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Also bluejules on dooyoo and my reviews usually also appear there. Struggling to upload photos onto my Crowne Plaza review - will keep trying!

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since 17/06/2003


Crowne Plaza London St James, London 30/01/2012

If it's good enough for The Hoff...

Crowne Plaza London St James, London Introduction In October, I went to London with my parents to meet my MP as part of a mass mobilisation of Parliament (raising awareness of the importance of Speech and Language Therapy) and the RCSLT Giving Voice Awards Ceremony. We wanted a hotel that was in central London as I knew there wouldn’t be much time between meeting with my MP and getting ready to head back out for the evening Gala Dinner and Awards. My dad booked the flights well in advance but still hadn’t booked a hotel with only a couple of weeks to go so my mam decided to look online and found us this 4 star hotel for 2 nights. Having stayed in a Crowne Plaza previously I was pleased with this choice of hotel and couldn’t wait to get to London! This review is based on three adults staying in a suite for two nights in October 2011. On arrival We got the tube from Heathrow Airport, changed at Hammersmith and got off at St James’ Park. It was then less than a five minute walk to the hotel. Check-in was quick and the reception staff friendly. The lady presented us with our 3 key cards and told us how to find the lifts and our room. The reception area was large and clean, with seating areas and plenty of staff on hand to ask for assistance. There was a concierge desk and all the staff here were really friendly and provided accurate information about local attractions, how to get there etc. Once checked in, we made our way to the lifts in the hotel lobby. When we got there my mam said to me ...

Tesco Gummy Mix 22/01/2012

Fruity and Chewy!

Tesco Gummy Mix On Christmas Day we went to a local restaurant for our Christmas Dinner. After our main course one of the waiters, dressed as Santa, gave all the children a gift bag from his sack. As we are regulars at the restaurant, our children (my nephews and niece) got an extra one before we left, and my sister, brother-in-law and I also got one each! Inside my gift bag was a selection of sweets, one of which was a 100g bag of Tesco Gummy Mix. I got lots of sweets for Christmas and am still slowly working my way through them. I took my bag of Gummy Mix to work with me one day to help pass the time (I’m a weekend receptionist in a car dealership). The packet is bright and colourful and looks appealing to children. The packet has a cartoon boy on the front, fishing, with a dog beside him and a cola bottle on the floor next to him. Behind the boy, the packet is see-through and you can see the jellies inside the bag before you tuck in. I think this would be useful for helping to decide on which sweets you want to buy when in the shop but it served little purpose for me personally. The front of the bag also has the nutritional information (1/4 of a bag contains 11g of sugar which is 12% of your daily amount – therefore these should be eaten in moderation – as should all sweets!) The packet was easy to open by ripping one of the corners, although this led to the packet splitting so I had to eat the sweets out of the bag sideways on. I think this might have been due to my eagerness to ...

Drowning Rose (Kindle Edition) - Marika Cobbold 15/01/2012

Drowning Rose

Drowning Rose (Kindle Edition) - Marika Cobbold == Plot == Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is yourself... Eliza Cummings is leaving work one cold winter night when she receives an unexpected phone call. On the other end of the phone is a voice which makes her heart stand still and takes her back twenty-five years - to the night Rose died. Eliza doesn’t understand why Rose’s father wants her to visit him or why is he killing her with kindness when they both know that he blames her for what happened to his daughter. Grief and guilt cast terrible shadows, but as the story unfolds and the setting shifts from London (where Eliza currently lives) to the fairy tale landscape of the Swedish countryside (where Rose’s father lives) - and back in time to Eliza's school days - we learn that generosity, humour and friendship can smooth over and restore even the most broken lives, and that some secrets just can't be kept hidden... What happened on that dark night twenty-five years ago? == My Opinion == I really enjoyed this book and read it fairly quickly as I wanted to find out what was going to happen. The book is set across the past and present and it flows smoothly between the two. The past is set in the boarding school where Eliza and Rose go to school and we learn about them and their friends (mainly Portia and Sandra/Cassandra). The story alternates between characters which I think is an effective way for the story to be told. From the beginning of the book we know that Rose drowned but that’s all we are told and it is ...

Breaking the Silence - Diane Chamberlain 14/01/2012

Silence is not Golden

Breaking the Silence - Diane Chamberlain ~ Plot ~ "My husband shot himself in our bedroom. When I got home, Emma was standing at the bottom of the stairs, screaming." Since that traumatic day, Laura Brandon's little girl hasn't uttered a word. Previously, Emma was a chatty little girl always having something to say. Laura is desperate to help her daughter talk again and seeks help from professionals. When Laura’s father dying wish is for her to visit elderly Sarah, Laura doesn’t know why. Who is this woman and why does her father want her to start visiting her. Laura has never even heard Sarah’s named mentioned previously. Not wanting to ignore her father’s dying wish, Laura begins visiting Sarah and the story of Sarah’s past begins to unfold. When a psychiatrist suggests that Emma won't talk because she's terrified of men, Laura is guilt-ridden. To help Emma, she needs to know what unspeakable secret lies behind her husband's suicide. Laura thought her family was perfect, but her quest leads her to a shocking truth. For her child's sake, should her father's sins be kept silent? ~ My Opinion ~ Having read and enjoyed other books by Diane Chamberlain I decided to give this one a try. I purchased it for my kindle over the Christmas period and it was only 99p (from Amazon) - bargain! I was initially drawn to the book due to the title 'Breaking the Silence'. I thought and hoped it might have something to do with communication and I was correct in that selective mutism is an important theme within the book. As I'm a ...

Review of 2011 07/01/2012

My 2011 Rollercoaster

Review of 2011 I cannot believe that we are at the beginning of another New Year. I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on my 2011 which was quite a personal rollercoaster! Quite simply; the best and worst year of my life! This has turned into a rather long review, but I hope you enjoy it! January For the first January of my 4 year Speech and Language Therapy degree, we had no exams. We did have numerous assignments plus a dissertation though, so January still started off the year as pretty stressful! I did manage to fit in some time for fun though! I took my cousins 14 year old daughter to see JLS ‘Outta this World’ tour at the arena in Newcastle and we both had a fantastic night! As a student representative for my course I was invited to a talk about Giving Voice, from someone from Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists. Giving Voice (as you may already be aware) is a campaign, led by the RCSLT, to raise awareness of the valuable role of Speech and Language Therapists. I really enjoyed this talk and subsequently became very involved in the campaign because Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives My dad turned 50 at the end of the January so we went out for a family meal at a local Greek restaurant that we’d never tried but heard was lovely. It lived up to the good praise we heard about it and we had a very enjoyable evening. A nice way to end, what was otherwise a very stressful month! February My Cousin, Claire, turned 30 in February so we went ...

The Time of My Life - Cecelia Ahern 28/12/2011

A Magical Tale...

The Time of My Life - Cecelia Ahern The Plot (Taken from Lying on Lucy Silchester’s carpet one day when she returns from work is a gold envelope. Inside is an invitation – to a meeting with Life. Her life. It turns out she's been ignoring it and it needs to meet with her face to face. It sounds peculiar, but Lucy’s read about this in a magazine. Anyway, she can’t make the date: she’s much too busy despising her job, skipping out on her friends and avoiding her family. But Lucy’s life isn’t what it seems. Some of the choices she’s made – and stories she’s told – aren’t what they seem either. From the moment she meets the man who introduces himself as her life, her stubborn half-truths are going to be revealed in all their glory – unless Lucy learns to tell the truth about what really matters to her. Lucy Silchester has an appointment with her life – and she’s going to have to keep it… My Opinion I am a huge fan of Cecelia Ahern so I was excited to hear of a new book! I was going to buy it before Christmas but having spent all my money on Christmas presents I decided to wait. I used some of my Christmas money to download it to my kindle yesterday morning and I have just finished reading it now. I really enjoyed it though it is not my favourite of Aherns books. I did enjoy it so much that I spent most of yesterday and today reading it though. This was partly due to having extra spare time to read, as well as the fact that I wanted to know what was going to happen! I love how ...

Ravensburger Hello Kitty Memory Game 27/12/2011

How good is your memory?

Ravensburger Hello Kitty Memory Game My sister, brother-in-law and the children came to our house on Christmas Day this year for the first time since my eldest nephew was a baby! They arrived at our house late morning, in time for Christmas Dinner. My parents and I decided to keep some of the presents we bought for the children, at our house so we could give them some gifts on Christmas afternoon. Santa also left a sack of presents for everyone while we were having Christmas dinner and this Hello Kitty Memory game was one of the gifts my 6-year-old niece received from this sack. Once all the presents were opened, Toni decided she would like to play this game, so my mam and I played it with her. We could see it was a pair’s game so we launched straight in without reading the instructions. We spread out the 72 Hello Kitty cards, face down on the floor and Toni took her first turn. How to Play * Choose a number of pairs (start with a few and as you get more familiar with the pictures and the game you can increase the number of cards used) * Place the chosen cards face down where all the players can see them * The first player chooses two cards to turn over and see if they are a pair. All players must have time to see the cards. If the cards are not a pair then they are turned back face down (in the same place) * Each player takes their turn, if a pair is found they can take another turn until the two cards they turn over do not match. * The winner is the player with the most pairs at the end (the ...

Alligator Books Disney Fairies TinkerBell A4 Colouring Poster & Stickers Set 24/12/2011

A Fairy good set!

Alligator Books Disney Fairies TinkerBell A4 Colouring Poster & Stickers Set I’ve been looking after my 6 year old niece, Toni, a few times this week as my sister and brother-in-law have both been at work. I wanted to make sure that she would have plenty to do to take her mind of being too excited about Christmas. I know that Toni likes Disney Fairies and I spotted this set in the £1 shop last week so decided to buy it for her. We got it out yesterday afternoon and Toni was so excited to see it. I helped her open the cellophane and take out the contents from the packet: 8 A4 sheets to colour, 6 small colouring pencils and a sheet of 16 colourful stickers. Toni sorted out the pictures into the order she wanted to colour them in and told me it’s like a story. She’s asked me to staple the pages together once she’s coloured them all in so that it’s like a book. She says she’ll then tell me the story. I think this is a lovely way to encourage her spoken narrative (and imagination) and I’m sure other children would enjoy doing the same thing. Toni spent the whole afternoon colouring, dancing and then colouring some more. She really takes her time and is her colouring is quite neat. She’s finished 2 of the 8 pictures and has asked if she can finish it on Christmas day after her Christmas dinner (I’ve said yes, but I’ve a funny feeling she’ll find other things to keep her entertained!) Toni’s comments: • There aren’t enough different colours. ‘How can I do the right colour hair when there’s no black or brown?’ – I let her borrow some of my ...

Alligator Books Toy Story 3 Sticker Paradise Set 10/12/2011

Toy Story Stickers

Alligator Books Toy Story 3 Sticker Paradise Set Toy Story 3 Toy Story 3 is the third instalment of the Toy Story films, produced by Pixar and Walt Disney. As the plot is set mainly in a day care children’s centre we are introduced to lots of new toys and characters. I was a child when Toy Story first came out and I loved it. Therefore I didn’t hesitate to go and see Toy Story 3 when it was at the cinema. (I went with my friend and we were virtually the only adults there without children!) We thoroughly enjoyed the film and a couple of days later I saw these stickers and just had to buy them! I picked them up for £1 which I thought was a bargain! I have since bought this set again for my niece as she likes stickers and Toy Story. She enjoyed using the stickers with me and produced some sticker scenes in the album provided. The Sticker Set The set comes in a box which is approximately A4 in size. The front of the box has a window so you can see what is inside and there’s a large picture of woody smiling – making it appealing to children. Looking at the outside of the box you can see that there are a number of sticker sheets featuring Toy Story characters as well as a sticker album. The sticker album is 6x 4 in size with 8 double sided blank white pages. The pages are smooth and shiny and it’s easy to stick This is a good size for little fingers and is appealing to children as Buzz, Woody and Jessie are on the front. I think this set will be equally appealing to girls and boys who are fans of the Toy ...

Orchard Toys Big Wheels Jigsaws 06/12/2011

Look at the Wheels!

Orchard Toys Big Wheels Jigsaws ~ Orchard Toys ~ “Orchard Toys is a leading manufacturer of educational puzzles and games for children aged between 18 months and 12 years, with a reputation for excellence of design, manufacture and service.” All Orchard Toys are manufactured in the UK. I’ve used a range of their toys and games on placements with university, and with my nephews/niece and have not been disappointed. ~ Big Wheels Puzzles ~ I bought this set of puzzles earlier in the year to help build up a collection of resources for when I am (hopefully) working with children in the (near) future. I used them on a several occasions throughout my final year at university. The set contains four puzzles and 8 additional play pieces. The four puzzles are construction vehicles. Two of the puzzles are 4 piece (a red digger and a yellow excavator) and two of the puzzles are 8 piece (a green and yellow cement mixer and a blue bulldozer). All the puzzles and additional pieces come in a sturdy yellow box with pictures of the puzzles on the front. The additional pieces include cones, bricks, a barrier and other things you might find on a construction site. The puzzles are designed for 3-5 year olds. I think this age guide is good but if a child younger than 3 enjoys doing puzzles they might be able to complete the 4 piece ones. (They would probably struggle more with the 8 piece ones though.) ~ My Opinion ~ I think these puzzles are great and will probably appeal most to young boys. I used them with a ...

Melissa & Doug Sticker Collection 03/12/2011

Sticker fun!

Melissa & Doug Sticker Collection Melissa & Doug “Over 23 years ago we started our company in the garage of the home where Doug grew up… Our philosophy has remained the same over the years–to make each and every customer a happy and permanent member of the Melissa & Doug family, while offering products with tremendous value, quality and design. Our line offers something for everyone with over 1,000 innovative products for children of all ages!” from Although, clearly well established. I’d not heard of Melissa & Doug previous to this sticker set but I think this is brilliant and is definitely a range I’ll be checking out in the future. Melissa & Doug’s Sticker Collection - Blue The book comes with 10 large pages of themed stickers. The pages look like they are approximately A3 in size. The sticker themes are: construction, sports, outer space, dinosaurs, pirates, zoo animals, racing vehicles, knights, ‘gross stuff’ and rescue. I think this sticker set is definitely aimed at boys although I’m sure girls would enjoy using many of the stickers too. There are other Melissa & Doug sets that are more aimed at girls. Why did I buy them? Throughout university I’ve known that I want to work with children once qualified, so whenever I see anything I think might be useful I buy it to build up my stash of resources. My mam has often contributed to this too, and came in with this set of stickers earlier in the year. She also bought me the set of more ‘girly’ stickers. At the ...

Vaniqa 27/11/2011

I feel Girly again! (updated)

Vaniqa When I was 18 I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). At the time my main symptom (and the one which led to me visiting the GP) was that my periods had become increasingly irregular to the point that they’d not made an appearance for more than 6 months (I knew with certainty that I was not pregnant). Two pregnancy tests, a blood test and an Ultra Sound scan later and I was diagnosed with having PCOS. When I was first diagnosed, I didn’t like talking about it and struggled to tell people. However, I have now accepted that it is part of who I am and I am learning to live with it much better. Due to the nature of this product I have introduced my reasons for needing to use it therefore it is quite a long review. I have split it into sections, so if you already have hirsitism and want to skip straight to the part about the actual cream and its effects then it is easy to do to. Hirsutism Over the last few years I have more of the symptoms of the syndrome and the one I struggle with most it hirsutism. Hirsutism is the term used for excess facial and body hair growth in women. It refers to a male pattern of hair i.e. over the moustache and beard areas, or more hair growth than usual on the arms and legs. My unwanted facial hair is the most problematic. Hirsutism is rarely caused by anything serious but it is a good idea to find out what is causing it in order to access the most appropriate action. I hope this review helps at least one person who is living ...

Letter from Chicago - Cathy Kelly 13/11/2011

A Sister's Love is Forever

Letter from Chicago - Cathy Kelly Browsing Amazon for new books on my kindle I came across this one, and at only 99p I thought I’d give it a try. I’ve never read anything by this author before but I liked the sound of the blurb. It was also advertised as a short story, which is good as I have a tendency to neglect everything else when I’m hooked on a book. I reckoned that a short story wouldn’t have me hooked so long, therefore wouldn’t distract me from everything else I should be doing. About the Author Cathy Kelly is a number 1 bestselling author. She worked as a journalist before becoming a novelist, and has published eleven bestselling books. She lives in Wicklow with her partner and their twin sons. The Plot Elsie’s sister Maisie emigrated from Ireland to Chicago forty-five years ago. The sisters enjoy writing to each other every month with news about their families, hopes, dreams and successes. It’s not quite as good as seeing each other in person, but they are happy enough with the arrangement. When Maisie suddenly announces that her granddaughter wants to visit Elsie in Ireland, Elsie is besides herself with worry. A great deal has happened in the last forty-five years. Has Elsie always reported it all accurately back to her sister? She can’t possibly bear the humiliation of being found out for having stretched the truth, but there is no way she can refuse to play host to a member of her family, is there? My Verdict I really enjoyed this short story, it was well written and ... 29/10/2011

I'm Giving Voice - are you? As you may know I am a final year Speech and Language Therapy Student. There is currently a national campaign (Giving Voice) led by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) promoting the importance of speech and language therapy in a time when the profession is at risk due to current changes. The RCSLT have a website alongside their campaign and that’s what I’ll be writing about here. Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists The RCSLT is the professional body for speech and language therapists. I have been a student member since I started my course 4 years ago. We get a magazine (Bulletin) every month (which is where I first heard about the campaign) and there is usually an update on Giving Voice every month. The people of Newcastle held a flashmob supporting Giving Voice last month and this is going to be in the Bulletin next month. Speech and Language Therapists When I tell people that I am studying 'Speech and Language Therapy' some people say 'so you can help me to talk', or ‘I think that’s what I need when I’m drunk!’ – These comments really annoy me as there are so many more dimensions to this career. It also disappoints me that so many people are ill-informed, so I'd like to think this review might help some people that don't know exactly what an SLT is as well as inform you of the website supporting the Giving Voice campaign. An SLT is a highly qualified professional who works with lots of different clients in a variety ...

Everything that starts with V ... 28/10/2011

(Giving) Voice - because everybody has one!

Everything that starts with V ... As you may know, I am a Newly Qualified Speech and Language Therapist (SLT), actively involved in the Giving Voice campaign (I reviewed the Giving Voice Website earlier this year.) Giving Voice is a national campaign led by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) promoting the importance of speech and language therapy in a time when the profession is at risk due to current changes. This is a long piece of writing about something I am extremely passionate about! I have broken it into sections so you do not need to read it all if it doesn’t interest. I hope it is of interest to at least person though :-) Speech and Language Therapists The RCSLT is the professional body for speech and language therapists. Ever since starting university when I tell people that my chosen profession is Speech and Language Therapy I get mixed responses. Some people know what this involves but others say 'so you can help me to talk properly?', or ‘I think that’s what I need when I’m drunk!’ –. It disappoints me that so many people are ill-informed, so I'd like to think this piece of writing might help some people that don't know exactly what an SLT is as well as inform you about my involvement in Giving Voice. An SLT is a highly qualified professional who works with lots of different clients in a variety of settings. They assess and treat language, communication and swallowing difficulties in people of all ages. They work with a wide variety of clients, including ...
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