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As a piano player, I am awful called upon to play the church organ for many wedding and funerals that occur in my local parish - a great little earner! However, as I moved away from the area a while ago, I generally only agree to play these days, only for friends and family who are getting married. A friend of mine contacted me some months ago and asked if I would mind playing the organ at her wedding, to which I agreed as it meant a little weekend home, and I said I would play the music as a wedding present. Shortly before the big day, I got a phone call from her telling me that the organ at the church was broken and I would have to play a keyboard which was being borrowed from a Local secondary school. The Keyboard in question was the Yamaha PSR-290.
I was surprised by how light weight this instrument is, so light weight that I was a little worried about the quality of it as I managed to carry both the instrument and the adapter to the church from the car unassisted. It was very easy to set up, simply plug it into the mains supply and away you go. The range is approx. 5 octaves.
As I had expected, the sound isn't amazing, there is a range of 100 voices on this instrument, and quite a lot of them sounded rather artificial and somewhat laughable, the original 'piano' sound being one of them. I ended up settling for 'chapel organ' sound to play most of the hymns on, and the 'string ensemble' sound to play the bridal march (Pachelbel's Canon) and some of the instrumental Irish slow airs.
This keyboard has two speakers built into the front of it and the sound was adequate to carry across a fairly large sized catholic church, there is however a plug in the back which can be used to plug in an amplifier if required. While this instrument was fine for what the bride requested - simply traditional church songs and a few Irish slow airs, I would not recommend it for more advanced players who may want to play pieces such as Bach's Ave Maria or Laudate Dominum.
All in all, I got away with using this instrument for the wedding, however, I was not happy and felt that the performance would have sounded 100 times better on the traiditional organ. I think this would be good as a practice instrument, or for someone who is not sure about the commitment of buying an acoustic or electronic piano... I cant see it serving well for those with lots of experience though.
I picked these up at a recent visit to Tescos as I have been trying to save money - I have become a little obsessed with trying out products from the supermarket 'value' ranges. Like many other shortbread fingers, they come in a pack of ten fingers, neatly packaged in the familiar tesco value wrapper. They are just the right size for enjoying with a cup of tea, or as a cheeky snack when you think no one is looking.
At 13p for a packet that contains ten individual biscuits, therefore working out at just over a penny each - in my opinion this is amazing value. The pack in total weighs 125 grams.
These fingers don't look any different to some of the more expensive competitors. However, while I think they are great value for money at 13p, there is a much less buttery and sweet taste than you might come to expect from shortbread. While eating them, you can definitely tell that they are not the real McCoy! The taste a lot more biscuity than other shortbread and you loose that sweet sugary flavour - however, you could always use this to your advantage (as I do) by telling yourself that they are therefore better for you as they contain less of the ingredients that make shortbread such a fattening snack.
The Nutritional Information:
This product contains (per 100grams)
- 65 calories
- 2.1g of sugars
- 3.3g of fat (of which 1.9g is saturates)
Although this isn't the healthiest snack in the world, as previously mentioned, it does fare better when compared to some of the more expensive brand!
As mentioned before, they are not as sweet or buttery as some of the more expensive brands, however, I think they still taste great! And for 13p per packet - I think you could do a lot worse! Give 'em a dunk!
The Product Itself:
I was awfully confused when I first seen these for sale in the supermarket. They are a instant noodle based snack that looks very similar and is available in the same flavours as the infamous 'Pot Noodle' - however they are made by Golden Wonder - I had always thought it was in fact this company that made the Pot Noodle - however, after a bit of internet research (yes, I'm that geeky) I learned that the Pot Noodle brand had been sold and this is Golden Wonders attempt and regaining some of the market share in the noodle snack industry.
As you would imagine, the product looks and is prepared in a similar fashion to that age old stack we have grown to love. At the moment there are two flavours available, Chicken and Mushroom (which doesn't actually contain and chicken) and Chip Shop Curry. So on a recent trip to Morrisons, I noticed that there were on special at 3 pots for £2 so I decided to give them a try as the normally cost 85p each - always a keen eye for a bargain. I picked up two of the chip shop curry flavour and one of the chicken and mushroom.
Like the Pot Noodle, you simply 'tear off the lid in a manly fashion' (Golden Wonders words, not mine), fill with boiling water to the line indicated on the side of the pot, and leave to stand for 5 minutes stirring occasionally - sure enough, after following these instructions, by snack was ready to eat.
Now the actual flavour of these noodles (the first I tried was the Chip Shop Curry) is very similar to that of the Pot Noodle. There is a very mild curry flavour from them, it tastes of course, of artificial curry and isn't very authentic - although this has to be expected with this type of snack. It is rather a sweet flavour, and tastes, in my opinion, amazing, but in a dirty way. The main difference I noticed between this product and its rival is that the noodles tend to taste less elastically, they seem to be softer and reminded me more of the noodles one expects to get in a packet of super noodles as opposed to the ones in a traditional pot. All in all though, it was a tasty and convenient snack - the type of thing that is handy to have in the cupboard to take to work on those days when you simply can't face another sandwich.
The Nutritional Info:
As you would expect, they are not the healthiest - yet they are not the worst either. Each portion of the snack will provide you with:
- 384 calories
- 10.7g of Protein
- 62.4g of Carbohydrates (of which 3.7g are sugars)
- 10.2g of Fat (of which 4.4g are saturates)
- 3.9g of Fibre; and
- 0.81g of Sodium
Although the Fat content is pretty high - as long as you're not eating one of these everyday, I don't think there is any harm in having the occasional 'dirty' treat.
In my opinion, this is basically a Pot Noodle in a different jacket, the main differences being the slightly softer noodles and the absence of the 'mango chutney' sauce sachet which I always enjoyed having as a child. The price is the same as its main competitors so I think it's down to personal choice - I would definitely go for this product again if it was on offer!
Lensmail is a service operated by specsavers opticians whereby the user can have their contact lenses posted to their home or workplace on a monthly or quarterly basis instead of having to collect them from store. I have been using lensmail now for around ten years and during that time my experience has been pretty much hassle free.
I started my contract with lens mail following an initial eye examination to determine whether or not contacts would be suitable for my eyes. When it was decided that they were, I had a contact lens fit, in store in my local specsavers. I then was given a copy of my prescription and given a direct debit mandate to fill it - specsavers took care to the rest from there.
Basically, each month £28.50 is debited from my bank account and in return, I am posted a 'contact box' every three months which contains three pairs of monthly disposable lenses, a barrel style case to keep them in over night and three bottles of contact lens solution. Obviously, the content to the box you receive and the price you will pay will vary depending on what contact option you go for - but lens mail is also available on daily disposable lenses and coloured lenses.
I have never had any problems with the lenses being late and going missing and on the several occasions where I have lost or damaged a pair of lenses, I have been able to call up the store with whom my details are registered, and they have posted me out a pair of lenses (free of charge I might add). However, if you do want to order more than one set of additional lenses, you can do so my accessing the main 'buy online' link from the lensmail website - provided you know your prescription you can enter exactly which type of contacts you require and they will be posted out to you within 3 working days.
Overall, I think this is a great service, I have been with the company for over ten years and other than calling to order an additional pair of lenses, I have had no need to contact them as the service has run very smoothly.
Their details can be found on either www.lensmail.com or by accessing it through the main specsavers website on www.specsavers.co.uk
This really is a 5* service.
My interest in joining Pinecone research came after looking through the forums on the 'Money Saving Expert' website. I am a member of several other survey sites and while I have been some cash from them in the past, there is normally a long wait to build up enough points or pounds to 'cash out' and the rewards to not always reflect the time put in to complete the surveys. From what I read, this seemed to be opposite of Pinecone who apparently offered £3 per survey (which generally takes around 20 minutes) as opposed to other sites whose rate works out at about 70p.
Much of what I read about Pinecone implied that it was the 'Holy Grail' of survey sites and was therefore very difficult to get an invitation to join the panel. I logged onto the Pinecone site and searched high and low for a 'join us' option but unfortunately with no luck. I then went back to 'google' and searched 'Pinecone Survey Invitation' and was lucky enough to be presented with a link on one of the Money Saving Expert forums which got me in to a referral link.
The joining process is much longer than that of other survey sites. I had to complete my personal details on a web based form and was informed that my application would be considered. I heard nothing for about a week until I received and email from Pinecone telling me that I had been short listed and given a link to an online questionnaire that asked questions about my personal living situation, employment details, shopping habits and travel habits etc. This took about 30 minutes to complete and I have since learned that they do it to avoid you getting screened out of surveys at a later date - one of the most frustrating aspects of other survey sites.
Ten days after completing this form - I received an email telling me that my application had been accepted and I was now a member of the Pinecone panel. I was issued with a unique user name and password and told that my first survey 'should' arrive within 4 weeks.
True to their word, my first survey invitation was in my inbox within two weeks. Before starting the survey I was informed that I was not allowed to discuss the contents of it with anyone else as it was highly confidential market research - I will say however, that the survey itself was simple and straight forward to complete and didn't ask many of the annoying and hard to answer questions that are common to other survey sites.... 'If this bottle of shampoo was a person, would you be its friend'....
The survey took around twenty minutes to complete and I had problems at all with the process.
One thing I will say about Pinecone, is that up until and even after completing m first survey, I had not been told how much money I would be paid for each completed survey - I presumed that my paypal account would be credited with some cash once the survey was completed, but instead, after about a week of finishing the research, I was sent £3 of 'Luncheon Vouchers' through the post. While I am not complaining per se, as Luncheon Vouchers can be spent in a number of popular restaurants and supermarkets, I am trying to save as much cash as possible to go back to University, therefore I would have preferred to have been given a BACS or Paypal option, nevertheless £3 for one survey is very competitive so I'm not complaining - I will use them to take some money off my Tescos bill and transfer the saving to my savings account.
I have had no problem with Pinecone to date, although they tend to send only one or two surveys a month, I probably make the same amount of money from them as I do from each of the other sites for a lot less effort. There is a general feeling of professionalism from this company and I would recommend that anyone who can get in and is looking to make a bit of extra cash gives it a try. As I mentioned before, a cash payout option would have been nice, but I guess, you cant win them all.
Homous is definitely one of my favourite foods. I discovered it while I was in my final year at University and have to say, I lived off it solidly for about 6 months. Although I have calmed down a bit now and do let other things creep into my diet (lol) I always like to make sure that I have a tub in the house at all times. As you can imagine, over the years, I have tried several different humours variations such as, olive, red pepper, pesto, lemon and coriander... and while none of them have ever really offended me per se, I have always held the opinion of 'why mess with a winning formula?' Homous in its original form is always best. Right? Well, I thought so until I discovered this little beauty during a recent shopping trip to Tesco.
So as I mentioned, I normally only buy the regular homous as I like to be able to taste the chickpeas and tahini, however, as I am a sucker for anything hot and spicy, I picked up a tub of the Red Pepper and Jalapeño variety, priced at £1.15 for a regular sized tub. (Tesco also usually have a deal on where you get two tubs for £2).
I have just had it for lunch and I have to say... wow! Unlike many of the other flavoured homous, this product has actual chunks of red pepper going through it which is nice as it gives it a little bit of texture. While it still has a very 'houmousy' flavour, there presence of the jalapeños is also very prominent. It's VERY spicy; my mouth was burning after eating it with some toasted pitta breads. It really has to be tasted to be believed so I suggest you go right now and get some!
The only downside to this product in my opinion is that it is extremely addictive, I managed to polish off the whole tub over two lunchtimes - and while it is not as bad for you as many other dips, there is quite a lot of olive oil in it.
I will definitely be getting this product again, but may have to train myself to enjoy it in moderation!
1. Which do you prefer - shower or bath? And why?
I can't actually remember the last time I had a bath - so I'd say a shower! Its quicker isnt it, and feels more hygenic as you dont end up sitting in all that dirty water :-p
2. What do you swear you'll never do?
I swore I'd never become a teacher.... but, starting my PGCE in September
3. What's the most embarrassing thing you ever done?
When i was about 17 I made a cup of tea. When I had finished I sucked the cup around my chin and it vacummed and wouldnt come off so I had to go to A&E to get it removed! My chin was purple for a week and people kept asking me what was wrong... mortified
4. What is your favourite quote?
I honestly dont have one!
5. What was your favourite holiday? And why?
Love getting back to Northern Ireland - not a holiday per se I suppose, but I love spending time with my neices and nephews - they're the most important people in my life and I miss them loads... all eight of them!
6. What was your favourite childhood toy?
Lego - has to be! Its a classic!
7. Do you have any pets?
My parents have a cat called shorty (on account of him having no tail)
8. Savoury or sweet?
Savoury - every time
9. Hot or cold?
Cold I think - you can always wrap up! but i HATE being too warm!
10. What's your favourite drink?
Club Orange (an Irish fizzy Orange) like Fanta but ten times better
11. What's your favourite food?
Jalepeno Peppers - I have them on everything!
12. Who do you hate the most?
There is one person I hate! But its more the fact that I hate that I care about them...still - if that makes sense! Long long story!
13. Do you have a crush on someone? If so, who?
14. What is your favourite colour?
15. What did you do last night?
Took part in a focus group about J20!
16. What's your favourite thing to do?
Relax watching TV or spending time with my nephews!
17. Favourite movie, TV Programme, Book?
Favourite movie is Grease - cheesy but a classic
Favourite book is The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Favourite TV programme is currently Shameless
18. who's your hero?
Dorian Grey - that guy had the right idea
19. Favourite song of all time?
Roxanne by 'The Police'
20. Have you ever had a supernatural experience?
No I have not
21. Favourite Sound?
22. Favourite Smell?
23. Favourite place to be?
All joking aside - in bed! I love it
24. Happiest moment in your life?
Passing my driving test
25. Saddest moment in your life so far?
oooh lots, would rather not, thank you.
26. What is your dream job?
Teacher in a REALLY nice school
27. What would be your idea of a perfect date?
Something random - karaoke maybe?
28. What are your favourite Newspaper/ Magazine?
The Times - im a politics geek!
29. Which celebrity do you like the most?
30. Do you have any siblings?
2 sisters - only older
31. Have you ever been in hospital? If so, why?
To A&E the time I got the cup stuck on my face
32. Have you ever broken a bone or had stitches?
33. Do you believe in Angels/Ghosts/Demons?
34. Are you superstitious?
35. What colour eyes do you have?
36. What colour hair do you have?
Brown -wish it were black though
37. What religion are you?
38. If you could change 1 thing about you, what would it be?
Roll back this past ten years and be 18 again
39. If you could change 1 thing about your personality, what would it be?
I would try not to get so wound up by other people
40. What is your biggest fear?
41. Do you have any regrets? If so, what are they?
Nothing comes to mind, if I do regret something I try not to dwell on it.
42. Have you ever been in love?
43. What's the most important thing to you in the world?
Family and Friends
44. What is your most treasured possession?
My nephews and neices
45. What's your job?
Atm im a welfare officer - but as of september - student teacher
46. What's the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?
Nothing comes to mind - thats really bad isnt it!
47. What's the worst thing anyone has done to you?
Long story - but something to do with the person i hate to love
48. Dream car?
I have it - a blue beetle Tdi
49. Favourite celebration?
50. Where do you hang out?
I recently logged onto ebookers in an attempt to book a cheap rental care for 5 days while visiting my parents in Northern Ireland. At first, I didn't actually realise it was a third party booking site as I googled 'Car Rental UK' and it was one of the first sites to come up.
From the outset, it is relatively easy to use, at the homepage I was presented with three options, of booking flights, cars or hotels. I chose the car option and was prompted to enter the dates of when I would need the car - all very simple. It then brought up a list of options available to be from various different car rental agencies. The best deal in my opinion was offered by Hertz, who were offering 5 days rental on a Ford Focus (or similar) for £188 including insurance. I clicked on this option and was forwarded to the payment page. I was asked how I wanted to pay and was told that I would need to have the card I used to book with me when I collected the car from Belfast, I was also told to bring with me my drivers licence. I entered my card details and received a confirmation email and receipt. A very easy experience, or so I thought.
I decided to give Hertz in Belfast a quick call to ensure that they had got the booking and everything was in order. They confirmed that the booking had been received but said that they noticed I had paid for the car using a maestro card. I confirmed this, to which the operator informed me that I would need a valid credit card in my name in order to collect the car, I explained that I didn't have a credit card as I don't use them, and said that the ebookers site clearly stated that I was to bring the card used at the time of booking. The operator at Hertz then told me that this was not acceptable and I would need to contact ebookers as there was no way the car could be collected without a credit card.
I then tried to call ebookers to explain the situation, and after much arguing and being passed to various different people for a total of 45 minutes, they admitted that they were in the wrong and would refund my money (I had to argue up until this point for them to agree to refund the insurance fee, plus waive the cancellation fee of £20). They informed me that the refund would be processed within seven to ten working days. I said that I did not find this appropriate as I needed the money to book another car and asked why it took only 5 minutes to take the money from my account yet, two weeks to return it. They were not able to answer this question and after a further 30 minutes of speaking to three more people at ebookers, I admitted defeat and accepted that I would have to make do with my full refund.
Overall, I had a very bad experience of this site which has left me £200 poorer for two weeks and wasted alot of my time and money on telephone calls.
My advice is to stay away from this company, they seem very disorganised and their policies are very unclear - customer service is also, appalling.
Bored at work so thought i'd give you an insight into what makes me tick:
1)How old are you?
I'm 27, although 28 next month, but people still tell me I look 21/22 (fingers crossed this holds out)
2) Colour of my eyes?
3) How tall are you?
4) Hair colour?
Brown - really wish it was Black though
5) Any brothers or sisters?
2 sisters - both older and also 2 Neices, 5 Newphews and 1 Great Nephew
6) Do you prefer cats or dogs?
Awww I love them both - my parents have a cat who I love but i'm mental looking a King Charles Spaniel
7)What job do you do?
Currently work as a Welfare Officer in Higher Education, but going back to Uni to do a teacher training course in Secondary School teaching.
8) Do you like your job?
Meh, its OK, but time for a change, hence going back to Uni.
9) Favourite dessert?
Eton Mess mmmmm
10) Food that I loathe?
Meat - makes me sick!
11) Sweet or Savoury?
Savoury... dont have a sweet tooth.
12) The last 2 films I have watched
Confessions of a Shopaholic and My Big Fat Greek Wedding
13) Song I can't get out of my head?
Nothing at the moment, although I was singing Eurovision songs all weekend (sad, I know)
14) Favourite Programme?
Shameless - cracks me up! Love Mimi!
15) Next Holiday
None planned - Im saving like mad considering im going to be a student again next year!
16) Favourite Country?
17) Favourite beach holiday?
Believe it or not, ive never been
18) Favourite hobby?
Reading - im a big reader! Oh, and facebook stalking if that counts!
19) The last thing that made me laugh?
My mate Melissa, she emails me telling me what the latest thing her mum has said which always makes me smile!
20) Favourite cocktail?
Cherry Bomb - Ameretto, Midori and Cranberry Juice! Sooooo good
As I am going back to university in September, I am on a mission to save as much money as I can. Part of this mission is trying to cut my supermarket bill by trying out some of the value ranges in Tesco and Sainsbury's where possible.
One a recent trip to Tesco, I decided to give their mild cheddar a go. Now being a bit of a cheese fiend, I really should have known better and realised that cheese is one of those things you just cant compromise on, nevertheless, I decided to give it a go.
This product (unsurprisingly enough) can be found in the cheese section of the supermarket. The packets of it are all individually packed and you are looking at paying between £1.50-£2.00 for a 'regular' sized block of cheese, and up to £3.00 for a large block. As always with value products, there is no frills in the packaging, it is wrapped in see through plastic with a label on the front giving the nutritional values, the weight and the price. This product is 34% fat and 25% protein which is pretty much the norm for a mild cheese so it is no worse for you than anything else on the market.
When I got the cheese home, and was making my cheese and pickle sandwiches for the following day, the first thing I noticed when grating it is that it felt somewhat softer and spongier than any other cheese I had recently tried. This was not a good sign, so once I had finish grating enough for my sandwich - I decided to cut a slice from the block and taste it to be on the safe side.
The taste wasn't much better than I expected from such a spongy feeling cheese, it tasted of how you would expect plastic to taste of and to be honest, there was no real taste of cheese at all from it, more of a milky mush that didn't really taste of anything. In my sandwich the next day it was no better, I had hoped that somehow the branston pickle I used to accompany it would bring out a bit of flavour, but no - I may as well just have had pickle sandwiches.
I think this cheese is the find of product that might appeal to someone who 'doesn't really like cheese' as it doesn't have that strong flavour associated with more expensive brands. In my opinion, if you are a cheese fiend like me, it is a false economy as not only are you using twice as much to try and get a bit of flavour out of it, you are also doubling the calorie intake of your regular cheese sarnie.
I think this will go on my 'not worth the money' list and Ill stick to my cathedral city in future.
Its so nice to fly with BMI. I live in London but am originally from Belfast so I tend to make regular visits across the Irish Sea. Over the years I have flown with practically every airline that run this route and I have to say at BMI are definitely my favourite. They do tend to be slightly more expensive than some of its 'Budget' rivals such as EasyJet or Ryan Air, however, taking into account a number of factors. The difference often only works out a few pounds for a much nicer experience.
Anytime I have booked BMI, I have used their online site. It is very simple and easy to use with the booking tool located on the homepage. You simply need to select your departure point, arrival point and dates from the drop down menus and wait for a few seconds while your options are given to you.
On the next screen you will be given the available flights on the days you have selected. Each option gives you the departure and arrival time of each flight, allowing you too choose the cheapest and most convenient time if you are flexible with what time of the day you can travel. What I like about the booking secion of the BMI website is that the price you are quoted, is the price you actually have to pay - ie, unlike RyanAir, you are not quoted one price at this stage, finding out later that you need to pay an extra fee to 'check in' (surly everyone who is boarding an airplane needs to check in?) and you are not charged to pay for the booking - in my experience, up to £20 has already been saved at this point.
The other reason I like this section of the website is that you are entitled to bring one bag to put in the hold of the plane at no extra charge - again, something that seems to be alien to other airlines - the fact that its passengers might actually want to take a bit of luggage. So far BMI is beating its rivals hands down on customer experience.
AT THE AIRPORT
As BMI flights to Belfast fly from Heathrow, I always calculate the saving of travelling to the airport. Generally if I fly from any of the other major London airports, I have to pay up to £30 return for a train journey, or a similar amount of money to park my car. However, as Heathrow is on the tube network, you can get there for £5 each way (less if you have an oyster card) - definitely something to consider at the time of comparing flights from rival airlines.
Checking in with BMI is easy - there are automated machines and you simply have to enter your booking reference which was emailed to you when you booked your flights, answer a few simple security questions and you are allocated a seat and your boarding pass is issued. If you have any luggage, you can drop this off at the luggage collection point and proceed through security to your departure gate.
BMI flights generally have a much classier feel that those of budget airlines. On board the staff were courteous, well turned out and professional and there was music playing on board while we waited to take off. As seats have been pre-allocated, there was no mad rush to find somewhere good to seat, the whole boarding process was calm and relaxing. All of the safety demonstrations are communicated via videos that drop from the beneath the overhead lockers and I generally felt that this all was a bit more professional than flying with anyone else. During the flight, you have the option to purchase meals from the air hostess, however, I have always been given a complimentary snack, eg. A packet of peanuts and some orange juice (again, another £5 saved).
Overall, I cannot recommend BMI enough - they do charge slightly more, however amazing deals can still be found if you book early enough!
I recently made a last minute trip from London Gatwick to Northern Ireland and needed to book parking from Saturday afternoon to 1.00am the following Monday morning. After doing a search on topcashback.co.uk I learned that if I booked my airport parking at Gatwick through APH I could earn 10% back on the cost of the booking. So I logged onto Topcashback and accessed the APH website (www.aph.com) site through them.
The site itself is very easy to use. It gives you the option to choose either parking, hotels, meet and greet services or port parking (ferry terminals rather than airports). I choose Airport Parking and was prompted to enter the dates, time and location I would require the service from. All of the major UK air and ferry ports seemed to be on the list. I choose Gatwick and entered the dates and times of my flights, allowing a few hours extra either way and submitted the request.
BOOKING YOUR PARKING
I was then presented with five parking options to choose from, each one offering different facilities and prices, ranging from £17 for 2 days in the standard Long Stay Car park at Gatwick, to £43 for a parking space within walking distance to the terminal. As I booked last minute and paid rather a lot for my flights, I went with the cheaper option. I had to enter some personal details on the next screen, nothing out of the ordinary, my name, address and car details and payment information. It is worth knowing, that unlike some other car parking companies, APH do not charge you to make a booking on credit card.
When my booking had been approved, I was issued with a reference number and confirmation letter. I was told to print this out and bring it along to the car park with me. This information was also emailed to me which was useful as I booked the service at home and didn't have access to a printer, so I had print it out from the email the next day in work.
AT THE CAR PARK
The car park itself (Gatwick Long Stay) was very easy to find as it is located just five minutes drive away from the terminal building. Simply drive up the barrier where you are issued with a ticket, much like any other car park. When I entered the car park, I was ushered into a row with some spaces by a parking attendant. The whole process was very smooth - I then had to get a bus to the terminal so I could check in for my flight. There are various bus stops located all around the car park and I would guess that the maximum walking time to one of these stops from any park of the car park would be three minutes. The buses serve the car park and terminal building every ten minutes - although luckily enough for me, there was a bus waiting at the stop when I arrived. The transfer takes around 7 minutes which is pretty handy.
When I returned to London Gatwick, my flight had been delayed due to the 'Volcanic Ash' so I didn't arrive back at the airport until 1am. I was slightly concerned as I had only paid for parking until 12am and thought that as I hadn't booked, I was going to have to pay an extortionate amount of money to get out of the park, however, when I got off the bus at the car park and drove to the barrier, my ticket went through fine and I didn't have to pay any extra, which was good considering at this stage I was 1hr30mins late!
Overall, I have no complaints what so ever about this service, it is easy to book and reliable, the transfers to and from the airport are good as is the peace of mind knowing that your car is safe as the car park is manned twenty four hours a day.
4od is an offshoot of the Channel 4 website which allows its user to access 'on demand' television via their home computers. What this means is that they can watch TV that has previously been on Channel 4 (including E4 and more 4) anytime they want.
Logging on and Navigation
Logging on is simple, simply go to http://www.channel4.com/programmes/4od and get to work. What I like about this site is that there is no need to set up an account or provide any personal details - the homepage is very straight forward to use with popular or recent programmes being advertised along the top of the screen - allowing the user to click on them to begin watching (shows such as Hollyoaks, Shameless and other flagship shows are generally advertised here). There is also a search bar to the right of the screen which allows the user to search for a particular show that they might have missed.
If you are not searching for anything in particular and simply have some time to kill and want to watch something that may interest you, there is a browse facility which enables you to choose a category such as Documentaries, Soaps, Drama etc which groups similar shows together.
Another thing I like about 4od is that it allows you to view shows from the Channel 4 archive, whereas other sites such as BBC iPlayer only lets you watch shows for a certain period of time (eg a week after they have been aired) 4od has full series' of shows for you to choose from - which is a great money saving tool if you don't want to pay £20 plus to buy a boxset of say, 'Shameless'.
When you have decided on what you would like to watch, you simply click on its icon, if it has any strong language or nudity in it, you must click a box confirming that you are an adult, sit back and get ready to watch. Before the show starts there is generally a bit of advertising, mainly for other programmes that may be of interest, but this only lasts about 30 seconds.
As channel 4 doesn't give you the option to download programmes, everything on the site is streamed, which is great if you have a brilliant internet connection, however, if the connection is busy or weak, there is a chance that the programme will pause while the content is loaded, however considering that most people now have a broadband internet connection - this doesn't pose a massive problem.
I would highly recommend using 4od, especially as I am a massive fan of channel 4 programming in general, it is free, there is no limited to the amount of programming you can watch and in the long run can save you money - its worth checking it out before you spend money on TV series DVDs to make sure the programme is worth it.
5 Dooyoo starts for this service.
www.photobox.co.uk is a website which allows the user to upload photos from their computer (generally which have been taken on a digital camera) and order them to be printed and delivered to their door.
I used photobox for the first time recently as there was an offer on topcashback.co.uk (see my earlier review of topcashback) which entitles the user to £4 cash for signing up to the website and 40 free prints. The only thing the customer has to pay for is the postage and packaging for the photos which costs £1.49. If you wish to take advantage of this offer, which actually means that you make a profit overall, you need to log onto the site via your topcashback account.
The photobox website itself is very simple and straight forward to use, and even if you are not a member of topcashback, you are still entitled to 40 free printed photographs.
At the homepage , sign up is very straight forward, at this stage you simply need to enter your name, email address and choose a password to be given an account, you are then emailed a link which you can use to access your photobox upload screen. From here you can upload as many photos as you want, you need to worry about which ones you want printed at this stage. Uploading the photos is done by browsing your computer files and selecting the images you want. You simply press upload and the files are uploaded onto you account - this can take quite a while depending on how large the photos are and how many you upload, it took 15 minutes for me to upload 40 files that were taken on a 7 Megapixel camera.
Once they are uploaded you simply select the photos you want, choose if you would like a border on them and if you world prefer matt or gloss finish, and press order. You are then asked to enter your address and credit card details (to cover the £1.49 postage) and are sent an email to confirm your order.
I ordered my prints on Saturday afternoon and when I returned home from work on the Wednesday following (it was a bank holiday weekend) my prints had been delivered. They are presented in a smart hard plastic pouch, the photos were of a very high quality and just as good as any high street processing firm - considering I was essentially paid £2.50 for this I really have no complaints. I would definitely use this site again, and be happy to pay for it (had I not taken advantage of the special offer the prints would have cost 9p each for orders under 100 photos, and 5p each for orders over 100) - pretty good value I think.
As I am on a massive money saving mission at the moment, I decided to change from my usual branded tortilla chips to the 'Tesco Value' option to accompany my meal of Chilli Con Carne.
These chips can be found in the crisp and snacks section of Tesco stores and come in the easily identifiable blue and white striped Tesco Value packaging. They are described as 'Lightly Salted Maize Snacks' and will set you back just 25p for a 100g bag which should be enough to serve four people as a side to a main meal.
The tortilla chips themselves are of high quality, I half expected them to be a bit stale and soft but they are crunchy and dry and of a generous size and shape had I not known, I would never have suspected that they were from the value range. The flavour is also very pleasant as you can really taste the tortilla flavour as there is a light sprinkling of salt on them, as opposed to an overpowering flavour that I have come to expect from some of the branded versions of this product. All in all, I have no problems with these at all, they are exactly what you would expect from a tortilla chip. I would have no hesitations in buying them again and at a quarter of the price of its rivals, I will definitely be getting them to go with dips when I have people over.
Due to the crunchy texture of these chips, I would suggest using them as a base for Nachos if you want to save yourself some money as the 'Nachos Kits' you can buy can cost in the access of £2.50. Simply Top them with cheese and refriend beans and stick them under the grill or in the oven.
Half a bag of these chips will give you the following:
11.9 grams of Fat (of which 4.9g is saturated)
No Sugar and;
0.4 grams of Salt