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Always feel that I am at work!! Out of work, though, I spend lots of time with my teenage son, reading and crafting!

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since 05/03/2006


Mystery Shopping 18/05/2017

Mystery Shopping

Mystery Shopping Mystery Shopping Background Mystery shopping is where a company or firm hires a mystery shopping company to assess their service. The service of the company can be measured regularly by the company in the way of mystery shoppers. The company will offer the work out to a bank of mystery shoppers online and it is usually a first come first served basis. The mystery shopping worker will then file a report online to the mystery shopping company they are working for who, in turn, will then report the results back to the company who are assessing their service. Why I Started It I began mystery shopping over 20 years ago when I worked in a bank and I found out we had mystery shoppers who came in every few months. I asked a colleague what mystery shopping entailed and she explained the background of it. She also said that she did mystery shopping herself in her spare time so I asked her how I could get into it. She gave me a phone number, I phoned up and got onto the company's register. It didn't take long for my first job to come through - it was with Woolworths, the follow up job was there too. Both jobs consisted of me going into the store to buy small items, which were stated by the mystery shopping company, and then going home and filling out a report. At that time the report was on paper and it was about 7 or 8 pages long. I had to write down anything I had to been told to look for, such as promotions in the shop, posters, whether the shop was looking tidy or untidy, ...

Aviemore Area (Scotland) 11/05/2017


Aviemore Area (Scotland) AVIEMORE Aviemore is a hidden gem situated in the north of Scotland. I say hidden, because it is so far north that many people don't realise it is here, and also because of the size of it - it is a small town so the implications are that there won't be much to do. In actual fact, there are lots of things to do in Aviemore, and the surrounding areas, for the whole family. The area of land around Aviemore is so vast that there are lots of outdoor activities. About Aviemore Aviemore is about half an hour's drive south from Inverness. You can also reach it by bus (there are regular buses that go to Aviemore as well as buses that go down south - Glasgow, Edinburgh - that pass through it) or by train. Buses stop right in the centre of Aviemore, on the High Street and there is a train station that you can reach from the main street so both are easily accessible. The population in Aviemore is less than 3,000 (approximately 2,830) so it is not a huge town but it always seems to be very busy with visitors. What to do in Aviemore "Outdoor Sports" Ski-ing Many people come to Aviemore for the outdoor sports, which play a big part in Aviemore. There is an out door ski centre where people come to ski - - this is set up the Cairngorm Mountains and is frequently busy. Snowboarding is also available here. This is a popular place and many people come to learn to ski here, or bring their kids to learn to ski here (there are instructors on site) and ...

Bannatynes Health Club, Inverness 23/04/2017

Bannatynes Inverness

Bannatynes Health Club, Inverness BANNATYNES Membership I first took out my Bannatynes Membership in 2010 when I went in with my mum so she could book an appointment at the spa. There are various membership options and at the time I took out my membership, I took out the Monday to Friday option and only took it out for myself (I had a Highlife Highland membership at that time so kept that open so that if I wanted to go swimming at the weekend or to take my son swimming I would just take him to the local authority pool). The Bannatynes membership for Monday to Friday was approximately £32. After having the membership for a few months, I decided it was easier to have one membership somewhere and that it would be about the same to upgrade my Bannatynes one and cancel the local authority one. I got my son added on to the Bannatynes membership and upgraded to a full week membership (weekends too) and it would have been £39 for me to upgrade to weekends and then I added my son on and it was a further £12 to add him on (£52 altogether). The membership has gone up slightly over the years and is now £54 for the two of us per month. It is a lot of money, I think this cost only bothers me really when I think of the restrictions that my son has to get in and I will explain this in a minute. Where the Facility is Located I am quite lucky in that I can drive but if my car was ever in the garage or the weather was bad and I did not want to drive, I could easily take the bus down as it is located on the bus route between ...

The Husband's Secret - Liane Moriarty 22/04/2017

The Husband's Secret

The Husband's Secret - Liane Moriarty I had never read any of Liane Moriarty's books until a friend at work gave me a copy of her book 'The Husband's Secret'. She told me that when she started reading it she read most of it in one sitting as she could not put it down. I began to read it and the first couple of pages are always the main decider for me on whether I am going to continue with the book or not. I wasn't too sure about this one to begin with - it began quite routinely with a mum chatting with her daughters and it seemed a bit mundane. Then one of her daughters asked her about the Berlin Wall coming down and the mum said that she was at the demolition of it with her friend. I don't know why this got my attention but it did and I am so glad it held my interest. Once I got past the first few pages, I found it hard to put down too. This book is set in Australia. The main characters in the book are Cecilia (the mum who is chatting with her girls at the start of the book), Tess and Rachel. Each chapter revolves around one of the characters. Cecilia is married to John-Paul and they have three daughters. Tess is married to Will and they have a young son. Rachel is widowed and has a grown up son, Rob, a daughter-in-law Lauren and a grandson, Jacob. The three females are unaware but they are connected by a secret. The secret involves something that happened to someone years ago and some of the characters in the book are still living with the aftereffects. As well as the secret, there is also other things ...

Going It Alone - Clare Dowling 05/04/2017

Going it Alone

Going It Alone - Clare Dowling I picked up a copy of this book at my local library. The cover of the book is turqoise with flowers around the side of it and a clock in the middle. I thought it looked suitably like a chick lit book (my favourite type of read) so thought I would take it out. I have also read books by Clare Dowling before and she writes really well. The main character of the story is Millie, who is married to Andrew and desperate to become a mum. Unfortunately, Andrew has just started a new job and is reassessing his life - he now no longer wants children. Millie has to decide whether her need for a child is greater than her love for her husband - at 39 she decides it is (she may never get a chance to become a mum if she leaves it too long), and so the next step is to go it alone in her quest for motherhood. She begins to look for clinics who may help her. She finds a clinic in Spain and heads out there (although other people have plans when they hear that she is going to Ireland - her solo trip ends up being hijacked by family members who are unaware of why she is going away). While she is away, her mind gets distracted by something - she thought her only focus would be the clinic and the possibility of becoming a mother but something happens while she is away that she did not see coming. I am not going to reveal the outcome of the story - you will have to read it yourself to find out if Millie succeeds in getting what she wants or not. I do like the way that the author has written ...

Blair Drummond Safari And Adventure Park, Stirling 10/03/2017

Blair Drummond Safari Park

Blair Drummond Safari And Adventure Park, Stirling Blair Drummond Safari Park Where it is / How to Get There I had fancied visiting Blair Drummond Safari Park for a number of years - each year I took my son on holiday we would pass the sign for it while going down the road and I would remember about it again! We finally got around to going in the summer of 2013. It is situated in Stirling, about half an hour's drive from Glasgow. We live in the north of Scotland (Inverness) but it wasn't a long journey for us but I think it is well located wherever you are as it is less than an hour from Glasgow or Edinburgh so if you are handy if you live in the area but if you don't live in the area, there are plenty of things to do if you wanted to come for a holiday and you have a choice then of staying in Glasgow, Edinburgh or Stirling (or even Perth, which is not that far either from Stirling). If you are driving to the location, you just need to head for the M9 and take Junction 10 off it. Public transport works well too as you can either get a bus or train to Stirling and there are buses going out from the train station/bus station to the Safari Park. The Safari Park is a few miles out from the centre of Stirling. Where I Stayed I booked into a bed and breakfast close to the Safari Park - I thought it would be easier. The bed band breakfast was a lovely bed and breakfast (I would recommend it) but because we hadn't driven down, it was quite far out and left us quite stuck for doing other things. If I take the car down again ...

Jacobite Steam Railway, United Kingdom 02/03/2017

Steam Train from Fort William to Mallaig

Jacobite Steam Railway, United Kingdom Fort William to Mallaig Stream Train My son is a huge Harry Potter fan so a few years ago when we found out that the steam train going from Fort William to Mallaig had been involved in the filming of some of the Harry Potter films, we decided to book a trip on the train. Tickets We live in Inverness so are about an hour and a half from Fort William so it was feasible for us to do it in one day. We booked our tickets . At the time my son was under 12 so he was classed as a child so got our tickets booked for approximately £50. There are standard tickets and there are first class tickets - we took the standard day return ones (we sat in one of the big open coaches). I have just checked the prices of the tickets and they have gone up slightly (although not by much) - an adult day return ticket is now £35 compared to the £33 I paid a few years ago and a child day return ticket is £20. You can also buy single tickets which are useful if you want to stay overnight in Mallaig or if you are going on a coach tour and just need a one way trip to Fort William - the single tickets cost £30 for an adult and £18 for a child. The first class tickets cost £59 for an adult day return and £32 for a child day return, or £54 for an adult single ticket and £27 for a child single ticket. How to Get There The steam train runs from Fort William to Mallaig. Fort William is approximately an hour and a half drive from Inverness, via the A82 Loch Ness Road. I am not keen on driving along ...

I Heart Christmas - Lindsey Kelk 13/02/2017

I heart Christmas

I Heart Christmas - Lindsey Kelk This was the first book I have read by Lindsey Kelk and I was not disappointed. She has written a series of 'I heart' books, this 'I heart Christmas' being one of them. The main character of this book is Angela, an English girl who now lives in New York with her American husband Alex. Angela has always loved Christmas but in America, where everything is bigger and better - Christmas ice skating, department store full of Christmas shopping, etc - Angela cannot wait to get into the festive spirit. She has a week off work so she can immerse herself in all Christmas things. What could possibly go wrong?!! It seems that other people have other ideas about her taking a week off work to have a stress free Christmas week. Angela works in a magazine and she finds herself suddenly in charge of the magazine - something she has never done before! Bang goes her week off! Other things begin to happen to her that week, things that make you feel very sorry for her and you feel very stressed on her behalf but at the same time some of the scenarios are really funny and you cannot help laughing out loud (well I couldn't anyway). Alex announces that they are moving house, Angela's best friend from back home arrives on her doorstep with her two year old, her best American friend announces she wants a baby, either with or without a partner, as well as stressful work things happening. Her parents also decide they want to pay a visit! I had a slow start on this book - maybe because it was ...

Too Close for Comfort - Clare Dowling 27/10/2016

Too Close for Comfort

Too Close for Comfort - Clare Dowling I have read one of Clare Dowling's books before and this one, like the other one I read, was fantastic. Dowling is an excellent author and I don't know why I haven't read more of her books, she writes extremely well with an emphasis put on families and relationships. The main theme running through this book is the relationship between two sisters Ali and Emma. When Ali was young she went to America for a holiday and ended up not coming home - much to her family's dismay. The book begins with letters that were written between Ali and Emma around that time so this builds the foundations for their relationship. Now, about 16 years on, Ali has come home. She has married and had three children but things are not working out in her marriage so she has fled America with her three children and come back to Ireland. Although she is the oldest in the family, she doesn't seem to be good at facing up to things, even although she comes across as quite bolshy and in-your-face. She doesn't want to stay with her ageing parents, but chooses to stay with Emma, who is going through her own heartbreak. Emma puts Ali up thinking that it would just be for a few nights and that whatever it was Ali was running away from would blow over. It is about half way through the book before we find out what is wrong with Emma - I am not going to reveal this storyline, but the author has written about it really well. It is not something that is normally written about in fiction and it is perhaps one of ...

As Good As It Gets? - Fiona Gibson 26/08/2016

As Good as it Gets

As Good As It Gets? - Fiona Gibson I have read books by Fiona Gibson before so, when I saw this one in my local library, I thought I would try it. It was a really good read and was just as observational and witty as Gibson's other books. This book is based around Charlotte, a wife and mother who works at a posh crisp factory. The book has a prologue where we learn that Charlotte's oldest child, Rosie, is not her husband's child. When Charlotte discovered that she was expecting Rosie, Rosie's dad disappeared off the scene and his mother was left to deal with the situation. Charlotte then met Will, they married and Will helped Charlotte to bring up Rosie. They went on to have another child, Ollie. I think this story is important as nowadays there are lots of step families and children who don't live with their real dads. I am not living with my son's father so I felt I could really relate to Charlotte's situation. The book begins with Charlotte and Rosie out shopping for Will's birthday present. While they are in a shop, Rosie gets scouted for a modelling company and begins a modelling adventure. While making up photos for her portfolio, in interview and pictures are done with her and her mum. It triggers Rosie's dad popping back up into their lives as he reads the interview. I don't want to give away what happens so you will just have to read it for yourself, but the feelings that Will has - looking at his self-worth, feeling that Rosie will forget about him if her real dad is on the scene and insecurity - ...

Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop - Abby Clements 23/07/2016

Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop

Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop - Abby Clements This is the first book that I have read of Abby Clements and I really enjoyed it. It is circled around two sisters, Anna and Immogen, and the relationship they have with their grandmother. The book opens up with a scene involving their grandmother. Unfortunately, they lose their grandmother and get left her ice cream shop. To begin with they don't know what to do as Anna is settled in her job and Immogen is living the dream abroad, travelling and taking photographs. She comes home for her grandmother's funeral and they decide to make a go of the shop. There are hiccups along the way though, so whether they are successful or not is something that you will have to read for yourself - I don't want to give the story away. The story revolves around the shop and the sisters' relationship with each other and with boyfriends. The girls are both different but have a close relationship. They have a close relationship with their parents too, which helps their dad who has taken his mother's death really badly. The only thing that I thought was a bit strange was Immogen, when she came home from abroad made out that she and her mother had a bad relationship and didn't get along so well, but the only evidence of a bad relationship was her mother worrying about her being abroad - which I don't think is a unusual thing for a mother - there was nothing else to base it on. There was a change of scene throughout the book too - the shop was based in Brighton but Anna went to Italy at one ...

Lovestruck - Julia Llewellyn 07/07/2016


Lovestruck - Julia Llewellyn I had never read any of Julia Llewellyn books before but this one caught my eye in my local library so thought I would give it a read. The story, I thought, got off to a bit of a slow start. It is based on Rosie and Jake, a married couple with two children. The beginning of the story sees them get together so that you can see how happy they were when they first met. Then it jumps on to the present day. Rosie and Jake hadn't been together all that long when their children arrived. Jake was a struggling actor when they first met and Rosie was the main breadwinner. Nowadays, though, Jake has made the big time with a regular part in a television drama. They have just moved into a big house at the start of the book but rather than feel envious you can almost feel it is too pretentious. The author then pours out Rosie's innermost feelings and Rosie thinks that the house is too much, everything is too much - you feel that she wants her old life back. The author has a great way in this book of making you realise that money and material possessions are not everything and that sometimes, people are more important. Rosie has been feeling that since the fame and money came about, that Jake has not been the same to her - that their relationship has been put on the back burner. Rosie's best friend, Christy, is Jake's agent and Rosie also feels that Christy is putting Jake before their friendship as she constantly tries to get work for Jake. I loved how this book goes back and fore ...

Take Mum Out - Fiona Gibson 17/06/2016

Take Mum Out

Take Mum Out - Fiona Gibson I have read some of Fiona Gibson's books before and this one, like the others, was very well written. One of the books I previously read by this author - 'Lucky Girl' - I found quite a heavy read, but in general she usually writes quite light hearted, easy to follow books with the right amount of wit and humour. This book revolves around a main character, Alice, who is bringing up two teenage boys on her own. She has broken up from the boys' dad some years before and now her three closest friends are each trying to set her up with a date each - it is like a competition. Her friends all think that they know best for her and each set her up with someone. Even her mother gets in on the act and decides that she likes the sound of one of them, it's as if Alice has no mind of her own! This book is set around Alice's life with her boys, her school secretary job and her meringue business and, importantly to the plot, her dates! It is a very light hearted book and it was a very quick and easy book to read. With a 13 year old myself, I could really relate to the relationship between Alice and her boys. There are things that I could really relate to because the situation with the boys in the book not seeing so much of their dad and Alice bringing up the boys on her own. I read some parts of the book and thought that I was glad it wasn't just me who thought or said certain things. Alice lives in Edinburgh, so it was nice to read about different parts of Edinburgh that I have ...

The Great Village Show - Alexandra Brown 07/06/2016

The Great British Show

The Great Village Show - Alexandra Brown This is a second book in a series by Alexandra Brown, the first one being The Great Christmas Knit Off, which saw Sybil into the village and the book had Sybil as the main character and in first person. This book was confusing as it was part of a series, set in the same village as the first - Tindledale - and I kept thinking that it was Sybil speaking in first person but they had made the main character of this book a different one - Megan, acting deputy head of the local school. It took me a while in the book to realise that it was a different character. The book is set around the annual village show. Inspectors have been into the school and are thinking of closing it as there are not enough pupils in it. Megan is determined that this will be the best show ever so that it can entice people - especially people with children - into the village. Megan, like Sybil in the first book, is friendly with Lawrence - owner of the local B&B but, unlike the first book, we didn't see much of Lawrence in this one. He is a lively character and I wish we had seen more of him in this book. There are new villagers coming in to the village in this book. In the first book, the main character Sybil was the newcomer to the village, so it was nice in this book to see it from the other side and see the main character as a long term resident seeing the newcomers coming in. Jessie arrives to the village with her husband and her children but you know straight away that there is a story there, Also ...

You and Me, Always - Jill Mansell 16/05/2016

You and Me, Always

You and Me, Always - Jill Mansell As usual, Jill Mansell has written another brilliant book - I have read them all so far and they are all of the same theme - light hearted chic lit. The main character in this book is Lily, who turns 25 at the beginning of the book. Lily lost her mum at the age of 8 and was brought up by Coral and Nick, friends of her mum. Coral and Nick had no friends of their own so it worked out well for them all. Other main characters in the book are brother and sister, Dan and Patsy - Dan is Lily's age and they get on really well, but nothing has ever happened between them. Lily gets a letter each year from her mum, the letters were left to Coral to give to Lily on her birthday. This year's one is to be the last one and in it she tells Lily the name of the love of her life (not Lily;s father though). Lily manages to track down this man, and they build a good friendship. Lily's father then manages to track her down, thanks to a relationship she had with a famous film star. I loved this book but it is, like other Jill Mansell books, predictable and quite far fetched in places. I think the path that Lily took relationship wise was a bit too predictable. I also think that the way that Patsy is with her ex husband and his new partner is too good to be true. I still love the book, though, it is complete escapism and it didn't take me long to get through it. The village sounded an ideal place to live and it would be really nice if all relationships ended as well as the ones in this ...
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