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conquit???? Brake to buy???? what are you talking about Ciao!!

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since 11/03/2014


Les Olles, Bot 30/07/2017

Ooh, I go swimming, swimming in the water, swimming in the river

Les Olles, Bot I often spend my summer in Spain and last week, with my son and his girlfriend over to visit, I had to think of somewhere interesting to take them. Now where I stay in Rural Spain has hundreds of interesting places to visit and enjoy, but I wanted somewhere new and different, that would interest two twenty-five-year-olds who seemed to be bored of life and a fifty-four-year-old who is chomping at the bit to experience everything. It also had to be crowd free as they had had enough of beaches, markets and people-filled tourist spots. So I chose somewhere a friend had told me about recently….’’’Les Olles de Bot’’’ Les Olles Pronounced “oy yes”, literally translated from the Catalan this means “the pots” or “the saucepans” and is used to describe a small stream or river running through rocky terrain, which over the centuries has created a unique landscape perfect for recreational purposes. Small waterfalls have trickled or gushed (depending on the time of year) over smooth hard rocks and eroded away the softer rock beneath to create a series of deep pools, which the locals adopt as natural swimming pools and try to keep as secret as they can from outsiders. There are many “olles” dotted around the Tarragona province, mostly created by tributaries of the mighty River Ebro, some are well signposted but only locally, so you have to know where to go in the first place, some are very difficult to find, and many dry up completely in the hottest summers, although this one in Bot was ...

Dualit Cordless Jug Kettle 13/07/2017

When the troubles of the day are over

Dualit Cordless Jug Kettle I have some very lucky charity shop finds: Never worn boots in my size, tops that go exactly with a pair of trousers I just bought, ornamental shoes and thimbles that I know I can sell to obsessive collectors in a different country, you name it I have found it. Kettles however, are a new phenomenon...many charity shops avoid electricals altogether due to rules and regulations, but I have found a small independent chain in a minor High Street in Southampton that deals in all sorts of electricals, testing them for safety in store and having a constant supply of interesting machines. Dualit jug kettle I previously picked up a rather nice stainless steel kettle made by Tesco for £3 from them when my existing one began to leak to the point that it was dangerous, and was most disappointed that I couldn’t review it here. But on my last visit I found this ‘’’Dualit lite 1.5l jug Kettle’’’ just sitting on the shelf calling to me….buy me, buy me it said….and indeed I did for the princely sum of £7. The rather nice Tesco one has been put in the cupboard as a spare, and my lovely, shiny, new-to-me, Dualit kettle is now supplying the copious cups of tea that I require. What does it look like It looks very stylish indeed in a rather retro 1950’s kind of way. A bright shiny stainless steel, flat bottomed elongated egg shape, 15cm at base x 24cm tall to the top of the knob, it draws the eye and says “this kitchen is a cool place to be”. The 2cm wide black plastic band around the base ... 20/06/2017

Ticket to ride Today I don’t have to go out. A delivery is expected and I am taking the excuse to stay in my PJ’s all day and mooch about on the internet. What exciting delivery am I waiting for you ask? Well, my suitcase of course….what else! Having bought way too many new clothes, shoes and generally gorgeous stuff on my recent trip to the UK, I realised that my usual 10kg of hand luggage just wasn’t going to cut it. No problem thinks I, I just nipped to my local charity shop, picked up a suitcase for a mere 99p in their sale corner because it had no wheels. Next job was to add it to my Ryanair booking as I checked in…..again no problem I thought….except that Ryanair wanted £40 of my hard earned dosh to carry a 15kg suitcase one way!! Into my mind popped a website I had heard of somewhere… I found their site and in 10 seconds had a quote of £31 for a 20kg bag. A quick read of their “how it works” page confirmed that the service would suit me fine, so the decision was made. The Website The website is bright, cheery and easy to read. Their main highlight colours are bright blue and orange, with the background broken up between light grey and white to split the text into bit size chunks. Their how it works page told me everything I needed to know with around 10 minutes of reading, but there is also an online chat service, a contact us form, a very detailed FAQ’s page, as well as a local call numbers in 8 different countries ( all English ...

Pickmaster Plectrum Punch 11/06/2017

While my guitar gently weeps

Pickmaster Plectrum Punch Well, the great and good people of Ciao have thoroughly surprised me once again! Firstly by allowing this category at all, and secondly by putting it under "office supplies"! Really? I went to great trouble to request it under "musical instruments>guitars>guitar accessories” but then hey...when did logic ever come into it! Pickmaster Plectrum Punch No one alerted you Now I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, musical. I love music and will sing badly and out of tune to many any earworm tune, but as for producing it myself with any type of instrument…forget it! And the genetics have passed down through all my family…even though two of them own guitars, neither can play. But we do collectively have many musical friends, so when we saw this at a car boot sale a couple of weeks ago, it could not be resisted…..after the stall holder had explained what it actually was of course And what actually is it? I don't know why nobody told you The ‘’’Pickmaster plectrum punch’’’ is a device for making your own plectrums out of any material that comes to hand. For those who are more unmusical than me, a plectrum (or pick) is a small rounded- edged, flat triangle, normally made of plastic, which is used to pluck or strum guitar strings. It gives a different sound than plucking with the fingers, and also saves a lot of blisters. Different picks will give different sounds, so the opportunity to make your own from a variety of materials would probably appeal to many guitar ...

Challenge High Velocity Tilting Fan 05/06/2017

defying the laws of gravity

Challenge High Velocity Tilting Fan My husband has to have fans blowing summer and winter. Night and day, whatever the month, doors and windows will be open and fans will be blowing might even call him a fan fan! (yeah that was terrible, I know!) So with the excessive heat we have been enjoying the last few weeks, the fans have been on full blast here at my daughter’s house where Hubby is once again knocking down walls and, hopefully, rebuilding them again in a different shape and position. In fact at some point during the week, our son-in-law decided to employ the big guns in the shape of the ‘’’ Challenge High Velocity tilting fan’’’. Challenge High Velocity Fan That's why they call me Mister Fahrenheit Even though our son-in-law is a mini me of Hubby, loving to potter about in his workshop, redesign both his car and his house on a regular basis, spend money, disrupt the household and generally annoy our daughter, this fan was actually not bought for the purpose it was designed…as a workshop fan. This fan was bought on that really roasting summer we had a while ago, when all the shops had run out of electric fans. Clever son-in-law found it in the DIY section of the Argos catalogue, proudly carrying it out of the local Argos shop past other sweltering customers who had just been told that the shop had run out of fans. This is a bit of a beast of a fan, with an 18” (46cm) diameter to its three flat squarish metal blades, surrounded by a stainless steel cage with an overall diameter of 20.5” (52cm). ...

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 ...
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