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NikkiH

NikkiH
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Member since: 07.09.2000

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    • Peugeot 206cc / Car / 64 Readings / 59 Ratings
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      26.03.2012 17:18
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      Lovely looking cabriolet in an affordable price range

      I have a black Peugeot 206cc Allure 2.0. It is a 2003 registered model, and I have owned it since 2009. I have always wanted a convertible, and once I no longer needed a family type larger car, this was always the model that I had seen and liked. Most importantly, it was in my price range. My car had been extremely well maintained, and had low mileage, so even now it looks much newer than it actually is.

      It is a pretty looking car, but definitely a ladies car in my eyes. My husband will only drive it as a last resort, and I always find it odd when I see men driving this model.

      Interior

      My interior has leather seats, black with a red trim which really add to the look and make the car look more special.

      There is plenty of leg room for driver and passenger. The back seats normally divide opinion, and I have read a lot of reviews where people claim they are useless and the car is basically a 2 seater. I disagree. Admittedly, there is not an abundance of space in the back of the car, but my eldest daughter who is 5'2" often sits in the back, She cannot stretch out, so for a long journey it wouldn't be ideal,but the seats are certainly not useless.

      The windows are fully electric, and you can have the front windows down while leaving the small rear ones up so your back seat passengers are not blasted with air.

      The Roof

      I always wanted a convertible with a hard top. My decision was mainly based on the security issue, and the amount of sad people who feel it is fun to slash soft tops. The roof on the 206 is easy to operate and quick to put up and down. To prepare for the roof retracting, you have to pull across a blind in the boot. This does reduce your boot space, but ensure that there will be no objects in the way of the roof to cause any damage. To put it down you open a clip on the driver and passenger side, you then press a button which is situated between the driver and passenger seat. The roof then retracts and tucks away neatly in the boot - all in less than 20 seconds. You must be stationary with the handbrake on to operate the roof, but the time it takes it still ideal if you are caught in an expected shower. I always put the windows up when the roof is down to try and minimise the wind and noise.

      Head height must be a consideration for anyone buying this car. I am 5'8", and feel fine within the car, however my husband who is 6'4" feels like his head is pressing on the roof.

      The Boot

      The boot is surprisingly spacious, and would rival a lot of family saloons at approximately 420 litres with the roof up. It does reduce to 120 litres when the roof is down. It is heavy to lift up, and even more so with the roof inside. Make sure you don't put your key in the boot and then close it. Unless you have a spare - you are going to need a locksmith to get back into the boot.

      Automatic air con comes as standard with this model. I prefer to knock it off unless it is a really hot day - but then I would have the roof down so it is not something I use too often. I am also too aware that the air con can increase the petrol consumption. I generally get 37 mpg, but this drops when the air con is used.

      This model has full remote central locking.

      The CD player was not what I wanted so I replaced it with my own so I cannot comment on it's performance.
      The trip computer is in the centre of the dash, and shows the standard date, time, temperature etc. My preferred display is how many miles are left before I need to refuel. I can also check how many miles per gallon I get, but I try not to do this too much as it can be quite upsetting with the current fuel prices!
      In terms of safety, the car has front and side airbags, but you can switch them off if you ever needed to. The model also has ABS but as I mentioned don't rely on it too much in bad weather, just slow down and take your time. You will be alerted by a noise and dash display if you or a passenger has not fit their seatbelt correctly. This is the same alert if you have not retracted or secured the roof clips correctly.
      The alloy wheels have locking wheel nuts. Don't lose the specialist tool to remove them or you will need a costly trip to the local Peugeot dealer.
      Driving is comfortable and enjoyable, however beware in bad weather as the back end slides out in bad weather.

      As it is big engine in a small car, the Insurance group ranges from 11-14 so depending on your driving experience, you may find yourself hit with a hefty premium.

      Road tax is at the higher rate, and for 6 months it is £134.75

      Overall, I love the car. It is fun to drive and fingers crossed it has caused me no problems. In terms of affordability, I probably could get more for my money, but sometimes the fun factor wins over.

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      • Vantage Point (DVD) / DVD / 80 Readings / 72 Ratings
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        03.07.2008 15:35
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        Whodunnit for the modern day

        Before I start this review, I just want to make it clear that I will not be going into detail where the plot is concerned because that would almost certainly ruin the viewing experience for anyone who has yet to see this film. The element of surprise is important.

        The film focuses on a visit by the American president to a terrorist summit in Salamanca, Spain (although the action was actually filmed in Mexico) after a number of high profile attacks in the country. Tension is high, and there are a high number of protesters amongst the crowds leading to the venue of the meeting. As normal, security around the president is extremely high and organised to the finest detail. However, we soon find out that all of this planning and effort is to no avail as a terrorist manages to assassinate the president during his welcome speech in a small village square. It is at this point where the film starts to take shape, and we see the events leading up to the assassination and the panic over additional bombs being set off which follows in the next hour, which is told from the vantage point of 8 different characters. Piece by piece, their viewpoints add new elements to the plot line, giving twists and turns to keep you interested until they all culminate with all of the characters being involved in the final scenes. It is set up in a similar way to the TV series "24", as the action is shown in real time. With each character, you find out a little bit more about the motivation and aim of various characters.

        The cast was very strong, and there seemed to be familiar faces in every scene. Matthew Fox plays Kent Taylor, a US security agent in awe of old timer Thomas Barnes, played by Dennis Quaid, who previously saved President Ashton's (played by William Hurt) life. Barnes is fighting some fierce demons after that assassination attempt, and the summit is his return to frontline duty. Howard, played by Forrest Whittaker is a tourist, spending time away from his family working out how to right some wrongs. Personally, I hated his character, and thought he was extremely creepy just randomly speaking to strangers, who in real life would probably have run a million miles from him. He captures a lot of what happens on his camcorder. In addition, one of my personal favourite actresses, Sigourney Weaver, is a ruthless TV producer called Rex Brooks, who wants the best story at any cost because the whole world is focused on the events unfolding in front of her. You really don't get to know the characters very well, because in truth if you did, then a lot of the anticipation would be gone because you would be able to predict their actions, but it also means that you don't really form a opinion, or care whether they live or die.

        The director Pete Travis kept the pace of his debut film quick enough to hold the viewers attention for 90 minutes without confusing them, but not so fast that vital information passed by unnoticed. Coupled with the varying camera angles, this made the story feel fresh and new with each re-enactment. I felt the script from Barry L Levy, was as developed as it needed to be to prevent it becoming too hard to follow, and I particularly liked the fact that the storyline was revealed in small chunks. Budget must have been generous on the film as there are some huge impact bombs, car chases, and action sequences in the town where the film is set. I am sure CGI played a big part, but then that is par for the course nowadays. Admittedly, there are times you have to accept that in reality the decisions and actions from some of the characters would not be the same, but personally that does not bother me, as I don't demand authenticity and reality with everything I watch.

        It wasn't the critical success many had hoped it would be, and after seeing it, I am sure that it is the movie snobs who feel that the film is not intellectual enough which causes them to write so many negative reviews. Yes, it is gimmicky but so what? Sometimes with a whodunit film, short cuts need to be made. Personally, I hadn't heard much about the film before I went to see it, and I am glad that I hadn't because it would have spoiled the anticipation I felt as each scene unfolded. It is the perfect film after a long week at work to watch with a packet of popcorn and a glass (or three) of wine.

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        • More +
          18.05.2008 13:59
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          Summer in the bathroom

          It is no secret that I am a Lush junkie, and I am working my way through every product that they have on offer, starting with their bath ballistics range intially. I understand that many of you do not share my passion, but read on because I may have found the product for you. My latest purchase was the Happy Pill bath ballistic (I love long luxurious baths you see), and the reason I purchased it is simply because it looked so summery and bright, and the nice weather this last week has really lifted my mood, and I wanted that to carry on. I can think of nothing better than ending a busy day playing in the park and swimming with the kids, than having a hot bath filled with a Lush bath ballistic, a good book or magazine and half an hour peace. For me, that is a little piece of heaven, and that is exactly what I did last night.

          The Happy Pill is the coming together of the citrus fragrances contained in two popular Lush shower gels which they have developed. It is unlike other bath ballistics in that it is not the traditional round ball shape, this one is more of a flat circular tablet shaped product. It is literally designed to look like a happy pill. It costs £2.75, and I don't shy away from the fact that this is expensive for 1 bath, but for me the majority of the products I get from Lush are worth every penny, and I now find cheaper traditional bubble baths really harsh on my skin. One half of the pill is orange, and this is the mandarin fragrance found in the Olive branch shower gel. The other side is yellow, and this is the grapefruit element of Happy Hippy shower gel. The ingredients are grapefruit, bergamot, frankincense, orange, lemon and mandarin. Combined, these should give you a calm and relaxing experience.

          I broke the tablet up into four pieces to aid the dissolving process. The citrusy scent when the ballistic hits the hot water is perfect for fruity smell lovers such as me. The bicarbonate of soda gives it the fizz factor, and within 30 seconds my bath was glowing orange, and looked really inviting. I used the whole tablet, but I suppose you could halve it if you wanted to, although I am too greedy to even consider this. There was some foam, but if you want bubbles, then a bubble bar would be preferable to a bath ballistic. The water felt quite creamy, which I think is down to the olive oil. I felt really refreshed getting out of the bath, and think this would be perfect for a pre work shower, so one of my next purchases is sure to be either Happy Hippy or Olive branch shower gel. My skin felt clean, soft and refreshed, it was almost a shame to go to bed. The orange and lemon smell lingered for hours, and this morning when I got up I could still smell it, albeit not as strong. Also, there was no colour residue on the bath but I always give it quick wipe in any case.

          I would highly recommend this product, and it is not specifically targeted at the female Lush fan, as the scent will be loved by the guys also. As always if this has interested you then check out www.lush.co.uk and check out local stores or online ordering information.

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          • I Am Legend (DVD) / DVD / 50 Readings / 47 Ratings
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            12.05.2008 18:45
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            let down film made better by Smith

            When this film was released in 2007, I had no idea that it was in fact a remake. The screenplay was adapted from a novel by Richard Matheson, which was written in 1954. It was first seen on the big screen in 1964's "The Last Man On Earth", and then again in 1971's "Omega Man". Over 25 years later, reverting to the original title of the book, Will Smith stars in director Francis Lawrence's futuristic take on "I Am Legend". Smith is now an actor in possession of an Oscar, and having to carry the weight of this film alone was always going to prove to be a huge test. Personally, I like Smith, but I prefer his more comedic side, as to date I have not been convinced that he can play it totally straight, and as Robert Neville, a sole survivor of a viral epidemic living in New York, Smith needs to do just that, because jokes have no place here.

            The film starts with a mammoth revelation that a cure has been found for cancer, based on the measles virus. The person behind this discovery, is the aptly named Dr Krippen, played by Emma Thomson. Fast forward 3 years to 2012, and it is soon clear that all is not well. This element of the story is told through flashbacks, and we see that the so called cure has come close to wiping out human existence. We see Neville sending his wife and child to what he hopes is a safe place, while he stays back with only the family dog Sam for company. The safe place never materialised, and Neville deals with this guilt on a daily basis. We soon discover that zombies rule after dark and during the day, military scientist Neville is on the hunt for the cure that will bring life back to some sort of normality. I wonder if this was really the vision Matheson had over 50 years ago.

            I always find the empty streets of a main city such as New York (Vanilla Sky) or London (28 Days Later) really eerie, and they really strengthen the impact of the loneliness and loss felt by the survivor(s). The lack of music in these scenes is also a clever move from the director, as it adds to ambience. The take on how the city would look without the workers who take care of it daily was interesting....would weeds really come up through the cracks in the pavements? We see Neville make a daily radio broadcast for any fellow survivors, then going about his daily life. It is hard to even imagine how stifled you would feel, even though you had all of the space to yourself. To be honest, I believe someone in this position would most likely go insane, and not be as disciplined and focused for the length of time this character is. There are glimpses of that when he has full conversations with mannequins, but he does not stay in this mindset for long. For much of the film, Smith is alone until he meets fellow survivor Alice (Anna Braga). They have both escaped the virus as they are immune, and the key to Neville's research is discovering where and how people become immune, hence the need to use a lot of his blood to carry out these tests.

            In terms of the film being a scary thriller, I felt it lacked in the scare element. There was only a brief revelation which made me jump slightly but other than that there was nothing visual, and certainly no mind games designed to scare you. That aside, the special effects and CGI where the zombies are concerned are very clever. Running at 1 hour 41 minutes, the film left me feeling a little cheated and disappointed. It was nothing to do with Smith's performance, which was very watchable, and which I thoroughly enjoyed. He is not the typical action hero, and he plays the emotion of the role well. It was the film as a whole, and more specifically the rushed and most unsatisfying ending. The pace just felt too slow, and it plodded through to the without really making me think or form much of an opinion. The ending came so out of the blue, it was like the writers got bored and decided to down tools! However, as the saying "not if you were the last man on earth" does not apply in this case, because Smith is a very fine specimen, so last man or not he would have a chance with me!!!!

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            • More +
              03.05.2008 12:49
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              Japanese influenced bath ballistic

              Here I am again with my weekly Lush product test. I am still sticking with the bath ballistics, and wonder if any can come close to how much I loved Avobath last week. This week, the product that grabbed my attention was the Sakura bath ballistic, which is the Japanese name for cherry blossom. When I bought this the local shop was quiet so I was able to have a chat with the assistant about the ingredients. He told me that it included gardenia, jasmine, lemon oil, mimosa and orange blossom (obviously with the standard baking soda for the fizz). I do prefer a fruity scent over something which is too floral, so I thought the balance between the two would make this a good choice for me. This is one of the larger size ballistics and is slightly smaller than a tennis ball weighing approximately 200g, but it has a delicate appearance. The one I picked seemed quite cream in colour compared to some of the others which looked more of a pure white colour. It then has additional aqua and cerise colours embedded into which are coloured pieces of sea salt. The guy in the shop said these were not an accidental addition, and were deliberately placed to reflect the products name, as the colours were there to represent the Cherry Blossom. I can see where the idea comes from but if I had not been told I would not have made the connection, to me, it was purely a cosmetic design.

              I love my Friday night bath. It is end of a normally busy and sometimes stressful week, but I have got into the habit of having a new Lush product to try out, and once the kids are bathed and put to bed, I head off to my sanctuary with a magazine and plenty of time to have a good soak. I like my bath hot, and always add the ballistic when the water is running. The fizz on this one was very noticeable and so was the fragrance, which rather than being a balance of fruit and flower, was completely flowery. It was like having my nose in a large bouquet and I would probably only use half next time to reduce this effect. There was no colouring of the water this time, but as it was a mostly colourless ballistic I thought I would get cloudy water at best. Also for those glitter haters amongst you, you will be pleased to know that this is a glitter free zone! As I got into the bath and got closer to the water, a lemon scent fought it's way through the freesia type scent given off by the mixture of oils, and that was lovely. The water felt like it was cushioning me and exfoliating powers of the sea salt meant that my skin felt renewed on exiting the bath. The scent did linger in the bathroom overnight, but on my skin it disappeared almost immediately, which was slightly disappointing. There is no visible residue to clean off the bath, but I always give the bath a quick wipe just to make sure. I would buy it again if some of my favourites were not available, purely because the flowery scent would not be my first choice, but I am sure for a lot of people that would make it the first product they go for. It is currently priced at £2.85 and can be purchased from your local Lush store or from www.lush.co.uk

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              • Look Magazine / Magazine / Newspaper / 44 Readings / 39 Ratings
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                27.04.2008 13:20
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                Weekly fashion mag

                I read Look because I received an offer to have it for £1 for 6 issues, which is a pretty good saving as it normally costs £1.40 per week. Anyone who knows me knows that I buy far too many magazines, but I can think of nothing better than a long bath with a newly bought magazine. I always have a slight feeling of excitement when it is a brand new edition. Sad I know, but sometimes it is just nice to disappear into the world of celebrity. Look is all about the glamour really. It is brightly coloured, always has an in the news celebrity on the cover, and the photographs are bright and eye catching. It is a weekly magazine which focuses heavily on fashion, cosmetics and celebrities, with a couple of real life stories just to try and balance the content I think. The articles are generally short and snappy meaning that the magazine flows very quickly. The fashion items are a must for anyone wanting to keep their finger on the pulse of what is in vogue, and generally this includes the high street with the odd high cost designer item thrown in for good measure. There are also small sections dedicated to horoscopes, problems and current TV, book and film reviews.

                To give you some more detail, I am going through the magazine from the end of March which had a picture of Amy Winehouse with the headline "6 months to live.....I just can't give up drugs". Turning over there is always an upbeat intro from Ali Hall the editor, who is generally salivating over some shoes or a handbag she has seen in one of the shoots. Following on from that is "This Week We Need" which included a £2.50 belt from Primark and a £299 pair of Chloe gold sandals. As with any decent fasion/celebrity magazine, there is always a line up of famous people in various dresses being anonymously critiqued. Then it moves onto the headline story where not surprisingly, you find that Amy Winehouse has not been given 6 months to live, in fact it is a "friend" who says her current antics could see her dead within that time. Well...I could have given the magazine that gem of information and I have never even met Ms Winehouse!

                Each week there is the Look interview, and this week it was Christina Aguilera. The questions are well thought out and not the standard dross such as "who last saw you naked". Moving on from there, we get to have a look at the homes of Jessica Alba, Seal & Heidi Klum and Jennifer Anniston. Here there are no huge revelations, as they are sprawling mansions with all the mod cons. Carrying on the theme of celebrity watching, there is always a page called "Love Lives" where reported new couples are posted, any divorces or splits are mulled over and relationships generally put under the spotlight. This week we had Lewis Hamilton hooking up with Danii Minogue and Pamela Anderson's latest conquest. After this, it is all about the fashion...on trend jeans, desirable sunglasses, how to look like model Agynes Deyn (no thanks!) and the best of patchwork handbags currently on sale. The real life stories are well written and deal with the subject matter carefully. One of them always tends to follow a story from a foreign country, and this week it was female Russian bodyguards.

                Without a doubt I am not this magazine's target audience. I am a 30 something working mum, who needs to lose a few pounds and could never pull off the latest Kate Moss collection at Top Shop......those days are long gone! At a guess, I would say the target audience are 20-30 year olds with generous disposable income or parents who should really know better!! Once my 6 issues have been delivered, I will be cancelling the subscription as there is just not enough reading in this magazine to make me want to have it on a weekly basis. However, if you do then you can call 0845 676 7778 and quote 24 which may get you a free gift, or visit www.look.co.uk/charles, which again may get you a Charles Worthington gift set when you subscribe.

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                • Lush Avobath / Bath & Shower / 37 Readings / 37 Ratings
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                  26.04.2008 15:17
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                  My love affair starts again with this winner

                  In my quest to fall back in love with Lush products I am working my way through the range of bath ballistics, and this time round I chose the Avobath bath ballistic, which Lush claim is the "antidote to unhappy days". No particular reason, other than I do like Avocado, albeit the taste and not so much the smell. However, on picking this one up, it has a slight fruity fragrance which I am sure is down to the oils, as avocado doesn't have that pungent a smell in my opinion. On returning home, I did some research and discovered that this product includes the expected avocado and base olive oil, with the additional fragrance coming from the inclusion of lemongrass, bergamot and rosewood oil. I really love bergamot and am hunting for perfumes which have it in.

                  Not unexpectedly, the ballistic is green in colour, and about the size of a cricket ball with the Lush logo carved out of the top. There are no "bits" in this ballistic which a lot of people find irritating rather than them being a positive feature, there is a small amount of glitter though. As with most Lush products, they do work out expensive on a per bath basis, but for a treat I can justify the cost no problem. To be honest sometimes, half of a bath ballistic is enough for one bath if you want a more subtle fragrance. The normally involves me wrapping it in a flannel and dropping it hard onto the floor to make it break in two. Other people use razor blades but I value my finger ends so I will perservere with my current method. Anyway, I used the full ballistic last night, and as soon as it hit the water, the fruity smell coming from the now bubbly mint green water seemed to fill my bathroom, and it was gorgeous. It would be perfect for an invigorating pre work morning bath as I felt like my senses were woken up by the fragrance. With the colour of the water and the scent, my bathroom felt almost tropical.

                  As soon as I got into the bath I could feel the oils covering my skin, but when I got out my skin felt really soft as opposed to just oily which was lovely. I tend to have very dry and sometimes painful elbows which defy even the best body lotions, but I could feel a slight improvement in how they felt, which on reading more is down to the lemongrass and avocado, which also claim to leave you feeling energised, and that claim was most certainly backed up with how on felt. In fact, I felt more like hitting the town than hitting the sack! The fragrance also lingered, and if Lush could bottle this it would be a top seller I am sure.

                  The bath was easy to clean afterwards and other than the odd speck of glitter there was no residue. This product is a winner for me, and has cemented my feelings for Lush and it's products. Yes they make be some duff ones along the way, but then I come across a gem like this and my faith is restored. Avobath will be a regular in my bathroom from now on. It weighs 180g and costs £2.60 and is available from your local Lush store or by ordering from www.lush.co.uk.

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                  • You, Me and Dupree (HD DVD) / DVD / 47 Readings / 45 Ratings
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                    19.04.2008 17:09
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                    Comedy which lacks comedy!

                    When I was much younger I was a fan of the so called "Brat Pack", which at the time included Matt Dillon. Admittedly, he is not the world's greatest actor but I have always been drawn to films he has starred in and he is very easy on the eye. In fact, he has matured like a fine wine, and for me tops the likes of Tom Cruise in the looks department. Anyway, letching over, that sort of explains what drew me to "You, Me & Dupree", because I am not particularly a fan of the other stars Owen Wilson and Kate Hudson. I find Hudson bland, and a more watered down version of her mother, whilst I just cannot understand the huge attraction with Owen Wilson. He is an acceptable right hand man to the likes of Vince Vaughan, but he is not a leading man in my eyes. He lacks the charisma and the humility to make me want to watch him.

                    Wilson stars as Randolph Dupree, a friendly but childlike character who due to bad decisions, bad planning and the luck that comes with that he is homeless. He tries to sleep in the local bar but the customers soon take umbridge at that. The crux of it is that he took a week off for his best friend's wedding and lost his job, so said friend Karl Peterson (Dillon) invites him to crash at his house, which considering he is a newlywed, his wife Molly (Hudson) does not protest as much as I would have in that situation. Dupree is the ultimate freeloader and liberty taker. This man even rerecords the Peterson's answerphone message the same day that he moves in. Overcoming initial settling in issues such as Dupree sleeping naked on their new sofas, Molly soon starts to get used to having Dupree around, especially as Karl fails to balance married life with ambition and workload, especially now he is employed in Molly's father's company.

                    Dupree starts to fill the gap of companion and confidante which Molly thought she would get when she married Karl. Everyone seems to think having Dupree around is a good thing until there is an accident when he is "entertaining" a lady friend, and the Peterson's are left to pick up the pieces. From this point on, the story becomes painfully predictable and lacking in comedic value. The bodily function jokes have been done time and time again, and by actors with much more impressive comic timing.
                    This film is billed as a comedy, and I did let out the odd snigger or giggle, but not once did I find myself truly laughing at a joke or a one liner. The characters are bland that I had no interest or connection with them. Hudson smiles more than she acts, and an unusually uptight Dillon seems content to just take a back seat, when really he is much better than that. I have seen "Wedding Crashers" and didn't think Wilson did anything particularly spectacular there either. He is falling into the stereotype of choosing roles which are down on their luck but loveable rogues, however the life of these types of characters is notoriously short, because soon someone younger (especially as Wilson looks aged now) and much prettier will come along to take those parts. The inclusion of Michael Douglas as Molly's dad was a bit bemusing, and almost certainly an unnecessary storyline, as rather than entertain, it just irritated me, and seemed to have no intent or direction. He seems intent on breaking up his daughter's marriage when in reality he would have done all of this pre ceremony if he felt as strongly about Karl as he is meant to. Seth Rogen has a bit part as Dupree and Karl's friend.

                    Running at 1 hour 50 minutes, my overall feeling about the film is that it is dull and just too predictable.

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                    • More +
                      13.04.2008 13:09
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                      Let down product from Lush

                      I know I have been selfish with my choice of Lush products lately, so on my visit last week, I picked up the Ickle Baby Bath Ballistic for my daughters. My 8 year old uses a lot of the main range of Lush products, but with my 3 year old I tend be more wary of using anything in her bath which could cause her to slip of may be too strong for her skin. Also the cost of the products comes into it, a £3+ product just chucked into the bath would not be appreciated by my daughters, so as Ickle Baby is priced at £1 it is a great alternative, and still allows them to feel that they are having a grown up bath. This product is not a traditional ball shaped bath ballistic, it is a flat sun shaped product with a smily face etched onto it, and is roughly 30g in weight compared to 200g+ for the standard ballistics. I have looked around for something to compare to in size, and the nearest I have come is a hob nob biscuit!!! The initial fragrance that is apparent is lavender, but the shop assistant informed that it also included chamomile and sandalwood oil, all which combine to give a very subtle but pleasant scent. The reason this product is targeted at children is that sandalwood is a mild sedative, so is perfect with the relaxing properties of the other oils to wind your children down and prepare them for a calm and restful bedtime.

                      On putting Ickle Baby in the bath there is a satisfying fizz which never fails to excite the children. There is no change to the colour of the water, and there is no aroma once the ballistic had melted. I was a little disappointed and so were the girls who complained at the lack of colour and bubbles. To them it felt like a plain water bath which will just not do. The bath was not slippy and when they got out of the bath there was very little residue, and the girls' skin did not feel or smell any different. As for the calming influence of the bath bomb, I am not convinced as my girls seemed the same as they normally do, but then bedtime is not a battle in our house anyway, so maybe I am looking for improvements where they are not needed. The next morning their skin felt quite scaly and dry, and my eldest who suffers from excema had a pretty bad flare up which I would have to put down to the lavender which I have suspected in the past has irritated her skin, but now that is confirmed.

                      Even if my children's skin had been fine, this is a product I would not buy again. It wasn't fun, it didn't live up to it's claims, and frankly they wanted colour and bubbles, which I can get from so many other products.

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                      • Bad Boys II (DVD) / DVD / 38 Readings / 37 Ratings
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                        12.04.2008 13:11
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                        Buddy cop action packed film

                        Another film which I was prompted to revisit after hearing it mentioned in "Hot Fuzz" was 2003 release Bad Boys II. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence reunite for the follow up to the 1995 buddy cop success Bad Boys (which I loved), and for good measure director Michael Bay and producer Jerry Bruckheimer are along for the brash action packed ride. Smith plays pampered trust fund Miami drugs cop Mike Lowrey, and Lawrence is his ever suffering partner, devoted but dramatic family man Marcus Burnett. In the first film, we saw them take on the bad guys and win. In this second film, they are recruited to a special task force with the purpose of stemming the ever increasing flow of drugs into Miami, especially a new designer ecstasy tablet. In their usual crass way, they make progress in their investigation, but nothing goes to plan and they find themselves right in the middle a new Cuban drug lord's empire, and he is someone who will kill anyone who he deems to be a threat to his grand plan, which explains how he has the Russian Mafia as one of his enemies. Evil Johnny Tapia played by Jordi Molla, is a typical gangster who loves his family but hates every other human and follows his brief to the letter. He and his fellow new age dealers are increasingly intelligent and have access to more hi tech methods of trafficking which make them a formidable enemy. Tapia is someone the pair have tried to catch numerous times before now, so there is a history between them which makes their fight against each other even more bitter.

                        The action with the partners interrupting a KKK gathering. Their plan is that they go in with back up, but as with previous outings, the pair go off on their own and when there is a problem with the radio contact, Mike and Marcus are left to fight it out with the rather hostile gathering. Tapia gets wind of this and starts to speed up the rate at which he is moving his drugs around so the duo are faced with a race against time, to find the drugs and stop Tapia fleeing back to Cuba when his job is done. The other story is that of the blossoming romance between Mike and Syd, played by Gabrielle Union. They try to keep their meetings under wraps as she is Marcus' sister, but unbeknown to both of them, she is an undercover Drug Enforcement Officer. Mike is more suave than Marcus, and his reaction when he finds out what is going on is the perfect over protective brother. As with Tea Leoni's character in the first film, Syd becomes an added complication to their task when they bad guys use her as a pawn. Ultimately, even predictably, it comes down to the pair to rescue her, and they do it with lots of noise and blood to match. The stunts are exactly what you would expect from Michael Bay and his keen eye for detail, and for me it was the action scenes where the film really comes alive. The studio bosses obviously thought the huge outlay on special effect and action sequences would pay dividend, and it certainly did. As a viewer you do have to suspend disbelief, but that is par for the course with this style of film.

                        The lead actors reprise their roles from the first film well, and Union shows that the ladies can kick ass when needed. She has a pleasant acting style, but was never meant to outshine the lead actors. Smith and Lawrence have a very natural on screen chemistry and work off each other very successfully with a well balanced comedic angle also. It was refreshing to see their relationship opened up a little more in this film. Newcomer Molla plays the menacing gangster well, and I am sure ticked all of the boxes in his brief, but in reality, he could have been played by a hundred similar actors. For me, the talent of Therese Randale, who plays Marcus' wife is under rated, and I would have liked to have seen more of her. It falls slightly short of the first film, just because they were new characters and their escapades were new, with this film, at times it felt like more of the same. This series of films bears more than a passing resemblance to Lethal Weapon, but somewhere they fall short, and I think that is the relationship between the two characters, they just don't gel in the same way, and at times there is too much showboating. It is one of those films that you can just sit back and let it shallowly entertain you for a short time, a real guilty sin. It won't challenge your thinking, but it is a perfectly pleasing way to waste a couple of hours, although at two hours twenty six, it is about 30 minutes too long.

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                        • More +
                          07.04.2008 22:24
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                          My new favourite Lush product

                          After my bad experience with Haagenbath, I still felt in the need for some pampering so headed off to my local Lush store to try a product I had not tried before. I told the assistant in the store the problems I had with Haagenbath, so she recommended the Lush Blackberry Bath Ballistic. It was one of the larger size (orange size) bath ballistics and cost £2.35. Admittedly, I could get bath products at a cheaper price, but there is just something about Lush products which keep me loyal. This ballistic is a violet rather than deep purple colour with the word BOMB etched on the top, and the scent is less blackberry and more parma violet sweets, which I absolutely love. It is aimed to raise your spirits, which after a prolonged illness I was in need of, and the girl assured me that I would feel relaxed after using it. They are so nice those girls and guys in the Lush shops, I always end up buying more than I intended to. I need to be a little bit more aware of their covert selling techniques I feel as they get me everytime. I am now going to try and work my way through every single Lush product that they stock, so as much as that will make some of you cringe, there will be lots more Lush reviews heading your way.

                          Last night, I added the whole ballistic to my hot running water, and as expected it fizzed up nicely. The more it dissolved, the deeper the purple colour of the water was, but it was the gorgeous aroma that filled my bathroom that I was most pleased with. It is more flowery (lilac or violet) than it is fruity (blackberry), but it is really sweet which was gorgeous, and on reading the ingredients in the free Lush magazine, I would put this down to the inclusion of the essential oil Bergamot. On getting in the bath, I felt that the aroma engulfed me, and I relaxed almost immediately. I felt the light moisturising film settle onto my skin really quickly and it was a lovely relaxing experience, so much so I kept topping up my bath with hot water so I could stay in longer! Although my skin felt softer, this ballistic does not leave an oily film over the top of the water as some of the others do. For me, I am not too bothered, but reading some reviews, there are a lot of oily water haters! Due to this, my skin did not feel moisturised after the bath and I did need to add body lotion, but the ballistic did not claim to have moisturising qualities so I can hardly mark it down for that.

                          On getting out the bath, my phone rang and I ended up engrossed in an hour long conversation, and it wasn't until I finished that conversation I realised that the bath water had been in for 2 hours, so would the product have stained my white bath? I am pleased to say that I let the water out, quickly wiped around with a cloth and there was no residue or miscolouring. There is no added glitter or flowers with this product so that may be one of the reasons why it was easy to clean. The scent stayed in the bathroom for quite a while and was still apparent this morning. I personally would take a Lush product over an air freshener any day. My daughter also bought the same bath ballistic and when she used hers, there was a small piece of paper inside but she threw it away before telling me what was on it. Alas, there was no such paper in my ballistic so I can only presume it was a one off.

                          I did read a note of caution in a Lush magazine saying to use bath ballistics within three months to ensure maximum fizz....three months...they should be so lucky, mine barely last 3 days. I would highly recommend this bath ballistic and it will be one I will be treating myself to very soon. It is the perfect Sunday night treat to prepare you for the week ahead. This can be bought on www.lush.co.uk or any of their stores nationwide.

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                          • Point Break (DVD) / DVD / 38 Readings / 36 Ratings
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                            06.04.2008 14:28
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                            High adrenaline action movie

                            After recently reviewing Hot Fuzz where they are numerous references to Point Break, I decided that it was time to watch the film again, more to refresh my memory for this review rather than to decide whether or not I like it. I was shocked to see that it was actually released 17 years ago in 1991. The film opens with shots of a policeman in a firing range and a surfer out at sea, so the expectation is set that there will be a link between the two.

                            The comically named Johnny Utah, played by Keanu Reeves, is a 25 year old ex footballer who has been recently inducted into the FBI and moves to Los Angeles to start his new job. As with most films of this type, the excitable, energetic rookie is placed with the cynical, overweight detective, Angelo Pappas, played on this occasion by Gary Busey. As expected, it is not long before a case comes their way, and they are given the job of catching the team behind a number of bank robberies, in fact it is a case Pappas has been trying to crack alone for three years, in which time they have been successful in robbing 28 banks. All of the robberies have been connected as the gang wear rubber American presidents masks, hence their name "The Ex Presidents", and their organisation and success are down to precision timing and apparent lack of greed as they never hit the safes for money, only the cash desks. As the case progresses, the FBI decide that Utah must go undercover as a surfer to become part of the gang they believe to be responsible for the crimes. His ultimate goal is to gain the trust of the gang leader Bohdi played by Patrick Swayze.

                            Predictably, Utah finds it increasingly difficult to separate work and personal life, and finds himself becoming too involved in the group and more specifically with individuals within the group. He finds himself drawn to Tyler played by Lori Petty, who is not what she seems. She initially helps Utah to learn the art of surfing and is his link to the cliquey group, but his feelings become too strong to switch on and off. However, it is when he is accepted by Bohdi that his morals and loyalty are brought into question. They are adrenaline junkies and the excitement of their lives soon becomes too hard to resist, because deep down, Utah is a natural adrenaline junkie. Then he has to answer the million dollar question.......Can he turn in the people he has come to feel a bond with and understand their motives? At this point we are treat to high speed, high octane chases in cars, on foot and even in the sea and air. The majority of the action does focus around surfing, but even if you are not a fan of this hobby it won't affect your viewing pleasure. The soundtrack adds to the rush, and includes tracks from lesser known artists but ones which fit the scenery so well.

                            Even though so much of the film is predictable, it still makes for an enjoyable viewing experience, and director Kathryn Bigelow should take the majority of credit for this. The outdoor scenes are brilliantly shot and really enhance the experience. Also the fast pace ensures the viewer does not have a chance to tire and the constant action keeps you hooked. Bigelow also ensures that even though the viewer could list a number of weaknesses of the film, they are overlooked by taking them along for the ride. The final scenes are breathtaking and have you holding your breath in anticipation. As I have already mentioned, the film was released in 1991, but it has stood the test of time well. It was made to be cool, and even now it still comes across that way.
                            Reeves does what he does best. He has a pretty face, but his characters never really have enough balls to be the person they want to be. This was his first real attempt at some serious acting, and he did ok, he was less wooden than in previous roles, but it would take a further three years, and the release of "Speed" before he gained the fame he has today. Swayze is the triumph of the film, and proves he is a versatile actor who I believe receives an unfair press too often. If rumour is to be believed, he actually did all of his stunts in this film, and was seriously injured during one of them. The rest of the supporting cast such as Busey and Lori Petty do what is expected of them, although Petty's voice is so irritating that I would hate to watch a film where she was the lead character. It sounds like she has had a gulp of helium before every sentence.

                            I loved the film and would recommend it for a Sunday afternoon such as today to combat the snowy weather with the beautiful Californian scenery which is filmed with flair, energy and style.

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                            • Lush Haagenbath / Archive Lifestyle / 50 Readings / 49 Ratings
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                              27.03.2008 22:14
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                              Not one of Lush's best offerings

                              I had a brief stay in hospital this week after having an allergic reaction to some antibiotics. On my return home, knowing how much I adore Lush products, my mum had left a little parcel for me containing Haagenbath bath ballistic. This is one of the wide range of bath bombs produced by Lush, and one that I have never tried. I have not seen it that often in my local store to be honest, so thought it may not be one of their most popular products. I actually found out today that my mum was sent it from Ohio where she has a friend, but as she has an aversion to Lush, she knew I would give it a good, albeit temporary home. I do not think it is available in this country. Glad to be home, I took myself off to the bathroom with a new book, fluffy towel and my new bath bomb....truthfully my idea of bliss, and I did not plan to reappear for at least an hour.

                              I am sure any regular readers here will know that bath ballistics are cricket ball size bath bombs, which when added to water bubble and fizz as one of the main ingredients is Bicarbonate of Soda. Then depending on which one you have selected, there will be a mixture of divine oils and natural ingredients. They have many uses, mainly relaxation, but also pampering for the skin due to the moisturising qualities in a lot of the range, they also generally smell gorgeous and change the colour of your bath (*possibly permanently if you do not clean your bath post soak). The Haagenbath is bright pink with noticeable brown flecks throughout, which are actually flakes of chocolate. The appearance and name made me think I was in for a creamy strawberry bath, but my nose detected mint which initially concerned me as I find mint quite a medicinal scent. On adding the ball to the bath, the colour immediately changed to pink and this deepened to a cerise colour once it had all dissolved. However, this is where things started to go downhill as the minty smell became less and less subtle, and more overpowering. Where was the familiar cocoa scent or even a whiff of chocolate? Nowhere to be smelled. It was not good, and I did consider emptying the bath and starting again.

                              I only managed 5 minutes before I had to get out which has never ever happened to me before with any products from Lush. What a huge disappointment, and it also means I really cannot tell you if my skin benefitted. The scent lingered for ages and made it's way into my bedroom so I had to sleep with my windows open that night. I am not overreacting either, even my husband commented on it and asked if I had been painting the walls with toothpaste!!!! Sorry not for me, so it may be a good job it does not seem to be openly available here.

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                                22.03.2008 10:39
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                                Brit comedy with a difference

                                As a rule, I am often disappointed by British comedies. So frequently they rely on the lead character being a bumbling idiot (see most Hugh Grant roles), but that format was tired and boring a long time ago. "Shaun Of The Dead" was the opposite of that, and it was hugely successful and well received by the critics. A lot of this is down to the fact that it was more americanised than the standard Brit comedy. "Hot Fuzz" sees the return of the team behind that film, and they are keen to prove that comedy can combine action with a touch of core and still be really funny. Simon Pegg teams up with Nick Frost, and his co-writer Edgar Wright takes the directorial reins of this parody of American buddy cop films.

                                Pegg stars as Nicholas Angel, a highly motivated and focused London policeman whose girlfriend has left him for another man. He makes so many arrests he makes the rest of The Met look bad. In order to save face, his superiors relocate him to rural sleepy Sandford, where they believe there will be no crime for him to attend to......or so they think! He gets right into the thick of the action immediately by clearing the local pub of the underage drinkers, and then his first meeting with his new partner Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), sees him locking him up for drink driving! As if that is not bad enough for Angel, he then discovers that the decided punishment for this is that Danny must buy all of his colleagues cake or ice cream, and that is clearly not justice in Angel's book, but certainly explains the low crime rate in the proudly acclaimed "Sandford - Village Of the Year"......they are barely reported even if they do occur as the locals believe in the "greater good", which you discover later.

                                On his first day, he is giving the mundane task of catching a missing swan, so he delves a bit deeper into the local happenings, they are lot of unexplained "accidents" happening in this apparently peaceful hamlet, and Angel's suspicion is aroused. His enquiries are met with disdain from the locals including his boss and Danny's father, Frank Butterman, played by Jim Broadbent, who are adamant that he is reading too much into the incidents due to his Met police background. Angel is not put off and persuades his partner to work with him.There are a lot of stories happening alongside the main plotline. Angel shows the wayward Butterman how to be a successful and useful police officer, when his only previous point of reference was Will Smith in Bad Boys II or Patrick Swayze in Point Break. Initially Butterman is so in awe of Angel, and when he asks him if he has ever fired a gun while jumping sideways through the air, or if it's true that if you shoot at a special spot in the brain it will make the head spectacularly explode, I started to really understand how naive this character is. He is desperate for more action in his life, so really doesn't need much encouragement from Angel to start flying around in their police car and having gunfights before they catch the villains. Their relationship develops and deepens throughout the film, and replaces any traditional love story you would normally find. The chemistry between the two of them is unmistakable, and this is what makes the comic timing happen with ease. I won't spoil the film by telling you what they uncover, but it was well thought out and extremely well written.

                                The cast boasts some big names including Broadbent, Cate Blanchett (blink and you miss her), Peter Jackson and Timothy Dalton (who hams it up big time), but there will be a familiar face in nearly every scene. To me, this shows the level of respect that Pegg and Wright have when successful actors willingly take bit parts in films which will do nothing to enhance their profiles. I really enjoyed the film and the many witty one liners. There is humour (not all obvious either), action, special effects and even some gore in there, so no matter what your preferred genre is there should be plenty in this film for you. I am sure I missed a lot of the humour whilst laughing so hard, so I will have to watch the film again soon. It would have been really easy for Pegg to overdo this character and make him somewhat unbelievable, but he gets the balance just right, even in the most outlandish scenes in the outrageous pantomime meets Miami Vice style shoot out which bring the film to a close just on 2 hours.
                                The soundtrack compliments the film well, and tracks such as "Caught by the Fuzz" by Supergrass add energy to the scenes they are carefully chosen to compliment.

                                This film comes highly recommended by me and I am sure it will be one you want to watch again.

                                +++This is the film only review as I watched it on Sky Movies not the DVD version.

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                                  16.03.2008 10:10
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                                  Smooth skin and lovely aroma

                                  My daughters both suffer from dry skin with the eldest having had severe eczema when she was younger, so bad at times her full body had to be covered with bandages bathed in zinc ointment. They are still children who want to put things in their baths to make bubbles, change colour or smell, so I have to be extremely careful what I allow them to have. In the past I have tried bath foams targeted at dry skins sufferers, but their skin always feels slightly scaly afterwards which to me indicates that the moisture has been stripped from their skin. I am a huge Lush fan, and on my last visit to stock up on goodies I was chatting to the assistant about the girls' skin conditions, and she recommended a few products, one of them being the Butterball bath ballistic. It is one of the more basic ballistics with no extras such as glitter or flowers etc, so I was confident that less was certainly more in this case. I love bringing Lush products home and setting them out in the bathroom as the various fragrances are better than any air freshener you can buy, this was no exception.

                                  My daughters wanted to have their bath the same night I bought the Butterball. The solid ball was added to the bath with much excitement, and almost immediately the scent of Vanilla was wafting around the bathroom. Be careful at this point though, as you need to run the hot water first to get the ball fizzing up and dissolving in the bath, so I always make the children stand back and throw the pieces of the ball that I have broken up for them. Half of a butterball is enough for the children as I do not want the oils in the ball to make the bath too slippy. It is one of the smaller bath ballistics so for the ultimate pamper I would add the full one for me, but then I am greedy! After the initial fizz, the ball turns the water in the bath a pale cloudy colour, and the scent intensifies but is never overpowering. The slivers of cocoa butter also rise to the surface of the water and sit on the top, which is great for maximising contact with the skin.

                                  When it was time to come out of the bath, their skin felt soft, and there was certainly a film of moisture across their skin which I am sure is the cocoa butter. I did not apply their normal creams that night and neither of them had any itching during the night, so I will certainly be buying this again, and I think using this once a week will really benefit the girls, but I will definitely have to buy one for me too.

                                  As with the majority of Lush products, there is some residue left in your bath, but a quick wipe around with a damp cloth soon remedies this as long as you do it straight after the bath and not give it time to set. The lingering scent in the bathroom after the bath was a musky one, and it was really pleasant.

                                  The Butterball costs £1.95 for the 95g ball and you can buy it from your local store or www.lush.co.uk

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