Top Banana

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A Top Weekend in Whitstable

Whitstable is on the north coast of Kent, close to Canterbury. It makes a great day trip from the city but also has enough to entertain the visitor for a weekend. For a long time it was another small fishing town but in recent years it has become more popular with the bohemian set and has its fair share of wonderful pubs and bars, restaurants and fine dining as well as numerous small boutiques and shops.

Whitstable is famous for its fantastic oysters, and if you are planning a weekend break there, then the best time to go is during the annual oyster festival in July although bear in mind that accommodation does get booked quickly during this period. Even outside of the festival period, Whitstable has a variety of attractions for the visitor to visit and enjoy. Consequently there are a wide range of accommodation options to suit everyone and every budget, including the legendary Hotel Continental and plenty of excellent decently priced B&Bs and self catering cottages.

Whitstable is very popular with artists and there are therefore numerous art galleries and artists’ studios you can visit and spend the day browsing in. Indeed once you have visited the town and seen the incredible views of the sea from the bay windows of the gorgeous old hotels, you will understand why so many artists and other creative people base themselves in Whitstable. In fact the whole of the Kent coast has in recent years begun to blossom in a hive of creativity.

The main attractions

One of the main attractions in Whitstable is the historic harbour. Busy and bustling, it still holds fish markets on a regular basis, offering freshly caught fish and shellfish.

What is known as “the castle” in Whitstable is really more of a stately home, but it can be visited, and the gardens there are simply stunning.

The shops in Whitstable are mostly small and independent. Harbour Street is the main destination for shoppers and window shoppers, and time is easily whiled away looking at the charming buildings, the hand crafted gifts, and the aromatic deli shops.

Walking tours of the main attractions in Whitstable can be booked and can give you an insight into the past history of this intriguing little town.

The beaches

You won’t come for a weekend in a coastal town without wanting to visit the beaches, and Whitstable has some of the loveliest and cleanest beaches in the UK. There are two things that really characterise Whitstable’s beaches. Firstly, they are of the pebbly kind rather than sandy. This does have some advantages though as it makes it a lot easier to clean up after time spent lying on the beach, as well as allowing numerous contests to see who can get the most bounces when skimming the pebbles!

The second thing that characterises Whitstable’s beaches are the charming beach huts. Beautifully maintained, and painted in a variety of colours these are a photographer’s or artist’s dream.

Whitstable has some of the most amazing sunsets in the UK. If you are lucky enough to spend some time here then you will soon see why artists have been flocking here in droves over the last few years. Sunset in Whitstable is one of the delights of South East England, and not to be missed. Enjoy it with a bag of the local fish and chips for the perfect Whitstable moment.

Alex is a consumer finance blogger and journalist. He spends his working week covering savings accounts and umbrella companies but when he gets the chance he loves to write about touring around the UK.


Top Banana Tips – Find Affordable Fashion

When times are hard, it is difficult to feel like you can keep up to date with the latest fashions. It might be difficult, but it is the time to begin thinking outside of the box. Here are some ideas on how you can shop on a budget, maintain your individual sense of style and keep up with the fashion from the catwalk.

Trawling thrift stores

There is a stigma attached to shopping in thrift stores, but there shouldn’t be. These clothes are in good condition and some of them have probably only been worn a few times. Here you will be able to escape the overpriced clothing stores and if you search for them you will find some little gems.

Going to factory outlet stores

Factory outlet stores are stores which sell items produced by a certain company, but you will find that they are significantly cheaper than when they appear in the shops. Factory outlets will often sell products from lines which have been over-manufactured or returned to the factory with no noticeable damage.


Swapping your clothes is a perfect way of updating your wardrobe and helping a friend to do the same. You can do this with your friends face to face, or you can swap your clothes online. By swapping online you can open your choices up to a wider range of clothing.

Making your own clothes or adapting those you already have

You might need to read up on some methods, but making your own clothes could be the perfect answer to getting new fashions cheaply. You will be able to find materials and patterns for much less than buying the finished item. This also applies to making adjustments to clothes that you already own. It might be small changes or you could use the fabric to make a whole new garment. Experiment and you could discover a new talent.

Using accessories to turn an outfit around

It is easy to become bored with your wardrobe and this feeling may spur you to rush the nearest mall to max out your credit card on new clothes. You don’t need to do this! A range of accessories can change any outfit and make it seem like a brand new one. It is possible to pick up necklaces, brooches, hats, belts and scarves cheaply and create a whole new look.

Don’t be afraid to shop everywhere

Never discount somewhere because you think it won’t possibly have something that might interest you. Always visit discount/thrift stores, but also visit the more expensive shops as you can never predict what you might find.

To buy or not to buy

Try not to go shopping crazy! Sometimes this is easier said than done, but being selective about what you buy will pay off in the end. Discount stores that sell their products are bargain basement prices may seem appealing, but buying in bulk from these stores will not work out well in the long run. Panic buying like this will result in your purchasing a lot of clothing that you probably don’t even like that much and that you won’t even wear very often if at all.

Be prepared to repair

You always hear that shoes make the man (or woman), so don’t just keeping wearing rundown shoes because you can’t afford new ones. Take them over to a cobbler for repair. A new heel and a great shine will make your shoes look new. They repair handbags and even luggage too.

Consider alternative to dry cleaning

Dry cleaning regularly is expensive and often not necessary. Use dress shields to avoid getting sweat stains on clothing and try out at home options for cleaning your garments.

Guest author Kelly Leah is a woman on a mission – that mission is to help people to lower their monthly spend and to save more. Her advice is designed to allow you to put more into savings products, ensuring you have looked for the best ISA rates first of course because these days you are not even guaranteed a good return with the banks.

Woolworths – A Christmas Wonderland

Ho Ho Ho Christmas Time

The run up to Christmas now begins in earnest.  No sooner than Halloween and Bonfire night are over attention turns to Christmas.  High street shops begin to give more and more floor space to festive themed displays in Novemeber to satisfy the early Christmas shoppers trying to get ahead of the game.  Late nights and weekends see huge increases of customers and by Decemeber the crowds can become unbearable.  But there is a solution – shop online.

As a child some of my fondest memories are of the heaving shelves of Christmas goodies in Woolworths where many toys and games were out of the box and availale to for both kids and adults to play with making the whole shopping experience a little more bearable.

Sadly Woolworths no longer have high street stores in the UK but a search online for uncovered that they will fleetingly return to the high street to set the Guinness World Record for the largest ever game of pass the parcel.

Guinness World Record for the largest ever game of pass the parcel

By visiting the Woolworths Pass the Parcel site between the 1st and the 15th November 2010, families can nominate their town to be visited by Woolies’ loveable snowmen, Stan and Ollie Snow who will bring along with a giant parcel the size of a small car.

What a delightful idea and a great way to remind shoppers that they have a strong online presence – and like the high street shops the site has dedicated sections for Christmas gift ideas.

Woolworths are remembered by many as their local Toy Shop and as such the site has plenty of pages to guide you through popular toys and games.  The site still offers a wide range of household products, clothing and electrical goods.

Woolworths Top Toys 2010

This page offers the dream dozen toys which closely follows the Toy Retailers Association’s official top toys – many feature on a list of 12 affordable (ie, less than £100) bestsellers released by the Toy Retailers Association.

Here are a selection of this years top toys:

The dream dozen toys for Christmas include a new version of Monopoly, a video camera and a remote-control puppy.

However, the most sought-after, for boys at least, may yet turn out to be a yellow plastic Nerf N-Strike Stampede ECS. The hand-held weapon unleashes a hail of 18 soft bullets from a machinegun-style ammunition clip.

A Lego airport and a grooming salon for battery-operated hamsters will also be among the must-have presents on children’s wish lists this year.


After Christmas What Next

During the run up the Christmas we looked at charity giving – a truly top banana idea, top toys  and visiting Dubai.  As the year draws to a close we muse over the expected price drops in the Sales both online and on the high street.

The long nights of December will now begin to shorten as we flip past the winter solstice and look forward to a New Year.

What will the New Year Bring?


Traditional January sales now commence on Boxing day in the high street – some online shopping sites even switch prices during Christmas day hoping to steal  amarch on the insatioable demand for buying stuff.

Much of the sale stock is odd sized clothing and soon to be obsolete consumer electronics – as an old sage used to say

Something is only a bargain if you actually wanted it in the first place

The temptation to spend spend spend is thrust at you from all directions but canny shoppers can make the most of the price reduction merry-go-round.

Big ticket items such as living room furniture especially sofas (notice the drive to sell sofas pre-Christmas so family entertaining will be possibel over the holiday period)

Most high street shops have a huge selection of furniture available online.  Top banana tip is to see if you can reserve your furniture online at the super discount sale price then decide if its right for you and your home when you go to a store where it is on display.

Travel bargains flights and car hire

Anyone fortunate enought to be able to take a holiday in early December will have had the pick of the best deals but for those looking to grab some winter sun it is recommended that they wait for a few more weeks and then see what long distance holidays are going for a song.  The price of far away flights to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Thailand and Florida are often at their cheapest in late winter/ early Spring. For extra value look out for package holidays that include car hire. Orlando for example is the busiest car rental market in the world with every national company that offers car hire USA represented at the airport desk.

Here are some ideas what to do in Abu Dhabi and for those that can’t stay out of the reatil loop Smart Traveller’s Abu Dhabi shopping guide and a good selection of things to occupy you if you choose to fly to Orlando and holiday in Florida you’re sure to pick up some great ideas for road trips in the sunshine state on the best of USA Driving Holidays

Whatever you choose – stay safe, have fun and enjoy.

Until 2010 Top Banana fans – keep ’em peeled.

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