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since 23/02/2001


Royal & Sun Alliance Property Services 04/09/2001

Im going to chain myself to their premises

Royal & Sun Alliance Property Services Estate Agents are still a necessary evil even in the age of cyberspace. Chose your agent with extreme care if you wish come out of the home selling/buying process with some of your hair and a few marbles to call your own. Fox and son's based in the south west and part of the Sun Alliance group have been nothing less than diabolical inept cowboy's. My sale was agreed on July 3rd and I am yet to exchange contracts! I have almost expired with anxiety!!!!! We started in a chain of 3 and have ended up in a chain of 8 although they did not consider it important enough to tell me that the chain had collapsed 3 times since July 3rd. Between accepting our offer and discovering the chain had broken(We found this out from another agent way down the chain ,not Fox and Son's who we are paying well over £2000.00 in fee's to do just this)we paid a non refundable reservation fee on a new property of £500.00 with a 28 day change of contract deadline. We have had totally wrong information like "We will exchange tommorow" and 5 weeks down the line we still have not! and dozens of unreturned phone calls and surely staff who simply don't have a clue. Viewers have contacted them for details of our property like ours but never been sent brochures, another viewer was told we could not be contacted to arrange a viewing yet Fox and Son's have two mobile numbers,two work numbers our home phone number and email address!!!! I could go on! Suffice to say if this sale/purchase ...

Jarvis Hotel and Country Club, East Grinstead 23/04/2001


Jarvis Hotel and Country Club, East Grinstead I've just got back from my hols having spent a night prior to flying at the Jarvis Hotel And Country Club at East Grinstead near Gatwick. I chose this particular Jarvis hotel because I was able to book online and print out my own accommodation voucher with no fuss. The room cost £75.00 for a double for one night (room only) and included eight day's parking. Considering parking alone at Gatwick costs a minimum of £46.00 for eight day's, this is a real bargain! In effect you get an extra nights holly and no "missing the plane" panic by travelling the day before, for just £29.00! As an avid ciaoer I expect value for money and kick off if I don't get it so this one night stay in the Jarvis was no exception! The Jarvis Hotel And Country Club at East Grinstead is SHABBY!! The walls are paper thin so don't expect a peaceful night,there was a cigarette burn in the bedspread and a hole in the wall?? I also paid £7.90 for a cheese and tomato sandwich and a portion of chips!! Rip off Britain at it's finest! The carpet looked like it had never seen a hoover( home from home in this respect)but the ultimate yuck was several pubic hairs in the bath that did'nt match either me or my husbands colouring......... I mentioned this to the receptionist who said I was certainly not the first to complain about housekeeping standards and even if we changed rooms she could not promise that it would be any cleaner!! Upon return from my hols I dispatched one of my ...

Lincoln in General 28/03/2001

Lincoln Wot No Motorway

Lincoln in General As Iv'e just written several ops on dream destinations (I go on my hols this weekend so Im in the mood!) I felt it time to come back down to earth with my old home town of Lincoln. Lincoln the town that motorways forgot! There are no motorways in the entire county of Lincolnshire and its the sort of place you don't pass through to get anywhere. This is probably why it lacks sophistication but has retained its charm if a little outdated. It is a history fans dream with a very grand cathedral, castle and small museum. The "Up Hill" area by the cathedral is quaint with cobbled streets and tea shops. The best restaurants and bars can also be found "Up Hill". The absolute double of Leonardo De Caprio used to work behind the bar of the "Tap And Spile" pub don't know if he still does but he used to attract ladies of a certain age from miles aroud! The annual christmas market which attracts 100 thousand odd visitors is also held around this area.The stalls are mainly of the greasy chip and hot dog variety and what you'd find in Blackpool Im afraid but the atmosphere is congenial. The shopping in the main town centre is definitely on the up with a decent sized Debenhams and Binns along with the usual High St names. There are a few hotels including The White Hart ,a Holiday Inn and a Forte Posthouse.They all do special weekend deals. Overall Lincoln is still a lovely, relatively unspoilt city with enough to keep you amused for a weekend break. ...

Member Advice on Travel Preparation 28/03/2001

What To Pack In 2001

Member Advice on Travel Preparation Like all females of the species I have a tendancy to believe a nuclear war is iminent and I must always be prepared for any event or disaster especially when it comes to what to take when travelling. It might be a frightening thought but it is absolutely essential to take the minimum of kit if you want to be a "traveller" rather than a weighed down "tourist". Most airlines allow 20 kilos and that is an enormous amount. Try lugging 20 kilos in boiling temperatures after a squillion hour flight with a "somebody hit me over the head with a spade" hangover whilst fighting with the natives to secure a taxi! So what can't you possibly do without? In reality in this day and age there are few destinations left where you can't obtain absolutely everything that you can get at home,regretably. Obviously you don't want to waste your precious holly buying boring items and some things may cost more than at home. We are no longer an inexpensive Nation though and the days of everything is cheaper in Costa Bonkeydorm or Shagaluff are long since gone. First Aid Prescription drugs (take a copy of your prescription to anywhere where they still have the death penalty for drug abuse) Imodium Fabric plasters (4 at the most) Contraceptives (condoms if you are not with a regular partner, the death sentance is freely available worldwide if you ignore this one!) Paracetomol (no more than 12) Put your hypochondria on hold your going on holiday and you won't need the ...

Toronto 28/03/2001

The Perfect Weekend Break City

Toronto Toronto has got all the ingredients for a fantastic value for money weekend extravaganza! Think Canada and you think it's a world away but it really is'nt. I flew from Glasgow and the flight was under six hours,It can take longer than that to travel from the north to London or from the south to Edinburgh but you would certainly consider those city's for a weekender! Globespan do some fantastic deals for around £380.00 for a six night trip including a couple of nights in Niagra.They do use a basket case charter airline though! Toronto will leave shopaholics in a state of euphoria gasping for more! The exchange rate is brilliant and you get armfuls of clothing goodies for £100.00,be sure to travel with just a change of pants so you can fill your empty case with bounty. The huge Eaton centre is truely paradise with every kind of store you can imagine,there is also miles of shops underground , even the most expert shopper will run out of steam before seeing all thats on offer. I was lucky enough to see "The Phantom Of The Opera" at the fantastic Pantages theatre whilst in Toronto.The show was of course a delight but the Theatre itself is worth a visit in its own right with its outrageous chandeliers and decor. A short drive away is Niagra Falls which is a must see although I actually found the American falls(at the same spot) more dramatic. A helicopter ride over the falls costs around £15.00 per person. I strongly advise you to just get into the chopper ...

General: The Gambia 27/03/2001

Gamble With The Grub And Get A Runny Bum

General: The Gambia The Gambia is probably the cheapest long haul destination available and clear blue skies and piping hot temperatures are guaranteed. A six hour flight will take you to another world on another continent for under £300.00 if you shop around. I first went in the early 80's and found it unspoilt and enchanting,I then visited again some 12 years later and it was just the same. Gambia is an African country and not without poverty so you do have to take a little care. Malaria pills are essentail and you need to take them well before you go.A yellow fever jab is no longer compulsory but you'd be a daft dodo not to have one. The vaccine is live so you can't just pop along to the quacks and get it on demand.A phial of vaccine serves 10 so if you go as a couple and nobody else in your area wants a yellow fever jab when you do you have to pay for the whole lot about £80.00!!! Be paranoid about food hygiene, don't even think about consuming tap water,salads and shellfish! I had a very exciting encounter with dysentery in Gambia,very good for the diet not so good on a romantic holly paid for by a new boyfriend trying to impress,I left a lasting impression on him,his trousers,his shoes etc etc! Surprisingly the medical attention I received was first rate and I survived with my dromomaniac tendencies intact! Enough of the lavatorial side of Gambia! The beaches are clean ,the sand is white,the sea is turquoise,the people permanently smile if not a little crazy about ...

Auckland & Northland (New Zealand) 27/03/2001

Thermal Pants And Ear Muffs In August

Auckland & Northland (New Zealand) Auckland is New Zealand's largest city and is immaculate,clean ,bright and cosmopolitan and small enough to explore on foot. New Zealand is not exactly a weekend break away and "By eck" the journey is long especially if you go the Pacific route ,however,the rewards to be found in Auckland are worth the trauma. I went on a short stopover of six nights and found more than enough to keep me excitable without leaving the city. Hotels,Food and drink are high quality and medium priced,the roast lamb is tremendous and portions are huge! Must see's include a trip up the "Tower" Im sure they nicked it from Toronto as it's a dead ringer for the CN Tower. A short ferry ride across the harbour takes you to the village of Devonport. Devonport is a trip back in time, so unspoilt and untacky.There are fantastic views across the bay where you can see the whole of Auckland and dozens of small islands and volcano's.It's here that the Whitbread round the world yaht race finishes. The Auckland Antartic centre is a delight and so different to anything you'd find in our neck of the woods. Penguins and things that live where it's extra cold in abundance! The centre includes a museum dedicated to Scott of the Antartic and you can view original diary's,equipment and even the food items they used. Talking of the Antartic,do dress for it if you visit in our summer! Trouble is if you go to New Zealand in July/August you are going to pass through some furnace like temperatures to ...

Darwin (Australia) 26/03/2001

City And Outback In One

Darwin (Australia) Darwin in the top middle bit of Australia is very different to vibrant Sydney and perfect Cairns but wonderful all the same. If you want to go to Oz in our summer but the depths of their winter and still want sizzling temperatures you won't go wrong with Darwin. It is not sophisticated and the hotels are not five star but you will certainly get a feel for true Australian culture. I timed my trip in August to coincide with the Darwin Beer Can Festival, you may have seen it on telly programmes like Transworld Sport where the crazy Aussies make boats out of beer cans and race each other having first downed the cans contents! The festival is held on the beach (where else!) and in true aussie style is loud and raucous,the smell of beer and barbies permeates the air. It really is a "feel good" couple of day's and even the most miserable git can't help but get caught up in the wild party atmosphre. Unlike the Britsh yob at play there was no blood in the gutters and no hint of any violence whatsoever.Granny's and very small people mixed happily with the god like aussie he-men. Within an hours drive of Darwin you are into stunning outback territory. I shall never forget the sign on the toilet doors of an isolated beer shop in the outback,BLOKES and SHEILA'S this sums up the Darwin area it is everything you always thought was typically Australia. You do need to take care with the wildlife and don't even think about getting lost! Crocs,snakes and crawly things ...

Cairo (Egypt) 26/03/2001

Blow Your Head Off City

Cairo (Egypt) Cairo is without doubt the most foreign place I have ever been and definitely stimulates all of the senses! As a dromomaniac (the compulsive urge to travel!)I am always seeking unique and slightly unerveing travel experiences and Cairo did not dissapoint. I made the five hour journey by road from Port Said along side the the Suez Canal accompanied by o.k cowboy gun weilding armed guards.....em you don't get this when you go to Frinton -on-sea? The Egyptian landscape was simply spectacular and still etched in my mind. Camels and oxen and children on horses,mud houses and women with babies strapped to their backs as they work the land. Like something out of "Jesus of Nazerath" unchanged by time. Nothing could have prepared me for the sights,sounds,tastes and feel of Cairo! It seems like the whole population of Egypt is condensed into this bubbling cauldron of a city. Cows ,Camels,Chikens and children weave there way into the huge volume of traffic. The rule of the road in Cairo is basically that there arn't any rules! Nobody obeys traffic lights or road signs and and they drive on whatever side of the road they feel like! The noise, fumes and intense heat are surreal. The Cairo Pyramids have to be seen and touched of course and are on the outskirts of the city only a very short drive away. They are breathtaking but beware the crazy camels,their mad keepers will try to make you mount a camel then charge you a fortune before letting you get off. Very ...

St. Louis 26/03/2001

Travellers Real America

St. Louis If you want a real taste of an American city and want to avoid your fellow country men then St Louis is the perfect destination. I went to St Louis quite by chance. It was my first trip to the US and I did'nt know where I wanted to go so I simply put a pin in a map, booked a flight and packed my rucksack! The flight was around eleven hours with a stop off in Atlanta. Atlanta airport is a mind blowing experience in itself with robot controlled trains and fabulous bars with "atmosphere". St Louis is dominated by The Cardinals baseball team and the stunning St Louis arch. Both are essentials on your itinery. The Budweiser brewery is also a must as is a paddle boat ride on the Missippi! I also stumbled upon St Louis central railway station which might not inspire much excitement unless your a train spotter! How wrong .... The shopping at the railway station is fantastic with over a hundred stores and I watched a free live performance of The Eagles (what was left of the originals in the early 90's). I did'nt pre book any hotels but had no problem finding great places to rest my swede at rock bottom prices. Holiday Inn and Day's Inn are both central and cheap. The Adams Mark hotel is wonderful for a night of pampering and the bar is superb for people watching,karoke and gloating at the dolly bird bar maids(if you are a boy!)who all look like super models. The Famous Barr Department store is open 24 hours and is vast. I spent 8 day's in St Louis and ...

Dubai (United Arab Emirates) 24/03/2001

Shopping Mecca For Make Up and Perfume

Dubai (United Arab Emirates) Dubai is not just the capital of the world for duty free cosmetics (I'll get on to that in a minute!) its also a terrific destination if you like unsurpassed luxury and customer service AND! if you can tolerate furnace like temperatures! Dubai is just a seven hour flight from the UK and therefore ideal for a short break. It is definitely a luxury destination and you'll never find any last minute bargain packages,however,if you shop around you should be able to put your own package together for a five night stay for around £500.00. Trailfinders is a good place to start. Dubai is not huge but all of the hotels are in the six star category with prices to match for food and drink. A stunning feast for two in the Dubai Forte Grand Hotel costs around £60.00. Alcohol is freely (not exactly free at around £4.50 for a pint of lager!) available for tourists in hotels, so don't fear having your little toe chopped off as punishment for taking a tipple. The city of Dubai is very, very high tech and like something out of a sci-fi film. The surounding dessert is like taking a step back to biblical times complete with camels,oasis and nomadic tribes and quite frankly took my breath away with its dramatic beauty. A trip in a four wheel drive across the sand dunes is mighty scary but a good laugh but do it before that £60.00 dinner! Remember the old Fry's Turkish Delight adverts and "Carry on follow that camel" well thats Dubai! Most importantly don't melt your ...

Virgin Retail Group 15/03/2001

Virgin Energy Richard You Let Me Down

Virgin Retail Group The Virgin group are now selling Gas and Electricity to domestic consumers and virgin water(!) is also on the horizon. Two weeks ago I broke a habit of a life time and allowed myself to be talked into signing on the dotted line by a very convincing door to door salesman from Virgin Energy. I have no problems with my current Gas and Lekky suppliers,Elf and Southern Electric,however,Freddy Virgin rep promised much saving of spondulix and the ease of having one bill for both utilities. Live life on the edge I thought and duly signed up. I then thought about this.... Current Gas and Lekky paid by monthly direct debit....... Husband in foreign parts for entire winter,me have heating on at tropical temperature 24 hours a day and all lights ablaze to deter rape,pillage and serial killers. Big,Big bill's to pay before switch to new Mr Branson supplier..... Armed with tweezers,a hammer,pliers and other boy's tools(could'nt find that little metre box key jobby anywhere), I read my metres and dug out my old bills from southern Electric and Elf. I was so glad that I did as Virgin Energy would not have saved me a single sheckle! Me being me actually read the small print and Virgin Energy charge 9.884 pence per whotsit for electric and southern charge 6.04 pence per whotsit!!!! The Virgin price does include vat but southern also discount for payment by direct debit. Virgin charge 1.875 pence per whotsit for gas and Elf charge 1.15 pence per whotsit and Elf also ...

Bath & Body Works (Shop) 14/03/2001

Potions And Lotions Akimbo

Bath &  Body Works (Shop) The Bath And Body Works is a pongy paradise for girly's everywhere. Along similar lines to the Body Shop, which has got a little tired and predictable. I get the impression that the Body Shop is in black & white whilst the Bath And Body Works is in full technicolour with flashing lights! Bath And Body Works shops are bright and airy and exceptionally colourful,with a huge range of different and imaginative eco friendly products to scent every part of your anatomy and your home. My particular favourite is the Plumeria range,it's fruity but not sickly and very sensual. Products in the plumeria range include,shampoo,conditioner,hair gel,hair spray,hair perfume,body splash,scented body glitter stick,soap,shower foam,bath oil,bath foam,shower,scrub,body lotion,body cream,deodorant,foot cream,hand cream,candles,pot pourri,room fragerance,linen spray. If you fall in love with a particular Bath And Body Works aroma, and there are at least twenty to choose from,then you can niff of it from head to toe and beyond! Prices are very reasonable from less than £1.00 to luxury gift hampers costing an arm and a leg ,a beautifully scented arm and leg at that! I am particularly impressed with The Bath And Body Works as I have never suffered the irritation of some dizzy bint approaching me with that simpering "Can I help you,are you looking for anything in particular madam?" To which I reply "Help me with what exactly?,and "Im particularly looking for an egg poaching set ...

Member Advice on Wills and Legal Issues 13/03/2001

One Hundred and Twenty Five Pound D.I.Y Divorce

Member Advice on Wills and Legal Issues Divorce is always stressful so this may not be the most entertaining of ops! Consider that the average marriage in the UK lasts 9 years and 4 months and almost one in three marriages ends in divorce then all of us will be touched in some way by divorce at some time. The only happy people amongst this emotional chaos are the legal profession who at minimum will charge you £80.00 per hour. Much of what they tell you can be read in magazines and books from the library. They will inevitably advise you to argue over custody of everything right down to the last sheet of lavotory roll and instill a belief in you that solicitors are essentail to your very existance. By all means go for your free half hour of legal advice that most solicitors offer regardless of whether you have a lottery winners bank balance or an overdraft the size of the third world debt. If, however , you and the impending ex are not at the point of cleaning under the toilet rim with each others toothbrush and can reach agreement on who is to have what ,then do it your self and save a great deal of cash. Even if you end up being a little more generous towards your partner than you desire, you are likely to spend considerably less in the long run. How to get divorced! Visit your local magistrates court and ask for the necessary forms. Complete the forms. They are not complicated,just name ,address,date and place of marriage and a few sentences about your grounds for divorce eg ...

Health & Safety General 11/03/2001

Dull Women Have Immaculate Homes

Health & Safety General Well thats my excuse anyway! More importantly housework is actually dangerous and not to be undertaken lightly. Im sure our resident Ciao experts, Trampus and Doctor to be judithritchie would agree with my claim that more accidents occur in the home than anywhere else. I just want to relate a couple of incidents as wise words of warning should you feel a sudden desire to leap from your PC chair and burn up a calorie on the chores...quite simply just stay where you are! Laundry 1) Do not over load the washing machine with husbands chemical protection suit. Result Toxic smoke in kitchen and new washing machine required. 2)Pay attention when hanging out washing on the line.Ensure paths under washing lines are non slip. Result Sister-in-law spent 5 nights in hospital having nearly hung herself after tripping and wrapping her washing line somehow round her neck.She also suffered a severely broken arm. Making a cup of coffee 1)Ensure insects can't get into cups. Result I reached for a mug and a spider the size of a small dog was sitting at the bottom of it,I hurled said mug across the kitchen hitting and smashing my glass fronted cupboard,husband then cut foot whilst cleaning up the debris. cooking Avoid using fresh chillies at all costs. These should carry a health warning,on no account pick your nose or any intimate and sensitive part of your own or anyone else's anatomy with chillie on your hands. I will spare you the detail but divorce and ...
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