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solamarie

solamarie
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Member since: 20.10.2005

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    • Fish Tycoon / PC Game / 94 Readings / 87 Ratings
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      09.03.2007 18:26
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      Great game for non gamers to play

      This review appears on ciao as well with little adjustment. Just in case anyone is interested in what I have been doing with my time lately I thought I would write a review to tell them. I have been working, having fun and breeding virtual fish! I have been playing Fish Tycoon. ++What's Fish Tycoon?++ Ah, well, it is a downloadable game where you have virtual fish tanks and breed and sell fish. End of review! No not really, there is a lot more to it than that. ++Where did I get it from?++ My son was playing this game online which is a cut down version and asked me if I would download it. It only cost £12.99 and as I couldn't think of an excuse not to I did a Google search and paid the money and downloaded the game. This gives me 5 free downloads, that means if the computer crashes and I lose everything I can download it again without paying for it again. I was sent an email with a license number which I printed and put in the drawer if ever I needed it and away we went. There are several different download sites that will come up on a google search so take your pick; I do think the price is standard though. ++What did I get for the money?++ Fish, fish and more fish! At the start of the game there are two tanks, a trophy tank and a selling tank and you can click between the two. The controls are very simple; all click with the mouse and drag and drop things around. The game starts with a clutch of fish eggs which you drag into the tank, some food, and some hormone growth liquid which makes your new baby fish grow a bit faster. You also start with £300 so you can buy some more eggs and drop those in the tank as well. Under the supplies button there are all sorts of things that enhance the health of your fish and beauty of the tanks. Do remember to keep some money for medicine though because these fish do get sick sometimes. Once you have some adult fish you can drag them into the selling tank and click the sell fish button. The screen is a shop and as you watch customers will come into your shop and buy your fish. Once you have sold enough fish there are all sorts of things you can do with the money. You can do research, buy things for the tanks and even buy another tank so you can breed extra fish. As well as buying eggs to get fish you can breed fish, either two of the same or two different ones which gives new breeds. Beware! If you cross breed before doing the research the baby fish might die! And once that happens you have to put them in the bin! Shock, horror! ++The point of all this?++ Ah, well, there are a couple of points. First to make money and run your business. Similar to all the tycoon games. To be successful at what you have chosen to do. But the real point is that the river Isola has lost all of its fish and needs seven magic fish to restore the balance. You can get a magic fish from eggs but not very often, the best way to get magic fish is to breed and cross breed the fish you buy from eggs. Each magic fish has a purpose, e.g. the magic fish of health, the magic fish of fertility etc. but beware because if you manage to breed the magic fish of mutation then when you breed fish in that tank you won't always get what you are expecting. ++Who makes this game?++ AOL. Well on my pc it is under aol games and I don't have anything else that is aol because I have tried to keep this company off the pc. I have never seen it in any shops though so maybe it is only downloadable from the internet. ++Graphics++ Very pretty, the fish are quite realistic looking if you disregard the bright colours. There isn't huge depth to them or the plants in the tank but they are pretty enough to want to go back and see what you have bred. ++Sound++ Irritatingly repetitive! Glugs from the water pump, splashes when you move fish from tank to tank, the jingle of money as you sell fish and some really simple repetitive music when you are in the shop screen. ++Addictiveness?++ Terribly addictive. This is a real time game so you can set it up, put your eggs in the tank and shut it down again; they grow as time passes whether you are there or not. Be careful to remember to feed the fish before you go off for several hours or a couple of days or you will come home to find them all dead and then you have to put them in the trash can and believe me, you feel guilty that you neglected them. You start the game once and then play until you decide to uninstall and reinstall. I haven't found a way to play two games simultaneously which is difficult if two of you want to play but play differently. I just sort of took over from my son and wanted to start my own game so one day I just reinstalled it and started again. My son was a bit miffed but he had moved on to something much more exciting by then so it didn't matter. This isn't a game you sit for hours over, more a game you can pop back to and check the progress of now and then while you are doing other things. You need lots of patience too, it can take ages to breed fish and when you are hoping for new breeds and get exactly the same as you already have it can be tiresome. The only thing to do then is sell them and buy more eggs. ++Hints and tips++ A google search once again will bring loads of pages of tips and cheats. There is a way of speeding up time if you can't be bothered to wait for your fish to grow and there are tips as to which fish breed which magic fish. You just have to have the right fish in the first place and I have found that just breeding randomly eventually gets you the seven magic fish. There is a screen saver button so if you are leaving the pc for a while you can have one of the fish tanks as a pretty screen saver, it is nice if you are doing something else to pop back every so often to see how much they have grown. ++Options++ Not many options to change the way you play although you can have this game full screen or smaller, you can make the time 2 x time, real time, half time. Can't really change the graphics much and although we have a super graphics card I don't think you need anything special to be able to play this game. The prices of the fish can be changed, and I do believe however high you put the prices they still sell but I rather like the challenge of selling the fish at their original prices and saving the money to buy other things. For something so simple this is a game that will hook you. I have been playing it on and off for three months now and still can't resist going back to see how my fish are getting on as soon as I get home from work. End of review. Thanks for reading. Sue

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        15.12.2006 21:20
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        Sheer summer for a light fragrance that is suitable for work or holiday

        Last year when in the terminal at the channel tunnel my sister was buying some very expensive face cream. She asked me if I wanted anything and while she was choosing I sampled several different perfumes. The one I really liked was called Ghost Sheer Summer and she bought it for me. An nice present. I haven't seen this in the shops in this country so also an unusual present. Ghost make aftershave and related products for men and a few womens fragrances which are accompanied by shower gel, talc and body lotion. The sheer summer one is pink. Sheer summer is a limited edition eau de toilette spray, I have looked it up on Ebay and there are several buy it now ranging from £14.00 - £29.50 which is quite a bit less than we paid last year. ***So, what's it smell like?*** Haunting, light, fresh, subtle, slightly fruity with musky undertones, the descriptions I have read about this fragrance names various fruits, I wouldn't go that far myself, but it is a fragrance that surrounds me with a subtle hue of something, it lingers all day and as I move I get whiffs of it. But this isn't a harsh in your face fragrance, just a whisper of loveliness, there is a hint of white musk in there but only just a hint. ***So where do I get this?*** Probably eBay is your best bet, this is a limited edition fragrance and I haven't seen it in Boots or any of the high street shops that sell the better known fragrances. I have looked at some of the adverts on the buy it now's and some of the cheaper ones are unused testers, I guess that would be fine and a real bargain but not suitable for a present. ***Would I get another bottle?*** Well, I will think about it, my bottle is finally empty, you don't need to use much of it at a time and it lasted over a year, now I have seen it on eBay I just might get a bottle after Christmas, I really did like this, and once or twice someone at work said to me "Something smells nice, it is you?" Thanks for reading, I have gone on a bit. Sue

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          14.12.2006 11:56
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          Well, I like them

          ***Christmas tunes!*** This review is posted on both sites I write for at the same time so that it can be read and then forgotten about as we head through December and into a new year. December is half way through, Christmas is coming, the shops are full of cd’s to buy for presents, listen to in the car and lots of them have a Christmas theme. I nearly bought one, was very tempted, but didn’t and then when I got home and looked to see what I have already in my collection there it was, the cd that I nearly paid £12.99 for in a local large supermarket. Last year I paid £14.99 for it so this year it is a bargain. ***The Best CHRISTMAS ALBUM In the World….Ever!*** I put it in my pc and it started to play. ***What is it?*** This is a two cd album, with 21 tracks on cd one and 23 tracks on cd 2 so I have lots of Christmas hits to listen to. ***CD ONE*** Starts with the haunting tones of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Happy Xmas (War is Over) what a wonderful sentiment and if only it were true. It moves on to Band Aids Do They Know It’s Christmas? Well I guess they don’t and there still isn’t snow in Africa this Christmas, but with the money made from this hit and from the Live Aid concert a lot of good has been done for the people who were starving back in 1981. I am rather cynical though and don’t believe that we can feed the world all the time there are greedy politicians in it! There really is a theme in this album and it has been put together very well. Cd one is full of the hits we love to remember and some we love to hate, we don’t hear them from January to November and then suddenly they pop up on local radio stations reminding us of Christmases past and make us feel excited for the one coming. Wizzard wishes it could be Christmas every day, Elton John Steps into Christmas, Paul McCartney is having a Wonderful Christmas time. Greg Lake (bet no one remembers him) believes in Father Christmas. Chris De Burgh tells us a Spaceman Came Travelling and then Mike Oldfield is In Dulci Jubilo. The Beach Boys sing about Little Saint Nick ( I thought he was a huge fellow) and Brenda Lee wants us to Rock Around the Christmas Tree. The Jackson 5 sing about Frosty The Snowman and Stevie Wonder tells us What Christmas Means to him. Samantha Mumber tells us All she Wants For Christmas and the Waitresses do some Christmas Wrapping. Robbie Williams sings Walk This Sleigh and Jona Lewie tells us to Stop The Cavalry (I would like all the word leaders to listen to the words of this one). Ronan Keating feat. Marie Bernnan sing of the Fairytale of New York and Tom Jones & cerys Matthews tells us Baby, It’s Cold Outside. Kylie Minogue sings to Santa Baby and Frankie goes to Hollywood sits at the end of cd one with The Power of Love. So, cd one is bouncy, Christmassy, music in the most part that almost all will remember hearing. Well worth listening to. ***CD TWO*** still follows the Christmas theme, but is slower and more traditional. Cliff Richard opens with Misteltoe and Wine and that flows into Aled Jones Walking in the Air. Real traditions follows as Bing Crosby sings about a White Christmas and then Nat King Cole sings the Christmas Song. Dean Martin asks to Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! And Mud tell us they are Lonely This Christmas. Matt Monro sings Mary’s Boy Child (we al know who he is don’t we?) and Peggy Lee sings about a Winter Wonderland. Adam Faith with his Lonely Pup (In A Christmas Shop) is followed by the Supremes getting excited because Santa Clause Is Coming To Town. Ella Fitzgerald is very tratidional with God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and The King Singers carol While Shepherds Watched. Stacie Orrico calls to us all (O come all Ye Faithful) and the Weavers Wish you a Merry Christmas. The Spinners sing the Twelve Days of Christmas and Jethro Tull (what’s he doing here?) Rings Out Solstice Bells. Steeleye Span sing Gaudete and Bert Jansch In The Bleak Midvinter. Sinead O’Conner sings Silent Night and Norah Jones sings about Peace. Then we have Michael Andrews & Gary Jules telling us of a Mad World. Bing Crosby and David Bower sings together about Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy and we end this cd with the same voice we started as Cliff Richard sings The Millennium Prayer. ***Where would I play this?*** Cd one would go down well at the office Christmas Party, with people either singing along or sighing “Oh this one was terrible….to you remember that year? But all hits that are known to a large percentage of people and each one brings it’s own reminders. Cd two being more traditional could be played softly in the background while munching on sprouts and turkey on the big day itself or lent to your mum so she can sing along to the older hits and carols. ***What will I be doing with my copy?*** Playing it in the car, at home, at work and at mums, I will enjoy hearing the songs again and will wrap presents to the sound of this cd. I will also play it in my car and it will be very loud on Christmas day as I go to work in the afternoon. Then after Boxing Day this cd will go back in it’s case and back on the shelf, I wonder if I will remember it for next year? Glad I found it! Thanks for reading. Sue

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            10.12.2006 20:38
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            I would go back tomorrow

            This review also appears on ciao under the same name. I am going to try and keep this factual! After all no one wants to read how I flew to Nice, went through 89 tunnels in a luxury coach, played and swam and had fun on a huge ship, then drove to Turin amongst the wooded hills gazing out of the window at acre upon acre of autumnal trees, amazed at the colours, rust, copper, burnished gold and all colours red, now do they? So, factual it is. Costa Cruises the company. An Italian company consisting of 11 cruise ships, it is one of the most modern cruise companies and their ships aren't that many years old. The Costa Atlantica, which we sailed on was first launched in 2000 and their earliest ship the Costa Marina was launched in 1990. The Costa company is part of the Carnival Corporation and is a member of the prestigious world leader of cruise lines. That is enough of the company, if anyone is interested in reading more I have included the web page below. http://www.costacruises.co.uk/B2C/GB/Corporate/The+company/thecompany.htm Our first site of the ship. As we arrived in the port of Savona some people on the coach were craning their necks and looking out of the window. "There she is" I heard one woman say so I craned my neck and looked hard. 'Oh' I thought ' I missed it, it must be behind that huge building' Wrong, it was that huge building, I really couldn't come to terms with the size of the ship and it was really impossible to see it as a whole ship, we just saw bits of it and they all looked like a huge building. Check in. Check in was quick and easy, the embarkation lounge was comfortable with plenty of seating. We were really lucky and due to having a wheelchair (for mum) didn't have to wait very long before we were marching onto the ship trying to keep up with the guy who had taken the wheelchair and threaded his way through all the other people. In no time at all we were being shown our cabins. The cabins. Several choices here, inside, outside with window, with balcony and a suite. We had a balcony and mum was in the next door cabin so adjoining balconies as well. Large, plenty of room for a double bed, sofa and table, enough storage space for the two of us. Mums clothes looked a little lost in hers. During the cruise we saw the inside of the inner cabins and the suites as well. Suites are larger but the non balcony cabins didn't seem to be any smaller. Exploring. We went up and down and round and round, and after a couple of days we could go where we wanted the first time. It took a while and there wasn't wonderful direction but although a large ship it didn't really take long to go from one end to the other. In the centre of the ship is the Atrium, this is beautiful, there are three glass lifts that go the full ten floors and the first time you whiz up or down the ten floors it is quite an experience seeing out. On the first floor there is a semi circular bar, customer services and the tour shop where you can book your tours of the countries you visit. Next floor up is the photo shop, and along one side well displayed are the photos that the official photographer takes during the cruise. We bought the one of us boarding because it is a nice memory and one of my mum in her life jacket because it was a good pic. Otherwise we didn't bother, to my mind they are overpriced but the quality is good. Spending money. Within the first 24 hours we registered our credit card because there is no money on board. We were presented with a card each with out names on one side and a picture of the shop on the other which we handed in each time we bought something. This is generally how finances are organised on most cruise ships and is a very easy way of doing it, not having to carry your wallet everywhere you go. During the cruise you can go and ask for a balance if you like to know how much you are spending, otherwise you get your receipt on the last night of the cruise and the money is debited from your card within 24 hours. Shops. Via Della Spiga. The shopping centre of the ship. There is a fair selection of perfumes, cosmetics, clothes, things you might have forgotten to pack (like toothbrush), cigarettes and booze. You can't buy booze and take it to your cabin to drink, only buy it to take home on the last day. There are no English cigarettes either, but American and Italian brands. The clothes were very expensive, even with the 50% off sale on the last day a polo shirt would have set you back about £20. There are some sweets, chocolate is expensive and there weren't a great selection either, so I guess more for taking home for gifts rather than eating in your cabin. Café Florian. This is an exact replica of the famous café of the same name which I believe is in Venice and was built in the 1700's. Ginger and Fred Lido. There are three pools and four Jacuzzis. A pool for families, a general pool and a pool for adults only. Each pool has a Jacuzzi next to it so you can have a swim, jump in the Jacuzzi or vice versa. The water in each pool was freezing in the mornings but warmed up nicely in the afternoons. Club Atlantica Gym. This is a whole out of this world experience! Built in a semi circle with windows all round so whether it is a gentle stroll on a treadmill or a hard workout on an exercise bike that you enjoy you can look out of a window at the sea or land while you work out. It is on three levels and the views are really stunning. In the centre is another Jacuzzi for a relax after your work out. Adjoining the gym are separate male and female changing rooms, showers, steam room and sauna. There is a beauty parlour at the entrance of the gym and it was a little disconcerting the first time having to go through this to get to the gym but we got used to it. Here you can have your hair cut or whatever you want done to it, you can have seaweed wraps and a number of other body or facial treatments and you can buy the well known Elemis range of beauty products. Library and internet. There is a library and internet café in the same room. The books are in glass doored cupboards which someone opens twice daily for an hour, a shame really I thought because if you happen to be asleep after lunch you could well miss out on getting a book. The selection of books in English was quite wide and enough choice for most readers. The internet costs 50cents per minute, I didn't use it but can see that it could be useful for someone wanting to check their emails or send messages home while away. Tiziano restaurant. This is huge, on two floors, so you can enter from the second or the third deck. Seating arrangements are good, you get your table number and your sitting time and that is free for you for the whole cruise for dinner. Breakfast and lunch are open sittings. Tables are laid up with different colours different nights, the waiters wore different coloured waistcoats on different nights too. There is also the Boticelli Buffet, for breakfast and lunch, a Pizza place and the Ginger and Fred lido buffets which have breakfast and lunch. You can get tea and coffee and ice and water 24 hours per day and pizza for most of that time. What was a little disappointing was if you want a meal in the evening you went to the restaurant or ate pizza. On two nights there was an alternative buffet in the Boticelli restaurant, but that was all. At midnight. Each night in a different place there was a midnight surprise, these were different and themed and the food was beautifully presented, but it was either too late for us to want to eat or too crowded to get near. The food. Hard to be objective here. Apparently the Italians cook with loads of salt, or in seawater, I am not sure which. Breakfast was good. There was lots of different choices, eggs, bacon, hash browns, cold meats, rolls and preserves, sweet rolls, sausages, oh the list can go on and on. There was also a healthy choice of sugar free items which would be good for anyone who likes sugar free cakes and biscuits or just wants fruit. (Prunes, tinned peaches, apples, plums, pineapple and grapefruit) There was also an omelette station where they would cook a fresh omelette while you waited and fill it with a huge variety of fillings. These came fresh cooked and hot and tasty. Lunch was brilliant. Once again huge choice, from fish and chips, burgers, pizza, salad, meat dishes, not many veg, plenty of olives and cheese and crisps. Usually at least two different pastas and vegetarian pies which were nice. Dinner was a mixed affair for me. The veg was very salty, the soups were also salty, the meat wasn't cooked as I would (but then that is different rather than a criticism) Each night started with either a small starter, several different ones, went on to a soup course, then pasta dish, main course, salad, cheese and nuts and dried fruit (worth waiting for) and finished up with a sweet. I can't comment on the sweet although both my husband and mum enjoyed theirs. The courses were larger than I have had on other cruises so we either left some or felt too full. Enough about food! And that is enough about the ship and it's facilities really. If I wrote everything in detail there would be no surprise for anyone booking for next year. So, lets go to my opinion…..Oh no, the tours first…. On land tours. In each place we stopped there were a variety of tours to be booked the day before that you could go on. We didn't so I can't say from personal experience but will outline some of them and what others said. Naples - Pompeii. Worth going but not suitable for people in wheelchairs or had mobility problems, a couple of hours walking over uneven ground. Sicily - Etna - Wish I had been able to go on this one, the people we spoke to said it was wonderful, the scenery beautiful and dramatic and worth going to see. Alexandria - Pyramids, Nile, Camel ride - these were all 12 or 14 hours long, people we spoke to said they spent too much time in the coaches and too little time seeing these things, also that they would have liked to have got closer to the pyramids but they were worth seeing. Cyprus - tours around the prettiest parts of this island. A good tour and not too long. Lymassol - Turkey - Lovely place (we went on shore and walked for ages) a place we might want to return to, lovely tour, very scenic, very beautiful. Santorini - Very pretty island. Katakolon - Greece - Olympia - Well worth seeing the ruins for the place the first ever Olympic games were played. Steeped in history. I would have enjoyed this tour. We went ashore in Naples, Sicily, Cyprus, Turkey and Katakoln. Each was different and worth seeing. Overall opinion. My mum said she thought it was all wonderful. The ship was beautiful and spectacular, the food was good, we didn't go to the theatre apart from one afternoon when we were just wandering around and it is a lovely theatre. We watched rehearsals and there was real atmosphere, the performers seeming to be enjoying themselves. The cabin was perfect, the balcony an added bonus. In fact she really enjoyed it all! My husband thought it wasn't quite as good as two other cruises we have been on. He found the fact that so many of the people aboard were Italian and didn't speak English a bit frustrating. But he did enjoy himself and was most impressed with the ship which is the largest we have been on. Me! It was lovely, I just love the Italian atmosphere, the glamour of the different rooms. The cabin was great, much more spacious than the other two we have been on. The service was pretty good, in the restaurant or in the shops and bars. I just enjoy cruising. The food could have been better, otherwise it was comparable to the others w have been on. There was entertainment during each day, but we couldn't join in with some of it due to not speaking Italian. If we had taken the grandchildren there were kids clubs to keep them occupied, a huge water slide for the older ones and Dantes disco in the evening which was aimed at teenagers. The names of the decks are all taken from films directed by Federico Fellini a famous Italian director and there are huge pictures of different screen shots of the films scattered around the ship. A beautiful ship which I am glad to have spent 11 days aboard. So, we returned home at the end of our holiday, a little more relaxed and refreshed, a little heavier, and with some lovely memories. A couple more facts: There were just over 2,600 holidaymakers aboard while we were there and never once did it feel crowded. You can't buy booze and drink it in your cabin, you have to pay bar prices which were equilivant to English bar prices, bit steep we thought, if you have anything out of the mini bar in your cabin it is the same price as the bar prices. The chocolate on board was horrifically expensive, almost two Euros for a Bounty, needless to say we didn't eat many. Thanks for reading. Sue xx

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              25.08.2006 17:42
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              A fascinating way to lose a few inches or more.

              This review also appears on another review site under the same name. Another diet book?? That is what I thought when I saw Paul McKenna’s book ‘I can make you thin’ on the shelf of my local book shop. I was just browsing around, mum was in the library and I was filling time. This looks interesting I thought and picked it up. On the back I read ‘Are you ready for something really different?’ or words to that effect. I can’t quote perfectly because my sister in law has borrowed this book at the moment. I opened the book and had a little read, after all that is what books are for isn’t it? Paul McKenna told me that the answer to weight loss is following his principals to the letter and listening to the cd that is in the back of the book. The principals are: Eat when you are hungry Eat what you want Eat consciously Stop when you are full There is a lot of blurb on the back of the book that makes it look like a really exciting thing to read. So, a sucker for trying something different I bought the book, I paid the full price for this book which edges up towards the £10 mark, but the next week I saw it in Asda for £5.99 and was a bit miffed. So, home once again, and sat with a cup of tea I opened the book that was going to change my life. Well, I hoped so anyway. I read the book, from cover to cover, thought about what it told me, decided that it made a bit of sense. There are testimonials dotted throughout the book which I read sceptically because all diet books have these which tell you this is the best diet book ever and you only have to follow the principles and however huge you are at the beginning you will soon be wearing smaller clothes and have a wonderful body. Nowadays everyone on this planet should know that if you eat sensibly, lots of fruit and veg, little in the way of fat and sugar, do loads of exercise, drink plenty of water, then everyone should be the perfect size and in perfect health. The reality is that a lot of people (and I mean a lot here) know this, but still load their supermarket trolleys with biscuits, cakes, sweets, fatty meats, butter, cheese (my favourite food is cheese) etc. etc. You only have to look around you on shopping day. My trolley pretty much always includes some sweets, some biscuits, loads of meat because my husband loves his meat, real butter, full fat, full flavour cheese, nuts, seeds, lots of fruit and veg and salad stuff, but all the same, not the perfect food that we are advised to eat all the time. Watch television, read a magazine, even a newspaper and you will be advised to eat low fat, low sugar food. Now if we all read this advice and took any notice of it we would all be perfect. We are human, and we are not perfect, some of us can manage to stay a reasonably healthy weight and some of us diet all our lives and still can’t manage to be the size we want. What category do I fall into? Well I carry a stone more than I want to, I carry this around with me all day every day and it makes my legs ache sometimes. I carry most of it around my middle, it sort of grew and settled there over the last ten years. I still wear size 8 jeans but that is because of the fashion of wearing them low on the hips, this stone sort of wobbles over the top of them and I hate short tee shirts because then it shows. Back to the book. Can eating the way Paul tells me to make a difference? I read it again, dipped into it on and off over the next month and not much happened. The CD. I was very wary of listening to the cd. I am wary of mind altering things altogether which is why I don’t drink alcohol and I don’t pop pills. One day I decided to listen though, wondering what it was all about and thinking that if I didn’t like it I could pull the headphones off my ears and never listen again. I loved it! It was calming, relaxing, gave me a sense of happiness, (my daughter mentioned some time later that it must be doing something because I was so much more positive) The cd lasts about half an hour so it gave me a bit of relaxation before bed at night. Ah, I hear you say, but did it work? The crucial question! In one way it worked. At some point Paul whispers in my ear that I will take more steps each day, that bit works a treat, a year on I am fitter than I have been for a long time, I exercise more and enjoy doing that. At some point Paul whispers that I will eat slowly and put my knife and fork down between bites, I will chew slowly and really enjoy my food. That bit works, for the first time ever I really enjoy my food. At some point Paul whispers that I will choose light healthy food, that bit also works, my supermarket trolley is more loaded with fruit, salads and vegetables than it ever has been before and I have to go to the local fruit and veg shop to top up during the week. Part of the book explains that to weigh yourself every day is to disappoint yourself, weight can vary so much in a 24 hour period that daily weighing can be different and not show weight loss. I have always jumped on the scales every morning, for as long as I can remember, and he is right, have a long pee and you are down a bit, don’t have one and you are up a bit. Paul whispers seductively to me that I will forget to weigh myself for weeks at a time, well that bit works too, I can’t be bothered to get on the scales most mornings now. Have I lost weight? Yes, not a lot but some. I have lost 6lbs which is just less than 3 kilos (I think), nothing dramatic and nothing that quickly. More importantly, am I thinner? Yes, my waist has lost a whole 2 inches, my hips have lost half an inch, my bust is the same, which means I no longer have to hold my stomach in and hope no one notices the wobbly bit hanging over my too tight jeans. I have a bright, optimistic outlook on life, which I don’t think I had before, I have more energy, I so enjoy my food, and choosing my food, now if I don’t want to eat something I just don’t, like potatoes, there is nothing to say you have to eat potatoes, but there is a sort of feeling that they are part of any staple diet so I have always felt guilty that I don’t like them and eat the minimal amount at any meal. Now I just flipping leave them in the pan, and have extra of something I do like. There is another important point of Paul’s book. He says, stop when you are full, or beginning to feel full. There are some mind exercises to tune into your body and begin to learn how you feel when you are feeling full. This way, you resign from the clean plate brigade, and leave food on the plate as soon as you feel you have had enough. I used to often finish up my meal and then feel bloated afterwards, this rarely ever happens now. So that is a really good point to read about and follow to the letter. There is quite a bit in the book about binge eating (which I haven’t done) and craving busting (which I didn’t bother with because I don’t often crave food enough) that could be very useful in breaking habits. Today, 24th August 2006. I have eaten this morning, a huge soft ripe nectarine, a huge crispy English Discover apple, a small handful of mixed nuts. I have drunk 2 pints of water and three cups of tea. I found drinking water the hardest to get going on. I have never drunk much water, but during the hot days of summer I forced myself to drink water and suddenly, a pint of water by my side is the most important part of my day and I can almost drink a whole pint in one go. I do eat sweets, chocolate biscuits, not keen on cake, crisps I love, and cheese which is largely fat. I eat these things in the way Paul told me to, slowly, enjoying each mouthful and rarely finishing anything, a few mouthfuls now satisfies my wanting of them, I put the rest away for later. I eat huge bowls of mixed salad which I chop up myself and cover in full fat mayonnaise, I rarely leave much salad, I love crispy bacon so often fry some up and put it on top with some chunks of cheese, so as you can see, I eat food I enjoy not food I think is healthy for me and I am a happier, more positive person who has loads of energy and firm muscles, so yes this book and cd does work. I am not sure how this works, but it really does, it isn't exactly hypmotism, Paul describes it as day dreaming, and it is a nice feeling. If you want to try it they have new and used copies on Amazon for £4.00 which won’t break the bank. This year, I bought Pauls 90 day journal which is a great way to keep track of things, and am enjoying doing the daily exercises, whether they are mind ones or dancing madly in my sitting room, or running over the downs with my dogs. I also bought last winter, at a very low point in my life, (chest infection and job I hated) Paul’s Instance Confidence book with cd. Now, that works, that is another story, but it got me a job that I hadn’t a clue how to do and wasn’t qualified for. Enough, I am off to work shortly. Thanks for reading, Sue x

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                18.07.2006 23:35
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                Good bouncy workout to do at home.

                Long ago, a few years anyway, a friend and I bought several Tae Bo videos, copied them onto one video together and then lost the originals, maybe I gave them to my friend. Anyway, on and off I have played and joined in with Billy Blanks while he kicks and punches his way across my TV screen. So what is this? Tae Bo was described to me as a cross between kick boxing and dance. I have had a look on Billy's website and the official description is Tae means "foot and leg" in Korean, and Bo is a shortened version of Box. Below is Billy's interpretation of the letters that spell the word, these are copied directly from the website. T =Total commitment to whatever you do A =Awareness of yourself and the world E =Excellence, the truest goal in anything you do B =The body as a force for total change O =Obedience for your will and your true desire for change. There is some information about Billy Blanks and his really exciting exercise regimen on his website, I am not reviewing the man himself but one DVD so include the website address and will say no more. http://www.billyblanks.com/whatistaebo.asp?section=whatistaebo The DVD case is yellow, with a nice picture of Billy on the front, all rippling muscles in little shorts and a white vest. It states that "Tae Bo is the future of fitness," there is a large 3 and below that "The ultimate total body workout." When you start the video there is the usual warning about copying then the intro with a class of people all doing Tae Bo, Billy talks about the body moves and about the spiritual aspect of this exercise while jumping, kicking and punching the air. Onto the workout. On this video there are two workouts, a full half hour workout which takes a bit longer because there is a five minute warm up at the beginning and a cool down bit at then end. There is a bonus eight minute workout for when you don't have a lot of time but want to do some exercise. This actually takes around fifteen minutes, once again because of the warm up and cool down periods. After warming up Billy heads straight into the workout. In my opinion he is very motivating. There are twists of the waist, kicks of the legs and punches of the arms. After about five minutes of this I am beginning to feel nice and warm and am puffing very slightly. Billy shows the steps and kicks etc. then counts in sets of eight, loads of sets and I will say, for some of the stretches I find myself willing him to stop at times even though I know how long each lot goes on for. While the group follow the exercises Billy tends to walk round the room, encouraging the people on the DVD and us the viewers. Then back to the middle and onto the next exercise. On and on til the end. In between the bouncy bits that make you sweat and puff there are stretches to make the body more supple and more able to cope with whatever life throws at it. Billy talks loud and fast while not counting, about the importance of exercise and he does stress that when exercising we need to drink so urges people to take a break and we do see some of the group at different times drinking water from bottles, I keep a bottle of water nearby because I do find I get thirsty. There are some quite fancy dance steps included here, and these took me several goes before I felt I was doing the same thing as the people on screen, but it really doesn't matter, if I miss a step I certainly don't give up, just carry on and next time maybe I will get that bit right. Billy tells us to pull in our stomach muscles, straighten our backs, and work our muscles while his rippling muscles show what good regular exercise can do for a body. The whole thing has a nice beaty background music to it and I like this because it lifts me and makes me more bouncy. The time goes quickly and at the end I often think "Oh over already." So, that is my favourite at home workout explained. I can say with all honesty that if you do this workout about three times a week you will notice a difference, after three times I began to notice firmer muscle tone on my legs, stomach and arms, including the bit underneath the arms that gets a bit floppy as we age unless we do something about it. I don't do this three times every week, I go to the gym, swim a bit and work quite hard in a physical way, today I was pushing wheelchairs for quite a while on uneven paths so my arms ache a bit and I don't feel like exercising but I do get the DVD out every so often and bounce around my room. After doing Tae Bo I always feel energised, and good about myself, I guess that is the spiritual part of working your body. A little about the class. In the class on this and the other videos there is an elderly lady, a few older children and mostly young adults. It is interesting to see the class develop over the different DVD's/videos, their hair changes with the passage of time and their muscles develop and become more defined, if you have more than one workout then you feel you are toning your body along with all these people and it is nice to see what good the exercises are doing them, although I am sure they exercise a whole lot more than I ever do or will. What other videos are there? Tae Bo goes from number 1 through to 5. (1) is pretty basic and because I have always kept fairly fit I never even tried it. (2) is a good half hour work out and a section with all the moves done slow to practise so you get them right and don't hurt your body. (3) is my favourite (4) is a pretty hard abs workout which I am not too keen on, although it is great for core strength as they all are. (5 )is fat burning and really fast work for people who are pretty fit to start with. I would advise anyone wanting to workout at home who is pretty fit without any medical conditions to start with number 2 and progress to 3 but if you have never exercised much for years or are getting older then try number 1. For me, having a few different Tae Bo workouts means I never get bored, if I find one of them too easy I just switch to another. To exercise at home with just a guy on the TV screen telling you that you can have the best body yet takes a lot of motivation, so I wouldn't advise anyone to rush out and buy all the DVD's unless you think you can keep on doing it. A few exercise tips. Always when exercising, be careful, don't overdo it, little and often is better than a sore back or aching muscles which can put you off for life. Remember to drink plenty of water, drink as soon as you feel thirsty, and keep the fluids up afterwards, especially if you sweat a lot during your workout. Oh, and if you really really hate the taste of water then put a bit of squash in it or juice, although water or a rehydrating drink is best, anything is better than nothing. If you are unsure about how fit you are then ask your doctor before you start, they are full of good advice and will check things like blood pressure for you if they think it is needed. Go ahead and try this, I promise, you won't be disappointed. This review is published on Ciao although I have changed from the DVD category to the video category, I have both DVD and video. Thanks for reading, Sue

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                  08.02.2006 15:59
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                  Simple grass cutter which colldects the cuttings as you go.

                  Once upon a time I had a lovely lightweight flymo, very plain, easy to use, it cut the grass to a smooth velvety lawn and I loved it, long ago I had a car that burned to death and afterwards remembered that said mower was in the back at the time so that was the end of that and the quest of a decent mower began. Every few years I go to the shops and get me a new mower, not quite sure what happens to the old ones but possibly my son has something to do with it. Ah, there was one that my son in law used and blew up, probably not his fault but subsequent mowers haven't been as good as that one. That was about seven years ago and this year my son moved into a house with a large lawn and borrowed my mower…. the one that hung on a nail in the shed, it was a flymo, and worked reasonably well. It didn't come back and it didn't come back so one Sunday a couple of months ago I hotfooted it to B & Q and bought me a band new mower. There is a long story attached to the buying of the mower, but as it concerns a pair of secateurs you won't read it here. Over the last ten or so years plastic blades have become very popular for mowers. I agree with the concept of safety and they are great if you have a neat square of lawn with little or no debris lying around and no tough tufts of grass or weeds to cut. I had one once and blade after blade broke. It took a whole packet of blades just to get the lawn cut so I knew from that experience that I needed a metal blade. 2005 has been a very dry summer here on the south coast and I haven't spent a lot of it cutting the lawn because most of it has been sparse and tufty and dead looking. This hasn't worried me because I haven't had a lot of time and I knew once the autumn rain came the grass would green up nicely. Well, suddenly I realised this morning that we have had the autumn rain, the sun was shining brightly and the grass was not only green but rather long. We have been restructuring the garden somewhat so first I needed to remove all the odd bits and pieces that somehow get on the lawn while I'm not looking and then get the mower out of the shed. This one is too big to hang off the nail on the wall so sits on the floor; I lifted it out thinking not for the first time that it is heavier than the earlier ones I owned. So, what have I got? I bought a Flymo vision compact 380 and remember well bringing it home and taking it out of the box. There were several pieces but this didn't faze me at all, I just attached the handle to the base and put the blade in place. No problem, maybe a little awkward but I have had some practise. The second time I used the mower I couldn't find the lead and grumbled a bit then used the one from the chainsaw which is compatible, half way through cutting the lawn I remembered that the lead winds neatly away on the top and felt a bit silly that I had forgotten that. So this time I unwound the lead, plugged each end in and away I went. My lawn as I wrote earlier is a bit tufty and pretty uneven so the top half was hard work, I pushed and pulled and puffed and wondered why it doesn't hover like the old ones used to. This lawnmower being 13kg in weight is heavier than the older ones and this weight is increased as you mow because it blows the cuttings upwards into a box. Then compacts them so the box holds twice as much as most hovers that collect the grass as well. This is a real bonus when the grass has got a bit long as you don't leave damp cuttings all over the lawn and raking the lawn is very good exercise but not for me. Further down the lawn is more even and of denser grass and over this the mower glides across rather than hovering, but is much easier to use. It took me almost an hour from start to finish and the lawn looks nice and neat, short enough and fairly smooth, so I am pleased with the mower even though it isn't the best I have ever used. Now for the details of the mower. The flymo vision compact electric hover mower has a hefty 1700-watt motor, which means it can tackle most lawns even if they are rather large and a bit uneven. The metal blade is 38cm long and will cut through even really tough grass and weeds, if you hit a stone or two as I do then this easily comes off and can be sharpened again and again. Not like those plastic blades that break at the first little pebble and have to be renewed. Having a reel up storage place on top to put the lead away means you never lose it, so long as you remember or look downwards and see that it is there. The blade can be adjusted for four different cutting heights, from 12mm to 32mm, and I haven't a clue how short that is but can tell you it goes from leaving quite a lot of grass to almost shaving it and leaving bare ground in places. The grass box holds 40ltrs of grass, it compacts this and is easy to lift out and empty, either dump it in your compost bin or do what I do and spread it over the borders, lightly forking it in to feed the ground. A tip though, don't do this if you have applied weed killer to your lawn recently because then all your plants would die off. You can also use lawn cuttings for a mulch round plants to conserve the moisture in the soil, but if you put too thick a layer down it heats up and may burn the surface roots. The grass box has a clear plastic window in the top so you can see when it is full, this is useful if the lawn is huge and you manage to fill it up before finishing the lawn. There is a 1 year manufacturers guarantee that comes with the mower, so if you buy it at the beginning of the summer and use it once or twice weekly then you will have got a good amount of use out of it before this runs out. Where do you buy it? and how much does it cost? You can buy these mowers at most D.I.Y. outlets, B & Q and Focus Do it all stocked them in the summer. The price is around the £130.00 mark, I paid £20.00 less because it was on special offer when I bought mine. Nowadays most of the smaller hover mowers have plastic blades and our garden seems to literally grow stones, so they aren't for us. This hover mower is a little heavy on uneven ground but as we are slowly levelling the garden by raising the lower end of the lawn and filling it in then it will be easier as time goes on. It isn't that noisy, it cuts well enough for me and once I go and wind the lead back up and put it away I will be pleased that the job is done. The answer to my question in the title. Is it too much for a mere woman? Well, not quite, considering how the garden slopes and how uneven the lawn is, but it did make me work whereas the original hover mower that burned in the car I just swung around and it did the job fine. I am glad I bought it and it should get many years use here. I know many people, including my neighbour have those sit on and ride about type mowers, but for me cutting the grass is something that I enjoy on a calm day when it isn't raining and I like plodding around the garden admiring the plants that I have grown. Electrolux, which is a company I have faith in, makes Flymo, their products are generally good quality and reasonable priced. If you are interested or want to find out more about this model then I include the website below. http://www.flymo.com/node80.asp?prodid=673&img= There isn't much detail on the website and I can't see how long the cable is but I think it is about 15metres, which is about 50ft I think, I am sure someone will correct me if I am wrong. Thanks for reading this, Sue :o)

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                    06.02.2006 22:42
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                    Bread anytime of the day or night, using good quality ingredients and knowing that the bread is good

                    I have had this breadmaker/homebaker for about four years. I bought it when I was in new gadget mode and seemed to have most of the ones that most people have and this seemed a brilliant idea. Then after getting it home, unpacking it and making several loaves of bread, we realised that in this house we actually don't eat a loaf of bread a week. So there it sat atop the microwave, because we don't even have room for it really, for about three years. Every so often I gave it a wipe, thought I really ought to use it more often, but otherwise it didn't feature very highly in our lives. When the children came to visit my husband was heard to make jokes about all the gadgets we have and whether he could find something else as useless as the bread maker for my next shopping rush. But with children and grandchildren around it started to be used again and my family just love to eat fresh warm bread spread with butter, so it is no longer the most useless gadget I have every bought. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ So! What is this wonder machine that gathers dust? I bought it in Curries, it is a Hinari bread maker, it makes loaves of bread, cakes and even jam. What a wonder machine. I paid about £29 for it and have just looked on Amazon to see and they have them for £29.97. I am not sure if they include delivery in their prices. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Then what happened? Well, some of our children with a grandchild came early in January 2004 to live with us, this is a great thing and suddenly from being a middle aged couple, we are part of this large extended family. We really are having fun. But back to bread! I decided that as several loaves of bread were now being eaten each week that maybe I could make some bread for a treat. I dusted it off, opened it up, got the pan out, got the recipe book out, got the ingredients out, threw the lot together and set it to large light. Some three and a bit hours later, out came this hard, solid, stodgy mass of bread. Oh dear, they all politely looked at it, tasted it and the rest went in the bin. So, I had another go a few days later, same result. By now I was really bothered. What was I doing wrong? Well obviously loads of things, one being I wasn't measuring perfectly accurately. And for this machine and probably others like it, you really need to measure exactly and don't just throw what looks like the right amount in. One of the recipes I used and have used in the past state a table spoonful of dried milk powder, well I didn't have any of that in the house so at the last minute sloshed in some milk hoping that would be the same and I guess it isn't the same at all. I went and bought new flour and yeast. I bought the white Hovis flour and on the back is a much simpler recipe than the ones in the recipe book so I tried that one. Three and a bit hours later the loaf was cooked, risen to huge proportions, light and soft and just perfect. I made several loaves over the next couple of weeks and they all seem to disappear really quickly, I usually get the crust, when it is hot and straight out of the machine, hence the indigestion, but don't often eat bread so take their word for it that it is good stuff. So, the next week, while shopping I bought more flour and decided to try brown bread. Now, I have made brown bread before and it tends to come out rather heavy and the family aren't so keen, so I decided to try a half and half recipe. I used a bit more white flour than brown and set it at large light again. Not very adventurous me! Some three and a bit hours later out came a small, hard, heavy stodgy loaf. Once again the family said, oh dear, and in the bin it went. Then in the middle of the night I had a flash of revelation. Of course, the brown loaf setting takes over four hours, I think it is 4hrs. 20 mins. as brown bread takes longer to rise. That is where I have been going wrong! This afternoon I made another half and half loaf, using the simple recipe on the back of the flour packet. Just before I started this review I took out a perfectly risen, large light brown loaf of bread. Ate the crust which is crisp and delicious. Probably I will get indigestion again, but it won't last forever and the bread is lovely. Over the last month we have had good, fresh bread from the machine, also it makes cakes, we had a lovely ginger cake the other evening and by the time I got home from work the next day it was gone. I have in the past made a fruit cake, but that was a bit dry, not as good as the one I bake in the oven. It also makes jam, but I haven't tried that; I make my jam in the microwave. You can make pizza dough in it and make just dough to bake in the oven in whatever shape you want. I have made dough and made rolls for tea, which were very nice. It also makes French bread but I haven't tried that. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The recipe book that comes with it is clear and simple to use. It gives recipes for a basic white, small or large, a basic brown, small, or large. Also there are recipes for speciality breads, like tomato and basil. I haven't tried these but have replaced part of the flour with other things, like oats or sunflower seeds and that works well. When you select the programme and press start, after about 20 minutes an alarm beeps a few times and you can add things at that point. A couple of times I added grated cheese and that bread was wonderful, with a nice crispy crust and lovely baked cheesy flavour. If you wanted fruit bread you could add raisins or sultanas or whatever you wanted at this point too. This bread maker has a timer, so you could put all the ingredients in, set the timer for the appropriate time before you awake in the morning and have hot bread for breakfast. The bonus of doing this is of course waking to the wonderful smell of baking. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ What does it look like? It looks like a small oven with the door at the top which you lift up and some buttons and an LCD beside the door opening. I have put the dimensions below, they may not be exact, but near enough, I asked my husband and as he measures things by sight he told me the figures below, and I believe he is probably close enough. 15 ins wide x 11 ins deep x 14 ins high Ours, as said before sits atop the microwave because we have a minute kitchen and there isn't anywhere else, but it could sit anywhere on a kitchen worktop. There is a select button, a start button and a stop button. Above these is a list of the programmes, these are numbered so you just have to select the number and press start and wait. 1. Large light 2. Large dark 3. Large rapid 4. Regular light 5. Wholewheat 6. French bread 7. Sweet bread 8. cake 9. Dough 10. Pizza dough 11. Bagel dough 12. Pasta dough 13. Jam 14. Bake only So you can see there are lots of different sorts of bread and things you can make here. Inside there is a pan that twists to go in or out, this pan is non-stick and only needs a wipe out after use. Inside that there is a sort of paddle thing, which mixes the ingredients together and kneads the dough. When you take your baked loaf out this leaves a little hole in the bottom of the loaf, but it doesn't detract from the flavour and that is the important bit. Once you have tipped the finished loaf out, and please be careful as the pan is very hot, you can wrap it in a clean tea towel while it cools, which produces a fairly crisp crust although not as crispy as if you leave it nude on the side to cool, or if like my husband you like a soft crust you can wrap it in the tea towel and then put in a carrier bag which contains the moisture while it cools and leaves a nice soft bread crust. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ In conclusion Well, I am at last glad that I bought this gadget. There are other things in this house that I thought I would use but never get out of the back of the cupboard, this one was worth the money and not that expensive. It takes several hours to make the bread and at first I was disappointed because for some reason I had thought it would be a quick process. I have made bread many times kneading by hand and proving in a warm place and now that my life is busy most of the time this is much the easier option. I did buy a book of recipes for bread makers but can't remember what I did with it, so stick to either the book that came with it or the recipes that are found on the back of most bread flours. Each loaf is the same shape, either the regular ones which are about half size as the large, you would have to make dough and shape and bake in a conventional oven if you wanted fancy shaped bread. It only takes a few minutes to measure the ingredients and put them in the pan and less than a minute to set the machine off, which is great in this time of working, caring for a mother and having children and grandchildren around. I doubt I would ever make bread the old fashioned way nowadays because I never seem to get a free afternoon, and I can put the bread on, go for a swim and then visit my mum and come home to the finished loaf. How good is that eh? Thanks for reading and I hope it will help some to make the decision of whether they want and would use one of these or not. This review is also posted on ciao, I have made a few adjustments but basically it is the same and is posted under the same name that I use here. Sue

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                    • Nivea Hand Cream / Hand & Nail Care / 63 Readings / 60 Ratings
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                      23.01.2006 13:20
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                      Absorbs quite well, keeps hands soft.

                      Nivea comes from the Latin word nivius which means "snow-white. Hands are the things that live on the end of our arms, and need looking after because if the skin gets dry and there are sore patches then doing almost anything is a pain. If you have ever had a tiny cut on the end of a finger you will realise how much it hurts/stings and affects your life. A little of the story of Nivea. Nivea began long ago in 1911 with the discovery of Eucerit, this was the first ever water in oil emulsifier and the discovery changed the way cosmetics and creams were made. This made if possible to make a cream that wasn't just oil that was stable and well mixed. I don't pretend to understand a lot about this but I do understand a little about the creams I apply to my face, hands and body and how they feel and how they work. I am not going to write the whole Nivea story here but it really is interesting so if anyone wants a look at their website to read it for themselves I include the web address. It is a good website which includes the history of Nivea, loads of information about skin care and there are fun things to do as well so really worth browsing. http://www.nivea.co.uk/frameset.php Today I am reviewing Nivea Hand Nourishing Cream because this time of year more than any other hands take a beating. Cold weather, chilly winds equal chapped hands, dry skin and flaky cuticles. Also if like me you go into the garden and get dirt under your nails and then come in and scrub them to get them clean you will need to nourish the skin otherwise all the above problems will happen and your hands will be sore. What to do to minimise these problems? Protect your hands, moisturise your hands, keep your hands warm and keep them dry. When you wash your hands or wash up dry thoroughly otherwise if you go outside with slightly damp hands the skin will chap in our chilly winds. Weather plays a large part in how our skin is. Sun dries out the skin and water dries out the skin so the best thing to do is apply hand cream regularly and often during the day. My tip is to keep hand cream by the sink, by the basin in the bathroom and keep a tube in your pocket or handbag to use when at work or out. If you see the tube of cream around all the time it will remind you to put some on and keep your hands soft and the skin supple. So which one? There are literally hundreds of hand creams on the market, from the supermarket own brands, to the most expensive named ones. One I am using at the moment and thinking that it works and makes my hands feel good is Nivea Hand Nourishing Cream. Where do I buy this? Well, any large supermarket stocks this, lots of independent chemists stock this also so it is easy to go out and buy a tube. How much does it cost? My nearest supermarket has it for £2.49 a 100ml tube at the moment. Sometimes Boots do three for two offers on ranges so it would be worth looking out for. The local chemist is a little more expensive but not much, no more than the extra petrol you might use driving out of town to a large supermarket anyway. What's it like then? Nivea is a well known name and the distinctive navy and white tubes are fairly easy to spot on the shelves of any shop. The tube is white and the writing is navy, so it the cap. The words are printed clearly and under the name it says this will restore lost moisture and nourish dry cuticles. Well, almost any cream will do that so what is special about this one? I can remember having a tub of Nivea cream around when I was a child, in those days it came in a royal blue tub with a twist off lid. The smell is what I remember most about Nivea, not flowery, not sharp, just a rich creamy smell with a hint of fragrance. This isn't overpowering so it can be used and then forgotten while perfumes of choice can be used to make us feel nice and attractive. The back of the tube says it is a rich cream that is quickly absorbed and if you use if daily it will improve the elasticity of the skin which in turn will make the hands and cuticles smooth and supple. The tube also tells us that is has ceramides, a vitamin-complex (although not which complex) and it contains the oil of my favourite nuts; Macadamia, well I never knew that, so you learn something every day. The list of ingredients are on the back of the tube for anyone with very good eyesight or a good magnifying glass, I can just about make out what they are in my reading glasses but wouldn't want to read the list completely. The tubes in the shops are 100ml but there are also holiday tubes of 30ml and mine cost 59p and is the perfect size to pack when travelling or keep in a bag to carry with you wherever you go. My opinion of this is good, the cream is rich and is quite quickly absorbed, it leaves my hands very slightly greasy feeling, nothing to worry me but just enough to stop me being able to undo tops of jars or bottles soon after putting my hand cream on. A 100ml tube will last me between three and five weeks depending on how often I use it. The 30ml tube should last a weeks holiday when I am using sun creams during the day but using this night and morning after showering. I think this is pretty good value, after all £2.49 a month on average on hand cream is a lot less than I spend on sweets! Tip for men. Men get dry chapped hands too you know, so go on, buy some and try it, it should make your hands softer and less sore in the winter. My son suffers from chapped lips and will if there is nothing else available smear a little of this on his lips before going out in the winter weather. Go on, try it, it doesn't show! Thanks for reading this, I can't think of anything else to add about one of my favourite hand creams. Sue:o)

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                      • Sweet Pea / Plant / 80 Readings / 76 Ratings
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                        12.01.2006 19:19
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                        Beautifully fragranced flowers for cutting.

                        What reminds you of summer? For me one of the things that reminds me of summer are the flowers in the garden, the perfume that lingers on the air as the long days turn to dusk and a velvety night falls. I do like to be outside in the evenings watching the sun go down and the moon, sometimes a huge golden globe in the sky rise, to light the garden with little pools of brightness in the dark. One of the scents of summer for me is the very sweet perfume of Sweet Peas, or Lathyrus odoratus, to give them their proper name. So, what are they? Little round green things, eaten with a knob of butter and roast lamb on Sundays? No, 'fraid not. Sweet Peas are flowers. Lathyrus odoratus is the Latin name they are known by. They are related to the pea that we eat, the plants growing in similar conditions and similar ways. In fact, if you grow a row of peas and wander along the row when they are in flower you will get a hint of the sweet perfume they have. Sweet Peas can grow on plants up to 9 foot tall, traditionally they grow up something, clinging on with their little tendrils or trailing over something like a wall. Ten years ago I saw a wall of sweet peas growing in Corfu and the scent as I walked past was wondrous, I looked to see how they were growing and contrary to what I thought, they weren't growing from the base up the wall, clinging as they grew, they were planted along the top of the wall and trailed down the wall in a curtain of colour and scent. Nowadays you can buy bushy varieties to grow in a border or a pot on a paito, you can buy trailing varieties to grow in a hanging basket, but the ones I grow are the tall variety because I have found that these are the ones that flower best and smell sweetest. The plants themselves shoot up at a great rate in the spring given ideal conditions, they are semi hardy, I have some that self-seeded in the same place for a few years before they died out. Mostly though they need to be sown late in the autumn, to be over wintered in a sheltered spot or greenhouse or early in the spring. A warm sunny windowsill will do although if they get too much heat early in their lives they will grow tall and leggy much too soon. The leaves are fairly small, about a couple of inches long by half an inch or a little more wide. They are a mid green, verging slightly on the grey side of green so not bright or showy in themselves. The plant stems can be quite brittle and care is needed while picking the flower otherwise you could break the stem off stealing from yourself future flowers. I pick my flowers using small scissors because the flower stems can be quite tough which is when there is a danger of breaking the plant stem. I watch and wait and wonder, "Will they flower?" or "Will something eat them" or "Will we get enough rain to stop them dying?" And as spring slowly turns to summer I see the first small buds atop tall straight stems. They vary in length, I have had sweet pea flowers at the top of 12 inch stems, true and straight, and I have had some at the top of 1 inch stems, or stems that got caught up in some of the tendrils and curling all over the place. So what colour are they? Ah, I am tempted to say "sweet pea colour of course" but that wouldn't tell you much. Sweet peas come in all colours of pink and mauve and white. The white ones are beautiful, small oddly shaped flowers, often three or four on the end of a stem, although as often only one. They range from the palest pink or mauve, with just a hint of colour to the deepest, darkest, richest colours. I have had some that were red, a bright red slightly pink, but never yellow. Some are mottled or narrowly striped; some are a colour with a different coloured edge to each petal. Some are just a clear flat colour but no less beautiful for that. So, here we have a tower of greeny grey leaves climbing merrily up the wood and string that I made my frame out of, and standing up are some stalks with little buds on the top, and one day I see some colour, pale pink, as the petals open. For me it always seems to be the pale pink ones that flower first of all. Each individual flower has a couple of standard petals, which are rounded, a couple of wing petals that stand out sideways below the standard petals and a keel petal which is a little petal that sticks out below the wing petals, making them one of the more unusual shaped flowers around. The perfume. Ahh… The perfume. Pick a bunch of sweet peas and put them in your room, go out for a few minutes and I can almost guarantee that when you re enter you will smell the flowers, they will scent a whole family sized room, not strong but very sweet and pleasant. Hold the bunch to your nose and inhale deeply and be overwhelmed by the perfume that attacks the senses. It is fairly strong, fairly sweet, quite pungent, and very unusual. Along with the sweetness there seems to me to be an almost nutty tone to them. If you have ever been tempted by a sweet pea fragranced room spray or eau de toilette to spray on your body and thought it was exactly like what you would expect sweet peas to smell like, then you are wrong. Sweet peas have a very individual perfume and no make of scent or room spray I have tried out have come anywhere near. In the deep dark winter there are many things that remind me of sweet peas, but once they open their petals and emit their beautiful fragrance I realise that nothing really comes close. So, where and how to grow them? I have seen sweet peas in Spain, Corfu, and of course in the British Isles. They grow in the middle of the country and they grow in the south, I am not sure they would grow well in the far north reaches of Scotland, but I might be wrong. Sow the seeds either in November or February, inside, in pots or outside in a sheltered position. I grow mine in very tall flower pots during the winter and plant them out at the end of April, these dates would need to be adjusted though the further up the country you live. Or you can sow directly into the soil where they are going to stay for the summer, this is a very good way of sowing them and not having the bother of raising them indoors which gives brilliant results if a little later. I live on the south coast near the sea where we rarely get frosts in winter anymore, and a few years mine haven't died down completely and grown up again in spring, this doesn't happen often though, so they should be considered an annual and more sown each year. Tips: Dig deep, and add any enriching material you can find to the planting place. Newspapers to conserve moisture, rotted manure or mushroom compost, compost from the bottom of last years bin. They like a sunny place but enjoy some moisture at the roots. They don't like it to be too windy because they grow pretty tall. I put up a wooden frame in the spring and twined old string round it, something for the little tendrils to grab and wind round as they grow. Bamboo canes are good, but too slippery alone so once again add some string, pea sticks if you can get them are brilliant or there is netting especially for peas and sweet peas to grow up. If you add too much fertiliser you will get loads of lovely green leaves but not many flowers. I sow a couple or more varieties because that gives lots of different colours, shades and markings as well as a slightly longer flowering season. Once flowering starts, pick, pick and pick again, once the flowers start to go to seed the plants will give up trying to re produce themselves and there will be no more flowers. So there we have, our bunch of beautifully coloured flowers, scenting the air around us, the perfect gift for anyone around. I pick mine about every three days and take a bunch round to my mum, they are her favourite flowers and I hope to keep her in sweet peas until the autumn. As cut flowers, in water, they don't last very long. Two or three days sees the best of them and after the first day the perfume abates and you no longer notice it when entering the room although there is a little left if you get close and smell the bunch. One of my favourite flowers, but then I have so many, sweet peas come fairly near the top of the list. Thanks for reading, Sue:0)

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                        • More +
                          10.01.2006 18:40
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                          Cleaning carpets quickly and simply.

                          A little over 2 years ago I had no money to spend on gadgets and rather grubby looking carpets. I was feeling very hard done by and wanted to do something about the carpets. Buying new ones was out of the question, but we had had a very wet winter and also shortly before that aquired an extra dog, so where one dog bringing muddy paws inside every time she went round the garden I could cope with two was one too many. Apart from the look of the carpets our house was begining to smell a little like a kennels. Now I know I could wash the dog's feet, brush them til they gleamed daily, and used carpet freshening powder each time I vacuumed but even that didn't solve the problem of the grubbiness that I already had. I did what I usually do when feeling down, I browsed the internet, looked on the Lxdirect site, and then talked a lot about why I really needed one of these. After a couple of days I decided that I couldn't live without one and ordered it on my account. I know I could have got a similar model cheaper, or waited for the sales in the shops, but once I decide I need something I have to buy it there and then. Delivery was quite quick, I have had a look and now they are selling them for £194.54 and offer a three week delivery. ***************************************************************** And the Box arrived. First thing one morning on my day off, I opened it, I always have trouble opening large boxes so a sharp knife was involved with this task. I got it out and proceeded to put it together. There is a large piece of paper inside the box with picture instructions of how to do this. I followed them pretty much to the letter until it came to two large screws to hold the hose and toolholder onto the body of the machine. I didn't have a screwdriver so used a round ended knife for this job, it didn't work very well and sometime later these screws fell out and I haven't a clue where they are now but it hasn't fallen to bits yet! I had a look at the instructions, which told me to locate the water holder. This has a sort of soft inner bladder and a hard outer shaped plastic box. Both of these are opaque so you can see how much water you put inside and when emptying you can see how much and how dirty the water is. Then you fill the shampoo container and put it in place, fill the inner bladder with tap hot water and fix the lid on. This is a bit fiddly at first because the handle is what holds the lid on, so upright and you can lift it but flat and the lid falls off easily. Put that in place, plug it in and turn it on. There is a button at the back to switch the machine on. A light on the front tells you it is heating the water to the correct temperature, I think you should leave it running for a few minutes before starting your shampooing, but as out tap water is pretty hot I never bother waiting, I am an impatient soul. ****************************************************************** On the back of the handle there is a lever which you press to start the water and shampoo mix spraying onto the carpet. You just have to hold the lever on and push it across the carpet, backwards and forwards while it sprays the carpet with hot sudsy water and the underneath brush brushes the carpet dislodging the dirt. Once you have washed a patch you can let go of the lever and use it just like an ordinary upright vaccuum cleaner and it sucks up the dirty water leaving the carpet damp but not soaking wet. Once the inner bladder of clean warm water is empty and the outer container is full of warm dirty water it stops working and you need to empty the dirty water out and start afresh with clean water. The way you know it is full is because on top of the base of the machine there is a screw top which is clear and inside this there is a red float that twirls round and round. When this float stops twirling it means that it is no longer spraying out water and shampoo and needs emptying. **************************************************************** So, I cleaned my carpets, looked in wonder at the colours that they were, they really had got very dull and grubby looking. I took the machine round to my mums one morning and shampooed all of the carpets in her small bungalow and then my son's partner asked if she could borrow it to clean hers. I was happy for her to do so but had run out of the Bissell shampoo. She had some of another make left over in her cupboard and used this instead. Now, the paperwork says to only use Bissell or it would invalidate the guarrentee. They also state that any other make could cause damage but we thought they would all be similar and it would work just as well. We actually thought that as a bottle of the Bissell shampoo is over a fiver then it was a sales thing and they wanted out money instead of us getting a cheaper make. How wrong were we. The next time I used the Bissell it didn't work at all well and I couldn't understand why, very quickly the spinning float didn't spin and the shampooer didn't shampoo. I took it apart and found that the clean water from the inner bladder had leaked into the outer container indicating to the float that it was full. I emptied this and saw a sort of melted hole in the inner bladder. Now, I am not one hundred per cent sure that the other make of shampoo did this but I guessed that was probably what happened. I was very upset, I hadn't had it long and it was quite a bit of money, and now it was broke. I looked on the Bissell site and found a place where you can order spare parts so for not too much money I ordered a new water container. That came free of post in a couple of days so top marks for Bissell's after sales service. I didn't call out their maintenance engineer purely because I knew we had violated the guarrentee by using the other shampoo and didn't want a huge bill. ***************************************************************** The details, I have copied below from the website and am happy to say they are truthful ones with little sales pitch involved, what they say is what they do. deep cleaner £194.54 Deep cleans ground-in dirt and grooms carpets. Ideal for pet hairs. 1400 watts. Compact, easy-to-use and to empty tank-in-tank. Heated solution deep cleaner for carpets, stains and upholstery. Ready tools switch instantly converts to tools and carpet pre-treat. Carpet shampoo. 35ft power cord. 8ft long reach hose. Weight 10.8kg. 2-year guarantee. (This is not a vacuum). Dark-blue. BISSELL helpline: 0870 225 0109. ************************************************************** The disadvantages. It is quite large and I don't have huge amounts of storage space, but it fits behind my vaccuum cleaner. It is quite heavy at over 10Kg. and I wouldn't want to carry it far although have loaded it into my car to take to mums when I did hers, it is heavier than the average upright vaccuum. It is a bit temperamental, sometimes it will clean and brush and suck until the inner bladder is empty and the outer container is full of dirty water and sometimes it will give up before the inner one is half empty necessitating emptying it before it should be needed. Most of the time though it is fine. It is quite noisy but no noisier than most upright cleaners. ***************************************************************** The advantages. These are many. It really does clean deep down, this morning I did the carpets in our bungalow, this job only took just over an hour, so quite quick too. First I vaccuumed and the carpets looked clean with no loose bits of dirt and no visible dog hairs or fluff. Once I have cleaned the carpets with the Bissell I have two large handfulls of fluff that this machine had picked up and once the carpets are completely dry I will vaccuum again and know from past experience what I get in my vaccuum cleaner will be very fine dust which is the last bit of dirt left. My house smells nice and slightly lemony fresh, and I am happy for my grandchildren to get down on their hands and knees and play knowing that the carpets are as clean and hygienic as I can make them. Best of all is the doggy smell I got this morning when I sat on the floor is gone for now and I can do this job every so often to keep it away. That is about all I can think of, my carpets are dry and it is time to run the vaccuum over it and go out. Thanks for reading Sue

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                          • Dyson DC07 Allergy / Vacuum Cleaner / 75 Readings / 69 Ratings
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                            29.12.2005 21:10
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                            good suction, easy to empty, nice machine

                            I have had my DC07 allergy for over a year now and in this house of two hairy dogs and four toddler grandchildren it earns it's keep. I bought mine from Currys, it was just over £200.00 but with the advent of the next generation Dysons the price has dropped and now I believe you can get this one for about £189.00. Once I had struggled home with the long and quite heavy box I got it open and assembled the vacuumm cleaner in minutes. It consisted of a hose, a base and handle and the dust cannister. Most people will have heard of the Dyson Cyclone Technology that makes these vaccum cleaners work well with no loss of suction. I don't pretend to understand how they work but I put mine to the test and was immediately impressed at how fresh and clean the carpet looked and how full of dust the cannister was. The dust in the cannister contains large bits of fluff, dog hairs, long ones, smaller dust particles and very fine dust particles. I can vacuum the sitting room and dining room/conservatory and just about fill the cannister with a mixture of the above. The Dyson DC07 Allergy has lifetime HEPA filters. This means that anyone suffering from Asthma or related breathing problems using this vacuum regularly should notice an ease of breathing. My sister in law suffers from allergy to pet hair and dust, since using my Dyson she has suffered less when visiting us so I do believe that it makes a difference. Dyson do claim that it filters cigarette smoke from the air, I can't comment on that but I do like to open all the doors and windows and vacuum, the house always feels so much fresher afterwards. This Dyson DC07 allergy has a reversible wand, you can take the wand right out of the hose and reverse it, this makes for easier cleaning of stairs and corners like the bit under the radiator. It also has an adjustable brush height, and as I found out recently the brush can be turned off completely. The dust bin/cannister is clear so you can see when it needs emptying, it is really simple and easy to empty also, just push a knob and it unhooks from the body of the vacuum and then once standing with it over a black sack or similar there is a hook lever to pull up and the base opens and out falls the dust and stuff. I generally give mine a little tap on the side of the wall so that even more dust is dislodged and falls out as well. The amount you can get in the bin before you need to empty it is 3.5ltr. which is pretty generous. I am lucky in that I don't have to lift it up or down stairs but it seems to be easy enough to lift over door sills or steps. Not the heaviest vacuum that I have used. The good bits for me: It is simple to use, easy to manouvre around the house, brushes up the carpets beautifully and seems to suck all the dirt and dust out of them. I also like to see how much dirt and dust I have vacummed up and do like the simple way of emptying it, I always empty the vacumm after every use because I don't like to see it sitting there. I like the hose/wand bit, I have used it to vacuum the car out several times but it isn't the easiest one around for that job. The motor seems to be going well after the use this had had from me, suction is pretty strong and impresses anyone who is around when I show them how good it is. Noise levels I would describe as medium for an upright vacuum, I have used louder ones and some that were quieter but didn't do the job as well. It has a nice long cord 8.2 metres, I can go from the front to the back (just about) of the house without having to change plugs. It has lifetime washable filter which I tend to wash it about once a month, you can unclip the cover and see if the filter needs a rinse round in warm water to clean it or not, another simple way of keeping your Dyson in clean and tip top condition. All in all, I am pleased I bought the Dyson DC07 and there doesn't seem to be any loss in suction in the time I have been using it. Little niggles: Firstly the brush. I am not sure if it is my dog alone or if this is something that happens a lot with Dyson uprights. the brushes clog with the longer dogs hairs and other odd bits that get twined round it. Most weeks I sit on the floor and unclog it. I can't remember doing this that often before I bought the Dyson so am thinking that I didn't have this problem with my last vacuum. When using the wand and hose to clean out those corners like the one behind the television the hose does kink by the wand so needs a second hand to hold it straight, this may be me but it is something that I haven't noticed on other models before either. Not much else wrong with it though and my little granddaughter has a child sized model that hums and buzzes and doesn't do much good, but at least we can share this one chore that needs doing most days. Hope this has been useful to some. Sue

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                              16.12.2005 00:42
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                              Another year has gone by and the game is still played so 5 stars for durability

                              This toy will keep them amused for hours. This is going to be a fairly short review, toys aren't my thing really, but I thought I would spread the word about this toy we bought from the Early Learning Centre four weeks before Christmas 2004 Why did we buy this? My daughter was down with her little 20 month old daughter, all the toys we had at our house were getting too young for the grand littles, so I wanted to buy something to keep them amused until Christmas arrived with a whole new lot of things to play with. Where did we shop to get it? My daughter said it wasn't long to wait, but when we went to the Early Learning Centre, we saw this toy and my daughter got all excited! She said it was one toy at the Toy Library where she took her little one that was always booked out to borrow and the one toy that always had a queue of little ones waiting their turn. So we duly bought it and brought it home. My daughter couldn't wait to open the box and set it up. This took a matter of seconds because this toy has no batteries and no complicated parts to it. What is it? If you look at the picture you can see it consists of two wooden uprights with four wooden slanted tracks joined between them. There are four little cars that go with this track, each a different colour, red, blue, yellow and green. The idea is you set the car off at the top and it runs down the track, changing direction as it reaches the end of each piece of track. As it changes direction it makes a click clack sound, hence the name. So, what happened next? My daughter played with this, she is 30 years old, but sat on the floor sending the cars down the track, watched avidly by my grand daughter, who soon got the hang of it, and played with it until bed time, then on and off all the next day before they went home. I had a go, if you load the cars very fast and re load them as soon as they hit the ground you can get perpetual motion and it is rather fun to see if you can get them all moving along the track at the same time but in different places. My husband came home from work, had a look at it and sat on the floor sending the little wooden cars whizzing down the track. My son in law even had a few goes. So I was feeling really pleased with myself because it was money well spent and a success. But what about the boys? A week later, after my daughters family had gone home I had my sons family to visit. They consist of, my son and his partner, my grandson 22 months and the youngest grandson 7 months. The older one made a bee line for this toy when they first got here and played nicely for ages, he took a while to get the hang of it and kept putting the cars upsidedown so they got stuck, but he really did play well and quietly for ages. The little one sat and watched the cars, reaching out for them as they got to the bottom and rolled across the carpet a little way. My sons partner has an older son who is 12 years, he came round early in the morning one day and also seemed to enjoy sending the cars down the track. Being a typical lad he blocked the turns up and generally made things come to a halt, then I noticed he was sending the cars down, one at a time and measuring how far they rolled along the carpet, chatting to the little one all the time and explaining to him that the red car must have been the fastest because it travelled the furthest, and so on. An early science lesson about speed and travel and stuff. It kept him amused for about an hour which also kept the two little ones amused. My son has been known to come round with the little boys and sit on the floor for ages playing with our click clack track. I can't believe something so simple keeps so many people of different ages amused for so long. I am really glad I bought this. So, how much was it? £12.50 from the Early Learning Centre. I have included the link to their site below because it is such a good site with so many great ideas for keeping little ones amused while they learn through play. http://www.elc.co.uk/KeywordSearch.do?keyword=click+clack+track There is a click clack catapillar for £20 which is more brightly coloured, but I like wooden toys and the one we have has been real value for money. And that is the end of my review, this toy is simple, brightly coloured, wooden and mesmerising for little ones, boys or girls, and older ones, boys or girls alike. I am really glad I bought it. I am already adding an update. No not something I forgot, but something I have learned from the people who have read this already. So, thanks to sandemp, I will add this interesting fact. Occupational Therapists will recommend this for children with delayed learning to help them to track. This is a fascinating fact for me because of working with people who have learning difficulties and ones sandemp had mentioned this I realised how helpful it could be. So, I want to say a big thank you for telling me that. Thanks for reading this review Sue

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                              • Samsung SGH-E310 / Mobile Phone / 70 Readings / 66 Ratings
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                                24.11.2005 21:43
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                                Flip phone, easy to use, takes pictures, plays nice tunes.

                                This years phone is a Samsung. I wanted a flip phone, I wanted to take photos (goodness knows why, I have a great camera) and I wanted one that looked good! Not for me a phone that I knew how to use, but never mind, I can learn anything. It turned up one day and I excitedly opened the box and plugged it in to charge it. I read through the instruction booklet which is easy to read, all in English and with clear instructions. I inserted the battery, and transferred my sim card from my old phone. I had a look at all the different funcions and found my phone book, which surprisingly was full of all the phone numbers that I had stored on the sim card, clever eh? On the front of the phone the display shows the time, the date, the level of battery left, the service level which disappears if you go out of range and there is a little icon if you have set the alarm or put it on silent mode. there is a small button on each side, one lights up the display when closed and adjusts the in call volume when in use. The other works the camera while the phone is closed, this takes photos that face the front of the phone, that means you can take pics of yourself, I have tried this and believe me they aren't flattering, I won't do that again. When you open the phone the screen lights up and you can play around with the menus and find out where things are just like I did. It has all the usual things, text messages, tunes/tones, games, internet browsing, takes photos and short videos with sound, it has a calculator and a calendar, you can set reminders for appointments and there is a currency converter which is great when you are in a different country and to top the lot it makes and receives phone calls. You can change the settings, change the wallpaper that shows when the phone is idle, change the way the displays show and change the time and date if needed.There is network selection and security settings here too.There is also a voice recorder, not sure why you would want to record your voice but no matter, maybe to record an answerphone message. This is a neat little phone, smaller than any I have had before and I found the buttons just a little close together, but I soon got used to them. Mine is silver in colour with a navy blue facia. I have used this phone now for almost a year and have got used to having it with me, at work I can put it on silent mode and pop it in my pocket and forget all about it until it is time to go home, then I can check if anyone has called or sent me a message. The messages can be sent as sms's, which are ordinary text messages, they can also be sent as picture messages and postcard messages, so lots of choice. I use the alarm when I am working early shifts and it is loud enough to wake me quickly, although I will say some of the tunes can be annoying first thing in the morning. When talking on the phone I can adjust the volume if I need to depending on the level of background noise, this is useful if the phone rings in a crowded place. Browsing the internet is fun and can be good for finding travel problems out before you go anywhere. There are plenty of settings for browsing the internet, you can also play online simple games, download ringtones and pictures, catch the news and send emails. It is possible to email my photos to my computer, I haven't bothered with this yet but may before I change my phone again. The camera is pretty good, it take photos at VGA (640x480) and they are clear enough to look at or have as your display, there are various settings on the camera like changing the tone of the picture or adding a frame. The battery lasts a few days if I don't use the phone much, I tend to plug it in most nights even though the battery lasts much longer. Taking pictures or playing games takes a lot of battery. This phone came with a battery, charger, car charger, and instruction book, no fancy extras like in car hands free set, but enough for me. I have this phone on a monthly contract so didn't pay for it, I got it as part of an upgrade. I can't find a price in all the usual places on the internet probably because most phones come as part of a package nowadays. I have dropped the phone a few times and it still works fine, so fairly shock proof. It isn't waterproof though, so don't drop it in water or it won't work any more. I hope this review is helpful or useful to someone. Thanks for reading, Sue

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                                  12.11.2005 22:20
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                                  Quick to start taking photos. Easy to use and looks good.

                                  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- About seventeen months ago we found ourselves in Gibralta,we had been cruising the Med and were on our way home, it is only a small place and we had done the sights before so went shopping.... Look what I bought for nearly three hundred pounds! And just to make sure you understand, I don't regret it a bit. A chunky, becautiful camera, with 4megapixels and slr capabilities. It has a zoom, it has so many settings that it took me almost a year to work some of them out. We went back to the ship, put the batteries on charge and while hubby dozed on his bunk I opened the box..... Oh, what a lovely chunky camera, what a lot of buttons, what a little instruction booklet, and what a lot of languages it is written in. First a welcome, then a quick start guide, then the settings in more depth. Eventually there was charge in the batteries, I always use rechargables nowadays because even the camera special power ones which cost a fortune only take a few photos before they give up and go to sleep. I raced round the ship and snapped as I went, thought I would worry about all the settings later, just wanted to see what the pics were like. Lets look at the camera itself. It has an Olympus Lens, AF zoom 6.5 - 19.5mm 1:2:8. I only know that this means the lens zooms out x 3 times if I turn the right button. This is a little button on the top at the front, it turns to zoom in and out and you press it to take a photo. It has an inbuilt flash which you can set to manual, automatic or turn off. There is red eye reduction too which is brilliant to use for indoor photos. On the top behind the zoom/take knob, is the Power/mode dial This has five settings. Turn it left once and you can view on the back screen the photos that are in the camera. These can be viewed one at a time, zoomed in and out to look more closely or you can look at all of them together on the one screen although this makes them so small you can hardly see what you have taken. The next setting is off, and if you forget to turn it off eventually it turns itself off for you although it takes a while and uses up battery power while doing so. The next setting is P. this is an automatic setting and you can set it anyway you like while taking photos, but it does re set on turning off/on again. This setting lets the camera choose what to use for the light conditions. It automatically focuses on something in the centre of the picture although can be set for multiple focus as well. Next we have A/S/M/(my). This is the setting to play with for different effects, different sized (by pixel) photos, different colour/black & white/sepia modes. This is a good place to experiment and play, you can even set it to take self photos, point the camera at yourself and click. But I don't recommend this unless you are really happy with what you look like close up, I got some truely awful photos of myself with double chin and every blemish showing. You can choose four different settings here and store them in (my) favourites, eliminating the need to keep re setting the camera according to weather conditions. At the top. Last but not least s-prg and a little picture of a camcorder. Here the camera will shoot short films without sound. I don't use this myself as I have a perfectly good digital camcorder, but my daughter uses it on her camera and frequently sends me short films of my granddaughter. The back of the camera looks somewhat complicated, but once you know what these buttons mean it is quite easy really. Top little button is the dustbin one to delete any photos you don't want to print. Below that is a print order button and one for changing from distance to close up. To the right are four direction buttons. These scroll through the various menus on the screen. Below is an ok button to press once you have set it the way you want to. Below that the quick view button to view you photos as you take them Below that is the lock button, a tip, don't lock your photos up unless you know how to unlock them when you want. A very good button this though if like me you have little ones who sometimes play and press all the buttons just to see what happens, it stops them deleting precious memories. Now, the photos! What are they like?? Oh beautiful, I print A4 with no borders and with this camera I get no pixelation at all, just clear, sharp prints. I take loads of photos, I take the work photos of staff and residents, I also have compiled a pictorial menu for work, so that is a lot I can tell you. I use my camera almost daily and as this is my third digital camera I can honestly say it was worth the money. Now, there are five and six megapixel cameras around and I am sure their photos are even clearer and sharper, but for the moment I am totally happy with mine. It comes with a 16mb card to store the pics on. I usually set it to take about 20 at a time because this gives those big clear photos, but it can be set from one to about a hundred, depending what you want to do with them. It has a nice LCD screen on the back, you can either use this to see what you are taking or look through the viewfinder just like any camera. It comes with a carrying strap, but not it's own case. This is a shame because they are expensive and to keep it in pristine condition it is best to buy one. I bought one that has space to store spare batteries and card, but don't always use it. I have left out a lot of the technical details here because I don't really understand them. I just know that this is a great camera that I enjoy using and is fairly simple to use once you know a bit about the settings. I have looked on the net and all the obvious shops don't seem to stock this camera, I did find it at Kellco though at £282 + £7.99 p&p. so have included the link below. http://digitalcameras.kelkoo.co.uk/b/a/sbs/124901/318069.html I almost forgot the software package that came with it. Well, I have Camedia 4.5 I think but never use it, I used it with my last camera which was an older model camedia and it was totally crap. It does all the usual things like crop and edit and change the colours and correct the light etc. but saves them I am not sure where and they don't open in any other software package. I am sure if I had spent time learning how to use this software properly it would have been ok but after losing a few photos I went back to the software that I have always used. Maybe I will review that one one day. Thanks for reading this. Sue xx

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