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Andy2901

Andy2901
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Member since: 15.09.2008

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      11.11.2008 13:41
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      Let yourself go back in time for a while

      The town where I live has one tourist attraction. The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, an authentic steam railway. This line was opened in 1867 and closed by British Railways in 1962. An action group of local people was formed in objection to this and along with other steam enthusiasts who were taking an interest, the Worth Valley Railway Preservation Society was formed. These volunteers took over the line and re-opened it in 1968, and it is still operated and maintained by volunteers today.

      The Worth Valley Railway as it is more commonly known has appeared in various prime time television programmes including Last of the Summer Wine, Born and Bred, The Royal, Where the Heart Is, A Touch of Frost, and many others. It's next television appearance will be on BBC 2 on the 15th December, as an episode of the cooking programme Indian Food Made Easy has been filmed on it, also if you look closely at the walls of Roy's kitchen in Coronation Street, you will see Worth Valley Railway memorabilia adorning them.

      Despite appearing in numerous television series over the years, it was the railway's roles in films that brought it to prominence, Yanks, and more famously the 1970 film The Railway Children.

      As the name tells you, it's situated in the Worth Valley in West Yorkshire and runs between Keighley and Oxenhope in the heart of Bronte country, calling at four stations along the way, a journey of approximately 5 miles.

      A round trip on the railway takes around 90-95 minutes and consists of the following stations.

      Keighley, it's adjoined to the main train station, but the difference couldn't be more startling. The Worth Valley station is completely authentic 1950's in decor and appearance. Upon entering it's like going back in time, especially as the smell of the steam adds to the atmosphere.

      Ingrow, a small authentic 1950's station where you can get off the train and visit the Museum of Rail Travel which is next to it.

      Damems, Britains smallest station, again pure 1950's.

      Oakworth, this is the station made famous in the film and is known as The Railway Children's Station.

      Howarth, a lovely authentic station with a souvenir shop, picnic tables and you can also visit the locomotive works, or leave the station, follow the path behind it and you're at the bottom of Howarth's famous cobbled main street at the top of which is the world famous Bronte Parsonage Museum.

      Oakworth, a genuine 1950's village station with a buffet and an immaculate picnic area.

      A trip on this railway gives you a genuine experience of how train travel used to be in the days of steam. From entering the station to leaving at the end of you're visit, you're taken back in time. Every attention to detail is taken regarding authenticity at the stations. The trains and carriages are all perfectly restored to their original condition. You can just sit back, relax and enjoy a trip through the beautiful Bronte countryside, particularly once you pass Damems station, or if you're inclined to, have a locally brewed beer in the buffet car. If you've seen the Railway Children, you'll recognize the locations used in the film, particularly the Mytholmes tunnel, used for the landslide and paper chase scenes.

      The railway is open all year round, daily in summer, but only weekends the rest of the time. Quite often special events and theme days are also held such as, Thomas the tank engine days, Santa steam specials, beer festival, jazz day, where music is played both on the trains and at the stations. Some upcoming dates planned for 2009 are,

      Sunday 22nd March, Mothers Day Luncheon Train
      Vintage Train Days, Sunday 3rd & Monday 4th May, Sunday 24th & Monday 25th May, Sunday 5th July, Sunday 2nd August
      Saturday 16th May, 1940 / Wartime evening
      Steam Gala, Friday 26th, Saturday 27th & Sunday 28th June
      Diesel Traction Weekend, Friday 5th, Saturday 6th & Sunday 7th June
      Steam Gala - Friday 26th, Saturday 27th & Sunday 28th June
      Family Fun Weekend, Saturday 26th & Sunday 27th September
      Saturday 26th September, 1920s evening
      Saturday 22nd August, 1960s evening
      Beer & Music Gala, Friday 23rd, Saturday 24th & Sunday 25th October
      Saturday 31st October, Victorian Evening

      Fares

      Adult day rover allowing unlimited travel £14
      Family day rover £33
      Adult full line return allowing one complete round trip £9.40
      Family full Line Return £23.50
      Children under 5 are free, children 5-15 are half fare.

      If you're really into steam trains and think you might visit more than once, membership might be a better option as members get three, free day rover tickets a year, and half price travel at most other times. Life members receive free travel on all regular service trains.

      Membership prices are
      Adult, £17
      Associate, available to any person living at the same address as an adult, life or senior member £10
      Senior, 60+ £10
      Junior, 5-15 £7.50
      Family, two adults and up to three children £33



      Life Membership
      Adult, payable by 10 monthly instalments of £34, £340
      Associate, available to any person living at the same address as an adult, life or senior member £200
      Senior, 60+ £145
      Senior Associate, available to any person living at the same address as an adult, life or
      senior member £85


      All stations are disabled friendly but the trains may cause difficulty with some of the older carriages so larger chairs can be transported in the guards van
      There are toilets on the trains and at all the stations however Howarth has the only fully disabled accessible one.


      The railway is well signposted throughout the district for road users, with bus stops immediately outside the station for public transport users. If you visit by train, simply leave the main station and enter the Worth Valley one and be transported back in time.

      A lot more information including pictures can be found at http://www.kwvr.co.uk which is the internet site and which I acknowledge for providing some of the information in this review.

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      • Samsung SGH-J600 / Mobile Phone / 60 Readings / 59 Ratings
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        07.11.2008 21:05
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        A decent phone for the price

        I'm not the biggest mobile phone fan in the world, however they have their uses and can be extremely useful at times. As I use mine purely for convenience, I'm not constantly changing it for the latest flashy model. I've only ever owned 2, a Sony K700i and this Samsung.

        When my Sony gave me the black screen of death one day, it forced me into buying another. It had been a good phone but I wanted something a bit smaller and more lightweight this time, so the search for another began.

        My first port of call was the Virgin mobile site, as I've used virgin all the time, and you can often find good promotions on there. Looking at the phones, the Samsung J600 touch sensitive phone caught my eye, mainly because it was half price at £35 and included £10 of airtime, plus free next day delivery. A quick search of the internet showed they were selling at around £60-£70 including e-bay, so decision made, I bought it.

        Now I didn't just jump in and buy it purely because of the price, I did check what functions it had. Although not wanting the latest does everything but talk for you phone, I did want a half decent one, and this model looked well capable of fulfilling my needs, well at least the ones that the barmaid at my local club won't, but that's another story.

        So, what did I get for my money? Well,it's a slim, smart looking slider phone. Mine is a nice dark metallic blue with silver trim and looks very smart, it also comes in black, silver and pink for the girlys. There is a decent sized 1.9" tft screen on the front which has a high quality display. Below the screen is a silver trimmed square with a button marked i on it. This is a shortcut button for connecting to the internet which also acts as the ok button when you're in the main menu. You don't have to worry about accidentally connecting to the internet as the phone is automatically locked until you slide it open. Also when you open it, it lights up your main screen and the touch sensitive functions on the front of the phone. These are four small illuminations, the bottom two for dialling out and ending a call, the top two for going to the menu, or to your contacts book, the top two are also used as confirmation for save/send/options, and back, when using the phones menu. On the right hand of the case is the on/off button, a shortcut button to the camera and a port for the charger, headphones or usb cable. On the left hand side of the case are two silver buttons which are used for zooming the camera or pictures on the phone or for adjusting the volume, below them is a slot for a Micro SD card. When you slide the phone open it reveals the keypad. Surprisingly for a phone this size the keys are a decent size and easy to use, especially for texting. They are backlit and it's far superior to the Sony I had for ease of use.

        The technical stuff:

        The phone has a 1.3 megapixel camera with a 4x zoom and built in flash. While today's latest phones are much higher it does take good quality pictures from close up, from a distance they're ok. You can also take and play videos. Again the quality is pretty good.

        It has an mp3 music player. The sound is a bit tinny through the phone speaker, but is a lot better through headphones.

        Built in FM radio, a nice touch but will only work with the headphones in, acting as an aerial.

        The phone has bluetooth, but no infra red.

        Built in modem and browser.

        There's a host of other functions in the menu too, which is the norm for mobiles nowadays, tri band, gprs, clock/alarm, calendar, calculator, ringtones, themes, games, call log, picture phonebook etc. and also settings, so you personalise the phone how you want it.

        There's 20mb of inbuilt memory but it does take a Micro SD card.

        The phone book will store 1000 numbers, well 800 actually, another 200 on the sim card.

        The battery has a talk time of nearly 4 hours and a standby time of 300 hours, with full charge up time of 2 and a half hours.

        It weighs in at 99 grams, measures 97.8 x 44.8 x 15.2mm and comes complete with charger, user manual CD software, stereo headset and a usb data cable.

        I've had this phone a few months now and it still looks as good as new. It's been in my pocket with loose change and keys but still looks nearly as good as the day I received it. I've dropped it a few times and the screen's survived, so it's a hardwearing phone. I like this phone, it's nicely compact and looks good. It's easy to use, has all the functions you need. Calls have always been nice and clear on it and texting is easy, no struggling with the keys. You can also call me childish but I derive great pleasure from setting individual contacts to display a stupid or rude picture and play a stupid noise or ringtone when they call me.

        However, it's not the perfect phone. The little square on the front with the internet shortcut in it is also where the directional function is. You press above, below, or at the sides of the i button to navigate the menu, it can be quite tricky and you can find yourself skimming all round the menu. Also the touch screen function on the front can be a pain at times, accidentally touch it and you can abruptly end calls, mistakenly dial someone, open a menu item you didn't want, send a half completed text, or accidentally delete one you're composing. These happen less and less as you get used to the phone but still happen occasionally. That apart, I'm happy with this phone and will not be changing it untill it breaks.

        This model is currently selling for £49.99 on Virgin

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        • Poultry / Recipe / 48 Readings / 46 Ratings
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          05.11.2008 14:21
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          Useful for using up your turkey leftovers

          This is a recipe for Turkey Turnover

          You know you're going to buy a turkey that could feed your neighbourhood for Christmas, and then be left eating sandwiches you didn't want for the next few days. So never mind going out spending your poor hubby's money in the boxing day sales, make him this recipe to use up some of your leftovers instead.

          Ingredients:

          One and a half pounds of cold cooked turkey meat
          8 ounces of mushrooms
          1 small chopped onion
          Three Quarters of a pint of bread sauce (packet mix will do)
          1 level teaspoon thyme
          1 large packet of frozen puff pastry
          Salt and pepper to taste
          1 ounce of butter
          Beaten egg or milk for the glaze

          Preparation:

          Cut the turkey into strips or cubes or small pieces.
          Slice the mushrooms and dice the onion and gently fry them both gently in the butter for 5 minutes, turning constantly.
          Make up the bread sauce mix and add the turkey, mushrooms, onions and thyme, and also the seasoning to taste. Leave this to go cold.

          Roll out the puff pastry so that it's 14 inches long and 12 inches wide, with the edges neatly trimmed, then leaving it whole, place half of it on to a baking tray.
          Put the cold filling on to the pastry on the tray and spread it to within a quarter of an inch of the edges.
          Brush a little bit of water round the edge of the pastry, then turn the rest of the pastry over so that the filling is completely enclosed. Press all the edges firmly together and knock them up with the back of a knife.
          Brush the top with the beaten egg or milk, then using the back of the knife again, mark the top in lines, then leave it in a cool place for half an hour.

          To Bake:

          Bake in a hot oven, gas mark 7, 220c/424f for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to gas mark 5, 190c/375f for a further 20-25 minutes.
          Can be served hot or cold.

          A simple and easy way to use up some of your leftover turkey. You might not have any dried thyme in your cupboard however this is no problem, simply take away a few ounces of the turkey and add the equivalant weight in stuffing. You could also do the same but add some cooked potato, peas and carrot, and hey presto, you've got yourself a nice large turkey cornish pasty. You can basically add any leftovers you want, just keep the weight of the ingredients to 2 pounds excluding the onion.

          Happy Cookmas

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          • Cakes / Recipe / 46 Readings / 46 Ratings
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            05.11.2008 00:10
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            It's a change from the norm

            Home made cakes are lot more better than shop bought mass produced ones, so for a change this Christmas, why not try baking a White Christmas Cake. It's not white as in pure white but more of a light fruit cake. I made this one last year and all who tried it, liked it, so it's on the menu again thiis year.

            As it's a light fruit cake it won't keep as good as a traditional dark one so it shouldn't be made more than four weeks in advance, and also it shouldn't be made less than a week before Christmas. No icing is required as it is meant to be left un-iced, however if you prefer it iced, there's nothing to stop you icing it.

            Ingredients for an 8" cake.

            4 ounces crystallised pineapple
            4 ounces glace cherries
            4 ounces crystallised ginger
            4 ounces sultanas
            3 ounces chopped candied peel
            12 ounces plain flour
            9 ounces butter
            9 ounces caster sugar
            4 large eggs
            4 ounces coarsley chopped walnuts
            3 tablespoons of brandy

            Preparation and baking:

            Wash the sugar coating from the cherries, pineapple and ginger in warm water and par dry. Then cut the cherries in half and coarsely chop the ginger and pineapple. Place them in a mixing bowl along with the peel, sultanas and brandy, cover, and leave overnight.

            The next day, sift the flour and put to one side. In another mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together untill soft and light. Lightly beat the eggs and then mix them into the creamed butter and sugar a little amount at a time, adding a little of the sifted flower with the last few additions of the beaten egg.

            Using a metal spoon, you then fold in half of the remaining flour, then add the fruits that have been soaked in brandy overnight along with any liquid in the bowl, and also the walnuts. Finaly, fold in the remaining flour.

            Spoon the mixture into a greased and lined 8" tin. Spread it evenly and hollow out the centre slightly. Place the tin below the centre of your oven preheated to gas mark 2, 150c/300f and bake for 2 hours 45 mins or untill cooked. You can test this in the normal way at the end with a skewer, if it comes out clean, it's done. If it doesn't, test every 5 minutes untill it does.

            And there you have it, a white Christmas cake. Though it's not meant to be iced, and I'm not an icing fan anyway, this year, the day before eating, I'm going to attempt to cover the top of mine with melted white chocolate. If it goes wrong, I'll cover it with custard and eat it anyway, I'm not going to all that trouble for nothing.

            Merry Cakemas

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            • More +
              04.11.2008 12:18
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              It passes the time

              I nearly always read other peoples top 10 websites. I've found a few useful sites this way so I thought I'd list some of my own.

              These are purely sites that I personally frequent a lot when I'm online, so I won't be listing any of the really useful sites such as this one, MSE, quidco, news sites etc. as I think everybody knows about them already.

              Here we go, in no particular order.

              1. www.martinhouse.org .uk
              Martin House is a Hospice for children and young people which opened in 1987, in Boston Spa in West Yorkshire. In their own words their philosophy is
              "The aim of Martin House is to provide family led care for children with life-threatening and life-limiting illnesses. It is a place where children, young people and their families can come to stay from time to time along their journey and find support, rest and practical help. It is a place of love and understanding, a peaceful place but one that can also have a lively, friendly atmosphere full of fun and laughter, where children and their families can enjoy the best quality of life"
              I visit this site because unfortunately in the dark past I've been there and having personal experience of the service they provide I continue to support them.

              2. www.care2.com
              I visit this site every day as it lets you do daily clicks, not for monetary rewards, but each click contributes something to humanitarian or evironmental issues around the world. Care2 is a large site that has 9 million members. It was launched in 1998 and is aimed at helping people live healthy green lifestyle and also do something about causes and issues worldwide such as the environment, wildlife, human rights and lots of others. Now don't start thinking it's a tree huggers site because there's a lot more to it. There's a large community section with groups covering all manner of subjects, a healythy food and recipes section, and even a singles section. There's too much on there to describe without a full review which I'll be doing shortly. You need to visit this site and explore it to see everything.

              3. www.pogo.co.uk
              Pogo is a large games site that you can while away a few hours on and even have a chat while you're playing. There's too many games to list here but there's something for everyone on there. It's free to join and play with the option of buying a subscription to play premium games but there's more than enough free ones to keep you satisfied.

              4. www.punterslounge.com
              I can't remember how I came across this site because I very rarely gamble. Basically it's a large sports betting website with sub forums covering horse racing, football and other sports both UK and abroad. All tips are posted by members and they have to have reasoning to justify their tips, none of the speedynag will win the 3.30 sort of stuff. There's a large poker forum on there too and a general chat forum which can be quite entertaining. For some reason, probably because I'm a keen sport follower I visit this site every day for a good read.

              5. www.tripadvisor.co.uk
              Tripadvisor is another site I use a lot. On here you can find hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions etc. reviewed and rated by people who've been there. The forums are quite useful too for giving you a rough idea about a place as posts are by both tourists and local residents. Worth a visit if you're planning a holiday.

              6. www.avforums.com
              This is a really useful forum site, both for keeping up to date with the latest audio/visual technology, and getting help with any problems you might be having with your own. Looking at the title you'd think it just covered tv's, videos and home cinemas but there's boards for much more. Mobiles, cameras, computers and their parts, consumables, and many other electrical items have their own sub forums. If you want to know how to wire everything up to your latest big screen tv, this is the site for you.

              7. www.by-users.co.uk
              I started using this site when I first came online with blueyonder (now virgin). It's another great forum site. You can ask anything in the general help section and you'll get a useful reply. There's help sections for networking and also personal websites. It also has a general chat forum, an entertainment chat forum and a picture forum. A good site with some friendly knowledgeable people on it.

              8. www.justin.tv
              This is classed as a streaming video site. It streams live cams actually, the only videos streamed on here are playing in somebody's house with a webcam pointed at it. There's different sections on here, amongst them, sports, entertainment, music and radio and people and lifecasting. Though it's basically a cam site, there's no smut being shown. What this site is good for is watching sporting events you can't watch on your own tv. You can watch every premier league football match on here, also every box office or pay per view event and loads of other events worldwide. You can also watch a lot of films or tv series. Its free too, just see who's broadcasting what, click on it and away you go. You know where to watch the big boxing match this saturday now or the world cup rugby ;)

              9. www.419eater.com
              I'm sure most of you have had a 419 scam e-mail at some time. This site is where they are strung along, Scambaiting, as it's known. There's some funny reads on here as people post the details of their baiting, and also pictures they've talked the scammers into posing for. There's also an excellent links section, linking to similar sites, and sites where you can learn everything about the online scammers.

              10.www.chavtown.co.uk
              Chavtown is always good for a laugh. People vent about the chavs in their own town, or places they've visited. Some truely funny reads on here and you even get the odd gem of a chav posting, defending chavs, usually in chave talk innit.

              Finally I'd like to give a honourable mention to a site I had on my favourites list for a few years which my 2 girls used to use.
              www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk
              I remember reading about this site in a computer magazine and found it to be a great site for helping with homework and interactive things for primary school aged children. It's still there and looks as useful as before for helping your children.

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              • More +
                31.10.2008 12:20
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                Texting has it's place

                Quite an apt title for this review as texting is very much like sex. The younger generation hammer away at it as fast and as often as they can, taking all the shortcuts and missing bits out. As people get older they take more time over it, making sure it's all there and in it's right place. The older generation struggle to do it but give it a go now and again.

                All mobile phones nowadays, and even some house phones are capable of sending and recieving text messages or SMS (short message service) as it's known. This has led to a slaughter of the English language by the invaders known as "textese" and "slanguage", 2 or 3 letter words with the odd numeral thrown in. Teenagers especially have a language of their own. When my oldest chavvy daughter texts me, as I haven't got the use of an enigma machine, I have to forward them on to GCHQ, with a request for translation. It's not just text talk that's corrupted the language though, internet chat rooms must share a portion of the blame. I'm just waiting for the day I tell a joke in the pub and instead of laughing, people just sit there saying lol, roflmao etc.

                Texting is convenient, you can type a message on your phone wherever you are, hit send and know it will be delivered in minutes 99% of the time. Just about anywhere you go nowadays you see someone clutching a mobile, tapping away at it like a woodpecker on speed. However it's much more pleasurable to recieve a birthday card than to look at your phone and read Hppy Bday 2u.

                If you're on a pay as you go mobile, texts can be as low as 3p a time, cheaper than 10-15p a minute to talk, with offers of free weekend texts if you top up by a certain amount during the week. But it's the monthly contacts that encourage texting by giving huge amounts of free texts every month, so if they've got them, people use them.

                A few facts:

                In September of this year 6.7 billion texts were sent in the Uk alone, an astounding figure.

                Britons are now sending 60 million more messages a day compared to the same time last year.

                Texts sent now vastly outnumber voice calls made on mobiles.

                There are more phones than people in the UK

                Overall texting does have it's place in modern life for convenience and contacting friends and family, and can be a lot cheaper than phoning, though it does have a few downsides, trying to decipher some of the texts you recieve, depending on your phone it can be quite tricky and time consuming if it has small buttons and it can be quite addictive as you get the urge to reply to every one you recieve. Also it can be annoying if you're sat by somebody who's phone is pinging every couple of minutes.

                Another thing that can happen if you text a lot is you find that you tend to slip text words into other things you're typing or writing, I've sen a few accidentaly typed in reviews on here.

                Due to the popularity of texting, The Police are going to reissue one of their old hit singles with a slight reworking "Sending out an SMS"

                Thnx 4 rdng gtg nw, tht was jm2p, atb ttfn

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                • Pin Ups - David Bowie / Music Album / 51 Readings / 51 Ratings
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                  24.10.2008 13:55
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                  not the worst Bowie album around

                  Released in 1973 at the height of Ziggy mania this album was not one of Bowies best in the eyes of a lot of his fans.

                  The Ziggmaster was on the crest of a wave following the release of some great albums.

                  Hunky Dory in 1971
                  The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars in 1972
                  Aladdin Sane 1973

                  Pin Ups was released to cash in on the massive success of Aladdin Sane and although a decent enough album in it's own right, it wasn't what the combed back and blow dry hairstyled Ziggy fans expected.

                  The album cover promised great things, a picture of Ziggy at his finest, with a forlorn looking Twiggy (the supermodel of the day) leaning on his shoulder, whilst he was sporting another variation of the Ziggy cut, which had teenagers across the land racing to the nearest hairdressers while clutching their album covers in their hands, then thrusting them under their noses and demanding "gimme one of these cuts"

                  Fans who bought this expecting another healthy dose of Bowie's unique style of song writing and music when they put the record on the deck were sadly disappointed. It was an album of cover versions. To be fair, although not what the die hard Bowie fans were expecting, it wasn't a bad album, covering songs from groups such as The Who, Pink Floyd, The Yardbirds and The Kinks.

                  When asked about this album Bowie said

                  "These are all songs which really meant a lot to me then - they're all very dear to me. These are all bands which I used to go and hear play down The Marquee between 1964 and 1967. Each one meant something to me at the time. Its my London of the time"

                  Which is fair enough, they meant nothing to me though, I wanted more Ziggy and the Spiders, not copies of bands I'd no interest in.

                  The tracks on the album and the original artists are:

                  Rosalyn -The Pretty Things
                  Here Comes the Night-Them
                  I Wish You Would-The Yardbirds'
                  See Emily Play - Pink Floyd
                  Everything's Alright -The Mojos
                  I Can't Explain - The Who
                  Friday on My Mind - The Easybeats
                  Sorrow - The Merseys
                  Don't Bring Me Down - The Pretty Things
                  Shapes of Things- The Yardbirds
                  Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere - The Who
                  Where Have All The Good Times Gone - The Kinks

                  It was released again in 1990 with a couple of bonus tracks added, again these were cover versions.

                  Growin' Up - Bruce Springsteen
                  Amsterdam - Jacques Brel

                  Although it's not a Ziggy Stardust type of record it does have some good songs on it, from some great groups, but not Bowie songs, which is what a lot of fans bought it for, myself included. Another downside to this album was the fact that it would be the last time that he recorded with the original "Spiders From Mars" which was a tragic thing.

                  Bowie was later quoted as saying , "The Pinups album was a pleasure. And I knew the band (The Spiders From Mars) was over. It was a last farewell to them in a way"

                  It wasn't all bad news for this album though, it had a great cover which has become a classic. It proved what a truely great guitarist the late Mick Ronson was. Also on the strength of Bowies previous albums, it attracted adavance orders of over 150,000. It reached the coveted number one spot and was in the charts for 37 weeks. Bowie also reached number three in the singles chart with the single he released from the album, "Sorrow"

                  If I'd took the time to read the track listing or listened to a copy someone else had bought, I have to say that personally I wouldn't have bought this album, but thats just my taste. It's not his best one, but it's certainly not his worst, some dire stuff was to come during one of his many changes of persona and style.

                  The one thing that sticks in my mind regarding this album is the adolescent chant that it inspired, "Ziggy Ziggy Ziggy, I wanna bonk Twiggy" or words to that effect.

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                  • More +
                    23.10.2008 13:01
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                    A tasty sweet treat that's not what it seems

                    When I'm sat at my computer and not doing something that requires my full concentration, such as trying to find Christine Aguileras phone number, I tend to snack a lot. Crisps, chocolates, biscuits, cakes, whatever I can get my hands on.

                    After getting on the scales, which are either lying to me or are broke, I decided to go healthy and lose weight for Christmas.

                    Out went all the junk and in came loads of fruit for snacking on, but still wanting a bit of a tasty sweet snack now and again I decided to visit the health shop and try some dried fruits.

                    While there, my eyes came across these tasty looking little white things, Yoghurt Coated Peanuts and Raisins. They are packaged in a clear bag and look good so my reasoning was, I'm in a health shop, they sell them, so they must be good for you, and without checking the label, I bought a couple of bags. At £1.79 for 250 grams they're pretty good value.

                    Upon arriving home, I thought I'd better test them to see if they taste as nice as they look and this is where things started to go a bit pear shaped.

                    I opened the packet grabbed a handfull, put a few in my mouth and chewed happily away as they do taste nice, though the coating is more like a cheap white chocolate taste than yoghurt.

                    While merrily munching away I noticed that the coating on the ones still in my hand started to melt. Now I've heard of some strange things but never melting yoghurt, so I thought, time to check the label.

                    The first thing it shows is the typical analysis per 100 grams

                    Energy....1944kj/465 kcal
                    Protein....8.9g
                    Carbohydrates...54.3g
                    of which are sugars....49.5g
                    Fat....25.8g
                    of which are saturates....14.4g
                    Fibre....2.0g
                    Sodium....trace

                    My first thought was a Jim Royle " healthy snack my **** ", all them calories, and not exactly a low sugar and fat content.

                    Then a look at the ingredients revealed the following

                    Peanuts 23%
                    Raisins 21%
                    Sugar vegetable fats
                    Whey permeate
                    Wheat flour
                    Yoghurt powder (5%)
                    Dextrose
                    Emulsifier (E322)
                    Vegetable protein
                    Modified starch
                    Flavouring

                    This time my thoughts about a healthy snack were in words you've never heard Jim Royle use.

                    There is also an Allergen warning, about the product containing gluten, milk, peanuts and soya.

                    Still curious about the the supposedly yoghurt coating, a trip to the Holland & Barrett website revealed that they are advertised on there as Snack Yoghurt Coated Peanuts and Raisins, but the following information is given.

                    "Whole juicy raisins and crunchy peanuts with a YOGHURT FLAVOURED COATING. Raisins are an excellent source of dietary fibre, and also contain calcium and potassium, with the added benefits of protein and vitamin E from the peanuts"

                    Basically they're yoghurt flavoured white chocolate coated.

                    I'm in two minds about these, they do taste nice, and in poncey chef talk, "you get nice mix of texture and flavour while eating them. The crunchiness of the nut, combined with the soft chewiness of the raisin, followed by a sweet sugar rush as the coating melts in your mouth"

                    Peanuts and raisins are good for you as part of a balanced diet, but some of the nutritional content is less than healthy. So snack wise it seems that a few a day is the way to go with these.

                    The Final Verdict:

                    Are they a nice tasty snack? Yes
                    Are they healthy? maybe in moderation
                    Have you bought more since? Yes
                    How many at a time do you eat? A whole packet, I don't do bits at a time, (but only once a week, honest), my scales tell lies anyway.

                    So as you can gather I still buy them but only once a week and then sweat off the calories by watching "Aerobics Oz Style"

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                    • Soups / Recipe / 41 Readings / 41 Ratings
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                      21.10.2008 14:02
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                      Warms the parts other bonfires can't reach

                      In the old days pre 2006 BD (before divorce) we used to have a family tradition of having a Bonfire Night party every year with the in-laws and their kids, (personally I'd have thought halloween was a better night for for the ex and her sisters). The one thing that was served up every year, apart from a load of beer, was this Bonfire Warmer Soup.

                      This simple and easy recipe will serve 16, so you need a big pan, although with the help of a calculator I'm sure it could be adapted to cater for any number of people from a billy no mates upwards.

                      The Ingredients.

                      5 large carrots
                      5 onions
                      4 cloves of garlic
                      3 pounds of potatoes
                      2 and a half pints of milk
                      3 pints of chicken stock made with 6 chicken stock cubes
                      3 teaspoons of hot curry powder
                      5 tablespoons of wholemeal flour
                      5 ounces of butter
                      3 pounds of bacon pieces

                      If you do what I used to do and buy those cheap packets of bacon offcuts, soak them in boiling water for 10-15 minutes and then rinse them thoroughly or they'll ruin your hard work due to the salty water they've been packed in. Any large pieces, just cut into smaller ones.

                      The Cooking.

                      Slice the onions and carrots, crush the garlic and mix with the bacon pieces.
                      In your pan, melt the butter then add the onion, carrot, garlic and bacon, and saute gently for an hour.
                      When this has been done, add the curry powder and flour, stirring it in untill it's mixed.
                      Then add the milk and the stock slowly, stirring all the time.
                      Cut the potatoes into cubes and add them to the soup.
                      All you do now is simmer gently untill the potatoes are cooked, and there you are, one Bonfire soup, served in a bowl with a buttered roll.

                      As with other recipes it can be adapted to suit your own taste, more vegatables or maybe herbs or spices. If you're not giving it to the children, a tablespoon of chili powder and a splash of tabasco sauce will give you an internal bonfire of your own and you'll save money on bangers, you'll be making and letting your own off.

                      P.S. Me and my daughter have cuppa soups now, it's a lot easier.

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                      • More +
                        17.10.2008 11:52
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                        No beating about the bush with this

                        As most men know there are three types of shaving.

                        1) The wet shave, where you wet the face with warm water to soften the bristles, apply a liberal amount of shaving cream or gel, and shave away with your latest many bladed razor.

                        2) The dry shave, where some hardy skinned men just run a razor over the daily growth without cream/gel, most use an electric razor.

                        3) The rip your face to bits shave, where you blissfully begin beautyfying yourself only to discover that while sitting in her scented oiled luxuriously foamy bubble bath, some woman has took it upon herself to hack away the forest in her armpits, then scrape away the tree stump stubble on her legs, and maybe even mowed the lawn so to speak, with your highly precision sharpened, multi bladed razor, thereby thoroughly blunting it, causing you to shred your skin and stalk around the house for an hour with umpteen bits of toilet paper stuck to your face.

                        Personally I've always been a wet shave man myself, as every time I've used an electric razor I've suffered from the dreaded razor burn and shaving rash. This could partly be due to the fact I only ever tried the cheaper battery ones, most of which were presents.

                        When I first saw the coolskin shavers advertised I thought I'll give one of them ago, as they're waterproof and can be used under the shower and also dispense a moisturising cream or gel while shaving. Initially the high price, around £90-£100 put me off buying one as it was an expensive way to find out if they worked as promised. However,one day while surfing the net I came across one selling for £47 in a Kays catalogue sale, a quick search of a few voucher code sites found me a £15 off and free delivery code so I bougt this one for £34. RESULT.

                        In the past most shavers have been a boring black colour, not this baby, it's a very attractive green and blue, it's a nice shape for holding, and whilst simplicity itself to shave with, it won't fit in an armpit.

                        There's quite a few features to this model.
                        Cordless and waterproof, you can shave in the bath or shower.

                        It claims to have innovative new glide rings which evenly spread the gel/lotion for maximum effect therefore reducing friction.

                        A 3D contour following system, so the shaver can closely follow the facial contours for a smoother shave with fewer strokes.

                        A super lift and cut, which enables it to lift hair up from the skin, so that it shaves hairs 15 micrometers shorter on average, so again, fewer strokes are needed which also helps reduce skin irritation.

                        A living light display, this is basically a set of LED lights on the front which tells you things such as battery charging, full/low battery, when to use the gel/lotion (though I ignore this and just apply as needed) a light to tell you when the heads need replacing and a reminder to clean the shaver light which comes on immediately after use. There's also a demo mode which runs you through this. Instructions are in the booklet supplied.

                        Quick clean, rinse it under the tap, press a little button on the front and the head springs open, a quick rinse and brush and it's done.

                        Unique lotion dispenser, you just pop a cartridge in the back, there's a pump button which you start pressing and hey presto, smooooooooth shave.

                        The shaver comes with a cleaning brush, a strap you can attach for hanging in the shower, 2 each of the gel and cream cartridges, travel pouch, shaving head protector cap, a cartridge holder you can stick to the wall, and finally and most importantly, a charger.

                        The claimed charge times for this shaver are 8 hours for a full charge, giving you up to 55 minutes shaving time. I've found you get a while longer than that, the warning light comes on arround the 55 minute mark.

                        Niggles:
                        It's not the best charging system in the world. The shaver has a couple of contact points on the front which you have to position against 2 matching ones in the charger which you can only do by putting it in at an angle.

                        Each cartridge requires the use of an adapter to allow the cream to be dispensed and you only get one suppled, so don't throw a used cartridge away with it still in or you're stuck. Though as these are only available at boots or online I've tried putting shaving balm on my face first then shaving and it does the job just as well.

                        Does it work??? The answer is yes. The first time I used it I had minor burn/rash, not enough to put me off trying it again, and I've had no problems since. It gives you a nice close comfortable shave so If you suffer from shaver burn this the shaver for you.

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                        • More +
                          15.10.2008 14:01
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                          A slow cooker worth considering

                          If you get fed up of slaving over a hot cooker every day burning yourself and spilling everything, treat yourself to a slow cooker.

                          Cooking doesn't get more convenient than using one of these unless you only eat microwaved crap, and as I'm sure all you ladies will agree, long and slow is always better.

                          I bought this particular model because it's a large pot inside, split into two sections, one part holding 4 litres, the other part holding 2 litres, so you can actually cook a couple of different things together, such as a joint in the large section and your vegatables in the small one, or just use it as one large pot. It does say you can do a main course in one part and a dessert in the other but I never have as you don't want a rice pudding tasting of chilli con carne and cross contamination could quite easily happen as the 2 sections are not sealed from each other.

                          This is a large attractive looking satin finish stainless steel cooker with easy carry handles, it has a clear glass lid, and a dark brown glazed ceramic pot inside.

                          It has a digital control panel on the front which allows you to set the mode, High for "fast" slow cooking (4 hours or less) and Low, for long slow cooking, there's increase and decrease buttons for setting the time, but you can only do this in 1 hour increments, there's a start button for when everything's set, and finally there's a small "Warm" light, which comes on when the cooking time is finished and it goes into warm mode, to keep your food warm. This is automatic and not available as a choice.

                          You also get a comprehensive instruction/recipe booklet with it with all the do's and don'ts explained plus tips on cooking and preparing certain foods, e.g browning a joint of meat first. There's enough recipes, both main meals and puddings, to get you used to slow cooking and it gives you the times for both fast and slow cooking.

                          The claimed benefits of slow cooking according to the booklet are:

                          Health: The gentle cooking reduces damage to vitamins and therefore more of the nutrients and flavours are retained
                          .
                          Economy: Long slow cooking tenderises the cheaper tougher cuts of meat, and it also uses roughly a quarter of the power of a small ring on an electric hob.

                          Convenience: You can prepare meals the night before and switch on in the morning before going out to work or anywhere else and come home in the evening to a delicious meal just waiting to be served.

                          There are a couple of niggles with this particular slow cooker,
                          1) It's quite heavy, weighing in at approx 8kgs, most of which is the pot inside.

                          2) There's no coolwall on this model and it does get hot especially the metal case so you need to be carefull around it and not place it where children can reach it and touch it.

                          You might not use one of these every day, but they are a handy thing to have in your kitchen, especially if you're a busy person. It varies in price if you search the internet, from around £22 to £40.

                          Happy Cooking

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                          • Curry / Recipe / 64 Readings / 61 Ratings
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                            06.10.2008 15:25
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                            An authentic home made curry

                            This is an authentic home made curry, similar in style to the spicey rice recipe I posted. Once again it was supplied by my neighbour Fatima. This curry is eaten with plain boiled rice or you can serve it with the spicey rice if you have,
                            A) a cast iron stomach
                            B) an asbestos derriere
                            C) plenty of air freshener.

                            The ingredients to serve 4:

                            2 tablespoons of vegatable oil
                            2 teaspoons of ground corriander
                            1 teaspoon of ground cumin
                            1 teaspoon of whole cumin
                            1 teaspoon of chilli powder
                            1 teaspoon of ground cardamom
                            1 and half teaspoons of salt, I only use 1 though
                            half teaspoon of turmeric
                            2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
                            1 medium chopped onion

                            1 cauliflower, cut into florets
                            2 roughly chopped potatoes
                            2 large sliced carrots
                            1 green pepper, chopped and seeded
                            8 ounces of tomatoes, or a tin will do
                            a small carton of natural yoghurt

                            The Method:

                            Heat the oil in a large saucepan, then add all the spices, the salt, garlic and onion. Fry these for 2-3 minutes, stirring lovingly all the time.

                            Next, add all the vegatables except the tomatoes and stir untill all the vegatables are coated with the spices. Then add the tomatoes and stir untill everything's thoroughly mixed.

                            Next, add a quarter of a pint of water to the pan and bring to the boil, then lower the heat, cover it, and simmer for approx 25-30 minutes, or until the vegatables are tender.

                            When the vegatables are cooked, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the yoghurt, and that's it, one delicious simple and easy to make curry.

                            There are a couple of optional extras you can add to this recipe,

                            1) a couple of fresh chopped chillis, seeds included, added with the spices, but be warned, this will make it a hot one, only to be done if your plumbing's ok, you don't want a blocked toilet with this option.

                            2) some fresh chopped corriander, if you add this at the end it does alter the taste a touch, it mellows it slightly.

                            You can of course vary the vegatables to suit your own taste, I've made this with just potatoes and frozen peas, or you can miss out the vegatables altogether, and use mince and peas for a keema style curry.

                            A nice simple genuine curry for you, Happy Trumping.

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                            • Rice & Pasta Dishes / Recipe / 46 Readings / 44 Ratings
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                              04.10.2008 13:01
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                              A spicey Pilau rice

                              I got this recipe from one of my neighbours. We have a deal where I let them pick the odd Bay leaf from my tree and also let them grow corriander in a small part of my garden. In return I get the odd home cooked genuine asian curry and other goodies, bhajis, samosas etc.

                              I've had a real teat this week because it's been EID and I always get plenty then, they make tons off the stuff for their visitors and always bring me a feast lol.

                              Now the neighbours call this Pilau Rice but it's nothing like any Pilau rice I've had delivered from a takeaway or in any supermarket ready meal. I call it spicey rice and like it that much I asked for the recipe so I could keep making my own. This makes a meal on it's own or you can have it with a curry. It uses quite a few spices so is quite expensive to make as a one off, however if you use spices quite often it's pretty cheap.

                              It's simple and easy to make, the hardest part is getting all the ingredients.

                              For a four portion serving you need:
                              1 small onion (diced)
                              1 carrot
                              1 small red or green pepper
                              8oz peas (fresh or frozen)
                              16oz long grain rice
                              2 tablespoonsvegatable oil
                              3oz butter
                              4 tomatoes
                              7 cardamom pods
                              3 sticks of cinnamon
                              7 cloves
                              7 whole black peppers
                              2 teaspoons of cumin seeds 1
                              1 teaspoon of turmeric
                              2 teaspoons of cumin powder
                              1 teaspoon of ginger
                              1 clove garlic
                              3 teaspoons of salt

                              If you have an Asian shop or supermarket near you, buy your spices there, they're a lot cheaper than traditional supermarkets and come in bigger packets, rice is cheaper there too but mainly in large bulk sacks.

                              How to make: Boil the rice in a large pan with approx double the weight in water or look on the rice packet for instructions and adjust the ratio of water accordingly. This takes approx 15-20 minutes

                              While the rice is boiling, heat the oil in a pan, then add the diced onion and whole spices, lightly brown the onion, adding the butter as it's browning. Next you add all the ground spices and vegatables and cook for 5 minute, continually stirring, then cover with a lid and cook for another 5 minutes.

                              When the rice is boiled, strain it and add to the vegatables/spices and mix thoroughly and leave on a low heat for 5 minutes. Then if your pan's ovenproof, or use a large casserole dish, pop it into the oven for 30 minutes, gas mark 4, take it out and serve.



                              This is a tasty dish on it's own or if you're feeling brave and greedy, serve it with a nice hot curry, and maybe a kebab or two. If you do opt to serve it this way it's reccomended to put a toilet roll in the fridge before retiring to bed that night, and also leave your bedroom window slightly open and try to avoid slipping under your quilt. Men, feel free to play childish games, pulling the cover over your belloved's head.

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                              • MBNA / Credit Card / 40 Readings / 38 Ratings
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                                02.10.2008 11:30
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                                Top marks for spotting misuse of your card

                                I must be one of the lucky ones, I've only had 2 dealings with MBNA and was highly satisfied with them both times.

                                I never applied for a card with them, I had a Halifax charity card, where they give a percentage of your spendings to a charity you nominate. Approx 4 years ago The Halifax sold some of their credit card accounts to MBNA and mine was one of them. Basically, you got a new MBNA card but everything everything else was going to remain the same, even the charity donations so I just accepted it.

                                My first dealing with them was 2 years ago, I received a text message from them asking me to call them on a freephone number as soon as possible, so I rang them straight away. After going through the usual security checks the first thing they asked me was what I'd last used my card for. I told them and they then reeled off a list of purchases, phone top ups, catalogue items and even takeaways amongst them and asked me to confirm wether or not I had made them. After stating they were nothing to do with me, they said we thought as much as it was in a different part of the country. My card was immediately cancelled and I was informed I would receive a new one and also forms from the fraud department listing the actions and could I fill it in confirming the fraudulent ones. I did ask how my card details could have been obtained and was told various ways but the fraud department would know more.

                                The form came 2 days later and it was as I'd been told, however I did have to sign permission for any relevant authorities to be contacted (police) and it did state the results of any investigation would be kept to themselves.

                                I received a new card, nothing fraudulent was charged to my account, I was a bit wary using it for a while but put it down to one of those things and carried on as usual.

                                My second dealing was 3 weeks ago, another text message, this time saying please ring MBNA security, on another freephone number. Again I rang straight away and was put through to a lovely lady who was very helpful. The first thing she asked me was "have you spent a pound on Yahoo voice?" after saying no, she asked "have you spent £30 on 02 in slough?" "no, I'm in west yorks" I replied, she then told me my card had been compromised but their new fraud tracking software had picked it up immediately. We then spent a while talking about when I'd last genuinely used it and me asking again how she thought my details had been got hold of, she told me she didn't know but the fraud investigators would be looking into it.

                                We then had a conversation about the forms I'd be getting and reassuring me I wouldn't be billed, she arranged a new card and pin number and I told her I was cutting my old one up while talking to her.

                                She then asked me if i could hold the line for a few minutes so i said yes. When she came back she said "you'll never believe this, they've just tried spending seven thousand pounds on your card while you've been talking to me" I said, surely you'll be able to trace them, and was informed the investigators were on it.

                                This lady was really helpfull and even gave me her direct phone number and extension and told me to ring any time if I had any concerns or questions about my card/account, and said if she wasn't there her colleagues in that office would be able to help as they would be aware of my case.

                                Overall in the 4 years I've had this card I've been done twice by fiddling gits but I can't complain about the way MBNA has handled it, they've spotted it both times, dealt with it efficiently, I've received a new card and pin within a week, so all I can say is the fraud and security department are on the ball, even if the other depatments aren't.

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                                • Top Five Jokes / Discussion / 51 Readings / 41 Ratings
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                                  30.09.2008 14:57
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                                  Have a laugh

                                  Well it's a wet and miserable day today so I thought I'd sprinkle a bit of chuckle dust about, or not, as thecase may be.


                                  A man takes his wife to the farm show. They head down the row that houses all the bulls. The sign on the first bull's stall states, "This bull mated 50 times last year. "The wife turns to her husband and says, "He mated 50 times in a year, isn't that nice!" They proceed to the next bull and his sign stated, "This bull mated 65 times last year." The wife turns to her husband and says, "This one mated 65 times last year. That is over 5 times a month. You could learn from this one!" They proceeded to the last bull and his sign said, "This bull mated 365 times last year." The wife's mouth drops open and says, "WOW! He mated 365 times last year. That is ONCE A DAY!! You could really learn from this one." The fed up man turns to his wife and says, "Go up and ask if it was 365 times with the same cow."


                                  A woman was very distraught at the fact that she had not had sex or a date in quite some time. She was afraid she might have something wrong with her, so she decided to seek the medical expertise of a sex therapist.
                                  Her doctor recommended that she see Dr. Chang, the well-known Chinese sex therapist, so she went to see him.
                                  Upon entering the examination room, Dr. Chang said, "OK, take off all you crose."
                                  The woman did as she was told. "Now, get down and craw reery, reery fass to odder side of room."
                                  Again, the woman did as she was instructed.
                                  Dr. Chang then said, "OK, now craw reery, reery fass back to me."
                                  So she did. Dr. Chang shook his head slowly and said, "Your probrem vewy bad. You haf Ed Zachary Disease. Worse case I ever see. Dat why you not haf any sex or dates."
                                  Worried, the woman asked anxiously, "Oh my God, Dr. Chang, what is Ed Zachary Disease?"
                                  Dr. Chang looked the woman in the eye and replied, "Ed Zachary Disease is when your face rook Ed Zachary rike your arse."


                                  Bob can't obtain an erection so he goes to the doctor.
                                  The doctor tells him the muscles at the base of his willy are broken down and there's nothing he can do unless he's willing to try an experimental surgery.

                                  Bob asks what the surgery is and the doctor tells him they take the muscles from the base of a baby elephant's trunk, insert them in the base of his willy, and hope for the best. Bob says that sounds pretty scary, but the thought of never having sex again is even scarier, so he says OK.

                                  The doctor goes ahead and performs the surgery and about
                                  six weeks later he gives Bob the go ahead to "try out his new equipment".

                                  Bob takes Mary out to dinner. While at dinner Bob starts feeling incredible pressure in his pants.

                                  It gets unbearable and he figures no one can see him so he undoes his pants. No sooner does he do this, his willy pops out of his pants, rolls across the table, grabs a bread roll, and disappears back into his pants.

                                  Mary sits in shock for a few moments, and then gets a sly look on her face. She says, "That was pretty cool! Can you do that again?"

                                  With his eyes watering and a painful look on his face Bob says, "Probably, but I don't know if I can fit another bread roll up my arse."


                                  007 walked into a bar and took a seat next to a very attractive woman. He gave her a long admiring look, then casually looked at his watch. The woman noticed this and asked, "Is your date running late?"

                                  "No", he replied, "Q's just given me this state-of-the-art watch and I was just testing it." The intrigued woman said, "A state-of-the-art watch? What's so special about it?" "It tells me all about the person next to me, by using alpha waves to telepathically talk to me." he explained.

                                  "What's it telling you now?"

                                  "Well,it says you're not wearing any panties..."

                                  The woman giggled and replied, "Well it must be broken because I am wearing panties!"

                                  007 shook his head, tapped his watch and said "Damn thing must be an hour fast!"


                                  A man is watching the football on TV when his wife turns to him and says: "Honey can you fix the light in the hallway it keeps flickering"
                                  "Fix the light, now, do I look as though I have London Electricity written across my forehead? I don't think so" the husband replies.
                                  "Well could you fix the fridge door please it doesn't close properly" she adds.
                                  "The fridge door, now! Do I look as though I have Hotpoint written across my forehead, I don't think so" he replies again.
                                  "Well could you at least fix the steps to the house, they are nearly breaking and dangerous" she say despairingly.
                                  What? The steps? For God's sake can you see B&Q across my forehead, No,I don't think so - I've had enough of this I'm going to the pub"
                                  So off he goes and drinks until closing time. When he returns home he notices that the steps to house have been fixed. On entering the house the hall light is no longer flickering and on grabbing a beer from the fridge he is pleased to see the door closes properly. Somewhat pleased with this "disappearing to the pub tactic" he asked his wife how come everything is fixed.
                                  She replies: Well you see when you left I sat on the front porch crying, when suddenly this handsome young man asked why I was so upset. I told him and he said that he would happily fix everything if I would either bake him a cake or have sex with him"
                                  "So" the husband enquires "what sort of cake did you bake him?"
                                  "HELLO!!!" she replies, do I have Mr Kipling written on my forehead. No, I don't think so."

                                  Well I hope they mildly amused you and I'll bid you a fond farewell and leave you with this little ditty

                                  There once was a guy from El Doot,
                                  Who found seven huge warts on his root,
                                  He put acid on these,
                                  And now, when he pees,
                                  He's got to finger the thing like a flute

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