Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Fraud/scam using exclusive@the-sun.co.uk - Employee at news.co.uk running a scam

Yesterday I was nearly conned out of £5000 so today I thought I would blog about it to see if anyone else has come across this scam.

While I was walking my dog I received a phone call on my mobile from a so called David Thorne (the number was 07552483964).  He explaining to me that he works for an agency which supplies content for the newspapers The Sun and The Times. He explained that he could offer me a FREE A4 editorial space in a magazine supplement called 'Look a little closer' which would be inserted into every copy of The Sun and The Times tomorrow (or today now).  He explained if I agreed he would get Carol Vorderman to phone me up and conduct a sort of interview over the phone and this content would get added to this magazine.  Apparently there was to be a feature on 'unusual things' and Carol had interviewed 5 other people, but one artist had a car accident and wanted to pull out of the editorial, hence there being a space.  He said normally they would fill the space with advertising but wanted to see if he could offer this slot to someone like myself. Saying I was top of his list of people to contact.  He went on about how much an editorial like this would normally cost and it was my lucky day! How my art work is amazing and totally unique and ideal for this supplement.  I then asked if it was really free and he said that I just have to pay for the interview with Carol for 'about £5000', said he would need to check, but then that money would be reimbursed by the company he works for as an expense.  At this stage I realised he was trying to con me and told him that it sounds too good to be true so must be a con.  He denied this and went on about how if I send him my logo and images today it would be going to print tonight, it would change my life, blah blah.   I then said to email me confirmation that I will get this £5000 back in an email. He said I would be paying either Carol Vordermon direct or her agents.

This is the email he sent me from exclusive@the-sun.co.uk

Good Afternoon Carolyn,

Just a brief written confirmation regarding the editorial opportunity we discussed on the phone for you. Confirming that we have offered you a free of charge full page A4 editorial space in the ‘ Look a little closer ’ magazine supplement, featuring Carol Vorderman, which will be printing this evening and will be a pull out insertion inside every copy of both tomorrows The Sun and Times newspapers equating to a print run of nearly 23 million copies – looking as businesses and individuals that provide something slightly different. Further guaranteeing for you that although you will have to hire Carol yourself on a freelance journalistic basis to produce the content of the space at your own expense (£5,000 – VAT nil ), that you can claim this cost back from us as an expense you have incurred towards producing content that we then print. You will be liable for your reimbursement immediately after the article goes to print, or after you physical ly confirm in writing that we are legally allowed to run the article when our production send you the final copy of proof before print. Images will be need to be provided by yourselves – It would be easiest if you could reply to this email with the images/logos you would like to incorporate into the piece. Please include your space reference as the emails subject when replying with the imagery you would like us to use ( Space ref: sun608 ). The entire supplement will be also be available for digital download and viewing on The Sun and The Times websites for between 6-12 months. You will retain all copyrights to the article for further use prior to print. Please reply with a short confirmation – I will call you back shortly!

Warmest Regards

- -
David Thorne
Supplements Manager
Direct: 07552483964
Switchboard: 020 7782 6000
Email: advertising@newsint.co.uk
Paper: exclusive@the-sun.co.uk

News UK & Ireland Ltd
1 London Bridge Street
United Kingdom
020 7782 6000

Copyright © 2015 News Corp UK & Ireland Limited. All rights reserved. This website is published by News Corp UK & Ireland Limited, 1 London Bridge Street, London, SE1 9GF. Registered in England No 81701. VAT number GB 243 8054 69.


Back at home he phoned me again from this number:  020 7782 6000 which happens to be the same number for News UK www.news.co.uk which is a trading name of News Corp UK & Ireland Limited.  And according to this wiki page a key person is Rupert Murdoch. The news.co.uk website says on its home page that they publish for The Sun and The Times. So it all looked quite legitimate. 

I was still skeptical and told him this and he said "but I have emailed you from The Sun (exclusive@the-sun.co.uk) and I am calling you from the company I work for...  You can see the number on the website".  This was all true.  I then said to him that if this was legitimate and Carol has already done some of these interviews then get her to call me to confirm.  If its worth £5K to her she wont mind speaking to me briefly before I confirm to have this interview done by her.  He then said it shouldn't be a problem and I hung up, assuming I would get a call from Carol.  Obviously I didn't hear from Carol or him again.

This email exclusive@the-sun.co.uk is listed on the contact page of The Sun's website so it is a real email. 

This and the fact that he called me from a number which is listed on news.co.uk made me worry that I was rude to this chap and I had missed out.  But my instinct told me this was a scam. One thing that I found odd was why there was the daily mail url in the signature of the email.

So I decided to find out who Carol Vordermans agent is and get in touch.   Her agent is John Miles MBE and he confirmed it was not a genuine proposal. He actually called the mobile without a reply and he called the 020 7782 6000 which is the switchboard at news.co.uk and they confirmed they dont know a David Thorne.  So obviously fraud. I have since had a conversation with John and he agreed when I suggested reporting it to the police. He wasn't happy as they are using his clients name.  What worries me is if this chap has done this many times and conned many people.  I do hope I am the first..   So I contacted Action Fraud and they decided it was serious enough to file a report.  I am now waiting on someone from the police in London to phone me.

I assume that this person works at www.news.co.uk.  He was very convincing and had I not been exposed to unscrupulous journalists in the past I may well have fell for this.

So if you have had a similar experience, maybe using a different celebrity or different story please get in touch.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Multiplumb Dartford Review

Review of Richard Costello’s firm Multiplumb, based in Dartford, Kent.


I employed Richard Costello’s firm to install a central heating system in my house. The system was fitted by Multiplumb’s Gary Batters, as named on the Gas Safe register, not the Gary Hughes as listed on the Multiplumb website but not on the Gas Safe register. Here are some of the things Costello’s firm did, and also left undone, which have needed to be rectified at my extra cost by professional tradesmen. I have witness, professional and photographic evidence. When I first tried to raise some of the issues with Richard Costello he denied it all and has repeatedly lied. Here are some of the issues:

1.       Multiplumb carried a NICEIC logo on its paperwork but it was a lie, it was not a member of NICEIC, and Multiplumb was on NICEIC’s ‘wall of shame’ of liars. Nor could NICEIC find any record of Costello’s electrician. (Another Costello firm, Trusted Home Improvements (no longer trading) carried a NICEIC logo and also a Guild of Master Craftsmen logo, but neither the firm, Costello or his partner Greg Calver, were confirmed members of either organisation.)

2.       A Gas Safe report raised several issues of concern relating to work done by Multiplumb.

3.       Multiplumb was paid for work it never finished but I never received a refund.

4.       Multiplumb failed to test and fill in the boiler commissioning form, contravening building regulations (and left the key needed for filling, jammed in the boiler).

5.       With winter approaching, Multiplumb left all of the newly installed pipework in the loft unlagged, including under the boiler. The contractor is required under part L of the Building Regulations to insulate all new pipework with foam pipe insulation.

6.   Burn marks on the timber backing caused by soldering the pipe joints show that the plumber failed to use an incombustible shield when soldering, a fire risk.

7.   Multiplumb left old radiator pipes protruding above the floor where the radiators had been removed instead of cutting them back and making good any holes.

8.   Instead of cutting into the chipboard floor, Costello and his employee tore big

      holes in the floor with crowbars and left the floor damaged.

9. Multiplumb left pipework unclipped to the wall, so exposing it to damage.

Other loutish behaviour included breaking two lamps and not bothering to tell me, let alone apologise; taking a bulb out of the master bedroom centre light, breaking the fitting in the process and leaving me without a light for well over a week, all without telling me, let alone apologising for and rectifying it. I suppose other behaviour such as Batters’s ignoring the radios I left out and taking it upon himself to instead use my hifi at full blast without permission are small fry.

1.       Richard Costello has even lied on a Dartford County Court form.

2.       At the time of writing this, I am having to arrange a pressure test on my pipes because it is suspected that Multiplumb fitted new pipes to existing ones without first conducting such a test.

9. I can no longer afford to pursue this case through the courts, in time or fees. I took out a summons in December, 2015, assuming that this was the way to achieve some sort of justice. The case is still winding its weary way through, with the court:

having lost papers/denied receiving post or emails for which I have proof of sending; failed to file papers on time; made an extremely clerical serious error that could have had disastrous consequences for myself, luckily I was able to notify the court in time; failed to apologise for said error; been delayed by “a backlog of work” further delayed by the judge’s period of leave; despite all of the former, demanding yet another set of fees which on top of everything else, I can no longer afford.

1.       Multiplumb is a member of CIPHE and is on CheckATrade, just so you know.

I will never get any money back or any legal justice, so an online review to let others know what has happened, is the best I can now do.

10. Failed to cut the flue to the correct length, so leaving it protruding from the roof.

11. Left the old water tank full of rubbish in the loft, leaving me to cut it up and pay to have it removed.

Review by Sharon Smith

Monday, 25 April 2016

Electronic Cigarettes Vs Smoking

I have recently been trying out electronic cigarettes. I haven't fully stopped smoking cigarettes but I have cut down quite a lot. That is the next step.  First I am trying to get my head round all the terminology surrounding e-cigs and vaping.  Having done some google searches I came across a site that answered a lot of my questions: http://www.electronic-cigarettesco.co.uk.  They have a page which explains all the terminology here http://www.electronic-cigarettesco.co.uk/content/33-e-cig-terminology

After reading around I realised I should start with a basic starter kit.  I followed the advice found on this e cigarette starter kit page and ended up buying the Aspire e Cigarette Starter Kit.   So far so good.  It comes with 5 coil heads which I haven't needed to use yet, but it is early days.  From what I have read I will know when the coil needs changing because the vapor production will be reduced and it might leak or make gurgling noises or a burnt taste.  So far I haven't noticed anything like this but I have my spare coils at the ready.

Liquid wise I am liking  the sweet flavours with bubble gum being my favourite at the moment.  It takes me back to being a child when I used to sneakily smoke and then chew bubble gum to supposedly rid the smell.  Not that it worked.. however the taste of  the bubble gum and the nicotine (12mg) seems to just take me back to those times.  I also used to chew juicy fruit chewing gum which made me wonder if they do an e liquid in that flavour!  A couple of clicks later I have found some so just ordered this juicy fruit eliquid! Excited muchly.

To be fair is all the different flavours which convinced me to try this vaping lark.  I had a go on my sons one and he had parma violets eliquid which tastes just like those little purple sweets from my childhood!  I couldn't stop puffing on it which convinced me this has got to be the way to do.  Lets face it most of us seasoned smokers if we are honest dont really like the taste of tobacoo (well I don't) it is just an addiction.  So if I can stop it by vaping on fruity flavours, surely this is better and the way forward..

I will see how I go and update my progress with another post.  Happy vaping everyone.. I finally get it!

Monday, 29 February 2016

To accomplish great things we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe.

I have had a good start to the year to be honest.  I feel like I have got my mojo back!  I am a bit of a work-o-holic and always put work and family before myself.  So this year I decided to plan to do more things for myself and towards my ultimate dreams. I am coming to an exciting new phrase in my life as my youngest is 16 so it won’t be long before I am totally free from parental responsibilities.  Well obviously I won’t stop being a mum, but now it’s my time.  I have always just worked and lived for my kids really.  Now I feel it’s my time to put myself first.

My mojo got a boost early into January when I was really quite down one evening missing my father who died a few years ago.  I was watching some youtube videos about quantum physics and energy ( I love science and anything spiritual) and I came across one about the power of prayer. I am not religious in a so called god per say, but I do believe we are all energy and vibration, so we are all in fact this so called god, not a higher source.  We are the source.  Also I was looking at spiritual retreats and places to visit in peru as this is something I have always wanted to do.  So anyway I thought I would give praying a shot.

Before my dad died I asked him to prove to me that my beliefs were correct and that energy cannot be killed so somehow when you die your ‘soul’ or self sort of lives on.  He promised me under his giggle that he would try.  He was not really a believer.  I did the usual trips to spiritualist churches and spoke to some mediums but nothing gave me the proof I wanted. I told my dad to spook me or talk to me through mediums with something only he and I would know.  He used to call me a silly name and if I ever hear that spoken from a medium I would have a heart attack.  Well there was nothing, no ghost, his sculpture hasn’t never cried (I made a bust of my dad and asked him to make it cry or something silly (we loved the show Only fools and Horses - remember the crying Virgin Mary sculpture)). But nothing has ever given me proof that he is around me.   I stopped believing and became skeptical for the first time in my life.  Anyway out-loud I sort of prayed to my dad and ‘god’ asking to be helped in some way.  I think I had a little tear in my eye as I was feeling so low for some reason.  

The next day I got a surprise in the post when a friend/colleague sent me the book ‘Ask and it is Given’ by Ester and Jerry Hicks. It’s a book on learning to manifest the law of attraction. It was just what the doctor ordered really as for many years I have practiced it but this was a reminder I had stopped.   The book hasn’t really taught me anything I didn’t know but it has been a nice reminder.  For those that don’t know what I am talking about, the law of attraction is a thought philosophy where if you focus on positive thoughts a person brings positive experiences to themselves and visa versa.  That day I made myself take a lunch break and started the book.  The book was the most perfect wonderful perfect timing gift to receive and since that day I have felt 100% better and  like my old self.  You can click here to search on amazon for the book.

The same day I got a phone call off a Shamen healer who is based in Kent and offers trips to Peru. He was looking for some help on his website and the night before I was looking for peru retreats!  It seemed like someone was listening and my prayers were answered immediately!   Coincidence I hear the sceptics cry, well maybe, but maybe I created these coincidences.  I have always wanted to go to Peru as it’s the place for so called 'spiritual awakening'.  It was reading the ‘Celestine Prophecy’ when I was much younger which got me fascinated in Peru and all things spiritual. For me that book made perfect sense and almost like the missing jigsaw piece in my view of the universe.  So getting a call off this shaman learning about shamanism was like the pray answered again.  I am now planning to go on this peru retreat later this year with Andy Wood.  Click here to learn what Shamanism is.

Since that night when I was at a low point the very next day it felt like my prayers were answered.   I have again been using the law of attraction to get what I want out of life.  I am only doing what I have done with every aspect of my life really.  We all create our life and experiences and if your life is feeling pretty crap, you only have yourself to blame.  I was a drop out school at kid, left aged 15 without any qualifications.  By 19 a single mum on benefits. Not the best start in life but by using the law of attraction I have always got what I wanted out of life. There has been plenty of haters and people giving me negative responses when talking about my dreams.  During my degree I was seeing a chap who said I wouldnt get anywhere in IT as its a mans game.  This I proved wrong.  Again with my Art I have always had folk tell me I couldn't success as an artist, well again I am proving them wrong.  I never listen to people and always believe completely and wholehearted in my dreams. 

Those that know me will know I am a budding ceramic artist who would love to earn a living from making and selling art all day everyday. Positive affirmation on way.. I WILL have my own art shop in a busy tourist area such as Iron bridge where I will be making my art of full display as well as selling my art and other art related products.  Well I am already doing quite well and supply my art to a number of outlets and sell them online.  But this year I planned to get more stockists and get out there a bit more.  Currently it’s a part time evening job and more like therapy for me!  It is very therapeutic making and creating art and it has always been a back burner.  Anyway without going into detail I have now got a few more suppliers, I have been featured on the front cover of a couple of magazines and been looking at properties in Iron-bridge.  What this space.  My art can be found here: https://www.cazamic.com/

Also my kitchen design is soon to be an featured in Style at Home. A freelance journalist said she was looking for creative people who had designed a new kitchen or bathroom.  Well oddly enough is was the stress I went through creating my own kitchen  (read old post here)  which brought me down.  That and loosing a good friend and a coupld of other things which made last year not a great one. I always thought I would buy and sell property and believe I have an eye for design.  Perhaps this feature is a sign that I could be interior designer - another choice i have going forward.  

Another dream I have is visiting more locations around the world on holiday.   I go on holiday with my mate Claire who is a bit of a traveler, she will leave the country at the drop of a hat. We have been to Iceland, Greece, New York and lots of other places.  Our next jaunt is to a two day and 2 night trip to Skellig Islands in South West Ireland.  I have been to Dublin in Ireland before but after seeing the islands on Star War we both decided that would be our next trip.  So we are heading on a Skellig Michael tour with Brit Movie Tours.  Another tour I plan to do is a walking tour in paris by Set in Paris.com.  I went to Paris during an Art Access course years ago and visited all the top sites.  I remember having a very odd experience in Notre Dame and would love to experience it again.  As soon as I walked into the building I felt its energy so much it was breathtaking and I just has to sit and marvel at the surroundings.  It was very peaceful but buzzing. 

I have also been invited to Egypt with a group of friends for a week of sun in April.  I have a friend who seems to love Egypt and every year they go.  I myself wouldn't choose to visit Egypt again as I feel like I have been there done that and want to discover other countries.  But unless I choose to holiday alone, beggars cant be choosers.  Plus its a good crowd and it will be a much needed sunshine break even it if will be my 4th or 5th time to Egypt. 

So its all happening for me this year, but its only because I am creating it.  We all create our lives and have complete control over what we bring into our lives.  Just remember this folks.  If you dont belive me try it yourself.  Remember  ' to accomplish great things we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe'.  Great saying there.  Don't know where it comes from but its so true. Get thinking and creating the life you want to life, I am living proof we can all achieve great things, regardless of where we come from. 

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

How to discipline your teenager

Anyone who has a teenager knows how difficult they can be. They think they know it all and think they are adults but they are not. I have a 16 year old who suddenly thinks he's a man. Up until recently he has always done as he's told. I've always been strict but fair. But suddenly he has started to disobey me. This I wasn't going to put up with. The trouble I have is that at his age I was living in a bedsit with no parents telling me what to do. I could go out come back late stay out and just do what I wanted. So trying to explain to my lad that he is a child and still needs to do what I say as i am legally responsible for him till he is 18 has been tricky.  So what did I do? Well after trying to just explain to him a dozen times each time falling on deaf ears I decided I had to be tougher.  I have always believed in the old saying "you have to be cruel to be kind" so I thought how can I scare him to death so it shocks him enough to realise that if he lives with me I'm still the boss and what I say goes.  So i gave him an ultimation. I told him if he wants to live with me he follows the rules or he can go and live with his father.  At first he didn't believe me and was all cocky saying he would think about it.  Now I know this is the last thing he would want as he isn't that close to him and has said he would hate to live with him and his family. So I knew he was just bluffing. Now I had to really prove I meant it which to be honest I think I did at this point.  I've brought him up on my own without any help and it's not been easy. Part of me would love his father to take some responsibility and let me have a quiet life. So I started to plan for a life without him.  I do have plans that once I am free of kids I will sell up and buy a shop and possibly move back down south. After a few days he came back saying he wants to stay home and will do what I say. I thought this could be short lived so decided to keep up the charade. I told him I would prefer him moving out and explained how good it could be.  I tried to make living with his dad sound fun, saying how he could spend more time with that side of his family and could spend more time with his little brother and he could come see me at the weekends.  I explained how I have moved my plans forward and was looking forward to moving. Well I think this just shocked him, he hated the thoughts I was putting in his head and freaked out a bit but I was consistent and made him believe what I was saying until he broke. So it worked. I guess it was a bit of emotional blackmail really but nothing I said before would get through to him.  He is now back to his old self and a joy to be around doing as he's told. He just needed scaring. So if you have a teenager and you want them to reign them in a bit think of the one thing that they would hate the most and use it. 

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Xanthelasma removal - How I got rid of xanthelasma.

If your reading this then you probably fed up with little white spots around your eyes and are looking for a removal solution. Years ago I suddenly developed these unsightly marks under my eyes.  Assuming I had high cholesterol I went to the docs and after some tests I was told I didn't have particularly high cholesterol at all and didn't need the tablets. The doctor didn't offer much reassurance and said I would need to see a dermatologist.    He kind of did what most people did, poo poo them and say, "they are not that bad".  Many friends said "you can't see them" or "only you notice them".

A year or more went buy and they were still there. During another trip to the doctor for something else, this particular doctor pointed at the white marks and I explained how I hated them and they are depressing me and he wrote down the name 'xanthelasma' and said he didn't know a treatment to get rig of them but I could look.

So I got on google and started investigating. Each time I found a blog or someone who managed to remove it I tried the same.  First I had them frozen at some beauty spa but that didn't work.  I then looked into face peels.  I found out they cost around £300 and I would need 2 or 3 treatments.  As I didn't fancy spending that much I decided I would just find out what 'peel' or acid they use and try myself.  Basically its trichloroacetic acid (TCA).  I got some off ebay from a so called approved or rated supplier and crossed my fingers. Trichloroacetic acid is water soluble and the instructions said to dissolve in water so the tca was 25%.  First time I tried I looked like I had walked into a door and when the scab fell away it did apprear less severe but certainly not removed. I tried a slightly stronger percentage and again it didn't work.  I had the xanthelasma for hell!  I tried on and off for about three months before giving up.

A few months past and again I was depressed at these marks on my face.  My mum told me off an old make up foundation which would work and yes it did a bit but I would have to have heavy foundation on to really cover it and that wasn't for me.

This pic shows a close up and me using TCA on one half of one side.  

My Solution - Wartner Pen 

Then I read about some who had successfully removed xanthelasm using a wartner pen.  It is for verruca and wart removal and says you shouldn't use around the eyes. Well I ignored that and as its a nice gel it is very easy to place the acid exactly on the marks.  After one try I was impressed and carried on.  It is less abrasive and I didn't look like I had been battered.  After about 3 applications and a few weeks later i can honestly say it has gone.  I will put up recent picture soon and some more pictures I took when it was at its worst (when I can find them).  This has made me fed up and self conscious on off for many years so I am glad to finally wake up in the morning and not see these marks.  Plus nobody has told me wrongly that I had concealer not rubbed in properly.


Friday, 13 November 2015

Tesco rip off!

Sorry, but I need to vent!!
I went shopping at the Tesco today and I noticed this woman was staring at me in the same aisle I was in, no biggie...I moved to the next aisle and here she comes again...STARING!!
So now I'm like, what is her problem?? I finish up my shopping and head to the check out...of course who is there ahead of me, this same woman.
She turns around and starts staring again. So I start playing with my phone so I don't have to look at her.
Finally she says "I want to apologise for staring at you, but you look just like my daughter who just passed away." I felt really bad after that and gave her my condolences. She says "Thank you...but I have a favour to ask. I know it's weird and understand if you don't want to, but can you give me a hug and say 'Bye Mum to me?" Inside I was like Really?!??!, but understanding grief the way that I do, I went ahead and did it. She smiles, thanks me, and leaves. The cashier scans my stuff and the total comes out to £100.87 I knew something wasn't right, because it should have been like £20 or so. The cashier then tells me that my total was included with my mum's, I'm like, "What?!!!" She said, "Your mum said you were paying for her last few items along with your things. I told her that the woman was most definitely NOT my mum. She said, well I saw you hug her and heard you call her mum. I'm like OH MY I flew out of the store looking for this women, ready to get her! I see her loading up her car! She saw me and jumped in her car, I got to her as she was putting her leg in, and I started pulling her leg hard enough that her wooden leg came off!! So I grabbed her other leg and started pulling!! ...Just like I'm pulling yours right now! Hahaha!

Sorry! Tickled me on Facebook.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Downton Abbey Series 6

The last series of Downton is proving a hit in my house.  Sundays episode had plenty of feel good factor.   Mr Carson looked like the cat that got the cream. Anne's glowing, I do hope she manages to stay pregnant and then have the baby. I can't wait to see Bates face when she tells him. Most of all I'm glad to see some new love interest for lady Edith. Perhaps with Toms return there might be a love triangle brewing?  I am loving the continued banter from the Dowager Countess, she is just one of my favourite characters and is played just effortlessly by the great Maggy Smith.  I noticed they hinted at Mr Grantham's health and I have a prediction that he will end up loosing his life leaving Mary to take over running of the house. 

Well it's all very exciting and I can't wait to watch the rest, but will be terribly sad when its over.  This series is shaping up to the best in my opinion.

I recently went on a Downton Abbey Tour with my mother.  She has been a big fan from the start so when she had a birthday early on in the year, buying her tickets for a Downton Abbey Tour seemed like a great idea. She was over the moon and very excited as was I.

The tour run by PandP tours began at Oxford train station where we all met and then were whisked off to Bampton town which doubled as Downton Village. My mother and I really loved this little town and it was a bit like stepping back in time. The village was regularly used throughout each series and is home to two fictional pubs - The Grantham Arms and The Dog and Duck. First we visited St Mary’s Church which hosted all the weddings, funerals and christenings in the series. The church is a beautiful old Norman church with a ladies only chapel which was used in the series.

Next to the church is the tiny green which was used for the Downton Fair and the war memorial in series 5. In real life this green is just tiny so it must be clever filming which makes it appear much larger in the series. Right next to the green is Churchgate House, the old Bampton rectory which was used for the exterior shots of Isobel Crawley's house. Then we walked a few feet to the old Grammar School building, which now houses Bampton library. The exterior shots were used as the as Downton hospital and today you can go inside and see a selection of Downton Abbey memorabilia including cards, mugs, pictures and a town map. Next to that is a lane which is in the series leads up to Downton Abbey, but the actual castle or country house rather is a few miles away.

Next stop was the highlight...  visiting Highclere.  They didn't allow photographs to be taken inside the house but I got a few outside.  The house is exactly like the show but surprising smaller looking.  The rooms, paintings and furniture are exactly the same but look a little worse for ware than they do on the TV.  The red sofas in the library for instance are looking a little warn in real life.  For tours they have cordoned off sections of the house so you have to follow the trail. 

We didn't see the kitchen or servants' quarters because these were constructed and filmed at Ealing Studios.  But we could see the door they used to go through as if they were going downstairs.  There is also an Egyptian Exhibition which costs extra to go in but we decided not too.  We were there purely as Downton Fans. There is a gift shop and 3 cafes where you can grab some lunch.  As we had already eaten we opted for tea and scones.

After a small walk around the gardens we headed back to the coach.  It was one very memerable day and I recommend any Downton fans going on a tour.

Sadly P&P is not running anymore, but they worked very closely with Brit Movie Tours where you can go on a number of tours with them including visiting Highclere.   Having seen Highclere and Bampton I may book up and do the Downton Abbey Locations Tour of London here 

I may even watch the whole series again as its been fantastic TV and I will be very sad when it finishes later this year. Fingers crossed they will bring out a Downton Abbey Film for the big screen next year.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

DPL Kitchens Review - Telford Kitchens

This is the DPL Kitchens Review or Telford Kitchens Review I was really excited about writing.  I had planned to write a review on my new kitchen around the Christmas holidays last year but the job wasn't finished.  Still today I am waiting for them to come around to keep their promises and finish the job. So much went wrong and so many promises were broken.

For anyone looking to have a kitchen off these guys BEWARE. DO NOT give them the money before its finished.  I have since investigated this company and found out how they work.  Basically they lie and do anything they can to get the money off you, once they do they are onto the next customer for money and finishing the last job gets fit around the new customer.  

It all started when I looked for a kitchen company in September last year. I have been dreaming of a new kitchen for years and had been planning in my head.  It was a council house so the kitchen was very basic and poorly designed.  I was also reluctant because of when I had a new drive put in they didn't do it now I asked.  As a women you tend to get fobbed off with "we can't do this because" or "that can't be done because".  But normally its because the builders can't be arsed or are cowboys.  Sadly I have a poor opinion of English tradesmen so this was a big thing for me. 

So I searched around and got three quotes from three companies and after putting a shout out on ratedpeople.com on 29 Sep 2014,  DPL Kitchens or Telford Kitchens got in touch.   (they are no longer on that site now unsurprising) . Their website when showing can be found here: http://www.telfordkitchens.co.uk/

An elderly chap called Clive came round and basically promised the world. He said they were a small family run company and their team had worked with them for years.  He said I was welcome to see one of the kitchens they had installed which I agreed.  So far so good.  One thing I will say about Clive is that he is a VERY good sales man I give him that, but that is all, he should then leave well alone. I know now he was fully of shit.. like most salesmen, they will say anything to get you to sign.  I wanted to be able to choose everything from the cooker to the tiles, taps and everything basically.  Surely my right.  I was going to have to live with it for years to come so it had to be right. Plus it was costing 14K.  I wanted underfloor heating, soft closing cupboards, a bar section, all kitchen appliances, dishwasher integrated and so on.  It was also quite a big job as I needed a wall knocking down and also wanted new windows and a patio door. He promised I would get to choose everything and when I was concerned about not having a working kitchen Clive was quick to say that they leave me with a portable oven and ensure I had access to water etc.  All sounds good right?  Wrong.  Well everything was fine until I signed the contract.  More about that later.

So this is what my kitchen and dinning room looked like before ( a state!  I had started to rip wall paper off months before to push me into doing this):


So once I had agreed it was time to sign their contract. The price kept changing and when I finally signed the contract I could see lots of scribblings out and the cost higher than what they said I would pay.  Bit confused but excited I signed and that was it. I never saw that contract again.  Clive  cleverly accidentally on purpose took my copy away with him.  This I never saw again after repeatedly asking for it. It was then I started to have doubts and worry but it was too late.

So the next stage was to choose a design.  I had an idea in my head and found these images on google and asked if they could design something similar. I liked the dark wood top with the white cupboards and cream flooring and liked the idea of separating the kitchen and dining room with a bar section like in the images.


I explained and showed them where the electric meters were and explained I wanted this all blocked in and any radiator pipes hidden.  So this was the design they came up with:

I was not sure about the dark boarders around the top cupboards so went with white edges

They gave me samples of kitchen tops to choose from which I did but because of the design it couldn't be used.  But they found some tops that could do what i wanted but explained there would be no overlap so to ignore that on the design images. This is what I wanted anyway, all flush.  They also said there would be plenty left over and so they could make a dinning table top to match and a bench. Nice touch. I was impressed and excited. I'd been looking for a dinning table and hadn't found one I liked so this was perfect. Well its July now and I am still waiting on a bench and the table edges to be re stuck.

This was in October and I was promised it would be in and finished by Christmas. Initially stating they would start work in November, but that came and went. So it December when they started.  

They asked for about £3000 initially and said they would ask for the rest on completion.  I thought this was good as expected to pay half up front.  So happily paid and work began.

The work started great.  All hands were on deck and within the first day the wall was taken out:

 1st of December:

A few days had passed without any form of kitchen to cook and and the promise of a little mobile cooker never came.  So I asked them.  The next day Clive came round with one which you could tell he had just bought. Great I could cook again.  We were getting fed up with takeaways by this stage.

Then they did most of the plastering, plumbing etc and painted the ceiling:

7th December

10th December - Underfloor heating down with tiles going over the top:

Then they asked me to pay the rest of the money, all of it.  Clive used the excuse that someone didn't pay on a previous job, so they were in a bit of a difficult situation.  Being the silly fool, I fell for this and paid the rest.  BIG MISTAKE.  From then on it felt like the workers would come and go as they felt like it. Often days passed without seeing anyone or half a days work was carried out.

Then there was the issue with the ceiling lights.  I hadn't been asked about what type of lights were going up or shown any images and the electrician said Clive said it was a 'white' kitchen so white lights. Well this was news to me as I hadn't even had a conversation with them about them.  It is not a white kitchen, only the cupboard doors and ceiling are white. So I told the electrician I wanted stainless steel down lights. 

Then the units and cupboards started to arrive.  And the appliances which I DID NOT CHOOSE.  I was told I would choose all appliances and taps etc, but I didn't choose one.  Luckily I liked the cooker, washing machine ect so I didn't say anything.  I did tell them I wanted a ceramic sink but again I didn't choose it.

I also had new windows and a new double patio door go in.  With regards to the patio door I explained I needed a new lintel because something wasn't right. There were and still are cracks outside above the door. Plus my neighbour who is always working on his house asked me to make sure I got a new one mentioning something about the old council lintels.  Well when they pulled out the old doors and said the beam was fine and we didn't need a new one but as you can see in the images below it looked ugly.  It turns out the lintel was put in my the council upside down. Hence its ugly appearance.  This part should have been hidden behind the bricks. But they covered it with some plastic eventually so I had to live with it.

17th December (Ready for Christmas.. not bloody likely)

Lots of things arrived wrong, wrong hinges, the wrong size cupboard ends ect. The workers would turn up wander about then say they couldn't do anything so would go off on another job.  Well if I had the balls, I could have told them of plenty things that they could have done but felt it wasn't my place. The company was dragging them off to do work on the next victim or rather correcting their last cock ups on their last job!

Then the first big cock up happened when they put the sink in the wrong place.  By this time the design image was no where to be seen and they seemed to be doing what they wanted. When it was going in I was like wooo, that's going in the wrong place.  But the installer just bummed me off with an excuse that the sink part always goes in front of the window.  I tried to live with it. (I work from home so watched everything pretty much)

The next cock up was how they tiled around the top cupboards.  Because the side panels were the wrong size they couldn't put them on at the right time but they got on with tiling and just tiled around the carcasses which meant when the side panels did come (weeks later) they had to be cut to fit around the tiles!   Surely that's not right? See below:

This image was taken in February once the side panels had arrived!

Christmas came and went.  I had a functioning kitchen but it was not finished by a long shot. They promised to finish first week after Christmas.

20th January

Few weeks went by and nothing.  Even though they promised to get it finished in the first couple of weeks of January. I was starting to understand that their promises were just fob offs.

See the sink is not under the window but to the right...  I was annoyed but as this was turning into the install from hell I thought I would try and live with it. Another issue which I cant find the picture for was the radiator had pipes going straight up the wall.  These were supposed to be hidden so they had to move them and now I have a tiny amount of pipe showing.


See the top cupboard above the microwave in the image below?  Well it had a crappy hinge which made the cupboard stiff when opened.  I asked for soft close!  I mentioned this to one of the workers and they said Clive had told them to put that one in and make do as whoever did the ordering cocked up.  So I complained and they got the correct hinges and replaced...eventually.  But I am left with the holes from the wrong hinges which I shouldn't have.

21st December

Still waiting on them finishing.  The plinths had been hanging around so long they had chips in them so they had to reorder:

I wasn't happy with the cheap looking window handles and patio door handles.  They had used the cheap ones (left in the picture above) but I wanted them all to match the rest of the house so they had to change these and fork out a bit more money.. poor them.  I flamin paid for it.

February 14th

Finally in February they put up the edge pieces around the top cupboards.  But again they were the wrong size so they just made do.  Whoever does the ordering needs firing or their suppliers!  I was not happy. I think they hoped I wouldn't notice.  But come on.. look at the images! Would you be happy?

Also some of them had chips in them so I complained and I had to wait for new ones!   Nearly a whole month I waited....

21st March

They FINALLY took all the crap they had left in my garden.. This was only after me moaning to them about it.  It was spring and I wanted to tidy the garden, but it looked like a scrap heap.  Also when the filled in a tiny window, I was the one who had to sweep up all the builder sand and crap because they just left it.  The dog was walking it in all over the house.  

The new panels were cut and ready to go in. YEAH. FINALLY IT WOULD BE FINISHED???? NO CHANCE. By now I was fed up with the lot of them.  I was promised the bench but was told they couldn't do it and I'd told them I was prepared to make it, just give me the panels! So one worker delivers them.  Guess what. Just the leg parts, the seat part was nowhere to be seen. The worker looked blank. 

I still wasn't happy with the sink being in the wrong place.  I had no where for the kettle, if the sink was in the correct place the kettle would go where I planned.  I couldn't understand why it couldn't go where I asked for it to go. There was a washing machine one side and the dish washer the other. but its only the down part of the sink that has to stay in its position.  The whole sink should have been flipped round.  Then when I saw the design image on my ipad which clearly showed I wanted it under the window I decided to complain. £14K i paid for this so i wanted it how we originally planned. You might think me fussy and maybe I am, but it looked wrong.

Clive came round and the first thing he said was the sink couldn't be the other way round.  I was thinking this will be interesting, he ain't fobbing me off again, here he goes.. He walked over to the sink and explained than if it was the other way round the tap would be in the wrong place.  I think he was hoping I would say oh yeah and leave it at that.. I had done that on so many occasions I had starting to doubt my own brain.. But I'd had 3 months to think this over, I ain't stupid so said.. so your guys put the tap in the wrong place or was the wrong sink ordered?  This he couldn't respond to as I was spot on.  He knew darn well that these sinks come with holes pre cut and you pop them out.  So the chap had obviously popped out the wrong side and put it in the wrong place and hoped I'd not notice. This the chap admitted once Clive asked him about it. So Clive promised to get it fixed but it meant the whole L shape kitchen top getting replaced. Not my problem I thought.  He did offer me some compensation money which I said fine, as long as it covered the cost to put it right.  He then said he didn't want anyone else in here doing the work and he would arrange it to be corrected.  He said it would have to be around May.  Not too happy as I didn't want to see those chaps again, but agreed as I wasn't happy with how it was.

Well knowing them as I did by then, I didn't expect it to be done in May, in fact when my friends and family asked I just told them it would be fixed in June.  I was right as May came along and after the first week without any contact from them I emailed them but got no reply.  By this stage I was getting angry as I just wanted them to contact me and sort it.  So I spoke to a solicitor and phoned trading standards.  Eventually a couple of weeks into June they phoned and then turned up.  But guess what.. THEY ORDERED THE WRONG SINK! SHIT FOR BRAINS

So they put the old one back in, but the correct way around and left it like that promising to get a new one on order, even thought they could have gone to B&Q and bought a new one the same day.  Well its now 2 months later and I am still waiting.  Also the new L shaped kitchen top is not fitted correct and bar section is not inline with the floor tiles so an eye sore, and the join was cocked up as they used a brown filler.  I asked them to come round and inspect the work on the 17th June.  I sent them photographs and they agreed these issues need sorting and would be when the new sink arrives.  Well its the July 22nd and still no body has been round and no date has been given.  Hence writing this.

Here is my old sink turned round and in the correct position but with an unsightly hole from where the tap went before. 

Here is my old sink turned round and in the correct position but with an unsightly hole. 

Here you can see how the down part of the kitchen top is not inline with the floor tiles.. It was before.

Below you can see where you can see they have overlapped the kitchen top by about 10 mil.. Its meant to be flush!   

This is crap, really bad I think.  It's 10 mil at least too wide!

This shows the other side which is flush and perfect and how the L shaped section above should be: 

The join with the filler.. Can probably live with this as long as it doesn't get worse.

This image shows the visable pipes I was promised wouldn't be seen. 

The image below shows how they moved the pipes back and hid behind the panel, but it still shows the pipes which are a bit of an eye sore, but as high up and in the corner I can live with it, or rather I have too!

This image shows cracking around the top cupboards..

This images shows where they added the new panels but didn't touch up the paint;

The image below shows the fridge seal which drops each time its opened.  The first time around they sealed it in place, but since the new L shape worktop and sink was turned round, the fridge was taken out, so when they put it in they forgot about this part.

Here is an image of my dinning table and how well NOT they got the side panels stuck on.  Still waiting for the promised bench!

And that's it and where things stand today. Oh and I have the old work top rotting in my garden. Sick to death thinking about them and this bloody kitchen. Maybe i am fussy but what is the point in a design when they dont follow it.  I have been made ill over this now I am even less trusting of workmen.  Also I am still waiting on my contract I signed.. They obviously dont want me to have it for some reason.

Another issue that pissed me off was that I couldn't get any warranties on the appliances. Because when I phoned one of them (the cooker I think)  to activate an extra year or twos warranty they said they needed to know the cost of the item.  So I had to go back to DPL and ask them for a list of prices.  By the time I go this it was March and the appliances were well over 28 days so too late to register.

So many other things wound me up about DPL Kitchens or Telford Kitchens but I have forgotten a lot. But it was hell to be honest.  Never again would I go near this company.  This post will be edited as and when I remember things. Luckily I could remember the dates because of the photographs I took and the trail of emails I have archived.

I do like the overall look of the kitchen but that's because I designed it.  I will post an update when they have corrected these issues.  

 DPL Kitchens Review - Telford Kitchens Review