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ramblehan

ramblehan
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Member since: 07.07.2012

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      25.07.2012 21:53
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      Fantastic cream teas, waterfalls and a lovely river to enjoy - a must-do destination on your visit

      Watersmeet House and tea garden, close to Lynton and Lynmouth on the North Devon coast of Exmoor, is a must-visit destination. Set in a deep river valley, full of lush greenery and with walks to enjoy in every direction, it really cannot be rivaled for a perfect rest spot.

      Whether you park close by on the A39, and take the short but steep 10 minute walk down to the house, or you start from Lynmouth and amble alongside the stunning East Lyn River (45 minutes - 1 hour), the riverside setting is fantastic, with a beautiful waterfall to stand and admire.

      The tea garden is great, friendly staff, and a great selection of light bites like pasties, toasted sandwiches, a massive selection of cakes and my personal favourite - the cream tea! And what a cream tea it is - at £4.95, its not the cheapest BUT you get two huge scones - mine were still slightly warm, and perfectly moist and loads of clotted cream and Jam. You get a choice of jam - Strawberry or Whortleberry - Whortleberry is a local Exmoor speciality - its somewhat like blackberry - a rich red colour, with a tart flavour - really great to cut through the taste of the clotted cream.

      Its run by the National Trust so has all the usual things you'd expect like very clean toilets and a small gift shop. Their website is really useful www.nationaltrust.org.uk/watersmeet and you can also download free walking trails to explore the area (and earn that cream tea!)

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      20.07.2012 23:41
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      The best option if you care about what products you use, and the impact they have on your body.

      Surcare is, without doubt, the best washing up liquid on the market. Its totally affordable - indeed more often than not its the cheapest washing up product in the supermarket. It's totally fragrance and dye free, which means it has no smell, or radio-active bright green colour - and this is in essence why I think Surcare is so great - it truely is great for your skin.

      Industrially manufactured fragrances are BAD - until the 20th century fragrances were 100% natural, but the advent of the chemical generation means that 95% of fragrances are synthetic - and largely made from petroleum - with scary links to causing different cancers and causing skin sensitivities. Anything that you buy today that smells - but is not made with 100% natural essential oils is likely to be synthetic - and the impact it can have on you is huge. Think about how much of everything you buy these days has a scent - and this is why we need to buy carefully and minimise the risk.

      So why is Surcare great? It does the washing up - you get a good foam and it does what it needs to. It doesn't smell, but then do you need washing up liquid to have a smell? It also won't harm your skin, or overload your body with yet another chemical product.

      We are so often brainwashed these days to think we need smelly things to cover up our own smells (fabreeze is such a great example!) when in reality, we need something to help us clean, and Surcare is the healthiest washing up liquid there is. Even Ecover, which appears to be such a green brand uses synthetic fragrances - so whilst they may make sure there product has minimal impact on the environment, it sadly could have a far more negative effect on you.

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      20.07.2012 23:18

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      Good for you, but easy to forget.

      Trilogy's Everything Balm is packed with things that are just great for your body - rosehip oil, evening primrose oil, wheat germ, you name it, its got it. The balm is thick, but does melt to the touch. Trilogy recommend it for massage, smoothing and moisturising for all skin types, a cuticle conditioner etc

      I have used it for lip balm, and for dry skin on my elbows, knees etc - and it does work. it smells OK, but i think this is where the product lets itself down - it could smell better! Perhaps better is the wrong word - I think it could have had a stronger, more lasting smell, you know the sort - the sort that makes you want to use it again and again - this doesn't have that so I tend to forget I have it - perhaps this is an inherent issue with its name - its great for everything - so I use it for nothing!

      It would definately be a great travel companion - a space saver in your toiletry bag which could do everything, but if you are not planning any long trips away, I think this could languish, like mine has, in the back of your cupboard which makes it an expensive buy.

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      20.07.2012 22:52

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      An essential bit of durable, reliable and nice to look at kitchen kit.

      We were given these chopping boards as a gift and what a brilliant addition they are to my kitchen. There are 4 small boards, each supposed to be for a different use - vegetables, meat, fish and cooked food, although I have to say I get some sad enjoyment from breaking those rules on occasion!

      The boards are made from a hard wearing plastic, and whilst they do score on the odd occasion, they do not mark easily. No problems with putting them through the dishwasher either. We have had our set for 4 years now - and looking at them, you really wouldn't know it.

      The one major upside & downside is the size. This set is great as it can sit unobtrusively on the side of any small kitchen and not clutter it up, BUT if you have a lot of veg prep to do, you will need to use 2 boards (and break those rules!)

      Initially when you consider the price, i do think they are on the expensive side, but given that 4 years later we are still using and abusing them everyday, they are actually good value for money and the bright colours strike the right cord with me too as it does make you think about cross contamination.

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      10.07.2012 21:35
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      A great way to save money, and enjoy lovely fresh bread - works everytime

      We were bought this as a present as we had moved to the wilds of Exmoor, and shops are a distant trek - and what a great thing it is. Instead of a freezer full of loaves, i have a few packs of flour on standby, a tiny pack of yeast and away we go.

      The machine lots of different settings, which are easy to work through and select. if you want to wake up to fresh bread, you have to work out how many hours it will be between the time you switch it on, and the time you want it to be ready. Not massively complicated, but good brain training if you are switching on late at night when you are half asleep (or half cut!)

      The easiest mistake to make is to forget to put the paddle in when you put in the ingredients (you end up with a stodgy mess not a loaf, but its easy to clean up) or you forget to add an ingredient like water (you end up with burnt mess but its easy to clean up too)

      Despite the numerous settings - our favourite which we do time and time again is the quick loaf - programme 2. It takes 2 hours and gives you a fairly dense but perfectly sized loaf, which is great for cutting for sandwiches. (N.B. if you want to use for sandwiches, cutting a hot fresh loaf is a bit of a challenge - I recommend making your bread the night before instead - you might miss out on the lovely smell in the morning, but you won't lose your loaf with poor cutting!)

      We do have the nut dispenser - but we have never used it - and I guess if you are looking to save money, the model without the dispenser would be fine. I'm not sure I'll ever use the dispenser as you usually have to be there to add the ingredients at the right stage of the recipe - and if I am honest, I will either be in bed, at work or catching up on my other chores.

      Its a big machine, which we have permanently out on our kitchen worktop - we use it every other day or so (the bread lasts really well - and no horrible preservatives) - i don't think i would like to have to move it in and out of a cupboard everytime I wanted to use it.

      It's got a great recipe book so save yourself some money and don't buy yourself any bread making recipe books, as the book that comes with it has so much choice you'll struggle to work through it.

      I have used to make jam - and it was nice, but to be honest it was just as easy to use a jam pan to do it. I have not bothered for cake, but have used for pizza dough with great result, but again - just as easy to do it in a mixer and leave to rise.

      In summary - this is a brilliant machine - has saved us loads of money and freezer space - but do really think about whether you need the nut dispenser, as you could save yourself a bit of money and get all the same great functions without a dispenser that you might only use a handful of times.

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      10.07.2012 19:56
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      It works, it's reliable, it's just not perfect.

      We purchased this laptop as we don't have a TV and use a laptop to watch Iplayer and use for general internet surfing, game playing, and the usual administrative stuff.

      It has a 17.3 inch screen - which was as big as we could get for our budget - and the screen is fantastic - even if you are on battery life, it is bright, and easy to see / use. It does everything is should do without issue - we can play games, watch TV and use for the internet. It has loads of storage (500 Gb harddrive) and came with Windows 7, which is easy to use.

      One of the best thing things about this laptop is how quickly it switches on. I'm not technical at all, so I can't explain why, but I know its to do with the processor - and all I can do is compare how long this laptop takes to turn on and get internet surfing - a very brief and oh so fantastic 1 min 30 seconds - Unbelievable (especially when i compare it to my work laptop - a HP which is on a much older processor, but which takes over 5 mins to warm up and get going)

      We've had zero issues with it since new - so technically its top notch. it was easy to set up, and get going with wireless, our existing printers and external hard drives.

      Here's what annoys me though!

      The power supply point on the laptop is on the right hand side of the laptop, to the back. very very close to the CD Rom Drive - so if you eject a CD - and your cable is in the wrong place you can and do get in a tangle. Its not a massive thing - but when you consider there are no ports on the back of the laptop, i think this is just a bit of a stupid design issue. we move this laptop around from room to room - so it is never perfectly set up with cables tucked away - if you did plan to have this at a desk most of the time I am sure this would not be a big issue.

      The mouse - this is my biggest gripe with this laptop. It just doesn't work smoothly. It seems very sticky so if you need to scroll on website pages, which is so often the case, you find you have to stop and try and re-find the mouse or use the side bar to navigate down the page. We have got around this with using an external mouse - so its a fixable issue - but I do think this is a massive shame, when its such a key part of the laptop - and something you use for everything.

      For a media laptop - the other moan is the sound quality. It is not brilliant. If you want to watch TV whilst cooking for example, you'll need to plug into an external speaker system (we use our IPOD docking station) as you'll struggle to hear. if it's just you in a quiet room, its more than adequate.

      Summary: It does everything it should, but could be improved in some areas - however if they did improve those areas, you'd probably be asked to pay more!

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      10.07.2012 19:22
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      A must-have beauty product for helping reduce wrinkles and improve skin texture

      Who gets a bit twitchy when they read the ingredients list of some beauty products - I usually can't pronounce most of them let along know what they are, and more importantly what they will do to my body. Well, Trilogy's Rosehip Oil is One hundred percent pure Rosehip oil -completely natural, no added chemicals or extra ingredients.

      To use, its very simple, clean your face as normal - and then put a few drops of oil onto your fingers and apply where necessary. I have really dry skin, and the oil is quickly absorbed, and does not leave you with a greasy shine. I use it twice a day (and sometimes more than that!) and have found over time that the condition of my skin has massively improved. I have some broken veins in my cheeks (attractive!) and have found it has made a big difference. My skin has got noticably less dry and more supple as a result. Make-up goes on fine afterwards too.

      The oil is also good for improving the appearance of scars - I had a friend whose daughter had to have stitches on a nasty cut on her arm. After the stitches had closed, she applied Rosehip oil and now (nearly 1 year later) you would not even noticed a scar. I have also used for an eczema type rash and it has really helped to reduce it in size and colour.

      There's only a couple of downsides to this great product - and that's price and its green credentials. Price wise, it is expensive, but a bottle does last a long time, and ecologically it is imported - so a fair few CO2 miles to it's belt. That said, I will not live without it - if only I had discovered it sooner!

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    • Beko BSC630S / Oven / 15 Readings / 15 Ratings
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      07.07.2012 08:58
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      Amazing value for money and a good workhorse for a busy kitchen. Would not hesitate to buy again.

      We purchased this oven just over a year ago - at the time we were tight on money so I had to go for the cheapest electric oven on the market - and I must say its been a revelation! Normally I would look for an oven with a separate top oven / grill, but lack of budget made that impossible - and I have been amazed by how great this Beko oven is. Amazing value for money.

      What you lose out on in having a separate second oven and grill you more than make up with the size of this oven - It's huge! It comes with 2 metals shelves - making a refreshing change from previous ovens where I have had to purchase extra. In addition to that the grill pan is not designed just to sit on one of the shelves, but actually slots in and is essentially a third shelf, as a result, the grill pan is also huge as it is the full width of the oven.

      The hob and the oven are very easy to clean - I have not had to clean the oven with any noxious chemicals - just wipe it down and the occasional bit of elbow grease. The ceramic hob is indestructible too, I am not a massive fan of ceramic because in the past (and previous oven cost more than £500) they have marked very easily - and always seems to take a lot of elbow grease to bring back to a good shine. The Beko does mark if you boil over, but it cleans much easier. In a blonde moment, I once left a wooden spoon on a hot hob without realising - the spoon burnt to a cinder, the house filled with smoke, but not a mark on the ceramic hob!

      There's a useful storage compartment under the oven - a real bonus and a great place to hide all my baking trays and free up much needed cupboard space.

      The fan oven is quick to heat up and quiet - we eat in the kitchen and if I've put a pudding in to heat, we can sit in the kitchen and eat our meal without noticing - our last oven made a steady hum, but this one you wouldn't know it was on. Its got an oven light which is bright and its great for watching cakes rising - our last way more expensive oven didn't have this and I wouldn't do without it now.

      Downsides - a couple of niggles really. Before I bought this I was worried about not having a second top oven/grill - and having to open the door to grill - I have to say it has not been an issue at all. You only have to open the door a small amount for the grill mode, and it doesn't get in the way at all. I also found at Christmas that as the main oven was so big, I had no need for the smaller oven - and also less fussing about 2 ovens which don't seem to keep temperature (this one does!)

      Only other downside is the temperature dial - it only shows the big numbers e.g 50, 100, 150, 200 etc - and doesn't break down to 170, 180 etc. This concerned me to begin with, but to be honest i have got used to it, and it doesn't seem to have had any impact on my baking.

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