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Musician, writer, marathon runner, part-time supply teacher, part-time reluctant and very bad housewife, and all-round lovely person.

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since 19/09/2011


Child of Time - Isaac Asimov 05/12/2011

One of my favourite books

Child of Time - Isaac Asimov Child of Time by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg ISBN: 0330322702 Genre: Sci-fi This is an extended version of a short story called “The Ugly Little Boy”, written by Isaac Asimov and initially published in 1956. It is the second collaboration between Asimov and Silverberg, the first being “Nightfall”, also an extended version of a short story originally by Asimov. Child of Time was published in 1991, a year before Asimov’s death in 1992. It is set in some undefined point in the future where mankind has developed the ability to reach into the past and pull matter through for study. Dr Hoskins is the CEO of Stasis Technologies and interviews homely paediatric nurse Miss Fellowes for an unusual job – that of looking after a Neanderthal child torn from his home and family and thrust into an unfamiliar and terrifying future. The story flits between the child’s time and his tribe, initially showing us how they live and then showing us how they deal with and explain his disappearance in the context of their religious beliefs. The bulk of the book deals with how Timmy, as Miss Fellowes names him, adapts and changes to his surroundings over a period of a couple of years. He becomes ‘civilised’, begins to learn to speak, and even to read a little. But their gentle domestic world is shattered when Hoskins declares that the Timmy project is at an end in favour of a new project; Timmy must go home. I loved this short story when I read it many years ago and when I found out it had ...

Schwarzkopf Supersoft Kids Conditioner - Strawberry & Milk 01/10/2011

Best detangling spray I have found

Schwarzkopf Supersoft Kids Conditioner - Strawberry & Milk I have two daughters. The eldest has straight thick hair, with a hint of a wave – but when she was a toddler she had one curly lock that grew out of where her baby bald patch had been. I used to use detangling spray on it, until the curl grew out and it became straight. When my second daughter was born, she had a mass of strawberry blonde hair that, after only a few months, showed signs of being curly. When she was one – there was no doubt – I had a battle on my hands. I tried to find the detangling spray I had used for my first daughter – to no avail. I found another one that was OK, but then when that bottle ran out, THAT too was mysteriously unavailable. I trawled the supermarkets to find another one and in Tesco I came across two different sprays. We chose the Schwarzkopf tropical one based on smell alone. It wasn't especially expensive so I figured if it was rubbish we’d try the other one, which was slightly more pricy. But I have been SO impressed with this detangling spray. It is far and away better than either of the ones I used before. It smells really nice and it works! I brush my daughter’s hair in layers, starting with the bottom layer, with the top clipped up out of the way. It’s always knottiest the day after I’ve washed it, even though I use conditioner on it. I spray the detangler on the bottom layer and LEAVE it for a minute – I find this is better than trying to brush it through straightaway. Then I brush it through with a wide-bristled brush. It goes ...

Blackpool Zoo Park, Blackpool 30/09/2011

Blackpool Zoo - one of Blackpool must-sees

Blackpool Zoo Park, Blackpool LOCATION Blackpool Zoo, East Park Drive, Blackpool, Lancashire, FY3 8PP UK T: 01253 830 830 W: E: ACCESSIBILITY AND PARKING There is a large pay and display car park outside the zoo. The cost for this is £2.50 per day, which is quite reasonable. Alternatively, you can park for free at Stanley Park car park, and walk through the park to East Park Drive, then up Woodside Drive to the Zoo entrance. This is a walk of about a mile and is a pleasant alternative, if you wish to visit both Stanley Park and the Zoo. The walking route to the Zoo is well-signposted throughout Stanley Park and is very easy to find. You can also get a bus – route 20 stops at the zoo. The timetable can be found here: OPENING TIMES The Zoo opens at 10am daily. Closing times vary throughout the year depending on what time it gets dark. Check the zoo website to find out when it closes when you want to visit. ADMISSION ADULT (16 - 59 years): £14.99 CHILD (3 - 15 years): £10.75 UNDER 3s: Free CONCESSIONS (Senior/Student - with valid ID): £12.99 DISCOUNTED FAMILY TICKET FOR 4 (2 adults and 2 children): £46.00 DISCOUNTED FAMILY TICKET FOR 5 (2 adults and 3 children): £56.00 Local residents with an FY1 to FY5 postcode get a discount of 20% off admission on production of a proof of address, eg a recent utility bill or driving licence. This is valid for up to 5 people per household. BLACKPOOL ZOO EXPERIENCE As a local, I have ...

Bioparco Giardino Zoologico, Rome 30/09/2011

Rome Zoo - Lions and tigers and bears - oh my!

Bioparco Giardino Zoologico, Rome LOCATION Viale del Giardino Zoologico 00197, Roma Italy +39 06 320 7389 ACCESSIBILITY AND PARKING We went the long way to the Zoo, getting off the metro at Spagna, the nearest Metro stop. This brings you out at the bottom end of the Villa Borghese, the park in which the zoo is situated. If it’s a nice day, you then have a fairly long, pleasant walk through leafy avenues and green spaces, passing tranquil pools before you get to the zoo itself. We enjoyed the walk although the same walk at the other end of our visit, when we were tired from walking round the zoo itself, was a little more hard going. If you’re not feeling so athletic, then the bus or tram is probably a better idea. There is a tram stop directly outside the zoo called Bioparco, which is serviced by routes 3 and 19. Buses No. 3, 52, 53, 926, 217, 360, 910 all go to the zoo. There is a large free parking space outside the zoo if you have hired a car during your stay in Rome. OPENING TIMES 2011 1 January – 25 March : 9:30 AM - 5:00 PM (Monday - Sunday) Last admission at 4:00 PM 26 March – 1 April : 9:30 AM - 6:00 PM (Monday - Sunday) Last admission at 5:00 PM 2 April – 25 September : 9:30 AM - 6:00 PM (Monday - Friday) Last admission at 5:00 PM 26 September – 23 October : 9:30 AM - 6:00 PM (Monday - Sunday) Last admission at 5:00 PM 24 October – 31 December : 9:30 AM - 5:00 PM (Monday - Sunday) Last admission at 4:00 PM EXTENDED OPENING HOURS Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays 2 April – ...

Ye Horns Inn, Preston 27/09/2011

Very pleasant stay, pheasant a bit iffy

Ye Horns Inn, Preston LOCATION Ye Horns Inn Goosnargh Nr Preston Lancashire PR3 2FJ UK T: 01772 865230 F: 01772 864299 E: W: ACCESSIBILITY AND PARKING Ye Horn’s Inn is about 10 minutes’ drive from junction 32 on the M6, through Goosnargh village about 2 miles up a country lane. There is a car park, although it’s best to arrive during the day. We arrived at night, and it was a bit difficult to see exactly where we were. We ended up turning onto a caravan park first before we realised we’d turned off too soon! HISTORY The Inn dates back to 1720. Originally part of a farm, it became a popular stopping point for travellers when it opened as a traditional coaching Inn. There used to be a blacksmith and wheelwright nearby – the eighteenth century equivalent of a motorway service station! It was also a popular watering hole for local farmers who would sit at the bar, talking shop and making deals. It was bought by local farmer John Dewhurst in 1952, and has remained in the family ever since. YE HORN’S INN EXPERIENCE We hadn’t planned on going to Ye Horn’s Inn. It was my birthday and we were going to go out for a meal. We’d arranged for the kids to go to their grandparents’ till the next day and my husband suggested out of the blue that we could perhaps go away overnight. I said OK so he went online and booked us a room here. The room we were shown to was absolutely lovely. It had a vaulted ceiling with recessed spotlights combined with ancient oak ...

Sandcastle Tropical Water World, Blackpool 27/09/2011

A must-see!

Sandcastle Tropical Water World, Blackpool LOCATION The Sandcastle Waterpark South Beach Blackpool Lancashire FY4 1BB UK T: 01253 343 602 F: 01253 406 490 E: W: ACCESSIBILITY AND PARKING It is very difficult to find free parking in Blackpool. There is a large car park right next to the Sandcastle, South Beach car park, which is open 24/7. The charges there are £3.50 for 3 hours or £7.50 for 12 hours. Out of season (from mid-November to Good Friday, there is unlimited free parking on a numbers of small roads directly opposite the Sandcastle: Osborne Road, Withnell Road and Simpson street. During the season you can park on these roads for a maximum of two hours, however, they do tend to be busy and spaces get filled up quickly. There are good public transport links to the Sandcastle. The trams run right past it and there is a dedicated tram stop. The no. 1 bus runs along the Promenade and there is a stop close by. The nearest train station is Blackpool South, about 15 minutes’ walk away. From the station, turn left onto Waterloo Road and keep going until you hit the promenade. Then turn left again and just keep going. You will see the Sandcastle on your right. It is a walk of about 15 minutes or so. OPENING TIMES AND PRICES Opening times vary greatly, depending on day and season. The earliest opening time is 9.30am in the season and during school holidays, and the latest closing time is 8pm on certain Fridays. It’s best to check the website for the ...

China Red, Poulton 27/09/2011

Best Chinese Restaurant I have ever eaten in

China Red, Poulton CHINA RED CANTONESE RESTAURANT LOCATION 15-19 Queens Square Poulton-Le-Fylde FY6 7BW TEL: 01253 893701 ACCESSIBILITY The restaurant has no car park. Poulton is a small historical market town and is a bit tight for space. However, there is a municipal car park a few minutes’ walk away. Entrance to the car park can be found on Blackpool Old Road and Hardhorn Road (A588), depending on which direction you approach from. This is a pay and display car park but it is FREE after 6pm. The restaurant is on the ground floor so is disabled-friendly. OPENING HOURS Mon to Sat 5pm - midnight. Sunday 2pm - 9pm OUR CHINA RED EXPERIENCE We went to China Red for my sister’s 40th birthday party. I love Chinese food but had never been to this particular restaurant before. Our party consisted of about 14 people, two of them children under 6. We met in the bar area, where there is plenty of seating, unlike some restaurants where the bar/waiting area is tiny. The staff were happy for us to wait there as long as we needed for the entire party to arrive. It wasn't particularly busy the night we went, as it was a Tuesday, so the attention we got was very good. I had never been there before, nor had my parents so my sister ordered the eat-all-you -can banquet for everyone. This is a FOUR course banquet – and it really is an absolute feast! The starter alone consisted of huge platters of crispy seaweed, sweet and sour wontons, salt and peppery chicken wings, ...

Hotel Piazza di Spagna, Rome 27/09/2011

Spanish Steps

Hotel Piazza di Spagna, Rome LOCATION AND HISTORY The famous Spanish Steps (It: Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti) is a wide stone staircase of 138 steps, which were complete in 1725, solving the problem of linking the Piazza di Spagna below to the church built at Piazza Trinità dei Monti above. The idea of a staircase up the steep wooded slope had been conceived as early as the 1580s by Pope Gregory XIII. The famous steps got their English name from the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See which dominates the Piazzo di Spagna. Also in the square is the beautiful Barcaccia fountain, commissioned by Urbano Barberini and realised by Pietro Bernini. SPANISH STEPS EXPERIENCE Being a public place, obviously there are no opening or closing times or entry fee. It is generally full of people and is a picturesque spot to sit and rest after a busy day’s sight-seeing in Rome. However, the Italian authorities have banned eating on the steps, so don’t think you can have your picnic there! To the right of the stairs at the bottom is the house where poet John Keats lived, and died. It is now a museum. There’s a very nice Italian ice-cream bar on the Via di Propaganda on the approach to the Spanish Steps, which I can personally recommend. If you go at Christmas-time, a beautiful Nativity crib is erected on the steps, and every year, on December 8th, the Pope starts off the Christmas celebrations in Rome with his traditional visit to the Steps to worship at the statue of the Virgin Mary. There is nothing else really to ...

Pantheon & Piazza della Rotonda, Rome 27/09/2011

One of the best-preserved ancient Roman temples

Pantheon & Piazza della Rotonda, Rome LOCATION The Pantheon is located on the Piazza della Rotonda, Rome. HISTORY The original Pantheon was commissioned by Marcus Agrippa. Built in 27 BC, it burnt to the ground in 80 AD. The current Pantheon was rebuilt in 126 AD by Emperor Hadrian. It is one of the best-preserved of all the ancient Roman buildings. The name Pantheon literally means “All Gods” and is believed to be a temple dedicated to all the gods. It has been in use as a Roman Catholic church, Santa Maria Rotonda, since the 7th century. The Emperor of the time, Phocas, gave it to Pope Boniface who insisted that all the “pagan filth” be removed before it could be consecrated. The inscription on the front of the Pantheon reads "M. AGRIPPA. L. F. COSTERTIUM. FECIT” which means “Marcus Agrippa son of Lucius, having been consul three times made it”. OPENING TIMES Mon – Sat: 9 am - 6.30 pm Sun: 9 am –1 pm. ENTRY Entry to the Pantheon is free and it is certainly worth a visit. THE PANTHEON EXPERIENCE The dome is unique in that it is the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. At the top there is a large hole, an oculus, which is the only source of light into the dome. When we went most of the front was covered with scaffolding, but it is a fine example of ancient Roman architecture. Inside the dome, the Christian influence is heavy. There are lots of altars and statues and tombs of various important dead people including the artist Raphael, the composer Corelli and two Italian Kings - Umberto I and Vittorio ...

Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Blackpool 27/09/2011

Always a favourite

Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Blackpool HISTORY AND OWNERSHIP The Pleasure Beach was founded in 1896 by William George Bean. In 1903 he moved to Blackpool full-time, bought 30 further acres of land alongside his existing small amusement park, and also had a daughter, Lillian Doris Bean, known as Doris. His stated aim was to “make adults feel like children again and inspire gaiety of a primarily innocent character.” The first two large attractions were the “Hiram Maxim Captive Flying Machine” and the River Caves of the World, both of which are still part of the Pleasure Beach today. In 1928 Doris married a young businessman called Leonard Thompson. Bean died suddenly in 1929, leaving the park to his daughter, and she and Leonard ran the park together until Leonard’s death in 1976. Their son Geoffrey took over as Managing Director and Doris became Chairman. Geoffrey steadily expanded the business. One of the most famous of the rides built during his reign has to be the £12 million Pepsi Max Big One which, at the time it was built in 1994, was the tallest, fastest and steepest roller-coaster in the world. It lost that crown to Fujiyama, Japan in 1996. Geoffrey died on 12th June 2004 while attending his daughter Amanda’s wedding. Doris outlived her son by only eleven days, dying on 23rd June 1994, aged 101. Amanda Thompson took over the entire Pleasure Beach business. LOCATION AND ACCESSIBILITY Official address: Blackpool Pleasure Beach 525 Ocean Boulevard Blackpool Lancashire FY4 1EZ 0870 444 ...

Portofino Restaurant, Lytham 27/09/2011

Our first time - won't be our last!

Portofino Restaurant, Lytham We went to Portofino’s Mediterranean Restaurant in Lytham on the 30th July 2011 for our first wedding anniversary. We had tried to get in once before on my husband’s birthday but had been turned away at the door on a Saturday night as we hadn’t booked ahead. Learning from experience, we booked in advance. GETTING THERE Whether you are going north or south, you will probably approach via the A584 – West Beach, which is Lytham’s equivalent to the Promenade. There are two car parks on West Beach, one opposite Bath Street and one opposite Dicconson Terrace. We parked in the one opposite Dicconson Terrace, which has the added plus of being free after 6pm. Double check the signage though in case they sneakily go and change it. But certainly as of July this year it was free. From there it is a short walk up Dicconson Terrace and round the corner onto Henry Street. The restaurant is on the left hand side a short way down. If you are early, take half an hour to pop into award-winning real ale pub The Taps, which is just a bit further down on the same side of the road as Portofino’s. THE PORTOFINO EXPERIENCE The restaurant is over two floors and was very busy. The upper floor is basically a very wide balcony over a circular gap through which one can throw peanuts onto the diners below. We were seated disappointingly next to the kitchen, but also next to the glass balustrade overlooking the lower floor. Candles lit every table and the atmosphere was very pleasant. I ordered a white ...

Stanley Park, Blackpool 27/09/2011

A nice, peaceful haven in Blackpool!

Stanley Park, Blackpool OVERVIEW Stanley Park is Blackpool’s largest park, covering an area of 256 acres with a perimeter of 2.2 miles. It is located out of the centre of Blackpool, and is bounded by North Park Drive, East Park Drive, West Park Drive and, er, South Park Drive. It was opened in 1926 by the 17th Earl of Derby, Sir George Edward Villiers Stanley and was named after his father, the former Governor General of Canada, Frederick Stanley, 16th Earl of Derby KG, GCB, GCVO, PC who was Blackpool's first MP. The residential area surrounding the park is one of the more desirable areas of Blackpool (yes there are some!), being only a mile or so from the centre, easily walkable on a nice day, yet surrounded by greenery and with nice views. LOCATION The Park’s official address is: Stanley Park Offices, West Park Drive, Blackpool FY3 9HU. The main entrance for cars can be found at the roundabout junction between West Park Drive, North Park Drive, Beech Avenue and Mere Road. The postcode for sat nav purposes is FY3 9AT. ENTRY AND PARKING It is free to enter and there is free parking in both the car park and all along one side of the main driveway once through the main gates. Parking is limited though and on a nice day in the summer, you might find it full. FACILITIES Next to the car park there is an Art Deco café building – Park’s. I have never used this café other than to buy the occasional ice cream but I have heard good reports of it. They have their own website: ...

Houndshill Centre, Blackpool 27/09/2011

Much improved!

Houndshill Centre, Blackpool This always used to have a decent number of shops but was generally a bit rundown, dingy and quite grotty. Recently, however, with an infusion of cash to the tune of £150 million, the redevelopment of the centre attracted major new retailers such as Debenhams. It is now a pleasanter place to visit, light and airy with more seating areas for when your hubby really can’t bear to go in one more shop with you and is just going to “wait outside for a little bit, darling.” All the shops are located on the ground floor. There is an upper floor, but the only things up there are the toilets and a café. There are lifts and an ascending escalator, but only stairs to come down; there is no descending escalator. The toilets are large and clean with seating areas outside for people waiting for you and plenty of space to leave pushchairs. There is a multi-storey car park above the shopping centre, with space for 800 cars. It is open from 8.00am – 11.30pm daily. You have to wind your way around the one-way system to get to it and it can be VERY busy at peak times. I once queued for half an hour one Saturday in December just to get INTO the car park, and then had to queue again once inside the car park to find a space. In busy times I would highly recommend going on the bus, or trying to find a space in Central Drive car park, which is not far away. Car parking charges are as follows: • Up to 1 hr – £1.20 • Up to 2 hrs – £2.00 • Up to 3 hrs – £3.00 • Up to 4 hrs – £4.00 • Up to 6 hrs – ...

Circular Cruise Westminster, Westminster, London 27/09/2011

No too expensive and you get to see some famous sights

Circular Cruise Westminster, Westminster, London We hadn’t planned on going on a Thames Boat trip. I was in London with my elderly father and my daughter to see Les Misérables for my daughter’s 10th birthday. We had a chunk of time of a few hours before the show started and we had planned on going to the London Dungeon. However, when we got there, there was a queue longer than I could see snaking round the walls and when I asked the chap at the door how long the waiting time was, he said it would be an hour and half before we even got in. So we binned that idea and wandered off over London Bridge, trying to think of something to do. We saw the cruise boats going up and down the Thames and, a short way down on the left hand side we could see the pier where the boats were picking up passengers. My daughter asked if we could go on a boat and my dad and I were both in favour so that was decided upon! We made our way down the riverside walkway – a very pleasant walk which took us some twenty minutes at the gentle stroll my dad and daughter were capable of. Part of the walkway was closed off for works so we were diverted up past the Tower of London, giving my dad and me chance to tell my daughter some of the history of the place. We walked down to the pier and had a look at the prices. We were pleasantly surprised that a single to Westminster was only £8.40, and child/senior prices were half that, at £4.20 each. We decided to go to Westminster and not come back as it took us nearer to the theatre. There was a long queue and ...

Fontana di Trevi, Rome 27/09/2011

Absolutely gorgeous!

Fontana di Trevi, Rome OCATION The Trevi fountain (Italian: Fontana di Trevi), dominating the Piazza di Trevi (place of three roads) is probably one of the most famous fountains in the world, and quite deservedly so! The nearest main road in the Via di San Vincenzo, if approaching from the East. If you approach it from the other side, as we did, you will find yourself wandering through small alleys and side streets populated with souvenir stalls before turning a corner and almost stumbling across it. HISTORY According to legend, thirsty Roman soldiers once asked a girl where they could find water. She directed them to a spring, which was later used as the source for an aqueduct commissioned by Agrippa, which was named the Aqua Virgo, after the girl (who was, presumably, a virgin). The aquaduct was renovated during the Renaissance and renamed the Acque Vergine. The Trevi fountain marks the end of this 14-mile long aqueduct, which provides pure drinking water to many famous fountains in Rome. Originally, the water brought by the Acque Vergine was received by a much simpler fountain which cascaded into a plain basin. Work on the current splendid fountain was begun in 1732 although the final touch, the huge statue of Oceanus, was not set in place until 1762, marking the culmination of the project. The legendary scene between the virgin and the soldiers is depicted on the carved frieze decorating the fountain. THE TREVI FOUNTAIN EXPERIENCE Pictures will not prepare you for your first encounter with ...
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