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Yet another 'necessity' for your new baby.....baby monitors. We actually didn't buy a monitor prior to the birth of our baby daughter. We knew that to start with she'd be sleeping in the same room as us, and during the day we'd probably never take our eyes off her, so there was no need!
However, a few weeks down the line, I realised there were times I wanted to be in a different room to my daughter, but still able to hear her. There are a vast selection of monitors available, from the very basic to all-singing-all-dancing models.
We decided we had no need for the breathing sensors, temperature monitors and other posh features. We just wanted a way of hearing if our daughter was making any noise. And so we chose the Tomy Walkabout Classic Advance.
It cost us around £40 from Kiddicare, but is available from high street shops such as Argos, Mothercare and Boots for a similar price. It consists of 2 units- the parent unit and the baby unit. Each unit comes with a mains adaptor, but can also be powered by batteries (4 x AA for the parent unit and 3 x AA for the baby unit).
The parent unit transmits sound from the baby unit, and also has a light display consisting of a number of dots which light up depending on the noise level (going from green to red). There is a volume control, so you can have only lights rather than sound if you prefer, which is something we find very useful when trying to eat our dinner in peace! There is also a talkback button allowing you to use the monitor like a walkie talkie and speak to your baby (or other half if they happen to be in the room!).
The baby unit picks up any sound your baby makes. It also has a nightlight function (a soothing blue light) which can be remotely operated from the parent unit.
We really like these monitors. They are analogue, and there is occasionally a small amount of interference, but this can be rectified by moving the unit slightly. The battery life seems good, we don't use it that often but haven't needed to replace them yet after 3 months. Having the option of portability is great though. They may not have a massive number of features, but do the job we need.
This was the first book by Robert Harris that I had read. I didn't know anything about it or him, my brother just gave it to me because he thought I'd like it.
He was right.
Essentially the book is set in a post war society where the Germans have won. It follows a policeman (March), who is becoming increasingly suspicious of the regime, as he investigates a killing which has it's roots deep in the government. He investigates the case and puts himself in the firing line of the authorities as he nears a final, terrible discovery which confirms his suspicions about the regime.
The book is intelligently written and has a good pace. It is an enthralling detective story but the setting makes it more than just that. Robert Harris is an accomplished historian and this comes through in the level of detail he is able to go into. The book deals well with the concept of the winners writing history which is even more relevant in todays times. The title Fatherland also eludes to the relationship between March and his Hitler youth son. The twist at the end is a bit obvious but it does finish the book off beautifully.
Generally a cracking read.
Sky Gnome is a clever little gadget that connects wirelessly to your Sky box and allows you to hear the audio from your TV signal. It has a rechargeable battery so you can carry it around and cleverly allows you to change the channel from another room.
Its a cute little thing. It's a pyrimid shape , about 15cm high. It has buttons on the front to change channel and volume and a display. it has two speakers on the other two sides of the pyramid, to give it stereo sound.
This is just about my most favourite gadget. I love to have noise on in the background and this allows me to have it anywhere in the house. I tend to use it to listen to all the radio channels so I guess you could say that its no more useful than a digital radio but there are times when I want to listen to Sky Sports or a specific MTV type music channel and this is where it becomes priceless.
It's not perfect. Because it is small the speakers are a bit tinny for music but they are perfectly adequate for speech. Also there is a headphone socket so you could connect it out to an amp or stereo system if you wanted to.
Generally I love my Gnome. It comes with me all around the house and in the garden, whatever I might be doing. Best Christmas present ever.
I bought this breast pump, along with the Tommee Tippee Closer To Nature Microwave Sterilisers and bottles. I fully intended to breastfeed but wanted the option of feeding my baby expressed milk to give me a bit more freedom.
There were 2 main reasons for buying this particular pump. One, it was part of the Closer To Nature range which I hoped would make combining breast and bottle feeding as easy as possible. Two, this range was half price in Tesco!
It's a great breast pump and has come in very handy. It consists of only 3 parts, plus the valve, and a bottle to collect the milk. This makes it very simple to put together and clean, which is vital when you don't have much time on your hands and a tired baby brain!
The pump comes in a handy plastic box which doubles up as a microwave steriliser for the pump, I have also used it as a travel steriliser as it easily holds 2 bottles. As well as the pump and box, you get a small (130ml) bottle and flat lid included for storing milk.
I found the pump very easy to use. You screw the parts together, put it against your breast and pump the handle up and down, trying to mimic the feeding rhythm of your baby. With a bit of practice you can get decent amounts of milk out in a fairly short time.
I only use the pump occasionally, to build up a supply of milk to be used when I can't be with my baby, but find this breast pump is more than adequate. Yes, if you were pumping every feed or for long periods, you might want to invest in a more expensive and effective electric pump. But for occasional use, the Closer To Nature Freedom pump is great.
I have been on holiday to St Agnes every since I was just 3 weeks old! Both my parents families holidayed here, and my parents met her, so naturally we have carried on. Nearly 30 years on, I now go with my own family and also have a group of friends who join us.
We now go for the Bank Holiday Weekend at the end of August, and meet up with other family and friends who travel down at the same time. Previously I stayed on the Caravan Club site, but now we camp at Beacon Cottage Farm, just down the road.
The campsite is in a stunning setting, with wonderful views over the North Cornish coastline, and amazing sunsets if you are lucky with the weather.
There are a number of local beaches, we tend to go to Chapel Porth which is a fairly small beach although much bigger when the tide goes out and you can walk around the headlands either side of the bay. In St Agnes itself is Trevaunance Cove which is a
lovely pebbly beach at the bottom end of the village.
The are plenty of pubs and places to eat. The Driftwood is a great pub which serves nice food, just up from Trevaunance Cove, and very dog friendly. There is a cafe/restaurant overlooking the cove where I have eaten both lunch and dinner, lovely food and a stunning view. Up in the village itself is Sally's bistro where I have had another delightful meal, it is only small so worth booking in advance in busy holiday periods.
The village has a number of shops- post office, mini supermarket etc- and a great fish and chip shop which gets very busy on the Friday evening of Bank Holiday weekend! There are also a few shops selling surf gear, and a lovely shop in the village (I can't remember the name) which has paintings, craft items and lovely jewellery.
This place is very close to my heart, and I will continue to visit it every summer for as long as I can. It is well worth a visit, whether for surfing, walking on the coast path, or lying on a beach.
Like many other items for your baby, there is a lot of choice with play gyms and it can be hard to know which is best to get. They don't come cheap, so you want to be sure you are making the right decision.
I went with personal recommendation in the end, and bought this Fisher Price Rainforest gym. It cost £49.99 and can be bought from high street stores or online, but I strggled to find it cheaper than this, and it has in fact gone up another fiver since I bought it.
My daughter wasn't particularly interested in it until she was about 6 weeks old, and since then has spent longer and longer periods being amused by it. It consists of a brightly coloured play mat with pictures of animals, shiny ribbons and a crinkly leaf. From each of the four corners of the mat come arches which meet above the mat in the middle. One of the arches has a large yellow giraffe at the bast which houses the battery unit.
Hanging from the arches are toys your baby can watch and bat at. There is an elephant with soft ears and a rattle, a soft toucan which jingles, a mirror, a monkey hanging by it's tail and a plastic parrot on a perch. Where the arches meet there are red and yellow lights that flash and 2 hanging butterflies. You could also attach toys of your own to the hanging loops if you wanted to creat your own special rainforest!
It takes 3 size C batteries and I haven't yet needed to replace them after daily use for over 6 weeks. You can choose it to play tunes or rainforst nature sounds, and I find neither are too annoying. You can also have it activated when the baby kicks or bat the toys. The mat can be machine washed, as mine has been several times already!
It can fold up for travel, but I didn't find this easy to do without advice from another owner. It is a great playmat and my daughter certainly enjoys it, I imagine it will be well used over the next few months until she is sitting up and wanting to move around more.
The Tesco Clubcard scheme is great. I have been a part of it since first moving out of home to university where there was a huge Tesco store right next to my halls of residence! Back in those days I didn't collect many points, but now it is very worthwhile.
Once you have applied you recieve a card and 2 key fobs which can be used in store and at petrol stations. The key fobs are really handy as they can be scanned quickly, great if you are using self-service tills.
For every complete pound you spend, you get 1 point. 100 points = £1, 1000 points = £10, and so on. Every quarter you then recieve vouchers according to the number of points you have earned. As well as these vouchers, you also receive other money off or bonus points vouchers, which tend to be related to products you normally buy.
Our local supermarket is a Tesco, so we shop there weekly for food as well as petrol (as it's the cheapest petrol around). This means we accrue more points than I like to admit to. We also have a Tesco Credit Card, I have no idea what the interest rate is for it as we pay it off in full every month, but it means we earn Clubcard points on absolutely everything we buy with it. The bill is well over £1000 a month so this leads to a lot of points altogether!
You can use the coupons towards your weekly shop, or exchange them for 'Deals' which make them worth 4 times as much. Examples of Deals we have used include magazine subscriptions, RAC membership, airport parking and hotel vouchers. The website lists all the Deals available (they change over time) and you get a booklet with your quarterly vouchers too.
We are also members of some of the clubs Tesco offer- the baby club, giving us a regular magazine and appropriate money off vouchers, and the wine club which we have used to get some great bargains on wine.
If you do your regular shopping in Tesco, this is a wonderful scheme that gives you either money off your shopping or allows to to have a few treats. The only slight complaint I would have is that the Deals available aren't quite as good as they used to be, but we still manage to find plenty to spend our vouchers on!
I intended to breastfeed my baby, but wanted to be prepared in case I couldn't. I also wanted the option of giving my baby a bottle of expressed milk if breastfeeding was successful.
These bottles are advertised as being designed to mimic a mother's breast, as much as a bottle ever can anyway! This alone made me decide to buy them, as I wanted to be able to have the option of combining breast and bottle feeding.
I bought a number of the Closer to Nature items, and got them all while half price in Tesco. I got a packe of three 260ml (9 fl oz) bottles for £5 rather than the usual £10. I also have a smaller bottle which came with my breast pump and another 3 bottles that came with the steriliser.
I haven't used any other bottles to be able to compare these to, but they certainly work for us. Luckily I have been able to breastfeed, but my daughter has also happily taken a bottle since the age of 2 weeks, with no detriment to the breastfeeding.
I have used them with both expressed milk and ready made formula and had no problems. The wide neck makes them easy to fill. Cleaning them is easy, I use the bottle and teat brush that came with the steriliser.
The only thing I find, which may be the case with all bottles, is that a small amount of milk gets 'stuck' on the lip of the neck and is difficult to get into the teat, even when your baby is held very flat. This is only a minor point though, and other than that I have been very happy with them.
Coming from a medical background, I always knew I would want to give birth in hospital. Although I know the stats, and that the vast majority of births require no more than the assistance of a midwife, I had seen too many instances of things going wrong. This meant I knew I wouldn't feel comfortable or safe giving birth anywhere other than in hospital.
I was booked into my local university teaching hospital, which is a huge place. I chose to be under the care of the midwives rather than the doctors unless the need arose for my care to be transferred. For me, this was the best of both worlds. The midwife led unit (MLU) was far quieter, friendlier and comfier than the next door consultant led unit (CLU), and aslo had the bonus of a birthing pool. However, should there be any need, I was only seconds away from the assistance of obstetricians, anaesthetists and paediatricians.
The MLU was wonderful. Prior to going into labour, I had to visit the hospital twice late on in pregnancy. The first time (for reduced movements) I actually had to be seen in the CLU as the MLU was full. This just confirmed I had made the right choice! The second time (for bleeding, which turned out to be a show) I went to the MLU and was seen by the midwife who also ran the aquanatal classes I went to! They were friendly, helpful and reassuring.
When I went into labour (late Friday evening), I managed at home for as long as I possibly could because I wanted to be in hospital for minimal time. I used painkillers and a TENS machine, then when the contractions became only 5 minutes apart and too painful to bear (Saturday late afternoon) I called the hospital and went in.
I had my own room with a toilet and sink, and showers down the corridor. There were 6 birthing rooms plus a water birth room. The room had a bed in as well as a bean bag, CD player and small table and chair.
The first midwife I saw was lovely. She took some details, checked my obs then examined me. I was very relieved to hear I was a good 4-5cm dilated and wasn't going to be sent back home! I had terrible SPD (pelvic joint pain) and couldn't move far, so she suggested I tried using the birthing pool as a method of pain relief.
While the pool was being filled, they called in a midwife from the community (Sarah) who would be looking after just me. This was better than I was expecting, one to one care was a real bonus. Once she arrived, she then looked after me for the rest of my labour and birth, and I can't rate her highly enough.
Sarah got me into the pool and chatted to me and my husband about what we wanted from the labour and birth experience. I was very open to anything, and prepared to be flexible. She discussed giving birth in the pool, methods of pain relief and vitamin K injections for the baby among other things.
In between contractions she distracted me by chatting about anything and everything- jobs, holidays, friends etc. I felt that she really included my husband which was refreshing as he seemed to be ignored in some of our antenatal care. We even discovered that we had a few mutual friends! Through every contraction Sarah was really encouraging and supportive.
After 4 hours, I got out of the pool to be re-examined and was really disappointed to be told I had only progressed 1cm despite regular strong contractions. I was really tired by this point and got a bit upset. Sarah and my husband made me have a bit to eat and drink and gave me a bit of a pep talk!
Because I wasn't progressing, I couldn't get back into the pool. Sarah wanted me up on my feet moving around so gravity could help move the baby down. This was really difficult and painful because of my pelvic pain so she gave me a shot of Pethidine (I was already using gas and air) to help.
From then on, things became a little blurry, a combination of tiredness and pethidine knocked me off a bit. I didn't really feel the pethidine helped with the pain much but it made me feel more detached from it. According to my husband I became a bit like a belligerent drunk!
Things then began to progress more quickly and Sarah continued to encourage me (as well as my wonderful husband of course). I have no idea where time went, but suddenly I was being told that Sarah was going to have to leave as it was the end of her shift. Just as she was handing me over to a new midwife (Jenny), I felt the urge to push. Sarah had a quick look and could see the head so decided to stay on and deliver my baby.
Luckily for me the pushing stage was fairly easy and quick (although still very painful!). After only a couple of pushes and lots of encouragement from my husband and the two midwives, my beautiful daughter was born up onto my chest at 1am Sunday morning. The new Daddy got to see the sex first and then cut the cord.
I had a 2nd degree tear that took over an hour to be stitched up by Jenny as Sarah had to leave, and used nearly as much gas and air for that as I had through labour! Without Sarah, I really think I would have given in and been moved to the CLU for an epidural, but her support kept me going (if I'd have moved, I would have had a different midwife).
In the morning, after very little sleep as I kept staring at my new daughter, I was helped into the shower. There were no buzzers to call for help in the bedroom, which seemed strange to me as I was rather scared of getting up on my own, but apparently it is because you are meant to be independent in the MLU.
We waited for my daughter to be checked over and all paperwork sorted, and were away by lunchtime. Overall, the staff and the unit were fantastic. I didn't need the help of the CLU, but knowing it was available gave me confidence.
I would have no hesitation in booking into the MLU again for any future births, and would hope I could have the same midwife as she made my birth experience as good as such a painful thing can be!
I live near an Ikea store in Cardiff. Apparently this is their least profitable store, being placed quite near to the Bristol and Birmingham stores. I can't believe this as it's always full.
We bought our first house in 2004 and we couldn't really afford to spend loads of money. After much looking around we realised that you can't go wrong with Ikea. They have a huge range of furniture for every room in the house and the prices are excellent. There are more expensive things in the shop if you want but if you're looking for value, this is the place.
People joke about putting together Ikea flat packs but to be honest after you've done a couple they are really easy, I think I could do them without the instructions now. The furniture itself is sturdy and seems pretty good quality. None of ours has ever fallen apart. The range is massive so will suit any style.
The shops themselves are a bit of an experience and I feel like it kills me a little bit every time I go there but saying that they are well laid out and the staff are generally helpful and friendly. The returns bit is always a bit slow but they do their best.
The only thing I would say is that we have Ikea sofas (not the cheap ones) which have been a bit disappointing. Also we have an Ikea kitchen which seemed great but the units go right to the wall which our gas man tells us is unusual and makes fitting pipes etc more difficult.
All in all Ikea does a job, good value, good choice furniture. Just don't go there too often.
i drove a Peugeot 309 for years. My Mum bought it from new back in 1988 and the car was passed to me and my brother when we learnt to drive.
What can you say. It wasn't exactly a looker. Ours was bright red, with a gold go faster stripe and a sunroof. The interior was practical grey but still seemed to show all the stains. It was only a 1.3 so was slow, slow, slow. 0-60 was a long time, probably about 15 secs. syaing that it would quite happily propel you to above 90 if you really wanted it to.
For all it's downsides I loved that car. It was absolutely indestructible and it ran without much in the way of serious incident for 17 years until I got rid of it. Sure there were a few minor problems here and there but it was so simple that even I, with no mecahnical skill, could keep it going. It was a decent size, with a massive boot and was ridiculously cheap to insure.
When I got rid of my 309 it was the oldest car of any of my friends and went a lot better than most of their newer cars. I scrapped it in the end as I couldn't bring myself to sell it to anyone else and I could afford something new and sparkly. I miss it though.
Christian Bale plays Patrick Bateman, a ridiculous 80s yuppie who is completely self obsessed, hopelessly vain, ridiculously shallow and utterly psychopathic.
He is an executive in a big company, spends all his time worrying about his image and eating in fancy restaurants but has a problem. He likes going out and killing random people, tramps, prostitutes etc. The film shows his gradual spiral into increasing violence in contrast to his opulent lifestyle.
The film is adapted from a book fo the same name by Bret Easton-Ellis. The book itself is incredibly violent and graphic and the novel, whilst not in the same league, is also quite shocking at times. Christian Bale is superb as the lead character playing the part with a quiet tone that belies his violent tendencies. The film also shows the ridiculousness of 80s excess, clothes, hair, fancy restaurants and tries to place it al against Bateman's violence.
Violent, disturbing, very good
I enjoy A Town Called Eureka but I'm not really sure why. The premise is that jack Carter, a US marshall stumbles upon a secret town where all of the worlds most intelligent people live, designing new inventions and experiments in a big lab building funded by the department of defense. Their old Sheriff suddenly dies so they offer Carter the job. He is then the one thicko in a town of genii.
Basically every episode follows pretty much the same pattern. Genius invents some new thing which causes some whacky problem that no one can figure out and will probably end the human race. This until Carter comes in with his normal thicko way of looking at it, solves the problem and saves the day. There is nothing original about this show. Carter has a delinquent daughter who turns out to be a genius. There is a love interest and a best friend whose wife dies tragically. Even the weekly problem is a rehash of another sci fi show you've seen somewhere else. But for some reason I still watch it.
It's lighthearted and harmless. I don't think I'd buy the DVD boxset but if you can catch it on TV it is woth a look.
I muist admit that I may have missed the point of this film as I found it quite confusing at times.
It is set in the not too distant future, in a society wher everyone is under surveillance by the authorities using a variety of bugs and satellites. Keanu Reeves plays an undercover agent involved in a world of drugs who loses the distinction between his two lives. The film follows him and his friends in their chaotic mixed up lives and how Reeve's charcter Arcter tries and eventually fails to keep up with his two opposing characters.
The story is only half of it with A Scanner Darkly. It has an all star cast Keanu Reeve, Winona Rider, Robert Downey Junior and Woody Harrelson. All give terrific performances, particularly Downey Jr who is at his overacting best. The cast list though hides this film's most interesting feature, that it is an animation. The film was filmed as a standard movie might be but the frames were then individually drawn and animated. This allows for a style mixed between the two that is visually stunning but lets the actor's skill still shine through.
The story of the film is a little hard to follow, although I think if I watched it again I'd get more out of it but the animation is such that it draws you in.
I'm a horror fan and I have to say that they don't come much better than this. The premise is that Freddy Kruger was a child killer who was burnt in his housee by a group of local vigilante parents. Now a few years later he has returned to take revenge on those who killed him. To do this he appears in the dreams of their children, first terrorising them and then killing them one by one in brutal ways. One of these children, Nancy, decides to fight back and comes up with a way of eventually defeating Freddy by pulling him back from the dreamworld to reality.
The first thing to say about this film is that there is a lot of blood, really loads. The effects are maybe not up to the standards of todays big budget slashers but it does leave quite an impression. The acting as you might expect from essentially a teen slasher movie is not great and the script isn't fantastic but is enough to carry the premise, which is the scary thing. One thing the film does manage is to blur the edges between dream and reality so it is difficult to tell where you are, making Freddy's inevitable entrances all the more jumpy.
A classic slasher horror film which still stands up to todays effects heavy offerings.