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Coca Cola, is there any thing like a nice crisp refreshing coke served in ice on a warm summers day or on holiday? The answer is simply no!
Coca Cola itself is a carbonated drink that is a dark caramel coloured. In terms of taste, it is very difficult to describe. The main thing you get is sweetness and there is no other cola drink that tastes quite the same - even its biggest competitor Pepsi doesn't have the same taste.
Unfortunately though, while the sweetness is the strongest, and most addictive taste, it is also the biggest reason not to drink it. Per 250ml, Coca Cola contains 26.5 grams of sugar which equates to about 50% of your recommended daily amount. What this means is that not only does it not help with weight control, but consuming too much of it can do some serious damage to your teeth. It is also worth noting that it contains a lot of caffeine so if heavily affected by this then stay away in the evening!
In terms of availability, you can buy Coca Cola in cans of 150ml & 335ml, 500ml plastic bottles, 1 litre bottles and 2 litre bottles. However, I personally think that the best taste comes from glass bottles of 330ml. It makes no sense but it seems to have a better taste!
The other thing about Coca Cola is that, with me and most of my friends, it lets you know when Christmas is coming! When you see that advert on TV of the big Coca Cola truck driving down the road and the music comes on ( Holidays are coming, holidays are coming....) it gives you a nice warm feeling inside!
Overall, I think that it has a great taste but there are some quite big negatives so its probably best to settle for its cheaper, less fun, less tasteful friend Diet Coke or Coke Zero. However, if you do go for it, you wont be disappointed!
After recently having a bad bought of food poisoning, my doctor recommended to me that a good thing to drink would be one of these "good bacteria" yoghurts and so I went for one on promotion which ended up being Danone Actimel with 0.1% fat (BOGOF at my local supermarket).
The bottles are about 4 inches tall and contain 100ml of probiotic yoghurt. Consuming it is simple, peel off the foil lid and drink! One of the better things about this particular drink is that it only contains 30 calories per bottle.
Now Danone do advertise that if you drink a bottle of Actimel every day for 2 weeks then you will begin to feel better in yourself but, from what I've heard, this tends to be hit or miss. A few people have come back and said that it makes a big difference but an equal number of people have said the opposite.
For me, I was recommended to use it by the doctor. He told me that when you are ill, you're body is full of bad bacteria and as you recover you need to replace this with good bacteria. After about a week I definitely began to notice a difference, my body was feeling a lot better. While of course this is also attributed to actually getting better, I did spend a week ill without drinking them and there was certainly a difference.
Flavour wise, there are 10 flavours available - Original, Blueberry, Cherry, Coconut, Multifruit, Orange, Raspberry, Strawberry and Vanilla. On top of that there are 4 fat free flavours - Original, Strawberry, Peach & Mango, and Raspberry.
Taste wise, I actually find these to be very nice. I have only tried the original one (both fat free and full fat) but would drink these as normal drinks if I could!
Should these be of interest to you, they can be found in the chilled section of the supermarket - funnily enough in or next to the yoghurt section.
I was an iPhone user and very proud of it! I managed to get my 3GS 16GB iPhone in February 2010 for free on a £35 / month contract and was happy that I had beaten the system to a certain extent!
Unfortunately, my contract came up for expiry and I was faced with a challenge - do I just continue with my contract and my perfectly fine 18 month old phone or do I get a new toy? No contest really!
So, next question, iPhone or not? If I do go with it then I would have to pay for a new phone (bleugh!) as well as an increased cost per month due to my excessive usage and the reduction of free data that comes with a new plan. Alternatively, I could make the dreaded move to Android and get a better phone for free, cheaper contract but I would have to sacrifice the magnitude of apps available from Apple. After much deliberation I went for the Android and then decided that the HTC Sensation would be the right phone for me. To be honest, one of the deciding factors was that I was able to send my old 3GS off to one of these recycling companies and get £150 for it!
So, why the HTC Sensation? Its simple really, its one of the best phones out there both technically and visually. I wont go too into detail about the specifications but its important to point out a few main ones:
- 4.3 inch touch screen
- Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS
- 1.2Ghz dual core processor
- 768MB RAM
- 126mm x 65mm x 11mm
- 8MP Camera with HD video capabilities.
Basically what the above means is that phone itself is REALLY fast. Im not that technically minded but I know that two processors is better than one! I also know that it is important to have high amounts of RAM which this does. It also has a 4.3 inch touch screen compared to the 3GS which was (I think) about 3.5 inches and this obviously means that the phone itself is bigger than the 3GS although it doesn't feel to bad. It has an 8MP camera with dual flash aswell which takes a very good picture. Finally, it has the latest version of Android - Gingerbread - which means it comes pre loaded with all the latest stuff!
Looking at the dimensions of the phone, it should measure up to be quite big yet somehow it manages to feel quite small. The phones weighs about 150g and has a very nice curvature around it which means it fits nicely in your hand. It is made of hardened plastic but apparently has elements of aluminium as well.
Looking at the front of the phone, you will see a nice 4.3 inch screen with 4 buttons at the bottom of the handset - home, menu, back and search. At the top of the phone you will find a video camera, speaker and a notification light.
On the left hand side of the phone you will find the micro usb slot used for charging and connecting up to the computer as well two big buttons for turning the volume up or down.
On the right hand side there is nothing to be seen.
On the top of the phone you will find the 3.5mm headphone jack as well as the sleep / power button.
As the Sensation is one of the first phones to roll out with Gingerbread it already brings it a step ahead of the competition. For those who are unaware, Gingerbread is Android's equivalent to iOS 5 from Apple. It is the latest operating system and of course brings with it some neat improvements over the previous one.
One of the first things you will notice on Gingerbread is that scrolling between the pages is in 3D as if each page is kind of rotating round an invisible tube. It looks pretty funky to be honest!
As well as this, you get the usual ability to add widgets onto your homescreen. For those unfamiliar with this, a widget is like a shortcut that you an interface with. For example, you can get a Facebook widget which will automatically update to show the latest activities.
However, my favourite thing is on the lock screen. Normally, a lock screen has nothing but the time on it or something and a slider to unlock the phone. The HTC Sensation has a large ring at the bottom of the screen which you need to slide up in order to unlock the phone. Just above these rings, you also get 4 shortcuts of your choosing which you can drag into the ring to open them up quickly - genius!
Nowadays, connectivity is a big thing in phones. The phone, of course, comes fully equipped with wi-fi and the speeds I have personally got have been excellent. Looking at independent tests, the speeds seem to compare favourably against other similar phones. As well as this you can also set up your own wi-fi hot spot for a PC to share your connection should you require it.
Connecting the phone up to the computer will also offer you more choices. You can either charge the phone via usb or letting you use its backup program called HTC Sync which works in a very similar way to iTunes in that it backs up your contacts, messages, etc should you lose your phone or transfer to a new one.
The phone does of course also have Bluetooth.
As per usual with what seems like almost every phone now, battery could be better! When I first got the phone I got about 8 hours of use out of it which was worrying. However, after 5 or 6 times of letting the battery die then fully charging it the battery is now lasting around 24 hours which is acceptable. Its also worth noting that charging time is quite high at about 3 hours. I have found that some of the free programs on the Android market do help though, in particular Juice Defender seems to be pretty good.
This is really the most important thing and I have actually found that it is one of the weakest areas of the phone. I would like to point out at this point that I do have a gel cover on my phone which may perhaps make a difference but I have found that if I am outside then I struggle to hear people and people often struggle to hear me.
The Sensation also offers you connection to HTC Sense which is an internet site which allows you to control your phone from wherever you are. Basically the idea is that you can never really loose it and if you do or it gets stolen then you can turn it off and even wipe it remotely.
Although it sounds somewhat useless, its useful for times when you leave your phone at home and are able to log into the website and divert your calls
- Internal memory is 1GB which compared to the likes of an iPhone is pretty poor. It does come with an 8GB memory card which does help though.
- You can download Google Navigation which is a free sat nav and works brilliantly!
- The Search button on the front of the phone is really handy and searches depending on where you are so if, for example, you are on the home screen, Search will look through the phone or onto Google. If you go on to the Android market, the search only searches on here - very handy!
- The screen itself looks amazing - it is bright and crisp and watching movies on it makes you realise just how amazing it is.
I am on O2 who gave me the phone for free as well as 300 mins, unlimited texts and 1GB internet for £31 month on a 24 month contract. For £30 per month, Three will give you more texts and minutes but I don't use that many plus who really wants to be on the Three network?!
I love the phone! In terms of a comparison with my old 3GS there isn't one but then again these phones are 2 years apart so you would expect a big difference. I am so glad I got this phone and, even though the choice of apps isn't as big as Apple's, would make the same choice over and over again.
Angry Birds is right up there as one of the most addictive games around. To be honest, it isn't my favourite but there is something about it which makes you come back and play it!
The idea of the game is quite simple. You have birds and you have pigs. They are rivals because the pigs keep stealing the birds egg (as they do). You have to catapult the birds in the direction of the pigs in order to defeat them. There are various levels and each one is different as you need to take a new approach to getting those darn pigs! The birds themselves also differ in that there are varying kinds and they all have a different use and benefit (such as an exploding bird or one that breaks into 3 smaller ones).
Generally speaking getting the better of the pigs is not too difficult but the part that gets addictive is trying to get the best score. When you complete each level you are given upto 3 stars which dictate how well you have done in terms of the number of points received. In order to get more points you need to destroy more of the environment using less pigs. This is where the frustration and addiction are.
Visually the game is quite nice looking - I recently changed phones and got a more recent one and realised that a proper phone will do the game a lot of justice. Images are clear and sharp and are movement is always fluid.
Its quite easy to see why this game is so additive and why its one of the best selling games. If you're on Android then the games (as well as the newer versions - Angry Birds Rio and Angry Birds Seasons) are free but if on Apple then you have to pay for them but its totally worth it!!
One of the first players in the energy drink market was Red Bull. It was created back in the 80's in Austria and is currently the most popular energy drink around although other energy drinks like Monster are starting to creep up in terms of popularity.
Red Bull markets itself as an energy drink and its slogan of "Red Bull gives you wings" is clearly targeted at telling people that it will re-energise you.
The packaging is nothing spectacular - the tall thin 250ml cans are decorated with dark blue (or light blue in the case of the sugar free version) and white and has a bull in the middle. On the back of the can is all the usual nutritional information.
Once you open the can you are given a clear indication of what the drink is going to be like - you are presented with a very sweet smell with hints of citrus. It's a funny smell to be honest and it doesn't get much better when you pour the drink out into a can and realise that the liquid is this kind of metallic wee colour and the sweet smell gets stronger.
Once you taste it though you realise just how sweet the drink is! That is the one most potent taste and, to be honest, its certainly not a bad taste but it's just very strong. The general flavour is very hard to describe but it seems to be something that people either love or hate.
Generally, there are 2 reasons why people drink Red Bull. Firstly, they use it as a mixer in drinks. Because the taste is so strong, it easily overpowers any spirits that its mixed with. Secondly, and most commonly, Red Bull has a silly amount of caffeine in it so it is used to keep people awake in the same way that coffee does.
I have personally never been affected by caffeine so whenever I drink Red Bull it is often just because I like the drink but I know people who have had a Red Bull at 8pm and not been able to go to sleep till 3am!
The other thing to remember with Red Bull is that the sheer amount of sugar in them means that it is not a particularly good drink health wise. There is a sugar free alternative but I find that doesn't taste any where near as good as the proper one
The cider market has certainly been growing over the last few years but certainly one of the first players in this market was Strongbow which (along with Blackthorn) are right up there with my first memories of drinking cider.
Strongbow itself is quite a cheap cider and is served in a very wide variety of pubs and bars. Price wise, it is normally priced at around the same as a beer (this can obviously vary from place to place) so is not too unreasonable. If you were to buy this in the supermarket it is far cheaper and you get different choices for consumption - can, bottle or 2 litre plastic bottle. Of course the best value is the larger 2litre one which normally costs about the £3 mark.
Taste wise, Strongbow is quite a dry cider and I wouldn't class it as thirst quenching but instead refreshing which is in fact what their recent advertising campaign's would suggest (for those of you who haven't seen them they often involves people doing hard work like carrying a sofa up 10 flights of stairs in the knowledge that waiting for them when they finish is a cool crisp Strongbow). You get a hint of bitterness in the taste and a strong taste of apples.
Although it is a nice drink, it is certainly not one that I could solely drink on a night out as it can get a bit sickly. However, if you do decide to go down this route then I would recommend a dash of blackcurrant as this gives it a slightly sweeter taste.
Would I recommend it? Probably but only if there are not many other ciders available. It is certainly not the best cider around (and definitely not the worst) but on a summers day a pint or two can certainly leave you feeling refreshed.
Of course, there are the usual associations with teenagers drinking cider in the park and more often than not it is Strongbow that they are drinking but don't let that put you off, give it a go!
Many moons ago I stumbled across Rekorderlig cider in my local supermarket and purchased a couple of bottles as they looked quite funky in terms of flavour and also were on special offer because they were new and were dirt cheap. Now, to be honest I was expecting some kind of White Lightening equivalent but how wrong I was!
The bottle itself is a dark brown bottle with a white label that has a black background. On the label is a picture of some strawberries and limes (shocking!) on the top and the name "Rekorderlig" as well as the flavour on the front. Pretty standard stuff really.
Once you open the bottle you are presented with a very sweet smelling drink that reminds you of strawberries.
Once you pour the drink you realise that it is a pinky colour which I guess is supposed to be the same as strawberry's but fails miserably and an even stronger smell of strawberries. All in all it doesn't look that great and the smell can put you off before you even have your first sip.
However, it is only when you have your first sip that you can really appreciate the wonder that is this drink! As the first drop hits your tongue you are instantly struck by the crisp, sweet strawberry taste which only gets better with every sip. Your tastebuds tingle at the refreshing lime after taste that is left as the drink cools your throat on the way down and leaves you excited about your next sip.
The only way to improve the taste of this drink is to serve it over ice on a warm summers evening and for that extra touch even put in a few strawberries and a slice of lime as I found out when I realised they served it at my local bar.
Over the past year or so, the popularity of Rekorderlig has increased in a big way. More and more pubs and bars are starting to sell Rekorderlig and the Strawberry & lime flavour seems to be one of the more popular ones. I have even seen Rekorderlig tents / vans at certain events.
The only thing that may well put you off is the price. On that occasion I paid something stupid like £1 for a 500ml bottle and I think nowadays you can pick them up for about £2 - £3. However, when I buy it from my local pub it normally sets me back about £5 which puts a lot of people off.
For me, this is certainly one of my favourite drinks. Rekorderlig do other flavours but none of them quite match up to the taste of this one. Basically, if you like cider and / or you like things that are sweet then I would be very surprised if you don't like this.
My O2 is the latest in a long line of "handy apps."
The basic premise of the app is very simple - you can see the details about your contract including minutes used, text messages used and data charges.
This app was released a few years ago and I think that it was rushed out because it just never had the right functionality and kept crashing. On top of that, O2 didn't release an update for months so it was actually a pretty rubbish app. It also didn't show you the data usage which, especially nowadays, is something that you need to be aware of if, like me, you stream music and tv to your phone thus causing you to get extremely close to your data limit each month.
Thankfully, O2 started releasing updates and now the app is great.
When you first register you need to put in a few basic details about your contract so you can register as well as setting up a passcode. This passcode is all that is needed to log in after registration making it very quick and easy.
The very first tab on the app shows your allowances much like it does on their website if you log in. You are presented with your minute and text allowance as well as how much you have left. This is also shown using a kind of petrol gauge that is pretty useless!
You can also see your data allowances and recent charges. However, your recent call charges are only summarised into categories such as data, voice and text and are not itemised.
There is also a data usage button that takes you to another screen which shows your minute and text allowance (again!) as well as how much data you have used.
The second tab takes you to your tariff and gives details of your current tariff such as the duration, the renewal date, any bolt-ons you may have and details of the charges on your calling plan.
The third tab shows information about your bill such as the last bill amount, date and when your next bill is due.
The final tab offers you a help section as well as the option to sign out of "My O2."
Now that they have updated the app, it is so much more user friendly and does exactly what it should. It is certainly a very handy app which lets you keep an eye on your account.
Shazam is, quite simply, in my opinion one of the best apps available!
The premise behind Shazam is very simple. Hear a song you like, "Shazam" it and it tells you the name of the song and the artist. Even better than that it works, every time!!
The way it works is easy. If you are somewhere with music and you hear a song that you like but don't know who sings it, then all you need to do is to open up the app, tap the screen and then the sound is analysed and the song is found. Shazam then presents you with the name of the song, the artist and even the front cover of the album its taken from. It takes no more than 30 seconds from you starting the app to you knowing the name of the song you're listening to.
Once the song has been identified then it is stored along with all of your other tags. With each tag you can go into more depth about the song as well. You can get a 30 second clip (in case you've forgotten what it sounds like), a list of tour dates, recommendations similar to that one and it can play the song in Spotify (if you have it) or download it on iTunes.
You get two choices of Shazam available, a free one and a paid one which cost £3.49. The difference between the two are that with the free one you get 5 tags per month but you don't get things like recommendations or play in Spotify.
In terms of tags, in the dozens of times I have used this app, it has only not been able to identify no more than 5 songs which is pretty impressive.
Like I said, this app is great. Not because you will use it everyday or that it will enrich your life but because the app is really useful and it actually works!
Its always the way that the most addictive games on a mobile device are the simple ones - take snake for example, who'd have thought that guiding a line round the screen picking up objects could prove to be so popular?!
Now Plants vs Zombie's isn't as simple as snake but its certainly not complicated.
The whole point of the game is that you take the side of the plants and your sole aim is to stop the zombie's eating your brains out!
The game is set in a couple of locations around your home such as your back garden and your roof where, on one side, is a way of entry to your house and at the end are various zombie's who will do their best to get into your house.
In order to stop these zombie's from entering your house you need to use various plants that are at your disposal in order to fend them off. These come in various shapes and sizes and have varying effects. For example, you can get a gattling gun pea shooter which shoots pea's at a quick pace in order to get rid of the zombie's earlier or alternatively you can use a rock which acts as a barrier which the zombie's need to get past before getting to your house.
There are about 40 levels or so in the main game but there are also mini-games which can be purchased using money obtained by killing the zombie's. There are also various unlockables that be bought that would make your battle easier.
Actually playing the game is very simple indeed. Before you start each level you can choose a number of plants that you feel are best to survive the level. Now the actual battle area is broken down into blocks and each of your plants takes up one block so you just pick you plant by pressing it and place it into a block. However, it isn't that easy because in order to plant stuff you need to have sunshine which can only be produced by certain plants so you need to wait for enough sunshine to be produced before you can plant some plants.
In terms of variety, the game is lacking ever so slightly so. In reality there are only a few different areas where you have to defeat the zombie's but because you play them under daylight and night time then you have to use a different set of plants which makes it feel like 2 different levels.
In terms of zombie's, these can be quite animated an amusing. You get the usual slow moving ones which are the simple ones but you also get novelty ones like ones that move like Michael Jackson or ones dressed up as American Football players. Each ones of these varieties provides a new and different challenge.
Visually, the game looks ok. It's certainly not designed to be the kind of game which makes you look at it in amazement but the plants and zombie's are well drawn and the game looks nice.
The one problem with this game though is that it can get quite repetitive because once you find a method that works then you can apply this method to most levels and find yourself a winning formula. Having said this though, it doesn't make it any less satisfying to beat each level.
The game itself costs £1.79 and, to be honest, is totally worth it. The game is extremely addictive and even completing it wont stop you playing and completing the whole thing another half a dozen times. I would definately recommend that anyone who has an iPhone and hasn't played this should download it asap!
The East Coast is the name for the company running the route that connects London Kings Cross and Edinburgh with various stops in between. It was formally know as Great North Eastern Railways (GNER) but that went under and was taken over by National Express which also subsequently went under leaving us with East Coast.
Despite all the various owners, that's about the only thing that has changed. The service has remained pretty bad throughout and delays are a common occurrence
So first things first, fares. As with most operators, the later you leave it to buy your fare, the more expensive it is. It is also more expensive if you buy it at the ticket office at the station as opposed to online. Saying that, when I say online, I mean from a third party website like the train line as they are much cheaper. As an example, I recently went to Newcastle for the weekend (up on Friday and back down on Sunday) and looked at the East Coast website for trains. I was travelling about 2 months later so was hoping to get good tickets. Looking at the East Coast website I was looking at paying around £120 for 2 single's as this was the cheapest method available. I then had a look on the Train Line and exactly the same tickets were available for less than £50. Needless to say I got my tickets from there. It is worth noting that these tickets I got are very strict and only allow you to get on one train and there is no flexibility or refunds.
Once I got to the station I was greeted by the usual delays that are experienced more often than not although this one was only 10 minutes so it could have been worse. Once I boarded the train I made my way to my seat reservation which, when I booked my ticket, I had asked for a table and a power socket nearby and this was indeed the case.
In terms of the actual look of the trains, the best word to describe it is dated. The trains aren't spotlessly clean but they are to an acceptable standard but the seats look worn and the general feeling you get when you sit on the trains is that it needs a bit of looking after.
Once the journey started I was happily sat there with my computer plugged in ready to do a bit of internet browsing in order to kill some time. However, East Coast have now put a cap on free internet usage to 15 minutes which is one of the most frustrating things I have seen. If you wish to use it for longer you have to pay £5 for an hour or £10 for 24 hours. However, if you are in first class then wi-fi is completely free.
So, as the train moved across the country everything else was pretty much ok. You get the usual snack cart coming through the train selling various items as well as a buffet card. Both of which charge more than you'd like to pay for what they are selling but it could be worse.
To be fair, the trip upto Newcastle wasn't too bad. It could have been better but could also have been a lot worse.
However, it was the journey back down on the Sunday which was most frustrating. When I got to the train station I found that the train was on time (great!). However, upon entering the train I was greeted with an announcement from the conductor that due to a mix of a lack of crew, earlier trains being delayed and engineering works, this particular train had no seat reservations, no wi-fi at all, and you could not buy any food on board until we got to our first stop about 30 minutes away. Unfortunately this is not too uncommon on a Sunday. I used to make monthly trips to Leeds and come back on a Sunday and always used to face the same problem. That means that this problem has been going on for years and still they do nothing about it!
So before we even set off the journey home was already going to be painful and this was not helped but the engineering works affecting our journey which meant we arrived in London 30 minutes late.
Despite all the annoyances, the only good thing that has been consistent on the train line is the staff. While you do get a few power hungry ticket inspectors, the majority of people are very helpful and polite. The problem is that there is often nothing they can do!
My biggest problem with the trains and this has been consistent throughout the various owners, is that the tickets are a fortune and the quality of the trains and the overall service provided doesn't justify the massive price tag.
So overall, what can I say? In my opinion East Coast aren't very good at all but then again the only real alternative is to drive so I guess it's a case of like it or lump it!
We flew to Los Angeles and Las Vegas with Virgin Holidays a while ago and, in contrast to a lot of other reviews, found the whole service to be excellent.
It all started when we went to see one of their representatives in the local department store. The lady we spoke to was very nice and talked us through all the different options available in terms of locations and flights. We went away with a good quote but wanted to do a bit of research about the hotels so we took her email address and telephone number.
Once we got home we looked at the booking and reviews of the hotel and weren't completely happy with them so called her up the next day and made a few changes here and there until we got a quote we were happy with. The Virgin rep also mentioned to us what the date was that the peak season finished and if we went after that date the cost would be a lot less.
After a bit of communication and negotiating, we finally agreed on a price and booked our holiday and were told when to expect the documents and tickets and other related items.
Sure enough, we received everything when we were supposed to and there were no problems.
Once the holiday came around things couldn't have gone more smoothly, there were no problems checking in at the airport and everything was exactly as arranged.
Once we landed in LA, we were even greeted by a Virgin rep who was very polite and welcomed us to LA and gave us a few details about local tips as well as a list of possible excursions and her telephone number in case there were any problems.
We had hired a car as part of our holiday and this was absolutely fine. They were able to find our booking without a problem. The only issue we had here was that after a long flight and waiting in the queue for the car for about an hour, we were quite tired and didn't realise that the car company automatically added like a breakdown cover of $5 per day which we only realised when we got back to the UK and were presented with a bill showing these additional charges. However, this was not Virgin's fault.
Once we got to the hotel there were again no problems. Our booking was found and we were checked in very quickly. During our stay in LA we were even called by the Virgin rep to check that everything went ok and if there was anything they could do for us.
The second part of our holiday was in Las Vegas and after driving over there we, again, found that there were no problems with our reservation at the hotel and within half an hour of being in our room we got a phone call from the Virgin rep in Las Vegas to invite us to a welcome session at Planet Hollywood the next day.
We went to this session which consisted of us getting a free breakfast while the rep welcomed us and told us about the different parts of Vegas and offered us any excursions we may want. In the end we decided on getting a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon and this was all booked very easily and we were told about the pick up times and given information about the excursion which ended up going perfectly (other than my fear of heights which I had to quickly get over!!)
As I said earlier, once we returned to the UK we were presented with a larger than expected bill for the car rental so called Virgin who chased up the booking and explained what each of the charges were.
Overall, we couldn't have been happier with the service received. Everyone was very nice and everything was organised as it should have been. I would definitely recommend it!
When DAB radio's first came out they were 2 things - expensive and looked old (not like rusty but the vintage look). Luckily nowadays, at least one of those has changed - it looks more modern!
The pure classic one is a fairly modern looking radio that is made from a shiny black plastic with silver buttons and dials on it and a headphone jack. It has various buttons and a click wheel on the front as well as a speaker and a display that shows the radio station and the current track info. The radio is also available in white or pink. Its certainly not going to win any awards for its looks but its now styled so it can fit in with most rooms.
There are a few buttons on top of the radio which controls things like volume, DAB / FM, presets, menu, stations and info.
Setting up the radio is extremely easy. Once you turn it on then it autoscans the stations available in the area and stores them in the radio. Simples!
Actually using the radio is quite simple. You basically choose the action you want to take and use the dial to action it. So, for example, if you want to change stations, you would press the "Stations" or "Presets" and use the dial to find the particular station you want and click to select it. The same goes for the volume.
The radio also has two features which sound very cool - Intellitext and textSCAN. Intellitext gives you access to DAB extended text broadcasts such as the latest sports news and the latest headlines. The way it works is that the broadcaster is supposed to send messages which come up as scrolling text for you to read. To be honest, I have never seen this feature in use and even if I did, I'm unlikely to be staring at the screen on the radio for 5 minutes to find out the latest headlines!
TextSCAN is a feature that basically allows you to pause the text on the screen if you want to note down the name of the track or something - again something I have never used!
Sound wise I can have no complaints. It wont set the world alight but it is perfectly fine and good considering the price.
Reception is also very good. Unfortunately I believe our home is lead lined so despite living in a busy town we get poor mobile, TV and radio signal. However, the radio sits in the kitchen with the aerial outside the window and it works perfectly. Each station is clear never breaks up or anything.
The radio also has a USB slot which, foolishly, I thought it meant that it could play mp3 files from a memory stick but in fact it is used if you want to update the firmware - I have had the radio for nearly a year and haven't needed to do this!
My only niggle is that within a month or so of having it, the dial sticks slightly but this hasn't got any worse and was never really bad enough to warrant the hassle of returning it.
For me, this little DAB radio is perfect for what it is needed for. It sits in the kitchen for me and my partner to use when we are cooking dinner and the only real use it gets it switching between stations and adjusting the volume. If this suits you then this is perfect and if this isn't what you want to do with it then I still think this is a good radio! Its priced at around £50 which is a lot for a radio but not too bad for a DAB.
Like many people, me and the Mrs have a nice little jar that we use for all our old shrapnel - basically anything 10p or less! When our jar reaches the top we have two choices - we either spend hours on end bagging up each of the different coins or we take the jar to the local supermarket where we can use the marvellous Coinstar machines!
The process is, shockingly, pretty straight forward. You take your jar (or whatever) full of money and dump it all in the machine! There is a metal tray that you need to pour your money into and then tip up so that the money falls through a slot and is then counted by the machine. You need to be careful though so that you don't overfill the tray as the money wont fall through easily.
As the coins go through the machine the screen gives a running total of how much money you have. If there are any coins that are not able to be read (for example if they are very dirty or non English money) then the machine throws then out below ready for you to try again if you can.
Once all your money is counted, the machine simply prints out a slip of paper which you then take to the customer services counter and they give you the money but in (hopefully) note form this time! You are also given the choice to give the money to charity but I am too much of a scrooge to do that!!
The only problem with the coinstar is the commission taken which is 8.9p per pound but to be honest it is worth it for saving you the hassle of having to bag them all up and take them to the bank.
Overall, very easy to use and saves you a lot of hassle compared to doing it at the bank. Ok, it takes a lot of commission but its still worth it!!
I drive to work which means that, on the way to and from work, the majority of radio stations are filled with people talking about random stuff that I don't really care about. On the odd occasion you do get a bit of music, but for every 3 minute song there is 5 minutes of talking.
Because my car isn't fancy enough to have an ipod dock or connection, I had to do things the hard way. I first bought a Belkin radio transmitter about a year ago which needed to be plugged into the headphone jack of my iphone as well as the power socket in the car. This wasn't too much hassle but the problem was that it was rubbish! It would keep cutting out every 2 minutes and generally didn't work!
For those of you who aren't familiar with one of these, they are basically transmitters that plug into your iphone and transmit the sound over radio waves to a particular frequency of your choosing. All you need to do is find a frequency using the car radio that is not attached to a radio station (often the range of 87MHz - 90MHZ works perfectly), plug in the adapter, choose the same frequency as the radio, press play and away you go.
So, a few weeks ago I decided to have a look online and came across this marvellous creation. It works in exactly the same way as the Belkin one but actually does what it is supposed to! Instead of a lot of wires, this one is just a small transmitter which is about as wide as an iphone and about 3cm long which plugs into the phone where the charger would normally plug into. It is black in colour, has a small screen and 2 buttons that change the frequency up or down.
Within the package you also get a small charger which can be plugged into the power socket in the car and into the adapter. This will charge up your iphone if required but to be honest I have never used it. It also comes with instructions but, to be honest, these are really not required as it really is very simple.
The other great thing about the transmitter is that it works with pretty much all ipods iphones so if you have an apple product, this is likely to work with it!
There are only 2 problems I have found, which I suspect is applicable for all devices that act as a transmitter. First is that the transmitter needs to be quite close to the radio - mine is by the hand brake and works fine but if it is moved to the back of the car then the signal looses strength. The other is that as you drive though various areas of the country, your chosen frequency may actually be taken up by a radio station and you may need to retune the transmitter. Not big problems really!
Overall, I am really glad I got this. I was very dubious after my initial problems with the Belkin transmitter but would definitely recommend this one. It cost about £10 and was money very well spent.