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I have stayed in this hotel numerous times for work. Our office is based in Trafford Park, but I prefer staying in the city centre to have a better choice of establishments for dinner.
The hotel is ideally located next to Oxford Road train station. It's not the main station in Manchester, but a lot of lines do run through this station. It's also not far at all from Picadily so you can walk if you'd like, if not then it's a short taxi ride or jump on the free city centre bus.
It's fairly new, so I find all of the rooms clean and spacious. Naturally it's a budget hotel, so you can't expect 5 stay, but it's definitely nicer than a lot of hotels I have had the pleasure of staying in. There's a large TV, double bed, sofa bed, tea/coffee facilities and a nice, new, fresh bathroom.
Due to being there from work, I often order takeaway for convenience. The staff have always been lovely and offered me plates/cutlery for the food. The same staff have always been more than pleasant during check in/out.
People seem to know about this album (and the musical) for 2 reasons. They are either (1) a fan of Trey Parker and Matt Stone (and their comedy) or (2) they have heard about it because of the hype and awards it's received.
If your reason is 1, you will not be disappointed. If your reason is 2, you may be a little offended when watching it. This was my experience when we went to experience the musical in London. It was genuinely funny, witty and comes very close to crossing 'the line' on several occasions. Naturally this is subjective, and I think other people's lines were crossed from the first song.
The musical itself adds a lot of context to the songs on the album and naturally there is a fair bit of dialogue. In saying that, the songs are genuinely hilarious. Incredibly well written and performed flawlessly. I found the humour very similar to South Park, not so much swearing and fart jokes, but the same intelligent observations on the world we live in.
If you have been to see the musical, get the CD. It's a fantastic reminder of the great performance. If you don't go to see the musical, I'd still recommend the CD. It's genuinely hilarious. Oh, and it's also available on Spotify if you want to check it out there!
I purchased this camera before a snowboarding holiday to Austria. I carried out a bit of research, but it was a bit of a rushed decision as I was leaving the next day. I had a choice between this model, or a slightly more expensive model that captured in HD. The HD model was more expensive, had only a 4GB hard drive and used Sony's proprietry memory stick duo cards - this is why I didn't buy it.
The camera looks good and feels sturdy. I have dropped it a couple of times and despite part of the casing sliding out, the camera still operates perfectly. There were a couple of main selling points - firstly the 80GB hard drive. Sony claim this will record 61 hours on standard definition settings - I used it on high quality and I haven't run out of space. The second main selling point is the 60x optical zoom (2000x digital). I don't know a massive amount about cameras, but I know 60x *optical* zoom is good, especially for a small camera.
Basic operations are relatively simple - i.e. start/stop record, zoom, etc. They are all intuitive. The touch screen interface is also easy to use, although the menus within here can be a little confusing. The video quality is very good - it worked well when we were filming either drinking or snowboarding. It can be let down a little bit in low light, but it's not terrible.
I didn't realise initially, but it's possible to add lenses to this camera. They are more of a conversion, but they screw into the plastic cover just before the lense. I purchased a wide angle and a fish eye lense - both of which add a new angle to shooting videos.
Firstly it's not HD, so although the video quality is good - it's not that good. I briefly mentioned the touch screen menus, this is where you change the format of the recording. I've done this several times and if I went back to it right now, I don't think I could find it first time. Saying this, the basic operations are very easy. *This is an addition, something I meant to include in the first instance. The still picture quality is really, really not great. So although the video is very good, I'd choose a phone over this for taking still pictures!*
The benfits definitely outweigh the negatives, of which there are only a couple. It's a nice camera that was very reasonably priced, shoots good video and does exactly as you would expect it to do. The 80GB hard drive is a big bonus as you don't have to fork out large amounts on Sonys own memory stick format and you also don't run the risk of running out of memory as your friend is about to ski into a tree..
I purchased this TV at the start of the year - January 2010 and picked it up for £309.94. As always, I look out for a bargain and carried out quite a bit of research before jumping in and buying one.
LCD TVs have come down in price and this was one of the cheapest models of the big brands I could find. It's available from several online retailers but found Amazon to be the best value.
Coming out of the box the TV is aesthetically very pleasing. It has a nice finish and good quality build, it doesn't feel flimsy or cheap. It comes with an instruction manual, a stand, remote (with batteries) and (what appears to be) a special cloth for wiping down the surfaces.
Plugging the TV in you are taken through a quick start menu. This sets everything up from the user language to scanning for channels. It was very simple to use and was up and running within a matter of minutes. The TV has a built in digital receiver, so there is no need for an additional freeview box. The flat we were in at the time required a powered booster to pick up a signal with the existing freeview box we had, this did not require this and picked up a great signal from the beginning.
Some people may argue that it's not 1080p so it's not real HD, but in reality on a 32 inch TV I've found picture quality to be excellent. I use it primarily for watching freeview and playing XBox 360. Initially, I used the SCART lead to connect the XBox - after switching to HDMI there was a massive improvement.
The remote is intuitive and has all the features you would expect of a modern TV. There was one niggle I had when we moved house and I wanted to do a full reset, this proved near on impossible as demanded a password I couldn't locate! Eventually I just re-tuned the channels, annoying at the time but in retrospect not a big issue!
Overall it's a really good value TV. For my use, 32 inch is perfect and despite not being 1080p it's still excellent quality - especially for the price.
I visited St Anton in March of this year (2010). It was booked through Ski World and was my 5th snow holiday abroad. I personally snowboard and have a preference towards freestyle, but in really I'm happy riding anything as long as there's snow. This resort doesn't have much of an emphasis on freestyle, there is one park on the Rendl section of the mountain with some medium to large kickers and a few rails with a baby beginner park to the side. Given the terrain the mountain has to offer, it's understandable why there isn't much emphasis on park. Along with the terrain, the 'apres ski' is probably worth as much of a mention - I don't think I've ever drank so much on a ski holiday before.
The hill is very much not geared towards beginners. We had quite a mixed group - from people who had never been on a pair of skis or a snowboard, to people who have done many a season and everything inbetween. The beginners booked lessons with the local ski school and were very praising of their instructor. Given the terrain is so varied, there are areas for beginners...but not as much as there is for advanced riders.
We booked a guide for three days of the trip, something which if you are heading to this resort I couldn't recommend more. The pisted areas are vast and challenging, but there are some real hidden gems when you duck under the boundary rope. Some of the riding was tough going with even the most experienced of our group struggling at times - but the guide was excellent and always pushed our ability without taking us too far. Telling us about the avalanche he had been caught in the week before did put us slightly on edge...
On that note, St Anton gets a lot of snow and because of the advanced terrain avalanches are common. A little bit of research will show you how many people die here each year due to this, that said...as long as you're sensible you should be safe!
If you search YouTube for St Anton night life, you'll see why the place has a reputation. The Mooserwirt and Krazy Kangaruh are the two venues for partying on the mountain. Stop off on your way down and be prepared to see people dancing on tables and generally having a really good time. We favoured the Mooserwirt and the atmosphere in here is just beyond words. It actually gets so busy that making it to the bar is a more difficult mission than a day of skiing. So instead they have waitors with *massive* trays, usually several on top of each other, filled with drinks. They make their way through the crowd to sell beer or jagerbombs to whoever is waiting.
After these clubs close and you make your way into town there is no shortage to a party. The Funky Chicken, Bar Cuba, BoBos and Kandahar were some of our favourites. Bar Anton is a good place to stop off for a drink at the bottom of the piste, as is Base Camp.
The holiday was booked through Ski World. I have never been on a holiday with them but everything ran smoothly. 16 of us in one chalet with two lovely chaley hosts who joined in with some drinking games and socialising. The food was good and we had as much free wine with dinner as we liked. Connections and flights all ran smoothly without a problem!
I purchased a couple of these speakers recently from Play.com for £13.99 each (the same price they're currently advertising them from Amazon for). Every review was sterling and word of mouth had sold it to me. I opted to purchase two of them, they can be infintely 'daisy chained' (i.e. one plugs into the next and into the next and into the next, and so on) but to be entirely honest - 1 speaker is has more volume and is of better quality than the majority of other portable speakers I've used. And you wwill be surprised given the size and the price. Several people have said it is tennis ball sized, in reality it is quite a bit smaller than this making them super compact and ideal for travelling with. Each speaker has a really nice finish, it doesn't feel cheap or poorly made. They also come with a little black pouch for storage and a charging cable which connects to a USB port. Handily, this USB port also has a jack connection - so you can use the speakers as they charge. One of my favourite parts of the design is the fact the headphone jack and lead both slot nicely into the base keeping everything neat and tidy, it's this attention to detail that I like!
They have won several design awards, which is understandable as all in it is a very good, (somewhat) sexy little speaker for a very reasonable price that certainly packs a punch.
As with so many things that I don't *need* but would just like, the main thing I go on is price - which is why I purchased this webcam. A bit of research led me to the VX-1000 as it was a good quality camera at a very reasonable price. The main reason I bought it was for use with Skype, but as with most webcams it will work with near enough any application - I only have experience of using it on MSN and Skype.
The camera feels as if it is good quality, I've had it for a while now and even being slung about in my laptop case it's survived the abuse. It sits sturdily on top of my monitor thanks to a little hook that detaches from the bottom. The circular lens rotates which acts as a focus adjustment, this is pretty handy. It has a built in microphone which was a big bonus, this works relatively well and I have used it for making regular telephone calls using skype as well.
It comes with software which you don't have to install, basic users may automatically do this. It doesn't have any real impact, the software gives you the option to have some 'effects' when using your camera with MSN. When I say effects, I mean you can have a cartoon spider dropping down or cartoon snow falling - I'm sure it would be useful somehow!
The video quality itself is very good. This is my second webcam and it's worlds better than my last, but I think it was bought in the 1980's. Overall it performs well and does the job, all at a very reasonable price!
The one and only gripe I have, is that when the webcam is on an application is started which runs in the system tray. If for any reason skype or MSN freezes and you have to close it, the application thinks the webcam is still running. The only way to resolve this is to restart your PC! Not a major issue, but it can be frustrating.
The Inbetweeners is a comedy show which follows 4 students through the highs and lows of every day life. The show is aired on E4 and to date there have been two seasons.
My honest opinion is that this show is hilarious. The strange and awkward situations they find themselves in - which range from Will starting a new school to Simon swapping shoes with a tramp - are for some reason strangely close to home. I'm sure any person can think back to their time at school and think of the ludicrous situations you found yourself in. This show takes these scenarios and makes them about 3 or 4 times as embarrassing and documents it all.
On the whole, the comedy is very well written. An good balance of obvious in your face jokes and the less easy to spot ones that require a bit of attention. On the same note, the humour varies from immature 'your mum' type jokes to intellectual humour, which gives the show a very varied content.
The second season seemed to push the boat a bit further and came close to the edge several times, but still in an excellently funny way. I would not hesitate to recommend this to anyone, although it certainly is tailored towards a particular audience - one that doesn't cringe too easily. It very well may make you reminisce about some of the silly situations you got yourself into in school.
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones are, in my opinion, one of the quintessential ska punk bands of our generation. Forming in 1983 they certainly have experience in their field and are dubbed as the creators of the 'ska-core' genre. Pay attention was released in 2000 and to this day is still one of my favourite albums of all time.
This album contains the classic Bosstones traits - blasting punchy horns, maniac drumming and Dicky Barretts strong, melodic vocals. Track by track this album is a winner with it's upbeat and danceable songs only slowing down for track number 6 - High School Dance (a post-columbine commentary of teens).
The strongest tracks on the album include Let me Be, She Just Happened and Where You Come From - but as with all Bosstones album, it consists of one strong track after another. Although a happy and upbeat album, it is clear the thought and effort that has been put into this album along with Dicky's attention to the lyrics.
Ska is sadly not as popular as it used to be, but bands such as the Mighty Mighty Bosstones are adding a modern twist which is keeping it somewhat in the limelight.
Jaffa cakes seem like an odd thing to review as most member of the public have probably eaten at least one at some point! But as this is a review site meant for an honest opinion, here it goes!
Jaffa Cakes are definitely one of my favourite biscuits/cakes. Of course there is the age old debate of which they are and apparently it matters for tax reasons but in tasty terms I think we can forget about the argument. The sweet tangy orange centre compliments the chocolate and sponge so well. This is when eating them conventionally of course, whereas I prefer to eat everything else and leave the orange centre until the end!
They are a classic snack and as such there are numerous different and cheaper varieties in newsagents and super markets. I tend to stick with McVities as they are classic and you know you will get what you pay for.
I recently sampled the Strawberry variety of Jaffa Cakes - of course with foodstuffs it is hard to review, as each person as their own personal taste. I liked the strawberry version but honestly found them no match to the classic orange. They are the same biscuit/cake but with a strawberry jelly centre - this is the only change. I think I'll stick to the classic variety.
I bought these headphones for two reasons: 1) The jack connector was designed to fit into the first iPhone (2G) which for some strange (Apple) reason was recessed slightly as to not accommodate the majority of headphones and 2) They were cheap (£9.99 on play.com at the time, now slightly more expensive). Skullcandy seem to have recently become infintely more popular with their marketing being geared towards the alternative/extreme sports niche - something which is backed up by their lifetime guarantee.
The guarantee is something I want to mention because it's not something I think I've seen many (or any) company offer. If the product becomes defective, they will be replaced - simple and standard. If the product 'fails due to aggressive listening - that is, if Skullcandy products fail or break due to a crazy crash on the mountain or a violent head-banging session' they will still provide you with a voucher good for 50% off anything in their online store. This is something which impressed me!
On to the headphones. They perform fantastically in my opinion. They create a very good seal with your ear allowing minimal noise in or out - if you're standing next to a motorway you'll still hear the cars, but if you're sitting next to someone and they speak there's a good chance you won't hear them...that's with no music on! The quality is excellent and both low and high volumes with responsive bass and no crackling at all.
They are very aesthetically please and come in a variety of colours - from plain black to a funky rasta style. They feel of good quality, not cheap like some headphones can. There is a handy in line volume control which is particularly handy as means you don't need to dig into your pockets to alter the volume. They come with a handly little plastic case and 3 different sizes of rubber 'bud' for different ear sizes.
Overall I'd thoroughly recommend them as they sound excellent for the price and with a lifetime warranty (even if you break them landing on your head) you'll still get something back!
I stayed at the Whittlebury Hall with my girlfriend when I took her rally driving for her birthday. If you are researching this hotel and planning to go to Silverstone, I don't think there is a hotel closer. We were attending the rally school which was just around the corner.
I had booked a package which included 2 nights stay, breakfast and dinner on both days and the 'Heat and Ice' experience at the spa. I can't remember how much it cost me then, but at the moment they are offering this package for £65 per person per night - i.e. £260.
Upon arriving, the hotel is very grand and beautiful. You'll see this from any pictures you see online. We arrived early as the heat and ice experience was on the day of arrival - many reviews had mentioned long check in queues (which we did note later on) but when we arrived there was no queue, we were greeted by a very friendly young lady who took our bags, offered us a carry bag for our swimgear and pointed us in the direction of the spa.
The heat and ice experience wasn't anything exciting, but it allowed full use of the facilities. This included several 'experience' rooms - such as a steam room with salts added and what appeared to be menthol in another. Being a guy I can't get excited about a spa, but it was very relaxing and my girlfriend loved it. We spend time relaxing and then decided to head up to our room.
The rooms were very traditional, this is an overall feel the hotel gives. It was a nice room with everything you'd expect - coffee/tea, a TV, robes, Molton Brown soaps/shampoo, etc. The bed was a little too hard for me, but overall the roooms were very nice if a little dated.
The food was very good, although one night it seemed as if it had been cooked and reheated in a microwave. The service was better than I expected, it almost felt as if we were treated like royalty. The waitress seemed very apologetic when she came over to top up our wine or ask if everything was OK. It's nice to have good service, but it can be taken a little far - although I'm sure there are some people for whom good service would not be enough and they would expect the best. We were there because it was a good deal!
I have read lots of varying reviews for this place and as with everything, peoples experiences will be unique to their visit. I can honestly say that I cannot fault the establishment. We did see the long check in queues and perhaps if we had to wait in it this would be a different review but everyone we dealt with was more than helpful and had a smile on their face. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay there and I would not hesitate in booking again!
(To add: We went for a drink in the bar one night before dinner and they have free nuts on the tables, excellent addition!)
My friend and I visited Budapest during a trip around Europe after we finished university. We hadn't planned on going there, it was a spur of the moment decision and one I was glad of as I can honestly say it's one of the nicest, friendliest and most fun cities I've ever visited.
We arrived by train, with the main station being in the centre with easy links to public transport. The station was very busy and we were target by a lot of people trying to coax us to stay at their hostel with offers of free transport and such, this made us a little uneasy and had read (as common sense would dictate) to avoid these people.
Our hostel was called the 'Backpack Guesthouse' which was a short ride on the tram. As it was a hostel, the accommodation was very basic. It was a very safe and friendly place with each room being a different theme - we were in the 'water' room which was painted with fish! A bit quirky, but good fun. They have a garden with hammocks and a nice shaded area which coupled with the cheap beer they sold and the hot sun - luxury!
Budapest is a very historic city with a lot to do. As we're quite young, we managed to party quite hard when we were there. There are plenty of bars and nightclubs that were all very friends and very (very) cheap - both the entry and the drinks. There is a variety of music played at these venues and due to the warm weather many of them were outside which is a nice difference from the UK.
I would recommend trying to find a 'City Spy' map if you can when you get there, we received these from the hostel. It has a very large list of things to do in the city, all mapped out and it even includes some useful phrases for getting by there! These include asking there the hospital is and can I have another beer please. One of the activities you cannot miss out on is the thermal baths. These seem to be a very integral part of Hungarian life which may contribute to why everyone is so chilled out and friendly. We went to the Szecheny baths in the middle of a large park, lovely :)
I would thoroughly recommend visiting this city, it is lovely, exciting with lots to do and best of all - it's cheap!
Play.com is an excellent site and seems to really focus on cheap prices, you'd be hard pressed to find a lot of their products cheaper anywhere else. This coupled with free delivery on anything (which is surprisingly fast considering it's free and very reliable, I've had one item go missing which transpired to be due to a naughty postman stealing peoples mail!) makes it a winning combination. The one item I ordered which went missing was swiftly dealt with by them, with a refund being offered shortly after I reported it.
They stock a massive variety of products from MP3 downloads to widescreen TV's to clothes to gadgets. If I'm looking for a cheap product online, generally Play.com will be my first port of call.
The website is very well designed with simple categories on the left hand side and showing as tabs along the top. Each of these categories splits into sub-categories to further narrow down your search. The search box works particularly well - when you search for a keyword the results are filtered into categories which makes it an effective way of finding what you are looking for.
There is near enough always a sale on, which means a lot of the cheap products are even cheaper at these times. I have signed up to the mailing list and receive updates on when the sales and special offers are running - these aren't intrusive and are sent out in moderation.
Microsoft Flight Sim was one of the games I played when I was really young, it has been around for a long time and it's given them a lot of experience to make and develop a really excellent game.
Gameplay can be a little daunting at first - if you want to jump in and get flying you'll probably find yourself either unable to take off, or if you do take off you'll be unable to land. There are several simple tutorials designed to teach you the basics, I would thoroughly recommend running through these to get you used to the cockpit and the controls. After a few basic lessons on taxiing, taking off, landing and flight control - you can head onto some of the missions.
The set missions are good fun and there are plenty to keep you entertained for a good amount of time! They are categorised into their ease, starting at the easier ones allows you to learn your new skills and the controls - and are still very fun.
If you want to create some of your own flights you can pick from a massive selection of airports. This is quite good fun flying over famous landmarks and seeing airports you know of - all this is enhanced by excellent and details graphics. By default the game set my details settings quite low, I increased this and there was no loss in stability but the increase in detail made the game so much more fun and realistic.
It is quite an advised game, so it's definitely worth ensuring your system meets the minimum requirements before you buy it!