- Premium reviews
- Express reviews
- Reviews rated
- Ratings received
As the name implies a New Birth in the design of child carseats. Designed for the 9kg-18kg weight range, approximately 9 months to around 4 years. Offering One handed multi recline facility, five point harness with unique adjust a fit system ensuring safe travel on every journey. Seat belt tensioning foot with 2 lock off clasps. Will fit securely into many cars with both lap and lap and diagonal seat belts. (Universal) Deep padded comfortable seat with fitted headrest, chest and tummy pads. Conforming to ECE R44/03 regulations, this seat retails for around 140 pounds in baby and toy shops, and many high streets stores. Seeking a new child seat can be more difficult than you would expect when searching for the perfect fit. Our now elderly Club class child seat had certainly seen better days I discovered to my horror. Now anyone would think that buying a new seat to fit a car would be easy!!, hmmm not so. Thinking that all carseats stating ?Suitable for lap strap? would indeed be the case. Before we start Here is a vital fact ***************DO NOT USE CHILD SEATS IN THE FRONT OF CARS WHERE AN AIRBAG IS FITTED, IT IS POTENTIALLY FATAL)************* You should not buy a secondhand seat unless you know the history of it. You childs straps need checking and adjusting on every journey, remember to take into account your childs clothing. You are in the car through choice, your child isn't, make it as safe and pleasant as you can for everyone Now that is out of the way on with the opinion. We have an imported Toyota Townace which is only fitted with lap belts.(All six back seats). My tester was my very nearly 3 year old daughter, who had perfected the art of removing both arms from the shoulder harness, rendering the seat totally useless. Her weight dictated that she still needed to be in a full seat. With a younger sister hot on her heels I was quite happy to look at
the entire range of seats available knowing that I will be getting my moneys worth out of it. I didn?t really want to buy another Clubclass so I scanned the entire market and whittled it down to around 8 different seats. The Club class actually fit perfectly but was in shocking condition, and due to the tubular frame could only sit on the rear seats without the bars sliding down the gap between seats. Harmony also seemed too tall for the shoulder straps. Harmony and I headed off to Halfords for their advertised specialist Car Seat fitter to do battle with my trusty Townace. Choosing from their depleted range didn?t take long. Honestly I was not impressed with the selection in store, I had expected far more to be on show than there were, again if I ordered a seat from their extensive catalogue I would be faced a problem, would it fit securely?. The young gent was extremely helpful and happily trundled out to the car, seats in hand. After a strenuous 15 minute battle with the first two(Concorde and Graco) we headed back into the shop. Deciding that this was actually going a little more complicated than I first imagined, we tried the next two.(Another concorde and a Britax Eclipse). This time the Eclipse nearly fit. There was just the littlest movement, but to my thinking it was too much. Having seen a great deal at Tescos we headed off to try the Maxi cosi seat. Unfortunately that one didn?t fit either, pity really because it was a really nice seat. Now dejected wondering if I would ever find one that really fit, we contacted Britax who replied ?Toyota what ace, no sorry don?t have any records of that?. Plymouths Mothercare is badly situated so parking the car nearby to fit seats is a no no, however Toys`r`us have a large carpark and a wide selection of seats, including a few that I hadn?t tried. Although the staff were a bit sparse, after a little persuasion I managed to con
vince the one and only baby advisor to accompany me out with another Britax, this time a Freeway. She had worked there for 4 years and no-one had asked to fit a seat before buying it before(Huh!!) Nope not a chance of the Freeway fitting in any of the seats. My choices were becoming fewer and fewer. Lurking on the shelf was another Britax, this time the top of the range all singing all dancing multi reclining adjust a fit harnessed Renaissance. Reduced from 140 to 114 pounds it was certainly worth a look. This carseat was certainly the most substantial seat I had tried all day, it weighed a ton. To my utter amazement after a few minor adjustments here and there it started to look promising. The seat has a unique pair of lock off clips and a seatbelt tensioning foot which removes all slack from the seatbelt. by depressing itself deep into the cushion of the cars own seat and pulling the belt tight. The lever is easy to operate and uncomplicated. This done the seat was incredibly stable and more secure than any seat I had managed to install in the car. Now how did Harmony fit in the thing? Really well, with the adjust a fit harness system; the height of the straps is fully adjustable at the slide of a catch on the back of the back of the seat. The straps have an integral headrest which adjusts with the belt height. The 5 point harness is easy for an adult to use but difficult for a toddler to undo. The Straps are tightened by the pull of a single strap between Harmonys legs, and loosened by depressing a button just above the single strap. The deep padded side wings give additional side impact protection. Harmonys head is not quite level with the top of the seat and there is a fair bit of space left for growing room both upwards and outwards.(She will need transferring to the next stage seat when her eyes are level with the top of the seat or she reaches 19 kgs) Now came the r
eal test, could Harmony wriggle her arms out of the harness? Nope not a hope in h*ll. How easy was the seat to recline? Very very easy, much easier than the Club class had been and that was easy. It is simply a matter of reaching under the seat and pulling the lever which is nicely grip shaped and sliding the seat either forwards or backwards into the desired position. How many positions could I recline it into. 5 through from upright to fully recline(Which does look a tad comfy, wouldn?t it be nice if they made these for adults too!!!) Now that we had a fit we removed the seat and went back into the store to buy one. To my utter disbelief they didn?t have any more in stock, only the display model. I was caught in a quandary did I push for a further reduction due to it being the floor sample or did I head off to Mothercare, pay to park the car and spend another thirty quid on it to boot. Now offered for sale at a ridiculous ninetynine pounds how could I resist, we shortly became the proud owners of seat. It was just as easy to install it the second time. Quick painless and secure. So now that I?ve had it for a week do I still think it is as good? Absolutely, although there are a couple of things that I would like to see, on a couple of other brands of seat there are seat belt holders for the child?s harness when not in use, allowing easy fitting without having to search behind the child for the respective straps. It is incredibly heavy to carry and would be probably suited to use in a single car rather than transporting this seat from car to car. Harmony has still not been able to release herself from the seat, however it is interesting to note that her 4 year old sister is quite capable and strong to undo Harmonys clip. She fits into it perfectly with or without outer heavy coats and her belts are easily adjusted with the minimal amount of fuss. What I really
like about this seat It actually fits into our car very well. It has a special belt tensioning foot ensuring a tight fit. Two lock off clasps preventing slack in the car seat belt(Anchor) The seat cover and pads which are removable for washing at 30o, it is not however suitable for tumbling. (Ours is navy blue check) It sits up higher than most other seats allowing a better view for smaller occupants. The single one handed belt adjuster. The intergral headrest which moves along with the height. The deep side wings for extra protection. The 5 positions that it can be set at. Not having to unthread the whole belt system to move the shoulder belts height(The adjust a fit system)to suit smaller travelers. There are no visible metal fittings for sunlight to heat up. Ability to replace worn covers through seat stockists. And Harmony cannot escape YAY!!! All in all a thoroughly brilliant seat, although originally a little expensive for my taste, I feel that we certainly got our moneys worth from it. An added tip, if you have any seat with a single adjust strap??. before undoing the clasp and removing the child press that magic button and loosen the 5 point system up, it makes the next journey much easier and less stressful than trying to place a wriggly child into straps that are too small.
Babies wide neck bottles capable of accommodating up to 9oz of liquid(That?s just under 260ml in English) Made of clear plastic and supplied with silicone teats, clip on lids and screw tops. With a difference???????. These bottles can be independently sterilized in the microwave.(Although they can be sterilized by all other methods too.) Sold by Mothercare in double packs for 5.99 and six pack at 19.99. As a sucker for new innovative ideas and products I couldn?t help but be drawn to these ingenious bottles. Fed up with the space that my conventional steam sterilizer takes up, and the constant dribble from the lid onto the worktops, I decided that there had to be a cleaner and quicker option, which could save valuable space in my shoebox for a kitchen. I had bought a double pack for a friend at work who had nothing but praise for them. Edens arrival meant it was time to practice what I was preaching. Having always been a big fan of Avent bottles I was slightly dubious about changing over. I have used them with my other 4 daughters why would I want to change now. I was fortunate enough to buy 5 Mothercare sterilizer bottles for a tenner from ebay and waited anxiously for their arrival. As promised they duly appeared, complete with instructions. To the untrained eye they just resemble standard wide necked bottles with the only tell tale sign of their uniqueness is the small chart on the side giving time and quantity details. These can be used in any microwave from 450-1100 watt, and really are child?s play. There are real benefits to steam sterilizing baby?s items instead of the traditional chemical method. The chemical method apart from being smelly and time consuming leaves chemical traces on the items which then all need rinsing in boiling water. There is also a financial benefit to steam sterilizing whether using a steamer or the microwave, there are no tablets or liq
uid to buy. Steam quickly and effectively removes the bacteria that can cause gastric problems, leaving no smell or taste and requiring no rinsing. It is recommended that babies feeding equipment is sterilized until they are a year old, however this a point for debate as too meticulous cleaning and sterilizing prevents a babies gut building up immunity and had on occasion been attributed to repeat bouts of gastroenteritis. When to stop sterilizing is a personal choice. These bottles are extremely easy to use following the comprehensive instructions supplied by Mothercare. After thorough cleaning and washing the bottles can be sterilized in record time.(And yes they are extremely easy to clean, no nasty little nooks and crannies for old milk to be trapped in. They have a larger than average tough plastic lid which has a fill level moulded into the side preventing over/under fill (about 30ml I think 1oz). To use you simply place the screw cap and teat into the prefilled lid and snap the bottle (upside-down) onto it until it clicks shut and voila ready to sterilize. Follow the time instructions on the side of the bottle (Which are conveniently printed the right way up, so you don?t have turn your prepared bottles upside-down again and spill the contents.) Simply place you bottles into the microwave and ZAP in less 6.5 minutes you have 6 sterile bottles. It takes only 1.5 minutes for one.(Perfect if like me you find yourself caught on the hop with a howling starving baby, and not a prepared bottle in sight) Cautionary note. Steam sterilizing makes your bottles and teats really really hot, unless you have asbestos fingers do not attempt to remove them until they cool,(Or until the howling becomes a blood curdling scream, then if you really must get them out, use gloves or something sensible). There is a convenient lip on the robust lid, (which doubles a substantial feeding cup for later on ) ens
uring that you can actually remove the lid (which by now has suctioned itself to the bottle). The markings are nice and clear and easy to read in both ounces and milliliters, and the bottle has a nice shape which sits easily in your hand. Almost any wide neck teat will fit, and currently I have a combination of Mothercares own, Avent variflow, and Avent disposable, Eden is not bothered which teat she has, they all fit nice and snuggly without leaks and all have good seals. Ater the bottle is made there is no spillage in the lid laying in wait unlike many other brands. They seem to be robust and made of sturdy plastic. Teeny tongs are supplied, but I found these more of a nuisance than a help. I did however discover a couple of slight drawbacks with these, they are really difficult bottles to undo single handed, in fact nigh on impossible unless you have thighs to crack nuts with, so that you can wedge it between them whilst you use every inch of your strength just to get the damn lid off. And the teat and screw top does not fit onto the lid independently, quite a nuisance when making 5 bottles. These are also sterilisable by all other conventional methods. Eden?s dummies also fit nicely into the bottles, and can be sterilized in half the time. As well as superb for use at home, they are extremely practical for traveling and ideal for spares at nannies etc. I feel that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages by far and would thoroughly recommend these bottles for any new mum. They may seem a little expensive at the outset, but these eliminate the need for bulky sterilizers and smelly solutions that stain your clothes given the first opportunity. Out with the Avent, in with the Mothercare Steam sterilizer be gone forever.
Angelcare baby monitor by Safety 1st. Designed to monitor your babies movements and to alarm if no movement is felt by the under mattress sensor within 20 seconds. Crystal clear reception on 2 channels, with adjustable volume and audible pip representing movements. Both mains and battery powered and costs around 60 pounds from reputable baby stockists and High street stores. ***Please note, these devices do not prevent cot death, they do however provide considerable reassurance to somewhat sleep deprived anxious parents*** With so many baby monitors on the market one could be forgiven for asking what the difference really is. They all listen out for your baby, nearly all are portable and depending on what you want it to do can range in price from 20 to 140 pounds, some have digital reception and some pretty nightlights, and a select few have movement monitors. Deciding which monitor to buy this time around was hastened by the premature arrival of my daughter. With 4 other children at home I didn?t have the time to do my homework on the range available, as I normally would when spending anything over a tenner. Hiding in the local classifieds was an ad for an Angelcare sound and movement monitor complete and working for twenty pounds. Deciding that my choice was made I made arrangements to collect. With no box or instructions the units were self explanatory. Consisting of a two small white plastic units which, when combined sit nicely one on top the other to resemble an Angel(I guess that is where they got the name from)Both units can be mains(Both adaptors supplied) or battery powered (PP9 9volt, not supplied)and have clear easy to read markings and switches. The top part of the combined unit is the parent part(receiver)with a nice circular aerial(Nice to hang the monitor up out of the way),in which the mains adaptor sits nice and snugly on the side. There are two channel for maximum cla
rity of reception and for privacy(Do be warned however we have on occasion been able to pick up the signal from a neighbors alarms so they are not quite as private as I would like.) Each unit has a small green light which is illuminated when the alarm is in use. There is also a battery low/power failure light The child unit (Transmitter) is very easy to set up and to install. This part of the monitor will pick up the slightest noise made by your child with crystal clear clarity. Powered by mains/batteries this unit has the option to use with or without the sensor mat included in the package. Fitted with an upright ?Rubber duck? type aerial the unit is unobtrusive and completely portable. The sensor mat is about 20cmX40cm and a couple of cms thick which is large enough for the transition from crib/carrycot to cot. Supplied with a long cable for connection to the transmitter, sensitivity can be adjusted according to your needs (or paranoia) with simple turn of a dial on the base of the unit. This mat is incredibly sensitive and reacts at the slightest movement with a satisfying click. If movement ceases for 20 seconds or more an alarm sounds to alert you. The alarm will not turn off until there is some movement or you physically turn it off by the switch. There is a switch which allows the sensor monitor to be turned off and the unit to be used for sound only. Happily settled into her carrycot with monitor attached Eden seemed oblivious to the constant unobtrusive uninvasive monitoring that she was receiving. A far cry from the previous two months. The reassuring constant tick tick tick allowed me sleep peacefully safe in the knowledge that if anything happened I would have a least some warning. It does not annoy me or anyone else in the house, it is more noticeable if it is not being used, I suppose it is a case of what your ears become accustomed to. Even with the volume turned completely do
wn it is still possible to hear the tick of movement. I constantly use the monitors and could not bear to be parted from them, so a recent trip to Sweden saw them go international. With the use of a travel adaptor they worked absolutely fine Then? on our way home tragedy struck, the baggage handlers were just a little too rough with the carrycot and our return the sensor pad just didn?t want to work anymore. Obviously I had bought it secondhand and had no guarantee. After an anxious night I decided that if I bought another Angelcare monitor system I would at least have two listening units and spare mains adaptors. Hotfooting to town at 9am precisely I hit Index as the doors opened. Now reduced by 10 pounds I happily took it home. As I opened the box I noticed a few subtle changes to the previous design. The overall parent unit looks very similar with the halo aerial, but is now a little smaller and more oval. Instead of a single green in use light there is a series which allow you to ?see? your baby crying without listening to it. The unit in now powered by mains or 4X1.5v AAA batteries. The baby unit is a lovely new design. Although these new units do not fit together one on top of the other, the cloud transmitter looks much nicer than the old design. It does very much as the old version did, but again is powered by AAA batteries instead. The clarity seems even better than the old version although feedback is possible in a small house. The units all work with each other, both old and new, obviously saving the need for constant moving of the adaptors and parent unit. The range is excellent and keeps a good signal for at least 100 metres, more than adequate for the standard family size house and garden. Eden does sometimes set her monitor off though, she has been known to have sleep apnea(Where she does stop breathing for a few seconds, common in premature babies), beli
eve me the alarm is loud enough and at the right frequency to wake you from even the deepest slumber. I really could not live peacefully without this gadget. This type of monitor is not designed to prevent cot death, latest information recommends babies sleep on their back with their feet at the bottom of their bed, known as feet to foot. They should also be kept away from smoky environments. Do not use a quilt until your baby is at least a year old. Pillows are also a big no no until a year. Secondhand mattresses are also believed to be dubious, if in doubt buy a new one. Mattresses need to be turned and if covered with waterproof backing thoroughly cleaned to reduce risk from bacterial growths or mould I would have no hesitation in recommending the Angelcare sound and movement monitor to anyone having a baby. I can?t actually think of any disadvantages to this product, even the price is what I would call reasonable. Advantages, yes there are several Ranging from a reassured nights sleep to great reception and from easy to use units to pretty designs; these monitors really do have it all. Thumbs up Safety 1st.
Jane? (Pronounced Hannay)Matrix fully reclining carseat with Powertrack ATP frame An innovative carseat/carrycot/three wheeler travel system designed for ultimate comfort. Boasting the only fully reclinable carseat on the market with all of the comfort and you would expect from a carseat retailing for around #150, and all the elegance and safety features you would require from the matching three wheeler. Combined this little lot costs around 350 which includes some accessories. Deciding on which pram to buy for your little bundle is never an easy choice, especially when your requirements are very specific. Why were my requirements so specific I hear you ask????? My daughter, now 4 months old was born 3 months early and does not like to be sat up for long periods of time in a standard infant carrier/carseat.We wanted something that would allow her to remain flat while she was out and about . The car is a Toyota Townace with lap belts fitted throughout the rear. Difficulty being is that all other infant car seats can only be secured in a lap and diagonal belt. New research has shown that it is beneficial for babies to travel lying flat and aids their digestive and respiratory systems instead of hunching them up and hindering them. Please check out this link to confirm my claim http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/1526517.stm Eden has had breathing problems from birth so I certainly did not want to contribute to her ill health. A three wheeler was an essential factor too, some of you may know that in a previous life I was an Organic farmer, so rugged terrain is our domain. I am not the tallest person on the planet therefore adjustable height had to have a bearing. Anyone would have thought that this would be an easy task really. We knew what we wanted yet couldn?t find one for looking. As Eden?s discharge date was looming nearer we still didn?t have the perfect pram in sigh
t. Stumbling around the internet at some ungodly hour of the night I came across a UK site called Two Left Feet, boasting a great range of three wheeler travel systems. Lo and behold the perfect solution a carseat that turns into a carrycot at the pull of a lever, and can travel safely whilst conforming to all safety regulations here in the UK, both reclined and in the seating position. In the carrycot position it can be used up to approximately 10 months or the appropriate weight, and in the seated position is safe until around 18 months. The seat attaches to a super light aluminium oval famed thee wheeler, with state of the art engineering. Deciding that this was definitely the pram for us we ordered one online. Delivery was swift and the pram arrived on time in excellent order. Assembly was easy and minimal.( unfortunately the clips to connect the seat to the pushchair had been forgotten, although they were sent the next day) Matrix fully reclining carseat Manufactured in substantial moulded plastic this carseat is larger than any other carseat you will ever see. Reclinable from a gentle seated position through to lying completely flat it is adaptable and suitable from birth. The Matrix is supplied with a luxuriously padded cover, which is removable for washing(a bit of a tight fit though) The harness in the seated position is three points, adjustable with a single pull strap and several seat siting holes for growing children. It is easy to fasten and has no get hot in the sun parts. It closes with a reassuring clunk. When using the seat as a carbed or carrycot the occupant is restrained by a wide secure cotton strap with Velcro fastening.(I know it doesn?t sound too secure, but believe me this seat was rated the second best in a field of fifty two in Which magazines latest tests tests. I am quite satisfied that it is adequate. Securing the ca
rbed is learning experience in itself. Once mastered is easy and very convenient and safe. The carbed c an be secured in the rear of a car using any combination of lap or lap and diagonal belts. It lays over two seats and is secured at each end by anchor points, a little tricky to begin with but again with a little practice becomes second nature. May I recommend several tryouts before you collect your baby from hospital. ******IMPORTANT NOTE HERE*********** Do NOT use any carseat in the front of a car fitted with an airbag. It is highly dangerous and will likely result in serious injury or death(Unless you have a deactivator chip inside your seat which this does NOT) The seated position is easy to install, like other carries/carseats utilizes the lap and diagonal belt in the front I personally find it easier to install by slightly reclining my own cars seat and tilting the babies seat forward(Why do they make those darn front seat belts so little LOL)and feeding the seatbelt around the clearly marked routings. Supplied with the seat is a full length cotton mattress that is comfy for heavy sleepers, which has guide holes for the waist belts to allow comfortable transportation. The seat itself is wide enough to accommodate most movement monitor sensor pads with no problem. The whole seat cover, hood, apron, mattress and pads etc are all fully machine washable for easy cleaning. The carseat itself is quite heavy, (3.3kilos) and is kitted out with an integral hood which attaches to the handle of the seat. The hood is adjustable with a little fiddling on both sides. Accessories included are head hugger, chest and shoulder pads, mattress for the base and a lovely snug fabric apron which fits when the seat in any position. Available in a variety of colourschemes. Fitting the seat to the chassis takes less than a couple of seconds again with clearly marked fittings and can be released
from the chassis equally as quickly simply by holding two catches and lifting the Matrix off. Downsides < br>Apart from the instructions for fitting the seat being a little vague and the overall weight I have yet to find one. The Powertrack ATP An extremely lightweight (about 7.5 kg,) three wheeler designed for safety, comfort, style and practicality. With oversize (33X21mm )aluminium oval tubing this has got to be one of the lightest strongest All Terrain Pushchairs available. The seat is generously wide and fully adjustable to suit babies from birth. It is machine washable on the coolest setting and really does look comfy. Fitted with a 5 point fully adjustable harness and padded removable bumper bar, the whole seat unit easily unpops from the frame to accommodate the Matrix or the Rebel carseat simply by fixing the special clasps to the frame(These can clips remain in place when the pushchair is folded) With comfortable armrests the seat will easily accommodate a growing child. The pushchair folds easily and can be put up and down quickly, however it cannot be done one handeldly.The safety catches are efficient and the pushchair can be neither folded nor unfolded without utilisng them. The stiffness of the mechanism I put down to being so new. Instead of the huge bulk of earlier 3 wheelers the Powertrack folds telescopically and locks closed allowing the pram to stand on its own when folded. All of the wheels remove easily either by small clasps on the frame for the back ones or a sprung butterfly nut for the front. A word of warning though, inside the back wheel frame is a black disc which is supposed to stay on the wheels when removed from the frame, ensure that these are clipped firmly into place as they can be easily lost especially when hurrying a small child/ren into your car. With the wheels in place it will fit into a standard saloon car boot. We manag
ed to fit a luggage for 3 and the frame into the boot of a Mitsubishi Gallant. The handle which is nicely foam padded adjust s into 4 positions can be folded in tightly again reducing the bulk. Adjusting from 96cm through to 107 cm it suits my short stature well. Even the footplate can be folded against the frame, hugely reducing the amount of space needed for transportation. Boasting two different settings for the suspension the pneumatic quick release wheels fitted with ball bearings allow the pram to glide effortlessly over any terrain ensuring the most comfortable ride possible for the occupant. A small pump is supplied which is stowed on the back axle. The brakes are definite and sure, and equipped with an adjustable handbrake on he handlebar this buggy not only goes everywhere, it can stop on a sixpence. A generous shopping basket, complete with easy access and a waterproof hood(but no apron) tops this shining example of Spanish design and engineering. This pushchair is an absolute dream to push over all terrains, I recently took it to Sweden and was extremely happy with the performance in the snow(and boy is was deep and cold) So that is all the goodbits, what about the bad bits, well to be honest there aren?t many at all. The handle operation is a little stiff to begin with(a little WD40 does the trick) They do not make a rain cover which covers the whole pram. There is no runaway strap.(Fitted to many other prams) Due to the shape of the frame tubing it is difficult to fit a buggy board (Though not impossible). The apron is not supplied with the pushchair. Overall the benefits of this system outweigh the bad points, and in my opinion is well worth the asking price of around 350 pounds complete.
Now, you may think that there is very little difference in pregnancy test kits, especially when they are on cheap in the pound shop. This is where you would be totally wrong. First response, normally a totally reliable brand, is one that can detect the pregnancy hormone HCG at a very early stage, in this case it states that it can detect HCG as soon as the day before your period is due. Imagine the scene, Mrs wishywalshy anxious to discover whether her feelings were true or not, I might be or I might not. One quick piddle on the stick should provide the answer once and for always. Planned from the outset number six would be a wonderful addition to our family. The box is nicely sealed in a cellophane wrap, not that anyone would want to pre pee on it, but you can never be sure LOL. On opening the box, the instructions seem to be quite straightforward; either wee on the stick for a second, or wee into a receptacle and dip the stick for a couple of seconds. Now you would have thought that with my old hand experience even I could do this with out a glitch. Now comes the fun bit, unwrapping the darn thing without dropping it down the loo. I must say it was certainly well wrapped, again for hygiene, only this time in a bite resistant tear resistant foil wrapper, which you need to be Lennox Lewis to undo. After going four rounds with it I finally managed to prise it open, by now thoroughly bursting!!!! . It doesn’t look any different to any other test, something like an empty maker pen with a large window.(More will be revealed later<grin>) A small wee later and a lot of waiting, nothing appeared to have happened, so moaning and groaning I binned the whole thing. Feeling more nauseous than ever I decided to do the second one a few hours later, wee and wait, and wait and wait, damn duff cheap tests I thought, and promptly dropped it like a hot brick, this time it turned over, to reveal the skele
ton like underside and two lines. This is why the grin earlier. Now a full description, in my haste I didn’t thoroughly examine the stick to start with. The stick looked exactly like an empty marker pen that is about 4 inches long, the type with the extra broad nib, with a protective cover on the end. It is quite thin and even has a thumb grip(Duh) The underside is just plain white, and the top is clear obviously the place that contains the reactive bit, enclosed in this part is what appears to be a piece of litmus type paper which absorbs the wee and a small amount of pink dye. If you are pregnant two lines will appear in the front window, if you are not just it will be just the one. So I guess that this is my way of announcing the forthcoming arrival of our newest addition in December. Any suggestions for a name, we have already used all of the initials in our surname!!!!!! Cheapest is not always best, but good for a laugh though!!!!
The latest innovation from Little Tikes, a spinney whirly roundabout. Designed to seat up to two children aged 2 to 6 years. Easily propelled by the rider/s and sturdy as ever. Costing £50 from all good toyshops and home shopping companies. Seeking an original present for my toddlers 2nd birthday I had seen the Whirly rocket ride some months ago in Toys’r’us ,and as my youngest children love to play together this seemed a safe bet. Our experiences of Little Tikes toys have been great with very few faults or qualms with their entire range. What does the whirly rocket ride do??? That is simple, it allows the riders to spin themselves around and around until they are quite sick (LOL). So what does it look like? Well actually, not like anything I had seen before. It is constructed of the usual blown plastic, which in my experience is pretty indestructible. The two seats which have a deep seating position and fairly low backrest, and are situated opposite each other balancing the seating unit nicely, there is an integral foot well which is contoured and non slip. The rocket design is evident at the back of the seats in the moulding and stickers. The entire seating unit sits on the base and rotates under kiddie power. The circular base is large enough (3ftdiameter) to stabilise the whole unit at high speed!!. The centre of the toy is where the child grabs a large circular wheel that is raised on a large twisted centre pole about 2ft from the toy. This wheel remains static, but the seating unit then spins. All of the rolling mechanisms are concealed well out of children’s reach, and every edge is nice and round. Large bold and bright, red yellow and blue, Little Tikes trademark. And the packaging??? ……..was diabolical. Bought as Harmony’s birthday present and ordered to be delivered to keep the element or surprise,
the delivery man and the rest of the street knew what she was having for her birthday. Lovely sturdy box, plenty of room and tonnes of scope for future projects, car, train house etc, it was completely printed with what was inside. I don’t have a problem with a few pictures but the fact that it was printed and not just a removable sticker, somewhat let the cat out of the bag, needless to say Harmony has had her birthday present a few days early. What about assembly? My husband informs me that the toy was easy but time consuming to put together. The instructions earned a 10/10 from him too.(Unusual, as he never usually bothers to read them LOL.)His reasoning being that many instructions are too complicated and contains irrelevant rubbish; these were the complete opposite, clear, concise and easy to follow. There were no pieces missing and there were even a couple of extra screws(especially useful when all 4 children are trying to help assemble it) So do they like it? Well, currently Savannah is sitting watching the tv on it. It has been spun continually, and will even take a hyperactive 10 year olds weight and vigour.(Please note that this toy is not designed for children over 6). Harmony loves it and can spin herself freely and independently. As a two seater it is fantastic, it is everything that I thought it would be. It doesn’t up too much space and is absolutely perfect indoors for wet days or outdoors anytime. So is there anything that you don’t like about the toy? It would have been nice if there were handles moulded into the seats to allow younger riders to “go along for the ride”. Slightly higher backrests would be an advantage. It does not fold up for storage. Overall this toy is a raging success and I have no hesitation in recommending it to others.
High-speed digital connection from British Telecom. Boasting 128,000 kbps on full speed. Incorporating 2 telephone lines and two ISDN connections. Package costing £30 per month, at the time there was no installation charge. My tale of woe begins with a telephone call from BT sales. “We see you have 2 phone lines, you would surely benefit from our unbelievable Home highway package, no more line rental to pay, it would be much more economical than the system that you are using at present”. Mr wishywalshy thinks about, asks for further information and the like. Read enclosed literature, digest the written information and decide that we’d give it a whirl. In due course the engineer arrived to connect the magic box into the circuit. On his arrival he asked where we would like the box to live, unknown to us there was a real reason behind it. We stated that in the same place as the TX4 box was. (In the hall, by the front door) Fitting now completed, the difficulty now arose, as to how we were actually going to get a USB lead that was more than 7 metres to reach the computer, only to discover that USB leads are designed to work perfectly for up to 5 metres and after that there are no guarantees. Obviously now fairly irate, as the bloke who came to fit the machinery obviously knew this fact. Picture the scene, Mr wishywalshy sat on the bottom stair monitor perched on stool and keyboard teetering on his lap, trying to avoid the 4 children and 2 dogs barging past. Result, nothing. Tried again and again. Finally we managed to connect, only to be thrown back off several times. Becoming tired of the situation we contacted BT on their premium rate customer service help line, who initially blamed the computer, only to discover that the system was not compatible with Windows XP. The guy on the phone stated not to worry, that a patch would be available and to bear with them. The solution
would be, to pay real money to buy a windows 98 disk, the difficulty being was that I didn’t have the money straight away for this purchase. Finally installed 98 onto the computer and was able to connect at an amazing 128kbps, only after subscribing to another internet service provider, as our trusty AOL just didn’t like it. After several searches on the Internet we were unable to find a server that would allow you to pay a monthly charge, connect via the ISDN and have free unlimited access. Consequently our selected ISP was to charge 1p a minute. Okay for starters we thought. Wind on another month. The bill arrives, a whacking £250. Oh my gosh!! Thinks Mr wishywalshy, until we closely scrutinise the bill in hand. On the basis that my unlimited AOL access cost £15 per month and the line rental only £9 (approx), how could this system be more economical? Some irregularities seemed to be appearing, we were being double charged for many of the calls made, many of which I add that were failed calls as there was no way that we could log on and do anything on the system in 4 seconds, which is what I was being billed for, several times, not just the once or twice, but in all over 20 times. On contacting customer services I was informed that the matter would be investigated. Some days later I received a telephone call from Home Highway stating that there was no double charging and that when a full speed connection is made the charge is doubled because two lines are being used. Well hold on a minute!!!, was there anything in the paperwork sent by BT regarding this absurd charging system? Of course not!!. Deciding that this was actually a con, I explained to the operator that I felt that I had been mis-sold this package and that I was giving them 28 days to come and remove the system and revert the old lines back. The operator then became very uppity and informed me that
I was contracted to keep the system for 12 months, I did then state that I would be in contact with trading standards in due course, and if they wanted their money for the next 10 months rental, then they could try and get it. A date was confirmed to remove the equipment (Jan 4th) Having disconnected the system from our computers we happily logged back onto AOL, with no ill effects. Christmas and New Year came and went with no adverse effects, until the 3rd of January. Furious that I could not contact Mr wishywalshy one evening I contacted BT faults, to be informed that there was a fault on the line and that the fault had been reported, little did we know that the kind people at BT had been informing our friends that we had been disconnected, nice of them to tell us first. Scrutinising my bank statement I was able to confirm that all monies due to them had been paid, therefore I couldn’t understand why they had disconnected us. The next day the Internet phone line went down. Quite irate by now, I contacted customer services to try to get to the bottom of this "glitch". After an awful lot of being passed from pillar to post I finally spoke to Jamaican sounding woman. After explaining our situation, she abruptly informed me that we had requested that all lines be removed. Amazed at this statement I reiterated exactly what I had said a month earlier, that I had requested that the Home highway system be removed and my lines put back to their original state. This” lady" argues that there is no reconnection request in place and that there would not be an available engineer until Thursday of the following week. And.............. the reconnection charges would be £28.00 per line. Show a bull a red rag!!!! In my best I will not be messed around and I pay your wages kind of voice, I calmly explained again that the request to return my telephone lines to their original state had been made
at the very same time that we had asked for the Home highway equipment to be removed. Again I explained why we wanted the equipment removed only to be called "Stupid" for not being aware of the double billing system, which I did not take kindly to. By now the "lady" was becoming increasingly agitated and accused me of swearing at her, which I did not. I reminded her of the message that precedes calls to BT operator services stating that the call would be recorded, and invited her to rewind and play the tape back. After stating that I worked with the public everyday I knew better than to swear (as you immediately loose the argument), she said that there was no reason given for requesting the removal of the system. I calmly explained that it was highly likely that the person who dealt with me in the first instance also neglected to fill in that little box with "sold package under false pretences". By now she was furious and slams the telephone down. Determined not to be beaten, I contacted the supervisor, who in turn agreed that not only had the operator been way out of line, that my complaints were entirely justified and that she could enable reconnection for free. I informed her that while the lines been out of action there was no way that my employer could have contacted me to work on my rest days, resulting in loss of earnings. Assured that the matter would be resolved and my lines would be in within a couple of days I was content, not sure that that is the right word though. The very next day an engineer was on the doorstep to not only remove the Home highway equipment, he was here to reconnect the old line. Even the engineer knew nothing of the double billing procedure, and concluded that to be the reason that he had removed over 30 systems in the previous 4 weeks. Eventually the line was back, but not the Internet line, so logging on became impossible. The difficulty
arose when we refused to allow the engineer to piggyback the net connection line onto the normal line. Now everything was becoming as clear as day. We had only been seeking an alternative to log onto the net at a faster rate that 28000kbps, which is all we had ever been able to do. We had tried different ISPs, new modems etc, but nothing would make us log on any faster. The cheeky whatnots had split our line resulting in half speed connection for nearly 5 years, but had billed us for a complete installation all that time ago. No wonder the ISDN connection seemed so fast it was running at four times the speed of our old connection. Eventually the new line was installed, but not until the engineers had dug up the road and routed a new line through from the exchange. Finally Mr and Mrs wishywalshy are happy....... until another bill arrives, this time demanding £330, including 9 months advance payment for a system that had been sold to me under false pretences. (£194). Determined to sort this matter once and for all I contacted customer services yet again.(Glad it's a free phone number).Was sent all around the houses until finally I was connected to a nice chap called Andrew, who was more than happy to listen to my grievances and who kindly sorted the whole thing out in a matter of minutes. He had to agree that there was nothing in their literature that stated that at full speed the connection charge would be doubled, nor did it take into account all of those thousands of windows xp users. From where he was sat there was no reason whatsoever that I should have to pay for something that I was definitely not going to use, and that had by all appearances been sold on a commission basis and was most certainly correct in stating that Home highway was not a more economical option for us. After what seemed to be an eternal wait he came back on the phone to inform me that I was not being unreasonable and we woul
d not be charged for anything that we had not used. Finally today I received a call from BT accounts. Mrs BT."Mrs Walsh your new amended bill will be £77" wishywalshy"Coo, thanks very very very much. We weren't being unreasonable" Mrs BT."No madam, I'm just reading the notes, mmmm, not in the least unreasonable. Your new bill will be with you by the middle of next week, however it is payable in full" wishywalshy" No problem at all, thank you very very much" Click............. So the moral of the story is............... Don't be mugged by the Home Highway robbers. In today’s competitive age it is difficult to believe that British Telecom is quite prepared to deceive their customers in order to make a sale, increasing their already overflowing bank account. Their share price has continued to fall and their customer base has reduced as more competition enters the market, you would have though that they would have tried to keep their existing customers especially ones like us who have been continuously customers for 13 years, rather that to view us as fat cows to be continually milked. For a communication company they need lessons in talking to people.
A fair topic for debate if I do say so myself. As finances dwindle and stereotypical roles in employment become less commonplace, it is not uncommon to see women in ?men?s? jobs and vice versa. But is it a realistic choice? As somebody who has recently taken on a full time position there were many reasons for doing so. Not only was I forced into a job by the system; my benefits were stopped until employment was found. Initially, my first job was as an icecream seller on a part-time basis, which did have it?s perks. It was a practice run for the future, giving hubby the chance to try out being a househusband. To begin with, there are factors that often make the choice to go out to work a difficult one, of course money is always a prime reason, but do children benefit from their parents going out to work?. Through health reasons my hubby was unable to work in his field of employment, he is a time served degree qualified engineer by trade who contracted industrial dermatitis at his last place of work, who conveniently stashed the offending substances when questioned by health and safety officials, consequently the offer of £4.00 an hour for cleaning floors was deemed as an insult. He is considerably older than me and set in his ways, learning a new trade would not only be impossible, it was highly impractical as he is an ADHD adult who cannot take instruction well. Our organic farming enterprise went well until things went beyond our control and we were forced to stop, he was happy in his field LOL. He is however brilliant with the children (4 of the little darlings). We had agreed that he would support me in any choice of career that I had chosen, and was a little amused, but very supportive when I told him of my dream job, driving a bus. Realising the true potential of holding PSV license it was a position of responsibility and of security. The rate of pay, together with other state
benefits would not only make the move a viable one, it would open many doors and provide a stable future with dreams of Councils ?Right to buy? actually becoming a reality. I was fortunate that there was no training fees to consider, in fact it was the opposite, they would pay me to train at a healthy above minimum wage rate, increasing as I qualified and became a driver full time. He actively and positively encouraged me to fulfil my dream and stepped in to play the ?mother ?figure. Realising that childcare charges would cripple us the decision was really taken from our hands, however we had always agreed that one of us should stay at home with the littlest child until they were ready to go to nursery school. There were many things to consider before taking the big step back into real bona fide employment after a break of over 11 years. Factors to consider:- Childcare, who will look after your children if you have any, are they reputable, are they flexible, can you afford it, and most importantly do you feel secure with your child there and does your child like being there. Many 3 and 4 year olds are entitled to free nursery places relieving a little strain from babysitters. If in doubt as to eligibility ASK!!!! As I have already said ?sorted? Financial There are benefits to working on a low wage, which are available from the state. These include Working Families Tax Credit, Based on income an amount is awarded and reviewed every six months, this benefit is paid by the inland revenue and can be paid in with wages or in an order book. Further benefits could include childcare allowance if both you and your partner work over 16 hours a week. Housing benefit, council tax rebate, reduced or free prescriptions/dentists/ opticians. Contact your local office or benefit agency/jobcentre for further details Childrens Tax credits, Reductions in the amount of tax that you pay di
rect into your wages if you have a child under 16, ask at the tax office, you have to apply for this one, you will not get it automatically Again if in doubt ASK!!!!!then apply, you might be entitled to some financial assistance. If you have been long tern unemployed, there may be a weekly allowance payable to you, or a lump sum which you may be entitled to, some thing like a back to work bonus. Other key considerations to take into account:- Transport:- In my case was not a problem, buses are frequent LOL, sometimes I take the car sometime I ride my bike. How will you get there? Can you drive, is it near enough to walk, do you borrow the lad next doors bike until you find your feet, what are the buses like, what is the most convenient and economical way of getting there? Time without the children, I know sounds callous doesn?t it, but wait.. You?d be amazed what a bit of time away from the children does for your self esteem, you have a life again, but you really can?t wait to see those grubby cheeks smiling at you on your return as well as a real feel good factor about improving yourself. You?ve thought about all of the options now the real work. Are you qualified, or could you get on the job training? Carefully think about what you write on your application form, you have to sell yourself to get them to write back to you, focus on your good points and take your time. Prepare for the interview; be at least clean and tidy, carry a pen, you might need it, be on time maybe even a little early. And relax and be you. Now wait for the letter????. It did come, and hubby had to adjust to his new capacity as househusband, he copes well, the children are fed and clothed, in fact I think that they like daddy being at home, he doesn?t shout as much !!! <br> The housework is okay, and the washing is under control. The kids get to school on time, and he gets
up with them in the mornings. He even managed to deck an entire garden in the summer. He says that he likes the system and the extra money comes in handy too!!! In conclusion, although this might sound perfect it is not without it?s pitfalls. Lack of time to get much done other than work, sleep, eat and play with the kids. It could be shift work. It might not have been the perfect job Relationships are occasionally strained. Currently the advantages certainly outweigh the disadvantages. More money, less stress, time without children, getting a life, enjoying what I do well. Personally I think taking the job is probably the best thing that I ever did, I wish I had done it years ago. My confidence has been boosted and my self esteem has risen So if you think it?s the job for you,and it works well with your circumstances then you should go for it.
A sturdy bicycle trailer come double buggy that attaches easily and safely onto any mountain bike. Designed for 1/2 child/ren who can support their head to approximately 7 years old. Costs just over £150, which includes postage and packing within the U.K. We bought our trailer as a fist purchase on the net. I had read many opinions on ebay and the amazing deals that some of you guys had and felt that I would certainly give it a look. Having decided that I didn?t want a bum the size of Jersey spending the entire day driving a bus, a pushbike was a practical option. The only difficulty being, having two toddlers, who also wanted to enjoy the fun. A bike seat was not suitable as I would have to have had one both front and back of the bike, which I feel is just too much. We had been looking half-heartedly at trailers, which were just too far out of my price bracket, when I spotted this yellow wonder on ebay. Not only was it actually better than any that I had seen it was cheaper and distributed by an UK company. I cashed in my dooyoo miles(before the changes and new surcharges came into force (hee hee!!)and waited for that lovely little ole cheque to arrive. When it did I was ready to make my first internet purchase. I placed my bid in their buy it now section, corresponded with the seller sent my cheque and waited with baited breath. The package arrived less than a week later, amidst gasps of wonder by the postman who waited to see it fully assembled before he left. The product was securely packed with all parts complete. The instruction manual however, then let the product down. Consisting of a photocopied pamphlet, assembly was actually very easy following the directions in the book. They were clear and concise. However, my hubby was dismayed to discover that there were no instructions for folding the device. Consequently half an hour later he managed to do so. When assembled the
trailer looks fantastic. It can accommodate either two or one child fully 5 point harnessed and enclosed, the seat is about 2ft wide. Passengers are sat over the axle of the trailer and the seats have more than adequate suspension as the seats are suspended. The passengers are surrounded by a roll cage and gently reclined in a natural position. The actual trailers is covered in a weather resistant nylon material and is supplied with fly net and see through rain cover, which roll up when not in use and roll back down and Velcro shut when needed. In both sides are large windows affording your child/ren an uninterrupted view of their surroundings. The quick release 20 inch wheels with pneumatic tyres make transportation easier, although be aware that is does take up a lot of space in the boot due to the steel footplate which prevents children placing their feet through the base of the trailer. There is also an adequate shopping basket, totally separate to the seating area which will easily carry a change bag and picnic, or foolishly lots of shopping!!!. There are excellent safety features on this product, every pin is locked and there is a sprung attachment that connects the trailer to the bike, which is not only universal and will fit ?every? bike, has a secondary safety feature and prevents the trailer tipping as a result of the bike falling over. This fits onto the chain stay on the rear of the bike. This sprung arm can be removed for transportation or locked behind the trailer that can then be used as a double buggy. The seating position is such that no extra wheel/s is/are needed. On the underside of the buggy is a rubber stop to ease unnecessary wear from resting the trailer on the floor. In use it is easy to tow, however it is essential that the bikes brakes be in good order as the weight of trailer and children does increase the amount of braking power needed to stop safely. <br>I would al
ways recommend that rider and passengers wear a helmet at all times. The trailer bright colour makes it easy to see and the high visibility flag, tape, and wheel reflectors add to the visual impact. The device is actually extremely easy to fold(when you have worked out how),the wheels release and fit into the trailer, the sprung towing arm is removable, and the whole thing when unpinned is simply folded back on itself. A large bag would have been great in order to keep the trailer clean and the pieces intact when not in use, in fact I think I will write to them and ask if they are thinking of supplying them too!! It adds about 4ft to the length of your bike and does take a little getting used to, obviously there is the weight factor to consider, but towing with a bike is a completely different experience. Currently mine is used mainly on bike paths, local roads and open spaces. I will eventually take it onto the main roads, but I need to build my leg muscles up somewhat first LOL. We can fit lights with a little adjustment, but it would have nice if a fitting bar was supplied or available to buy. So my moans are few and my praises are many Moans Absolutely invisible and non existent folding instructions in the pamphlet. No bag to keep it all in, I foresee stray pieces in the distant future. No purpose built light fittings. Pretty big when folded Shoulder harness straps could do with addition lower fittings to accommodate smaller children in a more comfortable way Praises Innovative Unique where I live Environmentally friendly(even if I have to ride to work to get back into riding a bike for any period of time, not just testing out the kids Christmas pressies!!!) Extremely pleasant. Easy to tow Easy to fold Half the price of other trailers and twice the quality Extremely safe Turns into a double buggy Comes with raincover and fly
net The children absolutely love it. If you are in the least dubious about buying anything in an auction you could always buy direct from the supplier. The website address is http://www.ljpsupplies.co.uk/ It will cost you more to buy from there, but only a couple of pounds.
Cadbury world The factory in which the Cadbury era began, a visitors centre with a real difference. Situated in Bournville Birmingham, Cadbury world is a chocolate lovers dream. From miles away the faint aroma of chocolate fills the air beckoning you to visit this lovely place. The visitor centre is geared towards informing the general public of the reasoning and origins of the now world-renowned Cadbury chocolate. A little about the founders of the massive chocolate empire. One of the founder brothers John started his one-man business in 1824 in Bull Street Birmingham, next to his father’s draper shop. As his business grew and he was able to expand he rented larger premises at which time his brother Benjamin joined him. In 1854 the brothers gained the title “By Royal appointment Manufacturers to the Queen,” a true honour. As the brothers aged, the business was then taken over by George and Richard Cadbury, Johns sons, who eventually perfected the formula for chocolate, as we know it. This came about by George travelling Europe to see how other countries produced their chocolate using fresh milk. He discovered the Dutch Van Houten cocoa press which had the capability to remove so much of the cocoa butter that it rendered the product pure and additive free, they therefore claimed it in advertising to be ”Absolutely pure, therefore the best”. The idea of chocolate for eating was still not the norm; people usually dissolved a block in water and drank the mixture. As the demand grew, the premises in Bridge street became too small, and in 1879 George Cadbury took the of step of buying a plot of land in some meadowland near Selly Oak, and naming it Bournville after the Bourn Brook and because it sounded French which was the in thing at the time. The land was near to the river, two main roads and to train services which would prove to be an excellent move. There w
as not only fresh water there was room to expand. By 1884 the factory covered a massive 3 acres and were able to produce cocoa that was unadulterated by brick dust and iron oxide unlike many other more scrupulous manufacturers. In 1893, appalled by the squalid slum housing George began to build houses for his workers, this was the first of many gestures from the Cadburys, others included pension funds, schooling for 14-16 year olds, recreational facilities. He also ensured a fair share of free Medical and dental treatment, summer outings and even an annual party. Many of the benefits are still in use today. The forerunner of all chocolate is Cadbury Dairy Milk, which actually took seven years to perfect. In 1905 CDM was born and I believe still remains the same now. Now onto the actual attraction. It isn’t actually that difficult to find the general area, open the car window and start sniffing just as you leave the M5, but the brown tourist attraction signs leave a lot to be desired. Really though, it is only 1mile from the A38 Bristol Road, (M5 junction 2.) Upon arrival at the factory you will notice that there is still a heck of a lot of green spaces, something which is less evident in many other parts of Birmingham, still proving George Cadburys words “If the country is a good place to live in, why not work in it?” to still be in the interests of the current workforce. Many of the employees still live in the large and airy houses built by the brothers, The car park is more than adequate and accommodates both disabled and able bodied. Please note here though, wheelchairs and buggies although welcomed cannot access certain parts of the factory due to health and hygiene regulations, adequate buggy parks are supplied. There were wicked little crème egg cars dotted around the front of the main building, I did wonder if you could rent them, they’d make a ch
ange from a bus. The prices for admission are as follows(Please don’t quote me exactly on these prices, I had 5 children in my care at the time I was trying to take notes) Adults £8.50 Child 4- 14 inclusive £6.25 Infant under 4 Free OAP /Student £6.25 Family ticket £30, 2 adults and 3 children I believe that there are reductions for group bookings. The ticket price is inclusive. The staff were courteous and keen to help without rushing you through, they were happy to find the cheapest option for our party and genuinely friendly. The beauty of this exhibition is that you are allocated a time slot to visit, which consequently avoids large queues and irritable children too. As our allocated time was around an hour and a half away we sought out the other attractions. In the main foyer is the large gift shop, in which you can buy anything chocolate orientated from the tiniest bar to the largest 5kg bar(Jill Murphy would have had a field day LOL), and from a pencil to a personalised chocolate plaque. I was pleased to see that greed had not set in as the children were all able to buy something worthwhile with their allowances and still have change for the regulation chocolate bar. The eat in restaurant is also situated in the main foyer. We found that although slightly expensive, the quality of the food compensated for it, the sandwiches and salad were extremely fresh and well apportioned. Drinks were again expensive, but when bought in a plastic souvenir cup, refills at a reduced price were available all day. The area was clean and airy with a ready supply of highchairs. Again the staff were excellent. The toilets are situated here too, which were of a remarkably good standard and well maintained too accommodating both the able and disabled customer. My daughter informs me that there is also a separate parent and child room. Behind the actual factory is a superb children’s play and picnic area. By following the footprints painted onto the floor, you are led to the area. Judging by the quantity of equipment Cadburys has spent a lot of money in this area. The whole playground has soft safe floor and a multitude of outdoor apparatus for those energetic youngsters. Again the whole area was scrupulously clean and constantly frequented by quite jovial cleaning staff. There are several picnic benches, most of which are sheltered by gargantuan umbrellas providing shade in the sun and shelter in the rain. Here it the magic marquee which provides magic shows approximately ever hour usually to a packed audience. In the time between the shows the magicians acts as children’s entertainers, and successfully too. The Cadbury land Button show is also held here every 10 minutes, I would like to say more about this but my toddler escaped while I was putting the buggy in the buggy park and made a swift disappearance. This is where I have to comment on the park security. Within 5 minutes of her vanishing all of the security guards were alerted, her description circulated, and she was returned very quickly, more chocolate in hand(and on face LOL).She informed me that she went to find the chocolate. I have to say that I was impressed with the co-ordination of the search and the speedy result. In the general area is also a takeaway restaurant, which appeared to be of a good standard. I didn’t hear any complaints about either the food or about the price, so I can only assume that it was reasonable on both parts. A face painter is also present, but at £2 a throw, with 5 accompanying kids it was just too expensive for us. She was very good, but I can do equally as well, and I charge a lot less. After our little scare it was our allotted time to view the exhibition and to tour some of the packaging plant. Upon entry to the exhibits you will receive your first batch of free chocolate. The exhibitions on offer are superb and extremely lifelike and display scenes from the Maya people spanning back as far as 600AD, who are believed to have made hot spicy drink that they called chocolatl; they also used cocoa bean as currency. Also on display is the story of the Aztecs importing cocoa beans over land, and the general history of chocolate through the ages throughout the world and following through until modern day. The next part of the tour gives an amusing demonstration of how chocolate is actually made using the latest technology. The packaging plant allows an insight into how fast this confectionary is actually made and follows a labyrinth of corridors through the plant, much of which is unable to be seen by the general public for health and safety reasons. We went on a hot day and the heat in some of the areas was quite intense. Here you will receive your next free chocolate. There is also the opportunity to hand dip your own chocolate and to order handmade merchandise to be picked up later at the shop downstairs. You are also invited to try liquid chocolate(Yes Jill liquid nectar yummm) you are given a small beaker and spoon and told to try to eat it without licking your lips. There are interactive areas demonstrating all sorts of things from the making of a commercial to how the Coronation street set was made(Unfortunately it’s not made of chocolate :-() The Cadabra ride is almost last on the list of things to do. It is a charming little family ride in which you travel very slowly through the magical Chocolate land in a little beanmobile car. My toddler was enchanted and again the scenery was terrific from tropical scenes to winter wonderland it really caught her imagination. Photographs are available on the ride at a cost of £4. The tour ends back in the large
foyer shop. A few tips if you decide to go. The staff prefer advance bookings on 01214514159 to guarantee entry.(We went in the middle of the summer holidays and it was quite busy, but not packed) Guide dogs are welcome except in production areas. The factory is quite warm, so ensure that you are well hydrated before you go in, cans of pop are £1 and juice 70p from vending machines inside the factory. Photographs inside the factory are not permitted. It is not a tour of the whole factory. A little more information Open from Jan 20th- Dec 30th. 24 hour a day information line 01214514180 Opening times vary so phone for details. Their website www.cadburyworld.co.uk My final conclusion was that the whole centre very pleasantly surprised me. I was not sure what to expect. Not only was in extremely interesting for me, none of the children seemed to be bored, their age range was from 3 to 14 years so is quality entertainment for all ages. I felt that it was very good value for money and made such a nice change from noisy theme parks and attractions. The staff were truly wonderful and exercised such amazing customer service skills that I would even consider going again. If your are up that way, give it a try. It comes highly recommended
A non-profit making un commercial web based card playing community site, incorporating spades and euchre, in leagues and tournament form. Situated on an imaginary island in deepest cyberspace the site has been operational since June 2000, and currently has approximately 1,000 members and is increasing all the time. There can be anything from 10 to 200 users on the site at one time, and is a global affair. I know !! my husband spends most of his time here. I swear he speaks to the other players more than me.;+) Entry to the playing arena is by registration that requires a username, password and email address. A confirmation email will be sent to you upon successful registration. The homepage is quite self-explanatory and provides registration and download areas, as well as other information as to who runs the site and a brief history. Their technical support system appears to be effective both in looks and in practice. It also includes details of forthcoming events, tournaments and leagues. It is important at this point to read the rules and guidelines. You will note that “Any” offensive behaviour is taken a very dim view of, and a ban from the site will shortly follow. The system is manned by sysop/park security that has the capability to help to make your stay more enjoyable. These members have gained their status by being vetted as being helpful, friendly and fair, with a good knowledge of both the games and the site. These members are easily identified by the + sign before their username who will automatically rise to the top of the rooms. Punishments for offenders can range from an hour to a lifetime site ban depending on the severity of the incident involved. The site is operated for the entire families entertainment so profanity is not accepted anywhere in the site. You will need to download the necessary software to play on th
e island, which available to down load for free and as the program is very small it takes up minimal hardrive space. The program is unobtrusive and remains out of sight until needed. My hubby has assured me that the actual program is very quick to download. After you have downloaded the initial program a small palm tree icon will appear on your desktop, requiring only the clicketty click of a mouse to take you to a card players heaven. When opening the program for the first time you will notice that it is in its own window, allowing the rest of the net to be used if required. As your membership is new, you will be issued with an anchor icon which identifies you to other users as a new player. Over a period of time you will have the chance to exchange your icon to a season pass(established) You are now in the playing area, where the design of the site is fairly basic, but extremely effective. It consists of 5 separate areas/options. The site map. Extremely relevant This will show you the way around the park. Currently there are three playing areas in use. Casa de spades, where all games are spades related, and includes variants such as, suicide spades(2 partners one of which must call NIL (0 tricks), regular spades, cut-throat spades(single players), and mirror spades (Players bids the spades in their hand) The Euchre pavilion All games are Euchre related. I don’t play euchre so I cannot go into many more details about that. The tournament arena is frequently host to competition games. Tournament time is set by pacific time, which does cause great confusion. If by any chance other users of the site read this then they may take note that it would be far easier to display their own island time as a small unobtrusive icon in the corner of the screen allowing the user to set their own times. Preferences. Nerdy computer stuff LOL. Althou
gh there are no real prizes the winners have the privilege of then wearing a winners Rosette for the next 2 days Under construction is Gin city and Hearts del mar, which will add to the repertoire of games available to play in Mystic Island, completion is expected shortly. Each one of the types of card games has their own ranking system and league tables. There is a league ladder for each style too, including suicide spades, mirrors etc. These are generally reset every three months; however there is exception and these are the lifetime ladder which are never reset. If you are fortunate enough to be at the top of a league you will have the privilege of displaying a golden cup icon next to your user name. The lobby, which is where requests for players are made, and general chit chat between players. (It’s also the place to show off a winners rosette) Tables, where the games are played Both card games are played in rooms requiring a maximum of 4 players and which will also accommodate an unlimited number of spectators. The spectators also have the capability to view all of the player’s cards. The actual game play is effective and well set out.The dark background makes it easy to see the cards in your hand. Displayed at all time is the current score and a chat box which allows conversation between players and spectators. I might add here that cheating is not tolerated, and you will be found out. Instant messages etc are out of the question. Community, where the days forthcoming events are displayed. The site was originally set up by Pokah who created it and now maintains it in his spare time as lead programmer, he is also the park manager. Pam is Tournament and park manager she is also the co-founder. Both founders realised the potential in a non-profit making site and are quoted to say, “We are a non-profit game site built by playe
rs for players ,free of politics, abusive owners and sysops, our goal is to make every single player happy” In all this is a great site,set up for the right reasons and maintained to the same standards, it is lovely just to go somewhere with out damn adverts popping up all over the place with friendly company all wanting to play a good game of cards with no cheats. http://www.mysticisland.net is where to go
Whether you use the bus regularly or just once in a while, there are many factors relating to the transportation of the public by operators in the business. Let me start by stating that this profession is not every females cup of tea, but i like it. My experience of bus drivers had not been a very pleasant one until recently. I became one. In order to qualify to drive a public service vehicle the prospective driver must first undertake several tasks as dictated by the governing body.(Driving Licensing Authority) Initially a theory test must be sat and passed with at least 30 out of 35 answers correctly answered. Upon completion of the theory test a form is completed and soon after, an appointment for a medical will wing it’s way to you. The theory test costs under £20 Upon completing the medical and passing, the driver is then permitted to drive under instruction according to the provisional entitlement allowed on their licence. That is where the fun begins. Have you ever driven something as large as half a house around a crowded city? You haven’t, I am surprised!!!. An average single decker bus is about 40 ft long, 8ft wide and stands approximately 10ft high.A double decker has similar dimensions but stands around 14-15 ft high. After learning the basics, you are permitted to drive on the road with your instructor close at hand. Lesson from an approved centre can set you back a fortune though. I was lucky enough to be offered training through the local bus company, whose rates are normally around £29 per hour. It never ceased to amaze me how many people walk out on novice drivers who are obviously new to driving such large vehicles, and are driving a coach adorned with several L plates. Nor can I believe the amount of drivers that feel that it is their lives one desire to chop up the driver, or to scream obscenities at them.
For weeks you will practice, practice, practice, and hopefully achieve the highest standard of driving required in order to pass the stringent examination. Even then you might blow it all. The actual test is so difficult to pass; it is proven to be the hardest test with the highest standards required to do so. Only when you have passed the practical test are you permitted to actually drive a large vehicle solo. The practical test costs around £75. Not only are there the rigorous tests to be achieved there are other essential factors to be learned and practiced. In order to do this job properly you have to be articulate with figures and have a certain way with the public. The ticket machine functions need to be mastered, as do routes, and the destination blinds. A new driver will receive approximately 2 weeks on the road and in service instruction before they are let loose on the public. Before a driver leaves the depot he/she, must inspect the vehicle to ensure that there are no defects. If hailed by a ministry official and faults discovered, the operator will only be informed, the driver will be prosecuted. The driver has no control over the timings of routes, nor the amount charged by the operator. They do, however have control over how the customers are treated and will usually try to ensure that the customer arrives at their destination after a comfortable and safe ride. There are certainly disadvantages for both the passengers and driver. In a perfect world every bus would run on schedule, and would suit everyone’s pockets. But, unfortunately this is the real world, where you will always find a miserable driver, and a sullen passenger, but I do try to ensure that good eye contact is made whenever possible, even when the customer is moaning about the timetable. I politely thank them for waiting, and apologise for the delay that s
eems to dispel any ill feeling and the journey continues. Incidentally in order for a bus or coach firm to continue to renew their passenger carrying licence they must account for any “lost” journeys (abandoned routes, due to scheduling) I am sure that the people who time the routes do so on a motorbike at 4am in the morning, often setting impossible goals for the drivers to achieve. The buses in Plymouth do generally run on schedule with a couple of exceptions, which are nigh on impossible to complete on time. Some routes are subsidised by the council in order to continue the services on an underused but needed route. Drivers of smaller vehicles often seem oblivious to the fact that a large vehicle not only needs longer times to brake, the are also far slower to accelerate. Many are restricted to 56mph, which is fine in the city, but be aware that many have a hard time achieving 40mph let alone the higher limit. In order to manoeuvre the vehicle around bends and parked cars it has to be steered in such a way as to avoid the obstacles. A buses weight is increased by around a tonne for every 15 passengers carried. Buses in general are far more comfortable these days with the advent of the kneeling bus, which lowers the floor to allow easy access for pushchairs, and wheelchairs, which can be simply pushed onto the bus unfolded with its occupants in their seats. Our firm uses Mercedes minibuses for the smaller less busy routes, which do not currently accomodate wheelchairs, but according to European law will have to compliant by 2017.Any new vehicle bought after 2007 will have to be equipped with a ramp and a facility for disabled passengers to be seated on the bus in their chair. They are cleaner and kinder to the environment. There is one difference however, gone are the days of the conductor taking the fares, now the driver takes the fares and drives the bu
s as well, requiring them to have to learn more skills and do more in the same amount of time as it used to take two people to do the job. Fares available range from 20p concession/over 80 tickets to more comprehensive returns(Which are actually capped by the local council at £2.00 maximum)and from child and adult dayriders(Unlimited travel within the city)for £1.60 for 14 and under and £3.20 for adults and over 14s. It is possible to buy a card allowing travel for 3 months but these cannot be bought off the driver and have to be purchased at the post office or at the shop in the city centre or depot. The bus drivers have to run to a schedule and pick up passengers in the meantime, attempting to appease any disgruntled passengers that they may come across. I am not trying to make excuses for the more miserable drivers out there because there are plenty of them where I work. Many of the drivers have forgotten the lessons that they learned whilst under instruction, which is unfortunate. One thing that I have noticed is the amount of people that think that Bus lane means unlimited waiting, and that Bus stop means Car park. Nothing would make me happier than to run on time every time and be greeted by a happy smiling driver or customer every time. There is something that you as a concientious passenger could do for the driver. I like to have more than 1 seconds notice of a passenger wanting to embark/disembark. Not only is rapid slowing uncomfortable for the other passengers, on occasion it could be deemed as downright dangerous The correct change is nice, but not always practical, however, many bus companies now decline £20 notes as forgeries are rife. According to Union rules drivers are not permitted to "help" passengers on and off the bus for fear of litigation should something untoward happen, nor are they permitted to allow a passenger to get off their vehic
le anywhere other than a designated bus stop for the same reasons. In an average depot the ratio of women to men drivers is around 1 to 10. I do accept that this job has previously been deemed as a "mans" job, but the times are a changing, and personally without trying to sound like a feminist, a woman can do the job equally as well. There is obviously some amount of heckling between the men and women drivers, but in general it is well meant and well recieved by all. A driver can expect to earn anything from £5+ per hour for standard stage carriage work depending on the size of the vehicle driven rising to around £10 p/h, more if you are lucky!! A real downside however is the antisocial hours and the token bad tempered customer or two!! Now the other more humourous downsides to being a driver are....... and no laughing please Wandering over to the bus lane whilst driving your own car. Allowing 3ft extra on corners and kerbs. Slowing at bus stops when prospective passengers are loitering, and even thinking about pulling in to pick them up as they make a movement. Looking upwards for the mirrors(Which are not there) Forgetting to dip the clutch(Our buses are automatic) and..... last but by no means least..... leaning over to press the button to open the door to let your passengers out. I enjoy my job, and hope that if you happen to visit Plymouth one of these sunny days you may have the pleasure of travelling on my bus. Ding ding tickets please.
An attractive toddler sized first bed, constructed from blown plastic designed to assist in the transition from cot to big bed. To suit ages 2 through to 5 approximately. Supplied with mattress and available to order from Step 2 outlets including http://activitytoysdirect.co.uk/ Costs in the region of £150 I spied this loveable character bed many years ago when they were first sold by ELC and other catalogue outlets. As my elder children were too large for it, it was just a novelty thing that I wished had been available when they were young. My toddler was due a new bed as she had outgrown the cot and as space was at a premium a toddler bed was our main priority. As she is only 1 and a half it was essential that our other children could not easily destroy it and that it was difficult to roll out of. It also had to be easy to clean and low enough to be safe. Standing around 4ft high when assembled the Snooze and cruise toddler bed fitted the bill perfectly. Having always steered towards Little Tikes toys I was wary of changing the habits of a lifetime, but convinced after my friend bought several items including a fire engine bed and climbing frame manufactured by Step2 (another American manufacturer) and was extremely happy with them, I decided to give them a try. Designed to resemble a beetle bug car, this jolly yellow blown plastic masterpiece is a real joy to behold. Assembly is very easy and can be completed by just one adult in only a couple of minutes. The instructions are clear and concise and very easy to follow It has pretend green wheels and an extremely jolly face with large appealing stick on eyes and a moulded smile with a clown-like nose; the rear has stick on lights and a number plate. The sleeping area is not much larger than a cot, but the mattress is completely enclosed by raised ledges enabling even the youngest child to roll over without falling out too frequen
tly. What I really love about this bed is the fact that all of the cot bedding fits it, and it is remarkably easy to make. The all round characteristics of this bed allow it to be used either flat against the wall or freestanding in the centre of the room. The rounded design and pretend doors are not only attractive to the eye; it is very safe in practice. The windows are all enlarged and smooth to the touch, combined with a sunroof allow all round vision for the younger snoozer. The actual bed sleeping area is raised about 18inches from the floor allowing a small amount of storage underneath. Size wise it is not actually that much smaller than a standard bed, but it is much cuter.LOL Actual measurements are (When assembled) (in.) 47h x 67l x 39w Both of the younger children love this bed, and there are always arguments as to who will sleep in it Fortunately at well over 75lbs in weight, renders the bed immovable but would be Stirling Moss’s. Value for money, this speaks for itself. At a cost of around £150, this bed will not only last my youngest child, it will probably be passed around the family for future generations to use. Ours was bought through an advert in a local paper at an amazing price of £45, but I do know that they can be ordered for delivery to UK addresses from the web site address given above. I am completely satisfied with this bed, and will happily buy Step2 products again. Currently there are no disadvantages that I am aware of. Other Step2 toys and products are available to view at http://step2.com/
Manufactured by Timex, under the name of TMX this watch is encapsulated within a sturdy resin carabena. Allowing you to really take this timepiece absolutely anywhere. Shock and water resistant this watch has nifty little extra functions including an alarm, stopwatch, indiglo backlight, screensaver and mystery answer. Costs around £30 from good jewellers or £25 in Argos. I didn’t pay for mine; it was a prize from the cokeauction. As someone who isn’t particularly gentle with any piece of jewellery, this watch looked just the job. It cost me 8600 credits, which in real terms is 86 red coke ring pulls, and was well worth the effort. This design enables the carabena clasp to be fixed onto just about anything, from school bags to belt hooks and even onto wetsuits, if that is your thing. As someone who finds that regular watches cause an allergic reaction to my wrist this choice was for varying reasons as well as having a new gadget. The watch itself is about 4 inches long and supplied in clear blue resin, which so far has proved to be very resilient. It is more than suitable for clumsy youngsters and adults alike. I just hook it on and go. It is easy to adjust and set, and comes complete with comprehensive instructions, in several different languages. The screen is large and extremely easy to read with an attractive shaped display. With several extra features including Screen saving option, several images flashing across the screen. Mystery answers, ask the watch a question, and wait for some ridiculous answer. Alarm clock, very bleep bleepy, easy to set and use Stopwatch, again easy to use It also boasts a night time battery saving mode which dimly illuminates the display. The Indiglo functions allow the light brightness to be adjusted according to your requirements. The stopwatch is accurate, and the alarm clock is effective in use.
Shock resistant and water resistant to 50 metres this is an ideal choice for sportspeople as well as ordinary individuals. It is important to note however, that in order to retain the water resistance, that buttons should not be pressed while the unit is submerged. For battery replacement I would also suggest that the watch is taken to a reputable jeweller, as it will be difficult to assemble the seals correctly, and would render the unit unusable underwater. In conclusion, this watch is a functional trendy piece of kit, and if by chance I break it in the near future, I would have no hesitation in buying another one to replace it The watch is covered by a year guarantee Other watches by Timex in this range can be viewed at www.timex.com
Epson Stylus Color 880 An quality inkjet printer manufactured by the renown Epson compamy. Photo capabilities printing up to 2880 dpi(Dots per inch) Three colour cartridge and separate black. Connects to USB or Parallel port. High speed and effective. Costs £129 and available in Curry’s, PC world, and other outlets. Required computer specifications for Windows 95/98, CD Rom drive Pentium processor 32MB ram 50mb hard drive space Parallel port For Windows2000 CD Rom drive Pentium 133 or higher 64 MB ram 100mb hard drive space Parallel/USB port Our elderly Epson 850 colour stylus inkjet printer had reproduced its last photograph several months ago, and we were actively seeking a replacement. Having researched what we could, we were torn between the LexmarkZ52 and another Epson. The criteria were that it was of photographic standard, it was 3 colour, and that it was affordable. Having paid over £300 for our last printer we expected to pay at least that for such a model. To my surprise I discovered that in the computer age everything was drastically reduced. Having always owned Epsons, I was keen to continue the trend. I visited the dreaded PC World, and selected the Epson 880 model, not only was the resolution high at an amazing maximum 2880 dpi, it was fast and used the three colour cartridges. It looks much like Epsons earlier Stylus range, but it has a transparent cover to enable easy viewing of the print heads in operation. It cost £129.90 and I was keen to try it out. Setting it up. This was really easy to do. The software that was included was quick to install and extremely easy to operate.(Photo deluxe v.1.1 business edition, and relevant drivers) The machine was well packed and wrapped, with no parts or software missing. I chose to utilise my serial port, as my USB ports are currently in use. <
br> Please note, neither USB or parallel leads are supplied with the printer. The cartridges are supplied and are easily fitted into the machine with the minimal amount of effort and fuss. Installed and in situ, I was ready to print. After the first print, we realised that something was not quite right, having some knowledge of the procedures and maintenance of this brand of machine; I selected the Utilities section inside the printer program and proceeded to clean the heads. This did not solve the problem. For several hours I persevered, still with no success, producing lines banding over the page in any resolution, and using nearly a whole cartridge in the meantime. I contacted PC World first thing the next morning, and informed them that I was not satisfied and that I would be returning the faulty printer immediately. The technicians diagnosed faulty heads on the printer, and quickly and painlessly returned my money as there were no replacements available. Printer number 2. Bought from Curry’s, installed and set up. As I loaded my printer tray I was filled with some trepidation, I really needed this printer to work…. And it does. What can it do? It can print all on popular medias such as photo paper, transparencies, matt, glossy, transfer, card, gash paper, in fact most anything. It also has the capability to print envelopes and A5 What dpi can it print in? Choices of resolutions are, 360 dpi, 720 dpi, 1440 dpi and 2880 dpi. What is the quality like? The quality on all resolutions is of an incredibly high standard with sharp crisp lines and print. This is down to the quality print head, which has obviously been thoroughly researched, and tested, and now includes an option to vary the size of the ink droplets. The photographic reproductions are crystal clear and not in the least grainy in appearance. In fact it is diffi
cult to tell the difference between the original and the copy. In use it is extremely quiet and incredibly fast Any other interesting features? A new high-speed mode, which is fast!!!. How fast? It is capable of printing Print speeds of 12ppm black and 11.7ppm colour at approximately 5%coverage at economy speed and print. For quality fine prints it will take considerably longer approximately 2 minutes per sheet of A4.(1440dpi, even finer prints take longer still 2880dpi The paper tray can accommodate up to 30 sheet of paper at a time depending on the type of paper used, and loading the paper is child’s play. The software has extra features that allow you to enhance digital camera shots, and other images inside the printer program. This printer can be networked and offers double sided printing, however in order to print both sides you have to physically remove the paper from the tray and place it back into the feeder. I have no qualms with this printer at all, the refill cartridges are around £20 for colour and slightly cheaper for black. The full specs can be found at the following address(Very technical info) http://www.epson.co.uk/product/printers/inkjet/stycol880/spec.htm I fully recommend this printer, the price is right, the quality is outstanding and it looks good too. It is easy to use, and can be used to it’s full potential by a complete novice. Positively a thumbs up.