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So apparently I am officially getting old, because I have started to experience the delights of indigestion and heartburn when I eat a big or spicy meal, starting with Christmas dinner 2013! Oh for the days when I could tuck into an all you can eat Chinese buffet, or a huge Indian takeaway banquet and feel no ill effects, but those days are gone, and now I need to keep some indigestion tablets in my handbag just in case, ah well. Tesco peppermint flavour indigestion tablets come in a pack of 48 for £1.98, which is pretty good value compared to the brand names such as Rennie, but I think you could probably get cheaper ones from places like Home Bargains or pound shops if you wanted to take the time to try. I don't think that price is too bad, for the convenience of picking them up with the food shopping, or getting them delivered as I do sometimes. The tablets are chewable, obviously they aren't as pleasant tasting as an actual mint that you'd eat just for fun, but they're not bad at all considering they're a medicine. Not too chalky, no aftertaste and the mint flavour is pleasant enough, reminiscent of toothpaste. They're fairly big, about the size of a 5p coin, but as these are to be chewed or sucked rather than swallowed whole that's not an issue. Do they work? Well yes, they do. I find that if I'm feeling a bit 'acid-ey' after a big meal two of these will pretty much completely relieve that feeling. If two don't do it for you, you can take up to 16 in a 24 hour period, and there are no warnings on the pack about taking them too closely together, you can take them to suit you pretty much as long as you don't go bananas with them. The active ingredient is calcium carbonate, this is also in other indigestion remedies such as Rennie and Gaviscon, but some of the more expensive versions have other ingredients too. If this one drug isn't working for you, it may be wise to try a more 'premium' brand, but if these work for you, why pay more? The pack size of 48 is great, because they last for ages, you can just pop half into your medicine cupboard and half into your handbag and relax knowing that you've got them if you need them.
I discovered Home Bargains a few years ago now, when I went back to uni as a mature student and my budget changed accordingly! Home Bargains is a discount shop, selling household items, toiletries, cleaning products, medicines, toys and food at brilliantly low prices. Home Bargains is really best, in my opinion, for toiletries and cleaning products. These items are so over-priced if you buy brand names, and even the supermarket own brands aren't always much cheaper. Home Bargains sells a mixture of well known brands and bargain (sometimes foreign) brands at much lower prices than Tesco or Sainsburys. For example, I recently bought a bottle of 'sink and plughole unblocker' for 99p, when what is basically the same product would have cost me over £3 at Tesco. Loads and loads of items are £1 or less, so the savings really add up over time. The food items aren't the strongest selling point for Home Bargains. Its great for things like soft drinks, tinned food, and other non-perishable items that you keep 'in stock' in your cupboards all the time. There isn't generally any fresh food though, you can get the basics but you'd struggle to put together a decent meal with what's on the shelves. There are absolutely tons of sweets and crisps though! Household items include things such as storage boxes, mops and buckets, pots and pans, some decorative stuff like clocks and cushions. There are also toys, pet products and a stationary section in the Home Bargains closest to me. You can never be 100% sure that what you're after will be in stock, which is one drawback, as it can mean having to make two trips and go elsewhere. However, with the low prices its worth a little bit of extra potential effort. The shops themselves are pretty basic, no frills, as you'd expect from a place that is mainly about selling in bulk and selling cheap. No self checkouts, in fact the checkouts look about 100 years old, and no real customer service to speak of. The minimal staff seem to just man the tills all the time, you don't see them wandering helping people or tidying up very much. That's to be expected though, and to be honest, the layouts easy enough, the stores aren't massive, so the chances of needing any help are pretty slim. I definitely recommend this shop to anybody looking to save a bit of money on household products, its surprisingly satisfying coming away with a big bag full of stuff that cost you less than a tenner. Another bonus is that there are always a few completely random and unexpected things for sale, so you never know for sure what bargain you might end up bringing home with you!
As a mature student, I've been lugging a huge laptop to and from uni for two years and debating whether to shell out for an iPad to save me from shoulder pain and serious lack of 'cool'. Finally, in my third year, I've been given one as a Christmas present! The iPad 2 is now the 'basic' iPad model available from apple. The later versions have been replaced with the new, lovely looking iPad Air, however this '2' is absolutely fine for a first model, and still feels novel and exciting. Its a good size, compared to the mini version its much better for watching films, playing games, and the bigger screen means that you can actually use it for some more 'computer' type tasks such as word processing ( I have a free version of Pages on there, the keypad takes some getting used to but once you've got the knack it feels strange going back to a real one!) Its obviously heavier than the mini or the air, but if you're used to lugging a 15" macbook around it feels like a dream! The OS operating system is, of course, a joy to use. Its simple, streamlined, and user friendly, as well as tying in nicely with other Apple product such as the iPhone or the macs. Apple really are very good at getting your loyalty, once you've gone Mac you never go back it seems! The thought of some other OS or device contaminating your beautiful array of synchronised and matching shiny things is horrific! The battery life is really good, the most pleasant surprise of the iPad, after being disappointed by this feature in the iPhone which needs to be charged roughly every 20 minutes. I consider myself an 'average to heavy' user of the iPad, in that its in active use for at least a few hours each day, on and off, and the battery takes days and days to run down to 20% or less. It charges quickly too, so it really is truly portable and great for on the go, you don't have to stress about finding your next plug! The camera is only ok, but I expect most people only use it for things such as Facetime and for quick snaps rather than as their main camera. Its not the most practical way to take pictures, as big as it is. The sound quality is a pleasant surprise, its easily loud and clear enough without the need for extra headphones and speakers to enjoy film or TV. Some of the best value apps I've downloaded are the on demand TV ones, such as iplayer. Netflix is a joy on this thing, beautiful clear pictures filling the screen, better than my actual TV, and way better than any laptop I've ever owned. It doesn't matter that the screen is smaller, the quality is so good that you completely forget that after a few minutes. Of course, its much better as a personal media player, it is possible to watch things with someone else, but its not as easy or as effective. An iPad is not really a social tool at all! 16GB of storage isn't amazing, but I think we're moving away from having a lot of data on portable devices now. With streaming, and cloud services, who actually needs a load of music and video actually saved on there? As long as you've got a computer with access to a good amount of storage at home, you don't need to carry it around anymore. I would recommend getting a case for your iPad, as soon as you can, preferably in the same purchase. The back seems prone to getting nasty scratches much as the old iPods were, so I'm not taking any chances and mine is never out of its case. The screen does get a bit smeary from fingerprints, but you can only really see them when the screen is off and black, I think this is just a necessary evil with touchscreen devices, sadly. I can heartily recommend the iPad 2 to anybody who wants a great tablet but isn't up for paying the price of an iPad Air. I would particularly recommend it to students, or parents of students who are looking to get their offspring a useful gift. Most universities these days use a lot of online tools and applications, and the iPad is well suited to making the most of lectures and seminars.
This review relates to the Papa Johns store in Manchester City Centre. I've ordered from this store twice now. After one slightly annoying experience last year I decided to give them another chance this weekend. I won't be bothering a third time! The problems haven't been huge, but the whole point of ordering food for delivery is that its simple and convenient, when it causes you inconvenience its not really worth paying for! The first time, the pizza was fine but the ice cream I'd ordered was the wrong flavour, and was a flavour I don't like at all. A call to the store led to the promise that a driver would being out a replacement in the right flavour, but after two hours and another phone call that went unanswered, I gave up and went to bed. My e-mailed complaint never got a reply either but I did eventually get rid of the horrible chocolate ice cream! Despite the annoyance, the pizza was tasty, so I decided to give them another go. This weekend I ordered Pizzas with drink and dipping sauces. The pizza arrived, no drinks or sauces. The delivery driver rang the store and got permission to refund me with the change he was carrying, as I didn't want the same issue as last time! So..yes, the pizza is nicer than Dominos. It tastes more like a real Italian pizza, lovely thin crusts, the tomato sauce is flavoursome, there's a great choice of toppings. However, I just can't give them a positive review as the service just isn't there, and I won't be ordering from them again.
I bought these straighteners on special offer from Boots, as I recognised the John Frieda name and mostly because I liked the non-tangling power cord that spins round at the base of the straightener so you don''t end up with 3 feet of tangled curling wires getting in your way while you're trying to sort your hair out! This straightener is pretty straightforward, but it does a good job of doing what it supposed to do. It has a digital display that tells you the temperature of the plates, and you can adjust this to suit your own particular hair type. The default is 185 degrees and for my hair I tend to leave it at that, maybe going up to 195 if its misbehaving. When I was straightening a friend's much thicker and wavier hair I turned the heat up a lot to well over 200 and it made a real difference. There was no smell of burning either which is always a bonus! The straightener is quite big and chunky compared to some of the slimmer sleeker ones you can get nowadays, because of this its not really great for creating curls or waves, it really is just for straightening. It would also probably be a bit of a pain on very short hair too. The design is quite nice, a sophisticated looking silver colour with a subtle strip of colour acting as the buttons. The only problem with the design is that its really easy to accidentally press the 'on/off' button while you're straightening and not realise. This straightener comes with a little mat (that I've never used) and a free bottle of a John Frieda Frizz Ease product. I gave that to a friend with curly hair so I can't comment on it myself, but she was pleased with it, if that helps! Overall, this is a decent enough straightener but its no GHD. I'd say its probably only worth getting if its at a bargain price in the sale.
Please forgive me if this review reads like the incoherent ramblings of a person on speed, because I've just had a mug of Taylor's Lava Java and I'm completely wired on caffeine! This is a high caffeine, ultra strong ground coffee for use with coffee machines and cafetieres. Its just one option from the Taylor's range, but its the strongest and the highest caffeine content, hence the name! You can tell that this is really strong stuff long before your first sip of it. As well as the dramatically designed bag (its changed since the Dooyoo image above, but is still pretty hardcore, mainly black with bright red 'lava' and flames') you can actually smell this coffee really strongly through the bag! If you put it in a cupboard, within a few days you'll get a whiff of coffee every time you open the cupboard door! As for the taste, well its strong of course, but you can still vary the exact strength by using less or more in your coffee maker/cafetiere. Its not a particularly rich or 'sophisticated' tasting coffee, more one that hits you between the eyes, its plain and 'upfront' as it were. There are other coffees in Taylor's range that are smoother and richer tasting if you prefer, this is more like a drug than a drink! Where this coffee beats the rest is in its caffeine content. Its absolutely brilliant for early morning starts, or if you need to stay up late, or if you're working on something that needs your concentration and you're drifting, then a cup of this will wake you right up and give you an energy boost. I take a flask of it with me when I work night shifts and its a lifesaver! Also, if you're a caffeine addict like me then this is almost like a drug, if you've gone too long without a brew and you're starting to feel withdrawal symptoms or if you've got a bit of a headache coming on, then this sorts you right out within about 5 minutes. Its not a luxury coffee, but it gives you a good 'jolt' when you need it!
I recently visited Docker Park Farm while on holiday with my niece and nephew, aged 2 and 3. Docker Park Farm was a great day out for children of this age with plenty for them to see and do, I would definitely recommend it to anybody holidaying with young children in the south lakes/north Lancs area. Docker Park Farm has recently changed hands and the new owners are clearly working really hard to create and run the place to an excellent standard. The animals are all well cared for, have plenty of room and are in beautiful condition. The play areas are clean and safe, with a variety of activities for children of different ages, and the young staff are really friendly and enthusiastic about the animals. The whole place has a really nice welcoming and peaceful feel to it. A lot of the space is naturally dedicated to the farm animals. There are goats, donkeys, alpacas, sheep, cows, pigs, geese and chickens. All looking healthy and happy and all very good natured, trotting over to be fed and calmly letting the children stroke them. The donkeys were giving occasional rides to younger children, but when they weren't they had a huge paddock. There are several barns with smaller animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs and chinchillas and the staff run a 'petting' session every couple of hours where children can meet the small animals up close, my nephew particularly loved having a cute and very tame and placed rabbit sat on his lap. This farm has an attraction most don't, a collection of owls and parrots housed in spacious aviaries. There are also several terrapins and a bearded dragon housed in the reception/shop bit of the park. The staff are genuinely enthusiastic about the animals and are happy to tell you all about them and to let children say hello. As well as the animals, there are several play areas. There's an outdoor 'adventure playground' area with a climbing wall, some wooden frames, and a couple of tyre swings. It seemed new and safe and was popular with slightly older children. There's a covered soft play area and bouncy castle in an old barn, and another covered area filled with a great variety of toddler toys, enough to keep them entertained for hours. These indoor areas were popular when it briefly rained during out visit. Its always good to have an area where you can shelter for a bit and there's still something to do! The final play area is a 'track' for ride on toys such as tractors, mini go karts and so on, a lot of boys seemed to gravitate to this, and it was definitely popular! Docker Park Farm also has a cafe, we didn't eat there but did have a lovely fresh coffee, and it looked roomy and comfortable. There are a few picnic benches for people who've brought their own food, and a room fitted out for children's parties. There's a little souvenir shop in the reception area, but its only for tokens and small toys really, not a huge selection. The only criticism I can think of is that there isn't a great deal of parking available, and the farm is on a country road with limited options if the car park is full. A few cars can fit on the grass verges near the entrance, but I can imagine that on a very busy hot summer day you could find yourself unable to park and having to turn away if you didn't get there early enough, which would be a real shame.
Ok, so I'm feeling a bit Bashful about how cheesy that title is, so my apologies before the review proper! I am fortunate that I'm not a hay fever sufferer, however I am allergic to cats, a couple of vegetables, and occasionally I'll have an allergic reaction and have absolutely no idea what triggered it, so I'm a connoisseur of antihistamines! Piriton is a classic, its the one we always had in the house when I was a child. We used to have it in liquid form which is still available but as an adult I prefer tablets as I find bottles of liquid medicine can get really sticky and horrible when left in a cupboard in between uses. The tablets come in a pretty standard blister pack with the usual leaflet inside for dosage and safety information. The active ingredient in both the liquid and the tablets is chlorphenamine maleate, the pack does warn you that this product can cause drowsiness and that you shouldn't drive etc. after taking it, however it doesn't really get across just how extreme the sedative effects of this drug can be! Within about 15 minutes of taking Piriton, I find myself completely unable to stay awake, my eyelids are heavy, my neck feels like it can't support the weight of my head, I stop being able to concentrate on what I'm doing and before I know it I'm waking up two hours later with drool on the arm of my sofa and the TV still on in the background! It does alleviate allergy symptoms, I can't deny that, you can feel the benefit within a few minutes, but the crashingly overpowering drowsiness unfortunately means it isn't really very practical. I couldn't use this if I had to work, or look after children, or get anything at all done really. I understand that not everybody has such an extreme response to Piriton, but I think anybody planning to buy it should be aware that it can happen, and the first time you take it you should make sure you don't have much to do in the next few hours just in case. There are other antihistamines available now such as cetirizine and loratadine which don't seem to produce the same level of drowsiness as chlorphenamine, but they don't always work for everybody's allergies. Piriton seems to be the heavy duty, nuclear option.
...and there's only one Rennie in the building! Does anybody else remember that line from Vic and Bob in the classic Shooting Stars or is it just me who always thinks of that anytime they see a pack of Rennie? Just me? Ok then, on with the review! Rennie are the classic antacid tablet, containing calcium and magnesium to neutralise the stomach acid that causes pain in heartburn and indigestion when it escapes the stomach and creeps up into your oesophagus where it doesn't belong! Everybody is familiar with the name, so of course you pay a little extra for that brand recognition than you would if you bought a generic version of this medicine. A pack of 24 Peppermint Rennie is currently £1.32 at Tesco though, so still doesn't break the bank, and some people do feel reassured by using a familiar brand. I ended up buying these as they were the only option at a convenience store, so its good that they aren't too overpriced as sometimes they're the only brand stocked. Rennie are medium sized square chalky tablets that can be sucked or chewed, depending on your preference. While a lot of chalky tablets taste horrible and have an unpleasant texture, Rennie's peppermint flavouring means they're actually quite pleasant. They're definitely not like mints that you buy just for the taste though, they're still recognisably medicinal! I think Rennie are probably intended for people who only have occasional indigestion, after a big or gready meal, or on Christmas Day for example. If you have an ongoing problem or very severe heartburn or indigestion, its probably worth paying a visit to the doc just to check things over. As a short term fix for a rare problem though, these are great. You take two tablets at once, as and when you need them, as long as you don't take more than 16 tablets in a day (for adults, the limit is 8 for children over 6 years and they aren't suitable at all for children under 6). The relief from Rennie isn't necessarily instant, as indigestion isn't a consistent sort of pain like a headache, but within about 10 minutes of taking them you suddenly realise that you're not in as much discomfort anymore. I've never had to take more than 2 to start feeling better. The Rennie packaging is bold and attractive, in a nice bright red that makes them easy to spot in an overcrowded medicine cabinet or on a busy, full shelf in a chemist or supermarket. The tablets themselves are in blister packs, and there is, as with every medicine, a little leaflet in the pack with more detailed information about the medicine. So, Rennie is a handy little product for when 'windypops' strikes, not bad value for money despite being a branded product and reliably effective so that its worth having a small pack in your handbag or medicine cabinet just in case.
I've been a Star Trek fan pretty much as long as I can remember, for this I blame my dad who essentially brainwashed me, and I think still views my nerdiness as his greatest parenting success! The new Trek Films by JJ Abrams have been wildly successful, and have brought new fans to the franchise, but they are occasionally a bit troubling for us lifers! Nothing is perfect though, there is no way one film can please everybody and when it comes down to it, slightly troubling Trek is always better than no Trek! So I took the approach that I would sit back, enjoy the ride and not get my proverbials in a twist over small details and flaws. Into Darkness is a sequel to 2009's reboot 'Star Trek'. The characters from the original series in the sixties are recast, now existing in an alternate timeline where anything could happen and the rules of old don't need to be stuck to but where things may be familiar at times. This is of course very useful for writers of a reboot, as they can 'hook' newer viewers with up to date ideas and effects while keeping the die hards happy with nods to the old timeline and familiar themes. The film opens with a big showpiece action sequence where Kirk, Spock, Uhura and the rest of the Enterprise crew are trying valiantly to prevent a volcanic eruption on a primitive planet with some interesting red plants and some slightly scary tribal residents. Kirk being Kirk breaks a few rules to save Spock's life, and finds himself in the naughty corner at Star Trek HQ, it looks like he might lose command of the Enterprise! Of course, the film wouldn't really work if that happened, so along comes baddie John Harrison, who commits a couple of atrocities which ensures Kirk and co. are given their ship back to go and hunt him down. They've even been given some slightly dodgy sounding photon torpedoes off the record by a Starfleet higher-up who used to be a baddie in 24, so we know that things might not be all as they seem... That's the premise of the plot in a nutshell, I won't give much more away, there are a few twists and turns but really the plot isn't the main appeal of the film. Its not ground breaking, its not life changing, its not the sensitive and challenging exploration of human nature and society that Star Trek can be when its at its best. Its pretty standard action movie writing, which isn't to say its not entertaining, but you won't be puzzling over the intricacies for days afterwards, let's put it that way! The (many) action sequences are as well executed as they were in the 2009 film. One way in which this version has got other Star Treks beat is definitely in the visual effects department! Only the tribble looks a bit fake (yes, there's a tribble, only one though sadly!). The film doesn't rely solely on CGI though, although there's a lot of it the actors do have to earn their crust too, and a lot of the action relies on their physicality, particularly Benedict Cumberbatch and Zachary Quinto. I would have like to see John Cho as Sulu get his snazzy sword out again though, I felt he was completely underused in this film which is a real shame as he's very watchable and adds a bit of an alternative male energy to the Kirk/Spock dynamic. The acting is competent for the most part, Zachary Quinto and Zoe Saldana stand out as ever among the Enterprise crew, but really, the star of this film is new baddie Benedict Cumberbatch. The man definitely has presence! His resonant voice and crisp accent remind me a bit of a young Alan Rickman, and he manages to alternate between enigmatic, somewhat sympathetic and utterly malevolent and terrifying with ease! His height and rigid posture all add to the effect. He leaves most of the other actors trailing in his wake, it has to be said, and completely steals the film. I won't give away the ending, but any Star Trek fan will tell you that a good baddie is never gone forever (Borg Queen, anyone?) so I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Mr Cumberbatch featuring in future outings of this franchise. I watched this film in IMAX 3D, and I thought a I was watching it that the quality wasn't as good as other recent 3D films such as Iron Man 3, so I wasn't surprised to learn that it had originally been shot in IMAX format and the 3D was added in post production, which never seems to get brilliant results. I wouldn't bother with the 3D for that reason, but if you get the chance it is worth watching in IMAX for the action sequences and the showpiece shots of the Enterprise in flight. All in all, this is an enjoyable enough action film set in space, its not a masterpiece, but it has a lot going for it and I'll happily rewatch it a few times on DVD while I wait for the next installment! No, it won't satisfy every Trekkie out there, but let's face it we're not an easy bunch to satisfy and any Trek film that had something in it for every fan would be completely unwatchable! Star Trek was dying a death by the end of the final TV series 'Enterprise' and it needed to attract a new audience to survive at all. This film represents a necessary compromise, and let's be honest, that soaring theme music that kicks in energetically over the end credits is worth the ticket price all on its own!
I'm not a regular wearer of false nails, they aren't allowed at my job so I never get my nails done professionally. When I have a special occasion where my short, ratty looking nails won't really do, I tend to use these Broadway falsies. These 'Fast French' nails mimc a french manicure and are very understated and natural looking, you can leave them as they are or paint them to vary them a bit, I tend to leave them as they are. They come in several sizes, I use medium as I think slightly longer nails are a bit more 'dressy' but you can get them even in extra short for everyday wear. The nails come in several sizes, with 24 individual nails so you can easily match the right size to your own nail to ensure they look natural and feel comfortable. The smaller sizes have little 'tabs' on the top so that you can apply the nail more easily, these just snap off and then you need to file them down a little bit to hide the join. A tube of glue is included, which contains more than enough to apply 10 nails securely, and a little stick thing to push your cuticles back too, which is handy and again helps the nails in appearing natural. The glue dries quickly, I only held each nail on for a few seconds after attaching them, so it doesn't take long at all to get a full set and be ready to go, but I'm afraid I can't comment on how long the nails last as I usually have to take them off within a few days to go to work. They are easily removed with a bit of acetone, which you can also get from Boots/Superdrug etc. and don't leave any residue on your own nails afterwards. At around £5 or £6 these are pretty good value when you consider the cost of a professionally done French manicure, and you'd have to get pretty close to see the finer details and appreciate the difference.
I'm having real trouble with flies this summer, every time I open the window about 20 seem to come in and start zooming around my kitchen and living room. I think this must be quite widespread because when I went in Wilkinson's yesterday to buy fly killing spray they'd completely sold out! I ended up buying these Rentokil fly killing strips instead, and wow, its been an exciting 24 hours! These strips look like old fashioned rolls of camera film at first, there are 3 in a pack and they come with three drawing pins to hang them up. When you pull the tab, they open to about three feet of sticky ribbon decorated with bright colours and pictures of flowers and insects. You use the drawing pin to hang them by a cardboard tab at the top and let them hang, with the empty plastic cartridge at the bottom weighing them down and stopping them wafting about in the breeze. The ribbons are sticky on both sides, so be careful where you hang them, you don't want this nasty stuff getting on your walls or furniture! They are odourless though, and don't contain any insecticide so a safe and non-chemical way to get rid of those horrible flying nasties. The idea is that the flies are attracted by the design on the paper, and when they land they are stuck fast and die on there. It seems a bit cruel when you put it like that, but flies are unpleasant creatures that can carry all sorts of diseases and contaminate food etc. so I don't feel too guilty! The flies started sticking almost immediately, within about half an hour I had about half the flies in my flat stuck to these strips, even some of the bigger ones that I had thought might be able to escape. I left them up all day and overnight and I've got loads on there now! They seem to be attracted more to the orange strip with the pictures of sunflowers, so I suggest hanging that one where you get the most congregating. I used all three at once as I was at the end of my tether with how many flies were coming in, but will probably use one at a time from now on now that the initial blitz is out of the way. I'm really glad I've found these, as I never really liked spraying chemicals in the flat due to my two little dogs, and my own asthma. I'm not even going to bother buying the fly spray now, I'm just going to order more of these online! The only slight problem I can foresee is that disposing of them when they are covered in dead flies is not going to be a particularly pleasant task. However, I plan to stand on a chair, and let them drop straight into a bin bag as soon as I take the drawing pin out, they are so stick I don't expect any of the flies to have a miraculous recovery and come after me in revenge! I suppose they don't really look that great if you have visitors coming round either, a sticky tape of dead flies hanging from the ceiling is never going to catch on as a design feature!
This pedestal fan costs £21.99 from Swedish homeware/DIY shop Clas Ohlson, available in their stores or on the website. Its an adjustable height between 107 and 127 cm and the 'face' of the fan is 40cm across, so its substantial without being absolutely huge and raking up loads of space in your house. The fan is self assembly, but its really easy to put together, I did it in about 5 minutes. There are instructions in the pack but really you could probably manage without them. Despite being so quick and easy to put together, the fan feels sturdy enough once its assembled, I've been moving it from room to room fairly frequently and its neither so heavy that this is a pain, nor so flimsy that I'm worried it'll get damaged from being moved a lot. The fan has 3 speed settings, and an optional 'oscillating' function like most fans, so there are quite a few options to get the exact level of cooling you're after! As well as the height of the 'pole' being adjustable, the 'head' of the fan is also adjustable so you can aim it up or down, I've found this very useful for staying cool in bed at night as I have a low to the ground bed and its easier to do this quickly than to try and adjust the height to just the right level by trial and error! The power cable is reasonably long, it says 4.5 metres on the website, but it doesn't feel quite that long to me. Its definitely adequate for most rooms though, and because its got such a big 'face' and the three different power settings, you can feel the effects of this fan from very far away, so you can stand it up in a corner and still get the benefit even if you don't have a lot of plugs to choose from. This fan is admittedly not a design classic. Its pretty standard and boring, white plastic for the most part with some metal bits, but if you're looking for something that will compliment your decor, this might not be the one for you! Its pretty basic and functional rather than pretty. The packaging is quite big and heavy, I bought this from the shop and carried it home, but if I was doing it again I'd probably order online because it was a bit of a pain and quite painful on the old fingers for the duration of the ten minutes walk. The packaging isn't excessive, but its a fairly large fan so it couldn't realistically pack any smaller, I suppose!
I recently stayed at the Red Hall Hotel in Bury to attend a wedding. The first thing to say about it is that's its very convenient location wise if you're driving, as its mere minutes from a motorway junction and very easy to find. Its a bit out in the sticks though and I didn't see any buses go past so it might not be the best if you aren't a driver! The building is quite modern, but constructed very tastefully from the sort of stone used for a lot of the older buildings locally. Its got a cottage feel to it but is actually a lot bigger than it looks when you first arrive. The setting is lovely, surrounded by fields with a gorgeous view over a rural landscape and surprisingly little traffic noise from the road outside. One thing that seemed a shame was that there wasn't more outside space to make the most of this pleasant environment. There's a smoking shelter near the front of the building, and a little courtyard area with a few chairs and tables at the back, but most of the land is taken up by a huge car park. If this hotel had some nicely landscaped 'grounds' it would really be a boost. The function room where the wedding was held was a slightly odd 'L' shape, but it wasn't a problem as everybody could see the top table and it was well laid out. The place was impeccably decorated, and very clean and well presented. For the evening reception, a dance floor was put down and the tables re-arranged but there was still plenty of space and the room never felt crowded. There were two separate bars, one a public one for all the guests, one private for people staying at the hotel. Both were well staffed, had plenty of seating and were clean and tidy. The staff were all very helpful and polite, and there were enough people working that every went very smoothly, no complaints there at all. The hotel rooms were lovely, spacious with big comfy beds made with lovely crisp linen, all the usual tea and coffee making gear, plenty of hanging space for clothes, a TV and a good sized dressing table. I was pleasantly surprised as the rooms were a very reasonable price, and not much more expensive than a Premier Inn type chain hotel. We did receive a discount as we were attending the wedding, so I'd recommend looking at the website or ringing for the most up to date prices and offers. The bathroom in particular was really nice, attractively decorated, and a shower that actually provided a decent water pressure, bliss! Breakfast was served in the restaurant area of the hotel, which was bright and spacious and overlooked the fields at the back of the hotel. A buffet was available for cereal/croissants etc and a table service for cooked breakfasts, tea, coffee and toast. I can't fault it at all, the coffee was tasty and fresh, the staff were polite and helpful and the people I was eating with enjoyed their full cooked breakfasts (I didn't have one, I'm a toast and coffee girl!) My only slight complaint about the hotel is the checkout process. As most people were leaving at the same time had to queue for ages behind people paying bar/room service bills and the process was quite lengthy. I'm used to just dropping the keys in a box these days, having paid either online or on arrival. I'd say that this process needs to be looked at and streamlined a bit but its not the worst thing in the world. I'd recommend checking out a bit early though to beat the 11am queue! All in all, a good time had at the wedding and a good night's sleep in a comfortable and good value hotel. If I ever needed to stay overnight in Bury/Ramsbottom again I'd definitely consider it.
Magicool is a miraculous, wondrous invention. Its a lifesaver in hot weather, and is especially useful for those of us who aren't particularly well suited to hot weather and really struggle to stay cool. I can't claim to know how magicool works, I can only assume it is actually by magic (hence the name) but its basically an aerosol spray that somehow contains cool fresh air/moisture and stays cool forever, even when its kept at the bottom of a stuffy warm handbag or in a car that's parked out in the sun. You give the can a shake, spray it at arm's length onto your face or body and you get a fine mist of gloriously cool droplets. I don't know what the liquid actually is, it doesn't get you wet and dries really quickly so it doesn't affect your sun cream application or your makeup if you're wearing any. The effect of magicool isn't long lasting, admittedly. You get a lovely quick burst of cool refreshment that gives you a break from the heat for just a few minutes and feels great, but its only very temporary. Magicool isn't cheap, at over £4 for a can from most shops, so I don't really like to spray it too liberally and if there are other ways to cool down available such as cold drinks/shade/swimming pool etc. then I will use those first. Magicool is a backup, a standby for when all else fails and you're just too hot! It comes in two sizes of can, one is a handy pocket sized one that's really handy for keeping in a smaller handbag such as the kind you might carry to a summer wedding. The bigger sized can is more like the size of a standard aerosol deodorant, you could carry it in a bigger handbag, or a beachbag, or just keep it in your bathroom cupboard ready for a hot day. There are also several varieties of magicool now as well as the original, such as anti-insect and sunburn relief. I haven't tried any of the 'special' versions, but if they still keep you cool they're probably worth a go.