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Thanks to all those for review and rate. I think I'm back on track, but message me if I've not returned the favour of a rate.

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since 19/03/2014


Fitbit Charge 2 23/10/2017

Charging ahead with the Fitbit Charge 2

Fitbit Charge 2 In the last 21 months, I’ve had 4 fitness trackers; not perhaps the best track record! My latest, bought in June this year is the Fitbit Charge 2. ~~~ Why a Fitbit? ~~~There are a lot of fitness trackers on the market but for me it comes down to a choice between Jawbone and Fitbit, an Apple watch being beyond what I’m willing to pay. When I first climbed aboard the fitness tracker bandwagon in December 2015 I went for a Fitbit Charge but didn’t have a good experience. I was unlucky I think; the battery life was abysmal and I found the email notifications meant to encourage me intensely annoying. I gave up on it and returned the darn thing whilst it was still under warranty. Next came two Jawbones which I really loved but at the end of May this year I managed to lose the second of my Jawbones (a Jawbone UP2) despite having said in my review of it that it felt secure on my wrist. One of the selection criteria in going for the Jawbone at the time had been that I wanted something attractive and that looked more like a piece of jewellery than a watch. However, at about the same time that I lost the UP2, I managed to crack the screen of a well worn and trusted work watch. I was obviously going through a clumsy period! So the criteria for choosing a fitness tracker was therefore different this time around. I wanted a display which would tell me the time as well as give me an up to date tally of the number of steps I had taken. The Jawbone does neither so was ruled out. I read ...

Photobox 12/10/2017

Look out for the deals on Photobox

Photobox While the rest of my life verges on near chaos most of the time, the one area where I am meticulously ordered is my photographs. I have always loved photographing the significant and not so significant events in my life. As a teenager, I was the one who always turned up with a little Kodak instamatic camera to record parties, gatherings and visits. Every photo would be put into an album and so now I have shelves and shelves of albums spanning my 50+ years. The children mock me that the one thing they won’t need to sort out on my departure from this world is my photographs. ~~~ Photobox ~~~In this digital age, I now have a well ordered file structure containing all my photos on my computer but I’ve kept up with the albums too. For me, I just love being able to take a break and look back through albums of yesteryear and actually they have at times been a very useful record of events. For a time I printed my own photographs but depending on the particular printer we had, the results were not always of the quality I would like and we went through colour ink at an alarming rate. So, I have over the years tried a number of online printing services including BonusPrint, DSColour Labs and Snapfish. I’ve even tried Costco. However I find myself increasingly loyal to Photobox, a large print company claiming to have more than 30 million users in over 19 different countries across Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Moonpig is also part of the same group. ~~~ A huge range of choice ...

Dublinia, Dublin 07/10/2017

Learn the history of Dublin

Dublinia, Dublin ~~~ Location ~~~Dublinia is a not for profit heritage centre located at Christ Church Cathedral which is Dublin’s oldest building having been a pilgrimage site for almost 1000 years. Dublinia is actually connected to the Cathedral by a Neo-Gothic archway so is easy to find. Find the Cathedral and you can easily navigate to Dublinia. Tram and bus stops are all relatively close by and Dublinia is a 15 minute walk from Heuston and Tara Street train Stations. ~~~ Opening hours and admission ~~~Dublinia is open daily (apart form 24-26 December). During the summer months (March to September) opening hours are 10.00am to 6.30pm (Last entry 5.30pm) and for the rest of the year are 10.00am to 5.30pm (Last entry 4.30pm) Adult: €9.50 Student/Senior: €8.50 Child: €6.00 Family: €25.00 (2 Adults & 2 Children) Special discounts are available if you have a Dublin Passwhich gives visitors access to 33 top attractions, museums and monuments in Dublin. The Hop on Hop off bus tours which gives you €1 off your ticket. ~~~ The exhibit ~~~The purpose of the Medieval Trust which runs Dublinia is to increase knowledge and understanding of the Medieval period so this very much an educational centre and would be a great place to take young history students. Dublinia is housed on the site of a medieval church (St Michael) which later became the Synod Hall for the Church of Ireland. There are four different sections at Dublinia and once I had got my ticket I waited for a guide to briefly introduce ...

De Vere Grand Harbour Hotel, Southampton 04/10/2017

A stay at the Grand Harbour Hotel in Southampton

De Vere Grand Harbour Hotel, Southampton September sees the Boat Show down in Southampton and this year we decided to go visit. In the past we have been regular visitors to the London Boat Show but of late have got a little tired of the format and felt in need of a change of venue. Mr P has a bit of a dodgy knee and in order to cut down on the walking, I wanted to book a hotel close by. The Grand Harbour seemed to fit the bill. ~~~ Location ~~~Described as “an iconic landmark on the Southampton waterfront”, the Grand Harbour is a short taxi ride from Southampton Central Station and bus terminal. We were driving and found it easy to get to leaving the M3 at Junction 13 for the M27. Exiting Junction 3 off the M271, we followed the signs to Southampton Waterfront and soon found the hotel. There are a number of multi storey car parks nearby but we used the off-site valet parking offered by the hotel. The Grand Harbour does have its own car park but this is taken over by part of the Boat Show so wasn’t an option for our stay. The charge was £10 for the night. When we came to leave, we told the concierge what time we wanted the car and it was right there at the entrance waiting for us. So top marks on the parking front. ~~~ Checking in ~~~In total, the Grand Harbour offers 173 rooms. Although I booked well in advance, availability was limited when I booked and because of the Boat Show, prices were at a premium. I went for a Deluxe double (no standards were available) on a non-flexible rate of £220 which included ...

Tintern Abbey 29/09/2017

The other Tintern Abbey

Tintern Abbey Please note that this is about the Tintern Abbey in Ireland not Wales. I have asked Ciao to move this but .... ~~~ The Irish Tinterrn ~~~ On a recent visit to County Wexford in Ireland, we visited Tintern Abbey – not to be confused with the Tintern Abbey in Wales although it is related. ~~~ Finding it ~~~Tintern Abbey is 16km south of New Ross off the R734 or 29km from Wexford off the Wexford to Ballyhack Road (R733). We approached it from New Ross and had no trouble finding it as it is well signposted. ~~~ Admission ~~~The Abbey is only open from early April to end October when admission is between 10.00 - 17.00. The list entrance is at 4.15pm which just about gives you time to whiz around this charming site. Fees: Adult - €5.00 Group/Senior - €4.00 Child/Std - €3.00 Family - €13.00 ~~~ History ~~~Now in ruins, the Abbey was founded in 1203 by William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke. We had learnt his story while visiting the Ros Tapestry so we felt very informed (not to say smug)! One particular panel of the tapestry tells the story of how the Earl had vowed to build the abbey after his ship was wrecked on his journey over to Ireland. He lived up to his promise to found an abbey where he landed, actually on the west shore of Bannow Bay. Marshall was patron of the Cistercian abbey at Tintern in Monmouthshire and Cistercian monks came over from Wales to run this namesake abbey in County Wexford. To distinguish between the two Tintern Abbeys, the ‘mother house’ in Wales ...

Chloe Love Story Eau de Parfum 29/09/2017

It must be love, love, love

Chloe Love Story Eau de Parfum When it comes to perfume, I have a number of trusted favourites but every now and then I like to ring the changes. Perfume can be quite an investment so I was delighted to have a couple of small trial atomisers included in a beauty box recently. One of those was Chloé Love Story Eau de Parfum. The description of this fragrance on the The Perfume Shop sounded right up my street – “Each spritz of Chloe Love Story releases a burst of happiness for the wearer and all those who get to meet her. It makes the ideal perfume gift for women who are sophisticated with a playful nature.” Clearly, this was a perfume made for me! ~~~ The Fragrance ~~~The first Chloe perfume was introduced in 1975 while Karl Lagerfeld was the house designer and in my younger days was one of my favourites. The brand is now more associated with Stella McCartney and Narcisse and now Love Story have been added to the repertoire. The Fragrance Notes are listed as: Top notes: Orange blossom Heart notes: Stephanotis Jasmine Base notes: Cedar wood ~~~ £££ ~~~As I say, I was lucky enough to get a sample but in the shops it comes in 3 sizes in 30ml, 50ml and 75ml at around £47, £68 and £82 respectively. ~~~ Recommended? ~~~This is a distinctive perfume which does remind me of the original but in my opinion is slightly heavier and although the cedar wood balances the fragrance, it is very sweet. Although it is described as a “sexy, clean floral fragrance”, to me it is quite a cloying scent. I love the initial ...

Omescape, London 22/09/2017

Escaping on a Friday night

Omescape, London ~~~ Planning an escape ~~~In the last 12 months, I’ve heard a lot about Escape Rooms. Apparently originating from video games, in a live Escape Game participants are locked in a room or a series of rooms that they then try to get out of by solving puzzles. They have become popular as team building activities and when someone choose Omescape to mark their departure from work, I was keen to join up. ~~~ Omescape ~~~Omescape is well established as an Escape Game with over 30 branches across Asia, America and Australia but the game in London is relatively new. ~~~ Finding it ~~~Omescape London is in Islington, North London, about a ten minutes walk from King's Cross following the Caledonian Road. It is also on a number of bus routes and there is on-street parking for those who want to drive – the rooms are just outside the London Congestion Charge zone. From the outside, the Omescape building is not at all impressive; in fact it looks rather derelict and we had trouble finding the entrance. We were beginning to think that breaking in might be harder than breaking out, but once we were in we were greeted enthusiastically by the game masters. ~~~ £££ ~~~The cost varies depending on when (peak or off peak) and how many players in the group. Although we went at peak time (after 5.30 on a Friday), we were a large group and so it worked out at just £19.86 per person – had there just been three of us the price would have gone up to £33, so quite a difference. ~~~ What’s involved ...

The Ros Tapestry, New Ross 17/09/2017

A stitch in time

The Ros Tapestry, New Ross On a recent trip to Ireland to visit friends and wondering what to do on a rainy day, we visited the Ros Tapestry. ~~~ Where you’ll find it ~~~New Ross is a town in the south west of Ireland in County Wexford about 20 km north east of Waterford. The area makes much of being the ancestral home of the Kennedy family and on the quay there is a statute of JFK – with arm outstretched ready to shake a by-passer’s hand. The Ros Tapestry Exhibition Centre is on the quay, on the right just before the bridge, at the end of the boardwalk and across the road from the Kennedy sculpture. ~~~ What you’ll find ~~~Rev. Paul Mooney, who was appointed to St. Mary’s Church in New Ross in 1998, was inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry to commission a tapestry for his church which told the Norman history of the area. A local artist, Ann Griffin Bernstorff, painted the cartoons which form the basis for a series of 15 large embroidered panels illustrating the story of the Anglo-Norman arrival and the founding of the New Ross by William Marshal, and his wife, Isabel de Clare. ~~~ How to view ~~~So rather than being housed in St Mary’s (tapestries are too large to display in the church), the panels are now housed in an exhibition centre which perhaps sounds a lot grander than it actually is. The centre is open 7 days a week all year round: Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm, Sunday 11am to 4pm. Admission Charges are Adult: €8.00 / Senior: €7.00, Student/Child: €6.00 Entering the centre, you find a ...

Fairy Active Dishwasher Cleaner 05/09/2017

A fairy who will clean my dishwasher

Fairy Active Dishwasher Cleaner In a rare cleaning frenzy, I noticed that my dishwasher was looking decidedly grim. Not good. I do try to remember to run a cleaning cycle pretty regularly but I’m ashamed to say that judging by the appearance of the dishwasher, a clean was well over due. Most manufacturers recommend that you run a cleaner through your dishwasher once a month to stop grease and limescale that can build up. Not only will the grime build-up result in a bit a pong (at least I can report that my dishwasher hadn’t reached that stage), over time and reduce the effectiveness of your dishwasher. Luckily I did have some dishwasher cleaner in stock that I could use. I’m not brand loyal when it comes to most cleaning products and dishwasher cleaner is no exception. On this occasion I had a Fairy Active Dishwasher Cleaner - the last one of a pack of two in the cupboard. ~~~ Fairy Active Dishwasher Cleaner ~~~The cleaner comes in tablet form – two 29g tablets in a pack for £4.10, so £2.05 a clean which is not dissimilar for the bottle varieties that you can also get. The little tablet looks very much like a regular dishwasher tablet and could easily be mistaken for one. The cleaner has a dual-layer formula with one part acting on grease and grim and the other targeting limescale. It’s simple to use and is much like other cleaners: 1. Ensure that your machine is empty, and do not use any other soap or detergent. 2. Place the tablet in the detergent dispenser 3. Close the door and run the dishwasher on ...

Seagate STEA1000400 1TB 22/08/2017

Excellent external drive for keeping my digital photos safe

Seagate STEA1000400 1TB ~~~ Why I bought it ~~~For most of my personal computing needs, I use my work laptop. I do have my own personal one but it’s now a pretty ancient and heavy machine that sits on my desk at home collecting dust and reminding me that I need to bite the bullet and splash out on a new model for myself. However, I don’t feel I can use my work computer for sorting, storing and generally playing around with my digital photos. It’s one of the few areas of my life where I bring some order and discipline to things – storing all my images from different cameras and multiple other devices (phones, iPad etc) in one place. And that one place is Mr. P’s laptop which itself is now getting pretty long in the tooth and I don’t want it to pack up without my being able to access my much loved photos.. At one time I used to back up all my images on to CD but that seems a little old hat now. But I have always worried that I have no backup and also when I do eventually get round to buying my own laptop, I will need a quick and easy way to transfer my image files on to it. So a few months ago I decided that the time had come to get my act together and I buy an external drive. My son had recently bought a Seagate drive that he had given a good report and so I did a search on Amazon and came up with this little number – to be precise the Seagate Expansion STEA1000400 1TB ~~~ Its vital statistics: ~~~Capacity: 1 TB Interface: USB 3.0 Data Transfer Rate: 5.0 Gbps (USB 3.0) Power Source: USB ...

The Tutankhamun Exhibition, Dorchester 12/08/2017

Walking like an Egyptian in Dorset

The Tutankhamun Exhibition, Dorchester As an impressionable pre-teenager, I was lucky enough to go on a school trip to see the Treasures of Tutankhamun at the British Museum in London in 1972. I loved it and can still remember craning my neck to see into the cabinets of glittering gold treasure over the other heads of my school companions. I guess like so many people, I find the whole ‘Pharaoh thing’ fascinating and years later I was able to visit the Valley of the Kings at Thebes and see King Tut’s treasure again in the Cairo Museum. I’m not an expert at all in the ancient Egyptians but I will watch any TV documentary on the subject that happens to be one and I did follow the recent TV series about Howard Carter who of course discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb and some would say fell victim to the Pharaoh’s curse, dying shortly afterwards. So when staying locally and I heard there was a Tutankhamun Exhibition in Dorchester, I had to go. ~~~ Finding it ~~~The Tutankhamun Exhibition is in the charming market town of Dorchester, 45 minutes from Bournemouth and Poole to the east and not that far from Weymouth to the West. Dorchester is in fact relatively easy to get to be train. I actually travelled down on South West trains from London Waterloo and was met at South Dorchester station by a friend who lives in a neighbouring village. On the day of our visit to the Exhibition we drove back into Dorchester and parked at one of the town centre’s car parks. Dorchester is a market town and we picked market day (a Wednesday) ...

Rockefeller Center, New York 09/08/2017

65 floors up at the Rock

Rockefeller Center, New York John Rockefeller founded the Standard Oil Company in 1870 in Cleveland and became one of the world’s wealthiest men. It was his son, another John, who set about building the Rockefeller Centre in New York. The Centre itself is huge – spanning 22 acres and comprising 19 separate buildings. It was built during the Great Depression creating much needed employment and took 9 years to complete. When it opened in 1933 America had its first multi-use retail, office and entertainment area. It even had heated buildings and indoor parking – hugely innovative in its day. It is still one of New York’s top tourist attractions. ~~~ Location ~~~The Rockefeller Centre actually spans several blocks of midtown Manhattan - between 47th & 50th Streets and 5th & 7th Avenues. There's a lot to see and you need a map to navigate yourself around the enormous complex. It includes the NBC Studios where the famous US Today Show, and Saturday Night Live are broadcast. Of course one of the most famous parts of the Centre is Lower Plaza which is turned into an ice rink during the winter and is an outdoor eating space in the summer. At one end stands the gold statute of Prometheus which apparently is the most photographed monumental sculpture in New York City. What was quite unexpected was the 45-foot blow up ballerina bending down to do up a ballet show at looming over Prometheus, more so because it wasn’t there when we visited our first evening in New York. However, it was very much there when we ...

Boots No7 360 Lash Mascara 04/08/2017

Going round in circles with this 360 masacara

Boots No7 360 Lash Mascara It’s a long time since I’ve actually chosen and bought a mascara. I tend to rely on ‘freebies’ that come in beauty boxes (so I know they aren’t exactly free but you get my drift) or free gifts with Boots purchases. My Lash 360 mascara is a mini version that came in one of those Boots gift packs. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~ On the negative side ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~ As a give away that may be designed to encourage me to go out and buy the full size version, I am afraid that on this occasion it hasn’t worked. I’m pretty ambivalent about this mascara. My little 4.5 ml tube gives a reasonable coverage but doesn’t really have that glamour effect that I’m looking for. It promises to deliver outstanding 360-degree volume to every single lash don’t feel that it gives my lashes any length or real volume. I need to layer on several coats until I get anything like a visible result. The mascara is billed as hypoallergenic. However, the first time I used this mascara my eyes really started to water up and irritate. It only ever happened the once and I really don’t know why, but within a few minutes of applying the mascara, my eyes were really running and I had to take off my make-up and start again. I’ve never had a reaction to mascara before so I wonder whether it was a combination of factors and as I say it’s not happened since. Of course hypoallergenic is a bit of a marketing con. It’s really just a relative term meaning that a product causes less allergic reactions than others; it’s not allergy ...

National September 11 Memorial & Museum, New York 02/08/2017

No Day Shall Erase You from the Memory of Time

National September 11 Memorial & Museum, New York Like so many people, I have a really vivid memory of where I was on 11 September 2001 when I heard the news stories begin to trickle through about the terrorist attacks in the USA and watched in horror as we saw images of the planes crashing into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York. I was at work in London and we crowded into the foyer of our own tower block to watch the TV and worry as communications went down and we were unable to contact our colleagues in the New York office. They were several miles away in the tall MetroLife (formerly the PanAm) building and so safe although facing long and difficult journeys home as the city infrastructure went into meltdown. The impact of those dreadful events has been immense and the personal tragedies enormous. Nearly 3000 people died in the four incidents and the world watched to see how the site which became known as Ground Zero would be rebuilt. In its place is a now fitting and deeply moving memorial to all those involved. ~~~ Location and tickets ~~~The National 11 September Memorial and Museum is in New York’s financial district in Lower Manhattan. It’s easy to get to by subway and we made the short walk to the Memorial from Fulton Street Station. The memorial is a public area but there is an entrance fee to the museum and we heeded our guidebook advice and booked ahead on line. Well worth doing as we avoided the queues and walked straight through to the museum entrance where you go through airport-type ...

Percy & Reed Perfectly Perfecting Wonder Balm 28/07/2017

Attempting to Perfectly Perfect my hair with this Wonder Balm

Percy & Reed Perfectly Perfecting Wonder Balm I’ve received a number of Percy & Reed products in beauty boxes and this Wonder Balm came in my M&S Christmas advent calendar. Needing a small tube for travelling, I remembered that I had this 30 ml version of the Wonder Balm safely stored in a bathroom cupboard, which I duly retrieved and put in my washbag for my latest trip. ~~~ Percy & Reed ~~~So I have to confess that I’ve not heard of either of them, but both Paul ‘Percy’ Percival and Adam Reed are apparently British hair stylists to the stars. They say “we’ve spent decades working with the best in the business, jet-setting around the world, tending to the locks of the famous and glamorous (and a lot of fun it’s been, too).” Wanting to help out the rest of us, Percy and Reed magnanimously opened a salon in London and have come out with a line of products bearing their name. Their packaging is quite quirky and pretty, almost vintage style with glamor girl motifs on a white background. ~~~ Where to buy ~~~The full size (75 ml) version is normally 18.00 and you can find it in a number of high street stores including M&S. At the time of writing (July 2017) the shopping channel. QVC, is doing a great deal on it – a limited edition, double-size Wonder Balm for just £16 (ie less than half price). ~~~ Wonder Balm ~~~The Perfectly Perfecting Wonder Balm “preps and primes your hair in readiness for all styling products and techniques”. It promised to detangle, smooth, add shine, hydrate, fight frizz, protect against humidity ...
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