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since 30/11/-0001


BP Byron Filling Station, London 03/02/2007

Wow a review on a petrol station

BP Byron Filling Station, London I saw this as a review and seeing as I regularly top up at thsi particular station, I thought Id let you all know about it.. although I have to admit Filling Stations dont spark much much interest! This BP branded garage is situated on the infamous North Circular Road (A406), and can only be accessed when travelling eastbound. It is about 1 mile past the East Finchley turning. It is easy to see and so you shouldnt past it by mistake. That said, this is one of the few places on the A406 where there isnt too much traffic so you could whizz past it if you are speeding (would serve you right!) It is clean and large, and has the full range of unleaded, LPG and diesel fules. It can get busy, but I dont usually have to queue for more that 5 mins. One of the better things about this garage is that it has a 'BP connect shop, which provides a wider selection of instore products such as snacks and coffee. It has a branch of the Wild Bean Cafe which is exlcusively found in BP garages. They have a pretty decent range of coffee, cakes (including some great danish's!), sandwiches and salads (the salads arent nice) They accept all the regular credit cards, and they participte int he Nectar loyalty scheme! Best of all, its open 24h. If you want convienience, this is a useful petrol station, but if you want a good bargain, there is a Tesco filling station (Colney Hatch Lane), which is very close and easily accessible from the same stretch of North Circular as well. ...

TalkTalk 04/11/2006

A balanced review on TalkTalk?

TalkTalk I have read so many Ciao rants about TalkTalk that I felt I had to write a balanced review, so that people can make a more informed choice. I hope this helps! My experience with TalkTalk --------------- --------------- --------------- ------- I have been with TalkTalk for over 2 years. I was initially with their talk 1 scheme (a cheap calling plan, see below for more info). In September 2006 I switched to their Talk 3 plan, which includes line rental from them as opposed to BT, and free Broadband. I was previously with BT for my line rental, and Tiscali for my broadband. With 24 months of experience with TalkTalk, and having recently taken up their infamous Broadband offer, hope I can give a rant free review! It's cheap to TalkTalk --------------- --------------- ----- I am sure you know from watching Big Brother, but TalkTalk is the 'landline' branch of the Carphone Warehouse. They offer a range of call packages, and can also provide your line rental (instead of getting it through BT). TalkTalk has been around in its current from since 2004. TalkTalk has become quite high profile since offering free Broadband with some of its call plans. They have a longstanding £1000 challenge, whereby they will offer you £1000 if you switch to them from BT and find that the switch doesn't save you money (of course there is a whole plethora of small print associated with this offer!) Line rental from TalkTalk --------------- --------------- ------------ This works in ...

Nokia 1100 20/10/2006

What a relief, it is just a phone!

Nokia 1100 After my last phone came to a premature wet end (you really don't want to know what happened) I still had another six months before I was able to upgrade. Instead of opting to shell out loadsa money for a flash new phone, I bit the bullet and bought a Nokia 1100, after seeing it for sale for £18 on Amazon. Bargain! Yes it is just a phone! --------------- --------------- ---- The 1100 is erm.. a phone. That's it. No built in organisers, no bluetooth or MP3, not even a camera! It does make and receives call and text messages though! But despite its basic options, I have grown to love it. The look --------------- ------ The phone is small and light, weighing 86g and measuring 106x46x20 mm, in a 'candy bar' style (as opposed to a flip or clam phone). It comes in several bright colours (red yellow, green, dark blue, cyan, purple) and black, which I opted for. It looks basic, but a surprising amount of people have commented on how nice it looks! I was slightly embarrassed to tell them that it really is a bottom of the range phone. However, it looks more decent than many other cheap phones on the market. The screen --------------- ------ The screen is rubbish, but its all you really need! It is an old monotone - it lights up when in use, and has a tacky green hue to it. However, the display is clear and provides all the information you really need. The menus have basic block-pixel pictures, and you certainly will not be able to view pictures sent to your ...

Night Nurse Capsules 08/10/2006

Get better quicker!

Night Nurse Capsules Fortunately, I haven't been unwell for a while, but I am a big fan of this product, and always ensure I have some at the back of my medication drawer. Night nurse is a fantastic medication to take if you are unfortunate enough to be hit by the lurgies. WHAT IS IT FOR? I personally only use it when I have a bad cold (also known as a flu-like illness, or man-flu to most women!) The box claims that it is useful for the relief of tickly cough, shivers, aches and pains, runny nose, sore throat pain and headache. It probably works for all of the above other than the cough as there isn't much evidence for medications helping with cough. HOW DOES IT WORK? It delivers a three-pronged attack against your symptoms, each delivered by one of the three 'active ingredients' (i.e. the ingredients in the pill which affect the body). Paracetamol - The old favourite, Paracetamol gets rid of all the aches and pains, high temperatures and that heavy feeling you get in your head when you have a bad cold. The dose in Night Nurse is the same as taking two of the usual Paracetamol tablets. Promethazine - This is essentially a sedating antihistamine. It is included to make you feel drowsy and therefore promote a good nights sleep. I feel that the worst problem with having a flu like illness is that it is often hard to get to sleep, and I am sure that lack of sleep makes the whole situation a heck of a lot worse! Dextromethorphan - This is a cough suppressant. This is ...

Specsavers Opticians (Shop) 24/09/2006

I look cool again!

Specsavers Opticians (Shop) OOPS... I STOOD ON MY GLASSES! --------------- --------------- --------------- ------------ After standing on my glasses a few weeks ago I finally had the excuse to trash my dated old pair for a new pair... or 2 pairs as it turned out! I usually wear contact lenses and had been putting off buying a new pair of specs as they are just so expensive. To put this into context, about a year ago, I went to my local, friendly optician who I have used for years and was quoted £280 for a pair of specs! I admit they were made by DKNY, but still, I thought it was a lot! So I kept on with my old glasses until I drunkenly stood on them. I was initially worried that I was going to have to shell out a huge wad to become spectacled again. But one of my mates suggested Specsavers. I had always assumed it was a cheap and nasty store but I was quite wrong... Standing on my glasses was a blessing in disguise, I now look trendy again and I found Specsavers! SO WHAT DO THEY OFFER?? --------------- --------------- --------------- ----- To be simplistic, Specsavers basically an optician with a large shop attached. They offer - - the usual range of sight tests, including free NHS tests for those who qualify. Sometimes you can just turn up without an appointment. - a huge range of glasses - contact lens fitting / supplies - lensed goggles! - digital hearing aids (randomly!) - but you have to go to one of their special 'hear care' branches for this. WHY USE ...

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah 24/09/2006

The weirdest landscape on Earth?

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah What? ------------- Bryce Canyon, in the heart of Mormon Utah, USA, has to be one of the most amazing geological oddities on our planet. It forms a one of the many USA National Parks and is a fantastic destination if you are interested in hiking, geology or even driving holidays. From the plateau at the top of the canyon you can see a panaramic view stretching over 200 miles!! Bryce? -------------- The canyon is named after Ebeneezer Bryce, a Mormon who settled in the canyon in 1870. On finding this huge canyon he stated, as only an American could "It's a helluva place to lose a cow!" And he is quite right You wouldnt have a hope in hell of finding it! Mr Bryce set about settling the land and brought roads and water to the area. However, it is still a remote sparsely populated area. Canyon? --------------- - Erm no, not really. Its not a true geological canyon, instead it is a gigantic eroded escarpment of the 'Paunsaugunt Plateau'. Whilst the Grand Canyon (a few hundred miles south) is just an almighty crack in the Arizona desert, this is a larger hole with lots of decorative geology. Its scale, beauty and relative quiet compared to the Grand Canyon makes it infinately better. Where? -------------- Bryce is extremely remote. It is set in the middle of Utah - in other words, not really near anywhere else!! Utah is a massive state which, other than Salt Lake City up north and a few mormon towns, doesnt have many other large connerbations. Hovever, ...

The Blue Lagoon, Iceland 02/09/2006

Warm spa waters in icy iceland

The Blue Lagoon, Iceland I have just come back from a fantastic trip during which we spent some of our time in Iceland. One of the highlights of the trip was the obilgatory dip at the warm therapeutic waters of the Blue Lagoon, probably Iceland's most famous and most visited tourist stop. IN A NUTSHELL The blue lagoon is actually an artificial lake, formed by the outflow of a local geothermal power station. Yes, I agree it sounds unappealing, but it is fantastic! It is set around the beautiful black rocks of an old lava flow and forms a large irregular shaped pond, with lots of nooks and crannies to explore. The water is hot (around 40 degrees centigrade), which is fortunate, as even in summer when I went, the outside temp was 8 degrees centigrade - not your usual outdoor swimming temp! The water is enriched with silica and other minerals, which are claimed to be therapeutic. Believe it if you want! There is a silica salts on the bottom of the lagoon which you are encouraged to use as a mud pack. ABOUT THE WATER So yes, the water is from a power station, which you can actually see in the distance. However, its a geothermal power station. It takes local natural hot spring water (of which there is lots in Iceland!) and uses it to create power. It is a green and clean process with minimal pollution. Anyway, the water is very very hot when it enters the power station, but it has cooled a bit by the time it leaves. This remaining cooler (but still hot) water is channeled into the blue ...

Sony Walkman NW-E005 2 GB 29/08/2006

Its time to get over the Ipod!

Sony Walkman NW-E005 2 GB --------------- --------------- --------------- --------------- ------------- ((( THE PREAMBLE - SKIP IF YOU WANT.... ))) --------------- --------------- --------------- --------------- ------------- In my newcomer days to Ciao I wrote a rather rubbish review on my Ipod. At the time I was totally obsessed with it and really felt it was the best piece of kit available. Indeed it served it's purpose, until a few weeks ago when it broke! At first I was devistated but then I realised it was my 30th bday and people were willing to buy expensive presents for me. So I took the plunge and said I wanted a new MP3 player. And to be controversial, I didnt go for a new Ipod Nano.. I asked for the new Sony Walkman MP3! I've now had the product for three weeks and feel able to write a pretty comprehensive review about it, and also compare it to the Ipod, having owned one for 2 years. I have trialled the Sony MP3 an my daily commute and at home, as well as during my recent trip abroad. I make no apologies for making quite a few comparisons with the Ipod. I am sure that most people reading this review will want to know why they should buy one of these as opposed to an Ipod. --------------- --------------- --------------- - ((( THE BASICS ))) --------------- --------------- --------------- - This is a realtively new MP3 product from they boys and girls at Sony. The player measures only 24.8 x 79.0 x 13.6mm nad comes in three colours! (Black, viollet and pink!) It has ...

Mirage Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas 25/08/2006

Totally Vegas!

Mirage Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas My recent holiday took me to many places but my stay in Vegas was unique and one of the most fun parts of the trip. We stayed at the Mirage, right int eh heart of the Las Vegas 'strip' and Im very pleased we chose it. Vegas hotels are completely over the top, thats the whole point of Vegas, and the Mirage in no exception. Some facts about this mega hotel before I begin: --------------- --------------- --------------- --------------- ----------- It has 30 floors There are 3,049 rooms There is a tiger sanctuary, dolphin habitat and a 20,000-gallon aquarium with sharks and sting rays It employs 7,500 people It has a 1,500 capacity theatre All mind boggling, and there is a whole lot more which ill try to cover (a difficult feat!) Location Location Location --------------- --------------- -------------- Before arriving in the city of tack and imoral dealingsm, I didnt really appreciate is how long 'the strip' is. If you are in Vegas for a holiday (people also live in Vegas!) you will definately want to be on the strip. Part of the fun is going from hotel to hotel so you want to be near the good ones. The Mirage is centrally located, and close to all the best hotels such as the Venetian (across the road) Paris and Bellagio (next door). The last thing you want is to be at one of the distant hotels and be tackling the strip with the Nevada sun beating on your back! Its a ten minute cab ride from the airport ($20). I dont think you can beat the mirage for ...

Radisson SAS Hotel 1919, Reykjavik 25/08/2006

A blip in Radisson's excellent track record

Radisson SAS Hotel 1919, Reykjavik This reivew is based on a three night stay at this centrally located Radisson hotel in downtown Reykjavik. My stay was in August 2006 - let me know if you think things have changed! I have stayed in many Radisson branded hotels before and on the whole, they are fantastic. In fact, I owe the brand a few 5 star reviews on Ciao. I therefore had no hesitations in booking this nice looking, but very expensive, hotel for my short stay in Reykjavik, Iceland. WHY IS IT CALLED 1919? I'm sure you guessed correctly, yes the building was built in 1919. It used to be offices (for a shipping company) and was only converted into this hotel within the past few years. Once you step inside, the inside is decked out with a modern trendy look, incorporating some of the old featues (including a rather grand staircase). HOTEL FEATURES The hotel is rated 4 star and includes: - 88 rooms (of varyng sizes, depending on price paid) - gym - business centre - free broadband in rooms - bar - restaurant - conference / meeting rooms It is smallish and felt quite intimate despite being a chain hotel. There are 2 other Radissons in town, both of which are gigantic and are much the same price. This one has a more chiq feel to it. SO IN A BIT MORE DETAIL... THE ROOM I can only comment on my room. I know some are larger and some smaller. We were located in the 'new building' (more about that later). Our room looked brand new, and was on the small side (we went on to the USA ...

Hilton Hotel, Cardiff 26/06/2006

Not quite the Park Lane Hilton.

Hilton Hotel, Cardiff I have just returned from a short trip to Wales and spent a couple of nights at the Cardiff Hilton during my trip. I know some people want to skim the info, so I'll start with a quick review, and then proceed into more depth for those who are interested! Feel free to stop whenever you want! --------------- --------------- --------------- --------------- --------- A QUICK REVIEW FOR THOSE IN A RUSH! --------------- --------------- --------------- --------------- --------- This hotel is located in the centre of Cardiff. It bills its self as a 5 star hotel. The reception staff were friendly, they had an excellent valet parking service (for a fee of course - £13), and had the full range of facilities one would expect at a 5* establishment, including room service, swimming pool, gym and restuarants etc.. I certainly cant complain about the star rating (its easy to get stars), but if you automatically presume this means its a luxurious hotel, you would be wrong. The lobby looks tacky, there is loud music pumping from the bar at the entrance and some of the rooms are a bit pokey! To be honest, unless the pool and room service is important to you (and I guess on a short city break it isnt likely to be) there wouldnt be too much difference staying at a budget chain hotel (e.g Premier Lodge) in terms of your room and what the building looks like. That said I got the room free (I had vouchers to use) and would be more than happy to stay there again if I didnt have to pay the ...

London Underground 22/06/2006

Connecting the city...

London Underground Ok well before I start, I know Im going ot get lots of comments saying 'I hate the tube' etc... Dont get me wrong, there are problems and it can get awfully busy, but I think we love to grumble and have to realise what an amazing facility the Underground is, especially when putting it into context of age, complexity and lack of funding from government. But this isnt going to be a political reivew. 976 million trips are made on the tube every year (thats close to one Billion!) and 2006 is set to be the busiest ever. This is surely an indicator of its success, albeit the alternative modes of transport in London are limited. HISTORY London's underground network, AKA the 'Tube' is the oldest in the world. That said there are some spanking new parts too. The first part of the tube was opened on 10th Jaunary 1863. Called the 'Metropolitan Railway,' it ran between Paddington (which was then called Bishop's Road) and Farringdon. These services were run by steam trains, which must have been ghastly underground! The Circle line was completed in 1880, and the Central line started life in 1900. The dreaded Northern line opened in 1907 (and to this day is the worst line on the netwok -the line I am dependent on, annoyingly!) By 1933, the network became complex enough to need a simplified map, and Mr Beck designed the original version of the world famous tube map, which has evolved so much today, and has been adapted by other tube networks worldwide. In 1940, the tube was a ...

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts 16/06/2006

Doughnuts which melt in your mouth

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Krispy Kreme opended its first branch in the UK about 2 years ago with much fanfare. They have been around in the US and Canada for some time, and have gained cult status over there. My US based family used to rave about it and I never knew what they were talking about until one day I read one was opening in Harrods. In a nutshell its a doughnut store, which sells doughnuts which taste fantastic! In addition they sell coffee. --------------- --------------- ------------ IT ALL STARTED IN 1937! --------------- --------------- ------------- The first Krispy Kreme opened stateside in 1937. The founder was called Vernon Rudolph (great name!) Initially he sold doughnuts to grocery stores, but customers wanted to buy them hot so he opened his own store so he could serve them hot, direct to the customer. A long history of slow growth followed. In October 2003, the 1st store was opened in the UK, in Harrods, London! There are now many stores throughout the UK (see below). --------------- --------------- --------------- --------------- ------ YES BUT WHAT ABOUT THE DOUGHNUTS? --------------- --------------- --------------- --------------- ------ Krispy Kreme sell many vaireties of doughnut, but is most famous for its 'Original Glazed Doughnut.' This is the most simple one, and in my view, the best one they do. Like all of them, its SICKLY SWEET, and you may feel ill afterwards, but whilst you are eating it you'll probably be very happy! They are always fresh ...

MBNA Platinum Card 14/06/2006

Comes with warnings!

MBNA Platinum Card As you may see from my reviews, I do jump from credit card to credit card. Without exception, I have had excellent service, and also I think a good deal from my other cards. So onto the MBNA card, which is a slightly differnet kettle of fish. --------------- --------------- --------------- --------------- --------------- THE MAIN FEATURES OF THE PLATINUM CARD --------------- --------------- --------------- --------------- --------------- - Typical APR is 15.9%. This may vary from person to person - 0% p.a. on card purchases for 6 months (from date of account opening) - 0% p.a. on balance transfers + 'credit card cheques' for nine months from account opening - Up to 56 days interest free credit (on card purchases only) if you pay your statement balance both in full and on time - The monthly minimum payment is 2.25% of your balance (minimum £5) - Credit limit - obviously they will choose according to your status! (I hav eno idea how they derrive the amount!) --------------- --------------- --------------- -- CHARGES / FEES - BOO HISS! --------------- --------------- --------------- -- - Annual fee: £0 - 2% handling fee (min £3) on credit card cheques and balance transfers - 3% handling fee (min £3) on cash transactions - 2.75% commission on foreign currency transactions. - £25 for going over your limit, making late payments and for returned payments (ie bounced cheques). --------------- --------------- --------- OPENING ...

All Seasons Lodge Hotel, Great Yarmouth 13/06/2006

Not bad,not great

All Seasons Lodge Hotel, Great Yarmouth I recently had to stay in Great Yarmouth for one night so that I could attend a course. I chose to stay at the the 20 roomed 'All Seasons Lodge Lodge Hotel', which is in the Gorleston area of Great Yarmouth. It is called a hotel, but Im sure its more of a B+B (but to be honset Im not quite sure what the difference is!) I chose to stay there because many of the well reviewed B+B's were full (was just after a bank holiday) and also because it was in a very good location for my course. --------------- ------------- THE LOCATION --------------- ------------- If you want to stay in Great Yarmouth proper, this place is a bit out of the way , as it is in the suburb of Gorleston. However it is very well located for the Gorleston beach which is a one minute walk away. It is close to the Bingo parlours and amusement arcades, which I found extremely depressing, ut seeme to be the only attraction in the area other than the beach! I was surprised to see that that the beach looke quite pretty however. --------------- -------------- THE ENTRANCE --------------- -------------- I arrived on a freezing day (despite being at the end of May) with rain and wind in my face but was pleased to find that the B+B was warm inside. The entrance is flanked by signs proclaiming that there is a stair lift and the carpet in hallway was clean but a bit garish to say the least! You go in through the main door and there is a corridor and stairs going to the rooms upstairs. I think there is ...
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