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Sometimes you feel the munchies but just aren't sure what you would like. Well it was one of these occasions when I found Warburtons Fruit Loaf with Orange. I had rushed to work and not had breakfast and by 10 o'clock I was feeling really hungry. Someone offered me a slice of this bread and I tried it toasted with butter. It was really lovely . You can eat it without toasting but for me it is definitely best toasted with some butter. It has a lovely zesty taste, which obviously owes a lot to the orange content. It does seem a little pricey at over £1 for a small loaf but trust me, it is worth it. There is lots of sultanas and orange in it and two slices gives you one of your recommended daily five portions of fruit and vegetables. Warburtons is a well respected brand name and this is certainly an excellent product. I normally buy a loaf one a week, I usually split the loaf in half and freeze half so it stays fresh for me to have a slice or two every day and not waste any. The bread has 85 calories per slice but it is tempting to add a lot of butter which will put that up. The product is suitable for vegans.
I decided to write a review of this product as a warning to other people. Now as you can see from the other reviews for this product it is a fantastic oven cleaner. My husband has a very bad chest (50 years of smoking does that to you) and I have to be careful about cleaning products as lots of them affect his breathing. However, I do need help with the oven cleaning, not my favourite job and I don't do it often enough, so when I found Oven Pride I thought it was amazing. It has no strong smell which was great and it works. It comes in an orange box, costs between £3 and £4, inside the box you find a bottle of cleaning liquid, some gloves to protect you hands and a large plastic bag. This bag is quite strong plastic and seals at the top. You coat your oven with the liquid and pop you silver trays into the bag, pour liquid in, seal the bag and make sure the trays get covered in liquid. Now when I clean my oven I have always found the silver wire racks a real pain to clean but believe me if you leave them in the bag overnight in the morning you just rinse them in the sink and they are shiny clean, wipe the oven over and its all done. Great you say, so whats the warning? Well this stuff burns, hence the gloves. I used Oven Pride this week, I have used it several times before without a problem but this time I think my dog lay down in the kitchen near the oven and some of the cleaner dripped on her. She had her late night walk and went to her bed in the hall. When I saw her in the morning she had lost a large patch of fur and her skin looked sore. I put her in the bath and cleaned it all off and rushed to the vet. She is on painkillers and antibiotics and I think we just caught it in time. There is still a risk of some of the skin necrotising and she might need surgery if that happens. I don't blame Oven Pride, you are warned about the risk of burning on the box, it was an unfortunate accident but when I use it again she will be locked out of the kitchen. I just hope she is Okay, it has been expensive oven cleaning this time, £85 at the moment but if she needs surgery it will be £100's. As long as she is Okay I will be happy.
Last year my youngest son reached 16, on his long list of "suggestions" for presents was a new mobile. He had an old Nokia on PAYG so I thought it was time to get him a monthly contract and a new phone. By coincidence I got an advert with my Virgin credit card bill, a choice of several phones and 100 minutes and 100 texts a month for £10. He liked the look of a black Nokia 6300 so I made the call. Waited in for the phone to be delivered and nothing arrived!!!! Called Virgin to be told I had failed the credit check, well they could have contacted me instead of wasting a day of school holidays. After a bit of chat it turned out they had entered my birthday incorrectly and suddenly I could have a contract. Great. Waited in next day. No phone. Getting cross. Call customer service, order was too late previous day would definitely be with me next day. Following day the phone arrived. Great. Hang on the screen was cracked. Call customer service, I'm on first name terms with woman handling my order, apparently her boyfriend had just had the same phone and was really pleased with it, a bit of background information is always good. This all sounds a bit of a disaster, and to be fair that was how it felt, but to be fair to Virgin they gave me four months free rental so I ended up with new phone and 12 months of 100 free minutes and texts for £80 so pretty good deal in the end. His contract is up for renewal next month, he is happy with his phone so we aren't going to have a new phone and his contract will change to 200 free minutes and texts which is great as he is using the phone alot more now.
I am currently paying for four mobile contracts, one for teenager daugher, one for teenage son, one for husband and one for me. They are all with different services providers for various reasons which seemed to make sense at the time. My daughters phone is with Vodafone and having read alot of negative things about their customer service I thought I would let you know my experience. We signed up with Vodafone about three years ago, they were offering the best deal for the phone she wanted. The guy I spoke to in customer service was great, he talked me through all the options and I got the phone she wanted with quite a good package for £20. After 18 months in her careful hands (sorry for the sarcasm) the phone was not looking too good. I had to phone customer service and arrange a repair. The repair was going to take 2 to 3 weeks which as it was over the Christmas/New Year period was probably reasonable. However, I was a bit miffed as this meant over Christmas/New Year and her 18th birthday she would be without a mobile. Great. Explained my concern and they offered to give me a £10 per month discount for three months to cover cost of buying a cheap pay as you go phone to put her sim in. I thought this was an excellent offer. Last year she got a new phone but unfortunately she never really liked it. In September she went off to university and I thought it was time to review her package. On the phone I spoke to a really helpful guy and he suggested we add "Stop the Clock" to her package, this means after 6 and at weekends she could make calls for up to 60 minutes and only pay for three. Great, how much? He offered to add it to her package free. Fantastic. Well last month she was home for Easter, we phoned up to check when she could have a new phone, I thought it was October as we had started a new 18 month contract in April or May last year. They asked what she was looking for, I explained what she wanted and he suggested three phones. Said we could look at others if she didn't like these three but recommend the one he thought was best. She did some research, liked his suggestion and it arrived the following day. I can't grumble, I have had fantastic service and excellent value. Oh by the way she hasn't had any problems with the reception either. In case you wonder why she didn't sort out her own phone as I pay the bill they would only talk to me but when I spoke to them last time they made a note so that she can sort it out herself in future. I will be paying for her phone till she graduates as I want her to have a package where I know I can reach her. Yes I know neurotic mother but in my defence I have watched her flying through the air when she was hit by a car outside school and she did get meningitis in her first term at university so I think my neurosis is justified.
I love Cribbs Causeway, the shopping mall is very smart and the parking is fantastic, I have never had a problem finding a parking space. Surrounding the mall there are various stores, a cinema, large supermarket etc. It is situated close to junction 17 of the M5, near to Bristol, which is a fantastic location for me. You see I live in Devon and have family in Birmingham so when I am travelling between the two it is much better to stop off a Cribbs Causeway than to stop at a service station. The mall's opening hours are Monday to Friday 9.30am - 9.00pm Saturday 9.00am - 8.00pm Sunday 11.00am - 5.00pm Bank Holiday Mondays 10.00am - 6.00pm The selection of shops is excellent, John Lewis, Marks and Spencers, Gap, Baby Gap, W H Smiths, BHS, French Connection, Game, Dorothy Perkins and the list goes on with well over 100 shops on site. The food court is also excellent I like a Pizza from Pizza Hut or a gorgeous cake with a coffee from Druckers but there are several others to choose from if you prefer. If you are travelling down the M5 it is well worthy stopping to stretch your legs and have a break.
Chocolate is one of my favourite things but strangely enough I don't particularly like chocolate flavoured things like chocolate icecream or chocolate cake. I like a bar of chocolate and I particularly like it nice and cold from the fridge. My Favourite Chocolate It is hard to choose one as I have phases when I like a particular bar and after a few weeks I move on, eventually I get back to the beginning. So in no particular order here are my favourites. Cadbury's Flake - yes the yellow wrapper, the crumbly texture this is a definite winner for me. Fry's Chocolate Cream - rich dark chocolate with a creamy white filling. Completely different to a Flake but still a favourite. Cadbury's Whole Nut - well Cadbury's is always a winner for me and I always love nuts so this can't lose. Galaxy - the main rival to Cadbury's and this does have a lovely creamy texture. Milka - this is a bit unusual but every now and then I really fancy one of these - I think it is because it reminds me of holidays in France. I definitely can't be called a connoisseur, the upmarket expensive brands don't really do it for me, but when I need that sweet fix chocolate is my poison of choice.
I have been making a big effort to clear some credit card balances that have built up and over the past year I have taken advantage of some 0% interest rate offers. One of these was on Barclaycard. The application was done on line, quick and stratfordward, approval was fast and the card quickly arrived. I arranged a balance transfer from two existing cards and reckon I have saved almost £300 in interest over the year. My interest free offer is just coming to an end and I am moving to a 13.9% rate, which is alot better than many cards offer. I haven't spent any money on the card so my statement has gone down every month, which has been a really nice experience. Last month I had a bit of a Senior Citizen moment (not quite there but almost) and just forgot to make my payment. Checked online and I was two days late with a £12 fee. I decided to make an on line payment and phoned them two days later to check it had gone through OK. Lovely lady on customer service offered to waive my £12 fee, I didn't even have to ask. I have been very pleased with Barclaycard but I am hoping to pay off the balance and get rid of the card. Sorry Barclaycard.
Cadbury's Flake Cadbury's Flake has been around since 1920 so I think we can say it has been a success. It is Cadbury's milk chocolate but the flaky texture does give it a distinct flavour of its own. It is packaged in a yellow wrapper and is quite distinctive. You can buy individual bars, multi packs of 5 or bags of fun size bars (if you are like me you buy these to limit your intake of chocolate by having a little bar but the problem is you end up eating several so it doesn't really work.) You can buy an ice cream with a flake in and this is normally known as a 99, personally I wouldn't both with ice cream without the flake. Flake was advertised with a series of adverts with a Flake girl promoting the product. This caused some controversy in the 1970's when an advert was banned, apparently because of the suggestive way the girl bit into the Flake! I can't imagine what the censors were think of. If you like chocolate and you've never tried a Flake why not give it a go? Just be warned it is crumbly and you are likely to get bits of chocolate all over you.
Sainsburys So Organic Wholemeal bread 400 g for 99p Organic and wholemeal could conjure up a picture of the sort of healthy diet that is more about doing without the things we like than enjoying our food but the good news is that this bread is healthy, organic and tasty. My favourite way to enjoy it is with butter, cut into soldiers and served with a nice boiled egg. Absolutely gorgeous. I also like to eat it with jam or cheese. It is an ideal way to have a cheap healthy snack or the basis of a health sandwich. I do like to buy organic products but in the current economic climate, and with a family to feed, I can't always manage it but I do think this product is good value for an excellent product. This bread has a nice texture and a good flavour that doesn't overwhelm anything you are eating with it. You have probably guessed that this is my favourite bread and I would recommend it to you.
A blast from the past and it takes me back to childhood so that means it has been around since late 50s or early 60s and its still going strong. I know some people don't approve of this dessert as they think it is artificial with all sorts of additives but if you have a child who doesn't like milk or fruit then try making up a packet of Angel Delight and adding some fruit, the banana mix with a chopped banana is popular in my house or the strawberry mix with a couple of chopped strawberries. It is one way of getting some nutrition into them. The great thing about this product is it stores well, paper packet with long shelf life and all you need is some cold milk, quick whisk in a bowl and then put it into serving dishes and leave for five minutes. A packet costs about 47p, well that is the price in my local supermarket, and you mix it with half a pint of milk. They suggest it makes four servings but I think that is a bit optimistic, I would say it is more like two to three servings. There are quite alot of flavours to try including vanilla, strawberry, raspberry, banana, butterscotch and chocolate. I'm sure I have forgotten some but this gives you an idea of the range. One word of warning, if you use soya or rice milk don't use it with Angel Delight because it just doesn't work!
I had never played bingo before discovering cashback for signing up and playing. I have done this several times and got the cash back and a little bit of winnings. It got to the point that if I was bored I would have a game and I realised I was in danger of spending alot of money I couldn't afford. What to do? Well a little research led me to bingoport which is a free online bingo site. It is well organised; when you join you get free points to start you off and then you can gain points by: 1. Playing bingo or slots (and winning of course) 2. Posting on forums, you can earn 100 points for posting at least ten words in one of their forums. You can get a maximum of 1000 points a day this way. 3. The wicked wheel, this is a wheel you can spin if you have fewer than 200 points, you can spin three times and earn a few hundred points and sometimes more. You can do this up to four times per day. You can then spend your points playing bingo or on the slots. If you manage to save some points you can spend them on: A new avatar for 4000 points A tee shirt for 7000 points A cash transfer to one of several bingo sites worth from £5 to £10 for 5000 points A £5 Amazon voucher for 8000 points. The site is free and if you like bingo or slots you can have some fun and chat for free and maybe bag yourself a prize.
Visiting London can be an expensive business but lets face it a visit to the Capital is worth it. I found, quite accidentally, that staying in student accommodation is a really good value way to have a holiday. Now you might be picturing a grotty bedsit in a not very salubrious area but believe me you might be pleasantly surprised. Imperial College The first time I booked student accommodation I stayed in Halls of residence belonging to Imperial College. To be precise I stayed in Beit Hall, Prince Consort Road, South Kensington pretty well nextdoor to the Royal Albert Hall, close to Hyde Park and the Science museum so a great location if you have children. We had breakfast in the Senior Common Room which was very pleasant. The halls are an attractive old building but with excellent facilities. The bedroom was quite spacious with a nice en suite and comfortable twin beds. Queen Mary Situated in the East End just off the Mile End Road the Queen Mary's campus is a contrast to Imperial College. It is very modern and we stayed in an en suite room in a student flat, I think there were five bedrooms and a shared kitchen, which means you can save some cash and cook a meal rather than using restaurants all the time. The kitchen looked over the canal which was lit up at night and really lovely. The area round the campus is a bit um............ downmarket but there are some good restaurants close by and Mile End tube station is only a few minutes walk away. I haven't tried any of the other student accommodation but there is a lot available, LSE and UCL halls are also available. One obvious drawback is that these facilities are only available during university holidays but if the dates are suitable they are a very good value option to hotels. My visits were in 2007 and I paid about £20 per person for bed and breakfast which I thought was really good value.
Well what can I say? This was probably the worst experience I ever had in Birmingham. I checked on the internet and got a good deal, under £40 for two of us for the room, we didn't book breakfast. It seemed like a good idea as it was so central and conventient. We arrived at New St station and walked down the ramp to New Street and it was just across the road. It looked quite nice and the reception staff were friendly. So far so good. We went up to find our room and I can only say when we got to our floor the smell wasn't very nice. Well press on and we find our room. It looks nice, the bed is comfy and the en suite is clean and modern. The hotel has 214 rooms, all ensuite, and the room we had was large and well decorated. So what was my problem? Well I think we were over the kitchen and the noise was bad, you could hear men shouting and the bins crashing closed but the worst thing was a motor which I assume was for freezer or air conditioner. It was deafening. I hoped it might go quiet at some point but no it was like that all night. The hotel has a bar and restaurant but I didn't eat there so can't comment on the food. The menu looked quite nice but we went out to explore and had a meal in a local restaurant which was better value. The hotel is in a great location right in the middle of Birmingham. As I have already said it is just across the road from the station and you are surrounded by shops and close to the Pavillions and Bull Ring Shopping Centre. There is also a cinema just across the road. We checked out early and walked down New St to BHS where we had an excellent breakfast but that is another story. I wouldn't stay here again, I am not a good sleeper and a noisy room is my worst nightmare.
In larger branches of Sainsburys you can find their clothing range which is called Tu. My local store is not a very large branch so they stock quite a limited range of clothes but even so it does have a good range of basics. If you are looking for a pair of cheap jeans, the last pair I bought here was £8, good range of t shirts, mens shirts and childrens wear then Sainsburys is a good place to look. Good buys Over the last couple of years I have bought some real bargains. One of my favourites was a brown faux suede jacket with a big fur collar. I bought this in their sale and it cost me £15 and looks really expensive. I bought my husband a lovely fur lined zip up cardigan, I think that cost me nearly £20 but it is practical and smart so I'm not complaining. I think one of my best bargains was a babygro for halloween. It was a cut little devil outfit which I bought in November for 25p. I bought it for my grandson before he was born and the following year he had a great fancy dress outfit. In addition to end of season sales they often do money off days, typically 25% off weekends, so you can get some good buys for the current season. If you've never had a look at Sainsburys clothes I would say go and have a look, they are probably cheaper and more attractive that you think.
Digital television - I wasn't interested and when I found out I lived in one of the first areas to change I wasn't that impresssed. Background I understand the first switchover was in Wales in 2005, I think this was in the nature of an experiment to trial the whole process of switching off analogue and only transmitting in digital. Then Border Television started the change in 2007 and 2008 and completing it in June 2009. Now? Well the South West is going through the process now. In South Devon the first part of the change was 8th April with completion on 22nd April, the South West will be complete in September 2009 and Wales starts the switchover in August 2009. The process for the whole country will be completed in 2012. How has it been? Well lots of publicity, lots of offers from Sky for new customers and help offered to the elderly and disabled. If you don't want to go Sky or Freesat or buy a new TV you can buy a digibox from about £15. You will need a box for each TV. So last year we bought some digiboxes and I liked some of what was on offer. There is no subscription for the free channels so for a one off payment of £15 you get alot of new channels as well as the normal five, i.e. BBC1 BBC 2 ITV Channel 4 and Channel 5. The new channels include BBC3 and 4, some quite interesting programmes and repeats from BBC1 and 2. Channel 4 +1, this is Channel 4 programmes running one hour later, great if you want to watch something on say BBC1 and Channel 4 at the same time, simple just watch the BBC1 programme and then switch to Channel 4 +1. Voila. Lots of shopping channels, childrens channels like CBeebies, CITV, CBBC, MTV, news channels, More 4, Dave and Virgin. Some of it won't be to your taste but some will. Our big concern was that the signal was a bit iffy with some channels OK and others just breaking up. We were assured it would be all right on the night! 8th April Well we start off and BBC2 is gone from analogue with ITV in its place and the old ITV channel has nothing. Some of the digital channels have improved and some have got worse. 22nd April We are told to retune our digiboxes again, we already did them on the 8th, different places had different times during the day. Result, fantastic signal on all the new digital channels. How is it now? Well there is no going back but to be honest I wouldn't want to. We didn't need a new aerial and the digiboxes weren't expensive and for that we have a lot more choice. We even get digital radio on the TV now.