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since 24/10/2002


Thomson Holidays 20/01/2003

Thomsons All Inclusive Cruise On The Topaz

Thomson Holidays All inclusive cruising on the high seas, a tour of the Canary Islands, and a chance to experience the Topaz before she retires from Thomson’s after years of loyal service, how could I resist. I used to imagine cruises were for older, elitist couples, but friends and family persuaded me otherwise. The Topaz offers all inclusive cruises, drinks included, and on the recommendation of others we decided to try her before she is replaced this year by Thomson’s new ship, The Spirit. With seven decks to explore, entertainment and 24 hour dining, it sounded too good to be true, especially as the prices were excellent. We booked last July from the teletext, using a company called Book and Go. Total cost including insurance and flight supplements from Manchester was £890 for two adults. I was stunned at this low price bearing in mind this was not a late deal, booked for January the 17th this gave 6 months notice. Disaster hit however when Book and Go ceased trading last November. Although we had paid the balance to them, they had not paid Thomson’s, in fact we only found out they had ceased trading when 3 weeks before the holiday we phoned them to enquire where our tickets were. Panic stations were manned and the holiday looked like it might not happen, but luckily Thomson’s very professionally stepped in to rescue us. As an ATOL protected company we only had to prove we had paid for the holiday and they were happy to honour the agreement and claim the ...

Everything that starts with H ... 31/12/2002

Human Rights

Everything that starts with H ... A 15-year-old girl is suing the local education authority claiming that the 11 detentions she was given by her school are a breech of her human rights, (Daily Mail 31.12.2002, page 19). She even has the support of her mother and claims that the detentions, which were over lunchtime, were for ‘trivial’ offences such as drinking a fizzy drink in lessons. Well excuse me miss 15 year old, but if you had sipped your fizzy drink at lunchtime when you were supposed to you wouldn’t be spending lunchtime in detention. And what were the other ‘trivial’ offences one wonders, perhaps talking on your mobile phone because the lesson was not stimulating enough, or maybe chatting to your friends for the same reasons. Or maybe someone asked you to remove the numerous pieces of jewellery you are pictured wearing in the newspaper, i.e. 3 necklaces, one bracelet and two rings. I mean, how mean can teachers get, don’t they have anything better to do than supervise teenagers in detention. In my experience as the mother of a now 18 year old these were the usual reasons for detention and one, which I would have thought every sensible parent, would agree with. Not this girls’ mum it seems, she feels very strongly that the detentions had a detrimental effect on her daughters well-being, confidence and health in general. By the way Mrs Mother, sipping fizzy drinks is not exactly good for teeth so what next, are you going to sue the makers of the pop. For goodness sake, this compensation ...

Everything that starts with M ... 01/12/2002

Murphys Law Of Practice Nursing

Everything that starts with M ... A collection of not to be taken seriously laws from a variety of sources. Feel free not to rate, fun only. You will work all day without so much as a coffee break, but the minute you sit down, your manager will appear. You will never use foul language except when someone important is in earshot. In critical situations, the Gp with the most expertise will offer the least support. Your nose will itch the moment your gloved hands become contaminated with bodily fluids. Despite possessing a comfy bed, your dog/cat will sleep on your only clean uniform. The first person to contact Triage will not require emergency treatment. The sickest patient will phone 5 minutes before closing time. If a computer programme is easy/useful, it will be changed/crash. If you rush around people will think you are unorganized/need to priorotise. If you don’t rush around people will think you are lazy/don’t have enough work. The patient with the most piercings will claim to have a needle phobia. The patient that convinces you she has not had unprotected intercourse will be 4 months pregnant. Any carer you refer to as grandma will be the mother of the child. Likewise any carer you refer to as daughter will turn out to be the wife. All patients wearing more gold than ‘Ratners’ will be unable to afford the prescription charge. If you are irreplaceable, you will not be replaced/promoted. If something seems too good to be true, it ...

Pataks Microwave Chicken Korma 30/11/2002

As Good As Any Restaurant Curry.

Pataks Microwave Chicken Korma The first thing that made me buy this product was the price. It was on offer at Kwik Save for 99p. Now come on, that’s a bargain, and I love a bargain. I’d not bought this range before and sometimes frozen curries have a synthetic taste so I only bought one to start with. The Box ~ Bright cerise and blue colours with a delicious looking Korma and rice on the front. It also says made with 100% chicken breast and that’s better than the browny pieces you get from the legs and wings. There are 400grams in the box and this is just enough for one. Sell By Date ~ was October 2004 so plenty of time there. It is a frozen product of course so needs to be in the freezer. It does state for best results cook from frozen. Ingredients ~ Cooked Basmati Rice 36% Chicken 20% Water, Cream 7% Then Creamed coconut, Desiccated coconut, Rapeseed Oil, Garlic Puree, Dried Whey Powder, Spices, Salt, Dried Onion, Sugar, Modified Maize Starch, Ginger, Lemon Juice, Coriander Leaf and Sodium Caseinate. Warning ~ The product is not suitable for people with a nut allergy. I don’t think it would be suitable for diabetics either as it contains 5.2 gram of sugar. For the same reason and because it contains a massive 29.7grams of fat it wouldn’t be suitable for someone who was watching their weight, particularly as 19grams of that is saturated fat which is the worst kind. Anyone on a low fat diet, for instance with a history of Coronary Heart Disease needs to ...

Clinique Aromatics Elixir Eau de Toilette 28/11/2002

This Is On My Xmas Wish List.

Clinique Aromatics Elixir Eau de Toilette Christmas is near, men are racking their brains at what to buy that special woman in their life, and the women are hoping for something extra special. Well this may be the answer. I think Aromatics is a special occasion perfume, special because it makes me smell, feel and act special. You know the days, important meeting, night out, or even an important night in, well this is the smell that does it for me. I've tried various perfume products, but you know how women seem to have a favorite, well I never did. I used to browse the shelves of the duty free, and the best bargain always went home with me. Well not anymore. Last year I met someone, only briefly, but even after she left the smell of her perfume lingered in the air and it was lovely. You know how some perfumes are heavy and sickly, well this wasn’t. It was pleasing to the senses in a sweet kind of way. I liked the way it was heavy enough to linger but it didn't attack your nostrils the way some scents do in a sickly way. The next time I met her I asked her what perfume she wore, and armed with the information I went in search. Aromatics is made by Clinique, it sells in most major chain stores including Boots and House of Frazer. I bought my first bottle of this perfume just before Xmas last year. This is a good time of year to buy in Britain as most of the major stores have gift sets on offer and are competing against each other for your money. Some stores are willing to do a deal if you buy more than ...

Halifax Mortgages 23/11/2002

Losing A Good Customer

Halifax Mortgages Mortgages are like party political broadcasts. Tell me about a mortgage and I’ll listen, I’ll even think I’ve understood you, but when I try to tell someone later what was so brilliant about your particular brand it’s gone. It went into my brain I’m sure, but somewhere along the way I lost it, or that’s what it seems like. It's not that I'm slow, but with variable rates, capped rates, trackers and so on, I trust the building society will listen to my story and find the mortgage that is best for me. That's mistake number one. I should as an adult, be able to make an informed decision, I know this, but crikey this lot is double dutch. I’ll start at the beginning, because that’s a very good place to start; it’s also plagiarised from a Julie Andrews song so I’ll acknowledge that now. In 1983 we took out our first mortgage with the Leeds Building Society (I know the heading is the Halifax but I’ll come to that). The Leeds had a branch in our village and a nice little man who wanted to help us. We saved the necessary 10% deposit, and he advised the balance would be best served by an endowment mortgage. Now we all know many endowments are now not making enough to pay off mortgages, but so far, touch wood, ours seems to be ok. Having said that I have memories of being told it would pay the mortgage and give us a nice little lump sum. If it says anywhere in the small print (as I’m sure it does) it may have a ...

Magnetic Therapy 22/11/2002

My Consultant Asked Have You Been Shot.

Magnetic Therapy Usually I want proof before I part with my cash, but pain can be a great mind changer. This is why I considered Magnetic Therapy. Having had a shoulder problem since 1999, things had progressively become worse and I was struggling to cope. The constant ache was bad enough but certain movements made the pain worse if not impossible to cope with. I never envisaged nursing to be hours spent talking to people over a telephone, but as telephone triage was introduced I spent more time sat on my bottom talking and typing and less time seeing patients. After a days work my shoulder hurt more. I’d had the usual and different forms of painkillers, physiotherapy (after the required 6 month wait of course) and things were no better. At this point my GP decided I needed to continue with anti-inflammatory medication but to change my other painkiller for a codeine-based product, and to give me a steroid injection into the joint. Now this is when I had a real foot stomp. You see apart from the side effects of codeine (which I wont bore you with here because that’s a different op’ this medication can become addictive. As I’d had analgesia for 3 years with no improvement I argued I didn’t want an addiction to prescription painkillers as well but a diagnosis and a long-term treatment plan. So I stuck to my guns and requested an orthopaedic consultant’s opinion. Whilst waiting for my appointment (now come on, be realistic, pain is not nice but it ...

Everything that starts with G ... 11/11/2002


Everything that starts with G ... Sometimes I'm serious, sometimes I write tounge in cheek. This op is the true story of a situation in general practice. All names have been changed to protect identities. The groper was your average elderly gentleman, approximately five feet tall and dressed like Victor Meldrew. He and his wife attended the surgery every 3 months for the regulation blood pressure check up and were always seen by my colleague Sally. All went well until Mrs Groper became ill, and spurred on by his new found freedom Mr Groper pinned Sally to the wall of the treatment room and declared his undying love for her. Now being an ex army nurse, Sally had years of experience with hormone ravaged men, promptly told him to ‘Stop being a silly old man’ and showed him the door. Although slightly shaken she had a giggle about it and we collectively decided another nurse would in future see Mr Groper, in fact he would always be seen by two nurses to avoid temptation. His visits continued uneventfully and he frequently and politely enquire re Sally’s well being. All went well until the passing of time dulled the memories of the nursing staff and they were once more lulled into a sense of false security and forgot his previous indiscretion. Another colleague, Chloe, an attractive redhead with bosoms that would put Samantha Fox to shame had long since decided this little old man was no threat to society and began to have consultations alone with him. It was during one of these ...

Calpol 09/11/2002

A Must For Mums But Not The Cheapest.

Calpol When babies have their first immunisation at 8 weeks of age, this is when they are old enough to use calpol. Prior to this it’s not recommended. Reasons to use Calpol ~ The medication contains paracetamol which is a mild analgesia (painkiller) and an antipyretic (It lowers temperatures). So teething, minor aches and pains, bumps and falls are the type of things you would use it for. If the child has a virus and a temperature, although it will not shorten the length of illness, it will help to lower the temperature and make the child more comfortable. I’ve used Calpol many times as a mum, and would never be without it or another paracetamol product in the house when my daughter was small. It’s a very useful product but to be honest, with Calpol you pay for the name. If you check the chemists and supermarkets own brand of paracetamol products you’ll find some are cheaper and do the same job. It’s just that we’ve come to know the name Calpol and that’s why mums ask for it. Having said that things have improved over the last year. Until April 2001, medicines that were bought over the counter were exempt from the resale price maintenance; this meant that branded products were sold at a dictated price. When a court case ended this right for the first time since 1964, it meant the price of a 140ml bottle of Calpol in Tescos fell from £3.49 to £2.49. The changing of this law meant Calpol could be sold for less, its still worth however ...

Everything that starts with L ... 09/11/2002

Lay a little egg for me..........

Everything that starts with L ... My husband’s new name for me is Tweedy, as in Mrs. from the film ‘Chicken Run’. I’m really not as cruel as her but I called 3 of our chickens Kentucky, Kiev and Nugget, just to keep them on their toes, (do chickens have toes?). Anyway, a bit of background first. A few months ago I had an idea. I would keep chickens. Feeling like Felicity Kendal from the good life, I imagined being self sufficient (as far as eggs go anyway) and once the idea was in my head, off I went. First I surfed the net, gathering info on nesting boxes, chicken coops, feed etc, and then the difficult bit, enlisting help. Fortunately hubby had a week off work and I managed to persuade him how wonderful it would be to spend it together in the fresh air on a joint project. An old garden shed was placed on bricks to prevent rats and mice from entering and a good size piece of land was fenced of to keep the chickens in and the dog out. Hubby was brilliant at making 4 nesting boxes out of some old speakers that he had (Then he wonders why I call him a Womble). These were lovingly filed with straw and nicely arranged to await a chicken’s bottom. Perches were placed nice and high as the experts recommend with a board underneath conveniently catching droppings and keeping the floor clean. We managed to beg a metal chicken feeder from a neighbour. This is a large item like an upside down dummy that hangs in the middle of the shed and holds feed. I bought some corn and layers ...

Goodnight Lady - Martina Cole 06/11/2002

An Author With Attitude.

Goodnight Lady - Martina Cole Love, violence, families and feuding. This is a typical Martina Cole novel, guaranteed to grip you until the very end of the book. It’s the story of an East End London family 'The Cavanaghs', and in particular, Briony Cavanagh, a force to be reckoned with. From early in her life Briony knew the meaning of poverty, little bare feet forced to walk on cobbled pavements with a bucket of coal weighing down her arm and banging against her shins breaking the skin. Winter was a time when babies froze in Brionys neighbourhood, when children starved and mothers did without to try and feed their ever-growing brood. Meanwhile, men drank their wages in public houses, returning home to trouble and strife and communicating with their fists. Five children survived in the early Cavanagh clan. Kerry ~ the singer, beautiful, talented and pregnant in the early 20’s with a child that would wear the shame of her mothers liaison with a man whose skin colour differed from her own. Rosalee ~ Poor, poor Rosie as she was known. Incapable of speaking anything other than Bri Bri, she lived in her own little world, reaching out to no one. Eileen ~ Driven crazy by the fact that as a pubescent child she was sold by her own father to the richest man in the neighbourhood, to be used and abused as he fancied, and then discarded as puberty struck. Bernadette ~ Honest, and decent, but with a waist line that increased as fast as her self confidence decreased, and her husband sought the ...

Everything that starts with D ... 04/11/2002

Drugging The Dog

Everything that starts with D ... Yes we drugged her, intentionally but for humane reasons. You see she has a firework phobia. I say phobia because it’s not just a little ‘I’m scared’ reaction, it’s a full-blown can’t think straight, hide behind the sofa kind of panic. Molly is 7, a golden retriever, and yes I know a gun dog by breed, only this gundog hates fireworks. It’s not easy to hide when you’re such a large animal, you feel unsafe and the world is a scary place, and that’s why for the first time we considered sedation. Last year at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, some idiot decide to let off some fireworks. I’d just nipped to the shop, a 5-minute journey and so I’d left her in the garden. Now this wasn’t November the 5th, but hey who cares. It seems to me fireworks last for several weeks surrounding bonfight night and New Years Eve. Anyway, by the time I returned, Molly had fled. It was only because a neighbour’s child had seen her flee and told me about that and the fireworks that I knew roughly which direction she had taken. My garden is fully fenced and usually secure. Molly is a minimum effort type of dog that doesn’t even jump into the back of the car, instead she places her front paws in the hatchback and waits to be lifted from there. I have no idea how she got out of the garden, maybe her blind panic made her jump the 3 foot fence, all I knew was she had gone. We spent several hours looking for her, ...

Max Factor Lipfinity 03/11/2002

A Must For Lippy Lovers.

Max Factor Lipfinity Lipstick that lasts all day, a likely story. That’s what I thought when I read a review in a woman’s magazine about a year ago. Four women had been asked to try MaxFactor Lipfinity for a day and each one rated it highly. So lets give it a go I thought. So off I went to Boots to buy this product, and that was mistake number one. The magazine had stated that the product cost £9.99 so no shocks in the store there, but buyer beware. On my way home I trundled through the market, and yes you’ve guessed. The makeup stall was selling Lipfinity for £6.99. Don’t you just hate it when this happens? Most towns have a market so I’d check yours out before you head for the major stores. Testing – The major stores like Boots or Superdrug will have testers, the only problem with these are if you test on the back of your hand like most women, the product will stay there. No amount of rubbing or licking is going to remove it. Standing in Boots furiously licking and scrubbing the back of your hand will also attract stares from others so beware. The only way to remove this product is with a cleanser, and of course I’d foolishly left home without mine. MaxFactor advise you to use their brand of remover, but then they would, having already stung you for £9.99 they want to squeeze a little more out of you, but any oil based cleanser will do. According to a make-up artist called Jenny Jordan, lipstick should actually be tried on the pads of the fingers ...

Member Advice on Weight,Image and Personality 01/11/2002

Being Thin Will Not Make Me Love Myself More.

Member Advice on Weight,Image and Personality Every once in a while we meet someone who touches us and leaves an indelible mark on our memory. Someone who makes us think about everything we have taken for granted, and how we believe if we have the right body image everything else will be fine. I met someone who made me challenge the way I think. It didn’t happen immediately, even though she was the size of a sparrow and clearly suffering from anorexia, but it happened, and I'm glad it did. I first met Susan 6 months ago, (I have changed her name to protect her identity, the Royal College of Nurses state it is acceptable to write about events as long as patients cannot be identified). I work in general practice and she came in with her elderly mother. At first she looked like a child, but hidden beneath the large coat and baggy jumpers was a tiny, frail human being. She was in her twenties, extremely thin and had suffered from anorexia for 10 years. The effects were clear. Her hair was thin and sparse, coarse like wire and her eyes sunken like a dehydrated baby. She had been referred to a psychiatrist at the local hospital 10 miles away who had decided she was unable to help her and had therefore referred her onto an eating disorder center at a larger hospital approximately 30 miles away. She attended there as an outpatient once a fortnight, although still battling the illness, her weight had stabilized at 32kg and she was at long last receiving the help she needed. The week in-between visits she was to come ...

Member Advice on Coeliac Disease 30/10/2002

I have A Disease....But I'm Lucky.

Member Advice on Coeliac Disease Somewhere in my past, in a time I cannot identify, my brain served noticed and initiated a divorce from my bowel. Before I was informed of this fact, 100% damage had been attained. There was no discussion, no grounds for the petition, and no possibility of appeal. It was irrevocable and I would have to learn to live with it or suffer the consequences. How did I reach this state of imperfection? well let me explain. Symptoms ~ at age 20 I was always hungry, friends would joke I could eat a ‘tatty more than a pig’, yet I struggled to stay at 7 stone. In fact, a couple of missed meals saw me slipping to 6 stone something, I looked like a ‘shilling dinner’ to coin a Yorkshire phrase and my family said a good meal would kill me. Yet I was eating, eating and eating. What’s the secret you may ask??? I would love to be like that you might be thinking. Well that’s exactly what my doctor said. In fact, he said ‘Well if you find out what’s causing it tell me and we’ll sell it’. Things progressed. I married and had a child, became a working mum. I was permanently tired but reasoned that this was life, I was busy, and I had a right to sleep whenever I could. In 1994 crunch time and potential diagnosis came with small cracks to the side of my mouth, coupled with mouth ulcers that came and went. The cracks were niggly, annoying but nothing more. I contemplated visiting the doctor but hey, you don’t die from ...
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