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shoe_gal_84
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Member since: 04.07.2012

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    • DKNY NY3605 / Watch / 48 Readings / 47 Ratings
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      09.01.2013 13:54
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      I love this watch!

      Up until recently, I had worn the same watch for years and years. When my birthday came in October, I decided that it was time to treat myself and asked for money so I could get myself a nice, new watch. Family did well and I ended up with a budget of around £100 to purchase a new watch. I wasn't really sure what I was looking for, but knew that it had to be silver and quite delicate.

      I spent a while searching for the right one, both online and in stores and ended up falling in love with most of the DKNY range - they are all very attractive watches and really reasonable. I ended up purchasing the DKNY NY3605 from H Samuel, which cost me £69. I was thrilled as I had expected a designer watch to be a lot more expensive than this.

      So, the watch itself is stainless steel and the strap and outer of the face is a lovely bright, shiny silver colour. The watch face is rectangular and is a slightly lighter silver colour which has a brushed effect. DKNY is printed in silver letters on the face of the watch, but it's pretty small and doesn't detract from how pretty it is. The numbers shown on the face are 12, 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10, which is pretty unusual. However, it's a godsend for me as I always struggled to see whether it was 1 or 2 'o' clock/ 4 or 5 'o' clock etc on my previous watch, but I don't have that problem with this one. The missing numbers are marked with a dash and it's SO easy to tell the time quickly and easily with this watch.

      The strap is made up on links, some of which can be removed to change the sizing. This is really easy to do yourself and has made the watch a perfect fit for me. On the underside of the strap, one of the links has DKNY printed on it, which is a nice touch (this isn't one of the links that you can remove).

      The watch is really nice to wear, I find it quite light and comfortable and I just love having it on my wrist. It came in a lovely box and was well packaged, it also came with a 2 year warranty which is good. I have had the watch for 4 months now and have not had any problems with it atall, I wear it everyday and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

      As I mentioned, I paid £69 for this watch at H Samuel; it is currently for sale on Amazon at £55 which is a real bargain.

      Overall, I would thoroughly recommend this watch as it is really attractive, good quality and well priced. I honestly never thought that I could enjoy wearing a watch so much and can't stop looking at it! I have been very, very pleasantly surprised and wouldn't hesitate to look at DKNY again when I need to purchase a watch or similar. I give this watch 5 out of 5 as I couldn't ask for anything more from it.

      Some basic information:
      Brand: DKNY
      Case material: Stainless Steel
      Face colour: Silver
      Face diameter: 1.2 cm
      Face shape: Rectangular
      Model number: NY3605
      Movement: Quartz
      Strap material: Stainless Steel
      Strap style: Bracelet
      Warranty: 2 Years
      Water resistant: To 30m

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      19.12.2012 16:30
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      Not luxury, but you can't go wrong for £29!

      My sister moved to London a while ago and my Mum and I thought it would be nice to visit for a couple of days to spend some girly, family time together. We managed to get really cheap train tickets and hoped that we could find a bargain hotel to match. We were lucky enough to come across a Travelodge in the Kings Cross area which was priced at £29 a night. We snapped it up as it seemed too good to be true; it was booked for a Monday night about 6 weeks before Christmas.

      We got the train to London Liverpool Street and got the tube to King's Cross. We decided that we would walk to the hotel as it was raining and roads were gridlocked so we figured it would probably be just as quick to walk! I put the postcode into the sat nav on my phone and it said it would take 12 minutes, which was pretty accurate. The Travelodge is well positioned for transport links and it just over the road from a convenience store.

      When we walked in, we couldn't believe that it was a Travelodge. It had a fairly grand entrance and was really bright and open. The reception area was to the right and there was a lovely looking café/bar to the right hand side. The reception staff were friendly and checked us in quickly and easily, showing us how to get to our room.

      We had to get the lift to the second floor and then walked around a maze of corridors before FINALLY getting to our room. It felt a little like being in a cabin on a ship as it was really tiny! There were twin beds with little space inbetween, a TV and wardrobe (as standard in Travelodges). The hotel was obviously laid out in a circular format and so our window looked out on the central bit where all of the other rooms looked as well!

      The bathroom was tiny, and the tiles in the bath/shower were pretty grubby. I did have a shower and there wasn't a lot of power and the shower head kept falling down. There were plenty of nice, fluffy towels provided but there was no showergel/shampoo or anything similar.

      The bedroom was clean and I found the bed to be fairly comfortable (although it might just be because I'd spent a whole day walking around London and was shattered!). The tea and coffee in the room was a godsend and I think we used everything we had - just a shame there were no biscuits!

      Overall, my Mum and I were pretty happy with our stay at the Travelodge King's Cross Royal Scot. It only cost us £29 in total for one night and it was such a bargain for that price. Yes, the room was small, but it was adequate for what we needed it for. We spent most of our time out and about and only really used the room for sleeping in. We both had a good night's sleep and enjoyed the refreshments in the room. The hotel was incredibly well situated for getting to most places in central London due to the great links with King's Cross. We didn't use the café/bar but it really did look lovely and I think I would do so if staying here again.

      I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this hotel to anyone looking for a bargain place to stay in the capital. I would also happily stay here again. It's not luxury, but you just can't go wrong for £29.

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      • The 2nd Law - Muse / Music Album / 54 Readings / 54 Ratings
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        06.11.2012 20:31
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        You need this in your life!

        I have been a Muse fan for as long as I can remember and own every album they have ever released, so it went without saying that I would be investing in their latest album, The 2nd Law. It was released at the beginning of October 2012 after being delayed by around a month so I was incredibly eager to get my hands on it by the time it finally came out!

        I own the Deluxe Edition, so that it what I will be reviewing. The package itself comes in a cardboard case (a little disappointing as I love proper CD cases and felt it was a bit cheap), but it includes the 13 track CD album as well as a bonus DVD. The name "The 2nd Law" references the second law of thermodynamics, which is quoted in one of the tracks (Unsustainable) and the fascinating artwork on the album cover was apparently taken from the Human Connectome Project and represents the map of the human brain's pathways, "tracking the circuits in our heads and how we process information with bright, neon colors." I absolutely love the artwork with this album and couldn't wait to get it in my CD player.

        Track Listing:

        Disc: 1
        1. Supremacy - I absolutely love this track, it is such a brilliant opener to the new album. Personally, I think it sounds a bit like it should be in a James Bond film! It features a dramatic into and then goes into beautiful lyrics from Matt Bellamy. This is up there as one of my favourite album tracks.

        2. Madness - This was the second single to be released from The 2nd Law and is quiet quiet and haunting in contrast to track one on the album. It features a really interesting instrument that looks like a cross between a guitar and a light box (watch the video to see what I mean). This song is really catchy and I find it incredibly easy to listen to.

        3. Panic Station - The first time I listened to the album, this was the track that jumped out at me. I thought it sounded a bit 80s, but again, found it very catchy and now find myself singing along!

        4. Prelude - Classic Muse! This track is just under a minute long and is a classical piece. It may sound a bit odd to have this in the middle of an album, but actually, I find that it fits very well and does a great job of breaking up the songs and providing a bit of calm!

        5. Survival - This is probably the best known track as it was released earlier in the year as the official track for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Following the previous classical track it bursts in with a dramatic beginning and is a wonderful song that now provides me with fantastic memories of the Olympics. This is one of the most commercial songs on the album.

        6. Follow Me - This song is going be the third single from the album and will be released in December 2012. It starts with haunting backing music and Matt's beautiful voice and then goes into a dubstep track, which is pretty different for Muse. I wasn't sure how I would feel about them changing genre, but actually I have come to really love this song and think that it is a stunning song.

        7. Animals - It's taken me a few listens to really get into this song, and I do like it, it's just not one of my personal favourites.

        8. Explorers - This track is very gentle, but involving. It's all about the lyrics and focusses on not belonging in your own world, an incredibly engaging song. I can be doing something, get to the end of this song and realise that I've just been sitting there listening to the words.

        9. Big Freeze - This song reminds me of U2. It adds a bit of a funk element, but doesn't lose it's inert Muse-ness! Another catchy track, once it goes up tempo you will find yourself dancing along to it!

        10. Save Me - This track was written and performed by Chris Wolstenholme, he wrote it about his alcoholism. It starts slow and builds up gradually, it's another track that isn't one of my favourites.

        11. Liquid State - This is the second track that was written and performed by Chris Wolstenholme about his alcoholism. It is quite heavy compared to the rest of the album and I find that it really reminds me of Foo Fighters.

        12. The 2nd Law: Unsustainable - This track, for me, marks a different section to the album and consists of a unique mix of classical music, progressive rock and dubstep. It starts with classical music and a news person reporting on the end of the world. I didn't really like it the first time I heard it, but I have come to really quite like it!

        13. The 2nd Law: Isolated System - This track features no vocals atall, mainly a haunting piano that reminds me of the music in the Exorcist. It also features the sound of news reports in the background and I find that this song really gets me thinking about things.

        Disc: 2
        1. The Making Of The 2nd Law - A great insight into the band and how they work together.

        2. Bonus Feature - This features a live performance.

        Overall, I would say that this album is a little different to their previous ones, but not in a bad way. They are obviously up for trying new things with the many dubstep influences on The 2nd Law and, personally, I think that they all pay off. I think it is a wonderful album, which I have listened to over and over. The beauty of a Muse CD is that I always seem to notice different things the more I listen to it, so I never get bored.

        I recently saw them touring in London and they performed a number of tracks from this album, all of which were incredible. I can easily say that Matt Bellamy has the best voice of anyone that I have ever seen live - AMAZING! Some of the performances have given new meaning to the album tracks as well, and I just can't stop listening to it.

        The album is for sale on Amazon, priced at £12 for the deluxe version, and the normal album can be picked up for around £10. It should also be available at all good record shops/websites. A must for any Muse fan, this gets 5 stars all the way!

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        • More +
          01.11.2012 09:34
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          Get this in your life!

          I actually discovered this product whilst rating reviews on here! I LOVE candles, but my hubbie isn't too keen, so I needed to find a bit of an alternative. I found this tart burner and just thought it looked fab, so added it to my Amazon Wishlist and hoped someone would get it for me for my birthday.

          It was my birthday a month ago, and actually my husband ended up buying this for me - I was thrilled! It cost him £5.99 from Amazon, but it is available from other places too including the Yankee Candle website - http://www.yankeecandle.co.uk/ and one of my favourite sites, Yankee Doodle - http://www.yankeedoodle.co.uk/

          One I had it, I couldn't wait to get it open and start burning! The product was well packaged in a simple brown, cardboard box and well wrapped up. It has a black, metal base with intricate legs holding the actual burner up. The pretty cream ceramic bowl is petal shaped and it really does look very pretty when all put together.

          So, the idea is that you put a normal unscented tealight on the black, metal base, and then place a Yankee Candle wax tart (in a scent of your choice) in the bowl. The tealight will melt the wax, gradually releasing the smell from the tart. It is really simple to use and it's so effective.

          Wax tarts are available from the websites I listed above, as well as Amazon and you can even buy them in places such as House of Fraser and Clintons Cards now. They usually cost around £1.20 each, or you can buy multipacks at a discounted rate. Personally, I prefer to buy the single tarts as I then get to try out many more different scents. There are hundreds of different flavours available, including fruity ones like Strawberry or Lemon, flowery ones like Jasmine or Beach Flowers, festive ones like Christmas Cookie as well as slightly more unusual ones like Beach Wood, Baby Powder or Fluffy Towels. My current favourite tart scent is Sicilian Lemon, it's such a fresh, zesty smell and it really travels through the house, making it smell amazing!

          The wax tarts are designed to last for around 8 hours each, although I'm pretty sure that mine last for a bit longer than this. The smell is more 'punchy' at the beginining but only begins to fade slightly towards the end of the burn time. You will be pleased to hear that you don't have to wait to a tart to have burned completely before changing fragrances. Once a tart has cooled and hardened, you can simply tap the bottom of the bowl and it will come out in tact. You can then keep that scent for later and use another one. I was a little sceptical when I first read this, but I can assure you that it works - I am now always swapping the tarts around!

          My husband even quite likes it as 'it's not a candle' and he has got involved with choosing scents, his favourite so far is 'Beach Wood'.

          Overall, I would thoroughly recommend this product. It keeps my home smelling of whatever I want it to smell of and even when not lit, it still looks really pretty and decorative. It's priced pretty low and I'm sure it will last, the only cost comes with the tealights and wax tarts. I have already recommended this product to friends and will continue to do so as I love it!

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          25.10.2012 21:54
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          Everyone should have this in their lives!

          Ok, so I have a drawer full of make up and have been trying to use up some of the many products that I have accumulated over the years. Amongst these were many mascaras; I have mainly lately been using up some Maybelline ones. I can't say that I have ever really found a great mascara to be honest. I have fairly short eyelashes and long for thick, long lashes but don't fancy wearing falsies!

          Once I'd used up my drawer full, I decided that I'd treat myself and headed down to Boots. If you don't really know what you are looking for, it can be a bit of a minefield as so many mascaras make such dramatic claims. I finally stumbled across Max Factor and decided that I would give one of theirs a go as I hadn't used them before. There were SO many to choose from, but I ended up settling upon the False Lash Effect Fusion as it claims to add both volume and length. I chose the product in black and it set me back a hefty £11.99. The packaging made it sound fab though, these were the claims that were made:

          False Lash Effect Fusion is the sister product to Max Factor's award-winning False Lash Effect. It fuses the brand's most celebrated and award winning IFX brush with an innovative fibre lengthening formula, which contains the nylon fibres found in real lash extensions along with lash plumping particles.
          The breakthrough result is up to 2x* the volume and length for 100% lash glamour. It's never been easier to create on-trend bold and glamorous eye looks.

          So it all sounded almost too good to be true. I got home and couldn't wait to try it out. The product comes in an attractive purple tubem with the Max Factor branding on a silver band and the product information writing also in silver. For the £11.99 pricetag, you get 13.1ml of product, which is fairly standard for a mascara. As I mentioned before, I don't have particularly long lashes so I always use eyelash curlers to try and give the impression of length. So I stuck to my routine and used the curlers before applying the Max Factor product. The lid screws off easily to reveal what looks like a pretty normal brush (mascara wands seem to come in all shapes and sizes these days!).

          The mascara goes on really easily and I honestly couldn't believe the results! I had long, beautiful lashes! It went on quite thinly so I wanted to add another layer before I was happy with the look, but I actually couldn't believe how well it had worked. My eyelashes looked stunning - long and lovely, but still natural.

          I use this mascara all the time as I am so thrilled with it. I can wear one coat for work during the day, and layer it up for a more dramatic effect in the evening. The mascara is long lasting and will survive a whole day at work and evening as well; but it still comes off easily at night as well.

          Overall, I would say that this mascara has been a real breakthrough to me and it's something that I can see myself buying again and again. Yes, it's not the cheapest mascara on the market, but it's the most effective one I have tried so far. Boots regularly do 3 for 2 offers on all make up, so this is something that I would try and purchase then to make it better value for money.

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          • Topshop Nails in Missile / Make Up / 46 Readings / 46 Ratings
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            23.10.2012 19:49
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            Love the colour but I just wouldn't buy this again.

            Ok, so me and Topshop don't particularly get on. I'm a curvy girl and always struggle to find anything that will fit me properly, so it's not a shop that I have ventured into for a number of years. I recently left a job, and was given £20 of Topshop vouchers, so thought I'd give it a go again. After a while of walking around, I soon realised that I was going to struggle to spend the vouchers on clothes, so headed to the accessories section. I fell in love with a cream bobble hat that was priced at £14, leaving me £6 to play with.

            I used to bite my nails, but now they are lovely and long. As a treat to myself, I now have a Sunday night ritual of painting my nails for the week ahead and have become slightly obsessed with buying nail varnishes. I never even realised that Topshop had their own range until this day, and I quickly made a beeline for the brightly coloured shelves. There were plenty to choose from, from bright colours to pastels and neutrals to crazy effect polishes. I ended up choosing a beautiful, pearlescent blue colour called 'Missile'. The varnish was priced at £6, which suited my voucher perfectly, but I did think it was a little pricey, especially as the bottle is only 8ml.

            So, the following Sunday evening I couldn't wait to try the colour out and see if it looked as nice on as it did in the bottle. The bottle itself is really cute, and I found myself attracted to the style instantly. It is a fairly small glass bottle, so the beautiful colour shows through, and the lid is tall and white with black spots that look as though they have been drawn on. It's really quirky and I think this makes it fit in well with the Topshop brand.

            As you would expect, upon twisting the lid open, the brush is revealed and is similar to the brush size in any other nail varnish. I would describe 'Missile' as a kind of royal blue with a reflective shimmer to it, it's not really like many other colours I have seen before. The colour looked stunning as I applied it and it went onto my nails very easily and smoothly. One coat didn't appear to be enough, but I usually do 2 anyway. Two coats looked fantastic, so I finished it off with clear and I was good to go. The colour is just AMAZING, I received so many comments on how lovely it looked. It's the sort of colour that just makes me want to spend all day looking at my fingers and admiring how beautiful they look!

            All good so far, until...the next day. Within a day the polish was chipped and it seemed to just come off incredibly easily and very frequently! I did a small amount of washing up, and was shocked to see that 3 of my nails were chipped afterwards. Most nail varnishes I wear manage to pretty much last a week without much noticeable damage. With this one, I found that I was touching it up almost daily as the chips were so obvious. This is a real shame as I find the colour and everything else about this product so perfect.

            Overall, I liked how easy the product was to apply, liked the appearance of the bottle and fell head over heels with the colour. Unfortunately, the things that let this nail varnish down are the size of the bottle and price. You can get a decent Rimmel, No7 or other good brand polish for around £6 and they come in a bigger bottle, so this is certainly not good value for money. And the biggest flaw I found was just how easy the polish chipped and came up and unfortunately, for me, chipping nail varnish is a deal breaker! Therefore I am only giving this product 2 stars.

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            • More +
              18.10.2012 21:15
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              Definitely stay here!

              I had to travel to Lincoln for work and, to be honest, didn't really want to go! Usually, I love staying away for work; but recently, I had done a lot of nights away and really just wanted to stay at home. However, I had been booked into the White Hart Hotel by my company and went along with it. I think our rooms had cost around £90 each for one night, although they were only booked the day before, so it may be cheaper to book in advance.

              I literally knew nothing about the hotel, and just turned up, arriving at around 7:30pm with a colleague. I had driven from Norwich and hadn't been to Lincoln before, so was impressed with my Sat Nav's ability to get me to the right place first time! The drive through Lincoln to the hotel was very impressive. It had just got dark and you could see the cathedral lit up against the night sky - beautiful! Then, we seemed to just keep driving towards it, and even went through a few stone arches before arriving on Bailgate, where the hotel is situated. Bailgate seems to be a very pleasant shopping street, right next to the cathedral, and the White Hart is situated towards the end of the road.

              There was a clearly marked sign for car parking, so I headed into the 'garage'. There were quite a few cars parked in here already, but luckily I have a small car so managed to squeeze in. We took our bits from the car and headed over the road to the hotel entrance.

              The hotel looks really nice from the outside, so I was initially pleasantly surprised. The entrance to the hotel was through a revolving door - something that I absolutely love! However, for my colleague with a broken wrist, it proved to be a bit of a tricky obstacle. We made our way through to the reception area, which consists of a love down desk and some comfy seats. After a long journey, we were thrilled to see these seats and made ourselves comfortable. The gentleman on reception was very helpful and talked us through everything we needed to know, pointing us in the direction of both our rooms, and the restaurant.

              As I mentioned, it had been a long trip, so we wanted to unpack and get changed before heading down for dinner. I was given my key (yes, a proper key - there's no cards to get you into a room here). I was in Room 101, all of the rooms also had a name written under their number, I'm not really sure what this was meant to signify, and to be honest, I found it a little weird! On entering my room, I was confused - there was a little entrance lobby with one door to the left and one to the right. I soon realised that this must be rooms 101 and 102 and they can become interconnecting rooms. Luckily for me, the door to the right was secured with a bolt!!! I proceeded through the left hand door and think I actually gasped in amazement.

              My previous experience of 'work' hotels is that you get what you are given and are grateful if it's a Holiday Inn or similar. This was in a different league entirely. The first thing I noticed was the INCREDIBLY high ceilings, the massive bed and the huge window. The room was very regal, and just stunning to look at. There was a old fashioned wooden wardrobe full of hangers, a dressing table with the tea and coffee making facilites and there were even 2 complimentary bottles of water on the bedside table. The bed is one of the biggest I have ever seen and the covers were deliciously opulent and inviting. There was another table with 2 chairs infront of a truly massive window. It was almost floor to ceiling and covering one whole wall of the hotel room - my view was on to Bailgate which is a delightful area. I believe that the rooms on the other side of the hotel have a view of the cathedral, which must be stunning. There was a chest of drawers with a flatscreen TV on it, which had all of the Freeview channels. The bathroom was large and contained a bath over a shower but I loved that there were plenty of hand creams, body washes, shampoos and shower gels - it seems so common to have them in dispensers now, it was a lovely treat to have the little bottles.

              I got changed and met my colleague downstairs before heading to the bar. The restaurant was a decent size and there were quite a few customers eating in there when we arrived, which must have been about 8:30pm. We were shown to our table and brought menus and a basket of complimentary bread accompanied by tapenade and balsamic vinegar dips. This was a lovely surprise and we were thrilled as we were pretty hungry by now! We each ordered a glass of wine and decided to opt for a full 3 courses (well, sometimes you have to make the most of your food being paid for!). For our starters, my colleague had the carrot and corriander soup, which she said was really lovely; I opted for the 'Mussel, parsley and tomato risotto' which was delicious. It isn't something that I would usually choose and I was so pleased that I went for it.
              For my main course I decided to go for the 9oz rump steak (my husband doesn't eat steak so I don't have it at home). I ordered this with a blue cheese sauce and it came with chunky, hand-cut chips and a traditional garnish. Unfortunately, I asked for the steak to be medium - well done, but when it came I could still see bits of blood. It wasn't the end of the world, so I carried on eating it, it just wasn't quite what I had asked for. The more I tried to enjoy the steak, the less I did. It was full of fat and so chewy that I just couldn't eat it in the end - I ended up leaving over half of it. The chips were delicious, as was the blue cheese sauce, but the steak was very disappointing. My colleague is a vegetarian and went for the mushroom gnocci, which looked delicious and she assures me it was.
              We both opted for a selection of ice creams and sorbets for dessert and were able to choose 3 from a fairly large selection. I chose vanilla ice cream with mango and blackcurrant sorbets - incredible! The flavours were out of this world and I could have eaten more of it. Unfortunately the caramel biscuits that were served with it weren't up to much and tasted a bit like a soggy wafer, but the ice cream and sorbet more than made up for this. AMAZING!
              The food in the restaurant was an average price - my 3 course meal came to around £25 and my colleague's came to £16. We both had a small glass of house wine, which were priced at about £3.80 each. Neither of us felt that this was bad atall as the quality of the food had been fantastic (apart from my steak).

              We were both feeling pretty full by now, so simply headed up to our rooms and said goodnight. I had a shower, which was lovely and powerful and thoroughly enjoyed pampering myself using the many lotions and potions available to me. Then made myself a well earned cuppa before sinking into bed to watch TV for a bit. I don't usually sleep well when I'm away from home, but I had a wonderful night's sleep here! The bed was fantastically comfortable - normally nothing comes close to my memory foam mattress that I have at home - but this really did!

              The next morning we headed back to the same restaurant for breakfast; we were shown to a nice table and had it explained to us. We were on Bed and Breakfast, so anything was included - RESULT (or it would have been if I wasn't so full from the night before!). There was a wonderful array of food in a buffet style in the middle of the room - cereals, fruit, pastries and juices, and then there was a menu to order from. I quickly ordered a coffee and we ordered some toast to share. I then decided on Eggs Benedict, whilst my veggie colleague had a more tricky decision to make as there weren't many choices. Upon asking the waitress we learned that there were no veggie sausages, but that the chef would be able to make an omlette - great. They were also accommodating when she asked for soya milk with her tea. The breakfast was delicious and I wish I could have eaten more, but there's only so much my stomach can take!!!

              We went back to our rooms and packed up before checking out. I found the reception staff to be exceptionally helpful every time we spoke to them, they simply couldn't do enough to help us. Upon checking out, you get a code to let you out of the car park, which seems to work really well. Free parking at a city centre hotel is such a bonus and seems to be very rare, but it really did make our stay a lot easier.

              Overall, I would thoroughly recommend this hotel. It seems to have a wonderful location to explore the city of Lincoln and the rooms are just stunning. The friendly staff and lovely food really help to make this a truly wonderful hotel, and one that far exceeded my expectations. Infact, I am thinking of returning for a leisure trip with my hubby as Lincoln looks like somewhere I would like to explore.

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              • iDuck Speaker / Speaker / 42 Readings / 41 Ratings
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                16.10.2012 12:09
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                Great idea, but doesn't work great for me!

                So, I love my music, and always want it playing - even when I'm in the shower or bath. I used to take my phone into the bathroom and play my music through that, but hubby stepped in and said that it could cause damage to my phone by moisture getting in. I was searching through Amazon a while ago and came across the iDuck, which seemed to offer a fun solution to my bathtime problem, so I went ahead and purchased it for around £15.

                The iDuck comes well packaged in a bit of a cheap looking box (ie. looks like the sort of box you might make for a prototype product at school!). I was really looking forward to using it, when I discovered that you actually needed 5 AAA batteries to get it up and running. We didn't have this many at home, so I had to wait before I could try it out. It comes with a sheet of instructions which are clear and easy to follow - thank goodness, as I'm not exactly a whizz when it comes to technology!

                First of all, I'll explain how it works. There is a white, egg shaped transmitter (which take 3 x AAA batteries), and this is what you plug your ipod/MP3 player/phone into. The connector just goes into the socket where the headphone jack would usually go, meaning that it can be used with a wide variety of devices.

                You also get the pretty cheap and nasty looking (but surprisingly cute) duck, which takes 2 x AAA batteries. This has the look of a typical yellow, rubber duck and claims to be completely waterproof. The duck has a selection of buttons on his back and also a speaker in the back of his head. It's quite nicely designed, in that from the front, you can't actually see the buttons or the speakers and it just looks like a normal rubber duck.

                So, how it works is that you plug your music device into the 'egg' and turn on the transmitter (I have forgotten to do this several times). The 'duck' speaker is turned on by sliding across the waterproof button - it can either be moved right to select 'Audio', which means that it will connect to your music device. Or it can be moved left to select 'FM', which uses the radio function that I will mention later on. The idea is that you press the 'Reset' button at the beginning and then press the 'Scan' button until you can hear your music clearly. The 'Scan' button searches for the audio signal and should be pressed when you can just hear noise instead of music, or if you can hear music accompanied with noise. Apparently this means that the frequency of the receiver is different to the frequency of the transmitter. If you lose signal whilst listening to music, you should press the 'Reset' button and then scan again.

                As mentioned, the device also has the ability to pick up FM radio. This can be done by moving the button to 'FM' and then tuning in the same way as for the music device. Pressing 'Scan' will simply move from one radio station to another. A downside is that there is no real volume control, you can choose from either 'Hi' or 'Lo' meaning it's either pretty loud, or pretty quiet! I'm sure that this is done for ease when ensuring it's waterproof, but it's a little annoying.

                Finally, I put all of the batteries in the 'duck' and 'egg' and couldn't wait to get started. The instructions claim that the device has a range of 10 metres, but I didn't go anywhere near that far away. I plugged my ipod into the 'egg' and chose the album that I wanted to listen to. I tried it out in the hallway and it seemed to work really well. However, on taking the 'duck' into the bathroom, the signal just seemed to get a lot worse. I would say that this was only 2-3 metres away from the transmitters, so I'm not sure why it went so fuzzy. I kept pressing the buttons in the hope that I could get it to sound a bit clearer, or at least so I could hear the music. I managed to get it a bit better, and had my shower with a distinctly fuzzy soundtrack. I was really disappointed as I had so been looking forward to singing along in my shower!

                Since then, I have used it a few times and the same thing seems to happen each time, which is a little annoying. However, I have used it elsewhere and it seems to be fine, so not sure whether it's a product fault or just something to do with my bathroom! The radio function is quite good on it, but I have the same problem when using it in my bathroom.

                I know that the sound will always be a little muffled as the speaker has to be waterproofed and I appreciate that, but I hate that I don't get anywhere near the sound quality that I would expect.

                Overall, I think that this is a great idea for a product, although it looks as though it may have been made on the cheap! Unfortunately, for me, it just doesn't do what I want it to do very well. I would still give it 3 stars as I'm unsure whether the product is at fault, or the bad signal in my house.

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                  07.10.2012 20:52
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                  Would recommend.

                  During a recent trip to London, my husband and I were around the Leicester Square/Picadilly Circus area when we decided to look for somewhere to eat. We are both incredibly indecisive, so this was bound to take a while, especially with the amount of eateries there are in these areas. We eventually decided on Chinese and headed to Chinatown.

                  We spent a while walking around, checking out the various menus and seeing what we fancied. I really liked the idea of doing some kind of set menu so we would get to try some different dishes, so this was what we looked out for. We ended up coming across the 'Top of the Town' on Gerrard Street, which looked really nice. The menus looked really nice, and they had a great set menu option as well, so we decided to give it a go.
                  We were greeted on our way in by a very friendly Chinese lady, she took us in and showed us to a table. The first thing I noticed was the PINK! It was everywhere! The tables had pale pink tablecloths, there were pink napkins, pink chair covers - it looked as though we had walked into Barbie's house and we wondered what on earth we had let ourselves in for.

                  We were quickly approached by a waitress, wearing a pink uniform (honestly!), and were given the menus. We each ordered a bottle of Apple Bulmers, which were priced at £4.30 each, a little pricey but the bottles are quite large. We had decided on one of the set menus, but it included a main course dish that neither of us liked, so we asked if we could change it for something else. The waitress said that this wouldn't be a problem atall and we were encouraged to choose anything else we fancied from the menu - great. The menu was pretty extensive, there really was something for everyone!
                  So, the set menu we chose was prices at £15 per person, and this included: Prawn crackers, duck pancakes, 4 main course dishes (BBQ pork, sweet & sour chicken, beef in black bean sauce and mixed vegetables) and then egg fried rice. We thought this was excellent value for money so went ahead and ordered - just swapping the beef in black bean sauce for satay chicken.

                  We didn't have to wait long before our prawn crackers arrived; they came in a fairly large basket and we had so many that they lasted us for the entire meal. About 5 minutes later, we saw the waitress heading over with our duck. We were given a kind of wicker pot which contained the pancakes (there were about 8 pancakes so we had plenty each), we also had the sliced vegetables (cucumber and onion I think) as well as the Hoi Sin sauce. The duck was on the bone when it was brought over and the waitress had a knife and shredded it infront of us, which I thought was a really nice touch and made me feel as though it really was fresh. The duck was absolutely delicious and we quickly devoured our large number of pancakes.
                  We were a little confused on receiving our main courses as we appeared to have too many. We had the BBQ pork, sweet & sour chicken, mixed vegetables and satay chicken as expected, but we also ended up with crispy chilli beef. Now I'm not complaining as I LOVE crispy chilli beef, and we ate it all, but we weren't sure how it came to end up on our table. All of the food was really tasty and we were honestly very impressed with everything we ate.

                  There were quite a few people in the restaurant and all of the food that we saw looked amazing. The majority of the customers were Chinese, which I take as being a good sign as I'm sure they wouldn't choose to eat bad Chinese food! I really liked that the kitchen was quite open at one side of the restaurant, meaning that you could see into it. I always think it's good when you can see into the kitchen as I'm sure they wouldn't let you see if it was bad.
                  We found the waiting staff to be very friendly, and the service was pretty quick. The restaurant may not have the best décor, but it was very clean and that's the most important thing to me.

                  Our bill came to £38.60 for the set meal and the 2 drinks, which I found to be very reasonable. Especially when you consider the sheer amount of food that we had for this amount of money (we didn't get charged extra for the chilli beef either - result!).
                  I would recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for a nice Chinese meal out in London. There are so many restaurants in Chinatown that it's near impossible to know which one to choose. On this occasion we chose well and would happily return to the Top of the Town again.

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                  04.10.2012 00:43
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                  A nice hotel, but lacking in a few areas.

                  I was booked into this hotel through work as I had to attend a 3 day training course. I had expected to be booked into a 3* hotel in central Birmingham so was pleasantly surprised to learn that I had 3 nights in the 4* Best Western Windmill Village.

                  I drove up from Norwich after work and knew that the hotel was on a dual carriageway. The sat nav found the road for me, and then I was stuck AND it was dark! I spotted the hotel eventually, on the other side of the dual carriageway - how incredibly frustrating. I had to continue driving for about 5 minutes down the dual carriageway until I could turn around and return to the hotel.
                  I finally arrived and couldn't wait to get checked in! I was dark when I got there so I can't comment on what my first impressions were, all I was saw was the large car park attached to the hotel that is free for guests. As I was travelling for work, I was fully laden and had a wheelie suitcase, my wheelie laptop case as well as my handbag and a carrier bag. It seems that you cannot access the hotel from the side where the car park is, meaning that I had to walk around to the front. This was a little frustrating as I was tired and cold and just wanted to get there. It was also a pretty uneven surface, meaning that my case and laptop bag took a bit of a battering and I struggled a bit.

                  When I entered the hotel, I received a warm welcome from the friendly receptionist. The reception area was nice and bright, I could see a nice, public area with comfy sofas. I was given my room card to room 308 and headed off. There was a lift as well as stairs (phew!), so I took this and came out right near my room. My first impressions were that the room was a bit dated, but looking back, maybe I was being a little harsh. I had just come back from a weekend in a modern hotel in London and think it was a direct comparison! The carpet was a hideous mustard colour with a blue pattern on it and the furniture was a little dated, but it was fine. The room had the biggest bed I have ever seen and had a proper wardrobe, table and chair, writing desk and sideboard. There was also a TV unit with a flatscreen LG TV - this had all Freeview channels on it.
                  The room had tea and coffee making facilities, which was great, but I was a little disappointed that there was no fridge. I had brought a bottle of wine with me (to save money) and ended up having nowhere to keep it cool. Most importantly though, the room was very clean.

                  The bathroom was a good size and had a bath with a shower over it. I also REALLY liked that there were miniature bottles of shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and body lotion. I went to use the toilet and there was something sitting in the bottom of the toilet (not what you're thinking, but not sure what it was!). I flushed the toilet and it went, but it was just a shame that I had to get rid of it!
                  The room was always cleaned when I got back from my training and the bed had been made. However, I used one of the glasses on my first night and found that the next day, it hadn't been replaced with a clean one. I tried to leave the glass in a more prominent position; however, even after leaving it out for a second day, it still wasn't replaced. As I wanted to use the glass on my third night, I ended up having to wash it up myself which I thought was a bit bad for a 4* hotel!

                  It is possible to get free WiFi in hotel rooms. You just need to get a code from reception and it is possible to access the internet free for up to 24 hours. If you are staying longer and need more internet use, you can just pick up more codes from reception - I ended up with 3 different codes and had free internet for 3 days - brilliant!
                  It had been dark when I arrived, so when I woke up the next morning I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had a view from my window over the golf course. I'm not especially keen on golf, but it was so nice to look out and just see green and not a car park or a wall!

                  Breakfast is served from 6:30am until 9:30am in the Fairways restaurant again. I was greeted by the friendly waitress from the night before and taken to a table overlooking the golf course and brought a coffee. There was a good selection on the buffet - typical fried breakfast, pastries, fruit, yoghurts, cereals and toast. I had a fry up and it was fairly average, pretty much what you would expect from a hotel breakfast. The only downside was that I wasn't given a teaspoon with my coffee, so had to stir it with a knife!!!
                  Breakfast on my second day was ok, although the waitress was clearly more interested in the business men in suits than me. She took one look at me and dismissively sent me off to find my own table. Most of the tables had been used and not yet cleaned, so I managed to find a table for 4, which had one remaining place setting. Today, I wasn't offered a tea or coffee until I was about to leave. I politely told the waitress that it was a little late for coffee and left - not a great experience.

                  I was on a dinner, bed and breakfast rate, so on my first night, I made my way to the Fairways restaurant for something to eat. I was greeted by 2 young girls and instantly felt uncomfortable - one of the girls was lovely, but the other looked at me as if to say 'you're here on your own?'! I was taken to a table and sat down and ordered a diet coke. The restaurant was fairly large and I guessed that they serve the breakfast for there as part of it was set up for a buffet. One thing I noticed was that there was no music in the restaurant; I found this a little uncomfortable as I was seated near a large, noisy table and could hear everything they were saying. We are usually allowed to claim up to £20 per dinner on work expenses and I soon realised that this would make things very difficult. The food all sounded lovely, but the average price for a starter was £6-7, the cheapest main was £12.95 with the most expensive being £18.95 and desserts were £6-7. I resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn't be having 3 course meals on this work trip and ordered the sea bass (£15.95). It was typical of a 'posh' restaurant and the food came all stacked up in the middle of the plate with a few carefully placed dollops of sauce around the edge. It was very tasty, but there wasn't a lot of it unfortunately! On my way out of the restaurant, I asked one of the girls what was actually included on my dinner, bed & breakfast rate and she told me that I am entitled to a 3 course meal. I didn't feel as though I could go and sit back down and demand my starter and dessert so I chalked it up to experience and thought I would treat myself the next night!
                  The following evening for dinner, I joined a table of 3 colleagues who had just ordered. The restaurant manager seemed to be incredibly stressed out; although I didn't think that the restaurant was overly busy. I had to get up and order at the desk as I was left waiting for quite a while. I ordered a glass of water, which I never received - very frustrating. I ordered vegetarian enchiladas which were nice, although it was really annoying that I didn't have a drink to wash it down with. We finished our meals and asked for the bill - the manager asked if we could go over to the desk to sort out the bills as he was getting in a muddle. This was a little annoying, and it seemed that the service really slipped as he was so stressed.

                  Dinner on the third night was a fantastic experience. A colleague and I had a starter and a main course, the restaurant was a little quieter and we received excellent service. The food, as usual, was to such a high standard and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
                  One of the things I was most excited about with this hotel was that it had a swimming pool, steam room, sauna and jacuzzi. There was also a gym and 18 hole golf course, but these weren't quite so appealing! I went down to the swimming pool, signed in and got my towel. The changing room was quite spacious and was nice and clean; I put my things in the large lockers and went into the pool area. The first thing I spotted was the showers, there was a pad on the wall and you had to wave your hand infront of it to make them work - amazing! The swimming pool was nice and everything was very clean; unfortunately there were quite a few people there when I went and there wasn't really space for everyone to do lengths (there is probably space for 4 or 5 people to do lengths at a time). The jacuzzi isn't really a proper jacuzzi, it is joined on to the swimming pool so uses the same water. It has seats around the outside and does bubble up, but because it isn't particularly warm, it just doesn't have the same impact as I was hoping for. The steam room and sauna were both lovely - both rooms were fairly large and had fairy lights in the ceiling which I loved! Both served their purpose perfectly and I left the swimming pool feeling incredibly chilled out and relaxed.

                  I was here for a 3 day training course, so I got to experience the conference facilities. We were only a small group of 7, so were in the Blenheim Room which was the perfect size. The staff were incredibly attentive and brought in fresh tea, coffee and biscuits 4 times during the day, which was a god send! We had lunch in the restaurant and were assigned a table; it was a buffet style lunch with a salad bar for the starters, either beef stew or salmon for the main and then a very rich chocolate cake for dessert. The only downside to the location of our room was that it was a long walk to the toilets (about a 5 minute walk if you don't get lost). Overall, I found the conference facilities to be very good. There were a lot of rooms available and almost all of them were in use while I was there, so it's obviously a popular venue.
                  My room was initially booked on a bed and breakfast rate of £85 per night. This seemed to be fairly standard for hotels in this area and I think that it was pretty reasonable considering that you could use the golf and leisure facilities within this. It cost £20 per day to upgrade to dinner, bed & breakfast which could include a 3 course meal a day - this is definitely worth doing if you are planning to eat this as a 3 course meal is likely to come in at just under £30!

                  I found it really bizarre that some aspects of the hotel really lived up to the 4* standards - eg. the food, the location, the leisure facilities etc. But some aspects were really lacking from a 4* hotel - eg. the service sometimes, the standards of cleaning the room, the lack of a fridge in the room. Overall, I have given this hotel 4 stars as I had a good stay and enjoyed myself. But some areas were not quite up to the standard that I would have expected from this hotel.

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                    02.10.2012 23:54
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                    AMAZING

                    My husband and I were in London recently and were wandering around Covent Garden trying to find somewhere nice to eat. There is an abundance of restaurants in the Covent Garden area, and for someone as indecisive as me, it's a nightmare to choose where we should eat!

                    We decided that we didn't fancy eating at a chain that we could eat in at home, and ended up on Maiden Lane. There were a number of places to eat on this road, but 'Fire & Stone' caught my eye. We went over and had a look at the menu, it looked good to us so we decided to go in.

                    We received a warm and friendly welcome from a lady who was on a desk at the front of the restaurant, greeting customers. It was a Saturday night and they were obviously busy, we explained that we hadn't booked and they were able to fit us in. We were taken downstairs to a large seating area and shown to our table. The restaurant was really nice, contemporary and open plan, we could see into the kitchen from our table, which is always a good sign, and it was great that they had made a feature out of the large, stone pizza oven.

                    Our waitress soon came over and took our drinks order. I ordered a 'strawberry diablo' - I had to ask what this was and she informed me that it was a sort of homemade strawberry cordial, mixed with lemonade - my husband ordered an orange juice. His was £2.50 and mine was £2.95 - it was absolutely delicious though, and worth every penny. There was a good selection of drinks on the menu, including a large selection of cocktails as well as wines, beers and soft drinks.

                    We decided not to go for any starters as there wasn't a HUGE choice and we wanted to get stuck into the pizza! There are 17 pizzas on the menu, each one defined by a particular city and arranged by continent. I really loved this idea and found it to be original and fun. There are pastas and salads on the menu as well, but the main draw of the restaurant is the pizza, so these take up the majority of the menu. After a lot of deliberating, my husband went for a 'London' which consisted of toppings of: Cumberland sausage, streaky bacon, chunks of roast potato with free range egg and roasted field mushrooms. I went for a 'Montego Bay' which was a BBQ base topped with: marinated jerk chicken, red onion, mozzarella and jalapenos and accompanied by a mango salsa.

                    The food came out pretty quickly and was really well presented, looking very tasty indeed. I can happily report that our first impressions were correct - YUM! Hubby really liked his London pizza, although personally, I found it a little odd having a fried breakfast on a pizza - my brain couldn't quite figure it out. However, my Montego Bay was probably the best pizza I have ever tasted. The base was a perfect thickness and the toppings were delicious. I really liked that I could balance out the temperature of the jalapenos with the coolness of the mango salsa. We both devoured our pizzas in full, and agreed that Fire & Stone had been a great choice for dinner.

                    Our plates were quickly cleared and we were brought dessert and coffee menus. We both ordered the waffle, which came with chocolate and vanilla ice cream and they came out after about 10 minutes. The waffles were very tasty and the ice cream was amazing. The vanilla was nice, but the chocolate ice cream had chocolate chip chunks in it, which was a wonderful surprise!

                    We asked for our bill and were both really impressed with how reasonable the meal was. Our pizzas were £9.45 and £9.95 and the desserts were £4.95 each. The whole bill came to around £39, which also included an optional 12.5% tip. We decided that we were happy to pay the tip as the staff had been very attentive and helpful and the overall service was excellent. We left will full stomachs and big smiles on our faces, and with the intention of looking on the website to see if there was a branch of Fire & Stone near our home town. We did look on the website, and sadly there isn't.

                    Overall, I would give this restaurant 5 stars. It was everything we had been looking for from a restaurant, it was incredibly good value for central London and the food and service were excellent - what more could you ask for?

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                      01.10.2012 23:48
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                      A lovely, lovely hotel

                      My partner and I were looking for a London hotel for a recent trip we had planned to see the Beach Boys at Wembley Arena. I did a lot of internet searching and was struggling to find something fairly reasonable for 2 nights away (we would usually be happy with a Premier Inn/Travelodge, but even these were around £80 per night!). I ended up going on Expedia and finding a 'Secret Hotel' deal. This is where they give you a little information on the hotel, but don't tell you the name; you are then able to book it for a reduced rate and once booked, they email you with the name of the hotel.

                      So, we booked the 'Secret Hotel' based on the description of: '4* hotel in the Ealing/Brentford area'. It was a total of £108.37 for a Friday and Saturday night in September which seemed to be a great deal. Once booked, we were told that we would be staying in the Holiday Inn Brentford Lock. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed as, after a quick look on the website, I learned that the hotel was 1.5 miles away from the nearest tube stop. This was bad news as we had a whole weekend planned which was likely to involve nipping in and out of central London. Oh well, we decided that we would see what happened when we got there!

                      A few weeks before our break, I emailed the hotel to say that my husband and I would be coming for both of our birthdays. I asked whether we could have a room that overlooked the canal, as I knew that some of the rooms did and thought it would be nice. I received a prompt, polite email back saying that the request would be added to my booking, but that there were no promises.

                      On the Friday, we travelled down from Norwich to London (3 hours by coach), and then got the tube from Victoria to Boston Manor. This wasn't too bad a journey as we only had to change once - it took about 30 minutes. Boston Manor is the closest tube station to the Holiday Inn and is located on the Picadilly Line. On arrival at Boston Manor, we were unsure how to get to the hotel, so ended up taking a taxi; this was easy as there was a minicab firm right outside the tube station. It cost us £10 to complete the 1.5 mile journey to the hotel, which we thought was a bit pricey as we would have to do it a lot over the weekend.

                      On arrival at the hotel we received a very warm welcome. The lady on reception was incredibly polite, friendly and welcoming - everything you would expect from a 4* hotel. She gave us all of the information that we needed to know and told us that we would be in room 420. We made our way to the lift, which had a sort of mirrored glass panel to the outside, so you could see the road by the hotel - it certainly made the lift ride more interesting!

                      We opened our door and breathed a huge sigh of relief - it was perfect. We had a fairly large room (very big by London standards) which contained a double bed, long sideboard, table and chairs, wardrobe area, mini-bar and tea and coffee making facilities. We were absolutely thrilled to see that my request had been granted and that we had a room with a view of the canal - it really was a nice view, and not something that you usually get in London. There was an LG flatscreen TV to the delight of my husband with all of the Freeview channels. The bed was incredibly bouncy and comfortable, and there was a pillow menu (although we both stuck with the ones we were given, it was nice to have the option).

                      The bathroom was a good size with plenty of space around the sink for my plethora of toiletries! There was a good sized bath with a shower over it, and there was a Lux shampoo/shower gel in a dispenser in the bath. There was also a Dove soap dispenser on the wall by the sink - great for if you forgot this for yourself and I also much prefer this to a bar of soap. During our stay, I had both and shower and a bath and can honestly say that it was a really lovely bathroom. The whole room was spotless - a HUGE plus as I think there's nothing worse than a dirty bedroom/bathroom.

                      When we headed out of the hotel, we asked at reception whether we could get a bus into central London as we didn't fancy paying £10 a time for the taxi. The lady on reception was really helpful and said it would probably take us all day to get into London by bus, but said that we could get the bus to the tube station - RESULT! We soon worked out that the bus to the tube stop, would pick us up from just outside the hotel and drop us right at the tube stop. This journey took around 10 minutes and the buses were really regular. They go from 5am to 1am and come every 6-10 minutes - amazing! The bus costs just £1.35 with an Oyster Card or can count if you have a day ticket for the tube. This E8 service was a fantastic revelation for us and probably saved us about £60 over the whole weekend. There is car parking available at the hotel (I believe it's an underground car park) and I think it costs around £12 a day.

                      There was a 'mini gym' in the hotel, which we did mean to go and have a look at, but never got around to it! On the website, it also says that there are activities on the canal that you can take part in - when we arrived, people were paddle boarding which looked like great fun!

                      We didn't eat in the hotel as we were out and about most of the time, but the restaurant did look really nice and overlooked the canal. Breakfast wasn't included in our 'Secret Hotel' rate, and we thought that £14 was a bit pricey, so we didn't try that out either. I think this price is fairly standard for a London hotel, but we just couldn't justify paying it.

                      The hotel is in walking distance of a couple of pubs and restaurants as well as some shops on Brentford High Street - again, something we didn't do, but passed them on the bus. The hotel is well located for Heathrow and Kew Gardens, but is a fair distance by bus and then tube to central London (about 40 minutes by tube to Leicester Square for example).

                      Overall, I would say that this hotel is fantastic quality and well deserving of it's 4* label. However, I'm not sure I would pay full price for it - on arrival they were advertising rooms for £299 a night - eek! For what we paid, it was a real bargain, but the hotel is a fair distance from central London so it does take some careful planning if you have an action packed schedule like we did. The staff were very friendly and the room was fantastic, I would happily recommend this hotel.

                      For more information, visit the hotel's website: http://www.holidayinnbrentford.co.uk/

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                      24.09.2012 09:39
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                      A nice hotel, but be aware of the location!

                      I stayed at this hotel in February 2011 for work; I was attending a conference at the ICC in Birmingham and had this hotel booked for me. There were a number of us travelling up from Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire and we were all booked into the Jury's Inn hotel.

                      We had a fairly traumatic journey, as Birmingham city centre is a bit of a nightmare to navigate around. Even with the sat nav, we still managed to get lost several times before finally finding the hotel. Upon finding the hotel, the next difficulty came when we tried to find somewhere to park. We eventually came across the car park that is slightly behind the hotel and is payable separately.

                      Once parked, we made our way into the hotel and were all pleasantly surprised. I worked for a regional charity at the time, and 'posh hotels' were not normally within our price range! The reception area was very bright, open and welcoming - it looked more like a 4/5* hotel - needless to say, we were thrilled. The reception area is at the front of the hotel and raised up, easily accessed by going up a few steps (although I'm not sure what I would have done if I had been travelling with someone in a wheelchair!). I found the reception staff to be fairly friendly and helpful and we were soon all sent off to our various rooms. One thing I found a little odd was that there were about 10 of us, booked as a group booking, but all of our rooms were on different floors. It didn't really bother me, I just thought it was a bit of a strange thing to do!

                      So, I got the lift up to my room on the 9th floor. Unfortunately, the rest of the hotel isn't as plush as the reception area, but it was perfectly adequate. My room was pretty large (it was only me), with 2 double beds, a desk and chair, wardrobe and plenty of space inbetween! The bathroom was average, but I guess it was as expected for a 3* hotel in a city centre.

                      We were due to meet downstairs to go back to the ICC for a dinner in a couple of hours, so I unpacked a little and started to get ready. There were tea and coffee making facilities (a godsend), so I put the TV on and relaxed. I had a shower and was a little disappointed to find that they don't seem to do the little toiletries anymore. They have the shampoo and shower gel in dispensers on the wall in the shower - I guess they were losing money by providing them, and I've known plenty of other hotels to do this now (a shame though as I loved the little ones). The shower was absolutely fine and within a couple of hours, I was back down in reception to meet my colleagues.

                      The hotel is really well situated for a trip to the ICC, it is only about 10 minutes walk. This walk will take you right by the canal, which is surrounded by bars and restaurants and really looks like a nice area. Unfortunately, the walk back to the hotel after the dinner was not so impressive. The road that the Jury's Inn is on is a little scary to say the least! It's full of rowdy bars and even a couple of strip clubs (with one of these being right beside the hotel). This wouldn't normally bother me that much, but you really couldn't avoid it. I was walking back with a much older colleague and we were constantly being harassed into going into one of the bars - which we CLEARLY weren't going to do. Once back in the hotel, I quickly got in the lift and hurried back to the safety of my bedroom. The bed was fairly comfy and I managed to get a good night's sleep - luckily I wasn't near the main road to be able to hear any of the noise, but I'm not sure if all rooms were this quiet.

                      The following day, we met up for breakfast. This was included in our room rate and I was certainly grateful for this! The restaurant area was not far from reception and, again, was very bright and open. There was a lot of choice for breakfast, including your traditional fry up, pasties, toast and condiments and fruit. There was tea and coffee available as well as a selection of fruit juices. Everything I tried (which I think was pretty much everything), was really tasty!

                      I asked colleagues how they found it and everyone seemed to have nothing but praise for the hotel, although it seems that some had rooms with 2 double beds and some had rooms with 1 double bed - although we had all booked and paid for the same.

                      I have had a look on the Jury's Inn website and you can get a room from around £60 per night, this is fairly good value for a city centre hotel.

                      Overall, I would recommend this hotel. It was perfectly located for the ICC, but I certainly wouldn't feel comfortable coming here if I had a young family as it isn't in the safest location. The rooms were large and adequate for a 3* hotel, and the breakfast was really nice with a large selection. I am giving this hotel 3stars (with a couple taken off for the slightly dodgy location).

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                      • Nails inc. Jermyn Street / Make Up / 37 Readings / 35 Ratings
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                        19.09.2012 17:54
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                        Worth the investment.

                        I received this nail varnish a while ago. It was a birthday present and came in a set of 4 beautiful varnishes. I love painting my nails and was thrilled to have received this as a gift, particularly as I know that Nails Inc have a great reputation and are a little on the pricey side.

                        So, the product I am reviewing is a full size 10ml bottle. It is, as per the photo, a clear bottle which shows through the lovely colour of the 'Jermyn Street' varnish and the top half is a chunky silver coloured lid. I find the Nails Inc bottles very attractive and am getting quite a collection now!

                        Jermyn Street is a kind of taupe/mushroom colour, and I have to admit, I wasn't convinced by it at first. I used all of the other shades that came in my set, leaving trying this one out until last. It's not that I didn't like it, it's just very different to my usual pinks, corals and purples that I normally wear.

                        The lid simply unscrews to reveal a brush attached to the centre of the lid, which is the perfect size for applying this product. As with all Nails Inc varnishes, it goes on very easily - I do always wear a base layer of clear, which helps as well. I used 2 coats as it's quite a pale colour and I really wanted to ensure it lasted. I finished off with another coat of clear and I was ready to go.

                        It dried relatively quickly and doesn't smell any more than any other normal kind of nail varnish. The end result was beautiful and I was amazed at just how much I loved the colour. I found that as it was a kind of 'nude' colour, it made my fingers look longer and just looked stunning on. I had so many compliments when I wore this nail varnish, everyone was asking me what it was. I found that I couldn't stop looking at my nails as it was just so lovely!

                        The varnish lasted well and I managed to get a week's wear out of it without too much damage atall. It lasted a lot better than most of my other, cheaper products.

                        I have just had a look on the Debenhams website at the prices and I believe that the pack of 4 I got was priced at £25. Individual pots of polish are £11 each. This is much more than I would usually choose to spend on a nail varnish, although they do last really well and have a fantastic range of colours. After lots of experience of nail varnishes, I can easily say that it is clear to see Nails Inc are worth the extra that they cost as the quality shows. I have recently learned that TK Maxx sometimes sell Nails Inc polishes, so it may be worth checking as you could get a bargain.

                        Overall, I would thoroughly recommend Nails Inc in general, and Jermyn Street more specifically. It's a lovely coloured polish which is of great quality. A little pricey, but worth the investment to have a few colours to treat yourself every now and again. Or you could always ask for it for a birthday pressie...

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                        • More +
                          06.09.2012 21:06
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                          Worth a visit if you can ignore the bad service.

                          I love going out for meals and will happily eat all cuisines - my favourites are Thai and Indian, but I'm happy enough with Italian. I've been to this restaurant several times in the past and have always had a good experience, so was happy to recommend it for a recent birthday meal out for a friend.

                          There were 6 of us, and we had pre-booked for dinner on a Saturday evening. 2 of us arrived first and were greeted by a rather rude waiter, who showed us to a sofa and gave us menus. The others arrived shortly after and we were taken to our table. The restaurant itself is really nice inside, with lots of little Italian touches of decor. There are quite a lot of tables, some are located upstairs but on this occasion, we were sat downstairs. Our table would have been fine, but one of the group's chair seemed to be right in the pathway of the waiting staff and his chair got bumped into every time someone walked past - with no apology.

                          The menu is pretty big and there is always plenty of choice here. There is a good range of starters and the main courses are endless - pizza, calzone, pasta, risotto, salad and even burgers or fishcakes. We ordered our drinks whilst still trying to make a decision on our food. Two of our party ordered a bottle of Perroni and I noticed that there were two sizes available on the menu and they weren't asked which they would like. When our drinks arrived, I saw that they had just brought over the biggest bottles (which aren't cheap at £6 a time!) - one of the recipients of this drink was driving too, so he would probably have been over the limit on this!

                          Once we had ordered our food, we were in for quite a long wait before the starters materialised. My husband and I ordered mozzarella sticks to share, these were delicious and came with a tomatoey pomodoro sauce.

                          For my main course, I had Pollo Carbonara, which is described as seasoned chicken, pancetta bacon and spaghetti in a creamy grana padano cheese sauce. This had been baked in the oven and came in an unbearably hot dish, but once again, was mouth wateringly delicious. My husband had one of the calzones and he absolutely loved it. All of the food went down really well with everyone in our party, although it had been incredibly slow in coming out.

                          Our empty plates were cleared and the waitress didn't ask whether everything had been ok. She simply stated 'You look at dessert menus' and handed them around. I, personally, chose not to have a pudding as I was full, but others did order. We were waiting for around 20 minutes before one of our group decided to ask whether we would be getting our desserts, they came out not long after this. I have tried the Honeycomb Smash Cheesecake and the Milk Chocolate Fudge Cake and would happily recommend either of these!

                          We got the bill and it had come to around £150, which doesn't sound too bad for 6 of us. This included 3 starters, 6 main courses and 3 desserts as well as mainly soft drinks. Previously, I have always used vouchers when visiting Prezzo as they are fairly readily available, but I didn't have any this time. Personally, I find Prezzo to be fairly pricey for what it is - especially as the service was so poor on this occasion.

                          I would go back as the food is always excellent, but I was seriously disappointed with the service for so many reasons on this visit. As a former waitress, I ALWAYS leave a tip, but we left nothing after this visit as everyone had been so rude and unhelpful. If you are looking for a good Italian restaurant in Norwich then I would suggest going to Prezzo on Tombland, as I have found the staff to be absolutely lovely here and the meal is worth the money! I would go back to this particular restaurant, but only armed with vouchers so I didn't have to pay full price to deal with the staff!

                          I'm going to give it 3 stars because the food is always so lovely, but am taking 2 stars off for the rude staff and the length of time you have to wait to actually get the food!

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