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yampy
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Member since: 23.07.2000

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    • More +
      17.10.2010 17:53
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      Some peace of mind that can only help

      Health

      As I have several illnesses, which I have had for six years now, it means I take lots of different medications two or three times daily. With some of them I don't have any side effects but with others they cause me extra illnesses. It's sad really that one drug prescribed to me to help with one part of my illness is also responsible for making my blood pressure rise. My high blood pressure is kept at a more acceptable level with the use of three different tablets. About half of the over sixty fives and a quarter of middle aged adults suffer from high blood pressure, (hypertension), and is more common in people that like too much salt, or not eating enough fruit and vegetables, lack of exercise, caffeine and alcohol and the ever increasing obesity problems here in the United Kingdom. A family history of high blood pressure is also a factor as is those who have diabetes, as I now have which was steroid induced. Having high blood pressure increases your chances of heart disease, strokes and other cardiovascular diseases. Keeping a close eye on your blood pressure would normally be done at your local health centre by a Doctor or nurse but I much prefer to keep a check on mine at home, this saves me and the health centre a lot of valuable time. To do this I purchased a Microlife Blood Pressure Monitor (automatic) model number BP 3AG1, approximately six months ago, and is a upper arm fully automatic inflation and deflation cuff device.

      Where to buy

      I purchased this device through the website Blood Pressure Association Online Shop, www.bpassoc.org.uk/Home and I paid £40 with all of the proceeds going towards the charity the Blood Pressure Association charity number 1058944. If you shop around online you can get this same device a little bit cheaper (£10). The monitor comes with a three year guarantee and is included in the British Hypertension Society's list of clinically validated blood pressure monitors for home use. You can buy additional cuffs for £12 extra and you can get then in different sizes so that you can share your monitor with someone else. The two sizes are: Medium Cuff 22-32cm 8.75-12.5" or Large Cuff 32-42cm, 12.5-16.5". There are many other home monitoring devices on their website in different price ranges and models. All major debit and credit cards are accepted using a secure online system, (sage pay), it was delivered to me in seven days.

      The benefits

      This device does save me a lot of time and gives me peace of mind but can only be used as a control and not a diagnosis or treatment, and you should never alter the dosage of any of your medication as a result of a reading. I had, before this one, a Braun wrist fitting cuff type monitor which was quite good but I was persuaded to get this upper arm monitor as they say it is more reliable and more accurate. This one has turned out to be very accurate over the months that I've been using it, but what I suggest you do is check your blood pressure at your health centre/doctors and then check it yourself when you get home or even better take it with you so you get a very accurate reading while in the same state of rest at the clinic. Using it properly and having some understanding of what blood pressure, and the monitor reading results mean, does help but at first you may need to try quite a few times before you start to become more proficient and the readings then start to come together and mean something.

      What is BP

      Now I will try and explain what is blood pressure, this is when your heart beats and pumps blood around your body to give you energy and all the oxygen required. As the blood is flowing it pushes against the sides of the blood vessels with the strength of this pushing is the blood pressure. High blood pressure puts an extra strain on your heart and your arteries which may lead to heart attacks and strokes. You would not usually feel or notice high or even low blood pressure so it is necessary to have it checked and monitored. The way it is measured is in millimetres of mercury (mmHg), So as an example if your reading shows 120/80mmHg your blood pressure would be commonly said as 120 over 80. High blood pressure is when the upper (systolic) blood pressure value is higher than 140 mmHg and the lower (diastolic) value is higher than 90 mmHg. According to the World Health Organisation this reading of 140 over 90 value in an adult is the standard upper limit and this means any reading above that standard should and needs treatment. Systole means when the heart muscle contracts and blood is pumped into the aorta and pressure in the blood vessels is at it's highest. Diastole is when the heart muscle is relaxed the blood pressure in the arterial vessels drops to a low point.

      Blood Pressure Values

      There is a table for classifying blood pressure values using units mmHg set out according to the World Health Organization (WHO), Hypotension is when the upper level, (systolic blood pressure) is lower than 100 and the lower level, (diastolic blood pressure) is lower than 60. This also shows that a 'normal range' would show the systolic, (upper) between 100-120 and the diastolic, (lower) between 60-80. Mild Hypertension is classed as being 140 to 160 over 90 to 100, and Moderate Hypertension would show values of 160 to 180 over 100 to 110, then Severe Hypertension would show the systolic higher than 180 and the diastolic higher than 110. Your doctor must be consulted if you are getting readings constantly in the higher or even lower values. Blood pressure values must be kept within so called normal ranges to prevent some diseases.

      Some causes of high BP

      As you will probably know blood pressure has a tendency to go up and down at various times of the day and with different levels of stress, exertion and exercise so just doing one reading would not give you an accurate reading. This being another good reason for having one of these monitors. Experts do agree that up to 90% of patients have inherited high blood pressure, but smoking, being overweight, to much salt and too much stress do contribute and cause high blood pressure. So for every pound in weight we loose our blood pressure will come down as well, stopping smoking has always been the advice for everyone especially those that have hypertension the same as regular exercise which include jogging, cycling, walking and swimming all go a long way to strengthen the cardiovascular system. Also having a good nights sleep does play an important role in resting your heart and system thus bringing down stress levels and blood pressure. Drinking too much alcohol over long periods of time will raise your blood pressure, 21 units of alcohol a week is currently the recommended limit for men and for women it's 14. If you keep within these limits then this will go a long way to keep your blood pressure down. Half a pint of beer or cider and a small glass of wine approximately equal a unit.

      The Monitor

      The Microlife Blood Pressure Monitor is very easy to position and use and comes with a simple step by step guide, it weighs approximately 363g (with batteries x four 1.5v AA) a mains adapter DC 6V, 600 ma is an optional extra. The devise measures 109mm (W) x 134mm (L) x 54mm (H). On opening the box you will find the monitor with Velcro fitting upper arm cuff that can accommodate sizes medium for arm circumference 22 - 32 cm or large for arm circumference 32 - 42 cm. The LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) shows the oscillometric measuring method, and has a one touch operation that monitors blood pressure and pulse measurements. It has fully automatic inflation and deflation and a memory which can store the last measurement automatically. Measuring range for Systolic/Diastolic are 30 to 280 mmHg and the pulse range is 40 to 200 per minute. The cuff pressure display range is 0-299 mmHg It has automatic switch-off, battery check and error code.

      How to use

      Selecting a device with the correct cuff size is extremely important as a loose or incorrect positioned cuff will give a false reading. The cuff needs to be slid up the left arm so it is only a couple of centimetres above the elbow and with the tube running down the inside of the arm and the cuff should then be level with the heart. You can then secure the cuff with the Velcro closer then make sure you lay the arm on a cushion or table for support with your palm in an upwards position. You can then press the on switch and the pump will start to inflate the cuff it will then cut out when it reaches a certain preset pressure then you will see and hear the pressure start to fall and the device then detects the pulse beat a beep tone will then be heard with every pulse beat and a blinking heart symbol will be displayed and then a long beep tone will then be heard when the measurement has concluded. The measurement for systolic and diastolic blood pressure values are then displayed as well as the pulse frequency, the measurement will then be stored until your next measurement is taken. You must always take the measurement on the same arm every time.

      Conclusion

      I have got nothing but praise for this blood pressure monitor it's done the job for me over the last six months, and saved a lot of time making trips to the doctors but mainly it has given my wife and me some peace of mind that can only help, albeit in a small way, to reducing my blood pressure. I now find it necessary to include some safety information given out by Microlife. This blood pressure monitor is not a substitute for a doctors consultation, people who are suffering from arrhythmia, vascular constriction, arteriosclerosis, diabetes and users of cardiac pacemakers should make sure they consult their doctor. If you need any further advice or information then you might like to search the www.microlife.com website their email is admin@microlife.ch or you can telephone their Consumer Relations helpline on +41/717277030 and their address is Microlife AG, Espenstrasse 139, 9443 Widnau, Swizerland.

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      • More +
        09.09.2010 12:24
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        Our whole experience can only be described heavenly

        Hotel Maritim

        Once owned by Mövenpick and called Jolie Ville Crocodile Island Luxor has now changed to Maritim Jolie Ville Kings Island Luxor. Maritim is a family owned and run company and they have been around since 1969 and are more well known in Germany in a lot of the large cities but their hotel portfolio is now over fifty strong in several countries around the world. Maritim's motto is 'meetings and accommodation under one roof', and they pride themselves on good old German hospitality. The Maritim Jolie Ville Kings Island Luxor is just one of five they own in Egypt, they have three in Sharm El Sheikh one in Alexandria and the one I'll be reviewing in Luxor. This was my fourth trip to the island and it may not be the last as the planned, and already underway, revitalisation and modernising thus doubling of the capacity with extra new bungalows and two more swimming pools is a bit tempting to say the least. A large new reception was already nearly completed when we were there and the expansion of the bridge making it possible to have two way traffic on and off the island at any one time. My first two visits was when it was Mövenpick and there has been changes since Maritim took over but that's mainly to do with management the resort itself is just as tranquil, lush, relaxing and beautiful as it's always been. I must add that for all the building work that's going on at the moment we never once were bothered by any of it.

        The Journey

        We booked our holiday with Thomson's for the first two weeks of July 2010, this is there quiet time with it being the hottest time of the year and the hotel has only 50% occupancy. You could choose between half board or bed and breakfast we booked the latter. We flew Thomson-fly from Gatwick, Luxor flights are normally on Wednesdays and the plane is nearly always full. It takes four and three quarters hours to get there and the flight was one hour late taking off but they made the time up on the way. It was a very hot, stuffy and uncomfortable flight. Once you have landed and leave the plane is when you realise how hot it gets out there it takes your breath away, then a two minute bus ride to the terminal and passport control. This is where you get your visa which you usually buy using sterling but American dollars would be ok, it costs £10 each adult with reductions for children. Transfers from the Airport are about twenty minutes that's 14 kms to the resort and they normally have one other drop off in Luxor then its onward to 'Kings Island' due south from Luxor. A right turn off the main road and across the private bridge with only a couple of minutes to the welcoming entrance to reception.

        The Hotel

        The hotel is situated on its own private island it is on the River Nile approximately 4 kilometres from Luxor and is an idyllic and beautifully landscaped escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life that you usually encounter with hotels and city life. There are 327 rooms housed in 21 bungalows spaciously spaced out on the lush green grass which has a labyrinth of treed walkways connecting all bungalows with all the places you need to get to. It is disabled friendly as the resort is nearly totally flat with only a couple of places that have steps but they have provided ramped walkways. Wi-Fi is free to all but has a weak signal in places and no signal in others. There are dozens of gardeners milling about all over the Island that are hard at work very early in the mornings and they do a terrific job of keeping all the trees, bushes and flowers in tip top condition.

        At reception you will be booked in and given a map of the island and then given the keys to your room whilst your luggage is taken by the very busy bellboys. Each bungalow has around 16 rooms and are identified by a letter of the alphabet we were given A6 which is the closest to the centre of the resort, this was requested by me several weeks before we arrived by email. As I have mobility problems I sent the manager an email and informed him of my situation and he was happy to give me the room I asked for. The rooms I have to report are very old fashioned and in the seventies style but are extremely clean and tidy and have excellent air conditioning which you will find is essential. Rooms are equipped with hairdryers and a kettle with tea and coffee and milk supplied, irons and boards are supplied on request with a quick call from your room to the excellent dry cleaning and laundry service. All the bungalows/rooms are due for an upgrade over the next several months which will bring them up to date. Activities include a fitness and massage centre, a jogging track (far too hot), tennis courts, football and volleyball, table tennis, billiards and fishing. In the reception area there is a library, a very expensive shop for magazines and papers a cash point and bank.

        The Pools

        There are two pools one is adults only and is aptly named the Tranquillity Pool which is a perfect place for the serious sunworshipper with temperatures averaging 45c and with hardly a breeze to speak of you will not fail to burn, no sorry, get a tan. There are always very friendly waiters around both pools to serve your every need, with soft or alcohol drinks that come with buckets of ice to chips and ice creams that are to die for. The second pool is a large infinity pool, this is where I spent at least four hours every day looking out over the very clear River Nile and watching the daily activity of the children swimming in the river and people in a couple of the small villages on the West Bank opposite going about their daily routines. On certain days every week the dozens of very large river cruise boats go past on there way to the various temples along the river towards Aswan. Around the pool areas there are plenty of comfy sun beds and the essential reed covered parasols with lots on the grassed areas for those that wanted more secluded privacy. They also have hammocks hanging between trees scattered around all over the island. Pool and sun bed towels are supplied free of charge, the pool has a waterfall that you can stand under and is quite powerful, near to the centre of the pool you can sit, relax and possibly read a book whist sitting in the Jacuzzi area. At one end is the very large kiddies pool section that has everything from climbing frames with water jets, chutes and slides and a sand pit, swings and slides close by. There is a kiddies club for ages between 4 and 12 open the whole year round. Ramses the camel makes daily appearances giving you the chance of a ride between the trees.

        Food & Drink at the resort

        The food generally is excellent but a little expensive, breakfast, from 5.30am till 10.30am daily is buffet style catering for the British as well as International cuisines with all types of cereal and fruit on offer, several fruit juices, coffee tea and milk. Hot food is freshly cooked by there top internationally trained chefs. You can have your eggs cooked any which way you want as there is a chef ready and waiting for your request, oh and remember there is no bacon here at all. This is the main à-la-carte restaurant that serves constantly changing themed buffet nights including the very delicious Egyptian, American, Italian, British, and other International favourites. 'La Fleur' restaurant is another serving à-la-carte international meals that is just a bit more posher. With a three course meal costing 154.00le = £17.50. The Sherazade is a garden restaurant overlooking The Nile serving baked food, pizza, sandwiches, ice cream, bbq'd meats and other Egyptian specialties. Warning if dining outside in the evening make sure you have covered yourself with a good mosquito spray as you will be covered in bites in no time at all. The Kings Bar, open till 11pm, is inside and next to reception and serves drinks and beverages including soups, beef and chicken burgers, salads, Margherita pizza 48.00le = £5.43, club sandwiches 52.00le = £6 and plenty of chips 12.00le = £1.36 per serving. A bottle of Lager, Stella 500ml was 30le = £3.95, a glass of white wine was 40.00le = £4.52 and a can of Seven up at 15.00le = £1.70. The pool bar, Nakheel Terrace, serves up snacks, refreshments and most of what you can order at The Kings Bar but you have to try there absolutely gorgeous ice creams. You can buy bottles of water at any time, at 13.00le = £1.47 from all of the above, or have it delivered to your room as they have a good room delivery service.

        Food and Drink in Luxor

        Every other night we would go into Luxor as eating and drinking in can get a bit expensive especially if you like a drink, the cheapest bottle of wine was 150le = £16.90. Just ask at the front desk for a taxi and it will be there in a couple of minutes they charge 20.00le = £2.26 one way but if you want they will wait outside until you have finished your meal and then take you back to the resort for another 20.00le. There is now plenty of restaurants with various cuisines to choose from. Most of them cater for the British but also you can try the genuine Egyptian specialities they are really worth giving it a go. My top three places to eat and drink are:- The Jewel of the Nile, Puddleduck and The Lantern, we had a three course Sunday roast at The Jewel of the Nile for 75.00le = £8.50 a head and it was beautiful. A bottle of Stella here is 15.00le = £1.69, sprite was 7.00le = .79p and a bottle of wine is 75.00le = £8.47. So as you can see it is a lot cheaper eating and drinking out than back at the resort, although they estimate that 80% of their guests will never leave the resort, but our method was just to go and do what we all fancied at the time, if we had a busy day we would stay on the island and eat there and we always had drinks in the rooms fridge for these reasons. Most of the restaurants that we ate at in Luxor had a drinks takeaway service, at no additional cost so filling the fridge was a whole lot cheaper. Just be aware that there is a corkage charge at the hotel so don't make it too obvious that you are sneaking in drinks and snacks. I mentioned snacks because there is also an 'open all hours' mini supermarket called Arkwrights in Luxor here you can buy a lot of your essentials like chocolate, crisps, drinks, fresh bread, tins of tuna and many of the toiletries you may have run out of but you cannot buy alcohol here. Most taxi drivers will know Arkwrights and all of the restaurants and will wait while you do your shopping. Luxor also has the usual fast food outlets namely KFC, McDonald's and Pizza Hut.

        Fellah's Tent

        Twice a week you can book up for a very entertaining evening at the Fellah's Tent, where lots of people from many of the hotels in Luxor can also join in. So for 240.00le = £27 per head you are given a traditional robe called a galabaya in different bright colours and there is a photo shoot then you all board and are sent out on a Felucca for half an hours sailing to watch the sunset. You then land at the bottom end of the island and after a short walk you arrive at what can only be described as a really large Bedouin tent where there is another photo shoot. You are taken to your table and are given copious amounts of wine, beer and soft drinks for the rest of the evening. They have a traditional local band playing, there's a fabulous belly dancer that you get the chance to join in with, oh and another photo opportunity. Then it's time for the snake charmer, the amazingly fast and colourful Whirling Dervish, also including singing, dancing and folklore shows after that the beautiful buffet starts. What a treat, it was brilliant and plenty of it, we were up two or three times and by the end of it all fully satisfied with the whole joyous evening.

        Places to visit

        There is a daily free shuttle bus, outside of reception, and a water taxi service that runs morning and evening to and from Luxor, you can book Felucca rides along the river at any time for a small charge, they will drop you off and collect you from some of the hotels that are along the front in Luxor. They also take you out for a day trip to Banana Island and Bird Island they will cook you an authentic Egyptian meal with drinks for a reasonable price.

        Valley of the Kings is a must with 62 labyrinth-style tombs where the Pharaohs were put to rest. including and most famous for Howard Carter's 1922 discovery of KV 62 Tutankhamun. Next the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut carved from the cliff face and then explore one of the 65+ tombs in the Valley of the Queens then onto the Colossi of Memnon, two massive statues that stand guard over the area.

        Another must do half day trip is the Karnak and Luxor Temples, Karnak being just three km north of Luxor here there's the amazing 134 pillars of its Hypostyle Hall and you will be able to walk the Avenues of the Sphinxes and then Luxor Temple and the 80foot obelisk and colossus of Ramses II.

        There is quad biking, sunrise hot air balloon ride on the West Bank, a two day trip to Abu Simbel which includes a train and boat journey visiting Aswan Dam and the great temple itself Abu Simbel and then an overnight stay in a top hotel. There are trips to the Red Sea and there's Cairo by air. Not forgetting the Luxor Museum.

        Staff

        There's not an idle one among them they are always on the go and will do anything to help. They are friendly and very polite, they can have a conversation with quite a few nationalities, more than what we can do, and you can tell it's not forced, At breakfast if you don't fancy there fairly strong coffee then you can just ask one of the waiters if you could have Nescafe and they will bring it with boiling water. My wife only drinks Soya milk and we mentioned this to them and the next day, after a few phone calls, there it was thank you. You may of read on some other review sites that they are always holding there hands out for tips but this is not true, well it's never happened to us, I'm not saying you can't give tips because you can it is allowed. If you buy food or drink for instance you can pay cash, (Egyptian), each time or you can put it to your room number and settle up when you want at the reception. We took with us as much Egyptian currency as we thought we would need and ran out but there is a cash machine thankfully. Keeping your money and valuables secure is not a problem as all rooms have a safe.

        Final thoughts

        Our whole experience can only be described heavenly, and yes I would certainly recommend it to all except those that thrive on having a busy nightlife of clubs, disco's and music and with plenty of bars, because here it's very serene, quiet and relaxing. What the new year brings after all the building work has finished with the extra bungalows, two more swimming pools, an Italian restaurant and whatever else they have planned I do hope that it won't change what a vast number of guests say is paradise. Lets just hope that Kings Island can stay afloat with twice as many guests visiting. With so many place to visit this is the perfect hub for whatever you plan to do.

        Phone: +20 (0) 95 2274-855
        Fax: +20 (0) 95 2274-936
        Reservation phone: +49 (0) 6151 905-790
        E-Mail: info@lux-maritim-jolieville.com

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        • Polymyositis / Health Problem / 184 Readings / 162 Ratings
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          04.10.2006 15:54
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          You really want to give it all in, I just think a weaker person would want to end it all

          Polymyositis (PM) is a weakness and degeneration of the muscles and is a very rare chronic connective tissue disease which can show different signs and symptoms from person to person. It is thought to be an autoimmune disease which can continue to attack the body's own normal and healthy tissues after fighting infections and viruses that have caused swelling, weakness, degeneration and inflammation to the muscles. It is believed that some medicines may trigger autoantibodies and white blood cells in the blood to attack the muscles after a viral infection and leads to degeneration of the muscle. Diagnosis takes several months with plenty of tests, which include physical examinations, biopsies, electromyography and many more. Treatment can vary depending on the individual but Steroids will be given in high doses to begin with and you can be on these for a long time if not indefinitely. If you have Polymyositis the chances of your children being affected is very small.

          It all started for me in June 2004 with an itch. I had an itchy chest that would not go away with constant scratching I soon had a very sore and red chest area. The only relief was to soothe the area with a cloth soaked in iced water. The whole experience lasted approximately 5 hours and I would not of wished this on my enemy. As soon as possible I got to see my Doctor who said I had a severe reaction to something and gave me some cream. Two days later it came back just as bad as the first time and I applied the cream which was useless so it was back to the iced cloth. This itch I had for a whole year and lasted for between three and five days out of every ten days, it appeared mainly on the chest and abdomen, arms, thighs and head. During the year I got to see the consultant at the Dermatology department and she put me through a thorough M.O.T. test. This included a Biopsy done under local anaesthesia, a CT scan, an ultrasound, (which revealed an Aortic Aneurysm), and lots of blood tests. I was put on Steroids and given new creams to try but the itch stayed, the latest cream I was given did help slightly it is called Menthol .25% in Aqueous. The condition, after doing all the tests, was found to be Chronic Urticaria.

          Urticaria is like Hives or Nettlerash and can last a long time from months up to decades and Doctors don't know the cause of it. Histamine in the skin is just one of the substances that cause Urticaria, so Antihistamine tablets form the main part of my treatment and I don't think they help at all. I have had many sleepless nights as the itching normally rears its ugly head after five in the evening and can last for up to four or five days. You hide yourself away from everyone and cover the area with cream that you have to wipe off after fifteen minutes because the cream has got hot from your skin and this also irritates you. You really want to give it all in, I just think a weaker person would want to end it all. Your social life is none existent and my stress levels reach the maximum at times. The Steroids do help you with the stress but after being on them for a while the side effects from them are more detrimental to my health and the Doctor will have to stop them eventually.

          From October 2004 my muscles seemed to be getting weaker and I was getting a lot of chest infections, normal day to day tasks were getting more tiring. I was on a special diet of not eating food with additives and colourants, which meant cutting out a lot of food that I would normally eat. My itching was getting less frequent which was a big relief I was referred to the Respiratory Consultant who did lots more tests which resulted in the diagnosis of Pulmonary Fibrosis, so back to the Steroids with the addition of Antibiotics. Another problem that a cause is not known, I did smoke for thirty five years but I was told this was not the cause. The muscle weakness was put down to the stresses and strains of the Urticaria and the lung problems as well as the high doses of drugs that I was on.

          We had a holiday to Egypt booked over a year before all of this started and I was determined to go, and go we did in May 2005. I never itched once during our two weeks there, must of been the hot weather, but I got extremely weak and found it hard to get out of bed in the mornings. I also was finding swallowing difficult and would constantly swallow things, (mainly liquid), down the wrong way, this had been most embarrassing at times. My very worried wife had to help dress me and walk with me to the restaurant for meals, this was getting more and more exhausting as the days went on. We were thinking of going home early but decided to stay. When we got to the airport I had to have a wheelchair all the way to the plane and when we landed in England. Luckily I had another appointment with the Respiratory Consultant five days after we got back and he admitted me to hospital immediately.

          I was very weak by now and was losing weight even though my appetite was still good, I had lost two and a half stone in three months leading up to being admitted. I was back on a very high dose of Steroids which I had through a drip. Lots more tests had to be done these included blood tests and one of theses is called the Creatine Phosphokinase Test or CK Test. This checks the levels of enzymes in the blood, most of the CK in the body exists in the muscle so a rise in CK in the blood suggests muscle damage. My CK level was at a staggering 6000, for a healthy adult the CK level in the blood, (normal range), is 22 to 198 U/L (units per litre). Another blood test picked up high blood sugar so I now have Diabetes this was caused by the Steroids. Myositis was suggested, this is simply muscle inflammation but more tests needed to be done first. An electromyogram (EMG) was a test that I had that measures the activities of the muscle by inserting a small metal needle into the muscle and records impulses. Recordings are made when the muscle is resting and contracting, this is repeated on several parts of the muscle. My muscle biopsy, which was extremely painful, was sent to London and they were then certain that I had Polymyositis.

          I spent four weeks in hospital in a six bed Rheumatology ward with my bed next to the window, I used to sit by my bed daily and people came in the ward and said how well I looked. The very deep tan that I had got in Egypt made me look healthier, if only they new how I really felt. They decided to put me on a drug called Cyclophosphamide, used in chemotherapy, and gave me it by drip. This drug is very powerful and it is used in a wide variety of cancers, it shuts down my immune system to help speed up the recovery of the muscles but leaves me wide open to infections and nothing to fight them off. So I then had to have the Flu and Pneumovax injections. Some side effects include decreased production of blood cells by the bone marrow, inflammation of the bladder causing bleeding and can also give you hair loss. This drug with the Steroids seemed to help and my CK level started to come down. I still found it hard to swallow properly because my throat muscles had wasted away but with practice I was ok.

          Back home now but needing a wheelchair to go anywhere. My eyesight has really got a lot worse now and I can't climb our stairs, I'm not able to raise one foot higher than five inches, and I need help standing up and getting dressed. I did need help getting in and out of the bath but now have an inflatable seat to assist me. I did get a bad attack of Pneumonia, even though I've had the Pneumovax jab, and had to spend another week in hospital. Although my CK is still on the way back to normal this will mean finding a happy medium with the drugs to keep my CK levels somewhere near to normal. Excercise has been a problem because of the Pulmonary Fibrosis, the more I excercise the more oxygen my muscles need which leaves me gasping for air and puts a lot of pressure on my lungs. If I went down on one knee I would not be able to get back up, that's how bad my muscles are. I've piled on the weight now because of the Steroids, how long I'm on these drugs for? well no one knows. Just got to get my Aneurysm sorted out then I can stop worrying.

          If anyone is interested or affected by Myositis or Polymyositis try this link:-http://www.arc.org.uk/about_arth/booklets/6009/6009.htm

          Useful addresses
          The Arthritis Research Campaign (arc)
          PO Box 177, Chesterfield
          Derbyshire S41 7TQ
          Phone: 0870 850 5000

          Arthritis Care
          18 Stephenson Way
          London NW1 2HD
          Phone: 020 7380 6500
          Helplines: 020 7380 6555 (10am-4pm Mon-Fri)
          or freephone: 0808 800 4050 (12pm-4pm Mon-Fri)

          Myositis Support Group
          146 Newtown Road
          Woolston
          Southampton SO19 9HR
          Phone: 02380 449708 (9am-3pm Mon-Fri and out-of-hours answerphone)

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          • More +
            26.02.2006 20:22
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            Overall I give this camera a ten out of ten I would definitely recommend it to you all

            With the travelling that I do these days I would not be without my trusty camera to record the events of everyday moments in time. To keep a record of all those colourful images that the minds album, even through my ageing eyes, stores up but lets them slowly fade away over time. Ugly, cumbersome, heavy, large and quite fragile are just some of the words I would use to describe cameras in general use at one time in the past but not anymore, they have come a long way forward since then. The new µ [mju:]-mini Digital S from Olympus is the one that I will review at this time, I bought it for the wife but I'm the one that uses it most of the time. Firstly I will give you a brief history of the Olympus company, they formed in 1919 and they started by making microscopes and thermometers. In 1936 the first Olympus camera called Semi-Olympus I was unveiled and then again in 1948 when Japan's first 35mm camera with a lens shutter system was introduced called the Olympus 35 I. In the 1950's saw the introduction of a Gastrocamera, a biological microscope and the Olympus Pen half-frame camera.


            They have been involved in dozens of groundbreaking innovations since then, especially in the medical world, but have become well known world wide for the design, production and supply of top quality cameras. I have always had an Olympus camera, and others as well, but this latest one seems to have it all even though it is small it is packed with so much you just wonder where they put it all. In 1991 the first µ [mju:] (Stylus) camera became available this was designed to fit cosily into one hand, be lightweight and be fully automatic. It was not long before this type of camera became a best seller and then in 2004 the µ mini Digital, at 4.0 million pixels, was launched closely followed by the µ [mju:]-mini Digital S, at 5.0 million pixels, which won the TIPA 'Best Innovative Design' award for 2005. The µ [mju:]-mini Digital S from Olympus comes in five shiny colours which are Lagoon Blue, Enamel Black, Liquid Silver, Gloss Beige and Pearl Pink the latter being the one we have. The price is £139.99 delivery free from Cameras2u.com as of the third week of February 2006.


            It's sleek, slim and stylish design fits snugly into the palm of your hand and only weighs 115g (without the battery) it has a weather-proof compact designed body and they boast that it is crafted from a single sheet of metal, a process that is exclusive to them. The lens itself retracts into the camera and hides behind a fully automated lens barrier thats slides across the hole which then lies flush with the face of this very smooth lined camera. The box contents include a wrist strap that is easily fitted to the camera, you get a LI-30B Lithium ion battery and a LI-30C Battery Charger the charger usually is an extra but not in this kit, a 16MB xD-Picture Card, USB Cable, AV Cable, Software CD-ROM (Olympus Master) this is a really good program to put on your PC, the Instruction Manual and a 2 year warranty card normally you only get one years warranty. You will find that the xD Picture memory card supplied will not be big enough if you are taking lots of pictures so my advice would be to buy larger memory formats of say 512MB priced at £27 approximately from Amazon ASIN: (B00012KBVK).


            We also bought a spare battery from Amazon (ASIN: B0007LFU70) at £26 that we keep charged up and ready. When you get your new camera the battery will need to be charged up and this will take three and a half to four hours initially and then only two and a half hours to three all the times after that. The battery does not need to be fully discharged before you recharge you can charge it up anytime and as many as 300-500 times. Any custom camera settings that you have made and saved, and if you have set the onboard clock, will be safe for up to one day after removing the battery so you have plenty of time to charge your battery and replace it. You can always check the power left in your battery by watching out for the battery symbol on the display at the back of the camera. The battery compartment is at one end of the camera and is accessible by pressing and holding a button whilst lifting the compartment cover upwards, the battery snaps into place only when inserted properly. In this compartment you will find the memory card holder.


            Fold back the hinged memory card cover towards you and then slide in the memory card the right way up until it clicks into place then fold the cover back and close the compartment cover. I must mention that you can record videos with sound on this camera, which is a brilliant extra feature that we have had a lot of fun with, the length of the video you take is really determined by the size of your xD-Picture memory card, so obviously the bigger the better. Every time you take a picture you will see a memory gauge on the LCD display this tells you that it is being recorded onto your picture card, the gauge will be fully lit if you have just taken several pictures fairly quick this means you should wait until the indicator turns off again before taking anymore. The number of pictures that you can store on a 16 MB xD-Picture Card depends on your settings, the lowest being (image size) 640x480 =90 frames, 1024x 768=58 frames, 1280x960=38 frames, 1600x1200=24 frames, 2048x1536 20 frames and 2560x1920=13 frames in HQ Mode or 4 frames in SHQ Mode.


            Recording a movie with sound in HQ Mode, with an image size of 320x240= (15 frames/sec.), is 41 seconds on a 16MB Picture card or 1 minute 45 seconds in SQ Mode with an image size of 160x120= (15 frames/sec.). So if you do decide to get a larger memory card these figures do go up significantly. Turning on the camera is a doddle, on top of the camera there is a multi function mode dial you will need to set this to the picture of a camera and then press the power switch, thats it now the lens pops out and the screen/monitor lights up. The screen will show the battery check indicator and what shooting mode you are set on and it will display the amount of pictures you have left to take depending on what image size setting you are on. There is a sleep mode that automatically puts the camera to sleep after three minutes of inactivity and can be reactivates as soon as you press the shutter button. After fifteen minutes in the sleep mode the lens retracts and the camera turns off, you will need to turn the camera on again to use it.


            The lens is a bit more complicated and technical to describe so for this reason I shall be brief. It has a 2x optical zoom and 1x - 4x Digital zoom or when these two are combined then this will be 8x. Focal length ranges from 5.8 - 11.6mm with a maximum aperture of 1:35 (wide) - 4.9 (tele). Focusing is auto with contrast detection and the scale of focusing in the Standard mode is 0.5m - infinity and 0.2m - infinity in Macro mode, in Super Macro mode you can take very close up pictures from 8cm away. Shutter speed 1/2 - 1/1000 sec (night scene 4 sec), Sensitivity in auto ISO 64 - 400 (640 for indoor and candle shooting), in Manual ISO 64, 100, 200, 400. There are fourteen scene programmes, Portrait, Night Scene, Night scene with Portrait, Self Portrait, Self Portrait with Self Timer, Beach and Snow, Cuisine, Indoor, Landscape, Landscape with Portrait, Behind Glass, Candle, Sunset, Fireworks). Image processing is TruePic TURBO, pixel mapping, noise reduction. Function shooting 2 in 1 function, panorama function.


            On the back of the camera is the very impressive 4.6cm / 1.8" TFT colour LCD screen (134,000 pixels), this one is not an ordinary LCD screen but one that uses HyperCrystal LCT technology. This display allows you to view the image that you are wanting to capture from almost any angle within 160 degrees and without having to move the camera about, up and down and side to side, you can see the perfect image even in really bad conditions like sunshine and bright snowy or icy conditions. When you turn on the camera for the very first time you will be prompted to set the time and date and the option of changing the language settings, by default this was already set to English. Also on the back cover is a quick view button for viewing your last picture taken or for viewing any that are on your memory card all this is achieved by using the arrows on the Scene Key button, the up and down arrows give you ten pictures back or forward, and the left and right arrows gives you the previous or next picture in the display.


            The fourteen scene programmes do make taking your snaps a cinch under all differing conditions from ski-ing to water sports or from romantic meals to snowboarding or even surfing. They even make snorkelling possible by using the Outdoor Case that they sell as an optional extra this protects the camera to a depth of three metres. What I like about the μ-mini Digital S camera is that many of the functions can be operated or adjusted manually, this making you believe that you are in total control. One of the many functions allows you to edit your images directly in the camera letting you choose from different effects such as Fish Eye or Soft Focus. The Exposure compensation function lets you make fine changes to the exposure setting in the range of plus or minus 2.0 in one third steps. Once you have made these changes you can check out the results on the monitor. I will give you a brief example, bright subjects like snow sometimes turns out darker but by adjusting the exposure towards the plus sign this will bring the subject closer to their real shades.


            They even suggest that adjusting the exposure in this manual manner may give you better results in some instances. The Calendar Display function is very handy indeed it puts all your images in order of date taken and displays them by monthly calendar format. Other settings on the Scene menu consist of setting the flash mode, taking close-up pictures or using the self-timer. Printing off your images can be done easily either by taking your memory card to a photo processing shop or one of the new self printing booths that are popping up around the country in shopping malls, by pc, using the supplied software that comes with the camera or by PictBridge. This method uses the camera as a USB device by connecting it to a remote or portable photo printer that acts as the host via a USB cable. I like to put all my pictures on my computer and then burn them to CD first and then print them out so I have always got plenty of copies. Installing the Olympus Manual and Master Software that comes with the camera is a must do.


            This software helps you organise and manage all of your images downloaded from your camera, by selecting slideshow you can browse through your images or movies and playback the sound as well. You can make Panoramic images that you have taken in panorama mode, and the software lets you edit your images either by rotating, trimming or changing the size before you print them out. The Olympus Master software also contains the user registration which allows you to register the camera online if you so wish, you will then receive information on software and firmware updates as and when available from Olympus. Overall I give this camera a ten out of ten I would definitely recommend it to you all. You may prefer a different colour, as I do even though it's not mine, but be assured different colours work just the same. Sometimes you may find that this camera comes under the heading of Stylus Verve S rather than the µ [mju:]-mini Digital S this is because they use that name in America the Stylus Verve S that is.

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            • Lexmark P315 / Inkjet Printer / 80 Readings / 74 Ratings
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              13.02.2006 21:55
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              I have yet to fault it, so I have to recommend this product to you.

              Since its launch in 1991 Lexmark, and its products, have won over 2000 awards and industry accolades from all around the world. One of their secrets of success is that they develope and own the technology in their products, they were the first company to develope and market 4800x1200 dpi (dots per inch) resolutions. With this and several other advances in the industry they have been at the front, with other leaders, in laser and inkjet printers either for the home or office user. They will, in my opinion, continue to grow as long as they keep the consumers interests and input paramount during the design and development of their future products. Bearing this in mind, and already being a Lexmark product user for some number of years when these new all in one photo printers came on to the market well I had to have one. This one, the one I'm about to review, is the Lexmark Portable Photo Printer P315 weighing in at 2.2kgs or 4lbs 13ozs approximately.


              Its dimensions are 142mm/5.6inches High x 274mm/10.8inches Width x 211mm/8.3inches Depth which means it is very much a portable printing lab that we have used on many occasion, like taking it with us on some of our many trips up north to see the family. Taking pictures and then being able to print them out at will whenever needed and as many times as you want, without the added expense that you would have at a kiosk or photo printing shop. Each high definition borderless 10x15 cm/4 x 6 inch print only takes 38 seconds when you print in QuickPrint mode, there are three Colour speed modes quick =38 seconds, normal =70 seconds and photo =140 seconds. The really good thing with this printer is that you don't need a PC for it to operate, you can connect it straight to your camera via USB cable from the PictBridge port on the front of the printer.


              The other way is via memory card and this printer is compatible with several different memory cards such as Compact Flash I & II, Microdrive, Multimedia Card (MMC), Secure Digital (SD), Memory Stick Pro (<512MB), Memory Card (MS), Smart Media, XD Picture Card (<512) and Memory Stick Duo. There are only two slots on the front of the machine that remarkably take all these memory cards, we only have the Fuji XD Picture Card that is with our camera but have used a memory card from a couple of other cameras and a mobile phone, so it is very versatile indeed. The colour of the printer is mainly dark grey with the top cover being silver. The printer comes in the box with a power supply and line cord, one High Resolution Colour cartridge number 33, a fairly thick multi-language Installation Guide, Lexmark Premium Glossy 10x15cm Photo paper sample pack, Service and Warrantee information. You get 1 years guarantee from Lexmark and the power requirements are 90v AC-270v AC input.


              Across the top of the printer there is a retractable carrying handle for portability, a 2.5 inch/ 63mm LCD screen, various buttons that I will describe to you in a minute and a lid that lifts up for you to change ink cartridges, and changing the cartridge is a very simple operation. As soon as you lift the lid,(with the machine turned on), the ink cartridge realigns itself so that you can easily get at it, press a spring loaded lever, lift out the spent cartridge, pop in the new cartridge and then just spring back the lever till it clicks and that's it. On closing the lid the printer resumes its pre-start position and you are ready to go. I have bought a replacement cartridge and photo printing paper just for spare and have not needed to use any more ink just yet but I did run out of the sample paper that came with the printer package, they only give you 5 sheets of 10x15cm/ 4x6inch. I bought these from inkfactory.co.uk and the Premium glossy photo paper, by Jettec, was £9.99 vat included this was for a hundred sheets of 10x15cm/ 4x6 inch.


              The ink cartridge, (Lexmark number 33 or 35), was £15.78 including vat now as you will already know you can buy cheaper versions or copies but that is entirely up to you. There is another one you could try called Lexmark High Yield colour Inkjet Cartridge this is for top quality photo printing at £21.51 including vat, but the quality I've got with the cheaper cartridge is good quality anyway. The paper input tray is also on the top of the machine and there is a maximum of 25 sheets at any one time, no output tray so you will need to have it on a flat surface so you won't need to watch them when printing out your prints. On-Board memory is 32MB of SDRAM/Flash 16Mbit. The four position LCD Control display can be used to preview your photos and check the status of the printer it allows you to enhance and edit, crop and rotate, sharpen and adjust the brightness using the buttons next to the display on the control panel. 1. button press for the photo memory, 2. Stop/clear which is for stop that print job, 3.Start.


              Number 4. is the power on/off button, 5. this one is a four way arrow cursor with up for scroll through menu options, cropping, and skipping forward through ten pictures at a time. Down is the same as up but skipping backwards through ten pictures at a time on the memory card, press the right arrow cursor to increase the number of prints and to display the next picture on the memory card. left cursor is the opposite of right. Number 6. button is used to change the number of photos you want to print and to change crop sizes. Pressing number 7. will rotate the image in the control panel display 90 degrees counterclockwise to ease viewing, and finally button eight is choose a menu option or choose a displayed photo for printing. Ease of use with this device could not be any easier, the first time I used it was without reading the instructions and I was well happy with the results.


              Printing from a memory card is so simple as long as you stick to a few rules, only use one type of memory card at any one time, a small light will light up when the machine is reading the card, insert the card with the makers name uppermost. Some cards have an arrow on them which should be facing the printer on insertion and some have an adapter which should have the gold contacts facing up over. Firstly load up your paper and switch on the machine press the down arrow key to highlight the slide show then you need to press select, the photos will then be displayed for five seconds at a time but you can skip or go back using the arrow keys you can then press stop when you are ready to print your selected photos. The printer, whilst in operation, is extremely smooth and quiet and just seems to glide through the numerous printing jobs given to it. The whole of the under side of the printer is covered with a fixed thin rubber mat, and being thicker in each of the four corners, (feet) helping to dampen any noise.


              You have the option to customise your photos before the print takes place, this means you can crop, adjust the brightness, change the number of prints, change print quality or change blank paper size. This way you can select another photo and do something different with it and so on. Pressing print at this stage brings up a preview then press start to begin the printing process. Remember not to remove your memory card until the light, next to the card slot, stops blinking if it is still blinking this means the card is still transmitting data. Printing straight from a digital camera using a USB cable and connecting one end to the camera and the other end to the PictBridge port on the front of the printer. You must refer to your own cameras documentation for step by step instructions on connecting by this method and making sure your camera is set to the correct USB mode. To print a photo in black and white, make sure your memory card is inserted and you are on the menu screen then press select.


              Find the photo you want to adjust using the arrow buttons to scroll then press 'Select', press 'Menu', this brings up the photo menu, press the 'Down Cursor Key' until you highlight 'Print Colour' then press the 'Right Cursor Key' till you highlight 'Black & White', press 'Select' then just press 'Start' to print your pictures and they do equal 35mm quality photos. Don't worry if I've complicated it a bit because the manual that comes with the printer is very thorough and tells you a lot more than I have here, for instance cropping a photo is so easily achieved just by following the step by step guide given in the book, the same for adjusting the brightness, viewing a slide show and adjusting the number of prints that you want. Digital Print Order Format (DPOF) on some cameras means that you can specify which photos to print and how many copies before the memory card is removed from the camera.


              The factory default settings, which you can easily change back to if you get into trouble, for blank paper size is 4" x 6" are controlled and selected from the 'Menu' display and can be changed to Hagaki Card (100mm x 148mm) or A6 (4.13" x 5.83" or 105mm x 148mm) or even Photo (4" x 6"). Other changes you can make through the 'Menu' display are paper type this is Glossy, Plain and Coated or print quality this is Draft, Normal and Photo, you can also turn the preview display on or off. You have got language settings and power save settings, this is set to 20 minutes by default, lastly there is restoring factory settings which I have already mentioned above. Troubleshooting guides are a plenty in the manual and seem to cover every possible eventuality. Transportation is a doddle as long as you remember to take the power lead with you, and remembering that it will save you money in the long run as you will not need as many memory cards, and they are not cheap, because once you have printed off your pics then you can wipe your memory card clean and use it again.


              When I bought the Lexmark Portable Photo Printer P315 it was £54.95 at the beginning of December at pcworld, now it is £79.99 in-store or on-line for a great £59.99 but then you can not get it delivered you have to reserve it on-line and then go and pick it up. Value for money compared to some of the same type of machines on the market must put this printer near to the top of the list as I have yet to fault it, so I have to recommend this product to you if only for the quality of the black and white pictures we have now got of our grand children. Please take the time to search the Lexmark website for any answers to questions that I have not covered. Happy printing.


              www.lexmark.co.uk
              Technical Support Contacts
              Laser printer and network printers
              UK Hotline number: 0870 7337100
              Ireland Hotline number: 1800 40 90 70
              For sales, product or any general enquiries:-
              please contact The UK Head office on : 08704 440044

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              • More +
                09.02.2006 20:15
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                Overall it was a very pleasant experience and I would recommend it.

                In December 2005 we travelled up north from Portsmouth to Darlington to see our family, this being a regular event for us as we love travel, and we stayed for a couple of nights in a hotel. It's called Sleep Inn Hotel & Conference Centre Darlington and can be found at the south end of the A167 at Newton Park approximately 35 metres from junction 59 on the A1(M) either north or south exits will get you there. At the entrance to Newton Park you will find a MacDonald's and a petrol station then it's straight on to the hotel and the automatic barrier that lets you into the car park. The hotel is only two and a half years old and is very well lit with it's very neat, clean and tidy landscaping and the very large free car park had plenty of spare places, in fact it was near enough empty. In front and at the sides of the main entrance there were plenty of disabled parking bays with a gentle slope leading in through the main doors to the reception.


                It was very bright and modern looking in the reception with a few tables and chairs to rest in while you checked in. This being a simple check on the computer, as we had booked a few weeks beforehand through their website. The process of finding and booking a room on their website took only minutes and is very easy to follow, you check the availability and then select your room type. The two main room types are Executive or Standard and are priced at £65 and £55 with both these options offering full English breakfast included, normally £7.95. Your credit card details are taken at this stage but you are not required to pay until the day of your departure, they do ask what time you will arrive and if you want smoking or non smoking and if there are any other requests. That's it, you are booked in, your confirmation is sent to you by email and you can print it out and bring it with you, although you don't need to we did.


                Check in time is after 2:00pm and check out time is before 11:00am on the day of departure, breakfast is served between 7:00am till 10:00am. One point to note is that if you decide to go out anywhere in your car you must remember to ask the receptionist for a four digit code which you need to type in the keypad to raise the car park exit barrier, the number changes daily for security reasons. Our room was on the first floor, luckily there are lifts at both ends of the building, and the fire doors in the corridors and the room doors where wide enough for a wheel chair to pass through with ease. On entering the room was about medium sized, bright, clean, neat and very tastefully decorated. There was enough room around and at the bottom of the king-size bed to get past with an easy chair in one corner. The window had curtains with rope like tie backs and nets, the view looked out over country fields with the A1(M) motorway in the distance but no noise could be heard even with the window slightly open.


                We booked the standard room, we did check the Executive room out and found the only differences were that the more expensive Executive room was very slightly bigger with an additional seating area but apart from that the rooms were identical except for a difference in the colour scheme. The bed was gorgeous so soft and springy, oh and BIG. The long desk had the standard satellite colour television with remote control at one end and tea and coffee making facilities in the middle, with plenty of coffee, tea, milk and hot chocolate carefully laid out on a tray. Also every room has Wi-Fi and high speed Internet access modem point through the direct dial telephone. The temperature in the room could easily be controlled and we found that once we had set it we did not need to touch it again throughout out two night stay, and very pleasant that was too. Air Conditioning is also fitted to every room but with it being December we did not give that a try.


                All rooms have alarm clocks with radio, toilet and shower cubicle with seat and a fitted to the wall shampoo dispenser. No bath but the shower made up for that because it was a power shower, with plenty of red hot water, what a treat it was too. An iron and ironing board in the cupboard was a nice touch, some of the other establishments I've stayed in could learn from this, as you always need to take out the creases no matter how good you are at packing your clothes. There was plenty of room to hang your clothes with plenty of drawer space as well, sorry I meant to mention that the shower and toilet were in a separate room and the wash basin was in the main room behind a screening wall. Wake up calls could be requested with the receptionist, as could newspapers be pre-ordered.


                The hotel offers a very large meeting, conference and banqueting suite, we found this room when we were nosing about in and around the lobby area and very impressive it looked too. We found the bar, a bit small but ok, it had about six tables with comfy chairs that were very relaxing. A large flat screen television was hung up on the wall just above where we sat, we ended up moving from this table as it looked as if everyone was watching us very eerie. The restaurant, was not very big at all, was well laid out that seated approximately fifty which is not a lot considering that they have eighty standard and eighty executive rooms. The food we did not try as we arrived to late, and early booking is advised especially at weekends even though there were spare tables they said we were too late, but the breakfast we did have.


                The breakfast, full English, was all that you could eat as it was buffet style so you could keep getting up for that little bit more, standards were high and the waiters and waitresses were always scurrying back and forth with more rounds of toast and asking if we needed more tea or coffee. A large variety of cereals and fruit juices could be had as well as yoghurts and several different fresh fruits. The restaurant was well laid out with plenty of room between tables and the decor was of the modern style. The bar/lounge and restaurant is open to none hotel guests and tea, coffee and light refreshments could be bought at the bar at any time of the day. All toilets, including the disabled, were very clean, new looking and well stocked.


                If you need a taxi the receptionist will book you one, no charge for the call, with the hotel being on the outskirts of Darlington and there is lots to do there you will probably need one especially if you have a drink in the dozens of pubs and clubs scattered around the town. Other places of interest is the beautiful Raby castle which was built in the fourteenth century and is fifteen miles north west of Darlington. Croft racing circuit is only four miles south and Beamish Open Air Museum, where you can step back in time nearly two hundred years and see what life is like then, is only thirty miles north west of Darlington. Teesside airport is only nine miles away and the main line train station is situated in the heart of Darlington.


                Back to the hotel just to say that overall it was a very pleasant experience and I would recommend it either as a base for tourists that want to go sightseeing in and around the area, and there is lots to see, or for those that need to break a long car journey in two and just stop over for the night. It's also just perfect for the business person as everything they need is under one roof. They have very friendly and polite staff that have plenty of knowledge of all the local events as well as the all the trips, excursions and touristy things that are happening in and about the surrounding area. Their website has a section on guest reviews and is good to read the experiences from all the other guests that have stayed there. It makes very good reading and does give you a good general idea of what you can expect, but be warned some people seem to be a bit picky.


                We ended up paying one hundred pounds for the two nights and that included a very large breakfast that we both had. This is very good value for the money we paid and we will definitely be staying in this hotel again in the future. Active Hotels hosts the Sleep Inn & Conference Centre website and they are Europe's leading online reservation providers to this hotel and eleven thousand other hotels and brag at selling a staggering two million hotel room nights per year. There is a map on their website that will give you directions on how to find it, the text can also be read in French, Spanish, Dutch and Italian. All major credit cards are taken and check out was smooth and quick.

                www.activehotels.com Just type DL1 3NL in to the search box
                Sleep Inn Hotel & Conference Centre Darlington
                Newton Park,
                Coatham Mundeville,
                Darlington, Durham,
                DL1 3NL

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                  02.02.2006 20:03
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                  A very pleasant one or two days stay in a very cosy room.

                  We have just come back from a visit to our family up north in County Durham and we stayed there for two nights in a Premier Travel Inn. This was situated at Newton Aycliffe, which is listed under Durham on the Premier Travel Inn website, and is about 12 miles south of Durham, 20 minutes approximately. It is less than a 2 miles from the A1(M), seven miles north of Darlington on the A167, I have put the full address and telephone number at the end of this review. In the surrounding area, and all within 25 miles of Newton Aycliffe, there are plenty of places of interest to visit such as Beamish Museum at Stanley and Croft Motor Circuit just south of Darlington, Barnard Castle and Raby Castle are close by, and of course there are several places to visit at Durham. The Metro-Centre is about 31 miles north and is our favourite shopping centre anywhere.

                  It had taken us six and a half hours to drive up to Newton Aycliffe and it was dark when we arrived but we had no problems finding the hotel as it was well lit. The car park was nearly empty and had several parking bays painted for the disabled which were the closest to the main entrance. Although the hotel states that it does not have any rooms adapted for the disabled you can always request a room on the bottom floor which is what we did. The reception was very small but the welcome was polite, warm and sincere from the check in lady who was very bright and bubbly. We had already booked our stay, for my wife daughter and myself, a week before on the internet at premiertravelinn.com this only took about two minutes to finalise and made it easier for the lady to get our details up on the computer screen. There was plenty of leaflets and brochures on view of all the local places of interest, attractions and historical buildings.

                  You could get chilled soft drinks from the machine in reception as well as sweets, crisps and chocolate. We were asked if we would like to order breakfast but could not decide at that time and were told not to worry as we could just turn up in the restaurant the next morning anyway. Breakfast is at 7:00 till 9:00 Mon to Fri and 8:00 till 10:00 Sat, Sun and Bank holidays. For £6.95 you get full breakfast and you can choose from Cumberland sausage, back bacon, egg, mushrooms, tomato, beans, bloomer bread toast, croissant, muffins, preserve, Marmite, yoghurt, fruit salad and a variety of Kellogg's cereals. Or you could choose from the Continental buffet at £5.25 that is the same as the full breakfast but without the fry up, there is plenty of fruit juice, tea and coffee all freshly made. One important point to note is that if you have children under ten then they eat free, and they can choose anything from the full breakfast range and up to four children can eat for free when one adult purchases a full breakfast.

                  The Inn has 45 rooms on two floors and we were given our key to room six on the bottom floor and cost £46.95 for the three of us per night, it would have been the same price if we had two children, (aged 15 and under), because all family rooms have a fold down sofa bed big enough for two. The room was medium sized, bright, clean and well decorated and had a king sized bed that was very soft springy and fairly high against one wall with a wall light fitted to each side. A fairly new looking Gideons holy bible was on the bedside cabinet on oneside of the bed. All rooms in the 460 Premier Travel Inns nationwide have En suite bathroom with bath and shower, colour remote controlled TV's, tea and coffee making facilities, heater controls and a long desk and table. There were two mirrors in the room with another two wall lights on either side of them, the thermostat could be set to a maximum of 23 degrees which was very pleasant for us up north from the south.

                  The window, which only opened to about six inches with it being on the ground floor and a security risk, overlooked fields so there were no sounds to be heard at all. The room was a no smoking room and had the smoke alarm fitted just outside the bathroom door which was a silly place to fit it because if you had just had a shower and left the door open then the steam would let of the alarm, well that's what we were told by the lady at reception. There was plenty of space to hang your clothes and ample shelf space, no trouser press, iron or hair dryer in the rooms. The small kettle three mugs and plenty of tea, coffee and milk was a very welcome sight after our very long weary drive. Three bath and three hand towels were neatly folded on shelves in the very clean and bright bathroom, that looked very shiny and new. A shower gel dispenser was fixed to the wall above the bath and a foaming soap dispenser was above the wash basin.

                  A shaver point with 115v/230v is available next to the strip light above the very large well lit mirror. One minor point was that when running a bath it seemed to take forever, and don't forget to keep the bathroom door closed because of the smoke alarm. The colour television only had the five basic channels but did have a very bright LED clock at the bottom which was handy. The lights in the room when they were all lit did not brighten the room that much because these establishments always fit the bulbs with the least amount of wattage as possible. We did notice that the room door was wide enough for a wheelchair to pass through, no pets are allowed except for assistance dogs. Rooms are available from 2:00pm daily but let the hotel know if you will arrive after 11:00pm, you vacate rooms by 12:00 noon on your day of departure.

                  Next to The Premier Travel Inn, and sharing the same car park, was the Two for One restaurant which could hold up to about eighty guests and was a very welcome sight as we were dropping off and could of eaten a horse. Most Travel Inns have restaurants and include Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Millers Pub and Restaurant, Chef & Brewer, Bar Est and many more but not all are licensed. Two for One bars and restaurants are part of Spirit Group Ltd who have 1,820 pubs, bars and restaurants nationwide. They are the managed division of Punch Taverns, the UK's leading pub company with over 9,500 pubs altogether. Unlike other Two for One restaurants that we had been to in this one you could sit at a table as soon as it became available which meant that, even though the place was near enough full, we got seated straight away. There was an area at one end of the bar where you could just sit and drink, there were three tables, a pool table but with a very smokey atmosphere.

                  Starters ranged from Soup of the Day, Prawn Cocktail, Cajun Chicken Salad, Beef Chilli Nachos to Tuna melt Bruschetta or Mushroom melt Bruschetta, (Vegetarian) prices from £2.05 to £3.45. You could have 'Sharers', as the name implies you share with a friend or family depending on which one you choose, you could have Combo for two at £6.45 this includes strips of chicken served with salad, onion rings, breaded mushrooms, potato wedges, barbecue chicken wings and garlic bread with barbecue dips. Two other 'Sharers' are Mega Family Feast at £9.95 and Sharing Nachos at £6.50. The Two for One main course menu is a bit to long to list here so I'll be brief and just list the main sections and a couple of the dishes. Favourite Meals have fish and chips, chicken and bacon pie, cottage pie and steak and ale pie, with several other whole hearty dishes in the price range of £6.95 to £11.65. Then there's the Tastes from around the World, self explanatory, prices are from £7.35 to £8.95.

                  The Grill part of the menu is the dearest as to be expected and they have a great variety of steak dishes to choose from ranging from £8.45 for a 10oz Gammon Steak to £12.25 for a 16oz Rump Steak. If you fancy a bit on the side try the sautéed mushrooms and onion rings at £1.35 and a whole host of other tempting sauces, dips, chips and salads. Don't forget when you order two main courses you get the cheapest meal free. They do Two for One light meals and a very good selection of children's meals. Desserts are to die for and include Hot Jaffa Pudding £2.65, Chocolate Fudge Cake £2.55 and Profiteroles £2.65 and many more mouth watering puds. You order when you like at the counter at the end of the bar and you can pay with all the main credit cards then you can sit back with your drink and wait about twenty minutes to half a hour for the meals to arrive, and they looked very impressive indeed. They stop serving at 9:30pm. Then it's back to our room to sleep it all off.

                  We had a very pleasant nights sleep with no disturbances and went to breakfast which was most enjoyable. I almost forgot to mention that you can open a business account with The Premier Travel Inn by calling this number 087060 88 666 or log on to their website which I have put below. Also enjoyEngland work with The Premier Travel Inn and give you plenty of ideas for leisure breaks that range from family fun days to historical attractions and local events if you want more information give their website a visit listed below. Leisure Vouchers are also available for your stay at Premier Travel Inns and can be used at so many places of interest, attractions and eating and drinking outlets all around the country, you could always give their website a visit it is listed below. You will find in your room a Premier Travel Inn comment card that asks about your arrival, the bedroom, the breakfast/restaurant and the overall value for money you got from your stay.

                  I would recommend Premier Travel Inn to any traveller wanting a pleasant one or two days stay in a very cosy room. It makes a very good base, at a very good price, to return to after spending all day visiting friends and family or even after a planned weekend visit to all the local attractions.

                  www.premiertravelinn.com
                  Central Reservations Service
                  Tel:- 0870 2428000

                  Premier Travel Inn,
                  Great North Road,
                  Newton Aycliffe,
                  County Durham
                  DL5 6JG
                  Tel:- 08701 977 085
                  Fax:- 01325 324910

                  www.visitengland.com
                  Tel:- 08454 568703
                  www.leisurevouchers.co.uk
                  Tel:- 0870 2420066

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                    12.01.2006 19:40
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                    They spoke very good English and were always polite and pleasant.

                    The first Sofitel hotel was opened in Strasbourg, France in 1964. Now Sofitel, part of the hotel brand of Accor, has 180 hotels in 53 countries around the world. They employ approximately 12,500 people in different countries around the world. The one that I am going to review is the one in Hurghada, Egypt and it is built on forty hectares in the Arabian desert and has the luxury of its own private beach by the very clear and lively Red Sea. It is 450 kms south of Cairo and 280 kms north of Luxor. It has 312 rooms and four villas and we stayed there for two glorious weeks over the Christmas period of 2004 and we loved it, the staff at the hotel were extremely friendly and helpful. We booked to go six months in advance and arranged everything with Portland Direct, who are part of the Thomson holiday giants, and payed for it through their website at portland-direct.co.uk. The price was around four hundred and sixty pounds each, flying out from Gatwick on a very crisp and cold early Tuesday morning, and this was for bed and breakfast, and it was not much cheaper for our daughter who was eleven at the time, although fair enough it did cover Christmas and this was a bit special.

                    The hotel has:
                    A conference room holding 130 people
                    A children's club (6 - 12 years old)
                    Ten bars
                    Three restaurants
                    An open-air amphitheatre
                    Discotheque
                    Shops include: jewellery, rugs, internet cafe, gift shop,
                    Beauty salon, perfumery, sports and photo processing.
                    Bank
                    Sauna and Turkish bath
                    One large swimming pool with a small kiddie pool
                    Massage, Jacuzzi
                    4 Clay tennis courts, volleyball and Squash courts
                    A fitness centre and a jogging course
                    Archery and a Mini golf course
                    Football, table tennis
                    Billiards and snooker
                    Horse riding (with lessons if needed)
                    Scuba diving and snorkelling club
                    Wind and water surfing, water skiing
                    Sailing facilities, glass bottom boat
                    Boat excursions
                    Deep sea fishing, sea fishing
                    Desert Safaris
                    18 hole golf course near to the hotel.

                    Our flight was on time, with some superb views of the desert and very deep blue Red Sea, and we landed four and a half hours later at Hurghada airport, the door of the Britannia 737 opened and we stepped out to find that it was hot. Well when I say hot I mean approximately seventy five degrees F and the time was 6:30pm so that to us was just brilliant. Onto the transfer bus for a very short trip to the passport control area where we had to queue for a short time at the visa kiosk. They cost us £10 each and the stamps were stuck in our passports and then stamped by one of the officers at passport control, you can get your visa well in advance from the Egyptian Consulate in London website :-http://www.egyptianconsulate.co.uk/visas.html but the cost will be £15 each, we then made our way to the luggage reclaim carousel this took about 15 minutes until our cases arrived. As I have mentioned in another review be careful here because there are a number of so called porters hanging around the carousel ready to grab your cases and bags before you have the chance to pick them up yourself, you must insist that you can sort out your own luggage but they will still hold out their hand for a baksheesh, (a tip).

                    Transfer times are between ten minutes and forty minutes depending on how many others need to be dropped off at other hotel in Hurghada. The part of the town that we saw was not that built up, in fact it looked quite baron to me, with only a handful of shops, bars and restaurants that we later found out got quite lively later on. We turned off the main Safaga road, through some gates and then along a winding road to the front of the very white and Moorish looking Sofitel hotel. Here we waited only a few minutes while our luggage was off loaded and put down in front of us, and were then told to report to check-in. We were given forms to fill in with all our details and passport numbers and then given our room numbers, we then had to wait a while so that the rep could give us a brief talk about the up and coming rep's welcome meeting planned for the next day in a small secluded part of the very impressive reception area. The desk at reception was quite long and well polished, there were three well dressed men behind the desk dealing with all us new arrivals, each one of them with a name badge that gave their name and language spoken and between the three of them they could speak English, French, German, Italian and of course Arabic.

                    I noticed a door at the end of the desk that led to the room housing the safety deposit boxes which we later signed up for at no additional cost to us. I must add that there was a safe in our room but we felt that the extra security of a safety deposit box would not hurt. Off to find the room now and it was not long before we found it, on the ground floor in a very nice looking white block of around fifteen rooms on three levels but with no lifts, and the cases just arriving at the same time as us, this was the start of our 14 day stay at the Red Sea Riviera. The room was medium sized and looked well decorated to a good standard with two single beds and a zed bed for my daughter. Double doors leading to the terrace that had two chairs and a table and a recess next to these doors that was used as a cushioned seating area. A standard looking table with lamp and stool below a very elegant looking well sized mirror and a mini bar with a satellite colour television on top of it. It had a very efficient air conditioning unit above the fitted wardrobe that housed the safe, then there was the shower room and toilet that had a fitted hair dryer. Room service was daily from 12:00-24:00

                    We unpacked immediately, showered, changed and made a bee line for the first bar we came across this was called Bar Azur this was a very large bar and cocktail lounge that was central to other bars and restaurants within the complex. It had a big black grand piano in the centre where all the kids, and adults, used to go past it and tinkle on the keys, Chopsticks and Eastenders being the more popular tunes that people new. One section was for the three pool tables that always seemed to have someone on there playing. Another section had a reading corner next to the very large terrace overlooking the sea. Live music and concerts every night playing in two or three different languages as there were people from England, France, Russia, Germany and Italy. All the main and popular spirits could be bought at the bar as well as cocktails and bottles of Stella and Sakara and other lagers on the pump, all the normal cans of soft drinks were on offer and also bar snacks could be ordered. The bar staff were always smiling and very friendly and would always take a shine to the younger members of families and were always trying to make them laugh. They spoke very good English and were always polite and pleasant.

                    Sharky's Disco, which is open from eleven at night till two in the morning, is situated well away from the main blocks of rooms so we never heard any noises or music. It was situated next to the open air Amphitheatre where they put on two shows for us in the two weeks whilst we were there. This was because it was their winter time and that they were already rehearsing for the Christmas concert. One show they did put on was the Michael Jackson Experience and it was brilliant. We went from the bar for something to eat and found the Marina Fish bar, this was up some steps just above the diving centre, and of course as the name suggests the main dishes on the menu was to do with the sea. Not a very big place but it made it feel more cosy, the food was spot on and cost us about £28 and this included a bottle of wine and other drinks. We then made our way back to our room going past the well lit and rather large pool. One thing I need to point out is that there are a lot of steps all over the resort and may not be suitable for the less mobile. Temperatures at night can get a bit cold at about 10 degrees C so you should remember to take the odd woolly jumper, daytime temperatures are around the 77 degree F mark and you do get tanned.

                    The next morning we were awakened by a welcome bright ray of sunshine breaking its way through the gap between the curtains, time for breakfast. At the Dar Andalous restaurant we were asked our room number and were shown to our table by a very polite waiter and were then made a fuss of by several other waiters walking briskly back and forth with pots of tea and coffee. The American style breakfast, in fact all the meals, was buffet style which is what we prefer and there was plenty of choice and it was top quality too. Two chefs were busily tossing their small black omelette pans for whoever wanted either fried eggs or omelettes with a multitude of fillings. Fresh bread and rolls, from numerous different cuisines, were baked at the hotel daily and made all the meals complete especially accompanied with the sachets of Flora and Lurpak. Evening meals celebrate the cuisines of a different country every evening and the themed dinners include buffets with musicians and the room is decorated every night, the work and effort that is put in everyday makes a real difference. All meals could also be taken on the terrace in the open air and make a pleasant change whilst supping our coffee looking over the pool towards the beach with all the sun canopies lined up in regimental rows flapping gently in the breeze coming in from the gorgeous looking and inviting Red Sea.

                    We spent the rest of the morning exploring and ended up lounging around the pool soaking up the sun with plenty of waiters asking what we wanted next. You could always find somewhere to sit as there are plenty of tables and chairs for all. The pool bar was very well equipped, open from 10:00am up until 6:00pm, this is where must people ate at lunchtime with the choice of snacks, main meals, soups, ice creams, cocktails, fruit juices and all the usual drinks for the adult or child. Pool activities were put on daily and gave you the choice of belly dancing, water polo, pool aerobics and various other popular water sports. Early each morning a section of the pool was sectioned off for those who are wanting to learn how to dive, there were always a half a dozen or more bubbling just below the surface. About ten metres from the pool you were on the beach, you could get free towels and snorkel gear for a voucher that was given to us at reception, it was very clean and easy to walk on and the loungers were well spaced out each one having its own wind break which also helped with your privacy. There were plenty of things for everyone to do in and out of the sea. You could clearly see the fish darting about just below the surface really sub tropics here.

                    You could ride on a camel or a horse up and down the beach, the water sports were always a popular choice and there were always someone somewhere bobbing about in the very crystal clear water. The live coral reef was sectioned off to stop it being damaged, wearing footwear of some kind would be advised in certain areas as it is very sharp under foot in the water. A beach bar was central to all and served up snacks and cold drinks without us having to trail back to the pool bar. Another hut on the beach was for you to hire pedelo's, snorkel gear, boat trips and arrange and pay for fishing trips. We payed up to go on a boat trip to Paradise Island on Christmas day and it turned out to be a dream day out that we all thoroughly enjoyed. From where we were on the beach we could see the whole of the complex and at one end we could see dozens of workmen very busy erecting a massive marquee that was to house all the Christmas festivities. Christmas was celebrated more on the twenty forth and we were invited to the pool area for cocktails before entering the brilliantly lit giant tent, we mingled, like you do with the Russians, French and others from all over Europe. Then after about three quarters of an hour we all filed in to what can only be described as a banquet set out for the Royals.

                    The tables were lavishly set out with our names on them, which we had booked previously in the week as we did for the wine and champagne, the tables were all set out for eight. Prices worked out to be £36 each excluding the drink. Both the longer sides of the marquee were lined with tables covered with hot, steaming and exotic looking food this had to be the biggest buffet that I had ever seen. They must of drafted in a whole regiment of waiters, all done up to the nines in their gleaming starched suites, because everywhere you looked one would pop into your line of sight and ask if they could help in some way. At the far end was the stage that they put on a nativity show and pop show and it went very well it was magnificent in fact the whole evening was the best we have ever had anywhere. We made lots of friends during our stay at the Sofitel and would definitely recommend a holiday to this hotel, especially over the Christmas period. There are plenty of excursions and trips to go on which can either be arranged by your tour operator or the hotel.

                    Sofitel Hurghada Red Sea,
                    Safaga road, km-12
                    0 Hurghada
                    Egypt
                    Tel: (+20)65/3464641
                    Fax:(+20)65/3464640
                    E-Mail: h1815@accor.com

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                      10.01.2006 23:05
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                      There are about sixty tombs uncovered not all of them are open at any one time.

                      During one of our holidays to Crocodile Island at Luxor in Egypt we signed up to go on a Nile Cruise with our tour operator, Thomson's. It was for four days and three nights and cost £330 all inclusive this included an outside cabin, (a window cabin), all meals some buffet some a la Carte, our own guide, (English speaking Egyptologist), all the trips and entrance charges to the temples and museums. We were as excited as we had not planned to do a cruise before we came to Egypt, but we were shown a short film and given all the details at our welcome rep meeting when we first arrived. They made the cruise sound so exotic and beautiful and yes they were right it was everything and more. We were advised on what we should wear and that we would need plenty of water as all the trips to the temples and museums would be at the hottest time of the day. Plenty of sun block for my wife and daughter and hats or caps for us all. I'm just thinking now how much has happened over the centuries up and down The Nile the mind wonders at the romance and history of it all, and we were a part of that history, nothing spectacular I know, but still a part. We were told to be up for five o'clock Tuesday morning ready to go on our journey, we had arranged with the hotel, The Movenpick Jolie Ville, to have three packed breakfasts to go and sure enough they were there at reception waiting for us.

                      There were only six of us altogether from our hotel so a mini bus was waiting outside for the start of our exciting adventure. The first step of our journey only took ten minutes when we arrived at the quayside where the Nile boat was tied up. It was called Nile Symphony and it looked very big for a river boat but very majestic and stylish. We only had one suitcase between the three of us and this was off loaded from the mini bus and taken straight away onboard by one on the boat hands. We quickly followed him up a very rickety and narrow gangplank to reception, exactly the same as a hotel reception but smaller, we signed in and we were given the key to our cabin. We were lead along the centre of the boat towards the aft end and halfway along the corridor we let in to the cabin. First impressions were that it looked a bit cramped, but then they had to put an extra single bed in for my daughter. It was clean, neat, tidy and well decorated and had a shower room with toilet which was immaculate and surprisingly spacious, and fitted wardrobes as well. A television in one corner, on top of a very small fridge, that we filled straight away with our bottles of water. The window was quite large with curtains and gave us a very good view at this time of the West bank. We unpacked quickly and ate our breakfasts while putting our cloths away so we could go and explore the boat, we went up the wide steps to the upper deck and made our way aft to where the main area of the deck was and where there were fifty or so seats and sun loungers set out in a very uniform manner.

                      Not many people about at this time as they were probably still unpacking, we did notice a swimming pool though, only small but a very welcome sight. We decided to sit for a while and take it all in and within thirty seconds a waiter came over and asked us if we wanted anything. This was the life I thought and we ordered one tea, one coffee and a fanta. Tips, ( baksheesh ),make up and add to a waiters wages, which are about £3 a week so we always work on a 10% of the bill this gives us peace of mind and the waiter normally gives you a better looking after if that's at all possible. The whole of the area that was the upper deck was under shade and that made it more comforting as there was no breeze at all. It was not long before the bell rang out telling us that lunch was served so we made our way to the dining area where there were at least twenty tables laid out beautifully with shining cutlery and sparkling glasses. We were shown to our table, which seated six of us, this being where we had to sit for the duration of the journey, the other three on the table were from Mansfield and we made good friends with them over the next few days. The food was brilliant and there was plenty of it and it was laid out buffet style this is what we preferred as we like bits and pieces of everything rather than a lot of one thing.

                      The waiters were always on the ball, maybe due to the fact that the head waiter kept whispering in each of their ears now and then, and were always asking if we wanted any more to drink. After our scrumptious lunch we headed back up top to lounge about for the afternoon and it was not long before we were casting off and moving to our first destination. This turned out to be about ten miles north of Luxor, and this is where we ended up staying overnight, our pace at this time was just so slow you could of swam faster. We were not the only boat that was heading in that direction there must have been another six or seven. The upper deck at this time was slowly getting more busy with some even trying out the pool and others snoring away their over indulgence of lunch. It seemed that the boat was only half full which meant better and quicker service if that's at all possible. Anyway we went back to the cabin and after forty winks, a shower and a change of clothes we were in time for dinner. Not as formal as we thought everyone was dressed smart with some looking a bit red in the face obviously not expecting to have caught as much of the sun as they did. This meal was more the la Carte type than the buffet and it again was superb. Drinks had to be signed for and were assigned to your cabin number and the bill had to be paid at the end of the trip, you could pay this bill buy credit card, Pounds Sterling, Euro's, Dollars or Egyptian Pounds.

                      We ended the evening in the bar where you could get all the usual drinks including bottled or draught lager, all the main spirits and all the usual soft drinks, tea and coffee could be had at anytime. Getting to sleep was easy after the hard day we had eating and drinking and sunning ourselves, oh and the gentle sway of the boat from the slow current of the Nile tied up alongside the jetty. The next morning we awoke early and were first to the buffet breakfast, this is when we were given the itinerary for the rest of the journey, and after that we had to meet in reception and we were put into our groups this is when we met our guide. He was an Egyptologist from Cairo and could speak better English than me, it took him no time at all to introduce himself and to tell us that he would not have too much time for stragglers so please stay together at all times and try to keep an eye on him up front waving his Indiana Jones style of hat aloft. He told we were off to the Valley of the Kings and Queens and promptly led us down to the awaiting coach that whisked us off to the valley. On entering the start of the Valley of the Kings there is not a lot to see as this was one reason why the Pharaohs picked this valley as security against robbers. We had to go from the coach on to a tractor road train with four open air carriages that took us the final half a mile to where the entire tourist would congregate a short walk away from the tomb entrances.

                      There are about sixty tombs uncovered not all of them are open at any one time as excavation work carries on all the time, some tombs are not very impressive and look the same as any other you can't just look in any or all of them because your ticket which was bought for us was for only five tombs, one of them being that of the boy king himself Tutankhamun. This was the only tomb found that was intact in 1922 by Egyptologist Howard Carter, another tomb that was recently discovered was the Tomb of the sons of Ramses ll this is still being excavated and has had 110 chambers found up to now and is the largest in the valley of the Kings. Please remember your water as the tombs don't have very good air supplies and are very stuffy with hundreds of hot sweaty people walking in and out daily. After here we were taken to the valley of the Queens, about fifteen minutes from the Kings, only a few tombs open here but still worth visiting. Over seventy Queens and Princesses are buried there, one famous queen was buried there and that is Queen Nefertari favourite wife of Ramses ll. Only one hundred and fifty visitors a day are allowed in this tomb as the humidity is damaging the wall paintings and murals.

                      On the way back we stopped at an Alabaster factory, in the town called Qurna, where there were dozens of children scattered around the place covered in fine white dust from head to toe all with hammers and chisels in their hands trying to form various statues and Pharaoh type busts from various sized lumps of marble like stone. In the shop it was stacked from floor to ceiling with all kinds of historical figures and animals, no prices though you are expected to haggle. After about an hour here it was back on the coach and back to the boat, in the shower, get changed and then back to the upper deck for a lounge and drink. A camera is a must because there was a photo opportunity every five minutes, like the train of donkey's with extremely large quantities of sugar cain on their backs, or the small mountains of the West bank with all the caves cut out deep in to the rock and the other boats that kept passing us and then us passing them and everyone waving back at each other in a very friendly manner. We were on the way to Esna that was situated on the west bank of the Nile and about forty miles south of Luxor. Here the temple is for the ram headed god called Khnum, the so called god of cataracts. Then it was off to Edfu approximately seventy miles south of Luxor on the west bank of the Nile.

                      The temple of Horus at Edfu is the most impressive of all that we seen especially the colossal stone Falcons that are sacred to Horus. The temple was only completed in 237 BC in the time of Cleopatra's father. Both the inner and outer gateways are lined with giant columns covered with inscriptions of the god in communion with the Pharaoh, this then leads into the inner sanctum of the falcon-headed god Horus. Back on the boat just in time for afternoon tea and biscuits and then a pint. It was not long before we were away again and we soon came to a giant lock which coupled up as a road bridge connecting the West and East banks. This did slow us down somewhat as we were bottled necked with about another ten or twelve boats, this was to the advantage of the locals who took to their boats and were whistling at us all to make a purchase of their towels, cuddly camels and Galabaya's. If you held out your hands they would, very trustingly, throw you their wares for you to examine and then the haggling would start. Once you agreed on a price you then had to screw up the right amount of money, no change given, in to a ball and drop it back to them. We then made our way south to our next town of interest called Kom Ombo, this is twenty five miles north from the end of our adventure at Aswan. Kom Ombo hosts the Temple of Sobek and Haroeris this was built in the 2nd century BC.

                      This was now our last night on board the boat, it was Thursday and we were all to dress up for our final dinner but this time it was on the Upper deck. While we were at the temple they had cleared the whole of the upper deck and put the table and chairs from the dining room in place of the loungers it was a great sight to be seen. Down the centre of the tables was a very long table where all the food was to be laid out. We knew about all this when we first got our itinerary which gave us ample time to plan and buy whatever we fancied dressing up like. They wanted us to dress traditionally Egyptian style and luckily there was a small shop onboard that catered for this, how handy was that then. All three of us picked Galabaya's as our attire for the evening one because they were cheap second because they were light cool and third because you could wear them over anything. Everyone that we could see were all very much enjoying themselves, they were all getting their photos taken by some of the waiters and the shop owner was going around taking pictures of everyone to sell the next day. There was plenty to eat and drink and it was of the highest quality. We all then ended up in the bar where we played games for hours, I got wrapped in toilet paper and looked like a mummy but we did not complete the game quick enough and got beat by a French couple who must have had better quality toilet paper than us, damn cheek.

                      Next morning we were off to see the great Aswan Dam, this dam stops all river traffic from going any further and holds back the largest of fresh water lakes in Egypt the 300 mile Lake Nasser. The high Dam is 3600 metres long and 111 metres high and contains enough concrete and stone that would be able to build twenty great Pyramids. It was built with help from Soviet Engineers and is about ten miles south of Aswan, there are at least forty towns and villages vanished beneath the waters of Nasser. With its banks very baron and virtually uninhabited it is in sharp contrast of the lush greenery and hundreds of miles of irrigation channels cut in the banks of the Nile like arteries flowing into veins and feeding the many fields of differing types of local produce of what we had seen along the very populated and industrious banks of the River Nile. The dam was awesome but not touristy it has some splendid views but with lots of industry around it. Security was tight for what reason I don't know why but you were allowed to take pictures but no videos. We were hurried back on to our air conditioned coach for our last stop off which was at a perfume and oil manufacturer. We were all ushered in and seated beneath a room full of fans and then given tea or coffee before being lectured about all the different oils and scents that was put together at this small factory.

                      They bragged that they could mimic all the great perfumes of the world and all the great names of the world were mentioned. They came round everyone painting a small sample on different parts of our arms and then asking us who they thought made this scent. It did go on for a while and it was good that they had all the fans as it would have been very hot. At the end of the lecture, by the so called Doctor of Perfume we were asked which perfume we wanted to buy at a fraction of the cost of high street prices, all major credit cards accepted, oh and cash. Back to the boat for the last time this is when we all said goodbye to our wonderful guide who looked after us all extremely well and guided us with distinction, he was well tipped by all and gave a short speech on how we were the best group he had led, yeah ok. Then we had our last lunch before joining our coach for the long four and a half hour journey back to Luxor. When we got on the coach we had to join a very long convoy of over fifty coaches, mini buses and cars that were travelling north to Luxor that had to be escorted by the army for security reasons, thing is we have always felt very secure and welcome in this country.

                      The whole experience has left us nearly speechless as we did not plan this excursion, sorry adventure, so that we would recommend this cruise to you all. For the price and what you got for your money as well as the experiences, entrance fees and friends that we made along the journey then this must have been a bargain. I would go again tomorrow because there were loads of things that we did not do, only because of time restrictions, the heat and that most of what we did was already mapped out for us as a group. Got back to Crocodile Island safe and sound, all in good time for the odd pint or two.
                      Some tour operators do weekly cruises:-
                      http://www.nilerivercruise.com
                      http://www.lastminute.com/site/travel/holidays/cruise
                      http://www.archersdirect.co.uk/nile_cruises.php

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                        06.01.2006 08:48
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                        If you want a quiet, peaceful and hot holiday then this is for you

                        Flying out from Gatwick at 10:45 am Wednesday 1st week of May 2005 with Britannia Airways, was my wife, daughter and myself. We booked the whole package 6 months previous through Portland Direct who are part of the Thomson holiday giants. We were off on a really excellent, exotic and truthfully unforgettable 14 day holiday to the 5 Star Jolie Ville Movenpick Hotel on Crocodile Island in Egypt. Situated on a private island, 4 km from Luxor surrounded by the beautiful and clear River Nile. Prices at Portland Direct for the same two weeks Bed and Breakfast in May 2006 are £389 per adult and £327 for first child. Movenpick was founded in 1948 and employs 13,600 people around the world, it is a Swiss Hotel chain with 53 hotels in nineteen countries. The one we are going to was built in the early eighties.

                        The flight was on time and we landed 4hrs 45mins later at Luxor International Airport, as we left the plane that's when we knew we were in sub tropics the heat was in the eighties and it was 6:30pm , we were then promptly hurried from the transfer coach in to the passport control area where we had to queue for a short time at the visa kiosk. They cost us £10 each and the stamps were stuck in our passports and then stamped by one of the officers at passport control, you can get your visa well in advance from the Egyptian Consulate in London website :-http://www.egyptianconsulate.co.uk/visas.html but the cost will be £15 each, we then made our way to the luggage reclaim carousel this took about 15 minutes until our cases arrived. Be careful here because there are a number of Egyptians that try to grab your bags and cases before you have a chance to pick them up yourself, if you insist that you can manage them yourself that's when they hold their hand out for a tip.

                        Transfer times would normally be 25 minutes to the Island which is 15km away but we had to drop off others at 5 different Hotels around and in Luxor so we arrived 1hr 10 minutes later. While driving through Luxor you can spot quite a few Police and Army sentry points strategically placed and scattered all around the city quite comforting really as they are there mainly for us tourists. After dropping off all but seven of us we headed 4 km out of the city towards Crocodile Island we turned right from the main road and stopped at a checkpoint and within seconds we were away again. We had to cross a very narrow bridge, that was just wide enough for the coach, that took us onto the Island. The Hotel is set in 24 acres of lush green gardens where they grow their own fruit and salad produce. At the entrance to the hotel our cases were left for the staff to put our bungalow numbers on and we had to go through a security check, like the ones at all airports, at reception you are greeted with a very warm welcome and a very cold drink.

                        We were given maps, of the Island which showed you all you needed to know and to where our bungalow was situated. There are 332 rooms altogether with 21 bungalows, each one designated with a letter of the alphabet, with 16 rooms per bungalow and all on floor level no steps at all. Our room was P14, we found with ease following the shaded walkways that spread out in all directions to all the bungalows, was definitely one of the best positions to have as it faced the River Nile and the West bank with beautifully kept gardens and trees just in front of our terrace. It was so peaceful with the Herons coming in to land in the trees along the Nile and the lizards scurrying about at our feet around the bushes, oh heaven.

                        All rooms are air-conditioned, very clean and brightly decorated with a bathroom with bath/shower and tiled throughout. We had two single beds, which we promptly pushed together, and our daughter Rebekah had a fold down bed that she said was very comfortable.
                        Rooms have:-
                        Air conditioning
                        Bath/shower
                        Colour Satellite TV
                        Direct dial phone
                        Electrical adapters
                        Full size mirror
                        Built in wardrobe
                        Laundry service
                        Hair dryer
                        Iron board
                        Modem data port
                        Radio
                        Mini fridge (with two large bottles of water)
                        Safe

                        Leaving the air-con on full 24 hours a day helped keep away the dreaded Mosquito's, they don't like the cold, and we don't like them. We did use mosi spray on an evening especially being that close to the Nile and we needed it because we had the odd meal at the terrace restaurant this was well lit and attracted lots of them, luckily we were spared thanks to the spray. If you are buying mosi spray get the one that has Deet in it because this seems the most effective. Off to the bar now.

                        The newly built Crocodile bar is next to the reception area and the Jolie ville restaurant, it has plush seats with tables and is very relaxing with the local Egyptian solo artist crooning out an Elton John number only noticeable because of the background music. They sell local beer, Sakara and Stella bottle beers and all the usual spirits and soft drinks. You could have a wide selection of bar meals, cakes, ice creams, (a speciality), tea and coffee from 11:00am onwards to 01:00am. The exchange rate is £10 = LE100 Egyptian pounds, and a bottle of Stella costs £2.30p the average price of a meal for three with drinks was £30, the average price for a bottle of local wine is £11. The waiters are always on the go and are very friendly they look after your every needs. Tips are expected and go towards their very low wages which are about £3 per week, we tipped at about 10% of the bill which we thought was fair. We took Egyptian pounds with us and had no problems with that in fact it made life easier because most prices are in Egyptian pounds, they do have an ATM in reception if you ran out of cash.

                        The main restaurant called The Jolie Ville is the main place to go and eat for your breakfast, lunch and dinner and has no smoking sections. Breakfast is buffet style with everything placed out for you with waiters running back and forth with tea and coffee pots filling everyone's cups as soon as they emptied. If you did not like their American type coffee you could ask for Nescafe and it was brought to you with a pot of boiling water. You had to toast your own bread but you could ask the chef for an omelette, with all different fillings, or a couple of fried eggs easy over. Lunch, buffet style, could be taken in this restaurant or the Crocodile Bar or on the Shehrezade Terrace right on the bank of the Nile some even ate light snacks around the pool. Dinner was in the Jolie Ville Restaurant or on the Shehrezade terrace and again it was buffet style but with different themed nights, one night American next night Egyptian another night Mediterranean and so on, the food was really beautiful. You could also have a meal in the Movenpick a la Carte Restaurant, offering international gourmet meals and the famous Moevenpick Swiss specialties.

                        The average temperature during the night is 75 degrees F 24 degrees C and daytime temperatures are around 100 degrees F thats about 39 degrees C so you can't fail to get a tan unless you go at it too fast. Having the right cream is a must as well as wearing the right clothes, staying in the shade most of the time is what I did and I got a lovely tan. Around one of the two pools on most days was where we stayed from around ten in the morning until 2pm. That was definitely enough but you need to keep having to go in the pool every twenty minutes to cool off. This pool was never packed even though it is situated next to the main hotel, sun loungers are easy to find and towels are all free for each person. The pool has a children's shallow end and the deep end is approximately 2.1 metres deep. The other pool is a short walk away past the small zoo that houses a small 12-15 foot crocodile and various birds of paradise, donkeys, monkeys and peacocks. This 2nd pool is an infinity pool with the edge facing and seemingly falling into the River Nile. It has waterfalls and water massage jets and is set on a sandy beach. Most families use this pool as the kids love it.

                        There are walks and a jogging track, you will find the routes on the maps you received at reception, there is boating, fishing, 4 tennis courts, bikes, play ground area, billiards, recreational sports court, health club and child activities. Some of these are at additional charges. There is an 18 hole championship golf course nearby this also is an extra charge. If you wanted to go in to Luxor, and eat at the other 4 and 5 star hotels like many did, then you could either use the free hotel shuttle bus leaving on the hour every hour, or you could get a taxi that costs around £2. We used a taxi but came back on a Felucca, a sail boat with a two man crew costing a mere £3.50 + a baksheesh, (a tip). You could hire these boats for the day or just for half an hour. Trips and guides also can be organised through the tour operators or through the hotel itself, which is a lot cheaper, and you could go and see the tombs of the boy king, Tutankamun, Ramesses the Great and Hatshepsut the female pharaoh and many others at The valley of the Kings and The valley of the Queens. These two valleys are on the West bank. Luxor was built on the 4000 year old ruins of Thebes and Karnak temple is the largest temple complex in the world. There is Luxor museum which is the next biggest after the Egyptian Antiquities Museum in Cairo.

                        Every week they have an entertaining evening at the so called Fellah's tent, where for £28 per head you are given the traditional robe called a galabaya in different bright colours and sent out on a Felucca for half an hours sailing to watch the sunset, oh and to work up an appetite. You then land at the bottom end of the Island and after a short walk you arrive at what can only be described as a really large bedouin tent. You are taken to your table and are given wine beer and soft drinks for the rest of the evening. You then get a chance to participate in the odd dance or two, then they put on a snake charming act, then there is singing and dancing and folklore shows after that the buffet starts. What a treat, it was brilliant and plenty of it, we were up two or three times and by the end of it all fully satisfied with the whole joyous evening.

                        If you want a quiet, peaceful and hot holiday then this is for you, no drunks no loud music but plenty of friendly people all wanting the same from their holiday. We enjoyed the whole experience this being our second time on the Island, I would recommend this holiday to all. There are lots more trips for instance to Cairo , to see the Pyramids, or you could go to the Red Sea resorts. One trip you will enjoy is The Nile Cruise from Luxor to Aswan for 3 nights which you can book at the hotel or with your tour operator. All the best.

                        Jolie Ville Movenpick Hotel at Luxor Telephone number : +20 952 374855
                        Pre-Travel safety advice: http://www.fco.gov.uk/
                        Telephone number: 020 7008 0232
                        A good travel pack book with fold-out map included called Globetrotter Egypt by Robin Gauldie price £7.19 at Amazon.co.uk ISBN 1843303175

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                        • Arrow Express / Transport / 22 Readings / 111 Ratings
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                          23.05.2001 21:46
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                          In general White Arrow Express are a lot faster, they take more care, and are a lot more professional at what they do than any other parcel delivery company that we are all familiar with. What I do know is that If you order by phone, an item from your catalogue, and it is in stock then I can say for sure you will get it the next day. Well you would if you lived anywhere on my wife's round. My wife, Karen, has been a self employed courier for several years with a number of well known parcel delivery firms, and has been with White Arrow Express for two years. She has a very large sector to cover which averages 60 parcels daily. She gets her parcels delivered every morning at about 9.00am, then she needs to check through them for any missing which have to be reported back to her courier manager. She then loads up the car and has a 12 mile trip to get to her area. This is unusual as most couriers have their own sector where they live, but where we live the couriers working here have been here for years, so Karen had to push for the one she has now. The amount she is paid is 10p more per parcel than if she had a local round so for a normal parcel that can be delivered anytime over two days it is 40p which is the same for a collection (an unwanted item being returned to the catalogue). Each day there are about three or four which are classed as 'Time Critical' and these have to be delivered the day Karen gets them and are worth 50p each, these are what customers have paid £2.95 to get next day delivery. Only about 50% of all her parcels are from the catalogue companies, which are Great Universal, Kays, Choice and Marshall Ward, the first three of these catalogues being almost identical and all belonging to GUS (Great universal). Other companies and third party clients using White Arrow Express are World Books, Readers Digest, Readers Union, Innovations, QVC, Blooming Marvellous and many many more. Argos is another which is now owned
                          by GUS (Great Universal). White Arrow Express (WAE) established in 1947, are part of the Great Universal Stores plc and are the largest independent home delivery company in the UK. and have 39 delivery depots (all with computerised parcel tracking) placed all around the UK with three main sorting depots. They are capable of sorting 10,000 parcels per hour or 110 million parcels a year. They have a fleet 2500 vehicles of which 1200 are Transit vans and they have over 4000 couriers delivering and collecting nationwide to about 80% of all UK households. My wife is an extremely nice, kind and well mannered person, which is why I find it very hard to understand the way some people treat her. They are very rude and aggressive and are certainly a very bad example to our younger generation. I'm talking about only a minority of her clients that find it hard to grasp that she does not know what any one has ordered or what size, colour or even if they have included the free gift. Being confronted by 'fag ash lill', at number 42, interrogating my wife as to whether or not the parcel contained her Bert's size 56" indigo trousers. Then there was an angry woman that had been on night shift that Karen had woken up at eleven in the morning to deliver her the latest editor's pick from readers digest. "I'm on night shift you stupid cow", she said, "you could of just left it at the side of the step and put a card through my door" as she snatched it from my wife's hand. A lot of the problems that people have with whatever company they are getting there parcels from and delivered through WAE are sometimes directed wrongly at WAE and or the courier. The catalogue person that takes the order have a very bad habit of assuring customers that they will get their order the next day, or they tell them that WAE will deliver before a certain time. The worst case is when they tell their customer, that works till 5.00
                          pm ev ery d ay, that your local courier will come to pick up your return after 6.00pm, this is so frustrating for Karen. Most of the parcels have our phone number on them and the ideal way of getting a return picked up is by phoning and leaving there address, and if they are not going to be in where the parcel will be left. It will be picked up the next day. Some still phone and just leave their phone number and ask if we can phone back to arrange a pick up but she is not allowed to as she is not paid for phone calls,. If anyone reading this wants to be their own boss, self employed with flexible hours and has a car and an answering machine then why not consider giving them a ring. No need to worry if there are no vacancies at the present you could still put your name on the waiting list or you could be lucky enough to be contacted by AWE to do some cover work for anybody sick or on holiday. The recruitment line is 0541 515609 and just tell them your post code and they can tell you there and then if they have a vacancy or not, good luck. Despite all the negative things I've mentioned above on the whole AWE are a good firm to work for and will continue to expand in my opinion because of all the extra work being generated by on-line shopping. If there you need any further information on White Arrow Express then you can contact them on one of the following ways: Tel : 01204 382323 Fax : 01204 383808 Post : White Arrow Express, Thinner Street, Bolton BAL TAX Or fill in the on-line form at: www.white.com/index.him www.kaysnet.com www.argos.co.uk www.choiceshopping.com www.gus.co.uk

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                          • keen.co.uk / Internet Site / 36 Readings / 157 Ratings
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                            21.03.2001 23:14
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                            Get paid for your best advice and feel as good as I do knowing that I have just helped someone. There are lots of you here writing about a specialist subject that we all can benefit from for free. How would you feel if you could get a few quid for giving the same advice to others that request that information? If you do have a vast knowledge of a topic, item or subject, and you feel that you can give expert advice on it then you will be happy to know that this is possible. Just think by giving advice to others you can earn yourself £6.47 in ten minutes. At www.keen.co.uk you can add yourself to their directory of people who can give answers or advice to others who are asking on the telephone. For example, if I wanted some advice on 'diet' then I could enter 'diet' into the search engine on their home page or, look through the various categories and topics listed on the home page. You will then be taken to a list of available advisors. I think maybe at this stage I will need to describe to you how it all works.There are three options that people use to gain the answers to the questions that they have. First is live answers which is obviously talking one to one with an advisor on the phone. Second is e-mail and third is the recorded answers. You can list yourself in the directory as to how you would like the consumer to connect to you under one or all of the above options. If someone clicks on your live call button then they make the call through keen.co.uk to you thus keeping both phone numbers personal. At www.keen.co.uk you can get advice on business, entertainment and arts to money and careers or even shopping, travel and romance. Whatever the topic you choose to give advice on you will need to set out a short description, for example, 'diet' are you giving advice on nutrition, carbohydrates or are you a children's dietician? maybe you have advice on a weight loss programme. Your next job is to set a
                            per minute fee. For this you will need to set your price per minute higher than that of the set minimum fee. This is 20p for the live advice and 50p for the recorded advice. There is a standard connection fee of 5p, then there is the charge that keen deduct which is 30% + (VAT) this is for live calls. So if you want to charge say £1.05p per minute and you get a 10 minute call, keen will then collect £10.50 from the caller and deduct 50p, this is the standard connection fee of 5p x 10 minute call. Keen will then deduct their 30% + vat = £3.53 leaving you with a total fee of £6.47. The big question is how much can you make, this will depend on how many listings you may have set up. You are allowed to have as many listings as you want but it does also depend on how well you market yourself, how interesting you make your listings (topics) and how you set your availability to receive calls. They do provide help pages that give you tips on how to create great listings, and on how to market yourself. Getting paid is simple, all your earnings go straight into your keen.co.uk account and cheques are sent out monthly as long as you have in your account a minimum of £15. Another great way of earning some money would be to refer a friend. You can refer as many friends as you like but remember to make sure that they join using their 'tell a friend' programme, this will send your friend a link in an e-mail. When your friend makes or takes two successful calls, after joining using the link, then you will then receive a £5 referral bonus. Plus, the friend that you refer gets £5 in their account. They have done as much as they possibly can to help you market yourself by offering advice and by way of a link that you can add to your e-mail and homepage. They also provide you with your own topic homepage that you can customise, maybe by adding a message or photo, or you might want to alter the price per minute, you can place small symbols which will
                            tell everyone that you can give 'live advice' or 'recorded advice' or 'mail', an option to add a 'busy' symbol also is provided. Your url would be : "http://www.Keen/YourMemberName". They have a simple but effective rating system which is based on quality, reliability and service that is given. The rating achieved for each listing/topic you have will then be displayed for all to see and will move up or down the scale after each call. So for each of your missed calls you will get a minus reading of two points, this then determines how your topic is displayed on the site. The higher the rating is the more of a prominent position on the site your topic will be placed. All topics are displayed as 'new' for the first two weeks, and people will rate your topic each and every time they call. The 'My Customers' page helps you manage, sort, and arrange your list of customers, it will allow you to assign different action buttons. You can even block out certain customers. A new section on keen is their 'My Groups' feature that lets you create a group. As a group manager you could build up a business based around a certain topic and have several keenspeakers who also share your expertise. You will earn an administration fee which will be a share of the revenue generated by your groups topic. As a group manager the use of plain text and HTML will be made available to help you build up your group homepage. At www.keen.co.uk you will be pleasantly surprised at the ease of use, the speed and the quality of the site. The potential for making some extra pocket money by helping others is huge.

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                              10.03.2001 00:05
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                              I can only dream of how it would feel to watch a comedy sitcom, on the television, that I have written. A good idea that has been with me for many a year that I have always thought would come to fruition, a new and very refreshing comedy that deals with real everyday life, that would be so different to what we have to put up with day in and day out, material that is out dated, not funny or even just plain old junk. We have all probably got a story to tell, but could we all write about it? and can we make it funny? but most of all can we write it as a script for Television or Radio? Well the BBC online website has a very good place to visit that will help you do all of this. It is very aptly called The Writers'Room and this excellent site can be found at: www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom. Once there you will find everything you wanted to know on how to get started, lessons on how to write your scripts for television or radio, and in the Writers' Guidelines section you will find the FAQ, (frequently asked questions) and here they have dozens of answers to most of the questions that you have always been asking about. There are no qualifications needed, but they have listed the obvious essential qualities that every aspiring comedy sitcom scriptwriter should have. I might be a very funny person who can see the comical and humorous sides of everyday life, but having no writing skills to go with this talent would render all my hopes of getting a script read never mind about getting it accepted as nil. It is not as easy as sitting down and writing lots of those one liners even if it is new and original material. Another art is by being visually funny, a very good example of this would be one of my all time favourite moments in that now old but excellent comedy sitcom called 'Only Fools and Horses'. It all happened in a yuppy wine bar where Del Boy and Trigger were trying, without any success I might add, to impress a couple of ladies. m
                              eanwhile, the barman had lifted up the bar flap so he could go and collect some glasses, Del had not noticed this when he had leaned to his right, whilst still looking at the ladies, to rest his weight back on the bar and thus stiffly falling through the gap disappearing out of sight still with drink in his hand. The above example did not come over as funny, it was not written in a funny way and did not have any jokes in it, but if you had seen it as it had happened you also would have thought it to be rib splitting. There are, as always, some very basic rules that should be followed and one main rule is that they, by they I mean the Comedy Script Unit, will only read work from new writers and who only just write half-hour situation comedies. The Comedy Script Unit are only looking for thirty minute scripts that have five more follow up episodes, they need to be funny and they certainly need to be fresh. Originality is an obvious must, so try not to be influenced by any show that is already popular on television at the moment. Most of the sitcoms are recorded in front of a live audience so as to have real laughter as the actors are doing their bit, that is why most if not all of your scenes need to be filmed indoors. All your scripts need to be in the region of about fifty pages long and they should be typed on A4, remember to include a CV and also a covering letter telling them a little bit about yourself with a brief description of the sitcom you are submitting. The Comedy Script Unit do say that they read every single one of the estimated 2000 scripts they receive each year. On average it will take them about eight weeks to get back in touch with you, it might even be longer than that if they think it deserves a second read. Be very prepared for disappointment and a lot of objective criticism it can only serve to help you become a better writer. Send all your TV scripts to:- Comedy Script Unit, BBC
                              Telev ision Centre, Room 4088, Wood Lane London W12 7RJ Also in the Writers' Guidelines section is lots of tips and ideas that will help you, such as a Sitcom Checklist, Practicalities, Originality, How to submit your script, How to get started and plenty more. This is where they tell you what happens when the Script Executive likes you as a writer or your script. While at this site it would be a good idea if you checked out the message boards. You will pick up loads and loads of ideas from many people with and without experience in writing comedy. The message boards can take you all over the BBC to say Holby City and Casualty, Red Nose Day or even Eastenders There is a Masterclass that gives you advice from an already established writer, at present it is Simon Nye, who wrote 'Men Behaving Badly'. They have provided Script Templates to help you through the different layouts, these are in PDF format so if you have not got Adobe Acrobat to read them don't worry because they have a link for you to download it. You may want to start off your career by writing for Light Entertainment Radio. Writing for radio is where they suggest you start, not a lot of visual humour needed here, but you must remember that it needs a completely different approach to that of writing for television. For example Radios 2 and 4 have an average audience age of 52. Send all your Radio scripts to:- BBC Light Entertainment Radio, Room 5411, Broadcasting House, Portland Place, London W1A 1AA You can send short stories to:- The Readings Unit, Room 6053, BBC Broadcasting House, London W1A 1AA If you want free tickets for any of the TV or Radio shows, then just write to:- BBC Audience Services, PO Box 3000, London W12 7Rj For TV shows e-mail:- tv.ticket.unit@bbc.co.uk For Radio shows e-mail:- radio.ticket.unit@bbc.co
                              .uk < br>Telephone:-020 8576 1227 or visit www.bbc.co.uk/tickets Free tickets To TV and radio show http://www.chortle.co.uk/features/free.html Free Tickets for BBC TV and Radio shows http://www.bbc.co.uk/whatson/tickets/ All the best tickets for all the best on TV http://www.tvrecordings.com/

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                              • briefme.com / Internet Site / 10 Readings / 94 Ratings
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                                28.02.2001 20:19
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                                Most of us have seen and read one of those web-based magazines, e-zines or e-magazines, that you subscribe to and are sent on a predetermined schedule and delivered to you by email. The Briefme e-magazine will have about 6 to 10 reviews that have been written on a topic by several different editors. Those 6 to 10 articles would have been selected by the editorial staff from all that were submitted about a given topic and then put together as a e-magazine and then sent off to each subscriber. If there is a topic that has not been included in their list then you can e-mail them to suggest the topic:- info@briefme.com. If you are just joining and are worried that you have missed some important issues don't worry because they have an archives section where you can search out past Briefme issues. You can earn $5 for each of your reviews that is accepted and published. If you think you can write reviews of websites, write articles about arts and crafts or if you specialize in writing about food and drink, music or even law and legal issues? and you would like to be paid for your expertise then sign up with briefme.com and become a contributing editor. Good all round knowledge of a topic, writing ability and being committed to the art of good journalism are what is required to become a Briefme editor. They have over 2 million subscriptions with 1100 editors contributing articles and reviews on over 80 different topics. Briefme editors mainly review new sites but still find that some of the older sites tend to keep refreshing their content which some editors will want to keep updating for those that are interested. Each article or site review contained in each e-zine will only be as long as a paragraph hence the name Briefme. This being another requirement to being chosen as an editor, that is can you write your review or article, condense it down to about 75-100 words so that it is packed with as much information as possible but still be readable. <
                                br>< br> Can you imagine the feeling you would get from having all those thousands of subscribers to Briefme reading each and every edition of the topic you write about. Why not find out what it is like? They will also let you increase traffic to your own website by including a free link at the bottom of every review that you write and get published. Make sure that you provide your URL when you are applying and that your website is related to the topic on which you are going to write about. No need to worry if you don't have a web address because Briefme will provide a free bio page, where you can list all your favourite articles and reviews, then in all your articles that are published a link, as well as your name, to your bio page will be automatically inserted for all to see. You will get paid quarterly by cheque, Briefme editorial staff may edit your submission if it is on the long side. They prefer it to be no longer than 175 words. They also think that you should just stick to one topic, and if your topic is new to their list then you may have to wait for a few weeks before that article is published as they want at least three editors for that topic before they launch. Copyright remains with you but, under the editor terms, you give Briefme.com the right to publish your work in any form. They pay $0.25 for each subscriber you find them and $.05 on a subscriber from an affiliate referred. So if you enjoy surfing and find you have a flair of writing on some, or all the new sites you come across, and you believe that the content of your reviews are what others would like to learn from, then fill out the form and get evaluated. Good Luck! Mailing address: BRIEFME.COM, Inc. 352 Seventh Ave, Third Floor New York, NY 10001 Press Contacts: Allison Conner, Editor in Chief eic@briefme.com ©yampy

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                                  26.02.2001 20:14
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                                  You will donate by reading this opinion, so thankyou in advance. All my dooyoo miles from this op will go to this charity. I enter dozens of competitions a week and one question that I am regularly asked is do you support a charity? if so which one? my answer to this has always had something to do with children and any charity that involves children, the main one for me is always the NCH. I spent ten very sad years of my life in several children's homes so any charity that proclaims to improve and protect the life of a child gets my vote. NCH was founded in 1869 by a Methodist Minister as a children's home that would give a safe refuge for any homeless children. Over a hundred and thirty years of support for thousands of children and their families. Family breakdown is one of the major causes of concern for the NCH, but by family breakdown I don't mean a split up of the family due to the lack of love or abuse, quite the opposite really, it is caused from the pressure on some young children who have been put in a position as a carer. Not only have these children to worry about going to school they also have the added worry of having to care for a sick or a disabled parent. Their homework everyday is their housework which is cleaning, cooking, fetching and carrying. The stress and strain that these children have on their shoulders from trying to keep their family together is something that the NCH are well aware of and have the young carers projects set up to show these children that they are not alone and forgotten. These projects are set up to let these children know that there is support for them from others that have been or still are in the same situation. They find hundreds of children foster families each year, and they are registered as an adoption agency. Over the last ten years NCH has helped improve the professional understanding of sexual abuse, and have funded centres that offer support to
                                  the sexually abused children. They have a children's rights service, for those children in care, that helps them to speak out about anything that effects their lives. In 1960 my three sisters and me were put into a home, we were all kept together only until another more suitable placing could be found. Why? I still don't know but after a couple of weeks my two younger sisters were taken to live with a Methodist Minister and my oldest sister was taken in by a local girls home. This in turn meant that not only had they split us up but they had cut us off from all our friends from where we lived and from our schools too. What I am getting at is that then, in those days, keeping the family together was not as important as it is today. NCH provide smaller and more specialized residential homes. They provide places for children with severe learning difficulties and physical disabilities and can offer a great deal more by way of specialist therapy and medical support. For my sisters and me, well it was five more years before we were all back together. The NCH is involved with many projects and campaigns which include homelessness, youth crime, children's education, child poverty, social exclusion and many many more. They do work in partnership with other agencies, organizations, trusts and local authorities and have at times been asked to advise government. Giving support to the NCH is easy and can be done in several different ways, giving money would be a good start and it can be done on-line, or you could get one of their collection boxes, you could even arrange to leave some in your will. They rely on voluntary support and need in excess of £20 million every year.They are very proud to boast that for every £1 given 90p is spent directly on children. Another way to help is by volunteering in one of their hundreds of projects, such as organizing house and street collections, fundraising or volunteering to work
                                  in one of the many shops they have. Supporter Helpline is 0845 762 6579 open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm. Or you can write to:- NCH ND9111/1, Supporter Care/RG, 85 Highbury Park, London N5 1UD Tel :-020 7704 7000 Fax :-020 7226 2537 NCH Cymru, St Davids Court, 68a Cowbridge Rd, East Cardiff CF11 9DN Tel :-029 2022 2127 Fax :-029 2922 9952 NCH Scotland, 17 Newton Place, Glasgow G3 7PY Tel :-014 1332 4041 Fax :-014 1332 7002 Cedric the Dragon is NCH's lovable mascot and is used in youth fundraising projects in Primary Schools.Just go to:- http://www.scuf.co.uk/

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