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since 18/07/2003


Yorkshire Building Society 09/02/2016

Not just for Yorkshire folk

Yorkshire Building Society I opened a savings account with the Yorkshire Building Society a couple of years ago for a number of different reasons but first and foremost they were offering competitive interest rates for savers with just a modest amount of money (under £3,000) and they were also one of the few places that still offer a savings account with a savings book and I liked this idea as it meant I could give my mother small amounts of cash to pay in as now she is now retired she seems to spend a lot of time in the city centre where my nearest branch is. The savings account I opted for was an Easy Access Savings Account, which currently pays a pitiful 0.5% savings on my money (January 2016). It can be opened with as little as £1 and you can make as many deposits and withdrawals as you wish. There are a whole range of different savings accounts available, including ones that pay higher interest (up to 1%) on the same amount of money but these don’t come with a passbook, which was an important deciding factor for me and more important than the interest rate offered as I have other high interest savings accounts elsewhere as well as an ISA. The account that was set up was a joint account with my partner, but we set a limit on it that neither of us could withdraw more than £200 on our own without the other signature (not that we don’t trust each other lol). The savings account would provide a short term stash of money to pay for holidays and short breaks and since opening this account it has ...

Gibraltar Point National Nature Reserve, Skegness 03/02/2016

A good place for some fresh air

Gibraltar Point National Nature Reserve, Skegness On a rare day off work during the week my partner and myself decided to take a trip to the East Lincolnshire Coast. We wanted to see 3 Sperm Whales that had sadly been washed up dead on Skegness beach but decided we would incorporate this into a full day out, taking in 2 nature reserves, the first of which would be Gibraltar Point and later, slightly further afield, Frampton Marsh. Gibraltar Point is one 6 nature reserves that is managed by the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, although the 1.7 square mile reserve (4.3 km2) is owned by Lincolnshire Council Council. It lies just 3 miles south of Skegness on the mouth of The Wash and is recognised as a Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI) due largely to its importance as a wintering area for birds. The last time I visited Gibraltar Point Nature Point was early in 2014 and just after the severe winter storms of December 2013 which culminated in severe damage to the reserve, which included the destruction of the cafe and visitor centre. Two years on and a new visitor centre and cafe is now being built adjacent to the car park, it’s construction is well underway but until it opens there is a temporary portable cafe and toilets in the car park and the saltmarsh area which is currently a building site is currently out of bounds to the public so access to the reserve is only via the footpath to the left of the parking area. Access to the reserve is free but the car park is Pay and Display. Current charges are £1.00 for up to 2 ...

David Beckham Homme Eau de Toilette 30/01/2016

A Sporting Smell

David Beckham Homme Eau de Toilette I guess I’ve reached that age where I can now expect to receive at least one bottle of aftershave in my Christmas stocking every year, but this year I received two. One of those was a 75ml bottle of David Beckham Homme Eau de Toilette, which I have now worn enough times to feel that I can justify reviewing it here. Whilst most celebrities seem to have put their name to at least one aftershave, Mr Beckham has launched a whole collection of them. I’m pretty sure that I’ve never purchased any of them myself but I have tested a few of them and smelt them on others and they have always seemed to be pleasant enough so I was happy with my gift and used it for the first time almost immediately as we had a few family members coming round for Christmas Dinner and I applied a couple of quick squirts before they arrived. Unwrapping the gift earlier that morning I noticed that it was presented in a nice enough cardboard box, which is white and colour, square in shape and diagonally embossed with the words DAVID BECKHAM (in black capital letters). When I opened the box, a couple of hours later, I found that the bottle inside was made of glass and rather oddly shaped, being quite wide but narrow. It too bears some text but the most striking thing about it for me was that it felt like it was made of really thick, good quality glass, which instantly makes you assume that it is a quality product before you’ve even had a sniff. To apply the aftershave you first have to remove a solid ...

Zantac Tablets 24/01/2016

The best over the counter indigestion relief for me

Zantac Tablets I’ve suffered from chronic indigestion for quite a long time and after numerous tests for a whole range of ailments like gallstones, all of which proved negative I was eventually informed that my suffering was simply a result of excessive stomach acid. I have recently been prescribed a drug called Lansoprazole but in the months of suffering leading up to this recent prescription I tried several different over the counter remedies and found Zantac to be the best by far. Unlike many of the older remedies like Renee and Bisodol (I’ve tried both with short term success), which are chalky tablets that you take as when you feel the need to, Zantac 75 is a drug that works differently. Instead you just take one tablet a day, which should provide you with around 12 hours of relief. I tried to reduce my symptoms my changing my diet (with some success) but still found myself taking a Zantac tablet every day and often twice a day (morning and night) to provide me with round the clock relief. The enclosed leaflet does state that if the symptoms still persist one hour after taking the tablet you can take a second one but you shouldn’t take more than two in a 24 hour period. Therefore I spent several months more or less taking the maximum amount of recommended Zantac, which I’m aware was not ideal. The first thing to note about Zantac tablets is that they are very small. They are packed in a sealed foil packet and you need to be careful when you pop one out as I’ve dropped several on ...

Caybeach Princess Bungalows, Maspalomas 19/01/2016

OK for a short break in the sun

Caybeach Princess Bungalows, Maspalomas I booked a 7 night stay at the Cay Beach Princess Bungalows in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria for the 5th-12th December 2015. It was a bit a last minute booking made only a couple of weeks before we went and booked via Thomson’s website. Total cost of the holiday was just over £350 for my partner and myself, including flights, accommodation and coach transfer to and from the airport. The accommodation was on a self catering basis. I’d looked at the hotel's website prior to making the booking and everything looked fine. We only wanted a short, cheap break in the sun just before Christmas and despite it’s slightly remote location right on the edge of the resort Cay Beach Princess, seemed to meet our basic criteria. I’ve visited the Spanish island of Gran Canaria many times but normally stay in Playa Del Ingles, which is the next resort to Maspolomas. We’ve walked from Playa Del Ingles to Maspolamas many times and strolled along it’s beach and perused it’s shops but this would be the first time we had actually stayed there. Our flight didn’t land until 1940 hours so by the time we arrived at our accommodation it was after 2130 but that was expected and wasn’t a problem for us. We checked in without any fuss and were told that our room was over the other side of the pool. I remember the guy saying something along the lines of “walk right around the pool and just keep walking”. Leaving the reception I noticed the restaurant and bar and we heard the music from the cabaret show, but ...

DeLonghi HVF3553TB Fan Heater 01/02/2014

This DeLonghi Fan heater is ideal for a quick blast of heat

DeLonghi HVF3553TB Fan Heater I've had a DeLonghi HVF3553TB Fan heater stored away in my utility room for a few years but it is something that I only use occasionally. During the cold winter months my central heating system warms up my house sufficiently but even though I've just replaced my boiler last year for one of the most economical ones available it still isn't very economical to turn the central heating on for short periods. This is where my portable fan heater comes into its own.  The DeLonghi HVF3553TB Fan heater is small and compact and relatively lightweight. It can be easily tucked away out of sight for most of the year and I usually forget that it is there until there is a bit of a chill in the air.  It operates on the mains electric supply and produces 3kw of heat. The wire on the plug is quite short (about a metre long) but this isn't a problem for me as I have plenty of plug sockets in the areas that I use it. It could of course be used with an extension lead to reach those more isolated areas and indeed I used it frequently a couple of years ago in my loft when I decided to renovate it during the winter months.  The fan heater is an upright model that sits on an on a base. There is a button on the base that is used to turn the oscillating mode on or off and this is described as a foot switch, as it can be easily operated with your foot meaning that you don't need to crouch down to operate it. This is obviously an ideal feature for the elderly or infirm.  There are three different ...

Acuter ST16 48x65A Angled Spotting Scope 25/01/2014

I spy with my little eye

Acuter ST16 48x65A Angled Spotting Scope I’ve owned a telescope and tripod since I was about 16 years old, since the early days of my membership of the YOC (Young Ornithologists Club) and my later progression as an fully fledged (pardon the pun) birder with the RSPB and my local bird club the SBSG (Sheffield Bird Study Group). For years I’d owned a rather expensive Bushnell telescope but then about 3 years ago this was stolen in a house burglary and even though my telescope didn’t get much use by then, I still knew that as soon as I could afford to do so that I would replace it. I don’t do much bird watching these days so I didn’t want to pay too much for something that would only get used a few times a year but I started looking around to see what was available and eventually I purchased an Acuter ST16 48x65A Angled Spotting Scope for just under £150. Whilst Acuter is a well known brand in the manufacture of telescopes and binoculars it was not a brand I’d had any experience with before so prior to my purchase I sought the advise of a local specialist shop that let me look at this model amongst others and test it out. This particular model is a dual speed spotting scope and comes with a large focus wheel which is used to locate your object and zoom into it and then there is a smaller wheel that you can adjust to fine tune the focus. These wheels have a soft rubber coating and there are grooves to help you grip and turn them easily. The main selling features for me was the general appearance of the body, which ...

Buster Bathroom Drain Clear 03/01/2014

A simple way to unblock plugholes

Buster Bathroom Drain Clear I've always had drainage issues with my en suite shower cubicle, ever since I bought my current house seven years ago and I find that I have to un block the plughole every few weeks. I've tried a sink plunger which unblocks the plughole for a few weeks but I recently decided to try a product that was specifically designed to unblock drains. I've used Mr Muscle drain unblocker in the past, which was successful in unblocking my outside drains so I had this in mind when I spotted a cheaper product next to it, on the shelves of my local supermarket, called Buster Drain Cleaner for Bathrooms. The product was in a small blue plastic bottle with a black child proof cap, the type you need to squeeze to remove. Around the neck of the bottle there was a cardboard sleeve promising a money back guarantee if it didn't work. Both the product in question and a similar product for kitchens were on offer so I actually bought one of each, thinking that my kitchen sink might well benefit from a good clean out too. Due to the design of my shower cubicle there is no way of getting beneath it to remove the pipe below the plughole so if hairs and bits of soap fall down the hole they simply accumulate. Buster Drain Cleaner claimed to dissolve hairs and hard soap deposits so I thought it was worth a try and I was instantly impressed with its results. The directions on the bottle advise that the entire contents of 300ml of liquid should be poured down the plughole, but to assist with this the ...

Air Wick Mulled Wine and Cinnamon Apple Air Freshener 31/12/2013

The smell of Christmas

Air Wick Mulled Wine and Cinnamon Apple Air Freshener As the festive period ends and a New Year beckons my house is still full of things that remind me of the Christmas that has just passed - these include the Christmas tree, cards on the wall and a can of Air Wick Mulled Wine and Cinnamon Apple Air Spray tucked away in the corner of my living room. Air Wick produce a wide range of different fragrances that come in all different forms from candles, plug ins etc but this particular fragrance is in a metal canister and comes in the form of a spray. It is produced specifically for the festive period and was in the shops last year but has now re-appeared and has been re-packaged in a slightly more festive looking can, which is predominantly red and green in colour with a picture of an apple and cinnamon on the front. It is part of Air Wick’s Touch of Luxury range and this logo is also displayed across the front. The can doesn’t have a removable lid but instead has a design that incorporates an open front that allows the spray to be released when the plastic top part of the can is pressed. I’ve found that three quick squirts are sufficient to release enough of the spray into my room and the first thing that you will notice is that the fragrance is quite powerful. I love the smell of mulled wine at Christmas time because it reminds me of the Christmas markets and this fragrance really is quite close to the real smell. The cinnamon combines with the apple to give a warm scent with a spicy kick and the aroma lingers for a surprisingly ...

Brillo Soap Pads 29/12/2013

Brilliant Brillo Pads

Brillo Soap Pads When it comes to household cleaning products there are so many different ones available these days that it's often difficult to know what to choose but Brillo Pads are a product my mother always used (and still does) and keeping with tradition I have always used them to.  Brillo Pads are small rectangular pads that are made of fine metal mesh and they contain a pink coloured cleaning product, which when mixed with water produces a pink coloured lather. As a kid I remember scrubbing the oven racks as part of my chores and I never really like the feel of these, but I have to admit they seemed to make the blackened metal racks gleam silver again. I think part of my dislike for these things was probably a combination of having to do chores I didn't want to do and the fact that they are very messy to use. So whilst my mother's oven racks might have been left sparkling my hands were a sludgy brownish, pinky mess. Having said that the mess always washed off quickly, but they left my hands feeling dry.  I recently decided to give my own oven a thorough clean and I never considered using anything other than Brillo pads for this task. I know that there are so called miracle sprays that you supposedly just spray, leave and wipe but I get the impression these must contain pretty harsh chemicals to be so effective. Brillo pads are not miracle pads so you do you need to be prepared to use a good deal of physical effort. The advantages of these pads are however that they are much cheaper ...

Eurax Cream Stops Itching Fast 29/12/2013

Eurax Cream really does stop itching fast

Eurax Cream Stops Itching Fast I was first introduced to Eurax Cream when I returned from holiday and discovered that a mosquito bite on my leg had swelled to the size of a small boiled sweet. My local pharmacist recommended a tube of Eurax, which was available over the counter and even though I hadn’t heard of this product before I was willing to give it a try on her recommendation. The product is specifically designed to reduce the sensation of itchiness and it claims on the packaging to provide relief for up to 10 hours, which seemed like quite a bold claim. The Pharmacist told me that although my bite looked nasty it didn’t actually look like it was infected so she suggested that I also took anti histamines too until the swelling started to go down. I think I paid about £6 for a 50g tube of Eurax cream, but combined with the anti-histamines there wasn’t much change out of a tenner. The cream is also available in smaller 30g tubes but I didn’t realise this at the time. The product comes in a tube packaged inside a predominantly white coloured rectangular cardboard box. The tube itself is quite small in comparison to its bulky box so once I’d noticed that the same instructions were displayed on the tube itself I quickly disposed of the packaging. The tube has a screw off cap that has a pointed end to it to enable the foil seal to be easily broken when you use it for the first time, so I was reassured to know that the cream was sterile. Applying the cream was very easy and only a very tiny amount ...

Birds of Seychelles - Adrian Skerrett, Ian Bullock, Tony Disley 06/12/2013

A handy book on the birds of the Seychelles

Birds of Seychelles - Adrian Skerrett, Ian Bullock, Tony Disley I wanted to buy a bird book of the birds of the Seychelles before my trip there so I looked around at what was available and discovered that there have actually been very few books published on the subject. This surprised me somewhat since the Seychelles is home to at least 12 endemic species of bird found nowhere else on earth. After a brief online search I found and purchased Birds of Seychelles by Adrian Skerret and Tony Fisley, which is part of The Helm Field Guides series of books. The Helm Field Guides have been around since the 1980’s and include around a 100 different titles. They are trusted and praised by ornithologists worldwide but their simple format also ensures that they appeal also to those that have a more casual interest in birds as well. The copy I purchased features a pair of Paradise Flycatchers on its front cover (one of the archipelagos endemic species) and was first published in 2011. This particular book is an updated version of an earlier Helm Field Guide also confusingly called Birds of Seychelles but written solely by Adrian Skerret on his own. The two versions whilst similar should not be confused, the earlier version being first published in 2001 and featuring a Magpie Robin (another endemic species of it’s cover). You might wonder if it was really necessary to publish a new version of what is essentially an earlier book just a decade later but the world of birds has changed dramatically during those few years. Advances in DNA has meant that ...

Tipp-Ex Rapid Fluid 27/10/2013

Top tips for using Tipp-Ex

Tipp-Ex Rapid Fluid There can’t be too many people around that have worked in an office that aren’t familiar with Tipp-Ex correction fluid. The stationary cupboard at my place of work always has a plentiful supply on the shelf but in these days of computers and our IT department’s quest for a paperless environment I’m surprised how popular it still is (and that my company still continues to buy it). Tipp-Ex has been around since the late 1950’s when a German company developed it as a correction aid for typists. Whilst the company has launched many other products since to compliment its range, the original correction fluid that comes in a hard white plastic bottle with a screw off cap has changed very little over the decades. These days Tipp-Ex is manufactured in France and is part of the BIC Group, who are a well known name in the world of stationary and general office supplies. The bottle that I currently have on my desk bears a blue stick on label with the words “Rapid” and “Extra coverage” on it. This is doubtless some marketing strategy to trick me into thinking it is some kind of revamped wonder product but I think it’s probably the same stuff I first dabbed on my school paperwork 30 years ago. The correction fluid inside the bottle contains 20ml of a runny white liquid and when you unscrew the cap you will find that there is an applicator attached to it, this is a design that is similar to the bottles that nail varnish come in. The applicator has a foam sponge tip and this is used to ...

Pets at Home Non Clumping Wood Pellet Cat Litter 13/10/2013

I've finally found a decent cat litter at Pets at Home

Pets at Home Non Clumping Wood Pellet Cat Litter I think I’ve tried just about every kind of cat litter that exists from the very cheap supermarket own brands to very expensive ones but the one that I now buy most often is Lightweight Non Clumping Wood Pellet Cat Litter which I buy from Pets at Home. I buy the large 30 litre bags, which are usually available on offer for £18 for two. The litter is also available in smaller 5 litre and 15 litre bags if you have limited storage space. These large 30 litre bags are normally individually priced at £9.99 each. I have two cats but they both go outdoors so they only tend to use the litter at night or when they are lazy and refuse to go out (usually because it’s raining). Two of these large bags therefore usually last me about 5 months but the recommendation on the packaging says that a bag of this size should be sufficient for one cat for 35 days. This cat litter comes in a large plastic bag which thankfully is quite strong as each 30 litre bags weighs about 18 kgs . There’s no fancy packaging so it’s just a white plastic bag with green writing on it. Unfortunately there is no carrying handle so these bags aren’t very easy to lift so you do need to be careful when lifting them. This is not only because you could do yourself an injury but also because the plastic is quite flexible and if you try and lift it from the top corners when it’s stood upright it will stretch and risk splitting. Storing these bags could also be a problem for some people but I have a large walk in ...

Stabilo Boss Highlighters 03/10/2013

Happy highlighting

Stabilo Boss Highlighters Stabilo Boss highlighter pens are an item that I have used at my workplace on an almost daily basis for the last 20 years and there is always a regular supply of these to be found in the stationary cupboard. We have tried other cheaper brands, some of which are available at a fraction of the cost but we always seem to quickly return to this brand. Part of my job involves checking and approving architect plans so I use these highlighter pens to highlight specific areas on drawings and also to mark off an item once it has been counted and I've double checked that it appears on our tender. Some of our projects can have over a hundred different layout plans and without the ability to identify things in this way it would be impossible to know what I had checked and what I hadn't. These pens are available in a range of different colours and our stationary cupboard is usually stocked with yellow, green, blue and orange ones but it is the yellow ones that I use most frequently. The yellow markers don't only produce a bright mark on the paper that stands out clearly against an otherwise black and white background, but unlike the other colours they do not leave any trace when the drawing has been photocopied or scanned in black and white. The pens are made of light plastic and have an elongated rectangular shape that makes them easy to grip. The body of the pen is the same vivid colour as the highlighter nib so unless you are colour blind it's very unlikely that you would chose the ...
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