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poppyash

poppyash
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Member since: 29.05.2009

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      13.09.2010 10:54
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      A creamy chocolate bar with added texture.

      While returning from a recent shopping trip my husband called at a garage for petrol. As he was going in to pay I was asked if I wanted anything to which I replied I fancied some chocolate. Now he usually brings back a Mars / Snicker Bar and has occasional bought a Twix but on this occasion he bought 2 bars of Milkybar with added Raisin and Biscuit.

      Now I have never been a fan of white chocolate and have always found the chocolate to be very sweet and sickly so to be honest I wasn't that impressed by his purchase.

      The bar comes in a very colourful foil wrapper displaying the colours red, yellow and purple on the front. The words "Milkybar" are displayed in blue followed by a picture of two chunks of chocolate displaying the product. Other information on the front consists of the word "NEW" written in red on a yellow background, "all natural ingredients" , "Raisin and Biscuit" and the fact that the bar contains 189 calories which is 9% of and adult's GDA.

      The back of the wrapper is mainly yellow with added information on the ingredients, in blue and red writing, the contact numbers and the best before date.

      Nutritional information per bar:-
      Energy 189kcal
      Protein 2.6g
      Carbohydrate 21.9g
      Fat 10.1g

      At the bottom of the wrapper is the Milkybar recipe which consists of Natural ingredients of 26% whole cow's milk, cocoa butter, whey powder, vegetable fat, emulsifier lecithin - made from soya beans, raisins, wholemeal flour, butter, sugar.
      This makes it free from artificial colours, flavouring and preservatives.

      On opening the wrapper I was met with a slight sweet pleasant aroma. The bar consists of 8 chunks of chocolate arranged in 4 sections of two making the bar approximately 10cm by 3cm. Each chunk measuring approximately 2½ cm by 1½ cm.

      I broke a chunk off and put it into my mouth and was pleasantly surprised by the smooth creamy texture of the chocolate which melted away to reveal a couple of juicy raisins and crunchy bits of biscuit. Unfortunately, the first piece of chocolate was quickly followed by a second and then a third until eventually there was none left. Each chunk is different in texture to the one before, one chunk had no raisins in but plenty of biscuity bits whereas some chunks had loads of juicy plump raisins to chew on. The texture of the combination of ingredients definitely worked for me and I would certainly indulge myself again.

      Obviously this product is available in most supermarkets, paper shops, garages etc but there could be aa arrange of prices. Our bars cost 38p each.

      This review also appears on ciao.

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    • Avon Nail Experts / Make Up / 18 Readings / 18 Ratings
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      20.08.2010 18:13
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      A good product that has worked for me

      For years and years I have suffered from weak, brittle and chipped nails so much so that I became an habitual nail biter.

      A friend of mine has lovely long mails and is able to use all the wonder different colours of nail varnish and yes I was extremely envious.

      Having been invited to a wedding gave me the excuse I needed to make a determined effort to sort my nails out. While looking through an Avon catalogue I noticed the product called "Strong Results" which is a product in the Nail Experts range. The product number is 35188 and its priced at £5. I know Avon sometimes have offers on their products so it could be cheaper in certain brochures.

      The Strong Results arrived in a black shiny box measuring about 9cm high. On the front of the box are the Avon logo and the product name. On the other 3 sides are the instructions written in very, very small writing in loads of different languages.

      On opening the box the product is in clear glass oval shaped bottle similar to that of ordinary nail varnish bottles with a white screw on top with the applicator attached. The bottle holds 12ml which is slightly larger than many nail varnish bottles and the liquid
      solution is cloudy in appearance and not at all like I was expecting as most product of this nature are usually clear.

      Now the idea is to apply the solution twice a day and according to the literature you should notice a difference within 5 days.

      So I opened the bottle and applied the contents with the application brush. The first thing I noticed was how thin the liquid was and then the sweet pungent smell similar to strong cocoa powder emerged but this quickly disappeared. The liquid spreads easily like applying nail varnish and the applicator has long fine bristles to ensure a good coverage of all the nail. Don't apply to cracked skin around the cuticles though as I found it stings!

      Also you are instructed not to wear nail varnish while using this product. I'm not sure what would happen if you did as I followed the instructions given.

      The liquid dries quickly and the nail looks as though there is nothing on it - totally invisible, unlike other products which give the impression of clear nail varnish and add a certain sheen to the nail when they dry.

      Does it work ? - Well I have just been complimented on my nails which has led me to write this review. My nails have grown well, they are not brittle, flaky or chipped and I have just purchased a range of different coloured nail varnishes. I did notice a difference in 5 days but I have used the product for about 5 weeks now. I also think that will power and a determination to have nice nails for a change also helped the growth.

      I just have to hope I don't break one now before the wedding in a few weeks.

      If you don't have an Avon representative you can by online at www.avon.co.uk.


      .

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      19.08.2010 17:36
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      A great day out.

      I have just had a most enjoyable family holiday at Poole in Dorset. I went with my husband, daughter and son-in-law and my two grand children aged 2 yrs and 3 years. On one of the days we decided to visit Farmer Palmer's Farm Park basically for the grand children as it is advertised as being designed for children 0 - 8years old.

      The site is based on Wareham Road, Organford not far from where we were staying and for SatNav uses the post code is BH16 6EU.

      On arrival we noticed a large car boot sale and decided to walk round this first before going in to the farm. Apparently this is a regular Tuesday event at Farmer Palmer's and I was extremely surprised to see so many participants there, row after row of stalls. My daughter purchased 2 teddy bears for 50p ( one still had its tags on) as the grandchildren were due at a Teddy Bears picnic later that day.

      The free car park is close to the entrance to Farmer Parmer's so it handy if you have pushchairs, wheelchairs or even picnic hampers.

      Opening Times:-
      March to October - Daily from 10am to 5.30 pm
      February to March - Daily from 10am to 4pm
      October to December Daily from 10am to 4 pm
      Closed from December 20th to 4th February.

      Admission Prices
      1 and 2 year olds - free
      Children - £6.95
      Adults £6.95
      OAP £5.95
      Disabled £5.75
      Saver Ticket - 2 adults and 2 children £25.00

      We got the Saver Ticket and then used vouchers to reduce our entrance fee by a £1 each. Vouchers for Farmer Palmers can be found in most holiday resorts at the Tourist Information Offices but we actually got ours from the holiday park. The staff were very welcoming and gave out some helpful information as to the events taking place and the times the activities were on. We were also given a leaflet which had a detailed plan of the area so that we could find different areas with ease.

      Our first port of call was the demonstration of milking a cow. This was in a small but adequately sized area with seating arranged in tiers for excellent viewing. I found this to be very entertaining and informative as the farmer involved the children in his talk by asking questions and inviting answers from all those with their hands up. He was obviously very experienced in dealing with children and was very comical in the professional manner he answered their questions. At the end of the demonstration the children were invited to stroke the cow and ask questions.

      We then made our way to a courtyard which had several building arranged around it with different activities in each one. The grand children immediately headed for the pedal tractors in an enclosed outdoor arena. The pedal tractors came in an assortment of sizes and colours so there were tractors suitable for all age ranges and plenty of them to go round. The grandchildren loved this and would have stayed there all day if it had been up to them. Next we went indoors to find a huge tractor bouncy castle. My two grandchildren disappeared inside to explore the different compartments emerging at various holes now and again before disappearing once again.

      Next we visited an area that was full of straw bales for the children to play and hide in. This area also had slides, climbing frames again for all ages. We didn't stay in this are very long as there was a pig racing contest outside. This I found to be hilarious. There were 4 pigs lined up and they raced down a grassed area of about 50 metres - their little legs going ten to the dozen - they were so sweet.

      Adjacent to the pig racing area was a Maize Maze but unfortunately we didn't venture into this but I could see it would be great fun for older children to explore.

      We then moved into a barn which had different pens housing a variety of animals - guinea pigs, rabbits, pot bellied pigs, pygmy goats, geese, lambs and ponies and it was time to feed the lambs. This was done inside in a rectangular shaped area with seating arranged on either side. Children were invited to sit at the front and the adults at the back. We were told that the lambs would be first and that they would come running down. The bottles were given out to every fifth child and they were told to pass them to their left so that all the children could feed the lambs and to hold them upwards. The gates opened and the lambs came flying down to find a bottle each. Each lamb was supervised and the children were helped to feed the lambs where necessary. The bottles were passed along with a hungry lambs attached to the teats until all the milk had gone. When the lambs had been feed the children were then allowed to stroke them. Next came the goats and again the same procedure followed. It was certainly an experience my grandchildren will not forget in a long time.

      Feeling peckish we decided to lunch. My daughter and son-in-law went back to the car to get the cool bags. When they came back I noticed a stamp on my daughters hand. The staff do this so that you can go back to your car at anytime during the day. She also said she was very impressed by the security at the exit as staff are very vigilant in watching the children to make sure that they didn't venture into the car park.

      Now with all the touching of animals I have to say I was very impressed by the hand washing facilities arranged in the courtyard so that children could wash their hands at any time without having to go inside to the toilet block.

      There are plenty of picnic tables for lunch as well as the café which serves home cooked food at what seemed to be very reasonable prices.

      After lunch the children went on the pedal gokarts and then played in the sand filled play ground which was filled with loads of actives for all ages.

      Unfortunately we had to leave to get back for the Teddy Bears picnic so we didn't get to go on the tractor ride, stroll through the woodland area nor groom the horses.

      Would I go again? - Definitely, you could easily spend a whole day here moving from one area to the other. We were fortunate to have a dry day but there is loads to do if the weather is wet due to the accommodation.


      The staff are very friendly and helpful. The play areas are clean and child safe.

      I also noticed that there are ramps and wide door ways for easy access with buggies/ wheelchairs and there are five baby changing stations!

      Definitely worth a visit.

      For more information visit www. farmerpalmers.co.uk

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        18.08.2010 11:41
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        Worth a visit on a dry warm day.

        While on holiday in Poole I recently visited the very imposing Lulworth Castle with my husband. This castle is a very impressive site from the road as it stands proud in its surrounding grounds.

        Lulworth Castle and Park is a Heritage and Countryside Visitor attraction and can be found in East Lulworth Wareham Dorset BH20 5QS.

        The castle and grounds are open Sunday to Friday at the following times:-
        Jan - March 10.30am to 4pm
        April to Sept 10.30 am to 6pm
        Sept - Dec 10.30am to 4pm


        The Castle and estate consists of 12000 acres of parkland, woods and farmland and was purchased in 1641 by Humphrey Weld and has remained the Weld family until present day.

        On arriving we found the car parking facilities excellent and the walk to the entrance is well laid out for easy access. We noticed all the tents and flags being put up for the Bestival Spectacular which was to take place that weekend so there was a lot of activity and machine about in the area.

        On arriving at the entrance we were greeted by a gentleman who ushered us down to the shop area to pay as a coach party were holding up the usual pay desk. In the shop, which was light and airy we noticed a wide range of the usual souvenirs and gifts. The price for entry was £10 per adult but £9 for over 60's. My husband is 60 so we were asked for £19 but I had some vouchers for £1 off each paying adult. Unfortunately as my husband had already had a £1 off they would only let me use the one voucher so we paid £18. We were then given to orange paper wrist bands to wear. At this point I have to say I was really impressed by the cleanliness and the atmosphere of the place.

        On leaving the entrance we walked to the castle. The Castle apparently was originally built as a hunting lodge and has hosted 7 monarchs. Unfortunately after a fire in 1929 only the exterior has been returned to its original glory. I don't know quite what I was expecting but I wasn't impressed by the interior at all - it was basically an empty shell with the odd display scattered about some of which had nothing to do with the castle and the assistants seemed to be more engrossed in conversations between themselves than by talking to the visitors. I think the laminated flooring might have had something to do with the overall disappointing atmosphere. So we walked around the various informative displays and exhibitions and ended up in a children's activity room which was well equipped with paper, pencils crayons etc;

        We then left the castle and decided to have an ice cream. We had passed a kiosk as we approached the castle so we made our way to it to find that it was shut. This was annoying as it was a glorious day - hot and sunny and I'm sure they would have been very busy had it been opened. So we decided to have a look at St Mary's Chapel, the first free standing Roman Catholic Chapel in England post reformation. This is a beautiful building and very atmospheric as you walk around it. There are a few displays of robes and documents associated with the wealth of the church on show.

        On leaving the Church we passed the area where the jousting displays take place and walked down to the farm. This was very enjoyable seeing all the different breeds and being able to get quite close. I'm sure children really enjoy the experience of seeing ostriches, alpacas, pot bellied pigs not to mention the usual lambs, pygmy goats Shetland ponies and rabbits to name a few. The assistants here were very helpful and hands on - helping children hold and feed the animals. Children are also catered for in the adventure playground with a variety of activities available.

        At 12 o'clock the jousting started. This was very impressive and very entertaining showing specatators costumes and regalia associated with the event and was the highlight of the day for me.

        Now the real disappointment of the day was the café. The Café is licensed and refreshments on offer consist of light lunches and afternoon teas but the prices are extortionate especially for the sandwiches. I can't comment on the food because I could have had a proper meal for what they were charging for a sandwich so we decided to call it a day and visit Lulworth Cove for something to eat.

        The castle holds events throughout the year from Circus skills, Dragon egg hunt, Pirate festival, Camp Bestival, Spectacular Jousting, Wedding Fayres Civil War enactments, Falconry Displays to name a few.

        Overall I was impressed by the facilities on offer and although they didn't all apply to us it was great to see that the time and effort had been given to supply the following:-

        Designated free parking with wheelchairs and electric scooters available.
        The accessibility of the shop, café and castle basement and grounds.
        Mother and baby facilities and children's buggies available for use.

        Dogs are also welcome in the park on leads but only guide dogs are permitted in the buildings.

        To summarise - worth a visit on a sunny day but take a picnic.

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        06.03.2010 15:10
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        A useful first dictionary.

        I received this book, as part of a pack of reading books I recently purchased from the Book People for £9.99 and I have to say I am very impressed by the simple layout of this book as it makes it so easy for young children to use.

        The cover of the book features a large tree with the characters from the book series ( Biff, Chip, Wilf, Kipper, Floppy and Wilma) playing either in the tree itself or nearby. The RRP of this book is £3.99 but I have seen it on Amazon and Ebay sites for a lot less.

        Inside the cover I found some very useful tips for reading with young children, a lot of them are common sense and basically involve looking at words, pictures and definitions.

        The book has over 300 words, each word is obviously set out in alphabetical order with a simple definition and an interesting colourful and sometimes amusing picture. Each letter is shown as a letter and as its capital version and a blue square in the box indicates that the word is a verb.

        My granddaughter who is 3 years old likes to look at the book and the pictures and as she is starting to recognise some of the letters and can find certain pages now if you give her a letter. This we play as a game I ask her to find the letter and then the word that begins with that letter. This she enjoys doing. She then asks me to find a word. This simple exercise keeps her amused for ages. By using this dictionary I hope that she will acquire basic reference and dictionary skills as well as develop her reading ability. It is certainly helping her learn the alphabet and to such a degree the alphabetical order , as she knows that A, B, C and D are at the beginning of the book whereas X, Y,and Z are at the end. She has also started to try and write some of the letters when she is drawing a picture.

        The illustrations are nicely done and in some cases amusing which encourage a child to talk about the pictures to help with their speech development. The sentences are simple but they help to explain the word really well in a given context which also helps with developing a child's reading skill and communication.

        I don't think I would have bought this book had I seen it in the shops, but as it came with the pack I have to say it has been used regularly with a lot of enjoyment, as it is used as an interactive activity.

        This eview also appears on Ciao.

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      • More +
        09.02.2010 22:08
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        A great book for early readers

        This is one book in a series of books that belong to the Oxford Tree Reading - Read at Home series and is one of the book in the level one section marked as Level 1b. The series has been created by Roderick Hunt and Alex Brychta.
        I came across this book having purchased the Read at Home series for my grandchildren from The Book People for £9.99. It is interesting to note that the RRP of this book is £3.99 on its own so for 13 books at £9.99 I think I got a bargain.
        So why have I singled out this book?
        My grandchildren have just been visiting and although the books are aimed at 4years+ my granddaughter who is only 3 years has taken a particular liking to this book and always wants to get it out and have a look at the pictures. I live in a rural area so I am surrounded by farm yard animals, so I think this book is appealing to her from that point of view.
        The cover of the book has a purple band at the top as do all the other books at this level and features Read at Home in white letters. The picture on the cover shows a picnic basket full of food and a girl called Biff holding a plate and sandwich.
        Inside the front cover are some tips for reading together which involve talking about the title and pictures. I always try and get my grandchildren to look at the pictures and ask them to say what is going on. This they find very easy because the illustrations are clear, colourful and full of significant detail and some of them are quite humorous which makes the reading enjoyable. Because my granddaughter has looked at the book on numerous occasions she is now beginning to read the story with me and can pick out a number of the words, of course, the illustrations help as well. Whereas my grandson who is only 2 years likes to look for the hidden grasshopper on each page and picks out the animals and recognises and names the children involved.
        The story involves the family going out for a picnic. Biff, Chip and Kipper all characters from the Oxford Tree series sit down to have their sandwiches when the sheep come along so they run away. They then sit on a bridge but some ducks come along and they run away again. They then sit on a wall but have donkeys approaching so they run again. Finally, they sit on a rock only to be faced with a bull.
        I think this is a very simple story involving a lot of humour and plenty to talk about. Words used over and over again in the story are highlighted in a section at the back of the book along with an activity of tangled lines which involves following lines to see who ends up getting to the picnic basket.
        I'm glad I purchased these books and would recommend them to any parent who has a child aged 3 -4 years old as there are a number of different titles in the series. My grandchildren always ask to read them and will sit for ages looking and discussing the pictures. They are also into the age where they use their imaginations and play act. They take it in turns to play the animals and this gives rise to alot of chasing activities.

        This reveiew also appears on ciao.

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        02.02.2010 16:20
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        A lovely set of reading books to encourage early learners.

        I recently saw this set of books on offer from the Book People for £9.99 and having two grandchildren aged 2 and 3, who love looking at books I thought they would be a good investment to develop their reading skills. Both children enjoy looking at books and having stories read to them. They particular enjoy picture books where they can discuss what's happening in the illustrations or look for particular hidden objects.
        When the set of books arrived I was pleasantly surprised by the brightly coloured covers and the front illustrations on each book. The set altogether contains 4 different levels of 3 books in each level + a First Dictionary which contains over 300 words simply and clearly explained with the use of illustrations.
        The books are mainly aimed at 4+ years, but as far as I am concerned if a child is interested in books and is willing to sit and turn the pages even if it is only to look at the pictures it won't do them any harm in seeing and using basic reading schemes to develop their reading ability at an even younger age.
        These books involve characters Floppy, Biff, Chip and Kipper and I am impressed that they are carefully graded with built-in progression and vocabulary repetition throughout. The books are also well illustrated and my grandchildren enjoy finding the hidden object, which is different in each book, in each picture:-
        Level 1 - contains the titles 1a) The Snowman 1b) Picnic Time and 1c) Mum's New Hat
        "The Snowman" has been a particular favourite with the grandchildren, at this time of year, as we have had plenty of snow and so the grandchildren have related to this story. The book uses simple sentences like "Wilma made a snowman", "It had a red nose" etc. the hidden object on each page is a small robin. As I have a robin that visits regularly it is interesting to see that Ben now recognises a robin and he now knows where each robin is on each page. The amusing illustrations are also very good, as they relate to the text and they help the children read the words. At the end of the story there is an activity for the children to do, in this case it is to find the twin snowmen.
        "Picnic Time" again uses simple sentences and involves a group of children trying to eat their sandwiches but each time they sit down to eat they are pestered by various animals and have to run away. This time a grasshopper is the hidden object.
        "Mum's New Hat" is about mums hat that blows away in the wind. I particularly like this book as it uses repetitive sentences like "The wind blew" and "Get that hat" but it leaves it to the reader to see what's happening to the hat which leads to much discussion. The hidden object in this book is a feather.
        The books at this level are designed for young children who can recognise their own name, match certain words and recognise some letter sounds but I have found them very useful to use as picture books and provide interaction with the grandchildren. They only take a few minutes to read but provide good quality time in looking for the missing object, discussing the pictures as well as picking up some words.

        Level 2 - contains the titles 2a) Super Dad 2b) The Monster Hunt and 2c) Ouch!.
        The sentences at this level are slightly longer and the books are aimed at children who can recognise a few words by sight and use pictures to read simple sentences as well as know some letter sounds.
        "Super Dad" - is a story about Wilma's dad who dresses up as superman and ends up catching a thief.
        "The Monster Hunt" - features the characters casing a catching a monster.
        "Ouch!" - involves the dog Floppy having a dream about being in the desert.
        The grandchildren love looking at the pictures and spotting the hidden objects but these books are too hard for the children to read at the moment but they provide lots of play activities to arouse their imagination especially the Superman story where they take it in turns to be Superman - which involves a lot of running around and hiding behind furniture.

        Level 3 - contains the titles 3a) Missing 3b) The Raft Race and 3c) Dragon Danger
        This level is too advanced for my grandchildren as it is designed for children who can recognise 20 - 30 words, read simple sentences and know all the initial letter sounds.
        "Missing" involves a hamster that escapes from its cage.
        "The Raft Race" - involves building a raft and racing down the river.
        "Dragon Danger" - involves the dog Floppy having a dream about dragons.
        The sentences again are slightly longer than those at level 2 but they are interesting stories with delightful illustrations .
        Level 4 - contains the titles 4a) Arctic Adventure 4b) Shrinking Powder and 4c) Trapped.
        "Arctic Adventure" - involves a magic key that transports Wilf and Chip to the Arctic where they have an adventure catching fish and seeing polar bears.
        "Shrinking Powder"- involves Kipper being shrunk by an apprentice wizard and all sorts of things happen.
        "Trapped" - involves a visit to a castle where the children find a trapped owl.
        These are good little stories that don't take long to read but are designed to build up a child's confidence by using letter sounds to make words. Children are able to read the stories without as much support as with the previous levels.
        All the books come in a handed plastic wallet and support the Reading Tree Scheme which until recently has been used in many primary schools.

        I am really pleased with this purchase as I think it will be a useful addition to their ever growing library of books. Levels 3 and 4 are too advanced for the children at the moment but I an sure will be used in the future. However Levels 1 and 2 have proved to be a success even though both the children are under 4.

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        • Beko WM5140 / Washing Machine / 25 Readings / 23 Ratings
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          23.11.2009 18:39
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          A great economical machine.

          I have just replaced my old washing machine with a Beko and wow what a difference. Not only is the machine more compact it is also A+ energy efficient. My old machine was noisy, time consuming and temperamental towards the end which is why I am so pleased with the efficiency and quality of this product.

          I ordered the BekoWM5140W from Pixmania for only £179 and after it was efficiently and professional unpacked and installed by the delivery team I was eager to start clearing the washing that had piled up over the last few days.

          Having read the instructions which I found to be very easily laid out and structured to be user friendly I duly followed the instructions for "First Use". This was to use the machine at "cottons 90 °C" programme without any laundry items. I found the dials easy to read and operate as they are all clearly labelled. I turned the dial on the left to the "cottons 90° C" as instructed, switched the machine on and then pressed the start button. The machine started quickly filling up with water and completed the cycle without any problems.

          Now for the wash.
          On the front of the machine are a number of selection buttons apart from the detergent compartment. Starting from the left there is the programme selection dial which can be turned to select the type of wash required. The labelling has been cleverly split into the different washing fabrics from hand wash to woollens on cold or 40°, synthetics on 30°,40° and 60°, cottons on 40°, 60° and 90° and delicates on 30° and 40° which gives loads of different options and flexibility to accommodate all types of fabrics and different detergents. You also have the option of choosing rinse, spin and drain as separate functions from the washing cycle and two additional programmes called intensive and intensive and stain which can be used for heavily soiled clothes. This gives 16 different programmes to choose from.

          Next comes the spin speed adjustment knob which allows a choice of different spin speeds of 600, 800, 1000, 1200 and 1400rpm. I have never had this option on a washing machine before but to have control over the different spinning speeds I think is going to be a very useful addition. The next button is also a very useful one for me and that is the "time delay". As I live in a rural area I only have electricity on Economy 10 which means I can get cheaper electricity for 10 hours during the day/night. I therefore, now have the option of loading the washing machine and delaying the start by 3h, 6h or even 9h - a great bonus and a big saving for me! This is the followed by the 4 buttons - start, pre-wash, quick wash and extra rinse. This then leaves the on/off button on the left hand side. Underneath these button are the program indicator lights. When the on/off button is pressed the ready light comes on indicating that the door is ready to be opened. Pressing this button again shuts down the machine. There is also a child proof lock to prevent any program interruption by a youngest pressing buttons indiscriminately.
          The detergent department has 3 separate compartments for the detergent and fabric softener. It isn't as sturdier as my other machine but it only has to hold the washing powder.

          The instruction booklet is easy to follow and has some very useful tips like placing items with metal attachments like bras, buckles into a pillowcase so that the machine isn't damaged in anyway. A pillow case can also be used to hold socks to avoid the disappearing ones that never seem to be found again.

          Would I recommend this product?

          Yes most definitely. I was surprised at how efficient this machine is and the variety of programmes and flexibility it allows. A great product. The programmes selected vary from a mere 40minutes to 150minutes and the water consumption varies from 35 l to 50 l. The energy consumption is also very different from just 0.15KWh on the hand wash to 1.70KWh on cotton 90°. The only downside to this machine is that the maximum load is only 5kg which could be awkward for some families. However, having done quite a few wash loads now I am absolutely delighted with the results . The spin speed of 1400rpm has meant that some of the washing has come out a lot drier than I have been used to and therefore I am also saving on the cost of running the tumble dryer.

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          • More +
            05.11.2009 17:04
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            A thick creamy custard without all the hassle.

            A few weeks ago I had done all the main shopping on Saturday morning and it wasn't until I was preparing Sunday lunch that I realised, with horror, that I was out of my usual Birds Custard. So I sent hubby back to Morrisons to pick some up, but as always, if you want a job doing properly do it yourself! He said he couldn't find it and ended up buying 2 packs of Morrisons ready made custard for 52p each.

            Now the container is about 14cm x 8cm x 5cm and contains 500g
            It is a very pale yellowy/cream colour featuring a jam roly-poly on the front being drenched in gorgeous custard and looks very appetising. The writing is in brown font and simple says "Morrisons ready to serve custard - delicious hot or cold".

            Ingredients
            Milk
            Skimmed milk
            Sugar
            Modified maize starch
            Flavouring
            Colours - annatto, curcumin
            Stabiliser- pentasodium triphosphate

            Nutrition facts per ¼ pack
            Energy 129kcal
            Protein 3.6g
            Carbohydrates 20.3g of which sugars 14.5g
            Fat 3.8g of which 2.4g saturates
            Fibre nil
            Sodium trace
            Salt equivalent 0.1g

            The carton also sattes that it is 100% recyclable and there is an allergy warning that the product contains milk.

            How to cook
            Cooking instructions are given as a guide but the consumer is advised to ensure that the product is piping hot throughout before serving and for best results it recommends a hob. This is a little strange as it says on the front "delicious hot or cold".

            Hob
            Empty the carton contents into a pan
            Heat gently stirring continuously. Do not boil.

            Microwave
            Empty the contents into a microwaveable container
            Heat on full power as per guide which is 3½min for a 750W and 4min for a 650W
            After heating allow to stand for one minute and stir before serving.

            Cold Serving
            Use straight from the pack

            Storage
            Once opened refrigerate and us within 3 days.


            To open the pack I had to lift the flap on the top of the package and with a pair of scissors cut along the dotted line. I then have to squeeze the contents out of the container. This was quite easy to do only be prepared for some very flatulent noises. It was difficult to assess if I got all the custard out, as the carton felt as though there was still a quantity left inside, probably stuck to the sides. However, the custard is yellowy, and has a sweet pleasant smell associated with custard and of a very thick consistency, so much so that the last few squirts of custard sat on the rest of the custard without dispersing and mixing.

            I decided to microwave the custard and emptied the contents into a glass jug and covered with cling film. As my microwave is 850W I just put it on high power for 3 min working out that there was ½ a minutes between the two given guidelines. After 2 minutes I stopped the microwave to give the custard a stir and could see that the custard was already bubbling and so tested it. It was already hot enough for me but hubby likes it piping hot, so I put it in for another 30sec. I also noticed that the custard was not as dense had it had been when cold but it was still a very good consistency and with a very smooth texture.

            So having cooked it I poured it over the apple crumble and to be honest it looked just like my normal custard. It was easy to pour with a nice and creamy texture. We had one carton between the two of us with hubby getting a bigger portion and I think I would be pushed to get 4 servings from this sized carton certain in this house.

            It tasted fantastic - thick, creamy and smooth not overly sweet but certainly custardly.

            Would I buy it again? - probably as there is along best before date - this one was Sept 2010.

            Advantages.
            Cold custard very dense and would definitely compliment a trifle.
            No mixing and preparing.
            No lumpy custard.
            Quick to heat up.
            Tastes like custard.

            Disadvantages
            Cost - Birds Custard powder costs 77p for 300g and lasts longer.
            Scissors required to open it
            Only gives 2 generous portions - with Birds custard powder you can make as much or as little as you require.
            Hard to remove all the custard through the designated hole cut along the dotted line. Felt as though some custard remained inside and would have to cut across the top to extract all the custard - Birds container easy to open and reseal
            Only one consistency - Birds powder enables you to vary the thickness of the custard according to how you like it.

            To summarise - definitely worth a try.

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            04.11.2009 10:56
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            A great cheap sponge mix with excellent results

            Morrisons Sponge mIx is in a slightly different packet to the Victoria Sponge cake but the dooyoo team have sent this link through so here goes.

            Having taken early retirement I am having to cut back on a few luxuries like fresh cream cakes from the local bakers. So with more time on my hands I have decided to make my own cakes and puddings. I have started buying Morrisons sponge mix as I have a local Morrisons store, but I am sure the other main supermarkets will sell a similar product. Now I could start from scratch mixing flour, butter, sugar etc but why bother with the messy bit when a mix has done it all for you.

            Now the sponge mix costs 32p for 225g and is in a pink coloured plastic wrapper with Morrisons sponge mix written in white and there is a picture of two smallish heart shaped cakes filled with cream on this packet although I have seen this product with one large cake featured as well. On the back in two white strips is a list of the ingredient and nutritional information on the right and on the left a guide of how to cook.

            Ingredients

            Wheat flour, sugar, Vegetable oil, Dextrose, rising agents, cornflour, salt and flavouring.

            Nutritional information per 56g serving without filling

            Energy 184kcal
            Protein 2.6g
            Carbohydrates 32.4g of which sugars 18.1g
            Fat 4.9g of which saturates 1.3g
            Fibre 0.8g
            Sodium 0.2g
            Salt equivalent 0.5g

            There are also 2 warnings highlighted -
            One is the allergy advice that the product contains gluten and sulphite and the other is that the product is produced in a factory which uses nut ingredients.

            Now the advantage of this cake mix is that you only need one egg and some water,

            To cook the basic recipe

            Preheat oven to 200°C
            Grease and line two 6-7 inch cake tins.
            Empty the contents into a mixing bowl.
            Add a medium sized egg and 45ml of water
            Mix together with and electric whisk for 1 minute
            Add another 30ml of water
            Mix for another minute.
            Divide the mixture evenly between the 2 cake tins
            Bake in the centre of an oven for 15 - 20 minutes.
            Remove the sponges.
            Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing them from the tins .
            Sandwich together with a filling of your choice when cooled completely and dust the top with icing sugar.

            On first using this product and having read the instructions I opened the packet to be met with a very pleasant aroma of vanilla. The mixture is cream coloured and is finely mixed with very few lumps unlike some I have tried in the past that are very lumpy. On adding the egg and the water I always mix first before diving in with the electric whisk to avoid being sprayed by the mixture. Now the mixture takes on a yellowy colour and is very easy to mix to get a nice smooth thickish consistency and it does only take one minute. Adding the final amount of water obviously makes the consistency more runnier but it looks like yellowy thick double cream. Splitting the mixture between the two cake tins there doesn't seem to be an awful lot of mixture in each tin and at first I did wonder if I had the right sized tins, but with the mixture in, I placed both tins in the oven and waited 15 minutes. On opening the oven I was pleasantly surprised to see that the cakes had risen and they were a lovely golden colour and firm to touch and a lovely aroma of sweet vanilla filled the kitchen. I tested the middle of the each cake by sticking a knife in to make sure it came out clean and it was. I then let the cakes cool before removing them from the tins. The final sponges were about one inch in thickness although one of the sponges was slightly lob sided probably because I hadn't spread the mixture evenly before placing the tins in the oven. I then sandwiched them together with a filling of jam and vanilla butter cream. The proof of the pudding is obviously in the taste. The texture was smooth, light, springy, moist and not too sweet and a hit with all the family.

            Now I have followed the basic recipe loads of times and I have never been disappointed, which is why I have now grown more adventurous and changed things a little to add some variety. I now always add 2 eggs to give the mixture a more lovely yellowy texture and cut back a little on the water. When I have whisked the ingredients I then add different ingredients e.g. cherries, currents, sultanas, coconut or even lemon juice but my family's favourite is my apple sponge which goes down well after a Sunday lunch.

            Apple Sponge

            This is a very easy recipe.
            Ingredients : 1 large Baking Apple
            1 heaped dessert spoon of sugar
            150ml water
            Morrisons sponge mix
            In a pan put about 150ml of water and the heaped dessert spoonful of sugar, peel and cut up the baking apple and stew for about 5 minutes until the apple has softened and the mixture is the consistency of wallpaper paste, for want of a better description. At this point you can test to see if it is sweet enough and add more sugar if needed.
            Mix the sponge mix by adding 2 eggs and 45 ml of water and add a further 15 ml before whisking again.
            Now get a tin I use a small bread tin measuring 8½cm by 4½cm and grease the sides with butter. Pour the stewed apple into the bottom and then all of the sponge mix on top. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 20 minutes and then check to see if it is ready by sticking a knife or skewer in the centre. If the knife comes out clean it is ready if not put back in the oven and check again in another 5 minutes and repeat as necessary as ovens do vary. Mine takes about 30 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool. Then decorate with a sprinkling of icing sugar. This gives 4 very generous portions and is delicious on its own or served with Morrisons ready to serve custard.

            Of course you could always split the mixture and use to make about 12 small cakes for a change.

            A fantastic product. Highly recommended.

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            • More +
              30.10.2009 12:14
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              A lovely story with hidden meanings.

              The Star who fell out of the sky is a 32 page paperback book that I have recently been given by a close friend who has been having a good old clear out in preparation for Christmas.

              Author - Ian Robson
              Illustrator - Ian Newsham
              Format : Paperback
              ISBN: 9-781-862336-14-8
              Pages - 32
              Dimensions - 30cm by 24cm
              Publisher: Gullane Children's Books
              First published : 2006
              RRP - £5.99

              The front cover has mainly a dark blue background and features a group of animals consisting of a blue elephant, an orange lion, a brown monkey with blue hands and feet, two parrots and a pink hippopotamus looking into night sky staring at the stars. There is also a large textured glittery yellow star with facial featureson the top right hand side. In contrast the back cover is cream coloured and shows the same creatures looking downat the star shape on the ground.

              The story is about a group of animals originally sitting around a camp fire looking at the starts in the night sky when the Hippo called Harry notices a falling star. The start grows bigger and bigger as it approaches and finally lands beside the fire. The animals set about thinking of how they can get the star back in the sky. Harold the Hippo has an idea but none of the other animals will listen. Leonard the lion who boasts that he is the strongest animal tries throwing the star back into the sky but the star falls back to earth. Harold tries again to tell the animals of his idea but again they don't listen. Eventually Edward the elephant tries to blow the star back into the sky with his trunk but again the star falls back to earth. Percy and Pandora the parrots then pick up the star and fly into the night sky to return the star to his friends but again this was to no avail. The animals then sit and think but come up with no suggestions until Harold gives them his idea that they didn't want to hear in the first place. His idea is to build a rocket. This the animals do and eventually Harold and the star head for the skies where the star is returned to his friends the other stars.

              This is a lovely sweet story about helping a star in distress. I also think it is about showing that although some individuals are extremely talented, it takes in this particular case team work to solve this problem. It also demonstrates that every bodies ideas should be listened to before dismissing them before they have been heard.

              This book is supposedly aimed at pre school children and the text is fairly simple but there are a large number of words/ sentences on some of the pages that can sometimes put very young readers off. Having said that some of the phrases are repetitive for young children to develop their reading skills. It is therefore a book that I would personally read to pre school children.

              Having said that I think that the illustrations themselves tell the story. The use of bold colours for the animals and the expressions used I think enhance the story immensely. The animals are simply basic shapes with the characteristics of each animal added so that they are easily recognisable. There are a series of 4 illustrations showing the lion in different positions throwing the star into the sky which depict the movement and strength the lion uses. The illustrations also show perspective in that as the star gets further away the smaller it gets and vice versa. The writer and illustrator also introduce humour into the story for example by using coconuts for space helmets!

              Would I have bought this book? Probably not at this time, as my grandchildren are only 2 and 3 years old and I think it is too advanced for them. Having said that it is a book I will keep for when they do get older on the basis that they cost of buying new books these days seems to be very expensive and in a few more years even more so. I have just looked on eBay and the hard backed version is priced at £11.19!!!!!!!!!!!

              Thanks for reading.

              This review also features on ciao.

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              • Nicky - Tony Ross / Junior Book / 18 Readings / 18 Ratings
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                29.10.2009 14:25
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                A story about the anxties of starting school and tha antics parents use.

                Nicky by Tony and Zoe Ross is just one of a number of story books that have just been given to me by a friend, who was having a frantic clear out in preparation for Christmas.

                RRP - £4.99
                ISBN - 978-1-84370-611-4
                Publisher - Andersen Press
                First published - 2007.

                The front cover has a yellow background and features a small girl wearing a blue coat, a green shirt with matching beret and a grey cardigan over a yellow blouse and she is holding a brown bag. The letters of the title Nicky are written in different colours. On the back cover the same little girl seems to be throwing a rubber, ruler and crayons in the air and the TES have described the book as "witty and original".

                The story is based about a young girl's first day at school. She is making all the excuses she can think off for not going and mum is trying to react positively and reassuringly.

                She first argues that she won't know anyone and mum tries to reassure her that she will soon make friends. She then says that school dinners will make her sick and then that the teachers will bite her etc; Each time mum is encouraging her and persuading her that everything will be alright but eventually mum ends up carrying her into school.
                At the end of the day Mum meets the little girl and she is so excited she has had a great day and tells mum all about her new friend Nicky. She describes Nicky to her mum and her mum conjures up an image how this girl must look. However this image is totally unfounded when the girl asks if Nicky can come for tea and sleep over. Mum says yes and that they can both go to school again tomorrow. The two girls are horrified that they have to go to school again the following day.

                This is a sweet story that I am sure will bring back memories. Every parent has probably experienced similar experiences to this little girl and her mother. I know when my own child started play school I was allowed to stay until she settled in so I think we all appreciate the trepidation, fears and insecurities of a small child starting school for the first time. But I think that the author also portrays the antics parents use to persuade and coax young children and his description definitely brought a smile to my face.

                The text is very simple and features just one sentence on each page with the magnificent, humorous illustrations. I think the use of different fonts for the two main characters helps the reader to distinguish between who is saying what. The girl's font is more like a child's writing while the mum's font is bold and typed.

                I think the illustrations make this book and tell the story on their own. They are simple crayon like drawings and depict wit and humour of the story. The facial expressions of child's stubbornness and caring nature of the mother come across to the reader clearly.
                The first set of illustrations show mum trying to get the girl's coat on and the girl is hiding besides a chair with her toys. Having got the coat on - the girl is then shown hiding under the table, then in the dog kennel and finally holding on to a tree before mum is seen carrying the resisting child into the school.

                At the end of the day the girl's expressions change, she is happy, smiling and describes her new friend Nicky. The illustrations now feature on mum's interpretation of snippets of information her daughter is describing and they show the wit and humour of the author once again. I particular like the picture of a girl with very long hair with a beaming smile, hanging from a washing line with a cat stuck in a sock as it is very amusing, as is the of the girl dressed in a pink bunny outfit juggling a cat, dog and her daughter to emphasis Nicky's strength. But the shock and horror portrayed on the faces of the two girls at the end I think is really funny.

                I think this is a simple well laid out story book that I will read over and over again with the grandchildren. It is a great book for children about to start school. We never get to know the name of the little girl maybe because it could be anyone and the fact that the story applies to so many children could be the reason why the author has left it anonymous.

                A lovely book and I got it for free!

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                  27.10.2009 12:43
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                  A lovely story with superb illustrations

                  I recently wrote a review on Giddy Goat, so when I saw this book in the library I was intrigued to find out what the little character had been up to next.

                  RRP - £10.99
                  Publisher - Orchard Books
                  Author - Jamie Rix
                  Illustrator - Lynne Chapman
                  ISBN - 1-84362-682-9
                  Age Range - 5 - 7 years depending on reading ability.
                  First published in 2006

                  This is obviously a sequel to the book Giddy Goat who in the first book conquers his fears of climbing to rescue a stranded sheep called Edmund on the mountainside. Giddy and Edmond become very good friends and the story in the Giddy Goat book gives a good illustration of overcoming fears and prejudices.

                  The cover of this book Giddy the Great is mainly blue sky with a patch of green and orange representing fields towards the bottom. The main character Giddy is in a red plane in the sky wearing his usual brightly coloured striped scarf and Edmond is on the ground waving a yellow handkerchief.

                  The story starts with Giddy who found his confidence for climbing in the first book now climbing everything he can from hills, tress, walls and even Ramilles the old ram from the first book. Everywhere Giddy went Edmund went too but eventually Giddy started to climb in places poor Edmund just couldn't get to so Edmund had to sit and watch his friend. Giddy's mum warns Giddy that he will lose Edmond as a friend if he keeps leaving him behind. It is now that the reader finds out that Giddy wants to win the Giant Pinnacle Race and is in training. The Giant Pinnacle is a very steep and very high rock. Giddy trains for the climb but poor Edmond just can't manage the steepness of the slopes and ends up falling down at which point Giddy calls him a "scaredy-cat". Not to be put off Giddy then travels around the world to practice climbing bridges, skyscrapers and some well known monuments including the Empire State Building. However, with all this practising Giddy becomes lonely and misses his friend. He is really sorry for calling him a "scaredy-cat" so he sends Edmond a note saying he is coming home. When he arrives Edmond tells him with great delight that he too is also going in the Great Pinnacle Race. Giddy tries and tries to say sorry but the word sorry just won't come out. The race starts Giddy leads the way and is almost at the top when he realises his friend Edmond is stuck, so without another thought of winning, he races down to rescue his friend once again. Giddy eventually apologises for his name calling and in doing so made him feel Giddy the Great.

                  This is a lovely book - the presentation of the story by using different brightly coloured backgrounds on each page complements the story and the illustrations.
                  The quirkiness of the writing - bending and moving up and down as well as diagonally gives the impression of climbing up and down and the use of different font sizes to emphasis and highlight certain words helps the reader do the same. Some of the illustrations are superb especially the ones showing facial expressions. I particular like the one of the of the Empire State Building with the expression "Move over King Kong" although I think the significance of this would be lost on such young readers the book is targeted for. I also, like the picture of the carrier pigeon with his post bag and holding a world map in his wing. These amusing illustrations add to the story and are detailed enough to be discussed on their own.

                  The text is easy to follow and the story line is very simple but realistic, showing that friendship is a powerful force and saying "sorry" for something we have said or done can make us feel a lot better. The text uses basic words which are easy for young children to follow and pick out very easily although I think the target age of 5 years is a little optimistic for independent reading. However, it is a lovely story that can be read to younger children.



                  This review also appears on ciao under poppyash.

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                    24.10.2009 15:40
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                    An enjoyable story with bright, bold colours used in the illustrations.

                    I bought this book sometime ago from either Asda or Tesco's I can't remember which but it was when one of them had an offer on children's books. For a long time it has been stuck in a cupboard because when I got it home and read it I realised it was unsuitable for the ages of my grandchildren. However, it has now found its way to the bookcase where I keep all the children's books.

                    Author - Claire Freedman
                    Illustrators - Emma Carlow and Trevor Dickinson
                    RRP - £5.99
                    Publisher - Gullane Children's Books
                    ISBN - 978-1-86233-676-6
                    Format - Paperback, 32 pages measures 30cm by 24cm
                    First published - May 2008

                    The front cover features a rather funny looking panda wearing a strikingly vivid coloured shirt on a background of blue sky with white clouds and a street. The back cover has a pink background and features a blue panda holding the panda features on the front.

                    The story centres around a little panda called Pandi who tells tales and is quite naughty. Pandi promises that he won't do things but does them anyway like climbing trees when he has been specifically told not to. To get out of trouble he blames the Great Blue Panda. In the supermarket he is told not to touch anything but ends up lying on a top of a huge pile of squashed cereal packets. Again he blames the Great Blue Panda. The final straw comes when Mrs Panda bakes some chocolate fudge cakes, of course Pandi eats them but even with chocolate around his mouth he denies his wrong doing and again blames it on his imaginary friend the Great Blue Panda. Mrs Panda decides that she has to do something to stop Pandi making up these tales so she writes him a letter and pretends it is from the Great Blue Panda. She states in the letter that the Great Blue Panda is upset about being blamed for things he has not done and he is going to come and see Pandi on Friday. Pandi becomes very worried about the arrival and starts to behave himself. On the Friday of the proposed visit Pandi receives another letter from the Great Blue Panda who states that he is very pleased about Pandi behaving himself and won't visit after all but instead go exploring for 5 years. Pandi is so relieved he promises never to blame the Great Blue Panda again.

                    This unusual story obviously tackles the problem of imaginary friends that some children have in a very caring but sensitive way. It is a book that my grandchildren ask me to read now and again but they are more interested in the things Pandi gets up to and are too young to realise that the Great Blue Panda doesn't really exist. When my granddaughter does something wrong she simple blames it on her brother who isn't even two yet, so he can't deny it.

                    The text is boldly printed and makes a lot of use of speech marks. The illustrations are bright bold colours with lots of red, blue, green, yellow and they enhance the story throughout the book giving plenty to talk about. My granddaughter's favourite pictures are of Pandi perched on top of all the broken cereal packets and the Great Blue Panda on roller skates in the supermarket. Personally, I like the illustration of the Great Blue Panda sailing up the Wigga Wagga river as there is so much detail to pick out from a tiger hiding in the bushes, a giraffe poking his head above the trees and the colours are vivid and bright.

                    It's a nice story to read to the grandchildren but it would make suitable reading material for young readers from 5 + years and is a good example, of using speech marks, for older children in primary school to look at.

                    This review also features on ciao.

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                    24.10.2009 15:29
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                    A simple story beautifully illustrated

                    I came across this book at a recent car boot sale and purchased it for amazing just 50p! I recognised the name of the author Nick Butterworth who is probably better known for the Tales from Percy's Park series.

                    RRP - £5.99
                    Publisher - Harper Collins
                    ISBN - 978-0-00-711969-1
                    Author - Nick Butterworth
                    Format - 32 page paperback

                    The cover of the book much like the title gives you a big clue as to what the story is about. The cover features Tiger the kitten thoroughly enjoying himself in the snow.

                    The story is about Tiger who usually has lots of friends to play with including a squirrel, a hedgehog and some chickens but because snow has covered everything, no one wants to venture out side and play. So Tiger decides to go home, but on his way back, he sees something in the snow and unearths it. He doesn't know what it is but it looks like an old ironing board and he uses it to make a sledge . Unfortunately, Tiger doesn't have any control over where the sledge is sliding to. The sledge knocks into the chicken coop and picks up an array of different animals as it cascades down the hill side. Eventually the sledge sails into the air and all the occupants land in the soft snow. Everyone agrees that it was fun and the book ends with them pulling the sledge back up the hill to do it again.

                    The format of this book is similar to a lot of children's books in that it the text is big and bold with emphasis in places to enhance the story and the pictures beautifully illustrate the story without the text. The facial expressions of the animals are very cleverly portrayed to add to the simple story. My grandchildren love this story book not so much for the story but for the illustrations and the super 4 page pull out towards the end of the story. I particular like the expression of Tiger in the runaway sledge. They just want snow and a sledge so they can have fun!!

                    I also like the phrases used on the pull out frieze to depict the speed of the sledge - "slipping and sliding," "whizzing and gliding," "rocking and rolling" "twisting and turning," "zigging and zagging" as I think these expressions show young writers how to express situations with a bit more flair in there own expressive writing.

                    A simple story beautifully illustrated.

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