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I quite like Lorraine Kelly, but would not describe myself as a fan, so only bought this book when it was on offer. I knew that Lorraine had come from the Gorbals in Glasgow, an area that years ago had a reputation of great poverty although the old tenements have now been knocked down and the area is now completely changed. I especially enjoyed the start of the book which told of Lorraine's parents and grandparents who lived there. Although the area had a bad reputation it also had a reputation of a strong sense of community amongst those who lived there and I found it interesting to hear more about this. The book goes on to tell how the families were forced to move from the Gorbals, when the area was being cleared out and how this then went on to shape the rest of Lorraine's life. The book documents Lorraine's career well and her love for her family, but I have to say by the end of it I felt as though I knew a lot about her career and events that can be documented, but I didn't really know more about her as a person. This may be because it seems as though Lorraine has had a happy life and although she has covered some terrible events which she has found difficult, she has managed to maintain a positive outlook on life. If you are looking for this book to unveil some deep, dark secrets then you will be disappointed, for there are none.
As I had read Colleen's book I was interested to hear her sister's story. Prior to reading Colleen's autobiography I had been unaware of the allegations of abuse made by Anne, though had been aware that Tommy Nolan (their father) had been a heavy drinker. I felt that this book must have been painful for Anne to write as it does very much focus on the abuse she suffered as a child. This has very much affected her life since. Unlike Colleen's book, I did not feel the same sense of family from Anne. I do not know if this is because she spent a long period of time on her own in hospital as a child, although her sister Maureen was also there for a while, indeed the family left her in hospital in Ireland when they moved to England and I am sure this must have caused a deep sense of isolation. She does speak of finding it difficult rejoining the family again and it was following this the abuse began. It was interesting to hear her recollections of the early career of the Nolan family as they were established performers when Colleen was born. I cannot begin to understand some of the decisions she made, such as leaving her own daughters in her father's care, albeit her mother was supposed to be looking after them, a decision she cannot understand herself now. You get the feeling that she needed to write this book as she had not told of the abuse for many years and that this is her way of trying to deal with it. I do hope it has helped her move on and that she will now find the happiness and contentment that I felt she has been missing.
I have enjoyed watching Coleen over the years and was looked forward to hearing her story in her words. It was fascinating to hear Coleen's view of her sisters careers prior to her joining them and to realise that she really did not have a lot of choice in her becoming part of the group due to missing so much school as the priority in her family was to play the clubs etc and earn a living. I thought it was interesting to hear more on her fear of arguments, as she has spoken of on 'Loose Women', as she describes very well her father's drinking and how it changed his personality and the terror she felt waiting for him to come home. It was touching also to hear that despite this, and the allegations of abuse by her sister Anne, that she loved her father very much but she did struggle with guilt about loving him knowing he was not perfect. There is a lot in the book about Shane Ritchie, her first husband and the father of her sons. I thought that she achieved a good balance of speaking about the good and bad times, without being too bitter towards him, in fact she was very honest about her behaviour during their time together. I did feel that this book will have allowed her to leave this relationship in the past once and for all. It is lovely to hear her speak of finding so much happiness with her present husband Ray Fensom and their daughter Ciara. The book takes her life right up until the end of 'Dancing on Ice' and gives an insight why she kept on despite her injuries. I thought this was a well written, honest account of her life. Colleen makes no attempt to paint herself perfect and admits to making mistakes. It is clear how important family is to her and how much she values family, her career just seems to have happened by accident.
I have to say I normally don't choose to read short stories (a throw back to school days) as I prefer something with a bit more depth that allows a story to develop, but as this book was priced at only £1.99 I decided to give it a go. I am so glad I did as I really enjoyed it. I thought that Sherrie did a great job as I did feel that I got to know the main character, Dolly Ramsden, very well. The story takes her from childhood to adulthood. The book starts pre war when Dolly is six and is told through her eyes and from her perspective. It tells of her love for her parents and how the war causes the family to change through events out of her control and how she struggles to cope with these changes, leading to a very traumatic event. Although this is a short story, I found it covered Dolly's story through the years without feeling that anything was missed out. I found her descriptions very vivid and was very impressed how she achieved this in a short story. Sherrie wrote this book as part of a television programme 'Murder Most Famous', where the challenge was to write a short story that involved a murder. I did not watch this programme, but would really like to now to see how this story evolved. I was really impressed with Sherrie's writing style and thought she captured emotions very well - perhaps this is due to her own difficult relationships. I would very much like to see some more of her work in the future.
This was one of the first Catherine Cookson books to be turned in to a series and was filmed in 1979. There are many actors who have gone on to have sucessful careers since - John Duttine, Juliet Stevenson, Anne Reid and Caroline Blakiston to name a few. This series combines all the Mallen books - The Mallen Streak, The Mallen Girl and The Mallen Litter, but is not totally faithful to the books. However it is still an enjoyable series. It does perhaps have a slightly dated feel to the filming, as was acceptable to be screened then was much more reserved than today and the books are a lot more graphic than the series. There are 4 DVD's - The Mallen Streak, The Mallen Girls, The Mallen Secret and The Mallen Curse. The central characters are the Mallen family, the Radlet family and Anna Brigmore, the Mallen sisters governess. The story starts with Thomas Mallen, a man who has the infamous Mallen streak - a patch of white in his black hair. He is the local squire and has a reputation for wine and women and there are many women who have born children (against their will) with the Mallen streak, one such child is Donald Radlet. The Mallen streak a constant, painful, reminder to his parents of who fathered him coupled with the fact he is so different to his brother Matthew. Thomas Mallen lives with his two neices, Constance and Barbara, and their staff in a large manor house and they have a privilaged lifestyle, however due to his womanising and drinking their fortunes change leading to tragic events and the intwining of the Mallen and Radlet for generations to come.
I am not a huge Sandra Bullock fan, but saw a trailer for this film and thought it looked interesting and not one that was too sugary sweet. It certainly wasn't a sugary sweet film, but a film that required concentration. This is not a film that you can dip in and out of, if you missed a few minutes you would totally lose the plot. As the title suggests it is about a premonition. Sandra plays a woman who wakes up to find her husband is dead, then wakes up again to find he is alive. The film then continues in this way with events happening, then not happening and it can get a little confusing to keep up with. However by the climax of the film I was quite in to the story and eager to see if it ended as I thought. This is not a feelgood film, but will draw you in if you have kept up with it. I actually enjoyed her performance in this film than some of her previous films.
I ordered this cross stitch through www.sewandso.co.uk, which I have always found to be a very good website with competitive pricing. At present this kit costs around £42 and is beautiful on it's own, but works well hung alongside Lanarte's Lady with the Lilac Flowers. This comes as a kit which includes the fabric, threads and pattern. As with the Lady kit the fabric used is also cream linen which has a beige wash to provide a slightly more interesting background. The threads used are DMC and are in similar colours to the Lady kit. The size of this cross stitch is 39 x 49cm so this is a larger project to work on. I do find the use of a magnifier essential to stitch on linen but linen fabric gives a much better finish than canvas and this picture would be ruined on canvas. I would urge anyone to persevere with linen as once you are used to it, you will never go back to canvas. As with the Lady this is stiched with a single thread as a pose to two threads and this gives a lovely delicate and subtle finish to the piece. I stitched the Lady first and then the Bride, and have to say I loved sewing this project. It is by far my favourite cross stich I have done. The expression that has been captured in her eyes in amazing and I felt very proud of myself when I had finished as you would not believe that this picture was made of a series of little crosses.
I ordered this cross stitch through www.sewandso.co.uk, which I have always found to be a very good website with competitive pricing. This comes as a kit which includes the fabric, threads and pattern. The fabric used is cream linen which has a beige wash to provide a slightly more interesting background. The threads used are DMC. The size of this cross stitch is 20 x 30cm, so is not too big a project. As this is stitched on to linen, I would say it is essential to have a magnifier as linen takes a bit longer to 'get your eye in to', but does provide a far superior finished product. I think once you are used to stitching on linen you will not go back to canvas, as it feels very hard to touch and does not provide the same quality. The design is a Sara Moon one and the kit is by Lanarte and is one of their Romantic time collection. This is a slightly different cross stitch project as it is stiched with a single thread which is unusual as the norm is two threads and the single thread gives a lovely delicate and subtle finish to the piece. The colours are also quite subtle due to the single thread and I have to say that has been one of my favourite things to stitch as the finished article is beautiful.
We stayed here as we were going to a show at the Manchester Evening News Arena and booked the hotel due to it's central location. The location could not have been better with only a 5-10 minute walk to the Arena and the Printworks. The main shops are just accross the road and the Arndale is a 2 minute walk. The hotel only has valet parking which you are charged for, although there is an NCP beside the hotel. Check in was a little slow, but we were given a room on a high floor as we requested and the receptionist was very friendly and helpful with directions etc. Our room was large with two king size beds as there were three people staying in the room (the third adult incurs a £20 charge), a fridge, TV,a reasonable sized bathroom and a small sitting area with sofa and chairs. There was also an iron and ironing board provided. We felt it was a good sized room that was well equipped. The beds were very comfortable, but as the top half of one wall was made up of windows the room became extremely hot as soon as the sun rose. The air conditioning did not seem to be very effecient and this did make the room temperature quite uncomfortable by morning. Breakfast was the usual buffet style, not a massive choice but perfectly adequate. However breakfast was a little chaotic as they did not seem to have the most effecient staff and there tended to be queues waiting to be seated while there were tables waiting to be cleared. They could really have done with a larger area. The bar was pleasant to sit in with some comfortable sofas etc. It was not too busy when we were there, although it would not take too many people to make it so. Overall we thought the location was excellent and the staff friendly and would not rule out staying here again although I would request a fan unless it was winter.
Having decided last minute to stay an extra night in the area, we picked this hotel on spec having asked for rates at several other hotels. We were offered a Fallsview 2 room whirlpool suite here inclusive of breakfast with valet parking and welcome reception with free drink for around the same rate as some hotels wanted for just a room. The valet staff were very efficient, the reception was large and again the staff were friendly and helpful. We were escorted to our suite and the porter made sure we were happy with everything before he left, this was one of the best welcomes we have had. The suite was fantastic, on entering there was a sitting area with TV, fridge, microwave, sink, coffee maker, the bathroom had a large whirlpool bath and a shower, the bedroom area had a superking bed, another TV and a table and chairs in front of a floor to ceiling window that had the most amazing view of the (the Canadian horseshoe) falls. We were on a high floor so really did have a birdseye view. We could not fault a thing in the room and had plenty of space. I believe the sofa converts to a bed so this would be great for families. We had been impressed by the hotel we had stayed in the previous two nights but this was even better. The welcome drink was a choice of several specified drinks and there were also snacks available. Breakfast was a buffet style with a huge choice, again we had no complaints. There is also a swimming pool but we did not use this. I would highly recommend this hotel, as we thought it provided good value for the amount of space and comfort in the suite. It wasn't a lot more than other hotels were charging for smaller rooms with no view, and lets face it if you come here you want to see the falls. This would be excellent for families, honeymooners or just those on holiday.
We booked this hotel online having found a two night deal for a whirlpool suite inclusive of breakfast and a $50 credit towards a meal in their steakhouse. Having found breakfast expensive in the hotel we stayed at in Toronto we felt this would be a good rate. We were also unable to book this rate by telephone, so if you are planning a stay in this area I would recommend checking the internet for deals. As this was our first trip here we pulled up at the first Sheraton hotel we saw as we arrived at Niagra Falls. The car park attendents immediately asked if we were at the correct Sheraton, there are two in the area - The Sheraton Fallsview and Sheraton on the Falls, we of course had arrived at the wrong one which seems to be a common mistake. They are only 5 minutes apart. Sheraton on the Falls is in the older, more touristy area and overlooks the smaller American falls, Sheraton Fallsview is in the newer, slightly more upmarket area and overlooks the Canadian falls (the horseshoe falls). The Fallsview suited us better, the other was set in an area that felt a bit like Blackpool which was ideal if you wanted to be in thick of it all. We arrived at the hotel, check in was quick with a large reception area. The staff were very helpful with any questions regarding the area etc. We were impressed with our room which was a good size and had a superking bed, fridge, coffee maker, private terrace, a large whirlpool bath, shower, and a great view of the falls. We could not fault the room and were very impressed with everything in the room and the view that we had. We ate in the restaurant on our first night as we had our $50 credit, however the restaurant was expensive and I was not overly impressed with my meal for the cost, although my husband enjoyed his. Once we explored the area we realised there was a huge choice of restaurants and they were much better value than the restaurant, this was obviously why you get the credit to encourage trade in their restaurant. Breakfast was excellent, a large buffet style with plenty of choice and very good service so we had no complaints there. This was a good hotel and we had a lovely stay. We were not disturbed by any noise and would recommend this hotel. However we decided to stay an extra night and changed hotels and stayed at the Embassy suites closeby and found them even better, so I would recommend shopping around for a good deal as there are a lot of hotels in this area.
We stayed at this hotel pre and post cruise. I booked the hotel through the internet having searched serveral providers of accomodation for our pre cruise stay and got a b&b rate, however I was only able to get a room only rate for our post cruise stay which I booked directly with the hotel as I was unable to source a cheaper rate on the internet. As it turned out we were quite glad as the breakfast (a continentaly style) was not really to our taste and it was easy to go out and get breakfast at a reasonable cost close by. The hotel is located a street away from Las Ramblas and we found the location excellent, close enough to the main areas but quiet enough not to be disturbed by noise. Check in was very quick, the staff, who spoke excellent English, were exceptionally helpful and storing lugage was no problem if you arrived early. The rooms were a good size with large, comfortable beds and furnished in a very modern style. The bathrooms were a good size and well equipped with toiletries, hairdryers, etc. They say the rooms are soundproofed and we were not disturbed by any noise at all. Our room was an executive (their basic) and we had no complaints with it at all. There is a swimming pool but we did not use it as we were too busy out exploring. The toilets etc in the public areas were immaculate. We had no complaints with this hotel and would certainly use it again if staying in Barcelona. The staff could not have been more helpful which was great if you dont speak the language and are unfamiliar with your surroundings.
We stayed at this hotel to celebrate a special anniversary and had decided to push the boat out a bit. We were not disappointed. I had booked through Virgin Holidays, but emailed the hotel direct to request a room overlooking the golf course (my husband's choice) as it was our anniversary. When we arrived we were upgraded from a resort room (their basic) to a panoromic room, basically it is the same sized room but the panoramic has a wall to wall, floor to ceiling window, as we were on a high floor the view was fantastic. There were plenty of high speed lifts which was great as there are about 2000 rooms. The reception is filled with around 25000 flowers and provides a riot of colour. We were checked in very quickly and found all the staff helpful and friendly. The room was a good size (640 square feet) with a super kingsize bed, sofa, table and chairs, flatscreen tv, remote control curtains, Egyptian cotton linen, a huge bathroom with tv, shower, large bath and plenty of toiletries. you would have no real need to upgrade the room as it was very comfortable with plenty of space. We heard no noise at all from the corridor or adjoining rooms. Unusually for Vegas, the room did have a mini bar and snacks, but they were expensive. The room service menu was large but again was expensive - you could get a breakfast to your room for $400, it did include champagne and caviar! There were cheaper options available. Every night your room would be made ready for your return with music and lights on low, curtains closed, ice bucket filled up and chocolate by your bed. If you had so much as dried your hand on a towel since they had been in to service your room earlier in the day, the towels were replaced. This is a hotel that is caters for those with a large amount of spending money. A round of golf on their course was $500 and was only available to residents. The hotel also includes a small mall with shops such as Louis Vuitton, amongst others. One jewelers would only admit people by invitation. There was also a Ferrari showroom and garage in the hotel. There is no 'theme' to this hotel other than luxury. However if you just want to experience a bit of luxury it is possible to stay here without spending a fortune. The restaurants were good and there are a choice of places to eat varying from snacks and buffet to fine dining. It is more expensive than eating in many of the other hotels in Vegas, but was very good quality with high standards of decor and service. Bear in mind you can eat anywhere in Vegas, you do not have to eat where you stay and half the fun is trying out as many different places as you can. I would recommend buying bottles of water and snacks for your room outwith the hotel and taking them back with you as it saves a fortune. The hotel also has spa facitilities, which we did not use, there is also a lovely large pool area with plenty of loungers and you can rent a private cabana if you wish. Location wise this hotel was great for the Fashion Mall and we prefered the location of this hotel with regard to its situation on the Strip than the Luxor where we stayed previously. If you want to push the boat out I would highly recommend this hotel, but if you are on a budget this is not the one to chose. We had a lovely stay and would stay here again, though it may be worth checking out some of the other hotels which will be cheaper and paying to upgrade your room in those if you want to keep costs down.
I recently saw this play and was bitterly disappointed in it. The stars were Louise Jamieson and Janet Dibley, both of whom I have watched and enjoyed on televison. The basic outline of the story was two women who had gone on a weekend away to see a Daniel O'Donnel concert (this did set of warning bells as I am definately not a fan)and was billed as an 'hilarious girls night out' and stated it akin to 'Women Behaving Badly'. There were some laughs in this play, more so in the first half, but in no way could it have been described as hilarious. The accents (Irish) were slightly dodgy but the acting was okay. There are only the two girls and one man on stage, I could not find out his name as I did not waste money on a programme and it does not seem to be listed anywhere. One of the female characters was single, her husband having run off with a much younger woman and the other was still married to her husband. The male character played a room service attendant who in the second half could then transform in to anyone they wanted to talk to about their issues and resentments. The play ended up being more about letting everyone know that once you were female and over forty, you were going to be in no way attractive to the opposite sex and if a man was with you he didn't really want to be. It felt as though it was written by someone who was full of bitterness and resentment towards men, particularly in the second half. In fact the play felt almost as though two seperate people had written each half, as it had a very disjointed feel to it as if they could not decide quite what it was supposed to be. I also felt sorry for a lot of the older women in the audience who had perhaps thought it had something to do with Daniel O'Donnel, which it didn't really, as there was quite a lot of strong language which I don't think they would have expected. I was with several other friends and nobody enjoyed the play, and you could hear everyone muttering on the way out that it had not been at all what they expected. I really enjoy live theatre, but would give this show a miss.
This is the fourth novel in the Rhanna series written by Christine Marion Fraser. The novels in the series are as follows - Rhanna Rhanna at War Children of Rhanna Return to Rhanna Song of Rhanna Storm over Rhanna Stranger on Rhanna A Rhanna Mystery Rhanna is a fictional Scottish island, and these books follow the story of the islanders who live here. Throughout the series we meet new characters and well as catch up with those we have become familiar with in the past. These stories are very well written and quickly have the reader swept along, on one page you will be crying with laughter and the next you are crying with sorrow. As you become more familiar with the characters you enjoy seeing how their lives are entwined, and as they are all based in as small location any happening affects them all. The main families in the series are the Mackenzies and McLachlans and they are linked through friendship and marriage. We have followed them through the previous 3 novels and in this novel Shona Mackenzie and Niall McLachlan are now married with a daughter and are returning to live on Rhanna close to their families, a time that should be blissfully happy, and is until tragedy strikes. The first Rhanna book begins with the birth of Shona as she was delivered by Niall's father, the local doctor and we have followed the islanders over the last 37 years and have come through many events including a war with them. I would urge anyone who was thinking of reading this book to buy the previous books first as they work far better when you have built up relationships with the characters and see what has formed them over the years. I would have to say this is one of the best series of books I have every read and would highly recommend them to anyone who enjoys sagas.