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I have never, ever been able to understand how people can do their food shopping online, I mean come on how lazy and more importantly you're paying a delivery cost when you can just drive there?! And I was that vocal to friends and family on the matter too..... Yet I'll order clothes, shoes, cd's etc online without a second thought!
Jump forward to 2011, I no longer own a car (yes, collective sob please!) and with a 2 year old and a 1 year old shopping becomes a nightmare. Although I have a bus which stops right outside my flat and goes straight to my 'local' (I use that word loosely as is a good 4.5 miles away!) Tesco where I've always shopped its just hard, hard hard! My darling son legging it off to look at this toy or that chocolate bar or that ride at every given opportunity..... My daughter either snoozing away to wake screaming during our jaunt round the shops or just screeching in disgust at being here again and stuck in the buggy! And all to be done in 55 mins so we can get the bus home again..... Not fun!
So I decided to see why so many people I knew were shopping online and test drive it myself. Tesco was naturally my choice as a) I shop here and b) Clubcard!
I was already familiar with the Tesco website having been a member for a while and a user of the Tesco Direct section. However for those who are unfamiliar you will need to log onto www.tesco.com where you will be greeted with a very busy homepage. For someone familiar with the site this is fine, however for a first time user I beleive that Tesco could do with reducing the excessive amount of information they have on that first page and the endless choice of links. In order to do a food shop you need to select 'Fresh Food and Groceries'. This will open up the next page in the ordering process and to be honest this is a little less busy and a bit easier to navigate for a newbie.
You will have a choice near the top of the page for 'register' or 'sign in' in big blue boxes that stand out. For the purpose of this review we know I am already a member and did not need to register when I first ordered. So obviously, I opted for sign in. You input username and password, hit sign in and voila, back to the same page.
The first thing I always do is choose a delivery slot, as the cheapest ones go the quickest (and I'm tight!) and to do so you will notice on the right hand side it says 'book slot', click on this and a new page will load with a grid with the next 7 days across the top and timeframes down the side (8-10, 9-11, 10-12 etc). In line with all these are the price you will pay for delivery at each time. These vary from £3 - £6 depending on which you choose. I always opt for a lower priced option and find I can often get a nice 8-10pm slot or an early afternoon for about £3.50. To make your selection you simply click on whichever timeslot/price square you would like and there you have it, you now have two hours to do your shopping before you lose that time slot.
And now is the time to start adding goods to your online basket. Across the top of the page we have some links - Groceries, Favourites, Recipes, Special Offers (and currently 'Bank Holiday' not seen that before!). Each section has different sub sections but I'm going to focus on doing a first ever shop so will stick to the Groceries section.
To choose your goods you have many different ways you can go about this and it is all really how you like to navigate web pages rather than a right/wrong or easy/hard way. I choose to use a combination. Firstly, you can hover over any of the sub links offered in this section which are: Fresh Food, Bakery, Food Cupboard, Frozen Food, Drinks, Baby, Health & Beauty, Pets, Household and Home & Ents. All self explanitory. When you hover a little poppy up thing appears giving you even more subsections for that type of grocery! They really have thought of all the sections they could. You can then click on which ever you wish to pursure, for example if I wanted a loaf wholemeal bread I would choose Bakery and then Brown and Seeded Bread. Alternatively to search you can use the search bar on the top right of the page where you can simply type in what you are after, hit search and it will load up options relating to what you have input.
Whichever method you choose will bring you out the same result, a list of products matching the search criteria. The page is very easy, with the option to filter your criteria if you chose. A simple scroll down the page shows you all products that were chosen in the search. If you locate the one you want and do not need any extra info simply click 'add' and it will add 1 to your basket. If you require multiples of an item click the '+' button until you see the required amount and then click add. Your items will then appear in your basket to your left.
Tesco have also added a new 'multisearch' feature in the top right, under the search bar, where you literally can type in your whole shopping list, click search and one by one you can go through the items returned for each product and select the desired choice. Quite a nifty little feature but not one I use often.
Once you have finished adding your items to your basket and you are ready to pay you simply select checkout. You will then be shown your order summary with a prompt to check the items in your basket (this is handy and you can also say if you want substitutes or not from here), the delivery details you chose (time, date, address, your phone numbers), a box to enter delivery instructions - I put ground floor flat in here, and packing instructions where you can choose whether or not to have your shopping delivered in bags. If you choose to not have bags for every 9 items you order you will earn green clubcard points. I always opt for this as I really dont need bags for the 5ft walk from front door to kitchen!
Then you select proceed to payment. On this page you input card details and any e-voucher numbers you may have. The e-vouchers are supplied to clubcard customers and they have a code and you input this for the money to be deducted from your overall bill. One big gripe I have about this site is I get Healthy Start vouchers and you are unable to use these online, so I have to take a seperate trip to a local store that does accept these to get milk and fruit and veg, but this is a personal gripe and not one that will affect everyone. You then click confirm order and there you have it, your order is complete. The final price is just a guide, and no monies are deducted from your account until after delivery incase any items are not available or you wish to return any you are not happy with to the driver.
With each order you can amend them up until a set time (for example by 8.29am on date of delivery for a scheduled 8-10pm delivery) where you may have missed items out.
I have found on the webiste that some items I like are not available, namely being nappy sacks! This is not overly a problem as I can obtain them elsewhere but does annoy me slightly. I just get my friend to pick them up with her weekly shop and give her the money as she uses Tesco too but has the joy of a car!
Onto the delivery.... Well I'd heard many stories of deliveries turning up at the last minute or not at all. In the 6 weeks I have been using them for my weekly shop I have had not one issue. Upon my first delivery the delivery man even knew it was my first time and explained my reciept to me, about subtitutes (there wasnt any and I've only had one in all this time) and about returns. You take your shopping from them at the door (although I'm sure if you struggle they will be willing to aid you to take it in) and you sign their funky little electronic pad to confirm you have taken delivery. My latest order was even half an hour early before my time slot began, great for me but not so much for him if I was out! I have never waited longer than just over an hour into my scheduled delivery time. And on my latest order I recieved a text that day to advise I was due for delivery between 8.05 and 9.05 which I think was fantastic.
Overall I really cannot fault the tesco.com experience nor the service offered by the delivery men. I am very happy and am a bit puzzled as to why I never tried it sooner! I would highly recommend the service and give them a fabby 5 stars, despite the few little gripes I have but as I can overcome these easily they will be losing no stars from me.
Being one of the endless lines of women on a diet (I am doing rather well!) and Weight Watchers being my chosen one I am always on the lookout for a small treat I can enjoy alongside all the healthy eating.... Upon scouring the shelves in Tesco one day armed with my little WW calculator (fabby, works out your points!) I spotted Muller Light yoghurts. I have always been a massive fan of the toffee flavour and worked out they were a mere 2 points a pot! Wicked... So I became a regular buyer of Muller Light yoghurts once again!
Also being a skinflint I am always checking for offers on things I buy regularly and found instore one day that they were offering a 6 pack of Muller Light yoghurts for £2, a bargain as they are normally 61p a pot or a 6 pack £3.29! They only had the 'chocloate' selection left so I decided to give them a go, despite not being a chocolate fan!
As I am not a chocoate fan, and certainly cannot abide dark choccy, I was very aprehensive but decided to give this one a go regardless, as you never know! Well I was shocked, I loved it!
The yoghurt is a 165g pot size (smaller than the 190g Muller Light normally offers), which I love as there is a perfect amount in there to fill you up like you're having a 'proper' pudding! This pot is the usual white background with all the nutritional information and ingredients in white writing on an orange background (I wont pad out my review by listing them!). The trademark Muller Light design is displayed too. The lid is a silver foil lid, also as usual, with an orange peel swirl and some dark choccy shown too, The use by date is also here with the product name and 'fat free yoghurt'. I will advise that often the lids tear upon opening too quick and doesnt all always come away, but as you dont need to heat this product (unless you have odd tastes!) then this doesnt take away from your overall enjoyment.
The Orange and Dark Choccy option is, as you would expect, orange tasting, but not to the point of being bitter or overpowering (as I often find with orange flavours). Its a nice enough flavour that after eating it you can still taste it for a little while without being sickly. The yoghurt itself is an orange colour, as you would expect from this flavour, but not overpoweringly so so it looks more 'natural' than added colouring.
The dark chocolate sprinkles are just that, tiny little pieces of dark chocolate and despite never ever willingly eating dark chocolate I love the flavours mixed together. I can tell that it is dark choccy as opposed to milk but it is not an overly strong flavour and mixes perfectly with the orange.
The consistency of the product is the same as always, slightly thick whilst still maintaining a 'runny' yoghurt look and feel. I recommend you always give the pot a good shake before taking off the foil lid and a good stir once opened as yoghurts can often settle with lumpy parts, which I hate.
As I mentioned I didnt expect much as the flavours were not ones I typically enjoy but I must say this has become my favourite after dinner treat when I've been good and have the points to use. I am a regular buyer of this product now, even when not on offer, and would highly recommend for you to give it a go, dieting or not!
The chocolate selection pack I picked up contains:
Vanilla, Chocolate Sprinkles and Black Cherry Compote
Vanilla Sprinkled with Dark Chocolate
Orange Sprinkled with Dark Chocolate
This can be brought in a 6 pack selection or on its own from various supermarkets. Currently (May 2011) at Tesco they are £3.29 for a 6 pack or 2 packs for £5.50, 61p a single pot or any 4 single pots for £2.00 (mix and match from selected products).
Obviously this product is unsuitable for anyone with dietary dairy issues. Oddly I cannot see anywhere on the packaging if this is suitable for vegetarians and according to their website (mullerdairy.co.uk) it isnt listed in the 'suitable for' list.
Overall I am very happy with this offering from Muller! 5 happy stars from me!
Roll back to 2005, I was 20 and working hard earning a good bit of money, and decided I was going to treat myself to a visit to the hairdressers... The usual happened (cut etc) and then she asked if I'd like her to use GHD's? Well I'd heard of them, they were expensive hair straighteners was all I knew but I thought hey ho its a treat and agreed. For the next few hours I felt like a godess after leaving that salon! My hair can only be described, in the politest way, as that of Sideshow Bob's long lost sister (if you have no idea who he is then I suggest you watch The Simpsons!). I have, and always have had, frizzy curly massive hair and lots of it! When she used the GHD's it was like having new hair - I got compliments all day! So roll forward a few months to the run up to Christmas and Daddy dearest asks what I'd like.... I took a gamble and asked him for GHD's. He had no idea and enlisted the help of his partner to buy me a pair!
So what are they and how do they work?
GHD's are, quite simply, hair straighteners! I own the original (they were brought in 2005!) wide plated Salon Stylers. They came boxed in a long box with GHD emblozoned all over it and sat inside there they were, complete with some hair grips for use during styling. They were, without a doubt, the most beautiful thing I had ever seen! Black, with gold plates and a simple little 'ghd, hairstyling iron with ceramic technology' stamped on the underside of each plate they look so simple its misleading. As you can see from the picture above they are the typical design of a hair straightener and at the plate end they have a peice of the plastic each side that juts out, you use this to hold them together tighter if you wish without burning your fingers. They have one simple switch on the inside which you just slide to on or off, and an led light that lights up red when you switch them on and flashes when maximum temperature is reached. On the other inside strip is some product information and a hallmark and code for authenticity. Mine are a genuine pair, I have had this verified by ghd themselves.
To use them you simply plug in, flick the switch to on and await the light to flash to let you know they have heated up fully. You then get your section of hair, by hand or brush, and run the straighteners down the hair from root(ish!) to tip and repeat until you hair is straight.
GHD's, as they say on them, use ceramic technology which, I beleive, is because it glides through the hair in the best and easiet way whilst still giving maximum performance - straight hair! Now I have used so many different straighteners over the years it is unreal, and GHD's are the only pair that do glide through my hair without any snagging feeling, like my hair has been caught or is being pulled roughly. They heat to 210 degrees which is very, very hot but is excellent in achieving the results I desire. Take care when using them as they do make your hair extremely hot to touch, but a little bit of common sense here and you wont get hurt. And most obviously, never touch the plates!
Where can you get them and how much?
Back when I asked for these as a gift they were only available in selected salons and online from GHD themselves. My Dad brought mine direct from GHD online, and I remember on Christmas day his delight at just how happy I was, as he'd paid 'a fortune' in his own words! They were, back then, a hefty £149 plus P&P, but I believe that these days they are as low as £99 for the newer models and are available in salons and online still, as well as with lots of different online retailers. However, there are A LOT of fakes out there and I would urge anyone to ensure they are buying a genuine pair by checking the unique hologram code that is on every single authentic pair with GHD, via their website. I have done this myself just to be sure!
As mentioned before I have the wide plate version (and an old pair at that!). You can get pink ones, purple ones and even white ones, thin or thick. However as I have only had the one pair this is the only pair I can review.
So are they are great as all the hype?
Well as I mentioned before, my hair is evil! My straighteners I owned before I was brought my GHD's were a hefty £70 and did nothing for my hair - it used to take me around an hour to straighten all my hair and it was a lot shorter then than it is now and I would have to section all my hair to ensure each peice was straight. So Christmas day I open up my GHD's and instantly dive in the shower, blow dry my hair and get ready to try them out. I plugged them in, waited for the flashy light (not long at all, I'd say a minute or two to reach full temperature) and off I went. I had sectioned my hair ready for what I expected to be just as long a process as normal. Within 15 minutes I was done!! I had lovely sleek, straight hair and most of the time was taken up with taking the clips out of each section! I was very, very impressed. My whole family commented on how lovely my hair looked, my dad even said I looked like I'd been back to the salon. They have a super long cord meaning you dont have to move a mirror to near a plug socket, I can plug these in outside my bathroom and still have enough flex to use them without any taughtness.
Fast forward 5 and a half years.... I am STILL using the same pair of straighteners as I first used on the Christmas day back in 2005! And they still provide exactly the same excellent performance. In fact, a lot of people dont actually know that my hair isnt naturally straight and are shocked when they first see my Sideshow Bob look (which is rarely outed for public viewing I might add!!). I rarely need to redo my hair with them, they keep my hair straight all day and I only ever go back over it if I'm off out for an occasion, but other than that, one quick do in the morning and I'm done for the day. I rarely experience any static from using them, infact the only time is when I've dyed my hair (I have no idea why this happens?!). I have also been naughty and used them directly onto wet hair. Now be careful if you do this as it creates a lot of steam, but also is damaging for your hair! My hair is hardly damaged from using straighteners, and I use mine daily, unlike other pairs I have used as I do not get the snagging with my GHD's.
I will add here that you can apparently do other things like curl your hair with these, I'm afraid I have never attempted this, I'm no hairdresser, so really couldnt rate this aspect of using them. They are rounded on the sides to allow this use and if you are able to give it a go and master it then I would recommend you try.
So I'm sure you're thinking something must of gone wrong with them at some stage? After all don't most people moan they break easily? Well I have dropped my pair more times than I care to remember and they have not once cracked or shown any sign of this. I have had only one issue with them - they suddenly refused to stay on. They would switch on and keep flicking off. A quick wiggle of the power cord and I realised the issue was in the cord where its joins into the actual straightener. I was gutted, but I knew there had to be an answer somewhere. So off I popped to the computer, ran a search and discovered it was a common fault. Unfortunately most people write their GHD's off at this point but I was cleverer than that. I found I could purchase a new wire from GHD themselves for £12 including delivery. I found a video on youtube that explained exactly how to change the wire over. When the wire arrived I followed the steps on the video, plugged them in and viola!!! They worked again. Clever me!
I have had friends who have brought 3 or 4 pairs of these all because they've stood on them and they've snapped or they have experienced the same issue with the cord. I would suggest to anyone that has any problems to contact GHD and see what they suggest as quite often they are still under their 2 year guarantee (yes as standard!) or they are repairable. My pair have moved house numerous times, been dropped/pulled down by my kids (when off I must add), live in the bathroom where its wet, have been uysed abroad for a year and by nearly all of my friends and they are still going strong. They require very little maintainence, just a wipe with a damp cloth around the edges to remove and sticky bits from running over your hair with products in.
For £149 my Dad was expecting them to straighten my hair themselves, but even he has to admit, 5 and a half years and almost daily use and you cant complain, they are a perfect investment for anyone who wants to look after their hair. I couldn't rate GHD's any higher if I tried, and mine are most certainly my most prized possession! 5 wholey deserved stars!
When my old little stereo packed up playing CD's after 11 lenghty years I decided I desperately needed a new one, as as much as I enjoyed listening to the radio when cooking sometimes I just have to play a CD! Being very short on money I immediately checked the Tesco Direct website after remembering seeing a fairly cheap boombox around Christmas time on sale. I found this one straight away and was very chuffed, it was on offer for only £7.00! The full rrp is £14.95 and was also reduced to £12 recently. For £7.00 I couldnt really pass the opportunity up, and as it was so cheap and I wanted it asap I opted for the Standard Next Day Delivery for £5.00. You can also collect the item from a local Tesco Direct or instore at selected Tesco stores.
My delivery slot was given as 7am-7pm - great! Stuck in all day with 2 little kids waiting for it to arrive. But I was very pleased to have received it by 11am. The delivery driver was very friendly too which always helps when I'm taking receipt of something ordered online for me. I was given a plastic mail bag and inside was the box. The front of the bag informed me there is no invoice with my item and that the email I recieved after ordering is my proof of purchase, which was reiterating what the email had said, quite handy for those who dont pay attention!
The box wasn't very big but for £7.00 I wasn't expecting a massive size anyway. The stereo itself was well packed in polystyrene and the power cord/plug was wrapped seperately in plastic wrapping. Very easy to set up, just pull it out the box plug the cord into the stereo and a plug socket and switch on! One thing I love about this is it has an on and off switch on the left hand side, meaning I can turn it off without risk of moving the tuning wheel and losing my station for next time. The buttons/functions are all pretty standard: AM, FM, CD options, a wheel for tuning and a wheel for the volume. There is an ariel which extends, but not overly long and can be folded away for carrying. The front on the stereo features the screen for when you are playing cd's showing the track number and with the play, stop, forward and back keys. You can also repeat the current song or if you press repeat twice it will repeat all. And there is a programme function too. As I said, pretty standard for boomboxes. To pop a cd in you just lift the lid and then push it back down, there is no button operation for this.
This stereo is usable both mains operated and battery operated making it portable, hence the handle on the front. If you wish to use it with batteries it takes 6 C batteries...... I dont think I'll ever bother with that and couldnt comment how it works with batteries as I have solely used it mains operated.
For a whopping £7.00 I really wasnt expecting much from this stereo but its tidy looking, quite small and very easy to use. It picks up the radio signal fine and has needed less adjusting than my old one to keep the station! Operating for CD use or radio use is easy.
I have just one gripe - the sound quality its 'tinny', thats the only way I can think to describe it. There is zero bass to be heard through these speakers and some songs are made to sound very flat. Now I like a lot of differrent types of music and listen to the radio a lot too and its the same on everything, even radio presenters voices - its all flat. But as I said, I wasnt expecting much for £7.00 however I would of expected a slight bit of bass to be heard. I have gotten past this by blasting the music at its top volume and just singing along!! It does have a quite loud top volume for such a small unit.
Overall I would say that I am very happy with this purchase, but I would think Tesco should maybe look into improving the bass problem if they wanted a more successful selling product. As I am happy with everything bar the bass issue I am going to give this a good 4 stars.
I have read a few of Jodi Picoults books and when my friend offered to lend me Songs of the Humpback Whale I jumped at the chance, as I'd always liked Picoult's offerings. Inside the book I learned that this is Picoults first book, written when aged 25 and as she explained in the middle of the ages of the two main female characters.
The blurb includes 'The first time Jane Jones tried to leave her husband, her daughter almost got killed. This time she's going to do it right.' It also explains Jane was abused as a child and history is repeating itself.' I am going to try not to give too much away about the story as I feel I might kill its appeal for some people so if I sound a little cagey please forgive me, but it is such an indepth tale where revealing one thing can spoil another.
There are 6 main characters in this story:
Jane Jones - A woman in her late 30's (I imagine, I dont recall her actual age actually being revealed but from the story you realise she is about 39/40), married to Oliver and mother to Rebecca.
Oliver Jones - A marine biologist focused solely on the songs of humpback whales and their manner in which they live their lives, a few years older than his wife, and totally obsessed by his work.
Rebecca - 15 years old, the survivor of a plane crash when she was only 3 and growing up with two very distant parents, but her mother is extremely doting on her.
Joley - Jane's brother, he idolises his sister and becomes her saviour when she needs to escape.
Sam - The owner of an apple orchard, 25 years old and Joley's boss. His home is where Rebecca and Jane find themselves.
Hadley - Also 25, Sam's best friend and also works at the orchard alongside Joley and Sam.
This story is told through 5 different peoples voices - Jane, Rebecca, Oliver, Sam and Joley. Now whilst this does work well at times it really confused me, especially as it jumps back and forth in time. You really do need to concentrate and 'take in' what you are reading, otherwise you may find yourself struggling to peice the story together.
The story begins with a prologue from Rebecca explaining that she was in a plane crash when she was 3 and a half. You learn that her mother had left her father (he hit her we later learn), and taken her away to her grandparents house. Her father, Oliver, threatened to send the FBI if Jane didnt send Rebecca back home. So Jane put Rebecca on a flight back to her father under the care of the airline staff and it is during this flight the plane crashes into a field and Rebecca becomes one of only 5 survivors. There is a very important part here in the prologue that until skimming back through the book I only just realised the importance of - 'I am telling you the story of our trip because I am the only one who has really put it all together......; Me I see it going backwards, like a rewinding movie'. I never took notice of this really at first but now it makes sense as it bugged me all the way through the book why everyone else's story was following pretty much the same timeline, and Rebecca's was going backwards? (see above!)
We then meet Jane and Oliver, with some explanations on how they met, their jobs and basically how the really do not 'fit' together as a couple anymore. This much is screamingly obvious from the beginning and kind of gives an idea of where the story might go. We reach a part where the couple have a row, beginning over Oliver's insistance on taking part in research rather than being at home for his daughters 15th birthday. In the row Jane destroys some important things of Olivers, by accident, and some harsh words are said, and results in her hitting him. Jane was abused by her father as a child and was beaten, she panics that history is repeating itself and flee's to her car. Waiting for her, with a packed bag is Rebecca and thus begins a few thousand miles of travelling across America to get to her brother Joley.
Joley directs Jane across America in a very roundabout fashion, and this is for two reasons: so Jane and her daughter can view the sights and so Oliver would have trouble finding them. He does so via letter, and in each letter we learn a little more about Joley before we actually get to meet him in the book, and about his childhood with Jane. One thing in this book did disturb me. Joley doesnt love his sister in a sibling kind of way, its almost like he wants to be with his sister in a partner sense. Having read the recounts of the abuse and how Jane protected him from ever being hurt this is understandable to a point, but at times I was worried we were going to be taken on a journey of a mans sexual desire for his sister. This is very closely hinted at at times in the book and for me, was just too much. It wasnt needed to carry along with the story, it did a good enough job itself.
The beginning of the book is very, very slow as we learn about the first 3 characters, and as Joley and his letters are introduced. It was so slow that for one of very few occasions in my reading history I considered giving up on the book. I must add I'm very glad I didnt, but it was close! My main reason for this was as previously mentioned, Rebecca tells the story backwards, so one of the 'major' events is actually revealed very early on in the book, and takes away the surprise element. A few things are given away, however the way in which the book continues means that you still learn more and want to continue to see how such things came about.
Rebecca and her mother have some fun, some scary moments and a lot of learning about each other to handle during their trip. Although Rebecca is recounting backwards and Jane in 'real time' it does all fit together nicely in the end and you are able to peice together a lot of what was said.
About a third of the way in we are introduced to Sam and get the chance to learn about him and how he was left his orchard after his mother and father decided to leave for another state and that he has taken big risks to get it to where it is now. It is also explained how Sam is very much a country boy, the type that city girls look down on. We learn how Joley came to work on the farm and that he is aware of his sister and neice's imminent arrival, two people he has never met, but is happy to welcome into his home.
Oliver eventually picks up his pursiuit of his wife and daughter across America, abandoning his whale trip, although not without considering the other option first! He really is painted as a slack father and husband, and until this happens he really doesnt realise how well he has it. The character of Oliver does a very good job of showing how when one person in a relationship is too focused on their career they dont realise how easily they are pushing their family away. He does redeem himself with his chase across the country, although not without fault, and we learn he is in no way a perfect husband and that Jane did right in leaving him.
We go on a journey of love, hate, fear, abuse, idolisation and realisation through the pages of this story, and it continues its flow nicely as you near the end. Eventually we reach the crescendo of all 6 characters coming together in the book. Then we have heartbreak, death and forgiveness. The last third or so of the book had me gripped, I just wanted to know how what you learn from Rebecca is told from the other peoples points of views, how they felt about things and what they wanted or didnt want. Although at first I hated the time jumping, it actually makes the suspense more as you know whats coming, you just dont know how.
To be honest, I made my mind up about the people in the book pretty quick - Jane, boring and overly focused on her daughter stuck in a marriage she wasnt happy with because she didnt want to show giving up; Rebecca - Has it quite easy, although her father doesnt do enough, quite intelligent and knows her own mind; Oliver - Slack husband and slack father, too focused on work and doesnt deserve the women in his life; Sam - A good farmer, good sense of humour but too quick to judge people on where they are from or what they look like; Joley - weirdly in love with his sister and very strange guy. In the end though I warmed towards Jane a hell of a lot, and Sam too. I was not once comfortable with the character of Joley, he just weirded me out, but this is just my personal view after all!
In all honesty, until I reached about the halfway point in this book I truly wouldnt of recommended it. Now, having read it all I will honestly say it is a fabulously written book and that I can see the need for the slow build up of learning about each character from the start - this is very important to the rest of the story. It is a very indepth book and not a light read at all. There are things that happen that I haven't mentioned in my review on purpose, I dont want to spoil some of the things you learn as these make for the brilliance of the book.
Once again Jodi Picoult has impressed me!
Although my copy was lent to me it is currently retailing on Amazon for £4.29 new or from £1.48 used.
A few weeks ago I was browsing through the TV guide and noticed that showing later that night was 'Shrooms' a film I remember being released at the cinema and wanting to see, but never got round to it, as always! I decided to record it and finally today I got the chance to watch it. I am an absolutely huge fan of horror movies, but I am also a wuss and can't sleep if I watch them late at night! So I decided a quiet afternoon with one child napping and the other too young to notice what was going on I'd settle down to watch. I had a quick scout on dooyoo first and seen it has quite low star reviews, but not everyones view is the same and I often enjoy even the naffest of naff horrors!
The basic outline is 5 American kids decide to travel to Ireland on a camping trip in the woods purely to pick magic mushrooms and meet up with Jake, a guy they met at college in America. The usual horror movie plotline follows of people getting killed off one by one until you find out 'who dunnit'.
In the woods they are staying in the mushrooms grow all over and Jake advises the group (Tara, Lisa, Holly, Troy and Bluto) that there is one type they shouldn't touch, its deadly and is said to make the user see the future and basically trip on a massive scale, if it doesnt kill you first. So naturally one of the group takes said mushroom! This being Tara.... She proceeds to have a fit and Jake looks after her and she's put to bed in her tent. Whilst she is sleeping at night Jake tells the rest of the group a horror story based on a youth offending institute close by that results in 'these woods are apparently haunted'. The group continue to take shrooms and get a high.
Tara starts having fits and seeing the future during them as one by one the members of the group are killed off, which each time she 'sees'. (Now I must say here that the deaths are pretty boring for a 'horror'! I was very disappointed to say the least). The usual chase and race against the killer to be the last one standing ensues, cue lots of bad acting and screaming!
And before you know it the police are there and the final survivor is being saved via ambulance.....
Now in all honesty there is absolutely no storyline to this film besides getting high, people getting killed and Tara fancies the pants off Jake after their summer romance. That is basically it! The killer is far too obvious from the start of the movie. And as mentioned previously, I am a wuss when it comes to horrors - I honestly didnt need to look away once and nor at any point did I, even slightly, jump! Normally at least once during a horror my heart will race or I'll need to sheild my eyes.... This film just didnt create that feeling
Overall I would say that I wouldnt recommend wasting your time watching this film, unless its already on and you cant find the remote! Sadly that is over an hour of my life I will never get back!
If dooyoo allowed I would give this film no stars! As it doesnt it gets a reluctant one!
Any parent with a baby/toddler in nappies will know - nappies stink! Whether its one full of wee or a nice big poo from your delightful child the scent of a nappy is overpowering and can linger quite easily, especially in your bin, even after you've taken the bin bag out. I have a 2 year old son and a 1 year old daughter, both still in nappies (lucky me I hear you say!) and as you can imagine we get through a lot of nappies in our place. I have always religiously used nappy sacks from day 1, I just hate hate hate the stench of a nappy and with a dairy intolerant son.... Yeah you get the idea!
I have used many different brands of nappy sack, normally picking up a 300 box for 99p or something in my Bodycare in the city centre, but when I had my daughter getting into town for a spot of browsing became a bit of a nightmare with two children so I turned to Tesco's where I do my weekly shop to see what they had on offer. I found 300 bags for 19p...... Yes! 19p! I wondered what the catch was, after all they were Tesco Value and a measly 19p! I picked up a pack anyway, and just in case popped a more expensive box in the trolley for when I no doubt had to throw out the cheapies!
The Tesco Value nappy bags come in 100 or 300 bags, being 9p (I know!!!!!) or 19p respectively, although recently I haven't seen the 300 bag in my usual store and I am wondering if this is purely stock level or a discontinued item? The packaging is very handy, as rather than following the trend of coming in a slightly bulky box like other brands they are in a thin plastic white bag, no more than about 15cm wide, making them easy to fit into a baby bag without taking up much space. The bag shows the Tesco Value logo, what the product and contents is and a smiley happy baby boy just out of the bath. The back of the pack shows the usual blurb they must contain and directions for use (really???!!!). To open the pack they have a perforated section of the packaging at the top and you just pull a bag out at a time. Easy peasy. But still, they were 19p, there must be something wrong? Right?
Wrong.... Whilst some nappy bags have an disgustingly strong smell (or that could be just me?) these have a pleasant mild scent, much like baby powder I would say, and the scent does well at covering up the stenches my little darlings produce! (And they can be baaaaaaad!). The bags themselves are a bluey/green colour and just the right thickness, they are not too thin to hold a full nappy and do the job just right. They are easy to get the bag open, I even have it down to one handed as the sides dont seem to stick together like I've found with other bags and they open nicely with a little shake. The handles are a perfect length for tying to keep the nappy, and its smell, contained inside. I con honestly say that I have never had a bag split on me from having too much inside, which I was expecting for 19p! I even put empty wipes packets in if I finish the pack whilst changing and even the sharp edges from these haven't broken through.
I keep waiting for something to annoy me about these bags, but after over a year of use I would definately say they are perfectly fine, and in our current climate who doesnt want a 9p or 19p bargain?! There is honestly no other product I could think of that would be sold so cheap and still work!
My only gripe with these bags is sometimes when trying to get 1 bag out of the packaging, you can end up with quite a few following as they sometimes struggle to seperate themselves and you end up stuffing them back in..... But they're 9p, I can handle that!
Overall I would say these are a must have for any parent of nappy wearing children, and would probably even be good for people out walking their dogs to pick up waste (maybe I could post some to all the houses round here and stop dodging the doggy poo in the streets!) for an absolutely bargain price. I give these a fantastic 5 stars. Well done Tesco!
As I am working my way through all the ready meals on offer from Weight Watchers whilst I follow the new ProPoints plan I have tried yet another new dish, Spaghetti Bolognaise.
I haven't been a massive fan of Spag Bol for a while, since I was pregnant with my son and had a rather nasty tasting one, and its rarely a choice of mine, however as it was a WW meal and I was doing my weekly shop online rather than popping to Iceland for my WW meals I had limited choice and decided to give it a go.
I got my dish from Tesco online for the offer price of £1, and I beleive that Iceland also has it on offer at the same price. Full price at Tesco is £1.67.
The box describes the meal as 'minced beef cooked in tomato and red wine sauce with pasta' and has 'Enjoy!' emblazoned on it too.... Well I was hoping to!! Under the ProPoints scheme this meal will take 8 points from your daily allowance.
The first thing I will say is the spagetti was all cooked after the 7 minutes in the microwave, whereas I often find ready meals with pasta in either have the pasta going hard or its not fully cooked, but this one was which was a pleasant suprise. However there is good reason for this..... Its just so watery! The sauce contains lots of mince which was nice as normally ready meals are a bit stingey on how much you get, but the 'sauce' was just like tomato flavoured water! Very much a let down as I like my spag bols/chilli's etc to be rather thick. I think maybe I was expecting too much of a ready meal, but it was far too watery even for such a product!
The flavour I would only describe as ok... It tasted like spag bol, but it was just overpowered by the tomato water! I could taste the red wine it describes faintly at times, but I think I was too in shock at just how disappointing the 'sauce' was to really pay full attention!
Normally I give ready meals, especially low fat ones, a bit of leeway on their overall consistency but unfortunately this meal was just far too disappointing. There was positives in the spaghetti cooked well and there was plenty of mince, but the 'sauce' just let it down. That is why I'm giving this dish a rather poor 2 stars.
Now to face the fact I have another one sat in my freezer that needs eating!!
As christmas was fast approaching and with my son being 2 and understanding more I wanted to capture the magic and really treat him so I set about finding a list of things to splurge the cash on and also a list for his Dad to get too. On his Dads list I added the Go Glow Alien as Alfie had seen it 1000 times on adverts and excitedly shouted 'Look Mummy, Story alien!' so I immediately thought it would be a winner. I was very wrong.
Our alien was brought from Argos for £19.99 but it is currently being sold on Amazon for £14.99. The alien is rather large (about half a metre tall) and very wide, making it a bit difficult for a 2 year old to hold easily. The basic idea of the alien is that he is a nighttime pal, as you press his hand and his 3 eyes light up, so a cuddly nightlight if you wish. The adverts show a little boy getting into bed with his cuddly pal and using his lights to fall asleep to.
My first thing I will say is I'm very glad I didn't pay for it!
On Christmas Day Alfie was delighted, giving him big hugs and switching the light on and off, bit of a novelty! However, the aim is for him to be a nightlight/taken to bed.... This has never happened. Mainly because the lights from the eyes are blindingly bright! Even Alfie has declared 'too light Mummy' when I have tried to encourage him to use the alien to fulfill his purpose (I'm a huge Toy Story fan, I hate to think of unplayed with toys being upset! haha!). On the one occasion I did manage to pursuade Alfie to take him to bed he spent the next ten minutes making lots of noise and talking away - the light stays on for 15 mins! In the end I had to take him away and go back to the nightlight we normally use (again a Toy Story one!).
The alien now sits on the bedside table pretty much ignored and barely being played with. I can count on one hand the amounts of times Alfie has played with the alien, instead preferring other toys that he can easily handle and dont give out stupid bright lights.
I can see the idea being a good one, but I would say that the lights could do with being dulled down to actually be used as a nighttime light. The size of the alien is quite big too. Overall, I would say too big and too bright and wouldnt really recommend, especially not to a child as young as 2 (it is marketed to 24 months plus). I have given only 3 out of 5 stars because of this.
My son has always been a nightmare with food, if he doesn't want to try something he simply wont, and at 2 1/2 years old he really knows his own mind. He is dairy intolerant and as such his diet is odd anyway. When younger he would eat some vegetables but no fruit, none, nada! It didnt matter what I tried he simply refused fruit. I was at the end of my tether when he was about 1 years old feeling like a bad mum and worrying he wasn't getting his '5 a day' when someone suggested School Bars to me.
School Bars are made by a company called Fruit Bowl (who are also the makers of Fruit Flakes for those who are familiar with them). They come in a pack of 5 20g bars and I buy mine from Tesco for £1.24 a pack (currently, they have gone up recently!). I have only ever seen in the store I shop in the Raspberry and Strawberry flavours, however if you shop online they also have Blackcurrant and Apple available (different chains of supermarket may stock more flavours).
The blurb on the back of the pack tells you that School Bars are made from fruit puree, dried fruit and fruit juice. They have no added sugar, are low in fat and count towards your 5 a day. I wont list all the ingredients, I'm sure if you are interested in these you will find out.
The first time I brought them I remember thinking 'how much?!' but then I did realise the fact they were fruit would up the price over them being sweets. However when I first opened one to give to my son to try I was shocked, it looked and smelt like a long thin sweetie! But I trusted the packaging that I was indeed giving him fruit and something that is good for him. I was expecting him to throw it back at me with 'that look' of how dare you try and give me healthy food! At the time he was only young and didnt have a huge amount of teeth so he kind of gummed on it, but he sat and persevered and ate the lot! Even asking for more. I was overjoyed! I had finally gotten fruit down him! We also moved onto Fruit Flakes and have never looked back.
My son loves School Bars and for some reason (I have no idea, don't ask!) calls them 'Pop' but he will ask for one a few times a day. With the price of them it can get quite expensive to let him have them, but as he eats no other fruit or veg other than these Fruit Bowl products it really is worth it for me and he likes them. Personally I think they are foul - I decided to try one one day to see what the fuss was about and I would never recommend them to an adult. They are most definately a food aimed at children, but then this is given away by the 'Ideal For Lunchboxes' written on the box.
Overall in our house they are a winner and a great way to get fruit down a child, especially a fussy one!
Having a 2 year old son and a 1 year old daughter I'm sure you can imagine the extent of our tv viewing.... Cartoons and more cartoons! We used to avidly watch playhouse disney, but whilst at a friends house one day I ended up watching Ben and Holly with her daughter, and I have to admit, I loved it! So I introduced it into our house.... Now we watch nothing but Nick Jr!
Ben and Holly is from the makers of Peppa Pig (another favourite for my kids!) and is all about the Little Kingdom, where Ben and Holly live, somewhere hidden amongst thorny brambles! Holly is a fairy princess, daugther to King and Queen Thistle with two little twin sisters, Daisy and Poppy (fairies can fly and do magic!). Looking after the castle they live in, and being a general maid is Nanny Plum (the hero of the whole kingdom in my own opinion!). Ben is an elf, and lives in the Great Elf Tree with his mum and dad, Mr and Mrs Elf (elves are good at making things!).
The main characters are:
Princess Holly - A lovely little girl who doesnt always get things right, especially her magic! Ben is her best friend and when not learning her days are spent with Ben, exploring and getting into mischief at times!
King Thistle - A portly man who to be honest is a wee bit dumb at times! He is the King of the whole kingdom so has a say so on the laws, some of which are a bit silly and he has to backtrack on! He relies on Nanny Plum, often shouting 'Nanneeeeeeeeeeeeeee' to get his cup of tea!
Queen Thistle - Holly's mum and a very lucky lady as she doesnt really do much aside from look after the twins and visit her sister. She is very proud of her kingdom however.
Daisy and Poppy - aka 'The Twins' and a nuisance for everyone other than their Mum! There is a very funny episode featuring these two where the whole kingdom cant look after them. They cause so many problems its unreal, and are a danger when they have hold of a wand!
Nanny Plum - By far my favourite character, she has some great story lines. She is the first to help fix a situation for the kids, she runs around after the king and queen, looks after the castle and has great banter with the Wise Old Elf! She's the best at magic and the best cook in the whole wide world!!
Ben Elf - Holly's best friend and an elf, which naturally makes him good at making things! An expert toy robot maker. Spends his days with Holly when he is not at school exploring the kingdom and getting into mischief.
Mr and Mrs Elf - Bens parents, both are elves so again they are good at making things! Ben's dad seems to have lots of jobs around the kingdom! Seems to be proud their son is best friends with a Princess.
The Wise Olf Elf - Elves are good at making things, but the Wise Old Elf can do anything!! A builder, a doctor, an entertainer, a librarian, a toy maker... He can, and does, do anything! I believe he is secretly in love with Nanny Plum!
Gaston the Ladybird - Gaston is just that, a ladybird, and is Ben and Holly's friend. As Ben cant fly he rides on Gaston in order to fly around with Holly. They all spend lots of time playing together. Gaston lives in his very own cave.
There are many other characters but these are the main ones. There are so many different episodes of the programme all with different things to learn.
As a result of this cartoon my son is obsessed by ladybirds shouting 'Gaston' whenever he sees one, and he is always keen to hold one and watch them fly. I have brought him a Gaston toy for his birthday as he loves him so much, he already has a Ben and Holly! Frogs also feature highly in the cartoon at times and my son has learnt to identify them and croak like one.
There isnt really much educational content to the cartoon (no counting/word teaching) but it does have story lines that can help to teach behavioural things, i.e. helping people out, and dont turn your best friend into a frog! It is very engaging however and both my children are glued to it when it is on (so am I to be honest!), some things make me laugh as there is some adult humour in there too. I have never heard a bad word from anyone who has seen it, and even my dad will sit and watch it with the kids (or me!) without complaining like he does about other cartoons. One thing I do like about the show is there is no annoying theme song, it is introduced by a man saying 'Somewhere, hidden amongst thorny brambles is a Little Kingdom of Elves and Fairies. Everyone who lives here is very very small'.
We have brought a fair bit of the merchandise, from DVD's to bed covers and it is a very, very popular choice in our house!
I can honestly say I do not have a bad word to say about Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom and I would highly recommend for kids of all ages (and adults too!).
Years ago my friend had a daughter and we all lived together, one day she came home with a copy of 'We're going on a bear hunt' AND the DVD. I remember the DVD being on repeatedly every morning and the irritation I felt at hearing the story over and over again.... Now I have my own children I just simply had to buy a copy to see if the magic would feel different with my own children, and I was right.
The book is available with or without the DVD and varies in price - I brought my copy with the DVD from a shop on ebay for £6.99, however it is available in all good bookstores and online retailers.
The story is about a family going on a bear hunt and is very repetitive, however it is a 'sing song' type story (the DVD will teach you the 'tune'!) and kids can easily pick up whats coming next... The family's journey takes us through long grass, mud, a river and even a forest, all in their hunt for a bear!
The book is beautifully illustrated for each part of the journey and you can follow the story just by the pictures, which is good for younger children.
Each section begins 'We're going on a bear hunt, we're going to catch a big one, what a beautiful day, we're not scared'. For those of us with talking children they will easily pick up this part of the story, after a week my son is already talking along with me as I have great fun animating the story for them both. Each time this is said we then encounter a problem (the grass, mud etc!) and we have an 'Uh oh!' moment, again kids pick this up easily, and enjoy joining in with the story and getting animated themselves. We then have descriptive words for what we have encountered repeated 3 times - for instance 'squelch squerch' for the mud and 'swishy swashy' for the long grass. My son has also started to pick up these parts and enjoys doing actions and gleefully saying the story with me!
The family find a cave and 'tip toe tip toe' in to find the bear, now I will say my son can be quite easily scared of things and at first glance was a bit unsure of the picture of the bear (he knows bears to be nice and cuddly like Pooh Bear, not scary looking!) but with a gentle reminder from me that hes friendly and making light of it he was fine - some other children may react the same way, or maybe my son is just a bit of a wuss! The family then race back home, back through all the obsticales they encountered on the way and dive under the duvet to declare 'we're not going on a bear hunt again!'.
The DVD is the same as the book, with the same images as the book shown as sing song voices read the story along for your children. Again this is perfect for teaching them to join in, but it can get quite annoying hearing it over and over again from someone else! I prefer just to read the book and do tend to avoid the DVD.
Overall I highly recommend this book as a great way to involve your children in story time and to make it fun!
I am a bookworm, its as simple as that. I will read pretty much anything from any genre but my favourite has got to be a good old feel good chick lit. I have read many different books from many different authors and Sophie Kinsella is by far my favourite chick lit author. I had read all her books, or so I thought, when I discovered Twenties Girl.
I brought my copy from play.com on a Play Trade as a preowned copy, but brand new it is available from most bookstores and online retailers - it is currently £4.79 for a paperback copy on Amazon.
As with all of Sophie's books the cover has a girly look to it, bright colours and picture of a character. The 'blurb' on the rear explains the storyline - A woman called Lara has always had an overactive imagination, but now she wonders if she's losing her mind having seen the spirit of her Great Aunt Sadie. Could Sadie be the answer to Lara's problems?
Without giving too much away on the story the blurb does sum up the book pretty well, Lara's Aunt has died and the story begins with the family attending the funeral. From the outset Sophie's humour and great way of explaining the mind of a young woman is in full flow, with her witty one liners and a girls desperation to hide the truth of her life from her parents! We are introduced to some of Lara's family at the funeral - a worry wart in the shape of her mum, a laid back father, a famous and stupidly rich uncle with a typically stuck up wife and her gobby rich cousin. It is at the funeral that Lara first meets Sadie's ghost.
What follows is a very funny story of a demanding 23 year old ghost bossing her great neice around to track down a missing necklace that Sadie cannot rest without. The lengths Lara has to go to in order to track down the necklace are brilliantly thought out, some of her actions and talking to 'noone' in full view of other people had me laughing out loud. I was very glad I read the book at home, I would of gotten some strange looks out in public giggling away to myself!
As with all chick lit books there is love, and heartbreak, there is friendships and fall outs. All brilliantly combined to make a funny book that you will be unable to put down! I couldnt!
I dont want to give too much of the story away so will end there but I will say, if you are into your chick lit then this is a very must have read! Sophie Kinsella will have you laughing and crying along to Lara and Sadie's journey.
Having started on the WW propoints diet I am working my way through half of their products, and WW Lasagne is by far one of my favourites!
I brought this from Iceland for £1 but it is available in most major supermarkets and I have also seen it in some local shops, although for a bit more money (Iceland has a fantastic range of WW products).
Having tried a lot of 'ready meals' I wasnt really expecting much from this lasagne, as afterall you cant beat homemade! But I was pleasantly surprised. I have heard this lasagne described as too runny by a few people, but in my own opinion it is just right, yes it could be a little less runny but for a microwave low fat meal it does the job. It is nice to be able to have a lasagne whilst on a diet that doesnt take up my weekly allowance of points!
Size wise this is an ideal portion, however I would say it wouldnt be enough on its own as a main meal, maybe for a lunch, but if you are having it for dinner I would say you need to accompany it with something in order to fill up. Personally I have some WW chips and cauliflower and it makes a delicious, filling meal.
The contents is exactly right for a lasagne, perfect amount of mince, onions etc, the lasagne sheets cook nicely in the microwave without being hard or undercooked (as I have found with other microwavable lasagnes) and the white sauce is tasty AND low in fat! In just 8 minutes you can have a tasty lasagne without the guilt (and only 6 propoints for those WW followers!).
Overall I would highly recommend this lasagne, especially to people on a diet - if you're not bothered about the fat content or your waistband you may choose to disagree!
If I won the lottery I know the first thing I'd want to do..... Update my facebook status screaming 'IVE WON XXXX ON THE LOTTERY!!' or something to that effect, but I know this would be very silly, as I'm pretty sure all of a sudden 'friends' I've not seen hide nor hair of for a long while would suddenly want to visit me! So instead, a bottle of disarono and a splash of coke later and I think I might see the sense in keeping it quiet!
The first thing I'd want to do is buy somewhere nice to live. I wouldn't want to move out of my home town, as my family and few friends are here, but I would be looking to the more 'posher' outskirts! I wouldn't want a 90 bedroomed house with 6 gazillion acres of land, just enough for a bedroom each for the kids and us parents. A lovely big kitchen would be a must, I've always dreamed of a 8 hob stove and a kitchen big enough for an island in the middle! All decor would be like a lovely little country cottage...... Wow I'm dreaming here!
If we were as yet not married then I would certainly be booking us a wedding (its gunna happen, just not sure when haha!), but making sure the bar is free for all my beer swilling loved ones! Gotta make sure they have fun! Something simple, no big fancy prancy wedding for me, just simple and about love!
Cars, well...... we'd be spoilt for choice! But my first purchase would be a 21 split screen safari VW bus for my Dad - its his dream! And to finally buy him one instead of memorabilia would be amazing. A pink bug for me, not the cacky new shape, a good old original! A nice big family car. A Lotus Elise for my play toy. And whatever the fella wants (that could take a while for him to decide!).
I'd buy my Dad a house and my Mum and Brother one too.... And put some money into a trust fund for my brother, cause he sure as hell aint getting it from anywhere else, theres a recession you know! lol
And a big massive family holiday, taking all the kids to Disneyland in America, doing the full works, spoiling them rotten, cause after all they deserve it.
Oh and I'd want a big fat spending spree in New Look, wow thats an exciting thought!
I'd put a fair amount into trust funds for the kids that they couldnt touch until they were 18 or 21 - that way they would hopefully be sensible enough to set themselves up too!
And depending how much I'd won, I'd love to open a decent nightclub! We have none here, just cacky clubs that the 16 year olds 'grace'... I'd open up somewhere stylish and affordable and get some world class dj's on to play! Its been a dream of mine for years!
Now I really must start buying tickets again, otherwise I'll definately never win lol