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I had cause to use this web site last week, as I needed a lens adapter for my brilliant Canon Powershot G2. Not many websites could tell me exactly what I model and make I needed for my particular camera but digital-cameras.com could. That was the first plus point. The second is the lay out of the actual site itself. The home page lists an index down the left hand side with easy to understand categories. The middle section deals with special offers such as cameras, battery chargers etc and the right hand side details such items as internet printing sites, competitions and latest news items from the world of digital photography. The range of products is excellent and they supply everything from memory cards to digital imaging software and everything in between, including the cameras of course. Prices are competitive if not spectacular. I actually ended up spending about £3 more for the item I needed, but I got in within two working days. This compares to the three specialist camera shops I visited, none of whom had the item in question. £3 was a small price to pay for the ease of ordering and delivery. The customer care person I spoke to was helpful and courteous and everything he promised came true. The item did actually arrive unharmed and on time. They take all major credit cards and debit cards and have an order tracking system if you need to chase up on your order. I didn’t as it came so quickly. All in all an excellent on-line shop with an extremely easy navigation system. I only used it once, but would definitely consider using it again when the need arises.
So, the tournament that started on Thursday with partially sunny skies and gradually turned into some of the worse golfing conditions I have ever seen, ended yesterday in glorious sunshine. Ernie Els, the “Big Easy”, kept his shaking in check for five extra, nail biting holes to claim his third major in eight years. It was the one he’s been after for quite some time, he informed us. After twice coming runner up in the Open I can well believe it. OK, so his speech wasn’t quite as elegant as last years from the defending champion, David Duval. But then DD didn’t have to endure an extra five holes to claim the first prize. Maybe his speech was going to have been inspired, but after seeing his winners cheque for £700k he lost track of his thoughts for a few minuets. I know I would have! All in all it was a great tournament this year. I’m a bit fed up with the recent trends of foregone conclusions in majors. Although I have to admit, I would have liked to have seen Tiger Woods win and go on to a first ever Grand Slam, it was nice to have a tense finish for a change instead of a 12 shot victory tied up by lunch time on Saturday. As the saying goes, rain is a great leveller. It certainly proved to be so on Saturday. Even the world number one, Tiger Woods, was reduced to a Sunday hacker as he found the rough on almost every hole on the course. It was one of the most amazing sights in golfing history to see him go round in his highest ever score as a professional, 81. Not a patch on my 150 I might add! If only the highest score won in golf. I’d be a multi-millionaire by now. It all calmed down on Sunday however, as the sun put his hat on and came out to play. The golf was of a consistently high standard, with a few early charges, not least Tiger going round in 6 under to get himself back to par for the tournament. However, it was too much to ask for him to make up so much ground and win the tournament. That left the field wide open with Harrington and Gary Evans making late charges but ultimately fading. So, it was left to Ernie Els to claim the spotlight and bring the curtain down on the 131st Open Championship with a nerve tingling sudden death play-off and a rather ordinary speech.
This may shock some of you so prepare yourself, but Cardiff has actually been voted in the top five shopping cities in the UK. In fact it’s been in that list for a good few years now. Amazing to those people who’ve never visited this glorious city before and who still think Cardiff and Wales are light years behind London. Allow me, if you will, to take your hand and guide you through the streets of Cardiff, I’ll show you something that will make you change your mind. So, you’ve peeled off the chewing gum from your trouser leg and sprayed perfume to get rid of the slightly musty smell left behind by the strange man who sat next to you, even though there was no-one else in the carriage and stepped of the train at Cardiff Central. You emerge into Central Square, husbands credit card in hand ready to do some damage. You go girl! (pretty sexist I know, but it’s only women that go shopping isn’t it?) First stop is St. Mary’s Street. A long, wide street running from the magnificent Cardiff Castle to the café quarter at the other end. On this street you will find David Morgan and Howells, two large department stores. David Morgan is a privately owned, old-fashioned type store, probably left to the older woman and gentleman. Head for Howells. There you will find everything under the sun. From designer clothes to electrical goods to household furniture. It’s a large, hot, busy store that generally has women falling over themselves in the rush to get there. Also on St. Mary’s Street are, amongst others, two kitchen shops (one selling kitchen goods the other selling kitchens!), Blackwells book store, a health food store, a sports store and numerous bars, coffee shops and restaurants. Once you’ve finished with St. Mary’s Street, walk with me through the Castle Arcade. This beautiful L shaped arcade holds such wonderful stores as, City Surf, an excellent surf shop selling everything from trendy sunglasses to the surf boards themselves, an upmarket hairdressers, a juice store, several trendy clothing stores, a martial arts store and the Cardiff Condom shop! Oh, and it also contains a second hand bookstore and a café specialising in lovely welsh food. As we emerge into the sunlight (for the sun ALWAYS shines in Cardiff) we get an eyeful of the castle which is right in front of us. Turn right onto Castle Street and walk past a few camping shops, a futon centre, a number of Welsh gift shops and Jessops camera shop. We now have a choice to make. Head straight on into Queen St. the pedestrianised shopping heart of the city or turn right into the Hayes. It’s closing in on lunchtime, so we decide to head for the Hayes, with its outdoor café and people watching opportunities. After a pleasant lunch we wander around the Hayes, popping for a while into Waterstones Bookstore and Habitat before making our way past the second branch of Waterstones into the Queens arcade. Here we buy a gift for your nephew from the Disney Store and imagine furnishing that dream house with items from The Pier. You pop into FCUK while I take a quick look in the Nike shop. Once through to the other side of the arcade we find ourselves on Queen St again. A quick look in Gap, then it’s on to Boots, HMV, the largest branch of Dixons in the country, Monsoon, WH Smiths, Next, Racing Green, Marks & Spencers, Anne Summers, Thorntons (for that gift for granny) and Austin Reed. We saved Austin Reed for last, because we can walk through it and into the Capitol arcade. In this two level arcade we find the Gadget Shop, H&M, a jewellery shop, Virgin, another camping shop, the Orange shop, another Boots and a few more cafés and clothes stores. We leave the Capitol arcade and return to Queen St. After a quick recharge of the batteries in Starbucks we head through Marks and Spencer and into St. Davids Centre. In here you want to visit everywhere. Warehous e, Debenhams, Burtons, BHS, The Swiss Watch Shop, Game, USC, Woolworths, the four different shoe shops (at least!), Peacocks, Giles Sports. The list seems endless and after what seems like hours we meet up back on the Hayes, outside the St. David’s Concert Hall. We make our way past Moss Bros, Halfords and a rather trendy furniture shop called Bo and turn right into the arcade through to St. Mary’s Street. This arcade contains a number of small specialist shops and we wander past a delicatessen, with its fantastic smells and range of forty different pastas, a camera shop, an italian shirt shop, a picture shop and an art supplies shop. Finally, we are almost back at the train station for your journey home. You quickly nip into another WH Smiths to get yourself a book and a drink, then you tell me what a wonderful day you’ve had, and how surprised you were at Cardiff’s extensive and varied shopping.
Those people who would have wanted to see this film will probably have already been to see it, therefore, this review is aimed at those who a) can’t stand Tom Cruise (an attitude to which I am fairly sympathetic) or b) can’t stand all this sci-fi nonsense (an attitude to which my wife is very sympathetic). Having just re-read that first paragraph, I can’t believe that we’ve actually seen the film ourselves. Ah… the joys of compromise. That’s what a strong marriage is built on apparently. I love sci-fi and can take or leave Tom Cruise, my wife on the other hand, can’t stand sci-fi or Tome Cruise! However, as I was paying and we took my car, I got to choose. Anyway, back to the review. The film is based on the premise that murders can be foreseen by three gifted individuals, who supply a special police unit with the date and time of the murder along with the names of both the victim and the murderer. It is at this point that our Tom, leaping into action, dons some rather snazzy gloves (presumably donated by Michael Jackson) and attempts to guide a recently landed plane into its allocated airport bay. Actually, I may have that wrong, but that’s what it looks like. Once the location of the murder has been determined by our brainy hero, the whole manly team leap into a futuristic plane and, rather unnecessarily I thought, smash through the roof and windows of the location, jump on the murderer and arrest him. All very well and good you may think. But so did our Tom, until the psychics predicted him murdering someone he hadn’t even met. That put him into a bit of a lather I can tell you. This is actually where the film starts to get good. Naturally our toothy hero, runs from his own colleagues and tries to clear his name, putting him in a rather tricky position. If he does manage to prove the system wrong, he’s effectively out of a job and has potentially arrested hu ndreds of innocent men and if he does kill someone, he’ll go to jail forever. Nasty! Anyway, the film barrels along at a cracking pace from here on in, and is actually more of a tense thriller which just happens to be set in the future than a sci-fi, action movie. Tom puts in his usual safe performance, as do his co-stars. The films best performance comes from a plastic surgeon who agrees to give Tom an eye transplant (just go and see it!). Peter Stormare who also played the Russian cosmonaut from Armageddon and stole the show there as well plays this part. All in all, the film is well worth seeing. As I said above, not so much sci-fi as tense thriller set in the future. There are some nice twists in the plot, the special effects are eye-popping (aren’t they always these days?) and I can think of worse ways to spend a fiver and a few spare hours. If you’ve seen Attack of the Clones and don’t fancy Scooby Doo, then choose this.
I have done quite a bit of flying over the last six months and Emirates is the fourth airline I have flown with since February, so I think I’m in a relatively strong position to express my opinion of them. I have to admit right now, that I found myself flying them due to business and as such I was flying business class. I’d never flown anything but economy before, and I have to admit, business class was unadulterated luxury compared to cattle class. That’s why it’s such a pity that I’m too much of a cheapskate to pay for business class tickets when I go on holiday next. (Well, a pity for my wife anyway, I mean, I’ve already flown business class!!) The Emirates experience started for me when I arrived at the desk. There was no queue at the first class check in and I have to admit feeling a bit out of place as I waltzed past all the poor souls standing in what looked like an endless queue for the economy check in. However, that nanosecond of guilt soon passed and It wasn’t long before I was heading for the private lounge and free beer. Once on the plane I marvelled at how much space I had available to me. Footrests and reclining seats that enabled me to lie virtually flat the entire way. Armrests that were big enough to allow me to drink the champagne without the need to fold out my table. It was comfort that I have only experienced before in my own living room. Touch screen technology video screens showing the usual movies and TV shows but with the added novelty of being able to view two cameras mounted on the outside of the plane. One pointing straight down (good if there’s no clouds) and one pointing forward allowing you to see the pilots view (suprisingly uninteresting). The in-flight entertainment also includes games and quizzes that you can play against other passengers. However, these take an age to load and are quite dull. I opted to lie back and relax instead. The food is exc ellent and the service superb. The stewardesses were extremely attentive and always ready to get me whatever I needed. They took their time over serving the meal, allowing the food to go down between all FIVE courses. There was even a proper menu and wine list. Once I arrived at Dubai airport I was able to use the fast track passport control line and so again avoided standing in a long queue. All in all, it was a superb experience and one that I can highly recommend. If you get the chance to fly business and especially Emirates then I would suggest you leap at it. I think a return business class ticket form Heathrow to Dubai costs around £1,400 which is a hefty whack, but hey, if someone else is paying, why not?
Vegas. The very name conjures up images of Elvis in his jump suit, Sinatra with his rat pack and massive hotels with anything can be bought for the right price. It’s been described as America’s playground or a Disney World for adults. A place where you can take time out from the hum drum of normal life and become someone else for a few days. Someone cool. Someone sharp. Someone more suited to the movie lots and hot spots of Hollywood than the sales section of D. Sproggit and Son, Hull. Las Vegas is all these things and more. It’s currently the fastest growing city in the USA, with over 5,000 people a month moving in. Although the official statistics fail to mention how many people move out after they learn the hard way that they can’t get their pay check past the casino door. The size of the city is the second thing that hits you as you fly into McCarren International Airport at the south end of the world famous strip. The first is the strip itself, which can be seen from many miles away. Huge hotels all themed differently and lit up spectacularly at night, which is when you should aim to arrive if possible. There’s the Luxor, the pyramid shaped hotel shooting out the most powerful beam of light on earth straight into the sky. There’s the MGM, the emerald coloured giant. The worlds biggest hotel with over 4,000 rooms and it’s own theme park. There’s the Bellagio with it’s dancing fountains, there’s the Mirage, with it’s erupting volcano and there’s Caesars Palace, perhaps the most famous of them all. All these sights greet you while still on the plane. Imagine what’s on the ground. Slot machines. These bleeping, flashing, coin laden teases are one of the first things you see when you walk out of baggage claim. Ignore them and head for the hotels. That’s where the real pleasure lies. A couple of years ago, friends of mine who’d just returned from a five day break to Vegas were explaining how they’d spend their evenings wandering from one hotel to another, occasionally having a gamble, maybe grabbing a free drink from a cocktail waitress, but usually just walking and watching. At that time, I thought they were a bit odd. Fancy going somewhere and just walking around the local hotels. Very strange! But it turns out they were justified in their entertainment choice. These monster hotels have everything you could wish for on a holiday. Caesars Palace alone has over 2,500 rooms, a casino area of xxx, 16 restaurants, countless bars and two shopping areas (one of which is one of the most expensive and sought after retail sites in the whole of America). The main shopping area is home to such names as Gap, Banana Republic, Gucci, Virgin, The Disney Store, Planet Hollywood, Ralph Lauren and Vesace. Enough to keep the most hardened shopper going. If you consider that Caesars Palace is just one of over 15 such hotels located on the strip, you’ll understand how just visiting the hotels can keep you going for your entire holiday. Of course the casinos are one of the main attractions for people coming to Las Vegas. The lure of that one lucky role of the dice, or that killer hand or just that lucky dollar in the right slot machine at the right time. It’s what attracts the people in the first place, it’s what keeps them coming back and it’s worth remembering it’s also what makes the hotel owners rich. But don’t stop there. Play some golf on one of the world class courses that surround the city, take a helicopter tour of the Hover Damn and the Grand Canyon, take in a show by one of the worlds top performers, perhaps even get married by Elvis. The list is endless, but money is required, so just watch you don’t hand all of it over to the casino on your first night.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of taking a holiday to the West Coast of America and Hawaii. (Excuse me while I just pick up that name I just dropped). While the holiday, as you can imagine, was awesome, there were certain aspects of the United Airlines customer service that were certainly not awesome. Actually the title to this op is slightly misleading. They weren’t that bad. (Certainly better than American Airlines, but then that’s not difficult. I think I would be better than American if I offered people piggy backs to wherever they wanted to go.) However, there were a couple of incidents that could have been handled better by the United staff. I’ll get them out in the open early and then talk about the good things they do. The first annoying habit they have, is holding a number a seats back and allocating them at the gate. Don’t misunderstand me, I know why they do this, but when they refuse to allocate you seats when you already have numbered seats on your original ticket, it’s a little annoying. This happened to my wife and myself when we flew home to Heathrow from Las Angeles. (Oops, there goes another one). When I asked the gate staff why we had to wait for our seat allocation when our tickets clearly stated seat numbers, they were very dismissive and told me they would do their best for me and to sit back down. I then explained to them that my wife was pregnant and that it was very important that we sit together. They couldn’t have been less interested if they’d tried. They practically ordered me to sit down. This has a number of consequences: 1) It leaves you very disconcerted. Not one person actually reassured me that we even had a seat on the plane; 2) You have to hang around by the gate and are unable to go and get something to eat or drink (and believe me, that’s something you certainly want to be doing if you’re going to be flying with United. To cal l their in-flight food pig-swill, would be an insult to pig-swill. I would have welcomed pig-swill with open mouth). The second incident that annoyed me was their refusal to supply my wife with a drink, even though no stewardess had been round the plane for approximately 6 hours. No, I’m not joking. When my wife resorted to walking to the back of the plane to ask for one, she was told to sit down, as they would be around soon. “Soon” turned out to be one and a half hours later. What tremendous customer service, I think you’ll agree. This was made especially annoying when we could clearly see the passengers in economy-plus being pampered beyond compare. Thank god I couldn’t see first class. However, those incidents aside, on the whole they weren’t that bad. The main reason we booked the holiday with them was the price. We had three nights in San Francisco, six nights in Honolulu followed by three nights in Las Vegas. Six flights in all. This whole holiday actually ended up being about £400 per person, cheaper than a two week fly drive to California with Virgin (Our original idea). Their in-flight entertainment wasn’t the best I’d ever come across, although that may be something to do with the quality of films on general release at the moment. The saving grace for their in-flight entertainment has to be the audio channel “From the Flight Deck”. At the pilot’s discretion, you are allowed to listen in to all conversations between the plane and whatever particular tower they happen to be communicating with at the time. This is excellent if, like me, you are a nervous passenger. At one point on the way to SF we went through what I would consider to be extremely bad turbulence. It was so bad that the cabin crew had to strap themselves in for twenty minutes. Ordinarily in that situation I would have been mentally making my peace with the world, but I calmed down con siderably when listening to the pilot reporting some light to mild chop to the tower on the ground in a very matter of fact manner. Then I heard an Air Canada jet somewhere in the area tell the tower that they had just come through some light turbulence. My god, I thought, we’re not even into turbulence yet. This is just mild chop. When I realised the Air Canada jet survived the mild turbulence I was fairly certain we’d come out of the chop alive. So to recap, the good points about United are: l Fairly cheap; l Good network; l A generous mileage points program. (I’ve now got enough for a free flight to Nice, which is nice); l From the Flight Deck, audio channel. The bad points: l Dubious customer service. On the whole, pretty good. I would fly with them again (if only for the flight deck communication) but I will look around for alternatives in the future.
Stockholm – Venice of the North. Hang on I thought that was Bruges, no Amsterdam? How many are there? Whatever it is, it’s great. I’ve recently returned from Stockholm after a very enjoyable three-night break. All right, so it’s freezing outside. Wear a scarf, hat, gloves and a warm coat and you’re over that problem. Alternatively keep popping into the numerous coffee-houses that abound throughout the whole city and warm up with a latte. Very Swedish I’m sure! The city comprises of a number of islands dotted throughout a large lagoon and the mainland itself. Gamla Stan is the old town and is a mish match of small alleyways and open squares holding the usual tourist gift shops next to the not so usual high quality art gallery. Add to this the many coffee shops, bars, restaurants and the Grand Palace and it all adds up to a very pleasant place to spend a day. The Gamla Stan is reached by a few bridges that snake out from the mainland. On the mainland itself you can find large department stores housing all the top brands (Polo, Gant, French Connection) and all at prices cheaper than the UK. I didn’t believe it at first either, but I checked and it’s true. “NK” was the best we found. It’s located opposite Sweden House which houses the tourist information office, so it’s easy enough to find. The city has a large shopping area, which is nonetheless easy to navigate and get around. It includes a big underground area directly underneath the city’s main square (Which is ugly and looks like a throwback to the 70’s. Perhaps ABBA donated the money for it). If you wander a bit further afield (half an hours walk) you will arrive at the Vasa Museum. A quite brilliant museum which houses a 17th century war ship that capsized and sank 1,300 meters into its maiden voyage. It sank into the silt and there it lay, protected from erosion for 333 years until it was ra ised and moved to the dockside, where the museum was built around it. It is cheap to get in, around £3, and it’s well worth the walk. Very informative and with a lovely café. Although a sign informed me that I wasn’t allowed to have a picnic in the café. I was very disappointed as you can imagine. I’d brought the blanket and everything! There is a massive choice of places to eat in the city. Everything from Macdonald’s (all six hundred of them, or so it seemed) to very upmarket restaurants. It is here that the myth of a high cost of living comes true. In one restaurant, amusingly entitled "Rolfs Kok", we paid over £60 for two main courses and two glasses of wine. The wine cost over £10 per glass. It was extremely nice food and lovely wine, but come on! Needless to say they didn’t receive a tip. Sad really. I would have tipped them, because like everywhere else I went in the city, the staff were very friendly, spoke perfect English and were extremely helpful. Our hotel was located about ten minutes walk from the city centre. For this reason we walked everywhere and didn’t use public transport. However, Stockholm seems to have a very complete transport system. It has a tube system, buses, trams, boats and taxis. The only time we did use the train was when we caught the dedicated train from the airport to the centre. 20 minutes each way, directly from under the airport, £20 return. What a great service. A longer trip than Heathrow to Paddington yet cheaper, and people think Stockholm is expensive!! (Quick fact for you all. The Heathrow Express is more expensive per mile than Concorde. Rip off Britain?) As well as giving the visitor plenty to do while there, it is incredibly clean. I didn't see one, single piece of litter. That includes the back streets and not just the main areas. In addition, I didn't once feel at all treatened wherever I was at whatever time. A big plus for any cit y. All in all, a great place to go for a city break. Take your warm clothes and a taste for Dime Bars and you’ll have a whale of a time.
So he's gone. The Great Redeemer has fallen from grace. Are we happy. Well I'm certainly not. Have we learnt nothing from history. Henry is just the latest in the long line of great welsh hopes to be shown the door by his incompetent, cowardly employers. The last coach not to resign or be sacked was John Dawes and he left in 1979. Even though Les Williams, the vice chairman of the WRU, Henry's employers, in a shocking display of bad management, publically stated earlier this week that Henry hadn't proved himself as a coach, if he cared to look at his facts he would realise that Henry has the best record of any Welsh coach since Tony Grey who was also sacked in 1988. So how Mr. Williams does that suggest he hasn't proved himself?? Perhaps Mr. Williams and his insulated collegues on the WRU ought to apply the same rules to themselves and ask each other if they've proved themselves as good managers of our national game. There would only be one route open to them, and that would be resignation. I for one am sick to death of one coach after another being made a scapegoat for the failings of the national structure and the ineptitude of the games administrators. Henry like his predeccessor Keven Bowring, constantly stated that the structure must change if the national teams performance was to improve. Like his predeccessor before him, he was ignored. Graham Henry was not a bad coach. The materials he had to work with were bad. Under him we beat France three times, twice in Paris, a feat Wales have not achieved since 1975. We beat England, now arguably the best team in the world. We beat the then World Champions South Africa for the first time in our history. We became the first northern hemisphere team to win a test series in Argentina. Does this strike you as the symptoms of bad coaching? Graham Henry has supplied my with my best Welsh rugby memories. I am not old enough to remember Edwards, John, B ennett and Gerald Davies, but I do remember Gibbs dancing past the english on his way to that try, Craig Quinell charging for French line in Paris with acres of space in front of him, Wyatt stretching for the line in Agentina, Mark Taylor splitting the South African defence to score the first ever try in the Millennium Stadium. These will be Henrys legacy. What will be the WRUs? So I'd like to take this opportunity to say goodbye to Graham Henry and thank you for a wonderful three and a half years. You took us on a great adventure. It was a blast.
The Atkins Diet or the new world religion as it seems to be. Is it worth it and does it work? This is a early review of the diet (I've been on it 3.5 days) and I shall update you when I've finished the two week introduction phase. As you are bound to already know, the diet virtually eliminates carbohydrates from your diet, claiming that without these your body will turn to burning fat instead. By training your body to limit the amount of carbohydates it needs in the future you will of course continue to burn fat and eventually learn to be satidfied with your new diet. There are certain foods that you seem to be able to force down yourself until you're sick. A refreshing change from the usual dieting business, or so you may think. The truth of the matter is no matter how tempting it seems to eat as many rashers of bacon as you want in one go, it's ceratinaly not as appealing or satisfying as eating as many apple and cinnimon pancakes as you can. As I've mentioned, I've only been on the diet for a few days and, admittedly, this is my first diet so I'm not as used to the feelings that go with them as many hardened dieters may be, but I'M STARVING!!!! The book clearly states that you will never go hungry on this diet. I may sue. However, I will tough it out for the two weeks and see what happens. I only need to lose about 10 pounds so it shouldn't be that long a process. Should it?? God I hope not. I seriously cannot envisage a time when I will not be hungry on the diet. I'm sure it works, the weight of public opinion certainly suggests it does, but as I may have mentioned before, I'M STARVING. I hope my body gets used to it soon. Apparently it's normal to feel this way for the first 4 or 5 days, so I should be through the worst of it. OK, I'm off to by a bottle of water. Got to fill myself up somehow. Do you think a MacDonalds burger will be allowed i f I through away the bun??? Until the update.... So, the diet is now confined to history. Was it worth it. Well I lost half a stone in 12 days, so I suppose so. I should, of course, have been on it for 14 days, but I went to Stockholm for a holiday on the 13th day and there was no way I'm not eating when i'm on hoilday!! (See my review on Stockholm). I have to say, that even though I lost the weight I wouldn't do it again. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do (I feel really sorry for those people constantly on diets). Even though the book stated that I would never be hungry on the diet, I was, but only for the first week. Once I'd got over that it became easier. However, once the hunger was gone, the boredom set in. By the second week you really do not feel like eating any of the food you're allowed. Perhaps that's why it works so well. There were times when I'd rather eat nothing than eat another egg or another sausage. Ant that, I believe, is where this diet fails. There is not much variety to the food you are allowed. Do not believe them when they say there is. It's a lie. You may well be allowed a lovely roast lamb for Sunday lunch, but without carrots, parsnips, gravy or potatoes, it's not the same. Having said that, I did lose weight, and I suppose that's the aim of a diet. I'll now watch what eat and hopefully I'll be able to keep myself at my ideal weight. Although I'm going to America in five weeks. Oh my god, "The International House of Pancakes" Two weeks of starvation down the drain. Those damn Americans!!
I watched the trailer and like everyone else it seems I was suckered into goign along for the longer version. And boy, did it seem long! For those of you out there who don't know, the plot revolves around rich & pretty boy David Aimes, played by an average Tom Cruise. He's the owner of a large, successful publishing house, has plenty of money and a stunning, casual girlfriend (Cameron Diaz). During a birthday celebration he meets Sophia (Penelope Cruz) and falls for her. After going back to her flat for the night, he emerges in the morning to find Diaz offering him a lift to talk about whats going on. He accepts, she drives of a bridge, kills herself and disfigures Cruise. He then limps about through the rest of the film shouting and feeling sorry for himself. I would reveal the ending but I don't want to dissapoint those of you that haven't seen it. You'll be dissapointed enough. Here the film starts to lose itself and the audience in a mismatch of flashbacks/current events/dreams and techno rubbish. It is very hard to work out whats happening and what is and is not real from here on in. If you enjoy sitting through a 2.5 hour long film in total confusion and absolute boredom, then this is the film for you. Cruise is average at best, relying on his now tiresome smile to get him through half the film and shouting to get him through the rest. Lucky for him and us, he spends some of the film behind a mask, thereby sparing us the agony of seeing a limited actor ruin all those supposedly dramatic scenes. Cruz is OK. Not really stretched but looks great. Diaz is without doubt the best thing on the screen. She acts her fellow stars out of the movie and also looks the best. The film is confusing, boring and ultimatley a massive let down. Weren't we always told in English never to finish a story with "and it was all a dream"? A poor effort from all involved. The only thing that kept me from falling asleep half way through, was the pleasent discovery that I had some popcorn left in the bottom of the bag. That perked me up no end!
I waited years for this film to be made. I then waited some more for it to be released. Now I can't wait for the second part to arrive!! I read the LOTR about seven years ago (Yep, all the way through) and was mightily impressed. I'd always beena fan of fantasy but this blew the competition away. OK, it can get a bit bogged down in parts (a bit less Elven poetry would've been good) but it's worthy of it's classic status. I thought the film was excellent due to the fact that it stayed true to my recollection of the book 99% of the time. The detail of the ending was changed slightly but the outcome is the same. The acting is generaly top class, with Ian McKellen playing Gandalf in superb form. I also think the guy who played Merry the Hobbit was brilliant. The only person seeming a bit wooden was Christopher Lee, which is odd. The scenery is awesome as are the computer generated and actual sets. The Elven village being particularly good. The film as a whole manages to capture the sense of dread and doom even better than the book I think. The scenes underground in the Mines of Moria and with the Balrog left me breathless. It is here that the film gets very dark. A brief review I know, but all you need to hear is GO SEE THIS FILM. Easily the best film of the year. Roll on The Two Towers.
My top ten Christmas wish list. Now that’s a tough one. Do I go for personal gain or wishes that will benefit society? Half and half maybe. I mean, it’ll be stupid to not include a few things for myself in there, wouldn’t it? Dear santa, I’ve been a very good boy this year so please find below my Christmas list 2001. 1) A new car. I know it’s a lot to ask, but my current car is a wreck and I’d like a bit of comfort for a while. PLEASE. Nothing fancy, just a nice Mercedes will do. 2) A safer airline industry or a personal flying sleigh. I’m not the most comfortable of flyers as it is and the recent troubles in the airline industry have done nothing to make me want to fly more. The trouble is there’s so many places in the world that I’d still like to visit and I only get 20 days holiday a year so travelling overland or sailing is out of the question for most places. A sleigh would be ideal, but failing that safe sky’s would be the next best thing. (Oh, and cheaper fares if you could manage it!) 3) A realisation by mortgage lenders and house builders that it’s not a good idea in the long run to constantly force house prices up until most people are forced out of the market or spiral into negative equity and repossession when the bubble bursts. Please try and deliver some sense to these people and those that think it’s a good idea to borrow 3 or 4 times their salary to buy the biggest house they can’t afford. 4) A good Welsh Rugby Team. I’ve supported Wales since I was a little boy. Unfortunately for me, that coincided with their start downwards to the depths of despair where they currently languish. I think I’ve suffered enough, don’t you? I’m not asking you to let us win the world cup (that’s probably beyond even you!) but just allow us to compete without embarrassing ourselves. 5) Security for my family. Financial and social if possible. It would be lovely to know that money was not a problem. I don’t want to be a millionaire, just to have enough to know that I can go on a nice holiday each year (see point 2) and live comfortably. Also, to be able to park my car (see point 1) safe in the knowledge that when I come back it will still be there would be nice. To be able to walk down the street without the possibility of being harassed but yobs would also be nice. I don’t think that’s much to ask, is it? 6) A personal handheld PC. I’m not sure why, but I just want one! 7) Defined seasons for the UK. I can’t the merging of our seasons in a damp drizzly blur of rain and wind. A warm sunny summer, lasting a bit longer than mid July to the end of August (mid may to mid September for example), followed by a mild autumn and then a crisp, cold winter. No more rain. Just snow in the winter please. 8) Better public transport and an improved road infrastructure in the UK. Please rescue me from traffic jams on motorways and gridlocked city centres. I’d even consider giving up my new car, if it meant a quicker, cleaner, healthier, easier transport system. 9) A system of government, both local and national, where more importance is placed upon social need (i.e. a better equipped and functioning health service and educational system) than the trappings of power (i.e. who’s got the biggest office or the most chauffeurs, or the best opportunities for feathering his own nest). In other words, give me politicians that actually care about improving society rather than what they can get out of it. This may mean getting rid of all the current parties and creating a new one instead. 10) A merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Free from arguments, disappointment and tragedy. Just a peaceful, relaxing Christmas. Oh, and a bit of snow if you could manage it! Thanks Santa.
Well, the wait is over. It's here at last. I went to see the film last night along withmost of the country it seems. Is it worth the hype? Yes I think it is, mostly. The look of the film is fantastic. The school is perfect and the sets are excellent. It's almost exactly as I had imagined it. The acting is also superb. Robbie Coltrane was born to play Hagrid it seems and I think the young girl who plays Hermione must be the living incarnation of the character. Both Ron and Harry are also great and Richard Harris as Dumbeldore shines through in all his scenes. The plot sticks very closely to the book and as such the film is two and a half hour long. However, the time flys by and it's over before you know it. All the major scenes are there but the detail is slightly lacking. But then again the film would have been five hours long if they wanted to put everything in it. I thought they could have made more of Snape and Draco Malfoy, but I'm sure they'll expand on these characters in the next few films. The effects are also very well done. The great hall, with its floating candles and pumpkins is very impressive. All in all, a very enjoyable film that was worth the wait. Hopefully the future films will build on the characters and the effects and they will turn into a top notch series of films.
I was looking forward to this film. The trailer was nicely dark and creepy. The hype machine was well oiled and the reviews were good. The best American horror movie for ten years they said. Well, I'm sorry, but that's not the case. It starts off well. Two irritating teenagers arguing in a clapped out old car while driving along a deserted road in the backwaters of America. The tension starts to build whena large, rusty truck appears behind them and scares them half to death while trying to get past. They later notice the truck in a run down old church yard, while it's owner looks to be dumping bodies down a pipe. Unfortunately for them, it notices that it's been spotted and jumps back in the truck for a spot of bumper cars, eventually driving the teenagers off the road into a field. Up until now there's nothing wrong with the movie. However, it's at this point that the film loses it's grip on things. Instead of racing away as far as possible and finding the police, the boy decides it's far more nobel to investigate the pipe. Now, I'm sorry, but any normal person would have been away from that place as fast as their clapped out old car could take them. They certainly wouldn't be sliding down the pipe to investigate. From there, the film gets worse and worse. The kids have an incredibly annoying habit of standing around watching everything, when all normal people would be running as fast as they could. In addition, when the wierd old man, turns out to be some kind of monster, the film loses it's sense of reality, which is what makes the best horror films scary in the first place. To imagine that there really is this headcase roaming around killing people and then dumping them in a hide away can be quite unnerving. Then to spoil it all by uncovering some weird creature from another world kind of lets the audience down. The best horror is built on fear of real situations going bad, which is what this film starts to do. When monsters and demons etc. are introduced halfway through a film, it slips into the realms of fantasy, rather than horror. The film would have been better had it decided from the word go what it wanted to be, instead of changing it's mind halfway through. All in all, an average horror film, which isn't scary and only provides one jumpy moment. As for being the best horror film of the past ten years. No way. Scream was superior as was Elm Street. (Although that's probably more than ten years old).