I have been an Orange / EE customer for 15 years and a couple of years ago I switched to PAYG as I was annoyed with the large bills that I was receiving and it seemed ( it is ) that it was an expensive hire purchase on a piece of hardware – 12 month contracts with free replacements and voicemail changed to 24 month contracts with no freebies chucked in. Suddenly instead of feting the customers it seemed like the customers were made to feel honoured to use / pay for the service.
Anyway I got on with Orange, finding out after 6 months that you could buy packages of minutes and texts and web use for a fiver a throw – only for these to go up to £7.50 quite quickly.
The final straw with Orange’s thieving bastard system (oops ) was that if you buy say 100 minutes and start using them and then think ” oh no if i finish these off by accident I will start paying 25p a minute so you buy another 100 minutes (£7,50 ) thinking good I’ve got 135 minutes left. The system then starts using up the new minutes ( they last a month from date of purchase by the way ) before the old ones are used up so if you don’t speak too much your initial top up’s remaining 35 minutes expire whilst you chat on the newly purchased minutes.
So I looked up on Giffgaff and saw that for 12 pounds a month I can get what would cost me probably 35 on EE/ Orange – they have a nice system which notifies me of my balance at all times and the website does the same.
This is not paid for this post, just I felt I oughtta share my displeasure of previous supplier and my pleasure of finding a good new one.
I have been visiting Bantham Beach a few times of late for a surf and a trip around the South Hams. I love it, love the drive, be it the 303 or via Blandford way and then swing past Exeter and then down to the Dartmouth peninsula and its just beautiful.
The Old Parsonage, Devon is just such a luxurious place to stay and is at the gateway to the South Hams and Kingsbridge, Salcombe area. Just love it, the local pub, tyhe Malsters Arms is a very atmospheric place and the gardens and grounds are just perfect.
Check the place out at The Old Parsonage B&B Harbertonford Devon – its not far from Totnes and a spits distance from a lot of beauty. We are talking luxury bed and breakfast as well.
Creating the perfect look for a beautiful wedding involves a great deal of preparation. Arguably the most important part of the process is finding the wedding dress and bridesmaids’ outfits. This can take days of research, in order to find the dresses that will compliment each other. The bride’s outfit is the focal point of the wedding ceremony and will be under close scrutiny from the guests.
To compliment these special dresses, it is essential that the jewellery worn by the bride and bridesmaids is extra special. Wedding bands for the bride and groom are of particular importance, but so too are the other pieces of jewellery that can give a dress a completely original look. A low cut or open neck dress cries out for a necklace or choker and this can be enhanced with a pair of drop earrings.
Bare arms require bangles or charm bracelets which make excellent gifts for the bridesmaids. If you have a particular design in mind but are unable to find it or are dissatisfied with anything ready-made that you see on the high street, an alternative approach may be to have bespoke jewellery created especially for the occasion. A sympathetic independent jeweller will be happy to work with you and combine his or her design ideas with your own.
You can sketch your own ideas, cut images from magazines or go completely with suggestions from the jewellery designer. Consider what materials and stones to include in the designs. Gold comes in a variety of hues, from reds and oranges through to yellows and creamy shades. Platinum is ever popular and will compliment any colour of outfit.
If you are traditional you will probably opt for diamonds as the stone of choice. However, there are many beautiful coloured precious stones that can look fabulous with contrastingly coloured fabrics. The white or cream dress will look great with any colour of stone. When thinking about designs, you may prefer a traditional design that will not date over time, or choose instead a highly contemporary style.
Either way, your design will be unique to you. Consider how you are going to use the piece of jewellery after the big day. It is best to design a piece that is going to be wearable to other events, or even one that can be worn proudly on a daily basis.
Take advice from the jewellery designer wherever possible, as he or she will more than likely have experience in these matters. Choose a designer on the basis of recommendations from friends, or look at some jewellery designers’ websites in order to get a feel for their particular style.
It is a good idea to select a designer that you can meet face to face in order to track their progress, embellish or alter designs and have fittings for rings. This way, you will not be disappointed when you see the finished products.
A bespoke piece of jewellery made especially for your wedding is a lovely way in which to mark the occasion, representing a beautiful keepsake that can be worn again and again, each time bringing back happy memories of the day.
The Nokia Lumia range is an ever-expanding family of Windows Phone handsets created by this famed Finnish manufacturer. There are currently two distinct Lumia models on offer, with more in the pipeline to be launched later in the year.
Nokia Lumia 800
The Lumia 800 is the flagship handset which was built to show off Nokia`s fine attention to aesthetic detail along with Microsoft`s impressive Windows Phone platform. From a hardware perspective you get a 1.4GHz single core processor, an eight megapixel camera and around 16GB of onboard storage space to use as you see fit. The Lumia 800 benefits from its premium grade polycarbon shell, which is hard wearing and also available in a variety of colours. Around the front you get a 3.7 inch AMOLED screen which is very easy on the eye and pumps out rich colours and deep blacks at all times.
The Lumia 710 is Nokia`s more affordable entry in this range. While its display is the same size as the Lumia 800`s at 3.7 inches, it uses more typical LCD technology rather than the high end AMOLED system which is present on the costlier model. Thankfully it shares the same 1.4GHz processor as the Lumia 800 and so there is no notable performance difference between the two.
Nokia has harked back to its former use of removable covers to allow Lumia 710 users the option of swapping out the battery back plate for one of a different colour. This means you can reinvent the look and feel of the phone to a certain degree and helps it appeal to a younger audience.
As the Windows Phone experience on offer is consistent across the Lumia range it is worth considering as a whole. Version 7.5 of Microsoft`s mobile operating system is preinstalled and it brings with it plenty of perks.
The first comes in the form of full social networking integration. Facebook is tightly linked with almost every aspect of the phone, so you can easily add all of your contacts as soon as you sign in with your account. You can also share pictures, videos and your thoughts direct to your profile without firing up the dedicated Facebook application. Microsoft recently made it easier for Twitter fans to achieve the same levels of functionality, so it really is easy to socialise with a Nokia Lumia handset.
Windows Phone is respected thanks to its web browsing experience, which is delivered via a scaled-down version of Internet Explorer. You also get support for multiple webmail accounts from services like Gmail and Hotmail. The excellent onscreen QWERTY keypad is easy to use and has good autocorrect functionality, which speeds up ty
Xbox Live integration means that you can earn achievements and Gamerscore when you download compatible titles from the Windows Markeplace. You can also see when your friends are online and compare your performance without having to fire up your Xbox 360 console
In all the Nokia Lumia range is as good a reason as any to get cash for mobiles by recycling your old handset so that you can invest in an upgrade.
The xPeria X10i recently was provided a most welcome update to Android 2.3.3 (Gingerbread). Having run for almost a year previously on Android 1.6 this was almost unexpected in its swiftness of delivery.
As with any updates there is a worry about losing data. I backed up most apps which I like to SD card using Astro and did a few additional syncs with the various programs which whack data onto the cloud on my behalf. I was a bit unsure about the way in which contacts were prioritised with gmail but a quick check using the laptop confirmed that recent additions had made it onto Google’s cloud system so all appeared happy.
Bookmarks are not so important so I left that. I ran the update using Sony Ericsson PC Suite and all went superbly. The new software gave the phone a hugely improved user experience, all appeared to run more smoothly and the homescreen was much better. Mediascape had gone and timescape was quickly removed from the display.
It was nice to have pinch and zoom multitouch as I had read a year ago that the xperia hardware would not support multitouch so I had not really seen anyway in which they could add such a feature, still it works.
I was pleased to add my most used programs into folders on the homescreen, in fact I was so efficient that I did not really need more than 2 (of the five).
I have stopped searching for home screen mods now it looks so nice, I did find beautiful widget which gives an HTC Sense type digital clock along with weather on the homescreen, very nice. All in all it was a success. The final test was installing copilot ( my favourite Sat Nav for Android) – this worked a treat. It is interesting that the latest Android update included Facebook as standard though I had to actively search and install Google Plus.
Luckily the falling off phase in paddleboarding is shorted than in other watersports and I was soon getting to grips with it.
A kind of mad fervour gripped me over the past 14 days and I have been out on my SUP almost as many times.
Unlike surfing it is not tide dependent, nor swell. Strong winds can be a bummer but you learn to cope.
Ive sort of got the hang of paddling on both flat and choppy seas. I have ridden a few decent waves but am a long way from managing a turn on the SUP [I think you need to use the long stick thing.], will persevere though of course.
I feel happier to be able to get in the sea more often and can feel my overall fitness levels on the up.
I strongly recommend that anyone wanting to get into Stand Up Paddleboarding Brighton to check out http://www.tribalwave.org as they run a series of workshops, classes and lessons ( even mobile tuition ) in the Brighton and Sussex area and have the experience and patience to get you riding properly and safely and really digging it.
Much has been talked about pension release schemes over the last few years but is unlocking tax free cash from pension really a good idea?
Changes in Pension legislation introduced in April 2006 made it easier for people to take up to a 25% tax free lump sum from their occupational or personal pension schemes, while still being able to reinvest the remaining money, carry on working and carry on contributing to their pension scheme, subject to their schemes specific rules. Initially the earliest that you could start to receive your pension benefits was 50 years old but as of April 2010 the age restriction has risen to 55 years old. With a steady increase in the number of people unemployed and redundancies on the increase is releasing money from your pension, possibly the most tax efficient saving scheme you have available, really a good idea?
Pension Release or Pension Unlocking, as it has become known, is certainly not a suitable option for the majority of people. By releasing cash from your pension scheme early you are reducing the pension pot you have accumulated over your working life, which will almost inevitably lead to a possibly substantial reduction in your retirement income. With life expectancy rates rising rapidly and the government set to increase the age at which we can receive out State Pension you need to think very carefully about whether you will be able to meet your living expenses in retirement on a potentially dramatically reduced income.
You may well find that in order to release the tax free cash from your pension, your pension will have to be transferred to a different pension provider which could incur financial penalties from your provider and you may well lose any final guarantee benefits offered by your original pension provider. If you are in receipt of some forms of State benefit you might find that an injection of cash will take you over your personal savings threshold and you may loose your benefit entitlement.
As far back as 2003, in an interview with David Kenmir, Director of the Investment Firms Division at the Financial Services Authority on Radio 4’s Money Box, he was quoted as saying, “It will affect your income and retirement for the rest of your life – there are likely to be better ways to address any short term cash needs so think very carefully about it.” In a previous interview on the same program he had warned, “Releasing cash can sound very tempting. But people need to consider whether it’s in their best financial interests. If you take cash out of your pension fund you will devalue your pension when you get to retirement.” Several pension release firms have already been fined by the FSA for failing to warn consumers properly of the risks of cashing in their pension early and the FSA are keeping a strict eye on firms involved with pension release to make sure that customers are always given appropriate advice.
Make sure that before you embark on any pension unlocking scheme you receive expert financial advice. Do shop around when looking for a suitable adviser; it is easy to contact the FSA to check the registration of any firm offering financial advice. Make sure that you understand implications of what you are doing and the fact that a reduced income during your retirement may well spoil previous plans that you have made. It is recommended that pension release only be considered after all other options for raising money have been eliminated and you may find that some firms that provide a pension unlocking service may not be able to offer you advice on other options that might be available.
Be careful, think very hard, is this really the best option?