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Let's face it, one of the worst jobs girls, has got to be ironing! Its a job that has to be done, and although we loathe it we couldn't do without it.
I have found that in our house we seem to get through more irons than the average family and this is due to limescale. Unfortunately we live in a hard water area.
Years ago I remember my Mum using distilled water in her steam iron to try and reduce the limescale build up in her iron.
These days I am a real sucker for anything that makes my laundry or home smell good. Sad I know but its a fact...
I have discovered a product that not only makes our clothes smell gorgeous but reduces limescale so prolongs the life of you iron.
It comes in a clear bottle, 1 litre to be exact, it a clear liquid that smells clean and fresh.
I find that no matter which washing detergent and fabric conditioner you use, this tends to fade when you line dry.
Comfort vaporesse retail at about 99p per bottle, although I picked up 2 for £1.50 last week in Wilkinsons.
Well to the test, its smells fantastic as you iron, it makes the whole house smell great as your ironing, and yes it does make ironing easier, I have to iron numerous amounts of white shirts for work and school, the iron just glides across the fabric, with the added bonus of the great fresh smell.
I can honestly say that our iron has lasted. A whole 6 months so far, without that awful spitting gunky stuff, isn't that annoying when your ironing something really nice and its gets spat on by digusting limescale muck.
I can honestly say that I enjoy my ironing now, our clothes are infused with freshness.
I buy a bottle of Vaporesse and this usually does a weeks worth of ironing, Its well worth it, perfectly ironed clothes that smell fabulous even after being in the wardrobe. My iron is going to last longer too.
How to use
Pour the vaporesse directly into your iron's reservior, do not dilute.
Do not pour water from iron back into the vaporesse bottle ( its hot and would melt the bottle !)
Avoid contact with eyes, If so rinse immediately with water!
Creates airbourne perfume ( its lovely )
This is a Unilever product. The bottle is recycleable ( Yay )
Great stuff, thats makes ironing bearable !
During the last ten years we have visited this resort three or four times. This is purely because some years in desperate need of some rest and relaxation but on a tight budget you won't get better value for money.
Moving house and spending money on the home does not always leave a hefty amount for our annual holiday.
So if you need some guaranteed sunshine and a total break from the home life this is the place to go. ( If your not too fussy.)
Situated in northern Spain, in the region of Catalonia, on the Costa Brava coastline.
It approximately 45 km from Girona airport and 60 km from Barcelona.
The tourist industry here started to thrive in the 1960's and has been popular with the British, Germans and Dutch as it has good transport links by both road and air. Since the 60's people have been arriving here every summer by plane and coach.
There are two parts of Calella, the old town and the new.
The old town has hotels tucked away in the little side streets that totally fit with the beautiful old buildings. The narrow little side roads, that are the traditional spain. The main shopping area here is pedestrianised. The shops are varied from little patisseries and tapas bars where you can sit Al fresco and watch the world go by, to newsagents and gift shops that sell tourist tat. I would recommend the Santa Maria church which you can't miss in the old town.
As you make your way along the shady narrow streets its not unusual to come across a beautiful square with benches and a couple of fountains, where you can sit and watch the pidgeons wash.
You can wander and shop here from early morning until 1pm, when the shops close for their siesta. It then comes back to life in the evening until about 11pm in high season. The shops here are owned by Spanish families who take great pride in their business both inside and out, its not unusual to see them washing the pavements outside their shop. The windows are spotless and the window displays are perfect. The atmosphere here is so relaxed. I like to shop for a while then find a nice bar with tables and chairs and people watch.
The new town, is within easy walking distance from the old town. In a slightly elevated position, here you have some very modern and not so modern large hotels. Some of the hotels have definitely seen better days. Amongst the hotels in the side streets are shops, restaurants, bars and clubs. There is also the occasional supermarket. Don't expect a Morrisons, these are for essentials and are quite different from the stores back in England.
Where ever you are in Calella you won't be more than a ten minute walk from the beach. The beach here has a railway line that runs along it, to get to the beach there are five subways that go under the line. Two of which are suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs. This railway line sounds horrendous I know but its not, they are overhead electric trains, that you hardly notice.I've sat on the beach and only ever noticed them if I happened to look up from my book.
The beach here is man made. The sand is like shingle, although its not the same as fine golden sands you don't end up taking half the beach back to your hotel. The beach is spotless and has been awarded a blue flag. It has seven covered beach bars, all with toilets and shower facilities.
The beach is also manned by a redcross system of lifeguards that watch the beach and sea and are linked to a megafone system, to alert anyone of any danger. Out to sea there are two water rafts with slides.
Nightlife here is whatever you want it to be, from nightclubs and foam parties to English bars with karoke, to Spanish tapas bars. There are plently of family friendly places, mini golf or ten pin bowling, a large soft play area with bouncy castles and trampolines. You can dance the night away or spend it with your small children.
Eating in Calella you will find yourself spoilt for choice, There are plenty of restaurants that serve both English and Spanish food, and cater for children. There are Italian , Indian and Chinese restaurants, pizzeria's, burger bars and even a Mcdonald's appeared last time we went !
If you get bored with the beach and the pool, Calella has a railway station that will take you to resorts along the Costa Brava
such as Blanes or Tossa de mar, or further afield Barcelona.
There are parts of Calella that need a little updating, and if you are looking for stunning scenery and want total peace and quiet then maybe Calella isn't for you, but if you want sunshine, a nice beach and place to chill on a budget you could do worse!.
I have Just finished this book and can only say I am sorry that it came to an end. I enjoyed every one of the 473 pages.
The Island was written by Victoria Hislop, it was her first novel.
She studied at Oxford university, which is where she met and later married her husband Ian. Victoria is not only a successful author but a freelance journalist specialising in travel.
The Island is a winner of the Galaxy British Book Awards.
This book pulled me in from the very first few pages, its starts in 1953. It describes the journey of a father and daughter in a small fishing boat, its autum, as the boat bobs and lurches across the sea they have no more to say to one another. Her bundled possessions tied together by string are the only sign that this is a one way journey. They are making the short crossing from Crete to Spinalonga. Spinalonga the leper colony.
The first main character in the book is Alexis, she has travelled to Crete with her boyfriend, she is having serious doubts about their relationship. Alexis's mother was born on Crete and refuses to discuss her childhood or family. Her mother has given her a letter to take to her oldest friend and promised her that she will learn the truth from her.
From the moment Alexis gets into her hire on her own to drive to Plaka, I was drawn into the beautiful descriptions of her drive across Crete.
Then unfolds a story that covers four generations.
Eleni, Alexis's great grandmother and Giorgis Great grandfather. The simple, beautiful life of a school teacher and her fisherman husband. The life in the village of Plaka, where nothing has changed for generations. The village and its people are traditional
Eleni and Giorgis have two daughters, Anna and Maria, two sisters that are so opposite in nature. As a reader I loved Maria and loathed Anna. Maria is a sweet natured home loving girls that would do anything for her family. Anna on the other hand is a moody, self centered lazy individual that cannot understand why anyone would want to stay in the village. Their story takes you through the tragic twists and turns in their lifes.
I found the story very easy to read the pages couldn't turn quickly enough. I have been to Greece, but not Crete, I so want to go now.
Spinalonga - The leper colony, from 1903 until 1957, much of the story is based around this little island. Having read this book, I feel as though I have been there. The lepers were sent from all over Greece. The Physical and mental suffering of these people was so shocking it made me cry. The bravery of these leper suffers was amazing. They eventually created a community that resembled a village like any other. Whilst living with the reality that they were outcasts from society, fear deemed them unclean.
Part of the story covers the occupation by the Germans during the war. It tells the story of the resistance movement and the effect it had on the Island and its people.
Not only was this a story that I could not drag myself away from. I found I learnt so much about leprosy and the slow long dedicated struggle of the doctors that eventually found a cure.
Info from book.
Although Leprosy has been eradicated in Europe after a cure was found in the 1950's, In 2004 400,000 cases were diagnosed worldwide. To cure one person costs £21.
I am hoping to visit Crete, my first sightseeing trip will be to Spinalonga. The now uninhabitated island.
As usual on my weekly shopping trip I was on the look out for anything that was on special offer and would make a nice change. I, like most people love a bargain and get quite excited about finding something we haven't tried before, sad I know, but I'm quite easily pleased.
A promotion that caught my eye was in the chilled section, It was a very attractive display of beautifully coloured tubs.
Muller Amore' yogurts, the flavour I bought was Morello cherry.
The tub is approximately 4 inches wide and 2 inches deep. They contain 150 g. It has the Muller Amore' logo on the front with Morello cherries next to logo and has a cherry coloured background.
The various different flavours are coloured to reflect the flavour. They had Lemon, Orange and Strawberry with Vanilla. I must admit they all looked very tempting.
The price when not on promotion is 68p each, the offer I found was 3 for £1. What a bargain !
So for the taste test...
I peeled back the lid and straight away I could smell the Cherry. The yogurt was a pale cherry colour. I put my spoon in and was impressed by the thick and smooth consistency. Straight away I saw quite large pieces of Morello Cherry.
The taste is creamier than I have ever tasted in a yogurt. It almost reminds me of moouse. Absolutely delicious.
As I carried on eating I was disappointed that I was coming to the end.
Although I'm not a lid licker, I must confess I scraped every last little bit off the lid with my spoon.
As you will see from the ingredients they are not healthy but they are very tasty for a special treat.
144 calories per 100 grams.
Whipping cream 18%
Morello cherries 10 %
Modified maize starch
Vegetable extract carrot, beetroot, red sorrell
May contain whole cherry stones.
Muller was first established way back in 1896, in a small Bavarian village.
However this particular range the Amore' luxury dessert yogurt was launched in 2003. I wish I'd noticed them before !
For a treat I would pay full price for them.
I don't really stick to one brand of shampoo and conditioner, I tend to choose a middle of the range brand that is on special offer.
This week I bought Garnier Fructis which was on offer, 2 for £3.
I haven't used this product for a long time and really couldn't remember what it was like so I was looking forward to trying it out.
We've all heard of Garnier as its a well known brand. The bottle a Lime green colour and stands on the lid. The bottle I choose was 250ml.
What the bottle says
Do you want to have stronger and shinier hair ?
FRUCTIS STRENGTH AND SHINE CONDITIONER
1. Hair is strengthened from within
2. Smoothes the hair fibre from root to tip
RESULT; HAIR IS PERFECTLY DETANGLED, WITHOUT HEAVINESS. HAIR IS STRONGER ON THE INSIDE, SHINIER ON THE OUTSIDE.
Effective results 2 x stronger, 3 x smoother.
Sounds promising, I thought. My hair is shoulder length and wavy, and extremely thick.
After using the Fructis shampoo, I applied the conditioner, its white in colour and smells fruity, I can't say I was overly keen on the smell as its a little too sweet, to me its quite sickly, but I thought this would fade after I had given my hair a good rinse.
I applied quite a generous amount, combed it through and left it for a few minutes. I found it quite difficult to rinse, it took longer than any other conditioner I have ever used. Finally I was satisfied that was all rinsed out, it took about 4 minutes.
I always towel dry my hair before blow drying, I still was not overly impressed with the fragrance far too fruity for me, not a very clean smell. I found my hair took double the time to blow dry.
Now I came to straightening ! I have never had such a chore.... It was impossible. My hair didn't feel like my own ! I eventually gave up and went to bed. Hoping for better luck in the morning.
No such luck ! I really couldn't do anything with it. I went to work feeling like a bag lady. My hair felt heavy and dirty. That claggy sort of feeling you get when you've been to the beach on a damp and windy day.
I tried again tonight, and rinsed my hair for a solid 6 minutes.
After I'd towel dried and brushed my hair my Daughter started to laugh, She said my hair made me look like a character out of Ballymory. The ends were starting to curl outwards!
That was the last straw I threw the bottle in bin.
All I can say looking back on the past year 2007 is that it has been quite a peaceful happy non-eventful year.
Although to some this may seem very boring and hey ho not much to read about, I can only breath a sigh of relief.
After moving into our house last year I can honestly say that this year after doing some decorating and a few odd jobs it now feels more like ours.
In January 2007 our daughter had her 15th birthday, I can only say it was a lovely celebration and that we were thankful. You tend to take kids birthdays for granted, but this is not always the case as we found out in 2006.
Feburary 2006 we received a phone call early on a Saturday morning to say that our niece who was 13 had died in her sleep.
To say we were mortified was an understatement. It was an undescribable feeling. Our lovely little niece had died, gone to bed and didn't wake up. She was six weeks younger than our daughter, every milestone they had reached was more or less at the same time. My sister-in-law was in total shock, as for her younger brother and sister they couldn't grasp the fact that she had gone.
The funeral later that month was dreadful as you can imagine, the little coffin, her friends crying, her 86 year old grandfather watching on. It was the sadess experience of my life.
The last two years of Amanda's life were spent in North Wales due to family circumstances. This was 350 miles from us.
We travelled the 350 miles back home, promising that we would do our best to help them move back down south to be nearer to us.
Eventually in November 2006 they managed to be re-housed in Kent, 5 minutes from us.
In 2007 I have watched my youngest niece and nephew bloom and grow, I watched them both at christmas, I am so proud and so grateful, I really have started to apprieciate that we should never take life for granted. But I am also so grateful for the 13 years that Amanda had and for all the special memories that we have. We can all sit down as a family and remember the fantastic times we had. She was a very special little girl.
Looking back at 2007 I can only say that I am truly thankful that this year our family has grown stronger, as I watch my daughter, My mum, my partner, my dear sister, my sister in law and all my nieces and nephews. Amanda,My Dad and my Grandparents who are no longer with us you are always in memories.
Thank you for an uneventful year.
All the best for 2008.
I love new cleaning products, anything that makes everyday cleaning easier has got to be a bonus. I have not owned an old fashioned toliet brush for many years as I think they are the most unhygenic and disgusting things ever!
I cannot stand the thought of using a brush down the loo, then parking it in its little holder on the floor, all those nasty little germs living in the bathroom is a really nasty thought.
So cleaning our loo was probably the nastiest job in our house, out came the rubber gloves and disposable cloths and I would get down on my hands and knees and away I would scrub.
Then I found a little friend called TOILET DUCK FRESH BRUSH.
This product has a totally disposable cleaning head, so no more storing dirty brushes.
A starter kit costs approx £3.99, this consists of the handle and head and 12 refills.
The handle comes in two parts, it simply clips together to form an almost shoe horn shaped handle. The bottom end has a mouth which opens so that you can insert the disposable cleaning pad, you flick a button on the upper handle which closes the mouth and grips the pad.
Hey presto, you dip the pad down the loo this makes the pad release its bright blue cleaning foam and you wizz it round the pan and under the rim, its smells really fresh and shifts even stubborn stains, you know the ones men leave, sorry men but you know its true !
When you've finished cleaning simply flick the button to release the pad into the loo and flush. How easy was that ?
These little cleaning pads are biodegradable.
The handle then sits next to the loo on its little stand.
This is a Johnson family product. Refill packs of 12 are availble at about £2.99.
Keep out of reach of children.
For toilet cleaning only.
As with all household cleaning products avoid prolonged contact with skin.
Wash and dry hands after use.
Do not use with any liquid or bleach cleaners.
And lastly but not least, seek immediate medical advice if swallowed.
Sad though it may seem, as I browse along the household section of the supermarket I am always on the look out for new cleaning and laundry products. I am a sucker for anything that gives my home and clothes for that extra nice fragrance.
I love plug-in air freshners, cleaning products and anything that makes my laundry smells gorgeous. I tend to opt for 2 in 1 products when I'm washing curtains, cushion covers and washing winter coats. Not only do I usually find 2 in 1's more economical when washing in bulk but the smell usually lingers longer on things like curtains and coats.
So strolling along the laundry aisle, one product that grabbed my attention was BOLD 2 IN 1, LAVENDER AND CAMOMILE, I must admit that the lovely lavender colour bottle, with the soothe your senses logo really drew me in.
Although the bottle was appealing I have to have a little sniff, so I took off the lid, yes it smelt nice, not too strong, but quite nice and fresh, certainly not awful, clean and fresh but not overpowering.
So now at home I put Bold 2 in 1 Lavender 2 in one to the test.
I have the liquid 1.5 l bottle which comes with the dosing ball . The bottle has a description on how to sort your laundry, by colour, Whites, Lights, Brights and Darks.
It then gives you the dosage depending on the softness of your water and how soiled your clothes are.
The bottle says that it will give you 20 washes, but obviously this is for a soft water area for clothes that aren't heavily soiled. In a hard water area with heavily soiled clothes you would get less washes per bottle.
So to the test.
I first tried a load from our spare room, not dirty, but in need of freshening up, bed linen, so I used the minimum amount of Bold 75 ml's. Well, removing the linen from my machine, a little sniff, well it smelt clean, but not anything that was even really nice, just clean, it was a smell that was very faint, probably what I would expect from a very cheap detergent.
I dried this particular load on an outside line. All I can say is once back on the bed it smelt fresh but there was no trace of lavender
The next load I tried was an everyday wash, things like underwear and socks and nightwear. This time I used more Bold, 100 mls, on my usual 40 degrees, the dirtier items like white socks came up very clean, but the smell , well there wasn't any that I noticed.
I then tried a 60 degree wash, towels and tumble dried the load.
Yes they were soft, but I think that was due to being tumble dried.
Again, yes they were clean, but no smell that made me want to keep myself wrapped in one of my freshly washed towels. Bed linen was the same it smelt clean but could I smell Lavender and Camomile, no !
The next load , I added fabric conditioner which pretty much defeats the object of a 2 in 1.
Usually with other Bold 2 in 1 products the smell has lingered around the house and in wardrobes. This one did not.
For ease of use this is perfect. A nice liquid that goes into the dosing ball. Close the door and let your machine do its thing.
But if you want a nice fragrance that lingers I wouldn't bother. For stain removal its average.
Would I buy it again ? No I wouldn't. I prefer a scent that lingers.
Going into a book store a couple of week ago, I was drawn towards the Martina Cole section, although I was convinced that I had read every one of her books. I then spotted The Runaway, reading the synopsis I knew that I hadn't read this one. I almost ran to the checkout, I couldn't believe my luck. How I had overlooked this one beats me.
Martina Cole was born in 1958 in Essex. To date I believe she has written 14 novels. Basically they are all crime thrillers, usually based around London's crime underworld. They generally have a female protagonist character and involve the Irish community in London.
Her books are violent, graffic, and contain a lot of bad language. It goes without saying they are sometimes quite shocking. But this is all necessary for the way that she writes.
The story starts in 1995. In a London hospital a woman is ICU, her name is Cathy, she is suffering from horrific injuries, she has been beaten so badly she is almost unregonisable.
With her is a policeman, Richard, he has known Cathy for many years, Richard is head of the vice squad in London.
New york. A man called Eamonn, is desperate to contact Cathy, but can only get her answerphone. From his lush office in New York, he is helpless, but knows she is in terrible trouble.
The book then goes back to 1960. We then get to know Cathy and Eamonn as children. They live together in the same flat. Cathy's mother Madge is a Prostitute, and a low class one at that. She has no morals and hasn't a maternal bone in her body. She lives with Eamonns father who is a violent drunk.
Cathy cooks, cleans and generally takes care of her mother and the home.
Cathy and Eamonn survive the poverty and violence, which at times is incredibly cruel. During this time in their lives they form an incredible and unbreakable bond.
Without giving too much of story away, when Cathy and Eamonn are teenagers, the two families seperate. Life becomes even more terrible for the young girl. Her mother Madge starts bringing men home, and is drinking more and more. This leads to a horrific chain of events, this puts Cathy in even more danger. This is the point when she meets Richard Gates, the head of the vice squad.
It then becomes a story of survival against the odds.
Eamonn, has to leave England and is helped to America. I won't spoil it and tell you how or why. But at this point you start to understand what a dangerous individual he is. He believes that Cathy is safe. Cathy is in desperate trouble that no-one is aware of.
Eamonn is blissfully unaware of the terrible situation that Cathy in. He gradually builds a life in America, getting deeper into New Yorks criminal underworld.
Cathy is surviving despite the fact she believes that she will one day be reunited with her only love in life Eamonn.
This story is a real page turner, The relationship between Cathy and Eamonn is so powerful and yet so self destructive. Its is passionate and heartbreaking. Cathy grows into a beautiful, successful business woman, with the help of a transvestite and his lover. She makes many powerful and wonderful friends in the sex industry. She has high morals and scrupals, but will it be enough in her fight against the powerful IRA, the Mafia in New York. Many of whom she isn't even aware of her connection with.
I really couldn't read this book fast enough. From the first chapters
I wanted to know how this woman ended up cut to ribbons in a hospital bed. What a journey it was. The suspense was there until the very last chapter. From the 1960's right up to 1995 it had me reading every spare second. It made me laugh in places with the great sense of humour surrounding the transvestites. Its also made me cry at some of the tragic things that happened to this poor little girl born and not wanted by Dock Dolly. Why would a senior policeman for the vice squad care about this women so much.
The best 656 pages I've read since the last Martina Cole book.
For more info. www.martinacole.co.uk
Thanks for reading.
Having been a loyal Safeway customer for many years I must say that I was a little sceptical about the Morrisons takeover a couple of years ago. To be honest we all heard the rumours about the Northern company Morrisons, being very different to what we were used to down south.
Safeway was an established company, and many people like myself were happy with the good quality supermarket that they were.
Our local Safeway was refitted and renamed approximately 2 years ago. Having shopped there since then I can only say that my local store under the Morrisons name has only improved.
With an ample car park, we enter the store through the only enter/exit automatic doors into a lobby with a cash machine. This was stolen a few months ago by a gang with a JCB, ( buts thats another story. )
As you enter the store you are greeted by a customer service desk, they deal with customer queries, anything from needing a pound coin for your trolley to a query on your bill. To your right you have customer toilets and baby changing facilties. Also you have the Morrisons cafe, where you can have a quick coffee, or a full lunch, fish and chips, cottage pie and vegetables or an all day breakfast. ( very handy on Sunday morning .) They also do children meals. All of the meals are quite reasonable, between £3 to £4 for meal. Kids meals £1.95 and this includes a drink and and activity pack.
Outside the cafe, they have trolley lockers. You need a £1 coin, you park your loaded shopping trolley inside, this is incase you fancy a coffee or need the loo, after you have you have done your shopping.
In between the customer services and cafe you have a dry cleaning and section and photo bar.
The first section upon entering the store is the floristry which is where you can grab a house plant or a bunch of flowers from a modest £2.99 to maybe a prezzie for someone for around £10 upwards.
On to the produce, prepacked or loose fruit and veg the choice is yours.
Pizza bar, pre -made or made to order. Again the choice is yours.
Salad bar, choose your size container, prices vary from single £1.49 to family for £3.50.
Pie shop, savouries and sweet. Multi buy or single, bagged and served from behind the counter.
Chicken and hot savouries, from whole cooked chickens to roast potatoes, served from a counter.
On to ready meals.... From Indian and Chinese to bangers and mash.
Tinned grocery section Morrisons own make to Heinz.
Audio bar, which has chart music and Dvds, Magazines, news papers, chart paperback books, computer ink cartridges, greetings cards, party goods, paper plates, candles, napkins etc.
Bakery section, everything from prepacked bread to Tiger bread, french bread, cheese twists, cheese topped bread, all baked in store. Eccles cakes, scones. The cream cake section has fresh cream eclairs to Bannoffee pie.
There is also a birthday cake section where you can get a decent cake for less than a fiver.
On the main grocery section you can always pick up the special offers, the buy one get one free, and the £1 offers are also very well advertised.
A great frozen section, everything you need with different special offers every week.
They also have a seasonal aisle, accordingly they have gardening equipment, easter eggs, school stationery, christmas cards and prezzies.
Home and leisure. here you can pick up anything from a duvet and pillows, to a new saucepan or can opener. They have a lovely range of duvet covers and cushions, towels and flannels. Scented candle and tea lights. Then there is the electrical appliances, kettles , toasters, irons, hair dryers and straightners. Odd nick nacks like door mats.
The baby section, from bibs to baby wipes. Baby food to toys..
Toiletries. Toothpaste to sun tan cream.
Wines and spirits. Great selections from Champagnes to cheap plonk and lagers. They provide wine boxes for 6 bottles and 5% off of all purchases of 6 bottles of wine. Great for Christmas or a party.
Pharmacy, this is handy if you have a prescription, why wait when you can be shopping and then collect it when you have finished. Or you need some over the counter advice.
Checking out. I always find pretty smooth. Lets face it, once you done you just want to get through as quickly as possible and go.
Although my local store is busy, I have never waited too long, if queues are building up they open more checkouts. If like myself you are worried about the amount of plastic carriers we are using, they sell a bag for life for 10p or they sell a canvas reusable bag for about 70p. Checkout staff are always cheerful and helpful.
At the front of the store after the checkouts, you have a customer notice board for anyone wanting to advertise things like boot fayres and selling items, a photo booth, and a coin star machine , for changing your coppers.
Whilst I was walking to work the other day I passed a couple of primary school children walking along eating Sherbet fountains. I didn't even realise that you could still buy these!
It set my mind working, back to the sweets that we used to eat when I was their age and a bit older.
When I was at primary school back in the 1970's we used to walk home with our friends. It wasn't a long walk only about 10 or 15 minutes. The only shop on route was a sweet shop, called Sweetie Corner. Believe it or not it sold nothing but sweets, Looking back I can't imagine how it stayed in business.
The shop was run by a very little old lady ( quite how old I can't say ) But to us school kids she was ancient. She always wore a blue and white overall and she had lovely white hair. She was always friendly and polite and I don't ever remember any of us or other kids giving her any sort of problem.
There was never the need for the standard sign you see in shops now 'ONLY 2 CHILDREN AT A TIME.'
Anyway we all used to save our pocket money to go and have a little spend at the Sweetie Corner.
So from memory here are my top ten.
1. SHERBET FOUNTAINS.
In a yellow cardboard tube you had delicious fine sherbet with a little chunky liquorice stick. You dipped the liquorice into the sherbet and licked it off. When you had finished all the sherbet you ate the stick.
2. SHERBET PIPS
As you are probably guessing already I loved Sherbet.
You bought these by the 1/4 from those lovely sweet jars behind the counter. They came in a little white paper bag.
They were tiny little pink and yellow sherbet sweets. If you put too many into your mouth at once they made you shudder. ( But that was half the fun! )
3. FRUIT SALADS
These individually wrapped sweets made by Bassetts, juicy, fruity, chewy sweets were delicious.
4. BLACK JACKS
Again made by Bassetts and in individual wrappers, they were completely black and had a nice aniseed flavour. If they got a bit warm you had to peel the sweet from the wrapper as it went completely gooey. As you you chewed the sweet it would turn your whole mouth black, this was a constant source of amusement.
5. RHUBARB AND CUSTARD SWEETS.
These little sweets again sold by the 1/4. They were hard boiled, half red and half yellow being rhubarb and custard. A really nice sweet that lasted ages.
6. DRUMSTICK LOLLIES.
These were a wrapped chewy lolly on a stick. They were so chewy that anyone with fillings didn't stand a chance of holding onto them. They were raspberry and cream flavour and tasted divine !
7. ANISEED TWISTS.
Otherwise known as cough candy. These were also sold from the jars by the 1/4. They were hard boiled orange twisted sweets. Not for the faint hearted as they were quite strong.
8. HAPPY TATTOO
This was a small individually wrapped fruity bubble gum. Each one came with a different tattoo image. All you had to do was peel the 2 bits of paper apart and stick it to your skin. Which meant you could do it on the way home from school !
9. PARMA VIOLET
These were small packets of sweets wrapped in a celophane tube. The packet contained small purple violet scented sweets. THEY WERE DISGUSTING !
They tasted of violet toilet water, so why are they on the list you might ask. Well I used to buy them for my sister as she loved them.
Well time moves on and so did I. I moved on to High School. The little sweetie shop was demolished to make way for new housing. My tastes in sweets became far more sophisticated.... Haha
10. SPACE DUST
In about 1980, there came a new must have craze in sweets. It came in a little sachet, inside was what looked like very coarse sherbet. You simply opened the packet and poured some into your mouth. Then the popping and fizzing started. It was like a mini explosion. You have to imagine a large group of 15 year old girls doubled up in fits of giggles. It was a short lived faze but very amusing to girls my age. To be honest I can't even remember what it tasted like.
Well I've really enjoyed writing this review. I hope that you enjoy reading it.
Believe it or not I never touch sweets now.
Summer is definitely on is its last legs. Gone are the light summer salads, I find myself craving for warming winter meals.
One of our favourite winter dinners must be beef casserole with good old dumplings. The dumplings not being very healthy but they are so tasty and extremely filling.
One of the things I love about a beef casserole is that you can literally put it in the oven and forget about it for a few hours. The lovely aroma that fills the house is a great welcome to anyone coming home on dark winter evening after a long day at work.
So the main ingredients are as follows :-
700g ( 1 1/2 lb ) lean stewing beef
trimmed and cubed
30 ml ( 2 tbsp ) flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper
40g ( 1 1/2 oz ) butter
2 medium sized onions chopped
3 medium carrot , sliced
1/2 small swede ( optional )
450 mls ( 3/4 pint ) stock
100g ( 4oz sifted self raising flour )
50g ( 2 oz ) shredded suet and a pinch of salt
To prepare your dumplings, add sufficient water to make a soft dough. MIx by hand ( this is the part kids love ) roll into to balls. I usually make 6 to 8. Cover until you are ready to add to your casserole.
Toss the meat in seasoned flour
Fry the meat gently in butter until its nicely browned, turning constantly.
Remove into oven proof dish
Add vegetables into the pan and cook until golden. ( approx 7 mins )
Transfer all the ingredients into the oven proof dish.
Cover the dish and cook on a low heat 180 degrees celsius or gas mark 6 for aprroximately 2 hours.
Twenty minutes before your casserole will be ready add your dumplings.
You can either just sit them on top, or turn them after 10 minutes, it depends whether you like your dumplings
crispy or soft.
I tend to serve this meal with plenty of fresh vegetables, and also like to add a touch of garlic and sometimes add different veg, like chopped potato. Sometimes we have mashed potatoes other times roasted. Thats the beauty of it you can basically do what you like.
But I defy anyone not to feel hungry when they smell this delicious simple dinner when they step through the door.
I also love the fact you can leave it cooking while you do all the little jobs you need to do.
When the kids were very small I used to put it in the food liquidiser.
Another bonus this can easily be cooked in a slow cooker, all day while your out at work so all that you have to do when you get home is add the dumplings!
As we live in the heart of Kent, we had waited with great interest for the opening of the new Dickens world that was due to be opened in May 2007.
It had be given a lot of publicity. The kids had all been talking about the new theme park that was opening just up the road!. Well not quite, 15 miles but to them I suppose it is very near.
Dickens world is the new indoor family attraction. It took approximately 3 years to build. It is privately owned and cost £62 million. How could you not want to visit it when it is only 20 minutes away?
Chatham docks closed over 20 years ago, over the last 5 to 10 years there has been alot of regeneration work going on down there, a large outlet centre, housing, a multiplex cinema. With Dickens world finished recently.
Charles Dickens spent part of his childhood in Chatham as his father worked in the Navy payoffice in the dockyard.
We planned our visit for the week after it opened. We set off with extended family and were really looking forward to a great day out, the sunny was shining what a great start.
As we walked towards the building, which I can only describe as an aircraft hangar, huge and stainless steel.
The first thing I spotted was the queue from the back of the building. We joined the end and two of us went to find out how long we might be waiting. As we turned the corner to the front of the building we were met by a manager from Dickens world, he told us that from the back of the queue it was approximately a 2 and half hour wait.
Okay, we didn't want to spoil things for the kids, after all it was a lovely sunny day, everyone was in good humour and we were literally yards from the huge retail outlet centre, not just bargains in the Next and Clarkes shoes stores, but plently of places to grab some food and drink and so we sent half of us off to do some shopping while the other half stayed in queue. We then all swapped over and did it again. Slowly but surely the queue was moving. My other half was not impressed and insisted that people were giving up and going home rather than getting in. But I had promised the kids the day here and so be it.
Eventually after 2 hours and 10 minutes later we were inside the foyer. Still in a queue for the ticket desks we were constantly being told by managers due to the volume of visitors and a few minor technical hitches they were sorry for the delay.
Well we were now through and going up the stairs to a set of double doors into Dickens world.
As we entered the first thing that struck me was the stark change of lighting, from a modern brightly lit foyer to the darkness of night, the only lights were gas lamps. It was so sudden my 9 year old niece grabbed my hand and said I don't like it! After some reassurance she was fine, we were crossing a bridge with boats going underneath it.
The led us to the main victorian courtyard.
As we stood and look around there seemed to be alleyways leading off of it, we had no map or guidebook and there were people in every direction, then one of the kids spotted a sign for the Great expectations boat ride.
Having a brief look around the courtyard I must say we were very impressed. The victorian shopfronts and the lighting along with the general atmosphere were very impressive.
But the kids were dying to get on the ride, and considering that they hadn't complained about waiting to get in, off we went. We found ourselves at the end of a queue that went into an alley. Hey ho another queue, after 5 minutes into the alley a printed sign on the wall that said WAITING TIME FROM THIS POINT APPROXIMATELY 1 AND AND HALF HOURS. I must admit at this point I wanted to scream. But I took a deep breath, keep calm surely it would be worth it.
We slowly worked our way through the passageways of the Newgate Prison, the walls occasionally broken up by prison cell doors, which the kids hoped to be able to peer inside and see something gruesome, but no such luck, nothing to be seen here. So we were stuck in alleyway with lots of other people waiting to get on. The nearer we got the louder the sounds of water and laughter, sounds good !
Then we were issued with plastic disposable macks.
There were warnings for people of a nervous dispositions or heart complaints not to take the ride. I'm not so sure the queue would be good for people with either of the dispositions ! So finally we climbed into the ride. Up we went very slowly, bearing in mind we are supposed to be sailing above victorian rooftops, up to a peak, then quickly turned around, in the dark, then backwards, down through a dark tunnel, sprayed with water and so then gently along past more victorian dwellings. We did laugh alot and scream abit. But I must say that It was over in less than 5 minutes.
So back to the main courtyard. People seemed as lost as to where to go next as we were.. Spotting a street entertainer, dressed in victorian clothing we asked where we should go next. Try Dotherby's victorian classroom he suggested so we did, again off of the main courtyard we were greeted by a very stern looking schoolmaster, ' Your late get into class' he yelled, much to the amusement of the kids, we all sat in the very authentic looking classroom, we then noticed built into the desks were interactive snakes and ladders. We played on these for while, computer games, at Dickens world. I thought this was very strange.
We did have fun though, especially when he called my nephew into the corner to wear the dunce cap, for laughing too loud.
Back to the courtyard, we then went into see a 4D HD cinema show on the life and times of Charles Dickens, this was really interesting, although the kids got a bit bored, but it wasn't too long so they were okay with it.
Time for a drink. Off of the courtyard were some steps which leads up to the Six Jolly Fellowship porters restaurant. We'd already had lunch in the first queue so we only wanted a drink, had we been hungry I think that we may have been a little bit disappointed. There was nothing unusual here, Sandwiches, baguettes, some traditional English food, nothing special really.
The drinks weren't too expensive although I can't remember exact prices.
Along from the restaurant is Fagin's play den, this was a huge let down, its really just a Kids soft play area in a tiny room , this only really suitable for pre-school children. It was empty when we looked in.
At this point I think we were all really hoping that there ws more to come and that we would stumble across something that we hadn't already seen.
The toilets are very central and immaculate. There are baby changing facilities.
Back to the courtyard, in case you hadn't noticed this where you end up everytime! we had a little chat with one of the Dickens characters, who said we should see the last place we hadn't seen, The haunted house of Ebenezer Scrooge. I asked how long the wait was he said 'only 5 minutes.' Well we got up to the house and were told to wait at the top of a flight of stairs. Groups of people were to be escorted in by one of the guides. While we were waiting I decided that this so called house looked more like something out of a spaghetti western, not victorian times.
Twenty minutes later after much dicussion on her walkly talkie, which she kept pulling out from under her really beautiful victorian dress, she apologised for the delay due to a technical hitch. At this point we decided not to bother.
The only bonus to this part of the day was that due to almost everyone else having gone home, the kids went back on the boat ride 5 times with no queue and no waterproofs as there were none left, they got drenched to the skin but had a great time.
Exit Dickens world is through the Olde curiousity shop, which is full of overpriced rubbish, It doesn't resemble olde at all , with its bright lights, laminate floor and automatic doors.
Overall I feel very let down by our day out. Although I think it was very educational, it certainly is not what Dickens world advertise, Yes it was fun in parts, Its not the day out of a life time as they advertise. They haven't thought about the queues. The scenery and the costumes are amazing. But the whole place is lacking a certain something.
Opening times 10am - 7pm ( exc. Christmas day )
Children £ 7.50
Thanks for reading.
A couple of weeks ago I found myself in the cereal aisle at the local supermarket wondering if I could find something that I would find to tickle my tastebuds.
Looking along the shelves I came across all the usual cereals that we've either had before and were bored with or the ones that really had no appeal to me whatsoever.
You know the ones chocolate rice krispies and honey nut loops, weetabix... Boring.. porridge oats, which I can only associate with cold winter mornings.
I wanted something that was exciting, something to make me jump out of the shower dying for a tasty brekkie!
Then a really colourful box caught my eye, Special K Red berries, It was a box with a white background with the large K in red with pictures of red summer berries. At last this looked really tasty and fairly healthy. What more could I have asked for.
I couldn't wait to get home, unpack the shopping and try my new find. ( sad I Know )
I opened the box and tipped some on the cereal into a bowl. It looked great the usual clusters of wheat and barley and the Red berries, Rasberries, strawberries and cherries, even in their dried form it looked delicious. Then I added my semi skimmed milk and hey presto the berries resembled the fresh variety.
I must say that this is the tastiest cereal I have ever tried the sweetness of the berries really compliments the usual bland taste of the cereal. You can not only taste the difference of the berries but it tastes almost as good as fresh fruit.
I've not only enjoyed this for breakfast but often instead of lunch or tea. Its very filling. It certainly keeps those hunger pains at bay.
Useful info, I won't list all the ingredients.
Contains or may contain.
3 red berries, rasberries, strawberries and cherries, contains less than 3% fat.
This cereal was on offer at 2 for £2 at the time I bought it but I think the RRP is £1.99.
Worth it I think.
Thanks for reading.
Ultimate Banoffee pie
Its the time of year where I have a couple of weeks rest on my hands, and this is time that I find myself doing things that I don't usually get time for.
One of my passions in life is food, well lets face it we all enjoy it don't we.
I must admit that I have 2 favourite desserts, this is one the other being Tiramisu.
I cannot tell you how easy this is, but as you will find out when you have read my recipe, its easy peesy!
The best dessert in the world
Preparations time : 20 Mins
Chilling time : 1 and 1/2 hours
Serves 8/10 people - but less if you serve generous portions!
100g (3 1/2oz) butter, melted
250g ( 9oz ) digestive biscuits
For the caramel
100g ( 3 1/2oz ) butter
100g ( 3 1/2oz ) dark brown soft sugar
397g can of condensed milk
4 small bananas
Small carton of double cream, lightly whipped
Cocoa powder, for dusting.
8 inch ( 20cm ) loose bottomed cake tin, base lined and and greased.
Or a disposable tin foil base if you don't have a tin.
Now for the fun part.
To make the base
You can either put the digestive biscuits into a food processor to crush, or as I prefer place in a plastic bag and give it a good old whack with and rolling pin or anything hard, this is great fun!
Doing it my way saves washing the food processor and is far more enjoyable.
Mix the disgestive crumbs with the melted butter.
This doesn't take more than a few minutes, then press the mixture into the base and sides of the tin.
To make the filling
Place the sugar and butter into a non stick saucepan on a low heat, stir until they disolve. Carefully add the condensed milk and bring it gently to boil. Stir continuously to make the caramel. As soon as your mixture resembles caramel remove from the heat.
Spread the caramel over the biscuit base, allow this to cool. Then place in the fridge for about an hour until its nice and firm.
Just before you serve
Remove from the baking tin and place on a nice serving plate. Slice the bananas, and gently fold into the whipped cream. Spoon this over the caramel. Decorate with slices of the remaining banana and dust with cocoa powder.
Well just how easy was that?
This is the perfect dessert, especially for a summer evening when you've had a nice heathly salad and really crave something sweet.
This is such a lovely easy dessert to make, its so impressive and yet so easy.
Thanks for reading.
I hope that you try my favourite dessert and guarantee you will enjoy it.