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So we get to be ambassadors and rewrite Ciao's entire website and layout for............................nothing!! zilch!! nada!! Learn English and do the job you are paid for Ciao!!!

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since 11/03/2014


Fiesta de la Clotxa, Benissanet 08/05/2017

Thou shall have a fishy, On a little dishy

Fiesta de la Clotxa, Benissanet I have just finished my breakfast and thought you might like me to tell you about it....Not that interested?? No I don't blame you! But actually my breakfast was more interesting than most, as it was eaten in the company of around 1000 other people in the warm spring sunshine. Welcome to yet another Spanish Fiesta. The Spanish love their fiestas. It is indeed hard to make it through any month of the year without at least a smallish one happening somewhere. The word itself can actually mean any type of holiday day, from a day when you don't have to go to work like Sunday to a full blown party with balloons and cake..or anything in between. This particular fiesta (or in the Catalan language, festa) was more of your sedate type with hundreds of Spanish people doing what they like to do most in the world...eating, and more importantly eating in company. Ribera De Ebre Ribera de Ebre (loosely translated as “the river edges of the Ebro") is a geographical area, similar to a county, consisting of 14 small villages and towns clustered around the banks of the River Ebro, the largest river in Spain. Located in Southern Catalunya, these 14 villages share the fortunes and misfortunes of rural life, banding together occasionally for sports events, fiestas, political spats and of course petty rivalries. With Mora D' Ebre as the largest and the area capital, the towns included are Mora la Nova, Benissanet, Miravet, Garcia, Vinebre, Asco, Ginestar, Flix, Riba Roja D' Ebre, Tivissa, ...

Melissa Cafe, London 11/03/2017

Well my idea of heaven, Is a nice cup of tea!

Melissa Cafe, London To some of you it may seem like I am reviewing a very obscure little cafe, for no reason at all, but for anyone who uses Britain's network of public transport, and in particular coaches, I hope that this could be useful. If you are a long distance coach user, then it is very likely that you have at some point ended up in Victoria Coach Station in the heart of London. This very unedifying and rather scruffy place is a central hub for many coach journeys, and I often find I that one of the legs of my journey will be going in the wrong direction in order to transfer to another coach here. Why they still insist on driving coaches through the congested streets of London to this inadequately sized bus station is beyond me, on my last journey it took over an hour in rush hour traffic to just cross the Thames in order to continue our journey north. But because it is located right in the heart of London you do get compensated when the coach you paid peanuts for drives right past the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Harrods, The Tower of London and Tower Bridge, with fleeting views of the Shard thrown in...shame the driver doesn't give a running commentary. Anyway, when you finally arrive at Victoria Coach station, not to be confused with Victoria Tube or Train station, it is likely you will have some time to kill while waiting for the next link in your journey. While space within the departures section has been thoughtfully given over to various overpriced food franchises, ...

Lifeventure Vacuum Thermal Mug 01/03/2017

One more cup of coffee for the road

Lifeventure Vacuum Thermal Mug So how do I review a cup?? that is the question niggling at the back of my brain. I mean it's a cool cup and all that but it is, at the end of the day, just a round utensil for dispensing liquid to the mouth...what is there to say? But say it I shall, or attempt to! Why we have this in our house My youngest son has now decided he is a biker, having progressed from the moped he bought to get backwards and forwards from work to Uni, to a 600cc beast he intends to whip around Europe on. It is currently parked in a garage in Spain while he went back to the UK for work, and the rest of the family took this as a cue for choosing his Christmas presents with a compact and travel worthy theme. This mug was one of the presents his older brother got for him, as he has the same model and swears by it. Being a mountaineer, snowboarder and travelling a lot in his job he has found his cup invaluable and wanted his little brother to have one too. Lifeventure Thermal Mug This mug is designed to keep hot drinks hot or cold drinks cold. Nothing more, nothing less. It doesn't provide easy sipping options, taps or lids that turn into tiny cups. It just does what it says on the tin...and does it very well! It consists of a tall metal mug 4.75” (12cm) tall x 2.5” (6.6 cm) in diameter at the base, getting slightly wider just below the stainless steel lip, and holds 300ml of fluid. On the inside it is a shiny seamless stainless steel making it easy to clean and keep hygienic. On the outside it ...

Catfishing Caspe, Caspe 25/02/2017

Fish are jumping, And the cotton is high

Catfishing Caspe, Caspe Me and fishing?? It really doesn't add up does it? But yet, life has a funny way of biting you on the bum and much to my surprise and consternation, last summer I found myself sitting on a river bank participating-ish in the most prolific hobby in the world. It just so happens that the husband of a very good friend of mine is a mahoosive fishing addict and for his 40th birthday last year, she decided to arrange for him to have the fishing trip of a lifetime on the River Ebro in Spain. As I spend a lot of my time in Spain, I was very much involved with the planning and arranged to spend two days with them during their holiday. The rest of the experiences have been recounted in detail to me for this review. Caspe She, of course knew nothing about fishing at all, but although I am not interested myself, I knew the fame of the river Ebro which is the best location in the world for fishing the giant Wels catfish. as it flows though my adopted town in the Catalunyan region of Spain, so I was able to give her a few tips. Down in Catalunya the river has spread out a bit and is free flowing towards the sea...very difficult to fish indeed although there are some good specimens for those with perseverance. Up above the many dams, however, the fish are trapped and I was well aware that these were the places to find the real specimen catfish and carp, and a much more sensible choice for the holiday maker with limited time. In particular, a prime fishing spot (and record breaking fish) ...

ThruNite TN12 19/02/2017

In the city of blinding lights

ThruNite TN12 The more you see the less you know How I came to use the torch A recent weekend stay with friends who were enjoying a fishing holiday near where I stay saw us deciding to take a long moonlight walk in the Spanish countryside. My friends husband wanted to go and take a look at the water at night (night-time fishing is not allowed), and she and I wanted to climb a small local mountain-ette, so we set out to combine the two on the Friday evening around 9pm...what exciting lives we do lead! Being stupid holiday makers were we rather blasé about our plans...I mean what could possibly go wrong when you are on holiday in the summer sun, surely the full moon and the romance of it all would see us through. But their ever practical fishing guide was a bit more sensible and insisted we wear proper cover up footwear, carried at least one walking stick in case of encountering any of the local wildlife, took his mobile phone and most usefully to us, his torch, a ThruNite TN12 Did we need all these precautions? oh yes indeedy....thank goodness for sensible people. The Spanish countryside is full of wild, harsh and incredibly scratchy plant life, our planned flip-flops would have been a disaster, and even wearing shorts left us with scratched legs. The walking stick was used to help stop us slipping on the steep declines we encountered rather than fending off random wildlife, and the torch lit our way brilliantly, as well as helping us plan our onward route. And half way up the first ...

Car Cane Mobility Aid 12/02/2017

Will you still need me, Will you still feed me

Car Cane Mobility Aid Last time I got into my Dad's car, he said "careful you are sitting on my cane thingy" I am not admitting to having a large (and largely apparently numb) posterior, but I hadn't even noticed. I soon retrieved it from the depths of my derrière and examined it closely. Good job he is still relatively fit and out there doing it, because I spent the rest of the day insisting on using it each time I got in and out of the car, and mulled over the possibility of using those disabled bays in the supermarket on the strength of it, but in the end we compromised on the parent and child bays...well I am a child at heart and I was with my father! sue me! So what is it I am sure you have all seen those overkill, hard sell, afternoon cheap-slot, TV adverts with the shouty American on the more obscure channels offering the solution to all mobility problems getting in and out of cars. I watched them thinking what a gimmick, but wasn't surprised when I heard that one of my sisters had fallen for the hype and bought one for dad. The Car Cane looks like the top of a traditional walking stick, but just the top bit only. A right angled lump of 1/2" ( 10cm) square aluminium bar, it is basically just a really solid handle. The vertical portion is about 4" long in total (10cm) with around 2" (5cm) of unadorned aluminium bar, chamfered into a blunt point at the end. The horizontal portion is a handle of about 6" long (15cm) covered with a shaped and rubberised hand grip, in a bright black ...

Shoe Zone Womens Moulded Flip Flop Sandals 05/02/2017

Life on the flip side

Shoe Zone Womens Moulded Flip Flop Sandals What is it with shop take-overs. We have had a Stead & Simpson in our high street for as long as I can remember and now suddenly they are becoming ShoeZone. Has the new kid on the block taken over the more established brand or vice versa? Anyway, big business machinations apart, the result is even less choice on the high street as two shops are amalgamated into one. Seeing the bold red “closing down sale” stickers emblazoned all over the Stead & Simpson shop windows I popped in, never being one to pass up on a bargain. Unfortunately all the reduced price shoes were either ugly, impractical or not particularly cheap, so I settled on this pair of “'white moulded flip-flops which at £2.99 were not even in the sale, but cheap enough for my purse strings to have no resistance. I handed over my 299 pennies in delight thinking I had an excellent bargain, and sailed out of the shop with a big grin on my face. How Cheap is Too Cheap? I literally live in flip flops all summer!! I buy two or three cheap pairs (under a fiver) in May and that's me done till September when I throw them in the bin. They are very rarely fit to be kept till next year as I walk loads and do not treat my shoes, or my feet for that matter, with any care or attention. They are there to do a job, which is to be as light and unobtrusive as possible, as quite frankly I would rather be barefoot if I could get away with it. So any flip-flops I buy, including these white moulded flip-flops have to fit the bill on ...

VAX C89-P6N-P Power 6 PET 30/01/2017

In Dust We Trust

VAX C89-P6N-P Power 6 PET I am currently annoying my daughter and son-in-law by filling up my their brand new house with my presence. The poor couple have just bought a four bedroom house and has found themselves putting a roof over the heads of Hubby and I while we house hunt and to cap it all off her youngest brother has turned up too, a little lost and footloose after finishing Uni....good job they bought a big house! To try and make the burden easier to bear, Hubby is doing building work to improve the house, fixing poorly built walls, plastering, rehanging doors etc., while I do my best to keep the house tidy, do the laundry and cook the meals. It seems to work and no major fallouts have happened...yet! In the course of doing what I can to fight the constant dust from the DIY and the never-ending dog and cat hair, I have to hoover most days. The first time I picked up their vacuum cleaner to use, My son-in-law said "you're not going to use the hoover from h**l are you?" Of course he is from the younger generation and knows nothing so I told him it's either that or I lick the floors clean. I have now been using their VAX C89-P6N-P Power 6 PET vacuum cleaner on a regular basis for over two months, and have concluded that my son-in-law is absolutely correct...this is indeed the "hoover from h**l", ( even though it is not made by that illustrious manufacturer) and should be consigned back there for all eternity. full stop! Oh you want to know more? well OK then if I must.... Appearance This is ...

Cameras or smart phones: how do you capture magical moments? 22/01/2017

And all I've got is a photograph

Cameras or smart phones: how do you capture magical moments? Back when the world was black and white I know it's impossible to believe but I am a child of the sixties and have therefore seen amazing changes in the world of cameras. My Dad was a big photo taker, but in those days taking a photo was reserved for high days and holidays only. His camera was an ordinary basic level jobbie, but still large and bulky in it's leather case around his neck as we hiked up Snowdon or built sand castles on Lowestoft beach. With only 24 or 32 photos possible, thought and care had to be applied as to which photos to take and the precious negatives were generally turned into slides so he could torture us with endless slide shows. A few special photos were deemed good enough for the family album, a large black-leafed book in which the photos are held via tiny corner pockets and my dad's beautiful copperplate writing adds funny or factual comments and dates with white ink and a nibbed pen kept especially for the process. Being the youngest child, many of my childhood memories were founded on looking at this album and hearing all the stories, rather than actual real life memories and it is very precious to all of us. Those Truprint days Fortunately or unfortunately, photography got cheaper. By the 80's cameras were no longer a luxury item, and postal services set up to develop photos for peanuts meant no more embarrassing moments at the counter in Boots when you just knew they had all laughed over the photos of you spilling sangria all over your ...

Fisherman's Rest Cottage, Burghead 15/01/2017

Welcome to the doll's house

Fisherman's Rest Cottage, Burghead Our recent trip to Scotland, although peppered with disasters, was totally worthwhile as we got to see our only grandchild, no longer a scrap of brave humanity inside an incubator, but a strong, healthy, lively young chap, crawling around and causing general mayhem wherever he goes. The young fellow lords it over a smallish three bedroom house, which his mum and dad are also allowed to inhabit, nowhere near big enogh for the original five of us making the trip up, so we decided to book a holiday cottage in the nearby village of Burghead , not far from our son and daughter-in law's (sorry grandson's) home. A short gripe Holiday homes in the highlands, and especially on the whisky trail, can be pretty pricey and we always struggle to find a reasonably priced one. Unfortunately "Harbour View" in Findochty which we have previously stayed in was not taking guests, so we turned to holiday site to search for a suitable and affordable property. I am not so keen on these big companies anymore, as a former owner of a holiday home myself, I am well aware that they have very aggressive business practices, buying up all the small independent companies over the last decade, raising their advertising prices, and manipulating their search engines so that the customer sees the properties that they make the most commission from, not necessarily what is best for them. Hefty commission is also now charged from to both the owner and the holidaymaker, making it a very ...

Cards Against Humanity 06/01/2017

The party's over, as the laughter dies

Cards Against Humanity Cards Against Humanity A party game for horrible people UK edition age : 17+ 4 - 20 people 30 - 90 minutes. www. developed by : eight fat yanks originally funded by : Kickstarter This may well be my first ever game review, and no I haven't suddenly become addicted to the Xbox or PS4, and my Wii hasn't been turned on in around 2 years. But what did happen, on 2nd January, was that we all sat round as a family, playing a brand new card game and laughing our heads off. That may sound quite normal to the rest of the world, but in our house board games are deadly serious and super competitive. A game of Monopoly or Risk can go on for 4 or 5 hours, or until the winner has totally annihilated all the other players, very much fun for the winner, but a bit boring and monotonous for the inevitable loser (me), and hence why we don't play these games very much. Cards Against Humanity This game however is quite different. This is a party game designed to be played by a group of happy people, preferably with alcoholic beverages in their hands. Although we did play it through to the bitter end, everyone was laughing their heads off the whole time and very little notice was taken of who was actually winning or losing, little victories could be granted to any one of the players at any point, but the opportunity to gloat was still granted to the eventual winner (Hubby of course). How is this possible you say? how can a simple card game be that much ...

Enterprise Rent A Car 03/01/2017

A Christmas tale

Enterprise Rent A Car After being a bit rubbish with my review writing of late, my personal new year's resolution is to get writing more regularly, and to make a start I have a nice positive five star review for you about receiving excellent and courteous extremely rare beast to encounter in today's brave new world. The Journey Begins It was the day before Christmas Eve and a crowd of us were travelling the length of this fair country of ours from most southerly tip of Southampton to the Highlands of Scotland to spend Christmas with our infant grandson....not his first Christmas as he arrived unexpectedly early the previous year, but the first Christmas he was aware of. In the travelling party were myself and Hubby, our eldest daughter and her husband, our youngest son and our big hairy hound, Zac. Not of course to mention the biggest pile of presents you have ever seen. We had considered hiring a car for the 600 mile journey, but decided that we would really need either two cars to be comfortable or a small minibus/people carrier and the price of this put us off. During this search we used the Enterprise website with it's distinctive green colour-way, getting a quick and competitive price via simple "where, when and what car" personal details were needed unless we went ahead with the booking. In the end we decided to travel in my daughter's spacious Chrysler Voyager, no spring chicken it's true, but a car originally built for motorway cruising in style. Setting ...

Vac4Life Health Plan 08/12/2016

and a dog named Boo

Vac4Life Health Plan Sharing your life with a dog comes complete with obligations and responsibilities along with the love and companionship. Dogs. as with any other pet, must be fed, watered, housed, exercised, amused and kept healthy. All of this can be expensive, in particular any veterinary treatments and vaccinations. While it is not obligatory to vaccinate your dog, it is a jolly good idea and up to date vaccinations will be required if you wish to kennel you dog while you go away on holiday, or indeed take him with you if you are going abroad. For quite a few of the past years , we have travelled backwards and forwards to Spain with both cats and dogs, and their vaccinations have been carried out by a Spanish vet who charges just 50 odd euros for both the regular annual booster ( Distemper, Infectious Canine Hepatitis, Parvovirus and Leptospirosis) and a rabies booster, keeping their pet passports up to date and ship-shape as well as protecting our animals from some of the nasties out there. So it was quite a surprise when, in October 2015, having realised that the year anniversary was creeping up on us of welcoming Zac into our lives, we started phoning round local English vets to get a price for the regular annual booster only. Zac is a slightly neurotic, overly large, lovable, friendly and extremely hairy German Shepherd dog, whom we adopted from a rescue centre two years ago. Like all rescue dogs he came to us micro-chipped, castrated and fully vaccinated leaving us with just the ...

The Dancing Man Brewery, Southampton 06/12/2016

Oh,oh what a feeling...

The Dancing Man Brewery, Southampton On a recent visit to my daughter and her husband in Southampton, we all decided to have a quick beer before heading home after a long Sunday afternoon enjoying ourselves hunting out bargains. Having recently moved to the other side of the river they had not yet settled on a favourite local, so various pubs that they knew were discussed on the journey home until they both settled on The Dancing Man as a venue that they thought would appeal to us. location & Accessibility Town Quay Southampton SO14 2AR The Dancing Man brewery/pub is located on the corner of Town Quay and Bugle Street, close to the main city centre and the waterfront and immediately opposite the The Royal Thai Pier. Unfortunately a short drive for my daughter and her husband unless they fancy a bracing 40 minute walk. The closest places to park our car were by the registry office in Bugle St, or where we left our car by the city walls in Western Esplanade, around a 250yd walk along ancient undulating pavements and crossing one quiet road on which I saw no dropped kerbs. All parking in central Southampton has to be paid for until 10pm, but at least it was just 50p per hour after 6pm. The nearest bus stop would be at Dock gate 4, around 400yds away served by the X4 and X5. Alternatively the West Quay stop outside the main shopping centre is around 500-600 yds away and is served by multiple routes. The pub itself can be accessed easily by wheelchairs or people of limited mobility, with seating and toilets on ...

Grafters Lined Rigger Safety Boots 09/10/2016

One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you!

Grafters Lined Rigger Safety Boots The product I requested from Ciao, and which I will be reviewing here is specifically Grafters M021A Men's S1 SRC Safety Rigger Boots Black Having recently written a review about Hubby's work trousers, Dickies Redhawk, which he has been wearing for around 6 years, it occurred to me that I hadn't written about the most obvious piece of work wear he uses, his boots! Hubby is famous for living and dying in his rigger boots, they literally never come off his feet, even wearing them to weddings and funerals alike, and the family are unphased, these days, when he opens the front door in a dressing gown and boots. Understandably, he is very fussy about his boots...He likes them to be half a size too big for him to allow for movement and airflow, the lining has to be smooth, and most importantly the boots have to be up to the job and long lasting. Why Safety boots? When he started in the building trade, many millennia ago, Hubby would just wear any boot that came to hand, generally the Doc Marten lace up boots that were his style choice in those days, or a pair of trainers. This of course was before the days of the Health & Safety police, but most workers only have to drop a tool or a sheet of plywood on their toes once to realise that steel toecaps are a good idea. A protective inverted cup of thin but strong steel is hidden inside the boot covering the toe area and protects the whole top of the foot from blows and drops, essential in many of today's work environments. Hubby, ...
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