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since 01/06/2005


Hyde Park Winter Wonderland Experience, London 23/01/2008


Hyde Park Winter Wonderland Experience, London Hyde Park - Winter Wonderland 2007 At Christmas 2007, we decided to take the family to Hyde Park for the Winter Wonderland Experience. It had been very well advertised and the flyer portrayed an image similar to what you might expect in Austria or Germany during the festive season. The website looked impressive too, so how could we not go and enjoy the festive delights of London. Hyde Park is One of London's finest landscapes, covering 350 acres of park land. In the summer months, there is something for everyone with over 4,000 trees, a lake, Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, a meadow, horse rides, abundance of street entertainers and the obligatory ice cream van; it is easy to forget you're in the middle of London. Amidst the fumes and smog of London, the park is a place for fresh air, vibrant seasonal colours and sun lovers. With 340 acres of green space, Hyde Park has plenty to offer with a variety of attractions, formal gardens and spacious woodlands. Bearing this in mind and with the advert looking so promising, I was eagerly looking forward to making the journey from Basingstoke to experience the park at Christmas. This year (2007) during the 'Winter Wonderland' event from 19th November 2007 through to 6th January 2008, Serpentine Road, Hyde Park will be inaccessible to all traffic. A huge safety bonus for pedestrians like us with young children. *** HOW TO GET THERE*** We left the car at Hillingdon Station and took the train straight through to ...

Mar Ola Apartments, Tenerife 06/12/2007

The Mar Ola

Mar Ola Apartments, Tenerife Mar Ola Park Hotels /Apartments ( I and II) Playa de Las Americas Tenerife Website links: I cannot find a direct web address or site to this hotel but the links below should help if you decide to book there. park-i-&-ii--207918565.html 562820-d502302-r8679718-MarOlaApartments-PlayadelasAmericasTenerifeC anaryIslands.html In August 2007, we booked a package holiday through Thompson online for an all inclusive 3*/4 in Tenerife, staying at the Mar Ola 1. We have never been to the Canary Islands before and wasn't quite sure what to expect. Of course the website over exaggerates the pictures and they never tell you the full story, so I hope my warts and all review will help in your decision for next years holiday. These twin hotel/apartments are very popular with British holidaymakers. A suitable choice with families, couples or groups throughout the year, this place never shuts as we were told by a member of staff called Mac. The complex is separated into two buildings which are adjacent to each other and guests are encouraged to use both hotel facilities. Our rep from Thompson neglected to tell us this however until the last day of our holiday. Guests may be allocated a room in either building where the standards of facilities are almost identical. ARRIVAL: The flight from Southampton was 4 hours and 30 minutes. Getting through ...

Castillo San Miguel, Tenerife 22/11/2007

Castillo San Miguel

Castillo San Miguel, Tenerife Castillo San Miguel Tenerife. Links: in English, Spanish, French and German. Whilst on holiday in Tenerife this summer 2007, our tour representative did a reasonable job on her sales pitch by convincing me to book another of her excursions. Not only had I just booked a Catamaran cruise for an afternoon but I had now also paid my euros to spend an evening at the Castillo San Miguel for a Medieval Evening. I did not visit during the day so cannot comment on what is available at this time. If you are ever holidaying on the island of Tenerife, then please read on before you commit yourself to a very different evening's entertainment. *** Object of the Evening*** Castillo San Miguel covers approximately 6,000 square metres and is constructed of Canarian stone, towering more than 16 metres high. The Castillo San Miguel is home to the "Count Don Rodrigo" and this daughter the "Countess" who are played by actors naturally. The idea of the night is that both of them are here to enjoy an evening of fun and games (no frivolity) performed by their own colour coded knights. These tourists' tournaments are held four times a week, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, all year round. During the summer season there is a further show on Friday's. **** Booking**** You can either book via your tour guide/rep or hotel reception. Alternatively without paying the middle man ...

Freebird One Catamaran Cruise 21/10/2007

Freebird - Catamaran Cruises in Tenerife

Freebird One Catamaran Cruise Freebird One - A Luxury Adventure *** WHAT IS IT? ***** This summer (2007), my family and I holidayed on the island of Tenerife. We wanted to experience a bit more than the hotel facilities, so after attending the Rep's welcome meeting, I decided to book the Freebird One Experience. Freebird Sailing was founded in 1994, specialising in cruises aboard a luxury 30-seater catamaran. They proud themselves with the title of being "the largest catamaran service in the Canary Islands" and whilst in Tenerife I witnessed no other catamaran passing us on the sea. There is also a Freebird 2 and a 3. The Freebird Two is about 25 metres long and has a passenger capacity of 126. This catamaran has six large netting areas at the front. These nets have nothing underneath and resemble a trampoline, except underneath is the deep blue sea, which if you look down at can be a bit daunting. For some passengers this area is ideal for lying upon to soak up the sun and it was a bit like the Harrods sale the minute we were allowed on board. Freebird Three and Four both measure 16 metres and holds 56 guests. These two boats are used for private hire and the A La Carte service as well as for holidaymakers. The service is joint British and Spanish owned, supported by a friendly team of 35 experienced crew members. There are also office and transport staff. The cruise specialises in 3 and 4 ½ hour whale and dolphin sight-seeing trips off the Canary Island's beautiful coastline. ...

The Palace Diaries - Sarah Goodall 01/10/2007

The Palace Diaries

The Palace Diaries - Sarah Goodall The Palace Diaries Written by Sarah Goodall and Nicholas Monsoon **** Introduction**** Written in 2006 and published in 2007, this 318 page hard back book had me gripped in almost every chapter. Hailed as "Racy, outrageous and hilarious - there's never been a Royal book like it. The Palace Diaries is a unique insider's view of what really went on during the most tumultuous period for the British monarchy, since the abdication of Edward VIII. On the cover is Miss Goodall, looking slinky and sassy in a Audrey Hepburn type pose, complete with Corgi. Her adoration and respect for Charles is paramount but I think this mostly comes from her loins, not from her heart. To be honest, I had never heard of this Miss Goodall. This book came upon be by pure chance whilst browsing through a leading book website. It was on offer at 75% off the retail price and as I was about to embark on a holiday, I decided to buy it for a bit of easy reading. Sarah was born in 1964 into a very privileged family and was raised in Shropshire. She went onto study chartered surveying at the Royal Agricultural College of which she eventually ran away from as well as her latest love interest. Life as a farmer's wife was not for her. In May 1988, she was employed as a secretary for an auction house in London, living in a flat share in Fulham. This too became boring for her and was badly paid so it was then she approached a job agency in the city. Her details were forwarded to Kensington ...

The Walled Garden Basingstoke, Hampshire 06/08/2007

A Little Piece of Narnia in Basingstoke

The Walled Garden Basingstoke, Hampshire ******How To Get There: **** Admission is normally free, unless there is a pre-arranged craft or show event there. There is ample parking right outside the gates and that too is free. At the Black Dam Roundabout on the A30 London Road, take the 2nd exit following Ring way south and signs for A30, Andover and Winchester. At Hackwood Road Roundabout take the 2nd exit continuing to follow Ring way South. At Winchester Road Roundabout, take the 1st exit along Winchester Road. At Brighton Hill Roundabout, take the 4th exit right following the signs to Down Grange Playing Fields. Pass Homebase on your left and join Pack Lane. At the brown Walled Garden sign, turn left into the sports complex. Follow the road that runs past the athletics track, pass the Hockey club on the left and drive into the car park. The Walled Garden is easily identified by the large ornate front gates. All main bus routes from the town centre pass here on a regular basis but to be honest I don't think it's really worth spending travel fare on. *** What Is It? **** The fully enclosed walled garden is situated in Basingstoke, Hampshire. The land used to part of the historical Down Grange Estate in 1800 and originally served as a kitchen garden to The Down Grange House. As you approach through the entrance gates, it resembles something from “Narnia”, this is truly a delightful ‘secret’ garden that you least expect to find, just off Pack Lane. Today Basingstoke and ...

Shilpa Shetty: The Biography - Julie Aspinall 26/07/2007

Shilpa - A vague life history

Shilpa Shetty: The Biography - Julie Aspinall Shilpa – The Biography Written by Julie Aspinall Born in June 1975 to a wealthy Indian family, Shilpa Shetty is a beautiful, glamorous and well educated young woman. Though famous in India as a Bollywood actress, England had no idea who she was. Obviously an ambitious young woman seeking to boost her career, Shilpa accepted to be a contestant for the 2006 Celebrity Big Brother, along with a variety of other celebrities. None of them were A list material. After leaving the privacy of her black Mercedes ready for her imprisonment in the Big Brother house last year, everything was about to change. THE BEGINNING: - I purchased the paper back book at a bargain price of £1 in Poundland. The cover looked glitzy with Shilpa’s name covered in stars and a very attractive picture of her on the front and the rear. The description on the book is clear but very misleading, it was just a carrot dangled in front of this willing donkey to spend money. The book is written by Julie Aspinell, but I was left wondering who this writer was. Don’t get me wrong, but isn’t it usual to devout a small paragraph to the author somewhere inside a book? There was nothing in here about her or how her information was researched. In total there are 15 chapters. Chapter one is entitled “Beauty and the Biggots”. The book goes straight into the verbal racist’s rants and attacks caused by Jade Goody, Danielle Lloyd and Jo O’Meara inside the Big Brother House. I am sure that even if ...

Toblerone 28/06/2007

20 cm's of pure pleasure

Toblerone **** A SNIPPET OF HISTORY **** The name Toblerone is Cockney Rhyming slang for “On My Own”. In 1867, Theodor Jean Tobler, a Swiss chocolatier, opened his first store in Bern, Switzerland. In 1908, the same gentleman and his cousin, Emil Baumann developed a unique and distinctive chocolate bar, which was called Toblerone. The name is a mixture of Tobler (the founder) and Terrone, meaning honey almond nougat in Italian. On the packaging an eagle is displayed as part of its logo. In 1909, the chocolate becomes the first patented confectionary with the ingredients of almond and honey. In this same year, a young Albert Einstein is employed at the factory. In 1920, the eagle is now replaced by a bear. Products from Switzerland were not allowed to advertise using any emblem from within their country. In 1970, the logo changes again, this time they are permitted to use the Matterhorn. This is still used today. By this time, a white chocolate and also a dark chocolate Toblerone has been made and on sale to the general public. In 1982, Jacobs Kaffee merged with Suchard-Tobler to form Jacobs Suchard in Europe. In 1992, Kraft General Foods acquired Jacobs Suchard, making it number one in the leaders in the confectionery market. By the year 2000, the chocolate has gone from strength to strength and now in production are the toblerone minis and a filled toblerone bar with a navy blue wrapper. **** SO WHAT IS INSIDE …..***** Honey, almond, nougat, sugar, cocoa ...

Wellington Country Park 23/06/2007

Wellington Country Park

Wellington Country Park Last week I was privileged to be a parent helper on my daughter’s pre-school trip. The destination was not far from our home address yet I had never heard of this place before. Not only was I able to spend the day with a lovely group of pre-schoolers but I was able to take in some breathtaking scenery and fresh air. What a thoroughly enjoyable day lay ahead for us all and this park deserves a review to encourage (hopefully) more visitors. Situated within easy reach of both the M4 and M3, the park is open daily and is well signposted from the A33. *** PARK DETAILS*** Wellington Country Park Odiham Road Riseley READING Berkshire RG7 1SP Tel: 0118 932 6444 **Opening times as of 2007: ** The Park is open daily from February half term to early November. The times during 2007 are: 10th - 25th February 10.00am – 4.30pm 15th - 31st March 10.00am – 4.30pm 1st April - 30th September 10.00am – 5.30pm 1st October - 4th November 10.00am – 4.30pm Last admissions are one hour before closing. Entrance gates will be locked one hour after closing. The campsite is open daily from 15th March to 4th November. **** Prices as of 2007**** Adults - £6.00 Children (3 -15years) - £5.00 Senior Citizens - £5.00 Family (2 adults, 2 children) - £19.50 Under 3 years of age – free Cash, cheques or credit/debit cards are welcome. Groups of 20 or more receive a 20% discount, ...

Carters Steam Fair 10/06/2007

Not so much fun anymore

Carters Steam Fair Carters Steam Fair Carters Steam Fair is a travelling fair mainly based in the South East of England. The entourage with its traditional rides and hurdy gurdey’s, tours for just over half of the year and the remainder months are spent restoring and repairing the machines and equipment. The steam fair was the idea of a gentleman called John Carter who enjoyed collecting old yet interesting items. Many were destined for the scrap heap as they were too unfashionable or too old to use any longer. It has taken over thirty years but now a whole funfair has been re-born and rejuvenated, complete with historic vehicles to tow them all over the South East. With vintage caravans for the family and staff live in, when Carters draw into town, it looks more like a 1930’s film set. I must admit I prefer wandering around admiring the caravan’s beauty and splendour, each one looks unique and they are immaculate. Nothing like the modern day caravans we see today, these are truly special. Even the dogs have plush kennels. The founder, John Carter, sadly passed away to cancer aged 58 in 2000 but his legacy lives on through his family. ***** The Rides and Attractions ******** Please do not expect any modern day music here, the sounds of the 60’s fill the air as you wander around. Ball Blower Stall Candy Floss, Doughnut and Jacket potato stalls. (really not that appetizing, best to take your own food and drink). Hook-A-Duck Stall Chair-O-Planes Strikers ...

The Departure Lounge Cafe 30/05/2007

The Departure Lounge Cafe

The Departure Lounge Cafe The Departure Lounge Café THE PLACE WITH THE PLANE **** WHERE IS IT? ******* Basingstoke Road Alton Hampshire GU34 4BH Tel: 01420 80111 Email: No official website as far as I know yet. Open seven days a week from 10 till 4. Sunday 7.00am - 9.00am Takeaway for Car boot Sale only ***** WHAT IS IT? ***** I found this place completely by chance and how pleased I am to have bothered to stop in the car park. I only came down for the car boot sale and low and behold saw this gorgeous little eatery tucked away in the corner. This little known café has only been opened a year so everything inside is still relatively new and shiny. Situated inside the HILLSIDE NURSERIES car park, it is easy to pass this completely without realising what a little gem Alton has on offer for food and drink. When you enter the car park for the small and barely advertised nursery, turn right and drive all the way to the end of track. It is here you will see the wooden decking and blue banners saying “Departure Lounge Café” and “Bikers Welcome”. Don’t let that panic you, this place is in one of the most peaceful and tranquil settings of Hampshire I have ever seen. The entrance is on the left and opposite is a spectacular view of Hampshire countryside. The open fields are where car boot sales occur each Sunday, Tuesday and Bank Holiday Monday. The lush green fields are so vast that children can play there quite safely and in peace. Just ...

Baby Bjorn Changing Bag 14/05/2007

A Baby Bag with high expectations

Baby Bjorn Changing Bag *****Baby Bjorn Changing Bag***** For anyone due to have a baby, a changing bag is a necessity for the next year or more of your child’s life. I have been blessed with three wonderful children and also had the honour of owning three different types of baby changing bags. My first child had a bag that matched with his pram from Mamas and Papa’s, but the bag lining split so was sent to the recycling centre. My second child’s bag came from Argos, nothing special just cheap and cheerful but it lasted a good year before that too made the recycling centre. My daughter’s bag was a gift and it was the Baby Bjorn changing bag which I still have today and after 4 years, it looks pretty good. The BB is the Rolls Royce of nappy bags as it costs a hefty £50 plus. Is it worth the money or a waste of credit card funds? Read on and decide before you try. ***** Specifications ******** o Changing mat included o Thermal bottle holder included o Zipped pocket for mum’s valuables o Magnetic lock on lid o Four Metal stud feet o Odd shaped designed zip o Hard construction outer shell in waterproof material o Wipe clean polyester o Wipe clean shoulder strap o H28 x W32 x D19cm **** First Impressions ****** The bag resembles a small weekend bag come tote. The design and style is nothing like the traditional baby bags on the Mothercare shelf and neither is the tough outer shell. Think of Samsonite in a smaller scale and this is the Baby Bjorn bag. ...

Milestones Living History Museum, Hampshire 08/05/2007

Hampshire's Trip Down Memory Lane

Milestones Living History Museum, Hampshire Milestones Living History Museum Come and discover your past inside a make believe town that never rains or has traffic congestion. Milestones was built to house over 21,000 objects either made or used in Hampshire and dating back to as far as the Victorian era. Milestones is managed by Hampshire County Council and also Basingstoke and Deane . On approach to the museum, the building looks more like an aircraft hanger. You wouldn’t think that this ultra modern steel and glass building would house so many old and ancient artefacts. Milestones has been in Basingstoke since November 2000 and was opened by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh. ******Directions:****** By car - Milestones is only 3 miles from the M3 on the Basingstoke Leisure Park site and is clearly sign posted on approach. There is ample parking and it’s free. Disabled bays are situated at the front entrance. If you are coming from Junction 6 (M3) follow the brown tourist signs for 'Leisure Park', driving clockwise around the ring road. At the Thornycroft Roundabout you will see Milestones ahead of you. Take the first exit into Churchill Way, go all the way round the next roundabout. Enter the Leisure Park at entrance B and turn right. The museum lies straight ahead. If you take the turn off at point A, don’t panic. You can still get to the museum. Drive past the Bowlplex and Gala Bingo, keep going straight until you see the KFC Drive Through. From this point you can see the building and just keep going ...

Moors Valley Country Park, Ashley Heath, Ringwood 09/04/2007

Enjoy the unique play structures of Moors Valley

Moors Valley Country Park, Ashley Heath, Ringwood Moors Valley Country Park and Forest Horton Road Ashley Heath Nr Ringwood BH24 2ET Email: Tel: 01425 477880 Looking for something a bit different for a Sunday afternoon stroll, then this place could tick all the boxes. Moors Valley covers 750 acres in the Valley of the Moors River. Not easily sign posted until you are right on top of the entrance, a Sat Nav device could prove invaluable to get you here. However, if you type in the above postcode on the RAC route planner website (, it will find the place for you and can print off directions for a return route home. There are no admission charges. Opening times are from 8 am to dusk all year round except Christmas Day and a few days in January for cleaning the site. For public transport links contact East Dorset District Council for more information. I saw no bus stops or signs close to the park entrance and none inside. ^^^ PARKING ^^^ On approaching the entrance you will notice four ticket barriers, two for the entrance and two for exit. On busy days there is usually quite a queue. As you approach the barrier, press the green button and you will be issued with a parking ticket. Do not loose this as you need to pay before exit. If the ticket doesn't issue or the barrier does not life, there is a speaker phone direct to the information centre where rangers are on hand to help you. To pay on exit, either place your ticket in ...

Harvester Restaurants 27/02/2007

Harvester Restaurants

Harvester Restaurants Harvester Restaurants Restaurant Reviewed: Stag and Hounds Winchester Road Basingstoke Hampshire (next to Comet and Home Base) The Harvester chain of Restaurants have over 2000 outlets across the United Kingdom and owned and operated by Mitchells and Butlers, who claim to be the UK's leading operator of managed pubs, bars and restaurants. Harvester claim to offer healthy eating, drinking and entertainment in one reasonably priced outlet. **** Parking and Getting a Table ***** As with most of the Harvester's I have visited, there is usually ample free parking at the rear of the establishment. However on Saturday evenings and Sunday lunch times these places are heaving with customers, so avoid the crowds, go early and if possible ring and reserve a table. The Stag and Hounds is no exception but fortunately there is an over flow car park used by travel lodge customers next door. The entrance is usually through the bar. Just before the restaurant entrance is usually a waiting area; it's here that a waiter or waitress will show you to your table. You will be greeted by the obligatory "have you been to a harvester before" question as you walk to your seats and the "help yourself to salad". The waitress will hand you over a large menu (these things are over 40 cms in length) and as you try to juggle it open without knocking over a strategically placed wine glass, she or he will take your drinks order before returning to take your food order. Depending ...
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