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    • More +
      23.03.2007 14:22
      Very helpful



      A pepperoni treat (especially with chips!)

      Chicago Town Deep Pan Pepperoni Pizza's are produced by the Schwan Food Company, who have a preference for marketing frozen foods in the United States and Europe. Their brands, alongside Chicago Town, include Freschetta Pizza in Europe, and Red Baron and Asian Specialities in North America.

      The Deep Pan Pepperoni Pizza's can be found in the frozen section of most popular supermarkets, alongside their other flavours - Triple Cheese, Spicy Chicken etc, retailing for round £1.65 for a twin pack. These pizza's can often be found enjoying a little marketing of their own, being popular in the Buy One Get One Free (BOGOF), and 2 for £3.00 offers - these are an ideal time to stock up on these handy meals. Packaging resembles any normal frozen pizza selection with the casing displaying a cooked version alongside the enlarged Chicago Town logo - relevant information such as cooking time, ingrediants and storage are also listed.

      Each individual pizza is cellophane wrapped and placed on a microwaveable tray (not to be used when cooking via a conventional method) - the recommended method for cooking your pizza. If you do choose to microwave your pizza it will take approximately 3 minutes depending on the power supply of your microwave, or oven cook in around 20-25 minutes. Each method has it's benefits, with speed being the most beneficial to microwave cooking. Personally I always cook mine in a conventional oven prefering the crisper base this method provides, rather than the softer style through microwaving. I also associate the slight browned surface of the pizza as being a product thats cooked, rather than zapped and looking pale and lifeless. Cooking via either method still provides an very hot pizza, and here you must exercise caution as the plentiful supply of slightly peppery tomato sauce (which is also mixed with oregano, basil and garlic), despite being thick and smooth to taste, is also very hot - in some instances easily hot enough to scald your tongue.

      The tomato aroma emitting from the kitchen whilst the product is cooking certainly arouses the tastebuds. Especially when combined with the sweet pepperoni smell.

      Chicago Town now use 100% real cheese on their pizza's, and whilst it's quite a mild mozzarella, there is more than enough - particuarly in the Triple Cheese Version - I sincerely hope you like cheese when choosing this option. The cheese is initially grated on the pizza, as this melts sufficiently to provide a slightly stringy texture, enough to need to twirl your fork a couple of times, and is interlaced with the pepperoni.

      On the Pepperoni Pizza - (10% pepperoni, 16% mozarella cheese) they use small pepperoni chunks, (previous versions were slices) each cut and cubed and scattered across the top of the pizza. Unlike larger traditional pizza's the distribution of topping is fair and even, without the need for re-arranging the topping before cooking. Each pepperoni cube has a sharp pepper bite to it, with a hint of garlic adding to the bite.

      Other notable ingrediants include sugar, preservatives, yeast, salt.

      According to the instructions their are no artificial flavourings or colours in this particular pizza, although it is noted that Beta Carotene, a colourant is within the ingrediant listing. Other food sensitive information of a notable nature, is its containment of milk and gluten.

      Those on a more health concious diet may wish to steer clear of Chicago Town Pizzas. The pepperoni contains 494 calories per pizza (a mere 5" in diameter), so when served with a portion of chips and mayonnaise (the best way to eat them - trust me!), isn't exactly the most diet friendly meal. Saturated fat is also very high per pizza, coming in at 11.5g per pizza (twice the recommended amount for a healthy meal), and salt is also high at 2.3g per pizza.

      Chicago Town Pizza's are sold frozen, and must remain frozen until used. If they are allowed to defrost they must not be refrozen.

      Each pizza, either served on it's own, with chips, or with a healthy side salad, provides a satisfying meal. Although high in carbohydrates the crunchy crispy edge and softer base don't taste stodgy and lifeless, the rich peppery and garlic sauce is over a smooth thick consistency, and the plentiful toppings are more than sufficient in comparison to the size of the pizza. For £1.65 for a twin pack (i.e. 82.5p per Pizza - cheaper than a Big Mac!), I would recommend these to adults and children alike - although I suspect they are probably already a favourite with students on a more restrained financial budget!

      Go buy one (well a twin pack is two!) and try it...you might like them!!


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      • petrolprices.com / Internet Site / 69 Readings / 66 Ratings
        More +
        24.02.2007 15:43
        Very helpful



        Always good to know somewhere you car can have a cheap drink!

        Why is it that whenever you find yourself in need of re-fuelling the car, you can either never find a petrol station or the one you do come across is the most expensive you have seen all day? Well undoubtedly this won't change as life always works in mysterious ways, but if you are so inclined as to plan your journey and mileage in advance and you have a desire to know the cheapest petrol station prices around then why not check out www.petrolprices.com?

        Petrolprices.com is run by Fubre Limited, a company whose endeavour to make difficult information and advice accessible to all users across the country in order to save them money and to keep them informed.

        The data used on this website is collected and provided by Catalist and Arval, who supply information on over 10,000 UK Petrol Stations, and provide up to 8,000 updates a day ensure that the data to be found on the website is continuously accurate and up-to-date.

        In order to access the information on Petrolprices.com you will need to sign up. If you don't all you can access on petrol pricing is the Highest, Average and Lowest price in a 10 miles radius to your postcode entry. You can still access the other information the site offers detailed below.

        In order to sign-up you can either take the quick link on the left, or enter your postcode to take you to the signup page, and ask to see the cheapest prices - this will then take you to the sign-up section. Their information request I very basic, with them wanting to know your name, e-mail, postcode and where you heard about them - very standard really, and then they will send an activation code to your e-mail which needs to be entered before you can continue.

        You are provided with a map showing the location of the cheapest service stations, their names, current price and when the last up date was. For my area within Berkshire prices were update 24hours ago, and rather surprisingly two motorway service stations were within the top 5…no idea what happened to BP and Texaco in my area!

        Also available are free e-mail alerts which can be sent on a varying time basis according to your personal requirements.

        Petrolprices.com also takes pride in offering further helpful information to the motoring public. This information is free and doesn't require you signing up-to the site.

        • Motoring information

        This section is broken down into Car Insurance, Breakdown, Personal Plates, Warranty and MPG. There aren't many comparative options available within this section, but it does give you some ideas, especially within the Parking section where diagrams accompany the information give.

        • Fuel Information

        If you fancy impressing your friends with your information on fuel, then pop along to this section as information can be found on History and Facts of Fuel Companies, The Difference in Fuel Types, Who gets the money whenever you buy fuel (very interesting, and showing that currently over 50% is paid in duty), and Fuel Taxes.

        • Environmentally Friendly Options

        Always nice to see a website helping the greener side and here you can find facts and figures on alternative schemes within the motoring life such as cycling and lift shares. There is also a Green Car Buyers Guide which is a very comprehensive report advising exactly what a Green Car is, the technology behind it, fuel types and the cost of opting for the environmental choice.

        • Blog

        As with many sites today there is also a "Blog" section where questions have been posed or articles referenced and users have had the opportunity to include their comments. Recent articles include the Travel Tax Petition and Price variances between fuel types.

        If you want you can also check out the stick gallery, accessible from the home page, where users have posted images of their vehicles displaying a Petrolprices.com sticker!

        If you do want more information on the site, then check out their Frequently Asked Questions section, located at the bottom of each page, and hopefully all your questions will be answered. There are also user testimonials and information surrounding the Terms & Conditions here.

        The site is extremely easy to navigate and offers a simple uncomplicated resource to motoring users. If it can save you some money for a rainy day then why not take a look…For me, I now know exactly which petrol stations offer the cheapest fuel within a five mile radius of my home, and who doesn't. Surprisingly I'm already going to the cheapest station within the radius shown!


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        • More +
          27.01.2007 13:58
          Very helpful



          A delightful tale of first love

          Rose, at seventeen, is convinced that no male in life will ever desire her, especially as she lives in the shadow of her beautiful sister Diana. To some, Diana could be classed as an elegant swan, and Rose the ugly duckling. However despite these misgivings in life, Rose is prepared for a 3 month adventure in the quiet seaside town of Salmouth, and to finally re-discover her passion for reading and writing.

          It is 1943, and the war is still violently raging on throughout the world, so Rose and Diana’s mother, an actress has decided to leave the girls to the care of Miss Hutchinson, in order to entertain the troops and provide them with some level of morale. Unfortunately Miss Hutchinson has also been called up, and the girls find themselves for the first time free of adult restrictions, and determined that this summer will be a journey of self-discovery.

          For both girls the summer is eventful, passionate, entertaining, educational and joyful, but it is especially so for young Rose who unearths a love story set in an earlier war, a story that becomes more lifelike as she falls in love herself.

          Each character in “A Little Love Song” is well described, and detailed throughout the novel. Diana and Rose, the beautiful swan and her ugly duckling are such innocents in this sweet tale. They can’t even boil an egg let alone cook, their afraid to be left alone without a minder and to fend for themselves, and to begin are fearful of a young, unmarried and pregnant Dot – something they are always been taught was immoral and social unacceptable.

          “Diana!” rose was stunned. “You can’t mix with someone like that.”
          “Why not?”
          “Because people with think you’re like her. And when they know we’re here on our own…” Her voice trailed away. “We can’t afford to ourselves a bad reputation”

          Despite these initial misgivings at staying in Salmouth, Diana and Rose, in particular, soon begin to grow under the nourishment of the seaside resort and its plentiful and exuberant characters. Alex Trelawn the owner of a bookshop in the main town delights in provided Rose with books from D.H. Lawrence and Jane Eyre – banned at the time in her school – and begins to revel within her intelligent company. Derry Trelawn, Alex’s young cousin, who is fascinated with joined the R.A.F. but must wait until the results of his Higher Certificate are received becomes besotted with Rose. Miss Hilda, the mad predecessor of Lapwing College whose hidden diaries and journals Rose finds tucked away within the hidden recesses of the cottage, and who’s live Rose becomes passionately embroiled within.

          Extract from Hilda’s Diary:

          “His name was Matthew. He was six years my junior; twenty five. How he had managed to survive two years of the war I’ll never know. When he was brought to the hospital it was the fourth time he had been wounded. It was his eyes which first drew me…”

          Rose’s character is a delight to read, her passion and enthusiasm for life make an excellent narration of “A Little Love Song” and you can’t fail and falling in love with her undeniable spirit. Life in 1943 is obviously so different from what we experience today, so being able to experience the emotions uncovered by Rose and her findings was a delight. Discovering the joys of first love whilst experiencing a totally different lifestyle makes for a captivating tale. Rose blossoms from an awkward, unconfident and shy teenager, to a confident and assured woman, whilst living through this exquisite and free summer. She encounters many social obstacles, including her thoughts and feelings over the pregnant and unmarried Dot, the supposed care that her school has taken by protecting its pupils by reading certain forms of literature and the disapproving nature that the Upper Class has over the inappropriateness of her and her sister living un-chaperoned. Her misgivings over her beauty and comparisons to her beautiful sister often lead to Rose feeling awkward and insecure.

          “If that’s what love does to you, I’d rather not have anyone fall in love with me…not that anyone would…”

          Michelle Magorian is an excellent writer who manages to capture the perfect blend of emotion and intelligence in each of her works. The author of the best selling “Goodnight Mr Tom” has again excelled herself with “A Little Love Song” with her intricate tales of young love and entangled lives. She has a tendency to base her works around the early to mid 1900s when society was more restrained and so many things were socially unacceptable, so I would think her work would be more suited to pre-adolescents who still retain that innocent quality themselves. I personally read “A Little Love Song” when I was 13, not long after I had fallen in love with “Goodnight Mr Tom” and remember being thoroughly enchanted with Rose and her discovery of love. I must admit during the story sometimes I laughed aloud, and others I was stunned at the ferocity of some of the emotions. Michelle Magorian’s works appear to have an ageless quality about them, and when re-discovering the stories throughout my own adult life, I never fail to become enraptured with the characters and their lives. I would never say this story was comparable to the “Chick Lit” that is published today, as this has more class and passion surrounding its core; it’s a romance tale of living, love lost and love cherished and the social attitudes surrounding these entanglements during the war era.

          Published by Mammoth, ISBN 0749710616 – currently retailing on Amazon for £4.79 (RRP £5.99)


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          • More +
            30.12.2006 13:27
            Very helpful



            Fast warmth from a portable radiator

            When we purchased our flat in May 2006, it was the middle of summer, and hence the flat, which received direct sunlight for ¾ of the day, was very warm. However as the months passed, and the summer warmth faded we found ourselves resorting to the panel heaters installed in the flat. These panel heaters weren’t very reliable and produced limited heat, mainly within a 2 metre span from the heat source, not very useful when you’re trying to heat a large bedroom and living room. Having browsed through the Argos catalogue for an alternative heat supply, we decided on purchasing a Delonghi Oil Filled Radiator, currently available for £44.99.

            The Delonghi brand name is synonymous style, living innovation and successful products, so we were perfectly happy to choose this brand over another. The radiator we chose has the following key features:

            • 2.0kW Output
            • 3 Heat Settings
            • Variable Thermostat
            • Frost Protection
            • Safety Cut Out

            Obviously, living in a flat we didn’t want a bulky radiator that would hinder our use of the space, so were pleased to see this radiator is reasonably slim-line (Depth 16.1cm, height 68.2cm and width 47.4cm) and is supplied with wheels, which were very easy to fit, to enable easy movement and location. Please note however than when unpacking your radiator to do so carefully, if the radiator is damaged you shouldn’t use it. The cord supplied is also of a reasonable length (approx 2 metres) so dependant on the location of your sockets can be moved to a variety of places within your room. The radiator also has a cord storage facility for when the radiator is not in use.

            The radiators three settings give an indication of the heat produced but you will only be able to derive the most suitable setting for your home once it’s in its location. We generally have the radiator set to level 3 (setting is 1-5), and on a medium output, although occasionally arriving home on a chilly day, we have maximised the radiator to it’s fullest and been pleasantly surprised at the quickness of the generated heat, although be warned the radiator casing does become extremely hot at the higher temperatures so would not be safe around young children who are liable to touch out of curiosity.

            Several key points to note regarding the safety and security of your Delonghi radiator are:

            • Only use the heater in an upright position
            • The heater must be positioned at least 50cm away from furniture or other objects
            • Do not use if the supply cord is damaged, and arrange for a qualified person to replace/repair the cord
            • The heater may make crackling noises the first time it’s used, or after a period of infrequent use. This is normal so don’t worry!
            • Any repairs must only be done by the manufacturer or qualified person.
            • Try not to use the radiator in rooms smaller than 4m x 4m as it could cause overheating
            • Upon disposal of the radiator, ensure the correct legislation is followed when disposing of the oil
            • Never use the radiator to dry laundry

            Several of the new models come with timer switches enabling you to set the radiator to come on before you awaken in the mornings, but our model doesn’t have this. It does however regulate the temperature of the radiator once you chosen heat setting have been reached. The frost protection feature enables the appliance to maintain a temperature of 5 degrees preventing freezing with minimal energy consumption.

            I can’t comment in detail on the energy consumption of the radiator, but I haven’t really noticed a difference in the electric bills, they seem standard (even lower) compared to my last property which had central heating.

            Cleaning the product is very simple, and any dust can be wiped off with a soft dry cloth.

            We have been using the Delonghi radiator since September, and have not had any problems with the heat output, radiator design, or location. It’s flexible in its situation and can easily be moved from one room to another (thanks to its trusty wheels). It wasn’t very expensive, although the newer models with their additional features and more modern designs do vary in price from store to store. I must stress again though that it is very important that when in use the radiator should always be kept in a vertical position (i.e. with the wheels at the bottom), as any other position could be extremely dangerous. The radiator provides us with sufficient heat (although we still use the panel heater in front of any drying laundry to prevent any dampness in the flat, and all we need to do now is purchase a second radiator for the bedroom.

            If you want to take a look at the Delonghi range of radiators then look at www.delonghi.co.uk. On the site Delonghi claim to be the “World’s Leading Brand” in portable heaters, and provide a quick guide to finding the most suitable heater for your personal requirements.


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            • More +
              20.09.2006 09:18
              Very helpful



              Professional study books for a professional qualification

              Kaplan Publishing Foulks Lynch is an established leading provider of Accountancy and Finance training materials. There aim is to provide students with high quality professional study material, which is essential for passing such professional examinations, in order to achieve their educational and career goals. It is no wonder then that Foulks Lynch is the recommended publisher for ACCA (Association of Chartered and Certified Accounts).

              Having recently changed course material from BPP publishing to Foulks Lynch I was keen to commence studying for my next set of exams using their material. The study texts I chose are available from the Foulks Lynch website, www.kaplanfoulkslynch.co.uk, and whilst they don't exclusively provide material for ACCA (covering CIMA, AAT and others in addition); I was assured of their reputation for high standards from the ACCA website. Each study text costs £28, alongside exam kits from £15 and pocket notes from £10. Also available are "Course in a Box" packages which also offer dedicated tutor support.

              Each study text comes in a similar format with the main sections as follows:

              Introduction - Each text commences with an introduction from the publishers advising that the edition concerned covers the syllabus and study guide in great details, at all times being targeted very closely on the exam, ensuring that topics are given the appropriate weighting.

              Syllabus and Study Guide - The study guide is there to help plan your study progress and to ensure the reader concentrates on the key elements of the text. The idea is to provide guidance in the skills expected for the actual examination.

              Examination Format - Each examination is structured in a slightly different way, so the study text reminds the student of the format of their particular exam, advising whether there will be short knowledge based questions, or problem based proving the students ability to examine different scenarios presented to them. There are some very useful tips included within this section for example dividing your time in proportion to the marks on offer; plan and tailor your answer before attempting the question; State assumptions when you are unsure as if they prove to be logical the examiner still may award mark. Such exam tips are invaluable for students at this level.

              Study Skills and revision guidance - Many students don't fully prepare themselves for the amount of work and effort involved in professional qualifications, so when guidance is provided you should always make note. The Foulks Lynch text provides information on how to make the most of an effective study plan, involving active reading, study plans, and revision guidance.

              After each of these sections has been reviewed you then approach the actual syllabus, which is broken down into manageable and more meaningful sections, and covers approximately 80% of the actual study text. Each chapter is structured carefully, ensuring that detail is provided where applicable, without generality, and alongside are Definitions (text defining key words and concepts in the margin), Key Points (detailed in the margin at regular intervals which summarise concisely the material involved), Activities (Brief questions designed to focus your learning and attention whilst reviewing the chapter), Self Test Questions (Focused at the end of each chapter allowing you to revise key elements), and End of Chapter Questions (Examination type questions to enhance learning and to provide examples of similar questions in the actual exam).

              At the end of the Syllabus chapters are the answers to exam-type questions. These answers should always be compared against the students own as they provide essential guidance in how the examiners are looking for the questions to be answered, and the level of detail required. However I would recommend that alongside Foulks Lynch exam type practise questions that students also revise using past exam papers as they provide a true reflection and prepare you for the actual examination.

              An Appendix is also included, and whilst there is no need to thoroughly analyse this section it is recommended for reviewing to ensure the student has made thorough preparation for the exam.

              At the end of each study text is a Foulks Lynch Study Text Review Form where they are inviting students provide feedback about the study guides so they can ensure there material is as appropriate as possible and provides the students with an excellent base for their examinations.

              Since I have changed from BPP Publishing to Foulks Lynch I have been impressed at the way my own studying and revision has improved. They key notes and definitions are an invaluable resource to me, alongside the clear explanations in a straightforward language without the need for sidetracking. The structure of the study text is very impressive and more clearly defined than those I previously used with BPP Publishing. I have made excellent use of the self-test questions and practise questions and feel sure that when it is time to take the exam I will have a thorough grounding in the subject, and won't question my abilities to pass.

              Although I would recommend that students, where possible, enlist the aid of a tutor or experienced person for guidance, I know this is not always possible. In these scenarios I would definitely recommend Foulks Lynch materials and believe them to be a valuable resource to any ACCA student. In their own words they have already helped thousands of students pass their exams, now it's my turn.

              If you would like further information on Kaplan Publishing Foulks Lynch then may I recommend accessing their website at www.kaplanfoulkslynch.com


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              • More +
                29.08.2006 18:33
                Very helpful



                An enchanting adult fairy tale

                *The Five Hundred Kingdoms and its Tradition*

                Elena Klovis, step-daughter of Madame Klovis and step-sister to Delphinium and Daphne, quaintly nickname the Horrid Stepsisters despite them being attractive in an interesting kind of way, was supposed to be her kingdom's Cinderella - unfortunately fate didn't agree and left her with completely inappropriate choices of princes. Although Otraria was one of the most pleasant of the Five Hundred Kingdoms, sometimes Tradition and fate have a way of seeking to cause the most damage, rather than reward, this was evident in the fact the Elena, despite feeling the threads of Tradition weaving around her from the age of 16 had been denied her chosen path.

                Because of this, Elena worked her fingers to the bone for Madame Klovis, and The Horrid Sisters…reminiscent of the Cinderella fairy tale…but never being allowed to pursue the Tradition of finding a prince. Thankfully, Madame and her daughters soon felt the need to depart from Otraria due to their inability to retain the wealth and fortune of Elena's father (and their keen desire to spend!), and their desire to escape the debt collectors. Unfortunate Elena was left on her own, in a house that had been ravaged of anything of value, even her tiny attic room which barely contained any personal possessions as it was. Not being of the same thread as Madame and her daughters, Elena, a 21 year old woman with no education, or hope of Tradition finding her, decides to enlist at the local "Mop" fair in the hope that she'll be hired as someone's servant, because at least this way she'll be paid for her share of the hard work.

                When the day finally arrived, Elena despite spending a tortuous day at the "Mop" fair still presented a brave, opportune face as she remained the last to be selected. Here is where fate finally decided to intervene, and her own fairy godmother decided to provide a little help, and offer Elena the most unexpected job.

                "Elena thought about the tension she had been feeling for so many years. Was that magic?

                The old lady nodded with satisfaction. "So. You have felt it. All over the Five Hundred Kingdoms there have been countless girls like you for whom the circumstances were not right. And magic keeps gathering around them, trying to make it work - and by the way, we call that The Tradition"

                Now instead of sleeping in the tiny attic, Elena spends her days in a house that from the outside appears to be a small cottage, but expands to a multitude of rooms on the inside, living alongside Brownies, and dealing with arrogant princes who keep trying to change their place in The Tradition.

                *Sometimes a Fairy Godmother's work is never done*

                A Fairy Godmother's work is not just about diverting the path of Tradition, but of helping those in needs in the Five Hundred Kingdoms. From simple pleasures as tending Unicorns, and making herbal remedies, to creating enchantments to ensure the Tradition is satisfied with its tale.

                "The Princess will awaken with her hair binding her to her bed, so knotted that she cannot move" - Enough of a curse to satisfy the Tradition

                "Scissors will be blunted, knives useless, and not any of her handmaidens will be able to loosen so much as a single hair. All will seem lost" - This provided the despair the Tradition needed.

                "No man's hand will free her" - a sly trick on words, meaning a female could assist…Tradition likes these quirky loopholes.

                As well as diverting the path of Tradition, Elena was also involved in the Quest of young Princes who were seeking their own paths to follow, whether it is untangling the knotted hair, fighting dragons to reach the castle, or finding the one princess that bruises when lead atop a hundred mattresses atop a single pea. Here is where the tale of Elena, really becomes interesting as she tests the young men on their quest before allowing them to proceed…what will become of young Octavian, Alexander and Julian.

                *An enchanting tale*

                Despite the work and tales detailed above, I have barely touched upon the lives and work of Elena, Fairy Godmother in the Five Hundred Kingdoms. The novel is written in such a way that twists and turns are continually apparent, and as the reader persists finds themselves recognising fairy tales from childhood but with an adult perspective. Speaking of which there are several more adult style pages but they are written in a tasteful way so as not to offend.

                The main character Elena Klovis stems from a simple, hardworking life, and despite the fantastic opportunity she has accepted, her way of life never deviates from this goodness. There are some excellent, humorous scenes in the book; in particular those regarding unicorns are their personal fetish of only being attracted to virgins.

                Character descriptions are all very well thought out, even if the main male lead is typically handsome, strong and rather well designed - oh he is incredibly arrogant though…but this is a Fairy Tale and why not allow for a little romantic enhancement.

                Mercedes Lackey is a renowned fantasy writer, and although her work isn't as popular over here she has an incredible fan base in the US. Because of her years experience at writing fantasy, this book almost flows from her fingertips, and whilst this isn't a bad thing, it does make the writing quite simplistic at times, and very easy to read. I personally devoured the tale of "The Fairy Godmother", partly because of my love for fairytales and romance, but partly because I personally found it an easy to read novel.

                I must admit I have now read "The Fairy Godmother" several times because I fell in love with the characters and because I'm a lover of fairy tales. In a world such as today where we would rather execute someone than listen, is it no wonder I like to escape from realism. Thankfully Mercedes Lackey has written a sequel…although this isn't due until December 2006.

                For those who enjoy fantasy type novels, interjected with a little romance, would be well advised to purchase "The Fairy Godmother". It's a healthy dose of fairy tales, combined with a little love story, and a sprinkling of romance, ensure the Five Hundred Kingdoms remains true to Tradition…a tale you don't want to miss.


                Mercedes Lackey "The Fairy Godmother" is available from Amazon for £3.67 (an unusual price, but she predominately sells in the US).

                Her follow-up novel "One Good Knight", continuing with the Five Hundred Kingdoms, will be available to purchase from December 2006.

                *Praise for Mercedes Lackey*

                "Lackey has created an intelligent, self possessed heroine with whom many readers will identify" - Publishers Weekly

                "…proving why she's an acknowledged master of her craft with this awesome take on the world of fairytales" - Romantic Times


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                • More +
                  21.08.2006 13:00
                  Very helpful



                  A fantastic resource for book readers

                  To me, the written word is a form of escapism. Escape from the menial day to day tasks, escape into a fantastical world of mystical characters and realms, escape into a world not directly known to myself. Because of my passion for reading I often find myself seeking new authors, or searching for the many novels written by a singular person. To this day I had never found a site true enough to reflect an authors complete works, let alone in chronological order. Then I found a minefield of information in the website “Fantastic Fiction”.

                  Fantastic Fiction is an incredible resource database containing information on over 180,000 books and 9,000 authors. Within its huge catalogue is information on new and old authors, literature that have won awards, bibliographies on authors and direct links to purchase books.

                  The home page of Fantastic Fiction has three search engines:

                  Browse Authors - This allows you to click on any alphabetical letter which in turn will take you to a comprehensive listing of all authors with the surname commencing with that letter. From this is a short listing of popular authors whose names once clicked, takes you directly to their author page.

                  Search Authors – Typing in either the first name or surname of an author will generate a search listing, from which you can either sort by Author Name (based on surname) or popularity of the author.

                  Search Books – This searches on keywords, and once a search listing has been generate, can be re-organised by either Popularity, Book title, first published or Author surname.

                  Generally I search for books using the Browse Authors, and from here explore further, but occasionally I have searched using the keyword section, for example searching for the keyword “enchantment” provided a list of over 100 book titles.

                  Alongside the search engines Fantastic Fiction also promotes new and upcoming (generally 2-4months in advance) books on its homepage. Currently the hardback section is shown on the homepage, with a link adjacent for paperback versions.

                  These promotions tend to have six key books on display, links to other new authors and cover the following genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Thriller, Romance, Mainstream, and Historical.

                  The home page of Fantastic Fiction also has links to the following sections:

                  1. Awards – Links to various literature awards including “The Booker Prize”, “The Richard and Judy Best Read of the Year”, “Whitbread Prize” and “Dagger Awards”. Each link provides a brief description of the award in question, and a listing of the books that have won the award in chronological order.

                  2. New Books – Provides a listing of the books that have been released in the current month, or you can change this to 3 months prior or 3 months later to see proposed releases. The books can be sorted by Hardback, Paperback, Book Title, Release Date and Author.

                  3. Coming soon – Provides a listing of the books due to be released in the coming months. This currently stands at 754 books, and can also be sorted into your relevant categories.

                  4. Most Popular – This section covers the 1000 most popular books. I assume this is based on either sales, or the amount of clicks each page has generated. This list does change quite frequently though, but does provide inspiration if your looking for new authors to try.

                  5. Top 250 Authors – This is a relatively new section, and shows the most visited author pages over the last 30 days. Currently James Patterson is at the top of the list with 5,708 visits, followed by Nora Roberts 5,126 visits and Laurell K Hamilton 3,734 visits. You can narrow your search here by genre.

                  6. Series – Here you can find series that have been contributed to by more than one author. For example, “Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators” which have 44 books in the series, or “Best American Short Stories”. If you are looking for series by individual author you would need to consult that author’s page direct.

                  7. Years – Another relatively new section that provides information on a particular year. For example in 2003 there are details on “Authors who dies during 2003”, “2003 Lifetime Achievement Years”, “2003 Best Novel Awards”, “2003 Best First Novel Awards”, and “2003 Best Collection Awards”. This section actually provides quite valuable resource material.

                  The key component though to “Fantastic Fiction” is the detail on each individual author’s page. For example whilst searching for JK Rowling, a wealth of information was provided. This consisted of a short excerpt about the author, New and Forthcoming books, Series (in chronological order), Non-Fiction series, Non-Fiction, Awards, Books about JK Rowling, Links to websites (official websites are generally listed here), and books that JK Rowling supposedly recommends. Another key component to the author’s page is a listing of other authors that visitors to JK Rowling’s page have also visited. This can generally provide quite a useful inspirational guide, and lead you to authors that you may never have heard of before but share a similar genre of style of writing to the author in question.

                  Fantastic Fiction is certainly an incredible fountain of information for those who are such like-minded about literature. Author pages are complete and bursting with information regarding an author’s books and series. The fact that the books are listed chronologically has always been a godsend, especially to someone who always has to read books in order.

                  The website is a free resource, and has never received any complaints from me. I have discovered authors I have never heard of before, such as Jim Butcher, an American author whose books centre around the skills of a detective wizard, and Posie Graeme-Evans, an author whose work is very similar to that of Philippa Gregory, and of the same era.

                  Through each authors page you have the ability to select a particular book, which then leads you onto purchasing options from either abebooks, Amazon.com or Amazon UK. Unfortunately these links don’t open in a separate browser, but that’s an enhancement Fantastic Fiction may consider in the future.

                  In summary, for a literature fan, I would easily recommend Fantastic Fiction as an excellent resource item.


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                  • More +
                    23.07.2006 13:20
                    Very helpful



                    Who would you rather be? Beauty or the Beast? Choose Wilkinson for Beauty...

                    During the summer months I often find myself wanting to shave my arms and legs more often, especially because the summer heat leads to short skirts, and sleeveless tops. I’m not a huge fan of standard “replace the blade” razors, because I inevitably lose the holder to begin with, so generally buy disposable razors.

                    Wilkinson Sword Extra II razors (5) are my current choice, and are available for £1.95 from Sainsbury’s, with other mainstream supermarkets also stocking them at a similar price. Their bright pink and jade packaging ensures they stand out from the more dowdy looking brands, and appeal to the girly side of me. They are currently classed as Wilkinson Sword Extra II Beauty razors, although this does appear to change dependant on the current years packaging. I have also seen them available in packs of 10. On the back are the ingredients listing, and a quick diagrammatic overview of the main points of the disposable razor.

                    *Razor Design*

                    Inside each package, no larger than a crisp packet, are 5 Pink and Grey razors. The pink strip has raised dots for a non slip extra grip, so you don’t lose control of the razor when shaving those more delicate areas. The twin bladed head, covered in protective plastic casing, has a lubrication strip of Aloe Vera and Vitamin E at the top, which is designed to soothe your skin whilst shaving, and a small release button to separate the blades, clear any hairs and prevent blockages.

                    The lubrication strip contains Vitamin E (Indexed as Tocopheryl Acetate), Aloe Vera (Indexed as Aloe Barbadensis), BHT (Anti oxidant to prevent discolouration) and Lanolin. Lanolin, although a good emollient which helps keep skin soft and smooth, can cause allergic reactions in some people.

                    Each razor appears to be well constructed, and doesn’t look as flimsy as some of the cheaper disposable razors. The colouring is attractive and pleasing to the eye.


                    Luckily for me I only have to endure minimal hair growth of my legs, as a result of suffering from eczema as a child, so don’t need to shave my legs as frequently as some. However as a result of this eczema my legs are more sensitive and prone to rashes and itches when using some razors.

                    I don’t use shaving foams or other similar products when shaving, as I often find this increases the itching but I do ensure my legs are wet to assist the smoothness of the blade. Using the Wilkinson Sword Extra II disposable razors has produced one of the closest and smoothest shaves I have ever experienced from a disposable. The release button helps clear the blade from accumulated stubble, and the Aloe Vera strip combined with the wet shave has prevented any nicks, and gives a nice cooling effect on my sensitive skin. I also moisturise my legs after shaving, and generally notice the odd hair that I have missed, but with Wilkinson this now appears to be a rarity.

                    Rinsing the blade off in cool water cleans the razor, replacing the plastic cap means you allow for further re-use. As my legs require minimal shaving I generally use one razor blade for 2-3 applications before the blade dulls.

                    I also use the Wilkinson Sword Extra II razors to have my armpits and on occasion my bikini line, and have never had any problems here. The pink extra grip strip allows for easier manoeuvrability when shaving, especially along the trickier bikini line. I’ve always noticed that my armpits are very smooth, and the results seem to last for around 48 hours (although this is dependant on personal hair growth). Generally one razor tends to last 3-5 armpit shaves, although during the summer months I prefer to shave daily so will change razors more frequently. It’s all down to personal preference, individual hair growth, and personal usage as to how long the razors will last.


                    Wilkinson Sword has a done a good job producing these razor blades, and has created a successful product. Each razor costs less than 40 pence, and can last for several applications depending on personal usage, although the Aloe Vera strip does diminish slightly with each further use.

                    I personally use these disposable razors on my legs, armpits and bikini line and have never suffered any adverse effects, a bonus considering I suffer from sensitive and dry skin, particularly on my legs, so am always wary of certain products. The quality of the shave is excellent, and the results long lasting.

                    I’ve seen the product available offline in many supermarkets and chemists (although for differing prices), and although appears to be slightly more expensive than some brands, but their ease of use, performance quality and overall results mean I would rather pay the extra couple of pence, than be subject to nicks and cuts on my body.


                    *Wilkinson Sword*

                    If you would like further information on the Wilkinson Sword products, then please log onto http://www.wilkinson-sword.co.uk/ . Here you can find information on their latest products, grooming secrets and the odd fun section.

                    Wilkinson Sword GmbH, Schutzenstr. 110, 42659 Solingen, Germany


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                      12.07.2006 20:21
                      Very helpful



                      A expensive but valuable purchase

                      Although I have always had a rough idea of how much I weigh, I never owned a pair of scales until recently. I've always been a bit of a control freak with my weight, having been bullied when I was younger, mainly through being that little bit bigger than the popular kids. So having joined a gym recently to take control of my body and actually love who I am, I thought I would also purchase some scales…but not just ordinary scales, those that gave a little bit more information about the state of my body as well.


                      I chose to purchase the Weight Watchers Body Fat Precision Electronic Scales which are available from Argos (and other good retails stores) for £34.99. The Weight Watchers Precision Scales use the latest technology to provide readings of Body Weight, body Fat, Body Water Percentage and Body Mass Index (BMI).


                      Our bodies are made up of two basic components, Lean Body Mass and Fat Mass - which is technically body fat. Now although our body needs a certain amount of fat, most of us carry too much around our bodies. For example, a woman of 30, in good general health condition, should have a body fat percentage of between 19-24%. Anything over 29.1% is classed as overweight.

                      This is why Weight Watchers feel it is so important that we monitor our Body Fat, as this can result in increased vitality and a general sense of well being when we are within the correct range.

                      *Weight Watchers Precision Scales*

                      The Weight Watchers Precision Scales have small pads at the top, where you place your foot. An Imperceptible current then runs through your body, analysing the different fatty tissues, lean body mass and water within your body. If your feet are not aligned properly on the scales (Remember barefoot!) an error message with appear.

                      As well as measuring the BMI and Body Percentages, the Weight Watchers Scales have a 10 person memory data bank, allowing you to program a personalised memory bank by inputting fitness level, gender, height and age. When you tap the scales to activate you can select your personal data and proceed with the body measurements.

                      The scales can register in Kilograms, Stones and Pounds, or Pounds only, and can be changed by using the switch on the underside of the scale. The scales can also be used either on carpet of on a hard surface by the inclusion of 4 "carpet feet" which allow for more accurate readings on carpets.

                      In order to use the product, you place it on a flat surface, tap the top to activate and wait a few seconds until "0:0" is displayed. After selecting your user profile, you can then step onto the scales, ensuring your feet are aligned correctly, and then first your weight will be displayed, 3 seconds later your BMI is displayed, followed by your fitness level, body fat weight, body fat percentage and finally body water percentage before automatically switching off.

                      If you just wish to use the scales for weight only, then don't select a user profile, and the scales can be used as normal.

                      The guide booklet provided with the scales is very helpful and inside contains table showing guidelines to body fat percentage, body water percentage and BMI, as well as full instructions on how to program the scales.

                      Key features:

                      • Measures body fat in 0.1% increments
                      • Monitors BMI and Body water in %
                      • 10 person memory of age, height and gender
                      • Measures weight in kg, stone or lbs
                      • Weighs up to 23st 8lbs (150kg)
                      • Large 1 ¼" lithium display
                      • Carpet Feet

                      *Key weight points to note*

                      • As results can vary between different scales, it is best to try and use one scale only, to ensure consistency.
                      • You should always try and weigh your self at the same time each day (preferably in the morning)
                      • Many factors can cause weight fluctuations such as being on your period; being ill etc so it is best to monitor yourself over a period of time.
                      • For body fat and BMI calculations you must be barefoot to allow the current to analyse your personal data

                      *Safety Cautions*

                      • Use of this equipment is not recommended for people wearing an electronic implant because of the current that passes through when analysing the data.
                      • Do not immerse in water
                      • Keep out of reach of children
                      • Do not drop the scale as this could damage the sensors
                      • When the battery has run down ensure it is disposed of correctly.

                      The Weight Watchers Precision Scales run on one lithium battery (3V - CR2032) and can be changed by locating the battery compartment on the rear of the scales. A single battery is provided with the scales, and from my understanding of others who have purchased this product the battery lasts well over a year.

                      The scales are guaranteed for 10 years (excluding the battery) so please remember to register your scales at the time of purchase.


                      Well I know now that my BMI is telling me I'm marginally overweight, my body fat percentage is borderline moderate, and my body water hydration level is below the recommended level, according to the World Health Organisation, and aren't I pleased I spent £35 on a product to tell me that!

                      I do think this product is a very good purchase, as although your weight is a good measurement of health, combined with BMI, body fat and body water calculations you are now in possession of several tools to use as part of your healthy lifestyle.

                      Rather than focusing on that one goal of losing so many pounds, I now realise I need to control my BMI and body fat also, as this can lead to other serious health complications in life, and for a mere £35 for a product that is guaranteed for 10 years I will be using it to help with my new regime in finding the fitter, healthier me.

                      (note: - with purchases from Argos you can enjoy 50% of the Weight Watchers magazine when you take out an annual subscription)

                      Recommended purchase


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                      • Fleshwounds - Skin / Music Album / 57 Readings / 50 Ratings
                        More +
                        07.07.2006 23:12
                        Very helpful



                        Powerful vocals enhanced by Skin's realism

                        Skin, the former vocalist from successful rock bund “Skunk Anansie” returned full-throttle with her debut album “Fleshwounds” in 2003, two years after Skunk Anansie departed in 2001. The rebellious, striking features, shaven head and “grab them by the balls” attitude was at the full front of Skunk Anansie’s success with music embracing the true nature of politics, racism and prejudice, so with the release of her debut album it was time to see if the rebellion had been tamed.

                        Instantly the moment the CD begins to play, the echoing strains of her beautiful voice filter through the room, voiding all previous thoughts of rebellion, angst and heartbreaking strain. “Faithfulness”, the opening track is more in sync with an artist who has been classically trained, rather than thrust upon the scene screaming and shouting. The song is intimate, powerful, melodic, highlighted by the backing artists and gentle drums and guitar. “Faithfulness, distracts me from my ever changing”, lyrical genius.

                        Although “Faithfulness” seems impossible to follow “Trashed” and “Don’t let me down” continue the more intimate lyrical nature of her music. Higher chords and rhythmic beats enhance Skin’s vocal cords. The opening vocals on “Don’t let me down” are beautiful, skin trembling, and passionate. “I can’t conceive, the way this feels, you’ve grown so old, like your counting the tears”…each verse inspires the way you think and feel.

                        The reinvented Skink appears to have gently tamed as the album progresses. There is none of the political rebellious songs that pushed her to the forefront of pop music; instead there is a more adult quality to her music. Her music clings to the listener, and encourages them to live and breathe the echoing, melodic sounds. Each track concentrates on its lyrical brilliance.

                        “Listen to yourself” brings an element of Skunk Anansie back into the pipeline, but mainly due to its opening harder beat, and stronger, slighter harsher vocals. Power courses through her veins and threw her voice with lyrics such as “These wet sheets, sex sodden, mind spent and ill at ease, your mirror, screams out this dark release”. Each verse has a hint at her past, yet embraces her future vocals and sound also.

                        Gentle symbol playing and slight keyboard movements are the only opening accompaniment to Skin in “The trouble with me”. Although the song has a slight resemblance to other classic romance songs, her edgy and gritty style ensure this song remains unique. Lyrics such as “Stupid me I should have listen to you anyway” that are sung with passion and volume capture the lilting highlights of Skin’s powerful voice.

                        “You’ve made your bed” opens with a small range of piano notes, before introducing Skin’s opening powerful line “”I’m a one night stand, screwed a whole damn year, cos your sneaky face, comes streaked with tears”. Each line is dealt with such passion that you can almost hear the tears as though this was based on a real life experience. Each ending note is held perfectly, merging into the unique background music before the next verse. Close your eyes and you can almost taste the atmosphere within the song. Following on, “As long as that’s true” has a very similar opening, with the piano accompaniment playing a large part. Her style is a completely different structure to the raw passion of her more hedonistic previous days.

                        “Burnt like you” is the shortest track on the album, but is just as strong and embracing as her other tracks. The intimate lyrics and lilting vocals lift the song, whilst the guitar playing in the background brings the melodies into focus.

                        Closing her debut album is “’Til Morning”, a haunting, introduction to the sweetest, highest and delectable notes that Skin has achieved on this album. “Take these sore eyes, I’ve no use for them, now I feel, there’s nothing left to see” are powerful lyrics sung with raw passion as Skin reveals the truth behind his lies in her closing track. With not a note out of place, Skin closes her debut album with as much imaginative, passion and power as she opened it.

                        Although it’s hard to compare the old Skin, of Skunk Anansie days with the new Skin, and Fleshwounds, that doesn’t in any way detract from the incredible artist that Skin is. Strumming guitars, passionate lyrics, harmonious vocals, passionate yet gentle drumming all encapsulate the intimacy that is Skin’s new direction with Fleshwounds. It would be hard to name a single artist that Skin even dares resemble, easy to name those that have tried to reach and emulate her style, such as Jasmine Cain, Christina Aguilera and Kelly Clarkson, but none of those come close to capturing Skin’s vibrant and power energy that is pushed into every track.

                        Although she has detracted from the punk rebellion sty, her new intimate focus on passionate, honest lyrics this is a direction in which Skin feels completely at home in travelling. To me, her opening song “Faithfulness” is most akin to her older, more youthful and reckless style, whilst the lyrics in “you’ve made your bed” encapsulate the new intimate style, providing newer listeners with a chance to embrace the passionate writing and music of Skin.

                        Despite Fleshwounds being released three years ago, it is still a popular album, both with Skunk Anansie fans and her new “Skin” fans, and can be found at most good music stores, retailing for around £7.99.



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                        • More +
                          26.06.2006 12:46
                          Very helpful



                          A handy little radio for on the move music at excellent quality

                          During May 2006 with the anticipation of the 2006 FIFA World Cup building, my partner decided in order to maximise his watching and listening of every game played he would buy himself a Sports Digital Radio in order to listen to the BBC 5 Live Sports Extra channel for those times when he was unable to watch the action on telly.

                          So we decided to purchase a Roberts RD-14 Sports DAB from Curry's for a reasonable £99.99. I say reasonable because my partner wanted to purchase the more expensive DAB at £170, but I managed to persuade him otherwise. Basically it's a good idea I did, as the radio has become redundant by him since to games started, and has fallen into my possession.

                          At a glance, the Roberts RD-14 is marketed as a FM RDS/DAB digital radio ideal for using with BBC 5 Live Sports but obviously is ideal for any personal stereo listening.


                          Packed in its own nice little box, the silver DAB comes complete with an AC Adapter, White in ear headphones (with additional soft covers), and two AA Size batteries - convenient since so many products fail to come with batteries.

                          The Radio whilst looking a little chunky is actually very light,and measures approximately 65mm x 90mm x 20mm, so it isn't cumbersome to carry around.

                          Also included are a handy manual, covering the important topics such as first time usage, searching for stations, manual and automatic tuning and favourite's mode.

                          *Initial operation*

                          The Roberts RD-14 has to be one of the simplest radios to operate - possible because of the price, but maybe the answer is behind the name, as Roberts hold three Royal Warrants and have been making radios since 1932.

                          In summary, it's as easy as installing the batteries, plugging in your headphones, turning the radio one, clicking to enter the find services, and the radio will scan for all available stations. The display also shows a scanning message and progress bar.

                          Once the auto find has completed, just click to select the station you want to listen to, and adjust the volume so you don't deafen yourself.

                          *Continued Operation*

                          The radio has 5 preset graphical icons representing the areas that can be selected on the radio. These are:

                          1. Favourites - this section is one of my favourites as it allows you to add or remove stations from your favourites list. This can save you time searching for the station when the DAB picks up signals from a large number as they will appear at the top of your list with a small heart next to them. You can store a maximum of 128 entries in the favourites list.

                          2. Switch to FM waveband

                          3. Find Services - this is the section that allows you to auto tune or manually tune your radio. I tend to let this auto tune as it is far easier to do so. Under the Find Services is a section called Auto tune Band III - DAB. This is used if you are operating your DAB outside of the UK.

                          4. Settings - Display, Frequency tuning etc

                          5. Back

                          It's a simple click to enter any of these options, and further detail instructions can be found where applicable.

                          The display itself is clear and easy to read, and comes in two predefined settings:

                          1. Station name, time/date, signal and battery level and a single line of scrolling text

                          2. Station name and full text, without scrolling along the screen allowing you to read the text easier.

                          I personally prefer the simplified version, as I'm not really that bothered about reading the text item.

                          There are other areas on the DAB that people might be interested in, such as service information on the stations, or channel and frequency tuning.


                          Alongside the on/off button the DAB has a key lock function to prevent unintentional changes of the station you are listening to which can be switched, this comes in very handy when your storing your DAB in your pocket, as the movement can cause the stations to switch.

                          The backlight on the DAB highlights for approximately 12 seconds when any button is pressed, so handy for those night time listening sessions before you drop off to sleep - which brings to the next handy button - the Auto Power off. Basically you can set the auto power off to switch the DAB off after a preset time has elapsed. This can be handy if you want the music to lull you to sleep, but you don't want to waste 8 hours worth of battery.

                          You can restore all settings to default at any time as well…just by selecting it.


                          Well buttons and settings are all well and good on a new toy, but what I really wanted was a vast choice of stations to listen to, at good quality.
                          Well I haven't been disappointed. Whenever I have reset the search, and ran an auto tune I've been able to find at least 15 different radio stations ranging from:

                          BBC 5 Live Sport Extra, alongside 10 other BBC Stations
                          Planet Rock
                          Virgin Radio
                          Classic FM

                          The majority of these stations have a crystal clear sound and excellent signal, but there are a few - Planet Rock included - that sometimes have difficulty connecting properly and you can hear a slight hissing in the background due to the weak signal. You can lessen this by changing the audio mode to mono, but it doesn't make that much difference.


                          Well would I pay close to £100 for a DAB radio again? Probably, but maybe next time I'd go for one with a few more gadgets, buttons and accessories for the price, especially considering there and many adequate competitors out on the market for a much lower price.

                          The Roberts RD-14 does come with a years guarantee like most products, but this doesn't cover intentional damage from incorrect usage.

                          The manual provided is extremely helpful and provides a contact number for technical support through the guide, as well as guidelines about using the radio when wet.

                          In conclusion, it never really fulfilled the purpose behind our purchase, but that's because we never gave it chance. Instead it's become handy and ideal to listen to the radio, without disturbing others whilst reading, cleaning, and generally lounging around. With near perfect quality and signal I would recommend the Roberts RD-14 Sports DAB to prospective purchasers.


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                          • More +
                            19.06.2006 16:44
                            Very helpful



                            A lively, cheap bar in the heart of Reading

                            When visiting the town of Reading, there are several local, friendly bars that I like to frequent. Public houses that cater for different styles and tastes but always offer a welcoming smile and a decent served pint. One of my favourites is The Turks, situated along the London Road, near Reading Hospital.

                            The Turks, previously know as The Firkin has recently undergone several dramatic changes. The ownership has recently changed hands, and The Turks has been left with some fantastically vibrant personalities and a friendly atmosphere. Generally speaking The Turks is known as a student bar, especially considering its pint prices (Guinness, Carling, Fosters and a few local beers) start from GBP 1.80 - a vast change from the more expensive prices of the many town bars. There are plentiful amounts of spirits available ranging from Jack Daniels, to Smirnoff Vodka, although the mixers are less well known. For example, where most pubs offer Red Bull or alternatives, The Turks sell "Shark" a very similar drink to Red Bull but cheaper in price.

                            The interior of The Turks would put off all but the most heartened newcomers, with it's wooden tables and chair, gaudy sofa's and dark drab appearance, but once past the lack of glamour and sophistication you will find a pub that welcomes you with open arms. The Juke Box is always kept updated with the latest punk/metal bands albums, and the bar staff are always open to suggestions for alternate music that could be incorporated. Alongside the Juke Box, The Turks have recently (over the last couple of months) starting allowing local bands to play live on Saturday nights. These nights are guaranteed to leave you with your ears ringing, but also an appreciation of the local talent often unheard in the bigger towns. As an example "Confuzin Jack", "MonkeyFist", "Outlaw" and "School for the Gifted" and a few of those chosen bands appearing over the next couple of weeks. Their music varies from stoner metal, to southern rock, to thrash metal and although this may not appeal to all certainly ensures a lively and vibrant evening, alongside free entrance and low priced drinks.

                            Sporting events are another big event at "The Turks" and they have 3 standard screens available to watch as well as a larger screen to the rear of the pub. Alongside this is a pool table operating on the same rules as many, with winner stays on. I have never seen any arguments over the way this is operated, and seems a lot fairer than one group putting twenty quid down, only for no one else to get a look in. Quite often even the sporting events are only localised of not main events they will only show them at the rear of the pub, allowing the Juke Box to be heard down at the front and to allow for different types of clientele.

                            The Turks has recently started to serve food again, between the hours of 12-3 and 6-9 on most days. The menu here is plentiful serving your traditional pub grub, e.g. burgers and chips, rump steaks, etc, and all for very reasonable prices. A typical ham, eggs, and chips meal will cost around GBP 3.50, and the rump steaks are on offer with two, including all the trimmings, for GBP 6.99. A bargain if I ever heard one…and to be honest the pub food is a lot taster than many I have tried. Simple but effective.

                            One of the few disappointing points of The Turks are the toilets, although compared to some bars the problems are insignificant. I mean, toilet rolls are always in plentiful supply, as is hot water, an automatic hand drying machine, and lockable toilets, but they just don't have the touch of class you would get at the Hilton. Basically they are typical pub toilets - it's not like you plan on spending the entire evening in their anyway!

                            On the opposite end of the spectrum however, is the entertaining bar staff. One girl in particular, a huge Down fan, sports a stunning mass of bright pink hair, several facial piercing's and a large array of tattoo's, however don't ever let that put you off (yes, it does some people) as she is one of the most lively and brilliant personalities in The Turks. The majority of the bar staff do support multiple tattoo's, piercings and wear their own unique style of clothing but that's what makes The Turks so appealing. There is no pretentiousness or bitchy sarcastic bar staff serving you, everyone is genuine and approachable - something I prefer 10 times over to the more snooty wine bars - and they can all serve a decent pint!

                            Inside the pub is also an ATM machine, allowing for easy cash access - although typically this does charge you GBP 1.50 to withdraw your own money, and a cigarette machine which although more expensive than a newsagents is cheaper than some…and generally in stock with your preferred band.

                            Outside The Turks is a reasonable sized paving area, allowing for outside seating - a must when the sun is shining and you can people watch with a nice pint in your hand - off which several small tables and chair are provided and a traditional picnic bench. Unfortunately there is no parking, but that's to be expected in a town bar…and you can always park your car in the Oracle Car Park and walk the 5 minutes to The Turks head (even stopping at Great Expectations on the way). The paving area allows for easy wheelchair access, and although the entrance is a little narrow there is plenty of room inside.

                            Although a lot of people would be disappointed by the old wood furnishings, the drab décor and the small narrow entrance, once inside what more do you need than to be served a decent pint, at a decent price, and can listen to bands than most of the mainstream pubs wouldn't even dare play. Generally during the day the atmosphere is lighter, and is the ideal place to stop for a refreshing pint on the way home, and in the evening varies from day to day dependant on the bands playing and the day of the week, but I have never had to wait ages to be served, and any delays are quickly apologised away. Basically I thoroughly recommend The Turks head, and will be a frequent visitor for many a day to come. Check it out - you might find you enjoy yourself.

                            If you fancy being scared about the antic at The Turks, check out www.myspace.com/theturksreading and be prepared to live a little!


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                            • sainsburys.co.uk / Online Shop / 72 Readings / 69 Ratings
                              More +
                              25.03.2006 11:12
                              Very helpful



                              An easy way to browse and complete your weekly shop

                              Since 2004 I have been a regular user of several online food sites, in particular Sainsbury's because I benefit from their Nectar Reward Points scheme, making them my main choice of online shopper. I have also used Ocado, and Tesco but have found overall that Sainsbury's is the most consistent with its delivery times, service, and provision of the goods I've ordered.

                              *Website Login*

                              Sainsbury’s home delivery service can be found at www.sainsburystoyou.com. The actual website used to be very slow when it was first introduced, but the pages now load a lot quicker, bringing to your attention Sainsbury's latest promotions and offers.

                              If it’s your first time using the home delivery service – there is a postcode check, to ensure that they are able to deliver to your home. Once this is confirmed you need to create a customer login in order to purchase items from the store. Your customer login includes your delivery address and your nectar card number to ensure you receive nectar points on your order.

                              Otherwise, on the right hand side is the customer log in, where as normal your username and password are required.

                              *Delivery details*

                              Although delivery is something you would normally consider at the end, Sainsbury’s recommend booking your delivery slot before you commence your shopping, so as to ensure any promotional offers are still valid at the time your delivery is made. The time slot is reserved for 2 hours, although I have known this to be extended once I've started actually putting items into my trolley.

                              The standard delivery charge is £5; although at present there is an offer for free delivery on a Tuesday/Wednesday or Thursday if you’re shopping is over £70.00

                              *Home Page*

                              Once you account has been created you are directed to your “homepage”. Here the website is personalised to your own shopping needs.

                              Immediately you are presented with either a list of your usual purchased items (if you have used the site before) or a link to shopping for your groceries, by exploring the aisles and shelves.

                              To the right you are advised of the status of your account, showing the items in your trolley, booked delivery times and any scheduled orders you are waiting for.

                              *Find a Product*

                              If you are having difficulty finding a particular product then the top right section of the screen has a search field. The search function is actually very good, and tends to find alternatives as well as direct results to your search.

                              *Your Usual*

                              This was my favourite part of the website…The “Your Usual” selection lists all the products you have recently bought from Sainsbury’s. This is designed to help you shop quicker by selecting from a list of products that you would normally buy, rather than searching through the “Aisles”.

                              I had 11 pages, of previously purchased items, and was pleased to see that where I had previously purchased a product, that was unavailable now, an alternative item was now listed.

                              In order to select the items you wished to purchase, you need to change the quantity from zero to the required amount, by pressing the plus and minus signs. If you scroll through the list before pressing Add, you will notice an “Add all selected items” button at the bottom.

                              Please note though, that I have experienced several errors on this page. If you select the “Add all selected items” and then realise you have missed something on that page, you are unable to go back and add it. Currently you need to re-search for that item.

                              *Aisles and Shelves”

                              Basically all of the Aisles currently in Sainsbury’s stores will appear listed down the left half of the web page. They range from Bakery and Cakes, to Dairy – Cheese, to pickles, Preserves, Oils and Spreads, to Vegetables and Salads. The list is very detailed.

                              If you click on the “Aisle” you require it will bring up another selection of items in that Aisle. For example if you chose Meat, Alternatives and Poultry, the list is broken down into the different types of meat available.

                              Once the subsection has been selected, the list of products will appear. Here you can select your products, again by changing the quantity and adding them to your shopping list.

                              *Your Trolley*

                              A reminder of the items you have selected, is constantly on the right hand side of the web page. As you add products to your trolley they are displayed here, with an estimated price, and an estimated total is shown also.

                              You can select items in your trolley, and amend the quantity or just delete the items from your list, if you prefer. The total cost is then updated automatically.

                              *Recipes and Ideas*

                              This section is ideal if you are preparing a particular Sainsbury's recipe meal, and wish to purchase all the required ingredients. Here you have that option, and once a recipe has been chosen, you can select the option to purchase all the ingredients on the list, or just select the chosen items

                              *Check out*

                              Checking out is easy to do once you have confirmed your shopping details. You are asked to enter your payment details and confirm your password for security measures. Once the system has registered your shopping, you are sent an e-mail confirming the details of your shopping, the booked delivery time, and a reference code if you have any further queries.

                              If you find you have forgotten something once you have checked out, you have a limited time period to go back into your trollery and add items. Please remember though that you will need to check out again for this to go through.


                              I have never had any problems with delivery, and have even received a £10 voucher when my delivery man was late by 5 minutes. He was perfectly reasonable and apologised for being late.

                              Occasionally products I had ordered were unavailable on that day, but Sainsbury’s have always provided alternatives, although not always to my satisfaction. You can either accept your alternatives or arrange for them to be returned and your account credited.

                              Once you have confirmed any alternate selections, and ychecked your receipt, the drivers will deliver the shopping direct to your doorstep.


                              I have been pleasantly surprised with the online service, as I was a bit sceptical at first but over time use the service almost very reguarly. I've received additional products that I had not ordered, mixed in throughout my shopping, products that if purchased would have paid for the delivery charge.

                              I’m not sure if this will always be the case – but talking to friends and family has revealed that they also have received similar priced products within there shopping.


                              Sainsbury’s to you is a good service, especially for the elderly or people who are unable to reach a supermarket for their shopping, or for people who are just too busy.

                              The website used to be very slow and time consuming but Sainsbury's appear to have resolved this issue, and now everything is fine.

                              Value for money is also good – especially with the additional free extras that happened to cover the delivery charge, and I was able to choose from the same special offers that were available in store. I also found it particularly useful having the option to purchase the same products every time by the compiled “Your Usual” lists.

                              Although online shopping is a luxury thing for many people, I do occasionally prefer it. I can spend time in my own home selecting my shopping, and then arrange for someone to deliver it for me. I don't miss out on special offers, and have always received excellent service.



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                              • More +
                                12.03.2006 10:34
                                Very helpful



                                A refreshing beverage that can be used in summer of winter

                                As much as I love the refreshing taste of pure juices, I refuse to pay the prices that some of our local supermarkets insist on charging. As an alternative I tend to browse the section of squash drinks, in particular the Robinson’s range.

                                Robinson’s offer several different flavoured squash drinks, including Pink Grapefruit, Summer Fruits, Blackcurrant along with their new range of fruit shoots, however it was the Apple & Blackcurrant flavour that caught my eye.

                                The deep reddish/purple coloured liquid is very striking when compared to some of the more insipid colours in the range, and as it’s held within a clear plastic bottle, adorned with very simple labelling it clearly stands out.

                                The Apple & Blackcurrant soft drink is made from concentrate, and as such contains added sweeteners to apparently enrich the taste, however these sweeteners contained within this product actually increases the sweetness to much if you’re not careful when diluting the concentrate product. I’d recommend using 1/5th or even 1/6th concentrate with the remainder water when preparing your drink, of which Robinson’s also recommend extra water is used when the squash is given to toddlers.

                                Please note that Robinsons Apple & Blackcurrant contains a source of Phenylalanine – one of the main ingredients in artificial sweetener. Although Phenylalanine is actually an important part of our diet (assists protein) there are people who cannot metabolise phenylalanine and as such the warnings are included on all products containing phenylalanine.

                                Robinsons Apple and Blackcurrant’s taste is actually dominated by the apple inclusion, not surprising when there is 9% apple compared to only 2% blackcurrant however the pure blackcurrant squashes can taste a little bitter so adding a more dominant apple taste sweetens the squash and makes it more enjoyable. The added sweeteners are unfortunately still apparent, even when diluted and this causes the drink to taste overly sweet. If you dilute the squash to much you lose the taste of the blackcurrants and apples and instead drink slightly flavoured water – which may appeal to some.

                                When drinking the squash the apple (and sugar) are the first tastes to tantalise your taste buds, the blackcurrant is more of an afterthought and this tends to linger on your tongue after you have swallowed your mouthful. Depending on the dilution you mouth is also left slightly dry – this can be reduced by adding more water and increasing the refreshment of the beverage.

                                My preference is to serve the squash ice-cold, diluted 1/6th squash to water, enabling me to experience fully the bitterness of the blackcurrant, sweetened by the inclusion of the apples, without having an overdose of the added sweeteners.

                                Robinsons Apple & Blackcurrant squash is low calorie at only 8 calories per 100ml, and contains 1.1g of carbohydrates per 100ml. The squash also provides you with 17% of your Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamins B6 and B12 when made up to 250ml diluted as per their instructions.

                                Obviously my personal preferences will be different than other people’s, but if you are looking for a refreshing drink that can be used as a winter warmer (using hot water), or a summer cooler than Robinson’s come close to the mark every time. Despite being a little overly sweet, additional dilution solves this problem, and actually manages to make 3 bottles last just under 2 weeks in my household when diluted to this level. The Robinson’s range, as mentioned above, contains many different flavours so why not try next time you go shopping.

                                Each bottle has a very reasonable shelf life with items purchased in Waitrose at just under a £1 in February 2006, having a best before date of February 2007. Obviously prices are dependant on your local shop or supermarket.

                                If you wish to contact Robinsons to enquire about any or the products, or ask any comments and queries, their address is found on the reverse of the bottle. For reference this is Consumer Care, Robinsons Soft Drinks Ltd, Chelmsford, CM1 1TU.


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                                • More +
                                  19.02.2006 11:56
                                  Very helpful



                                  Energetic, Lively, Powerful, Strong, Vulnerable, Raw, Operatic, Melodic

                                  Jasmine Cain began her introduction to music at the tender age of 6, in her home town of South Dakota. Moving to Tennessee she was able to pursue her career as a rock singer, and in 2004, her album entitled “The Inside” was produced in the USA, co-produced by Jasmine herself. Working on “The Inside” with alongside Jasmine were Brian Hobaugh, from Minneapolis a talented and energetic drummer who joined in 2003, and Rikk Legions also from Tennessee.

                                  Jasmine Cain style can only be described as a gutsy Rock and Roll, with a punchy modern edge. She herself is an aggressive female vocalist who commands the album with her strong vocals and gritty country edged voice in a style very similar to Alanis Morissette, but with her own individual stamp on the vocals.

                                  The album cover looks very rock chick and indeed very professionally done and the insert contains the Lyrics to the tracks contained on the album.

                                  Opening the album is the upbeat titled track “The Inside” showing influences from old school Rock and Roll, Country and some blue. The steady drum beat throughout the song matches Jasmines tempo, increasing with the chorus, and lines such as “I’m only here for the sunshine, I’m only here for a quick, cheap thrill” enhance the gutsy rock girl attitude that Jasmine portrays. Her voice is strong, melodic, rough and energetic with every passing beat.

                                  “Washes you away” is more subdued than the opening track but is no less melodic giving listeners a chance to listen to the strong notes held by Jasmine. The chorus changes the structure of the song entirely when her voice travels through different ranges, becoming almost more operatic with its strength and sound, and then later in the song a little girl voice reaches increasing tempos before belting out some extremely strong vocal chords.

                                  Mid-range songs on the album include “Getting’ High” a quite repetitive song discussing the lesser points of getting high and shooting up, although there are some excellent notes held to perfection earlier on in the track and some strong guitar riffs played. “I Want my Money Back” opens with a steady drum beat and an attitude style rock vocal from Jasmine but never really catches the same level as the other tracks on the album, and doesn’t quite capture the listener’s attention due to its more broody nature than some of the other tracks.

                                  “The Enemy” is rather similar to some of Avril Lavigne’s music but with a lower gutsy stronger vocal than. Strong guitar riffs and energetic drum beats help maintain the strong attitude of this track. “November” is a diamond in the rough. November is a more acoustic ballad with the introduction of a violin that seems to echo the more haunting tones of Jasmine’s vocals. The delicate power of the song is enhanced with vocals such as “People stare as you walk by, feeling weak you start to cry, wipe the teardrop from your eye, your soul keeps hoping”. Despite the track being of such a dissimilar style to the remainder of the album it grabs you by the heart strings and forces you to listen to the beautiful violin and haunting sound. The track sounds almost raw and vulnerable showing a different side to the gutsy rock attitude chick portrayed in the other tracks.

                                  Despite the melodic sound of “November”, Jasmine punches the air waves with “Help Me”, a strong vocal track accompanied by a heavy bass and powerful drum beat. “Twisted fingertips, silence twisted words from your twist” are the complete opposite to the soulful vocals of the previous track but it doesn’t fail to grab your attention. This is followed by “Not Gonna Turn Back”, a ballsy rough fuck you kind of attitude track where strong vocals emit from Jasmine as her lyrics defy those against her and force her to fight back. Strong powerful lyrics encompass the passion of the music style.

                                  “Sweet Euphoria” is beautiful. An operatic melodic vocal reaches the ears and heart of the listener. High pitched vocals alongside a slightly weak piano accompaniment urge the listener to hear the tracks “I need to feel your love running through my veins”. Breathy vocals alter the mood slightly as Jasmine urges her love to return. The final track on the album “Landshark” is a return to the energetic and lively Jasmine, but for some reason the track doesn’t quite fit, especially when placed next to the vulnerable “Sweet Euphoria”.

                                  Jasmine Cain rocks. Her punchy, ballsy, rock chick attitude encompasses everything a strong woman should hold, whilst her softer, raw, more vulnerable side is also revealed enabling the female listener (and even the male) to empathise with every lyric she sings using her powerful voice. The fragility of her voice goes against the grain when it changes to the stronger energetic get up and scream songs but this just allows the listener to appreciate the range of emotions and vocals that Jasmine is clearly capable of performing. Her style is so similar to Alanis Morissette, Avril Lavigne and echoes similarities to the stronger tracks from Sheryl Crow that you just have to keep hitting the repeat button in order to catch the euphoric feelings revealed the first time round.


                                  Check out www.jasminecain.com if your interested in finding out more, and the availability of the current album “The Inside”, currently retailing for around USD 12. (GBP 7.50 – but you will incur shipping costs)


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