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Always looking to buy your unwanted "Chalet School" books for my collection. Leave a message on my GB if interested, I'm happy to offer cash or a trade for my other surplus books. Let's save some trees and recycle reading matter!!

Reviews written

since 04/05/2001


Should Fast Food Companies Be Responsible For The Health Of Their Customers? 18/07/2006

Skip the Coke and Choose the Small Fries Instead

Should Fast Food Companies Be Responsible For The Health Of Their Customers? Most of us know that fast food is bad for you. But many of us can't stay away from it. Consequently the tendency of most reviewers is to adopt the safe middle ground of 'ok in moderation'. This allows the likes of McDonalds and Burger King to keep on churning out food for the masses and allows us to feel better about buying it......occasionally. Most of the articles I've read on the fast food industry have consisted of interesting anecdotes about how the fast food companies pay slave wages, are anti- union, exploit the poor and have dubious hygiene in their kitchens, all the while making massive profits out of consumers either too poor or too stupid to know any better. There's invariably a chortle at fat Americans who have tried to sue McDonalds for making them overweight, and not a day goes by when I don't hear the story of the woman who sued McDonalds because she spilt coffee over her legs at a drive-thru. There's been a very interesting film about the effects on the human body of non-stop consumption of McDonalds food (Morgan Spulocks's 'Super Size Me'), a book exploring the murky underworld of the fast food industry (Eric Schlosser's 'Fast Food Nation') and another book about why Americans are fat which not unsurprisingly touches on the fast food industry (Greg Critser's 'Fat Land'). And I haven't even mentioned the famous 'McLibel' Trial! Unless you've been asleep these past few years, you can't fail to have noticed that most of the fast food giants have made a ...

Center Parcs, United Kingdom 20/03/2006

Center Parcs - Family Fun in the Forest!

Center Parcs, United Kingdom Center Parcs is a resort type holiday where the aim is to enjoy a family holiday in natural surroundings. Accommodation is in self catering units, although there are plenty of restaurants available. The holiday can be as relaxing or as active as each individual chooses. There are plenty of optional activities available for those that want to keep busy or expand their horizons. The basic cost of the holiday includes accommodation and you then pay for any additional pursuits you wish to engage in. The main attraction for most families is the natural setting and almost total absence of cars. Apart from the checking in days of Monday and Friday no cars are allowed. This makes for a very peaceful holiday where the main mode of transport is on foot, by bike or even in some cases on horseback! This review covers the Center Parcs at Whinfell Forest in Cumbria. There are three other UK Center Parcs villages at Longleat Forest in Wiltshire, Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, and Elveden Forest in Suffolk, but I haven't visited those and cannot comment on them. We had never been to Center Parcs before writing this review and didn't know what to expect. However, there's an advert running on TV at the moment which shows a family falling asleep when they have just been there a few hours and that is not far off the truth! With so many activities on offer before you have even reached the lodge, it is easy to get exhausted by the end of the first day. Our holiday flew past and I can't ... 05/02/2005

Give Some Free Books, GET Some Free Books! Love books? Have too many books but can’t bear to throw them away? Then you’ll LOVE this site. I’ve actually been a member for some years now but only recently started to actively use it. It’s a very unusual concept but one that I’ll attempt to explain in this review. Once you get your head around what it’s about, I’m prepared to bet many of you will head over there just to check it out, and a high percentage of you may even become members. It’s absolutely FREE and there’s no requirement to spend any money at all if you don’t want to. What’s It All About…….Alfie? The website is called BookCrossing and can be found at It was set up in April 2001 and it is basically a way of giving and receiving books completely free of charge! Many of you may already be familiar with the American site, where a rubber stamp is used to place a message on a banknote asking users of that banknote to enter the serial number of on a website so that its progress can be tracked online. Bookcrossing operates on a similar principle, whereby readers of a book are asked to log their ownership so that the book can be tracked as it travels around the country and around the world. However, books seldom change hands as often as a banknote, and this is where the Bookcrossing site becomes pure genius. If you’re a booklover you probably have hundreds of books in your possession. Many of us have books which we have enjoyed but no longer wish to keep, and being ...

Cold Comfort Farm (NEVER RELEASED) (DVD) (DVD) 05/02/2005

Something Nasty In The Woodshed

Cold Comfort Farm (NEVER RELEASED) (DVD) (DVD) John Schlesinger’s ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ is a delightful film with a mainly British cast, many of whom are fairly big names in the film industry even now. Made in 1995, the movie is a faithful adaptation of the 1932 rural parody of the same name by Stella Gibbons and stars Kate Beckinsale as Flora Poste, Joanna Lumley as Mary Smiling, Rufus Sewell as the smoulderingly sexy Seth Starkadder, Dame Eileen Atkins as Judith Starkadder and Sir Ian McKellan as the Bible thumping Amos Starkadder. Stephen Fry and Miriam Margolyes also make cameo appearances as Mr Mybug and Mrs Beetle. The film is a light hearted comedy which centres around Flora, a smart and sophisticated young woman from London whose parents die suddenly, leaving her with £100 a year. As her close friend, the brassiere collecting Mary Smiling remarks, ‘That won’t keep you in stockings and fans. What will you live on?’ ‘My relatives,’ Flora replies. Flora decides to stay with Mrs Smiling until she can find somewhere to live and writes to all her relatives to see if any are willing to give her a home. She quickly discards the idea of living with her Father’s elderly Scottish cousin Mr McKnag, who lives with ‘my man Hoots’ and a very deaf housekeeper, miles distant from the nearest village in the middle of a marsh. Flora is equally appalled by the offer made by her Girl Guiding Aunt Gwen. ‘The air of Worthing is very bracing,’ the letter reads, but Flora doesn’t find the prospect of ‘giving a hand with the dogs’ or ...

Brussels (BRU), Brussels 05/02/2005

Clean Mean Airport Machine

Brussels (BRU), Brussels Introduction ~~~~~~~~~ I have travelled to Brussels airport (or Zaventem as it is known to the locals) many times, both on my way to North America and to visit the city of Brussels itself. I find it to be a clean and modern airport, not too crowded and with excellent facilities. The duty free shops are some of the best I have seen. Practically everybody who works there speaks English. Because the airport has excellent links to the centre of Brussels and beyond, it is convenient for a quick visit to the city centre from the airport, where you can experience some of the sights that the Brussels has to offer if you are en route somewhere and have more than five hours to wait for your connecting flight. If you have only a couple of hours to spare I would NOT recommend travelling into central Brussels, however. Getting To And From The Airport ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~ There are excellent facilities for car rental from the airport, with rental desks for all the major firms such as Budget, Hertz, Avis, National and Europcar located in the arrivals hall. Taxis are also available. A taxi into the centre Brussels from the airport will cost about 30 Euros and taxis are available just outside the arrivals hall. As with all airports there is an eternal problem with unlicenced taxis, I have always been advised to check for a blue and yellow plate on the taxi to signify that it is real, these can usually be found screwed to the front of the vehicle. Buses leave from a ...

Sangenic Nappy Wrapper 05/02/2005

Natty Nappy Wrapper or Nasty Nappy Rapper

Sangenic Nappy Wrapper “Opinions divided on this product, see, ‘cos a baby’s gotta poo and a baby’s gotta wee. So it all depends on a single point of view, when you gotta chuck the nappy where ya gonna do the doo?” Ok that’s the rapping done with. Now let’s see about the wrapping. The nappy wrapping I mean. Those of you who prefer reusable nappies, here’s your chance to have a quiet chortle at yet another one of the disposable nappy brigade. Not content with polluting the environment and wasting enormous amounts of money (not to mention enriching the coffers of the mighty Proctor and Gamble) there are those of use wild enough to waste even more money on one of these funny little contraptions. Now don’t get me wrong. There are people here on Ciao who SWEAR by these little bins and wouldn’t be without them for a moment. And I have to admit that when I was first pregnant and saw them in Boots, they did kind of seem like a good idea. And in the first few months, when I was struggling, to eat/sleep and hold it all together, it was kind of nice to shove the dirty nappy in there and have done with it. Or so I thought. For those of you already itching to rush out and buy a Sangenic Nappy Wrapper system, they are available from Tesco, Asda, Mothercare, Boots and, not to mention a few other places. When I first wrote this review the price was around £29.99, although you could use your Boots Advantage Card points instead which was what I did. Boots also had an offer where they gave away ...

Asda (Shop) 12/04/2004

ASDA Is Hardly The Full Monty

Asda (Shop) Introduction ~~~~~~~~~ Both of the supermarkets in my town were owned by ASDA so for nearly ten years I shopped there almost every week. I have to admit I like the prices at ASDA and sometimes buy petrol there. And the pizzas and Indian meals are great tasting and excellent value. HOWEVER…..since Tesco built a store in my town I have found myself going there more and more and now I hardly go to ASDA at all. So I felt the time had come to take stock of what is wrong with ASDA and what could be done to improve the store. I realise that lots of people on here love ASDA to bits and wouldn't shop anywhere else. However, when reading other opinions about ASDA on Ciao I began to realise that lots of people who shopped there for the prices weren’t always 100% happy about other things, and most of the things that bothered them were things that irritated me as well. I finally decided that I would write an opinion which would attempt to bring together all the things that I feel ASDA isn’t doing very well, but rather than a general moan I would try and make some suggestions about how they could improve things. Rest assured I don’t hate ASDA, anyone who has read my opinion on ASDA pizza will know that is very far from the truth!! But there are some things they could do better. Here are the main points as I see them. I realise that they don't apply to every ASDA store everywhere but I have myself visited stores in Brighton, Norwich, Edinburgh (2), Boston and Dunfermline and a ...

EasyJet - EZU 06/04/2004

Flying Easyjet With A 4 Month Old Baby

EasyJet - EZU Introduction ~~~~~~~~~ In May 2002 I flew on Easyjet from Edinburgh to Gatwick with my (then) 4 month old little girl. I had flown many times before but this was my little girl's first flight. Also it was the first time I had used a budget airline and the first time I had flown without my husband. Here is a summary of my experiences. I hope it will be helpful to other people contemplating flying for the first time with young children. Booking ~~~~~~ Booking online for an infant was very confusing. I couldn't see how to tell the airline how I would have a little one with me. I emailed Easyjet customer services for help and they replied within 48 hours. Apparently on the drop down menu for title they have Mr, Mrs Miss and Ms and then Mr + infant, Mrs + infant and so on. Fares ~~~~ I thought the fares on Easyjet were very fair. I booked online a month in advance and paid £65 return including all taxes. That was for very popular lunchtime flights on a Friday and a Sunday. Easyjet add a surcharge if you pay by credit card but at these prices you can use a Switch or Visa Debit card and thus avoid the surcharge. Photo ID ~~~~~~~ One thing you should be aware of when travelling with a child. Unlike BA Easyjet require ALL passengers to carry photo id AND THAT INCLUDES INFANTS. You can use you driving licence but for a child it would have to be something like a passport. So make sure you get one for your child before you travel!! One thing that bugged me was that ...

UK Style - House Doctor 16/03/2004

Kerbside Appeal

UK Style - House Doctor Would you let a complete stranger into your home to criticise your wallpaper, shake her head at your cluttered shelves, and give you a good ticking off about all those unfinished DIY projects? Apparently dozens of people have already done that, if the ‘House Doctor’ programme is anything to go by. With a recent new series on Channel 5, I thought it would be a good time to review this programme, which may sound like another ‘home makeover’ show but is actually quite compulsive viewing. As Channel 5's ‘House Doctor’, former Californian estate agent and interior designer Ann Maurice has rapidly gained a huge cult following in the UK. Fans regularly tune in to the half hour shows to watch her quickly transform Britain's unsaleable properties into houses that everyone wants to buy. The House Doctor programme is currently in its fifth series and is as popular as ever. For me personally, the appeal of ‘House Doctor’ is that it shows that loads of other people are just as lazy, slovenly and clutter ridden as I am!! Ann Maurice hails from San Francisco and introduced the concept of ‘Home Staging’ (how to prepare your home for sale from both a practical and aesthetic point of view) to the UK around 7 years ago, having previously worked at staging homes in the USA. Ann’s TV fame came about almost by accident. Whilst on holiday in Italy she met an English woman who was intrigued by Ann’s ‘unusual’ career. By a quirk of fate the woman’s daughter worked for BBC's Home Front who got ...

All About Me 26/07/2003

And I Am A Material Girl

All About Me 01. What time is it? 19:39:28 02. Name: Jan. Actually it’s Janine, but due to my Mother’s annoying habit of pronouncing it JAN-ine, rather than the more conventional J-neen, I fell out of love with it pretty quickly and now only use it on business cards and in my passport. Apparently I was named after a character Brigitte Bardot played in a movie. If you know WHICH movie, I’d love to know!! 03. Number of candles that appeared on your last birthday cake: Well it was my birthday at the beginning of April, but I don’t remember there being a cake!! I am old enough to remember clackers, the rubic cube, green slime which came in a funny dustbin (I had purple slime with worms and another one which had eyes in it!!), silly putty, chopper bikes and the original Charlie’s Angels, Mission Impossible and the New Avengers. 04. Hair colour: 8786. That’s what it says on the colour card at the hairdresser. Roughly translated that means blonde highlights to lift an otherwise rather boring brown mop. 05. Tattoos: A rose with a scroll underneath with the word ‘Jan’ on it. Somewhere on my shoulder blade, courtesy of Steve Fuller, master tattooist of Brighton. It’s exactly 20 years old this year. My attempt at under age rebellion at a time when tattoos on girls were not the popular fashion accessory they are now. Being an incumbent of an all girls boarding school, it was worth it to hear the gasps of horror when I swam for my house team in the swimming gala. Magic! 06. How ... 10/02/2003

Why I Will Always Love Ebay Ebay started in the USA around 1996. To begin with it was intended mainly as a venue for collectors of TY ‘Beanie Babies’ to buy and sell their wares. People soon realised that Ebay was a great forum for buying and selling all kinds of other things as well, and the site really took off from there. Background To The Site --------------- ------- These days most people have heard of Ebay, although not everyone has actually been there. To describe it as an ‘auction site’ is perhaps somewhat misleading. Many find the concept of an auction very intimidating, a fear probably fuelled by countless tales of those who have visited salerooms and inadvertently bid for items they cannot afford by the simple act of scratching their nose, fanning themselves with the sale catalogue or waving to a friend. In addition, anyone who has ever visited a car or cattle auction and been bewildered by the fast paced ‘patter’ and the speed with which items are bought and sold may decide once and for all that auctions are just for people who ‘know what they’re doing’. Ebay blows all these preconceptions right out of the window. Provided one is careful to bid only what one can afford, the Ebay auction experience is no more dangerous or complicated than buying any other item online. Sales are of a fixed duration, usually 3 days, 5 days, 7 days or 10 days, so there is usually plenty of time to view the item on sale and to compare the condition and price with similar items being offered by other ...

Paris - Charles de Gaulle (CDG) 17/01/2003

Why You Must Avoid This Airport At All Costs

Paris - Charles de Gaulle (CDG) Paris CDG is honestly the WORST airport I have ever visited. Getting around is a nightmare, security takes too long, the signage is bad, facilities are poor, prices are expensive and the staff surly and unhelpful. I have transferred on and off flights via Paris CDG many times whilst flying to and from the USA from Scotland. Here is a typical experience: We arrive by plane from Edinburgh and are taken by bus to the terminal. We then stand in a huge queue on a stairwell waiting for a bus to another terminal. Nearby TV screens don't appear to be working so nobody is sure which terminal they need. My husband asks a member of the Air France staff who is standing around nearby with a walkie-talkie. She shrugs and says something rapidly in French which we don't understand. After 25 minutes the bus arrives but it is still not clear what terminal it is destined for. We get on the bus which drives around airport in a haphazard manner. We get talking to a guy who is on same flight as us to America. He reveals that we need to get off at terminal B. How he knows this isn't clear. Bitter experience, probably. We follow him off the bus at terminal B and go up an escalator. We then stand in huge queue for airport security. Only one X-ray machine appears to be working. The same woman appears to be putting hand luggage through the X-ray machine, checking the security screen to see what is in the bags, checking passengers with an ancient looking metal detector and checking the ...

Grobag Sleeping Bag 17/01/2003

Throw Away Your Cot Blankets

Grobag Sleeping Bag I first heard about baby sleeping bags at my mother and baby group but had no idea where to get one. All the other babies were sleeping through the night and their mothers swore by them. With an infant who was beginning to settle in her cot but who kept throwing off the covers on a cold January night and screaming for Mum or Dad to replace them every five minutes, it was getting a bit wearing. Other Mothers had obtained their sleeping bags at Mothercare or Marks and Spencer. With no local branch of Mothercare within reasonable distance and none stocked at the local M&S it looked like I'd have to travel further afield. With a young baby needing fed every five minutes I didn't fancy a long trip into Edinburgh to buy one there. Then I heard about where you can buy them online. After quite a long time browsing through the site I eventually plumped for a Peter Rabbit Grobag rated at 2.0 tog. 2.5 tog is the maximum tog rating for a baby as recommended by the Foundation for the Study of Infant Death (FSID). The FSID also recommend that baby sleeping bags be sleeveless as all the bags on this site are. Cooler lightweight bags in towelling and cotton rated at 1.0 tog are also available, these are ideal for summertime or when travelling abroad to hotter climates. I paid £24.50 for my Grobag with a further £3.00 for delivery. If you order 2 Grobags then you automatically get a 10% discount. If your baby is sick a lot or prone to leaky nappies, you may need to get ...

Heinz Baby basic cutlery 12/12/2002

Fantastic Plastic

Heinz Baby basic cutlery One of the first tools a baby uses is a spoon for self-feeding. Conventional spoons are difficult for a very young baby to grasp effectively, and even more difficult to use. Having discovered a spoon which is suitable for administering medicine, introducing a baby to solids and later on encouraging baby to grasp and feed itself, I thought I would share with any Mums and Dads to be the wonder that is ‘Heinz Baby Basics’. Baby weaning spoons are useful to have around the house even before your baby starts on solids for a variety of reasons. First of all, when the baby is two months old he or she is likely to have their very first injection. And even though liquid paracetamol (or calpol) is not recommended for babies under three months, you can obtain some from the chemist if your baby has recently had a jab as some babies can be sore and feverish for a few days. Trouble is, not all brands of infant paracetamol come with spoons, and when they do, they tend to be the hard plastic ones which aren’t really suitable for a baby which is only a few weeks old. I bought my first set of Heinz ‘baby basic’ spoons in Boots, and I’m very glad I did. They come in sets of two in a variety of different contrasting colours and are part of a range that includes bowls, training cups and various other cutlery. Bright colours, innovative design and special ‘Flexisoft’ plastic material - which is gentle on the baby’s hands and mouth - make the products distinctive and appealing. The ...

Slendertone Flex 13/11/2002

A FLEXible Solution for Flab

Slendertone Flex I am a great believer in electronic muscle stimulation (EMS) products after having discovered that Bruce Lee used them in the 1970s as part of his fitness program. I have used various products including the well known ‘Bodi-Tek’ but basically they all annoyed me because of all the pads and cables and the fact that it was fiddly to use. For example on the Bodi-Tek you had to wet all the pads before use and then leave them all somewhere to dry afterwards. And if anyone knocked on the door whilst you were using it you were placed in a rather embarrassing position!! So not something which would incline you to use it regularly. I bought my Slendertone Flex after reading about it in a women’s magazine. A woman in the magazine had tested it by wearing it under her clothes during her lunchbreak at work and no-one had even noticed she was wearing it. The tester was convinced that continuous use over a number of weeks had made a difference to her tummy. The cost was about the same as the ‘Bodi-Tek’ (about £100) so I bought one in my local Boots using vouchers I had obtained as part of a credit card promotion. The Belts come in 2 varieties, one for men and one for women, to allow for biological differences in muscle type I suppose. They stick to your tummy using adhesive pads, so I hope the ones for men aren’t quite so sticky. My husband has a very hairy tummy, so I guess if he used one it might be quite painful!! Ok, so what do you get for your money? Well firstly there’s the ...
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