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My Dads cousin came for a few days visit and last night we were all going out for a meal, so yesterday I thought it was time to clean my oven as I would not be using it to cook any tea. I had a couple of boxes of oven pride stored away in one of my cupboards that I had bought from my local Home Bargains for £2.99 a while ago so I decided it was time to give it a try and if there is one job I HATE and HATE with a passion, it is cleaning the oven but the box states "the effortless way to clean your oven and BBQ!" so an effortless way of cleaning it sounded fantastic. I opened the box and read the instructions simply put your racks in the bag, pour in the solution, wait, rinse off your racks, dispose of cleaning solution down the drain. Stop I thought, dispose of down the drain, we have a septic tank, so I rang the telephone number on the box and spoke to customer services to ask if it was septic tank friendly, they informed me that it was but only use it once a year as it can affect the bacteria that makes the tank work. The box is very easily identifiable, it is bright orange, dark blue white and yellow with Oven Pride written across the front in large white letters outlined in blue. The are quite a few do's and don'ts on the back of the box i.e DO make sure you wear gloves and cover arms and wrists at all times when using oven pride. The gloves provided are for convenience only, long rubber gloves are recommended. DO NOT leave the bag or treated area unattended or where children or animals will come into contact with it. The cleaning solution is highly corrosive. Oven pride can must not be used on aluminium, zinc, copper, painted surfaces or on self cleaning oven linings. Do not use on oven trim, pilot light or heating and fan elements. It is recommended that you leave the solution to work for a minimum of 4 hours but for really good results leave overnight. The box contains one plastic bottle of 500 ml cleaning solution, one large plastic bag with a resealable top and one pair of disposable latex gloves. On the outside of the bag it has some more do's and don'ts and full instructions. So on went the gloves and I removed the cooker racks and placed them in the bag, poured half the solution in and sealed the bag, turned the bag over a few times to ensure all the racks were covered and then placed the whole lot in the garden. I then poured some more of the solution on to the bottom of my two ovens, spread the solution out to cover the bottom of the ovens and rubbed some onto the glass, closed both doors and left it for 24 hours to do its work. I still had about ¼ of a bottle left so decided to add it to the bag. Two hours later I went into the garden, gave the bag another shake and was amazed that the clear liquid had turned a disgusting brown colour and I could actually see some silver on the racks. Left it again overnight for the solution to work its magic. All in all that part of the clean took me ten minutes. We went out and had a lovely meal went to bed all whilst my oven was cleaning itself, fantastic. When I used the solution there was no smell but when we come home last night I could smell a very mild chemical smell but the kitchen door had been closed and no windows had been left open but once the door had been opened, this smell soon disappeared This morning, I dug out a pair of rubber gloves, filled a bowl with some warm soapy water and a sponge and set about cleaning the solution off the oven. I wiped the sponge across the bottom of my small oven and immediately the white sponge turned brown, yuk, rinsed it in the water and wiped again until the sponge stopped turning brown, gave the glass the same treatment then dried it all with some kitchen towel. Amazingly enough my cooker looked brand new, even though we have had it for about 10 years and it has only seen a clean a few times in those 10 years, told you I hated cleaning the oven! Repeated this on the large bottom oven and again the results were fantastic. This whole operation took me about 20 minutes. Out into the garden I went to clean the racks. I removed the first one from the bag and hosed piped it down, gave it a bit of a rub with the scouring side of the sponge and the rack was silver again finished off the other two and the same again, silver in fact they looked brand new. This took me all of 10 minutes. I then chucked the racks in the dishwasher on a quick wash just to make sure I had removed all the solution. I now have a brand new sparkly clean oven, and that's not happened in years. I never emptied the solution out of the bag into the drain, our septic tank is in my neighbours garden and if it did cause a problem it wouldn't be fair for my neighbours garden to be covered in the contents of the septic tank! I just filled the bag up with the kitchen roll I had used, resealed it up and put it in the bin. This product can be purchased in most supermarkets for around £3.82 or like me you may be able to find it in Home Bargains for £2.99. You can also visit www.priderange.com where you can buy it for £4.99 and also check out the other products that they sell. Homepride Limited. Midsummer Court, 314, Midsummer Boulevard, Milton Keynes, MK9 2UB. 01908 357707 I will not hesitate at buying and using this product again, in fact at the end of the BBQ season I will use my second box to clean the BBQ and clean my oven again and if I clean the oven regularly I will probably not need the full bottle this time and will may be get away with only using half the solution at a time. So in 40 minutes I had a perfectly clean oven again and with little effort and no scrubbing.
Once upon a time about 50 years ago and then again about 40 years ago in a land not so very far away from here called Wales, there lived a little green steam engine called Ivor. Ivor the Engine worked out of Llaniog railway station. Ivor could sometimes be a naughty little engine because he had a mind of his own. His favourite hobbies are singing with the local choir, making tea and visiting the seaside. Ivor has lots of friends where he lives, including Dai the Station master, Owen the signal man, Evan Evans the Choir master, Mrs Porty, a rather eccentric lady who loves buying new hats, Mr Dinwiddy, who describes himself as an amateur scientist, lives in the hills where he digs for gold and is always losing his boots but Ivor's bestest friend in the whole wide world is Edwin Jones, Ivor's driver. Ivor also loves animals and has lots of animal friends, including Idris a small red Dragon, Ivor kept Idris's egg in his fire until he hatched, now Idris lives in Smoke Mountain, a volcano, with his wife, Olwen and their two twin dragon children. Another of his friends is Bluebell the donkey, who loves nothing more than helping out Ivor and Jones and finally Alice the Elephant who lives at the local circus. Ivor had lots of adventures The Railway This is where we first learn all about Ivor but its not a very exciting episode, he picks up coal from the local coal mine before going to choir practice. Mrs Porty's Foxes Mrs Porty introduces Ivor to the fox family living in her garden and then tells him that she is expecting a hat delivery. Ivor sets off to station to collect the hat but on the way back to Mrs Porty's house he comes across a fox hunt in pursuit of one of Mrs Porty's foxes. Can Ivor save the fox from the hounds? Bluebell Bluebell the donkey is helping Jones give Ivor a bath until Jones gets an urgent call to deliver some new boots to Mr Dinwiddy. Ivor and Jones collect the boots and set off to Mr Dinwiddy's hills. Bluebell still carrying the bucket chases Ivor, but is so worn out when she catches up with him that she can't make her way back to the station. Mr Dinwiddy sets about making a donkey carriage that can be hooked up to Ivor so she can go on days out with him. However on the way back one of Ivor's wheels comes off the track. Can Bluebell save the say by getting help? Unidentified Objects. There is not much happening on the railway so Dai the station master and Jones decide to do a bit of sunbathing on the station platform. All of a sudden Dai spots some flying saucers in the sky so they all set off to find out where they have come from. Does the mad scientist Mr Dinwiddy have something to do with it? The Dragon Whilst driving passed Smoke Mountain, Jones spots some smoke coming out so he goes to investigate and finds a hot egg shape thing sitting in the middle of the volcano. Jones picks the egg up and puts it in Ivor's fire they then go off for a bit of choir practice. Half way through the practice a beautiful voice starts singing but nobody can find where the voice is coming from. Jones goes to check the egg but finds it has hatched and all of a sudden a dragon pops his head out of Ivor and continues singing. Idris spends the next day in Ivor's furnace and again attends choir practice the following evening. After Choir practice everybody fancies some fish and chips but the gas pressure is too low to heat the fat so Idris blows some fire into the chip fryer and everybody gets perfect fish and chips. Somebody then spots a newspaper article saying that a dragon has been spotted in the village and people are coming to look for him to study him Idris does not want to be found and goes into hiding. Where can he be? Chickens Autumn is approaching fast and Jones has been asked to visit the local gas works but Ivor is nowhere to be found. Jones sets off to find Ivor only to find him covered in chickens attempting to keep warm. Old Nell Ivor goes up to the old quarry only to find Old Nell, the farmers sheep dog, blocking their way on the track. The dog points to one of his sheep that has fallen down the quarry edge. So Jones ties a rope onto a nearby tree and tries to climb down but the branch breaks leaving Jones and the sheep stranded. Can Ivor and Nell get help? The Lost Engine Ivor is the centre attraction at the Welsh Festival of Song, Poetry and Music, helping his choir win first prize. On their way home, the choir decide to visit the seaside but Ivor feels jealous of everybody playing in the sea. After dropping everybody off Ivor decides he wants to be on his own and takes himself off. Jones returns to where he left Ivor only to find him gone, then Mrs Porty and Bluebell turn up and tell Jones that Ivor has been stolen, so they all set off in hot pursuit of the thieves. Where will they find Ivor? The Outing This is a follow on from Ivor's last adventure. After finding Ivor, the Choir are discussing Ivors excursion on his own. The days continue as normal with everybody counting the days to the choirs annual outing. People are whispering in corners so Ivor can't hear what is being said but he works out that something is going on. The day of the outing arrives and Ivor finds out they are all going to beach again but it makes him sad that he can't go into the sea for a paddle. Will Ivor be happy with the surprise that everybody has planned for him? Time Off Everything has been done in the morning and there is nothing to do for the afternoon so Jones and Dai decide to go fishing down at the local lake. They fall asleep but a child comes running down the hill shouting and wakes them up, he tells them that Ivor has gone. Where can Ivor be? The Cuckoo Clock Ivor suddenly slams on his breaks because he spots a bird and her nest on the railway track. Jones picks up the nest and puts it in the engine. Mrs bird stands up to reveal 4 small chicks. Jones decides the birds nest needs to go somewhere safe so asks Mrs Porty for some help. Can Mrs Porty help? Buying Things Mr Williams from the Head Office comes for a visit to Llaniog station and tells Jones and Dai that the railway is going to be sold and Ivor will be sent away and replaced with diesel engines. Everybody is so sad but work needs to continue, so Jones takes some new boots to Mr Dinwiddy. He suggests everybody club together to buy the railway but it is too expensive. Who in the village has enough money and is eccentric enough to buy the railway? The Water Tower Spring has made it to Llaniog station so everything is getting a spring clean. Jones receives a telephone call asking him and Ivor to collect and deliver and new loom for the local weaver. Ivor needs his water filling up but refuses to go under the water tank. What could the new owner of the railway be keeping in her water tank? Central Heating Ivor slams on his breaks because he spots Idris the Dragon cold at the side of track. It seems Smoke Mountain volcano has gone out and become extinct, so Idris was out looking for a new home for his wife and children but the cold got the better of him. Jones finds out the nearest volcano still living is in Italy but that seems a long move for the poor dragons. Can the local gas works come up with an idea to give Smoke Mountain its own form of central heating? The Visitor Ivor is carrying a load of homing pigeons and Mr Evans the Choir Master accidentally lets them out. Mr Evans and Jones visit the owner to tell him they have lost them but he tells them that they are homing pigeons and he uses them to send messages of love to his betroved. Jones, Mr Evans and Ivor go off to retrieve the pigeons. On the way back they find the line blocked with something that looks like a rock but turns out to be an elephant with an injured foot. They take the elephant to the gas works where they make a makeshift home for it. Can the owner of the elephant be found? The Trumpet The postman visits Ivor's engine shed with a parcel for I Engine Esq. Jones opens it to find a trumpet inside engraved with the words 'For Ivor Just In Case I, O, G and B (The dragons). Jones places the trumpet in the cab of Ivor and goes off to collect some sheep for a local farmer. The Farmer, however does not have a sheep dog so Jones and the farmer try to round the sheep up but fail. Can the trumpet call for reinforcements to help with the sheep? The Sheepdog Ivor has gone to the local sheep fair to watch the sheepdog trails. As any animal can take part, Alice the Elephant decides she would like a go at herding the sheep. Can Alice win the competition? Juggernaut The local circus master has invited Ivor to join them as "Ivor the Singing Engine" so Jones needs a replacement engine while Ivor is on his holidays. His replacement, Juggernaut, is made out of parts from an old lorry and other spare bits and bobs. However Juggernaut keeps breaking down. Will Juggernaut last and will Ivor enjoy his holiday? Half-Crowns Its the middle of the night and Jones is banging on the door of the local bank manager. The dragons need some half-crowns to feed their gas meter however because of decimalisation, half-crowns are no longer legal tender. Can any half-crowns be found anywhere in the village? Snowdrifts Its been snowing in the village for days (We know how they feel!). The baker has run out of flour and the other shop keepers are running very low on stock, the village will starve if they are not careful. The only way they will be able to collect stocks is if Ivor puts a snow plough on the front of his engine. So Jones goes to see the local blacksmith who manages to knock something up. Ivor gets through to the main town where all the goods are waiting for them but on the way back there seems to have been an avalanche and some sheep have been caught up in it. Can Ivor and Jones save the sheep? The Fire Engine Its stopped snowing but the snow is hanging about. Ivor is standing with Jones outside the local fire station and the Fire Station Master is bragging about his new all singing, all dancing, fire engine. A lady comes by to say that a local farm is on fire. Of course the fire engine gets stuck in a drift, can Ivor put the fire out? Sledging Ivor has a wheel attached to his front and is using it as a winch for the children who are sledging. Too many children grab the winch though and manage to pull Ivor down the bank and he gets buried in a snowdrift. Dai calls the engineers but they can't get a crane out till the following day. Old Nell the sheepdog and Bluebell the donkey come along to keep Ivor company. Old Nell comes up with an idea and rushes off to get the fire brigade but they end up getting stuck as well. The Crane turns up but even that tips over. Bluebell goes off for a walk, can she find another animal that will be able to get everybody out of the snow? The Hat Ivor has an emergency to go on. Mrs Porty has ordered a new hat but it has not arrived. Ivor goes into town to collect a box but it is not for Mrs Porty its for the local Professor who has ordered a new telescope cover. By the morning however the box has disappeared. Who could have stolen it? Retirement The dragons have run out of half crowns again and there is no way any more can be found, but it has been decided that the gas heating is too expensive and should be removed from Smoke Mountain and the dragons will be placed in a cage heated by waste fuel. Mr Dinwiddy steps in to help and tells them that he has found a part of his gold mine that is too hot to work in. Will the dragons find the heat they need? Ivor the Engine was originally made in 1958 for black and white television and then remade in 1975 in colour. The series was written and narrated by the great Oliver Postgate, (creator of some of the most famous children's television including Bagpuss and The Clangers) and was filmed using stop motion (frame by frame) techniques and was animated using cardboard cut outs painted with watercolours. 40 episodes were made of 5 minutes but some of the episodes have been linked together to make a episodes of between 15 to 20 minutes long. Ivor the Engine is another of my favourite children's programmes, it is not educational but is just good clean fun. It took me a couple of episodes to understand the Welsh accent but is something the Holly and I enjoy watching together. The DVD features 24 episodes all made in colour, there are no extras, it is universal and is suitable for all and is approximately 3 hours long. You can buy it from Amazon for £3.98, a bargain for 3 hours entertainment. Thanks for reading. Anna This review can be found on another review site posted by me.
Elmlea is a regular purchase in my house. I use it quite a bit in cooking and I always use this to make my ice cream, I have also used it when I fancied making a trifle but I had no fresh cream available. Elmlea is made by the Unilever, it was launched in 1984 and was the first dairy cream alternative. My mother used to buy this and I always referred to it as plastic cream, so it is only in the last couple of years that I have really started using it and realised how much like cream it tastes. It is a substitute cream available in 6 varieties, single, single light, Double or Double Light, whipping or squirty cream. I always buy the Double cream light. It comes in a 284ml plastic carton coloured mainly in blue with a picture of a strawberry dipped in cream on the front and it has a foil peel off top. The top peels off very easily. The cartons I have bought today have a best before date of 31/10/09 and once opened the cream can be kept for up to 8 weeks in the fridge. The cream lasts longer because it contains 75% buttermilk, 12% vegetable oil and 11% hydrogenated vegetable oil and 6 E numbers 435, 322, 412, 410, 407 and 60a Fresh Double cream contains 470 calories and 50.5 grams of fat per 100 ml, Elmlea Double cream contains 349 calories and 36g of fat per 100ml (30% less than fresh cream), Elmlea Double Light contains 246 calories and 24.3 g of fat per 100 g (50% less than fresh cream. So it is a lot less fattening than standard cream I had only ever used this in cooking but I dipped my finger in once to see if it tasted like cream and I was rather surprised that it did. So I took a chance once when I had no fresh cream to make a trifle but had a carton of this in the fridge. It whisked up quite easily and looked liked a normal cream topping. I served it up and nobody mentioned anything about it, it tasted like fresh cream but with less fat. The carton says it can be frozen if whipped so I use it in all my ice creams I make and it tastes fine. I have also frozen it when I have had some curry left for which I use this for. I have used it for sauces and if I want to serve any vegetables in cream, it cooks fine and it freezes fine. It works out cheaper than fresh cream, a 284 ml carton currently costs 68p in Tesco with a 300 ml carton of fresh cream costing 84p but unfortunately the fresh cream will not last 3 months in the fridge. Ok so it contains rather a lot of E numbers but is very handy to keep a carton in the fridge should you ever had visitors and want a carton of cream very quickly or if you are watching your weight but fancy something with cream. I have knocked off 1 star for the amount of E numbers it contains. Many thanks for reading. Anna
I have loved reading Philippa Gregory's books especially about the Tudor period and I decided to go for another of her books, but this is not set in the Tudor period. This was Philippa Gregory's first ever book that she wrote although she seems to be more famous for her Tudor Period novels especially for the Other Boleyn Girl which has been made into a Hollywood film. I was quite looking forward to reading this book after reading almost all of the Tudor period books and thought reading about a different periods in time would be quite interesting. Wideacre is the first of a Trilogy following Beatrice Lacey, The Favoured Child is the second involving Beatrice's Children and the last, Meridon follows Beatrice's Grand Children. All are set around the family home of Wideacre. Set in the 1700's Beatrice Lacey is a four year old girl who lives in the ancestral home of Wideacre Hall with her Father, Lord Lacey The Squire, her Mother and older Brother, Harry. She spends all of her day living in harmony with the land, breathing as one and believing her heart beat, beats at the same time as her precious land, riding her pony and surveying the land with her Papa much to her Mothers disdain. Her Brother on the other hand spends all of his days, in the house with his Mother, reading because he always seemed to be poorly. Beatrice is the apple of her fathers eye, with her father teaching her everything about how the land works, how to look after the crops and how, more importantly, to be loved and to love the tenants who rely on Wideacre for their jobs, either within the house as servants or for farming the land and keeping their livestock on the land. Beatrice believes she will be living the rest of her life at Wideacre, thinking that she will one day become Squire and Wideacre will be hers. Beatrice is friends with everyone, all the tenants love her and respect her, she is especially friendly with Ralph, the Gamekeepers son. One day Beatrice overhears a conversation between her parents about her brother Harry attending school, it is then that Beatrice finds out that Harry is being educated to become Squire and and Beatrice will be married off. Beatrice's world falls apart, she had no idea that women of the 18th century have no right to inheritance. Beatrice runs to her friend Ralph and spills her heart. The pair of them hatch a deadly plan so Beatrice can end up owning her beloved Wideacre. Who will Beatrice trample upon and who will suffer the consequences of her need to possess the land? Initially I found the book quite hard to get into, but once I did, I found the book quite hard to put down. We follow Beatrice's life from the age of 4 through to her being 21 years old. Through her growing up and falling in love for the first time, through her marriage and the birth of her children, then her fight to ensure that her son becomes Squire of the land. Beatrice at first comes across as a very lovable character and when she finds out she has no claims to the land I started to feel sorry for her but once the dark side comes through I ended up feeling rather indifferent and at the end, hating her for the lives she has ruined. How can such a lovable character turn into such an evil person. Her bossiness towards her older brother is scary and her sexual antics are rather shocking. The other characters within the book seem to placed there for Beatrice to walk over. Reading the book gives you an insight into how the Lord's and Ladies of England and their families lived during the 18 century and how they seemed to be above the law in their treatment of their tenants and their belief that they owned these tenants and had every right to do this treatment. I found it very easy to visualise the Hall and its surroundings from the descriptions that Philippa writes into her books and visualise the type of clothes that they wore, in fact I could have easily been there. The book is 622 pages long but one thing I didn't like was the length of chapters. The only time I get to read is a bedtime and like my books to have short chapters so I can read maybe one or two chapters at night. I found that once I got into the book I would want to read a full chapter but just didn't have time, so I would end up having to put the book down half way through a chapter to go to sleep but I found I wanted to know what would happen next so ended up not being able to sleep. In the end I thoroughly enjoyed reading the first part of this Trilogy and have now started on the second, The Favoured Child. This book would make an ideal holiday read for when you are relaxing and have the time to read such long chapters This book retails for £7.99 but if you buy it from Amazon it costs £4.31. Many thanks for reading. Anna
Like most people who have reviewed this product recently I am a Bzz agent and have been sent two bars of chocolate for me to try and tell the world about. The two chocolate bars I received were Seeds of Change Dark chocolate Orange and Fig and a second bar of Milk chocolate Apricot and Cashew. I had never heard of the Seeds of Change company and after checking them out on the internet, it turns out they are an Organic food company who make organic soups, sauces and pasta and have recently gone into the chocolate field, trying to be competition to Green and Blacks. I love milk chocolate especially fruit and nut and was pleased to see this milk bar in the box along with a couple of money off vouchers. So the second bar I am going to review is the Seeds of Change Milk Chocolate Apricot and Cashew. The 100g chocolate bar is encased in foil and wrapped in a burnt orange and medium brown colour (the colour of the chocolate bar) paper wrapper with a drawing of a tree, grass, a peacock and a few butterflies dotted around for good measure, all the wrappings are of course recyclable. On the front of the wrapper it states "Grown for Pleasure" and "Malatya apricots dried naturally under the Turkish sun, married with crisp cashews and folded into out sublime, full-cream milk chocolate. Relax". On the back of the wrapper is another splurge of words "In our world, dried apricots aren't bright orange, they're a deep dark copper colour - telling us that they're free from any chemical preservatives. We buy ours in Malatya, Turkey, where they are naturally dried in the open air and have an irresistibly intense sweetness. In fact the Turks have a proverb about their apricots "bunden iyisi sam 'da kayisi", loosely meaning "it doesn't get any better than this". Although once they are folded into our milk chocolate, and married with the sweet, crisp cashew nuts - we think it does ". So at least on this bar they didn't tell me how to open the bar! So I've opened the wrapper and have the bar in front of me. The milk chocolate bar is moulded into 10 cubes of around an inch square, 5 cubes are stamped with 'Seeds of change organic' and the other 5 are stamped with something that looks a bit like an orange. The smell of the chocolate bar is creamy. I snap off a piece of chocolate and place gently in my gob and chew. The taste of the chocolate is creamy but I can't seem to get any taste of apricot and there is certainly no crisp cashew nuts to bite into. The apricots are chopped to about ½ cm but the cashews are chopped up so small they are virtually undetectable The bar contains 8% of apricot pieces and 7 % of cashew nuts. 3 pieces of chocolate contain 158 calories and 9.8 grams of fat which on checking out a bar of Green and Blacks Raisin and hazelnut this chocolate is reasonable. The chocolate contains a minimum of 35% cocoa solids which is less than Green and Blacks The chocolate contains traces of hazelnut, almond and other nuts, so is not suitable for people with nut allergies, also I can't find anywhere on the wrapper of this chocolate where it states it is suitable for vegetarians. The chocolate meets the soil association's standard for organic food and farming and has organic certification IT-QCI. 1% of all their sales goes back into research and promotion of biodiversity and sustainable organic practices, so that's 2p accounted for, it probably costs around 92p to make and pay the workers, so could the other £1.00 be profit! This chocolate is available in Sainsbury's for £1.94 or Waitrose for £1.99 and has four different flavours, Plain Dark Chocolate, Dark Chocolate Orange and Fig, Dark Chocolate Hazelnut and Walnut and Milk Chocolate Apricot and Cashew, or from health food shops. Unlike the Fig and Orange bar that Bzz sent me, this bar is not out of date and has a best before of April 2010. Seeds of Change Freeby Lane, Waltham on the Wolds, Leicestershire, LE14 4RS, www.seedsofchange.co.uk, telephone 0800 9520000 My opinion. Unlike the Fig and Orange bar, I quite liked this chocolate, the chocolate was creamy but did take a while to melt in the mouth. The apricots were quite chewy but the cashew nuts just weren't big enough for me, if they were slightly bigger, the crunch would have complimented the chewiness of the apricots very well. I could easily sit and munch my way through this bar while sitting watching a good film on the television, which pleased me unlike the fig and orange. I wouldn't go out of my way to buy this chocolate though, if I should particularly want to buy an organic fruit and nut chocolate I would buy Green and Blacks Raisin and Hazelnuts, its cheaper and contains a lot more nuts to give you a better crunch. Sorry Seeds of Change but I can honestly say you have not managed to poach me from Green and Blacks. Some of the information in this review has been taken from my other review on Seeds of Change Fig and Orange Chocolate bar. Many thanks for reading. Anna
Like most people who have reviewed this product recently I am a Bzz agent and have been sent two bars of chocolate for me to try and tell the world about. The two chocolate bars I received were Seeds of Change Dark chocolate Orange and Fig and a second bar of Milk chocolate Apricot and Cashew. I had never heard of the Seeds of Change company and after checking them out on the internet, it turns out they are an Organic food company who make organic soups, sauces and pasta and have recently gone into the chocolate field, trying to be competition to Green and Blacks. I admit I am not a lover of plain chocolate, I find it far too bitter but I do quite like Green and Blacks Plain Chocolate, and I would never turn down a free bar or two of chocolate. So the first bar I am going to review is the Dark Chocolate Orange and Fig. The 100g chocolate bar is encased in foil and wrapped in a dark pink and dark brown (the colour of the chocolate bar) paper wrapper with a drawing of a palm tree, orange tree, grass, a stork and various frogs, dragon flies and butterflies, all the wrappings are of course recyclable. On the front of the wrapper it states "Grown for pleasure" and "Fragrant figs ripened in the Aegean sun, paired with zesty oranges, enveloped in our rich dark chocolate heaven". On the back it gives you directions of how to open and eat the chocolate, "Open this wrapper and summoning all the willpower you can, hold back for just a moment. First, breath in this chocolates aroma: Trinitario cocoa giving the chocolate its rich complexity. The delicate orange zest with tangerine overtones. All imbued with fragrant figs, ripened under the hot sun of the Aegean. Now Taste. By the way, we only use figs from female fig trees (the males being inferior, are discarded) Sexist? Fruitist? Unashamedly yes". So now I know how to open a bar of chocolate, as if I didn't know! What a waste to discard the male fig, surely they could be used in something, not very fig friendly in my opinion. Its a good job I am writing this review otherwise I would have just ripped open the wrapper and rammed a chunk in my gob and not held back to enjoy the moment of the chocolates aroma! So I've opened the wrapper and have the bar in front of me. The dark chocolate bar is moulded into 10 cubes of around an inch square, 5 cubes are stamped with 'Seeds of change organic' and the other 5 are stamped with something that looks a bit like an orange. The smell of cocoa is strong and at 59% it should be, but the smell of orange is undetectable. I snap off a piece of chocolate and place gently in my gob and chew and chew and chew. The taste of the plain chocolate overpowers the delicate flavour of orange so overpowering that I can't actually taste the delicate orange, the tiny figs are crunchy with the seeds, 5 minutes later I've still got the seeds hanging around in my mouth. The chocolate is quite firm and certainly not melt in the mouth and the figs taste of nothing really. Three pieces later and I have had enough, even just smelling the chocolate is making me feel sick and that is totally not like me, I am a rather overweight chocoholic and can easily clear a full bar but not this. This is certainly not a bar of chocolate that I would want to pig out on, in fact I could put it down and never pick it up again. The bar contains 17% of fig pieces and 0.01% of orange oil (that will be why I can't taste the orange then!). Oh those 3 pieces I've just eaten contain 149 calories and 9.4 grams of fat which on checking out a bar of Green and Blacks Cherry chocolate is reasonable. The chocolate contains traces of hazelnut, almond and other nuts, so is not suitable for people with nut allergies, also I can't find anywhere on the wrapper if this chocolate where it states it is suitable for vegetarians. The chocolate meets the soil association's standard for organic food and farming and has organic certification IT-QCI. 1% of all their sales goes back into research and promotion of biodiversity and sustainable organic practices, so that's 2p accounted for, it probably costs around 92p to make and pay the workers, so could the other £1.00 be profit! This chocolate is available in Sainsbury's for £1.94 or Waitrose for £1.99 and has four different flavours, Plain Dark Chocolate, Dark Chocolate Orange and Fig, Dark Chocolate Hazelnut and Walnut and Milk Chocolate Apricot and Cashew, or from health food shops. I would love to say how long the best before date is but the bar I was sent was actually out of date! Seeds of Change Freeby Lane, Waltham on the Wolds, Leicestershire, LE14 4RS, www.seedsofchange.co.uk, telephone 0800 9520000 Summary. This is not something I will ever buy again, the chocolate was just to sickly for me and the figs were far too seedy, lets hope the milk chocolate fairs better. For me I will be sticking with Green and Blacks, there is a lot more selection and it's cheaper. I gave the rest of my bar to my mum who likes dark chocolate, when I rung her to ask what she thought, she said she had a couple of chunks and it made her fill sick as well! Many thanks for reading. Anna
had completely forgotten I had wanted to do this review and it wasn't until the Tesco Delivery driver asked about my holiday and was telling me that he had change his mind about using his Tesco Clubcard vouchers to pay for his holiday that it reminded me that I had wanted to put my point of view about the Clubcard vouchers across. So here goes. Applying for a Club card The Tesco Clubcard is a loyalty scheme offered by Tesco. You can pick up the card (looks like a standard plastic Credit/Debit card with Tesco Clubcard printed on it, your unique club card number and your name)and application form at any Tesco, then either post your application form in using the free post address or register your card on the telephone using their freephone telephone number or alternately register on-line however you still need to pick up a card in-store, register this card on-line as a temporary card then Tesco will send you a new card once you have registered on-line in about 3 weeks. You can also link other members of your family's cards to your account and also get a key fob to use instead of carrying around a card (I've given my Dad a fob in case he ever goes into Tesco). When you have your card or key fob, just hand it over to the cashier when you pay for your purchases and they will scan your card and your points are added. Collecting Clubcard points Once you have your card, you can then collect one point for every pound you spend in-store, petrol purchased at Tesco or on-line with Tesco.com and Tesco Direct. You can also get extra points by linking a Tesco Credit Card to your cCubcard (5 points for every £4.00 spent with Tesco and 1 point for every £4.00 spent everywhere else), Tesco Insurance (points vary), Tesco Mobile Telephone (3 points for every £1.00 spent on Top up), Tesco Broadband (points vary), Tesco Opticians (not sure how points work), green Clubcard points for reusing carrier bags (1 - 4 points depending on size of bag reused), recycling mobile telephones or ink cartridges through Tesco (up to 200 green points) and for buying your gas and electricity from EON (1 point for every £1.00 paid I think). When do I get my vouchers and how much are they worth? One point is worth 1p and every three months (February, May, August and November) Tesco send out a Statement with any vouchers you have accumulated in pounds, any odd pence is carried over to the following statement or you can opt to join the Christmas Club which means they send you out a statement four times a year but you don't receive your vouchers until the November Statement and if you have more than £100.00 in vouchers you can get a bonus of between £1.00 and £5.00 These vouchers show the value it is worth along with an on-line code for you to use, if you want to either spend on-line or exchange for rewards(see further down). Your vouchers are valid for 2 years. With this statement, you are also sent extra vouchers for you to get extra points or money off certain items in-store. When you shop in a Tesco shop and hand over your Clubcard, points are added to your account and a statement showing how many points you got on that shop and how many you have is printed at the bottom of your receipt, sometimes you can also get a voucher tailored to some items that you buy either giving you more points or money off certain items (my last visit gave me a £3.00 money off voucher for Pampers nappies). Spending your vouchers. When you receive your paper vouchers through the post you can use them in store on groceries (£1.00 is worth £1.00), or you can double the value of a £5.00 voucher to £10.00 to spend in certain departments in store (Clothing, Toys, Baby Goods, Cosmetics, Skincare and Fragrances, Tesco Mobile Top-ups, Wine and Champagne, Flowers, Plants and Gardening, Travel Insurance or On-line Grocery Delivery Charges). This exchange can be done at the customer services desk in store. Lastly you can exchange a £5.00 voucher for a £20.00 voucher to spend with Tesco Partners (various different large chain restaurants, magazine subscriptions, days out to various attractions and Theme Parks, Air miles (£2.50 in vouchers gives you 60 air miles) or BA miles (£2.50 gives you 600 miles but only when you are a member of the BA Executive Club), Holidays (including Butlins, Cosmos and Virgin), Cinema tickets, Theatre shows and Weekend breaks (large Chained hotels such as Marriott and Hilton). Exchanging your vouchers If you choose to to exchange your vouchers for Clubcard Rewards (previously called Clubcard Deals), you select your reward on-line, add however much you want to exchange to your shopping basket, use the on-line code that is on your voucher at check out and the reward tokens are sent out in the post about 5 days later. You can then use you tokens as full or part payment towards your chosen reward. My experience of using the vouchers. I have a Tesco credit card with is linked to my Clubcard which I use for everything then clear the balance at the end of the month so it doesn't cost me any interest and use EON for my electricity (only because they took over Powergen) but this boosts my Clubcard points. In the past I have always used my vouchers for my Christmas shopping, before child it would be to buy a load of alcohol, after child it would be to buy Birthday and Christmas presents for Holly (just 5 days in between) and any left over would go towards the Christmas grocery shop. This year however we decided we would use the vouchers as part payment towards our holiday to Egypt booked through Cosmos. We got the Cosmos brochure, decided where we wanted to go, exchanged my £177.50 worth of vouchers and received my £710.00 worth of tokens. You need to receive your tokens at least 1 month before you intend to go on holiday and then tokens are valid for 6 months. The tokens can be used as your deposit if you have booked far enough in advance that you only need to leave a deposit on your holiday or if not you pay for your holiday in full, send your tokens in the post to Cosmos using special delivery and they will then, when they receive the tokens, they will either use them as the deposit or if you have paid in fill, credit the token amount back onto your credit card that you paid with. However this Reward isn't as good as it sounds. I checked Cosmos holidays on-line, which is normally how we book our holiday, to receive an on-line discount, the on-line discount for this holiday was £320.00, however you can not use the tokens if you book your holiday on-line, it has to booked over the telephone, which meant we lost the on-line discount and was limited to using just one company. I would normally call into my local travel agent to find out which company is offering the cheapest deal on my desired holiday, then book on-line to get it even cheaper. So although we had £710.00 off the cost of our holiday, it had cost me my £177.50 vouchers and I had lost the £320.00 on-line discount I had in fact only saved just over £210.00, which if I had shopped around could have got this back with booking through another company. I will continue to collect my Clubcard points but whilst looking through the Tesco Reward site today found they now offer the rewards for Children's Live Shows (Hopefully Cbeebies Live will be included nearer Christmas so I will use some of the tokens towards this) take a couple of family days out in the summer, maybe treat Darren to a £14.00 Top Gear Magazine subscription for a year and possibly take a country weekend break to a fancy hotel and any left I might double up to get some clothes for myself but I doubt I will use any for my grocery shopping again. Would I recommend have the card? Yes I would. It costs you nothing to get the card and even if you only shop in Tesco once in a blue moon it would be worth getting the card because they hold your points indefinitely until you have enough to be sent a voucher, but if like me, you are saving your vouchers up to use on a holiday I would check the prices with other companies because it may be more cost effective to keep your vouchers and use them for other things. To find out more about a Tesco Clubcard visit http://www.tesco.com/clubcard/clubcard/ or telephone 0800 591 688 or write to Tesco Clubcard Freepost Tesco Sco 3145 Dundee DD2 3ZR Many thanks for taking the time to Read. Anna This review can be found on another review site.
I have been thinking about writing this review for a while but last night I had to have one of my dogs put to sleep so I am dedicating this review to the memory of my little Rolo. Rolo was always a rather difficult dog and would not let me anywhere near him to clean his teeth, as soon as the tooth chews came out I started buying them and giving him them some dried food for dinner as a way of keeping his and my other dog, Fudge's, teeth clean, however this was never the case with Rolo, he would eat his food so quick and chew the chew so quick that they were not having any effect. So in November last year we took him to the vets because he was even more grumpier than normal and they found he needed 12 teeth out. So gummy came home with his remaining teeth lovely and clean, then just three months later he became grumpy again and needed yet another 8 teeth out, each time this operation was costing around the £200.00 mark. When I picked him up the second time I asked the nurse if there was anything available for me to give him as he wouldn't let me near his mouth to clean his teeth, she told me about PlaqueOff, a powder that you sprinkle on your pets food and it should remove plaque, so I thought I would give it a try. What is PlaqueOff PlaqueOff is manufactured by the Swedish company ProDen and has been available for use since 2001. It is a specially selected seaweed that contains iodine (SW1313/D1070) which is ground up into a powder and put onto your pets food. It comes in a white plastic pot with a picture of a dog and cat on the front. The contents are a dark green colour and you can see it is ground up seaweed. It has a slight smell but is not unpleasant. PlaqueOff comes in three different sized pots and each pot is supplied with a small spoon for ease of application. It is free from artificial colours, preservatives, gluten and sugar. It is suitable for use on dogs and cats but they do also sell a human version in tablet form. They do not recommend use on pregnant or nursing animals or animals undergoing treatment for hyperthyroidism. How does it work. The powder is absorbed into the blood stream and then out through the saliva where it disrupts the bio-film that causes plaque, tarter and bad breath thus over time reducing the build up. It claims results are normally seen after 3 - 8 weeks. How much should I give my pets. For small dogs up to 10 kg and cats ½ to 1 scoop, medium dogs 10 - 25 kg 1 - 2 scoops and large and giant dogs over 25 kg 2 - 3 scoops sprinkled over their food. For a medium size dog the smallest pot of 60g should last around 6 months. A small pot of 60g cost me £12.05 plus vat (Holly what have you done with my calculator!) at my local vets but is cheaper if you buy it on line. It lasted me under 1 month but as well as Rolo and Fudge I also sprinkle it on my 3 cats food. Does it work. I've been sprinkling this on all my animals food for the last 3 months. I have noticed a vast improvement on Fudge's teeth, she is a Labrador/Springer Spaniel cross and is the size of a lab so she gets 2 scoops, the tarter hasn't fully gone but it has certainly improved by I'd say about 75%. On my oldest cat, Muffin, she is around 13 years old her teeth have improved dramatically I'd say around 95%, my two younger cats 7 and 6 had fairly good teeth anyway but they now have purrfect teeth. I tend to sprinkle one spoonful over their tinned food every time they get fed, 2 - 3 times a day. Sadly we will never know if it worked for Rolo, who was the main reason why I bought it. I knew when I sprinkled it on the dogs food that they would still eat it (dogs seem to eat anything), however I was unsure whether the cats would tuck into their tinned food, but it has never stopped them. As I stated earlier in the review I use this in conjunction with a Tesco Teeth chew and a mixture of dried and tinned food for the dogs. The cats have a bowl of tinned food and another bowl containing dried biscuits. My parents have started using this too and they have said they have noticed an improvement in their chihuahuas teeth. To me it seems to have quicker results on smaller animals. I read a few testimonials on the PlaqueOff website and some people have used it with the normal daily brushing of teeth and have had fantastic results, but have they ever tried cleaning cats teeth! There seems to be no minimum age for giving it to your pets and using this even if you can't see any plaque will do no harm and should stop any plaque from forming. PlaqueOff is available in three sizes, 60g, 180g and 420g and costs £8.54 inc vat, £24.22 inc vat and £43.73 inc vat at www.petmeds.co.uk (which is a lot cheaper than my Vets) and is available without prescription. My second pot lasted me about 2 ½ months so I have just purchased my third pot the large 420g. It has an open life of 1 year. I would recommend this if you have any dogs or cats, I would say it is reasonably priced at petmeds and would have certainly saved me a lot of money if I had known this product exists. I just wish my vets would have told me about this after Rolo's first teeth extractions, but then again they will be losing business! I hope this review make sense as my brain is not engaged at the moment! Many thanks for reading. Anna In loving memory of my little Rolo who is now running around the great park in sky (oh god I'm crying again). This review can be found on another review site.
The sun is shining and I'm waiting for my husband to cook tea on the barbecue. In my hand is a glass of home-made iced Elderflower cordial, lovely. It is very easy to make your own elderflower cordial especially for me as I live very rural, so I just take a summertime stroll around the local fields and come home with a carrier bag full of elderflower heads. What you need for 3 litres of Cordial: 50 Elderflower Heads - Free from your local countryside 2.4 litres of water - free from your tap 1.8 kg granulated or caster sugar £1.70 or 1 kg of Silverspoon light granulated sugar (£1.50) 4 oranges sliced - Tesco Value £1.00 for 6 3 lemons sliced - Tesco Value 50p for 4 100g citric acid - cost £1.50 Shake off the Elderflower heads to remove any creepy crawlies. Boil up the water and sugar in a large saucepan or boil your water in a kettle and pour into a large saucepan over the sugar, stir until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat. Chuck in the sliced oranges, lemons, Elderflower heads. Stir on the citric acid. Cover and leave in infuse for about 24 hours I stir it occasionally when I walk past it. This all takes around 5 minutes for it is very quick. After 24 hours strain through a sieve lined with a clean tea towel and pour into clean plastic bottles and use. To serve, pour a little of the cordial into a glass and top up with still or sparkling water, a slice of lemon and some ice cubes. For an alcoholic twist pour in a measure of gin or vodka. Perfect for relaxing in the evening sun. This recipe costs around £4.50 for 3 litres, you can buy Elderflower cordial from Tesco for £1.83 for 50 cl so for 3 litres would cost you £10.98. The only problem I had with making this cordial was getting hold of the Citric Acid. It is a controlled substance (me being Mrs Naive have no idea what is is used for) so is not readily available on the high street but some independent chemists sell it or you can buy Citric Acid from Home Brew sites on the internet.
As if by magic - the shopkeeper appears. If you remember those words then congratulations you grew up the same time as me in the late 60's early 70's. A time of innocence, when children could be children and were sent out by their parents to play out on the streets with their friends, where you could pretend to be absolutely anything in the whole wide world. A time when the world was developing fast, computers were just around the corner, children never had rights, you would get a clip around the ear for answering your parents back and the Police were people that you feared. Your Flared trousers were so big you could get your legs twisted in them and fall over and who can forget the wedge heel. Kids television would only be on at certain times of the day as there was only 3 channels to choose from and two of those were by the BBC. At lunch times I would be called and settled down to watch one of the BBC Watch with Mother programmes, Camberwick Green, Trumpton, Bod, Mary Mungo and Midge and one of my favourites Mr Benn. So you can imagine my delight, when just before Christmas I was looking through the Amazon website looking for some Christmas and Birthday presents for Holly after finding £70 of Amazon vouchers on one of my survey sites that I had forgotten all about. There is was, along with some other delights that all found their way into my shopping basket. Mr Benn was created by David McKee and first appeared in book form in 1970 before being made into a television series of 13 episodes broadcast on the BBC in 1971 and 1972. He was a very well dressed, polite gentleman, in his black business suit and bowler hat, looking more like a city worker than the explorer he turned out to be. Living at 52 Festive Road in London, keeping himself to himself, he stumbles upon a very unusual fancy dress shop run by a kind but strange shopkeeper wearing a fez with a matching red waistcoat. Once picking an outfit and taking it into the changing room, a second door could be found within the changing room and is the magical gateway that leads Mr Benn to lots of extraordinary adventures. Once Mr Benn has finished his adventure a man looking a lot like the shop keeper always appears and asks Mr Benn to go through a door, this always takes Mr Benn back into the fitting room where he can change back into his everyday clothes. At the end of each episode Mr Benn would find a memento of his adventure, he would keep these to remind himself of where he had been and what had happened. Episode 1 - The Red Knight Mr Benn receives an invitation to attend a fancy dress party. He goes off in search of a shop that hire out or sell outfits for such a party. He visits a number of shops but can not find anything suitable. Mr Benn eventually gets drawn to a shop down a little back lane. On entering the shop he finds many different costumes for him to select and then all of a sudden, as if by magic, the shopkeeper appears. He speaks to Mr Benn and then suggests that Mr Benn try on an outfit that takes his fancy. He shows Mr Benn into the fitting room where he tries on the Knights outfit, all of a sudden, Mr Benn spots a second door in the fitting room and decides to have a look through the door. Once through the door, Mr Benn enters a land of rocks and spies a sad looking dragon sitting there. He goes and talks to the dragon, who tells him that he had been banished from the village he came from because a man selling matches started to spread lies about him. He then starts to tell Mr Benn the story of what happened. Can Mr Benn help the dragon return home? When Mr Benn's job is done a man appears and asks Mr Benn to go through a door. On the other side Mr Benn finds himself back in the changing room. He gets changed back to his everyday clothes, thanks the shopkeeper for an exciting adventure and returns home. On his way home Mr Benn puts his hand in his pocket and finds a box of matches with a picture of the dragon on it. Mr Benn decides to keep the memento of his adventure safe. Episode 2 - The Hunter Mr Benn fancies going on an adventure, so decides to visit the costume shop. Once there he picks a Hunters outfit. Going through the door he comes across a gentleman whom claims to be the greatest big game hunter ever born. Mr Benn obviously does not like the idea of killing animals and every time the Big Game Hunter spots an animal Mr Benn stops him by saying surely you can find something bigger to shot. Whilst the hunter is asleep, Mr Benn hears a thundering noise and goes off to find out what it is. He comes across a herd of elephants in a panic saying that they were going to be shot when the hunter wakes off. Mr Benn comes up with an idea and tells the Elephants what it is. Can Mr Benn stop the elephants from being shot? Memento - Photo of the Elephants. Episode 3 - The Cook. An Ice Cream van appears on Festive Road, so the children rush outside. This prompts Mr Benn to visit the costume shop. Once inside, Mr Benn spies a Chefs outfit and decides that is the outfit he wants to wear. Once through the door he finds himself in a dingy back street with loads of thin children wearing rags just lying about. Walking along towards the palace are loads of other men wearing chefs outfits, so Mr Benn joins the group. Once in the palace, the chefs are instructed to cook something for Princess Annabella who just refuses to eat anything at all and is quite happy to just waste everything. Can Mr Benn come up with an idea that might get the Princess eating and stop all the food prepared being wasted? Memento - Wooden Spoon. Episode 4 - The Caveman A traffic jam occurs in Festive Road causing quite a bit of noise. Mr Benn can't relax at home so decides to go for a walk because he wants to go on another adventure. This time a caveman outfit takes his fancy, mainly because there are no cars in the pre-historic period. Once through the door, he finds himself in a cave. Out in the open, he sees all the cavemen sitting in the entrance of their caves and can't understand why they are not relaxing in the sun. He decides he is going to lie down in the sun but all of a sudden, there is a rumbling noise and the cavemen start to shout at him to get out of the way. Next minute the dinosaurs come rushing past. The cavemen tell Mr Benn that it is like that every morning when the dinosaurs are trying to get the best place at the watering hole and every evening when they rush back trying to get the best place to sleep. Mr Benn says he fancies a walk about so the cavemen give his a guided tour. Can Mr Benn come up with an idea of how to give the cavemen a quieter life away from the road? Memento - Stone Hammer Episode 5 - The Balloonist The kids are playing outside in the sunshine on Festive Road, blowing up balloons and letting them go. Mr Benn goes for a walk and finds himself outside the costume shop. He settles on a Victorian outfit. Once through the door, he finds himself in a park with a number of hot air balloons each with two men in the baskets, all fired up and ready to start a race to the next town. In one of the balloon baskets Mr Benn spots a young lad on his own, so he starts talking to him. Mr Benn asks why he is on his own and the boy tells him that his friend has been commandeered to join the balloon of Baron Bartrum, a well known cheater. The young man asks Mr Benn to join him in his balloon, which Mr Benn is happy to do. Can Mr Benn help the young man to win the race and beat the cheating Baron Bartrum? Memento - Medal. Episode 6 - Zoo Keeper Mr Benn is bored of sitting in his little room so goes for a walk to the shop. He asks the shopkeeper to choose an outfit for him, which the shop keeper duly does. Mr Benn goes through the door and finds himself in a zoo with a load of sad animals. He starts talking to a parrot who tells that all the animals are so sad because their cages are far too small for them. Mr Benn releases the animals and tells them to hide, he then runs into the local town and tells the people that the zoo animals have escaped and they should go to the zoo for protection and hide in the cages because that is the last place the animals would look. Can Mr Benn make the people understand why the animals are so sad? Memento - Parrot Feather. Episode 7 - The Diver Mr Benn is standing next to the river watching the world go by when he decides to give his favourite shop a visit. This time a frogman outfit catches his eye. Once through the door, Mr Benn spots some fisherman standing next to two submarines on opposite sides of the bay, so he starts talking to the first captain, then talks to the other captain. Both captains tell him that they are both trying to photo the sea monster before the other team take a photo. Mr Benn dives into the sea and starts swimming about with the vast array of fish until he spots a mermaid. He begins asking her about what it is like living under the sea. She tells him it is nice but King Neptune wants the submarines to go away so they can live in peace. He then goes to meet King Neptune and spots the monster sitting at the side of the King. Can Mr Benn come up with an idea that will keep the captains and King Neptune happy? Memento - Sea Shell. Episode 8 - The Wizard All the locals on Festive Road are heading to the park to watch a magic show. Instead of stopping to watch the show, he heads to the costume shop. This time he picks a wizard outfit. Mr Benn finds himself in a cave surrounded by lots of potions and a magic book. Two soldiers come into the cave and ask Mr Benn to accompany them to the palace because the Queen would like to talk to him. The happy King is sitting next to the Queen with a smile on his face, however the Queen would like the King to change and maybe be more jolly. Can Mr Benn persuade the Queen to accept the King just as he is? Memento - Jar of Magic Dust Episode 9 - The Cowboy The children of Festive Road are playing Cowboys and Indians. This prompts Mr Benn to go the cinema to see the Western Film that is playing, however the queue is so long he decides he wants to be a cowboy instead. Once through the door, Mr Benn spots a Cowboy Town and an Indian Camp. He takes a sneaky peek at the Indian camp and watches the Indians dancing around a Totem pole and then hears them planning to attack the Cowboy Town. Mr Benn sets off as fast as he can to warn the Cowboys because he doesn't want anybody hurt, only to be informed by the Sheriff that it is a game of hide and seek that the Indians always win. Can Mr Benn help the Cowboys to win the game? Memento - Sherrifs Badge. Episode 10 - The Clown The Circus is coming to town and the children are getting ready by pretending they are performing in one. When Mr Benn gets to the costume shop, the Shopkeeper has already picked a costume for him and gives him a clown outfit. Mr Benn goes through the door expecting to find himself in a circus ring, but instead he finds himself in a clearing with a small clowns car waiting for him. He drives the car along the road until he comes upon a traffic jam of circus vehicles with all the members of the circus arguing. He goes to enquire what the problem is and finds out the the circus is wanting to get the next town but the bridge is down and all the circus performers are arguing about how they are going to get across. Can Mr Benn get the circus team to work together to solve the problem? Memento - Red Nose Episode 11 - The Magic Carpet. Mr Benn is out having a walk when he spots a doorstep salesman trying to sell a carpet to gentleman. He finds himself outside his secret shop and goes in. There he spots an Arabian costume with a carpet rolled up next to it. He finds himself in a desert so unrolls the carpet on the sand and sits down to think about what he is going to do next, as soon as he has sat down the carpet rises into the air and starts flying above an Arabian Village. Mr Benn spots a man grab a boy and carry him off. In fear of the boys life, Mr Benn follows them to see what is happening. The evil man sends the boy into a cave to retrieve a bottle. The boy gets the bottle but before he can give it to the man a bird steals it and drops it high on a mountain. The man tells the boy to climb the mountain and bring him the bottle back. Mr Benn tells the boy to climb on his carpet and he will help him get the bottle. They get the bottle and decide to open it and a Genie pops out and offers them three wishes. Can Mr Benn come up with a solution to help the Genie live the rest of his life free and happy? Memento - Stopper from the Genie Bottle Episode 12 - The Spaceman. The children of Festive Road are playing with rockets and Mr Benn is discussing with his neighbour why each of their grass looks greener than the other one. After the conversation Mr Benn decides he would like to see what his garden looks like from space. Mr Benn goes through the door and finds himself in a spaceship with another spaceman. The other spaceman tells Mr Benn that he wants to go to a planet that is covered with gold and jewels because he wants to be rich. They land on the planet and find a man wearing rags and looking unhappy. The man asks them what they are doing, so they tell him they are collecting the gold and jewels because they want to be rich. The man replies that as soon as you take the gold and jewels from the planet they will turn to stone but suggests they go to the next planet because everything is free. Mr Benn and the spaceman decide to go from planet to planet but will they find the perfect planet? Memento - Piece of Space Stone Episode 13 - The Pirate A bad storm struck Festive Road over night but the skies have now started to clear so Mr Benn goes for a walk. Once in the shop he can't decide what outfit he wants to wear so closes his eyes, turns around and points to one, a Pirate Outfit. Once through the door, Mr Benn finds himself on a ship with the Jolly Roger flag and realises he is on a pirate ship. Mr Benn starts talking to the sailors who tell him that they are pirates but don't want to steal things from other ships. The next minute, Captain Tempest spots another ship in the distance and tells the pirates to sail to it so they can steal everything on board but the pirates don't want to so pretend to sail badly so the other ship gets away. The captain gets angry at the loss of yet another ship and calls his sailors useless. He decides to sail to his island but is sad because he has no treasure buried on it. A storm begins at sea and they spot a ship is distress. Can Mr Benn persuade the Captain that it would be more rewarding for them to rescue the ship than to steal all the goods? Memento - Jolly Roger Flag. Extra Episode. This episode is the only extra on the DVD and was made in 2004 for Nickelodeon UK. It looks very similar to the episodes made in 1970 although the clothes have been updated and I found it had a lot more background noise than the other episodes. I wonder if they made this episode to see how it would go down in today's world to maybe think about making a new series. Episode 14 - The Gladiator Festive Road is being dug up so Mr Benn wants to visit the costume shop. Mr Benn spots a Roman Gladiator outfit and chuckles to himself that the Romans used to make excellent roads. He finds himself in the countryside with a lot of slaves building a road, when the Emperor comes to look how everything is going. Pleased with the progress, the Emperor shouts to Mr Benn and tells him to bring the slave that is standing next to him. Both Mr Benn and the slave get thrown into different prisons. Mr Benn then starts talking to one of the other Gladiators who tells him that they have all been ordered to fight for their lives against the slaves but nobody wants to do it. Mr Benn tells them to just say no but if they do not fight they will be fed to the lions. Can Mr Benn come up with an idea to save the lives of everybody? Memento - Whistle Each episode is 15 minutes long and the best way I can think of describing it, is a sort of animated programme but more like looking at a book with the camera moving along the page. Most of the characters do not move apart from Mr Benn whose legs sometimes move very fast. Each episode is narrated by Ray Brooks (EastEnders fans will remember him as being Joe Macer, the man who murdered his wife, Pauline Fowler). You can hear background noise of children playing and birds singing on Festive Road and you find that whatever is happening on Festive Road at the start of each episode ties in with the adventure the Mr Benn will be going on. You can tell it is made in the 70's by the fashions of that day. The colours of the programmes are bright and vibrant apart from on the last episode made in 2004, I found the colours were not as pronounced and the drawing was a lot more refined. The DVD can keep younger children occupied however I would think older children will find it boring, not enough action for them. Holly sits and watches this and seems to enjoy it, Mummy sits and watches it and loves it. Watching it now in my cough cough early 40's I can now see a lot more meaning to the episodes. They are not very educational compared to a lot of kids programmes shown on Cbeebies now, however they do have and underlying meaning the Red Knight is don't tell lies it can cause trouble and you will be found out in the end, The Zoo Keeper, animals are at their best roaming free and not living in tiny cages, The Spaceman, there is no place like the planet like Earth. The DVD runs for approx 192 minutes and is universal, suitable for all. It was produced by Contender Home Entertainment in 2005. You can buy the DVD from Amazon or Tesco for £4.58 or from Play.com for a whopping £14.99, so do shop around. Many thanks for reading. Anna This review hs previously been published on another review site by me.
So for this years holiday I decided to use our Tesco club card vouchers as part payment to save a little bit of ready cash, to do this however we were limited to one tour operator and this was Cosmos. We do like to do all inclusive as we know that all food and drink will be paid for and we only need to take spending money for gifts etc. so picked up the Cosmos All Inclusive Brochure from the local travel agents and started looking through to pick our annual holiday. I quite fancied trying Tunisia for a change but read a couple of reviews and didn't fancy the hotel I had picked so settled on going back to Egypt for the 3rd time, 2nd time to Sharm El Sheikh knowing we would be guaranteed the weather and we knew what to expect from the area. We first visited Sharm about two years ago but was not happy with the hotel that we picked last time, (it was the First Choice Holiday Village and had it not been for the lovely weather I would have sworn we had gone to Butlins, as all these family villages are the same all over the world you have no idea what country you are in) so this time we wanted a more Egyptian hotel. The Sea Club resort is owned by Flash International who operate a number of cruise ships along the Nile and a number of hotels along the Red Sea (3 in Sharm) which they claim offer 5* luxury and you can use the facilities in any of their hotel in the area, what more could anybody want. So holiday booked, Tesco's shelves cleared of every sun cream and medical remedy possible, everything including the kitchen sink packed and an excited 3 year old in tow we set off for two weeks at the seaside. The Sea Club Resort and Sea Life Resort (both owned by Flash International and situated next door to each other) are located 5km from Sharm Airport and about 20 km from Naama Bay (Sharm El Sheikh city centre). Anybody that has flown to the different planet known as Sharm El Sheikh International Airport will know that when you eventually escape bedlam all you want to do is check into your hotel and relax. After 3 hours in bedlam we boarded our bus for the 5 to 10 minute journey and arrived at the luxurious hotel. Check in, in the large impressive marble floored reception area with a few settees and coffee tables dotted about, was very quick, three receptionists dealing with three groups of people, forms signed, passports copied we were given our beach towel cards and key we were taken by the concierge to our room just in time for a quick wash and dinner, with our luggage arriving at our rooms about 5 minutes after we got there. The Rooms The Sea Club has 350 rooms of which 288 are twin bedded, 42 are king sized bedded and 20 are junior suites. The rooms are situated in blocks of 20 - 40 rooms nestled in gardens around the swimming pool. The blocks are designed in an Andalusian style and are painted cream. Looking at the rooms, only a few have a sea view for which you pay extra although included in this upgrade are bath robes, slippers, beach towel, afternoon tea, candlelit dinner and fruit basket in room on arrival but most have a view of the pool and the gardens. All rooms have a safe, satellite TV, mini-fridge containing 1 large bottle of water per person (not stocked again throughout the stay), shower and toilet, hair drier, air-conditioning and a balcony or terrace. Rooms with 2 children have bunk beds or with 1 child another single bed. The rooms are of a reasonable size with plenty of room to move around, even though we had an extra bed for Holly. Two chairs and a coffee table are sat in front of the door that takes you out to the terrace/balcony. The room includes a dressing table which the television sits on and three draws. Next to this is a bench before the mini fridge and a large cupboard with 4 shelves, one of which houses the safe and finally a large double wardrobe with 8 hangers. The wardrobe was big enough to house our 3 suitcases and two hand luggage holdalls. We could have done with a few more draws and maybe some more shelves but you can't be greedy. The toilet/shower room was of a decent size with a hand basin set in a marble top and a rail for one hand towel per person and a squeezy soap container containing Lux hand soap. The toilet and bidet with various water hoses attached and a toilet brush. A rail for one bath towel per person and the walk in shower containing another squeezy soap container, this time filled with Lux shampoo and body soap. OnePictures of Sea Club Resort The pool at the Sea Club Resortproblem I found was that the shower had no soap dish to put your own bar of soap. The balcony or terrace is a reasonable size and had two plastic chairs in it. When we arrived in the room the bed for Holly was still outside but the cleaner soon put this in position and made it up in a couple of seconds. Electricity is powered by inserting your key ring into a slot at the side of the front door. Restaurants. The Main Restaurant The main buffet style restaurant can be found on the ground floor of the main building. This restaurant serves breakfast from 7 am till 10.30, Lunch from 12.30pm till 2.30 and Dinner from 6.30 pm till 10 pm. On arrival at the restaurant you go to the restaurant reception desk, where the receptionist asks how many are in your party before you wait for a member of the management to take you to a free table to seat you. Personally I think this is a good idea because it saves you wandering aimlessly around the restaurant looking for free tables although you may have to wait around 10 minutes to be seated. The evening dinner menu is promoted at 14 days 14 ways. For two weeks they have a different theme for dinner, including American, Indian, Asian, French, Fish Night, BBQ, Lebanese, Italian etc. Il Pescatore This is a Seafood/Italian Restaurant overlooking the beach. This offers a lunch of Italian dishes including freshly cooked pasta, pizzas and salads served from 12.30 till 2.30 and again you wait to be seated. Dinner in this restaurant is served from 8pm till 11 pm and again is a buffet type but features a fish market and a catch of the day (Extra Charge) booking is required in the evening. La Fondue An A la Carte French Restaurant located upstairs in the main building next to the reception. This is open for dinner from 7 pm till 11 pm. This is again extra charge (depending what you have) and booking is again required. These serve a fish or Meat menu where you cook you own food in a fondue. We had a Beef Fondue and the cost was 60 Egyptian pounds each around £7.50 in our money (depending on exchange rate) and is well worth every penny. We had about 1lb of beef each served with chips and rice and dips. Bar/ Room Service Menu There is a bar menu served in the lobby bar only and room service menu available but they are the same. Sandwiches, Steak and Chicken are available. We tried the Fillet Steak out for 50 Egyptian pounds each (about £6.50), two pieces of Fillet steak served with chips and vegetables (well if you can call them vegetables one thin slice of red/green pepper and one mange tout!). We ate this in the main restaurant, so I was still able to get Holly food from the all inclusive buffet and we was able to have desserts from the all inclusive again (crafty). Snacks are available at the pool bar but these are at extra cost. We tried a large Pizza which cost 35 Egyptian pounds (just under £4.50) and was just big enough for the 3 of us. Burgers and Hot dogs are served at the beach bar and are included in the all inclusive price. Bars. The hotel has 4 bars. The lobby bar which is open 24 hours and located on the first floor, adjacent to reception. The pool and beach bars are open from 10 am till sunset and the Jungle Bar/Disco is open from 11pm till 2 am. All bars have a fair amount of seating although we never paid a visit to the Jungle Bar. All inclusive drinks include soft drinks of Cola, Sprite, Fanta, Soda Water, Tonic Water, Diet Cola and Sprite, fruit juices out of cartons and mineral water. Local Beer (according to Darren this was drinkable), Local White, Rose and Red Wine, (again drinkable), Local Spirits of Vodka, Gin, Rum, Whisky and Brandy (all made in Egypt) and Tea and Coffee. These are available free of charge between the hours of 10 am and 10.30 pm although the brochure says 11pm. Tea and coffee are available free of charge at breakfast time in the main restaurant. All international drinks need to be paid for. Pool The hotel has one large pool with sun loungers and wooden shade umbrellas around the pool and if you are lucky enough a table as well. The pool depth is between 1.5 metres to 1.8 metres and has two bridges for you to cross from one side to the other. A small round children's pool is situated to the side of the main pool and is about 1 metre deep. We only went in the pool a couple of times as it was freezing. Next to the pool is the beach towel hut where you hand over your towel card in exchange for a clean towel and drop your dirty towel off in exchange for your towel card. Toilets and showers are located next to the pool. The Private Beach. The beach has a pier that takes you out past the lagoon so you are able to snorkel in the sea. Again the beach equipped with sun loungers and shade umbrellas and something else I have never seen other than in this country, wind breakers. Wind breakers I hear you say, yes wind breakers, the resort seems to have a bit of a problem with wind! It gets very windy in the morning, so windy that you can not snorkel in the sea until the white flag is raised, and this tends to be around lunch time prior to that they have a black or red flag up and should you dare walk over the lagoon coral you will get whistled and shouted at by the life guards. In fact one morning the wind was so bad that the waves were coming up the 10 foot of beach to the first row of sun loungers and the same morning it was so windy that the wind breakers were blowing over squashing the people relaxing under them. The wind breakers came in handy in the afternoon as extra shade if you are with a little one who wants to play in the sand all day. One thing I need to mention is the sand seems very dirty I washed Holly's swimsuit and shorts every night in the shower and put them out to dry but no matter how much I scrubbed them they were still dirty. Needless to say the swimsuit and shorts never made it back to the good old Blightly. From the beach you get a very good view of Tiran Island which is part of the Ras Muhammad National Park (and is believed to be the location of where Moses parted the Red Sea), along with a view of a ship wreck which seemed to be a popular location for day trip snorkelling boats. If you fancy a camel ride, the hotel has a resident camel complete with canvas bag strapped to his bottom to collect the poo! I never enquired how much for a ride as I didn't want to encourage the man to keep hassling us and for the first few days Holly thought it was a monster and burst into tears a couple of times so the man kept clear. There are no toilets anywhere near the beach but luckily our room was in the last block before the beach so it was easier to go to our room that walk to the toilets by the pool. Activities The hotel has various activities throughout the day, including Volley Ball, Water Polo and Aerobics. A kids club which was open for two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. Holly was too young to attend as the club is for 4 - 11 year olds. I had a wander to the kids club, situated in a building about halfway between the main building and pool and found one girl in there colouring in a picture and a very bored looking woman sitting there filing her nails! Outside the kids club was a play area with a very old and dirty looking swing/slide contraption. We took Holly to play on this one evening before sunset but she fell off the swing so that was the end of that. The resort also has a billiard room and table tennis, a Tennis Court which is free to use during the day but a 10 Euro charge of a evening. A five a side football pitch and an externally run diving centre at extra charge of course. The resort also has a free to use gym on site situated in the health club area but the health club is chargeable. Entertainment. The main bar has live music every night, either a singer, flutist, or guitar player. The singer must have learnt every song from Now that's what I call Music 20, all he ever sung was hits from the 80's. The hotel, outside the entrance, has a amphitheatre for entertainment but the only time we ever saw this in use was for the kids disco that ran from 8.30 till 9 every night. There were toilets located just behind but no bar. We never made it to any of the night time entertainment that was either in the Jungle Bar or a beach party, mainly because it did not start till 11 at night and by the time the all inclusive drinks had finished and Holly would be so tired from her day building sand castles on the beach that we would all just collapse into bed way before this. Shops The resort has its fair share of gift shops all selling the standard rubbish noisy camels for that gift for somebody you don't really like! A gold and silver jewellers, beach wear, fashion wear, shop selling sweets, crisps and more importantly bucket and spade!, a pharmacy and a bank. The resort also has a cash machine on site however this does not accept Maestro or Solo Cards and neither does the bank. If your card has this on, you need to go to the resort next door where you are able to get cash from the machine (a maximum of 200 Egyptian pounds per transaction about £25.00 but you can use it more than once on the same day and pay the charges!) A doctor is available on site and charges 60 Eros per visit. Water Features Now why on earth would you put a title of water features. Well it seems that Flash International are very fond of water features. They are everywhere. One at the entrance to the Restaurant, with a further 4 outside the main building. Not only that, they have moved the amphitheatre from inside the complex to build yet another water feature, this time is is about the size of medium size swimming pool, what a waste of space. The Staff The staff are great, and really helpful. Most can speak every language possible but speaking to the staff you find out the hotel is not a nice place to work. Most are men and they come from Cairo to work there. They work for a solid 3 weeks from early morning to late at night and then get a coach back to Cairo for 5 days before returning. They earn about 600 Egyptian pounds per month (about £75.00) which is quite poor and they rely on the tip money, which has to be shared between all the staff. We spotted our cleaner cleaning the site at about 7 in the morning before he moved to clean his allotted 20 rooms between 10 am and 6 pm. We then spotted him cleaning out the toilets in the bar at 10 o'clock at night. On the day they are going home they work until 12 - 12.30 and then have to rush to their rooms to pack to be ready for their coach leaving at 2 pm. When asked why they work there, surely it would be better to work nearer home in the hotels in Cairo their reply was that the hotels in Cairo pay even less money. Outside Outside the front of this resort is absolutely nothing. No shops no nothing just nothing. You can not walk anywhere. The hotel does run a free shuttle bus into Naama Bay but you can only use this at set times namely 10.30 in the morning and return at 12.30 or 6.30 in the evening and return at 10.30. If you want to stop longer, say you catch the morning bus out but want to return on the evening bus, you can't, you have to get a cab back. We only went on pre-arranged excursions due to having Holly. We have found in the past that shops entice children in by offering sweets and they know that the parents will follow and if you are on a time limit of 2 hours you may not get out of the shop in time to catch the bus back. Excursions. There are a number of people selling excursions at the hotel although Cosmos recommend you book through Cosmos. I did price up an excursion on a submarine, Cosmos charged £27.00 per person and the same company through the hotel wanted 30 Euros per person. So it is worth checking out. The Sea Life Resort. This is the sister hotel owned by the same group and it is next door and easily accessible from the Sea Club resort. You are able to use the facilities in this hotel as well. On the third day we decided to take a walk to check out the Sea Life Resort. Well, on looks I'm glad we chose our resort, it is designed in a traditional Nubian Style (it looked more like the Bedrock village from the Flintstones, with its dirty red painted finish and dilapidated wooden chairs on the wooden balconies or terraces). The pool was tiny and everybody seemed to be sitting on each others lap with no privacy. The restaurant served the same meals but just with the days swapped about. We did try the Teppanyaki Restaurant which featured a Japanese visual cooking experience. This again was at extra cost. It cost us about 111 Egyptian pounds each (14.00 each) for a 4 course meal of soup, followed by a Chicken salad, our main course of Beef and Vegetable stir-fry served with rice was cooked in front of us whilst we wore a Japanese dressing gown and sat at a bar type table during which time the chef cooked and threw our dinner onto our plate, and a dessert of fresh fruit and ice cream. I have to say it was well worth the money just for the experience alone. They also have another charge extra restaurant called the El Dewania, which is a Lebanese restaurant serving a set menu of 4 courses of 10 Euros. Unfortunately we never got to try this restaurant out. Check out. Check out is at 12pm however we wasn't leaving the hotel until 4 in the afternoon so enquired about late check out. For just under £10.00 we was able to stay in the room until 3 in the afternoon which meant a less stressful departure of trying to keep a three year old occupied in the main reception for three hours. Check up is easy just pay your bill if need be but beware if you pay on credit card they charge 3% on top and if you pay cash, funnily enough they never have any change, (yet another rip off). Sounds quite a good place doesn't it but if you look out of the window now you may see a big black cloud approaching (at this point I had thought about typing in the Jaws theme music). So here is the down side of stopping at this resort. Cleaning. I am not house proud but I do like to see places clean, especially hotels. When we pushed to the single beds together to make a one bed, the dirt, sweets and other rubbish under the bed was disgusting. It looked as though the tiles had not been cleaned since the hotel had been built. I noticed a scrap of paper under the coffee table on the first night of our stay, two weeks later when we checked out this scrap of paper was still there although the area when the bed had been had been swept and mopped. The grouting in the shower was mouldy and in need of a good bleaching, in fact had I thought about it I would have taken a bottle of Dettol Mould and Mildew remover with me, I seemed to take everything else! Dirty plates were left outside rooms for days on end. It seemed the cleaner was unable to count. There were 3 people in our room and yet for the first few days he only left 2 hand towels and 2 bath towels and as any woman knows a woman and a toddler need at least 6 towels to have a shower with. This was eventually rectified when I asked receptionist if our room was listed as have two people stopping instead of the three. By the time we got back to the room 6 towels had been left in our room which I hid for future use. No matter how many times the sheets were changed, every time I got in bed they felt as though they had been washed with the beach towels, all gritty and sandy. Now I know there is a credit crunch about but they never seemed to leave enough toilet paper, at one point I had to resort to stealing toilet paper off the cleaners trolley and hiding it just so we would have enough. I'm not entirely sure that this was the cleaners fault, I worked out that in fact the poor man had around 25 minutes per room to clean and change along with sorting out the clean laundry for his block. The rooms are also in need of an upgrade to replace broken floor and wall tiles and a lick of paint would not go amiss. There was a dead inflatable crocodile outside our neighbours room in the garden on our first day of arrival, this was still there when we left two weeks later, although the gardeners had managed to kick it to a different position. Food. The hotel promotes its 14 days, 14 different ways as you enter the restaurant. Every day would be a sheet of paper pinned to a board telling you what night it was for dinner and also the vast array of meals that would be available, well maybe not vast array but around 10 however out of these 10 dishes you were lucky if you could find 4 that were mentioned. After the third night we realised that yes they have different theme nights but every night the food remained the same taste, Beef or Chicken but with a different name to correspond with that nights theme. There were about 12 large pots in the bain-marie although whether this was switched on and contained water is debatable. 3 would contain rice, 1 would contain pasta, two would contain vegetables, 2 would contain potatoes then two would contain the same beef dish all the stay of our holiday(Beef Casserole, Beef curry, Beef Stroganoff, Beef Goulash and Baked Beef, all these beef dishes looked and tasted the same!) and another one would contain the same chicken dish (again looking and tasting the same) and the final would contain baked fish or backed fish as it was labelled. This after one week became rather boring let alone two weeks. We are not by any means fussy eaters, we enjoy curry and rice, pasta, different sauces and any meats. However I do like to see chicken cooked! The chicken was not always cooked properly so I stuck with the beef dish. The food would be stone cold when you put it on your plate. They did have a fresh pasta bar but the sauce would be warmed for about 20 seconds then the pasta would be added to the pan for 10 seconds and served to you still cold! (Ah maybe that is why they call themselves Flash International, the food gets a quick flash in the pan) They did have a good selection of salads but everybody knows to steer clear of salads. The desserts looked rather nice but every cake tasted the same, OK but nothing spectacular. The only dessert I found to be any good was the area where they cooked fresh deserts, either fried bananas or a deep fried batter balls covered with a chocolate sauce. Breakfast didn't fair much better, the cooked breakfast was rather dire (mini chicken frankfurter sausage, beans, tomato, boiled potatoes, a fowl mash (Darren said it was mashed beans!) and an attempt at French toast), so we resorted to having the fresh omelettes that were cooked in front of you, this however turned sour as these started to be turned onto the plate still rather runny. I think the chefs must have got fed up with me complaining. It was then down to eating toast which you toasted yourself although they did have a very good selection of fresh bread and rolls. Oh I must say the pancakes at breakfast were quite nice especially covered in a chocolate sauce but even this started to become boring. Once again there was a good selection of salads or fresh fruit, but again you are told not to eat them. We tried the burgers down at the beach bar. OK so the chef had gloves on but with these gloves on he would handle a raw burger onto the grill, still with the same gloves he would pick up the roll to cut, place some salad in it then fill it with the cooked burger or slightly heated Frankfurter Sausage. A case of cross contamination if ever I saw one! Those readers who are squeamish please omit the * paragraphs but if you are thinking of stopping at this resort it may be in your best interests to read on. Pharaoh's Revenge *After four days the stomach cramps started, after that out came the Imodium tablets but these did not even touch the diarrhoea. After all the Imodium tablets had been consumed we paid a visit to the pharmacy, where the pharmacist opened the draw next to him and sold us two different types of tablets. These once again did not touch it, even though the pharmacist had said we wouldn't get diarrhoea for the next 50 years. A couple of days after that Holly started with the Diarrhoea, now all she was eating was the rice and pasta, one minute by the pool she said Mummy I want a poo the next second it was too late, it was everywhere. Now this to me, was a red rag to a bull, I could cope with me and Darren having it but when a three year old gets it this sent me spiralling out of control. I spotted the Cosmos Rep having his lunch so he got it in the neck, he then called the head chef, who did in all fairness offer to cook something fresh for Holly at every meal. Once again we paid a visit to the pharmacy who made up a potion for Holly but it never worked. We spent one third of our spending money in this pharmacy (sorry Torr we were in no mood to haggle although Darren did tell the pharmacist that medicines for children were free in the UK but it never made any difference). Holly ended up spending the second week of her holiday in nappies but I had not taken enough so I went back to the pharmacy to spend another bank loan on a packet of nappies (£7.00 for 12), the pharmacist did ask how Holly was going on and we told him she was no better so he gave us a packet of sachets containing extra salts and vitamins to pour into her drink free of charge. He then told us to not eat the omelettes as they were not cooked to a hot enough temperature, don't eat the fresh fruit or salads and don't eat the burgers. Don't drink any of the soft drinks out of the pump dispensers and to only drink soft drinks out of bottles or cartons which was fruit juices or diet Cola or Sprite. So not much left there to eat or drink. That was why we started paying for food. When walking around the restaurant we could see no end of people with these tablets sat on the table next to them or when you walked past the pharmacy the draw would be open and he would be selling yet another two packets. I started to think that the hotel and the pharmacy were in co-hoots and were splitting the profits from ripping the tourists off and that maybe Flash International should rename themselves as Flush International. I was chatting to one of the receptionists one evening who asked me how I was enjoying the holiday so I told him about the diarrhoea, he took the same two packets out of his pocket and offered me half! So it seemed the staff had it as well. We have never ever been ill on holiday so had no idea that if we had gone to see the doctor and paid 60 Euros plus any medication costs we could have claimed this all back on our insurance.'''*''' OK you can start reading again now. You are asked to sign and put your room number on a form for any drinks that you get from the bars or restaurant for apparent control purposes. Across the top would be written FOC but you needed to check these slips as you would sometimes find extra drinks added that were not yours so you could end up being charged for these. A couple we met were filling a bottle of diet coke up to take back to their room, they were told off and told that under no circumstances were you to take drinks back to your room, any drinks consumed in your room were to be ordered through room service for which you had to pay for. That meant you were allowed one large bottle of water each which was supplied in your fridge at the start of your stay for the whole of your stay for you to clean your teeth! We went on an excursion to a Bedouin tent one evening in the desert and sampled their food which was a bad thing, the food was so nice that it completely put me off from eating in the main restaurant which is why we started paying to eat in the other restaurants. The beach and pool had a rule of no reserving of sun beds, however on our first full day after breakfast we walked around the pool but could find no free sun beds under any shelter from the 30 degrees + sun so we went down to the beach. This again was full but we did manage to find one free umbrella so walked around the beach in search of free beds but we had no wind breaker and the sand was blowing up like a sand storm all around us. The following morning Darren broke the rules by going down and reserving three beds under an umbrella and a wind breaker with our own towels and the pushchair but it seemed everybody else had the same idea so when in Rome do as the Romans do! As far as we know nobody ever got told off for this. As with all foreign hotels, the air conditioning never seemed to work. Darren told reception about this and they came to repair it but it worked even less then. The water seems to be heated up by the sun as when it goes dark the water goes cold and the water pressure was so low that the water would not even come through the shower. Occasionally brown water would come out of the sink and shower tap (makes you wonder where it came from) One thing that would have been nice was a bar that was open outside in the evenings, apparently there used to be one but they have shut it down, whether this is because it wasn't high season or had been permanently shut down we will never know. Would I recommend this hotel. In a word NO. The hotel is suitable for families with younger children or older people who just want to relax and chill. If however you have older children or are young and hip, you will be bored witless. There is no music playing through the day and all the activities seem to be geared towards adults. The eldest child I spotted on the resort was about 9 but she had younger siblings and spend her time keeping them amused but if she had been on her own I'm not sure what would have kept her amused. There are no slides going into the pool and no activities that we saw geared to older children. Flash International have given this hotel 5 stars, Cosmos have given it 4 stars, personally we have eaten better food in a 3 star hotel in Margarita (an Island off Venezuela) and have eaten better food from a road side caravan in this country and have not ended up with a dodgy stomach. I would say that yes the hotel is maybe a four star at a push but the food and cleaning I would not even give it 2 stars. Towards the end of this holiday, to which I spent the second week counting down the days till we went home, I actually lost the will to live whilst lying on the beach, I couldn't even read my book, all I kept thinking about was the dismal food we would be having for tea. Never before have I been so relieved to set foot on a plane to come home and never have I enjoyed an aeroplane meal so much in fact even Holly, who is not a great lover of a roast dinner, tucked into it. Once we got home it took about another 4 days for our stomachs to return to normal which we kick started with a good old traditional meal of an Indian takeaway.
So my Dad has now officially become a pensioner and to mark the occasion of his retirement and his 65th birthday I decided to pay the internet card company Moonpig a visit. I have used them once before for my best friends 40th birthday and wanted something special to mark the occasion of my Dad receiving his bus pass. www.moonpig.com Moonpig operate in the UK and also have a site in Australia. They launched their website in 2000 and now use many of the leading card publishers as well as many smaller card publishers and designers. The website has cards for every occasion you can think of rather like a normal high street card company although their cards a slightly dearer but you are given the chance to personalise the cards. Their home page is very well laid out. Along the left hand side of the screen is a list of 29 occasions all in alphabetical order including the standard occasions of Anniversaries, Birthdays, Christmas, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, New Baby and Weddings along with Valentines Day, Easter, Driving Test, New Home, Job, School, Retirement to the more unusual occasions listed under Other (Chinese New Year, St Andrews, Patrick, David's and Georges Day, Jewish Celebrations, Diwali, Halloween and New Year) and then the more delicate type of cards of Sorry, Get Well, Sympathy and Thinking of You. Some of the occasions have a plus sign next to them, which you can open up and this lists more type of cards, i.e. for birthdays, general and blank, Age 1 - 13, teens, 18 & 21, 30 to 100, Belated and Relations.) Along the top of the home page are 7 tabs, the 1st one is the home page, the second is the next big occasion that is happening, at the moment it is Fathers Day, next to this is Moonpiglet (a card section specifically for children), log in/out, My Account, Help and Info and Basket. Under this, is the process for ordering your card, Choose a Card, Personalise, Address, Basket and Checkout. Under this there are various point and click sections of Birthdays and General (1000's of cards to choose from), Photo Upload, Limelight Cards (your name in the spotlight), Me to You cards (cute Teddy Bear Cards), Spoof Humour which includes magazine and newspapers front pages, Moonpiglit Disney, At the Movies, Humour, Wedding and Invitations and Announcements. Ordering a Card Click on the type of card you are looking for i.e. Retirement, then scroll down through the cards, there are 20 cards in this section, When you click on a card it shows you the front page, next to that is an area for what ever words are on this front page, any words in bold can be changed for you to personalise the card, under this, it shows you the inside pages. Any card that shows a picture of a camera above it means that you can upload any photo that you want. When you have chosen a card you quite fancy, choose the size that you want then click on next step and personalise your card, upload a photo, if this is possible on the card you have selected, you can click the spell check if you want just to check you haven't made a mistake. The next step is to put what you want in the centre of the card. It shows you one large box on the left page of the card and three boxes on the right of the card, click on whatever box you wish to write in, the black edging turns red. Type your message, then you can pick one of 5 different kinds of type, 8 different colours of type and 9 different size of type. You can justify your text either left or right or centred, you can also move the text to the top, middle or bottom of the box. You can also upload signatures or pick from 7 picture type signatures of say balloons, lips, heart etc. Once again you can spell check what you have typed. Then click on show me an exact preview of the card, then next step. This then shows you your card you have selected and you can turn the page to see what the centre pages look like. The next step is to select the address you want the card sent to. You can either have your own address and the card will be sent to you in a larger envelope with the card and the envelope for the card to go in or you can pick to have the card sent to the recipient. At this point you need to log into your account or register with Moonpig (this is easy you use your email address and a password and your name). If you choose for a recipient, the address is placed in your address book for future use. When you have picked or added an address it then shows you what the envelope will look like, you can also add another personal message, then select either 1st class post or Special Delivery. You then go to the checkout through their secure payment using all major debit and credit cards. Cost of Cards, The standard card measures 185mm x 135mm when folded in half, just under A5 size and this costs £2.99 plus postage of 44p for 1st class and £5.24 for Special Delivery. The large card 290mm x 205mm when folded in half about A4 size and this costs £5.99 plus postage of £1.05 and Special Delivery £5.94 Small cards 144mm x 102mm about A6 size when folded and you need to order 4 cards exactly the same design, these cost £6.00 for the 4 cards plus 44p delivery to you or £5.24 Special Delivery to your home address Postcards 145mm x 103mm and again you need to order 8 postcards of the same design, these cost £6.00 and again 44p delivery £5.24. If you order the small cards or postcards but do not order the correct amount, you will be charged for any unused cards. Cards can be sent all around the World at extra post and packing costs. They do offer to send cards to the British Forces stationed around the world however, if sending a card to Iraq or Afganistan they can not post the card free, however if you get the card sent to your address you can take it into a local post office and send it that way. Confirmation of Order When you have placed your order you immediately receive an email confirming your order. This email shows you a picture of the card you have ordered along with a picture of the inside of the card so you can check the card exactly, information on when the card will be posted and the address that the card will be posted to. If you spot a mistake you can log onto your account with the site and as long as the order still says order received you are able to make changes. Once your card has been printed you are unable to make any changes. Delivery in the UK If you order by 2pm Monday to Friday your order will be sent out the same day. After 2pm Monday to Thursday your order will be sent the following day. Friday after 2pm and Saturday and Sunday will be sent the following Monday. Orders placed around public holidays will the sent the next working day. They say 90% of cards sent by 1st class post are received the next day. Cards sent abroad obviously need to be ordered earlier as they will take longer to be delivered. Uploading a Photo When you click on this button it comes up with the image upload box, click on the browse box, choose the photo that you want and click on upload file, this then puts the photo you want into the card you have picked. You can then move the photo around, up, down, left right or diagonal. It is fairly quick to upload the photo. Your Account. You can check your account history through this section you can also update your address book in case anybody moves, you can also set up emails for reminders of occasions, you can set up the reminder to email you between 1 day and 31 days (I have never used this facility so I'm not sure if this works). If you have an address book you can import/export through Excel Spreadsheets. You can check on your last 15 orders and it will tell you the order number, recipients details and if the card has been sent. Prepay Account. You can make a pre-payment of £20.00 into your account and Moonpig will add extra 25% - £5.00 onto your account. (Again I have not used this as I don't send that many cards through the site) Moonpig Flowers. You are also able to order flowers through the Moonpig site. These start at £15.00 including 1st Class posting for a bouquet of 15 Carnations. All other types including Freesias and Tulips through to mixed bouquets cost £20.00 including 1st class posting. Rose plants cost £17.00 and an Orchid plant costs £20.00. Once you have placed your order, it gives you the opportunity to order a card to go with the flowers. I personally would rather use my local florist or Interflora, so I have never used this facility. This services takes between 3 and 4 days delivery. ipoints. Moonpig are are a partner of ipoints. You can collect 200 ipoints on your first order and then a further 10 points for every pound spent. The ipoints are added to your account on the day the cards are dispatched. My Experience. I found the website very easy to use and downloading photos was a very quick operation. On this latest occasion I placed an order for two cards, one to be sent direct to my Dad and the other to be sent to my home address. I ordered at about 10.30 at night on a Thursday night, within 3 minutes I had received the email confirmation. I checked my ipoints account on the Friday and my 60 ipoints had been added to my account. On Saturday morning, I received the card being sent to me through my letterbox. I spoke to my Dad on the Saturday, after he had finished work and he had also received his card. My card came with a franked postmark, my Dads card came with a stamp on it. Both cards had been sent from Guernsey where Moonpig have their printing facility. The cards were printed on good quality card and you could tell they were not the same as buying a cheap 45p card from a cheap card shop. I was really pleased with the cards I ordered and my dad was chuffed to bits with both his retirement card and birthday card being personalised. They are a little more expensive than buying a card in a card shop but a more personal touch for that special occasion is well worth the extra pennies. I would most definitely use them again, most probably for Holly's 4th birthday as they did have a very good selection of Children's cards. Whilst writing this review I thought I would check through the Sympathy section, as this obviously needs to be a more sedate and tasteful collection of cards and found that their cards were definitely suitable for this occasion. Moonpig can be contacted on 0845 4500 100, lines are open from 8.30 am until 6.30 pm Monday to Friday. Their customer services address is Moonpig Cards Unit 107 - 108 Great Guildford Business Park 30 Great Guildford Street London SE1 0HS. I can not comment on how good or how bad customer services are as I have had no reasons to contact them. Thank you very much for reading. Anna This review can be found on other websites written by me.
I recently decided to take a look around my local library knowing I would want something to read on my holiday, however I was shocked to see the lack of books on the shelves. Now this could be a good thing in that more people are borrowing books but I suspect it could well be a lack of funding by Derbyshire. With nothing taking my fancy I decided to check out my local Tesco instead but typical of me I managed to buy the middle book of a trilogy, so decided to order the first and last books on-line at Tesco.com but needed another book to get free delivery. Knowing I would enjoy a book by Philippa Gregory as I have read most of her Tudor Court books before I picked The Other Queen without even knowing what the book was about. Still without even reading the back of the book I chucked it in the suitcase with a couple of others ready for a bit of holiday reading. The book is based on the first 3 years of the imprisonment of Mary Queen of Scots by her Cousin Queen Elizabeth I, after Mary's escape from rebels in Scotland. The book starts in the autumn of 1568 and is set around 3 main characters, Mary Queen of Scots and her "guardians", the Earl of Shrewsbury, George Talbot and his new wife, Bess of Hardwick. Mary Queen of Scots. Forced to abdicate her throne and chased out of Scotland by the Scottish Lords who suspected her of taking part in a plot with her lover Lord Bothwell to kill her husband Lord Darnley. Mary claimed however that she had nothing to do with Lord Darnley's murder and that Lord Bothwell had imprisoned her, raped her, got her pregnant and forced her to marry him, Mary lost the baby during her escape and sort protection from her cousin Queen Elizabeth I who promised to reinstate her back on the throne of Scotland. Many Catholic people thought that Mary was the rightful air to the English throne because she was daughter to Henry VIII's sister and believed that the Protestant Elizabeth should not have been on the throne because Henry declared her illegitimate after the execution of her mother Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth never overturned this declaration even when she was on the throne. George Talbot - Earl of Shrewsbury From a long line of Earls all devoted to the Tudor Kings and Queens. Knight of the Garter to Queen Elizabeth I and newly married to Bess of Hardwick. Queen Elizabeth asked him to imprison Mary Queen of Scots and to keep her safe until Elizabeth could get Mary reinstated back on the throne of Scotland. It seemed he was very confused with the situation as he was a loyal subject of Elizabeth but became besotted with Mary Queen of Scots. Bess of Hardwick Married four times, each time to better herself and her financial situation. Bess was well known for keeping her accounts so that she would never be short of money. Builder of Hardwick Hall and owner of Chatsworth House both in Derbyshire, when she married George Talbot she had to sign over her property to her husband because women were not allowed to own anything. She was a protestant and had benefited from the closure of the Abbeys and Monasteries when it became illegal to be a Catholic in England by keeping any gold and treasure looked away. She was against Mary Queen of Scots from the start and never wanted her to have any claim to the English throne. The book follows the trials, tribulations and thoughts of the three main characters and the effects on their lives of the poison that is fed to Queen Elizabeth by her chief advisor William Cecil, who put thoughts into Elizabeth's head that Mary Queen of Scots was trying to get Elizabeth off the throne. William Cecil comes across as a devious snake in the grass who will do anything to better himself and make Queen Elizabeth trust and rely on him even more. Unfortunately this puts a lot of pressure on the marriage of George and Bess, George doesn't agree with William Cecil's underhanded techniques but Bess is good friends with William Cecil and will do anything she can to help Cecil. This, along with the money pressures put onto George and Bess by keeping a Queen in their household who has certain living standards and wants the best of everything causes more anguish because Bess can see her finances dwindling so fast that she believes she may have to sell her beloved properties and treasures. The book goes from 1568 to 1572, the first three years out of the 19 years that Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned. My thoughts on the Book I found this book very easy to read and difficult to put down. If you have enjoyed Philippa's other Tudor Court series then you will enjoy this. The book is 437 pages long but most of the chapters are between three and five pages long. The book is set in the picturesque hills and countryside of Derbyshire, which is where we live. I could picture the characters riding between the estates of Tutbury Castle, Wingfield Manor and Chatsworth House. Although knowing that Wingfield Manor (about 5 miles from my home) is now a ruin owned by the English Heritage and is only open by appointment, I found it difficult to imagine people living in the manor. The book is based on historical facts. At the end of the book are extracts from Philippa Gregory's website where fans have asked her questions about her writing and her books. Website address www.philippagregory.com. This book cost me £3.86 from tesco.com with a recommended retail price of £7.99 or is available from Amazon for £3.20. Other books by Philippa Gregory set in the Tudor Court period. The Other Boleyn Girl - Based on two sisters Mary and Anne Boleyn both vying for the affections of Henry VIII - 2001 The Queens Fool - Follows a young servant girl stuck in the middle of Henry VIII three children, Edward, Mary and Elizabeth - 2003 (This info is taken from Wikipedia as it is the only book I haven't read) The Virgins Lover - Based on a love affair between Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley - 2004 The Constant Princess - Follows the Life of Henry VIII first wife Catherine of Aragon - 2005 The Boleyn Inheritance - Covers Henry VIII's forth and fifth wives Anne of Cleves and Catherine Howard - 2006 The Other Queen - 2008 Many thanks for reading. Anna This reviw can be found on other review site by me.
OK so I have never been one for being house proud, with 2 dogs and varying number of cats all producing a rather large amount of hairs it has always been impossible to have an immaculate house. Then 3 years ago when I packed up work to have my daughter Holly I seemed to have a much cleaner and tidier home. This was of course until Holly found her feet and found she could feed herself then things once again went awry. Then In January Holly started doing 3 days a week at pre-school, wow, 5 hours time for 3 days a week on my own to get on with keeping the house clean and doing those little jobs that need doing. Hoovering and steam cleaning the laminate floors putting numerous toys away and the house would be fairly clean and tidy. That was of course until I went to pick little madam up. Within 5 minutes of her being in the house there would be crisp crumbs or biscuit crumbs all over the floor. At this point I didn't really fancy lugging the vacuum back down the stairs again so I mentioned to my husband that I might see if I could buy a terminator type arm that incorporated a small vacuum along with various other tools that would come in handy! A few days later Darren had been working near a large Asda and had decided during his lunch break to take a walk around, supermarkets are not normally his forte but with no DIY shops or garden centres near by this would be the next best thing! So on his expedition he spotted a hand held vacuum and thought that for £24.99 this would be a lot cheaper and a lot less hassle to buy than me having a terminator type arm fitted. So the Vacuum he got me was the Black and Decker NW 3660 Dustbuster which is capable of picking up small dry items and wet areas of split milk etc. So on opening the box I was presented with a small green and white hand held vacuum 42 cm long. The 3.6v motor is contained in the white plastic shell just below the oval loop handle 23 cm long. On top of this handle is the green on/off button and on the bottom of the handle is an area where the two attachments are contained. These are a light green plastic one for picking up dry things (crevice tool) and a light green rubber one for using on wet spills. Under this is a hole where the charger fits in. Connected onto the white motor area is a clear light green plastic elongated dust bowl 19cm long with a 6 cm hole in the bottom that sucks up the crumbs and dust and liquid spills. The whole machine weighs approx 786 grams and is light to hold. Also in the box was the charger which is white and round and about 10cm in diameter with one metal charging prong and two plastic holding prongs sticking out of it with the ample length electric cable and two screws for securing the charging unit onto a wall near a socket. Using the machine. Before the first use you need to seat the vacuum on the charger and leave it for 16 hours. After this time it is ready for use. Connect the crevice tool and switch the green button to on and use it pick up whatever bits you want. For wet spills connect the rubber wet pick-up tool and use as before (it does state in the instruction book that it is better not to use the wet pick-up tool on spills on carpet). If you pick up a wet spill the liquid stays in the main bowl and does not seep though to the filters which mean any fluff or hair in there will stay dry and easier to clean. When finished seat the cleaner back on to the charger and leave for your next use. I leave the charger switched on so the machine is always fully charged for the next use and the electricity just trickles in. I have looked on my electric usage meter and and it uses about 4 watts of electricity which is nothing. Emptying and Cleaning the machine. When you want to empty the machine, hold the handle and turn the dust bowl by turning it anti-clockwise. Remove the two filters, one is a large grey plastic filter and inside this is a black foam filter. Empty out any crumbs or liquid from the main bowl, pull out the foam filter and empty more crumbs from the grey filter and remove any fluff and hairs from the foam filter. The two filters and the dust bowl can be washed in warm soapy water dried and put back together. When placing the two filters back into the bowl match up the two arrows then push in place. Push the motor unit into the bowl, then turn until it clicks in place. Filters need to be replaced every 6 to 9 months or whenever worn out or damaged, these can be got from your local Black and Decker dealer which you can check on the Black and Decker Website (www.2helpU.com). I have not needed a new filter so I do not know how much they cost. My Opinion. I am really pleased with this machine. The suction is excellent. It picks up crisps and crumbs well from carpet or hard flooring, luckily I have only had to suck up milk/water spills from laminate and hard flooring which is does a good job, then completely dry up with some kitchen roll. The machine it light, even Holly can use it, in fact I sometimes think she drops crumbs just so she can use the hoover. The machine is a little noisy but not as loud as using a large vacuum cleaner. It is great around the home where it is so portable you can just grab and clean and great for cleaning in the car. You can get down the sides of car seats and it does a good job on children's car seats. We have ours on the side of a cupboard in the lounge, the main place where I need it the most. I hardly takes up any room at all and uses such a low amount of electricity it is great. It is quick to clean and empty. OK so you could not use it for cleaning the whole house, the charge would run down but if you have any awkward bits to get to then you could use this. I have never used to machine until it has run out of charge so I have no idea how long the charge would last, probably around about 20 - 30 minutes at a guess. This is the only wet and dry cleaner that Black and Decker make and they do three versions of this cleaner, one with a stick handle that has no attachments, one with a loop handle with the crevice tool and a brush tool and a third with the loop handle with the crevice tool and wet pick-up tool which is the one I have, and they all come with a two year guarantee but Black and Decker also do a wide selection of other hand held cleaners. You can buy this Black and Decker Dustbuster from Amazon for £26.41 plus postage, from Tesco Direct for £19.97 plus postage or check out your local supermarket where you don't need to pay postage. Oh I have just found out it picks up sand as well. Many thanks for reading. Anna This review can be found on another review site under the same name.
Last week whilst I was doing my grocery shopping on the internet, I could feel a poking in my back and a little voice saying Mama. Holly had been looking through our DVD collection and had decided she had wanted to watch one. To my amazement she had picked out one of my favourite films of all time. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. This original version of the film was made in 1971 and starred Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. I was 5 when this film was made and can't ever remember seeing it at the cinema, so I would have first seen it on the television. It is loosely based on the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, that was first published in 1964. It is rumoured that Roald Dahl hated the film with a passion because it bears little resemblance to the book. Having read the book as well I tend to agree. According to Wikipedia the film was a flop at the cinema but has since been hailed as a cult classic and has attracted a world wide audience. A second version of the film was made in 2005 by director Tim Burton and starred Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka and this was called Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This version is more like the book. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory Willy Wonka owns the largest Chocolate Factory in the world but nobody seems to work for him. He has decided that it is about time he opens the factory to the public so offers the chance of five children and their parents a visit and win a life time supply of chocolate bars. However to be successful in receiving this offer the children have to find one of five golden tickets that are hidden in his chocolate bars. This is a rouse for Willy Wonka, who now feels he has become to old to continue with the factory and having no children of his own wants a decent, caring and loving child to take over his position. The Main Characters Willy Wonka - Gene Wilder A rather eccentric person. Charlie Bucket. - Peter Ostrum Charlie is poor and lives in a small shack in the same town as Willy Wonka. He lives with his mother, Mrs Bucket, Grandpa Joe and Grandma Josephine, and Grandpa George and Grandma Georgina. The shack is so small that all the Grandparents have to share one bed. Charlie has a paper round to help out and with his first wage treats his family to a loaf of bread and an ounce of tobacco for grandpa Joe played by Jack Albertson. Augustus Gloop A rather Greedy German boy (played by Michael Bollner) who's family seem to enjoy their food. Veruca Salt. A Spoilt British Daddies girl (played by Julie Dawn Cole) who gets everything she wants. Her parents just don't know how to say no. Her doting father was played by Roy Kinnear. Violet Beauregarde. An American girl (played by Denise Nickerson) who gets everything she wants but has some very bad habits. Mike Teevee Another American boy (played by Paris Themmen) who spends his time in front of the television. The Oompaloompas Little orange coloured people who were rescued from Loompaland by Willy Wonka. Their favourite food is the Cocoa Bean, making them ideal people to live with Willy Wonka in his factory. They love singing while they work. The film The film follows the five children and their parents from them finding the golden ticket through to their day at the factory. It highlights the many faults of the children but how many of the children will survive unscathed and which child will be victorious in winning the valued prize of a lifetimes supply of chocolate and unbeknown to the children who will Willy Wonka choose to take over his factory and care for the Oompaloompas. So has Willy Wonka done the right thing, his main competitor Mr Slugworth is also trying to gain access to Willy Wonka's secrets and sets about trying to get the children to steal secrets from Willy Wonka, so will Slugworth succeed and ruin Mr Wonka's business. All the way through the film are songs, although I wouldn't call the film a musical. Once inside the factory most of the songs are sung by the Oompaloopas about the children and their faults. The film is filmed in the Techni-colour but the first half of the film, set in standard streets and Charlie Buckets house is rather dull colours and when you enter into the world of the chocolate factory it has some of the most amazing bright colours in it. This is probably what appealed to Holly when she picked the film out, as the cover of the DVD is very colourful. My opinion. I love this film but I have absolutely no idea why, in fact I can't even remember when I first saw the film, more than likely one Christmas. I can watch it over and over again and sing along with all the songs, (really must get a life). I was shocked when I found out this was not a box office hit but then again the only the film doesn't really boast many major stars, the only two are Gene Wilder and then it was only his 5th film so he may not have been that well known and Jack Albertson, who played Grandpa Joe and although he had made a lot of films prior to this, none of them were very well known and he was coming to the end of his career. Even Charlie Bucket, played by Peter Ostrum only made that one film. The running time for this film is 96 minutes and is certified Universal - suitable for all. There are no extras on the DVD but the special features are scene access and subtitles. You can buy this DVD from Amazon for £3.98 "My candle burns at both ends, It will not last the night, But ah my foes and oh my friends, It gives a lovely light." Roald Dahl's favourite motto. Thank you so much for reading. Anna This review can be found on another review site published by myself.