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since 23/07/2002


If you were stranded on a desert island, what 5 items would you take? 27/04/2004

Sun, sand, but unfortunately I'm stranded!!!!

If you were stranded on a desert island, what 5 items would you take? I was trawling through the Ciao cafe looking for something to write in when I saw this category - interesting I thought, but what exactly do they mean by stranded?? I assume that it means 'on your own' with no living thing with you and with no opportunities for help, which kind of cleared a few points up in my mind:- Firstly, anything to aid games that I may want to play with Dido or Ruth England (although if she wanted to do a Wish You Were Here feature on my desert island she would be most welcome!!) would be out of the question - not much point taking useless items with me. Secondly, in the absence of any friendly crab (as in the Carling ad) who may be happy to generate electricity for me, any electrically powered items would again be of no use whatsoever. Thirdly, there seems little point actually taking items such as flares - if I'm going to be stuck here I may as well get to like it. Now, if I had a preference I wouldn't have chosen as paradise desert island with wall-to-wall sunshine, no rainy seasons, lovely golden sandy beach and turquoise water let me tell you!!! But as it is, what can you do if you happen to get stranded there, I'll have to make the best of a bad job. So here, in no particular order, are the five things that I would try to make sure that I had:- 1) Sharp Knife Now I imagine that my diet is going to consist mostly of any fish that I am likely to catch and whatever fruity kind of delicacies my island might have in store for me. ... 05/04/2004

Speak to the monkey not.... I'm not really a theatregoer - I've been to a couple in my time, but have had the tickets bought for me by someone else. Last summer I booked a surprise trip to London for myself and the future missus-to-be and one of the things that she loves to do is to see musicals. I decided that Grease would be a nice safe bet, and a good musical for me to cut my teeth with as I don't think you'll find many people that don't know the story of Grease. The whole trip to London was over 2 months in the planning, and I had found numerous sites that sold tickets for London Musicals, but to be honest I didn't have a clue of the differences between stalls and circles, upper and lower areas, restricted view seats, and why some sites were able to sell tickets at half the price of others. Whilst doing my research I came across a site called which told me everything I needed to know and helped me choose which were the best tickets to buy. ---What is For me it is actually very difficult to describe what theatremonkey is - mainly because I get the impression that the person behind the site don't actually know himself / herself what the main purpose actually is!! It advertises itself on its homepage as a site that tells you "what theatregoers tell you that box office staff don't - an Independent Guide to London Theatre and Concert Venues". Essentially, is it a multi-faceted theatre companion which gives information on a variety of things ...

Deepdale Stadium 18/03/2004

The View from the 'Dale

Deepdale Stadium Deepdale - home to Preston North End (PNE). A place that I have frequented on many an occasion, and indeed one of my former workplaces. You see, during my student years I worked there as a Ground Safety Steward - not really for the money, but to be able to watch PNE matches for free and to help me pay for some away trips. But what is it like, what can you do there, and more importantly, what are you likely to find if you ever have to travel there? ---Brief History--- The history of Deepdale goes back to 1875 - it was originally bought by members of a cricket club who played on nearby Moor Park. Looking for a new home, the club took the lease of a field less than 1/2 a mile away in an area of Preston called Deepdale. Initially used as a cricket pitch the club became financially stricken, and envious of the success of local football teams at that time, the cricket club decided to turn its hand to football. It was in 1878 that the first football game was played under official rules at Deepdale - a team that called themselves Preston North End as they were from the 'North End' of town lost 1-0 to Eagley. It led to the 'official' creation of Preston North End Football Club in 1880 and Deepdale was to be it's home. And so Deepdale evolved - standing terraces were built, but it continued to be a ramshackle ground throughout most of its existence. It was in the mid 1980's that the biggest change to Deepdale since it's 'birth' as a football ground was made. In 1986, Preston ... 01/03/2004

Not quite the master As you may already know from reading my other ops I went to London last summer, and when we were there we wanted to see a West End show. I checked many of the sites that were openly selling tickets to find that either their range of seats available were poor or they charged the Earth in booking and admin fees. I finally came to settle on Ticketmaster. ---Site Design--- When you visit the Ticketmaster site, you come across what looks a pretty basic outfit - no snazzy graphics, dominated by a white background and very little actual branding by them to state that this is their website that you have visited. Down the left hand side, you have a small box that holds a search facility, a latest news box (which basically gives the three newest events that they have tickets for and the chance to sign up for their email alert) and 5 or 6 adverts which strangely are for their own site. Funnily enough, the only part of the website that contains adverts for external companies is a bar at the very top of the page - even this doesn't intrude into the site. Down the right-hand side, there is a box which contains a link to their special promotions of the week, competitions and the page from where you can buy gift vouchers which I will come to in more depth later. There is then a box which contains what they describe as the 2 hot events of the week - whether this is true and tickets are hot or whether this is a marketing ploy depends on how cynical your mind is!! They then have a ...

Top 10 Footballers 14/11/2003

The team to beat all teams

Top 10 Footballers OK, so an op on the top 10 footballers leaves a lot open to personal preference. It could be the 10 greatest English players, 10 best current players, 10 best players of a particular club and so on, the list is endless. In my view they all fall down in one place - there are 11 players on a football team, so here is my slightly adapted Top 10 Footballers op - the top 11 footballers to make the all-time dream team! And I am going for an attacking 3-5-2 formation!! --- #1 - Goalkeeper - Peter Schmeichel --- Born - 18/11/1963, Gladsaxe, Denmark Before I broke my leg and got the hint that 4 hospital visits in 3 years was trying tell me to retire at the age of 21, I was a goalkeeper. Nothing fantastic, but good enough to be invited for semi-pro trials before the leg went. As such the goalkeeper has always been my favourite position on the field, and in my view a good goalkeeper transmits confidence throughout the team. At his peak this guy had it all - a great command of his penalty area, the level of concentration needed when you are out of the action for long periods of a game, the confidence of his team mates and the ability to pull of stunning saves that he really shouldn't have made. I remember one for Manchester United against Rapid Vienna, in which he emulated the famous Gordon Banks save, but I think this one was better - one of the best that I have ever seen. As such he sneaks into my team just ahead of Banks who is an England legend. Now retired, he does ...

London Eye, London 04/11/2003

My 'Woman from Del Monte' experience

London Eye, London So, I had my reasons to do it (which will become apparent later on) and booked a long weekend in London. I went through to get my accommodation, booked my train tickets through GNER, all I had left to do now was sort out what to do. As it turned out the London Eye would be the main attraction of the weekend. ---Background--- Many areas throughout the world created special attractions and landmarks to celebrate the turning of the Millennium. In London, one of the attractions was the then named 'Millennium Wheel'. At a total cost of £75m it took 16 months from the first piece to be made until it took it's first passengers in 2000. I remember watching TV and there being a news focus showing the mammoth task of lifting the wheel from it's original position stretched across the Thames to the moment when it became upright, bolted in place and London's newest tourist attraction. It was actually the second attempt as the first effort had been postponed to allow safety checks on a defective cable! Sponsored by British Airways, the Eye is 135 metres tall, making it the tallest observation wheel in the world and over half the height of Canary Wharf. ---Location--- The Eye is ideally situated on the South Bank area of the River Thames, and sits in between Jubilee Gardens and County Hall. It is easily accessible from Westminster Bridge or from the South Bank Riverside Walkway from the Hungerford Bridge direction. It is less than 5 mins walk from ...

Cahoot 16/09/2003

Two hoots for cahoot

Cahoot Around this time last year I had a small sum of money that I wanted to put somewhere - nothing risky, just somewhere where I wouldn't be tempted to use it and could save and add to it for a holiday this summer. I saw a pop-up for a Zurich bank account which offered the best interest rate, and a free case of wine if you were eligible which I was. I know quite a few Ciaoers took advantage of this, but a couple of weeks later, they published poor financial results and closed their online banking arm, giving each customer their wine and £200 good will with no strings attached. So, back to square 1, but with another £200 in the fund, I found Cahoot to be the next best interest rate and so joined them. I opened a current account and savings account - both of which will be the central focus of this review. ---Applying--- Applying was fairly easy and is online only. You go to their homepage, click on apply and are taken to an interim page which informs you of their eligibility criteria, and what information they are going to need from you. It's all basic straightforward stuff. You choose a login name, password, and enter your mothers maiden name and a memorable place and a memorable year - all of which will form the basis of future logging in to your account. Once you have entered that information, you enter your address, current bank details, whether or not you want to switch your accounts over to Cahoot, and your employment details. Stage 2 is when you choose your ... 02/09/2003

Total Ease She had been working hard for a year, had a temporary contract extended three times until it eventually culminated into a successful interview for a permanent teaching post. I had got a promotion at work a couple of months earlier, and so I got round to thinking about booking a surprise trip away for us both to London, but it would all depend on the price. But where would I start? I went to the trusty NHS Discounts site (see one of my earlier ops for details of this great site) and looked in their travel section for hotels and found - no NHS Discounts specifically but claiming to offer discount prices for over 15,000 hotels on over 3,000 destinations throughout the world. So this was to be my first and as it turned out only port of call. Initial searching On entering the site, you are subjected to a pretty basic homepage. A kind of pale mustard and green in colour, it gives you 5 options - either a hotel search, a search for groups of 10 or more people, special offers, sightseeing tours or to log in to your account. You don't have to set up an account just to search - you only need to do it if you make a booking. Your best bet is to go straight to the hotel search, as the options for the others are limited. Special offers concentrates on a featured city in the world and gives you details of whatever they have available there and then for that city. To be honest, the deals weren't nearly as good as what you could find if you took the time to ...

Top 10 Children's TV Shows 14/07/2003

Flying condors,magic torches and cat-eating aliens

Top 10 Children's TV Shows Being born in 1976 makes me a mid - late 80's child for the children's TV shows that I used to love the most. I was having a chat at work today with my mate about the quality of children's TV today and how we didn't understand the appeal of it, when we began reminiscing about all the programmes we used to love. So, here it is, especially for Ciao - my list of my top 10 children's (well, I watched them as a child!!) TV shows. 10)--- Tom & Jerry Now this is a great one to start with, and I can still watch and laugh along with the best of them to a Tom & Jerry cartoon! Although the quality improved as the cartoons evolved, the storyline stayed pretty much the same. Cat hates mouse, cat wants to eat mouse, mouse doesn't want to be eaten, mouse inflicts pain on cat!! I heard somewhere a couple of years ago that the amount of violence in Tom & Jerry cartoons (of which there was a lot admittedly) had contributed to the lack of discipline and increase in violent tendencies of school children as they copied what they saw on TV. Interesting concept, but I can't help but disagree as the things that happened were just so out of the ordinary and funny. I for one knew that it wasn't real and therefore I shouldn't hit my brother with the frying pan, hit him on the backside with a fence post, or paint a huge mouse hole on the wall so that he would hit his head when he tried to follow me in there at top speed!! 9)--- Bananaman This is 29, Acacia Road. And this is Eric, the ...

Everything that starts with C ... 04/07/2003

m.lyon does the SexySOS Ciao Challenge

Everything that starts with C ... After reading SEXYSOS's (Kel's) opinion of this, I thought that she had set a challenge that was a little different to the usual stuff that has been coming out recently. I thought that this was a good way to discuss the site in a manner that will spark debate through the comments received and so have decided to take up the challenge! 1) What do you think of the current standard of challenge opinions? --------------- --------------- --------------- --------------- --------------- --------------- I have participated 3 of the challenge opinions that have been done - the A-Z, A Day in the Life Of, and the All About Me original challenge. I thought these 3 were excellent ways of finding out about people on Ciao and I have met some great people on a similar wavelength because of some of those answers. However, recently there have been a few challenge ops that have been started that I think were of a poor standard for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they were very easy to get points from - very little effort was needed. I spent nearly 3 hours doing my A-Z and would probably describe it as my most satisfying op on Ciao, even over the diamond op that I got last month! Sometimes, you can tell that these later challenges have been set up without much thought because putting 'challenge' in the op title has been a sure fire way of getting reads. The questions have been a little 'close to the bone' and contain things that I consider to be private - therefore I haven't done ...

What I'd put in room 101 06/06/2003

Good riddance and don't come back

What I'd put in room 101 Room 101 must be the worst place on Earth, especially the one that is on Ciao. Some of the things in there don't bear thinking about and could give any normal person nightmares. So here is my 10 things / people that I would put in Room 101 - don't worry, I'll lock the door firmly behind me!!! ---1) Gareth Gates Where do I start? Almost every negative op in the cafe section contains Gareth Gates in there somewhere and for a damn good reason! Although he is a Yorkshire lad and that makes it hard to say too many bad things about him, he brings it on himself. He is the epitome of manufactured pop, and the way that he and the other pop puppets are marketed to dominate the music market bugs me slightly. Recent pictures of him looking the worse for wear in Amsterdam don't help him either. For me though the main reason for him being on this list is for the crimes he committed in recording God awful covers of the classic songs Unchained Melody and Spirit In The Sky (I know you are going to say that it was a charity song, but still can you honestly say that it was a good version!!). My loyalty to Yorkshire people prevents me from saying more! ---2) People in public places who feel the need to test if every single ringtone on their phone is working This mainly applies to confined public spaces such as on buses, and usually they are relatively young people who are doing it (he says showing his age!). For some reason, they don't seem to understand that after a hard day at work ...

Arriva Trains Northern 28/05/2003

A view from the train-ed eye

Arriva Trains Northern At 26 years old, I am one of the few people my age that can't drive. I rely heavily on public transport and have done ever since I went to university. That's when my experiences with Arriva Trains Northern started - all of 6 years ago this summer. Here is my competition entry opinion, starting with a bit of company background ---Background--- Arriva Trains Northern (ATN) secured their franchise from Northern Spirit in 1997 and run local and transpennine services across Yorkshire and the North of England. They claim to operate around 1,400 services every day, 1,000 of which pass through Leeds City Station. They claim to cover around 80,000 miles every day on a network which stretches from Hull and Scarborough on the East Coast across to Blackpool, Liverpool, and Manchester on the West Coast, and from Carlisle and Sunderland in the North to Sheffield and the North Midlands in the South. Most of their services are focused in and around Yorkshire as they have the franchise for local services in this area and the transpennine services across the country. Their staff don't just include train drivers and conductors, they also employ the station staff at 242 stations that they run across their network, and all-in-all employ over 3000 staff. ---My experience--- For 3 years at University, I was a regular traveller from Preston to Leeds on the Transpennine Express and from Leeds to Barnsley on the final leg of the journey home - both legs on services run by Arriva. For ...

UNISON Credit Card 23/05/2003

40 pounds worth of M and S vouchers for free

UNISON Credit Card We all get the junk mail that comes through the post, and usually bin it straight away. Although reading some of the penny-pinching tips published by members recently suggests that there are indeed many uses for this kind of thing. About a month ago I got a circular from Unison, the Union that I am a member of offering me a credit card in return for £40 vouchers. Like any self-respecting freebie-hunter I thought that I would have a bit of that.Please do read on though, as you will find out that you don't have to be a member of Unison to claim the vouchers. But exactly how good is this credit card? There are 3 cards available, each with varying interest rates. There is a platinum card if you earn over £17,000, one where you are charged interest from the moment of purchase with no interest free period, and one where you have an interest free period in which to pay off your monthly balance. The latter is the one that I have and will form the basis of the rest of this review. Interest Rates The APR for the Unioncard is currently at 15.9% for balance transfers and purchases - not very competitive compared with some of the deals around. This is reduced to 2.9% for any balance transfers for the first 5 months after your account is open, which again, not very competitive in this market. For cash advances, the rate is a pretty high 17.7% plus the 1.5% handling fee of your withdrawal, subject to a minimum of £1.50. Beware though as a balance transfer cannot be made from any ...

A Day In The Life Of.... 07/04/2003

A day in the life of m.lyon

A Day In The Life Of.... I'm always up for a challenge so I thought right I'll do my typical day - not much to it and definitely not very exciting, but hey, it wasn't my idea!! 6.20am - alarm goes off and Claire and I both get up. She either goes into the bathroom or downstairs to start to iron a top for the day. I meanwhile decide that I can lay in bed for another 5 mins. 6.25 - now I have to get up. I go grab a quick shower, wash my hair, and sometimes have a shave. 6.45 - Now I get dressed while Claire sorts out her bag for the day. She's all ready to go, but I am way behind. Sometimes I have to go and iron a shirt - only takes a minute as all my workshirts are the easy iron variety. I wish that I had invented those, I'd be rich by now in a pub in Ireland living the life of the proverbial!! I get distracted by Penny Smith on GMTV - can't quite work out if I fancy her or not. Definitely do like the bird that comes on and reads the local news though!! 6.55 - Claire shouts to see if I am ready, and to tell me to get a move on, when I say that I am going to be 2 minutes but that I can't find my tie. 6.58 - Finally find the tie, although I have to admit it is never where I leave it the night before. 7.00 - Leave for the bus to Leeds, and it's only a 2 minute walk to the bus stop. For those of you who want to know it's the X6 from Bradford Interchange - can't imagine you do but hey, it's my life!! 7.05 - Bus usually arrives on time. So we get on, and I sit there thinking that one ... 03/04/2003

Make your mobile earn money If we are honest, the reason why a lot of us originally joined Ciao was because we could see a way that we could earn a few pennies on the side. We all like to do it, for me it's in the knowledge that the money that I earn will go towards a CD or DVD. The same goes for other sites such as MyVoice and MyPoints who pay you for taking polls in vouchers for the store of your choice. Some of us can get around £30 a year from survey and pay-to-read sites - a few nice CD's there from places such as Amazon or CD-Wow. Did you realise that you can actually do the same with your mobile phone with What is The Mobile Channel (TMC as they call themselves) is a service that is Internet based which claims to send you text messages from reputable companies that are relevant and interesting to you. As a thank you for receiving these they will give you a small payment for every message received. Essentially they pay you to allow them to send you text messages - sounds good doesn't it?? How do you join? Joining is simple, and takes about 5 minutes. It involves you giving all the usual information such as name, address, DOB etc, along with your telephone number, make, model, contract or pay as you go and information about your interests - this is where they will get the information to see if the text messages that they will send will be interesting and relevant for you. There is no period of membership, meaning that if you want to ...
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