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Will do my best to return all the reads that I can. Give me a nudge if it looks like I've forgotten you. :)

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since 08/09/2004


Fitbit Charge HR 17/11/2015

Fitbit Charge HR

Fitbit Charge HR The Background Info: After over 10 years of battling with my weight and trying every diet under the sun (with limited degrees of success) I decided to try a new tact and in May this year I went to see a hypnotist. I had heard good things about him and figured that for £150 for two sessions it was worth a go. It is now 6 months later and I am 6 stone lighter so something obviously worked! The hypnosis convinced my brain that I have a gastric band (without the actual surgery!) and has re-trained my habits so that I only eat three times a day, thoroughly enjoy/am attracted to healthy foods and have no desire or interest in unhealthy foods. It also encourages me to exercise more. This is where the Fitbit comes in, but more on this in a moment. My biggest successes following the hypnosis was with regards to my eating habits as I am no longer every hungry, don’t want unhealthy foods and most importantly, don’t feel like I am on a diet so I never feel deprived. This is no mean feat for someone who used to habitually binge eat and consume excessive amounts of wine, sweets, chocolate and bread. Overall the hypnosis has solved my issue (I still have another 3 stone to lose but that is perfectly achievable now). The only part that hasn’t worked as successfully as I would like is my motivation to exercise. As the weight has dropped off, it has become easier to exercise but with such a busy day at work the sofa is far too appealing when I get home. It was for this reason that I invested ...

Darwin Forest Country Park, Matlock 18/10/2015

Relaxing Forest Holiday (and a hospital visit!)

Darwin Forest Country Park, Matlock Darwin Forest For the past 5 years I have been to most of the Centre Parcs in the Uk as a summer holiday. Whilst we have thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, the price does seem extortionate for lodges that in many parks are very compact and getting rather shabby. We looked around and decide to try the Darwin Forest Country Park in the Derbyshire Peak District. The park hosts a range of lodges and has onsite facilities including a swimming pool. We booked a 4 bedroom lodge with hot tub (Haddon Classic Spa). Our lodge allowed one dog and provided two parking spaces. Arrival The park was easily found with a satnav and well signposted from the road. We hugely overestimated how long it would take us to get there and arrived well over two hours earlier than the 4pm check in. Despite a trip to the local supermarket we still arrived at reception two hours early. It was easy to park outside reception so we went in and asked if there were any chance of us getting our keys earlier than 4pm. The reception staff were really friendly and a quick check of their records showed that our lodge was ready so we were given two sets of keys and a map. The park is really well signposted so we found our lodge easily and the parking spaces right outside were convenient for taking our luggage in. We were all taken back when we first saw the lodge – it was beautiful, spacious and immaculately clean. Considering it was a dogs permitted lodge there was not a sign (smell or hair!) that dogs had ever been ...

Forever Living Aloe Propolis Creme 23/06/2015

Bee Poo and Plant Juice? Lovely.

Forever Living Aloe Propolis Creme A friend of mine started selling “Forever Living” products and managed to coerce me into trying this Aloe Propolis Crème. Aside from her attempts to convince me that Aloe Vera would dramatically improve my life, she did manage to convince me that Aloe Propolis Crème was worth a try for my partner’s eczema so we purchased a 113g tube for nearly £13. The premise of the Forever Living products is that they all contain enough of the magical ingredient Aloe Vera for us to really reap the benefits. Apparently many products advertising that they contain Aloe Vera actually contain very little. Forever Living products are sold by distributors a bit like Avon so it is not something you will find in shops. Aloe Vera and Bee Poo – Why all the hype? Whilst I am sceptical as to whether Aloe Vera really is going to solve all my problems, I do appreciate the benefits it can give. I have my own Aloe plant on my kitchen window named “Vera” (I’m not that creative) and she has proved very helpful on the numerous times that I have burnt myself or someone else on the oven. I have also used some of the plant juice (is that the word?) when I have been stupid enough to get sunburn or am simply suffering from dry skin. We have also used her to help with my partner’s eczema. It does always help and I do appreciate the cooling, soothing and healing effect of it as an ingredient. Now Vera provides very well for me but as she lives in the kitchen it isn’t always convenient to call on her, hence being ...

Amberley Castle, Arundel 19/05/2015

Queen of the castle - and a proposal!

Amberley Castle, Arundel Amidst a stressful and exhausting few weeks at work my boyfriend told me that he had booked us a night away for us to be able to relax and have some time together. He gave me the date we were going but said it would be a little surprise. I had no idea where we were going and even on the morning of our trip he played it cool only giving away that we probably ought to look smart as it was quite a posh place. We set off in the car and travelled through West Sussex to the unknown location. Location & Arrival As we drove through Amberley (near Arundel and 22 miles from Brighton), Homer Simpson (via the sat nav) informs us that we have reached our destination. With not a hotel in sight I was a little confused but with some persistence of driving backwards and forward down the same bit of road my boyfriend eventually saw a road that he thinks might be the right one. We pull off down a little track and get a little lost again before finding some automatic gates and a sign saying “Amberley Castle”. Just as I am being taken aback by the breath-taking view of the castle he announces “By the way, we’re staying in a castle!”. We drive up through the beautiful grounds with the most stunning view of Amberley Castle up ahead. We pulled into the carpark and walked through the portcullis (yes, I now speak castle!). We followed some clear sign posting to reception whilst being a little overwhelmed by both the beauty of the grounds and the castle itself. The reception area felt very posh and ...

First Utility 16/05/2015

First Utility - for the First and Last Time.

First Utility I very rarely write a damning review but my dealings with First Utility have been so diabolic that wanted to share my experience and warn others of their incompetence. When we moved into our new house, First Utility were the electricity and gas supplier used by the previous owners. After a bit of research we found a cheaper option with another company so we switched. We received a letter from First Utility acknowledging that we were switching to another supplier and stating that they would send us the final bill once it had all switched over. All seemed to be going swimmingly. We received our final bill a few months later which was a bit of a shock as it seemed like an awful lot of money but we assumed that we had just been naïve to the costs of running a house. We sent them payment and looked forward to a cheaper bill with our new company. A few weeks later we received another letter from First Utility in the form of a bill, telling us that we were nearly £90 in credit. We wrote to them asking for them to pay back the money but got a reply saying that they do not like to do that as they prefer to keep the money on the customer’s account and for it to pay off some of the next bill. We were slightly frustrated by now as not only had they overcharged us but seeing as they had sent us our closing bill they should have understood that we were no longer with them. We wrote again “reminding” them that we were no longer with them and therefore just wanted our money back. They ...

JML Magic Eraser 25/04/2015

No elbow grease required, just magic.

JML Magic Eraser Whilst preparing to move out of my rented flat I received a letter from the letting agency stating that I would be charged for any scuffs on the wall or marks in the kitchen. Not wanting to lose my deposit, but well aware that after 5 years of wear and tear there were numerous marks I sought a solution. I found the “JML Doktor Power Magic Eraser” on Amazon for £4.99 and with its claims of working on any surface, decided it was worth a go. The 32 x 13 x 4cm sponge claims that it is effective at shifting scuff marks from the floor, lime scale from taps, crayon marks on walls and burnt food from pots and pans. It can be cut down to whatever size you need and all you need to do is add water. There’s no clear description of how it works or what it’s made from but I guess if something is “magic” you don’t reveal the secret. My priority was to check that I could get the scuffs left by furniture of the walls to make sure I could get my deposit back without having to repaint the whole flat. I cut off a small section of the sponge with scissors, held it under the tap and squeezed out the water so that it was just damp but not soaking as per the instructions. I started with a small scuff on a white painted wall and was amazed by how easily the scuff was removed with just a couple of rubs of the sponge. I moved on to a much more dramatic mark which required a little more effort but still nothing to complain about before the mark was completely removed. By the fifth stain the little ...

Sistema Microwave Soup Mug 21/04/2015

What a mug...

Sistema Microwave Soup Mug As part of my new found role of domestic goddess I have started making soup. The success of this has been varied but one of my biggest problem was storing it and transporting it to work. Once at work, the long walk to the microwave and back meant that a standard square or rectangular pod resulted in burnt hands and spillages. I saw a colleague with a Sistema soup mug and had a moment of ‘mug envy’. It seemed like the ideal solution to my souping woes so I set out to find one. I ordered one online for £5 and was very excited to test it out. These soup mugs hold 656 ml but I’ve found that a full mug is far too much for me so I generally fill it just over halfway. The mug itself is made of brightly coloured plastic (I started off with a red one but have since purchased pink, green and blue ones!) with a handle. The handle is the perfect size for holding it to either drink from the mug or use a spoon for your soup. The lid is clear plastic with three clips around the edge that secure it to the mug. There is a steam vent on the top which can be sealed using a push down clip. This is ideal for microwaving and you can microwave your soup with the lid on and nothing explodes on you. The mugs are dishwasher and freezer safe. I’ve found that these mugs are ideal to use at work as I teach in a secondary school and by the time I’ve made my way from the microwave to my office I have had to negotiate tightly packed corriddors full of jostling teenagers (who all seem to be much taller ...

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London 05/09/2013

Behind the scenes of Harry Potter - Phenomenal

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London Since the day I read the first book in one sitting I have always been a huge Harry Potter fan. I love the books and I loved the films. So as you can imagine I was just a little bit excited when my friend announced that her birthday present to me this year was to take me to the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour. I knew that various friends had been before and rated it highly so my expectations were high right from the start. You cannot just turn up at the studio tour; tickets must be bought in advance. I think this is a good thing as it means that they only allocate a certain number of visitors for each tour time slot meaning that it is never going to be so crowded that you can’t enjoy it properly. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling their call centre. A great feature here is that you can buy “gift tickets” so for example if you wanted to buy tickets for someone as a surprise gift without having to steal their diary/attempt to guess at a day they might be free you can do. You purchase the tickets and they can use the website to book their day and time slot. If you are booking the timeslot there and then the website is easy to use and you will be send an email confirmation of the tickets. You can also opt for them to be sent to you. My friend booked ours online but somehow managed to delete her booking confirmation. She rung them using the number on the website and they were very helpful and gave her all the information she needed. It is also worth noting ...

Fold Hill - Click 'n' Treat 04/09/2013

Click 'n' Treat

Asda Pricesmart Baked Beans 03/09/2013

(ASDA) Beans beans are good for your heart...

5 reasons why you love summer 25/08/2013

Why a teacher loves summer

5 reasons why you love summer Rather than writing about the 5 generic things that most of us love about summer (weather, holidays etc) I have decided to do a slightly different take on it based on the thing that takes up the majority of my life right now, my job. So these are the 5 things I love about summer within the context of my job as a teacher. 1.) GCSE Results Day Sometimes I feel like my entire job is driven by government targets. Perhaps it is. I spend the whole year pushing myself and my students in preparation for one thing – their GCSE exams. Three days ago I watched over three hundred of my students open their GCSE results. Almost all of them were delighted and their hard work had paid off. As usual, this year’s Year 11 students have brought with them a whole range of challenges, often making me want to pull my hair out and quit altogether, but to watch their faces as they open an envelope that matters so much to them is a feeling like no other. Watching the squealing and screaming (mainly girls!), the high fives, the beaming smiles, the hugs and the tears of joy just makes it all worthwhile. On top of that are the success stories –those students who have been a real nightmare and almost driven me to a mental breakdown before finally turning all around at the last minute and pulling it out the bag. Often this is the first time we really get “thanked” by those that we teach for what we have done for them and the pride is overwhelming. 2.) Prom Perhaps a very American concept, but one ...

Early Learning Centre 3 Foam Balls 21/08/2013

My coloured balls

Early Learning Centre 3 Foam Balls Although I do not have children of my own I do seem to have a large toy box in my front room for my 2 year old God daughter when she comes to play. On the rare occasion that I get time to hit the shops I always have a little browse of the toy shops to see if there are any bargains suitable for the toy box. A year or so ago I discovered this set of 3 foam balls in the Early Learning Centre (ELC) costing only £2. I have always been a fan of ELC toys due to their quality so I picked up a pack. The pack contains three foam balls (each is the size of a standard tennis ball); one red, one blue and one yellow. You can squeeze them and they are soft enough that even at full pelt they aren’t going to do you any real harm or break a window. Although they are soft and you could obviously pick at the foam, they are robust enough that they aren’t going to fall apart on their own. Mine have been well played with for a good year and are still in a great condition…well...apart from the one the dog got at. They aren’t advertised for dogs and as expected, if a dog chews one they will eventually demolish it. Sadly Bonnie thought that the blue one was for her and chewed it to death a couple of months ago. My god daughter for who they were initially brought for has loved them. She first started playing with them when she was 1 and enjoyed squishing them and rolling them around. As she has gotten older she has moved more towards throwing and catching. I think the fact that they are soft and ...

Sudocrem netdoctor Antiseptic Healing Cream 18/08/2013

Not just for bums! (Sudocrem)

Sudocrem netdoctor Antiseptic Healing Cream Sudocrem. Now we all know it as ‘bum cream’ for babies but I think it’s many other uses are often overlooked. Sudocrem comes in an antiseptic healing cream that promises to sooth and heal nappy rash. It also suggests that it can be used to treat eczema, bed sores, sunburn, minor burns, surface wounds, acne and chilblains. It is a thick white cream that comes in pots of varying sizes (and also a small tube for travel). It has an antiseptic smell about it but nothing too strong. It contains a mild local anaesthetic so it soothes pain and doesn’t sting when you apply it. As a child, I always remember a cut or graze being given the Sudocrem treatment and it has always been a staple in the first aid kit. Nappy Rash - Although I don’t have my own children, my best friends little girl is a regular visitor at my house. Back in the days where nappy rash was a problem, a couple of day’s use of Sudocrem tended to clear it right up. The cream is quite thick but a little goes a long way so a pot of this stuff lasts forever. Cuts and Grazes – As an adult I tend to acquire more injuries that I ever did as a child. I’m not really sure how or why but whenever I get a cut or graze I tend to whack a bit of Sudocrem on it (usually overnight so that I don’t smudge it over my clothes etc.) and I feel that it does make a difference with helping it heal. In particular when I get an accidental scratch from the dog and there is the extra risk of infection I always us a bit of Sudocrem for the ...

Colorsport 30 Day Mascara 27/07/2013

Dying to have dark lashes - Colorsport Eyelash Dye

Sharpie Permanent Marker 22/07/2013

The trials and tribulations of my Sharpie

Sharpie Permanent Marker My handbag and my car are full of a number of items that “might” be useful. To be honest I am probably a bit of a hoarder. But one item that has been useful on several random occasions is my Sharpie permanent marker. Some of my latest reasons to use it were writing on the t-shirts of my students at work (not as some form of bizarre punishment… they were getting them signed as they were leaving!), labelling CD’s and DVD’s at a friend’s, writing a bold sign which I attached to my car to say “Broken down, waiting for AA” to minimise the number of people that wanted to beep their horn at me for being in their way (how inconsiderate of me to break down in their way) and writing addresses on plastic packages of items I post. Sharpie permanent markers have been well advertised with celebrities such as David Beckham promoting them. The concept being that they are vibrant and will write on anything. They were the first official pen-style permanent marker. There is now a wide range of Sharpie permanent markers available including mini pens and ones that will attach to a key ring. The pen itself is round and comfortable to use. Nothing spectacular or but the cap fits on the end nicely which keeps me happy (simple things!) and it is nice to write with. The colour of the cap represents the colour of the ink and the barrel is quite a simplistic light grey colour with the Sharpie logo. Although there are now a range of thicknesses, the most commonly available Sharpies are the “fine point” ...
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