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      24.09.2013 11:53
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      Makes a nice change to think positive about ones self!!

      I'm in general quite a negative person, I usually see the bad in most things including myself so for this review I'm going to look hard for things I actually like about myself......... mmm I'm stuck already............ ........in no particular order......... 1. I like the colour of my hair- it's naturally very dark with hardly any grey- just the odd strays that I pull out.............I don't need to dye it yet....... 2. I like my hazel eye colour............... 3. I like the way the way my kids have turned out........ 4. My soap box- I like my morals............ 5. My taste in music........ 6. My taste in film........ I'm glad I don't like 'bubblegum' stuff...... 7. I make a great spaghetti bolognaise!! 8. I'm not materialistic..........but am a saver........... 9. I feed the wildlife in the garden- including a rat- yes I know.......... 10. Most people think they're the best driver they know but I really do, do a mean reverse!!.....

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        17.08.2013 15:33
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        A sparkling set of theme tunes

        I decided that no ordinary review will do to mark my 200th milestone. No, nope and thrice nay. It needs to be something poignant, deep and meaningful...something to transcend time and leave a mark, however small it may be, on the legacy of mankind. Or I could just do a random Top 10 on a silly, pointless topic...whichever is easiest I suppose. Yeah, alright, the Top 10 it is - nobody would want to hear me philosophising anyway, I generally just end up with metaphors involving cheese and / or mountain goats. So, drawing a random topic out of a hat I ended up with...drum roll please..."My Top 10 Sci-Fi / Fantasy Theme Tunes". So without further ado and unnecessary pontificating with superfluous words and pointless waffling in an overly verbose and loquacious way here it is: 10. To start the countdown I'll begin with the rather quirky show that is "Warehouse 13 (2009-)" where agents scour the planet trying to snag artefacts that have mystical powers that can be very dangerous in the wrong hands - it is still an on-going show...for now. A highly amusing but silly show, but with enough sprinkling of seriousness to give it proper integrity it has a subtle but pleasantly catchy melody for its theme tune: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOuQPngU0io 9. Next up is "Sanctuary (2008-2011)" - the Amanda Tapping show that ran for four seasons before being cruelly cancelled (but at least it had a proper ending). With monsters lurking in our world, not all of them are bad and Dr Helen Magnus with her team offer sanctuary to the harmless but misunderstood ones and protect the world from the malignant ones. This show has not one but two theme tunes - they are both wonderfully atmospheric and almost tribal in nature - I personally prefer Season 3-4's theme but take your pick! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1po1tSBV74 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agKbbrd7gP0 8. In at number 8 we have "Haven (2010-)" based upon Stephen King's story "The Colorado Kid". Basically, FBI agent Audrey Parker comes to Haven to solve a murder and ends up staying to help in the small town in Maine that follows its namesake and acts as a refuge for "troubled" people that have inexplicable powers that enable them to do all kinds of things, often with terrible consequences. I'm amazed this show is still going to be honest given that better Sci-Fi shows get cancelled what with the silly plotlines and hammy acting, but there is something interesting about this show, and for me the theme tune is one of the best things about it with its beautiful, almost Irish orchestral sound: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ssl1IyeU38 7. Finally, a British show - there's not enough standout Sci-Fi shows in Britain for my liking, but one I particularly used to love was "Primeval (2007-2011)" until again it was cancelled. Still, it was picked up in America as "Primeval: New World (2012-)" but their theme is rubbish compared to our British one. The show's plot is basically anomalies (like worm holes) open up now again leading straight to different time periods of the earth's past / future and unfortunately deadly animals often wander through and need to be put back...or else people will get eaten. The theme is fast paced and exciting with an unnerving quality to it which always makes me think of dinosaurs about to sneak up on me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_PqgdQkCus 6. In at number 6 are the joint tunes for the cult vampire shows "Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)" and the spin-off "Angel (1999-2004)". I'm sure everyone knows what these shows are all about but if not well Buffy is a vampire slayer so she kills them among other such demon types...only she fell in love with Angel, a vampire with a soul. He then goes off into his own spin-off show doing much the same stuff. Their theme tunes kind of speak for themselves, Buffy's theme by Nerf Herder as a rocking, insane masterpiece that I always head banged to every time the show was on and Angel's theme by Darling Violetta which is hauntingly beautiful with some outstanding violins/guitars and lovely vocals: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYS-7mqpc7w http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVERs5cFF-A 5. The Smiths were such an awesome band that I feel I have to include "Charmed (1998-2006)" in this list for using a version of "How Soon is Now?". "Charmed" is that rather memorable show about a group of 3 sisters (when one dies another conveniently pops up ;-)) whose combined powers made them powerful witches in the face of demons and warlocks whilst battling troubles in their personal lives. It plays at a much faster and angrier pace than The Smiths' original and can never compare but is enjoyable nonetheless: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xN9xRFAX7YM 4. Again another short-lived show only making it to two seasons was Eliza Dushku's "Tru Calling (2003-2005)". I really liked this show as Tru was the girl fated to relive days in order to save the life of somebody that shouldn't have died and there was often a thrilling race against time. The theme for this show was by the band "Full Blown Rose" who unfortunately split before ever really making it but their song "Somebody Help Me" is so amazing with a haunting tune, some brilliant guitars and epic vocals. This band should have made it *sniffles*. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxybTOkxDsw 3. A no-brainer in at number 3 is Doctor Who - hazaar another British show! This theme has undergone a lot of evolution over the years but the essence has always remained the same and that is of a very cool, weird, eerie but utterly iconic tune. I'm pretty sure I would have been murdered in my bed if I'd missed this one off. Here are all versions up to 2010: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkcHgI_TIYQ 2. The penultimate tune in my crazy countdown is "The Twilight Zone (1950-1964)". No summary needed for this show other than strange, spooky stuff goes on at regular intervals! The tune is so iconic and so freaking weird that it is the ultimate standout theme tune: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVSRm80WzZk 1. So the winner of my top 10 Sci-Fi/Fantasy theme tunes has to go to the one, the only "The X-Files (1993-2002)". The superior long running show with David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as FBI agents investigating inexplicably weird events has a theme tune that is so spooky and atmospheric it will surely stand the test of time. Enjoy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQoRXhS7vlU So there you have it folks, thanks if you bothered to read through my self-indulgent ramblings. I'm sure many of you are screaming at me the names of many themes that I've undoubtedly missed and mentally and probably deservedly throwing imaginary rotten fruit at me but it is surprisingly challenging to condense hundreds of shows down in to a mere 10. Hopefully a lot of you will agree with my choices and also hopefully I haven't revealed too much of the inner workings of my mind through my TV watching habits. A girl has got to have some mystery about her. So, only another 100 reviews to go until the next milestone...easy peasy...

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          03.11.2012 00:01
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          I don't think my TV watching habits are THAT bad...

          Oh how times have changed, back in the day I used to be a complete soap fiend, glued to the likes of hollyoaks and Eastenders and now i don't even know what days of the week or times it comes on anymore (I think some days it's on at 8, some days at 7.30? I can't keep track!) Anyway, I have found my Top 10 TV programmes are completely different than they were probably 3/4 years ago since having my daughter I just found as a general somethings didn't do it for me anymore and of course a years maternity leave with a baby who could not communicate with me I found a whole new array of shows that I didn't know existed before! Anyway, as a refreshing change I have decided to write a brief review of my current favourite programmes - nb. in no particular order! 1. Jeremy Kyle I can't help it! I know the people are trashy and Jeremy shouts the same things over and over again like "You should have put something on the end of it!" and "get off facebook and get a job!" but I can't help it, it's absolutely hilarious and awfully addictive! Before when I was working part time I actually would look forward to 9.25 on my days off to see who he was yelling at this time, and who failed a DNA/Lie detector test haha! I completely forgot to do it this week, but I certainly think I am going to have to start setting this to series record so I don't miss too much lol. 2. Dexter OMG, I actually LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS SHOW. I remember it first airing in 2006 on itv1 at like 10pm one night and I stumbled across it by accident when flicking through the channels before bed and I have since become hooked. It follows Dexter Morgan our serial killer/blood spatter analyst for Miami metro homicide and the twists and turns he encounters in trying to keep his "dark passenger" hidden from the outside world. It's now on Series 7 in US and I watch it online every monday (after it's release on Sundays over the other side of the ocean) and it's sooo gripping I would recommend it to anyone as long as they don't like gore. I'm traumatised it will not be continuing after season 8, I don't know what I will do with my life! 3. TOWIE (or The Only Way Is Essex for those of you who don't know) Sadly this is where my reality tv whore-ness comes in. Funnily I didn't even watch the first 2 seasons of this show but I was forced to watch it at my sister's house about midway through the third series and became hooked. How sad am I? Of course we know 99% of the drama is set up but sometimes it's just so hilarious to watch them and on the sundays and wednesdays it comes on I feel like I live in Essex for the 45mins it's on lol. 4. Jersey Shore/Geordie Shore There isn't much between these two shows in that one is in New Jersey in America and of course one is here in lovely newcastle. It's pretty much throwing a bunch of wild, hormonal 20 somethings into a house and giving them the reins to drink as much as they like, party as much as they like and sleep around. Somehow though it's incredibly entertaining and I find myself wasting valuable sleeping time making sure I catch up on the goings ons with all the roomies in these 2 shows lol. 5. Dragon's Den It's kicking on now as it's been around for some time but I love watching a bit of Dragon's den! Seeing all these innovative entrepreneurs buzzing around the dragon's investment in often dodgy and unsustainable business ideas is rather entertaining and weirdly enough I have the strangest crush on Peter Jones! (My other half thinks it's weird anyway lol). As far away as I am from ever becoming a business woman it gives me a little insight into how the world works and how these dragon's can make an ordinary person's life goals become a reality. Even though often enough the dragon's come across quite conceited and like their s*** doesn't stink lol. 6. Gossip Girl Oh my where to begin. Chuck, Blair, Serena, Nate, Dan, Rufus, Lily, Georgina Sparks and Scandal on the upper east side. This is one of those programmes I discovered on maternity leave after my friend told me to buy the boxset to keep me entertained and I have continued watching it ever since. It has started to become repetitive as there is always some kind of "mystery" (who IS gossip girl?) to solve and the never-ending saga of "will they, won't they" with Chuck and Blair. Nevertheless it's on series record week in, week out I find myself glued to the screen telling my daughter and other half to "shh!". 7. The Mentalist See, I think I have a thing about TV shows about serial killers! The Mentalist normally comes on ch5 or 5* but where UK channels are sooo behind, this is another show I just watch online. It follows Red John a sadistic serial killer, and our "Mentalist" Patrick Jane who used to lead a life as a pretend psychic. That was until he claimed he knew who Red John was and then RJ set about and killed his wife and daughter. Ever since Jane has worked with the CBI as a consultant using his intuitive skills to help try and track down RJ and many other crimes perpetrated in between. 8. Mock The Week Ahh this show never gets old and gives me side splitting joy! It usually airs on a Thursday on BBC2 when it runs and is hosted by the charming Dara O'Brian and has the usual guest panellists of Hugh Dennis, Andy Parsons and where I first recognised Russell howard. It's essentially a politics topic show but with outrageously funny comments from our comedians. I must say I enjoyed it far more when the controversial Frankie Boyle was a regular but it still brings me to laughter so all is not lost. I have tried endlessly to get tickets to be in the audience for this show but alas to no avail! grr! I did get tickets to see 8 out of 10 cats which is filmed right next door so I think that is the closest I am going to get to be honest. 9. KUWTK (My sister's and my abbreviation for Keeping Up With The Kardashians lol) Boy these are a complicated and vain bunch but yet it makes for excellent TV watching. Seeing Kim's 72 day marriage dwindle before our very eyes was laughable and as a whole the sisters (and the rest of the clan) are nothing but an attention seeking bunch but again I blame my sister for getting me hooked on such a crappy yet I-can't-not-watch-it kinda show lol 10. Friends Sorry but it had to be mentioned! It is so sad but I know literally every episode off by heart, scene for scene, storyline for storyline. Most episodes I can tell you what it is about just by Rachel's hairstyle or a how chubby Joey is lol. It really is a timeless TV sitcom that for me never gets old and although it's not funny in a "HAHAHAHAHA!" kind of way it still amuses me and I'm sure in years to come I'll still be watching it and boring my daughter to death with it! To be honest I hardly even get as much time to watch TV these days as 99% of the time my daughter controls the remote and it's usually Dora the explorer or Mickey mouse clubhouse (although recently she has become engrossed in some Team Umizoomi and Bubble Guppies show? Don't know if anyone else has heard of these!) so I just sit reviewing or wait until she's asleep to enjoy some adult tv time (not that kind!). There are loads of past shows I absolutely love like 24, Prison Break, Big Bang Theory, IT Crowd and Will & Grace that I battled with my conscience with and they didn't make it on the list but deserved a mention lol. Anyway now you know what I'm watching whilst I'm sitting here reviewing the likes of toothpaste and wine haha!

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            17.09.2012 18:29
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            My 100th review - thinking about some of my favourite things

            I recently realized that my 100th review was approaching, and I decided I'd like to do something a bit different - and to think about something other than my beloved collection of cosmetics, toiletries, various foodstuffs and occasional electrical items. I wondered whether to write 'My Top 10 Beauty Products', or 'My Top 10 Favourite Reviews (that I have written), 'My Top 10 Favourite Products (that I've bought after reading other people's reviews', and so on. Then my husband suggested that I write about my Top 10 Top 10s, making a neat total of 100 (you can tell he's got a maths degree). Although this initially sounded a bit daunting, we soon put a list of topics together and I realized that I wouldn't have to write about anything in great depth. So - I'm going to talk about myself for a bit, please forgive the indulgence. I've really enjoyed thinking about all this, and writing it - I hope you enjoy reading it. It's a bit long! Although some of the lists will have a few details, some will be a simple list, or this piece would be even more ridiculously long than it already is. So, off we go, and the only order of preference is the first category - books, virtually the air that I breathe. ~~Books~~ Condensing this down to 10 has been almost impossible - I've been a voracious reader since the age of 5, but these are the ones that leap to the front of the list as I am writing this. 1: Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte. I first read this when I was 13, and I have a vivid memory of curling up in an armchair with my book and a packet of Victory Vs for sustenance (this was a very long time ago - 43 years ago to be precise). I loved Jane, and I loved how she managed to stay true to herself through all her travails. 2: My Life in France, Julia Child. Having seen the movie 'Julie and Julia', I was inspired to read more about Julia Child. Although I wasn't necessarily interested in reading about French cuisine (too much butter for this lactose-intolerant), I was fascinated by the wonderfully loving relationship she had with her husband. I've been incredibly lucky with mine too, so she and I have that in common. She writes with a wonderful voice, and had a fascinating life. Great stuff. 3: Little Women, Louisa May Alcott. I always sympathized with Jo, the awkward, stroppy teenager who wants to be a writer. 4: The Trapp Family Singers, Maria von Trapp. This was a gift from my parents when we lived in Singapore, after we'd seen 'The Sound of Music' for the first time. My copy is battered now, but is a real treasure. 5: The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett. The first two chapters were read out in a classroom in Singapore by a supply teacher when I was 10. I fell in love with the story and, to my absolute delight, I found a cheap copy at a book stall the following weekend. 6: Ever, Dirk: The Bogarde Letters, edited by John Coldstream. I used to listen to Bogarde's autobiographies on audio cassette while doing the ironing, and then fell in love with both his spoken and written words. I even wrote to tell him how much I enjoyed his work, and was thrilled to get a lovely letter back. 7: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, J.R.R. Tolkien (OK, it's three books, but I had a boxed set of paperbacks, and this is my list so I'm allowing it). For some reason I didn't read this until I was an adult, and took the set with me on a camping holiday to France. It proved almost impossible to put down. I loved the way he would leave you on a cliffhanger, desperate to find out what happened to a particular character, only to instantly draw you in to the adventures of the next one. 8: Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne. I've loved this since I was a child, and I also love the special memory of my husband reading it to me in bed, rendered unable to speak because he was laughing so much - which promptly sent me into absolute hysterics. 9: The Chrysalids, John Wyndham. My first introduction to science fiction, and to the possibility of other worlds. 10: The First Named, Jonathan Wylie. This one has a really special place in my heart, as it's the first book I wrote with my husband. Published in March 1987, a month after we got married, it was written before we really clicked into our joint writing style. I itch to go back and re-edit it, even though it's out of print, but it is still an achievement we're so proud of. ~~Music~~ This is where some of you may wish to look away now, as many of these are Il Divo tracks. Six, in fact, and I'm not going to tell you too much about why I enjoy them so much - just that they're very romantic and sung in a foreign language. 1 - 6: Il Divo: Regressa A Mi (their first single, after which I was a dedicated convert); Isabel; Adagio; Falling Slowly; Hasta Mi Final; Come What May (Te Amare). 7: The Smiths: Reel Around the Fountain. Our surname, our song. 'Fifteen minutes with you, oh, I wouldn't say no...' 8: Coldplay: Paradise. Apart from enjoying the music, the lyrics remind me of myself as a little girl. We frequently moved between RAF bases, including a stint in Singapore, and because I was a very shy child I found it hard to make friends. While there were lots of brilliant moments on our travels, there were also times when I had a bit of a struggle (although I have the most wonderfully lovely and loving parents). My Para-Para-Paradise came when I met my husband. 9: Coldplay: Viva La Vida. Dancing wildly around the room (OK, dancing wildly around the room in my head, but still...). 10: Muse: Map of the Problematique. I've always enjoyed this, but now it will be forever associated in my mind with that stirring boat trip down the river Thames, with David Beckham (sort of) at the helm as the Olympic flame approached the stadium. As they passed under Tower Bridge, the lyrics were 'When we bleed, we bleed the same', which seemed wonderfully appropriate. ~~Places~~ 1: My home in Lincolnshire, where I live with my husband, and where we are surrounded by my family - all within a few minutes' walk away. With one notable exception, that is, of which more later. 2: Hindolveston, the small village in Norfolk where we lived for more than 10 years, making a living as novelists. 3: Wells-Next-The-Sea on the North Norfolk coast. Not just for the beauty of its beach, but because we had so many wonderful times there with family and friends. 4: Barcelona, which we first visited to do some research for a novel. I don't like cities any more, after spending 15 years in London, but there are two exceptions - Barcelona, and 5: Sydney. One of my nieces fell in love with a young Australian man, and they now live in Sydney, which is definitely more than a few minutes' walk away. When they got married, we were lucky enough to be able to make it over there for the wedding, and spent Christmas with them afterwards (quite a honeymoon for them!). 6: Coledale, New South Wales. The little coastal village south of Sydney, where we spent a glorious week at the beach. 7: Lanzarote. We've been here a few times, but one of the most notable visits was a week we spent researching the volcanoes for a novel we were writing. We were granted permission by the National Park of Timanfaya to explore on our own, accompanied by a park ranger in a jeep. We were there for hours, and were allowed to get out and walk along the road, and also to go to a viewpoint no longer open to the public. I feel the volcanoes give off such a powerful energy, and I love the place. 8: Loggos, on the Greek island of Paxos. We were lucky enough to find this gem of a fishing village before it got too popular. Its quiet charm and beauty stole our hearts (and our money, because we kept going back for more). We went there a total of five times, three times by ourselves and twice with my husband's parents. We haven't been for 16 years, so I have no idea what it's like now. Our last visit was to celebrate my 40th birthday, and we found some budget accommodation so were able to stay for three glorious weeks. It was an absolutely enchanting place. 9: Cyprus, and especially Latchi, on the northwest coast. And even more especially the Takkas Bay Restaurant, set right on a sheltered pebble beach. We were in Cyprus for my 50th birthday, and ate there nearly every day. Beautiful views, open-air restaurant, delicious food. Heaven. 10: The Nostos Hotel, Kalithea, Halidiki, Greece, the setting for the piece I wrote recently on 'What is Your Ideal Holiday'. ~~Beauty Products~~ I'm just going to list these, as I've reviewed them all, and if you'd like to read further, the opportunity is there: 1: Lancome Bifacil Lotion; 2: Estee Lauder Automatic Eye Pencil Duo; 3: Rimmel Vinyl Lip Gloss; 4: Fructis Repair & Shine leave-in Conditioner; 5: Yves St Laurent Nail Lacquer in Fuchsia; 6: Max Factor False Lash Mascara (but not the 24 hour/waterproof version!); 7: L'Oreal Color Infallible Eyeshadows; 8: Pantene Pro-V Ice Shine Serum; 9: Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Lip Protectant; 10: Barbara Daly Pressed Powder in Fair. ~~Food & Drink~~ 1: Twiglets. I've been addicted to them since I was a teenager, and back in those days I could quite happily scoff my way through an entire box (olden day packaging). I was 5'7" and 7 stone, so I didn't need to worry about my weight (how things change, sigh); 2: Lettuce. I've been eating this in preference to vegetables for ages now - I just really really like salad.; 3: Krug champagne. Once drunk, never forgotten. And never afforded again; 4: Water. What can I say? I love the stuff, and drink loads of it every day; 5: Swedish Glace Ice Cream (which I've reviewed). Soya ice-cream, safe for me to eat; 6: Del Monte Raspberry Smoothies - sorbets disguised as lollies; 7: Manchego Cheese, a Spanish cheese made from ewe's milk; 8: Sushi; 9: Salted popcorn; 10: Kinnerton Luxury Dark Chocolate. ~~Television Programmes (past and present)~~ 1: Battlestar Galactica; 2: West Wing; 3: House; 4: Homeland; 5: Lie to Me; 6: Northern Exposure; 7: Twin Peaks; 8: Six Feet Under (especially the final episode, which has the best closing sequence of any television series ever); 9: Oh, The Shame: for this, read Neighbours and Home & Away. OK, that's two programmes, and I'm a 56-year-old woman, but I got hooked after my niece moved to Australia and I just wanted to soak up what I could! (I also have too much time on my hands); 10: Around the World in 80 Days, with Michael Palin. ~~ Movies~~ 1: The Philadelphia Story; 2: Gladiator; 3: Amelie; 4: Four Weddings and a Funeral; 5: Hannah and Her Sisters; 6: The Usual Suspects; 7: Now, Voyager; 8: All About Eve; 9: The Lion in Winter; 10: Roman Holiday. ~~ Souvenirs~~ 1: Two white stone birds, an owl and a falcon, bought on our first trip to Lanzarote. We love them not just because they're beautiful, but also because an owl and a falcon were characters in our first trilogy - the familiars of two wizards. 2: A little pottery cat which was a gift from my niece on Christmas Day in Australia. He's called Oz. 3: A silver pendant and matching earrings, which we bought in Greece this summer to celebrate our Silver Wedding Anniversary earlier in the year. 4: A brown heart-shaped leaf, from the same holiday, carried home oh so carefully in my handbag so that it wouldn't crumble. 5: A picture of and poem by Sir Arnold Bax, British composer (1883-1953) - one of my husband's favourite composers, and the inspiration for our novel 'Magister'. Bought in Glencolumbkille, Donegal, where we were researching part of his life. 6: A poster-size photograph of my husband, relaxing in an outdoor café in Greece. I got the photo as a freebie, and it's the best freebie I've ever had. 7: A poster from the El Grifo Bodega in Lanzarote. It features a lovely, chirpy, bright red griffin - or a little dragon, as we like to think of him. We have dragons in the two books we wrote after our research visit there, so he's a lovely reminder. He's also a lovely reminder of El Grifo's delicious wines! 8: A series of photos in our bedroom, featuring scenes from various holidays and reminding us of what a lovely time we had. 9: The huge photograph album/scrapbook we put together when we came back from Australia. Filled with wedding photos, and various bits and bobs such as the tickets for our cable car ride in the Blue Mountains and a tiny shell from our favourite beach, it's a wonderful reminder of our time there. 10: The most treasured souvenirs of all are not physical objects, but rather all the amazing memories we have - which are now part of who we are. ~~ Websites~~ 1 and 2: Dooyoo and Ciao, and I'm not just saying that to suck up. Both review sites have opened up a way of earning some pocket money that I really enjoy, and I've met some lovely people and made some wonderful friends; 3: Amazon; 4: eBay (as will probably have been made quite obvious by a lot of my reviews); 5: Facebook. I'm a relative newcomer, and I love the way I can keep in touch with people and share experiences; 6: Marks & Spencer; 7: Skype (for a very occasional chat with the aforementioned niece in Australia); 8: moneysaving expert; 9: TopCashBack; 10: Lincolnshire library's website - keeps me supplied with books. I can order from home, and my husband picks them up for me. And finally, ~~My Favourite Moments from the Olympics and Paralympics~~ 1: The opening ceremony - Boyle really played a blinder; 2: Bradley Wiggins winning gold in the Men's Time Trial Race; 3 and 4: from Super Saturday - Jessica Ennis winning the Heptathlon, and especially when she won the 800m race to finish it off; and Mo Farrah winning the 10,000m; 5: Andy Murray beating Roger Federer to win the tennis gold medal; 6: The Velodrome - as a huge fan of cycling, this was absolute heaven. Hard to pick the highlights, but I'll pick Chris Hoy's tears as he stands on the podium after winning gold in the keirin; 7: Tom Daly getting a bronze medal; 8: Oscar Pistorious competing in both the Olympics and the Paralympics; 9: Sarah and Barry Storey, the couple who won five gold and a silver between them - if they were a country, they'd have ranked 18th in the medals list; 10: the Olympics and Paralympics themselves - the whole glorious event. I'd been doubtful about whether we could pull it off and do a decent job, but I was an instant and enthusiastic fan as soon as it began. It was absolutely wonderful to watch, and also to hear the amazing, enthusiastic and generous spectators. I'm giving this five stars, because these are some of my favourite things. Right, that's your lot, and after all that, I'm off for a lie-down. I hope I haven't bored you to tears! (This review is also on Ciao, under the same user name.)

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              13.07.2012 14:48
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              "Top ten"

              This is a very generalised list of a few of my favourite things. I've seen a few of these being done recently so thought I'd make my own contribution, just for fun, as it's a slow Friday afternoon at work :o) So in no particular order... 1. Writing! This is one of my main reasons for joining DooYoo along with the obvious (monetary incentive). I enjoy all kinds of writing and for my job I write for our online clients. I have always loved creative writing, and one of my ambitions (perhaps a clichéd one) is to become a published novelist, though I have a feeling it will be some years yet, as the essence of many novels is experience! I'll persist at this though, whenever I have some spare time. I enjoy writing for DooYoo as it's an opportunity to reflect on purchases as well as getting advice on potential future purchases. I have a tendency to buy without thinking so this is also good for me to get opinions! I love people commenting as it adds a personal touch. 2. Music I spend a lot of time plugged into my mp3, my trusty old iPod classic 30GB. I'd say I get this appreciation for music mainly from my family, as my Dad is very musical and spends about 50% of his spare time playing his old Spanish acoustic guitar. We always always had music on at my family home, and even now I've moved away I still spend a lot of time listening to the radio and it's very motivational to get you through the day! My music taste is very varied, but I have a bit of a weakness for punk rock. Live music is one of my absolute favourite things to go and see, I recently saw Elbow live from Jodrell Bank, and despite the rain they gave a phenomenal performance! 3. Driving I loooove driving. We recently got an old car to get us to work and back as my other half is working nights now so it was a necessity as well as a convenience! I absolutely love driving whilst listening to music, and I don't even stall that often anymore... I don't think the novelty will wear off for me for a long time, it's so much fun! I don't even mind picking people up at midnight as the roads are so quiet. 4. Café life I love coffee! One of my favourite ways to treat myself is to go and chat in a café for hours with a friend, or just read a book. There's a lot to say with my best girl friends so we often make a day of it ;) 5. Reading When I get engrossed in a book, it will use up my spare time pretty quick. It has to be a really gripping read for this to happen! I have always loved reading. 6. Going to the cinema There's something about the atmosphere of a cinema that gets me all excited. The scent of popcorn perfuming the air and chatting in anticipation and eating shedloads of junk food without caring AND watching the latest releases - it's exciting :o) 7. Travel I love to be abroad, having adventures, getting a bit of culture, getting some sun (!) and generally widening my perspectives on everything. I au paired and it was a disaster but despite that I am saving up for future travels from my Dooyoo miles. Recent travels have included Stratford, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Turin, Milan, Pisa, Florence, Paris and Siena. We're planning a girls weekend away to Barcelona in the near future! 8. Spending time with my lovely boyfriend :o) We have awkward hours at work which means it's rare to get a day off together these days. Nevertheless, we recently moved into a house share together which is one of the best things we've done. We love to explore cities and go out for dinner, wander round art galleries and drink coffee, to have nights in with wine and music and watch documentaries and crap on TV. 9. Food! I do have a passion for food. Cooking is such a relaxing way to spend time if you've had a stressful day at work. I love experimenting with recipes and taking stuff to work to share. I'm veggie and nutrition is important to me as well as creative eating. I love going out for dinner - this is one of the best ways to spoil me ;) I have never dieted and hope not to have to, but I guess it is all about getting the balance right. I am a self confessed chocoholic and will eat anything with chocolate and always order the chocolate desserts in restaurants. I have a chocolate business over at thechocolatebox.moonfruit.com which is one of my experimental online endeavours but I hope to improve it lots in the coming months!! 10. Being outside I love to wander around in my own world thinking a great deal. I love long sunny days and warm summer nights and to be in the garden with friends.

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                29.06.2012 17:36
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                Tasty bags of crisps.

                For this topic I've chosen to do my top ten crisps as I love them. Crisps are most definitely one of my favourite snacks to eat. I literally have at least 2 to 3 bags of crisps a day there just something that I love but I do think these days they are getting a little expensive. 10. Wotsits Cheese Flavour. 50-60p If you would have asked me this a few years ago I would have probably put these higher up on the list. I find that Wotsits have become less cheesy as the years have gone buy but they still are a nice treat every now and then. 9. Quavers Cheese Flavour 50-60p I have always loved these because they are very cheesy and very addictive. 8. Quarterbacks 25p I used to eat these crisps like every day at school. I went away for 2 years and since I've come back it seems like they have become extinct. I recently found a shop that sells them and I regularly buy them again. Although they are American Cheeseburger Flavour they pretty much taste like cheese flavour. 7. Cheese Flavour Doritos. 60-70p As you can tell by now I love everything cheesy when it come to crisps and Chessy Doritos are by far the best in the bunch when it comes to cheesy goodness. 6. Swirls Prawn Cocktail Flavour. 33p I love these crisps they looks really advertising with there swirly shape and they taste great. The Prawn Cocktail used on the crisps can be a bit tangy at times but I really enjoy eating them. 5. Frazzles 40-50p Frazzles are very tasty and I always eat them as my house is always has loads of them in the snack cupboard. The look and smell almost like bacon. 4. Snaps Tomato Flavour. 39p Snaps where a favourite of mine growing up but these days I have trouble finding them in stores so usually buy them online. I think they are delicious in taste but I do find they are very addictive and one bag at a time just isn't good enough. 3. Flammin Hot Monster Much. 50-60p I love these because they has lots of flavour and they are nice to eat despite the fact of being shaped like feet. 2. Hula Hoops Original Flavour. 50-60p I love these and when I was a kid I used to put them all on my fingers like rings then eat them on by one. I think there addictive and I usually end up eating like 2 bags at a time. I think sometimes they are a little too salty side but that is quite rare. 1. Sensations Tai Sweet Chilli Flavour. 60-70p These are my favourite crisps at the moment I like that they are quite spicy and have lots of flavour. I usually just get the share bags when they are on sale for £1 and the regular bags are quite expensive.

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                  18.05.2012 18:22
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                  A bit about the things I love xx

                  1. Family. My little girl is the light of my life and I don't know how I ever lived without her. My husband is also amazing and I'm so glad to have a happy family unit as a lot of people in my extended family don't get on. 2. Motherhood. I realise this ties into the above but it has to go here but I have changed so much since becoming a mother and also learned so much- I learn something new every day. And I love seeing the world from my daughter's eyes, it's like being a child again but with an adult's understanding of time and presence.. And it makes every 'hard' day worth every bit! 3. Veganism. I couldn't ever go back to eating any animal products after I learned what goes on with their production and I am always grateful that I found this path. 10 years ago I took my diet into my own hands and I have never looked back. It's not just something I do, it's a lifestyle choice and therefore a huge part of my life. 4. Camping. This has to get its own spot because I love it that much! I live in a smoggy industrial city in the Midlands and it can get overwhelming at times. We used to live in Devon which suits me much better but my husband had to move because of his job so of course mam and babby came with him. So camping away from the city ever now and again does wonders for my health and also my mindset I think as otherwise I can get bogged down by city busyness/mass consumption/stressed out people etc. 5. Reading. I have had a love of reading from the moment I was able to, I read all kinds of books, magazines, anything anyone puts in front of me. Which is where dooyoo fits into it all, too! 6. World cinema. I like all cinema really though horror and action are at the bottom of the list. After watching Story of a Weeping Camel and then 7 Years in Tibet both by chance, as they were chosen by friends, I started looking into other films made by different countries and I have been amazed at how different and inspiring they can be. This is probably because I also love 7. Travelling. I stopped flying years ago when I realised how bad it is for the environment but we do still travel overland sometimes on the train. But aside from other countries I also love travelling around the UK, there is so much to do and see here right on our doorstep and people can be so different with their own rituals and customs even in this country, so I love learning about stuff like that! I guess you could say I love.. 8. Learning. I am currently learning two languages, I'm always learning as a mother and I also love learning through books, whether about historical events or people's perspectives on things.. Which is why I review a wide assortment of things! 9. Tutoring. This is what I do for a living and it's hard work but it's fab. After graduating from university I went to work for a big faceless firm because that's what everyone thought I should do, work my way up and earn lots of money to pay off my debts, but 2 years later of working in the office I was depressed and felt lost.. So I got sick.. Anyway this all led to me quitting and thinking 'hm what else can I do?' and I was tutoring a friend's son in English at the time and suddenly I thought.. Well why not? So I registered at a company and I passed all the tests and as I say it is hard work with marking and guiding and generally being a mentor for lots of children of all ages BUT what I love is how rewarding it is and how little pressure there is on me - compared to normal teaching - as I get to teach the way I want to and all anyone looks at is the child's grades improving which happens all the time and therefore makes every second worth it. 10. Cooking. This ties into my veganism as I only really learned to enjoy food after choosing to take my diet into my own hands which led to exploration of cooking books and foods I hadn't tried before like falafel and quinoa and cous cous, well the list is huge because I really never paid much attention to what I ate as a meat eater. So anyway I love preparing nutritious meals for the family now and especially my little girl who I hope is getting the best start in life thanks to that. So now you know a lot more about me ;D How about you??

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                    17.05.2012 19:50
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                    That's what I like to do in my spare time!

                    Working 6 days a week, and all the travelling involved with my job, I don't really feel as though I have much spare time, but when I am at a loose end there are numerous activities that I like to try and fit in. This is a list of my top 10 favourite things that I enjoy doing in my spare time. They are in no particular order, as I think that it is too difficult to separate some of them: 1: Dooyoo! I have been a member of the Dooyoo community for about 3 years now, and I really enjoy spending my time on here writing, reading and rating a variety of different products. At first I was skeptical about the site - would it really pay money out for writing reviews? I remember getting to my first 50000 dooyoo miles and redeeming them for a cheque, and I stopped writing for a week or so, as I eagerly awaited the £50 cheque to appear, and I was over the moon when it arrived - and it got accepted at the building society! An even better feeling was when I got my first crown - I had to do a double take, and I kept telling everyone in my family and friends about it, even though they probably had no idea what I was on about!! I pop into Dooyoo most days - often at work in my breaks, just to read and rate. 2. Family and friends! I feel very lucky to have a great family that I get on well with, from my wife, my mum and dad, my brother, uncles, aunties, cousins, and all my in-laws. I tend to spend lots of my spare time visiting them, or speaking on the phone, and if I had more time I would love to do more of it. I also enjoy spending time with my friends, and see most of them at least once a week. 3. Jigsaws! This is a hobby that I have not done for a few years now, but I have several Jigsaws that are un-opened and ready for me to tackle next time I get some spare time. About 7 years ago, I used to complete a Jigsaw puzzle roughly every month, but that stopped when I had a cat, as he would always get in amongst the pieces, and it proved impossible. Now I have a little office though where I should be able to start enjoying them again in piece. 4. Speaking of my cat - Arnold, I just have to include him in this list! He is the little fella in my profile picture (The fluffy ginger one, not the bald headed one!). He often occupies a lot of my spare time, either playing around with me, or having a doze on my knee whilst I watch TV. 5. Earning money on the internet. I do spend a lot of my spare time earning bits of money, or vouchers from a whole host of different sites, by writing reviews, answering surveys, completing searches etc. The money comes in very handy, and I actually enjoy doing it. If anyone wants to know more about this, then please feel free to Inbox me. 6. Share trading. I have dabbled around with trading stocks and shares for over 10 years now, and it is a hobby I expect I will be doing even more of in the future. My Job is set to disappear next year, as my department is being transferred to China, and so I hope to use a little portion of my redundancy money to have a proper go at trying to make a living from trading stocks and shares full time. 7. Gardening. Up until last summer I could not stand gardening, and used to keep my garden as simple as possible, to reduce the work required to keep it neat and tidy. More recently though I have really got into it, and actually enjoy getting out in the fresh air, and planting more and more new things. I find it therapeutic, and get a real sense of achievement from it once I have it exactly as I want it. 8. Cider. I really love a nice cold glass of cider, with a few cubes of ice in it, and often treat myself to a glass or 2 in the evening if I'm not at work. 9. Running. This is one of my most recent hobbies that I have only been doing for a month or so. It started with me running the 'Killer Mile' at Mow Cop (Staffordshire) for charity back in April, and I really got the bug for it. I run most weeks now, and earlier this month I ran a 5K race at Trentham Gardens in support of the Donna Louise Trust. I intend to get involved with as many runs for charity as I can over the foreseeable future, to help out all the great causes, and to keep myself fit at the same time. 10. Holidays. In between a full time job, and the other 9 hectic activities listed above, I love nothing more than getting away from everything for a week away on holiday. This year I have a week at the beginning of July booked up for Bulgaria, and a week at the end of August booked up for Turkey (reviews to follow I'm sure!). In between these two weeks, a large group of my friends are joining my wife and I for the Queens Jubilee weekend at a caravan park in Wales - plenty to look forward too. Thanks for reading, I hope this wasn't too boring, and that everyone feels that they now know a little bit more about L500589 (aka Mark). © L500589 2012

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                      17.05.2012 11:54
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                      The 10 things I love the most.

                      1. My family and friends. They are amazing and I don't know how I would function without their constant love and support. 2. My fiancé. We're getting married at the end of the year and I don't know what I'd do without him. He is my best friend and he knows and understands me so well it's scary. I can be really difficult at times but he knows just how to handle these situations. We make each other happy and at the end of the day that's what matters the most. 3. Making my own money. I love that I can spend my money on whatever I want and I don't have to answer to anyone, and no one can question me about it. 4. Holidays. I love travelling and visiting new places and learning about different cultures. My fiancé and I are thinking about visiting Mexico next year if we can save enough money, and I am already so excited! 5. Shopping. I love shopping but I prefer to do it alone as I am quite decisive and people who take ages to decide whether they want something or not drive me crazy. I find it therapeutic to visit a few shops, try on a few things, buy a couple of things and then just sit at a Starbucks sipping on a caramel frappuccino-yum! Buying things really does make me happy. 6. Beauty products. Call me vain if you want, but I do think it's important to be properly groomed at all times. While I don't wear a full face of make-up on a daily basis, I do think it's important to always look presentable and I also actually really enjoy taking care of my skin. 7. Baking. I love baking! Cooking too for that matter, although I don't do a lot of it. I love baking for other people and it makes me really happy to see people enjoy my freshly baked goodies. 8. Food. I love food. I often think/daydream about food and eating out and have favourite dishes at all my usual restaurants. 9. The Cinema. Friday nights are usually spent at the cinema with a large coke (and occasionally candy or popcorn) and my favourite people. 10. Sleeping. I love it. I find it really hard to get out of bed in the morning and would really like a job where I can start working in the afternoon. While I was at university there were some days where I actually didn't get out of bed till 4 pm!

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                        27.12.2011 06:24
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                        My fave TV comedies.

                        Here's my list of top 10 comedies (straight off the top of my head), there are some comedy-dramas that I have left off as this is all straight comedy. 10. The Catherine Tate Show Sketch show that launched Catherine Tate from nowhere to star seemingly overnight. Some of the characters are a bit ho hum but the show deserves a spot on this list for the Nan character alone. I swear she was based on my Gran! 9. Little Britain British phenomenon, Little Britain really does need no introduction. Favourite characters have to be Lou and Andy, never gets old for me. Yes there were a few sketches I just did not find funny but on the whole, one of the strongest British comedy shows. 8. Friends Perhaps the biggest sitcom ever, I doubt there is anyone out there who hasn't seen a single episode. The comedy about six friends living in New York caught the world's attention, from the catchy theme to the loveable characters to the often ridiculous scenarios, people cared about what happened to the Friends. The episodic nature of the show has made it a syndicators dream and great for filling a spare hour or two on an afternoon. Laughs galore. 7. Raising Hope This one is a little lower on the radar, especially in the UK. Whilst perhaps not reaching the high peaks of other shows on this list, Raising Hope is consistently funny, which is more than can be said for a lot of shows out there. I have yet to see a bad episode, there is always something to give you a little laugh. The comedy about a relatively poor family raising the product of a one night stand with a serial killer is entertaining and heart-warming at the same time. 6. Dead Like Me Killed by a toilet seat, George becomes a reaper, helping souls to move on after death. Black comedy from Bryan Fuller this may not be for everyone. It was a short lived series but high quality while it lasted, I would definitely recommend giving it a go. 5. Family Guy Seth MacFarlane's humourous family and neighbours never fail to entertain me (maybe apart from in the last two seasons!). Stewie is my favourite character and the Stewie/Brian combo has carried many an episode. I love the cutaways showing the characters memories from a totally random time. The randomness takes you by surprise and the content always tickles me. 4. American Dad! Another MacFarlane production, similar to Family Guy but better. Roger the alien is the best character, he never fails to amuse. Perhaps a little more adult, I've preferred American Dad! to Family Guy since the pilot. It's allll down to Roger, amazing character. 3. Parks and Recreation Not given a UK airing yet, Parks and Rec needs to be shown over here, it is so good! Written by the same people as the American Office, I am surprised that it hasn't been shown here. There is definitely a place for it. Following the lives of small town government workers, the show is a surprising hive of hilarity. Amy Poehler owns the role of Leslie Knope, bloody love her. 2. 30 Rock Tina Fey, God. That pretty much sums it up. The Tina Fey led NBC show about a Tina Fey led NBC show may have dropped off a little bit this year but it is still way ahead of most comedies. Alec Baldwin is a brilliant comedy actor and the whole cast works together so well. Totally random humour that can sometimes be pretty lame, that is the beauty of the show! 1. Modern Family I can't get enough of this show. Brilliant. The show about a truly modern family comprising of three totally different couples and their offspring keeps me laughing every week. Phil Dunphy is literally the best character created, ever. The only problem with this show is that it is only half an hour long! Hope you enjoyed the read! Let me know in the comments if you agree/disagree :)

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                          30.05.2011 13:32
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                          Games for the EFL classroom, 1 for every year I've been on Dooyoo...

                          I know exactly where I was 10 years ago today. It was the end of my first year of university, and I was sitting in a computer room on Sackville Street, signing up to Dooyoo in an attempt to earn some Amazon vouchers. I wrote 15 reviews that day, all of them rather shocking. Back then I was studying a computing based degree and had no idea that a decade later, via a second degree and a career in healthcare, I would find myself over in South America teaching and, far less likely, still on Dooyoo. But here I am, and so to mark a scary 10 years of reviewing, I'm heading back to put my feet up in the Lounge for this one with an appropriate Top 10. I work at a top language institute. It's part of a multinational chain, and not one of the dubious fly-by-night set-ups that promise you'll be fluent in English by the time your cheque clears. My institute only employs native speakers, and only those who are properly TEFL qualified (which means CELTA or Trinity), two things which many other local schools are not bothered about. As a result, they can charge more for courses, and as a result of THAT, the pressure is on us to provide interesting and effective lessons. I mainly teach adults who spend all day at work and the come to class with me for 2 hours, 4 times a week. It's intense and they're all drained and tired by the time 6.30pm comes. And while we could do every exercise Cutting Edge and New English File have to offer, paging though the students' book, workbook and teacher's book in turn, it's much more fun - and effective - to break up the monotony with some fun games. So here, in no particular order, are my Top 10 games for teaching. (1) WIKI RACES The newest addition to my games repertoire is courtesy of Scott Mills - I download various podcasts to listen to at the gym (and to keep me in touch with what's happening at home) and he recently talked about this on his show. The idea is simple, and all you need is access to a computer room - no handouts or other preparation required. Each student sits at a computer (they can work in 2s in big classes) and you explain that they have to navigate from one Wikipedia page to another, only using the blue links. They cannot type words or leave the website, and they have to stay on the English version. The aim is to get from the starting word to the target word in as few clicks as possible. They need to keep track of their clicks, but they can do this in Word / Notepad, or by hand. This is a great game for reading practice, and can go on for however long you need it to. Some races we have used include: JOHN LENNON ----- > CHAPSTICK - random, but they were obsessed with their lips that day (it was a teens class) GERMAN LANGUAGE ----> BOGOTA PIZZA ----> HARRY POTTER (2) SLAPS Minimal Pairs is the language term that refers to the subtle difference in some sounds, for example /sh/ and /s/ or /r/ and /w/. Mistakes can be great fun in class but eventually the time comes when you feel you should clear up the differences (for me this came once one student called another "a sh*tter" instead of "cheater" while in the same lesson the difference between "seat" and "sh*t" was apparently not clear...) Minimal Pair slaps works well with adults as they are better behaved than children and less likely to go out of their way to hurt each other... You pair them up and sit them facing each other, hands together, fingers touching as in traditional playground slaps. You assign each student a sound and then read a list of words aloud. If the student identifies it as their sound, they can try to slap their partner's hands. Students might get carried away, shrieking and trying to dodge the slaps, but at least it gets them energised and is more fun than simply making them point to the relevant sound on the board. (3) NOUGHTS AND CROSSES, GRAMMAR STYLE... Everyone knows Noughts and Crosses (or Tic-Tac-Toe for our American cousins) but with only a little tweak it's just as fun (and more educational). You draw up the board, and label the squares from 1 to 9. Students form two teams, and choose their numbers in turn...but they can only get their 0 or X once they answer the question correctly. The questions are pre-assigned, so the one for #5 is always the one for #5, for example. This means that if the other team know the answer, they can choose it if the first team gets it wrong - or equally, they can avoid it if they don't know the answer. This is a simple game you can use to fill time at the end of a lesson, or for revision. I use it with a specific theme (e.g. past participles) or for pot-luck when we're coming up to an exam. The students tend to get competitive (in a nice way) and are determined to win, even though the only prize I give out is a hearty 'Well Done'. Again, no preparation is needed (assuming you can think up 9 questions on the spot that are relevant to the course) and you just need a white board and markers. (4) PLACE YOUR BETS NOW... In many classes you know who your strong and weak students are - it's clear by who puts their hand up and who tries to disappear into their chair. While you can get around this by asking specific students by name, this can be a bit tough on the weaker ones, so I like this game to get everyone to participate in a 'safe' way. For whatever language you're testing (can be reading, listening or grammar) you need to devise multiple choice questions. Each student then gets a set of cards labelled A, B, C etc and when the question is asked they have to 'place their bets' by holding up the relevant letter. This way you as the teacher can see what answer everyone is giving, but they don't have to be embarrassed if they get it wrong as their fellow students won't be able to see. I first used this with relative pronouns (they had to vote whether it was who / where / when etc that would complete the sentence) but have since revived it for many other subjects. If you are lazy (or decide to do this off the cuff and don't have cards prepared) you can also do this by giving them two options only, and asking them to do a thumbs up/thumbs down, a right hand up / left hand up, or even a stand up / sit down vote, though these are obviously more visible than nice, anonymous voting. (5) BOARD SPELLING Leading on from the above, this is another game where everyone has to give their own answer at the same time. It works better in small classes (say up to 8 students) but in larger ones you could do them in tag teams I guess. Again, the idea is simple. Students stand up against the board, each with a different coloured marker. You call out a word, and they have to write it up. At the end of the spelling 'test' you make them stand back and ask them, as a group, to decide which spellings are right, and which are wrong. It's not wildly different from a written on paper spelling test, but somehow the taboo of THEM being able to write on MY board (!) gets them all excited. It also gets them out of their chairs for a bit, great in longer classes where they might otherwise fall asleep (and / or stay on their Blackberries the entire time). Most of the time my classes are pretty good natured, and don't mind when everyone laughs at funny spellings, but in classes which are meaner, I might think twice about using this as it does make mistakes obvious. I recently did this with a beginners class, using town vocab. You wouldn't believe how many different spellings of 'church' we had... In a more advanced class I did this with past tenses and past participles too, equally enlightening. (6) MEMORY Based on the traditional game of the same name, this one takes a little preparation but is worth it. I make tiles out of paper, either typed or simply printed by hand. I cut up one set for every 2-3 students, and then in class we play by turning them over two at a time, trying to match them. Rather than a simple identical pair, I tend to do words that go together, for example present and past, or rhyming words. If they get a match, they get another go and the goal is to get as many pairs as possible. In a slightly perverse way (punishing them for winning more) I then get the students to make sentences using the words they've won. (7) WEB QUEST If you have access to a computer room, this is a great lead in for almost any topic. I first used it when we were doing a soap opera. Before they got to write and act out their scenes, they had to find out about some famous soaps. I gave each student (or pair of students) a grid and they had to use the internet to find out the answers. For this one I used fields like date first aired, filming location, famous plotlines and so on for Neighbours, As The World Turns, Coronation Street and so on - basically anything that's from an English language country. I've also done one on magazines and famous Britons, the latter as a lead in to biographies. It makes a change from sitting in the normal classroom and there are subtle differences to using the internet in different languages, so it builds these skills too. (8) FICTIONARY (or CALL MY BLUFF) In smaller classes this is fun for building vocabulary. I put the students into two teams, and give each of them a stack of words they should know (but probably don't) or words that I know will shortly be coming up in the course book. They have time to look them up in the dictionary and for each word have to write the correct definition and two fake but plausible definitions. The other team then have to guess which the right meaning is. All you need for this is a couple of dictionaries, pen and paper, but if you're based abroad, a knowledge of the local language is useful to ensure you don't give them words that are similar and therefore too easy to guess. (9) FACT SCAVENGER HUNT This is another one I use to get students out of their seats. It's a mix of a web quest and a scavenger hunt, and anything that cannot be discovered on the internet can be found within the building. It's a race, either alone or in pairs, to see who can get the answers first. Sample questions include: * Who is Nick Clegg? * What is the address of the school? * How many nationalities are employed here? * If you were a level GE4 and did TOEFL, what sort of score could you expect to achieve? * Name two people who were born on 16th August. * What happened on 13th July 1985 * How many tiles are there in the courtyard? In other words, a mix of things to look up, ask someone about, and find out themselves by going and looking. I tend to prep the receptionists in advance so they only agree to answer questions asked in English, so they can't cheat too much... (10) NAME GAME This is my all time favourite since I made it up (or at least, I'd never heard of it before I first did it in class). It's simple but fun, especially on the first day of a new class. I write up my name on the whiteboard, vertically, and then in a different colour turn each letter into a word, for example: Zebra Orange English Then I make everyone guess the significance of those words to me. Depending on the level, I'll accept variations on the answers I'm expecting, for example beginners can say orange is my favourite colour or favourite fruit, but for more advanced students I don't let them have anything other than it being the colour of my high school uniform. Equally, English is not my nationality, but I'll let the lower levels get away with that - everyone else needs to use the words 'mother tongue' or 'native language' to get the point. When we're finished with me, they have to do it for their names, though in the Hispanic world I'll let them abbreviate if they have some long-winded moniker like 'Maria-Concepcion' - asking them to introduce themselves in 15 words is just mean! And the ones that didn't quite make the top 10? There are so many, from '2 Truths and a Lie' to 'Find Someone Who...' to 'Number Off' (guess what those numbers represent in my life...then do your own for us to guess - great for practicing questions). Many textbooks also have board games - or you can find them online. I carry dice and counters in my pencil case just for this reason. Plus of course, there's charades, that oldie but goodie which is so versatile. Beside the usual film / book titles, you can also do it for simple verbs, and targeting specific language points. For example, recently we were doing "I like .....ing" so we did action charades but they only won a point if they said it in the correct form, i.e. simply shouting out "Tennis" didn't cut it - they had to say "She likes playing tennis" (and make sure the 's' on 'likes' was audible). You can also use it for more abstract things, like emotions - a little trickier to act at times, but just as fun. I use as many games as possible with my older students. Children love them too, of course, but sometimes Teens think they are too grown up for such things. By the time they get to adult life, however, I guess chances to play in the real world are few and far between so they enjoy being able to do something fun and silly. Plus, it's a great way to learn as games require you to be more engaged than some text book activities. For this reason, I try to use at least one game every 2 lessons with my older students, and the feedback we get confirms that the students like them too. I don't know where I'll be in another 10 years, though chances are I won't still be teaching (in fact I've only been EFLing on one other of my dooyoo 'birthdays', though I've been out of the UK for more than half of them). But, while I am still doing classes, games really do help keep things fun, for me as much as for my students.

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                            17.05.2011 01:42
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                            Daisy's Top 10 Comedy TV Programmes

                            1. The Inbetweeners Hiarious comedy about a group of average teenage boys desperate to become popular and lose there virginities. The funniest part about it is the things they get upto are totally believable and they're the type of lads most people actually know in real life! This is a hugely successful tv series and they now have there very own movie, which quite honestly i can't wait to see! 2. Misfits This is actually a drama series and is at times very dark, but the character Nathan adds the huge comedy factor to it with his weird antics, one-liners and facial expressions. Kelly is also hilarious with the stuff she comes out with and over the top chavvy accent, aswell as the brilliant storylines adding a humouros yet ironic twist to much of the episodes. 3. Little Britain Although i don't like the more recent series, i can still look back at the first series and be in tears from laughing. So original, with dry and sometimes slapstick humour. Genius! Especially the character Vicky Pollard who's now known pretty much world wide! The fact that she reminds me of about 10 different girls i used to know just makes it that bit funnier. 4. Friday Night Dinner This is a series about 2 guys who are in there early 20s who go to there parents home for dinner every friday night. Really funny because it seems so real and the characters are just like people you know in real life! The guy with the dog Wilson is hilarious! "He did poo's.. all over my bed." The fact the actor says half the stuff he says without laughing is a miracle. The dad, who's half deaf and half child is hilarious too with the stuff he attempts to get up to behind his whiney wifes back. 5. Skins Again, this is more of a drama than comedy but the script is designed for it to be ok for the audience to laugh at the geeky characters and there antics. 6. The Royle Family I've only just gotten into this programme but find it a bit too familar to my own family! The dad's the funniest, with the daughter's partner bein absoloutly the double of my dad, making it so funny i nearly wet myself upon watching a scene with him in it! I think his name's Grahame, and the daughter is just as funny. Very reaslistic characters with amazing screenplay and faultless acting. 7. Gavin and Stacy Smithy (James Corden) definetly makes the programme what it is. Smithy's the chavvy essex lad with a heart of gold who everyone loves. Simple prospect to the storyline, a couple (gavin and stacey)'s romance blossoming and them going through the stages of getting to know eachother and meeting eachothers frinds and family, with most of us bein able to relate to atleast 1 character. 8. Fonejacker This is more of a documentary type programme but still hilarious, although sometimes i do question if it's staged at times. It involves a man who's amazingly good voice impressions prank calling members of the general public, with the funniest calls recorded, edited and put into each episode. The indentities the prank called assumes range from a mouse, an african identity thief, a cockney business man and a chinese teenager trying to sell pirated DVD's. 9. Russell Howards Good News This is russell howard's stand up programme where in front of a live audience he discusses what's bein going on during that week. The fact most of his gags are politically incorrect and verging on bein seriosly offensive make the programme what it is. He's also amazingly good looking, down to earth and is able to poke fun at himself. 10. Family guy Peter and Stewie are what make the programme hilarious! Peter's the kind of immature, lazy man we all know. He reminds me of my friends boyfriend, with one scene involving peter hiding in a pile of clothing actually already previosly bein done by my friends boyfriend! It still makes me laugh even thinking about it. Stewies an evil baby genius with a vulnerable and slightly camp side to him. Hope you enjoyed the read :-) - Daisy x

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                              16.03.2011 16:38
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                              A slice of my taste in music

                              10) Kaiser Chiefs (Indie Pop/rock) First song heard: I Predict A Riot Made me fall in love: I Predict A Riot Fave song: Saturday Night Fave album: Employment I liked the wild side to their music. I played their first album on CD all the time in summer 2006. I liked the other two albums, but I think their debut will always be the best one. Ricky's voice is a bit average at best, but everything seems to work for me. Despite the lyrics not being very breath-taking or amazing, I do find a lot of it though provoking with hints of blunt honesty. They're an odd group, which is why I love them. 9) Placebo (Alternative Rock) First song heard: My Sweet Prince Made me fall in love: My Sweet Prince Fave song: My Sweet Prince Fave album: Without You I'm Nothing Discovered the band by accident in 2005 while watching fan-made music videos. The original video I found that introduced to the song has been removed for copy-right reasons, but My Sweet Prince still remains a haunting and blunt ballad to me. I love the eeriness in Brian Meko's vocals and how it blends with the deep lyrics. In the progress of saving money up so I can get all the albums on CD. 8) Garbage (Alternative Rock) First song heard: The World Is Not Enough Made me fall in love: #1 Crush Fave song: #1 Crush Fave album: Undecided on this one. I love the grungy tone in Shirley's vocals and her deep tone makes her stand out from the crowd. They've been consistently great with a lot of thought provoking songs that end up being dark and beautiful at the same time. When I heard they were recently working on a new album, I was pleasantly surprised. 7) Evanescence (Alternative/Gothic/Symphonic Rock) First song heard: Bring Me To Life Made me fall in love: Going Under Fave song: Haunted Fave album: The Open Door Some very deep and sometimes depressing music, but for some reason it makes me happy. Amy Lee's vocals pleased me beyond expectations in The Open Door, especially in The Weight Of The World. One band I would definitely would love to see live. 6) The Sins Of Thy Beloved (Gothic Metal) First song heard: My Love. Made me fall in love: Until The Dark Fave song: Forever Fave album: Perpetual Desolation Favourite music discovery of 2010 for me. Very dark and beautiful. It's a shame they haven't done anything new in over ten years. I like the mellow tone in Anita's voice and the violins made their music stand out even more. I saw some clips from their live concert recorded on video and I think they sound much better live than on the studio versions. I really want to own the live CD and video but they're a very rare items because they were poorly distributed. 5) Destiny's Child (R&B) First song heard: With Me Made me fall in love: Survivor Fave song: Bills, Bills, Bills Fave album: The Writing's On The Wall Very upbeat and satisfying music. I like the attitude thrown in with their songs. The Writing's On The Wall was one of my saviours at college last year and one of the few albums I ended up buying twice. Their debut is really underrated in my opinion and I think they make fantastic single choices. 4) Nightwish (Symphonic Metal) First song heard: Walking In The Air Made me fall in love: Phantom Of The Opera Fave song: While Your Lips Are Still Red Fave album: Dark Passion Play Nightwish have made a huge impact on me. Their cover of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom Of The Opera", brought me into the fanbase of The Phantom Of The Opera. It made me buy the movie, soundtrack, see it in theatre and made me love Sarah Brightman. Tuomas is very imaginative when it comes to song writing and I like his arrangements. My favourite album with the first lead singer, Tarja is Oceanborn, while my favourite overall is Dark Passion Play. They keep on improving and continue to get stronger as a band. They've made many risks in their career, but I think every one of them worked. 3) Within Temptation (Gothic/Celtic/Symphonic Rock/Metal/Pop) First song heard: Angels Made me fall in love: Memories Fave song: The Dance Fave album: Enter/The Dance/ Mother Earth/The Silent Force/The Heart Of Everything/The Unforgiving/Black Symphony Despite a lot of gradual reinventions of themselves, I think all of their albums have been consistently good. I like how each album sounds very different to the other while having a special trademark in Sharon's voice. They're one of the most diverse bands around. 2) Depeche Mode (Synthpop/ New Wave/Electronic) First song heard: Just Can't Get Enough Made me fall in love: Only When I Lose Myself Fave song: Dressed In Black Fave album: Black Celebration/Violator Simply beautiful. A lot of their music sounds very experimental and I feel like I'm in another world when I'm listening to their music. Black Celebration and Violator in my opinion ticks all the boxes of how I would describe a perfect album because I love their dark atmosphere in the music. 1) Sugababes (Pop) First song heard: Overload Made me fall in love: Overload Fave song: Stronger Fave album: Three Favourite band for a long time. I've always found their glaring line-up changes very interesting while still constantly enjoying their music. They've long past their peak and currently into a very black era. A lot of people think this black era of the Sugababes began when Keisha left, but I think it started since Mutya left because they lost a lot of originality with Mutya. I still love all the line ups and albums though. I've made lots of memories with this group's music. Honourable mentions: Muse, Spice Girls, T.a.T.u., Eths, Arch Enemy, Tristania, Therion, Iron Maiden, Flyleaf, Kamelot, Atomic Kitten, Eternal, Busted, Fightstar, Take That, Epica, Alestorm, Nirvana, The Beatles, Leaves' Eyes, Mindless Self Indulgence, Queen, TLC, The Veronicas, Levellers, Metallica, Gorillaz and Kamelot.

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                                11.02.2011 19:12
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                                My Top 10 Films

                                Here is a countdown of my top 10 films that I could think of from the top of my head I know for a fact I am going to miss a few out that should be in this list but I still love each of the films on there. 10) Inception - Released in 2010. This film delves into dreams and the sub conscientious. The lead role is played by one of my favourite actors Leonardo DiCaprio he is assigned a task of planting an idea into someone's mind in a small team, in order to return home. The film will play with your mind and it can be hard to follow if you're not concentrating. The special effects on this film are sensational and I would love to know how they do some of it. 9) Avatar - Released in 2009 Avatar has broken pretty much every record there is. The films effects and techniques used is a giant leap in film making. The film is set on a remote planet called Pandora where a group of people called the Na'vi dwell. The Na'vi are trying to protect there land from the humans as they mine for unobtanium. The humans ask one of there own to infiltrate the Na'vi camp disguise in a Na'vi body called an Avatar but things don't go to plan. 8) Paranormal Activity - Another film released in 2009 and this one was right up my street. The film is about a couple being terrorised by a demon in their home, things go from bad to worse as the film progresses, keeping you on the edge of your seat throughout. This film is a love or hate film, its style which is cctv/handheld camera will not suit everyone's taste. 7) Rec - Released in 2007 Rec is a Spanish horror set in an apartment block. The film is shot handheld as though it is being recorded there and then similar to the Blair Witch. We start following a Fire Department around at the station when they are called to the apartment where they are greeted by police and led upstairs where they encounter something they do not intend. Well worth a watch, the film is in Spanish and only comes with English subtitles. 6) The Departed (2006) - Another Leonardo DiCaprio film that has made my top 10 list. The film consists of Jack Nicholson and Matt Damon who are the lead gangsters and Leonardo and Mark Wahlberg are the main good guys. The story consists of the good guys trying to create a case to arrest Jack Nicholson's character but with some help from Matt Damon things don't go to plan. The ending is very explosive there are a lot of twists which gives this film a truly memorable ending. 5) Lucky Number Slevin (2006) - Stars Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Josh Hartnett among others. This film is fairly slow and keeps you guessing throughout the film as to what is actually happening but the clues are all there if you can work them out before the end where it will skim back throw the film and show you them all to give you the answers. Don't want to give anything away with this film to be honest but essentially there are two different gangs that want the other dead with a surprise twist. 4) Halloween - The original 1978 John Carpenter film is without doubt a true classic, the character of Michael Myers is one that will on through the ages, as he is such an iconic horror character. The film is based around Michael breaking out of jail and fleeing to a town where he hopes to finish the job he started years ago as a child by killing his family. 3) Superbad (2007) is one of my favourite comedy films it stars Michael Cera, Seth Rogan, Jonah Hill, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. In brief the story is about 3 guys who have 2 weeks left at high school who attend a party which they were invited to by Jules. Things don't really go to plan though. 2) Blood Diamond (2006) A fantastic filming following the story of Blood Diamonds in Africa, Leonardo DiCaprio is on the hunt for diamond which will allow him to leave Africa. The diamond was found by Djimon Hounsou who was captured from his village and sent to work in a mining camp, and then arrested while his son was taken to be a child soldier. With help Djimon Hounsou is led across the country in search of his son by Leonard DiCaprio who has his own intentions of retrieving the diamond. 1) Spirited Away (2001) Is an anime film by Studio Ghibli. The film follows ten year old Chihiro as she leaves her home behind when she moves to her new house. On the way to her new house her parents take a shortcut and lead Chihiro into a spirit world where she makes friends and enemies in the battle to find her parents and return the real world. The characterization and story in this film is just sensational, you really feel connected to the characters especially Chihiro, If you like cartoon/anime then this film is a must watch. That is my top 10 list, there are some great films there which if you haven't had the chance to see I would recommend you try giving some a watch. Thanks for reading 

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                                  26.10.2010 15:28
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                                  The top ten things which make me happy

                                  It seems to be a sort of tradition on DooYoo to mark milestone reviews by revealing a little about oneself. I value my privacy far too much to tell you everything about me but I think I can share my top ten favourite things and I hope it isn't breaking the rules to include people on the list. So, in honour of my 200th review, here goes.... 1. My children Well, obviously!! I have a daughter and a son, both of whom are grown up now and self-supporting (thank God!) and I'm inordinately proud of the good and decent adults they've become. They've endured some tough times, especially in their teenage years when we first became a one parent family, but they never complained when they couldn't have the designer gear all their friends seemed to have. They are simply the best thing in my life and I love them dearly. 2. Books I just love everything about books: the way they feel, their smell and, above all, the pleasure and knowledge they bring. Someone a lot wiser that me once said "The world is in books" and it's so true. The written word can transport you to another country, another time or even another reality. The world of books is infinite and, hopefully, enduring. 3. Italy Much as I love being British and feel a tremendous love for my country, if I was told I had to live somewhere else, I'd choose Italy. I love everything about that country from its art and history to its food and wine and especially its people, who seem to embody the charm of their land. The first time I visited Italy was as a teenager on a camping trip though Europe. We went into Italy from Switzerland through one of the many tunnels which pass through the alps. Now there's no denying Switzerland is a very pretty country with its cute little chalets and pristine scenery but emerging into the Italian sunshine at the other end of the tunnel was an absolute revelation and the abiding memory is of cypress trees, red tiled roofs, warmth and joy. For anyone who hasn't yet visited this wonderful country, I urge you to do so. You won't be disappointed. 4. Beethoven My father's degree was in music and although the war put paid to any hopes he had of a career in music, his love of it was passed on to both my brother and myself. I love all music from pop and rock right through to opera. Well, some opera at any rate. OK. Not very much opera at all, truth to tell. I know many class Mozart as the finest composer there has ever been and I enjoy his music which is so beautiful it touches the heart. But for me, Beethoven's music, especially his symphonies, go deeper than that. He created music which touches the soul. My favourite symphony is the Pastoral (no. 6) which paints a musical picture of a day in the country, from dawn to dusk, through sunshine and storm. By the time evening arrives, I'm emotionally wrung out! 5. Chocolate I don't get people who say they don't love chocolate. And not just any chocolate either; for me, it has to be Cadbury's Fruit and Nut. Need I say more? 6. My house It isn't much but it's bought and paid for and it's more than a house: It's my home. This is the place where I've lived longer than anywhere else and where I raised my children so it's filled with memories, both happy and sad. When my mother recently went into a care home and my childhood home was left empty, for the first time I realised that it's the people living in a house which turn it into a home. Without the people, it's just bricks and mortar. 7. London Dr Johnson said something about those who are tired of London being tired of life and I wholeheartedly agree. I spent eight of the happiest years of my life living and working there and probably didn't fully appreciate what a great place it was until I left it. It has everything, great art galleries, museums, history and theatres, as well as grat shopping! Fortunately, I'm not too far away and my son now lives there so I manage to get my London fix every so often. I've visited quite a few cities in my time but never quite found one to match London. 8. Dance Like lots of little girls, I went to ballet classes dreaming of being the next Margot Fonteyn. Sadly, I lacked the dedication necessary but I've retained my love of dance ranging from street dance to classical ballet. I can remember laughing like a drain at Come Dancing in the days when it was on the telly in glorious black and white and the commentator would assure the viewers that Mabel from Hackney had 27 yards of tulle in her frock and had sewn every sequin onto her dress herself! Nowadays, I'm a huge Strictly Come Dancing fan and refuse to go out on a Saturday night. How sad is that? 9. Spring Of all the season of the year, Spring has to be my favourite. From the minute the first snowdrop opens there seems to be a change in the rhythm of the earth: the birds sound happier, everything is fresh and new and the promise of sunny summer days stretch out ahead. It's such a time of hope and happiness that it's impossible not to love it. 10. Life I love life! A few months ago, I came dangerously near to shuffling off this mortal coil when I was involved in a car accident and I discovered that I'm nowhere near ready to go yet. Life is good, even on the bad days, life is good. The world is full of interesting places I still want to see and interesting people I've yet to meet and things I still want to do (although I do draw the line at bungy jumping). I'm not religious and have my doubts about there being anything after this so as there's no guarantee we pass this way more than once, I'm determined to wring every bit of enjoyment out of life that I possibly can. So there you have it. Not the most original list but my own and I wouldn't swap a single one!

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