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Shopping Blog is back – it’s where you’ll find our recommendations and reviews. We all stumble across great products – and tips – so when we do we’ll share them with you.

Sometimes we’ll add affiliate links – if you choose to click on them and purchase something that we’ve recommended we may get a small referral fee. It doesn’t make any difference to the price that you pay, but it does help us to earn a crust so we appreciate your help with this. If products are sent to us to try by shops and manufacturers we will tell you. These are all things that we have used, liked and recommend. Have fun!

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Adjustable Desk Easel

Handy solid surface to use on your knee, or on a desk.

I don't know whether you like crafting, drawing, painting, colouring in, writing, etc, but you might find this a handy gadget.

Drawing board

It's an A3 drawing board and it's got an adjustable easel on the back. I got this one from Amazon - mine is a Reeves one, you can find it at this link Reeves A3 Art and Craft Work Station

They also have a Boldmere one - at this link A3 Adjustable Desk Easel. I think the same one is in The Works too, they're about £15-20.

I wouldn't be without mine now. I even stand my phone on it, the newspaper, and loads of other things too!

You can see I'm sat on the sofa with it on my legs. So with the adjustable easel you can put your knees up and down and wriggle about and be comfy! You could also use it on a desk.


Dashing Away with the Smoothing Iron

The joys of a steam iron with a separate water tank!

We have one of those irons with the water tank separate to the iron. Years later I still comment that I wouldn't go back to an ordinary iron. Anyway, it died, so we've just bought a new one.

We've got another Morphy Richards iron but this one descales and sorts out the hard water problem automatically, as the last one had to be cleaned manually which was a bit of a kerfuffle that involved rinsing it out and shaking it over the toilet to get the flakes of limescale out.

As we live in a very hard water area it needed doing more rather than less so I'm hoping that this will be much easier. It knows when it needs descaling and automatically flushes the scale out of the iron before you start using it, and all I have to do is empty the dirty water from a separate tank.

The one that's just died was the first one of that type that we'd had. We didn't know if we'd like it when we bought it, but I must say I'd not go back to an ordinary iron now.

They're easier to use when you've got a bad back because they create a lot more steam (albeit they are heavier to get in and out of the cupboard). You don't get shiny lines on clothes that you get with an ordinary iron, and you can steam vertically with them. So you can freshen dry clean only clothes up, and steam jackets.

I've got a cord jacket that looks like I've been to bed in it every time I wear it, so I steam it each time and it looks like new. With the amount of ironing that we do it's worth every penny. Cheaper models are available (as they say) but I particularly wanted automatic descale - you might not be bothered.

That’s where Amazon Prime came in to its own, and out came the computer and bingo, we had a new one delivered in time for the next ironing session.

We thought you might want to see us in action, demonstrating our QVC presenter skills, so I give you Jane the demonstrator, and Chrissie the camera woman, in 'Steam Iron - the Movie'!


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 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.


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!

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