- Premium reviews
- Express reviews
- Reviews rated
- Ratings received
When I first stepped into the Westfield Shopping Centre (or should I say Mall, it feels way more American than any other shopping centre I've been to, including American ones) I was overawed by the size and cleanliness of the place.
Being from Essex, I grew up with Lakeside AKA Chavside, which did the job of my town High Street, but under one compact roof. Now when I was younger I thought that was big. If Westfield was open back then, it would have seen colossal.
The shopping centre (mall) is a little confusing at first, and the technological advanced maps are always heavily popular, making it difficult to navigate at times. After checking the internet map before going, and being a man who is not so bad at locating things, it doesn't pose too much of a problem.
I saw a review on here lamenting the lack of MacDonalds and KFC. Are you mad? I was refreshed to not see the treacherous Golden Arches and Colonels smug beardy face.
Alright there's a Burger King, but that is a posh person's MacDonalds, so it's not too bad. You should open your palette to some of the delights the food court offers. I mean, it does have a Nandos! But a place I like is called TiffinBites, an Indian place with serious good food. You don't have to go overboard, they do lovely clay-oven wraps and rolls (and if you have a Taste London card, 50% off, result!)
Now to the important part - shopping. Part of me is sad at the demise of the High Street, with empty shops not being filled, probably with the popularity of the big three - Bluewater, Lakeside and Westfields.
But part of me wants to say 'I told you so.' Every High Street looks the same. Same shops, same bland food, same benches - it's kind of depressing that I could be shopping in Southend High Street and then shopping in 'Northern Town' High Street and it could be the same place.
Westfields offers everything easily under one large roof. The usual Topman, Zara, H&M and HMV, mixed with some you don't get in my local High Street, Hollister, Ed Hardy and All Saints.
Oh and there's no Primark - refreshing!
And for the richer amongst you, a 'millionaires' row of designer shops, like Louis Vitton and others that I cannot think of, simply because I don't shop there (although, like many others, window shop!)
The transport links are great, tube, buses and overground all seconds away. Being on the Central Line, means you can easily do, if you're brave, Oxford Street and Westfields (although, comparing the two, Oxford Street is crowded and stressful.)
Oh and let me mention the toilets before I sign off. The ones by 'millionaires' row. Wow. Best public toilets in London, if not London, if not Europe, if not the world! Luxurious.
A pleasant experience can be found at Westfields, and I'm not that big on shopping. If you get dragged around by the other half, you can be save in the knowledge that all the thirsty work can be quenched by a nice frosty beer in one of the lovely pub/restaurants in the outside bit, which is lovely in the Summer.
When I purchased my MicroKorg (which I reviewed last week) I realised that I didn't have any decent headphones to use with it.
My friend had a spare pair of Sennheiser HD202 headphones (and luckily for me, a keyboard stand, which the band 'The Presets,' had just used for a gig!) which he gave me for free.
When I began my commute to work (a good 90 minutes each way) I realised how naff iPod headphones are. On the tube especially, where noise levels are so high, I couldn't hear the music through them.
One of the iPod headphones broke, but I had a spare pair. Slowly, listening to music on my iPod was grating on me due to the poor sound quality. Then I had a brainwave - use the Sennheiser ones.
I started using them with my iPod and they work a dream. They are bloody durable as well, you could drop them all you want with (and probably kick them) and they still wouldn't break. Even though my mate had them for a year or so before me, they still are in fine working order.
The sound quality is second to none. I can listen to music on the tube without hearing the annoying drone of rush-hour commuters or the excruciating creeks and high pitched sounds that come through the tube.
The bass is great and you can expand them to fit your head - this is where my one small downfall comes, sometimes they seem not to fit my head properly (that could be weird shaped head though.)
There is also a fantastic length of cable.
I didn't actually know how much these headphones cost until I looked on here, and I said to myself 'I'd pay around £40 for these.' For £25 as advertised on here, you can't go wrong. Perfect for iPods/MP3 players and perfect for my MicroKorg and other keyboards, with a small pin adaptor.
We're constantly being encouraging to use public transport instead of cars.
The think tanks that tell us this need to take a weeks worth of journey's on National Express East Anglia.
Recently I have been commuting using their service, from Rochford (near Southend Victoria) to London Liverpool Street - and I wish had any other means of transport.
I work six days a week, and have to pay over £90 a week for the privilege. (That's roughly £360 a month - crazy.)
Last week I had a run in with the train company, as I was delayed two days in a row - unacceptable for me, I work to tight deadlines and my pet hate is being late.
It prompted me to complain. There is something about complaining that makes me feel better about the situation and I urge people to do it more.
Here is the copy of the letter if you care to take a look:
I am writing to outline my shear misery endured on your Southend Victoria to London Liverpool Street line on Friday 21st May and Saturday 22nd May 2010 and am asking for a refund on my weekly ticket as a result.
On Friday, the 08.17 train was delayed by about half an hour due to a 'point,' failure (which means absolutely nothing to me). Instead of any updates given, there was just the generic robotic announcer declaring every couple of minutes that the train was delayed and expected to arrive in 'xx minutes.' This resulted in me being late for my job, much to my employer's despair.
I can understand there are going to be delays from time to time, so just had to accept it.
Then on Saturday (I work on Saturday's also) I went to get on the 08.32 train to Liverpool Street. This train had to go to Wickford, where I had to get off and get on a replacement bus. The replacement bus took an age, but finally got me to Shenfield. Apparently some pikey's had stolen the cables? Does the commuter's money not go on putting up defences for such idiotic acts of vandalism?
When I got here, in a rush and panic where I was late (I am a finance consumer journalist for a national newspaper, hence the need to be in on time and the need for me to complain) I was ushered onto the 'next available train to Liverpool Street.'
Instead of it being a swift stop at Stratford and then to Liverpool Street, the train went to all of the little stops (ie Goodmayes, Seven Kings) adding at least another twenty minutes to my journey and my frustration begun to grow. All in all, I ended up turning up to work an hour late.
I think that it is unacceptable that a train costing an astonishing and eye-watering £90.60 a week (surely one of the most overpriced lines for one of the worst services, both awful trains and constant late running's) can have so many problems.
Is it too much to ask for the service to be running as scheduled for this kind of money?
The reason I am buying a weekly (I thought I may as well add) is that I am currently in the process of moving to London, just so I do not have to endure the misery of your train line any longer. I can actually rent a house and get to work on time for the same money as I spend on your trains. I look forward to next year when the National Express East Anglia franchise expires...
Whoever picks this e-mail up, I am sorry for the ranting nature of this letter, but I just cannot take it anymore!
I look forward to your hasty response. I also have a copy of my receipt for my blood ticket to send to you if need be.
Maybe this was a little bit over excessive, but they got back to me yesterday to ask for me to send the receipt and apologising.
So for that they can have an extra star.
It's not just the delays that are awful on this line, it is the actual quality of the trains as well.
They are overcrowded, dirty and look like something commissioned from the 60's, with seat patterns that could give you a seizure.
The toilets I avoid, but when nature calls and there is nothing you can do, I'd rather do my number ones and twos out the window, the toilets are that disgusting.
And the stations. Bricks and mortar, with no character, no charm and certainly no decent facilities.
National Express East Anglia, you serve my home town - I wish you didn't, or at least attempt to sort it out.
I received this iPod docking station as a leaving present from my last job, and when I got them home and tried them, I was pleasantly surprised.
It comes with a handle cushioned pouch, which is handy for you to take them to the park for a day out or on holiday.
Which leads me to the next thing, mine came with an EU adapter, so you can use them abroad with minimum fuss.
It comes with a remote, which is nifty and is very basic, so easy to use.
The sound quality of this dock is amazing for the size of the product. My only problem is, sometimes it cuts out, but I think it's when I have it up too loud and the speakers realise that if they play it at that level of volume it will blow them - so that is a good thing really.
The battery life is very good (although I must confess, I usually use them in the house running on mains.)
Another good thing is that it actually charges your iPod up when it is plugged in. This is handy for me as a commuter, as I just come home, pop the iPod on the connection and hey-presto, ready for me to use, even whilst I'm listening to the music.
There is a surround sound button which is great for bassy tunes and an extra bit of oomph.
This dock comes highly recommended, but then again I got mine for free, so I don't know if I would pay £70ish for them... There may be better quality ones out there. But for the size of this product, it really packs a punch.
I am drinking some Copella Apple and Mango now for my lunch at work, as part of the Boots lunch meal deal.
I am a big Copella fan, especially of their Apple flavour, and this is the first time I have tried the Apple and Mango combo - and all I can say is wow! What a refreshing and wholly satisfying drink.
I used to drink Copella Apple (the whole big bottle) as a hangover cure (luckily rarely have time for a hangover these days.) and it used to sort me out a treat.
Copella as based at a Suffolk farm made from hand picked fruit, selected, it says on the bottle, when it is at its ripest and best. I cannot disagree with them there.
I'm guessing it is part of the coveted 'one of your five a day' as it contains 85% apple and 15% mango puree, and most importantly, it is not made from concentrate, unlike many cheap fruit juices.
Which brings me down to the one Copella downfall; price. The little 330ml bottle I just purchased in my meal deal was £1.60 separately, quite expensive for such a small amount.
However, when you want quality, you have to pay the price.
All in a very refreshing hit, which leaves me wanting more once the bottle has gone. A real thirst quencher.
About a year ago, I bought one of these for £9 in Argos.
At the time, things weren't going great for me and I bought one as all of a sudden I started to see them cropping up everywhere.
When I purchased it, all of a sudden a got a great run of luck. I know that sounds weird and I'm not telling you to buy one because it will bring you good luck, it just became my lucky charm, and it still is!
I hardly ever take it off. I even shower with it - its 50m water resistant.
Other great features include an 'electro luminescence' which is a bright blue light, handy on nights out and in bed at night.
The functions are simple. You can have the time as a 12HR clock face or my preferred 24HR clock face.
It has an alarm function, stopwatch and lets you store the day and date of the month you are in.
If you are looking for a simple watch, it's great, very 80's retro which is in at the moment.
It would also make a great first watch for a child or teenager.
I'm going to upgrade to a silver one soon I think and eventually get to a gold one.
My Mum frowns that I wear it as a 23 year-old (it's only because I've ditched the expensive Fossil one she bought me for a birthday!)
So far, over a year gone, great luck has come my way, the battery is still full of life (despite constantly being in nightclubs and flashing the luminous light in the air) and I love my casio.
So much so, that me and my casio-loving friend recorded. 'Everyone get on the floor, everyone do the casio!'
Also great for joggers. I used to time my runs using the simple to use stopwatch.
I am a massive fan of British comedy, and I tend to find American comedy (ie Friends, Seinfield etc) about as funny as the plague.
However, Flight Of The Conchords, who hail from little New Zealand are a breath of comedy fresh air. What has this got to do with American comedy? Well it is produced by HBO and it is set in New York, so in essence, is kind of American.
The two main characters, Bret and Jemaine, are a loveable pair. Bret wears wicked animal print jumpers and Jemaine has the big sideburns and thick black specs.
They have come to New York for the two series' to try and make it as a band (Flight Of The Conchords)
The joke is, they are actually really talented, but in the show they are rubbish and don't go anywhere - largely in part by their bumbling, but even more loveable manager Murray (in some ways, he steals the show.)
What is refreshing about this show is the songs that tie in brilliantly with the theme of the episode. I have both the albums also, and the songs stand-up on there own. You need to watch it to see the excellence of the songs and videos.
My favourite songs are Carol Brown (a song about Jemaine's ex-girlfriend) Sugarlumps (a song about ladies checking out their man parts) and Business Time (Jemaine's Barry Whitesque love song.) Well worth checking them out on youtube first to see if you like.
Everyone I have introduced this show to, has loved it.
I also recently saw them in concert, and they were just as great live.
The show covers so many topics, varying from racism to male prostitution, friendship to drugs. It has it all. I guarantee if you get this, you will struggle not to watch it all in one go.
I have had my Blackberry for a couple of months now, after months of people trying to convince me to get an iPhone.
Let me start with the physical comparisons. The iPhone, for me, is chunky and I am not a fan of touchscreens. Plus, everyone I know that has one seems to spend their life on it, playing little games and eyes glued to the screen.
The Blackberry, doesn't have the same level of apps (in fact, I haven't bothered to get any) and I have kept addictiveness to a minimum by not getting the internet on the phone (although, I use the internet on it when I have wireless on at home, and it is good, quick and easy to use.)
I love the qwerty keyboard, I find it so much easier to text now. The features are great, with little quirky games like wordmole and handy features such as 'word,' so you can write on the go, which is handy for writing my blog when I'm bored on the train.
The interface is easy on the eye and smooth, and there is facility to store quite a lot of music.
My pitfall on this phone is the lousy camera. There is no flash, which is a problem for me, because I like to take photos on nights out and even in the light it's pretty poor - my old Sony Ericsson 2 megapixel probably had a better camera, and that was years ago!
But everything else far outweighs this fault. I can't quite call it a 'crackberry' as I don't have e-mails set up to it and I don't use BB Pin (which, apparently, is like MSN for all BB users.)
Now, when I'm on the tube in London, I can feel like a proper journalist when I line up with everyone else, looking at my BB like I am important!
I purchased my MicroKorg around about a year ago, and it does pack a large punch for a musical object that is so tiny.
I'll start with the positives. As a musical novice (I purchased mine to just relax with and muck around, and sometimes make music with my guitarist friend and drumming friend) the MicroKorg was easy to set up and get started.
There was a manual that may as well have been in a foreign language - you are better of just plugging in some speakers, and experimenting with it (I would also advise looking at some youtube guides of the sort of awesome stuff you can do on the machine.)
There are 8 different sound settings (ranging from Techno, to Drum and Bass) with 16 different sound settings for each genre.
Other nifty buttons include a tempo dial and other dials you can twist and turn to make the sounds different every time.
With the MicroKorg comes the vocoder, which I find slightly disappointing. There are a few settings that can make you sound like a robot when you talk down it, but quite often it is inaudible.
You can run the MicroKorg through the mains or with batteries (I haven't tried the latter.)
For a musical novice, as I say, this is a great little buy and I find it great for unwinding and just experimenting.
Now for the two obvious flaws that I find.
Firstly, the small keys; it may sound trivial, but my fingers can struggle not to press two keys at once, although after a while you do get used to it.
Second of all, I have had great difficulty recording some tunes onto my laptop. I purchased a USB cable which connects it to the laptop and installed 'fruityloops' but for a novice, it was all too much to handle.
When I search how to record onto laptop, I have struggled to find a comprehensive guide. Me and my friend ending up recording it through his phone and it did sound pretty good (I'll save your ears from the youtube link!)
All-in-all, a highly recommended piece of kit - unless you are taking your music very seriously (I wouldn't fancy playing a gig with such tiny keys!)
I bought this book on a whim, when I saw it as part of three for a fiver in a closing down sale in a bookshop.
When I got home, I realised it was by a female author, and I must admit I don't usually read books by female author's (it's not me being sexiest, I just don't seem to relate to the characters as much, and my Mum is the same, she doesn't enjoy books written by male author's.)
I was pleasantly surprised. I read it in a week and a half of train journey's and although some of the plot is predictable and the characters a little static and stereotypical, it had a solid base and some very interesting parts.
Set mainly in Ireland, an American family move into a lighthouse after the Father takes some time off from the police force after shooting dead a man.
The villain he has shot dead has a best friend who swears on revenge and soon turns up in Ireland, where chaos erupts.
Well worth a read (although it might scare you if you live in a lighthouse!)
This film is an inspiration to anyone that has a repetitive job, trapped in the ratrace with the same commute, same annoying colleagues, a sense their life is going nowhere and working hard for no praise.
It's an inspiration. I watched this whilst I was working in an office and it just made me change the way I worked
The script is fantastic, Mike Judge is clearly a very talented individual and the main character, played by relative unknown Ron Livingston alongside Jennifer Aniston, who actually acts in this really well, blends together and makes it all feel realistic.
Recently I leant this to a friend who found out he is being made redundant from a big (un-named) bank, so is losing his job. He watched this and it cheered him up no end.
The smashing of a certain piece of office equipment to a fantastic hip-hop soundtrack is one of my favourite ever movie moments and the soundtrack itself is a gem.
District 9 is a good sci-fi film, that at times really felt real. You sympthasise with the main character and the parallels with the 'shrimp' aliens and members of societies that live in shanty towns is uncanny.
Without spoiling it too much, the plot is centralises in Johannesburg, South Africa, where an alien aircraft is mysteriously trapped in the sky.
When humans go in, they find the aliens malnourished and struggling to survive.
The bond the main character builds with one of the aliens is touching and goes to show that no matter what creed, race, religion etc, we can all get along, and you get the feeling that is the message Peter Jackson is trying to put across to the viewer.
I also get the feeling that they have set it up for a District 10 to come out, but I hope not as this will destroy the impact of this groundbreaking film.
My only slight criticism is the slow start and the stereotypical nature of the main characters girlfriends Dad.
It is well worth a view, and a good one to watch with some popcorn on a Saturday night (although when I begun to watch the film, the realistic nature of the 'shrimp' aliens really freaked me out!)
Father Ted is my favourite comedy of all time. It is as funny the 1st time as it is the 100th time. Father Ted, Dougal, Jack and Mrs Doyle are comedy character gold - not to mention the supporting cast such as Ted's rival Father Dick Byrne, John and Mary and the infamous milkman.
If you're a box set fiend like me, this is the creme de la creme. I just watched an episode today actually, where they give up their vices for lent. Father Ted fags, Father Jack drink and Father Dougal rollerblading. I was in stitches even though I have seen it a million times.
Ted: You need to give up drink father, as a gesture to our lord.
Father Jack(probably with a waxy build up in his ears): Arnold? Whose Arnold!? Hahaha fantastic.
It was a shame that Ted died in real life, as I think there could have been a few more series' of this. In my eyes, it is the best comedy of the past 20 years and I have never found anyone who doesn't like it.
Darkplace is such a fantastic programme and offers a dark humour alternative to mainstream comedy.
The show got fairly poor ratings on Channel 4 when it came out, but I think it just got a poor slot. It is so daft and funny. I wasn't expecting much of it when it came out, but I literally had to watch all 6 episodes in a row.
In experience, every one of my male mates I have introduced to this show has loved it. However, I find my female friends think it is awful. You just can't take it to seriously.
The cast includes Moss from the IT Crowd as Thornton Reed, with the joke being his bad acting and Matt Berry from Snuffbox, and also the IT Crowd.
The script is clever and although it is not laugh out loud funny, funny it is.
I was hooked from the first moment and watched all 6 episodes back to back
It leaves you pondering this question. What if Rats and its Rat Brethen ate and took over Parliment?