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I love coffee and it is one of the few products that I insist on having a good well known brand. Cheap coffee is easy to spot, and I would rather do without something else than buy it. That is until recently. I bought some flavoured coffee syrups just before Christmas and used them a few times when I realised that I was putting them in good coffee and changing the taste that I liked already. When I was in Tesco I saw their value coffee was just 50p and decided that I would use this with the syrups.
I have tried it with all 5 flavourings and all of them have been pleasant. I did try it on its own a few times, but ended up putting a few drops of syrup in. For the times that I did try to drink it alone there was no bitterness and it did not leave an unpleasant taste, but it is not going to replace my normal coffee.
It has quite large, dark granules and needed a lot less that I thought it would to make a cup that you can taste. The jar is in keeping with the value brand- it quite clearly states that it is the value range and just has a picture of a variety of cups on it. There are 5 strengths of coffee and this is marked at level 3. There is not a lot of additional information on the jar, just the fact that it is instant coffee, the Tesco promise regarding refunds, the fact that it needs to be stored in a cool dry place and that it is the product of more than one country.
The jar is 100g and one of the only things I don't like is the smell. It is hard to describe, but if I was blind folded and given some to smell I really would not think it was coffee. If I had to say anything I would say it smells of malt.
I found that there was no need to use more than a teaspoonful when making a drink and there are no granules left at the bottom of the cup - it dissolves completely. It does say use 1-2 teaspoons, but I think that would be too much. I have left it in the jar - just to make sure that it does not end up mixed in with the good stuff - and it has stayed fresh even though it has been open for nearly 2 months. I hope this remains the case, as it is not a coffee I drink every day so this is likely to last a good 6-8 months.
I would give this 3 stars as it is OK to drink on its own but nothing special. I do enjoy it much more when it has flavouring added to it, but for the price it is fine.
When my friend and I decided to go to Amsterdam we got what we considered a good deal on the flight so decided to look for a nicer hotel than we would have normally looked for. One of the first ones we found was Die Port Van Cleve and after that we did not look at anything else. It worked out at £124 a night between us with breakfast an extra £12.
The hotel is just a couple of tram stops away from Central Station and it stops right outside. That is great in the first instance but if you like an early night or a lie in it is not ideal as you hear the bells from around 5 am until the early hours. I did get used to it but my friend found it a bit distracting. The hotel did not look quite as delightful as it did on the picture but that was a small point and virtually everything else about it was amazing. While I am doing the downside there was one other issue and that was with dinner. We planned to eat there on Saturday night and while there were no vegetarian meals listed it did say that each meal had a vegetarian option. When I asked what that was they said that they left the meat out!! Basically it was potatoes and carrot with whichever vegetable the particular dish was served with.
The location was ideal for us as it is on Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal and it is a nice location, close to many attractions and also a bit out of the way of the rowdy nightlife. It is right opposite the Niuewe Kerk and a five minute walk from the Amsterdam Museum. Dam Square is a few minutes away and then onto the Damrak which has all the shops you could want and is the entrance to the red light district.
On entry the reception area was dark and discrete. The staff were amazingly friendly and helpful, and we found this throughout the stay. Check in was quick and easy and we were able to buy our Amsterdam cards here. We could not go straight to our room as we were far too early but when we returned we had our cases back and were in our room in a matter of minutes.
First impressions were a bit worrying as the beds were right next to each other and the bedside tables were fixed so could not be moved. The room was big enough to put the bed around the cabinet and still allow me room to get in and out on both sides of my bed. On entering there was a large wardrobe on the left - much more spacious than in other hotels I have stayed in. The bathroom was on the right and this was well decorated and had a bath with a shower head, toilet and basin. Nothing outstanding, but certainly there was nothing to complain about.
Down three stairs was the main part of the room - 2 single beds a dresser with a TV above it and a good sized table. The walls were plainly painted, but the picture was so typically traditional old style Dutch - blue and white clothed children dressed in clogs and an apron.
We had booked breakfast and got this at a rate of 14 euros rather than 19 as we arranged it before we arrived. This was a much better experience than the evening meal, as it had everything you could wish for. There were a couple of cereals and then fruit and yoghurt and the normal things you would expect for a continental breakfast. It included bread and rolls, with cheese, meat and bits of salad, and a couple of trays of pastries. There was a hot section where they had scrambled eggs, chicken sausages, bacon and either waffles or Dutch pancakes. Tea and coffee was also self service and each day there were 4 different fruit juices.
The hotel is 4* and has 122 rooms and all are different from each other. As the hotel is 3 building linked together, it was not possible to have them all the same. Rooms are single, twin, double, superior, executive and business.
There is a bar that is quite small but seemed popular with guests and there were a few people eating in there. It seated 30 comfortably and we managed to get a seat whenever we went in. The beer was 5.50 euros for two halves and that was pretty much the same as we paid everywhere else.
The rooms have pretty much everything that you would expect from a 4 star hotel. There is a TV although only a few channels were in English and free WiFi which was very helpful. We had a phone and air conditioning although we did not really get the hang of that, but the one time we got it to work it was lovely and warm when we got in on the Sunday night. There were toiletries in the bathroom and tea and coffee facilities hidden away in the wardrobe which was a pleasant surprise. It said there was a mini fridge but we did not find it but the safe was big enough to get everything we wanted to store inside.
You can have lunch and dinner in the hotel and apart from the veggie issues, it is a good menu. Lunch is served at 2 different times and the menu varies. One is 11 am until 5 and this is mainly sandwiches and snacks. They have cheese salad, ham cheese and egg salad, meatballs or ossenwurst - all served with mustard mayonnaise. If you want something warm there is omelette and bread or croquettes and bread. Soup is asparagus and there was also avocado salad. These range from 4.50 euros for the sandwiches up to 12.50 for the more substantial items.
The later lunch has mash, carrots and beef or red chicory mash and Dutch steak. This was served from 12 until 5.
The evening menu had 5 starters - beef broth, asparagus soup, veal kidneys, avocado salad or prawns. The main courses were pan fried sea bass, lamb stew Dutch shrimp and suckling pig chops. The website shows zucchini stuffed with goats' cheese but that was not on the menu while we were there. Prices range from 17.50 euros to 26 euros. Desserts were Dutch biscuits, a cheese selection, buttermilk mousse or coffee and chocolate mousse.
If you have an Amsterdam card the three courses will be 32 euros and that would be a 5 euro saving as they already offered 3 courses for 37 euros.
All in all this has been about the best hotel I have stayed in in Amsterdam and one of the best ones anywhere. The location is ideal, the view of the church was lovely, and it was close enough to all the attractions without having them on top of us.
Phone: +31(0)20 714 2000
fax: +31(0)20 714 2001
Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 176-180 | NL - 1012 SJ Amsterdam
I like to have a bag of crisps at night when watching the television and normally I get mixed bags so there is a range of flavours. Last week at Costco there was an offer of 3 bags of 12 Quavers or French Fries for £5.99. My friend and I got 2 x French Fries and 1 Quavers and split them.
The yellow packet does not seem to have changed for years and it is a little gaudy. The name Quavers and the manufacturer Walkers are shown in the middle and 88 calories stands out as well. It says Cheese and shows information such as the calories, salt and fat content.
Quavers are not the same as crisps as they are classed as cheese flavoured potato snacks and are made from potato starch. They also contain rice flour, soya flour, salt, cheese flavour sunflower oil, wheat flour, pepper and a number of things I can't pronounce.
The quaver tastes very cheesy, probably more so than a lot of crisps, and they tend to melt pretty much as soon as you bite them. They are very curly and tend to stick together in the bag meaning you often have to eat more than one together - what a pity!
The pack is around the same size as a lot of crisp packets but there does not seem to be as much in them. Maybe it is because they are so light, but I feel fuller after crisps than these so if you really do want a light and cheesy snack, this would be the thing to go for.
The only problem with the pack I bought was that there is only cheese flavour, so there is no variety. I have seen others in the past but they don't seem to be as readily available. An allergy warning mentions wheat, mustard and soya. That is the downside but on the plus side there are fewer calories and no artificial colours.
I don't have pies very often so when I do I like to get a well known brand. At a recent trip to a Tesco garage, I saw a few that had been reduced - 15p each, so I could not go wrong. My main aim was to have a piece cold with a salad - there were no vegetarian quiches in the small shop so this was the next best thing - so I used the first one that way over the next couple of days and then froze the others. I was glad to notice that they were suitable for vegetarians as some companies cheese and onion pies may not have meat in them but they put suet in the pastry.
The first one was fine - it had been chilled so I just ate it as it was. The pastry was a little bland but I could taste the cheese if not the onion. The problem was when I cooked the ones that had been frozen. The first problem was that the pastry seemed to be very hard. I left it to defrost and then put it in the oven to I suppose it was being cooked for a second time, but having heated it in the microwave it was far to soggy to eat.
The next problem was when I cut the pie open. The firm filling of the cold pie had gone and was replaced with what was more like a cheese sauce. Cutting the pie open was quite difficult due to the hard pastry on the top and the filling seemed to be much more artificial than I had noticed with the cold version. The taste did not last very long and had I not known what the pie was I am not sure I would have guessed that it was cheese and onion. The rest of the pastry that held the filling was quite stodgy and I was really disappointed with the overall taste and texture.
The company is clearly popular as they have been making pies in Lancashire since the 1850s but I don't think I would get them again unless I was intending to have them cold. The pie was in a green and blue plastic covering and it was placed into a foil container. This makes it a little difficult to defrost as it cannot go into the microwave and it was quite fiddly getting back into the foil to put it in the oven.
The picture on the front shows the filling oozing out but makes it look a lot more substantial than it is. They are made in Accrington in Lancashire and need to be kept refrigerated although they are suitable to be frozen at home. There are no hydrogenated fats, artificial flavours or colourings in the pie and it says that it only needs to be in the microwave for 2 minutes. As mentioned this does leave it a little soggy
Each pie has 451 calories which makes it very high in calories for its size and has 22.9g of fat, so it is not a thing that easily fits into a healthy diet.
Due to the detailed list of ingredients, I have copied and pasted this from the internet:-
Water, Wheaflour, Mature Cheddar Cheese (8%) [contains: Colour (Annatto)], Shortening [Vegetable Oil, Emulsifier (Mono and Di-Glycerides of Fatty Acids)], Onion (4%), Margarine [Vegetable Oil, Water, Salt, Emulsifier (Mono and Di-Glycerides of Fatty Acids)], Modified Tapioca Starch, Cornflour, Potato Powder [Dried Potato, Potato Starch, Salt, Flavourings (from Milk)], Salt, Flour Treatment Agent [Wheatflour, Treatment Agent (L-Cysteine Hydrochloride)], Glaze [Sodium Caseinate (from Milk), Vegetable Oil, Acidity Regulator (Sodium Citrate), Emulsifiers (Sucrose and Polyglycerol Esters of Fatty Acids), Salt, Colour (Annatto)], Mustard, Pepper*
In ending I would recommend the pie only if you wanted to eat it cold but only then if there was not a quiche available. At the moment they are on sale for £1.00 at Ocodo and having a look at mysupermarket the others don't have a price showing - strange as I bought them from a branch of Tesco's.
While Stephen King does not consider this one of his best novels, I found it to be an improvement on a few that had gone before. It also continues with the theme of domestic violence which has crept its way through a number of his previous novels. I like the way this time the victim is strong enough to walk away early on although not early enough.
It would have made sense if Rosie had left her husband Norman when he beat her and caused her to miscarry. However it took her a number of years to go and this was partly because he was a policeman and she feared he would find her. Finally she leaves and travels to another town ready to begin a new life.
Things start well as she is taken to a women's refuge and she begins to make friends and even gets a job at a local hotel. She still needs money and decides to get rid of her engagement ring. Finding out it is not worth anything, she swaps it for a painting that caught her eye. The painting is a woman wearing a Rose Madder dress. From that minute her luck seems to change. A chance meeting leads to her getting a better job, and she also starts to date, having been asked out by Bill, the man who owns the pawn shop. It is hard not to want to celebrate now that is seems as if things are looking up for Rosie and she is a character that it is easy to get behind. It is not unusual for Stephen King to have a character the readers will love and one they are bound to hate.
Rose always feels that there is something strange about the painting and eventually feels she has a connection with the woman in it. Unsure as to whether or not she is dreaming, Rosie carries out what is required of her. Blood plays a big part in this section of the story and it seems fitting as it was spots of blood on the bedding that led to her leaving Norman. The second part of the story is Norman's attempts to track Rosie down and how past events have shaped her views and behaviour in her new town.
There are parts of this book that I find quite difficult to understand. Mainly this is to do with the blood in the events surrounding the picture. I also found it hard to believe that Norman would go to a lot of trouble when looking for her. He seemed good at getting his own way so why not just look for someone new? I wondered if there was a message in the story - maybe that you can't fully escape your past, or maybe even trust your instincts and carry on.
The book is well worth reading and the ending is again a little strange but very hopeful for a number of characters. I like the style but could do without some of the strong descriptions. Never let it be said Stephen King does not make sure we know exactly what has happened, especially if blood is involved. I was a bit worried when mythology was introduced and this was the one part of the book I felt was a weakness.
I will give it 5 stars. It is not one of the best known of his books and unlike many has not been made into a film although there was a lot of talk about making one a few years ago. It is a long book and has 466 pages and was printed in 1995.
Walkers crisps seem to have become the most popular choice as all supermarkets, general stores and garages seem to stock them. Cheese and onion were my favourite and had been for some time. They may not be the healthiest of snacks but they are quite filling and are lower in calories compared to chocolate bars.
The strange thing is that while they have a nice taste, I can't make out cheese or onion in them. They come in a blue bag with Walkers in red across it and all the other details in white. It says that the cheese is Cheddar from Somerset and there are details regarding calories and salt content.
When it comes to the crisps they look very much like most other crisps - light brown with some being big and others much smaller and then a lot of crumbs at the bottom of the packet. Even if there is no longer as much salt in there they are still salty. As with most things they have got smaller as at one time each pack was 28g but has since gone down to 25g.
They still have a good crunch and it is easy to tell if they are past their best as they start to go soft. The smell is distinctive but again there is no real smell of cheese and onion. I have just sniffed inside the pack - purely for the intention of writing about the smell not some weird fetish - and it is actually quite unpleasant.
Each bag has 130 calories and 7.7g of fat along with 0.30g of salt. They are made with British potatoes and there is no MSG. The pack also claims that they are 75% lower in saturates than other crisps and I do think they taste different than they did a few years ago so this may be the difference. They have not really changed that much for the worse but I do remember them being a lot nicer in the past. I used to really look forward to a bag but my enthusiasm has really waned recently, especially as they also leave a not so nice aftertaste and I wonder how long that will show on my breath.
Not a product I will give up altogether but I can see me cutting back, especially as they are more expensive than many other brands.
They can be as much as 60p a bag sold individually but Asda often have them in a 6 pack as part of their 3 for 2 so they work out at about £4 for 18 bags.
Lots of supermarkets are now making their own version of the penguin, and while they are nice biscuits they are not as good as the original. Penguins seem to have been around for ever and they must be doing something right if people keep in buying them.
Penguin is a chocolate biscuit that has a chocolate filling and chocolate covering. They are two wafers stuck together then covered with chocolate. It's a simple process, but an effective one. I remember them as being a big biscuit when I was younger but they have shrunk over the years. Part of that can be put down to a child's memory but even over the last 10 years they seem to have got smaller.
They are made by Mcvities and they do have a good name for making good sweet tasting products and here there seems to be plenty of chocolate on them. Not as much as I remember etc etc... - you know the rest.
They bring back memories of Sunday tea and if we had been good and eaten the sensible things we could have one as well as cake. Sponge cake AND a chocolate biscuit - we really knew how to live back then!!
Even though they are smaller than the originals, they are still a good price. They come in packs of 9 - I am sure it used to be 6 but I could be wrong - and more recently there have been 18's and 27's. Sainsbury's often have them on offer and places such as Home Bargains sell them for around 79p to 99p for the 9 packs.
The biscuits are individually wrapped in various coloured wrappers and while they are easy to open they are not very substantial. There is little chance of using one to hold the biscuit if it is a hot day and the chocolate a little runny. The chocolate is runny but it makes a nice contrast to the crunch of the biscuit.
As a vegetarian I am able to eat these and they state that there is milk, soya and gluten in them. There is a more detailed list but again I can only read bits of it - milk, emulsifier and vegetable fat. One issue I have is the writing on each biscuit as it is very small. There is one section that gives the quality guarantee but it is very small dark blue writing on a light blue background so I still don't know what to do if there is a problem with the biscuit. The best before date is not on the individual wrapper - like that will be a problem here- but if you don't eat many biscuits it can be a concern.
For entertainment there is a "joke" "how do you get in touch with a penguin?" "Give him a wing"
All in all this is a decent biscuit for a decent price. It is a nice little taste of chocolate but if you want a good sized snack it will be best to look for something else - or eat more than 1 I suppose.
When we were in Poland we found a little bar selling beer for the equivalent of 80p a pint. There were two different one Tyskie and Zywiec. When I got home I was pleased to find that there are a few local shops that sell them both. Although Tyskie was not my favourite while I was away I have begun to like it more and more.
The lager both looks and smells nicer than other lagers I have tried. It is 5.6% which I think must be high range for strength as I have just looked up online and the Government are classing 5.9 % and above as high strength. Whops!! Good job I don't drink it all that often. There is something a bit confusing as where the health warning is printed it says 2.8 - although no % sign - so I am not sure what that means.
It is nowhere near as bubbly as draught lagers I have tried and for me that is a good thing. It is sweet which was a surprise the first time I tried it. I also don't like beer to be too cold so the fact that this is nice at room temperature as well makes it even better.
The cans hold 500ml and look quite classy as they are white with red and gold writing on them. The red crown in the middle shows that the brewery was started back in 1629. The writing is part in English and part in Polish so all the details can be read. There is also a consumer helpline which surprised me a bit as I am not sure why you would phone - "can you tell me what to do with this please?"
I have sometimes just had half a can and finished it off the next day and it is certainly still OK to drink then although I don't know if it would last longer. I have found that when I use it to make shandy it does not work too well - maybe because it is already quite sweet and the lemonade pushes it over the edge.
I cant really say what is in it as under ingredients it says barley and then the next word I can read is "warzone"!! before the address for Miller Brands is printed.
I can't imagine drinking this if I was out all night, but when I am just having a drink at home or a friend's house it is ideal.
It can be bought for £1.89 at Tesco at the moment and that is the bottle but I have never paid more than £4.95 for 4 cans.
I know that I eat far too much bread and if I had to eat just one thing for the rest of my life I would probably choose bread. Hopefully there could be a bit of butter and cheese involved, then it would be perfect. I like all fresh breads but my favourite must be Tiger bread from Asda.
It often seems to be on sale and this weekend was no exception. The smaller ones were 50p and the big ones £1 so I bought one of the big ones. One great thing about it is the smell and that does not seem to fade. Freshly baked bread always smells nice but this lasts longer than many of the others. Often I can still smell it the following day.
It is really fresh and this does make it a little difficult to cut so I just have to make the slices thicker than normal. It is helped a little by the fact that the loaf is not as tall as many loaves. It is baked each day so the loaf is always fresh and the taste really is special. The crust on the top is harder than most loaves and always seems to be a lovely golden colour. It is possible to have the loaf sliced in store but that means I can't have nice thick slices for toast. It is also a lot easier to butter when it is toasted.
If you normally have wholegrain bread you may not like this as it is the softest bread I have ever eaten. Because of the shape of the loaf, the ends are not very big so I tend to cut them off as soon as I get in and eat them straight away.
I originally thought the name came from the slight striped effect on the top but have been told that it is because there was money being donated to a British zoo. When I was in Holland I saw they sold it as tijgerbrood - also that it originates from there - so think if there is a link to the zoo they must have chosen to help the tiger due to the name of the bread.
The bread freezes well as I have done this on the odd occasion I have not finished the loaf. When toasted it is just as good as when it is fresh, although for sandwiches it is not quite as good.
The main ingredients are flour, sesame oil, rice paste and linseed oil. The bread comes in 2 sizes, 400g and 800g and one thing I have found is that there is rarely a saving to be made for buying the bigger size, but that could be because one or the other seems to be on offer.
Cider was the first alcoholic drink I ever tried as we were allowed to have a small glass of cider and orange with Sunday dinner. Since then, new flavours have been introduced and I have tried pear cider and really liked that but nowhere near as much as Rekorderlig Strawberry and Lime Cider.
The first time I drank it was in Wetherspoons in Chester last year and since then have had it on many hot summer days. The bottle is quite dull and does not pass on a hint of the treat that you are about to receive. The label is a case of stating the obvious - just a picture of a lime and some strawberries.
It is not the colour of normal cider, but nor is it as red as I was expecting it to be. Although it has an amazing taste I don't feel that either of the ingredients stands out in particular, and I would struggle to say what the taste is - other than something I want to try again.
It is very sweet and has a pleasant smell - here there is a hint of strawberry but still nothing of the lime. One thing in particular I like is the fact that it is not very gassy unlike some cheaper brands. On the front of the bottle it says that it is a premium brand from Sweden and that it is 4.0% volume.
Each bottle contains 500ml and while it is not a great deal, there is quite a high calorie count attached to it. There are over 300 calories in each bottle and as a result I tend to only have one when out or if I drink it at home, have one over 2 nights. We have corks from Betterware of somewhere like that and it does keep the fizz - I got quite a shock the first time I took a cork out as there was quite a pop and as I have mentioned it is not gassy at all. I have some in at the moment and paid £5 for 3 in Asda recently. A number of supermarkets have been doing that offer for cider, but none seemed to have that particular flavour apart from Asda.
The bottle also has a message about responsible drinking, and as this is such a sweet drink it could be easy to drink it as if it was fruit juice. What I had not realised until I looked for prices online - TheDrinkShop.com is selling them for £2.29 - that is that it is a pear cider and not an apple one. They also give a serving tip of ice and mint, but I am not sure that mint would improve it.
Bearing in mind the calories I will not be drinking this every week but can imagine that I will always have a couple in the cupboard.
Definitely to be recommended.
When I am in the kitchen I have actions that the killer in Psycho would be proud of. I am not safe with a knife and as a result we always have a good supply of plasters. Some are so thin and useless that they have to be changed regularly as they are either not absorbent enough or lose their stickiness as soon as water touches them.
The box for Superdrugs' Cushioned Plasters is white with a purple cross and a plaster on it. It has the name Superdrug across the top and Cushioned Plasters underneath. It says that there are 20 assorted plasters and on the side the further information that there are 16 standard plasters 19mm x 72mm and 4 large ones 38mm x 72mm. There is a small push through serrated square at the back and this is how the box is opened.
The first time I took a plaster out of the box I thought it felt a little thicker than normal plasters. When I opened it I felt that it was softer as well and the cushioned bit was clear to see. When I put it on it felt a little different to others and it was thicker, but within a short while I had got used to that and did not find my hand movement was restricted at all.
The plasters are pale pink/beige and do not show up a great deal on my skin. They worked well when it came to cushioning my finger and while I have not had a very bad cut - crosses scarred fingers - since I bought them, I am not sure how absorbent they would be if there was a lot of blood.
When it is time to remove them they come off easily and do not leave a sticky patch where they have been. One thing I did find was that my skin was very wrinkled when I first removed the plaster so while the packet claims there is "breathable foam backing" I am not sure that they do let the skin breathe that much. This only lasted about 10 minutes and was not a big problem.
There are a few instructions on the back of the pack and they are pretty much just common sense. Don't use a plaster more than once, don't use a plaster if the individual wrapping is damaged, and if there is no sign of healing seek medical help. One other one did surprise me and that was not to use after the expiry date - the date on this box is 2016 so they will have well gone by then.
Over all I was very happy with this plaster and will certainly get them again. I paid £1.69 for them and will be happy to pay a little more than that as I feel they are a very good plaster. I have no problem recommending them and giving them 5 stars.
As I don't have children I don't often watch cartoon type DVDs but a couple of years ago when I was in Shanghai with a friend we struggled to find programmes we could understand. One that came on was Coraline and while it was really strange we both ended up watching it while we cooled down before going out to eat.
We all have dreams and Coraline is not different - well she is, she is a cartoon character - but she still wants a good life. She feels that her parents do not have enough time for her and heading towards her teens, she thinks there is more to life than gardening and writing about gardening. Having been taken away from everything she knew has not helped. Moving from Michigan to Oregon has been a big deal for her.
She quickly makes a friend - the grandson of the owner of the apartment where she is now living, but he is the only other person she has any connection to. The house is shared with two past it actresses and the owner of a rodent circus and while she comes into contact with them there is no real relationship.
She soon finds an alternative life within the house, where her parents are attentive and fun and easily accessible via a secret passageway. She is comfortable with the two worlds, travelling to the new world at night yet waking in the new world each morning, and then suddenly it turns a bit spooky and her new parents want her to stay - complete with black buttons for eyes just like them.
For the rest of the film it is a trial to see if she can get out or not. It seems hard to decide who this film is aimed at. It is clearly a cartoon type film yet could be scary for young children and the DVD is listed as PG.
I am not sure if there is a moral to this story and if so what it is. It could be the grass is always greener, make the most of the life you have and for parents don't neglect your children. It is written and directed by the Henry Selick who also directed "The Night Before Christmas" and the animation is quite similar - unfeasibly thin and in this case with large heads.
It is based on a novel that was written by Neil Gaiman and published in 2002 but I have read that it does stray a great deal from some of the ideas he had. The young friend is not in the book and he like the other small part characters are overly outlandish. Overall there is a creepy feel to the film and I can understand why there needed to be parental guidance.
If you want something that is quite fun, a little bit strange and will make you wonder which life is best, this will be a good film to watch. If you are thinking about letting children watch it I would read a few more detailed reviews - especially ones that give away more about the ending - and see if the dark sections are things you think you children could cope with.
Main Character Voices
Coraline - Dakota Fanning
Miss Spink, a former actress - Jennifer Saunders
Miss Forcible, another former actress - Dawn French
Rodent Circus Owner and Russian Acrobat Mr Bobinsky - Ian McShane
Real Mother/Other Mother - Teri Hatcher
Real Father/Other Father - John Hodgeman
The film runs for 100minutes and was released on DVD in 2012 - I am not sure exactly when but before April as the friend I was in China with bought it for me as an extra for my 50th.
It is quite a few years since I have used Nair. I have has some bits lasered and tend to use a razor for others. I decided that I would continue with the razor on my legs but try the cream for the more personal one. No need for underarms as that is the lasered part.
Having read a few reviews I was a bit concerned as people are talking about burning and stinging and I don't remember that from years ago. Nevertheless I bought a box and decided to give it a go. I paid £1.99 for 100ml at a local chemist so I am afraid I have no idea if that is normal or what it will be anywhere else. Having checked Amazon it is selling there for £2.49 so result!!
The first thing that came back was the smell - it is still just how I remembered it. The cream was quite thick and I was surprised to see that there was not a spatula to apply it as I am sure there used to be. When it went on it stayed where it was and did not move around so I was not worried about a strange removal pattern.
The instructions are clear - apply evenly, leave for 5 or 6 minutes, test a patch to see if it has worked, leave for a little longer if not but no more than 10 minutes, rinse off, gently towel dry, do not rub, do not use soap - the end.
I went through this process and was quite pleased. I would not say it was totally smooth and that every hair had gone, but there were a lot of smooth areas. It did not hurt and the only downside was that I felt I could smell the cream for quite a few hours afterwards.
The packaging is a little bit dated and I don't think it has changed much over the years. The box and the tube are pink and white with blue writing. It is made clear that the cream is for sensitive skin and the instructions are also clear. They are on the box and tube so there are no excuses for making a mistake. It does say not to use on the eyes, ears, nipples or genitals and warns that if there is stinging then it should be removed right away.
There is a full list of ingredients but nothing to say what each one does.
I will give this four stars as it did remove most of the hair and did not hurt at all.
*Warning* this review contains nice comments about James Blunt.
Friends have never understood my choice of music, but no one has been criticised as much as James Blunt. I can't understand why as he has an amazing voice - singing and speaking plus the tracks are easy to listen to and well written. I was surprised to find out that this was released in 2004 as I thought it was much later than that. The producers are Warner Music Group Co.
I am not a musician so can't explain about the chords and rifts and things, but give an opinion having listened to them. One thing I do like about him - apart from his amazing good looks and voice - is the fact that he does not seem to take himself seriously. Some of the tracks are a total contrast to the fun loving man that we see interviewed and this one is just as impressive.
High - written by Blunt and Ross
This is a bit of a hard song to understand, although he puts his ability to reach high notes to good use throughout the track. I don't know if it is about a place he was happy or the place he is now - it could be the same place I know. He seems to feel strongly about it and while it is not the best written song, there are some well written lines
"Beautiful dawn - You're just blowing my mind again. Thought I was born to endless night, until you shine."
It is well known that he served in the Army so it may be the dawn in a far away land - glad to see the dawn as he has made it through the night. Towards the ends of each line he elongates the word and holds the tune perfectly. It is quite a short track and far from my favourite. This is one of the more cheerful tracks on the album and I give it 7/10
You're Beautiful - written by Blunt, Skarbek, Ghost.
Maybe because this did so well I got a little bored with it. It spent a lot of time at number 1 and I feel that there were better tracks that should have had that honour. It is about a fleeting sighting of someone on the subway and how he contemplates his future knowing that she will not e part of it.
The lyrics are not too clear as we never find out what the plan is. Unless it is carry on with his life and not have her as part of it.
She smiled at me on the subway. She was with another man. But I won't lose no sleep on that, 'Cause I've got a plan.
There is a part of this song that I switch of when my nephew is in the car as he sings it a little differently to the way he does on the single. Here he claims that
"she could see from my face that I was f****** high" as opposed to "flying high" on the radio,
This is another track where James is able to show off his range and gets the high notes time and time again. The music to this is quite basic and gives him the chance to make the song the star, but as it is repeated there is not a lot of substance so I will say 5/10. It is not a song that he is precious about as he has parodied it on Sesame Street singing it as "My Triangle"
Wise Men - written by Blunt, Skarbek and Hogarth.
I found it hard to work out what this was about so had a quick look on the internet and there seems to be 2 different stories. One is that it is about James and 3 people who bullied him and on reflection he is pointing out who has the better life
"look whose alone now, it's not me it's not me"
Another theory is that it is about 3 British soldiers who raped and killed a Danish girl in Cyprus. They were sentenced and charged with manslaughter not murder as they were too drunk or high to have planned it.
"And they're really sorry now for what they've done, they were three Wise Men just trying to have some fun."
I do like this but would prefer to understand it. Considering both views are serious, it it still quite an upbeat track and is easy to sing along to. 7/10
Goodbye My Lover - written by Blunt music by Skarbek
For me this is the best track on the album and it has finally got to the James Blunt that I love listening to. It is another track that shows off his range and the music fits perfectly with the feelings put into the track.
I like the idea of the darkness at the beginning and how he is looking back at a relationship.
"So I took what's mine by eternal right. Took your soul out into the night. It may be over but it won't stop there, I am here for you if you'd only care."
There have been reports that this is about the break-up a relationship that James thought would last forever. It changes from him being the person in control
"Yes I saw you were blinded and I knew I had won."
then nearer the end
"And I love you, I swear that's true. I cannot live without you".
"You have been the one. You have been the one for me."
Whatever the real meaning, it is a powerful track to listen to. It has become popular for funerals although there is nothing to say that it is about the death of a person just the relationship. By far my favourite, and one that often gets played over and over on long car drives. 10/10
Tears and Rain - Blunt and Chambers
This is another track that is full of emotion but not easy to understand. It could be regret for events in the past and fear for what is to come. Is it about his time in the army or about relationships he has had?
"All pleasure's the same, it just keeps me from trouble. Hides my true shape, like Dorian Gray."
This could be putting a brave face on things and not giving into the pain but having pleasure in his life and being who is wants to be and not hiding anymore. As I like Oscar Wilde I also like the Dorian Gray reference. 8/10
Out of My Mind - written by Blunt
I can easily imagine this being about insecurity and fear of failing. He is in a world obsessed by looks and youth and one day he will get older and his looks will change.
"It's touching that the monkey sits on my shoulder. He's waiting for the day when he gets me"
It is quite a short track and not a particular favourite. It is sung in quite a monotone way and there are none of the ranges of voice that are found in other tracks. Another one that gets 7/10
So Long Jimmy - written by Blunt and Hogarth
I have heard a number of reports that this is about someone he served with in Afghanistan and they were killed. They always had a guitar and played for the rest of the troops. If this is true it is an amazing tribute to them. There is also the fact that both of the writers are James and it could have been about themselves.
"Though you only stayed a moment, we all know that you're the one. Singing,"
Could it be that he is unsure how long his career will last. When "You're Beautiful" became a hit there was a lot of publicity and he may have feared it would go as soon as it came.
From the other point there is the idea of it being about a former colleague. The man had a profound effect and I would like to think that it is a tribute.
"Are you just cool and I'm just baked? Does everyone get mesmerized by your fire?"
I feel that this does have a lot of sentiment to it so whatever the reason is, it is something that was very close to him. The opening lines seem to be a little childish in their style and it could have been that he did not want to get too involved when singing it. This is another one that I give 8/10.
Billy - written by Blunt, Ghost, Skarbek
This seems to be quite clearly someone looking back at the mistakes they made. They seemed to have the person they wanted and then cheated on them and have been caught out.
"Once he was a lover sleeping with another. Now he's just known as a cheat".
Considering the topic it is a bright and lively song. He shows how powerful his voice can be and how well he can hold long notes. The chorus is very easy to remember and this was one that I found I was singing along to more than the others. It gets 9/10 for being so memorable.
Cry - written by Blunt and Skarbek
Throughout this seems to be about friendship although maybe more a female friend than a male one. A friend that he feels pity for and want to help. It is the one that makes me feel the most sad as he sings about death and loss with such feeling.
"I have seen birth. I have seen death. Lived to see a lover's final breath."
Again there could be elements of war as the death and lover's final breath could be different incidents. I tend not to listen to music as much as lyrics and a voice but this has something about it that makes the music just as important. I am getting a bit consistent here - another 9/10
No Bravery - written by Blunt and Skarbek
I found this the most emotional of all the tracks. Often there are songs about war but few of them have been written by people who have been there. As I have a particular interest in the war poets I felt a connection to this song. I loved the track but hate the fact that this may have been written from exact experience.
Unfortunately I think it has been as on this track the singer is Capt J. Blunt whereas all the others are J Blunt.
The war is shown from the people's eyes and not the soldiers, showing the horrors that happen to people who have no way to fight back.
"Old men kneel to accept their fate. Wives and daughters cut and raped. A generation drenched in hate."
Despite the subject matter being so sad I still think that it deserves 10/10 if only because it shows the innocents who suffer in war.
Reading back I am aware that I keep talking about his voice and his range but it really is impressive. He has music to all his tracks but carries the song well himself. I have bought other CDs of his but still find "Goodbye My Lover" to be my joint favourite track of all - 1973 is the other one.
It is currently the 16th highest selling UK album of the 21st Century and as would be imagined got to No 1 being the decades best-selling album 2000-2009. 8 of the tracks have been used for adverts or in films.
Tampons may be more hygienic than towels but there are times when a towel is better to use. Night time mainly, but also at certain times such as the beginning and end of a period.
I have tried a wide range of towels over the best part of 30 years but have stayed with Always for a long time. There are 2 main reasons for this and that is the fact that firstly they feel soft and secondly they are effective. A big selling point for me is the ActipearlsTM that work to combat odour.
It is very rare to say that you can forget a towel is there, but Always Ultra is about as close it gets. They are longer than most pads and work well when it comes to absorption.
The one think that is a slight issue about Always is finding out which packs of towels are the best value. All the packs are different sizes and so it is really hard to work out the pack to buy.
I am probably lucky that I have never had real problems with periods and these towels have always been able to cope perfectly. I have been able to use these through the night as that is the one time I don't like to use a tampon. Partly I think is the fear of sleeping too long and waking up and having to change the bed and partly the fear of toxic shock syndrome.
It was brought home to be recently just how much I prefer these towels with their wings and the fact that they are very thin. I recently had to buy a pack while I was out and the small store only sold Kotex. It was much less secure without wings and they were 3 or 4 times thicker. The soft material of Always was very much missed.
I have heard about a multipack that allows you to have the sort of towel you want for different stages of the period but have not seen them in England. I had a quick look online and it appears that they do have them in the US where they are packs of 88 that sell for the equivalent of £8.50
There are 5 different types of Always Ultra:-
Always Ultra Normal has 16 towels in a lime green pack - I have not used these as I see them pretty much the same way as an oversized panty-liner. They are given 3 out of 6 for absorption by Proctor and Gamble and this is an indication that they should be used on light days not that they are not very effective.
Always Ultra Normal Plus with Wings in a dark green pack - the shape has changed recently and they feel much softer. I always feel confident wearing these and on what I imagine will be the last night, and find them as good as the ones specifically designed for night time. They are given 4 out of 6 for absorption so can be used most days.
Always Ultra Long in a lilac pack - again I avoid these as they do not have wings. There are 14 in a pack and the company gives them 4 out of 6 for absorption.
Always Ultra Long Plus with Wings have 12 towels in a dark purple pack - these can be used on any day and feel soft and are very absorbent. They are longer than the others and yet don't show under trousers.
Always Ultra Night time have 10 towels in a dark blue pack - these are long and perfect for night time as they stay in place regardless of how much I move around. I can often spend 8 or 9 hours in bed and am confident that there will be no problematic leaks.
If I have any criticism it is that the new shape seems to have the wings at a strange angle. I wear sensible pants and anyone who tried to use them with pants with a narrow gusset would find that they overlap.
Boots tend to sell them at £1.99 but often have them as part of their 3 for 2 offers. I have managed to get them for £1 or £1.19 in Superdrug so tend to stock up when they have been on offer so I can't give an accurate price for what they sell for at the moment as I am still using the ones from a few months ago.
I only feel that I should rate the ones I have used and on that basis am happy to give the 3 different types 5 stars.