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newholgate

newholgate
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Member since: 28.09.2004

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    • Red Wine in General / Wine / 18 Readings / 14 Ratings
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      18.10.2004 23:36
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      Kumala Zenith Vintage 2003
      --------------------------------

      I’m sat in my lounge with my husband, sharing a bottle of Kumala Zenith Red Wine. I’ve just poured the last two glasses and felt rather disappointed that there is none left. This is because it tastes lovely. Yes, that’s the truth, so stop saying “It’s really because you are an alcoholic!”

      We bought two bottles of this wine at TESCO for £3.99 each. I whipped them of the shelf really quick as they were on offer; reduced from £7.99. That’s right, they were HALF PRICE!!! I love a bargain, and what a bargain they were. 75cl and 14% Vol. “the stronger the better”, that’s what I say; you might as well get your money’s-worth out of it!

      Both bottles were from the vintage 2003 grape. Kumala Zenith is actually a combination of three grapes; Merlot, Pinotage and Shiraz (this is obviously what makes it taste so nice). It is a South African Wine (Western Cape) and is described in the following way on the label:

      “Zenith red wine offers soft, fruity red berry flavours with a rich, lingering finish. Perfect for just relaxing and also an ideal accompaniment to red meat dishes, BBQ’s and rich pasta dishes. Enjoy in moderation”.

      I can vouch for that description as being 100% spot on, apart for the last bit, “Enjoy in moderation”, yeah, right! I’m going back to TESCO tomorrow to buy more while it’s on offer. I just hope you don’t beat me there and empty the shelves!

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        13.10.2004 19:25
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        Le Meridien Mina Seyahi, Dubai
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        There are several Le Meridien Hotels in Dubai, but we found the Mina Seyahi on Jumeriah Beach to be one of the best. We stayed there for the first week of our honeymoon in the summer of 2002.

        Le Meridien Mina Seyahi is a relatively new 5 * hotel about 30 minutes drive outside of the city centre of Dubai. It stands on the shores of the Arabian Gulf beside the magnificent Jumeriah Beach. The hotel is part of the new international marina complex, which is located adjacent to the hotel on the left hand side. To the right of the hotel is the new Palm Island development; a man-made peninsula stretching out to sea, made of sand, in the shape of a palm tree. It is a modern complex of houses and apartments and is one of the few man-made structures on earth, which is visible from the moon.

        The hotel has all the usual Le Meridien facilities, including a seafood restaurant, an a la carte restaurant, Ciro’s International Italian Restaurant, gift shops, hair and beauty salon, car rental facilities, 24 hour reception with multi-lingual staff, the Penguin Club for children over 3 years, beautiful landscaped gardens, a poolside bar and restaurant, a fabulous infinity pool (You can’t enter the lobby/reception area in swimwear. You have to take the lift to the basement to gain access to the gardens and pool if you are in your swimwear), children’s pool, lifeguard, Jacuzzi, direct access to the beach, tennis courts, Watersports and fantastic accommodation.

        There are 7 room categories, starting with ‘Deluxe sea-facing rooms’ with spectacular sea views and a balcony. ‘Deluxe land-facing rooms’ have the same facilities as the sea-facing rooms, but face the marina instead. Also, they don’t have a balcony. ‘Royal Club Sea View rooms’ have fantastic sea views, a balcony and are much larger than deluxe rooms and also have more facilities. They also have access to the Royal Club lounge, with butler service and continental breakfast. ‘Royal Club Land View rooms’ are the same as the Royal Club Sea View rooms but don’t have a balcony and face the marina. The ‘Royal Suite’ is a large two bedroomed suite with its own private lounge and large terrace. ‘Deluxe Royal Club rooms’ have all the facilities of the other Royal Club rooms but have views of the sea and the marina.

        Facilities in the rooms include some or all of the following, depending on the room category: 24-hour room service, air conditioning, alarm clock (on TV), bath and separate showers (Executive Rooms), bathrobe and slippers, complimentary newspapers, computer data port (via telephone), CD player (Executive Rooms), free nightly shoe-shine (on request), fresh fruit (for VIPs arrival), full-length mirror, hairdryer, disabled facilities, high-speed Internet access (in Business Centre), international direct dial telephone, interconnecting rooms, iron and ironing board (available from housekeeping), laundry service, minibar, remote-controlled cable television, safety deposit box, satellite television, smoke detectors, sprinkler system, stereo/Hi-Fi/CD player, turndown service, umbrellas (don’t understand why you need these in Dubai!), voicemail and a wake up call daily. For anyone going there on business, the hotel does have a business and conference centre.

        Le Meriden have a rewards programme known as ‘Moments’. Customers can collect points for money they spend with Le Meridien on accommodation, food, beverages and other extras. Points can then be redeemed to use against the cost of future stays at Le Meridien properties. We built up quite a lot of points at this hotel, but intend to continue saving them until we have enough to pay for a weekend break at a Le Meridien hotel.

        This hotel has a luxury feel and a touch of quality about it. It is very modern and no corners have been cut in its design, building or furnishing. The service is truly first class. This hotel is thought of as among the best in Dubai. It’s easy to see why when you go there!


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          13.10.2004 13:56
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          Vakarufalhi, or Vakaru as it is more commonly known, is a tiny Maldivian island situated in the South Ari Atoll. It is almost circular in shape and measures about 250 metres in diameter. There is a well-known saying on Vakaru, “No news, no shoes” and that exactly what it is like.

          We spent week three of our four week honeymoon on Vakaru. We spent week one in Dubai, with a few days touring the UAE and moved on to the Maldives for the following three weeks. Our time in the Maldives should have been spent entirely on the island of Meerufenfushi (or Meeru) in the North Male Atoll. In the middle of our first week on Meeru, a notice went up in reception offering a limited number of guests the chance to transfer to either Velavaru Island or Vakarufalhi Island, which were part of the same hotel chain. The deal was that you transferred and no extra cost for the remaining duration of your holiday. This sounded so tempting, but we had thoroughly researched our honeymoon destinations and had fallen in love with Meeru. We had a fantastic water bungalow, which we didn’t want to give up. However, the thought of trying a different island was still on our minds. Meeru was one of the largest islands in the Maldives and was lively by Maldivian standards. It had plenty of facilities and stunning tropical surroundings. A day or two later, we were walking through reception when we noticed a change to the details for the transfer to Vakaru. If you had longer than a week of your holiday left, you could transfer to Vakaru for one week then come back to Meeru for the remainder of your holiday. This sounded ideal. We could sample a different island and it didn’t matter if we didn’t like it as much as Meeru because we would still get to spend the last week of our honeymoon back on Meeru. We put our names down straight away!

          At the end of our first week on Meeru, we made the 45-minute speedboat trip back to the international airport near the capital, Male. On arrival, we were taken to the seaplane terminal where we caught our flight to Vakaru. That 35-minute transfer was the most breathtaking flight ever. We flew over the most beautiful coral reefs, atolls and lush islands. The plane landed in the middle of the sea and docked against a pontoon where donhi boats waited to take guests to their chosen islands in the South Ari Atoll.

          It only took about 15 minutes to get to Vakaru from the pontoon. The donhi boat docked at the end of the pier and we began our walk onto the most tiny paradise island we had ever seen. On arriving in reception we immediately felt a million miles from anywhere. The pace of life on Vakaru perfectly defined the phrase “laid back”. It almost made Meeru seem as lively as the Spanish Costa’s by comparison! From that point onwards we didn’t wear shoes again for the rest of the week. The only people we saw were the waiters in the bar and restaurant and occasionally, there would be someone else in the restaurant at the same time as us (the food was fabulous, the chef was of 5* international class), plus the few who went on the two excursions that we booked up for. There was no TV and we didn’t see a newspaper all week. It was almost as though we were the only people on earth. I had always imagined that on an island of that size and in those circumstances, I would feel completely trapped, isolated, bored and lonely. However, I discovered a whole new side to myself. It was the most relaxing experience of my life. Never before and never again since then have I been able to sit without a single worry in the world. I somehow felt closer to nature and really at peace. My husband and I would sit on the beach, looking out at the stunning coral reef. Occasionally, a donhi boat would pass on the horizon. Dolphins would come very close into the shore and would stay there if we got into the sea with them. Tropical fish would swim with us and follow us. Stingray and reef sharks (which are only about 2 feet long) would come up for a close look at us. And all the while, there was nobody else in sight. We would walk all the way around the island, a task that took 10 minutes if we did it at normal walking pace or 20 minutes if we simply strolled. We would walk to the bar for a few drinks and the bar man and waiter were the only other people there. Lively activities on Vakaru consisted of going diving of snorkelling, playing board games, reading, playing cards, and the ultimate in a lively night out was crab racing!

          It is illegal in the Maldives to gamble, so the rules for crab racing were that you bought your crab in an auction and paid in beers, which were charged to your room bill. If your crab won the race, you won the number of beers that everyone else had bought their crabs with. E.g. you might buy your crab for 5 beers. Another contestant may buy their crab for 7 beers, and another for 4 beers (faster crabs tend to be worth more beers!). If your crab won, you would win 16 beers and the other two contestants would foot the bill.

          We went on a couple of excursions from Vakaru. The first was to Dhangethi, a local inhabited island. The second was a sunset cruise to see dolphins. We counted 42 dolphins on that trip! Towards the end of the week on Vakaru, we decided that we would like to stay on in Vakaru for the final week of our honeymoon, rather than returning to Meeru. However, the resort was fully booked for the following week so we had to make the donhi, seaplane and speedboat transfer back to Meeru and leave our tiny piece of paradise behind.

          When we arrived back at Meeru, we were actually glad that we did go back. It was nice to spend the final week of our honeymoon in the place that we had planned for years to spend it.
          Meeru is the sort of island where we could have spend all three weeks without getting bored. But I suspect that we would have been bored after another week in Vakaru. Saying that, we would love to go back for a week. However, I don’t think we ever will go back to Vakaru or Meeru because its nice to know that all the memories we have of them were from our honeymoon!


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          • British Shorthair / Pet / Animal / 16 Readings / 11 Ratings
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            13.10.2004 10:54
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            Since my husband and I got married just over 2 years ago, we began talking about getting a kitten. I have had cats all my life, and when I left home, all my pets stayed with my mum and dad. They only live two minutes away so I would still see them every day. But my new house simply wasn’t a home without a pet. I’m sure anyone with a pet will tell you that they make your home a much nicer place to be in. My husband and I both work full time so we decided that it would be better to get two kittens, as they would provide company for each other during the day. So after a year of careful consideration and weighing up the extra expenses, etc. we finally decided to start a serious search of two kittens just over a year ago.

            Initially, we thought about rescuing two kittens, but finally decided to have pedigrees, mainly so that we knew the medical and behavioural genetics and background of the kittens. We also felt rescue kittens, who had probably already gone through trauma, are better off in a home where the owner is around all day.

            We then had to decide on the breed of kitten that we wanted. One thing we were certain about was that we wanted two kittens from the same litter so that they would have a strong bond. We began searching the Internet and reading books. After a month or so, we felt that British Shorthairs seemed to be the best breed for us. However, we had never actually seen one, so we decided to go to a local cat show. We looked at all the breeds of cat that were there (about 10 in total), but were still keen on the British Shorthair. We began talking to the exhibitors at the show and asked various questions about British Shorthairs, but also asked for recommendations of good breeders.

            When purchasing a pedigree kitten, it is a two way inspection process between the breeder and new owner. Any good breeder will ask the new owner questions about their personal circumstances and lifestyle and any genuine prospective owner will ask all the necessary questions about the kittens and their background as well as the environment in which they are bred. We began talking to breeders at the show and soon realised from answers they were giving to our questions that choosing the right breeder would be harder than we initially thought.

            Many breeders seemed to be in the business for the money. Their cats were kept outdoors in catteries and once their breeding days were over, the cat would be sold on. We wanted a breeder who treated their cats like part of the family, just like we would. We wanted our kittens to be used to the home and everything that comes with it, kids, hoovers, washing machines, the TV, etc. We wanted our kittens to be brought up as pets and now a money-making asset from the moment they were born.

            When we returned home, we continued our investigations further. We contacted the RSPCA and asked their advice on reputable breeders, we looked at the websites of cat clubs, we contacted owners of cats bred by certain breeders and checked things out with vets in the area where breeders lived. This may seem a bit extreme, but our kittens would be part of our family and we wanted them to have the best possible start in life.
            Eventually, about 13 months ago, we found the person who seemed like the ideal breeder. I phoned her and was very impressed. She also asked me a lot of questions to be sure that we would be good owners for her kittens. Breeders do have the right to refuse to sell their kittens to a person who they don’t think would be a suitable owner. They can do this at any point. The breeder had to Queens (female cats used for breeding) who were pregnant at the time so she sent us some photos of them to see which cat we preferred. One of her Queens was cream and the other was a blue colourpoint. We decided to go for two kittens from the blue colourpoint Queen.

            The litter of six kittens was born on 23rd September 2003. The breeder sent us lots of photos and we decided on a lilac colourpoint boy and a blue colourpoint girl. When they were about 4 weeks old, we went to see them for the first time. We loved them from the first moment we saw them and luckily, they felt the same about each other. They were extremely close to one another even at that young age.

            About a month later, we visited our kittens again. By this point, we had decided that due to their excellent breeding, we would also try showing them. The breeder gave us lots of advice and we came away feeling really happy. The breeder said she would make sure they were given really nice pedigree names for showing them.

            Our next visit, when the kittens were 13 weeks was the day we brought them home. It was 19th December 2003. I had finished work for the Christmas holidays and was really looking forward to two weeks at home with them. We collected them that evening and set off on our 2-hour drive home. You have to be prepared to travel a distance if you want kittens from an excellent breeder.

            So, that evening, Max and Mollie arrived at our home. They looked so small out of the surroundings in which we were used to seeing them. That night, we left a lamp on in our bedroom and didn’t sleep a wink all night. We sat up watching them sleeping, eating, exploring and then sleeping again. Within a couple of weeks, they had settled in really well and our house became their home. I returned to work in the New Year and Max and Mollie were fine on their own during the day. We had to be careful when they began maturing in case they mated. It was difficult for quite a few months until they were old enough to be neutered. They were neutered in July and made a quick recovery after their operations.

            Max and Mollie were entered into their first show in September 2004 and did really well. Mollie came first in the Open class, which is the most important class in the show. The judge didn’t award her a Premier Certificate due to some shading on her new fur, which was growing back over the scar from her operation. She was awarded another two first places; one third place and one fourth place in her other classes. Max came third in his Open class. He also got two second places and a fourth place. We were really delighted. In October 2004, they were entered into their second show. Max came first in his Open class and was awarded the Premier Certificate, which means he can now be entered into the Supreme Cat Show at Birmingham NEC (this is the cat equivalent of Crufts). He was also awarded Best of Breed and got a second and fourth place in his other classes. Mollie came second in her Open class and was awarded two first places and a third place in her other classes.

            We are currently in the process of purchasing a third kitten from the same breeder. This time, it is a cream male. He was born on 24th September 2004 and we are due to bring him home just before Christmas. We haven’t met him yet but he will be an extremely loved pet, just as Max and Mollie are. His showing potential seems to be even greater than theirs so we will show him as well. All we need now is a name for him!

            If you are interested in getting a kitten, think very carefully before you go ahead. They have feelings and will love you and rely on you. You can’t give them away if things get tough. It would break their heart in the same way that it would if you gave your child away. Your financial circumstances need to be secure. The kitten will need annual injections to stop it from picking up life-threatening illnesses. You will need to insure your kitten at least for the first year of its but preferably for the whole of its life in case of a major illness, accident or injury, as vets bills in these circumstances could run into thousands of pounds. The kitten needs feeding at least twice each day. You will also have to pay for flea powder, worming tablets and toothpaste. Cat’s teeth need cleaning to prevent side effects of tooth decay, which can be as serious as kidney damage. You will need to buy cat litter. You will need food bowls, water bowls, litter trays, a comb and toys. Your cat will need constant love, care and training. It will need time devoted to it each day when you play with it, cuddle and stroke it, feed it, groom it, change its cat litter tray, clean and sterilise its equipment. All these things will need doing every day for the rest of your cat’s life, which could be anything up to 21 years.

            This may sound like a lot of hard work, but it does become routine and doesn’t take up as much time as it appears. However, all this hard work is well and truly worth it for the love, friendship and entertainment they give you. They will bring a whole new dimension to your home and will be your best friend for life!

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              12.10.2004 16:32
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              Kuredu is situated on the northern reef of the Lhaviyani Atoll. It lies around 80 miles north of the international Airport and the capital of Maldives, Male. The transfer time from the airport is about 40 minutes by seaplane or 4 hours by speedboat. The seaplane transfer is generally an optional extra at around £120 but it is well worth the cost. It is worth noting that if you take the sea plane transfer, your luggage will probably be sent on the speed boat, so its worth taking a change of clothes with you in your hand luggage, as you may have a long wait for your suitcase.

              Kuredu is one of the largest tourist islands in the Maldives. Its fabulous white beaches total around 3km in length. The warm waters of the Indian Ocean surround the island, with a lagoon to one side and the reef to the other side. The reef is fantastic for snorkelling or diving. There is a vast array of exotic fish, reef sharks, stingrays, etc. There is a dive centre on the island giving full instruction and providing hire of equipment. If you don't have a PADI certificate, you could actually do a course while in Kuredu and come home certified!

              Accommodation on Kuredu ranges from very basic bungalows that offer nothing more than a place to sleep with a fantastic view to luxury water villas and Jacuzzi beach villas. The bulk of the accommodation is in the main part of the resort and consists of beach bungalows and slightly more upmarket beach villas. To one end of the island is the Sangu Resort, which comprises of Jacuzzi Beach Villas (similar to the normal beach villas, but with there own private garden containing a double Jacuzzi) and water villas that are built on stilts over the lagoon. They have their own outdoor sun terrace with steps leading directly down into the sea. Guests staying in the Sangu accommodation have their own reception, restaurant and bar, which are not available to guests staying on the rest of the island. However, Sangu guests have use of all the other restaurants, bars and other facilities throughout the island.

              It's worth upgrading your package to All Inclusive, as the Maldives is one of the most expensive places to buy food and drink. Let's face it, a restaurant on a tiny island in the middle of the Indian Ocean doesn't really have that much competition so they can charge what they like (and they do). You will save money in the long run by upgrading to All Inclusive either before you leave home or as soon as you arrive in Kuredu.

              Kuredu has plenty of facilities, including several bars and restaurants, a spa, a lovely swimming pool, a gift shop, a jewellery shop, a one-hour photo processing shop, a dive and snorkel equipment shop and a Golf Pro shop. There is also a sports centre with facilities for badminton, tennis, football, darts and table tennis. There is a 6-hole pitch and put golf course, a full-length driving range and a gym/fitness centre.

              Watersports in Kuredu include single and double canoes, windsurfing, water skiing, kite boarding, catamaran and dinghy sailing, banana-boat rides, blasts and ring's.

              If you want to explore further afield, there are plenty of trips from Kuredu, including, island hopping to inhabited, deserted and resort islands, a luxury sailing cruise, big game fishing, Maldivian fishing, night fishing, a sunset cruise and a Robinson Crusoe trip to an uninhabited island, where you get to stay for 24 hours.

              Kuredu is much more lively (we are not talking Mediterranean lively here) than many other Maldivian islands. This gives guests to sample Maldivian life without getting too bored. However, if your idea of the Maldives is complete "get away from it all" then Kuredu probably won't suit you.

              If you are not sure, try it. I'm sure you will love it - it's paradise!







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              • Emirates / Airline / 15 Readings / 13 Ratings
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                08.10.2004 18:12
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                We flew with Emirates from Heathrow when we went on honeymoon and found the airline to be fantastic. It is a United Arab Emirates airline, with its HQ based in Dubai.

                A few weeks prior to departure, we contacted Emirates to pre-book our seats so that we knew we would be sitting together. Emirates were happy to meet all our requests and ensured that we had a window seat and the adjacent seat, not directly over the wing and gave us our seat numbers in advance for each leg of our flight.

                Our first destination was Dubai, and we were delighted to find that, when we got our boarding passes at Heathrow, the seat numbers were exactly the same as those we had been given when we pre-booked the seats a few weeks beforehand.

                When we boarded the plane, we found it was among the best we had been on (and we have flown to 32 different countries without many repeat airlines). There was plenty of legroom, even though we were in Economy, the food was lovely (you can’t often say this about food on a plane) and the cabin crew went out of their way to make us feel comfortable.

                One of the best points about the aircraft was that you had your own TV screen in the back of the seat in front of you. They had individual controls so that you could watch something completely different from the person next to you. It also had a games channel, giving you a variety of games to play. There was also a quiz channel, where you could play against other passengers on the plane.

                One of the most unusual features on the plane was that it had cameras on the front, side and underneath of the aircraft. Passengers could watch the view from these cameras on the personal TV’s. This was a particularly good feature as we came in to land at our second destination, Maldives. I set my TV screen to the forward camera and my husband set his to the under aircraft camera. This view enabled us to pick out the coral reefs, while the view on my screen had us slightly worried. The airport at the Maldives is on its own (very small) island. The runway starts at one end of the island and finishes at the other end. On landing, the forward camera showed the end of the runway speedily approaching, and the sea getting closer! It was a fantastic experience.

                As I mentioned, Emirates HQ is in Dubai and the main offices are located on the airport complex. The building it is housed in has to be one of the most unusual I have ever seen – it is built in the shape of a jumbo jet!

                In all, we were very pleased with Emirates and would have no hesitation to fly with them again. In fact, given the choice between Emirates and most other airlines, we would ‘Fly Emirates’.


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                  29.09.2004 22:49
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                  This Le Meridien Hotel at Heathrow Airport has actually had a name change and is now the Park Inn. From my understanding, this is the first Park Inn hotel in the UK. The standards are equally good to those at Le Meridien Hotels. In fact, I stayed at this hotel, both before and after the changeover and other than obvious changes to names, logos, uniforms, etc, I didn’t notice any difference. Apart from that, there is also a new fleet of Mini Cooper's in the distinctive patchwork, multi-coloured pattern which imitates the hotel logo.

                  The hotel is located at the entrance to Heathrow Airport. If you know Heathrow well, then the hotel is on the left hand side as you approach the roundabout, which has the model of Concorde at the centre of it. This makes the hotel really easy to get to. My husband and I travelled down from the North East of England and found it first time without any problems. The hotel has hundreds of parking spaces. However, it is difficult to find an available space, as most people driving to the hotel then leave their car there while they are away.

                  This is an extremely large hotel with plentiful facilities. It has a large airy reception area boasting all the usual facilities of an international hotel. Being located at Heathrow airport, it also has the added bonus of departures and arrivals screens, which are ideal for checking flight times and delays if you are flying from Heathrow. The lounge area is incorporated into the reception area and is very comfortable.

                  The hotel has a lovely bar where the international waiters will serve you at your table. It is a very modern and fairly contemporary bar. It has lovely large iron gates, which don’t really lead anywhere, but there uniqueness really captivated me (or maybe I had just had a few too many to drink!!!).

                  There is a restaurant in the hotel and a la carte cuisine is available. However, I felt the prices were a little high. There is also a 24-hour room service menu available, but again it is fairly expensive. We opted to eat out of the hotel. Straight opposite is a pub called the Three Magpies. It serves lovely food, specialising in Steak and is very reasonably priced. To the side of the hotel is a parade of shops. One of which is an Italian restaurant with good quality, well priced food.
                  The hotel rooms are brilliant. We have only stayed in the executive rooms, which were fantastic, but the standard rooms were getting good reports from other guests when we were there. The executive rooms are very spacious. On entering the room, there is a large lobby area with rosewood flooring, with a mini bar in one corner, which is surrounded by mirrors. There are also tea/coffee-making facilities here. Backing on to the corridor, is a spacious wardrobe, containing a safe, iron, ironing board and extra pillows. Leading off the lobby to one side is the bathroom. It has a long bath, my husband is 5’10” and he could stretch out in it. There is a power shower over the bath with massage and spa settings, the sink is set into a marble shelf in the corner of the bathroom and is surrounded on three sides by mirrors. A long marble seat links the sink area to the bath. The toilet is, umm…a very adequate toilet! There is a speaker system in the bathroom so that you can listen to the radio or the TV. There is also a telephone in the bathroom.

                  Leading off the lobby, directly opposite the main door, is a panelled archway leading to the open plan bedroom, sitting area and study. Backing on to the bathroom is a very comfortable queen-size bed. Directly in front of that is an ‘L’ shaped peninsula unit, which comprises of drawers and cupboards opposite the bed, and a desk area to the side. The TV stands on the corner of this unit, and there are telephone sockets for Internet access. There is also a hairdryer to the side of the desk. In this room, there is also a double length upholstered stool, a sofa and a chair.

                  The rooms are decorated in a modern, contemporary style and are light and airy. There is very little aircraft noise in the rooms to the front of the hotel, and we weren’t bothered by any aircraft noise in the rooms to the rear of the hotel.

                  Other facilities in the hotel include a gift shop, which mainly caters for foreign guests, selling souvenirs of London. The hotel also has a conference centre to the rear of the hotel and a leisure and fitness suite, comprising of a gym and swimming pool.

                  The hotel is ideal for short stays, particularly if you are flying from Heathrow airport.

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                    28.09.2004 23:37
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                    Before purchasing my Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P10, I spent weekend after weekend shopping around, reading digital camera reviews online and asking the advice of friends. After a few weeks of searching, I decided that this camera was "Simply the Best". It's a decision, which I haven't regretted.

                    This camera is so easy to use; you can practically use it without reading the instructions. The best feature of this camera is the outstanding quality of the pictures. It far surpasses the quality of any of my friends' digital cameras (some of which were more expensive than mine). Even on the VGA setting, the pictures are very clear. On 5 mega-pixels, the picture is crystal clear and extremely sharp.

                    The camera also has a resize facility, so that you can view your photos after you have taken them and resize them or change the pixels to a higher or lower quality. You can then save the new image and still retain the original image.

                    Another big plus about this camera is the fact that it has a recordable movie mode with sound. The only restriction to the length of the video clip is the amount of available space on the memory stick. I recently took movie clips at my friends evening reception after her wedding. Even in low lights and at a distance of around 20 metres, the camera took brilliant movie clips of the bride and groom's first dance and the sound quality was great.

                    The only downside to the movie facility is that, to the best of my knowledge, you can't use the zoom facility while you are recording. However, you can set the zoom before you begin recording and it will record at the selected zoom setting.

                    The only other downside to the camera is that it is sometimes slow to focus when taking photos in poor light and also can be slow to focus on moving images when taking a photo. For example, I have found it difficult at times to take pictures of my cats, as they tend to move just as I am about to take the picture. If they do move, the camera then takes longer to focus and by the time it has focused, they have more than likely ran off!

                    In all, I truly think that this camera is far better than any other that was on the market when I purchased it a couple of months ago. I am extremely happy with my purchase. As I said in the title, this camera is Simply the Best (I think so anyway!!!).

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                    • Fiat Punto D 5dr / Car / 6 Readings / 5 Ratings
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                      28.09.2004 23:32
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                      (Rating)
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                      I bought my Fiat Punto 1.2, 5-door hatchback new in October 2002, after my previous car was written-off in a very bad accident (not my fault!). Obviously, as a result of this, I only had two "must have's" on my new car shopping list: 1) Airbags 2) ABS to give me peace of mind when driving. At that point, I wasn't bothered what other features my new car had, although my husband was keener than me to make sure we bought something packed full of features.

                      My Punto does have driver and passenger airbags. The passenger airbag can easily be deactivated by inserting the ignition key into the appropriate place to the side of the dashboard on the passenger side. This feature is great if you have a baby, as you can then put the baby seat on the passenger seat. The ABS works fine. I have never had ABS on my previous cars and I do think it makes a difference. I have noticed it anyway.

                      Well, that's my two "must have's" reviewed, so now onto what I considered to be all the extra bonus features when I bought my Punto.
                      Probably the best feature is the excellent fuel consumption. I fill up my tank once a month. This costs me approximately £30.00. I can get more or less 425 miles on that £30.00. This is far better fuel consumption than that of any of mine of my husband's previous cars (and we have had a lot of them!).

                      Another great feature is the CITY button. The steering is really light anyway, but activating CITY makes the steering extra light, ideal for use when parking or going round tight corners such as those in multi storey car parks.

                      After my car accident in my previous car, I was left with a twisted spine. I find it difficult to manoeuvre in and out of cars, but the height of my Punto makes getting in and out very easy. It's also a nice height to drive at. The seat is significantly higher up than that of most cars. It feels somewhere between the average car seat height and that of a land rover or people carrier. It also makes visibility better than that of most other cars I have been in.

                      The Punto is a surprisingly spacious car. There is a lot of legroom in the front and I find that the back has more legroom than my husband's 2.0L Ford Focus or my Mum's 2.0L Nissan Sunny. As a result of this, I think there is slightly less boot space in my Punto. However, I rarely carry anything in my boot, so I would rather have the extra space in the main body of the car.

                      I can't fault the mechanics of the car, as to date; I have never had any mechanical problems. My car is kept outside and has always started first time, even in the depths of winter. It has never had to have any repairs. The only time it has been in a garage is for its annual service.

                      I honestly can't think of any disadvantages of my Fiat Punto. It is extremely reliable and economic. It is a lovely car; great to look at and even better to drive!

                      Money well spent; it gives me great peace of mind when I am driving...and you can't put a price on that!!!

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