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I first found Not On The Highstreet when I was looking for somewhere to get personalised signs from. NOTH isn't actually a shop in its own right but more of a marketplace with lots of different sellers all using the website as a way for people all round the country to find their products.
The website is extremely easy to browse through and you can alter your search to only show the types of products you are looking for, so for me I just highlighted personalised signs, and there sure are plenty to choose from.
I had a good look through the site and then choose two different designs which I thought would suit my needs best. The instructions for the various personalised signs are very easy to follow, and you just fill in the various text boxes with your required text and other details.
The two signs I ordered were both from the small company 'Potting Shed Designs'. Once I placed my order I got an email confirmation. Then about a week later I got a dispatch email telling me my signs had been finished and were on the way to me. They took a good few days to arrive, but delivery was free so I wasn't complaining, and it sure was worth the wait!
Each sign was individually packaged in bubblewrap and wrapped in lovely packaging paper with a purple ribbon, a little gift card, and also a little bag of lavender which I thought was just lovely. The smell of the lavender hits you as soon as you open the package, and who doesn't love the smell of lavender! I hadn't even seen the first sign and I was already smiling, but when I did see the sign I was so pleased. It was better than I had pictured! It was a wooden sign with hand painted text, and you could see it was extremely high quality just by looking at it, but it also felt high quality. The second sign I had ordered was equally high quality. At this point I didn't think I could have been any happier, but that was when I noticed there was a third package again with a ribbon and gift tag, but this gift tag wasn't blank like the others, this one said 'Thank You'. I opened it a little confused at this stage as I knew I had only ordered two signs, but then once I saw what it was I realised it was a free gift! It was a little personalised wooden sign saying 'Mark's Office' (my name is Mark). The sign was equally high quality.
This really did make my day as I certainly wasn't expecting anything like that!
Because I had such an amazing order experience, a few weeks later I decided to purchase another three signs. This time two sign were from Potting Shed Designs and the third sign was from a different small company called 'Delightful Living'.
The sign from Delightful Living arrived first, and like my first two signs from PSD, it was super high quality, just what I was after.
Then a couple of days later, my next two signs arrived from Potting Shed Designs, and again both were packaged in lovely wrapping paper with a ribbon and a small bag of lavender, and to my surprise I had another small free sign. I thought the last free sign was just a thank you for being a first time customer, but here was a second free sign, in the same style as the first, but this one saying 'Work in progress...'.
I really didn't think I could be happier after my first order, but I was proved wrong. They even wrote a personal hand written thank you note on the receipt that came with both orders.
I am sure I will be ordered yet more products from NOTH, especially anything from PSD. The little touches such as the ribbon and bag of lavender and hand written note aren't hard to do, but make it extra special, and the free sign they send you is so generous of them. I really can't recommend them enough.
I have just reviewed the Glade Spiced Apple candle which without doubt is my favourite candle, but this Glistening Snow candle comes quite close.
I bought this candle from a supermarket at the same time I bought the Spiced Apple candle. This was the first time buying this scent, but I wanted to try a new one. I always smell the candle in the shop, and this candle smelt so lovely, a more relaxed scent compared to the spiced apple, but still has a perfect Christmas scent.
The candle is packaged like all the other Glade Christmas scent candles, in a cardboard box with the candle on display in one corner.
The candle itself consists of a beautifully decorated glass jar, with the wax inside. The glass is decorated in blue and white with faded snowflakes, which light up beautifully when the candle is lit.
To be honest, i'm not really sure how to describe the scent, but I can tell you it sure is lovely. Its quite a relaxing smell and is perfect for a winters evening in front of the TV.
Because the candle has a softer scent, it takes a bit longer for the room to fill with the scent, but once it has, you will be enjoying the smell for hours, and soon the whole house will be filled with the lovely smell!
The candles normally cost about £3, but they are often on offer, if you like scented candles, please give this one a go, I don't think you will be disappointed!
I have always loved scented candles, especially at Christmas. I just love that certain feel you get when you have them lit at that time of year.
I first bought the Glade Spiced Apple candle last year (Christmas 2009) and I loved it, so have bought a few already this year and its still only November.
The candles are sold in most supermarkets, and are often on offer at this time of year. I think its normally sold for about £3, but the last two I have bought were half price.
The candles are packaged in a cardboard case with the candle partly on show in one corner.
The candle itself consists of a decorated glass bowl. This year the glass has a lovely design with holly all over it which really shows up well when the candle is lit. The glass is painted red, with the holly being a darker red.
The candle has such a gorgeous smell, even before you light it you can smell it well, and once you smell it, you don't want to stop smelling it. If you're not careful you could get addicted to this candle! Haha.
When you light the candle, the whole room is soon filled with the lovely scent, and if you have the door open, the smell gradually fills up the rest of the house. I had it lit downstairs, and I was coming down the stairs and could smell it so well.
For anyone who likes candles, and who appreciates lovely scents, please buy this candle. If you can find it on offer, get a few, because when one runs out, you will be upset if you don't have another at hand to light!
Oh also, when the candle does run out, you still have the lovely glass jar which you can put tea lights in.
Wetheriggs Animal Rescue and Conservation Centre is a small rescue centre at Clifton Dykes, a small village near Penrith in Cumbria. The site is based on the original Wetheriggs Pottery site which dates back to the 1800s, and still has some of the existing features such as the Beehive Kiln and the steam engine on site.
The animal rescue centre first opened in 2006 at just one end of the pottery site. Then in 2008 they took over the full site and expanded. They also established their charity status around this time.
Wetheriggs takes in just about any animal, everything apart from domestic cats and dogs. They currently have around 900 animals, and this number is expected to rise during winter and spring of 2011 as this is often the busiest time for taking in animals due to floods and bad weather, as well as new animals being born which can't be looked after.
They have a vast range of animals, just some include Macaws, which are all free flying, they are not in aviaries or under netting, and visitors love to see these magnificent parrots taking flight around the site. Also there are several owls and birds of prey including a Vulture called George.
Also on site are Porcupines, Bat Eared Foxes, two Marmosets which just arrived this last week, many varieties of chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits, guinea pigs, chipmunks, alpacas, horses, sheep, goats, small birds. Also on site are several red squirrels in the new walk through enclosure. The squirrels will actually climb all over you, this is an experience which you will never get bored of. I have been in with them many times and still love going in with them.
There is also the Discovery Centre which houses the centres reptiles and insects including bearded dragons, various snakes, cockroaches, tarantulas and a chameleon.
Wetheriggs is mainly run by volunteers. Several people give up a few days a week to help look after the animals and keep the place running, if it wasn't for these volunteers the place would struggle to keep running.
You pay to go round the site like with zoos, entry is £3.95 for adults, and £2.95 for children with under 3s being free, and family entry of £12.50 which is 2 adults and up to 4 children.... yes I did say 4! You can also buy bags of animal feed to feed animals such as the horses, sheep, goats, alpaca and more. All the money goes to helping looking after the animals and expanding the site.
There is also a large gift shop on site selling every day gifts, art work, food gifts and also have a dedicated pet shop and pet food store.
Also on site is a large cafe offering hot and cold food, hot and cold drinks and cakes.
During national holidays, the centre offers various added extras for visitors such as hands on experiences were you can handle animal such as the tarantulas, cockroaches, snakes and other reptiles etc. They also do red squirrel encounters where you get to go into the squirrel enclosure and hear all about them.
Many of the animals are up for rehoming and the centre is always looking for new homes for many of the animals, especially the rabbits and guinea pigs. All they ask for is a reasonable donation, and a basic home check, and the donations help towards looking after the other animals at the centre.
If people want to help out but can't rehome an animal, they can adopt an animal or a group of animals, but the animals stay at the centre. You pay a fixed amount each year and can cancel any time.
Another feature is Friends of Wetheriggs, when you pay £5 a month, and get unlimited access to the park, also if you have children, you can take benefit of Saturday Club. Saturday Club allowed parents to drop their children off at Wetheriggs at 11am on Saturdays, and pick them up at 3pm. The children get to help with everyday jobs including feeding animals, cleaning pens and several other jobs.
Wetheriggs is still fairly new and is still trying to get the place known further afield. The site depends on people visiting, rehoming, adopting and volunteering.
Please if you are ever near Penrith in Cumbria (North West England), come by for a visit, we would love to see you.
I bought this printer for the office at work. I have already reviewed the printer we used to have in the office, and if you have already read it (the Lexmark) you will know I wasn't overly impressed, which is why I bought this model.
I bought the printer refurbished from Ebay, I got it for about £30 and it looks and feels brand new.
It came from Canon distributors who have a store on Ebay. They were very professional and I was very pleased with their service.
It arrived very quick, well packaged.
One thing that attracted me to the printer in the first place was the design of it. It is a very sleek looking printer with a light grey and dark grey colour scheme. It has a rounded rectangular shape to it, and despite being an all in one printer, it has a fairly small footprint.
It has a flat bed scanner on the top, as well as the control panel which consists of a small LCD screen which lifts up to reveal several control buttons.
At the front, there is a cover which opens to double up as the paper tray, there is also a small flap covering card slots, and also a USB port.
At the back is an upright paper tray, the power port and a USB port.
In the box was the printer, all the set up documents, the driver disks, the power cable and one black and one colour ink cartridge. The printer does not come with a USB cable, but this are extremely easy to get hold of.
I read the basic set up guide, which in general was easy to follow, apart from one or two areas where it suddenly seemed to skip a section, but this did not really affect set up.
It was quick to install the printer, I installed the software on the computer, and when I connected the printer to the computer it found the printer straight away and the test page printed first time.
It is easy to install the ink cartridges, you open the main cover and the ink trays move out into the centre, then you lift the lids, place the cartridges in, push the lid back down and close the main cover and the printer does the rest.
I have been extremely pleased with the print quality from this printer. I have printed many colour documents, and none have disappointed yet.
As yet I have not printed on photo quality paper, so I will unfortunately be unable to comment on this.
The printer prints pretty quick, nothing to shout about, but you won't be waiting ages for a 10 page document either.
When you print, an on screen pop up display comes up on the screen with the printing information. This is common with all Canon printers I have ever used, it tells you how far through the printing is, and if there is any problems.
My first print out was a full colour document consisting of coloured text and a couple of images. All the colours came out as expected and looks great, the images also looked very good. The ink was dry as soon as the paper came out, so no need to wait minutes for the ink to dry before you touch the paper.
My second document was an all black text document which again I was very pleased with, the quality easily stands up to that of a modest laser printer.
The printer has 3 basic quality settings, as well as several more advance options. One of the basic settings is Draft, which you would expect to print in poor quality, but I was extremely surprised when I printed a text document in draft, and the quality was extremely close to regular printing, and printed quicker. Full colour documents aren't as impressive in Draft mode, but still acceptable.
The third basic quality setting is High Quality. This will be the setting to use when printing full photos on photo paper, but when printing on regular A4 paper, I wouldn't recommend this setting as it seems to apply more ink and makes the paper feel very fragile. The quality isn't that much different on plain paper either.
The printer has a nice little nifty (though more of a gimmick than anything) feature. When the front cover (also the front paper tray) is closed and you print something, the printer automatically opens the front tray so paper will not jam inside the machine. Its just a shame it doesn't close the tray again for you, haha.
The back upright paper tray extends out to support the paper. I'm not sure exactly how many sheets of paper the tray will hold, but I have been able to get probably close to 100 sheets in. There is only one back tray, so when printing on different size paper you have to remove the other lot of paper.
The front paper tray is there to catch print outs. Paper feeds in one direction meaning paper doesn't curl or bend, making it perfect for thicker high quality paper.
*Scanning and Copying*
This printer is an all in one printer, which means as well as being able to print, you can also copy documents and scan documents to your computer.
Both these features are extremely easy to use.
Copying files can be done without the printer even being connected to a computer. All the controls needed are on the printer. The small LCD display lets know how many copies you are printing. You can choose to copy in colour or mono (black) and there are a few other basic options in the menu.
When copying, the original document must be placed in the flat bed scanner, this is then scanned, and then the copy (or copies) is printed out in normal quality.
The printer comes with software to install on your computer to help with scanning. As yet I have only scanned one document, but it wad very easy to do. I opened up the software which gives you several options, as well as being able to edit the scan once complete.
The scan took a little time to complete, maybe this was because it was the first time, not sure, but the printer seemed to do a lot of what I can maintenance (when you hear the printer making a lot of noise, but its not actually doing anything) before it started to scan, but once it did start, the scanning itself was fairly quick.
I choose to scan at the pre-set setting, and I was very pleased with it. It wasn't crystal clear but all the writing was legible.
The scanner can scan up to 2400dpi which is very impressive and would be perfect for scanning photos.
The printer is still fairly new to me, once I have used more of its features I will probably come back and edit this review, but I hope this review will be enough to give people an idea.
I have been extremely pleased with this printer, and I think it is easily worth the price when new.
If you are looking for a good quality colour printer which also allows you to scan and copy documents, I would seriously recommend this model.
We have this printer at the office at work and I was the one who had to install it and use it. It was second hand so I can't talk about what came in the box etc as we didn't have any of that.
The printer has a very basic box design using mainly white and grey colouring. The printer looks both old fashioned and modern at the same time. It has a grey upright paper tray at the back, and a pull out grey paper tray at the front to catch the print outs. There are two buttons on the top of the printer, a power button and a paper feed button.
The printer feels quite cheap and flimsy, especially the front paper tray, which when extended, feels like it will snap with more than 10 sheets of paper on it.
I didn't actually have the software disks so I have to download the software from the Lexmark website. It was easy to find the correct software and it installed fairly quick.
Initial installation was simple, but it took a while to finalise everything. Just when I thought it was all sorted, I found out there was a problem. But I sorted it eventually. It would probably be easier if you have the disks.
The printer can only connect via USB. On the back of the printer there is just a USB port and a power port.
When you have the printer installed, it asks if you would like to print a test page. I was shocked the first time I selected to print as the printer suddenly spoke to me. Not literally of course, but the software gives you feedback in the way of recorded speech. Not sure if this can be turned off, but I bet this novelty can get quite annoying.
When I finally got the printer to start printing, it struggled to take in the sheets of paper. I was initially using slightly thicker, good quality paper than the standard 80gsm and it just wouldn't take the paper in, even if I gave it a push so I had to change the paper to thinner paper, and even then it struggled a little at first.
Once it got going, it printed fine. It printed in a decent speed, but the quality certainly wasn't anything to shout about. The black was more of a deep grey colour. This is because the printer only takes one ink cartridge containing your standard Cyan, Magenta and Yellow inks. There is no separate black ink cartridge.
I guess this was done to keep costs down, but printing in black ends up using more ink meaning you have to purchase new ink cartridges more often, and when they cost anywhere between £10-£15 this can soon add up.
Colour documents look fairly decent, again nothing to shout about, but everything is the correct colour, apart from when one colour starts to run low, which is quite soon.
I haven't been able to test full photo prints on photo paper, but from printing photos on standard paper I can guess the quality would be good but not fantastic.
Once printing gets going, the printer is pretty fast, but there is quite a time gap from pressing the print icon on your computer to the printer actually doing anything. One print took nearly 30 seconds before anything started.
Because the printer only has one paper feed tray, you have to remove paper to add different size paper and the paper guide can be stiff to slide across.
I would say this would be a good printer for a child who has started to get school homework. It is also fine for a first printer, possibly for someone who has just started out in the world of computing and just wants to print a few documents.
if you will be printing a lot, or wanting to print quality documents and photos, don't go for this printer as you will probably be disappointed. Don't be fooled by the cheap price for the printer as the ink will soon bankrupt you!
itv.com is the website for Britain's biggest broadcaster ITV (Independent Television). itv.com was origianlly set up in 1994 but was not actually used for some years.
I won't go into any more of the history of the site, instead i will talk about the site as it appears currently in 2009.
itv.com is currently going through a ravamp. Rather than the whole site all being updated in one go, individual pages are being updated at different times. The homepage was the first site to be updated, other sites which have already have a revamp are Coronation Street, Loose Women, This Morning and local news. The main News site is currently in the process of being updated.
just about every program on ITV will have some sort of page on the website. Some still have the very old outdated design, some have a semi-updated design and others are complete.
Its easy to find a certain page on the site. Along the top of the page is a menu bar containing links to ITV Player (I will mention this later), TV Guide, TV Shows, Coronation Street (why this link isn't just Soaps i don't know), News, Sport and Local.
The first place to go to find a program is 'TV Shows'. This page contains links to each sub-section such as Drama, Entertainment and lifestyle.
When you click on one of these links, it will take you to a new page which contains links to all the current programs.
If you are struggling to find a programs site, there are still a few things you can do. Firstly you can use the search function at the top of the page next to the menu bar. You can also use the A-Z page which lists every program and page contained within itv.com. This link can be found at the bottom of the site along with many other useful links.
A feature that ITV have now had for several years is their video catch up service which was originally called ITV Catch Up but soon after changed its name to ITV Player. ITV Player allowed viewers to catch up on shows they may have missed when they were on tv. You can watch the full program for free and you have 30 days to watch the program.
Since launch, ITV Player received a lot of criticism for such reasons as videos wouldn't play, or they kept loading, or many programs weren't even on the service.
ITV responded a few months ago by scrapping Microsoft Silverlight in exchange for Adobe Flash player and since the change videos have played much better, quality also seems to have improved slightly. ITV also seem to be getting the rights for more programs to appear on the service such as the popular Harry Hill's TV Burp.
I don't there really is much else to say. I could talk about each programs site but that would take forever, its best to check the site out yourself and have a good explore. I know the site very well but i still keep finding new pages all the time.
The pages that have been updated like Corrie and This Morning look great, but there are still many pages that need upgrading but they seem to be doing a good job.
I have been after a Blu-Ray player for my bedroom for a while. I didn't want to rush into anything and end up spending a lot of money on something that i don't like.
Just as i thought i had found the player i was going to buy, i came across the Samsung BD-P4600 and fell in love with it.
Before anything is the cost. Its RRP is about £240 but is currently available on Amazon.co.uk for £189.
The first thing you notice is how it looks. It has a unique design making it stand out from all the other Blu-ray players on the market. It is a slim elongated shape and it can either be sat on a counter flat on using the included stand which angles the player about 35 degrees. You can also hang the player on the wall. This is one of the stand out features of this Blu-ray player.
The player is designed with the common glossy piano black finish with a pale blue edge to it. The Samsung logo in to the left and the Blu-ray logo in the centre.
Along the bottom in the centre is an LCD screen displaying information such as howl long the movie has been playing, chapter etc.
To the right of this screen is the touch buttons. The touch sensitive buttons are power, eject, play/pause, stop and skip left and right. They are very responsive buttons and always sense my finger. The only problem is because it has the glossy black finish, it soon shows fingerprints.
To the left behind the blue edge is the disk slot. The machine senses when a disk is placed in and will take the disk fully in to play it so you only have to push it in a little way. It loads the disk very quick and quietly.
On the left of the machine is a USB port. This allows you to connect a flash drive or MP3 player so you can play music and video files through your TV. You can also use it to view photos on your TV. You can also connect a Wifi dongle but i will come back to this later.
On the back is the connection ports. These include the power socket, an HDMI port, another USB port and an Ethernet port. There are also some more basic video connections. The ports are in a small area set in from the rest of the back of the machine and the wires are fed out the bottom using a plate which is attached once all the cables are plugged in. This means cables have to bent slightly, so if you have very thick cables you may struggle to get the cables to bend through the bottom. But most cables should be fine.
The Blu-ray player comes with a good detailed remote similar to a lot of their TV remotes. You can also control most Sansung TVs with this remote so its really a two in one remote. At the top is two red power buttons, one for the Blu-ray player, and another for a TV. Inbetween these two buttons is the eject button.
Under these are the number buttons, and a source button to switch the TV source (TV, HDMI, SCART, PC etc).
under these are the playback buttons such as play, pause, stop, skip and fast forward and rewind. These buttons are actually glow in the dark which is a great feature and you don't realise what a useful feature this is until you need it when you are watching a film at night and usually have to turn the light on to find the button. Its a shame the rest of the remote is not glow in the dark. These playback buttons are quite small though but well spaced.
under these are the TV volume and TV channel up and down buttons, and the TV mute button.
Then there are directional buttons, an enter button and general menu buttons followed by the colour buttons and then the disk menu buttons at the bottom.
The remote takes two AAA batteries which are included.
The player shows films in extremely good quality, with both high definition and non high definition disks. It shows blu-rays in the highest form possible, 1080p and picture looks amazing.
I use this player with a 22" 720p TV and the quality looks like full HD, even regular DVDs look brilliant.
As i mentioned earlier, you can connect a a Wifi dongle to the player using one of the USB ports. A Wifi dongle is not included meaning you have to buy one separately if you want one. They are quite expensive at £50. I'm not sure if you can use any Wifi dongle with the player, or whether only Samsung's own works with it. If you don't have a wireless router but still wish to connect the player to the internet, you can connect it wired with the ethernet port on the back and connect it to your router.
By connecting to the internet, it allows you to visit Youtube and watch videos on your TV. I haven't actually connected to the internet so i can't comment much on this feature.
I think i have covered all the main features of the Samsung BD-P4600. It really is a brilliant Blu-ray player. It looks amazing, produces fantastic pictures and has some great features. If you don't mind paying a little more than some other Blu ray players, then go for this, i don't think you will be disappointed.
We stayed here just for one night when we went to the Southampton Boat Show. We travelled down to Southampton on the Saturday morning, then travelled home the following Sunday. We choose this Travelodge because it was cheaper and still had rooms available unlike many closer to Southampton.
When we arrived we found the hotel easy because it was light and we could see the sign. Near the hotel was a Little Chef and a Shell petrol station.
We parked in the car park next to the hotel and went into reception.
The reception was very basic. Straight ahead of the main door was a large desk. One woman was sitting behind the desk and took our booking. We had booked and paid online so check in was nice and quick. The receptionist was very friendly, if a little quiet.
There were no vending machines in the reception or anywhere in the hotel so you couldn't buy any drinks or snacks.
All the rooms are on one level. The reception is in the centre at one end of the long building, so there is only two ways to get to rooms, through the door on the left, or the door on the right. So its very hard to get lost.
The receptionist gave us the keys, they still use regular metal keys with a large plastic key ring with the room number on instead of those electronic key cards.
We found our room quickly, the numbers on the doors are not easy to see until you are right next to the door though as they are not printed in the middle, instead they are just near the lock, but its still easy enough to find your room.
The rooms themselves are extremely basic. You walk in and there is a door on your left (possibly on your right if the room layout is flipped) to the bathroom. On the opposite side of the door is a closet area (just a few shelves with a hanging rail). You then enter the main room which consists of a double bed, a sofa (which is also a sofa bed as it has a full out bed underneath), there is a large fixed desk opposite the bed which has the tv and coffee and tea making facilities. There is a large mirror above the desk.
The bed was surprisingly comfortable for such a cheap hotel. A nice soft but firm mattress (hope that makes sense) with a simple white sheet. Then a white duvet and two white pillows. The pillows were a bit rubbish and thin but there is a spare pillow on the shelf, and you can ask for more at reception if needed.
The TV was pretty poor. Its an old 17 inch CRT tv fixed to a swivel stand so you can't move it anywhere else on the desk. The only channels were BBC One, BBC Two, ITV1, Channel 4, Five, Sky News, Film 4 and 4Music. The TV did not have any built in tv guide so you couldn't find out what was on each channel without a tv guide.
The coffee and tea making facilities consisted on a simple kettle, two mugs, a spoon (yes only one), two tea bags, four coffee sachets (two regular, two decaf), four little milk tubs, and some sugar.
There is also a basic plastic chair for you to sit at the desk.
The room was actually well lit. it has two ceiling lights, one in the main part of the room, and one in the little hall way. There was also two wall mounted bed side lights, and two wall mounted desk lights all with their own switch. Then of course there was the large window at one end. The two opening windows have those safety locks on them so you can only open them about two inches and these rooms are always too hot and it was very hard to cool them down. The curtains were brilliant though, they are double lined and don't let any light through when closed which was great for me as i struggle to sleep when its not dark. Not that i sleft that well anyway due to the room being so warm.
The bathroom was also very basic. it consisted of a bath with a fixed shower head and a horrible plastic shower curtain. A toilet and a sink. Nothing special about the toilet or sink, they both worked fine. There is a large mirror above the toilet and sink.
The shower on the other hand was not so simple. its one of those systems where when you turn the water on it comes out the bath tap, and you pull up a trigger to switch the water to the shower head.
There are two taps, one controls the amount of water, the other controls the heat. Now its a simple system if it works, but when i had a shower, it took ages to get warm, and it never got hot even on the hottest setting.
Then it kept going cold and back to warm on me. I only just managed to get my hair washed and i just wanted to get out.
Another problem with the bathroom is the lack of hooks/rails. There is one cheap plastic hook on the door, a simple double toilet roll holder and thats basically it. So you either have to put the towels and your clothes on the toilet, the small table unit behind the toilet, the tiny hook or on the floor. Is it really that hard to add a simple towel rail??
When we got in, we couldn't find the tv remote and just thought someone had taken it. We told reception but they didn't actually have any spare remotes. We did find the remote later though. When we pulled out the spare bed we found the remote under this.
The sheet on the bed had an old stain towards one end. It didn't really bother me but it seems bad that the hotel are allowed old stained sheets to still be used.
There is WiFi available in all the rooms, but the prices are high. It costs £5 for just one hour, then £10 for a day, £20 a week or £30 a month.
I mentioned earlier that we arrived when it was light, but if anyone arrived at night, they may struggle to actually find the place. The main sign was not lit up, and most of the outside lights were not on, both in the car park and around the hotel. We found this very poor.
For someone who just wants somewhere to sleep then this place would be fine, but for more than one night it may be a bit unpleasant.
The Humax Foxsat HDR is a digital box that allows you to pick up HD Freesat tv using a satellite dish. If you already have a dish set up (maybe if you have previously had Sky) then you won't need to get a new dish installed or even repositioned.
The digital box itself looks great. It has a simple but smart look with a dark blue tint to the front cover. This cover then flips down to reveal several buttons such as channel up and down and menu, as well as a USB port which i will come to later. Also on the front on the top left corner is a power button. You can press this without having to open the front cover. Also on the front is a display showing you various features such as the channel you are on or recording you are watching.
On the back there are two scart connections, an HDMI connection, another USB connection, a LAN connection (not yet in use), audio and video ports, and the connections for the cables to and from the satellite dish. There is also a power lead which cannot be removed.
The remote control also looks smart with a gloss black finish and black and silver buttons. Some of the button layout is a little poor but you soon get used to it. Areas such as the playback buttons (play, pause, record etc) are quite small. You can also program the remote to control your TV, your DVD player and any audio equipment you may have. All you do is follow the instructions, then there is a selection button at the top to select the PVR, TV, DVD or Audio.
When you first set your PRV up, it will automatically search for channels so you do not have to do anything apart from enter your postcode so it can find the correct regional channels such as BBC1 and ITV1.
Once you are set up, its fairly simple to start using. To select a channel, if you know the program number you can enter it using the number buttons. You can also use the program scroll button to scroll up and down channels in order. Another way to find channels is to press the middle OK button which brings up a channel list, then you select the channel from the list.
Another way is using the built in EPG or Electronic Program Guide. This is basically a magazine tv guide built into the PRV. Most if not all digital set top boxes including Sky and Freeview have these built in. Here you can find channels and see what is on the channels in the next 7 days.
The EPG is very simple and well structured. To get to the EPG, you press Guide on the remote which brings up a menu. This menu allows you to select the channel genre. You can choose from Entertainment, News and Sport, Movies etc. There is also an 'All Channels' option if you just want to search all channels. Once you have selected the genre option, you will see the full EPG. At the top you will see 4 options which each have a colour. These options are 'Table' which is red, 'List' which is green, 'Schedule' which is yellow, and 'Find' which is blue. The reason these are colour coded is because you select which you want using the colour buttons on the remote.
Table shows the EPG in a simple table format with channel names on the left, and the programs to the right moving along the screen.
List allows you to see one channel at a time with the programs shown in a list from top to bottom.
Schedule allows you to see what programs you have scheduled to record.
Find allows you to search for a certain program. You are given an on-screen keyboard which allows you to type in the name of the program you are looking for.
With the Table format, as well as just scrolling across to see what is coming up, you are given a couple of other choices, you can either skip 2 hours at a time using the fast forward and rewind buttons, or you can skip 24 hours using the skip chapter buttons.
You can also find out about a program by pressing the 'i' (info) button which brings up a mini screen with program information on.
On the EPG you can also schedule programs to record. To record a program, first you have to find and select the program, then you press the OK button which brings up a mini screen giving you a couple of options depending on the type of program. If the program is part of a series, you will be given 3 options, the first option is to 'Record Whole Series'. By selection this option, the PVR will record all programs in that series without you having to select each episode. An example, say you want to record every episode of Eastenders, find an episode on the EPG select the record series option and all episodes of Eastenders on BBC One will be recorded.
The next option on the mini menu is 'Record Single Program'. This is the option if you just want to record that one program and no other episodes.
The next option is 'Watch'. By pressing this it will remind you when the program is about to start.
To access programs you have recorded, you press the 'Media' button on the remote which brings up a folder containing everything you have recorded. At the top of the menu may be some folders. These folders are any programs you have series recording of. Underneath the folders are single programs you have recorded. To watch the programs, highlight the program you want to watch, then press the OK button which brings up a series of options, the first option is 'Play from the last played position', then 'Play from the start' then 'Delete file' then 'Rename'.
Also underneath these options is 'Play at chapter' option which allows you to choose from certain times in the program.
Another feature of this PRV is you can pause and rewind live tv. What this means is if you are just watching tv and not a recording, if you press the pause button, the program will pause as if its a DVD. Then when you are ready to watch again you just press play and the program will continue playing. You can also rewind live so if you were watching something but missed a bit, just press the rewind button to go back to that point. This feature also means if you have paused or rewound, you can skip any adverts the program may have until you get back to the live time.
The USB port on the front on the box can be used to connect a flash drive or MP3 player which then allows you to play music through your tv and look at photos. At the minute you cannot play video files.
Overall the box is very good and packed full of features. There are a few minor drawbacks, one being when you are on the EPG, when you are moving round and selecting things, it can be a little slow at times and sometimes you think it didn't work so you press the button again but then it does the command twice.
Also start up time is slow. When you turn the box on, it says 'Boot' on the front display, and stays like this for about 30 second or more until it finally starts up.
Overall though i have been pleased with it and am glad i bought it.
ITV Player is an online video on demand service offered by the UKs largest commercial broadcaster, ITV. The service is found at itv.com/itvplayer. It is a free service offered to everyone living in the UK.
The video player used Microsoft Silverlight, a fairly new video processing technology competing against Adobe Flash player. Because Silverlight is still new compared to other video services, it sometimes has problems. Some people have trouble installing the service. This begs the questions 'Why are ITV using this service which many people seem to have problems with rather than using a proven service such as Adobe Flash?'
ITV Player lets people catch up on many ITV shows found across the range of channels including ITV2, 3 and 4 as well as on the main channel ITV1. Not all programs are available for one reason or another, usually due to rights.
Viewers can find programs from one of several methods, they can either use the A-Z menu, choose the date the program was on, look at the top 10 viewed programs or used the drop down menu which shows all programs. On the main page there is also a selection of popular programs shown at the top.
Once viewers find a program, it will play in an embedded video player on the site. The embedded video player is quite small and not very nice to watch a full length program on. Viewers can choose to watch programs in full screen, but the quality of most programs in full screen is not great. So its a lose lose situation for viewers really.
Before and during programs, adverts play. You usually get about 2 adverts each time. This is where some people have problems. ITV stream adverts from one server and the actual program from another server, if the program server is having problems or being over-loaded, more adverts will play and the actual program will never end up playing. Many people have complained about this problem but as yet nothing seems to have happened.
Most of the time programs will play fine and you can watch a full program, but you will need a good internet speed to watch the program in full. If your internet speed is not brilliant the video will keep buffering and loading every few minutes which puts many people off.
If ITV seriously is trying to compete against the likes of BBC's online video service iPlayer and Channel 4's video service 4 On Demand (4OD) then they need to make several improvements. The main improvement is better quality videos and a larger embedded video player. They also need to improve/change how and where the adverts and programs come from.
If you have missed a program you love and its not repeated on tv then ITV Player is an option, but until ITV sort it out and improve it then its not a viable solution.
The good thing about it is it is a completely free service which is why you get adverts on it so this is one good thing about it.
In my town we have 3 main supermarkets and we choose to use Somerfield most often. It is on the edge of the town centre but has a decent size car park and is usually easy to find a parking space.
Somerfield has never been able to compete with the bigger named supermarkets such as Tesco and Asda, but it also can compete with the cheaper supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl so it is stuck somewhere in the middle.
Well actually we soon won't be calling it Somerfield, as it has been bought out by Co-Op (i'm not sure if all Somerfields have been bought out or just a few, but i know ours is changing as it is already stocking several Co-Op branded products on the shelves)
Because the store is smaller than many supermarkets, it doesn't always have all the brands you may want, but it does have most things you will need.
Our store has a generally good layout. It has two entrances, the main one is next to the car park. You start in the fruit and veg isle. This isle is actually one big isle with centre shelves, so it feels like two isles but is easy to get from one to another.
This isle also leads into meat and fish, ready meals, pies and pastries, yoghurts, cheeses and several other bits, so you can imagine this is a big isle.
The next isle mainly consists of canned goods, pasta and cooking sauces. The isle after this contains things such as coffee and tea bags, table sauces and condiments and baking items such as flour. At one end of this isle and the next isle is the baked goods section.
Somerfield should make a bigger deal of their baked goods such as bread and cakes as they are always so nice, and you can often get warm freshly baked bread if you get there at the right time. Here you can also get packet cakes and branded bread.
The next isle is mainly cereals, and biscuits and also has jams.
Then you get into the health and body care isle which contains healthcare items, hair and body products, toilet and kitchen roll, baby items, cleaning products and bathroom products.
The next isle is a weird one, it starts off with clothes washing products on one side. On the other side it seems to be something different each week, generally just a sale isle, sometimes it has summer bits on such as picnic items, other times it has chocolates, other times wines and spirits. It just seems to be what ever the store is trying to sell. Further down the isle has pet stuff on one side, and chocolates and sweets on the other side.
The next isle is drinks, mainly soft drinks and fruit drinks as well as waters.
The next and last isle is freezers and crisps. There are more freezers along one end of the store as well as down one side of this isle.
At the end of this isle just before you head for the tills is the alcohol section.
The store has quite a few tills, but only a few ever seem to be in use a one time. If you only have a few items you can go to the till near the exit which is where you can buy cigarettes as well as small food stuffs like sandwiches as well as magazines and newspapers.
Staff on the tills are generally really nice and some will have a chat with you as you pack, others can be a little quiet but still friendly.
Somerfield has several own brand products, the main one being their Simply Value range. These are very easy to spot as the packaging for any product consists of yellow and white. Its lacking in design but it stands out and makes you look at it which is the main thing. The only problem is things can come across as cheap which will put some people off.
Lately we have been trying several Simply Value range products and many of them turn out to be really good, the best product we have discovered so far is their hot chocolate. You get a large tub for less than £1 and its the nicest i have ever tried. They do many products in this range including frozen food, ready meals, canned goods, coffee, tea, soft drinks and water, crisps, health and body care items and many more things.
If you go to Somerfield but have never tried anything from this brand, then i recommend giving things a go, you could end up saving a lot of money by changing to the Simply Value range.
Another of Somerfield's own brands is their Best Ever range. This is not as popular but things such as ready meals can be found in this range and are usually cheaper than branded products and usually of good quality.
Prices on branded products in the store can sometimes be quite high depending on what it is, but they have many special offers on each week and if you look carefully you could end up saving quite a bit of money with many 'Buy one get one free' offers and a certain % off things.
The one thing that Somerfield can be poor for is fully stocked shelves, especially for products with a special offer. There have been many times when we see an offer we like so we go to get the product and find its gone.
We have been happy with shopping at Somerfield for over 8 years now so they must be doing something right, it will probably be a bit upsetting when Co-Op finally take over. As much as i like Co-Op, Somerfield has been my main store for years now and has always served us well.
Ooh well what can i say, apart from...
I just love Creme Eggs and often get one not just at Easter.
Creme Eggs consist of a think milk chocolate shell filled with a creamy white and yellow filling. I'm not actually sure what this filling is, but i can tell you it is just lovely.
However you try to eat one of these yummy eggs though, you will nearly always make a bit of a mess. Often when you bite into them the chocolate shell cracks into pieces and the creamy filling slowly starts to creep out the cracks all over your hands. But you don't care, you carry on eating then just lick your hands :D
There is a downside to these yummy eggs though..
and thats the price, since they have become so popular, the price has shot up and it now often costs more than 40 pence for a single egg when they used to cost less than 30 pence.
Around Easter, stores are flooded with Creme Eggs but they are available all year round, but can be hard to find at times which is a shame as they are so good you don't just want them at Easter.
If you have never had a Creme Egg before, then where have you been!
You have to try one, i'm sure you will love them.
Hot Pockets are a microwaveable food stuff made by Maggi.
You will find them in the freezer isle of your supermarket and the price usually range between £1 and £2. You get two hot pockets in one packet.
The two hot pockets are separately rapped so if you only want to have one of them then don't worry as you can just keep the other one in the box without it going off.
To cook them, you take them out of the cardboard, then out of the plastic film wrap. You then place them in a special piece of card with a foil lined inside which helps crisp the pockets. Then you simply just put the hot pocket on a microwavable plate and set the time to 2 minutes 30 seconds.
When they are done, they will be very hot so you may have to let them cool a little before eating, especially if they are for children.
They are nice just on their own with a little tomato sauce as a snack, or as part of a quick mean with chips or potatoes.
However you want to eat them, i'm sure you will enjoy these tasty crispy pockets full of cheese and ham.
ITV3 is ITVs second digital only channel available on all digital tv platforms including Freeview, Sky and Virgin.
The channel mainly consists of drama, mostly repeats of old classics. Some of the more popular shows include Heartbeat, Poirot, Wycliffe, Upstairs Downstairs and On The Buses.
ITV3 also has the UK rights to the popular american drama Life and the channel also commisioned its first program in 2008 called Ladies of Letters which is based on a radio series. This show proved popular and is coming back for a second season.
The channel also hosted its own special awards show as part of the 'Crime Thriller Award Season' which invited viewers to vote for their favourite crime thriller and favourite crime drama author on itv.com and the the winner was announced in a tv awards show.
Some people complain that ITV3 is nearly all repeats, but many people like to be able to watch classic drama again and ITV3 is the perfect way to do this. The channel also repeats some ITV1 shows now including The Bill.
They also sometimes air classic films and documentaries.
If you like dramas then give ITV3 a try and see if you like what they offer.