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since 20/04/2007


The Wish Cat - Ragnhild Scamell 20/02/2011

I wish I had a cat.

The Wish Cat - Ragnhild Scamell I heard about this book from a fellow Mother whose daughter is also called Holly, she told me the book was about a girl called Holly who wanted a cat. It sounded ideal for my Daughter Holly who has a great love of cats so I decided to ask Santa to pop a copy in with the rest of his presents. "Holly wants a tiny, cuddly kitten more than anything else in the world. But when she wishes upon a star, she gets more than she bargained for." (Taken from the back of the book) I'm so glad that I got this book for Holly; it is a really beautiful story of how a little girl called Holly has a cat flap in her house but no cat to use it, so when she makes a wish, a stray scruffy looking cat who seems to talk lands on her window sill, telling Holly that he is Tom her wish cat but she is bitterly disappointed as she wanted a kitten and refuses to let Tom into the house and her heart. Can Tom wiggle, play and finally make his way into the house and more importantly into Holly's heart? This book was written in 2002 by Ragnhild Scamell whom has written a number of children's books however I can't find anything else out and the book is beautifully illustrated by Gaby Hansen. The copy I bought is part of the Ready Steady Read collection that makes reading fun and is perfect the Key Stage 1 reading. The books contain reusable reward stickers, activity pages and reading notes for parents and teachers. The book contains 31 pages including the front and back cover. Inside the front cover you ...

The Haunting of James Hastings - Christopher Ransom 05/02/2011

The confusing Haunting of James Hastings

The Haunting of James Hastings - Christopher Ransom Last year Tesco were offering their books at buy one get one free, I purchased a number of books and have now worked my way through the pile. One of the books I purchased to be honest I didn't really fancy reading so that was left at the bottom of the pile. This book was The Haunting of James Hastings by Christopher Ransom. I am not of lover of horror stories but enjoy a good thriller and with nothing else left to read I had no choice but to read this one. "James Hastings' wife is dead - her life snuffed out in a horrific accident that leaves her husband shattered. Dizzy with grief and guilt, James withdraws into his sprawling mansion, losing himself in liquor and memories of Stacey. Until one day two women enter his life. One is Annette, a gorgeous stranger with a dark past. The other is not a stranger, and her past is all too familiar. First her voice echoes through the phone lines and from behind the ballroom doors. Her shoes reappear, streaked with mud and grime, as though unearthed from the grave. And soon Annette begins saying things only Stacey could know, enveloping James in a spiral of terror and violence that threatens to destroy his home, his sanity and his soul. For death is only the beginning of his nightmare. And the haunting of James Hastings might be the end of him." The above is taken from the back of the book. This book has to be one of the worst books I have ever read. Right from the start the book contradicts itself and had a tendency to confuse me ...

Frankie and Bennys, Chesterfield 27/01/2011

Frankie and Benny's - Not quite the experience we were expecting.

Frankie and Bennys, Chesterfield Frankie and Benny's are a large chain of American/Italian restaurants based in the UK. They have around 130 restaurants in the UK and seem to be in every major city and town up and down the country. We are in-between 3 restaurants but have tended to visit only 2 of these restaurants, normally about 3 or 4 times are year and always when we are out shopping. We recently decided to visit the 3rd restaurant in our area to give it a try, although this was only because we received a £15 discount through the post last week as a thank you for our custom and continued loyalty in 2010. From the few restaurants we have visited they are all set out the same with dark wooden panels on the lower part of the walls, round or square dark wood tables and the occasional booths all lit enough to see what you are eating but not overly bright. Around the top of the walls can be found photos, pictures, newspaper cuttings and general memorabilia from 1950's Italian-America. Music is 1950s music. Waiters and waitresses wear a uniform of black and white and resemble waiters from Italian Restaurants. The restaurants have a bar but this is only open to patrons who are eating. The kitchens of all restaurants are open for you to see what they are cooking. Upon entering you are greeted with a plinth type desk where you wait to be seated. A plain clothed member of staff normally management will show you to your table, give you the menus, take your drinks order and ask if you would like any bread to ...

The Magic Tooth Fairy Game 03/01/2011

As if by magic, you lose a tooth and a coin appears.

The Magic Tooth Fairy Game Thanks to Nick Jnr TV channel my now 5 year old has become a lot more aware of adverts advertising the goodies that Santa could bring her. One such advert has been for The Magic Tooth Fairy Game, mainly because she has recently become aware of the Tooth fairy and has developed a rather unhealthy obsession with it. The game comes in rather a large box, with about 30% of this box unnecessary. The game contains one round board containing 16 segments containing the words wobbly tooth, go to bed or spin again. Next in the box can be found a bed with a pillow that can be opened up (under the bed is storage for you to store any teeth not in use or store the teeth and gold coins when you have finished playing) and a spinner with 1, 2, 3 and 4. 4 large plastic boxes that shows big smiley open mouth containing 4 fixed teeth and 4 wobbly teeth. 4 large different coloured counters that show various pictures of children that are your backpacks. 24 Wobbly Tooth cards, 16 loose teeth and 13 gold coins. The object of the game is to swap all four wobbly teeth for gold coins to win and is for between two and four players. How to Play The game takes about a minute (even when set up by a 5 year old) to set up and then you are way. The first person, usually the youngest places their counter on a segment nearest to them, then spins the spinner and moves their counter/backpack on by however many they spun by, if they land on a Wobbly Tooth space, pick up the first card from the wobbly tooth ...

LeapFrog Tag Reading System Box Set 20/11/2010

Tag, you're it

LeapFrog Tag Reading System Box Set For the last year I have been on the uphill battle of trying to teach my 4 year old to read as it seemed that pre-school were of the opinion that she was too young. My aim was to get her reading basic words before she started school in September but this didn't quite go to plan! Over the summer holidays the words of "I want to play, I can't do it and I'm fed up, leave me alone" echoed around the house, so I decided we maybe needed a little bit of hand to make the learning to read experience fun! This hand was offered via an advert on the Nick Jnr TV channel, in the form of the Leap Frog Tag reading system. A search of the internet told me that my local Argos has got one in stock. A quick word with my Hubby and off we shot to buy said reading system. The reading system did seem rather expensive at £29.99 but if it helped with reading then it would be worth every penny. So with one reading system and two extra books in hand, an excited Holly and I came home ready to start reading. Pen The reading system comes in two sizes, one size is suitable for 2 - 4 year olds and the larger system is for 4 - 8 years old, we went for the 4 to 8 year old which consists of a large pen shaped device that works in tandem with the tag reading system books. Two colours of pen are available of pink and white or green and white, (my daughter has no idea that the pink exists) and Argos only had the green in stock at the time. The pen is quite bulky and is approx 16 cm long, 4 cm wide tapering ...

Ecofan Original Model 800 02/11/2010

I'm a fan of Ecofan

Ecofan Original Model 800 Living fairly rural has its advantages and disadvantages. One of the disadvantages is having no mains gas to heat our home, so when we first bought our home some 18 years ago we contacted British Gas, who quoted us around £20,000 for a gas main to be installed; needless to say we have never bothered. Our main source of heating has over this time been LPG gas bottles which can work out very expensive due to larger companies not wishing to deal with small individual house owners as we are not big enough customers with very low usage over the summer and obviously a higher usage over the winter meaning we end up using a building supplier company and paying rather a high premium, added to the increased cost of gas and surcharges here there and everywhere we found it incredibly difficult to budget, where prices would change in a matter of hours and it came to a head when we spend over £1000 in four months on heating. Over the years we have looked at either having a large tank installed but when we could afford to buy the large tank, health and safety and planning laws changed and it meant that I would have a large tank stuck slam bang in the middle of my back lawn! We could go underground but this is quite expensive and would mean we would either lose our drive to car usage or lose a large area of front garden. So last year we decided to go for a log burner to heat the house through the winter, it would be cheaper if we can borrow fallen trees in our local wood and my parent's ...

Gullivers Kingdom, Matlock Bath, Matlock 14/10/2010

Travel with Gulliver through his Kingdom

Gullivers Kingdom, Matlock Bath, Matlock Gulliver's Kingdom is located just off the main A6 road in the picturesque town of Matlock Bath, Derbyshire. It was first opened in 1978 as a model village and has now become an amusement park and is still owned by the same family who now have two other amusements parks, namely Gulliver's World in Warrington and Gulliver's Land Milton Keynes. The park is built in to a steep hillside and overlooks Matlock Bath and the River Derwent and is aimed at young children from toddlers up to around the age of 12 - 13. The parks resident mascots are the Gully Gang, these include Gully Mouse and Gilly Mouse who can be seen walking around the park regularly for you to meet and have your photo taken with. As it is our local Theme park we have taken our Daughter Holly on a few occasions, normally at Christmas where Holly has celebrated her 2nd, 3rd and 4th Birthday and she might even celebrate her 5th birthday there if Euro Disney doesn't beckon us first. Holly has been nagging us for a while asking to go again and I noticed that they were holding a special weekend with one of her favourite TV characters, Peppa Pig making an appearance, so it seemed the ideal time for another visit. On arrival, the park has a decent amount of parking on different levels with two entrances depending where you park and also what time of year you are visiting. The parks standard opening times are 9.30 am until 5.30 pm but this does depend again on what times of year you are visiting. We went on 26th ...

Member Advice on Hypothyroidism 18/09/2010

My body is under active

Member Advice on Hypothyroidism Six months ago I was eventually diagnosed with a Hypothyroidism (in layman's terms Under Active Thyroid and through the rest of this piece I will use UAT ). I say eventually because I have had many of the symptoms for as long as I can remember but my GP's failed to put two and two together or just ignored them. Your Thyroid Your Thyroid is in your neck, under your voice box and Adams Apple and above your windpipe and works in collaboration with your pituitary gland. Your Thyroid together with the pituitary gland produces hormones that regulate how your cells and organs work within your body. The hormones your Thyroid produces are called Thyroxine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3), when working together these hormones control your metabolism and the way your body works including how quickly your body burns up energy, how quickly reactions in your body happens, how much you weigh and how much you sleep. The production of Thyroid hormones is controlled by another hormone called Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH). This is made by your pituitary gland which is in your brain. So basically your body needs these three hormones to exist. An UAT is when your Pituitary Gland produces too much TSH and your Thyroid doesn't produce enough Thyroxine, so your body and metabolism starts to slow down, this can also work the other way around and you can then have Hyperthyroidism (Over Active Thyroid). Symptoms of Hypothyroidism (Under Active Thyroid) Feeling tired and sleeping a lot. - ...

Wrights Ciabatta Bread Mix 01/09/2010

Wrights have got the right mix

Wrights Ciabatta Bread Mix I was recently talking to my neighbour about the joys of owning a bread maker and the conversation then turned to the types of bread we both make, she then went onto tell me that they were particularly fond of the Ciabatta bread that they make. I immediately asked for the recipe as my recipe takes two days and after two days we no longer fancy it. She told me it was a secret recipe but she would dig it out me. The following day a bag of flour landed in my garden! (People feed the strangest things to birds in Derbyshire!) This bag of flour was a Wright's Baking Ciabatta Bread mix, so this was my neighbour's secret recipe, hmmm cheat. The flour comes in a small paper type beige bag containing 500 grams (fits nicely into your hand) and can be made by just adding water and olive oil the photo Ciao have is an older version, the current photo of the bag is included in this review). The last time I tried a Wright's was about 10 years ago and that was the cheese and onion version and to be honest I wasn't too keen on but I decided that this was worth trying. The ingredients to this flour are wheat flour, dried yeast, salt, fat (Unhydrogenated palm and rapeseed oils), Dextrose, Dried Rye Sour Dough powder, chickpea flour, Emuliser E472e, Glucose Syrup, flour treatment agent, Asorbic acid (vitamin C) and vegetable protein. This is one of the reasons why I'm not keen on packet mixes they have far too many ingredients in them but at least I can make it on the day I want to eat it! The ...

The Burlington Restaurant at Devonshire Arms Country House Hotel, Yorkshire 14/08/2010

Paulpry eats posh at the Burlington

The Burlington Restaurant at Devonshire Arms Country House Hotel, Yorkshire A few weeks ago we went away to celebrate my Hubby's 40th Birthday, struggling to get him a present and knew we both wanted to eat in a Michelin starred restaurant I decided to book into the Devonshire Arms Country House Hotel and Spa Bolton Abbey, North Yorkshire, for 3 nights (I have reviewed our hotel stay seperately). The hotel has two restaurants, The Brasserie, that can be found within the bar and The Burlington which is housed within the main hotel and included in our stay was one nights dinner in the Burlington, with a second nights dinner in the Brasserie, the last nights dinner was at our expense in whichever restaurant we wanted. The Burlington has held a Michelin star for a number of years however the star was removed when the previous Head Chef Michael Wignall left for pastures new in 2007, the current head chef Steve Smith joined in 2008 and had previously held a star for 10 years in other restaurants, with the current star being awarded in January 2009, the restaurant also holds 4 AA rosettes. The Burlington can be entered via the main entrance to the Devonshire arms and can be found along a corridor on the left of the reception. On arrival you are greeted by the front of house staff, this can include Eric Arens, the Restaurant Manager. We arrived at 6.30 for 7.00 and were shown into the Cocktail Lounge for pre dinner cocktails and drinks where you are given the Menus, one for the food you are about to eat and the other is the extensive wine list containing ...

The Devonshire Arms Country House Hotel & Spa, Bolton Abbey 01/08/2010

A bedtime hug from the Devonshire Arms

The Devonshire Arms Country House Hotel & Spa, Bolton Abbey A couple of weeks ago my Hubby celebrated his 40th birthday. I had absolutely no idea what to buy him as a present so I decided that I would look around for a nice hotel within the UK and book us in for the weekend as a surprise for him. On our list of things to do before we die (morbid I know) was to eat in a Michelin Starred Restaurant, so I thought why not incorporate that into our weekend away. I knew we couldn't go very far from Derbyshire as it was our 4 year olds leaving party at pre-school and there was no way she would want to miss that, so I decided to check out what was available in the Yorkshire Area. I immediately set out Googling and the first hotel I came across was the Devonshire Arms Country House Hotel and Spa in Bolton Abbey near Skipton, North Yorkshire, it looked soooooo lovely and on top of that it had a Michelin Star Restaurant. Perfect I thought, until I saw the price, it was very expensive. More searches later and I had narrowed it down to 3 hotels including the Devonshire Arms (OK it maybe expensive but my Hubby is only 40 once and it would put a guilt trip on him with my 40th Birthday (He was on a training course in the Lake District, my daughter and I accompanied him with his accommodation in a travel hotel FOC via the company he works for and he paid for mine!) A few phone calls later and it turned out that the only hotel that would take a 4 year old and let her eat in the restaurant and had the dates available for Hubby's Birthday was the ...

Breville VST012 17/07/2010

Bravo Breville - My kitchen is now a Cafè

Breville VST012 I had owned my previous old fashioned Breville sandwich maker for about 20 years, it was still up to the job but no matter how much I cleaned it, I could just not remove the greasy residue left from melted cheese, so I thought it was about time it went in the bin. I popped into my local independent local electrical retailer for a browse around. Whilst in there this Breville Cafè Style Sandwich Press caught my eye. It looked rather substantial and more importantly it looked very easy to clean. The sandwich press is bigger than the average sandwich toaster and probably looks more like a health grill rather than a sandwich maker, it doesn't give you the squashed sealed in edges that the standard sandwich gives you and is a lot more expensive than the traditional sandwich maker. The Press The sandwich press has a chrome finished floating hinged top plate and is 9cm high x 33 cm wide and 30 cm depth including handle with a red and green light on the top of the machine. It has plastic legs with non slip feet. On the side it has a lockable storage clip and underneath is a wrap around cord storage area for the 1 metre long cable. The machine is made larger with the cool-touch handle allowing you to lift the top plate open. At the rear of the machine can be found the large strong spring containing the electrical wires to the top of the machine. When you lift the top lid you find the non-stick flat top and bottom plates (bottom plate 18cm x 28cm with a 1 cm lip around the edge, ...

Friguia Animal Park, Sousse 05/07/2010

Friguia Animal Park - A walk on the wild side

Friguia Animal Park, Sousse Whilst on our recent holiday to Tunisia we decided to take an excursion out of the site and as we have a 4 year old daughter that excursion had to be to the Friguia Animal Park. There was only one problem, the excursion organised by Thomson involved a few hours at the park followed by shopping in a local shopping centre. In the last few years we have experienced shopping in North African countries (Egypt and Turkey) and shopping with a young child is not a nice experience. North Africans especially shopkeepers love children and have a very good way of getting parents into their shops by offering the child a Chubba lolly, once they have the family in the shop it can be very difficult to extract yourself from the shop without buying something, so we would rather avoid this situation. We asked the rep if we could visit the park without the shopping, she made a telephone call and told us that a German tour visited the park only and if we wanted she would book us onto this excursion, like she said, you don't need a guide to tell you what animal you are looking at, so we duly accepted this offer. About the Park The Friguia Animal Park is situated between Hammamet and Sousse, we were stopping in Hammamet and it took us, once we had stopped at every hotel to pickup, about 1/2 an hour to reach the Park. Friguia is a private animal park open to the public since November 11th, 2000. The purpose of the park is to preserve the species by looking after the development of the most ...

Hotel Riu Palace Hammamet Marhaba, Hammamet 15/06/2010

Riu - A Palace in Hammamet

Hotel Riu Palace Hammamet Marhaba, Hammamet I quite fancied a change of scenery for this year's 2 week holiday so instead of my Hubby's favourite Egypt I decided we would visit Tunisia. Tunisia is a small country within North Africa, bordered with Algeria and Libya and is on the Mediterranean Sea. Flights from England take around 3 hours and from Scotland around 5 hours with most UK airports flying to Tunisia. The Riu Palace Marhaba is a 5* All Inclusive resort and is situated in Hammamet which is the top right hand side of the country and was the first tourist destination of Tunisia. The nearest airport is Monistir, and is about 1 1/2 hours transfer time between airport and resort. On entering the resort, the reception area of the hotel is quite large with plenty of seating with smoking and non smoking areas and is the main hub of the hotel, with the main restaurant and main bar entrances situated within this area. The resort contains a main hotel with around 171 rooms over 3 floors and accessed with either stairs or 2 glass lifts, with a further 200 bungalows situated within the grounds at the front and back of the resort. Our Bungalow We normally stop within hotels when we go away but this time we decided it would be nice to try a bungalow. Our bungalow was at the front of the resort very near the main entrance. When I booked I requested a standard bungalow sleeping 2 - 3 people however when we arrived we found we had a standard bungalow sleeping up to 4 people. The outside of the bungalows are painted white ...

Happy Party with Hello Kitty & Friends (Nintendo DS) 15/05/2010

Hello Kitty - Let's Party

Happy Party with Hello Kitty & Friends (Nintendo DS) It seems my 4 year old daughter has all of a sudden become obsessed with the Hello Kitty Franchise, well it seems to be very popular with the girls at her pre-school, and on a recent trip to Tesco I was not surprised when she spotted a Hello Kitty DS game, so it went in the trolley, (that's the last time she is going to Tesco with me!). Hello Kitty was first developed in Japan in 1974 and was then introduced into America in 1976. It now seems to have a worldwide following and popular amongst girls of all ages. They have a range of fashion clothes and accessories, games and everything else you can think of, even Tiawan airline Eva Air have a plane decorated with Hello Kitty and Friends. The character of Hello Kitty is said to be based on a Japanese Bobtail Cat. This game is called Happy Party with Hello Kitty & Friends The game doesn't just have Hello Kitty but a number of friends join her as well including My Melody, (a little bunny wearing a pink hat) Cinnamon, (a white bunny with big ears) Keroppi, (a green frog,) The Sugar Bunnies, (a brown bunny called Kurousa and a white bunny with a pink bow called Shirousa) U*SA*HA*NA, (a multicoloured bunny) The Little Twin Stars (a blue angel called Kiki and a pink angel called LaLa) Kuromi (the naughty bunny) and Badtz-Maru (a black bird type thing). When switching on the game it takes you through the standard advertising and this then allows you to set the language that you require, unfortunately on our version it didn't ...
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