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I have to say that my most often used form of pain relief medication is paracetamol. But even so there are some types of pain that I think are best treated with ibuprofen.
However, my husband prefers not to take Nurofen as he says it brings on his asthma condition.
I find that if I am suffering from a severe toothache or indeed any kind of nerve pain then I seem to usually get better results with ibuprofen or Nurofen. Nurofen is a trademark of ibuprofen.
I can say in all honestly that I find that the cheaper ibuprofen caplets work just as well as the more expensive and branded Nurofen caplets. I will use both, depending on availability at the time and also on any special offers to be found.
I find tablets can be very difficult to swallow so I will always choose to buy caplets or capsules over tablets. In the case of Nurofen tablets, these are extremely easy to swallow and are, for me, much better to take than paracetamol caplets in terms of ease of taking. They are smoother because of their oval shape and especially their coating.
Nurofen caplets are intended to be used to help to ease fever and pain such as:
Headache and migraine
Cold and influenza
Nurofen caplets are available from pharmacies and supermarkets without needing a doctor’s prescription.
They are suitable for vegetarians and are both gluten and lactose free.
My pack of Nurofen contains sixteen caplets, each of 200mg strength of ibuprofen. Nurofen caplets can also be purchased in different sized packs.
Boots £1.99 for 16 caplets
Lloyds Pharmacy £2.15 for 16 caplets
Paracetamol is a very useful form of analgesic pain relief medication that I think works well for most people suffering with mild to moderate pain. It is gentle on the stomach and probably one of the safer medications to take, although those with liver problems, alcohol dependency or kidney problems should use with greater caution.
Paracetamol is my usual choice of pain relief. I will take paracetamol if I have a headache, sore throat, mild toothache, general aches and pains or a cold; especially a cold with a raised temperature.
This medication is also effective for muscular and neuralgia pains and influenza.
Paracetamol can help with period pain but for severe cramps I think a stronger medication is sometimes more effective.
However, I do find tablets difficult to swallow so, whenever possible, I will take caplets or capsules rather than tablets.
The Asda supermarket chain sell their own brand of paracetamol caplets. I find these to be effective and very reasonably priced. I think they are just as good as the much more expensive and well-known brands of caplets.
When needed I will take two caplets but not more frequently than every four hours. I take the caplets by swallowing them with water. I find them much easier to swallow in caplet form than tablets, although capsules are even easier, for me.
These caplets are suitable for adults and for children over twelve years old. For younger children I would suggest another form of paracetamol with a lower dose.
The Asda Paracetamol caplets that I buy are sold in small cartons which contain sixteen caplets. Theses caplets are 500mg in strength (each) and they come in trays of blister packs.
These Asda paracetamol caplets currently sell at £0.19 per pack of sixteen. I think this is a great price for a reliable and effective form of pain relief.
I usually keep a small blister panel of these caplets in my handbag when I go out, just in case.
Joey the dog sometimes needs to be distracted. He doesn't like fireworks and hates thunderstorms. In fact, as he’s grown older he will mark places when the sky darkens and things seem ominous.
Because of this I try various things to take his mind off frightening sounds and sights.
Mainly I supply a Jumbone to Joey and this did work for a while but he does tend to make a mess with these, and he was starting to get through rather a lot of them. Initially when Joey was given Jumbones during stressful times he would walk about carrying it and it did distract him well but recently he began to eat them too quickly. This meant they didn’t really take his mind of whatever was scaring him for long.
When I was looking for an alternative to Jumbones, I noticed Nylabones in several pet stores and wondered if these would help Joey.
Nylabone Dura chew are flavoured tough nylon shaped bones. They should keep a dog occupied and deter chewing furniture or slippers.
I think that Joey likes his Nylabone although it’s hard to say really because he doesn't do much chewing on it. He guards the bone and can be seen prowling about carrying it in his mouth, looking for somewhere to hide it.
His favourite places seem to be in a corner of the living room or on my slipper.
When I am sitting on the armchair, after dinner, enjoying a cup of tea, Joey will keep walking past me, Nylabone in mouth, and he will knock me with the bone while it’s in his mouth, as if challenging me. He will keep doing this and when I ignore him he will jump at me and tap me with a paw, showing me the Nylabone but not parting with it.
Occasionally he will let my husband throw the bone and return it for a few times until he turns his back and chews the Nylabone for a few minutes before trying to hide it again.
I would say that the Nylabone works fairly well in distracting Joey. I don’t feel it would work in bad storms but if he is just playing up a bit then pointing to the Nylabone does distract.
When he was first given the Nylabone he seemed to like it and chewed it for a little while; he must have liked the flavour.
If he was a dog who chewed furniture, I don’t think the Nylabone would stop this as he doesn’t chew it much.
Really, for Joey, the Nylabone, is a toy that works in distracting him and not much more.
I can’t remember where I bought Joey’s Nylabone but it would probably have been The Range or Pets at Home.
Nylabones come in different flavours and sizes. Prices vary according to size and store. I think I paid around £4 to £5.
Since Joey came to live with us over thirteen years ago we have accumulated several bowls for his food and water. Some have been thrown away as we have replaced them but others have lasted well.
I find that the stainless steel pet bowls are generally the best in terms of longevity.
Joey has four or five of this type of stainless steel bowls (I keep three out, two for water and one for food) which are in different sizes. Two of these bowls are non-slip.
Joey doesn't move his food bowls around too much unless he is particularly hungry but non-slip bowls do work quite well and are a good idea. Some dogs do tend to move a bowl around the room at a good pace!
I use a large bowl (not non-slip) and one medium bowl for Joey’s water; I always keep two stainless steel bowls filled with water for my westie. My dog is fed with complete dry food and dry food means a dog will drink more water. Because of this it’s handy to have a large bowl which has the capacity to hold a large amount of water.
In my opinion you really can’t go far wrong with a stainless steel bowl for your canine friend. I think that even the more cheaper bowls made of this material usually last for a very long time.
And not only do they last well but they are hygienic, being very easy to clean. These bowls are dishwasher safe. I prefer to wash Joey’s bowls by hand and find they are simple to clean and disinfect. If the bowl has becoming quite mucky then I soak it for a while in warm soapy water and then a rinse will remove any remaining dog food. Mind you Joey is a great help in cleaning bowls as he usually licks them clean!
Stainless steel feeding/water bowls are lightweight which means that they are ideal to take with you if you are travelling with your pooch.
In my opinion the Pets at Home stainless steel dog bowl looks good and is a very practical accessory for your pooch.
Johnsons Tea Tree shampoo is a shampoo that I have used several times when bathing my West Highland white terrier, Joey.
West Highland white terriers are actually a breed of dog that have the tendency to develop skin irritations. Joey is typical of this breed and really this is why I first tried this product.
It isn't the only shampoo that I use on my pet but one that I buy, and use, fairly frequently.
Joey has the habit of licking his paws and then they start to itch and irritate; he will chew madly at his paws. When he does this too much I know it’s time for a bath with a medicated shampoo. Johnsons Tea Tree Shampoo isn't too strong but has calming properties.
I think this is a good shampoo which is nice to apply to his coat. It lathers quite well and cleans well enough. However, although it is good I don’t think it lathers quite as well as Johnsons White ‘n’ Bright shampoo. But then a soapy shampoo doesn't necessarily means it is a better product.
As Joey tends to get rather dirty and, being a white dog this does show, he usually has to have two shampoos.
When using this shampoo I tend to rub it well into Joey’s coat and I pay particular attention to his paws as these are the areas where he tends to mostly get badly irritated skin.
A good final rinse means that the shampoo runs off and the water runs clear.
In my opinion this shampoo doesn't work miracles with irritated skin but it does help. Joey’s skin does seem to be soothed for a while after being washed with this product.
Johnsons Tea Tree Shampoo is suitable for both dogs and cats. It contains the essential oil of tea tree which has antiseptic properties, as well as Aloe Vera which is useful to soothe skin irritations.
Johnsons Tea Tree Shampoo is available from on-line pet suppliers and from stores on the high street.
It is reasonably priced and so you can expect to pay around £2 to £3 or shop around and you will probably be able to find it even cheaper.
My dog is a West Highland white terrier, called Joey. He isn't always the best turned out pet. Well, he IS a terrier and terriers like to dig in the dirt and the mud.
He doesn't like bath time but sometimes ablutions just cannot be avoided any longer.
I am not particularly loyal to any brand or type of dog shampoo, although there are some that I prefer to others. I have used this one several times.
As Joey is thirteen years old, by now I have tried many different shampoos on his coat. One of these is Johnsons White ‘n’ Bright Shampoo.
This shampoo is specially made for white coated dogs such as west Highland white terriers, Bichon Frises, white poodles as well as light coloured coated dogs. The label shows a cat so I assume that it is good for white cats too.
Joey’s coat starts out white when he is clean but as the weeks go by after his bath his fur gradually dulls and becomes quite dirty.
I don’t always use a special white shampoo on Joey. If he seems to be scratching a lot I will then go for something medicated or perhaps a tea tree shampoo. However, when Joey doesn't seem to be too bothered by itching (Westies do tend to suffer with itchy skin) then I will use this shampoo.
I usually make sure that Joey has two shampoo washes and I rinse him down well after each but take particular care with the final rinse. This shampoo lathers well and does feel quite creamy. As Joey is shampooed the water is quite dirty. With the second shampoo the worst of the dirt is removed.
Once Joey has been shampooed and rinsed he is very pleased to get out of the bath. A rough towel dry and then he will do the usual doggy shake and roll dance.
When Joey’s fur is dry and groomed he looks like a large snowflake. I would say that Johnson’s White ‘n’ Bright Shampoo does a good job of cleaning my dog and does both brighten and whiten his coat. I wouldn't say that he stays white for a prolonged period of time but there is, in my opinion, a difference in the whiteness of his coat when using this dog shampoo than with other non-whitening types of shampoos.
This shampoo is readily available. I buy pet products from a wide range of shops, as I look for bargains. Prices vary but I think I usually pay around £3.00 for 200ml.
This was my first venture into the world of Yankee tarts when I was given this wax melt as a gift. Unfortunately, I didn't have a burner then so I had to wait to use it. When I had the burner I did use it and I was pleasantly surprised. I then 'got' the whole scented candle thing.
I did like it enough to purchase more of this particular tart.
Now that I have used many Yankee candles and tarts, I believe that I can judge this one much better.
It is one of the more subtle scents, in my opinion, from Yankee candles. I find that the aroma is a 'pretty' and delicate one and really did made the downstairs rooms of my home smell nice. It wasn't strong enough to pervade its scent over the while house. However, it was a treat.
Now, I tend to buy two or more of a particular scent and burn them in different rooms of the house.
I last used Pink Sands a few weeks ago. On the last occasion I broke one melt and burned one half in the downstairs hallway and the other half in my living room. I find this works well especially with the lighter scents.
Pink Sands is a summery fragrance. To me it is very slightly fruity in aroma and just lightly spicy. In my opinion it is more on the floral side, although the floral perfume is mixed with vanilla. I wouldn't say any scent overpowers.
I suppose, judging by the name of "Pink Sands" it is supposed to be reminiscent of far away beautiful beaches. Well, I cannot say that I was exactly transported outside of my own home but I will say that it did manage to make my home smell nice.
I would say to any would be buyers that I don't find the aroma lingers for long. I sometimes burn the two halves with an hour or so time gap and then the smell does linger for longer.
WHY CHOOSE ZAKYNTHOS FOR A HOLIDAY?
I spent my summer holiday this year on the lovely island of Zakynthos. It was my first visit to this island, although I have been to several other Greek islands, and have holidayed on the Greek mainland.
We looked at Greece and her islands and decided on Zante. It proved to be a good choice as we spent two glorious weeks here enjoying the sunshine and soaking up the lovely atmosphere. Yes, it was hot but not so hot that we weren't able to get out and about. The climate was just right for our summer holiday.
One thing that did make us a little dubious about a holiday on Zakynthos was its reputation for clubbing. My husband and I are in our fifties and certainly weren't looking for somewhere that was a destination hot spot for young eager party animals. However, I do think that most of holiday resorts that are known for their clubbing facilities also have many lovely and quieter spots ideal for both couples and families. But I felt, after some research, that the hotel we had chosen was on the outskirts of the resort of Laganas so would be in a good location for us.
We chose to stay in The Louis Zante Beach Hotel. This hotel is ideal for family and couples. We had a lovely relaxing holiday and I can be honest with you and say that we didn't spend any time at all in clubs!
A FEW FACTS ABOUT ZANTE
As we went out and about in Zakynthos we found that the island has an interesting history.
"According to the poet Homer, the name of Zakynthos was derived from the first inhabitant of Zante Island - who was named Zakynthos. He was the son of King Dardanos of Troy, who arrived on the island around 1500-1600 BC
According to other historical sources, the name of Zakynthos island is derived from the words Za and Cynthos, which means hill. This corresponds to the mountainous landscape of Zakynthos."
The island has had Roman, Byzantine, Venetian , French, Russian-Turkish and British rulers. When Greece became independent from Turkey there was a struggle to join Greece, along with the other Ionian islands.
Zante became part of Greece in 1864.
During the Second World War in 1940, Italy began its invasion on Greece. This attempt was not successful and they were pushed back by the Greek army. Then the Germans and Italians mounted a combined force and managed to occupy Greece in 1941. Now Greece was under Nazi occupation but control was split between Germany, Bulgaria and Italy. Zakynthos was mainly under Italian control.
While we were on holiday in Zante we heard of how the islands Jewish population survived WW11 and the Holocaust. It is said that the order came from the controlling Nazis that the Jews should be handed over ready to be deported. The islanders hid the 275 Jewish inhabitants and fortunately all of these people survived.
Zakynthos was liberated from the German and Italian occupation on September 12th 1944.
In the year of 1953 there were a series of severe earthquakes which caused extensive damage to the island's buildings.
The worst earthquake reached 7.3 on the Richter scale.
While we were on holiday here in August to September 2013 we felt two tremors in one day and it really did feel weird. We heard that there were more tremors on that day but we only definitely noticed two. One happened when we were eating dinner in the hotel's restaurant when we felt the earth move! Lampshades shook and lights flickered and dimmed. My chair felt as if it was being stretched from underneath. The waiters carried on as usual, seemingly oblivious to this phenomenon.
After the 1953 earthquake much renovation had to take place.
Zakynthos (also known as Zante) is one of the Greek Ionian Islands and is the third largest (there are seven main islands) and the most southerly of these islands.
It has an area of approximately 410 km2 and is about 123 km long.
On this island you will see mountains, beaches, vineyards and much greenery.
Our hotel room had a view of the sea, lawn areas, and a sandy beach with islands to be seen out at sea and mountains framing the beach.
Indeed, we were spoilt for scenic views.
The Ionian Islands get more rainfall than other Greek islands. The rain mainly falls in winter but this does mean that the island looks fairly verdant and pretty even in its dry summer.
The weather at the end of August and into September was hot but not too humid. We found that we were able to walk around more than we can in Cyprus at a similar time of year.
The weather reached the low thirties while we were here with a few days being a little higher.
We enjoyed blue skies and sunshine throughout our stay.
During the evening we found it warm enough and pleasant to sit outside. We swam in the sea often and found stepping into the water was wonderful as it was beautifully warm.
The climate for Zakynthos is around 14°C during January and February (the coldest months) and temperatures average 32°C in the hottest time of the year (during the months of July and August). We were told by workers and inhabitants of the island that the weather cools down towards the end of September.
There is little rainfall from April through to September. The wettest month is December with an average rainfall of 191 mm (7.5").
The sea temperature in August is around 26°C (79°F).
OUT AND ABOUT
Zakynthos is easy enough to travel around. The bus service is good and it's easy to use the taxi service. Taxi cabs are metered. It is simple to hire a car but we didn't find this necessary.
There are far too many places to visit in zante for me to mention here and so I shall only speak of a few to give you an idea of what to expect.
Navagio Beach or Shipwreck Bay is much visited by tourists and consists of a beautiful sandy cove and crystal clear water edged by high cliffs. The cove can only be reached from the sea. Here one can see the Shipwreck of 1983. I would advise checking with the trip organiser before embarking as some boats will anchor some distance from the beach meaning that good swimming skills are needed to reach the cove.
Marathonisi Island (Turtle Island) is worth visiting, in my opinion. Actually it is lovely for the boat trip out to the island and looking for turtles on the way.
The island is shaped like a turtle and turtles do nest here. Because of the turtles nesting and imminent hatching, on the island, no buildings are permitted. Boats moor here and passengers can alight and swim in the clear sparkling waters. Refreshments can be bought from a boat which circles the small island.
There are no facilities but it is a delight to swim from here.
Zante Town is well worth visiting; well we certainly both enjoyed our day spent here. The town is on the coast and the port, as is usual with all ports, is busy and has many bars and restaurants close by.
The town has shopping facilities, an amphitheatre, museums and a library.
There is a mini tourist train which travels along the sea front and passes by some areas of interest.
I would definitely recommend visiting St Dionysios Church in the town. The church is named for St Dionysios or Dennis who is the patron saint of the island. The church is beautiful inside and holds the golden casket of Saint Dionysios. It is worth a visit.
We stayed in the resort of Laganas. Laganas is close to the resort of Kalamaki and both resorts are pleasant family holiday spots, although the centre of Laganas is a hot spot for young holidaymakers.
The beaches around Laganas and Kalamaki are long and sandy. Here the water is shallow and clear and ideal for children and people like me who aren't the strongest and most confident of swimmers. I found it so easy to walk into the sea here. The sea remains shallow for a long way out.
Motorised water sports aren't allowed around Laganas and Kalamaki as these areas are designated as conservation areas for the loggerhead turtles (Caretta Caretta).
The females return to the place where they themselves hatched to lay their own eggs. One can see areas of the beaches marked out as no go areas where a nest has been spotted. The nests are marked and watched so that when the hatching of the baby turtles is thought to be imminent a run is erected to try to give some shade from the hot sun for the baby turtles and protection as they make their way on a dangerous journey to the sea.
The airport is located at Kalamaki.
Argassi is close to Zante Town. It is one of the larger and busier resorts.
The beach here is of sand and shingle and is narrow. However, unlike Laganas and Kalamaki water sports are available here.
Tsilivi has a great beach which is long and sandy. The sea here is shallow and easily accessible. The area offers many hotels, bars, restaurants and shops. It is a family resort and has facilities aimed at children such as mini golf.
There are many other resorts and some are unspoiled with only a few facilities but offering a tavern or two and an authentic Greek holiday.
We enjoyed eating out in Zakynthos.
Many restaurants offer a great choice in sea food but really there is something for everyone. The island has been influenced by several nations and this is reflected in its varied cuisine. I think it caters for all and I didn't find being a non-meat eater to be a problem.
There are restaurants, bars, snack bars and cafes in resorts spread across the island and these vary greatly in size, menu and type.
We found the prices reasonable when we ate out.
One can choose to try traditional Greek food or international cuisine.
There are some fast food outlets too but as we didn't have any children with us we managed to avoid these.
I didn't actually see much of McDonalds or Pizza Hut but I just knew they were around somewhere.
HOW TO TRAVEL
Many tour operators offer packages to Zante. We used First Choice on an All-inclusive package. We chose our hotel as it was part of the Louis chain. We have stayed at several Louis Hotels and have always found hotels belonging to this group to be of a good standard and excellent in terms of service.
I think as Zante is easy to travel around that holidaying on an all-inclusive basis isn't really necessary. We saw there were lots of villas and small hotels in good locations and at decent prices. I don't think one has to pay too much to enjoy a holiday in Zante. After all, if you travel here in the summer the weather should be good, the beaches are lovely, there are shops around and so a self-catering holiday to suit small or large budgets should be a good option.
Hotels offer choices of board basis.
We had a wonderful and relaxing holiday on this island although we managed to get out and about as well as chilling in our hotel.
We had lovely days swimming in the sea, enjoying boat trips, looking for turtles, lazing by the pool and wining and dining.
Our holiday raced by but we were left happy that we had had such a lovely time on this island.
My husband and I both agreed that we would like to return to the island of Zakynthos.
When I was planning my new kitchen I was definite about a few items that I felt, for me, were must haves. In fact I was more bothered about incorporating some space saving and useful devices than the actual cupboards. Now it's just over a year since my husband fitted our kitchen and I can say that all in all I'm pleased with most units and fitments.
One of these must haves was a unit to house bins that I could use for recycling. I was fed up with a bag of jars and bottles on display in the kitchen until this was emptied into one of the recycling boxes outside.
When we took our ideas to B&Q to make sure that everything fitted before purchasing, the kitchen planner had to make one or two minor adjustments. This meant that the unit we had in mind for recycling bins wouldn't fit. However, he came up with a compromise of a 300mm pull out bin unit. This, together with two different sized bins would fit perfectly into an available space.
The product picture shows two bins of the same size but I have a larger bin going long ways with a smaller bin placed behind this. They are an exact fit. For me this is ideal as I use the larger one for tins, jars and bottles and the smaller bin for folded card and paper.
The unit works well. Its chrome framework holds the bins securely in place and, as the cupboard is pulled open, they pull outwards with the door. The door is pulled open by metal runners and is quite smooth to operate.
The bins both have a pair of handles and are bucket type bins. I use a large carrier bag inside the front larger bin. I can fit a good amount of metal, plastic and glass recycling into this. It doesn't have to have a carrier bag but I find it easier to empty by lifting out the bag from the bin and taking it outside the house to the box. However, it is easy to empty the recycling into the box (on my front driveway by simply tipping it but then it does need a rinse out more often.
Provided items are compressed before going into the recycling bin in the kitchen, then I find that all the cans, bottles and jars from the whole week can be stored inside it. It is deep so holds more than it looks capable of, on first looking.
The smaller bin easily holds enough folded paper and cardboard for a normal week. As our recycling boxes are emptied weekly then this is ideal.
I really appreciate the fact that now, with this unit, and its two bins, my recycling can be stored neatly away. This seems a fresh and hygienic option for recycling to me and helps to keep the kitchen tidier.
This unit is available from B&Q Stores and costs £90. This may seem expensive but I feel that as part of a kitchen re-fit it isn't so bad and I am pleased with this unit. After all, it is two bins, plus a unit with metal fittings.
I have eaten at Café Fino several times. On most occasions a I have found the food to be tasty, well presented and of very good value but on just one occasion I wasn't so pleased. I suppose anyone and anywhere can have an off day and because on the other occasions I was pleased with my food then I will have to rate this place as being good and hope that the not so good time was a one off.
Café Fino has a very extensive menu which offers, in my opinion, something for everyone. I think it would be difficult not to find something to your taste here. I don't eat meat but still don't have much trouble finding something here to enjoy. I would say that the vegetarian choice is quite good.
The café serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and it is open seven days a week. We have eaten here mainly on weekends when we have been shopping (my husband and myself that is) as it is on Romford Market, and thought it would be better to eat out than have to go home and cook. We have eaten here on Sundays although we haven't yet sampled the roast dinner.
The meal that we didn't like was omelettes. My husband ordered a ham and cheese omelette and I ordered a cheese, tomato and onion filling for mine. The omelettes were both on the dry side and really didn't taste at all nice.
However, on all other occasions I really couldn't fault the food at all.
One particular meal that I enjoyed was a vegetable lasagne which was very nice and of a generous portion, too generous for me, in fact.
We have eaten varied meals here; burgers, fish and chips as well as a more snack type meal of toasted sandwiches; these were tasty.
The interior of café Fino is fairly large for a cafe. In hot weather fans are switched on making it feel quite pleasant.
There are many tables and chairs placed around but I find there is a good amount of space between them. More than in some other cafes close by.
From inside you can see the cooking area.
Music plays but not too loudly.
Outside there is a small sectioned off area for al fresco dining. In the summer parasols are provided. The café opens on to the market and so sitting here can be quite noisy and one can hear some colourful language at times.
We always find the service good with our order taken quickly and food comes up fairly quickly too, depending on what you have ordered, as the food is cooked to order.
The toilets are towards the rear of the restaurant. The ladies toilet is adapted for disabled guests.
There are baby changing facilities too.
"O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum,
How lovely are your branches
Not only green when summer's here
But in the coldest time of year.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
How lovely are thy branches!"
I have always preferred to have a real Christmas tree in my home rather than an artificial one. For years my husband and I would always enjoy going out to look at trees and taking care in choosing a real tree. We would look for a good shape and a dark green colour and look out for needle drop. I always felt excited about choosing a tree and once it was set up in the living room I adored the aroma of a real fir Christmas tree.
But in more recent years when we've had a large household plus a sometimes naughty dog we have found that a real tree just wasn't such a sensible option for our home.
The last artificial tree that we owned was about six foot in height and the branches were very widespread. It definitely was a great purchase; it had lasted well but after several years of use and being kept in a damp garage for most of the year, last Christmas hubby said that a new tree would be a good idea.
I had seen some realistic artificial trees on on-line sites but I thought that with those I had seen that I would need a lottery win to purchase one or I just couldn't be sure how realistic they really were by looking on-line.
I much preferred to buy a tree that I had actually seen and touched.
This tree is intended for indoor use only.
WHERE TO PURCHASE
My search for a new artificial tree took and hubby and I to a B&Q superstore.
I had in mind buying a tree that was in the region of 5 to 5 ½ foot in height. While I was looking at trees at around that height my husband called me over to look at a tree on display. I was impressed! We both agreed that this was the most realistic looking artificial tree that we had seen so far. My husband insisted that we should buy it there and then but my concerns were that it was seven foot tall! I reminded him that space was an issue and that really we wanted a smaller tree than the one we had and not a larger one. My husband turned up his nose at the thought of a small tree.
We ended up not purchasing the tree at this time but instead returned home and over the next few days I did a little more research. The result of this research was that I thought that the tree we had seen from B&Q seemed as good as those I had looked at on-line and wasn't any more expensive, in fact cheaper than most for trees of that height. An added and very important advantage was that, of course we had seen the B&Q tree set up in the store.
I still had doubts regarding the size and the wide spread of the lower branches but my husband promised that if it was too thickset for our living room then he would see if some branches could be left off of the tree or he would sort something out to thin out this tree.
But my eldest son really made my decision when he spoke of his dad not often being enthusiastic over purchases for Christmas. He said it was rare for his dad to be eager to buy something expensive and decorative so I should humour him. I thought he had a point here!
I decided to buy the tree by using the reserve and collect in store service.
We had been re fitting our kitchen and so had some mother purchase to make (we are fairly regular customers of B&Q over the last eighteen months or so)
BRINGING HOME THE TREE
As we had chosen the reserve and collect option when we arrived at the store our purchase was ready and waiting at the customer services desk which, in this particular store, is close to the entrance.
The tree comes packaged in a large box and is on the heavy side. Not too heavy to get to and into a car but it would be heavy if one were using public transport.
The tree in its box fit into the boot of our saloon car.
This item can be ordered for home delivery. For on-line orders delivery is free and orders over fifty pounds are also delivered free.
This tree does actually take a while to set up. We haven't got around to putting up our Christmas decorations this year but I would say it must have taken around forty-five minutes maybe longer to set up, last year. I did read some reviews before buying and some said that this tree was really quick to set up but I find this somewhat puzzling. My husband doesn't hang around with this type of thing and yet he certainly couldn't have set this tree up in less than half an hour, even if a pint was waiting for him at the end of the task!
I expect it will be slightly quicker this year when the memory of setting it up will return and at least we'll be able to start quicker. But I would still say it isn't a speedy task.
The branches are colour coded. They have coloured stickers on such as, green red yellow white etc. as well as letters. I think there were nine sets of branches although one was the central tree top. Some colours had more branches than others.
The branches fit in to the main body/trunk of the tree by hooking in.
An instruction leaflet comes with the tree and using this as a guide meant that the process was easy enough to follow but just a little time consuming.
To help to set the tree up I made sure that all the branches were placed together in piles in order and this made the task slightly easier.
The bigger, bushier branches fit into the tree lower down and as the branches are fitted into the slots in the trunk then the tree shape begins to show.
The branches have little tabs similar to the sticky fastening on loaves of bread. I thought that if these tabs came off of the branches then it would take a while to find where the branch fits into the tree but it would still be possible to match up the branch by working out its size and therefore its position.
Once all the branches have been hooked into the tree then it looks really good. It's easy enough now to make sure the branches are pointing in the right direction. Now comes the fun part with the tree being ready for the fairy lights and baubles and tinsel.
The tree certainly looks realistic. I would say amazingly so. It has mixed tips and some look more authentic than others but all of them look good. On running ones fingers along the pine needles it really feels as if this tree might shed! The pine cones add to the look of a real tree.
I like the deep green natural colour of the tree.
This is the most realistic tree that I have seen and although it is expensive, for how it looks it isn't actually that bad.
The fake foliage on this tree is abundant and widespread.
My husband left some of the lower branches off the tree for the sake of space. The tree still looked good and balanced and well proportioned.
This tree has seventy three plastic branches (PE and PVC with Polyethylene tips) and these have offshoots. Here and here and there pine cones sit upon the branches adding to its authentic look.
The tree looks good when it is bare and once dressed it is beautiful.
ON THE TWELFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS
Once the Christmas decorations were removed from the tree it still took a while to disassemble it although not as long as it took to assemble the tree. Well, it wouldn't really as once the branch is unhooked then it can be closed a little and returned to the box; there is no fussing over appearance just packaging. The branches do need pushing down a bit through to make enough room in the box.
I thought it would be a good idea to keep all the branches together according to their coding. I did this by placing each bundle into carrier bags with a letter written on them.
The box was closed and taped up in readiness for this coming Christmas.
B&Q were selling this tree for £100 but the price has just been reduced to £75. In my opinion that is a very good price for an artificial tree of this standard.
Height (mm): 2130 ( 7 ft approx)
Width (mm): 1500
Diameter (mm): 1510 (151cm (59") base diameter)
Self Assembly Required.
I honestly think that this is a fantastic artificial Christmas tree. It is definitely the best one that we have ever owned.
I think you have to look long and very closely to know that it isn't a real tree.
It was expensive although not quite so much now as the price has just dropped by 25% but even at £100 I would say that if you can afford it then it is worth the price. A truly beautiful tree if you want something that very closely resembles the real thing but without the hassle.
I would thoroughly recommend this tree but if you are considering making this purchase then please remember that it is big, both in terms of its height being seven foot and the very wide spread of its branches. If you have the room for it, then it will look great.
I would say that as the tree is so dense it can take a lot of fairy lights. It will look good however many you have but, in my opinion, it is worth using several sets of lights (400 LED lights are recommended) as they really will set off this tree.
Because an artificial tree lacks one thing that I love about a real tree, that being the pine aroma, I always buy a pine air freshener and if it's one that hooks up then this is ideal as I hook it on a branch where it can't be seen from in the room. If I can't find one of these then I stand the air freshener on the windowsill near to the tree. It just adds that little bit of authenticity.
"MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE"
I have trouble packing light but I do always try. Usually when I go on holiday I take two handbags (and sometimes a small clutch bag as well) which will match the shoes that I'm packing to wear in the evening. I usually take a black pair and a brown pair of shoes. This year I thought to myself that I would try to find a nice bag in both colours so that I could take just the one handbag on holiday with me. Not only would this mean there would be less luggage to take away but I thought that one big advantage to only taking one evening bag away, would be that I didn't have to keep changing bags and bags wasting valuable holiday time. Also I often find that I often forget to take items out with me because of the bag change over.
I looked at many handbags before buying the Natural Mock Croc handbag from The Collection at Debenhams.
I decided on this bag because:
It was both brown and black in colour and so just what I wanted.
I thought it looked smart.
The bag fastens properly. I don't like bags where only an internal pocket can be secured but the bag gapes open.
It was the size of handbag that I required for my holiday.
The handbag is fairly light in weight.
It wasn't too expensive.
I had seen this bag in store and so knew exactly what I was buying but I actually bought it on-line along with other purchases. This was partly because I had an on line discount code.
This bag is, in my opinion, rather smart and has a designer look about it.
I like that it has large handles so it can be used as a shoulder or grab bag.
The material on the outside of this bag is polyurethane.
The faux crocodile trim is in black and is used to trim the base of the bag and is also on the flap that closes the bag.
There is a small 'The collection' motif on the bag.
The rest of the bag is in a light creamy brown colour and also has a medium brown colour on the trim. The material can be wiped clean.
The bag has a popper fastener and this opens and closes the bag nicely.
I like the handles on this bag as they are wide enough and soft enough to be comfortable when holding the bag.
The bag measures: H 24cm (9.5") x W 30cm (12") x D 8cm (3.25")
For me this is a good size and fits everything I want to take out with me of an evening. It is fairly roomy and I can fit some make up, purse, travel wipes, tissues, brush, mobile phone, camera etc.
The bag has patterned polyester lining inside.
There are two pockets inside the bag big enough to keep items secure such as purses, plastic cards and papers. As well as this there is a pouches for a mobile phone. However, as phones seem to be quite large nowadays this pouch is a bit on the small size, especially for smart phones.
I paid £25.20 for this handbag. It was a sale item at the time and I had a further on-line discount.
The full price for The Collection's Mock Croc bag is £35 but it is currently on sale and costs £26.25.
~~MICROSOFT SURFACE TOUCH PAD KEYBOARD~~
I purchased my Microsoft Surface Keyboard from Currys for the price of £279. At the time of purchase I was offered a touchpad keyboard to go with it for £69. I didn't buy this keyboard but over the next few days I realised that I would like a keyboard to go with the tablet.
I looked on-line to see if I could find a bargain but prices seemed to be the same or even more than in Currys.
After owning the Surface for a week I returned to the high street and purchased a touch pad keyboard.
~~ABOUT THE TOUCH PAD/COVER~~
The Microsoft 'surface' works as an ordinary tablet with a touch screen but it can also be used with a keyboard. I could have purchased a standard keyboard but once I had seen the touch keypad I knew this was what I wanted.
The touch keypad clicks by way of magnets onto the base of the tablet and also acts as a protective cover when folded over the tablet. When it is folded over the tablet then the keys are disabled.
The touch pad is available in three colours. These are blue (cyan) white and black. The blue is fairly bright and I thought that this made a change to my usual choice of black accessories.
This cover/touch pad is spill proof whichhas got to be a good feature.
In my opinion The Microsoft Surface Touch pad is lovely to use. It is a Qwerty keyboard in layout and has short cut keys for the tablet. It also has a track pad.
I wanted something to make typing easier on my fingers and wrists and with these keys you don't have to press hard at all.
With a keyboard attached, either with normal keys or touch pressure keys, the tablet really is like a mini laptop.
I have now discovered that personally I would rather use my laptop or desktop PC when undertaking a lot of typing but I do think for anyone moving around a lot, from room to room indoors or for those who travel to work, or particularly for those whose work involves travel, then the surface really is ideal.
It is an excellent device for taking on holiday, especially when you want, or need, to travel light. The tablet really is so handy when it is used with the keyboard or touch pad as then it is really having a mini laptop to hand.
7.4 x 11.0 in (187.96 x 279.4 mm)
The touch pad is 3 mm thin
Weight 0.46 lbs. (0.2 kg)
John Lewis £64.95
Microsoft shop £64.99
Currys £ 64.99
PC World £64.99
MICROSOFT SURFACE TABLET
I am lucky enough to own a laptop and a desktop but decided a tablet would also be nice to own. I thought a tablet would be good as they are more portable than a laptop and so would be useful to me for several reasons. But I am far from being technical and knew little about tablets. I did some research on-line and then went out to look in a few high street stores at various tablets.
I wanted something small but preferably larger than a seven inch screen. I wanted it to be light in weight so that it was easy to carry around as well as being light and manageable to hold in one hand.
I have problems typing for long and have never touch typed. Because of this I thought a touch screen would be good to use.
I wanted a tablet mainly for:
Being able to check Facebook newsfeeds and send and view messages on Facebook.
Be able to access my emails.
Have access to consumer review sites so that I could read and rate on-line reviews.
Perhaps get a Kindle application.
The trouble is that I took my husband shopping with me and, once again, I was influenced by him. I had told him I was going to treat myself and look for a tablet. I mentioned being able to use it as a Kindle and thought I might even buy a Kindlefire. My husband was in favour of my purchasing a tablet but wanted me to have something light that I could rest on my lap rather than my laptop. He thought I needed something light on my knees when I was typing for long periods of time. I started to think he might be right.
We looked in a few places, one of them being a large Tesco store followed by PCWorld and then on to Currys. I know that Currys and PCWorld belong to the same chain but they didn't have the same tablets on display therefore by going to both places I got to see a larger range of tablets.
A knowledgeable assistant talked me through the pros and cons of an android tablet as opposed to the Microsoft tablet. Actually I became baffled! Not so much puzzled about what they were capable of but for what purpose I really wanted the tablet for.
What drew my husband to the Microsoft tablet was the fact that it had 'word' on it. He was sure that having this programme would make the tablet easier for me to understand and use.
The 'surface' has Office Home and Student 2013 including Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote installed.
The 'surface' works as an ordinary tablet with touchscreen but can also be used with a keyboard
I find the battery life on this tablet pretty good and really the 'surface' is, in terms of battery life, more like using a phone than a laptop.
On the back of this tablet is an integrated flip out kick stand. This makes it even more convenient to use if sitting at a desk, table or on a laptop tray. Once the kick stand is in use the table stands nicely in place. This comes into its own really when using the tablet to watch a video or for gaming.
This tablet has two cameras, a rear and front camera (720p HD). I think that using a camera on the tablet is easier than with a laptop.
The Microsoft Surface tablet has many features so here are just a few important (to me) of them.
Operating system Windows RT
Screen size 10.6"
Screen type LCD
Storage 32 GB
Processor NVIDIA Tegra 3 Quad-Core
One USB port
Battery Life 8 hours
RAM memory 2GB
Height 172.0 mm
Width 9.4 mm
Weight 0.88 kg
I do believe that this is a great product and brilliant for those who travel a lot as it is so portable and easy to use. It has good storage and lots of great features but I still find that I keep returning to my laptop. I seem to just find a laptop easier to use owing to it being that much larger. If I'm using word and/or undertaking various tasks then I prefer to use my laptop or desktop.
I do think that this is a god machine but, probably for me, a simpler and cheaper tablet would have been more suited to my requirements. I could have purchased an android tablet with the main features that I wanted for around £130. But because I wavered and perhaps made a wrong decision doesn't mean that for many would be purchasers this is a lovely tablet. If you can manage to type away on a smaller screen and want something that can be a tablet or really combined with a mini laptop then this is great. For me it's just a bit too large to use one handed, as a Kindle, when reading in bed. I really needed something more like my iPhone but with a bigger screen.
I purchased my Surface from a Currys high street store and I was offered a touch pad to go with this. I declined but purchased at a later date.
This tablet is widely available from Argos, PCWorld /Currys and Tesco, as well as many other stores.
A few weeks ago the fridge compartment of my Hotpoint fridge freezer packed up and couldn't be revived. The time had come, too soon really, to purchase a new model.
WHAT I WANTED
I wanted a fridge freezer where the drawers opened and closed more easily. But this is difficult, I think, as trying out empty freezer drawers in display appliances doesn't really give one a good idea about how easy these would operate when full. But I knew I would have a good inspection of a new fridge freezer. After all, the food is taken out and returned so often in a freezer that it really is a nuisance if the drawers don't close easily.
With fridge freezers, I find most are designed so that the fridge section is a lot larger than that of the freezer. Fridge freezers that share space 50:50 are hard to find, I don't even know if this ratio is available. Most fridge freezers seem to be top heavy. Our last one was roughly 60:40 which worked out quite well but this time when we looked at fridge freezers we found that most were about 70:30.
It seemed that only a Samsung fridge freezer came close to what we had in mind. This one was a Curry's exclusive and priced at £799.00. I didn't want to spend that much yet also didn't want to buy something that I wasn't pleased with from day one. We decided to delay our decision until I'd had a better look on-line.
MOST IMPORTANT FOR ME
SIZE: A new freezer had to fit into the same size space that would be vacated by the old appliance.
INTERNAL SIZE: I wanted the freezer to be of a similar or at least almost the same size as the model that was departing.
COLOUR: I already have graphite/silver/grey appliances and wanted some colour coordination.
EASY OPENING: I wanted compartments to open and close smoothly.
FROST FREE: I hate defrosting freezers.
ENERGY EFFICIENT: I wanted an A+ rating or better so the freezer would be economical to run.
WHERE TO PURCHASE?
A freezer is not something I would want to buy unseen, especially as I am particular about the smooth opening of the compartments. We thought we should look for a Samsung model in a design similar to the one we had already seen and liked, although hopefully selling at a cheaper price.
I looked on-line and came across the Samsung RL58GPEIH on various websites. It looked very similar to the model that we had looked at but was cheaper.
I then looked at the appliances online website and they had this particular model. The site showed an informative video of the fridge freezer and it looked to be what I wanted. It was priced at £629, in Currys and Appliances on-line. Both stores offer standard free delivery but for next day delivery Currys charges £12.99 and Appliances online charges £9.99. I couldn't get next day delivery from Currys but I could from Appliances Online, therefore I ordered from the latter.
Ordering from Appliances Online was straightforward. I had to affirm details such as could a lorry park easily in my road and were there steps up to the property.
Once I'd paid and completed the ordering process I received an email confirming my order and saying that it could be tracked. The company had my email address and my husband's mobile phone number. We were contacted several times before the appliance arrived by both email and text messages.
I was impressed with delivery overall. My order could be tracked and information was updated every so often. We were kept informed by email and text messaging throughout and were messaged to say that our delivery would arrive between 11am and 3 pm.
The delivery driver's name and a contact phone number were supplied to us.
The driver did, in fact, phone us when he was twenty-five minutes away. This was useful as then we knew when to put the dog safely out of the way and into the garden as well as opening doors in readiness for the delivery of our order.
It arrived as promised via two delivery men. Although slightly smaller than the outgoing model it wouldn't go through the door until the packaging was removed. I think this might be to do with this freezer having handles which made it a bit awkward to manoeuvre.
We could have paid more to have the old appliance removed and recycled but chose not to.
IN ITS PLACE
We could also have had the freezer installed but my husband prefers to do these tasks himself.
Moving this fridge freezer into its position in the kitchen was made easier by the fact that it has two small wheels fitted onto the rear base. When the appliance is tilted backwards these small wheels will operate.
The freezer was easy to level.
The Samsung G-Series RL58GPEIH Fridge Freezer is freestanding. It comes in a stainless steel look. I wasn't sure that this would look good alongside my under counter freezer which was in a graphite colour but I think, although not exactly the same colour, the stainless steel effect is a dark finish and matches well. I'm pleased with the co-ordination colour wise.
It isn't quite as tall as the previous freezer which, I think makes it look a little better as it isn't too imposing.
Both the fridge and freezer compartments can both be opened by lever system handles. These handles are lovely to use.
On the fridge door there is an LED thermostat and a dispenser for the water filter. These both add to the modern look of this appliance.
I liked the fridge compartment when I had viewed the similar Samsung model in the Currys store. I thought it more impressive than the fridge compartment of many other brands that I saw. I still think that it looks good and everything seems to fit well inside it.
One thing that I would say is, in my opinion, there is a design fault in that the door will only hold two bottles in an upright position. The bottle compartment is wide and can hold a large four pint (2.27 litres) size plastic container and on its side. There is still room for a smaller bottle of milk or a bottle of wine next to this but nothing else will stand up. And it's a bit of a nuisance that there is no other place to store opened bottles upright. I do find this a bit of a pain and now find I'm pushed into buying smaller sized milk containers. Perhaps I should also buy smaller bottle s of wine!
Apart from the open bottles problem there is still plenty of room in this fridge for everything else to be kept. The inside of the door holds the water tank for the dispenser and also has plenty of room for jars, eggs and other foodstuffs that you may wish to store here.
Inside the fridge there are shelves placed at different levels. It is recommended that these should be kept in the position that they were placed in by the manufacturer as the placing is supposed to keep the fridge running at optimum efficiency.
A nice feature is the wine rack, although I couldn't fit a bottle of champagne on this so had to instead place it on the shelf above. My husband took over this wine rack by filling it with bottled beer.
To the bottom of the fridge space are two large box types of containers. I like these as I can fit so much inside. These containers pull out which means all the food inside is easy to access.
The bottom drawer is called the 'Fresh Zone' and I keep meat in here as it's so cold and because meat should be kept at the lowest part of the fridge for hygiene reasons.
This fridge is clever and has something called 'Multi Flow' using technology to make cool air flow through the entire fridge, keeping it very cool throughout and at a stable temperature
This Samsung is a little smaller than my Hotpoint model and I am pleased about this. I couldn't reach or see easily what was near to the top of my last fridge. With this appliance I can see what's stored inside and reach items much easier.
And although the fridge isn't quite as large as my last one in height or width it still seems to fit a great deal inside. Actually, although it looks smaller than the last appliance there is barely any difference in capacity. This must be due to manufacturer's use of Ecospace technology and their claims that the thin wall insulation technology' means that there is more space internally which does not affect the exterior space.
Inside the freezer is an ice making gadget. There are two trays in which to place water and once frozen a simple turn of either one will turn the ice out of the ice maker and into a storage space underneath. This is a nice touch especially at Christmas, hot summer days or party time. It doesn't take up too much room either.
Next to this is a small compartment ideal to store a few of the slimmer packaged items of frozen food such as packets of beef burgers, sausages, fish fingers etc.
There are three further drawer compartments which pull out nicely. I am pleased with these as I wasn't happy with the comfort of opening drawers in my last freezer. The design in this respect is good, I think.
Although my last appliance had four large drawers I think that this model actually holds almost as much. Also, everything stored inside is far easier to see and to remove.
The water dispenser is stored on the inner fridge door. This is fitted with a Brita water filter (supplied) and can be filled with tap water by removing the container to fill or, alternatively, there is an opening at the top of the container which can be filled without removing the whole container. Once the water is chilled it's simple to operate and have cold filtered water on tap! The dispenser is child safe as it can be locked after use.
The thermostat is on the exterior of the fridge door. After closing the fridge door the LED digital display will show the fridge and the freezer temperatures; this is clear and easy to read. On the thermostat panel there is also a:
POWER FREEZE-This is a fast freeze function.
TEMPERATURE ALARM-The temperature alarm will light up and flash if the temperature of the freezer has risen, perhaps due to a power cut.
VACATION CONTROL-This is a useful and economic function if you are going away for several days or more. The freezer can be set to use less power. The fridge needs to be emptied if using this as the fridge will operate at 15 degrees (too warm for a refrigerator) but the freezer will stay at its normal below freezing temperature.
ALARM- This alarm will activate if the fridge is left open. This is a great feature if the fridge has been accidentally left open and so is in danger of its temperature rising.
The doors on his model are reversible. We didn't need to reverse them but I had read on a couple of reviews before I purchased this model that the process can be tricky. The doors are very heavy. Instructions are supplied in the user's manual.
MORE FEATURES FOR YOUR INFORMATION
This fridge freezer has many features and so I have chosen just a few here which I feel may be helpful if you are considering purchasing this freezer.
Dimensions (cm): (H)192.0 x (W)59.7 x (D)67.0
Manufacturer's Five year warranty
A++ Energy Rating
Annual Energy Consumption of 270 Kwh
Fridge Capacity Gross- 266 litres
Fridge Capacity Net-257 Litres
Freezer Capacity Gross-150 Litres
Safety Glass Shelves in Refrigerator
Freezer Capacity Net 115 Litres
Three Shelves in Fridge
41 dB-Noise Level
Annual Energy Cost Based On 15p/Unit 40.5 pounds
DOES IT TICK ALL THE BOXES?
Does it tick all of the boxes? Well, I don't think we often get everything we want in terms of household appliances and so some compromise is often necessary. I think in terms of the features that I deemed the most important then the Samsung G-Series RL58GPEIH Fridge Freezer was the model most suited to my requirements and pocket.
In terms of size, it fits well in the space where it had to go. Being slightly smaller but having a similar capacity to my old appliance, is useful as it is easier to access.
I am pleased with how much I can fit into both the fridge and the freezer compartments and so I would have to place a big tick next to size.
In terms of colour coordination, the freezer matches quite well. I think having handles helps to keep fingerprints at bay.
I wanted the freezer compartments to open easily and I am pleased that they do. All freezer drawers are much easier to open and close than those in my last freezer.
I wanted my appliance to be energy efficient and was looking for an A+ rating. This Samsung freezer actually has an A++ rating, so even better.
I think that my new fridge freezer is a good buy. However, I think the price of £629.00 is a lot to pay and so I hope that I will be able to say I made a good choice in six or seven years' time.
I paid £629 from Appliances Online. This fridge freezer is available from many outlets. Here are a few:
www.currys.co.uk (Home delivery only-not available from store)
www.ao.com (Appliances Online)