself as it's just too expensive to justify it. However, as a gift, Links products are fantastic and this little guy is now my favourite charm.
Pricing at £45 and being as small as it is, he's not cheap, so you would expect quality. To be honest I was wary about buying an enamel coated charm as I wear my bracelet everyday and was worried the colour might chip away. However, the shop assistant advised us that Links of London have a 1 year guarantee on charms should anything happen. She also said that the only charms she has ever seen returned with chips are the large enamel coated heart charms (available in Red, Hotpink and Pink) and she's only ever seen one or two returned out of the hundreds they sell. This put my mind at ease and I was happy to add the ducky charm to my small collection.
Although he is a small charm, he stands out against the others I have. He is a very bright yellow, with small black eyes, a silver beak and silver wings (as shown in the picture), however, what you can't see in the picture is that he has a flat base which is also silver.
The base is genius! As I was saying, I was worried about chips. But when I am in work, sat at my desk typing away with my bracelet dragging across the table, this little guy sits on the base so at no point does the yellow enamel touch the surface. To be honest, I don't think he was designed to sit like that, as other enamel coated charms don't have a base, but it's a great additional feature to stop me worrying about chips.
Size wise, he measures at roughly 11mm from head to base, 13mm from wing to wing and 13mm from chest to tail. It's the perfect size and means that he doesn't stand out too much from my flatter charms.
Now, how to attach the charms... I mentioned in my bracelet review that the bracelet comes with 6 small split rings (you can buy additional ones for £1 each) for attaching the charms to. These rings work like a keyring, you split them and slide the thick silver ring at the top of the charm (pictured) on to it. I've found that attaching charms eight Links apart spaces them out just right and looks better than randomly attaching them.
In my bracelet review, I said that the bracelet is a perfect gift idea, and I still stand by that. Every birthday/christmas/special occasion I know I will now be receiving charms, which makes me a whole lot easier to buy for and I look forward to building my unique little collection.
With regards to stockists, Links of London shops can be found in large cities, but smaller cities and towns with fine jewellers may also find that these jewellers stock the sweetie charm bracelet and a selection of charms.
For more information about Links of London visit:
Links of London are well established retailers of uniquely styled gold and silver jewellery. The particular product under review is the Sterling Silver Sweetie Charm Bracelet which retails at £110 and is by far one of Links' more popular items.
With an extensive range of charms available to suits all moods and occasions you can really make this bracelet a unique piece of jewellery and personal to you.
The bracelet is made up of small solid silver rings linked together by two threads of strong elastic. As shown in the top of the picture there is a slightly thick ring branded with 'Links London' and the bracelet also comes with 6 coiled rings for attaching charms.
When I first realised the bracelet was threaded with elastic I was a bit wary, as the bracelet is quite expensive I was worried it would be a waste of money if the elastic was to snap. However, the elastic is extremely durable and doesn't feel as though it may break at all. And, if the bracelet did snap, you can get it rethreaded at a Links of London store.
The bracelet is available in 3 sizes. Small, medium and large. I'm quite a petite frame with extremely skinny wrists yet I have taken a medium. The small size is very small and would probably fit a child. If you are considering buying this bracelet as a gift, that's something to bare in mind and I would advise either taking the recipient with you or someone a similar build if it's a surprise.
If you're buying it as a birthday gift, take the recipient with you within a week of their birthday, show ID and Links will give you 10% off your purchase. My boyfriend bought this bracelet for my 21st and his parents bought me the 21 charm to go with it and although it doesn't save a great deal, it's worth doing.
The staff at every Links branch I've been too have been very helpful and knowledgeable (probably due to their staff discount, their arms are stacked with these bracelets!). They are willing to get charms out for you to look at and see how they would look on your bracelet. They are also very patient, I took a long time deciding on whether to get a small or medium, even though small was too tight!
Although £110 is a lot of money, as a gift this bracelet is well worth it. I love it and haven't taken it off, though I wouldn't have spent this much money on myself. It is a very luxurious item and excellent quality that will last and it's different. My only criticism would be the fact that it pinches sometimes and I even have thought about waxing my forearm... but as they say, pain is beauty!
I would definately recommend the Sweetie Bracelet
Bowlplex is a chain of family run, ten pin bowling alleys. It was first established in 1984 and currently has 18 centres across the UK, 14 situated in England, 2 in Scotland and 2 in Wales.
The centre I'm going to review is Bowlplex Cwmbran. It has only recently opened providing the youth of the local area with something more to do... and the adults too.
The centre is located just off Cwmbran town centre, it's easy to find and has plenty of free parking nearby.
I visited the centre for the second time on a Saturday night. Though it's open Monday - Friday 10am until late; and Saturday - Sunday 9.30am until late. (Late being around 12.30am)
The prices range from £3.70 and £2.70 a game off peak for adults and juniors respectively to £5 and £4.35 a game during peak time. However there are lots of offers including "Munch and Bowl" and £10 per person unlimited bowling after 10pm. The latter is the deal we opted for as we arrived at 9pm. For more pricing and to book online visit http://www.bowlplex.co.uk/
As well as the 20 lane bowling alley, the centre has a late licensed bar with plenty of seating, a large screen for sporting event coverage, American style pool tables, an arcade, vending machines, fruit machines and the Bar & Grill where you can eat.
If you would like to guarantee yourself a lane you can either ring up at least 24hours in advance or can book online and check availability on the website. We rang up a few hours before and although the staff member advised us we couldn't book at such short notice, he did tell us that the lanes were quite empty and there would be quite a few free if we were to just turn up.
Me and my boyfriend were meeting my friend and her boyfriend for a few games of bowling and had decided to meet at 9pm. After discussing with a staff member however, we opted for the 10pm bowling option so decided to relax and chat in the bar for an hour. My first concern was the fact I wasn't ID'd at the bar when I bought us a round... although I'm 20 I certainly don't look it and usually get ID'd for lottery tickets(!!!) and considering how I was dressed down in a Mickey Mouse Tee and trainers I thought I looked younger than usual. Though after 9am under 18s aren't allowed in unless accompanied by an adult so perhaps she thought I'd already been questioned about my age.
After buying our drinks we were quite shocked at the cost of 2 WKDs, £6.20! ...though we later did notice an offer of 4 bottles for £10, so we could've saved a few pennies. Another good deal was a four pint pitcher of lager for the price of three pints, only £8.10!
The seating was quite varied; there were big cushy sofas and coffee tables, tub chairs and small round tables, and high tables with stools. More than enough space to accommodate. We were slightly irritated by a bunch of rowdy girls sat near by but the alley doubles as a bar on the weekends due to it's late opening, under 18s rule and loud current music.
The process is simple enough, go to the counter and pay, tell the assistant your shoe size and swap your shoes for the clown like bowling shoes. We were placed in lane 8 and quite happy that although the place was quite full, the lanes either side of us were empty so we had our own space. Setting up the board and entering names was easy and soon enough we were away. After a few games, we realised my boyfriend was pretty good and the rest of us weren't so we had an assistant programme our lane to put the bumpers up when it was our turn and for them to go down when it was his turn. Crafty ey!
After about 4 games though, me and my friend got a little bored, we were suffering backache and nursing broken nails so decided to leave the competitive boys to it and go off on our own.
I think this only runs during the week as it was on the first time I went which was a Friday. It wasn't on when we went on a Saturday. Perfection is basically a game which each occupied bowling lane is involved in. The first time we played we won and didn't even realise we had played until "Lane 7 wins" was flashing on a large screen at the end of the lanes. The aim of the game is to be the first lane to have a perfect round; this includes getting a strike, double strike, split and spare. The computerised screen automatically ticks off each lane as they score. Prizes include lollipops, teddies and inflatable guitars. It's a fun concept and made us very competitive!!
In my opinion it's quite expensive. As you enter the arcade there is a change machine in which you put your coins and in return receive tokens for use within. £1 will give you two tokens and every game/machine asked for two tokens... even the prize grabbers which are usually 20p-30p elsewhere. We (stupidly) stuck 4 tokens into the dance machine, oh dear what a mistake! Just short from ending a crumpled heap on the floor, we managed to fail the game after just 1 level, knackering ourselves out and wasting 4 tokens. I also made the silly mistake of changing £1 into 2 tokens for a quiz machine only to realise it accepted coins, duh!
Despite the expense, it is a lot of fun and there's something for everyone. Dance mat for the girls, racing/shooting games for the boys, prize grabbers for the young'uns and quiz machines and fruit machines for the adults.
I was very impressed with Bowlplex, you don't even have to bowl to enjoy yourself, there's plenty there for everyone. I had a fantastic time on both occasions and will visit again soon. It's fun for people of all ages and the perfect place to host a bowling party. It's very well presented with plenty of staff about who are on hand to help and with security guards at the entrance to keep the rowdy folk in order. It also has a lift down (the centre is down a flight of stairs) which allows for disabled access. There are lots of offers and fun to be had here. I would definitely recommend it to absolutely anybody!
What is Venture?
Venture is a nationwide photography studio claiming to give one of the most professional and memorable experiences. It is very modern and contemporary and caters to most needs. You can take your own props for a photo shoot, your friends... you can even arrange to take the dog.
Why did we choose Venture?
To cut a long story short we bought a car from a Mini Garage and as a 'thank you' we were rewarded with a £205.00 voucher for a Venture Photo Experience. We were quite pleased with this gift...as they didn't have to give us anything, after all we were choosing to buy a new car, however they did and at the time the gift seemed rather generous.
How did we book?
To be honest, I'm not aware of the official booking process, my assumption would be to call the number in the pack or possibly go online. However, one Wednesday evening my mobile rang and on the other end was a Venture employee. She asked about our voucher and said congratulations on our Mini (not seeming too bad so far is it?), then asked if she could book us in for a shoot tomorrow. My first thought was, "Well aren't we supposed to book a time convenient to us? I work week days!" but she said the shoot would only last an hour and the latest slot was 8pm. 8pm on a Thursday? Not too bad I suppose... and as our nearest studio is about 15 minutes down the road we agreed.
The Photo Shoot
I was nervous but excited about attending the shoot, Mini had told us to expect about £100 of our voucher to be redeemed against the hours slot and photographer's time, I didn't mind too much as we still had another £105 to play around with.
This is probably the only positive part of my review and I can assure you it's all down hill from here. However, I did enjoy the photo shoot.
We arrived at Venture at about 7.45pm and were buzzed in to a small, modern reception. The walls were littered with arty photos and I was feeling rather impressed. A girl came out to greet us, explained that she would be our photographer and that whilst she was setting up we could have a look through a book of their work to see if we liked any of the ideas.
After a few minutes she took us into the studio, I was a little disappointed as I was expecting something out of Top Model but it was just a small room with the back and side wall painted white, with a section of floor also painted white.
Our photographer explained that we'd take lots of photos, some individual and some of my boyfriend and I together then said she'd explain the rest after our shoot.
We had been told to take different outfits and bright coloured clothes so we opted for a bit of coordination and had red and purple outfits. We were also told to be barefooted for the shoot.
She asked us if we had any ideas but we admitted this was our first shoot so had no idea really and she said ok, we'll try lots of different things.
Calling us up to the white section of the room she asked if we wanted to try some fun shots, we were up for anything so agreed and spent the next few minutes wrestling, tickling and having piggy-backs whilst she snapped away. I must admit it was a lot of fun and I couldn't stop laughing.
After this we changed and had a few more serious shots, both individually and together, "Oh that's beautiful" she cooed, I felt like a star!
"I have an idea!" she said reaching for a fan and approaching my boyfriend, "You hold that," she said to him, "and I'll take some picture of her hair blowing. She decided to use a ring light like they do in modeling shoots, it was so bright I was seeing a ring for about 20 minutes afterwards.
The fan also fell apart... how very professional...
Finally our hour was up.
What happens next?
Basically, the take some time to sort through your pictures and touch them up if need be then you come back within a few days for the 'viewing session'. It's described by venture as a sort of cinematic experience. So we were quite looking forward to it, however, we now had to try and book this session.
As I said I work weekdays, but we were told that we couldn't attend the viewing session on the weekend as our voucher didn't cover that. Right, how about evenings? Nope voucher didn't cover that either. As this wasn't explained in any of the paperwork that came with our voucher I was rather annoyed.
Fine, I thought, my partner could come on his own, I trust his judgment, plus he's far more artistic than me. But nope this wasn't an option either, in fact if we attended individually our voucher would be rendered totally invalid.
In the end I begrudgingly agreed for an 11am slot the following Friday, providing I could get the time off work. Handing us a booklet and seeing us out she said she'd see us Friday.
Getting home, we sat down to look through the different styles of pictures and the prices. I nearly collapsed, the prices were extortionate. Even with the remainder of our voucher being redeemed and choosing the smallest, cheapest style it still would cost us £245!!!!
I was really annoyed as this had not been explained to us at any point and as it was a rush job and had been booked for us we hadn't done any of our own research.
I was disgusted and felt that we'd been tricked into the whole thing.
However, they did offer a free 7"x10" frame of your favourite picture so I thought we'd just take that and then use the £105 remaining towards another picture if there was one that we really loved.
The viewing session
On entering this time, we were seated and offered a cup of tea. We sat and waited and discussed what we though they'd turn out like. After being shown into the viewing room I was disappointed for two reasons.
1. It was nothing like a cinema, not that I was expecting Cineworld but I at least expected a screen, but no it was another blank wall.
2. We were not viewing our pictures with the photographer who shot us, but another photographer, which I felt made the whole experience slightly more embarrassing as they weren't there when the other lady was suggesting ideas.
After dimming the lights and some emotional background music we were played a slideshow of our pictures. Again another disappointment, there were none that really stood out and to be honest I think I could've taken pictures just as good myself!
We then had to narrow the pictures down to just a few of our favourites, which didn't bother me as I wasn't overly keen on any of them, so left the decisions to my boyfriend.
We finally settled for a picture of the two of us, which looked a lot better in black and white and decided that as we were going to pay a small fortune anyway we may as well buy a decent sized picture. We settled for the biggest of the bunch, a huge 30x40 in a modern, Non-glass, black frame. Total price, a whopping £1090.
The booklet explained that there was a monthly payment plan available, with the most expensive picture about £37 a month, which wasn't too much of a problem for us as our rent is so cheap. Anyway it turns out the shoot was only £50 leaving us £50 better off. We explained that we wanted to knock the £155 off that full price and that we wanted the other picture we had liked as our free gift.
"Ah," she said, you either use the £155 for your free gift or you don't have the free gift and use the £155 to knock the price down.
So no free gift! I was fuming, I had a small rant about it not being free and costing £105 if that was the case, I said we'd been misled and that it was unfair etc but she wouldn't budge. "Venture's policy I'm afraid."
Fine... we'll take the large picture with the monthly payment plan and knock money off instead of our freebie. "Right, that's ordered for you," she said, "now all that's left is to take some details and to take your deposit."
Deposit?!?!?! My boyfriend and I looked at each other, this just got better and better...
Being the argumentative person I am, I said, "Isn't the £155 voucher our deposit?"
"No, as I've worked out the finance after the deduction," she said. "You will need to make a deposit". I could feel my blood boiling. "Ok," said my partner, "We'll put down £100."
She took our details and took the £100 off my card. Next she tried to get our finance sorted, "No problem," I thought, "I have good credit... I've a car on finance after all"
"Oh that's been referred," she said, "We'll ring you in a few days to let you know if it's been accepted"
I asked about our deposit, would it be refunded if the finance was rejected? Again, another answer I did not need to hear. It would not, as the order was already processing and they would be beginning work 'as we speak'.
I was furious and had to leave, my boyfriend said goodbye to the woman and met me outside. "They'll ring us within 48 hours" he said.
However, 4 days came and went before we heard anything, then she rang me and said that they needed more details for the finance. I answered every question she asked not worrying about rejection until at the end of the call she told me our first attempt was rejected and so was the second she had just tried. I was livid, not only had she not told me the first one was rejected, she did another credit application without my permission and no doubt damaging my credit rating. She told me she only needed more information!
Well I don't know what's happening, they said they'd come back to us with more options but haven't. Our picture will supposedly be ready just before Christmas but doesn't look like we'll be having it. So not only will I not have my picture, I've lost £100 of my own money and had my credit file damaged.
I am disgusted with Venture and how misleading the whole thing is. I saw a board in Tesco's the other day promoting a free £35 voucher with their Christmas offer... well I'd advise everybody well away from this whole scam!!!
The only reason I've given 2 stars is because I enjoyed the photo shoot.
The John Lewis store I am choosing to review is located in St David's Centre, Cardiff. John Lewis Cardiff recently opened it's doors on the 24th September 2009 and is Wales' largest department store.
Myself and my boyfriend live in South Wales, so to visit John Lewis we would have to travel to Cribbs Causeway, Bristol, each time paying a small fortune in petrol and bridge toll. When the new John Lewis, Cardiff opened we were thrilled. It is only 10 minutes down the road from our house so we decided to check it out and also search for a watch for my boyfriends birthday.
As John Lewis is such a large store with such a range of products and services I have decided not to babble on with lists of departments and so on, as most people will already know that it is a department store, instead my review will focus on the Watch department as this is where I made my first purchase.
The watch department is located on the first floor and is the area you meet once stepping off the escalator. It's an array of black shiny surfaced stands with lots of stylish watches sparkling at you. It has a collection of designer brands such as D&G and Diesel and the A-Listers of Watches such as Tissot and Citizen.
Although it was a birthday present, I refused to spend a fortune. And given my 'tight' attitude and the fact that I was in John Lewis (which we all know isn't the cheapest) I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were watches available within my budget.
My boyfriend is quite a quirky guy with an individual style. He likes bright colours and like to wear things he knows noone else would be wearing. Within a minute or so of browsing, a lady approaching and asked if she could help. I gave her the above specification and told her I didn't want to spend too much. She nodded and left us, only to come back with 3 watches in hand.
The first was quite funky, a D&G silver bracelet watch with colour hands and face. The second was unusual, quite chunky and actually reminded me of a broken tv due to its colour stripes and the third was perfection, I knew it was my boyfriend as soon as I saw it, and the way his eyes lit up I could tell he agreed.
I was very impressed with the assistant as she had found us the watch we wanted within minutes of arrival and she knew her product inside out. She asked questions I wouldn 't have thought to ask like, "Where on your wrist do you prefer to wear it?" "How tight/loose do you like it?". She was very practical and very helpful.
We had established early on that third watch would be the watch we'd be leaving with, it was a bracelet style Diesel watch with a large purple face and metallic green hands, sounds quite hideous but it's gorgeous and suits my man completely!
Now it came to fitting, he's only got little wrists we knew it would probably need altering. The assistant took it away to have a link removed, "Feel free to look around the store and come back when you're ready, we'll be about 5 minutes." Again, I was happy with this, as instead of expecting us to wait she gave us the option of coming back and the flexibility of coming back when we wanted.
When we returned we were disappointed that they didn't have the right tools for the job. But we knew we wanted that watch so decided to purchase anyway. We came to the agreement that we would buy the watch and have a link removed elsewhere. The assistant then told us that if we wished to do that, keep the receipt from the link removal and they would reimburse us. An unnecessary service in my eyes but a kind gesture indeed.
She wrapped the watch for us and explained about the warranty, took note of our names and what we bought and the reimbursement agreement and told us to come back and ask for her.
Overall I was very impressed with the service I received. I found what I was looking for almost immediately with her help and would be reimbursed for any alteration costs. If we had any problems we could refer back to this particular assistant as she had given us her name.
A few days later we had the watch altered, but it cost a mere £3 so we didn't return for the reimbursement.
I would definately recommend John Lewis, our assistant was very helpful and knew her product inside out and I know that this applies in every area of the store. The staff are very professional and friendly and make it a pleasure to shop at John Lewis.
Before learning to drive I used to pass through this train station quite regularly as my family live 175 miles away. I've never been particularly impressed with this train station and in my opinion it needs a lot of work done to bring it up to scratch.
Unless you know the city well, the location isn't brilliant. Although it is on the edge of the city centre, it would be near impossible for a visitor to find the bus station and although there is a busstop outside the services aren't regular. However there is a taxi rank attached to the station, but be warned, they are on the meter and can be quite expensive so it's worth doing your research and finding another taxi company who aren't.
For short stay such as picking somebody up there is a small car park right outside the station which is quite convenient, however be warned the taxis tend to take over! Parking in this area is limited to just 20 minutes with fines in place for overstayers. For long stay parking there is a pay and display car park situated to the back of the station, however if you park here you enter the station through platform 4 meaning you need to walk the whole station if you haven't already purchased a ticket.
On entering you are greeted by a wide space with cashiers to your right along with the information centre, ticket machines for immediate travel and service information to your left. And barriers in front of you in which you have to insert your ticket to gain entrance to the rest of the station. It's not an impressive entrance and you don't feel like your in a large upcoming city but more a shoddy small town station thats in need of a little tlc.
I find myself becoming increasingly annoyed with the staff at Newport station. On one occasion, I entered at 4.57pm and the lady refused to serve me as she was going on her break at 5pm. How long does it take to print a ticket?! On another occasion the cashier had put up a sign saying they'd be back of break at 5.30pm and at 5.40pm the blinds were still down.
I was also disgusted by the presentation, now I know it's not a 5 star resort but the staff are still greeting the public and should look somewhat respectable, not wearing 3 inch tacky red false nails and chomping on gum whilst serving.
This is only open office hours and here you can inquire about prices and times and book journeys in advance. I have no complaints about this area and would advise you check here a few weeks before travelling as this can save you money.
The entrance to the station has two large double automatic doors and the barriers have a specially adapted wider aisle for pushchairs and wheelchairs.
There is a lift to Platforms 2 and 3 though I'm not sure if this is in effect for 4. To locate the lift you turn left on entering platform 1 then an immediate left before the stairs, this will lead you down a particular nasty subway (smelly, unclean) then you will find the lift.
There used to be 3 platforms, but a fourth has been recently added.
Platforms 1 and 2 are typically visited by trains heading West, stations such as Cardiff and Swansea.
Due to Newport being the last stop on the way to the capital, trains from these platform are regular with one every 10 minutes or so.
Platform 3 was for services heading East and North. This was the platform I frequented mostly.
Now with the recent addition of platform 4, there is more of a divide and services North tend to depart from Platform 3 and East from Platform 4.
Platform 4 is quite modern and clean but looks out of place in comparison with the others as they are in dire need of updating and improvement works. They are quite dirty and the connecting walk ways, elevators and bridges have a distinct smell of urine which is not pleasant especially if you have a long wait between services. However, due to Newport being host city for the 2010 Ryder Cup, it will be undergoing lots of improvement.
Each platform has benches and seating and unless you're travelling at peak times you will be able to sit whilst waiting for your service. There are electronic boards on each platform giving information of services, times they are expected etc. Outside of shop opening times, they are vending machines if you're feeling peckish but as is the norm with train stations, the prices are quite high.
On platform 1 is a small WHSmith, which is convenient for long distance travellers as you can pick up snacks, drinks and magazines but it doesn't open outside of normal WHSmith hours. Platform 2/3 has a small cafe called "The Lemon Tree" which has indoors seating and serves hot drinks, baguettes and the like, again though it's quite expensive and I find some of the staff to be quite rude and on some occasions ignorant as they've chatted whilst ignoring queueing customers.
The toilets are also situated on Platforms 2/3 but if you can avoid using them I would advise this, they're not very hygienic and as a woman on the occasions I've been unable to hold it in I've had to 'hover' and use pocket tissues as the tissue hasn't be stocked up.
Services and Destinations:
The are many regular services to lots of popular stations and more. There is the usual handy wallchart with times and destinations in alphabetical order which is quite helpful and as Newport is close to both the capital of Wales (Cardiff) and the large city of Bristol it is used frequently by commuters.
It's not brilliant, but after all it is just a stop gap on your journey. I've never really come across any delays or problems at Newport but do find that trains are usually packed when they arrive during peak times as they've either come from Cardiff or Bristol. I can't say I'd recommend it as such... unless you have to pass through, there's no real reason to visit this station.