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pania22

pania22
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Member since: 13.05.2009

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      20.10.2009 23:48
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      take only photographs, leave only footprints people!

      "Thank God I have the seeing eye, that is to say, as I lie in bed I can walk step by step on the fells and rough land seeing every stone and flower and patch of bog and cotton pass where my old legs will never take me again."

      Beatrix Potter.

      We owe the vast majority of the Lake Districts immaculate preservation to a set of little hardback books. The authoress, if indeed that is the term for a female author, was besotted by animals, their natural form and also the lives that she imagined they led out of human earshot.
      This lady, of course was Beatrix Potter. Originally a young lady with a wildly active imagination and a massive talent for art and story telling originally dismissed by her parents as a flight of fantasy. This long dismissed talent led to Beatrix amassing one of the biggest personal fortunes of her time, allowing her to purchase great swathes of the land that she loved and indulging in her next great passion of sheep farming.
      Rough, Tough and exceptionally knowledgeable, beatrix had a reputation amongst other farmers that lead to her being greatly respected if a little feared!!
      On her death Beatrix bequeathed the entirity of her estate to the National Trust and this land now forms virtually 80% of the national park of the lake district. Trout Beck and Derwent Water form a part of this bequest amongst others.



      "Most people, after one success, are so cringingly afraid of doing less well that they rub all the edge off their subsequent work"

      Beatrix's most famous work, without a doubt, and one that has had the privelege of being translated into hundreds of differeent languages is "The tale of Peter Rabbit"
      One day, young Beatrix, having seen the gorgeous farmhouse and adjoining land by the name of "Hill tops" for sale in her beloved Lake District on a recent family holiday, payed a visit to her accountant to enquire, whether, with a few more books she may be able to afford a house of her own. Naively unaware of her wealth Beatrix was amazed to hear that she could buy ten houses if she wished. Not surprisingly the purchase of Hilltops came not long after!!
      Today Hilltops stands exactly as Beatrix left it, Set out according to her wishes the house is, as a tourist attraction, the jewel in cumbrias crown.
      Situated about 2 miles outside of Hawkshead in a small hamlet named Near Sawry (not to be presumed to be close to far sawry a good 5 miles further down the road!) the house draws thousands of visitors from near and far year round.
      Entering the free car park, the farm outbuildings are still evidently within use today and off limits to visitors. A small hut in the cornor of the car park serves as a ticket office and again this is one of the original outbuildings to the property, I much prefer this to the addition of a purpose built building and it added somewhat to the authenticity of the experience.
      Stepping out of the car park and walking along the road towards the gate is an almost time travelling experience. The hamlet itself retains such character that it is easy to imagine Beatrix and William coming out of their wooden gate and heading off down the road towards their favourite fly fishing spot.
      Entering the gardens in which the house stands and you are immediately greeted with a market garden in front of you. Now here I must be honest, on first siting Hill Tops I was a little underwhelmed at the side that greeted me. The drab grey exterior with a somewhat spartan climbing rose didnt quite match with the country cottage image that I had envisaged. And then I gave myself a damn good talking to. This was an authentic farmhouse to an authentic working farm, that hadnt been lived in for a number of years and had no cause or reason to be spruced up just to appeal to my stereotypical nous. Casting aside any expectations I excitedly headed towards the house awaiting my allocated time to enter.



      "Don't go into Mr. McGregor's garden: your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor"

      Standing outside the house I was met with a truly puzzling site which i still havent got to the bottom of! Mr Mcgregors garden!! absolutely picture perfect, painted wrought iron gate and everything exactly in situ as it is in the book. Now, Peter Rabbit was written while Beatrix was still a resident in South kensington, London, so would have had no knowledge of this garden at all to base her illustrations on. Did Beatrix add this at some point during her life as a tribute to her most famous work? Was it created after her death according to her instruction? I have no idea and internet research leaves this question a mystery. The house was awash with guides. Having one or two also within the garden area would've been a very nice touch indeed.

      Entering the property that remains devoid of the charms of modern life to this day, candle light, dark woodwork and a wallpapered ceiling between the rafters left the atmosphere closed in and a touch oppresive. I could imagine Beatrix sat at her table in the great room, with the rain lashing outside on a dark winters night could've had quite a struggle to read anything at all!
      To my immediate childish excitement I instantly recognised items of furniture that featured in the books illustrations!! the victorian oven from the tale of the pie and the patty pan, the dresser complete with blue and white china from Jemima puddleduck, the rug from "two bad mice" was all there to see! it was like fantasy coming alive in front of my eyes! the downstairs of the house consists of 4 rooms one of which is a tiny scullery, which would be immediately knocked down and extended in todays modern age. All of which contained items of furniture laid out according to Beatrixes wishes. The items continued to look familiar and my jaw gaped further open with each stride.
      Heading upstairs I was sad to see that the stair treads were wearing very thin with the amount of visitors this house has seen. I wonder what lasting effects are being inflicted on this property due to its popularity? I was also amazed to see in this area, several portraits of fox hunting scenes hanging on the panelled walls. Surely our Beatrix, the out and out animal lover wasn't an advocate of fox hunting?

      And then there it was, Tom thumb and hunca muncas house, the dolls house, sat as if it was yesterday that it was last played with. Reminiscent of a bygone age and a symbol of Beatrix's childish innocence that many say she retained until her dying day.

      For me, a life long admirer of her works, visiting Hilltops was an amazing experience and one that I would recommend to anyone. The suthenticity of the display and the retention of the character in the house, grounds and surrounding areas themselves are there to be admired, and preserved in equal measure.

      Wishing to stretch our legs and shake off the closed in feeling of the house we decided to head out for a walk. Lying within a miles walk of the property is moss tarn, a lake on which William and Beatrix used to spend many hours fly fishing, playing about on boats and generally enjoying the scenery. After William, Beatrix's husband passed away, she never again visited the tarn and it is this that I believe she is referring to in the original quote above. Passing through a local farm yard we were soon out in the broad countryside and passing the edge of the tarn. Sat on a rocky precipice overlooking the tarn it was easy to imagine the fly fishing scene in front of us. continuing on we passed through some glorious countryside and a brief area of woodland for about 3 miles before emerging back out onto the road a mile between Hawkshead and Near Sawry.

      overall I feel that a visit to Hill Tops and Near Sawry itself is a must during any visit to the lakes. I felt wholly enchanted by the experience and the short walk was accessible to anyone of a moderate fitness level.
      The house itself had quite ricketty pathways although a disabled access was present via the gift shop. Access to the lower level of the house would only be accesible to wheeelchair users.
      I would say that unless your child was familiar with the works of Beatrix Potter this is a visit that the adults would enjoy more than any children.
      The car park was relatively empty when we arrived but within the 3 hours we spent in teh area was totally packed. However I did visit during the Easter holidays and as such was to be expected.

      The ordnance survey reference for Hilltops is SD370955
      The Postcode for SatNav purposes is LA22 0LF
      Opening hours and prices can be obtained on the national trust website
      All quotations used are freely available across the internet and reproduced from non-copyright websites.

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      • More +
        19.10.2009 19:00
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        gentle hill walking at its finest

        I have always been an outdoors girl, I've never loved anything more than being out and about walking or riding as a child and homework was very rarely able to compete with my yearning for the outdoors. I hadn't been out other than the occasional dabble until very recently when very sadly my friend passed away unexpectedly whilst working as a mountain leader, doing the job he loved in the environment that he loved and, lets face it, the mountains aren't a bad office. Since then I have thrown myself into hill walking, managing most weeks to get out and up a hill of some description in some part of the UK. Not only has this had the effect of improving my fitness it is also a way of feeling close to my friend and keeping him in mind. The peace and space of the hills is amazingly healing and reunites me with the natural world that I feel so at home in.
        It was a result of one of these visits to the hills that I discovered the Clwydian ranges in North Wales and in particular, the highest of the bunch "Moel Famau" or "Mother Mountain" as the welsh translates.
        Markos has already written an astounding review on the park and it isn't my intention to mimic that work here, however I took a different path to the summit than Markos and that path in itself is worthy of a new review.
        To be honest I have always, extremely unfairly I now realise, dismissed North Wales as a kind of walian Bognor Regis, all buckets and spades and penny arcades. I now know that this area is astoundingly beautiful, the towns of Ruthin and Denbigh nestle in the valley at the base of the hill at the west with Mold lying to the east.

        Moel Famau, together with the Loggerheads country park lie just off the A494 Ruthin road out of Mold and easily accessible to the majority of vehicles. Driving along the track I parked at the higher car park that Markos mentioned, also known as the "iron gate car park" and was immediately hit by the feeling that I had returned to a the lake district. A cattle grid and gate bars the path for loose sheep wandering the road, which snakes down through the hills to a picturesque valley below, the sun glinting off the tarmaced surface. I'm making it sound picture book because it really is. The surface of the car park and the pathways leading off and up are covered in stone chippings and give the impression of being suitable for all kinds of weather.
        Standing at the far right hand corner of the car park is the entrance to the final 7 mile stretch of the Offa's Dyke National Trail and it was this path that we followed to the summit of Moel Famau and was a much gentler climb than some of the more hilly routes that really do go straight up!

        I was fortunate enough to visit on a day that was perfectly still and clear with no wind and very low air pressure. This meant that the panoramic views were second to none. I was fortunate enough to be able to see, from the car park, straight across to Snowdon, the Dee and Mersey Estuaries and the wonderfully named "Hope Mountain."
        Due to the time of year the heather that covered the sides of Moel Famau were a gorgeous deep purple in colour and contrasted amazingly with the almost lawn-like areas of cleared heather used for grazing. A part of the hillside from where we were standing looked as though a giant had flicked out a huge green and purple blanket over the rocks below, such was the smoothness of the grass and contrast between that and the heather. The surroundings were simply stunning and as a result I would certainly recommend a visit throughout the autumn months of the year.

        The Offa's Dyke route to the summit winds gently around the outside of the mountain, which leads to a much gentler stroll to the top. Bearing in mind that I visited Moel Famau as a result of my friends idea of a "gentle stroll" whilst I was in the grip of flu, I made it to the top relatively unscathed with just a few short breathers on the many benches that line the path. Due to this I would say that although yes, a bit more than a gentle slope in parts, this path to the top would be suitable for people of many different fitness levels although not suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs unless in a multi-terrain pushchair. The pathway is completely in the open with an amazing view across the valleys throughout. It took me over an hour sans flu to get to the summit and what a picturesque hour it was! The scenery across Wales, the pair of harriers that we watched circling for ages and the Hawk aircraft that zipped down the valley was almost like our own private show. The information boards boast of black grouse within the area but they are very secretive and best seen at dawn or dusk.

        My big big big gripe on the path though is a good amount of puppy piles that inconsiderate and uncaring dog owners had failed to pick up. I am immensely for keeping areas accessible to dog walkers and this area is prime for an amazing walk with your dog (must be kept on the lead due to afore mentioned lambkins) but this area will be closed to dog walkers unless this issue is addressed. I do not recall seeing a dog bin within the car park area and perhaps this will encourage owners to do the honourable thing.

        The summit stands at 554metres and boasts the remains of the Jubilee Tower, built to commemorate the golden jubilee of George 3rd in the highest location in the region. The somewhat phallic design of the monument coupled with the fact that he built it on the highest point of the highest most visible mountain somewhat indicates the size of dear King George's ego I fear. Unfortunately his marvellous erection was somewhat truncated during a storm and the ruins are all that remain.
        Standing atop the ruin, closing my eyes, the peace that I could feel was immense. Only at the top of such a hill, out of prying public eyes and the hustle and bustle of life does the meaning of the term "silence is golden" truly take on meaning.

        I sat, I closed my eyes, I listened to nothing, and truly felt relaxed.




        Moel Famau is a designated area of natural beauty and part of the Offa's Dyke National trail. It is free to enter but car parking is a pound, essential for the maintenance of this grassland habitat.

        Public transport runs from Mold and Ruthin to the bottom of the lane leading to Moel Famau, this would mean an additional 2 miles to walk to the base of the Offa's Dyke, although other paths are available for varying abilities. For further information on other trails please see the review by Markos.

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        • More +
          18.10.2009 18:16
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          a book everyone that is involved with dogs should read

          "The dog family, to me, is the most interesting family in all animal life outside the family of man himself. In many ways he is much like man, so much so that we can study our own behaviour best by studying the behaviour of dogs."

          Clarence Pfaffenberger, 1963

          At the age of 21, all grown up, engaged and owning my own house I decided that the time was right for me to finally indulge in my dream of owning my very own dog. Fast forward through RSPCA visit, falling in love, coercion of other half, house check and purchase of more items than deemed necessary for the arrival of a k9 pal (think "more like arrival of a newborn baby" and you'll be on the right lines!) to the arrival of an 8 year old GSD named Crystal to our home.
          When we visited her we were advised that she had been in kennels for over a year, she had been rehomed once and returned to the centre when she "snapped at" the owners adult son. However the son admitted he had cornered her so our concerns weren't overly raised.
          Had I have known better the alarm bells would've rung. Poor crystal turned out to have more mental issues than bronson, hannibal and the two guys in twelve monkeys put together and me, being a completely novice dog owner, took barbara woodhouse to the nth degree therefore making the problem miles worse and being completely unable to help her. A few years later and darling Crystal was no longer with us and I developed a very intense interest into canine behaviour and training to prevent other dogs going through what my lovely lady had done at my hands.

          Enter Mr John Fisher. John was a professional canine behaviourist, who, throughout the 80's aimed to revolutionise the human understanding of dogs and eradicate as far as possible the old woodhouse mindset of "punishment leads to obedience". His education led to dog owners looking into the mindset of the dog and understanding why he acted in a certain way. The emphasis being on how to turn that behaviour into a positive from a negative. I've always advocated a sympathetic approach to all animals and would not feel right "punishing" a creature for not doing my bidding so this nature of training certainly appealed.

          The first book I read was "think dog". Divided into 3 parts I found the book to be packed with information on canine psychology and behaviour. the first part, entitled "what is a dog?" would probably make you think "eh? of course i know what a dog is!what is the old fool on about!" Reading on further it becomes apparent that the answer to this question isnt so simplistic. Talking us through the early stages of canine history and the scientific evidence of the link between wolf and dog, Fisher covers in great detail the development of a pup from birth to 4 years of age. How dogs learn, thought patterns, emerging dominance, how to test a litter of pups for dominant through to submissive characteristics and how this translates to their position within their social group ie our household.
          Accompanying each chapter is a useful, lightly written case study that underpins the content of the chapter. Anecdotal and frequently amusing, Fisher does an excellent job of relaying his day to day experiences and this only enhances the appeal to the book.

          The second section "Training problems for dog owners" gives an instant shelf level grab reference for any problems that a dog owner is experiencing in an attempt to gain a pointer towards the underlying cause and exercises that may be done to put your relationship back on track.*
          For experienced handlers and trainers this section of the book becomes a handy reference and "nudging post" to refresh your memory in the event of a tricky case. I am reading the book again as I have to see an exceptionally dominant, challenging collie over the next few days who is proving a little hard to figure out. I am convinced that the problem is dietary related but the owner will not agree and change the diet so a copy of an excerpt from the "Dietary Problems"chapter may well back my theory and convince her to change.
          *NB: A book does not replace professional assistance, only guidance!!

          The third and final part of the book is an A-Z of typical problems faced by dog owners and again provides a very handy pointer as to the root cause along with a handy tip on what action may be taken to rectify the problem. Again a good quick reference or referesher guide for all owners and trainers.

          ***My opinion***

          Please note first and foremost this is not a book that will teach you how to train your dog to sit or lay down or come. BUT it will give you an amazing insight into WHY your dog will perform these behaviours for you and become a valued part of your family. Working very strongly on the theory of ignore bad praise good, Fisher's case studies demonstrate that force and punsihment does not need to form a part of our training regimes.
          This book is only 176 pages long and as a result doesnt feel as biblical and hard going as many of the canine psychology door stops present in the marketplace. Fisher wrote in a light, refreshing and easy to understand style, devoid of the use of jargon and without a lecturous manner. I fully recommend this book as an educational read for people looking to learn more about their pets, through to a useful reference for trainers and experienced handlers alike.

          The book is currently out of print but is available on amazon for £5.99 new or £4.00 used. Other smaller backstreet bookstores are able to order the book for the general retail price of £9.99.

          ISBN 1-84403-120-9

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          • mazumamobile.com / Internet Site / 38 Readings / 38 Ratings
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            12.10.2009 19:48
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            I wish I had another phone to send them, I could do with some rapid cash!

            Lets face it. All day long we are bombarded with tv adverts that yell at us "WE BUY CARS" (that advert is still stuck in my head and probably will be for the remainder of my living days) "WE BUY GOLD" and "WE BUY PHONES!!!" My previous experience of some of these companies is that they should have "and completely rip you off into the bargain!" added after their somewhat catchy slogans. I have taken jewellery to a pawn brokers and been offered £20 for a ring with a second hand resale value of £200 (after an extremely embarrassing incident on the way there asking an innocent bystander "can you tell me where the pawn shop is please?." I was greeted with the response of "Why the hell do you think i'd know where one of those shops is!!!" I looked at her in a somewhat bemused fashion until my tiny brain made the connection between pawn and porn, the poor dear thought I was off shopping for a wobbly phallus and that her mode of attire had led me to believe she shopped there frequently! muttering a hurried explanation I shuffled off and decided to be more specific with my request next time. anyway I digress.) so therefore I had very little faith that when I contacted a mobile phone trading company I would come out with a good deal in anyway shape or form. How wrong I was!!

            So why use a site like mazuma?

            Well, Besides the obvious benefit here of getting cash from trading in an old phone, from an environmental perspective we are doing the world a massive favour by recycling and reusing as many phones as possible. It is a very sad fact today that the need to keep up with the current "trend" of mobile phone, to have the latest applications or the highest megapixel camera will lead to 50,000 mobile phone handsets being upgraded this year alone* Over an hour messing around with google trying various combinations of words and search terms does not reveal the chemical composition of a typical mobile phone. Funny that, I am pretty sure the mobile phone companies dont wish this information leaking into the public domain. But just think about it. 50,000 mobile phones full of plastic, ceramic, metal, solder, and other compounds winding up in landfill each year... Nasty thought hey. Mazuma prevents this happening by recycling as many mobile phones as possible for use in developing countries.

            Mobile phones have transformed the lives of many third world residents. Until recently a mobile phone in the third world was an object of wonder, something to be gazed at and possesion to be dreamed of. Something only the very rich could afford to buy. I have often wondered whether the mobile phone is the scourge of the planet and maybe in the western world that is true. But in the third world the advent of mobile phone technology has truly transformed some peoples lives. Websites reveal stories of a mobile phone, purchased with the aid of a microloan and let to neighbours to make calls allowing a lady to pay her childrens school fees and build a subsidary business herself. Or to allow members of a remote village to check availability of medication at a pharmacy prior to making the long trek to fetch them.
            In these cases mobile phones havent become the objects of convenience, fun and perma-net access, but lifelines and means of income without which poverty would again rule.
            Much better than being in a landfill site dontcha think? Mazuma's business is to refurbish mobile phones and provide them to charities for disribution across third world countries. Where the handset is beyond economical repair Mazuma ensures that the handset is dismantled and disposed of safely with no adverse effect on the environment.
            *Data source, Mazuma Website

            How much will I get for my phone?

            Well that depends. Basically the older the handset the less you will get for it. again if it is damaged or inoperative then payment will be minimal. Mazuma quote on their website payments up to £200 but to be honest this is really only for iphones or the very latest phone model. I traded in a Nokia 5800, a relatively new nokia phone for which I acheived a trade in value of £98. I did consider this to be slightly low compared to my perceived value of the phone but a quick search of other trade in sites such as envirophone revealed that this was the highest amount being offered. Mazuma also offer Argos vouchers as a form of payment for which you will receive a higher amount by approximately £10. My partner took this offer as he considered it helpful for christmas spending.

            The Mazuma Service

            Quite simply I dont have enough platitudes to hand to pour on this company. Simply amazing!!! Logging onto their website you are welcomed by a light bright page with a clear box inviting you to "see how much its worth" Clicking on the model you've selected the values offered are clearly set out below with a large "add to basket" clicky underneath. Popping in the IMEI number you are taken to a page to provide your name and address and then bobs your uncle.
            I received a freepost sealable envelope within 24 hours of placing my "order" as mazuma call it. Outstanding! I popped my phone in and posted it on a friday afternoon. On monday I received 2 confirmation emails, one confirming receipt and the other stating that my cheque had been dispatched. The next day I received a cheque for £98. Now I have used other sites before now but this site is, to me, the cream of the crop.

            Security

            I was initially concerned surrounding the ability to trade stolen phones on this site. The terms and conditions reveal that the site uses a system that identifies handsets reported as stolen to providers and will block and refuse any phones identified as stolen.
            The one security that I remain baffled by though is if the phone is stolen in the post. There didnt appear to be any proof of postage so that I could show I had sent it in to them. I've emailed mazuma on this issue and am awaiting a response!

            My Opinion

            All in all completely outstanding, The easy to follow website, the quick delivery of the envelope and the quick receipt of the cheque makes mazuma in my book second to none. The fact that they offered the highest amount for my phone and also the option of argos vouchers simply sealed the deal

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            • doglost.co.uk / Local Service / 28 Readings / 27 Ratings
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              01.10.2009 15:38
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              Microchipping, the gift your dog would choose if it had a voice

              Many dog owners out there know the fear of loosing their beloved companion, whether it is through death, straying or theft. Conversely many owners also believe "it won't happen to me, I'm far to responsible an owner to allow that to happen."
              I work for a local constabulary and can tell of numerous tales where home owners have reported their pet stolen from the garden or scared into bolting by a loud noise or smell when out on a walk.
              Happily the advent of micro-chipping has lead to many animals being reunited with their owners after only a very short time but this, of course, requires your pet to be chipped, with up to date information held and also caught in order to be reunited. With 7903 lost and abandoned canines entering the care of the RSPCA alone during 2008 and numerous more into the care of independent rescue organizations this clearly doesn't happen on every occasion.

              I first came across the "dog lost" website when dealing with an exceptionally distressed owner who's beloved staffie had been stolen from her garden whilst on a shopping trip. Desperate to help I took her number and said I'd help as much as I could.
              A quick google reveals the "doglost" website, an exceptionally simple and easy to navigate site that allows you to report missing and found dogs, print posters and provides information on laying a scent to encourage your dog to stay in the area.

              So what is unusual about this site then? Surely there are numerous sites that do this? Well, yes they are. But the unique selling point with Doglost is the sheer passion and effort that the area co-ordinators put into reuniting canine and owner. No effort is too much to locate your dog with adverts frequently placed in "Countryman's Weekly" and local press by the site to enhance your chances of locating your pet. The Co-ordinators are in frequent contact with the animal's owner via e-mail and telephone both in and out of working hours. It is evident from the site that all people working for the site genuinely care about getting the dog home. Doglost also boasts a massive register of helpers across the nation, all of whom check the site regularly and offer any assistance as is necessary whether this be distributing posters in the local area, placing traps or simply spreading the word.

              ***Dog Lost***

              If you are unfortunate enough to have lost your dog a very quick and simple registration allows you to place your dog as "lost" on the site.
              Following registration a click on the red lost tab followed by a click on "add a missing dog" will bring up a form allowing you to input all of your dogs details, location, markings, microchip details and photographs. Once this has been submitted to the site the co-ordinators quickly contact you and sort out posters etc for free distribution. The Forum facility underneath each lost dog provides testament to the amount of effort that goes in to reuniting dog and owner and you will quickly find offers of help from local members to find your dog along with other helpful numbers to call.

              ***Found dogs***

              The found dog section of the site just goes to demonstrate how vital identification for your dog can be and this is something that I could not support highly enough. This section of the site is awash with dogs lucky enough to be found by a caring member of public but not able to be reunited due to no one knowing whom they are!
              Found dogs that enter local authority care are subject to a holding period of a minimum of 7 days to be claimed. Beyond this the local authority kennels do not have any legal obligation to take care of your dog further and are at liberty to re-home or destroy your pet, sadly in the case of elderly dogs, those requiring medication or breeds that are less easy to re-home, the latter is often the case. Please please people, for the cost of about £20 or less, save yourselves this heartache and get your dog chipped!

              ***Dogs Reunited***

              Definitely a section of the site to move you to tears. Here you can find tales of dogs that have been reunited with their loving owners and read the forums that show how much teamwork goes in to the site. Occasionally there are dogs reunited via "Rainbow Bridge" and these are dogs that sadly didn't make it back home. Again the support that the owners get from the site in these circumstances is amazing.

              So, to conclude, if you've suffered the loss or theft of your dog, check out the site. If you care about animals and think you may be able to assist with distributing posters or even just keeping your eye out for dogs that are missing in your area, check out the site. Maybe, if everyone works together more pets will be reunited with their loving but frantic owners.

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              • Pet Bereavement / Discussion / 57 Readings / 54 Ratings
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                02.09.2009 19:04
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                sorry for breaking the rules... didnt mean to

                Ooops, It would appear I broke site rules. very very sorry. edited!!!

                Inspired by the wonderful Goosey's review I wanted to share a poem with you that I often look at and is in a photo frame to think of my beautifully departed pets, and humans for that matter. I often have to search hard on the net to find this poem so I dont think it many of you will have seen it but it is certainly thought provoking. Whatever your belief it makes you feel that somewhere around you your loyal companion is still there.

                When we lost our beloved Raph I felt on a whole number of occasions that he was still around us, little things he used to do that seemed to still happen. Little things like sneaking upstairs in the small hours of the morning and pushing the door open with his nose, on numerous occasions I woke to find our previously shut bedroom door open. When we were out walking his favourite walk I often thought I could see him from the corner of my eye. Sitting down at the computer one day I was looking at sites for "rainbow bridge". This is a mythical place that our deceased pets pass over to, at the end of a bridge that leads to heavens gates. There they wait for their human companions to pass and join them on the last leg of the journey. There are numerous poems about the bridge and intermingled with them was this stunner of a poem. I am a believer in the afterlife. I am a believer in the spirit world and get a lot of comfort from this. Reading this poem I had tears streaming down my cheeks but felt astoundingly happy at the same. It made so much sense and I felt that Raphie was still around us and was keeping us company and looking after us. I have had many pets throughout my life and when I think of one of them I also think of this poem. Smiling, I allow the memory to pass.

                I stood by your bed last night, I came to have a peep.
                I could see that you were crying, You found it hard to sleep.
                I whined to you softly as you brushed away a tear,
                "It's me, I haven't left you, I'm well, I'm fine, I'm here."

                I was close to you at breakfast, I watched you pour the tea,
                You were thinking of the many times your hands reached out to me.

                I was with you at the shops today, Your arms were getting sore.
                I longed to take your parcels, I wish I could do more.

                I was with you at my grave today, You tend it with such care.
                I want to reassure you that I'm not lying there.

                I walked with you towards the house, as you fumbled for your key.
                I gently put my paw on you, I smiled and said "it's me."

                You looked so very tired, and sank into a chair.
                I tried so hard to let you know that I was standing there.

                It's possible for me to be so near you everyday.
                To say to you with certainty, "I never went away."

                You sat there very quietly, then smiled, I think you knew ...
                In the stillness of that evening, I was very close to you.

                The day is almost over... I smile and watch you yawning
                and say "goodnight, God bless, I'll see you in the morning."

                And when the time is right for you to cross the brief divide,
                I'll rush across to greet you and we'll stand, side by side.

                I have so many things to show you, there is so much for you to see.
                Be patient, live your journey out ... then come home to be with me.

                I hope you get some comfort from it to. xxx

                I have checked and can't find any copyright so hopefully not breaking any rules for posting this here. If I am let me know and I shall hold a deletion. I would love to be able to credit the author here but sadly the author is unknown.

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                • Gillette Fusion / Shaving & Grooming / 35 Readings / 34 Ratings
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                  31.08.2009 16:13
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                  venus schmenus! head for fusion fun!

                  So what am I doing reviewing a male razor!! have I gone nuts? is it an error? nope not at all. Let me tell you all a little story. Waking up the other morning, well i say the other morning it was rather more quite a few months ago, I was in the shower and noticed that my legs had reached levels of stubblyness never yet surpassed. A trouser day i soon decided casting a swift eye at the bathroom clock. As I am sure all you laydees know, we do not want our other halves to discover us, at any time in the relationship with anything less than silky smooth pins. women don't grow leg hair noooonononono and I knew that pretty soon him indoors would discover my horrifying yeti-esque secret.
                  Luckily by the time I arrived it was rather late and I had worked for 12 hours, feigning need for a shower I courted the possibility of visiting dumpville and stole my mans razor, braver ladies than I have been to the gallows for less!! Said razor was afore mentioned "Gillete Fusion" sat in its holder on the edge of the bath.
                  I have over the years, tried all methods of hair removal and permanently searched for the holy grail of razors. I've tried Tesco disposable razors for £1 a bag through to "i'm your venus, your legs on fire, shredded skin is your desire" razors that went straight in the bin, such a waste of £7 pound.

                  **** The cutting edge****
                  So stealing the boyfs manrazor I had exceptionally low expectations! Gillette Fusion razors come in a number of different guises, there is the "fusion power" that vibrates as it is shaving, and the "Fusion Gamer" that I am still trying to find out about. But it is the basic blue and silver Fusion that I am reviewing here.

                  Holding the fusion I can feel that it is more weighty than most razors but feels extremely comfortable in my hand. the rubber ridges on the handle make it very easy to grip, even when wet and slippery with gel. The head has 5 blades sited very close together with a ridged rubber guide that lifts the hairs for a close shave. The head is exceptionally innovative in as much as it pivots forward as well as back, handy for those dodgy boney bits! The back of the razor has a single blade for "precision shaving" but as I didn't have any parts that required "precision shaving" I can't comment on this function.

                  ****A Close Shave****

                  From the first stroke I was absolutely amazed at how smooth the blades were and how close the cut was to my skin. I find with usual female razors that I quite often have to cover the same patch twice to get the job done. My shins and calves were completely free of nicks but my legs felt completely smooth. Then we came to the bony bits of my ankles and knees, usually my nemesis that looks at the end that I have had a close call with Zorro's sword. Not so with the "fusion." As mentioned previously the razor is set on a head that pivots according to the lie of the skin. Although, obviously care is required, I was amazed at how easy it was to get into the little nooks and crannies that always with me manage to retain a little patch of missed stubble or two. The razor glided over my knees and the shave remained as close as it had on the smoother areas of skin.
                  The cartridge (as Gillete calls it) has a lubricator strip above the blades that both a) releases a moisturising gel after the blade has passed across the skin and b) fades with colour to indicate when the razors are starting to blunt and the cartridge should be replaced. I found that this left my legs silky to the touch after the skin had been dried. I also found that the head was very easy to rinse and a simple waft under the shower head was all that was required to keep the blade hair free.

                  After such a successful leg shave, I decided to put the razor to the ultimate test with the bikini-line blitz! It raced over my delicate skin without a hesitation, left me with none of that half shaved bumpy rashy look that prevails amongst bikini lines across the country. In short, I now will not use any other razor. The men, as so rarely happens (;o) ) have on this occasion got it right and their shaving range beats ours hands down. The holy grail was allegedly just a myth. I beleive i have found it. Looking through some reviews the Fusion doesn't appear to have taken the male shaving market by storm, maybe they dont have a big enough expanse of skin for it to work at its best. Maybe Gillette need to make it pink and call it the pluto or something and market it as a female razor. All I will say is I can't recommend it more highly to my fellow female shavees.

                  ****So How Much Will This Rameses of Razors Cost?****

                  In short, it varies!!!! Boots sell them for £9.70. They are advertised on ebay for £6.99 (authenticity not known) and amazon brand new for £3.89.

                  The cartridges (heads) vary between £4.98 for a single head, to £14.99 on amazon for a pack of 8. I'm sure you don't need me to point out which is the more cost effective.

                  I gave the blade a quick wash and stepped out of the shower, dried the handle off and very carefully placed it back in its holder on the bath rack at exactly the same angle it was discovered. To this day nothing has been mentioned so I can only assume that my crime as yet lies undiscovered. I dried myself off, My lovely smooth silky female legs were revealed, and the rest, as they say, is history ;o)

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                • More +
                  27.08.2009 22:21
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                  DO NOT buy from puppy farms, ALWAYS ask to see the parents. If they arent there, go elsewhere!!!

                  As I sit here at my computer at my mums, Down by my feet lies a little white ball of now, rather aged, white fluff. My little ghostly shadow who sticks permanently by my side all the time I am visiting. If I speak honestly this little white ball of fluff is a main reason for me to visit here too. The lamp is on and the soft lighting, along with the way she is laying is reminiscent of an a-typical christmas card. You know the sort, dog curled up in front of blazing fire, stocking hanging expectantly at the side and my heart melts just looking at her.
                  This little white ball of fluff is Heidi, my mothers much loved "leaving a job you've been at for 17 years" present that myself, my sister and my dad presented to mum as a much tinier little white thing over 9 years ago now. Heidi was born about 20 years before she really was. My mother has always loved this white fluffy breed, more commonly by the name of "West Highland White" to the rest of the world. My mother often stated to anyone who asked, or even if you didn't to that matter that one day she would have a little girl westie, and that her name would be Heidi.

                  So let me introduce you to this wonderful breed. The West Highland White, or "westie" as it is affectionately known is a member of the terrier family. The breed originated in the Argylle region of Scotland some time in the 19th century although a specific time is not known. There is a gorgeous quaint story that goes with the colour of the breed, that being that Colonel Malcolm of Argylle's red terrier was out playing in a field one day. The luckless canine was mistaken for a fox and shot by a gameskeeper. Heartbroken, the order was given that every member of the breed must be white in colour so that the same mistake did not happen again. No detail is given on whether any further red members were culled or simply denied a leg over (sorry) but this colour was rapidly eradicated from the breed.
                  Bred originally as rabbit and rat catching animals, this instinct, although curled up at my feet is still deeply ingrained to my little fluffball. Any soon to be owners reading this need to be aware that, train as you might, try as you might, you will not get this trait out of your dog. And trust me they will run. Squirrels, foxes, rabbits, cats, even frogs will be fair target for this hunting breed, give an inch and they will be off for a mile or more across the park determined that "I will catch that bloody squirrel I will I will I will!!!!". Although with good training this trait can be curbed and diverted to more meaningful pursuits.
                  I have had contact with many westies and they always appear to be peaceful little characters that march about your house with an expression of eternal joviality. Their deep brown button eyes imparting an inherant air of mischief that always makes you wonder if the washing machine did indeed swallow the sock or if it was stolen while your back was turned. They are a breed that loves the company of humans and are amazingly affectionate. although mother also sites them as being very obsinate when things aren't going their way. As can I apparently, although i don't believe that for a second! ;o)
                  All terrier breeds have a reputation for being hard to train. Not so.. let me tell you that a terrier army marches off its stomach, heidi will sell her soul for a piece of cheese, hamish (down the road) would give you his last farthing for a lump of liver.. "sorry, do that for a toy?!? don't blimmin think so!" is the only translation i could put behind the look I was given when I decided Heidi would be a "toy orientated" dog. This in itself makes them very easy to train. Keep it short and sweet, tailor it to the dog you are working with, find their motivator and the results will very quickly appear. Training also provides the westie, who is rather active and exercise loving, to tire themselves mentally, meaning less walkies required for the hapless humans. Generally though, our cheeky fellas would thank you for 2 walks per day of a good couple of miles.

                  Grooming wise the Westie has 2 coats, a coarser longer "outer coat" and a warmer, waterproof tightly packed "under coat" shedding roughly twice a year the Westie is a breed that isnt going to rapidly turn your dark carpets white, or your best work trousers hairy. They do however grow their outer coat rapidly which can lead to a look of the littlest hobo if they are not groomed regularly. The Westie is supposed to sport a facial hair do that looks makes their face look like a chrysanthemum, and the tail a carrot. Honestly, its true. with short tidy back hair and a "skirt" that traces just off the ground. In practicality unless you are planning to show, it is easier to keep the "skirt" just a couple of inches long. else removing the mud from a wriggling fur ball becomes stressful for the dog and, well, rather damp actually for the handler!! the average dog (sorry heidi, using you as an example but your not average by any means!) requires clipping 4 times a year, with the cost varying between £12-£20. It is always adviseable to find a groomer that can do this by hand and not rely on electric clippers as the result tends to be much smoother and more even.

                  Budget wise heidi's family arent that expensive to keep. Heidi is fed on Ceasar dog food, admittedly not my food of choice but she seems to do fine on it, and has a carton of that and some biccys per day. in total about £3.20 per day to feed. Booster vaccinations per year are essential and should be budgeted at around £50 (depends on practice) per annum and insurance is a must also, around £15 per month depending on company/age/location/previous health issues etc.

                  I have 2 nieces, one of 5 and one of 2. I have to mention that when they were younger and fast moving heidi did take exception to their presence and expressed this vocally. keeping them out of touching distance soon allowed heidi to calm down and she is now fine with them. This is not indicative of the breed in anyway shape or form but illustrates the requirement to introduce any dog to children slowly and calmly and to allow the dog and the child to get used to each other. Aside from this I would have no hesitation introducing a westie into a family environment.

                  Our lovely little white bundle has certainly got slower with the advancement of years, she walks less far, sleeps more and enjoys cuddles more than she ever did. This in no small part is thanks to the dreaded hip dysplacia she was born with. yes big dog lovers it can blight our dinky friends too, so when buying a pup please please ensure to check for a history of this. It isnt routine to hip score smaller breeds although I really do wish that hip scoring for ANY canine that was going to be bred from be made mandatory. aside from this westies are relatively problem free, aside from being slightly prone to contact dermatitis due to their wee stature!

                  So as Heidi sits here beside me, and I look at her with a massive amount of affection, I do not rue the day at all that she entered our lives. Mums dedication to own a member of this lovely breed for some many years was well founded in its loyalty. You would not regret asking a member of the WHW to join your clan.

                  *NB as I ended this review, the massive amount of affection I was looking at her with turned into a cough and splutter due to the smelliest canine fart possible. Do I add this to their bad points??? and as I call her a volley of names I realise that she is old, and I love her. so I'll forgive her.... this time.

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                  • More +
                    23.08.2009 19:02
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                    Nearby or far away, go visit. You wont be disapopointed.

                    Last week I managed to tick a "to do" off my very long list of "to do's". Now, this list grows by the day with things I want to see, do and acheive and places I wish to visit. If i'm lucky I get to tick something off it once a month. This list, seriously, Is getting to be like the comedic scroll in shrek that goes on....and on....and on....and on....and.... ok, you get the idea.

                    This particular "to do" was "visit Ironbridge Gorge." a place I've wanted to go to ever since (and I cringe to admit this) I saw it on Home and Away, back years and years ago in the days of Selina, Damien and Jessie! and I can very happily say that I was not disappointed in even the smallest way.

                    Living in Corby, I was amazed to see that Ironbridge was only 1 hr 45 drive away from me along the M6 and then M54, an amazingly straight forward journey for me. I arranged to meet my friend at Junction 4 off the M54 just outside Telford who was going to lead me in and show me the sights of Ironbridge.

                    Being a country girl I was amazingly impressed with the scenery on the drive in to the gorge and vowed to some day buy the first house that I saw for sale there. The gorge had ample parking at both ends of the high street for tourists and I remarked to my friend many times on the lack of coaches and traffic throughout the town.

                    Arriving at the gorge we parked on the opposite bank to the High Street where we were able to walk across the now pedestrianised famous Iron Bridge.

                    There are numerous websites on the net and reviews on here which give the history of Ironbridge so I would rather focus on what the area has to offer than to repeat this information again so all I will say is "Its got a big bridge, made of iron, over a hole in the ground with a river and was built by a very famous man who liked to play with moulton metal..." right, thats the history bit done! So, after a brief stand on the bridge to peer and appreciate, we headed to a cafe that no englishman would want to miss.. "The Tea Emporium" in the square.

                    This cafeteria is the home of every single tea in the world it would appear, even stating on the menu the recommended maximum brewing time for each variety, at an exceptionally reasonable price for a good old english cuppa I must say compared to many. The courtyard had very tidy wrought iron tables and chairs with a lovely view of the bridge across the street.

                    After kicking our heels for a short while, relaxing after a relatively long drive we decided to head off for our main target, a hill just outside Ironbridge by the name of "The Wrekin" (pronounced reekin)

                    A short drive led us to our destination and following a change into more appropriate footwear headed off up a shady wooded path for what I thought would be a nice gentle stroll to the top of a pleasant hill with pleasant views. And then I woke up.
                    By the first bend in the track I was puffing quite solidly and by the time I was half way up, the back of my thighs and my butt were burning massively, of course I couldnt admit this to my friend who I decided to let think was sweating marginally less than me! (he wasnt. dont tell him)
                    After a half hours brisk walk we reached the summitt at 1500 feet but wow! what a view. The rapidly tightening quads were instantly forgotten as we had panoramic views from the top back across to Ironbridge and miles beyond birmingham, Up to Chester in the north and across to Shrewsbury, the foothills of the welsh mountains and in the far far distance the very hazy outline of snowdon to the west. Simply breathtaking.

                    As we headed back down we stopped at the small outdoor cafe window very considerately opened (I would imagine in a fit of enterprise) by the rangers wife at the rangers cottage where you could purchase soft drinks, ice cream, crisps and tea. There was also a very conveniently placed toilet guarded by the countries least grumpy guard dog tucked just around the corner. Although there were no views from the cafe it allowed us to rest our legs and pass a pleasant ten minutes conversation on the benefits or otherwise of living half way up a stony track in the middle of a wood! well recommended although a medium to good level of fitness would be required to reach the top.

                    Hot, sweaty, thirsty and extremely hungry we decided to head back to Ironbridge and find what it had to offer in the way of food. as you head from the bridge and walk left along the river towards the museum, you will pass the ruin of a smelting furnace on the lopposite side of the road, just a ruin, just standing there, as is ironbridge's way and adds completely to the overall quaintness and feel of the place. Slightly further on you will come to a pub named "the malthouse" and this is where we found a lovely lunch of the best baguettes I've tasted in a long time! and of course the pint of shandy as a reward for a strenuous walk went down a treat to! most definately worth a visit.

                    Ironbridge of course has so many other attractions nearby. There is the Ironbridge museum, detailling a history of the gorge, the iron industry and building of the bridge itself, quite pricey at £20 for an adult, £13 for a child or £55 for a family. An intriguing attraction by the name of "enginuity" where you can test different aspects of electrical engineering, fab for the kids, and a victorian village just a short drive away. Being an outdoors walky kinda girl I didnt test any of these so all I can say is "they are there"

                    To summarise, Ironbridge was everything I expected it to be and not a disappointment in the slightest. A day would not have been long enough for me to spend and see everything it had to offer and I will certainly be going back for more walks, more exploring of attraction and most certainly sampling of different pubs! Charming, Quaint, amazingly scenic and, by virtue of the lack of coaches, yes during the holidays to, really rather peaceful.

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                    • Peace Lily / Plant / 31 Readings / 30 Ratings
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                      23.08.2009 16:00
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                      a gorgeous plant to have around, and a lovely fitting memorial to my 4 lovely people

                      Peace lillies, or spathipyllum to give them their much less attractive name, first came into my life when I visited New Zealand for the first time.
                      These plants grow in NZ with pretty much uncontrolled abandon, the southern hemisphere bluebell equivalent if you would, on a larger, much much larger scale. The plants themselves have very deep green flat leaves that are typically up to 15" long. The white flowers stand on a very long thin deep green stalk well clear of the leaves and are oval shaped with the stamen standing infront of the single petal. A truly breathtaking sight in their natural habitat.

                      My love for these plants came about as a result of a combination of their name, the gorgeous white flower and the happy memories of a gorgeous country that they invoke in me.

                      The name "Peace Lily" arises from the white almost flag like flowers that the plant bears that stand above the parapet of leaves. This is very much like a white flag of truce being waved, hence the "peace" element of the name.
                      Just recently I have suffered the loss of 4 very close friends and family over a 2 month time period. Heading home from the funeral of my close friend on
                      friday I was trying to think of a memorial to them all that I could have close to me that would remind me of my lovely people. I stopped at a services on my way home and in the foyer was a large table full of white potted peace lillies. It was almost as if someone had been reading my thoughts and put them there as an answer to my ponderings. I had been considering budget too and was concerned that I couldn't afford much. All these reasonable sized plants were on offer for £3.99 with a lovely white china pot. Another answer to the question!!

                      I spent my time choosing one and it now has pride of place in my room, surrounded by photos of my family and friends, including those recently lost. It truly makes a lovely memorial.

                      The price that I paid really reflects the need to shop around when purchasing one of these beautiful plants, or any plant to be honest. Garden centres generally have over inflated prices whilst supermarkets and market stalls hold the cheapest, but oddly, the healthiest plants. A delivery service on the net currently has plants for sale for £14.99!!! and i'd love to see the size of the plant that is delivered to!

                      Peace lillies are very easy plants to keep provided that they are kept clean with dusted leaves and well watered, typically when the soil is just dry to the touch. In the wild the peace lilly much prefers a shadowy humid atmosphere away from direct sunlight, generally in the foothills of mountains and edges of woods. Therefore lily would thank you for a position away from the windowsill! the plants flower once every 4 to 12 months, there is nothing you can do to influence how long it is so if it appears that your lily is defunct, be patient with it and you will see the benefits.

                      I love these plants, Just saying the name invokes a feeling of, well, peace in me I guess. They are a delight to have around the house and very handy in the homes of smokers, absorbing harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde from the air. Just be a bit careful if you have children or animals around. As is common for many plants of the lily variety the sap is poisonous. Therefore if a plant breaks and a child or animal gets to the sap it can have a toxic effect on them. so minus one star for that Miss Lily i'm afraid, but personally, I would award the full 5 . ;o)

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                      • More +
                        23.08.2009 14:14
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                        buy it! buy it! buy it! buy it! :o)

                        back from a bit of a break so do forgive if writing style is a touch on the rusty side!!!

                        Perfume to many is a very personal choice, peoples likes and dislikes vary massively depending on personal taste. As a result I have never given, nor received perfume as a gift, unless specifically requested. Fragrances as we all know can vary massively in strength and I prefer more subtle scents that arent too sweet or overpowering.

                        Enter "flower" by Kenzo.

                        This perfume was designed as one of the original products by a japenese fashion designer by the name of Kenzo Takada. Kenzo has now expanded his range massively to incorporate all manners of scents, but "flower" has resolutely remained my favourite.
                        I first purchased this perfume on a slightly naive wing and a prayer during a flight abroad because it "looked nice" clearly in my spendthrift devil may care days! However I have to say it has been a good choice as I have had a bottle in my bag everyday since!
                        The product appears in a clear (and from the way i've thrown it around, amazingly robust) glass bottle with the image of a single poppy thereon.
                        Kenzo, on designing this perfume wanted to base it around a flower that could take route anywhere, be an individual and fit into any situation, described by the Kenzo empire as "the power of a singular, strong, pure and sensual flower. A nomadic flower, taking root in the asphalt. A flower in the city". The only flower that is able to freely root is the poppy, hence the image on the bottle. Oddly though the poppy does not have a scent, so Kenzo was on a bit of a wing and a prayer to create one for it, as was I in my first purchase!

                        ***How does it smell?***

                        The scent of Flower is very hard to describe, initially starting quite strong it fades into a gentle, powdery scent that is subtle but noticeable. The rose ingredient is firmly present whilst mixed with a gentle scent of parma violet. I have to say that my reason for loving this perfume so much that I rave about it really is the subtlelty. Its a scent that people walking past you just catch and cant help but to ask you about. The scent isnt quite strong enough to stand out in a crowded pub in the evening but is perfect for daytime wear and romantic meals out.

                        ***How flowery is the price?***

                        Flower comes in sizes of 30ml, 50 ml, 100ml and a collection of 5 12oz smaller bottles as a gift set. As for all perfumes the quality varies with the price you pay, and bought from a market or street for £15 so quality will be awful, therefore it is hard to quantify what a "regular" price would be. Boots currently quote £33 for a 30ml bottle, £46.50 for 50 ml and £63.50 for 100ml. However my advice would be shop around, go for duty free or look out for special offers.

                        ***Other Bits and Bobs***

                        Kenzo comes with complimentary products of shower gels and body lotion. I've not tried these so cant comment on them, but didnt want to make them fee left out!

                        So, In short. This product would come highly recommended from me. But be warned, as soon as you have bought a bottle you will be a floweraholic, so save your dooyoo funds for the next bottle you buy!!

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                        • Tampax Regular / Sexual Health / 70 Readings / 65 Ratings
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                          31.07.2009 15:32
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                          embarrasment waiting to happen, no use except for light flows

                          Firstly my apologies to all the guys out there for writing a review that isn't necessarily considerate to both sexes. Also apologies for 2 moany reviews in a row, I'm normally of such a sunny disposition too!

                          A male friend asked me a few weeks ago why, when a shampoo product is being advertised on TV they show someone washing their hair. When a razor is being advertised they show someone shaving their legs. When underwear is being advertised they show someone, well, wearing underwear. So why then when Tampons are being advertised do they show a woman playing tennis! After slapping him and telling him he wasn't funny I had a wee chuckle to myself at the thought of what he'd said was in fact very true.

                          Now, we all know what Tampax (or "thingies" as my embarrassed mother used to call them) are used for and therefore I feel no need to write an introduction on the matter. I'm not going to labour the point, even for the guys. But to me Tampax are the feminine hygiene equivalent of the first ever mobile phone. Chunky, indiscreet and lets be honest, not very good at their job. When I am being "visited" I do not wish the whole world to know it. Tampax may as well carry around a neon flashing light screaming "ON!" Whereas the world of lillet's have long since developed the tampon equivalent of a Samsung flip phone that fits neatly and discreetly in your pocket or in the palm of your hand, Tampax appear to have missed this point and decided that women wish to sneak off to the loo with an inch of packaging poking out either side of their hand.

                          Environmentally speaking tampons as a whole would never win any awards from Greenpeace. Yet Tampax decide to defeat the world into tampon Armageddon. The paper wrapper isn't an issue. I used to have competitions with myself of how small a ball I could screw it up into. I won on numerous occasions with more and more impressive results. (Yes, I do get out more frequently nowadays for those that are wondering!) However, Tampax market 2 products, both applicator tampons, one that is a shiney cardboard tube (mentionable also for being so embarrassingly hard to flush to the extent the next cubicle occupant will on numerous occasions know exactly what you've been up to) along with a product that is a telescopic plastic tube that pulls out to form a full length applicator. These in my mind are the worst environmental disaster area possible. Aside from the actual tampon itself, which are often found washed up on beaches from our ridiculously environmentally abused sewer system months after their original use, the plastic applicator is wholly unbiodegrable. Yes ok, the plastic can be recycled but honestly, how many are? The wrapper to these isn't of the "delightfully easy to screw up and dispose of" paper type but a crinkly shiny plastic that works its way to many a landfill or even worse out into the environment. I mean c'mon Tampax!!!!! Thousands of women the world over require you on a monthly basis, put a bit of thought into this aspect of it please!!! Numerous market competitors are realising that women don't necessarily require applicators and are preferring nowadays to favour the more discreet, more environmentally friendly non applicator tampons instead.

                          So how effective are they? Well lets just say you would have more joy holding a gallon of water up an elephants trunk with a twig than you would stemming the menstrual flow with a tampax product. You see unlike, again, market competitors, tampax products have a rather major design flaw. Most tampons have the removal string stitched only half way up the synthetic pad, leaving a sealed top section, that when the pad expands to fit the line of your, ahem, feminine part for want of a more scientific term, forms a leak-proof seal. Tampax however choose to attach their strings near to the top of the pad which provides massive potential for the product to fail and leak, especially in their super flow products. I have been caught out by Tampax on a couple of occasions when I should have felt confident in their use. Their packaging advertises that they are suitable for over night or up to 8 hours use, however I have found anything longer than 5 hours to be risking failure especially if used overnight.

                          Tampax vary in price for between £1 a box in the likes of Wilkinson when on offer to £3 a box in motorway service stations. Best advice if you are going to purchase the worst feminine hygiene product in the market is to stock up in cheap places and don't forget them when you leave home!!
                          Personally I choose to use them only when I do exactly that and leave my favoured brand at home, am caught short and they are all the bloomin motorway services stocks.
                          The menstrual flow is something that many women will be "blessed" with for best part of 40 years of their lives. We will use on average 18 tampax per month, excluding any periods of pregnancy that is roughly 8640 tampons used in the course of our lifetime. Surely therefore we deserve discretion, we deserve comfort, we deserve reliability and the poor environment deserves 8640 environmentally friendly tampons!!!

                          C'mon tampax WAKE UP!! Your competitors are currently waaay ahead of you and I for one vote with my feet. Sort out the design so we feel more confident in your products, accept that women like to maintain a slight degree of discretion when nipping off to the loo in work hours that we want to be able to sneak your product into our pockets or hands without all and sundry knowing what we are doing and accept the damage that your plastic products in particular are capable of doing to the environment. Sort these issues out and I may well be back but for now I'll shall take my tampon money elsewhere.

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                          • Tesco Value Tea Bags / Tea / 60 Readings / 60 Ratings
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                            29.07.2009 16:44
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                            Pay the extra 50 p straight off for the real ones. It will save you money in the long run.

                            one day many many years ago an intrepid explorer was walking through a field full of leafy plants. The poor man had been lost in the hills for about 3 weeks and he was hungry and thirsty. All he had left was a tiny cupful of water and the last dribble of campinggaz in his stove (very advanced for their times pre-victorian man). So desperate was he for something to eat that he picked up some leaves from the floor and sat down to eat them while boiling his water for a hot drink. Accidentally dropping a leaf in the water he saw it turn brown! Cursing his luck he thought "oh what the heck it would all mix in my stomach anyway" and discovered the most tasty drink in the whole wide world.. and thus "tea" was born.....

                            Ok thats all a load of rubbish, and about as useful as, let me think, hmmm Tesco value tea bags actually!!! what an absolute load of toot they are and a real budget cut too far..

                            Like many reviewers on here i am an absolute teaholic. I have to be, coffee is not my friend due to its unerring ability to kill me. I kid you not. I love hot drinks and the amount that I have I would be the size of a year old heffer if i was to drink hot chocolate. So tea it has to be. When it comes to tea god am i picky!!! has to be no sugar, with about a tea spoon full of milk, not bitter like PG tips or redlabel but nice and smooth like tetley.
                            Being not of a tetley budget of late I have been drinking tesco own brand tea bags and how lovely are they!! nice and smooth, not bitter even when loosing heat and a truly decent cuppa! Last week I ran out of tea bags, and being of further restricted means I saw the tesco value teabags for sale at the massive rate of 28p for 80! Despite the packaging I had heard tale that tesco value is hardly any different at all to its own name brands so a lovely white red and blue cardboard made its way into my carrier bag and homeward bound.
                            Desperate for a cuppa after ten minutes without one I put the kettle on to boil and opened the box. I was immediately surprised to see the tea bags lying loose in the cardboard box, with the white colouring of the box the lightness inside would soon leech the flavour from the tea. The bags were also oblong rather than round, so far very different from their 50p dearer counterparts. This wasnt boding well!!!
                            So, kettles boiled.. here goes. teabag in. Stirry with teaspoon and I soon found I had to squeeeeeze the life out of it to the point of bursting to get the tea to turn anywhere near brown enough!! I added milk and took a sip.
                            Now, do you remember that comedic moment in films and cartoons where the character finds out that what he is drinking is something extremely unpleasant? and sprays it everywhere? That was me with this cup of tea. The first mouthful that I took tasted exceptionally dusty, asthough it was the dregs of the tea that were contained within the bags. The taste was for some unknown reason exceptionally perfumed and not tea like at all. it tasted almost asthough there were succinct undertones of redbush contained within. I managed two mouthfuls before giving up and throwing the tea down the sink and the bags in the bin.
                            Yes, they are value for money and they may appeal to some. But for me the overwhelming feeling was that someone had swept the tesco tea making floor one evening and bunged the piles into bags and marketed as "value"
                            A budgetary cut far to far this one. I'd rather pay the extra 50p for the proper ones!

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                            • More +
                              29.07.2009 13:30
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                              :o)

                              My taste in literary material is starting to become well documetned around this site! By virtue of a couple of book reviews and comments made to others, yet I must say, this book wouldn't fall into my usual genre.
                              I was handed it by a friend shortly after reading and expressing my pleasure towards the time travellers wife. With a comment of "well you may enjoy this then" the book was thrust into my hand and off my friend strolled.

                              Reading the blurb on the back I couldnt say that I was intrigued but I am happy to say I can also admit when I am wrong. on this occasion I was oh so very very wrong!!! what a book!!!

                              The author Jeremy Robinson started off in the worlds of comic books and screenplays. When this book was first written absolutely no publisher was interested in producing it to the wider public and as such Robinson paid for it to be published himself. I bet he's extremely glad now with the speed that this shot to the top of the bestseller list that he did!

                              Centreing around the concepts of christianity and beliefs, the "didymus contingency" journey takes us on a rollercoaster of time warping scientific religious adventure.

                              Our journey commences with the sudden and tragic murder of our main character "Toms" wife at the hands of Tamil rebels in Sri Lanka. This single event turns Tom so far away from the concept of religion that he ferverently believes everything that occurs in life and the world has its roots in science. Setting out to prove this he forms a close friendship with David, a fellow scientist who is, as it happens, deeply religious and continually pokes fun at his friend for his atheist views.

                              The friends discover time travel and thus our adventure starts and that is as far as my story telling goes.. well i'm not going to ruin the story line now am I!

                              Robinson acheives with this book both a scientific thriller and a christian masterpiece. For years now the characters in the bible have appeared as 2 dimensional, they are just names on a page. How little do we know of jesus's personality? or Judas's true strength of charcter? Robinson takes the religious icons, moulds them like a piece of plastacine and turns them into human beings that we can relate to.

                              Robinson interweaves recorded historical events with fiction with great skill. It is easy to imagine walking along the street talking to jesus, or the shock of standing in the garden of gethsemalie recognising it from the religious depictions still common today. The atmosphere that Robinson manages to build up around the events keeps us completely glued to the page but it is the strength of the bond and the interaction between David and Tom that is the true page turner here. The story, admittedly, does jump back and forth through time, but this does not detract from the flow of the story and was infact essential at times to develop the charcters and to maintain the science vs religion debate. I continued to devour the pages hungrily wanting to know more of the storyline.

                              Sadly for me a friend had already given me a pre ci of the book and as such the twist at the end of the story was sadly ruined for me. However, following the story in the book there is no hint of the twist at the end of the tale and as such any new readers will discover this, hopefully, with pleasure and surprise.

                              This book explores a very careful debate between the theory of whether the world, evolution and gloal happenings have their roots in scientific fact or religious theory. This is a debate that you would expect an author to approach gingerly or not at all. Robinson grasps the nettle with both hands and leaves even the likes of myself, not a doubter but certainly described in a lonely hearts ad as "open minded" questioning whether it did infact all happen.

                              The Didymus Contingency is a must read for everyone other than those who get upset at the mere mention of religion. It is not preachy, It does not favour one point of view over the other but most certainly, whatever your faith, whatever your stance, will raise questions in one direction or another. However the title, even after reading the book continues to confuse me. "Didymus" has biblical origins and means "twin" or "double" while "contingency" means an event that may occur in future... One that I shall continue to ponder for a while yet.

                              Widely available on amazon and other book sites for between £2.75 and £8.99 I couldnt recommend this more highly. A completely engrossing compelling read.

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                              • More +
                                29.07.2009 11:34
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                                a safe alternative to chemical medication that works like a charm.

                                The last 2 years for me were, until very recently stressful, sad and hard to endure. I have suffered depression in the past and on many occasions found it extremely hard to cope with the feelings and emotions that I was experiencing at the time.
                                Anyone that has experienced stress or depression will know how debilitating it can be. Insomnia, feelings of panic and desperation, tearfulness and nervousness in company make day to day living hard.

                                I had been prescribed anti-depressants but refused to take them, looking instead for a more holistic approach to solving my mental state and getting myself back to normal. I was researching different methods of treatment when I came across a process named as guided imagery.....

                                ***What is Guided Imagery?***

                                Guided imagery is based on the concept that your body and mind is connected and that the state of one has a direct effect on the condition of the other. The basis is of a form of meditation that works like a film reel in your mind. Working with the gentle voice of your "guide" you follow a visualised journey, for example along a windy beach or through a forest, with each journey designed around the specific situation in your life that you are trying to release from your inner self. To put it in laymans terms guided imagery assists problem solving through visualising in your minds eye the problems that you are experiencing, then visualising and replacing these problems with alternative or preferred outcomes.

                                Guided Imagery is often referred to as "guided meditation" although it should be understood that it does not have its roots in or connections to a specific religion. The history of this therapy can be traced back to native american tribes and references to the same have been found in hindu and egyptian scriptures dating back to early history. The massive beneficial effects of Guided Imagery as therapy is being widely recognised now by the medical profession. Studies with cancer patients show an enhanced quality of life throughout therapy and much higher levels of cancer fighting chemicals.


                                ***The Site***

                                Researching the holistic benefits of this therapy I decided that it sounded perfect for my circumstances and I would give it a go. A brief google revealed the website "guided-imagery-downloads.com" Instantly I was impressed with the layout of the site. It was easy to navigate, comprehensive and astoundingly interesting. I found the Blog from the therapist to be of interest, especially as it dictated the therapists goals and aspirations in life and how she used guided imagery to acheive these goals.

                                The website has an excellent explaination of guided imagery, detailing the many different scenarios in which guided imagery may assist you and be of benefit. Scenarios are also offered for children which absolutely amazed me with a number of "magical" journeys for your children to travel, ideal for parents trying to get an excitable child to wind down after a stressful day in preparation for bed or dinner. The use of holistic therapies in children was something that I had never ever considered and I would urge any parents to give it a try. If the scripts and journeys are as detailed and therapeutic as the adult scripts then they are well worth the money!!

                                Browsing through the site I noted 2 downloads of particular interest to me. "letting go and moving on" described with the permission of the site as
                                "The best way of finding the strength within yourself to move on from grief or loss is by trusting your Inner Guide, your inner Self, to give you the strength and confidence to lead you down the right path.
                                Discover how to work with your inner Self through guided Imagery to let go and to move on when you feel that emotionally you're being held back by something or someone from your past.
                                Harness your own wonderful, positive energy to deal with life emotionally and, with the help of your inner guide, find the strength to let go and move on, to be free at last. An incredibly powerful script"


                                ***How Much Does It Cost?***

                                This script sounded to be just what i needed and as such I downloaded the MP3 file for the price of £10.19. And I have to say for the effect that this has had on my mental wellbeing and indeed ability to let go of my ex and move forward with courage on my own is amazing and more than worth the money. The best thing is that I have the use of this now for as long as I wish so i consider the price to be exceptionally reasonable. The transaction was processed extremely swiftly on a sight that was stated to be secure.

                                ***My Experience with guided imagery***

                                Finding a comfortable place to lie down i started the MP3 and the journey began. The Journey started with a guide to relaxation..

                                "find somewhere where you feel comfortable, it may be in a chair, or laying on a bed, and when you are ready, just allow your eyes to gently close. Now pay attention to your breathing, just be aware of the breath as it enters your body, bringing calmness and relaxation with it, and be aware of the stress and tension leaving your body on each outward breath. Breathing in calm, breathing out stress.......become aware of your whole body as it just starts to relax, and let your mind drift......"

                                The female voice of the narrator was exceptionally soft and soothing and certainly aided the process of relaxation. The calming effect of her voice certainly transpired through the recording and at times as I drifted I forgot that the therapy was taking place at a distance! A face to face appointment would cost more than 4 times the cost of this download and yet would be no more effective. I was extremely impressed with this!

                                I felt myself falling into a very relaxed state and becoming receptive to the imagery that was being fed to me. I'm not going to describe my personal journey as it is exactly that, personal. However the first couple of times I listened to the MP3 the emotions that it rought in me that I didnt even realise were present meant that it took me 3 attempts to make it to the end of the journey. However this is not a negative in any way as this is exactly what guided imagery is designed to do, to release the negative and replace it with positive emotion instead.
                                ***My Opinion***

                                I admit that in the past I have been sceptical towards alternative therapies and I would completely understand anyone reading this that would think "yeah whatever" and at one time I would have thought the same. However GP's globally see it fit to dish out anti-depressants and tablets like smarties, without question nor comment from us patients on the effects on our system other than those they are being required to treat. Anti-depressants, anti-biotics and other medications most certainly have their place when used in the right situations but Surely it is worth opening our minds to other non chemical treatments that may benefit us and maintain the effectiveness of these treatments within the human body?


                                ***The Results***

                                Guided Image therapy has made my quality of life so much better. I now feel able to navigate my way through the turmoil of feelings that frequently engulf us on a day to day basis. Regarding my previous relationship, I am 90% of the way to letting go. I have met a lovely person and am forming a new and complimentary relationship with him. I still think of my ex on occasion but the pain that this brings with it is no longer there. I am truly "letting go and moving on" I have also this weekend had the courage to confront my previous police career and have been out on patrol for the first time since i resigned 4 years ago. The courage this took was immense and i truly believe the therapy gave me the confidence and emoptional stability to acheive with that goal. I have applied to re-join the police and can now look forward with courage that I am able to succeed where I previously believed I would fail

                                I would highly recommend this website and guided-imagery to anyone currently facing a challenge, upheaval or grievance in their lives. Even if you are one of the afore mentioned sceptics or would feel amazingly silly by visualising things in your mind, TRY IT!!! If it has even half the benefit that it has had on me then it would be £10.19 very well spent.

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