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I first purchased from the Next Directory online a couple of years ago. In all honesty I didn't really understand what I was doing and thought for a minute I'd got away without paying - every the optimist! Just to clarify the account is a credit account - the interest levels like all catalogues are quite high if you do not pay off the amount in full each month. Upon first ordering an item online you set up an account - which means you are automatically sent a plush catalogue version of what is online - this is charged to you're account at £3.75, and new ones come out for Spring/Summer, Autumn/Winter and Christmas, I think I read somewhere that if you didn't want it you could call up and Next would reimburse the cost to you, there is also an option to cancel receiving the catalogue - which I did. I just saw the Directory as a bit of a waste as it just contains the same stuff as is on the internet - but I know some people like a physical book to browse through. The website/directory shows clothes, homeware and electricals, it helpfully matches things together, luckily fro me this means I don't have to rely on my atrocious design skills, if this comes to clothing or what colour curtains match my bedspread! The quality of the items that I've received have been a bit hit and miss - the homeware has always been good quality, duvet covers, cushions, photo frames etc, no qualms at all. However, the clothing has been not so good, this is something which surprises people as Next still seems to have a very good reputation in terms of quality. A couple of tops that I have purchased have washed very poorly, one even tore after only a couple of wears, a dress shrank in the wash - despite me following the washing instructions. However, when taking the items back in store the staff were very good and refunded/replaced without question. Next seem to increase your credit limit on a regular basis once you have proved yourself to be a reliable customer. While some may see this as a good thing - I'm not too keen and find it a bit unnerving if I'm honest. The delivery dates offered on the website are very quick, and if you order before the evening you can get next day delivery - very good indeed! My big bug bear with the Next Directory has been the courier service that I receive - as my boyfriend and I work full time we arrange for things to be delivered on the few days that we are in - however my courier does not seem to respect this, frequently turning up days early or late leaving the items with my long suffering neighbours or in one case in a neighbours garage without leaving a card! The courier also has a bizarre habit of squeezing items through our average size letter box, despite them being on a coat hanger, needless to say this results in items being left crumpled in the hallway. I've also had two or three instances where items that I have returned via courier not being received by the depot - this means i have to send my confirmation of returns to head office - which is slightly inconvenient. Other people have had very good service from their courier - so it probably is just my bad luck. I have contacted Next about this, however I've received no reponse.
I am normally a Sainsburys online customer and have been for a couple of years now, but I was swayed to Tescos by a £10 off email. Website Like any other online supermarket you have to first sign up for Tesco, this is an easy process and only takes a couple of minutes. I'd imagine they'd be a few remote areas that Tesco doesn't deliver to, but fortunately they delivered to my address. One you're signed up to Tescos the website is very easy to navigate. You can browse through the offers section, this shows all the Buy One Get One Frees and Half Price Offers. You can also browse by aisle. The vast majority of the items have a picture next to them and detail their ingredients, handy if you have someone with an allergy. Tescos has a very wide variety of products, nothing that I wanted was unavailable. Tescos delivery price was £5.50 for a weekend delivery, slightly more than Sainsburys. However the big downside to Tescos is that they only offer 2 hour delivery slots, Sainsburys offer delivery slots for one hour. Price The estimated delivery price for my order (excluding the £10 voucher) was comparable with my usual Sainsburys price. Its difficult to compare as I'm led by the offers. Delivery My delivery was scheduled between 12 and 2 on a Saturday. At 9 o'clock I received a phone call from Tesco customer services saying that the delivery was going to be upto an hour and a half late. Obviously I wasn't very happy about this, it meant I'd be late for my afternoon arrangements - and work me up from my Saturday morning lay in! (Hardly their fault - but it added to my dissatisfaction!) It then got to around 11 and I received another phone call saying that the order had now been delayed by two and a half hours, this now blew my afternoons plans out of the water and I cancelled on my friends, a 5 o'clock late lunch is definitely pushing it! The phonecalls were friendly and apologetic. Eventually the delivery turned up at 13.40 actually in time, despite the two phonecalls advising me that it would be late. I asked the delivery man if i had a voucher to compensate me - however he said i would have to contact customer services as technically my order wasn't late. To be fair I have not contacted customer services, while a £10 voucher would be nice, I'd rather do without it and shop at Sainsburys! Quality I received no substitutes which was very good. The quality of the food delivered was high, nothing was squashed and nothing was close to its use by date. Overall While I appreciate that delays can happen for a number of reasons it was the lack of clarity about delivery time, combined with the two hour delivery window which mean i will not shop with Tescos online again.
La Senza is a store that sells a wide variation of underwear, nightwear and small gifts. Most high streets will have a branch. I absolutely love La Senza. Buying pretty matching underwear really cheers me up. I have problems finding bras that fit well as I am a bit of an odd size and not alot of stores stock bras that fit me. However, La Senza never fails to let me down. In other stores I am forced to buy from the range specially for bigger busted ladies, and most women will tell you these ones are normally not as pretty as the average bras. La Senza have a large selection of bras, in fancy colours for wearing when going out and also plain white and black for wearing under your blouse at work. Most bras can be bought 2 for £18. I think this is very good value. You can pay alot more than this for a decent bra in M&S or Debenhams. But to be fair you can play alot less from Primark, but in my case they never fit as well and seldom last more than half a dozen washes. Theres also matching knickers available with every bra. Normally a choice of a thong or a short type pant. Again this wash very well. These are normally available for 2 for £8. There is also a couple of tables in the store with a selection of cheaper knickers available. I have never bought these ones but think they are 5 for £10, excellent value. All my pjs are from La Senza and I get bored of them before they go funny in the wash. You can buy a variety including thick winter pjs, hot pants and vest tops for the summer, little silk chemises and revealing lingerie. Prices vary but are always reasonable. The stores typically have two changing rooms and offer a bra fitting service which I took advantage of a few years ago and it was conducted in a very professional manner. Resulting in me having correctly fitting bras ever since. You can also buy little gifts from La Senza like hangover kits and little bits of things for hen nights. If you are a student you can get 10% discount. The staff are always friendly and will do everything they can to help you. When you buy anything as a gift the staff will wrap it up in tissue paper for you, making it look very fancy. I have been known to claim I am buying as a gift even when it is just for myself! Even if you insist of telling the truth the bags are lovely, the receipts are put in a small envelope and the bag is sealed with a little sticker. These small touches but I it adds to the whole experience. My only complaint about La Senza is the size of the stores they are normally very tiny and lots of stock is squeezed in. This results in quite a stressful chopping experience especially on weekends. In fact when I dragged my boyfriend in this weekend we got stuck, he claimed it was like a nightmare but I think it was a slight exaggeration! Of course it would be preferable for the store to be larger, there to be more changing rooms and designated boyfriend seats, but undoubtedly this would mean the prices would have to increase. Like any underwear store it attracts groups of young teenagers boys and girls who shout inappropriate things across the store, this is annoying but theres not a great deal the staff can do about this.
I have spent three years of my life as a student in Nottingham, and therefore walked/stumbled by the Crowne Plaza on many occasions. The hotel also played a part in my graduation as this is where we collected our gowns. But despite this I had never stayed in the hotel until this summer when I was invited for an assessment day for a grad job at Boots. The hotel has its own multi story car park, but this is open to the public. This meant when I arrived on a very warm weekday afternoon the carpark was pretty busy and it was pretty difficult to find a space and quite a walk into the actual hotel with my heavy holdall. The receptionist was very helpful. Making pleasant small talk with me and telling me everything that the company had paid for on my behalf. This was very useful as I had never stayed in a hotel paid for by a company before so was unsure what I'd be entitled to. After I had checked in a porter came and helped me with my bags up to my room. My room was what I would now call a 'small double'. There was a dressing table/desk in the room, a small table and two chairs, a wardrobe, overpriced mini bar and a safe. There was a couple of towels and a robe folded up on the bottom of the bed. The bathroom was spacious with a full sized bath and a shower, and lots of complimentary smellies. All in all the room was pretty good, it was very clean. But the room was quite gloomy, my room had what looked to be a large plastic bus shelter attached to the window, blocking out quite a lot of light. The room also looked pretty overcrowded with furniture. To sit at the dressing table you needed to move one of the other chairs. This qot pretty irritating by the end of my stay. When I travelled down to the pool and steam room I was impressed with the hotel. There were four lifts, meaning that I never had to wait. The decoration was very modern with shiny marble floors which looked very nice but probably wouldn't have been good for those slightly unsteady on their feet! The pool itself was lovely. It was only small but perfect for a central hotel and very much welcome on a hot day. There was also a small jacuzzi off the side of the pool, although I didn't use this as I felt a little self concious being on my own. However, I did dip into the sauna and steam room and again these were small but perfectly adequate. The changing rooms were spotlessly clean. With plenty of towels, toilletries and a couple of hairdryers. They were communal though, which could have been a problem for shy people. On returning to my room my key wasn't working, after trying at least a dozen times I found a courtesy phone and rang down to reception, resulting in someone bringing me up a new key. Apparently if you keep it close to your phone or credit cards this 'wipes' the room card. It would have been nicer to have been warned about this on check in. I decided to have room service for my evening mean. I ordered a steak sandwich with chips and side salad, a large glass of pinot grigio and a chocolate fudge cake. Yes, I'll happily admit, I wanted to get the most out of my expenses! The food took a while to arrive but I was warned about this when I placed my order. When it did arrive the waitress was pleasant. The food itself was fine, but nothing amazing, the steak was slightly fatty. I spent the remainder of the night watching the LCD TV and relaxing prior to my assessment day. The air conditiong was fantastic and kept me cool throughout the night. The bed was very comfy and I awoke feeling refreshed, if slightly bloated from my huge meal! Nevertheless I went down for my breakfast and was very impressed with the quality. It was the typical buffet style, and as my nana would say 'there was plenty to go at', and it certainly wasn't quantity over quality. Check out was very smooth, no problems at all. Although I didn't go out into Nottingham during my stay the location would have been excellent for doing so, for shopping or a night out. In conclusion, I would definitely stay at the Crowne Plaza again. The small problems that I had were quickly resolved by the friendly and efficient staff.
In my younger years I never stuck to any particular sort of mascara. I would go to Boots and pick up whichever mid priced mascara was promising to lengthen my lashes the most. However, the truth of the matter is I was always disappointed. The effects were never the same as on the adverts. It isn't until recently that I noticed the small print on the bottom saying 'filmed with lash inserts'. So, whilst shopping with my boyfriend a few days before my birthday a couple of years ago I decided to upgrade. Initially I'd intended on getting Benefit mascara as it was slightly cheaper. But they didn't have any brown mascara and as I am so fair I thought black would be too harsh, therefore I went to the YSL and took the plunge spending £18.50 on a mascara. This is expensive for anyone, but for a student it is a almost a week's worth of shopping! I think it was pre-birthday excitement! I wish I could say that the mascara is overrated and I get better results from a £3 Boots own brand one, but that simply isn't the case. Sometimes you do get what you pay for. Like any YSL product you can see the quality before you even open it. The mascara comes in a gold box with YSL embossed on it, and when you open it the tube looks equally impresseive. It's two different shades of gold, the top is slightly darker than the tube itself, needless to say it looks very impressive. I was that in awe of the mascara that I tried to keep my first box to keep it looking pristine! The mascara itself is the perfect consistency. Not 'gloopy' at all. It goes onto the lashes very easily, fanning the lashes out. The result is my blonde lashes which you can hardly see look long and seperated. I don't even have a need for my eye lash curlers anymore. I do sometimes put an extra coat on if I am going out just to give it a little more effect. Come the end of the night its very easy to remove the mascara with soap and water or make up remover, and unlike cheaper mascara it will be there at the end of the night! My mascara lasts me about 4 months, I do use it every day without fail and if I am going out I will put some more on. I think it is well worth the money, it seems like a lot when you first part with it, but I promise you, you will not be browsing in Boots at your lunch hour and pay another £6 for a mascara once a month purely because you fancy a change. I think that I use my mascara everyday therefore it is worth spending a fair amount of money on. I am not a huge fan of Gok Wan but the few times I have watched the programme whenever he has a YSL mascara in the make up test it triumphs over the cheaper brands and even the comparitive brands like Dior and Chanel. YSL do not have to advertise and yet hundreds of thousands of their mascaras are sold every year. This is because once a woman buys YSL they will stay with it forever. I only buy the No.2 shade mascara but it is available in different shades.
Ok, let me first say I am not fortunate enough to travel first class off my own back. I only travel first class when I am travelling through work and I have only been in my job for ten weeks now. So what I'm trying to say is I'm not used to it and I definitely don't take it for granted. The first time I booked my train tickets at work I felt really guilty selecting first class, especially when I saw the price difference. I travel from Sheffield to London about once a week and it adds just over £100 onto my journey. So, is it worth the £100 extra? Well, basically the differences between First Class and Standard are a piece of fabric with the word 'First' on it and lots of weak luke warm tea. However, what seperates the two is the level of service you receive in First Class. As soon as you get on the train you are offered a 'Times' in the morning and an 'Evening Standard' in an afternoon/evening. Yes, I'll admit the cost of the paper hardly dints the £100 price difference. You have the option of ordering your breakfast and having it brought to your table, small touch but much better than queueing up whilst trying to answer and email on your Blackberry. A few weeks ago my train was stuck behind another train that had broken down. We were stood on the track for about an hour, in that time we had two rounds of tea/coffee brought down biscuits and savoury snacks. This makes the whole experience seem less stressful. You get much more leg room when you are sat in First Class, which results in a much more comfortable journey. There is also only ever three seats in any row, as opposed to four in standard. This means the seats are more spacious. You also have the option of sitting in a seat on it's own, not sitting next to anyone else. Good for when you want to read some papers, or simply feel like being unsociable. Another factor which I like is the fact that not alot of people sit in First Class. This means that if you miss your allocated train with your seat reservation you have a good chance of being able to sit in an unreserved seat. Anyone who has travelled home from London in heels, with a suitcase and stood up all the way will know how important this is. However, I only travel First Class when I am travelling a fair way. If I am travelling between Sheffield and Leeds I do not bother. Its only 40 mins which is barely time for one cup of tea, so in my opinion not worth the extra money. All in all First Class is good and essential if you are travelling quite a way on a regular basis. But if you are travelling for social reasons I wouldn't bother, you can relax when you get there, so don't part with your cash.
Who wants to spend their weekends trawling around a packed supermarket. Negotiating my way past old ladies looking through each and every pack of bacon is not my idea of fun. Neither is having my car banged by a stray trolley. So online shopping solves all my problems. I decided to order from Sainsbury's as it is my supermarket of choice, and I used to work there and suprisingly still feel some kind of loyalty, despite the lack of staff discount. The website is very easy to use. There are the usual tabs at the top of the screen Frozen, Fresh, Home etc... There is also an 'Offers' tab which as you would expect takes you to that weeks offers. When you browse on Sainsburys online most items have a picture at the side which makes it so much easier to see what you are actually getting, this isn't the case with shopping online at Asda. Delivery slots are conveniently an hour long, this is excellent as it means you don't have to wait in for your shopping. Delivery slots with Tesco are two hours. The cost of delivery is £5.50 Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday if you spend £40+, it is £6 if you spend under £40. Delivery Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday is £3 provided you spend £40+, if you don't the price is £5.50. At first I was hesitant to pay this, but when you take into account the petrol I would have used driving to the supermarket in the first place, the convenience factor and also I find I spend more if I am walking round the actual supermarket. Therefore, I feel it is well worth spending the delivery fee. Another positive is the fact that there is a running total, therefore you won't get a nasty surprise at the checkout. You have an option of having the shopping delivered with no carrier bags. This would be my preference, but if you do this the delivery person comes into your kitchen and unloads your shopping for you. This would be very helpful, but I have cream carpets and the only way to my kitchen is through my living room. However, you can give the delivery person back your carrier bags when they come with their next delivery. I have never had any items substituted, but if you do I am led to believe that the driver will inform you of this and ask if this is ok. If not they will take the item away and refund your payment card. I had some shopping delivered yesterday and ordered some Taste the Difference Yorkshire Ham. I went to make a sandwich with it this lunch time and knew straight away that it wasn't right, it had a slight green tinge to it. I rang the number on the online receipt and explained this to someone on the phone, he refunded the price of the ham to my card straight away, and apologised for the inconvenience. I appreciate that sometimes things like this will happen. Also the items are normally delivered with good dates on them. Sometimes I fancy a trot around the supermarket but more often than not I come out thinking 'how have I spent that much money' and 'move out of my way!' Order online and do something you actually like to do on a weeked.
Its that time of year when shopping trips are inevitable. As I live in Sheffield I normally end up at that 'Land of Shoppertunity' that is Meadowhall. Its easy to get to for out of towners, straight off the M1 (I think its Junction 34, but don't take my word for it). Its well signopsted even telling you what lane to get into. You can actually see it from the Motorway so you won't miss it. The parking is free, which is a blessing as there is no such thing as a quick trip to Meadowhall. But at Christmas time the carparks are often full and you will be directed to an overflow carpark. Not a problem for me, but it means a bit of a trek in the cold, which could be a problem for the disabled. One piece of advice I would give you is take note of where you parked, the car park is huge and I have been known to wander aimlessly mongst the cars looking for mine whilst carrying lots of bags. Meadowhall itself is excellent because all the stores are under cover, meaning you're warm in the winter and cool in the summer. There is a huge variety of shops at Meadowhall and I don't intend on giving you an exhaustive list as you can get this online. There are all the highstreet favourites and in The Lanes there are smaller stores that sell specialist goods for example, film paraphenalia, Formula One goods and very expensive boutiquey style childrens clothes. Most of the fast food places are located in The Oasis, which is a circle of fast food places with a sea of chairs and tables in the middle and a huge tv screen to watch while eating. The food is typical fare. Upstairs there are restaurants, including Pizza Express, a French restaurant and a Nandos. Again there is nothing sensational about these places but they are more than adequate for refuelling to continue with the shopping. Meadowhall also has a creche if you want to drop the little ones of to get some hardcore shopping done. So, whats my opinion of Meadowhall? Well, my boyfriend and I popped in last Sunday and were directed to the overflow carpark, not a problem in itself, but as my boyfriend sais it didn't bode well for our actual shopping experience. We went in the Debenhams end and were pushed along all the way through the store. But would you expect anything else approaching Christmas on a Sunday? We managed to get a decent meal and went watched a film at the cinema while we were there and it was actually a nice day. But we didn't get much shopping done as the crowds were just too much. My advice would be to go on an evening is possible, a much more enjoyable experience. All in all Meadowhall serves a purpose. I will continue to do my Christmas shopping there as the free parking and amount of choice under one roof is excellent.
I have recently joined the world of work. I joined in a discussion with the other ladies in the office about soaps. Everyone was talking about exciting things which were going on in Coronation Street that week. I joined in and asked if they knew what was going to happed in Hollyoaks. No one had a clue. They had a negative opinion of Hollyoaks, even though quite a few of them had never seen an episode. So why does Hollyoaks have this poor reputation and is it deserved? The consensus is that Hollyoaks features young people only, usually half naked and on the whole they are bad actors/actresses. Ok, the population of Hollyoaks is distinctly good looking, the vast majority have perfect bodies and there are more blondes in that square mile than anywhere else this side of Sweeden, but does that automatically make it a bad soap? I would argue no. There are a couple of dodgy actors in the soap, namely Archie who is a new character and is truly terrible. But this is also the case in any other soap. Most soaps are based around the local pub, for example, The Queen Victoria, The Rovers Return etc... In contrast Hollyoaks isn't really focused around the local pub as there is the local called 'The Dog in the Pond' (Recently renamed to the Jolly Roger) and the Student Bar creatively named 'The SU Bar'. However the action is equally split between the two bars, the resturaunt 'Il Gnosh' and the nightclub 'The Loft'. As Hollyoaks has a university in close proximity (slightly unbelievable as it is a small village, but never mind), there is a large student population. Hollyoaks actually develops story lines really well. My dad is a huge Eastenders fan and I remember watching Eastenders with him at the time when Chelsy Fox was becoming addicted to drugs, Chelsy became a drug addict within the space of a week. This was going on at the same time when Sasha Valentine got to the worst stage of her drug addiction on Hollyoaks. Hollyoaks had spent months developing the story making it seem much more convincing. Hollyoaks typically starts with some current music and short shots of characters doing something surreal, for example each pretending to be on a game show or all having different nightmares. This is a hard thing to explain, and I feel like I am not doing it justice, but it really works. Hollyoaks knows how people perceive it and rather than conforming and trying to become more serious it goes against the grain by embracing its silly image. If there is any opportunity for characters to get semi-naked it will happen. But, Hollyoaks isn't scared of tackling hard hitting issues. For example it was the first British soap to show a character die from anorexia last year. Again this storyline was developed over a long period of time, it was handled excellently. Hollyoaks is aired at 6.30 every evening on Channel 4. You can also watch the next episode straight after on E4, but personally I feel that this is cheating. There is also an opportunity to watch the omnibus on a Sunday morning on Channel 4, some would say this was perfect hangover viewing, but I wouldn't know anything about that. I have recently been watching Hollyoaks Later, and would advise that this is only for Hollyoaks fans as I will admit it is pretty trashy and if you watch that before watching normal Hollyoaks I fear you will be put off. My advice would be to give Hollyoaks a go, it has a poor reputation and it isn't deserved.
I spent my first year (2005/2006) at uni in Peverell Hall on Clifton Campus of Nottingham Trent University. Peverell is seperated into two semi circle shaped sections called Castle and Lincoln (there will be some reason for this but I do not know). There is a recpetion area in the middle where you pick up your post, pay any fines and report any problems with your accomodation. I had put Peverell down as my first choice for accomodation because of its location and the fact that there is parking. As I was based on Clifton campus I have a 3/4 minute journey to my lectures, absolutely fantastic. Although this also encouraged me to go back to my halls and watch daytime tv inbetween lectures rather than studying in the library! This is particularly brilliant for first years. I had a hard time handling the independant living thing and my minimal studies never mind factoring in time and money for travelling to and from uni. Clifton Campus had a lot of facilities on site including a very popular bar called 'The Point' (I kind of wanted it to be called the SU Bar, think I watch too much Hollyoaks), it also had a small shop selling your basic food stuffs although they were quite expensive in comparison to the supermarkets. They had a pizza shop 'Pizza Point' which was a good way to waste your student loan and wasn't too badly priced, think its been turned into a more sensible careers advice place now. There was a HSBC bank, but I didn't use this, it was only open a couple of hours a day too. It had a laundrette too, there was a also a man who would do as much washing as you could fit into a bin liner for £10, don't think he had any affiliation with the uni though. The parking situation was a little difficult. After a couple of weeks at Peverell notices were put up saying that there parking permits would be sold on a certain morning, on a first come first served basis. So I got up very early on that day and joined the queue outside reception. There was a few people attempting to jump the queue so it was quite frustrating. Luckily I got the last parking permit. I feel that the permits should have been issued on a need basis. Or at least they should have been a little more 'policing' of the queue. The actual accomodation was expensive in comparison to the rest of the university accomodation, it was £82 per week when I was there. Although this does include gas, electric, water and contents insurance. I think internet was also included although you needed to go and get the wire from reception. The blocks were quite new when I moved in, I'd estimate between 5 and 10 years old. The rooms were small, only enough space for a single bed and a large built in desk. The bathroom was like a caravan bathroom. The shower section of the bathroom was just big enough for 5'2" me. The worst part was that the drains blocked very easily. Which meant the whole bathroom flooded. However, I consider an en suite to be vital in any kind of accomodation. I was in 'D block', but this doesn't really matter as they were all exactly the same. Entry was through three keys, one for the door to the block, one for the door to the flat and one to your bedroom. There was an option to 'buzz' people in, but this didn't work in our flat so you had to run down to let people in. The flat itself comprised of 6 bedrooms all with ensuites. The six bedrooms shared a kitchen which was an adequate size with a large table, an oven and hob, a microwave and fridge/freezer. The kitchen was cleaned once a week, although the cleaners would only clean if it wasn't too dirty. The kitchen was where the main problem arised. People coming back early in the morning would often burn food which set off the super sensitive fire alarms. This was probably a weekly occurence (possibly more as I came home at weekends). I understand that this is probably a problem with all student accomodation, but not to this extent. The whole block was often stood out in the middle of the night waiting for security to come and give us the all clear. Another issue was the fact that it seemed very easy to trip a fuse, meaning that there was no electricity in the kitchen. Hugely annoying when you are in your pjs and need a cup of coffee to wake you up before you go to your lecture, as you had to get dressed to tell reception of the problem and they were never in a rush to sort it out for you. Like any student halls they were pretty noisy, but you wouldn't really expect any other. All in all Peverel is a good place to be in your first year, especially if you are based on Clifton Campus. Its only when you have ventured out into private rents that you appreciate how much your money could get you elsewhere.
I have been going to Center Parcs since I cannot remember so have experienced it from being a young child to an adult. I have recently returned from a mid-week break with my two brothers (21 and 17) and my boyfriend. We stayed at Sherwood Forest as we always have done, its close to home and we've never had any problems. The past couple of years I've booked the Center Parcs break and I've opted to pay a little bit more and have an 'executive' villa. I feel that it is well worth the extra money (this time about £20 extra per person). Our villa included ensuite bathrooms, not really too much of an issue this time as we were all family but previously I've been with friends and its great to have your own privacy. We had tvs in the bedrooms, not a big plus but good to have. A cd and dvd player, cd player very useful as I love music in a morning, dvd player was used on our night in. We had a bubbly bath in the master bathroom (it was called something fancier, but essentially it was a jacuzzi bath). A daily maid service, this was fantastic, I wanted to relax while on holiday and with three men it would have been me doing the washing up otherwise (the dishwasher also helped with this). Best of all we had a steam room in the villa, absolutely amazing. I had 20 mins in the steam room everyday and loved it. Even my younger brother who normally avoids the heat at all costs quite enjoyed it. The only problem is, our villa was a little shabby. They are offering 'new style' executive villas now. These are in bright colours with modern furniture. But they do not have the steam room so I didn't want to go for one of those. But this means that the older style executive villas are getting tatty. For example the shower in the master ensuite did not have a shower curtain/screen, so there was no option but to get water all over the bathroom floor. The door in the master bedroom was damaged at the bottom and looked like it had been kicked. Only small things, but still noticable. The setting of Center Parcs is what really makes it. It feels a bit strange at first but after a couple of hours its wonderful to have no cars around. Particularly ideal for youngsters learning to ride bikes. Its great to see squirrels, rabbits and lots of types of birds. I could sit in the living room n the morning and watch them for hours. I'm not brave enough to open the glass and feed them but have been in parties before that have done and they're very very tame! Initially the trip had been booked for my boyfriend and I and my brother, his partner and his little boy who is nearly two. However, this didn't happen. Past experience has taught me that you don't get everything out of Center Parcs unless you have a small child with you. Little ones are happy to watch and sometimes chase the wildlife all day, which provides entertainment for the adults. There is also lots of cheapish activities for them to do with their parents/adults. For a group of young people activities seem expensive. In the end we did the cheaper ones, crazy golf, badminton ten pin bowling and of course lots of swimming as that is free. The crazy golf course is definitely looking worse for wear so many leaves on the course that it is difficult to play and the felt stuff (sorry not sure of the technical term!) is ripped. But it only cost £4 to do nine holes and if you don't do the ninth one you can sneak around and do the other nine (obviously I'm not speaking from experience here!). Badminton was good, it cost £8ish for two of us to play including raquet hire and as we were the first pair on court for the day we were allowed to play early for no extra cost. Bowling was fine, although the balls got stuck at the bottom a couple of times and the bar staff weren't exactly rushing to sort it out which is a bit of a problem when you pay for 45 or 55mins and not per game. Swimming was good as usual. The whole swimming area is kept at a lovely warm temperature. There is a baby pool, a pool for toddlers with a pirate theme, the main pool that the waves are in (pretty rough only for very good swimmers) and the outdoor pool that leads to the rapids. The rapids are always fun, again pretty rough, I had a nasty bruise on my hip come Friday! They are not good for kids as the last drop particularly can hold you under the water, unless you are prepared for this it can be pretty scary. I've done this for years and can remember my dad being ready to fish me out at the bottom, so not too much of a problem. There is also a cold plunge pool between 16 and 19 degrees which doesn't sound so bad but is a shock to the system, always fun to watch the faces of people when they jump in. We ate out a few times at the Pancake House, Cafe Rouge and Hucks. Food was good at all three and the service was excellent. We also had numerous burgers and icecream by the pool, the food was fine but the service pretty slow, no worse than what you'd get from a fast food chain though. All in all Center Parcs is starting to look a little worn and needs a refurb. Splash out for an exec villa. Take a small child and plenty of money!
I have been a full time student for the past three years. In that time I became very attached to my day time tv viewing. When I joined the 'real world' of work I faced the harsh reality that I would no longer get my daily fix of the intellectual stimulant that is Jeremy Kyle. But I need not fear because Sky + solved this problem. Sky + allows you to record ny programme you want by simply pressing the record button. You can also series link programmes, this means the box will automatically record any series you want. This is ideal for when you are caught late at work as you don't miss out on anything. Another aspect of Sky+ that I love is the fact that you can pause TV. For example my mum always seems to ring in the middle of Hollyoaks, but when I pause my Sky+ I can happily chat away rather than trying to cut the conversation short. Previously Sky+ has been thought to be expensive and at first it was, but now I feel its reasonable. I managed to get my Sky+ box for free, I only paid for installation which was around £30. As for my subscription I pay £19 per month. I don't have the movies or the sports because we wouldn't really watch these and they cost considerably more. £19 would not cover a night out for me alone, so I think Sky+ is worth it. There is a deal on at the minute, if you get a friend to recommend you to Sky+ they get £50 worth of M&S vouchers and you get your box for free. If you don't know anyone who has got Sky+ there are plenty of people online who are willing to 'recommend' you and they will normally give you half of their M&S vouchers. The only possible down side to Sky+ is that your box is not covered by any kind of warranty from Sky. If anything goes wrong with it it is your resposibility. You can pay for coverage from Sky which is around £7 per month, but personally I don't bother as I have never known anyones Sky+ box to stop working. The Sky+ box looks modern in white and fits in very nicely with my boyfriend's Xbox. It is very very easy to operate. There is a way to text your Sky+ box when you have forgotten to set something to record. I would thoroughly recommend Sky+ to anyone. I now find it strange to be at a friend's who hasn't got Sky+. I find it odd that you have to watch a programme at a set time.
My parents have had Tag watches for as long as I can remember, and I have tried my mum's on countless times. I have looked longingly into many a jewellers window at specifically this watch. When my 21st birthday came my parents suprised me with my Tag Heuer Formula One. The watch comes in a selection of different colour faces, white, black and pick that I know of. You can have either leather strap or a stainless steel bracelet style strap. If I would have been given the choice I'd have had a pink face with a stainless steel bracelet. However, my parents chose the black face with the black leather strap. So, is the watch worth the £1295 price tag? The 120 diamond bezel looks absolutely stunning without looking too 'showy'. The face is sapphire cut. I am a very clumsy person and have yet to scratch it, so I feel that it is actually unscratchable as Tag promises. The Formula One women's watch does not have any clever 'gadgety' functions on it. If you want a watch that can tell you the time in four different countries and is a stopwatch at the same time then I would advise you to get a different Tag. My brother's can do all those clever things, but frankly they do not appeal to me. As you would expect with any watch of that price it is water resistant upto 200m. You may be thinking that this is a little excessive as who would go anywhere near that deep with a watch like this. But I leave mine on at all times, including swimming, even down slides and diving in. I like the fact that although the watch has lots of diamonds on it, it still looks subtle. Most people don't have a clue what it is, which I quite like. But, I am planning on upgrading mine with a steel bracelet at a cost of £300. This is because the two rubber bits on the strap that you tuck the strap under have both broke. The first one a couple of weeks after having my watch, at this point I was so besotted I didn't want to have to give it back while it got fixed. When the second one broke a few months down the line I took the watch back, with my two year international guarantee. As it turns out the guarantee only covers the acutal watch not the strap. So I am currently saving up to get a new steek bracelet on it. But, in the meantime I am still wearing it everyday and it hasn't fallen off. All in all this watch will last you a lifetime, and it will never look dated. It is money well spent.
I put some real thought into getting my Fiesta. It was the first car that I bought myself with no say so from my parents. It was also intended to be a car for my boyfriend and I to share, as he was getting rid of his old banger. So, needless to say this car was very important to me. I test drove lots of cars before I decided on my Fiesta. Namely a 206, 307, Focus, Polo, Clio, Ibiza and a Punto. In the end I got a good deal on my '05 Fiesta. It was less than six months old and had 10,000 miles on the clock. So I forked out my £4 500, a fortune to a student and drove home with a huge smile on my face. So...three years down the line and 45,000 miles later did i make the right choice? The car has needed minimum work on it despite higher than average use. It is serviced every 8,000 miles ish and other than the price of oil and filters I haven't spent anything else on maintainence. I still think the car looks current, something which its '05 competitors do not, think '05 clio and 206. Although this is perhaps about to change as Ford have recently brought out a new shape Fiesta. Nevertheless I still think it looks good. The car still feels tight, with no strange noises. Mine is only a 1.25 so it is not blindingly quick. However, I went from a 1 litre Corsa to my Fiesta so I appreciate the little bit of speed that it does have. It is more than nippier enough around town, but it would benefit from a bit more on the motorway. Fuel economy is good at around 38mpg, but as I said mine is regularly serviced so it is probably a very good example. The handling of the car is largely good, but there have been a few scary moments when I have exited a roundabout a bit too quickly and I've felt nervous that it may tip. Mine is in Moondust Silver, a colour which some would say is boring, but it hardly shows the muck and disguises any small scratches. The interior of the car wears well as it is black and with a good hoover looks as good as the day I bought it. The dashboard comes clean very easily with some interior wipes. The LX version is the basic model, but it isn't primitive. Mine has a CD player, heated electric mirrors, and remote central locking. It also has a brilliant heated front screen, which saves me scraping my windscreen on cold mornings, I can't tell you enough how brilliant this is. However the LX doesn not have air conditioning, granted last summer I'd have hardly used it, but there were days when it would have come in handy. It also comes with plastic wheel trims, a bit of a downer, but I bought second hand official Fod wheels. But to be honest the wheel trims were fine. A male friend owns a Suzuki Swift which I think looks very nice. However, he hates his horn as it sounds very 'girlie'. In comparison my Fiesta sounds 'meaty' enough to earn you some respect, if you are the type of driver to use your horn that is. Space in the car is excellent. It can comfortably fit five adults. Boot space is again very good, better than my brother's 'sensible' Renault Megane. However there are some minor points in the car that slightly irritate. The seat belts seem to be half way down the car, this is particularly difficult for my boyfriends mum as she has trouble with her back. There is also a lack of cup holders, it takes a serious amount of skill to get a drive through for two home with no pop spilt, as there is only one cup holder. These are only small things but they do start to niggle after a while.
My boyfriend is a huge fan of Ben and Jerry's icecream. But as I am now the breadwinner I have been attempting to curb his habbit. Hence me buying the Sainsbury's Cookie and Cream Dairy Ice Cream. The tub costs £2 which means it is considereably cheaper than Ben and Jerry's so a good start. When you first open the tub it looks absolutely delicious, with lashings of chocolate sauce on top, scrummy. However, unlike Ben and Jerry's the Sainsbury's ice cream is not the same throughout. The chocolate sauce is just on top, to entice you in. Anyone who buys cookie icecream is buying it for the cookie dough pieces inside, and the ones in the icecream are gorgeous. Resulting in my boyfriend and I fighting for them with our spoons when we share a tub. Unfortunately these cookie dough pieces are few and far between. The icecream itself is lovely and creamy and scoops very easily, something which Ben and Jerry's does not. In conclusion I would say that the Sainsbury's icecream is good as an everyday dessert. But if you want a treat stick to the Ben and Jerry's, you can tell the difference.