Ok so we have been so busy the last year and not had chance to update the blog with all the stuff we have been upto. We’ve had holidays/essays to write/food to eat/dogs to walk etc etc but will get to uploading our pictures of places we’ve been and seen. Also, Will has been buying lots of camera/telescope equipment so stay tuned for detailed reviews/pics if you into that kind of thing.
We got this through eBay but were pretty unimpressed by how it fixed to our bike, certainly not wanting to put our little yorkie Ruby at risk with! So back it goes. See the flaws in this video. I think we’re going to try a Topeak basket from Evans cycles next
Just a short(ish) video review we took of this great campsite a couple of miles out of Prestatyn. Giving a bit of a guided tour and description of the facilities. Also giving some ideas on a couple of places/things to do locally on foot with directions. I had some things to say at the end so I used a bit of footage of our Yorkie Ruby enjoying the large dog walking field.
This is a great campsite. Mix of touring caravans, motorhomes and tents. Very friendly (including for well behaved dogs), well laid out, clean, but not too mega formal. Walking distance from the sea and dunes where there is tons of wildlife, but also backed up by easy access into the countryside. I only hinted at it, but we rode our bikes one day from the campsite to Prestatyn and then took the Prestatyn to Dyserth Way (http://goo.gl/bDRa7) which is a disused railway line that they converted to a cycle path between the two towns. Great route up into the hills to Dyserth which has a great pub and an impressive waterfall. Even if you don’t have bikes you can walk it.
We’d also highly recommend a tour around Prestatyn town for lots of individual shops, a wealth of charity shops, but also this new shopping area they built also in centre of town which is pretty good (including Next, M&S (food too), Next, River Island, Tesco etc. free parking.
It took about an hour from Liverpool via Runcorn. I hope you enjoy – We want to move there!
We have been changing the lighting in our communal rooms from the tacky Ikea halogens (which bulbs seemed to go continuously) to light fittings that take standard bulbs (read: energy efficiency drive). We could have gone with your standard pendant set from b&q such as this but instead opted for a fashionable Plumen pendant set. I was not impressed I’m afraid as can be seen in this video:
No instructions included
No inside to the ceiling rose so a very unsatisfactory quality of fitting – you will either have a gap between rose and ceiling or be in fear of it falling down with your valuable glass lamp shade
The wire is far from the fabric wire as advertised – it’s a black plastic wire with faux fish net covering.
Instead make your own set for peanuts out of black wire, a black lamp holder and painted black ceiling rose, or look around for something higher quality like this remade 1940′s bakerlite set
We made this short video which explains how we finally managed to put up our new Pax Tonnes wardrobe despite our wonky uneven floorboards. This wardrobe is great at what it does to keep all of our clothes together and organised rather than strewn across the floor. It’s got the space and organisation options we required. As our house is quite old (1900′s red brick terrace, high ceilings, wooden floorboards) we were worried that anything that resembled ‘fitted wardrobe’ would not suit, but the Pax Tonnes with glass doors and asian inspired cherry blossom design fits in very well, does not do away with the heritage of the house but instead just is.
But construction must surely be easier in a new build with level flooring. Our floor must have sunk slightly, as the joists and floorboards aren’t level any more. Not noticably so, but when putting up each of the components of the wardrobe (four individual cupboards screwed together) I noticed up to an inch difference in height. And for the rail and door system to fit/work they must be completely in line. Hence I packed each cupboard using varying amounts of ply to obtain an equal height. It took more than one effort.
In this video we took a look at the Kindle Fire mini tablet device. This was from a viewpoint of which we have been using the Kindle 3 ebook reader for a number of years now, so it was interesting to compare and contrast both models. What is apparent is that these two devices serve two very different purposes and both are good at what they do.
If you want to get this device predominantly to read ebooks (like the ones you get from the Amazon Store then you still absolutely cannot go wrong with an ‘e-ink’ device such as the original Kindles (i.e. Kindle 3). The screen is much nicer on the eyes as it does not require a backlight which could otherwise be tiring to look at – but it’s only monochromatic which means good for black and white text and pictures. The battery life is astounding, probably about a month with reading every day. And it’s simple and easy to use. Works with the Amazon store, plus easy to email books to it (for example free books from Project Gutenburg). It does have a simple (albeit slow) web browser, can play mp3s through it’s onboard speakers, and does things like text-to-speech.
On the otherhand if you want something a bit more exciting, above and beyond just than consuming ebooks, then the Kindle Fire is your fella. This does it all: ebooks, movies, videos, music, newspapers, comics, the web. It is definitely a veritable iPad killer, the screen is more than adequate, media playback is good, the browser fully equipped, and it’s about a third of the price. Out of the box the Kindle Fire comes with a month free trial of LoveFilm which has a massive collection of videos to watch, which stream through your wifi connection (normally £5/month). There are also free trials for newspaper subscriptions. We thought that for reading ebooks however, the screen would feel too bright to use at length, also it was quite a hefty weight. Plus the battery will last you about 4-6 hours so get ready to charge everyday (or will it become just another piece of kit that is too much hassle to keep remembering to charge and you eventually top using regularly?)
So in conclusion:
Great for rich-media consumption
Make sure you factor in £5/month for the LoveFilm subscription (worth it if you go for the Fire)
Make sure you’ve got wifi in the places that you intend to use LoveFilm
The superior ebook reader
Light and confortable screen to use
Simple menu system (screen reader for great accessibility)
We present videos from our honeymoon in Mexico that review the two hotels we stayed at, booked through Thomson holidays. The long and short of it is that we weren’t happy with initial hotel the Riu Playacar (our fault we didn’t work out what we wanted and also were a bit wowed with the trip to see through the marketing), so we paid for an upgrade to the Riu Palace Mexico which was much better for us, although even then we got a bit fed up with the whole all-inclusive thing (didn’t really sit with out usual individual choice of holiday. Anyway read on and watch them videos!
Initially we’d booked in at the Riu Playacar, Playa Del Carmen for the full two weeks. Fine for a holiday, but not for this one off occasion all the way over in Mexico, when you can get the same level pretty much standard closer to home.
A large bed but made up of two beds pushed together (ok maybe that’s the norm here but at this hotel no effort to create one large bed, i.e. separate sheets and quilt
Poor quality of spirits in the room. No brands apart from the tequila. The other spirits non-descript in label and taste and with these you’re not really tempted to use the all-inclusive because they’re not a pleasure to drink!
Entertainment hall right outside the balacony so feels like being on a Butlins camp ’til late at night
Food in the restaurants was ok but nothing more. Basically a large buffer restaurant where three-quarters of the food is weird mass produced garbage (colourful but basically chopped peppers and spam salads. Breakfast here was nice though. Then in evening there are two pop-up restaurants which are actually the one restaurant room split into two
The traders that the management let into the hotel compound tend to setup their stalls in a way that makes it difficult to walk around at night and spoil the tranquility.
It sounds like we’re really hard to please! There were some good things: the breakfast was great, and also the bloody mary’s the guy in the lobby bar serves up (actually better than the Riu Palace does).
Normally we’d be very happy with this, but not when we spent so much money with Thomsons, to go halfway across the world, on our one (and hopefully only) honeymoon!
So after a couple of days we made the decision that if we did not ask to be moved to another hotel, we’d end up not enjoying our honeymoon. So we the Thomson rep organised a transfer to the Riu next door the Riu Palace. Unfortunately Thomson were unable to give us any kind of concessions to us on an upgrade so we had to pay the extra (can’t really complain about this), but they also passed on a £400 ‘cancellation’ fee (really annoying considering it was actually an upgrade and they were taking more money from us for the paid upgrade). We paid up because we felt we had little choice, we tried to ask for money on return after looking into it but no joy, nice way to start married life with another £2k debt. We had bought premium seat upgrade on plane, multiple excursions etc. Moldy buggers! Any honeymooners flying with Thomson you might want to check our paperwork below.
Anyway gave us an opportunity to carry out a further video review, and in the end we were very pleased we did make the move. The general hotel accomodation was much more luxurious and facilitating. The grounds were nice to walk through. Lots more restaurant choices as detailed in the video.
All in all, looking back now, it’s amazing that we went to Mexico. It was very relaxing for us after all the tiring and worrying preparations of our wedding. And we had a good time.
As an all-inclusive virgin I’m not sure I’d do it again. Foods an enjoyable part of the holiday for us as I’m sure it is for a lot of people, not just pile it high stuff, but tasting food that is unique from an area, traditional and basic quality. Neither hotels could deliver on this. I guess this is because they have to cut costs and they’re limited in their food selection being where they are on the Yukatan peninsula. But some of the restaurants were really hit and miss, and looking in the brochure they offer the same menus worldwide. The fusion restaurant ‘Krystal’ was absolutely dreadful! Most of the other restaurants absolutely piled on the salt into their dishes, and many dishes/sauces had some weird chlorine taste going on. Surprisingly the mexican food itself wasn’t up to much either (we did have good mexican food out one day when we visited Coba so we knew that it was about). The other tourists we spoke to were really surprised that we were there for two weeks – I guess that US visitors are there for shorter breaks during which time there is still a novelty factor. By the end of the holiday I was looking forward to getting back to our home kitchen and be the preparer of our own meals!
think wisely about what you are after. If you are after luxury see if you can find a smaller establishment that maybe provides just a bed and a breakfast but then leaves you and your tastebuds to make up your own mind for other meals out. See if you can get a better deal and time by staying in Europe. We had a fantastic holiday a couple of years ago at Palolem Beach in Goa India. We stayed at a place called Ciaran’s which was a small collection of beach huts, but didn’t feel like roughing it at all, very boho and beautiful and probably a good site cheaper than anything the Riu can do: http://ciarans.com/
In this video we talk about how we prepare our Christmas tree for the festivities, preparing it from it’s outdoor year-round life in the allotment, for it’s short break indoors in our warm home. We want the tree to have a long and happy life so we’ve picked up a few tips along the way to allow this over the four years we’ve had this particular tree.
We recommend looking for a tree with roots (otherwise it would die!), try and buy it from a reputable retailer/stockist as some trees marketed as “with roots” have some of the roots removed so that they are not suitable for growing on. Look for the smallest tree you can bear (and then a bit smaller) in order to have a cutesy Christmas tree that will last your family for many happy years to come! After Christmas is over look for a Terracotta pot, in which you can bury the tree on the ground, and the clay helps passage of moisture so that the tree can more easily draw moisture from the ground. Every few years pot on.
Being based in Liverpool we bought our tree from the fantastic Aigburth Hall Nursery (~£25), but we also say very small growable trees at B&Q (£~14). Any questions/comments either post a comment here or back on the Youtube page.