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Member since: 09.06.2009

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    • Room 101 / Discussion / 20 Readings / 15 Ratings
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      29.03.2010 15:40
      Very helpful



      This has made me feel a little bit better.

      Things I hate.

      1) Wasps.

      Quite frankly, I hate them and can't see the point of them. It must be where I live because every summer I seem to have to fight them off whenever the weather is decent enough to sit outside, and every insect repellant I have ever tried never seems to be enough.

      Bees are fine, they go about their business and don't pester you to death when you're trying to eat your evening meal or find every conceivable entrance to my home and take up residence. I think I have an actual phobia of them because they drive me nuts.

      2) People who park on pavements and make me walk into the road

      Drivers who do this really wind me up. I know they say it's because they want to leave more room on the road (usually as they have double parked) but it's really inconsiderate to leave your car on the pavement and leave no room for pedestrians to make use of the pavement. It's not just me, what about people in wheelchairs or mobility carriages? Or mums with pushchairs? Partially sighted people? Why should they have to navigate the road and risk being run down just because someone can't be bothered to park legally and considerately.

      3) People who bid on your listing on ebay at the last second and then don't pay for five days

      If you can manage to outbid everyone else at the last second then you can click on the 'Pay Now' button to send your cash via PayPal. If you are not going to be around when the auction finishes and use one of those remote bidder thingys then a quick email explaining the situation to the seller is common courtesy.

      4) People who misbehave on aeroplanes (this includes drunk and obnoxious adults and bady behaved children)

      Nobody likes to be cooped up in the tiny space as we hurtle at 500mph to our destination but it would be a much less fraught experience if everyone had some consideration for the people around them. The first flight I ever took (at age 24) I had the misfortune to sit behind a young child who found it hilarious to throw wet wipes over the seat behind them, directly into my lap. The mother half heartedly admonished her child but then just gave up and smiled as the child continued giggling at her new favourite pastime.

      5) Primark

      This shop is useless, crap quality and has dubious ethical standards. Most of the contents of it are usually to be found on the floor in a huge pile and if you do have the misfortune of finding something you want to purchase then you can look forward to a two hour wait at the tills as everyone else spends the equivalent of a small mortgage on cheap summer t-shirts that don't have enough quality to survive the first wash.

      6) People who try and barge into a lift before you've had chance to exit it.

      Seriously people, there will be no room for you to get into it if I can't get out of it! Stand back a bit and wait two seconds.

      7) That Go Compare man who jumps out at inappropriate times and pretends to be some sort of Pavarotti impersonator.

      It drives me nuts. Enough said.

      8) People see their friend at the supermarket and block the aisle with their trollies while they have a chat.

      Especially if they have their children in one of those daft car attachments to the trolly that I've seen in Tesco, that takes up half the aise itself. Why can't they meet for lunch or at the pub if they want a chat? Or on Skype or something....

      Now, that's off my chest I can finish my lunch hour and get some work done.


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    • More +
      20.03.2010 09:19
      Very helpful



      Worth making the jump

      Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium

      Windows 7 is the updated and improved Microsoft Operating System which was launched in late 2009. It was well documented that Windows Vista, the previous OS had lots of problems and bugs and consumers were tearing their hair out when trying to upgrade from the previously stable Windows XP.

      I actually liked Vista and had no real problems when I upgraded, mainly because I waited several months for them to iron out all the teething problems, but it did have it's faults. The main one I found was that it took lots and lots of system memory and I didn't feel like it ran properly without at least 4GB of RAM and a fast dual core processor.

      You can tell the difference with 7, it is far faster to load up and shut down and programs load up a lot faster. I'm curently running 7 Home premium with 4BG RAM on my laptop and it's lightening fast. My desktop only has 3GB but it is running far faster than with Vista Home Premium.

      Look and Feel

      Windows 7 is not all that much different from its predecessor Windows Vista in the way it looks. The desktop is pretty much the same, with the Vista style 'widgets' which are customisable, as before. Instead of "windows" at the bottom of the screen you see an icon of whatever program you have running at the time.

      What isn't included

      I was quite surprised to find that you don't have a free email reader included such as Windows Mail/Outlook Express. Windows Movie Maker isn't included but can be downloaded from microsoft.com, although it is version 2.6 and not the improved version which shipped with Vista. If you're upgrading from XP this isn't too much of a problem but I was very disappointed not to get the updated version I had been using previously with Vista Home Premium.

      New stuff that comes with Windows 7

      The Snipping Tool

      This is quite a nifty program that allows you to cut and paste using what amounts to a selection tool. Instead of using the Print Screen button to copy what's on your screen, you can select what you want using the mouse and either cut and paste into another program (paint, word etc) or save as a JPEG or PNG file.

      Rotating Desktop Images

      You can choose to rotate your desktop images using the themes option in Desktop Personalisation. I'm not sure if you can do it using your own images, but you can set your desktop to rotate various images depending on which aero theme you choose.

      Sticky Notes feature

      This allows you to have an electronic version of the yellow sticky notes on your desktop. I don't use it much as as I can't stand clutter on my desktop but this would be useful if you needs lots of reminders and have nowhere to put real sticky notes.


      All being said, Windows 7 is a much better operating system that Windows Vista. It's faster and more efficient and looks good too. If you have any version of Vista then I would recommend making the jump to 7.


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      • General / Discussion / 24 Readings / 19 Ratings
        More +
        21.01.2010 23:23
        Very helpful



        A few things about me

        1)How old are you?

        2) Colour of my eyes?

        3) How tall are you?
        5ft 5.5 inches according to the height/weight machine at the gym.

        4) Hair colour?
        Blonde-ish. Could possibly be described as light brown.

        5) Any brothers or sisters?
        One sister who is 15 months younger than me.

        6) Do you prefer cats or dogs?
        I suppose I'd say dogs, as I've never really been around cats that much.

        7)What job do you do?
        Legal Assistant

        8) Do you like your job?
        Most days.

        9) Favourite dessert?
        Chocolate fudge cake. Although I do like apple crumble with strawberry ice cream

        10) Food that I loathe?
        Liver. I also can't stand margarine/butter or any other kind of spreadable fat.

        11) Sweet or Savoury?
        Erm, both. But not at the same time.

        12) The last 3 films I watched?
        Terminator Salvation, 17 Again and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. I still can't decide if I liked the Terminator film or not.

        13) Song I can't get out of my head?
        Hallelujah, the Katherine Jenkins version.

        14) Favourite Programme?
        Bones. Closely followed by CSI : New York, and Legend of the Seeker.

        15) Next Holiday
        Spain, but hoping for Egypt later in the year. I went two years ago and would love to go back.

        16) Favourite Country?
        France. But I also like America.

        17) Favourite beach holiday?
        France as a kid, we lived on the beach.

        18) Favourite hobby?
        Digital photography, and editing my images afterwards. I love Photoshop.

        19) The last thing that made me laugh?
        Watching The Simpsons earlier this evening.

        20) Favourite cocktail?
        Cosmopolitan, although I had one on holiday last year called 'Idyllic Isles' which went down pretty well.


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      • musicmagpie.co.uk / Internet Site / 18 Readings / 18 Ratings
        More +
        14.01.2010 15:07
        Very helpful
        1 Comment



        Worth using if you can't sell elsewhere.

        Like a lot of people nowadays, I hardly ever buy CD's any more. My iPod is my music centre and iTunes my music shop of choice.

        However, over the years I have amassed quite a collection of CD albums which are now sitting in several boxes at the top of my wardrobe and are rapidly collecting dust. In the past I have sold my unwanted CD's, DVD's etc on ebay but sometimes no matter how long I list for, they just don't sell.

        One day I was reading an article on the internet about to raise some extra cash by selling unwanted items and music magpie was one of the options to consider.

        The premise is simple. Get a quote for your CD's (albums only, no singles at the moment), DVD's or games by inputting the barcode at their website, decide whether you want to accept it and then use their pre-paid labels to send in your goods. They will send you a cheque once the items have been received and processed at their end.

        There is a minimum of five items per trade so I decided to give it a go and see what happened.

        The website is easy to use with a big box for you to input the barcodes on the main page. You are then taken to a page where your quote is displayed and you can enter further barcodes from there. I just decided to send five CD's to start with and sold them all for £1.88. Once I clicked on the 'complete trade' button and registered my details (name, address, etc) I received an email telling me that a welcome pack and stickers would be on their way to me in the next three days.

        It took a over week for the pre-paid stickers and welcome pack to be delivered, which i though was a bit on the slow side but since the trade order was made on 29th November and it was the start of the Christmas post rush I gave them the benefit of the doubt. You can now print your own labels when placing an order, which cuts down on the time it takes to get the discs to them. My trade went off the next day and then it was just a case of waiting for the cheque.

        This is where I found the service was a bit disappointing as I didn't receive my cheque until 5th January. I did query this with them and to their credit they responded to the email stating that a cheque had been dispatched on 21st December. I know it was the Christmas period but I'd sold a mobile phone to Mazuma mobile on 26th December and I had my cheque within a week so in comparison I thought it was slow.

        In the end I was happy with the service as I sold five CD's that had been gathering dust and seemed impossible to sell elsewhere. Unlike ebay there are no listing or final value fees and any postage is free. However, their quotes are quite low - lowest seems to be around 30p, highest £3 - so I wouldn't sell anything to them that obviously has a value above that.

        Your CD's/DVD's/Games have to be in fairly good condition with no marks or deep scratches, and their T&C's state that they can deduct 50p as a refurbishment charge from the order if they deem the disc to be scratched. All discs that you send to them as part of a trade are non-returnable and their decision as to whether a disc is acceptable is final.

        It's a bit disappointing that they don't take CD singles as well because I've got stacks of those too, but for clearing out unwanted items that you can't sell elsewhere this is pretty good way of making some money.


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        • More +
          06.01.2010 17:08
          Very helpful



          Great stuff, would recommend

          I love No7 cosmetics and bought this particular foundation on a 3 for 2 offer because the protect and perfect version that I already owned was a little bit too dark for everyday wear.

          It comes in a 30ml frosted glass container with a black twist lid and 'No7' in gold on the top. It also comes with a little plastic spatula which I assume is for scraping out the last bits of foundation from the jar, although I'm not certain of this so feel free to correct!

          At £11 a jar I don't think it is too expensive, certainly not as expensive as other premium brands on the market.

          The box claims that the mousse is "light as air" and gives skin a powder soft finish keeping the skin shine free all day.

          The main thing that attracted me to this foundation is that it is a light mousse and blends easily without using a sponge. You only need a small amount and it covers easily, although I find that it does go all over my fingers and can be quite messy.

          I use 10 Ivory as my skin is quite fair and I don't like too much coverage so it looks obvious I am wearing foundation. It looks really natural and I haven't had to reapply during the day. I have normal to combination skin and it does reduce the shine that I sometimes get on my nose although I have found that it blends better if you use it right after moisturising.

          The one thing I don't like about this foundation - and it's only a tiny little gripe - is that it's described as fragrance free but I think when you first open the jar the smell is a little off-putting. However, you only use a little bit on your face and once blended it's fine.

          I'm glad I tried this foundation as it's easy and quick and gives great results compared to it's liquid counterparts.


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        • mazumamobile.com / Internet Site / 15 Readings / 13 Ratings
          More +
          02.01.2010 19:52
          Very helpful



          Environmentally friendly way to make some cash

          I recently bought my sister a new mobile phone for her birthday as she'd been using hers for several years and it was looking somewhat worse for wear.

          I usually sell my old mobile phones on ebay, but I usually upgrade every twelve months and they are in much better condition, but as this one had been used for years and had some scratches etc that wasn't an option.

          I'd seen an advertisement for Mazuma Mobile on the TV and decided to visit the website to see if they would offer any cash for a very well worn Samsung D600.

          The website was really easy to use, you just type in the model number of your phone and if it is in their database a picture of your mobile appears on the search results page. Alternatively you can browse by manufacturer and select your model from the pictures that are displayed.

          You just click on the selected model and a quote for the phone is displayed. You then select whether or not your mobile is working or not and the relevant price comes up.

          I was quoted £5.00 for the (working) phone or £5.50 in Argos vouchers. I would say that this would be quite helpful if you were to buy your new phone from Argos as you are getting more for your money.

          Deciding to opt for the cheque I clicked the 'sell now' button and was taken to a page where I entered my name and address and selected a password for logging in to the site. I then had a 'Sell Order Confirmation' email which informed me that I would receive a pre-paid envelope for my phone within 48 hours. Bearing in mind this was Boxing Day (Saturday), I received my envelope the following Wednesday which I thought was pretty good considering the Christmas post.

          I stuck the phone in the envelope and took it to the post office. All you need to include is the phone and the battery, the charger can be discarded.

          The instructions that came with the envelope recommend that you send high value phones via recorded delivery or tracked mail, but since mine was only a fiver I just got proof of posting from the post office in case it went missing. Obviously the more expensive phones would need to be sent with sufficient insurance in case they got lost in the post.

          I kept receiving emails at every stage to inform me at what point my order was at, which I thought was very efficient and professional. I was told when the order had been processed and accepted and that a cheque was on it's way to me, which I received on 2nd Jan, so just over a week since I placed the sell order.

          I'm always wary about sites like this who offer such great prices for your mobile, with the inevitable question being 'will I send my expensive mobile off and never hear anything back?'

          I decided to try it out with an old phone that wasn't really worth much and I am happy to say that it worked out fine, and I was really impressed with the service.

          Mazuma are one of the better firms out there for recycling your old phone and the prices are pretty decent. If my phone hadn't been working they still would have offered me £2 according to the quote I received for a non-working phone.

          I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them, and may even consider getting a quote for my phone when it comes up for upgrade this year.


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        • More +
          20.12.2009 12:35
          Very helpful



          Nice for a change but I wouldn't use every day

          I bought this mascara in black cherry as I fancied wearing something a bit different than the usual black or black/brown mascara I have in my makeup box.

          I actually bought the mini version as it was cheaper (£8.50) and because it isn't really an every day colour I wouldn't be using it all the time. It came in it's own little box which was dark pink and purple in a sort of 60's Austin Powers type theme. The mini version is 7.5g and I would say is just enough for special occasions or travelling.

          Much as I am a fan of Urban Decay I had mixed feelings about this mascara when I tried it out.

          The brush seems quite dry and when I applied it there were a few clumps on my eyelashes. I had to use quite a lot to get any kind of effect from the colour and I didn't think it opened up my eyes the way other mascaras I have tried do.

          The colour was quite subtle on first application and I had to use a lot to get a stand out effect, which made my lashes then feel quite heavy.

          However, it did stay put and didn't smudge, even when I rubbed my eyes. It did flake a bit though towards the end of the day but it came off easily with makeup remover.

          I liked the different colour of this mascara but I don't think I would buy it again, as it was a bit of a let down compared to other mascaras on the market.


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        • More +
          05.12.2009 00:12
          Very helpful



          Worth the money, will buy again.

          I've recently become a convert to the Boots No7 range of both makeup and skin care products. I decided when I turned 30 that I was going to stop spending lots of cash on cheap makeup that lasted around five minutes and have some decent stuff.

          I like the No7 range because it's not too expensive and they are always handing out vouchers for £5 off which makes it even better value for money.

          I decided to get the trio of Stay Perfect eyeshadow because I was going on holiday and wanted the three colours to take with me without taking three separate eyeshadows and paying three separate prices. The price was £9.50 but I bought it as part of a 3 for 2 offer, so I bought my eyeshadow and mascara and got a glitter eyeliner for free, as well as £5 off with my voucher.

          There are 13 different eyeshadow trio colours on the Boots website, which is where I buy my makeup from, so there is plenty of colours to choose from. The colour I picked was Number 20 named 'Good Earth' which is two shades of brown and a lighter cream colour for blending. I like this for everyday use as it's not too overpowering.

          The shadow comes in an oval shaped case which has the three colours (the lighter shade has slightly more eyeshadow in it than the other two) and comes with a small applicator brush. I don't use this everyday as I find it a bit too fiddly but I did use it on holiday as I didn't take my full makeup brush set.

          The eyeshadow itself is easy to apply and I am always careful not to use too much otherwise it can seem overdone.

          Now this eyeshadow is advertised as "lasting for hours" on the Boots website and after testing it I have to agree. I put my makeup on at 8.30 in the morning and when I finally came to take it off at 8pm that night it was still in place. What makes it even more remarkable to me was that I had been for my lunchtime swim (but not in the pool as I was feeling idle!) and spent fifteen minutes in the sauna without taking my makeup off. Afterwards I went in the jacuzzi for ten minutes and my friend even commented "you look very relaxed and even your eyemakeup is still intact!"

          On closer inspection afterwards my eyeshadow was still there and I only required a quick mascara top up. I did wonder if the heat from the sauna would melt my makeup and I would emerge with panda eyes from all the sweating but I have to say that I was very impressed with the staying power.

          I would definitely recommend this eyeshadow and am now looking at buying one or two more trios, perhaps in darker shades for the smoky eyes look.


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        • East Midlands Airport / Airport / 22 Readings / 22 Ratings
          More +
          01.12.2009 15:04
          Very helpful
          1 Comment



          Good for travel to Europe

          East Midlands Airport is a regional airport located in Castle Donington in Derbyshire. There are flights available to many European destinations, as well as Egypt, USA (Florida) and the Caribbean with charter airlines.

          I have flown from this airport many times and it is my favourite airport mainly due to it's location, ease of access and relaxed atmosphere.

          It is easily accessed by car from the M1 (Junction 23 and 23A) or the A50 which is the road I use when travelling from Staffordshire. I live around 50 miles from the airport but the A50 is a relatively quiet road so it's a nice 40 minute drive and I can start my holiday. I find it's easiest to travel to by car but there are local rail links and the airport can be reached from Loughborough, Derby and Nottingham railway stations, depending on where in the country you are travelling from. All the above stations have a transfer bus to the airport.

          The airport has several car parks - 1 short stay for very short trips as well as pick up and drop off and 6 long term car parks. 4 of these are within walking distance of the terminal and the other 2 require a short transfer by bus. You can pre-book the spaces or just turn up and park and pay on exit.

          Once you get into the terminal building the check-in desks and self service check-in machines are in two big halls. I've mainly flown with Easyjet and their desks are in one hall with Ryanair and I think BMI Baby. Everything else (Thomas Cook, Thomson, First Choice etc) are in another. There isn't much else other than a cafe and the toilets outside of departures, which wasn't always the case, but it's really all you need if you are either picking up/dropping off or are going to be going airside anyway.

          Going through security there are lots of shops and places to eat. Everything is mainly all on one level, with shops on one side and the departure gates on the other with lots of seats for when you are waiting. There is a Boots, Dixons Tax Free shopping, Duty Free Shop and Accessorize for anything you need on your journey. There is a bar and places to get something to eat (including cafe Ritazza, Burger King and Pizza Hut Express upstairs). I've had breakfast there before early morning flights and while it's a bit expensive, for an airport it's not too bad.

          There are plenty of screens around so you can check on the status of your flight, and the tannoy system is pretty good so you can hear all the announcements quite clearly.

          What I love about East Midlands is that there are never huge crowds of people or massive queues. If you travel early in the morning it is fairly deserted. The only small problem I would say is that when a flight is called and everyone moves to the gate it can get a bit crowded and difficult to move past.

          All in all I think this is a great little airport and for me it takes a lot of the stress out of air travel with it's simple layout and acessibility.


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          • More +
            26.11.2009 15:29
            Very helpful



            Well worth a trip, take a camera

            Everyone has heard of the ancient Roman city that lay at the foot of Mount Vesuvius and was completely buried by lava and ash when the volcano erupted in 79AD. It had been almost perfectly preserved for almost two thousand years before it was rediscovered in 1748 and is now one of the most popular tourist sites in Italy.

            I recently went on a cruise around the Mediterranean Sea, where the first port of call was Naples in Italy. There were many shore excursions on offer in the area but the one that my sister and I chose to go on was the tour of Pompeii and a trip up Mount Vesuvius in a 4x4 monster truck. The cost of our excursion was £56 paid through Thomson but I think the actual entrance fee is 11EURO for adults and 5.5EURO for children, according to sources on the internet.
            Our tour started at the main entrance to the archaeological site, and we began our walking tour with our English speaking tour guide Francesco. The tickets were arranged for us, and we were all wearing radios so Francesco could talk to us and give us some of the history of what we were looking at. Due to the fact that we had limited time, and the ruins of Pompeii are over a large area, we were only going to be seeing some of the city which I think could be considered to be the highlights.

            We visited in November, so the crowds were quite light and the weather was not too cold (around 16/17C) although unfortunately on our visit the weather was stormy and wet for part of the day. I would recommend taking an umbrella with you in any event, to provide shade from the sun in summer and rain in winter. We didn't, and managed to get soaked!! It's a long walk around and the roads are uneven in places so trainers or good walking shoes are a must.
            The first thing that you notice about Pompeii is how advanced the Romans were. Everything seemed incredibly well planned, and well constructed with drinking fountains by the side of the road and the Roman equivalent of speed bumps to slow the Chariots down as they passed through the city. We were taken inside one of the houses in the town which had I think three rooms and a garden at the back. The walls were still painted and Francesco said that the red colour was practically unique and very difficult to reproduce. The detail was amazing in the pictures on the wall and it is incredible that they have survived for so long.

            We were taken inside the local brothel - a welcome respite from the thunder and rain even though we only got to stay for a couple of minutes. There were some quite explicit pictures on the wall which Francesco said were kind of like the 'menu' of what was on offer as back then some of the men had trouble with reading so they just pointed at the pictures to express what they wanted! It was quite amusing as Francesco kept shaking his head and referring to the "naughty Romans!"
            We saw the amazing courthouse area where the lawyers of the time were apparently not allowed to accept payment for their work, but could accept gifts in the form of gold, silver, jewellery and houses!

            One of the last sites we came past was where they had plaster casts of some of the victims from Pompeii, which was quite haunting as you saw them lying on the ground covering their eyes from the dust and ash.
            The two hours of the tour went by quite quickly and we were soon taken back to the 'touristy' area just outside the entrance to the ruins. Here you can buy souvenirs, have some food or use the toilets and most of the coaches are parked nearby. I bought a fridge magnet from one of the market stalls where the woman tried to sell me 35EURO book on Pompeii with quite some force so you have to be firm and say no if you don't want anything.

            Pompeii is a great place to visit and well worth the time spent there. It is an amazing insight into life thousands of years ago and it is incredible how well everything has been preserved. I think I have been quite fortunate to have seen both Pompeii and the ancient Pyramids in Cairo and both have been a great experience


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          • More +
            29.10.2009 00:05
            Very helpful



            A bit expensive but worth it for the results.

            I have recently become a convert to the No7 Protect and Perfect range, having bought the beauty serum and day cream so I decided to invest in the foundation as well to complete the set.

            This particular foundation was purchased from boots.com so I used the online colour swatch to pick the colour I wanted. I picked the lightest shade as I have fair skin and don't like to make it look obvious that I am wearing lots of makeup but wanted something that evened out my skin tone and looked natural.

            The foundation comes in a nice sized bottle with a small pump dispenser. The bottle seems fairly heavy duty so I don't think it would break if you accidentally dropped it on the carpet, and it has a nice frosted glass finish.

            It is easy to apply, as most liquid foundation usually is, but I found I could use my fingers to easily blend it on my skin unlike other foundations I have tried where I have needed a makeup sponge and moisturiser to blend it properly.

            A little goes a long way, I usually only have to press the pump twice to get enough foundation for full face coverage. It's not too thick or too runny, I feel that the consistency is about right.

            It lasts all day, and even manages to stay on for the most part when I go for my lunchtime swim.

            I love the look this foundation gives my skin when it's applied and blended, especially after using a face scrub. My skin looks fresher and more radiant and I'm very happy with the results.

            I don't think it's all that expensive for foundation, at around £15 for a bottle, because the results it gives are very pleasing.


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          • Sky HD / TV Channel / 15 Readings / 14 Ratings
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            25.10.2009 18:56
            Very helpful



            Well worth the money

            We decided to get Sky+ High Definition in our house when Setanta went bust earlier in the year and freed up £12.99 per month. We are currently with Sky so any other provider such as Virgin wasn't really an option as we are happy with the level of service.

            It was choice between high definition Sky or ESPN for the football and after visiting my uncle's house who already had a HD box, the choice was made, and I was on the sky website booking the upgrade.

            The deal at the time was the box for £49 which replaced our current Sky+ box, £30 for installation and one month's free subscription to the HD service which is normally £9.75 per month. The box is a nice sleek black colour which complements my nice black 32inch Samsung TV nicely.
            It has (I think) 160 GB recording space on it, although obviously recording HD programmes takes up more space than standard definition ones. I have to say that we record a lot of programmes and haven't yet run out of space so there is quite a lot of room on the box.

            In total Sky offer 34 HD channels, although this does depend on your subscription so if you don't pay for the movies or sports packs then you won't get the corresponding HD channel. Virgin offer 7 channels in total and FreeSat offer 2, so you are getting quite a choice with Sky even if you don't pay for movies or sport. My only niggle with the choice of channels is that you don't appear to be able to get ITV HD unless I'm missing something, and you don't get Living TV in HD either which is a shame because there are lots of popular shows on that particular channel.

            The quality is fantastic though, the clarity of the picture is amazing especially when watching football or tennis. I love watching older movies in HD as they look so much better than before.

            My only complaint is that we have had a few HD recordings fail for no apparent reason at all, but I don't know if that is just bad luck or what.

            For £9.75 a month plus a reasonable setup and box fee I think taking the plunge and upgrading was definitely worth it.


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          • More +
            23.10.2009 15:12
            Very helpful



            I always like to try and be organised!

            I'm going on holiday in a couple of weeks time so it's round about now that I am usually making loads of lists detailing everything I'm going to need.

            Here are the top ten things (in no particular order) that I always make sure are accompanying me on my travels.

            1) Travel Documents folder.

            I say folder, but it's actually a clear plastic envelope of around A5 size that I bought from WH Smith to keep all my documents inside. In it I keep my passport, travel insurance document with contact details and policy number, car park confirmation and airline tickets or confirmation printout if it's a ticketless airline. This is quite handy to have as everything is together, and if I get any receipts for the car keys and stuff then I can keep it safe.

            2) Camera.

            Even if you just take a few snaps on the beach, I think a camera is essential for remembering your hard earned holiday or trip. One tip, don't pack it in your suitcase - however small it is - as my friend had hers stolen after she checked her bag and the travel insurance policy had such a big excess that it wasn't worth claiming and it cost her the price of a new one.

            3) First aid kit

            You can guarantee that you will need painkillers, plasters, diarrhoea tablets, indigestion tablets and anything else that you take on a regular basis. I always take some ibuprofen in my hand luggage as the air pressure plays havoc with my sinuses and I sometimes end up with a bad headache, especially on long flights. I once had a migraine on a flight to New York and I was especially grateful for my nurofen. If the medication is something you rely on then it's always best to take it in your hand luggage, although obviously if it's in liquid form get the relevant permissions first.

            4) ipod or mp3 player.

            I would be completely lost without my music when I go on holiday. It's great to listen to while waiting for the flight, on the plane, by the pool, on the beach etc. If you have a player with video capability then it's excellent for entertainment if you have episodes of your favourite tv show or movie on it.

            5) Phone.

            This is indespensible for me, even more so if i was travelling alone. It can be used as a backup camera if it has that capability, and these days a picture message is probably cheaper and quicker than sending a postcard. I always make sure the charger is with me though, and that I've double checked the roaming tariffs for the country I'm going to. Don't want to come back to a big bill!

            6) Credit and Debit Card.

            I always take a small amount of cash with me for things I might need to buy as soon as I arrive at my destination but I always check that I have my debit card and 1 credit card for absolute emergencies. I always check the commission fee that my bank charge for me using my card abroad and if possible try and find out if there are any cash machines in the town I'm going to.

            7) Travel sized toiletries

            Most shops like Tesco, Boots or Superdrug sell mini versions of popular shampoo, shower gel, toothpaste etc, which I find last around a week or so. I always take the smaller versions so I use them up and throw them away before I come home. With such harsh weight restrictions on planes these days I don't like to take the bigger versions as it makes my case quite heavy, and I'd rather use my allowance coming back for souvenirs I have bought on holiday.

            8) Sun cream and insect repellant

            I always take my factor 50 suncream on holidays abroad with the intention of using it all, for the same reasons stated above. Don't want to take chances with skin cancer or premature ageing now I'm 30. The Boots soltan range that I use has insect repellant built in and I don't have any trouble with mosquitos very much (thankfully).

            9) Sunglasses

            Can't do without them when the sun is out. I have a prescription pair as I'm short sighted so these always travel with me on the plane. A decent pair with UV protection are a must to protect the eyes.

            10) Clothes

            Because you won't get far on holiday without clothes! :-) I'm quite sad and take a spare t-shirt and clean underwear in my hand baggage in case of disaster. If I'm travelling with my sister we always swap a few outfits in the event that one suitcase goes missing. I don't take a huge amount of clothes with me, much to the amusement of everyone I work with, and I'm always trying to cut it down further.


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            • More +
              11.10.2009 13:27
              Very helpful
              1 Comment



              Lovely bags, already saving for the next one

              I was first introduced to Radley by my friend at work who showed me a purse she wanted on the internet. At the time I was more into Guess handbags, mainly because I had just been to America and bought one for less than £20, but I started to take notice of the brand in case I could find something cheap enough to buy as a Christmas present.

              I had bought a Guess purse back from America for my friend but she had been talking so much about Radley that I suggested she sell the Guess purse on ebay and put any profits towards a Radley Bubbles purse she had her eye on. With around £25 in the kitty we scoured the internet and found a lovely Radley purse in the Bubbles style. When the purse arrived she showed it to me and I was converted.

              The leather was top quality, it had plenty of space for coins, notes and credit cards (and I have loads of store loyalty cards that need to be fitted in) and even had space for my photocard driving licence to be put on display.

              From then on I decided that Radley was to be my bag of choice. On Christmas day last year I was on the debenhams.com website ordering a mini clutch bag in the sale for £20. Given that they normal retail for around £30 I was happy with my purchase. It's a lovely little bag with enough room for purse and phone on a night out and you can either hold it in your hand or use it as a very small shoulder bag.

              I finally splashed out on a bag for myself about six months ago, a brown "Cayman" shoulder bag to use everyday. The leather is fantastic quality and it has lots of pockets for your mobile phone or ipod.

              I like the classic design of the handbags and they come in a range of colours and styles.

              Radley is actually very selective with who they choose to retail their products, with Debenhams, John Lewis and House of Fraser being the main department stores to sell the bags and accessories, outside of the radley.co.uk website and their own shops.

              The bags and purses are quite expensive but in my opinion it is worth saving for as the quality is great and it will last for a long time. The Radley site sometimes has offers, such as free purse with bag over £100 or a three for two promotion which I had a purse, re-usable foldaway bag and phone holder from. You can get bargains at Debenhams or House of Fraser after Christmas or in their mid season sale too.


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              • topcashback.co.uk / Internet Site / 17 Readings / 17 Ratings
                More +
                03.10.2009 02:41
                Very helpful
                1 Comment



                Worth the effort

                Ever since this credit crunch started I have been looking for a way to save more money, as well as make the most of the money that I spend.

                I was browsing the internet at work one lunchtime and came across an article on yahoo.co.uk about how to make extra income during your lunch hour for minimal effort, and one of the ways was using a cashback site.

                I have always been a bit wary of such things but I read the article, as well as reading recommendations from sites such as moneysavingexpert.com and decided to sign up and see what happened.

                Basically the jist of using a cashback site is that you click through to certain internet retailers from a link on the site and you get back a percentage of what you spend.

                I decided on topcashback.co.uk because there was a huge range of retailers and they offered up to 110% cashback. There was also a helpful 'how to' guide on the site which explained how things worked and also explained about 'no purchase offers' which is where you get rewarded even if you haven't made a purchase. You can get cashback for filling out application forms, or clicking on leads and searching the internet using various search engines.

                It is a little bit time consuming, but you can boost your earnings a little and as Tesco are fond of saying "every little helps". I am just a little wary of entering personal details as you may be left open to spam or even identity fraud if you are not careful about where your information is going.

                I have now been registered with Topcashback for around four months and always check the site before making an online purchase. My 'earnings' at the moment are roughly £65 so far. This has built up quite quickly and I have claimed £11 because I wanted to test the system and see that it actually worked (me being naturally suspicious and cynical). I put in a request to be paid, and the money arrived in my bank account within three or four days I think it was.

                The layout of the 'My Earnings' feature is simple - you have a list of merchants that you have clicked through and purchased from with 'Pending' 'Confirmed' 'Payable' and 'Claimed' table boxes with your amount of cashback in the relevant one.

                It usually takes several weeks for cashback to become confirmed and payable, so it's not a quick way of earning money but it is usually reliable and you can make manual claims if your cashback has not tracked properly.

                There are some occasions when your cashback award will track quickly and become confirmed, but not be paid because the retailer hasn't sent the cashback to Topcashback. I would read the reviews on the site to see how good the retailer with the cashback and see if it's worth clicking through. It's worth bearing in mind thought, that different people have different experiences and you might get the cashback easily while someone else has had a tough time wrangling it out of them.

                I am using topcashback.co.uk to save a little bit of money from my essential online purchases to put towards Christmas and my holiday. It fairly easy to let it build up and you will be surprised how quickly it does rack up.

                In summary, this is a reliable cashback site which is a good way of earning some extra cash while you are spending it!!


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