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I can't believe I'm about to wax lyrical about a disinfectant !
Introduced this little bottle of magic by my OCD suffering neighbour some 12 years ago after my then 3 year old son had a bout of travel sickness in the car. Nothing would neutralise the odour, she offered a little glass bottle of amber liquid. She warned that a few drops would 'do it'.
Politely I took it, and adminstered what I considered to be a few drops to the back seat then rubbed in with a damp cloth. Trust me this stuff is potent. Not only did it neutralise, it invaded every pore of material ! Lasted well over a month to the point I felt sick at the intense flowery bouqet. Forget your little magic tree car feshner this is cheaper lasts longer and smells - when used with caution - delightful.
So lets move forward to this century. Gone are the days of Dettol (I can't stand the pine 'scent'. I'm sure it's a 60's 70's school toilet thing. And why pine anyway ?) You'll never find me without a store of these little beauties.
Let me explain. One it's not easy on the purse, unless you are easy on it. 120ml bottle (not plastic not glass) of Zoflora Concentrated Antibacterial Disinfectant presented in a little card box will set you back £1.13. Or 250ml of Zoflora Triple Action £2.39. They also produce a little glass bottle of 56ml. The packaging does not scream 'Look at me I'm a disinfectant'. It could be mistaken for a feminine hygiene product. It's usually a top shelf placement in the supermarkets, you won't know it's there, unless you look for it.
Fragrance wise there's not a pine cone in sight.
Bouquet, Citrus Fresh, Cool & Fresh, Flower Shop, Hyacinth, Lavendar, Lilac, Rose, Springtime, Sweetpea and Wallflower. Now not all fragrances are available in all sizes. When I get mine it's usually a pot luck situation when ordering from Tesco's online. But they are all such pleasing fragrances I don't really mind.
All the rules for using disinfectants are as usual, gloves are advisable avoid contact with polished woods etc etc.
Now note the word concentrated. Manufacturer recommend diluting one part zoflora to 40 part water. However the one thing that is to note is the manufacturers do recommend not using any other detergents or soaps with Zoflora as it reduces effectiveness. But I do add a squirt of good ol' stardrops to the mop bucket.
I have an empty spray bottle, warm water and a few drops of Zoflora, wiping over the bin lid alone sends a powerful floral scent throughout the kitchen. Can be used everywhere you use a disinfectant, and the toilet is such a better smelling place after this.
The product range now includes an Antibacterial Bin Freshening Gel and Antibacterial Spray.
For everything you want to know about this product they have a really informative website at :
All towns are diverse, a mixture of cultures, social and ethnic. Here in Bridport we have a number of names to live up to.
A market town, twice weekly the streets are lined with traders selling everything from olives and underwear to handmade furniture and dog treats.
A brewery town, home of Palmers brewery. There used to be pubs next door to pubs round here, 35 in the twon alone at one point.
A seaside holiday 'resort'. West Bay - beaches, Parkdean holiday park and many surrounding guest houses, hotels and fields for you strong willed campers !
Recently we have been labelled as Notting Hill by Sea. Mmmm caused a bit of debate that one. Added to that we do have a large elderly contingent, and hundreds of little villages dotted around the outlying rural areas.
What I'm trying to sat about this town is we have many markets to cater for. So when it comes to eating out in these parts we should have a diverse choice.
Well we do, and that's where the Bull Hotel makes it mark. Please not this review based purely on the restaurant and food not on accomodation, that I'm told is an experience in itself.
An imposing yet impressive slate blue and white building that you can't fail to miss as you drive through the usually busy town centre. The history of it is long and interesting. Been a venue of many events in my personal life, but I won't bore you with those.
So what of my experience(s) under the current management. Well I believe they took charge of this somewhat then downtrodden 17th century coaching inn in 2006. And have transformed it into an attractive and ambient place to be.
Our most recent visits are the ones I shall refer to, as we have eaten three times previously under different chefs in 2006 and 2008 and it was inconsistent, so we'll leave that by the by.
Easter 2009. Remember the sunshine ? Booked a table for six of us on Sunday afternoon. Walk towards the hotel and outside you see a board declaring Moules ad Frites nights, Crunch Lunch for £4.50 all beautifully drawn by someone who has the skill of blackboard drawing. If it sounds tacky, it's my description not doing it justice.
Enter the building and you'll see one of those impressive terracotta, black and white original tiled floors in the wide hall. If those tiles could talk....
You will be greeted by a beautiful smiling host at the bar. To your right the simply furnished dining area, to the left a long booth, some tasteful sofas a bar, a few tables nothing uniform or remotely chain style. But it's all aesthetically pleasing.
We are eating in the courtyard. Large comfortabe tables and chairs, huge umbrellas, shingle underfoot, greenery, hanging baskets, homemade bunting, nothing stands out it all fits together though.
On to the important stuff. Food. Two hungry teenagers, a Granddad that can match them, and three ladies that like their food.
Menus arrive quickly, freshly printed and clean. Anything laminated scares me, means the chef is stuck in a rut. Very judgemental but you know what I mean.
Now the beauty of the first side menu, two courses for £10. Starters, mains and desserts. There are alteratives, mains on the otherside are varying in price from £8.00 to £17. This is lunchtime, we're not in for the biggie so we all decided to choose from the two for £10. Only because we know between we will balance it with starters and desserts. My understanding is if you just order a main from this selection the charge is around £7 - £9. Mmm not sure that's too clear. There is a childrens menu available.
The choices. These are hard to make. The Bull's famous fish pie grabs my attention. Steak with bubble and squeak is being suggested to teenager that thinks his throat has been cut, haddock fishcake topped with a soft poached egg on a bed of spinach has been mentioned, vegetable roulade, John Dory... herb crusted lamb ...STOP ALREADY ! This is hard. (I can't recall all the possibilities but these menus won't have you reading mini biographies of each dish, they are short snappy to the point with minimum but effective descriptions.)
Anyway, with our orders for the main course taken the general concencus is that tapas should be ordered along with garlic bread starters and olives. Always there are olives ! A wonderful array of small stuffed peppers, a spicy dipping sauce, olives, breads and more delights arrived on wooden slabs that didn't invade the space between us.
The waiting staff are attentive, polite and nothing is too much trouble. Our orders of fishcakes, steak, Jon Dory with pea puree, bowls full of of thick handcut chips, arrive quickly. It's all good. The table falls quiet. A good sign.
All that remains afterwards are three or four chips that even teenager who eats can't finish. Another good sign.
So what now ? Up and leave ? In this family, I think not. after what seems a suitable period, the menus are returned. I know whats going to happen now, nobody really needs to look, mainly because they already looked earlier on.
Chocolate Fondant. Four of them, take longer to cook than to eat. There is no sharing here, not a chance.
This whole ritual takes around 2 hours, it's relaxing, perfectly timed and a wonderful afternoon spent with family. You could actually believe you were in a different country at times. All so civilised. Highly enjoyable.
We have returned twice this Summer, because it is a nice place to be. One weekend we attended the BBQ menu, this was post school holidays and all was quiet. Live music from a local guitarist. The BBQ was literally amazing, cooked to order in the courtyard.
Sea Trout, steaks, pork skewers, mackerel all served with the best coleslaw I've ever tasted, potato salads, green salads, just awesome. In fact I've only just started eating again.
Last week we attempted a Sunday Roast. Nice, didn't quite hit the mark as well as the other occasions but it won't put us off.
I'd recommend the Crunch Lunch. £4.50 for a such dishes as haddock goujons or local sausages, mash, onion gravy. It is forever changing.
If you are ever in the area....
I am easily led. A discussion on a baking and foodie forum led to the purchase of one of these. How can a forum evoke such a purchase ? Because these aren't cheap.
Well here's the justification.
Electricity bill last Summer the please pay was three figures that I'm lucky to see on my payslip! I received an energy monitor and became totally anal about what was using what. The biggest culprit ? The fan oven. The amount of kilowatts being used resembled the three figures on the bill.
Read a few reviews, found some blogs, saw some amazing food. The selling point was the saving on electric for me. It's a 650w mini oven. That's at least half of my fan oven.
Off to Lakeland as I couldn't find anything on ebay apart from the cookbook.
As I say they are not cheap. £107 for the Grand, £88 for the standard! By my working it would pay for itself in a year, and I'm pleased to say it has.
So what exactly is it ? This description pertains to the Grand. Hard to describe. Imagine a large round non stick cake tin over a foot in diameter, 4 inches deep. Put it on a four legged metal stand so it's raised about 4 inches off the surface. On top of the cake tin fit a large lid similar to a frying pan in that it has a handle sticking out. The electrical cord leads from the end of the handle. This lid is heavy, all the elements are inside, this is the source of the heat. The one on/off switch is on the handle. Circular window in the top of the lid, supposedly for viewing. Safe to say it's not the most beautiful of kitchen appliances.
Where did it come from, what's it origins? Surprisingly it's a pre second world war gadget from the Czech Republic. It's very popular with the caravanners of the world, this scares me a bit, I'll reveal why later.
So I opt for the grand because said forum are raving about roast chicken in it. I'm nothing if not consistent. Sunday usually involves a roast chicken, find it the most economical meal of the week. Seems the standard remoska may be a bit of a squeeze.
It arrives. Trusty Lakeland have exclusive rights to this cooker, and within 48 hours it's on my kitchen worktop. No that's not quite true. It takes over my kitchen. It is big, bulky and cumbersome. Included is a neat little recipe book, with simple instructions and warnings about the lid.
What can you do with it ? Everything ! Seriously. It may look like some thing out of the 50's it may have a lot to be desired in the design and handling but it delivers. Because it has one setting a temperature of 180 degrees there's no adjusting, faffing about. All the heat is delivered from lid down, it distributes the heat through the base pan so the whole thing heats up and cooks.
You shouldn't pre heat the remoska, switching it on empty is not advisable. So my first attempt is two homemade steak pies. Just put them in and leave for 30 minutes I thought. Wrong ! Within 25 minutes they would have been done, I just caught them. This thing really heats up fast.
This presents me with first battle with the lid. You lift it up and there in your hand is a heavy circle of heat, this thing can do damage, where to put it whilst I attend to the food. I opt for the hob, turn the lid upside down so heated side is facing up. It rests on it's handle stand devised for this purpose, but is still incredibly dangerous. Hence my concern at the use of this in a caravan. Perhaps the Grand would be too big for a caravan. It's just the lid is so hot and heavy balancing it in such a restricted area...
On the Sunday I attempt the roast chicken. Everything I've heard is true, the chicken remains moist, but beautifully browned. I didn't do roasties that day, there is a lot of discussion about the roast potato in a moska. I have since tried it, wasn't impressed. Roast vegetables ? Perfect. And if you purchase the rack that sits in the pan, you can put foiled salmon, or chicken breasts in with it making a one pot meal.
Other successes. Toad in the hole - the yorkshire batter rises like a dream. Cauliflower cheese. Foiled whole fish, baked potatoes, even pizzas.
But the familys favourite has to be a form of hot pot. Any meat base ie cottage pie, beef stew, chicken casserole with vegetables, brown, season, add stock whatever on the hob. Put in the remoska, top with sliced potatoes touch of butter and seasoning. The get a round shape of foil to cover loosely for an hour. Last 20 minutes take it off to brown. There is never any left. Pasta bakes - just too easy.
Sweet tooth ? Well my cake making leaves a lot to be desired, my 12 year old son is a whole lot better than me, but even I can make moist sponges in this. Either use the whole pan or a cake tin. Again use the foil, the top browns very quickly.
Flap Jacks, superb. No sticking or greaseproof paper. Apple tart tatin (takes longer to prepare than cook and eat) rice pudding and baked apples.
It's extremely versatile.
However I do have a problem with the non-stick coating. It scratches very easily. I've been advised to buy some of those silicon sheets, haven't got round to it because shopping at Lakeland is one of those Ikea things you never buy just one thing.
Cleaning, the pan fits in my dishwasher, always comes up beautifully. But the lid. Oh dear. It has a shiny stainless steel finish on the top. Well it was shiny. It is now splattered and is a devil to get these marks off. They suggest wipe clean, well there's not much else you can do considering it's the main electrical element.
Storage, mmm. Difficult. It's big and awkward. You need a decent space for it. Mines more than out than in.
I love it, it cooks beautifully. I can overlook the awkwardness of it, but if I had younger children, less space I'd be very scared !
Curry's ...Whatever Happens Insurance Policy. I'm sure there is a category slot for that one, but my point of mentioning this service is how I came about owning this beast of a fridge. A long story involving a broken TV and reading the small print I found myself in credit with Curry's to the tune of £600.
I was the unhappy owner of a tall freestanding white fridge freezer that needed regular defrosting as the fan in the freezer kept stalling and freezing. Out of warranty, no insurance on it.
The decision to buy :
I wanted the side by side design I know it's the American lifestyle thing (and watching too much MTV cribs) that attracted me, but more than that doesn't it make sense ? Previous fridge freezers I've owned have all had the standard 3 or 4 draws located under the fridge section, the top compartment opened by hinged lid or smaller draw. Am I alone in having easily breaking the draw fronts or rear catches as you pull the draw put looking for the peas?
I did my research, unfortunately Dooyoo didn't have much info on these fridges and the revoo site attached to Curry's own products was very informative. Many reviews complained the fridge was too big, freezer too small. I'll come back to that. One thing I didn't want was a drinks dispenser, which involves plumbing and something else to go wrong. By the time we hit Currys I was all genned up on twin thermostats and cubic feet.
This fridge was priced at £599 on the website, but I needed to 'see it'. I don't have a huge kitchen, and I don't have many cupboards either. I wasn't worried about the depth because it was 5 cm deeper than my old model. The interesting thing is the height. A good 10 cm shorter than my older fridge it doesn't tower over everything else.
We found it, compared it to a couple of others but were totally sold when we saw the instore price was £499. With delivery, connection and taking the old thing away I was looking at £540. I was happy.
I knew they'd have to take the doors off it to get it in, I'd read this many times. All quite simple though and reattached very quickly, 20 minutes later the silver beast was gently rumbling in it's new home.
The beauty of the beast :
The brushed silver doors with the long handles are for the show, behind the fascia the sides are a grey textured plastic, this bothers some but not me, you can't really see it. Temperature setting and indicator on the freezer door, four buttons, simples. It has castors - easy to move, and level adjustment.
The freezer :
Open this and you get the visible gentle blast of cold air. The five door compartments are surprisingly deep, easily accomodate six cones, but I find they hold the bags of vegetables well, as the products remain upright and aren't rummaged over to get to the bottom.
You have two draws at the bottom and then the wonderful ice tray. How is it wonderful ? Well I'm easily amused, but you fill the three trays up. Each one is on a swivel and spring, once frozen you twist and they fall into the tray underneath. Tray pulls out. In fact if you don't want this little effect, removed and you have another shelf.
You still have three more glass shelves to fill. Many reviews and complaints I've read suggest that things can't balance/fall out. Well if you load these shelves with awkward shaped items then yes you are going have a freezer avalanche ! The suction seals on these doors can aid any get fit regime so don't put the peas at the front on the top shelf !
I have become oh so much more efficent in my freezer house keeping. I've started batch cooking, doubling up on lasagnes etc. Any left overs are stored in those little rectangular plastic Chinese takeway containers and labelled. I can find it all,see it all and don't have anything lurking at the back for months.
The door, four deep shelves, can fit everything in there, I mean everything. Six pinters, 2 litre bottles every condiment going. Top cheese compartment with a hinged door which is easy to forget to close, you forget - you open you have flying dairy !
The main compartment. What I love about this fridge is the ability to stand wine bottles and 4 pints of milk upright in the main area. There are four shelves in total. A massive salad bin and a smaller chiller compartment which you can switch to meat or veg. Note: it's not advertised as a chiller compartment but it does the job.
Easy to clean, all shelves and compartments fit in the dishwasher. The outside brushed silver wipes beautifully. The handles are a rough texture and I admit to wiping these at every opportunity. (Boys!)
Leave the doors open for longer than a minute and you get nagged at with a series of beeps.
So some say the fridge is too big the freezer too small. I think it depends how you shop. I can fill the fridge and just top up, the length of time some products keep these days. And let's face it it's easy to fill a freezer because it doesn't have to be used immiediatly. The fridge side is at constant pecking and grazing control in this house.
Energy wise I have an energy monitor and have noticed no change in the day to day usage.
As far as insurance is concerned, after the year I've had I took LG's product insurance on this £11.10 a month for a year and it's covered until 2014, repair or replacement. I rarely do this but this was too good to miss.
I knew this would happen. I ache all over already and this game has only been in the house 24 hours. It's pure evil but I love it.
Many years ago I had a Sega Mega Drive and was - and still am - very proud of completing Grand Slam Tennis as Monica Seles. Funny how tennis a simple game can still induce the same compitive madness, the game doesn't change - the graphics and platforms do.
First please note we do have Wii Motion Plus, so this review is written with that in mind.
There are two teenage boys in this household, therefore all reading of manuals is usually left entirely down to me - and that's usually because either they become frustrated after 4 minutes of unsuccessful gameplay, or I've been thrashed and figure they know something I don't.
So they were straight into a singles exhibition match, Andy Murray vs Roger Federer. There are new and old champions to choose from Sampras, Borg and Becker to Murray, Williams and Nadal. Nobody bothered with the option to practice until a good few matches later. Which is always interesting because I feel it offers simple load and play features.
Me, I had quick run through the available practice session, because being a fan of Rockstars Table Tennis on the Wii and Wii Sports they all require different serving actions. This also includes a ball machine which is good for a warm up.
This - again like Table Tennis - has a decent sound track, bit of bass and you get a rhythm going. The ball thudding is loud but realistic, and satisfying when coupled with the striking sounds.
These are typical Wii cartoony graphics, but sometime I like the simpleness of it all. Pat Cash commentating is enough to make you smile without being intrusive or annoying. And should you upset McEnroe you'll know about it !
Upon the third time of being demolished in straight sets I decided to smuggle the booklet out and read what I was doing wrong with this Wii motion plus business.
Holding the motion plus remote does give a realism to playing this It's all in the follow through. That's your aim. It does give you the edge. Unbelievably sensitive, striking the ball after the bounce is the key (unless you are aiming for a lob or drop shot) You can move your player left and right when serving but no need to when the ball is in play. You stretch and your player will dive if need be. This is taking some mastering because other Wii games do have that couple of seconds delay.
Enough about my lack lustre tennis career. What does the game offer ? Well the speed of the singles matches were good, so doubles came up next. I'm not a fan of this real or otherwise. Didn't seem to get a chance to get involved, if there's two of you playing then the Wii is the other 50% and seems to take over in this arena.
Create a player, the usual create a look stuff, nothing too fancy, and a choice of four different skills. If you play and progress well through the ranks on Grand Slam you get to unlock various clothing and gear upgrades. As you learn and beat the legends you can also gain abilities of said superstars.
The Game Modes have something for everyone. Grand Slam - the main event. Compete in The Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open.
Pre Tournament Challenges - winn three challenges and go head to head with a legend.
Tennis Party, three different modes, seven games for up to four players. The party thing is another simple Wii delight, quick easy and everyone can get involved.
You can of course play online against friends or anyone else.We haven't ventured out there yet for fear of losing all street credibility in two minutes.
Now another interesting little feature called Get Fit. If you are anything like me and throw your complete heart and soul into this you can track how many calories you burn while playing as a created player. Another tie in to the get off the sofa directive that seems to be working.
I haven't ventured very far into many arenas as yet, the boys are really enjoying it and yes shouting at umpires, emulating McEnroe by posing in disbelief at a call, and muttering at each other. So all in all a normal day in the stickywicket household.
Tired of dried up oven chips in my fan oven, not as though they are cheap either, always take up valuable space up in the freezer. And the fan oven uses it's fare whack of electricity.
I bought this purely for the chip factor last year for just under £50. Totally aware that deep frying food is not particularly a healthy option these days though. Sometimes a little of what you fancy...
This all slots together and comes apart very easily, but securely enough to keep everything safe. Controls are simple, on off switch and temperature dial and light. No strange little symbols looking like cartoon chickens or the like. The cord tucks away in the back so it's easy to store.
Armed with a bag of desiree, 4L of sunflower oil and my potato peeler I set to work. Soaked my perfectly formed thick cut batons in water, poured 3.5L of oil into the tank, which settled the level just above minimum, and switched it on, turning the temp dial to 160 deg.
Drained and dried my raw chips, in a thick tea towel and patted dry with kitchen towel. The more surface moisture you rid the better - and safer - your deep frying experience will be. Temp light off, chips in basket and away we go. Oil bubbled up nicely - no where near the top of the tank but enough to cover the contents of the basket. There was a little steam,and not being of brand new kitchen status I don't have the luxury of an extractor - but I do have a thing called a window, which sufficed to loose any wafting smells.
Anyway 3 minutes later lift basket up allow the chips to cool and drain (in basket or on kitchen paper - I think Gary Rhodes actually puts them in the fridge for 30 minutes) for around 20 minutes (switched fryer off). Children now displaying signs of being hungry and have gathered in the kitchen attracted by different noises and smells ie the slow cooker isn't on for a change - but that's a different review.
Right last dipping for these little beauties at 190 degrees for 3 - 4 minutes or a little more depending on oil, personal preference and potato !
Once done eat immiediatly, honestly you just can't beat it. Better than chippie chips. Hot, crunchy but soft inside. There really is no other way.
Leave the fryer to cool for at least 2 hours or overnight, you can save your oil after filtering - depends what you've cooked, chicken and fish tend to leave after tastes. Because this is purely for the chip factor I tend to save my oil wash the tank (dishwasher safe) wipe the element and put it all away until the next time the chip monster calls :)
I recommend this plain and simple fryer, pretty sure that economically it uses less power than having your oven on for 40 minutes (pre heating and cooking) those strange 'oven chips'. I'm free from them !
Note : Written by me on Amazon.
Things don't change do they? I was about 6, my Dad was waxing lyrical about Frank Sinatra "Frank's the man, you know." Looking at the dog eared cover of his 33rpm vinyl. "Yeah, Yeah, whatever " I would think (or words to thay effect mid seventies speak...)If it wasn't Frank it was Elvis, if it wasn't Elvis it was Ella. So here I am 30 years later telling my 8 year old that "Frank is the man, you know" "Yeah right Mum.." he patronises. My Dad passed away 6 years ago,I inherited his beloved, well used record collection (not a CD in sight) it was Frank, Elvis, Frank, Ella, oh and a bit of Frank in there too - surprisingly. They are packaged up in the loft - with the turntable, probably never to meet again. In December last year my Granddad passed away, around the same time Robbie Williams Albert Hall concert was televised, something hit me. Nostalgia, a big old wave of nostalgia. Frank Sinatras tunes, Robbie singing his heart out..... Frank Sinatra's rich honey and gravel in the background at my grandparents as I grew up, my Dad's constant "That's not music, all sounds the same to me" as I turned Wham! up to drown him out before he started calling my beloved George Micheal a poof.. Frank had a twinkle in his eye, just like my Granddad. Suddenly all I wanted for Christmas was Frank ! And Hubby duly supplied - My Way - the best of Frank Sinatra. Sunday mornings, peeling the potatoes for Sunday roast I listen to my newfound friend belt out 'I Get a Kick Out Of You' shred the cabbage to 'I've Got You Under My Skin', slice the carrots to 'The Lady Is a Tramp' and the grand finale ? 'Come Fly With Me' prancing around the kitchen whisk for a microphone, my back up Big Band sound comes from a hysterical 5 and 8 year old, who realise now's the time to take advantage of Mum. The worst thi
ng about Frank Sinatra (and it's not his fault!) is the the time slot given to New York, New York at every wedding reception I've ever been to, groan! Coupled that with the horrendous Karoke pastime of murdering My Way, such a cruel invention the karoke, I'm happy with my whisk in the kitchen - nobody gets hurt! Frank to me is comfort music, memories of Grandparents and hot summers that seemed to last forever. The Big Band sound is big stuff again, thanks to Robbie, (and a certain car advert) but has it ever been out of fashion? The double CD album full track list: 1. My way 2. Strangers in the night 3. New York New York 4. I get a kick out of you 5. Somethin' stupid 6. Moon river 7. What now my love 8. Summer wind 9. For once in my life 10. Love and marriage 11. They can't take that away from me 12. My kind of town 13. Fly me to the moon 14. I've got you under my skin 15. Best is yet to come 16. It was a very good year 17. Come fly with me 18. That's life 19. Girl from Ipanema 20. Lady is a tramp 21. Bad bad Leroy Brown 22. Mack The Knife 23. Love's been good to me 24. LA is my lady 25. Let's face the music and dance 26. Come rain or come shine 27. Night and day 28. Very thought of you 29. Pennies from Heaven 30. Bewitched 31. America the beautiful 32. All the way 33. In the wee small hours of the morning 34. Way you look tonight 35. Three coins in the fountain 36. Softly as I leave you 37. All over nothing at all 38. Yesterday 39. Moonlight serenade 40. Somewhere my love 41. Mrs Robinson 42. Something 43. You are the sunshine of my life 44. Send in the clowns 45. It had to be you 46. Best of you Let Frank back into your life!
Well it's true isn't it? Buying your underwear at M & S you know it will cost a few pennies more but you can be sure it's good quality, well that's how I feel about BT Openworld ADSL. Being a bit of an auction addict I spend ages online buying selling creating auction ads, and although I have my trusty mobile I was missing too many important phone calls, hubby was getting cross and more importantly Big Brother was about to start... I ummed and arrhed about the cost £30 a month, £85 installation (half price if ordered before the end of May)for BT Home 500. There were cheaper deals around, Blue Yonder £13 - 3 month trial, and Freeserve were cheaper too (but I don't get on with FS!) but I really felt that BT had served me well over the last 18 months, so I took the plunge, and tried to order online. However I got stuck at one stage (trying to remember one of 1000's of passwords !)and ended up phoning the orderline. Do you know it took 4 minutes ? I was well advised about what would happen next, what to expect and what day I would have my account activated. So what do you get for £85 plus £30 a month. Well within 4 days I had parcel containing 2 ADSL filters to plug into my sockets, clear jargon free instructions and my little green smiling Spaceship ! Yes that's what I've got, a little green smiling spaceship ! It's my modem and it's so simple to install him. I was nervous on my activation date, you know, if it ain't broke etc, but I did it in a matter of minutes, software installation, reboot, connect and away you go. Fast, oh yes 4 minutes for one mp3 file ! Heaven. Pages load in seconds, emails arrive in flashes. So do I have any niggles? Yes, but they are minor. 1)First upon connecting the BT Openworld browser window sometimes takes ages to load, and can freeze,no idea why but I guess I can change that by altering my homepage. 2) Although I have a fast conn
ection, I only have a 550MHz processor, so it probably doesn't run to the speed it could. 3)Sometimes if I do disconnect during the day, and then come back to it later I have to reboot as the modem won't connect. 4)Have to have a firewall, which takes up more system resources, but better to be safe than sorry. 5)The kids have realised and that makes for more bargaining between them and me!!! Costing me a fortune in bribes. For £1 a day I'm happy with my little green spaceship !
Saturday night 8 o'clock, kids in bed, absolute tosh on the telly ('til 10 o'clock when Big Brother live task is on...!) Legally Blonde DVD is still wrapped in it's cellophane (we won it about 2 months ago) gathering dust amongst other articles of little interest. Why? Because it didn't really appeal to either of us. Pink and pretty, dizzy blonde film isn't it? Well nothing else on so let's give it a go. 1 hour and 45 minutes later, my opinion has seriously changed, a brilliant fast moving comedy, with bucket loads of the feel good factor. The plot: Elle Wood, (Reese Witherspoon) classic American Barbie, a Fashion Major, coupled with classic American hunk Warner Huntingdon III (Matthew Davis) as the dream couple. She thinks he's about to propose, he dumps her as he needs to take his future seriously, considering he's about to enter Harvard Law School. Elle takes the news badly, however decides that she can get into Harvard, if that's the type of woman Warner wants. So with the comedy running fast and furiously Elle lauches her new academic career with enthusiasm, and succeeds! No spoilers here, but it is an uncomplicated story, without the dumb blonde factor being played to a derogatory tone. Elle is portrayed as a genuinely nice person up against several breeds of intellectual bias, however she has the self confidence and the brain to outwit most of them, with support coming from the most unexpected quarters. This movie will be up there with Bridget Jones for me, but it has a little more substance than your average chick flick.
Harry Silver - the silly sod - has a one night stand and stuffs his life up ! Or does he ? Married with the best looking child in England (or so it seems, but then we all think that don't we?)we are introduced to Harry's World of perfection, beautiful wife, good job and then he blows it. Harry is introduced to us a sensitive sort of bloke, basically decent, perhaps a little selfish, but certainly a nice chap. As a series of events turns his world upside down relationships with his parents, and so - called friends are examined but the main axis for the book is Harry's relationships with his son, the beautiful Star Wars passionate, 5 year old Pat, and his own Dad, who resembles many a Grandfather.... Do you remember certain songs from your childhood? Flicking through the record collection of you parents looking at the album covers, trying to understand the artwork ? Tony Parsons does. He has Harry reminising about his childhood, a stable and happy one, Christmases with Aunts and Uncles, Bank Holidays sitting in traffic, coke and crisps in the pub garden. Harry wanted the same for his family. The book starts off as a lightweight, but it certainly takes off, although certainly not getting too heavy, but not really 'lad's fiction either. I 've read critism that the female characters aren't developed enough, I have to disagree, if anything the male friends in Harry's world are underwritten - with the exception of his Dad. But thereagain without being sexist I guess that's what blokes are like in the time of their best mates 30 something crisis. Hand's up here the last two chapters had me crying, and for a semi- lightweight read that's a little strange. But Tony Parsons has it, he has the approach, the build up the smack in the mouth and The End. Excellent, loved it, will buy more !
...my fishmonger is the best recipe advisor this side of the Dartford Tunnel, my greengrocer provides the freshest gossip in Croydon, the produce is good too! Here speaks the queen of Tesco home delivery, Asd@thome and Sainsburys to You, from these stores I buy the dog food, the laundry supplies, the cleaning stuff, the toilet rolls. A ten minute walk from me is a small village called Addiscombe, and it rocks! The butcher is hilarious (but that is a qualification isn't it?) there is one local lady, whenever she steps into the sawdusted floor she meets a chorus of 'Chicken Breasts love ? How many, how large, big breasts, small tender ones..?' Why? Because she hates the word 'Breast'. She still goes in though, she loves the silliness..my kids go in and and point at the offal shrieking 'Yeuch, uugh..' and the butcher will 'tell them off' which just increases their giggles. Next door the grocers has piles of fresh fruit, 2lb bags of apples for a quid, every herb you see on Ready Steady Cook or AWT's garden, sackfuls of potatoes of every variety, all displayed in wicker baskets. The staff chat as they recognise the regulars, laughing, joking..there's no pushing shoving moaning or wingeing (sp?) The fishmongers : crushed iced displays of lobsters, raw king prawns, tiger prawns, and anything else that swims and is edible.A blackboard with tempting recipe ideas for red snapper, and if you are not sure just ask him, he'll reel (doh!) you one off in a second. Oh yes the bakers, I'll pay 89p for a sliced sandwich loaf, because it's fresh, it lasts three days and nothing is wasted, unlike that cotton wool pre-packed rubbish (sorry but it's not bread is it?) The only downside is that the children con me for a couple of doughnuts (better than the bucketfuls of gimmicks thrown into the trolley at Tescos...) So why charge around the supermarket, with a trolley that is
half cut, getting the produce tucked at the back of the shelf in the chiller cabinet, taking tickets to queue for some tasteless ham at the deli, another quue at the checkout, (cashback? vouchers to redeem, how many baskets/carrier bags etc) etc etc) Get you basics delivered - hopefully in the selected time slot - and shop locally. Having said all that I am priveliged in my various array of local stores and I realise others may not have such a choice, but if you do..then get involved.
Started to walk funny? Think you have a green (or red) diamond over your head? Keep putting rubbish on the floor? You must be a fellow Sims player then.... I bought this for my 7 year old for Christmas, unfortunately the minute after installation the music started playing, the intro film had me glued so I thought I'd run the tutorial just so I could help him if got stuck...yeah right! I was sucked in immiediatly! What is it about this God Game? It's the same as Big Brother, watching people do boring things, only difference is you control them. The basic idea is that you choose your Sims, their name, their look, their personality, even their star sign. Create a family or just a young couple, whatever you like. Build and furnish a house with around $20,000 or move them in to a ready made basic one-bedroomed bungalow. (That's my preference as I never seem to have enough to buy a toilet!) Next pick up the paper find them a job, teach them new skills by reading, or playing chess. Make family friends by phoning the neighbours and ask them to come over (Betty and Mortimer just don't get on in my sim neighbourhood) Sims have needs, identified by their mood bars, in the red and an unhappy sim won't do as told ie if they are not having much fun then they won't practice speech (earns charisma - good for promotion) or read a book, or find a new job because they are too depressed. If you wear them out by cleaning up all the time this gives negative values on the social, energy and fun bars (get a maid in for $10 an hour) Cooking and mechanical skills save the day as well (earnt by reading) as a sim that can't cook is likely to set fire to the place. Give them enough kitchen workspace to prepare good meals otherwise it'll be cans of beans for breakfast lunch and dinner!If the phone rings get there fast you could be up for a few grand in Aunties Will. Now I guess there are two ways to play this
game the complete sadist that lets the sim get depressed, burgled or drown! That's ok for a quick game, because it doesn't take long to get a sim in a bad mood. Or the materialistic player that strives to earn a good wage, get promotion and build a nice mansion with a pool, reading other reviews I see many of you have been quickly successful, and I can understand how the game could then loose it's attraction. However I'm still a fairly addicted novice, looking to buy the expansion packs. My biggest niggle is how to get friends to sit down when they visit, most leave because they haven't sat down! I've adopted a baby but gave it up very quickly as it was too much like real life! Online back up is available with downloadable extras at the official website, but there are other 'patches' for the Sims in the nude (doesn't really appeal...)and other variations at KaZaa. Loads of Sims fansites out there too with helpful tips and tricks and downloads, google will give a few excellent results. A clever game that my son would love to play, when Big Brother 3 comes to our screens I'll let him have a go.....
Now I am an addict of most things, internet, the Sims, Playstation, dooyoo and I like a few pennies on a horse on a Saturday. My regular hang out was Flutter.com where you could lay a squid on a horse/politician/popstar whatever took your fancy (not all three together though you understand..although I don't know these days....) It was basically for fun bets but those that wanted to take it seriously with the big money could do so. Just before Christmas Flutter announced they would be merging with betfair.com in January 'to offer the punter the best odds on the net'. Well they know what they're doing, got to be for the best I suppose, so I transfer my account this week, before the deadline of Saturday 14th. First Impressions of Betfair? Too much information, cold and impersonal site with about as much user friendliness as Phil Mitchell has charisma! So lets log in, no problem, card registered -you can register two cards, however remember that debit cards don't incur transaction fees, credit cards do - 2 % I believe. Spare fiver in my account (the minimum deposit is 25 if you open a new account) off to look at the next race. On the left hand side of the homepage is a list of sports events and categories to select, choose one then just underneath in a second menu the list of events is shown for that category. So pick a race and the available selections for that race opens on the main screen. All fairly easy and understandable. Now one thing flutter didn't have was the choice of place betting in horse racing, (well they did once but let me not confuse you any further) betfair do give you this option. So on your main screen you can lay against the horse winning, or back a horse to win. Personally on Flutter I used to back and lay, (especially againt a rock solid favourite that failed to perform...) however it only cost a £1, Betfairs minimum is £2. So place your bet, ask for odds whatever the
site does walk you through the pros and cons, what to do how to do it with lots of confirmation screens, but I have two main gripes with the site. Firstly the commision on winnings 5% for me, not particularly happy with that as it was half that on Flutter. The biggest log off and out feature for me is the pop up windows, nearly every feature be it view your funds, view or edit your bets, has a pop up. I hate pop ups, they are the most irritating thing since ..er...Phil Mitchell? Hence life is too short for pop ups. So I've cashed in my winnings of £20, goodbye betfair, emailed Flutter to tell them I miss them and am off to find a nice cosy unintimidating betting website that will give me say a free tenner....anyone recommend one?
I wanted one! I wanted one as much as I wanted a Rubix cube when I was 11. A tiny silver digital camera has been my passion for the last two weeks, walking past Dixons and Jessops without first drooling, then wincing at the three figure price tags that end in nines.... Hubby has a big old Olympus with apertures and flashes, bits you fix on and little lights everywhere, but everytime we go out those silly little silver batteries need replacing, and we end up carrying the thing around for nothing. So after seeing a digital camera at work a basic Samsung model, point - click - download I was impressed. A little research on prices at Kelkoo opinions on the internet, check the bank balance (can you hear my cashpoint laughing?) and off to QXL. One quiet Wednesday afternoon, a live auction for the Jenoptic JD350, I joined in the bidding, wasn't going to go any higher than £60, no way...got carried away bid £71 and won! Happy Stickywicket as this camera retails for £120. It arrived yesterday, a small parcel, how could a camera be in there? In the box USB, RS 232 leads, twain drivers, strange looking bulldog clip thing, VP-EYE software, carry case...oh there it was a very small credit card/cigarette packet sized camera. Whoops nearly forgot.....the instuction manual, Fench, German..English...about three pages of very limited information, in fact I think I've told you more already! The camera itself has a small LCD display on the top for extensive information and settings; four flash modes including red eye removal, normal/best picture quality, battery levels, pictures taken/remaining deletion of last/all images and self timer settings to name the essentials. All accessible from two small buttons alongside the display. However these buttons are small, not ballpoint pen small, but nearly. This camera is sold as a two in one, it takes 24 pictures in 'Best' quality 50 in 'Normal' and is also a webcam - (ah th
ats what the bulldog clip is for.....), something I've not used and thought rather over rated..until yesterday afternoon - read on. So this little silver beast what does it do? Well once the twain drivers were installed I thought I'd take a couple of test pictures and examine them in my own persinal favourite picture editor, however Jenoptic's Twain tookover as soon as I chose to download displaying very dodgy looking thumbnails. Once enlarged I was quite happy with the results, and thought with a little practice and detail I could acheive the desired results. The twain program does have some reassuring little pop ups confirming what you are doing and is useful to that extent. What next? Webcam? Yeah, for this I had to install the VP-EYE software fairly easy process. However I took an instant dislike to the look and feel of the software, cartoon buttons and icons and bright tacky colours, yeuch! Video email and Netmeeting are all part of the installation aswell as Photo EZ and other greeting card programs. A bit of playing around, summoning of 7 year old son and 20 minutes later Lamorna had a 15 second email of Michael explaining what life was like on this particular Saturday afternoon! Next I thought we'd have a go at the webcam online, so there's Lamorna in Dorset in her attic, along with Ginck (my Grandmother) awaiting great things from me in South London. Again a bit of fiddling and messing around and it happens, Lamorna screeching with delight at seeing our jerky waves and giggles while jostling for position, everyone talking, screaming and laughing at once, great stuff! Right so I've had this little marvel for 36 hours, been playing with the settings and software and can only say it is wonderful. The software I dislike so much has the facilty for you to create a photo album and record a commentary with each picture, (sounds a bit like an Ever Decreasing Circles nighmare of home videos doesn't it?
) but that still doesn't make me like it, it also seems to have quite a few grammatical errors ie 'taged' instead of 'tagged' and confimation of saving files is written strangely. (Sorry I'm nit-picking!) The pictures did look better in VP-EYE than MGI Photo Suite. Battery consumption is a problem but at least it's not those little silver ones.When using as a webcam it is powered by your PC though. Two main negative points, the view finder really is small and has no 'guide' for your picture, and my main niggle the instruction manual and lack of info.even if I do toss it aside at the beginning at least it's there for reference, I loathe and detest 'online help' buttons! I think that if within 2 days I can produce some half decent pictures/video then I look forward to seeing what it is capable of after a little practice. My final word? Don't buy on the High Street, do your research there if you want but those prices are a joke.
Why? Because Godstone Farm should be kept a secret and that way you lot can go to Thorpe Park, Chessington and Legoland queing for hours for rides that take 3 minutes! Situated between the M25 and the A22, suprisingly just outside Godstone village in Surrey. First the most amazing thing about this place is the price, children are £3.95 but with each child an adult gets in free! So the average family can get in for less than the price of an adult ticket to Legoland! Huge parking area - must be for at least 500 cars. So what is it then ? Cows, sheep, lambs, rabbits? Yes but I'm saving the best bit for last.... Once in we usually head for the the sandpit area near the cafe, past the under 3's ride on toys and some noisy pigs, and the sheep dog assault course, and to the left of the rabbits, tortoises and guinea pigs (come back to all that later) quite well hidden actually. But I'm not talking a little sandpit here, it's about the size of two large rooms,filled with buckets, spades, ride on diggers, climbing frames, a picnic area and a wooden forte for the under 8's to put under siege. Now we have been known to spend the best part of three hours in this bit as the children are very content to chill out here,and armed with our cool boxes lunch usually starts here, but eventually they remember the 'other thing'...(keep reading). So round the farm we go, stroke the horses, climb in with the rabbits, pretend to milk a cow, make funny noises at the turkeys. There is a large hands on area supervised for stroking and holding the baby animals, and at every possible location are handwashing facilities, they really are intense on the hygiene aspect. A huge play barn/ballpit area at a cost of £1 is also available - we've mamnaged to avoid it so far but should the weather turn then I'm sure we would make use! Several barns have ride on toys and the children love a quick pitstop in these too. All sounds
gentle and tame then? Well here we go, up the hill in an ever expanding area is the place to be! A wooden adventure play area, adourned with tyres, sandpits, mazes, obstacle courses, slides, castles, football pitches, water mat slides, more castles, under 3 areas, toilets refreshments, picnic areas it's big, busy but it's worth the entrance fee alone! My advice here is to make sure your children have a brightly coloured t-shirt on, pitch yourself so they know exactly were you are and let them go! They love it, and so do we. We have spent hours here the freedom and entertainment value is superb. I'd recommend for children aged 1 - 12. There is quick and easy access to the car park for when you *have* to go home. So this summer, if you must, only if you really have to, you might find something better to do, yes go to Thorpe Park and queue up ther for Loggers Leap instead, much more fun much less stressful than chilling out in a big fiels while your kids have fun...yes forget you ever read this...