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" Life is like a box of chocolates "

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since 10/11/2006


De Vere Village Leeds North Hotel & Leisure Club, Leeds 11/07/2012

It's not the YMCA with these village people

De Vere Village Leeds North Hotel & Leisure Club, Leeds We had tickets to watch Yorkshire play Durham in a T20 match at Headingly and although Leeds is only around an hour or so drive from Sheffield we thought it would be nice to take advantage by making a break of it by stopping over. We hadn’t received any emails for hotel deals in Leeds, so went in search of suitable accommodation through sites like last, whilst this proved fruitless we did however come across The De-Vere village Hotel, situated just up the road from Headingly Stadium. £149.00 for two nights in a standard double room with dinner on the first night, breakfast both mornings and full use of the leisure facilities. Although it was more than we really wanted to pay, we went ahead and booked it direct with the hotel as we couldn’t guarantee finding anything else in time. The Hotel boasts 134 bedrooms, Pub, Restaurant, 10 meeting rooms, Starbucks and leisure facilities all under one roof. There is parking for 250 vehicles. We arrived early so, after having a snoop around, went into Starbucks for a coffee and as it had stopped raining sat outside to enjoy a little afternoon sun. One thing that became obvious was the amount of aircraft overhead we saw, a plane at least every 15 minutes and it was then we realised the Hotel was in the flight path for Leeds/Bradford airport. Our two tall lattes cost £5.20 and not being regular customers at Starbucks chains can not say whether this is the standard price for them or not. Everything runs off reception, ...

Cedar Court Hotel, Huddersfield 01/07/2012

It's what's on the inside that counts

Cedar Court Hotel, Huddersfield We receive daily emails from a site called Kgb who, amongst other things, offer some fantastic deals on hotel accommodation throughout the UK. To take advantage of such deals, you purchase a voucher(s) which is sent to you by email and then make your booking(s) with the hotel(s) direct ,quoting the voucher number provided. We were planning on visiting the Bradford Mela in June this year and wanted to make a weekend of it so when this deal for a hotel in Huddersfield ( only a short drive away from Bradford) arrived in my inbox in March, we decided to take advantage just in case nothing else suitable became available in time. £89.00 instead of £239.00 for a two night Yorkshire break for two at Cedar Court Hotel Huddersfield, including bed, breakfast and a two course a la carte meal for two plus full use of the hotel’s leisure facilities . The Bradford Mela was due to take place on Saturday 9th June so we booked our weekend break to start the day before. Cedar Court Hotel group is Yorkshires largest independent hotelier which was established in 1985 with a purpose built hotel in Wakefield ( which we are due to visit in August this year). The group now also has hotels in Harrogate, York and Leeds/Bradford. The hotel is situated just off the M62 ( junction 24) ,only a short drive away from Huddersfield town centre and a mere 15 miles away from Bradford. We hadn’t picked the best weekend weather wise but we were still looking forward to our break away, especially the visit ...

The Olde Barn Hotel, Marston 06/06/2012

~~ Deal or no Deal ~~

The Olde Barn Hotel, Marston We receive daily emails from a site called Kgb who offer some fantastic deals on hotel accommodation throughout the UK. When taking up a deal, you purchase a voucher which is sent to you by email and then make your booking with the hotel quoting the voucher number provided. When the following offer arrived in our inbox back in December 2011 we both felt it was too good to miss. £79.00 instead of £248.00 for a 2 night stay for 2 people sharing a superior room including breakfast plus full use of the luxury spa facilities at the Olde Barn Hotel, Marston, Grantham, Lincolnshire. We wasted no time in purchasing our voucher which had to be redeemed by 31/05/2012 and during the heatwave in March this year booked our two night break for the last weekend in May. Saturday the 26th May saw us leaving South Yorkshire for Lincolnshire during the second heatwave of 2012. The hotel is situated just off the A1 and about a 15 minute drive away from Grantham Town centre. As its name suggests, the hotel served as a barn in a previous life and did so for over a 100 years before being converted into a hotel in 1989 with just 20 rooms. It now boasts 103 plus 2 banqueting suites, 9 meeting rooms, restaurant, bar , new lounge, health club & spa and on site parking for 250 vehicles as well as designated disabled bays conveniently located outside the main entrance lobby. With conference facilities, civil wedding licence and it’s peaceful countryside location it is ideal for that special day or ...

Best western Derwent Manor, Consett 13/05/2012

I can't help rambling on about this.

Best western Derwent Manor, Consett We set off from Yorkshire on a cold damp windy Sunday morning at the end of April for a two night break in Northumberland. Having booked it back in March during the heat wave we foolishly thought that the lovely warm weather was here to stay… how wrong we were. We found the Best Western Derwent Manor Hotel via a deal checker site Great little breaks and what a deal it was. Derwent ramblers break includes :-two nights accomodation for two adults sharing at the Derwent Manor Hotel in the stunning Northumberland countryside (worth £125 per night), full English breakfast on both mornings (worth £8.50 per person per day), three-course Table d’hote dinner in Guinevere’s Restaurant (worth £22.00 per person per night), Free bottle of wine on your first night, plus afternoon tea (worth £7.50 per person) and packed lunches for that afternoon stroll (worth £12.00 per person) on the other day. We actually paid £173.00 ( £85.00) per person ) plus a £3.00 handling fee. The hotel was very easy to find without any sophisticated satellite navigation system but instead by me the old fashioned way with a map on my knee. We arrived cold, wind -swept and a tad damp around the edges having explored a couple of the many castles en route. The long driveway up to the Hotel had seen better days and wouldn’t have looked out of place down here in Sheffield where I think we must have some of the worst roads in the Country…yes you‘ve guessed it …. Potholes!! although one was more like a crater and imagine ...

Papa Ciccio's, Sheffield 01/09/2011

~~~ Papa provides perfection ~~~

Papa Ciccio's, Sheffield Fancy fresh tasty food in a buzzing little Italian restaurant with a friendly, warm cosy ambience ?. Then look no further than Papa Ciccio’s Italian Ristorante Pizzeria. Situated in the Crosspool area of Sheffield it is still as popular today as it was when it first opened it’s doors back in the late eighties. We have been dining here for some 20 years, testament is it not of just how good the food and service is. What to expect The decor is typically Italian ( some may even say quirky) , green and red walls are adorned with pictures , shells, fishing nets there is even a guitar, whilst glass topped tables covering crisp white linen cloths cleverly bring together the 3 colours of the Italian flag. Front of house staff usually consists of 3 waiters dressed in black all of whom welcome you in a warm and friendly manner. Prices are not what I’d call exactly cheap but you are served quality food and as the saying goes.. “ you get what you pay for”. The fact it isn’t licensed allows you to perhaps keep costs down by taking your own alcohol although this does incur a £1.50 corkage charge which is added to your bill. Should you forget to take a bottle of wine with you all is not lost as there is an off licence directly opposite and a small supermarket just a few yards up the road. They do of course offer a wide choice of soft drinks ( either sparkling or still) at a cost of £1.60 a glass. ½ litre bottles of water both sparkling and still are also available at ...

Princess 162251 Classic Stone & Raclette Set 01/03/2011

~ Stone Me ~

Princess 162251 Classic Stone & Raclette Set The term raclette can refer to 3 things. The grill These come in various shapes, sizes and styles. The simplest being a holder where you place the cheese and once melted it is simply scraped off by the diners as often as they like. Modern versions like the Princess classic stone & raclette set have small individual wedge shaped pans where you place the cheese before popping under the grill to melt. The stone can then be used to cook meat, fish and vegetables. The cheese This cheese originates from Switzerland . Made from unpasturised cows milk and pale yellow in colour, has a mild nutty flavour which when melted, transforms into the most delectable, salty, buttery tasting treat. It is said that Swiss cow herders would take it with them when they were moving the cattle up the mountains. In the evenings they would place the cheese on a rock by the campfire and once melted it would be scraped onto bread to be enjoyed as their evening meal. Incidentally, the word raclette is derived from the French verb racler meaning scrape…… scraping off the cheese from the grill onto foods of your choice. For some reason it isn’t that easy to get hold of in the UK unless you are shopping for it around Christmas time. All is not lost though as there are a few alternatives out there which share the same melting properties and work just as well if not better. I have found Gruyère and Jarlsberg to be good substitutes. The meal A traditional raclette meal would consist of boiled ...

Method Laundry Liquid Fresh Air 25 Washes 11/10/2010

**There's Method in my madness**

Method Laundry Liquid Fresh Air 25 Washes I love receiving freebies and was rather looking forward to trying out the sample of Method laundry detergent that dropped through our letterbox a few months ago. The 18ml sample was accompanied with a letter explaining how Method’s “ Brand -new smart clean formula actively seeks out dirt and stains like no other formula”. The sachet I received held sufficient detergent to wash one large load of laundry. My first thoughts were along the lines of “ Who are they trying to kid ?” , from previous experience using other conventional detergents the minimum required is usually a minimum of around the 37ml mark to have some sort of guarantee that your laundry comes out clean. This formula from Method’s latest product is 95% plant based with the remaining 5% made up with artificial preservatives. ( which the hope to source naturally in the future) It is 8 times more concentrated than other leading detergents which explains why they say you need to use less. It is also very kind to the skin and the environment too. I still wasn’t totally convinced by their claims but wasted no time trying it out. I already had a full load of laundry ready and waiting to be washed which consisted of T shirts, shorts and socks, ( well it was during the brief summer weather we had) that weren’t particular dirty but some items did have the odd grass stain ( don’t ask) and socks were a tad grubby on the soles. After snipping open the sachet it was easy to squeeze the contents into the machine ...

Travelodge, Ashford 01/07/2010

~~ I'd travel to lodge here ~~

Travelodge, Ashford We were planning one of our annual jaunts across the channel to stock up on items that are so much cheaper over there than here on British soil. In the past we have driven down to Kent during the night , arriving in plenty of time to board the first channel tunnel shuttle the next morning, shopped in both France and Belgium then been back on board the shuttle by lunchtime and enjoying a welcome cup of tea at home by late afternoon the same day. The only difference this time was that there were 3 going instead of just the two of us as teenage son decided he wanted to join in the fun. (Only a teenager could call this fun) As you can no doubt imagine it is all rather tiring and as neither of us could be classed as “Spring Chickens” anymore, we decided to look at ways to break up the journey but still keep the time away to a minimum. All we really needed was a bed for the night so we could wake the next morning feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the trip abroad plus the journey home. The obvious choice for this was a night in one of the budget chain hotels and as there is a Travelodge and Premier Inn located on the Eureka Leisure Park just off the M20 at Ashford, ( a mere 15 minute drive from the Euro Tunnel) off I went to check out availability and prices. On first checking the Premier Inn site I was dismayed to find I could only book a room to sleep a maximum of 2 adults for £ 66.00 and would also need to book a single room for the son. Obviously this extra cost ...

Crock Pot SC7500-IUK Saute Slow Cooker 01/02/2010

~~~ Sautéd ~~~

Crock Pot SC7500-IUK Saute Slow Cooker This is my second slow cooker, there was nothing wrong with the first one it was one of those 3 in 1 types that could be used to slow cook, steam or cook rice. I found I wasn’t really using it that much as I seldom cook rice, own a two tier steamer for use on the hob and the pot used to slow cook wasn’t the sort that you could use on the table. In short we didn’t really get on so after several uneventful years together we parted company (amicably I might add) and off it went to find a new lease of life with my sister. Mr. T. agreed I could look for a suitable replacement as at the time the weather was starting to turn rather cool and the amount of days the oven was on a low heat for the best part of the day cooking our evening meal were increasing. With the price of gas soaring and our central heating working overtime we concluded ( Mr. T. as ever thinking of a saving to his bank balance no doubt) that the purchase of a new one should be done sooner rather than later. Out came the Argos catalogue and I perused what was on offer. There were 17 slow cookers listed, differing in size, price and ability. Although I generally only cook on a daily basis for three, Messrs T. have healthy appetites I needed to concentrate on the ones capable of cooking enough for at least 4. Reading the blurb it was discovered I was best looking at ones with a 4.7 litre capacity which narrowed my search down somewhat. The one that did stand out, almost with neon flashing lights was the Crock ...

Electrolux Z355A Steam Cleaner 07/01/2010

~~~ Who needs a Plumber ? ~~~

Electrolux Z355A Steam Cleaner Our Vax hand held steam cleaner finally gave up the ghost and is sadly no longer with us. Mr. T. was rather reluctant to assist me in my search for a suitable replacement, until that is, I casually reminded him of the days when cleaning the grouting in the bathroom involved an old toothbrush, diluted bleach and a great deal of elbow grease. Contemplating the effort that would be required to carry out such a task his reluctance amazingly vanished, obviously realising there would a lot less effort required opening his wallet and wouldn’t be quite as painful either. My first port of call was the good old reliable Argos catalogue, to get an idea of what was available and the likely cost involved. It is surprising just how many hand held steamers there are on the market, all varying in size, performance and price. The one that really caught my eye was the Electrolux Z355A Enviro Steam Gun Cleaner, from the description it seemed perfect for our needs and it wasn’t too expensive either. I set Mr. T. the task of finding the best deal online. Not surprisingly it was available almost everywhere and the price was more or less the same, give or take a few pence. The dark clouds that had descended around Mr. T. suddenly started to slowly lift and the sun began to peek through when he spotted Tesco Direct were amongst the list of retailers, as not only could it be purchased through a cash back site but we would earn Double Clubcard points too. Feeling rather pleased with ...

VAX V-084N 08/06/2009

~ A " right " (or left ) pain in the thumb ~

VAX V-084N I had seen various hand held steam cleaners advertised when my son went through a (very annoying) phase watching those TV shopping channels and have to say that I was suitably impressed with the results they seemed to achieve. Looking at the somewhat tired and sleepy appearance of our bathroom tiles and grouting, my memory took me back to those adverts and I started to wonder if a steam cleaner could be just the solution to wake them up. Whilst on a shopping trip to B&Q, I noticed they were selling 1200 watt Vax V-084 hand held steam cleaners for £29.99. It looked like the answer to our problems and as I had a voucher for the shop, I wasted no time popping one in the trolley. There are various attachments included which, on reading the instruction booklet, gave me the impression my life would somehow become easier when it came to shifting the grime and lime that tends to accumulate, especially in the bathroom. Cleaning the grouting in the past with an old tooth brush and some diluted bleach had been a long, arduous, arm aching task but not anymore, or so I thought…….! ~~ Attachments ~~ There are six in total, each designed for a particular purpose, details of which can be found below. Long Nozzle (attached to mine in the picture), this adds extra length (obviously) and is the one I use when cleaning the grouting between kitchen and bathroom tiles, kitchen work surfaces and around the taps on the kitchen and bathroom sinks You can also attach the other ...

Bokashi Kitchen Composter 01/04/2009

~ I'm " Pickled " Pink with my Bokashi Bin~

Bokashi Kitchen Composter As a family we try our best to do our bit for the environment by recycling and making use of the two regular compost bins we have in the garden for things like Tea bags, fruit/vegetable peelings, egg shells and garden clippings, in a bid to reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfill. I was staggered to learn that it is estimated 6.7 million tonnes of household food waste is produced in the UK each year, which accounts for around 30% of the waste that ends its days in landfill sites. I would assume that a lot of this could well have been eaten, I have been guilty in the past of over estimating the amount of food I have prepared and cooked only to be left with a pile of leftovers In the same way I have been tempted by special offers such as BOGOFS, but have found my self wondering what on earth I am going to do with the extra food sat in the fridge and before I know it is well past it’s use by date. The same can be said for the scrapings left on plates too, it all ended up in the household bin along with the non recyclable plastic and perennial weeds from the garden. I have over the years become quite good at finding new and exciting ways to re create leftovers to avoid any unnecessary waste, although there are times when it is just not possible. Imagine my delight when I discovered a way to compost such food wastage by using a Bokashi Kitchen Composter. My first reaction was one of disbelief as I couldn’t for one minute see how you could compost virtually 100% of ...

Fact Finders 09/03/2009

~~ Checking In After The Checkout  ~~

Fact Finders Imagine being rewarded for something most of us do at least once a week, I am of course, referring to shopping. Well this is what happens when you become a panel member of A C Nielson – Fact Finders. I received an email invitation from Toluna at the beginning of November 2008, and after answering a few questions on my shopping habits, family members etc.. I was informed that I had qualified should I wish to do so, to become a panel member for fact finders, which would involve scanning the items I bought on each shopping trip. An email arrived a couple of days later from A C Nielson asking me to complete another short survey , mainly to confirm the details I had previously given, plus the names and addresses of the Supermarkets I frequented most. I was also asked to supply a landline number as a member of their customer service team would need to contact me to arrange delivery of the equipment required to become a member. They rang me the very next day and arrangements were made for everything to be delivered by courier the following week.  WHAT IS INVOLVED  Well basically they want you to scan all the household items you buy from the Supermarket, any other shops like the Butchers, Chemist, Market, Internet, anywhere really, even things you buy whilst abroad. You scan the barcodes of the items as soon as possible after purchasing them and the information is sent to the Fact Finders Office via your telephone line once a week. It all seemed very simple and straight forward ...

Eco-Balls 06/02/2009

♦Cosmic Cleaning With Saturn's Balls♦

Eco-Balls My mum gave me this set of Ecozone Ecoballs® after she had received them as a gift. She asked me to try them out to see what I thought about them, knowing I like trying out new products. The box contained 3 Ecoballs®, 3 refill packs, 45ml tube of Ecozone stain remover and a very handy instruction leaflet. Apparently the contents of the box allow you to do 1000 washes based on a 30 minute cycle in the washing machine. (The balls with pellets last up to 750 washes and the refills included provide an additional 250 washes) Those in hard water areas may achieve a lower amount. Just to let you know we live in a soft water area and a 60°c wash takes 1 hour 30 minutes in my machine, so I was interested to see how these perform ♦ WHAT ARE THEY ♦ Ecoballs® are an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional washing detergents. Ecoballs® are exactly that "Balls", made of plastic and green in colour with a sponge ring around them, making them resemble a UFO or Saturn (that's the planet not the Roman god of agriculture). I'd say they are about the size of a tennis ball (discounting the sponge ring). Each ball is filled with small round white and brown (more white than brown) pellets. These pellets do not contain soap, so they are kinder on the environment, your clothes and your washing machine. Because there is no soap present means you could actually save energy and water as you can dispense with the rinse cycle, that's assuming you have the facility on your ...

Electrolux Z3042 02/12/2008

▲Easy cleaning with Electrolux▲

Electrolux Z3042 My 10 year old bagged upright vacuum cleaner was not performing quite as well as it should, so we decided it was time to look at purchasing a new one. With so many to choose from I started to look round at what was available. The Dyson cleaners have appealed to me but I have not been overjoyed by the price of them. We had already decided to opt for a bagless cleaner as investigations have shown that these tend to be more powerful than the traditional bagged type models. I spotted an Electrolux model I rather liked whilst browsing in John Lewis, it did everything I wanted but I wasn't too impressed with the £149.00 price tag, I did however spot an Electrolux brochure which contained details of all their vacuum cleaners ( apart from any prices that is), which I took home to peruse at my leisure. ▲Spoilt For Choice▲ The brochure contained details of 10 bagless upright cleaners ( as well as 4 bagged uprights), with no idea of prices (except for the one I spotted in John Lewis,) I set to work checking on line and also the Argos catalogue hoping to find some answers. The Argos catalogue listed all the cleaners shown and I discovered that prices ranged from £70.00 to £199.00. We opted for one of the mid priced ones as it had all the features we required, plus an additional 3 to 1 stretch hose( this allows you to vacuum a full flight of stairs without having to move the cleaner) Our choice was the Electrolux Z3042AZ Velocity + all surface cleaner, priced at ...
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