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Are you curious about what people buy? Do you like shopping and want to see what's out there? Then the Shopping Blog is just for you!

All kinds of postings on all kinds of subjects - food, clothes, garden, homewares, beauty - and bargains! You name it, we like shopping, and we like to know what you like too. So if you've found a super bargain or something really good then please tell us! You can post on the page with the comments facility, or if you want to start a new thread of your own with your own blog entry you can email your write up and photos as jpegs to jane@theRabbitPatch.co.uk

Happy shopping!

 

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Wash and Wax

This might not be what you might immediately think of as shopping, but it was a transaction where money changed hands so it must qualify!

I got in my car yesterday and it looked like a dustbin! It was filthy from the sand and salt blown in the winds earlier in the week, and one of the seagulls had been using it for target practise.


On my way to Blackpool I was pondering where there was a car wash and petrol station, and remembered the new one at Sainsbury’s, which I haven’t used before.

Much to my surprise, there is no car wash, but there was a hand car wash across the road in what had once been a petrol station in a previous life, so I decided to give it a go.

Well we complain when we don’t like things, which is why I had to tell you how good this was. A friend of mine is a big fan of the one on Dickson Road but I’d never been before, but I will go again!

hand car wash at Blackpool

A young man squirted soap all over the car with a garden sprayer before the first blast with the jetwash and being told to edge forward a touch to get to the rest of the wheels.

Then I was told to move forward before another squirt with a different garden sprayer, which I deduced must be frothy wax, which was washed off with jet wash no 2.

I was told to move forward again when another bloke dried the car off with a shammy in each hand, before swapping to a pair of clean microfibre cloths. While all this was going on the doors were pulled open to wipe the sills and another lad was PAINTING THE TYRES with black stuff.

£5 swapped hands in exhange for an air freshener and I was sat there, speechless for once, at the ballet they’d just performed. Amazing, a clean car, and what a team. Now I might have lived a sheltered life and you might think I've finally lost the plot, but it really was hard working Blackpool at it’s best.

 

First Mention of Christmas

Calendars on sale eight months early?

Calendars on sale in April

I know that there are shops where you can buy calendars and Christmas products all year round.

But really, do we need to have 2016 calendars on sale in WH Smith's in APRIL?

Correct me please if I'm wrong, but this must surely be the first mention of next year. Have you seen unusually early Christmas and New Year products on sale anywhere else?

If you have please drop me a message - email jane@theRabbitPatch.co.uk or message on Facebook. 

I ask you!

 

Visit Fylde Coast Recommends: Folding Camping Picnic Table

How many uses for a camping table?

Folding camping picnic table

Picnic table for painting crafts

I saw this table in Home Bargains at Freeport the other day when I was there with our Chrissie Blogger. We didn't buy one, but we should have. We've got one of the bigger folding tables in our storecupboard off the office and they are excellent.

I popped back to the Freeport today for a meeting with John, the lovely centre manager, so I went back to Home Bargains for a table. 

It looks like they are selling fast so if you want one you need to be quick. We wanted one to use in the garden and on the balcony, to put cups and food out of the reach of the dogs when we are outside in that heatwave which they reckon is coming.  

However, Daddy Rabbit had other ideas and promptly nobbled it as his new painting table. For now. 

Picnic table, £9.99 at Home Bargains. 

 

Shopping Blog is Back!

It's a while since we've posted anything but the shopping blog is back...

I admit it, I like shopping. Sometimes I find things that are really good value, or just really good. 

So I'm going to resurrect the Shopping Blog and use it as a place to share all those great things that you might want to know about. 

I'd like to think that most of them can be found right here on the Fylde Coast but in a modern age of internet shopping it's likely that there will be things that are available online and probably from national names. 

Since I've got a huge amount of things to do, it's also likely to be brief too!

If you find any finds, by all means let me know!

 

Product Review - Canon 600D Digital SLR Camera

Josh reviews this DSLR camera for us, based on his own experience with it

Josh Sanderson is just 15, and he's got a keen and growing interest in photography. He contacted us here at Visit to ask if we'd like some of his photos, and maybe a product review. We're firm believers that there's nothing like some personal experience of a product or service to help you with your purchasing decision, so we snapped his hand off!

Here's what Josh thinks to his camera, the Canon  600D.

A very competitive DSLR

 

Camera review from Josh Sanderson of Canon 600D

The Canon 600D (or T3i) has been in the limelight ever since it was released in February 2011 and has stayed in the interest of photographers and film makers alike. One of the main reasons this product is so impressive is simply the price, you can get the camera for around £450 which is very competitve for a 18.0 megapixel DSLR.

Building shot taken with Canon 600D

 

The predecessor of this model is the canon T2i and for such a price it was unknown if the T3i could boost image quality for under the £650 mark... But to the surprise of almost everyone, on release it was one of the hottest DSLR's on the market boasting full HD 1080p video recording at 24,25, and 30 fps (Frames per second) and Hd 720p at 50 and 60 fps. At the time this was extremely impressive and still is!

Perfect for beginners and experts

The camera is perfect for people just starting out with photography up to experts due to the amount of modes this camera has. For beginners I would suggest starting on the auto mode. This is a green dial ontop of the camera and when you want to take a picture you just have to point and shoot because the camera chooses all the settings for you.

View photo taken with Canon 600D

This helps with you understanding the different settings and what they should be at. Once you are feeling confident you can move onto one of the modes which lets you choose one setting and the camera chooses the rest of the settings to compliment what you have chosen. For the experienced, don't worry there is a full manual mode so you have full control of your shot.

Included kit...

The kit lens that the camera comes with is an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS zoom lens so you can get close to your subject even from afar but if this isn't quite enough zoom for you, maybe the 3-10x digital zoom will keep you going until a new lens.

View photo taken with Canon 600D

One of the most obvious changes from the T2i is the new 3 inch LCD articulating screen. Previously if you wanted a screen like this you would have to buy a extra screen or a DSLR camera in excess of £750 but Canon have clearly raised the bar and other company’s, mainly Nikon are following in their footsteps. This is fantastic news for anyone interested in getting a good DSLR on the cheap. It also sports a built in flash and hot-shoe meaning you can connect your own accessories for you own needs such as handles, flashes, lights, microphones Etc.. If you want a happy medium between movie mode and still images there is a 3.6fps continuous shooting mode which isn’t bad but admittedly, isn’t the best.

..and extra requirements

Although the price is cheap you still have to spend some more cash to get the best out of the camera. You are going to want a SD card which I suggest at least 8Gb. If you are planning on shooting with the movie mode you will need a bigger card, probably 16Gb or higher and class 6 or higher. The higher the “class” on the card the faster the data can be written onto the card therefore if you shoot movie mode with a class 5 or lower card , the movie can look jumpy or miss out frames.

My recommendations

Due to my experience with the camera I would very highly recommend this to anyone looking for a DSLR for cheap that shoots video as well as still images. I have also noticed that it is very reliable and not too heavy to carry around. Just be careful if you want to buy another lens that has a canon Ef-S mount on it otherwise you will have a lot of trouble trying to connect the lens with the camera body... A lot!

 

Shrinking Stuff

'Visit' have noticed that products are shrinking, and we're not supposed to notice?

I'm a bit anal when I go in the supermarkets. I'm quite happy to pay for things that are a good product and I'll cheerfully pay more to buy free range eggs because I like to think the hens are treated better, and I hope that the premium meat products that I've always paid that little bit more for didn't contain any horse meat...

However, I also object to paying more for things that are ordinary and run of the mill. So I am one of the thousands of people who spends far more than they should or need to in Home Bargains and B&M - because it's all such good value for money and of course they are all things that you just can't live without... yeah, right!

So, I'm happy to pay for quality products, and object to paying more for ordinary stuff, but what about the fact that retailers and producers seem to think that we're all blind or daft?

I don't know whether you've noticed but things are shrinking. The cost of living is constantly going up and it's a well known fact that manufacturers have been making products smaller in order to keep them at the same price point. I think the first thing that struck me was the Cadbury's Cream Egg. When I was little they seemed to be huge, and every year they got that little bit smaller, and smaller and now they seem to be a bites worth and they're gone. I know when you're a child that everything seems much larger than it really is, but really.

We drifted into living on the Fylde full time, and when we eventually sold our house in Yorkshire one of the things to come out of the kitchen was an old box of soap powder. We use what we call 'flumps' - the little squashy liquid tabs in the washer - but always keep a box of powder for delicate things that need to be washed in the sink. Well, the original box must have been at least over 5 years old (we'd also left the house empty for a long while) and then a few weeks ago we got to the bottom of it and bought a replacement. I got the shock of my life when I saw how small they are now. Just look at this photo.

Shrinking soap powder

My mum's got a thing for Special K and she's been ranting about the boxes shrinking in exactly the same way.

Right, my next complaint is the multi pack bag of crisps. I love crisps - most flavours, but particularly salt and vinegar. With chocolate ideally. (Yes, it might sound vile but it really is very nice and I'm not the only one who thinks so). I buy multipacks like most people do, because a) there are slightly fewer in them and therefore less calories per sitting, and b) we eat a lot of them... especially when Kevin and I both like crisps. In fact, Kevin is a crisp monster - I find empty bags stuffed down the back of the taps in the bathroom, in the shed, all over the place, but that's another story.

I was so outraged at how few crisps there were in this bag I took a photo before I ate them.

Hardly any crisps in the bag

In fact, looking at the photo, I think they are the deep ridged Walkers ones. A few weeks after I took this photo I had another bag of the same type, and when I opened them we were all indignant. I have never seen a bag of crisps that looked so empty in all my life!

Which begs the question, do manufacturers all think we're blind and daft? Or is it more an issue of if you want them you pay your money and you take your choice?

 

Christmas Food Shopping

Love it or hate it, we've all got to do it, here's how we get round it....

Right, let me get this off my chest first, we have a weird Christmas by most people's standards, because we've dropped out of the rat race.

We spent a lifetime answering to convention, spending hundreds of pounds on presents and the whole three day celebration. We did the Christmas Eve, Day and Boxing Day thing with family, and then flopped in exhaustion.

Crackers

Now, there's just four of us, so we can do what we like. And that means nothing. We have Christmas lunch, a box of crackers and a walk on the beach. It feels a bit weird when you first go from one extreme to the other, but believe me, you get used to it very quickly!

Which brings me on to the business in hand. Food shopping. Now I can't say that supermarket food shopping is my favourite task of the week - I don't mind sauntering round Aldi or M&S (to go from one extreme to the other) at the weekend because I feel like it, but rushing round getting what we have to buy is another thing altogether, that frequently puts me in a bad mood. Especially when it always rains on supermarket day.

Like many people, we split up buying our extra things over the weeks leading up to Christmas and that spreads out the cost. The pigs in blankets, the Christmas cake (have you seen the price of them this year?) and my mum's favourite, the chocolate ganache Yule log - we have to have one of those.

I always find that juggling which day to go to the supermarket pre-Christmas is an art form. Go too early and everything has gone off, go too late and the shelves are empty, time it just right and the WHOLE OF LANCASHIRE is in the shop with you. One year in a previous life I went to the all night Tesco superstore at about 6am. Now I don't like Tesco and it's not a shop that I use very often, but it was the only nearby 24 hour one, so needs must and all that. It was brilliant - the shop was just about empty and I sailed round and got everything. I bought a cd, and in my usual absent minded style left it on the till when I packed up. When I went back to the shop for it, it was like a hell hole.

So what are we going to do this year? Well the pigs in blankets are languishing in the freezer, the cakes are in the cupboard, and the crackers are in the store room. We'll be going on our regular pilgrimmages to Asda and Sainsbury's as usual, albeit on a different day, with a trip to M&S at some time for all the nice things and a bird for Christmas Day. I've got my mincemeat and baking things all lined up, ready to answer to my biological clock that doesn't make babies but mince pies (when it's cold and wintery and especially at Christmas, I just have to bake). So we're all set here at the madhouse.

Now, what would I recommend?

Well, for us, the bird has to come from M&S - you only have one Christmas day in a year so better make it a good one. Yule log - often from Sainsbury's but this year we're giving Asda's extra special one a go, or whatever their premium range is, at £3. Brandy butter - well frankly my dad likes it so much that he'll eat it from anywhere and in vast quantities. Mince pies - got to have icing sugar on top if you're buying them ready made. Christmas pudding? Not for 3/4 of us - we've already planned for M&S sponge puddings instead. Christmas cake? Well the best one I've ever had our friend Pam made which doesn't really count in a shopping blog. Again, ours has come from Asda - just a small one because we're watching the calories too... Oh, and I've bought a box of florentines from Aldi.

I'm sure there will be lots of other things that we'll buy but that's all I can think of off the top of my head. Happy Christmas to you, whether you do like we do and do nothing - or have the street round! Just remember, that it's just another day!

 

A Trip to Fleetwood

Jane's been to Fleetwood this afternoon, working, but nonetheless visiting shops!

I’ve been to Fleetwood this afternoon, handing out postcards and talking to people about websites.

It’s an amazing place Fleetwood, when you open your eyes and really look at what’s there. And I’m even starting to work out how to find my way around without having to go round the coast road. Quite an achievement - I’ve been round in many a merry circle because I’ve got lost!

I started at the North Euston. It was quite packed, I think there was a funeral going on - there was certainly some kind of function. I like the North Euston, I’ve been to quite a few meals and events there and you can tell the difference between a family run business and a corporate machine.

Lighthouse Stationery Christmas Cards

Lighthouse Stationery was my next stop.

Now that’s a fascinating place if ever there was one, both for the stuff that they sell and for the people who go in there.

Derek, the owner, has a fabulous selection of old photos of Fleetwood that you can buy prints and cards of.

He’s got notecards and calendars on sale that show the best ones, plus Christmas cards with photos of current Fleetwood in the snow.

And possibly most other things that you didn’t know that you wanted until you saw them, including some really nice Parker pens which are ideal for Christmas.

Lighthouse Stationery Parker Pens

After Derek and I had put the world to rights and talked about Fleetwood In Bloom and signage for the town, I headed off to Lord Street.

I’ve never been in Pablos cafe before and I have to say it is very nice.

Linda, the owner, was telling me about how the people who want to see Fleetwood succeed have to stick together and help each other. How true. And I’ll include me in that.

Plush Fleetwood

I bobbed in and out of most of the shops, chatting and having a laugh as I went along, and finally ended up in Plush.

By this time it was going dark and I had still to pop into Asda for something for tea because we’d absent mindedly not bought anything on Tuesday when we normally go shopping, and I knew they’d be sat at home with their tongues hanging out waiting for food.

Plush windows

Jacqui was busy trimming the windows in Plush with fairy lights and some lovely, tasteful decorations.

I have to say the shop is the prettiest and most tasteful one I have been in so far, Christmas trimmings wise.

Plush Fleetwood

Inside there are pretty decorations hanging from the ceiling, with red hearts between. Jacquis favourite this year are the reindeers – particularly tame ones with teddies sat on their backs!

Reindeer at Plush

I’m on the same page though – although I’m not into Christmas I like the decorations that you can use all year round.

Since times are hard and friends are few, the new season Christmas decorations at Plush are multifunctional and you can leave them out all year round.

What a good idea – I’ve got odds and ends of things that were bought as tree hanging ornaments on door handles in my bedroom from years ago.

So that was my afternoon in Fleetwood.

I’ve handed out postcards in most of the shops down at the North Albert Street/market end of town, so while you are there next see if you can spot one and take it home as a souvenir!

 

Our new Online Shop

You don't have to trawl around now, looking for local products. We've found them and put them all in one place for you.

Fylde Coast online shop

Over the years we've bought a number of the local history books. You know, the ones with old photos and stories about the past. The kind of thing that your grandma could tell you but you never listened properly and never wrote it down. They're very popular as presents too, we've certainly spent our money on them in the past, and get them out every so often when something comes into conversation to remind you.

The trouble is, there's always a really limited selection in local shops. And they often sell out, or it's the last copy which is dog earred. And then because you've bought them for your dad, you can't remember exactly which ones you've had, so you end up with two.

Well now we've shortcut all that for you, with our new online shop. You can have a look on the bookshelf while your dad isn't looking, and then buy the ones you know he will enjoy. Your own copy that no one else has dog earred, straight to you in plain cover through the post.

We've started our online shop off on each site with a selection of products that are connected to each of the places on the Fylde Coast from Fleetwood to Lytham. You'll find books, prints, photos, and gifts, all with a local theme. Perfect for Christmas.

 

 

'What's that got to do with the price of eggs?'

‘What’s that got to to do with the price of eggs’, it’s an expression we all use, well at least I do, and frequently. Well, this has got nothing to do with the price of eggs, more everything else...

The breaking news off my iPad toting dad this afternoon was that gas and electric is going up by an astronomical amount – something hilarious like 9%. I don’t know why they don’t wear a mask and come and shoot us all, it’s about that near to daylight robbery. It's enough to make you wish that they’d get fracking... and quickly.

British Gas

Our utility bills are big enough as it is. We work at home and funnily enough, live at home too, so in winter our heating is on all day long. And because we’ve got a home office we have it on all over the house too, in living areas and for work. Then you have the lights on for all hours of course, even though I’m always going through the house turning them all off.

Our gas and electric comes from British Gas and I do the read your meter every month thing and submit them online. It doesn’t seem two minutes between peering into the cupboard between one month and the next. In the summer we seemed to be miles in front of ourselves and I think at one point we were about £500 in the black with one of them. I didn’t break my neck to get it paid back because I knew when it went cold we’d soon spend it.

We have an outdoor thermometer in the garden near the kitchen and when I get up at silly o’clock in winter I peer out of the window to see what temperature it is outside. I’m getting quite expert at temperature forecasting – 10 degrees or higher means that I don’t need to put the heating on unless it’s windy of course (it’s a subtlety but it makes a difference) and 5 or less means I certainly do. If it carries on going up at this rate, we’ll not be putting it on until the thermometer is below zero.

I wouldn’t mind but it’s like all the holes they dig in the road, that must cost a fortune in themself, and why are they always doing it? At the end of Westbourne Avenue at Cleveleys they seem to always be digging holes near the tram tracks. Every so often, out come the barriers and down the men go – into the holes.

I wonder if it’s the price of gas that’s pushing everything up in the shops? It certainly can’t be helping. ‘They’ try to tell you that the price of goods is stable, but it will be when ‘they’ keep changing the goods in the standard shopping basket which they measure inflation by. I know that when I go in the shops and particularly the supermarket, that things are going up every week.

Asda Custard

Take today for example, when I squeaked ‘SIXTY ONE PENCE’ at the top of my voice in the custard aisle in Asda. Delia Smith I am not, and powder, packet custard is just fine for me. In big quantities preferably because I really like custard. When we discovered it, and not that long ago, it was 25p a pack. Then it went up to 45p and I seem to remember doing the same exclamation in the middle of the shop. But 61p, for a packet of Asda own brand custard? Who are they trying to kid? I voted with my feet and bought three packets of Birds for a quid!

You get to the till and hold your breath now, as the cost goes up every week. Between watching the calories that you eat, working all the hours that God sends, and making sure you don’t buy anything that you don’t need, it’s enough to make you wonder why you bother.

Good job the sunsets on our lovely coast are free – they are one of the few things in life that are – until British Gas work out how to charge you for their energy!

 
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