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Home Hints

From Ed sounding off on the “Surreal Hour”

These are some hints and tips as read out on the “Surreal Hour”. We hope some are of help to you. PC safety sheet is here


Although you may not realise it, simple table salt has a great number of uses other than to simply season your food. The list of almost 60 applications will give you some other useful uses for salt, many of which you possibly never knew. Example: * Add salt to green salads to prevent wilting * Use a mixture of salt and lemon juice to clean piano keys * A dash of salt enhances the taste of tea For full list click here


Vinegar also has a great number of uses other than to make your fries tastier. Again, a list of almost 60 applications will give you some other useful uses for vinegar. Example: * Skin burns: apply ice cold vinegar right away for fast relief. Will prevent burn blisters * Clean fireplace bricks with undiluted vinegar For full list click here

Ten Teas

Ten teas from some common leaves and not necessarily from the pure tea family Persimmon Tea Sassafras Tea Birch Tea (Wintergreen Blackberry/Raspberry Tea Blueberry Tea Alfalfa Tea Wild Strawberry Tea Wild Rose-Hip Tea Sweet Goldenrod Tea (Anise Soldier's Herb Tea For full details click here

Baking Soda

Bicarbonate of soda or baking soda has many different uses in the household. Although much more expensive products have been developed over the years to do the same jobs, baking soda can work for you just as well, if not better. Here’s a list of almost 60 uses. Example: * Wash rubbish bins with baking soda * Clean combs and brushes in a soda solution * Reduce odour build-up in your dishwasher by sprinkling some soda on the bottom For full list click here


If you are considering changing your broadband (telephone and TV often included), take care. It may not be as cheap as you think, especially if it’s a case of fixing something that was not otherwise broken! Don’t be swayed by deals such as £2.50 a month for 12 months. You may find that by the time you add in all the bits carefully printed very small at the bottom of the advertisement or contract, you end up paying more than you were for precious little extra. I had a call offering cheaper broadband. I currently pay £20.20 a month for ‘up to 18mb’ of genuinely unlimited broadband [my usage for Jcom alone is huge] , line rental, inclusive 24/7 phone calls nationally [excepting the dreaded 087 and 084 -  helps out] and 800 minutes to 20 countries. The caller promised they were much cheaper - £2.50 for broadband of same speed, but, add in line rental at £16.99, 24/7 calls at £5, 30 International countries at £5, the “cheaper” service was £29.49 - then there was £5.99 router delivery, pushing the monthly cost over the year to £29.99. Add to this the increase in broadband price after 12 months to £9.99  means I’d end up paying £37.48 after the 12th month, a far cry from my current £20.20! In terms of ISDN services (through a box by your phone input) remember that all services (unless you live in Hull) ultimately come via BT, so your speed won’t improve dramatically above what you already get because you’ll be using the same lines; just someone else will bill you. Fibre is the only differentiator, but is still quite expensive

Holiday Hints

When travelling internationally you do not have to show your boarding card unless you are  1. Purchasing cigarettes or alcohol and  2. You are travelling to a destination outside the EEC. Otherwise unscrupulous airport vendors claim the 20% VAT themselves but they do not pass the saving on to you. Make sure your passport has at least six months spare before it expires. Some countries, particularly those requiring visas, will not grant one if your passport has less than six months to run. Some visas are electronic and purchase-in-advance only and may need several days, so leave enough time. You may also need a jpeg photograph via your computer. For countries that provide an electronic or on-arrival visa option, take the electronic option before you travel as it saves time and effort, especially if you are a family. Allow plenty of time to check in, especially in the far east. It can take up to or even over an hour in some airports to get through passport control and security alone. With the highest proportion of holiday thefts from hotel rooms, if you haven't a room safe or don't want to use the hotel safe, invest in a money belt. Try and get one with a fabric-enclosed metal belt surround. If you have no safe but a fridge in the room you can pop your flat valuables in between the slices of a loaf of bread in the fridge. Combine all your bookings, tickets references, insurance and other notes into one document and email it to yourself. That way you only need one document for everything. If travelling to a non-English speaking country, photograph some of the essentials on your phone so you can show what you need - toilet, taxi, bus, train station, post office etc. If you pay by card, use the local currency and not Sterling if offered the choice by the retailer, otherwise you’ll pay a double commission + your bank charge. In Paris, a trip to the top of the Arc de Triomphe or Montparnasse Tower will avoid queuing (for say the Eiffel Tower) and give equally great views. A Tourist Travel Card purchased from the Central Station in Amsterdam is far better value and gives access to trams, buses and trains. Similarly a 1, 3 or 5-day pass in Budapest from the public transport ticket machines also provides better value. The underground train ticket machines in Kuala Lumpar will not accept and give change from bank notes. You have to change your banknotes into change at the station booths where you CANNOT   buy a ticket! Take your passport to Macey’s visitor centre before shopping to obtain a 10% visitor discount card, also valid on sale items. If visiting Disneyland, using the second monorail that goes to the visitor centre via the hotels rather than direct is quicker and has less queuing. A UV water purifying pen is a great gadget to ensure a glass of water is pure. Book your Grand Canyon in the late afternoon and enjoy a “free” Las Vegas air night view on the return trip.
Bridge over the River Kwai - photo Ed Moss