- Premium reviews
- Express reviews
- Reviews rated
- Ratings received
Ipswich has the slight disadvantage of being classed as 'East Anglian'. Any East of England tag tends to mean one of three things - that no-one really has much knowledge of it...no-one's that interested...or it's assumed to be a bit backward. Well listen up non-believers. Ipswich has a lot to be proud of.
The regeneration around the docks is underway. It's a sight to behold on a crisp sunny day; as the cranes arch over the bustling cafes on the waterside.
Spend some time in this lovely little town and you'll see a place that's unafraid of the future. Though its heritage is apparent wherever you look (I don't know many other places that can boast a cook shop in a 16th Century building), it's blanced beautifully by a forward thinking spirit.
Ipswich is soon to be a University town (in fact they've already got the signs up). There's a surge in youth and the bar and cafe scene is lively. Housing is affordable and surroundings are safe and rural. The shopping's great and the theatres have astoundingly good names - Foo Fighters acoustic anyone? People are starting to use the town as commuter belt (an hour and 10 away from London). Plans are approved for a giant snowdome pleasure park - SnOasis. In short - life feels good. Come visit, I think you'll like it.
Bid TV is a hoot to watch. There's something about the shopping TV presenter that's both desperate and endearing. There's a hysteria that's very attractive after 11pm.
Bid works like many shopping channels - on the reverse auction strategy. The price drops until the entire quantity has gone. Bid have the added advantage of being able to sell, under their own cost price for an item - as call and postage rates more than make up for the shortfall. It's an interesting concept and the buyer/viewer doesn't always miss out. When a company sends out millions of parcels a year - they'll get a great rate. We don't know that rate, so items still look to be fantastic value. Everyone's a winner!
If you want household items, a few quirky one-offs or the odd treat at a great price, without leaving your armchair - go for it. Bid TV is an institution - just make sure you're selective about your purchases...or your home will start to look like an argos end of season sale.
GemsTV was the first channel to exclusively retail jewellery to the consumer. If you've been a viewer from the off, then you'll know it's changed a lot since the early days. The quality and clarity of the gems in particular has improved greatly.
The buying process itself remains simple - call, confirm and keep watching! It's a relatively inexpensive and highly addictive way to shop for jewels.
The channel itself thrives on a well honed feeling of community. Presenters are personable, differing and accessible to all. Buyers have their own forums and clubs - such is the passion of a true GemsTV'er.
What GemsTV really excels at is customer services. This has always been vital to its success, even from snatch-it days. Delivery is very swift, problems are sorted fairly instantly and faith is almost always restored, when anything goes awry. It's been a tough old year for everyone but it's still worth watching. There's usually something to brighten your day - even on minimal pay.
The date was set - September 20th 2008. The husband to be had been negotiate into a corner 'I'll fly up to 4 hours but no more than that', now it was just the location. We settled on Gran Canaria. We'd found a bargain and a half. 5 star half board accommodation in a spa resort close to the dunes in Maspalomas. So it was set - we'd spend our 10 day honeymoon on the island.
On return, these were the things that struck us. Firstly, the sights that line the routes to many resorts are less than idyllic. Gran Canaria is a hugely successful supplier of tomato exports. The stock is cultivated in vast, temporary-looking structures made of nylon sacking and canes or metal posts. Once past their prime, they are left to the elements. You will see a lot of them; derelict, graffiti-ridden and strewn with litter.
Once into resort, things start to look familiar - between 1980's Spain and today's Greek party zone. Maspolomas itself is a frenzy of building on a lovely stretch of beach. The dunes are stunning, the sea - blue. Shops are tax free and ladened with designer goods. Its restaurants are those you find wherever tourists visit in great number. Where is the soul?
If you desire anything other than sun-worshiping, please do leave the resorts. Go to Teror, Puerto Rico, Las Palmas...anywhere that isn't 'in resort'. This is an evolving island that hasn't found its feet. It has little character in the developed areas and will leave you disheartened and feeling cheated. If you venture out, you'll start to see the charm of the place and the residents. Otherwise, prepare yourself for a dusty Disneyland, half way through construction.
The Edinburgh Carlton hotel is a bundle of contradiction. Everything about its situation screams 'adore and recommend me'. An awful lot of what's inside fails to meet expectation and changes your mind.
Let's start with the good.
Its location is fabulous. If you arrive in Edinburgh by train at Waverley station, you'll walk up the steps to be greeted by the hotel sign. After a few hours of travel, the joy from this alone might be enough to rebook. The hotel is a stride away from the Royal Mile and the triangle. You will be surrounded by restaurants, funky boutiques and book shops. Princes Street is just across the bridge upon which, it almost sits. You really can't get any better if you're on foot and want to explore.
The price - exceptional at £60 per night for a 14 day advance booking on its own site. Beat that!
Now for the bad.
As a 4 star, the rooms, though large even for the basic, are a British hotel cliché - dull, dull, dull. Muted colours, a squat 1980's TV, matching Grecian goddess pictures in gilt frames and too little lighting. Nothing matches particularly well and compared to the public areas, you feel downright duped. This is not a romantic retreat!
Nice touch with the mini-fridge and low room service menu prices!!! However, I soon forgot those on seeing that the bath I'd run was yellow. Euch.
Service was ok, not great and not bad. Indifferent.
One hot tip - book a twin room and push the beds together. Ta-da, you'll have an instant king size bed without the cost.
To sum up - the Carlton's a functional, convenient hotel. 4 star, it isn't, but then, it is very British in that regard. Book and use it to recharge before you once again enjoy your amazing surroundings.