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since 25/04/2003


First Great Eastern 16/05/2003

Mediocre Eastern

First Great Eastern I always thought that when you buy a train ticket that you were purchasing a seat on a train. First Great Eastern obviously think differently. First Great Eastern run train services between London, Southend, Ipswich, Harwich and Clacton plus a couple of smaller branch lines. First Great Eastern itself was formed with privatisation in the late 1990’s as part is the First Bus group of companies. This review mainly concentrates on services between Chelmsford and Liverpool Street as this is the route that I have daily experience of. However having used other services on an infrequent basis and discussed their services with friends who use First Great Eastern services from other destinations I think this review does give a fairly accurate pictures of their services as a whole. In general terms the facilities at Chelmsford Station are very good and on the whole clean although the toilets are well overdue for refurbishment. The station is well staffed and keeps passengers well informed of delays/ changes to services etc. My main gripe with services from Chelmsford is that if you travel during peak times ie 06.30 and 08.30 it is almost impossible to get seats on trains. The problem doesn’t appear to be because of the frequency of the trains, they run about every ten minutes, but because they don’t have enough carriages. It would also be helpful if they ran more trains that actually began from Chelmsford rather than arriving at Chelmsford from another ...

Monopoly Junior 15/05/2003

teach your kids to be tycoons

Monopoly Junior I have to admit to having a soft spot for the original version of the game and can remember spending many hours as a child playing the game with my sister. Junior Monopoly now allows an even younger audience (5-8 year olds) to learn the joys of being a tycoon. Essentially Junior Monopoly has changed the board from being a rather odd London street map to a fairground map with each of what used to be streets now being fairground rides. It is played in much the same way as the grown up version but the rules have been simplified. for example, once you have brought a fairground ride no further development is possible ie you can’t buy houses and hotels. They have also got rid of title deeds and the ability to mortgage your streets in times of financial difficulty. These changes have made the game far simpler to play and within the understanding of the target age group. Sorry this bit probably hasn’t made a lot of sense of you are not familiar with the grown up version!! The other improvement is that it makes the age and ability of the players immaterial. This isn’t a game where big brother is going to trounce you just because he is “older and smarter”. Only last week my son beat my wife and I hands down. If you like us are parents who struggle to get your children to sit down to do maths homework, this game is a great way for children to improve their maths skills without realising it. There is absolutely no way that I would be able to ...

Hedstrom Brecon Play Gym 01/05/2003

Really Cool

Hedstrom  Brecon Play Gym "Really cool, especially the glider ride" this was my 7 year olds son's assessment when I asked him last night what he thought of his new swing frame. The Hedstrom Snowden Multiplay (used to be called the Brecon Multigym) as described in the Argos catalogue: `Two height adjustable rope swings and a glider ride for two children Made from painted steele tube Construction time 2 people x 1 hour Maximum load per ride 45kg Height 181cm, width 154cm, depth 272cm` If you thought that the two "height adjustable" swings sound impressive don't get too excited. The heigth adjustment is done by tying the ropes to the swing frame at your desired height. If you want to adjust later you simply un-tie and re-tie in a different place!! The box arrived at 10.30 in the morning and I (with help from my wife and a very excited son!) started work assembling it pretty much straight away. It comes with clear instructions and I don't think we hit any serious problems throughout the assembly process. The only additional advice I would offer that is not included in the instructions would be to not tighten the bolts on the glider ride seats too harshly as it does tend to discolour the plastic. I would say that the suggested 1 hour assembly time is about right. Extra time should however be allowed for the essential concreting in of the anchor pegs. All in all the Multiplay is very good value for money when compared with its competitors. Before buying the multiplay we checked ...

Rowntrees Strawberry Jelly 25/04/2003

Jelly is for grown ups too

Rowntrees Strawberry Jelly Rowntrees or some other jelly maker should start a publicity campaign with a slogan of “Jelly is for grown ups too!!”. Over the past few weeks I have been on a voyage of rediscovery with jelly and can’t believe that I ever stopped eating it! It has so many things going for it: Its easy to make With the right moulds you can make all kinds of interesting shapes. It’s a gateway to other forgotten deserts like trifle and knickerbockerglories Its cheap at around 50p a packet (less if you use store own brands). The best things about Rowntrees jelly is that they have made it even quicker and easier to make. In the old days you had to break up all the pieces, then pour on boiling water and make it all dissolve before adding more cold water and waiting for it to set. With the new Rowntrees jelly you still have to break up the pieces but then you add a couple of spoons of cold water and bung it in the microwave for a couple of minutes to dissolve it all. You then just add more cold water and wait for it to set (which happens quicker as the water is colder). On paper this may not sound a hugely different process but in practice it’s a huge step forward. TIPS A few tips for budding jelly makers: To get jelly out of mould in one piece dip mould in very hot water for 30 second. This is just enough to loosen it from the sides but not long enough for it to become a soggy mess. You don’t necessarily need to but jelly moulds. I ...
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