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terrible customer service - Advantages: it works most of the time, 'dumbed-down' (if that's your thing), freephone customer line - Disadvantages: they keep you in queue for ages, deal with problems unprofessionally, rude customer service assistants
inquisitive companion - Advantages: inexpensive to maintain, easy to look after, cute and fun - Disadvantages: short life span, nocturnal (unless you are too!), they sometimes flick their 'waste' out of the cage!
Going against the grain, I have to say that my experience with o2 has been thoroughly positive. Having been a pay-as-you-go Virgin Mobile customer for a couple of years, I decided it was time for a change. Like others, I felt that I had ?outgrown? p-a-y-g ? in the sense that I was using my phone a lot more than most non-contract users too and I wasn?t getting particularly good value for money. Despite the fact that the texts were only 10p (as opposed to 12p on most standard network p-a-y-g tariffs) and just 3p if you sent to another Virgin user, the calls were generally quite expensive and I was paying at least £30 a month. I knew that if I converted to a contract phone, chances are I would get a much better deal and would probably get an up-to-date handset thrown in too. The Changeover to O2 Online 100 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Changing over to a contract mobile from p-a-y-g was painless and actually quite enjoyable. Although becoming an Orange customer initially appealed to me, I soon realised that my choices were restricted due to the rural location of my home and hence the reception quality was a key deciding factor. Fortunately my fiancé is very much ?in the know? about communications technology, and he soon tracked down a brilliant online tariff for me with o2 ? namely Online 100 (http://shop.o2.co.uk/choosetariffs). This tariff offers 100 inclusive minutes to any network any time of day, 500 inclusive WAP minutes, up to 1MB of data allowance and most importantly, 500 free text messages (or 125 media messages [e.g. pictures])! As someone who primarily uses their mobile for text messaging, this seemed a brilliant offer. If I had used 500 text messages using my Virgin deal it would have cost me £50, so I figured that it was worth signing up for the text messages alone! Selecting the
tariff and choosing a mobile was relatively easy as I knew pretty much what I wanted in advance. I chose a Sony Ericsson T630 as it was the updated version of the T610 ? which my fiancé had ? and I knew it was a handset that I liked and would get on with. I opted for next-day delivery which I paid just less than four pounds for ? there is a cheaper option but then you don?t have the luxury of specifying the delivery date. And sure enough, the next day my mobile arrived (the credit check evidently having passed without hitch!) so I excitedly unwrapped the bundle and plugged the phone into the charger immediately. The Service ~~~~~~~~~ I have nothing but good things to say about the service that I have received, but then I haven?t as yet (touch wood!) had any problems. My case was perhaps a very straightforward one: there were no glitches with my credit checking and I didn?t want to have my number transferred from my old SIM (always a good way to prevent old flames getting in touch anyway!) I am aware that others? experience of O2 hasn?t been quite so positive, but I am hoping that I won?t find the same thing once I need some help. The reception I get is excellent, and the only time I find that the signal sometimes dips is when I am on the train cross-country ? and this is the same for most networks I think. As my contract is an online-only deal, my account is managed online ? where I can look up old bills, my latest bill and even unbilled usage (although this takes a while to be updated). I find it all very easy to use, and was very impressed by the fact that I can monitor my usage throughout the month ? and thus ensure that I stay within the £25 tariff. All in all, I?m a happy customer :o).
I have to say that I am not a big fan of Rimmel cosmetics. Any initial warm-glow that is generated through the apparent money-saving benefits are soon scuppered by the poor quality of the make-up ? and I don?t see anything good or beneficial about that! Today however, when I called into my local Lloyds Pharmacy I noticed a product that caught my eye on the Rimmel display counter. Put it down to my sweet tooth or my occasional craving for something ostensibly feminine (?cause I have to be honest, most of the time I resist anything which I feel I am buying to fulfil my gender role?) but Rimmel?s JELLY GLOSS sheer lipgloss (yes, it calls for caps!) transcended any quasi-feminist concerns and became an instant hit with me. Usually priced at 3.49 for 10ml (0.34 fl oz), it is currently on offer for a pound less at 2.49, which I think is an absolute bargain and worth every penny. The variety I chose was coloured a sexy pink (040 Moreish) and looked much better than the other two, one of which was a shade of orange (I kid you not!) and the other a sort of frosty-white. I must admit to have being partly seduced by the packaging; it?s a sleek, funky tube which stands on its applicator end (which is slanted like a lipstick for glide-on application) and is complete with fashionable bubbly lower case lettering. This is complemented by a shiny futuristic silver horizontal strip across the top, with the cute silver lips just beneath the Rimmel slogan - very Babylon Zoo-esque (for those of you who remember him!) The substance itself is thankfully non-sticky and though it smells wonderful (like a decent shampoo should) it doesn?t taste quite so delightful?It?s not that it?s not sweet or makes your eyes water or anything, but it?s certainly not worthy of the ?delicous? label it is awarded in the blurb on the
back of the tube. Despite the loud colour it didn?t look too crazy on my luscious smakers and stayed on for a decent length of time. My hair didn?t cling to it either! So my advice: if you can get some whilst it?s on offer, grab it, otherwise (unless you?re a gloss addict) give it a miss. Oh, and one last thing, give your lips a gentle exfoliating with a toothbrush first ? there?s nothing worse than glossy unkempt lips?
I?m not an expert on eating disorders, and nor do I pretend to be. I have, however, witnessed first-hand the plight of my sister as she agonises over the fat/calorie content of the food that she may or may not (in her case the latter is most likely) consume. And it saddens me. Greatly. Because we all only have one life, and to spend it constantly feeling so bad about food, about how we behave, and about ourselves is so so wrong. I am not saying that my sister is entirely to blame for the way she chooses to live her life; I do not doubt the damaging effect that our constant exposure to media images of the impossibly thin ?perfect? body has, and I am sure that her less-than-supportive school friends played some small part in her obsession with being thin, but then I also hope that we can all find something within ourselves to overcome all this. I do not find it easy to be happy with my own body, I must be honest. There is not a day that goes by when I do not think about what I am/have been eating and when I do not stand naked in front of the mirror in some attempt to work out whether I look OK or not. My fiancé assures me that I am beautiful and have nothing to worry about, but it?s so easy to put yourself down; to criticise, despise and hate the fat that you see as representative as some sort of failing on your part. We all want to have the ideal BMI and look great all the time, but unless you don?t have a job, work out all the time and constantly eat the right foods this probably isn?t going to happen. What is more important is wellbeing in one?s self, to have faith and to love one?s self is not easy but it is vital. Eleanor Roosevelt once said that ?no one can make you feel inferior without your consent? (?This Is My Story,' 1937) and I like to think that there is some truth in that.
Lavender is not one of the most well-known and well-loved herbs for nothing: it?s versatile, it?s easy to grow and more importantly, it relaxes you. Its name derives from the Latin ?lavare? (?to wash?) as it was a key bathing ritualistic herb for the Romans, and its influence is no less powerful today. It can be used in cooking, in the home and medicinally. Chemically, the active ?ingredients? in lavender are the ethers of linalyl and geranyl, geraniol, linalool, cineol, d-borneol, limonene, l-pinene, caryophyllene, the esters of butyric acid and valerianic acid, and coumarin. All of these constituents change in proportion however, depending on the variety of the plant and the conditions in which it is grown. Growing Lavender ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Lavender is a relatively easy plant to grow and you do not need gardening expertise to produce a thriving bush. Its main requirements are alkaline, well-drained soil (it does not like to get ?wet feet?) and plenty of sunshine. One particular variety that I have grown successfully and that is abundant in garden centres at the moment is Butterfly or Spanish Lavender (Lavandula stoechas), although the most common type is Lavandula officinalis, also known as Lavandula angustifolia or Lavandula vera. Lavender can be grown from seed or you can simply purchase a small plant ? during the growing season it will soon develop into a thriving bush. It is worth bearing in mind however that it is not particularly well suited to growing indoors and so should be planted outside. Lavender cross-pollinates very easily, and you may find that if you have several different plants new varieties will soon appear. Aromatherapy ~~~~~~~~~~~ Lavender essential oil is extracted by steam distillation from the fresh flowering tops and it is one of the few oils that is included in the British Pharmacopoeia.
85;sed with carrier oil, it is often used as a massage aid, and works well alone or complemented with marjoram and/or rosemary. It is an excellent resource as it is one of the few essential oils that can be applied directly to the skin (although this is not advisable unless you have some experience of aromatherapy) and very few people develop allergic reactions to the substance. In fact, it is renowned for working well on burns, insect bites and blemishes, and was used as a back-up during the First and Second World Wars when medical supplies became scare. IMPORTANT: in terms of safety, lavender should be avoided in the first trimester of pregnancy, some say this is due to an emmenagogue action. It should also not to be used with preparations containing iron and/or iodine. Uses ~~~~ A few drops of lavender essential oil can be dropped in bathwater or put some pulverised flower spikes in a square of muslin sewn at the edges and use as a body scrubber for a wonderful-smelling exfoliator. If you have trouble sleeping, or need something to calm your nerves before you sleep, place lavender near or in your pillow or put a few drops of essential oil on the cover. To keep moths away and to make your clothes smell divine, put sachets in your wardrobe and drawers. Another way to perfume your clothes is to put a few drops of essential oil in the rinse cycle of your washing machine. Lavender can also be around pet beds to deter fleas; simply break up the flower spikes and sprinkle the fragments in the specific area ? when you come to vacuum this up later it has the added benefit of re-releasing the fragrance. Cooking ~~~~~~ Believe it or not, lavender can be used in cooking and people use it to make everything from lavender honey and tea to lavender lemonade! Such culinary delights might not be to everyone?s tastes, but it is certainly
worth trying everything once. Below is a simple recipe for lavender cookies, which are quick and easy to make: Lavender Cookies 2 eggs 1/2 cup margarine 1 cup sugar 1 teaspoon lavender leaves 1 1/2 cups flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt confectioner's sugar rosewater Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put eggs, margarine, sugar and lavender into a blender and run on low until well mixed. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Add other ingredients and stir until well blended. Drop dough a teaspoon at a time on to ungreased cookie sheets. Bake until lightly browned. Blend enough rosewater into the confectioner?s sugar to make a smooth frosting. Ice the cookies and let them set until frosting is firm. So to sum up, it is not hard to see why lavender is so popular and why it has been so useful to people throughout the ages. No longer the reserve of the stereotypical elderly lady with lavender scented perfume, it is something that can benefit all walks of people and quite rightly boasts a reputation as the perfect tonic to the stresses of modern life. Capital letters courtesy of: http://www.chuckleweb.co.uk/fixit.php
Though I didn’t grow up with a copy of RT furnishing the coffee table, it feels like an integral part of my culture and it’s a magazine (which is exactly what it is, rather than simply a ‘listings’ periodical) with which I’m completely at home. Critics may argue that it’s overpriced in comparison with similar products on the market, however I believe that it’s unrivalled in terms of its high quality form and content. There’s a new issue each week, which typically appears in shops on the Tuesday or Wednesday before the ‘TV week’ begins (running Saturday-Friday). It retails at 88p, which situates it at the higher end of the market – but I believe it is worth every penny. Full of intelligent, witty and analytical discussion, RT provides local and national coverage of programmes on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, Digital, Satellite, Cable and Radio. Besides this core material however, there are several other interesting feature sections – which this week (2-8th August) are: *Letters *News *Education *Arts *TV Cops *Family *Living *Soap & Flannel *Puzzles *Feedback *One Final Question (always on the last page) The listings themselves are split into three branches; TV, Film and Radio. They are not simply listings, but complete with a succinct description of the programme’s content and if chosen as a ‘choice’ are accompanied by an even more detailed review. These ‘choices’ are a selection of programmes which are selected as the best material to watch/listen to that day. I particularly like the Radio listings, as these are just as colourful as those for the TV and are full of pictures – which of course we are not usually treated to with this particular medium! In short, I would highly recommend the RT to those who enjoy stimulating discussion and don’t want to miss out on the best TV and
Radio programmes. For more information see www.radiotimes.com or for more specific inquiries email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve come across few people who can honestly say that they enjoy looking for a job. Being unemployed can lead one to feel useless, financially insecure and without hope. Speaking from personal experience, I can vouch for the sense of desperation that being unable to find work leaves one with. Although I have not yet aimed to find a long-term permanent position (as I am still training for my planned academic career), I am sure that those who have - and do - can relate to my experience. Whilst there are many different approaches that one can adopt towards seeking employment, I have come to realise that there is one universal strategy that is helpful – that of remaining enthusiastic, hopeful and generally maintaining a positive attitude. Of course, it’s easier said than done, and believe me I’ve had days when I’ve thought that I was never going to find work. It’s easy to take rejections and non-replies to applications personally, but it is so important to put these disappointments behind you and instead focus on the next application. So where should I start? ---------------------------- Well, if you’re reading this then it’s most likely that you have access to the Internet – which is an immensely useful tool in itself. As a starting point, I suggest making a visit to the government’s Jobcentre Plus website: www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk Here you will be able to do many things such as gaining access to help and advice on finding a job, claiming benefits and locate information about organisations which work alongside the Jobcentre Plus in order to get people back into work. I’ve found the most useful component of this site is the ability to search job vacancies anywhere in the UK. Once you find a job which interests you, you simply note down the reference number and then telephone Jobseeker Direct on 0845 6060 234. At the end of the line will be someone who will not
only be able to provide you with further details about the position, but will also be able to offer information about how to apply. Agencies ----------- Besides the government’s own organisation, there are also a growing number of recruitment agencies – branches of which can easily be located in most major city centres. For example, I know that both Sheffield in the North and Birmingham in the Midlands have a vast array of agencies which often advertise some of their vacancies on boards which they place on the pavement outside their offices. I find www.reed.co.uk to be an easy-to-navigate and efficient website, although admittedly I have not found any employment through their services. Local Paper -------------- Perhaps one of the most simple and low-tech ways of identifying new job opportunities is by obtaining a copy of a local newspaper, for example, the Birmingham Evening Mail has hundreds of jobs advertised on a Thursday. Word of Mouth ----------------- It might seem obvious to some, but asking friends, family and people around you if they know of any positions vacant can be an extremely effective way of finding work. Putting Yourself Forward ---------------------------- There’s probably some specific recruitment term for this strategy, and if anyone knows it I’d appreciate some feedback – but for now I’ll stick with my own terms. Basically this approach involves using your initiative and contacting a company/organisation/individual and telling them about your skills and experience (usually compromising of a CV and covering letter) where there is no particular advertised position. Although you might think that there is no point in applying for a job that does not effectively exist, it is actually quite a popular method and I have personally found success by using this technique. Shop Windows ----------------- If you
are sick of being indoors and spending hours on the Internet, get yourself into town and look out for posters in windows. After scouring the net and the local paper, I was amazed to see how many jobs are advertised solely through a shop/office window. Don’t be blind to these opportunities!