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since 25/05/2003

32 30/01/2007

A Great Lay Groan - couldn't resist the pun, sorry. This is a review specifically of CarpetRight in Stevenage, on Roaring Meg retail park - I have heard bad things about another branch so I can only comment on this one. I felt compelled to write about CarpetRight in Stevenage because I received such good customer service and that seems to be a rare thing these days. THE STORE Big, warehouse-style shop, with huge rolls of carpets at the back and smaller carpet samples at the front of the shop. As well as selling carpets, they also sell underlay, laminate flooring, and rugs. THE STAFF I can't praise one staff member enough, and the others were also very helpful. I think he's a manager there but I don't think I'm allowed to mention his name here, so let's call him "Dave". The store is staffed by two people behind a desk - not a standard payment desk but also customer service - they do bookings there as well as taking money - more like an office with a desk. There are also staff on the shop floor to help you with queries. BUYING A CARPET We chose an Egyptian carpet that was on special offer for that day only, reduced by £2 per m sq to £6.99. For ease we decided to have it throughout our house, and for two downstairs rooms, the stairs and hall, and three bedrooms it cost us £750 including installation. Once we had decided on the colour, "Dave" sat us down at a desk and helped us work out how many m sq we'd need, by drawing a complex plan according to the measurements we'd ...

ScS Sofas 24/01/2007

Shoddy customer Service

ScS Sofas I've worked out what ScS stands for: Shoddy customer Service. How could I have been so stupid as to not realize this and actually spend a lot of money on a sofa from them? Silly me. Seriously, I would like to warn you to be wary of buying from ScS (at least in Stevenage, which is where I draw my experience from). Here's my analysis: IN-STORE Spacious store on a retail park (Roaring Meg, Stevenage), decked out like many different little living rooms in different colours. Ferocious heating in patches (so you can't really sit on the affected sofas for long) as it's pumped out from the warehouse unit's roof in big pipes. We walked in and it must have been a quiet day (despite being a Saturday) as 3 sales assistants (all men) followed us around as we browsed, each lurking at a distance at different angles from us, as if circling their prey (I now realize they actually were!). We turned down offers of help and said we were still looking, then approached one of them when we had questions. He was informed (told us the fabric of the sofa) but didn't have the swatch book for that particular sofa as it "had been lost a few weeks ago and hadn't turned up". Good job we liked the colour it came in on the shop floor then. He lent us his measuring tape, which was helpful. ORDER AND PAYMENT We returned to the store at a later date to order the sofa and armchair of our choice. This was in early November. There were signs up everywhere boasting of guaranteed Christmas delivery (not ...

Cranium Whoonu 17/11/2005

Who knew it would be this much fun?

Cranium Whoonu This has to be one of the best games I've played - in line with the original Cranium board game, but a different kind of fun. I can't recommend Whoonu enough. You will learn things about your friends/family that you didn't know could be true, like who has a fondness for hairy backs and sprouts. First, the NAME: I figured out, after reading the rules and playing it, that it's not pronounced "woo-noo" and is actually "who-noo", as in American "Who knew?". This is the only corny American part to the game though, thankfully (the cards are UK English)! Next, the PRICE: Whoonu is £14.99 from Amazon online. Amazon seem to have an exclusive deal with Cranium to sell this game, so you can't get it anywhere else, which I think is a shame - plus it means you have to pay extra for the postage. CONTENTS: The game comes in a funky orange tin, that's got wavy edges at the sides. With it you get 6 stacks of differently coloured tokens, a special envelope, and 300 cards. PLAY: Whoonu takes about 15 minutes to play (but you end up playing several rounds as it's so much fun, trust me) and is for 3 to 6 players (though a bigger crowd of us ended up adapting it for 8 players). It's for ages 8 years to adult, and is just as suitable to play among adults (good dinner party game) as it is to play as a family game with kids. The aim of the game is to guess other players' favourite things (from the things mentioned on the cards) and score points for being correct. There are six ...

Samsung SGH-E760 07/11/2005

Small and perfectly formed (well, almost...)

Samsung SGH-E760 This is my first "technical" review I think. I'll try to keep it as concise as possible! I got a new phone a couple of weeks ago, the Samsung E760, which is a flip phone. It came free with a T-mobile deal from the Link, though it retails at £59.99 apparently. The phone is mostly black (a smooth, rubbery, very tactile substance) with metallic silver on the front cover. Overall, this is a great phone - it has what I want in a phone at least, in that it's small enough to fit in the tightest of pockets (you can even close your fist over it), has a camera, and the ability to upload photos/ringtones to it. It has many more impressive features than that, too, as well as all the standard features you'd expect. The most striking things about the phone are its small size (specs below), light weight, and the cool graphics. And it also has a movement recognition feature, which is one of the things that makes me think this phone is aimed mainly at kids. It's fun, but the novelty does soon wear off, and it's not useful for much! The movement recognition means in certain modes you can shake the phone or move it in different ways (e.g. side to side) to make it do things on the menu, or to make moves in some of the games it includes. For example, in the "Shake and Play" menu is a pair of dice that appear on the screen (see pic attached). When you shake the phone, the dice shake (and make a satisfying dice-shaking sound) until you stop moving the phone, then they land on random ...

Johnson's Holiday Skin Body Lotion 31/10/2005

Sun-kissed Skin

Johnson's Holiday Skin Body Lotion I have to start by saying this product is a godsend. It's so good to be able to use a mess-free, simple fake tan product that takes seconds to apply and doesn't streak, on a daily basis instead of a body moisturizer. I've been using this pretty much since it came out about a year ago. Johnson's Holiday Skin comes in two shades - Normal to Fair Skin and Normal to Darker Skin. As a pale-skinned person (with freckles) I started out on the fairer version with trepidation. I needn't have worried - it was fantastic. I progressed to the normal to darker skin when the shops were all out of the fairer version, and I've stuck with it ever since. I'm pale-skinned, but not extremely pale, and the normal to darker type works very well for me, giving me a natural-looking tan that's not overly dark. I got back 2 months ago from an idyllic 4-week honeymoon in the sun, where I managed to actually get a slight tan. I've maintained this tan with the Johnson's Holiday Skin, and honestly can't see any difference between my real tan and this fake one. APPLICATION: I apply this nearly every day - you can miss out 1-2 days and go back to it and still look pretty much the same colour. Use it all over your body like a moisturizer. Follow the instructions on the bottle, especially the part about washing your hands afterwards - and, as someone with long nails, I learnt to give my nails a quick scrub inside with a nailbrush, else it dyes them brown too. I use it when I get out of the shower ... 22/06/2004

Buyer Beware - misleading advertising This is an online mobile phone company, who offer mobile phones and mobile phone contracts with all the usual mobile phone companies. (I wanted to list this review under Buyer Beware, but I'm unable to as have already submitted a Buyer Beware review for another company, and you can only submit one review per category.) Last August, I was looking to switch to T-mobile from Vodaphone, and to upgrade my phone in the process. I could see from the T-mobile website that they had a good offer (free Nokia 8310, £11.99 monthly line rental, 750 free off-peak minutes to landlines and other T-mobiles, 50 free texts per month). Before I took that offer up, I looked around and found that most places offered the same deal. Except for, who also call themselves the Direct Fone Warehouse (on their correspondence). They offered the same deal but with a free gift of a personal CD player thrown in. So, who was I to refuse, and we’d (my boyfriend and I) been wanting a personal CD player to take on long journeys too, so it seemed perfect. As we were going to Washington D.C. (the longest flight I’ve ever done) that October, we were looking forward to having this for the journey. The phone delivery and connection all went smoothly and I have no complaints there. However, the covering letter that comes with the phone stated that the free gift was not available immediately, but that you must fax in your fourth monthly invoice to prove that you’ve paid your bills for the last 3 ...

Buyer Beware! (urgent warnings about products/services to avoid at all costs) 01/03/2004

Can I have my £25 back please, Argos?

Buyer Beware! (urgent warnings about products/services to avoid at all costs) I recently bought a washing machine from Argos online. I saw the one I wanted in their online store (note that I've made many reliable purchases from Argos online over the past few years). I rang up to find out if they would take my old machine away (given that I couldn't do that on my own) and install the new one. I was told that I could if I paid £25 for Express Delivery. So, I did so and sat back waiting for a smooth delivery (as with all my previous purchases). I'm pasting in the letter of complaint I sent to Argos, which explains my predicament. I then paste in their reply. I'm kind of stuck now - I don't know what to do. I'm still very angry, and their reply made me even angrier. Can anyone please advise me how I can pursue this issue and get my £25 back from Argos? Head of Customer Services Argos LTD 489-499 Avebury Boulevard Central Milton Keynes MK9 2NW February 8, 2004 Order #: ******** Dear Sir or Madam, I am very, very disappointed and upset by the service I received from your delivery agent on Friday (February 6, 2004). I’ve always been impressed by the service I’ve received from This can be seen in the many orders I’ve made from you over this past 12 months or more, and the subsequent praise I’ve conveyed to my friends, and written about on a popular consumer website. However, I’m now bitterly disappointed and unnecessarily inconvenienced by my recent order of a Beko washing machine from you (order no. *******). After ...

Lindt Christmas Chocolate 16/12/2003

What? A Lindt chocolate that's not delicious?!

Lindt Christmas Chocolate Well, alas, I've found a type of Lindt chocolate that doesn't measure up, and hence gets a "poor" rating. I was in a delicatessen the other day, browsing, and Lindt Christmas Chocolate caught my eye (actually, it begged me, please buy me, you know you want me…). Not least because it was Lindt chocolate, nor because I’m a greedy pig, but also because it has rather attractive packaging and it contains another favourite of mine, cinnamon. I’ll start with the packaging. It has the regimentary silver foil around the bar, and is then enclosed in bronze metallic-coloured paper, with gold embossed lettering (“Lindt”) and a gold frame. Inside the frame is a very good drawing (or is it a photo?) of some of the pieces of the chocolate and some cinnamon sticks and ground cinnamon. There are also gold stars scattered around the picture. Anyway, it’s quite pretty and expensive-looking I thought. The damage: £1.99 for a 100g bar. I think this is possibly slightly more expensive than if you bought it in a supermarket, as I did get it in a swanky deli. This type of Lindt chocolate is “milk chocolate with a smooth hazelnut filling and a hint of cinnamon and coriander”. Inside, there are about 12 pieces of the usual-looking Lindt chocolate, that is, a flat chocolate strip with rounded lumps of the filling coated with more Lindt chocolate. Each piece can be broken off quite easily. The smell on opening the packaging is that nice sweet chocolatey smell, with a big hint of cinnamon – ...

Sally Hansen Hard as Nails 15/12/2003

Great all-rounder

Sally Hansen Hard as Nails I’ve used Sally Hansen Hard as Nails for about 2 years now. As you may know, I’m a bit of a nail varnish addict, and never have naked nails. I do my nails once a week generally, and I find they break if I don’t wear nail varnish. Hard as Nails is the best all round basecoat/topcoat/strenghener/glosser that I’ve found. And it doesn’t cost the earth, like some products of similar quality do. It comes in a slightly differently shaped bottle to other nail varnishes (see pic), in that it’s cylindrical and the lid is quite flat. This doesn’t affect usage in any way. The brush is very good – just the right shape for a neat application. The smell is as you’d expect – normal pungent nail varnish smell. It comes in two colours – completely clear with no tint, and clear with a slightly pink tint. I find both are just as good as the other, but tend to buy the untinted one mostly, as then it doesn’t tint the colour I’m applying it over at all. It generally costs £2.95 from Wilkinsons, or also from Superdrug, and comes on a piece of cardboard, encapsulated in plastic, so you’ll likely find it hanging up rather than on a shelf. I have also seen, in Boots and Superdrug, the same product but in a different shaped bottle (more conventionally shaped and with a very long lid), priced at between £4.95 and £5.95! I can assure you, this is exactly the same as the bottle I’m describing here, so don’t pay more! I have no idea why the two exist. So, to the varnish itself. It’s quite runny, ... 13/12/2003

Littlewoods online - rubbish, rubbish, rubbish DO NOT SHOP AT LITTLEWOODS ONLINE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES - because if something goes wrong their customer services are non-existant and they'll make your life a misery. Littlewoods have an online shopping site called Index, which sells a wide range of goods, including electrical items, household accessories, furniture, toys, and jewellery. The site is easily navigable from drop-down menus at the top or a search box you can type keywords in (though I think this search could be improved as I've found it easier to navigate the menus to what I want sometimes, when the search offers no results). The site offers 48-hour delivery on most items, but on larger items like furniture, once you've selected what you want (and added it to your basket) an idea of the delivery period will come up, which could vary from "within 3 days" to "greater than 3 weeks". The site also has a "gift finder", which allows you to select from drop-down menus things such as hobbies or special occasions that could apply to the person you're buying for, and then you can set the price. This gives you some ideas if you're stuck for them and saves wading around aimlessly. Goods are generally quite cheap from Littlewoods (as with Argos and other catalogue shops), and you sometimes find special offers. The site is secure, so when you fill in your name, address, and credit/debit card details you know they will be safe. You have the option of saving your account details so that next time you can log on and ...

Everything that starts with L ... 11/12/2003

Me, me, me

Everything that starts with L ... 1 Where were you born? North Tees Hospital, Teesside 2 D.O.B. 22.10.76 3 What is your name backwards? eoz 4 How long did it take you to figure that out? 1 second – it’s a short name. 5 What's your middle name? Jane. Plain Jane. Not even “Janie”… 6 How did you get your username? I sign off emails etc. as Zx to my friends, so one of them (now my boyfriend) started calling me “Zedex”. 7 First pet? Mogsy, a beautiful black, half-siamese cat, who lived to be 16 years old. Half-siamese black cats are the most beautiful to me. 8 Least favourite colour? Yellow, for clothes. I just don’t like it. Particularly yellow shirts on men. Never trust a man in a yellow shirt I say. Don’t know why, I can’t justify it, but it’s a feeling I get. 9 Favourite pie filling? Hmmm, not a big pie fan, but my grandma’s homemade blackberry and apple (from my parents’ garden) pies are fantastic. 10 HP sauce or tomato ketchup? Ketchup, but rarely. 11 Town or country? Country (says she, a city dweller). 12 Night or day? Day – I get tired at night. So long as it’s not a working day that is. 13 Arts or science? Arts, arts, arts, all the way. But then again, I couldn’t live without a bit of science to balance things, and it certainly makes sense to me (over religion). 14 Do you follow the news? Yes, though it gets depressing. I don’t know which is better – to be in the know and have worries, or to be blissfully ignorant. 15 Name a cool celebrity. Elvis. I ...

Lindt Lindor Milk Chocolate Bar 01/12/2003


Lindt Lindor Milk Chocolate Bar I like Lindt chocolate so when I was in my local Sainsbury's I picked up a type that I hadn't tried before as a treat. It's called Lindt Lindor (milk chocolate) and comes in a 100g bar with about 12-15 pieces that you break off. The packaging is bright red paper with a fairly simple design – the name in the middle, and three chunks of the chocolate in the bottom right corner. Inside, the chocolate is wrapped in silver foil. As well as coming in milk chocolate you can also get white chocolate, but I’ve not tried that. The bar costs about £1.59 to £1.79, depending on the Sainsbury’s you’re in (mine tend to up the prices cos it’s a smaller branch) but I recently bought some more as they were on special offer at two for £2.50 in Sainsbury’s. The chocolate slab is quite thin (about half a centimetre high) and each piece contains a gooey chocolate cream centre: it’s not just your standard Lindt chocolate. The smell upon opening the packaging is quite sweet and slightly chocolately - what you'd expect from milk chocolate. So, what does it taste like? I’m in heaven. This is possibly the nicest block of chocolate I’ve ever had. I am almost orgasmic. For starters, the Lindt chocolate is delicious – if I have to compare it to cheaper chocolates, I’d say it’s more like Mars Galaxy chocolate than Cadbury’s chocolate. It’s very creamy and quite sweet. But it’s far superior to Galaxy chocolate – you’re paying for that Swiss chocolate quality. The chocolate cream inside is like ...

Freedom2surf 28/11/2003

Freedom2Surf Home ADSL Broadband

Freedom2surf We've been with Freedom2Surf ( for 15 months now. We switched to them when we wanted to get broadband at home (rather than dial-up Internet connection) and they seemed to be the cheapest around. They still seem to be one of the cheapest, though I haven't done massive research. I recently saw an offer for Tiscali broadband at £15.99 per month, but it's not for such a fast connection (ours is 10x faster, theirs is 2x at that price I think) so we're sticking with Freedom2Surf despite being quite loyal to the Tiscali brand as have used them in the past for Internet and use them for phone calls currently. Anyway, I digress. Freedom2Surf provide several different Internet ISP packages, but I only have experience of their "Home" broadband package so that is what I'll describe. It costs £22.50 per month and for that you get 10x faster speed than a dial-up modem. With ADSL broadband you get 24-hour access to the net and it doesn't interfere with your phone calls - i.e. you can be online and talk on the phone/receive calls. You only pay the monthly fee, so you don't pay per usage. For me, 10x faster equates to the speed of Internet I'm used to in the office, which is what most offices have - i.e. they're on a network or something so they have fast Internet. To me, I don't think my Internet speed could be any faster than it is now, so 10x seems to be perfect. Another advantage is that you don't have to wait long to dial-up, and you get online first time ...

Osteopathy 19/11/2003

Cranial Osteopathy

Osteopathy I've been seeing a cranial osteopath for a couple of months now, every 2 weeks. And it's fantastic! I've got a back problem called coccydynia, which means basically the base of my spine hurts when I sit down or put any pressure on it (great when you have to sit all day at work and in most social situations, eh?). But hey ho. I've tried many many things over the past 3 years (NHS, private, alternative and conventional), and this is the best so far. I've tried conventional osteopathy, which was overall great, and i learnt more about my condition and how it works but they tended to cause me quite a bit of pain after sessions until one day a friend recommended her cranial osteopath, who is very gentle. Cranial osteopathy works on the principle that your cranium reflects your body (forgive me if I don't know all the ins and outs of how it works though) and so the practitioner holds your head in their hands and manipulates your cranium (though you honestly don't feel a thing, but she's doing something, believe me). This is all after assessing you as a normal osteo does, cos they're classically trained. It's extremely relaxing, and she tells me things that she interprets from holding my skull, like how the body is trying to heal itself now, and she can feel the coccyx changing shape (it is happening physically too, i can see it). She also freaks me out by holding my head and saying do i have digestive problems (she was right, i'd had a tummy bug that time I saw her) or do I ...

Recipes for Sauces 19/11/2003

How to make an easy white sauce

Recipes for Sauces I thought I’d tell you how I make white sauce, which is a staple for many dishes and some people think it’s quite hard to make so might buy it in a packet or not make certain dishes. I don’t do it from a recipe, but from what my mum showed me years ago, so the measurements aren’t exact and you get used to how much to put in by making it a few times. This recipe (1pt milk) makes enough to use in a lasagne for 4-6 people, or for macaroni cheese for 2-4 people. You need: *1 pint milk (I tend to use skimmed as that’s what we have in but tastes slightly creamier with semi-skimmed) *heaped desert spoon of plain flour *butter: about a level desert spoonful (a bit less than the amount of flour you put in) *salt and pepper *a balloon whisk and a pan big enough to take more than 1pt of milk (i.e. allows it to bubble up). 1. Heat the milk in the microwave so it’s hot but not boiling (2 mins in 850w). This helps it to blend in with the flour and butter I find. 2. Put the knob of butter in your pan and heat it till it melts (lowish heat). Now add the flour to form a paste (stirring with balloon whisk) that’s similar to the consistency of play-dough. You can add more or less flour or butter to get this consistency. Stir it around a bit on lowish heat, and let it cook like this for about 1 min. Don’t worry if it looks a bit messy and lumpy, it’s meant to at this point. 3. Take the pan off the heat and add a little bit of the hot milk at a time, stirring it in well ...
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