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llamalove

llamalove
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Member since: 27.09.2003

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    • Soya Milk / Ready Meals / 40 Readings / 35 Ratings
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      29.05.2005 14:24
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      It was the early 90’s when I first tasted soya milk and my overall impression was… ‘Okay if you like chewing cardboard’ – it was dry, sour and left a horrible aftertaste in my mouth. Needless to say, I didn’t ever want to try it again.

      So, nearly 15 years later my mum offers me a glass of ‘So Good’. After lots of… ‘What? Soya milk? No way!’ she persuaded me to give it a try and soon enough I was hooked.

      There are so many different milks available on the market now and soya milk has been around for quite some time. So Good is a dairy free alternative to milk, it’s low in cholesterol and low in fat, it contains 20% more calcium than milk so overall it’s great for people on a variety of diets…lactose free, gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, low fat, low cholesterol…the only diet it’s probably not good for is your low carb, Atkins type. So Good is made from soya proteins and has extra vitamins and calcium added and does not contain any animal product.

      So good looks almost like milk. It comes in a white cardboard carton with blue screw cap picturing pure white ‘milk looking’ liquid being poured into a glass. When you open it however, it looks slightly darker – a kind of dark creamy colour with a hint of grey. Don’t let this put you off though.

      So Good has to be served chilled. I can imagine it would taste pretty nasty if left to go warm. But when served straight from the fridge it has a sweet, ice-creamy taste. It’s smooth and of a good consistency. If you are used to milk and you expect milk you’ll probably get a bad shock but if you’re looking for something new and refreshing you’re in for a sweet treat. After swallowing, you’re hit with the aftertaste. I find it quite pleasant but this is the bit that my hubby hates! It’s quite a strong taste and it really lingers for a good while. You can taste it on the tip of your tongue and round the edges…It seems to have some kind of kick that hits your taste buds with a bit of a twang.

      Looking at the ingredients, So Good does contain ‘grape extract’ – maybe this is where the sweetness comes from.

      So Good can be drunk straight from the glass as a refreshing drink, can be poured onto cereal and can be used where milk is recommended in recipes. It can also be drunk in tea and coffee but all soya milks have a tendency to separate when added to hot liquids so it’s recommended that you put the So Good in first, let your kettle cool slightly then add the water. I myself have never used it warm or on my cereal. I’m not a big milk fan so I tend to drink this straight from the carton to glass to get my daily calcium dose.

      So Good should be kept refrigerated unlike many other soya milks you find in long life cartons on the shelf. Once opened it needs to be consumed within 5 days and it is not recommended for freezing.

      So Good contains:
      Filtered water, Soya Protein, Maltodextrin, Grape extract, Sunflower oil, Acidity regulators, Flavourings, Calcium Phosphate, Salt, Zinc Gluconate, Niacin, Vitamin E, Riboflavin, Vitamin A, Thiamine, Vitamin D, Potassium Iodide, Folacin, Vitamin B12

      It contains no preservatives and is free from artificial flavours.

      Nutritional information includes (per 100ml)
      Energy – 50kcal
      Protein – 3.4g
      Carbohydrate – 5.3g
      Fat – 1.7g (only 0.2g saturated)
      Fibre – 0g
      Sodium – 0.05g

      So Good is available for around £1.29 for a 1 litre carton. It can be found in most supermarkets in the chilled cabinets, usually near the milk and fresh juices.

      You may also find ‘So Good Dairy Free Soya Drink – Low Fat’ and ‘So Good Dairy Free Soya Drink – Chocolate’ for about £1.08 each.





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      • Egypt / Destination International / 31 Readings / 26 Ratings
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        22.05.2005 12:59
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        • "Avoid airport toilets!!!"

        Our wedding was booked. All we needed now was the perfect honeymoon to complete it. When we headed off to the travel agents, we initially had Cuba in mind…salsa dancing…cocktails…the sexy Spanish lingo….our hearts were set. Unfortunately, flights only went midweek and being a teacher, it was bad enough persuading my boss to give me just one day off…never mind another 4!

        It was a few days later when Richard presented me with the envelope…”open it” he said trying to hide his excitement. Inside were two tickets to Sharm El Sheikh on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. We were staying in what looked like the most wonderful resort I’d ever seen. 7 days of all-inclusive bliss leaving on Valentine’s Day. What more could I ask for?

        During the months of waiting, I learnt all I could about this almost magical place full of history and mythology. Finally, our wedding day came and when it was all over, we were off. Flying over the rustic red deserts was a dream itself…and the views of the mountains and seas from the sky were an image I’ll never forget. I couldn’t wait to get down there.

        As we drew closer to landing, I was somewhat surprised to see vast amounts of space with few scattered buildings. Nothing resembling a town. I was beginning to wonder about our hotel.

        I hadn’t long to wait though and I was soon pleasantly surprised. We stayed in The Laguna Vista Beach Resort in Nabq bay. We drew up to a very architectural building full of ancient Egyptian culture – very different to the many modern Americanised resorts we had passed. The biggest surprise was on entering. My husband and I had to take a few minutes to regain our composure whilst we stood open mouthed and in awe of the décor of the main reception. Impressive was far too small a word. What we couldn’t see from the outside was that the ceilings were so high up – we estimated at 100metres plus! In the centre were huge pillars and great pieces of sculpture. The floors and walls were cream marble with fantastic engraving and inscriptions on them. The ceiling itself was a masterpiece with zodiac symbols stylishly sculpted in. As we walked through the main building, we came out to big heavy wooden doors at the back that overlooked the whole resort. With 13 pools, 5 restaurants serving a vast range of interesting dishes (many with Greek & Turkish influences), numerous bars, it’s own amphitheatre and lots of little thatched top bungalows with the sea lapping behind, it looked amazing. We were in paradise.

        Gentle music played throughout the lush green gardens and because of the vastness of the resort, everything was calm and quiet as we walked to find our room. We soon approached a charming little cottage type bungalow with flowers cascading down the walls and over the porch. It was cool and breezy inside thanks to the air conditioning and the cold marble. Needless to say, the room was more than sufficient. An immaculately clean big bathroom with bath and shower, a dressing area, a huge bedroom with a bed big enough for 4 people to sleep comfortably, a beautiful dressing table…and through the long flowing white fabric drapes to a relaxing patio area where we had our own little pool, views of the sea and fabulously scented gardens surrounding us.

        This holiday was going to be the experience of a lifetime.

        After a few days resting and relaxing by the pools, sipping drinks at the bar and strolling hand in hand along the red sands by the sea, we decided to have a look into the trip of a lifetime…the pyramids in Cairo.

        As soon as our honeymoon was booked, we knew this was something we would want to do so we’d asked our guests to give us Egyptian pounds as gifts so we could make sure it happened.

        The next morning at 5am, we took an internal flight with Egypt Air to Cairo. The flight itself was something to be desired and we were glad it was only a 25 minute flight – but that’s another story. Cairo airport was another experience. It’s a military airport and once you go through all the checks and exit the building, there is a no return policy…so make sure you don’t leave anything or anyone behind!

        Outside, the air was very warm and close…even in February. The air looked reasonably clear but as we set off and could see more open spaces, the problem with smog became clearly evident. It was like a low grey cloud hovering above the buildings. The drive through Cairo was eye opening. The city was heavily overpopulated and the poor waste disposal systems were obvious. Dozens of canals used to run through the city. Now they no longer filled with water but filled with rubbish. Although it’s going to take many years, the government had just started a new initiate to fill over the canals with soil and begun to plant trees and plant life instead (but what happens to the waste then?)

        One of the most interesting parts of the journey was just before we got to the pyramids in Giza. We drove through thousands of little stone buildings…tombs – this was what the Egyptians refer to as ‘The City of The Dead’. Amoungst the dead and buried, here also lived the poorest of Egypt’s people.

        Soon enough, we saw the pyramids rising in the distance. As we drew nearer all eyes were on the target. Goose pimples started to spread over my arms and legs as I thought about the magic and history stored here. When we finally arrived it was spectacular. Standing beside The Great Pyramid, at 5 foot 4 (and a half) I didn’t even reach the height of the bottom stones! Richard (my husband) tried to get a photo of me at this point but could not actually go back far enough to get the whole picture.

        The pyramids were marked by guards on foot and on camels. At 8am in the morning, it was quiet and we were free to climb The Great Pyramid to a certain height (only at a certain point). The site where the pyramids sit is almost on a mountainside or ledge of some kind so as we climbed, we were able to look over the whole of Cairo. Fantastic.

        After exploring the big one we moved on to look at the 2 smaller pyramids nearby. One was available to visit inside for a very small fee, but both of us being a bit claustrophobic, Richard and I toyed with the idea for a while but decided to pass. When some of the other visitors returned, we were glad of our choice. The pass into the pyramid was low and narrow. Visitors had to bend right down and once you were in line, the only way out was through the other side. The air was reported to be stuffy, hot and very close and tourists were advised not to stay inside for too long.

        It is on one of these smaller pyramids that the only bit of limestone remains. It is now thought that it was most likely that during the 21 years of building each pyramid, a ramp was built alongside as they worked round the structure. When they reached the top, the ‘builders’ worked downwards covering the pyramids in limestone to give it a smooth surface and making it more difficult for thieves to break through. As they descended, the ramp was knocked down with them. Over the years, almost all of this limestone has eroded leaving the pyramids more venerable by making the ‘steps’ visible. Only the limestone on the tip of one pyramid remains..but no one is sure why.

        After the pyramids, we travelled on down the road a bit further until we reached the Sphinx. We toured through the various buildings there, up a long high path and came out facing a large stone wall. Some people were climbing up to get a better view so Richard and I joined them. Up on the wall we had the best view of the great Sphinx….half man, half lion…a symbol of protection…protector of the tombs.

        An hour or so later, we headed back to our coach and set off to a lovely floating boat restaurant on The Nile for lunch. A huge and beautiful river – it looked so calm and inviting, you could hardly believe it was highly polluted. Even putting so much as a finger in could result in finding skin-penetrating leeches!

        A stroll though Cairo’s markets where the streets were paved with men smoking shisha pipes and hundreds of sellers, thrusting their goods upon unknowing tourists and a visit to the famous Egyptian Museum, ended our visit to this great city, and we set off back to the tranquillity of our resort.

        After our fantastic trip, we decided to partake in a few more adventures…the seascope submarine with the glass bottom, dinner in the Sahara, shopping in the markets of the old town with the locals…but my favourite had to be quad biking in the desert. We drove out into the ‘real’ desert for about an hour where we picked up our quads. After a very brief intro on how to drive them we were off. Into the desert sands we went. At 1 O’clock in the afternoon the sun was beating down, but with the wind blowing through our hair and over our skin we felt cool and relaxed. The views were breathtaking. Every now and then I just had to stop and look around. Through periods of screaming and ‘woo-hooing’ I kept thinking to myself ‘look at me! Driving through the desert with nothing around but mountains…what a strange feeling.’ Strange and amazing.

        After about 45 minutes, we came across some Bedwin people (people who live in the deserts) who invited us to stop for tea. The tea was sweet, spicy and syrupy – unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before and the people were very hospitable. As a polite gesture of thanks I bought a few pretty handmade bracelets for a few pounds and we set off again.

        When the time came to finish, we felt refreshed and full of energy. We had some strange looks on the way back to the hotel and staff inside made some jokes about needing a shower asking us what we had been doing. It was only then that we truly realised how dirty and dusty we were. Our faces were brown with sand and our eyelashes and eyebrows were white! What a sight!

        After our week was up, we packed our bags quietly, knowing we were going to miss this wonderfully hospitable country where we had made so many memories in such a short time. After meeting such wonderful people and having some virtually unimaginable experiences, we vowed to come back for our one year anniversary in a year’s time…another vow that we definitely plan to keep.





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          29.12.2004 19:36
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          • "...ask my other half!"

          Although I do most of my ‘Lush’ shopping online, it doesn’t take much for me to quickly nip into one of their stores if I’m passing…and the red illuminated sign on the shop front in Romford’s shopping centre yesterday reading, ‘FREE STUFF WHEN YOU BUY OTHER STUFF!’ was all the excuse I needed.

          It didn’t say what ‘free stuff’ i had to buy or how much ‘other stuff’ I would get free, but I kind of forgot about the offer as soon as I got in there anyway. With my little sister in toe, I headed straight for the bubble bar display in an attempt to convert her from a shower girl to a bath girl.

          I first noticed ‘Ma Bar Bubble Bar’ in the Lush Times, which is delivered to my home, but from the description it wasn’t one that I immediately wanted to try. I love chocolate but only Cadbury’s, and I utterly detest ‘Chocolate Flavoured’ stuff. Eugh! But looking at it there on the shelf with it’s toffee cream and chocolate brown stripes with a huge brown sugar lump in the centre, I couldn’t help but pick it up.

          You see, Ma Bar just looks like a big sweet…and it smells like one too. In fact, being my fiancé’s birthday today, I ran him a lovely bath this morning and crumbled half of one in there. Eyeing the bath suspiciously, 101 questions followed about why his water was turning a bit …brown? (Yes, nice hey?). So I took out the other half to let him have a look and a sniff and just managed to stop the daft bugger before he popped it into his mouth! So yes, it does look very edible but apparently, after he licked the crumbs on his lip, I’ve been told it doesn’t taste too nice.

          I suppose I should have anticipated what was going to happen really…with a name like ‘Ma Bar’ I did have to repeat myself very loudly several times after hearing…”What is it? A Mars bar? Mmm…” Actually, the name came more from a play on words with the phrase ‘Mother’s Day’ as it was for this occasion that it was invented. Fortunately for us ‘non-mothers’ and ‘mothers who should feel special EVERY day of the year’, it made a comeback after much demand and is here to stay! Whoop whoop! But anyway, back to the product…

          For those of you who are not (yet) familiar with the bubble bars that Lush sell, they are slices of a large solid bar that you crumble into the warm running water of your bath to produce an abundance of bubbles. They come in a variety of different guises…my favourites being, ‘Creamy Candy’, ‘Karma’, ‘Fever’ and now… ‘Ma Bar’.

          The smell of this product makes you want to eat it (and some of you might not be able to resist …but that’s your choice). Even though I really can’t stand chocolate flavoured tastes and smells, the chocolate and toffee combination of aromas in this bar really go well together and give it a totally different appeal to just chocolate. As you crumble it under the warm tap and it starts to melt, the bathroom (and beyond) begin to smell like a gorgeous, warm, milky, toffee flavoured, hot chocolate drink.

          The effect on your skin is also gorgeous. Ma Bar is jammed with all sorts of sumptuous goodies…cocoa butter, Sweet Orange Oil (Citrus dulcis), Bergamot Oil (Citrus bergamia) and a whole bunch of other bits. It will leave your skin feeling soft, supple and hydrated and you’ll smell edible for the rest of the day.

          Ma Bar cost £1.95 for a 120g bar. Each bar will give you enough creamy bubbles for at least 2 baths…but up to 4 if you’re purse is feeling a bit light after Christmas! It can be purchased in any Lush store or online at www.lush.co.uk

          Oh yes, and as for the ‘Free Stuff’, when I got to the till, the kind, gorgeous, generous girl behind the counter popped a whole handful of products in my bag for nothing… ‘Red Rooster soap’, ‘Blue Skies bubble bar’, ‘Sea Vegetable Soap’, ‘Ginger Man Ballistic’, ‘Creamy Candy Bubble Bar’, ‘Bohemian Lemon Body Soap’ and a ‘Shimmy Shimmy Massage Bar’! So get down to your nearest Lush store if you’re in for some freebies and expect a few more reviews as I work my way down mine.



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          • More +
            24.12.2004 16:00
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            Even though I’m not one to sit for hours putting on my makeup every morning, I am a bit of a sucker for new products and do regularly try things out. My daytime makeup consists of a light powder base and plenty of mascara – which takes me about 5 minutes to do. If I’m off out in the evening, I’ll add eyeliner and foundation to the mix and a touch of lip-gloss. I’m not really a lipstick or nail varnish girl. I like to emphasise my eyes (which are probably my best feature) and keep my lips (and nails) natural. So here goes, if any of you out there sound like me then you might like to try a few bits…

            My top 10…in order of how I wear them, not in order of favourites….

            1. Starting from the inside is the best way to make the most of the outside. A good balanced diet with regular exercise is the one thing I make sure I have each day. Making sure your body is well hydrated, well nourished and has good circulation is a sure way to happy, healthy, glowing skin.

            2. When cleansing, I use a variety of products for different purposes. I usually use Clinique cleansing soap for my face – which comes in a big bar with a hard green or pink case and lasts forever (I think I’ve had mine for over a year and it’s hardly worn down). It makes my skin feel clean, clear and smooth…but a little tight so I have to moisturise well after.

            3. Next I use Virgin Vie’s ‘Stay Calm Skin Revival Facial Mist’ which takes off the last bits of make up or daily dirt and grime and tones the skin. It’s refreshing and cool and is designed for sensitive skin (as is all their ‘Stay Calm’ range). Skin Revival Facial mist comes in a large 250ml spray bottle. It is a clear liquid that you can spray onto a cotton wool pad/ball and wipe over your face to use as a toner, or spray directly onto your face for instant refreshment. It costs £10.

            4. Onto my make up….I like to start with ‘Stay-True makeup’ Oil free formula foundation from Clinique – approximately £20 for 30ml. Yes, I know some people are thinking ‘Ouch!’ but it really is so good. Clinique’s products are rather expensive but they always tend to wear well. This foundation gives a smooth matte finish and excellent coverage. You only need to apply once in the morning for it to last all day and night. This product is allergy tested (which undoubtfully and unfortunately means ‘on animals’) and is fragrance free.


            5. Unfortunately, my boss doesn’t pay me enough to afford to wear ‘Stay-True’ every day so I also wear ‘Wonder Finish’ by Maybelline New York. This comes in much cheaper at about £5.50 for 30 ml. Wonder Finish is a liquid to powder foundation. It goes on as a liquid (and a very liquidy liquid at that…. be warned!) and dries as a weightless, soft, smooth powder that gives a flawless matte finish. Again, this foundation wears well and you don’t have to re-apply. For a foundation this good, I think it is well worthy of it’s price.


            6. Another one of my favourite products is bronzing powder – well, bronzing balls to be precise. I don’t have a particular brand that I regularly use (although the Virgin Vie ones are rather lovely). I find they all do pretty much the same job as long as you choose the right shade. I like the gold shimmery ones best and if it has the slightest tinge of orange, into the bin it goes. I like bronzers to be quite subtle and only use a little on the cheekbones and nose to create a give a slight colour. Although I like my foundation with a matte finish, it can leave you looking a bit one-dimensional.

            7. ‘Pump Up the Volume’ mascara from Bourjois (in black)…until very recently, used to be called ‘Volume Glamour’ – approximately £8. Mascara is probably my most favourite make up item ever invented. I love the way it widens and brightens eyes and so it’s the one thing I wear everyday. ‘Pump Up the Volume’ is a thick mascara with “uplifting volume”. It comes with a lovely thick bristled, full-headed brush with results in beautiful Bambi-like lashes.

            8. Along with my mascara, I do like to add a touch of eyeliner in the evenings for sexy sultry eyes. My favourite is No7’s ‘Precision Eye Liner’ in black – again about £8. This eyeliner is a liquid so it needs a bit of practise if you’re used to using a pencil. I’ve always used liquid myself as I get in such a mess as soon as I pick up a pencil. I’ve found this particular eyeliner the most easy to use as it has a longer, thinner brush than most which means the stick part doesn’t come so close to your eyelid and you’re less likely to end up with big black blotches.

            9. As I said earlier, I’m not really one for lipstick and I like to keep my lips pretty neutral so I usually go for lip-glosses or tinted lip balms. My favourite has probably got to be Clinique ‘Gloss wear for lips’. The full size product (7.3g) costs £9.50. It comes in a variety of shades and the one I have and use most is ‘Air Kiss’ (07). It’s virtually clear but has a pink shimmery tint. Very pretty and makes your lips very kissable…perfect for the mistletoe season!

            10. And now for the final thing I do before I walk out the door…and my true favourite… a spritz of perfume!
            I have quite a few different fragrances, some of which include; ‘Deep Red’ by Hugo, ‘1881’ by Cerruti, ‘Glow’ by Jlo, ‘Flower’ by Kenzo… but the best one that I save for really special occasions is ‘Gucci 2’ (obviously by Gucci...and usually written in roman numerals but Dooyoo won't let me!). I’m not very good at describing smells although I think the sense of smell is one of the most important and can make us (personally and in the role of the ‘Sniffee’) and the people around us (ie, the ‘sniffers’) feel so many different things. Gucci 2 is a relatively new scent – it came out in about June or July this year and Gucci should be sorry they made us wait that long. It’s very feminine, soft and sensual with the hint of something spicy, and every time I wear it, people (particulary men) ask me what it is. If you haven’t had the opportunity to have a sniff, then get your nose down to your nearest Boots counter as soon as you can. Gucci 2 comes in a range of sizes, as with most top fragrances, it is presented in a heavy, square, glass bottle with a heavy circular, glass lid. The bottle is clear so you can see the pink liquid inside and simply has the words ‘GUCCI Eau de Parfum 2’ printed on the side. The size I have is 50ml and cost approximately £40.


            So there you have it…my top 10 beauty products. All there to add the finishing touches to your natural beauty - and I really do mean ‘finishing touches’. I don’t think any of us out there really NEED all these luxuries. Beauty comes from within but sometimes when we look in the mirror, we find it hard to see and just need the help of a few little things to help make us feel better.



            NB: After a little helpful comment, i was aked if i could add a bit about my skin type. Not as easy as you'd think really but i'll try. My father is Maltese and my mother is Irish so i usually have a light complextion that tans very easily...at the moment it's a little lighter than olive. I don't have freckles. My skin is quite normal but i get the odd blemish (never above lip level) every now and then. Generally my skin is quite clear. When i wash my face with anything other than water, it does get a little tight across the forehead and cheeks but a little moisturiser and it's fine again...

            I hope that helps any ladies (or gents) out there looking to try a few of the products.


            ~lisa x


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            • boysstuff.co.uk / Online Shop / 22 Readings / 18 Ratings
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              22.12.2004 15:06
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              Writing about something so great as boysstuff.co.uk on the 23rd of December is probably not very kind to you readers out there who are still wondering, or have been struggling with what to buy the men in your life for Christmas. So, I’ll apologise now, before you go and have a browse at the site…at least you have plenty of time for next year.

              Everyone knows that men are just big kids and don’t need much of an excuse to get their tools out and start taking things to bits or to start rolling around on the floor with the latest kiddy gadgets. Us ladies know that sons, nephews, grandsons or friend’s son’s birthdays etc are the perfect time for him to re-live the experiences of when he was a young lad.

              So when I came across Boysstuff.co.uk, I was ecstatic. So many great ideas and so well laid out. There is something for every man in your life….from the youngest of them to the oldest. Since I placed my first order, I’ve received a little catalogue through the post every few months. But before I’ve managed to check the mail, it’s usually been sneaked out, opened up, read and tucked away beside my other’s half’s side of the bed (hmmm…I wonder how that happens).

              Boys Stuff has been around since 1997 when Guy Clapson and Richard North got together (apparently over one of England’s finer past times….a curry and several pints of lager) to create a company that would invest, find and test clever and unusual toys to “ escape boredom and drudgery”.

              When you enter the site, you’ll see that the home page is split up into lots of different sections. You can register or log in following the links and then start shopping. When you actually begin to read the site, you’ll find it is very witty and amusing with lots of laddish humour to keep you entertained as you shop.

              In the centre of the home page, boys stuff will usually have some of their best sellers or bits they are trying to promote at that time. On the left you will see a list of departments and a search button. Departments consist of the following:

              · NEW ARRIVALS
              · CAR STUFF
              · GAMES ROOM
              · UNUSUAL GIFTS
              · MINIMOTO STUFF
              · GADGET STUFF
              · CAMERA STUFF
              · RADIO CONTROL
              · DRINKIN' STUFF
              · GIRLS STUFF
              · BACHELOR PAD
              · NAUGHTY STUFF
              · SHOOTIN' STUFF
              · DESKTOP GADGETS
              · JOKE STUFF
              · PHOTON LIGHTS
              · HEALTH STUFF
              · OUTDOOR STUFF
              · BATTERIES
              · ALL PRODUCTS

              On the right of the page are ‘features’, ‘competitions’, ‘delivery’ (all your delivery options of course), ‘awards’ (yes, they’ve even won an ECMOD (European Catalogue and Mail Order Days) award for ‘Best Transactional Website’), ‘free gifts’ (they do give these out occasionally), ‘catalogue’ (to order a catalogue by post) and ‘top 10’ sections (obviously, their best sellers).

              There is also some ‘quick links’, the most useful one I’ve found to be ‘gift guide’. If you click here, you can select a price category that you want your item to fall into. Price categories range from £1 to £10, all the way up to £200+ (and yes, there are some very cool gadgets in this range but no, I haven’t treated my man to one of them yet… ‘Lizard Lounger Arcade Table’ at £3000 anyone?)

              Paying for your purchases is pretty simple and follows standard online payment procedures where you fill in your details on the little form and press next. Each page of the payment procedure is secure (as expected from such a well-accomplished company) and your order is shipped off quickly and efficiently. I’ve always been very pleased with the speed of delivery and have usually got my order within the next 2 days. In fact, Boys stuff guarantee next working day delivery. There are some exceptions of course… Deliveries to Ireland will take up to 3 working days and international deliveries will take up to 10 working days. Standard UK daytime delivery comes in at £3.95 and Saturday delivery is £9.99.

              Boys Stuff admit that they (like any other human beings) do mess us occasionally and when they do you can contact them via their customer services on 0870 745 2000 or email them at help@boysstuff.co.uk

              In conclusion, Boys Stuff is a fantastic and extremely well run site that I trust and use regularly. And if you are interested and are off to have a look now, I’ve just found a little note on the site that might interest you….


              “Don’t miss out on your Christmas goodies! Order by 3pm on 23rd December, and our elves will work their pointy shoes off to get your goods to you in time. (Sorry we cannot guarantee International deliveries before Xmas.)”



              …. You’ve got 54 minutes people….









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              • simplybe.co.uk / Online Shop / 20 Readings / 15 Ratings
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                19.12.2004 14:15
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                Simply Be is a clothing catalogue company that has been around for several years now. You may have only noticed them recently though since they have begun to advertise on television. I myself have been shopping with them for at least 4 years.

                As a ‘plus size’ girl, there are not many places we can go that stock the larger sizes of fashionable clothes. There are a few shops across the country but many of the clothes seem too mature for a girl of 25 like me (although, the selection has got better over the years).

                Simply Be is one of the companies owned by JD Williams and Company Limited. The company was founded in 1875 by James David Williams, who in 1882, was the first to make use of the UK's parcel post service, to send his company's products direct to his customers. JD Williams operates over 20 different catalogue brands, some of which include, ‘Home Shopping Direct’ and ‘The Shoe Taylor’, both of which I also use occasionally. JD Williams has been growing in size over the years and I think one of their latest brands is ‘New Now’ which stocks very fashionable clothes in larger sizes and always seems to be at the height of fashion.

                All the brands mentioned, including Simply Be stock clothes from a size 14 to 32. There prices are usually reasonable, often much less than some high street stores or more exclusive Internet only companies, but also occasionally too high.

                One of the great things though is that all sizes are the same price whether you are on the smaller end of the selection or the larger. Prices seem to range from about £10 to £100 (£100 being for leather/suede coats and boots etc). The average price for a simple but fashionable top seems to be between £15 and £20.

                To join Simply Be (or any of the other brands), you can go to the website SimplyBe.co.uk or ring 08701606100 to have a catalogue sent to your home. You can then browse the catalogue or search the pages online at your leisure. I myself first started shopping with them by telephone and mail order. They would send me the catalogues, I would look through them ring the number with my order. Now, I use the online system. I still get catalogues delivered, I look through, make my selections and use the ‘quick order form’ online. I find this the most convenient way as you just type in the code numbers in a list, press go and Simply Be gathers your goods. It then presents you with all your selections and you go down the list changing sizes and colours to the ones you want and then press ‘Add to Bag’.

                When paying for your goods, you can pay there and then online or over the phone with a credit or debit card or you can create an account (which I have) and be sent a bill every month. You can choose to pay off the whole amount or make a minimum payment. I find it easier to make a minimum payment by direct debit every month and then make additional payments online when it’s convenient for me.

                Post and packaging for your goods is £2.95 per order and returns are free. Your package will be delivered by courier (if there is one in your area) or by Royal Mail. You can ring your courier to collect your returns or you can take your package to the Post Office and ask for a free returns proof of posting. I often have to send things back as I usually order more than one item for size or if I really like something, I may order it in a selection of colours and make my choice at home when I’ve tried them on.

                On the subject of sizes, I find that tops and dresses seem to be on the generous side and I usually have to order the size smaller than my usual size. Skirts also seem to come up slightly bigger but for some reason the trousers are always just right. With regard to underwear, both knickers and bras without fail will come up too big. I often have to select a smaller cup size on my bras as well as my usual size so I can try them both. JD Williams also have a Lingerie only catalogue called ‘Naturally Close’ which I like to use.

                I think, from coats to dresses to trousers to knickers, the selection I love the most in Simply Be would be their lingerie. They have the most beautiful selection I’ve seen for women over a size 14. If anyone ever complains to me about not being able to find gorgeous, sexy underwear in their size, I always get my catalogues out and show them.

                As well as your usual clothing, Simply Be also stock:
                - A range of accessories such as handbags, jewellery, shoes and boots
                - A large selection of sports wear from names such as, Reebok, Adidas, Resume and Yankees
                - Beautiful luxury and sport style swimwear

                On the website and in catalogues, you will also notice different areas for different times of the year and different occasions. These may include:
                - Party glamour (especially for the festive season)
                - Summer Sun
                - Winter Sun
                - Sale items
                - Gifts and experiences
                - Beauty ranges

                Simply Be also offer a range of free gifts and reduced priced gifts as incentives. I regularly receive such offers (either by email or in the post) and use them. These tend to be accessories such as bags, jewellery (watches, bracelets and necklaces), mini radios, kitchenware or towels and throws.

                As you may tell, Simply Be also stock items for the home. JD Williams catalogue ‘Home Essentials’ is specifically designed for this department but some is available through Simply Be.

                Simply Be also have a men's wear department with a wide variety of men’s clothing in larger sizes. They stock sports wear, footwear, casual clothing, highly fashionable party wear, office wear, coats and jackets and a range of underwear. In addition to Simply Be some of the other brands featured include, Ben Sherman, Lonsdale, Dockers, Penn Sport, Lee Cooper, Kickers, Wrangler, Adidas, Reebok, Speedo and Le Shark.

                If you do open an account with Simply Be or any of the other catalogues mentioned, you can use your same user Identification and password for all the other catalogues within JD Williams. You may also find that many of the catalogues have same or similar products.

                Clothing items ordered are usually delivered between 3 and 4 days. If they are out of stock Simply Be will inform you of how long the expected delivery before you order. If they go out of stock whilst you are waiting for you delivery, Simply Be will contact you to let you know the situation and advise you on how much longer your order will take.

                Other items may take longer for delivery and Simply Be approximates delivery times to be as follows:
                -Electrical = 10 days
                -Audio visual = 14 days
                -Computers = 14 days
                -Occasional furniture = 14 days
                -Beds = 14 days
                -Cabinet furniture = 4 weeks
                -Upholstery = 6 – 8 weeks

                If you need your goods faster, you can take advantage of their express delivery service for a cost of £4.50



                Well, I think that’s about all. If I’ve left anything out for if you want to browse some of Simply Be’s stock over the holidays take a peek at www.simplybe.co.uk

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                  24.11.2004 14:58
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                  • theives!

                  I don’t quite know exactly who I was mad at when I opened my mail this morning. Was it my telephone company? Was it my Internet provider? Was it myself for not setting up appropriate security? Was it my boss for giving me the new laptop? Or was it the thieving porno site that connected itself to my phone line?

                  I really don’t know who to blame but I needed someone/somewhere/something to voice my anger at….so I came here.

                  You’ve probably already gathered what has happened but I’ll explain anyway.

                  This morning I received a strangely irregular letter from my phone company – addressed in haste by hand. Very unusual. Upon opening I was presented with:

                  “(Blah blah blah)…. We believe it is necessary to bring to your attention that in the last 24 hours, £ (they didn't put in how many) worth of calls have been made, primarily consisting of International premium rate usage via your internet service…(blah blah blah)…you are liable for the costs and they will appear on your next phone bill…(more blah blah blah)…”

                  So being very easily confused and being the sort of person who needs to hear things directly, I gave them a call.

                  They informed me that some ******* company (apparently the technical term is ‘rogue diallers’) had made 4 telephone connections via the Internet on Saturday through a pop up coming to a total of £70.68!

                  Unfortunately, it is down to the individuals to put the appropriate software on their systems to protect from this sort of theft and we are therefore liable.

                  I can completely understand that and it’s not like we don’t cover ourselves. The only reason they managed to get through was because the connection was made via the set up of my brand new laptop that my boss had given me the day before. It was the first time used and first connection I had made with the Internet through it. Our home PC is heavily protected and I just need a few minutes with the lap top before it was protected too. Unfortunately, the ‘rogue diallers’ managed to get there first.

                  However, not all is lost. Our phone company did think the calls were rather unusual and immediately barred all international premium rate numbers and contacted us. They have also given us a contact that may be able to get some of the cost back from the company in concern and have provided us with some free Internet security for the laptop.

                  So, it wasn’t a good start to my day and I thought I should share my story. My phone company gave me the name and number of the company who dialled in and told us that that particular company (in France I think…Touzalou? (spelt phonetically as I haven’t heard of it before) has been on the news for the past 2 nights warning people of what is happening.

                  So take care and make sure you are well protected. If you do get such a connection and you have broadband, phone companies are advising you to unplug your Internet at the wall to stop the connection. Dial up customers will be disconnected when they log off.



                  @Courtesy of Llamalove and NTL

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                  • Room 101 / Discussion / 27 Readings / 24 Ratings
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                    10.10.2004 14:51
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                    Fantastic! A place I can put all the things I hate.

                    So here we go, just a few things I would love to rid this world of…most of which for my own personal reasons, which may seem rather weird to you guys.

                    ** Toys that move, realistic dolls, clowns and puppets on strings.

                    I decided to plonk these under one heading, as it’s all pretty much the same kind of thing. Dolls, clowns and puppets on strings may seem quite common but ‘toys that move’ is maybe a bit stranger so I’ll explain.

                    It’s a little confusing (even in my head) but I think it’s a blend of 2 things: a sleepover and some weird stories my grandmother told me as a child. When I was 10 and my best friend had a sleepover. We managed to get hold of some scary movies; ‘Child’s Play’ included, turned down the lights, and settled down behind some cushions. Luckily my friend had seen the movie before so warned me of most of the really scary bits just in time for me to dive behind the cushion. Feeling brave, my friend and I decided to play a trick on our other friend and sneaked off to find a torch and a doll. We took the doll’s head off, stuck it on the torch and at the next scary bit, shoved it in front of her face. Very cruel I know and I apologise to Nicola if she is reading this 15 years later…but we were young & stupid. Anyway, I think the joke backfired, as ever since, I’ve not been able to look at dolls in the same way. All I see is that really scary, bright red, plastic, smiling face.
                    So, that little event coupled with ‘meant to be kind’ but I think, ‘incredibly scary’ stories of toys coming alive when you are asleep, has scared me for life.
                    Clowns and puppets on strings all do the same thing to me (i.e. completely freak me out) and I often have the most horrific nightmares about them.

                    So that brings me on to the next item…


                    ** Nightmares.

                    I know I’m an adult now but I still get nightmares. It’s something I’m very interested in and very confused by…why do we have them? And why do I have the ones I have? I remember when I started having nightmares. I was about 5 or 6 and for several nights a week for several years, I had a recurring dream that I was Little Red Riding Hood, dancing in the forest with the animals. When suddenly, out jumped the wolf! He chased me and I ran….and ran, and ran, and ran… until I tripped and fell over some sort of ledge. I kept falling and always managed to wake up before I hit the bottom.
                    Nowadays, they often consist of being attacked in some way…and burglars have always featured quite heavily and still do. I’ve often woke up screaming ‘help’ with a housemate banging on the bedroom door because I’m dreaming of someone coming in the bedroom window.
                    If I remember correctly, when I was about 6, my parents and I came home from a party to find our house had been broken in to. Scary enough for a young child to come home to an empty house, but to have the burglars still there, hiding behind the back door, was awful. For years after, I used to turn my light out then run very quickly to bed, jumping from about 2 metres away just in case there was anyone hiding under my bed. Ever since then, my nightmares have got worse and worse and even stranger and if I could get rid of them forever, I would.

                    ** Ants

                    Ants. Urgh I hate them. Ever since I sat on an ants nest at school in my little skirt and ended up with ants all over my bottom. They are creepy, weird looking and incredibly strong little creatures that I’d just love to get rid of. Now for all you ‘creature lovers’ they is no need to worry about me killing them as I run a mile when I see one and would never get that close.
                    …And flying ants? Let’s not go there.

                    ** Manual toothbrushes

                    I should probably point out that by ‘manual’, I mean the non-electric kind.

                    I’m sure everyone out there can think of someone (possibly yourself) that hates the sound of nails on a chalkboard, or cotton wool being torn apart or something similar. Well people using a manual toothbrush has that same weird effect on me. Hearing it is worse but just seeing someone doing it from a distance can bring my skin out in goose bumps and send shivers all over my body. No surprise that only electric ones are used in our house – I still don’t like them very much but I think the buzzing noise is good enough to cover up the brushing noise.

                    ** Insurance Adverts

                    No matter who is in them or what jolly animal or such is featured in them…they all suck. It’s pure cheese that makes you cringe. I know they probably do the job for a lot of people…being so incredibly annoying that they stick in your brain and make you remember the name when looking for home, car, life, pet, etc. insurance, but I myself try very hard to avoid them. Especially ones featuring a certain, white haired man that I won’t name and others including elephants.

                    And on a more serious note, I’ll drop this one in too:
                    ** Ignorant people

                    I know ignorant people exist all over the world in many different guises, but as a teacher of children with special needs, the ones I am particularly referring to are those that stand and stare in disgust or make rude remarks about ‘controlling your children’ when we are out in the community.

                    I teach children with Autism and Aspersers Syndrome. These children often look just like anyone else…there are no obvious physical features of their disability. Their main deficits are based around social and emotional behaviour and communication, so to the public they may often be mis-interpreted as rude. But if people just took the time out to ask questions or just look a little closer they would see that this is not the case at all. I am sick of the amount of times we have been in supermarkets, swimming pools or just walking down the street when passers by have given rude looks, made obscene, profane comments and even budged our children or us out of the way at a checkout or such like, as if we were not even there.


                    So there you go. Just a few (well, 6) things that bug me, and that I’d like to get off my chest. And if anyone knows what I mean about the toothbrush thing, leave me a comment …most of my friends just think it’s weird and I’d like to say that I’m not the only one.



                    Llamalove











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                      23.09.2004 20:13
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                      It was during the Easter holidays earlier this year that I decided to join a gym. I knew I really wanted to do it but didn’t know where to choose. Should I choose one near my work so I can go straight from there? Should I choose the one 5 minutes from home?
                      I weighed up the pros and cons and finally found a great place half way between home and work. Great. I can go straight from work to home (with a very slight detour) during the week, or straight from home at the weekends. It’s a great location and I knew it would make me go more.

                      I walked in to the building and told them I wanted to join. There was a range of options. The particular site I use is open to everyone at full cost; there is a reduced rate leisure card available for purchase but class costs are still rather high; then there is the ‘Beaumonts Health Club’ membership where you pay a monthly (or annually if you choose) fee for unlimited use. I opted for ‘Beaumonts’.

                      Beaumonts is a unique chain of Health clubs situated within ‘Hertsmere Leisure’ leisure centres in Hertfordshire. Beaumonts Health Clubs have five sites across Hertfordshire:

                      Bushey Grove in Bushey (01923 470 140)
                      Furzefield Centre in Potters Bar (01707 850 500)
                      Hertswood Centre in Borehamwood (020 8387 5600)
                      The Venue in Borehamwood (020 8386 9886)
                      Wyllyotts Centre in Potters Bar 01707 645 005

                      Beaumonts memberships offers you a no joining fee and no annual fee membership and (when I worked it out, as long as you do more than one class a week) gives you excellent value for money. When you join, they will offer you a 14 day money back guarantee just so you are sure. As a teacher, I decided to join during a school holiday period so I could try out as many of the facilities as I wanted and then decide if I wanted to keep my membership. Of course I did keep it and I also got to see which classes and programmes I enjoyed the most and which ones I wasn’t so keen on. When I went back to work, I was able to pick my favourites and work out a programme for myself that I could stick to based around my work hours. In the school holidays, I’m fortunate enough to be able to attend many more classes and try lots of new things.

                      With a Beaumonts membership, you get:
                      • Unlimited use of Beaumonts Fitness Studio
                      • Unlimited use of Beaumonts Fitness Classes
                      • Free Induction session
                      • Free Personal Programme
                      • Free Hertsmere Leisure Card
                      • Free use of Beaumonts Health Suite - Steam Room, Sauna,
                      • and Whirlpool Spa, (sun beds and treatments are at an additional cost but also at a lower rate than to the public)
                      • Free swimming at Hertsmere Leisure facilities

                      Each site seems to offer something slightly different. Some are also larger than others and have a greater selection of classes and additional therapies and treatments. With the Beaumonts membership, you will be able to use any site whenever you like. You can just walk in and ask to go to a class, use the gym or use the health suite or pool but it’s better to book studio classes in advance as they can fill up rather quickly. Beaumonts members are able to book classes 7 days in advance. The only ‘catch’ with the membership is that if you wish to cancel a booked class, you must give 48 hours notice. If you give less than that and they do not manage to fill the space, you will be charged the cost of the class. That said, I have not been too well over the past few days and yesterday I cancelled a class 6 hours before it was due to start. I informed the receptionist and she assured me that I would not be charged. I’m not sure why and I didn’t question (obviously) it but it may be that the class I booked was a popular one and there was every certainty that my place would be filled.

                      I myself find studio classes the way I work my hardest. There is a huge a range of classes available including:
                      · Aerobics
                      · Aqua aerobics
                      · Pedal X (Spinning)
                      · Bakeries
                      · Bums, Legs and Tums
                      · Cardio Kick
                      · Cardio wake up
                      · Circuits
                      · Core challenge
                      · Deep Water Aqua
                      · Fit, Firm and Fib (dance aerobic type workout with weights)
                      · Fit ball (or gumball as some may call it)
                      · Hi/Lo aerobics
                      · Kick combat
                      · Mega step
                      · Pedal ‘n’ Abs
                      · Palates
                      · Pillage (a combination of palates and yoga)
                      · Step
                      · Step Aqua
                      · Stretch ‘n’ tone
                      · Tai Chi
                      · The Ultimate Mix
                      · Total Body Conditioning
                      · Total N-R-G
                      · Total Toning
                      · Yoga

                      All classes are advertised as being for beginners, intermediate or advanced levels. Some classes are also suitable for pre or anti natal. In my opinion, instructors are very capable and happy to adapt particular exercises to suit individual levels. They often demonstrate a choice of movements for you to try and choose which level you are capable of. They will also give you more personal advice and support if you feel you need it.

                      Some of the above classes are also available in ‘junior’ version. Some classes are for 8 to 12 year olds and some are for 12 to 16.

                      If a workout in the gym is what gets you going, Beaumonts Fitness Studios are equipped with the latest in Stairmaster & Nautilus equipment presenting a challenge for everyone - the young and not so young, the complete beginner to the dedicated athlete. Whether you're looking to keep fit, tone up, lose weight, gain weight or just enjoy working out, Beaumonts instructors can help devise an exercise programme that suits you.

                      Each site has a team of qualified Instructors are on hand to assist you with your workout in order that your time is spent most effectively – whether in a class or in the gym.

                      In addition to ‘working out’, time can also be spent relaxing and pampering. Most sites have a ‘health suite’. The health suite in the site I frequently use (The Furzefield Centre) consists of a spa/Jacuzzi, a steam room, a sauna and a sunbed room. They have also just opened a treatment room where qualified staff practise a range of techniques including:
                      · Indian Head massage
                      · Body massage
                      · Sports injury massage
                      · Raiki
                      · Waxing
                      · Spray tanning
                      · Eyebrow shaping and tinting and lots of other primping and pruning

                      At particular sites you may also see added facilities such as:
                      · Badminton courts sports hall
                      · Teaching pools
                      · Swimming lessons
                      · Créches
                      · Astro Pitch - All weather outdoor pitch suitable for football and ideal for hockey
                      · SideKICKS™ Café
                      · Beaumonts Bar
                      · Function Suites

                      To find out more about any of these facilities or any classes, prices and times you can go to the website www.beaumontshealthclub.co.uk and click on each the site you want to visit.
                      Classes can be booked in person, by telephone or via the website. Beaumonts members can book up to 7 days in advance whereas non card holders can book in person up to two days in advance (and they must pay at the time of booking). An entrance charge will be made to all Non Card holders.

                      When visiting the sites, if you have any comments or queries or suggestions, you can let them know by filling out a ‘customer comment card’, telling a member of staff (this will be recorded as a ‘verbal comment’ or speak to the appropriate member of the centre’s ‘User Group’ or ‘Junior Users Group’. Details of which should be displayed on the notice boards in the entrance.

                      *Prices Beaumonts membership is available at £45 a month. This is for unlimited use. I myself was recommended by a friend who has a corporate rate and I pay £32 a month instead. Lots of big companies are now doing this and I would advise you to check out if your employers are one of them (my friend works for Tesco so I know they are included). As I previously said, there are no annual fees and no joining fees. You will be entitled to a ‘fitness assessment’ upon joining but additional re-assessments will be charged.

                      If you choose not to buy a Beaumonts membership the average price for a class in the day is about £5.20 and in the evening £6.30. The Health Suite is also available if you are not a Beaumonts member but at an average fee of £6 for an hour. I myself do 4 evening classes a week, a session in the fitness studio at the weekend and have 2 or 3 sessions in the health suite. Without my Beaumonts membership, this would cost me approximately £49 a week! Or nearly £200 a month! That’s an enormous saving of about £190 a month, about 4% of what I would be paying.

                      So, to sum up. If you live or work in the Hertfordshire area near any of the sites listed, Beaumonts membership is available to you and comes at a good price. Splitting my monthly fee over 4 weeks, I pay just £8 a week. Doing just 2 classes a week would cost me about £12 without my membership. If that sounds like good money sense to you and you want to exercise in a safe friendly environment, then check out the website or pop in to one of the centres to have a look for yourself.





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                        21.09.2004 12:16
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                        Having my birthday in July is always good. It means that lots of my favourite authors bring out their new books ready for the holiday period where people can pop them in their suitcases and go off down to the beach for a long, relaxing read. Marian Keyes is one of these ‘favourite authors’ and around July time, a new book seems to come out. Coming out on hard back first means; spending lots of money, waiting an age for the paperback version to come out, or keeping my fingers crossed and dropping lots of hints with the words ‘birthday present’ in. This birthday, I didn’t even have to hint…my beloved younger sister knew what I’d be after (maybe because she was hoping to read it too) and I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the book shaped pressie on the day.

                        This year it was ‘The Other Side of The Story’. A novel linked by the stories of a trio of unforgettable women.

                        Ambitious and sexy, literary agent Jojo Harvey combines voluptuous good looks with a mind of steel. As if she doesn’t have a hard enough job trying to work her way up the corporate ladder, Jojo is also having an affair with her married boss.

                        Slim, blonde, best-selling author Lily Wright is one of Jojo's clients. She worries constantly about her relationship with Anton (the love of her life), believes strongly in fate and karma, and is having trouble writing her second novel that she has already spent the advance of on her dream house.

                        And third, is Events Organiser Gemma Hogan. She was once best friends with Lily but their friendship came to an end when Lily stole Anton from her. Gemma’s story revolves around struggling with the demands of her job, social life and her desperately needy, newly separated mother. Gemma confesses all to one of her dearest friends in a series of emails. The tales eventually come to the attention of Jojo and Gemma also becomes her client.

                        Well, she's done it again! Marian never fails to please and the only thing that disappointed me about this book was that it had to end. Through an exciting, hilarious, heart-warming and sometimes heartbreaking story, Keyes proves there is always another side to the story…in this case, there are 3 sides.

                        The book is split into sections. The first half of the book tells the story so far of each main character. The second half of the story is more about what is happening now and how their lives are linked.

                        The story starts with Gemma. Gemma is 32, left home and set up in a flat of her own many years ago, has a great social life and is doing well in her job. That is until she gets a call from her mother to say that her father is having an affair with his secretary and has left her. Gemma drops everything and rushes off to see her. Unfortunately, mum goes from bad to worse and Gemma is forced to stay and look after her. Trapped in her childhood home with her unwashed, depressed mother who clings to her husbands manky porridge bowl for months whilst waiting for him to return, Gemma spends any spare time emailing her friend on the other side of the world, depicting the various scenarios of her upside down life. The highlight of her time back home seem to be taking quick trips to the chemist to pick up her mothers prescription from the friendly pharmacist in the white coat.

                        As the story unfolds, Gemma finds that without her authorisation, her so-called friend has passed these emails onto a literary agent (Jojo) who wants to produce them into a novel format. Gemma can not bear the thought of her embarrassing stories being shared with the world but knows that this could be the only way to get back at Lily (who is also a client of Jojo’s), her ex-best friend, who many years ago stole her boyfriend and now lives with him and their baby girl in London.

                        Set in the world of publishing, The Other Side of the Story is about love, loyalty and survival… and what to do when you get your chance for revenge. It may be 'chick fic', ‘chick lit’ and a 'Women's Weekly Great Read' but it's also very well written, is full of believable characters, hysterical situations, great comedy sex and has the key to the escape route we all want now and again from everyday life. Marian Keyes writes about real 3 dimensional people you can relate to and settling down with her newest novel is like meeting up with your oldest school friend who you haven’t seen for years but just know things between you will be exactly the same as they were back then. Keyes writes about things that are close to women’s hearts – fear. Fear of success…fear of failure…fear of not finding your true love…fear of finding your true love…fears of major life changing incidents, right down to little everyday niggles.

                        So, if you want to read a hilariously funny book, that will draw you in, making you giggle and cry and cry at the same time, then try this one. It’s a fantastic book…even better than getting banjoed on free Pina Coladas! *





                        *You’ll have to read it to understand that one.





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                          20.09.2004 12:59
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                          I know I always seem to write about these naughty food stuffs, but I honestly don’t eat as many as you may think. I’m on the slimming world diet and I save my ‘syns’ up for a nice treat once a week – sometimes I’ll go out for dinner, sometimes we’ll order something in, sometimes I’ll just settle for a bar of chocolate or something yummy (and usually chocolately) for dessert. This week, I chose the latter. I was giving Tesco a rest (as our local one is being re-fitted and you can’t seem to find anything) so I decided to have a browse in Asda.

                          I was looking for a ‘cheesecake-type-thing’ when a different box caught my eye. It was a browny, purpley box with a picture of a squishy looking chocolate pudding type thing on a plate. It was described as a ‘baked chocolate sponge cake with dark chocolate chunks and a creamy chocolate sauce’ and looked so deliciously soft, moist and warm…mmm…
                          Into my basket it went. I picked up a few healthy options (lots of fat free yoghurt and fruit etc) and headed off to the checkout. I forgot to look at the price on the shelf but was pleased with £1.68. It looked big enough for 2 people and when I looked at the box it said it served 4. Oops…

                          So, we got it home and had a look at the heating instructions:
                          ‘Cook in oven for 25 mins or in microwave for 2 mins’. Hmm. Do I want to wait 25 minutes or 2 minutes? I settled for the microwave option. Stuck it in and waited for the chocolately aroma to waft out. When the two minutes were up, I had a leave it to stand in the tray for a few more minutes to regain its rigidity. The instructions also said to check it was piping hot and not to re-heat.

                          Now, I don’t know if it was that I just didn’t leave it to firm up long enough or if I managed to over heat it in the microwave, but it was rather sloppy and messy as I scooped it out of the tray. Not what I was expecting. The cake and the sauce seemed to have almost disappeared into one. It was rather hot so I left it on my plate for another 5 minutes or so before taking the first bite. It firmed up a bit but still didn’t look anything like the picture on the box.

                          Well, as I said a bit earlier, when I first saw it I thought it would serve 2 but the box was telling me 4. I decided I deserved it, as I’d been so good all week and opted for half. After about 3 bites I wish I didn’t!

                          Don’t get me wrong. Despite the messy, mucky appearance, it was gorgeous. Soft, warm and very very sticky like I expected, really great chocolately taste that didn’t have the ‘chocolate flavour’ factor that I hate. No, the reason I couldn’t eat more than 3 bites was that it was so rich and sickly…I really wished I’d taken the advice of the manufacturers and just settled for a quarter. A classic case of ‘eyes bigger than tummy’.

                          So in summary, it’s a delicious, real chocolately gorgeous cake with mountains of chocolate sauce; it looks rather messy and yucky on the plate; and although your dinner guests may think you’re being a bit tight on the portions, they’ll appreciate a smaller serving once they’ve started.

                          The pack is 300g. It is suitable for vegetarians and home freezing but not suitable for wheat, gluten or dairy free diet and may contain traces of nuts.

                          *Ingredients:

                          Chocolate sauce, whipping cream, milk chocolate, sugar, cocoa, butter, skimmed milk powder, full cream, milk fat, plain chocolate, emulsifiers and flavourings, water, condensed milk, egg, wheat flour, cocoa powder.

                          It has no added colours or preservatives (therefore, only keeps for a few days in the fridge).


                          * Nutritional value per quarter of cake:

                          Fat – 19g (12g saturates)
                          Kcals – 325
                          Protein – 3.5g
                          Carbohydrates – 35g (29g sugars)
                          Fibre – 1.1g
                          Sodium – 0.2g


                          * Contact Asda on 0845 300 1111 or visit website www.asda.com. If you are not ‘delighted’ with this product, Asda will give you a full refund AND replace the product.








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                          • Milk Chocolate Caramels / Snacks / 20 Readings / 17 Ratings
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                            16.09.2004 23:04
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                            Please consider the following points when writing your reviews:

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                            • Vauxhall Tigra 1.4i 16v / Car / 6 Readings / 22 Ratings
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                              30.08.2004 20:01
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                              Anyone who has been reading my reviews over the summer has probably noticed that I have not been particularly happy with my Corsa. It kind of gave up the day before the last day of term (before the summer hols) and since then I?ve been waiting for a loan, getting it fixed so I can sell it and looking for my new car. For several weeks leading up to my Corsa?s final breath, my fiancé Richard had been constantly asking me questions such as ?What are you going to do about your car Lisa??? ?You need to get your car sorted out before it gives up Lisa?? ?What car are you going to get Lisa??? ?Have you got your loan sorted out yet Lisa??? When it comes to cars Richard is like a 5 year old in a chocolate factory. In his 27 years of life (bear in mind only 10 of them will be driving years) he has had approximately 70 cars! He loves stripping them down, doing them up, showing them off then selling them on. In the last few years, he?s calmed down a bit and he has only had 4 or 5 cars since we?ve lived together. So when I mentioned that I was thinking it was time for me to get a new car I should have expected the constant badgering. Anyway, I?d had my eye on the Vauxhall Tigra for a long while and really quite fancied one but I thought it looked too good to be in my price range. But Richard had a little look on Ebay and Auto Trader; asked around and found out that if I bought a used one they were not as expensive as I thought. Prices seemed to range from £2000 to £6000. Straight away we noticed that the bigger the car dealer, the more expensive the car so we tried out the smaller ones. We also found out that the 1.6s seemed to be taking a long time to sell whereas the 1.4s were snapped up rather quick. On a quick call to my insurance company I soon found out why and decided I?d have to go for the
                              1.4 myself (on the subject of insurance it?s really not that bad, I jumped from insurance group 4 to group 10, I?m 25 (but won?t get over 25 discount till next year), have a few naughtys on my license and it cost me about £500 fully comprehensive? from the AA if that helps). So after lots of searching and test driving I finally decided on the first one I saw. A beautiful 1997 P reg 1.4 16v electric blue coupe with 16inch alloys, electric sunroof, electric windows, twin airbags, power steering and c.d player all for £2700 (well it was £2999 but with a bit of eye lash fluttering?.you know?.) Bargain, gorgeous and I love it. Compared to my Corsa, there was not much to get used to with the controls. Infact, the Tigra is pretty much a Corsa with a more stylish and sleek body. Being used to my diesel without power steering, the main thing I thought I?d have to get used to was how light it felt and how easy to manipulate. The interior continues the smooth, sleek style and feels very rounded. The back window comes round the sides and quite far over the roof. The seats are comfortable and there is plenty of leg room for ME in the front. I emphasise ?me? as I?m only 5 ft 4? and a half. Richard on the other hand is just under 6ft 8! Not surprisingly, it?s rather uncomfortable for him to drive ? but not impossible. As everything on the Tigra seems to be sloping backwards, the screen and roof are very close to his head which is more of a problem than the amount of room left when his legs are in. Now, if you think that?s a problem then you should see the back seats. The Tigra is supposed to be a 4/5 seater but you really shouldn?t expect this. It really needs to be considered as a 2 seater (+ young children if you have them). However, on a recent trip out, a friend of mine pulled the short straw and ended up in th
                              e back ? he managed to get in but as I said about the back window, it came so far over his head that every time we went over a bump or turned a corner, he hit his poor head on it. There are several things that quite surprised me about the Tigra. Two good surprises and one bad. Firstly, the boot space is phenomenal! Not at all what you would expect from the outside ? big enough for a bit supermarket shop or even for a big sub woofer and amp! The back seat can also fold forward if you need a bit more space for a larger item. Second is how cool it is inside. As everything is low, the sun doesn?t really heat it up when you leave it in the car park on long sunny days. I?ve got in the middle of the day and it?s been pleasantly cool?and once the sunroof is opened and the windows are down it?s no problem at all. Now for the downer. It?s my only gripe about the car but it is quite an important one. Visibility! Because of the rounded shape of the shell, the right wing mirror just doesn?t point out far enough. The only way you can see out of it is if you lean right forward with your chest against the steering wheel. From my position, all I can see is the side of the car and my arm. So, each time I pull out to the right I have to turn and look out of the back window (as there are no side windows). It?s something I?m getting used to now and in the day it?s not so bad. But at night I?m still a little worried. As the windows are tinted, it makes the whole thing even harder when it?s dark outside. And the last of this ?little? moan is something that doesn?t bother me but something my neighbour said would bother her. As the seats are sloped back, when you go over a big hill, you can?t see what?s on the other side of it until you get to the top. A bit worrying but I don?t tend to go over that many steep hills myself so I can p
                              ut up with it. Performance wise, I really don?t know too much ? that?s Richard?s area! But I do know that it feels incredibly smooth and it sounds so much quieter that my chuggy old diesel ? even with the sports exhaust. The 1.4 takes about £35 of unleaded to fill it up and that will get you about 300miles going at a good speed (not too fast, not too slow). On acceleration, the Tigra seems very responsive and light?only having it a week I haven?t yet built up the confidence to put my foot down all the way as a light touch gets me to 80 in just a few seconds and that?s enough for me whilst I adjust. So there we go, my new car?my sexy little Tiger! If you get a chance to drive one, give it a go? it won?t bite. Capital letters courtesy of: http://www.chuckleweb.co.uk/fixit.php

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                              • Slimming World / Magazine / Newspaper / 6 Readings / 28 Ratings
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                                29.08.2004 20:41
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                                Diets! Aaggh? I hate that word?I?ve been on a constant ?diet? since I was about 14 so now I just think of it as a way of life. I?m not obsessive and I don?t crash diet and starve myself for weeks on end then eat everything I can find. I just follow the eating plan from Slimming World, plan what I?m going to eat before I eat it and just be careful. I allow myself a few treats during the week and a couple of times a month I go a little (controlled) crazy and have a good night where I don?t worry too much about what I?m eating or drinking. As long as I get straight back on my plan the next day I find everything works out well. I?ve been going to Slimming World classes on and off for a while now and while I?m there, I always pick up a copy of Slimming World Magazine. It costs £1.50 if you go to classes and buy it from there and you can buy it in newsagents, supermarkets etc. for £2.35. Now, before I start, my only negative point about the magazine is that it only comes out once every 2 months (ie, 6 issues a year) so it?s a long old wait till the next one. Slimming World Magazine is usually, very brightly covered with a gorgeous girl on the front. These beautiful slim girls are not just any model hired for the purpose but women that were or are the ?Woman of the Year? ? people who have lost a substantial amount of weight, reached their target and have been nominated by their group to go forward to enter the national Woman of the Year competition. The overall winner is used in promotional work in magazines, television adverts and such like. On the first page of the magazine, like in many other magazines, you will find a letter from the editor Christine Michael, containing words of wisdom for many slimmers. On the next pages, you?ll see the contents.
                                Like every magazine, Slimming World has it?s ?regular features?. These include:- *Welcome (Letter from the editor as mentioned) *Your World (Letters from readers) *Brilliant Book Buys (a recommended list and details of books (mainly recipe books) that Slimming World magazine produce) *Join us Today (a bit of advertising about what happens at Slimming World classes, what you will get when you join and what to expect) *Recipe Index (An easy way to find all the recipes featured in the issue including their Syn values (?Syns? = the value give to some (not all ? many are ?free?) food items so you know how much to eat) *From the Heart (Inspiration from the founder of Slimming World, Margaret Miles-Bramwell.) *Tell us your Slimming Success Story (An area that you can use to tell your successful weight loss story to Slimming World magazine and possibly be featured in a forthcoming issue). *Our World (more inspirational short stories and photos to show you how successful Slimming World can be and what members do in their classes around the country) In addition to the ?Regulars? there are a few other sub-categories. In each category are a number or stories, recipes, tips and advice to help give you ideas so your ?diet? (horrible word again) never becomes boring. **Recipes for Success These include recipes for main meals, sweet and savoury puddings, drinks, party food, snacks etc. Recipes change each week and are usually influenced by the season of the year for example, Christmas & the party season, Easter, Summer & the barbeque season, Winter soups etc. Under this category but throughout the magazine, you will also find notes and details about new food product
                                s on the market that are low or free of Syn values and tips and advice on how to include them in your cooking. **Real ? Life Success This is my favourite section. It includes a number of full length real life stories with photographs depicting the success of Slimming World members and are really great to read ? especially at times when you?re feeling like you are not doing as well as you should be. **Slim-spiration This section includes fashion ideas, background into why you may have gained weight in the first place, ideas on health clubs, inspiration to include a variety of food types into your diet, using your senses to help make choices, competitions to win luxury holidays?and lots lots more. **Body Magic ?Body Magic? is quite a new thing to Slimming World. It encourages members to include exercise each day. By ?exercise?, Slimming World do not mean climbing mountains or working out in the gym for several hours a day. For people that are not used to exercise, Slimming World is there to encourage you to start by doing small things like walking the dog or cleaning the house with a bit more enthusiasm and energy, eventually building up into a more regular routine. If you join Slimming World classes, you will get rewarded for each stage of Body Magic that you complete (Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum levels). Overall, Slimming World is a great magazine to use in conjunction with their food plan. You don?t need to go to classes to follow it and the magazine clearly tells you how the plan works and what you should and shouldn?t do. There is a lot of flexibility within the plan and there is a huge amount of food you can eat without feeling guilty. It is the only diet I have tried where I can always eat something when I want to and not be hungry. T
                                here is always ?free food? available so you don?t run out of things to eat half way through the day. Slimming World magazine will give you so many ideas on things you can eat and different ways of making your food interesting. If you do not have time to read through all the recipes and plan what you are going to eat before you eat it, there are also several pages of set menus that you can just pick up and follow. The magazine also includes a number of contacts to help support you on your weight loss journey. The most important ones I consider to be the Syns enquiry hotline on 09068 518518, group enquiries on 08700 754666 and of course the website which you can visit at http://www.slimming-world.com. So there we go. A great magazine that I really look forward to getting. It?s full of really useful stuff and whenever I pick one up I find interesting and helpful articles that will just give me the little boost I need to keep going. Capital letters courtesy of: http://www.chuckleweb.co.uk/fixit.php

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                                • Other Hard Candy / Make Up / 2 Readings / 24 Ratings
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                                  17.08.2004 23:42
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                                  On Sunday, my fiancé and I took a little trip down to Saint Albans to pick up our wedding rings. While we were there, Richard asked if there was anything else I needed to get or needed to go to. So, presented with that question a girl cannot really pass on the opportunity of popping into Boots with an eye open for new products. So in we went. I wasn?t actually on the look out for anything new this time. I knew what I wanted (and needed ? as I?d actually run out) ? some bronzing balls, my one and only trustworthy mascara that I can never find and a packet of baby wipes. I quickly gathered up my purchases, had a brief look at sun creams (as the choice won?t be so wide in February when we go on our honeymoon) and took them to the till. The woman scanned my products whilst I chatted away to Richard. I didn?t bother looking at the total to pay as I always seem to over spend in Boots ? just handed over my card, signed the slip and off I went. We got home and I decided to put away my shopping?.baby wipes (x2 = bogof)?bronzer?mascara?.after sun (couldn?t resist ? always a necessity)?and that was it?but was it? The bag had an ?un-emptiness? about it and as I reached into the corner my hand touched something small and tubular. I pulled it out and looked at it inquiringly for a while?what was it? I didn?t buy it?did I? How did it get in my bag? The mystery product had the ?hard candy? label so I knew it was a make up product ? it said something about lips but it?s swirly and very pale blue writing made it difficult to read anything else. Very strange! Had they given me a free gift because of all my loyalty over the years? I scanned over the receipt until I found something that read ?HARD CAN ICICLE CO? - £4.50. £4.50? Not
                                  a free gift then I take it. Assuming the person before me had left it behind I decided to take it back and tell boots the mistake. I put it in my bag. 10 minutes later?it was out and plastic ripped off?it looked so intriguing and I kind of believe in fate (although ? never with a lip balm before ? which is what I figured it was by the way?a tinted one). I pulled off the little pale blue top and twisted it up. Mmm, lovely smell?like coconut (which is one of my favourite smells?see the fate thing working yet?) The colour looked like brown and cream swirls ? like you get in luxury ice cream. I wanted to eat it but instead, smoothed it over my lips. The edge was a bit rough but once it started to melt on my lips it became lovely and smooth. The product was quite soft and easy to apply ? unlike some lip balms. When I looked in the mirror, it was a pleasant surprise, the 2 colours had blended together to give a pale pinky ?brown shimmer that Hard Candy call ?Cocoicicle? ? a really lovely colour for warm summer days and just the sort of colour I would have chosen (see the fate thing again?) It?s great to wear with a natural sun-kissed skin colour and just a lick of mascara. Like most lip balms and lip glosses, ?Hard Candy Icicle Balm for lips? doesn?t seem to last very long and you have to touch it up every now and then ? especially after eating, drinking or kissing. But the girly tube is small enough to fit into the pocket of your jeans or in the bag of your choice. It?s lightweight at 4.25g and doesn?t seem to leak or melt in the heat and it?s smooth and soft on your lips and doesn?t get too warm and slide off. Overall, I love it?I hadn?t tried a Hard Candy product before but if all their products are this great then I might be trying another soon. As for this little one, I?m quite happy it
                                  jumped in my bag to accompany me home and when it?s seen it?s last day I?ll be back at Boots looking for another. **Hard Candy is not tested on animals. **Visit www.hardcandy.com Capital letters courtesy of: http://www.chuckleweb.co.uk/fixit.php

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