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since 09/07/2001


All About Me 16/03/2003

Me me me, it's all about me

All About Me 01. What time is it? 12.09 am- I am waiting up for someone to come home from the pub 02. Name Christine Ann 03. Number of candles that appeared on your last birthday cake: There was no cake- there might have been a muffin of sorts- I was on a plane coming back from Turkey. 04. Hair colour: Reddish auburn chestnut 05. Tattoos: No 06. How much do you love your job on a scale of 0-5: At the moment it's about a 3.5 but I think it has potential to improve. I've just moved to a new post for the four and hopefully final time! 07. Favourite colour: Depends on my mood- I do like forest green and gray-blues 08. Home County: Lothian 09. Current Relationship Status: Single but attached (this sounds like an application for online dating or something) 10. Favourite food: Chocolate, ice cream, pizza, olives, avocados and really good thick cut chips- not all at the same time, obviously 11. Been to Africa? Not yet. 12. Been to Camden? Yes, a couple times, the most recently in November 13. Loved somebody so much it made you cry? I'm not really into crying except during really bad TV movies. 14. Been in a car accident? Twice. Neither time my fault! Once when I was about 13- me and my Dad smashed into somebody who wasn't looking where they were going, and about 5 years ago en route home from running the Glasgow Half Marathon when a car drifted into our lane. Scary. 15. Croutons or bacon bits? Both, thanks. 16. Sprite ...

Member Advice on Living Abroad 27/02/2003


Member Advice on Living Abroad There's nothing like a good challenge to shift a case of terminal writer's block- so for my 50th op I will take up the "mattygroves suggestion" and tell you all about what I like & dislike about living abroad. It also gives me a good opportunity to give some travel advice which I have been meaning to broadcast for ages after my transatlantic debacle back in January. * WHAT I DISLIKE" ***So, what are you doing living here? **** If I had 10p for every time I was asked that question, I'd…have more money than I do now. No, seriously, this is a subject that comes up virtually every time I meet new people. I have to file it under the "things I dislike". It’s not that I mind sharing my background, it's just that it gets a tad repetitive. And it also means I have to talk about stuff like getting married to someone here and then getting divorced. I don't know about you, but I am not always particularly anxious to discuss my divorce with someone I have known for all of five minutes. My standard phrase now is "it's a long story" but it always comes out eventually. In a nutshell, I grew up in America. I lived in Pennsylvania, New York and California. At age 22 I was traveling in Scotland after finishing university where I got a Master's degree specialising in Celtic Mythology. I was working in a pub in the Highlands and met a Scottish guy (as you do in the Highlands). Once my work permit expired, I had to go home, since I didn’t fancy getting ... 13/01/2003

UNSELECT TRAVELSELECT Online travel agents have, for the most part, been a great asset to me- I prefer the convenience and ease of booking online, I like being to able run my own searches, and up til now, I always received great service and everything has gone smoothly. Well, it just goes to show you when things go wrong with travel agents, they tend to go wrong in a big way. I usually try to write balanced Ciao opinions, but this episode has been such a disaster I hope I can be forgiven if it becomes a bit skewed! are a big, popular, well known online travel agent. As part of, their website boasts awards for service and they are even listed as as a British Airways "preferred partner". Their site is easy to navigate and search, and the prices that came up for two round trip tickets to Florida in January were the best I'd found anywhere. So I didn't hesitate in making a reservation with Travel Select for British Airways flights from Glasgow- London Gatwick-Tampa, departing on 31 December and coming back about ten days later. I was pleased to receive an immediate confirmation e-mail. Among other things, the e-mail gave all my details, itinerary and indicated that the booking was to be checked before billing by a member of the Travel Select team. I didn't worry too much when my credit card was billed. My only slight concern was that they said they aim to post the tickets out anywhere from three to seven days before travel. Uh-oh, thought I, it's the ...

Le Meridien Russell Square Hotel, London 12/12/2002


Le Meridien Russell Square Hotel, London The last time I went to London was 12 years ago. I stayed in a grubby student flat with my brother who was sharing with about six other people. It was so cramped we spent the whole visit on the tube and in the pub, only coming back for a few uncomfortable hours sleep. So it was considerable enthusiasm that I recently set about booking a proper hotel for a night's stay in London. Yes, glamorous jet-setters that we are, as a birthday treat the Boyfriend and I were flying down from Glasgow early on Saturday (read: 6am on bargain BMI flight) for two action packed days and one night. Being somewhat better off than I was in the old studenty days, I didn't want someplace scummy, but was nonetheless was conscious that we didn't want to be shelling out big money for a room we'd have the use of for approximately 10 hours. I spent some time scouring the internet for cheap online hotel discounts. Imagine my delight when I managed to secure a room in the 4 star Le Meridien Russell Square. This is in the Bloomsbury district, and I had read this was a nice area. From all appearances, the hotel was central, classy looking and within yards from a tube station. For a mere £63, a double room with en suite could be all ours, surrounded by 4 star luxury. I was elated when I discovered the normal rate was usually around £100 a night on the weekend. I have never stayed in any of the other Le Meridien hotels, but I gathered they are a chain. Still, this place looked as though it had style ...

The Body Shop Eyeliner 05/12/2002


The Body Shop Eyeliner I have a Very Important job interview coming up in about a week's time. It's so important my prospective employers are even using psychometric-type personality tests- ie "if you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?" That kind of thing. While personal grooming habits are probably not going to come up at the interview (I hope not, unless there's a problem I'm not aware of!) I could probably use my recent conversion to a new type of eyeliner as positive proof that I am a flexible, adaptable individual. Balanced in my approach to life and work, with high standards, yet not rigid. You see, for those of you who have read some of my past ops will know that I have been a habitual devotee of Boots No 7 liquid eyepen. Until now. It happened almost by accident. We were making our first exploratory visit to one of the big designer outlet centres near Edinburgh a few Sundays ago. During our trawl through the mall (pronounce it "mawl" in true American fashion to get a good rhyme) we came across a Body Shop store. OK, a confession. I know the Body Shop are right-on with their ethical policies, environmental recycle green attitude, etc etc. I know they have some great products. But something about their brand image annoys me, and has done for awhile. I don't know why- it's not the time or place to go into it. Maybe it's just too ubiquitous and familiar- boring. Let's just say I usually find myself instinctively giving it a body swerve. But we were in a pre-Christmas ...

A New Day At Midnight - David Gray 08/11/2002


A New Day At Midnight - David Gray With the phenomenal success of his last album "White Ladder", David Gray faced a major challenge. It was generally acknowledged by Gray himself that the popularity of White Ladder was unusual. For Gray, who had struggled for years to make it big, White Ladder marked his entrance into the music major leagues. That album was something a little bit special- it would have to be to have the kind of sales it (still) generates. So to move on to his next effort " A New Day at Midnight" must have been incredible daunting. Comparisons are inevitable, so I'll make some, though I feel it would be unfair to judge this album solely on what has gone before. I decided to take the plunge as soon as it was released, figuring if I hated it, it would easily be shifted on eBay. Paying £8.99 (free shipping!) from the ever reliable CD-WOW, I placed my order and held my breath. It arrived a few days ago and has been on heavy rotation ever since. I know from a little background reading that personal circumstances in David Gray's life had an influence on the style and feel of this album. In particular, the death of his father and the birth of his son gave Gray plenty to ruminate about and his lyrics in general are tinged with a sense of big emotive life and death issues. This makes for a somewhat darker, more introspective album than White Ladder. I get the sense that Gray decided he didn't want to be a total downer, though, so it tries to balance itself by adding in some quirky poppier ...

Channel 4 - Model Behaviour 28/10/2002

Kittenwalk Style

Channel 4 - Model Behaviour Ah, once again I have fallen prey to the allure of the dreaded "Reality TV" show. There have been so many of these in the last couple years that I've become like one of Pavlov's dogs- I see the shots of the long queue of hopefuls standing in the rain for their chance to be insulted by some know-it-all judge-and I'm hooked! I know what's coming, and I can't tear my eyes away!! The latest offering from Channel 4 is "Model Behaviour", a competition which also ran last year though I confess to not having seen it. Premise: Simple. From the hoards of thousands ordinary mortals are plucked one guy, and one girl who after enduring endless rounds of competition with like-featured gods and goddesses will be awarded with a year's modelling contract from Select. Oh, and the cover of British Glamour and GQ, respectively. The format goes something like this. 1. Regional auditions. Manchester, London, Belfast, etc. Hopefuls queue for hours. Upon reaching the entrance, they are made to line up to be scrutinsed by the judges, asked to walk up and down the room, and then either chosen for round two, or dismissed. The judges are: Dylan, editor in chief of GQ. He wears glasses which somebody told obviously told him are "groovy", is prone to commenting on the various busts of the girls on display and is generally a bit of a wise guy. Which is fine by me, considering the general insanity on display in this show. Kim: Bushy eyebrowed Head Booker of boy models at Select. Prone to ...

Tapestry Holidays 03/10/2002


Tapestry Holidays After last year's very successful "independent" holiday, I wasn't convinced about going through a tour company again. But then, we'd had an exhausting year, with very little time to do the kind of research and planning of last summer. And then the Tapesty brochure landed on the mat. WHO ARE TAPESTRY? Tapestry Holidays are a small specialist British based tour operator offering "off the beaten track" holidays to Greece and Turkey. As we opted for Turkey, I cannot vouch for the Greece experience, but I would imagine it to be fairly similar. Founded eleven years ago, Tapestry's philosophy is to offer quality holidays to people who wish to get a bit of the beaten track, explore authentic regions, and try something a little different. The emphasis is very much on avoidance of mass tourism. Tapesrty recently won 3rd place in the Which? holiday awards, and have consistently achieved excellent customer ratings. They point this out frequently- apparently many guests return year after year, and are rewarded for it in a number of "customer loyalty" discounts. For example, returning guests can receive discounts on the price of car hire, holiday prices, and are eligible for 2 for 1 deals. WHAT DO THEY OFFER? Tapestry offer a range of 1 or 2 week holidays in various regions of Turkey and Greece. An excellent way to see the types of properties available is to look on the their website. It's easy to navigate, and has search options for specific locations, dates, or ...

BeneFit Range 21/08/2002


BeneFit Range I blame it on Fiona, a girl in my office. She came back one day with a certain glow about her, a kind of luminous sheen to her skin. Or maybe I noticed because she came up to me and demanded "Do I look luminous?" Er, yes, why do you ask? Turns out she had been accosted by the woman at the make-up counter in Boots and doused in a new line of products called BeneFit, including something called "High Beam." Mm, says I, always one for a new product to make me look gorgeous, perhaps I should investigate. ***If it's good enough for Kylie, it's good enough for me***** One of the first things I discovered about the BeneFit line is that it's the "make-up artist's secret. " Don’t you always wonder about these make-up artists who know all these things? Do you think they sit around at home looking in their bags full of fantastic products and smirk to themselves? Nah, I think anything that advertises itself as a secret is missing the point. But anyway. Apparently Kylie uses it. I mention it because when I first started researching High Beam, I kept reading about how it was "Kylie's look." So, warning from the get go- Please don't buy this to look like Kylie. She looks like that because of the make-up artists, naturally good bone structure, and airbrushing. Not because of High Beam. Now, reality check in place, read on. ***The BeneFit Line**** Like so many other fine things, the Benefit cosmetics range was developed by two enterprising Americans. Twin sisters, in fact, ...

Everything that starts with B ... 15/07/2002


Everything that starts with B ... As some of you know, Jill Murphy has made a special request for offerings of "Favourite things" to celebrate her cancer free years. Having recently lost a friend to cancer, I am more than happy to contribute to this cause, finding any triumph over this illness is something deserving of celebration. Of course, it's a question of narrowing it down- I, like so many of you, have many many favourite things. It was a close toss up between a few other options, but in the end, I've gone with a thing that brings me endless delight, comfort and joy: Having A Bath. **Baths I have known and loved** What is it about having a bath? Personally, I think that floating in warm water is some kind of subsconscious link to the womb. To me, after a long day, especially during the winter, climbing into a tub full of soapy bubbles and hot water is an instant passport to relaxation. When I was growing up, I used to have baths with my brother. I guess my mother figured it was a way to get two kids clean in one go. It was great fun, and there were usually little toys like a plastic submarine and a loofah puppet. At some point though we got too old and self conscious to have baths together- obviously the beginning of the decline of our sibling relationship. Actually, for some reason the bath in the house I grew up with never worked all that well. My dad, who is the world's absolute worst plumber tried to fix it and just made it worse. The taps were reversed, so the cold came out hot and ...

Boots No.7 Quick Dry Self Tan Lotion 13/07/2002

Pasty White Pins Prohibited

Boots No.7 Quick Dry Self Tan Lotion Ah, summer, a rare animal in Scotland. Like so many of my compatriots, if I want anything resembling a bronzed body, I have two options- hop a flight to sunnier climes, or invest in a bottle of self tanning lotion. Or a combination of the two. Self tanners have improved a lot in recent years, but the complaints are still generally the same. The result, after labourious and tedious hours of contorting oneself to ensure uniform application, is often streaks of colour and a resemblance to a bottle of Tango. My first couple experiments put me off for years-it seemed messy, expensive and artificial. However, last year prior to a trip to Lanzarote I became tempted to give it a go again. Being a fair skinned freckly person, I simply cannot subject myself to hours in the sun-and for obvious health reasons, neither should anyone else. Despite this, I couldn't bear the thought of wandering around the resort looking like pale and pasty. I like having a tan, I look better with a bit of colour, and so after some encouragement from a curious Boyfriend, I yielded. Off to Boots. **THE PRICE** I mention this firstly because it is a very attractive aspect of the product. I paid about £7.50, but this was last year, so the price may have gone up slightly. However, one good thing about Boots is that they do a lot of 2 for 1 deals, especially on sun care products and I have seen this on offer a few times. Certainly not the most expensive self tanner on the market, as you'll see from ...

Everything that starts with D ... 24/06/2002

Lessons from Danielle-in memoriam.

Everything that starts with D ... As some of you may know (if you've read my "Top 10 Websites op), my friend Danielle had been surviving a brain tumour for some time. After a heroic struggle, Danielle died peacefully last Sunday, a few days before her 29th birthday. . In the midst of a lot of sadness, I've been reflecting on her life, and thinking about some of the lessons this amazing girl taught me. Some of them are going to sound hugely cliché, but it's funny how when somebody is dying, all the old adages start to really ring true. 1. Life is short- eat dessert first- and twice. One of the things Danielle did a lot of during her last six months was eat Ben & Jerry's ice cream. She especially liked their milkshakes. They actually gave her a discount in her local branch. When dining out, D was regularly known to order two puddings and merrily devour them both. Toward the end, when she was too weak to eat or drink, D still managed to consume a number of lime pops. While I'm not advocating anyone going out and gorging themselves stupid on junk food, the point is that sometimes you have to just say to yourself- you don't live forever. Have the homemade apple piece with extra vanilla ice cream. Embrace the chocolate torte. 2. Sometimes you don't need a whole lot of words to get the point across-just people to listen. Part of D.'s treatment involved a couple of major brain surgeries to remove the tumour-in the end, this was unsuccessful. Her last op left her unable to communicate fully, and she ...

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack Of The Clones (Wide Screen) (Two Discs) (Sell Through) (DVD) 12/06/2002


Star Wars: Episode II - Attack Of The Clones (Wide Screen) (Two Discs) (Sell Through) (DVD) A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away I was a huge Star Wars fan. Like many others of my generation, I was stunned by the everything about the films. Even as a child I was touched by some of the big and meaningful themes. Good against evil. Dark versus light. Save the princess, scoop the treasure, blow up the bad guys. I had the soundtrack, the novelisation, and the Princess Leia doll with the plastic hair donut inserts. So, Episode II: Attack of the Clones seemed like a movie I had to go see, cause, well it is Star Wars, right? Never mind that Episode I was, in my humble opinion, a lot of characterless drivel- this one had to be better. So like most of the world, I trotted along with a fellow devotee, and forked over my £5.00 to see this latest instalment. Well, I am no longer a child playing with my fake light sabre, so maybe I am missing the point at times. But unfortunately, whatever magic Star Wars once had for me seems to have been subsumed in a spectacular lightshow of computerised drones, bluescreen effects, corny dialogue, incomprehensible plotlines, and a hugely self conscious attitude. It was like watching a once beautiful woman watching herself in a mirror to see if she is still the fairest of them all. She's still pretty, but maybe a bit too self-involved for her own good **THE PLOT** Trying to explain the plot of this movie would exhaust me, and I am not even sure I could get it right. I'm a relatively intelligent person who spends all day ...

ITV - Survivor Panama 28/04/2002


ITV - Survivor Panama Take 12 people of varying ages, backgrounds and abilities. Fly them to a remote location, say Panama for example, and divide them into two "tribes". Drop the tribes off a boat with a few bare essentials, and instruct them to row to two separate islands. Leave them there for 37 days. Every three days, have the tribes compete with each other for "rewards" such as food or luxuires, and more importantly, for "immunity". The losing tribe without immunity is forced to attend a tribal council, and "vote off" one of their tribe members. Add some backbiting between the contestants, and a bit of bad weather, starvation and poisonous native species. At the end of the game, the last remaining person wins the grand prize of £1 million pounds. The losers get nothing. Welcome to the formula for the show "Survivor" which is currently being shown n the second run in the UK. Based on the highly successful American series, the UK audience has been somewhat less than taken with the adventures of the castaways. Consequently, a few changes have been made to the format. The aim this time seems to involve the public in a vote, a strategy which will possibly change the entire outcome of the game. Personally, I am completely addicted to the series, and am enjoying this run better than the first. I recall a conversation with my mother a couple years ago telling her about Big Brother being all the rage here, and she was adamant that the US based Survivor was the better show. Having seen both now, ...

Aussie Mega Styling Spray 11/03/2002


Aussie Mega Styling Spray Since Christmas, I have been wearing my wear in a style that actually involves getting up in the morning and…doing things to it, with a hair dryer, and styling goop. Don't let the picture on my profile fool you- no, I now have cool Dido-esque flicky hair. That is, when it behaves itself. I have bad hair days aplenty, when it simply won't do what it is meant to do. That's when the hair styling products really come out in full force. I bought Aussie Mega Styling spray when I was holiday in the States, but it's available in the UK too. I use the Aussie shampoo line sometimes, and like it, so I figured their styling spray was probably worth a go as well. I paid about $5.00 for this, and need to check up on the UK price, but I'd reckon it probably costs in the region of £3.50… Well, hmm…sad to say, that after three months of use, I'm not convinced about this product, although it does have some good points. **CHUNKY PURPLE BOTTLE** I really like the packaging- it's probably the best thing this product has going for it. It's a happy, chunky, sturdy purple bottle with kangaroos on it. Spray nozzle and lettering in white. Boasting ingredients of Australian Thyme and promising to leave my hair soft and brushable. I do like the Aussie brand- the look of it, that is. It makes me feel like I'm sort of young, carefree and having an adventure in the outback…well, maybe not quite, but I do think they have a good image. This isn't just styling spray after all, it's MEGA ...
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